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... but I


The bas-relief in bronze ye promised me, Those Pans and Nymphs ye wot of, and

perchance Some tripod, thyrsus, with a vase or so, The Saviour at his sermon on the mount, Saint Praxed in a glory, and one Pan 60 Ready to twitch the Nymph's last garment

off, And Moses with the tables

know Ye mark me not! What do they whisper

thee, Child of my bowels, Anselm? Ah, ye hope To revel down my villas while I gasp Bricked o'er with beggar's mouldy traver

tine Which Gandolf from his tomb-top

chuckles at! Nay, boys, ye love me all of jasper,

then! 'Tis jasper ye stand pledged to, lest I

grieve My bath must needs be left behind,

alas! One block, pure green as a pistachio-nut: There's plenty jasper somewhere in the

world And have I not Saint Praxed's ear to pray Horses for ye, and brown Greek manu

scripts, And mistresses with great smooth marbly limbs?

75 That's if ye carve my epitaph aright: Choice Latin, picked phrase, Tully's every

word, No gaudy ware like Gandolf's second

line Tully, my masters? Ulpian serves his


I fold my arms as if they clasped a crook, And stretch my feet forth straight as stone

can point, And let the bedclothes, for a mortcloth,

drop Into great laps and folds of sculptor's

work: And as yon tapers dwindle, and strange

thoughts Grow, with a certain humming in my ears, About the life before I lived this life, And this life too,

- popes, cardinals, and priests, Saint Praxed at his sermon on the mount, 95 Your tall pale mother with her talking

eyes, And new-found agate urns as fresh as day, And marble's language, Latin pure, dis

creet Aha, ELUCESCEBAT quoth our friend? No Tully, said I : Ulpian at the best! Evil and brief hath been my pilgrimage! All lapis, all, sons! Else I give the Pope My villas! Will ye ever eat my heart? Ever your eyes were as a lizard's quick, They glitter like your mother's for my

soul: Or ye would heighten my impoverished

frieze, Piece out its starved design, and fill my




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ye wish it


And then how I shall lie through cen

turies, And hear the blessed mutter of the mass, And see God made and eaten all day long, And feel the steady candle-fame, and taste Good strong thick stupefying incense

smoke! For as I lie here, hours of the dead night, 85 Dying in state and by such slow degrees,

There, leave me, there! For ye have stabbed me with ingratitude To death

- God, ye wish it! Stone Gritstone, a-crumble! Clammy squares

which sweat As if the corpse they keep were oozing

through And no more lapis to delight the world! Well, go! I bless ye. Fewer tapers there,






But in a
row: and, going,

turn your

I pulled up the spear that obstructed, and backs

under I stooped. Ay, like departing altar-ministrants, Hands and knees on the slippery grassAnd leave me in my church, the church for patch, all withered and gone, peace,

That extends to the second enclosure, I That I may watch at leisure if he leers,

groped my way on Old Gandolf, at me, from his onion Till I felt where the foldskirts fly open. stone,

Then once more I prayed, As still he envied me, so fair she was! 125 And opened the foldskirts and entered, and

was not afraid SAUL

But spoke, “Here is David, thy servant!" (1845, 1855)

And no voice replied.
At the first I saw naught but the black-

ness; but soon I descried Said Abner, "At last thou art come! Ere A som ning more black than the blackness, I tell, ere thou speak,

the vast, the upright Kiss my cheek, wish me well!” Then I

Main prop which sustains the pavilion; wished it, and did kiss his cheek.

and slow into sight And he: Since the King, O my friend, for Grew a figure against it, gigantic and thy countenance sent,

blackest of all: Neither drunken nor eaten have we; nor Then a sunbeam, that burst through the until from his tent

tent-roof, showed Saul. Thou return with the joyful assurance the King liveth yet,

5 Shall our lip with the honey be bright, with

He stood as the water be wet.

erect as that tent-prop, For out of the black mid-tent's silence, a

both arms stretched out wide space of three days,

On the great cross-support in the centre, Not a sound hath escaped to thy servants,


goes to each side: of prayer nor of praise,

He relaxed not a muscle, but hung there, To betoken that Saul and the Spirit have

as, caught in his pangs ended their strife,

And waiting his change, the king-serpent And that, faint in his triumph, the monarch

all heavily hangs, sinks back upon life.

Far away from his kind, in the pine, till

deliverance come

With the spring-time, so agonized Saul, "Yet now my heart leaps, O beloved! drear and stark, blind and dumb.

God's child with his dew On thy gracious gold hair; and those lilies still living and blue

Then I tuned my harp, took off the lilies Just broken to twine round thy harp

we twine round its chords strings, as if no wild heat Were now raging to torture the desert!"

Lest they snap 'neath the stress of the noon

tide -- those sunbeams like swords! 35

And I first played the tune all our sheep Then I, as was meet. know, as, one after one, Knelt down to the God of my fathers; and So docile they come to the pen-door till rose on my feet,

15 folding be done. And ran o'er the sand burnt to powder. They are white and untorn by the bushes; The tent was unlooped;,

for lo, they have fed






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And I paused, held my breath in such

silence, and listened apart: And the tent shook, for mighty Saul shud

dered; and sparkles 'gan dart From the jewels that woke in his turban, at

once with a start, All its lordly male-sapphires, and rubies

courageous at heart. So the head: but the body still moved not,

still hung there erect. And I bent once again to my playing, pur

sued it unchecked,

- Then the tune for which quails on the

cornland will each leave his mate To fly after the player; then, what makes

the crickets elate Till for boldness they fight one another;

and then, what has weight To set the quick jerboa a-musing outside his sand-house

45 There are none such as he for a wonder,

half bird and half mouse! God made all the creatures and gave them

our love and our fear, To give sign, we and they are his children,

one family here.


As I sang:




Then I played the help-tune of our reap

ers, their wine-song, when hand Grasps at hand, eye lights eye in good

friendship, and great hearts expand 50 And grow one in the sense of this world's

life. And then, the last song When the dead man is praised on his jour

ney: "Bear, bear him along, With his few faults shut up like dead

flowerets! Are balm seeds not here To console us? The land has none left

such as he on the bier. Oh, would we might keep thee, my

brother!" — And then, the glad chaunt

55 Of the marriage: first go the young maid

ens; next, she whom we vaunt As the beauty, the pride of our dwelling.

And then, the great march Wherein man runs to man to assist him,

and buttress an arch Naught can break: who shall harm them,

our friends? — Then, the chorus intoned

“Oh, our manhood's prime vigor!

No spirit feels waste, Not a muscle is stopped in its playing nor

sinew unbraced. Oh, the wild joys of living! the leaping

from rock up to rock; The strong rending of boughs from the fir

tree; the cool silver shock Of the plunge in a pool's living water; the

hunt of the bear; And the sultriness showing the lion is

couched in his lair. And the meal, the rich dates yellowed

over with gold dust divine, And the locust-flesh steeped in the

pitcher, the full draught of wine; And the sleep in the dried river-channel,

where bulrushes tell That the water was wont to go warbling

so softly and well. How good is man's life, the mere living!

how fit to employ All the heart and the soul and the senses

forever in joy! Hast thou loved the white locks of thy

father, whose sword thou didst guard



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When he trusted thee forth with the

armies, for glorious reward? Didst thou see the thin hands of thy

mother, held up as men sung The low song of the nearly-departed; and

hear her faint tongue Joining in, while it could, to the witness,

'Let one more attest: I have lived, seen God's hand through a

lifetime, and all was for best?' Then they sung through their tears in

strong triumph, not much, but the

rest. And thy brothers, the help and the contest,

the working whence grew Such result as, from seething grape

bundles, the spirit strained true; And the friends of thy boyhood, that

boyhood of wonder and hope, Present promise, and wealth of the future

beyond the eye's scope: Till lo, thou art grown to a monarch; a

people is thine; And all gifts, which the world offers

singly, on one head combine! On one head, all the beauty and strength;

love and rage (like the throe That, a-work in the rock, helps its labor

and lets the gold go); High ambition and deeds which surpass it,

fame crowning them; — all Brought to blaze on the head of one crea

ture, King Saul!"



A year's snow bound about for a breast

plate, leaves grasp of the sheet? Fold on fold all at once it crowds thunder

ously down to his feet: And there fronts you, stark, black, but

alive yet, your mountain of old, With his rents, the successive bequeathing

of ages untold, Yea, each harm got in fighting your bat

tles, each furrow and scar Of his head thrust 'twixt you and the tem

pest, all hail, there they are! - Now again to be softened with verdure,

again hold the nest Of the dove, tempt the goat and its young

to the green on his crest For their food in the ardors of summer.

One long shudder thrilled All the tent till the very air tingled; then

sank and was stilled As the King's self left standing before me,

released and aware. What was gone, what remained? All to

traverse 'twixt hope and despair; Death was past, life not

waited. Awhile his right hand Held the brow, — helped the eyes left too

vacant forthwith to remand To their place what new objects should

enter: 'twas Saul as before. I looked up and dared gaze at those eyes;

nor was hurt any more Than by slow pallid sunsets in autumn ye

watch from the shore, At their sad level gaze o'er the ocean

sun's slow decline Over hills which, resolved in stern

silence, o'erlap and entwine Base with base, to knit strength more

intensely: so, arm folded arm O'er the chest whose slow heavings sub




so he




And lo, with that leap of my spirit,

heart, hand, harp and voice, Each lifting Saul's name out of sorrow,

each bidding rejoice Saul's fame in the light it was made for

as when, dare I say, The Lord's army, in rapture of service,

strains through its array, And upsoareth the cherubin-chariot

"Saul!” cried I, and stopped, And waited the thing that should follow. Then Saul, who hung propped By the tent's cross-support in the centre,

was struck by his name.



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What spell or what charm, (For a while there was trouble within

me), what next should I urge To sustain him where song had restored

him? Song filled to the verge His cup with the wine of this life, pressing

all that it yields Of mere fruitage, the strength and the

beauty — beyond, on what fields Glean a vintage more potent and perfect,

to brighten the eye And bring blood to the lip, and commend

them the cup they put by ? He saith, “It is good;" still he drinks not:

he lets me praise life, Gives assent, - yet would die, for his own






"Yea, my King," I began, — "thou dost well in rejecting

mere comforts that spring From the mere mortal life held in common

by man and by brute: In our flesh grows the branch of this life,

in our soul it bears fruit. Thou hast marked the slow rise of the

tree, - how its stem trembled first Till it passed the kid's lip, the stag's

antler; then safely outburst The fan-branches all round; and thou

mindest when these too, in turn, Broke abloom, and the palm-tree seemed

perfect: yet more was to learn, E'en the good that comes in with the

palm-fruit. Our dates shall

slight, When their juice brings a cure for all

sorrow? or care for the plight Of the palm's self, whose slow growth

produced them? Not so! stem and

branch Shall decay, nor be known in their place;

while the palm-tree shall staunch Every wound of man's spirit in winter. I

pour thee such wine: Leave the flesh to the fate it was ht for!

the spirit be thine! By the spirit, when age shall o'ercome

thee, thou still shalt enjoy More indeed, than at first, when incon

scious, the life of a boy. Crush that life, and behold its wine run

ning! Each deed thou hast done Dies, revives, goes to work in the world!

until e'en as the sun Looking down on the earth, though clouds

spoil him, though tempests efface, 165 Can find nothing his own deed produced

not, must everywhere trace The results of his past summer-prime, –

so, each ray of thy will, Every Aash of thy passion and prowess,

long over, shall thrill Thy whole people, the countless, with

ardor; till they too give forth




Then fancies grew rife Which had come long ago on the pasture,

when round me the sheep Fed in silence above, the one eagle

wheeled slow as in sleep; And I lay in my hollow, and mused on the

world that might lie 'Neath his ken, though I saw but the strip

'twixt the hill and the sky: And I laughed, — "Since my days are

ordained be passed with

Alocks, Let me people at least, with my fancies, the

plains and the rocks; Dream the life I am never to mix with;

and image the show Of mankind as they live in those fashions

I hardly shall know! Schemes of life, its best rules and right

uses; the courage that gains, And the prudence that keeps, what men strive for." And

these old trains Of vague thought came again; I grew

surer; so, once more the string Of my harp made response to my spirit,

as thus:




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