The Fleshly School Controversy
Buchanan and the Press
Buchanan and the Law

The Critical Response
Harriett Jay

Site Diary
Site Search

UNDERTONES - The 1863 Moxon Edition - continued


PENELOPE (pp. 141-150)

‘Penelope’ was extensively revised for the second edition so the 1863 version is reprinted below:




WHITHER, Ulysses, whither dost thou roam,
Roll’d round with wind-led waves that render dark
The smoothly-spinning circle of the sea?
Where dost thou linger? Whither dost thou drag
The silken chain thou fastenedst round my neck
When to the porch of thy inclement realm,
With blushing face turn’d backward, first I came,
Trembling and treading fearfully on flowers?
Lo, Troy has fallen, fallen like a tower,
And the mild sun of a less glorious day
Gleams faintly on its ruins. One by one,
Swift as the sparkle of a star the ships
Have dipt up gladly from the under-world,
And plumëd warriors, standing in their prows,
Stretching out arms to wives and little ones
That crowd with seaward faces on the beach,
Have flung their armour off and leapt and swam
Ere yet the homeward keels had grazed the sand.
And these—the gaunt survivors of thy peers—
Have landed, shone upon by those they love,
And faded into happy happy homes;
While I, the lonely woman, hugging close
The comfort of thy individual fame,
Still wait and yearn and wish towards the sea;
And all the air is hollow of my joy:
The seasons come and go, the hour-glass runs,
The day and night come punctual as of old;
But thy deep strength is in the solemn dawn,
And thy proud step is in the plumëd noon,
And thy grave voice is in the whispering eve;
And all the while, amid this dream of thee,
In restless resolution oceanward,
I sit and ply my sedentary task,
And fear that I am lonelier than I know.

     Dear Lord, the rose you took away with you
From this nice cheek, flusht proudly on thy face
When far away around thee glittering
The Trojan phalanx brighten’d; ay, but still
The lily-flower you left my cheek instead,
To be a token pure betwixt us twain,
Grows like the sampler coarse-complexionëd.
For in the shadow of thy coming home
I sit and weave a weary housewife’s web,
Pale as a silkworm in the cone; all day
I sit and weave this weary housewife’s web,
And in the night with fingers swift as frost
Unweave the weary labour of the day.
Behold now, I am mock’d!—Suspicion
Mumbles my name between his toothless gums;
And while I ply my sedentary task,
They come to me, mere men of hollow clay,
Rat-eyed, and viper-lip’d, they come to me,
And whisper odious comfort, and upbraid
The love that follows thee where’er thou art,
That follows, and perchance, with thy moist cheek,
Dips on the watery bottom of the world. 
They come, Ulysses, and they seek to rob
Thy glory of its weaker wearier half.
They tell me thou art dead; nay, they have brought
To these cold ears that bend above the web
Whispers that thou, no wiser than thy peers,
Hast pluckt upon the windy plain of Troy
A flower thou shrinest in a distant land,
A chamber’d delicacy drowsy-eyed,
Pink-lidded, wanton, like the queen who witch’d
The fatal apple out of Paris’ palm.

     And I—and I—ah me, I rise my height,
In matron majesty that melts in tears,
And chide them from me with a tongue that long
Hath lost the trick of chiding: what avails?
They heed me not, rude men, they heed me not;
And he thou leftest here to guard me well,
He, the old man, is helpless, and his eyes
Are yellow with the dim gold-minting lie
That thou art dead. O husband, what avails?
They gather on me, till the sense grows cold
And huddles in upon the steadfast heart;
And they have dragg’d a promise from my lips
To choose a murderer of my love for thee,
To choose at will from out the rest one man
To slay me with his kisses in the dark,
Whene’er the weary web at which I work
Be woven: so, all day, I weave the web;
And in the night with fingers like a thief’s
Unweave the silken sorrow of the day.

     The years wear on. Telemachus, thy son,
Who, when in the old time we paused athirst
With utterness of wedded joy, upsprang
Between us like a fountain, grows and grows,
Upgurgling like a fountain jet by jet,
And murmuring somewhat sadly, but withal
Sparkling when shone upon. He is thy son:
More woman-like than thee, less strong of limb,
Yet worthy thee; and likest thy grave mood,
When, in old time, among these fields, thine eye
Would kindle on a battle far away,
And thy proud nostrils, drinking the mild breath
Of tannëd haycocks and of slanted sheaves,
Swell suddenly, as if a trumpet spake.
Much sojourn with my weeping widowhood
Has taught the boy a young man’s gentleness;
Courteous beyond his years unto my grief
He helps me daily, till by night sweet dream
Hangs on his eyelids like a violet,
A violet with its shadow on his cheek.
Hast thou forgotten how of old he loved
To toy with thy great beard, and sport with thee,
And how, in thy strong grasp, he leapt and seem’d
A lambkin dandled in a lion’s paw?
About his cradle men who sought the stars
Sprinkled mild prophecies like dewy flowers,
Flowers sweet with light and wet with woman’s tears;
And, now his long limbs lengthen white as milk,
Those stars seem true, for never have I seen
So kind a growth in sweeter smelling soil.
Behold now, how his burning boy-face turns
With impotent words beyond all blows of arm
On those rude men that rack thy weary wife!
Then turns to put his comfort on my cheek,
While sorrow brightens round him—as the grey
Of heaven melts to silver round a star!

     Return, Ulysses, ere too late, too late:
Return, tall wedded warrior, return:
Return, return, and end the weary web!
For day by day I look upon the sea
And watch each ship that dippeth like a gull
Across the long straight line afar away
Where heaven and ocean meet; and when the winds
Swoop to the waves and lift them by the hair,
And the long storm-roar gathers, on my knees
I pray for thee. Lo, even now, the deep
Is garrulous of thy vessel tempest-tost;
And on the treeless upland grey-eyed March,
With blue and humid mantle backward blown,
Plucks the first primrose in a blustering wind.
The keels are wheel’d unto the ocean sand
And eyes look outward for the homeward bound.
And not a marinere, or man or boy,
Scum’d and salt-blooded from the boisterous sea,
Touches these shores, but straight I summon him,
And bribe with meat and drink to tell good news,
And question him of thee. But what avails?
Thou wanderest; and with leaden arms I search
The blank circumference of my pale loss.

     My very heart has grown a timid mouse,
Peeping out, fearful, when the house is still.
Breathless I listen thro’ the breathless dark,
And hear the cock counting the leaden hours,
And, in the pauses of his cry, the deep
Swings on the flat sand with a hollow clang;
And, pale and burning-eyed, I fall asleep
When, with wild hair, across the wrinkled wave
Stares the sick Dawn that brings thee not to me.

     Ulysses, come! Ere traitors leave the mark
Of spread wine-dripping fingers on the smooth
And decent shoulders that now stoop for thee.
I am not young nor happy as of old,
When, awed by thy male strength, my face grew dark
At thy grave footfall, with a serious joy.
Much hope has dwelt within my heart so long
Its settled habit seems despair; but O!
Let amiable ocean smile around,
Green-sparkling on thy dripping homeward oars,
And thou come stately to mine arms, my soul
Shall drink such utter loveliness and joy,
Such loveliness and joy in that first flash
Of faces gloriously agonized
With doubtful recognition,—that the kiss
Wherewith I hunger round thee eager-arm’d,
Than a young bride’s first kiss shall sweeter be,
And have more power to make thee young again
Than Helen’s, when she stang the hip of Greece.
I am not young and beauteous as of old;
And much I fear that when we meet thy face
May startle darkly at the work of years,
And turn to hide a disappomted pang,
And then, with thy grave pride, subdue itself
Into such pity as is love stone-dead.
But thou, thou too, art old, dear lord—thy hair
Is threaded with the silver foam—thy heart
Is weary from the blows of cruel years;
And thou wilt need a tender woman’s hand
To smooth the salt blood to a settled peace;
And more, the gathering strength of this thy son
To make thee young once more,—that you in him
May fight your noble battles o’er again,
And love again when he has learnt to love,
And follow him upward with a father’s eye,
Until the mists close round him and he halts
Upon the cope of manhood, stooping down
To sow good deeds, and sweetness, on thy grave.

     Return, return, Ulysses, ere I die!
Upon this desolate, desolate strand I wait,
Wearily stooping o’er the weary web—
An alabaster woman, whose fix’d eyes
Stare seaward, whether it be storm or calm.
And ever, evermore, as in a dream,
I see thee gazing hither from thy ship
In sunset regions where the still seas rot,
And stretching out great arms whose shadows fall
Gigantic on the glassy purple sea;
And ever, evermore, you come to me, 
And evermore your coming far away
Aches on the burning heartstrings tentative,
And evermore you come not,—and I age.



v. 1, l. iv: And the green Snake coil’d around her silvery feet,
v. 2, l. x: Made for its mistress by the white-tooth’d sea,
v. 3, l. iv: Her palpitating foot on the shudd’ring main,
v. 3, l. v: While, under my feet, the green sea-snake creeps near
v. 3, l. xiv: Tumultuously, tumultuously groaning!
v. 4, l. viii: Into the restless sea
v. 4, l. ix: That Dian strives to comfort evermore,
v. 4, l. xiv: Yet soothed by the soother of Ocean!


THE SYREN does not appear in the 1863 edition.


A VOICE FROM ACADEME (pp. 155-157).

No changes.



Page 168: Title of Part 1: IN DEATH’S SHADOW.
Page 168, l. x: The haggard revel linger’d dark, and pray’d;
Page 169, l. vii: In mine unsinew’d boyhood, precious dreams
Page 169, lines inserted after l. vii:

That swing like censers spilling balmy oils
O’er poppy flowers of sleep, mild sympathies

Page 170, lines inserted after l. iv:

And at the last, I shall become again
A part of thee, a beauteous silentness
With speech nor motion, but with influence
Like the dumb glory of the moon: a bliss
Wherein the spirit of our love shall grow
Eternal; and the loss will be redeem’d.”

Page 170, l. xv: When fearful lest the sunbeam of the smile
Page 171, lines inserted after l. i:

With the new sorrow, and I utter’d doubt
Out of a bitter heart. Yea, oftentimes
I swam from dream to dream and gazed thro’ tears
On the weak hands dropt nerveless on my knees.
So held I solemn tryst with Memory—
Who, with the pale babe Hope upon her breast,
Sits haggard, hooded, underneath blue night,
Looking on heaven and seeking evermore
To call to mind her former dwelling-place,
Where Hope was born, beyond the silent stars.

Page 172, line inserted after l. ix:

The interchanges of the days and nights,

Page 173, lines inserted after l. vii:

To guide my constant hand. Slowly my soul
Arose, full-statured, to behold its bourne,
But hoarding up its beauty, ruby-like
Grew fierier burning inward to the core.
Nature herself is not more prodigal
Of her strange pageantry of shapely stars,
Blue meteors, rainbow-woven waters, peaks
Of sunset burning down to golden streets
Of flusht cloud-cities crumbling into night,
Or that weird intermingling of the winds
Wherein the stars show pallid and the clouds
Are churn’d to vapour and thin silvery gleams,—
Than that anointed presence unto which

Page 173, l. viii: I bent the sunless stone. For, as I wrought,
Page 173, lines inserted after l. xi:

Whate’er was troublous with strange impulses
Such as conduct the cold ooze-dropping tide
To creep into the Morn’s pale lap and sob
For awe of that dumb glory, came to me

Page 173, l. xii: From youth, from childhood, and from that dim land
Page 175, after the end of Part 2, the following is inserted:


LO, now, in the motionless stone
     Life and Death are united for ever!
Lo, Glory encircles the stone,
The Soul gives a speech of its own
     To the beauty that perishes never.
From the furthest fringe of the night,
     Yearning to thee,
Drawn down to the range of thy light,
     I, Psyche, the Soul, can see!

Part 3, THE SIN is renumbered Part 4.
Page 176, l. ix: Stirr’d—like a bank of milky asphodels
Page 176, l. xx: To grasp at Glory, and with impiousness
Page 177, l. ii: And tinkling fragments of a ditty of love,
Page 179, l. xvi: She tingled with the milky warmth of blood:
Page 180, line inserted after l. x:

Veiling her nakedness like golden rain,

Page 183, l. ix: With locks that shone and arms that waved like foam,
Page 183, l. xvii: As smoothes the terror of a new-yean’d lamb,
Page 186, line inserted after l. vii:

Vacant eternity was sown with stars,

Page 186, l. viii: And sunset dark’d like dying eyes that shut
Page 186, after the end of Part 5, the following is inserted:



FROM the furthest fringe of the night,
     While the arms of the flesh enfold thee,
From the darkening fringe of the night
Whence the Moon is withdrawing her light,
     I, Psyche the Soul, behold thee!
The glory is faded, is faded,
In the sense is my silence degraded,
         And my semblance on earth is gone!


O thou, who couldst symbol in stone,
     By strength and endurance unbroken,
The Eternal,—conferring on stone
The yearning and love of thine own
     Soul, as a hope and a token!
There cometh a bitter to-morrow,
         Weak Heart, weak Heart,
For, far from the range of thy sorrow,
         I, Psyche the Soul, depart!

Page 186: Title of Part 5 (Part 7 in original):  ICHABOD.


ANTONY IN ARMS (pp. 184-187).

Page 190, l. vi: Before me, in my dizzy soul’s despite;



Page 193: HORATIUS COGITABUNDUS (Horatius Thinking) originally HORACE LOQUITUR (Horace speaks).
v. 1, l. i: FAVONUS changes with sunny kisses
v. 1, lines inserted after l. xi:

And, with mouth and eyes
Oped in pretty surprise,

v. 1, l. xii: A wood-nymph is leaning her head on his knees,
v. 2, l. xii: For since at Actium, worst of scrapes,
v. 3, lines inserted after l. viii:

Ye gods! shall I groan at the happy and young about?
Forsake this cool seat with acanthus-flowers hung about?
Go, adder-like, thrusting a venomous tongue about?
     Though old, rather old, and as round as a tun,
     I envy no cupids their frolic and fun;
For while, to the boys and the girls I have sung about,
Venus exhibits her airs and graces,
Her coy coqueting and fond grimaces,
And (at the best of it) brief embraces,
I, without circling her natural boddice,
     I, who am corpulent, even ugly,
     Can loll in the sunshine, sipping snugly
The very milk of the amorous goddess!          (Bibit.)

v. 5, lines inserted after l. xxvii:

But, what to an egotist even seems odd, he
Swore Homer survived in his (Ennius’) body.

v. 6, l. ii: They all seem wrong and they all seem right,
v. 6, lines inserted after l. ii:

And we know as much of the Soul just now
As if none of the sages had kick’d up a row.

v. 6, l. iii: Its nature remains an unsatisfied question;
v. 7, lines inserted after l. ii:

From yonder sunshine, from earth’s fat blessing,
From the oily juice my old liver caressing,

v. 7, lines inserted after l. ix:

Call me grovelling, earthly, mean,
But I’ve a philosophy void of spleen;
I hate to be cold, and I like to be warm,
     Just for his sunshine I worship Apollo,
     And my soberest virtue resembles the swallow,
Flying close to the ground—to avoid the storm.

v. 7, l. x: Actium finish’d my education,
v. 7, l. xx: All creeds that bore one are mere vexation;
v. 9, lines inserted after l. v:

All smooth and round, some indifferent parts,
Sound head, rich blood, and the gayest of hearts,
Forming a total whose conservation
Is the subject of constant deliberation
To the most important head in the nation!
Mortal, you see! and a writer of rhyme!
But in spite of approaching annihilation,
He makes the very best use of his time:
Sips Massic, lives lightly in innocent sort,
Avoids all bother which cuts life short,
And is conscious how soon from this state he must sever,
To dissolve his parts into dust for ever.

v. 12, line inserted after l. i:

Counsel Horatius, thy plump epitome,

v. 12, l. ii: How to be wise in the satisfaction
v. 12, l. iii: Of his moderate needs in a half-inaction.
v. 12, line inserted after l. iii:

Shall I be lachrymose? Not a bit o’ me.

v. 13, l. xxi: That still on her bosoms was falling and rising,
v. 14, lines inserted after l. xii:

That kind of pleasure like sunny rain,
Which drowns the shoots of a transient pain,
But sets the seeds deeper in soil of the brain,
Till, stronger and fiercer, they blossom again,
Is as foul as that Fortune whose kisses divert you
     While she opens a vein with a golden knife,
     Or that rigid Morality, plague of my life,
Which thinks one a cushion and thumps one with virtue.

v. 14, l. xiii: But I like (as I said) to sit here in my mirth,



Page 222, verse inserted after verse 31:


Are these vibrations but a prophecy
Of wondrous storms unborn, in nature and in me?
And is this sweetly sad unrest that I and Ocean share
The vital principle abroad in earth
         And water, fire and air?


THE SWAN-SONG OF APOLLO does not appear in the 1863 edition.


The following two poems, ‘A Voice In The Snow’ and ‘Metempsychosis’ appear in the 1863 edition but are omitted in the 1865 edition, and a shorter version of ‘Proteus’ completes the ‘Undertones’ section.


THE VOICE IN THE SNOW (pp. 223-225)

Omitted in the 1865 edition:





WE are the fairies of the Snow,
Hushing sweet hearts where’er we go!—
Our gentle motion from the skies
Has voiceless music for the eyes,
And with that music unaware
We stir the grey and wintry air,
And, mirror’d in the eyes, we roll
With thought-like glamour to the Soul!



We are the fairies of the Snow,
Hushing the heart where’er we go!—
We paint the earth in winter hours
With stainless pictures of the flowers,
We kiss the dark earth till it grows
A silver cloud of pure repose,
Till nature’s troublous yearning sense
Hushes itself to reverence!



We are the fairies of the Snow, 
Hushing the heart where’er we go!—
We weave with fleecy fingers sweet
The dying Winter’s winding-sheet,
We whisper comfort while we place
Our parting kisses on his face,
And leave upon the face we press
Pale signs of unborn loveliness!



We are the fairies of the Snow,
Working for weal where’er we go!
We warm the quick’ning babe of spring
Under a silken carpeting,
And darkening in fleecy flocks
We seek the roots of trees and rocks—
And blowing thence, in summer hours,
We are the fairies of the Flowers!


METEMPSYCHOSIS (pp. 226-229)

Omitted in the 1865 edition:





I DISTINCTLY remember (and who dares doubt me?)
     Having been (now, I care not who believes!)
An ape with a forest around about me—
     Prodigious trees and enormous leaves,
Great bulks of flowers, gigantic grasses,
     Boughs that bent not to any gale:
And thence, I date my contempt for Asses,
     And my deep respect for the Devil’s Tail!



I shall never forget the exquisite feeling
     Of elevation, sans thought, sans care,
When I twisted my tail round the wood’s bough-ceiling,
     And swung, meditatively, in the air.—
There’s an advantage!—Fairer shapes can
     Aspire, yearn upward, tremble and glow,
But, by means of their posteriority, apes can
     Look down on aspirants that walk below!



There was a life for a calm philosopher,
     Self-supplied with jacket, and trousers, and socks,
Nothing to learn, no hopes to get cross over,
     A head that resisted the hardest knocks,
Liquor and meat in serene fruition,
     A random income from taxes free,
No cares at all, and but one ambition—
     To swing by the Tail to the bough of a tree!



Whence I firmly believe, to the consternation
     Of puppies who think monkeyosophy sin,
In gradual human degeneration
     And a general apely origin.
Why, the simple truth’s in a nutshell or thimble,
     Though it rouses the monkey in ignorant elves;
And the Devil’s Tail is a delicate symbol
     Of apehood predominant still in ourselves.



Pure class government, family glory,
     Were the delights of that happy lot;
My politics were serenely Tory,
     And I claim’d old descent from God knows what:
Whence I boast extraction loftier, nobler,
     Than the beggarly Poets one often meets,
A boast I am happy to share with the cobbler
     Who whisked his Tail out—to whip John Keats.



There was a life, I assever! With reasons
     That lead me to scorn every star-gazing Ass;
And because I loved it, at certain seasons
     ’Tis a pleasure to gaze in the looking-glass.
When the bright sun beckons the spring, green-deckt, up,
     The Ape swells within me: whenever I see
Mortals look skyward, walking erect up,
     I long for a Tail and a large strong Tree!


PROTEUS (pp. 230-232)

An extended version of ‘Proteus’ with 8 verses, appears with the subtitle ‘Or, A Prelude’ at the beginning of the ‘Undertones’ section of the 1865 edition. In the 1863 edition this shorter version was the final poem in the ‘Undertones’ section before the ‘Epilogue: To Mary On Earth’.





INTO the living elements of things
     I, Proteus, mingle, seeking strange disguise:
I track the Sun-god on an eagle’s wings,
     Or look at horror thro’ a murderer’s eyes,
In shape of hornëd beast my shadow glides
Among broad-leaved flowers that blow ’neath Afric tides.



A wind of ancient prophecy swept down,
     And wither’d up my glory—where I lay
On Paris’ bosom, in the Trojan town:
     Troy vanish’d; and I wander’d far away,—
Till, lying on a Virgin’s breast, I gazed
     Thro’ infant’s eyes, and saw, as in a dream,
The great god Pan, whom I had raised and praised,
     Float, huge, unsinew’d, down a mighty stream,
With leaves and lilies heaped about his head
     And a weird music hemming him around,
While, dropping from his nerveless fingers dead,
     A brazen sceptre plunged with hollow sound:
A trackless Ocean wrinkling far away
Open’d its darkness for the unking’d day:
Moreover, as he floateth on, at rest,
     With lips that flutter’d still and seem’d to speak,
An Eagle, swooping down upon his breast,
     Picked his blank eyeballs out with golden beak.



         Thro’ wondrous change on change—
Haunted for ever by a hollow tune
Made ere the birth of Sun or Stars or Moon—
         I, Proteus, range.



         Nay, evermore I grow
Darker, with deeper power to see and know.—
For in the end, I, Proteus, shall cast
     All wondrous shapes aside but one alone,
And stand (while roundabout me in the Vast
The Earth, Sun, Stars, and Moon, burn out at last)
     A Skeleton, that kneels before a Throne.



In the 1865 edition the title-page of the poem has ‘POET’S EPILOGUE. TO MARY ON EARTH.’
v. 5, l. v: What music fainting in a clearer air?
v. 6, lines vii and viii are transposed.
v. 6, l. xii: Music I seem to see, but cannot hear.



Back to Undertones - Contents

or Poetry








The Fleshly School Controversy
Buchanan and the Press
Buchanan and the Law


The Critical Response
Harriett Jay


Site Diary
Site Search