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

The Critical Response
Harriett Jay

Site Diary
Site Search

{White Rose and Red 1873}







Know’st thou the Land, where the lian-flower
Burgeons the trapper’s forest bower,
Where o’er his head the acacia sweet
Shaketh her scented locks in the heat,
Where the hang-bird swings to a blossom-cloud,
And the bobolink sings merry and loud?
Know’st thou the Land?
                                     O there! O there,
Might I with thee, O friend of my heart, repair!



Know’st thou the Land where the golden Day
Flowers into glory and glows away,
While the Night springs up, as an Indian girl
Clad in purple and hung with pearl!
And the white Moon’s heaven rolls apart,
Like a bell-shaped flower with a golden heart,—
Know’st thou the Land?
                                     O there! O there,
Might I with
thee, O Maid of my Soul, repair!



Know’st thou the Land where the woods are free,
And the prairie rolls as a mighty sea,
And over its waves the sunbeams shine,
While on its misty horizon-line
Dark and dim the buffaloes stand,
And the hunter is gliding gun in hand?
Know’st thou it well?
                               O there! O there,
Might I, with those whose Souls are free, repair!



Know’st thou the Land where the sun-birds song
Filleth the forest all day long,
Where all is music and mirth and bloom,
Where the cedar sprinkles a soft perfume,
Where life is gay as a glancing stream,
And all things answer the Poet’s dream?
Know’st thou the Land?
                                     O there! O there,
Might I, with him who loves my lays, repair!



Know’st thou the Land where the swampy brakes
Are full of the nests of the rattlesnakes,
Where round old Grizzly the wild bees hum,
While squatting he sucks at their honeycomb,
Where crocodiles crouch and the wild cat springs,
And the mildest ills are mosquito stings?
Know’st thou the Land?
                                     O there! O there,
Might I, with adverse Critics, straight repair!



Know’st thou the Land where wind and sun
Smile on all races of men—save one:
Where (strange and wild as a sunset proud
Streak’d with the bars of a thunder-cloud)
Alone and silent the Red Man lies,
Sees the cold stars coming, and sinks, and dies?
Know’st thou the Land?
                                     O there! O there,
Might I to wet his poor parch’d lips repair!



Lock up thy gold, and take thy flight
To the mighty Land of the red and white;
A ditty of love I would have thee hear,
While daylight dies, and the Night comes near
With her black feet wet from the western sea,
And the Red Man dies, with his eyes on thee!
Fast to that Land, ere his last footprints there
Are beaten down by alien feet, repair!


Alterations in the 1901 edition of The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan:
‘Invocation’ is not in italics.
Page xii, l. viii: A ditty I love I would have thee hear, ]




Part I.






DAWN breaking. Thro’ his dew-veil smiles the sun,
     And under him doth run
On the green grass and in the forest brake
     Bright beast and speckled snake;
Birds on the bough and insects in the ray
     Gladden; and it is day.

What is this lying on the thymy steep,
     Where yellow bees hum deep,
And the rich air is warm as living breath?
     What soft shape slumbereth
Naked and dark, and glows in a green nest,
     Low-breathing in bright rest?
Is it the spotted panther, lying there                                               4
     Lissome and light and fair?
Is it the snake, with glittering skin coil’d round
     And gleaming on the ground?
Is it some wondrous bird whose eyrie lies
     Between the earth and skies?
’Tis none of these, but something stranger far—
     Strange as a fallen star!
A mortal birth, a marvel heavenly-eyed,
     With dark pink breast and side!
And as she lies the wild deer comes most meek
     To smell her scented cheek,
And creeps away; the yeanling ounce lies near,
     And watches with no fear;
The serpent rustles past, with touch as light
     As rose-leaves, rippling bright
Into the grass beyond; while yonder, on high,
     A black speck in the sky,
The crested eagle hovers, with sharp sight
     Facing the flood of light.

What living shape is this who sleeping lies                                      5
     Watch’d by all wondering eyes
Of beast and speckled snake and flying bird?
     Softly she sleeps, unstirr’d
By wind or sun; and since she first fell there
     Her raven locks of hair
Have loosen’d, shaken round her in a shower,
     Whence, like a poppy flower
With dark leaves and a tongue to brightness tipt,
     She lies vermillion-lipt.
Bare to the waist, her head upon her arm,
     Coil’d on a couch most warm
Of balsam and of hemlock, whose soft scent
     With her warm breath is blent.
Around her brow a circlet of pure gold,
     With antique letters scroll’d,
Burns in the sun-ray, and with gold also
     Her wrists and ankles glow.
Around her neck the threaded wild cat’s teeth
     Hang white as pearl; beneath                                                  6
Her bosoms heave, and in the space between,
     Duskly tattoo’d, is seen
A figure small as of a pine-bark brand
     Held blazing in a hand.
Her skirt of azure, wrought with braid and thread
     In quaint signs yellow and red,
Scarce reaches to her dark and dimpled knee,
     Leaving it bare and free.
Below, mocassins red as blood are wound,
     With gold and purple bound;—
So that red-footed like the stork she lies,
     With softly shrouded eyes,
Whose brightness seems with heavy lustrous dew
     To pierce the dark lids thro’.
Her eyelids closed, her poppied lips apart,
     And her quick eager heart
Stirring her warm frame, as a bird unseen
     Stirs the warm lilac-sheen,
She slumbers,—and of all beneath the skies                                 7
     Seemeth the last to rise.

She stirs—she wakens—now, O birds, sing loud
     Under the golden cloud!
She stirs—she wakens—now, O wild beast, spring,
     Blooms grow, breeze blow, birds sing!
She wakens in her nest and looks around,
     And listens to the sound;
Her eyelids blink against the heavens’ bright beam,
     Still dim and dark with dream,
Her breathing quickens, and her cheek gleams red,
     And round her shining head
Glossy her black hair glistens. Now she stands,
     And with her little hands
Shades her soft orbs and upward at the sky
     She gazeth quietly;
Then at one bound springs with a sudden song                             8
     The forest-track along.

Thro’ the transparent roof of twining leaves,
     Where the deep sunlight weaves
Threads like a spider’s-web of silvern white,
     Faint falls the dreamy light
Down the gray bolls and boughs that intervene,
     On to the carpet green
Prinkt with all wondrous flowers, on emerald brakes
     Where the still speckled snakes
Crawl shaded; and above the shaded ground,
     Amid the deep-sea sound
Of the high branches, bright birds scream and fly
     And chattering parrots cry;
And everywhere beneath them in the bowers
     Float things like living flowers,
Hovering and settling; and here and there
     The blue gleams deep and fair
Thro’ the high parted boughs, while serpent-bright                       9
     Slips thro’ the golden light,
Startling the cool deep shades that brood around,
     And floating to the ground,
With multitudinous living motes at play
     Like dust in the rich ray.

Hither for shelter from the burning sun
     Hath stolen the beauteous one,
And thro’ the ferns and flowers she runs, and plucks
     Berries blue-black, and sucks
The fallen orange. Where the sunbeams blink
     She lieth down to drink
Out of the deep pool, and her image sweet
     Floats dim below her feet,
Up-peering thro’ the lilies yellow and white
     And green leaves where the bright
Great Dragon-fly doth pause. With burning breath                         10
     She looks and gladdeneth.
She holds her hands, the shape holds out hands too;
     She stoops more near to view,
And it too stoopeth looking wild and sly;
     Whereat, with merry cry,
She starteth up, and fluttering onward flies
     With gladness in her eyes.

But who is this who all alone lies deep
     In heavy-lidded sleep?
A dark smile hovering on his bearded lips,
     His hunter’s gun he grips,
And snores aloud where snakes and lizards run,
     His mighty limbs i’ the sun
And his fair face within the shadow. See!
     His breath comes heavily
Like one’s tired out with toil; and when in fear
     The Indian maid comes near,
And bendeth over him most wondering,                                       11
     The bright birds scream and sing,
The motes are madder in the ray, the snake
     Glides luminous in the brake,
The sunlight flashes fiery overhead,
     The wood-cat with eyes red
Crawleth close by, with her lithe crimson tongue
     Licking her clumsy young,
And, deep within the open prairie nigh,
     Hawks swoop and struck birds cry!

Dark maiden, what is he thou lookest on?
     O ask not, but begone!
Go! for his eyes are blue, his skin is white,
     And giant-like his height.
To him thou wouldst appear a tiny thing,
     Some small bird on the wing,
Some small deer to be kill’d ere it could fly,
     Or to be tamed, and die!—
O look not, look not, in the hunter’s face,                                    12
     Thou maid of the red race,
He is a tame thing, thou art weak and wild,
     Thou lovely forest-child!
How should the deer by the great deer-hound walk,
     The wood-dove seek the hawk,—                                         []
Away! away! lest he should wake from rest,
     Fly, sun-bird, to thy nest.

Why doth she start, and backward softly creep?
     He stirreth in his sleep—
Why doth she steal away with wondering eyes?
     He stretches limbs, and sighs.
Peace! she hath fled—and he is all alone,
     While, with a yawn and groan
The man sits up, rubs eyelids, grips his gun,
     Stares heavenward at the sun,
And cries aloud, stretching himself anew:
     “Broad day,—by all that’s blue!”


Alterations in the 1901 edition of The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan:
Page 12, l. vi: The wood-dove seek the hawk?—
Page 12, l. viii: Fly, sun-bird, to thy nest! ]





ON the shores of the Atlantic,
Where the surge rolls fierce and frantic,
Where the mad winds cry and wrestle
With each frail and bird-like vessel,—
Down in Maine, where human creatures
Are amphibious in their natures,
And the babies, sons or daughters,
Float like fishes in the waters,—
Down in Maine, by the Atlantic,
Grew the Harts, of race gigantic,
And the tallest and the strongest
Was Eureka Hart, the youngest.

Like a bear-cub as a baby,
Rough, and rear’d as roughly as may be,
He had rudely grown and thriven                                                  14
Till, a giant, six foot seven,
Bold and ready for all comers,
He had reach’d full thirty summers.
All his brethren, thrifty farmers,
Had espoused their rural charmers,
Settling down once and for ever
By the Muskeosquash River:
Thrifty men, devout believers,
Of the tribe of human beavers;
Life to them, with years increasing,
Was an instinct never-ceasing
To build dwellings multifarious
In the fashion called gregarious,
To be honest in their station,
And increase the population
Of the beavers! They, moreover,
Tho’ their days were cast in clover,
Had the instinct of secreting;
Toiling hard while time was fleeting,
To lay by in secret places,                                                            15
[Like the bee and squirrel races,]
Quiet stores of yellow money,
[Which is human nuts and honey.]

Tho’ no flowers of dazzling beauty
In their ploughshare line of duty
Rose and bloom’d, still, rural daisies,
Such as every village raises,
From the thin soil of their spirits
Grew and throve. Their gentle merits
Free of any gleam of passion,
Flower’d in an instructive fashion.
Quite convinced that life was fleeting
Every week they went to meeting,
Met and prayed to God in dozens,
Uncles, nephews, nieces, cousins,
Joining there in adoration,
All the beaver population!
From this family one creature,                                                         16
Taller and more fair of feature,
Err’d and wander’d, slightly lacking
In the building, breeding, packing,
Tribal-instinct; and would never
Settle down by wood or river,
Build a house or take a woman
In the pleasant fashion common
To his race; evincing rather
Traces of some fiercer father,
Panther-like, to hunting given
In the eye of the blue heaven!
When beneath the mother’s bosom
His great life began to blossom,
Haply round her winds were crying,
O’er her head the white clouds flying,
At her feet the wild waves flowing,
All things moving, coming, going,
And the motion and vibration
Reach’d the thing in embryoation,
On its unborn soul conferring                                                        17
Endless impulse to be stirring,—
To be ever wandering, racing,
Bird-like, wave-like, chased or chasing!
Born beside the stormy ocean,
’Twas the giant’s earliest notion
To go roaming on the billow,
With a damp plank for a pillow.
In his youth he went as sailor
With the skipper of a whaler;
But in later life he better
Loved to feel no sort of fetter,
All his own free pathway mapping
In the forest,—hunting, trapping.
By great rivers, thro’ vast valleys,
As thro’ some enchanted palace
Ever bright and ever changing,
Many years he went a-ranging,—
Free as any wave, and only
Lonely as a cloud is lonely,
Floating in a void, surveying                                                          18
Endless tracts for endless straying.

Pause a minute and regard him!
Years of hardships have not marr’d him.
Limbs made perfect, iron-solder’d,
Narrow-hipp’d and mighty-shoulder’d,
Whisker’d, bearded, strong and stately,
With a smile that lurks sedately
In still eyes of a cold azure,
Never lighting to sheer pleasure,
Stands he there, ’mid the green trees
Like the Greek god, Herakles.

Stay, nor let the bright allusion
Lead your spirit to confusion.
Tho’ a wanderer, and a creature
Almost as a god in feature,
This man’s nature was as surely
Soulless and instinctive purely,
As the natures of those others,                                                      19
His sedater beaver-brothers;
Nothing brilliant, bright, or frantic,
Nothing maidens style romantic,
Flash’d his slow brain morn or night
Into spiritual light!

As waves run, and as clouds wander,
With small power to feel or ponder,
Roam’d this thing in human clothing,
Further in his soul receding,
Certain signs of beaver-breeding
Kept his homely wits in see-saw;
Part was Jacob, part was Esau;
No revolter; a believer
In the dull creed of the beaver;
Strictly moral; seeing beauty
In the ploughshare line of duty;
Loving nature as beasts love it,                                                     20
Eating, drinking, tasting of it,
With no wild poetic gleaming,
Seldom shaping, never dreaming;
Beaver with a wandering craze,
Walked Eureka in God’s ways.

Now ye know him, now ye see him;
Nought from beaver-blood can free him;
Yet stand by and shrewdly con him,
While a wild light strikes upon him,
While a gleam of glory finds him,
Flashes in his eyes and blinds him,
Shapes his mind to its full measure,
Raising him, in one mad pleasure,
’Spite the duller brain’s control,
To the stature of a SOUL!





THE wild wood rings, the wild wood gleams,
     The wild wood laughs with echoes gay;
Thro’ its green heart a bright beck streams,
Sparkling like gold in the sun’s beams,
     But creeping, like a silvern ray,
     Where hanging boughs make dim the day.
Hush’d, hot, and Eden-like all seems,
And onward thro’ the place of dreams
     Eureka Hart doth stray.

Strong, broad-awake, and happy-eyed,
With the loose tangled light for guide,
He wanders, and at times doth pass
Thro’ open glades of gleaming grass,
With spiderwort and larkspur spread,                                           22
And great anemones blood-red;
On every side the forest closes,
     The myriad trees are interlaced,
Starr’d with the white magnolia roses,
     And by the purple vines embraced.
Beneath on every pathway shine
The fallen needles of the pine;
Around are dusky scented bowers,
Bridged with the glorious lian-flowers.
Above, far up thro’ the green trees,
     The palm thrusts out its fan of green,
Which softly stirs in a soft breeze,
     Far up against the heavenly sheen.

And all beneath the topmost palm
Is sultry shade and air of balm,
Where, shaded from the burning rays,
Scream choirs of parroquets and jays;
Where in the dusk of dream is heard                                            23
The shrill cry of the echo-bird;
And on the grass, as thick as bees,
     Run mocking-birds and wood-doves small
Pecking the blood-red strawberries,
     And fruits that from the branches fall:
All rising up with gleam and cry,
When the bright snake glides hissing by,
Springs from the grass, and, swift as light,
Slips after the chameleons bright
From bough to bough, and here and there
Pauses and hangs in the green air,
Festoon’d in many a glistening fold,
Like some loose chain of gems and gold.

Smoke from a mortal pipe is blent
With cedar and acacia scent:
Phlegmatically relishing,
     Eureka smokes; from every tree
The wood-doves brood, the sun-birds sing,                                  24
The forest doth salute its King,
     The monarch Man,—but what cares he?
His eyes are dull, his soul in vain
Hears the strange tongues of his domain,
No echo comes to the soft strain
From the dull cavern of his brain.

But hark! what quick and sparkling cry
Darts like a fountain to the sky?
How, human voices! strangely clear,
They burst upon the wanderer’s ear.
He stops, he listens—hark again,
Wild rippling laughter rises plain!

O’er his fair face a look of wonder
Is spreading—“Injins here—by thunder!”
     He cocks his gun, and stands to hear,
Sets his white teeth together tight,                                                 25
     Then, silent-footed as the deer,
Creeps to the sound. The branches bright
Thicken around him; with quick flight
The doves and blue-birds gleam away,
Shooting in showers from spray to spray.
A thicket of a thousand blooms,
     Green, rose, white, blue, one rainbow glow,
Closes around him; strange perfumes,
Crush’d underfoot in the rich glooms,
     Loads the rich air as he doth go;                                               [l.xi]
     The harmless snakes around him glow
With emerald eyes; lithe arms of vine
Trip him and round his neck entwine,
Bursting against his stained skin
Their grapes of purple glossy-thin.
But still the rippling laughter flows
Before him as he creeps and goes,
Till suddenly, with a strange look,
He crouches down in a green nook,
Crouches and gazes from the bowers,                                          26
Curtain’d and cover’d up in flowers.

O, what strange sight before him lies?
Why doth he gaze with sparkling eyes
And beating heart? Deep, bright, and cool,
Before him gleams a crystal pool,
Fed by the beck: and o’er its brim
Festoons of roses mirror’d dim
Hang drooping low on every side;
     And glorious moths and dragon flies
Hover above, and gleaming-eyed
     The stingless snake hangs blossom-wise,
In loose folds sleeping. Not on these
Gazes Eureka thro’ the trees:
Snake never made such smiles to grace
His still blue eyes and sun-tann’d face,
And never flower, howe’er so fair,
Would fix that face to such a stare.
And yet like gleaming water-snakes                                             27
     They wind and wanton in the pool.
Above their waists in flickering flakes
The molten sunlight slips and shakes;
     Beneath, their gleaming limbs bathe cool.
One floats above with laughter sweet,
And splashes silver with her feet;
One clinging to the drooping boughs
     Leans back, and lets her silken hair
Rain backward from her rippling brows,
     While on her shoulders dark and bare
     Blossoms fall thick and linger there
Nestling and clinging. To the throat
Cover’d, one dark-eyed thing doth float,
Her face a flower, her locks all wet,
Tendrils and leaves around it set;
O sight most strangely beautiful,
Three Indian naïads in a pool!

Eureka, be it understood,
Though beaver-born, is flesh and blood,
And what he saw in day’s broad gold                                          28
Was stranger far a thousand fold,
Than that wild scene bold Tam O’Shanter
     In Scotland saw one winter night,
(Ah with the Scottish Bard to canter,
On Pegasus to Fame instanter,
     Singing one song so trim and tight!)
He look’d, and look’d, like Tam; like him,
On the most fair of face and limb
Fixing most long his wondering eye;
For I like greater bards should lie,
If I averr’d that all and one
Who sported there beneath the sun,
Were gloriously fair of face;
But they were women of red race,
Clad in the most bewitching dress,
Their own unconscious loveliness;
And tho’ their beauty might not be
     Perfect and flawless, they were fine,
Bright-eyed, red-lipp’d, made strong and free
     In many a cunning curve and line                                              29
     A sculptor would have deem’d divine.
Not so the rest, who all around
With fierce eyes squatted on the ground,
Nodding approval:—squaws and crones
Clapping their hands with eager groans.
These were the witches, I might say,
Of this new tropic Alloway.
[As for the Devil—even he
     Was by the Serpent represented
Swinging asleep from a green tree,—
     Reflected, gloriously painted,
In the bright water where the three
Laugh’d and disported merrily.]

But chiefly poor Eureka gazed,
Trembling, dumb-stricken, and amazed,
On the most beautiful of all,
     Who standing on the water-side,
A perfect shape queenly and tall
     Stood in the sun erect, and dried
Her gleaming body head to feet                                                   30
In one broad ray of golden heat.
Naked she stood, but her strange sheen
Of beauty clad her like a queen,
And beaming rings of yellow gold
Were round her wrists and ankles roll’d,
And on her skin Eureka scann’d
A symbol bright as of a brand
Held burning in a human hand.

Smiling, she spake in a strange tongue,
And eager laughter round her rung,
While wading out all lustrous-eyed
She sat upon the water-side,
And pelted merrily the rest
With blossoms bright and flowers of jest.

Ah, little did Eureka guess,
While wondering at her loveliness,
The same fair form had softly crept                                              31
And look’d upon him while he slept,
And thought him (him! the man of Maine!
Civilizee with beaver-brain!)
Beauteous, in passion’s first wild beam,
Beyond all Indian guess or dream!

Eureka Hart, though tempted more
Than e’er was mortal man before,
Did not like Tam O’Shanter break
     The charm with mad applause or call;
Too wise for such a boor’s mistake,
     He held his tongue, observing all;
But while the hunter forward leant,
Sharing the glorious merriment,
He moved a little unaware
     The better to behold the sport,
And lo! upon the heavy air
     Off went his gun with sharp report,
And while the bullet past his ear                                                    32
     Whizz’d quick, he stagger’d with the shock,
And with one scream distinct and clear
     Rose the red women in a flock.
The naked bathers stood and scream’d,
The brown squaws cried, their white teeth gleam’d;
And ere he knew, with startled face
He stagger’d to the open space;
The sharp vines tript him, and, confounded,
     He stumbled, grasping still his gun,—
And, by the chattering choir surrounded,
     Half dazed, lay lengthways in the sun.

As when a clumsy grizzly bear
Breaks on a dove-cot unaware,
As when some snake, unwieldy heap,
Drops from a pine-bough, half asleep,
Plump in the midst of grazing sheep;—
Even so into the women-swarm
Suddenly fell the giant’s form!
They leapt, they scream’d, they closed, they scatter’d,                  33
Some fled, some stood, all call’d and chatter’d,
And to the man in his amaze
Innumerable seem’d as jays
And parroquets in the green ways.
Had they been men, despite their throng,
In sooth he had lain still less long;
But somehow in the stars ’twas fated,
He for a space was fascinated!
And ere he knew what he should do,
All round about him swarm’d the crew,
Sharp-eyed, quick-finger’d, and, despite
His struggling, clung around him tight;
Half choked, half smother’d by embraces,
In a wild mist of arms and faces,
He stagger’d up; in vain, in vain!
Hags, squaws, and maidens in a chain
Clung round him, and with quicker speed
Than ye this running rhyme can read,
With tendrils tough as thong of hide,                                            34
Torn from the trees on every side,
In spite of all his strength, the band
Had bound the Giant foot and hand.


Alterations in the 1901 edition of The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan:
Page 25, l. xi: Load the rich air as he doth go; ]





THROUGH the gleaming forest closes,
Where on white magnolia-roses
Light the dim-draped queen reposes,
     Lo, they lead the captive giant.

Shrieking shrill as jays around him,
They have led him, they have bound him,
With a wreath of vine-leaves crown’d him,
     Which he weareth, half defiant.

If their ears could hear him swearing!
Of his oaths he is not sparing,
While, with hands sharp-claw’d for tearing,
     Hags and beldams burn to rend him.

If the younger, prettier creatures                                                   36
Heard that tallest of beseechers,
While he pleads with frantic features!
     But they do not comprehend him.

In their Indian tongue they’re crying,
From the forest multiplying,
Mocking, murmuring, leaping, flying,
     While he shouts out, “D—— the women!”

All his mighty strength is nothing:
Like a ship, despite his loathing,
Mid these women scant of clothing
     He is tossing, struggling, screaming.

Crown’d like Bacchus on he passes,
O’er deep runlets, through great grasses,
While [like flies around molasses]
     Fair and foul are round him humming!

Half a day they westward wander,                                               37
Stopping not to rest or ponder;
Then the forest ends; and yonder
     Wild dogs bark to hear them coming.

Cluster’d in an open clearing
Stand the wigwams they are nearing,
Bark the dogs, a strange foot fearing,
     Low the cattle,—straight before them.

Out into the sunlight leaping,
There they see the wigwams sleeping,
With a blue smoke upward creeping,
     And the burning azure o’er them!

All is still, save for the screaming
Children from the wigwams streaming,
All is still and sweet to seeming,
     Not a man’s face forward thrusting.

Thinks Eureka, “This looks stranger—                                         38
Ne’er a man—then double danger;
Many a year I’ve been a ranger,—
     Woman’s mercy put no trust in!”

As he speaks in trepidation,
All his heart in palpitation,
He is fill’d with admiration
     At a vision wonder-laden.

From the largest wigwam, slowly,
While the women-band bow lowly,
Comes an old man white and holy,
     Guided gently by a maiden!





NINETY long years had slowly shed
Their snows upon the patriarch’s head,
And on a staff of ash he leant,
Shaking and bending as he went.
His face, sepulchral, long, and thin,
Was shrivell’d like a dried snake’s skin,
And on the cheeks and forehead dark
Tattoo’d was many a livid mark,
And in the midst his eyeballs white
Roll’d blankly, seeing not the light;
And when he listen’d in his place
     You saw at once that he was blind,
For with a visionary grace
     Dim mem’ries moved from his own mind,
And the wild waters of his face                                                    40
     Waved in a wondrous wind.

From an artistic point of sight,
The aged man was faultless quite;
Albeit the raiment he did wear
     Was somewhat hybrid; for example,
A pair of pantaloons threadbare
Match’d strangely with his Indian air,
     And blanket richly wrought and ample;
And, though perchance not over clean,
He had a certain gentle mien
Kindly and kingly; and a smile
Complacent in the kingly style,
Yet fraught with strangely subtle rays,
The lingering light of other days:—
Brightness and motion such as we
Trace in the trouble of the Sea,
When the long stormy day is sped,
And in the last light dusky-red
The waves are sinking, one by one.                                             41

But she who led him!—In the sun
She gleam’d beside him, like a rose
That by a dark sad water grows
And trembles. In a moment’s space
Eureka recognised the face!
’Twas hers, who stood most beautiful,
Queen of those bathers in the pool!
But her bright locks were braided now
Around her clear and glistening brow,
And on her limbs she wore a dress
Less rich than her own loveliness.
From the artistic point of view,
The maiden’s dress was faultless too,
But, look’d at closely, not so rare
As white-skinn’d maid would wish to wear;
’Twas coarsest serge of sullen dye,
Albeit embroider’d curiously;
And the few ornaments she wore                                                 42
Were trifles valueless and poor;—
Their merit, let us straight confess,
And all the merit of her dress,
Was that they form’d for eyes to see
Nimbus enough of drapery
And ornament, just to suggest
The costume that became her best—
Her own brave beauty. She just wore
Enough for modesty—no more.
She was not, as white beauties seem,
Smother’d, like strawberries in cream,
With folds of silk and linen. No!
The Indians wrap their babies so,
And we our women; who, alas!
Waddle about upon the grass,
Distorted, shapeless, smother’d, choking,
Hideous, and horribly provoking,
Because we long, without offence,
To tear the mummy-wrappings thence,
And show the human form enchanting                                           43
That ’neath the fatal folds is panting!

She was a shapely creature, tall,
And slightly form’d, but plump withal,—
Shapely as deer are—finely fair
As creatures nourish’d by warm air,
And luscious fruits that interfuse
Something of their own glorious hues,
And the rich odour that perfumes them,
Into the body that consumes them.
She had drank richness thro’ and thro’
As the great flowers drink light and dew;
And she had caught from wandering streams
Their restless motion; and strange gleams
From snakes and flowers that glow’d around
Had stolen into her blood, and found
Warmth, peace, and silence; and, in brief,
Her looks were bright beyond belief
Of those who meet in the green ways                                            44
The rum-wreck’d squaws of later days.

[I would be accurate, nor essay
Again in Cooper’s pleasant way
A picture highly wrought and splendid
Of the red race whose pride has ended.
Nor here by contrast err: indeed,
The red man is of Esau’s seed,
Hath Esau’s swiftness, and, I guess,
Much, too, of Esau’s loveliness.
A thousand years in the free wild
He fought and hunted, leapt and smiled;
A million impulses and rays
Shot thro’ his spirit’s tangled ways,
Working within his dusky frame
As in a storm-cloud worketh flame,
Shaping his strength as years did roll
Into the semblance of his soul.
Slowly his shape and spirit caught                                                 45
The living likeness wonder-fraught,
The golden, many-coloured moods
Of those free plains and pathless woods;
Those blooms that burst, those streams that run
One changeless rainbow in the sun!
Unto the hues of this rich clime
His nature was subdued in time;
And he became as years increased
A glorious animal, at least.]

Soon like a mist did disappear
Eureka Hart’s first foolish fear,
For courteously the chief address’d him,
     In English speech distinct tho’ broken,
Bade them unloose and cease to pest him,
     And further, smiling and soft spoken,
Inquired his country and his name,
Whither he fared and whence he came.
Eureka, from the withes released,                                                46
Shook himself like a bright-eyed beast,
And mutter’d; then, meeting the look
Of that bright naïad of the brook,
Blush’d like a shamefaced boy, while she
Stood gazing on him silently,
With melancholy orbs whose flame
Confused his soul with secret shame.

In a brief answer and explicit,
He told the cause of his strange visit.
The old chief smiled and whisper’d low
     Into the small ear of the maiden:
Her large eyes fell, and with a glow
     Of dark, deep rose her face was laden.
Then, like a sound of many waters,
Innumerable screams and chatters,
The voices of the women-band
     Broke out in passion and in power;
But, at the raising of his hand,                                                       47
     Ceased, like the swift cease of a shower.

Full soon Eureka saw and knew
That the Dark Dame who favours few
Had brought him to a friendly place,
Where, far from cities, a mild race
Of happy Indians spent their days
’Mid pastures and well-water’d ways.
An ancient people strong and good,
With something sacred in their blood;
Scatter’d and few, to strangers kind;
Wise in the ways of rain and wind;
Peaceful when pleased, bloody when roused,
They dwelt there comfortably housed;
And in those gardens ever fair,
Hunted and fish’d with little care.
Just then their braves were roaming bound
On an adjacent hunting-ground;
And all the population then                                                            48
Were women wild and aged men.—
But he, that old man blind and tall,
Was a great King, and Chief of all;
And she who led him was by birth
His grandchild, dearest thing on earth
To his dusk age; and dear tenfold
     Because no other kin had she,—
Since sire and mother both lay cold
     Under Death’s leafless Upas-tree.

Enough! here faltereth my first song:
     Eureka, still in secret captured,
In that lost Eden lingers long,
     And his big bosom beats enraptured.
Long days and nights speed o’er him there;
What binds him now? a woman’s hair!
What doth he see? a woman’s eyes
Above him luminously rise!
What doth he kiss? a woman’s mouth                                           49
Sweeter than spice-winds of the south!
By golden streams he lies full blest,
And Red Rose blossoms on his breast.

O love! love! love! whose spells are shed
On bodies black, white, yellow, red—
Flame of all matter,—flower of clay,—
Star of pangenesis;—but stay!
A theme of so divine a tone
Must have a canto of its own!




Part II.






O LOVE! O spirit of being!
     O wonderful secret of breath,
Sweeter than hearing or seeing,
     Sadder than sorrow or death.

Earth with its holiest flavour,
     Life with its lordliest dower,
The fruit’s strange essence and flavour,
     Bloom and scent of the flower.

[Thus might a modern poet,
     O Aphrodite, uptake
His fanciful flute and blow it,
     And wail the echoes awake!]

O love, love, Aphrodite,                                                               54
     Cytherea divine,
I hold you fever’d and flighty,
     And seek a pleasanter shrine.

Yet hither, O spirit fervent,
     Just to help me along,
Forget I am not thy servant,
     And blow in the sails of my song.

For lo! ’tis a situation
     Caused by thyself, ’twould seem;
The old, old foolish sensation,
     Two lovers lost in a dream.

O the wonder and glory,
     Bright as Creation’s burst!
O the ancestral story,
     Old as Adam the first!

Flame, and fervour, and fever,                                                     55
     Flashing from morning to night,
Alliteration for ever
     Of love, and longing, and light.

How should the story vary?
     How the song be new?
Music and meaning marry?
     ’Tis love, love, love, all thro'!

As it was in the beginning,
     Is, and ever shall be!
Loving, and love for the winning,
     Love, and the soul set free.

[An invocation like this is
     Need not be over-wise;
Who shall interpret kisses?
     What is the language of eyes?]

Again a man and a woman                                                          56
     Feeling the old blest thing,
Better than voices human
     A bird on the bough could sing.

Only a sound is wanted,
     Merry, and happy, and loud,—
Such as the lark hath panted
     Up in the golden cloud.

Lips, and lips to kiss them;
     Eyes, and eyes to behold;
Hands, and hands to press them;
     Arms, and arms to enfold.

The love that comes to the palace,
     That comes to the cottage door;
The ever-abundant chalice
     Brimming for rich and poor;

The love that waits for the winning,                                               57
     The love that ever is free,
That was in the world’s beginning,
     Is, and ever shall be!





AS a pine-log prostrate lying,
     Slowly thro’ its knotted skin
Feels the warm revivifying
     Spring-time thrill and tremble in;
As a pine-log, strong and massive,
Feels the light and lieth passive,
While a Sunbeam, coming daily,
Creeps upon its bosom gaily;
Warms the bark with quick pulsations,
Warms and waits each day in patience,
While the green begins to brighten,
And the sap begins to heighten,—
Till at last from its hard bosom                                                     59
Suddenly there slips a blossom
Green as emerald!—then another!
     Then a third! then more and more!
Till the soft green bud-knots smother
     What was sapless wood before;
Till the thing is consecrated
     To the spirit of the Spring,
Till the love for all things fated
     Burns and beautifies the thing;—
And the wood-doves sit and con it,
     And the squirrels from on high
Fluttering drop their nuts upon it,
     And the bee and butterfly
Find it pleasant to alight there,
And taps busy morn and night there
     Many a bird with golden beak;
Till, since all has grown so bright there,
     It would cry (if Logs could speak),
“Sunbeam, sunbeam, I’m your debtor!
     I was fit for firewood nearly.
I’m considerably better,                                                               60
     And I love you, Sunbeam, dearly!”

. . . Thou, Eureka, wast the wood!
     She, the Sunbeam of the Spring,
Vivifying thy dull blood
     Past thy mind’s imagining!
Till the passion of her loving,
     Seething forth with ardours frantic,
Brought the buds forth, set thee moving,
     Made thee almost look romantic.

“O would some power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!”
     Sang the wise ploughman in his power.
And yet, Eureka, had sweet Heaven
To thee her wondrous “giftie” given
     To see thyself as seen that hour,
To know thy features as she knew them,
     To see thy shape as she perceived it;
To see thine eyes, and thro’ and thro’ them,                                 61
     Into thy Soul as she conceived it;
Either thy blood had run mad races,
     And driven thee to some maniac action;
Or (what more likely in the case is)
     Thy wits had frozen to stupefaction!

For never god in olden story,
     When the gods had honour due,
Gather’d brighter guise and glory,
     In an adoring mortal’s view.
Let me own it, though thy nature
     Was sedate and beaver-bred,
As a god thou wert in stature,
     Fair of face and proud of tread;
And thine eyes were luminous glasses,
     And thy face a glorious scroll,
And the radiant light that passes
O’er the dumb flowers and the grasses,
     Caught thy gaze and look’d like Soul;
And the animal vibration                                                               62
     Throbbing in thee at her touch,
The wild earthly exaltation,
     Beasts and birds can feel as much,
Radiating and illuming
     Every fibre of thy flesh,
Made thee beautiful and blooming,
     Great and glorious, fair and fresh;
Fit it seem’d for love to yearn to,
     For a fairer Soul than thine,
Morning, noon, and night to burn to,
     In a flash that felt divine.
Her tall white chief, whom God had brought her
From the far-off Big-Sea Water!
Her warrior of the pale races,
With wise tongues and paintless faces;
More than mortal, a great creature,
Soft of tongue, and fine of feature;
As the wind that blew above her
     O’er the hunting-fields of azure,
As the stately clouds that hover                                                     63
     In the air that pants for pleasure,
Full of strength and motion stately,
     Were thy face and form unto her;
And thy blue eyes pleased her greatly,
     And thy clear voice trembled thro’ her;
And for minute after minute
     She did pore upon thy face,
Read the lines and guess within it
     The great spirit of thy race;
And thou seemedst altogether
     A great creature, fair of skin,
Born in scenes of softer weather,
     Nobler than her savage kin!

As a peasant maiden homely
     Might regard some lordly wooer,
Find each feature trebly comely
     From the pride it stoops unto her;
Thus, Eureka, she esteem’d thee                                                  64
     Fairer for thy finer blood;
She revered thee, loved thee, deem’d thee
     Wholly beautiful and good!
And her day-dream ne’er was broken,
     As some mortal day-dreams are,
By a word or sentence spoken
     In thy coarse vernacular.
For she could not speak a dozen
     Words as used by the white nation!
And thy speech seem’d finely chosen,
     Since she made her own translation,
Scarce a syllable quite catching,
     Yet, upon thy bosom leaning,
Out of every sentence snatching
     Music with its own sweet meaning.

Powers above! the situation’s
     Psychological, I swear!
How express the false relations                                                    65
     Of this strange-assorted pair?
Happy, glorious, self-deluded,
On the handsome face she brooded,
Ne’er by word or gesture driven
From her day-dream sweet as heaven.
In her native language for him
     She had warrior’s names most sweet:
And she loved and did adore him,
     Falling fawn-like at his feet;
More, the rapturous exultation
     Struck him! blinded him, in turn!
Till with passionate sensation
     Body and brain began to burn;—
And he yielded to the bursting,
Burning, blinding, hungering, thirsting,
     Passion felt by beasts and men!
And his eyes caught love and rapture,
And he held her close in capture,
     Kissing lips—that kiss’d again!



White Rose and Red continued

or back to White Rose and Red - Contents








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


The Critical Response
Harriett Jay


Site Diary
Site Search