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{The Earthquake 1885}



Soliloquy of the Grand Être.


I AM God, who was Man. Lord of earth, sea, and sky,
         I endure while men die;
The River of Life laps my feet, flowing by.

Out of darkness it came, into darkness it goes,
         From repose to repose,
And mirrors my face in its flood as it flows.

I am Man, who was men. I am flesh, sense, and soul,
         I was part who am Whole,
I am God, being Man, whom no god may control.

Now, sitting alone on my throne, I survey
         The dim Past far away,
Whence I came, on the borders of infinite day.

All things and all forces combining have brought                                   202
         Me, their God, out of nought,
Through the night-time of sense to the morning of thought.

I think and I am. I look round me, and lo!
         I remember and know
Both whence I have issued and whither I go.

I stand on the heights of the earth, and descry,
         From sky on to sky,
The path through the ages that led me so high.

From the deserts of space where my fire-webs were spun,
         Spreading thence one by one
Till they flash’d into flame and cohered to a sun;

From the great whirling sun whence, with no eye to mark,
         I shot like a spark,
Then spun fiery-wing’d, round and round, through the dark.

There slowly, alone in the silence of space,                                         203
         I moved in my place,
With the night at my back and the light on my face.

First shapeless and formless, then spheric and fair,
         With no sense, with no care,
I cool’d my hot breast in dark fountains of air.

And the mist of my breathing enwrapt me, and grew
         Like a cloud in the blue—
Then flooded my frame with warm oceans of dew.

In the waters I swam, while the sun, red as blood,
         Of the waves of that flood
Wove a green grassy sheen, for my raiment and food.

At last, one bright morn, with no sense, with no sight,
         After æons of night,
I lay like a bride new-apparell’d and bright.

And embracing my Bridegroom, who bent from the skies                     204
         With bright beautiful eyes,
Felt something within me grow quick, and arise.

And straightway I too was the seed, and behold!
         Small and lustrous and cold,
I moved in the slime, taking shapes manifold.

I was quick who was clay. I was living and drew
         Breath of darkness and dew;
From form on to form groping blindly, I grew.

Then form’d like a Monster with wings, I upleapt
         From the waters and swept
Through the mirk of their breath; or lay snakewise, and crept.

Change on change, till I wander’d on hands and on feet
         Where the cloud-waves retreat;
And ever each age I grew fair and more fleet.

The world that was I brighten’d round me, and still,                             205
         Some strange task to fulfil,
I changed and I changed, with no wish, with no will.

At last, after æons of death and decay,
         At the gateways of Day
I stood, looking up at the heavens far away!

The sea at my feet, and the stars o’er my head,
         Naked, dark, with proud tread
I walked on the heights, being quick, who was dead.

I was Man, who was monster. I lived, and I drew
         Gentle breath from the blue,
Looked backward and forward, moved blindly, but knew.

And I heark’d to the sounds of the earth, to the herds
         Of the beasts and the birds,
And I broke to wild babble of mystical words.

I could speak, who was dumb; I could smile, who was stone;             206
         Of those others not one
Could speak or could smile. I was kinglike and lone.

I reign’d o’er the earth, and I slew for a feast
         Both the bird and the beast;
My seed, scatter’d eastward and westward, increased.

But I feared what the bird and the beast did not fear:
         Shapes of dread creeping near
In the night-time, strange voices that cried in mine ear.

And I saw what the bird and the beast could not see—
         Shapes that thunder’d at me
From the clouds overhead, till I prayed on my knee.

And I named the dark gods that the beasts could not name—
         And I crouch’d, fearing blame
At the voice of the waters, the thunder’s acclaim.

One god seemed the strangest and saddest of all,                               207
         Who with silent footfall
Slew my seed in the night, smote the great and the small.

Men were scattered like leaves—I remained being Man;
         ’Neath the blight and the ban,
Like a hound on the grave of its master I ran

On the tombs of my race, crying loud in despair
         To the gods of the air,
Who changed as the clouds and were deaf to my prayer.

Then I learned the one Name that the gods overhead
         Ever whisper’d in dread,
And methought He was Lord of the quick and the dead.

For I looked on the Book of the stars, and could frame
         The strange signs of the Name,
And yet when I called Him He heard not, nor came.

And as wave follows wave, or as cloud follows cloud,                       208
         Flash’d my kind in their crowd,
Then slept in their season, each man in his shroud.

Men died, but I died not; I lived and discerned,
         With my face ever turned
To the skies, where the lights of my universe burned.

Then I groped on the earth, and I searched sea and land
         For the signs of the Hand
Which shaped the cloud-limits, the stars, and the sand.

And all that I found was the footprints of clay
         I had left on my way
From the darkness of night to the borders of day.

Then I search’d the great voids of the heaven for a trace
         Of a Form or a Face;
I questioned the stars—each was dumb in its place.

So I cried “Wheresoever I gaze, I descry,                                          209
         On the earth, in the sky,
One thing that is deathless, the Life that is I!”

And I cried, as I looked on the image I cast
         On the limitless Vast,
“I was from the first, and I am till the last!”

I am Lord of the world. I am God, being Man.
         In the night I began,
Then grew from a cell to a soul, without plan.

As far as the limits of Time and of Space
         I my footprints can trace
Wending onward and upward, from race back to race.

I behold, who was blind. I was part, who am Whole.
         As the waters that roll
Are my seed who forsake and upbuild me, their Soul.

Do they weep? I am calm. Do they doubt? I am sure.                         210
         Though they die, I endure,
As a fire that ascending grows stainless and pure.

I discern all the Past, waves on waves that have fled,
         While I press with slow tread
To a goal I discern not, o’er snowdrifts of dead.

I am Thought in the flesh, who was Sense in the seed.
         Silent, sanctified, freed,
I emerge, the full sign of the Dream and the Deed.

I am God, being Man. In my glory I blend
         Life and death without end.
If the Void hold my peer, let Him speak. I attend.



“So speaks the last and mightiest of the gods,                                     211
Our Master, Man immortal!” Sparkle cried;
“His shadow fills the universe as far
As His own thought can wing; His bright eyes face
The sunlight with a blaze it cannot blind;
And in the hollow of His hand He weighs
The stars that are His playthings. He has slain
All other gods, the greatest and the least,
And now within the inmost heart of earth
He builds a Temple more miraculous
Than any little temple wrought in stone!”

“Say rather,” answered Bishop Eglantine,
“He wearily prepares the funeral pyre
Whereon Himself, in the dim coming years,
Shall mount and royally burn, or (failing fire)
Whereon outstretch’d He shall await the end,
While quietly the skeleton hands of Frost
Weave Him a shroud, and Time doth snow upon Him                          212
Out of the heavens of eternal cold!
For is not one thing sure, that this round world
Must perish in its season, or become
A habitation where no breathing thing
Can longer creep or crawl? Alas for Him,
Your poor Grand Être, enrooted like a tree
In the still changing soil of human life,
When human life itself shall pass away
As breath upon a mirror, and Night resume
Her empire on the rayless universe.
Wiser, methinks, than your pale seer of France,
Who fashion’d this same shadow of a god,
Is he who prophesies in soul’s despair
The sure extinction of the conscious types.
Place for the pessimist!—in Hartmann comes
A later Buddha, and a balefuller.
‘Ere yet Man’s Soul,’ he crieth, ‘merges back
Into the nothingness from which it rose,
Three stages of illusion must be past:
The stage of a belief in happiness                                                         213
In this hard world; the stage of a belief
In happiness in any world to come;
And last, the stage of yet more foolish faith
In any happiness the race can gain
Beyond the life of individual man.
Your god, then, is foredoom’d to nothingness,
Surely as Zeus or any of the slain
Already peopling chaos!’”
                                           “Yet—he reigns!”
Cried Sparkle, “and we do him reverence!
Fairer than Balder, tenderer than Christ,
His brethren, mightier than Jove or Brahn,                                           [2:39]
He adumbrates the wisdom and the joy
Of Nature, and his large beneficence
Extends sweet aid to all created things.
All that he prophesies and promises
He realises and fulfils, unlike
The thunderer on Sinai, or the God
Who wore the crown of thorns!”
                                                     “Alas, poor God!”                        214
Murmur’d that other. “Fashion’d out of pain,
Shapen in doubt, and clothen with despair,
How shall He, having re-created Earth
And brought the fabled Eden back again,
Shut out the memory of His own sad dead?
For looking backward, He beholds the world
Strewn with the graves of those who have lived and loved,
And suffered, to complete His deity;
And looking sadly round Him, He beholds
Millions in act to suffer, hears the wail
That shall not cease for many an age to come;
And looking forward, He sees the cataclysm
Of Nature, and his own completed work
Abolish’d in the twinkling of a star!
O pale phantasmic mockery of a god!
O shadow fainter than all shadows cast
Since first the wild man fear’d the darkness, shrieked
At his own shape projected on the cloud—
A spectre of the Brocken, a forlorn
Image of primal ignorance and fear!                                                    215
Shall we resign for such a dream as this
Our human birthright and our heavenly hope?”

“Nay,” interposed another—Edward Clay,
Pupil of Verity and Ercildoune,
“The exodus from Paris following
The exodus from Houndsditch, what remain
But human types of godhead, fit at least
For temporary worship? I will travel
As far as Mecca on my hands and knees
To see a godlike man,—in whom alone
We find the apex and the crown of things,
The vindication of Humanity.
The individual gives the type divine,
The rest, the race, is nothing!”
Outspoke Dan Paumanok, the pantheist:
“Friend, I have often known your godlike men,
And loved them, not for that wherein they missed,
But that wherein they shared, the common strength                              216
And weakness of the race. I love to look
On Goethe’s feet of clay, to touch the dross
Mixed with the golden heart of Washington,
To think that Socrates, who braved the gods
And drank his hemlock cup so cheerfully,
Shrank from the chiding of a shrew at home.
Gods? Godlike men? I guess all men possess,
By right of manhood, godlike qualities;
But high as ever human type has reached,
The wave of masterful Humanity
Sweeps higher, striking yonder shore of stars!
Worship no man at all, but every man,
Man typical, Man cosmic, multiform,
The flower and fruit of Being; seize the Thought
Effused from human forms as light is shed
Out of the motion of a living thing;
Follow the sunward flight of our fair race,
Which breathes and suffers, multiplies and dies,
And in a million forms of sense and soul
Sweeps into action and is justified!                                                     217
The blacksmith at his anvil, the glad child
Gathering shells upon the ocean shore,
The scientist in his laboratory,
The prostitute that walks the moonlit streets,
The sailor at the masthead, or the poet
Lying and dreaming in the summer wood—
All these, and countless other forms divine,
Are evermore divine enough for me.
Fast through them flows the strange and mystic Thought
We comprehend not being things that die,
But which, if we but knew, is Life itself—
Large Life and ample godhead. We are forms
The god-force fashions, as it fashions suns
And clouds and waves and patient animals,
Dead things and living, quickening through the stars
As through the kindling ovum in the womb,—
And every form of life, howe’er so faint,
Is corporate godhead!”
                                       “Ho! a heretic!”
Cried Douglas, laughing; “come, my myrmidons,                                218
Make ready there the faggots and the stake:
By Cock and by St. Peter, Dan must burn!                                         [3:59]
For less than this Giordano Bruno wore
The martyr’s shirt of fire, for less than this
John Calvin tuck’d the bed of flaming coals
Around Servetus, chuckling to himself
‘He called me names, improbus et blasphemus,
And routing me in argument, affirm’d
Stone bench and table, things inanimate,
To be celestial Substance, very God:
Wherefore I hand him to be burned alive
By such celestial Substance—wood, coals, fire—
And to this God I leave him cheerfully!’
For John had humour, mark you, grim as death
And blue as brimstone; for the rest, he knew
The God of Judah kept His ancient tastes
And dearly loved a human sacrifice!”

“Those days are done for ever,” Primrose said,
“And he who slew Servetus in his wrath                                             219
Slew also priestcraft and the crimson Beast,
So that the lamb of gentleness might reign.”

“Indeed!” cried Sparkle with a smile and sneer.
“One comfort is, grim John invented Hell,
Fit home for such a ravening wolf as he!
Why, yes, we grant you Hell, if you admit
Your Calvin’s place there! But I doubt indeed
If you have yet abolished martyrdom.
I know full many Christians, worthy souls,
Who swear by book and preach to simple men,
Who, did our gentler human laws permit,
Would strip our Cuthberts naked to the skin
And give them fire for raiment willingly!
Ay, and they do it, freely dealing out
Moral damnation and keen social flame,
So that no man alive, if he would keep
His worldly goods and social privileges,
Dare speak the thing he thinks, or openly
Affirm the heavens are empty, God dethroned.                                   220
The thinker is an outcast as of old,
And scarcely dares to phrase his thought aloud
Even on the pillow where he rests his head,
Lest his goodwife should hear the heresy,
And call the curate or the parish priest
To compass his conversion, or at least
Rescue the little ones from blight and bane.”

“Why not?” most sadly answer’d Eglantine;
“Blame not the shepherd if he seeks to save
His lambkins from the touch of Antichrist.
Our gentle Inquisition, though it works
In cruelty no more, but all in love,
Is slack, too slack. The age is godless, sir.
Affrighted by the spectres all around,
Our priests lack zeal! Meantime how busily
The self-approven priests of Science toil—
The Devil still is busier gathering tares
Than angels who upbind the golden grain.”

     Another voice broke in, a woman’s voice,                                      221
Clear-toned and gentle—round Miss Hazlemere’s,
The grey-hair’d lassie with a matron’s form
And mother’s yearning in her virgin eyes:
Half doubter, half believer, she asserts
The privilege of woman’s sex to solve
Problems to which the arid minds of men
Are too untender and rectangular,
Rebukes the Churches, rates the scientists,
And lights a lonely spiritual lamp
By stormy waters, on the rocks of Doubt.
“The truth’s with Father Eglantine,” she said;
“A priestcraft is a priestcraft, though it speaks
The first word of Religion or the last
Of Science. I would trust Geneva John
No more than Torquemada, and no less
Than Cuthbert or than Mors, if e’er the law
Arm’d them with amplitude of priestly power.
Think you there is no Inquisition now?
Alas! I too know scores of simple souls
Who, having kept their foolish faith in God,                                         222
Anthropomorphic, ancient, infantine,
Are, brought before the judges of the time,
Condemn’d as mad or hypocritical!
The old belief is so unfashionable
Among the very wise and over-wise,
That he who dares affirm it openly
Is deem’d unfit to govern his own wife
Or be the lord of his own nursery.
And presently, be sure, if this thing grows,
’Twill be as perilous to believe in God
As ’twas in darker ages to discuss
God’s Substance, or attempt to separate
The Tria Juncta of the Trinity.
No priestcraft and no priest at all, say I,
But freedom and free thought, free scope, free choice
To fashion any fetish that I please!”

So speaking, she was conscious of two eyes,
Youthful and eloquent, regarding her:
Mr. Marsh Mallow, bright and bold, but growing                                 223
Like his own namesake in a watery place,
Caught up the ball she smiling threw his way,
And cried: “Truth still remains with Eglantine!
The Church which builds itself on Peter’s Rock,
And still doth keep the keys of Heaven and Hell,
Lacks zeal to face those Spectres of the mind
Which it might lay to sleep for evermore
With just one wave of the enchanter’s wand.
Meantime they rush abroad like ravening wolves,
Appalling Reason, making Love afraid,
Rending in twain the beauteous heaven-eyed Lamb
Which men have christen’d Faith. But patience yet;
The priestcraft and the priest shall conquer yet,
And men grow holy in their own despite!”

Flush’d to the temples, Stephen Harkaway,
The dandy of revolt, a positivist,
And positive to the very finger-tips,
Made answer: “Yet again the solemn truth
Remains with Eglantine! The priest shall reign,                                    224
And on the sands of time another Pope
Upbuild another and a fairer Rome.
There the apostles of the fair new creed,
Having abolished Christ and all the gods,
Destroyed the current poison of belief
In individual immortality,
Shall to the only god, Humanity,
Sing their hosannah! Ay, and they shall raise
Their Inquisition on the heart of man,
And unto Vice and Ignorance and Disease,
All things that mar their god’s divinity,
Deal the peine forte et dure! Prison and fire
Shall fright the fortune-telling charlatans
Who creep with old wives’ tales from house to house!
Since Man without a creed is stark and starved,
And only feeble souls desiderate
A creed without a priestcraft, ours shall be
Tyrannical, I trust, and, furthermore,
Kind to the very verge of cruelty!
No fetish, Madam, will be tolerated,                                                   225
Nor any juggler’s tricks to cheat the soul.”

“I thank you, sir,” Miss Hazlemere replied,
“For throwing off the mask that we may see
The features of your God. I ever thought
Your Comte a Jesuit in disguise! But come,
Our Queen looks sadly on this war of words,
And longs to hush its Babel. Who will touch
The midriff of the mystery with a song?
For Music, of all angels walking earth,
Is fittest far to phrase the Thought divine
Which dies away in utterance on the lips
That only speak poor human nature’s prose.
Sweet Music gropes her way and walketh blind
Because she saw the Vision long ago
And closed her eyes in joy unutterable,
The light of which lies ever upon her face
Although she cannot see!”
                                           Then at a sign                                         226
From Lady Barbara, I, her poet, rose
And touch’d the instrument, with eager hand
Sounded a prelude of precipitous notes,
Then broke to measured song; and thus I sang:—


Alterations in the 1901 edition of The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan:
v. 2, l. 39: His brethren, mightier than Jove or Brahm,
v. 3, l. 59: By Cock and by St. Peter, Dan must burn. ]





O Mariners, out of the sunlight, and on through the infinite Main,
We have sailed, departing at morning;—and now it is morning again.

Dimly, darkly, and blindly, our life and our journey begun,
Blind and deaf was our sense with the fiery sands of the sun.

Then slowly, grown stronger and stronger, feeling from zone on to zone,
We passed the islands of darkness, and reached the sad Ocean, alone.

But now we pause for a moment, searching the east and the west,
Above and beneath us the waters that mirror our eyes in their breast!

Behind, the dawn and the darkness,—new dawn around and before,—
Ah me, we are weary, and hunger to rest, and to wonder no more.

Yet never, O Mariners, never were we so stately and fair—                                  227
The forms of the flood obey us, we are lords of the birds of the air.

And yet as we sail we are weeping, and crying, “Although we have ranged
So far over infinite waters, transformed out of darkness and changed,

We know that the Deep beneath us must drink us and wash us away”—
Nay, courage—sail on for a season—on, on to the gateways of Day.

Our voyage is only beginning—its dreariest dangers are done,
We now have a compass to guide us, the Soul, and it points to the Sun!

The stars in their places obey us, the winds are as slaves to our sail—
Be sure that we never had journey’d so far but to perish and fail!

Out of the wonderful sunlight, and on through the infinite Main,
We have sail’d, departing at morning—and now it is morning again!





To H——.


DEAREST, thou whose lightest breath
Sweetens Life and conquers Death,
Fair as pure, and purer far
Than the dreams of poets are,
Unto thee, and only thee,
I upon my bended knee
Give my birthright—Poesy!

Ishmael of the singing race,
     Born where sky and mountain meet,
Standing in a lonely place
     With the world below my feet,
Wrapt about with mist and cloud,
Songs of joy I sang aloud!
Then the Muses of the North,
     Like Valkyries heavenly-eyed,
From the storm-cloud trooping forth,
     Found me on the mountain-side,
Buckled on my mail of steel,
Arm’d me nobly head to heel,
Placed a sword within my hand,
     Made me warrior of the Right,
Crying, “Go and take thy stand
In the vanward of the fight!
Hasten forth, made strong and free,
Through thy birthright—Poesy!”

     Then I gazed, and far below                                                 230
Saw the fires of battle glow,
Saw the banners of the world
Kindle, to the winds unfurl’d,—
Saw the pomp of priests and kings
Girt about by underlings,
Hunting down with sword and spear
Liberty, the fleet red-deer,—
Saw the Cities vast and loud,
Foul as Sodom and as proud,
Each a Monster in its mire
Crouching low with eyes of fire;
Heard the cruel trumpet’s blare,
Mix’d with plagal-hymns of prayer,
Saw the world from sea to sea
Blind to Death and Deity!

Singing loud with savage joy
Down the glens I sprang, a boy—
Downward as the torrent swept
On from rock to rock I leapt,
Reach’d the valleys where the fight
Flash’d in flame from morn to night,
Plunged into the thickest strife,
     Scarcely knowing friend from foe,
Knew the bloody stress of life
     Till a sword-thrust laid me low.

Slowly on the moonlit plain,
     Where the dead lay dark and dumb,
I, unclosing mine eyes again,
     Saw my fair Valkyries come.
Bending over me they crooned
Loving runes and heal’d my wound,—
Then they cried, “Uprise once more,                                          231
Seek the City’s inmost core,
Find the wretched and opprest,
     Sing them mountain-songs of cheer;
Help the basest, brand the best,
     We shall watch and hover near—
Face the King upon his throne,
     Face the Priest within the shrine,
Fear no voice save God’s alone
(Thou hast heard it oft intone
     Through the cloud-wrapt woods of pine)—
Take thy place, but close to thee
Clasp thy birthright—Poesy!”

Through the City’s gates I crept
Silent, while the watchmen slept—
Pass’d from shade to shade wherein
Crowded monstrous shapes of sin,
Peer’d against the panes to see
Lamplit rooms of revelry,
Where the warrior’s head did rest
On the harlot’s wine-stain’d breast;
Linger’d on the bridges great,
Melancholy, desolate;
Watch’d the river roll beneath,
Shimmering in the moonbeam’s breath;
Met the fluttering forms that pass
Painted underneath the gas,
Mark’d the murderer’s fearful face
Looming in a lonely place,
Knew the things that wake, and those
Lost in rapture of repose;
Saw the gradual Dawn flash red
On the housetops overhead,
Till the morning glory broke,                                                      232
And the sleeping Monster woke!

Singing loud in savage joy,
In the streets I stood, a boy!
Round me flocked the citizens,
Thronging from their homes and dens,
While I spake of signs and dreams
Learn’d among the hills and streams,
Of the God with veilèd head
Passing by with thunder-tread
On the mountains red with morn
In whose bosom I was born.
In a tongue uncouth I sang,
While the air with laughter rang,
Loudest, merriest, when I told
     Of strange visions in the night—
God and angels manifold
     Shining on the mountain-height;
Then a voice cried, “Come away
     He is mad, this mountaineer!”—
Lonely in the morning gray
     Soon I sang, with none to hear,
Save a few sad outcast men,
And a weeping Magdalen.
Then with loud prophetic song
     To the public marts I came,
Strode amidst the busy throng,
     Curst the avarice and the shame,
Call’d the wrath of God upon
Cæsar sitting on his throne,
By the lights of Heaven and Hell
Shamed the tinsel’d priests of Bel.
Then around me ere I knew
Clamour of the factions grew,
Thronging, shrieking, multiplying,                                               233
Came the legions of the lying,
Cast me down and stript me bare;
Yet I struggled in despair,
Till a poison’d dagger’s thrust
Laid me dying in the dust.

Then the night came, and the skies
With innumerable eyes
Saw me lying there alone,
Bleeding on the streets of stone;
While my voice before I died
On my wild Valkyries cried.
Closing eyelids with a sigh,
     Into night I seem’d to pass,
Seem’d to fade away and fly
     As the breath upon a glass.

Presently I woke again,
     Thinking “All is o’er and done,
This is chilly Death’s domain,
     Far away from moon and sun!”
Even then methought I heard
     Something moving, breathing near;
Struggling with the sense I stirred,
     Open’d eyes in fluttering fear,
And before my dazzled sight
Shone a Vision heavenly bright!
Ah, the Vision! ah, the blest
Rapture, smiling manifest!
O’er me bending stood and smiled
Love in likeness of a Child,—
Holding in her gentle hand
Lilies of the Heavenly Land!
Azure eyes and golden hair,                                                      234
     Gazing on me unafraid,
Sweetly, marvellously fair,
     Stood the little Angel-Maid!

Shall I tell how that same hour
     Little hands my wound did dress,
How I woke to life and power
     Through that Maiden’s tenderness?
Shall I tell (ah, wherefore tell
Unto her who knows so well?)
Of the strength that came to me,
     Not from my Valkyries wild,
Who in need abandon’d me,
     But from that celestial Child?
Though my sword was broken, though
Helm and mail were lying low,
Though my savage strength was shed,
I was quick who late was dead,
All my mountain blood again
Rush’d electric to my brain,
All grew fair where’er I trod
With that messenger of God.

Need I tell (ah, wherefore tell
Unto her who wrought the spell?)
How I seem’d from that strange hour
Arm’d in nakedness of power?—
Yet the dagger’s thrust again,
     Poison’d, treacherous, as before,
Sought me out and would have slain,
     While we passed from door to door,
Curst, rejected, and denied,
Ishmael, I, and thou, my Guide!
Child of Light, thy loving look                                                    235
Brighten’d at each step we took,
Kindled into love more strong
At each cruel slight and wrong,
While thy presence heavenly bright
Grew from child’s to woman’s height,
And within thy pensive eyes
Rose the lore that makes us wise,—
Woman’s love, without whose gleam
Life is like a drunkard’s dream!

Need I tell (ah, wherefore tell,
When thy soul remembers well?)
How smooth Jacob and his race,
Hounding me from place to place,
Hating truth and cursing me,
Stole my birthright—Poesy?
How the sources of my song,
     Darken’d o’er and frozen numb,
Cold and silent lay for long
     Like a fountain seal’d and dumb,
Till thy finger touch’d at last
Springs the world deem’d frozen fast?
High in sunlight, sparkling o’er,
Leaps my fount of song once more,
While thy blessing back to me
Brings my birthright—Poesy!

Child of Light, whose softest breath
Sweetens Life and conquers Death,
Fair as pure, and purer far
Than the dreams of poets are,
Never tongue of man can tell
All thy gifts to Ishmaèl!—
Side by side and hand in hand,—                                              236
Facing yonder mountain-land
Whence I came and whereupon
God the Lord has set His throne,—
Through the shadowy vales below
Climbing sunward, let us go.
If I sing, I sing through thee!
Wherefore, Sweet, still share with me
What I bring on bended knee—
This my birthright,—Poesy!—


                                                   NEW YORK: Yuletide. 1884.


The dedication is to Harriett Jay.]




Edinburgh and London



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


The Critical Response
Harriett Jay


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