by Adam Lindsay Gordon
Previous Part     1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Last Scene "Exeunt"


Where the grave-deeps rot, where the grave-dews rust, They dug, crying, "Earth to earth"— Crying, "Ashes to ashes and dust to dust"— And what are my poor prayers worth? Upon whom shall I call, or in whom shall I trust, Though death were indeed new birth.

And they bid me be glad for my baby's sake That she suffered sinless and young— Would they have me be glad when my breasts still ache Where that small, soft, sweet mouth clung? I am glad that the heart will so surely break That has been so bitterly wrung.

He was false, they tell me, and what if he were? I can only shudder and pray, Pouring out my soul in a passionate prayer For the soul that he cast away; Was there nothing that once was created fair In the potter's perishing clay?

Is it well for the sinner that souls endure? For the sinless soul is it well? Does the pure child lisp to the angels pure? And where does the strong man dwell, If the sad assurance of priests be sure, Or the tale that our preachers tell?

The unclean has follow'd the undefiled, And the ill MAY regain the good, And the man MAY be even as the little child! We are children lost in the wood— Lord! lead us out of this tangled wild, Where the wise and the prudent have been beguil'd, And only the babes have stood.

Doubtful Dreams

Aye, snows are rife in December, And sheaves are in August yet, And you would have me remember, And I would rather forget; In the bloom of the May-day weather, In the blight of October chill, We were dreamers of old together,— As of old, are you dreaming still?

For nothing on earth is sadder Than the dream that cheated the grasp, The flower that turned to the adder, The fruit that changed to the asp; When the day-spring in darkness closes, As the sunset fades from the hills, With the fragrance of perish'd roses, With the music of parch'd-up rills.

When the sands on the sea-shore nourish Red clover and yellow corn; When figs on the thistle flourish, And grapes grow thick on the thorn; When the dead branch, blighted and blasted, Puts forth green leaves in the spring, Then the dream that life has outlasted Dead comfort to life may bring.

I have changed the soil and the season, But whether skies freeze or flame, The soil they flame on or freeze on Is changed in little save name; The loadstone points to the nor'ward, The river runs to the sea; And you would have me look forward, And backward I fain would flee.

I remember the bright spring garlands, The gold that spangled the green, And the purple on fairy far lands, And the white and the red bloom, seen From the spot where we last lay dreaming Together—yourself and I— The soft grass beneath us gleaming, Above us the great grave sky.

And we spoke thus: "Though we have trodden Rough paths in our boyish years; And some with our sweat are sodden, And some are salt with our tears; Though we stumble still, walking blindly, Our paths shall be made all straight; We are weak, but the heavens are kindly, The skies are compassionate."

Is the clime of the old land younger, Where the young dreams longer are nursed? With the old insatiable hunger, With the old unquenchable thirst, Are you longing, as in the old years We have longed so often in vain; Fellow-toilers still, fellow-soldiers, Though the seas have sundered us twain?

But the young dreams surely have faded! Young dreams!—old dreams of young days— Shall the new dream vex us as they did? Or as things worth censure or praise? Real toil is ours, real trouble, Dim dreams of pleasure and pride; Let the dreams disperse like a bubble, So the toil like a dream subside.

Vain toil! men better and braver Rose early and rested late, Whose burdens than ours were graver, And sterner than ours their hate. What fair reward had Achilles? What rest could Alcides win? Vain toil!"Consider the lilies, They toil not neither do spin."

Nor for mortal toiling nor spinning Will the matters of mortals mend; As it was so in the beginning, It shall be so in the end. The web that the weavers weave ill Shall not be woven aright Till the good is brought forth from evil, As day is brought forth from night.

Vain dreams! for our fathers cherish'd High hopes in the days that were; And these men wonder'd and perish'd, Nor better than these we fare; And our due at last is their due, They fought against odds and fell; "En avant, les enfants perdus!" We fight against odds as well.

The skies! Will the great skies care for Our footsteps, straighten our path, Or strengthen our weakness? Wherefore? We have rather incurr'd their wrath; When against the Captain of Hazor The stars in their courses fought, Did the skies shed merciful rays, or With love was the sunshine fraught?

Can they favour man? Can they wrong man? The unapproachable skies? Though these gave strength to the strong man, And wisdom gave to the wise; When strength is turn'd to derision, And wisdom brought to dismay, Shall we wake from a troubled vision, Or rest from a toilsome day?

Nay! I cannot tell. Peradventure Our very toil is a dream, And the works that we praise or censure, It may be, they only seem. If so, I would fain awaken, Or sleep more soundly than so, Or by dreamless sleep overtaken, The dream I would fain forego.

For the great things of earth are small things, The longest life is a span, And there is an end to all things, A season to every man, Whose glory is dust and ashes, Whose spirit is but a spark, That out from the darkness flashes, And flickers out in the dark.

We remember the pangs that wrung us When some went down to the pit, Who faded as leaves among us, Who flitted as shadows flit; What visions under the stone lie? What dreams in the shroud sleep dwell? For we saw the earth pit only, And we heard only the knell.

We know not whether they slumber Who waken on earth no more, As the stars of the heights in number, As sands on the deep sea-shore. Shall stiffness bind them, and starkness Enthral them, by field and flood, Till "the sun shall be turn'd to darkness, And the moon shall be turn'd to blood."

We know not!—worse may enthral men— "The wages of sin are death"; And so death passed upon all men, For sin was born with man's breath. Then the labourer spent with sinning, His hire with his life shall spend; For it was so in the beginning, And shall be so in the end.

There is life in the blacken'd ember While a spark is smouldering yet; In a dream e'en now I remember That dream I had lief forget— I had lief forget, I had e'en lief That dream with THIS doubt should die— "IF WE DID THESE THINGS IN THE GREEN LEAF, WHAT SHALL BE DONE IN THE DRY?"

The Rhyme of Joyous Garde

Through the lattice rushes the south wind, dense With fumes of the flowery frankincense From hawthorn blossoming thickly; And gold is shower'd on grass unshorn, And poppy-fire on shuddering corn, With May-dew flooded and flush'd with morn, And scented with sweetness sickly.

The bloom and brilliance of summer days, The buds that brighten, the fields that blaze, The fruits that ripen and redden, And all the gifts of a God-sent light Are sadder things in my shameful sight Than the blackest gloom of the bitterest night, When the senses darken and deaden.

For the days recall what the nights efface, Scenes of glory and seasons of grace, For which there is no returning— Else the days were even as the nights to me, Now the axe is laid to the root of the tree, And to-morrow the barren trunk may be Cut down—cast forth for the burning.

Would God I had died the death that day When the bishop blessed us before the fray At the shrine of the Saviour's Mother; We buckled the spur, we braced the belt, Arthur and I—together we knelt, And the grasp of his kingly hand I felt As the grasp of an only brother.

The body and the blood of Christ we shared, Knees bended and heads bow'd down and bared, We listened throughout the praying. Eftsoon the shock of the foe we bore, Shoulder to shoulder on Severn's shore, Till our hilts were glued to our hands with gore, And our sinews slacken'd with slaying.

Was I far from Thy Kingdom, gracious Lord, With a shattered casque and a shiver'd sword, On the threshold of Mary's chapel? Pardie! I had well-nigh won that crown Which endureth more than a knight's renown, When the pagan giant had got me down, Sore spent in the deadly grapple.

May his craven spirit find little grace, He was seal'd to Satan in any case, Yet the loser had been the winner; Had I waxed fainter or he less faint, Then my soul was free from this loathsome taint, I had died as a Christian knight—no saint Perchance, yet a pardon'd sinner.

But I strove full grimly beneath his weight, I clung to his poignard desperate, I baffled the thrust that followed, And writhing uppermost rose, to deal, With bare three inches of broken steel, One stroke—Ha! the headpiece crash'd piecemeal, And the knave in his black blood wallow'd.

So I lived for worse—in fulness of time, When peace for a season sway'd the clime, And spears for a space were idle, Trusted and chosen of all the court, A favoured herald of fair report, I travell'd eastward, and duly brought A bride to a queenly bridal.

Pardie! 'twas a morning even as this (The skies were warmer if aught, I wis, Albeit the fields were duller; Or it may be that the envious spring, Abash'd at the sight of a fairer thing, Wax'd somewhat sadder of colouring Because of her faultless colour).

With her through the Lyonesse I rode, Till the woods with the noontide fervour glow'd, And there for a space we halted, Where the intertwining branches made Cool carpets of olive-tinted shade, And the floors with fretwork of flame inlaid From leafy lattices vaulted.

And scarf and mantle for her I spread, And strewed them over the grassiest bed, And under the greenest awning, And loosen'd latch and buckle, and freed From selle and housing the red roan steed, And the jennet of swift Iberian breed, That had carried us since the dawning.

The brown thrush sang through the briar and bower, All flush'd or frosted with forest flower In the warm sun's wanton glances; And I grew deaf to the song bird—blind To blossom that sweeten'd the sweet spring wind— I saw her only—a girl reclined In her girlhood's indolent trances.

And the song and the scent and sense wax'd weak, The wild rose withered beside the cheek She poised on her fingers slender; The soft spun gold of her glittering hair Ran rippling into a wondrous snare, That flooded the round arm bright and bare, And the shoulder's silvery splendour.

The deep dusk fires in those dreamy eyes, Like seas clear-coloured in summer skies, Were guiltless of future treason; And I stood watching her, still and mute, Yet the evil seed in my soul found root, And the sad plant throve, and the sinful fruit Grew ripe in the shameful season.

Let the sin be mine as the shame was hers, In desolate days of departed years She had leisure for shame and sorrow— There was light repentance and brief remorse, When I rode against Saxon foes or Norse, With clang of harness and clatter of horse, And little heed for the morrow.

And now she is dead, men tell me, and I, In this living death must I linger and lie Till my cup to the dregs is drunken? I looked through the lattice worn and grim, With eyelids darken'd and eyesight dim, And weary body and wasted limb, And sinew slacken'd and shrunken.

She is dead! Gone down to the burial-place, Where the grave-dews cleave to her faultless face; Where the grave-sods crumble around her; And that bright burden of burnish'd gold, That once on those waxen shoulders roll'd, Will it spoil with the damps of the deadly mould? Was it shorn when the church vows bound her?

Now I know full well that the fair spear shaft Shall never gladden my hand, nor the haft Of the good sword grow to my fingers; Now the maddest fray, the merriest din, Would fail to quicken this life-stream thin, Yet the sleepy poison of that sweet sin In the sluggish current still lingers.

Would God I had slept with the slain men, long Or ever the heart conceived a wrong That the innermost soul abhorred— Or ever these lying lips were strained To her lids, pearl-tinted and purple-vein'd, Or ever those traitorous kisses stained The snows of her spotless forehead.

Let me gather a little strength to think, As one who reels on the outermost brink, To the innermost gulf descending. In that truce the longest and last of all, In the summer nights of that festival— Soft vesture of samite and silken pall— The beginning came of the ending.

And one trod softly with sandal'd feet— Ah! why are the stolen waters sweet?— And one crept stealthily after; I would I had taken him there and wrung His knavish neck when the dark door swung, Or torn by the roots his treacherous tongue, And stifled his hateful laughter.

So the smouldering scandal blazed—but he, My king, to the last put trust in me— Aye, well was his trust requited! Now priests may patter, and bells may toll, He will need no masses to aid his soul; When the angels open the judgment scroll, His wrong will be tenfold righted.

Then dawn'd the day when the mail was donn'd, And the steed for the strife caparison'd, But not 'gainst the Norse invader. Then was bloodshed—not by untoward chance, As the blood that is drawn by the jouster's lance, The fray in the castle of Melegrance, The fight in the lists with Mador.

Then the guilt made manifest, then the siege, When the true men rallying round the liege Beleaguer'd his base betrayer; Then the fruitless parleys, the pleadings vain, And the hard-fought battles with brave Gawaine, Twice worsted, and once so nearly slain, I may well be counted his slayer.

Then the crime of Modred—a little sin At the side of mine, though the knave was kin To the king by the knave's hand stricken. And the once-loved knight, was he there to save That knightly king who that knighthood gave? Ah, Christ! will he greet me as knight or knave In the day when the dust shall quicken.

Had he lightly loved, had he trusted less, I had sinn'd perchance with the sinfulness That through prayer and penance is pardoned. Oh, love most loyal! Oh, faith most sure! In the purity of a soul so pure I found my safeguard—I sinn'd secure, Till my heart to the sin grew harden'd.

We were glad together in gladsome meads, When they shook to the strokes of our snorting steeds; We were joyful in joyous lustre When it flush'd the coppice or fill'd the glade, Where the horn of the Dane or the Saxon bray'd, And we saw the heathen banner display'd, And the heathen lances cluster.

Then a steel-shod rush and a steel-clad ring, And a crash of the spear staves splintering, And the billowy battle blended. Riot of chargers, revel of blows, And fierce, flush'd faces of fighting foes, From croup to bridle, that reel'd and rose, In a sparkle of sword-play splendid.

And the long, lithe sword in the hand became As a leaping light, as a falling flame, As a fire through the flax that hasted; Slender, and shining, and beautiful, How it shore through shivering casque and skull, And never a stroke was void and null, And never a thrust was wasted.

I have done for ever with all these things— Deeds that were joyous to knights and kings, In days that with songs were cherish'd. The songs are ended, the deeds are done, There shall none of them gladden me now, not one; There is nothing good for me under the sun, But to perish as these things perish'd.

Shall it profit me aught that the bishop seeks My presence daily, and duly speaks Soft words of comfort and kindness? Shall it aught avail me?"Certes," he said, "Though thy soul is darken'd, be not afraid— God hateth nothing that He hath made— His light shall disperse thy blindness."

I am not afraid for myself, although I know I have had that light, and I know The greater my condemnation. When I well-nigh swoon'd in the deep-drawn bliss Of that first long, sweet, slow, stolen kiss, I would gladly have given, for less than this, Myself, with my soul's salvation.

I would languish thus in some loathsome den, As a thing of naught in the eyes of men, In the mouths of men as a by-word, Through years of pain, and when God saw fit, Singing his praises my soul should flit To the darkest depth of the nethermost pit, If HERS could be wafted skyward.

Lord Christ! have patience a little while, I have sinn'd because I am utterly vile, Having light, loving darkness rather. And I pray Thee deal with me as Thou wilt, Yet the blood of Thy foes I have freely spilt, And, moreover, mine is the greater guilt In the sight of Thee and Thy Father.

That saint, Thy servant, was counted dear Whose sword in the garden grazed the ear Of Thine enemy, Lord Redeemer! Not thus on the shattering visor jarr'd In this hand the iron of the hilt cross-barr'd, When the blade was swallow'd up to the guard Through the teeth of the strong blasphemer.

If ever I smote as a man should smite, If I struck one stroke that seem'd good in Thy sight, By Thy loving mercy prevailing, Lord! let her stand in the light of Thy face, Cloth'd with Thy love and crown'd with Thy grace, When I gnash my teeth in the terrible place That is fill'd with weeping and wailing.

Shall I comfort my soul on account of this? In the world to come, whatsoever it is, There is no more earthly ill-doing— For the dusty darkness shall slay desire, And the chaff may burn with unquenchable fire, But for green wild growth of thistle and briar At least there is no renewing.

And this grievous burden of life shall change In the dim hereafter, dreamy and strange, And sorrows and joys diurnal. And partial blessings and perishing ills Shall fade in the praise, or the pang that fills The glory of God's eternal hills, Or the gloom of His gulf eternal.

Yet if all things change to the glory of One Who for all ill-doers gave His Own sweet Son, To His goodness so shall He change ill, When the world as a wither'd leaf shall be, And the sky like a shrivell'd scroll shall flee, And souls shall be summon'd from land and sea, At the blast of His bright archangel.

Thora's Song


We severed in autumn early, Ere the earth was torn by the plough; The wheat and the oats and the barley Are ripe for the harvest now. We sunder'd one misty morning, Ere the hills were dimm'd by the rain, Through the flowers those hills adorning— Thou comest not back again.

My heart is heavy and weary With the weight of a weary soul; The mid-day glare grows dreary, And dreary the midnight scroll. The corn-stalks sigh for the sickle, 'Neath the load of the golden grain; I sigh for a mate more fickle— Thou comest not back again.

The warm sun riseth and setteth, The night bringeth moist'ning dew, But the soul that longeth forgetteth The warmth and the moisture, too; In the hot sun rising and setting There is naught save feverish pain; There are tears in the night-dews wetting— Thou comest not back again.

Thy voice in mine ear still mingles With the voices of whisp'ring trees; Thy kiss on my cheek still tingles At each kiss of the summer breeze; While dreams of the past are thronging For substance of shades in vain, I am waiting, watching, and longing— Thou comest not back again.

Waiting and watching ever, Longing and lingering yet, Leaves rustle and corn-stalks quiver, Winds murmur and waters fret; No answer they bring, no greeting, No speech save that sad refrain, Nor voice, save an echo repeating— He cometh not back again.

The Three Friends

(From the French)

The sword slew one in deadly strife; One perish'd by the bowl; The third lies self-slain by the knife; For three the bells may toll— I loved her better than my life, And better than my soul.

Aye, father! hast thou come at last? 'Tis somewhat late to pray; Life's crimson tides are ebbing fast, They drain my soul away; Mine eyes with film are overcast, The lights are waning grey.

This curl from her bright head I shore, And this her hands gave mine; See, one is stained with purple gore, And one with poison'd wine; Give these to her when all is o'er— How serpent-like they twine!

We three were brethren in arms, And sworn companions we; We held this motto, "Whoso harms The one shall harm the three!" Till, matchless for her subtle charms, Beloved of each was she.

(These two were slain that I might kiss Her sweet mouth. I did well; I said, "There is no greater bliss For those in heaven that dwell;" I lost her; then I said, "There is No fiercer pang in hell!")

We have upheld each other's rights, Shared purse, and borrow'd blade; Have stricken side by side in fights; And side by side have prayed In churches. We were Christian knights, And she a Christian maid.

We met at sunrise, he and I, My comrade—'twas agreed The steel our quarrel first should try, The poison should succeed; For two of three were doom'd to die, And one was doom'd to bleed.

We buckled to the doubtful fray, At first with some remorse; But he who must be slain, or slay, Soon strikes with vengeful force. He fell; I left him where he lay, Among the trampled gorse.

Did passion warp my heart and head To madness? And, if so, Can madness palliate bloodshed?— It may be—I shall know When God shall gather up the dead From where the four winds blow.

We met at sunset, he and I— My second comrade true; Two cups with wine were brimming high, And one was drugg'd—we knew Not which, nor sought we to descry; Our choice by lot we drew.

And there I sat with him to sup; I heard him blithely speak Of by-gone days—the fatal cup Forgotten seem'd—his cheek Was ruddy: father, raise me up, My voice is waxing weak.

We drank; his lips turned livid white, His cheeks grew leaden ash; He reel'd—I heard his temples smite The threshold with a crash! And from his hand, in shivers bright, I saw the goblet flash.

The morrow dawn'd with fragrance rare, The May breeze, from the west, Just fann'd the sleepy olives, where She heard and I confess'd; My hair entangled with her hair, Her breast strained to my breast.

On the dread verge of endless gloom My soul recalls that hour; Skies languishing with balm of bloom, And fields aflame with flower; And slow caresses that consume, And kisses that devour.

Ah! now with storm the day seems rife, My dull ears catch the roll Of thunder, and the far sea strife, On beach and bar and shoal— I loved her better than my life, And better than my soul.

She fled! I cannot prove her guilt, Nor would I an I could; See, life for life is fairly spilt! And blood is shed for blood; Her white hands neither touched the hilt, Nor yet the potion brew'd.

Aye! turn me from the sickly south, Towards the gusty north; The fruits of sin are dust and drouth, The end of crime is wrath— The lips that pressed her rose-like mouth Are choked with blood-red froth.

Then dig the grave-pit deep and wide, Three graves thrown into one, And lay three corpses side by side, And tell their tale to none; But bring her back in all her pride To see what she hath done.

A Song of Autumn

"Where shall we go for our garlands glad At the falling of the year, When the burnt-up banks are yellow and sad, When the boughs are yellow and sere? Where are the old ones that once we had, And when are the new ones near? What shall we do for our garlands glad At the falling of the year?"

"Child! can I tell where the garlands go? Can I say where the lost leaves veer On the brown-burnt banks, when the wild winds blow, When they drift through the dead-wood drear? Girl! when the garlands of next year glow, YOU may gather again, my dear— But I go where the last year's lost leaves go At the falling of the year."

The Romance of Britomarte

As related by Sergeant Leigh on the night he got his captaincy at the Restoration.

I'll tell you a story; but pass the "jack", And let us make merry to-night, my men. Aye, those were the days when my beard was black— I like to remember them now and then— Then Miles was living, and Cuthbert there, On his lip was never a sign of down; But I carry about some braided hair, That has not yet changed from the glossy brown That it showed the day when I broke the heart Of that bravest of destriers, "Britomarte".

Sir Hugh was slain (may his soul find grace!) In the fray that was neither lost nor won At Edgehill—then to St. Hubert's Chase Lord Goring despatched a garrison— But men and horses were ill to spare, And ere long the soldiers were shifted fast. As for me, I never was quartered there Till Marston Moor had been lost; at last, As luck would have it, alone, and late In the night, I rode to the northern gate.

I thought, as I passed through the moonlit park, On the boyish days I used to spend In the halls of the knight lying stiff and stark— Thought on his lady, my father's friend (Mine, too, in spite of my sinister bar, But with that my story has naught to do)— She died the winter before the war— Died giving birth to the baby Hugh. He pass'd ere the green leaves clothed the bough, And the orphan girl was the heiress now.

When I was a rude and a reckless boy, And she a brave and a beautiful child, I was her page, her playmate, her toy— I have crown'd her hair with the field-flowers wild, Cowslip and crow-foot and colt's-foot bright— I have carried her miles when the woods were wet, I have read her romances of dame and knight; She was my princess, my pride, my pet, There was then this proverb us twain between, For the glory of God and of Gwendoline.

She had grown to a maiden wonderful fair, But for years I had scarcely seen her face. Now, with troopers Holdsworth, Huntly, and Clare, Old Miles kept guard at St. Hubert's Chase, And the chatelaine was a Mistress Ruth, Sir Hugh's half-sister, an ancient dame, But a mettlesome soul had she forsooth, As she show'd when the time of her trial came. I bore despatches to Miles and to her, To warn them against the bands of Kerr.

And mine would have been a perilous ride With the rebel horsemen—we knew not where They were scattered over that country side,— If it had not been for my brave brown mare. She was iron-sinew'd and satin-skinn'd, Ribb'd like a drum and limb'd like a deer, Fierce as the fire and fleet as the wind— There was nothing she couldn't climb or clear— Rich lords had vex'd me, in vain, to part, For their gold and silver, with Britomarte.

Next morn we muster'd scarce half a score, With the serving men, who were poorly arm'd— Five soldiers, counting myself, no more, And a culverin, which might well have harm'd Us, had we used it, but not our foes, When, with horses and foot, to our doors they came, And a psalm-singer summon'd us (through his nose), And deliver'd—"This, in the people's name, Unto whoso holdeth this fortress here, Surrender! or bide the siege—John Kerr."

'Twas a mansion built in a style too new, A castle by courtesy, he lied Who called it a fortress—yet, 'tis true, It had been indifferently fortified— We were well provided with bolt and bar— And while I hurried to place our men, Old Miles was call'd to a council of war With Mistress Ruth and with HER, and when They had argued loudly and long, those three, They sent, as a last resource, for me.

In the chair of state sat erect Dame Ruth; She had cast aside her embroidery; She had been a beauty, they say, in her youth, There was much fierce fire in her bold black eye. "Am I deceived in you both?" quoth she. "If one spark of her father's spirit lives In this girl here—so, this Leigh, Ralph Leigh, Let us hear what counsel the springald gives." Then I stammer'd, somewhat taken aback— (Simon, you ale-swiller, pass the "jack").

The dame wax'd hotter—"Speak out, lad, say, Must we fall in that canting caitiff's power? Shall we yield to a knave and a turncoat? Nay, I had liever leap from our topmost tower. For a while we can surely await relief; Our walls are high and our doors are strong." This Kerr was indeed a canting thief— I know not rightly, some private wrong He had done Sir Hugh, but I know this much, Traitor or turncoat, he suffer'd as such.

Quoth Miles—"Enough! your will shall be done; Relief may arrive by the merest chance, But your house ere dusk will be lost and won; They have got three pieces of ordnance." Then I cried, "Lord Guy, with four troops of horse, Even now is biding at Westbrooke town; If a rider could break through the rebel force, He would bring relief ere the sun goes down; Through the postern door could I make one dart, I could baffle them all upon Britomarte."

Miles mutter'd "Madness!" Dame Ruth look'd grave, Said, "True, though we cannot keep one hour The courtyard, no, nor the stables save, They will have to batter piecemeal the tower, And thus——" But suddenly she halted there. With a shining hand on my shoulder laid Stood Gwendoline. She had left her chair, And, "Nay, if it needs must be done," she said, "Ralph Leigh will gladly do it, I ween, For the glory of God and of Gwendoline."

I had undertaken a heavier task For a lighter word. I saddled with care, Nor cumber'd myself with corselet nor casque (Being loth to burden the brave brown mare). Young Clare kept watch on the wall—he cried, "Now, haste, Ralph! this is the time to seize; The rebels are round us on every side, But here they straggle by twos and threes." Then out I led her, and up I sprung, And the postern door on its hinges swung.

I had drawn this sword—you may draw it and feel, For this is the blade that I bore that day— There's a notch even now on the long grey steel, A nick that has never been rasp'd away. I bow'd my head and I buried my spurs, One bound brought the gliding green beneath; I could tell by her back-flung, flatten'd ears, She had fairly taken the bit in her teeth— (What, Jack, have you drain'd your namesake dry, Left nothing to quench the thirst of a fly?)

These things are done, and are done with, lad, In far less time than your talker tells; The sward with their hoof-strokes shook like mad, And rang with their carbines and petronels; And they shouted, "Cross him and cut him off," "Surround him," "Seize him," "Capture the clown, Or kill him," "Shall he escape to scoff In your faces?" "Shoot him or cut him down." And their bullets whistled on every side; Many were near us and more were wide.

Not a bullet told upon Britomarte; Suddenly snorting, she launched along; So the osprey dives where the seagulls dart, So the falcon swoops where the kestrels throng. And full in my front one pistol flash'd, And right in my path their sergeant got. How are jack-boots jarr'd, how are stirrups clash'd, While the mare like a meteor past him shot; But I clove his skull with a backstroke clean, For the glory of God and of Gwendoline.

And as one whom the fierce wind storms in the face, With spikes of hail and with splinters of rain, I, while we fled through St. Hubert's Chase, Bent till my cheek was amongst her mane. To the north, full a league of the deer-park lay, Smooth, springy turf, and she fairly flew, And the sound of their hoof-strokes died away, And their far shots faint in the distance grew. Loudly I laughed, having won the start, At the folly of following Britomarte.

They had posted a guard at the northern gate— Some dozen of pikemen and musketeers. To the tall park palings I turn'd her straight; She veer'd in her flight as the swallow veers. And some blew matches and some drew swords, And one of them wildly hurl'd his pike, But she clear'd by inches the oaken boards, And she carried me yards beyond the dyke; Then gaily over the long green down We gallop'd, heading for Westbrooke town.

The green down slopes to the great grey moor, The grey moor sinks to the gleaming Skelt— Sudden and sullen, and swift and sure, The whirling water was round my belt. She breasted the bank with a savage snort, And a backward glance of her bloodshot eye, And "Our Lady of Andover's" flash'd like thought, And flitted St. Agatha's nunnery, And the firs at "The Ferngrove" fled on the right, And "Falconer's Tower" on the left took flight.

And over "The Ravenswold" we raced— We rounded the hill by "The Hermit's Well"— We burst on the Westbrooke Bridge—"What haste? What errand?" shouted the sentinel. "To Beelzebub with the Brewer's knave!" "Carolus Rex and he of the Rhine!" Galloping past him, I got and gave In the gallop password and countersign, All soak'd with water and soil'd with mud, With the sleeve of my jerkin half drench'd in blood.

Now, Heaven be praised that I found him there— Lord Guy. He said, having heard my tale, "Leigh, let my own man look to your mare, Rest and recruit with our wine and ale; But first must our surgeon attend to you; You are somewhat shrewdly stricken, no doubt." Then he snatched a horn from the wall and blew, Making "Boot and Saddle" ring sharply out. "Have I done good service this day?" quoth I. "Then I will ride back in your troop, Lord Guy."

In the street I heard how the trumpets peal'd, And I caught the gleam of a morion From the window—then to the door I reel'd; I had lost more blood than I reckon'd upon; He eyed me calmly with keen grey eyes— Stern grey eyes of a steel-blue grey— Said, "The wilful man can never be wise, Nathless, the wilful must have his way," And he pour'd from a flagon some fiery wine; I drain'd it, and straightway strength was mine.

* * * * *

I was with them all the way on the brown— "Guy to the rescue!" "God and the king!" We were just in time, for the doors were down; And didn't our sword-blades rasp and ring, And didn't we hew and didn't we hack? The sport scarce lasted minutes ten— (Aye, those were the days when my beard was black; I like to remember them now and then). Though they fought like fiends, we were four to one, And we captured those that refused to run.

We have not forgotten it, Cuthbert, boy! That supper scene when the lamps were lit; How the women (some of them) sobb'd for joy, How the soldiers drank the deeper for it; How the dame did honours, and Gwendoline, How grandly she glided into the hall, How she stoop'd with the grace of a girlish queen, And kiss'd me gravely before them all; And the stern Lord Guy, how gaily he laugh'd, Till more of his cup was spilt than quaff'd.

Brown Britomarte lay dead in her straw Next morn—we buried her—brave old girl! John Kerr, we tried him by martial law, And we twisted some hemp for the trait'rous churl; And she—I met her alone—said she, "You have risk'd your life, you have lost your mare, And what can I give in return, Ralph Leigh?" I replied, "One braid of that bright brown hair." And with that she bow'd her beautiful head, "You can take as much as you choose," she said.

And I took it—it may be, more than enough— And I shore it rudely, close to the roots. The wine or wounds may have made me rough, And men at the bottom are merely brutes. Three weeks I slept at St. Hubert's Chase; When I woke from the fever of wounds and wine, I could scarce believe that the ghastly face That the glass reflected was really mine. I sought the hall—where a wedding HAD BEEN— The wedding of Guy and of Gwendoline.

The romance of a grizzled old trooper's life May make you laugh in your sleeves: laugh out, Lads; we have most of us seen some strife; We have all of us had some sport, no doubt. I have won some honour and gain'd some gold, Now that our king returns to his own; If the pulses beat slow, if the blood runs cold, And if friends have faded and loves have flown, Then the greater reason is ours to drink, And the more we swallow the less we shall think.

At the battle of Naseby, Miles was slain, And Huntly sank from his wounds that week; We left young Clare upon Worcester plain— How the "Ironside" gash'd his girlish cheek. Aye, strut, and swagger, and ruffle anew, Gay gallants, now that the war is done! They fought like fiends (give the fiend his due)— We fought like fops, it was thus they won. Holdsworth is living for aught I know, At least he was living two years ago,

And Guy—Lord Guy—so stately and stern, He is changed, I met him at Winchester; He has grown quite gloomy and taciturn. Gwendoline!—why do you ask for her? Died as her mother had died before— Died giving birth to the baby Guy! Did my voice shake? Then am I fool the more. Sooner or later we all must die; But, at least, let us live while we live to-night. The DAYS may be dark, but the LAMPS are bright.

For to me the sunlight seems worn and wan: The sun, he is losing his splendour now— He can never shine as of old he shone On her glorious hair and glittering brow. Ah! those DAYS THAT WERE, when my beard was black, NOW I have only the NIGHTS THAT ARE. What, landlord, ho! bring in haste burnt sack, And a flask of your fiercest usquebaugh. You, Cuthbert! surely you know by heart The story of HER and of Britomarte.


The Lord shall slay or the Lord shall save! He is righteous whether He save or slay— Brother, give thanks for the gifts He gave, Though the gifts He gave He hath taken away. Shall we strive for that which is nothing? Nay. Shall we hate each other for that which fled? She is but a marvel of modelled clay, And the smooth, clear white, and the soft, pure red, That we coveted, shall endure no day.

Was it wise or well that I hated you For the fruit that hung too high on the tree? For the blossom out of our reach that grew, Was it well or wise that you hated me?— My hate has flown, and your hate shall flee. Let us veil our faces like children chid— Can that violet orb we swore by see Through that violet-vein'd, transparent lid?— Now the Lord forbid that this strife should be.

Would you knit the forehead or clench the fist, For the curls that never were well caress'd— For the red that never was fairly kiss'd— For the white that never was fondly press'd? Shall we nourish wrath while she lies at rest Between us? Surely our wrath shall cease. We would fain know better—the Lord knows best— Is there peace between us? Yea, there is peace, In the soul's release she at least is blest.

Let us thank the Lord for His bounties all, For the brave old days of pleasure and pain, When the world for both of us seem'd too small— Though the love was void and the hate was vain— Though the word was bitter between us twain, And the bitter word was kin to the blow, For her gloss and ripple of rich gold rain, For her velvet crimson and satin snow— Though we never shall know the old days again.

The Lord!—His mercy is great, men say; His wrath, men say, is a burning brand— Let us praise Him whether He save or slay, And above her body let hand join hand. We shall meet, my friend, in the spirit land— Will our strife renew? Nay, I dare not trust, For the grim, great gulf that cannot be spann'd Will divide us from her. The Lord is just, She shall not be thrust where our spirits stand.

A Basket of Flowers

from Dawn to Dusk


On skies still and starlit White lustres take hold, And grey flushes scarlet, And red flashes gold. And sun-glories cover The rose shed above her, Like lover and lover They flame and unfold.

* * * * *

Still bloom in the garden Green grass-plot, fresh lawn, Though pasture lands harden And drought fissures yawn. While leaves not a few fall, Let rose leaves for you fall, Leaves pearl-strung with dew-fall, And gold shot with dawn.

Does the grass-plot remember The fall of your feet In autumn's red ember, When drought leagues with heat, When the last of the roses Despairingly closes In the lull that reposes Ere storm winds wax fleet?

Love's melodies languish In "Chastelard's" strain, And "Abelard's" anguish Is love's pleasant pain! And "Sappho" rehearses Love's blessings and curses In passionate verses Again and again.

And I!—I have heard of All these long ago, Yet never one word of Their song-lore I know; Not under my finger In songs of the singer Love's litanies linger, Love's rhapsodies flow.

Fresh flowers in a basket— An offering to you— Though you did not ask it, Unbidden I strew; With heat and drought striving, Some blossoms still living May render thanksgiving For dawn and for dew.

The garlands I gather, The rhymes I string fast, Are hurriedly rather Than heedlessly cast. Yon tree's shady awning Is short'ning, and warning Far spent is the morning, And I must ride fast.

Songs empty, yet airy, I've striven to write, For failure, dear Mary! Forgive me—Good-night! Songs and flowers may beset you, I can only regret you, While the soil where I met you Recedes from my sight.

For the sake of past hours, For the love of old times, Take "A Basket of Flowers", And a bundle of rhymes; Though all the bloom perish E'en YOUR hand can cherish, While churlish and bearish The verse-jingle chimes.

And Eastward by Nor'ward Looms sadly MY track, And I must ride forward, And still I look back,— Look back—ah, how vainly! For while I see plainly, My hands on the reins lie Uncertain and slack.

The warm wind breathes strong breath, The dust dims mine eye, And I draw one long breath, And stifle one sigh. Green slopes, softly shaded, Have flitted and faded— My dreams flit as they did— Good-night!—and—Good-bye!

* * * * *


Lost rose! end my story! Dead core and dry husk— Departed thy glory And tainted thy musk. Night spreads her dark limbs on The face of the dim sun, So flame fades to crimson And crimson to dusk.

A Fragment

They say that poison-sprinkled flowers Are sweeter in perfume Than when, untouched by deadly dew, They glowed in early bloom.

They say that men condemned to die Have quaffed the sweetened wine With higher relish than the juice Of the untampered vine.

They say that in the witch's song, Though rude and harsh it be, There blends a wild, mysterious strain Of weirdest melody.

And I believe the devil's voice Sinks deeper in our ear Than any whisper sent from Heaven, However sweet and clear.

[End of Bush Ballads.]


To My Sister

Lines written by the late A. L. Gordon On 4th August, 1853, Being three days before he sailed for Australia.

Across the trackless seas I go, No matter when or where, And few my future lot will know, And fewer still will care. My hopes are gone, my time is spent, I little heed their loss, And if I cannot feel content, I cannot feel remorse.

My parents bid me cross the flood, My kindred frowned at me; They say I have belied my blood, And stained my pedigree. But I must turn from those who chide, And laugh at those who frown; I cannot quench my stubborn pride, Nor keep my spirits down.

I once had talents fit to win Success in life's career, And if I chose a part of sin, My choice has cost me dear. But those who brand me with disgrace Will scarcely dare to say They spoke the taunt before my face, And went unscathed away.

My friends will miss a comrade's face, And pledge me on the seas, Who shared the wine-cup or the chase, Or follies worse than these. A careless smile, a parting glass, A hand that waves adieu, And from my sight they soon will pass, And from my memory too.

I loved a girl not long ago, And, till my suit was told, I thought her breast as fair as snow, 'Twas very near as cold; And yet I spoke, with feelings more Of recklessness than pain, Those words I never spoke before, Nor never shall again.

Her cheek grew pale, in her dark eye I saw the tear-drop shine; Her red lips faltered in reply, And then were pressed to mine. A quick pulsation of the heart! A flutter of the breath! A smothered sob—and thus we part, To meet no more till death.

And yet I may at times recall Her memory with a sigh; At times for me the tears may fall And dim her sparkling eye. But absent friends are soon forgot, And in a year or less 'Twill doubtless be another's lot Those very lips to press!

With adverse fate we best can cope When all we prize has fled; And where there's little left to hope, There's little left to dread! Oh, time glides ever quickly by! Destroying all that's dear; On earth there's little worth a sigh, And nothing worth a tear!

What fears have I? What hopes in life? What joys can I command? A few short years of toil and strife In a strange and distant land! When green grass sprouts above this clay (And that might be ere long), Some friends may read these lines and say, The world has judged him wrong.

There is a spot not far away Where my young sister sleeps, Who seems alive but yesterday, So fresh her memory keeps; For we have played in childhood there Beneath the hawthorn's bough, And bent our knee in childish prayer I cannot utter now!

Of late so reckless and so wild, That spot recalls to me That I was once a laughing child, As innocent as she; And there, while August's wild flow'rs wave, I wandered all alone, Strewed blossoms on her little grave, And knelt beside the stone.

I seem to have a load to bear, A heavy, choking grief; Could I have forced a single tear I might have felt relief. I think my hot and restless heart Has scorched the channels dry, From which those sighs of sorrow start To moisten cheek and eye.

Sister, farewell! farewell once more To every youthful tie! Friends! parents! kinsmen! native shore! To each and all good-bye! And thoughts which for the moment seem To bind me with a spell, Ambitious hope! love's boyish dream! To you a last farewell!

"The Old Leaven"

A Dialogue

Mark: So, Maurice, you sail to-morrow, you say? And you may or may not return? Be sociable, man! for once in a way, Unless you're too old to learn. The shadows are cool by the water side Where the willows grow by the pond, And the yellow laburnum's drooping pride Sheds a golden gleam beyond. For the blended tints of the summer flowers, For the scents of the summer air, For all nature's charms in this world of ours, 'Tis little or naught you care. Yet I know for certain you haven't stirred Since noon from your chosen spot; And you've hardly spoken a single word— Are you tired, or cross, or what? You're fretting about those shares you bought, They were to have gone up fast; But I heard how they fell to nothing—in short, They were given away at last.

Maurice: No, Mark, I'm not so easily cross'd; 'Tis true that I've had a run Of bad luck lately; indeed, I've lost; Well! somebody else has won.

Mark: The glass has fallen, perhaps you fear A return of your ancient stitch— That souvenir of the Lady's Mere, Park palings and double ditch.

Maurice: You're wrong. I'm not in the least afraid Of that. If the truth be told, When the stiffness visits my shoulder-blade, I think on the days of old; It recalls the rush of the freshening wind, The strain of the chestnut springing, And the rolling thunder of hoofs behind, Like the Rataplan chorus ringing.

Mark: Are you bound to borrow, or loth to lend? Have you purchased another screw? Or backed a bill for another friend? Or had a bad night at loo?

Maurice: Not one of those, you're all in the dark, If you choose you can guess again; But you'd better give over guessing, Mark, It's only labour in vain.

Mark: I'll try once more; does it plague you still, That trifle of lead you carry? A guest that lingers against your will, Unwelcome, yet bound to tarry.

Maurice: Not so! That burden I'm used to bear, 'Tis seldom it gives me trouble; And to earn it as I did then and there, I'd carry a dead weight double. A shock like that for a splintered rib Can a thousand-fold repay— As the swallow skims through the spider's web, We rode through their ranks that day!

Mark: Come, Maurice, you sha'n't escape me so! I'll hazard another guess: That girl that jilted you long ago, You're thinking of her, confess!

Maurice: Tho' the blue lake flush'd with a rosy light, Reflected from yonder sky, Might conjure a vision of Aphrodite To a poet's or painter's eye; Tho' the golden drop, with its drooping curl, Between the water and wood, Hangs down like the tress of a wayward girl In her dreamy maidenhood: Such boyish fancies seem out of date To one half inclined to censure Their folly, and yet—your shaft flew straight, Though you drew your bow at a venture. I saw my lady the other night In the crowded opera hall, When the boxes sparkled with faces bright, I knew her amongst them all. Tho' little for these things now I reck, I singled her from the throng By the queenly curves of her head and neck, By the droop of her eyelash long. Oh! passionless, placid, and calm, and cold, Does the fire still lurk within That lit her magnificent eyes of old, And coloured her marble skin? For a weary look on the proud face hung, While the music clash'd and swell'd, And the restless child to the silk skirt clung Unnoticed tho' unrepelled. They've paled, those rosebud lips that I kist, That slim waist has thickened rather, And the cub has the sprawling mutton fist, And the great splay foot of the father. May the blight——

Mark: Hold hard there, Maurice, my son, Let her rest, since her spell is broken; We can neither recall deeds rashly done, Nor retract words hastily spoken.

Maurice: Time was when to pleasure her girlish whim, In my blind infatuation, I've freely endangered life and limb; Aye, perilled my soul's salvation.

Mark: With the best intentions we all must work But little good and much harm; Be a Christian for once, not a Pagan Turk, Nursing wrath and keeping it warm.

Maurice: If our best intentions pave the way To a place that is somewhat hot, Can our worst intentions lead us, say, To a still more sultry spot?

Mark: 'Tis said that charity makes amends For a multitude of transgressions.

Maurice: But our perjured loves and our faithless friends Are entitled to no concessions.

Mark: Old man, these many years side by side Our parallel paths have lain; Now, in life's long journey, diverging wide, They can scarcely unite again; And tho', from all that I've seen and heard, You're prone to chafe and to fret At the least restraint, not one angry word Have we two exchanged as yet. We've shared our peril, we've shared our sport, Our sunshine and gloomy weather, Feasted and flirted, and fenced and fought, Struggled and toiled together; In happier moments lighter of heart, Stouter of heart in sorrow; We've met and we've parted, and now we part For ever, perchance, to-morrow. She's a matron now; when you knew her first She was but a child, and your hate, Fostered and cherished, nourished and nursed, Will it never evaporate? Your grievance is known to yourself alone, But, Maurice, I say, for shame, If in ten long years you haven't outgrown Ill-will to an ancient flame.

Maurice: Well, Mark, you're right; if I spoke in spite, Let the shame and the blame be mine; At the risk of a headache we'll drain this night Her health in a flask of wine; For a castle in Spain, tho' it never was built; For a dream, tho' it never came true; For a cup, just tasted, tho' rudely spilt, At least she can hold me due. Those hours of pleasure she dealt of yore, As well as those hours of pain, I ween they would flit as they flitted before, If I had them over again. Against her no word from my lips shall pass, Betraying the grudge I've cherished, Till the sand runs down in my hour-glass, And the gift of my speech has perished. Say! why is the spirit of peace so weak, And the spirit of wrath so strong, That the right we must steadily search and seek, Tho' we readily find the wrong?

Mark: Our parents of old entailed the curse Which must to our children cling; Let us hope, at least, that we're not much worse Than the founder from whom we spring. Fit sire was he of a selfish race, Who first to temptation yielded, Then to mend his case tried to heap disgrace On the woman he should have shielded. Say! comrade mine, the forbidden fruit We'd have plucked, that I well believe, But I trust we'd rather have suffered mute Than have laid the blame upon Eve.

Maurice (yawning): Who knows? not I; I can hardly vouch For the truth of what little I see; And now, if you've any weed in your pouch, Just hand it over to me.

An Exile's Farewell

The ocean heaves around us still With long and measured swell, The autumn gales our canvas fill, Our ship rides smooth and well. The broad Atlantic's bed of foam Still breaks against our prow; I shed no tears at quitting home, Nor will I shed them now!

Against the bulwarks on the poop I lean, and watch the sun Behind the red horizon stoop— His race is nearly run. Those waves will never quench his light, O'er which they seem to close, To-morrow he will rise as bright As he this morning rose.

How brightly gleams the orb of day Across the trackless sea! How lightly dance the waves that play Like dolphins in our lee! The restless waters seem to say, In smothered tones to me, How many thousand miles away My native land must be!

Speak, Ocean! is my Home the same Now all is new to me?— The tropic sky's resplendent flame, The vast expanse of sea? Does all around her, yet unchanged, The well-known aspect wear? Oh! can the leagues that I have ranged Have made no difference there?

How vivid Recollection's hand Recalls the scene once more! I see the same tall poplars stand Beside the garden door; I see the bird-cage hanging still; And where my sister set The flowers in the window-sill— Can they be living yet?

Let woman's nature cherish grief, I rarely heave a sigh Before emotion takes relief In listless apathy; While from my pipe the vapours curl Towards the evening sky, And 'neath my feet the billows whirl In dull monotony!

The sky still wears the crimson streak Of Sol's departing ray, Some briny drops are on my cheek, 'Tis but the salt sea spray! Then let our barque the ocean roam, Our keel the billows plough; I shed no tears at quitting home, Nor will I shed them now!

"Early Adieux"

Adieu to kindred hearts and home, To pleasure, joy, and mirth, A fitter foot than mine to roam Could scarcely tread the earth; For they are now so few indeed (Not more than three in all), Who e'er will think of me or heed What fate may me befall.

For I through pleasure's paths have run My headlong goal to win, Nor pleasure's snares have cared to shun When pleasure sweetened sin. Let those who will their failings mask, To mine I frankly own; But for them pardon will I ask Of none—save Heaven alone.

From carping friends I turn aside; At foes defiance frown; Yet time may tame my stubborn pride, And break my spirit down. Still, if to error I incline, Truth whispers comfort strong, That never reckless act of mine E'er worked a comrade wrong.

My mother is a stately dame, Who oft would chide with me; She saith my riot bringeth shame, And stains my pedigree. I'd reck not what my friends might know, Or what the world might say, Did I but think some tears would flow When I am far away.

Perchance my mother will recall My mem'ry with a sigh; My gentle sister's tears may fall, And dim her laughing eye; Perhaps a loving thought may gleam, And fringe its saddened ray, When, like a nightmare's troubled dream, I, outcast, pass away.

Then once again farewell to those Whoe'er for me have sighed; For pleasures melt away like snows, And hopes like shadows glide. Adieu, my mother! if no more Thy son's face thou may'st see, At least those many cares are o'er So ofttimes caused by me.

My lot is fixed! The die is cast! For me home hath no joy! Oh, pardon then all follies past, And bless your wayward boy! And thou, from whom for aye to part Grieves more than tongue can tell, May Heaven preserve thy guileless heart, Sweet sister, fare thee well!

Thou, too, whose loving-kindness makes My resolution less, While from the bitter past it takes One half its bitterness, If e'er you held my mem'ry dear, Grant this request, I pray— Give to that mem'ry one bright tear, And let it pass away.

A Hunting Song

Here's a health to every sportsman, be he stableman or lord, If his heart be true, I care not what his pocket may afford; And may he ever pleasantly each gallant sport pursue, If he takes his liquor fairly, and his fences fairly, too.

He cares not for the bubbles of Fortune's fickle tide, Who like Bendigo can battle, and like Olliver can ride. He laughs at those who caution, at those who chide he'll frown, As he clears a five-foot paling, or he knocks a peeler down.

The dull, cold world may blame us, boys! but what care we the while, If coral lips will cheer us, and bright eyes on us smile? For beauty's fond caresses can most tenderly repay The weariness and trouble of many an anxious day.

Then fill your glass, and drain it, too, with all your heart and soul, To the best of sports—The Fox-hunt, The Fair Ones, and The Bowl, To a stout heart in adversity through every ill to steer, And when Fortune smiles a score of friends like those around us here.

To a Proud Beauty

"A Valentine"

Though I have loved you well, I ween, And you, too, fancied me, Your heart hath too divided been A constant heart to be. And like the gay and youthful knight, Who loved and rode away, Your fleeting fancy takes a flight With every fleeting day.

So let it be as you propose, Tho' hard the struggle be; 'Tis fitter far—that goodness knows!— Since we cannot agree. Let's quarrel once for all, my sweet, Forget the past—and then I'll kiss each pretty girl I meet, While you'll flirt with the men.

Thick-headed Thoughts

No. I

I've something of the bull-dog in my breed, The spaniel is developed somewhat less; While life is in me I can fight and bleed, But never the chastising hand caress. You say the stroke was well intended. "True." You mention "It was meant to do me good." "That may be." "You deserve it." "Granted, too." "Then take it kindly." "No—I never could."

* * * * *

How many a resolution to amend Is made, and broken, as the years run round! And how can others on your word depend, When faithless to ourselves we're often found? I've often swore—"Henceforward I'll reform, And bid my vices, follies, all take wing." To keep my promise, 'mid temptation's storm, I've always found was quite another thing.

* * * * *

I saw a donkey going down the road The other day; a boy was on his back, Who on the long-eared quadruped bestowed, With a stout cudgel, many a hearty thwack; But lazier and lazier grew the beast, Until he dwindled to a step so slow That I felt sure 'twould take him, at the least, Full half-an-hour one blessed mile to go.

Soliloquising on this state of things, "That moke's like me," I muttered, with a sigh; "He might go faster if he'd got some wings, But Nature's made him better off than I; For though I've all his obstinacy—aye! all— His sullen spirit, and his dogged ways, I've not one particle, however small, Of that praiseworthy patience he displays."

No. II

A man is independent of the world, And little recks of strife or angry brawl, If 'gainst a host his banner be unfurled, Be his heart stout, it matters not at all. With woman 'tis not so; for she seems hurled From hand to hand, as is a tennis ball. How queer that such a difference should be Between a human he and human she.


'Tis a wicked world we live in; Wrong in reason, wrong in rhyme; But no matter: we'll not give in While we still can come to time.

Strength's a shadow; Hope is madness, Love, delusion; Friendship, sham; Pleasure fades away to sadness, None of these are worth a d——n.

There is naught on earth to please us; All things at the crisis fail. Friends desert us, bailiffs tease us— (To such foes we give leg-bail).

But a stout heart still maintaining, Quells the ills we all must meet, And a spirit fear disdaining Lays our troubles at our feet.

So we'll ne'er surrender tamely To the ills that throng us fast. If we must die, let's die gamely; Luck may take a turn at last.

[End of Miscellaneous Poems.]

ASHTAROTH: A Dramatic Lyric

Dramatis Personae

HUGO, a Norman Baron and a Scholar. ERIC, a friend of Hugo's. THURSTON, EUSTACE, RALPH, Followers of Hugo. HENRY, a Page. LUKE, HUBERT, Monks living in a Norman Chapel. BASIL, Abbot of a Convent on the Rhine. CYRIL, a Monk of the same Convent. OSRIC, a Norwegian Adventurer, and formerly a Corsair. RUDOLPH, an Outlawed Count, and the Captain of a Band of Robbers. DAGOBERT, the Captain of some predatory Soldiers called "Free Lances". HAROLD, a Danish Knight. ORION. THORA, AGATHA, ELSPETH, a Nurse of Thora's, URSULA, Abbess of the Convent on the Rhine, NUNS, etc. Women.

Men-at-arms, Soldiers, and Robbers; Monks, Friars, and Churchmen, Spirits, etc.

Ashtaroth: A Dramatic Lyric

SCENE—A Castle in Normandy.

A Study in a Tower; HUGO seated at a table covered with maps and charts of the heavens, astronomical instruments, books, manuscripts, &c.

Enter HENRY, a Page.

Hugo: Well, boy, what is it?

Henry: The feast is spread.

Hugo: Why tarry the guests for me? Let Eric sit at the table's head; Alone I desire to be. [Henry goes out.] What share have I at their festive board? Their mirth I can only mar; To me no pleasure their cups afford, Their songs on my silence jar. With an aching eye and a throbbing brain, And yet with a hopeful heart, I must toil and strain with the planets again When the rays of the sun depart; He who must needs with the topers tope, And the feasters feast in the hall, How can he hope with a matter to cope That is immaterial?

Orion: He who his appetite stints and curbs, Shut up in the northern wing, With his rye-bread flavoured with bitter herbs, And his draught from the tasteless spring, Good sooth, he is but a sorry clown. There are some good things upon earth— Pleasure and power and fair renown, And wisdom of worldly worth! There is wisdom in follies that charm the sense, In follies that light the eyes, But the folly to wisdom that makes pretence Is alone by the fool termed wise.

Hugo: Thy speech, Orion, is somewhat rude; Perchance, having jeer'd and scoff'd To thy fill, thou wilt curb thy jeering mood; I wot thou hast served me oft. This plan of the skies seems fairly traced; What errors canst thou detect?

Orion: Nay, the constellations are misplaced, And the satellites incorrect; Leave the plan to me; you have time to seek An hour of needful rest, The night is young and the planets are weak; See, the sun still reddens the west.

Hugo: I fear I shall sleep too long.

Orion: If you do It matters not much; the sky Is cloudy, the stars will be faint and few; Now, list to my lullaby. [Hugo reclines on a couch.] (Sings.) Still the darkling skies are red, Though the day-god's course is run; Heavenly night-lamps overhead Flash and twinkle one by one. Idle dreamer—earth-born elf! Vainly grasping heavenly things, Wherefore weariest thou thyself With thy vain imaginings?

From the tree of knowledge first, Since his parents pluck'd the fruit, Man, with partial knowledge curs'd, Of the tree still seeks the root; Musty volumes crowd thy shelf— Which of these true knowledge brings? Wherefore weariest thou thyself With thy vain imaginings?

Will the stars from heaven descend? Can the earth-worm soar and rise? Can the mortal comprehend Heaven's own hallow'd mysteries? Greed and glory, power and pelf— These are won by clowns and kings; Wherefore weariest thou thyself With thy vain imaginings?

Sow and reap, and toil and spin; Eat and drink, and dream and die; Man may strive, yet never win, And I laugh the while and cry— Idle dreamer, earth-born elf! Vainly grasping heavenly things, Wherefore weariest thou thyself With thy vain imaginings?

He sleeps, and his sleep appears serene, Whatever dreams it has brought him— [Looks at the plans.] If he knows what those hieroglyphics mean, He's wiser than one who taught him. Why does he number the Pole-star thus? Or the Pleiades why combine? And what is he doing with Sirius, In the devil's name or in mine? Man thinks, discarding the beaten track, That the sins of his youth are slain, When he seeks fresh sins, but he soon comes back To his old pet sins again.

SCENE—The Same.

HUGO waking, ORION seated near him. Daybreak.

Hugo: Oh, weary spirit! oh, cloudy eyes! Oh, heavy and misty brain! Yon riddle that lies 'twixt earth and skies, Ye seek to explore in vain! See, the east is grey; put those scrolls away, And hide them far from my sight; I will toil and study no more by day, I will watch no longer by night; I have labour'd and long'd, and now I seem No nearer the mystic goal; Orion, I fain would devise some scheme To quiet this restless soul; To distant climes I would fain depart— I would travel by sea or land.

Orion: Nay, I warn'd you of this, "Short life, long art", The proverb, though stale, will stand; Full many a sage from youth to age Has toil'd to obtain what you Would master at once. In a pilgrimage, Forsooth, there is nothing new; Though virtue, I ween, in change of scene, And vigour in change of air, Will always be, and has always been, And travel is a tonic rare. Still, the restless, discontented mood For the time alone is eased; It will soon return with hunger renew'd, And appetite unappeased. Nathless I could teach a shorter plan To win that wisdom you crave, That lore that is seldom attain'd by man From the cradle down to the grave.

Hugo: Such lore I had rather do without, It hath nothing mystic nor awful In my eye. Nay, I despise and doubt The arts that are term'd unlawful; 'Twixt science and magic the line lies plain, I shall never wittingly pass it; There is now no compact between us twain.

Orion: But an understanding tacit. You have prospered much since the day we met; You were then a landless knight; You now have honour and wealth, and yet I never can serve you right.

Hugo: Enough; we will start this very day, Thurston, Eric, and I, And the baffled visions will pass away, And the restless fires will die.

Orion: Till the fuel expires that feeds those fires They smoulder and live unspent; Give a mortal all that his heart desires, He is less than ever content.

SCENE—A Cliff on the Breton Coast, Overhanging the Sea.


Hugo: Down drops the red sun; through the gloaming They burst—raging waves of the sea, Foaming out their own shame—ever foaming Their leprosy up with fierce glee; Flung back from the stone, snowy fountains Of feathery flakes, scarcely flag Where, shock after shock, the green mountains Explode on the iron-grey crag.

The salt spray with ceaseless commotion Leaps round me. I sit on the verge Of the cliff—'twixt the earth and the ocean— With feet overhanging the surge. In thy grandeur, oh, sea! we acknowledge, In thy fairness, oh, earth! we confess, Hidden truths that are taught in no college, Hidden songs that no parchments express.

Were they wise in their own generations, Those sages and sagas of old? They have pass'd; o'er their names and their nations Time's billows have silently roll'd; They have pass'd, leaving little to their children, Save histories of a truth far from strict; Or theories more vague and bewildering, Since three out of four contradict.

Lost labour! vain bookworms have sat in The halls of dull pedants who teach Strange tongues, the dead lore of the Latin, The scroll that is god-like and Greek: Have wasted life's springtide in learning Things long ago learnt all in vain; They are slow, very slow, in discerning That book lore and wisdom are twain.

Pale shades of a creed that was mythic, By time or by truth overcome, Your Delphian temples and Pythic Are ruins deserted and dumb; Your Muses are hush'd, and your Graces Are bruised and defaced; and your gods, Enshrin'd and enthron'd in high places No longer, are powerless as clods;

By forest and streamlet, where glisten'd Fair feet of the Naiads that skimm'd The shallows; where the Oreads listen'd, Rose-lipp'd, amber-hair'd, marble-limb'd, No lithe forms disport in the river, No sweet faces peer through the boughs, Elms and beeches wave silent for ever, Ever silent the bright water flows.

(Were they duller or wiser than we are, Those heathens of old? Who shall say? Worse or better? Thy wisdom, O "Thea Glaucopis", was wise in thy day; And the false gods alluring to evil, That sway'd reckless votaries then, Were slain to no purpose; they revel Re-crowned in the hearts of us men.)

Dead priests of Osiris and Isis, And Apis! that mystical lore, Like a nightmare, conceived in a crisis Of fever, is studied no more; Dead Magian! yon star-troop that spangles The arch of yon firmament vast Looks calm, like a host of white angels, On dry dust of votaries past.

On seas unexplored can the ship shun Sunk rocks? Can man fathom life's links, Past or future, unsolved by Egyptian Or Theban, unspoken by Sphinx? The riddle remains still unravell'd By students consuming night oil. Oh, earth! we have toil'd, we have travail'd, How long shall we travail and toil?

How long? The short life that fools reckon So sweet, by how much is it higher Than brute life?—the false gods still beckon, And man, through the dust and the mire, Toils onward, as toils the dull bullock, Unreasoning, brutish, and blind, With Ashtaroth, Mammon, and Moloch In front, and Alecto behind.

The wise one of earth, the Chaldean, Serves folly in wisdom's disguise; And the sensual Epicurean, Though grosser, is hardly less wise; 'Twixt the former, half pedant, half pagan, And the latter, half sow and half sloth, We halt, choose Astarte or Dagon, Or sacrifice freely to both.

With our reason that seeks to disparage, Brute instinct it fails to subdue; With our false illegitimate courage, Our sophistry, vain and untrue; Our hopes that ascend so and fall so, Our passions, fierce hates and hot loves, We are wise (aye, the snake is wise also)— Wise as serpents, NOT harmless as doves.

Some flashes, like faint sparks from heaven, Come rarely with rushing of wings; We are conscious at times we have striven, Though seldom, to grasp better things; These pass, leaving hearts that have falter'd, Good angels with faces estranged, And the skin of the Ethiop unalter'd, And the spots of the leopard unchanged.

Oh, earth! pleasant earth! have we hanker'd To gather thy flowers and thy fruits? The roses are wither'd, and canker'd The lilies, and barren the roots Of the fig-tree, the vine, the wild olive, Sharp thorns and sad thistles that yield Fierce harvest—so WE live, and SO live The perishing beasts of the field.

And withal we are conscious of evil And good—of the spirit and the clod, Of the power in our hearts of a devil, Of the power in our souls of a God, Whose commandments are graven in no cypher, But clear as His sun—from our youth One at least we have cherished—"An eye for An eye, and a tooth for a tooth."

Oh, man! of thy Maker the image; To passion, to pride, or to wealth, Sworn bondsman, from dull youth to dim age, Thy portion the fire or the filth, Dross seeking, dead pleasure's death rattle Thy memories' happiest song, And thy highest hope—scarce a drawn battle With dark desperation. How long?

* * * * *

Roar louder! leap higher! ye surf-beds, And sprinkle your foam on the furze; Bring the dreams that brought sleep to our turf-beds, To camps of our long ago years, With the flashing and sparkling of broadswords, With the tossing of banners and spears, With the trampling of hard hoofs on hard swards, With the mingling of trumpets and cheers.

* * * * *

The gale has gone down; yet outlasting The gale, raging waves of the sea, Casting up their own foam, ever casting Their leprosy up with wild glee, Still storm; so in rashness and rudeness Man storms through the days of his grace; Yet man cannot fathom God's goodness, Exceeding God's infinite space.

And coldly and calmly and purely Grey rock and green hillock lie white In star-shine dream-laden—so surely Night cometh—so cometh the night When we, too, at peace with our neighbour, May sleep where God's hillocks are piled, Thanking HIM for a rest from day's labour, And a sleep like the sleep of a child!

SCENE—The Castle in Normandy.

THORA working at embroidery, ELSPETH spinning.

Thora (sings): We severed in autumn early, Ere the earth was torn by the plough; The wheat and the oats and the barley Are ripe for the harvest now. We sunder'd one misty morning, Ere the hills were dimm'd by the rain, Through the flowers those hills adorning— Thou comest not back again.

My heart is heavy and weary With the weight of a weary soul; The mid-day glare grows dreary, And dreary the midnight scroll. The corn-stalks sigh for the sickle, 'Neath the load of the golden grain; I sigh for a mate more fickle— Thou comest not back again.

The warm sun riseth and setteth, The night bringeth moistening dew, But the soul that longeth forgetteth The warmth and the moisture too; In the hot sun rising and setting There is naught save feverish pain; There are tears in the night-dews wetting— Thou comest not back again.

Thy voice in mine ear still mingles With the voices of whisp'ring trees; Thy kiss on my cheek still tingles At each kiss of the summer breeze; While dreams of the past are thronging For substance of shades in vain, I am waiting, watching, and longing— Thou comest not back again.

Waiting and watching ever, Longing and lingering yet, Leaves rustle and corn-stalks quiver, Winds murmur and waters fret; No answer they bring, no greeting, No speech save that sad refrain, Nor voice, save an echo repeating— He cometh not back again.

Elspeth: Thine eldest sister is wedded to Max; With Biorn, Hilda hath cast her lot. If the husbands vanish'd, and left no tracks, Would the wives have cause for sorrow, I wot?

Thora: How well I remember that dreary ride; How I sigh'd for the lands of ice and snow, In the trackless wastes of the desert wide, With the sun o'erhead and the sand below; 'Neath the scanty shades of the feathery palms, How I sigh'd for the forest of sheltering firs, Whose shadows environ'd the Danish farms, Where I sang and sported in childish years. On the fourteenth day of our pilgrimage We stayed at the foot of a sandhill high; Our fever'd thirst we could scarce assuage At the brackish well that was nearly dry,

And the hot sun rose, and the hot sun set, And we rode all the day through a desert land, And we camp'd where the lake and the river met, On sedge and shingle and shining sand: Enfolded in Hugo's cloak I slept, Or watch'd the stars while I lay awake; And close to our feet the staghound crept, And the horses were grazing beside the lake; Now we own castles and serving men, Lands and revenues. What of that? Hugo the Norman was kinder then, And happier was Thora of Armorat.

Elspeth: Nay, I warn'd thee, with Norman sails unfurl'd Above our heads, when we wished thee joy, That men are the same all over the world, They will worship only the newest toy; Yet Hugo is kind and constant too, Though somewhat given to studies of late; Biorn is sottish, and Max untrue, And worse than thine is thy sisters' fate. But a shadow darkens the chamber door.


Thurston: 'Tis I, Lady Thora; our lord is near. My horse being fresher, I rode before; Both he and Eric will soon be here.

Thora: Good Thurston, give me your hand. You are Most welcome. What has delayed you thus?

Thurston: Both by sea and land we have travell'd far, Yet little of note has happened to us— We were wreck'd on the shores of Brittany, Near the coast of Morbihan iron-bound; The rocks were steep and the surf ran high, Thy kinsman, Eric, was well-nigh drown'd. By a swarm of knaves we were next beset, Who took us for corsairs; then released By a Breton count, whose name I forget. Now I go, by your leave, to tend my beast. [He goes out.]

Elspeth: That man is rude and froward of speech: My ears are good, though my sight grows dim.

Thora: Thurston is faithful. Thou canst not teach Courtly nor servile manners to him.

SCENE—The Castle Hall.

THURSTON, RALPH, EUSTACE, and other followers of HUGO, seated at a long table. HAROLD seated apart.

Thurston: Who is that stranger, dark and tall, On the wooden settle next to the wall— Mountebank, pilgrim, or wandering bard?

Eustace: To define his calling is somewhat hard; Lady Thora has taken him by the hand Because he has come from the Holy Land. Pilgrims and palmers are all the rage With her, since she shared in that pilgrimage With Hugo. The stranger came yesterday, And would have gone on, but she bade him stay. Besides, he sings in the Danish tongue The songs she has heard in her childhood sung. That's all I know of him, good or bad; In my own opinion he's somewhat mad. You must raise your voice if you speak with him, And he answers as though his senses were dim.

Thurston (to Harold): Good-morrow, sir stranger.

Harold: Good-morrow, friend.

Thurston: Where do you come from? and whither wend?

Harold: I have travelled of late with the setting sun At my back; and as soon as my task is done I purpose to turn my face to the north— Yet we know not what a day may bring forth.

Thurston: Indeed we don't.

(To Eustace, aside): Nay, I know him now By that ugly scar that crosses his brow; And the less we say to him the better. Your judgment is right to the very letter— The man is mad.

Eustace: But harmless, I think; He eats but little, eschews strong drink, And only speaks when spoken to first.

Thurston: Harmless or not, he was once the worst And bitterest foe Lord Hugo had; And yet his story is somewhat sad.

Eustace: May I hear it?

Thurston: Nay, I never reveal What concerns me not. Our lord may conceal Or divulge at pleasure his own affairs,— Not even his comrade Eric shares His secrets; though Eric thinks him wise, Which is more than I do, for I despise That foolish science he learnt in Rome. He dreams and mopes when he sits at home, And now he's not much better abroad; 'Tis hard to follow so tame a lord. 'Twixt us two, he won't be worth a rush If he will persist in his studies——

Eustace: Hush! Ralph has persuaded our guest to sing.

Thurston: I have known the day when his voice would ring Till the rafters echoed.

Eustace: 'Tis pleasant still, Though far too feeble this hall to fill.

Harold (sings): On the current, where the wide Windings of the river Eddy to the North Sea tide, Shall I in my shallop glide, As I have done at her side? Never! never! never!

In the forest, where the firs, Pines, and larches quiver To the northern breeze that stirs, Shall my lips be press'd to hers, As they were in by-gone years? Never! never! never!

In the battle on the plain, Where the lance-shafts shiver, And the sword-strokes fall like rain, Shall I bear her scarf again As I have done—not in vain? Never! never! never!

In a fairer, brighter land, Where the saints rest ever, Shall I once more see her stand, White, amidst a white-robed band, Harp and palm-branch in her hand? Never! never! never!

SCENE—The Same.


Enter, by the hall door, HUGO, ERIC, and THORA.

Eustace (and others standing up): Welcome, Lord Hugo!

Hugo: Welcome or not, Thanks for your greeting all. Ha, Eustace! what complaints hast thou got? What grievances to recall?

Eustace: Count William came with a numerous band, Ere the snows began to fall, And slew a buck on your lordship's land, Within a league of the wall.

Hugo: Count William has done to us no more Than we to him. In his vineyard Last summer, or later, maybe, a boar Was slaughter'd by Thurston's whinyard.

Thurston: Aye, Hugo! But William kept the buck, I will wager marks a score, Though the tale is new to me; and, worse luck, You made me give back the boar.

Harold (advancing): Lord Hugo!

Hugo: What! Art thou living yet? I scarcely knew thee, Sir Dane! And 'tis not so very long since we met.

Harold: 'Twill be long ere we meet again. (gives a letter) This letter was traced by one now dead In the Holy Land; and I Must wait till his dying request is read, And in his name ask the reply.

Thora (aside): Who is that stranger, Hugo?

Hugo: By birth He is a countryman of thine, Thora. What writing is this on earth? I can scarce decipher a line.

Harold: The pen in the clutch of death works ill.

Hugo: Nay, I read now; the letters run More clearly.

Harold: Wilt grant the request?

Hugo: I will.

Harold: Enough! Then my task is done. (He holds out his hand.) Hugo, I go to a far-off land, Wilt thou say, "God speed thee!" now?

Hugo: Sir Harold, I cannot take thy hand, Because of my ancient vow.

Harold: Farewell, then.

Thora: Friend, till the morning wait. On so wild a night as this Thou shalt not go from my husband's gate; The path thou wilt surely miss.

Harold: I go. Kind lady, some future day Thy care will requited be.

Thora: Speak, Hugo, speak.

Hugo: He may go or stay, It matters little to me. [Harold goes out.]

Thora: Husband, that man is ill and weak; On foot he goes and alone Through a barren moor in a night-storm bleak.

Eric: Now I wonder where he has gone!

Hugo: Indeed, I have not the least idea; The man is certainly mad. He wedded my sister, Dorothea, And used her cruelly bad. He was once my firmest and surest friend, And once my deadliest foe; But hate and friendship both find their end— Now I heed not where he may go.

SCENE—A Chamber in the Castle.


Hugo: That letter that came from Palestine, By the hands of yon wandering Dane, Will cost me a pilgrimage to the Rhine.

Thora: Wilt thou travel so soon again?

Hugo: I can scarce refuse the dying request Of my comrade, Baldwin, now; His bones are dust. May his soul find rest He once made a foolish vow, That at Englemehr, 'neath the watchful care Of the Abbess, his child should stay, For a season at least. To escort her there I must start at the break of day.

Thora: Is it Agatha that goes, or Clare?

Hugo: Nay, Clare is dwelling in Spain With her spouse.

Thora: 'Tis Agatha. She is fair, I am told; but giddy and vain.

Eric: Some musty tales on my memory grow Concerning Count Baldwin's vow; Thou knew'st his daughter?

Hugo: Aye, years ago. I should scarcely know her now. It seems, when her father's vow was made, She was taken sorely ill; Then he travell'd, and on his return was stay'd; He could never his oath fulfil.

Eric: If rightly I've heard, 'twas Agatha That fled with some Danish knight— I forget the name.

Hugo: Nay, she fled not far; She returned again that night.

Thora: For a nun, I fear, she is too self-willed.

Hugo: That is no affair of mine. My task is over, my word fulfilled, Should I bring her safe to the Rhine. Come, Thora, sing.

Thora: Nay, I cannot sing, Nor would I now if I could. Sing thou.

Hugo: I will, though my voice should bring No sound save a discord rude. (Sings.) Where the storm in its wrath hath lighted, The pine lies low in the dust; And the corn is withered and blighted, Where the fields are red with the rust; Falls the black frost, nipping and killing, Where its petals the violet rears, And the wind, though tempered, is chilling To the lamb despoiled by the shears.

The strong in their strength are shaken, The wise in their wisdom fall; And the bloom of beauty is taken— Strength, wisdom, beauty, and all, They vanish, their lot fulfilling, Their doom approaches and nears, But the wind, though tempered, is chilling To the lamb despoiled by the shears.

'Tis the will of a Great Creator, He is wise, His will must be done, And it cometh sooner or later; And one shall be taken, and one Shall be left here, toiling and tilling, In this vale of sorrows and tears, Where the wind, though tempered, is chilling To the lamb despoiled by the shears.

Tell me, mine own one, tell me, The shadows of life and the fears Shall neither daunt me nor quell me, While I can avert thy tears: Dost thou shrink, as I shrink, unwilling To realise lonely years? Since the wind, though tempered, is chilling To the lamb despoiled by the shears.

Enter HENRY.

Henry: My lord, Father Luke craves audience straight, He has come on foot from the chapel; Some stranger perished beside his gate When the dawn began to dapple.

SCENE—A Chapel Not Very Far from Hugo's Castle.

HUGO, ERIC, and two Monks (LUKE and HUBERT). The dead body of HAROLD.

Luke: When the dawn was breaking, Came a faint sound, waking Hubert and myself; we hurried to the door, Found the stranger lying At the threshold, dying. Somewhere have I seen a face like his before.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse