FOUR SONGS OF FOUR SEASONS
I. WINTER IN NORTHUMBERLAND
Outside the garden The wet skies harden; The gates are barred on The summer side: "Shut out the flower-time, Sunbeam and shower-time; Make way for our time," Wild winds have cried. Green once and cheery, The woods, worn weary, Sigh as the dreary Weak sun goes home: A great wind grapples The wave, and dapples The dead green floor of the sea with foam.
Through fell and moorland, And salt-sea foreland, Our noisy norland Resounds and rings; Waste waves thereunder Are blown in sunder, And winds make thunder With cloudwide wings; Sea-drift makes dimmer The beacon's glimmer; Nor sail nor swimmer Can try the tides; And snowdrifts thicken Where, when leaves quicken, Under the heather the sundew hides.
Green land and red land, Moorside and headland, Are white as dead land, Are all as one; Nor honied heather, Nor bells to gather, Fair with fair weather And faithful sun: Fierce frost has eaten All flowers that sweeten The fells rain-beaten; And winds their foes Have made the snow's bed Down in the rose-bed; Deep in the snow's bed bury the rose.
Bury her deeper Than any sleeper; Sweet dreams will keep her All day, all night; Though sleep benumb her And time o'ercome her, She dreams of summer, And takes delight, Dreaming and sleeping In love's good keeping, While rain is weeping And no leaves cling; Winds will come bringing her Comfort, and singing her Stories and songs and good news of the spring.
Draw the white curtain Close, and be certain She takes no hurt in Her soft low bed; She feels no colder, And grows not older, Though snows enfold her From foot to head; She turns not chilly Like weed and lily In marsh or hilly High watershed, Or green soft island In lakes of highland; She sleeps awhile, and she is not dead.
For all the hours, Come sun, come showers, Are friends of flowers, And fairies all; When frost entrapped her, They came and lapped her In leaves, and wrapped her With shroud and pall; In red leaves wound her, With dead leaves bound her Dead brows, and round her A death-knell rang; Rang the death-bell for her, Sang, "is it well for her, Well, is it well with you, rose?" they sang.
O what and where is The rose now, fairies, So shrill the air is, So wild the sky? Poor last of roses, Her worst of woes is The noise she knows is The winter's cry; His hunting hollo Has scared the swallow; Fain would she follow And fain would fly: But wind unsettles Her poor last petals; Had she but wings, and she would not die.
Come, as you love her, Come close and cover Her white face over, And forth again Ere sunset glances On foam that dances, Through lowering lances Of bright white rain; And make your playtime Of winter's daytime, As if the Maytime Were here to sing; As if the snowballs Were soft like blowballs, Blown in a mist from the stalk in the spring.
Each reed that grows in Our stream is frozen, The fields it flows in Are hard and black; The water-fairy Waits wise and wary Till time shall vary And thaws come back. "O sister, water," The wind besought her, "O twin-born daughter Of spring with me, Stay with me, play with me, Take the warm way with me, Straight for the summer and oversea."
But winds will vary, And wise and wary The patient fairy Of water waits; All shrunk and wizen, In iron prison, Till spring re-risen Unbar the gates; Till, as with clamour Of axe and hammer, Chained streams that stammer And struggle in straits Burst bonds that shiver, And thaws deliver The roaring river in stormy spates.
In fierce March weather White waves break tether, And whirled together At either hand, Like weeds uplifted, The tree-trunks rifted In spars are drifted, Like foam or sand, Past swamp and sallow And reed-beds callow, Through pool and shallow, To wind and lee, Till, no more tongue-tied, Full flood and young tide Roar down the rapids and storm the sea.
As men's cheeks faded On shores invaded, When shorewards waded The lords of fight; When churl and craven Saw hard on haven The wide-winged raven At mainmast height; When monks affrighted To windward sighted The birds full-flighted Of swift sea-kings; So earth turns paler When Storm the sailor Steers in with a roar in the race of his wings.
O strong sea-sailor, Whose cheek turns paler For wind or hail or For fear of thee? O far sea-farer, O thunder-bearer, Thy songs are rarer Than soft songs be. O fleet-foot stranger, O north-sea ranger Through days of danger And ways of fear, Blow thy horn here for us, Blow the sky clear for us, Send us the song of the sea to hear.
Roll the strong stream of it Up, till the scream of it Wake from a dream of it Children that sleep, Seamen that fare for them Forth, with a prayer for them; Shall not God care for them, Angels not keep? Spare not the surges Thy stormy scourges; Spare us the dirges Of wives that weep. Turn back the waves for us: Dig no fresh graves for us, Wind, in the manifold gulfs of the deep.
O stout north-easter, Sea-king, land-waster, For all thine haste, or Thy stormy skill, Yet hadst thou never, For all endeavour, Strength to dissever Or strength to spill, Save of his giving Who gave our living, Whose hands are weaving What ours fulfil; Whose feet tread under The storms and thunder; Who made our wonder to work his will.
His years and hours, His world's blind powers, His stars and flowers, His nights and days, Sea-tide and river, And waves that shiver, Praise God, the giver Of tongues to praise. Winds in their blowing, And fruits in growing; Time in its going, While time shall be; In death and living, With one thanksgiving, Praise him whose hand is the strength of the sea.
II. SPRING IN TUSCANY
Rose-red lilies that bloom on the banner; Rose-cheeked gardens that revel in spring; Rose-mouthed acacias that laugh as they climb, Like plumes for a queen's hand fashioned to fan her With wind more soft than a wild dove's wing, What do they sing in the spring of their time?
If this be the rose that the world hears singing, Soft in the soft night, loud in the day, Songs for the fire-flies to dance as they hear; If that be the song of the nightingale, springing Forth in the form of a rose in May, What do they say of the way of the year?
What of the way of the world gone Maying, What of the work of the buds in the bowers, What of the will of the wind on the wall, Fluttering the wall-flowers, sighing and playing, Shrinking again as a bird that cowers, Thinking of hours when the flowers have to fall?
Out of the throats of the loud birds showering, Out of the folds where the flag-lilies leap, Out of the mouths of the roses stirred, Out of the herbs on the walls reflowering, Out of the heights where the sheer snows sleep, Out of the deep and the steep, one word.
One from the lips of the lily-flames leaping, The glad red lilies that burn in our sight, The great live lilies for standard and crown; One from the steeps where the pines stand sleeping, One from the deep land, one from the height, One from the light and the might of the town.
The lowlands laugh with delight of the highlands, Whence May winds feed them with balm and breath From hills that beheld in the years behind A shape as of one from the blest souls' islands, Made fair by a soul too fair for death, With eyes on the light that should smite them blind.
Vallombrosa remotely remembers, Perchance, what still to us seems so near That time not darkens it, change not mars, The foot that she knew when her leaves were September's, The face lift up to the star-blind seer, That saw from his prison arisen his stars.
And Pisa broods on her dead, not mourning, For love of her loveliness given them in fee; And Prato gleams with the glad monk's gift Whose hand was there as the hand of morning; And Siena, set in the sand's red sea, Lifts loftier her head than the red sand's drift.
And far to the fair south-westward lightens, Girdled and sandalled and plumed with flowers, At sunset over the love-lit lands, The hill-side's crown where the wild hill brightens, Saint Fina's town of the Beautiful Towers, Hailing the sun with a hundred hands.
Land of us all that have loved thee dearliest, Mother of men that were lords of man, Whose name in the world's heart works as a spell, My last song's light, and the star of mine earliest, As we turn from thee, sweet, who wast ours for a span, Fare well we may not who say farewell.
III. SUMMER IN AUVERGNE
The sundawn fills the land Full as a feaster's hand Fills full with bloom of bland Bright wine his cup; Flows full to flood that fills From the arch of air it thrills Those rust-red iron hills With morning up.
Dawn, as a panther springs, With fierce and fire-fledged wings Leaps on the land that rings From her bright feet Through all its lava-black Cones that cast answer back And cliffs of footless track Where thunders meet.
The light speaks wide and loud From deeps blown clean of cloud As though day's heart were proud And heaven's were glad; The towers brown-striped and grey Take fire from heaven of day As though the prayers they pray Their answers had.
Higher in these high first hours Wax all the keen church towers, And higher all hearts of ours Than the old hills' crown, Higher than the pillared height Of that strange cliff-side bright With basalt towers whose might Strong time bows down.
And the old fierce ruin there Of the old wild princes' lair Whose blood in mine hath share Gapes gaunt and great Toward heaven that long ago Watched all the wan land's woe Whereon the wind would blow Of their bleak hate.
Dead are those deeds; but yet Their memory seems to fret Lands that might else forget That old world's brand; Dead all their sins and days; Yet in this red clime's rays Some fiery memory stays That sears their land.
IV. AUTUMN IN CORNWALL
The year lies fallen and faded On cliffs by clouds invaded, With tongues of storms upbraided, With wrath of waves bedinned; And inland, wild with warning, As in deaf ears or scorning, The clarion even and morning Rings of the south-west wind.
The wild bents wane and wither In blasts whose breath bows hither Their grey-grown heads and thither, Unblest of rain or sun; The pale fierce heavens are crowded With shapes like dreams beclouded, As though the old year enshrouded Lay, long ere life were done.
Full-charged with oldworld wonders, From dusk Tintagel thunders A note that smites and sunders The hard frore fields of air; A trumpet stormier-sounded Than once from lists rebounded When strong men sense-confounded Fell thick in tourney there.
From scarce a duskier dwelling Such notes of wail rose welling Through the outer darkness, telling In the awful singer's ears What souls the darkness covers, What love-lost souls of lovers, Whose cry still hangs and hovers In each man's born that hears.
For there by Hector's brother And yet some thousand other He that had grief to mother Passed pale from Dante's sight; With one fast linked as fearless, Perchance, there only tearless; Iseult and Tristram, peerless And perfect queen and knight.
A shrill-winged sound comes flying North, as of wild souls crying The cry of things undying, That know what life must be; Or as the old year's heart, stricken Too sore for hope to quicken By thoughts like thorns that thicken, Broke, breaking with the sea.
THE WHITE CZAR
[In an English magazine of 1877 there appeared a version of some insolent lines addressed by "A Russian Poet to the Empress of India." To these the first of the two following sonnets was designed to serve by way of counterblast. The writer will scarcely be suspected of royalism or imperialism; but it seemed to him that an insult levelled by Muscovite lips at the ruler of England might perhaps be less unfitly than unofficially resented by an Englishman who was also a republican.]
Gehazi by the hue that chills thy cheek And Pilate by the hue that sears thine hand Whence all earth's waters cannot wash the brand That signs thy soul a manslayer's though thou speak All Christ, with lips most murderous and most meek— Thou set thy foot where England's used to stand! Thou reach thy rod forth over Indian land! Slave of the slaves that call thee lord, and weak As their foul tongues who praise thee! son of them Whose presence put the snows and stars to shame In centuries dead and damned that reek below Curse-consecrated, crowned with crime and flame, To them that bare thee like them shalt thou go Forth of man's life—a leper white as snow.
Call for clear water, wash thine hands, be clean, Cry, What is truth? O Pilate; thou shalt know Haply too soon, and gnash thy teeth for woe Ere the outer darkness take thee round unseen That hides the red ghosts of thy race obscene Bound nine times round with hell's most dolorous flow, And in its pools thy crownless head lie low By his of Spain who dared an English queen With half a world to hearten him for fight, Till the wind gave his warriors and their might To shipwreck and the corpse-encumbered sea. But thou, take heed, ere yet thy lips wax white, Lest as it was with Philip so it be, O white of name and red of hand, with thee.
How many sons, how many generations, For how long years hast thou bewept, and known Nor end of torment nor surcease of moan, Rachel or Rizpah, wofullest of nations, Crowned with the crowning sign of desolations, And couldst not even scare off with hand or groan Those carrion birds devouring bone by bone The children of thy thousand tribulations? Thou wast our warrior once; thy sons long dead Against a foe less foul than this made head, Poland, in years that sound and shine afar; Ere the east beheld in thy bright sword-blade's stead The rotten corpse-light of the Russian star That lights towards hell his bondslaves and their Czar.
TO LOUIS KOSSUTH
Light of our fathers' eyes, and in our own Star of the unsetting sunset! for thy name, That on the front of noon was as a flame In the great year nigh thirty years agone When all the heavens of Europe shook and shone With stormy wind and lightning, keeps its fame And bears its witness all day through the same; Not for past days and great deeds past alone, Kossuth, we praise thee as our Landor praised, But that now too we know thy voice upraised, Thy voice, the trumpet of the truth of God, Thine hand, the thunder-bearer's, raised to smite As with heaven's lightning for a sword and rod Men's heads abased before the Muscovite.
TRANSLATIONS FROM THE FRENCH OF VILLON
THE COMPLAINT OF THE FAIR ARMOURESS
Meseemeth I heard cry and groan That sweet who was the armourer's maid; For her young years she made sore moan, And right upon this wise she said; "Ah fierce old age with foul bald head, To spoil fair things thou art over fain; Who holdeth me? who? would God I were dead! Would God I were well dead and slain!
"Lo, thou hast broken the sweet yoke That my high beauty held above All priests and clerks and merchant-folk; There was not one but for my love Would give me gold and gold enough, Though sorrow his very heart had riven, To win from me such wage thereof As now no thief would take if given.
"I was right chary of the same, God wot it was my great folly, For love of one sly knave of them, Good store of that same sweet had he; For all my subtle wiles, perdie, God wot I loved him well enow; Right evilly he handled me, But he loved well my gold, I trow.
"Though I gat bruises green and black, I loved him never the less a jot; Though he bound burdens on my back, If he said 'Kiss me and heed it not' Right little pain I felt, God wot, When that foul thief's mouth, found so sweet, Kissed me—Much good thereof I got! I keep the sin and the shame of it.
"And he died thirty year agone. I am old now, no sweet thing to see; By God, though, when I think thereon, And of that good glad time, woe's me, And stare upon my changed body Stark naked, that has been so sweet, Lean, wizen, like a small dry tree, I am nigh mad with the pain of it.
"Where is my faultless forehead's white, The lifted eyebrows, soft gold hair, Eyes wide apart and keen of sight, With subtle skill in the amorous air; The straight nose, great nor small, but fair, The small carved ears of shapeliest growth, Chin dimpling, colour good to wear, And sweet red splendid kissing mouth?
"The shapely slender shoulders small, Long arms, hands wrought in glorious wise, Round little breasts, the hips withal High, full of flesh, not scant of size, Fit for all amorous masteries; *** ***** *****, *** *** ****** **** *** ******* ***** ** **** ***** ****** ** * ***** ****** ** **** *****?
"A writhled forehead, hair gone grey, Fallen eyebrows, eyes gone blind and red, Their laughs and looks all fled away, Yea, all that smote men's hearts are fled; The bowed nose, fallen from goodlihead; Foul flapping ears like water-flags; Peaked chin, and cheeks all waste and dead, And lips that are two skinny rags:
"Thus endeth all the beauty of us. The arms made short, the hands made lean, The shoulders bowed and ruinous, The breasts, alack! all fallen in; The flanks too, like the breasts, grown thin; ** *** *** ***** *****, *** ** **! For the lank thighs, no thighs but skin, They are specked with spots like sausage-meat.
"So we make moan for the old sweet days, Poor old light women, two or three Squatting above the straw-fire's blaze, The bosom crushed against the knee, Like faggots on a heap we be, Round fires soon lit, soon quenched and done; And we were once so sweet, even we! Thus fareth many and many an one."
A DOUBLE BALLAD OF GOOD COUNSEL
Now take your fill of love and glee, And after balls and banquets hie; In the end ye'll get no good for fee, But just heads broken by and by; Light loves make beasts of men that sigh; They changed the faith of Solomon, And left not Samson lights to spy; Good luck has he that deals with none!
Sweet Orpheus, lord of minstrelsy, For this with flute and pipe came nigh The danger of the dog's heads three That ravening at hell's door doth lie; Fain was Narcissus, fair and shy, For love's love lightly lost and won, In a deep well to drown and die; Good luck has he that deals with none!
Sardana, flower of chivalry, Who conquered Crete with horn and cry, For this was fain a maid to be And learn with girls the thread to ply; King David, wise in prophecy, Forgot the fear of God for one Seen washing either shapely thigh; Good luck has he that deals with none!
For this did Amnon, craftily Feigning to eat of cakes of rye, Deflower his sister fair to see, Which was foul incest; and hereby Was Herod moved, it is no lie, To lop the head of Baptist John For dance and jig and psaltery; Good luck has he that deals with none!
Next of myself I tell, poor me, How thrashed like clothes at wash was I Stark naked, I must needs agree; Who made me eat so sour a pie But Katherine of Vaucelles? thereby, Noe took third part of that fun; Such wedding-gloves are ill to buy; Good luck has he that deals with none!
But for that young man fair and free To pass those young maids lightly by, Nay, would you burn him quick, not he; Like broom-horsed witches though he fry, They are sweet as civet in his eye; But trust them, and you're fooled anon; For white or brown, and low or high, Good luck has he that deals with none!
FRAGMENT ON DEATH
And Paris be it or Helen dying, Who dies soever, dies with pain. He that lacks breath and wind for sighing, His gall bursts on his heart; and then He sweats, God knows what sweat!—again, No man may ease him of his grief; Child, brother, sister, none were fain To bail him thence for his relief.
Death makes him shudder, swoon, wax pale, Nose bend, veins stretch, and breath surrender, Neck swell, flesh soften, joints that fail Crack their strained nerves and arteries slender. O woman's body found so tender, Smooth, sweet, so precious in men's eyes, Must thou too bear such count to render? Yes; or pass quick into the skies.
[In the original here follows Villon's masterpiece, the matchless Ballad of the Ladies of Old Time, so incomparably rendered in the marvellous version of D. G. Rossetti; followed in its turn by the succeeding poem, as inferior to its companion as is my attempt at translation of it to his triumph in that higher and harder field.—A. C. S.]
BALLAD OF THE LORDS OF OLD TIME
(AFTER THE FORMER ARGUMENT)
What more? Where is the third Calixt, Last of that name now dead and gone, Who held four years the Papalist? Alphonso king of Aragon, The gracious lord, duke of Bourbon, And Arthur, duke of old Britaine? And Charles the Seventh, that worthy one? Even with the good knight Charlemain.
The Scot too, king of mount and mist, With half his face vermilion, Men tell us, like an amethyst From brow to chin that blazed and shone; The Cypriote king of old renown, Alas! and that good king of Spain, Whose name I cannot think upon? Even with the good knight Charlemain.
No more to say of them I list; 'Tis all but vain, all dead and done: For death may no man born resist, Nor make appeal when death comes on. I make yet one more question; Where's Lancelot, king of far Bohain? Where's he whose grandson called him son? Even with the good knight Charlemain.
Where is Guesclin, the good Breton? The lord of the eastern mountain-chain, And the good late duke of Alencon? Even with the good knight Charlemain.
BALLAD OF THE WOMEN OF PARIS
Albeit the Venice girls get praise For their sweet speech and tender air, And though the old women have wise ways Of chaffering for amorous ware, Yet at my peril dare I swear, Search Rome, where God's grace mainly tarries, Florence and Savoy, everywhere, There's no good girl's lip out of Paris.
The Naples women, as folk prattle, Are sweetly spoken and subtle enough: German girls are good at tattle, And Prussians make their boast thereof; Take Egypt for the next remove, Or that waste land the Tartar harries, Spain or Greece, for the matter of love, There's no good girl's lip out of Paris.
Breton and Swiss know nought of the matter, Gascony girls or girls of Toulouse; Two fishwives here with a half-hour's chatter Would shut them up by threes and twos; Calais, Lorraine, and all their crews, (Names enow the mad song marries) England and Picardy, search them and choose, There's no good girl's lip out of Paris.
Prince, give praise to our French ladies For the sweet sound their speaking carries; 'Twixt Rome and Cadiz many a maid is, But no good girl's lip out of Paris.
BALLAD WRITTEN FOR A BRIDEGROOM
WHICH VILLON GAVE TO A GENTLEMAN NEWLY MARRIED TO SEND TO HIS WIFE WHOM HE HAD WON WITH THE SWORD
At daybreak, when the falcon claps his wings, No whit for grief, but noble heart and high, With loud glad noise he stirs himself and springs, And takes his meat and toward his lure draws nigh; Such good I wish you! Yea, and heartily I am fired with hope of true love's meed to get; Know that Love writes it in his book; for why, This is the end for which we twain are met.
Mine own heart's lady with no gainsayings You shall be always wholly till I die; And in my right against all bitter things Sweet laurel with fresh rose its force shall try; Seeing reason wills not that I cast love by (Nor here with reason shall I chide or fret) Nor cease to serve, but serve more constantly; This is the end for which we twain are met.
And, which is more, when grief about me clings Through Fortune's fit or fume of jealousy, Your sweet kind eye beats down her threatenings As wind doth smoke; such power sits in your eye. Thus in your field my seed of harvestry Thrives, for the fruit is like me that I set; God bids me tend it with good husbandry; This is the end for which we twain are met.
Princess, give ear to this my summary; That heart of mine your heart's love should forget Shall never be: like trust in you put I: This is the end for which we twain are met.
BALLAD AGAINST THE ENEMIES OF FRANCE
May he fall in with beasts that scatter fire, Like Jason, when he sought the fleece of gold, Or change from man to beast three years entire, As King Nebuchadnezzar did of old; Or else have times as shameful and as bad As Trojan folk for ravished Helen had; Or gulfed with Proserpine and Tantalus Let hell's deep fen devour him dolorous, With worse to bear than Job's worst sufferance, Bound in his prison-maze with Daedalus, Who could wish evil to the state of France!
May he four months, like bitterns in the mire, Howl with head downmost in the lake-springs cold, Or to bear harness like strong bulls for hire To the Great Turk for money down be sold; Or thirty years like Magdalen live sad, With neither wool nor web of linen clad; Drown like Narciss', or swing down pendulous Like Absalom with locks luxurious, Or liker Judas fallen to reprobance; Or find such death as Simon sorcerous, Who could wish evil to the state of France!
May the old times come of fierce Octavian's ire, And in his belly molten coin be told; May he like Victor in the mill expire, Crushed between moving millstones on him rolled, Or in deep sea drenched breathless, more adrad Than in the whale's bulk Jonas, when God bade: From Phoebus' light, from Juno's treasure-house Driven, and from joys of Venus amorous, And cursed of God most high to the utterance, As was the Syrian king Antiochus, Who could wish evil to the state of France!
Prince, may the bright-winged brood of AEolus To sea-king Glaucus' wild wood cavernous Bear him bereft of peace and hope's least glance, For worthless is he to get good of us, Who could wish evil to the state of France.
THE DISPUTE OF THE HEART AND BODY OF FRANCOIS VILLON
Who is this I hear?—Lo, this is I, thine heart, That holds on merely now by a slender string. Strength fails me, shape and sense are rent apart, The blood in me is turned to a bitter thing, Seeing thee skulk here like a dog shivering.— Yea, and for what?—For that thy sense found sweet.— What irks it thee?—I feel the sting of it.— Leave me at peace.—Why?—Nay now, leave me at peace; I will repent when I grow ripe in wit.— I say no more.—I care not though thou cease.—
What art thou, trow?—A man worth praise, perfay.— This is thy thirtieth year of wayfaring.— 'Tis a mule's age.—Art thou a boy still?—Nay.— Is it hot lust that spurs thee with its sting, Grasping thy throat? Know'st thou not anything?— Yea, black and white, when milk is specked with flies, I can make out.—No more?—Nay, in no wise. Shall I begin again the count of these?— Thou art undone.—I will make shift to rise.— I say no more.—I care not though thou cease.—
I have the sorrow of it, and thou the smart. Wert thou a poor mad fool or weak of wit, Then might'st thou plead this pretext with thine heart; But if thou know not good from evil a whit, Either thy head is hard as stone to hit, Or shame, not honour, gives thee most content. What canst thou answer to this argument?— When I am dead I shall be well at ease.— God! what good hope!—Thou art over eloquent.— I say no more.—I care not though thou cease.—
Whence is this ill?—From sorrow and not from sin. When Saturn packed my wallet up for me I well believe he put these ills therein.— Fool, wilt thou make thy servant lord of thee? Hear now the wise king's counsel; thus saith he: All power upon the stars a wise man hath; There is no planet that shall do him scathe.— Nay, as they made me I grow and I decrease.— What say'st thou?—Truly this is all my faith.— I say no more.—I care not though thou cease.—
Wouldst thou live still?—God help me that I may!— Then thou must—What? turn penitent and pray?— Read always—What?—Grave words and good to say; Leave off the ways of fools, lest they displease.— Good; I will do it.—Wilt thou remember?—Yea.— Abide not till there come an evil day. I say no more.—I care not though thou cease.
EPISTLE IN FORM OF A BALLAD TO HIS FRIENDS
Have pity, pity, friends, have pity on me, Thus much at least, may it please you, of your grace! I lie not under hazel or hawthorn-tree Down in this dungeon ditch, mine exile's place By leave of God and fortune's foul disgrace. Girls, lovers, glad young folk and newly wed, Jumpers and jugglers, tumbling heel o'er head, Swift as a dart, and sharp as needle-ware, Throats clear as bells that ring the kine to shed, Your poor old friend, what, will you leave him there?
Singers that sing at pleasure, lawlessly, Light, laughing, gay of word and deed, that race And run like folk light-witted as ye be And have in hand nor current coin nor base, Ye wait too long, for now he's dying apace. Rhymers of lays and roundels sung and read, Ye'll brew him broth too late when he lies dead. Nor wind nor lightning, sunbeam nor fresh air, May pierce the thick wall's bound where lies his bed; Your poor old friend, what, will you leave him there?
O noble folk from tithes and taxes free, Come and behold him in this piteous case, Ye that nor king nor emperor holds in fee, But only God in heaven; behold his face Who needs must fast, Sundays and holidays, Which makes his teeth like rakes; and when he hath fed With never a cake for banquet but dry bread, Must drench his bowels with much cold watery fare, With board nor stool, but low on earth instead; Your poor old friend, what, will you leave him there?
Princes afore-named, old and young foresaid, Get me the king's seal and my pardon sped, And hoist me in some basket up with care: So swine will help each other ill bested, For where one squeaks they run in heaps ahead. Your poor old friend, what, will you leave him there?
THE EPITAPH IN FORM OF A BALLAD
WHICH VILLON MADE FOR HIMSELF AND HIS COMRADES, EXPECTING TO BE HANGED ALONG WITH THEM
Men, brother men, that after us yet live, Let not your hearts too hard against us be; For if some pity of us poor men ye give, The sooner God shall take of you pity. Here are we five or six strung up, you see, And here the flesh that all too well we fed Bit by bit eaten and rotten, rent and shred, And we the bones grow dust and ash withal; Let no man laugh at us discomforted, But pray to God that he forgive us all.
If we call on you, brothers, to forgive, Ye should not hold our prayer in scorn, though we Were slain by law; ye know that all alive Have not wit alway to walk righteously; Make therefore intercession heartily With him that of a virgin's womb was bred, That his grace be not as a dry well-head For us, nor let hell's thunder on us fall; We are dead, let no man harry or vex us dead, But pray to God that he forgive us all.
The rain has washed and laundered us all five, And the sun dried and blackened; yea, perdie, Ravens and pies with beaks that rend and rive Have dug our eyes out, and plucked off for fee Our beards and eyebrows; never are we free, Not once, to rest; but here and there still sped, Drive at its wild will by the wind's change led, More pecked of birds than fruits on garden-wall; Men, for God's love, let no gibe here be said, But pray to God that he forgive us all.
Prince Jesus, that of all art lord and head, Keep us, that hell be not our bitter bed; We have nought to do in such a master's hall. Be not ye therefore of our fellowhead, But pray to God that he forgive us all.
FROM VICTOR HUGO
Take heed of this small child of earth; He is great: he hath in him God most high. Children before their fleshly birth Are lights alive in the blue sky.
In our light bitter world of wrong They come; God gives us them awhile. His speech is in their stammering tongue, And his forgiveness in their smile.
Their sweet light rests upon our eyes. Alas! their right to joy is plain. If they are hungry, Paradise Weeps, and, if cold, Heaven thrills with pain.
The want that saps their sinless flower Speaks judgment on sin's ministers. Man holds an angel in his power. Ah! deep in Heaven what thunder stirs,
When God seeks out these tender things Whom in the shadow where we sleep He sends us clothed about with wings, And finds them ragged babes that weep!
La nuit ecoute et se penche sur l'onde Pour y cueillir rien qu'un souffle d'amour; Pas de lueur, pas de musique au monde, Pas de sommeil pour moi ni de sejour. O mere, o Nuit, de ta source profonde Verse-nous, verse enfin l'oubli du jour.
Verse l'oubli de l'angoisse et du jour; Chante; ton chant assoupit l'ame et l'onde: Fais de ton sein pour mon ame un sejour, Elle est bien lasse, o mere, de ce monde, Ou le baiser ne veut pas dire amour, Ou l'ame aimee est moins que toi profonde.
Car toute chose aimee est moins profonde, O Nuit, que toi, fille et mere du jour; Toi dont l'attente est le repit du monde, Toi dont le souffle est plein de mots d'amour, Toi dont l'haleine enfle et reprime l'onde, Toi dont l'ombre a tout le ciel pour sejour.
La misere humble et lasse, sans sejour, S'abrite et dort sous ton aile profonde; Tu fais a tous l'aumone de l'amour: Toutes les soifs viennent boire a ton onde, Tout ce qui pleure et se derobe au jour, Toutes les faims et tous les maux du monde.
Moi seul je veille et ne vois dans ce monde Que ma douleur qui n'ait point de sejour Ou s'abriter sur ta rive profonde Et s'endormir sous tes yeux loin du jour; Je vais toujours cherchant au bord de l'onde Le sang du beau pied blesse de l'amour.
La mer est sombre ou tu naquis, amour, Pleine des pleurs et des sanglots du monde; On ne voit plus le gouffre ou nait le jour Luire et fremir sous ta lueur profonde; Mais dans les coeurs d'homme ou tu fais sejour La douleur monte et baisse comme une onde.
Fille de l'onde et mere de l'amour, Du haut sejour plein de ta paix profonde Sur ce bas monde epands un peu de jour.
Pour mettre une couronne au front d'une chanson, Il semblait qu'en passant son pied semat des roses, Et que sa main cueillit comme des fleurs ecloses Les etoiles au fond du ciel en floraison.
Sa parole de marbre et d'or avait le son Des clairons de l'ete chassant les jours moroses; Comme en Thrace Apollon banni des grands cieux roses, Il regardait du coeur l'Olympe, sa maison.
Le soleil fut pour lui le soleil du vieux monde, Et son oeil recherchait dans les flots embrases Le sillon immortel d'ou s'elanca sur l'onde Venus, que la mer molle enivrait de baisers: Enfin, dieu ressaisi de sa splendeur premiere, Il trone, et son sepulcre est bati de lumiere.
(LE TOMBEAU DE THEOPHILE GAUTIER)
Quelle fleur, o Mort, quel joyau, quel chant, Quel vent, quel rayon de soleil couchant, Sur ton front penche, sur ta main avide, Sur l'apre paleur de ta levre aride, Vibre encore et luit? Ton sein est sans lait, ton oreille est vide, Ton oeil plein de nuit.
Ta bouche est sans souffle et ton front sans ride; Mais l'eclair voile d'une flamme humide, Flamme eclose au coeur d'un ciel pluvieux, Rallume ta levre et remplit tes yeux De lueurs d'opale; Ta bouche est vermeille et ton front joyeux, O toi qui fus pale.
Comme aux jours divins la mere des dieux, Reine au sein fecond, au corps radieux, Tu surgis au bord de la tombe amere; Tu nous apparais, o Mort, vierge et mere, Effroi des humains, Le divin laurier sur la tete altiere Et la lyre aux mains.
Nous reconnaissons, courbes vers la terre, Que c'est la splendeur de ta face austere Qui dore la nuit de nos longs malheurs; Que la vie ailee aux mille couleurs, Dont tu n'es que l'ame, Refait par tes mains les pres et les fleurs, La rose et la femme.
Lune constante! astre ami des douleurs Qui luis a travers la brume des pleurs! Quelle flamme au fond de ta clarte molle Eclate et rougit, nouvelle aureole, Ton doux front voile? Quelle etoile, ouvrant ses ailes, s'envole Du ciel etoile?
Pleurant ce rayon de jour qu'on lui vole, L'homme execre en vain la Mort triste et folle; Mais l'astre qui fut a nos yeux si beau, La-haut, loin d'ici, dans un ciel nouveau Plein d'autres etoiles, Se leve, et pour lui la nuit du tombeau Entr'ouvre ses voiles.
L'ame est dans le corps comme un jeune oiseau Dont l'aile s'agite au bord du berceau; La mort, deliant cette aile inquiete, Quand nous ecoutons la bouche muette Qui nous dit adieu, Fait de l'homme infime et sombre un poete, Du poete un dieu.
IN OBITUM THEOPHILI POETAE
O lux Pieridum et laurigeri deliciae dei, Vox leni Zephyro lenior, ut veris amans novi Tollit floridulis implicitum primitiis caput, Ten' ergo abripuit non rediturum, ut redeunt novo Flores vere novi, te quoque mors irrevocabilem? Cur vatem neque te Musa parens, te neque Gratiae, Nec servare sibi te potuit fidum animi Venus? Quae nunc ipsa magis vel puero te Cinyreio, Te desiderium et flebilibus lumen amoribus, Amissum queritur, sanguineis fusa comam genis. Tantis tu lacrymis digne, comes dulcis Apollini, Carum nomen eris dis superis atque sodalibus Nobis, quis eadem quae tibi vivo patuit via Non aequis patet, at te sequimur passibus haud tuis, At maesto cinerem carmine non illacrymabilem Tristesque exuvias floribus ac fletibus integris Una contegimus, nec cithara nec sine tibia, Votoque unanimae vocis Ave dicimus et Vale.
Catulle frater, ut velim comes tibi Remota per vireta, per cavum nemus Sacrumque Ditis haud inhospiti specus, Pedem referre, trans aquam Stygis ducem Secutus unum et unicum, Catulle, te, Ut ora vatis optimi reviserem, Tui meique vatis ora, quem scio Venustiorem adisse vel tuo lacum, Benigniora semper arva vel tuis, Ubi serenus accipit suos deus, Tegitque myrtus implicata laurea, Manuque mulcet halituque consecrat Fovetque blanda mors amabili sinu, Et ore fama fervido colit viros Alitque qualis unus ille par tibi Britannus unicusque in orbe praestitit Amicus ille noster, ille ceteris Poeta major, omnibusque floribus Priore Landor inclytum rosa caput Revinxit extulitque, quam tua manu Recepit ac refovit integram sua.
Some nine years gone, as we dwelt together In the sweet hushed heat of the south French weather Ere autumn fell on the vine-tressed hills Or the season had shed one rose-red feather,
Friend, whose fame is a flame that fills All eyes it lightens and hearts it thrills With joy to be born of the blood which bred From a land that the grey sea girds and chills
The heart and spirit and hand and head Whose might is as light on a dark day shed, On a day now dark as a land's decline Where all the peers of your praise are dead,
In a land and season of corn and vine I pledged you a health from a beaker of mine But halfway filled to the lip's edge yet With hope for honey and song for wine.
Nine years have risen and eight years set Since there by the wellspring our hands on it met: And the pledge of my songs that were then to be, I could wonder not, friend, though a friend should forget.
For life's helm rocks to the windward and lee, And time is as wind, and as waves are we; And song is as foam that the sea-winds fret, Though the thought at its heart should be deep as the sea.