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The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson - Swanston Edition Vol. 14 (of 25)
by Robert Louis Stevenson
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ee } ei } = open E as in mere. ie }

oa = open O as in more.

ou = doubled O as in poor.

ow = OW as in bower.

u = doubled O as in poor.

ui or ue before R = (say roughly) open A as in rare.

ui or ue before any other consonant = (say roughly) close I as in grin.

y = open I as in kite.

i = pretty nearly what you please, much as in English, Heaven guide the reader through that labyrinth! But in Scots it dodges usually from the short I, as in grin, to the open E as in mere. Find and blind, I may remark, are pronounced to rhyme with the preterite of grin.

I

THE MAKER TO POSTERITY

Far 'yont amang the years to be, When a' we think, an' a' we see, An' a' we luve, 's been dung ajee By time's rouch shouther, An' what was richt and wrang for me Lies mangled throu'ther,

It's possible—it's hardly mair— That some ane, ripin' after lear— Some auld professor or young heir, If still there's either— May find an' read me, an' be sair Perplexed, puir brither!

"What tongue does your auld bookie speak?" He'll speir; an' I, his mou' to steik: "No' bein' fit to write in Greek, I wrote in Lallan, Dear to my heart as the peat-reek, Auld as Tantallon.

"Few spak it than, an' noo there's nane. My puir auld sangs lie a' their lane, Their sense, that aince was braw an' plain, Tint a'thegither, Like runes upon a standin' stane Amang the heather.

"But think not you the brae to speel; You, tae, maun chow the bitter peel; For a' your lear, for a' your skeel, Ye're nane sae lucky; An' things are mebbe waur than weel For you, my buckie.

"The hale concern (baith hens an' eggs, Baith books an' writers, stars an' clegs) Noo stachers upon lowsent legs An' wears awa'; The tack o' mankind, near the dregs, Rins unco law.

"Your book, that in some braw new tongue Ye wrote or prentit, preached or sung, Will still be just a bairn, an' young In fame an' years, Whan the hale planet's guts are dung About your ears;

"An' you, sair gruppin' to a spar Or whammled wi' some bleezin' star, Cryin' to ken whaur deil ye are, Hame, France, or Flanders— Whang sindry like a railway car An' flie in danders."

II

ILLE TERRARUM

Frae nirly, nippin', Eas'lan' breeze, Frae Norlan' snaw, an' haar o' seas, Weel happit in your gairden trees, A bonny bit, Atween the muckle Pentland's knees, Secure ye sit.

Beeches an' aiks entwine their theek, An' firs, a stench, auld-farrant clique. A simmer day, your chimleys reek, Couthy and bien; An' here an' there your windies keek Amang the green.

A pickle plats an' paths an' posies, A wheen auld gillyflowers an' roses: A ring o' wa's the hale encloses Frae sheep or men: An' there the auld housie beeks an' dozes, A' by her lane.

The gairdner crooks his weary back A' day in the pitaty-track, Or mebbe stops a while to crack Wi' Jane the cook, Or at some buss, worm-eaten-black, To gie a look.

Frae the high hills the curlew ca's; The sheep gang baaing by the wa's; Or whiles a clan o' roosty craws Cangle thegither; The wild bees seek the gairden raws, Weariet wi' heather.

Or in the gloamin' douce an' grey The sweet-throat mavis tunes her lay; The herd comes linkin' doun the brae; An' by degrees The muckle siller muene maks way Amang the trees.

Here aft hae I, wi' sober heart, For meditation sat apairt, When orra loves or kittle art Perplexed my mind; Here socht a balm for ilka smart O' humankind.

Here aft, weel neukit by my lane, Wi' Horace, or perhaps Montaigne, The mornin' hours hae come an' gane Abuene my heid— I wadna gi'en a chucky-stane For a' I'd read.

But noo the auld city, street by street, An' winter fu' o' snaw an' sleet, A while shut in my gangrel feet An' goavin' mettle; Noo is the soopit ingle sweet, An' liltin' kettle.

An' noo the winter winds complain; Cauld lies the glaur in ilka lane; On draigled hizzie, tautit wean An' drucken lads, In the mirk nicht, the winter rain Dribbles an' blads.

Whan bugles frae the Castle rock, An' beaten drums wi' dowie shock, Wauken, at cauld-rife sax o'clock, My chitterin' frame, I mind me on the kintry cock, The kintry hame.

I mind me on yon bonny bield; An' Fancy traivels far afield To gaither a' that gairdens yield O' sun an' Simmer: To hearten up a dowie chield, Fancy's the limmer!

III

When aince Aprile has fairly come, An' birds may bigg in winter's lum, An' pleesure's spreid for a' and some O' whatna state, Love, wi' her auld recruitin' drum, Than taks the gate.

The heart plays dunt wi' main an' micht; The lasses' een are a' sae bricht, Their dresses are sae braw an' ticht, The bonny birdies!— Puir winter virtue at the sicht Gangs heels ower hurdies.

An' aye as love frae land to land Tirls the drum wi' eident hand, A' men collect at her command, Toun-bred or land'art, An' follow in a denty band Her gaucy standart.

An' I, wha sang o' rain an' snaw, An' weary winter weel awa', Noo busk me in a jacket braw, An' tak my place I' the ram-stam, harum-scarum raw, Wi' smilin' face.

IV

A MILE AN' A BITTOCK

A mile an' a bittock, a mile or twa, Abuene the burn, ayont the law, Davie an' Donal' an' Cherlie an' a', An' the muene was shinin' clearly!

Ane went hame wi' the ither, an' then The ither went hame wi' the ither twa men, An' baith wad return him the service again, An' the muene was shinin' clearly!

The clocks were chappin' in house an' ha', Eleeven, twal an' ane an' twa; An' the guidman's face was turnt to the wa' An' the muene was shinin' clearly!

A wind got up frae affa the sea, It blew the stars as clear's could be, It blew in the een of a' o' the three, An' the muene was shinin' clearly!

Noo, Davie was first to get sleep in his head, "The best o' frien's maun twine," he said; "I'm weariet, an' here I'm awa' to my bed." An' the muene was shinin' clearly!

Twa o' them walkin' an' crackin' their lane, The mornin' licht cam grey an' plain, An' the birds they yammert on stick an' stane, An' the muene was shinin' clearly!

O years ayont, O years awa', My lads, ye'll mind whate'er befa'— My lads, ye'll mind on the bield o' the law, When the muene was shinin' clearly.

V

A LOWDEN SABBATH MORN

The clinkum-clank o' Sabbath bells Noo to the hoastin' rookery swells, Noo faintin' laigh in shady dells, Sounds far an' near, An' through the simmer kintry tells Its tale o' cheer.

An' noo, to that melodious play, A' deidly awn the quiet sway— A' ken their solemn holiday, Bestial an' human, The singin' lintie on the brae, The restin' plou'man.

He, mair than a' the lave o' men, His week completit joys to ken; Half-dressed, he daunders out an' in, Perplext wi' leisure; An' his raxt limbs he'll rax again Wi' painfue' pleesure.

The steerin' mither strang afit Noo shoos the bairnies but a bit; Noo cries them ben, their Sinday shueit To scart upon them, Or sweeties in their pooch to pit, Wi' blessin's on them.

The lasses, clean frae tap to taes, Are busked in crunklin' underclaes; The gartened hose, the weel-fllled stays, The nakit shift, A' bleached on bonny greens for days, An' white's the drift.

An' noo to face the kirkward mile: The guidman's hat o' dacent style, The blackit shoon we noo maun fyle As white's the miller: A waefue' peety tae, to spile The warth o' siller.

Our Marg'et, aye sae keen to crack, Douce-stappin' in the stoury track, Her emeralt goun a' kiltit back Frae snawy coats, White-ankled, leads the kirkward pack Wi' Dauvit Groats.

A thocht ahint, in runkled breeks, A' spiled wi' lyin' by for weeks, The guidman follows closs, an' cleiks The sonsie missis; His sarious face at aince bespeaks The day that this is.

And aye an' while we nearer draw To whaur the kirkton lies alaw, Mair neebours, comin' saft an' slaw Frae here an' there, The thicker thrang the gate an' caw The stour in air.

But hark! the bells frae nearer clang; To rowst the slaw their sides they bang; An' see! black coats a'ready thrang The green kirkyaird; And at the yett, the chestnuts spang That brocht the laird.

The solemn elders at the plate Stand drinkin' deep the pride o' state: The practised hands as gash an' great As Lords o' Session; The later named, a wee thing blate In their expression.

The prentit stanes that mark the deid, Wi' lengthened lip, the sarious read; Syne wag a moraleesin' heid, An' then an' there Their hirplin' practice an' their creed Try hard to square.

It's here our Merren lang has lain, A wee bewast the table-stane; An' yon's the grave o' Sandy Blane; An' further ower, The mither's brithers, dacent men! Lie a' the fower.

Here the guidman sall bide awee To dwall amang the deid; to see Auld faces clear in fancy's e'e; Belike to hear Auld voices fa'in' saft an' slee On fancy's ear.

Thus, on the day o' solemn things, The bell that in the steeple swings To fauld a scaittered faim'ly rings Its walcome screed; An' just a wee thing nearer brings The quick an' deid.

But noo the bell is ringin' in; To tak their places, folk begin; The minister himsel' will shuene Be up the gate, Filled fu' wi' clavers about sin An' man's estate.

The tuenes are up—French, to be shuere, The faithfue' French, an' twa-three mair; The auld prezentor, hoastin' sair, Wales out the portions, An' yirks the tuene into the air Wi' queer contortions.

Follows the prayer, the readin' next, An' than the fisslin' for the text— The twa-three last to find it, vext But kind o' proud; An' than the peppermints are raxed, An' southernwood.

For noo's the time whan pows are seen Nid-noddin' like a mandareen; When tenty mithers stap a preen In sleepin' weans; An' nearly half the parochine Forget their pains.

There's just a waukrif twa or three: Thrawn commentautors sweer to 'gree, Weans glowrin' at the bumlin' bee On windie-glasses, Or lads that tak a keek a-glee At sonsie lasses.

Himsel', meanwhile, frae whaur he cocks An' bobs belaw the soundin'-box, The treasures of his words unlocks Wi' prodigality, An' deals some unco dingin' knocks To infidality.

Wi' sappy unction, hoo he burkes The hopes o' men that trust in works, Expounds the fau'ts o' ither kirks, An' shaws the best o' them No' muckle better than mere Turks, When a's confessed o' them.

Bethankit! what a bonny creed! What mair would ony Christian need?— The braw words rummle ower his heid, Nor steer the sleeper; An' in their restin' graves, the deid Sleep aye the deeper.

NOTE.—It may be guessed by some that I had a certain parish in my eye, and this makes it proper I should add a word of disclamation. In my time there have been two ministers in that parish. Of the first I have a special reason to speak well, even had there been any to think ill. The second I have often met in private and long (in the due phrase) "sat under" in his church, and neither here nor there have I heard an unkind or ugly word upon his lips. The preacher of the text had thus no original in that particular parish; but when I was a boy, he might have been observed in many others; he was then (like the schoolmaster) abroad; and by recent advices, it would seem he has not yet entirely disappeared.—[R. L. S.]

VI

THE SPAEWIFE

O, I wad like to ken—to the beggar-wife says I— Why chops are guid to brander and nane sae guid to fry. An' siller, that's sae braw to keep, is brawer still to gi'e. —It's gey an' easy speirin', says the beggar-wife to me.

O, I wad like to ken—to the beggar-wife says I— Hoo a' things come to be whaur we find them when we try. The lassies in their claes an' the fishes in the sea. —It's gey an' easy speirin', says the beggar-wife to me.

O' I wad like to ken—to the beggar-wife says I— Why lads are a' to sell an' lasses a' to buy; An' naebody for dacency but barely twa or three. —It's gey an' easy speirin', says the beggar-wife to me.

O, I wad like to ken—to the beggar-wife says I— Gin death's as shuere to men as killin' is to kye, Why God has filled the yearth sae fu' o' tasty things to pree. —It's gey an' easy speirin', says the beggar-wife to me.

O, I wad like to ken—to the beggar-wife says I— The reason o' the cause an' the wherefore o' the why, Wi' mony anither riddle brings the tear into my e'e. —It's gey an' easy speirin', says the beggar-wife to me.

VII

THE BLAST—1875

It's rainin'. Weet's the gairden sod, Weet the lang roads whaur gangrels plod— A maist unceevil thing o' God In mid July— If ye'll just curse the sneckdraw, dod! An' sae wull I!

He's a braw place in Heev'n, ye ken, An' lea's us puir, forjaskit men Clamjamfried in the but and ben He ca's the earth— A wee bit inconvenient den No muckle worth;

An' whiles, at orra times, keeks out, Sees what puir mankind are about; An' if He can, I've little doubt, Upsets their plans; He hates a' mankind, brainch and root, An' a' that's man's.

An' whiles, whan they tak' heart again, An' life i' the sun looks braw an' plain, Doun comes a jaw o' droukin' rain Upon their honours— God sends a spate out ower the plain, Or mebbe thun'ers.

Lord safe us, life's an unco thing! Simmer and Winter, Yule an' Spring, The damned, dour-heartit seasons bring A feck o' trouble. I wadna try 't to be a king— No, nor for double.

But since we're in it, willy-nilly, We maun be watchfue', wise an' skilly, An' no' mind ony ither billy, Lassie nor God. But drink—that's my best counsel till 'e; Sae tak' the nod.

VIII

THE COUNTERBLAST—1886

My bonny man, the warld, it's true, Was made for neither me nor you; It's just a place to warstle through, As Job confessed o't; And aye the best that we'll can do Is mak' the best o't.

There's rowth o' wrang, I'm free to say: The simmer brunt, the winter blae, The face of earth a' fyled wi' clay An' dour wi' chuckies, An' life a rough an' land'art play For country buckies.

An' food's anither name for clart; An' beasts an' brambles bite an' scart; An' what would WE be like, my heart! If bared o' claethin'? —Aweel, I canna mend your cart: It's that or naethin'.

A feck o' folk frae first to last Have through this queer experience passed; Twa-three, I ken, just damn an' blast The hale transaction; But twa-three ithers, east an' wast, Fand satisfaction.

Whaur braid the briery muirs expand, A waefue' an' a weary land, The bumble-bees, a gowden band, Are blithely hingin'; An' there the canty wanderer fand The laverock singin'.

Trout in the burn grow great as herr'n'; The simple sheep can find their fair'n'; The winds blaws clean about the cairn Wi' caller air; The muircock an' the barefit bairn Are happy there.

Sic-like the howes o' life to some: Green loans whaur they ne'er fash their thumb, But mark the muckle winds that come, Soopin' an' cool, Or hear the powrin' burnie drum In the shilfa's pool.

The evil wi' the guid they tak'; They ca' a grey thing grey, no' black; To a steigh brae a stubborn back Addressin' daily; An' up the rude, unbieldy track O' life, gang gaily.

What you would like's a palace ha', Or Sinday parlour dink an' braw Wi' a' things ordered in a raw By denty leddies. Weel, then, ye canna hae't: that's a' That to be said is.

An' since at life ye've ta'en the grue, An' winna blithely hirsle through, Ye've fund the very thing to do— That's to drink speerit; An' shuene we'll hear the last o' you— An' blithe to hear it!

The shoon ye coft, the life ye lead, Ithers will heir when aince ye're deid; They'll heir your tasteless bite o' breid, An' find it sappy; They'll to your dulefue' house succeed, An' there be happy.

As whan a glum an' fractious wean Has sat an' sullened by his lane Till, wi' a rowstin' skelp, he's ta'en An' shoo'd to bed—— The ither bairns a' fa' to play'n', As gleg's a gled.

IX

THE COUNTERBLAST IRONICAL

It's strange that God should fash to frame The yearth and lift sae hie, An' clean forget to explain the same To a gentleman like me.

Thae gusty, donnered ither folk, Their weird they weel may dree; But why present a pig in a poke To a gentleman like me?

Thae ither folk their parritch eat An' sup their sugared tea; But the mind is no' to be wyled wi' meat Wi' a gentleman like me.

Thae ither folk, they court their joes At gloamin' on the lea; But they're made of a commoner clay, I suppose, Than a gentleman like me.

Thae ither folk, for richt or wrang, They suffer, bleed, or dee; But a' thir things are an emp'y sang To a gentleman like me.

It's a different thing that I demand, Tho' humble as can be— A statement fair in my Maker's hand To a gentleman like me:

A clear account writ fair an' broad, An' a plain apologie; Or the deevil a ceevil word to God From a gentleman like me.

X

THEIR LAUREATE TO AN ACADEMY CLASS DINNER CLUB

Dear Thamson class, whaure'er I gang It aye comes ower me wi' a spang: "Lordsake! thae Thamson lads—(deil hang Or else Lord mend them!)— An' that wanchancy annual sang I ne'er can send them!"

Straucht, at the name, a trusty tyke, My conscience girrs ahint the dyke; Straucht on my hinderlands I fyke To find a rhyme t' ye; Pleased—although mebbe no' pleased-like— To gie my time t' ye.

"Weel," an' says you, wi' heavin' breist, "Sae far, sae guid, but what's the neist? Yearly we gather to the feast, A' hopefue' men— Yearly we skelloch 'Hang the beast— Nae sang again!'"

My lads, an' what am I to say? Ye shuerely ken the Muse's way: Yestreen, as gleg's a tyke—the day, Thrawn like a cuddy: Her conduc', that to her's a play, Deith to a body.

Aft whan I sat an' made my mane, Aft whan I laboured burd-alane Fishin' for rhymes an' findin' nane, Or nane were fit for ye— Ye judged me cauld's a chucky-stane— No car'n' a bit for ye!

But saw ye ne'er some pingein' bairn As weak as a pitaty-par'n'— Less uesed wi' guidin' horse-shoe aim Than steerin' crowdie— Packed aff his lane, by moss an' cairn, To ca' the howdie.

Wae's me, for the puir callant than! He wambles like a poke o' bran, An' the lowse rein, as hard's he can, Pu's, trem'lin' handit; Till, blaff! upon his hinderlan' Behauld him landit.

Sic-like—I awn the weary fac'— Whan on my muse the gate I tak', An' see her gleed e'e raxin' back To keek ahint her;— To me, the brig o' Heev'n gangs black As blackest winter.

"Lordsake! we're aff," thinks I, "but whaur? On what abhorred an' whinny scaur, Or whammled in what sea o' glaur, Will she desert me? An' will she just disgrace? or waur— Will she no' hurt me?"

Kittle the quaere! But at least The day I've backed the fashious beast, While she, wi' mony a spang an' reist, Flang heels ower bonnet; An' a' triumphant—for your feast, Hae! there's your sonnet!

XI

EMBRO HIE KIRK

The Lord Himsel' in former days Waled out the proper tunes for praise An' named the proper kind o' claes For folk to preach in: Preceese and in the chief o' ways Important teachin'.

He ordered a' things late and air'; He ordered folk to stand at prayer (Although I canna just mind where He gave the warnin'), An' pit pomatum on their hair On Sabbath mornin'.

The hale o' life by His commands Was ordered to a body's hands; But see! this corpus juris stands By a' forgotten; An' God's religion in a' lands Is deid an' rotten.

While thus the lave o' mankind's lost, O' Scotland still God maks His boast— Puir Scotland, on whase barren coast A score or twa Auld wives wi' mutches an' a hoast Still keep His law.

In Scotland, a wheen canty, plain, Douce, kintry-leevin' folk retain The Truth—or did so aince—alane Of a' men leevin'; An' noo just twa o' them remain— Just Begg an' Niven.

For noo, unfaithfue' to the Lord, Auld Scotland joins the rebel horde; Her human hymn-books on the board She noo displays: An' Embro Hie Kirk's been restored In popish ways.

O punctum temporis for action To a' o' the reformin' faction, If yet, by ony act or paction, Thocht, word, or sermon, This dark an' damnable transaction Micht yet determine!

For see—as Doctor Begg explains— Hoo easy 't's duene! a pickle weans, Wha in the Hie Street gaither stanes By his instruction, The uncovenantit, pentit panes Ding to destruction.

Up, Niven, or ower late—an' dash Laigh in the glaur that carnal hash; Let spires and pews wi' gran' stramash Thegither fa'; The rumlin' kist o' whustles smash In pieces sma'.

Noo choose ye out a walie hammer; About the knottit buttress clam'er; Alang the steep roof stoyt an' stammer, A gate mischancy; On the aul' spire, the bells' hie cha'mer, Dance your bit dancie.

Ding, devel, dunt, destroy, an' ruin, Wi' carnal stanes the square bestrewn', Till your loud chaps frae Kyle to Fruin, Frae Hell to Heeven, Tell the guid wark that baith are doin'— Baith Begg an' Niven.

XII

THE SCOTSMAN'S RETURN FROM ABROAD

IN A LETTER FROM MR. THOMSON TO MR. JOHNSTONE

In mony a foreign pairt I've been, An' mony an unco ferlie seen, Since, Mr. Johnstone, you and I, Last walkit upon Cocklerye. Wi' gleg, observant een, I pass't By sea an' land, through East an' Wast, And still in ilka age an' station Saw naething but abomination. In thir uncovenantit lands The gangrel Scot uplifts his hands At lack of a' sectarian fuesh'n, An' cauld religious destituetion. He rins, puir man, frae place to place, Tries a' their graceless means o' grace, Preacher on preacher, kirk on kirk— This yin a stot an' thon a stirk— A bletherin' clan, no warth a preen. As bad as Smith of Aiberdeen!

At last, across the weary faem, Frae far, outlandish pairts I came. On ilka side o' me I fand Fresh tokens o' my native land. Wi' whatna joy I hailed them a'— The hill-taps standin' raw by raw, The public-house, the Hielan' birks, And a' the bonny U.P. kirks! But maistly thee, the bluid o' Scots, Frae Maidenkirk to John o' Groats! The king o' drinks, as I conceive it, Talisker, Isla, or Glenlivet!

For after years wi' a pockmantie Frae Zanzibar to Alicante, In mony a fash and sair affliction I gie't as my sincere conviction— Of a' their foreign tricks an' pliskies, I maist abominate their whiskies. Nae doot, themsel's, they ken it weel, An' wi' a hash o' leemon peel, And ice an' siccan filth, they ettle The stawsome kind o' goo to settle Sic wersh apothecary's broos wi' As Scotsmen scorn to fyle their moo's wi'.

An', man, I was a blithe hame-comer Whan first I syndit out my rummer. Ye should hae seen me then, wi' care The less important pairts prepare; Syne, weel contentit wi' it a', Pour in the speerits wi' a jaw! I didna drink, I didna speak,— I only snowkit up the reek. I was sae pleased therein to paidle, I sat an' plowtered wi' my ladle.

An' blithe was I, the morrow's morn, To daunder through the stookit corn, And after a' my strange mishanters Sit doun amang my ain dissenters An', man, it was a joy to me The pu'pit an' the pews to see, The pennies dirlin' in the plate, The elders lookin' on in state; An' 'mang the first, as it befell, Wha should I see, sir, but yoursel'!

I was, and I will no' deny it, At the first gliff a hantle tryit To see yoursel' in sic a station— It seemed a doubtfue' dispensation. The feelin' was a mere digression; For shuene I understood the session, An' mindin' Aiken an' M'Neil, I wondered they had duene sae weel. I saw I had mysel' to blame; For had I but remained at hame, Aiblins—though no ava' deservin' 't— They micht hae named your humble servant.

The kirk was filled, the door was steiked; Up to the pu'pit aince I keeked; I was mair pleased than I can tell— It was the minister himsel'! Proud, proud was I to see his face, After sae lang awa' frae grace. Pleased as I was, I'm no' denyin' Some maitters were not edifyin'; For first I fand—an' here was news!— Mere hymn-books cockin' in the pews— A humanised abomination, Unfit for ony congregation. Syne, while I still was on the tenter, I scunnered at the new prezentor; I thocht him gesterin' an' cauld— A sair declension frae the auld. Syne, as though a' the faith was wreckit, The prayer was not what I'd exspeckit. Himsel', as it appeared to me, Was no' the man he uesed to be. But just as I was growin' vext He waled a maist judeecious text, An', launchin' into his prelections, Swoopt, wi' a skirl, on a' defections.

O what a gale was on my speerit To hear the p'ints o' doctrine clearit, And a' the horrors o' damnation Set furth wi' faithfue' ministration! Nae shauchlin' testimony here— We were a' damned, an' that was clear. I owned, wi' gratitude an' wonder, He was a pleesure to sit under.

XIII

Late in the nicht in bed I lay, The winds were at their weary play, An' tirlin' wa's an' skirlin' wae Through Heev'n they battered;— On-ding o' hail, on-blaff o' spray, The tempest blattered.

The masoned house it dinled through; It dung the ship, it cowped the coo; The rankit aiks it overthrew, Had braved a' weathers; The strang sea-gleds it took an' blew Awa' like feethers.

The thrawes o' fear on a' were shed, An' the hair rose, an' slumber fled, An' lichts were lit an' prayers were said Through a' the kintry; An' the cauld terror clum in bed Wi' a' an' sindry.

To hear in the pit-mirk on hie The brangled collieshangie flie, The warl', they thocht, wi' land an' sea, Itsel' wad cowpit; An' for auld airn, the smashed debris By God be rowpit.

Meanwhile frae far Aldeboran To folks wi' talescopes in han', O' ships that cowpit, winds that ran, Nae sign was seen, But the wee warl' in sunshine span As bricht's a preen.

I, tae, by God's especial grace, Dwall denty in a bieldy place, Wi' hosened feet, wi' shaven face, Wi' dacent mainners: A grand example to the race O' tautit sinners!

The wind may blaw, the heathen rage, The deil may start on the rampage;— The sick in bed, the thief in cage— What's a' to me? Cosh in my house, a sober sage, I sit an' see.

An' whiles the bluid spangs to my bree, To lie sae saft, to live sae free, While better men maun do an' die In unco places. "Whaur's God?" I cry, an' "Whae is me To hae sic graces?"

I mind the fecht the sailors keep, But fire or can'le, rest or sleep, In darkness an' the muckle deep; An' mind beside The herd that on the hills o' sheep Has wandered wide.

I mind me on the hoastin' weans— The penny joes on causey-stanes— The auld folk wi' the crazy banes, Baith auld an' puir, That aye maun thole the winds an' rains An' labour sair.

An' whiles I'm kind o' pleased a blink, An' kind o' fleyed forby, to think, For a' my rowth o' meat an' drink An' waste o' crumb, I'll mebbe have to thole wi' skink In Kingdom Come.

For God whan jowes the Judgment bell Wi' His ain Hand, His Leevin' Sel', Sall ryve the guid (as Prophets tell) Frae them that had it; And in the reamin' pat o' Hell, The rich be scaddit.

O Lord, if this indeed be sae, Let daw' that sair an' happy day! Again the warl', grawn auld an' grey, Up wi' your aixe! An' let the puir enjoy their play— I'll thole my paiks.

XIV

MY CONSCIENCE!

Of a' the ills that flesh can fear, The loss o' frien's, the lack o' gear, A yowlin' tyke, a glandered mear, A lassie's nonsense— There's just ae thing I canna bear, An' that's my conscience.

Whan day (an' a' excuese) has gane, An' wark is duene, and duty's plain, An' to my chalmer a' my lane I creep apairt, My conscience! hoo the yammerin' pain Stends to my heart!

A' day wi' various ends in view, The hairsts o' time I had to pu', An' made a hash wad staw a soo, Let be a man!— My conscience! whan my han's were fu', Whaur were ye than?

An' there were a' the lures o' life, There pleesure skirlin' on the fife, There anger, wi' the hotchin' knife Ground shairp in Hell— My conscience!—you that's like a wife!— Whaur was yoursel'?

I ken it fine: just waitin' here, To gar the evil waur appear, To clart the guid, confuese the clear, Misca' the great, My conscience! an' to raise a steer Whan a's ower late.

Sic-like, some tyke grawn auld and blind, Whan thieves brok' through the gear to p'ind, Has lain his dozened length an' grinned At the disaster; An' the morn's mornin', wud's the wind, Yokes on his master.

XV

TO DOCTOR JOHN BROWN

Whan the dear doctor, dear to a', Was still among us here belaw, I set my pipes his praise to blaw Wi' a' my speerit; But noo, dear doctor! he's awa' An' ne'er can hear it.

By Lyne and Tyne, by Thames and Tees, By a' the various river Dee's, In Mars and Manors 'yont the seas Or here at hame, Whaure'er there's kindly folk to please, They ken your name.

They ken your name, they ken your tyke, They ken the honey from your byke; But mebbe after a' your fyke, (The trueth to tell) It's just your honest Rab they like, An' no' yoursel'.

As at the gowff, some canny play'r Should tee a common ba' wi' care— Should flourish and deleever fair His souple shintie— An' the ba' rise into the air, A leevin' lintie:

Sae in the game we writers play, There comes to some a bonny day, When a dear ferlie shall repay Their years o' strife, An' like your Rab, their things o' clay Spreid wings o' life.

Ye scarce deserved it, I'm afraid— You that had never learned the trade, But just some idle mornin' strayed Into the schuele, An' picked the fiddle up an' played Like Neil himsel'.

Your e'e was gleg, your fingers dink; Ye didna fash yoursel' to think, But wove, as fast as puss can link, Your denty wab:— Ye stapped your pen into the ink, An' there was Rab!

Sinsyne, whaure'er your fortune lay By dowie den, by canty brae, Simmer an' winter, nicht an' day, Rab was aye wi' ye; An' a' the folk on a' the way Were blithe to see ye.

O sir, the gods are kind indeed, An' hauld ye for an honoured heid, That for a wee bit clarkit screed Sae weel reward ye, An' lend—puir Rabbie bein' deid— His ghaist to guard ye.

For though, whaure'er yoursel' may be, We've just to turn an' glisk a wee, An' Rab at heel we're shuere to see Wi' gladsome caper:— The bogle of a bogle, he— A ghaist o' paper!

And as the auld-farrant hero sees In Hell a bogle Hercules, Pit there the lesser deid to please, While he himsel' Dwalls wi' the muckle gods at ease Far raised frae Hell:

Sae the true Rabbie far has gane On kindlier business o' his ain Wi' aulder frien's; an' his breist-bane An' stumpie tailie, He birstles at a new hearth-stane By James and Ailie.

XVI

It's an owercome sooth for age an' youth, And it brooks wi' nae denial, That the dearest friends are the auldest friends, And the young are just on trial.

There's a rival bauld wi' young an' auld, And it's him that has bereft me; For the suerest friends are the auldest friends, And the maist o' mine's hae left me.

There are kind hearts still, for friends to fill And fools to take and break them; But the nearest friends are the auldest friends, And the grave's the place to seek them.



BALLADS

THE SONG OF RAHERO

A LEGEND OF TAHITI

TO ORI A ORI

Ori, my brother in the island mode, In every tongue and meaning much my friend, This story of your country and your clan, In your loved house, your too much honoured guest, I made in English. Take it, being done; And let me sign it with the name you gave.

TERIITERA.



BALLADS

THE SONG OF RAHERO

I

THE SLAYING OF TAMATEA

It fell in the days of old, as the men of Taiarapu tell, A youth went forth to the fishing, and fortune favoured him well. Tamatea his name: gullible, simple, and kind. Comely of countenance, nimble of body, empty of mind, His mother ruled him and loved him beyond the wont of a wife, Serving the lad for eyes and living herself in his life. Alone from the sea and the fishing came Tamatea the fair, Urging his boat to the beach, and the mother awaited him there. —"Long may you live!" said she. "Your fishing has sped to a wish. And now let us choose for the king the fairest of all your fish. For fear inhabits the palace and grudging grows in the land, Marked is the sluggardly foot and marked the niggardly hand, The hours and the miles are counted, the tributes numbered and weighed, And woe to him that comes short, and woe to him that delayed!" So spoke on the beach the mother, and counselled the wiser thing. For Rahero stirred in the country and secretly mined the king. Nor were the signals wanting of how the leaven wrought, In the cords of obedience loosed and the tributes grudgingly brought. And when last to the temple of Oro the boat with the victim sped, And the priest uncovered the basket and looked on the face of the dead, Trembling fell upon all at sight of an ominous thing, For there was the aito[1] dead, and he of the house of the king.

So spake on the beach the mother, matter worthy of note, And wattled a basket well, and chose a fish from the boat; And Tamatea the pliable shouldered the basket and went, And travelled, and sang as he travelled, a lad that was well content. Still the way of his going was round by the roaring coast, Where the ring of the reef is broke and the trades run riot the most. On his left, with smoke as of battle, the billows battered the land; Unscalable, turreted mountains rose on the inner hand. And cape, and village, and river, and vale, and mountain above, Each had a name in the land for men to remember and love; And never the name of a place, but lo! a song in its praise: Ancient and unforgotten, songs of the earlier days That the elders taught to the young, and at night, in the full of the moon, Garlanded boys and maidens sang together in tune. Tamatea the placable went with a lingering foot; He sang as loud as a bird, he whistled hoarse as a flute; He broiled in the sun, he breathed in the grateful shadow of trees, In the icy stream of the rivers he waded over the knees; And still in his empty mind crowded, a thousand-fold, The deeds of the strong and the songs of the cunning heroes of old.

And now was he come to a place Taiarapu honoured the most, Where a silent valley of woods debouched on the noisy coast, Spewing a level river. There was a haunt of Pai.[2] There, in his potent youth, when his parents drove him to die, Honoura lived like a beast, lacking the lamp and the fire, Washed by the rains of the trade and clotting his hair in the mire; And there, so mighty his hands, he bent the tree to his foot— So keen the spur of his hunger, he plucked it naked of fruit. There, as she pondered the clouds for the shadow of coming ills, Ahupu, the woman of song, walked on high on the hills.

Of these was Rahero sprung, a man of a godly race; And inherited cunning of spirit, and beauty of body and face. Of yore in his youth, as an aito, Rahero wandered the land, Delighting maids with his tongue, smiting men with his hand. Famous he was in his youth; but before the midst of his life Paused, and fashioned a song of farewell to glory and strife.

House of mine (it went), house upon the sea, Belov'd of all my fathers, more belov'd by me! Vale of the strong Honoura, deep ravine of Pai, Again in your woody summits I hear the trade-wind cry.

House of mine, in your walls, strong sounds the sea, Of all sounds on earth, dearest sound to me. I have heard the applause of men, I have heard it arise and die: Sweeter now in my house I hear the trade-wind cry.

These were the words of his singing, other the thought of his heart; For secret desire of glory vexed him, dwelling apart. Lazy and crafty he was, and loved to lie in the sun, And loved the cackle of talk and the true word uttered in fun; Lazy he was, his roof was ragged, his table was lean, And the fish swam safe in his sea, and he gathered the near and the green. He sat in his house and laughed, but he loathed the king of the land, And he uttered the grudging word under the covering hand. Treason spread from his door; and he looked for a day to come, A day of the crowding people, a day of the summoning drum, When the vote should be taken, the king be driven forth in disgrace, And Rahero, the laughing and lazy, sit and rule in his place.

Here Tamatea came, and beheld the house on the brook; And Rahero was there by the way and covered an oven to cook.[3] Naked he was to the loins, but the tattoo covered the lack, And the sun and the shadow of palms dappled his muscular back. Swiftly he lifted his head at the fall of the coming feet, And the water sprang in his mouth with a sudden desire of meat: For he marked the basket carried, covered from flies and the sun;[4] And Rahero buried his fire, but the meat in his house was done.

Forth he stepped; and took, and delayed the boy, by the hand; And vaunted the joys of meat and the ancient ways of the land: —"Our sires of old in Taiarapu, they that created the race, Ate ever with eager hand, nor regarded season or place, Ate in the boat at the oar, on the way afoot; and at night Arose in the midst of dreams to rummage the house for a bite. It is good for the youth in his turn to follow the way of the sire; And behold how fitting the time! for here do I cover my fire." —"I see the fire for the cooking, but never the meat to cook," Said Tamatea.—"Tut!" said Rahero. "Here in the brook, And there in the tumbling sea, the fishes are thick as flies, Hungry like healthy men, and like pigs for savour and size: Crayfish crowding the river, sea-fish thronging the sea." —"Well, it may be," says the other, "and yet be nothing to me. Fain would I eat, but alas! I have needful matter in hand, Since I carry my tribute of fish to the jealous king of the land."

Now at the word a light sprang in Rahero's eyes. "I will gain me a dinner," thought he, "and lend the king a surprise." And he took the lad by the arm, as they stood by the side of the track, And smiled, and rallied, and flattered, and pushed him forward and back. It was "You that sing like a bird, I never have heard you sing," And "The lads when I was a lad were none so feared of a king. And of what account is an hour, when the heart is empty of guile? But come, and sit in the house and laugh with the women awhile; And I will but drop my hook, and behold! the dinner made."

So Tamatea the pliable hung up his fish in the shade On a tree by the side of the way; and Rahero carried him in, Smiling as smiles the fowler when flutters the bird to the gin, And chose him a shining hook,[5] and viewed it with sedulous eye, And breathed and burnished it well on the brawn of his naked thigh, And set a mat for the gull, and bade him be merry and bide, Like a man concerned for his guest, and the fishing, and nothing beside.

Now when Rahero was forth, he paused and hearkened, and heard The gull jest in the house and the women laugh at his word; And stealthily crossed to the side of the way, to the shady place Where the basket hung on a mango; and craft transfigured his face. Deftly he opened the basket, and took of the fat of the fish, The cut of kings and chieftains, enough for a goodly dish. This he wrapped in a leaf, set on the fire to cook, And buried; and next the marred remains of the tribute he took, And doubled and packed them well, and covered the basket close. —"There is a buffet, my king," quoth he, "and a nauseous dose!"— And hung the basket again in the shade, in a cloud of flies; —"And there is a sauce to your dinner, king of the crafty eyes!"

Soon as the oven was open, the fish smelt excellent good. In the shade, by the house of Rahero, down they sat to their food, And cleared the leaves,[6] in silence, or uttered a jest and laughed And raising the cocoa-nut bowls, buried their faces and quaffed. But chiefly in silence they ate; and soon as the meal was done, Rahero feigned to remember and measured the hour by the sun And "Tamatea," quoth he, "it is time to be jogging, my lad."

So Tamatea arose, doing ever the thing he was bade, And carelessly shouldered the basket, and kindly saluted his host; And again the way of his going was round by the roaring coast. Long he went; and at length was aware of a pleasant green, And the stems and shadows of palms, and roofs of lodges between. There sate, in the door of his palace, the king on a kingly seat, And aitos stood armed around, and the yottowas[7] sat at his feet. But fear was a worm in his heart: fear darted his eyes; And he probed men's faces for treasons and pondered their speech for lies. To him came Tamatea, the basket slung in his hand, And paid him the due obeisance standing as vassals stand. In silence hearkened the king, and closed the eyes in his face, Harbouring odious thoughts and the baseless fears of the base; In silence accepted the gift and sent the giver away. So Tamatea departed, turning his back on the day.

And lo! as the king sat brooding, a rumour rose in the crowd; The yottowas nudged and whispered, the commons murmured aloud; Tittering fell upon all at sight of the impudent thing, At the sight of a gift unroyal flung in the face of a king. And the face of the king turned white and red with anger and shame In their midst; and the heart in his body was water and then was flame; Till of a sudden, turning, he gripped an aito hard, A youth that stood with his omare,[8] one of the daily guard, And spat in his ear a command, and pointed and uttered a name, And hid in the shade of the house his impotent anger and shame.

Now Tamatea the fool was far on his homeward way, The rising night in his face, behind him the dying day. Rahero saw him go by, and the heart of Rahero was glad, Devising shame to the king and nowise harm to the lad; And all that dwelt by the way saw and saluted him well, For he had the face of a friend and the news of the town to tell; And pleased with the notice of folk, and pleased that his journey was done, Tamatea drew homeward, turning his back to the sun.

And now was the hour of the bath in Taiarapu: far and near The lovely laughter of bathers rose and delighted his ear. Night massed in the valleys; the sun on the mountain coast Struck, end-long; and above the clouds embattled their host, And glowed and gloomed on the heights; and the heads of the palms were gems, And far to the rising eve extended the shade of their stems; And the shadow of Tamatea hovered already at home.

And sudden the sound of one coming and running light as the foam Struck on his ear; and he turned, and lo! a man on his track, Girded and armed with an omare, following hard at his back. At a bound the man was upon him;—and, or ever a word was said, The loaded end of the omare fell and laid him dead.

II

THE VENGING OF TAMATEA

Thus was Rahero's treason; thus and no further it sped. The king sat safe in his place and a kindly fool was dead.

But the mother of Tamatea arose with death in her eyes. All night long, and the next, Taiarapu rang with her cries. As when a babe in the wood turns with a chill of doubt And perceives nor home, nor friends, for the trees have closed her about, The mountain rings and her breast is torn with the voice of despair: So the lion-like woman idly wearied the air For a while, and pierced men's hearing in vain, and wounded their hearts. But as when the weather changes at sea, in dangerous parts, And sudden the hurricane wrack unrolls up the front of the sky, At once the ship lies idle, the sails hang silent on high, The breath of the wind that blew is blown out like the flame of a lamp, And the silent armies of death draw near with inaudible tramp: So sudden, the voice of her weeping ceased; in silence she rose And passed from the house of her sorrow, a woman clothed with repose, Carrying death in her breast and sharpening death in her hand.

Hither she went and thither in all the coasts of the land. They tell that she feared not to slumber alone, in the dead of night, In accursed places; beheld, unblenched, the ribbon of light[9] Spin from temple to temple; guided the perilous skiff, Abhorred not the paths of the mountain and trod the verge of the cliff; From end to end of the island, thought not the distance long, But forth from king to king carried the tale of her wrong. To king after king, as they sat in the palace door, she came, Claiming kinship, declaiming verses, naming her name And the names of all of her fathers; and still, with a heart on the rack, Jested to capture a hearing and laughed when they jested back; So would deceive them a while, and change and return in a breath, And on all the men of Vaiau imprecate instant death; And tempt her kings—for Vaiau was a rich and prosperous land, And flatter—for who would attempt it but warriors mighty of hand? And change in a breath again and rise in a strain of song, Invoking the beaten drums, beholding the fall of the strong, Calling the fowls of the air to come and feast on the dead. And they held the chin in silence, and heard her, and shook the head; For they knew the men of Taiarapu famous in battle and feast, Marvellous eaters and smiters: the men of Vaiau not least. To the land of the Namunu-ura, to Paea,[10] at length she came, To men who were foes to the Tevas and hated their race and name. There was she well received, and spoke with Hiopa the king.[11] And Hiopa listened, and weighed, and wisely considered the thing. "Here in the back of the isle we dwell in a sheltered place," Quoth he to the woman, "in quiet, a weak and peaceable race. But far in the teeth of the wind lofty Taiarapu lies; Strong blows the wind of the trade on its seaward face, and cries Aloud in the top of arduous mountains, and utters its song In green continuous forests. Strong is the wind, and strong And fruitful and hardy the race, famous in battle and feast, Marvellous eaters and smiters: the men of Vaiau not least. Now hearken to me, my daughter, and hear a word of the wise: How a strength goes linked with a weakness, two by two, like the eyes. They can wield the omare well and cast the javelin far; Yet are they greedy and weak as the swine and the children are. Plant we, then, here at Paea a garden of excellent fruits; Plant we bananas and kava and taro, the king of roots; Let the pigs in Paea be tapu[12] and no man fish for a year; And of all the meat in Tahiti gather we threefold here. So shall the fame of our plenty fill the island and so, At last, on the tongue of rumour, go where we wish it to go. Then shall the pigs of Taiarapu raise their snouts in the air; But we sit quiet and wait, as the fowler sits by the snare, And tranquilly fold our hands, till the pigs come nosing the food: But meanwhile build us a house of Trotea, the stubborn wood, Bind it with incombustible thongs, set a roof to the room, Too strong for the hands of a man to dissever or fire to consume; And there, when the pigs come trotting, there shall the feast be spread, There shall the eye of the morn enlighten the feasters dead. So be it done; for I have a heart that pities your state, And Nateva and Namunu-ura are fire and water for hate."

All was done as he said, and the gardens prospered; and now The fame of their plenty went out, and word of it came to Vaiau. For the men of Namunu-ura sailed, to the windward far, Lay in the offing by south where the towns of the Tevas are, And cast overboard of their plenty; and lo! at the Tevas' feet The surf on all the beaches tumbled treasures of meat. In the salt of the sea, a harvest tossed with the refluent foam; And the children gleaned it in playing, and ate and carried it home; And the elders stared and debated, and wondered and passed the jest, But whenever a guest came by eagerly questioned the guest; And little by little, from one to another, the word went round: "In all the borders of Paea the victual rots on the ground, And swine are plenty as rats. And now, when they fare to the sea, The men of the Namunu-ura glean from under the tree And load the canoe to the gunwale with all that is toothsome to eat; And all day long on the sea the jaws are crushing the meat, The steersman eats at the helm, the rowers munch at the oar, And at length, when their bellies are full, overboard with the store!" Now was the word made true, and soon as the bait was bare, All the pigs of Taiarapu raised their snouts in the air. Songs were recited, and kinship was counted, and tales were told How war had severed of late but peace had cemented of old The clans of the island. "To war," said they, "now set we an end, And hie to the Namunu-ura even as a friend to a friend."

So judged, and a day was named; and soon as the morning broke, Canoes were thrust in the sea, and the houses emptied of folk. Strong blew the wind of the south, the wind that gathers the clan; Along all the line of the reef the clamorous surges ran; And the clouds were piled on the top of the island mountain-high, A mountain throned on a mountain. The fleet of canoes swept by In the midst, on the green lagoon, with a crew released from care, Sailing an even water, breathing a summer air, Cheered by a cloudless sun; and ever to left and right, Bursting surge on the reef, drenching storms on the height. So the folk of Vaiau sailed and were glad all day, Coasting the palm-tree cape and crossing the populous bay By all the towns of the Tevas; and still as they bowled along, Boat would answer to boat with jest and laughter and song, And the people of all the towns trooped to the sides of the sea, And gazed from under the hand or sprang aloft on the tree Hailing and cheering. Time failed them for more to do; The holiday village careened to the wind, and was gone from view Swift as a passing bird; and ever as onward it bore, Like the cry of the passing bird, bequeathed its song to the shore— Desirable laughter of maids and the cry of delight of the child. And the gazer, left behind, stared at the wake and smiled. By all the towns of the Tevas they went, and Papara last, The home of the chief, the place of muster in war; and passed The march of the lands of the clan, to the lands of an alien folk. And there, from the dusk of the shoreside palms, a column of smoke Mounted and wavered and died in the gold of the setting sun, "Paea!" they cried. "It is Paea." And so was the voyage done.

In the early fall of the night Hiopa came to the shore, And beheld and counted the comers, and lo, they were forty score; The pelting feet of the babes that ran already and played, The clean-lipped smile of the boy, the slender breasts of the maid, And mighty limbs of women, stalwart mothers of men. The sires stood forth unabashed; but a little back from his ken Clustered the scarcely nubile, the lads and maids, in a ring, Fain of each other, afraid of themselves, aware of the king And aping behaviour, but clinging together with hands and eyes, With looks that were kind like kisses, and laughter tender as sighs. There, too, the grandsire stood, raising his silver crest, And the impotent hands of a suckling groped in his barren breast. The childhood of love, the pair well married, the innocent brood, The tale of the generations repeated and ever renewed— Hiopa beheld them together, all the ages of man, And a moment shook in his purpose.

But these were the foes of his clan, And he trod upon pity, and came, and civilly greeted the king, And gravely entreated Rahero; and for all that could fight or sing, And claimed a name in the land, had fitting phrases of praise: But with all who were well-descended he spoke of the ancient days. And "'Tis true," said he, "that in Paea the victual rots on the ground; But, friends, your number is many; and pigs must be hunted and found, And the lads must troop to the mountains to bring the feis down, And around the bowls of the kava cluster the maids of the town. So, for to-night, sleep here; but king, common, and priest To-morrow, in order due, shall sit with me in the feast." Sleepless the live-long night, Hiopa's followers toiled. The pigs screamed and were slaughtered; the spars of the guest-house oiled, The leaves spread on the floor. In many a mountain glen The moon drew shadows of trees on the naked bodies of men Plucking and bearing fruits; and in all the bounds of the town Red glowed the cocoa-nut fires, and were buried and trodden down. Thus did seven of the yottowas toil with their tale of the clan, But the eighth wrought with his lads, hid from the sight of man. In the deeps of the woods they laboured, piling the fuel high In fagots, the load of a man, fuel seasoned and dry, Thirsty to seize upon fire and apt to blurt into flame.

And now was the day of the feast. The forests, as morning came, Tossed in the wind, and the peaks quaked in the blaze of the day— And the cocoa-nuts showered on the ground, rebounding and rolling away: A glorious morn for a feast, a famous wind for a fire. To the hall of feasting Hiopa led them, mother and sire And maid and babe in a tale, the whole of the holiday throng. Smiling they came, garlanded green, not dreaming of wrong; And for every three, a pig, tenderly cooked in the ground, Waited; and fei, the staff of life, heaped in a mound For each where he sat;—for each, bananas roasted and raw Piled with a bountiful hand, as for horses hay and straw Are stacked in a stable; and fish, the food of desire,[13] And plentiful vessels of sauce, and bread-fruit gilt in the fire;— And kava was common as water. Feasts have there been ere now, And many, but never a feast like that of the folk of Vaiau. All day long they ate with the resolute greed of brutes, And turned from the pigs to the fish, and again from the fish to the fruits, And emptied the vessels of sauce, and drank of the kava deep; Till the young lay stupid as stones, and the strongest nodded to sleep. Sleep that was mighty as death and blind as a moonless night Tethered them hand and foot; and their souls were drowned, and the light Was cloaked from their eyes. Senseless together, the old and the young, The fighter deadly to smite and the prater cunning of tongue, The woman wedded and fruitful, inured to the pangs of birth, And the maid that knew not of kisses, blindly sprawled on the earth. From the hall Hiopa the king and his chiefs came stealthily forth.

Already the sun hung low and enlightened the peaks of the north; But the wind was stubborn to die and blew as it blows at morn, Showering the nuts in the dusk, and e'en as a banner is torn, High on the peaks of the island, shattered the mountain cloud. And now at once, at a signal, a silent, emulous crowd Set hands to the work of death, hurrying to and fro, Like ants, to furnish the fagots, building them broad and low, And piling them high and higher around the walls of the hall. Silence persisted within, for sleep lay heavy on all But the mother of Tamatea stood at Hiopa's side, And shook for terror and joy like a girl that is a bride, Night fell on the toilers, and first Hiopa the wise Made the round of the hose, visiting all with his eyes; And all was piled to the eaves, and fuel blockaded the door; And within, in the house beleaguered, slumbered the forty score.

Then was an aito despatched and came with fire in his hand, And Hiopa took it.—"Within," said he, "is the life of a land; And behold! I breathe on the coal, I breathe on the dales of the east, And silence falls on forest and shore; the voice of the feast Is quenched, and the smoke of cooking; the roof-tree decays and falls On the empty lodge, and the winds subvert deserted walls."

Therewithal, to the fuel, he laid the glowing coal; And the redness ran in the mass and burrowed within like a mole, And copious smoke was conceived. But, as when a dam is to burst, The water lips it and crosses in silver trickles at first, And then, of a sudden, whelms and bears it away forthright; So now, in a moment, the flame sprang and towered in the night, And wrestled and roared in the wind, and high over house and tree, Stood, like a streaming torch, enlightening land and sea.

But the mother of Tamatea threw her arms abroad, "Pyre of my son," she shouted, "debited vengeance of God, Late, late, I behold you, yet I behold you at last, And glory, beholding! For now are the days of my agony past, The lust that famished my soul now eats and drinks its desire, And they that encompassed my son shrivel alive in the fire. Tenfold precious the vengeance that comes after lingering years! Ye quenched the voice of my singer?—hark, in your dying ears, The song of the conflagration! Ye left me a widow alone? —Behold, the whole of your race consumes, sinew and bone And torturing flesh together: man, mother, and maid Heaped in a common shambles; and already, borne by the trade, The smoke of your dissolution darkens the stars of night."

Thus she spoke, and her stature grew in the people's sight.

III

RAHERO

Rahero was there in the hall asleep: beside him his wife, Comely, a mirthful woman, one that delighted in life; And a girl that was ripe for marriage, shy and sly as a mouse; And a boy, a climber of trees: all the hopes of his house. Unwary, with open hands, he slept in the midst of his folk, And dreamed that he heard a voice crying without, and awoke, Leaping blindly afoot like one from a dream that he fears. A hellish glow and clouds were about him;—it roared in his ears Like the sound of the cataract fall that plunges sudden and steep; And Rahero swayed as he stood, and his reason was still asleep. Now the flame struck hard on the house, wind-wielded, a fracturing blow, And the end of the roof was burst and fell on the sleepers below; And the lofty hall, and the feast, and the prostrate bodies of folk, Shone red in his eyes a moment, and then were swallowed of smoke. In the mind of Rahero clearness came; and he opened his throat; And as when a squall comes sudden, the straining sail of a boat Thunders aloud and bursts, so thundered the voice of the man. —"The wind and the rain!" he shouted, the mustering word of the clan,[14] And "Up!" and "To arms, men of Vaiau!" But silence replied, Or only the voice of the gusts of the fire, and nothing beside.

Rahero stooped and groped. He handled his womankind, But the fumes of the fire and the kava had quenched the life of their mind, And they lay like pillars prone; and his hand encountered the boy, And there sprang in the gloom of his soul a sudden lightning of joy. "Him can I save!" he thought, "if I were speedy enough." And he loosened the cloth from his loins, and swaddled the child in the stuff: And about the strength of his neck he knotted the burden well.

There where the roof had fallen, it roared like the mouth of hell. Thither Rahero went, stumbling on senseless folk, And grappled a post of the house, and began to climb in the smoke: The last alive of Vaiau; and the son borne by the sire. The post glowed in the grain with ulcers of eating fire, And the fire bit to the blood and mangled his hands and thighs; And the fumes sang in his head like wine and stung in his eyes; And still he climbed, and came to the top, the place of proof, And thrust a hand through the flame, and clambered alive on the roof. But even as he did so, the wind, in a garment of flames and pain, Wrapped him from head to heel; and the waistcloth parted in twain; And the living fruit of his loins dropped in the fire below.

About the blazing feast-house clustered the eyes of the foe, Watching, hand upon weapon, lest ever a soul should flee, Shading the brow from the glare, straining the neck to see. Only, to leeward, the flames in the wind swept far and wide, And the forest sputtered on fire; and there might no man abide. Thither Rahero crept, and dropped from the burning eaves, And crouching low to the ground, in a treble covert of leaves And fire and volleying smoke, ran for the life of his soul Unseen; and behind him under a furnace of ardent coal, Cairned with a wonder of flame, and blotting the night with smoke, Blazed and were smelted together the bones of all his folk.

He fled unguided at first; but hearing the breakers roar, Thitherward shaped his way, and came at length to the shore. Sound-limbed he was: dry-eyed; but smarted in every part; And the mighty cage of his ribs heaved on his straining heart With sorrow and rage. And "Fools!" he cried, "fools of Vaiau, Heads of swine—gluttons—Alas! and where are they now? Those that I played with, those that nursed me, those that I nursed? God, and I outliving them! I, the least and the worst— I, that thought myself crafty, snared by this herd of swine, In the tortures of hell and desolate, stripped of all that was mine: All!—my friends and my fathers—the silver heads of yore That trooped to the council, the children that ran to the open door Crying with innocent voices and clasping a father's knees! And mine, my wife—my daughter—my sturdy climber of trees, Ah, never to climb again!"

Thus in the dusk of the night (For clouds rolled in the sky and the moon was swallowed from sight), Pacing and gnawing his fists, Rahero raged by the shore. Vengeance: that must be his. But much was to do before; And first a single life to be snatched from a deadly place, A life, the root of revenge, surviving plant of the race: And next the race to be raised anew, and the lands of the clan Repeopled. So Rahero designed, a prudent man Even in wrath, and turned for the means of revenge and escape: A boat to be seized by stealth, a wife to be taken by rape.

Still was the dark lagoon; beyond on the coral wall, He saw the breakers shine, he heard them bellow and fall. Alone, on the top of the reef, a man with a flaming brand Walked, gazing and pausing, a fish-spear poised in his hand. The foam boiled to his calf when the mightier breakers came, And the torch shed in the wind scattering tufts of flame Afar on the dark lagoon a canoe lay idly at wait: A figure dimly guiding it: surely the fisherman's mate. Rahero saw and he smiled. He straightened his mighty thews: Naked, with never a weapon, and covered with scorch and bruise, He straightened his arms, he filled the void of his body with breath, And, strong as the wind in his manhood, doomed the fisher to death.

Silent he entered the water, and silently swam, and came There where the fisher walked, holding on high the flame. Loud on the pier of the reef volleyed the breach of the sea; And hard at the back of the man, Rahero crept to his knee On the coral, and suddenly sprang and seized him, the elder hand Clutching the joint of his throat, the other snatching the brand Ere it had time to fall, and holding it steady and high. Strong was the fisher, brave, and swift of mind and of eye— Strongly he threw in the clutch; but Rahero resisted the strain, And jerked, and the spine of life snapped with a crack in twain, And the man came slack in his hands and tumbled a lump at his feet.

One moment: and there, on the reef, where the breakers whitened and beat, Rahero was standing alone, glowing, and scorched and bare, A victor unknown of any, raising the torch in the air. But once he drank of his breath, and instantly set him to fish Like a man intent upon supper at home and a savoury dish. For what should the woman have seen? A man with a torch—and then A moment's blur of the eyes—and a man with a torch again. And the torch had scarcely been shaken. "Ah, surely," Rahero said, "She will deem it a trick of the eyes, a fancy born in the head; But time must be given the fool to nourish a fool's belief." So for a while, a sedulous fisher, he walked the reef, Pausing at times and gazing, striking at times with the spear: —Lastly, uttered the call; and even as the boat drew near, Like a man that was done with its use, tossed the torch in the sea.

Lightly he leaped on the boat beside the woman; and she Lightly addressed him, and yielded the paddle and place to sit; For now the torch was extinguished the night was black as the pit. Rahero set him to row, never a word he spoke, And the boat sang in the water urged by his vigorous stroke. —"What ails you?" the woman asked, "and why did you drop the brand? We have only to kindle another as soon as we come to land." Never a word Rahero replied, but urged the canoe. And a chill fell on the woman.—"Atta! speak! is it you? Speak! Why are you silent? Why do you bend aside? Wherefore steer to the seaward?" thus she panted and cried. Never a word from the oarsman, toiling there in the dark; But right for a gate of the reef he silently headed the bark, And wielding the single paddle with passionate sweep on sweep, Drove her, the little fitted, forth on the open deep. And fear, there where she sat, froze the woman to stone: Not fear of the crazy boat and the weltering deep alone; But a keener fear of the night, the dark, and the ghostly hour, And the thing that drove the canoe with more than a mortal's power And more than a mortal's boldness. For much she knew of the dead That haunt and fish upon reefs, toiling, like men, for bread, And traffic with human fishers, or slay them and take their ware, Till the hour when the star of the dead[15] goes down, and the morning air Blows, and the cocks are singing on shore. And surely she knew The speechless thing at her side belonged to the grave.[16]

It blew All night from the south; all night, Rahero contended and kept The prow to the cresting sea; and, silent as though she slept, The woman huddled and quaked. And now was the peep of day. High and long on their left the mountainous island lay; And over the peaks of Taiarapu arrows of sunlight struck. On shore the birds were beginning to sing: the ghostly ruck Of the buried had long ago returned to the covered grave; And here on the sea, the woman, waxing suddenly brave, Turned her swiftly about and looked in the face of the man. And sure he was none that she knew, none of her country or clan: A stranger, mother-naked, and marred with the marks of fire, But comely and great of stature, a man to obey and admire.

And Rahero regarded her also, fixed, with a frowning face, Judging the woman's fitness to mother a warlike race. Broad of shoulder, ample of girdle, long in the thigh, Deep of bosom she was, and bravely supported his eye.

"Woman," said he, "last night the men of your folk— Man, woman, and maid, smothered my race in smoke. It was done like cowards; and I, a mighty man of my hands, Escaped, a single life; and now to the empty lands And smokeless hearths of my people, sail, with yourself, alone. Before your mother was born, the die of to-day was thrown And you selected:—your husband, vainly striving, to fall Broken between these hands:—yourself to be severed from all, The places, the people, you love—home, kindred, and clan— And to dwell in a desert and bear the babes of a kinless man."



THE FEAST OF FAMINE

MARQUESAN MANNERS

I

THE PRIEST'S VIGIL

In all the land of the tribe was neither fish nor fruit, And the deepest pit of popoi stood empty to the foot.[1] The clans upon the left and the clans upon the right Now oiled their carven maces and scoured their daggers bright; They gat them to the thicket, to the deepest of the shade, And lay with sleepless eyes in the deadly ambuscade. And oft in the starry even the song of morning rose, What time the oven smoked in the country of their foes; For oft to loving hearts, and waiting ears and sight, The lads that went to forage returned not with the night. Now first the children sickened, and then the women paled, And the great arms of the warrior no more for war availed. Hushed was the deep drum, discarded was the dance; And those that met the priest now glanced at him askance. The priest was a man of years, his eyes were ruby-red,[2] He neither feared the dark nor the terrors of the dead, He knew the songs of races, the names of ancient date; And the beard upon his bosom would have bought the chief's estate. He dwelt in a high-built lodge, hard by the roaring shore, Raised on a noble terrace and with tikis[3] at the door. Within it was full of riches, for he served his nation well, And full of the sound of breakers, like the hollow of a shell. For weeks he let them perish, gave never a helping sign, But sat on his oiled platform to commune with the divine, But sat on his high terrace, with the tikis by his side, And stared on the blue ocean, like a parrot, ruby-eyed.

Dawn as yellow as sulphur leaped on the mountain height: Out on the round of the sea the gems of the morning light, Up from the round of the sea the streamers of the sun;— But down in the depths of the valley the day was not begun. In the blue of the woody twilight burned red the cocoa-husk, And the women and men of the clan went forth to bathe in the dusk, A word that began to go round, a word, a whisper, a start: Hope that leaped in the bosom, fear that knocked on the heart: "See, the priest is not risen—look, for his door is fast! He is going to name the victims; he is going to help us at last."

Thrice rose the sun to noon; and ever, like one of the dead, The priest lay still in his house, with the roar of the sea in his head; There was never a foot on the floor, there was never a whisper of speech; Only the leering tikis stared on the blinding beach. Again were the mountains fired, again the morning broke; And all the houses lay still, but the house of the priest awoke. Close in their covering roofs lay and trembled the clan, But the aged, red-eyed priest ran forth like a lunatic man; And the village panted to see him in the jewels of death again, In the silver beards of the old and the hair of women slain. Frenzy shook in his limbs, frenzy shone in his eyes, And still and again as he ran, the valley rang with his cries. All day long in the land, by cliff and thicket and den, He ran his lunatic rounds, and howled for the flesh of men; All day long he ate not, nor ever drank of the brook; And all day long in their houses the people listened and shook— All day long in their houses they listened with bated breath, And never a soul went forth, for the sight of the priest was death.

Three were the days of his running, as the gods appointed of yore, Two the nights of his sleeping alone in the place of gore: The drunken slumber of frenzy twice he drank to the lees, On the sacred stones of the High-place under the sacred trees; With a lamp at his ashen head he lay in the place of the feast, And the sacred leaves of the banyan rustled around the priest. Last, when the stated even fell upon terrace and tree, And the shade of the lofty island lay leagues away to sea, And all the valleys of verdure were heavy with manna and musk, The wreck of the red-eyed priest came gasping home in the dusk. He reeled across the village, he staggered along the shore, And between the leering tikis crept groping through his door.

There went a stir through the lodges, the voice of speech awoke; Once more from the builded platforms arose the evening smoke. And those who were mighty in war, and those renowned for an art Sat in their stated seats and talked of the morrow apart.

II

THE LOVERS

Hark! away in the woods—for the ears of love are sharp— Stealthily, quietly touched, the note of the one-stringed harp.[4] In the lighted house of her father, why should Taheia start? Taheia heavy of hair, Taheia tender of heart, Taheia the well-descended, a bountiful dealer in love, Nimble of foot like the deer, and kind of eye like the dove? Sly and shy as a cat, with never a change of face, Taheia slips to the door, like one that would breathe a space; Saunters and pauses, and looks at the stars, and lists to the seas; Then sudden and swift as a cat, she plunges under the trees. Swift as a cat she runs, with her garment gathered high, Leaping, nimble of foot, running, certain of eye; And ever to guide her way over the smooth and the sharp, Ever nearer and nearer the note of the one-stringed harp; Till at length, in a glade of the wood, with a naked mountain above, The sound of the harp thrown down, and she in the arms of her love. "Rua,"—"Taheia," they cry—"my heart, my soul, and my eyes," And clasp and sunder and kiss, with lovely laughter and sighs, "Rua!"—"Taheia, my love,"—"Rua, star of my night, Clasp me, hold me, and love me, single spring of delight."

And Rua folded her close, he folded her near and long, The living knit to the living, and sang the lover's song:

Night, night it is, night upon the palms. Night, night it is, the land-wind has blown. Starry, starry night, over deep and height; Love, love in the valley, love all alone.

"Taheia, heavy of hair, a foolish thing have we done, To bind what gods have sundered unkindly into one. Why should a lowly lover have touched Taheia's skirt, Taheia the well-descended, and Rua child of the dirt?"

—"On high with the haka-ikis my father sits in state, Ten times fifty kinsmen salute him in the gate; Round all his martial body, and in bands across his face, The marks of the tattooer proclaim his lofty place. I too, in the hands of the cunning, in the sacred cabin of palm,[5] Have shrunk like the mimosa, and bleated like the lamb; Round half my tender body, that none shall clasp but you, For a crest and a fair adornment go dainty lines of blue. Love, love, beloved Rua, love levels all degrees, And the well-tattooed Taheia clings panting to your knees."

—"Taheia, song of the morning, how long is the longest love? A cry, a clasp of the hands, a star that falls from above! Ever at morn in the blue, and at night when all is black, Ever it skulks and trembles with the hunter, Death, on its track. Hear me, Taheia, death! For to-morrow the priest shall awake, And the names be named of the victims to bleed for the nation's sake; And first of the numbered many that shall be slain ere noon, Rua the child of the dirt, Rua the kinless loon. For him shall the drum be beat, for him be raised the song, For him to the sacred High-place the chanting people throng, For him the oven smoke as for a speechless beast, And the sire of my Taheia come greedy to the feast." "Rua, be silent, spare me. Taheia closes her ears. Pity my yearning heart, pity my girlish years! Flee from the cruel hands, flee from the knife and coal, Lie hid in the deeps of the woods, Rua, sire of my soul!"

"Whither to flee, Taheia, whither in all of the land? The fires of the bloody kitchen are kindled on every hand; On every hand in the isle a hungry whetting of teeth, Eyes in the trees above, arms in the brush beneath. Patience to lie in wait, cunning to follow the sleuth, Abroad the foes I have fought, and at home the friends of my youth."

"Love, love, beloved Rua, love has a clearer eye, Hence from the arms of love you go not forth to die. There, where the broken mountain drops sheer into the glen, There shall you find a hold from the boldest hunter of men; There, in the deep recess, where the sun falls only at noon, And only once in the night enters the light of the moon, Nor ever a sound but of birds, or the rain when it falls with a shout; For death and the fear of death beleaguer the valley about. Tapu it is, but the gods will surely pardon despair; Tapu, but what of that? If Rua can only dare. Tapu and tapu and tapu, I know they are every one right; But the god of every tapu is not always quick to smite. Lie secret there, my Rua, in the arms of awful gods, Sleep in the shade of the trees on the couch of the kindly sods, Sleep and dream of Taheia, Taheia will wake for you; And whenever the land-wind blows and the woods are heavy with dew, Alone through the horror of night,[6] with food for the soul of her love, Taheia the undissuaded will hurry true as the dove."

"Taheia, the pit of the night crawls with treacherous things, Spirits of ultimate air and the evil souls of things; The souls of the dead, the stranglers, that perch in the trees of the wood, Waiters for all things human, haters of evil and good."

"Rua, behold me, kiss me, look in my eyes and read; Are these the eyes of a maid that would leave her lover in need? Brave in the eye of day, my father ruled in the fight; The child of his loins, Taheia, will play the man in the night."

So it was spoken, and so agreed, and Taheia arose And smiled in the stars and was gone, swift as the swallow goes; And Rua stood on the hill, and sighed, and followed her flight, And there were the lodges below, each with its door alight; From folk that sat on the terrace and drew out the even long Sudden crowings of laughter, monotonous drone of song; The quiet passage of souls over his head in the trees;[7] And from all around the haven the crumbling thunder of seas. "Farewell, my home," said Rua. "Farewell, O quiet seat! To-morrow in all your valleys the drum of death shall beat."

III

THE FEAST

Dawn as yellow as sulphur leaped on the naked peak, And all the village was stirring, for now was the priest to speak. Forth on his terrace he came, and sat with the chief in talk; His lips were blackened with fever, his cheeks were whiter than chalk; Fever clutched at his hands, fever nodded his head, But, quiet and steady and cruel, his eyes shone ruby-red. In the earliest rays of the sun the chief rose up content; Braves were summoned, and drummers; messengers came and went; Braves ran to their lodges; weapons were snatched from the wall; The commons herded together, and fear was over them all. Festival dresses they wore, but the tongue was dry in their mouth, And the blinking eyes in their faces skirted from north to south.

Now to the sacred enclosure gathered the greatest and least, And from under the shade of the banyan arose the voice of the feast, The frenzied roll of the drum, and a swift monotonous song. Higher the sun swam up; the trade-wind level and strong Awoke in the tops of the palms and rattled the fans aloud, And over the garlanded heads and shining robes of the crowd Tossed the spiders of shadow, scattered the jewels of sun. Forty the tale of the drums, and the forty throbbed like one; A thousand hearts in the crowd, and the even chorus of song, Swift as the feet of a runner, trampled a thousand strong. And the old men leered at the ovens and licked their lips for the food; And the women stared at the lads, and laughed and looked to the wood. As when the sweltering baker, at night, when the city is dead, Alone in the trough of labour treads and fashions the bread; So in the heat, and the reek, and the touch of woman and man, The naked spirit of evil kneaded the hearts of the clan.

Now cold was at many a heart, and shaking in many a seat; For there were the empty baskets, but who was to furnish the meat? For here was the nation assembled, and there were the ovens anigh, And out of a thousand singers nine were numbered to die. Till, of a sudden, a shock, a mace in the air, a yell, And, struck in the edge of the crowd, the first of the victims fell.[8] Terror and horrible glee divided the shrinking clan, Terror of what was to follow, glee for a diet of man. Frenzy hurried the chant, frenzy rattled the drums; The nobles, high on the terrace, greedily mouthed their thumbs; And once and again and again, in the ignorant crowd below, Once and again and again descended the murderous blow. Now smoked the oven, and now, with the cutting lip of a shell, A butcher of ninety winters jointed the bodies well. Unto the carven lodge, silent, in order due, The grandees of the nation one after one withdrew; And a line of laden bearers brought to the terrace foot, On poles across their shoulders, the last reserve of fruit. The victims bled for the nobles in the old appointed way; The fruit was spread for the commons, for all should eat to-day. And now was the kava brewed, and now the cocoa ran, Now was the hour of the dance for child and woman and man; And mirth was in every heart and a garland on every head, And all was well with the living and well with the eight who were dead. Only the chiefs and the priest talked and consulted a while: "To-morrow," they said, and "To-morrow," and nodded and seemed to smile: "Rua the child of dirt, the creature of common clay, Rua must die to-morrow, since Rua is gone to-day." Out of the groves of the valley, where clear the blackbirds sang, Sheer from the trees of the valley the face of the mountain sprang; Sheer and bare it rose, unscalable barricade, Beaten and blown against by the generous draught of the trade. Dawn on its fluted brow painted rainbow light, Close on its pinnacled crown trembled the stars at night. Here and there in a cleft clustered contorted trees, Or the silver beard of a stream hung and swung in the breeze, High overhead, with a cry, the torrents leaped for the main, And silently sprinkled below in thin perennial rain. Dark in the staring noon, dark was Rua's ravine, Damp and cold was the air, and the face of the cliffs was green. Here, in the rocky pit, accursed already of old, On a stone in the midst of a river, Rua sat and was cold.

"Valley of mid-day shadows, valley of silent falls," Rua sang, and his voice went hollow about the walls, "Valley of shadow and rock, a doleful prison to me, What is the life you can give to a child of the sun and the sea?" And Rua arose and came to the open mouth of the glen, Whence he beheld the woods, and the sea, and houses of men. Wide blew the riotous trade, and smelt in his nostrils good; It bowed the boats on the bay, and tore and divided the wood; It smote and sundered the groves as Moses smote with the rod, And the streamers of all the trees blew like banners abroad; And ever and on, in a lull, the trade-wind brought him along A far-off patter of drums and a far-off whisper of song.

Swift as the swallow's wings, the diligent hands on the drum Fluttered and hurried and throbbed. "Ah, woe that I hear you come," Rua cried in his grief, "a sorrowful sound to me, Mounting far and faint from the resonant shore of the sea! Woe in the song! for the grave breathes in the singers' breath, And I hear in the tramp of the drums the beat of the heart of death. Home of my youth! no more through all the length of the years, No more to the place of the echoes of early laughter and tears, No more shall Rua return; no more as the evening ends, To crowded eyes of welcome, to the reaching hands of friends."

All day long from the High-place the drums and the singing came, And the even fell, and the sun went down, a wheel of flame; And night came gleaning the shadows and hushing the sounds of the wood; And silence slept on all, where Rua sorrowed and stood. But still from the shore of the bay the sound of the festival rang, And still the crowd in the High-place danced and shouted and sang.

Now over all the isle terror was breathed abroad Of shadowy hands from the trees and shadowy snares in the sod; And before the nostrils of night, the shuddering hunter of men Hurried, with beard on shoulder, back to his lighted den. "Taheia, here to my side!"—"Rua, my Rua, you!" And cold from the clutch of terror, cold with the damp of the dew, Taheia, heavy of hair, leaped through the dark to his arms; Taheia leaped to his clasp, and was folded in from alarms.

"Rua, beloved, here, see what your love has brought; Coming—alas! returning—swift as the shuttle of thought; Returning, alas! for to-night, with the beaten drum and the voice, In the shine of many torches must the sleepless clan rejoice; And Taheia the well-descended, the daughter of chief and priest, Taheia must sit in her place in the crowded bench of the feast." So it was spoken; and she, girding her garment high, Fled and was swallowed of woods, swift as the sight of an eye.

Night over isle and sea rolled her curtain of stars, Then a trouble awoke in the air, the east was banded with bars; Dawn as yellow as sulphur leaped on the mountain height; Dawn, in the deepest glen, fell a wonder of light; High and clear stood the palms in the eye of the brightening east, And lo! from the sides of the sea the broken sound of the feast! As, when in days of summer, through open windows, the fly Swift as a breeze and loud as a trump goes by, But when frosts in the field have pinched the wintering mouse, Blindly noses and buzzes and hums in the firelit house: So the sound of the feast gallantly trampled at night, So it staggered and drooped, and droned in the morning light.

IV

THE RAID

It chanced that as Rua sat in the valley of silent falls He heard a calling of doves from high on the cliffy walls. Fire had fashioned of yore, and time had broken, the rocks; There were rooting crannies for trees and nesting-places for flocks; And he saw on the top of the cliffs, looking up from the pit of the shade, A flicker of wings and sunshine, and trees that swung in the trade. "The trees swing in the trade," quoth Rua, doubtful of words, "And the sun stares from the sky, but what should trouble the birds?" Up from the shade he gazed, where high the parapet shone, And he was aware of a ledge and of things that moved thereon. "What manner of things are these? Are they spirits abroad by day? Or the foes of my clan that are come, bringing death by a perilous way?"

The valley was gouged like a vessel, and round like the vessel's lip, With a cape of the side of the hill thrust forth like the bows of a ship. On the top of the face of the cape a volley of sun struck fair, And the cape overhung like a chin a gulf of sunless air. "Silence, heart! What is that?—that, which flickered and shone, Into the sun for an instant, and in an instant gone? Was it a warrior's plume, a warrior's girdle of hair? Swung in the loop of a rope, is he making a bridge of the air?" Once and again Rua saw, in the trenchant edge of the sky, The giddy conjuring done. And then, in the blink of an eye, A scream caught in with the breath, a whirling packet of limbs, A lump that dived in the gulf, more swift than a dolphin swims; And there was a lump at his feet, and eyes were alive in the lump. Sick was the soul of Rua, ambushed close in a clump; Sick of soul he drew near, making his courage stout; And he looked in the face of the thing, and the life of the thing went out. And he gazed on the tattooed limbs, and, behold, he knew the man: Hoka, a chief of the Vais, the truculent foe of his clan: Hoka a moment since that stepped in the loop of the rope, Filled with the lust of war, and alive with courage and hope.

Again to the giddy cornice Rua lifted his eyes, And again beheld men passing in the armpit of the skies. "Foes of my race!" cried Rua, "the mouth of Rua is true: Never a shark in the deep is nobler of soul than you. There was never a nobler foray, never a bolder plan; Never a dizzier path was trod by the children of man; And Rua, your evil-doer through all the days of his years, Counts it honour to hate you, honour to fall by your spears." And Rua straightened his back. "O Vais, a scheme for a scheme!" Cried Rua and turned and descended the turbulent stair of the stream, Leaping from rock to rock as the water-wagtail at home Flits through resonant valleys and skims by boulder and foam. And Rua burst from the glen and leaped on the shore of the brook, And straight for the roofs of the clan his vigorous way he took. Swift were the heels of his flight, and loud behind as he went Rattled the leaping stones on the line of his long descent. And ever he thought as he ran, and caught at his gasping breath, "O the fool of a Rua, Rua that runs to his death! But the right is the right," thought Rua, and ran like the wind on the foam, "The right is the right for ever, and home for ever home. For what though the oven smoke? And what though I die ere morn? There was I nourished and tended, and there was Taheia born."

Noon was high on the High-place, the second noon of the feast; And heat and shameful slumber weighed on people and priest; And the heart drudged slow in bodies heavy with monstrous meals; And the senseless limbs were scattered abroad like spokes of wheels; And crapulous women sat and stared at the stones anigh With a bestial droop of the lip and a swinish rheum in the eye. As about the dome of the bees in the time for the drones to fall, The dead and the maimed are scattered, and lie, and stagger, and crawl; So on the grades of the terrace, in the ardent eye of the day, The half-awake and the sleepers clustered and crawled and lay; And loud as the dome of the bees, in the time of a swarming horde, A horror of many insects hung in the air and roared. Rua looked and wondered; he said to himself in his heart: "Poor are the pleasures of life, and death is the better part." But lo! on the higher benches a cluster of tranquil folk Sat by themselves, nor raised their serious eyes, nor spoke: Women with robes unruffled and garlands duly arranged, Gazing far from the feast with faces of people estranged; And quiet amongst the quiet, and fairer than all the fair, Taheia, the well-descended, Taheia, heavy of hair. And the soul of Rua awoke, courage enlightened his eyes And he uttered a summoning shout and called on the clan to rise. Over against him at once, in the spotted shade of the trees, Owlish and blinking creatures scrambled to hands and knees; On the grades of the sacred terrace, the driveller woke to fear, And the hand of the ham-drooped warrior brandished a wavering spear. And Rua folded his arms, and scorn discovered his teeth; Above the war-crowd gibbered, and Rua stood smiling beneath. Thick, like leaves in the autumn, faint, like April sleet, Missiles from tremulous hands quivered around his feet; And Taheia leaped from her place; and the priest, the ruby-eyed, Ran to the front of the terrace, and brandished his arms and cried: "Hold, O fools, he brings tidings!" and "Hold, 'tis the love of my heart!" Till lo! in front of the terrace, Rua pierced with a dart.

Taheia cherished his head, and the aged priest stood by, And gazed with eyes of ruby at Rua's darkening eye. "Taheia, here is the end, I die a death for a man. I have given the life of my soul to save an unsavable clan. See them, the drooping of hams! behold me the blinking crew; Fifty spears they cast, and one of fifty true! And you, O priest, the foreteller, foretell for yourself if you can, Foretell the hour of the day when the Vais shall burst on your clan! By the head of the tapu cleft, with death and fire in their hand, Thick and silent like ants, the warriors swarm in the land."

And they tell that when next the sun had climbed to the noonday skies, It shone on the smoke of feasting in the country of the Vais.



TICONDEROGA

A LEGEND OF THE WEST HIGHLANDS

TICONDEROGA

This is the tale of the man Who heard a word in the night In the land of the heathery hills, In the days of the feud and the fight. By the sides of the rainy sea, Where never a stranger came, On the awful lips of the dead, He heard the outlandish name. It sang in his sleeping ears, It hummed in his waking head: The name—Ticonderoga, The utterance of the dead.

I

THE SAYING OF THE NAME

On the loch-sides of Appin, When the mist blew from the sea, A Stewart stood with a Cameron: An angry man was he. The blood beat in his ears, The blood ran hot to his head, The mist blew from the sea, And there was the Cameron dead. "O, what have I done to my friend, O, what have I done to mysel', That he should be cold and dead, And I in the danger of all?

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