Duncan Campbell Scott |
Sun on the mountain,
Shade in the valley,
Ripple and lightness
Leaping along the world,
Sun, like a gold sword
Plucked from the scabbard,
Striking the wheat-fields,
Splendid and lusty,
Toppling with plenty;
Shade, like a buckler
Kindly and ample,
Sweeping the wheat-fields
Darkening and tossing;
There on the world-rim
Winds break and gather
Heaping the mist
For the pyre of the sunset;
And still as a shadow,
In the dim westward,
A cloud sloop of amethyst
Moored to the world
With cables of rain.
Acres of gold wheat
Stir in the sunshine,
Rounding the hill-top,
Crested with plenty,
Filling the valley,
Brimmed with abundance,
Wind in the wheat-field
Eddying and settling,
Swaying it, sweeping it,
Lifting the rich heads,
Tossing them soothingly
Twinkle and shimmer
The lights and the shadowings,
Nimble as moonlight
Astir in the mere.
Laden with odors
Of peace and of plenty,
Soft comes the wind
From the ranks of the wheat-field,
Bearing a promise
Of harvest and sickle-time,
Dusty and dim
With the whirl of the flail,
And wagons of bread,
Sown-laden and lumbering
Through the gateways of cities.
When will the reapers
Strike in their sickles,
Bending and grasping,
Shearing and spreading;
When will the gleaners
Searching the stubble
Take the last wheat-heads
Home in their arms ?
Ask not the question! -
Moves to the answer.
Hunger and poverty
Heaped like the ocean
Welters and mutters,
Hold back the sickles!
Millions of children
Born to their mothers' womb,
Starved at the nipple, cry,--
Ours is the harvest!
Millions of women
Learned in the tragical
Secrets of poverty,
Sweated and beaten, cry,--
Hold back the sickles!
Millions of men
With a vestige of manhood,
Wild-eyed and gaunt-throated,
Shout with a leonine
Accent of anger,
Leaves us the wheat-fields!
When will the reapers
Strike in their sickles?
Ask not the question;
Moves to the answer.
Long have they sharpened
Their fiery, impetuous
Sickles of carnage,
Welded them aeons
Ago in the mountains
Of suffering and anguish;
Hearts were their hammers
Blood was their fire,
Sorrow their anvil,
(Trusty the sickle
Tempered with tears;)
Time they had plenty-
Harvests and harvests
Passed them in agony,
Only a half-filled
Ear for their lot;
Man that has taken
God for a master
Made him a law,
Mocked him and cursed him,
Set up this hunger,
Called it necessity,
Put in the blameless mouth
The poor ye have with you
But up from the impotent
Anguish of children,
Up from the labor
Of millions of mothers,
Grew by a just law
Stern and implacable,
Art born of poverty,
The making of sickles
Meet for the harvest.
And now to the wheat-fields
Come the weird reapers
Armed with their sickles,
Whipping them keenly
In the fresh-air fields,
Wild with the joy of them,
Finding them trusty,
Hilted with teen.
Swarming like ants,
The Idea for captain,
No banners, no bugles,
Only a terrible
Ground-bass of gathering
Tempest and fury,
Only a tossing
Of arms and of garments;
Sexless and featureless,
(Only the children
Different among them,
Crawling between their feet,
Borne on their shoulders;)
Rolling their shaggy heads
Wild with the unheard-of
Drug of the sunshine;
Tears that had eaten
The half of their eyelids
Dry on their cheeks;
Blood in their stiffened hair
Clouted and darkened;
Down in their cavern hearts
Hunger the tiger,
Sighs that had choked them
Burst into triumphing;
On they come, Victory!
Up to the wheat-fields,
Dreamed of in visions
Bred by the hunger,
Seen for the first time
Splendid and golden;
On they come fluctuant,
Seething and breaking,
Weltering like fire
In the pit of the earthquake,
Bursting in heaps
With the sudden intractable
Lust of the hunger:
Then when they see them-
The miles of the harvest
White in the sunshine,
Rushing and stumbling,
With the mighty and clamorous
Cry of a people
Starved from creation,
Hurl themselves onward,
Deep in the wheat-fields,
Weeping like children,
After ages and ages,
Back at the mother the earth.
Night in the valley,
Gloom on the mountain,
Wind in the wheat,
Far to the southward
The flutter of lightning,
The shudder of thunder;
But high at the zenith,
A cluster of stars
Glimmers and throbs
In the gasp of the midnight,
Steady and absolute,
Ancient and sure
Anne Sexton |
Jean, death comes close to us all,
flapping its awful wings at us
and the gluey wings crawl up our nose.
Our children tremble in their teen-age cribs,
whirling off on a thumb or a motorcycle,
mine pushed into gnawing a stilbestrol cancer
I passed on like hemophilia,
or yours in the seventh grade, with her spleen
smacked in by the balance beam.
And we, mothers, crumpled, and flyspotted
with bringing them this far
can do nothing now but pray.
Let us put your three children
and my two children,
ages ranging from eleven to twenty-one,
and send them in a large air net up to God,
with many stamps, real air mail,
and huge signs attached:
DO NOT STAPLE, FOLD OR MUTILATE!
And perhaps He will notice
and pass a psalm over them
for keeping safe for a whole,
for a whole God-damned life-span.
And not even a muddled angel will
peek down at us in our foxhole.
And He will not have time
to send down an eyedropper of prayer for us,
the mothering thing of us,
as we drip into the soup
in the worry festering inside us,
lest our children
go so fast
Howard Nemerov |
He didn't want to do it with skill,
He'd had enough of skill.
If he never saw
Another villanelle, it would be too soon;
And the same went for sonnets.
If it had been
Hard work learning to rime, it would be much
Harder learning not to.
The time came
He had to ask himself, what did he want?
What did he want when he began
That idiot fiddling with the sounds of things.
He asked himself, poor moron, because he had
Nobody else to ask.
The others went right on
Talking about form, talking about myth
And the (so help us) need for a modern idiom;
The verseballs among them kept counting syllables.
So there he was, this forty-year-old teen-ager
Dreaming preposterous mergers and divisions
Of vowels like water, consonants like rock
(While everybody kept discussing values
And the need for values), for words that would
Enter the silence and be there as a light.
So much coffee and so many cigarettes
Gone down the drain, gone up in smoke,
Just for the sake of getting something right
Once in a while, something that could stand
On its own flat feet to keep out windy time
And the worm, something that might simply be,
Not as the monument in the smoky rain
Grimly endures, but that would be
Only a moment's inviolable presence,
The moment before disaster, before the storm,
In its peculiar silence, an integer
Fixed in the middle of the fall of things,
Perfected and casual as to a child's eye
Soap bubbles are, and skipping stones.
Bob Kaufman |
On yardbird corners of embryonic hopes, drowned in a heroin tear.
On yardbird corners of parkerflights to sound filled pockets in space.
On neuro-corners of striped brains & desperate electro-surgeons.
On alcohol corners of pointless discussion & historical hangovers.
On television corners of cornflakes & rockwells impotent America.
On university corners of tailored intellect & greek letter openers.
On military corners of megathon deaths & universal anesthesia.
On religious corners of theological limericks and
On radio corners of century-long records & static events.
On advertising corners of filter-tipped ice-cream & instant instants
On teen-age corners of comic book seduction and corrupted guitars,
On political corners of wamted candidates & ritual lies.
On motion picture corners of lassie & other symbols.
On intellectual corners of conversational therapy & analyzed fear.
On newspaper corners of sexy headlines & scholarly comics.
On love divided corners of die now pay later mortuaries.
On philosophical corners of semantic desperadoes & idea-mongers.
On middle class corners of private school puberty & anatomical revolts
On ultra-real corners of love on abandoned roller-coasters
On lonely poet corners of low lying leaves & moist prophet eyes.
Geoffrey Chaucer |
Here begins the song according to the order of the
letters of the alphabet
ALMIGHTY and all-merciable* Queen, *all-merciful
To whom all this world fleeth for succour,
To have release of sin, of sorrow, of teen!* *affliction
Glorious Virgin! of all flowers flow'r,
To thee I flee, confounded in errour!
Help and relieve, almighty debonair,* *gracious, gentle
Have mercy of my perilous languour!
Vanquish'd me hath my cruel adversair.
Bounty* so fix'd hath in thy heart his tent, *goodness, charity
That well I wot thou wilt my succour be;
Thou canst not *warne that* with good intent *refuse he who*
Asketh thy help, thy heart is ay so free!
Thou art largess* of plein** felicity, *liberal bestower **full
Haven and refuge of quiet and rest!
Lo! how that thieves seven <3> chase me!
Help, Lady bright, ere that my ship to-brest!* *be broken to pieces
Comfort is none, but in you, Lady dear!
For lo! my sin and my confusion,
Which ought not in thy presence to appear,
Have ta'en on me a grievous action,* *control
Of very right and desperation!
And, as by right, they mighte well sustene
That I were worthy my damnation,
Ne were it mercy of you, blissful Queen!
Doubt is there none, Queen of misericorde,* *compassion
That thou art cause of grace and mercy here;
God vouchesaf'd, through thee, with us t'accord;* *to be reconciled
For, certes, Christe's blissful mother dear!
Were now the bow y-bent, in such mannere
As it was first, of justice and of ire,
The rightful God would of no mercy hear;
But through thee have we grace as we desire.
Ever hath my hope of refuge in thee be';
For herebefore full oft in many a wise
Unto mercy hast thou received me.
But mercy, Lady! at the great assize,
When we shall come before the high Justice!
So little fruit shall then in me be found,
That,* thou ere that day correcte me, *unless
Of very right my work will me confound.
Flying, I flee for succour to thy tent,
Me for to hide from tempest full of dread;
Beseeching you, that ye you not absent,
Though I be wick'.
O help yet at this need!
All* have I been a beast in wit and deed, *although
Yet, Lady! thou me close in with thy grace;
*Thine enemy and mine,* -- Lady, take heed! -- *the devil*
Unto my death in point is me to chase.
Gracious Maid and Mother! which that never
Wert bitter nor in earthe nor in sea, <4>
But full of sweetness and of mercy ever,
Help, that my Father be not wroth with me!
Speak thou, for I ne dare Him not see;
So have I done in earth, alas the while!
That, certes, but if thou my succour be,
To sink etern He will my ghost exile.
He vouchesaf'd, tell Him, as was His will,
Become a man, *as for our alliance,* *to ally us with god*
And with His blood He wrote that blissful bill
Upon the cross, as general acquittance
To ev'ry penitent in full creance;* *belief
And therefore, Lady bright! thou for us pray;
Then shalt thou stenten* alle His grievance, *put an end to
And make our foe to failen of his prey.
I wote well thou wilt be our succour,
Thou art so full of bounty in certain;
For, when a soule falleth in errour,
Thy pity go'th, and haleth* him again; *draweth
Then makest thou his peace with his Sov'reign,
And bringest him out of the crooked street:
Whoso thee loveth shall not love in vain,
That shall he find *as he the life shall lete.
* *when he leaves
*Kalendares illumined* be they *brilliant exemplars*
That in this world be lighted with thy name;
And whoso goeth with thee the right way,
Him shall not dread in soule to be lame;
Now, Queen of comfort! since thou art the same
To whom I seeke for my medicine,
Let not my foe no more my wound entame;* *injure, molest
My heal into thy hand all I resign.
Lady, thy sorrow can I not portray
Under that cross, nor his grievous penance;
But, for your bothe's pain, I you do pray,
Let not our *aller foe* make his boastance, *the foe of us all --
That he hath in his listes, with mischance, Satan*
*Convicte that* ye both have bought so dear; *ensnared that which*
As I said erst, thou ground of all substance!
Continue on us thy piteous eyen clear.
Moses, that saw the bush of flames red
Burning, of which then never a stick brenn'd,* *burned
Was sign of thine unwemmed* maidenhead.
Thou art the bush, on which there gan descend
The Holy Ghost, the which that Moses wend* *weened, supposed
Had been on fire; and this was in figure.
Now, Lady! from the fire us do defend,
Which that in hell eternally shall dure.
Noble Princess! that never haddest peer;
Certes if any comfort in us be,
That cometh of thee, Christe's mother dear!
We have none other melody nor glee,* *pleasure
Us to rejoice in our adversity;
Nor advocate, that will and dare so pray
For us, and for as little hire as ye,
That helpe for an Ave-Mary or tway.
O very light of eyen that be blind!
O very lust* of labour and distress! *relief, pleasure
O treasurer of bounty to mankind!
The whom God chose to mother for humbless!
From his ancill* <6> he made thee mistress *handmaid
Of heav'n and earth, our *billes up to bede;* *offer up our petitions*
This world awaiteth ever on thy goodness;
For thou ne failedst never wight at need.
Purpose I have sometime for to enquere
Wherefore and why the Holy Ghost thee sought,
When Gabrielis voice came to thine ear;
He not to war* us such a wonder wrought, *afflict
But for to save us, that sithens us bought:
Then needeth us no weapon us to save,
But only, where we did not as we ought,
Do penitence, and mercy ask and have.
Queen of comfort, right when I me bethink
That I aguilt* have bothe Him and thee, *offended
And that my soul is worthy for to sink,
Alas! I, caitiff, whither shall I flee?
Who shall unto thy Son my meane* be? *medium of approach
Who, but thyself, that art of pity well?* *fountain
Thou hast more ruth on our adversity
Than in this world might any tongue tell!
Redress me, Mother, and eke me chastise!
For certainly my Father's chastising
I dare not abiden in no wise,
So hideous is his full reckoning.
Mother! of whom our joy began to spring,
Be ye my judge, and eke my soule's leach;* *physician
For ay in you is pity abounding
To each that will of pity you beseech.
Sooth is it that He granteth no pity
Withoute thee; for God of his goodness
Forgiveth none, *but it like unto thee;* *unless it please
He hath thee made vicar and mistress thee*
Of all this world, and eke governess
Of heaven; and represseth his justice
After* thy will; and therefore in witness *according to
He hath thee crowned in so royal wise.
Temple devout! where God chose his wonning,* *abode
From which, these misbeliev'd deprived be,
To you my soule penitent I bring;
Receive me, for I can no farther flee.
With thornes venomous, O Heaven's Queen!
For which the earth accursed was full yore,
I am so wounded, as ye may well see,
That I am lost almost, it smart so sore!
Virgin! that art so noble of apparail,* *aspect
That leadest us into the highe tow'r
Of Paradise, thou me *wiss and counsail* *direct and counsel*
How I may have thy grace and thy succour;
All have I been in filth and in errour,
Lady! *on that country thou me adjourn,* *take me to that place*
That called is thy bench of freshe flow'r,
There as that mercy ever shall sojourn.
Xpe <7> thy Son, that in this world alight,
Upon a cross to suffer his passioun,
And suffer'd eke that Longeus his heart pight,* <8> *pierced
And made his hearte-blood to run adown;
And all this was for my salvatioun:
And I to him am false and eke unkind,
And yet he wills not my damnation;
*This thank I you,* succour of all mankind! *for this I am
indebted to you*
Ysaac was figure of His death certain,
That so farforth his father would obey,
That him *ne raughte* nothing to be slain; *he cared not*
Right so thy Son list as a lamb to dey:* *die
Now, Lady full of mercy! I you pray,
Since he his mercy 'sured me so large,
Be ye not scant, for all we sing and say,
That ye be from vengeance alway our targe.
* *shield, defence
Zachary you calleth the open well <9>
That washed sinful soul out of his guilt;
Therefore this lesson out I will to tell,
That, n'ere* thy tender hearte, we were spilt.
** *were it not for
Now, Lady brighte! since thou canst and wilt, *destroyed, undone*
Be to the seed of Adam merciable;* *merciful
Bring us unto that palace that is built
To penitents that be *to mercy able!* *fit to receive mercy*
Richard Brautigan |
WITNESS FOR TROUT FISHING
IN AMERICA PEACE
In San Francisco around Easter time last year, they had a
trout fishing in America peace parade.
They had thousands
of red stickers printed and they pasted them on their small
foreign cars, and on means of national communication like
The stickers had WITNESS FOR TROUT FISHING IN AM-
ERICA PEACE printed on them.
Then this group of college- and high-school-trained Com-
munists, along with some Communist clergymen and their
Marxist-taught children, marched to San Francisco from
Sunnyvale, a Communist nerve center about forty miles away.
It took them four days to walk to San Francisco.
stopped overnight at various towns along the way, and slept
on the lawns of fellow travelers.
They carried with them Communist trout fishing in Ameri-
ca peace propaganda posters:
"DON'T DROP AN H-BOMB ON THE OLD FISHING HOLE I"
"ISAAC WALTON WOULD'VE HATED THE BOMB!"
"ROYAL COACHMAN, SI! ICBM, NO!"
They carried with them many other trout fishing in Amer-
ica peace inducements, all following the Communist world
conquest line: the Gandhian nonviolence Trojan horse.
When these young, hard-core brainwashed members of
the Communist conspiracy reached the "Panhandle, " the
emigre Oklahoma Communist sector of San Francisco, thou-
sands of other Communists were waiting for them.
were Communists who couldn't walk very far.
had enough strength to make it downtown.
Thousands of Communists, protected by the police, marched
down to Union Square, located in the very heart of San Fran-
The Communist City Hall riots in 1960 had presented
evidence of it, the police let hundreds of Communists escape,
but the trout fishing in America peace parade was the final
indictment: police protection.
Thousands of Communists marched right into the heart of
San Francisco, and Communist speakers incited them for
hours and the young people wanted to blow up Colt Tower, but
the Communist clergy told them to put away their plastic
"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should
do to you, do ye even so to them .
There will be no need
for explosives, " they said.
America needs no other proof.
The Red shadow of the
Gandhian nonviolence Trojan horse has fallen across Ameri-
ca, and San Francisco is its stable.
Obsolete is the mad rapist's legendary piece of candy.
this very moment, Communist agents are handing out Witness
for trout fishing in America peace tracts to innocent children
riding the cable cars.
FOOTNOTE CHAPTER TO
Living in the California bush we had no garbage service.
garbage was never greeted in the early morning by a man
with a big smile on his face and a kind word or two.
couldn't burn any of the garbage because it was the dry seas-
on and everything was ready to catch on fire anyway, includ-
The garbage was a problem for a little while
and then we discovered a way to get rid of it.
We took the garbage down to where there were three aban-
doned houses in a row.
We carried sacks full of tin cans,
papers, peelings, bottles and Popeyes.
We stopped at the last abandoned house where there were
thousands of old receipts to the San Francisco Chronicle
thrown all over the bed and the children's toothbrushes were
still in the bathroom medicine cabinet.
Behind the place was an old outhouse and to get down to it,
you had to follow the path down past some apple trees and a
patch of strange plants that we thought were either a good
spice that would certainly enhance our cooking or the plants
were deadly nightshade that would cause our cooking to be
We carried the garbage down to the outhouse and always
opened the door slowly because that was the only way you
could open it, and on the wall there was a roll of toilet paper,
so old it looked like a relative, perhaps a cousin, to the Mag-
We lifted up the lid of the toilet and dropped the garbage
down into the darkness.
This went on for weeks and weeks
until it became very funny to lift the lid of the toilet and in-
stead of seeing darkness below or maybe the murky abstract
outline of garbage, we saw bright, definite and lusty garbage
heaped up almost to the top.
If you were a stranger and went down there to take an in-
nocent crap, you would've had quite a surprise when you lift-
ed up the lid.
We left the California bush just before it became necessary
to stand on the toilet seat and step into that hole, crushing
the garbage down like an accordion into the abyss.
THE CLEVELAND WRECKING
Until recently my knowledge about the Cleveland Wrecking
Yard had come from a couple of friends who'd bought things
One of them bought a huge window: the frame, glass
and everything for just a few dollars.
It was a fine-looking
Then he chopped a hole in the side of his house up on
Potrero Hill and put the window in.
Now he has a panoramic
view of the San Francisco County Hospital.
He can practically look right down into the wards and see
old magazines eroded like the Grand Canyon from endless
He can practically hear the patients thinking about
breakfast: I hate milk and thinking about dinner: I hate peas,
and then he can watch the hospital slowly drown at night,
hopelessly entangled in huge bunches of brick seaweed.
He bought that window at the Cleveland Wrecking Yard.
My other friend bought an iron roof at the Cleveland Wreck-
ing Yard and took the roof down to Big Sur in an old station
wagon and then he carried the iron roof on his back up the
side of a mountain.
He carried up half the roof on his back.
It was no picnic.
Then he bought a mule, George, from Pleas-
George carried up the other half of the roof.
The mule didn't like what was happening at all.
He lost a
lot of weight because of the ticks, and the smell of the wild-
cats up on the plateau made him too nervous to graze there.
My friend said jokingly that George had lost around two hun-
The good wine country around Pleasanton in the
Livermore Valley probably had looked a lot better to George
than the wild side of the Santa Lucia Mountains.
My friend's place was a shack right beside a huge fire-
place where there had once been a great mansion during the
1920s, built by a famous movie actor.
The mansion was built
before there was even a road down at Big Sur.
had been brought over the mountains on the backs of mules,
strung out like ants, bringing visions of the good life to the
poison oak, the ticks, and the salmon.
The mansion was on a promontory, high over the Pacific.
Money could see farther in the 1920s and one could look out
and see whales and the Hawaiian Islands and the Kuomintang
The mansion burned down years ago.
The actor died.
His mules were made into soap.
His mistresses became bird nests of wrinkles.
Now only the fireplace remains as a sort of Carthaginian
homage to Hollywood.
I was down there a few weeks ago to see my friend's roof.
I wouldn't have passed up the chance for a million dollars,
as they say.
The roof looked like a colander to me.
roof and the rain were running against each other at Bay
Meadows, I'd bet on the rain and plan to spend my winnings
at the World's Fair in Seattle.
My own experience with the Cleveland Wrecking Yard be-
gan two days ago when I heard about a used trout stream
they had on sale out at the Yard.
So I caught the Number 15
bus on Columbus Avenue and went out there for the first time.
There were two Negro boys sitting behind me on the bus.
They were talking about Chubby Checker and the Twist.
thought that Chubby Checker was only fifteen years old be-
cause he didn't have a mustache.
Then they talked about some
other guy who did the twist forty-four hours in a row until
he saw George Washington crossing the Delaware.
"Man, that's what I call twisting, " one of the kids said.
"I don't think I could twist no forty-four hours in a row, "
the other kid said.
"That's a lot of twisting.
I got off the bus right next to an abandoned Time Gasoline
filling station and an abandoned fifty-cent self-service car
There was a long field on one side of the filling station.
The field had once been covered with a housing project dur-
ing the war, put there for the shipyard workers.
On the other side of the Time filling station was the Cleve-
land Wrecking Yard.
I walked down there to have a look at
the used trout stream.
The Cleveland Wrecking Yard has a
very long front window filled with signs and merchandise.
There was a sign in the window advertising a laundry
marking machine for $65.
The original cost of the mach-
ine was $175.
Quite a saving.
There was another sign advertising new and used two and
three ton hoists.
I wondered how many hoists it would take
to move a trout stream.
There was another sign that said:
THE FAMILY GIFT CENTER,
GIFT SUGGESTIONS FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY
The window was filled with hundreds of items for the en-
Daddy, do you know what I want for Christmas?
son? A bathroom.
Mommy do you know what I want
for Christmas? What, Patricia? Some roofing material
There were jungle hammocks in the window for distant
relatives and dollar-ten-cent gallons of earth-brown enamel
paint for other loved ones.
There was also a big sign that said:
USED TROUT STREAM FOR SALE.
MUST BE SEEN TO BE APPRECIATED,
I went inside and looked at some ship's lanterns that were
for sale next to the door.
Then a salesman came up to me
and said in a pleasant voice, "Can I help you?"
"Yes, " I said.
"I'm curious about the trout stream you
have for sale.
Can you tell me something about it? How are
you selling it?"
"We're selling it by the foot length.
You can buy as little
as you want or you can buy all we've got left.
A man came in
here this morning and bought 563 feet.
He's going to give it
to his niece for a birthday present, " the salesman said.
"We're selling the waterfalls separately of course, and
the trees and birds, flowers grass and ferns we're also sell-
The insects we're giving away free with a mini-
mum purchase of ten feet of stream.
"How much are you selling the stream for?" I asked.
"Six dollars and fifty-cents a foot, " he said.
the first hundred feet.
After that it's five dollars a foot.
"How much are the birds?" I asked.
"Thirty-five cents apiece, " he said.
"But of course
We can't guarantee anything.
"How wide is the stream?" I asked.
"You said you were
selling it by the length, didn't you?"
"Yes, " he said.
"We're selling it by the length.
runs between five and eleven feet.
You don't have to pay any-
thing extra for width.
It's not a big stream, but it's very
"What kinds of animals do you have 7" I asked.
"We only have three deer left, " he said.
"Oh What about flowers 7"
"By the dozen, " he said.
"Is the stream clear?" I asked.
"Sir, " the salesman said.
"I wouldn't want you to think
that we would ever sell a murky trout stream here.
ways make sure they're running crystal clear before we even
think about moving them.
"Where did the stream come from?" I asked.
"Colorado, " he said.
"We moved it with loving care.
never damaged a trout stream yet.
We treat them all as if
they were china.
"You're probably asked this all the time, but how's fish-
ing in the stream?" I asked.
"Very good, " he said.
"Mostly German browns, but there
are a few rainbows.
"What do the trout cost?" I asked.
"They come with the stream, " he said.
"Of course it's all
You never know how many you're going to get or how
big they are.
But the fishing's very good, you might say it's
Both bait and dry fly, " he said smiling.
"Where's the stream at?" I asked.
"I'd like to take a look
"It's around in back, " he said.
"You go straight through
that door and then turn right until you're outside.
You can't miss it.
The waterfalls are upstairs in
the used plumbing department.
"What about the animals?"
"Well, what's left of the animals are straight back from
You'll see a bunch of our trucks parked on a
road by the railroad tracks.
Turn right on the road and fol-
low it down past the piles of lumber.
The animal shed's right
at the end of the lot.
"Thanks, " I said.
"I think I'11 look at the waterfalls first.
You don't have to come with me.
Just tell me how to get there
and I'11 find my own way.
"All right, " he said.
"Go up those stairs.
You'll see a
bunch of doors and windows, turn left and you'll find the
used plumbing department.
Here's my card if you need any
"Okay, " I said.
"You've been a great help already.
I'11 take a look around.
"Good luck, " he said.
I went upstairs and there were thousands of doors there.
I'd never seen so many doors before in my life.
have built an entire city out of those doors.
there were enough windows up there to build a little suburb
entirely out of windows.
I turned left and went back and saw the faint glow of pearl-
The light got stronger and stronger as I went
farther back, and then I was in the used plumbing department,
surrounded by hundreds of toilets.
The toilets were stacked on shelves.
They were stacked
five toilets high.
There was a skylight above the toilets that
made them glow like the Great Taboo Pearl of the South Sea
Stacked over against the wall were the waterfalls.
were about a dozen of them, ranging from a drop of a few
feet to a drop of ten or fifteen feet.
There was one waterfall that was over sixty feet long.
There were tags on the pieces of the big falls describing the
correct order for putting the falls back together again.
The waterfalls all had price tags on them.
more expensive than the stream.
The waterfalls were selling
00 a foot.
I went into another room where there were piles of sweet-
smelling lumber, glowing a soft yellow from a different color
skylight above the lumber.
In the shadows at the edge of the
room under the sloping roof of the building were many sinks
and urinals covered with dust, and there was also another
waterfall about seventeen feet long, lying there in two lengths
and already beginning to gather dust.
I had seen all I wanted of the waterfalls, and now I was
very curious about the trout stream, so I followed the sales-
man's directions and ended up outside the building.
O I had never in my life seen anything like that trout
It was stacked in piles of various lengths: ten, fif-
teen, twenty feet, etc.
There was one pile of hundred-foot
There was also a box of scraps.
The scraps were
in odd sizes ranging from six inches to a couple of feet.
There was a loudspeaker on the side of the building and
soft music was coming out.
It was a cloudy day and seagulls
were circling high overhead.
Behind the stream were big bundles of trees and bushes.
They were covered with sheets of patched canvas.
see the tops and roots sticking out the ends of the bundles.
I went up close and looked at the lengths of stream.
could see some trout in them.
I saw one good fish.
some crawdads crawling around the rocks at the bottom.
It looked like a fine stream.
I put my hand in the water.
It was cold and felt good.
I decided to go around to the side and look at the animals.
I saw where the trucks were parked beside the railroad
I followed the road down past the piles of lumber,
back to the shed where the animals were.
The salesman had been right.
They were practically out
About the only thing they had left in any abun-
dance were mice.
There were hundreds of mice.
Beside the shed was a huge wire birdcage, maybe fifty
feet high, filled with many kinds of birds.
The top of the cage
had a piece of canvas over it, so the birds wouldn't get wet
when it rained.
There were woodpeckers and wild canaries
On my way back to where the trout stream was piled, I
found the insects.
They were inside a prefabricated steel
building that was selling for eighty-cents a square foot.
was a sign over the door.
A HALF-SUNDAY HOMAGE TO A
WHOLE LEONARDO DA VINCI
On this funky winter day in rainy San Francisco I've had a
vision of Leonardo da Vinci.
My woman's out slaving away,
no day off, working on Sunday.
She left here at eight o'clock
this morning for Powell and California.
I've been sitting here
ever since like a toad on a log dreaming about Leonardo da
I dreamt he was on the South Bend Tackle Company pay-
roll, but of course, he was wearing different clothes and
speaking with a different accent and possessor of a different
childhood, perhaps an American childhood spent in a town
like Lordsburg, New Mexico, or Winchester, Virginia.
I saw him inventing a new spinning lure for trout fishing
I saw him first of all working with his imagina-
tion, then with metal and color and hooks, trying a little of
this and a little of that, and then adding motion and then tak-
ing it away and then coming back again with a different motion,
and in the end the lure was invented.
He called his bosses in.
They looked at the lure and all
Alone, standing over their bodies, he held the lure
in his hand and gave it a name.
He called it "The Last Supper.
Then he went about waking up his bosses.
In a matter of months that trout fishing lure was the sen-
sation of the twentieth century, far outstripping such shallow
accomplishments as Hiroshima or Mahatma Gandhi.
of "The Last Supper" were sold in America.
The Vatican or-
dered ten thousand and they didn't even have any trout there.
Testimonials poured in.
Thirty-four ex-presidents of the
United States all said, ''I caught my limit on 'The Last Supper.
TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA
He went up to Chemault, that's in Eastern Oregon, to cut
He was working for a very small enter-
He cut the trees, did the cooking and slept on the
It was cold and there was snow on the ground.
The floor was hard.
Somewhere along the line, he found an
old Air Force flight jacket.
That was a big help in the cold.
The only woman he could find up there was a three-hundred-
pound Indian squaw.
She had twin fifteen-year-old daughters
and he wanted to get into them.
But the squaw worked it so
he only got into her.
She was clever that way.
The people he was working for wouldn't pay him up there.
They said he'd get it all in one sum when they got back to
He'd taken the job because he was broke,
He waited and cut trees in the snow, laid the squaw,
cooked bad food--they were on a tight budget--and he
washed the dishes.
Afterwards, he slept on the kitchen floor
in his Air Force flight jacket.
When they finally got back to town with the trees, those
guys didn't have any money to pay him off.
He had to wait
around the lot in Oakland until they sold enough trees to pay
"Here's a lovely tree, ma'am.
"That's too much.
"I have a lovely two-dollar tree here, ma'am.
it's only half a tree, but you can stand it up right next to a
wall and it'll look great, ma'am.
"I'11 take it.
I can put it right next to my weather clock.
This tree is the same color as the queen's dress.
I'11 take it.
You said two dollars?"
"That's right, ma'am.
that you want to bury your aunt with a Christmas tree in her
coffin? Uh-huh .
She wanted it that way .
what I can do for you, sir.
Oh, you have the measurements
of the coffin with you? Very good .
We have our coffin-
sized Christmas trees right over here, sir.
Finally he was paid off and he came over to San Francis-
co and had a good meal, a steak dinner at Le Boeuf and some
good booze, Jack Daniels, and then went out to the Fillmore
and picked up a good-looking, young, Negro whore, and he
got laid in the Albert Bacon Fall Hotel.
The next day he went down to a fancy stationery store on
Market Street and bought himself a thirty-dollar fountain pen,
one with a gold nib.
He showed it to me and said, "Write with this, but don't
write hard because this pen has got a gold nib, and a gold
nib is very impressionable.
After a while it takes on the per-
sonality of the writer.
Nobody else can write with it.
pen becomes just like a person's shadow.
It's the only pen
But be careful.
I thought to myself what a lovely nib trout fishing in Am-
erica would make with a stroke of cool green trees along the
river's shore, wild flowers and dark fins pressed against
PRELUDE TO THE
"The Eskimos live among ice all their lives but have
single word for ice.
" --Man: His First Million Years
"Human language is in some ways similar to, but in other
ways vastly different from, other kinds of animal communi-
We simply have no idea about its evolutionary history,
though many people have speculated about its possible origins.
There is, for instance, the 'bow-bow' theory, that language
started from attempts to imitate animal sounds.
Or the 'ding-
dong' theory, that it arose from natural sound-producing
Or the 'pooh-pooh' theory, that it began with vio-
lent outcries and exclamations .
We have no way ofknow-
ing whether the kinds of men represented by the earliestfos-
sils could talk or not .
Language does not leave fossils,
at least not until it has become written .
" --Man in
Nature, by Marston Bates
"But no animal up a tree can initiate a culture.
Simian Basis of Human Mechanics," in Twilight of Man, by
Earnest Albert Hooton
Expressing a human need, I always wanted to write abook
that ended with the word Mayonnaise.
THE MAYONNAISE CHAPTER
Dearest Florence and Harv.
I just heard from Edith about
the passing of Mr.
goes out to you in deepest sympathy
Gods will be done.
He has lived a
good long life and he has gone to
a better place.
You were expecting
it and it was nice you could see
him yesterday even if he did not
You have our prayers
and love and we will see you soon.
God bless you both.
Love Mother and Nancy.
Sorry I forgot to give you the mayonaise.
Matthew Arnold |
Go, for they call you, shepherd, from the hill;
Go, shepherd, and untie the wattled cotes!
No longer leave thy wistful flock unfed,
Nor let thy bawling fellows rack their throats,
Nor the cropped herbage shoot another head.
But when the fields are still,
And the tired men and dogs all gone to rest,
And only the white sheep are sometimes seen
Cross and recross the strips of moon-blanched green,
Come, shepherd, and again begin the quest!
Here, where the reaper was at work of late—
In this high field's dark corner, where he leaves
His coat, his basket, and his earthen cruse,
And in the sun all morning binds the sheaves,
Then here, at noon, comes back his stores to use—
Here will I sit and wait,
While to my ear from uplands far away
The bleating of the folded flocks is borne,
With distant cries of reapers in the corn—
All the live murmur of a summer's day.
Screened is this nook o'er the high, half-reaped field,
And here till sundown, shepherd! will I be.
Through the thick corn the scarlet poppies peep,
And round green roots and yellowing stalks I see
Pale pink convolvulus in tendrils creep;
And air-swept lindens yield
Their scent, and rustle down their perfumed showers
Of bloom on the bent grass where I am laid,
And bower me from the August sun with shade;
And the eye travels down to Oxford's towers.
And near me on the grass lies Glanvil's book—
Come, let me read the oft-read tale again!
The story of the Oxford scholar poor,
Of pregnant parts and quick inventive brain,
Who, tired of knocking at preferment's door,
One summer-morn forsook
His friends, and went to learn the gypsy-lore,
And roamed the world with that wild brotherhood,
And came, as most men deemed, to little good,
But came to Oxford and his friends no more.
But once, years after, in the country lanes,
Two scholars, whom at college erst he knew,
Met him, and of his way of life enquired;
Whereat he answered, that the gypsy-crew,
His mates, had arts to rule as they desired
The workings of men's brains,
And they can bind them to what thoughts they will.
"And I," he said, "the secret of their art,
When fully learned, will to the world impart;
But it needs heaven-sent moments for this skill.
This said, he left them, and returned no more.
But rumours hung about the countryside,
That the lost Scholar long was seen to stray,
Seen by rare glimpses, pensive and tongue-tied,
In hat of antique shape, and cloak of grey,
The same the gypsies wore.
Shepherds had met him on the Hurst in spring;
At some lone alehouse in the Berkshire moors,
On the warm ingle-bench, the smock-frocked boors
Had found him seated at their entering,
But, 'mid their drink and clatter, he would fly.
And I myself seem half to know thy looks,
And put the shepherds, wanderer! on thy trace;
And boys who in lone wheatfields scare the rooks
I ask if thou hast passed their quiet place;
Or in my boat I lie
Moored to the cool bank in the summer-heats,
'Mid wide grass meadows which the sunshine fills,
And watch the warm, green-muffled Cumner hills,
And wonder if thou haunt'st their shy retreats.
For most, I know, thou lov'st retired ground!
Thee at the ferry Oxford riders blithe,
Returning home on summer-nights, have met
Crossing the stripling Thames at Bablock-hithe,
Trailing in the cool stream thy fingers wet,
As the punt's rope chops round;
And leaning backward in a pensive dream,
And fostering in thy lap a heap of flowers
Plucked in the shy fields and distant Wychwood bowers,
And thine eyes resting on the moonlit stream.
And then they land, and thou art seen no more!—
Maidens, who from the distant hamlets come
To dance around the Fyfield elm in May,
Oft through the darkening fields have seen thee roam,
Or cross a stile into the public way.
Oft thou hast given them store
Of flowers—the frail-leafed white anemony,
Dark bluebells drenched with dews of summer eves,
And purple orchises with spotted leaves—
But none hath words she can report of thee.
And, above Godstow Bridge, when hay-time's here
In June, and many a scythe in sunshine flames,
Men who through those wide fields of breezy grass
Where black-winged swallows haunt the glittering Thames,
To bathe in the abandoned lasher pass,
Have often passed thee near
Sitting upon the river bank o'ergrown;
Marked thine outlandish garb, thy figure spare,
Thy dark vague eyes, and soft abstracted air—
But, when they came from bathing, thou wast gone!
At some lone homestead in the Cumner hills,
Where at her open door the housewife darns,
Thou hast been seen, or hanging on a gate
To watch the threshers in the mossy barns.
Children, who early range these slopes and late
For cresses from the rills,
Have known thee eyeing, all an April-day,
The springing pastures and the feeding kine;
And marked thee, when the stars come out and shine,
Through the long dewy grass move slow away.
In autumn, on the skirts of Bagley Wood—
Where most the gypsies by the turf-edged way
Pitch their smoked tents, and every bush you see
With scarlet patches tagged and shreds of grey,
Above the forest-ground called Thessaly—
The blackbird, picking food,
Sees thee, nor stops his meal, nor fears at all;
So often has he known thee past him stray,
Rapt, twirling in thy hand a withered spray,
And waiting for the spark from heaven to fall.
And once, in winter, on the causeway chill
Where home through flooded fields foot-travellers go,
Have I not passed thee on the wooden bridge,
Wrapped in thy cloak and battling with the snow,
Thy face tow'rd Hinksey and its wintry ridge?
And thou hast climbed the hill,
And gained the white brow of the Cumner range;
Turned once to watch, while thick the snowflakes fall,
The line of festal light in Christ-Church hall—
Then sought thy straw in some sequestered grange.
But what—I dream! Two hundred years are flown
Since first thy story ran through Oxford halls,
And the grave Glanvil did the tale inscribe
That thou wert wandered from the studious walls
To learn strange arts, and join a gypsy-tribe;
And thou from earth art gone
Long since, and in some quiet churchyard laid—
Some country-nook, where o'er thy unknown grave
Tall grasses and white flowering nettles wave,
Under a dark, red-fruited yew-tree's shade.
- No, no, thou hast not felt the lapse of hours!
For what wears out the life of mortal men?
'Tis that from change to change their being rolls;
'Tis that repeated shocks, again, again,
Exhaust the energy of strongest souls
And numb the elastic powers.
Till having used our nerves with bliss and teen,
And tired upon a thousand schemes our wit,
To the just-pausing Genius we remit
Our worn-out life, and are—what we have been.
Thou hast not lived, why shouldst thou perish, so?
Thou hadst one aim, one business, one desire;
Else wert thou long since numbered with the dead!
Else hadst thou spent, like other men, thy fire!
The generations of thy peers are fled,
And we ourselves shall go;
But thou possessest an immortal lot,
And we imagine thee exempt from age
And living as thou liv'st on Glanvil's page,
Because thou hadst—what we, alas! have not.
For early didst thou leave the world, with powers
Fresh, undiverted to the world without,
Firm to their mark, not spent on other things;
Free from the sick fatigue, the languid doubt,
Which much to have tried, in much been baffled, brings.
O life unlike to ours!
Who fluctuate idly without term or scope,
Of whom each strives, nor knows for what he strives,
And each half lives a hundred different lives;
Who wait like thee, but not, like thee, in hope.
Thou waitest for the spark from heaven! and we,
Light half-believers of our casual creeds,
Who never deeply felt, nor clearly willed,
Whose insight never has borne fruit in deeds,
Whose vague resolves never have been fulfilled;
For whom each year we see
Breeds new beginnings, disappointments new;
Who hesitate and falter life away,
And lose tomorrow the ground won today—
Ah! do not we, wanderer! await it too?
Yes, we await it!—but it still delays,
And then we suffer! and amongst us one,
Who most has suffered, takes dejectedly
His seat upon the intellectual throne;
And all his store of sad experience he
Lays bare of wretched days;
Tells us his misery's birth and growth and signs,
And how the dying spark of hope was fed,
And how the breast was soothed, and how the head,
And all his hourly varied anodynes.
This for our wisest! and we others pine,
And wish the long unhappy dream would end,
And waive all claim to bliss, and try to bear;
With close-lipped patience for our only friend,
Sad patience, too near neighbour to despair—
But none has hope like thine!
Thou through the fields and through the woods dost stray,
Roaming the countryside, a truant boy,
Nursing thy project in unclouded joy,
And every doubt long blown by time away.
O born in days when wits were fresh and clear,
And life ran gaily as the sparkling Thames;
Before this strange disease of modern life,
With its sick hurry, its divided aims,
Its heads o'ertaxed, its palsied hearts, was rife—
Fly hence, our contact fear!
Still fly, plunge deeper in the bowering wood!
Averse, as Dido did with gesture stern
From her false friend's approach in Hades turn,
Wave us away, and keep thy solitude!
Still nursing the unconquerable hope,
Still clutching the inviolable shade,
With a free, onward impulse brushing through,
By night, the silvered branches of the glade—
Far on the forest-skirts, where none pursue,
On some mild pastoral slope
Emerge, and resting on the moonlit pales
Freshen thy flowers as in former years
With dew, or listen with enchanted ears,
From the dark dingles, to the nightingales!
But fly our paths, our feverish contact fly!
For strong the infection of out mental strife,
Which, though it gives no bliss, yet spoils for rest;
And we should win thee from thy own fair life,
Like us distracted, and like us unblest.
Soon, soon thy cheer would die,
Thy hopes grow timorous, and unfixed thy powers,
Adn thy clear aims be cross and shifting made;
And then thy glad perennial youth would fade,
Fade, and grow old at last, and die like ours.
Then fly our greetings, fly our speech and smiles!
- As some grave Tyrian trader, from the sea,
Descried at sunrise and emerging prow
Lifting the cool-haired creepers stealthily,
The fringes of a southward-facing brow
Among the Aegaean isles;
And saw the merry Grecian coaster come,
Freighted with amber grapes, and Chian wine,
Green, bursting figs, and tunnies steeped in brine—
And knew the intruders on his ancient home,
The young light-hearted masters of the waves—
And snatched his rudder, and shook out more sail;
And day and night held on indignantly
O'er the blue Midland waters with the gale,
Betwixt the Syrtes and soft Sicily,
To where the Atlantic raves
Outside the western straits; and unbent sails
There, where down cloudy cliffs, through sheets of foam,
Shy traffickers, the dark Iberians come;
And on the beach undid his corded bales.
William Shakespeare |
FROM off a hill whose concave womb reworded
A plaintful story from a sistering vale,
My spirits to attend this double voice accorded,
And down I laid to list the sad-tuned tale;
Ere long espied a fickle maid full pale,
Tearing of papers, breaking rings a-twain,
Storming her world with sorrow's wind and rain.
Upon her head a platted hive of straw,
Which fortified her visage from the sun,
Whereon the thought might think sometime it saw
The carcass of beauty spent and done:
Time had not scythed all that youth begun,
Nor youth all quit; but, spite of heaven's fell rage,
Some beauty peep'd through lattice of sear'd age.
Oft did she heave her napkin to her eyne,
Which on it had conceited characters,
Laundering the silken figures in the brine
That season'd woe had pelleted in tears,
And often reading what contents it bears;
As often shrieking undistinguish'd woe,
In clamours of all size, both high and low.
Sometimes her levell'd eyes their carriage ride,
As they did battery to the spheres intend;
Sometime diverted their poor balls are tied
To the orbed earth; sometimes they do extend
Their view right on; anon their gazes lend
To every place at once, and, nowhere fix'd,
The mind and sight distractedly commix'd.
Her hair, nor loose nor tied in formal plat,
Proclaim'd in her a careless hand of pride
For some, untuck'd, descended her sheaved hat,
Hanging her pale and pined cheek beside;
Some in her threaden fillet still did bide,
And true to bondage would not break from thence,
Though slackly braided in loose negligence.
A thousand favours from a maund she drew
Of amber, crystal, and of beaded jet,
Which one by one she in a river threw,
Upon whose weeping margent she was set;
Like usury, applying wet to wet,
Or monarch's hands that let not bounty fall
Where want cries some, but where excess begs all.
Of folded schedules had she many a one,
Which she perused, sigh'd, tore, and gave the flood;
Crack'd many a ring of posied gold and bone
Bidding them find their sepulchres in mud;
Found yet moe letters sadly penn'd in blood,
With sleided silk feat and affectedly
Enswathed, and seal'd to curious secrecy.
These often bathed she in her fluxive eyes,
And often kiss'd, and often 'gan to tear:
Cried 'O false blood, thou register of lies,
What unapproved witness dost thou bear!
Ink would have seem'd more black and damned here!'
This said, in top of rage the lines she rents,
Big discontent so breaking their contents.
A reverend man that grazed his cattle nigh--
Sometime a blusterer, that the ruffle knew
Of court, of city, and had let go by
The swiftest hours, observed as they flew--
Towards this afflicted fancy fastly drew,
And, privileged by age, desires to know
In brief the grounds and motives of her woe.
So slides he down upon his grained bat,
And comely-distant sits he by her side;
When he again desires her, being sat,
Her grievance with his hearing to divide:
If that from him there may be aught applied
Which may her suffering ecstasy assuage,
'Tis promised in the charity of age.
'Father,' she says, 'though in me you behold
The injury of many a blasting hour,
Let it not tell your judgment I am old;
Not age, but sorrow, over me hath power:
I might as yet have been a spreading flower,
Fresh to myself, If I had self-applied
Love to myself and to no love beside.
'But, woe is me! too early I attended
A youthful suit--it was to gain my grace--
Of one by nature's outwards so commended,
That maidens' eyes stuck over all his face:
Love lack'd a dwelling, and made him her place;
And when in his fair parts she did abide,
She was new lodged and newly deified.
'His browny locks did hang in crooked curls;
And every light occasion of the wind
Upon his lips their silken parcels hurls.
What's sweet to do, to do will aptly find:
Each eye that saw him did enchant the mind,
For on his visage was in little drawn
What largeness thinks in Paradise was sawn.
'Small show of man was yet upon his chin;
His phoenix down began but to appear
Like unshorn velvet on that termless skin
Whose bare out-bragg'd the web it seem'd to wear:
Yet show'd his visage by that cost more dear;
And nice affections wavering stood in doubt
If best were as it was, or best without.
'His qualities were beauteous as his form,
For maiden-tongued he was, and thereof free;
Yet, if men moved him, was he such a storm
As oft 'twixt May and April is to see,
When winds breathe sweet, untidy though they be.
His rudeness so with his authorized youth
Did livery falseness in a pride of truth.
'Well could he ride, and often men would say
'That horse his mettle from his rider takes:
Proud of subjection, noble by the sway,
What rounds, what bounds, what course, what stop
And controversy hence a question takes,
Whether the horse by him became his deed,
Or he his manage by the well-doing steed.
'But quickly on this side the verdict went:
His real habitude gave life and grace
To appertainings and to ornament,
Accomplish'd in himself, not in his case:
All aids, themselves made fairer by their place,
Came for additions; yet their purposed trim
Pieced not his grace, but were all graced by him.
'So on the tip of his subduing tongue
All kinds of arguments and question deep,
All replication prompt, and reason strong,
For his advantage still did wake and sleep:
To make the weeper laugh, the laugher weep,
He had the dialect and different skill,
Catching all passions in his craft of will:
'That he did in the general bosom reign
Of young, of old; and sexes both enchanted,
To dwell with him in thoughts, or to remain
In personal duty, following where he haunted:
Consents bewitch'd, ere he desire, have granted;
And dialogued for him what he would say,
Ask'd their own wills, and made their wills obey.
'Many there were that did his picture get,
To serve their eyes, and in it put their mind;
Like fools that in th' imagination set
The goodly objects which abroad they find
Of lands and mansions, theirs in thought assign'd;
And labouring in moe pleasures to bestow them
Than the true gouty landlord which doth owe them:
'So many have, that never touch'd his hand,
Sweetly supposed them mistress of his heart.
My woeful self, that did in freedom stand,
And was my own fee-simple, not in part,
What with his art in youth, and youth in art,
Threw my affections in his charmed power,
Reserved the stalk and gave him all my flower.
'Yet did I not, as some my equals did,
Demand of him, nor being desired yielded;
Finding myself in honour so forbid,
With safest distance I mine honour shielded:
Experience for me many bulwarks builded
Of proofs new-bleeding, which remain'd the foil
Of this false jewel, and his amorous spoil.
'But, ah, who ever shunn'd by precedent
The destined ill she must herself assay?
Or forced examples, 'gainst her own content,
To put the by-past perils in her way?
Counsel may stop awhile what will not stay;
For when we rage, advice is often seen
By blunting us to make our wits more keen.
'Nor gives it satisfaction to our blood,
That we must curb it upon others' proof;
To be forbod the sweets that seem so good,
For fear of harms that preach in our behoof.
O appetite, from judgment stand aloof!
The one a palate hath that needs will taste,
Though Reason weep, and cry, 'It is thy last.
'For further I could say 'This man's untrue,'
And knew the patterns of his foul beguiling;
Heard where his plants in others' orchards grew,
Saw how deceits were gilded in his smiling;
Knew vows were ever brokers to defiling;
Thought characters and words merely but art,
And bastards of his foul adulterate heart.
'And long upon these terms I held my city,
Till thus he gan besiege me: 'Gentle maid,
Have of my suffering youth some feeling pity,
And be not of my holy vows afraid:
That's to ye sworn to none was ever said;
For feasts of love I have been call'd unto,
Till now did ne'er invite, nor never woo.
''All my offences that abroad you see
Are errors of the blood, none of the mind;
Love made them not: with acture they may be,
Where neither party is nor true nor kind:
They sought their shame that so their shame did find;
And so much less of shame in me remains,
By how much of me their reproach contains.
''Among the many that mine eyes have seen,
Not one whose flame my heart so much as warm'd,
Or my affection put to the smallest teen,
Or any of my leisures ever charm'd:
Harm have I done to them, but ne'er was harm'd;
Kept hearts in liveries, but mine own was free,
And reign'd, commanding in his monarchy.
''Look here, what tributes wounded fancies sent me,
Of paled pearls and rubies red as blood;
Figuring that they their passions likewise lent me
Of grief and blushes, aptly understood
In bloodless white and the encrimson'd mood;
Effects of terror and dear modesty,
Encamp'd in hearts, but fighting outwardly.
''And, lo, behold these talents of their hair,
With twisted metal amorously impleach'd,
I have received from many a several fair,
Their kind acceptance weepingly beseech'd,
With the annexions of fair gems enrich'd,
And deep-brain'd sonnets that did amplify
Each stone's dear nature, worth, and quality.
''The diamond,--why, 'twas beautiful and hard,
Whereto his invised properties did tend;
The deep-green emerald, in whose fresh regard
Weak sights their sickly radiance do amend;
The heaven-hued sapphire and the opal blend
With objects manifold: each several stone,
With wit well blazon'd, smiled or made some moan.
''Lo, all these trophies of affections hot,
Of pensived and subdued desires the tender,
Nature hath charged me that I hoard them not,
But yield them up where I myself must render,
That is, to you, my origin and ender;
For these, of force, must your oblations be,
Since I their altar, you enpatron me.
''O, then, advance of yours that phraseless hand,
Whose white weighs down the airy scale of praise;
Take all these similes to your own command,
Hallow'd with sighs that burning lungs did raise;
What me your minister, for you obeys,
Works under you; and to your audit comes
Their distract parcels in combined sums.
''Lo, this device was sent me from a nun,
Or sister sanctified, of holiest note;
Which late her noble suit in court did shun,
Whose rarest havings made the blossoms dote;
For she was sought by spirits of richest coat,
But kept cold distance, and did thence remove,
To spend her living in eternal love.
''But, O my sweet, what labour is't to leave
The thing we have not, mastering what not strives,
Playing the place which did no form receive,
Playing patient sports in unconstrained gyves?
She that her fame so to herself contrives,
The scars of battle 'scapeth by the flight,
And makes her absence valiant, not her might.
''O, pardon me, in that my boast is true:
The accident which brought me to her eye
Upon the moment did her force subdue,
And now she would the caged cloister fly:
Religious love put out Religion's eye:
Not to be tempted, would she be immured,
And now, to tempt, all liberty procured.
''How mighty then you are, O, hear me tell!
The broken bosoms that to me belong
Have emptied all their fountains in my well,
And mine I pour your ocean all among:
I strong o'er them, and you o'er me being strong,
Must for your victory us all congest,
As compound love to physic your cold breast.
''My parts had power to charm a sacred nun,
Who, disciplined, ay, dieted in grace,
Believed her eyes when they to assail begun,
All vows and consecrations giving place:
O most potential love! vow, bond, nor space,
In thee hath neither sting, knot, nor confine,
For thou art all, and all things else are thine.
''When thou impressest, what are precepts worth
Of stale example? When thou wilt inflame,
How coldly those impediments stand forth
Of wealth, of filial fear, law, kindred, fame!
Love's arms are peace, 'gainst rule, 'gainst sense,
And sweetens, in the suffering pangs it bears,
The aloes of all forces, shocks, and fears.
''Now all these hearts that do on mine depend,
Feeling it break, with bleeding groans they pine;
And supplicant their sighs to you extend,
To leave the battery that you make 'gainst mine,
Lending soft audience to my sweet design,
And credent soul to that strong-bonded oath
That shall prefer and undertake my troth.
'This said, his watery eyes he did dismount,
Whose sights till then were levell'd on my face;
Each cheek a river running from a fount
With brinish current downward flow'd apace:
O, how the channel to the stream gave grace!
Who glazed with crystal gate the glowing roses
That flame through water which their hue encloses.
'O father, what a hell of witchcraft lies
In the small orb of one particular tear!
But with the inundation of the eyes
What rocky heart to water will not wear?
What breast so cold that is not warmed here?
O cleft effect! cold modesty, hot wrath,
Both fire from hence and chill extincture hath.
'For, lo, his passion, but an art of craft,
Even there resolved my reason into tears;
There my white stole of chastity I daff'd,
Shook off my sober guards and civil fears;
Appear to him, as he to me appears,
All melting; though our drops this difference bore,
His poison'd me, and mine did him restore.
'In him a plenitude of subtle matter,
Applied to cautels, all strange forms receives,
Of burning blushes, or of weeping water,
Or swooning paleness; and he takes and leaves,
In either's aptness, as it best deceives,
To blush at speeches rank to weep at woes,
Or to turn white and swoon at tragic shows.
'That not a heart which in his level came
Could 'scape the hail of his all-hurting aim,
Showing fair nature is both kind and tame;
And, veil'd in them, did win whom he would maim:
Against the thing he sought he would exclaim;
When he most burn'd in heart-wish'd luxury,
He preach'd pure maid, and praised cold chastity.
'Thus merely with the garment of a Grace
The naked and concealed fiend he cover'd;
That th' unexperient gave the tempter place,
Which like a cherubin above them hover'd.
Who, young and simple, would not be so lover'd?
Ay me! I fell; and yet do question make
What I should do again for such a sake.
'O, that infected moisture of his eye,
O, that false fire which in his cheek so glow'd,
O, that forced thunder from his heart did fly,
O, that sad breath his spongy lungs bestow'd,
O, all that borrow'd motion seeming owed,
Would yet again betray the fore-betray'd,
And new pervert a reconciled maid!'
Thomas Hardy |
"Soul! Shall I see thy face," she said,
"In one brief hour?
And away with thee from a loveless bed
To a far-off sun, to a vine-wrapt bower,
And be thine own unseparated,
And challenge the world's white glower?
She quickened her feet, and met him where
They had predesigned:
And they clasped, and mounted, and cleft the air
Upon whirling wheels; till the will to bind
Her life with his made the moments there
Efface the years behind.
Miles slid, and the sight of the port upgrew
As they sped on;
When slipping its bond the bracelet flew
From her fondled arm.
Its cameo of the abjured one drew
Her musings thereupon.
The gaud with his image once had been
A gift from him:
And so it was that its carving keen
Refurbished memories wearing dim,
Which set in her soul a throe of teen,
And a tear on her lashes' brim.
"I may not go!" she at length upspake,
"Thoughts call me back -
I would still lose all for your dear, dear sake;
My heart is thine, friend! But my track
I home to Athelhall must take
To hinder household wrack!"
But they parted, weak and wan:
And he left the shore;
His ship diminished, was low, was gone;
And she heard in the waves as the daytide wore,
And read in the leer of the sun that shone,
That they parted for evermore.
She homed as she came, at the dip of eve
On Athel Coomb
Regaining the Hall she had sworn to leave .
The house was soundless as a tomb,
And she entered her chamber, there to grieve
Lone, kneeling, in the gloom.
From the lawn without rose her husband's voice
To one his friend:
"Another her Love, another my choice,
Her going is good.
Our conditions mend;
In a change of mates we shall both rejoice;
I hoped that it thus might end!
"A quick divorce; she will make him hers,
And I wed mine.
So Time rights all things in long, long years -
Or rather she, by her bold design!
I admire a woman no balk deters:
She has blessed my life, in fine.
"I shall build new rooms for my new true bride,
Let the bygone be:
By now, no doubt, she has crossed the tide
With the man to her mind.
Far happier she
In some warm vineland by his side
Than ever she was with me.
Rudyard Kipling |
"You must choose between me and your cigar.
-- BREACH OF PROMISE CASE, CIRCA 1885.
Open the old cigar-box, get me a Cuba stout,
For things are running crossways, and Maggie and I are out.
We quarrelled about Havanas -- we fought o'er a good cheroot,
And I knew she is exacting, and she says I am a brute.
Open the old cigar-box -- let me consider a space;
In the soft blue veil of the vapour musing on Maggie's face.
Maggie is pretty to look at -- Maggie's a loving lass,
But the prettiest cheeks must wrinkle, the truest of loves must pass.
There's peace in a Larranaga, there's calm in a Henry Clay;
But the best cigar in an hour is finished and thrown away --
Thrown away for another as perfect and ripe and brown --
But I could not throw away Maggie for fear o' the talk o' the town!
Maggie, my wife at fifty -- grey and dour and old --
With never another Maggie to purchase for love or gold!
And the light of Days that have Been the dark of the Days that Are,
And Love's torch stinking and stale, like the butt of a dead cigar --
The butt of a dead cigar you are bound to keep in your pocket --
With never a new one to light tho' it's charred and black to the socket!
Open the old cigar-box -- let me consider a while.
Here is a mild Manila -- there is a wifely smile.
Which is the better portion -- bondage bought with a ring,
Or a harem of dusky beauties, fifty tied in a string?
Counsellors cunning and silent -- comforters true and tried,
And never a one of the fifty to sneer at a rival bride?
Thought in the early morning, solace in time of woes,
Peace in the hush of the twilight, balm ere my eyelids close,
This will the fifty give me, asking nought in return,
With only a Suttee's passion -- to do their duty and burn.
This will the fifty give me.
When they are spent and dead,
Five times other fifties shall be my servants instead.
The furrows of far-off Java, the isles of the Spanish Main,
When they hear my harem is empty will send me my brides again.
I will take no heed to their raiment, nor food for their mouths withal,
So long as the gulls are nesting, so long as the showers fall.
I will scent 'em with best vanilla, with tea will I temper their hides,
And the Moor and the Mormon shall envy who read of the tale of my brides.
For Maggie has written a letter to give me my choice between
The wee little whimpering Love and the great god Nick o' Teen.
And I have been servant of Love for barely a twelvemonth clear,
But I have been Priest of Cabanas a matter of seven year;
And the gloom of my bachelor days is flecked with the cheery light
Of stums that I burned to Friendship and Pleasure and Work and Fight.
And I turn my eyes to the future that Maggie and I must prove,
But the only light on the marshes is the Will-o'-the-Wisp of Love.
Will it see me safe through my journey or leave me bogged in the mire?
Since a puff of tobacco can cloud it, shall I follow the fitful fire?
Open the old cigar-box -- let me consider anew --
Old friends, and who is Maggie that I should abandon you?
A million surplus Maggies are willing to bear the yoke;
And a woman is only a woman, but a good Cigar is a Smoke.
Light me another Cuba -- I hold to my first-sworn vows.
If Maggie will have no rival, I'll have no Maggie for Spouse!