Opis

As if a strong, delightful water that we knew only as a river appeared in the character of a fountain; as if one whom we had wondered at as a good walker or inexhaustible pedestrian, began to dance; as if Mr. Bright, in the middle of a public meeting, were to oblige the company with a song, — no, no, not like that exactly, but like something quite new, — is the appearance of George Eliot in the character of a poet. " The Spanish Gypsy," a poem in five books, originally written, as a prefatory note informs us, in the winter of 1864-65, and, after a visit to Spain in 1867, rewritten and amplified, dominates this book. This great Poems alone spans across three hundred and fifty octavo pages. But there are many more works included, only to mention "Armgart", "How Lisa Loved The King", "Stradivarius" and many more.

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Poems

 

GEORGE ELIOT

 

 

 

 

Poems, G. Eliot

Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck

86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9

Deutschland

 

ISBN: 9783849650575

 

www.jazzybee-verlag.de

[email protected]

 

 

 

 

CONTENTS:

THE SPANISH GYPSY.. 1

BOOK I.1

BOOK II.88

BOOK III.122

BOOK IV.159

BOOK V.185

THE LEGEND OF JUBAL.. 196

AGATHA.. 214

ARMGART.. 223

HOW LISA LOVED THE KING... 254

BROTHER AND SISTER.. 276

A COLLEGE BREAKFAST-PARTY.. 285

TWO LOVERS. 304

SELF AND LIFE.. 305

SWEET ENDINGS COME AND GO, LOVE.. 307

THE DEATH OF MOSES. 308

ARION... 311

O MAY I JOIN THE CHOIR INVISIBLE!313

THE SPANISH GYPSY

 

BOOK I.

 

'Tis the warm South, where Europe spreads her lands

Like fretted leaflets, breathing on the deep:

Broad-breasted Spain, leaning with equal love

On the Mid Sea that moans with memories,

And on the untravelled Ocean's restless tides.

This river, shadowed by the battlements

And gleaming silvery towards the northern sky,

Feeds the famed stream that waters Andalus

And loiters, amorous of the fragrant air,

By Cordova and Seville to the bay

Fronting Algarva and the wandering flood

Of Guadiana. This deep mountain gorge

Slopes widening on the olive-plumed plains

Of fair Granada: one far-stretching arm

Points to Elvira, one to eastward heights

Of Alpujarras where the new-bathed Day

With oriflamme uplifted o'er the peaks

Saddens the breasts of northward-looking snows

That loved the night, and soared with soaring stars;

Flashing the signals of his nearing swiftness

From Almeria's purple-shadowed bay

On to the far-off rocks that gaze and glow—

On to Alhambra, strong and ruddy heart

Of glorious Morisma, gasping now,

A maimed giant in his agony.

This town that dips its feet within the stream,

And seems to sit a tower-crowned Cybele,

Spreading her ample robe adown the rocks,

Is rich Bedmar: 'twas Moorish long ago,

But now the Cross is sparkling on the Mosque,

And bells make Catholic the trembling air.

The fortress gleams in Spanish sunshine now

('Tis south a mile before the rays are Moorish)—

Hereditary jewel, agraffe bright

On all the many-titled privilege

Of young Duke Silva. No Castilian knight

That serves Queen Isabel has higher charge;

For near this frontier sits the Moorish king,

Not Boabdil the waverer, who usurps

A throne he trembles in, and fawning licks

The feet of conquerors, but that fierce lion

Grisly El Zagal, who has made his lair

In Guadix' fort, and rushing thence with strength,

Half his own fierceness, half the untainted heart

Of mountain bands that fight for holiday,

Wastes the fair lands that lie by Alcala,

Wreathing his horse's neck with Christian heads.

To keep the Christian frontier—such high trust

Is young Duke Silva's; and the time is great.

(What times are little? To the sentinel

That hour is regal when he mounts on guard.)

The fifteenth century since the Man Divine

Taught and was hated in Capernaum

Is near its end—is falling as a husk

Away from all the fruit its years have riped.

The Moslem faith, now flickering like a torch

In a night struggle on this shore of Spain,

Glares, a broad column of advancing flame,

Along the Danube and the Illyrian shore

Far into Italy, where eager monks,

Who watch in dreams and dream the while they watch,

See Christ grow paler in the baleful light,

Crying again the cry of the forsaken.

But faith, the stronger for extremity,

Becomes prophetic, hears the far-off tread

Of western chivalry, sees downward sweep

The archangel Michael with the gleaming sword,

And listens for the shriek of hurrying fiends

Chased from their revels in God's sanctuary.

So trusts the monk, and lifts appealing eyes

To the high dome, the Church's firmament,

Where the blue light-pierced curtain, rolled away,

Reveals the throne and Him who sits thereon.

So trust the men whose best hope for the world

Is ever that the world is near its end:

Impatient of the stars that keep their course

And make no pathway for the coming Judge.

But other futures stir the world's great heart.

The West now enters on the heritage

Won from the tombs of mighty ancestors,

The seeds, the gold, the gems, the silent harps

That lay deep buried with the memories

Of old renown.

No more, as once in sunny Avignon,

The poet-scholar spreads the Homeric page,

And gazes sadly, like the deaf at song;

For now the old epic voices ring again

And vibrate with the beat and melody

Stirred by the warmth of old Ionian days.

The martyred sage, the Attic orator,

Immortally incarnate, like the gods,

In spiritual bodies, winged words

Holding a universe impalpable,

Find a new audience. For evermore,

With grander resurrection than was feigned

Of Attila's fierce Huns, the soul of Greece

Conquers the bulk of Persia. The maimed form

Of calmly-joyous beauty, marble-limbed,

Yet breathing with the thought that shaped its lips,

Looks mild reproach from out its opened grave

At creeds of terror; and the vine-wreathed god

Fronts the pierced Image with the crown of thorns.

The soul of man is widening towards the past:

No longer hanging at the breast of life

Feeding in blindness to his parentage—

Quenching all wonder with Omnipotence,

Praising a name with indolent piety—

He spells the record of his long descent,

More largely conscious of the life that was.

And from the height that shows where morning shone

On far-off summits pale and gloomy now,

The horizon widens round him, and the west

Looks vast with untracked waves whereon his gaze

Follows the flight of the swift-vanished bird

That like the sunken sun is mirrored still

Upon the yearning soul within the eye.

And so in Cordova through patient nights

Columbus watches, or he sails in dreams

Between the setting stars and finds new day;

Then wakes again to the old weary days,

Girds on the cord and frock of pale Saint Francis,

And like him zealous pleads with foolish men.

"I ask but for a million maravedis:

Give me three caravels to find a world,

New shores, new realms, new soldiers for the Cross,

Son cosas grandes!" Thus he pleads in vain;

Yet faints not utterly, but pleads anew,

Thinking, "God means it, and has chosen me."

For this man is the pulse of all mankind

Feeding an embryo future, offspring strange

Of the fond Present, that with mother-prayers

And mother-fancies looks for championship

Of all her loved beliefs and old-world ways

From that young Time she bears within her womb.

The sacred places shall be purged again,

The Turk converted, and the Holy Church,

Like the mild Virgin with the outspread robe,

Shall fold all tongues and nations lovingly.

But since God works by armies, who shall be

The modern Cyrus? Is it France most Christian,

Who with his lilies and brocaded knights,

French oaths, French vices, and the newest style

Of out-puffed sleeve, shall pass from west to east,

A winnowing fan to purify the seed

For fair millennial harvests soon to come?

Or is not Spain the land of chosen warriors ?—

Crusaders consecrated from the womb,

Carrying the sword-cross stamped upon their souls

By the long yearnings of a nation's life,

Through all the seven patient centuries

Since first Pelayo and his resolute band

Trusted the God within their Gothic hearts

At Covadunga, and defied Mahound;

Beginning so the Holy War of Spain

That now is panting with the eagerness

Of labour near its end. The silver cross

Glitters o'er Malaga and streams dread light

On Moslem galleys, turning all their stores

From threats to gifts. What Spanish knight is he

Who, living now, holds it not shame to live

Apart from that hereditary battle

Which needs his sword? Castilian gentlemen

Choose not their task—they choose to do it well.

The time is great, and greater no man's trust

Than his who keeps the fortress for his king,

Wearing great honours as some delicate robe

Brocaded o'er with names 'twere sin to tarnish.

Born de la Cerda, Calatravan knight,

Count of Segura, fourth Duke of Bedmar,

Offshoot from that high stock of old Castile

Whose topmost branch is proud Medina Celi—

Such titles with their blazonry are his

Who keeps this fortress, its sworn governor,

Lord of the valley, master of the town,

Commanding whom he will, himself commanded

By Christ his Lord who sees him from the Cross

And from bright heaven where the Mother pleads;—

By good Saint James upon the milk-white steed,

Who leaves his bliss to fight for chosen Spain;—

By the dead gaze of all his ancestors;—

And by the mystery of his Spanish blood

Charged with the awe and glories of the past.

See now with soldiers in his front and rear

He winds at evening through the narrow streets

That toward the Castle gate climb devious:

His charger, of fine Andalusian stock,

An Indian beauty, black but delicate,

Is conscious of the herald trumpet note,

The gathering glances, and familiar ways

That lead fast homeward: she forgets fatigue,

And at the light touch of the master's spur

Thrills with the zeal to bear him royally,

Arches her neck and clambers up the stones

As if disdainful of the difficult steep.

Night-black the charger, black the rider's plume,

But all between is bright with morning hues—

Seems ivory and gold and deep blue gems,

And starry flashing steel and pale vermilion,

All set in jasper: on his surcoat white

Glitter the sword-belt and the jeweled hilt,

Red on the back and breast the holy cross,

And 'twixt the helmet and the soft-spun white

Thick tawny wavelets like the lion's mane

Turn backward from his brow, pale, wide, erect,

Shadowing blue eyes—blue as the rain-washed sky

That braced the early stem of Gothic kings

He claims for ancestry. A goodly knight,

A noble caballero, broad of chest

And long of limb. So much the August sun,

Now in the west but shooting half its beams

Past a dark rocky profile toward the plain,

At windings of the path across the slope

Makes suddenly luminous for all who see:

For women smiling from the terraced roofs;

For boys that prone on trucks with head up-propped

Lazy and curious, stare irreverent;

For men who make obeisance with degrees

Of good-will shading towards servility,

Where good-will ends and secret fear begins

And curses, too, low-muttered through the teeth,

Explanatory to the God of Shem.

Five, grouped within a whitened tavern court

Of Moorish fashion, where the trellised vines

Purpling above their heads make odorous shade,

Note through the open door the passers-by,

Getting some rills of novelty to speed

The lagging stream of talk and help the wine,

'Tis Christian to drink wine: whoso denies

His flesh at bidding save of Holy Church,

Let him beware and take to Christian sins

Lest he be taxed with Moslem sanctity.

The souls are five, the talkers only three.

(No time, most tainted by wrong faith and rule,

But holds some listeners and dumb animals.)

Mine Host is one: he with the well-arched nose,

Soft-eyed, fat-handed, loving men for nought

But his own humour, patting old and young

Upon the back, and mentioning the cost

With confidential blandness, as a tax

That he collected much against his will

From Spaniards who were all his bosom friends:

Warranted Christian—else how keep an inn,

Which calling asks true faith? though like his wine

Of cheaper sort, a trifle over-new.

His father was a convert, chose the chrism

As men choose physic, kept his chimney warm

With smokiest wood upon a Saturday,

Counted his gains and grudges on a chaplet,

And crossed himself asleep for fear of spies;

Trusting the God of Israel would see

'Twas Christian tyranny that made him base.

Our host his son was born ten years too soon,

Had heard his mother call him Ephraim,

Knew holy things from common, thought it sin

To feast on days when Israel's children mourned,

So had to be converted with his sire,

To doff the awe he learned as Ephraim,

And suit his manners to a Christian name.

But infant awe, that unborn moving thing,

Dies with what nourished it, can never rise

From the dead womb and walk and seek new pasture.

Thus baptism seemed to him a merry game

Not tried before, all sacraments a mode

Of doing homage for one's property,

And all religions a queer human whim

Or else a vice, according to degrees:

As, 'tis a whim to like your chestnuts hot,

Burn your own mouth and draw your face awry,

A vice to pelt frogs with them—animals

Content to take life coolly. And Lorenzo

Would have all lives made easy, even lives

Of spiders and inquisitors, yet still

Wishing so well to flies and Moors and Jews

He rather wished the others easy death;

For loving all men clearly was deferred

Till all men loved each other. Such mine Host,

With chiselled smile caressing Seneca,

The solemn mastiff leaning on his knee.

His right-hand guest is solemn as the dog,

Square-faced and massive: Blasco is his name,

A prosperous silversmith from Aragon;

In speech not silvery, rather tuned as notes

From a deep vessel made of plenteous iron,

Or some great bell of slow but certain swing

That, if you only wait, will tell the hour

As well as flippant clocks that strike in haste

And set off chiming a superfluous tune—

Like Juan there, the spare man with the lute,

Who makes you dizzy with his rapid tongue,

Whirring athwart your mind with comment swift

On speech you would have finished by-and-by,

Shooting your bird for you while you are loading,

Cheapening your wisdom as a pattern known,

Woven by any shuttle on demand.

Can never sit quite still, too: sees a wasp

And kills it with a movement like a flash;

Whistles low notes or seems to thrum his lute

As a mere hyphen 'twixt two syllables

Of any steadier man; walks up and down

And snuffs the orange flowers and shoots a pea

To hit a streak of light let through the awning.

Has a queer face: eyes large as plums, a nose

Small, round, uneven, like a bit of wax

Melted and cooled by chance. Thin-fingered, lithe,

And as a squirrel noiseless, startling men

Only by quickness. In his speech and look

A touch of graceful wildness, as of things

Not trained or tamed for uses of the world;

Most like the Fauns that roamed in days of old

About the listening whispering woods, and shared

The subtler sense of sylvan ears and eyes

Undulled by scheming thought, yet joined the rout

Of men and women on the festal days,

And played the syrinx too, and knew love's pains,

Turning their anguish into melody.

For Juan was a minstrel still, in times

When minstrelsy was held a thing outworn.

Spirits seem buried and their epitaph

Is writ in Latin by severest pens,

Yet still they flit above the trodden grave

And find new bodies, animating them

In quaint and ghostly way with antique souls.

So Juan was a troubadour revived,

Freshening life's dusty road with babbling rills

Of wit and song, living 'mid harnessed men

With limbs ungalled by armour, ready so

To soothe them weary, and to cheer them sad.

Guest at the board, companion in the camp,

A crystal mirror to the life around,

Flashing the comment keen of simple fact

Defined in words ; lending brief lyric voice

To grief and sadness; hardly taking note

Of difference betwixt his own and others';

But rather singing as a listener

To the deep moans, the cries, the wild strong joys

Of universal Nature, old yet young.

Such Juan, the third talker, shimmering bright

As butterfly or bird with quickest life.

The silent Roldan has his brightness too,

But only in his spangles and rosettes.

His parti-coloured vest and crimson hose

Are dulled with old Valencian dust, his eyes

With straining fifty years at gilded balls

To catch them dancing, or with brazen looks

At men and women as he made his jests

Some thousand times and watched to count the pence

His wife was gathering. His olive face

Has an old writing in it, characters

Stamped deep by grins that had no merriment,

The soul's rude mark proclaiming all its blank;

Aa on some faces that have long grown old

In lifting tapers up to forms obscene

On ancient walls and chuckling with false zest

To please my lord, who gives the larger fee

For that hard industry in apishness.

Roldan would gladly never laugh again;

Pensioned, he would be grave as any ox,

And having beans and crumbs and oil secured

Would borrow no man's jokes for evermore.

'Tis harder now because his wife is gone,

Who had quick feet, and danced to ravishment

Of every ring jewelled with Spanish eyes,

But died and left this boy, lame from his birth,

I!

And sad and obstinate, though when he will

He sings God-taught such marrow-thrilling strains

As seem the very voice of dying Spring,

A flute-like wail that mourns the blossoms gone,

And sinks, and is not, like their fragrant breath,

With fine transition on the trembling air.

He sits as if imprisoned by some fear,

Motionless, with wide eyes that seem not made

For hungry glancing of a twelve-year'd boy

To mark the living thing that he could teaze,

But for the gaze of some primeval sadness

Dark twin with light in the creative ray.

This little Pablo has his spangles too,

And large rosettes to hide his poor left foot

Rounded like any hoof (his mother thought

God willed it so to punish all her sins).

I said the souls were five—besides the dog.

But there was still a sixth, with wrinkled face,

Grave and disgusted with al l merriment

Not less than Boldan. It is Annibal,

The experienced monkey who performs the tricks,

Jumps through the hoops, and carries round the hat.

Once full of sallies and impromptu feats,

Now cautious not to light on aught that's new,

Lest he be whipped to do it o'er again

From A to Z, and make the gentry laugh:

A misanthropic monkey, grey and grim,

Bearing a lot that has no remedy

For want of concert in the monkey tribe.

We see the company, above their heads

The braided matting, golden as ripe corn,

Stretched in a curving strip close by the grapes,

Elsewhere rolled back to greet the cooler sky;

A fountain near, vase-shapen and broad-lipped,

Where timorous birds alight with tiny feet,

And hesitate and bend wise listening ears,

And fly away again with undipped beak.

On the stone floor the juggler's heaped-up goods,

Carpet and hoops, viol and tambourine,

Where Annibal sits perched with brows severe,

A serious ape whom none take seriously,

Obliged in this fool's world to earn his nuts

By hard buffoonery. We see them all,

And hear their talk—the talk of Spanish men,

With Southern intonation, vowels turned

Caressingly between the consonants,

Persuasive, willing, with such intervals

As music borrows from the wooing birds,

That plead with subtly curving, sweet descent—

And yet can quarrel, as these Spaniards can.

 

Juan (near the doorway).

You hear the trumpet? There's old Ramon's blast.

No bray but his can shake the air so well.

He takes his trumpeting as solemnly

As angel charged to wake the dead; thinks war

Was made for trumpeters, and their great art

Made solely for themselves who understand it.

His features all have shaped themselves to blowing,

And when his trumpet's bagged or left at home

He seems a chattel in a broker's booth,

A spoutless watering-can, a promise to pay

No sum particular. O fine old Ramon!

The blasts get louder and the clattering hoofs;

They crack the ear as well as heaven's thunder

For owls that listen blinking. There's the banner.

Host (joining him: the others follow to the door).

The Duke has finished reconnoitring, then?

We shall hear news. They say he means a sally—

Would strike El Zagal's Moors as they push home

Like ants with booty heavier than themselves;

Then, joined by other nobles with their bands,

Lay siege to Guadix. Juan, you're a bird

That nest within the Castle. What say you?

 

Juan.

Nought, I say nought. 'Tis but a toilsome game

To bet upon that feather Policy,

And guess where after twice a hundred puffs

'Twill catch another feather crossing it:

Guess how the Pope will blow and how the king;

What force my lady's fan has; how a cough

Seizing the Padre's throat may raise a gust,

And how the queen may sigh the feather down.

Such catching at imaginary threads,

Such spinning twisted air, is not for me.

If I should want a game, I'll rather bet

On racing snails, two large, slow, lingering snails—

No spurring, equal weights—a chance sublime,

Nothing to guess at, pure uncertainty.

Here comes the Duke. They give but feeble shouts.

And some look sour.

 

Host.

That spoils a fair occasion.

Civility brings no conclusions with it,

And cheerful Vivas make the moments glide

Instead of grating like a rusty wheel.

 

Juan.

O they are dullards, kick because they're stung,

And bruise a friend to show they hate a wasp.

Host.

Best treat your wasp with delicate regard;

When the right moment comes say, "By your leave,"

Use your heel—so! and make an end of him.

That's if we talked of wasps; but our young Duke—

Spain holds not a more gallant gentleman.

Live, live, Duke Silva! Tis a rare smile he has,

But seldom seen.

 

Juan.

A true hidalgo's smile,

That gives much favour, but beseeches none.

His smile is sweetened by his gravity:

It comes like dawn upon Sierra snows,

Seeming more generous for the coldness gone;

Breaks from the calm—a sudden opening flower

On dark deep waters : now a chalice shut,

A mystic shrine, the next a full-rayed star,

Thrilling, pulse-quickening as a living word.

I'll make a song of that.

 

Host.

Prithee, not now.

You'll fall to staring like a wooden saint,

And wag your head as it were set on wires.

Here's fresh sherbet. Sit, be good company.

(To Blasco) You are a stranger, sir, and cannot know

How our Duke's nature suits his princely frame.

 

Blasco.

Nay, but I marked his spurs—chased cunningly!

A duke should know good gold and silver plate;

Then he will know the quality of mine.

I've ware for tables and for altars too,

Our Lady in all sizes, crosses, bells:

He'll need such weapons full as much as swords

If he would capture any Moorish town.

For, let me tell you, when a mosque is cleansed . . .

 

Juan.

The demons fly so thick from sound of bells

And smell of incense, you may see the air

Streaked with them as with smoke. Why, they are spirits:

You may well think how crowded they must be

To make a sort of haze.

 

 

Blasco.

I knew not that.

Still, they're of smoky nature, demons are;

And since you say so—well, it proves the more

The need of bells and censers. Ay, your Duke

Sat well: a true hidalgo. I can judge—

Of harness specially. I saw the camp,

The royal camp at Velez Malaga.

'Twas like the court of heaven—such liveries!

And torches carried by the score at night

Before the nobles. Sirs, I made a dish

To set an emerald in would fit a crown,

For Don Alonzo, lord of Aguilar.

Your Duke's no whit behind him in his mien

Or harness either. But you seem to say

The people love him not.

 

Host.

They've nought against him.

But certain winds will make men's temper bad.

When the Solano blows hot venomed breath,

It acts upon men's knives: steel takes to stabbing

Which else, with cooler winds, were honest steel,

Cutting but garlick. There's a wind just now

Blows right from Seville—

 

Blasco.

Ay, you mean the wind . . .

Yes, yes, a wind that's rather hot . . .

 

Host.

With faggots.

 

Juan.

A wind that suits not with our townsmen's blood.

Abram, 'tis said, objected to be scorched,

And, as the learned Arabs vouch, he gave

The antipathy in full to Ishmael.

'Tis true, these patriarchs had their oddities.

 

Blasco.

Their oddities? I'm of their mind, I know.

Though, as to Abraham and Ishmael,

I'm an old Christian, and owe nought to them

Or any Jew among them. But I know

We made a stir in Saragossa—we:

The men of Aragon ring hard—true metal.

Sirs, I'm no friend to heresy, but then

A Christian's money is not safe. As how?

A lapsing Jew or any heretic

May owe me twenty ounces: suddenly

He's prisoned, suffers penalties—'tis well:

If men will not believe, 'tis good to make them,

But let the penalties fall on them alone.

The Jew is stripped, his goods are confiscate;

Now, where, I pray you, go my twenty ounces?

God knows, and perhaps the King may, but not I.

And more, my son may lose his young wife's dower

Because 'twas promised since her father's soul

Fell to wrong thinking. How was I to know?

I could but use my sense and cross myself.

Christian is Christian—I give in—but still

Taxing is taxing, though you call it holy.

We Saragossans liked not this new tax

They call the—nonsense, I'm from Aragon!

I speak too bluntly. But, for Holy Church,

No man believes more.

 

Host.

Nay, sir, never fear.

Good Master Roldan here is no delator.

Roldan (starting from a reverie).

You speak to me, sirs? I perform to-night—

The Plaça Santiago. Twenty tricks,

All different. I dance, too. And the boy

Sings like a bird. I crave your patronage.

 

Blasco.

Faith, you shall have it, sir. In travelling

 

Roldan.

I? no.

I pray your pardon. I've a twinging knee,

That makes it hard to listen. You were saying?

 

Blasco.

Nay, it was nought. (Aside to Host) Is it his deepness?

 

Host.

No.

He's deep in nothing but his poverty.

 

Blasco.

But 'twas his poverty that made me think . . .

Host.

His piety might wish to keep the feasts

As well as fasts. No fear; he hears not.

 

Blasco.

I speak my mind about the penalties,

Good.

But, look you, I'm against assassination.

You know my meaning—Master Arbues,

The grand Inquisitor in Aragon.

I knew nought—paid no copper towards the deed.

But I was there, at prayers, within the church.

How could I help it? Why, the saints were there,

And looked straight on above the altars. I . . .

 

Juan.

Looked carefully another way.

 

Blasco.

Why, at my beads.

'Twas after midnight, and the canons all

Were chanting matins. I was not in church

To gape and stare. I saw the martyr kneel:

I never liked the look of him alive—

He was no martyr then. I thought he made

An ugly shadow as he crept athwart

The bands of light, then passed within the gloom

By the broad pillar. 'Twas in our great Seo,

At Saragossa. The pillars tower so large

You cross yourself to see them, lest white Death

Should hide behind their dark. And so it was.

I looked away again and told my beads

Unthinkingly; but still a man has ears;

And right across the chanting came a sound

As if a tree had crashed above the roar

Of some great torrent. So it seemed to me;

For when you listen long and shut your eyes

Small sounds get thunderous. He had a shell

Like any lobster: a good iron suit

From top to toe beneath the innocent serge.

That made the tell-tale sound. But then came shrieks.

The chanting stopped and turned to rushing feet,

And in the midst lay Master Arbues,

Felled like an ox. 'Twas wicked butchery.

Some honest men had hoped it would have scared

 

 

The Inquisition out of Aragon.

'Twas money thrown away—I would say, crime—

Clean thrown away.

 

Host.

That was a pity now.

Next to a missing thrust, what irks me most

Is a neat well-aimed stroke that kills your man,

Yet ends in mischief—as in Aragon.

It was a lesson to our people here.

Else there's a monk within our city walls,

A holy, high-born, stern Dominican,

They might have made the great mistake to kill.

 

Blasco.

What! is he? . . .

 

Host.

Yes; a Master Arbues

Of finer quality. The Prior here

And uncle to our Duke.

 

Blasco.

He will want plate:

A holy pillar or a crucifix.

But, did you say, he was like Arbues?

 

Juan.

As a black eagle with gold beak and claws

Is like a raven. Even in his cowl,

Covered from head to foot, the Prior is known

From all the black herd round. When he uncovers

And stands white-frocked, with ivory face, his eyes

Black-gleaming, black his coronal of hair

Like shredded jasper, he seems less a man

With struggling aims, than pure incarnate Will,

Fit to subdue rebellious nations, nay,

That human flesh he breathes in, charged with passion

Which quivers in his nostril and his hp,

But disciplined by long in-dwelling will

To silent labour in the yoke of law.

A truce to thy comparisons, Lorenzo!

Thine is no subtle nose for difference;

'Tis dulled by feigning and civility.

 

 

Host.

Pooh, thou'rt a poet, crazed with finding words

May stick to things and seem like qualities.

No pebble is a pebble in thy hands:

'Tis a moon out of work, a barren egg,

Or twenty things that no man sees but thee.

Our Father Isidor's—a living saint,

And that is heresy, some townsmen think:

Saints should be dead, according to the Church.

My mind is this: the Father is so holy

'Twere sin to wish his soul detained from bliss.

Easy translation to the realms above,

The shortest journey to the seventh heaven,

Is what I'd never grudge him.

 

Blasco.

Piously said.

Look you, I'm dutiful, obey the Church

When there's no help for it: I mean to say,

When Pope and Bishop and all customers

Order alike. But there be bishops now,

And were aforetime, who have held it wrong,

This hurry to convert the Jews. As how?

Your Jew pays tribute to the bishop, say.

That's good, and must please God, to see the Church

Maintained in ways that ease the Christian's purse.

Convert the Jew, and where's the tribute, pray?

He lapses, too: 'tis slippery work, conversion:

And then the holy taxing carries off

His money at one sweep. No tribute more!

He's penitent or burnt, and there's an end.

Now guess which pleases God . . .

 

Juan.

Whether he likes

A well-burnt Jew or well-fed bishop best.

[While Juan put this problem theologic

Entered, with resonant step, another guest—

A soldier: all his keenness in his sword,

His eloquence in scars upon his cheek,

His virtue in much slaying of the Moor:

With brow well-creased in horizontal folds

To save the space, as having nought to do:

Lips prone to whistle whisperingly—no tune,

But trotting rhythm: meditative eyes,

Most often fixed upon his legs and spurs:

Styled Captain Lopez.]

Lopez.

At your service, sirs.

 

Juan.

Ha, Lopez? Why, thou hast a face full-charged

As any herald's. What news of the wars?

 

Lopez.

Such news as is most bitter on my tongue.

 

Juan.

Then spit it forth.

 

Host.

Sit, Captain: here's a cup,

Fresh-filled. What news?

 

Lopez.

'Tis bad. We make no sally:

We sit still here and wait whate'er the Moor

Shall please to do.

 

Host.

Some townsmen will be glad.

 

Lopez.

Glad, will they be? But I'm not glad, not I,

Nor any Spanish soldier of clean blood.

But the Duke's wisdom is to wait a siege

Instead of laying one. Therefore—meantime—

He will be married straightway.

 

Host.

Ha, ha, ha!

Thy speech is like an hourglass; turn it down

The other way, 'twill stand as well, and say

The Duke will wed, therefore he waits a siege.

But what say Don Diego and the Prior?

The holy uncle and the fiery Don?

 

Lopez.

O there be sayings running all abroad

As thick as nuts o'erturned. No man need lack.

Some say, 'twas letters changed the Duke's intent:

From Malaga, says Bias. From Rome, says Quintin.

From spies at Guadix, says Sebastian.

Some say, 'tis all a pretext—say, the Duke

Is but a lapdog hanging on a skirt,

Turning his eyeballs upward like a monk:

'Twas Don Diego said that—so says Bias;

Last week, he said . . .

 

Juan.

O do without the "said!"

Open thy mouth and pause in lieu of it.

I had as lief be pelted with a pea

Irregularly in the self-same spot

As hear such iteration without rule,

Such torture of uncertain certainty.

 

Lopez.

Santiago! Juan, thou art hard to please.

I speak not for my own delighting, I.

I can be silent, I.

 

Blasco.

Nay, sir, speak on!

I like your matter well. I deal in plate.

This wedding touches me. Who is the bride?

 

Lopez.

One that some say the Duke does ill to wed.

One that his mother reared—God rest her soul!

Duchess Diana—she who died last year.

A bird picked up away from any nest.

Her name—the Duchess gave it—is Fedalma.

No harm in that. But the Duke stoops, they say,

In wedding her. And that's the simple truth.

 

Juan.

Thy simple truth is but a false opinion:

The simple truth of asses who believe

Their thistle is the very best of food.

Fie, Lopez, thou a Spaniard with a sword

Dreamest a Spanish noble ever stoops

By doing honour to the maid he loves!

He stoops alone when he dishonours her.

 

Lopez.

Nay, I said nought against her.

 

Juan.

Better not.

Else I would challenge thee to fight with wits,

And spear thee through and through ere thou couldst draw

The bluntest word. Yes, yes, consult thy spurs:

Spurs are a sign of knighthood, and should tell thee

That knightly love is blent with reverence

As heavenly air is blent with heavenly blue.

Don Silva's heart beats to a loyal tune:

He wills no highest-born Castilian dame,

Betrothed to highest noble, should be held

More sacred than Fedalma. He enshrines

Her virgin image for the general awe

And for his own—will guard her from the world,

Nay, his profaner self, lest he should lose

The place of his religion. He does well.

Nought can come closer to the poet's strain.

 

Host.

Or farther from his practice, Juan, eh?

If thou'rt a sample?

 

Juan.

Wrong there, my Lorenzo!

Touching Fedalma the poor poet plays

A finer part even than the noble Duke.

 

Lopez.

By making ditties, singing with round mouth

Likest a crowing cock? Thou meanest that?

 

Juan.

Lopez, take physic, thou art getting ill,

Growing descriptive; 'tis unnatural.

I mean, Don Silva's love expects reward,

Kneels with a heaven to come; but the poor poet

Worships without reward, nor hopes to find

A heaven save in his worship. He adores

The sweetest woman for her sweetness' sake,

Joys in the love that was not born for him,

Because 'tis lovingness, as beggars joy,

Warming their naked limbs on wayside walls,

To hear a tale of princes and their glory.

There's a poor poet (poor, I mean, in coin)

Worships Fedalma with so true a love

That if her silken robe were changed for rags,

And she were driven out to stony wilds

Barefoot, a scorned wanderer, he would kiss

Her ragged garment's edge, and only ask

For leave to be her slave. Digest that, friend,

Or let it lie upon thee as a weight

To check light thinking of Fedalma.

 

Lopez.

I?

I think no harm of her; I thank the saints

I wear a sword and peddle not in thinking.

'Tis Father Marcos says she'll not confess

And loves not holy water; says her blood

Is infidel; says the Duke's wedding her

Is union of light with darkness.

 

Juan.

Tush!

[Now Juan—who by snatches touched his lute

With soft arpeggio, like a whispered dream

Of sleeping music, while he spoke of love—

In jesting anger at the soldier's talk

Thrummed loud and fast, then faster and more loud,

Till, as he answered "Tush!" he struck a chord

Sudden as whip-crack close by Lopez' ear.

Mine host and Blasco smiled, the mastiff barked,

Roldan looked up and Annibal looked down,

Cautiously neutral in so new a case;

The boy raised longing, listening eyes that seemed

An exiled spirit's waiting in strained hope

Of voices coming from the distant land.

But Lopez bore the assault like any rock:

That was not what he drew his sword at—he!

He spoke with neck erect.]

 

Lopez.

If that's a hint

The company should ask thee for a song,

Sing, then!

 

Host.

Ay, Juan, sing, and jar no more.

Something brand new. Thou'rt wont to make my

A test of novelties. Hast thou aught fresh?

 

Juan.

As fresh as rain-drops. Here's a Cancion

Springs like a tiny mushroom delicate

Out of the priest's foul scandal of Fedalma.

[He preluded with querying intervals,

Rising, then falling just a semitone,

In minor cadence—sound with poised wing

Hovering and quivering towards the needed fall.

Then in a voice that shook the willing air

With masculine vibration sang this song.

Should I long that dark were fair ?

Say, O song!

Lacks my love aught, that I should long f

Dark the night, with breath all flowers,

And tender broken voice that Jills

With ravishment the listening hours:

Whisperings, wooings,

Liquid ripples and soft ring-dove cooings

In low-toned rhythm that love's aching stills.

Dark the night,

Yet is she bright,

For in her dark she brings the mystic star,

Trembling yet strong, as is the voice of love,

From some unknown afar.

O radiant Dark! O darkly-fostered ray!

Thou hast a joy too deep for shallow Day.

While Juan sang, all round the tavern court

Gathered a constellation of black eyes.

Fat Lola leaned upon the balcony

With arms that might have pillowed Hercules

(Who built, 'tis known, the mightiest Spanish towns);

Thin Alda's face, sad as a wasted passion,

Leaned o'er the nodding baby's; 'twixt the rails

The little Pepe showed his two black beads,

His flat-ringed hair and small Semitic nose,

Complete and tiny as a new-born minnow;

Patting his head and holding in her arms

The baby senior, stood Lorenzo's wife

All negligent, her kerchief discomposed

By little clutches, woman's coquetry

Quite turned to mother's cares and sweet content.

These on the balcony, while at the door

Gazed the lank boys and lazy-shouldered men.

'Tis likely too the rats and insects peeped,

Being southern Spanish ready for a lounge.

The singer smiled, as doubtless Orpheus smiled,

To see the animals both great and small,

The mountainous elephant and scampering mouse,

Held by the ears in decent audience;

Then, when mine host desired the strain once more,

He fell to preluding with rhythmic change

Of notes recurrent, soft as pattering drops

That fall from off the eaves in faery dance

When clouds are breaking; till at measured pause

He struck with strength, in rare responsive chords.]

 

Host.

Come, then, a gayer ballad, if thou wilt:

I quarrel not with change. What say you, Captain?

 

Lopez.

All's one to me. I note no change of tune,

Not I, save in the ring of horses' hoofs,

Or in the drums and trumpets when they call

To action or retreat. I ne'er could see

The good of singing.

 

Blasco.

Why, it passes time—

Saves you from getting over-wise: that's good.

For, look you, fools are merry here below,

Yet they will go to heaven all the same,

Having the sacraments; and, look you, heaven

Is a long holiday, and solid men,

Used to much business, might be ill at ease

Not liking play. And so, in travelling,

I shape myself betimes to idleness

And take fools' pleasures . . .

 

Host.

Hark, the song begins!'

Juan (sings).

Maiden, crowned with glossy blackness,

Lithe as panther forest-roaming,

Long-armed naiad, when she dances,

On a stream of ether floating—

Bright, O bright Fedalma!

Form all curves like softness drifted,

Wave-kissed marble roundly dimpling,

Far-off music slowly winged,

Gently rising, gently sinking—

Bright, O bright Fedalma!

Pure as rain-tear on a rose-leaf,

Cloud high-born in noonday spotless,

Sudden perfect as the dew-bead,

Gem of earth and sky begotten—

Bright, O bright Fedalma!

Beauty has no mortal father,

Holy light her form engendered

Out of tremor, yearning, gladness,

Presage sweet and joy remembered—

Child of Light, Fedalma!

 

Blasco.

Faith, a good song, sung to a stirring tune.

I like the words returning in a round;

It gives a sort of sense. Another such!

 

Roldan (rising).

Sirs, you will hear my boy. "'tis very hard

When gentles sing for nought to all the town.

How can a poor man live? And now 'tis time

I go to the Plaça—who will give me pence

When he can hear hidalgos and give nought?

 

Juan.

True, friend. Be pacified. I'll sing no more.

Go thou, and we will follow. Never fear.

My voice is common as the ivy-leaves,

Plucked in all seasons—bears no price; thy boy's

Is like the almond blossoms. Ah, he's lame!

 

Host.

Load him not heavily. Here, Pedro! help.

Go with them to the Plaça, take the hoops.

The sights will pay thee.

 

Blasco.

I'll be there anon,

And set the fashion with a good white coin.

But let us see as well as hear.

 

Host.

Ay, prithee.

Some tricks, a dance.

 

Blasco.

Yes, 'tis more rational.

Roldan (turning round with the bundle and

monkey on his shoulders).

You shall see all, sirs. There's no man in Spain

Knows his art better. I've a twinging knee

Oft hinders dancing, and the boy is lame.

But no man's monkey has more tricks than mine.

[At this high praise the gloomy Armibal,

Mournful professor of high drollery,

Seemed to look gloomier, and the little troop

Went slowly out, escorted from the door

By all the idlers. From the balcony

Slowly subsided the black radiance

Of agate eyes, and broke in chattering sounds,

Coaxings and trampings, and the small hoarse squeak

Of Pepe's reed. And our group talked again.]

 

Host.

I'll get this juggler, if he quits him well,

An audience here as choice as can be lured.

For me, when a poor devil does his best,

'Tis my delight to soothe his soul with praise.

What though the best be bad? remains the good

Of throwing food to a lean hungry dog.

I'd give up the best jugglery in life

To see a miserable juggler pleased.

But that's my humour. Crowds are malcontent

And cruel as the Holy .... Shall we go?

All of us now together?

 

Lopez.

Well, not I.

I may be there anon, but first I go

To the lower prison. There is strict command

That all our gypsy prisoners shall to-night

Be lodged within the fort. They've forged enough

Of balls and bullets—used up all the metal.

At morn to-morrow they must carry stones

Up the south tower. 'Tis a fine stalwart band,

Fit for the hardest tasks. Some say, the queen

Would have the Gypsies banished with the Jews.

Some say, 'twere better harness them for work.

They'd feed on any filth and save the Spaniard.

Some say—but I must go. 'Twill soon be time

To head the escort. We shall meet again.

 

Blasco.

Go, sir, with God (exit Lopez). A very proper man,

And soldierly. But, for this banishment

Some men are hot on, it ill pleases me.

The Jews, now (sirs, if any Christian here

Had Jews for ancestors, I blame him not;

We cannot all be Goths of Aragon)—

Jews are not fit for heaven, but on earth

They are most useful. 'Tis the same with mules,

Horses, or oxen, or with any pig

Except Saint Anthony's. They are useful here

(The Jews, I mean) though they may go to hell.

And, look you, useful sins—why Providence

Sends Jews to do 'em, saving Christian souls.

The very Gypsies, curbed and harnessed well,

Would make draught cattle, feed on vermin too,

Cost less than grazing brutes, and turn bad food

To handsome carcasses; sweat at the forge

For little wages, and well drilled and flogged

Might work like slaves, some Spaniards looking on.

I deal in plate, and am no priest to say

What God may mean, save when he means plain sense;

But when he sent the Gypsies wandering

In punishment because they sheltered not

Our Lady and Saint Joseph (and no doubt

Stole the small ass they fled with into Egypt),

Why send them here? 'Tis plain he saw the use

They'd be to Spaniards. Shall we banish them,

And tell God we know better? 'Tis a sin.

They talk of vermin; but, sirs, vermin large

Were made to eat the small, or else to eat

The noxious rubbish, and picked Gypsy men

Might serve in war to climb, be killed, and fall

To make an easy ladder. Once I saw

A Gypsy sorcerer, at a spring and grasp

Kill one who came to seize him: talk of strength!

Nay, swiftness too, for while we crossed ourselves

Ha vanished like—say, like . . .

 

Juan.

A swift black snake,

Or like a living arrow fledged with will.

 

Blasco.

Why, did you see him, pray?

 

Juan.

Not then, but now,

As painters see the many in the one.

We have a Gypsy in Bedmar whose frame

Nature compacted with such fine selection,

'Twould yield a dozen types: all Spanish knights,

From him who slew Rolando at the pass

Up to the mighty Cid; all deities,

Thronging Olympus in fine attitudes;

Or all hell's heroes whom the poet saw

Tremble like lions, writhe like demigods.

 

Host.

Pause not yet, Juan—more hyperbole!

Shoot upward still and flare in meteors

Before thou sink to earth in dull brown fact.

 

Blasco.

Nay, give me fact, high shooting suits not me.

I never stare to look for soaring larks.

What is this Gypsy?

 

Host.

Chieftain of a band,

The Moor's allies, whom full a month ago

Our Duke surprised and brought as captives home.

He needed smiths, and doubtless the brave Moor

Has missed some useful scouts and archers too.

Juan's fantastic pleasure is to watch

These Gypsies forging, and to hold discourse

With this great chief, whom he transforms at will

To sage or warrior, and like the sun

Plays daily at fallacious alchemy,

Turns sand to gold and dewy spider-webs

To myriad rainbows. Still the sand is sand,

And still in sober shade you see the web.

'Tis so, I'll wager, with his Gypsy chief—

A piece of stalwart cunning, nothing more.

 

Juan.

No! My invention had been all too poor

To frame this Zarca as I saw him first.

'Twas when they stripped him. In his chieftain's gear,

Amidst his men he seemed a royal barb

Followed by wild-maned Andalusian colts.

He had a necklace of a strange device

In finest gold of unknown workmanship,

But delicate as Moorish, fit to kiss

Fedalma's neck, and play in shadows there.

He wore fine mail, a rich-wrought sword and belt,

And on his surcoat black a broidered torch,

A pine-branch flaming, grasped by two dark hands.

But when they stripped him of his ornaments

It was the baubles lost their grace, not he.

His eyes, his mouth, his nostril, all inspired

With scorn that mastered utterance of scorn,

With power to check all rage until it turned

To ordered force, unleashed on chosen prey—

It seemed the soul within him made his limbs

And made them grand. The baubles were well gone.

He stood the more a king, when bared to man.

 

Blasco.

Maybe. But nakedness is bad for trade,

And is not decent. Well-wrought metal, sir,

Is not a bauble. Had you seen the camp,

The royal camp at Velez Malaga,

Ponce de Leon and the other dukes,

The king himself and all his thousand knights

For bodyguard, 'twould not have left you breath

To praise a Gypsy thus. A man's a man;

But when you see a king, you see the work

Of many thousand men. King Ferdinand

Bears a fine presence, and hath proper limbs;

But what though he were shrunken as a relic?

You'd see the gold and gems that cased him o'er,

And all the pages round him in brocade,

And all the lords, themselves a sort of kings,

Doing him reverence. That strikes an awe

Into a common man—especially

A judge of plate.

 

Host.

Faith, very wisely said.

Purge thy speech, Juan. It is over-full

Of this same Gypsy. Praise the Catholic King.

And come now, let us see the juggler's skill.

The Plaça Santiago.

'Tis daylight still, but now the golden crows

Uplifted by the angel on the dome

Stands rayless in calm colour clear-defined

Against the northern blue; from turrets high

The flitting splendour sinks with folded wing

Dark-hid till morning, and the battlements

Wear soft relenting whiteness mellowed o'er

By summers generous and winters bland.

Now in the east the distance casts its veil

And gazes with a deepening earnestness.

The old rain-fretted mountains in their robes

Of shadow-broken grey; the rounded hills

Reddened with blood of Titans, whose huge limbs,

Entombed within, feed full the hardy flesh

Of cactus green and blue broad-sworded aloes;

The cypress soaring black above the lines

Of white court-walls; the jointed sugar-canes

Pale-golden with their feathers motionless

In the warm quiet:—all thought-teaching form

Utters itself in firm unshimmering hues.

For the great rock has screened the westering sun

That still on plains beyond streams vaporous gold

Among the branches; and within Bedmar

Has come the time of sweet serenity

When colour glows unglittering, and the soul

Of visible things shows silent happiness,

As that of lovers trusting though apart.

The ripe-cheeked fruits, the crimson-petalled flowers;

The winged life that pausing seems a gem

Cunningly carven on the dark green leaf;

The face of man with hues supremely blent

To difference fine as of a voice 'mid sounds :—

Each lovely light-dipped thing seems to emerge

Flushed gravely from baptismal sacrament.

All beauteous existence rests, yet wakes,

Lies still, yet conscious, with clear open eyes

And gentle breath and mild suffused joy.

'Tis day, but day that falls like melody

Repeated on a string with graver tones—

Tones such as linger in a long farewell.

The Plaça widens in the passive air—

The Plaça Santiago, where the church,

A mosque converted, shows an eyeless face

Red-checkered, faded, doing penance still—

Bearing with Moorish arch the imaged saint,

Apostle, baron, Spanish warrior,

Whose charger's hoofs trample the turbaned dead,

Whose banner with the Cross, the bloody sword

Flashes athwart the Moslem's glazing eye,

And mocks his trust in Allah who forsakes.

Up to the church the Plaça gently slopes,

In shape most like the pious palmer's shell,

Girdled with low white houses; high above

Tower the strong fortress and sharp-angled wall

And well-flanked castle gate. From o'er the roofs,

And from the shadowed patios cool, there spreads

The breath of flowers and aromatic leaves

Soothing the sense with bliss indefinite—

A baseless hope, a glad presentiment,

That curves the lip more softly, fills the eye

With more indulgent beam. And so it soothes,

So gently sways the pulses of the crowd

Who make a zone about the central spot

Chosen by Roldan for his theatre.

Maids with arched 'eyebrows, delicate - pencilled, dark,

Fold their round arms below the kerchief full;

Men shoulder little girls; and grandames grey,

But muscular still, hold babies on their arms;

While mothers keep the stout-legged boys in front

Against their skirts, as old Greek pictures show

The Glorious Mother with the Boy divine.

Youths keep the places for themselves, and roll

Large lazy eyes, and call recumbent dogs

 (For reasons deep below the reach of thought).

The old men cough with purpose, wish to hint

Wisdom within that cheapens jugglery,

Maintain a neutral air, and knit their brows

In observation. None are quarrelsome,

Noisy, or very merry; for their blood

Moves slowly into fervour—they rejoice

Like those dark birds that sweep with heavy wing,

Cheering their mates with melancholy cries.

But now the gilded balls begin to play

In rhythmic numbers, ruled by practice fine

Of eye and muscle: all the juggler's form

Consents harmonious in swift-gliding change,

Easily forward stretched or backward bent

With lightest step and movement circular

Found a fixed point: 'tis not the old Roldan now,

The dull, hard, weary, miserable man,

The soul all parched to languid appetite

And memory of desire: 'tis wondrous force

That moves in combination multiform

Towards conscious ends: 'tis Roldan glorious,

Holding all eyes like any meteor,

King of the moment save when Annibal

Divides the scene and plays the comic part,

Gazing with blinking glances up and down

Dancing and throwing nought and catching it,

With mimicry as merry as the tasks

Of penance-working shades in Tartarus.

Pablo stands passive, and a space apart,

Holding a viol, waiting for command.

Music must not be wasted, but must rise

As needed climax; and the audience

Is growing with late comers. Juan now,

And the familiar Host, with Blasco broad,

Find way made gladly to the inmost round

Studded with heads. Lorenzo knits the crowd

Into one family by showing all

Good-will and recognition. Juan casts

His large and rapid-measuring glance around;

But—with faint quivering, transient as a breath

Shaking a flame—his eyes make sudden pause

Where by the jutting angle of a street

Castle-ward leading, stands a female form,

A kerchief pale square-drooping o'er the brow,

About her shoulders dim brown serge—in garb

Most like a peasant woman from the vale,

Who might have lingered after marketing

To see the show. What tin-ill mysterious,

Kay-borne from orb to orb of conscious eyes,

The swift observing sweep of Juan's glance

Arrests an instant, then with prompting fresh

Diverts it lastingly? He turns at once

To watch the gilded balls, and nod and smile

At little round Pepita, blondest maid

In all Bedmar—Pepita, fair yet flecked,

Saucy of lip and nose, of hair as red

As breasts of robins stepping on the snow—

Who stands in front with little tapping feet,

And baby-dimpled hands that hide enclosed

Those sleeping crickets, the dark castanets.

But soon the gilded balls have ceased to play

And Annibal is leaping through the hoops,

That turn to twelve, meeting him as he flies

In the swift circle. Shuddering he leaps,

But with each spring flies swift and swifter still

To loud and louder shouts, while the great hoops

Are changed to smaller. Now the crowd is fired.

The motion swift, the living victim urged,

The imminent failure and repeated scape

Hurry all pulses and intoxicate

With subtle wine of passion many-mixt.

'Tis all about a monkey leaping hard

Till near to gasping; but it serves as well

As the great circus or arena dire,

Where these are lacking. Roldan cautiously

Slackens the leaps and lays the hoops to rest,

And Annibal retires with reeling brain

And backward stagger—pity, he could not smile!

Now Roldan spreads his carpet, now he shows

Strange metamorphoses: the pebble black

Changes to whitest egg within his hand;

A staring rabbit, with retreating ears.

Is swallowed by the air and vanishes;

He tells men's thoughts about the shaken dice,

Their secret choosings; makes the white beans pass

With causeless act sublime from cup to cup

Turned empty on the ground—diablerie

That pales the girls and puzzles all the boys:

These tricks are samples, hinting to the town

Roldan's great mastery. He tumbles next,

And Annibal is called to mock each feat

With arduous comicality and save

By rule romantic the great public mind

(And Roldan's body) from too serious strain.

But with the tumbling, lest the feats should fail,

And so need veiling in a haze of sound,

Pablo awakes the viol and the bow—

The masculine bow that draws the woman's heart

From out the strings and makes them cry, yearn, plead,

Tremble, exult, with mystic union

Of joy acute and tender suffering.

To play the viol and discreetly mix

Alternate with the bow's keen biting tones

The throb responsive to the finger's touch,

Was rarest skill that Pablo half had caught

From an old blind and wandering Catalan;

The other half was rather heritage

From treasure stored by generations past

In winding chambers of receptive sense.

The winged sounds exalt the thick-pressed crowd

With a new pulse in common, blending all

The gazing life into one larger soul

With dimly widened consciousness: as waves

In heightened movement tell of waves far off.

And the light changes; westward stationed clouds,

The sun's ranged outposts, luminous message spread,

Rousing quiescent things to doff their shade

And show themselves as added audience.

Now Pablo, letting fall the eager bow,

Solicits softer murmurs from the strings,

And now above them pours a wondrous voice

(Such as Greek reapers heard in Sicily)