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Here he reach'd
A taunt that clench'd his purpose like a blow ! White hands of farewell to my sire, who growl'd For fiery-short was Cyril's counter-scoff, An answer which, half-muffled in his beard,
And sharp I answer'd, touch'd upon the point Let so much out as gave us leave to go.
Where idle boys are cowards to their shame,
“Decide it here: why not? we are three to three." Then rode we with the old king across the lawns Beneath huge trees, a thousand rings of Spring Then spake the third, “But three to three? no In every bole, a song on every spray
More, more, for honor: every captain waits
More, more, some fifty on a side, that each
May breathe himself, and quick ! by overthrow Gather'd by night and peace, with each light air Of these or those, the question settled die." On our mail'd heads : but other thoughts than Peace Burnt in us, when we saw the embattled squares, “Yea," answer'd I, "for this wild wreath of air, And squadrons of the Prince, trampling the flowers This flake of rainbow flying on the highest With clamor: for among them rose a cry
Foam of men's deeds—this honor, if ye will. As if to greet the king : they made a halt;
It needs must be for honor if at all : The horses yell’d; they clash'd their arms; the drum Since, what decision ? if we fail, we fail, Beat; merrily-blowing shrill’d the martial fife; And if we win, we fail: she would not keep And in the blast and bray of the long horn * Her compact.” “Sdeath! but we will send to her," And serpent-throated bugle, undulated
Said Arac, “worthy reasons why she should The banner: anon to meet us lightly pranced Bide by this issue: let our missive thro', Three captains out; nor ever had I seen
And you shall have her answer by the word.' Such thews of men: the midmost and the highest Was Arac: all about his motion clung
“Boys !” shriek'd the old king, but vainlier than The shadow of his sister, as the beam
a hen Of the East, that play'd upon them, made them glance To her false daughters in the pool; for none Like those three stars of the airy Giant's zone, Regarded ; neither seem'd there more to say: That glitter burnish'd by the frosty dark;
Back rode we to my father's camp, and found And as the fiery Sirius alters hue,
He thrice had sent a herald to the gates, And bickers into red and emerald, shone
To learn if Ida yet would cede our claim, Their, morions, wash'd with morning, as they came. Or by denial flush her babbling wells
With her own people's life: three times he went: And I that prated peace, when first I heard The first, he blew and blew, but none appear'd: War-music, felt the blind wild beast of force,
He batter'd at the doors; none came: the next, Whose home is in the sinews of a man,
An awful voice within had warn'd him thence: Stir in me as to strike: then took the king
The third, and those eight daughters of the plough His three broad sons; with now a wandering hand Came sallying thro' the gates, and caught his hair, And now a pointed finger, told them all:
And so belabor'd him on rib and cheek A common light of smiles at our disguise
They made him wild: not less one glance he caught Broke from their lips, and, ere the windy jest Thro’ open doors of Ida station'd there Had labor'd down within his ample lungs,
Unshaken, clinging to her purpose, firm The genial giant, Arac, rolld himself
Tho' compass'd by two armies and the noise Thrice in the saddle, then burst out in words. Of arms; and standing like a stately Pine
Set in a cataract on an island-crag, “Our land invaded, 'sdeath! and he himself When storm is on the heights, and right and left Your captive, yet my father wills not war:
Suck'd from the dark heart of the long hills roll And, 'sdeath! myself, what care I, war or no? The torrents, dash'd to the vale: and yet her will But then this question of your troth remains: Bred will in me to overcome it or fall. And there 's a downright honest meaning in her; She flies too high, she flies too high! and yet
But when I told the king that I was pledged She ask'd but space and fairplay for her scheme: To fight in tourney for my bride, he clash'd She prest and prest it on me-I myself,
His iron palms together with a cry; What know I of these things ? but, life and soul ! Himself would tilt it out among the lads : I thought her half-right talking of her wrongs: But overborne by all his bearded lords I say she flies too high, 'sdeath! what of that? With reasons drawn from age and state, perforce I take her for the flower of womankind,
He yielded, wroth and red, with fierce demur: And so I often told her, right or wrong,
And many a bold knight started up in heat, And, Prince, she can be sweet to those she loves, And sware to combat for my claim till death. And, right or wrong, I care not: this is all, I stand upon her side: she made me swear it- All on this side the palace ran the field 'Sdeath,-and with solemn. rites by candlelight- Flat to the garden wall: and likewise here, Swear by St. something-I forget her name- Above the garden's glowing blossom-belts, Her that talk'd down the fifty wisest men:
A column’d entry shone and marble stairs, She was a princess too; and so I swore.
And great bronze valves, emboss'd with Tomyris Come, this is all; she will not: waive your claim, And what she did to Cyrus after fight, If not, the foughten field, what else, at once
But now fast barr'd: so here upon the flat Decides it, 'sdeath! against my father's will." All that long morn the lists were hammer'd up,
And all that morn the heralds to and fro, I lagg'd in answer loath to render up
With message and defiance, went and came; My precontract, and loath by brainless war
Last, Ida's answer, in a royal hand, To cleave the rift of difference deeper yet;
But shaken here and there, and rolling words
Oration-like. I kiss'd it and I read.
“O brother, you have known the pangs we felt, The woman's garment hid the woman's heart." What heats of indignation when we heard
Of those that iron-cramp'd their women's feet; All else confusion. Look you! the gray mare of lands in which at the altar the poor bride Is ill to live with, when her whinny shrills Gives her harsh groom for bridal-gift a scourge; From tile to scullery, and her small goodman of living hearts that crack within the fire
Shrinks in his arm-chair while the fires of Hell Where smoulder their dead despots; and of those, - Mix with his hearth: but you-she's yet a coltMothers,—that, all prophetic pity, fling
Take, break her: strongly groom'd and straitly curb'd Their pretty maids in the running flood, and swoops She might not rank with those detestable The vulture, beak and talon, at the heart
That let the bantling scald at home, and brawl Made for all noble motion: and I saw
Their rights or wrongs like potherbs in the street. That equal baseness lived in sleeker times
They say she's comely; there's the fairer chance : With smoother men : the old leaven leaven'd all: I like her none the less for rating at her! Millions of throats would bawl for civil rights, Besides, the woman wed is not as we, No woman named: therefore I set my face
But suffers change of frame. A lusty brace Against all men, and lived but for mine own. Of twins may weed her of her folly. Boy, Far off from men I built a fold for them:
The bearing and the training of a child I stored it full of rich memorial :
Is woman's wisdom." I fenced it round with gallant institutes,
Thus the hard old king:
I pored upon her letter which I held,
And on the “Follow, follow, thou shalt win :" Of baby troth, invalid, since my will
I thought on all the wrathful king had said, Seal'd not the bond-the striplings!—for their sportl–And how the strange betrothment was to end: I tamed my leopards : shall I not tame these ? Then I remember'd that burnt sorcerer's curse Or you? or I? for since you think me touch'd
That one should fight with shadows and should fall; In honor—what, I would not aught of false,
And like a flash the weird affection came: Is not our cause pure ? and whereas I know King, camp and college turn’d to hollow shows; Your prowess, Arac, and what mother's blood I seem'd to move in old memorial tilts, You draw from, fight; you failing, I abide
And doing battle with forgotten ghosts, What end soever: fail you will not. Still
To dream myself the shadow of a dream: Take not his life: he risk'd it for my own;
And ere I woke it was the point of noon, His mother lives : yet whatsoe'er you do,
The lists were ready. Empanoplied and plumed Fight and fight well; strike and strike home. O dear We enter'd in, and waited, fifty there Brothers, the woman's Angel guards you, you Opposed to fifty, till the trumpet blared The sole men to be mingled with our cause,
At the barrier like a wild horn in a land The sole men we shall prize in the after-time, Of echoes, and a moment, and once more Your very armor hallow'd, and your statues
The trumpet, and again : at which the storm Rear'd, sung to, when this gad-fly brush'd aside, Of galloping hoofs bare on the ridge of spears We plant a solid foot into the Time,
And riders front to front, until they closed And mould a generation strong to move
In conflict with the crash of shivering points, With claim on claim from right to right, till she And thunder. Yet it seem'd a dream ; I dream'a Whose name is yoked with children's, know herself; of fighting. On his haunches rose the steed, And Knowledge in our own land make her free, And into fiery splinters leapt the lance, And, ever following those two crowned twins, And out of stricken helmets sprang the fire. Commerce and conquest, shower the fiery grain
A noble dream ! what was it else I saw ? Of freedom broadcast over all that orbs
Part sat like rocks; part reel'd but kept their seats; Between the Northern and the Southern morn." Part roll'd on the earth and rose again and drew:
Part stumbled mixt with floundering horses. Down
From those two bulks at Arac's side, and down Then came a postcript dash'd across the rest. " See that there be no traitors in your camp:
From Arac's arm, as from a giant's flail,
The large blows rain'd, as here and everywhere We seem a nest of traitors—none to trust:
He rode the mellay, lord of the ringing lists, Since our arms fail'd—this Egypt plague of men !
And all the plain—brand, mace, and shaft, and Almost our maids were better at their homes,
shieldThan thus man-girdled here: indeed I think
Shock’d, like an iron-clanging anvil bang'd Our chiefest comfort is the little child
With hammers; till I thought, can this be he Of one unworthy mother; which she left:
From Gama's dwarfish loins ? if this be so, She shall not have it back: the child shall grow
The mother makes us most—and in my dream To prize the authentic mother of her mind.
I glanced aside, and saw the palace-front
Alive with fluttering scarfs and ladies' eyes,
And highest, among the statues, statue-like,
With Psyche's babe, was Ida watching us,
A single band of gold about her hair,
Yea, let her see me fall! with that I drave That swallow common sense, the spindling king, Among the thickest and bore down a Prince, This Gama swamp'd in lazy tolerance.
And Cyril, one. Yea, let me make my dream When the man wants weight, the woman takes it up, All that I would. But that large-moulded man, And topples down the scales ; but this is fixt His visage all agrin as at a wake, As are the roots of earth and base of all;
Made at me thro' the press, and, staggering back Man for the field and woman for the hearth; With stroke on stroke the horse and horseman, came Man for the sword and for the needle she:
As comes a pillar of electric cloud,
And shadowing down the champaign till it strikes
On a wood, and takes, and breaks, and cracks, and | There dwelt an iron nature in the grain : splits,
The glittering axe was broken in their arms, And twists the grain with such a roar that Earth Their arms were shatter'd to the shoulder blade. Reels, and the herdsmen cry; for everything Gave way before him: only Florian, he
"Our enemies have fall'n, but this shall grow That loved me closer than his own right eye, A night of Summer from the heat, a breadth Thrust in between ; but Arac rode him down :
Of Autumn, dropping fruits of power ; and roll'd
Shall move the stony bases of the world.
“And now, O maids, behold our sanctuary Stretch with fierce heat; a moment hand to hand,
Is violate, our laws broken : fear we not And sword to sword, and horse to horse we hung,
To break them more in their behoof, whose arms Till I struck out and shouted; the blade glanced ;
Champion'd our cause and wou it with a day I did but shear a feather, and dream and truth
Blanch'd in our annals, and perpetual feast, Flow'd from me; darkness closed me; and I fell.
When dames and heroines of the golden year
Shall strip a hundred hollows bare of Spring, Home they brought her warrior dead:
To rain an April of ovation round
Their statues, borne aloft, the three: but come, All her maidens, watching, said,
We will be liberal, since our rights are won. “She must weep or she will die."
Let them not lie in the tents with coarse mankind,
Ill nurses; but descend, and proffer these Then they praised him, soft and low,
The brethren of our blood and cause, that there Call'd him worthy to be loved,
Lie bruised and maim'd, the tender ministries Truest friend and noblest foe;
Of female hands and hospitality.” Yet she neither spoke nor moved.
She spoke, and with the babe yet in her arms, Stole a maiden from her place,
Descending, burst the great bronze valves, and led Lightly to the warrior stept,
A hundred maids in train across the Park. Took the face-cloth from the face;
Some cowl'd, and some bare-headed, on they came, Yet she neither moved nor wept.
Their feet in flowers, her loveliest : by them went Rose a nurse of ninety years,
The enamor'd air sighing, and on their curls Set his child upon her knee
From the high tree the blossom wavering fell, Like summer tempest came her tears—
And over them the tremulous isles of light, “Sweet my child, I live for thee.”
Slided, they moving under shade : but Blanche
At distance follow'd: so they came: anon
Thro’ open field into the lists they wound
Timorously; and as the leader of the herd As in some mystic middle state I lay
That holds a stately fretwork to the Sun,
And follow'd up by a hundred airy does, Seeing I saw not, hearing not I heard :
Steps with a tender foot, light as on air, Tho', if I saw not, yet they told me all do often that I spake as having seen.
The lovely, lordly creature floated on
To where her wounded brethren lay; there stay'd ; For so it seem'd, or so they said to me,
Knelt on one knee,-the child on one,--and prest That all things grew more tragic and more strange: Their hands, and call’d them dear deliverers, That when our side was vanquish'd and my cause
And happy warriors and immortal names, Forever lost, there went up a great cry,
And said, “You shall not lie in the tents but here, The Prince is slain. My father heard and ran
And nursed by those for whom you fought, and In on the lists, and there unlaced my casque
served And grovellid on my body, and after him
With female hands and hospitality." Came Psyche, sorrowing for Aglaïa.
Then, whether moved by this, or was it chance, But high upon the palace Ida stood
She past my way. Up started from my side With Psyche's babe in arm : there on the roofs
The old lion, glaring with his whelpless eye, Like that great dame of Lapidoth she sang.
Silent; but when she saw me lying stark, "Our enemies have fall'n, have fall’n; the seed
Dishelm'd and mute, and motionlessly pale, The little seed they laugh’d at in the dark,
Cold ev'n to her, she sigh'd ; and when she saw Has risen and cleft the soil, and grown a bulk
The haggard father's face and reverend beard Of spanless girth, that lays on every side
Of grisly twine, all dabbled with the blood
Of his own son, shudder'd, a twitch of pain A thousand arms and rushes to the Sun.
Tortured her mouth, and o'er her forehead past “Our enemies have fall'n, have fall'n: they came :
A shadow, and her hue changed, and she said: The leaves were wet with women's tears: they heard
“He saved my life: my brother slew him for it.” A noise of songs they would not understand :
No more: at which the king in bitter scorn They mark'd it with the red cross to the fall,
Drew from my neck the painting and the tress, And would have strown it, and are fall’n themselves.
And held them up: she saw them, and a day
Rose from the distance on her memory, “Our enemies have fall'n, have fall'n: they came, When the good Queen, her mother, shore the tress The woodmen with their axes: lo the tree !
With kisses, ere the days of Lady Blanche: But we will make fagots for the hearth,
And then once more she look'd at my pale face: And shape it plank and beam for roof and floor, Till understanding all the foolish work And boats and bridges for the use of men.
Of Fancy, and the bitter close of all,
Her iron will was broken in her mind; “ Ou nemie fall'n, have fall'n: they struck; Her noble heart was molten in her breast; With their own blows they hurt themselves, nor She bow'd, she set the child on the earth; she laid knew
A feeling finger on my brows, and presently
“O Sire,” she said, “ he lives : he is not dead : Pledge of a love not to be mine, farewell; O let me have him with my brethren here
These men are hard upon us as of old, In our own palace: we will tend on him
We two must part: and yet how fain was I Like one of these ; if so, by any means,
To dream thy cause embraced in mine, to think To lighten this great clog of thanks, that make I might be something to thee, when I felt Our progress falter to the woman's goal.”
Thy helpless warmth about my barren breast
In the dead prime: but may thy mother prove She said : but at the happy word "he lives,” As true to thee as false, false, false to me! My father stoop'd, re-father'd o'er my wounds. And, if thou needs must bear the yoke, I wish it So those two foes above my fallen life,
Gentle as freedom”-here she kissed it: thenWith brow to brow like night and evening mixt “All good go with thee! take it, Sir,” and so Their dark and gray, while Psyche ever stole Laid the soft babe in his hard-mailed hands, A little nearer, till the babe that by us,
Who turn'd half-round to Psyche as she sprang Half-lapt in glowing gauze and golden brede, To meet it, with an eye that swum in thanks ; Lay like a new-fall'n meteor on the grass,
Then felt it sound and whole from head to foot, Uncared for, spied its mother and began
And hugg'd and never hugg'd it close enough, A blind and babbling laughter, and to dance And in her hunger mouth'd and mumbled it, Its body, and reach its fatling innocent arms And hid her bosom with it; after that And lazy lingering fingers. She the appeal
Put on more calm and added suppliantly: Brook'd not, but clamoring out “Mine-mine—not yours,
“We two were friends: I go to mine own land It is not yours, but mine: give me the child,"
Forever: find some other : as for me Ceased all on tremble: piteous was the cry:
I scarce am fit for your great plans : yet speak So stood the unhappy mother open-mouth'd, And turn'd each face her way: wan was her cheek Say one soft word and let me part forgiven." With hollow watch, her blooming mantle torn, Red grief and mother's hunger in her eye,
But Ida spoke not, rapt upon the child.
You wrong yourselves—the woman is so hard
I am your warrior ; I and mine have fought
Your battle: kiss her ; take her hand, she weeps: Erect and silent, striking with her glance
'Sdeath! I would sooner fight thrice o'er than see it." The mother, me, the child ; but he that lay Beside us, Cyril, batter'd as he was,
But Ida spoke not, gazing on the ground,
And I believe it. Not one word ? not one ?
Whence drew you this steel temper? not from me, Tall as a figure lengthen'd on the sand
Not from your mother now a saint with saints. When the tide ebbs in sunshine, and he said: She said you had a heart-I heard her say it
Our Ida has a heart'-just ere she died“O fair and strong and terrible! Lioness
‘But see that some one with authority That with your long locks play the Lion's mane ! Be near her still,' and I–I sought for oneBut Love and Nature, these are two more terrible All people said she had authorityAnd stronger. See, your foot is on our necks, The Lady Blanche: much profit! Not one word ; We vanquish'd, you the Victor of your will.
No! tho' your father sues: see how you stand What would you more? give her the child! remain Stiff as Lot's wife, and all the good knights maim'd, Orb'd in your isolation: he is dead,
I trust that there is no one hurt to death, Or all as dead : henceforth we let you be:
For your wild whim: and was it then for this, Win you the hearts of women; and beware
Was it for this we gave our palace up, Lest, where you seek the common love of these,
Where we withdrew from summer heats and state, The common hate with the revolving wheel
And had our wine and chess beneath the planes, Should drag you down, and some great Nemesis And many a pleasant hour with her that's gone, Break from a darken'd future, crown'd with fire, Ere you were born to vex us? Is it kind ? And tread you out forever: but howsoe'er
Speak to her I say: is this not she of whom, Fix'd in yourself, never in your own arms
When first she came, all flush'd you said to me To hold your own, deny not hers to her,
Now had you got a friend of your own age, Give her the child! O if, I say, you keep
Now could you share your thought; now should One pulse that beats true woman, if you loved
men see The breast that fed or arm that dandled you,
Two women faster welded in one love Or own one part of sense not flint to prayer, Than pairs of wedlock; she you walk'd with, she Give her the child ! or if you scorn to lay it, You talk'd with, whole nights long, up in the tower, Yourself, in hanás so lately claspt with yours,
Of sine and arc, spheroid and azimuth, Or speak to her, your dearest, her one fault
And right ascension, Heaven knows what; and now
Not one to spare her: out upon you, flint!
You love nor her, nor me, nor any ; nay,
You shame your mother's judgment too. Not one ? Dry flame, she listening: after sank and sank You will not ? well-no heart have you, or such And, into mournful twilight mellowing, dwelt
As fancies like the vermin in a nut Full on the child; she took it: “Pretty bud ! Have fretted all to dust and bitterness." Lily of the vale: half-open'd bell of the woods ! So said the small king moved beyond his wont. Sole comfort of my dark hour, when a world Of traitorous friend and broken system made
But Ida stood nor spoke, drain'd of her force No purple in the distance, mystery,
By many a varying influence and so long.
Down thro' her limbs a drooping languor wept: But shall not. Pass, and mingle with your likes.
We brook no further insult but are gone."
She turn'd; the very nape of her white neck Lifting his grim head from my wounds.
Was rosed with indignation : but the Prince Woman, whom we thought woman even now, Her brother came; the king her father charm'd And were half fool'd to let you tend our son, Her wounded soul with words: nor did mine own Because he might have wish'd it—but we see Refuse her proffer, lastly gave his hand. The accomplice of your madness unforgiven, And think that you might mix his draught with Then us they lifted up, dead weights, and bare death,
Straight to the doors: to them the doors gave way When your skies change again: the rougher hand Groaning, and in the Vestal entry shriek'd Is safer: on to the tents: take up the Prince.”
The virgin marble under iron heels:
And on they moved and gain'd the hall, and there
In silken fluctuation and the swarm
Of female whisperers: at the further end
“Come hither, Was Ida by the throne, the two great cats O Psyche," she cried out, "embrace me, come,
Close by her, like supporters on a shield,
Bow-back'd with fear: but in the centre stood Quick while I melt; make a reconcilement sure With one that cannot keep her mind an hour :
The common men with rolling eyes ; amazed Come to the hollow heart they slander so!
They glared upon the women, and aghast Kiss and be friends, like children being chid !
The women stared at these, all silent, save I seem no more: I want forgiveness too:
When armor clash'd or jingled, while the day, I should have had to do with none but maids,
Descending, struck athwart the hall, and shot That have no links with men. Ah false but dear,
A flying splendor out of brass and steel, Dear traitor, too much loved, why?—why? Yet see
That o'er the statues leapt from head to head, Before these kings we embrace you get once more
Now fired an angry Pallas on the helm, With all forgiveness, all oblivion,
Now set a wrathful Dian's moon on fiame,
And now and then an echo started up,
And shuddering fled from room to room, and died Grant me your son, to nurse, to wait upon him,
Of fright in far apartments. Like mine own brother. For my debt to him,
Then the voice This nightmare weight of gratitude, I know it;
Of Ida sounded, issuing ordinance: Taunt me no more: yourself and yours shall have
And me they bore up the broad stairs, and thro' Free adit; we will scatter all our maids
The long-laid galleries past a hundred doors Till happier times each to her proper hearth:
To one deep chamber shut from sound, and due What use to keep them here now? grant my prayer.
To languid limbs and sickness ; left me in it; Help, father, brother, help; speak to the king:
And others otherwhere they laid; and all Thaw this male nature to some touch of that
That afternoon a sound arose of hoof Which kills me with myself, and drags me down
And chariot, many a maiden passing home From my fixt height to mob me up with all Till happier times; but some were left of those The soft and milky rabble of womankind,
Held sagest, and the great lords out and in, Poor weakling ev'n as they are.”
From those two hosts that lay beside the walls,
Passionate tears Walk'd at their will, and everything was changed. Follow'd: the king replied not: Cyril said : “ Your brother, Lady,-Florian,-ask for him
Ask me no more: the moon may draw the sea; Of your great head-for he is wounded too
The cloud may stoop from heaven and take the That you may tend upon him with the prince.”
shape, “Ay so," said Ida with a bitter smile,
With fold to fold, of mountain or of cape; “Our laws are broken: let him enter too."
But o too fond, when have I answer'd thee?
Ask me no more.
Ask me no more: what answer should I give ?
I love not hollow cheek or faded eye:
Yet, O my friend, I will not have thee die!
Ask me no more, lest I should bid thee live; “Ay so ?” said Blanche: “Amazed am I to hear
Ask me no more.
Ask me no more: thy fate and mine are seal'd: I had been wedded wife, I knew mankind,
I strove against the stream and all in vain : And block'd them out; but these men came to woo
Let the great river take me to the main : Your Highness-verily I think to win."
No more, dear love, for at a touch I yield ;
Ask me no more.
So was their sanctuary violated, Rang ruin, answer'd full of grief and scorn.
So their fair college turn'd to hospital;
At first with all confusion : by and by “Fling our doors wide! all, all, not one, but all, Sweet order lived again with other laws: Not only he, but by my mother's soul,
A kindlier influence reign'd; and everywhere Whatever man lies wounded, friend or foe,
Low voices with the ministering hand Shall enter, if he will. Let our girls flit,
Hung round the sick: the maidens came, they talkd, Till the storm die! but had you stood by us, They sang, they read: till she not fair, began The roar that breaks the Pharos from his base To gather light, and she that was, became Had left us rock. She sain would sting us too, Her former beauty treble ; and to and fro