Comparison of Texts of 1860 and 1867 Editions
Canto II, Verses II-XXXI

Part I, Canto II, Verses II-XXVII
1860 Chapman & Hall / Ticknor & Fields

II
In an hour from the time he wrote this,
Alfred Vargrave, in tracking a mountain abyss,
Gave the rein to his steed and his thoughts, and pursued,
In pursuing his course through the blue solitude,
The reflections that journey gave rise to.
-------------------------------And here,
Dear Reader, (for when was a reader not dear?)
Let me pause to describe you my hero.
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IIIV
------------------------We all
Have seen in the world, at an opera or ball,
Or read of in books, or heard sung of in songs,
Or encounter'd, perchance, 'mid the gay id' throngs
Whom at Baden or Homburg, at evening, one sees,
Lounging over green tables, or under green trees,
In the sound of the music, the light of the flambeaux,
Two kinds of Don Juan.
------------------They are Arcades ambe.
The one is Italian or French: a point, rather
Disputed: I think tho', Moliere was his father.
For the rest, of his family nothing is known.
Of his sponsors, 'tis said that a croupier was one,
The other an actress at Paris: perchance
His life's a libretto, his birth a romance.
But his name is Don Juan. Of that there's no question.
He boasts a bold beauty. He owns a digestion
AEs triplex et robur, for lobsters and oysters;
The darling of grisettes, the terror of cloisters.
He is insolent, noisy, extravagant, vain.
On the whole, he is vulgar. But one thing is plain,
The women don't think him so. Would you know why?
His name is Don Juan.
-----------------We'll let him pass by
Because he's a quarrelsome fellow.
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IV
-----------------------------The other
Some persons have taken, I hear, for his brother.
But this, I believe, is an error.
-----------------------------Indeed,
If, though but for a moment, you'll look with due heed
In the face of this so-call'd relation, you'll see
That he springs from a different family tree.
In fact he is English. One cannot but know it;
His features, his manners, his conduct, all show it
He belongs to a northern nobility, and
His sire was a Lovelace.
------------------I think that George Sand
Must have met him and known him when, after the Peace,
He made the grand tour of the Continent. Greece,
Spain, Italy, Egypt, he ran them all through
While the down on his lip and his chin was yet new.
His classical reading is great: he can quote
Horace, Juvenal, Ovid, and Martial by rote.
He has read Metaphysics . . . Spinoza and Kant;
And Theology too: I have heard him descant
Upon Basil and Jerome. Antiquities, art,
He is fond of. He knows the old masters by heart,
And his taste is refined. I must own in this place
He is scarcely good-looking; and yet in his face
There is something that makes you gaze at it again.
You single him out from a room full of men,
And feel curious to know him. There's that in his look
Which draws you to read in it, as in a book,
Of some cabalist, character'd curiously o'er
With an incomprehensible legended lore.
Relentless, and patient, and resolute, cold,
Unimpassion'd, and callous, and silently bold,
Whatever affords him pursuit is pursued
As a wild beast pursues, and devours his food
In the forest, impell'd by the instinct of prey.
You can scarcely despise, tho' abhor him you may;
For you feel, with a thrill, as you track through the world
The course of his destiny, snakily curl'd
In the roses, or branding with thunder the heath,
Some bad angel hath pass'd there. The Angel of Death,
Or Destruction, it may be.
--------------------------So, leave him.
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V
There are, Here and there, in Life's great lazaretto, though rare,
Certain men whose disease of the heart is more deep,
Though less deadly. Yet something there is, makes me weep
When I strive to describe them. I search, but in vain,
For the words that should render the portraiture plain.
Nine cycles with Dante my muse hath descended;
In the hollows of hell I have gather'd and blended
All hues of the pale, pulsing flamelight; and yet
The picture is vague as a virgin's regret,
And designs but a shadow, that wavers, and goes,
And returns, on the twilight of thought.
-----------------------------Such are those
Whom my verse would in vain comprehend. Alas! They
Comprehend not themselves.
-----------------------They are drawn off one way
By their passions, and drawn back again by their heart;
A vague but immortal regret, with its dart,
Pursues them for ever; and drives them with pain
From themselves to the world, from the world back again
To themselves.
-------------Having fail'd at the springs they seek first
To satiate wholly the undying thirst
Of a deathless desire, they would quench it for ever
In the dregs of a sensual opiate ; - endeavour
To trample out that which is brightest in them,
The star that is set on their soul's diadem,
Because it has fail'd to enkindle in others
One spark from the glory which nothing quite smothers:
For they cannot all stifle the spirit. At night
They reel home from the orgy beneath the wan light
Of the star that reproachfully leads them. The world
In darkness and dream and oblivion is furl'd;
Their destiny slirs and awakes in them then.
While their cheek with the wine is yet flushing, these men
Arise, and the serpent and ape at their feet
Crouch and huddle. Their hair creeps. Their brow gathers heat
From some seraph that sadly regards them. They start,
Like a god from the clay, into beauty and art.
What breaks from the lip with such passionate strain?
Some wild song of the revel, re-echoed again?
Nay, hark! 'tis the psalm of the soul, as her wings
Are unfurl'd: - 'tis the Bard, 'tis no drunkard, that sings!
Heaven opens. Earth yawns. Hell delivers its prey.
The beast and false prophet slink, baffled, away.
The world stands afar off to wonder or scoff -
The chariots of Israel, the horsemen thereof!
The spirit ascends through the heavenly portal,
And the mantle, descending, hath cover'd the mortal!
The man is a profligate sensualist,
The man's life a reckless debauch, you insist:
Let the man's life be all that you will, I appeal
The man's work is immortal - behold it and kneel!
But the life of the man? Can you tell where it lies?
In the effort to sink, or the power to rise?
Can you guess what the thirst is, the man quenches thus?
In vain! shall we tell what he fails to tell us?
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VI
To this class my hero remotely belongs -
A class, doubtless, more common in life than in songs.
If genius he had not, at least he had much
That to genius is kindred: one feverish touch
Of that hunger which urges for ever the soul
To some infinite, distant, impossible goal:
The horseleech's daughter that cries in the heart
With her ceaseless 'give, give!' and sits pining apart
From the purpose of all things.
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VII
-------------------The age is gone o'er
When a man in all things be all. We have more
Painters, poets, musicians, and artists, no doubt,
Than the great Cinquecento gave birth to; but out
Of a million of mere dilettanti, when, when
Will a new LEONARDO arise on our ken?
He is gone with the age which begat him. Our own
Is too vast and too complex for one man alone
To embody its purpose, and hold it shut close
In the palm of his hand. There were giants in those
Irreclaimable days; but in these days of ours
In dividing the work we distribute the powers.
Yet a dwarf on a dead giant's shoulders sees more
Than the 'live giant's eyesight avail'd to explore;
And in life's lengthen'd alphabet what used to be
To our sires X Y Z is to us A B C.
A Varini is roasted alive for his pains,
Buit a Bacon comes after and picks up his brains.
A Bruno is angrily seized by the throttle
And hunted about by thy ghost, Aristotle,
Till a More or Lavater stop into his plate,
Then the world turns and makes an admiring grimace.
Once the men were so great and so few, they appear,
Through a distant Olympian atmosphere,
Like vast Caryatids upholding the age.
Now the men are so many and small, disengage
One man from the million to mark him, next moment
The crowd sweeps him hurriedly out of your comment;
And since we seek vainly (to praise in our songs)
'Mid our fellows the size which to heroes belongs,
We take the whole age for a hero, in want
Of a better; and still, in its favour, descant
On the strength and the beauty which, failing to find
In any one man, we ascribe to mankind.
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VIII
Alfred Vargrave was one of those men who achieve
So little, because of the much they conceive.
A redundantly sensuous nature, each pore
Ever patent to beauty, had yet left him sore
With a sense of impossible power. He saw
Too keenly the void 'twixt the absolute law
And the partial attainment. He knock'd at each one
Of the doorways of life, and abided in none.
His course, by each star that would cross it, was set,
And whatever he did he was sure to regret.
That target, discuss'd by the travellers of old,
Which to one appear'd argent, to one appear'd gold,
To him, ever lingering on Doubt's dizzy margent,
Appear'd in one moment both golden and argent.
The man who seeks one thing in life, and but one,
May hope to achieve it before life be done;
But he who seeks all things, wherever he goes,
Only reaps from the hopes which around him he sows
A harvest of barren regrets. And the worm
That crawls on in the dust to the definite term
Of its creeping existence, and sees nothing more
Than the path it pursues till its creeping be o'er,
In its limited vision, is happier far
Than the Half-Sage, whose course, fix'd by no friendly star,
Is by each star distracted in turn, and who knows
Each will still be as distant wherever he goes.
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IX
Both brilliant and brittle, both bold and unstable,
Indecisive yet keen, Alfred Vargrave seem'd able
To dazzle, but not to illumine, mankind.
A vigorous, various, versatile mind;
A character wavering, fitful, uncertain,
As the shadow that shakes o'er a luminous curtain,
Vague and flitting, but on it for ever impressing
The shape of some substance at which you stand guessing:
When you said, 'All is worthless and weak here, behold!
Into sight on a sudden there seem'd to unfold
Great outlines of strenuous truth in the man:
When you said, 'This is genius,' the outlines grew wan.
And his life, tho' in all things so gifted and skill'd,
Was, at best, but a promise which nothing fulfill'd.
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X
In the budding of youth, ere wild winds can deflower
The shut leaves of man's life, round the germ of man's power
Yet folded, his life had been earnest. Alas!
In that life one occasion, one moment, there was
When all that was earnest in him might have been
Unclosed into manhood's imperial, serene
Dominion of permanent power. But it found him
Too soon; ere the weight of the light life around him
Had been weigh'd at its worth; when his nature was still
The delicate toy of too pliant a will
The boisterous play of the world to resist,
Or the frost of the' world's wintry wisdom.
--------------------------------- He miss'd
That occasion, too rath in its advent.
-------------------------------Since then,
He had made it a law, in his commerce with men,
That intensity in him which only left sore
The heart it disturb'd, to repel and ignore.
And thus, as some Prince by his subjects deposed,
Whose strength he, by seeking to crush it, disclosed,
In resigning the power he lack'd power to support,
Turns his back upon courts, with a sneer at the court,
In his converse this man for self-comfort appeal'd
To a cynic denial of all he conceal'd
In the instincts and feelings belied by his words.
Words, however, are things: and the man who accords
To his language the license to outrage his soul,
Is controll'd by the words he disdains to control.
And, therefore, he seem'd in the deeds of each day,
The light code proclaim'd on his lips to obey;
And, the slave of each whim, fbllow'd wilfull aught
That perchance fool'd the fancy, or flatter'd the thought.
Yet, indeed, deep within him, the spirits of truth,
Vast, vague aspirations, the powers of his youth,
Lived and breathed, and made moan - stirr'd themselves-strove to start
Into deeds- tho' deposed, in that Hades, his heart
Like those antique Theogonies ruin'd and hurl'd
Under clefts of the hills, which, convulsing the world,
Heav'd, in earthquake, their heads the rent caverns above,
To trouble at times in the light court of Jove
All its frivolous gods, with an undefined awe,
Of wrong'd rebel powers that own'd not their law.
Yes! still in his nature was more than enough
(Altho' self-disputed) of strong English stuff,
Which, had he been forced to some claim disallow'd
By the world, to push firmly his path thro' that crowd
Amidst which he now lounged, would have welded in one
Earnest purpose the powers now conscious of none,
Because squander'd on many. And therefore, if born
To some lowlier rank (from the world's languid scorn
Secured by the world's stern resistance), where strife,
Strife and toil, and not pleasure, gave purpose to life,
He, no doubt before this, would have lived to attain
Not eminence only, but worth. So, again,
Had he been of his own house the first-born, each gift
Of a mind many-gifted had gone to uplift
A great name by a name's greatest uses.
--------------------------But there
He stood isolated, opposed, as it were,
To life's great realities; part of no plan;
And if ever a nobler and happier man
He might hope to become, that alone could be when
With all that is real in life and in men
What was real in him should have been reconciled;
When each influence now from his being exiled
Should have seized on his being, combined with his nature,
And form'd, as by fusion, a new human creature:
As when those airy elements viewless to sight
(The amalgam of which, if our science be right,
The germ of this populous planet doth fold)
Unite in the glass of the chemist, behold!
Where a void seem'd before, there a substance appears,
From the fusion of forces whence issued the spheres!
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XI
As it was, his chief fault was an unconscious awe
Of the little world, falsely call'd great, and the law
Of its lawless dictators ; - an awe not indeed
Of that great world which justly on each human deed
Sits umpire, adjudging man's worth o'er man's grave,
Like those solemn Tribunals of Egypt, which gave
Or denied to her dead kings the tombs of the kings:
That grand .court of Public Opinion, whence springs
Man's loyal allegiance to lofty control,
Which confines not his life, but concentrates his soul.
For obedience is nobler than freedom. What's free?
The vex'd straw on the wind, the froth'd spume on the sea:
The great ocean itself, as it rolls and it swells,
In the bonds of a boundless obedience dwells.
'Ah, what will the world say t'.. THE WORLD ! - therein lies
The question which, as it is utter'd, implies
All that's fine or that's feeble in thought and intent.
The distinction depends on the world that is meant.
Was it base, our own Nelson's life-cry for 'A place
In Westminster Abbey, and Victory'? Base,
The Hero's last thought - ' Will men murmur my name
In Athens?' Base? no!
-----------------What is man's faith in fame,
But respect for the world's good opinion?
--------------------------------------What then?
Is it noble (since man owes submission to men
As the judges of man) the Fop's query - 'Those cavilers
'And gossips, what say they of me at the Travellers',
'Or White's?' Noble? no!
--------------------Whence is faith weak in act,
But from fear of the world's false opinion?
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XII
In fact, Had Lord Alfred found that rare communion which links
With what woman feels purely, what man nobly thinks,
And by hallowing life's hopes, enlarges life's strength,
His shrewd tact had moulded and master'd at length
The world that now master'd and moulded his will.
An affluent sympathy, dexterous skill,
And prompt apprehension in him, would have saved
His life from the failures of those who have braved
The world, with no clue to its intricate plan,
And made him a great, and a practical man.
But the permanent cause why his life fail'd and miss'd
The full value of life was, - where man should resist
The world, which man's genius is call'd to command,
He gave way, less from lack of the power to withstand
Than from lack of the resolute will to retain
Those strongholds of life which the world strives to gain.
For let a man once show the world that he feels
Afraid of its bark, and 'twill fly at his heels:
Let him fearlessly face it, 'twill leave him alone:
But 'twill fawn at his feet if he flings it a bone.
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XIII
The moon of September, now half at the full,
Was unfolding from darkness and dreamland the lull
Of the quiet blue air, where the many-faced hills
Watch'd, well-pleased, their fair slaves, the light, foam-footed rills,
Dance and sing down the steep marble stairs of their courts,
And gracefully fashion a thousand sweet sports.
Like ogres in council those mountains look'd down,
Impassive, each king in his purple and crown.
Lord Alfred (by this on his journeyings far)
Was pensively puffing his Lopez cigar,
And brokenly humming an old opera strain,
And thinking, perchance, of those castles in Spain
Which that long rocky barrier hid from his sight;
When suddenly, out of the darkness of night,
A horseman emerged from a fold of the hill,
And so startled his steed, that was winding at will Up the thin dizzy strip of a pathway which led
O'er the mountain - the reins on its neck, and its head
Hanging lazily forward - that, but for a hand
Light and ready, yet firm, in familiar command,
Both rider and horse might have been in a trice
Hurl'd horribly over the grim precipice.
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XIV
As soon as the moment's alarm had subsided,
And the oath, with which nothing can find unprovided
A thoroughbred Englishman, safely exploded,
Lord Alfred unbent (as Apollo his bow did
Now and then) his erectness; and looking, not ruder
Than such inroad would warrant, survey'd the intruder.
Whose arrival so nearly cut short in his glory
My hero, and finish'd abruptly this story.
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XV
The stranger, a man of his own age or less,
Well mounted, and simple though rich in his dress,
Wore his beard and moustache in the fashion of
France. His face, which was pale, gather'd force from the glance
Of a pair of dark, vivid, and eloquent eyes.
With a gest of apology, touch'd with surprise,
He lifted his hat, bow'd, and courteously made
Some excuse in such well-cadenced French as betray'd,
The first word he spoke, the Parisian.
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XVI
---------------------------I swear
I have wander'd about in the world everywhere;
From many strange mouths have heard many strange tongues;
Strain'd with many strange idioms my lips and my lungs;
Walk'd in many a far land, regreting my own;
In many a language groan'd many a groan;
And have often had reason to curse those wild fellows
Who built the high house at which Heaven turn'd jealous,
Making human audacity stumble and stammer
When seized by the throat in the hard gripe of Grammar.
But the language of languages dearest to me
Is that in which once, O ma toute chérie,
When, together, we bent o'er your nosegay for hours,
You explain'd what was silently said by the flowers,
And, selecting the sweetest of all, sent a flame
Through my heart, as, in laughing, you murmur'd je t'aime.
O my Kosebud of Paestum, whose bloom never dies!
Now dead on my bosom that dear flow'ret lies;
But the meaning you gave to it then cannot fade;
In my being it blooms, and its fragrance hath made
A garden within me, where memory strays,
Evermore, with faint footfalls, down blossoming ways.
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XVII
The Italians have voices like peacocks ; the Spanish
Smell, I fancy, of garlic; the Swedish and Danish
Have something too Runic, too rough and unshod, in
Their accent for mouths not descended from Odin.
German gives me a cold in the head, sets me wheezing
And coughing; and Russian is nothing but sneezing;
But, by Belus and Babel! I never have heard,
And I never shall hear (I well know it), one word
Of that delicate idiom of Paris without
Feeling morally sure, beyond question or doubt,
By the wild way in which my heart inwardly flutter'd,
That my heart's native tongue to my heart had been utter'd.
And whene'er I hear French spoken as I approve,
I feel myself quietly falling in love.
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XVIII
Lord Alfred, on hearing the stranger, appeased
By a something, an accent, a cadence, which pleased
His ear with that pledge of good breeding which tells
At once of the world in whose fellowship dwells
The speaker that owns it, was glad to remark
In the horseman a man one might meet after dark
Without fear.
-----------Not unfavourably thus impress'd,
As it seem'd, with each other, the two men abreast
Rode on slowly a moment.
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XIX
STRANGER.
----------I see, Sir, you are
A smoker. Allow me!
LORD ALFRED.
-----------Pray take a cigar.
STRANGER.
------'any thanks! . . . Such cigars are a luxury here.
You go to Serchon?"
LORD ALFRED.
----------Yes; and you?
STRANGER.
------------------Yes. I fear,
Since our road is the same, that our journey must be
Somewhat closer than is our acquaintance. You see
How narrow the path is. I 'm tempted to ask
Your permission to finish (no difficult task!)
The cigar you have given me (really a prize!)
In your company.
LORD ALFRED.
-------------Charm'd, Sir, to find your road lies
In the way of my own inclinations! Indeed
The dream of your nation I find in this weed.
In the distant Savannahs a talisman grows
That makes all men brothers that use it ... who knows?
That blaze which erewhile from the Boulevart outbroke,
It has ended where wisdom begins, Sir, - in smoke.
Messieurs Lopez (whatever your publicists write)
Have done more in their way human kind to unite
Than ten Prudhons perchance.
---------------What a wonderful spot!
This air is delicious; the day was too hot.
STRANGER.
Ah, yes! did you chance scarce a half-hour ago
To remark that miraculous sunset?
LORD ALFRED.
-----------------Why, no.
STRANGER.
All the Occident, fused in one fierce conflagration,
Stream'd flame: and the hills, as in grim expectation,
Scarr'd and hoary stood round, like severe hierophants
When at some savage rite the red flame breathes and pants
And expands for a victim.
LORD ALFRED.
-----------------A very old trick!
One would think that the sun by this time must be sick
Of blushing with such a parade of disdain
For this frivolous world he enlightens in vain.
I see you're a poet.
STRANGER.
------------------Who is not, alone
In these mountains? For me, though, I own I am none.
Man's life is but short, and the youth of a man
Is yet shorter. I wish to enjoy what I can.
A sunset, if only a sunset be near;
A moon such as this, if the weather be clear;
A good dinner, if hunger come with it; good wine,
If I'm thirsty; a fire, if I'm cold; and, in fine,
If a woman is pretty, to me 'tis no matter,
Be she blonde or brunette, so she lets me look at her.
LORD ALFRED.
I suspect that at Serchon, if rumour speak true,
Your choice is not limited.
STRANGER.
--------------Yes. One or two
Of our young Paris ladies remain there, but yet
The season is over.
LORD ALFRED.
-------------------I almost forget
The place; but remember when last I was there,
I thought the best part of it then was the air
And the mountains.
STRANGER.
---------No doubt! all these baths are the same.
One wonders for what upon earth the world came
To seek, under all sorts of difficulties,
The very same things in the far Pyrenees
Which it fled from at Paris. Health, which is, no doubt,
The true object of all, not a soul talks about
'Tis a sort of religion.
LORD ALFRED.
-----------------You know the place well?
STRANGER.
I have been there two seasons.
LORD ALFRED.
---------------Pray who is the Belle
Of the Baths at this moment?
STRANGER.
-----------The same who has been
The belle of all places in which she is seen;
The belle of all Paris last winter; last spring
The belle of all Baden.
LORD ALFRED.
-------------An uncommon thing!
STRANGER.
Sir, an uncommon beauty! . . . I rather should say,
An uncommon character. Truly, each day
One meets women whose beauty is equal to hers,
But none with the charm of Lucile de Nevers.
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[The remainder of 1860 XVIII through XXV are untouched in 1867]
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XXVI
There, whilst musing he lean'd the dark valley above,
Thro' the warm land were wand'ring the spirits of love.
A soft breeze in the white window drapery stirr'd;
In the blossom'd acacia the lone cricket chiri'd;
The scent of the roses fell faint o'er the night,
And the moon on the mountain was dreaming in light.
Repose, and yet rapture! that pensive wild nature
Impregnate with passion in each breathing feature!
Like a maiden withdrawn in her chamber, while yet
Her lip with her first lover's first kiss is wet,
In the bloom of its virginal blossom, who hears
Her full heart beat loud in her small rosy ears,
Through the exquisite silence of passionate trance,
Whilst, reveal'd in the light of youth's tender romance,
Life's first great discovery dreamily moves
Into sweet self-surprise - she is loved, and she loves!
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XXVII
A stone's throw from thence, through the large limetrees peep'd,
In a garden of roses, a white chalet, steep'd
In the moonbeams. The windows oped down to the lawn;
The casements were open; the curtains were drawn;
Lights stream'd from the inside; and with them the sound
Of music and song. In the garden, around
A table with fruits, wine, tea, ices, there set,
Half-a-dozen young men and young women were met.
Light, laughter, and voices, and music, all stream'd
Through the quiet-leaved limes. At the window there seem'd
For one moment the outline, familiar and fair,
Of a white dress, a white neck, and soft dusky hair,
Which Lord Alfred remember'd ... a moment or so
It hover'd, then pass'd into shadow; and slow
The soft notes, from a tender piano upflung,
Floated forth, and a voice unforgotten thus sung*:-
'Hear a song that was born in the land of my birth!
'The anchors are lifted, the fair ship is free,
'And the shout of the mariners floats in its mirth
'''Twixt the light in the sky and the light on the sea.
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[song continues to end; footnote there reads:] *The idea which is imperfectly embodied in this song was suggested to me by a friend, to whom T am Indebted for so much throughout this poem, that I gladly avail myself of this passing opportunity, in acknowledging the fact, to record my grateful sense of it. I name him not. When he reads these words his heart will comprehend what is in mine while I write them.
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Part I, Canto II, Verse II-XXI
1867 Chapman & Hall

II
In an hour from the time he wrote this,
Alfred Vargrave, in tracking a mountain abyss,
Gave the rein to his steed and his thoughts, and pursued,
In pursuing his course through the blue solitude,
The reflections that journey gave rise to.
---------------------------And here
(Because, without some such precaution, I fear
You might fail to distinguish them each from the rest
Of the world they belong to; whose captives are drest,
As our convicts, precisely the same one and all,
While the coat cut for Peter is pass'd on to Paul)
I resolve, one by one, when I pick from the mass
The persons I want, as before you they pass,
To label them broadly in plain black and white
On the backs of them. Therefore whilst yet he's in sight,
I first label my hero.
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III
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[Go to 1860 Verse VII]
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[Verse III begins here and follows 1860 Verse VII]
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IV
Alfred Vargrave was one of those men who achieve
So little, because of the much they conceive.
With irresolute finger he knock'd at each one
Of the doorways of life, and abided in none.
His course, by each star that would cross it, was set,
And whatever he did he was sure to regret.
That target, discuss'd by the travellers of old,
Which to one appear'd argent, to one appear'd gold,
To him, ever lingering on Doubt's dizzy margent,
Appear'd in one moment both golden and argent.
The man who seeks one thing in life, and but one,
May hope to achieve it before life be done;
But he who seeks all things, wherever he goes,
Only reaps from the hopes which around him he sows
A harvest of barren regrets. And the worm
That crawls on in the dust to the definite term
Of its creeping existence, and sees nothing more
Than the path it pursues till its creeping be o'er,
In its limited vision, is happier far
Than the Half-Sage, whose course, fix'd by no friendly star,
Is by each star distracted in turn, and who knows
Each will still be as distant wherever he goes.
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V
Both brilliant and brittle, both bold and unstable,
Indecisive yet keen, Alfred Vargrave seem'd able
To dazzle, but not to illumine mankind.
A vigorous, various, versatile mind;
A character wavering, fitful, uncertain,
As the shadow that shakes o'er a luminous curtain,
Vague, flitting, but on it for ever impressing
The shape of some substance at which you stand guessing:
When you said, 'All is worthless and weak here,' behold!
Into sight on a sudden there seem'd to unfold
Great outlines of strenuous truth in the man:
When you said, 'This is genius,' the outlines grew wan.
And his life, though in all things so gifted and skill'd,
Was, at best, but a promise which nothing fulfill'd.
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VI
In the budding of youth, ere wild winds can deflower
The shut leaves of man's life, round the germ of his power
Yet folded, his life had been earnest. Alas!
In that life one occasion, one moment, there was
When this earnestness might, with the life-sap of youth,
Lusty fruitage have borne in his manhood's full growth;
But it found him too soon, when his nature was still
The delicate toy of too pliant a will
The boisterous play of the world to resist,
Or the frost of the' world's wintry wisdom.
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--------------------He miss'd
That occasion, too rath in its advent.
----------------------Since then,
He had made it a law, in his commerce with men,
That intensity in him which only left sore
The heart it disturb'd, to repel and ignore.
And thus, as some Prince by his subjects deposed,
Whose strength he, by seeking to crush it, disclosed,
In resigning the power he lack'd power to support,
Turns his back upon courts, with a sneer at the court,
In his converse this man for self-comfort appeal'd
To a cynic denial of all he conceal'd
In the instincts and feelings belied by his words.
Words, however, are things: and the man who accords
To his language the licence to outrage his soul,
Is controll'd by the words he disdains to control.
And, therefore, he seem'd in the deeds of each day,
The light code proclaimed on his lips to obey;
And, the slave of each whim, follow'd wilfully aught
That perchance fool'd the fancy, or flatter'd the thought.
Yet, indeed, deep within him, the spirits of truth,
Vast, vague aspirations, the powers of his youth,
Lived and breathed, and made moan-stirr'd themselves-strove to start
Into deeds-though deposed, in that Hades, his heart,
Like those antique Theogonies ruin'd and hurl'd
Under clefts of the hills, which, convulsing the world,
Heaved, in earthquake, their heads the rent caverns above,
To trouble at times in the light court of Jove
All its frivolous gods, with an undefined awe,
Of wrong'd rebel powers that own'd not their law.
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For his sake, I am fain to believe that, if born
To some lowlier rank (from the world's languid scorn
Secured by the world's stern resistance), where strife,
Strife and toil, and not pleasure, gave purpose to life,
He possibly might have contrived to attain
Not eminence only, but worth. So, again,
Had he been of his own house the first-born, each gift
Of a mind many-gifted had gone to uplift
A great name by a name's greatest uses.
----------------------But there
He stood isolated, opposed, as it were,
To life's great realities; part of no plan;
And if ever a nobler and happier man
He might hope to become, that alone could be when
With all that is real in life and in men
What was real in him should have been reconciled;
When each influence now from experience exiled
Should have seized on his being, combined with his nature,
And form'd, as by fusion, a new human creature:
As when those airy elements viewless to sight
(The amalgam of which, if our science be right,
The germ of this populous planet doth fold)
Unite in the glass of the chemist, behold!
Where a void seem'd before, there a substance appears,
From the fusion of forces whence issued the spheres!
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VII
But the permanent cause why his life fail'd and miss'd
The full value of life was,-where man should resist
The world, which man's genius is call'd to command,
He gave way, less from lack of the power to withstand,
Than from lack of the resolute will to retain
Those strongholds of life which the world strives to gain.
Let this character go in the old-fashion'd way,
With the moral thereof tightly tack'd to it. Say
---' Let any man once show the world that he feels
Afraid of its bark, and 'twill fly at his heels:
Let him fearlessly face it, 'twill leave him alone:
But 'twill fawn at his feet if he flings it a bone.'
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[VIII follows 1860 XIII]
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[IX follows 1860 XIV]
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[X follows 1860 XV]
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[XI follows 1860 XVI to last six lines - which are deleted]
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[Deleted from this line to end of Verse]
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[XII follows 1860 XVII]
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XIII
Lord Alfred, on hearing the stranger, appeased
By a something, an accent, a cadence, which pleased
His ear with that pledge of good breeding which tells
At once of the world in whose fellowship dwells
The speaker that owns it, was glad to remark
In the horseman a man one might meet after dark
Without fear.
---------And thus, not disagreeably impress'd,
As it seem'd, with each other, the two men abreast
Rode on slowly a moment.
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XIV
STRANGER.
---------------I see, Sir, you are
A smoker. Allow me!
ALFRED.
-------------------Pray take a cigar.
STRANGER.
--------Many thanks! . . . Such cigars are a luxury here.
Do you go to Serchon?
LORD ALFRED.
-------------Yes; and you?
STRANGER.
-------------------Yes. I fear,
Since our road is the same, that our journey must be
Somewhat closer than is our acquaintance. You see
How narrow the path is. I 'm tempted to ask
Your permission to finish (no difficult task!)
The cigar you have given me (really a prize!)
In your company.
ALFRED.
---------Charm'd, Sir, to find your road lies
In the way of my own inclinations! Indeed
The dream of your nation I find in this weed.
In the distant Savannahs a talisman grows
That makes all men brothers that use it ... who knows?
That blaze which erewhile from the Boulevart outbroke,
It has ended where wisdom begins, Sir, - in smoke.
Messieurs Lopez (whatever your publicists write)
Have done more in their way human kind to unite
Than ten Prudhons perchance.
STRANGER.
Yes! Ah, what a scene!
ALFRED.
-----Humph! Nature is here too pretentious. Her mien
Is too haughty. One likes to be coax'd, not compelled,
To the notice of such beauty resents if withheld.
She seems to be saying too plainly, 'Admire me!'
And I answer, 'Yes, madam, I do; but you tire me.'
STRANGER.
That sunset, just now, though. . .
ALFRED.
-------------------A very old trick!
One would think that the sun by this time must be sick
Of blushing at what, by this time, he must know
Too well to be shock'd by - this world.
STRANGER.
-----------------------Ah, 'tis so
With us all. 'Tis the sinner that best knew the world
at Twenty, whose lip is, at Sixty, most curl'd
With disdain of its follies. You stay at Serchon?
ALFRED.
A day or two only.
STRANGER.
---------------The season is done.
ALFRED.
---------Already?
STRANGER.
----------'Twas shorter this year than the last.
Folly soon wears her shoes out. She dances so fast,
We are all of us tired.
ALFRED.
----------------You know the place well?
STRANGER.
I have been there two seasons.
ALFRED.
-------------------Pray who is the Belle
Of the Baths at this moment?
STRANGER.
---------------The same who has been
The belle of all places in which she is seen;
The belle of all Paris last winter; last spring
The belle of all Baden.
ALFRED.
-----------------An uncommon thing!
STRANGER. Sir, an uncommon beauty! . . . I rather should say,
An uncommon character. Truly, each day
One meets women whose beauty is equal to hers,
But none with the charm of Lucile de Nevers.
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[The remainder of 1867 XIV and XV through XXX track very closely (if not identically) 1860 XVIII through XXV]
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XXXI
There, whilst musing he lean'd the dark valley above,
Through the warm land were wand'ring the spirits of love.
A soft breeze in the white window drapery stirr'd;
In the blossom'd acacia the lone cricket chirr'd;
The scent of the roses fell faint o'er the night,
And the moon on the mountain was dreaming in light.
Repose, and yet rapture! that pensive wild nature
Impregnate with passion in each breathing feature!
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[final 8 lines deleted; text proceeds to 1860 XXVII]
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--
A stone's throw from thence, through the large limetrees peep'd,
In a garden of roses, a white chalet, steep'd
In the moonbeams. The windows oped down to the lawn;
The casements were open; the curtains were drawn;
Lights stream'd from the inside; and with them the sound
Of music and song. In the garden, around
A table with fruits, wine, tea, ices, there set,
Half-a-dozen young men and young women were met.
Light, laughter, and voices, and music, all stream'd
Through the quiet-leaved limes. At the window there seem'd
For one moment the outline, familiar and fair,
Of a white dress, a white neck, and soft dusky hair,
Which Lord Alfred remember'd ... a moment or so
It hover'd, then pass'd into shadow; and slow
The soft notes, from a tender piano upflung,
Floated forth, and a voice unforgotten thus sung :-
'Hear a song that was born in the land of my birth!
'The anchors are lifted, the fair ship is free,
'And the shout of the mariners floats in its mirth
'''Twixt the light in the sky and the light on the sea.
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[song continues to end as 1860; final footnote is omitted]
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Last revised: 12 January 2012