Comparison of Texts of 1860 and 1867 Editions
Part II, Canto V
As the wind that heaps sand in a desert, there stirr'd
Through his voice an emotion that swept every word
Into one angry wail; as, with feverish change,
He continued his monologue, fitful and strange.
'I remember the time ! - for it haunts me even yet
'Like a ghost, through the Hades of lifelong regret-
'I remember the time when the spirits of June
'Led the faint-footed dance of the flowers to the tune
'That was sung by the sons of the morning of old,
'When the sun first came forth from his chambers of gold.
'Then I saw round the rosy horizon of things
'The omnipotent Hours, in Olympian rings,
'Charioteering in glory; the world seem'd to glow
'Where they circled and swept, each a crown on his brow!
'Then the gods in the twilight descended, and then
'The yet homely Immortals abided with men.
'Then the oak flow'd with heaven-colour'd honey, and the lymph
'Was the dwelling divine of a white-footed nymph:
'Then all men were bold, and all women were fair
'And Love - a light impulse alive on the air,
'Flitted, folded for aye in his own happy dream,
'Flitted here, flitled there, like a bee on a beam,
'Wherever new flow'rets, by lawn or by dell,
'Held on tiptoe for him their divine oenomel!
'I remember the time, for my spirit was stirr'd,
'When afar off' the voice of the turtle was heard
'"Arise! come away !" I arose. O despair!
'Led by what lying star, through what verdurous snare,
'By what pathway dissembling in falsehood so sweet
'A peril so fatal to me, did we meet?
'Oh, could I not take up the parable too,
'As it fell from your lips, with a scorn all as true?
'Woe to him, in whose nature, once kindled, the torch
'Of Passion burns downward to blacken and scorch!
'Woe to him that hath kiss'd and caroused cheek by jowl
'With the harlot Corruption, and drain'd her wild bowl!
'But shame, shame, and sorrow, O woman, to thee,
'Whose hand sow'd the first seed of destruction in me!
'Whose lip taught the first lesson of falsehood to mine!
'Whose looks first made me doubt lies that look'd so divine!
'My soul by thy beauty was slain in its sleep:
'And if tears I mistrust, 'tis that thou too canst weep!
'Well! . . . how utter soever it be, one mistake
'In the love of a man, what more change need it make
'In the steps of his soul through the course love began,
Than all other mistakes in the life of a man?
'And I said to myself, "I am young yet: too young
'To have wholly survived my own portion among
'The great needs of man's life, or exhausted its joys;
'What is broken? one only of youth's pleasant toys!
'Shall I be the less welcome, wherever I go,
'For one passion survived? No! the roses will blow
'As of yore, as of yore will the nightingales sing,
'Not less sweetly for one blossom cancell'd from Spring!
'Hast thou loved, O my heart? to thy love yet remains
'All the wide loving-kindness of nature. The plains
'And the hills with each summer their verdure renew:
'Wouldst thou be as they are? do thou then as they do.
'Let the dead sleep in peace. Would the living divine
'Where they slumber? Let only new flowers be the sign!
'Since the bird of the wood flits and sings round the nest
'Where lie broken the eggs she once warm'd with her breast;
'Since the flower of the field, newly born yesterday,
'When to-morrow a new bud hath burst on the spray,
'Folds, and falls in the night, unrepining, unseen;
'Since aloof in the forests, when forests are green,
'You may hear through the silence the dead woa' that cracks,
'Since man, where his course throughout nature he tracks,
'In all things one science to soothe him may find,
'To walk on, and look forward, and never behind,
'- What to me, O my heart, is thy joy or thy sorrow?
'What the tears of to-day or the sneers of tomorrow?
'What is life? what is death? what the false? what the true?
'And what is the harm that one woman can do?
'Vain! all vain! . . . For when, laughing, the wine I would quaff,
'I remember'd too well all it cost me to laugh.
'Through the revel it was but the old song I heard,
'Through the crowd the old footsteps behind me they stirr'd,
'In the night wind, the starlight, the murmurs of even,
'In the ardours of earth, and the languors of heaven,
'I could trace nothing more, nothing more through the spheres,
'But the sound of old sobs, and the tracks of old tears!
'It was with me the night long in dreaming or waking,
'It abided in loathing, when daylight was breaking,
'The burthen of the bitterness in me! Behold
'All my days were become as a tale that is told.
'And I said to my sight, "No good thing shall thou see,
'For the noonday is turned to darkness in me.
'In the house of Oblivion my bed I have made."
'And I said to the grave, "Lo, my father!" and said
'To the worm, "Lo, my sister!" The dust to the dust,
'And one end to the wicked shall be with the just!'
He ceased, as a wind that wails out on the night,
And moans itself mute. Through the indistinct light
A voice clear, and tender, and pure, with a tone
Of ineffable pity replied to his own.
'And say you, and deem you, that I wreck'd your life?
'Alas! Due de Luvois, had I been your wife
'By a fraud of the heart which could yield you alone
'For the love in your nature a lie in my own,
'Should I not, in deceiving, have injured you worse?
'Yes, I then should have merited justly your curse,
'For I then should have wrong'd you!'
------------------'Wrong'd! ah, is it so?
'You could never have loved me?'
---------------------------' Never? oh no!'
(He broke into a fierce angry laugh, as he said)
'Yet, lady, you knew that I loved you: you led
'My love on to lay to its heart, hour by hour,
'All the pale, cruel, beautiful, passionless power
'Shut up in that cold face of yours! was this well?
'But enough! not on you would I vent the wild hell
'Which has grown in my heart. Oh that man, first and last
'He tramples in triumph my life! he has cast
'His shadow 'twixt me and the sun ... let it pass!
'My hate yet may find him!'
-----------------------She murmur'd, 'Alas!
'These words, at least, spare me the pain of reply.
'Enough, Duc de Luvois! farewell. I shall try
'To forget every word I have heard, every sight
'That has grieved and appall'd me in this wretched night
'Which must witness our final farewell. May you, Duke,
'Never know greater cause your own heart to rebuke
'Than mine thus to wrong and afflict you have had!
-----'Stay, Lucile, stay!' . . . he groan'd
, ------------------. . . 'I am mad,
'Brutalised, blind with pain! I know not what I said.
'I meant it not. But' (he moan'd, drooping his head)
'I suffer, and pain is perchance all unjust;
''Tis the worm trodden down that yet stings in the dust.
'Forgive me! I - have I so wrong'd you, Lucile?
'I. . . have I . . . forgive me, forgive me!'
'Only sad, very sad to the soul,' she said, 'far,
'Far too sad for resentment.'
----------------------------'Yet stand as you are
'One moment,' he murmur'd. ' I think, could I gaze
'Thus awhile on your face, the old innocent days
'Would come back upon me, and this scorching heart
'Free itself in hot tears. Do not, do not depart
'Thus, Lucile! stay one moment. I know why you shrink,
'Why you shudder; I read in your face what you think.
'Do not speak to me of it. And yet, if you will,
'Whatever you say, my own lips shall be still.
'Do not fear I should justify aught I have done.
'I feel I have sinn'd. Yet this night you have won
'A great battle from me. Teach, O teach me to bear
'The defeat I have merited ! Teach my despair
'Some retributive penance to purge this foul past
'And work out life's penal redemption at last!
-------'Could I help you,' she murmur'd, 'my heart
'Would bless heaven indeed if before we thus part
'I could rescue from out the wild work of this night
'One holier memory, one gleam of light
'Out of this hour of darkness! But what can I say?
'This deep sense of pity seems utterless!'
'I have suffer'd,' he answer'd, 'but yet do not think
'That, whatever my fate, I have shrunk, or do shrink.
'When the peasant, at nightfall, regaining the door
'Of his hut, finds the tempest hath been there before;
'That the thunder hath wasted the harvest he sow'd,
'And the lightning to ashes consumed his abode;
'The wild fact to his senses one moment may seem
'Like a haggard, confused, and unnatural dream:
'The vast night is sombre all round him; the earth
'Smoulders lurid and angry; he stands on his hearth
'And looks round for the welcome of old, and the place
'Where his wife used to sit with the smile on her face;
'A heap of red ashes lies strewn on the heath.
'But in darkness of night, and with silence of death,
'He sits down, and already reflects on the morrow.
'So I, in the night of my life, with my sorrow!
'Ah ! but henceforth in vain shall I till that wild field.
'It is blasted : no harvest these furrows will yield.
'True! my life hath brought forth only evil, and there
'The wild wind hath planted the wild weed: yet ere
'You exclaim, " Fling the weed to the flames," think again
'Why the field is so barren. With all other men
'First love, though it perish from life, only goes
'Like the primrose that falls to make way for the rose.
'For a man, at least most men, may love on through life:
'Love in fame ; love in knowledge; in work : earth is rife
'With labour, and therefore with love, for a man.
'If one love fails, another succeeds, and the plan
'Of man's life includes love in all objects! But I?
'All such loves from my life through its whole destiny
'Fate excluded. The love that I gave you, alas!
'Was the sole love that life gave to me. Let that pass!
'It pensh'd, and all perish'd with it. Ambition?
'Wealth left nothing to add to my social condition.
'Fame ? But fame in itself presupposes some great
'Field wherein to pursue and attain it. The State?
'I, to cringe to an upstart ? The Camp ? I, to draw
'From its sheath the old sword of the Dukes of Luvois
'To defend usurpation ? Books, then ? Science, Art?
'But, alas! I was fashion'd for action: my heart,
'Wither'd thing though it be, I should hardly compress
''Twixt the leaves of a treatise on Statics: life's stress
'Needs scope, not contraction! what rests? to wear out
'At some dark northern court an existence, no doubt,
'In wretched and paltry intrigues for a cause
'As hopeless as is my own life! By the laws
'Of a fate I can neither control nor dispute,
'I am what I am!'
----------------For a while she was mute.
Then she answer'd, ' We are our own fates. Our own deeds
'Are our doomsmen. Man's life was made not for men's creeds,
'But men's actions. And, Duc de Luvois, I might say
'That all life attests, that "the will makes the way."
'I might say, in a world full of lips that lack bread
'And of souls that lack light, there are mouths to be fed,
'There are wounds to be heal'd, there is work to be done,
'And life can withhold love and duty from none.
'Is the land of our birth less the land of our birth,
'Or its claim the less strong, or its cause the less worth
'Our upholding, because the white lily no more
'Is as sacred as all that it bloom'd for of yore?
'Yet be that as it may be; I cannot perchance
'Judge this matter. I am but a woman, and France
'Has for me simpler duties. Large hope, though, Eug�ne
'De Luvois, should be yours. There is purpose in pain,
'Otherwise it were devilish. I trust in my soul
'That the great master hand which sweeps over the whole
'Of this deep harp of life, if at moments it stretch
'To shrill tension some one wailing nerve, means to fetch
'Its response the truest, most stringent, and smart,
'Its pathos the purest, from out the wrung heart,
'Whose faculties, flaccid it may be, if less
'Sharply strung, sharply smitten, had fail'd to express
'Just the one note the great final harmony needs.
'And what best proves there's life in a heart? - that it bleeds!
'Grant a cause to remove, grant an end to attain,
'Grant both to be just, and what mercy in pain!
'Cease the sin with the sorrow ! See morning begin!
'Pain must burn itself out if not fuell'd by sin.
'There is hope in yon hill-tops, and love in yon light.
'Let hate and despondency die with the night!'
He was moved by her words. As some poor wretch confined
In cells loud with meaningless laughter, whose mind
Wanders trackless amidst its own ruins, may hear
A voice heard long since, silenced many a year,
And now, 'mid mad ravings recaptured again,
Singing thro' the caged lattice a once well-known strain,
Which brings back his boyhood upon it, until
The mind's ruin'd crevices graciously fill
With music and memory, and, as it were,
The long-troubled spirit grows slowly aware
Of the mockery round it, and shrinks from each thing
It once sought, - the poor idiot who pass'd for a king,
Hard by. with his squalid straw crown, now confess'd
A madman more painfully mad than the rest, -
So the sound of her voice, as it there wander'd o'er
His echoing heart, seem'd in part to restore
The forces of thought: he recaptured the whole
Of his life by the light which, in passing, her soul
Reflected on his: he appear'd to awake
From a dream, and perceived he had dream'd a mistake:
His spirit was soften'd, yet troubled in him:
He felt his lips falter, his eyesight grow dim.
But he murmur'd . . .
---------------'Lucile, not for me that sun's light
'Which reveals - not restores - the wild havoc of night.
'There are some creatures born for the night, not the day.
' Broken-hearted the nightingale hides in the spray;
'And the owl's moody mind in his own hollow tower
'Dwells muffled. Be darkness henceforward my dower.
'Light, be sure, in that darkness there dwells, by which eyes
'Grown familiar with ruins may yet recognise
-----------------'Take comfort,' she said,
'Above all, - that in mercy, this niglit, I was led
'To save you, in saving another! Oh yet,
'Thank heaven that you have not quite barter'd regret
'For remorse, nor the sad self-redemptions of grief
'For a self-retribution beyond all relief!'
'Retribution!' he falter'd. 'Ah, that work begins.
'Could you see but the process! Whatever my sins,
'I will live on myself to avenge them, Lucile.
'And if aught on this darkness now gleams, 'tis the steel
'That executes judgment. My own hand lays bare
'The axe that awaits me!'
------------------'Alas, Duke, beware!
'There is a remorse which is sin crowning sin.
' There is a humility which is akin
'To the pride of perdition. The pride that claims here
'On earth to itself (howsoever severe
'To itself it may be) God's dread office and right
' Of punishing sin, is a sin in heaven's sight,
'And against heaven's service. Leave heaven's work to heaven!
'Let us pray, not indeed to be judged, but forgiven;
'Pray for pardon, not penance. Eug�ne de Luvois,
'Leave the judgment to Him who alone knows the law.
'Surely no man can be his own judge, least of all
'His own executioner. Man's pride must fall
'When it stands up in judgment . Then kneel, Eug�ne, kneel,
'And hope, kneeling and praying!' she murmur'd.
He exclaim'd, and unconsciously sank on his knees,
Overawed by her look.
----------------Then, by solemn degrees,
There crept on the midnight within him a cold
Keen gleam of spiritual light. Fold by fold,
The films of his self-gather'd blindness, in part
Were breath'd bare, and the dawn shudder'd into his heart.
She was silent. At length he look'd upward, and saw
That sad serene countenance, mournful as law
And tender as pity, bow'd o'er him: and heard
In some thicket the matinal chirp of a bird.
The dawn, and the dews of the dawn! . . . To his eyes,
Tears, he felt them, youth's long-lost familiars, arise!
'O Lucile! my predestined, inscrutable fate!
'Thou hast forced me to weep, but the tears flow too late.
' Why, I know not! they cannot extinguish the fire
'That consumes me. Leave, leave me the scorn and the ire
' Which are all that can yet give me strength to resign
' Those gentler emotions which might have been mine.'
'Scorn and Ire are but shadows that stand at the gate
'Of the Heavenly Land,' she replied. ' Scorn and hate
'Have no life in themselves. They are devil-born things -
''Tis our cowardice only that gives to them stings.
'They may scare the rash fool, but they cannot dismay
'The hero predestin'd to conquer his way.
'From the eye that hath courage to look in their face
'They shrink into darkness, and leave not a trace
'On the soul, save the sense of a solemn thanksgiving
'For the danger subdued, and the strength found in striving,
'When she enters the calm that is conquered from strife,
'Self-conscious, and sings in the sabbath of life!
'Vulgar natures alone suffer vainly.
'De Luvois, in this life we have met once again,
'And once more life parts us. Yon dayspring for me
'Lifts the veil of a future in which it may be
'We shall meet never more. Grant, oh grant to me yet
'The belief that it is not in vain we have met!
'I plead for the future. A new horoscope
'I would cast: will you read it? I plead for a hope:
'I plead for a memory ; yours, yours alone,
'To restore or to spare. Let the hope be your own,
'Be the memory mine.
--------------'Once of yore, when for man
'Faith yet lived, ere this age of the sluggard began,
'Men, aroused lo the knowledge of evil, fled far
'From the fading rose-gardens of sense, to the war
'With the Pagan, the cave in the desert, and sought
'Not repose, but employment in action or thought,
'Life's strong earnest, in all things! oh think not of me,
'But yourself! for I plead for your own destiny:
'I plead for your life, with its duties undone,
'With its claims unappeased, and its trophies unwon;
'And in pleading for life's fair fulfilment, I plead
'For all that you miss, and for all that you need.'
Last revised: 17 January 2012