And there would be girls sitting on the grass banks of lanes. Stretch-legged and lingering staring - A man might take one of them if he had the courage. But 'No' was in every sentence of their story Except when the public-house came in and shouted its piece. The yellow buttercups and the bluebells among the whin bushes On rocks in the middle of ploughing Was a bright spoke in the wheel Of the peasant's mill.
The goldfinches on the railway paling were worth looking at - A man might imagine then Himself in Brazil and these birds the birds of paradise And the Amazon and the romance traced on the school map lived again. Talk in evening corners and under trees Was like an old book found in a king's tomb. The children gathered round like students and listened And some of the saga defied the draught in the open tomb And was not blown.
X Their intellectual life consisted in reading Reynolds News or the Sunday Dispatch, With sometimes an old almanac brought down from the ceiling Or a school reader brown with the droppings of thatch. The sporting results or the headlines of war Was a humbug profound as the highbrow's Arcana. Pat tried to be wise to the abstraction of all that But its secret dribbled down his waistcoat like a drink from a strainer.
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He wagered a bob each way on the Derby, He got a straight tip from a man in a shop - A double from the Guineas it was and thought himself A master mathematician when one of them came up And he could explain how much he'd have drawn On the double if the second leg had followed the first. He was betting on form and breeding, he claimed, And the man that did that could never be burst.
After that they went on to the war, and the generals On both sides were shown to be stupid as hell. If he'd taken that road, they remarked of a Marshal, He'd have … O they know their geography well This was their university. Maguire was an undergraduate Who dreamed from his lowly position of rising To a professorship like Larry McKenna or Duffy Or the pig-gelder Nallon whose knowledge was amazing.
Did you part with your filly, Jack? I heard that you sold her. XI A year passed and another hurried after it And Patrick Maguire was still six months behind life - His mother six months ahead of it; His sister straddle-legged across it: - One leg in hell and the other in heaven And between the purgatory of middle-aged virginity - She prayed for release to heaven or hell.
His mother's voice grew thinner like a rust-worn knife But it cut venomously as it thinned, It cut him up the middle till he became more woman than man, And it cut through to his mind before the end. Another field whitened in the April air And the harrows rattled over the seed. He gathered the loose stones off the ridges carefully And grumbled to his men to hurry.
He looked like a man who could give advice To foolish young fellows. He was forty-seven, And there was depth in his jaw and his voice was the voice of a great cattle-dealer, A man with whom the fair-green gods break even. I'm taking her as easy, as easy as … Easy there Fanny, easy, pet. It was the evening, evening. Patrick was forgetting to be lonely As he used to be in Aprils long ago. It was the menopause, the misery-pause. The schoolgirls passed his house laughing every morning And sometimes they spoke to him familiarly - He had an idea. Schoolgirls of thirteen Would see no political intrigue in an old man's friendship.
Love The heifer waiting to be nosed by the old bull. That notion passed too - there was the danger of talk And jails are narrower than the five-sod ridge And colder than the black hills facing Armagh in February. He sinned over the warm ashes again and his crime The law's long arm could not serve with time.
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His face set like an old judge's pose: Respectability and righteousness, Stand for no nonsense. The priest from the altar called Patrick Maguire's name To hold the collecting-box in the chapel door During all the Sundays of May. His neighbours envied him his holy rise, But he walked down from the church with affected indifference And took the measure of heaven angle-wise. He still could laugh and sing, But not the wild laugh or the abandoned harmony now That called the world to new silliness from the top of a wooden gate When thirty-five could take the sparrow's bow.
Let us be kind, let us be kind and sympathetic: Maybe life is not for joking or for finding happiness in - This tiny light in Oriental Darkness Looking out chance windows of poetry or prayer. And the grief and defeat of men like these peasants Is God's way - maybe - and we must not want too much To see. The twisted thread is stronger than the wind-swept fleece. And in the end who shall rest in truth's high peace? Or whose is the world now, even now? O let us kneel where the blind ploughman kneels And learn to live without despairing In a mud-walled space - Illiterate unknown and unknowing.
Let us kneel where he kneels And feel what he feels. One day he saw a daisy and he thought it Reminded him of his childhood - He stopped his cart to look at it. Was there a fairy hiding behind it? He helped a poor woman whose cow Had died on her; He dragged home a drunken man on a winter's night And one rare moment he heard the young people playing on the railway stile And he wished them happiness and whatever they most desired from life. He saw the sunlight and begrudged no man His share of what the miserly soil and soul Gives in a season to a ploughman.
And he cried for his own loss one late night on the pillow And yet thanked the God who had arranged these things. Was he then a saint? A Matt Talbot of Monaghan? His sister Mary Anne spat poison at the children Who sometimes came to the door selling raffle tickets For holy funds. I think we'll make This game, the last, a tanner one. I see you're breaking Your two-year-old. Play quick, Maguire, The clock there says it's half-past ten - Kate, throw another sod on that fire. One of the card-players laughs and spits Into the flame across a shoulder. Outside, a noise like a rat Among the hen-roosts.
The cock crows over The frosted townland of the night. Eleven o'clock and still the game Goes on and the players seem to be Drunk in an Orient opium den. Midnight, one o'clock, two. Somebody's leg has fallen asleep. What about home? Maguire, are you Using your double-tree this week? Play the ace. There's it, and that's the last card for me.
A wonderful night, we had. Duffy's place Is very convenient. Is that a ghost or a tree? And so they go home with dragging feet And their voices rumble like laden carts. And they are happy as the dead or sleeping … I should have led that ace of hearts. XII The fields were bleached white, The wooden tubs full of water Were white in the winds That blew through Brannagan's Gap on their way from Siberia; The cows on the grassless heights.
Followed the hay that had wings - The February fodder that hung itself on the black branches Of the hill-top hedge. A man stood beside a potato-pit And clapped his arms And pranced on the crisp roots And shouted to warm himself. Then he buck-leaped about the potatoes And scooped them into a basket.
He looked like a bucking suck-calf Whose spine was being tickled. Sometimes he stared across the bogs And sometimes he straightened his back and vaguely whistled A tune that weakened his spirit And saddened his terrier dog's. A neighbour passed with a spade on his shoulder And Patrick Maguire bent like a bridge Whistled-good morning under his oxter And the man the other side of the hedge Champed his spade on the road at his toes And talked an old sentimentality While the wind blew under his clothes.
The mother sickened and stayed in bed all day, Her head hardly dented the pillow, so light and thin it had worn, But she still enquired after the household affairs. She held the strings of her children's Punch and Judy, and when a mouth opened It was her truth that the dolls would have spoken If they hadn't been made of wood and tin - 'Did you open the barn door, Pat, to let the young calves in?
The likes of you this parish never knew, I'm sure they'll not forget the work you've done. The holy water was sprinkled on the bed-clothes And her children stood around the bed and cried because it was too late for crying. A mother dead! The tired sentiment: 'Mother, Mother' was a shallow pool Where sorrow hardly could wash its feet … Mary Anne came away from the deathbed and boiled the calves their gruel. Where was I looking? Young women and men And I might have joined them. Who bent the coin of my destiny That it stuck in the slot? I remember a night we walked Through the moon of Donaghmoyne, Four of us seeking adventure, It was midsummer forty years ago.
Now I know The moment that gave the turn to my life. O Christ! I am locked in a stable with pigs and cows for ever. The birds that sing for him are eternal choirs , Everywhere he walks there are flowers. His heart is pure, His mind is clear, He can talk to God as Moses and Isaiah talked The peasant who is only one remove from the beasts he drives. Without the peasant base civilisation must die, Unless the clay is in the mouth the singer's singing is useless. The travellers touch the roots of the grass and feel renewed When they grasp the steering wheels again. The peasant is the unspoiled child of Prophecy, The peasant is all virtues - let us salute him without irony The peasant ploughman who is half a vegetable - Who can react to sun and rain and sometimes even Regret that the Maker of Light had not touched him more intensely.
Brought him up from the sub-soil to an existence Of conscious joy. He was not born blind. He is not always blind: sometimes the cataract yields To sudden stone-falling or the desire to breed. The girls pass along the roads And he can remember what man is, But there is nothing he can do. Is there nothing he can do? Is there no escape? No escape, no escape. The cows and horses breed, And the potato-seed Gives a bud and a root and rots In the good mother's way with her sons; The fledged bird is thrown From the nest - on its own.
But the peasant in his little acres is tied To a mother's womb by the wind-toughened navel-cord Like a goat tethered to the stump of a tree - He circles around and around wondering why it should be.
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No crash, No drama. That was how his life happened. No mad hooves galloping in the sky, But the weak, washy way of true tragedy - A sick horse nosing around the meadow for a clean place to die. XIV We may come out in the October reality, Imagination, The sleety wind no longer slants to the black hill where Maguire And his men are now collecting the scattered harness and baskets. The dog sitting on a wisp of dry stalks Watches them through the shadows. Maguire himself is patting a potato-pit against the weather - An old man fondling a new-piled grave: 'Joe, I hope you didn't forget to hide the spade.
For there's rogues in the townland. Hide it flat in a furrow. I think we ought to be finished by to-morrow. Their voices through the darkness sound like voices from a cave, A dull thudding far away, futile, feeble, far away, First cousins to the ghosts of the townland. A light stands in a window.
Mary Anne Has the table set and the tea-pot waiting in the ashes. She goes to the door and listens and then she calls From the top of the haggard-wall : 'What's keeping you And the cows to be milked and all the other work there's to do? Applause, applause From the homing carts and the trees And the bawling cows at the gates.
From the screeching water-hens And the mill-race heavy with the Lammas floods curving over the weir A train at the station blowing off steam And the hysterical laughter of the defeated everywhere. Night, and the futile cards are shuffled again. Maguire spreads his legs over the impotent cinders that wake no manhood now And he hardly looks to see which card is trump. His sister tightens her legs and her lips and frizzles up Like the wick of an oil-less lamp.
The curtain falls - Applause, applause. Maguire is not afraid of death, the Church will light him a candle To see his way through the vaults and he'll understand the Quality of the clay that dribbles over his coffin. He'll know the names of the roots that climb down to tickle his feet. And he will feel no different than when he walked through Donaghmoyne. If he stretches out a hand - a wet clod, If he opens his nostrils - a dungy smell; If he opens his eyes once in a million years - Through a crack in the crust of the earth he may see a face nodding in Or a woman's legs.
Shut them again for that sight is sin. He will hardly remember that life happened to him - Something was brighter a moment. Somebody sang in the distance A procession passed down a mesmerized street. He remembers names like Easter and Christmas By colour his fields were. Maybe he will be born again, a bird of an angel's conceit To sing the gospel of life To a music as flighty tangent As a tune on an oboe.
And the serious look of his fields will have changed to the leer of a hobo. Swaggering celestially home to his three wishes granted. Will that be? Or is the earth right that laughs haw-haw And does not believe In an unearthly law. The earth that says: Patrick Maguire, the old peasant, can neither be damned nor glorified: The graveyard in which he will lie will be just a deep-drilled potato-field Where the seed gets no chance to come through To the fun of the sun.
The tongue in his mouth is the root of a yew. Silence, silence. The story is done. He stands in the doorway of his house A ragged sculpture of the wind, October creaks the rotted mattress, The bedposts fall. No hope. No lust. The hungry fiend Screams the apocalypse of clay In every corner of this land.
It's hard not to be completely taken, and saddened by an extensive piece like this. Made my heart drop in my chest. I can't really say I've been through anything as traumatic or heart-wrenching in my own life. It's difficult knowing thousands had to, and I think this piece really displays the pain of a single man.
Probably also that of many others in a similar situation. I'd like to read so much more. Strike me dumb. I've not heard of Kavanagh before reading this. The imagery of open and closed, seasons, roads, clay and so much more. It's pretty mind blowing at least to me. I'd say profound, but I think Kavanagh would turn in his grave. I'll join celticwarrior in thanking AP. For Kavanagh, the Great hunger in the middle part of the twentieth century in Ireland was hunger for love and sexual fulfillment.
Although the poem The Great Hunger was the peasant name for the famine of the 's, in this context of the poem, the great hunger suggests a hunger for love and sexual fulfillment. I cannot relate to this poem as it is totally male oriented Kavanagh was born on the 21st of October , in the village of Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan, Ireland. His father was a shoemaker and had a small farm of land. At the age of thirteen Kavanagh became an apprentice shoemaker. He gave it up 15 months later, admitting that he didn't make one wearable pair of boots. For the next 20 years, Kavanagh would work on the family farm before moving to Dublin in Kavanagh's writing resulted in the publication of some poems in a local newspaper in the early 's.
In , his brother Peter, who was a Dublin based teacher, urged him to move to the city to establish himself as a writer. Add to list. The Great Hunger I Clay is the word and clay is the flesh Where the potato-gatherers like mechanised scarecrows move Along the side-fall of the hill - Maguire and his men. Likes: M. Terry Collett - neat poem. Seamus - I forget who approximately said, "The English may have invented the language, but it was the Irish who perfected it.
This is too Irish to be universal, but it really illustrated who many of the rural Irish were and how their lives were shaped by the forces surrounding them, the Church, the "neighbor", the enforced poverty, the weather, land and tribal culture. It's taken generations for the Irish to begin to emerge from their spiritual captivity. He almost took a photograph of it to preserve it for those who would follow. Seamus - Strike me dumb.
I will overlook him no longer. Thank you, AP for introducing us. This poem is rich with lyricism and subconscious magic rambling. It is suffused in Irish culture and history. Though it is limited to a masculine perspective, it presents its perspective. Kavanagh earns my admiration by defying the opinions of DeValera and Yeats who had a romantic and unrealistic view of Ireland. The intensity of Maguire's hunger for sexual fulfilment is powerfully conveyed when Kavanagh compares it to the Great Hunger of the Famine.
Maguire will be buried in the very land that held him in impoverished servitude, his resting place marked by the symbol of the religion that so impeded his sexual and emotional development. Seriously its not about the famine its about the represed countryman in contadiction to de valera's image at the time of the country sexual frustrationa and above all: LAND.
The stumps stand thick round the clearing, the squatter strikes deep with his axe,. Flatboatmen make fast towards dusk near the cotton-wood or pecan-trees,. Coon-seekers go through the regions of the Red river or through those drain'd by the Tennessee, or through those of the Arkansas,. Torches shine in the dark that hangs on the Chattahooche or Altamahaw,. Patriarchs sit at supper with sons and grandsons and great-grand- sons around them,. In walls of adobie, in canvas tents, rest hunters and trappers after their day's sport,.
The old husband sleeps by his wife and the young husband sleeps by his wife;. Stuff'd with the stuff that is coarse and stuff'd with the stuff that is fine,. One of the Nation of many nations, the smallest the same and the largest the same,. A Southerner soon as a Northerner, a planter nonchalant and hospitable down by the Oconee I live,.
A Yankee bound my own way ready for trade, my joints the limberest joints on earth and the sternest joints on earth,. A Kentuckian walking the vale of the Elkhorn in my deer-skin leggings, a Louisianian or Georgian,. A boatman over lakes or bays or along coasts, a Hoosier, Badger, Buckeye;. At home on Kanadian snow-shoes or up in the bush, or with fishermen off Newfoundland,.
At home in the fleet of ice-boats, sailing with the rest and tack- ing,. At home on the hills of Vermont or in the woods of Maine, or the Texan ranch,.
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Comrade of Californians, comrade of free North-Westerners, lov- ing their big proportions,. Comrade of raftsmen and coalmen, comrade of all who shake hands and welcome to drink and meat,. The bright suns I see and the dark suns I cannot see are in their place,. These are really the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands, they are not original with me,. If they are not yours as much as mine they are nothing, or next to nothing,. If they are not the riddle and the untying of the riddle they are nothing,.
If they are not just as close as they are distant they are nothing. This is the grass that grows wherever the land is and the water is,. I play not marches for accepted victors only, I play marches for conquer'd and slain persons. I also say it is good to fall, battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won. And to all generals that lost engagements, and all overcome heroes! And the numberless unknown heroes equal to the greatest heroes known! It is for the wicked just the same as the righteous, I make appoint- ments with all,.
This is the press of a bashful hand, this the float and odor of hair,. Well I have, for the Fourth-month showers have, and the mica on the side of a rock has. Does the daylight astonish? Whimpering and truckling fold with powders for invalids, con- formity goes to the fourth-remov'd,. Having pried through the strata, analyzed to a hair, counsel'd with doctors and calculated close,.
In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barley-corn less,. I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept by a carpenter's compass,. I know I shall not pass like a child's carlacue cut with a burnt stick at night. I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I plant my house by, after all.
One world is aware and by far the largest to me, and that is my- self,. And whether I come to my own to-day or in ten thousand or ten million years,. I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can wait. The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me,. The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into a new tongue.
It is a trifle, they will more than arrive there every one, and still pass on. Press close bare-bosom'd night—press close magnetic nourishing night! Earth of the vitreous pour of the full moon just tinged with blue! Earth of the limpid gray of clouds brighter and clearer for my sake! Prodigal, you have given me love—therefore I to you give love! We must have a turn together, I undress, hurry me out of sight of the land,. Sea of the brine of life and of unshovell'd yet always-ready graves,. Partaker of influx and efflux I, extoller of hate and conciliation,. Shall I make my list of things in the house and skip the house that supports them?
I am not the poet of goodness only, I do not decline to be the poet of wickedness also. Evil propels me and reform of evil propels me, I stand indifferent,. Did you guess the celestial laws are yet to be work'd over and rectified? What behaved well in the past or behaves well to-day is not such a wonder,. The wonder is always and always how there can be a mean man or an infidel. Here or henceforward it is all the same to me, I accept Time abso- lutely. This is the lexicographer, this the chemist, this made a grammar of the old cartouches,.
This is the geologist, this works with the scalpel, and this is a mathematician. And more the reminders they of life untold, and of freedom and extrication,. And make short account of neuters and geldings, and favor men and women fully equipt,. And beat the gong of revolt, and stop with fugitives and them that plot and conspire. No sentimentalist, no stander above men and women or apart from them,.
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Through me the afflatus surging and surging, through me the cur- rent and index. By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their coun- terpart of on the same terms. And of the threads that connect the stars, and of wombs and of the father-stuff,. I keep as delicate around the bowels as around the head and heart,.
Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and tag of me is a miracle. Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am touch'd from,. If I worship one thing more than another it shall be the spread of my own body, or any part of it,.
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Root of wash'd sweet-flag! Winds whose soft-tickling genitals rub against me it shall be you! Broad muscular fields, branches of live oak, loving lounger in my winding paths, it shall be you! Hands I have taken, face I have kiss'd, mortal I have ever touch'd, it shall be you. I cannot tell how my ankles bend, nor whence the cause of my faintest wish,. Nor the cause of the friendship I emit, nor the cause of the friend- ship I take again. A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the meta- physics of books. Hefts of the moving world at innocent gambols silently rising freshly exuding,.
The earth by the sky staid with, the daily close of their junction,. We found our own O my soul in the calm and cool of the day- break. With the twirl of my tongue I encompass worlds and volumes of worlds. Come now I will not be tantalized, you conceive too much of articulation,. My knowledge my live parts, it keeping tally with the meaning of all things,. Happiness, which whoever hears me let him or her set out in search of this day. My final merit I refuse you, I refuse putting from me what I really am,.
To accrue what I hear into this song, to let sounds contribute toward it. I hear bravuras of birds, bustle of growing wheat, gossip of flames, clack of sticks cooking my meals,. Sounds of the city and sounds out of the city, sounds of the day and night,. Talkative young ones to those that like them, the loud laugh of work-people at their meals,. The angry base of disjointed friendship, the faint tones of the sick,. The judge with hands tight to the desk, his pallid lips pronoun- cing a death-sentence,. The heave'e'yo of stevedores unlading ships by the wharves, the refrain of the anchor-lifters,.
The ring of alarm-bells, the cry of fire, the whirr of swift-streak- ing engines and hose-carts with premonitory tinkles and color'd lights,. The steam-whistle, the solid roll of the train of approaching cars,. The slow march play'd at the head of the association marching two and two,. They go to guard some corpse, the flag-tops are draped with black muslin. I hear the violoncello, 'tis the young man's heart's complaint,. It wrenches such ardors from me I did not know I possess'd them,. It sails me, I dab with bare feet, they are lick'd by the indolent waves,.
Steep'd amid honey'd morphine, my windpipe throttled in fakes of death,. If nothing lay more develop'd the quahaug in its callous shell were enough. To touch my person to some one else's is about as much as I can stand. My flesh and blood playing out lightning to strike what is hardly different from myself,. Deluding my confusion with the calm of the sunlight and pasture- fields,.
They bribed to swap off with touch and go and graze at the edges of me,. I talk wildly, I have lost my wits, I and nobody else am the greatest traitor,. I went myself first to the headland, my own hands carried me there. You villain touch! Blind loving wrestling touch, sheath'd hooded sharp-tooth'd touch! Sprouts take and accumulate, stand by the curb prolific and vital,. And a summit and flower there is the feeling they have for each other,.
And they are to branch boundlessly out of that lesson until it becomes omnific,. I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars,. And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg of the wren,. I find I incorporate gneiss, coal, long-threaded moss, fruits, grains, esculent roots,. In vain the plutonic rocks send their old heat against my approach,.
In vain the ocean settling in hollows and the great monsters lying low,. I follow quickly, I ascend to the nest in the fissure of the cliff. I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain'd,. Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,. Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,.
They bring me tokens of myself, they evince them plainly in their possession. Picking out here one that I love, and now go with him on brotherly terms. A gigantic beauty of a stallion, fresh and responsive to my caresses,. Eyes full of sparkling wickedness, ears finely cut, flexibly moving. His well-built limbs tremble with pleasure as we race around and return. And again as I walk'd the beach under the paling stars of the morning. By the city's quadrangular houses—in log huts, camping with lumbermen,. Along the ruts of the turnpike, along the dry gulch and rivulet bed,.
Weeding my onion-patch or hoeing rows of carrots and parsnips, crossing savannas, trailing in forests,. Scorch'd ankle-deep by the hot sand, hauling my boat down the shallow river,. Where the panther walks to and fro on a limb overhead, where the buck turns furiously at the hunter,. Where the rattlesnake suns his flabby length on a rock, where the otter is feeding on fish,. Where the black bear is searching for roots or honey, where the beaver pats the mud with his paddle-shaped tail;.
Over the growing sugar, over the yellow-flower'd cotton plant, over the rice in its low moist field,. Over the sharp-peak'd farm house, with its scallop'd scum and slender shoots from the gutters,. Over the western persimmon, over the long-leav'd corn, over the delicate blue-flower flax,. Over the white and brown buckwheat, a hummer and buzzer there with the rest,.
Over the dusky green of the rye as it ripples and shades in the breeze;. Scaling mountains, pulling myself cautiously up, holding on by low scragged limbs,. Walking the path worn in the grass and beat through the leaves of the brush,. Where the bat flies in the Seventh-month eve, where the great gold- bug drops through the dark,. Where the brook puts out of the roots of the old tree and flows to the meadow,. Where cattle stand and shake away flies with the tremulous shud- dering of their hides,. Where the cheese-cloth hangs in the kitchen, where andirons straddle the hearth-slab, where cobwebs fall in festoons from the rafters;.
Where trip-hammers crash, where the press is whirling its cylinders,. Wherever the human heart beats with terrible throes under its ribs,. Where the pear-shaped balloon is floating aloft, floating in it my- self and looking composedly down,. Where the life-car is drawn on the slip-noose, where the heat hatches pale-green eggs in the dented sand,. Where the fin of the shark cuts like a black chip out of the water,. Where shells grow to her slimy deck, where the dead are corrupt- ing below;. Where the dense-starr'd flag is borne at the head of the regiments,.
Under Niagara, the cataract falling like a veil over my countenance,. Upon the race-course, or enjoying picnics or jigs or a good game of base-ball,. At he-festivals, with blackguard gibes, ironical license, bull-dances, drinking, laughter,. At the cider-mill tasting the sweets of the brown mash, sucking the juice through a straw,. At musters, beach-parties, friendly bees, huskings, house-raisings;.
Where the mocking-bird sounds his delicious gurgles, cackles, screams, weeps,. Where the hay-rick stands in the barn-yard, where the dry-stalks are scatter'd, where the brood-cow waits in the hovel,. Where the bull advances to do his masculine work, where the stud to the mare, where the cock is treading the hen,. Where the heifers browse, where geese nip their food with short jerks,. Where sun-down shadows lengthen over the limitless and lonesome prairie,.
Where herds of buffalo make a crawling spread of the square miles far and near,. Where the humming-bird shimmers, where the neck of the long- lived swan is curving and winding,. Where the laughing-gull scoots by the shore, where she laughs her near-human laugh,. Where bee-hives range on a gray bench in the garden half hid by the high weeds,. Where band-neck'd partridges roost in a ring on the ground with their heads out,. Where the yellow-crown'd heron comes to the edge of the marsh at night and feeds upon small crabs,.
Where the katy-did works her chromatic reed on the walnut-tree over the well,. Through patches of citrons and cucumbers with silver-wired leaves,. Through the gymnasium, through the curtain'd saloon, through the office or public hall;. Pleas'd with the native and pleas'd with the foreign, pleas'd with the new and old,. Pleas'd with the quakeress as she puts off her bonnet and talks melodiously,. Pleas'd with the earnest words of the sweating Methodist preach- er, impress'd seriously at the camp-meeting;.
Looking in at the shop-windows of Broadway the whole forenoon, flatting the flesh of my nose on the thick plate glass,. Wandering the same afternoon with my face turn'd up to the clouds, or down a lane or along the beach,. My right and left arms round the sides of two friends, and I in the middle;. Coming home with the silent and dark-cheek'd bush-boy, behind me he rides at the drape of the day,. Far from the settlements studying the print of animals' feet, or the moccasin print,. By the cot in the hospital reaching lemonade to a feverish patient,.
Nigh the coffin'd corpse when all is still, examining with a candle;. Solitary at midnight in my back yard, my thoughts gone from me a long while,. Walking the old hills of Judaea with the beautiful gentle God by my side,. Speeding amid the seven satellites and the broad ring, and the diameter of eighty thousand miles,. Carrying the crescent child that carries its own full mother in its belly,. My messengers continually cruise away or bring their returns to me. I go hunting polar furs and the seal, leaping chasms with a pike- pointed staff, clinging to topples of brittle and blue.
Through the clear atmosphere I stretch around on the wonderful beauty,. The enormous masses of ice pass me and I pass them, the scenery is plain in all directions,. The white-topt mountains show in the distance, I fling out my fancies toward them,. We are approaching some great battle-field in which we are soon to be engaged,.
We pass the colossal outposts of the encampment, we pass with still feet and caution,. The blocks and fallen architecture more than all the living cities of the globe. My voice is the wife's voice, the screech by the rail of the stairs,. How the skipper saw the crowded and rudderless wreck of the steam-ship, and Death chasing it up and down the storm,. How he knuckled tight and gave not back an inch, and was faith ful of days and faithful of nights,.
And chalk'd in large letters on a board, Be of good cheer, we will not desert you;. How he follow'd with them and tack'd with them three days and would not give it up,. How the lank loose-gown'd women look'd when boated from the side of their prepared graves,. How the silent old-faced infants and the lifted sick, and the sharp- lipp'd unshaved men;. All this I swallow, it tastes good, I like it well, it becomes mine,. The mother of old, condemn'd for a witch, burnt with dry wood, her children gazing on,. The hounded slave that flags in the race, leans by the fence, blow- ing, cover'd with sweat,.
The twinges that sting like needles his legs and neck, the mur- derous buckshot and the bullets,. Hell and despair are upon me, crack and again crack the marks- men,. I clutch the rails of the fence, my gore dribs, thinn'd with the ooze of my skin,. Taunt my dizzy ears and beat me violently over the head with whip-stocks. I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person,. Heat and smoke I inspired, I heard the yelling shouts of my com- rades,.
I lie in the night air in my red shirt, the pervading hush is for my sake,. White and beautiful are the faces around me, the heads are bared of their fire-caps,. They show as the dial or move as the hands of me, I am the clock myself. The fall of grenades through the rent roof, the fan-shaped explo- sion,. Again gurgles the mouth of my dying general, he furiously waves with his hand,. He gasps through the clot Mind not me—mind—the entrench- ments. Retreating they had form'd in a hollow square with their baggage for breastworks,.
Nine hundred lives out of the surrounding enemy's, nine times their number, was the price they took in advance,. They treated for an honorable capitulation, receiv'd writing and seal, gave up their arms and march'd back prisoners of war. The second First-day morning they were brought out in squads and massacred, it was beautiful early summer,.
Some made a mad and helpless rush, some stood stark and straight,. A few fell at once, shot in the temple or heart, the living and dead lay together,. The maim'd and mangled dug in the dirt, the new-comers saw hem there,. These were despatch'd with bayonets or batter'd with the blunts of muskets,. A youth not seventeen years old seiz'd his assassin till two more came to release him,. That is the tale of the murder of the four hundred and twelve young men.
List to the yarn, as my grandmother's father the sailor told it to me. His was the surly English pluck, and there is no tougher or truer, and never was, and never will be;. On our lower-gun-deck two large pieces had burst at the first fire, killing all around and blowing up overhead. Ten o'clock at night, the full moon well up, our leaks on the gain, and five feet of water reported,. The master-at-arms loosing the prisoners confined in the after-hold to give them a chance for themselves.
The transit to and from the magazine is now stopt by the sentinels,. We have not struck, he composedly cries, we have just begun our part of the fighting. One is directed by the captain himself against the enemy's main- mast,. Two well serv'd with grape and canister silence his musketry and clear his decks.
The tops alone second the fire of this little battery, especially the main-top,. The leaks gain fast on the pumps, the fire eats toward the powder- magazine. One of the pumps has been shot away, it is generally thought we are sinking. Toward twelve there in the beams of the moon they surrender to us. Our vessel riddled and slowly sinking, preparations to pass to the one we have conquer'd,. The captain on the quarter-deck coldly giving his orders through a countenance white as a sheet,. The dead face of an old salt with long white hair and carefully curl'd whiskers,.
The flames spite of all that can be done flickering aloft and below,. Formless stacks of bodies and bodies by themselves, dabs of flesh upon the masts and spars,. Cut of cordage, dangle of rigging, slight shock of the soothe of waves,. Delicate sniffs of sea-breeze, smells of sedgy grass and fields by the shore, death-messages given in charge to survivors,. Wheeze, cluck, swash of falling blood, short wild scream, and long, dull, tapering groan,. For me the keepers of convicts shoulder their carbines and keep watch,.
Not a mutineer walks handcuff'd to jail but I am handcuff'd to him and walk by his side,. I am less the jolly one there, and more the silent one with sweat on my twitching lips. Not a youngster is taken for larceny but I go up too, and am tried and sentenced. Not a cholera patient lies at the last gasp but I also lie at the last gasp,.
My face is ash-color'd, my sinews gnarl, away from me people retreat. Askers embody themselves in me and I am embodied in them,. Give me a little time beyond my cuff'd head, slumbers, dreams, gaping,. That I could forget the trickling tears and the blows of the bludg- eons and hammers!
That I could look with a separate look on my own crucifixion and bloody crowning. The grave of rock multiplies what has been confided to it, or to any graves,. I troop forth replenish'd with supreme power, one of an average unending procession,. The blossoms we wear in our hats the growth of thousands of years. They desire he should like them, touch them, speak to them, stay with them. Slow-stepping feet, common features, common modes and ema- nations,. They are wafted with the odor of his body or breath, they fly out of the glance of his eyes. And might tell what it is in me and what it is in you, but cannot,.
And might tell that pining I have, that pulse of my nights and days. I am not to be denied, I compel, I have stores plenty and to spare,. And when you rise in the morning you will find what I tell you is so.
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In my portfolio placing Manito loose, Allah on a leaf, the crucifix engraved,. They bore mites as for unfledg'd birds who have now to rise and fly and sing for themselves,. Accepting the rough deific sketches to fill out better in myself, bestowing them freely on each man and woman I see,. Putting higher claims for him there with his roll'd-up sleeves driving the mallet and chisel,.
Not objecting to special revelations, considering a curl of smoke or a hair on the back of my hand just as curious as any revelation,. Lads ahold of fire-engines and hook-and-ladder ropes no less to me than the gods of the antique wars,. Their brawny limbs passing safe over charr'd laths, their white foreheads whole and unhurt out of the flames;. By the mechanic's wife with her babe at her nipple interceding for every person born,. Three scythes at harvest whizzing in a row from three lusty angels with shirts bagg'd out at their waists,. The snag-tooth'd hostler with red hair redeeming sins past and to come,.