Poetry Monster

A Quick Ode to Spam, a Poem about Spam

A Quick Ode to Spam
A Quick Ode to Spam/ Fair Use. Illustration credit: The SPAM museum in Austin, MN,  
Photo by Ackerman + Gruber @ackermangruber

A Poem about Spam

A Quick Ode to Spam

Not every sale must be a scam
Not every can of canned pork Spam
Besides, Spam is quite delicious
Though some folks say it’s not nutritious
But what a hungry morning begs
Bien sûr, it begs for Spam and eggs
So for the pleasure of programming
Let us enjoy both spam and spamming


Poetry Monster

Love’s Wisdom poem – Alfred Austin

Love, that in my mind seeks Reason’s aid. Paraphrase.

I crave not love, for it would only bring

Tears to your eyes, and anguish to your heart;

I am in Autumn, you are still in Spring,

And you must linger after I depart.

Then to you Summer would scarce Summer be,

Vainly for you the roses bloom and climb,

Vainly Life’s harvest ripen on the tree,

Withered by Winter long before its time.

Therefore, let loving, dear, be mine alone,

You yielding only tenderness and trust,

So that to you be widowhood unknown,

And you with tears not deify my dust.

Enough for me if in your voice, your eyes,

I dream of bliss, but strain not for the prize.

Poetry Monster

Love’s Fitfulness poem – Alfred Austin

You say that I am fitful. Sweet, ’tis true;

But ’tis that I your fitfulness obey.

If you are April, how can I be May,

Or flaunt bright roses when you wear sad rue?

Shine like the sun, and my sky will be blue;

Sing, and the lark shall envy me my lay:

I do but follow where you point the way,

And what I feel you doing, straight must do.

The wind might just as well reproach the vane,

As you upbraid me for my shiftings, dear:

Blow from the south, and south I shall remain;

If you keep fixed, be sure I shall not veer.

Nay, on your change my changes so depend,

If ends your love, why then my love must end.

Poetry Monster

Love Of Life poem – Alfred Austin

Why love life more, the less of it be left,

And what is left be little but the lees,

And Time’s subsiding passions have bereft

One’s taste for pleasure, and one’s power to please?

Is it not better, like the waning year,

Without lament resignedly to fade,

Since by enduring ordinance all things here

Are in their season shattered and decayed?

If you have shared in April’s freshet song,

And Summer can without reproach recall,

Yearn not Autumnal harvest to prolong,

Nor shrink from Winter that awaits us all;

But, lightened of the load of earthly ties,

Pursue with homeward step your journey to the skies.

Poetry Monster

Love Of Life poem – Alfred Austin

Why love life more, the less of it be left,

And what is left be little but the lees,

And Time’s subsiding passions have bereft

One’s taste for pleasure, and one’s power to please?

Is it not better, like the waning year,

Without lament resignedly to fade,

Since by enduring ordinance all things here

Are in their season shattered and decayed?

If you have shared in April’s freshet song,

And Summer can without reproach recall,

Yearn not Autumnal harvest to prolong,

Nor shrink from Winter that awaits us all;

But, lightened of the load of earthly ties,

Pursue with homeward step your journey to the skies.

Poetry Monster

Lost poem – Alfred Austin

Sweet lark! that, bedded in the tangled grass,

Protractest dewy slumbers, wake, arise!

The brightest moments of the morning pass-

Thou shouldst be up, and carolling in the skies.

Go up! go up! and melt into the blue,

And to heaven’s veil on wings of song repair;

But, ere thou dost descend to earth, peep through,

And see if She be there.

Sweet stockdove! cooing in the flushing wood,

On one green bough brooding till morn hath died,

Oh, leave the perch where thou too long hast stood,

And with strong wings flutter the leaves aside!

Fly on, fly on, past feathery copse, nor stay

Till thou hast skimmed o’er all the woodlands fair!

And when thou hast, then speeding back thy way,

Tell me if She be there.

Sweet breeze! that, wearied with the heat of noon,

Upon a bank of daffodils didst die,

Oh, if thou lov’st me, quit thy perfumed swoon,

And, all refreshed, hither and thither hie.

Traverse the glades where browse the dappled deer,

Thrid the deep dells where none but thou mayst dare;

And then, sweet breeze, returning, to my ear

Whisper if She be there.

Sweet rivulet! running far too fast to stay,

Yet hear my plaint, e’en as thou rollest on!

I am alone-alone-both night and day,

For she I love was with me, and is gone.

Oh, shouldst thou find her on the golden beach

Whither thou speedest ocean’s joys to share,

Remount thy course, despite what sophists teach,

And tell me She is there.

Not there! Nor there! Not in the far-off sky,

Close-keeping woods, or by the shining sea!

When lark, dove, breeze, and rivulet vainly try

To find my sweet-oh, where then may she be?

Hath she then left me-me she vowed so dear,

And she whose shadow dusks all other charms?

O foolish messengers! Look, look! She’s here,

Enfolded in my arms!

Poetry Monster

Lines Written On Visiting The Chateaux On The Loire poem – Alfred Austin


“River rolling past the grey

Battlements of yesterday,

Palace strongholds reared by hands

Summoned from transalpine lands,

Skilled in wedding strength with grace,

Fort with stately dwelling-place,

Vizored brow with siren tress,

Majesty with loveliness,-

River, that beheld their sway

Dawn and dwindle, then decay,

Linger, loiter, while I sit,

As the sunshine-shadows flit,

Pondering pictures of the vast

Panorama of the Past,

And, with retrospective gaze,

Tell me of the vanished days.”


Still the river rolled and rolled

‘Twixt its banks of green and gold,

Winding, wandering, slowly through

Starwort white and speedwell blue,

Flowing onward, heedless where,

Irresponsive to my prayer.


But, as motionless I dreamed

Of dim yesterdays, there seemed

From the plain to reach mine ears

Murmurings of the bygone years,

Till the river’s undertone

Blent its musings with my own.


“Seaward I meander on,

All unchanged to gaze upon,

As when sceptre, pomp, and power,

Threatening parapet and tower,

Warrior grim and maiden gay

Fought and laughed the hours away:

Captains, Cardinals, and Kings,

Sepulchred with meaner things,

Nothing to distinguish now

Mitred head from minion brow,

Fleshless skull from fleshless skull,

Arrogant from beautiful;

Nameless relics of a name:-

I alone abide the same.”


Lingering still, I sate and mused,

Thought and feeling interfused

With the Châteaux and the stream

In an intermittent dream,

Till the Future wore at last

Likeness to the shadowy Past,

And I wondered if to-day,

Loftily as yesterday,

Will, departing, leave behind

Monuments of heart and mind,

Love and reverence will restore,

When men dwell in them no more.

Poetry Monster

Let The Weary World Go Round poem – Alfred Austin

Let the weary world go round!

What care I?

Life’s a surfeiting of sound:

I would die.

It would be so sweet to lie

Under waving grasses,

Where a maiden’s footstep sly,

Tremulous for a lover nigh,

Sometimes passes.

Why, why remain?

Graves are the sovereign simples

Against life’s pain;

Graves are the sheltering wimples

Against life’s rain;

Graves are a mother’s dimples

When we complain.

O Death! beautiful Death!

Why do they thee disfigure?

To me thy touch, thy breath,

Hath nor alarm nor rigour.

Thee do I long await;

I think thee very late;

I pine much to be going.

Others have gone before;

I hunger more and more

To know what they are knowing.

Heart, heart! be thou content!

Accept thy banishment;

Like other sorrows, life will end for thee.

Yet for a little while

Bear with this harsh exìle,

And Death will soften and will send for thee.

Poetry Monster

Leszko The Bastard poem – Alfred Austin

“Why do I bid the rising gale

To waft me from your shore?

Why hail I, as the vultures hail,

The scent of far-off gore?

Why wear I with defiant pride

The Paynim’s badge and gear,

Though I am vowed to Christ that died,

And fain would staunch the gaping side

That felt the sceptic spear?

And why doth one in whom there runs

The blood of Sclavic sires and sons,

In those but find a foe,

That onward march with sword and flame,

To vindicate the Sclavic name,

From the fringe of Arctic snows,

To the cradle of the rose,

Where the Sweet Waters flow?

Strange! But ’twere stranger yet if I,

When Turk and Tartar splinters fly,

Lagged far behind the van.

While the wind dallies with my sail,

Listen! and you shall hear my tale;

Then marvel, if you can!

“Nothing but snow! A white waste world,

Far as eye reached, or voice could call!

Motion within itself slept furled;

The earth was dead, and Heaven its pall!

Now nothing lived except the wind,

That, moaning round with restless mind,

Seemed like uncoffined ghost to flit

O’er vacant tracts, that it might find

Some kindred thing to speak with it.

Nothing to break the white expanse!

No far, no near, no high, no low!

Nothing to stop the wandering glance!

One smooth monotony of snow!

I lifted the latch, and I shivered in;

My mother stood by the larch-log blaze,

My mother, stately, and tall, and thin,

With the shapely head and the soft white skin,

And the sweetly-sorrowing gaze.

She was younger than you, aye, you who stand

In matron prime by your household fire,

A happy wife in a happy land,

And with all your heart’s desire.

But though bred, like you, from the proud and brave,

Her hair was blanched and her voice was grave.

If you knew what it is to be born a slave,

And to feel a despot’s ire!

“She turned her round from the hearth like one

That hath waited long, and said,

`Come hither, and sit by me, my son!

For somehow to-night doth remembrance run

Back to the days that are dead.

And you are tall and stalwart now,

And coming manhood o’er your brow

Its shadow ‘gins to shed.

Sit by me close!’ and as I sate

Close, close as I could sit,

She took my hand and placed it flat

On hers, and fondled it.

Then with the same soft palm she brushed

My wind-tossed locks apart,

And, kissing my bared temples, hushed

The flow of love that else had gushed,

Love-loosened, from my heart.

“`Listen! you often have questioned why

Here ‘neath this pale Siberian sky,

You scarcely live, I slowly die.

That we dwell on, but exiles here,

In regions barren, sunless, drear,

And have no more the power to fly

To brighter lands and bluer sky,

Than some poor bird whom man’s caprice

Hath tethered by a clanking chain,

And leaves upon its perch in pain

To pine for, ne’er to find release,-

This do you know, and still have known

Since first I taught your mouth to frame

The syllables of Poland’s name,

Even before my own.

But how could I to childhood’s ears,

Or boyhood’s, tell the tale of tears

That links me with the bygone years?-

Tale steeped in rapture, drenched with woe,

A tale of wrong, and loss, and love,

That opens in the heavens above,

And ends in worse than hell below?-

A tale I only could impart

To mind mature and full-grown heart;

A tale to fill your larger life

With hissing waters of distress

And overflowing bitterness,

And set you with yourself at strife?

But you must hear it now. The down

Of manhood fringes lip and cheek;

Your temples take a richer brown,

And on your forehead buds the crown

Of kingly thought that yet will speak.

Listen! and let no faintest word

Of all I utter fall unheard

Upon your ear or heart!

‘Twill wring your youth, but nerve it too:-

And what have I now left to do,

But unveil tyranny to view,

And wing the avenging dart?

“`So like to you! The same blue eye,

Same lavish locks, same forehead high,

But of a manlier majesty!

His limbs, like yours, were straight and strong,

Yet supple as the bough in bud;

For tyrants cannot tame the blood,

Or noble lineage lose, through wrong

Its heritage of hardihood.

And maybe since his years were more,

And partly that you needs must bear

In every filial vein and pore

With his pure strain the base alloy

Of that in you which is my share,

Though you are tall and comely, boy!

Yet he was taller, comelier.

In days that now but live in song,

When Rurik’s hinds felt Poland’s heel,

And Poland’s horsemen, cased in steel,

To Volo’s plain were wont to throng,

A hundred thousand manes in strength,

And vowed, if Heaven let fall the sky,

To uphold it on their lance’s length

As ’twere a silken canopy;

His sires were there in gallant trim,

Haught of mien and hard of limb-

Visors up and foreheads gashed,

Swords that poised, and swooped, and flashed,

Like the wings of the flaming Cherubim!

And when Imperial vultures tore

With banded beaks Sarmatia’s breast,

And wallowed in Sarmatia’s gore,

His fathers by their fathers swore

Ne’er to recede nor rest,

Till they had pushed the watchful points

Of vengeance in between the joints

Of armour dear to tyrants pricked

Of conscience never hushed nor tricked,

And made them feel what they inflict.

Vow sternly kept, but kept in vain!

For ninety hoping, hopeless years,

Poland hath known no couch save pain,

No mate except the dull cold chain,

Hath felt the lash, and fed on jeers,

While Heaven, it seems, no longer hears

The wail of prayers, the drip of tears,

Or the voices of the slain.

Thrice have her sons, despite their gyves,

Essayed to sell their worthless lives

At least against the price

Of ruin on their gaolers brought;

But each brave stroke hath come to nought,

And blood, and wounds, and death, have brought,

Only fresh bootless sacrifice.

No blow was struck they did not share,

No banner raised, but straight they flew

For one more tussle with despair;

And ever as they fought, they fell,

Waxing still fewer and more few,

Till only one remained to tell

How they had passed away, and dare

With front erect and unquelled stare

Those earthly ministers of hell.

One only of that kindred band-

Like some last column gazing lone

Across the bare and brackish sand,

In a depopulated land,

Telling of times and temples flown!

“`He loved me. Love in every clime,

Through all vicissitudes of time,

Is life’s climacteric and prime.

Matched against it, all boons that bless,

All joys we chase, all good we prize,

All that of tender and sublime

Expands the heart and fills the eyes,

Tastes pitiful and savourless.

It glorifies the common air,

It clothes with light the mountains bare,

And shows the heavens all shining there.

It lifts our feet from off the ground,

It lets us walk along the skies;

It makes the daily silence sound

With transcendental harmonies.

It rules the seasons. Linnets sing

As loud in winter as in spring,

When hearts are leal, and love is king.

Bathed in its light, the distance glows

With all the colours of the rose.

Its vivid gaze blends far and near

In one delicious atmosphere,

Projects the future from the past,

And hugs the faith, without a fear,

Since love is all, that all will last.

The peevish voice of doubt grows dumb;

The demons of dejection flee;

And even sordid cares become

But a divine anxiety.

Hope sails no more in far-off skies,

But makes its nest upon the ground;

And happiness, coy wing that flies

Too oft when mortal yearning woos,

At love’s sweet summons circling round,

Sits on the nearest bough, and coos.

“`Yes! such is love in every land,

If blest or curst, enslaved or free.

But how can they whose chainless hand

May stretch towards all they dream or see,

Whose lungs exult, whose lives expand,

In air of bracing liberty,

Feel love’s delirium like to those

Who, of all other bliss bereft,

And cooped from each hale wind that blows,

Fondle, amid a world of foes,

The solitary friend that’s left?

Through whatso regions freemen roam,

They find a hearth, they make a home.

Their unfenced energies embrace

All realms of thought, all fields of space,

At each fresh step fresh prospects find,

Larger than any left behind,

And mount with still rewarded stress

From happiness to happiness.

E’en love itself for such can bring

To life’s tuned lyre but one more string,

Or but with fingers subtly straying

Among the chords, and softly playing,

Make more harmonious everything.

But when to him whose hopes are bound

Within a dismal prison round,

Whose thoughts, suspected, must not soar

Beyond his straitened dungeon floor,

Who may not speak, nor groan, nor sigh,

Nor lend sharp agony a vent,

Lest those should hear him who are nigh,

And catch, perchance, in passing by,

Contagion from his discontent;

Who dwells an exile in his home,

And cannot rest and may not roam;

Whom even hope doth not delude;

Who vainly lives, in vain would die,

And, hemmed in close, alike would fly,

Society and solitude;-

Oh! when to such as he love brings

Message of heaven upon its wings,

It fills his heart, it floods his brain,

Riots in every pulse and vein,

And turns to paradise his pain.

Body, and soul, and sense conspire

To feed the rising, rushing fire.

The passions which are wont to share

Love’s empire o’er distracted man,

Denied their outlet, in him fan

The exclusive fury of desire.

As one who faints of thirst, he takes

Swiftly what should be slowly quaffed,

With ravenous lips his fever slakes,

Then dies, delirious, of the draught!

“`He loved me. Do you ask if I

His love returned? Go, ask the sky

If it in vain pours sun and shower

On herb and leaf, on tree and flower.

Go, ask of echo if it wakes

When voice in lonely places calls;

Ask of the silence if it takes

The sound of plashing waterfalls:

Ask the parched plains if they refuse

The solace of descending dews;

Ask the unrippled lake that lies

Under faint fleecy clouds that flit,

If it reflects with tender eyes

The heavenly forms that gaze on it;

But ask not me if I returned

The love with which his being burned.

His passion such, in any heart

It straight had worked its counterpart,

Woke its own echo, roused a tone

In perfect concert with its own,

And made, the instant that it shone,

Mirror of what it gazed upon.

“`We loved, as few have loved before,

‘Chance none; and lo! the hour drew nigh

To ratify the vows we swore

One night beneath the sky,

Before the solemn altar-rails

O’er which He hangs, pierced through with nails,

Who for our sins did die.

Oh! why is woman doomed to bear

The love, or lust, she cannot share;

And hear from alien lips the sighs

She fain herself would waken ne’er,

Save within kindred hearts and eyes?

Never by word, nor glance, nor e’en

That barren courtesy we give

Unto well nigh all things that live,

Did his detested rival glean

That I another’s homage should

Not greet, as evil is by good.

But, had my heart been free as air,

Fickle as wind, as quick to take

Impression as some limpid lake

That every wanton breath can stir,

How had it ruffled been by one

Who wore the livery of the brood

By whom, with hands in blood imbrued,

Thrice had my country been undone?

But I, nor free, nor false, nor light,

Bound both to Poland, and to him

Who yearned for Poland’s wrongs to fight,

Had rather torn been limb from limb,

Than share with such love’s last delight!

I answered softly, not in scorn;

For in what guise soe’er it come,

Because of gentle longings born,

Love should leave indignation dumb.

But he was, like his shifty race,

Disloyal, cunning, vengeful, base,

And when he heard the lips of fate,

Love in him straightway turned to hate,

Even before my face!

He menaced me with vengeance dire.

He knew my lover, brother, sire,

All rebels to the core.

And in the rush of lustful ire,

By his schismatic saints he swore,

That ruin, exile, death, should fall

With speedy stroke upon them all,

Unless I fed his foul desire.

I knew it was no idle boast;

He had the power to fetter, slay,

Abetted by a servile host,

Perjured, suborned by bribes to say

Whatever falsehood pleased him most.

Yet then I bridled not my scorn,

But poured upon his dastard head

All that by woman can be said,

When she confronts, before her eyes,

Creature created to despise,

And, since of manlier weapons shorn,

Can only wish him dead.

“Beware!” he croaked, with passion hoarse,

“Within your patriot arms shall lie,

Repelled or welcomed, none but I;

And what you now to love deny,

You yet shall yield to fear or force.”

With scorn yet fiercer than at first

I flashed, and bade him work his worst.

“Before to-morrow’s sun hath set,”

He answered, “I shall pay the debt

Of vengeance, never baffled yet.

Think not to foil me or to fly!

I ever do the thing I would.”

Then laughing loud, he went; and I

Hated the ground where late he stood.

“`The Night lay encamped in the summer sky,

And the burning stars kept watch;

All were asleep upon earth save I,

Who had waited the hour and lifted the latch,

And crept out noiselessly.

The air was as silent as love or death,

Except for the beat of my quickened breath,

And once the lonely belated wail

Of an answered nightingale.

I dared not quicken my steps, for fear

The silence should listening be, and hear.

Slowly, stealthily, foot by foot.

Girding my garments tightly round,

Lest they should touch and tell the ground,

I threaded the laurel-walk and passed

On to the latchet-gate, and put

My hand on the creaking key, aghast

Lest the first stage of flight should prove the last.

Through! and out in the meadows beyond,

With the cooling grass-dews round my feet,

Which would tell the tale of my journey fond,

But too late to hinder its purpose sweet;

Over the narrow and swaying planks

That span the neck of the marish pool

Where the tall spear-lilies close their ranks,

And the water-hens nestle safe and cool.

Then into the gloomy, darksome wood

Where the trunks seemed ghosts, and the big boughs stood

As though they would block my way.

Woman’s love is stronger than woman’s fright,

And though dogged by dread, yet I faced that night

What I ne’er had faced by day.

O the blessëd break, and the blank without,

From each grinning bole and each staring leaf!

I clutched my temples, and gave a shout;

It was mad, but it brought relief.

And then with a saner fear I stopped

To know if my foolish cry was heard.

But, like to a stream where a stone is dropped,

The silence was only a moment stirred,

And stillness closed over the hazard word.

“`I was there! in the garden where first I lent

My ear to the trembling music of love,

And my soul succumbed to its blandishment.

I was there! I could smell the syringa’s scent

And the lilac plumes that loomed dark above,

But, like to the heart that keeps alway

True to its friends, when friends betray,

Was lending the night that hid from view

Its delicate tufts and tender hue,

Odours sweeter than e’en by day.

The laburnum tassels brushed my cheek,

And the tangled clematis clutched my hair;

But I hurried along; though my limbs were weak,

I was strengthened by despair.

A moment more, and I should be

Hard by the window where he slept.

How should I wake him? how should flee,

If another o’erheard my voice? I crept

Softly, silently, over the sward.

The walls were dark, and the windows barred,

All saving-Yes, ’twas he! ’twas he!

Leaning out of his casement, lowly

Singing a love-song, sweetly, slowly,

That he first had sung to me.

He saw me not. He was gazing free

Across the dark, mysterious air,

At the shining stars, at the solemn sky,

At the unattainable far and fair,

The infinite something around, above,

With which, when alone, we identify

The finite thing we love.

I stood, and listened, and drank each note

Of love that came from the yearning throat,

As it rose, as it fell, as it floated and died;

And then with that courage that oft will spring,

When we have not time to think,

And impulse whispers the blessëd thing

From which resolve would shrink,

I with the song replied.

“`One instant, and the echoed song,

The night, the dark, the heavens bare,

And all that was of far and fair,

And all that was of sweet and strong,

Seemed gathered into one embrace,

And showered their magic on my face.

His arms were round me, and his breath

As close to mine as life to death.

He murmured things I could not hear,

For I was deaf with bliss and fear.

Dumb, too; in vain I strove to speak;

I could but lean on breast and cheek,

And prove my passion wildly weak.

He drew me in. I still was dumb,

Panting for words that would not come,

But only tears instead, and sobs,

And broken syllables, and throbs,

With which hearts beat, whom rapture robs

Of all save love’s delirium.

“Why hast thou come?” I heard him say.

“There is no hour of night or day,

The coming of thy worshipped feet

Would not make richer or more sweet.

O come! come! come! Yes, come alway!

Nay, never come, love! rather, stay!

I must or miss you, or not meet;

Absence is long, and presence fleet.

And I am dead, when thou away!

But why to-night, and here?” I saw

Love’s brightness overcast by awe;

And terror in his face o’ercame

The terror in my weakened frame;

Till listening to his voice, I caught

Contagion from his steadier thought,

And found at length the words I sought.

With rapid lips I told him all,

What had befallen-might befall-

The hateful lust, the lustful hate,

The threats of one who, well he knew,

If false in love, in wrath was true,

And our impending fate.

“’Twas this alone I came to tell,

And, Leszko! now ’tis told, farewell!”

I murmured with a faltering tongue.

Round me his arms he tightly flung,

And “Never!” cried. “Thy faith shall foil

The base assassins of our soil.

By the harmonious orbs that shine,

To-night, within that dome divine,

What thou hast promised me, must be mine!

Before to-morrow’s sun can sink,

May deeds be done I would not name,

And vengeance wreaked I dare not think.

If thus you went, ’twere vain you came!

To-night is ours, and, seized, will be

Ours, ours, through all eternity.

The dawn shall find us kneeling where

Passion is purified by prayer;

And hands of patriot priest shall bless

And bind our premature caress.

If we are parted then, we part,

One, one in body, breast, and heart.

Hate, lust, and tyranny, in vain

Will strive to snap the cherished chain

That we around ourselves have bound.

Vanda! my love! my wife! my more!

If more be in love’s language found,

Let them not baulk the troth we swore!

Wed me with bonds not fiends can sever,

And be thou mine-if once-for ever!”

The winds of the morn began to stir,

And the stars began to pale;

We could feel the chill of the moving air,

And the lifting of the veil

That covers the face of the shrinking night,

Its dreams, its dangers, its delight.

We started up. We listened, heard

The pipe of an awaking bird;

Another-then another still-

Louder and longer, and more shrill,

Till every copse began to fill

With music piercing bitter, fell,

The discord of our forced farewell.

We clung one moment, panted, kissed,

Then bravely rending us, he cried-

“Back through the curling morning mist,

Vanda! my love! my life! my bride!

A few brief hours, and side by side

Before Heaven’s altar we shall stand,

As now in heart, then one in hand,

Then-be the future blest or curst-

Let Poland’s tyrants wreak their worst!

One-one more kiss!”

“`We leaned, to give

The richest of all boons that live,

But paused, half given!. . .We each had heard

A sound that was no waking bird,

Nor stealthy footfall of the night,

Scudding the unseen tracks of flight.

The noise of human voices broke

Upon our ears; the words they spoke

Came nearer and more near.

We clung in silence; ’twas too late

To more than bide the feet of fate,

And face them without fear.

Loudest among them I could trace

The voice I hated most on earth;

Another moment, and his face,

Lit with vindictiveness and mirth,

Was gazing on our checked embrace.

His myrmidons were at his heel:

I did not shrink, I did not reel,

But closer clung, to make him feel

I loathed him and his alien race.

I know no more. Unarmed we stood.

I heard the clank of ordered steel,

Then suddenly a blinding hood

Over my head was flung, and I,

Powerless to struggle, see, or cry,

Felt myself wrenched from arms that fain

Had fenced my freedom, but in vain,

And, doubtful did he live or die,

Borne through the chilly morning air,

Bound, stifled, cooped with dumb despair!’

“She paused, and strove for breath, as though

The mere remembrance of that hour,

Though fled and faded long ago,

Retained the never-dying power

To choke and stifle her again,

And leave her dumb and dark, as then.

But mute no less I sate; and she

The horror in my stare could see,

The speechless, open-mouthed suspense,

That kept me gazing there, to know

If I had heard the worst from woe,

Or if I must prepare my sense

For outrage deeper, more intense,

And from extremity of wrong

Become invulnerably strong.

`O no!’ she cried, for swift she guessed

The hell of anguish in my breast;

`O no! not that! My boy! thou art

The child of love and not of hate,

Memento of my only mate!

The birth of heart convulsed on heart

With rapture pure and passionate!

Though never more upon my breast

His breast did beat, his head did rest;

Though I no more beheld his eye

Beaming above me like the sky

When all is bright and all is high,

And by which gazed on, one is blest;

Though ne’er again his touch, his breath,

Was blent with mine, to make me feel

That something betwixt life and death,

When the converging senses reel,

And, through devotedness divine,

Joy knows not what it suffereth;-

No other hand has soiled the shrine;

And, Leszko lost! though lost, yet mine,

My senses, as my soul, kept thine!’

“She saw the shadow quit my brow;

But, as it crept away, the light

Seemed to desert her temples now.

The hand she had imprisoned tight

In hers, while travelling wildly back

To passion’s bourne o’er sorrow’s track,

She loosed, and half let go. `Hast heard,

Hast drunk, hast understood, each word,’

Slowly she asked, `my lips have said?

Ours was no sanctioned marriage-bed.

No priestly blessing, altar’s rite,

Confirmed the nuptials of that night.

Leszko! thou art-‘

“’Twas not her tongue

That paused upon the bitter word,

But that before the name I heard

I shrink not from, my arms I flung

Around her sainted neck and showered

The love with which my soul was stirred.

I kissed her knees, her hands devoured,

I hushed her mouth, I sealed her eyes,

With kisses blent with broken cries,

Such as from baffled lips arise

When bursting hearts are overpowered

With sense of sublime sacrifice.

`Mother!’ I cried, `I’d sooner be

The child of love, and him, and thee,

Than bear or boast the tightest ties

Altars can knit or priests devise!

If love, faith, country cannot bind

Two souls through love already blent,

Where among mortals shall we find

Solemnity or Sacrament?

And were aught wanting to complete

In face of God’s just judgment-seat,

Thy snapped-off love and life,

The tyrant’s outrage, years of wrong,

Have weaved thee wedlock doubly strong,

And made thee more than wife!’

“She smoothed my hair, caressed my brow;

Consoling tears coursed down her cheek,

Furrowed by sorrow’s barren plough:

She stroked my hand, she strove to speak:

`Yes, Leszko! Holier bond was ne’er

Sanctioned by heaven or sealed by prayer.

Let others deem that formal vows

Breathed between kneeling spouse and spouse,

Can sanctify a link where each

Is but the slave of ordered speech;

Where vanity, ambition, greed,

Are the base instincts that precede

The purest of the passions, sent

Life’s desolate low steps to lead

Up to the star-thronged firmament;

Let others fancy, if they will,

That pomp, and compliment, and smile,

Are sacramental bonds, though guile

And calculating coldness fill

The hollows of the heart the while;

Let those, too, scorn me who have knelt

In fancied faithfulness, and sworn

The eternal troth they thought they felt,

But, soon as they were left to mourn

One to whose flesh their flesh they vowed

Not more in marriage-sheet than shroud,

After a few short trappings worn

To silence the censorious crowd,

Have let their facile feelings melt

Unto some second fancy, nursed

In the same lap where burned the first!

Let them!-Nor pomp nor pandars gave

Me unto him! ‘Twas love alone

Anointed us; and not the grave,

Not life, not death, shall e’er deprave

The body that remains his own.

Not mine a fault for which to crave

By Heaven or mortal to be shriven.

If I a suppliant need to be

To any, ’tis, my boy, to thee!

And I by thee am all forgiven!

“`Yet-yet-that night of shining joy

Its shadow flings athwart thy life;

I am not, I can ne’er be wife,

And thou art no one’s son, our boy!

His name I gave thee, and despite

Their jugglery of wrong and right,

It shall thou bear, whate’er betide.

But who can give thee aught beside?

Bastard thou art! and thou canst claim,

It boots not what thy blood, thy fame,

Thy father’s features, manly age,

Only a bastard’s heritage.

But, Leszko! who would care to boast

All that the rightful covet most;

Who, who would wish to clutch and hold

Honour, or rank, or lands, or gold,

When lands, and gold, and rank, but be

A brighter badge of slavery?

They who have nothing may excuse

Submission to the tyrant’s beck;

Too bare and beggared to refuse

Unsavoury morsel from the hand

That plants the heel upon the neck

Of their assassinated land.

But they who yet have aught to lose,

Base must they be if they can use

What still is left to them, to deck

The mourning of their country’s wreck.

Be sure thy sire doth not retain

What would but aggravate his pain.

Of me, of love, when dispossessed,

How would he care to keep the rest?

Robbed of my arms, his arms would find

But emptiness in all behind,

Vacuous air and moaning wind.

Who tore me from him, must have torn

With it long since the worldly dregs

Easy resigned by him who begs

That death at least to him be kind,

And bans the day that he was born!

“`Nay, ask not if he lives. I know

Nothing, since that cold dawn of woe.

Once more I had to hear, and bear,

The vengeful menace, lustful prayer,

Of one who sued, but would not spare.

He threatened he would blazen wide

That which he dared to call my shame.

Guess how I answered! I defied,

Exulted, and with patriot pride

Told him that I myself to fame

Would trumpet forth the deed that I

Had done to foil the treachery

Already hatching, and by whom!

He cursed me. That was his reply.

But mine, alas! had sealed my doom.

“`’Twas over, quick. I saw no more

Familiar face, or roof, or floor,

Or anything I knew before.

My eyes were bandaged, limbs were bound,

As through rough distance on we wound,

Aware but of the unseen ground

We traversed ever, day and night.

At length they gave me back my sight;

And lo! there stretched before, around,

The desert steppe, inhuman, bare,

That answered me with stare for stare.

I gazed around me for some face,

Some answering look, some kindred guise,

Some woe that I might recognize

Even in this desert place.

But none of all I saw, I knew;

And never one among them threw

A pitying glance on me.

So desolate it seemed, I should

Have thankful been if there had stood

Before me even he

Who thuswise had my ruin wrought.

I vow to you, his face I sought,

Among the convoy, early, late.

No face, no fiend, my exiled fate

Could now or better make or worse:

And it to me relief had brought

Could I have seen him, but to hate,

And greeted, but to curse!

“`A mute and melancholy band,

For days and weeks we journeyed on,

Across a bare and level land,

On which the fierce sun ever shone,

But whence all life and growth were gone,

Utterly, as from salt-steeped strand.

Dawn after dawn, the steppe stretched round:

It seemed to have no halt, no end,

Centre, circumference, nor bound,

No sight, no shade, no scent, no sound;

But ever we appeared to wend

Into eternal exile, doomed

To make the endless track we trod,

Now over sand, now scanty sod,

Where nought save blight and canker bloomed.

Though on we gasped, no goal was gained;

Further we went, further remained,

As when thought struggles after God:

Save that, instead, we seemed to go

Towards infinity of woe.

Many we were, but each alone.

We durst not with each other speak,

And but exchanged a tear or groan.

The strong might not assist the weak,

And to be child or woman gave

No privilege or power, save

To suffer more and be more brave.

So wretched were we, we could bless

A lighter load of wretchedness;

And when at last the cruel sun

Began to pity us, and leave

In sleep our pain a short reprieve,

We almost felt our griefs were done.

We knew not they had scarce begun.

Into another land we passed,

Drearier and deader than the last,

That knows no future and no past,

But only one fixed present!-land

Where nothing waxeth more or less,

Nothing is born and nothing dies,

And where, ‘neath never-changing skies,

E’en frozen time itself doth stand

Immutable and motionless!

A land of snow and snow-fed wind,

Which freeze the blood, congeal the mind,

And harden man against mankind:

Region of death that is not dead,

But ever on its icy bed

Lies dying, and must ever lie,

Forbid to live, forbid to die!

“`And, as its doom, such too seemed mine,

The doom of deathlessness in death.

In vain I used to pray and pine

The greedy cold would suck my breath,

And leave my empty husk to bleach

On the untrodden waste of white,

And draw the prowling jackal’s screech,

Or give the wolf one foul delight.

“`One night, as, prostrate in despair

At each unanswered tear and prayer,

I blasphemed God, and wildly sware

That if at least He would not give

Me death, I would no longer live,

But would myself the torture end,

That had nor change, nor hope, nor friend,

Sudden I started, gave a cry;

I seemed as changed to flesh from stone:

Oh! joy! I was no more alone.

And then for worlds I would not die!

‘Twas thou! ’twas thou! my babe! my boy!

In joylessness my more than joy!

My more than heaven ‘mid more than hell!

Weeping, upon my knees I fell,

And prayed forgiveness for my sin.

What now to me or cold or heat,

My shivering head, my burning feet,

Hunger or ache? I held within

The memory of that midnight sweet.

I had no thought for things without:

Sensation, suffering, struggle, doubt,

Each sense wherewith we feel, hear, see,

Was concentrated inwardly.

My aim was how to feed the root

That in the silence ‘gan to shoot,

And pulsed with promise of the fruit.

Sometimes, in fresh access of woe,

Hope veered, and longed that thou and I

Lay underneath the snug, warm snow,

Together, and with none to know;

But swung back ever, true and high,

From desperation’s gusty strife,-

Pointing from love and set towards life!

“`You lived!’. . .`O mother!’ here I cried,

`Tell me no more! I cannot bear

The tale of love, and grief, and pride.

Is’t not enough that now we share

Pride, love, and exile, side by side?

And, let what will of wrong betide,

No wrong my youth, at least, shall tear,

From your soft hand and silvery hair!’

“`What, Leszko! Leszko’s son!’ she said,

Her voice was grave, her tears were fled:

`Think you I told this tale of woe,

To stir your love for me, I know,

Will hold you living, haunt you dead?

Not quit my side, luxurious boy!

Share anguish that is almost joy,

To shrink from pain without alloy!

By all my hopes of husband fled,

My interrupted marriage-bed,

I charge you, bid you, not to cling,

To me, to love, to anything!

Not leave me! What is this I hear?

The mawkish kiss, the vapid tear,

Not flashing eye and springing spear!’

She pushed me off. `It cannot be

His patriot seed and mine I see.

Thou art some changeling! Go, then, go!

And hunt the lynx across the snow,

And when the blue-eyed scyllas blow,

Gather thereof a dainty bunch,

To woo some daughter of the foe,

While jackals and hyenas crunch

Thy country’s flesh and bones, and bloom

No flowers, of all Spring used to know,

Save such as mourn o’er Poland’s tomb!

For Poland, I from him was torn,

For Poland, he from me! But thou-

Thou, thou forsooth, must cling on now,

Like infant that, from threatened hurt

Flies whimpering, to thy mother’s skirt,

Dead unto duty as to scorn!

Bastard, indeed, thou doubly wert,

And both are shamed that thou wast born!’

“I knelt me down; towards the ground

I bowed my head in lowly guise.

I did not dare to raise my eyes,

But when at last my voice I found,

`Mother!’ I cried, `I am not base,

Nor bastard, and his blood is mine;

But gazing on thy holy face,

I all forgot a woe, a wrong,

Sadder, more sacred, e’en than thine.

But now thy strength hath made me strong,

And in my features thou shalt trace,

And in my soul, that I belong

Unto a noble name and race.’

I stood up straight. There was no sign

Of melting in my voice or gaze.

`When shall I go?’ I said, `The ways

Are not more ready stretched than I

To start at once, to run, to fly,

Whither thy sharp reproaches point.

Mother, farewell! In every joint

I feel the blood of Poland stir.

She is my mother! I for her

Can lonely live, will lonely die.’

“`Kneel then once more!’ she said. I knelt,

But this time with unbending brow.

Her face fawned towards me, and I felt

Her lips upon me, tender now.

She took the cross from off her breast,

Passed its cord softly o’er my head:

`I have no sword to give,’ she said,

`But you will find one ‘mong the dead

That now lie thick-though baffled, blest-

Among the forests where, once more,

Poland renews the hopeless strife,

And liberates with lavish gore,

Awhile, the fever of its life.

Listen! There shortly start from hence

Two fresh battalions of the foe,

For Poland bound. They doubtless go

To aid their kindred’s violence.

You must march with them o’er the snow.

Nay, start not! must their colours wear,

Aye, boy! must false allegiance swear

To their detested Pontiff-Czar!

Such perjuries, I tell thee, are

Not heard at Heaven’s just judgment-bar.

And if thy lips abhor the lie,

Poland absolves thee-so do I!’

“The hour had come, and face to face

We stood, my mother, there, and I.

We did not fondle nor embrace;

She did not weep, I did not sigh.

I wore the trappings of the race

That battens upon Poland’s heart;

So, well I knew that uncaressed,

Unfolded to her craving breast,

I from her must depart.

`Have you the cross?’ she asked. I laid

My hand where ‘gainst my heart it lay,

But did not speak. `Both night and day,

Brood on it, as a constant maid

Broods on the face that cannot fade,

When he who loves her is away!

It was the one dumb thing on earth

That spoke to me; the only one,

Dead, that was eloquent of birth;

So have I given it thee, my son!

I have no gift of his, no toy,

No trinket, trifle, leaf, nor flower,

Naught to remind me of my joy.

But it was on my breast that hour,

That night, when it, and it alone,

Was ‘twixt his bosom and my own.

Go, now! And I will nightly pray

The Queen of Poland, we may meet,

When bitter has been turned to sweet,

And earthly dark to heavenly day!’

I bent. She raised her hands to bless;

And then I went without caress,

And left her to her loneliness.

“Why tell the rest? Too well you know,

Ah! you, free child of Freedom’s shore,

That spurred our hopes, but lent no blow

In aid of all our wasted gore,

How Poland, maddened, rose once more,

And blindly struck at friend and foe.

Why should I tell-the tale, too long!-

Of the weak writhing ‘gainst the strong,

Pricked by reiterated wrong?

The orphaned pillows, rifled roofs,

The sudden rush of trampling hoofs,

The reeking village, blazing town;

The perjured charge, the traitor’s mesh,

The virgin’s lacerated flesh;

The wail of childhood, helpless fair,

Frenzy itself had stopped to spare;

Priests at the altar stricken down,

Mingling their blood with that of Christ,

While sacrificing, sacrificed;

Chaste spouses of the cloister, weaned

From earth, and from Earth’s passions screened,

Shrieking beneath the clutch of fiend,

And outraged, less from lust than hate,

In refuges inviolate.-

Enough! Had Hell broke loose, and sent

Its demons forth, on man to vent

The tortures God’s maligners feign

Heaven vents on them, they would in vain

Have striven to paragon the pain

Poland’s oppressors knew to wreak

Upon the sensitive and weak,

When we, the strong, their strength defied,

And Freedom, foiling despots, died.

“I was too late. ‘Twas nearly o’er;

But straight I sloughed the garb I wore,

And joined one last determined band,

Who to the border forests clung

That sever from the Tartar’s hand

That share of our partitioned land

Which owns a rule more just and bland,

Keeping at least its creed and tongue.

We did not think with fate to cope;

No! vengeance was our only hope,

And vengeance to me came.

We were pursued by one who gave

No mercy or to faint or brave:

I heard, and knew his name.

‘Twas he, whose lust had torn apart

For ever loving heart from heart,

As far as hatred can.

We lay in ambush; they were caught,

And could not fly, so mercy sought.

We slew them, to a man!

He fell to me! One thrust I made,

And at my feet I saw him laid:

I sucked the blood from off my blade:

Christ! it was sweet! aye, sweeter far

Than the smile of home, than the kiss of maid,

Or the glow of the evening star!

“It was the last blow struck. We fled

Across the frontier, each as best

A gap could gain, and left the dead

To stock the unclean raven’s nest.

Exile once more, though all the earth

Henceforth lay open to my tread,

All save the one that gave me birth,

I saw no goal except the one

Where, sitting mute in deepest dearth,

The mother waited for the son.

But how? I donned the pedlar’s pack,

And started on the trackless track,

Day after day, league after league,

Fatigue slow-linked with slow fatigue,

But ever getting nearer back

Unto the larch-log fire where she

Sat patiently, awaiting me.

And there was yet another sight

Behind, to spur my flagging tread:

The foe, the fiend, I felled in fight,

And gloated over, dead!

Could I have borne his hated head,

And laid it at my mother’s feet!

The very thought fresh vigour gave,

And made my final footsteps fleet.

I raved. You deem that still I rave.

What think you that they found? Her grave.

“Back, back across the cruel waste,

Her tomb behind, my life before;-

An ebbing wave that raced and raced,

But ne’er could hope to find a shore,

Not e’en a rock ‘gainst which to break:

A vista of unending ache,

Trod and endured for no one’s sake!

Rather than live without some end,

Such misery fresh woe will make,

And woo misfortune for a friend.

And I, since it was vain to hope

That I could find, where’er I ran,

Solace or happiness, began

For further wretchedness to grope.

Now other object had I none,

From rise of day to set of sun,

Except to seek my sire;

Though well I knew I should not find,

Or finding, curse the fate unkind

That baulked not my desire.

And fate was ruthless to the last.

Five years of bootless search had passed,

And still I sought. But when on fire,

Her roofs delirious Paris saw,

I found him stretched on sordid straw.

He had not fought for crowd or law:

Sooth, had he wished, he could not draw

A sword from scabbard now, nor lift

His body from its borrowed bed.

His brackish life was ebbing swift.

He who had eaten beggar’s bread,

And known each sad and sordid shift

That just sustains the exile’s tread,

Needed no more the stranger’s gift.

I knelt me down beside his head,

And breathed her name into his ear.

There came no start, no word, no tear:

His brain was deaf; he did not know

The difference now ‘twixt joy and woe,

‘Twixt love and hate, ‘twixt friend and foe,

‘Twixt me and any other! Vain

My years of search and sought-for pain.

Yet not quite vain. Upon his breast

A silver locket hung; and when

I stretched my hand to it, he pressed

‘Gainst it his own, nor loosed again,

Until he passed away to rest.

I took it when his grasp grew cold,

And lo! it was my mother’s face!

Not as I knew her, blanched and old,

But in the glow of youth and grace,

With eyes of heaven and hair of gold,

And all the passion of her race.

I wear it and its rusted chain.

I put her cross there in its place:

The iron cross; yes, cross indeed!

And iron, too! the fitting meed

Of those who for wronged Poland bleed,

And ever bleed in vain!

“Rise quick, ye winds! Race swift, ye waves!

And bear me where blue Danube rolls,

Past Orsova’s loud-foaming caves,

On ‘twixt armed hosts of rival slaves,

To scatter among Euxine shoals.

Now, do you ask why hence I fly

To join the Moslem camp, and hurl

My poor weak life, foredoomed to die,

On those who Freedom’s flag unfurl

For Christian boor and Sclavic churl?-

Out on the sacrilegious lie!

Robbers, assassins, liars, slaves!

Whose feet are fresh from outraged graves!

Let those among you, dupes, or worse,

Sucklings of falsehood, or its nurse,

Believe that Russian arms can bear

To others aught except a share

In chains themselves consent to wear!

Let them! But I! Did Tartar swords

Storm hell, and Turkish steel defend,

I would the infernal Cause befriend

Against the worse than demon hordes

Who to the damned would bring fresh curse,

And enter Hell, to make it worse!”

Poetry Monster

Is Life Worth Living? poem – Alfred Austin

Is life worth living? Yes, so long

As Spring revives the year,

And hails us with the cuckoo’s song,

To show that she is here;

So long as May of April takes,

In smiles and tears, farewell,

And windflowers dapple all the brakes,

And primroses the dell;

While children in the woodlands yet

Adorn their little laps

With ladysmock and violet,

And daisy-chain their caps;

While over orchard daffodils

Cloud-shadows float and fleet,

And ousel pipes and laverock trills,

And young lambs buck and bleat;

So long as that which bursts the bud

And swells and tunes the rill,

Makes springtime in the maiden’s blood,

Life is worth living still.

Life not worth living! Come with me,

Now that, through vanishing veil,

Shimmers the dew on lawn and lea,

And milk foams in the pail;

Now that June’s sweltering sunlight bathes

With sweat the striplings lithe,

As fall the long straight scented swathes

Over the crescent scythe;

Now that the throstle never stops

His self-sufficing strain,

And woodbine-trails festoon the copse,

And eglantine the lane;

Now rustic labour seems as sweet

As leisure, and blithe herds

Wend homeward with unweary feet,

Carolling like the birds;

Now all, except the lover’s vow,

And nightingale, is still;

Here, in the twilight hour, allow,

Life is worth living still.

When Summer, lingering half-forlorn,

On Autumn loves to lean,

And fields of slowly yellowing corn

Are girt by woods still green;

When hazel-nuts wax brown and plump,

And apples rosy-red,

And the owlet hoots from hollow stump,

And the dormouse makes its bed;

When crammed are all the granary floors,

And the Hunter’s moon is bright,

And life again is sweet indoors,

And logs again alight;

Aye, even when the houseless wind

Waileth through cleft and chink,

And in the twilight maids grow kind,

And jugs are filled and clink;

When children clasp their hands and pray

“Be done Thy heavenly will!”

Who doth not lift his voice, and say,

“Life is worth living still”?

Is life worth living? Yes, so long

As there is wrong to right,

Wail of the weak against the strong,

Or tyranny to fight;

Long as there lingers gloom to chase,

Or streaming tear to dry,

One kindred woe, one sorrowing face

That smiles as we draw nigh:

Long as at tale of anguish swells

The heart, and lids grow wet,

And at the sound of Christmas bells

We pardon and forget;

So long as Faith with Freedom reigns,

And loyal Hope survives,

And gracious Charity remains

To leaven lowly lives;

While there in one untrodden tract

For Intellect or Will,

And men are free to think and act

Life is worth living still.

Not care to live while English homes

Nestle in English trees,

And England’s Trident-Sceptre roams

Her territorial seas!

Not live while English songs are sung

Wherever blows the wind,

And England’s laws and England’s tongue

Enfranchise half mankind!

So long as in Pacific main,

Or on Atlantic strand,

Our kin transmit the parent strain,

And love the Mother-Land;

So long as in this ocean Realm,

Victoria and her Line

Retain the heritage of the helm,

By loyalty divine;

So long as flashes English steel,

And English trumpets shrill,

He is dead already who doth not feel

Life is worth living still.