University of Virginia Library



How solitary on the hill
Sitteth the city; and how still—
How still!” From Vine the murmur came—
A cadence, as it were compelled
Even by the picture's silent claim.
That said, again his peace he held,
Biding, as in a misty rain
Some motionless lone fisherman
By mountain brook. But Rolfe: “Thy word
Is Jeremiah's, and here well heard.
Ay, seer of Anathoth, behold,
Yon object tallies with thy text.
How then? Stays reason quite unvexed?
Fulfillment here but falleth cold.
That stable proof which man would fold,
How may it be derived from things
Subject to change and vanishings?
But let that pass. All now's revised:
Zion, like Rome, is Niebuhrized.
Yes, doubt attends. Doubt's heavy hand
Is set against us; and his brand
Still warreth for his natural lord—
King Common-Place—whose rule abhorred
Yearly extends in vulgar sway,
Absorbs Atlantis and Cathay;
Ay, reaches toward Diana's moon,
Affirming it a clinkered blot,
Deriding pale Endymion.
Since thus he aims to level all,
The Milky Way he'll yet allot
For Appian to his Capital.
Then tell, tell then, what charm may save


Thy marvel, Palestine, from grave
Whereto winds many a bier and pall
Of old Illusion? What for earth?
Ah, change irreverent,—at odds
With goodly customs, gracious gods;
New things elate so thrust their birth
Up through dejection of the old,
As through dead sheaths; is here foretold
The consummation of the past,
And gairish dawning of a day
Whose noon not saints desire to stay—
And hardly I? Who brake love's fast
With Christ—with what strange lords may sup?
The reserves of time seem marching up.
But, nay: what novel thing may be,
No germ being new? By Fate's decree
Have not earth's vitals heaved in change
Repeated? some wild element
Or action been evolved? the range
Of surface split? the deeps unpent?
Continents in God's caldrons cast?
And this without effecting so
The neutralizing of the past,
Whose rudiments persistent flow,
From age to age transmitting, own,
The evil with the good—the taint
Deplored in Solomon's complaint.
Fate's pot of ointment! Wilt have done,
Lord of the fly, god of the grub?
Need'st foul all sweets, thou Beelzebub?”
He ended.—To evade or lay
Deductions hard for tender clay,
Clarel recalled each prior word
Of Rolfe which scarcely kept accord,
As seemed, with much dropped latterly.


For Vine, he twitched from ground a weed,
Apart then picked it, seed by seed.
Ere long they rise, and climbing greet
A thing preëminent in seat,
Whose legend still can touch the heart:
It prompted one there to impart
A chapter of the Middle Age—
Which next to give. But let the page
The narrator's rambling way forget,
And make to run in even flow
His interrupted tale. And let
Description brief the site foreshow.