University of Virginia Library



A down the Dolorosa Lane
The mounted pilgrims file in train
Whose clatter jars each open space;
Then, muffled in, shares change apace
As, striking sparks in vaulted street,
Clink, as in cave, the horses' feet.
Not from brave Chaucer's Tabard Inn
They pictured wend; scarce shall they win
Fair Kent, and Canterbury ken;
Nor franklin, squire, nor morris-dance
Of wit and story good as then:
Another age, and other men,
And life an unfulfilled romance.
First went the turban—guide and guard
In escort armed and desert trim;
The pilgrims next: whom now to limn.
One there the light rein slackly drew,
And skimming glanced, dejected never—
While yet the pilgrimage was new—
On sights ungladsome howsoever.


Cordial he turned his aspect clear
On all that passed; man, yea, and brute
Enheartening by a blithe salute,
Chirrup, or pat, in random cheer.
This pleasantness, which might endear,
Suffused was with a prosperous look
That bordered vanity, but took
Fair color as from ruddy heart.
A priest he was—though but in part;
For as the Templar old combined
The cavalier and monk in one;
In Derwent likewise might you find
The secular and cleric tone.
Imported or domestic mode,
Thought's last adopted style he showed;
Abreast kept with the age, the year,
And each bright optimistic mind,
Nor lagged with Solomon in rear,
And Job, the furthermost behind—
Brisk marching in time's drum-corps van
Abreast with whistling Jonathan.
Tho' English, with an English home,
His spirits through Creole cross derived
The light and effervescent foam;
And youth in years mature survived.
At saddle-bow a book was laid
Convenient—tinted in the page
Which did urbanely disengage
Sadness and doubt from all things sad
And dubious deemed. Confirmed he read:
A priest o' the club—a taking man,
And rather more than Lutheran.
A cloth cape, light in air afloat,
And easy set of cleric coat,
Seemed emblems of that facile wit,
Which suits the age—a happy fit.


Behind this good man's stirrups, rode
A solid stolid Elder, shod
With formidable boots. He went
Like Talus in a foundry cast;
Furrowed his face, with wrinkles massed.
He claimed no indirect descent
From Grampian kirk and covenant.
But recent sallying from home,
Late he assigned three days to Rome.
He saw the host go by. The crowd,
Made up from many a tribe and place
Of Christendom, kept seemly face:
Took off the hat, or kneeled, or bowed;
But he the helm rammed down apace:
Discourteous to the host, agree,
Tho' to a parting soul it went;
Nor deemed that, were it mummery,
'Twas pathos too. This hard dissent—
Transferred to Salem in remove,—
Led him to carp, and try disprove
Legend and site by square and line:
Aside time's violet mist he'd shove—
Quite disenchant the Land Divine.
So fierce he hurled zeal's javelin home,
It drove beyond the mark—pierced Rome,
And plunged beyond, thro' enemy
To friend. Scarce natural piety
Might live, abiding such a doom.
Traditions beautiful and old
Which with maternal arms enfold
Millions, else orphaned and made poor,
No plea could lure him to endure.
Concerned, meek Christian ill might bear
To mark this worthy brother rash,
Deeming he served religion there,
Work up the fag end of Voltaire,


And help along faith's final crash—
If that impend.
His fingers pressed
A ferule of black thorn: he bore
A pruning-knife in belt; in vest
A measuring-tape wound round a core;
And field-glass slung athwart the chest;
While peeped from holsters old and brown,
Horse-pistols—and they were his own.
A hale one followed, good to see,
English and Greek in pedigree;
Of middle-age; a ripe gallant,
A banker of the rich Levant;
In florid opulence preserved
Like peach in syrup. Ne'er he swerved
From morning bath, and dinner boon,
And velvet nap in afternoon,
And lounge in garden with cigar.
His home was Thessalonica,
Which views Olympus. But, may be,
Little he weened of Jove and gods
In synod mid those brave abodes;
Nor, haply, read or weighed Paul's plea
Addressed from Athens o'er the sea
Unto the Thessalonians old:
His bonds he scanned, and weighed his gold.
Parisian was his garb, and gay.
Upon his saddle-pommel lay
A rich Angora rug, for shawl
Or pillow, just as need might fall;
Not the Brazilian leopard's hair
Or toucan's plume may show more fair;
Yet, serving light convenience mere,
Proved but his heedless affluent cheer.
Chief exercise this sleek one took


Was toying with a tissue book
At intervals, and leaf by leaf
Gently reducing it. In brief,
With tempered yet Capuan zest,
Of cigarettes he smoked the best.
This wight did Lady Fortune love:
Day followed day in treasure-trove.
Nor only so, but he did run
In unmistrustful reveries bright
Beyond his own career to one
Who should continue it in light
Of lineal good times.
High walled,
An Eden owned he nigh his town,
Which locked in leafy emerald
A frescoed lodge. There Nubians armed,
Tall eunuchs virtuous in zeal,
In shining robes, with glittering steel,
Patrolled about his daughter charmed,
Inmost inclosed in nest of bowers,
By gorgons served, the dread she-powers,
Duennas: maiden more than fair:
How fairer in his rich conceit—
An Argive face, and English hair
Sunny as May in morning sweet:
A damsel for Apollo meet;
And yet a mortal's destined bride—
Bespoken, yes, affianced late
To one who by the senior's side
Rode rakishly deliberate—
A sprig of Smyrna, Glaucon he.
His father (such ere long to be)
Well loved him, nor that sole he felt
That fortune here had kindly dealt
Another court-card into hand—
The youth with gold at free command;—


No, but he also liked his clan,
His kinsmen, and his happy way;
And over wine would pleased repay
His parasites: Well may ye say
The boy's the bravest gentleman!—
From Beyrout late had come the pair
To further schemes of finance hid,
And for a pasha's favor bid
And grave connivance. That affair
Yet lingered. So, dull time to kill,
They wandered, anywhere, at will.
Scarce through self-knowledge or self-love
They ventured Judah's wilds to rove,
As time, ere long, and place, may prove.
Came next in file three sumpter mules
With all things needful for the tent,
And panniers which the Greek o'errules;
For there, with store of nourishment,
Rosoglio pink and wine of gold
Slumbered as in the smugglers' hold.
Viewing those Levantines in way
Of the snared lion, which from grate
Marks the light throngs on holiday,
Nor e'er relaxes in his state
Austerely sad; rode one whose air
Revealed—but, for the nonce, forbear.
Mortmain his name, or so in whim
Some moral wit had christened him.
Upon that creature men traduce
For patience under their abuse;
For whose requital there's assigned
No heaven; that thing of dreamful kind—
The ass—elected for the ease,


Good Nehemiah followed these;
His Bible under arm, and leaves
Of tracts still fluttering in sheaves.
In pure good will he bent his view
To right and left. The ass, pearl-gray,
Matched well the rider's garb in hue,
And sorted with the ashy way;
Upon her shoulders' jointed play
The white cross gleamed, which the untrue
Yet innocent fair legends say,
Memorializes Christ our Lord
When Him with palms the throngs adored
Upon the foal. Many a year
The wanderer's heart had longed to view
Green banks of Jordan dipped in dew;
Oft had he watched with starting tear
Pack-mule and camel, horse and spear,
Monks, soldiers, pilgrims, helm and hood,
The variegated annual train
In vernal Easter caravan,
Bound unto Gilgal's neighborhood.
Nor less belief his heart confessed
Not die he should till knees had pressed
The Palmers' Beach. Which trust proved true
'Twas charity gave faith her due:
Without publicity or din
It was the student moved herein
He, Clarel, with the earnest face
Which fitful took a hectic dye,
Kept near the saint. With equal pace
Came Rolfe in saddle pommeled high,
Yet e'en behind that peaked redoubt
Sat Indian-like, in pliant way,
As if he were an Osage scout,
Or Gaucho of the Paraguay.


Lagging in rear of all the train
As hardly he pertained thereto
Or his right place therein scarce knew,
Rode one who frequent turned again
To pore behind. He seemed to be
In reminiscence folded ever,
Or some deep moral fantasy;
At whiles in face a dusk and shiver,
As if in heart he heard amazed
The sighing of Ravenna's wood
Of pines, and saw the phantom knight
(Boccaccio's) with the dagger raised
Still hunt the lady in her flight
From solitude to solitude.
'Twas Vine. Nor less for day dream, still
The rein he held with lurking will.
So filed the muster whose array
Threaded the Dolorosa's way.