University of Virginia Library



Sheep-tracks they'd look, at distance seen,
Did any herbage border them,
Those slender foot-paths slanting lean
Down or along waste slopes which hem
The high-lodged, walled Jerusalem.
Slipped from Bethesda's Pool leads one
Which by an arch across is thrown
Kedron the brook. The Virgin's Tomb
(Whence the near gate the Latins name—
St. Stephen's, as the Lutherans claim—
Hard by the place of martyrdom),
Time-worn in sculpture dim, is set
Humbly inearthed by Olivet.
'Tis hereabout now halt the band,
And by Gethsemane at hand,
For few omitted trifles wait
And guardsman whom adieus belate.
Some light dismount.
But hardly here,
Where on the verge they might foretaste
Or guess the flavor of the waste,
Greek sire and son took festive cheer.
Glaucon not less a topic found
At venture. One old tree becharmed
Leaned its decrepit trunk deformed
Over the garden's wayside bound:
“See now: this yellow olive wood
They carve in trinkets—rosary—rood:
Of these we must provide some few
For travel-gifts, ere we for good
Set out for home. And why not too


Some of those gems the nuns revere—
In hands of veteran venders here,
Wrought from the Kedron's saffron block
In the Monk's Glen, Mar Saba's rock;
And cameos of the Dead Sea stone?”
“Buy what ye will, be it Esau's flock,”
The other said: “but for that stone—
Avoid, nor name!”
That stone? what one?”
And cast a look of grieved surprise
Marking the senior's ruffled guise;
“Those cameos of Death's Sea—”
“Have done,
I beg! Unless all joy you'd cripple,
Both noun omit and participle.”
“Dear sir, what noun? strange grammar's this.”
“Have I expressed myself amiss?
Oh, don't you think it is but spleen:
A well-bred man counts it unclean
This name of—boy, and can't you guess?
Last bankruptcy without redress!”
“For heaven's sake!”
“With that ill word
Whose first is D and last is H,
No matter what be in regard,
Let none of mine ere crape his speech,
But shun it, ay, and shun the knell
Of each derivative.”
“Oh, well—
I see, I see; with all my heart!
Each conjugation will I curb,
All moods and tenses of the verb;
And, for the noun, to save from errors
I'll use instead—the ‘King of Terrors.’”
“Sir, change the topic.—Would 'twere done,


This scheme of ours, and we clean gone
From out this same dull land so holy
Which breeds but blues and melancholy.
To while our waiting I thought good
To join these travelers on their road;
But there's a bird in saucy glee
Trills—Fool, retreat; 'tis not for thee.
Had I fair pretext now, I'd turn.
But yonder—he don't show concern,”
Glancing toward Derwent, lounging there
Holding his horse with easy air
Slack by the rein.
With morning zest,
In sound digestion unoppressed,
The clergyman's good spirits made
A Tivoli of that grim glade.
And turning now his cheery eyes
Toward Salem's towers in solemn guise
Stretched dumb along the Mount of God,
He cried to Clarel waiting near
In saddle-seat and gazing drear:
“A canter, lad, on steed clean-shod
Didst ever take on English sod?
The downs, the downs! Yet even here
For a fair matin ride withal
I like the run round yonder wall.
Hight have you, outlook; and the view
Varies as you the turn pursue.”—
So he, thro' inobservance, blind
To that preoccupied young mind,
In frame how different, in sooth—
Pained and reverting still to Ruth
Immured and parted from him there
Behind those ramparts of despair.
Mortmain, whose wannish eyes declared
How ill thro' night-hours he had fared,


By chance overheard, and muttered—“Brass,
A sounding brass and tinkling cymbal!
Who he that with a tongue so nimble
Affects light heart in such a pass?”
And full his cloud on Derwent bent:
“Yea, and but thou seem'st well content.
But turn, another thing's to see:
Thy back's upon Gethsemane.”
The priest wheeled short: What kind of man
Was this? The other re-began:
“'Tis Terra Santa—Holy Land:
Terra Damnata though's at hand
Within.”—“You mean where Judas stood?
Yes, monks locate and name that ground;
They've railed it off. Good, very good:
It minds one of a vacant pound.—
We tarry long: why lags our man?”
And rose; anew glanced toward the hight.
Here Mortmain from the words and plight
Conjecture drew; and thus he ran:
“Be some who with the god will sup,
Happy to share his paschal wine.
'Tis well. But the ensuing cup,
The bitter cup?”
“Art a divine?”
Asked Derwent, turning that aside;
“Methinks, good friend, too much you chide.
I know these precincts. Still, believe—
And let's discard each idle trope—
Rightly considered, they can give
A hope to man, a cheerful hope.”
“Not for this world. The Christian plea—
What basis has it, but that here
Man is not happy, nor can be?
There it confirms philosophy:


The compensation of its cheer
Is reason why the grass survives
Of verdurous Christianity,
Ay, trampled, lives, tho' hardly thrives
In these mad days.”—
Surprised at it,
Derwent intently viewed the man,
Marked the unsolaced aspect wan;
And fidgeted; yet matter fit
Had offered; but the other changed
In quick caprice, and willful ranged
In wild invective: “O abyss!
Here, upon what was erst the sod,
A man betrayed the yearning god;
A man, yet with a woman's kiss.
'Twas human, that unanimous cry,
‘We're fixed to hate him—crucify!’
The which they did. And hands, nailed down,
Might not avail to screen the face
From each head-wagging mocking one.
This day, with some of earthly race,
May passion similar go on?”—
Inferring, rightly or amiss,
Some personal peculiar cause
For such a poignant strain as this,
The priest disturbed not here the pause
Which sudden fell. The other turned,
And, with a strange transition, burned
Invokingly: “Ye trunks of moan—
Gethsemane olives, do ye hear
The trump of that vain-glorious land
Where human nature they enthrone
Displacing the divine?” His hand
He raised there—let it fall, and fell
Himself, with the last syllable,
To moody hush. Then, fierce: “Hired band


Of laureates of man's fallen tribe—
Slaves are ye, slaves beyond the scribe
Of Nero; he, if flatterer blind,
Toadied not total human kind,
Which ye kerns do. But Bel shall bow
And Nebo stoop.”
“Ah, come, friend, come,”
Pleaded the charitable priest
Still bearing with him, anyhow,
By fate unbidden to joy's feast:
“Thou'rt strong; yield then the weak some room.
Too earnest art thou;” and with eye
Of one who fain would mollify
All frowardness, he looked a smile.
But not that heart might he beguile:
“Man's vicious: snaffle him with kings;
Or, if kings cease to curb, devise
Severer bit. This garden brings
Such lesson. Heed it, and be wise
In thoughts not new.”
“Thou'rt ill to-day,”
Here peering, but in cautious way,
“Nor solace find in valley wild.”
The other wheeled, nor more would say;
And soon the cavalcade defiled.