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As by the wood drifts thistle-down
And settles on soft mosses fair,
Stillness was wafted, dropped and sown;
Which stillness Vine, with timorous air
Of virgin tact, thus brake upon,
Nor with chance hint: “One can't forbear
Thinking that Margoth is—a Jew.”
Hereat, as for response, they view
The priest.
“And, well, why me?” he cried;


“With one consent why turn to me?
Am I professional? Nay, free!
I grant that here by Judah's side
Queerly it jars with frame implied
To list this geologic Jew
His way Jehovah's world construe:
In Gentile 'twould not seem so odd.
But here may preconceptions thrall?
Be many Hebrews we recall
Whose contrast with the breastplate bright
Of Aaron flushed in altar-light,
And Horeb's Moses, rock and rod,
Or closeted alone with God,
Quite equals Margoth's in its way:
At home we meet them every day.
The Houndsditch clothesman scarce would seem
Akin to seers. For one, I deem
Jew banker, merchant, statesman—these,
With artist, actress known to fame,
All strenuous in each Gentile aim,
Are Nature's off-hand witnesses
There's nothing mystic in her reign:
Your Jew's like wheat from Pharaoh's tomb:
Sow it in England, what will come?
The weird old seed yields market grain.”
Pleased by his wit while some recline,
A smile uncertain lighted Vine,
But died away.
“Jews share the change,”
Derwent proceeded: “Range, they range—
In liberal sciences they roam;
They're leavened, and it works, believe;
Signs are, and such as scarce deceive
From Holland, that historic home
Of erudite Israel, many a tome
Talmudic, shipped is over sea


For antiquarian rubbish.”
Cried Rolfe; “e'en that indeed may be,
Nor less the Jew keep fealty
To ancient rites. Aaron's gemmed vest
Will long outlive Genevan cloth—
Nothing in Time's old camphor-chest
So little subject to the moth.
But Rabbis have their troublers too.
Nay, if thro' dusty stalls we look,
Haply we disinter to view
More than one bold freethinking Jew
That in his day with vigor shook
Faith's leaning tower.”
“Which stood the throe,”
Here Derwent in appendix: “look,
Faith's leaning tower was founded so:
Faith leaned from the beginning; yes,
If slant, she holds her steadfastness.”
“May be;” and paused: “but wherefore clog?—
Uriel Acosta, he was one
Who troubled much the synagogue—
Recanted then, and dropped undone:
A suicide. There's Heine, too,
(In lineage crossed by blood of Jew,)
Pale jester, to whom life was yet
A tragic farce; whose wild death-rattle,
In which all voids and hollows met,
Desperately maintained the battle
Betwixt the dirge and castanet.
But him leave to his Paris stone
And rail, and friendly wreath thereon.
Recall those Hebrews, which of old
Sharing some doubts we moderns rue,
Would fain Eclectic comfort fold


By grafting slips from Plato's palm
On Moses' melancholy yew:
But did they sprout? So we seek balm
By kindred graftings. Is that true?”
“Why ask? But see: there lived a Jew—
No Alexandrine Greekish one—
You know him—Moses Mendelssohn.”
“Is't him you cite? True spirit staid,
He, though his honest heart was scourged
By doubt Judaic, never laid
His burden at Christ's door; he urged—
‘Admit the mounting flames enfold
My basement; wisely shall my feet
The attic win, for safe retreat?’”
“And he said that? Poor man, he's cold.
But was not this that Mendelssohn
Whose Hebrew kinswoman's Hebrew son,
Baptized to Christian, worthily won
The good name of Neander so?”
“If that link were, well might one urge
From such example, thy strange flow,
Conviction! Breaking habit's tether,
Sincerest minds will yet diverge
Like chance-clouds scattered by mere weather;
Nor less at one point still they meet:
The self-hood keep they pure and sweet.”
“But Margoth,” in reminder here
Breathed Vine, as if while yet the ray
Lit Rolfe, to try his further cheer:
“But Margoth!”
“He, poor sheep astray,
The Levitic cipher quite erased,
On what vile pig-weed hath he grazed.
Not his Spinosa's starry brow
(A non-conformer, ye'll allow),


A lion in brain, in life a lamb,
Sinless recluse of Amsterdam;
Who, in the obscure and humble lane,
Such strangers seemed to entertain
As sat by tent beneath the tree
On Mamre's plain—mysterious three,
The informing guests of Abraham.
But no, it had but ill beseemed
If God's own angels so could list
To visit one, Pan's Atheist.
That high intelligence but dreamed—
Above delusion's vulgar plain
Deluded still. The erring twain,
Spinosa and poor Margoth here,
Both Jews, which in dissent do vary:
In these what parted poles appear—
The blind man and the visionary.”
“And whose the eye that sees aright
If any?” Clarel eager asked.
Aside Rolfe turned as overtasked;
And none responded. 'Twas like night
Descending from the seats of light,
Or seeming thence to fall. But here
Sedate a kindly tempered look
Private and confidential spoke
From Derwent's eyes, Clarel to cheer:
Take heart; something to fit thy youth
Instill I may, some saving truth—
Not best just now to volunteer.
Thought Clarel: Pray, and what wouldst prove?
Thy faith an over-easy glove.
Meanwhile Vine had relapsed. They saw
In silence the heart's shadow draw—
Rich shadow, such as gardens keep


In bower aside, where glow-worms peep
In evening over the virgin bed
Where dark-green periwinkles sleep—
Their bud the Violet of the Dead.