University of Virginia Library



They climb. In Indian file they gain
A sheeted blank white lifted plain—
A moor of chalk, or slimy clay,
With gluey track and streaky trail
Of some small slug or torpid snail.
With hooded brows against the sun,
Man after man they labor on.
Corrupt and mortally intense,
What fumes ere long pollute the sense?
But, hark the flap and lumbering rise
Of launching wing; see the gaunt size
Of the ground-shadow thereby thrown.
Behind a great and sheltering stone
A camel, worn out, down had laid—
Never to rise. 'Tis thence the kite
Ascends, sails off in Tyreward flight.
As 'twere Apollyon, angel bad,
They watch him as he speeds away.
But Vine, in mere caprice of clay,
Or else because a pride had birth
Slighting high claims which vaunted be
And favoring things of low degree—
From heaven he turned him down to earth,
Eagle to ass. She now, ahead
Went riderless, with even tread
And in official manner, sooth,
For bell and cord she'd known in youth;
Through mart and wild, bazaar and waste
Preceding camels strung in train,
Full often had the dwarf thing paced,
Conductress of the caravan
Of creatures tall. What meant Vine's glance


Ironic here which impish ran
In thievish way? O, world's advance:
We wise limp after!
The cavalcade
Anon file by a pit-like glade
Clean scooped of last lean dregs of soil;
Attesting in rude terraced stones
The ancient husbandmen's hard toil,—
All now a valley of dry bones—
In shape a hopper. 'Twas a sight
So marked with dead, dead undelight,
That Derwent half unconscious here
Stole a quick glance at Mortmain's face
To note how it received the cheer.
Whereat the moody man, with sting
Returned the imprudent glance apace—
Wayward retort all withering
Though wordless. Clarel looking on,
Saw there repeated the wild tone
Of that discountenancing late
In sequel to prolonged debate
Upon the mountain. And again
Puzzled, and earnest, less to know
What rasped the Swede in such a man
Than how indeed the priest could show
Such strange forbearance; ventured now
To put a question to him fair.
“Oh, oh,” he answered, all his air
Recovered from the disarray;
“The shadow flung by Ebal's hill
On Gerizim, it cannot stay,
But passes. Ay, and ever still—
But don't you see the man is mad?
His fits he has; sad, sad, how sad!
Besides; but let me tell you now;
Do you read Greek? Well, long ago,


In stage when goslings try the wing,
And peacock-chicks would softly sing,
And roosters small essay to crow;
Reading Theocritus divine,
Envious I grew of all that charm
Where sweet and simple so entwine;
But I plucked up and won a balm:
Thought I, I'll beat him in his place:
If, in my verses, and what not,
If I can't have this pagan grace,
Still—nor alone in page I blot,
But all encounters that may be—
I'll make it up with Christian charity.”
Another brink they win, and view
Adown in faintly greenish hollow
An oval camp of sable hue
Pitched full across the track they follow—
Twelve tents of shaggy goat's wool dun.
“Ah, tents of Kedar may these be,”
Cried Derwent; “named by Solomon
In song? Black, but scarce comely, see.
Whom have we here? The brood of Lot?”
“The oval seems his burial-plot,”
Said Rolfe; “and, for his brood, these men—
They rove perchance from Moab's den
Or Ammon's. Belex here seems well
To know them, and no doubt will tell.”
The Spahi, not at all remiss
In airing his Turk prejudice,
Exclaimed: “Ay, sirs; and ill betide
These Moabites and Ammonites
Ferrying Jordan either side—
Robbers and starvelings, mangy wights.
Sirs, I will vouch one thing they do:
Each year they harry Jericho


In harvest; yet thereby they gain
But meager, rusty spears of grain.
What right have such black thieves to live?
Much more to think here to receive
Our toll? Just Allah! say the word,
And—” here he signified with sword
The rest, impatient of delay
While yet on hight at brink they stay,
So bidden by Djalea, who slow
Descends into the hopper low,
Riding. “To parley with the knaves!”
Cried Belex; “spur them down; that saves
All trouble, sirs; 'twas Ibrahim's way;
When, in the Lebanon one day
We came upon a---”
“Pardon me,”
The priest; “but look how leisurely
He enters; yes, and straight he goes
To meet our friend with scowling brows,
The warder in yon outlet, see,
Holding his desert spear transverse,
Bar-like, from sable hearse to hearse
Of toll-gate tents. Foreboding ill,
The woman calls there to her brood.
But what's to fear! Ah, with good-will
They bustle in the war-like mood;
Save us from those long fish-pole lances!
Look, menacingly one advances;
But he, our Druze, he mindeth none,
But paces. So! they soften down.
'Tis Zar, it is that dainty steed,
High-bred fine equine lady brave,
Of stock derived from long ago;
'Tis she they now admiring heed,
Picking her mincing way so grave,
None jostling, grazing scarce a toe


Of all the press. The sulky clan,
Yes, make way for the mare—and man!
There's homage!”
“Ay, ay,” Belex said,
“They'd like to steal her and retire:
Her beauty is their heart's desire—
Base jackals with their jades!”
Well sped
The Druze. The champion he nears
Posted in outlet, keeping ward,
Who, altering at that aspect, peers,
And him needs own for natural lord.
Though claiming kingship of the land
He hesitates to make demand:
Salute he yields. The Druze returns
The salutation; nor he spurns
To smoke with Ammon, but in way
Not derogating—brief delay.
They part. The unmolested train
Are beckoned, and come down. Amain
The camp they enter and pass through;
No conflict here, no weak ado
Of words or blows.
This policy
(Djalea's) bred now a pleasing thought
In Derwent: “Wars might ended be,
Yes, Japhet, Shem, and Ham be brought
To confluence of amity,
Were leaders but discreet and wise
Like this our chief.”
The armed man's eyes
Turned toward him tolerantly there
As 'twere a prattling child.
They fare
Further, and win a nook of stone,
And there a fountain making moan.


The shade invites, though not of trees:
They tarry in this chapel-of-ease;
Then up, and journey on and on,
Nor tent they see—not even a lonely one.