University of Virginia Library



It was the day preceding Lent,
Shrove Tuesday named in English old
(Forefathers' English), and content,
Some yet would tarry, to behold
The initiatory nocturn rite.
'Twas the small hour, as once again,
And final now, in mounted plight
They curve about the Bethlehem urn
Or vine-clad hollow of the swain,
And Clarel felt in every vein—
At last, Jerusalem! 'Twas thence
They started—thither they return,
Rounding the waste circumference.
Now Belex in his revery light
Rolls up and down those guineas bright
Whose minted recompense shall chink
In pouch of sash when travel's brink
Of end is won. Djalea in face
Wears an abstraction, lit by grace
Which governed hopes of rapture lend:
On coins his musings likewise bend—
The starry sequins woven fair
Into black tresses. But an air
Considerate and prudent reigns;
For his the love not vainly sure:
'Tis passion deep of man mature
For one who half a child remains:
Yes, underneath a look sedate,
What throbs are known!
But desolate
Upon the pilgrims strangely fall


Eclipses heavier far than come
To hinds, which, after carnival,
Return to toil and querulous home.
Revert did they? in mind recall
Their pilgrimage, yes, sum it all?
Could Siddim haunt them? Saba's bay?
Did the deep nature in them say—
Two, two are missing—laid away
In deserts twin? They let it be,
Nor spake; the candor of the heart
Shrank from suspected counterpart.
But one there was (and Clarel he)
Who, in his aspect free from cloud,
Here caught a gleam from source unspied,
As cliff may take on mountain-side,
When there one small brown cirque ye see,
Lit up in mole, how mellowly,
Day going down in somber shroud—
But tell the vein
Of new emotion, inly held,
That so the long contention quelled—
Languor, and indecision, pain.
Was it abrupt resolve? a strain
Wiser than wisdom's self might teach?
Yea, now his hand would boldly reach
And pluck the nodding fruit to him,
Fruit of the tree of life. If doubt
Spin spider-like her tissue out,
And make a snare in reason dim—
Why hang a fly in flimsy web?
One thing was clear, one thing in sooth:
Stays not the prime of June or youth:
At flood that tide makes haste to ebb.
Recurred one mute appeal of Ruth
(Now first aright construed, he thought),


She seemed to fear for him, and say:
“Ah, tread not, sweet, my father's way,
In whom this evil spirit wrought
And dragged us hither where we die!”
Yes, now would he forsake that road—
Alertly now and eager hie
To dame and daughter, where they trod
The Dolorosa—quick depart
With them and seek a happier sky.
Warblings he heard of hope in heart,
Responded to by duty's hymn;
He, late but weak, felt now each limb
In strength how buoyant. But, in truth,
Was part caprice, sally of youth?
What pulse was this with burning beat?
Whence, whence the passion that could give
Feathers to thought, yea, Mercury's feet?
The Lyonese, to sense so dear,
Nor less from faith a fugitive—
Had he infected Clarel here?
But came relapse: What end may prove?
Ah, almoner to Saba's dove,
Ah, bodeful text of hermit-rhyme!
But what! distrust the trustful eyes?
Are the sphered breasts full of mysteries
Which not the maiden's self may know?
May love's nice balance, finely slight,
Take tremor from fulfilled delight?
Can nature such a doom dispense
As, after ardor's tender glow,
To make the rapture more than pall
With evil secrets in the sense,
And guile whose bud is innocence—
Sweet blossom of the flower of gall?
Nay, nay: Ah! God, keep far from me
Cursed Manes and the Manichee!


At large here life proclaims the law:
Unto embraces myriads draw
Through sacred impulse. Take thy wife;
Venture, and prove the soul of life,
And let fate drive.—So he the while,
In shadow from the ledges thrown,
As down the Bethlehem hill they file—
A breast upon the plain anon
Far, in upland spot
A light is seen in Rama paling;
But Clarel sped, and heeded not,
At least recalled not Rachel wailing
Aside they win a fountain clear,
The Cistern of the Kings—so named
Because (as vouched) the Magi here
Watered their camels, and reclaimed
The Ray, brief hid. Ere this they passed
Clarel looked in and there saw glassed
Down in the wave, one mellow star;
Then, glancing up, beheld afar
Enisled serene, the orb itself:—
Apt auspice here for journeying elf.
And now those skirting slopes they tread
Which devious bar the sunken bed
Of Hinnom. Thence uplifted shone
In hauntedness the deicide town
Faint silvered. Gates, of course, were barred;
But at the further eastern one,
St. Stephen's—there the turbaned guard
(To Belex known) at whispered word
Would ope. Thither, the nearer way,
By Jeremy's grot—they shun that ground,
For there an Ottoman camp's array


Deters. Through Hinnom now they push
Their course round Zion by the glen
Toward Rogel—whither shadowy rush
And where, at last, in cloud convene
(Ere, one, they sweep to gloomier hush)
Those two black chasms which enfold
Jehovah's hight. Flanking the well,
Ophel they turn, and gain the dell
Of Shaveh. Here the city old,
Fast locked in torpor, fixed in blight,
No hum sent forth, revealed no light:
Though, facing it, cliff-hung Siloam—
Sepulchral hamlet—showed in tomb
A twinkling lamp. The valley slept—
Obscure, in monitory dream
Oppressive, roofed with awful skies
Whose stars like silver nail-heads gleam
Which stud some lid over lifeless eyes.