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Delay!—Shall flute from forth the Gate
Issue, to warble welcome here—
Upon this safe returning wait
In gratulation? And, for cheer,
When inn they gain, there shall they see
The door-post wreathed?
Howe'er it be,
Through Clarel a revulsion ran,
Such as may seize debarking man
First hearing on Coquimbo's ground
That subterranean sullen sound
Which dull foreruns the shock. His heart,
In augury fair arrested here,
Upbraided him: Fool! and didst part
From Ruth? Strangely a novel fear
Obtruded—petty, and yet worse
And more from reason too averse,
Than that recurrent haunting bier
Molesting him erewhile. And yet
It was but irritation, fret—
Misgiving that the lines he writ
Upon the eve before the start
For Siddim, failed, or were unfit—
Came short of the occasion's tone:
To leave her, leave her in grief's smart:
To leave her—her, the stricken one:
Now first to feel full force of it!
Away! to be but there, but there!
Vain goadings: yet of love true part.
But then the pledge with letter sent,
Though but a trifle, still might bear
A token in dumb argument


Expressive more than words.
With knee
Straining against the saddle-brace,
He urges on; till, near the place
Of Hebrew graves, a light they see
Moving, and figures dimly trace:
Some furtive strange society.
Yet nearer as they ride, the light
Shuts down. “Abide!” enjoined the Druze;
“Waylayers these are none, but Jews,
Or I mistake, who here by night
Have stolen to do grave-digger's work.
During late outbreak in the town
The bigot in the baser Turk
Was so inflamed, some Hebrews dread
Assault, even here among their dead.
Abide a space; let me ride on.”
Up pushed he, spake, allayed the fright
Of them who had shut down the light
At sound of comers.
Close they draw—
Advancing, lit by fan-shaped rays
Shot from a small dark-lantern's jaw
Presented pistol-like. They saw
Mattocks and men, in outline dim
On either ominous side of him
From whom went forth that point of blaze.
Resting from labor, each one stays
His implement on grave-stones old.
New-dug, between these, they behold
Two narrow pits: and (nor remote)
Twin figures on the ground they note
Folded in cloaks.
“And who rest there?”
Rolfe sidelong asked.
“Our friends; have care!”


Replied the one that held in view
The lantern, slanting it a'shift,
Plainer disclosing them, and, too,
A broidered scarf, love's first chance gift,
The student's (which how well he knew!)
Binding one mantle's slender span.
With piercing cry, as one distraught,
Down from his horse leaped Clarel—ran,
And hold of that cloak instant caught,
And bared the face. Then (like a man
Shot through the heart, but who retains
His posture) rigid he remains—
The mantle's border in his hand,
His glazed eyes unremoved. The band
Of Jews—the pilgrims—all look on
Shocked or amazed.
But speech he won:
“No—yes: enchanted here!—her name?”
“Ruth, Nathan's daughter,” said a Jew
Who kenned him now—the youth that came
Oft to the close; “but, thou—forbear;
The dawn's at hand and haste is due:
See, by her side, 'tis Agar there.”
“Ruth? Agar?—art thou God?—But ye—
All swims, and I but blackness see.—
How happed it? speak!”
“The fever—grief:
'Twere hard to tell; was no relief.”
“And ye—your tribe—'twas ye denied
Me access to this virgin's side
In bitter trial: take my curse!—
O blind, blind, barren universe!
Now am I like a bough torn down,
And I must wither, cloud or sun!—
Had I been near, this had not been.
Do spirits look down upon this scene?—


The message? some last word was left?”
“For thee? no, none; the life was reft
Sudden from Ruth; and Agar died
Babbling of gulls and ocean wide—
Out of her mind.”
“And here's the furl
Of Nathan's faith: then perish faith—
'Tis perjured!—Take me, take me, Death!
Where Ruth is gone, me thither whirl,
Where'er it be!”
“Ye do outgo
Mad Korah. Boy, this is the Dale
Of Doom, God's last assizes; so,
Curb thee; even if sharp grief assail,
Respect these precincts lest thou know
An ill.”
“Give way, quit thou our dead!”
Menaced another, striding out;
“Art thou of us? turn thee about!”
“Spurn—I'll endure; all spirit's fled
When one fears nothing.—Bear with me,
Yet bear!—Conviction is not gone
Though faith's gone: that which shall not be
Still ought to be!”
But here came on,
With heavy footing, hollow heard,
Hebrews, which bare rude slabs, to place
Athwart the bodies when interred,
That earth should weigh not on the face;
For coffin was there none; and all
Was make-shift in this funeral.
Uncouthly here a Jew began
To re-adjust Ruth's cloak. Amain
Did Clarel push him; and, in hiss:
“Not thou—for me!—Alone, alone
In such bride-chamber to lie down!


Nay, leave one hand out—like to this—
That so the bridegroom may not miss
To kiss it first, when soon he comes.—
But 'tis not she!” and hid his face.
They laid them in the under-glooms—
Each pale one in her portioned place.
The gravel, from the bank raked down,
Dull sounded on those slabs of stone,
Grave answering grave—dull and more dull,
Each mass growing more, till either pit was full.
As up from Kedron dumb they drew,
Then first the shivering Clarel knew
Night's damp. The Martyr's port is won—
Stephen's; harsh grates the bolt withdrawn;
And, over Olivet, comes on
Ash Wednesday in the gray of dawn.