University of Virginia Library


Days fleet. No vain enticements lure
Clarel to Agar's roof. Her tact
Prevailed: the Rabbi might not act
His will austere. And more and more
A prey to one devouring whim,
Nathan yet more absented him.
Welcome the matron ever had
For Clarel. Was the youth not one
New from the clime she doated on?
And if indeed an exile sad
By daisy in a letter laid
Reminded be of home-delight,
Tho' there first greeted by the sight
Of that transmitted flower—how then
Not feel a kin emotion bred
At glimpse of face of countryman
Tho' stranger? Yes, a Jewess—born
In Gentile land where nature's wreath


Exhales the first creation's breath—
The waste of Judah made her lorn.
The student, sharing not her blood,
Nearer in tie of spirit stood
Than he she called Rabboni. So
In Agar's liking did he grow—
Deeper in heart of Ruth; and learned
The more how both for freedom yearned;
And much surmised, too, left unsaid
By the tried mother and the maid.
Howe'er dull natures read the signs
Where untold grief a hermit pines—
The anxious, strained, weak, nervous air
Of trouble, which like shame may wear
Her gaberdine; though soul in feint
May look pathetic self-restraint,
For ends pernicious; real care,
Sorrow made dumb where duties move,
Never eluded love, true love,
A deep diviner.
Here, for space
The past of wife and daughter trace.
Of Agar's kin for many an age
Not one had seen the heritage
Of Judah; Gentile lands detained.
So, while they clung to Moses' lore
Far from the land his guidance gained,
'Twas Eld's romance, a treasured store
Like plate inherited. In fine
It graced, in seemly way benign,
That family feeling of the Jew,
Which hallowed by each priestly rite,
Makes home a temple—sheds delight
Naomi ere her trial knew.
Happy was Agar ere the seas
She crossed for Zion. Pride she took—


Pride, if in small felicities—
Pride in her little court, a nook
Where morning-glories starred the door:
So sweet without, so snug within.
At sunny matin meal serene
Her damask cloth she'd note. It bore
In Hebrew text about the hem,
Mid broidered cipher and device,
“If I forget thee, O Jerusalem!”
And swam before her humid eyes,
In rainbowed distance, Paradise.
Faith, ravished, followed Fancy's path
In more of bliss than nature hath.
But ah, the dream to test by deed,
To seek to handle the ideal
And make a sentiment serve need:
To try to realize the unreal!
'Twas not that Agar reasoned—nay,
She did but feel, true woman's way.
What solace from the desert win
Far from known friends, familiar kin?
How nearer God? The chanted Zion
Showed graves, but graves to gasp and die on.
Nathan, her convert, for his sake
Grief had she stifled long; but now,
The nursling one lay pale and low.
Oft of that waxen face she'd think
Beneath the stones; her heart would sink
And in hard bitterness repine,
“Slim grass, poor babe, to grave of thine!”
Ruth, too, when here a child she came,
Would blurt in reckless childhood's way,
“'Tis a bad place.” But the sad dame
Would check; and, as the maiden grew,
Counsel she kept—too much she knew.


But how to give her feelings play?
With cherished pots of herbs and flowers
She strove to appease the hungry hours;
Each leaf bedewed with many a tear
For Gentile land, how green and dear!
What tho' the dame and daughter both
In synagogue, behind the grate
Dividing sexes, oftimes sat?
It was with hearts but chill and loath;
Never was heaven served by that
Cold form.—With Clarel seemed to come
A wastage from the fields of home,
Crossing the wind from Judah's sand,
Reviving Agar, and of power
To make the bud in Ruth expand
With promise of unfolding hour.