University of Virginia Library



And wherefore by the convents be
Gardens? Ascetics roses twine?
Nay, but there is a memory.
Within a garden walking see
The angered God. And where the vine
And olive in the darkling hours
Inweave green sepulchers of bowers—
Who, to defend us from despair,
Pale undergoes the passion there
In solitude? Yes, memory
Links Eden and Gethsemane;
So that not meaningless in sway
Gardens adjoin the convents gray.
On Salem's hill in Solomon's years
Of gala, O the happy town!
In groups the people sauntered down,
And, Kedron crossing, lightly wound
Where now the tragic grove appears,
Then palmy, and a pleasure-ground.
The student and companions win
The wicket—pause, and enter in.
By roots strapped down in fold on fold—
Gnarled into wens and knobs and knees—
In olives, monumental trees,
The Pang's survivors they behold.
A wizened blue fruit drops from them,
Nipped harvest of Jerusalem.
Wistful here Clarel turned toward Vine,
And would have spoken; but as well


Hail Dathan swallowed in the mine—
Tradition, legend, lent such spell
And rapt him in remoteness so.
Meanwhile, in shade the olives throw,
Nehemiah pensive sat him down
And turned the chapter in St John.
What frame of mind may Clarel woo?
He the night-scene in picture drew—
The band which came for sinless blood
With swords and staves, a multitude.
They brush the twigs, small birds take wing,
The dead boughs crackle, lanterns swing,
Till lo, they spy them thro' the wood.
“Master!”—'Tis Judas. Then the kiss.
And He, He falters not at this—
Speechless, unspeakably submiss:
The fulsome serpent on the cheek
Sliming: endurance more than meek—
Endurance of the fraud foreknown,
And fiend-heart in the human one.
Ah, now the pard on Clarel springs:
The Passion's narrative plants stings.
To break away, he turns and views
The white-haired under olive bowed
Immersed in Scripture; and he woos—
“Whate'er the chapter, read aloud.”
The saint looked up, but with a stare
Absent and wildered, vacant there.
As part to kill time, part for task
Some shepherd old pores over book—
Shelved farm-book of his life forepast
When he bestirred him and amassed;
If chance one interrupt, and ask—
What read you? he will turn a look
Which shows he knows not what he reads,
Or knowing, he but weary heeds,


Or scarce remembers; here much so
With Nehemiah, dazed out and low.
And presently—to intercept—
Over Clarel, too, strange numbness crept.
A monk, custodian of the ground,
Drew nigh, and showed him by the steep
The rock or legendary mound
Where James and Peter fell asleep.
Dully the pilgrim scanned the spot,
Nor spake.—“Signor, and think'st thou not
'Twas sorrow brought their slumber on?
St. Luke avers no sluggard rest:
Nay, but excess of feeling pressed
Till ache to apathy was won.”
To Clarel 'twas no hollow word.
Experience did proof afford.
For Vine, aloof he loitered—shrunk
In privity and shunned the monk.
Clarel awaited him. He came—
The shadow of his previous air
Merged in a settled neutral frame—
Assumed, may be. Would Vine disclaim
All sympathy the youth might share?
About to leave, they turn to look
For him but late estranged in book:
Asleep he lay; the face bent down
Viewless between the crossing arms,
One slack hand on the good book thrown
In peace that every care becharms.
Then died the shadow off from Vine:
A spirit seemed he not unblest
As here he made a quiet sign
Unto the monk: Spare to molest;
Let this poor dreamer take his rest,
His fill of rest.


But now at stand
Who there alertly glances up
By grotto of the Bitter Cup—
Spruce, and with volume light in hand
Bound smartly, late in reference scanned?
Inquisitive Philistine: lo,
Tourists replace the pilgrims so.
At peep of that brisk dapper man
Over Vine's face a ripple ran
Of freakish mockery, elfin light;
Whereby what thing may Clarel see?
O angels, rescue from the sight!
Paul Pry? and in Gethsemane?
He shrunk the thought of it to fan;
Nor liked the freak in Vine that threw
Such a suggestion into view;
Nor less it hit that fearful man.