University of Virginia Library



After the hint by Rolfe bestowed,
Redoubled import, one may ween,
Had Nehemiah's submissive mien
For Clarel. Nay, his poor abode—
And thither now the twain repair—
A new significance might bear.
Thin grasses, such as sprout in sand,
Clarel observes in crannies old
Along the cornice. Not his hand
The mower fills with such, nor arms
Of him that binds the sheaf, enfold.
Now mid the quiet which becharms
That mural wilderness remote,
Querulous came the little note
Of bird familiar—one of them
So numerous in Jerusalem,
Still snared for market, it is told,
And two were for a farthing sold—
The sparrow. But this single one
Plaining upon a terrace nigh,
Was like the Psalmist's making moan
For loss of mate—forsaken quite,
Which on the house-top doth alight
And watches, and her lonely cry
No answer gets.—In sunny hight
Like dotting bees against the sky
What twitterers o'er the temple fly!
But now the arch and stair they gain,
And in the chamber sit the twain.
Clarel in previous time secure,
From Nehemiah had sought to lure
Some mention of his life, but failed.


Rolfe's hintful story so prevailed,
Anew he thought to venture it.
But while in so much else aside
Subject to senile lapse of tide,
In this hid matter of his past
The saint evinced a guardful wit;
His waning energies seemed massed
Here, and but here, to keep the door.
At present his reserve of brow
Reproach in such sort did avow,
That Clarel never pressed him more.
Nay, fearing lest he trespass might
Even in tarrying longer now,
He parted. As he slow withdrew,
Well pleased he noted in review
The hermitage improved in plight.
Some one had done a friendly thing:
Who? Small was Clarel's wondering.