These, for whom stands no type or title given
In all the squalid tales of gore and pelf;
Though cowed by crashing thunders from all heaven.
Cain never said, ‘My brother slew himself.’
Tear you the truth out of your drivelling spy,
The maniac whom you set to swing death’s scythe.
Nay; torture not the torturer—let him lie:
What need of racks to teach a worm to writhe?
Bear with us, O our sister, not in pride,
Nor any scorn we see thee spoiled of knaves,
But only shame to hear, where Danton died,
Thy foul dead kings all laughing in their graves.
Thou hast a right to rule thyself; to be
The thing thou wilt; to grin, to fawn, to creep:
To crown these clumsy liars; ay, and we
Who knew thee once, we have a right to weep.
THE PRAISE OF DUST
‘What of vile dust?’ the preacher said.
Methought the whole world woke,
The dead stone lived beneath my foot,
And my whole body spoke.
’You, that play tyrant to the dust,
And stamp its wrinkled face,
This patient star that flings you not
Far into homeless space.
’Come down out of your dusty shrine
The living dust to see,
The flowers that at your sermon’s end
Stand blazing silently.
’Rich white and blood-red blossom; stones,
Lichens like fire encrust;
A gleam of blue, a glare of gold,
The vision of the dust.
’Pass them all by: till, as you come
Where, at a city’s edge,
Under a tree—I know it well—
Under a lattice ledge,
’The sunshine falls on one brown head.
You, too, O cold of clay,
Eater of stones, may haply hear
The trumpets of that day
’When God to all his paladins
By his own splendour swore
To make a fairer face than heaven,
Of dust and nothing more.’
THE BALLAD OF THE BATTLE OF GIBEON
Five kings rule o’er the Amorite,
Mighty as fear and old as night;
Swathed with unguent and gold and jewel,
Waxed they merry and fat and cruel.
Zedek of Salem, a terror and glory,
Whose face was hid while his robes were gory;
And Hoham of Hebron, whose loathly face is
Heavy and dark o’er the ruin of races;
And Piram of Jarmuth, drunk with strange wine,
Who dreamed he had fashioned all stars that shine;
And Debir of Eglon wild, without pity,
Who raged like a plague in the midst of his city;
And Japhia of Lachish, a fire that flameth,
Who did in the daylight what no man nameth.
These five kings said one to another,
’King unto king o’er the world is brother,
Seeing that now, for a sign and a wonder,
A red eclipse and a tongue of thunder,
A shape and a finger of desolation,
Is come against us a kingless nation.
Gibeon hath failed us: it were not good
That a man remember where Gibeon stood.’
Then Gibeon sent to our captain, crying,
’Son of Nun, let a shaft be flying,
For unclean birds are gathering greedily;
Slack not thy hand, but come thou speedily.
Yea, we are lost save thou maintain’st us,
For the kings of the mountains are gathered against us.’