The Poems of Henry Van Dyke eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 381 pages of information about The Poems of Henry Van Dyke.



TIME:  A month later:  dawn


NAAMAN’S tent, on high ground among the mountains near Samaria:  the city below.  In the distance, a wide and splendid landscape. 
 SABALLIDIN and soldiers on guard below the tent.  Enter RUAHMAH in hunter’s dress, with a lute slung from her shoulder.

    Peace and good health to you, Saballidin. 
    Good morrow to you all.  How fares my lord?

    The curtains of his tent are folded still: 
    They have not moved since we returned, last night,
    And told him what befell us in the city.

    Told him!  Why did you make report to him
    And not to me?  Am I not captain here,
    Intrusted by the King’s command with care
    Of Naaman until he is restored? 
    ’Tis mine to know the first of good or ill
    In this adventure:  mine to shield his heart
    From every arrow of adversity. 
    What have you told him?  Speak!

                                    Lady, we feared
    To bring our news to you.  For when the King
    Of Israel had read our monarch’s letter,
    He rent his clothes, and cried, “Am I a god,
    To kill and make alive, that I should heal
    A leper?  Ye have come with false pretence,
    Damascus seeks a quarrel with me.  Go!”
    But when we told our lord, he closed his tent,
    And there remains enfolded in his grief. 
    I trust he sleeps; ’twere kind to let him sleep! 
    For now he doth forget his misery,
    And all the burden of his hopeless woe
    Is lifted from him by the gentle hand
    Of slumber.  Oh, to those bereft of hope
    Sleep is the only blessing left,—­the last
    Asylum of the weary, the one sign
    Of pity from impenetrable heaven. 
    Waking is strife; sleep is the truce of God! 
    Ah, lady, wake him not.  The day will be
    Full long for him to suffer, and for us
    To turn our disappointed faces home
    On the long road by which we must return.

    Return!  Who gave you that command?  Not I! 
    The King made me the leader of this quest,
    And bound you all to follow me, because
    He knew I never would return without
    The thing for which he sent us.  I’ll go on
    Day after day, unto the uttermost parts
    Of earth, if need be, and beyond the gates
    Of morning, till I find that which I seek,—­
    New life for Naaman.  Are ye ashamed
    To have a woman lead you?  Then go back
    And tell the King, “This huntress went too far
    For us to follow:  she pursues the trail
    Of hope alone, refusing to forsake
    The quarry:  we grew weary of the chase;

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The Poems of Henry Van Dyke from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.