He turned; he bared a demon
He filled the night with ribald song;
For many a league, in evil case,
We danced our leaden feet along.
And every rood, in that foul wine,
I pledged his fate: he drank to mine.
“What comfort has thou?”
To me my phantom comrade saith.
“I know,” said I, “where’er I lie,
The end of each man’s road is death.
I pray that I may find it soon;
I weary of night’s changeless moon.”
Then, in such lays of hideous
As never tainted human breath,
He cursed all things of human worth—
Made mock of life and scorn of death.
“Art weary?” quoth he; and said I:
“Fain here to lay me down and die.”
“Then join,” he
saith, “my roundelay;
Curse God and die, and make an end.
Fled is thine hope, and done thy day;
The fleshworm is thine only friend.
Thy mouth is fouled, and he, I ween,
Alone can scour thy palate clean.”
I said: “I justify
I claim its heaviest stripe mine own.
Did justice cease to dwell with God,
Then God were toppled from His throne!
Fill up thy chalice to the brink—
Thy bitterest, and I will drink.”
With looks like any devil’s
He poured the brewage till it ran
With fetid horror at the brim.
“Now, drink,” he gibed, “and play the man!”
He stretched the chalice forth. It stank
That my soul failed me, and I drank.
With loathing soul and quivering
I drank, and lo! the draught I took
Was limpid-clear, and sweet and fresh
As ever came from summer brook
Or fountain, where the trees have made
Long from the sun a pleasant shade.
He hurled the chalice to the
A bright hand caught it; and was gone.
He blessed me with a sovereign eye,
And like a god’s his visage shone,
And there he took me by the hand,
And led me towards another land.
Buried in Westminster Abbey, April, 1874.
BY HENRY LLOYD.
With solemn march and slow
a soldier comes,
In conquest fallen; home we bring him dead;
Stand silent by, beat low the muffled drums,
Uncover ye, and bow the reverent head.
Where ghostly echoes dwell
and grey light falls,
Where Kings and Heroes rest in honoured sleep;
Their names steel bitten on the sacred walls,
Inter his dust, while England bends to weep.
Stir not ye Kings and Heroes
in your rest,
Lest these poor bones dishonour such as you;
This man was both, though nodding plume or crest
Ne’er waved above his eye so bright and true.
By no sad orphan is his name
A hero, yet no battered shield he brings.
Nor on his bier a blood encrusted sword;
Nor as his trophies Kings, nor crowns of Kings.