Ballads eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 65 pages of information about Ballads.

But the mother of Tamatea threw her arms abroad, “Pyre of my son,” she shouted, ’debited vengeance of God, Late, late, I behold you, yet I behold you at last, And glory, beholding!  For now are the days of my agony past, The lust that famished my soul now eats and drinks its desire, And they that encompassed my son shrivel alive in the fire.  Tenfold precious the vengeance that comes after lingering years!  Ye quenched the voice of my singer?—­hark, in your dying ears, The song of the conflagration!  Ye left me a widow alone? - Behold, the whole of your race consumes, sinew and bone And torturing flesh together:  man, mother, and maid Heaped in a common shambles; and already, borne by the trade, The smoke of your dissolution darkens the stars of night.”

Thus she spoke, and her stature grew in the people’s sight.


Rahero was there in the hall asleep:  beside him his wife,
Comely, a mirthful woman, one that delighted in life;
And a girl that was ripe for marriage, shy and sly as a mouse;
And a boy, a climber of trees:  all the hopes of his house. 
Unwary, with open hands, he slept in the midst of his folk,
And dreamed that he heard a voice crying without, and awoke,
Leaping blindly afoot like one from a dream that he fears. 
A hellish glow and clouds were about him;—­it roared in his ears
Like the sound of the cataract fall that plunges sudden and steep;
And Rahero swayed as he stood, and his reason was still asleep. 
Now the flame struck hard on the house, wind-wielded, a fracturing blow,
And the end of the roof was burst and fell on the sleepers below;
And the lofty hall, and the feast, and the prostrate bodies of folk,
Shone red in his eyes a moment, and then were swallowed of smoke. 
In the mind of Rahero clearness came; and he opened his throat;
And as when a squall comes sudden, the straining sail of a boat
Thunders aloud and bursts, so thundered the voice of the man.
- “The wind and the rain!” he shouted, the mustering word of the clan, {1n}
And “up!” and “to arms men of Vaiau!” But silence replied,
Or only the voice of the gusts of the fire, and nothing beside.

Rahero stooped and groped.  He handled his womankind, But the fumes of the fire and the kava had quenched the life of their mind, And they lay like pillars prone; and his hand encountered the boy, And there sprang in the gloom of his soul a sudden lightning of joy.  “Him can I save!” he thought, “if I were speedy enough.”  And he loosened the cloth from his loins, and swaddled the child in the stuff; And about the strength of his neck he knotted the burden well.

Project Gutenberg
Ballads from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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