Ballads eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 53 pages of information about Ballads.

And sudden the sound of one coming and running light as the foam
Struck on his ear; and he turned, and lo! a man on his track,
Girded and armed with an omare, following hard at his back. 
At a bound the man was upon him;—­and, or ever a word was said,
The loaded end of the omare fell and laid him dead.

II.  THE VENGING OF TAMATEA

Thus was Rahero’s treason; thus and no further it sped
The king sat safe in his place and a kindly fool was dead.

But the mother of Tamatea arose with death in her eyes. 
All night long, and the next, Taiarapu rang with her cries. 
As when a babe in the wood turns with a chill of doubt
And perceives nor home, nor friends, for the trees have closed her about,
The mountain rings and her breast is torn with the voice of despair: 
So the lion-like woman idly wearied the air
For awhile, and pierced men’s hearing in vain, and wounded their hearts. 
But as when the weather changes at sea, in dangerous parts,
And sudden the hurricane wrack unrolls up the front of the sky,
At once the ship lies idle, the sails hang silent on high,
The breath of the wind that blew is blown out like the flame of a lamp,
And the silent armies of death draw near with inaudible tramp: 
So sudden, the voice of her weeping ceased; in silence she rose
And passed from the house of her sorrow, a woman clothed with repose,
Carrying death in her breast and sharpening death with her hand.

Hither she went and thither in all the coasts of the land. 
They tell that she feared not to slumber alone, in the dead of night,
In accursed places; beheld, unblenched, the ribbon of light {1i}
Spin from temple to temple; guided the perilous skiff,
Abhorred not the paths of the mountain and trod the verge of the cliff;
From end to end of the island, thought not the distance long,
But forth from king to king carried the tale of her wrong. 
To king after king, as they sat in the palace door, she came,
Claiming kinship, declaiming verses, naming her name
And the names of all of her fathers; and still, with a heart on the rack,
Jested to capture a hearing and laughed when they jested back: 
So would deceive them awhile, and change and return in a breath,
And on all the men of Vaiau imprecate instant death;
And tempt her kings—­for Vaiau was a rich and prosperous land,
And flatter—­for who would attempt it but warriors mighty of hand? 
And change in a breath again and rise in a strain of song,
Invoking the beaten drums, beholding the fall of the strong,
Calling the fowls of the air to come and feast on the dead. 
And they held the chin in silence, and heard her, and shook the head;
For they knew the men of Taiarapu famous in battle and feast,
Marvellous eaters and smiters:  the men of Vaiau not least.

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Project Gutenberg
Ballads from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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