So sped three centuries along,
Till Kintu’s sons waxed fierce and strong;
They learned to war, they loved to slay;
Cruel and dark grew all their faces;
Discordant death-cries scared the day,
Blood stained the green and holy places;
And drunk with lust, with anger hot,
His sons mild Kintu heeded not.
At last the god arose in wrath,
His sandals tied, and down the path,
His wife beside him, as of yore,
He went. A cow, a single lamb
They took; one tuber of the yam;
One yellow-podded branch they bore
Of ripe banana,—these, no more,
Of all the heaped-up harvest store.
They left the huts, they left the tent,
Nor turned, nor cast a backward look:
Behind, the thick boughs met and shook.
They vanished. Long with wild lament
Mourned all the tribe, in vain, in vain;
The gift once given was given no more,
The grieved god came not again.
To what far paradise they fared,
That heavenly pair, what wilderness
Their gentle rule next owned and shared,
Knoweth no man,—no man can guess.
On secret roads, by pathways blind,
The gods go forth, and none may find;
But sad the world where God is not!
By man was Kintu soon forgot,
Or named and held as legend dim,
But the wronged earth, remembering him,
By scanty fruit and tardy grain
And silent song revealed her pain.
So centuries came, and centuries went,
And heaped the graves and filled the tent.
Kings rose, and fought their royal way
To conquest over heaps of slain,
And reigned a little. Then, one day,
They vanished into dust again.
And other kings usurped their place,
Who called themselves of Kintu’s race,
And worshipped Kintu; not as he,
The mild, benignant deity,
Who held all life a holy thing,
Be it of insect or of king,
Would have ordained, but with wild rite,
With altars heaped, and dolorous cries,
And savage dance, and bale-fires light,
An unaccepted sacrifice.
At last, when thousand years were flown,
The great Ma-anda filled the throne:
A prince of generous heart and high,
Impetuous, noble, fierce, and true;
His wrath like lightning hurtling by,
His pardon like the healing dew.
And chiefs and sages swore each one
He was great Kintu’s worthiest son.
One night, in forests still and deep,
A shepherd sat to watch his sheep,
And started, as through darkness dim
A strange voice rang and calmed to him:
“Wake! there are wonders waiting thee!
Go where the thick mimosas be,
Fringing a little open plain,
Honor and power wouldest thou gain?
Go, foolish man, to fortune blind;
Follow the stream, and thou shall find.”
Three several nights the voice was heard,
Louder and more emphatic grown.
Then, at the thrice-repeated word,
The shepherd rose and went alone,