No one heeds him, the crowds pass on.
Why does he want to live?
“Take this florin, and get you gone,
Go and get drunk,—and forgive!”
Deep in the jungle vast and dim,
That knew not a white man’s feet,
I smelt the odour of sun-warmed fur,
Musky, savage, and sweet.
Far it was from the huts of men
And the grass where Sambur feed;
I threw a stone at a Kadapu tree
That bled as a man might bleed.
Scent of fur and colour of blood:—
And the long dead instincts rose,
I followed the lure of my season’s mate,—
And flew, bare-fanged, at my foes.
* * *
Pale days: and a league of laws
Made by the whims of men.
Would I were back with my furry cubs
In the dusk of a jungle den.
The sins of Youth are hardly sins,
So frank they are and free.
’T is but when Middle-age begins
We need morality.
Ah, pause and weigh this bitter truth:
That Middle-age, grown cold,
No comprehension has of Youth,
No pity for the Old.
Youth, with his half-divine mistakes,
She never can forgive,
So much she hates his charm which makes
Worth while the life we live.
She scorns Old Age, whose tolerance
And calm, well-balanced mind
(Knowing how crime is born of chance)
Can pardon all mankind.
Yet she, alas! has all the power
Of strength and place and gold,
Man’s every act, through every hour,
Is by her laws controlled.
All things she grasps with sordid hands
And weighs in tarnished scales.
She neither feels, nor understands,
And yet her will prevails!
Cold-blooded vice and careful sin,
Gold-lust, blind selfishness,—
The shortest, cheapest way to win
Some, worse than cheap, success.
Such are her attributes and aims,
Yet meekly we obey,
While she to guide and order claims
All issues of the day.
You seek for honour, friendship, truth?
Let Middle-age be banned!
Go, for warm-hearted acts, to Youth;
To Age,—to understand!
Ah, the cool silence of the shaded hours,
The scent and colour of the jungle flowers!
Thou art one of the jungle flowers, strange and fierce
Palest amber, perfect lines, and scented with champa flower.
Lie back and frame thy face in the gloom of thy loosened hair;
Sweet thou art and loved—ay, loved—for an hour.
But thought flies far, ah, far, to another breast,
Whose whiteness breaks to the rose of a twin pink flower,
Where wind the azure veins that my lips caressed
When Fate was gentle to me for a too-brief hour.