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One stiff blind horse, his every bone a-stare,
Thrust out past service from the Devil's stud!
Alive? he might be dead for aught I know,
With that red gaunt and colloped neck a-strain,
And shut eyes underneath the rusty mane; Seldom went such grotesqueness with such woe; I never saw a brute I hated so;
He must be wicked to deserve such pain.
I shut my eyes and turned them on my heart.
As a man calls for wine before he fights,
I asked one draught of earlier, happier sights,
One taste of the old time sets all to rights.
Not it! I fancied Cuthbert's reddening face
Beneath its garniture of curly gold,
Dear fellow, till I almost felt him fold
Out went my heart's new fire and left it cold.
Giles then, the soul of honor—there he stands
Frank as ten years ago when knighted first.
What honest man should dare (he said), he durst. Good-but the scene shifts-faugh! what hangman hands Pin to his breast a parchment? His own bands
Read it. Poor traitor, spit upon and curst !
Better this present than a past like that;
Back therefore to my darkening path again!
No sound, no sight as far as eye could strain.
Came to arrest my thoughts and change their train.
A sudden little river crossed my path
As unexpected as a serpent comes.
No sluggish tide congenial to the glooms; This, as it frothed by, might have been a bath For the fiend's glowing hoof—to see the wrath
Of its black eddy bespate with flakes and spumes.
Low scrubby alders kneeled down over it;
Drenched willows flung them headlong in a fit Of mute despair, a suicidal throng: The river which had done them all the wrong,
Whate'er that was, rolled by, deterred no whit.
Which, while I forded,—good saints, how I feared
To set my foot upon a dead man's cheek,
Each step, or feel the spear I thrust to seek
But, ugh! it sounded like a baby's shriek.
Now for a better country. Vain presage !
Whose savage trample thus could pad the dank
Or wild cats in a red-hot iron cage
The fight must so have seemed in that fell cirque.
What penned them there, with all the plain to choose ?
No footprint leading to that horrid mews,
Pits for his pastime, Christians against Jews.
And more than that—a furlong on—why, there !
What bad use was that engine for that wheel,
Or brake, not wheel—that harrow fit to reel
Or brought to sharpen its rusty teeth of steel.
Then came a bit of stubbed ground, once a wood,
Next a marsh, it would seem, and now mere earth
Desperate and done with; (so a fool finds mirth, Makes a thing and then mars it, till his mood Changes and off he goes !); within a rood
Bog, clay, and rubble, sand and stark black dearth.
Now blotches rankling, colored gay and grim,
Now patches where some leanness of the soil's
Broke into moss or substances like boils; Then came some palsied oak, a cleft in him Like a distorted mouth that splits its rim
Gaping at death, and dies while it recoils.
Naught in the distance but the evening, naught
To point my footstep further! At the thought A great black bird, Apollyon's bosom friend, Sailed past, nor beat his wide wing dragon-penned
That brushed my cap-perchance the guide I sought.
'Spite of the dusk, the plain had given place
All round to mountains—with such name to grace Mere ugly heights and heaps now stolen in view. How thus they had surprised me,-solve it, you !
How to get from them was no clearer case.
Yet half I seemed to recognize some trick
Of mischief happened to me, God knows when
In a bad dream, perhaps. Here ended, then,
As when a trap shuts—you're inside the den.
Burningly it came on me all at once,
This was the place! those two hills on the right
Crouched like two bulls locked horn in horn in fight; While to the left a tall scalped mountain . . . Dunce, Dotard, a-dozing at the very nonce,
After a life spent training for the sight!
The round, squat turret, blind as the fool's heart,
In the whole world. The tempest's mocking elf
He strikes on, only when the timbers start.
Came back again for that! before it left,
The dying sunset kindled through a cleft:
“ Now stab and end the creature—to the heft!”
Not hear? when noise was everywhere! it tolled
Increasing like a bell. Names in my ears
Of all the lost adventurers my peers,-
Lost, lost ! one moment knelled the woe of years.
To view the last of me, a living frame
For one more picture! In a sheet of flame
And blew “ Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came."
THE VOYAGE OF MAELDUNE.
BY ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON.
I was the chief of the race he had stricken my father deadBut I gather'd my fellows together, I swore I would strike
off his head.