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That bound them in the laws of men
Was passed, and peace
stood mute behind
And streamed a banner to the wind
The world knew not, there was a sign
Of awe, of silence, rear and van.
Men thought who never thought before;
I heard the clang and clash of steel
From sword at hand or spur at heel
And iron feet, but nothing more.
Some thought of Texas, some of Maine,
But more of rugged Tennessee, —
Of scenes in Southern vales of wine,
And scenes in Northern hills of pine
As scenes they might not meet again;
And one of Avon thought, and one
Thought of an isle beneath the sun,
And one of Rowley, one the Rhine,
And one turned sadly to the Spree.
Defeat meant something more than death: The world was ready, keen to smite, As stern and still beneath its ban With iron will and bated breath, Their hands against their fellow-man, They rode-each man an Ishmaelite. But when we struck the hills of pine, These men dismounted, doffed their cares, Talked loud and laughed old love affairs, And on the grass took meat and wine, And never gave a thought again To land or life that lay behind, Or love, or care of any kind Beyond the present cross or pain.
And I, a waif of stormy seas,
A child among such men as these,
Was blown along this savage surf
And rested with them on the turf,
And took delight below the trees.
I did not question, did not care
To know the right or wrong. I saw
freedom had a spell,
And loved it more than I can tell,
And snapped my fingers at the law.
I bear my burden of the shame,-
I shun it not, and naught forget,
However much I may regret:
I claim some candor to my name,
And courage cannot change or die.-
Did they deserve to die? they died.
Let justice then be satisfied,
And as for me, why what am I?
The standing side by side till death, The dying for some wounded friend, The faith that failed not to the end, The strong endurance till the breath And body took their ways apart, I only know, I keep my trust. Their vices! earth has them by heart. Their virtues! they are with their dust.
How wound we through the solid wood, With all its broad boughs hung in green, With lichen-mosses trailed between!
How waked the spotted beasts of prey,
Deep sleeping from the face of day,
And dashed them like a troubled flood
Down some defile and denser wood!
And snakes, long, lithe and beautiful
As green and graceful-boughed bamboo,
Did twist and twine them through and through
The boughs that hung red-fruited full.
One, monster-sized, above me hung,
Close eyed me with his bright pink eyes,
Then raised his folds, and swayed and swung,
And licked like lightning his red tongue,
Then oped his wide mouth with surprise;
He writhed and curved, and raised and lowered
His folds like liftings of the tide,
And sank so low I touched his side,
As I rode by, with my broad sword.
The trees shook hands high overhead,
And bowed and intertwined across
The narrow way, while leaves and moss
And luscious fruit, gold-hued and red,
Through all the canopy of green,
Let not one sunshaft shoot between.
Birds hung and swung, green-robed and red,
Or drooped in curved lines dreamily,
Rainbows reversed, from tree to tree,
Or sang low-hanging overhead
Sang low, as if they sang and slept,
Sang faint, like some far waterfall,
And took no note of us at all,
Though nuts that in the way were spread
Did crush and crackle as we stept.
Wild lilies, tall as maidens are,
As sweet of breath, as pearly fair,
As fair as faith, as pure as truth,
Fell thick before our every tread,
As in a sacrifice to ruth,
And all the air with perfume filled
More sweet than ever man distilled.
The ripened fruit a fragrance shed
And hung in hand-reach overhead,
In nest of blossoms on the shoot,
The bending shoot that bore the fruit.
How ran the monkeys through the leaves! How rushed they through, brown clad and blue, Like shuttles hurried through and through The threads a hasty weaver weaves!
How quick they cast us fruits of gold,
Then loosened hand and all foothold,
And hung limp, limber, as if dead,
Hung low and listless overhead;
And all the time, with half-oped eyes
Bent full on us in mute surprise-
Looked wisely too, as wise hens do
That watch you with the head askew.
The long days through from blossomed trees There came the sweet song of sweet bees, With chorus-tones of cockatoo That slid his beak along the bough, And walked and talked and hung and swung, In crown of gold and coat of blue, The wisest fool that ever sung, Or had a crown, or held a tongue.
Oh, when we broke the somber wood And pierced at last the sunny plain, How wild and still with wonder stood The proud mustangs with bannered mane, And necks that never knew a rein, And nostrils lifted high, and blown, Fierce breathing as a hurricane: Yet by their leader held the while In solid column, square, and file, And ranks more martial than our own!
Some one above the common kind,
Some one to look to, lean upon,
I think is much a woman's mind;
But it was mine, and I had drawn
A rein beside the chief while we
Rode through the forest leisurely;
When he grew kind and questioned me
Of kindred, home, and home affair,
Of how I came to wander there,
And had my father herds and land,
And men in hundreds at command?
At which I silent shook my head,
Then, timid, met his eyes and said,
Down to the North Pacific sea,
And Willamette meets the sun
In many angles, patiently
My father tends his flocks of snow,
And turns alone the mellow sod
And sows some fields not overbroad,
And mourns my long delay in vain,
Nor bids one serve-man come or go;