Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

At last one night they came. I knew Ere yet the boat had touched the land That all was lost: they were so few I near could count them on one hand; But he, the leader, led no more. The proud chief still disdained to fly, But, like one wrecked, clung to the shore, And struggled on, and struggling fell From power to a prison cell, And only left that cell to die.

[blocks in formation]

My recollection, like a ghost,
Goes from this sea to that seaside,
Goes and returns as turns the tide,
Then turns again unto the coast.
I know not which I mourn the most,
My brother or my virgin bride,
My chief or my unwedded wife.
The one was as the lordly sun,
To joy in, bask in, and admire;
The peaceful moon was as the one,
To love, to look to, and desire;
And both a part of my young life.

*

Years after, sheltered from the sun Beneath a Sacramento bay, A black Muchacho 1 by me lay Along the long grass crisp and dun, His brown mule browsing by his side, And told with all a peon's pride How he once fought, how long and well,

1 Youth (Spanish).

Broad breast to breast, red hand to hand,
Against a foe for his fair land,
And how the fierce invader fell;
And artless told me how he died.

To die with hand and brow unbound He gave his gems and jeweled sword; ; Thus at the last the warrior found Some freedom for his steel's reward. He walked out from the prison wall Dressed like a prince for a parade, And made no note of man or maid, But gazed out calmly over all; Then looked afar, half paused, and then Above the mottled sea of men He kissed his thin hand to the sun; Then smiled so proudly none had known But he was stepping to a throne, Yet took no note of anyone. A nude brown beggar peon child, Encouraged as the captive smiled, Looked up, half scared, half pitying;

, He stooped, he caught it from the sands, Put bright coins in its two brown hands, Then strode on like another king.

Two deep, a musket's length, they stood, Afront, in sandals, nude, and dun As death and darkness wove in one, Their thick lips thirsting for his blood. He took their black hands one by one, And, smiling with a patient grace, Forgave them all and took his place. He bared his broad brow to the sun,

Gave one long last look to the sky,
The white-winged clouds that hurried by,
The olive hills in orange hue;
A last list to the cockatoo
That hung by beak from cocoa-bough
Hard by, and hung and sung as though
He never was to sing again,
Hung all red-crowned and robed in green,
With belts of gold and blue between.-

A bow, a touch of heart, a pall
Of purple smoke, a crash, a thud,
A warrior's raiment rent, and blood,
A face in dust and that was all.

Success had made him more than king; Defeat made him the vilest thing In name, contempt or hate can bring: So much the leaded dice of war Do make or mar of character.

Speak ill who will of him, he died In all disgrace; say of the dead His heart was black, his hands were redSay this much, and be satisfied; Gloat over it all undenied. I only say that he to me, Whatever he to others was, Was truer far than anyone That I have known beneath the sun, Sinner, saint, or Pharisee, As boy or man, for any cause; I simply say he was my friend When strong of hand and fair of fame:

Dead and disgraced, I stand the same
To him, and so shall to the end.

I lay this crude wreath on his dust,
Inwove with sad, sweet memories
Recalled here by these colder seas.
I leave the wild bird with his trust,
To sing and say him nothing wrong;
I wake no rivalry of song.

He lies low in the leveled sand,
Unsheltered from the tropic sun,
And now of all he knew, not one
Will speak him fair in that far land.
Perhaps 'twas this that made me seek,
Disguised, his grave one winter-tide;
A weakness for the weaker side,
A siding with the helpless weak.

A palm not far held out a hand, Hard by a long green bamboo swung And bent like some great bow unstrung, And quivered like a willow wand; Beneath a broad banana's leaf, Perched on its fruits that crooked hang, A bird in rainbow splendor sang A low sad song of tempered grief.

a

No sod, no sign, no cross nor stone, But at his side a cactus green Upheld its lances long and keen; It stood in hot red sands alone, Flat-palmed and fierce with lifted spears; One bloom of crimson crowned its head,

A drop of blood, so bright, so red,
Yet redolent as roses' tears.
In
my

left hand I held a shell,
All rosy lipped and pearly red;
I laid it by his lowly bed,
For he did love so passing well
The grand songs of the solemn sea.
O shell! sing well, wild, with a will,
When storms blow loud and birds be still,
The wildest sea-song known to thee!

I said some things, with folded hands,
Soft whispered in the dim sea-sound,

,
And eyes held humbly to the ground,
And frail knees sunken in the sands.
He had done more than this for me,
And
yet

I could not well do more:
I turned me down the olive shore,
And set a sad face to the sea.

Joaquin Miller

6

SIR PATRICK SPENCE

THE

HE king sits in Dumferling toune,

Drinking the blude-reid wine: “O whar will I get guid sailor,

To sail this schip of mine?”

Up and spak an eldern knicht,

Sat at the kings richt kne:
"Sir Patrick Spence is the best sailor

That sails upon the se.”

« ÎnapoiContinuați »