In the uncertain hour before the morning Near the ending of interminable night At the recurrent end of the unending After the dark dove with the flickering tongue Had passed below the horizon of his homing While the dead leaves still rattled on like tin Over the asphalt where no other sound was Between three districts whence the smoke arose I met one walking, loitering and hurried As if blown towards me like the metal leaves Before the urban dawn wind unresisting. And as I fixed upon the down-turned face That pointed scrutiny with which we challenge The first-met stranger in the waning dusk I caught the sudden look of some dead master Whom I had known, forgotten, half recalled Both one and many; in the brown baked features The eyes of a familiar compound ghost Both intimate and unidentifiable. So I assumed a double part, and cried And heard another's voice cry: "What! are you here?" Although we were not. I was still the same, Knowing myself yet being someone other-- And he a face still forming; yet the words sufficed To compel the recognition they preceded. And so, compliant to the common wind, Too strange to each other for misunderstanding, In concord at this intersection time Of meeting nowhere, no before and after, We trod the pavement in a dead patrol. I said: "The wonder that I feel is easy, Yet ease is cause of wonder. Therefore speak: I may not comprehend, may not remember." And he: "I am not eager to rehearse My thoughts and theory which you have forgotten. These things have served their purpose: let them be. So with your own, and pray they be forgiven By others, as I pray you to forgive Both bad and good. Last season's fruit is eaten And the fullfed beast shall kick the empty pail. For last year's words belong to last year's language And next year's words await another voice. But, as the passage now presents no hindrance To the spirit unappeased and peregrine Between two worlds become much like each other, So I find words I never thought to speak In streets I never thought I should revisit When I left my body on a distant shore. Since our concern was speech, and speech impelled us To purify the dialect of the tribe And urge the mind to aftersight and foresight, Let me disclose the gifts reserved for age To set a crown upon your lifetime's effort. First, the cold fricton of expiring sense Without enchantment, offering no promise But bitter tastelessness of shadow fruit As body and sould begin to fall asunder. Second, the conscious impotence of rage At human folly, and the laceration Of laughter at what ceases to amuse. And last, the rending pain of re-enactment Of all that you have done, and been; the shame Of things ill done and done to others' harm Which once you took for exercise of virtue. Then fools' approval stings, and honour stains. From wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit Proceeds, unless restored by that refining fire Where you must move in measure, like a dancer." The day was breaking. In the disfigured street He left me, with a kind of valediction, And faded on the blowing of the horn.
In-doors, warm by the wide-mouthed fireplace, idly the farmerSat in his elbow-chair, and watched how the flames and the smoke-wreathsStruggled together like foes in a burning city. Behind him,Nodding and mocking along the wall, with gestures fantastic,Darted his own huge shadow, and vanished away into darkness.Faces, clumsily carved in oak, on the back of his arm-chairLaughed in the flickering light, and the pewter plates on the dresserCaught and reflected the flame, as shields of armies the sunshine.Fragments of song the old man sang, and carols of Christmas,Such as at home, in the olden time, his fathers before himSang in their Norman orchards and bright Burgundian vineyards.Close at her father's side was the gentle Evangeline seated,Spinning flax for the loom, that stood in the corner behind her.Silent awhile were its treadles, at rest was its diligent shuttle,While the monotonous drone of the wheel, like the drone of a bagpipe,Followed the old man's songs and united the fragments together.As in a church, when the chant of the choir at intervals ceases,Footfalls are heard in the aisles, or words of the priest at the altar,So, in each pause of the song, with measured motion the clock clicked.
Thus ere another noon they emerged from the shades; and before themLay, in the golden sun, the lakes of the Atchafalaya.Water-lilies in myriads rocked on the slight undulationsMade by the passing oars, and, resplendent in beauty, the lotusLifted her golden crown above the heads of the boatmen.Faint was the air with the odorous breath of magnolia blossoms,And with the heat of noon; and numberless sylvan islands,Fragrant and thickly embowered with blossoming hedges of roses,Near to whose shores they glided along, invited to slumber.Soon by the fairest of these their weary oars were suspended.Under the boughs of Wachita willows, that grew by the margin,Safely their boat was moored; and scattered about on the greensward,Tired with their midnight toil, the weary travellers slumbered.Over them vast and high extended the cope of a cedar.Swinging from its great arms, the trumpet-flower and the grapevineHung their ladder of ropes aloft like the ladder of Jacob,On whose pendulous stairs the angels ascending, descending,Were the swift humming-birds, that flitted from blossom to blossom.Such was the vision Evangeline saw as she slumbered beneath it.Filled was her heart with love, and the dawn of an opening heavenLighted her soul in sleep with the glory of regions celestial.
Bright rose the sun next day; and all the flowers of the gardenBathed his shining feet with their tears, and anointed his tressesWith the delicious balm that they bore in their vases of crystal."Farewell!" said the priest, as he stood at the shadowy threshold;"See that you bring us the Prodigal Son from his fasting and famine,And, too, the Foolish Virgin, who slept when the bridegroom was coming.""Farewell!" answered the maiden, and, smiling, with Basil descendedDown to the river's brink, where the boatmen already were waiting.Thus beginning their journey with morning, and sunshine, and gladness,Swiftly they followed the flight of him who was speeding before them,Blown by the blast of fate like a dead leaf over the desert.Not that day, nor the next, nor yet the day that succeeded,Found they trace of his course, in lake or forest or river,Nor, after many days, had they found him; but vague and uncertainRumors alone were their guides through a wild and desolate Country;Till, at the little inn of the Spanish town of Adayes,Weary and worn, they alighted, and learned from the garrulous landlord,That on the day before, with horses and guides and companions,Gabriel left the village, and took the road of the prairies. 2b1af7f3a8