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Fragmentary Scenes From The Road To Avernus
by [?]


An Unpublished Dramatic Lyric.

Scene I
“Discontent”

LAURENCE RABY.

Laurence:
I said to young Allan M’Ilveray,
Beside the swift swirls of the North,
When, in lilac shot through with a silver ray,
We haul’d the strong salmon fish forth–
Said only, “He gave us some trouble
To land him, and what does he weigh?
Our friend has caught one that weighs double,
The game for the candle won’t pay
Us to-day,
We may tie up our rods and away.”

I said to old Norman M’Gregor,
Three leagues to the west of Glen Dhu–
I had drawn, with a touch of the trigger,
The best BEAD that ever I drew–
Said merely, “For birds in the stubble
I once had an eye–I could swear
He’s down–but he’s not worth the trouble
Of seeking. You once shot a bear
In his lair–
‘Tis only a buck that lies there.”

I said to Lord Charles only last year,
The time that we topp’d the oak rail
Between Wharton’s plough and Whynne’s pasture,
And clear’d the big brook in Blakesvale–
We only–at Warburton’s double
He fell, then I finish’d the run
And kill’d clean–said, “So bursts a bubble
That shone half an hour in the sun–
What is won?
Your sire clear’d and captured a gun.”

I said to myself, in true sorrow,
I said yestere’en, “A fair prize
Is won, and it may be to-morrow
‘Twill not seem so fair in thine eyes–
Real life is a race through sore trouble,
That gains not an inch on the goal,
And bliss an intangible bubble
That cheats an unsatisfied soul,
And the whole
Of the rest an illegible scroll.”

Scene VII
“Two Exhortations”

A Shooting-box in the West of Ireland. A Bedchamber.
LAURENCE RABY and MELCHIOR. Night.

Melchior:
Surely in the great beginning God made all things good, and still
That soul-sickness men call sinning entered not without His will.
Nay, our wisest have asserted that, as shade enhances light,
Evil is but good perverted, wrong is but the foil of right.
Banish sickness, then you banish joy for health to all that live;
Slay all sin, all good must vanish, good being but comparative.
Sophistry, you say–yet listen: look you skyward, there ’tis known
Worlds on worlds in myriads glisten–larger, lovelier than our own–
This has been, and this still shall be, here as there, in sun or star;
These things are to be and will be, those things were to be and are.
Man in man’s imperfect nature is by imperfection taught:
Add one cubit to your stature if you can by taking thought.

Laurence:
Thus you would not teach that peasant, though he calls you “father”.

Melchior: True,
I should magnify this present, mystify that future, too–
We adapt our conversation always to our hearer’s light.

Laurence:
I am not of your persuasion.

Melchior: Yet the difference is but slight.

Laurence:
I, EVEN I, say, “He who barters worldly weal for heavenly worth
He does well”–your saints and martyrs were examples here on earth.

Melchior:
Aye, in earlier Christian ages, while the heathen empire stood,
When the war ‘twixt saints and sages cried aloud for saintly blood,
Christ was then their model truly. Now, if all were meek and pure,
Save the ungodly and the unruly, would the Christian Church endure?
Shall the toiler or the fighter dream by day and watch by night,
Turn the left cheek to the smiter, smitten rudely on the right?
Strong men must encounter bad men–so-called saints of latter days
Have been mostly pious madmen, lusting after righteous praise–
Or the thralls of superstition, doubtless worthy some reward,
Since they came by their condition hardly of their free accord.
‘Tis but madness, sad and solemn, that these fakir-Christians feel–
Saint Stylites on his column gratified a morbid zeal.