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The torrents, dash'd to the vale : and yet her will

Bred will in me to overcome it or fall.

But when I told the king that I was pledged

To fight in tourney for my bride, he clash'd

His iron palms together with a cry;

Himself would tilt it out among the lads :

But overborne by all his bearded lords
With reasons drawn from age and state, perforce
He yielded, wroth and red, with fierce demur :

And many a bold knight started up in heat,
And sware to combat for my claim till death.

All on this side the palace ran the field Flat to the garden-wall : and likewise here,

Above the garden's glowing blossom-belts,

A column's entry shone and marbled stairs,
And great bronze valves, emboss'd with Tomyris
And what she did to Cyrus after fight,
But now fast barr'd: so here upon the flat

All that long morn the lists were hammer'd up,

And all that morn the heralds to and fro,

With message

and defiance went and came ;

Last, Ida's answer, in a royal hand,
But shaken here and there, and rolling words

Oration-like. I kiss'd it and I read.

• O brother, you have known the pangs we felt, What heats of indignation when we heard Of those that iron-cramp'd their women's feet ;

Of lands in which at the altar the



Gives her harsh groom for bridal-gift a scourge ;

Of living hearts that crack within the fire

Where smoulder their dead despots ; and of those,-
Mothers,—that, all prophetic pity, fling
Their pretty maids in the running flood, and swoops

The vulture, beak and talon, at the heart

Made for all noble motion : and I saw

That equal baseness lived in sleeker times

With smoother men : the old leaven leaven'd all :

Millions of throats would bawl for civil rights,

No woman named : therefore I set my face
Against all men and lived but for mine own.

Far off from men I built a fold for them :

I stored it full of rich memorial :

I fenced it round with gallant institutes,

And biting laws to scare the beasts of prey,

And prosper'd ; till a rout of saucy boys
Brake on us at our books, and marr’d our peace,

Mask'd like our maids, blustering I know not what
Of insolence and love, some pretext held
Of baby troth, invalid, since my will
Seal'd not the bond—the striplings !—for their sport !-

I tamed my leopards : shall I not tame these?

? or I ? for since


think me touch'd

In honour-what, I would not aught of false

Is not our cause pure ? and whereas I know
Your prowess, Arac, and what mother's blood

You draw from, fight ; you failing, I abide

What end soever : but you will not. Still


Take not his life : he risk'd it for my own;

His mother lives : yet whatsoe'er you do,

Fight and fight well ; strike and strike home.

O dear

Brothers, the woman's Angel guards you, you
The sole men to be mingled with our cause,

The sole men we shall prize in the after-time,

very armour hallow'd, and



Rear’d, sung to, when this gad-fly brush'd aside,
We plant a solid foot into the Time,

And mould a generation strong to move
With claim on claim from right to right, till she
(The woman-1

n-phantom, she that seem'd no more Than the man's shadow in a glass, her name Yoked in his mouth with children's) know herself,

And knowledge in our own land make her free,
And, ever following those two crowned twins,

Commerce and conquest, shower the fiery grain

Of Freedom broadcast over all that orbs

Between the Northern and the Southern morn.'

Then came a postscript dash'd across the rest.

• See that there be no traitors in your camp :

We seem a nest of traitors-none to trust

Since our arms fail'd—this Egypt-plague of men ! Almost our maids were better at their homes,

Than thus man-girdled here: indeed I think

Our chiefest comfort is the little child

Of one unworthy mother ; which she left :

She shall not have it back : the child shall grow

To prize the authentic mother of her mind.

I took it for an hour in mine own bed

This morning : there the tender orphan hands

Felt at my heart, and seem'd to charm from thence

The wrath I nursed against the world : farewell.'

I ceased; he said : Stubborn, but she


sit Upon a king's right hand in thunder-storms

And breed


warriors !

See now, tho' yourself

Be dazzled by the wildfire Love to sloughs
That swallow common sense, the spindling king,

This Gama swamp'd in lazy tolerance.

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