Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

VI.

Warrior, what of the night? –

Whether it be not or be

Night is as one thing to me.
I for one, at the least,
Ask not of dews if they blight,

Ask not of flames if they slay,
Ask not of prince or of priest

How long ere we put them away.

VII.

Master, what of the night ?

Child, night is not at all

Anywhere, fallen or to fall, Save in our star-stricken eyes. Forth of our eyes it takes flight,

Look we but once nor before Nor behind us, but straight on the skies;

Night is not then any more.

VIII.

Exile, what of the night ?

The tides and the hours run out,

The seasons of death and of doubt,
The night-watches bitter and sore.
In the quicksands leftward and right

My feet sink down under me;
But I know the scents of the shore

And the broad-blown breaths of the sea.

IX.

Captives, what of the night?

It rains outside overhead,

Always, a rain that is red,
And our faces are soiled with the rain.
Here, in the seasons' despite,

Day-time and night-time are one,
Till the curse of the kings and the chain
Break, and their toils be undone.

X.
Christian, what of the night? -

I cannot tell ; I am blind,

I halt and hearken behind.
If haply the hours will go back
And return to the dear dead light,

To the watch-fires and stars that of old Shone where the sky now is black,

Glowed where the earth now is cold.

XI.

High-priest, what of the night? –

The night is horrible here

With haggard faces and fear, Blood, and the burning of fire. Mine eyes are emptied of sight,

Mine hands are full of the dust, If the God of my faith be a liar,

Who is it that I shall trust ?

XII.

Princes, what of the night?

Night with pestilent breath

Feeds us, children of death, Clothes close with her gloom. Rapine and famine and fright

Crouch at our feet and are fed ; Earth where we pass is a tomb,

Life where we triumph is dead.

XIII.

Martyrs, what of the night?

Nay, is it night with you yet?

We, for our part, we forget
What night was, if it were.
The loud red mouths of the fight

Are silent and shut where we are.
In our eyes the tempestuous air

Shines as the face of a star.

XIV.

England, what of the night?

Night is for slumber and sleep,

Warm, no season to weep; Let me alone till the day. Sleep would I still if I might,

Who have slept for two hundred years. Once I had honor, they say ;

But slumber is sweeter than tears.

XV.

France, what of the night ?

Night is the prostitute's noon,

Kissed and drugged till she swoon,
Spat upon, trod upon, whored.
With blood-red rose-garlands dight,

Round me reels in the dance
Death, my savior, my lord,

Crowned; there is no more France.

XVI.

Italy, what of the night?

Ah, child, child, it is long ! Moonbeam and starbeam and song Leave it dumb now and dark. Yet I perceive on the height

Lastward, not now very far, A song too loud for the lark,

A light too strong for a star.

XVII.

Germany, what of the night?

Long has it lulled me with creams;

Now at midwatch, as it seems, Light is brought back to mine eyes, And the mastery of old and the might

Lives in the joints of mine hands, Steadies my limbs as they rise,

Strengthens my foot as it stands.

XVIII.

Europe, what of the night ? –

Ask of heaven, and the sea,

And my babes on the bosom of me, Nations of mine, but ungrown. There is one who shall surely requite

All that endure or that err : She can answer alone ;

Ask not of me, but of her.

XIX.
Liberty, what of the night?---

I feel not the red rains fall,

Hear not the tempest at all, Nor thunder in heaven any more. All the distance is white

With the soundless feet of the sun. Night, with the woes that it wore,

Night is over and done.

A DAY AT A CONSULATE.

An :

ble Mirza's Hill, where human life, pendence, no matter how remote, he in its various phases, with its sharps calls for aid upon the United States and flats, its tragedy and comedy, Consul. If one of his countrywomen passes in continuous though informal contemplates marriage, she consults the review. Lexically it is a commercial consular oracle. If she is married and agency, but practically it is that and a wishes she were not, or if she is not great deal more; in an accommodated married when in all conscience she sense, it is a police station, a criminal ought to be, she confides the terrible court, despatch agency, bank of depos- secret to the consul. If a male child it, reading-room, post-office, - in fine, is born of American parentage, the a general depository, or sort of omni- consul is forthwith notified of the hapana, where from time to time you may py event, and thereupon issues a cerfind everything, from a love-letter to a tificate of United States citizenship. Saratoga trunk, or from a sailor's tar- Should one of his countrymen conclude pauling to a lady's trousseau.

that “it is not good for man to be So, too, a consul is supposed to be alone,” the consul may solemnize the a commercial agent; but in fact, and of rites of matrimony; or, should he die necessity, he is everything by turns, intestate, the latter becomes, by virtue and nothing long. What with deben- of his office, the executor or administratures, invoices, protests, legalizations, tor of his personal estate. and the rest of that category, his official I should have considered the foreduties are sufficiently numerous, and going an exaggerated statement of the often perplexing ; but his unofficial ser- case, if I had not recently had occasion vices, which never figure in the de- to pass a day at one of the principal spatches, are still more multiform and Italian consulates, of which I propose multiplied. He conducts trials, in to furnish a brief record from notes which he is at once advocate, judge, taken upon the spot. Having ordered and jury. He draws up a legal in- a small box of sundries sent to my strument as a notary, signs it as a wit- address by steamer from Marseilles, ness, and legalizes it as a consul. Now I called at the consulate to ascertain he is engaged in the humble vocation its whereabouts and to inquire for letof an interpreter, or valet de place, and, ters. Antonio, the messenger, soon presto! he is discharging the functions arrived with the mail. By way of paof a minister extraordinary. Now he renthesis we may say, that Antonio is is looking after the stray baggage of a fixture of the office, having been consome unfortunate tourist, and anon he nected with it for the last twenty years. is deciding cases involving, not only the He speaks four or five different lanproperty and personal liberty, but even guages, and yet is in blissful ignorance the lives, of his countrymen.

of his own age and surname. He Then, too, as the recognized agent of knows that everybody calls him AntoUncle Sam, — that benevolent old gen- nio, and that's all he knows about tleman, with a great, capacious pocket it. He is slightly at fault sometimes full of double-eagles, - he is regarded with his languages, as he exclaimed, on as a sort of special providence to coming into the office, and glancing at the whole tribe of improvident scape- the stove to see if it were drawing well, graces. If some peripatetic vagabond, “The stufa pulls fust-rate." or seedy nobleman, or political refugee, This struck me as being rather exis out of funds, and minus credit, espe. traordinary, as one of the peculiarities of cially if he can lay claim to a nationality an Italian fireplace is, as Dickens has

« PreviousContinue »