Fragmentary Scenes From The Road To Avernus Poem Rhyme Scheme and Analysis


Scene IA
I said to young Allan M'IlverayE
Beside the swift swirls of the NorthF
When in lilac shot through with a silver rayE
We haul'd the strong salmon fish forthF
Said only 'He gave us some troubleG
To land him and what does he weighE
Our friend has caught one that weighs doubleG
The game for the candle won't payE
Us to dayE
We may tie up our rods and away '-
I said to old Norman M'GregorE
Three leagues to the west of Glen DhuH
I had drawn with a touch of the triggerE
The best BEAD that ever I drewE
Said merely 'For birds in the stubbleG
I once had an eye I could swearE
He's down but he's not worth the troubleG
Of seeking You once shot a bearE
In his lairE
'Tis only a buck that lies there '-
I said to Lord Charles only last yearE
The time that we topp'd the oak railI
Between Wharton's plough and Whynne's pastureE
And clear'd the big brook in BlakesvaleI
We only at Warburton's doubleI
He fell then I finish'd the runJ
And kill'd clean said 'So bursts a bubbleI
That shone half an hour in the sunJ
What is wonJ
Your sire clear'd and captured a gun '-
I said to myself in true sorrowE
I said yestere'en 'A fair prizeK
Is won and it may be to morrowE
'Twill not seem so fair in thine eyesK
Real life is a race through sore troubleI
That gains not an inch on the goalI
And bliss an intangible bubbleI
That cheats an unsatisfied soulI
And the wholeI
Of the rest an illegible scroll '-
Scene VIIE
'Two Exhortations'K
A Shooting box in the West of Ireland A BedchamberE
Surely in the great beginning God made all things good and stillI
That soul sickness men call sinning entered not without His willI
Nay our wisest have asserted that as shade enhances lightB
Evil is but good perverted wrong is but the foil of rightB
Banish sickness then you banish joy for health to all that liveE
Slay all sin all good must vanish good being but comparativeE
Sophistry you say yet listen look you skyward there 'tis knownL
Worlds on worlds in myriads glisten larger lovelier than our ownL
This has been and this still shall be here as there in sun or starE
These things are to be and will be those things were to be and areE
Man in man's imperfect nature is by imperfection taughtB
Add one cubit to your stature if you can by taking thoughtB
Thus you would not teach that peasant though he calls you 'father'E
Melchior TrueE
I should magnify this present mystify that future tooE
We adapt our conversation always to our hearer's lightB
I am not of your persuasionJ
Melchior Yet the difference is but slightB
I EVEN I say 'He who barters worldly weal for heavenly worthM
He does well' your saints and martyrs were examples here on earthM
Aye in earlier Christian ages while the heathen empire stoodB
When the war 'twixt saints and sages cried aloud for saintly bloodB
Christ was then their model truly Now if all were meek and pureE
Save the ungodly and the unruly would the Christian Church endureE
Shall the toiler or the fighter dream by day and watch by nightB
Turn the left cheek to the smiter smitten rudely on the rightB
Strong men must encounter bad men so called saints of latter daysK
Have been mostly pious madmen lusting after righteous praiseK
Or the thralls of superstition doubtless worthy some rewardB
Since they came by their condition hardly of their free accordB
'Tis but madness sad and solemn that these fakir Christians feelI
Saint Stylites on his column gratified a morbid zealI
By your showing good is really on a par of worth with illI
Nay I said not so I merely tell you both some ends fulfilI
Priestly vows were my vocation fast and vigil wait for meC
You must work and face temptation Never should the strong man fleeC
Though God wills the inclination with the soul at war to be PausesK
In the strife 'twixt flesh and spirit while you can the spirit aidB
Should you fall not less your merit be not for a fall afraidB
Whatsoe'er most right most fit is you shall do When all is doneJ
Chaunt the noble Nunc Dimittis Benedicimur my sonJ
Laurence aloneL
Why do I provoke these wrangles Melchior talks as well he mayE
With the tongues of men and angelsK
Takes up a pamphlet What has this man got to sayE
Reads Sic sacerdos fatur ejus nomen quondam erat BurgoE
Mala mens est caro pejus anima infirma ergoE
I nunc ora sine mora orat etiam Sancta VirgoE
Speaks So it seems they mean to make her wed the usurer Nathan LeeC
Poor Estelle her friends forsake her what has this to do with meC
Glad I am at least that Helen still refuses to discardB
Her through tales false gossips tellI
in spite or heedlessness 'Tis hardB
Lee the Levite some few years back Herbert horsewhipp'd him the curE
Show'd his teeth and laid his ears back Now his wealth has purchased herE
Must his baseness mar her brightness Shall the callous cunning churlI
Revel in the rosy whiteness of that golden headed girlI
Thinks and smokesK
Reads Cito certe venit vitae finis sic sacerdos faturE
Nunc audite omnes ite vobis fabula narraturE
Nunc orate et laudate laudat etiam Alma MaterE
Muses Such has been and such shall still beC
here as there in sun or starE
These things are to be and will be those things were to be and areE
If I thought that speech worth heeding I should Nay it seems to meC
More like Satan's special pleading than like Gloria DomineC
Lies down on his couchN
Reads Et tuquoque frater meus facta mala quod fecistiB
Denique confundit Deus omnes res quas tetegistiB
Nunc si unquam nunc aut nunquam sanguine adjuro ChristiB
Scene IXK
'In the Garden'C
Aylmer's Garden near the Lake LAURENCE RABY and ESTELLEI
Come to the bank where the boat is moor'd to the willow tree lowI
Bertha the baby won't notice Brian the blockhead won't knowI
Bertha is not such a baby sir as you seem to supposeK
Brian a blockhead he may be more than you think for he knowsK
This much at least of your brother from the beginning he knewC
Somewhat concerning that other made such a fool of by youC
Firmer those bonds were and faster Frank was my spaniel my slaveE
You you would fain be my master mark you the difference is graveE
Call me your spaniel your starling take me and treat me as theseK
I would be anything darling aye whatsoever you pleaseK
Brian and Basil are 'punting' leave them their dice and their wineC
Bertha is butterfly hunting surely one hour shall be mineC
See I have done with all duty see I can dare all disgraceK
Only to look at your beauty feasting my eyes on your faceK
Look at me aye till your eyes ache How let me ask will it endB
Neither for your sake nor my sake but for the sake of my friendB
Is she your friend then I own it this is all wrong and the restB
Frustra sed anima monet caro quod fortius estB
Not quite so close Laurence Raby not with your arm round my waistB
Something to look at I may be nothing to touch or to tasteB
Wilful as ever and wayward why did you tempt me EstelleI
You misinterpret each stray word you for each inch take an ellI
Lightly all laws and ties trammel me I am warn'd for all thatB
He asideB
Perhaps she will swallow her camel when she has strained at her gnatB
Therefore take thought and consider weigh well as I do the wholeI
You for mere beauty a bidder say would you barter a soulI
Girl THAT MAY happen but THIS IS after this welcome the worstB
Blest for one hour by your kisses let me be evermore curs'dB
Talk not of ties to me reckless here every tie I discardB
Make me your girdle your necklaceK
She Laurence you kiss me too hardB
Aye 'tis the road tB

Adam Lindsay Gordon


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