Fragmentary Scenes From The Road To Avernus - An Unpublished Dramatic Lyric Poem Rhyme Scheme and Analysis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 awayE
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 thereE
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 gunJ
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 scrollI
Scene VIIE
Two ExhortationsL
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 lightM
Evil is but good perverted wrong is but the foil of rightM
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 knownN
Worlds on worlds in myriads glisten larger lovelier than our ownN
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 taughtO
Add one cubit to your stature if you can by taking thoughtO
Thus you would not teach that peasant though he calls you fatherE
True I should magnify this present mystify that future tooE
We adapt our conversation always to our hearer's lightM
I am not of your persuasionJ
Yet the difference is but slightM
I even I say He who barters worldly weal for heavenly worthP
He does well your saints and martyrs were examples here on earthP
Aye in earlier Christian ages while the heathen empire stoodQ
When the war 'twixt saints and sages cried aloud for saintly bloodR
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 nightM
Turn the left cheek to the smiter smitten rudely on the rightM
Strong men must encounter bad men so called saints of latter daysS
Have been mostly pious madmen lusting after righteous praiseS
Or the thralls of superstition doubtless worthy some rewardT
Since they came by their condition hardly of their free accordT
'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 PausesU
In the strife 'twixt flesh and spirit while you can the spirit aidV
Should you fall not less your merit be not for a fall afraidV
Whatsoe'er most right most fit is you shall do When all is doneJ
Chaunt the noble Nunc Dimittis Benedicimur my sonJ
Laurence aloneN
Why do I provoke these wrangles Melchior talks as well he mayE
With the tongues of men and angelsW
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 discardY
Her through tales false gossips tell in spite or heedlessness 'Tis hardY
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 churlC
Revel in the rosy whiteness of that golden headed girlC
Thinks and smokesZ
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 be 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 couchA2
Reads Et tuquoque frater meus facta mala quod fecistiY
Denique confundit Deus omnes res quas tetegistiY
Nunc si unquam nunc aut nunquam sanguine adjuro ChristiY
Scene IXZ
In the GardenJ
Aylmer's Garden near the Lake LAURENCE RABY and ESTELLEC
Come to the bank where the boat is moor'd to the willow tree lowC
Bertha the baby won't notice Brian the blockhead won't knowC
Bertha is not such a baby sir as you seem to supposeZ
Brian a blockhead he may be more than you think for he knowsZ
This much at least of your brother from the beginning he knewE
Somewhat concerning that other made such a fool of by youE
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 theseZ
I would be anything darling aye whatsoever you pleaseZ
Brian and Basil are punting leave them their dice and their wineB2
Bertha is butterfly hunting surely one hour shall be mineB2
See I have done with all duty see I can dare all disgraceZ
Only to look at your beauty feasting my eyes on your faceZ
Look at me aye till your eyes ache How let me ask will it endY
Neither for your sake nor my sake but for the sake of my friendY
Is she your friend then I own it this is all wrong and the restY
Frustra sed anima monet caro quod fortius estY
Not quite so close Laurence Raby not with your arm round my waistY
Something to look at I may be nothing to touch or to tasteY
Wilful as ever and wayward why did you tempt me EstelleC
You misinterpret each stray word you for each inch take an ellC
Lightly all laws and ties trammel me I am warn'd for all thatY
He asideY
Perhaps she will swallow her camel when she has strained at her gnatY
Therefore take thought and consider weigh well as I do the wholeC
You for mere beauty a bidder say would you barter a soulC
Girl That may happen but this is after this welcome the worstY
Blest for one hour by your kisses let me be evermore curs'dY
Talk not of ties to me reckless here every tie I discardY
Make me your girdle your necklaceZ
Laurence you kiss me too hardY
Aye 'Tis the road to Avernus n'est ce pas vrai donc ma belleC
There let them bind us or burn us mais le jeu vaut la chandelleC
Am I your lord or your vassal Are you my sun or my torchC2
You when I look at you dazzle yet when I touch you you scorchC2
Yonder are Brian and Basil watching us fools from the porchC2
Scene XZ
After the QuarrelC
Laurence Raby's Chamber LAURENCE enters a little the worse for liquorE
He never gave me a chance to speakD2
And he call'd her worse than a dogE2
The girl stood up with a crimson cheekD2
And I fell'd him there like a logE2
I can feel the blow on my knuckles yetY
He feels it more on his browE
In a thousand years we shall all forgetY
The things that trouble us nowE
Scene XIY
Ten Paces OffE
An open countryY
I've won the two tosses from PrescotY
Now hear me and hearken and heedY
And pull that vile flower from your waistcoatY
And throw down that beast of a weedY
I'm going to give you the signalC
I gave Harry Hunt at BoulogneE
The morning he met Major BignellC
And shot him as dead as a stoneE
For he must look round on his right handY
To watch the white flutter that stopsZ
His aim for it takes off his sight andY
I cough while the handkerchief dropsZ
And you keep both eyes on his figureE
Old fellow and don't take them offE
You've got the sawhandled hair triggerE
You sight him and shoot when I coughE
Laurence asideY
Though God will never forgive meY
Though men make light of my nameF2
Though my sin and my shame outlive meY
I shall not outlast my shameF2
The coward does he mean to miss meY
His right hand shakes like a leafE
Shall I live for my friends to hiss meY
Of fools and of knaves the chiefE
Shall I live for my foes to twit meY
He has master'd his nerve againE
He is firm he will surely hit meY
Will he reach the heart or the brainE
One long look eastward and northwardY
One prayer Our Father which artY
And the cough chimes in with the fourth wordY
And I shoot skyward the heartY
Last SceneE
Where the grave deeps rot where the grave dews rustY
They dug crying Earth to earthP
Crying Ashes to ashes and dust to dustY
And what are my poor prayers worthP
Upon whom shall I call or in whom shall I trustY
Though death were indeed new birthP
And they bid me be glad for my baby's sakeG2
That she suffered sinless and youngH2
Would they have me be glad when my breasts still acheG2
Where that small soft sweet mouth clungH2
I am glad that the heart will so surely breakG2
That has been so bitterly wrungH2
He was false they tell me and what if he wereE
I can only shudder and prayE
Pouring out my soul in a passionate prayerE
For the soul that he cast awayE
Was there nothing that once was created fairE
In the potter's perishing clayE
Is it well for the sinner that souls endureE
For the sinless soul is it wellC
Does the pure child lisp to the angels pureE
And where does the strong man dwellC
If the sad assurance of priests be sureE
Or the tale that our preachers tellC
The unclean has follow'd the undefiledY
And the ill may regain the goodY
And the man may be even as the little childY
We are children lost in the woodY
Lord lead us out of this tangled wildY
Where the wise and the prudent have been beguil'dY
And only the babes have stoodY

Adam Lindsay Gordon


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