The King Of The Vasse Poem Rhyme Scheme and Analysis


MY tale which I have brought is of a timeB
Ere that fair Southern land was stained with crimeB
Brought thitherward in reeking ships and castC
Like blight upon the coast or like a blastC
From angry levin on a fair young treeD
That stands thenceforth a piteous sight to seeD
So lives this land to day beneath the sunE
A weltering plague spot where the hot tears runE
And hearts to ashes turn and souls are driedF
Like empty kilns where hopes have parched and diedF
Woe's cloak is round her she the fairest shoreG
In all the Southern Ocean o'er and o'erH
Poor Cinderella she must bide her woeI
Because an elder sister wills it soI
Ah could that sister see the future dayJ
When her own wealth and strength are shorn awayJ
A nd she lone mother then puts forth her handK
To rest on kindred blood in that far landK
Could she but see that kin deny her claimL
Because of nothing owing her but shameL
Then might she learn 'tis building but to fallM
If carted rubble be the basement wallM
But this my tale if tale it be beginsN
Before the young land saw the old land's sinsN
Sail up the orient ocean like a cloudO
Far blown and widening as it neared a shroudO
Fate sent to wrap the bier of all things pureP
And mark the leper land while stains endureP
In the far days the few who sought the WestQ
Were men all guileless in adventurous questQ
Of lands to feed their flocks and raise their grainR
And help them live their lives with less of painR
Than crowded Europe lets her children knowI
From their old homesteads did they seaward goI
As if in Nature's order men must fleeD
As flow the streams from inlands to the seaD
In that far time from out a Northern landK
With home ties severed went a numerous bandK
Of men and wives and children white haired folkS
Whose humble hope of rest at home had brokeS
As year was piled on year and still their toilT
Had wrung poor fee from Sweden's rugged soilT
One day there gathered from the neighboring steadsD
In Jacob Eibsen's five strong household headsD
Five men large limbed and sinewed Jacob's sonsD
Though he was hale as one whose current runsD
In stony channels that the streamlet rendK
But keep it clear and full unto the endK
Eight sons had Jacob Eibsen three still boysD
And these five men who owned of griefs and joysD
The common lot and three tall girls besideK
Of whom the eldest was a blushing brideK
One year before Old fashioned times and menU
And wives and maidens were in Sweden thenU
These five came there for counsel they were tiredK
Of hoping on for all the heart desiredK
And Jacob old but mighty thewed as youthV
In all their words did sadly own the truthV
And said unto them 'Wealth cannot be foundK
In Sweden now by men who till the groundK
I've thought at times of leaving this bare placeD
And holding seaward with a seeking faceD
For those new lands they speak of where men thriveW
Alone I've thought of this but now you fiveW
Five brother men of Eibsen blood shall sayD
If our old stock from here must wend their wayD
And seek a home where anxious sires can giveX
To every child enough whereon to live '-
Then each took thought in silence Jacob gazedK
Across them at the pastures worn and grazedK
By ill fed herds his glance to corn fields passedK
Where stunted oats worse each year than the lastK
And blighted barley grew amongst the stonesD
That showed ungainly like earth's fleshless bonesD
He sighed and turned away 'Sons let me knowI
What think you '-
Each one answered firm 'We go '-
And then they said 'We want no northern windK
To chill us more or driving hail to blindK
But let us sail where south winds fan the seaD
And happier we and all our race shall be '-
And so in time there started for the coastK
With farm and household gear this Eibsen hostK
And there with others to a good ship passedK
Which soon of Sweden's hills beheld the lastK
I know not of their voyage nor how theyD
Did wonder stricken sit as day by dayD
'Neath tropic rays they saw the smooth sea swellY
And heave while night by night the north star fellY
Till last they watched him burning on the seaD
Nor how they saw and wondered it could beD
Strange beacons rise before them as they gazedK
Nor how their hearts grew light when southward blazedK
Five stars in blessed shape the Cross whose flameL
Seemed shining welcome as the wanderers cameL
My story presses from this star born hopeZ
To where on young New Holland's western slopeZ
These Northern farming folk found homes at lastK
And all their thankless toil seemed now long pastK
Nine fruitful years chased over and nigh allM
Of life was sweet But one dark dropp of gallM
Had come when first they landed like a signA2
Of some black woe and deep in Eibsen's wineA2
Of life it hid till in the sweetest cupB2
The old man saw its shape come shuddering upB2
And first it came in this wise when their shipC2
Had made the promised land and every lipC2
Was pouring praise for what the eye did meetK
For all the air was yellow as with heatK
Above the peaceful sea and dazzling sandK
That wooed each other round the beauteous landK
Where inward stretched the slumbering forest's greenD2
When first these sights from off the deck were seenD2
There rose a wailing stern wards and the menU
Who dreamt of heaven turned to earth agenU
And heard the direful cause with bated breathE2
The land's first gleam had brought the blight of deathE2
The wife of Eibsen held her six years' sonU
Her youngest and in secret best loved oneU
Close to her lifeless his had been the cryF2
That first horizonwards bent every eyeF2
And from that opening sight of sand and treeD
Like one deep spell bound did he seem to beD
And moved by some strange phantasy his eyesD
Were wide distended as in glad surpriseD
At something there he saw his arms reached o'erH
The vessel's side as if to greet the shoreG
And sounds came from his lips like sobs of joyG2
A brief time so and then the blue eyed boyG2
Sank down convulsed as if to him appearedK
Strange sights that they saw not and all afeardK
Grew the late joyous people with vague dreadK
And loud the mother wailed above her deadK
The ship steered in and found a bay and thenU
The anchor plunged aweary like the menU
Breathed breaths of rest at treading land agenU
Upon the beach by Christian men untrodK
The wanderers kneeling offered up to GodK
The land's first fruits and nigh the kneeling bandK
The burdened mother sat upon the sandK
And still she wailed not prayingH2
'Neath the woodK
That lined the beach a crowd of watchers stoodK
Tall men spear armed with skins like dusky nightK
And aspect blended of deep awe and frightK
The ship that morn they saw like some vast birdK
Come sailing toward their country and they heardK
The voices now of those strange men whose eyesD
Were turned aloft who spake unto the skiesD
They heard and feared not knowing that first prayerI2
But feared not when the wail arose for thereI2
Was some familiar thing did not appallM
Grief common heritage and lot of allM
They moved and breathed more freely at the cryF2
And slowly from the wood and timorouslyM
They one by one emerged upon the beachJ2
The white men saw and like to friends did reachJ2
Their hands unarmed and soon the dusky crowdK
Drew nigh and stood where wailed the mother loudK
They claimed her kindred they could understandK
That woe was hers and theirs whereas the bandK
Of white skinned men did not as brethren seemK2
But now behold a man whom one would deemK2
From eye and mien wherever met a KingH2
Did stand beside the woman No youth's springH2
Was in the foot that naked pressed the sandK
No warrior's might was in the long dark handK
That waved his people backward no bright goldK
Of lace or armor glittered gaunt and oldK

John Boyle O'reilly


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