Clarel/Part 3/Canto 26

From Wikisource
< Clarel‎ | Part 3
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Clarel by Herman Melville
Part 3, Canto 26: Vine and the Palm

26. Vine and the Palm[edit]

Along those ledges, up and down--
Through terce, sext, nones, in ritual flight
To vespers and mild evening brown;
On errand best to angels known,
A shadow creepeth, brushed by light. 5
Behold it stealing now over one
Reclined aloof upon a stone

High up. 'Tis Vine.
             And is it I
(He muses), I that leave the others, 10
Or do they leave me? One could sigh
For Achmed with his hundred brothers:
How share the gushing amity
With all? Divine philanthropy!
For my part, I but love the past-- 15
The further back the better; yes,
In the past is the true blessedness;
The future's ever overcast--
The present aye plebeian. So,
Mar Saba, thou fine long-ago 20

Lithographed here, thee do I love;
And yet to-morrow I'll remove
With right good will; a fickle lover
Is only constant as a rover.
Here I lie, poor solitaire; 25
But see the brave one over there-
The Palm! Come now, to pass the time
I'll try an invocation frec
Invoke it in a style sublime,
Yet sad as sad sincerity:-- 30

  "Witness to a watered land,
Voucher of a vernal year--
St. Saba's Palm, why there dost stand?
Would'st thou win the desert here
To dreams of Eden? Thy device 35
Intimates a Paradise!
Nay, thy plume would give us proof
That thou thyself art prince thereof,
Fair lord of that domain.
  "But, lonely dwelling in thy reign, 40
Kinship claimest with the tree
Worshipped on Delos in the sea--
Apollo's Palm? It ended;
Nor dear divinities befriended.--
  "Thou that pledgest heaven to me, 45
Stem of beauty, shaft of light,
Behold, thou hang'st suspended
Over Kedron and the night!
Shall come the fall? shall time disarm
The grace, the glory of the Palm? 50
  "Tropic seraph! thou once gone,
Who then shall take thy office on--
Redeem the waste, and high appear,
Apostle of Talassa's year
And climes where rivers of waters run? 55
  "But braid thy tresses--yet thou'rt fair:
Every age for itself must care:
Braid thy green tresses; let the grim
Awaiter find thee never dim!
Serenely still thy glance be sent 60
Plumb down from horror's battlement:
Though the deep Fates be concerting
A reversion, a subyerting,
Still bear thee like the Seraphim."

  He loitered, lounging on the stair: 65
Howbeit, the sunlight still is fair.
  Next meetly here behooves narrate
How fared they, seated left but latc
Viewless to Vine above their dell,
Viewless and quite inaudible: 70
Derwent, and his good gossip cosy,
The man of Lesbos, light and rosy,
His anecdote about to tell.