« 前へ次へ »
Well-pleased, the placid elders sate and view'd The sport, and seem'd therein to feel their youth renew'd.
25. But when the darker scenes their mother drew, What crimes were wrought when drunken fury
raged, What miseries from their fatal discord grew When horde with horde in deadly strife engaged: The rancorous hate with which their wars they
waged, The more unnatural horrors which ensued, When, with inveterate vengeance unassuaged,
The victors round their slaughter'd captives stood, And babes were brought to dip their little hands in blood :
26. Horrent they heard; and with her hands the Maid Prest her eyes close as if she strove to blot The hateful image which her mind portray’d. The Boy sate silently, intent in thought ; Then with a deep-drawn sigh, as if he sought To heave the oppressive feeling from his breast, Complacently compared their harmless lot
With such wild life, outrageous and unblest, Securely thus to live, he said, was surely best.
27. On tales of blood they could not bear to dwell, From such their hearts abhorrent shrunk in fear. Better they liked that Monnema should tell Ofthings unseen; what Power had placed them here, And whence the living spirit came, and where It past, when parted from this mortal mold; Of such mysterious themes with willing ear
They heard, devoutly listening while she told Strangely-disfigured truths, and fables feign'd of old.
28. By the Great Spirit man was made, she said, His voice it was which peal'd along the sky, And shook the heavens and fill'd the earth with
dread Alone and inaccessible, on high He had his dwelling-place eternally, And Father was his name. This all knew well; But none had seen his face: and if his eye
Regarded what upon the earth befell, Or if he cared for man, she knew not: ... who could
They work'd where'er they might their wicked will, The natural foes of man, whom we pursue and kill.
Drawn from their father's fate; no grave had he Wherein his soul might dwell. This therefore could
31. Likelier they taught who said that to the Land Of Souls the happy spirit took its flight, A region underneath the sole command Of the Good Power ; by him for the upright Appointed and replenish'd with delight; A land where nothing evil ever came, Sorrow, nor pain, nor peril, nor affright,
Norchange, nor death; but there the human frame, Untouch'd by age or ill, continued still the same.
32. Winds would not pierce it there, nor heat and cold Grieve, northirst parch and hunger pine; but there The sun by day its even influence hold With genial warmth, and thro' the unclouded air The moon upon her nightly journey fare : The lakes and fish-full streams are never dry ; Trees ever green perpetual fruitage bear ;
And, wheresoe'er the hunter turns his eye, Water and earth and heaven to him their stores ply.
33. And once there was a way to that good land, For in mid-earth a wondrous Tree there grew, By which the adventurer might with foot and hand From branch to branch his upward course pursue; An easy path, if what were said be true, Albeit the ascent was long: and when the height Was gain'd, that blissful region was in view,
Wherein the traveller safely might alight, And roam abroad at will, and take his free delight.
Violence or age, infirmity and pain
35. Such grievous loss had by their own misdeed Upon the unworthy race of men been brought. An aged woman once who could not speed In fishing, earnestly one day besought Her countrymen, that they of what they caught A portion would upon her wants bestow. They set her hunger and her age at nought,
And still to her entreaties answered no! And mock'd her, till they made her heart with rage
36. But that Old Woman by such wanton wrong Inflamed, went hurrying down ; and in the pride Of magic power wherein the crone was strong, Her human form infirm she laid aside. Better the Capiguara's limbs supplied A strength accordant to her fierce intent: These she assumed, and, burrowing deep and wide
Beneath the Tree, with vicious will, she went, To inflict upon mankind a lasting punishment.
37. Downward she wrought her way, and all around Labouring, the solid earth she undermined And loosen'd all the roots ; then from the ground Emerging, in her hatred of her kind, Resumed her proper form, and breathed a wind Which gather'd like a tempest round its head: Eftsoon the lofty Tree its top inclined
Uptorn with horrible convulsion dread, And over half the world its mighty wreck lay spread.
38. But never scion sprouted from that Tree, Nor seed sprang up; and thus the easy way, Which had till then for young and old been free, Was closed upon the sons of men for aye. The mighty ruin moulder'd where it lay Till not a trace was left; and now in sooth Almost had all remembrance past away.
This from the elders she had heard in youth ; Some said it was a tale, and some a very truth.