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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.
presence there was poor relief ! And this had sad experience made her know,
For when Quiara came, his stay was brief,
With his dear presence, 't was a blessed thing
Perhaps ... but sooth she could not answer well;
42. What one tribe held another disbelieved, For all concerning this was dark, she said ; Uncertain all, and hard to be received. The dreadful race, from whom their fathers fled,' Boasted that even the Country of the Dead Was theirs, and where their Spirits chose to go, The ghosts of other men retired in dread
Before the face of that victorious foe; No better, then, the world above, than this below!
43. What then, alas ! if this were true, was death? Only a mournful change from ill to ill! And some there were who said the living breath Would ne'er be taken from us by the will Of the Good Father, but continue still To feed with life the mortal frame he gave, Did not mischance or wicked witchcraft kill;...
Evils from which no care avail'd to save, And whereby all were sent to fill the greedy grave.
But wheresoe'er they fled they found him nigh: None ever could elude that unseen enemy.
45. Bootless the boast, and vain the proud intent Of those who hoped, with arrogant display Of arms and force, to scare him from their tent, As if their threatful shouts and fierce array Of war could drive the Invisible away ! Sometimes regardless of the sufferer's groan, They dragg’d the dying out and as a prey
Exposed him, that content with him alone Death might depart, and thus his fate avert their own.
46. Depart he might, ... but only to return In quest of other victims, soon or late; When they who held this fond belief, would learn, Each by his own inevitable fate, That in the course of man's uncertain state Death is the one and only certain thing. Oh folly then to fly or deprecate
That which at last Time, ever on the wing, Certain as day and night, to weary age must bring!
With steady eye
47. While thus the Matron spake, the youthful twain Listen'd in deep attention, wistfully; Whether with more of wonder or of pain Uneath it were to tell. Intent they heard ; and when she paused, a sigh Their sorrowful foreboding seem'd to speak : Questions to which she could not give reply
Yeruti ask'd ; and for that Maiden meek, ... Involuntary tears ran down her quiet cheek.
His gracious will; but little heed she then
49. But these young questioners from time to time Call’d up the long-forgotten theme anew. Strange men they were, from some remotest clime She said, of different speech, uncouth to view, Having hair
upon their face, and white in hue : Across the World of waters wide they came Devotedly the Father's work to do,
And seek the Red-Men out, and in his name His merciful laws, and love, and promises proclaim.
50. They served a Maid more beautiful than tongue Could tell, or heart conceive. Of human race, All heavenly as that Virgin was, she sprung ; But for her beauty and celestial grace, Being one in whose pure elements no trace Had e'er inhered of sin or mortal stain, The highest Heaven was now her dwelling place;
There as a Queen divine she held her reign, And there in endless joy for ever would remain.