Archives For Poetry

The Glow©

Copyright 2015

By Felina Silver Robinson


The glow that leads to life

Is the glow that leads to death

Don’t get in its way if you’re meant to stay

Or your time will be taken prematurely

There’s no turning back once you’ve looked the other way

This is one time you will have no say

Your journey has its own agenda

And it’s called destiny

Don’t let it get the best of you

Coriolanus,  ACT V, SCENE I. Rome. A public place.

No, I’ll not go: you hear what he hath said
Which was sometime his general; who loved him
In a most dear particular. He call’d me father:
But what o’ that? Go, you that banish’d him;
A mile before his tent fall down, and knee
The way into his mercy: nay, if he coy’d
To hear Cominius speak, I’ll keep at home.

He would not seem to know me.

Do you hear?

Yet one time he did call me by my name:
I urged our old acquaintance, and the drops
That we have bled together. Coriolanus
He would not answer to: forbad all names;
He was a kind of nothing, titleless,
Till he had forged himself a name o’ the fire
Of burning Rome.

Why, so: you have made good work!
A pair of tribunes that have rack’d for Rome,
To make coals cheap,–a noble memory!

I minded him how royal ’twas to pardon
When it was less expected: he replied,
It was a bare petition of a state
To one whom they had punish’d.

Very well:
Could he say less?

I offer’d to awaken his regard
For’s private friends: his answer to me was,
He could not stay to pick them in a pile
Of noisome musty chaff: he said ’twas folly,
For one poor grain or two, to leave unburnt,
And still to nose the offence.

For one poor grain or two!
I am one of those; his mother, wife, his child,
And this brave fellow too, we are the grains:
You are the musty chaff; and you are smelt
Above the moon: we must be burnt for you.

Nay, pray, be patient: if you refuse your aid
In this so never-needed help, yet do not
Upbraid’s with our distress. But, sure, if you
Would be your country’s pleader, your good tongue,
More than the instant army we can make,
Might stop our countryman.

No, I’ll not meddle.

Pray you, go to him.

What should I do?

Only make trial what your love can do
For Rome, towards Marcius.

Well, and say that Marcius
Return me, as Cominius is return’d,
Unheard; what then?
But as a discontented friend, grief-shot
With his unkindness? say’t be so?

Yet your good will
must have that thanks from Rome, after the measure
As you intended well.

I’ll undertake ‘t:
I think he’ll hear me. Yet, to bite his lip
And hum at good Cominius, much unhearts me.
He was not taken well; he had not dined:
The veins unfill’d, our blood is cold, and then
We pout upon the morning, are unapt
To give or to forgive; but when we have stuff’d
These and these conveyances of our blood
With wine and feeding, we have suppler souls
Than in our priest-like fasts: therefore I’ll watch him
Till he be dieted to my request,
And then I’ll set upon him.

You know the very road into his kindness,
And cannot lose your way.

Good faith, I’ll prove him,
Speed how it will. I shall ere long have knowledge
Of my success.


He’ll never hear him.


I tell you, he does sit in gold, his eye
Red as ‘twould burn Rome; and his injury
The gaoler to his pity. I kneel’d before him;
‘Twas very faintly he said ‘Rise;’ dismiss’d me
Thus, with his speechless hand: what he would do,
He sent in writing after me; what he would not,
Bound with an oath to yield to his conditions:
So that all hope is vain.
Unless his noble mother, and his wife;
Who, as I hear, mean to solicit him
For mercy to his country. Therefore, let’s hence,
And with our fair entreaties haste them on.


SCENE II. Entrance of the Volscian camp before Rome.
Two Sentinels on guard.

Enter to them, MENENIUS

First Senator
Stay: whence are you?

Second Senator
Stand, and go back.

You guard like men; ’tis well: but, by your leave,
I am an officer of state, and come
To speak with Coriolanus.

First Senator
From whence?

From Rome.

First Senator
You may not pass, you must return: our general
Will no more hear from thence.

Second Senator
You’ll see your Rome embraced with fire before
You’ll speak with Coriolanus.

Good my friends,
If you have heard your general talk of Rome,
And of his friends there, it is lots to blanks,
My name hath touch’d your ears it is Menenius.

First Senator
Be it so; go back: the virtue of your name
Is not here passable.

I tell thee, fellow,
The general is my lover: I have been
The book of his good acts, whence men have read
His name unparallel’d, haply amplified;
For I have ever verified my friends,
Of whom he’s chief, with all the size that verity
Would without lapsing suffer: nay, sometimes,
Like to a bowl upon a subtle ground,
I have tumbled past the throw; and in his praise
Have almost stamp’d the leasing: therefore, fellow,
I must have leave to pass.

First Senator
Faith, sir, if you had told as many lies in his
behalf as you have uttered words in your own, you
should not pass here; no, though it were as virtuous
to lie as to live chastely. Therefore, go back.

Prithee, fellow, remember my name is Menenius,
always factionary on the party of your general.

Second Senator
Howsoever you have been his liar, as you say you
have, I am one that, telling true under him, must
say, you cannot pass. Therefore, go back.

Has he dined, canst thou tell? for I would not
speak with him till after dinner.

First Senator
You are a Roman, are you?

I am, as thy general is.

First Senator
Then you should hate Rome, as he does. Can you,
when you have pushed out your gates the very
defender of them, and, in a violent popular
ignorance, given your enemy your shield, think to
front his revenges with the easy groans of old
women, the virginal palms of your daughters, or with
the palsied intercession of such a decayed dotant as
you seem to be? Can you think to blow out the
intended fire your city is ready to flame in, with
such weak breath as this? No, you are deceived;
therefore, back to Rome, and prepare for your
execution: you are condemned, our general has sworn
you out of reprieve and pardon.

Sirrah, if thy captain knew I were here, he would
use me with estimation.

Second Senator
Come, my captain knows you not.

I mean, thy general.

First Senator
My general cares not for you. Back, I say, go; lest
I let forth your half-pint of blood; back,–that’s
the utmost of your having: back.

Nay, but, fellow, fellow,–


What’s the matter?

Now, you companion, I’ll say an errand for you:
You shall know now that I am in estimation; you shall
perceive that a Jack guardant cannot office me from
my son Coriolanus: guess, but by my entertainment
with him, if thou standest not i’ the state of
hanging, or of some death more long in
spectatorship, and crueller in suffering; behold now
presently, and swoon for what’s to come upon thee.


The glorious gods sit in hourly synod about thy
particular prosperity, and love thee no worse than
thy old father Menenius does! O my son, my son!
thou art preparing fire for us; look thee, here’s
water to quench it. I was hardly moved to come to
thee; but being assured none but myself could move
thee, I have been blown out of your gates with
sighs; and conjure thee to pardon Rome, and thy
petitionary countrymen. The good gods assuage thy
wrath, and turn the dregs of it upon this varlet
here,–this, who, like a block, hath denied my
access to thee.


How! away!

Wife, mother, child, I know not. My affairs
Are servanted to others: though I owe
My revenge properly, my remission lies
In Volscian breasts. That we have been familiar,
Ingrate forgetfulness shall poison, rather
Than pity note how much. Therefore, be gone.
Mine ears against your suits are stronger than
Your gates against my force. Yet, for I loved thee,
Take this along; I writ it for thy sake

Gives a letter

And would have rent it. Another word, Menenius,
I will not hear thee speak. This man, Aufidius,
Was my beloved in Rome: yet thou behold’st!

You keep a constant temper.


First Senator
Now, sir, is your name Menenius?

Second Senator
‘Tis a spell, you see, of much power: you know the
way home again.

First Senator
Do you hear how we are shent for keeping your
greatness back?

Second Senator
What cause, do you think, I have to swoon?

I neither care for the world nor your general: for
such things as you, I can scarce think there’s any,
ye’re so slight. He that hath a will to die by
himself fears it not from another: let your general
do his worst. For you, be that you are, long; and
your misery increase with your age! I say to you,
as I was said to, Away!


First Senator
A noble fellow, I warrant him.

Second Senator
The worthy fellow is our general: he’s the rock, the
oak not to be wind-shaken.


SCENE III. The tent of Coriolanus.

Enter CORIOLANUS, AUFIDIUS, and others
We will before the walls of Rome tomorrow
Set down our host. My partner in this action,
You must report to the Volscian lords, how plainly
I have borne this business.

Only their ends
You have respected; stopp’d your ears against
The general suit of Rome; never admitted
A private whisper, no, not with such friends
That thought them sure of you.

This last old man,
Whom with a crack’d heart I have sent to Rome,
Loved me above the measure of a father;
Nay, godded me, indeed. Their latest refuge
Was to send him; for whose old love I have,
Though I show’d sourly to him, once more offer’d
The first conditions, which they did refuse
And cannot now accept; to grace him only
That thought he could do more, a very little
I have yielded to: fresh embassies and suits,
Nor from the state nor private friends, hereafter
Will I lend ear to. Ha! what shout is this?

Shout within

Shall I be tempted to infringe my vow
In the same time ’tis made? I will not.

Enter in mourning habits, VIRGILIA, VOLUMNIA, leading young MARCIUS, VALERIA, and Attendants

My wife comes foremost; then the honour’d mould
Wherein this trunk was framed, and in her hand
The grandchild to her blood. But, out, affection!
All bond and privilege of nature, break!
Let it be virtuous to be obstinate.
What is that curt’sy worth? or those doves’ eyes,
Which can make gods forsworn? I melt, and am not
Of stronger earth than others. My mother bows;
As if Olympus to a molehill should
In supplication nod: and my young boy
Hath an aspect of intercession, which
Great nature cries ‘Deny not.’ let the Volsces
Plough Rome and harrow Italy: I’ll never
Be such a gosling to obey instinct, but stand,
As if a man were author of himself
And knew no other kin.

My lord and husband!

These eyes are not the same I wore in Rome.

The sorrow that delivers us thus changed
Makes you think so.

Like a dull actor now,
I have forgot my part, and I am out,
Even to a full disgrace. Best of my flesh,
Forgive my tyranny; but do not say
For that ‘Forgive our Romans.’ O, a kiss
Long as my exile, sweet as my revenge!
Now, by the jealous queen of heaven, that kiss
I carried from thee, dear; and my true lip
Hath virgin’d it e’er since. You gods! I prate,
And the most noble mother of the world
Leave unsaluted: sink, my knee, i’ the earth;


Of thy deep duty more impression show
Than that of common sons.

O, stand up blest!
Whilst, with no softer cushion than the flint,
I kneel before thee; and unproperly
Show duty, as mistaken all this while
Between the child and parent.


What is this?
Your knees to me? to your corrected son?
Then let the pebbles on the hungry beach
Fillip the stars; then let the mutinous winds
Strike the proud cedars ‘gainst the fiery sun;
Murdering impossibility, to make
What cannot be, slight work.

Thou art my warrior;
I holp to frame thee. Do you know this lady?

The noble sister of Publicola,
The moon of Rome, chaste as the icicle
That’s curdied by the frost from purest snow
And hangs on Dian’s temple: dear Valeria!

This is a poor epitome of yours,
Which by the interpretation of full time
May show like all yourself.

The god of soldiers,
With the consent of supreme Jove, inform
Thy thoughts with nobleness; that thou mayst prove
To shame unvulnerable, and stick i’ the wars
Like a great sea-mark, standing every flaw,
And saving those that eye thee!

Your knee, sirrah.

That’s my brave boy!

Even he, your wife, this lady, and myself,
Are suitors to you.

I beseech you, peace:
Or, if you’ld ask, remember this before:
The thing I have forsworn to grant may never
Be held by you denials. Do not bid me
Dismiss my soldiers, or capitulate
Again with Rome’s mechanics: tell me not
Wherein I seem unnatural: desire not
To ally my rages and revenges with
Your colder reasons.

O, no more, no more!
You have said you will not grant us any thing;
For we have nothing else to ask, but that
Which you deny already: yet we will ask;
That, if you fail in our request, the blame
May hang upon your hardness: therefore hear us.

Aufidius, and you Volsces, mark; for we’ll
Hear nought from Rome in private. Your request?

Should we be silent and not speak, our raiment
And state of bodies would bewray what life
We have led since thy exile. Think with thyself
How more unfortunate than all living women
Are we come hither: since that thy sight,
which should
Make our eyes flow with joy, hearts dance
with comforts,
Constrains them weep and shake with fear and sorrow;
Making the mother, wife and child to see
The son, the husband and the father tearing
His country’s bowels out. And to poor we
Thine enmity’s most capital: thou barr’st us
Our prayers to the gods, which is a comfort
That all but we enjoy; for how can we,
Alas, how can we for our country pray.
Whereto we are bound, together with thy victory,
Whereto we are bound? alack, or we must lose
The country, our dear nurse, or else thy person,
Our comfort in the country. We must find
An evident calamity, though we had
Our wish, which side should win: for either thou
Must, as a foreign recreant, be led
With manacles thorough our streets, or else
triumphantly tread on thy country’s ruin,
And bear the palm for having bravely shed
Thy wife and children’s blood. For myself, son,
I purpose not to wait on fortune till
These wars determine: if I cannot persuade thee
Rather to show a noble grace to both parts
Than seek the end of one, thou shalt no sooner
March to assault thy country than to tread–
Trust to’t, thou shalt not–on thy mother’s womb,
That brought thee to this world.

Ay, and mine,
That brought you forth this boy, to keep your name
Living to time.

A’ shall not tread on me;
I’ll run away till I am bigger, but then I’ll fight.

Not of a woman’s tenderness to be,
Requires nor child nor woman’s face to see.
I have sat too long.


Nay, go not from us thus.
If it were so that our request did tend
To save the Romans, thereby to destroy
The Volsces whom you serve, you might condemn us,
As poisonous of your honour: no; our suit
Is that you reconcile them: while the Volsces
May say ‘This mercy we have show’d;’ the Romans,
‘This we received;’ and each in either side
Give the all-hail to thee and cry ‘Be blest
For making up this peace!’ Thou know’st, great son,
The end of war’s uncertain, but this certain,
That, if thou conquer Rome, the benefit
Which thou shalt thereby reap is such a name,
Whose repetition will be dogg’d with curses;
Whose chronicle thus writ: ‘The man was noble,
But with his last attempt he wiped it out;
Destroy’d his country, and his name remains
To the ensuing age abhorr’d.’ Speak to me, son:
Thou hast affected the fine strains of honour,
To imitate the graces of the gods;
To tear with thunder the wide cheeks o’ the air,
And yet to charge thy sulphur with a bolt
That should but rive an oak. Why dost not speak?
Think’st thou it honourable for a noble man
Still to remember wrongs? Daughter, speak you:
He cares not for your weeping. Speak thou, boy:
Perhaps thy childishness will move him more
Than can our reasons. There’s no man in the world
More bound to ‘s mother; yet here he lets me prate
Like one i’ the stocks. Thou hast never in thy life
Show’d thy dear mother any courtesy,
When she, poor hen, fond of no second brood,
Has cluck’d thee to the wars and safely home,
Loaden with honour. Say my request’s unjust,
And spurn me back: but if it be not so,
Thou art not honest; and the gods will plague thee,
That thou restrain’st from me the duty which
To a mother’s part belongs. He turns away:
Down, ladies; let us shame him with our knees.
To his surname Coriolanus ‘longs more pride
Than pity to our prayers. Down: an end;
This is the last: so we will home to Rome,
And die among our neighbours. Nay, behold ‘s:
This boy, that cannot tell what he would have
But kneels and holds up bands for fellowship,
Does reason our petition with more strength
Than thou hast to deny ‘t. Come, let us go:
This fellow had a Volscian to his mother;
His wife is in Corioli and his child
Like him by chance. Yet give us our dispatch:
I am hush’d until our city be a-fire,
And then I’ll speak a little.

He holds her by the hand, silent

O mother, mother!
What have you done? Behold, the heavens do ope,
The gods look down, and this unnatural scene
They laugh at. O my mother, mother! O!
You have won a happy victory to Rome;
But, for your son,–believe it, O, believe it,
Most dangerously you have with him prevail’d,
If not most mortal to him. But, let it come.
Aufidius, though I cannot make true wars,
I’ll frame convenient peace. Now, good Aufidius,
Were you in my stead, would you have heard
A mother less? or granted less, Aufidius?

I was moved withal.

I dare be sworn you were:
And, sir, it is no little thing to make
Mine eyes to sweat compassion. But, good sir,
What peace you’ll make, advise me: for my part,
I’ll not to Rome, I’ll back with you; and pray you,
Stand to me in this cause. O mother! wife!

[Aside] I am glad thou hast set thy mercy and
thy honour
At difference in thee: out of that I’ll work
Myself a former fortune.

The Ladies make signs to CORIOLANUS

Ay, by and by;


But we will drink together; and you shall bear
A better witness back than words, which we,
On like conditions, will have counter-seal’d.
Come, enter with us. Ladies, you deserve
To have a temple built you: all the swords
In Italy, and her confederate arms,
Could not have made this peace.


SCENE IV. Rome. A public place.

See you yond coign o’ the Capitol, yond

Why, what of that?

If it be possible for you to displace it with your
little finger, there is some hope the ladies of
Rome, especially his mother, may prevail with him.
But I say there is no hope in’t: our throats are
sentenced and stay upon execution.

Is’t possible that so short a time can alter the
condition of a man!

There is differency between a grub and a butterfly;
yet your butterfly was a grub. This Marcius is grown
from man to dragon: he has wings; he’s more than a
creeping thing.

He loved his mother dearly.

So did he me: and he no more remembers his mother
now than an eight-year-old horse. The tartness
of his face sours ripe grapes: when he walks, he
moves like an engine, and the ground shrinks before
his treading: he is able to pierce a corslet with
his eye; talks like a knell, and his hum is a
battery. He sits in his state, as a thing made for
Alexander. What he bids be done is finished with
his bidding. He wants nothing of a god but eternity
and a heaven to throne in.

Yes, mercy, if you report him truly.

I paint him in the character. Mark what mercy his
mother shall bring from him: there is no more mercy
in him than there is milk in a male tiger; that
shall our poor city find: and all this is long of

The gods be good unto us!

No, in such a case the gods will not be good unto
us. When we banished him, we respected not them;
and, he returning to break our necks, they respect not us.

Enter a Messenger

Sir, if you’ld save your life, fly to your house:
The plebeians have got your fellow-tribune
And hale him up and down, all swearing, if
The Roman ladies bring not comfort home,
They’ll give him death by inches.

Enter a second Messenger

What’s the news?

Second Messenger
Good news, good news; the ladies have prevail’d,
The Volscians are dislodged, and Marcius gone:
A merrier day did never yet greet Rome,
No, not the expulsion of the Tarquins.

Art thou certain this is true? is it most certain?

Second Messenger
As certain as I know the sun is fire:
Where have you lurk’d, that you make doubt of it?
Ne’er through an arch so hurried the blown tide,
As the recomforted through the gates. Why, hark you!

Trumpets; hautboys; drums beat; all together

The trumpets, sackbuts, psalteries and fifes,
Tabours and cymbals and the shouting Romans,
Make the sun dance. Hark you!

A shout within

This is good news:
I will go meet the ladies. This Volumnia
Is worth of consuls, senators, patricians,
A city full; of tribunes, such as you,
A sea and land full. You have pray’d well to-day:
This morning for ten thousand of your throats
I’d not have given a doit. Hark, how they joy!

Music still, with shouts

First, the gods bless you for your tidings; next,
Accept my thankfulness.

Second Messenger
Sir, we have all
Great cause to give great thanks.

They are near the city?

Second Messenger
Almost at point to enter.

We will meet them,
And help the joy.


SCENE V. The same. A street near the gate.

Enter two Senators with VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, VALERIA, & c. passing over the stage, followed by Patricians and others
First Senator
Behold our patroness, the life of Rome!
Call all your tribes together, praise the gods,
And make triumphant fires; strew flowers before them:
Unshout the noise that banish’d Marcius,
Repeal him with the welcome of his mother;
Cry ‘Welcome, ladies, welcome!’

Welcome, ladies, Welcome!

A flourish with drums and trumpets. Exeunt

SCENE VI. Antium. A public place.

Enter TULLUS AUFIDIUS, with Attendants
Go tell the lords o’ the city I am here:
Deliver them this paper: having read it,
Bid them repair to the market place; where I,
Even in theirs and in the commons’ ears,
Will vouch the truth of it. Him I accuse
The city ports by this hath enter’d and
Intends to appear before the people, hoping
To purge herself with words: dispatch.

Exeunt Attendants

Enter three or four Conspirators of AUFIDIUS’ faction

Most welcome!

First Conspirator
How is it with our general?

Even so
As with a man by his own alms empoison’d,
And with his charity slain.

Second Conspirator
Most noble sir,
If you do hold the same intent wherein
You wish’d us parties, we’ll deliver you
Of your great danger.

Sir, I cannot tell:
We must proceed as we do find the people.

Third Conspirator
The people will remain uncertain whilst
‘Twixt you there’s difference; but the fall of either
Makes the survivor heir of all.

I know it;
And my pretext to strike at him admits
A good construction. I raised him, and I pawn’d
Mine honour for his truth: who being so heighten’d,
He water’d his new plants with dews of flattery,
Seducing so my friends; and, to this end,
He bow’d his nature, never known before
But to be rough, unswayable and free.

Third Conspirator
Sir, his stoutness
When he did stand for consul, which he lost
By lack of stooping,–

That I would have spoke of:
Being banish’d for’t, he came unto my hearth;
Presented to my knife his throat: I took him;
Made him joint-servant with me; gave him way
In all his own desires; nay, let him choose
Out of my files, his projects to accomplish,
My best and freshest men; served his designments
In mine own person; holp to reap the fame
Which he did end all his; and took some pride
To do myself this wrong: till, at the last,
I seem’d his follower, not partner, and
He waged me with his countenance, as if
I had been mercenary.

First Conspirator
So he did, my lord:
The army marvell’d at it, and, in the last,
When he had carried Rome and that we look’d
For no less spoil than glory,–

There was it:
For which my sinews shall be stretch’d upon him.
At a few drops of women’s rheum, which are
As cheap as lies, he sold the blood and labour
Of our great action: therefore shall he die,
And I’ll renew me in his fall. But, hark!

Drums and trumpets sound, with great shouts of the People

First Conspirator
Your native town you enter’d like a post,
And had no welcomes home: but he returns,
Splitting the air with noise.

Second Conspirator
And patient fools,
Whose children he hath slain, their base throats tear
With giving him glory.

Third Conspirator
Therefore, at your vantage,
Ere he express himself, or move the people
With what he would say, let him feel your sword,
Which we will second. When he lies along,
After your way his tale pronounced shall bury
His reasons with his body.

Say no more:
Here come the lords.

Enter the Lords of the city

All The Lords
You are most welcome home.

I have not deserved it.
But, worthy lords, have you with heed perused
What I have written to you?

We have.

First Lord
And grieve to hear’t.
What faults he made before the last, I think
Might have found easy fines: but there to end
Where he was to begin and give away
The benefit of our levies, answering us
With our own charge, making a treaty where
There was a yielding,–this admits no excuse.

He approaches: you shall hear him.

Enter CORIOLANUS, marching with drum and colours; commoners being with him

Hail, lords! I am return’d your soldier,
No more infected with my country’s love
Than when I parted hence, but still subsisting
Under your great command. You are to know
That prosperously I have attempted and
With bloody passage led your wars even to
The gates of Rome. Our spoils we have brought home
Do more than counterpoise a full third part
The charges of the action. We have made peace
With no less honour to the Antiates
Than shame to the Romans: and we here deliver,
Subscribed by the consuls and patricians,
Together with the seal o’ the senate, what
We have compounded on.

Read it not, noble lords;
But tell the traitor, in the high’st degree
He hath abused your powers.

Traitor! how now!

Ay, traitor, Marcius!


Ay, Marcius, Caius Marcius: dost thou think
I’ll grace thee with that robbery, thy stol’n name
Coriolanus in Corioli?
You lords and heads o’ the state, perfidiously
He has betray’d your business, and given up,
For certain drops of salt, your city Rome,
I say ‘your city,’ to his wife and mother;
Breaking his oath and resolution like
A twist of rotten silk, never admitting
Counsel o’ the war, but at his nurse’s tears
He whined and roar’d away your victory,
That pages blush’d at him and men of heart
Look’d wondering each at other.

Hear’st thou, Mars?

Name not the god, thou boy of tears!


No more.

Measureless liar, thou hast made my heart
Too great for what contains it. Boy! O slave!
Pardon me, lords, ’tis the first time that ever
I was forced to scold. Your judgments, my grave lords,
Must give this cur the lie: and his own notion–
Who wears my stripes impress’d upon him; that
Must bear my beating to his grave–shall join
To thrust the lie unto him.

First Lord
Peace, both, and hear me speak.

Cut me to pieces, Volsces; men and lads,
Stain all your edges on me. Boy! false hound!
If you have writ your annals true, ’tis there,
That, like an eagle in a dove-cote, I
Flutter’d your Volscians in Corioli:
Alone I did it. Boy!

Why, noble lords,
Will you be put in mind of his blind fortune,
Which was your shame, by this unholy braggart,
‘Fore your own eyes and ears?

All Conspirators
Let him die for’t.

All The People
‘Tear him to pieces.’ ‘Do it presently.’ ‘He kill’d
my son.’ ‘My daughter.’ ‘He killed my cousin
Marcus.’ ‘He killed my father.’

Second Lord
Peace, ho! no outrage: peace!
The man is noble and his fame folds-in
This orb o’ the earth. His last offences to us
Shall have judicious hearing. Stand, Aufidius,
And trouble not the peace.

O that I had him,
With six Aufidiuses, or more, his tribe,
To use my lawful sword!

Insolent villain!

All Conspirators
Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill him!

The Conspirators draw, and kill CORIOLANUS: AUFIDIUS stands on his body

Hold, hold, hold, hold!

My noble masters, hear me speak.

First Lord
O Tullus,–

Second Lord
Thou hast done a deed whereat valour will weep.

Third Lord
Tread not upon him. Masters all, be quiet;
Put up your swords.

My lords, when you shall know–as in this rage,
Provoked by him, you cannot–the great danger
Which this man’s life did owe you, you’ll rejoice
That he is thus cut off. Please it your honours
To call me to your senate, I’ll deliver
Myself your loyal servant, or endure
Your heaviest censure.

First Lord
Bear from hence his body;
And mourn you for him: let him be regarded
As the most noble corse that ever herald
Did follow to his urn.

Second Lord
His own impatience
Takes from Aufidius a great part of blame.
Let’s make the best of it.

My rage is gone;
And I am struck with sorrow. Take him up.
Help, three o’ the chiefest soldiers; I’ll be one.
Beat thou the drum, that it speak mournfully:
Trail your steel pikes. Though in this city he
Hath widow’d and unchilded many a one,
Which to this hour bewail the injury,
Yet he shall have a noble memory. Assist.

Exeunt, bearing the body of CORIOLANUS. A dead march sounded

Come back on 12/01/15 and join me for fun with Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens


 Vol. II: Tales – part 01 (1902), pp. 248-268

[page 248:]


[The American Museum, September, 1838; 1840; Broadway Journal, II. 12. — Corrected by the Poe-Whitman-Ingram copy of B. Journal.(1)]

AND the will therein lieth, which dieth not. Who knoweth the mysteries of the will, with its vigor? For God is but a great will pervading all things by nature of its intentness. Man doth not yield himself to the angels, nor unto death utterly, save only through the weakness of his feeble will.

Joseph Glanvill.

I CANNOT, for my soul, remember how, when, or even precisely where, I first became acquainted with the lady Ligeia. Long years have since elapsed, and my memory is feeble through much suffering. Or, perhaps, I cannot now bring these points to mind, because, in truth, the character of my beloved, her rare learning, her singular yet placid cast of beauty, and the thrilling and enthralling eloquence of her low musical language, made their way into my heart by paces so steadily and stealthily progressive that they have been unnoticed and unknown. Yet I believe that I met her first and most frequently in some large, old, decaying city near the Rhine. Of her family — I have surely heard her speak. That it is of a remotely ancient date cannot be doubted. Ligeia! Ligeia! [page 249:] Buried in studies of a nature more than all else adapted to deaden impressions of the outward world, it is by that sweet word alone — by Ligeia — that I bring before mine eyes in fancy the image of her who is no more. And now, while I write, a recollection flashes upon me that I have never known the paternal name of her who was my friend and my betrothed, and who became the partner of my studies, and finally the wife of my bosom. Was it a playful charge on the part of my Ligeia? or was it a test of my strength of affection, that I should institute no inquiries upon this point? or was it rather a caprice of my own — a wildly romantic offering on the shrine of the most passionate devotion? I but indistinctly recall the fact itself — what wonder that I have utterly forgotten the circumstances which originated or attended it? And, indeed, if ever that spirit which is entitled Romance — if ever she, the wan and the misty-winged Ashtophet of idolatrous Egypt, presided, as they tell, over marriages ill-omened, then most surely she presided over mine.

There is one dear topic, however, on which my memory fails me not. It is the person of Ligeia. In stature she was tall, somewhat slender, and, in her latter days, even emaciated. I would in vain attempt to portray the majesty, the quiet ease, of her demeanor, or the incomprehensible lightness and elasticity of her footfall. She came and departed as a shadow. I was never made aware of her entrance into my closed study save by the dear music of her low sweet voice, as she placed her marble hand upon my shoulder. In beauty of face no maiden ever equalled her. It was the radiance of an opium dream — an airy and spirit-lifting vision more wildly divine than the phantasies which hovered about the slumbering souls of the daughters of [page 250:] Delos. Yet her features were not of that regular mould which we have been falsely taught to worship in the classical labors of the heathen. “There is no exquisite beauty,” says Bacon, Lord Verulam, speaking truly of all the forms and genera of beauty, “without some strangeness in the proportion.” Yet, although I saw that the features of Ligeia were not of a classic regularity — although I perceived that her loveliness was indeed “exquisite,” and felt that there was much of “strangeness” pervading it, yet I have tried in vain to detect the irregularity and to trace home my own perception of “the strange.” I examined the contour of the lofty and pale forehead — it was faultless — how cold indeed that word when applied to a majesty so divine! — the skin rivalling the purest ivory, the commanding extent and repose, the gentle prominence of the regions above the temples; and then the raven-black, the glossy, the luxuriant and naturally-curling tresses, setting forth the full force of the Homeric epithet, “hyacinthine!” I looked at the delicate outlines of the nose — and nowhere but in the graceful medallions of the Hebrews had I beheld a similar perfection. There were the same luxurious smoothness of surface, the same scarcely perceptible tendency to the aquiline, the same harmoniously curved nostrils speaking the free spirit. I regarded the sweet mouth. Here was indeed the triumph of all things heavenly — the magnificent turn of the short upper lip — the soft, voluptuous slumber of the under — the dimples which sported, and the color which spoke — the teeth glancing back, with a brilliancy almost startling, every ray of the holy light which fell upon them in her serene and placid, yet most exultingly radiant of all smiles. I scrutinized the formation of the chin — and here, [page 251:] too, I found the gentleness of breadth, the softness and the majesty, the fullness and the spirituality, of the Greek — the contour which the God Apollo revealed but in a dream, to Cleomenes, the son of the Athenian. And then I peered into the large eyes of Ligeia.

For eyes we have no models in the remotely antique. It might have been, too, that in these eyes of my beloved lay the secret to which Lord Verulam alludes. They were, I must believe, far larger than the ordinary eyes of our own race. They were even fuller than the fullest of the gazelle eyes of the tribe of the valley of Nourjahad. Yet it was only at intervals — in moments of intense excitement — that this peculiarity became more than slightly noticeable in Ligeia. And at such moments was her beauty — in my heated fancy thus it appeared perhaps — the beauty of beings either above or apart from the earth — the beauty of the fabulous Houri of the Turk. The hue of the orbs was the most brilliant of black, and, far over them, hung jetty lashes of great length. The brows, slightly irregular in outline, had the same tint. The “strangeness,” however, which I found in the eyes, was of a nature distinct from the formation, or the color, or the brilliancy of the features, and must, after all, be referred to theexpression. Ah, word of no meaning! behind whose vast latitude of mere sound we intrench our ignorance of so much of the spiritual. The expression of the eyes of Ligeia! How for long hours have I pondered upon it! How have I, through the whole of a midsummer night, struggled to fathom it! What was it — that something more profound than the well of Democritus — which lay far within the pupils of my beloved? What wasit? I was possessed with a [page 252:] passion to discover. Those eyes! those large, those shining, those divine orbs! they became to me twin stars of Leda, and I to them devoutest of astrologers.

There is no point, among the many incomprehensible anomalies of the science of mind, more thrillingly exciting than the fact — never, I believe, noticed in the schools — that, in our endeavors to recall to memory something long forgotten, we often find ourselves upon the very verge of remembrance, without being able, in the end, to remember. And thus how frequently, in my intense scrutiny of Ligeia’s eyes, have I felt approaching the full knowledge of their expression — felt it approaching — yet not quite be mine — and so at length entirely depart! And (strange, oh strangest mystery of all!) I found, in the commonest objects of the universe, a circle of analogies to that expression. I mean to say that, subsequently to the period when Ligeia’s beauty passed into my spirit, there dwelling as in a shrine, I derived, from many existences in the material world, a sentiment such as I felt always aroused within me by her large and luminous orbs. Yet not the more could I define that sentiment, or analyze, or even steadily view it. I recognized it, let me repeat, sometimes in the survey of a rapidly-growing vine — in the contemplation of a moth, a butterfly, a chrysalis, a stream of running water. I have felt it in the ocean; in the falling of a meteor. I have felt it in the glances of unusually aged people. And there are one or two stars in heaven — (one especially, a star of the sixth magnitude, double and changeable, to be found near the large star in Lyra) in a telescopic scrutiny of which I have been made aware of the feeling. I have been filled with it by certain sounds from stringed instruments, and not unfrequently by passages from books. [page 253:] Among innumerable other instances, I well remember something in a volume of Joseph Glanvill, which (perhaps merely from its quaintness — who shall say?) never failed to inspire me with the sentiment; — “And the will therein lieth, which dieth not. Who knoweth the mysteries of the will, with its vigor? For God is but a great will pervading all things by nature of its intentness. Man doth not yield him to the angels, nor unto death utterly, save only through the weakness of his feeble will.”

Length of years, and subsequent reflection, have enabled me to trace, indeed, some remote connection between this passage in the English moralist and a portion of the character of Ligeia. An intensity in thought, action, or speech, was possibly, in her, a result, or at least an index, of that gigantic volition which, during our long intercourse, failed to give other and more immediate evidence of its existence. Of all the women whom I have ever known, she, the outwardly calm, the ever-placid Ligeia, was the most violently a prey to the tumultuous vultures of stern passion. And of such passion I could form no estimate, save by the miraculous expansion of those eyes which at once so delighted and appalled me — by the almost magical melody, modulation, distinctness and placidity of her very low voice — and by the fierce energy (rendered doubly effective by contrast with her manner of utterance) of the wild words which she habitually uttered.

I have spoken of the learning of Ligeia: it was immense — such as I have never known in woman. In the classical tongues was she deeply proficient, and as far as my own acquaintance extended in regard to the modern dialects of Europe, I have never known her at fault. Indeed upon any theme of the most admired, [page 254:] because simply the most abstruse of the boasted erudition of the academy, have I ever found Ligeia at fault? How singularly — how thrillingly, this one point in the nature of my wife has forced itself, at this late period only, upon my attention! I said her knowledge was such as I have never known in woman — but where breathes the man who has traversed, and successfully, all the wide areas of moral, physical, and mathematical science? I saw not then what I now clearly perceive, that the acquisitions of Ligeia were gigantic, were astounding; yet I was sufficiently aware of her infinite supremacy to resign myself, with a child-like confidence, to her guidance through the chaotic world of metaphysical investigation at which I was most busily occupied during the earlier years of our marriage. With how vast a triumph — with how vivid a delight — with how much of all that is ethereal in hope — did I feel, as she bent over me in studies but little sought — but less known — that delicious vista by slow degrees expanding before me, down whose long, gorgeous, and all untrodden path, I might at length pass onward to the goal of a wisdom too divinely precious not to be forbidden!

How poignant, then, must have been the grief with which, after some years, I beheld my well-grounded expectations take wings to themselves and fly away! Without Ligeia I was but as a child groping benighted. Her presence, her readings alone, rendered vividly luminous the many mysteries of the transcendentalism in which we were immersed. Wanting the radiant lustre of her eyes, letters, lambent and golden, grew duller than Saturnian lead. And now those eyes shone less and less frequently upon the pages over which I pored. Ligeia grew ill. The wild eyes blazed with [page 255:] a too — too glorious effulgence; the pale fingers became of the transparent waxen hue of the grave, and the blue veins upon the lofty forehead swelled and sank impetuously with the tides of the most gentle emotion. I saw that she must die — and I struggled desperately in spirit with the grim Azrael. And the struggles of the passionate wife were, to my astonishment, even more energetic than my own. There had been much in her stern nature to impress me with the belief that, to her, death would have come without its terrors; — but not so. Words are impotent to convey any just idea of the fierceness of resistance with which she wrestled with the Shadow. I groaned in anguish at the pitiable spectacle. I would have soothed — I would have reasoned; but, in the intensity of her wild desire for life, — for life — but for life — solace and reason were alike the uttermost of folly. Yet not until the last instance, amid the most convulsive writhings of her fierce spirit, was shaken the external placidity of her demeanor. Her voice grew more gentle — grew more low — yet I would not wish to dwell upon the wild meaning of the quietly uttered words. My brain reeled as I hearkened entranced, to a melody more than mortal — to assumptions and aspirations which mortality had never before known.

That she loved me I should not have doubted; and I might have been easily aware that, in a bosom such as hers, love would have reigned no ordinary passion. But in death only, was I fully impressed with the strength of her affection. For long hours, detaining my hand, would she pour out before me the overflowing of a heart whose more than passionate devotion amounted to idolatry. How had I deserved to be so blessed by such confessions? — how had I deserved to [page 256:] be so cursed with the removal of my beloved in the hour of her making them? But upon this subject I cannot bear to dilate. Let me say only, that in Ligeia’s more than womanly abandonment to a love, alas! all unmerited, all unworthily bestowed, I at length recognized the principle of her longing with so wildly earnest a desire for the life which was now fleeing so rapidly away. It is this wild longing — it is this eager vehemence of desire for life — but for life — that I have no power to portray — no utterance capable of expressing.

At high noon of the night in which she departed, beckoning me, peremptorily, to her side, she bade me repeat certain verses composed by herself not many days before. I obeyed her. — They were these:

Lo! ‘tis a gala night

Within the lonesome latter years!

An angel throng, bewinged, bedight

In veils, and drowned in tears,

Sit in a theatre, to see

A play of hopes and fears,

While the orchestra breathes fitfully

The music of the spheres.


Mimes, in the form of God on high,

Mutter and mumble low,

And hither and thither fly —

Mere puppets they, who come and go

At bidding of vast formless things

That shift the scenery to and fro,

Flapping from out their Condor wings

Invisible Wo!


That motley drama! — oh, be sure

It shall not be forgot!

With its Phantom chased forevermore,

By a crowd that seize it not, [page 257:]

Through a circle that ever returneth in

To the self-same spot,

And much of Madness and more of Sin,

And Horror the soul of the plot.


But see, amid the mimic rout,

A crawling shape intrude!

A blood-red thing that writhes from out

The scenic solitude!

It writhes! — it writhes! — with mortal pangs

The mimes become its food,

And the seraphs sob at vermin fangs

In human gore imbued.


Out — out are the lights — out all!

And over each quivering form,

The curtain, a funeral pall,

Comes down with the rush of a storm,

And the angels, all pallid and wan,

Uprising, unveiling, affirm

That the play is the tragedy, “Man,”

And its hero the Conqueror Worm.

“O God!” half shrieked Ligeia, leaping to her feet and extending her arms aloft with a spasmodic movement, as I made an end of these lines — “O God! O Divine Father! — shall these things be undeviatingly so? — shall this Conqueror be not once conquered? Are we not part and parcel in Thee? Who — who knoweth the mysteries of the will with its vigor? Man doth not yield him to the angels, nor unto death utterly, save only through the weakness of his feeble will.”

And now, as if exhausted with emotion, she suffered her white arms to fall, and returned solemnly to her bed of Death. And as she breathed her last sighs, there [page 258:] came mingled with them a low murmur from her lips. I bent to them my ear and distinguished, again, the concluding words of the passage in Glanvill — “Man doth not yield him to the angels, nor unto death utterly, save only through the weakness of his feeble will.”

She died; — and I, crushed into the very dust with sorrow, could no longer endure the lonely desolation of my dwelling in the dim and decaying city by the Rhine. I had no lack of what the world calls wealth. Ligeia had brought me far more, very far more than ordinarily falls to the lot of mortals. After a few months, therefore, of weary and aimless wandering, I purchased, and put in some repair, an abbey, which I shall not name, in one of the wildest and least frequented portions of fair England. The gloomy and dreary grandeur of the building, the almost savage aspect of the domain, the many melancholy and time-honored memories connected with both, had much in unison with the feelings of utter abandonment which had driven me into that remote and unsocial region of the country. Yet although the external abbey, with its verdant decay hanging about it, suffered but little alteration, I gave way, with a child-like perversity, and perchance with a faint hope of alleviating my sorrows, to a display of more than regal magnificence within. — For such follies, even in childhood, I had imbibed a taste and now they came back to me as if in the dotage of grief. Alas, I feel how much even of incipient madness might have been discovered in the gorgeous and fantastic draperies, in the solemn carvings of Egypt, in the wild cornices and furniture, in the Bedlam patterns of the carpets of tufted gold! I had become a bounden slave in the trammels of opium, and my labors and my orders had taken a coloring from my dreams. But [page 259:] these absurdities I must not pause to detail. Let me speak only of that one chamber, ever accursed, whither in a moment of mental alienation, I led from the altar as my bride — as the successor of the unforgotten Ligeia — the fair-haired and blue-eyed Lady Rowena Trevanion, of Tremaine.

There is no individual portion of the architecture and decoration of that bridal chamber which is not now visibly before me. Where were the souls of the haughty family of the bride, when, through thirst of gold, they permitted to pass the threshold of an apartment so bedecked, a maiden and a daughter so beloved? I have said that I minutely remember the details of the chamber — yet I am sadly forgetful on topics of deep moment — and here there was no system, no keeping, in the fantastic display, to take hold upon the memory. The room lay in a high turret of the castellated abbey, was pentagonal in shape, and of capacious size. Occupying the whole southern face of the pentagon was the sole window — an immense sheet of unbroken glass from Venice — a single pane, and tinted of a leaden hue, so that the rays of either the sun or moon, passing through it, fell with a ghastly lustre on the objects within. Over the upper portion of this huge window, extended the trellice-work of an aged vine, which clambered up the massy walls of the turret. The ceiling, of gloomy-looking oak, was excessively lofty, vaulted, and elaborately fretted with the wildest and most grotesque specimens of a semi-Gothic, semi-Druidical device. From out the most central recess of this melancholy vaulting, depended, by a single chain of gold with long links, a huge censer of the same metal, Saracenic in pattern, and with many perforations so contrived that there writhed in and out [page 260:] of them, as if endued with a serpent vitality, a continual succession of parti-colored fires.

Some few ottomans and golden candelabra, of Eastern figure, were in various stations about — and there was the couch, too — the bridal couch — of an Indian model, and low, and sculptured of solid ebony, with a pall-like canopy above. In each of the angles of the chamber stood on end a gigantic sarcophagus of black granite, from the tombs of the kings over against Luxor, with their aged lids full of immemorial sculpture. But in the draping of the apartment lay, alas! the chief phantasy of all. The lofty walls, gigantic in height — even unproportionably so — were hung from summit to foot, in vast folds, with a heavy and massive-looking tapestry — tapestry of a material which was found alike as a carpet on the floor, as a covering for the ottomans and the ebony bed, as a canopy for the bed, and as the gorgeous volutes of the curtains which partially shaded the window. The material was the richest cloth of gold. It was spotted all over, at irregular intervals, with arabesque figures, about a foot in diameter, and wrought upon the cloth in patterns of the most jetty black. But these figures partook of the true character of the arabesque only when regarded from a single point of view. By a contrivance now common, and indeed traceable to a very remote period of antiquity, they were made changeable in aspect. To one entering the room, they bore the appearance of simple monstrosities; but upon a farther advance, this appearance gradually departed; and step by step, as the visiter moved his station in the chamber, he saw himself surrounded by an endless succession of the ghastly forms which belong to the superstition of the Norman, or arise in the guilty slumbers of the monk. The [page 261:] phantasmagoric effect was vastly heightened by the artificial introduction of a strong continual current of wind behind the draperies — giving a hideous and uneasy animation to the whole.

In halls such as these — in a bridal chamber such as this — I passed, with the Lady of Tremaine, the unhallowed hours of the first month of our marriage — passed them with but little disquietude. That my wife dreaded the fierce moodiness of my temper — that she shunned me and loved me but little — I could not help perceiving; but it gave me rather pleasure than otherwise. I loathed her with a hatred belonging more to demon than to man. My memory flew back, (oh, with what intensity of regret!) to Ligeia, the beloved, the august, the beautiful, the entombed. I revelled in recollections of her purity, of her wisdom, of her lofty, her ethereal nature, of her passionate, her idolatrous love. Now, then, did my spirit fully and freely burn with more than all the fires of her own. In the excitement of my opium dreams (for I was habitually fettered in the shackles of the drug) I would call aloud upon her name, during the silence of the night, or among the sheltered recesses of the glens by day, as if, through the wild eagerness, the solemn passion, the consuming ardor of my longing for the departed, I could restore her to the pathway she had abandoned — ah, could it be forever? — upon the earth.

About the commencement of the second month of the marriage, the Lady Rowena was attacked with sudden illness, from which her recovery was slow. The fever which consumed her rendered her nights uneasy; and in her perturbed state of half-slumber, she spoke of sounds, and of motions, in and about the chamber of the turret, which I concluded had no origin [page 262:] save in the distemper of her fancy, or perhaps in the phantasmagoric influences of the chamber itself. She became at length convalescent — finally well. Yet but a brief period elapsed, ere a second more violent disorder again threw her upon a bed of suffering; and from this attack her frame, at all times feeble, never altogether recovered. Her illnesses were, after this epoch, of alarming character, and of more alarming recurrence, defying alike the knowledge and the great exertions of her physicians. With the increase of the chronic disease which had thus, apparently, taken too sure hold upon her constitution to be eradicated by human means, I could not fail to observe a similar increase in the nervous irritation of her temperament, and in her excitability by trivial causes of fear. She spoke again, and now more frequently and pertinaciously, of the sounds — of the slight sounds — and of the unusual motions among the tapestries, to which she had formerly alluded.

One night, near the closing in of September, she pressed this distressing subject with more than usual emphasis upon my attention. She had just awakened from an unquiet slumber, and I had been watching, with feelings half of anxiety, half of vague terror, the workings of her emaciated countenance. I sat by the side of her ebony bed, upon one of the ottomans of India. She partly arose, and spoke, in an earnest low whisper, of sounds which she then heard, but which I could not hear — of motions which she then saw, but which I could not perceive. The wind was rushing hurriedly behind the tapestries, and I wished to show her (what, let me confess it, I could not all believe) that those almost inarticulate breathings, and those very gentle variations of the figures upon the wall, were but [page 263:] the natural effects of that customary rushing of the wind. But a deadly pallor, overspreading her face, had proved to me that my exertions to reassure her would be fruitless. She appeared to be fainting, and no attendants were within call. I remembered where was deposited a decanter of light wine which had been ordered by her physicians, and hastened across the chamber to procure it. But, as I stepped beneath the light of the censer, two circumstances of a startling nature attracted my attention. I had felt that some palpable although invisible object had passed lightly by my person; and I saw that there lay upon the golden carpet, in the very middle of the rich lustre thrown from the censer, a shadow — a faint, indefinite shadow of angelic aspect — such as might be fancied for the shadow of a shade. But I was wild with the excitement of an immoderate dose of opium, and heeded these things but little, nor spoke of them to Rowena. Having found the wine, I recrossed the chamber, and poured out a goblet-ful, which I held to the lips of the fainting lady. She had now partially recovered, however, and took the vessel herself, while I sank upon an ottoman near me, with my eyes fastened upon her person. It was then that I became distinctly aware of a gentle foot-fall upon the carpet, and near the couch; and in a second thereafter, as Rowena was in the act of raising the wine to her lips, I saw, or may have dreamed that I saw, fall within the goblet, as if from some invisible spring in the atmosphere of the room, three or four large drops of a brilliant and ruby colored fluid. If this I saw — not so Rowena. She swallowed the wine unhesitatingly, and I forbore to speak to her of a circumstance which must, after all, I considered, have been but the suggestion of a vivid [page 264:]imagination, rendered morbidly active by the terror of the lady, by the opium, and by the hour.

Yet I cannot conceal it from my own perception that, immediately subsequent to the fall of the ruby-drops, a rapid change for the worse took place in the disorder of my wife; so that, on the third subsequent night, the hands of her menials prepared her for the tomb, and on the fourth, I sat alone, with her shrouded body, in that fantastic chamber which had received her as my bride. — Wild visions, opium-engendered, flitted, shadow-like, before me. I gazed with unquiet eye upon the sarcophagi in the angles of the room, upon the varying figures of the drapery, and upon the writhing of the parti-colored fires in the censer overhead. My eyes then fell, as I called to mind the circumstances of a former night, to the spot beneath the glare of the censer where I had seen the faint traces of the shadow. It was there, however, no longer; and breathing with greater freedom, I turned my glances to the pallid and rigid figure upon the bed. Then rushed upon me a thousand memories of Ligeia — and then came back upon my heart, with the turbulent violence of a flood, the whole of that unutterable wo with which I had regarded her thus enshrouded. The night waned; and still, with a bosom full of bitter thoughts of the one only and supremely beloved, I remained gazing upon the body of Rowena.

It might have been midnight, or perhaps earlier, or later, for I had taken no note of time, when a sob, low, gentle, but very distinct, startled me from my revery. — I felt that it came from the bed of ebony — the bed of death. I listened in an agony of superstitious terror — but there was no repetition of the sound. I strained my vision to detect any motion in the corpse [page 265:] — but there was not the slightest perceptible. Yet I could not have been deceived. I had heard the noise, however faint, and my soul was awakened within me. I resolutely and perseveringly kept my attention riveted upon the body. Many minutes elapsed before any circumstance occurred tending to throw light upon the mystery. At length it became evident that a slight, a very feeble, and barely noticeable tinge of color had flushed up within the cheeks, and along the sunken small veins of the eyelids. Through a species of unutterable horror and awe, for which the language of mortality has no sufficiently energetic expression, I felt my heart cease to beat, my limbs grow rigid where I sat. Yet a sense of duty finally operated to restore my self-possession. I could no longer doubt that we had been precipitate in our preparations — that Rowena still lived. It was necessary that some immediate exertion be made; yet the turret was altogether apart from the portion of the abbey tenanted by the servants — there were none within call — I had no means of summoning them to my aid without leaving the room for many minutes — and this I could not venture to do. I therefore struggled alone in my endeavors to call back the spirit still hovering. In a short period it was certain, however, that a relapse had taken place; the color disappeared from both eyelid and cheek, leaving a wanness even more than that of marble; the lips became doubly shrivelled and pinched up in the ghastly expression of death; a repulsive clamminess and coldness overspread rapidly the surface of the body; and all the usual rigorous stiffness immediately supervened. I fell back with a shudder upon the couch from which I had been so startlingly aroused, and again gave myself up to passionate waking visions of Ligeia. [page 266:]

An hour thus elapsed when (could it be possible?) I was a second time aware of some vague sound issuing from the region of the bed. I listened — in extremity of horror. The sound came again — it was a sigh. Rushing to the corpse, I saw — distinctly saw — a tremor upon the lips. In a minute afterward they relaxed, disclosing a bright line of the pearly teeth. Amazement now struggled in my bosom with the profound awe which had hitherto reigned there alone. I felt that my vision grew dim, that my reason wandered; and it was only by a violent effort that I at length succeeded in nerving myself to the task which duty thus once more had pointed out. There was now a partial glow upon the forehead and upon the cheek and throat; a perceptible warmth pervaded the whole frame; there was even a slight pulsation at the heart. The lady lived; and with redoubled ardor I betook myself to the task of restoration. I chafed and bathed the temples and the hands, and used every exertion which experience, and no little medical reading, could suggest. But in vain. Suddenly, the color fled, the pulsation ceased, the lips resumed the expression of the dead, and, in an instant afterward, the whole body took upon itself the icy chilliness, the livid hue, the intense rigidity, the sunken outline, and all the loathsome peculiarities of that which has been, for many days, a tenant of the tomb.

And again I sunk into visions of Ligeia — and again, (what marvel that I shudder while I write?) again there reached my ears a low sob from the region of the ebony bed. But why shall I minutely detail the unspeakable horrors of that night? Why shall I pause to relate how, time after time, until near the period of the gray dawn, this hideous drama of revivification was [page 267:] repeated; how each terrific relapse was only into a sterner and apparently more irredeemable death; how each agony wore the aspect of a struggle with some invisible foe; and how each struggle was succeeded by I know not what of wild change in the personal appearance of the corpse? Let me hurry to a conclusion.

The greater part of the fearful night had worn away, and she who had been dead, once again stirred — and now more vigorously than hitherto, although arousing from a dissolution more appalling in its utter hopelessness than any. I had long ceased to struggle or to move, and remained sitting rigidly upon the ottoman, a helpless prey to a whirl of violent emotions, of which extreme awe was perhaps the least terrible, the least consuming. The corpse, I repeat, stirred, and now more vigorously than before. The hues of life flushed up with unwonted energy into the countenance — the limbs relaxed — and, save that the eyelids were yet pressed heavily together, and that the bandages and draperies of the grave still imparted their charnel character to the figure, I might have dreamed that Rowena had indeed shaken off, utterly, the fetters of Death. But if this idea was not, even then, altogether adopted, I could at least doubt no longer, when, arising from the bed, tottering, with feeble steps, with closed eyes, and with the manner of one bewildered in a dream, the thing that was enshrouded advanced bodily and palpably into the middle of the apartment.

I trembled not — I stirred not — for a crowd of unutterable fancies connected with the air, the stature, the demeanor of the figure, rushing hurriedly through my brain, had paralyzed — had chilled me into stone. I stirred not — but gazed upon the apparition. There [page 268:] was a mad disorder in my thoughts — a tumult unappeasable. Could it, indeed, be the living Rowena who confronted me? Could it indeed be Rowena at all — the fair-haired, the blue-eyed Lady Rowena Trevanion of Tremaine? Why, why should I doubt it? The bandage lay heavily about the mouth — but then might it not be the mouth of the breathing Lady of Tremaine? And the cheeks — there were the roses as in her noon of life — yes, these might indeed be the fair cheeks of the living Lady of Tremaine. And the chin, with its dimples, as in health, might it not be hers? — but hadshe then grown taller since her malady? What inexpressible madness seized me with that thought? One bound, and I had reached her feet! Shrinking from my touch, she let fall from her head the ghastly cerements which had confined it, and there streamed forth, into the rushing atmosphere of the chamber, huge masses of long and dishevelled hair; it was blacker than the wings of the midnight! And now slowly opened the eyes of the figure which stood before me. “Here then, at least,” I shrieked aloud, “can I never — can I never be mistaken — these are the full, and the black, and the wild eyes — of my lost love — of the lady — of the Lady Ligeia!

To Be Continued…12/01/15


Firsov-Kubla Ancestral Voices


Copyright 2015

By Felina Silver Robinson


A walk deep in the woods

To empty my head

Filled with the day’s voices

That had too much to say

There’s no time to think

Or question why

Always doing

Without breathing

Chances taken

Full of risks

No precautions

I just can’t sit

The smell of pine cones tickle my nose

While wood chips crunch beneath my feet

The bird’s sweet song bring me great focus

To put all things back in prospective

Now once again I’ve found focus

And calmly return

To conquer

The remains of the day


Copyright 2015

By Felina Silver Robinson


Some fade quickly

Some remain crystal clear

Some bring me to tears

While others bring me cheer

Sometimes I lay happily dreaming

So desperately wanting more than I have

Wishing for something special

To carry me through the night

Comfort seems hard to come by

Especially when I’m alone

The darkness fills my room

In the absence of a moon

Where the stars have already departed

The house feels alive and restless

Just as I do

Again I lay back and close my eyes

Waiting for my dreams to take over

Making memories

That I can hold onto

For Life

Coriolanus, ACT IV, SCENE I. Rome.  Before a gate of the city.

Come, leave your tears: a brief farewell: the beast
With many heads butts me away. Nay, mother,
Where is your ancient courage? you were used
To say extremity was the trier of spirits;
That common chances common men could bear;
That when the sea was calm all boats alike
Show’d mastership in floating; fortune’s blows,
When most struck home, being gentle wounded, craves
A noble cunning: you were used to load me
With precepts that would make invincible
The heart that conn’d them.

O heavens! O heavens!

Nay! prithee, woman,–

Now the red pestilence strike all trades in Rome,
And occupations perish!

What, what, what!
I shall be loved when I am lack’d. Nay, mother.
Resume that spirit, when you were wont to say,
If you had been the wife of Hercules,
Six of his labours you’ld have done, and saved
Your husband so much sweat. Cominius,
Droop not; adieu. Farewell, my wife, my mother:
I’ll do well yet. Thou old and true Menenius,
Thy tears are salter than a younger man’s,
And venomous to thine eyes. My sometime general,
I have seen thee stem, and thou hast oft beheld
Heart-hardening spectacles; tell these sad women
‘Tis fond to wail inevitable strokes,
As ’tis to laugh at ’em. My mother, you wot well
My hazards still have been your solace: and
Believe’t not lightly–though I go alone,
Like to a lonely dragon, that his fen
Makes fear’d and talk’d of more than seen–your son
Will or exceed the common or be caught
With cautelous baits and practise.

My first son.
Whither wilt thou go? Take good Cominius
With thee awhile: determine on some course,
More than a wild exposture to each chance
That starts i’ the way before thee.

O the gods!

I’ll follow thee a month, devise with thee
Where thou shalt rest, that thou mayst hear of us
And we of thee: so if the time thrust forth
A cause for thy repeal, we shall not send
O’er the vast world to seek a single man,
And lose advantage, which doth ever cool
I’ the absence of the needer.

Fare ye well:
Thou hast years upon thee; and thou art too full
Of the wars’ surfeits, to go rove with one
That’s yet unbruised: bring me but out at gate.
Come, my sweet wife, my dearest mother, and
My friends of noble touch, when I am forth,
Bid me farewell, and smile. I pray you, come.
While I remain above the ground, you shall
Hear from me still, and never of me aught
But what is like me formerly.

That’s worthily
As any ear can hear. Come, let’s not weep.
If I could shake off but one seven years
From these old arms and legs, by the good gods,
I’ld with thee every foot.

Give me thy hand: Come.


SCENE II. The same. A street near the gate.

Enter SICINIUS, BRUTUS, and an AEdile
Bid them all home; he’s gone, and we’ll no further.
The nobility are vex’d, whom we see have sided
In his behalf.

Now we have shown our power,
Let us seem humbler after it is done
Than when it was a-doing.

Bid them home:
Say their great enemy is gone, and they
Stand in their ancient strength.

Dismiss them home.

Exit AEdile

Here comes his mother.

Let’s not meet her.


They say she’s mad.

They have ta’en note of us: keep on your way.


O, ye’re well met: the hoarded plague o’ the gods
Requite your love!

Peace, peace; be not so loud.

If that I could for weeping, you should hear,–
Nay, and you shall hear some.


Will you be gone?

[To SICINIUS] You shall stay too: I would I had the power
To say so to my husband.

Are you mankind?

Ay, fool; is that a shame? Note but this fool.
Was not a man my father? Hadst thou foxship
To banish him that struck more blows for Rome
Than thou hast spoken words?

O blessed heavens!

More noble blows than ever thou wise words;
And for Rome’s good. I’ll tell thee what; yet go:
Nay, but thou shalt stay too: I would my son
Were in Arabia, and thy tribe before him,
His good sword in his hand.

What then?

What then!
He’ld make an end of thy posterity.

Bastards and all.
Good man, the wounds that he does bear for Rome!

Come, come, peace.

I would he had continued to his country
As he began, and not unknit himself
The noble knot he made.

I would he had.

‘I would he had’! ‘Twas you incensed the rabble:
Cats, that can judge as fitly of his worth
As I can of those mysteries which heaven
Will not have earth to know.

Pray, let us go.

Now, pray, sir, get you gone:
You have done a brave deed. Ere you go, hear this:–
As far as doth the Capitol exceed
The meanest house in Rome, so far my son–
This lady’s husband here, this, do you see–
Whom you have banish’d, does exceed you all.

Well, well, we’ll leave you.

Why stay we to be baited
With one that wants her wits?

Take my prayers with you.

Exeunt Tribunes

I would the gods had nothing else to do
But to confirm my curses! Could I meet ’em
But once a-day, it would unclog my heart
Of what lies heavy to’t.

You have told them home;
And, by my troth, you have cause. You’ll sup with me?

Anger’s my meat; I sup upon myself,
And so shall starve with feeding. Come, let’s go:
Leave this faint puling and lament as I do,
In anger, Juno-like. Come, come, come.

Fie, fie, fie!


SCENE III. A highway between Rome and Antium.

Enter a Roman and a Volsce, meeting
I know you well, sir, and you know
me: your name, I think, is Adrian.

It is so, sir: truly, I have forgot you.

I am a Roman; and my services are,
as you are, against ’em: know you me yet?

Nicanor? no.

The same, sir.

You had more beard when I last saw you; but your
favour is well approved by your tongue. What’s the
news in Rome? I have a note from the Volscian state,
to find you out there: you have well saved me a
day’s journey.

There hath been in Rome strange insurrections; the
people against the senators, patricians, and nobles.

Hath been! is it ended, then? Our state thinks not
so: they are in a most warlike preparation, and
hope to come upon them in the heat of their division.

The main blaze of it is past, but a small thing
would make it flame again: for the nobles receive
so to heart the banishment of that worthy
Coriolanus, that they are in a ripe aptness to take
all power from the people and to pluck from them
their tribunes for ever. This lies glowing, I can
tell you, and is almost mature for the violent
breaking out.

Coriolanus banished!

Banished, sir.

You will be welcome with this intelligence, Nicanor.

The day serves well for them now. I have heard it
said, the fittest time to corrupt a man’s wife is
when she’s fallen out with her husband. Your noble
Tullus Aufidius will appear well in these wars, his
great opposer, Coriolanus, being now in no request
of his country.

He cannot choose. I am most fortunate, thus
accidentally to encounter you: you have ended my
business, and I will merrily accompany you home.

I shall, between this and supper, tell you most
strange things from Rome; all tending to the good of
their adversaries. Have you an army ready, say you?

A most royal one; the centurions and their charges,
distinctly billeted, already in the entertainment,
and to be on foot at an hour’s warning.

I am joyful to hear of their readiness, and am the
man, I think, that shall set them in present action.
So, sir, heartily well met, and most glad of your company.

You take my part from me, sir; I have the most cause
to be glad of yours.

Well, let us go together.


SCENE IV. Antium. Before Aufidius’s house.

Enter CORIOLANUS in mean apparel, disguised and muffled
A goodly city is this Antium. City,
‘Tis I that made thy widows: many an heir
Of these fair edifices ‘fore my wars
Have I heard groan and drop: then know me not,
Lest that thy wives with spits and boys with stones
In puny battle slay me.

Enter a Citizen

Save you, sir.

And you.

Direct me, if it be your will,
Where great Aufidius lies: is he in Antium?

He is, and feasts the nobles of the state
At his house this night.

Which is his house, beseech you?

This, here before you.

Thank you, sir: farewell.

Exit Citizen

O world, thy slippery turns! Friends now fast sworn,
Whose double bosoms seem to wear one heart,
Whose house, whose bed, whose meal, and exercise,
Are still together, who twin, as ’twere, in love
Unseparable, shall within this hour,
On a dissension of a doit, break out
To bitterest enmity: so, fellest foes,
Whose passions and whose plots have broke their sleep,
To take the one the other, by some chance,
Some trick not worth an egg, shall grow dear friends
And interjoin their issues. So with me:
My birth-place hate I, and my love’s upon
This enemy town. I’ll enter: if he slay me,
He does fair justice; if he give me way,
I’ll do his country service.


SCENE V. The same. A hall in Aufidius’s house.

Music within. Enter a Servingman
First Servingman
Wine, wine, wine! What service
is here! I think our fellows are asleep.


Enter a second Servingman

Second Servingman
Where’s Cotus? my master calls
for him. Cotus!



A goodly house: the feast smells well; but I
Appear not like a guest.

Re-enter the first Servingman

First Servingman
What would you have, friend? whence are you?
Here’s no place for you: pray, go to the door.


I have deserved no better entertainment,
In being Coriolanus.

Re-enter second Servingman

Second Servingman
Whence are you, sir? Has the porter his eyes in his
head; that he gives entrance to such companions?
Pray, get you out.


Second Servingman
Away! get you away.

Now thou’rt troublesome.

Second Servingman
Are you so brave? I’ll have you talked with anon.

Enter a third Servingman. The first meets him

Third Servingman
What fellow’s this?

First Servingman
A strange one as ever I looked on: I cannot get him
out of the house: prithee, call my master to him.


Third Servingman
What have you to do here, fellow? Pray you, avoid
the house.

Let me but stand; I will not hurt your hearth.

Third Servingman
What are you?

A gentleman.

Third Servingman
A marvellous poor one.

True, so I am.

Third Servingman
Pray you, poor gentleman, take up some other
station; here’s no place for you; pray you, avoid: come.

Follow your function, go, and batten on cold bits.

Pushes him away

Third Servingman
What, you will not? Prithee, tell my master what a
strange guest he has here.

Second Servingman
And I shall.


Third Servingman
Where dwellest thou?

Under the canopy.

Third Servingman
Under the canopy!


Third Servingman
Where’s that?

I’ the city of kites and crows.

Third Servingman
I’ the city of kites and crows! What an ass it is!
Then thou dwellest with daws too?

No, I serve not thy master.

Third Servingman
How, sir! do you meddle with my master?

Ay; ’tis an honester service than to meddle with thy
mistress. Thou pratest, and pratest; serve with thy
trencher, hence!

Beats him away. Exit third Servingman

Enter AUFIDIUS with the second Servingman

Where is this fellow?

Second Servingman
Here, sir: I’ld have beaten him like a dog, but for
disturbing the lords within.


Whence comest thou? what wouldst thou? thy name?
Why speak’st not? speak, man: what’s thy name?

If, Tullus,


Not yet thou knowest me, and, seeing me, dost not
Think me for the man I am, necessity
Commands me name myself.

What is thy name?

A name unmusical to the Volscians’ ears,
And harsh in sound to thine.

Say, what’s thy name?
Thou hast a grim appearance, and thy face
Bears a command in’t; though thy tackle’s torn.
Thou show’st a noble vessel: what’s thy name?

Prepare thy brow to frown: know’st
thou me yet?

I know thee not: thy name?

My name is Caius Marcius, who hath done
To thee particularly and to all the Volsces
Great hurt and mischief; thereto witness may
My surname, Coriolanus: the painful service,
The extreme dangers and the drops of blood
Shed for my thankless country are requited
But with that surname; a good memory,
And witness of the malice and displeasure
Which thou shouldst bear me: only that name remains;
The cruelty and envy of the people,
Permitted by our dastard nobles, who
Have all forsook me, hath devour’d the rest;
And suffer’d me by the voice of slaves to be
Whoop’d out of Rome. Now this extremity
Hath brought me to thy hearth; not out of hope–
Mistake me not–to save my life, for if
I had fear’d death, of all the men i’ the world
I would have ‘voided thee, but in mere spite,
To be full quit of those my banishers,
Stand I before thee here. Then if thou hast
A heart of wreak in thee, that wilt revenge
Thine own particular wrongs and stop those maims
Of shame seen through thy country, speed
thee straight,
And make my misery serve thy turn: so use it
That my revengeful services may prove
As benefits to thee, for I will fight
Against my canker’d country with the spleen
Of all the under fiends. But if so be
Thou darest not this and that to prove more fortunes
Thou’rt tired, then, in a word, I also am
Longer to live most weary, and present
My throat to thee and to thy ancient malice;
Which not to cut would show thee but a fool,
Since I have ever follow’d thee with hate,
Drawn tuns of blood out of thy country’s breast,
And cannot live but to thy shame, unless
It be to do thee service.

O Marcius, Marcius!
Each word thou hast spoke hath weeded from my heart
A root of ancient envy. If Jupiter
Should from yond cloud speak divine things,
And say ‘Tis true,’ I’ld not believe them more
Than thee, all noble Marcius. Let me twine
Mine arms about that body, where against
My grained ash an hundred times hath broke
And scarr’d the moon with splinters: here I clip
The anvil of my sword, and do contest
As hotly and as nobly with thy love
As ever in ambitious strength I did
Contend against thy valour. Know thou first,
I loved the maid I married; never man
Sigh’d truer breath; but that I see thee here,
Thou noble thing! more dances my rapt heart
Than when I first my wedded mistress saw
Bestride my threshold. Why, thou Mars! I tell thee,
We have a power on foot; and I had purpose
Once more to hew thy target from thy brawn,
Or lose mine arm fort: thou hast beat me out
Twelve several times, and I have nightly since
Dreamt of encounters ‘twixt thyself and me;
We have been down together in my sleep,
Unbuckling helms, fisting each other’s throat,
And waked half dead with nothing. Worthy Marcius,
Had we no quarrel else to Rome, but that
Thou art thence banish’d, we would muster all
From twelve to seventy, and pouring war
Into the bowels of ungrateful Rome,
Like a bold flood o’er-bear. O, come, go in,
And take our friendly senators by the hands;
Who now are here, taking their leaves of me,
Who am prepared against your territories,
Though not for Rome itself.

You bless me, gods!

Therefore, most absolute sir, if thou wilt have
The leading of thine own revenges, take
The one half of my commission; and set down–
As best thou art experienced, since thou know’st
Thy country’s strength and weakness,–thine own ways;
Whether to knock against the gates of Rome,
Or rudely visit them in parts remote,
To fright them, ere destroy. But come in:
Let me commend thee first to those that shall
Say yea to thy desires. A thousand welcomes!
And more a friend than e’er an enemy;
Yet, Marcius, that was much. Your hand: most welcome!

Exeunt CORIOLANUS and AUFIDIUS. The two Servingmen come forward

First Servingman
Here’s a strange alteration!

Second Servingman
By my hand, I had thought to have strucken him with
a cudgel; and yet my mind gave me his clothes made a
false report of him.

First Servingman
What an arm he has! he turned me about with his
finger and his thumb, as one would set up a top.

Second Servingman
Nay, I knew by his face that there was something in
him: he had, sir, a kind of face, methought,–I
cannot tell how to term it.

First Servingman
He had so; looking as it were–would I were hanged,
but I thought there was more in him than I could think.

Second Servingman
So did I, I’ll be sworn: he is simply the rarest
man i’ the world.

First Servingman
I think he is: but a greater soldier than he you wot on.

Second Servingman
Who, my master?

First Servingman
Nay, it’s no matter for that.

Second Servingman
Worth six on him.

First Servingman
Nay, not so neither: but I take him to be the
greater soldier.

Second Servingman
Faith, look you, one cannot tell how to say that:
for the defence of a town, our general is excellent.

First Servingman
Ay, and for an assault too.

Re-enter third Servingman

Third Servingman
O slaves, I can tell you news,– news, you rascals!

First Servingman Second Servingman
What, what, what? let’s partake.

Third Servingman
I would not be a Roman, of all nations; I had as
lieve be a condemned man.

First Servingman Second Servingman
Wherefore? wherefore?

Third Servingman
Why, here’s he that was wont to thwack our general,
Caius Marcius.

First Servingman
Why do you say ‘thwack our general ‘?

Third Servingman
I do not say ‘thwack our general;’ but he was always
good enough for him.

Second Servingman
Come, we are fellows and friends: he was ever too
hard for him; I have heard him say so himself.

First Servingman
He was too hard for him directly, to say the troth
on’t: before Corioli he scotched him and notched
him like a carbon ado.

Second Servingman
An he had been cannibally given, he might have
broiled and eaten him too.

First Servingman
But, more of thy news?

Third Servingman
Why, he is so made on here within, as if he were son
and heir to Mars; set at upper end o’ the table; no
question asked him by any of the senators, but they
stand bald before him: our general himself makes a
mistress of him: sanctifies himself with’s hand and
turns up the white o’ the eye to his discourse. But
the bottom of the news is that our general is cut i’
the middle and but one half of what he was
yesterday; for the other has half, by the entreaty
and grant of the whole table. He’ll go, he says,
and sowl the porter of Rome gates by the ears: he
will mow all down before him, and leave his passage polled.

Second Servingman
And he’s as like to do’t as any man I can imagine.

Third Servingman
Do’t! he will do’t; for, look you, sir, he has as
many friends as enemies; which friends, sir, as it
were, durst not, look you, sir, show themselves, as
we term it, his friends whilst he’s in directitude.

First Servingman
Directitude! what’s that?

Third Servingman
But when they shall see, sir, his crest up again,
and the man in blood, they will out of their
burrows, like conies after rain, and revel all with

First Servingman
But when goes this forward?

Third Servingman
To-morrow; to-day; presently; you shall have the
drum struck up this afternoon: ’tis, as it were, a
parcel of their feast, and to be executed ere they
wipe their lips.

Second Servingman
Why, then we shall have a stirring world again.
This peace is nothing, but to rust iron, increase
tailors, and breed ballad-makers.

First Servingman
Let me have war, say I; it exceeds peace as far as
day does night; it’s spritely, waking, audible, and
full of vent. Peace is a very apoplexy, lethargy;
mulled, deaf, sleepy, insensible; a getter of more
bastard children than war’s a destroyer of men.

Second Servingman
‘Tis so: and as war, in some sort, may be said to
be a ravisher, so it cannot be denied but peace is a
great maker of cuckolds.

First Servingman
Ay, and it makes men hate one another.

Third Servingman
Reason; because they then less need one another.
The wars for my money. I hope to see Romans as cheap
as Volscians. They are rising, they are rising.

In, in, in, in!


SCENE VI. Rome. A public place.

We hear not of him, neither need we fear him;
His remedies are tame i’ the present peace
And quietness of the people, which before
Were in wild hurry. Here do we make his friends
Blush that the world goes well, who rather had,
Though they themselves did suffer by’t, behold
Dissentious numbers pestering streets than see
Our tradesmen with in their shops and going
About their functions friendly.

We stood to’t in good time.


Is this Menenius?

‘Tis he,’tis he: O, he is grown most kind of late.

Both Tribunes
Hail sir!

Hail to you both!

Your Coriolanus
Is not much miss’d, but with his friends:
The commonwealth doth stand, and so would do,
Were he more angry at it.

All’s well; and might have been much better, if
He could have temporized.

Where is he, hear you?

Nay, I hear nothing: his mother and his wife
Hear nothing from him.

Enter three or four Citizens

The gods preserve you both!

God-den, our neighbours.

God-den to you all, god-den to you all.

First Citizen
Ourselves, our wives, and children, on our knees,
Are bound to pray for you both.

Live, and thrive!

Farewell, kind neighbours: we wish’d Coriolanus
Had loved you as we did.

Now the gods keep you!

Both Tribunes
Farewell, farewell.

Exeunt Citizens

This is a happier and more comely time
Than when these fellows ran about the streets,
Crying confusion.

Caius Marcius was
A worthy officer i’ the war; but insolent,
O’ercome with pride, ambitious past all thinking,

And affecting one sole throne,
Without assistance.

I think not so.

We should by this, to all our lamentation,
If he had gone forth consul, found it so.

The gods have well prevented it, and Rome
Sits safe and still without him.

Enter an AEdile

Worthy tribunes,
There is a slave, whom we have put in prison,
Reports, the Volsces with two several powers
Are enter’d in the Roman territories,
And with the deepest malice of the war
Destroy what lies before ’em.

‘Tis Aufidius,
Who, hearing of our Marcius’ banishment,
Thrusts forth his horns again into the world;
Which were inshell’d when Marcius stood for Rome,
And durst not once peep out.

Come, what talk you
Of Marcius?

Go see this rumourer whipp’d. It cannot be
The Volsces dare break with us.

Cannot be!
We have record that very well it can,
And three examples of the like have been
Within my age. But reason with the fellow,
Before you punish him, where he heard this,
Lest you shall chance to whip your information
And beat the messenger who bids beware
Of what is to be dreaded.

Tell not me:
I know this cannot be.

Not possible.

Enter a Messenger

The nobles in great earnestness are going
All to the senate-house: some news is come
That turns their countenances.

‘Tis this slave;–
Go whip him, ‘fore the people’s eyes:–his raising;
Nothing but his report.

Yes, worthy sir,
The slave’s report is seconded; and more,
More fearful, is deliver’d.

What more fearful?

It is spoke freely out of many mouths–
How probable I do not know–that Marcius,
Join’d with Aufidius, leads a power ‘gainst Rome,
And vows revenge as spacious as between
The young’st and oldest thing.

This is most likely!

Raised only, that the weaker sort may wish
Good Marcius home again.

The very trick on’t.

This is unlikely:
He and Aufidius can no more atone
Than violentest contrariety.

Enter a second Messenger

Second Messenger
You are sent for to the senate:
A fearful army, led by Caius Marcius
Associated with Aufidius, rages
Upon our territories; and have already
O’erborne their way, consumed with fire, and took
What lay before them.


O, you have made good work!

What news? what news?

You have holp to ravish your own daughters and
To melt the city leads upon your pates,
To see your wives dishonour’d to your noses,–

What’s the news? what’s the news?

Your temples burned in their cement, and
Your franchises, whereon you stood, confined
Into an auger’s bore.

Pray now, your news?
You have made fair work, I fear me.–Pray, your news?–
If Marcius should be join’d with Volscians,–

He is their god: he leads them like a thing
Made by some other deity than nature,
That shapes man better; and they follow him,
Against us brats, with no less confidence
Than boys pursuing summer butterflies,
Or butchers killing flies.

You have made good work,
You and your apron-men; you that stood so up much
on the voice of occupation and
The breath of garlic-eaters!

He will shake
Your Rome about your ears.

As Hercules
Did shake down mellow fruit.
You have made fair work!

But is this true, sir?

Ay; and you’ll look pale
Before you find it other. All the regions
Do smilingly revolt; and who resist
Are mock’d for valiant ignorance,
And perish constant fools. Who is’t can blame him?
Your enemies and his find something in him.

We are all undone, unless
The noble man have mercy.

Who shall ask it?
The tribunes cannot do’t for shame; the people
Deserve such pity of him as the wolf
Does of the shepherds: for his best friends, if they
Should say ‘Be good to Rome,’ they charged him even
As those should do that had deserved his hate,
And therein show’d like enemies.

‘Tis true:
If he were putting to my house the brand
That should consume it, I have not the face
To say ‘Beseech you, cease.’ You have made fair hands,
You and your crafts! you have crafted fair!

You have brought
A trembling upon Rome, such as was never
So incapable of help.

Both Tribunes
Say not we brought it.

How! Was it we? we loved him but, like beasts
And cowardly nobles, gave way unto your clusters,
Who did hoot him out o’ the city.

But I fear
They’ll roar him in again. Tullus Aufidius,
The second name of men, obeys his points
As if he were his officer: desperation
Is all the policy, strength and defence,
That Rome can make against them.

Enter a troop of Citizens

Here come the clusters.
And is Aufidius with him? You are they
That made the air unwholesome, when you cast
Your stinking greasy caps in hooting at
Coriolanus’ exile. Now he’s coming;
And not a hair upon a soldier’s head
Which will not prove a whip: as many coxcombs
As you threw caps up will he tumble down,
And pay you for your voices. ‘Tis no matter;
if he could burn us all into one coal,
We have deserved it.

Faith, we hear fearful news.

First Citizen
For mine own part,
When I said, banish him, I said ’twas pity.

Second Citizen
And so did I.

Third Citizen
And so did I; and, to say the truth, so did very
many of us: that we did, we did for the best; and
though we willingly consented to his banishment, yet
it was against our will.

Ye re goodly things, you voices!

You have made
Good work, you and your cry! Shall’s to the Capitol?

O, ay, what else?


Go, masters, get you home; be not dismay’d:
These are a side that would be glad to have
This true which they so seem to fear. Go home,
And show no sign of fear.

First Citizen
The gods be good to us! Come, masters, let’s home.
I ever said we were i’ the wrong when we banished

Second Citizen
So did we all. But, come, let’s home.

Exeunt Citizens

I do not like this news.

Nor I.

Let’s to the Capitol. Would half my wealth
Would buy this for a lie!

Pray, let us go.


SCENE VII. A camp, at a small distance from Rome.

Enter AUFIDIUS and his Lieutenant
Do they still fly to the Roman?

I do not know what witchcraft’s in him, but
Your soldiers use him as the grace ‘fore meat,
Their talk at table, and their thanks at end;
And you are darken’d in this action, sir,
Even by your own.

I cannot help it now,
Unless, by using means, I lame the foot
Of our design. He bears himself more proudlier,
Even to my person, than I thought he would
When first I did embrace him: yet his nature
In that’s no changeling; and I must excuse
What cannot be amended.

Yet I wish, sir,–
I mean for your particular,–you had not
Join’d in commission with him; but either
Had borne the action of yourself, or else
To him had left it solely.

I understand thee well; and be thou sure,
when he shall come to his account, he knows not
What I can urge against him. Although it seems,
And so he thinks, and is no less apparent
To the vulgar eye, that he bears all things fairly.
And shows good husbandry for the Volscian state,
Fights dragon-like, and does achieve as soon
As draw his sword; yet he hath left undone
That which shall break his neck or hazard mine,
Whene’er we come to our account.

Sir, I beseech you, think you he’ll carry Rome?

All places yield to him ere he sits down;
And the nobility of Rome are his:
The senators and patricians love him too:
The tribunes are no soldiers; and their people
Will be as rash in the repeal, as hasty
To expel him thence. I think he’ll be to Rome
As is the osprey to the fish, who takes it
By sovereignty of nature. First he was
A noble servant to them; but he could not
Carry his honours even: whether ’twas pride,
Which out of daily fortune ever taints
The happy man; whether defect of judgment,
To fail in the disposing of those chances
Which he was lord of; or whether nature,
Not to be other than one thing, not moving
From the casque to the cushion, but commanding peace
Even with the same austerity and garb
As he controll’d the war; but one of these–
As he hath spices of them all, not all,
For I dare so far free him–made him fear’d,
So hated, and so banish’d: but he has a merit,
To choke it in the utterance. So our virtues
Lie in the interpretation of the time:
And power, unto itself most commendable,
Hath not a tomb so evident as a chair
To extol what it hath done.
One fire drives out one fire; one nail, one nail;
Rights by rights falter, strengths by strengths do fail.
Come, let’s away. When, Caius, Rome is thine,
Thou art poor’st of all; then shortly art thou mine.


Come back on 11/30/15 and join me for fun with Shakespeare’s Coriolanus


Vol. II: Tales – part 01(1902), pp. 225-247

[page 225:]

A Descent Into The Maelström

[Graham’s Magazine, May, 1841; 1845. — Text corrected by J. L. Graham copy.]

The ways of God in Nature, as in Providence, are not as our ways; nor are the models that we frame any way commensurate to the vastness, profundity, and unsearchableness of His works, which have a depth in them greater than the well of Democritus.

Joseph Glanville.

WE had now reached the summit of the loftiest crag. For some minutes the old man seemed too much exhausted to speak.

“Not long ago,” said he at length, “and I could have guided you on this route as well as the youngest of my sons; but, about three years past, there happened to me an event such as never happened before to mortal man — or at least such as no man ever survived to tell of — and the six hours of deadly terror which I then endured have broken me up body and soul. You suppose me a very old man — but I am not. It took less than a single day to change these hairs from a jetty black to white, to weaken my limbs, and to unstring my nerves, so that I tremble at the least exertion, and am frightened at a shadow. Do you know I can scarcely look over this little cliff without getting giddy?” [page 226:]

The “little cliff,” upon whose edge he had so carelessly thrown himself down to rest that the weightier portion of his body hung over it, while he was only kept from falling by the tenure of his elbow on its extreme and slippery edge — this “little cliff” arose, a sheer unobstructed precipice of black shining rock, some fifteen or sixteen hundred feet from the world of crags beneath us. Nothing would have tempted me to within half a dozen yards of its brink. In truth so deeply was I excited by the perilous position of my companion, that I fell at full length upon the ground, clung to the shrubs around me, and dared not even glance upward at the sky — while I struggled in vain to divest myself of the idea that the very foundations of the mountain were in danger from the fury of the winds. It was long before I could reason myself into sufficient courage to sit up and look out into the distance.

“You must get over these fancies,” said the guide, “for I have brought you here that you might have the best possible view of the scene of that event I mentioned — and to tell you the whole story with the spot just under your eye.”

“We are now,” he continued, in that particularizing manner which distinguished him — “we are now close upon the Norwegian coast — in the sixty-eighth degree of latitude — in the great province of Nordland — and in the dreary district of Lofoden. The mountain upon whose top we sit is Helseggen, the Cloudy. Now raise yourself up a little higher — hold on to the grass if you feel giddy — so — and look out, beyond the belt of vapor beneath us, into the sea.”

I looked dizzily, and beheld a wide expanse of ocean, whose waters wore so inky a hue as to bring at once [page 227:] to my mind the Nubian geographer’s account of the Mare Tenebrarum. A panorama more deplorably desolate no human imagination can conceive. To the right and left, as far as the eye could reach, there lay outstretched, like ramparts of the world, lines of horridly black and beetling cliff, whose character of gloom was but the more forcibly illustrated by the surf which reared high up against it its white and ghastly crest, howling and shrieking for ever. Just opposite the promontory upon whose apex we were placed, and at a distance of some five or six miles out at sea, there was visible a small, bleak-looking island; or, more properly, its position was discernible through the wilderness of surge in which it was enveloped. About two miles nearer the land, arose another of smaller size, hideously craggy and barren, and encompassed at various intervals by a cluster of dark rocks.

The appearance of the ocean, in the space between the more distant island and the shore, had something very unusual about it. Although, at the time, so strong a gale was blowing landward that a brig in the remote offing lay to under a double-reefed trysail, and constantly plunged her whole hull out of sight, still there was here nothing like a regular swell, but only a short, quick, angry cross dashing of water in every direction — as well in the teeth of the wind as otherwise. Of foam there was little except in the immediate vicinity of the rocks.

“The island in the distance,” resumed the old man, “is called by the Norwegians Vurrgh. The one midway is Moskoe. That a mile to the northward is Ambaaren. Yonder are Islesen, Hotholm, Keildhelm, Suarven, and Buckholm. Farther off — between Moskoe and Vurrgh — are Otterholm, Flimen, [page 228:] Sandflesen, and Stockholm. These are the true names of the places — but why it has been thought necessary to name them at all, is more than either you or I can understand. Do you hear any thing? Do you see any change in the water?”

We had now been about ten minutes upon the top of Helseggen, to which we had ascended from the interior of Lofoden, so that we had caught no glimpse of the sea until it had burst upon us from the summit. As the old man spoke, I became aware of a loud and gradually increasing sound, like the moaning of a vast herd of buffaloes upon an American prairie; and at the same moment I perceived that what seamen term the choppingcharacter of the ocean beneath us, was rapidly changing into a current which set to the eastward. Even while I gazed, this current acquired a monstrous velocity. Each moment added to its speed — to its headlong impetuosity. In five minutes the whole sea, as far as Vurrgh, was lashed into ungovernable fury; but it was between Moskoe and the coast that the main uproar held its sway. Here the vast bed of the waters, seamed and scarred into a thousand conflicting channels, burst suddenly into phrensied convulsion — heaving, boiling, hissing — gyrating in gigantic and innumerable vortices, and all whirling and plunging on to the eastward with a rapidity which water never elsewhere assumes except in precipitous descents.

In a few minutes more, there came over the scene another radical alteration. The general surface grew somewhat more smooth, and the whirlpools, one by one, disappeared, while prodigious streaks of foam became apparent where none had been seen before. These streaks, at length, spreading out to a great distance, and entering into combination, took unto [page 229:] themselves the gyratory motion of the subsided vortices, and seemed to form the germ of another more vast. Suddenly — very suddenly — this assumed a distinct and definite existence, in a circle of more than a half a mile in diameter. The edge of the whirl was represented by a broad belt of gleaming spray; but no particle of this slipped into the mouth of the terrific funnel, whose interior, as far as the eye could fathom it, was a smooth, shining, and jet-black wall of water, inclined to the horizon at an angle of some forty-five degrees, speeding dizzily round and round with a swaying and sweltering motion, and sending forth to the winds an appalling voice, half shriek, half roar, such as not even the mighty cataract of Niagara ever lifts up in its agony to Heaven.

The mountain trembled to its very base, and the rock rocked. I threw myself upon my face, and clung to the scant herbage in an excess of nervous agitation.

“This,” said I at length, to the old man — “this can be nothing else than the great whirlpool of the Maelström.”

“So it is sometimes termed,” said he. “We Norwegians call it the Moskoe-ström, from the island of Moskoe in the midway.”

The ordinary accounts of this vortex had by no means prepared me for what I saw. That of Jonas Ramus, which is perhaps the most circumstantial of any, cannot impart the faintest conception either of the magnificence, or of the horror of the scene — or of the wild bewildering sense of the novel which confounds the beholder.  I am not sure from what point of view the writer in question surveyed it, nor at what time; but it could neither have been from the summit [page 230:] of Helseggen, nor during a storm. There are some passages of his description, nevertheless, which may be quoted for their details, although their effect is exceedingly feeble in conveying an impression of the spectacle.

“Between Lofoden and Moskoe,” he says, “the depth of the water is between thirty-six and forty fathoms; but on the other side, toward Ver (Vurrgh) this depth decreases so as not to afford a convenient passage for a vessel, without the risk of splitting on the rocks, which happens even in the calmest weather. When it is flood, the stream runs up the country between Lofoden and Moskoe with a boisterous rapidity; but the roar of its impetuous ebb to the sea is scarce equalled by the loudest and most dreadful cataracts; the noise being heard several leagues off, and the vortices or pits are of such an extent and depth, that if a ship comes within its attraction, it is inevitably absorbed and carried down to the bottom, and there beat to pieces against the rocks; and when the water relaxes, the fragments thereof are thrown up again. But these intervals of tranquility are only at the turn of the ebb and flood, and in calm weather, and last but a quarter of an hour, its violence gradually returning. When the stream is most boisterous, and its fury heightened by a storm, it is dangerous to come within a Norway mile of it. Boats, yachts, and ships have been carried away by not guarding against it before they were within its reach. It likewise happens frequently, that whales come too near the stream, and are overpowered by its violence; and then it is impossible to describe their howlings and bellowings in their fruitless struggles to disengage themselves. A bear once, attempting to swim from Lofoden to Moskoe, was caught by the stream and borne down, [page 231:] while he roared terribly, so as to be heard on shore. Large stocks of firs and pine trees, after being absorbed by the current, rise again broken and torn to such a degree as if bristles grew upon them. This plainly shows the bottom to consist of craggy rocks, among which they are whirled to and fro. This stream is regulated by the flux and reflux of the sea — it being constantly high and low water every six hours. In the year 1645, early in the morning of Sexagesima Sunday, it raged with such noise and impetuosity that the very stones of the houses on the coast fell to the ground.”

In regard to the depth of the water, I could not see how this could have been ascertained at all in the immediate vicinity of the vortex. The “forty fathoms” must have reference only to portions of the channel close upon the shore either of Moskoe or Lofoden.  The depth in the centre of the Moskoe-ström must be immeasurably greater; and no better proof of this fact is necessary than can be obtained from even the sidelong glance into the abyss of the whirl which may be had from the highest crag of Helseggen. Looking down from this pinnacle upon the howling Phlegethon below, I could not help smiling at the simplicity with which the honest Jonas Ramus records, as a matter difficult of belief, the anecdotes of the whales and the bears; for it appeared to me, in fact, a self-evident thing, that the largest ship of the line in existence, coming within the influence of that deadly attraction, could resist it as little as a feather the hurricane, and must disappear bodily and at once.

The attempts to account for the phenomenon — some of which, I remember, seemed to me sufficiently plausible in perusal — now wore a very different and [page 232:] unsatisfactory aspect. The idea generally received is that this, as well as three smaller vortices among the Ferroe islands, “have no other cause than the collision of waves rising and falling, at flux and reflux, against a ridge of rocks and shelves, which confines the water so that it precipitates itself like a cataract; and thus the higher the flood rises, the deeper must the fall be, and the natural result of all is a whirlpool or vortex, the prodigious suction of which is sufficiently known by lesser experiments.” — These are the words of the Encyclopædia Britannica. Kircher and others imagine that in the centre of the channel of the Maelström is an abyss penetrating the globe, and issuing in some very remote part — the Gulf of Bothnia being somewhat decidedly named in one instance. This opinion, idle in itself, was the one to which, as I gazed, my imagination most readily assented; and, mentioning it to the guide, I was rather surprised to hear him say that, although it was the view almost universally entertained of the subject by the Norwegians, it nevertheless was not his own. As to the former notion he confessed his inability to comprehend it; and here I agreed with him — for, however conclusive on paper, it becomes altogether unintelligible, and even absurd, amid the thunder of the abyss.

“You have had a good look at the whirl now,” said the old man, “and if you will creep round this crag, so as to get in its lee, and deaden the roar of the water, I will tell you a story that will convince you I ought to know something of the Moskoe-ström.”

I placed myself as desired, and he proceeded.

“Myself and my two brothers once owned a schooner-rigged smack of about seventy tons burthen, with which we were in the habit of fishing among the [page 233:] islands beyond Moskoe, nearly to Vurrgh. In all violent eddies at sea there is good fishing, at proper opportunities, if one has only the courage to attempt it; but among the whole of the Lofoden coastmen, we three were the only ones who made a regular business of going out to the islands, as I tell you. The usual grounds are a great way lower down to the southward. There fish can be got at all hours, without much risk, and therefore these places are preferred. The choice spots over here among the rocks, however, not only yield the finest variety, but in far greater abundance; so that we often got in a single day, what the more timid of the craft could not scrape together in a week. In fact, we made it a matter of desperate speculation — the risk of life standing instead of labor, and courage answering for capital.

“We kept the smack in a cove about five miles higher up the coast than this; and it was our practice, in fine weather, to take advantage of the fifteen minutes’ slack to push across the main channel of the Moskoe-ström, far above the pool, and then drop down upon anchorage somewhere near Otterholm, or Sandflesen, where the eddies are not so violent as elsewhere. Here we used to remain until nearly time for slack-water again, when we weighed and made for home. We never set out upon this expedition without a steady side wind for going and coming — one that we felt sure would not fail us before our return — and we seldom made a mis-calculation upon this point. Twice, during six years, we were forced to stay all night at anchor on account of a dead calm, which is a rare thing indeed just about here; and once we had to remain on the grounds nearly a week, starving to death, owing to a gale which blew up shortly after our arrival, and made [page 234:] the channel too boisterous to be thought of. Upon this occasion we should have been driven out to sea in spite of everything, (for the whirlpools threw us round and round so violently, that, at length, we fouled our anchor and dragged it) if it had not been that we drifted into one of the innumerable cross currents — here to-day and gone to-morrow — which drove us under the lee of Flimen, where, by good luck, we brought up.

“I could not tell you the twentieth part of the difficulties we encountered ‘on the grounds’ — it is a bad spot to be in, even in good weather — but we made shift always to run the gauntlet of the Moskoe-ström itself without accident; although at times my heart has been in my mouth when we happened to be a minute or so behind or before the slack. The wind sometimes was not as strong as we thought it at starting, and then we made rather less way than we could wish, while the current rendered the smack unmanageable. My eldest brother had a son eighteen years old, and I had two stout boys of my own. These would have been of great assistance at such times, in using the sweeps, as well as afterward in fishing — but, somehow, although we ran the risk ourselves, we had not the heart to let the young ones get into the danger — for, after all is said and done, it wasa horrible danger, and that is the truth.

“It is now within a few days of three years since what I am going to tell you occurred. It was on the tenth day of July, 18—, a day which the people of this part of the world will never forget — for it was one in which blew the most terrible hurricane that ever came out of the heavens. And yet all the morning, and indeed until late in the afternoon, there was a gentle [page 235:] and steady breeze from the south-west, while the sun shone brightly, so that the oldest seaman among us could not have foreseen what was to follow.

“The three of us — my two brothers and myself — had crossed over to the islands about two o’clock P. M., and had soon nearly loaded the smack with fine fish, which, we all remarked, were more plenty that day than we had ever known them. It was just seven, by my watch, when we weighed and started for home, so as to make the worst of the Ström at slack water, which we knew would be at eight.

“We set out with a fresh wind on our starboard quarter, and for some time spanked along at a great rate, never dreaming of danger, for indeed we saw not the slightest reason to apprehend it. All at once we were taken aback by a breeze from over Helseggen. This was most unusual — something that had never happened to us before — and I began to feel a little uneasy, without exactly knowing why. We put the boat on the wind, but could make no headway at all for the eddies, and I was upon the point of proposing to return to the anchorage, when, looking astern, we saw the whole horizon covered with a singular copper-colored cloud that rose with the most amazing velocity.

“In the meantime the breeze that had headed us off fell away, and we were dead becalmed, drifting about in every direction. This state of things, however, did not last long enough to give us time to think about it. In less than a minute the storm was upon us — in less than two the sky was entirely overcast — and what with this and the driving spray, it became suddenly so dark that we could not see each other in the smack.[page 236:]

“Such a hurricane as then blew it is folly to attempt describing. The oldest seaman in Norway never experienced any thing like it. We had let our sails go by the run before it cleverly took us; but, at the first puff, both our masts went by the board as if they had been sawed off — the mainmast taking with it my youngest brother, who had lashed himself to it for safety.

“Our boat was the lightest feather of a thing that ever sat upon water. It had a complete flush deck, with only a small hatch near the bow, and this hatch it had always been our custom to batten down when about to cross the Ström, by way of precaution against the chopping seas. But for this circumstance we should have foundered at once — for we lay entirely buried for some moments. How my elder brother escaped destruction I cannot say, for I never had an opportunity of ascertaining. For my part, as soon as I had let the foresail run, I threw myself flat on deck, with my feet against the narrow gunwale of the bow, and with my hands grasping a ring-bolt near the foot of the fore-mast. It was mere instinct that prompted me to do this — which was undoubtedly the very best thing I could have done — for I was too much flurried to think.

“For some moments we were completely deluged, as I say, and all this time I held my breath, and clung to the bolt. When I could stand it no longer I raised myself upon my knees, still keeping hold with my hands, and thus got my head clear. Presently our little boat gave herself a shake, just as a dog does in coming out of the water, and thus rid herself, in some measure, of the seas. I was now trying to get the better of the stupor that had come over me, and to [page 237:] collect my senses so as to see what was to be done, when I felt somebody grasp my arm. It was my elder brother, and my heart leaped for joy, for I had made sure that he was overboard — but the next moment all this joy was turned into horror — for he put his mouth close to my ear, and screamed out the word ‘Moskoe-ström!

“No one ever will know what my feelings were at that moment. I shook from head to foot as if I had had the most violent fit of the ague. I knew what he meant by that one word well enough — I knew what he wished to make me understand. With the wind that now drove us on, we were bound for the whirl of the Ström, and nothing could save us!

“You perceive that in crossing the Ström channel, we always went a long way up above the whirl, even in the calmest weather, and then had to wait and watch carefully for the slack — but now we were driving right upon the pool itself, and in such a hurricane as this!  ‘To be sure,’ I thought, ‘we shall get there just about the slack — there is some little hope in that’ — but in the next moment I cursed myself for being so great a fool as to dream of hope at all. I knew very well that we were doomed, had we been ten times a ninety-gun ship.

“By this time the first fury of the tempest had spent itself, or perhaps we did not feel it so much, as we scudded before it, but at all events the seas, which at first had been kept down by the wind, and lay flat and frothing, now got up into absolute mountains. A singular change, too, had come over the heavens. Around in every direction it was still as black as pitch, but nearly overhead there burst out, all at once, a circular rift of clear sky — as clear as I ever saw — and [page 238:] of a deep bright blue — and through it there blazed forth the full moon with a lustre that I never before knew her to wear. She lit up every thing about us with the greatest distinctness — but, oh God, what a scene it was to light up!

“I now made one or two attempts to speak to my brother — but, in some manner which I could not understand, the din had so increased that I could not make him hear a single word, although I screamed at the top of my voice in his ear. Presently he shook his head, looking as pale as death, and held up one of his finger, as if to say ‘listen!

“At first I could not make out what he meant — but soon a hideous thought flashed upon me. I dragged my watch from its fob. It was not going. I glanced at its face by the moonlight, and then burst into tears as I flung it far away into the ocean. It had run down at seven o’clock!  We were behind the time of the slack, and the whirl of the Ström was in full fury!

“When a boat is well built, properly trimmed, and not deep laden, the waves in a strong gale, when she is going large, seem always to slip from beneath her — which appears very strange to a landsman — and this is what is called riding, in sea phrase. Well, so far we had ridden the swells very cleverly; but presently a gigantic sea happened to take us right under the counter, and bore us with it as it rose — up — up — as if into the sky. I would not have believed that any wave could rise so high. And then down we came with a sweep, a slide, and a plunge, that made me feel sick and dizzy, as if I was falling from some lofty mountain-top in a dream. But while we were up I had thrown a quick glance around — and[page 239:] that one glance was all sufficient. I saw our exact position in an instant. The Moskoe-ström whirlpool was about a quarter of a mile dead ahead — but no more like the every-day Moskoe-ström, than the whirl as you now see it is like a mill-race. If I had not known where we were, and what we had to expect, I should not have recognised the place at all. As it was, I involuntarily closed my eyes in horror. The lids clenched themselves together as if in a spasm.

“It could not have been more than two minutes afterward until we suddenly felt the waves subside, and were enveloped in foam. The boat made a sharp half turn to larboard, and then shot off in its new direction like a thunderbolt. At the same moment the roaring noise of the water was completely drowned in a kind of shrill shriek — such a sound as you might imagine given out by the waste-pipes of many thousand steam-vessels, letting off their steam all together. We were now in the belt of surf that always surrounds the whirl; and I thought, of course, that another moment would plunge us into the abyss — down which we could only see indistinctly on account of the amazing velocity with which we were borne along. The boat did not seem to sink into the water at all, but to skim like an air-bubble upon the surface of the surge. Her starboard side was next the whirl, and on the larboard arose the world of ocean we had left. It stood like a huge writhing wall between us and the horizon.

“It may appear strange, but now, when we were in the very jaws of the gulf, I felt more composed than when we were only approaching it. Having made up my mind to hope no more, I got rid of a great deal of that terror which unmanned me at first. I suppose it was despair that strung my nerves. [page 240:]

“It may look like boasting — but what I tell you is truth — I began to reflect how magnificent a thing it was to die in such a manner, and how foolish it was in me to think of so paltry a consideration as my own individual life, in view of so wonderful a manifestation of God’s power. I do believe that I blushed with shame when this idea crossed my mind. After a little while I became possessed with the keenest curiosity about the whirl itself. I positively felt a wish to explore its depths, even at the sacrifice I was going to make; and my principal grief was that I should never be able to tell my old companions on shore about the mysteries I should see. These, no doubt, were singular fancies to occupy a man’s mind in such extremity — and I have often thought since, that the revolutions of the boat around the pool might have rendered me a little light-headed.

“There was another circumstance which tended to restore my self-possession; and this was the cessation of the wind, which could not reach us in our present situation — for, as you saw yourself, the belt of surf is considerably lower than the general bed of the ocean, and this latter now towered above us, a high, black, mountainous ridge. If you have never been at sea in a heavy gale, you can form no idea of the confusion of mind occasioned by the wind and spray together. They blind, deafen, and strangle you, and take away all power of action or reflection. But we were now, in a great measure, rid of these annoyances — just us death-condemned felons in prison are allowed petty indulgences, forbidden them while their doom is yet uncertain.

“How often we made the circuit of the belt it is impossible to say. We careered round and round for [page 241:] perhaps an hour, flying rather than floating, getting gradually more and more into the middle of the surge, and then nearer and nearer to its horrible inner edge. All this time I had never let go of the ring-bolt. My brother was at the stern, holding on to a large empty water-cask which had been securely lashed under the coop of the counter, and was the only thing on deck that had not been swept overboard when the gale first took us. As we approached the brink of the pit he let go his hold upon this, and made for the ring, from which, in the agony of his terror, he endeavored to force my hands, as it was not large enough to afford us both a secure grasp. I never felt deeper grief than when I saw him attempt this act — although I thought he was a madman when he did it — a raving maniac through sheer fright. I did not care, however, to contest the point with him. I knew it could make no difference whether either of us held on at all; so I let him have the bolt, and went astern to the cask. This there was no great difficulty in doing; for the smack flew round steadily enough, and upon an even keel — only swaying to and fro, with the immense sweeps and swelters of the whirl. Scarcely had I secured myself in my new position, when we gave a wild lurch to starboard, and rushed headlong into the abyss. I muttered a hurried prayer to God, and thought all was over.

“As I felt the sickening sweep of the descent, I had instinctively tightened my hold upon the barrel, and closed my eyes. For some seconds I dared not open them — while I expected instant destruction, and wondered that I was not already in my death-struggles with the water. But moment after moment elapsed. I still lived. The sense of falling had ceased; and [page 242:] the motion of the vessel seemed much as it had been before while in the belt of foam, with the exception that she now lay more along. I took courage, and looked once again upon the scene.

“Never shall I forget the sensations of awe, horror, and admiration with which I gazed about me. The boat appeared to be hanging, as if by magic, midway down, upon the interior surface of a funnel vast in circumference, prodigious in depth, and whose perfectly smooth sides might have been mistaken for ebony, but for the bewildering rapidity with which they spun around, and for the gleaming and ghastly radiance they shot forth, as the rays of the full moon, from that circular rift amid the clouds which I have already described, streamed in a flood of golden glory along the black walls, and far away down into the inmost recesses of the abyss.

“At first I was too much confused to observe anything accurately. The general burst of terrific grandeur was all that I beheld. When I recovered myself a little, however, my gaze fell instinctively downward. In this direction I was able to obtain an unobstructed view, from the manner in which the smack hung on the inclined surface of the pool. She was quite upon an even keel — that is to say, her deck lay in a plane parallel with that of the water — but this latter sloped at an angle of more than forty-five degrees, so that we seemed to be lying upon our beam-ends. I could not help observing, nevertheless, that I had scarcely more difficulty in maintaining my hold and footing in this situation, than if we had been upon a dead level; and this, I suppose, was owing to the speed at which we revolved.

“The rays of the moon seemed to search the very [page 243:] bottom of the profound gulf; but still I could make out nothing distinctly, on account of a thick mist in which everything there was enveloped, and over which there hung a magnificent rainbow, like that narrow and tottering bridge which Mussulmen say is the only pathway between Time and Eternity. This mist, or spray, was no doubt occasioned by the clashing of the great walls of the funnel, as they all met together at the bottom — but the yell that went up to the Heavens from out of that mist, I dare not attempt to describe.

“Our first slide into the abyss itself, from the belt of foam above, had carried us a great distance down the slope; but our farther descent was by no means proportionate. Round and round we swept — not with any uniform movement — but in dizzying swings and jerks, that sent us sometimes only a few hundred feet — sometimes nearly the complete circuit of the whirl. Our progress downward, at each revolution, was slow, but very perceptible.

“Looking about me upon the wide waste of liquid ebony on which we were thus borne, I perceived that our boat was not the only object in the embrace of the whirl. Both above and below us were visible fragments of vessels, large masses of building timber and trunks of trees, with many smaller articles, such as pieces of house furniture, broken boxes, barrels and staves. I have already described the unnatural curiosity which had taken the place of my original terrors. It appeared to grow upon me as I drew nearer and nearer to my dreadful doom. I now began to watch, with a strange interest, the numerous things that floated in our company. I must have been delirious — for I even sought amusement in speculating upon the relative velocities of their several descents toward the foam [page 244:] below. ‘This fir tree,’ I found myself at one time saying, ‘will certainly be the next thing that takes the awful plunge and disappears,’ — and then I was disappointed to find that the wreck of a Dutch merchant ship overtook it and went down before. At length, after making several guesses of this nature, and being deceived in all — this fact — the fact of my invariable miscalculation — set me upon a train of reflection that made my limbs again tremble, and my heart beat heavily once more.

“It was not a new terror that thus affected me, but the dawn of a more exciting hope. This hope arose partly from memory, and partly from present observation. I called to mind the great variety of buoyant matter that strewed the coast of Lofoden, having been absorbed and then thrown forth by the Moskoe-ström. By far the greater number of the articles were shattered in the most extraordinary way — so chafed and roughened as to have the appearance of being stuck full of splinters — but then I distinctly recollected that there were some of them which were not disfigured at all. Now I could not account for this difference except by supposing that the roughened fragments were the only ones which had beencompletely absorbed — that the others had entered the whirl at so late a period of the tide, or, for some reason, had descended so slowly after entering, that they did not reach the bottom before the turn of the flood came, or of the ebb, as the case might be. I conceived it possible, in either instance, that they might thus be whirled up again to the level of the ocean, without undergoing the fate of those which had been drawn in more early, or absorbed more rapidly. I made, also, three important observations. The first was, that, as a general rule, the larger the [page 245:] bodies were, the more rapid their descent; — the second, that, between two masses of equal extent, the one spherical, and the other of any other shape, the superiority in speed of descent was with the sphere; — the third, that, between two masses of equal size, the one cylindrical, and the other of any other shape, the cylinder was absorbed the more slowly. Since my escape, I have had several conversations on this subject with an old school-master of the district; and it was from him that I learned the use of the words ‘cylinder’ and’sphere.’ He explained to me — although I have forgotten the explanation — how what I observed was, in fact, the natural consequence of the forms of the floating fragments — and showed me how it happened that a cylinder, swimming in a vortex, offered more resistance to its suction, and was drawn in with greater difficulty than an equally bulky body, of any form whatever.*

“There was one startling circumstance which went a great way in enforcing these observations, and rendering me anxious to turn them to account, and this was that, at every revolution, we passed something like a barrel, or else the broken yard or the mast of a vessel, while many of these things, which had been on our level when I first opened my eyes upon the wonders of the whirlpool, were now high up above us, and seemed to have moved but little from their original station.

“I no longer hesitated what to do. I resolved to lash myself securely to the water cask upon which I now held, to cut it loose from the counter, and to throw myself with it into the water. I attracted my brother’s attention by signs, pointed to the floating barrels that [page 246:] came near us, and did everything in my power to make him understand what I was about to do. I thought at length that he comprehended my design — but, whether this was the case or not, he shook his head despairingly, and refused to move from his station by the ring-bolt. It was impossible to force him; the emergency admitted no delay; and so, with a bitter struggle, I resigned him to his fate, fastened myself to the cask by means of the lashings which secured it to the counter, and precipitated myself with it into the sea, without another moment’s hesitation.

“The result was precisely what I had hoped it might be. As it is myself who now tell you this tale — as you see that I did escape — and as you are already in possession of the mode in which this escape was effected, and must therefore anticipate all that I have farther to say — I will bring my story quickly to conclusion. It might have been an hour, or thereabout, after my quitting the smack, when, having descended to a vast distance beneath me, it made three or four wild gyrations in rapid succession, and, bearing my loved brother with it, plunged headlong, at once and forever, into the chaos of foam below. The cask to which I was attached sank very little farther than half the distance between the bottom of the gulf and the spot at which I leaped overboard, before a great change took place in the character of the whirlpool. The slope of the sides of the vast funnel became momently less and less steep. The gyrations of the whirl grew, gradually, less and less violent. By degrees, the froth and the rainbow disappeared, and the bottom of the gulf seemed slowly to uprise. The sky was clear, the winds had gone down, and the full moon was setting radiantly in the west, when I found [page 247:] myself on the surface of the ocean, in full view of the shores of Lofoden, and above the spot where the pool of the Moskoe-ström had been. It was the hour of the slack — but the sea still heaved in mountainous waves from the effects of the hurricane. I was borne violently into the channel of the Ström, and in a few minutes was hurried down the coast into the ‘grounds’ of the fishermen. A boat picked me up — exhausted from fatigue — and (now that the danger was removed) speechless from the memory of its horror. Those who drew me on board were my old mates and daily companions — but they knew me no more than they would have known a traveller from the spirit-land. My hair which had been raven-black the day before, was as white as you see it now. They say too that the whole expression of my countenance had changed. I told them my story. They did not believe it. I now tell it to you — and I can scarcely expect you to put more faith in it than did the merry fishermen of Lofoden.”

To Be Continued…11/30/15