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C.N. Douglas, comp.  Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical.  1917.
 
Lee
 
        Am I to blame, if nature threw my body
In so perverse a mould! yet when she cast
Her envious hand upon my supple joints,
Unable to resist, and rumpled them
On heaps in their dark lodging; to revenge
Her bungled work, she stamped my mind more fair,
And as from chaos, huddled and deform’d,
The gods struck fire, and lighted up the lamps
That beautify the sky; so she inform’d
This ill-shap’d body with a daring soul,
And, making less than man, she made me more.
  1
        As well the noble savage of the field
Might tamely couple with the fearful ewe;
Tigers might engender with the timid deer;
Wild, muddy boars defile the cleanly ermine,
Or vultures sort with doves; as I with thee.
  2
        By heavens, my love, thou dost distract my soul!
There’s not a tear that falls from those dear eyes,
But makes my heart weep blood.
  3
        I could perceive with joy, a silent show’r
Run down his silver beard.
  4
                I found her on the floor
In all the storm of grief; yet beautiful!
Sighing such a breath of sorrow, that her lips,
Which late appear’d like buds, were now o’er-blown!
Pouring forth tears, at such a lavish rate,
That were the world on fire, they might have drown’d
The wrath of heaven, and quench’d the mighty ruin.
  5
        I weep, ’tis true; but Machiavel, I swear
They’re tears of vengeance; drops of liquid fire!
So marble weeps, when flames surround the quarry,
And the pil’d oaks spout forth such scalding bubbles,
Before the general blaze.
  6
                        If we must pray,
Rear in the streets bright altars to the gods,
Let virgin’s hands adorn the sacrifice;
And not a grey-beard forging priest come here,
To pry into the bowels of their victim,
And with their dotage mad the gaping world.
  7
                    In taking leave,
Thro’ the dark lashes of her darting eyes,
Methought she shot her soul at ev’ry glance,
Still looking back, as if she had a mind
That you should know she left her soul behind her.
  8
        Nature herself started back when thou wert born,
And cried, “the work’s not mine.”
The midwife stood aghast; and when she saw
Thy mountain back and thy distorted legs,
Thy face itself,
Half-minted with the royal stamp of man,
And half o’ercome with beast, she doubted long
Whose right in thee were more;
And know not if to burn thee in the flames
Were not the holier work.
  9
        Oh! I will curse thee till thy frighted soul
Runs mad with horror.
  10
        When Greeks join’d Greeks, then was the tug of war;
The labor’d battle sweat, and conquest bled.
  11
        When the sun sets, shadows that show’d at noon
But small, appear most long and terrible:
So when we think fate hovers o’er our heads,
Our apprehensions shoot beyond all bounds;
Owls, ravens, crickets, seem the watch of death:
Nature’s worst vermin scare her godlike sons.
Echoes, the very leaving of a voice,
Grow babbling ghosts, and call us to our graves.
Each mole-hill thought swells to a huge Olympus,
While we, fantastic dreamers, heave and puff,
And sweat with an imagination’s weight.
  12
 
 
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