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Upon the silver mountain, South by East, Sits Brahma fed upon the sacred bean; He loves those men whose nails are still in
creased, Who all their lives keep ugly, foul and lean;
'Tis of his grace that not a bird or beast Adorned with claws like mine was ever seen :
The suns and stars are Brahma's thoughts divine Even as these trees I seem to see are mine."
“ Thou seem'st to see, indeed!” roared Ahmed
back “ Were I but once across this plaguy stream,
With a stout sapling in my hand, one whack On those lank ribs would rid thee of that Dream!
Thy Brahma-blasphemy is ipecac To my soul's stomach ; could’st thou grasp the
scheme Of true redemption, thou would'st know that
" And this it is which keeps our earth here going With all the stars.” 26 O, vile! but there's a
place Prepared for such ; to think of Brahma throw
ing Worlds like a juggler's balls up into Space!
Why, not so much as a smooth lotos blowing Is e'er allowed that silence to efface Which broods around Brahma, and our earth,
'tis known, Rests on a tortoise, moveless as this stone."
So they kept up their banning amebean, When suddenly came floating down the stream
A youth whose face like an incarnate pæan Glowed, 'twas so full of grandeur and of gleam;
“ If there be gods, then, doubtless, this must be Thought both at once, and then began to scream,
Surely, whate'er immortals know, thou knowest, Decide between us twain before thou goest !”
The youth was drifting in a slim canoe Most like a huge white waterlily's petal,
But neither of our theologians knew Whereof 'twas made; whether of heavenly metal
Unknown, or of a vast pearl split in two And hollowed, was a point they could not settle ; 'Twas good debate-seed, though, and bore large
fruit In after years of many a tart dispute.
no wings upon the stranger's shoulders And yet he seemed so capable of rising
That, had he soared like thistledown, beholders Had thought the circumstance noways surprising;
Enough that he remained, and, when the scolders Hailed him as umpire in their vocal prize-ring,
The painter of his boat he lightly threw
The strange youth had a look as if he might Have trod far planets where the atmosphere,
(Of nobler temper) steeps the face with light, Just as our skins are tanned and freckled here;
His air was that of a cosmopolite
Perhaps he was (his face had such grave beauty)
Both saints began to unfold their tales at once, Both wished their tales, like simial ones, prehensile, That they might seize his ear; fool! knave! and
dunce? Flew zigzag back and forth, like strokes of pencil
In a child's fingers; voluble as duns, They jabbered like the stones on that immense hill
In the Arabian Nights; until the stranger Began to think his ear-drums in some danger.
In general those who nothing have to say Contrive to spend the longest time in doing it;
They turn and vary it in every way, Hashing it, stewing it, mincing it, ragouting it;
Sometimes they keep it purposely at bay, Then let it slip to be again pursuing it;
They drone it, groan it, whisper it and shout it, Refute it, flout it, swear to't, prove it, doubt it.
Our saints had practised for some thirty years ; Their talk, beginning with a single stem,
Spread like a banyan, sending down live piers, Colonies of digression, and, in them,
Germs of yet new migrations; once by the ears, They could convey damnation in a hem,
And blow the pinch of premise-priming off
Each had a theory that the human ear A providential tunnel was, which led
To a huge vacuüm, (and surely here They showed some knowledge of the general
head, For cant to be decanted through, a mere Auricular canal or raceway to be fed
All day and night, in sunshine and in shower, From their vast heads of milk-and-water-power.
The present being a peculiar case,
Put his spurred hobby through its very pace, Pished, pshawed, poohed, horribled, bahed, jeered,
sneered, flouted, Sniffed, nonsensed, infideled, fudged, with his
face Looked scorn too nicely shaded to be shouted,
And, with each inch of person and of vesture, Contrived to hint some most disdainful gesture.
At length, when their breath's end was come
about, And both could, now and then, just gasp “im
Holding their heads thrust menacingly out, As staggering cocks keep up their fighting pos
ture, The stranger smiled and said, Beyond a
doubt 'Tis fortunate, my friends, that you have lost your
United parts of speech, or it had been
“ Produce ! says Nature,—what have you pro
duced ? A new straitwaistcoat for the human mind; Are you not limbed, nerved, jointed, arteried,
juiced As other men ? yet, faithless to your kind,
Rather like noxious insects you are used To puncture life's fair fruit, beneath the rind Laying your creed-eggs whence in time there
spring Consumers new to eat and buzz and sting.
“Work! you have no conception how 'twill
sweeten Your views of Life and Nature, God and Man; Had you been forced to earn what you have
eaten, Your heaven had shown a less dyspeptic plan ;
At present your whole function is to eat ten
Were your shape true to cosmogonic laws,
“Of all the useless beings in creation The earth could spare most easily you bakers Of little clay gods, formed in shape and
fashion Precisely in the image of their makers;
Why, it would almost move a saint to passion, To see these blind and deaf, the hourly breakers
Of God's own image in their brother men,