10. Rambles -

Days fleet. They rove the storied ground —

Tread many a site that rues the ban

Where serial wrecks on wrecks confound

Era and monument and man;

Or rather, in stratifying way

Bed and impact and overlay.

The Hospitallers' cloisters shamed

Crumble in ruin unreclaimed

On shivered Fatamite palaces

Reared upon crash of Herod's sway —

In turn built on the Maccabees,

And on King David's glory, they;

And David on antiquities

Of Jebusites and Ornan's floor,

And hunters' camps of ages long before.

So Glenroy's tiers of beaches be —

Abandoned margins of the Glacial Sea.

Amid that waste from joy debarred,

How few the islets fresh and green;

Yet on Moriah, tree and sward

In Allah's courts park-like were seen

From roof near by; below, fierce ward

Being kept by Mauritanian guard

Of bigot blacks. But of the reign

Of Christ did no memento live

Save soil and ruin? Negative

Seemed yielded in that crumbling fane,

Erst gem to Baldwin's sacred fief,

The chapel of our Dame of Grief.

But hard by Ophel's winding base.

Well watered by the runnel led,

A spot they found, not lacking grace,

Named Garden of King Solomon,

Tho' now a cauliflower-bed

To serve the kitchens of the town.

One day as here they came from far,

The saint repeated with low breath,

" Adonijah, Adonijah —

The stumbling-stone of Zoheleth."

He wanders, Clarel thought — but no,

For text and chapter did he show

Narrating how the prince in glade,

This very one, the banquet made,

The plotters' banquet, long ago,

Even by the stone named Zoheleth;

But startled by the trump that blew,

Proclaiming Solomon, pale grew

With all his guests.

From lower glen

They slanted up the steep, and there

Attained a higher terraced den,

Or small and silent field, quite bare.

The mentor breathed: " Come early here

A sign thou 'lt see." — Clarel drew near;

" What sign?" he asked. Whereto with sighs:

" Abashed by morning's holy eyes

This field will crimson, and for shame."

Struck by his fantasy and frame,

Clarel regarded him for time,

Then noted that dull reddish soil,

And caught sight of a thing of grime

Whose aspect made him to recoil —

A rotting charnel-house forlorn

Midway inearthed, caved in and torn.

And Clarel knew — one scarce might err —

The field of blood, the bad Aceldama.

By Olivet in waning day

The saint in fond illusion went,

Dream mixed with legend and event;

And as with reminiscence fraught,

Narrated in his rambling way

How here at eve was Christ's resort,

The last low sheep-bell tinkling lone —

Christ and the dear disciple — John.

Oft by the Golden Gate that looks

On Shaveh down, and far across

Toward Bethany's secluded nooks —

That gate which sculptures rare emboss

In arches twin; the same where rode

Christ entering with secret load —

Same gate, or on or near the site —

When palms were spread to left and right

Before Him, and with sweet acclaim

Were waved by damsels under sway

Of trees wherefrom those branches came —

Over and under palms He went

Unto that crown how different!

The port walled up by Moslem hands

In dread of that predicted day

When pealing hymns, armed Christian bands —

So Islam seers despondent vouch —

Shall storm it, wreathed in Mary's May:

By that sealed gate, in languor's slouch,

How listless in the golden day,

Clarel the mentor frequent heard

The time for Christ's return allot:

A dream, and like a dream it blurred

The sense — faded, and was forgot

Moved by some mystic impulse, far

From motive known or regular,

The saint would thus his lore unfold,

Though inconclusive; yes, half told

The theme he 'd leave, then nod, droop, doze —

Start up and prattle — sigh, and close.

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