19. An Apostate -

" Barque, Easter barque, with happier freight
Than Spanish spoil of Inca plate;
Which vernal glidest from the strand
Of statues poised like angels fair;
On March morn sailest — starting, fanned
Auspicious by Sardinian air;
And carriest boughs thro' Calpe's gate
To Norman ports and Belgian land,
That the Green Sunday, even there,
No substituted leaf may wear,
Holly or willow's lither wand,
But sprays of Christ's canonic tree,
Rome's Palma Christi by decree,
The Date Palm; ah, in bounty launch,
Thou blessed Easter barque, to me
Hither one consecrated branch!"

So Rolfe in burst, and turned toward Vine;
But he the thorn-wreath still did twine.
Rolfe watched him busy there and dumb,
Then cried: " Did gardens favour it,
How would I match thee here, and sit
Wreathing Christ's flower, chrysanthemum."

Erelong the Syrian they view
In slow ascent, and also two
Between him and the peak — one wight,
An Arab with a pouch, nor light,
A desert Friday to the one
Who went before him, coming down,
Shagged Crusoe, by the mountain spur.
This last, when he the votary meets
Sad climbing slow, him loudly greets,
Stopping with questions which refer
In some way to the crag amort —
The crag, since thitherward his hand
Frequent he waves, as with demand
For some exact and clear report
Touching the place of his retreat
Aloft. As seemed, in neutral plight
Submiss responds the anchorite,
The wallet dropped beside his feet.
These part. Master and man now ply
Yet down the slope; and he in van —
Round-shouldered, and tho' gray yet spry —
A hammer swung.
I've met that man
Elsewhere (thought Clarel) — he whose cry
And gibe came up from the dung-gate
In hollow, when we scarce did wait
His nearer speech and wagging head,
The saint and I — But naught he said
Hereof.
The stranger closer drew;
And Rolfe breathed " This now is a Jew —
German, I deem — but readvised —
An Israelite, say, Hegelised —
Convert to science, for but see
The hammer: yes, geology."
As now the other's random sight
On Clarel mute and Vine is thrown,
He misinterprets their grave plight;
And, with a banter in the tone,
Amused he cries: " Now, now, yon height —
Come, let it not alarm: a mount
Whereof I 've taken strict account
(Its first geologist, believe),
And, if my eyes do not deceive,
'Tis Jura limestone, every spur;
Yes, and tho' signs the rocks imprint
Which of Plutonic action hint,
No track is found, I plump aver,
Of Pluto's footings — Lucifer."

The punning mock and manner stirred
Repugnance in fastidious Vine;
But Rolfe, who tolerantly heard,
Parleyed, and won him to define
At large his rovings on the height.
The yester-afternoon and night
He 'd spent there, sleeping in a cave —
Part for adventure, part to spite
The superstition, and outbrave.
'Twas a severe ascent, he said;
In bits a ladder of steep stone
With toe-holes cut, and worn, each one
By eremites long centuries dead.
And of his cullings too, he told:
His henchman here, the Arab wight,
Bare solid texts from Bible old —
True Rock of Ages, he averred.
To read before a learned board,
When home regained should meet his sight,
A monograph he would indite —
The theme, that crag.
He went his way
To win the tower. Little they say;
But Clarel started at the view
Which showed opposed the anchorite
Ascetical and — such a Jew.
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