To A Steward

- Primula

(an adaptation from To a Skylark by Percy Blythe Shelley)

Hail to thee, proud Steward!
Crown thy'll never fill
That from high throne, or near it,
Pourest thy full will
In profuse strains of premeditated ill.

Higher still and higher
From the tower thou gazest
Like a cloud of fire,
The black deep thou seekest,
And broken, still dost seek, the future ever bleakest.

In the reddened lightning
Of the smothered sun,
O'er which clouds are frightening,
Thou dost burn and bend
Like an unbodied Man whose race has met its end.

The pale people even
Melt away from flame;
Like no fire of Heaven,
They refuse the blame:
Thou art alone, but yet they hear thy shrill in flame,

Keen once were your arrows,
Before sphere a-glowed;
Whose intense lamp narrows,
In the darkness holds
Until you hardly see, and feel that this is bold.

All the Land you had,
By thy voice aloud,
There with scepter clad,
Steward's head unbowed
You ruled for many a year, tho' so lately overproud.

What thou wert we know not;
What was most like thee?
From Mordor clouds there flow not
Ash so dark to see
As from thy glory showers this rain of misery.

Like a wounding hidden
Behind wall of thought,
Secrecy unbidden,
Thinking ill is wrought
To sympathy with wife and sons it heeded not:

Lay your son embower'd
Upon oil-dark wood,
By dark fate deflower'd
Of life as he stood
To obey you as such as heavy-hearted could.

No more, no Steward -
Such black thoughts are thine:
You have never heard
Praise of love or wine
That panted forth such flood of lies, and naught repine.

What objects were the fountains
Of thy fearsome strain?
What fields, or ships, or mountains?
What shapes of sky or plain?
What help of thine own kind? what ignorance of pain?

With thy keen clairvoyance
Deceit cannot be:
Shadow of annoyance
Never conquer thee:
Thou hopest: but ne'er knew truth's sad satiety.

Waking or asleep,
Thou of death must dream,
Far more bleak and deep,
In grasping madness deem,
Or how could thy oil flow in such a crystal stream?

You look upon the cloven,
And pine for what is not:
Your sincerest trove in
Eldest, pain is fraught;
Bitter dreg, the oaths of those telling saddest thought.

Your second son you scorned -
Hate, and pride, and fear;
All these things were borne
Not to shed a tear.
He know not how thy mind bent down with grief and fear.

Better than all measures,
True justice as dovecote,
Better than all treasures
Placed in books by rote,
Thy skill as Steward, thou scorner now of hope!

Teach us now forgiveness,
For thy brain must know,
Such harmonious madness
From thy lips would flow;
Your son should listen then, as we are listening now.