Dukalon - Ii. Poem by Timothy Thomas Fortune

Dukalon - Ii.

Sophine unsuited was to Dukalon
In all that makes community of aim
And purpose—that blest singleness alone

Which melts two lives in one, with common name
And aspiration, having only eyes
That see each other's beauties. They must tame,

Who wed, their soul's desire for change; be wise
And satisfied to live apart in that
They have absorbed; seeing no other skies

Than those that canopy their home. To rate
No other love as that which is their own
Resolves the dual into th' unit state.

The man and woman must become as one
When they assume the marriage obligation;
And if, in all and all, this be not done,

A deep unrest, and even desperation,
Will make their loveless lives an earthly hell.
Young Dukalon, in vain exasperation,

Lived this, and more, which, as the Voudoo's spell,
Was as a haunting madness in the brain,
Making his heart like ocean billows swell

With vainest of resolves; each one a chain
That bound him to the life he loathed, because
He could not 'scape it, but must bear the pain

Of constant friction with it, since the laws,
And his high sense of duty, held him fast
In hated bonds! The wind takes up the straws

The sturdy mowers on the wayside cast,
And then the light twigs where it listeth blows;
How oft th' unguarded actions of the past

The present with dread terrors fill—with woes,
With burnings of the heart, with wailing hate
That dies on th' air, with curses for our foes—

Until all th' earth to us seems desolate,
In which is heard no more a friendly voice
To cheer us in the fight with adverse Fate!

Actions are mysteries we cannot poise
Upon the vain philosophies we deem
Dissolvents of our doubts. The poet's choice

Had been to bear his yoke, howe'er his dream
Had bodied forth for him companion sweet,
Whose life should melt into his own and seem

A portion of his life. His untried feet
Had stumbled in the path! His mind, oppressed,
Trembled, as one who suffers dire defeat.

His manly resolution but distressed
Him all the more as fickle Time disclosed
How much of Discontent he was possessed—

How weak the vessel was in which reposed
The first rich fruit of his impulsive youth!
A towering Trojan wall had now enclosed

His life. How could he scale its heights, forsooth,
How 'scape the tyranny himself had made?
Alas! the dangers in a hasty troth!

Him should he let this tyranny degrade
When love, content, domestic harmony,
Had all dissolved, as does a twilight shade,

Leaving him nothing but regrets? Should he
The agony prolong, all hope forswear,
Endure a bondage whose slow misery

Tortures and destroys? Must he then bear
The strain until his strength could bear no more,
And wasted nature yield to phantom care?

As a vessel in the tempest's shock and roar,
Did Dukalon's emotions move and sway
His every purpose, and would evermore,

Shutting from him contentment's genial ray,
With all its inspiration, and making
Tartarean gloom! The future—had it a day

He saw not, wherein flowers of laughing Spring
Would gladden hedge, and garden, and the field,
And birds their joyous melodies would sing?

Or would the night forever throw its shield
Of cureless woe about his life, enchain
Him to a loveless mate, his lips be sealed,

Speechless, save in regret, remorse and pain?
The sun shone forth in royal majesty;
The flowers blossomed in field and dell and plain;

But Dukalon their beauties could not see.
The groves were vocal, but escaped his ears.
Stone-blind and deaf and speechless is mis'ry

In noble men. It finds in voiceless tears
Expression, all unseen, unheard; if, too,
That source be not dried up, as oft appears.

There are, indeed, degrees of human woe,
Not visible, that eat the vital parts
As fires within the earth that burn and glow

Forever, till a spiral column darts
Into the skies, and granite mountains heave
And mankind quake in homes and crowded marts.

So Nature works. All who rejoice or grieve,
In silence or loud lamentation, feel
The pain no earthly physic can relieve.

Accursed is Adam's seed! Does Death's sharp steel,
Cutting the thread of life, destroy the pains
To which the flesh is heir, for woe or weal?

Why fill the future state with woes, with chains,
Undreamed of in the justice of the Lord,
When present time more than its share contains?

Go! 'Let the dead past bury its dead' horde!
Go! Let the future its dread secrets keep!
Go! Live the present! Why dread th' unseen sword

Suspended o'er our heads? What if it leap
From its hair chain this instant that we pause
And plunge us into gloom as Styx is deep!

Our destiny is shaped by binding laws,
Irrevocable! And none can estimate
One inch of space to right the seeming flaws

That lure us to our doom. The poet's fate
Had been a pleasing thing. His days had sped
Away like dreams. The future seemed to wait,

Expectant of his coming, but to lead
Him up the sacred mount of Fame and Power,
And crown him with ambition's glorious meed.

And he had built upon the happy hour
Thus pictured to his view, as dreamers will;
Nor reeked he of the furious storms that lower

Forever o'er the Future's path. And still,
When darkness came, he hoped and trusted Time
Would yet the promise of the past fulfill;

But all in vain! He upward ceased to climb—
Stood still. The burden was too great to bear—
Despair replaced his hopes and thoughts sublime.

His nature was to furious gales of care,
In all, untempered, and Misfortune's frown
Withered his hopes, as poison in the air,

And made him purposeless. As he had sown,
So must he reap. But all unused was he
To pluck the thistle where the rose had grown;

To find the bitters where the sweets should be;
To weep where he had smiled; to hate the thing
He had adored; to sigh and long to free

Himself from loveless chains! The bird may sing,
A prisoner in a cage; but will his song
With Freedom's rapturous joy and gladness ring?

No! No! His notes, however clear and strong,
Will ring with desolation of his state,
Will plead again his mates to be among.

You have upon sweet Freedom but the gate
To shut, and bolt the prisoner within,
T' arouse grim vengeance and relentless hate.

Nor can escape this hate the man of sin,
The man of blameless life, or brave, or meek;
Desperate resolves, where Freedom ends, begin.

Young Dukalon a prison strong and bleak,
In innocence and confidence, had made;
Nor through its walls could he a passage break,

Securely caged within its cheerless shade.
And never victim of Illusion yet
Felt loveless chains his manhood so degrade!

In home, in solitude, did sigh and fret
The hapless youth, unmindful of the things
That gave him pleasure once; could not forget

The irritations of the hour. The strings
Of hope were snapped asunder. All undone
Ambition was; dried up life's cooling springs!

And Dukalon a student was, and won
The honest praise of men, and women, too,
By loftiness of purpose. His life had run

In currents smooth till now. And, as is true
Of all who matchless genius do possess,
Much in himself he lived, and lessons drew

From Nature in her fadeless loveliness;
Scorning the social smallness of the day—
Its endless gossip and the emptiness

That passed for wit amongst the thoughtless gay,
And e'en the learned few, who can unbend,
And list to those who nothing have to say.

Not so with Dukalon. To condescend,
To waste the precious hours in idle prating,
With noodles for a woman's smiles contend,

In Fashion's vacuous haunts to seek his rating—
These Dukalon a passing notice gave;
All satisfied to see them through a grating,

Standing afar off—solemn, dreamful, grave.
When there came feelings of a sober kind,
'Twas not in crowded halls, where sane men rave

And women shriek, thinking they pleasure find
In sensual waltz and babalistic noise;
But, rather, in the fields and woods his mind

Congenial freedom found. There could rejoice
In nature's grand, surpassing loveliness,
Young Dukalon, his fancy give a voice;

And he would people the vast wilderness
With pulsing form and life; and human pain
And aspiration lost their bitterness,

Under the soothing spell that oft hath slain
The genius that had trusted in its power.
But now it seemed to him that not again

Would come the rapture of such halcyon hour.
The genii of the place, his dreams, had fled,
As flies the sun before a thunder shower.

'The concord of sweet sounds' that so had fed
His thirsting soul were heard no more, and he
Had lost the mastery of song; was dead

To every feeling, save the misery
Of domestic inharmony and woe.
Of this no word was said, and ne'er could be,

Of harshness or reproach. He could not show,
Save in silence studied, the discontent
That drove the animation from his brow,

The roses from his cheeks—which may have spent
Their bloom in his dead eyes, so dull they were
And lustreless. And so, where'er he went,

Whate'er he did, a haunting shadow near
Pursued and harassed him. The young Sophine,
Unlike her lord, gave not her life to care,

But sought and found, a reigning social queen,
Oblivion of the love her home denied;
Nor was she troubled. Love had never been,

E'en when she stood by young Dukalon's side,
Before the man of God, more than a thought,
Vague and unformed, in which to be a bride,

The bride of Dukalon, her fancy caught,
E'en as the spider's web ensnares the fly;
Thoughtless that precious jewels oft are sought

A fatal vanity to satisfy,
Since death or endless trouble follows fast
Possession. But stone-blind is vanity;

It recks not of the future, and the past—
Is past. The newest toy controls its whim;
And while the fancy, satisfied, doth last,

The pleasing thing before the eyes doth swim,
Seducing to sweet but treacherous repose
The thoughtless, yet all delighted victim.

Thus with Sophine. She was a gorgeous rose,
Charming to see, but odorless and cold,
That flourished in Dukalon's wintry snows.

Shallow in all her nature, she could hold
No serious thought; yet deemed that she had made
A splendid choice. She could not find the gold

Beneath the poet's brow of gloom and shade,
Nor cared a doit, so vain she was and blind.
In priceless fabrics when she was arrayed,

With social pleasures hedged about, her mind
And soul steeped in the splendors of the hour,
The poet's moods could not her fancy bind.

She loved him not a whit, nor thought him sour,
But shunned him, since she could not comprehend
The vastness of his mental depth and power;

She left him to himself. They could not blend
Their natures, so unlike were they. Thus wide
And wider grew the path they did descend!

And she was cheerful, full of empty pride,
Finding relief in ample wealth's display;
While gloomy he, brooding o'er joys denied,
Lost in the tortuous windings of life's way.

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