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                                Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came

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                                Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came
                                by ROBERT BROWNING (1812-1889)
                                I.

                                My first thought was, he lied in every word,
                                That hoary cripple, with malicious eye
                                Askance to watch the working of his lie
                                On mine, and mouth scarce able to afford
                                Suppression of the glee, that pursed and scored
                                Its edge, at one more victim gained thereby.
                                II.

                                What else should he be set for, with his staff?
                                What, save to waylay with his lies, ensnare
                                All travellers who might find him posted there,
                                And ask the road? I guessed what skull-like laugh
                                Would break, what crutch ‘gin write my epitaph
                                For pastime in the dusty thoroughfare,
                                III.

                                If at his counsel I should turn aside
                                Into that ominous tract which, all agree,
                                Hides the Dark Tower. Yet acquiescingly
                                I did turn as he pointed: neither pride
                                Nor hope rekindling at the end descried,
                                So much as gladness that some end might be.
                                IV.

                                For, what with my whole world-wide wandering,
                                What with my search drawn out thro’ years, my hope
                                Dwindled into a ghost not fit to cope
                                With that obstreperous joy success would bring,
                                I hardly tried now to rebuke the spring
                                My heart made, finding failure in its scope.
                                V.

                                As when a sick man very near to death
                                Seems dead indeed, and feels begin and end
                                The tears and takes the farewell of each friend,
                                And hears one bid the other go, draw breath
                                Freelier outside, (“since all is o’er,” he saith,
                                “And the blow falIen no grieving can amend;”)
                                VI.

                                While some discuss if near the other graves
                                Be room enough for this, and when a day
                                Suits best for carrying the corpse away,
                                With care about the banners, scarves and staves:
                                And still the man hears all, and only craves
                                He may not shame such tender love and stay.
                                VII.

                                Thus, I had so long suffered in this quest,
                                Heard failure prophesied so oft, been writ
                                So many times among “The Band”—to wit,
                                The knights who to the Dark Tower’s search addressed
                                Their steps—that just to fail as they, seemed best,
                                And all the doubt was now—should I be fit?
                                VIII.

                                So, quiet as despair, I turned from him,
                                That hateful cripple, out of his highway
                                Into the path he pointed. All the day
                                Had been a dreary one at best, and dim
                                Was settling to its close, yet shot one grim
                                Red leer to see the plain catch its estray.
                                IX.

                                For mark! no sooner was I fairly found
                                Pledged to the plain, after a pace or two,
                                Than, pausing to throw backward a last view
                                O’er the safe road, ’twas gone; grey plain all round:
                                Nothing but plain to the horizon’s bound.
                                I might go on; nought else remained to do.
                                X.

                                So, on I went. I think I never saw
                                Such starved ignoble nature; nothing throve:
                                For flowers—as well expect a cedar grove!
                                But cockle, spurge, according to their law
                                Might propagate their kind, with none to awe,
                                You’d think; a burr had been a treasure-trove.
                                XI.

                                No! penury, inertness and grimace,
                                In some strange sort, were the land’s portion. “See
                                “Or shut your eyes,” said nature peevishly,
                                “It nothing skills: I cannot help my case:
                                ” ‘Tis the Last judgment’s fire must cure this place,
                                “Calcine its clods and set my prisoners free.”
                                XII.

                                If there pushed any ragged thistle-stalk
                                Above its mates, the head was chopped; the bents
                                Were jealous else. What made those holes and rents
                                In the dock’s harsh swarth leaves, bruised as to baulk
                                All hope of greenness—’tis a brute must walk
                                Pashing their life out, with a brute’s intents.
                                XIII.

                                As for the grass, it grew as scant as hair
                                In leprosy; thin dry blades pricked the mud
                                Which underneath looked kneaded up with blood.
                                One stiff blind horse, his every bone a-stare,
                                Stood stupefied, however he came there:
                                Thrust out past service from the devil’s stud!
                                XIV.

                                Alive? he might be dead for aught I know,
                                With that red gaunt and colloped neck a-strain,
                                And shut eyes underneath the rusty mane;
                                Seldom went such grotesqueness with such woe;
                                I never saw a brute I hated so;
                                He must be wicked to deserve such pain.
                                XV.

                                I shut my eyes and turned them on my heart.
                                As a man calls for wine before he fights,
                                I asked one draught of earlier, happier sights,
                                Ere fitly I could hope to play my part.
                                Think first, fight afterwards—the soldier’s art:
                                One taste of the old time sets all to rights.

                                 

                                英文诗歌My Last Duchess

                                Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came

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