Thomas Aird

A Father's Curse: A Dream, In Four Versions: Version Second

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The Bow was on the East:
One horn descending on a snow-white flock
Of lambs at rest upon a sleek hill-side,
The other showered its saffron and its blue
Down on a band of young girls in the vale,
Tossing their ringlets in their linkèd dance,
Laughing and winking to the glimmering sheen:
Through them and over them the glory fell,
Into the emerald meadow bending inward.
Beneath its arch,
Of beauty built, of promise, and of safety,
I saw that father as a woodman go;
And wide behind him ran his little boy.
They reached a woody gallery of hills,
And there that father felled the lofty trees,
Whose rustling leaves shook down their twinkling drops,
Wetting his clear axe, glittering in the sun.
Perversely sate aloof, and turned away,
Nor gratified his parent with attention
To what he did, with questions all between,
That boy among the ferns, intently fixed,
Plaiting a crown of rushes white and green.
He tore it with fierce glee.
He tore his flowerets, gathered as he came,
Wildings of coloured summer, heeding ne'er
The freaks and fancies in their spotted cups.
The young outglancing arrows of his eye
Were tipped with cruel pleasure, as he sprung
With froward shoutings leaping through the wood,
O'er shadows lying on the dewy grass,
Hunting a dragon-fly with shivering wings.
The wild-bees swinging in the bells of flowers,
Sucking the honeyed seeds with murmurs hoarse,
Were crushed to please him, for that fly escaped.
The callow hedgelings chirping through the briar
He caught, and tore their fluttering little wings;
Then hied to where came down a sunless glade,
Cold tinkling waters through the soft worn earth,
Never sun-visited, but when was seen
His green and yellow hair from out the west
Thro' thinner trees, spun 'twixt the fresh broad leaves—
But ne'er it warmed the ground, bare save where tufts
Of trailing plants for ever wet and cold,
And tender stools of slippery fungi grew:
There in a sweet pellucid pool, that boy
Drowned the young birds of summer one by one.
Back came he near his father,
Yet to him turned not; whistling, looking round
To see what farther mischief he could do;
Then laid him down and dug into the ground.
Oft turned to him the while
His father fondly looked: Heart-crowding thoughts
Of boyhood's growing wants, and coming youth,
Strengthened a parent's loins: faint shall they not,
Strong for his son shall be: forth shall he tread
The summer slope, the winter's dun green hill
Where melting hail is mingled with the grass,
To strike the gnarled elbows of the oaks.
Now, as he turned renewed unto his toil,
His bosom swelled into the heavèd stroke.
The self-willed boy,
Perversely angry that his father spake not,
And holding in his heart a contest with him,
Formed by himself, of coldness best sustained,
Refrained no longer, but looked round in spite:
He saw the sunbeam through the pillared trees
Fall on his father's bald and polished head,
Bowing and rising to the labouring axe;
Mouth, eye, and finger mocked that father's head!

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Thomas Aird