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From Ancient and Mediaeval Literature Westwind takes the best. Its stories and poems have stood the test of time. They interested and moved the world of yesterday--they inspire the best work of today. They have been buried in our libraries but they are not dead, Westwind makes them live again as in the past.
Volume VI, No. 5 - One Dollar Per Year. Single Copies 10c.
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|The Battle of Otterbourne, from the French of Froissart, 14th Century
Translated by Thomas Johnes.
Two Fragments, from the Greek of Sappho, 6th Century B.C.
Translated by Thomas Davidson.
The Sparrow and his Mate, from the Turkish of Sheik-Zada, 15th Century
Translated by E. Wilson.
An Escape From Friends, from the Persian of Sa'di, 13th Century
Translated by J. T. Platts.
The Gita Govinda, from the Sanskrit of Jayadeva
Translated by Sir Edwin Arnold.
University Extension Department.
Reported for Westwind from a Lecture by Charles Mills Gayley of the University of California.
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The Spirit of Emotion
From a Photograoh of a Statue by Debut in the Grand Opera House, Paris
Published Monthly by Westwind Company
C. P. Manchester, Editor
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Vol. VI - May, 1911 - No. 5
|The Battle of Otterbourne
From the French of Froissart, 14th Century
Translated by Thomas Johnes
Beyond all other races the French has been blessed with men of action who were also men with the literary gift. The "chronicles" of other lands are as a rule dry annals, which at best are only the raw material from which history might be written, but the chronicles of such men as Villehardouin, Joinville, Froissart, Comines and others are in themselves real live literary history. These men wrote of the things they lived and saw and knew, and they wrote in a style that has made their works permanent literature. Froissart is a sort of mediaeval Herodotus. He was in the true sense a cosmopolitan, traveling about securing first-hand information for his book, and writing all with delightfully simple impartiality.
In the long history of border warfare between England and Scotland, probably the battles of Otterbourne, Chevy Chase and Bannockburn have held a larger place in popular imagination and in romance than any others. Each has been told in song and story, and there is hardly a collection of British ballads in which Otterbourne and Chevy Chase - the Percys and the Douglases - do not play a part. The story told by Froissart is probably the only authentic and accurate account of the battle of Otterbourne that has been handed down by a contemporary. The following paragraph from Froissart himself may well serve as an introduction to his account of the battle:
"I learned the particulars of the battle from knights and squires who had been engaged in it on both sides. There were also with the English two valiant knights from the country of Foix, whom I had the good fortune to meet at Orthes, the year after the battle had been fought. On my return from Foix, I met likewise, at Avignon, a knight and two squires of Scotland, of the party of Douglas. They knew me again, from the recollections I brought to their minds of their own country; for in my youth I, the author of this history, traveled through Scotland, and was full fifteen days resident with William, Earl of Douglas, father of Earl James, of whom we are now speaking, at his castle at Dalkeith, five miles from Edinburgh. At that time Earl James was very young, though a promising youth; he had also a sister named Blanche. I had, therefore, my information from both parties, and they agree that it was the hardest and most obstinate battle that was ever fought. This I readily believe, for the English and Scots are excellent men-at-arms, and never spare each other when they meet in battle, nor is there any check to their courage as long as their weapons last. When they have well beaten each other, and one party is victorious, they are so proud of the conquest that they ransom their prisoners instantly, and act in such a courteous manner to those who have been taken that on their departure they return them thanks. However, when engaged in war, there is no child's play between them, nor do they shrink from combat; and in the details of this battle you will see as excellent deeds as were ever performed."
As soon as the earls of Douglas, Moray and March were separated from the main body, they determined to cross the Tyne, and enter the bishopric of Durham, and after they had despoiled and burned that country as far as the city of Durham, to return by Newcastle, and quarter themselves there in spite of the English. This they executed, and riding at a good pace through by-roads, without attacking town, castle or house, arrived on the lands of the lord Percy, and crossed the Tyne without any opposition at the place they had fixed on, three leagues above Newcastle, near to Brancepeth, where they entered the rich country of Durham, and instantly began their war by burning towns, and, slaying the inhabitants. Neither the Earl of Northumberland, nor the barons and kinghts of the country, had heard anything of the invasion; but when intelligence came to Durham and Newcastle that the Scots were abroad, which was now visible enough, from the smoke that was everywhere seen, the earl sent his two sons, Sir Henry and Sir Ralph Percy, to Newcastle, while he himself remained at Alnwick and issued his orders.
In the meantime the Scots continued burning and destroying all before them. At the gates of Durham they skirmished, but made no long stay, setting out on their return as they had planned at the beginning of the expedition, and carrying away all the booty they could. Between Durham and Newcastle, which is about twelve English miles, the country is very rich, and there was not a town in all this district, unless well enclosed, that was not burned.
All the knights and squires of the country collected at Newcastle; thither came the seneschal of York, Sir Ralph Langley, Sir Matthew Redman, Sir Robert Ogle, Sir John Felton, Sir William Walsingham, and so many others, that the town could not lodge them all. These three Scottish lords, having completed the object of their first expedition in Durham, lay three days before Newcastle, were there was an almost continuous skirmish. The sons of the Earl of Northumberland, from their great courage, were always first at the barriers. The Earl of Douglas had a long conflict with Sir Henry Percy, and in it, by gallantry of arms, won his pennon, to the great vexation of Sir Henry and the other English. The earl, as he bore away his prize, said, "I will carry this token of your prowess with me to Scotland, and place it on the tower of my castle at Dalkeith, that it may be seen from far." "By God," replied Sir Henry, "you shall not even bear it out of Northumberland; be assured you shall never have this pennon to brag of." "You must come this night and seek it, then," answered Earl Douglas; "I will fix your pennon before my tent, and shall see if you will venture to take it away." As it was now late, the skirmish ended, and each party retired to their quarters, They had plenty of everything, particularly fresh meat. The Scots kept up a very strict watch, concluding from the words of Sir Henry Percy that their quarters would be beaten up in the night time; however, they were disappointed, for Sir Henry, was advised to defer his attack.
On the morrow the Scots dislodged from Newcastle, and taking the road to their own country came to a town and castle called Pontland, of which Sir Raymond de Laval was lord: here they halted about four o'clock in the morning, and made preparations for an assault, which was carried on with such courage that the place was easily won, and Sir Raymond made prisoner. Then they marched away for Otterbourne, which is eight English leagues from Newcastle, and there encamped. This day they made no attack, but very early on the morrow the trumpet sounded, when all advanced toward the castle, which was tolerably strong, and situated among marshes. After a long and unsuccessful attack, they were forced to retire, and the chiefs held a council how they should act. The greater part were for decamping on the morrow, joining their countrymen in the neighborhood of Carlisle. This, however, the Earl of Douglas overruled by saying, "In despite of Sir Henry Percy, who, the day before yesterday, declared he would take from me his pennon, I will not depart hence for two or three days. We will renew our attack on the castle, for it is to be taken, and we shall see if he will come for his pennon." Everyone agreed to what Earl Douglas said. They made huts of trees and branches, and fortified themselves as well as they could, placing their baggage and servants at the entrance of the marsh, on the road to Newcastle, and driving the cattle into the marsh lands.
I will now return to Sir Henry and Sir Ralph Percy, who were both greatly mortified that this Earl of Douglas should have conquered their pension, and who felt the disgrace the more because Sir Henry had not kept his word. The English imagined the army under the Earl of Douglas to be only the van of the Scots, and that the main body was behind, for which reason those knights who had the most experience in arms strongly opposed the proposal of Sir Henry Percy to pursue them. They said, "Many losses happen in war; if the Earl of Douglas has won your pennon he has bought it dear enough, and another time you will gain from him as much, if not more. The whole power of Scotland have taken the field. We are not strong enough to offer them battle; perhaps this skirmish may have been only a trick to draw us out of the town. It is much better to lose a pennon than 200 or 300 knights and squires, and leave our country in a defenceless state." This speech checked the eagerness of the two Percys, when other news was brought them by some knights and squires, who had followed and observed the Scots, their number and disposition. "Sir Henry and Ralph Percy," they said, "we are come to tell you that we have followed the Scottish army, and observed all the country where they now are. They halted first at Pontland, and took Sir Raymond de Laval in his castle. Thence they went to Otterbourne, and took up their quarters for the night. We are ignorant of what they did on the morrow; but they seemed to have taken measures for a long stay. We know for certain that the army does not consist of more than 3,000 men, including all sorts." Sir Henry Percy, on hearing this, was greatly rejoiced, and cried out, "To horse, To horse! For by the faith I owe to God, and to my lord and father, I will seek to recover my pennon, and beat up the Scots' quarters this night." Such knights and squires in Newcastle as learned this, and were willing to be of the party, made themselves ready. The Bishop of Durham was daily expected at that town, for he had heard that the Scots lay before it, and that the sons of the Earl of Northumberland were preparing to offer them battle. The bishop had collected a number of men, and was hastening to their assistance; but Sir Henry Percy would not wait, for he had with him 600 spears of knights and squires, and upward of 8,000 infantry, which he said would be more than enough to fight the Scots, who were but 300 lances and 2,000 others. When all were assembled, they left Newcastle after dinner, and took the field in good array, following the road the Scots had taken toward Otterbourne, which was only eight short leagues distant.
The Scots were supping, and some indeed asleep, when the English arrived, and mistook, at the entrance, the huts of the servants for those of their masters; they forced their way into the camp, which was tolerably strong, shouting out, "Percy, Percy!" In such cases, you may suppose, an alarm is soon given, and it was fortunate for the Scots the English had made the first attack upon the servants' quarters, which checked them some little. The Scots, expecting the English, had prepared accordingly; for, while the lords were arming themselves, they ordered a body of the infantry to join their servants and keep up the skirmish. As their men were armed, they formed themselves under the pennons of the three principal barons, who each had his particular appointment.
In the meantime the night advanced; but it was sufficiently light for them to see what they were doing, for the moon shone, and it was the month of August, when the weather is temperate and serene. When the Scots were properly arrayed, they left the camp in silence, but did not march to meet the English. During the preceding day they had well examined the country, and settled their plans beforehand, which, indeed, was the saving of them. The English had soon overpowered the servants; but as they advanced into the camp they found fresh bodies of men ready to oppose them and to continue the fight. The Scots, in the meantime, marched along the mountainside, and fell on the enemy's flank quite unexpectedly, shouting their war-cries. This was a great surprise to the English who, however, formed themselves in better order and re-enforced that part of the army.
The cries of Percy and Douglas resounded on each side. The battle now raged. Great was the pushing of lances, and at the first onset very many of each party were struck down. The English, being more numerous than their opponents, kept in a compact body and forced the Scots to retire. But the Earl of Douglas, being young and eager to gain renown in arms, ordered his banner to advance, shouting, "Douglas, Douglas!" Sir Henry and Sir Ralph Percy, indignant at the affront the Earl of Douglas had put on them by conquering their pennon, and desirous of meeting him, hastened to the place from which the sounds came, calling out, "Percy, Percy!" The two banners met, and many gallant deeds of arms ensued. The English were in superior strength, and fought so lustily that they drove the Scots back. Sir Patrick Hepburne and his son did honor to their knighthood and country under the banner of Douglas, which would have been conquered but for the vigorous defence they made; and this circumstance not only contributed to their personal credit, but the memory of it is continued with honor to their descendants.
The knights and squires of either party were most anxious to continue the combat with vigor, as long as their spears might be capable of holding. Cowardice was unknown among them, and the most splendid courage everywhere exhibited by the gallant youths of England and Scotland; they were so densely intermixed that the archers' bows were useless, and they fought hand to hand, without either battalion giving way. The Scots behaved most valiantly, for the English were three to one. I do not mean to say that the English did not acquit themselves well; for they would sooner be slain or made prisoners in battle than reproached with flight.
As I before mentioned, the two banners of Douglas and Percy met, and the men-at-arms under each exerted themselves by every means to gain the victory; but the English, at the attack, were so much the stronger that the Scots were driven back. The Earl of Douglas, seeing his men repulsed, seized a battle-axe with both his hands; and, in order to rally his forces, dashed into the midst of his enemies, and gave such blows to all around him, that no one could withstand them, but all made way for him on every side. Thus he advanced like another Hector, thinking to conquer the field by his own prowess, until he was met by three spears that were pointed at him. One struck him on the shoulder, another on the stomach, near the belly, and the third entered his thigh. As he could not disengage himself from these spears, he was borne to the ground, still fighting desperately. From that moment, he never rose again. Some of his knights and squires had followed him, but not all; for, though the moon shone, it was rather dark. The three English lances knew they had struck down some person of considerable rank, but never supposed it was Earl Douglas; for, had they known it, they would have redoubled their courage, and the fortune of the day would have been determined to their side. The Scots also were ignorant of their loss until the battle was over; and it was fortunate for them, for otherwise they would certainly from despair have been discomfited. As soon as the earl fell his head was cleaved with a battle-axe, a spear thrust through his thigh, and the main body of the English marched over him without once supposing him to be their principal enemy.
In another part of the field the Earl of March and Dunbar fought valiantly, and the English gave full employment to the Scots who had followed the Earl of Douglas, and had engaged with the two Percys. The Earl of Moray behaved so gallantly in pursuing the English that they knew not how to resist him. Of all the battles, great or small, that have been described in this history, this of which I am now speaking was the best fought and the most severe; for there was not a man, knight or squire who did not acquit himself gallantly hand to hand with the enemy. The sons of the Earl of Northumberland, Sir Henry and Sir Ralph Percy, who were the leaders of the expedition, behaved themselved like good knights. An accident befell Sir Ralph Percy, almost similar to that which happened to the Earl of Douglas; having advanced too far, he was surrounded by the enemy and severely wounded, and being out of breath surrendered himself to a Scottish knight, called Sir John Maxwell, who was of the household of the Earl of Moray. As soon as he was made prisoner, the knight asked him who he was. Sir Ralph was so weakened by loss of blood that he had scarcely power to avow himself to be Sir Ralph Percy. "Well," replied the knight, "Sir Ralph, rescued or not, you are my prisoner: my name is Maxwell." "I agree," said Sir Ralph; "but pay me some attention, for I am so desperately wounded that my drawers and greaves are full of blood." Upon this the Scottish knight took care of him, and suddenly hearing the cry of Moray hard by, and perceiving the earl's banner advancing, Sir John addressed himself to him, and said, "My lord, I present you with Sir Ralph Percy as a prisoner; but let him be well attended to, for he is very badly wounded." The earl was much pleased, and said, "Maxwell, thou hast well earned thy spurs this day." He then ordered his men to take care of Sir Ralph, and bind up his wounds.
The battle still continued to rage, and no one, at that moment, could say which side would be the conquerers. There were many captures and rescues which never came to my knowledge. The young Earl of Douglas had performed wonders during the day. When he was struck down there was a great crowd around him, and he was unable to raise himself, for the blow on his head was mortal. His men had followed him as closely as they were able, and there came to him his cousins, Sir James Lindsay, Sir John and Sir Walter Sinclair, with other knights and squires. They found by his side a gallant knight who had constantly attended him, who was his chaplain, but who at this time had exchanged his profession for that of a valiant man-at-arms. The whole night he had followed the earl, with his battle-axe in hand, and by his exertion had more than once repulsed the English. His name was Sir William of North Berwick. To say the truth, he was well formed in all his limbs to shine in battle, and in this combat was himself severely wounded. When these knights came to the Earl of Douglas they found him in a melancholy state, as well as one of his knights, Sir Robert Hart, who had fought by his side the whole of the night, and now lay beside him covered with fifteen wounds from lances and other weapons, Sir John Sinclair asked the earl, "Cousin, how fares it with you?" "But so so," he replied; "thanks to God, there are but few of my ancestors who have died in chambers or in their beds. I bid you, therefore, revenge my death, for I have but little hope of living, as my heart becomes every minute more faint. Do you, Walter and Sir John, raise up my banner, for it is on the ground, owing to the death of Sir David Campbell, that valiant squire who bore it, and who this day refused knighthood from my hands, though he was equal to the most eminent knight for courage and loyalty. Also, continue to shout 'Douglas!' but do not tell friend or foe whether I am in your company or not; for should the enemy know the truth they will greatly rejoice." The two Sinclairs and Sir James Lindsay obeyed his orders.
The banner was raised, and "Douglas!" shouted. Those men who had remained behind, hearing the shout of Douglas so often repeated, ascended a small eminence, and pushed their lances with such courage that the English were repulsed and many killed. The Scots, by thus valiantly driving the enemy beyond the spot where Earl Douglas lay dead, for he had expired on giving his last orders, arrived at his banner, which was borne by Sir John Sinclair. Numbers were continually increasing, from the repeated shouts of "Douglas," and the greater part of the Scottish knights and squires were now there. Among them were the earls of Moray and March, with their banners and men. When all the Scots were thus collected, they renewed the battle with greater vigor than before. To say the truth, the English had harder work than the Scots, for they had come by a forced march that evening from Newcastle-on-Tyne, which was eight English leagues distant, to meet the Scots; by which means the greater part were exceedingly fatigued before the combat began. The Scots, on the contrary, had rested themselves, which was of the greatest advantage, as was apparent from the event of the battle. In this last attack they so completely repulsed the English, that the latter could never rally again, and the former drove them beyond where the Earl of Douglas lay on the ground.
During the attack, Sir Henry Percy had the misfortune to fall into the hands of the Lord Montgomery. They had fought hand to hand with much valor, and without hinderance from any one; for there was neither knight nor squire of either party who did not find there his equal to fight with, and all were fully engaged. The battle was severely fought on both sides; but such is the fickleness of fortune, that though the English were a more numerous body, and at the first onset had repulsed the Scots, they, in the end, lost the field, and very many knights were made prisoners. Just as the defeat took place, and while the combat was continued in different parts, an English squire, whose name was Thomas Felton, and who was attached to the household of Lord Percy, was surrounded by a body of Scots. He was a handsome man, and, as he showed, valiant in arms. That and the preceding night he had been employed in collecting the best arms, and would neither surrender nor deign to fly. It was told me that he had made a vow to that purpose, and had declared at some feast in Northumberland, that at the very first meeting of the Scots and English he would acquit himself so loyally, that, for having stood his ground, he should be renowned as the best combatant of both parties. I also heard, for I believe I never saw him, that his body and limbs were of strength befitting a valiant combatant; and that he performed such deeds, when engaged with the banner of the Earl of Moray, as astonished the Scots; however, he was slain while thus bravely fighting. Through admiration of his great courage they would willingly have made him a prisoner, and several knights proposed it to him; but in vain, for he thought he should be assisted by his friends. Thus died Thomas Felton, much lamented by his own party. When he fell he was engaged with a cousin of the King of Scotland, called Simon Glendinning.
According to what I heard, the battle was very bloody from its commencement to the defeat; but when the Scots saw the English were discomfited and surrendering on all sides, they behaved courteously to them. The pursuit lasted a long time, and was extended to five English miles. Had the Scots been in sufficient numbers, none of the English would have escaped death or captivity; and if Sir Archibald Douglas, the Earl of Fife, the Earl of Sutherland, with the division that had marched for Carlisle, had been there, they would have taken the Bishop of Durham and the town of Newcastle.
From the Greek of Sappho, 6th Century B. C.
Translated by Thomas Davidson
As Demosthenes in eloquence and Homer in epic poetry are considered supreme, so Sappho is by common consent acknowledged the greatest woman of genius the world has produced. So she was held by the ancients, and, on the authority of these ancients, succeeding generations have been content to let her hold the title undisturbed. Of her writings nothing remains but one short poem and a few fragments found quoted in the works of other old-time writers.
Though possessed of wealth and beauty as well as wit, and surrounded by admirers, Sappho remained unmarried until late in life. She finally married and became the mother of at least one child, a girl. Of the two fragments here given, one was written quite early in life and the other to her little daughter.
The moon hath set
The Pleiades are gone
'Tis midnight, and the time goes by,
And I - I sleep alone.
* * * * *
I have a little maid, as fair
As any golden flower,
My Cleis dear,
For whom I would not take all Lydia,
Nor lovely Lesbos here.
|The Sparrow and His Mate
From the Turkish of Sheik-Zada, 15th Century
Translated by E. Wilson
The "History of the Forty Viziers," from which the following story is taken, is a collection of eighty tales supposed to have been told to a Persian king named Khanquin, forty being related by the Queen and one each by forty different viziers. King Khanquin was blessed with a fair and worthy son; but, the mother of the boy having died, the King at length took unto himself another and a youthful wife, who in the course of time fell in love with the son. The latter repelled her advances; and, in fear lest he should inform on her, she boldly accused the young man of making love, to her and of planning to murder his father. She stated her case so circumstantially and illustrated it with so apt a story, that the next morning the King ordered the son to be executed. Before this order could be carried out, one of the viziers approached and argued in the son's behalf, illustrating the point he had made with a story, which made the King relent. In the evening the Queen told another tale showing why the youth should die, and so the history continues. Each night the Queen convinced the King with a tale, and each morning the King ordered to execution his son and the vizier who had last defended him, and each time his cruel determination was altered by the tale of another vizier. In the end evidence of the Queen's guilt was found, and she was condemned and executed by being tied to the back of a wild ass, which was then driven forth into the desert.
The story here given is one of those related by the Queen.
Having returned from the chase, the king went to the palace, and the lady rose to greet him, and they passed on and sat down. After the repast the lady asked for news of the youth. The king answered, "Today I have sent him to the prison." The lady said, "Thou art a wise and just king; we will talk together this night and see whether or no by principle, by the law, and by custom, thou dost sin in thus vexing my heart. O king, there are many rights between husband and wife. And they have said that it is better to give a woman a handful of words than a skirtful of money. Mayhap the king has not heard the story of the sparrow and his mate." The king said, "Relate it, let us hear." Quoth the lady:
"There was in the blessed service of Saint Solomon (peace on him!) a little sparrow whose many tricks and gambols were ever pleasing to Saint Solomon. One day Saint Solomon saw not the sparrow by him, and he commanded the giant simurgh bird to go fetch the sparrow wherever he might find him. For a long time the sparrow had not gone to his mate, and his mate had upbraided him, saying, 'For this long time thou hast left me and been with Solomon; dost thou love him more than me, or dost thou fear him? tell me.' The sparrow answered, 'By God, I would not give thee for the world: I am come but once to earth and shall not come again; I go to Solomon for diversion, I have no dread of him.' While he was talking with many such vaunts and boasts, the simurgh arrived in haste and heard the sparrow bragging and said harshly, 'Up, let us off; Saint Solomon wants thee.' Then the sparrow, being beside his mate, plucked up courage and replied, 'Off, begone, I will not go.' The simurgh said, 'I will indeed take thee.' The sparrow answered, 'Off with thee, get thee hence, or I will seize thee and rend thee in twain.' Quoth the simurgh, 'Until I take thee with me I will not budge from here.'
"Yet the sparrow heeded not, and the simurgh waited a while, but the sparrow would not go. Again said the simurgh to the sparrow, 'O my life, give me an answer.' Quoth the sparrow, 'I tell thee begone from here; if thou speak again, my heart will bid me do somewhat else; but no, I will not slay thee. Off, begone, or I will do thee some hurt, and then go to Solomon's palace and smite it with my foot, and overturn it from its foundations and pull it down about his head; now then, away fool, off, begone the road thou camest. Thou chatterest here and sayest not, "This is the sparrow's harem; he is ill." ' And he gave the simurgh a kick such that the latter know not where it touched him, but he flew thence and reported the sparrow's words to Saint Solomon. Solomon said, 'When the sparrow spake these words where was he?' 'His mate was there,' answered the simurgh. Then quoth Solomon (peace on him!), 'There is no harm in one thus boasting and bragging in his own house before his wife. Though every stone of this my palace was raised by the toil of these many demons, still wonder not at his saying when beside his wife that he could shatter it with one foot.' And this was pleasing to Solomon (peace on him!), and when the sparrow came he made him of his boon companions.
"O king, I have told this story for that thou mayest know that one should thus love his wife and vex not her little heart, so that his wife may have naught against him. And God most high has given thee understanding; weigh my words in the balance of understanding, and try them on the touchstone of the heart; if they stand not the test, I shall speak no more. I tell thee that this youth has stretched forth his hand to me and has been treacherous, and has moreover purposed against thy life; can there be greater crimes than these? O king, beware, be not negligent in this matter; for there is fear and danger for thy life and kingdom." When the king heard these beguiling words of the lady he said, "On the morrow will I make an end of his affair."
An Escape from Friends
From the Persian of Sa'Di, 13th Century
Translated by J. T. Platts
A disciple said to his spiritual master, "What shall I do? for I am in great straits because of the numbers of people who come to visit me; and my occupations are disturbed by their coming to and fro." He replied, "Lend something to those who are poor, and ask something of those who are rich, in order that they may not come about thee again."
If a mendicant were the leader of Islam's host,
The infidels would fly to China itself
For fear of his solicitations.
The Gita Govinda
From the Sanskrit of Jayadeva, 12th Century
Translated by Sir Edwin Arnold
(Concluded in this issue)
In an earlier number of Westwind it was explained that Jayadeva, in putting into song the old Hindu story of Govinda and Radha, gave the tale a double meaning. On the one hand, it is pretty idyl of love, temptation, repentance and final forgiveness; on the other it is a "parable of human passion," showing the struggles of the soul in the guise of Krishna, the god who is at once human and divine, in its efforts to get past the nearer though imperfect beauties of earth and attain to the divine beauty of Heaven impersonated in the heroine, Radha. In this the final instalment of the poem, or operetta, the penitent Krishna comes seeking forgiveness and is finally successful.
For when the weary night had worn away
In these vain fears, and the clear morning broke,
Lo, Krishna! lo, the longed-for of her soul
Came too! - in the glad light he came, and bent
His knees, and clasped his hands; on his dumb lips
Fear, wonder, joy, passion, and reverence
Strove for the trembling words, and Radha knew
Joy won for him and her; yet none the less
A little time she chided him, and sang,
Krishna! - then thou hast found me! - and thine eyes
Heavy and sad and stained, as if with weeping!
Ah! is it not that those which were thy prize
So radiant seemed that all night thou wert keeping
Vigils of tender wooing? - have thy Love!
Here is no place for vows broken in making;
Thou Lotus-eyed! thou soul for whom I strove!
Go! ere I listen, my just mind forsaking.
Krishna! my Krishna with the woodland-wreath!
Return, or I shall soften as I blame;
The while thy very lips are dark to the teeth
With dye that from her lids and lashes came,
Left on the mouth I touched. Fair traitor! go!
Say not they darkened, lacking food and sleep
Long waiting for my face; I turn it - so -
Go! ere I half believe thee, pleading deep;
But wilt thou plead, when, like a love-verse printed
On the smooth polish of an emerald,
I see the marks she stamped, the kisses dinted
Large-lettered, by her lips? thy speech withheld
Speaks all too plainly; go, - abide thy choice!
If thou dost stay, I shall more greatly grieve thee;
Not records of her victory? - peace, dear voice!
Hence with that godlike brow, lest I believe thee.
For dar'st thou feign the saffron on thy bosom
Was not implanted in disloyal embrace?
Or that this many-colored love-tree blossom
Shone not, but yesternight, above her face?
Comest thou here, so late, to be forgiven,
O thou, in whose eyes Truth was made to live?
O thou, so worthy else of grace and heaven?
O thou, so nearly won? Ere I forgive,
Go, Krishna! go! - lest I should think, unwise,
Thy heart not false, as thy long lingering seems,
Lest, seeing myself so imaged in thine eyes,
I shame the name of Pity - turn to dreams
The sacred sound of vows; make Virtue grudge
Her praise to Mercy, calling thy sin slight;
Go therefore, dear offender! go! thy Judge
Had best not see thee to give sentence right.
But may he grant us peace at last and bliss
Who heard, - and smiled to hear, - delays like this,
Delays that dallied with a dream come true,
Fond wilful angers; for the maid laughed too
To see, as Radha ended, her hand take
His dark robe for her veil, and Krishna make
The word she spoke for parting kindliest sign
He should not go, but stay. O grace divine,
Be ours too! Jayadev, the Poet of love,
Prays it from Hari, lordliest above.
Yet not quite did the doubts of Radha die,
Nor her sweet brows unbend; but she, the Maid -
Knowing her heart so tender, her soft arms
Aching to take him in, her rich mouth sad
For the comfort of his kiss, and these fears false -
Spake yet a little in fair words like these,
The lesson that thy faithful love has taught him
He has heard;
The wind of spring, obeying thee, hath brought him
At thy word;
What joy in all the three worlds was so precious
To thy mind?
Ah, be kind!
No longer from his earnest eyes conceal
Lift thy face, and let the jealous veil reveal
All his rights;
The glory of thy beauty was but given
Remember, being distant, how he bore thee
In his heart;
Look on him sadly turning from before thee
Is he not the soul thou lovedst, sitting lonely
In the wood?
Scorns not good!
Lift thine eyes now, and look on him, bestowing,
Let him pluck at last the flower so sweetly growing
In his reach;
The fruit of lips, of loving tones, of glances
Let him live!
Let him speak with thee, and pray to thee, and prove thee
All his truth;
Let his silent loving lamentation move thee
How knowest thou? Ah, listen, dearest Lady,
He is there;
Thou must hear!
O rare voice, which is a spell
Unto all on earth who dwell!
O rich voice of rapturous love,
Making melody above!
Krishna's, Hari's - one in two,
Sound these mortal verses through!
Sound like that soft flute which made
Such a magic in the shade -
Calling deer-eyed maidens nigh,
Waking wish and stirring sigh,
Thrilling blood and melting breasts,
Whispering love's divine unrests,
Winning blessings to descend,
Bringing earthly ills to end; -
Be thou heard in this song now
Thou, the great Enchantment, thou!
But she, abasing still her glorious eyes,
And still not yielding all her face to him,
Relented, till with softer upturned look
She smiled, while the Maid pleaded; so thereat
Came Krishna nearer, and his eager lips
Mixed sighs with words in this fond song he sang,
O angel of my hope! O my heart's home!
My fear is lost in love, my love in fear;
This bids me trust my burning wish, and come,
That checks me with its memories, drawing near:
Lift up thy look, and let the thing it saith
End fear with grace, or darken love to death.
Or only speak once more, for though thou slay me,
Thy heavenly mouth must move, and I shall hear
Dulcet delights of perfect music sway me
Again - again that voice so blest and dear;
Sweet Judge! the prisoner prayeth for his doom
That he may hear his fate divinely come.
Speak once more! then thou canst not choose but show
Thy mouth's unparalleled and honeyed wonder
Where, like pearls hid in red-lipped shells, the row
Of pearly teeth thy rose-red lips lie under;
Ah me! I am that bird that woos the moon,
And pipes-poor fool! to make it glitter soon.
Yet hear me on - because I cannot stay
The passion of my soul, because my gladness
Will pour forth from my heart, - since that far day
When through the mist of all my sin and sadness
Thou didst vouchsafe - Surpassing One! - to break,
All else I slighted for thy noblest sake.
Thou, thou hast been my blood, my breath, my being;
The pearl to plunge for in the sea of life;
The sight to strain for, past the bounds of seeing;
The victory to win through longest strife;
My Queen! my crowned Mistress! my sphered bride!
Take this for truth, that what I say beside
Of bold love - grown full-orbed at sight of thee -
May be forgiven with a quick remission;
For, thou divine fulfilment of all hope!
Thou all-undreamed completion of the vision!
I gaze upon thy beauty, and my fear
Passes as clouds do, when the moon shines clear.
So if thou'rt angry still, this shall avail,
Look straight at me, and let thy bright glance wound me;
Fetter me! gyve me! lock me in the goal
Of thy delicious arms; make fast around me
The silk-soft manacles of wrists and hands,
Then kill me! I shall never break those bands.
The starlight jewels flashing on thy breast
Have not my right to hear thy beating heart;
The happy jasmine-buds that clasp thy waist
Are soft usurpers of my place and part;
If that fair girdle only there must shine,
Give me the girdle's life - the girdle mine!
Thy brow like smooth Bandhuka-leaves; thy cheek
Which the dark-tinted Madhuk's velvet shows;
Thy long-lashed Lotus eyes, lustrous and meek;
Thy nose a Tila-bud; thy teeth like rows
Of Kunda-petals! he who pierceth hearts
Points with thy loveliness all five darts.
But Radiant, Perfect, Sweet, Supreme, forgive!
My heart is wise my tongue is foolish still:
I know where I am come - I know I live -
I know that thou art Radha - that this will
Last and be heaven: that I have leave to rise
Up from thy feet, and look into thine eyes!
And, nearer coming, I ask for grace
Now that the blest eyes turn to mine;
Faithful I stand in this sacred place
Since first I saw them shine:
Dearest glory that stills my voice,
Beauty unseen, unknown, unthought!
Splendor of love, in whose sweet light
Darkness is past and nought;
Ah, beyond words that sound on earth,
Golden bloom of the garden of heaven!
Radha, enchantress! Radha, the queen!
Be this trespass forgiven -
In that I dare, with courage too much
And a heart afraid, - so bold it is grown -
To hold thy hand with a bridegroom's touch,
And take thee for mine, mine own.
So they met and so they ended
Pain and parting, being blended
Life with life - made one for ever
In high love; and Jayadeva
Hasteneth on to close the story
Of their bridal grace and glory.
Thus followed soft and lasting peace, and griefs
Died while she listened to his tender tongue,
Her eyes of antelope alight with love;
And while he led the way to the bride-bower
The maidens of her train adorned her fair
With golden marriage-cloths, and sang this song,
Follow, happy Radha! follow, -
In the quiet falling twilight -
The steps of him who followed thee
So steadfastly and far;
Let us bring thee where the Banjulas
Have spread a roof of crimson,
Lit up by many a marriage-lamp
Of planet, sun, and star:
For the hours of doubt are over,
And thy glad and faithful lover
Hath found the road by tears and prayers
To thy divinest side.
Oh, follow! while we fill the air
With songs and softest music;
Lauding thy wedded loveliness,
Dear Mistress past compare!
For there is not any splendor
Of Apsarasas immortal -
No glory of their beauty rich -
But Radha has a share;
Oh, follow! while we sing the song
That fills the worlds with longing,
The music of the Lord of love
Who melts all hearts with bliss;
For now is born the gladness
That springs from mortal sadness,
And all soft thoughts and things and hopes
Were presages of this.
Then, follow, happiest Lady!
Follow him thou lovest wholly;
The hour has come to follow now
The soul thy spells have led;
His are thy breasts like jasper-cups,
And his thine eyes like planets;
Thy fragrant hair, thy stately neck,
Thy queenly sumptuous head;
Thy soft small feet, thy perfect lips,
Thy teeth like jasmine petals,
Thy gleaming rounded shoulders,
And long caressing arms,
Being thine to give, are his.
So came she where he stood, awaiting her
At the bower's entry, like a god to see,
With marriage-gladness and the grace of heaven.
The great pearl set upon his glorious head
Shone like a moon among the leaves, and shone
Like stars the gems that kept her gold gown close:
But still a little while she paused - abashed
At her delight, of her deep joy afraid -
And they that tended her sang once more this,
Enter, thrice-happy! enter, thrice-desired!
And let the gates of Hari shut thee in
With the soul destined to thee from of old.
Enter beneath the flowers, O flower-fair!
Beneath these tendrils, Loveliest! that entwine
And clasp, and wreathe and cling, with kissing stems;
Enter, with tender-blowing airs of heaven
Soft as love's breath and gentle as the tones
Of lover's whispers, when the lips come close:
Thy heart has entered, let thy feet go too!
Lo, Krishna! lo, the one that thirsts for thee!
Give him the drink of amrit from thy lips.
Then she, no more delaying, entered straight;
Her step a little faltered, but her face
Shone with unutterable quick love; and - while
The music of her bangles passed the porch -
Shame, which had lingered in her downcast eyes,
Departed shamed, and like the mighty deep,
Which sees the moon and rises, all his life
Uprose to drink her beams.
What skill may be in singing,
What worship sound in song,
What lore be taught in loving,
What right divined from wrong:
Such things hath Jayadeva -
In this his Hymn of Love,
Which lauds Govinda ever, -
Displayed; may all approve!
|University Extension Department
Under the above heading Westwind will report each month some of the best work in the way of literary criticism and exposition offered at the leading Western universities.
Epictetus. -- Marcus Aurelius
Reported for Westwind from a Lecture by Charles Hills Gayley of the University of California
In a previous lecture brief mention was made of the two other Latin Stoic Philosophers, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. These two, though they wrote without the literary style and the rhetorical graces of Nero's celebrated tutor, were nevertheless purer and more consistent philosophers. As men, both rank with the greatest and best, not only as compared with the corrupt times in which they lived, but as compared with all men of history.
Epictetus has been called the Prince of Pagan Slaves. He was born in Phrygia in Asia Minor, his parents being, apparently, very low people. They sold him into slavery in his childhood, and he was taken to Rome, where he became the property, not of a gentleman, but of a freedman of low character who had become wealthy and who was something of a favorite with Nero. Comparatively late in life, Epictetus was freed. Later, in common with all philosophers, he was banished from Rome, and spent the remainder of his life in Epirus, where he died in 98 A. D. at the age of forty-eight. He was lame, either from birth or from his early youth, and being thus useless for ordinary tasks, was sent to school by his master. It was the custom of wealthy Romans of the time to have among their thousands of slaves men of all trades and all professions, including the profession of philosophy, and the master of Epictetus accordingly gave his deformed slave training in the stoic philosophy.
Epictetus wrote down from time to time his thoughts and beliefs, and these were collected after his death by his pupil, Arrian, who published them. The works of Epictetus that survive are his "Manuel" and his "Discourses." There are also a few fragments scattered through the works of later writers.
It seems clear that the life of Epictetus as a Roman slave must have been surrounded by circumstances of the most depressing character, but he had early acquired a loftiness of soul and an insight into truth which enabled him to distinguish the substance from the shadow and to separate the realities of life from its accidents.
Epictetus is essentially the apostle of freedom. Possibly it was his own servile position so far as his body was concerned that made him appreciate to the full the mental and moral freedom of which no man could deprive him. He often dwells on this idea. In one of the fragments that have come down to us he says: "Freedom and slavery are but names, respectively, of virtue and of vice: and both of them depend upon the will. But neither of them have anything to do with those things in which the will has no share, for no one is a slave whose will is free."
Another time, referring to freedom and servility, he says: "Fortune is an evil bond of the body, vice of the soul; for he is a slave whose body is free but whose soul is bound, and on the contrary, he is free whose body is bound but whose soul is free."
In his "Discourses" he is careful to point out the distinction between the things which the gods have put in our own power and the things which they have not put in our power. Among the latter are bodily accident, rank, etc. Concerning a future life he is silent, but he would probably have placed this question among the things which the gods had not placed in his power to determine.
His whole philosophy may be divided into two parts - the endurance of the things which were beyond his power and the correct use of the things that were in his power. Beside his slavery, his deformity and his poverty were other bodily accidents beyond his control from which he often drew pointed lessons. He says: "Examine yourself whether you wish to be rich or to be happy; and if you wish to be rich, know that it neither is a blessing, nor is it altogether in your own power; but if to be happy, know that it both is a blessing, and is in your own power; since the former is but a temporary gift of fortune, but the gift of happiness depends upon the will."
"Just as when you see a viper, or an asp, or a scorpion, in a casket of ivory or gold, you do not love or congratulate them on the splendor of their material, but because their nature is pernicious you turn from and loathe them, so likewise when you see vice enshrined in wealth and pomp of circumstance do not be astonished at the glory of its surroundings, but despise the meanness of its character."
Like his predecessor, Seneca, and his successor, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus departed from the original stoic doctrines in regard to pity. The stoics considered pity a vice rather than a virtue, but their Roman followers held otherwise. Epictetus devotes one of his "Discourses" to the "Tenderness and Forbearance Due to Sinners," and he showed his ideas on pity in his own life. There are evidences that he was never married and that he took little pleasure in women or children. Still, in his later years, when an acquaintance, after the manner of the time, exposed an infant to perish, the philosopher rescued and cared for the child.
The following epitaph was written by an anonymous disciple of the lame slave: "I was Epictetus, a slave, and maimed in body, and a beggar for poverty, and dear to the immortals."
Marcus Aurelius, the noblest of pagan emperors, was born in 121 A. D., about a quarter of a century after the death of the noblest of pagan slaves. In his early youth he was adopted by the Roman emperor, Hadrian. He was descended on both his mother's and his father's side from regal or noble families. From his early manhood he was the acknowledged heir to the throne of the world. He was possessed of unusual beauty of mind and body, and no pains was spared in his education and training. In fact, all of the good fortune that was denied to Epictetus was supplied in large measure to Marcus Aurelius; and it is a singular fact, as Canon Farrar points out, that while the slave could rise superior to his surroundings and live a life of the loftiest exaltation, so the other proved forever that it is possible to be virtuous, and tender, and holy, and contented in the midst of sadness, even on an irresponsible imperial throne.
While the times of Marcus Aurelius were doubtless corrupt, it is probable that they had somewhat improved over the times of Seneca and Epictetus, and it is certain that the future emperor was largely shielded from evil influences during his youth and early manhood. After the series of evil emperors, including Caligula, Nero, Otho and Galba, came two good emperors, Vespasian and Titus. After Titus there was a moral relapse under Domitian, but he was succeeded by a series of good emperors, culminating in Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius.
Marcus Aurelius was reared at the home of his grandfather, under the influence of his mother and of a number of teachers, who seem from the references left by the pupil to have been men of remarkable learning and wisdom. He was seventeen years old when his adopted father, the emperor Hadrian, died. It was stipulated that Antoninus should succeed to the throne, making Marcus Aurelius his heir. Marcus was at that time betrothed to Faustina, the daughter of Antoninus, and was married to her seven years later. On the death of Antoninus and the succession of Marcus Aurelius to the imperial throne at the age of forty, the long peace of the empire was broken by a series of revolts and wars. The wisdom and moderation of the emperor was uniformly successful in overcoming these, but the distractions of the uncongenial life he was compelled to lead served to sadden his life and to give a tone of sadness to his writings.
His literary works were, generally speaking, mere notes, thoughts and sentiments, a sort of private diary, probably intended only for his own reading. These were afterward collected into a book called the "Meditations," or "The Golden Book of Marcus Aurelius."
The key note to the writings of the emperor was "self control." This idea seems to have been uppermost in his mind, just as with Seneca the dominant thought was tranquillity and with Epictetus, freedom. As shown by the "Meditations," there were three strong guiding principals in his theory and his practice; these were diligence, gratitude and hardiness. He was a hard worker, whether at philosophy, or law, or arms, and he realized to the full the value of time and the wickedness of wasting it. His attitude toward his tutors, his parents, the emperors Hadrian and Antoninus and toward all with whom he came in contact, shows his practical consistency with his doctrines on gratitude. His hardiness was manifest from his boyhood. He scorned gluttony and self-indulgence of every sort. He slept on a plank bed and was only induced to add a skin to this by the urging of his mother.
Throughout the "Meditations there is a trace of melancholy. This tendency amounted at times almost to the despair shown by the writer of "Ecclesiastes," as in the following: "Soon, very soon, thou wilt be ashes or a skeleton, and either a name, or not even a name; but name is sound and echo. And the things which are much valued in life are empty, and rotten and trifling, and little dogs biting one another, and little children quarreling, laughing and then straightway weeping. But fidelity, and modesty, and justice, and truth are fled, 'Up to Olympus from the wide-spread earth.'"
Generally, however, the "Meditations" show a determination to resist the pettiness and meanness of the world. He laid out for himself nine rules for reflection when anyone had offended him that are hardly to be equaled for stern self-discipline. That these were not mere speculations, but actual rules by which he governed his conduct toward others, is borne out by his life. The revolt of Avidius Cassius, a general of ability and a man of standing, by its showing of ingratitude wounded the emperor deeply, but did not anger him. The wide-spread affection for the emperor robbed the rebellion of all danger. The soldiers of Cassius fell away from their leader, who was soon assassinated by his own officers. The joy of the emperor in success is said to have been more than outweighed by the fact that the rebellious general had not lived to be granted a genuine forgiveness. The correspondence of Cassius was turned over to the emperor that he might learn the identity of the conspirators, but Marcus had the letters burned without reading them. He then asked the Senate to pardon the entire family of Cassius.
It has been held that the persecutions of the Christians during the reign of Marcus Aurelius show an inconsistency with his doctrines of mercy. The truth of the matter seems to be that the emperor merely followed out the policy of his predecessors in non-interference. The emperor Trajan had given instructions to the Roman governors not to seek out the Christians, but that if any were accused and on trial refused to conform to the State religion, they should be put to death in accordance with the law. This ruling of Trajan had stood unchanged. During the prosperous times of Hadrian and Antoninus, it seems that little heed had been paid to the Christians, but with famine and hardships came a revival of the suspicions and hatred toward the new sect. They were held responsible for the troubles of particular cities and provinces and many more were accused than in previous years. There is absolutely no evidence that the emperor instigated, or even approved of, these persecutions.
Though continually successful, Marcus Aurelius did not succeed in winning peace for the empire. He died while on an expedition in the north at the age of fifty-nine. Some time before he had written: "Come quickly, O death, for fear that at last I should forget myself."
The Companion Series
No. 1. Published 1910
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No. 2. Published February, 1911
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Essays on the French Gothic
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|A New Industry
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