Menken, Adah Isaacs
|BATTLE OF THE STARS.|
Alone on the hill of storms
The voice of the wind shrieks through the mountain.
The torrent rushes down the rocks.
Red are hundred streams of the light-covered paths of the
Shield me in from the storm,
I that am a daughter of the stars, and wear the purple and
gold of bards, with the badges of Love on my white
I heed not the battle-cry of souls!
I that am chained on this Ossa of existence.
Sorrow hath bound her frozen chain about the wheels of
my chariot of fire wherein my soul was went to ride.
Stars, throw off your dark robes, and lead me to the palace
where my Eros rests on his iron shield of war, his
gleaming sword in the scabbard, his hounds haunting
The water and the storm cry aloud.
I hear not the voice of my Love.
Why delays the chief of the stars his promise?
Here is the terrible cloud, and here the cloud of life with
its many-colored sides.41Thou didst promise to be with me when night should trail
her dusky skirts along the borders of my soul
O wind! O thought! Stream and torrent, be ye silent!
Let the wanderer hear my voice.
Eros, I am waiting. Why delay thy coming? It is Atha
See the calm moon comes forth.
The flood is silver in the vale.
The rocks are gray on the steep.
I see him not on the mountain brow;
The hounds come not with the glad tidings of his approach.
I wait for morning in my tears.
Rear the tomb, but close it not till Eros comes:
Not unharmed will return the eagle from the field of foes.
But Atha will not mark thy wounds, she will be silent in
Love, the great Dreamer, will listen to her voice, and she
will sleep on the soft bosom of the hills.
O Love! thou Mighty Leveler,
Thou alone canst lay the shepherd's crook beside the
Thou art the King of the Stars.
Music floats boats up to thee, receives thy
breath, thy burning
kisses, and comes back with messages to children of
Thou art pitiful and bountiful.
Although housed with the golden-haired Son of the Sky,
with stars for thy children, dwelling in the warm
clouds, and sleeping on the silver shields of War, yet
ye do not disdain the lonely. Atha that hovers round42the horizon of your Grand Home. You awake and
come forth arrayed in trailing robes of glory, with
blessing and with song to greet her that seeketh thy
Thy hand giveth Morn her power;
Thy hand lifteth the mist from the hills;
Thy hand createth all of Beauty;
Thy hand giveth Morn her rosy robes;
Thy hands bound up the wounds of Eros after the battle:
Thy hands lifted him to the skirts of the wind,
like the eagle of the forest.
Thy hands have bound his brow with the spoils of the
Thy hands have given to me the glittering
spear, and helmet of power and might;
Nor settles the darkness on me.
The fields of Heaven are mine.
I will hush the sullen roar of the enemy.
Warriors shall lift their shields to me.
My arm is strong, my sword defends the weak.
I will loose the thong of the Oppressed, and dash to hell
A thousand warriors stretch their spears around me.
I battle for the stars.
It was thy hands, O Love, that loosed my golden tresses,
and girded my white limbs in armor, and made me
leader of the armies of Heaven.
Thy voice aroused the sluggard soul.
Thy voice calleth back the sleeping dead.
Thou alone, O Mighty Ruler, canst annihilate space, hush
the shrieking wind, hide the white-haired waves,43and bear me to the arms and burning kisses of my
And it is thou who makest beautiful the prison-houses of
I once was chained to their darkness, but thou, O Love,
brought crimson roses to lay on my pale bosom, and
covered the cold damp walls with the golden shields
of the sun, and left thy purple garments whereon my
weary bleeding feet might rest.
And when black-winged night rolled along the sky, thy
shield covered the moon, and thy hands threw back
the prison-roof, and unfolded the gates of the clouds,
and I slept in the white arms of the stars.
And thou, O Beam of Life! didst thou not forget the
lonely prisoner of Chillon in his gloomy vault? thy
blessed ray of Heaven-light stole in and made glad
Thou hast lifted the deep-gathered mist from the dungeons
Ugolino heard thy voice in his hopeless cell:
Thy blessed hand soothed Damiens on his bed of steel;
It is thy powerful hand that lights up to Heaven that in
spired life of Garabaldi.
And it is thy undying power that will clothe Italy in the
folds of thy wings, and rend the helmet from the dark
brow of old Austria, and bury her in the eternal tomb
Thou didst not forget children of earth, who roll the waves
of their souls to our ship of the sky.
But men are leagued against us--strong mailed men of
earth,44Around the dwellers in the clouds they rise in wrath.
No words come forth, they seize their blood-stained daggers
Each takes his hill by night, at intervals they darkly stand
counting the power and host of Heaven.
Their black unmuzzled hounds howl their impatience as
we come on watch in our glittering armor.
The hills no longer smile up to greet us, they are covered
with these tribes of earth leading their war-dogs, and
leaving their footprints of blood.
Unequal bursts the hum of voices, and the clang of arms
between the roaring wind.
And they dare to blaspheme the very stars, and even God
on His high throne in the Heaven of Heavens, by
pleading for Love.
Love sacrifices all things to bless the thing it loves, not
Go back to your Scorching homes;
Go back to your frozen souls;
Go back to your seas of blood;
Go back to your chains, your loathsome charnel houses;
Give us the green bosom of the hills to rest upon;
Broad over them rose the moon.
O Love, Great Ruler, call upon thy children to buckle on
the armor of war, for behold the enemy blackens all
earth in waiting for us.
See the glittering of their unsheathed swords.
They bear blood-stained banners of death and destruction
And, lo, their Leader comes forth on the Pale Horse.
His sword is a green meteor half-extinguished.45His face is without form, and dark withal, dark as the tales
of other times, before the light of song arose.
Mothers, clasp your new-born children close to year white
Daughters of the stars, sleep no more, the enemy approacheth!
Look to your white shields!
Bind up your golden tresses!
See the blood upon the pale breasts of your sisters.
Where are your banners?
O sluggards, awake to the call of the Mighty Ruler!
Hear ye not the clash of arms? Arise around me, children of the Land Unknown.
Up, up, grasp your helmet and your spear!
Let each one look upon her shield as the ruler of War.
Come forth in your purple robes, sound your silver-tongue
Rush upon the enemy with your thousand and thousands! of burnished spears!
Let your voices ring through the Universe, "Liberty,"
liberty for the stars." Thunder it on the ears of the
guilty and the doomed!
Sound it with the crash of Heaven's wrath to the hearts
of branded--God cursed things who have stood up
and scorned their Maker with laughing curses, as
they dashed the crown from her brow, and hurled her
Pray ye not for them, hills! Heed ye not, O winds, their
penitence is feigned!
Let your voices, O goods, be hushed! stars, dose your
mighty Hanks, and battle on them!46Chain them down close to the fire!
They were merciless, bind their blood-stained hands.
They are Sends, and if ye loose them they will tear children
from their mothers, wives from their husbands,
sisters from their brothers, daughters from their
And these fiends, these children of eternal damnation,
these men will tear souls from bodies, and then
smear their hands with blood, and laugh as they
sprinkle it in the dead up-turned faces of their
It is Atha thy leader that calls to you.
Beat them down, beat them down.
I know these war-dogs.
They strangled my warrior, Eros!
Warrior of my soul;
Warrior of the strong race of Eagles!
His crimson life crushed out on the white sails of a ship.
Battle them down to dust.
Battle them back into their own slimy souls;
Battle them, ye starry armies of Heaven, down into the
silent sea of their own blood;
Battle on, the wind is with ye;
Battle on, the sun is with ye;
Battle on, the waves are with ye;
The Angels are with ye;
God is with us!