Eldorado

(eight pages here)
Eldorado

Lost Eldorado, bright with wealth untold,
City remote in fabled realms of gold,
I sing: ye nine, my halting verse inspire;
Descend, and sweep with harmony my lyre ;
Great Alexander! worlds before thee bow,
The golden kingdom be thy conquest now :
Thy laws are mine, I govern in thy name —
Be thou my master, and be thine my fame!
How first the shining legend travelled wide
To fire the dreams of Avarice and Pride ;
What sturdy seamen brav’d the western main,
Mocking the gorgeous tyranny of Spain ;
How boldly they explor’d the secret west ;
Their hope how brilliant, and how vain their quest ;
The fall of heroes, the revenge of kings,
Clio remembers, and Euterpe sings .
Noble that theme, but by our fervent young
Too well remember’d and too often sung .
Not mine refulgent marvels to rehearse ,
Loading with ore each chasm of my verse ;
To dandle puppets on my languid stage ,
Trick’d in the raiment of a bygone age ;
To rouse the brave with martial pomp and blare ,
Or melt with dreamy lays the gentle fair ;
Dead is the past , and low with garlands laid ;
Let not my gaudy dreams disturb its shade .
Romance and chivalry may hackney’d rest ;
Venus I tolerate , but Mars detest .
Attend me then , ye hasty lookers on ,
Who judge the play before the play is done ,
Who term the present a confounded bore ,
Despise the future , and the past deplore —
You I deplore : my art shall mirror you :
Reflect, and witness the reflection true !
And ye , whose hearts and treasure lie not here ,
Who fear to hope , yet hope to conquer fear :
Let not the greed of gold your peace confound ,
Great is your faith , and greatly shall be crowned : second page
Beyond all dreams , beyond terrestrial price ,
Your golden city waits in Paradise .
Yours is the victory, would men but heed ;
Rich beyond gold , no gilded myth you need :
Your shining gospel every hope transcends ,
All prophecy fulfils , all panic ends .
Yet few have faith and courage to despise
The pride of life , the lust of flesh and eyes :
This world too great a sacrifice men deem ;
Then, discontent , of Eldorado dream .
With maps and engines they have conquered space ;
Faster than sound their winged chariots race ;
Land, sea , and sky triumphant they control ,
Circle the globe , and speed from pole to pole :
As eagles soar, with massive wings outspread ,
O’ertop mount Everest’s unvanquish’d head ,
Divide the clouds , usurp the winds’ domain ,
Till , tired with flight , they glide to earth again .
Mountain and jungle their wheel’d progress know ,
Plains white to harvest , wastes of sand and snow :
Neptune himself admits their conquering sway ;
Proud through his courts they force resistless way ,
Explore the nodding forests far below ,
Where great-ey’d fish sedately come and go :
Strange through the tumbling water they behold
Dim grottos roof’d with pearl and pav’d with gold :
Nameless the myriad flowers that greet their view ;
Aw’d they admire , and swift their way pursue ;
Sweep through the coral groves , then gladly rise
To seek once more the blessing of the skies .
Land , sea , and sky unnumber’d marvels yield ,
But Eldorado never yet reveal’d :
Outgrown the hope , the legend long outworn ,
The poet’s standby and the critic’s scorn ;
Yet still the wistful dreams of men prevail
To gloss with gold that half-forgotten tale .
Science ! what hopes are grappled to thy name ,
What promis’d miracles augment they fame :
Worshipped and damned by complementary schools ,
The foolish zealots and the zealous fools : third page
Enlightened and benevolent thy reign ;
Candid the hearts and garments of thy train :
Their square-tipped hands disease and death control ,
But lack the formulae to frame a soul .
Small loss : the soul is but a toy of thought ,
Intangible , unseen , a thing of nought :
Who thee alone with solemn zest desires ,
No soul acknowledges , no soul requires .
If thou assist , what can our might withstand ?
Plenty and peace shall crown the smiling land :
Find Eldorado in a Welfare State .
Awake , arise , thou prophylactic Power !
Thy marshall’d armies wait th’appointed hour ,
Perfect their discipline , matur’d their plan —
Why dost thou hesitate to lead the van ?
See , where thy chiefs with standards proud display’d
Invoke thy blessing , and entreat thine aid :
They wax impatient of disease and dearth —
Be pleas’d to rehabilitate the earth !
Not long shall Mars uneasy vigil keep ,
For strife too weary , but too fierce for sleep ;
Sword , gleaming helm and shield his rising wait ,
The chariot stands impetuous at his gate —
Prevent his rage , that turbulence may cease ;
Induce thy golden age of order’d peace !
As sudden thunder rends the startl’d skies ,
A dreadful voice imperious replies :
“Too rashly am I hail’d by humankind ,
My title cribb’d , my realm by use confin’d :
All knowledge mine , and sempiternal youth —
Vicegerent and ambassador of Truth .
Were yet my ageless wisdom yours indeed ,
Your march I might attend , but never lead :
As fire , unique assistance I afford ,
A careful servant , but a deadly lord .
Ye fools , beware ! lest plung’d in senseless strife ,
You perish by the force that ruled your life :
Reason is mine : if you from Reason swerve ,
Destruction is no more than you deserve :
My votaries shall toll your passing bell ; fourth page
Your blood be on your heads : and so , farewell !”
While yet with gloomy voice o’er hill and dell
Astonish’d echo comments : “ … well, well , well …”
The grave Philosopher his hand extends ,
Surveys the multitude, and thus perpends :
“Man miserable ! By reckless pride betray’d ,
Whom wilt thou trust , and whither turn for aid ?
Yet even now , erect where Moses stood ,
I will advise thee for thy proper good :
Ere long to me that selfsame grace be lent
The promis’d land to view , and die content .
If radiant prospects lure thy fancy, stand
At noon exultant on the golden strand :
Phoebus with glory gilds the trembling wave ,
And liquid gold laps bright in creek and cave :
Enraptur’d to the far horizon gaze ,
Where strange isles glimmer through a golden haze :
There hill and vale with shining groves are dress’d ;
There roll fair plains with orient harvest blest :
There fresh streams sparkle clear through marsh and fen ,
And distant spires proclaim the haunts of men :
Most surely there , beneath the smiling skies ,
Fair as a dream thy Eldorado lies —
Couldst thou but follow , as thou dost admire
The glitt’rng pathway to thy heart’s desire !
Fond wish! a dismal mist the sea enshrouds ,
And stricken Phoebus mourns in sable clouds :
How drab a prospect now canst thou command —
Malignant isles , cold sea and common sand !
Cruel and sudden , where the surges sway
The lynx-ey’d gulls swoop screaming on their prey.
“Cruelle and sodaine” — thou whose ready ear
Ascribes the debt, and joys that phrase to hear ,
Observe those ragged boys that past thee run :
The flea they gladly lodge , but know not Donne .
Phoebus ! Thy light advance , that they may see
Their rightful heritage , august and free :
By Fame neglected and accurs’d by Fate ,
What power can raise them to that happy state ?
’Tis Education ! Blessèd power indeed — fifth page
Here passion chokes his utterance : I proceed .
Hail Education , omniformal maid !
For thee our wealth , to thee our tribute paid .
Descend , rever’d abstraction , at our call ,
Teach , elevate , inspire , illumine all !
Where frugal Nature no great wit bestows ,
Tend that , as horticulturalist his rose :
Where niggard Fortune small advantage lends ,
Grant wisdom , culture , honour, wealth and friends !
At thy rebuke all evils shrink and flee ;
Our hopeful statesmen prophesy by thee :
“Progress!” and “Immortality !” they cry —
“Regress !” “Mortality !” the hills reply .
Thy awful name gleams bright with constant use :
Our talisman , our shield , and our excuse !
What need we further witness to thy power ?
Yet deign to visit thine adopted bower :
Near Blackwell’s shrine, and Bodley’s honour’d fane
Behold the choicest products of thy reign !
In thy fair livery strut these longhair’d boys —
Gowns proudly tatter’d , dashing corduroys —
Agog for gossip and the wild carouse ,
They congregate in every coffee-house :
Be present , while they offer and admire
Sagacious schemes to set the world afire ;
Withdraw , ere yet their hope grows passing wild ,
To watch the fortune of thy favourite child .
The poet , who complain’d the winter long ,
While cajol’d hearers marvell’d at his song ,
Impatient of his own romantic gloom ,
Now quits with eager step his shady room ,
By limpid Isis pleasantly to stray ,
Where rising flowers the verdant turf array :
Mark how the polish’d swans majestic glide ,
And drooping willows kiss the chequer’d tide :
Serene the angler waits his dancing float :
Slow ripples gently sway the chainèd boat :
Pure is the fragrance wafted from the meads,
When vernal gusts caress the rustling reeds :
Joyous the bard , as trembling he renews sixth page
His fervent vows to Venus and the Muse :
Homeward he hastes , to all creation blind ,
While nice considerations vex his mind :
Each poet in his own degree is blest ,
Those most the Muse affects , who serve her best ,
Reward enow in loyal service lies —
’Tis then dishonour to compete for prize,
Most servile to uplift a charter’d voice,
And hymn the topic of another’s choice .
Yet empty pockets sad assurance give
That he who lives to sing must sing to live ;
While passing years confirm the ancient rune ,
That he who pays the piper, calls the tune .
That sage reflection every scruple ends :
To Eldorado swift his soul he bends —
Little enough , alas , he knows of gold ;
That little in short compass may be told :
Yet rich his fancy , and his memory long ,
With hired magnificence to deck his song :
His thoughts old strength and modern wit affect :
His diction pure , harmonious , correct —
Thus he himself opines , as he reviews
His past effusions prompted by the Muse :
Such beauties all those partial fools commend
Who haunt Parnassus but to please their friend ,
Not mend their minds : as some to Schools repair
Not for the doctrine , but the comrades there .
Secure in such approval , he makes bold
To drape his blunders in a veil of gold :
His passion , like his lamp , at midnight glows ,
Till weary limbs betray him to repose :
Swift to the golden clime his soul is fled ;
The Andes tower mysterious round his bed :
O’er crag and gulph by dusky guides convey’d
Amaz’d he gains a cavern’s frightful shade ;
Discretion counsels , valour bars retreat :
Through labyrinthine tunnels haste his feet ;
A roar proclaims the subterranean stream :
Strange on that inky flood the torches gleam :
Down rough-hewn steps a fragile bark is moor’d — seventh page
He shudders , calls on Heav’n and leaps aboard :
Wild down the raging torrent he is swept ,
By pitying Naiads from destruction kept :
Through gloomy vaults and ways for ever dark ,
Sad echo long pursues the flying bark :
The current slackens , rocky walls loom gray —
He glides into the grateful light of day .
Lo ! calm and blue the sacred lake extends ,
Speed to his sail a gentle zephyr lends :
All danger past, his fearful voyage o’er ,
With heart aglow he gains the friendly shore ,
Through streets of gold a dazzled guest to roam
Where jewels blaze from pinnacle and dome :
Dreaming he wanders through his land of dreams ,
Till fair in view a lofty palace gleams :
Endless the golden steps : he mounts alone ;
Bright-harness’d guards conduct him to the Throne :
The Inca beckons : reverent he stands
To take the costly gift from royal hands ,
And see , though mists before his vision whirl ,
A chalice rich with amethyst and pearl :
Clear ruby glows , the’ immortal wine he sips —
He wakes , with burning brow and fever’d lips .
Bitter his loss , but swift he hopes again ,
And strives some lovely shadow to retain :
Huddled in blankets and addressed to write ,
He tames in verse the peril of the night :
Fast fades the dream ; yet diligent his pen
Till grey-ey’d Morn awakes the world of men .
The happy poet ! honour crown thy lays !
Fame will not grudge thee thy desert of praise ;
The single-hearted ! who thy life wouldst give
Without regret, to make one sonnet live ;
Barter the riches of all space and time
For one bright image , or one perfect rhyme ;
All gold reject , one shining phrase to save —
Blind shall I call thee , or past vision brave ?
High-minded bards are recompensed , not sold ;
Yet few at heart despise the proffered gold :
Not for the world they sing , they seek not praise ; eighth page
Yet inly glow when laurels crown their lays :
Do thou the like : when gilded counters shine ,
Inherit Eldorado — it is thine :
Nor at my hands this laurel crown refuse ,
Though I with rival passion court the Muse :
Which of our songs the costly prize has gained
Let them determine , who our strife ordained .
In mutual admiration let us rest :
They best can value us , who know us best .

Eldorado was the subject set for an undergraduate prize so this must have been written before July 1951. I think Christine Kennedy suggested the tag for the pseudonym. The script was professionally typed and corrected.