Would aid his likeness! If I must partake
His form, why not his power? Is it be-cause
I have not his will too? For one kind word
From her who bore me would still recon-cile me
Even to this hateful aspect. Let me wash
[ ARNOLD goes to a spring, and stoops to wash his hand: he starts back.
They are right; and Nature's
mirror shows me
What she hath made me. I will not look on it
Again, and scarce dare think on 't. Hideous wretch
That I am! The very waters mock me with
My horrid shadow -- like a demon placed so
Deep in the fountain to scare back the cattle
From drinking therein. (He pauses.
And shall I live on,
A burden to the earth, myself, and shame
Unto what brought me into life? Thou blood
Which flowest so freely from a scratch, let me
Try if thou wilt not in a fuller stream
Pour forth my woes forever with thyself
On earth, to which I will restore at once
This hateful compound of her atoms, and
Resolve back to her elements, and take 60 The shape of any reptile save myself,
And make a world for myriads of new worms!
This knife! now let me prove if it will sever
This wither'd slip of nature's nightshade - my
Vile form -- from the creation, as it hath
The green bough from the forest.
[ ARNOLD places the knife in the ground, with the point upwards.
Now 't is set,
And I can fall upon it. Yet one glance
On the fair day, which sees no foul thing like
Myself, and the sweet sun which warm'd me, but
In vain. The birds -- how joyously they
sing! 70 So let them, for I would not be lamented:
But let their merriest notes be Arnold's knell,
The fallen leaves my monument, the mur-mur
Of the near fountain my sole elegy.
Now, knife, stand firmly, as I fain would
[As he rushes to throw himself upon the knife, his eye is suddenly caught by the fountain, which seems in motion.
The fountain moves without a wind: but
The ripple of a spring change my resolve?
No. Yet it moves again! The waters stir,
Not as with air, but by some subterrane
And rocking power of the internal world. 80 What's here? A mist! No more? -
[A cloud comes from the fountain. He stands gazing upon it; it is dispelled, and a tall black man comes towards him.
Arn. What would you? Speak!
Spirit or man?
Stran. As man is both, why not
Say both in one?
Arn. Your form is man's, and yet You may be devil.
Stran. So many men are that
Which is so call'd or thought, that you may add me
To which you please, without much wrong to either.
But come: you wish to kill yourself; - pursue
Arn. You have interrupted me.
Stran. What is that resolution which can
Be interrupted? If I be the devil 90 You deem, a single moment would have made you
Mine, and for ever, by your suicide
And yet my coming saves you.
Arn. I said not You were the demon, but that your approach Was like one.
Stran. Unless you keep company
With him (and you seem scarce used to such high
Society) you can't tell how he approaches
And for his aspect, look upon the fountain,
And then on me, and judge which of us twain
Looks likest what the boors believe to be 100 Their cloven-footed terror.
Arn. Do you -- dare you
To taunt me with my born deformity?
Stran. Were I to taunt a buffalo with
Cloven foot of thine, or the swift dromedary