Here you will find the Long Poem The Sale of Saint Thomas of poet Lascelles Abercrombie
A quay with vessels moored Thomas To India! Yea, here I may take ship; From here the courses go over the seas, Along which the intent prows wonderfully Nose like lean hounds, and tack their journeys out, Making for harbours as some sleuth was laid For them to follow on their shifting road. Again I front my appointed ministry. -- But why the Indian lot to me? Why mine Such fearful gospelling? For the Lord knew What a frail soul He gave me, and a heart Lame and unlikely for the large events. -- And this is worse than Baghdad! though that was A fearful brink of travel. But if the lots, That gave to me the Indian duty, were Shuffled by the unseen skill of Heaven, surely That fear of mine in Baghdad was the same Marvellous Hand working again, to guard The landward gate of India from me. There I stood, waiting in the weak early dawn To start my journey; the great caravan's Strange cattle with their snoring breaths made steam Upon the air, and (as I thought) sadly The beasts at market-booths and awnings gay Of shops, the city's comfortable trade, Lookt, and then into months of plodding lookt. And swiftly on my brain there came a wind Of vision; and I saw the road mapt out Along the desert with a chalk of bones; I saw a famine and the Afghan greed Waiting for us, spears at our throats, all we Made women by our hunger; and I saw Gigantic thirst grieving our mouths with dust, Scattering up against our breathing salt Of blown dried dung, till the taste eat like fires Of a wild vinegar into our sheathèd marrows; And a sudden decay thicken'd all our bloods As rotten leaves in fall will baulk a stream; Then my kill'd life the muncht food of jackals. -- The wind of vision died in my brain; and lo, The jangling of the caravan's long gait Was small as the luting of a breeze in grass Upon my ears. Into the waiting thirst Camels and merchants all were gone, while I Had been in my amazement. Was this not A sign? God with a vision tript me, lest Those tall fiends that ken for my approach In middle Asia, Thirst and his grisly band Of plagues, should with their brigand fingers stop His message in my mouth. Therefore I said, If India is the place where I must preach, I am to go by ship, not overland. And here my ship is berthed. But worse, far worse Than Baghdad, is this roadstead, the brown sails, All the enginery of going on sea, The tackle and the rigging, tholes and sweeps, The prows built to put by the waves, the masts Stayed for a hurricane; and lo, that line Of gilded water there! the sun has drawn In a long narrow band of shining oil His light over the sea; how evilly move Ripples along that golden skin! -- the gleam Works like a muscular thing! like the half-gorged Sleepy swallowing of a serpent's neck. The sea lives, surely! My eyes swear to it; And, like a murderous smile that glimpses through A villain's courtesy, that twitching dazzle Parts the kind mood of weather to bewray The feasted waters of the sea, stretched out In lazy gluttony, expecting prey. How fearful is this trade of sailing! Worse Than all land-evils is the water-way Before me now. -- What, cowardice? Nay, why Trouble myself with ugly words? 'Tis prudence, And prudence is an admirable thing. Yet here's much cost -- these packages piled up, Ivory doubless, emeralds, gums, and silks, All these they trust on shipboard? Ah, but I, I who have seen God, I to put myself Amid the heathen outrage of the sea In a deal-wood box! It were plain folly. There is naught more precious in the world than I: I carry God in me, to give to men. And when has the sea been friendly unto man? Let it but guess my errand, it will call The dangers of the air to wreak upon me, Winds to juggle the puny boat and pinch The water into unbelievable creases. And shall my soul, and God in my soul, drown? Or venture drowning? -- But no, no; I am safe. Smooth as believing souls over their deaths And over agonies shall slide henceforth To God, so shall my way be blest amid The quiet crouching terrors of the sea, Like panthers when a fire weakens their hearts; Ay, this huge sin of nature, the salt sea, Shall be afraid of me, and of the mind Within me, that with gesture, speech and eyes Of the Messiah flames. What element Dare snarl against my going, what incubus dare Remember to be fiendish, when I light My whole being with memory of Him? The malice of the sea will slink from me, And the air be harmless as a muzzled wolf; For I am a torch, and the flame of me is God.