or enter with: facebook twitter google Forgot your password? | Signup
or enter with: facebook twitter google
Oscar wilde

Oscar Wilde

POEMS
FOLLOWERS
42

Tread lightly, she is near
Under the snow,
Speak gently, she can hear
The daisies grow.

All her bright golden hair
Tarnished with rust,
She that was young and fair
Fallen to dust.

Lily-like, white as snow,
She hardly knew
She was a woman, so
Sweetly she grew.

Coffin-board, heavy stone,
Lie on her breast,
I vex my heart alone,
She is at rest.

Peace, peace, she cannot hear
Lyre or sonnet,
All my life’s buried here,
Heap earth upon it.

4

IS it thy will that I should wax and wane,
Barter my cloth of gold for hodden grey,
And at thy pleasure weave that web of pain
Whose brightest threads are each a wasted day?

Is it thy will—Love that I love so well—
That my Soul’s House should be a tortured spot
Wherein, like evil paramours, must dwell
The quenchless flame, the worm that dieth not?

Nay, if it be thy will I shall endure,
And sell ambition at the common mart,
And let dull failure be my vestiture,
And sorrow dig its grave within my heart.

Perchance it may be better so—at least
I have not made my heart a heart of stone,
Nor starved my boyhood of its goodly feast,
Nor walked where Beauty is a thing unknown.

Many a man hath done so; sought to fence
In straitened bonds the soul that should be free,
Trodden the dusty road of common sense,
While all the forest sang of liberty,

Not marking how the spotted hawk in flight
Passed on wide pinion through the lofty air,
To where the steep untrodden mountain height
Caught the last tresses of the Sun God’s hair.

Or how the little flower he trod upon,
The daisy, that white—feathered shield of gold,
Followed with wistful eyes the wandering sun
Content if once its leaves were aureoled.

But surely it is something to have been
The best belovèd for a little while,
To have walked hand in hand with Love, and seen
His purple wings flit once across thy smile.

Ay! though the gorgèd asp of passion feed
On my boy’s heart, yet have I burst the bars,
Stood face to face with Beauty, known indeed
The Love which moves the Sun and all the stars!

O SINGER of Persephone!
In the dim meadows desolate
Dost thou remember Sicily?

Still through the ivy flits the bee
Where Amaryllis lies in state;
O Singer of Persephone!

Simætha calls on Hecate
And hears the wild dogs at the gate;
Dost thou remember Sicily?

Still by the light and laughing sea
Poor Polypheme bemoans his fate:
O Singer of Persephone!

And still in boyish rivalry
Young Daphnis challenges his mate:
Dost thou remember Sicily?

Slim Lacon keeps a goat for thee,
For thee the jocund shepherds wait,
O Singer of Persephone!
Dost thou remember Sicily?

The sin was mine; I did not understand.
So now is music prisoned in her cave,
Save where some ebbing desultory wave
Frets with its restless whirls this meagre strand.
And in the withered hollow of this land
Hath Summer dug herself so deep a grave,
That hardly can the leaden willow crave
One silver blossom from keen Winter’s hand.

But who is this who cometh by the shore?
(Nay, love, look up and wonder!) Who is this
Who cometh in dyed garments from the South?
It is thy new—found Lord, and he shall kiss
The yet unravished roses of thy mouth,
And I shall weep and worship, as before.

An omnibus across the bridge
Crawls like a yellow butterfly,
And, here and therem a passer—by
Shows like a little restless midge.

Big barges full of yellow hay
Are moored against the shadowy wharf,
And, like a yellow silken scarf,
The thick fog hangs along the quay.

The yellow leaves begin to fade
And flutter from the temple elms,
And at my feet the pale green Thames
Lies like a rod of rippled jade.

NAY, let us walk from fire unto fire,
From passionate pain to deadlier delight,—
I am too young to live without desire,
Too young art thou to waste this summer night
Asking those idle questions which of old
Man sought of seer and oracle, and no reply was told.

For, sweet, to feel is better than to know,
And wisdom is a childless heritage,
One pulse of passion—youth’s first fiery glow,—
Are worth the hoarded proverbs of the sage:
Vex not thy soul with dead philosophy,
Have we not lips to kiss with, hearts to love, and eyes to see!

Dost thou not hear the murmuring nightingale
Like water bubbling from a silver jar,
So soft she sings the envious moon is pale,
That high in heaven she is hung so far
She cannot hear that love—enraptured tune,—
Mark how she wreathes each horn with mist, yon late and labouring
moon.

White lilies, in whose cups the gold bees dream,
The fallen snow of petals where the breeze
Scatters the chestnut blossom, or the gleam
Of boyish limbs in water,—are not these
Enough for thee, dost thou desire more?
Alas! the Gods will give nought else from their eternal store.

For our high Gods have sick and wearied grown
Of all our endless sins, our vain endeavour
For wasted days of youth to make atone
By pain or prayer or priest, and never, never,
Hearken they now to either good or ill,
But send their rain upon the just and the unjust at will.

They sit at ease, our Gods they sit at ease,
Strewing with leaves of rose their scented wine,
They sleep, they sleep, beneath the rocking trees
Where asphodel and yellow lotus twine,
Mourning the old glad days before they knew
What evil things the heart of man could dream, and dreaming do.

And far beneath the brazen floor they see
Like swarming flies the crowd of little men,
The bustle of small lives, then wearily
Back to their lotus—haunts they turn again
Kissing each other’s mouths, and mix more deep
The poppy—seeded draught which brings soft purple—lidded sleep.

There all day long the golden—vestured sun,
Their torch—bearer, stands with his torch a—blaze,
And when the gaudy web of noon is spun
By its twelve maidens through the crimson haze
Fresh from Endymion’s arms comes forth the moon,
And the immortal Gods in toils of mortal passions swoon.

There walks Queen Juno through some dewy mead
Her grand white feet flecked with the saffron dust
Of wind—stirred lilies, while young Ganymede
Leaps in the hot and amber—foaming must,
His curls all tossed, as when the eagle bare
The frightened boy from Ida through the blue Ionian air.

There in the green heart of some garden close
Queen Venus with the shepherd at her side,
Her warm soft body like the briar rose
Which would be white yet blushes at its pride,
Laughs low for love, till jealous Salmacis
Peers through the myrtle—leaves and sighs for pain of lonely
bliss.

There never does that dreary north—wind blow
Which leaves our English forests bleak and bare,
Nor ever falls the swift white—feathered snow,
Nor doth the red—toothed lightning ever dare
To wake them in the silver—fretted night
When we lie weeping for some sweet sad sin, some dead delight.

Alas! they know the far Lethæan spring,
The violet—hidden waters well they know,
Where one whose feet with tired wandering
Are faint and broken may take heart and go,
And from those dark depths cool and crystalline
Drink, and draw balm, and sleep for sleepless souls, and anodyne.

But we oppress our natures, God or Fate
Is our enemy, we starve and feed
On vain repentance—O we are born too late!
What balm for us in bruisèd poppy seed
Who crowd into one finite pulse of time
The joy of infinite love and the fierce pain of infinite crime.

O we are wearied of this sense of guilt,
Wearied of pleasure’s paramour despair,
Wearied of every temple we have built,
Wearied of every right, unanswered prayer,
For man is weak; God sleeps: and heaven is high:
One fiery—coloured moment: one great love; and lo! we die.

Ah! but no ferry—man with labouring pole
Nears his black shallop to the flowerless strand,
No little coin of bronze can bring the soul
Over Death’s river to the sunless land,
Victim and wine and vow are all in vain,
The tomb is sealed; the soldiers watch; the dead rise not again.

We are resolved into the supreme air,
We are made one with what we touch and see,
With our heart’s blood each crimson sun is fair,
With our young lives each spring—impassioned tree
Flames into green, the wildest beasts that range
The moor our kinsmen are, all life is one, and all is change.

With beat of systole and of diastole
One grand great life throbs through earth’s giant heart,
And mighty waves of single Being roll
From nerve—less germ to man, for we are part
Of every rock and bird and beast and hill,
One with the things that prey on us, and one with what we kill.

From lower cells of waking life we pass
To full perfection; thus the world grows old:
We who are godlike now were once a mass
Of quivering purple flecked with bars of gold,
Unsentient or of joy or misery,
And tossed in terrible tangles of some wild and wind—swept sea.

This hot hard flame with which our bodies burn
Will make some meadow blaze with daffodil,
Ay! and those argent breasts of thine will turn
To water—lilies; the brown fields men till
Will be more fruitful for our love to—night,
Nothing is lost in nature, all things live in Death’s despite.

The boy’s first kiss, the hyacinth’s first bell,
The man’s last passion, and the last red spear
That from the lily leaps, the asphodel
Which will not let its blossoms blow for fear
Of too much beauty, and the timid shame
Of the young bride—groom at his lover’s eyes,—these with the
same

One sacrament are consecrate, the earth
Not we alone hath passions hymeneal,
The yellow buttercups that shake for mirth
At daybreak know a pleasure not less real
Than we do, when in some fresh—blossoming wood
We draw the spring into our hearts, and feel that life is good.

So when men bury us beneath the yew
Thy crimson—stainèd mouth a rose will be,
And thy soft eyes lush bluebells dimmed with dew,
And when the white narcissus wantonly
Kisses the wind its playmate, some faint joy
Will thrill our dust, and we will be again fond maid and boy.

And thus without life’s conscious torturing pain
In some sweet flower we will feel the sun,
And from the linnet’s throat will sing again,
And as two gorgeous—mailèd snakes will run
Over our graves, or as two tigers creep
Through the hot jungle where the yellow—eyed huge lions sleep

And give them battle! How my heart leaps up
To think of that grand living after death
In beast and bird and flower, when this cup,
Being filled too full of spirit, bursts for breath,
And with the pale leaves of some autumn day
The soul earth’s earliest conqueror becomes earth’s last great prey.

O think of it! We shall inform ourselves
Into all sensuous life, the goat—foot Faun,
The Centaur, or the merry bright—eyed Elves
That leave their dancing rings to spite the dawn
Upon the meadows, shall not be more near
Than you and I to nature’s mysteries, for we shall hear

The thrush’s heart beat, and the daisies grow,
And the wan snowdrop sighing for the sun
On sunless days in winter, we shall know
By whom the silver gossamer is spun,
Who paints the diapered fritillaries,
On what wide wings from shivering pine to pine the eagle flies.

Ay! had we never loved at all, who knows
If yonder daffodil had lured the bee
Into its gilded womb, or any rose
Had hung with crimson lamps its little tree!
Methinks no leaf would ever bud in spring,
But for the lovers’ lips that kiss, the poets’ lips that sing.

Is the light vanished from our golden sun,
Or is this dædal—fashioned earth less fair,
That we are nature’s heritors, and one
With every pulse of life that beats the air?
Rather new suns across the sky shall pass,
New splendour come unto the flower, new glory to the grass.

And we two lovers shall not sit afar,
Critics of nature, but the joyous sea
Shall be our raiment, and the bearded star
Shoot arrows at our pleasure! We shall be
Part of the mighty universal whole,
And through all æons mix and mingle with the Kosmic Soul!

We shall be notes in that great Symphony
Whose cadence circles through the rhythmic spheres,
And all the live World’s throbbing heart shall be
One with our heart, the stealthy creeping years
Have lost their terrors now, we shall not die,
The Universe itself shall be our Immortality!

MY limbs are wasted with a flame,
My feet are sore with travelling,
For calling on my Lady’s name
My lips have now forgot to sing.

O Linnet in the wild—rose brake
Strain for my Love thy melody,
O Lark sing louder for love’s sake,
My gentle Lady passeth by.

She is too fair for any man
To see or hold his heart’s delight,
Fairer than Queen or courtezan
Or moon—lit water in the night.

Her hair is bound with myrtle leaves,
(Green leaves upon her golden hair!)
Green grasses through the yellow sheaves
Of autumn corn are not more fair.

Her little lips, more made to kiss
Than to cry bitterly for pain,
Are tremulous as brook—water is,
Or roses after evening rain.

Her neck is like white melilote
Flushing for pleasure of the sun,
The throbbing of the linnet’s throat
Is not so sweet to look upon.

As a pomegranate, cut in twain,
White—seeded, is her crimson mouth,
Her cheeks are as the fading stain
Where the peach reddens to the south.

O twining hands! O delicate
White body made for love and pain!
O House of love! O desolate
Pale flower beaten by the rain!

HOW steep the stairs within Kings’ houses are
For exile—wearied feet as mine to tread,
And O how salt and bitter is the bread
Which falls from this Hound’s table,—better far
That I had died in the red ways of war,
Or that the gate of Florence bare my head,
Than to live thus, by all things comraded
Which seek the essence of my soul to mar.

'Curse God and die: what better hope than this?
He hath forgotten thee in all the bliss
Of his gold city, and eternal day’—
Nay peace: behind my prison’s blinded bars
I do possess what none can take away,
My love, and all the glory of the stars.

OFT have we trod the vales of Castaly
And heard sweet notes of sylvan music blown
From antique reeds to common folk unknown:
And often launched our bark upon that sea
Which the nine Muses hold in empery,
And ploughed free furrows through the wave and foam,
Nor spread reluctant sail for more safe home
Till we had freighted well our argosy.
Of which despoilèd treasures these remain,
Sordello’s passion, and the honied line
Of young Endymion, lordly Tamburlaine
Driving his pampered jades, and more than these,
The seven—fold vision of the Florentine,
And grave—browed Milton’s solemn harmonies.

O beautiful star with the crimson mouth!
O moon with the brows of gold!
Rise up, rise up, from the odorous south!
And light for my love her way,
Lest her little feet should stray
On the windy hill and the wold!
O beautiful star with the crimson mouth!
O moon with the brows of gold!

O ship that shakes on the desolate sea!
O ship with the wet, white sail!
Put in, put in, to the port to me!
For my love and I would go
To the land where the daffodils blow
In the heart of a violet dale!
O ship that shakes on the desolate sea!
O ship with the wet, white sail!

O rapturous bird with the low, sweet note!
O bird that sits on the spray!
Sing on, sing on, from your soft brown throat!
And my love in her little bed
Will listen, and lift her head
From the pillow, and come my way!
O rapturous bird with the low, sweet note!
O bird that sits on the spray!

O blossom that hangs in the tremulous air!
O blossom with lips of snow!
Come down, come down, for my love to wear!
You will die on her head in a crown,
You will die in a fold of her gown,
To her little light heart you will go!
O blossom that hangs in the tremulous air!
O blossom with lips of snow!

SET in this stormy Northern sea,
Queen of these restless fields of tide,
England! what shall men say of thee,
Before whose feet the worlds divide?

The earth, a brittle globe of glass,
Lies in the hollow of thy hand,
And through its heart of crystal pass,
Like shadows through a twilight land,

The spears of crimson—suited war,
The long white—crested waves of fight,
And all the deadly fires which are
The torches of the lords of Night.

The yellow leopards, strained and lean,
The treacherous Russian knows so well,
With gaping blackened jaws are seen
Leap through the hail of screaming shell.

The strong sea—lion of England’s wars
Hath left his sapphire cave of sea,
To battle with the storm that mars
The star of England’s chivalry.

The brazen—throated clarion blows
Across the Pathan’s reedy fen,
And the high steeps of Indian snows
Shake to the tread of armèd men.

And many an Afghan chief, who lies
Beneath his cool pomegranate—trees,
Clutches his sword in fierce surmise
When on the mountain—side he sees

The fleet—foot Marri scout, who comes
To tell how he hath heard afar
The measured roll of English drums
Beat at the gates of Kandahar.

For southern wind and east wind meet
Where, girt and crowned by sword and fire,
England with bare and bloody feet
Climbs the steep road of wide empire.

O lonely Himalayan height,
Grey pillar of the Indian sky,
Where saw’st thou last in clanging fight
Our wingèd dogs of Victory?

The almond groves of Samarcand,
Bokhara, where red lilies blow,
And Oxus, by whose yellow sand
The grave white—turbaned merchants go:

And on from thence to Ispahan,
The gilded garden of the sun,
Whence the long dusty caravan
Brings cedar and vermilion;

And that dread city of Cabool
Set at the mountain’s scarpèd feet,
Whose marble tanks are ever full
With water for the noonday heat:

Where through the narrow straight Bazaar
A little maid Circassian
Is led, a present from the Czar
Unto some old and bearded khan,—

Here have our wild war—eagles flown,
And flapped wide wings in fiery fight;
But the sad dove, that sits alone
In England—she hath no delight.

In vain the laughing girl will lean
To greet her love with love—lit eyes:
Down in some treacherous black ravine,
Clutching his flag, the dead boy lies.

And many a moon and sun will see
The lingering wistful children wait
To climb upon their father’s knee;
And in each house made desolate

Pale women who have lost their lord
Will kiss the relics of the slain—
Some tarnished epaulette—some sword—
Poor toys to soothe such anguished pain.

For not in quiet English fields
Are these, our brothers, lain to rest,
Where we might deck their broken shields
With all the flowers the dead love best.

For some are by the Delhi walls,
And many in the Afghan land,
And many where the Ganges falls
Through seven mouths of shifting sand.

And some in Russian waters lie,
And others in the seas which are
The portals to the East, or by
The wind—swept heights of Trafalgar.

O wandering graves! O restless sleep!
O silence of the sunless day!
O still ravine! O stormy deep!
Give up your prey! Give up your prey!

And thou whose wounds are never healed,
Whose weary race is never won,
O Cromwell’s England! must thou yield
For every inch of ground a son?

Go! crown with thorns thy gold—crowned head,
Change thy glad song to song of pain;
Wind and wild wave have got thy dead,
And will not yield them back again.

Wave and wild wind and foreign shore
Possess the flower of English land—
Lips that thy lips shall kiss no more,
Hands that shall never clasp thy hand.

What profit now that we have bound
The whole round world with nets of gold,
If hidden in our heart is found
The care that groweth never old?

What profit that our galleys ride,
Pine—forest—like, on every main?
Ruin and wreck are at our side,
Grim warders of the House of pain.

Where are the brave, the strong, the fleet?
Where is our English chivalry?
Wild grasses are their burial—sheet,
And sobbing waves their threnody.

O loved ones lying far away,
What word of love can dead lips send!
O wasted dust! O senseless clay!
Is this the end! is this the end!

Peace, peace! we wrong the noble dead
To vex their solemn slumber so;
Though childless, and with thorn—crowned head,
Up the steep road must England go,

Yet when this fiery web is spun,
Her watchmen shall descry from far
The young Republic like a sun
Rise from these crimson seas of war.

From his childhood he had been as one filled with the perfect
knowledge of God, and even while he was yet but a lad many of the
saints, as well as certain holy women who dwelt in the free city of
his birth, had been stirred to much wonder by the grave wisdom of
his answers.

And when his parents had given him the robe and the ring of manhood
he kissed them, and left them and went out into the world, that he
might speak to the world about God. For there were at that time
many in the world who either knew not God at all, or had but an
incomplete knowledge of Him, or worshipped the false gods who dwell
in groves and have no care of their worshippers.

And he set his face to the sun and journeyed, walking without
sandals, as he had seen the saints walk, and carrying at his girdle
a leathern wallet and a little water—bottle of burnt clay.

And as he walked along the highway he was full of the joy that
comes from the perfect knowledge of God, and he sang praises unto
God without ceasing; and after a time he reached a strange land in
which there were many cities.

And he passed through eleven cities. And some of these cities were
in valleys, and others were by the banks of great rivers, and
others were set on hills. And in each city he found a disciple who
loved him and followed him, and a great multitude also of people
followed him from each city, and the knowledge of God spread in the
whole land, and many of the rulers were converted, and the priests
of the temples in which there were idols found that half of their
gain was gone, and when they beat upon their drums at noon none, or
but a few, came with peacocks and with offerings of flesh as had
been the custom of the land before his coming.

Yet the more the people followed him, and the greater the number of
his disciples, the greater became his sorrow. And he knew not why
his sorrow was so great. For he spake ever about God, and out of
the fulness of that perfect knowledge of God which God had Himself
given to him.

And one evening he passed out of the eleventh city, which was a
city of Armenia, and his disciples and a great crowd of people
followed after him; and he went up on to a mountain and sat down on
a rock that was on the mountain, and his disciples stood round him,
and the multitude knelt in the valley.

And he bowed his head on his hands and wept, and said to his Soul,
‘Why is it that I am full of sorrow and fear, and that each of my
disciples is an enemy that walks in the noonday?’ And his Soul
answered him and said, ‘God filled thee with the perfect knowledge
of Himself, and thou hast given this knowledge away to others. The
pearl of great price thou hast divided, and the vesture without
seam thou hast parted asunder. He who giveth away wisdom robbeth
himself. He is as one who giveth his treasure to a robber. Is not
God wiser than thou art? Who art thou to give away the secret that
God hath told thee? I was rich once, and thou hast made me poor.
Once I saw God, and now thou hast hidden Him from me.’

And he wept again, for he knew that his Soul spake truth to him,
and that he had given to others the perfect knowledge of God, and
that he was as one clinging to the skirts of God, and that his
faith was leaving him by reason of the number of those who believed
in him.

And he said to himself, ‘I will talk no more about God. He who
giveth away wisdom robbeth himself.’

And after the space of some hours his disciples came near him and
bowed themselves to the ground and said, ‘Master, talk to us about
God, for thou hast the perfect knowledge of God, and no man save
thee hath this knowledge.’

And he answered them and said, ‘I will talk to you about all other
things that are in heaven and on earth, but about God I will not
talk to you. Neither now, nor at any time, will I talk to you
about God.’

And they were wroth with him and said to him, ‘Thou hast led us
into the desert that we might hearken to thee. Wilt thou send us
away hungry, and the great multitude that thou hast made to follow
thee?’

And he answered them and said, ‘I will not talk to you about God.’

And the multitude murmured against him and said to him, ‘Thou hast
led us into the desert, and hast given us no food to eat. Talk to
us about God and it will suffice us.’

But he answered them not a word. For he knew that if he spake to
them about God he would give away his treasure.

And his disciples went away sadly, and the multitude of people
returned to their own homes. And many died on the way.

And when he was alone he rose up and set his face to the moon, and
journeyed for seven moons, speaking to no man nor making any
answer. And when the seventh moon had waned he reached that desert
which is the desert of the Great River. And having found a cavern
in which a Centaur had once dwelt, he took it for his place of
dwelling, and made himself a mat of reeds on which to lie, and
became a hermit. And every hour the Hermit praised God that He had
suffered him to keep some knowledge of Him and of His wonderful
greatness.

Now, one evening, as the Hermit was seated before the cavern in
which he had made his place of dwelling, he beheld a young man of
evil and beautiful face who passed by in mean apparel and with
empty hands. Every evening with empty hands the young man passed
by, and every morning he returned with his hands full of purple and
pearls. For he was a Robber and robbed the caravans of the
merchants.

And the Hermit looked at him and pitied him. But he spake not a
word. For he knew that he who speaks a word loses his faith.

And one morning, as the young man returned with his hands full of
purple and pearls, he stopped and frowned and stamped his foot upon
the sand, and said to the Hermit: ‘Why do you look at me ever in
this manner as I pass by? What is it that I see in your eyes? For
no man has looked at me before in this manner. And the thing is a
thorn and a trouble to me.’

And the Hermit answered him and said, ‘What you see in my eyes is
pity. Pity is what looks out at you from my eyes.’

And the young man laughed with scorn, and cried to the Hermit in a
bitter voice, and said to him, ‘I have purple and pearls in my
hands, and you have but a mat of reeds on which to lie. What pity
should you have for me? And for what reason have you this pity?’

‘I have pity for you,’ said the Hermit, ‘because you have no
knowledge of God.’

‘Is this knowledge of God a precious thing?’ asked the young man,
and he came close to the mouth of the cavern.

‘It is more precious than all the purple and the pearls of the
world,’ answered the Hermit.

‘And have you got it?’ said the young Robber, and he came closer
still.

‘Once, indeed,’ answered the Hermit, ‘I possessed the perfect
knowledge of God. But in my foolishness I parted with it, and
divided it amongst others. Yet even now is such knowledge as
remains to me more precious than purple or pearls.’

And when the young Robber heard this he threw away the purple and
the pearls that he was bearing in his hands, and drawing a sharp
sword of curved steel he said to the Hermit, ‘Give me, forthwith
this knowledge of God that you possess, or I will surely slay you.
Wherefore should I not slay him who has a treasure greater than my
treasure?’

And the Hermit spread out his arms and said, ‘Were it not better
for me to go unto the uttermost courts of God and praise Him, than
to live in the world and have no knowledge of Him? Slay me if that
be your desire. But I will not give away my knowledge of God.’

And the young Robber knelt down and besought him, but the Hermit
would not talk to him about God, nor give him his Treasure, and the
young Robber rose up and said to the Hermit, 'Be it as you will.
As for myself, I will go to the City of the Seven Sins, that is but
three days’ journey from this place, and for my purple they will
give me pleasure, and for my pearls they will sell me joy.' And he
took up the purple and the pearls and went swiftly away.

And the Hermit cried out and followed him and besought him. For
the space of three days he followed the young Robber on the road
and entreated him to return, nor to enter into the City of the
Seven Sins.

And ever and anon the young Robber looked back at the Hermit and
called to him, and said, ‘Will you give me this knowledge of God
which is more precious than purple and pearls? If you will give me
that, I will not enter the city.’

And ever did the Hermit answer, ‘All things that I have I will give
thee, save that one thing only. For that thing it is not lawful
for me to give away.’

And in the twilight of the third day they came nigh to the great
scarlet gates of the City of the Seven Sins. And from the city
there came the sound of much laughter.

And the young Robber laughed in answer, and sought to knock at the
gate. And as he did so the Hermit ran forward and caught him by
the skirts of his raiment, and said to him: ‘Stretch forth your
hands, and set your arms around my neck, and put your ear close to
my lips, and I will give you what remains to me of the knowledge of
God.’ And the young Robber stopped.

And when the Hermit had given away his knowledge of God, he fell
upon the ground and wept, and a great darkness hid from him the
city and the young Robber, so that he saw them no more.

And as he lay there weeping he was ware of One who was standing
beside him; and He who was standing beside him had feet of brass
and hair like fine wool. And He raised the Hermit up, and said to
him: ‘Before this time thou hadst the perfect knowledge of God.
Now thou shalt have the perfect love of God. Wherefore art thou
weeping?’ And he kissed him.