Robinson Jeffers





Hungerfield

If time is only another dimension, then all that dies
Remains alive; not annulled, but removed
Out of our sight. Una is still alive.
A few years back we are making love, greedy as hawks.
A boy and a married girl. A few years back
We are still young, strong-shouldered, joyfully laboring
To make our house. Then she, in the wide sea-window,
Endlessly enduring but not very patient,
Teaches our sons to read. She is still there,
Her beautiful pale face, heavy hair, great eyes
Bent to the book. And a few years back
We sit with our grown sons in the pitching motor-boat
Off Horn Head in Donegal, watching the sea-parrots
Tumble like clowns along the thousand-foot cliff, and the gannets
    like falling stars
Hawk at the sea: her great blue eyes are brimmed
With the wild beauty. Or we walk in Orkney,
Under the mystery of huge stones that stand there,
Raised high in the world's dawn by unknown men to forgotten
     gods,
And see dimly through the deep northern dusk
A great skein of wild swans drop from the cloud
To the gray lake. She weeps a little for joy of beauty. Only the
    homecoming
To our loved rock over the gray and ageless Pacific
Makes her such joy.
                                It is possible that all these conditions
    of us
Are fixed points on the returning orbit of time and exist
    eternally...
It is no good. Una has died, and I
Am left waiting for death, like a leafless tree
Waiting for the roots to rot and the trunk to fall.

I never thought you would leave me, dear love.
I knew you would die some time, I should die first --
But you have died. It is quite natural:
Because you loved life you must die first, and I
Who never cared much live on. Life is cheap, these days;
We have to compete with Asia, we are as cheap as dust,
And death is cheap, but not hers. It is a common thing:
We die, we cease to exist, and our dear lovers
Fulfill themselves with sorrow and drunkenness, the quart at
    midnight
And the cups in the morning --  or they go seeking
A second love: but you and I are at least
Not ridiculous.

September again. The gray grass, the gray sea,
The ink-black trees with white-bellied night-herons in them,
Brawling on the boughs at dusk, barking like dogs --
And the awful loss. It is a year. She has died: and I
Have lived for a long year on soft rotten emotions,
Vain longing and drunken pity, grief and gray ashes --
Oh child of God!
It is not that I am lonely for you. I am lonely:
I am mutilated, for you were a part of me:
But men endure that. I am growing old and my love is gone:
No doubt I can live without you, bitterly and well.
That's not the cry. My torment is memory
My grief to have seen the banner and beauty of your brave life
Dragged in the dust down the dim road to death. To have seen
    you defeated
You who never despaired, passing through weakness
And pain --- 
                    to nothing. It is usual I believe, I stood by; I believe
I never failed you. The contemptible thought ---
Whether I failed or not! I am not the one.
I was not dying. Is death bitter, my dearest? It is nothing.
It is silence. But dying can be bitter. 
                                                          In this black year
I have thought often of Hungerfield, the man at Horse Creek,
Who fought with Death --- bodily, said the witnesses, throat for
    throat,
Fury agains fury in the dark ---
And conquered him. If I had had the courage and the hope ---
Or the pure rage ---
I should be now Death's captive, no doubt, not conquerer.
I should be with my dearest, in the hollow darkness
Where nothing hurts.
                                  I should not remember
Your silver-backed hand-mirror you asked me for,
And sat up in bed to gaze in it, to see your face
A little changed. You were still beautiful,
But not --- as you'd been --- a falcon. You said nothing; you sighed
    and laid down the glass; and I
Made a dog smile over a tearing heart,
Saying that you looked well.       
                                               The lies --- the faithless hopeless
    unbelieved lies,
While you lay dying.
                                  For these reasons
I wish to make verses again, to drug memory,
To make it sleep for a moment. Never fear: I shall not forget you ---
Until I am with you. The dead indeed forget all things.
And when I speak to you it is only play-acting
And self-indulgence: you cannot hear me, you do not exist.
    Dearest...

The story: Horse Creek drives blithely down its rock bed
High on the thin-turfed mountain, as we have seen it, but at the 
    sea mouth
Turns dark and fierce, black lava cliffs oppress it and it bites
    through them, the redwood trees in the gorge-throat
Are tortured dwarfs deformed by centuries of storm, broad trunks
    ancient as Caesar, and tattered heads
Hardly higher than the house. There is an angry concentration of
    power here, rock, storm and ocean;
The skies are dark, and darkness comes up like smoke
Out of the ground.
                             It was here that Hungerfield sat by his mother's
    bedside,
In the great room at the house-top, under the heavy slant of the                
    rafters: she had chosen this loft to lie in
Because it was as wide as the house, one could see west and east,
    ocean and mountain, from the low-silled windows
Without lifting from bed. But now her eyes were closed, she lay
    under opiate, gasping and muttering,
A tall woman, big-boned and aquiline-faced, with thin gray hair
And thin gray lips. She had been on her bed helpless for half a year
Like a ship on a reef.
                                   Hungerfield sat beside her, his great shoulders
    hunched like a vulture's.
There was nothing to do, and he felt his strength
Turn sour, unused. He had been a man of violence, and formed for
    violence, but what could violence do here?
He could not even breathe for her. She was, in fact, drowning,
    here on the bed: metastases of cancer
Had found the lungs.
                                  This is my wound. This is what never time 
    nor change now whiskey will heal:
To have watched the bladed throat-muscles lifting the breast-bone,
    frail strands of exhausted flesh, laboring, laboring,
Only for a little air. The poets who sing of life without remember-
    ing its agony
Are fools or liars.
                             Hungerfield watched the winter's day end die in
    dark fire
In the west windows. He lighted the little coal-lamp in its 
    bracket and sat down again,
Hunched, full of helpless fury. He had fought in two so-called
    world wars, he had killed men, he knew all the tricks.
But who kills cancer?    
                                   He remembered when he was young, after his
    first battle,
He had met Death in a hospital. Dreamed it, no doubt, dizzy with
    ether, having three machine-gun slugs through his belly,
And killed some men, two of them with his hands after he was
    wounded: he had seen Death come in for him,
Into the French barn which they called a hospital. Death walked
    in human form, handsome and arrogant
Among the camp-cots, a long, dark and contemptuous face, em-
    peror of all men, choosing the souls
That he would take. It was nothing horrible; it was only absolute
    power
Taking his own. He beckoned: the obedient soul
Flew into his hand. Hungerfield thought Death was right to
    despise them, they came like slaves. He thought,
"The poor bastards are tired after a battle" --- he thought in his own
    language ---  "and their wounds hurt,
They want relief" --- but at that moment the towering dark power
    approached him and made a sign,
Such as one makes to a dog, trained but not liked,
"Come here to me." Hungerfield felt such a wave of rage
That his wounds closed their mouths; the leonine adrenal glands
    poured their blind fury
Into his blood, and the great nerves of the brain
Gave eyes to it; he was suddenly well and powerful, with burning
    eyes: "Come and try me. We'll see
Which one's the dog." Death amazed glared at him.
                                                                   He was like the defeated
                                           Roman dictator in the ruins of Carthage,
Alone, when the two soldiers found him, unarmed and guardless,
    his head worth an ass's load of gold:
He lifted his indomitable head, scowling, and they
Fled from him, like boys who have chased a rabbit in the bushes
    and find a bear. So Death stared at Hungerfield,
Death himself, with his empty black eyes and sneering astonished
    face, at such a mask of fury
That he preferred to avoid it. The blue eyes and the black ones
    fought in the air: it was Death's that failed.
He shrugged his high heavy shoulder and turned aside.               
                                                                          "My senseless dream,"
Hungerfield thought. "The loss of blood and the dregs of ether
    made a fine dream.
How I wish it were true." He looked at his mother's face, gasping
    and drained, and the thin lips
Black in the half-light. She had enormous vitality, he hoped she
    was not conscious. He heard light footsteps
Mounting the stair, and the door opened, It was his young wife
    Arab, a girl so blonde that her hair
Shone like another lamp at the end of the room, in the dark door-
    way. She stood a moment,
And came quietly and kissed him. "Won't you come down to sup-
    per, dearest? I will stay here." "No," he said
And twitched his thumb toward the dark door: she patiently
Went out and closed it.
                                     Hungerfield was waiting for his enemy,
And coiled to strike. The conscious upper layer of his mind did not
    one moment believe
That Death had a throat and one could reach it, but his blood did.
    What he had seen he had seen. It was dangerous
For any person to come into the room: he had only by force and
    will kept his hands
From his dear Arab.
                                Meanwhile the gentle click of the door-latch
    and Arab's entrance
Had touched the ears of the old woman dying; and slowly, from
    nerve-complex to nerve complex,
Through the oxygen-starved brain crawled into her mind. She rolled
    her head on the pillow: œWho is that? There! There!
Her tremulous finger pointing at shapes and shadows in the room
    twilight, her terrified eyes peering,
Following phantoms. "Nothing, Mother, nothing: there's no one.
    Arab was here.
But she has gone." "I'm dying now," she said. "Can't you see?"
She gasped rapidly awhile and whispered, "Not a nice death: no
    air." "You will not die, Mother.
You are going to get well."
                                            It is a common lie to the dying,
    and I too have told it; but Hungerfield ---
While his mind lied his blood and body believed. He had seen
    Death and he would see him again.
He was waiting for his enemy. 
                                                 Night deepened around the house;
    the sea-waves came up into the stream,
And the stream fought them; the cliffs and the standing rocks black
    and bone-still
Stood in the dark. There were no stars, there were some little
    sparkles of glowworms on the wet ground,
If you looked closely. and shape of things, and the shifting foam-
    line. The vast phantasmagoria of night
Proceeded around that central throat begging for breath, and Hun
    gerfield  
Sat beside it, rigid and motionless as the rocks but his fingers
    twitching, hunched like a cat
To spring and tear.
                              Then the throat clicked and ceased. Hungerfield
    looked at it; when he looked back
The monster was in the room. It was a column of heavy darkness
    in the dim lamplight, but the arrogant head
Was clear to see. That damned sneer on his face. Hungerfield felt
    his hair rise like a dog's
And heard Death saying scornfully: "Quiet yourself, poor man,
    make no disturbance; it is not for you.
I have come for the old woman Alcmena Hungerfield, to whom 
    death
Will be more kind than life." Hungerfield saw his throat and
    sprang at it. But he was like a man swimming
A lake of corpses, the newly harvested souls from all earth's fields,
    faint shrieks and whispers, Death's company.
He smote their dim heads with his hands and their bowels with
    his feet
And swam on them. He reached Death's monstrous flesh and they
    cleared away. It had looked like a shadow,
It was harder than iron. The throat was missed, they stood and
    hugged each other like lovers; Hungerfield
Drove his knee to the groin. Death laughed and said,
"I am not a man," and the awful embrace tightened 
On the man's loins; he began to be bent backward, writhing and 
    sobbing; he felt the years of his age
Bite at his heart like rats: he was not yet fifty: but it is known that
    little by little God abandons men
When thirty's past. Experience and cunning may perhaps increase
But power departs. He struck short at the throat and was bent
    further backward, and suddenly
Flung himself back and fell, dragging Death down with him, twist-
ing in the fall, and weasel quick on the floor
Tore at the throat: then the horrible stench and hopelessness of
    dead bodies filled the dim air; he thought
He had wounded Death. What? The iron force and frame of
    nature with his naked hands? It bubbled and gasped,
"You fool --- what have you done!" The iron in his grip melted
    like a summer corpse, and turning liquid
Slid from his hands. He stood up foaming and groped for it; there
    was nothing. He saw in the stair-door
Arab, and Ross his brother, and the hired cattlehand
Staring with eyes like moons. They had heard a chair crash and
    seen the fury; Arab had screamed like a hawk,
But no one heard her; now she stood moaning, gazing at him. But
    Ross entered the room and walked
Carefully wide around him to their mother's bed. The old woman
    was sitting up and breathed easily, saying
"I saw it all. Listen: they are taking him away." A strain of mourn-
    full music was heard, from the house
Flitting up the black night. This was the time --- it was near mid-
    night here --- for a quarter of an hour
Nobody died. Disease went on, and the little peripheral prophetic
    wars, the famines and betrayals,
Neither man nor beast died, though they might cry for him. Death,
    whom we hate and love, had met a worse monster
And could not come.
                                 Hungerfield writhed his mouth, striving to
    speak, and failed. He stood swaying,
And spoke loud but not clearly: "To kill the swine. How did he
    get ---" He lurched a step toward the bed
And righted the fallen chair and sat on it, vulture-hunched and 
    gray-faced. Then Arab ran to him,
But stopped a man's length distant: "Dear, are you hurt?" "No,"
    he said. "keep away from me." "Oh God, I'm in terror of you.
What have you done?" "Nothing. Nothing at all. I wiped the
    damned sneer off his face but he got away from me."
She, with her hands on her throat, like a leaf shaking:
"Who was it, who?" "Uh," he said. "Death. Can't you smell him?
    But the swine tricked me,
And slip-slopped out." He worked his hard hands and stared at
    them: "Ross, is there any liquor in the house?" "Drunkard,"
The old woman answered, "as your farther was." "Yea? he said.
    "you're better, uh?
You'll be all right, Mother."
                                             In the morning she dressed herself
    without help, in the dim of the dawn,
And came downstairs. Then Hungerfield, who had watched all
    night beside her and dozed in the graying, awoke
And followed down. He made a fire in the stove, and washed his
    hands and sliced meat; the old woman fried it
And brought the coffee to boil. Arab came in with her little son,
    who ran to Hungerfield:
"What happened Daddy?" "Your grandmother has got well," he
    answered. "Then why is Mahmie so scared?" œ"h? No.
Your Mahmie's glad. --- Arab," he said, "I know there's a little whis-
    key hidden in the house.
By God I want it." She smiled, and brought a half bottle from the
    linen closet behind the linen. He said
To his mother, "Don't look, Mother," and filled a water-glass full
    and drained it; she watched him with sidelong hatred
Through her gray brows. "Take a little more," she said, "and go
    blind ---
While Ross goes in to Arab and Death to me." "I had my hands
    in him," he said --- "Uh --- What?
What did you say?" "I said that one of my two sons is a drunken
    bully, and the other defiles
His brother's wife." He stared at her and said, "You're...pretty
    sick, Mother. Forget it, Arab.
Something has happened to her." "Something has happened to
    me." the old woman answered. "I was dying and you filled the
    room
With beastly violence. My beautiful dark angel, my lord and love,
    who like a bridegroom had come for me,
You took him by the throat and killed him. Will you like it, Arab
When he kills Ross?" The girl suddenly knelt to her, where she was
    sitting, and laid her hands on her knees:
"Please tell the truth, Mother." "I'm telling the truth. From my
    windows I watched you. He will surely kill him,
He kills horses and men."
                                         Ross at that moment sleepily came in the
    room. The old woman said,
"How do you dare?" "What?" he said. "How do you dare to come
    in, where our handy killer whom you dishonored
Waits for your throat?" Then Arab, her face withered half-size and
    as white as paper, leaped up from kneeling:
"Quit lying, Mother!" and furiously turned on Hungerfield, who
    had not stirred, "Be quiet!" she said. "Stand still!
It is a dream from hell." "No," he said quietly, "from the mor-
    phine.
They get delusions." He looked over Arab's head at his brother:
    "It's all right, Ross." And to his mother:
"The horrible gift, I was ignorant and gave it.
I forced out that great head of yours between my thighs, bleeding
    and screaming, tearing myself to pieces:
I am now punished for it --- and the monstrous plant that grew up
    out of my body is the stick to beat me:
That's you, that's you!" "You've had a bad time, mother," he an-
    swered patiently. "You'll soon be better, I think.
Will you go up to town to the doctor with me? Or the young
    doctor
Can come down here." "I had one friend in the world," she an-
    swered, ˜loving and faithful: when he came you killed him.
I hate your hangdog face and your horrible hands: I cannot bear
    you: have mercy on me,
Get out of my sight." He felt a sharp gust of wrath returning: "I
    didn't kill him:
By God I will." "I am so homesick for him, his peace and love, it
    is pitiful," she answered.
But she came more into control of herself
As the days passed. She stared at the sea a great deal; she watched
    the sunsets burn fierce and low, or the cormorants
Roosting on the offshore rock, their sharp black wings half-spread,
    and black snaky throats; and the restless gulls
Riding the air-streams. She watched coldly the great south storms,
    the tiger-striped, mud-yellow on purple black,
Rage in the offing. She seemed to find consolation in them. There
    is no consolation in humanity ---
Though Arab sometimes allowed her (carefully in her presence)
    to hold
Little Norrie in her arms --- only the acts and glory of unhuman
    nature or immortal God
 Can ever give our hurts peace.
                                                  But Alcmena Hungerfield
Was not for peace, she had become Death's little dog, stolen from
    him
By the strong hand, yelping all night for her dear master. She
    stared at the sea a great deal, and her son
Came in from Monterey, stinking of whiskey but not altered by
    it. "Here's the paper, Mother,"
He said, and laid it carefully on her knees, the Monterey newspaper
With headlines about the outflash of war in Asia. "We've got our
    nose caught in the door again.
We always do." "Well...what?" she answered, staring at him
As she stared at the sea. œI thought you might be int'rested, he
    answered. "Ross and I are too old
To go to it." She turned to an inner page and read,
Squinting her eyes to pull the print into shape, in the manner of
    old age
In lack of glasses. Suddenly she began to tremble and said, "Thank
    God!
Why did you lie to me, Hawl? People still die." "So do the calves,"
    he answered.
"Three or four every night, and no reason known." "Why did you
    lie about it then? Look here ---"
She thrust the paper at him, trembling at pointing --- "Satella
    Venner died yesterday, my old friend.
I never liked the old woman, but I'd like to go." "Uh," he said,
    "the funeral? Sure.
I'll take you there." "I want to see her dead face," she answered.

    In the night Arab sat up,
Gasping with fear, "Wake up!" she whispered. He lay inert, softly
    breathing; she dug her finger-ends
Into his great shoulder and the softer flesh over the gullet: "Wake
    up for God's sake, Hawl.
He has come in!" Hungerfield brushed the little hand from his 
    throat like a biting fly and said
Quietly, "What?" "Something came in," she whispered through
    clicking teeth, "I can hear it padding
Inside the house." "Ah hell." he said impatiently, but slid from
    bed and went about the house naked,
Flashing the little electric torch into doors and corners, for the
    night was black. He went upstairs
To the loft where his mother lay, and heard her on the bed quietly
    breathing. He drew the torchlight across,
And her eyes were wide open. "Are you all right, Mother? It's
    Hawl." She made no answer. He stood awhile,
And said, "Good night, Mother." He went back to bed, and Arab
Sat huddled on it, small as a frightened child, hugging her knees
    to her throat. "Every night I hear it
Hulking around the house, pawing at the walls ---
But tonight it came in." "lie down," he said, "and be quiet." "let
    her die, Hawl, she is so unhappy.
O let her die!" "Little fool," he said, "there was nobody. I'm sorry
    for her. Unhappy --- what's that?'
We win or they do." "I pray you, Hawl," she answered, "as if you
    were God: when my time comes
O let me die!"
                       In the morning Hungerfield took his mother to
Monterey, to her friend's funeral. They drove home
Late in the afternoon in the amber afterglow. The day had been
    like a festival. Hungerfield
Accepted his mother's mood and was patient with her, and had
    supper with her
On the Monterey fish-pier, they alone together. He thought that
    she seemed at last perhaps
Not quite unhappy. She was even willing to taste wine, in the
    bright wind on the platform
Over the gentle sea, and made no objection to him
That what he drank was more violent than wine. She had even
    urged him to it, saying that the day
Was a holiday; he failed to observe the calculation
In her old eyes.
                        They were driving the coast-road
Where it loops into Torres Canyon over great precipices in the 
    heavy half-light. She said, "De Angulo
Went down here, he lay all night in the butt of the gorge, broken
    to bits, but conscious,
Lying crushed on his dead son, under the engine of the car --- let's 
    try, let's try!" she leaped at the steering wheel,
Trying to slew it to the right, to the blue chasm: it was firm as
    rock, She like a mountain-cat
Fought with her fingernails her son's hands; he said indulgently,
    "Don't be afraid, Mother. I'm driving.
You are quite safe." "Safe in hell," she panted. "Oh --- child
What have I done to your hands?" They rounded the great head-
    lands and came to Granite Point and drove down
Into the heavy fog clotted on Horse Creek
                                                                The front of the house was
                                    empty and blind
When they came near; only at the side two dim-lit rectangles
Faintly reddened the fog-stream. The front door stood wide open;
    the steps were wet. Hungerfield
Helped his mother out of the car and they climbed them. A
    wavering light
Walked in the room: Ross came slow to the door, the smoke-
    blackened glass skew in his hand;
He moved a chair with the other and said,
"Sit down, Mother." "We've had supper," she said. "I'll go straight
    to bed." Hungerfield said fiercely:
"What's the matter? Where's Arab?" "Gone...gone," he an-
    swered. His face was like a skull, stripped and hollow, and the 
    lamp
Rolled in his hand, so that his brother took it and said.
"Are you drunk, Ross?" He mumbled, "Unq-uh," shaking his head
    "Four more calves and your bay horse
Are --- dead ---" he screamed the word --- "He comes behind you, Hawl,
He works ˜n the dark " head still shaking, apparently he could 
    not stop it; his hair and shirt hung
As if they were soaked with water. Hungerfield said, "You fool:
    talk sense.
Where has she gone?" "Oh, wait," he said, "For God's sake,"
    pointing at the inner doorway; and gulped and shivered:
"In there." Hungerfield set the lamp and strode to the door:
    it was pitch dark within: he said, "Arab?
Are you there, Arab?" Ross echoed him for no reason, saying
    loudly,
"Arab." His brother entered the room and they heard him fum-
    bling in it, and his voice: "Where are you?" The old woman,
Leaning against the chair-back, said cooly: "Well, Ross,
What has happened?" "Mother," he said. He stood moving his
    lips without further words, and they heard Hungerfield
Move blind in the black room, and croak
In a strange voice, "Light, light!" They stood and stared at each
    other; then Ross opened his mouth and sucked
His lungs full, as if he were going to dive into deep water; he took
    the lamp from the table and carried it
To the dark room. The old woman followed him; and in the room
    quickly found matches, and lighted
A second lamp.
                         Arab and little Norrie lay without life together on
    the narrow bed,
Phantoms of what they had been. Hungerfield stood above them,
    gaunt, straight and staring
At Arab's discolored hair: their clothes and their yellow hair soaked
    with water and foam. Hungerfield said,
"I knew in the dark well enough." A frond of se-weed stuck
    beside the child's nostrils, but Arab's face
Was clean pale marble; except her eyes were open, blu and suf-
    fused, and her half open mouth
Had foam inside. Hungerfield said heavily, "How did they drown?"
    Ross answered:
"I dived and pulled them out. I pumped her ribs with my hands
    for an hour, I think,
And she grew cold." Hungerfield heavily turned and said:
"Why did they go in water?" Ross answered, "He comes behind
    you, you know. I heard her screaming ---" The old woman
Went around the bed and dropped by the child, her knees loud
    on the floor, her shaking gray head
On the child's breast. Ross said, "I was at the stable, you know,
    unsaddling. I ran down and saw her
Running out on the rocks carrying the baby, crying and running.
    She thought someone was after her.
She either jumped or fell in." "So that's your help." Hungerfield
    said. He felt his arm swell and strike ---
One blow, but the neck broke. They heard the head strike the
    floor and the body shuddering, and Hungerfield
Did not look down. The old woman lifted up her desert-dry eyes
    from the child's breast and said:
"You've done it now." He stood considering the matter, hearing
    the rub of Ross's boots on the floor
As he twitched and was dying. "Ah," Hungerfield said, "I did it
    Yes, My monstrous fault." "Oh," she answered,
"Now me, now me!" "The fool had to interfere," he answered
    He knuckled his eyes and said heavily,
"I have another son in Alaska. I have no other brother and no other
    love. Arab.
Arab alone." "You've had many," she answered eagerly. "Look," he
    said,
"Oh, she was beautiful, Mother. She was always sweet, patient, and 
    cheerful, she loved Norrie --- and now
She has death in her mouth."
                                             As if his name had called him, Death
Stood in the room. Alcmena Hungerfield well remembered him,
The towering stature, the high thick shoulders and the arrogance,
    the long dark narrow face and deep eyes
Set close together. "O dear dark God!" she said, "I am here, Gently
    I pray." But Hungerfield
Gazing at Arab's face did not hear her, and did not see
What came behind him and with a slight motion of the hand
    beckoned
To Ross to come. The old woman saw the unfleshed soul
Blind and erratic as a beetle flying rise from the body; it jigged
    and darted in the air, and swam
Into Death's hand, which crushed it. Hungerfield turned and said,
    "Is it you, Horse-face I haven't called you yet.
Come again in ten minutes." He turned away, saying, "Arab is
    dead. My dear Arab is dead.
And Ross, who was quick and loyal, skillful with cattle and a great
    rider, is dead. My brave little man
Norrie is dead --- Hell, he gets three for one, and now the whole
    game, he has tricked me witless.
But I'll make a good sunset --- We'll dance in fire, Horse-face,
And go up yelling."
                                                                  He went in the dark to the
    kitchen store-room and fetched the big can of coal-oil,
Going heavily like a rock walking, violent and certain; but in the
    darkness returning
He walked into a half open door, and with one hand
Tore it down from the hinges. He poured the coal-oil onto the
    floor and the bed and the wooden walls,
And turned a lamp to flaring and flung it
Into the oil-pool. Bright flame stood up. The old woman said,
    "Hawl...
Kill me before I burn." He said, "I've done enough and too much,
     Mother.
Find a knife for yourself." She, thinly laughing: "You're not much
    help, are you? But I've lived with pain
As fish live with the sea. Or if it's tough I can drink smoke." But
    her courage after a time
Failed, and she fled from the house before the bright flame em-
    braced her.

                       Horse Creek sea-mouth at last for once
Was full of light; the fire drove away the fog; there was light every-
    where. Black rock shone bright as blood;
The stream and the deep-throated waves of the ocean glittered with
    crimson lightnings, and the low cloud
Gaped like a lion's mouth, swallowing the flights of flame and the 
    soul of a man. It is thus (and will be) that violence
Turns on itself, and builds on the wreck of violence its violent
    beauty, the spiring fire-fountain
And final peace: grim in the desert in the lion's carcass the hive
    of honey. But Alcmena Hungerfield
Hating both life and death fled from the place. She lived two years
    yet, Death remembering her son, and died
As others do.

                      Here is the poem, dearest; you will never read it nor
    hear it. You were more beautiful
Than a hawk flying; you were faithful and a lion heart like this
    rough hero Hungerfield. But the ashes have fallen
And the flame has gone up; nothing human remains. You are earth
    and air; you are in the beauty of the ocean
And the great streaming triumphs of sundown; you are alive and
    well in the tender young grass rejoicing
When soft rain falls all night, and little rosy-fleeced clouds float
    on the dawn. --- I shall be with you presently.