106424670743375977

Cabell Does Kipling!

James Branch Cabell is probably one of the more cynical authors ever to spring from American soil, and as a woman I find that “all women are one woman” thing realllllly annoying. (Just as annoying as “all men are like that”, actually.) But he was also funny and smart, and did write some really good stuff. (And he’s one of the great fantasy writers, too.) Here’s a piece I found today, courtesy of Project Gutenberg. He has quite a few works available online, so check ‘em out.

Ballad of the Double-Soul


by James Branch Cabell, from The Certain Hour

“Les Dieux, qui trop aiment ses faceties cruelles”
— Paul Verville.

In the beginning the Gods made man,
and fashioned the sky and the sea,
And the earth’s fair face for man’s dwelling-place,
and this was the Gods’ decree:–

“Lo, We have given to man five wits:
he discerneth folly and sin;
He is swift to deride all the world outside,
and blind to the world within:

“So that man may make sport and amuse Us,
in battling for phrases or pelf,
Now that each may know what forebodeth woe
to his neighbor, and not to himself.”

Yet some have the Gods forgotten,
–or is it that subtler mirth
The Gods extort of a certain sort
of folk that cumber the earth?

For this is the song of the double-soul,
distortedly two in one,–
Of the wearied eyes that still behold
the fruit ere the seed be sown,
And derive affright for the nearing night
from the light of the noontide sun.

For one that with hope in the morning
set forth, and knew never a fear,
They have linked with another whom omens bother;
and he whispers in one’s ear.

And one is fain to be climbing
where only angels have trod,
But is fettered and tied to another’s side
who fears that it might look odd.

And one would worship a woman
whom all perfections dower,
But the other smiles at transparent wiles;
and he quotes from Schopenhauer.

Thus two by two we wrangle
and blunder about the earth,
And that body we share we may not spare;
but the Gods have need of mirth.

So this is the song of the double-soul,
distortedly two in one.–
Of the wearied eyes that still behold
the fruit ere the seed be sown,
And derive affright for the nearing night
from the light of the noontide sun.


About these ads

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s