The Palm and the Pine

WHEN Peter led the First Crusade,
A Norseman wooed an Arab maid.

He loved her lithe and palmy grace,
And the dark beauty of her face :

She loved his cheeks, so ruddy fair,
His sunny eyes and yellow hair.

He called : she left her father’s tent ;
She followed whereso’ er he went.

She left the palms of Palestine
To sit beneath the Norland pine.

She sang the musky Orient strains
Where Winter swept the snowy plains.

Their natures met like night and morn
What time the morning-star is born.

The child that from their meeting grew
Hung, like that star, between the two.

The glossy night his mother shed
From her long hair was on his head :

But in its shade they saw arise
The morning of his father’s eyes.

Beneath the Orient’s tawny stain
Wandered the Norseman’s crimson vein :

Beneath the Northern force was seen
The Arab sense, alert and keen.

His were the Viking’s sinewy hands,
The arching foot of Eastern lands.

And in his soul conflicting strove
Northern indifference, Southern love ;

The chastity of temperate blood,
Impetuous passion’s fiery flood ;

The settled faith that nothing shakes,
The jealousy a breath awakes ;

The planning Reason's sober gaze,
And Fancy’s meteoric blaze.

And stronger, as he grew to man,
The contradicting natures ran,—

As mingled streams from Etna flow,
One born of fire, and one of snow.

And one impelled, and one withheld,
And one obeyed, and one rebelled.

One gave him force, the other fire ;
This self-control, and that desire.

One filled his heart with fierce unrest;
With peace serene the other blessed.

He knew the depth and knew the height,
The bounds of darkness and of light ;

And who these far extremes has seen
Must needs know all that lies between.

So, with untaught, instinctive art,
He read the myriad-natured heart.

He met the men of many a land;
They gave their souls into his hand ;

And none of them was long unknown :
The hardest lesson was his own.

But how he lived, and where, and when,
It matters not to other men ;

For, as a fountain disappears,
To gush again in later years,

So natures lost again may rise
After the lapse of centuries,—

May track the hidden course of blood
Through many a generation’s flood,

Till, on some unsuspected field,
The latent lineage is revealed.

The hearts that met-in Palestine,
And mingled ’neath the Norland pine,
Still beat with double pulse in mine.