The Book of the Homeless/The Troubler of Telaro



Warm vines bloom now along thy rampart steeps
Thy shelves of olives, undercliffs of azure.
And like a lizard of the red rock sleeps
The wrinkled Tuscan sea, panting for pleasure.
Nets, too, festooned about thine elfin port,
Telaro, in the Etrurian mountain's side,
Heavings of golden luggers scarce distort
The image of thy belfry where they ride.
But thee, Telaro, on a night long gone
That grey and holy tower upon the mole
Suddenly summoned, while yet lightnings shone
And hard gale lingered, with a ceaseless toll
That choked, with its disastrous monotone,
All the narrow channels of the hamlet's soul.


For what despair, fire, shipwreck, treachery?
Was it for threat that from the macchia sprang
For Genoa's feud, the oppressor's piracy.
Or the Falcon of Sarzana that it rang?
Was the boat-guild's silver plundered? Blood should pay.
Hardwon the footing of the fishers' clan
The sea-cloud-watchers.—Loud above the spray
The maddening iron cry, the appeal of man.
Washed through the torchless midnight on and on.
Are not enough the jeopardies of day?
Riot arose—fear's Self began the fray:

But the tower proved empty. By the lightning's ray
They found no human ringer in the room. . . .
The bell-rope quivered out in the sea-spume. . . .


A creature fierce, soft, witless of itself,
A morbid mouth, circled by writhing arms.
By its own grasp entangled on that shelf.
Had dragged the rope and spread the death-alarms;
Insensitive, light-forgotten, up from slime,
From shelter betwixt rocks, issuing for prey
Disguised, had used man's language of dismay.
The spawn of perished times had late in time
Emerged, and griefs upon man's grief imposed

But the fishers closed
The blind mouth, and cut off the suckers cold.
Two thousand fathoms the disturber rolled
From trough to trough into the gulf Tyrrhene;
And fear sank with it back into its night obscene.