Patrick Regan has kindly shared the material from his Robert Buchanan site with readers of the Victorian Web, who may wish to consult the original.

                     I. The Tigress

A dream I had in the dead of night:
       Darkness - the Jungle - a black Man sleeping -
       Head on his arm, with the moon-dew creeping
Over his face in a silvern light:
The Moon was driving, the Wind was crying;
       Two great lights gleam'd, round, horrid, and red,
       Two great eyes, steadfast beside the bed
Where the Man was lying.
                     Hark! hark!
              What wild things cry in the dark?
              Only the Wind as it raves,
              Only the Beasts in their caves,
              Where the Jungle waves.

The man slept on, and his face was bright,
       Tender and strange, for the man was dreaming —
       Coldly the light on his limbs was gleaming,
On his jet-black limbs and their folds of white; —
Leprous-spotted, and gaunt, and hated,
       With teeth protruding and hideous head,
       Her two eyes burning so still, so red,
The Tigress waited.
                     Hark! hark!
              The wild things cry in the dark;
              The Wind whistles and raves,
              The Beasts groan in their caves,
              And the Jungle waves.

From cloud to cloud the cold Moon crept,
       The silver light kept coming and going -
       The Jungle under was bleakly blowing.
The Tigress watch'd, and the black Man slept.
The Wind was wailing, the Moon was gleaming:
       He stirr'd and shiver'd, then raised his head; —
       Like a thunderbolt the Tigress sped,
And the Man fell screaming —
                     Hark! hark!
              The wild things cry in the dark;
              The wild Wind whistles and raves,
              The Beasts groan in their caves,
              And the Jungle waves.

                     II. Ratcliffe Meg

Then methought I saw another sight:
       Darkness — a Garret — a rushlight dying —
       On the broken-down bed a Sailor lying,
Sleeping fast in the feeble light; —
The Wind is wailing, the Rain is weeping,
       She croucheth there in the chamber dim,
       She croucheth there with her eyes on him
As he lieth sleeping —
                     Hark! hark!
              Who cries outside in the dark?
              Only the Wind on its way,
              Only the wild gusts astray.
              In Tiger Bay.

Still as a child the Sailor lies; —
       She waits — she watches — is she human?
       Is she a Tigress? is she a Woman?
Look at the gleam of her deep-set eyes
Bloated and stain'd in every feature,
       With iron jaws, throat knotted and bare,
       Eyes deep sunken, jet black hair,
Crouches the creature.
                     Hark! hark!
              Who cries outside in the dark?
              Only the Wind on its way,
              Only the wild gusts astray,
              In Tiger Bay.

Hold her! scream! or the man is dead;
       A knife in her tight-clench'd hand is gleaming;
       She will kill the man as he lieth dreaming!
Her eyes are fixed, her throat swells red.
The Wind is wailing, the Rain is weeping;
       She is crawling closer — O Angels that love him!
       She holds her breath and bends above him,
While he stirreth sleeping.
                     Hark! hark!
              Who cries outside in the dark?
              Only the Wind on its way,
              Only the wild gusts astray
              In Tiger Bay.

A silken purse doth the sleeper clutch,
       And the gold peeps through with a fatal glimmer!
       She creepeth near — the light grows dimmer —
Her thick throat swells and she thirsts to touch.
She looks — she pants with a feverish hunger —
       She dashes the black hair out of her eyes —
       She glares at his face . . . he smiles and sighs —
And the face looks younger.
                     Hark! hark!
              Who cries outside in the dark?
              Only the Wind on its way,
              Only the wild gusts astray
              In Tiger Bay.

She gazeth on — he doth not stir —
       Her fierce eyes close, her brute lip quivers;
       She longs to strike, but she shrinks and shivers:
The light on his face appalleth her.
The Wind is wailing, the Rain is weeping;
       Something holds her — her wild eyes roll;
       His Soul shines out, and she fears his Soul,
Tho' he lieth sleeping.
                     Hark! hark!
              Who cries outside in the dark?
              Only the Wind on its way,
              Only the wild gusts astray
              In Tiger Bay.

                      III. Intercession

I saw no more, but I woke, — and prayed:
       'God! that made the Beast and the Woman!
       God of the Tigress! God of the human!
Look to these things whom Thou hast made!
Fierce and bloody and famine-stricken,
       Knitted with iron vein and thew —
       Strong and bloody, behold the two! —
We see them and sicken.
                     Mark! mark!
              These outcasts fierce of the dark;
              Where murmur the Wind and the Rain,
              Where the Jungle darkens the plain,
              And in street and lane.'

God answer'd clear, 'My will be done!
       Woman-tigress and tigress-woman —
       I made them both, the beast and the human,
But I struck a spark in the brain of the one.
And the spark is a fire, and the fire is a spirit;
       Tho' ye may slay it, it cannot die —
       Nay, it shall grow as the days go by,
For my Angels are near it —
                     Mark! mark!
              Doth it not burn in the dark?
              Spite of the curse and the stain,
              Where the Jungle darkens the plain,
              And in street and lane.'

God said, moreover: 'The spark shall grow —
       'Tis blest, it gathers, its flame shall lighten,
       Bless it and nurse it — let it brighten!
'Tis scatter'd abroad, 'tis a Seed I sow.
And the Seed is a Soul, and the Soul is the Human;
       And it lighteth the face with a sign and a flame.
       Not unto beasts have I given the same,
But to man and to woman.
                     Mark! mark!
              The light shall scatter the dark:
              Where murmur the Wind and the Rain,
              Where the Jungle darkens the plain,
              And in street and lane.'

. . . So faint, so dim, so sad to seeing,
       Behold it burning! Only a spark!
       So faint as yet, and so dim to mark,
In the tigress-eyes of the human being.
Fan it, feed it, in love and duty,
       Track it, watch it in every place —
       Till it burns the bestial frame and face
To its own dim beauty.
                     Mark! mark!
              A spark that grows in the dark;
              A spark that burns in the brain;
              Spite of the Wind and the Rain,
              Spite of the Curse and the Stain;
              Over the Sea and the Plain,
              And in street and lane.

(From London Poems, 1866-70)


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Last modified 26 September 2002