XXXIHell Gate Onward led the road againThrough the sad uncoloured plainUnder twilight brooding dim,And along the utmost rimWall and rampart risen to sightCast a shadow not of night,And beyond them seemed to glowBonfires lighted long ago.And my dark conductor brokeSilence at my side and spoke,Saying, „You conjecture well:Yonder is the gate of hell.” Ill as yet the eye could seeThe eternal masonry,But beneath it on the darkTo and fro there stirred a spark.And again the sombre guideKnew my question, and replied:„At hell gate the damned in turnPace for sentinel and burn.” Dully at the leaden skyStaring, and with idle eyeMeasuring the listless plain,I began to think again.Many things I thought of then,Battle, and the loves of men,Cities entered, oceans crossed,Knowledge gained and virtue lost,Cureless folly done and said,And the lovely way that 1edTo the slimepit and the mireAnd the everlasting fire.And against a smoulder dunAnd a dawn without a sunDid the nearing bastion loom,And across the gate of gloomStill one saw the sentry go,Trim and burning, to and fro,One for women to admireIn his finery of fire.Something, as I watched him pace,Minded me of time and place,Soldiers of another corpsAnd a sentry known before. Ever darker hell on highReared its strength upon the sky,And our footfall on the trackFetched the daunting echo back.But the soldier pacing stillThe insuperable sill,Nursing his tormented pride,Turned his head to neither side,Sunk into himself apartAnd the hell-fire of his heart.But against our entering inFrom the drawbridge Death and SinRose to render key and swordTo their father and their lord.And the portress foul to seeLifted up her eyes on meSmiling, and I made reply:„Met again, my lass,” said I.Then the sentry turned his head,Looked, and knew me, and was Ned. Once he looked, and halted straight,Set his back against the gate,Caught his musket to his chin,While the hive of hell withinSent abroad a seething humAs of towns whose king is comeLeading conquest home from farAnd the captives of his war,And the car of triumph waits,And they open wide the gates.But across the entry barredStraddled the revolted guard,Weaponed and accoutred wellFrom the arsenals of hell;And beside him, sick and white,Sin to left and Death to rightTurned a countenance of fearOn the flaming mutineer.Over us the darkness bowed,And the anger in the cloudClenched the lightning for the stroke;But the traitor musket spoke. And the hollowness of hellSounded as its master fell,And the mourning echo rolledRuin through his kingdom old.Tyranny and terror flownLeft a pair of friends alone,And beneath the nether skyAll that stirred was he and I. Silent, nothing found to say,We began the backward way;And the ebbing lustre diedFrom the soldier at my side,As in all his spruce attireFailed the everlasting fire.Midmost of the homeward trackOnce we listened and looked back;But the city, dusk and mute,Slept, and there was no pursuit.