Bacchus And Ariadne

The moist and quiet morn was scarcely breaking.
When Ariadne in her bower was waking;
Her eyelids still were closing, and she heard
But indistinctly yet a little bird.
That in the leaves o'erhead, waiting the sun.
Seemed answering another distant one.
She wakes, but stirred not, only just to please
Her pillow-nestling cheek; while the full seas.
* * * * *
Her senses lingering in the feel of sleep;
And with a little smile she seemed to say,
'I know my love is near me, and 'tis day.'
At length, not feeling the accustomed arm.
That from all sense of fancied want and harm
Used to enclose her, when she turned that way.
She stretched her hand to feel where Theseus lay.

But how? Not there? She starts with a small cry,
And feels the empty space, and runs her eye
O'er all the bower, and stretches from the bed
One hasty foot, and listens with wild head.
No sight—no voice: she tries to smile, heart-sick.
And murmurs, 'Oh, 'tis but some hiding trick;
He sees me through the boughs:' and so she rose.
And, like a wood-nymph, through the glimmering goes.
And for a while delays to call his name,
Pretending she should spoil his amorous game;
But stops at last, her throat full-pulsed with fears.
And calls convulsively with bursting tears;
Then calls again; and then in the open air
Rushes, and fiercely calls. He is not there.

The faithless bark, far off, leaning away.
And now with gleaming sail, and now with dim.
Hastening to slip o'er the horizon's brim.
'Tis gone; and as a dead thing, down falls she.
In the great eye of morn, then breaking quietly. (lines 41–45)

Some say that Theseus took this selfish flight
From common causes — a cloyed appetite;
Others, that having brought her sister there
As well, he turned his easy love to her;
And others, who are sure to quote Heaven's orders 50
For great men's crimes, though not for small disorders.
Pretend that Bacchus in the true old way,
A dream, advised him sternly not to stay.
But go and cut up nations limb by limb.
And leave the lady and the bower to him.
One tiling looks certain,—that the chief that day
Was not alone a skulking runaway.
But left the woman that believed his smile
To all the horrors of a desert isle. (lines 41–59)

'Oh, Theseus, Theseus!' then awhile she stopped,
And turned, and in her hand her poor face dropped,
Shaking her head, and cried, 'How could you go.
And leave me here to die, that loved you so!
I would not have left you, even for mirth.
Not in the best and safest place on earth;
Nor, had you been never so false a one, 90
Denied you this poor breast to lean upon;
Much less for loving too confidingly;
And yet, for nothing worse, have you left me;
Left me—left Ariadne, sleeping too
Fast by your side; and yet for you, for you,
She left her father, country, home, and all. (lines 84–96)

Suddenly from a wood his dancers rush.
Leaping like wines that from the bottle gush;
Bounding they come, and twirl, and thrust on high
Their thyrsuses, as they would rouse the sky;
And hurry here and there, in loosened bands,
And trill above their heads their cymballed hands:
Some, brawny males, that almost show from far
Their forceful arms, cloudy and muscular;
Some, smoother females, who have nevertheless
Strong limbs, and hands, to fling with and to press;
And shapes, which they can bend with heavenward glare.
And tortuous wrists, and backward streaming hair.
A troop of goat-foot shapes came trampling after. (lines 161–173)

Bacchus took in his arms his bridal lass.
And gave and shared as much more happiness
Than Theseus, as a noble spirit's caress.
Full of sincerity, and mind, and heart.
Out-relishes mere fire and self-embittering art. (lines 339–343)

The grateful god took off from his love's hair
Her fervid crown; and with a leap i' the air,
As when a quoiter springs to his firm eye.
Whirled it in buzzing swiftness to the sky.
Starry already, and with heat within,
It fired as it flew up with that fierce spin.
And opening into grandeur, round and even.
Shook its immortal sparkles out of heaven.
* * * * *
The easy wear of inward gracefulness.
Beneath this star, this star, where'er she be.
Sits the accomplished female womanly:
Part of its light is round about her hair;
And should her gentle cheek be wet with care,
The tears shall be kissed off, as Ariadne's were.

Robin Hood, A Child.

It was the pleasant season yet,
When the stones at cottage doors
Dry quickly, while the roads are wet,
After the silver showers.

The green leaves they looked greener still,
And the thrush, renewing his tune,
Shook a loud note from his gladsome bill
Into the bright blue noon.

Robin Hood's mother looked out, and said
"It were a shame and a sin
For fear of getting a wet head
To keep such a day within,
Nor welcome up from his sick bed
Your uncle Gamelyn."

And Robin leaped, and thought so too;
And so he has grasped her gown,
And now looking back, they have lost the view
Of merry sweet Locksley town.

Robin was a gentle boy,
And therewithal as bold;
To say he was his mother's joy,
It were a phrase too cold.

His hair upon his thoughtful brow
Came smoothly clipped, and sleek,
But ran into a curl somehow
Beside his merrier cheek.

Great love to him his uncle too
The noble Gamelyn bare,
And often said, as his mother knew,
That he should be his heir.

Gamelyn's eyes, now getting dim,
Would twinkle at his sight,
And his ruddy wrinkles laugh at him
Between his locks so white:

For Robin already let him see
He should beat his playmates all
At wrestling, running, and archery,
Yet he cared not for a fall.

Merriest he was of merry boys,
And would set the old helmets bobbing;
If his uncle asked about the noise,
'Twas "If you please, Sir, Robin."

And yet if the old man wished no noise,
He'd come and sit at his knee,
And be the gravest of grave-eyed boys;
And not a word spoke he.

So whenever he and his mother came
To brave old Gamelyn Hall,
'Twas nothing there but sport and game,
And holiday folks all:
The servants never were to blame,
Though they let the physic fall.

And now the travellers turn the road,
And now they hear the rooks;
And there it is, — the old abode,
With all its hearty looks.

Robin laughed, and the lady too,
And they looked at one another;
Says Robin, "I'll knock, as I'm used to do,
At uncle's window, mother."

And so he pick'd up some pebbles and ran,
And jumping higher and higher,
He reach'd the windows with tan a ran tan,
And instead of the kind old white-haired man,
There looked out a fat friar.

"How now," said the fat friar angrily,
"What is this knocking so wild?"
But when he saw young Robin's eye,
He said "Go round, my child.

"Go round to the hall, and I'll tell you all."
"He'll tell us all!" thought Robin;
And his mother and he went quietly,
Though her heart was set a throbbing.

The friar stood in the inner door,
And tenderly said, "I fear
You know not the good squire's no more,
Even Gamelyn de Vere.

"Gamelyn de Vere is dead,
He changed but yesternight:"
"Now make us way," the lady said,
"To see that doleful sight."

"Good Gamelyn de Vere is dead,
And has made us his holy heirs:"
The lady stayed not for all he said,
But went weeping up the stairs.

Robin and she went hand in hand,
Weeping all the way,
Until they came where the lord of that land
Dumb in his cold bed lay.

His hand she took, and saw his dead look,
With the lids over each eye-ball;
And Robin and she wept as plenteously,
As though he had left them all.

"I will return, Sir Abbot of Vere,
I will return as is meet,
And see my honoured brother dear
Laid in his winding sheet.

And I will stay, for to go were a sin,
For all a woman's tears,
And see the noble Gamelyn
Laid low with the De Veres."

The lady went with a sick heart out
Into the kind fresh air,
And told her Robin all about
The abbot whom he saw there:

And how his uncle must have been
Disturbed in his failing sense,
To leave his wealth to these artful men,
At her's and Robin's expense.

Sad was the stately day for all
But the Vere Abbey friars,
When the coffin was stript of its hiding pall,
Amidst the hushing choirs.

Sad was the earth-dropping "dust to dust,"
And "our brother here departed;"
The lady shook at them, as shake we must,
And Robin he felt strange-hearted.

That self-same evening, nevertheless,
They returned to Locksley town,
The lady in a dumb distress,
And Robin looking down.

They went, and went, and Robin took
Long steps by his mother's side,
Till she asked him with a sad sweet look
What made him so thoughtful-eyed.

"I was thinking, mother," said little Robin,
And with his own voice so true
He spoke right out, "That if I was a king,
I'd see what those friars do."

His mother stooped with a tear of joy,
And she kissed him again and again,
And said, "My own little Robin boy,
Thou wilt be a King of Men!"