An Everywhere Of Silver
An everywhere of silver,
With ropes of sand
To keep it from effacing
The track called land.
by Emily Dickinson.
As Everywhere Of Silver
As Everywhere of Silver
With Ropes of Sand
To keep it from effacing
The Track called Land.
by Emily Dickinson.
The Silver Swan, Who Living Had No Note
The silver swan, who living had no note,
When death approach'd, unlock'd her silent throat;
Leaning her breast against the reedy shore,
Thus sung her first and last, and sung no more.
Farewell, all joys; O Death, come close mine eyes;
More geese than swans now live, more fools than wise.
by Orlando Gibbons.
Lines In A Letter To His Lady Cousin, Honor Driden, Who Had Given Him A Silver Inkstand, With A Set Of Writing Materials, 1655
For since 'twas mine, the white hath lost its hue,
To show 'twas ne'er it self but whilst in you,
The virgin wax hath blushed it self to red
Since it with me hath lost its maidenhead.
You, fairest nymph, are wax: O, may you be
As well in softness as in purity!
Till fate and your own happy choice reveal
Whom you shall so far bless to make your seal.
by John Dryden.
The Spider Holds A Silver Ball
The spider holds a Silver Ball
In unperceived Hands--
And dancing softly to Himself
His Yarn of Pearl--unwinds--
He plies from Nought to Nought--
In unsubstantial Trade--
Supplants our Tapestries with His--
In half the period--
An Hour to rear supreme
His Continents of Light--
Then dangle from the Housewife's Broom--
by Emily Dickinson.
Inscription For My Little Son's Silver Plate
When thou dost eat from off this plate,
I charge thee be thou temperate;
Unto thine elders at the board
Do thou sweet reverence accord;
And, though to dignity inclined,
Unto the serving-folk be kind;
Be ever mindful of the poor,
Nor turn them hungry from the door;
And unto God, for health and food
And all that in thy life is good,
Give thou thy heart in gratitude.
by Eugene Field.
The icicles wreathing
On trees in festoon
Swing, swayed to our breathing:
They're made of the moon.
She's a pale, waxen taper;
And these seem to drip
Transparent as paper
From the flame of her tip.
Molten, smoking a little,
Into crystal they pass;
Falling, freezing, to brittle
And delicate glass.
Each a sharp-pointed flower,
Each a brief stalactite
Which hangs for an hour
In the blue cave of night.
Sonnet: As From The Darkening Gloom A Silver Dove
As from the darkening gloom a silver dove
Upsoars, and darts into the eastern light,
On pinions that nought moves but pure delight,
So fled thy soul into the realms above,
Regions of peace and everlasting love;
Where happy spirits, crown'd with circlets bright
Of starry beam, and gloriously bedight,
Taste the high joy none but the blest can prove.
There thou or joinest the immortal quire
In melodies that even heaven fair
Fill with superior bliss, or, at desire,
Of the omnipotent Father, cleav'st the air
On holy message sent -- What pleasure's higher?
Wherefore does any grief our joy impair?
by John Keats.
O Silver Rose
THE dark hour turns so slowly and so sweet,
The last still hour soft-fallen from the stars.
To-morrow I may kneel and touch thy feet,
O Rose of all Shiraz.
Lay wide thine amorous lattice to the south,
O Silver Rose, when roses breathe thy name,
And thou at dawn shalt feel upon thy mouth
The kiss I dared not claim.
Discrowned, dishonoured, reft of pride and power,
From the red battle where they hailed me lord,
O Silver Rose, O sweet Pomegranate Flower,
I turn me to their sword.
Life hath so held me to an empty part,
Life hath so snared me, bound and made me blind.
To-morrow I may rest upon thy heart,
For death shall prove more kind.
The Return To Nature.
(I) PROMETHEUS 1-
IT was the south : mid-everything,
Mid-land, mid-summer, noon ;
And deep within a limpid spring
The mirrored sun of June.
Splendour in freshness ! Ah, who stole
This sun, this fire, from heaven?
He holds it shining in his soul,
Prometheus the forgiven.
In her bright title poets dare
What the wild eye of fancy sees --
Similitude -- the clear, the fair
Light mystery of images.
Round the blue sea I love the best
The argent foam played, slender, fleet ;
I saw -- past Wordsworth and the rest --
Her natural, Greek, and silver feet.
by Alice Meynell.
The Lost Piece Of Silver
HOLY Lord Jesus, Thou wilt search till Thou find
This lost piece of silver,--this treasure enshrined
In casket or bosom, once of such store;
Now lying under the dust of Thy floor.
Gentle Lord Jesus, Thou wilt move through the room--
So empty--so desolate! and light up its gloom:
The lost piece of silver that no man can see,
Merciful Jesus! is beheld clear by Thee.
Defaced and degraded, trampled in the dust,
Its superscription Thou knowest still we trust:
And Thou wilt uplift it and make it re-shine,
For it was silver--pure silver of Thine.
Loving Lord Jesus, Thou wilt come through the dark,
When men are all sleeping and no eye can mark.
Though 'clean forgotten, like a dead man out of mind,'
This lost piece of silver Thou wilt search for--and find.
I Heard Youth's Silver Clarion Call To Fate,
I heard youth's silver clarion call to Fate,
And looking forth beheld his flower-fair face,
Framed in his shining helmet as he sat
Sheathed in white armour, full of fearless grace,
Watching the coming of a threat'ning cloud,
Hueless and shapeless, that with stealthy pace
Was creeping towards him. 'O dear youth, beware!'
But answer made he none save laugh'd aloud.
'Beware,' I cried, 'it hides some hideous snare.'
At it he made—and vanished in the shroud,
Whence there broke forth, O Christ! so sharp a cry
Of dire defeat and mortal agony,
That all my blood ran back in every vein;
And when th' accursed blackness roll'd away,
Prone in the dust my lovely warrior lay,
Defiled, not dead; sore wounded—shamed—not slain;
His shining armour smirched with many a stain,
Filthy and foul, ne'er to be bright again.
The Silver Jubilee
To James First Bishop of Shrewsbury on the 25th Year of his Episcopate July 28. 1876
Though no high-hung bells or din
Of braggart bugles cry it in—
What is sound? Nature’s round
Makes the Silver Jubilee.
Five and twenty years have run
Since sacred fountains to the sun
Sprang, that but now were shut,
Showering Silver Jubilee.
Feasts, when we shall fall asleep,
Shrewsbury may see others keep;
None but you this her true,
This her Silver Jubilee.
Not today we need lament
Your wealth of life is some way spent:
Toil has shed round your head
Silver but for Jubilee.
Then for her whose velvet vales
Should have pealed with welcome, Wales,
Let the chime of a rhyme
Utter Silver Jubilee.
Down among the strawberries,
Up among the plums,
Cheeping in the cherry-tree
When early autumn comes,
In our silver spectacles
And sober olive suits.
We're very, very innocent;
We wouldn't touch your fruits.
Well, maybe just a speckled one,
A windfall here and there.
But raid your precious strawberries?
Oh no, we wouldn't dare.
Behold our bland astonishment,
The charge is quite absurd!
It must have been a parrot
Or some other kind of bird.
It must have been a satin bird;
It must have been a crow.
It couldn't possibly be us;
We are so meek, you know,
With our silver spectacles.
The accusation's vile!
How can you deem us guilty
When we're whistling all the while?
Well, if you've caught us in the act
There's no more to be said.
The plums are blue and succulent,
The strawberries are red.
And who'd refuse a dainty dish
When early autumn comes?
Oh, write a rhyme about us, man,
And pay for all your plums.
The Moon In Silver Glory Shone
The moon in silver glory shone,
And not a cloud in sight;
When suddenly a shade begun
To intercept her light.
How fast across her orb it spread,
How fast her light withdrew!
A circle, tinged with languid red,
Was all appeared in view.
While many with unmeaning eye
Gaze on thy works in vain;
Assist me, Lord, that I may try
Instruction to obtain.
Fain would my thankful heart and lips
Unite in praise to thee;
And meditate on thy eclipse,
In sad Gethsemane.
Thy peoples guilt, a heavy load!
When standing in their room
Deprived thee of the light of God,
And filled thy soul with gloom.
How punctually eclipses move,
Obedient to thy will!
Thus shall thy faithfulness and love,
Thy promises fulfill.
Dark, like the moon without the sun,
I mourn thine absence, Lord!
For light or comfort I have none,
But what thy beams afford.
But lo! the hour draws near apace,
When changes shall be o'er;
Then I shall see thee face to face,
And be eclipsed no more.
by John Newton.
The Silver Horn
"Come, rest with me now, my silver horn!
My melodious joy, my silver horn!
These many long years my constant friend,
Together let our toiling end.
Yet fain would I ask (were mine the choice)
For a moment of strength to give thee voice--
One silvery peal ere life shall cease;
But not for war--for blessed peace."
Yes! once again ring, sweet silver horn
That long ago rang on battle morn--
From vale and glen that summon'd then
To arms! to arms! a thousand men.
For peace ring now! for peace ring high!
Ring a welcoming peal that shall not die
Till mountain and mound, the earth around,
Responsive songs in echo sound.
"Thy whispers I hear, my silver horn!
My melodious joy, my silver horn!
They comfort me oft with such control,
Methinks thou hast a living soul.
Then cherish we both one calm content;
For the land that we love our powers were spent;
And o're the turf that greens our grave,
For ages may her banner wave."
"I kiss thee adieu, my silver horn!
My melodious joy, my silver horn!"
Then suddenly loos'd the bugler's clasp;
His kiss was but a dying gasp.
Yet marvels of power can love evoke:
At the touch of his lips the bugle spoke!
And wondrously sweet, and clear, and strong,
From thence outrang a silver song.
by Henry Clay Work.
The Silver Locks
Tho' youth may boast the curls that flow,
In sunny waves of auburn glow;
As graceful on thy hoary head,
Has time the robe of honor spread,
And there, oh ! softly, softly shed,
His wreath of snow!
As frost-work on the trees display'd,
When weeping Flora leaves the shade,
E'en more than Flora, charms the sight;
E'en so thy locks, of purest white,
Survive, in age's frost-work bright,
Youth's vernal rose decay'd!
To grace the nymph, whose tresses play
Light on the sportive breeze of May,
Let other bards the garland twine,
Where sweets of ev'ry hue combine;
Those locks rever'd, that silvery shine,
Invite my lay!
Less white the summer-cloud sublime,
Less white the winter's fringing rime;
Nor do Belinda's lovelier seem,
'A poet's blest, immortal theme',
Than thine, which wear the moonlight-beam,
Of rev'rend time!
Long may the graceful honors smile,
Like moss on some declining pile;
Oh! much rever'd! may filial care,
Around thee, duteous, long repair,
Thy joys with tender bliss to share,
Thy pains beguile!
Long, long, ye snowy ringlets, wave,
Long, long, your much-lov'd beauty save!
May bliss your latest ev'ning crown,
Disarm life's winter of its frown,
And soft, ye hoary hairs, go down,
In gladness to the grave!
And, as the parting beams of day,
On mountain-snows reflected play;
And tints of roseate lustre shed;
Thus, on the snow that crowns thy head,
May joy, with ev'ning planet, shed
His mildest ray!
Recollection Of The Arabian Nights
WHEN the breeze of a joyful dawn blew free
In the silken sail of infancy,
The tide of time flow'd back with me,
The forward-flowing tide of time;
And many a sheeny summer-morn,
Adown the Tigris I was borne,
By Bagdat's shrines of fretted gold,
High-walled gardens green and old;
True Mussulman was I and sworn,
For it was in the golden prime
Of good Haroun Alraschid.
Anight my shallop, rustling thro'
The low and bloomed foliage, drove
The fragrant, glistening deeps, and clove
The citron-shadows in the blue:
By garden porches on the brim,
The costly doors flung open wide,
Gold glittering thro' lamplight dim,
And broider'd sofas on each side:
In sooth it was a goodly time,
For it was in the golden prime
Of good Haroun Alraschid.
Often where clear-stemm'd platans guard
The outlet, did I turn away
The boat-head down a broad canal
From the main river sluiced, where all
The sloping of the moon-lit sward
Was damask-work, and deep inlay
Of braided blooms unmown, which crept
Adown to where the water slept.
A goodly place, a goodly time,
For it was in the golden prime
Of good Haroun Alraschid.
A motion from the river won
Ridged the smooth level, bearing on
My shallop thro' the star-strown calm,
Until another night in night
I enter'd, from the clearer light,
Imbower'd vaults of pillar'd palm,
Imprisoning sweets, which, as they clomb
Heavenward, were stay'd beneath the dome
Of hollow boughs.--A goodly time,
For it was in the golden prime
Of good Haroun Alraschid.
Still onward; and the clear canal
Is rounded to as clear a lake.
From the green rivage many a fall
Of diamond rillets musical,
Thro' little crystal arches low
Down from the central fountain's flow
Fall'n silver-chiming, seemed to shake
The sparkling flints beneath the prow.
A goodly place, a goodly time,
For it was in the golden prime
Of good Haroun Alraschid.
Above thro' many a bowery turn
A walk with vary-colour'd shells
Wander'd engrain'd. On either side
All round about the fragrant marge
From fluted vase, and brazen urn
In order, eastern flowers large,
Some dropping low their crimson bells
Half-closed, and others studded wide
With disks and tiars, fed the time
With odour in the golden prime
Of good Haroun Alraschid.
Far off, and where the lemon grove
In closest coverture upsprung,
The living airs of middle night
Died round the bulbul as he sung;
Not he: but something which possess'd
The darkness of the world, delight,
Life, anguish, death, immortal love,
Ceasing not, mingled, unrepress'd,
Apart from place, withholding time,
But flattering the golden prime
Of good Haroun Alraschid.
Black the garden-bowers and grots
Slumber'd: the solemn palms were ranged
Above, unwoo'd of summer wind:
A sudden splendour from behind
Flush'd all the leaves with rich gold-green,
And, flowing rapidly between
Their interspaces, counterchanged
The level lake with diamond-plots
Of dark and bright. A lovely time,
For it was in the golden prime
Of good Haroun Alraschid.
Dark-blue the deep sphere overhead,
Distinct with vivid stars inlaid,
Grew darker from that under-flame:
So, leaping lightly from the boat,
With silver anchor left afloat,
In marvel whence that glory came
Upon me, as in sleep I sank
In cool soft turf upon the bank,
Entranced with that place and time,
So worthy of the golden prime
Of good Haroun Alraschid.
Thence thro' the garden I was drawn--
A realm of pleasance, many a mound,
And many a shadow-chequer'd lawn
Full of the city's stilly sound,
And deep myrrh-thickets blowing round
The stately cedar, tamarisks,
Thick rosaries of scented thorn,
Tall orient shrubs, and obelisks
Graven with emblems of the time,
In honour of the golden prime
Of good Haroun Alraschid.
With dazed vision unawares
From the long alley's latticed shade
Emerged, I came upon the great
Pavilion of the Caliphat.
Right to the carven cedarn doors,
Flung inward over spangled floors,
Broad-based flights of marble stairs
Ran up with golden balustrade,
After the fashion of the time,
And humour of the golden prime
Of good Haroun Alraschid.
The fourscore windows all alight
As with the quintessence of flame,
A million tapers flaring bright
From twisted silvers look'd to shame
The hollow-vaulted dark, and stream'd
Upon the mooned domes aloof
In inmost Bagdat, till there seem'd
Hundreds of crescents on the roof
Of night new-risen, that marvellous time
To celebrate the golden prime
Of good Haroun Alraschid.
Then stole I up, and trancedly
Gazed on the Persian girl alone,
Serene with argent-lidded eyes
Amorous, and lashes like to rays
Of darkness, and a brow of pearl
Tressed with redolent ebony,
In many a dark delicious curl,
Flowing beneath her rose-hued zone;
The sweetest lady of the time,
Well worthy of the golden prime
Of good Haroun Alraschid.
Six columns, three on either side,
Pure silver, underpropt a rich
Throne of the massive ore, from which
Down-droop'd, in many a floating fold,
Engarlanded and diaper'd
With inwrought flowers, a cloth of gold.
Thereon, his deep eye laughter-stirr'd
With merriment of kingly pride,
Sole star of all that place and time,
I saw him--in his golden prime,
The good Haroun Alraschid.
A Vision of the Mermaids
Rowing, I reach'd a rock - the sea was low -
Which the tides cover in their overflow,
Marking the spot, when they have gurgled o'er,
With a thin floating veil of water hoar.
A mile astern lay the blue shores away;
And it was at the setting of the day.
Plum-purple was the west; but spikes of light
Spear'd open lustrous gashes, crimson-white;
(Where the eye fix'd, fled the encrimsoning spot,
And, gathering, floated where the gaze was not;)
And through their parting lids there came and went
Keen glimpses of the inner firmament:
Fair beds they seem'd of water-lily flakes
Clustering entrancingly in beryl lakes:
Anon, across their swimming splendour strook,
An intense line of throbbing blood-light shook
A quivering pennon; then, for eye too keen,
Ebb'd back beneath its snowy lids, unseen.
Now all things rosy turn'd: the west had grown
To an orb'd rose, which, by hot pantings blown
Apart, betwixt ten thousand petall'd lips
By interchange gasp'd splendour and eclipse.
The zenith melted to a rose of air;
The waves were rosy-lipp'd; the crimson glare
Shower'd the cliffs and every fret and spire
With garnet wreathes and blooms of rosy-budded fire.
Then, looking on the waters, I was ware
Of something drifting through delighted air,
- An isle of roses, - and another near; -
And more, on each hand, thicken, and appear
In shoals of bloom; as in unpeopled skies,
Save by two stars, more crowding lights arise,
And planets bud where'er we turn our mazèd eyes.
I gazed unhinder'd: Mermaids six or seven,
Ris'n from the deeps to gaze on sun and heaven,
Cluster'd in troops and halo'd by the light,
Those Cyclads made that thicken'd on my sight.
This was their manner: one translucent crest
Of tremulous film, more subtle than the vest
Of dewy gorse blurr'd with the gossamer fine,
From crown to tail-fin floating, fringed the spine,
Droop'd o'er the brows like Hector's casque, and sway'd
In silken undulations, spurr'd and ray'd
With spikèd quills all of intensest hue;
And was as tho' some sapphire molten-blue
Were vein'd and streak'd with dusk-deep lazuli,
Or tender pinks with bloody Tyrian dye.
From their white waists a silver skirt was spread
To mantle o'er the tail, such as is shed
Around the Water-Nymphs in fretted falls,
At red Pompeii on medallion'd walls.
A tinted fin on either shoulder hung:
Their pansy-dark or bronzen locks were strung
With coral, shells, thick-pearlèd cords, whate'er
The abysmal Ocean hoards of strange and rare.
Some trail'd the Nautilus: or on the swell
Tugg'd the boss'd, smooth-lipp'd, giant Strombus-shell.
Some carried the sea-fan; some round the head
With lace of rosy weed were chapleted;
One bound o'er dripping gold a turquoise-gemm'd
Circle of astral flowerets - diadem'd
Like an Assyrian prince, with buds unsheath'd
From flesh-flowers of the rock; but more were wreath'd
With the dainty-delicate fretted fringe of fingers
Of that jacinthine thing, that, where it lingers
Broiders the nets with fans of amethyst
And silver films, beneath with pearly mist,
The Glaucus cleped; others small braids encluster'd
Of glassy-clear Aeolis, metal-lustred
With growths of myriad feelers, crystalline
To show the crimson streams that inward shine,
Which, lightening o'er the body rosy-pale,
Like shiver'd rubies' dance or sheen of sapphire frail.
Then saw I sudden from the waters break
Far off a Nereid company, and shake
From wings swan-fledged a wheel of watery light
Flickering with sunny spokes, and left and right
Plunge orb'd in rainbow arcs, and trample and tread
The satin-purfled smooth to foam, and spread
Slim-pointed sea-gull plumes, and droop behind
One scarlet feather trailing to the wind;
Then, like a flock of sea-fowl mounting higher,
Thro' crimson-golden floods pass swallow'd into fire.
Soon - as when Summer of his sister Spring
Crushes and tears the rare enjewelling,
And boasting "I have fairer things than these"
Plashes amidst the billowy apple-trees
His lusty hands, in gusts of scented wind
Swirling out bloom till all the air is blind
With rosy foam and pelting blossom and mists
Of driving vermeil-rain; and, as he lists,
The dainty onyx-coronals deflowers,
A glorious wanton; - all the wrecks in showers
Crowd down upon a stream, and, jostling thick
With bubbles bugle-eyed, struggle and stick
On tangled shoals that bar the brook - a crowd
Of filmy globes and rosy floating cloud:
So those Mermaidens crowded to my rock,
And thicken'd, like that drifted bloom, the flock
Sun-flush'd, until it seem'd their father Sea
Had gotten him a wreath of sweet Spring-broidery.
Careless of me they sported: some would plash
The languent smooth with dimpling drops, and flash
Their filmy tails adown whose length there show'd
An azure ridge; or clouds of violet glow'd
On prankèd scale; or threads of carmine, shot
Thro' with silver, gloom'd to a blood-vivid clot.
Some, diving merrily, downward drove, and gleam'd
With arm and fin; the argent bubbles stream'd
Airwards, disturb'd; and the scarce troubled sea
Gurgled, where they had sunk, melodiously.
Others with fingers white would comb among
The drenchèd hair of slabby weeds that swung
Swimming, and languish'd green upon the deep
Down that dank rock o'er which their lush long tresses weep.
But most in a half-circle watch'd the sun;
And a sweet sadness dwelt on everyone;
I knew not why, - but know that sadness dwells
On Mermaids - whether that they ring the knells
Of seamen whelm'd in chasms of the mid-main,
As poets sing; or that it is a pain
To know the dusk depths of the ponderous sea,
The miles profound of solid green, and be
With loath'd cold fishes, far from man - or what; -
I know the sadness but the cause know not.
Then they, thus ranged, ‘gan make full plaintively
A piteous Siren sweetness on the sea,
Withouten instrument, or conch, or bell,
Or stretch'd cords tunable on turtle's shell;
Only with utterance of sweet breath they sung
An antique chaunt and in an unknown tongue.
Now melting upward through the sloping scale
Swell'd the sweet strain to a melodious wail;
Now ringing clarion-clear to whence it rose
Slumber'd at last in one sweet, deep, heart-breaking close.
But when the sun had lapsed to Ocean, lo
A stealthy wind crept round seeking to blow,
Linger'd, then raised the washing waves and drench'd
The floating blooms and with tide flowing quench'd
The rosy isles: so that I stole away
And gain'd thro' growing dusk the stirless bay;
White loom'd my rock, the water gurgling o'er,
Whence oft I watch but see those Mermaids now no more.
To A Child
Dear child! how radiant on thy mother's knee,
With merry-making eyes and jocund smiles,
Thou gazest at the painted tiles,
Whose figures grace,
With many a grotesque form and face.
The ancient chimney of thy nursery!
The lady with the gay macaw,
The dancing girl, the grave bashaw
With bearded lip and chin;
And, leaning idly o'er his gate,
Beneath the imperial fan of state,
The Chinese mandarin.
With what a look of proud command
Thou shakest in thy little hand
The coral rattle with its silver bells,
Making a merry tune!
Thousands of years in Indian seas
That coral grew, by slow degrees,
Until some deadly and wild monsoon
Dashed it on Coromandel's sand!
Those silver bells
Reposed of yore,
As shapeless ore,
Far down in the deep-sunken wells
Of darksome mines,
In some obscure and sunless place,
Beneath huge Chimborazo's base,
Or Potosi's o'erhanging pines
And thus for thee, O little child,
Through many a danger and escape,
The tall ships passed the stormy cape;
For thee in foreign lands remote,
Beneath a burning, tropic clime,
The Indian peasant, chasing the wild goat,
Himself as swift and wild,
In falling, clutched the frail arbute,
The fibres of whose shallow root,
Uplifted from the soil, betrayed
The silver veins beneath it laid,
The buried treasures of the miser, Time.
But, lo! thy door is left ajar!
Thou hearest footsteps from afar!
And, at the sound,
Thou turnest round
With quick and questioning eyes,
Like one, who, in a foreign land,
Beholds on every hand
Some source of wonder and surprise!
And, restlessly, impatiently,
Thou strivest, strugglest, to be free,
The four walls of thy nursery
Are now like prison walls to thee.
No more thy mother's smiles,
No more the painted tiles,
Delight thee, nor the playthings on the floor,
That won thy little, beating heart before;
Thou strugglest for the open door.
Through these once solitary halls
Thy pattering footstep falls.
The sound of thy merry voice
Makes the old walls
Jubilant, and they rejoice
With the joy of thy young heart,
O'er the light of whose gladness
No shadows of sadness
From the sombre background of memory start.
Once, ah, once, within these walls,
One whom memory oft recalls,
The Father of his Country, dwelt.
And yonder meadows broad and damp
The fires of the besieging camp
Encircled with a burning belt.
Up and down these echoing stairs,
Heavy with the weight of cares,
Sounded his majestic tread;
Yes, within this very room
Sat he in those hours of gloom,
Weary both in heart and head.
But what are these grave thoughts to thee?
Out, out! into the open air!
Thy only dream is liberty,
Thou carest little how or where.
I see thee eager at thy play,
Now shouting to the apples on the tree,
With cheeks as round and red as they;
And now among the yellow stalks,
Among the flowering shrubs and plants,
As restless as the bee.
Along the garden walks,
The tracks of thy small carriage-wheels I trace;
And see at every turn how they efface
Whole villages of sand-roofed tents,
That rise like golden domes
Above the cavernous and secret homes
Of wandering and nomadic tribes of ants.
Ah, cruel little Tamerlane,
Who, with thy dreadful reign,
Dost persecute and overwhelm
These hapless Troglodytes of thy realm!
What! tired already! with those suppliant looks,
And voice more beautiful than a poet's books,
Or murmuring sound of water as it flows.
Thou comest back to parley with repose;
This rustic seat in the old apple-tree,
With its o'erhanging golden canopy
Of leaves illuminate with autumnal hues,
And shining with the argent light of dews,
Shall for a season be our place of rest.
Beneath us, like an oriole's pendent nest,
From which the laughing birds have taken wing,
By thee abandoned, hangs thy vacant swing.
Dream-like the waters of the river gleam;
A sailless vessel drops adown the stream,
And like it, to a sea as wide and deep,
Thou driftest gently down the tides of sleep.
O child! O new-born denizen
Of life's great city! on thy head
The glory of the morn is shed,
Like a celestial benison!
Here at the portal thou dost stand,
And with thy little hand
Thou openest the mysterious gate
Into the future's undiscovered land.
I see its valves expand,
As at the touch of Fate!
Into those realms of love and hate,
Into that darkness blank and drear,
By some prophetic feeling taught,
I launch the bold, adventurous thought,
Freighted with hope and fear;
As upon subterranean streams,
In caverns unexplored and dark,
Men sometimes launch a fragile bark,
Laden with flickering fire,
And watch its swift-receding beams,
Until at length they disappear,
And in the distant dark expire.
By what astrology of fear or hope
Dare I to cast thy horoscope!
Like the new moon thy life appears;
A little strip of silver light,
And widening outward into night
The shadowy disk of future years;
And yet upon its outer rim,
A luminous circle, faint and dim,
And scarcely visible to us here,
Rounds and completes the perfect sphere;
A prophecy and intimation,
A pale and feeble adumbration,
Of the great world of light, that lies
Behind all human destinies.
Ah! if thy fate, with anguish fraught,
Should be to wet the dusty soil
With the hot tears and sweat of toil,--
To struggle with imperious thought,
Until the overburdened brain,
Weary with labor, faint with pain,
Like a jarred pendulum, retain
Only its motion, not its power,--
Remember, in that perilous hour,
When most afflicted and oppressed,
From labor there shall come forth rest.
And if a more auspicious fate
On thy advancing steps await
Still let it ever be thy pride
To linger by the laborer's side;
With words of sympathy or song
To cheer the dreary march along
Of the great army of the poor,
O'er desert sand, o'er dangerous moor.
Nor to thyself the task shall be
Without reward; for thou shalt learn
The wisdom early to discern
True beauty in utility;
As great Pythagoras of yore,
Standing beside the blacksmith's door,
And hearing the hammers, as they smote
The anvils with a different note,
Stole from the varying tones, that hung
Vibrant on every iron tongue,
The secret of the sounding wire.
And formed the seven-chorded lyre.
Enough! I will not play the Seer;
I will no longer strive to ope
The mystic volume, where appear
The herald Hope, forerunning Fear,
And Fear, the pursuivant of Hope.
Thy destiny remains untold;
For, like Acestes' shaft of old,
The swift thought kindles as it flies,
And burns to ashes in the skies.
Towns In Colour
Red slippers in a shop-window, and outside in the street, flaws of grey,
Behind the polished glass, the slippers hang in long threads of red,
festooning from the ceiling like stalactites of blood, flooding the eyes
of passers-by with dripping colour, jamming their crimson reflections
against the windows of cabs and tram-cars, screaming their claret and salmon
into the teeth of the sleet, plopping their little round maroon lights
upon the tops of umbrellas.
The row of white, sparkling shop fronts is gashed and bleeding,
it bleeds red slippers. They spout under the electric light,
fluid and fluctuating, a hot rain - and freeze again to red slippers,
myriadly multiplied in the mirror side of the window.
They balance upon arched insteps like springing bridges of crimson lacquer;
they swing up over curved heels like whirling tanagers sucked
in a wind-pocket; they flatten out, heelless, like July ponds,
flared and burnished by red rockets.
Snap, snap, they are cracker-sparks of scarlet in the white, monotonous
block of shops.
They plunge the clangour of billions of vermilion trumpets
into the crowd outside, and echo in faint rose over the pavement.
People hurry by, for these are only shoes, and in a window, farther down,
is a big lotus bud of cardboard whose petals open every few minutes
and reveal a wax doll, with staring bead eyes and flaxen hair,
lolling awkwardly in its flower chair.
One has often seen shoes, but whoever saw a cardboard lotus bud before?
The flaws of grey, windy sleet beat on the shop-window where there are only
Thompson's Lunch Room - Grand Central Station
Study in Whites
Floor, ceiling, walls.
Over the pavement
Polished to cream surfaces
By constant sweeping.
The big room is coloured like the petals
Of a great magnolia,
And has a patina
Of flower bloom
Which makes it shine dimly
Under the electric lamps.
Chairs are ranged in rows
Like sepia seeds
The chalk-white spot of a cook's cap
Moves unglossily against the vaguely bright wall -
Dull chalk-white striking the retina like a blow
Through the wavering uncertainty of steam.
Vitreous-white of glasses with green reflections,
Ice-green carboys, shifting - greener, bluer - with the jar of moving water.
Jagged green-white bowls of pressed glass
Rearing snow-peaks of chipped sugar
Above the lighthouse-shaped castors
Of grey pepper and grey-white salt.
Grey-white placards: 'Oyster Stew, Cornbeef Hash, Frankfurters':
Marble slabs veined with words in meandering lines.
Dropping on the white counter like horn notes
Through a web of violins,
The flat yellow lights of oranges,
The cube-red splashes of apples,
In high plated `epergnes'.
The electric clock jerks every half-minute:
'Coming! - Past!'
'Three beef-steaks and a chicken-pie,'
Bawled through a slide while the clock jerks heavily.
A man carries a china mug of coffee to a distant chair.
Two rice puddings and a salmon salad
Are pushed over the counter;
The unfulfilled chairs open to receive them.
A spoon falls upon the floor with the impact of metal striking stone,
And the sound throws across the room
Sharp, invisible zigzags
An Opera House
Within the gold square of the proscenium arch,
A curtain of orange velvet hangs in stiff folds,
Its tassels jarring slightly when someone crosses the stage behind.
Gold carving edges the balconies,
Rims the boxes,
Runs up and down fluted pillars.
Little knife-stabs of gold
Shine out whenever a box door is opened.
Flash in soft explosions
On the blue darkness,
Suck back to a point,
Hoops of gold
Circle necks, wrists, fingers,
Poise on heads
And fly up above them in coloured sparkles.
The opera house is a treasure-box of gold.
Gold in a broad smear across the orchestra pit:
Gold of horns, trumpets, tubas;
Gold - spun-gold, twittering-gold, snapping-gold
The conductor raises his baton,
The brass blares out
Parvenu, fat, powerful,
Rich as the fat, clapping hands in the boxes.
Cymbals, gigantic, coin-shaped,
The orange curtain parts
And the prima-donna steps forward.
A drop: transparent, iridescent,
A gold bubble,
It floats . . . floats . . .
And bursts against the lips of a bank president
In the grand tier.
Afternoon Rain in State Street
Cross-hatchings of rain against grey walls,
Slant lines of black rain
In front of the up and down, wet stone sides of buildings.
Greasy, shiny, black, horizontal,
And over it, umbrellas,
Black polished dots
Struck to white
Stream in two flat lines
Slipping past each other with the smoothness of oil.
Like a four-sided wedge
The Custom House Tower
Pokes at the low, flat sky,
Pushing it farther and farther up,
Lifting it away from the house-tops,
Lifting it in one piece as though it were a sheet of tin,
With the lever of its apex.
The cross-hatchings of rain cut the Tower obliquely,
Scratching lines of black wire across it,
Mutilating its perpendicular grey surface
With the sharp precision of tools.
The city is rigid with straight lines and angles,
A chequered table of blacks and greys.
Oblong blocks of flatness
Crawl by with low-geared engines,
And pass to short upright squares
Shrinking with distance.
A steamer in the basin blows its whistle,
And the sound shoots across the rain hatchings,
A narrow, level bar of steel.
Hard cubes of lemon
Superimpose themselves upon the fronts of buildings
As the windows light up.
But the lemon cubes are edged with angles
Upon which they cannot impinge.
Up, straight, down, straight - square.
Crumpled grey-white papers
Blow along the side-walks,
A horse steps in a puddle,
And white, glaring water spurts up
In stiff, outflaring lines,
Like the rattling stems of reeds.
The city is heraldic with angles,
A sombre escutcheon of argent and sable
And countercoloured bends of rain
Hung over a four-square civilization.
When a street lamp comes out,
I gaze at it for fully thirty seconds
To rest my brain with the suffusing, round brilliance of its globe.
Streaks of green and yellow iridescence,
Rings veering out of rings,
Silver - gold -
Grey-green opaqueness sliding down,
With sharp white bubbles
Shooting and dancing,
Flinging quickly outward.
Nosing the bubbles,
Blue shadows against silver-saffron water,
The light rippling over them
In steel-bright tremors.
Outspread translucent fins
Flute, fold, and relapse;
The threaded light prints through them on the pebbles
In scarcely tarnished twinklings.
Curving of spotted spines,
Then a sudden swift straightening
And darting below:
Oblique grey shadows
Athwart a pale casement.
Roped and curled,
Green man-eating eels
Slumber in undulate rhythms,
With crests laid horizontal on their backs.
Uneven disks of fish,
Slip, slide, whirl, turn,
And never touch.
Metallic blue fish,
With fins wide and yellow and swaying
Like Oriental fans,
Hold the sun in their bellies
And glow with light:
Blue brilliance cut by black bars.
An oblong pane of straw-coloured shimmer,
Across it, in a tangent,
A smear of rose, black, silver.
Short twists and upstartings,
Rose-black, in a setting of bubbles:
Sunshine playing between red and black flowers
On a blue and gold lawn.
Shadows and polished surfaces,
Facets of mauve and purple,
A constant modulation of values.
With green bead eyes;
Swift spots of chrysolite and coral;
In the midst of green, pearl, amethyst irradiations.
A willow-tree flickers
With little white jerks,
And long blue waves
Rise steadily beyond the outer islands.
by Amy Lowell.
NAY, let us walk from fire unto fire,
From passionate pain to deadlier delight,--
I am too young to live without desire,
Too young art thou to waste this summer night
Asking those idle questions which of old
Man sought of seer and oracle, and no reply was told.
For, sweet, to feel is better than to know,
And wisdom is a childless heritage,
One pulse of passion--youth's first fiery glow,--
Are worth the hoarded proverbs of the sage:
Vex not thy soul with dead philosophy,
Have we not lips to kiss with, hearts to love, and eyes to see!
Dost thou not hear the murmuring nightingale
Like water bubbling from a silver jar,
So soft she sings the envious moon is pale,
That high in heaven she is hung so far
She cannot hear that love-enraptured tune,--
Mark how she wreathes each horn with mist, yon late and labouring
White lilies, in whose cups the gold bees dream,
The fallen snow of petals where the breeze
Scatters the chestnut blossom, or the gleam
Of boyish limbs in water,--are not these
Enough for thee, dost thou desire more?
Alas! the Gods will give nought else from their eternal store.
For our high Gods have sick and wearied grown
Of all our endless sins, our vain endeavour
For wasted days of youth to make atone
By pain or prayer or priest, and never, never,
Hearken they now to either good or ill,
But send their rain upon the just and the unjust at will.
They sit at ease, our Gods they sit at ease,
Strewing with leaves of rose their scented wine,
They sleep, they sleep, beneath the rocking trees
Where asphodel and yellow lotus twine,
Mourning the old glad days before they knew
What evil things the heart of man could dream, and dreaming do.
And far beneath the brazen floor they see
Like swarming flies the crowd of little men,
The bustle of small lives, then wearily
Back to their lotus-haunts they turn again
Kissing each other's mouths, and mix more deep
The poppy-seeded draught which brings soft purple-lidded sleep.
There all day long the golden-vestured sun,
Their torch-bearer, stands with his torch a-blaze,
And when the gaudy web of noon is spun
By its twelve maidens through the crimson haze
Fresh from Endymion's arms comes forth the moon,
And the immortal Gods in toils of mortal passions swoon.
There walks Queen Juno through some dewy mead
Her grand white feet flecked with the saffron dust
Of wind-stirred lilies, while young Ganymede
Leaps in the hot and amber-foaming must,
His curls all tossed, as when the eagle bare
The frightened boy from Ida through the blue Ionian air.
There in the green heart of some garden close
Queen Venus with the shepherd at her side,
Her warm soft body like the briar rose
Which would be white yet blushes at its pride,
Laughs low for love, till jealous Salmacis
Peers through the myrtle-leaves and sighs for pain of lonely
There never does that dreary north-wind blow
Which leaves our English forests bleak and bare,
Nor ever falls the swift white-feathered snow,
Nor doth the red-toothed lightning ever dare
To wake them in the silver-fretted night
When we lie weeping for some sweet sad sin, some dead delight.
Alas! they know the far Lethæan spring,
The violet-hidden waters well they know,
Where one whose feet with tired wandering
Are faint and broken may take heart and go,
And from those dark depths cool and crystalline
Drink, and draw balm, and sleep for sleepless souls, and anodyne.
But we oppress our natures, God or Fate
Is our enemy, we starve and feed
On vain repentance--O we are born too late!
What balm for us in bruisèd poppy seed
Who crowd into one finite pulse of time
The joy of infinite love and the fierce pain of infinite crime.
O we are wearied of this sense of guilt,
Wearied of pleasure's paramour despair,
Wearied of every temple we have built,
Wearied of every right, unanswered prayer,
For man is weak; God sleeps: and heaven is high:
One fiery-coloured moment: one great love; and lo! we die.
Ah! but no ferry-man with labouring pole
Nears his black shallop to the flowerless strand,
No little coin of bronze can bring the soul
Over Death's river to the sunless land,
Victim and wine and vow are all in vain,
The tomb is sealed; the soldiers watch; the dead rise not again.
We are resolved into the supreme air,
We are made one with what we touch and see,
With our heart's blood each crimson sun is fair,
With our young lives each spring-impassioned tree
Flames into green, the wildest beasts that range
The moor our kinsmen are, all life is one, and all is change.
With beat of systole and of diastole
One grand great life throbs through earth's giant heart,
And mighty waves of single Being roll
From nerve-less germ to man, for we are part
Of every rock and bird and beast and hill,
One with the things that prey on us, and one with what we kill.
From lower cells of waking life we pass
To full perfection; thus the world grows old:
We who are godlike now were once a mass
Of quivering purple flecked with bars of gold,
Unsentient or of joy or misery,
And tossed in terrible tangles of some wild and wind-swept sea.
This hot hard flame with which our bodies burn
Will make some meadow blaze with daffodil,
Ay! and those argent breasts of thine will turn
To water-lilies; the brown fields men till
Will be more fruitful for our love to-night,
Nothing is lost in nature, all things live in Death's despite.
The boy's first kiss, the hyacinth's first bell,
The man's last passion, and the last red spear
That from the lily leaps, the asphodel
Which will not let its blossoms blow for fear
Of too much beauty, and the timid shame
Of the young bride-groom at his lover's eyes,--these with the
One sacrament are consecrate, the earth
Not we alone hath passions hymeneal,
The yellow buttercups that shake for mirth
At daybreak know a pleasure not less real
Than we do, when in some fresh-blossoming wood
We draw the spring into our hearts, and feel that life is good.
So when men bury us beneath the yew
Thy crimson-stainèd mouth a rose will be,
And thy soft eyes lush bluebells dimmed with dew,
And when the white narcissus wantonly
Kisses the wind its playmate, some faint joy
Will thrill our dust, and we will be again fond maid and boy.
And thus without life's conscious torturing pain
In some sweet flower we will feel the sun,
And from the linnet's throat will sing again,
And as two gorgeous-mailèd snakes will run
Over our graves, or as two tigers creep
Through the hot jungle where the yellow-eyed huge lions sleep
And give them battle! How my heart leaps up
To think of that grand living after death
In beast and bird and flower, when this cup,
Being filled too full of spirit, bursts for breath,
And with the pale leaves of some autumn day
The soul earth's earliest conqueror becomes earth's last great prey.
O think of it! We shall inform ourselves
Into all sensuous life, the goat-foot Faun,
The Centaur, or the merry bright-eyed Elves
That leave their dancing rings to spite the dawn
Upon the meadows, shall not be more near
Than you and I to nature's mysteries, for we shall hear
The thrush's heart beat, and the daisies grow,
And the wan snowdrop sighing for the sun
On sunless days in winter, we shall know
By whom the silver gossamer is spun,
Who paints the diapered fritillaries,
On what wide wings from shivering pine to pine the eagle flies.
Ay! had we never loved at all, who knows
If yonder daffodil had lured the bee
Into its gilded womb, or any rose
Had hung with crimson lamps its little tree!
Methinks no leaf would ever bud in spring,
But for the lovers' lips that kiss, the poets' lips that sing.
Is the light vanished from our golden sun,
Or is this dædal-fashioned earth less fair,
That we are nature's heritors, and one
With every pulse of life that beats the air?
Rather new suns across the sky shall pass,
New splendour come unto the flower, new glory to the grass.
And we two lovers shall not sit afar,
Critics of nature, but the joyous sea
Shall be our raiment, and the bearded star
Shoot arrows at our pleasure! We shall be
Part of the mighty universal whole,
And through all æons mix and mingle with the Kosmic Soul!
We shall be notes in that great Symphony
Whose cadence circles through the rhythmic spheres,
And all the live World's throbbing heart shall be
One with our heart, the stealthy creeping years
Have lost their terrors now, we shall not die,
The Universe itself shall be our Immortality!
by Oscar Wilde.
A March Voluntary (Wind And Cloud)
Winds that cavern heaven and the clouds
And canyon with cerulean blue,
Great rifts down which the stormy sunlight crowds
Like some bright seraph, who,
Mailed in intensity of silver mail,
Flashes his splendor over hill and vale,
Now tramp, tremendous, the loud forest through:
Or now, like mighty runners in a race,
That swing, long pace to pace,
Sweep 'round the hills, fresh as, at dawn's first start,
They swept, dew-dripping, from
The crystal-crimson ruby of her heart,
Shouting the dim world dumb.
And with their passage the gray and green
Of the earth 's washed clean;
And the cleansing breath of their might is wings
And warm aroma, we know as Spring's,
And sap and strength to her bourgeonings.
My brow I bare
To the cool, clean air,
That blows from the crests of the clouds that roll,
Pearl-piled and berged as floes of Northern Seas,
Banked gray and thunder-low
Big in the heaven's peace;
Clouds, borne from nowhere that we know,
With nowhere for their goal;
With here and there a silvery glow
Of sunlight chasming deeps of sombre snow,
Great gulfs that overflow
With sky, a sapphire-blue,
Or opal, sapphire-kissed,
Wide-welled and deep and swiftly rifting through
Stratas of streaming mist;
Each opening like a pool,
Set 'round with crag-like clouds 'mid which its eye gleams cool.
What blue is bluer than the bluebird's blue!
'T is as if heaven itself sat on its wings;
As if the sky in miniature it bore
The fields and forests through,
Bringing the very heaven to our door;
The daybreak of its back soft-wedded to
The sunset-auburn of its throat that sings.
The dithyrambics of the wind and rain
Strive to, but cannot, drown its strain:
Again, and yet again
I hear it where the maples tassel red,
And blossoms of the crab round out o'erhead,
And catkins make the willow-brake
A gossamer blur around the lake
That lately was a stream,
A little stream locked in its icy dream.
Invisible crystals of aerial ring,
Against the wind I hear the bluebird fling
Its notes; and where the oak's mauve leaves uncurl
I catch the skyey glitter of its wing;
Its wing that lures me, like some magic charm,
Far in the woods
And shadowy solitudes:
And where the purple hills stretch under purple and pearl
Of clouds that sweep and swirl,
Its music seems to take material form;
A form that beckons with cerulean arm
And bids me see and follow,
Where, in the violet hollow,
There at the wood's far turn,
On starry moss and fern,
She shimmers, glimmering like a rainbowed shower,
The Spirit of Spring,
Diaphanous-limbed, who stands
With honeysuckle hands
Sowing the earth with many a firstling flower,
Footed with fragrance of their blossoming,
And clad in heaven as is the bluebird's wing.
The tumult and the booming of the trees,
Shaken with shoutings of the winds of March
No mightier music have I heard than these,
The rocking and the rushing of the trees,
The organ-thunder of the forest's arch.
And in the wind their columned trunks become,
Each one, a mighty pendulum,
Swayed to and fro as if in time
To some vast song, some roaring rhyme,
Wind-shouted from sonorous hill to hill
The woods are never still:
The dead leaves frenzy by,
Innumerable and frantic as the dance
That whirled its madness once beneath the sky
In ancient Greece, like withered Corybants:
And I am caught and carried with their rush,
Their countless panic borne away,
A brother to the wind, through the deep gray
Of the old beech-wood, where the wild Marchday
Sits dreaming, filling all the boisterous hush
With murmurous laughter and swift smiles of sun;
Conspiring in its heart and plotting how
To load with leaves and blossoms every bough,
And whispering to itself, 'Now Spring's begun!
And soon her flowers shall golden through these leaves!
Away, ye sightless things and sere!
Make room for that which shall appear!
The glory and the gladness of the year;
The loveliness my eye alone perceives,
Still hidden there beneath the covering leaves,
My song shall waken! flowers, that this floor
Of whispering woodland soon shall carpet o'er
For my sweet sisters' feet to tread upon,
Months kinder than myself, the stern and strong,
Whose soul is full of wild, tumultuous song;
And whose rough hand now thrusts itself among
The dead leaves; groping for the flowers that lie
Huddled beneath, each like a sleep-closed eye:
Gold adder's-tongue and pink
Oxalis; snow-pale bloodroot blooms;
May-apple hoods, that parasol the brink,
Screening their moons, of the slim woodland stream:
And the wild iris; trillium, white as stars
And bluebells, dream on dream:
With harsh hand groping in the glooms,
I grasp their slenderness and shake
Their lovely eyes awake,
Dispelling from their souls the sleep that mars;
With heart-disturbing jars
Clasping their forms, and with rude finger-tips,
Through the dark rain that drips
Lifting them shrinking to my stormy lips,
'Already spicewood and the sassafras,
Like fragrant flames, begin
To tuft their boughs with topaz, ere they spin
Their beryl canopies a glimmering mass,
Mist-blurred, above the deepening grass.
Already where the old beech stands
Clutching the lean soil as it were with hands
Taloned and twisted, on its trunk a knot,
A huge excrescence, a great fungous clot,
Like some enormous and distorting wart,
My eyes can see how, blot on beautiful blot
Of blue, the violets blur through.
The musky and the loamy rot
Of leaf-pierced leaves; and, heaven in their hue,
The little bluets, crew on azure crew,
Prepare their myriads for invasion too.
'And in my soul I see how, soon, shall rise,
Still hidden to men's eyes,
Dim as the wind that 'round them treads,
Hosts of spring-beauties, streaked with rosy reds,
And pale anemones, whose airy heads,
As to some fairy rhyme,
All day shall nod in delicate time:
And now, even now, white peal on peal
Of pearly bells, that in bare boughs conceal
Themselves, like snowy music, chime on chime,
The huckleberries to my gaze reveal
Clusters, that soon shall toss
Above this green-starred moss,
That, like an emerald fire, gleams across
This forest-side, and from its moist deeps lifts
Slim, wire-like stems of seed;
Or, lichen-colored, glows with many a bead
Of cup-like blossoms: carpets where, I read,
When through the night's dark rifts
The moonlight's glimpsing splendor sifts,
The immaterial forms
With moonbeam-beckoning arms,
Of Fable and Romance,
Myths that are born of whispers of the wind
And foam of falling waters, music-twinned,
Shall lead the legendary dance;
The dance that never stops,
Of Earth's wild beauty on the green hill-tops.'
The youth, the beauty and disdain
Of birth, death does not know,
Compel my heart with longing like to pain
When the spring breezes blow,
The fragrance and the heat
Of their soft breath, whose musk makes sweet
Each woodland way, each wild retreat,
Seem saying in my ear, 'Hark, and behold!
Before a week be gone
This barren woodside and this leafless wold
A million flowers shall invade
With argent and azure, pearl and gold,
Like rainbow fragments scattered of the dawn,
Here making bright, here wan
Each foot of earth, each glen and glimmering glade,
Each rood of windy wood,
Where late gaunt Winter stood,
Shaggy with snow and howling at the sky;
Where even now the Springtime seems afraid
To whisper of the beauty she designs,
The flowery campaign that she now outlines
Within her soul; her heart's conspiracy
To take the world with loveliness; defy
And then o'erwhelm the Death that Winter throned
Amid the trees, with love that she hath owned
Since God informed her of His very breath,
Giving her right triumphant over Death.
Her heart's deep ecstasy shall swell,
Taking the form of flower, leaf, and blade,
Invading every dell,
And sweeping, surge on surge,
Around the world, like some exultant raid,
Even to the heaven's verge.
Soon shall her legions storm
Death's ramparts, planting Life's fair standard there,
The banner which her beauty hath in care,
Beauty, that shall eventuate
With all the pomp and pageant and the state,
That are apart of power, and that wait
On majesty, to which it, too, is heir.'
Already purplish pink and green
The bloodroot's buds and leaves are seen
Clumped in dim cirques; one from the other
Hardly distinguished in the shadowy smother
Of last year's leaves blown brown between.
And, piercing through the layers of dead leaves,
The searching eye perceives
The dog's-tooth violet, pointed needle-keen,
Lifting its beak of mottled green;
While near it heaves
The May-apple its umbrous spike, a ball,
Like to a round, green bean,
That folds its blossom, topping its tight-closed parasol:
The clustered bluebell near
Hollows its azure ear,
Low leaning to the earth as if to hear
The sound of its own growing and perfume
Flowing into its bloom:
And softly there
The twin-leaf's stems prepare
Pale tapers of transparent white,
As if to light
The Spirit of Beauty through the wood's green night.
Why does Nature love the number five?
Five-whorled leaves and five-tipped flowers?
Haply the bee that sucks i' the rose,
Laboring aye to store its hive,
And humming away the long noon hours,
Haply it knows as it comes and goes:
Or haply the butterfly,
Or moth of pansy-dye,
Flitting from bloom to bloom
In the forest's violet gloom,
It knows why:
Or the irised fly; to whom
Each bud, as it glitters near,
Lends eager and ardent ear.
And also tell
Why Nature loves so well
To prank her flowers in gold and blue.
Haply the dew,
That lies so close to them the whole night through,
Hugged to each honeyed heart,
Perhaps the dew the secret could impart:
Or haply now the bluebird there that bears,
God's sapphire on its wings,
O' the clean, clear sky,
The heav'n of which he sings,
Haply he, too, could tell me why:
Or the maple there that swings,
To the wind's soft sigh,
Its winglets, crystal red,
A rainy ruby twinkling overhead:
Or haply now the wind, that breathes of rain
Amid the rosy boughs, it could explain:
And even now, in words of mystery,
That haunt the heart of me,
Low-whispered, dim and bland,
Tells me, but tells in vain,
And strives to make me see and understand,
The feldspar fire of the violet breaks,
And the starred myrtle aches
With heavenly blue; and the frail windflower shakes
Its trembling tresses in the opal air.
The Ballad Of Boh Da Thone
This is the ballad of Boh Da Thone,
Erst a Pretender to Theebaw's throne,
Who harried the district of Alalone:
How he met with his fate and the V.P.P.*
At the hand of Harendra Mukerji,
Senior Gomashta, G.B.T.
* Value Payable Parcels Post: in which the Government collects the money
for the sender.
Boh Da Thone was a warrior bold:
His sword and his Snider were bossed with gold,
And the Peacock Banner his henchmen bore
Was stiff with bullion, but stiffer with gore.
He shot at the strong and he slashed at the weak
From the Salween scrub to the Chindwin teak:
He crucified noble, he sacrificed mean,
He filled old ladies with kerosene:
While over the water the papers cried,
"The patriot fights for his countryside!"
But little they cared for the Native Press,
The worn white soldiers in Khaki dress,
Who tramped through the jungle and camped in the byre,
Who died in the swamp and were tombed in the mire,
Who gave up their lives, at the Queen's Command,
For the Pride of their Race and the Peace of the Land.
Now, first of the foemen of Boh Da Thone
Was Captain O'Neil of the "Black Tyrone",
And his was a Company, seventy strong,
Who hustled that dissolute Chief along.
There were lads from Galway and Louth and Meath
Who went to their death with a joke in their teeth,
And worshipped with fluency, fervour, and zeal
The mud on the boot-heels of "Crook" O'Neil.
But ever a blight on their labours lay,
And ever their quarry would vanish away,
Till the sun-dried boys of the Black Tyrone
Took a brotherly interest in Boh Da Thone:
And, sooth, if pursuit in possession ends,
The Boh and his trackers were best of friends.
The word of a scout -- a march by night --
A rush through the mist -- a scattering fight --
A volley from cover -- a corpse in the clearing --
The glimpse of a loin-cloth and heavy jade earring --
The flare of a village -- the tally of slain --
And. . .the Boh was abroad "on the raid" again!
They cursed their luck, as the Irish will,
They gave him credit for cunning and skill,
They buried their dead, they bolted their beef,
And started anew on the track of the thief
Till, in place of the "Kalends of Greece", men said,
"When Crook and his darlings come back with the head."
They had hunted the Boh from the hills to the plain --
He doubled and broke for the hills again:
They had crippled his power for rapine and raid,
They had routed him out of his pet stockade,
And at last, they came, when the Day Star tired,
To a camp deserted -- a village fired.
A black cross blistered the Morning-gold,
And the body upon it was stark and cold.
The wind of the dawn went merrily past,
The high grass bowed her plumes to the blast.
And out of the grass, on a sudden, broke
A spirtle of fire, a whorl of smoke --
And Captain O'Neil of the Black Tyrone
Was blessed with a slug in the ulnar-bone --
The gift of his enemy Boh Da Thone.
(Now a slug that is hammered from telegraph-wire
Is a thorn in the flesh and a rankling fire.)
. . . . .
The shot-wound festered -- as shot-wounds may
In a steaming barrack at Mandalay.
The left arm throbbed, and the Captain swore,
"I'd like to be after the Boh once more!"
The fever held him -- the Captain said,
"I'd give a hundred to look at his head!"
The Hospital punkahs creaked and whirred,
But Babu Harendra (Gomashta) heard.
He thought of the cane-brake, green and dank,
That girdled his home by the Dacca tank.
He thought of his wife and his High School son,
He thought -- but abandoned the thought -- of a gun.
His sleep was broken by visions dread
Of a shining Boh with a silver head.
He kept his counsel and went his way,
And swindled the cartmen of half their pay.
. . . . .
And the months went on, as the worst must do,
And the Boh returned to the raid anew.
But the Captain had quitted the long-drawn strife,
And in far Simoorie had taken a wife.
And she was a damsel of delicate mould,
With hair like the sunshine and heart of gold,
And little she knew the arms that embraced
Had cloven a man from the brow to the waist:
And little she knew that the loving lips
Had ordered a quivering life's eclipse,
And the eye that lit at her lightest breath
Had glared unawed in the Gates of Death.
(For these be matters a man would hide,
As a general rule, from an innocent Bride.)
And little the Captain thought of the past,
And, of all men, Babu Harendra last.
. . . . .
But slow, in the sludge of the Kathun road,
The Government Bullock Train toted its load.
Speckless and spotless and shining with ~ghee~,
In the rearmost cart sat the Babu-jee.
And ever a phantom before him fled
Of a scowling Boh with a silver head.
Then the lead-cart stuck, though the coolies slaved,
And the cartmen flogged and the escort raved;
And out of the jungle, with yells and squeals,
Pranced Boh Da Thone, and his gang at his heels!
Then belching blunderbuss answered back
The Snider's snarl and the carbine's crack,
And the blithe revolver began to sing
To the blade that twanged on the locking-ring,
And the brown flesh blued where the bay'net kissed,
As the steel shot back with a wrench and a twist,
And the great white bullocks with onyx eyes
Watched the souls of the dead arise,
And over the smoke of the fusillade
The Peacock Banner staggered and swayed.
Oh, gayest of scrimmages man may see
Is a well-worked rush on the G.B.T.!
The Babu shook at the horrible sight,
And girded his ponderous loins for flight,
But Fate had ordained that the Boh should start
On a lone-hand raid of the rearmost cart,
And out of that cart, with a bellow of woe,
The Babu fell -- flat on the top of the Boh!
For years had Harendra served the State,
To the growth of his purse and the girth of his ~p]^et~.
There were twenty stone, as the tally-man knows,
On the broad of the chest of this best of Bohs.
And twenty stone from a height discharged
Are bad for a Boh with a spleen enlarged.
Oh, short was the struggle -- severe was the shock --
He dropped like a bullock -- he lay like a block;
And the Babu above him, convulsed with fear,
Heard the labouring life-breath hissed out in his ear.
And thus in a fashion undignified
The princely pest of the Chindwin died.
. . . . .
Turn now to Simoorie where, lapped in his ease,
The Captain is petting the Bride on his knees,
Where the ~whit~ of the bullet, the wounded man's scream
Are mixed as the mist of some devilish dream --
Forgotten, forgotten the sweat of the shambles
Where the hill-daisy blooms and the gray monkey gambols,
From the sword-belt set free and released from the steel,
The Peace of the Lord is with Captain O'Neil.
. . . . .
Up the hill to Simoorie -- most patient of drudges --
The bags on his shoulder, the mail-runner trudges.
"For Captain O'Neil, ~Sahib~. One hundred and ten
Rupees to collect on delivery."
(Their breakfast was stopped while the screw-jack and hammer
Tore waxcloth, split teak-wood, and chipped out the dammer;)
Open-eyed, open-mouthed, on the napery's snow,
With a crash and a thud, rolled -- the Head of the Boh!
And gummed to the scalp was a letter which ran: --
"IN FIELDING FORCE SERVICE.
"Dear Sir, -- I have honour to send, ~as you said~,
For final approval (see under) Boh's Head;
"Was took by myself in most bloody affair.
By High Education brought pressure to bear.
"Now violate Liberty, time being bad,
To mail V.P.P. (rupees hundred) Please add
"Whatever Your Honour can pass. Price of Blood
Much cheap at one hundred, and children want food;
"So trusting Your Honour will somewhat retain
True love and affection for Govt. Bullock Train,
"And show awful kindness to satisfy me,
. . . . .
As the rabbit is drawn to the rattlesnake's power,
As the smoker's eye fills at the opium hour,
As a horse reaches up to the manger above,
As the waiting ear yearns for the whisper of love,
From the arms of the Bride, iron-visaged and slow,
The Captain bent down to the Head of the Boh.
And e'en as he looked on the Thing where It lay
'Twixt the winking new spoons and the napkins' array,
The freed mind fled back to the long-ago days --
The hand-to-hand scuffle -- the smoke and the blaze --
The forced march at night and the quick rush at dawn --
The banjo at twilight, the burial ere morn --
The stench of the marshes -- the raw, piercing smell
When the overhand stabbing-cut silenced the yell --
The oaths of his Irish that surged when they stood
Where the black crosses hung o'er the Kuttamow flood.
As a derelict ship drifts away with the tide
The Captain went out on the Past from his Bride,
Back, back, through the springs to the chill of the year,
When he hunted the Boh from Maloon to Tsaleer.
As the shape of a corpse dimmers up through deep water,
In his eye lit the passionless passion of slaughter,
And men who had fought with O'Neil for the life
Had gazed on his face with less dread than his wife.
For she who had held him so long could not hold him --
Though a four-month Eternity should have controlled him --
But watched the twin Terror -- the head turned to head --
The scowling, scarred Black, and the flushed savage Red --
The spirit that changed from her knowing and flew to
Some grim hidden Past she had never a clue to.
But It knew as It grinned, for he touched it unfearing,
And muttered aloud, "So you kept that jade earring!"
Then nodded, and kindly, as friend nods to friend,
"Old man, you fought well, but you lost in the end."
. . . . .
The visions departed, and Shame followed Passion: --
"He took what I said in this horrible fashion,
"~I'll~ write to Harendra!" With language unsainted
The Captain came back to the Bride. . .who had fainted.
. . . . .
And this is a fiction? No. Go to Simoorie
And look at their baby, a twelve-month old Houri,
A pert little, Irish-eyed Kathleen Mavournin --
She's always about on the Mall of a mornin' --
And you'll see, if her right shoulder-strap is displaced,
This: ~Gules~ upon ~argent~, a Boh's Head, ~erased!~
by Rudyard Kipling.
In a dim corner of my room for longer than
my fancy thinks
A beautiful and silent Sphinx has watched me
through the shifting gloom.
Inviolate and immobile she does not rise she
does not stir
For silver moons are naught to her and naught
to her the suns that reel.
Red follows grey across the air, the waves of
moonlight ebb and flow
But with the Dawn she does not go and in the
night-time she is there.
Dawn follows Dawn and Nights grow old and
all the while this curious cat
Lies couching on the Chinese mat with eyes of
satin rimmed with gold.
Upon the mat she lies and leers and on the
tawny throat of her
Flutters the soft and silky fur or ripples to her
Come forth, my lovely seneschal! so somnolent,
Come forth you exquisite grotesque! half woman
and half animal!
Come forth my lovely languorous Sphinx! and
put your head upon my knee!
And let me stroke your throat and see your
body spotted like the Lynx!
And let me touch those curving claws of yellow
ivory and grasp
The tail that like a monstrous Asp coils round
your heavy velvet paws!
A thousand weary centuries are thine
while I have hardly seen
Some twenty summers cast their green for
Autumn's gaudy liveries.
But you can read the Hieroglyphs on the
great sandstone obelisks,
And you have talked with Basilisks, and you
have looked on Hippogriffs.
O tell me, were you standing by when Isis to
And did you watch the Egyptian melt her union
And drink the jewel-drunken wine and bend
her head in mimic awe
To see the huge proconsul draw the salted tunny
from the brine?
And did you mark the Cyprian kiss white Adon
on his catafalque?
And did you follow Amenalk, the God of
And did you talk with Thoth, and did you hear
the moon-horned Io weep?
And know the painted kings who sleep beneath
the wedge-shaped Pyramid?
Lift up your large black satin eyes which are
like cushions where one sinks!
Fawn at my feet, fantastic Sphinx! and sing me
all your memories!
Sing to me of the Jewish maid who wandered
with the Holy Child,
And how you led them through the wild, and
how they slept beneath your shade.
Sing to me of that odorous green eve when
crouching by the marge
You heard from Adrian's gilded barge the
laughter of Antinous
And lapped the stream and fed your drouth and
watched with hot and hungry stare
The ivory body of that rare young slave with
his pomegranate mouth!
Sing to me of the Labyrinth in which the twi-
formed bull was stalled!
Sing to me of the night you crawled across the
temple's granite plinth
When through the purple corridors the screaming
scarlet Ibis flew
In terror, and a horrid dew dripped from the
And the great torpid crocodile within the tank
shed slimy tears,
And tare the jewels from his ears and staggered
back into the Nile,
And the priests cursed you with shrill psalms as
in your claws you seized their snake
And crept away with it to slake your passion by
the shuddering palms.
Who were your lovers? who were they
who wrestled for you in the dust?
Which was the vessel of your Lust? What
Leman had you, every day?
Did giant Lizards come and crouch before you
on the reedy banks?
Did Gryphons with great metal flanks leap on
you in your trampled couch?
Did monstrous hippopotami come sidling toward
you in the mist?
Did gilt-scaled dragons writhe and twist with
passion as you passed them by?
And from the brick-built Lycian tomb what
horrible Chimera came
With fearful heads and fearful flame to breed
new wonders from your womb?
Or had you shameful secret quests and did
you harry to your home
Some Nereid coiled in amber foam with curious
rock crystal breasts?
Or did you treading through the froth call to
the brown Sidonian
For tidings of Leviathan, Leviathan or
Or did you when the sun was set climb up the
To meet your swarthy Ethiop whose body was
of polished jet?
Or did you while the earthen skiffs dropped
down the grey Nilotic flats
At twilight and the flickering bats flew round
the temple's triple glyphs
Steal to the border of the bar and swim across
the silent lake
And slink into the vault and make the Pyramid
Till from each black sarcophagus rose up the
painted swathed dead?
Or did you lure unto your bed the ivory-horned
Or did you love the god of flies who plagued
the Hebrews and was splashed
With wine unto the waist? or Pasht, who had
green beryls for her eyes?
Or that young god, the Tyrian, who was more
amorous than the dove
Of Ashtaroth? or did you love the god of the
Whose wings, like strange transparent talc, rose
high above his hawk-faced head,
Painted with silver and with red and ribbed with
rods of Oreichalch?
Or did huge Apis from his car leap down and
lay before your feet
Big blossoms of the honey-sweet and honey-
How subtle-secret is your smile! Did you
love none then? Nay, I know
Great Ammon was your bedfellow! He lay with
you beside the Nile!
The river-horses in the slime trumpeted when
they saw him come
Odorous with Syrian galbanum and smeared with
spikenard and with thyme.
He came along the river bank like some tall
He strode across the waters, mailed in beauty,
and the waters sank.
He strode across the desert sand: he reached
the valley where you lay:
He waited till the dawn of day: then touched
your black breasts with his hand.
You kissed his mouth with mouths of flame:
you made the horned god your own:
You stood behind him on his throne: you called
him by his secret name.
You whispered monstrous oracles into the
caverns of his ears:
With blood of goats and blood of steers you
taught him monstrous miracles.
White Ammon was your bedfellow! Your
chamber was the steaming Nile!
And with your curved archaic smile you watched
his passion come and go.
With Syrian oils his brows were bright:
and wide-spread as a tent at noon
His marble limbs made pale the moon and lent
the day a larger light.
His long hair was nine cubits' span and coloured
like that yellow gem
Which hidden in their garment's hem the
merchants bring from Kurdistan.
His face was as the must that lies upon a vat of
The seas could not insapphirine the perfect azure
of his eyes.
His thick soft throat was white as milk and
threaded with thin veins of blue:
And curious pearls like frozen dew were
broidered on his flowing silk.
On pearl and porphyry pedestalled he was
too bright to look upon:
For on his ivory breast there shone the wondrous
That mystic moonlit jewel which some diver of
the Colchian caves
Had found beneath the blackening waves and
carried to the Colchian witch.
Before his gilded galiot ran naked vine-wreathed
And lines of swaying elephants knelt down to
draw his chariot,
And lines of swarthy Nubians bare up his litter
as he rode
Down the great granite-paven road between the
The merchants brought him steatite from Sidon
in their painted ships:
The meanest cup that touched his lips was
fashioned from a chrysolite.
The merchants brought him cedar chests of rich
apparel bound with cords:
His train was borne by Memphian lords: young
kings were glad to be his guests.
Ten hundred shaven priests did bow to Ammon's
altar day and night,
Ten hundred lamps did wave their light through
Ammon's carven house - and now
Foul snake and speckled adder with their young
ones crawl from stone to stone
For ruined is the house and prone the great
Wild ass or trotting jackal comes and couches
in the mouldering gates:
Wild satyrs call unto their mates across the
fallen fluted drums.
And on the summit of the pile the blue-faced
ape of Horus sits
And gibbers while the fig-tree splits the pillars
of the peristyle
The god is scattered here and there: deep
hidden in the windy sand
I saw his giant granite hand still clenched in
And many a wandering caravan of stately
Crossing the desert, halts appalled before the
neck that none can span.
And many a bearded Bedouin draws back his
To gaze upon the Titan thews of him who was
Go, seek his fragments on the moor and
wash them in the evening dew,
And from their pieces make anew thy mutilated
Go, seek them where they lie alone and from
their broken pieces make
Thy bruised bedfellow! And wake mad passions
in the senseless stone!
Charm his dull ear with Syrian hymns! he loved
your body! oh, be kind,
Pour spikenard on his hair, and wind soft rolls
of linen round his limbs!
Wind round his head the figured coins! stain
with red fruits those pallid lips!
Weave purple for his shrunken hips! and purple
for his barren loins!
Away to Egypt! Have no fear. Only one
God has ever died.
Only one God has let His side be wounded by a
But these, thy lovers, are not dead. Still by the
Dog-faced Anubis sits in state with lotus-lilies
for thy head.
Still from his chair of porphyry gaunt Memnon
strains his lidless eyes
Across the empty land, and cries each yellow
morning unto thee.
And Nilus with his broken horn lies in his black
and oozy bed
And till thy coming will not spread his waters on
the withering corn.
Your lovers are not dead, I know. They will
rise up and hear your voice
And clash their cymbals and rejoice and run to
kiss your mouth! And so,
Set wings upon your argosies! Set horses to
your ebon car!
Back to your Nile! Or if you are grown sick of
Follow some roving lion's spoor across the copper-
Reach out and hale him by the mane and bid
him be your paramour!
Couch by his side upon the grass and set your
white teeth in his throat
And when you hear his dying note lash your
long flanks of polished brass
And take a tiger for your mate, whose amber
sides are flecked with black,
And ride upon his gilded back in triumph
through the Theban gate,
And toy with him in amorous jests, and when
he turns, and snarls, and gnaws,
O smite him with your jasper claws! and bruise
him with your agate breasts!
Why are you tarrying? Get hence! I
weary of your sullen ways,
I weary of your steadfast gaze, your somnolent
Your horrible and heavy breath makes the light
flicker in the lamp,
And on my brow I feel the damp and dreadful
dews of night and death.
Your eyes are like fantastic moons that shiver
in some stagnant lake,
Your tongue is like a scarlet snake that dances
to fantastic tunes,
Your pulse makes poisonous melodies, and your
black throat is like the hole
Left by some torch or burning coal on Saracenic
Away! The sulphur-coloured stars are hurrying
through the Western gate!
Away! Or it may be too late to climb their silent
See, the dawn shivers round the grey gilt-dialled
towers, and the rain
Streams down each diamonded pane and blurs
with tears the wannish day.
What snake-tressed fury fresh from Hell, with
uncouth gestures and unclean,
Stole from the poppy-drowsy queen and led you
to a student's cell?
What songless tongueless ghost of sin crept
through the curtains of the night,
And saw my taper burning bright, and knocked,
and bade you enter in?
Are there not others more accursed, whiter with
leprosies than I?
Are Abana and Pharphar dry that you come here
to slake your thirst?
Get hence, you loathsome mystery! Hideous
animal, get hence!
You wake in me each bestial sense, you make me
what I would not be.
You make my creed a barren sham, you wake
foul dreams of sensual life,
And Atys with his blood-stained knife were
better than the thing I am.
False Sphinx! False Sphinx! By reedy Styx
old Charon, leaning on his oar,
Waits for my coin. Go thou before, and leave
me to my crucifix,
Whose pallid burden, sick with pain, watches
the world with wearied eyes,
And weeps for every soul that dies, and weeps
for every soul in vain.
by Oscar Wilde.
The Two Swans (A Fairy Tale)
Immortal Imogen, crown'd queen above
The lilies of thy sex, vouchsafe to hear
A fairy dream in honor of true love—
True above ills, and frailty, and all fear,—
Perchance a shadow of his own career
Whose youth was darkly prison'd and long-twined
By serpent-sorrow, till white Love drew near,
And sweetly sang him free, and round his mind
A bright horizon threw, wherein no grief may wind.
I saw a tower builded on a lake,
Mock'd by its inverse shadow, dark and deep—
That seem'd a still intenser night to make,
Wherein the quiet waters sank to sleep,—
And, whatso'er was prison'd in that keep,
A monstrous Snake was warden:—round and round
In sable ringlets I beheld him creep
Blackest amid black shadows to the ground,
Whilst his enormous head, the topmost turret crown'd.
From whence he shot fierce light against the stars,
Making the pale moon paler with affright;
And with his ruby eye out-threaten'd Mars—
That blaz'd in the mid-heavens, hot and bright—
Nor slept, nor wink'd, but with a steadfast spite
Watch'd their wan looks and tremblings in the skies;
And that he might not slumber in the night,
The curtain-lids were pluck'd from his large eyes,
So he might never drowse, but watch his secret prize.
Prince or princess in dismal durance pent,
Victims of old Enchantment's love or hate,
Their lives must all in painful sighs be spent,
Watching the lonely waters soon and late,
And clouds that pass and leave them to their fate,
Or company their grief with heavy tears:—
Meanwhile that Hope can spy no golden gate
For sweet escapement, but in darksome fears
They weep and pine away as if immortal years.
No gentle bird with gold upon its wing
Will perch upon the grate—the gentle bird
Is safe in leafy dell, and will not bring
Freedom's sweet key-note and commission-word
Learn'd of a fairy's lips, for pity stirr'd—
Lest while he trembling sings, untimely guest!
Watch'd by that cruel Snake and darkly heard,
He leave a widow on her lonely nest,
To press in silent grief the darlings of her breast.
No gallant knight, adventurous, in his bark,
Will seek the fruitful perils of the place,
To rouse with dipping oar the waters dark
That bear that serpent image on their face.
And Love, brave Love! though he attempt the base,
Nerved to his loyal death, he may not win
His captive lady from the strict embrace
Of that foul Serpent, clasping her within
His sable folds—like Eve enthrall'd by the old Sin.
But there is none—no knight in panoply,
Nor Love, intrench'd in his strong steely coat:
No little speck—no sail—no helper nigh,
No sign—no whispering—no plash of boat:—
The distant shores show dimly and remote,
Made of a deeper mist,—serene and gray,—
And slow and mute the cloudy shadows float
Over the gloomy wave, and pass away,
Chased by the silver beams that on their marges play.
And bright and silvery the willows sleep
Over the shady verge—no mad winds tease
Their hoary heads; but quietly they weep
Their sprinkling leaves—half fountains and half trees:
Their lilies be—and fairer than all these,
A solitary Swan her breast of snow
Launches against the wave that seems to freeze
Into a chaste reflection, still below
Twin shadow of herself wherever she may go.
And forth she paddles in the very noon
Of solemn midnight like an elfin thing,
Charm'd into being by the argent moon—
Whose silver light for love of her fair wing
Goes with her in the shade, still worshipping
Her dainty plumage:—all around her grew
A radiant circlet, like a fairy ring;
And all behind, a tiny little clue
Of light, to guide her back across the waters blue.
And sure she is no meaner than a fay,
Redeem'd from sleepy death, for beauty's sake,
By old ordainment:—silent as she lay,
Touched by a moonlight wand I saw her wake,
And cut her leafy slough, and so forsake
The verdant prison of her lily peers,
That slept amidst the stars upon the lake—
A breathing shape—restored to human fears,
And new-born love and grief—self-conscious of her tears.
And now she clasps her wings around her heart,
And near that lonely isle begins to glide,
Pale as her fears, and oft-times with a start
Turns her impatient head from side to side
In universal terrors—all too wide
To watch; and often to that marble keep
Upturns her pearly eyes, as if she spied
Some foe, and crouches in the shadows steep
That in the gloomy wave go diving fathoms deep.
And well she may, to spy that fearful thing
All down the dusky walls in circlets wound;
Alas! for what rare prize, with many a ring
Girding the marble casket round and round?
His folded tail, lost in the gloom profound,
Terribly darkeneth the rocky base;
But on the top his monstrous head is crown'd
With prickly spears, and on his doubtful face
Gleam his unwearied eyes, red watchers of the place.
Alas! of the hot fires that nightly fall,
No one will scorch him in those orbs of spite,
So he may never see beneath the wall
That timid little creature, all too bright,
That stretches her fair neck, slender and white,
Invoking the pale moon, and vainly tries
Her throbbing throat, as if to charm the night
With song—but, hush—it perishes in sighs,
And there will be no dirge sad-swelling, though she dies!
She droops—she sinks—she leans upon the lake,
Fainting again into a lifeless flower;
But soon the chilly springs anoint and wake
Her spirit from its death, and with new power
She sheds her stifled sorrows in a shower
Of tender song, timed to her falling tears—
That wins the shady summit of that tower,
And, trembling all the sweeter for its fears,
Fills with imploring moan that cruel monster's ears.
And, lo! the scaly beast is all deprest,
Subdued like Argus by the might of sound—
What time Apollo his sweet lute addrest
To magic converse with the air, and bound
The many monster eyes, all slumber-drown'd:—
So on the turret-top that watchful Snake
Pillows his giant head, and lists profound,
As if his wrathful spite would never wake,
Charm'd into sudden sleep for Love and Beauty's sake!
His prickly crest lies prone upon his crown,
And thirsty lip from lip disparted flies,
To drink that dainty flood of music down—
His scaly throat is big with pent-up sighs—
And whilst his hollow ear entranced lies,
His looks for envy of the charmed sense
Are fain to listen, till his steadfast eyes,
Stung into pain by their own impotence,
Distil enormous tears into the lake immense.
Oh, tuneful Swan! oh, melancholy bird!
Sweet was that midnight miracle of song,
Rich with ripe sorrow, needful of no word
To tell of pain, and love, and love's deep wrong—
Hinting a piteous tale—perchance how long
Thy unknown tears were mingled with the lake,
What time disguised thy leafy mates among—
And no eye knew what human love and ache
Dwelt in those dewy leaves, and heart so nigh to break.
Therefore no poet will ungently touch
The water-lily, on whose eyelids dew
Trembles like tears; but ever hold it such
As human pain may wander through and through,
Turning the pale leaf paler in its hue—
Wherein life dwells, transfigured, not entomb'd,
By magic spells. Alas! who ever knew
Sorrow in all its shapes, leafy and plumed,
Or in gross husks of brutes eternally inhumed?
And now the winged song has scaled the height
Of that dark dwelling, builded for despair,
And soon a little casement flashing bright
Widens self-open'd into the cool air—
That music like a bird may enter there
And soothe the captive in his stony cage;
For there is nought of grief, or painful care,
But plaintive song may happily engage
From sense of its own ill, and tenderly assuage.
And forth into the light, small and remote,
A creature, like the fair son of a king,
Draws to the lattice in his jewell'd coat
Against the silver moonlight glistening,
And leans upon his white hand listening
To that sweet music that with tenderer tone
Salutes him, wondering what kindly thing
Is come to soothe him with so tuneful moan,
Singing beneath the walls as if for him alone!
And while he listens, the mysterious song,
Woven with timid particles of speech.
Twines into passionate words that grieve along
The melancholy notes, and softly teach
The secrets of true love,—that trembling reach
His earnest ear, and through the shadows dun
He missions like replies, and each to each
Their silver voices mingle into one,
Like blended streams that make one music as they run.
'Ah! Love, my hope is swooning in my heart,—'
'Ay, sweet, my cage is strong and hung full high—'
'Alas! our lips are held so far apart,
Thy words come faint,—they have so far to fly!—'
'If I may only shun that serpent-eye,—'
'Ah me! that serpent-eye doth never sleep;—'
'Then, nearer thee, Love's martyr, I will die!—'
'Alas, alas! that word has made me weep!
For pity's sake remain safe in thy marble keep!'
'My marble keep! it is my marble tomb—'
'Nay, sweet! but thou hast there thy living breath—'
'Aye to expend in sighs for this hard doom;—'
'But I will come to thee and sing beneath,'
'And nightly so beguile this serpent wreath;—'
'Nay, I will find a path from these despairs.'
'Ah, needs then thou must tread the back of death,
Making his stony ribs thy stony stairs.—
Behold his ruby eye, how fearfully it glares!'
Full sudden at these words, the princely youth
Leaps on the scaly back that slumbers, still
Unconscious of his foot, yet not for ruth,
But numb'd to dulness by the fairy skill
Of that sweet music (all more wild and shrill
For intense fear) that charm'd him as he lay—
Meanwhile the lover nerves his desperate will,
Held some short throbs by natural dismay,
Then down the serpent-track begins his darksome way.
Now dimly seen—now toiling out of sight,
Eclipsed and cover'd by the envious wall;
Now fair and spangled in the sudden light,
And clinging with wide arms for fear of fall;
Now dark and shelter'd by a kindly pall
Of dusky shadow from his wakeful foe;
Slowly he winds adown—dimly and small,
Watch'd by the gentle Swan that sings below,
Her hope increasing, still, the larger he doth grow.
But nine times nine the serpent folds embrace
The marble walls about—which he must tread
Before his anxious foot may touch the base:
Long in the dreary path, and must be sped!
But Love, that holds the mastery of dread,
Braces his spirit, and with constant toil
He wins his way, and now, with arms outspread,
Impatient plunges from the last long coil;
So may all gentle Love ungentle Malice foil!
The song is hush'd, the charm is all complete,
And two fair Swans are swimming on the lake:
But scarce their tender bills have time to meet,
When fiercely drops adown that cruel Snake—
His steely scales a fearful rustling make,
Like autumn leaves that tremble and foretell
The sable storm;—the plumy lovers quake—
And feel the troubled waters pant and swell,
Heaved by the giant bulk of their pursuer fell.
His jaws, wide yawning like the gates of Death,
Hiss horrible pursuit—his red eyes glare
The waters into blood—his eager breath
Grows hot upon their plumes:—now, minstrel fair!
She drops her ring into the waves, and there
It widens all around, a fairy ring
Wrought of the silver light—the fearful pair
Swim in the very midst, and pant and cling
The closer for their fears, and tremble wing to wing.
Bending their course over the pale gray lake,
Against the pallid East, wherein light play'd
In tender flushes, still the baffled Snake
Circled them round continually, and bay'd
Hoarsely and loud, forbidden to invade
The sanctuary ring—his sable mail
Roll'd darkly through the flood, and writhed and made
A shining track over the waters pale,
Lash'd into boiling foam by his enormous tail.
And so they sail'd into the distance dim,
Into the very distance—small and white,
Like snowy blossoms of the spring that swim
Over the brooklets—follow'd by the spite
Of that huge Serpent, that with wild affright
Worried them on their course, and sore annoy,
Till on the grassy marge I saw them 'light,
And change, anon, a gentle girl and boy,
Lock'd in embrace of sweet unutterable joy!
Then came the Morn, and with her pearly showers
Wept on them, like a mother, in whose eyes
Tears are no grief; and from his rosy bowers
The Oriental sun began to rise,
Chasing the darksome shadows from the skies;
Wherewith that sable Serpent far away
Fled, like a part of night—delicious sighs
From waking blossoms purified the day,
And little birds were singing sweetly from each spray.
by Thomas Hood.
The Garden Of Eros
IT is full summer now, the heart of June,
Not yet the sun-burnt reapers are a-stir
Upon the upland meadow where too soon
Rich autumn time, the season's usurer,
Will lend his hoarded gold to all the trees,
And see his treasure scattered by the wild and spendthrift breeze.
Too soon indeed! yet here the daffodil,
That love-child of the Spring, has lingered on
To vex the rose with jealousy, and still
The harebell spreads her azure pavilion,
And like a strayed and wandering reveller
Abandoned of its brothers, whom long since June's messenger
The missel-thrush has frighted from the glade,
One pale narcissus loiters fearfully
Close to a shadowy nook, where half afraid
Of their own loveliness some violets lie
That will not look the gold sun in the face
For fear of too much splendour,--ah! methinks it is a place
Which should be trodden by Persephone
When wearied of the flowerless fields of Dis!
Or danced on by the lads of Arcady!
The hidden secret of eternal bliss
Known to the Grecian here a man might find,
Ah! you and I may find it now if Love and Sleep be kind.
There are the flowers which mourning Herakles
Strewed on the tomb of Hylas, columbine,
Its white doves all a-flutter where the breeze
Kissed them too harshly, the small celandine,
That yellow-kirtled chorister of eve,
And lilac lady's-smock,--but let them bloom alone, and leave
Yon spired holly-hock red-crocketed
To sway its silent chimes, else must the bee,
Its little bellringer, go seek instead
Some other pleasaunce; the anemone
That weeps at daybreak, like a silly girl
Before her love, and hardly lets the butterflies unfurl
Their painted wings beside it,--bid it pine
In pale virginity; the winter snow
Will suit it better than those lips of thine
Whose fires would but scorch it, rather go
And pluck that amorous flower which blooms alone,
Fed by the pander wind with dust of kisses not its own.
The trumpet-mouths of red convolvulus
So dear to maidens, creamy meadow-sweet
Whiter than Juno's throat and odorous
As all Arabia, hyacinths the feet
Of Huntress Dian would be loth to mar
For any dappled fawn,--pluck these, and those fond flowers which are
Fairer than what Queen Venus trod upon
Beneath the pines of Ida, eucharis,
That morning star which does not dread the sun,
And budding marjoram which but to kiss
Would sweeten Cytheræa's lips and make
Adonis jealous,--these for thy head,--and for thy girdle take
Yon curving spray of purple clematis
Whose gorgeous dye outflames the Tyrian King,
And fox-gloves with their nodding chalices,
But that one narciss which the startled Spring
Let from her kirtle fall when first she heard
In her own woods the wild tempestuous song of summer's bird,
Ah! leave it for a subtle memory
Of those sweet tremulous days of rain and sun,
When April laughed between her tears to see
The early primrose with shy footsteps run
From the gnarled oak-tree roots till all the wold,
Spite of its brown and trampled leaves, grew bright with shimmering
Nay, pluck it too, it is not half so sweet
As thou thyself, my soul's idolatry!
And when thou art a-wearied at thy feet
Shall oxlips weave their brightest tapestry,
For thee the woodbine shall forget its pride
And vail its tangled whorls, and thou shalt walk on daisies pied.
And I will cut a reed by yonder spring
And make the wood-gods jealous, and old Pan
Wonder what young intruder dares to sing
In these still haunts, where never foot of man
Should tread at evening, lest he chance to spy
The marble limbs of Artemis and all her company.
And I will tell thee why the jacinth wears
Such dread embroidery of dolorous moan,
And why the hapless nightingale forbears
To sing her song at noon, but weeps alone
When the fleet swallow sleeps, and rich men feast,
And why the laurel trembles when she sees the lightening east.
And I will sing how sad Proserpina
Unto a grave and gloomy Lord was wed,
And lure the silver-breasted Helena
Back from the lotus meadows of the dead,
So shalt thou see that awful loveliness
For which two mighty Hosts met fearfuly in war's abyss!
And then I 'll pipe to thee that Grecian tale
How Cynthia loves the lad Endymion,
And hidden in a grey and misty veil
Hies to the cliffs of Latmos once the Sun
Leaps from his ocean bed in fruitless chase
Of those pale flying feet which fade away in his embrace.
And if my flute can breathe sweet melody,
We may behold Her face who long ago
Dwelt among men by the Ægean sea,
And whose sad house with pillaged portico
And friezeless wall and columns toppled down
Looms o'er the ruins of that fair and violet-cinctured town.
Spirit of Beauty! tarry still a-while,
They are not dead, thine ancient votaries,
Some few there are to whom thy radiant smile
Is better than a thousand victories,
Though all the nobly slain of Waterloo
Rise up in wrath against them! tarry still, there are a few.
Who for thy sake would give their manlihood
And consecrate their being, I at least
Have done so, made thy lips my daily food,
And in thy temples found a goodlier feast
Than this starved age can give me, spite of all
Its new-found creeds so sceptical and so dogmatical.
Here not Cephissos, not Ilissos flows,
The woods of white Colonos are not here,
On our bleak hills the olive never blows,
No simple priest conducts his lowing steer
Up the steep marble way, nor through the town
Do laughing maidens bear to thee the crocus-flowered gown.
Yet tarry! for the boy who loved thee best,
Whose very name should be a memory
To make thee linger, sleeps in silent rest
Beneath the Roman walls, and melody
Still mourns her sweetest lyre, none can play
The lute of Adonais, with his lips Song passed away.
Nay, when Keats died the Muses still had left
One silver voice to sing his threnody,
But ah! too soon of it we were bereft
When on that riven night and stormy sea
Panthea claimed her singer as her own,
And slew the mouth that praised her; since which time we walk alone,
Save for that fiery heart, that morning star
Of re-arisen England, whose clear eye
Saw from our tottering throne and waste of war
The grand Greek limbs of young Democracy
Rise mightily like Hesperus and bring
The great Republic! him at least thy love hath taught to sing,
And he hath been with thee at Thessaly,
And seen white Atalanta fleet of foot
In passionless and fierce virginity
Hunting the tuskéd boar, his honied lute
Hath pierced the cavern of the hollow hill,
And Venus laughs to know one knee will bow before her still.
And he hath kissed the lips of Proserpine,
And sung the Galilæan's requiem,
That wounded forehead dashed with blood and wine
He hath discrowned, the Ancient Gods in him
Have found their last, most ardent worshipper,
And the new Sign grows grey and dim before its conqueror.
Spirit of Beauty! tarry with us still,
It is not quenched the torch of poesy,
The star that shook above the Eastern hill
Holds unassailed its argent armoury
From all the gathering gloom and fretful fight--
O tarry with us still! for through the long and common night,
Morris, our sweet and simple Chaucer's child,
Dear heritor of Spenser's tuneful reed,
With soft and sylvan pipe has oft beguiled
The weary soul of man in troublous need,
And from the far and flowerless fields of ice
Has brought fair flowers meet to make an earthly paradise.
We know them all, Gudrun the strong men's bride,
Aslaug and Olafson we know them all,
How giant Grettir fought and Sigurd died,
And what enchantment held the king in thrall
When lonely Brynhild wrestled with the powers
That war against all passion, ah! how oft through summer hours,
Long listless summer hours when the noon
Being enamoured of a damask rose
Forgets to journey westward, till the moon
The pale usurper of its tribute grows
From a thin sickle to a silver shield
And chides its loitering car--how oft, in some cool grassy field
Far from the cricket-ground and noisy eight,
At Bagley, where the rustling bluebells come
Almost before the blackbird finds a mate
And overstay the swallow, and the hum
Of many murmuring bees flits through the leaves,
Have I lain poring on the dreamy tales his fancy weaves,
And through their unreal woes and mimic pain
Wept for myself, and so was purified,
And in their simple mirth grew glad again;
For as I sailed upon that pictured tide
The strength and splendour of the storm was mine
Without the storm's red ruin, for the singer is divine,
The little laugh of water falling down
Is not so musical, the clammy gold
Close hoarded in the tiny waxen town
Has less of sweetness in it, and the old
Half-withered reeds that waved in Arcady
Touched by his lips break forth again to fresher harmony.
Spirit of Beauty tarry yet a-while!
Although the cheating merchants of the mart
With iron roads profane our lovely isle,
And break on whirling wheels the limbs of Art,
Ay! though the crowded factories beget
The blind-worm Ignorance that slays the soul, O tarry yet!
For One at least there is,--He bears his name
From Dante and the seraph Gabriel,--
Whose double laurels burn with deathless flame
To light thine altar; He too loves thee well,
Who saw old Merlin lured in Vivien's snare,
And the white feet of angels coming down the golden stair,
Loves thee so well, that all the World for him
A gorgeous-coloured vestiture must wear,
And Sorrow take a purple diadem,
Or else be no more Sorrow, and Despair
Gild its own thorns, and Pain, like Adon, be
Even in anguish beautiful;--such is the empery
Which Painters hold, and such the heritage
This gentle solemn Spirit doth possess,
Being a better mirror of his age
In all his pity, love, and weariness,
Than those who can but copy common things,
And leave the Soul unpainted with its mighty questionings.
But they are few, and all romance has flown,
And men can prophesy about the sun,
And lecture on his arrows--how, alone,
Through a waste void the soulless atoms run,
How from each tree its weeping nymph has fled,
And that no more 'mid English reeds a Naïad shows her head.
Methinks these new Actæons boast too soon
That they have spied on beauty; what if we
Have analyzed the rainbow, robbed the moon
Of her most ancient, chastest mystery,
Shall I, the last Endymion, lose all hope
Because rude eyes peer at my mistress through a telescope!
What profit if this scientific age
Burst through our gates with all its retinue
Of modern miracles! Can it assuage
One lover's breaking heart? what can it do
To make one life more beautiful, one day
More god-like in its period? but now the Age of Clay
Returns in horrid cycle, and the earth
Hath borne again a noisy progeny
Of ignorant Titans, whose ungodly birth
Hurls them against the august hierarchy
Which sat upon Olympus, to the Dust
They have appealed, and to that barren arbiter they must
Repair for judgment, let them, if they can,
From Natural Warfare and insensate Chance,
Create the new Ideal rule for man!
Methinks that was not my inheritance;
For I was nurtured otherwise, my soul
Passes from higher heights of life to a more supreme goal.
Lo! while we spake the earth did turn away
Her visage from the God, and Hecate's boat
Rose silver-laden, till the jealous day
Blew all its torches out: I did not note
The waning hours, to young Endymions
Time's palsied fingers count in vain his rosary of suns!--
Mark how the yellow iris wearily
Leans back its throat, as though it would be kissed
By its false chamberer, the dragon-fly,
Who, like a blue vein on a girl's white wrist,
Sleeps on that snowy primrose of the night,
Which 'gins to flush with crimson shame, and die beneath the light.
Come let us go, against the pallid shield
Of the wan sky the almond blossoms gleam,
The corn-crake nested in the unmown field
Answers its mate, across the misty stream
On fitful wing the startled curlews fly,
And in his sedgy bed the lark, for joy that Day is nigh,
Scatters the pearléd dew from off the grass,
In tremulous ecstasy to greet the sun,
Who soon in gilded panoply will pass
Forth from yon orange-curtained pavilion
Hung in the burning east, see, the red rim
O'ertops the expectant hills! it is the God! for love of him
Already the shrill lark is out of sight,
Flooding with waves of song this silent dell,--
Ah! there is something more in that bird's flight
Than could be tested in a crucible!--
But the air freshens, let us go,--why soon
The woodmen will be here; how we have lived this night of June!
by Oscar Wilde.
Amarantha. A Pastorall
Up with the jolly bird of light
Who sounds his third retreat to night;
Faire Amarantha from her bed
Ashamed starts, and rises red
As the carnation-mantled morne,
Who now the blushing robe doth spurne,
And puts on angry gray, whilst she,
The envy of a deity,
Arayes her limbes, too rich indeed
To be inshrin'd in such a weed;
Yet lovely 'twas and strait, but fit;
Not made for her, but she to it:
By nature it sate close and free,
As the just bark unto the tree:
Unlike Love's martyrs of the towne,
All day imprison'd in a gown,
Who, rackt in silke 'stead of a dresse,
Are cloathed in a frame or presse,
And with that liberty and room,
The dead expatiate in a tombe.
No cabinets with curious washes,
Bladders and perfumed plashes;
No venome-temper'd water's here,
Mercury is banished this sphere:
Her payle's all this, in which wet glasse
She both doth cleanse and view her face.
Far hence, all Iberian smells,
Hot amulets, Pomander spells,
Fragrant gales, cool ay'r, the fresh
And naturall odour of her flesh,
Proclaim her sweet from th' wombe as morne.
Those colour'd things were made, not borne.
Which, fixt within their narrow straits,
Do looke like their own counterfeyts.
So like the Provance rose she walkt,
Flowerd with blush, with verdure stalkt;
Th' officious wind her loose hayre curles,
The dewe her happy linnen purles,
But wets a tresse, which instantly
Sol with a crisping beame doth dry.
Into the garden is she come,
Love and delight's Elisium;
If ever earth show'd all her store,
View her discolourd budding floore;
Here her glad eye she largely feedes,
And stands 'mongst them, as they 'mong weeds;
The flowers in their best aray
As to their queen their tribute pay,
And freely to her lap proscribe
A daughter out of ev'ry tribe.
Thus as she moves, they all bequeath
At once the incense of their breath.
The noble Heliotropian
Now turnes to her, and knowes no sun.
And as her glorious face doth vary,
So opens loyall golden Mary
Who, if but glanced from her sight,
Straight shuts again, as it were night.
The violet (else lost ith' heap)
Doth spread fresh purple for each step,
With whose humility possest,
Sh' inthrones the Poore Girle in her breast:
The July-flow'r that hereto thriv'd,
Knowing her self no longer-liv'd,
But for one look of her upheaves,
Then 'stead of teares straight sheds her leaves.
Now the rich robed Tulip who,
Clad all in tissue close, doth woe
Her (sweet to th' eye but smelling sower),
She gathers to adorn her bower.
But the proud Hony-suckle spreads
Like a pavilion her heads,
Contemnes the wanting commonalty,
That but to two ends usefull be,
And to her lips thus aptly plac't,
With smell and hue presents her tast.
So all their due obedience pay,
Each thronging to be in her way:
Faire Amarantha with her eye
Thanks those that live, which else would dye:
The rest, in silken fetters bound,
By crowning her are crown and crown'd.
And now the sun doth higher rise,
Our Flora to the meadow hies:
The poore distressed heifers low,
And as sh' approacheth gently bow,
Begging her charitable leasure
To strip them of their milkie treasure.
Out of the yeomanry oth' heard,
With grave aspect, and feet prepar'd,
A rev'rend lady-cow drawes neare,
Bids Amarantha welcome here;
And from her privy purse lets fall
A pearle or two, which seeme[s] to call
This adorn'd adored fayry
To the banquet of her dayry.
Soft Amarantha weeps to see
'Mongst men such inhumanitie,
That those, who do receive in hay,
And pay in silver twice a day,
Should by their cruell barb'rous theft
Be both of that and life bereft.
But 'tis decreed, when ere this dies,
That she shall fall a sacrifice
Unto the gods, since those, that trace
Her stemme, show 'tis a god-like race,
Descending in an even line
From heifers and from steeres divine,
Making the honour'd extract full
In Io and Europa's bull.
She was the largest goodliest beast,
That ever mead or altar blest;
Round [w]as her udder, and more white
Then is the Milkie Way in night;
Her full broad eye did sparkle fire;
Her breath was sweet as kind desire,
And in her beauteous crescent shone,
Bright as the argent-horned moone.
But see! this whiteness is obscure,
Cynthia spotted, she impure;
Her body writheld, and her eyes
Departing lights at obsequies:
Her lowing hot to the fresh gale,
Her breath perfumes the field withall;
To those two suns that ever shine,
To those plump parts she doth inshrine,
To th' hovering snow of either hand,
That love and cruelty command.
After the breakfast on her teat,
She takes her leave oth' mournfull neat
Who, by her toucht, now prizeth her life,
Worthy alone the hollowed knife.
Into the neighbring wood she's gone,
Whose roofe defies the tell-tale Sunne,
And locks out ev'ry prying beame;
Close by the lips of a cleare streame,
She sits and entertaines her eye
With the moist chrystall and the frye
With burnisht-silver mal'd, whose oares
Amazed still make to the shoares;
What need she other bait or charm,
What hook or angle, but her arm?
The happy captive, gladly ta'n,
Sues ever to be slave in vaine,
Who instantly (confirm'd in's feares)
Hasts to his element of teares.
From hence her various windings roave
To a well-orderd stately grove;
This is the pallace of the wood
And court oth' Royall Oake, where stood
The whole nobility: the Pine,
Strait Ash, tall Firre, and wanton Vine;
The proper Cedar, and the rest.
Here she her deeper senses blest;
Admires great Nature in this pile,
Floor'd with greene-velvet Camomile,
Garnisht with gems of unset fruit,
Supply'd still with a self recruit;
Her bosom wrought with pretty eyes
Of never-planted Strawberries;
Where th' winged musick of the ayre
Do richly feast, and for their fare,
Each evening in a silent shade,
Bestow a gratefull serenade.
Thus ev'n tyerd with delight,
Sated in soul and appetite;
Full of the purple Plumme and Peare,
The golden Apple, with the faire
Grape that mirth fain would have taught her,
And nuts, which squirrells cracking brought her;
She softly layes her weary limbs,
Whilst gentle slumber now beginnes
To draw the curtaines of her eye;
When straight awakend with a crie
And bitter groan, again reposes,
Again a deep sigh interposes.
And now she heares a trembling voyce:
Ah! can there ought on earth rejoyce!
Why weares she this gay livery,
Not black as her dark entrails be?
Can trees be green, and to the ay'r
Thus prostitute their flowing hayr?
Why do they sprout, not witherd dy?
Must each thing live, save wretched I?
Can dayes triumph in blew and red,
When both their light and life is fled?
Fly Joy on wings of Popinjayes
To courts of fools, where as your playes
Dye laught at and forgot; whilst all
That's good mourns at this funerall.
Weep, all ye Graces, and you sweet
Quire, that at the hill inspir'd meet:
Love, put thy tapers out, that we
And th' world may seem as blind as thee;
And be, since she is lost (ah wound!)
Not Heav'n it self by any found.
Now as a prisoner new cast,
Who sleepes in chaines that night, his last,
Next morn is wak't with a repreeve,
And from his trance, not dream bid live,
Wonders (his sence not having scope)
Who speaks, his friend or his false hope.
So Amarantha heard, but feare
Dares not yet trust her tempting care;
And as againe her arms oth' ground
Spread pillows for her head, a sound
More dismall makes a swift divorce,
And starts her thus:----Rage, rapine, force!
Ye blew-flam'd daughters oth' abysse,
Bring all your snakes, here let them hisse;
Let not a leaf its freshnesse keep;
Blast all their roots, and as you creepe,
And leave behind your deadly slime,
Poyson the budding branch in's prime:
Wast the proud bowers of this grove,
That fiends may dwell in it, and move
As in their proper hell, whilst she
Above laments this tragedy:
Yet pities not our fate; oh faire
Vow-breaker, now betroth'd to th' ay'r!
Why by those lawes did we not die,
As live but one, Lucasta! why----
As he Lucasta nam'd, a groan
Strangles the fainting passing tone;
But as she heard, Lucasta smiles,
Posses her round; she's slipt mean whiles
Behind the blind of a thick bush,
When, each word temp'ring with a blush,
She gently thus bespake; Sad swaine,
If mates in woe do ease our pain,
Here's one full of that antick grief,
Which stifled would for ever live,
But told, expires; pray then, reveale
(To show our wound is half to heale),
What mortall nymph or deity
Bewail you thus? Who ere you be,
The shepheard sigh't, my woes I crave
Smotherd in me, me in my grave;
Yet be in show or truth a saint,
Or fiend, breath anthemes, heare my plaint,
For her and thy breath's symphony,
Which now makes full the harmony
Above, and to whose voice the spheres
Listen, and call her musick theirs;
This was I blest on earth with, so
As Druids amorous did grow,
Jealous of both: for as one day
This star, as yet but set in clay,
By an imbracing river lay,
They steept her in the hollowed brooke,
Which from her humane nature tooke,
And straight to heaven with winged feare,
Thus, ravisht with her, ravish her.
The nymph reply'd: This holy rape
Became the gods, whose obscure shape
They cloth'd with light, whilst ill you grieve
Your better life should ever live,
And weep that she, to whom you wish
What heav'n could give, has all its blisse.
Calling her angell here, yet be
Sad at this true divinity:
She's for the altar, not the skies,
Whom first you crowne, then sacrifice.
Fond man thus to a precipice
Aspires, till at the top his eyes
Have lost the safety of the plain,
Then begs of Fate the vales againe.
The now confounded shepheard cries:
Ye all-confounding destines!
How did you make that voice so sweet
Without that glorious form to it?
Thou sacred spirit of my deare,
Where e're thou hoverst o're us, hear!
Imbark thee in the lawrell tree,
And a new Phebus follows thee,
Who, 'stead of all his burning rayes,
Will strive to catch thee with his layes;
Or, if within the Orient Vine,
Thou art both deity and wine;
But if thou takest the mirtle grove,
That Paphos is, thou, Queene of Love,
And I, thy swain who (else) must die,
By no beasts, but thy cruelty:
But you are rougher than the winde.
Are souls on earth then heav'n more kind?
Imprisoned in mortality
Lucasta would have answered me.
Lucasta, Amarantha said,
Is she that virgin-star? a maid,
Except her prouder livery,
In beauty poore, and cheap as I;
Whose glory like a meteor shone,
Or aery apparition,
Admir'd a while, but slighted known.
Fierce, as the chafed lyon hies,
He rowses him, and to her flies,
Thinking to answer with his speare----
Now, as in warre intestine where,
Ith' mist of a black battell, each
Layes at his next, then makes a breach
Through th' entrayles of another, whom
He sees nor knows whence he did come,
Guided alone by rage and th' drumme,
But stripping and impatient wild,
He finds too soon his onely child.
So our expiring desp'rate lover
Far'd when, amaz'd, he did discover
Lucasta in this nymph; his sinne
Darts the accursed javelin
'Gainst his own breast, which she puts by
With a soft lip and gentle eye,
Then closes with him on the ground
And now her smiles have heal'd his wound.
Alexis too again is found;
But not untill those heavy crimes
She hath kis'd off a thousand times,
Who not contented with this pain,
Doth threaten to offend again.
And now they gaze, and sigh, and weep,
Whilst each cheek doth the other's steep,
Whilst tongues, as exorcis'd, are calm;
Onely the rhet'rick of the palm
Prevailing pleads, untill at last
They[re] chain'd in one another fast.
Lucasta to him doth relate
Her various chance and diffring fate:
How chac'd by Hydraphil, and tract
The num'rous foe to Philanact,
Who whilst they for the same things fight,
As Bards decrees and Druids rite,
For safeguard of their proper joyes
And shepheards freedome, each destroyes
The glory of this Sicilie;
Since seeking thus the remedie,
They fancy (building on false ground)
The means must them and it confound,
Yet are resolved to stand or fall,
And win a little, or lose all.
From this sad storm of fire and blood
She fled to this yet living wood;
Where she 'mongst savage beasts doth find
Her self more safe then humane kind.
Then she relates, how Caelia--
The lady--here strippes her array,
And girdles her in home-spunne bayes
Then makes her conversant in layes
Of birds, and swaines more innocent,
That kenne not guile [n]or courtship ment.
Now walks she to her bow'r to dine
Under a shade of Eglantine,
Upon a dish of Natures cheere
Which both grew, drest and serv'd up there:
That done, she feasts her smell with po'ses
Pluckt from the damask cloath of Roses.
Which there continually doth stay,
And onely frost can take away;
Then wagers which hath most content
Her eye, eare, hand, her gust or sent.
Intranc't Alexis sees and heares,
As walking above all the spheres:
Knows and adores this, and is wilde,
Untill with her he live thus milde.
So that, which to his thoughts he meant
For losse of her a punishment,
His armes hung up and his sword broke,
His ensignes folded, he betook
Himself unto the humble crook.
And for a full reward of all,
She now doth him her shepheard call,
And in a see of flow'rs install:
Then gives her faith immediately,
Which he returns religiously;
Both vowing in her peacefull cave
To make their bridall-bed and grave.
But the true joy this pair conceiv'd,
Each from the other first bereav'd,
And then found, after such alarmes,
Fast-pinion'd in each other's armes,
Ye panting virgins, that do meet
Your loves within their winding sheet,
Breathing and constant still ev'n there;
Or souls their bodies in yon' sphere,
Or angels, men return'd from hell
And separated mindes--can tell.
by Richard Lovelace.
Love: To A Little Girl
When we all lie still
Where churchyard pines their funeral vigil keep,
Thou shalt rise up early
While the dews are deep;
Thee the earliest bird shall rouse
From thy maiden sleep,
Thy white bed in the old house
Where we all, in our day,
Lived and loved so cheerly.
And thou shalt take thy way
Where the nodding daffodil
Tells thee he is near;
Where the lark above the corn
Sings him to thine ear;
Where thine own oak, fondly grim,
Points to more than thou canst spy;
And the beckoning beechen spray
Beckons, beckons thee to him,
Thee to him and him to thee;
Him to thee, who, coy and slow,
Stealest through dim paths untrod
Step by step, with doubtful glance,
Taking witness quick and shy
Of each bud and herb and tree
If thou doest well or no.
Haste thee, haste thee, slow and coy!
What! art doubting still, though even
The white tree that shakes with fear
When no other dreams of ill,
The girl-tree whom best thou knowest,
Waves the garlands of her joy,
And, by something more than chance,
Of all paths in one path only
The primroses where thou goest
Thicken to thy feet, as though
Thou already wert in heaven
And walking in the galaxy.
Do those stars no longer glisten
To thy steps, ah! shivering maid,
That, where upper light doth fade
At yon gnarled and twisted gate,
Thou dost pause and tremble and so,
Listening stir, and stirring listen?
Not a blossom will illume
That chill grove of cambering yew
Wherein Night seems to vegetate,
And, through bats and owls, a dew
Of darkness fills the mortal gloom.
Haste thee, haste thee, gaze not back!
Of all hours since thou wert born,
Now thou may'st not look forlorn;
Though the blackening grove is dread,
Shall he plead in vain who pled
'To-morrow?' Through the tree-gloom lonely
One more shudder, and the track
Softens: this is upland sod,
Thou canst smell the mountain air,
What was heavy overhead
Lightens, the black whitens, the white brightens!
Ah, dear and fair,
Lo the dazzling east, and lo,
Someone tall against the sky
Coming. coming, like a god,
In the rising morn!
And when the lengthening days whose light we never saw
Have melted his sweet awe,
And thy fond fear is like a little hare,
Large-eyed and passionately afraid,
That peepeth from the covert of her rest
Into the narrow glade
Between two woods, and doth a moment dare
The sunshine, and leap back; yet forth will fare
Again, and each time ventures further from the nest,
Till, having past the midst ere she be 'ware,
Bold with fear to be so much confest
She flees across the sun into the other shade;
Flees as thou that didst so coyly draw
Near him and nearer, and art trembling there
Midway 'twixt giving all and nought,
In a moment, at a thought,
Bashful to panic, hidest on his breast;
Once again beneath the hill
Where round our graves these funeral pines refuse
The clamorous morning, thou shalt rise up early
When we all lie still.
Thou shalt rise up early while
Down the chimney, ample and deep,
Dreaming swallows gurgle, and shrill
In window-nook the mossy wren
Chirps an answer cheerly,
Chirps and sinks to sleep.
In the crossed and corbelled bay
Of that ivied oriel, thou
Lovest at morn and eve to muse;
But this once thou shalt not stay
To mark the forming earth. and how
Far and near, in equal grey
Of growing dawn, thy well-known land
Now to the strained gaze appears
The nebulous umbrage of itself, and now,
Ere one can say this or this,
Divides upon the sense into the world that is,
As the slow suffusion that doth fill
Tender eyes with soft uncertainties,
Suddenly, we know not when,
Shapes to tears we understand;
Such tears as blind thy eyes with light,
When thou shalt rise up, white from white,
In thy virgin bed
On that morn, and, by and by,
In thy bloom of maidenhead
Beam softly o'er the shadowy floor,
And softly down the ancient stairs,
And softly through the ancestral door,
And o'er the meadow by the house
Where thy small feet shall not rouse
From the grass those unrisen pray'rs,
The skylarks, though thy passing smile
Shall touch away the dews.
And thou shalt take thy way,
Ah whither? Where is the dear tryst to-day?
Trembler, doth he wait for thee
By the ash or the beech-tree?
With the lightest earliest breeze
The dodder in the hedge is quaking,
But the mighty ash is still a-slumber;
All its tender multiplicity
Drooped with a common sleep, by twos and threes,
That triple into companies,
Which, in turn, do multiply
Each by each into an all
So various, so symmetrical,
That the membered trunk on high
Lifts a colour'd cloud that seems
The numberless result of number.
Now still as thy still sleep, soft as thy dreams,
They slumber; but when morning bids
The world awake, the giant sleeper, waking,
Shall lift at once his shapely myriads up,
As thou at once upliftest thy two lids.
Ah, guileless eyes, from whom those lids unclose;
Ah, happy, happy eyes! if morning's beams
Awake the trees, how can they sleep in yours?
Look up and see them start from their repose!
Yet nay, I think thou wouldst forbid them hear
What some one comes this morn to say;
Therefore, sweet eyes, shine only on the ground,
Nor venture to look round,
Lest thou behold how subtly the flow'rs sigh
Among the whispering grasses tall,
And see thy secret pale the lily's cheeks,
Or redden on the daisy's lips,
Or tremble in the tremulous tear
Wherewith the warmer light of day fulfils
That frigid beauty of the wort whose stars
Look, thro' the summer darkness, like the scars
Of those lunar arrows shot
From the white string of that silver bow
Wherewith, as we all wot,
Because it was a keepsake of her Greek,
Diana shooteth still on every moony night.
What is it, then, that this close buttercup
Is shutting down into a golden shrine?
What hath the wind betrayed to the wind-flow'r,
That, on either side, it so adjures
Thy passing beauty, by such votive hands
Point to point with praying finger-tips?
I know not how such secrets go astray,
Nor how so dear a mystery
Foreslipped the limits of its destined hour;
Perhaps, the mustered spring, in whatsoe'er
Deep cavern of the earth, ere it come here,
It takes the flowery order of the year,
Heard the soft powers speak of this loveliness
That in due season should be done and said,
As if it were a part o' the white and red
Of summer; or perchance some zephyr, willing
To sweeten the stol'n fragrance of a rose,
Caught one of thy breaths, and blew it
To the flow'rs that suck the evening air,
And in it some unspoken words of thine
Went thro' the floral beauty, and somewhere
Therein came to themselves, and made the fields aware.
Thus, or not thus, surely the cowslips knew it;
Else wherefore did they press
Their march to this sole day, and long ago
Set their annual dances to it?
This day of all the days that summer yields?
Didst thou not mark how sure and slow
They came upon thee with exact emprise?
First a golden stranger, meek and lone,
Then the vanward of a fairy host
Following the nightingales,
Bashful and bold, in sudden troops and bands,
Takes the willowy depths of all the dales,
And, on unsuspected nights,
Makes vantage-ground of mounts and heights
Till, ere one knew, a south wind blew,
And a fond invasion holds the fields!
Over the shadowy meadowy season, up and down from coast to coast,
A pigmy folk, a yellow-haired people stands,
Stands and hangs its head and smiles!
And art thou conscious that they smile, and why?
That with such palpitating flight
Thou fleest toward the linden-aisles?
Ah, yet a moment pause among
The lime-trees, where, from the rich arches o'er thee,
The nightingale still strews his falling song
As if the trees were shaken and dropt sweetness;
No heed? More speed? Ah, little feet,
Is the ground soaked with music that ye beat
Silver echoes thence, and keep
Such quick time and dainty unison
With the running cadence of the bird
That he hath not heard
A note to fright him or offend,
While down the tell-tale path from end to end
Such a ringing scale has run thro' his retreat?
The limes are past, and ye speed on;
Ah, little feet, so fond, so fleet,
Fleeter than ever-why this fleetness?
Who is this? a start, a cry!
A blind moment of alarms,
And the tryst is in his arms!
Fluttering, fluttering heart, confess
Truly, didst thou never guess
That he would be here before thee?
Didst thou never dream that ere
The last glow-worm 'gan to dim,
Or the dear day-star to burn,
Or the elm-top rooks to talk,
Or the hedge-row nests to threep,
He was waiting for thee here?
Ah! ne'er so fair, ah! ne'er so dear,
For his love's sake pardon him,
Smile on him again, and turn
With him thro' the sweetbrier glade,
With him thro' the woodbine shade;
In the sweetbrier wilderness,
To his side, ah! closer creep,
In the honeysuckle walk
Let him make thee blush and weep,
While the wooing doves, unseen,
Move the air with fond ado,
And, lest the long morning shine
Show you to some vulgar eye,
To ye, passing side by side,
With a grace that copies thine,
Favouring trees their boughs incline;
While, where'er ye wander by,
Hawthorn and sweet eglantine
From among their laughing leaves
Stretch and pluck ye by the sleeves:
And all flow'rs the hedge doth hide
Sigh their fragrance after you;
And sly airs, with soft caresses,
Letting down thy golden tresses,
Marry those dear locks with his;
While from the rose-arch above thee,
Where the bowery gate uncloses,
Budded tendrils, lithe and green,
Loosen on the wind and lean
Each to each, and leaning kiss,
Kiss and redden into roses.
Oh, you Lovers, warm and living!
And ah, our graves, so deep and chill!
As ye stand in upper light
Murmuring love that never dies,
While your happy cheeks are burning,
Will ye feel a distant yearning?
Will a sudden dim surprise
Lift up your happy eyes
From what you are taking and giving,
To where the pines their funeral vigil keep,
And we all lie still?
Love on, plight on, we cannot hear or see.
Oh beautiful and young and happy! ye
Have the rich earth's inheritance.
For you, for you, the music and the dance
That moves and plays for all who need it not,
That moved and played for us, who, thus forgot,
In the dark house where the heart cannot sing
Nor any pulse mete its own joyous measure,
See not the world, nor any pleasant thing;
And ye, in your good time, have come into our pleasure.
Ah, while the time is good, love on, plight on!
Leap from yourselves into the light of gladness!
The light, the light! surely the light is sweet?
And, if descending from those ecstasies,
Ye touch the common earth with wavering feet,
Your life is at your will; whate'er betide,
We shall not check or chide.
The hand is dust that might restrain;
The voice whose warning should distress ye
By any augury of doubt or sadness,
Can never speak again.
The angel that so many woo in vain
Descends, descends! Ah, seize him ere he soar;
Ah, seize him by the skirt or by the wing;
What matter, so that, like the saint of yore,
Ye do not let him hence until he bless ye?
In our youth we had our madness,
In the grave ye may be wise.
Love on, love on, for Love is all in all!
Manners, that make us and are made of us,
Who with the self-will of an infant king
Do fashion them that have our fashioning,
And make the shape of our correction;
Virtue, that fruit whose substance ripens slow,
And in one semblance having past from crude
To sweet, rots slowly in the form of good;
Joy, the involuntary light and glow
Of this electric frame mysterious,
That, radiant from our best activities,
Complexion their fine colours by our own;
And Duty, the sun-flower of knowledge,-these
Change and may change with changing time and place:
But Love is for no planet and no race.
The summer of the heart is late or soon,
The fever in the blood is less or more;
But while the moons of time shall fill and wane,
While there is earth below and heaven above,
Wherever man is true and woman fair,
Through all the circling cycles Love is Love!
And when the stars have flower'd and fall'n away,
And of this earthly ball
A little dust upon eternity
Is all that shall remain,
Love shall be Love: in that transcendent whole
Clear Nature from the swift euthanasy
Of her last change, transfigured, shall arise;
And we, whose wonted eyes
Seek vainly the familiar universe,
Shall feel the living worlds in the immortal soul.
But nor of this,
Nor anything of Love except its bliss,
On that summer morning shalt thou know;
Nor, in that moment's apotheosis
When, like the sudden sun
That, rising round and rayless, bursts in rays,
And is himself and all the heavens in one,
Love in the sun-burst of our own delight
Makes us for an instant infinite,
Owning no first or last, before or after,
Child of Love, shalt thou divine
That, years and years before thy day,
In the little Arcady
And planted Eden of thy line,
On such mornings such a maid
Lived and loved as thou art living and loving,
Through the flowery fields where thou art roving,
And in the favourite bowers and by the wonted ways,
Stepped the morning music with thy grace;
Smiled the sunshine which thou with her face
Smilest; so, with sweeter voice,
Helped the vernal birds rejoice,
Or, when passing envy stayed
Matins green and leafy virilays
Startled her sole self to hear,
Like a scared bird hushed for fear;
Or, more frightened by my passionate praise,
Rippled the golden silence with shy laughter.
Yet I saw her standing there,
While my happy love I made,
Standing in her long fair hair,
And looking (so thou lookest now)
As when beneath an April bough
In an April meadow,
Light is netted into place
By a lesser light of shadow;-
Standing by that tree where he
This morn of thine makes love to thee
Leaning to his half-embrace,
Leaning where, full well I know,
While slow day grows ripe to noon
Thou untired shalt still be leaning,
Still, entranced by Love's beguiling,
Listening, listening, smiling, smiling;
Leaning by the tree-Ah me,
Leaning on the name I cut
In the bark which, while she tarried here,
Chased it with duteous silver year by year;
But from the hour that heard her coffin shut
Blindly closed over the withered meaning,
Till argent vert and verdant argentrie
Encharged each simple letter to a rune.
Ah me, ah me! the very name
To which-another yet the same-
(The same, since all thy loveliness is she,
Another, since thou dost forget me)-
Thou answerest, as she answered me
When on summer morns she met me,
While the dews were deep,-
She whom earliest bird did rouse
From her maiden sleep,
From her bed in the old house,
Her white bed in the old house,-
She whom bird arouseth never
From that sleep upon the hill
Where we all lie still.
For what is, was, will be. Suns rise and set
And rise: year after year, as when we met,
In one brief season the epiphany
Of perfect life is shown, and is withdrawn;
As maidens bloom and die: but Maidenhood for ever
Walks the eternal Spring in everlasting Dawn.
Hyperion. Book I
Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
Far from the fiery noon, and eve's one star,
Sat gray-hair'd Saturn, quiet as a stone,
Still as the silence round about his lair;
Forest on forest hung above his head
Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there,
Not so much life as on a summer's day
Robs not one light seed from the feather'd grass,
But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.
A stream went voiceless by, still deadened more
By reason of his fallen divinity
Spreading a shade: the Naiad 'mid her reeds
Press'd her cold finger closer to her lips.
Along the margin-sand large foot-marks went,
No further than to where his feet had stray'd,
And slept there since. Upon the sodden ground
His old right hand lay nerveless, listless, dead,
Unsceptred; and his realmless eyes were closed;
While his bow'd head seem'd list'ning to the Earth,
His ancient mother, for some comfort yet.
It seem'd no force could wake him from his place;
But there came one, who with a kindred hand
Touch'd his wide shoulders, after bending low
With reverence, though to one who knew it not.
She was a Goddess of the infant world;
By her in stature the tall Amazon
Had stood a pigmy's height: she would have ta'en
Achilles by the hair and bent his neck;
Or with a finger stay'd Ixion's wheel.
Her face was large as that of Memphian sphinx,
Pedestal'd haply in a palace court,
When sages look'd to Egypt for their lore.
But oh! how unlike marble was that face:
How beautiful, if sorrow had not made
Sorrow more beautiful than Beauty's self.
There was a listening fear in her regard,
As if calamity had but begun;
As if the vanward clouds of evil days
Had spent their malice, and the sullen rear
Was with its stored thunder labouring up.
One hand she press'd upon that aching spot
Where beats the human heart, as if just there,
Though an immortal, she felt cruel pain:
The other upon Saturn's bended neck
She laid, and to the level of his ear
Leaning with parted lips, some words she spake
In solemn tenor and deep organ tone:
Some mourning words, which in our feeble tongue
Would come in these like accents; O how frail
To that large utterance of the early Gods!
'Saturn, look up!--though wherefore, poor old King?
I have no comfort for thee, no not one:
I cannot say, 'O wherefore sleepest thou?'
For heaven is parted from thee, and the earth
Knows thee not, thus afflicted, for a God;
And ocean too, with all its solemn noise,
Has from thy sceptre pass'd; and all the air
Is emptied of thine hoary majesty.
Thy thunder, conscious of the new command,
Rumbles reluctant o'er our fallen house;
And thy sharp lightning in unpractised hands
Scorches and burns our once serene domain.
O aching time! O moments big as years!
All as ye pass swell out the monstrous truth,
And press it so upon our weary griefs
That unbelief has not a space to breathe.
Saturn, sleep on:--O thoughtless, why did I
Thus violate thy slumbrous solitude?
Why should I ope thy melancholy eyes?
Saturn, sleep on! while at thy feet I weep.'
As when, upon a tranced summer-night,
Those green-rob'd senators of mighty woods,
Tall oaks, branch-charmed by the earnest stars,
Dream, and so dream all night without a stir,
Save from one gradual solitary gust
Which comes upon the silence, and dies off,
As if the ebbing air had but one wave;
So came these words and went; the while in tears
She touch'd her fair large forehead to the ground,
Just where her fallen hair might be outspread
A soft and silken mat for Saturn's feet.
One moon, with alteration slow, had shed
Her silver seasons four upon the night,
And still these two were postured motionless,
Like natural sculpture in cathedral cavern;
The frozen God still couchant on the earth,
And the sad Goddess weeping at his feet:
Until at length old Saturn lifted up
His faded eyes, and saw his kingdom gone,
And all the gloom and sorrow ofthe place,
And that fair kneeling Goddess; and then spake,
As with a palsied tongue, and while his beard
Shook horrid with such aspen-malady:
'O tender spouse of gold Hyperion,
Thea, I feel thee ere I see thy face;
Look up, and let me see our doom in it;
Look up, and tell me if this feeble shape
Is Saturn's; tell me, if thou hear'st the voice
Of Saturn; tell me, if this wrinkling brow,
Naked and bare of its great diadem,
Peers like the front of Saturn? Who had power
To make me desolate? Whence came the strength?
How was it nurtur'd to such bursting forth,
While Fate seem'd strangled in my nervous grasp?
But it is so; and I am smother'd up,
And buried from all godlike exercise
Of influence benign on planets pale,
Of admonitions to the winds and seas,
Of peaceful sway above man's harvesting,
And all those acts which Deity supreme
Doth ease its heart of love in.--I am gone
Away from my own bosom: I have left
My strong identity, my real self,
Somewhere between the throne, and where I sit
Here on this spot of earth. Search, Thea, search!
Open thine eyes eterne, and sphere them round
Upon all space: space starr'd, and lorn of light;
Space region'd with life-air; and barren void;
Spaces of fire, and all the yawn of hell.--
Search, Thea, search! and tell me, if thou seest
A certain shape or shadow, making way
With wings or chariot fierce to repossess
A heaven he lost erewhile: it must--it must
Be of ripe progress--Saturn must be King.
Yes, there must be a golden victory;
There must be Gods thrown down, and trumpets blown
Of triumph calm, and hymns of festival
Upon the gold clouds metropolitan,
Voices of soft proclaim, and silver stir
Of strings in hollow shells; and there shall be
Beautiful things made new, for the surprise
Of the sky-children; I will give command:
Thea! Thea! Thea! where is Saturn?'
This passion lifted him upon his feet,
And made his hands to struggle in the air,
His Druid locks to shake and ooze with sweat,
His eyes to fever out, his voice to cease.
He stood, and heard not Thea's sobbing deep;
A little time, and then again he snatch'd
Utterance thus.--'But cannot I create?
Cannot I form? Cannot I fashion forth
Another world, another universe,
To overbear and crumble this to nought?
Where is another Chaos? Where?'--That word
Found way unto Olympus, and made quake
The rebel three.--Thea was startled up,
And in her bearing was a sort of hope,
As thus she quick-voic'd spake, yet full of awe.
'This cheers our fallen house: come to our friends,
O Saturn! come away, and give them heart;
I know the covert, for thence came I hither.'
Thus brief; then with beseeching eyes she went
With backward footing through the shade a space:
He follow'd, and she turn'd to lead the way
Through aged boughs, that yielded like the mist
Which eagles cleave upmounting from their nest.
Meanwhile in other realms big tears were shed,
More sorrow like to this, and such like woe,
Too huge for mortal tongue or pen of scribe:
The Titans fierce, self-hid, or prison-bound,
Groan'd for the old allegiance once more,
And listen'd in sharp pain for Saturn's voice.
But one of the whole mammoth-brood still kept
His sov'reigny, and rule, and majesy;--
Blazing Hyperion on his orbed fire
Still sat, still snuff'd the incense, teeming up
From man to the sun's God: yet unsecure:
For as among us mortals omens drear
Fright and perplex, so also shuddered he--
Not at dog's howl, or gloom-bird's hated screech,
Or the familiar visiting of one
Upon the first toll of his passing-bell,
Or prophesyings of the midnight lamp;
But horrors, portion'd to a giant nerve,
Oft made Hyperion ache. His palace bright,
Bastion'd with pyramids of glowing gold,
And touch'd with shade of bronzed obelisks,
Glar'd a blood-red through all its thousand courts,
Arches, and domes, and fiery galleries;
And all its curtains of Aurorian clouds
Flush'd angerly: while sometimes eagles' wings,
Unseen before by Gods or wondering men,
Darken'd the place; and neighing steeds were heard
Not heard before by Gods or wondering men.
Also, when he would taste the spicy wreaths
Of incense, breath'd aloft from sacred hills,
Instead of sweets, his ample palate took
Savor of poisonous brass and metal sick:
And so, when harbor'd in the sleepy west,
After the full completion of fair day,--
For rest divine upon exalted couch,
And slumber in the arms of melody,
He pac'd away the pleasant hours of ease
With stride colossal, on from hall to hall;
While far within each aisle and deep recess,
His winged minions in close clusters stood,
Amaz'd and full offear; like anxious men
Who on wide plains gather in panting troops,
When earthquakes jar their battlements and towers.
Even now, while Saturn, rous'd from icy trance,
Went step for step with Thea through the woods,
Hyperion, leaving twilight in the rear,
Came slope upon the threshold of the west;
Then, as was wont, his palace-door flew ope
In smoothest silence, save what solemn tubes,
Blown by the serious Zephyrs, gave of sweet
And wandering sounds, slow-breathed melodies;
And like a rose in vermeil tint and shape,
In fragrance soft, and coolness to the eye,
That inlet to severe magnificence
Stood full blown, for the God to enter in.
He enter'd, but he enter'd full of wrath;
His flaming robes stream'd out beyond his heels,
And gave a roar, as if of earthly fire,
That scar'd away the meek ethereal Hours
And made their dove-wings tremble. On he flared
From stately nave to nave, from vault to vault,
Through bowers of fragrant and enwreathed light,
And diamond-paved lustrous long arcades,
Until he reach'd the great main cupola;
There standing fierce beneath, he stampt his foot,
And from the basements deep to the high towers
Jarr'd his own golden region; and before
The quavering thunder thereupon had ceas'd,
His voice leapt out, despite of godlike curb,
To this result: 'O dreams of day and night!
O monstrous forms! O effigies of pain!
O spectres busy in a cold, cold gloom!
O lank-eared phantoms of black-weeded pools!
Why do I know ye? why have I seen ye? why
Is my eternal essence thus distraught
To see and to behold these horrors new?
Saturn is fallen, am I too to fall?
Am I to leave this haven of my rest,
This cradle of my glory, this soft clime,
This calm luxuriance of blissful light,
These crystalline pavilions, and pure fanes,
Of all my lucent empire? It is left
Deserted, void, nor any haunt of mine.
The blaze, the splendor, and the symmetry,
I cannot see but darkness, death, and darkness.
Even here, into my centre of repose,
The shady visions come to domineer,
Insult, and blind, and stifle up my pomp.--
Fall!--No, by Tellus and her briny robes!
Over the fiery frontier of my realms
I will advance a terrible right arm
Shall scare that infant thunderer, rebel Jove,
And bid old Saturn take his throne again.'--
He spake, and ceas'd, the while a heavier threat
Held struggle with his throat but came not forth;
For as in theatres of crowded men
Hubbub increases more they call out 'Hush!'
So at Hyperion's words the phantoms pale
Bestirr'd themselves, thrice horrible and cold;
And from the mirror'd level where he stood
A mist arose, as from a scummy marsh.
At this, through all his bulk an agony
Crept gradual, from the feet unto the crown,
Like a lithe serpent vast and muscular
Making slow way, with head and neck convuls'd
From over-strained might. Releas'd, he fled
To the eastern gates, and full six dewy hours
Before the dawn in season due should blush,
He breath'd fierce breath against the sleepy portals,
Clear'd them of heavy vapours, burst them wide
Suddenly on the ocean's chilly streams.
The planet orb of fire, whereon he rode
Each day from east to west the heavens through,
Spun round in sable curtaining of clouds;
Not therefore veiled quite, blindfold, and hid,
But ever and anon the glancing spheres,
Circles, and arcs, and broad-belting colure,
Glow'd through, and wrought upon the muffling dark
Sweet-shaped lightnings from the nadir deep
Up to the zenith,--hieroglyphics old,
Which sages and keen-eyed astrologers
Then living on the earth, with laboring thought
Won from the gaze of many centuries:
Now lost, save what we find on remnants huge
Of stone, or rnarble swart; their import gone,
Their wisdom long since fled.--Two wings this orb
Possess'd for glory, two fair argent wings,
Ever exalted at the God's approach:
And now, from forth the gloom their plumes immense
Rose, one by one, till all outspreaded were;
While still the dazzling globe maintain'd eclipse,
Awaiting for Hyperion's command.
Fain would he have commanded, fain took throne
And bid the day begin, if but for change.
He might not:--No, though a primeval God:
The sacred seasons might not be disturb'd.
Therefore the operations of the dawn
Stay'd in their birth, even as here 'tis told.
Those silver wings expanded sisterly,
Eager to sail their orb; the porches wide
Open'd upon the dusk demesnes of night
And the bright Titan, phrenzied with new woes,
Unus'd to bend, by hard compulsion bent
His spirit to the sorrow of the time;
And all along a dismal rack of clouds,
Upon the boundaries of day and night,
He stretch'd himself in grief and radiance faint.
There as he lay, the Heaven with its stars
Look'd down on him with pity, and the voice
Of Coelus, from the universal space,
Thus whisper'd low and solemn in his ear:
'O brightest of my children dear, earth-born
And sky-engendered, son of mysteries
All unrevealed even to the powers
Which met at thy creating; at whose joys
And palpitations sweet, and pleasures soft,
I, Coelus, wonder, how they came and whence;
And at the fruits thereof what shapes they be,
Distinct, and visible; symbols divine,
Manifestations of that beauteous life
Diffus'd unseen throughout eternal space:
Of these new-form'd art thou, O brightest child!
Of these, thy brethren and the Goddesses!
There is sad feud among ye, and rebellion
Of son against his sire. I saw him fall,
I saw my first-born tumbled from his throne!
To me his arms were spread, to me his voice
Found way from forth the thunders round his head!
Pale wox I, and in vapours hid my face.
Art thou, too, near such doom? vague fear there is:
For I have seen my sons most unlike Gods.
Divine ye were created, and divine
In sad demeanour, solemn, undisturb'd,
Unruffled, like high Gods, ye liv'd and ruled:
Now I behold in you fear, hope, and wrath;
Actions of rage and passion; even as
I see them, on the mortal world beneath,
In men who die.--This is the grief, O son!
Sad sign of ruin, sudden dismay, and fall!
Yet do thou strive; as thou art capable,
As thou canst move about, an evident God;
And canst oppose to each malignant hour
Ethereal presence:--I am but a voice;
My life is but the life of winds and tides,
No more than winds and tides can I avail:--
But thou canst.--Be thou therefore in the van
Of circumstance; yea, seize the arrow's barb
Before the tense string murmur.--To the earth!
For there thou wilt find Saturn, and his woes.
Meantime I will keep watch on thy bright sun,
And of thy seasons be a careful nurse.'--
Ere half this region-whisper had come down,
Hyperion arose, and on the stars
Lifted his curved lids, and kept them wide
Until it ceas'd; and still he kept them wide:
And still they were the same bright, patient stars.
Then with a slow incline of his broad breast,
Like to a diver in the pearly seas,
Forward he stoop'd over the airy shore,
And plung'd all noiseless into the deep night.
by John Keats.
Lamia. Part I
Upon a time, before the faery broods
Drove Nymph and Satyr from the prosperous woods,
Before King Oberon's bright diadem,
Sceptre, and mantle, clasp'd with dewy gem,
Frighted away the Dryads and the Fauns
From rushes green, and brakes, and cowslip'd lawns,
The ever-smitten Hermes empty left
His golden throne, bent warm on amorous theft:
From high Olympus had he stolen light,
On this side of Jove's clouds, to escape the sight
Of his great summoner, and made retreat
Into a forest on the shores of Crete.
For somewhere in that sacred island dwelt
A nymph, to whom all hoofed Satyrs knelt;
At whose white feet the languid Tritons poured
Pearls, while on land they wither’d and adored.
Fast by the springs where she to bathe was wont,
And in those meads where sometime she might haunt,
Were strewn rich gifts, unknown to any Muse,
Though Fancy’s casket were unlock’d to choose.
Ah, what a world of love was at her feet!
So Hermes thought, and a celestial heat
Burnt from his winged heels to either ear,
That from a whiteness, as the lily clear,
Blush’d into roses ’mid his golden hair,
Fallen in jealous curls about his shoulders bare.
From vale to vale, from wood to wood, he flew,
Breathing upon the flowers his passion new,
And wound with many a river to its head,
To find where this sweet nymph prepar’d her secret bed:
In vain; the sweet nymph might nowhere be found,
And so he rested, on the lonely ground,
Pensive, and full of painful jealousies
Of the Wood-Gods, and even the very trees.
There as he stood, he heard a mournful voice,
Such as once heard, in gentle heart, destroys
All pain but pity: thus the lone voice spake:
“When from this wreathed tomb shall I awake!
“When move in a sweet body fit for life,
“And love, and pleasure, and the ruddy strife
“Of hearts and lips! Ah, miserable me!”
The God, dove-footed, glided silently
Round bush and tree, soft-brushing, in his speed,
The taller grasses and full-flowering weed,
Until he found a palpitating snake,
Bright, and cirque-couchant in a dusky brake.
She was a gordian shape of dazzling hue,
Vermilion-spotted, golden, green, and blue;
Striped like a zebra, freckled like a pard,
Eyed like a peacock, and all crimson barr’d;
And full of silver moons, that, as she breathed,
Dissolv’d, or brighter shone, or interwreathed
Their lustres with the gloomier tapestries—
So rainbow-sided, touch’d with miseries,
She seem’d, at once, some penanced lady elf,
Some demon’s mistress, or the demon’s self.
Upon her crest she wore a wannish fire
Sprinkled with stars, like Ariadne’s tiar:
Her head was serpent, but ah, bitter-sweet!
She had a woman’s mouth with all its pearls complete:
And for her eyes: what could such eyes do there
But weep, and weep, that they were born so fair?
As Proserpine still weeps for her Sicilian air.
Her throat was serpent, but the words she spake
Came, as through bubbling honey, for Love’s sake,
And thus; while Hermes on his pinions lay,
Like a stoop’d falcon ere he takes his prey.
“Fair Hermes, crown’d with feathers, fluttering light,
“I had a splendid dream of thee last night:
“I saw thee sitting, on a throne of gold,
“Among the Gods, upon Olympus old,
“The only sad one; for thou didst not hear
“The soft, lute-finger’d Muses chaunting clear,
“Nor even Apollo when he sang alone,
“Deaf to his throbbing throat’s long, long melodious moan.
“I dreamt I saw thee, robed in purple flakes,
“Break amorous through the clouds, as morning breaks,
“And, swiftly as a bright Phoebean dart,
“Strike for the Cretan isle; and here thou art!
“Too gentle Hermes, hast thou found the maid?”
Whereat the star of Lethe not delay’d
His rosy eloquence, and thus inquired:
“Thou smooth-lipp’d serpent, surely high inspired!
“Thou beauteous wreath, with melancholy eyes,
“Possess whatever bliss thou canst devise,
“Telling me only where my nymph is fled,—
“Where she doth breathe!” “Bright planet, thou hast said,”
Return’d the snake, “but seal with oaths, fair God!”
“I swear,” said Hermes, “by my serpent rod,
“And by thine eyes, and by thy starry crown!”
Light flew his earnest words, among the blossoms blown.
Then thus again the brilliance feminine:
“Too frail of heart! for this lost nymph of thine,
“Free as the air, invisibly, she strays
“About these thornless wilds; her pleasant days
“She tastes unseen; unseen her nimble feet
“Leave traces in the grass and flowers sweet;
“From weary tendrils, and bow’d branches green,
“She plucks the fruit unseen, she bathes unseen:
“And by my power is her beauty veil’d
“To keep it unaffronted, unassail’d
“By the love-glances of unlovely eyes,
“Of Satyrs, Fauns, and blear’d Silenus’ sighs.
“Pale grew her immortality, for woe
“Of all these lovers, and she grieved so
“I took compassion on her, bade her steep
“Her hair in weird syrops, that would keep
“Her loveliness invisible, yet free
“To wander as she loves, in liberty.
“Thou shalt behold her, Hermes, thou alone,
“If thou wilt, as thou swearest, grant my boon!”
Then, once again, the charmed God began
An oath, and through the serpent’s ears it ran
Warm, tremulous, devout, psalterian.
Ravish’d, she lifted her Circean head,
Blush’d a live damask, and swift-lisping said,
“I was a woman, let me have once more
“A woman’s shape, and charming as before.
“I love a youth of Corinth—O the bliss!
“Give me my woman’s form, and place me where he is.
“Stoop, Hermes, let me breathe upon thy brow,
“And thou shalt see thy sweet nymph even now.”
The God on half-shut feathers sank serene,
She breath’d upon his eyes, and swift was seen
Of both the guarded nymph near-smiling on the green.
It was no dream; or say a dream it was,
Real are the dreams of Gods, and smoothly pass
Their pleasures in a long immortal dream.
One warm, flush’d moment, hovering, it might seem
Dash’d by the wood-nymph’s beauty, so he burn’d;
Then, lighting on the printless verdure, turn’d
To the swoon’d serpent, and with languid arm,
Delicate, put to proof the lythe Caducean charm.
So done, upon the nymph his eyes he bent,
Full of adoring tears and blandishment,
And towards her stept: she, like a moon in wane,
Faded before him, cower’d, nor could restrain
Her fearful sobs, self-folding like a flower
That faints into itself at evening hour:
But the God fostering her chilled hand,
She felt the warmth, her eyelids open’d bland,
And, like new flowers at morning song of bees,
Bloom’d, and gave up her honey to the lees.
Into the green-recessed woods they flew;
Nor grew they pale, as mortal lovers do.
Left to herself, the serpent now began
To change; her elfin blood in madness ran,
Her mouth foam’d, and the grass, therewith besprent,
Wither’d at dew so sweet and virulent;
Her eyes in torture fix’d, and anguish drear,
Hot, glaz’d, and wide, with lid-lashes all sear,
Flash’d phosphor and sharp sparks, without one cooling tear.
The colours all inflam’d throughout her train,
She writh’d about, convuls’d with scarlet pain:
A deep volcanian yellow took the place
Of all her milder-mooned body’s grace;
And, as the lava ravishes the mead,
Spoilt all her silver mail, and golden brede;
Made gloom of all her frecklings, streaks and bars,
Eclips’d her crescents, and lick’d up her stars:
So that, in moments few, she was undrest
Of all her sapphires, greens, and amethyst,
And rubious-argent: of all these bereft,
Nothing but pain and ugliness were left.
Still shone her crown; that vanish’d, also she
Melted and disappear’d as suddenly;
And in the air, her new voice luting soft,
Cried, “Lycius! gentle Lycius!”—Borne aloft
With the bright mists about the mountains hoar
These words dissolv’d: Crete’s forests heard no more.
Whither fled Lamia, now a lady bright,
A full-born beauty new and exquisite?
She fled into that valley they pass o’er
Who go to Corinth from Cenchreas’ shore;
And rested at the foot of those wild hills,
The rugged founts of the Peraean rills,
And of that other ridge whose barren back
Stretches, with all its mist and cloudy rack,
South-westward to Cleone. There she stood
About a young bird’s flutter from a wood,
Fair, on a sloping green of mossy tread,
By a clear pool, wherein she passioned
To see herself escap’d from so sore ills,
While her robes flaunted with the daffodils.
Ah, happy Lycius!—for she was a maid
More beautiful than ever twisted braid,
Or sigh’d, or blush’d, or on spring-flowered lea
Spread a green kirtle to the minstrelsy:
A virgin purest lipp’d, yet in the lore
Of love deep learned to the red heart’s core:
Not one hour old, yet of sciential brain
To unperplex bliss from its neighbour pain;
Define their pettish limits, and estrange
Their points of contact, and swift counterchange;
Intrigue with the specious chaos, and dispart
Its most ambiguous atoms with sure art;
As though in Cupid’s college she had spent
Sweet days a lovely graduate, still unshent,
And kept his rosy terms in idle languishment.
Why this fair creature chose so fairily
By the wayside to linger, we shall see;
But first ’tis fit to tell how she could muse
And dream, when in the serpent prison-house,
Of all she list, strange or magnificent:
How, ever, where she will’d, her spirit went;
Whether to faint Elysium, or where
Down through tress-lifting waves the Nereids fair
Wind into Thetis’ bower by many a pearly stair;
Or where God Bacchus drains his cups divine,
Stretch’d out, at ease, beneath a glutinous pine;
Or where in Pluto’s gardens palatine
Mulciber’s columns gleam in far piazzian line.
And sometimes into cities she would send
Her dream, with feast and rioting to blend;
And once, while among mortals dreaming thus,
She saw the young Corinthian Lycius
Charioting foremost in the envious race,
Like a young Jove with calm uneager face,
And fell into a swooning love of him.
Now on the moth-time of that evening dim
He would return that way, as well she knew,
To Corinth from the shore; for freshly blew
The eastern soft wind, and his galley now
Grated the quaystones with her brazen prow
In port Cenchreas, from Egina isle
Fresh anchor’d; whither he had been awhile
To sacrifice to Jove, whose temple there
Waits with high marble doors for blood and incense rare.
Jove heard his vows, and better’d his desire;
For by some freakful chance he made retire
From his companions, and set forth to walk,
Perhaps grown wearied of their Corinth talk:
Over the solitary hills he fared,
Thoughtless at first, but ere eve’s star appeared
His phantasy was lost, where reason fades,
In the calm’d twilight of Platonic shades.
Lamia beheld him coming, near, more near—
Close to her passing, in indifference drear,
His silent sandals swept the mossy green;
So neighbour’d to him, and yet so unseen
She stood: he pass’d, shut up in mysteries,
His mind wrapp’d like his mantle, while her eyes
Follow’d his steps, and her neck regal white
Turn’d—syllabling thus, “Ah, Lycius bright,
“And will you leave me on the hills alone?
“Lycius, look back! and be some pity shown.”
He did; not with cold wonder fearingly,
But Orpheus-like at an Eurydice;
For so delicious were the words she sung,
It seem’d he had lov’d them a whole summer long:
And soon his eyes had drunk her beauty up,
Leaving no drop in the bewildering cup,
And still the cup was full,—while he afraid
Lest she should vanish ere his lip had paid
Due adoration, thus began to adore;
Her soft look growing coy, she saw his chain so sure:
“Leave thee alone! Look back! Ah, Goddess, see
“Whether my eyes can ever turn from thee!
“For pity do not this sad heart belie—
“Even as thou vanishest so I shall die.
“Stay! though a Naiad of the rivers, stay!
“To thy far wishes will thy streams obey:
“Stay! though the greenest woods be thy domain,
“Alone they can drink up the morning rain:
“Though a descended Pleiad, will not one
“Of thine harmonious sisters keep in tune
“Thy spheres, and as thy silver proxy shine?
“So sweetly to these ravish’d ears of mine
“Came thy sweet greeting, that if thou shouldst fade
“Thy memory will waste me to a shade:—
“For pity do not melt!”—“If I should stay,”
Said Lamia, “here, upon this floor of clay,
“And pain my steps upon these flowers too rough,
“What canst thou say or do of charm enough
“To dull the nice remembrance of my home?
“Thou canst not ask me with thee here to roam
“Over these hills and vales, where no joy is,—
“Empty of immortality and bliss!
“Thou art a scholar, Lycius, and must know
“That finer spirits cannot breathe below
“In human climes, and live: Alas! poor youth,
“What taste of purer air hast thou to soothe
“My essence? What serener palaces,
“Where I may all my many senses please,
“And by mysterious sleights a hundred thirsts appease?
“It cannot be—Adieu!” So said, she rose
Tiptoe with white arms spread. He, sick to lose
The amorous promise of her lone complain,
Swoon’d, murmuring of love, and pale with pain.
The cruel lady, without any show
Of sorrow for her tender favourite’s woe,
But rather, if her eyes could brighter be,
With brighter eyes and slow amenity,
Put her new lips to his, and gave afresh
The life she had so tangled in her mesh:
And as he from one trance was wakening
Into another, she began to sing,
Happy in beauty, life, and love, and every thing,
A song of love, too sweet for earthly lyres,
While, like held breath, the stars drew in their panting fires
And then she whisper’d in such trembling tone,
As those who, safe together met alone
For the first time through many anguish’d days,
Use other speech than looks; bidding him raise
His drooping head, and clear his soul of doubt,
For that she was a woman, and without
Any more subtle fluid in her veins
Than throbbing blood, and that the self-same pains
Inhabited her frail-strung heart as his.
And next she wonder’d how his eyes could miss
Her face so long in Corinth, where, she said,
She dwelt but half retir’d, and there had led
Days happy as the gold coin could invent
Without the aid of love; yet in content
Till she saw him, as once she pass’d him by,
Where ’gainst a column he leant thoughtfully
At Venus’ temple porch, ’mid baskets heap’d
Of amorous herbs and flowers, newly reap’d
Late on that eve, as ’twas the night before
The Adonian feast; whereof she saw no more,
But wept alone those days, for why should she adore?
Lycius from death awoke into amaze,
To see her still, and singing so sweet lays;
Then from amaze into delight he fell
To hear her whisper woman’s lore so well;
And every word she spake entic’d him on
To unperplex’d delight and pleasure known.
Let the mad poets say whate’er they please
Of the sweets of Fairies, Peris, Goddesses,
There is not such a treat among them all,
Haunters of cavern, lake, and waterfall,
As a real woman, lineal indeed
From Pyrrha’s pebbles or old Adam’s seed.
Thus gentle Lamia judg’d, and judg’d aright,
That Lycius could not love in half a fright,
So threw the goddess off, and won his heart
More pleasantly by playing woman’s part,
With no more awe than what her beauty gave,
That, while it smote, still guaranteed to save.
Lycius to all made eloquent reply,
Marrying to every word a twinborn sigh;
And last, pointing to Corinth, ask’d her sweet,
If ’twas too far that night for her soft feet.
The way was short, for Lamia’s eagerness
Made, by a spell, the triple league decrease
To a few paces; not at all surmised
By blinded Lycius, so in her comprized.
They pass’d the city gates, he knew not how
So noiseless, and he never thought to know.
As men talk in a dream, so Corinth all,
Throughout her palaces imperial,
And all her populous streets and temples lewd,
Mutter’d, like tempest in the distance brew’d,
To the wide-spreaded night above her towers.
Men, women, rich and poor, in the cool hours,
Shuffled their sandals o’er the pavement white,
Companion’d or alone; while many a light
Flared, here and there, from wealthy festivals,
And threw their moving shadows on the walls,
Or found them cluster’d in the corniced shade
Of some arch’d temple door, or dusky colonnade.
Muffling his face, of greeting friends in fear,
Her fingers he press’d hard, as one came near
With curl’d gray beard, sharp eyes, and smooth bald crown,
Slow-stepp’d, and robed in philosophic gown:
Lycius shrank closer, as they met and past,
Into his mantle, adding wings to haste,
While hurried Lamia trembled: “Ah,” said he,
“Why do you shudder, love, so ruefully?
“Why does your tender palm dissolve in dew?”—
“I’m wearied,” said fair Lamia: “tell me who
“Is that old man? I cannot bring to mind
“His features:—Lycius! wherefore did you blind
“Yourself from his quick eyes?” Lycius replied,
“’Tis Apollonius sage, my trusty guide
“And good instructor; but to-night he seems
“The ghost of folly haunting my sweet dreams.
While yet he spake they had arrived before
A pillar'd porch, with lofty portal door,
Where hung a silver lamp, whose phosphor glow
Reflected in the slabbed steps below,
Mild as a star in water; for so new,
And so unsullied was the marble hue,
So through the crystal polish, liquid fine,
Ran the dark veins, that none but feet divine
Could e'er have touch'd there. Sounds Aeolian
Breath'd from the hinges, as the ample span
Of the wide doors disclos'd a place unknown
Some time to any, but those two alone,
And a few Persian mutes, who that same year
Were seen about the markets: none knew where
They could inhabit; the most curious
Were foil'd, who watch'd to trace them to their house:
And but the flitter-winged verse must tell,
For truth's sake, what woe afterwards befel,
'Twould humour many a heart to leave them thus,
Shut from the busy world of more incredulous.
by John Keats.
The Eve Of St. Agnes
ST Agnes' Eve---Ah, bitter chill it was!
The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen grass,
And silent was the flock in woolly fold:
Numb were the Beadsman's fingers, while he told
His rosary, and while his frosted breath,
Like pious incense from a censer old,
Seem'd taking flight for heaven, without a death,
Past the sweet Virgin's picture, while his prayer he saith.
His prayer he saith, this patient, holy man;
Then takes his lamp, and riseth from his knees,
And back returneth, meagre, barefoot, wan,
Along the chapel aisle by slow degrees:
The sculptur'd dead, on each side, seem to freeze,
Emprison'd in black, purgatorial rails:
Knights, ladies, praying in dumb orat'ries,
He passeth by; and his weak spirit fails
To think how they may ache in icy hoods and mails.
Northward he turneth through a little door,
And scarce three steps, ere Music's golden tongue
Flatter'd to tears this aged man and poor;
But no---already had his deathbell rung
The joys of all his life were said and sung:
His was harsh penance on St. Agnes' Eve:
Another way he went, and soon among
Rough ashes sat he for his soul's reprieve,
And all night kept awake, for sinners' sake to grieve.
That ancient Beadsman heard the prelude soft;
And so it chanc'd, for many a door was wide,
From hurry to and fro. Soon, up aloft,
The silver, snarling trumpets 'gan to chide:
The level chambers, ready with their pride,
Were glowing to receive a thousand guests:
The carved angels, ever eager-eyed,
Star'd, where upon their heads the cornice rests,
With hair blown back, and wings put cross-wise on their breasts.
At length burst in the argent revelry,
With plume, tiara, and all rich array,
Numerous as shadows haunting fairily
The brain, new-stuff'd, in youth, with triumphs gay
Of old romance. These let us wish away,
And turn, sole-thoughted, to one lady there,
Whose heart had brooded, all that wintry day,
On love, and wing'd St Agnes' saintly care,
As she had heard old dames full rnany times declare.
They told her how, upon St Agnes' Eve,
Young virgins might have visions of delight,
And soft adorings from their loves receive
Upon the honey'd middle of the night,
If ceremonies due they did aright;
As, supperless to bed they must retire,
And couch supine their beauties, lily white;
Nor look behind, nor sideways, but require
Of Heaven with upward eyes for all that they desire.
Full of this whim was thoughtful Madeline:
The music, yearning like a God in pain,
She scarcely heard: her maiden eyes divine,
Fix'd on the floor, saw many a sweeping train
Pass by---she heeded not at all: in vain
Came many a tiptoe, amorous cavalier,
And back retir'd; not cool'd by high disdain,
But she saw not: her heart was otherwhere;
She sigh'd for Agnes' dreams, the sweetest of the year.
She danc'd along with vague, regardless eyes,
Anxious her lips, her breathing quick and short:
The hallow'd hour was near at hand: she sighs
Amid the timbrels, and the throng'd resort
Of whisperers in anger, or in sport;
'Mid looks of love, defiance, hate, and scorn,
Hoodwink'd with faery fancy; all amort,
Save to St Agnes and her lambs unshorn,
And all the bliss to be before to-morrow morn.
So, purposing each moment to retire,
She linger'd still. Meantime, across the moors,
Had come young Porphyro, with heart on fire
For Madeline. Beside the portal doors,
Buttress'd from moonlight, stands he, and implores
All saints to give him sight of Madeline,
But for one moment in the tedious hours,
That he might gaze and worship all unseen;
Perchance speak, kneel, touch, kiss---in sooth such things have been.
He ventures in: let no buzz'd whisper tell:
All eyes be muffled, or a hundred swords
Will storm his heart, Love's fev'rous citadel:
For him, those chambers held barbarian hordes,
Hyena foemen, and hot-blooded lords,
Whose very dogs would execrations howl
Against his lineage: not one breast affords
Him any mercy, in that mansion foul,
Save one old beldame, weak in body and in soul.
Ah, happy chance! the aged creature came,
Shuffling along with ivory-headed wand,
To where he stood, hid from the torch's flame,
Behind a broad hall-pillar, far beyond
The sound of merriment and chorus bland.
He startled her; but soon she knew his face,
And grasp'd his fingers in her palsied hand,
Saying, "Mercy, Porphyro! hie thee from this place;
"They are all here to-night, the whole blood-thirsty race!
"Get hence! get hence! there's dwarfish Hildebrand;
He had a fever late, and in the fit
He cursed thee and thine, both house and land:
Then there's that old Lord Maurice, not a whit
More tame for his gray hairs---Alas me! flit!
Flit like a ghost away."---"Ah, gossip dear,
We're safe enough; here in this arm-chair sit,
And tell me how"---"Good saints! not here, not here;
Follow me, child, or else these stones will be thy bier."
He follow'd through a lowly arched way,
Brushing the cobwebs with his lofty plume,
And as she mutter'd "Well-a---well-a-day!"
He found him in a little moonlight room,
Pale, lattic'd, chill, and silent as a tomb.
"Now tell me where is Madeline", said he,
"O tell me, Angela, by the holy loom
Which none but secret sisterhood may see,
"When they St Agnes' wool are weaving piously."
"St Agnes! Ah! it is St Agnes' Eve---
Yet men will murder upon holy days:
Thou must hold water in a witch's sieve,
And be liege-lord of all the Elves and Fays
To venture so: it fills me with amaze
To see thee, Porphyro!---St Agnes' Eve!
God's help! my lady fair the conjuror plays
This very night: good angels her deceive!
But let me laugh awhile, I've mickle time to grieve."
Feebly she laugheth in the languid moon,
While Porphyro upon her face doth look,
Like puzzled urchin on an aged crone
Who keepeth clos'd a wondrous riddle-book,
As spectacled she sits in chimney nook.
But soon his eyes grew brilliant, when she told
His lady's purpose; and he scarce could brook
Tears, at the thought of those enchantments cold
And Madeline asleep in lap of legends old.
Sudden a thought came like a full-blown rose,
Flushing his brow, and in his pained heart
Made purple riot: then doth he propose
A stratagem, that makes the beldame start:
"A cruel man and impious thou art:
Sweet lady, let her pray, and sleep, and dream
Alone with her good angels, far apart
From wicked men like thee. Go, go!---I deem
Thou canst not surely be the same that thou didst seem."
"I will not harm her, by all saints I swear,"
Quoth Porphyro: "O may I ne'er find grace
When my weak voice shall whisper its last prayer,
If one of her soft ringlets I displace,
Or look with ruffian passion in her face:
Good Angela, believe me by these tears;
Or I will, even in a moment's space,
Awake, with horrid shout, my foemen's ears,
And beard them, though they be more fang'd than wolves and bears."
"Ah! why wilt thou affright a feeble soul?
A poor, weak, palsy-stricken, churchyard thing,
Whose passing-bell may ere the midnight toll;
Whose prayers for thee, each morn and evening,
Were never miss'd." Thus plaining, doth she bring
A gentler speech from burning Porphyro;
So woeful, and of such deep sorrowing,
That Angela gives promise she will do
Whatever he shall wish, betide her weal or woe.
Which was, to lead him, in close secrecy,
Even to Madeline's chamber, and there hide
Him in a closet, of such privacy
That he might see her beauty unespied,
And win perhaps that night a peerless bride,
While legion'd fairies pac'd the coverlet,
And pale enchantment held her sleepy-eyed.
Never on such a night have lovers met,
Since Merlin paid his Demon all the monstrous debt.
"It shall be as thou wishest," said the Dame:
"All cates and dainties shall be stored there
Quickly on this feast-night: by the tambour frame
Her own lute thou wilt see: no time to spare,
For I am slow and feeble, and scarce dare
On such a catering trust my dizzy head.
Wait here, my child, with patience; kneel in prayer
The while: Ah! thou must needs the lady wed,
Or may I never leave my grave among the dead."
So saying, she hobbled off with busy fear.
The lover's endless minutes slowly pass'd;
The Dame return'd, and whisper'd in his ear
To follow her; with aged eyes aghast
From fright of dim espial. Safe at last
Through many a dusky gallery, they gain
The maiden's chamber, silken, hush'd and chaste;
Where Porphyro took covert, pleas'd amain.
His poor guide hurried back with agues in her brain.
Her falt'ring hand upon the balustrade,
Old Angela was feeling for the stair,
When Madeline, St Agnes' charmed maid,
Rose, like a mission'd spirit, unaware:
With silver taper's light, and pious care,
She turn'd, and down the aged gossip led
To a safe level matting. Now prepare,
Young Porphyro, for gazing on that bed;
She comes, she comes again, like dove fray'd and fled.
Out went the taper as she hurried in;
Its little smoke, in pallid moonshine, died:
She closed the door, she panted, all akin
To spirits of the air, and visions wide:
No utter'd syllable, or, woe betide!
But to her heart, her heart was voluble,
Paining with eloquence her balmy side;
As though a tongueless nightingale should swell
Her throat in vain, and die, heart-stifled, in her dell.
A casement high and triple-arch'd there was,
All garlanded with carven imag'ries
Of fruits, and flowers, and bunches of knot-grass,
And diamonded with panes of quaint device,
Innumerable of stains and splendid dyes,
As are the tiger-moth's deep-damask'd wings;
And in the midst, 'mong thousand heraldries,
And twilight saints, and dim emblazonings,
A shielded scutcheon blush'd with blood of queens and kings.
Full on this casement shone the wintry moon,
And threw warm gules on Madeline's fair breast,
As down she knelt for heaven's grace and boon;
Rose-bloom fell on her hands, together prest,
And on her silver cross soft amethyst,
And on her hair a glory, like a saint:
She seem'd a splendid angel, newly drest,
Save wings, for heaven:---Porphyro grew faint:
She knelt, so pure a thing, so free from mortal taint.
Anon his heart revives: her vespers done,
Of all its wreathed pearls her hair she frees;
Unclasps her warmed jewels one by one;
Loosens her fragrant bodice; by degrees
Her rich attire creeps rustling to her knees:
Half-hidden, like a mermaid in sea-weed,
Pensive awhile she dreams awake, and sees,
In fancy, fair St Agnes in her bed,
But dares not look behind, or all the charm is fled.
Soon, trembling in her soft and chilly nest,
In sort of wakeful swoon, perplex'd she lay,
Until the poppied warmth of sleep oppress'd
Her soothed limbs, and soul fatigued away;
Flown, like a thought, until the morrow-day;
Blissfully haven'd both from joy and pain;
Clasp'd like a missal where swart Paynims pray;
Blinded alike from sunshine and from rain,
As though a rose should shut, and be a bud again.
Stol'n to this paradise, and so entranced,
Porphyro gazed upon her empty dress,
And listen'd to her breathing, if it chanced
To wake into a slumbrous tenderness;
Which when he heard, that minute did he bless,
And breath'd himself: then from the closet crept,
Noiseless as fear in a wide wilderness,
And over the hush'd carpet, silent, stept,
And 'tween the curtains peep'd, where, lo!---how fast she slept!
Then by the bed-side, where the faded moon
Made a dim, silver twilight, soft he set
A table, and, half anguish'd, threw thereon
A doth of woven crimson, gold, and jet:---
O for some drowsy Morphean amulet!
The boisterous, midnight, festive clarion,
The kettle-drum, and far-heard clarinet,
Affray his ears, though but in dying tone:---
The hall door shuts again, and all the noise is gone.
And still she slept an azure-lidded sleep,
In blanched linen, smooth, and lavender'd,
While he from forth the closet brought a heap
Of candied apple, quince, and plum, and gourd
With jellies soother than the creamy curd,
And lucent syrops, tinct with cinnamon;
Manna and dates, in argosy transferr'd
From Fez; and spiced dainties, every one,
From silken Samarcand to cedar'd Lebanon.
These delicates he heap'd with glowing hand
On golden dishes and in baskets bright
Of wreathed silver: sumptuous they stand
In the retired quiet of the night,
Filling the chilly room with perfume light.---
"And now, my love, my seraph fair, awake!
Thou art my heaven, and I thine eremite:
Open thine eyes, for meek St Agnes' sake,
Or I shall drowse beside thee, so my soul doth ache."
Thus whispering, his warm, unnerved arm
Sank in her pillow. Shaded was her dream
By the dusk curtains:---'twas a midnight charm
Impossible to melt as iced stream:
The lustrous salvers in the moonlight gleam;
Broad golden fringe upon the carpet lies:
It seem'd he never, never could redeem
From such a stedfast spell his lady's eyes;
So mus'd awhile, entoil'd in woofed phantasies.
Awakening up, he took her hollow lute,---
Tumultuous,---and, in chords that tenderest be,
He play'd an ancient ditty, long since mute,
In Provence call'd, "La belle dame sans mercy:"
Close to her ear touching the melody:---
Wherewith disturb'd, she utter'd a soft moan:
He ceased---she panted quick---and suddenly
Her blue affrayed eyes wide open shone:
Upon his knees he sank, pale as smooth-sculptured stone.
Her eyes were open, but she still beheld,
Now wide awake, the vision of her sleep:
There was a painful change, that nigh expell'd
The blisses of her dream so pure and deep,
At which fair Madeline began to weep,
And moan forth witless words with many a sigh;
While still her gaze on Porphyro would keep;
Who knelt, with joined hands and piteous eye,
Fearing to move or speak, she look'd so dreamingly.
"Ah, Porphyro!" said she, "but even now
Thy voice was at sweet tremble in mine ear,
Made tuneable with every sweetest vow;
And those sad eyes were spiritual and clear:
How chang'd thou art! how pallid, chill, and drear!
Give me that voice again, my Porphyro,
Those looks immortal, those complainings dear!
Oh leave me not in this eternal woe,
For if thou diest, my Love, I know not where to go."
Beyond a mortal man impassion'd far
At these voluptuous accents, he arose,
Ethereal, flush'd, and like a throbbing star
Seen mid the sapphire heaven's deep repose
Into her dream he melted, as the rose
Blendeth its odour with the violet,---
Solution sweet: meantime the frost-wind blows
Like Love's alarum pattering the sharp sleet
Against the window-panes; St Agnes' moon hath set.
Tis dark: quick pattereth the flaw-blown sleet:
"This is no dream, my bride, my Madeline!"
'Tis dark: the iced gusts still rave and beat:
"No dream, alas! alas! and woe is mine!
Porphyro will leave me here to fade and pine.---
Cruel! what traitor could thee hither bring?
I curse not, for my heart is lost in thine
Though thou forsakest a deceived thing;---
A dove forlorn and lost with sick unpruned wing."
"My Madeline! sweet dreamer! lovely bride!
Say, may I be for aye thy vassal blest?
Thy beauty's shield, heart-shap'd and vermeil dyed?
Ah, silver shrine, here will I take my rest
After so many hours of toil and quest,
A famish'd pilgrim,---saved by miracle.
Though I have found, I will not rob thy nest
Saving of thy sweet self; if thou think'st well
To trust, fair Madeline, to no rude infidel.
"Hark! 'tis an elfin-storm from faery land,
Of haggard seeming, but a boon indeed:
Arise---arise! the morning is at hand;---
The bloated wassailers will never heed:---
Let us away, my love, with happy speed;
There are no ears to hear, or eyes to see,---
Drown'd all in Rhenish and the sleepy mead:
Awake! arise! my love, and fearless be,
For o'er the southern moors I have a home for thee."
She hurried at his words, beset with fears,
For there were sleeping dragons all around,
At glaring watch, perhaps, with ready spears---
Down the wide stairs a darkling way they found.---
In all the house was heard no human sound.
A chain-droop'd lamp was flickering by each door;
The arras, rich with horseman, hawk, and hound,
Flutter'd in the besieging wind's uproar;
And the long carpets rose along the gusty floor.
They glide, like phantoms, into the wide hall;
Like phantoms, to the iron porch, they glide;
Where lay the Porter, in uneasy sprawl,
With a huge empty flagon by his side:
The wakeful bloodhound rose, and shook his hide,
But his sagacious eye an inmate owns:
By one, and one, the bolts fill easy slide:---
The chains lie silent on the footworn stones,---
The key turns, and the door upon its hinges groans.
And they are gone: ay, ages long ago
These lovers fled away into the storm.
That night the Baron dreamt of many a woe,
And all his warrior-guests, with shade and form
Of witch, and demon, and large coffin-worm,
Were long be-nightmar'd. Angela the old
Died palsy-twitch'd, with meagre face deform;
The Beadsman, after thousand aves told,
For aye unsought for slept among his ashes cold.
by John Keats.
A Vision Of Poesy - Part 01
In a far country, and a distant age,
Ere sprites and fays had bade farewell to earth,
A boy was born of humble parentage;
The stars that shone upon his lonely birth
Did seem to promise sovereignty and fame --
Yet no tradition hath preserved his name.
'T is said that on the night when he was born,
A beauteous shape swept slowly through the room;
Its eyes broke on the infant like a morn,
And his cheek brightened like a rose in bloom;
But as it passed away there followed after
A sigh of pain, and sounds of elvish laughter.
And so his parents deemed him to be blest
Beyond the lot of mortals; they were poor
As the most timid bird that stored its nest
With the stray gleanings at their cottage-door:
Yet they contrived to rear their little dove,
And he repaid them with the tenderest love.
The child was very beautiful in sooth,
And as he waxed in years grew lovelier still;
On his fair brow the aureole of truth
Beamed, and the purest maidens, with a thrill,
Looked in his eyes, and from their heaven of blue
Saw thoughts like sinless Angels peering through.
Need there was none of censure or of praise
To mould him to the kind parental hand;
Yet there was ever something in his ways,
Which those about him could not understand;
A self-withdrawn and independent bliss,
Beside the father's love, the mother's kiss.
For oft, when he believed himself alone,
They caught brief snatches of mysterious rhymes,
Which he would murmur in an undertone,
Like a pleased bee's in summer; and at times
A strange far look would come into his eyes,
As if he saw a vision in the skies.
And he upon a simple leaf would pore
As if its very texture unto him
Had some deep meaning; sometimes by the door,
From noon until a summer-day grew dim,
He lay and watched the clouds; and to his thought
Night with her stars but fitful slumbers brought.
In the long hours of twilight, when the breeze
Talked in low tones along the woodland rills,
Or the loud North its stormy minstrelsies
Blent with wild noises from the distant hills,
The boy -- his rosy hand against his ear
Curved like a sea-shell -- hushed as some rapt seer,
Followed the sounds, and ever and again,
As the wind came and went, in storm or play,
He seemed to hearken as to some far strain
Of mingled voices calling him away;
And they who watched him held their breath to trace
The still and fixed attention in his face.
Once, on a cold and loud-voiced winter night,
The three were seated by their cottage-fire --
The mother watching by its flickering light
The wakeful urchin, and the dozing sire;
There was a brief, quick motion like a bird's,
And the boy's thought thus rippled into words:
"O mother! thou hast taught me many things,
But none I think more beautiful than speech --
A nobler power than even those broad wings
I used to pray for, when I longed to reach
That distant peak which on our vale looks down,
And wears the star of evening for a crown.
"But, mother, while our human words are rife
To us with meaning, other sounds there be
Which seem, and are, the language of a life
Around, yet unlike ours: winds talk; the sea
Murmurs articulately, and the sky
Listens, and answers, though inaudibly.
"By stream and spring, in glades and woodlands lone,
Beside our very cot I've gathered flowers
Inscribed with signs and characters unknown;
But the frail scrolls still baffle all my powers:
What is this language and where is the key
That opes its weird and wondrous mystery?
"The forests know it, and the mountains know,
And it is written in the sunset's dyes;
A revelation to the world below
Is daily going on before our eyes;
And, but for sinful thoughts, I do not doubt
That we could spell the thrilling secret out.
"O mother! somewhere on this lovely earth
I lived, and understood that mystic tongue,
But, for some reason, to my second birth
Only the dullest memories have clung,
Like that fair tree that even while blossoming
Keeps the dead berries of a former spring.
"Who shall put life in these? -- my nightly dreams
Some teacher of supernal powers foretell;
A fair and stately shape appears, which seems
Bright with all truth; and once, in a dark dell
Within the forest, unto me there came
A voice that must be hers, which called my name."
Puzzled and frightened, wondering more and more,
The mother heard, but did not comprehend;
"So early dallying with forbidden lore!
Oh, what will chance, and wherein will it end?
My child! my child!" she caught him to her breast,
"Oh, let me kiss these wildering thoughts to rest!
"They cannot come from God, who freely gives
All that we need to have, or ought to know;
Beware, my son! some evil influence strives
To grieve thy parents, and to work thee woe;
Alas! the vision I misunderstood!
It could not be an angel fair and good."
And then, in low and tremulous tones, she told
The story of his birth-night; the boy's eyes,
As the wild tale went on, were bright and bold,
With a weird look that did not seem surprise:
"Perhaps," he said, "this lady and her elves
Will one day come, and take me to themselves."
"And wouldst thou leave us?" "Dearest mother, no!
Hush! I will check these thoughts that give thee pain;
Or, if they flow, as they perchance must flow,
At least I will not utter them again;
Hark! didst thou hear a voice like many streams?
Mother! it is the spirit of my dreams!"
Thenceforth, whatever impulse stirred below,
In the deep heart beneath that childish breast,
Those lips were sealed, and though the eye would glow,
Yet the brow wore an air of perfect rest;
Cheerful, content, with calm though strong control
He shut the temple-portals of his soul.
And when too restlessly the mighty throng
Of fancies woke within his teeming mind,
All silently they formed in glorious song,
And floated off unheard, and undivined,
Perchance not lost -- with many a voiceless prayer
They reached the sky, and found some record there.
Softly and swiftly sped the quiet days;
The thoughtful boy has blossomed into youth,
And still no maiden would have feared his gaze,
And still his brow was noble with the truth:
Yet, though he masks the pain with pious art,
There burns a restless fever in his heart.
A childish dream is now a deathless need
Which drives him to far hills and distant wilds;
The solemn faith and fervor of his creed
Bold as a martyr's, simple as a child's;
The eagle knew him as she knew the blast,
And the deer did not flee him as he passed.
But gentle even in his wildest mood,
Always, and most, he loved the bluest weather,
And in some soft and sunny solitude
Couched like a milder sunshine on the heather,
He communed with the winds, and with the birds,
As if they might have answered him in words.
Deep buried in the forest was a nook
Remote and quiet as its quiet skies;
He knew it, sought it, loved it as a book
Full of his own sweet thoughts and memories;
Dark oaks and fluted chestnuts gathering round,
Pillared and greenly domed a sloping mound.
Whereof -- white, purple, azure, golden, red,
Confused like hues of sunset -- the wild flowers
Wove a rich dais; through crosslights overhead
Glanced the clear sunshine, fell the fruitful showers,
And here the shyest bird would fold her wings;
Here fled the fairest and the gentlest things.
Thither, one night of mist and moonlight, came
The youth, with nothing deeper in his thoughts
Than to behold beneath the silver flame
New aspects of his fair and favorite spot;
A single ray attained the ground, and shed
Just light enough to guide the wanderer's tread.
And high and hushed arose the stately trees,
Yet shut within themselves, like dungeons, where
Lay fettered all the secrets of the breeze;
Silent, but not as slumbering, all things there
Wore to the youth's aroused imagination
An air of deep and solemn expectation.
"Hath Heaven," the youth exclaimed, "a sweeter spot,
Or Earth another like it? -- yet even here
The old mystery dwells! and though I read it not,
Here most I hope -- it is, or seems so near;
So many hints come to me, but, alas!
I cannot grasp the shadows as they pass.
"Here, from the very turf beneath me, I
Catch, but just catch, I know not what faint sound,
And darkly guess that from yon silent sky
Float starry emanations to the ground;
These ears are deaf, these human eyes are blind,
I want a purer heart, a subtler mind.
"Sometimes -- could it be fancy? -- I have felt
The presence of a spirit who might speak;
As down in lowly reverence I knelt,
Its very breath hath kissed my burning cheek;
But I in vain have hushed my own to hear
A wing or whisper stir the silent air!"
Is not the breeze articulate? Hark! Oh, hark!
A distant murmur, like a voice of floods;
And onward sweeping slowly through the dark,
Bursts like a call the night-wind from the woods!
Low bow the flowers, the trees fling loose their dreams,
And through the waving roof a fresher moonlight streams.
"Mortal!" -- the word crept slowly round the place
As if that wind had breathed it! From no star
Streams that soft lustre on the dreamer's face.
Again a hushing calm! while faint and far
The breeze goes calling onward through the night.
Dear God! what vision chains that wide-strained sight?
Over the grass and flowers, and up the slope
Glides a white cloud of mist, self-moved and slow,
That, pausing at the hillock's moonlit cope,
Swayed like a flame of silver; from below
The breathless youth with beating heart beholds
A mystic motion in its argent folds.
Yet his young soul is bold, and hope grows warm,
As flashing through that cloud of shadowy crape,
With sweep of robes, and then a gleaming arm,
Slowly developing, at last took shape
A face and form unutterably bright,
That cast a golden glamour on the night.
But for the glory round it it would seem
Almost a mortal maiden; and the boy,
Unto whom love was yet an innocent dream,
Shivered and crimsoned with an unknown joy;
As to the young Spring bounds the passionate South,
He could have clasped and kissed her mouth to mouth.
Yet something checked, that was and was not dread,
Till in a low sweet voice the maiden spake;
She was the Fairy of his dreams, she said,
And loved him simply for his human sake;
And that in heaven, wherefrom she took her birth,
They called her Poesy, the angel of the earth.
"And ever since that immemorial hour,
When the glad morning-stars together sung,
My task hath been, beneath a mightier Power,
To keep the world forever fresh and young;
I give it not its fruitage and its green,
But clothe it with a glory all unseen.
"I sow the germ which buds in human art,
And, with my sister, Science, I explore
With light the dark recesses of the heart,
And nerve the will, and teach the wish to soar;
I touch with grace the body's meanest clay,
While noble souls are nobler for my sway.
"Before my power the kings of earth have bowed;
I am the voice of Freedom, and the sword
Leaps from its scabbard when I call aloud;
Wherever life in sacrifice is poured,
Wherever martyrs die or patriots bleed,
I weave the chaplet and award the meed.
"Where Passion stoops, or strays, is cold, or dead,
I lift from error, or to action thrill!
Or if it rage too madly in its bed,
The tempest hushes at my `Peace! be still!'
I know how far its tides should sink or swell,
And they obey my sceptre and my spell.
"All lovely things, and gentle -- the sweet laugh
Of children, Girlhood's kiss, and Friendship's clasp,
The boy that sporteth with the old man's staff,
The baby, and the breast its fingers grasp --
All that exalts the grounds of happiness,
All griefs that hallow, and all joys that bless,
"To me are sacred; at my holy shrine
Love breathes its latest dreams, its earliest hints;
I turn life's tasteless waters into wine,
And flush them through and through with purple tints.
Wherever Earth is fair, and Heaven looks down,
I rear my altars, and I wear my crown.
"I am the unseen spirit thou hast sought,
I woke those shadowy questionings that vex
Thy young mind, lost in its own cloud of thought,
And rouse the soul they trouble and perplex;
I filled thy days with visions, and thy nights
Blessed with all sweetest sounds and fairy sights.
"Not here, not in this world, may I disclose
The mysteries in which this life is hearsed;
Some doubts there be that, with some earthly woes,
By Death alone shall wholly be dispersed;
Yet on those very doubts from this low sod
Thy soul shall pass beyond the stars to God.
"And so to knowledge, climbing grade by grade,
Thou shalt attain whatever mortals can,
And what thou mayst discover by my aid
Thou shalt translate unto thy brother man;
And men shall bless the power that flings a ray
Into their night from thy diviner day.
"For, from thy lofty height, thy words shall fall
Upon their spirits like bright cataracts
That front a sunrise; thou shalt hear them call
Amid their endless waste of arid facts,
As wearily they plod their way along,
Upon the rhythmic zephyrs of thy song.
"All this is in thy reach, but much depends
Upon thyself -- thy future I await;
I give the genius, point the proper ends,
But the true bard is his own only Fate;
Into thy soul my soul have I infused;
Take care thy lofty powers be wisely used.
"The Poet owes a high and holy debt,
Which, if he feel, he craves not to be heard
For the poor boon of praise, or place, nor yet
Does the mere joy of song, as with the bird
Of many voices, prompt the choral lay
That cheers that gentle pilgrim on his way.
"Nor may he always sweep the passionate lyre,
Which is his heart, only for such relief
As an impatient spirit may desire,
Lest, from the grave which hides a private grief,
The spells of song call up some pallid wraith
To blast or ban a mortal hope or faith.
"Yet over his deep soul, with all its crowd
Of varying hopes and fears, he still must brood;
As from its azure height a tranquil cloud
Watches its own bright changes in the flood;
Self-reading, not self-loving -- they are twain --
And sounding, while he mourns, the depths of pain.
"Thus shall his songs attain the common breast,
Dyed in his own life's blood, the sign and seal,
Even as the thorns which are the martyr's crest,
That do attest his office, and appeal
Unto the universal human heart
In sanction of his mission and his art.
"Much yet remains unsaid -- pure must he be;
Oh, blessed are the pure! for they shall hear
Where others hear not, see where others see
With a dazed vision: who have drawn most near
My shrine, have ever brought a spirit cased
And mailed in a body clean and chaste.
"The Poet to the whole wide world belongs,
Even as the teacher is the child's -- I said
No selfish aim should ever mar his songs,
But self wears many guises; men may wed
Self in another, and the soul may be
Self to its centre, all unconsciously.
"And therefore must the Poet watch, lest he,
In the dark struggle of this life, should take
Stains which he might not notice; he must flee
Falsehood, however winsome, and forsake
All for the Truth, assured that Truth alone
Is Beauty, and can make him all my own.
"And he must be as arm|"ed warrior strong,
And he must be as gentle as a girl,
And he must front, and sometimes suffer wrong,
With brow unbent, and lip untaught to curl;
For wrath, and scorn, and pride, however just,
Fill the clear spirit's eyes with earthly dust."
The story came to me -- it recks not whence --
In fragments. Oh! if I could tell it all,
If human speech indeed could tell it all,
'T were not a whit less wondrous, than if I
Should find, untouched in leaf and stem, and bright,
As when it bloomed three thousand years ago,
On some Idalian slope, a perfect rose.
Alas! a leaf or two, and they perchance
Scarce worth the hiving, one or two dead leaves
Are the sole harvest of a summer's toil.
There was a moment, ne'er to be recalled,
When to the Poet's hope within my heart,
They wore a tint like life's, but in my hand,
I know not why, they withered. I have heard
Somewhere, of some dead monarch, from the tomb,
Where he had slept a century and more,
Brought forth, that when the coffin was laid bare,
Albeit the body in its mouldering robes
Was fleshless, yet one feature still remained
Perfect, or perfect seemed at least; the eyes
Gleamed for a second on the startled crowd,
And then went out in ashes. Even thus
The story, when I drew it from the grave
Where it had lain so long, did seem, I thought,
Not wholly lifeless; but even while I gazed
To fix its features on my heart, and called
The world to wonder with me, lo! it proved
I looked upon a corpse!
What further fell
In that lone forest nook, how much was taught,
How much was only hinted, what the youth
Promised, if promise were required, to do
Or strive for, what the gifts he bore away --
Or added powers or blessings -- how at last,
The vision ended and he sought his home,
How lived there, and how long, and when he passed
Into the busy world to seek his fate,
I know not, and if any ever knew,
The tale hath perished from the earth; for here
The slender thread on which my song is strung
Breaks off, and many after years of life
Are lost to sight, the life to reappear
Only towards its close -- as of a dream
We catch the end and opening, but forget
That which had joined them in the dreaming brain;
Or as a mountain with a belt of mist
That shows his base, and far above, a peak
With a blue plume of pines.
But turn the page
And read the only hints that yet remain.
by Henry Timrod.
The Golden Legend: Prologue & 1.
THE SPIRE OF STRASBURG CATHEDRAL.
Night and storm. LUCIFER, with the Powers of the
Air, trying to tear down the Cross.
_Lucifer._ HASTEN! hasten!
O ye spirits!
From its station drag the ponderous
Cross of iron, that to mock us
Is uplifted high in air!
_Voices._ O, we cannot!
For around it
All the Saints and Guardian Angels
Throng in legions to protect it;
They defeat us everywhere!
_The Bells._ Laudo Deum verum
_Lucifer._ Lower! lower!
Seize the loud, vociferous bells, and
Clashing, clanging, to the pavement
Hurl them from their windy tower!
_Voices._ All thy thunders
Here are harmless!
For these bells have been anointed,
And baptized with holy water!
They defy our utmost power.
_The Bells. Defunctos ploro!
_Lucifer._ Shake the casements!
Break the painted
Panes that flame with gold and crimson!
Scatter them like leaves of Autumn,
Swept away before the blast!
_Voices._ O, we cannot!
Michael flames from every window,
With the sword of fire that drove us
Headlong, out of heaven, aghast!
_The Bells._ Funera plango!
_Lucifer._ Aim your lightnings
At the oaken,
Massive, iron-studded portals!
Sack the house of God, and scatter
Wide the ashes of the dead!
_Voices._ O, we cannot!
And the Martyrs, wrapped in mantles,
Stand as wardens at the entrance,
Stand as sentinels o'erhead!
_The Bells._ Excito lentos!
_Lucifer._ Baffled! baffled!
Craven spirits! leave this labor
Unto Time, the great Destroyer!
Come away, ere night is gone!
_Voices._ Onward! onward!
With the night-wind,
Over field and farm and forest,
Lonely homestead, darksome hamlet,
Blighting all we breathe upon!
(They sweep away. Organ and Gregorian Chant.)
Choir. Nocte surgentes
Vig lemus omnes!
* * * * *
I. THE CASTLE OF VAUTSBERG ON THE RHINE.
A chamber in a tower. PRINCE HENRY, sitting alone,
ill and restless.
_Prince Henry. I cannot sleep! my fervid brain
Calls up the vanished Past again,
And throws its misty splendors deep
Into the pallid realms of sleep!
A breath from that far-distant shore
Comes freshening ever more and more,
And wafts o'er intervening seas
Sweet odors from the Hesperides!
A wind, that through the corridor
Just stirs the curtain, and no more,
And, touching the aeolian strings,
Faints with the burden that it brings!
Come back! ye friendships long departed!
That like o'erflowing streamlets started,
And now are dwindled, one by one,
To stony channels in the sun!
Come back! ye friends, whose lives are ended!
Come back, with all that light attended,
Which seemed to darken and decay
When ye arose and went away!
They come, the shapes of joy and woe,
The airy crowds of long-ago,
The dreams and fancies known of yore,
That have been, and shall be no more.
They change the cloisters of the night
Into a garden of delight;
They make the dark and dreary hours
Open and blossom into flowers!
I would not sleep! I love to be
Again in their fair company;
But ere my lips can bid them stay,
They pass and vanish quite away!
Alas! our memories may retrace
Each circumstance of time and place,
Season and scene come back again,
And outward things unchanged remain;
The rest we cannot reinstate;
Ourselves we cannot re-create,
Nor set our souls to the same key
Of the remembered harmony!
Rest! rest! O, give me rest and peace!
The thought of life that ne'er shall cease
Has something in it like despair,
A weight I am too weak to bear!
Sweeter to this afflicted breast
The thought of never-ending rest!
Sweeter the undisturbed and deep
Tranquillity of endless sleep!
(_A flash of lightning, out of which_ LUCIFER _appears,
in the garb of a travelling Physician._)
_Lucifer_. All hail Prince Henry!
_Prince Henry_ (_starting_). Who is it speaks?
Who and what are you?
_Lucifer_. One who seeks
A moment's audience with the Prince.
_Prince Henry_. When came you in?
_Lucifer_. A moment since.
I found your study door unlocked,
And thought you answered when I knocked.
_Prince Henry_. I did not hear you.
_Lucifer_. You heard the thunder;
It was loud enough to waken the dead.
And it is not a matter of special wonder
That, when God is walking overhead,
You should not have heard my feeble tread.
_Prince Henry_. What may your wish or purpose be?
_Lucifer_. Nothing or everything, as it pleases
Your Highness. You behold in me
Only a traveling Physician;
One of the few who have a mission
To cure incurable diseases,
Or those that are called so.
_Prince Henry_. Can you bring
The dead to life?
_Lucifer_. Yes; very nearly.
And, what is a wiser and better thing,
Can keep the living from ever needing
Such an unnatural, strange proceeding,
By showing conclusively and clearly
That death is a stupid blunder merely,
And not a necessity of our lives.
My being here is accidental;
The storm, that against your casement drives,
In the little village below waylaid me.
And there I heard, with a secret delight,
Of your maladies physical and mental,
Which neither astonished nor dismayed me.
And I hastened hither, though late in the night,
To proffer my aid!
_Prince Henry (ironically)_ For this you came!
Ah, how can I ever hope to requite
This honor from one so erudite?
_Lucifer_. The honor is mine, or will be when
I have cured your disease.
_Prince Henry_. But not till then.
_Lucifer_. What is your illness?
_Prince Henry_. It has no name.
A smouldering, dull, perpetual flame,
As in a kiln, burns in my veins,
Sending up vapors to the head,
My heart has become a dull lagoon,
Which a kind of leprosy drinks and drains;
I am accounted as one who is dead,
And, indeed, I think that I shall be soon.
_Lucifer_ And has Gordonius the Divine,
In his famous Lily of Medicine,--
I see the book lies open before you,--
No remedy potent enough to restore you?
_Prince Henry_. None whatever!
_Lucifer_ The dead are dead,
And their oracles dumb, when questioned
Of the new diseases that human life
Evolves in its progress, rank and rife.
Consult the dead upon things that were,
But the living only on things that are.
Have you done this, by the appliance
And aid of doctors?
_Prince Henry_. Ay, whole schools
Of doctors, with their learned rules,
But the case is quite beyond their science.
Even the doctors of Salern
Send me back word they can discern
No cure for a malady like this,
Save one which in its nature is
Impossible, and cannot be!
_Lucifer_ That sounds oracular!
_Prince Henry_ Unendurable!
_Lucifer_ What is their remedy?
_Prince Henry_ You shall see;
Writ in this scroll is the mystery.
_Lucifer (reading)._ 'Not to be cured, yet not incurable!
The only remedy that remains
Is the blood that flows from a maiden's veins,
Who of her own free will shall die,
And give her life as the price of yours!'
That is the strangest of all cures,
And one, I think, you will never try;
The prescription you may well put by,
As something impossible to find
Before the world itself shall end!
And yet who knows? One cannot say
That into some maiden's brain that kind
Of madness will not find its way.
Meanwhile permit me to recommend,
As the matter admits of no delay,
My wonderful Catholicon,
Of very subtile and magical powers!
_Prince Henry._ Purge with your nostrums and drugs infernal
The spouts and gargoyles of these towers,
Not me! My faith is utterly gone
In every power but the Power Supernal!
Pray tell me, of what school are you?
_Lucifer._ Both of the Old and of the New!
The school of Hermes Trismegistus,
Who uttered his oracles sublime
Before the Olympiads, in the dew
Of the early dawn and dusk of Time,
The reign of dateless old Hephaestus!
As northward, from its Nubian springs,
The Nile, forever new and old,
Among the living and the dead,
Its mighty, mystic stream has rolled;
So, starting from its fountain-head
Under the lotus-leaves of Isis,
From the dead demigods of eld,
Through long, unbroken lines of kings
Its course the sacred art has held,
Unchecked, unchanged by man's devices.
This art the Arabian Geber taught,
And in alembics, finely wrought,
Distilling herbs and flowers, discovered
The secret that so long had hovered
Upon the misty verge of Truth,
The Elixir of Perpetual Youth,
Called Alcohol, in the Arab speech!
Like him, this wondrous lore I teach!
_Prince Henry._ What! an adept?
_Lucifer._ Nor less, nor more!
_Prince Henry._ I am a reader of such books,
A lover of that mystic lore!
With such a piercing glance it looks
Into great Nature's open eye,
And sees within it trembling lie
The portrait of the Deity!
And yet, alas! with all my pains,
The secret and the mystery
Have baffled and eluded me,
Unseen the grand result remains!
_Lucifer (showing a flask)._ Behold it here! this little flask
Contains the wonderful quintessence,
The perfect flower and efflorescence,
Of all the knowledge man can ask!
Hold it up thus against the light!
_Prince Henry._ How limpid, pure, and crystalline,
How quick, and tremulous, and bright
The little wavelets dance and shine,
As were it the Water of Life in sooth!
_Lucifer._ It is! It assuages every pain,
Cures all disease, and gives again
To age the swift delights of youth.
Inhale its fragrance.
_Prince Henry._ It is sweet.
A thousand different odors meet
And mingle in its rare perfume,
Such as the winds of summer waft
At open windows through a room!
_Lucifer._ Will you not taste it?
_Prince Henry._ Will one draught
_Lucifer._ If not, you can drink more.
_Prince Henry._ Into this crystal goblet pour
So much as safely I may drink.
_Lucifer (pouring)._ Let not the quantity alarm you:
You may drink all; it will not harm you.
_Prince Henry._ I am as one who on the brink
Of a dark river stands and sees
The waters flow, the landscape dim
Around him waver, wheel, and swim,
And, ere he plunges, stops to think
Into what whirlpools he may sink;
One moment pauses, and no more,
Then madly plunges from the shore!
Headlong into the dark mysteries
Of life and death I boldly leap,
Nor fear the fateful current's sweep,
Nor what in ambush lurks below!
For death is better than disease!
(_An_ ANGEL _with an aeolian harp hovers in the air_.)
_Angel._ Woe! woe! eternal woe!
Not only the whispered prayer
But the imprecations of hate,
Forever and ever through the air
This fearful curse
Shakes the great universe!
_Lucifer (disappearing)._ Drink! drink!
And thy soul shall sink
Down into the dark abyss,
Into the infinite abyss,
From which no plummet nor rope
Ever drew up the silver sand of hope!
_Prince Henry (drinking)._ It is like a draught of fire!
Through every vein
I feel again
The fever of youth, the soft desire;
A rapture that is almost pain
Throbs in my heart and fills my brain!
O joy! O joy! I feel
The band of steel
That so long and heavily has pressed
Upon my breast
Uplifted, and the malediction
Of my affliction
Is taken from me, and my weary breast
At length finds rest.
_The Angel._ It is but the rest of the fire, from which the air
has been taken!
It is but the rest of the sand, when the hour-glass is not shaken!
It is but the rest of the tide between the ebb and the flow!
It is but the rest of the wind between the flaws that blow!
With fiendish laughter,
This false physician
Will mock thee in thy perdition.
_Prince Henry._ Speak! speak!
Who says that I am ill?
I am not ill! I am not weak!
The trance, the swoon, the dream, is o'er!
I feel the chill of death no more!
I stand renewed in all my strength!
Beneath me I can feel
The great earth stagger and reel,
As it the feet of a descending God
Upon its surface trod,
And like a pebble it rolled beneath his heel!
This, O brave physician! this
Is thy great Palingenesis!
_The Angel._ Touch the goblet no more!
It will make thy heart sore
To its very core!
Its perfume is the breath
Of the Angel of Death,
And the light that within it lies
Is the flash of his evil eyes.
Beware! O, beware!
For sickness, sorrow, and care
All are there!
_Prince Henry (sinking back)._ O thou voice within my breast!
Why entreat me, why upbraid me,
When the steadfast tongues of truth
And the flattering hopes of youth
Have all deceived me and betrayed me?
Give me, give me rest, O, rest!
Golden visions wave and hover,
Golden vapors, waters streaming,
Landscapes moving, changing, gleaming!
I am like a happy lover
Who illumines life with dreaming!
Brave physician! Rare physician!
Well hast thou fulfilled thy mission!
(_His head falls On his book_.)
_The Angel (receding)._ Alas! alas!
Like a vapor the golden vision
Shall fade and pass,
And thou wilt find in thy heart again
Only the blight of pain,
And bitter, bitter, bitter contrition!
* * * * *
COURT-YARD OF THE CASTLE.
* * * * *
HUBERT _standing by the gateway._
_Hubert._ How sad the grand old castle looks!
O'erhead, the unmolested rooks
Upon the turret's windy top
Sit, talking of the farmer's crop;
Here in the court-yard springs the grass,
So few are now the feet that pass;
The stately peacocks, bolder grown,
Come hopping down the steps of stone,
As if the castle were their own;
And I, the poor old seneschal,
Haunt, like a ghost, the banquet-hall.
Alas! the merry guests no more
Crowd through the hospital door;
No eyes with youth and passion shine,
No cheeks glow redder than the wine;
No song, no laugh, no jovial din
Of drinking wassail to the pin;
But all is silent, sad, and drear,
And now the only sounds I hear
Are the hoarse rooks upon the walls,
And horses stamping in their stalls!
(_A horn sounds_.)
What ho! that merry, sudden blast
Reminds me of the days long past!
And, as of old resounding, grate
The heavy hinges of the gate,
And, clattering loud, with iron clank,
Down goes the sounding bridge of plank,
As if it were in haste to greet
The pressure of a traveler's feet!
(_Enter_ WALTER _the Minnesinger_.)
_Walter._ How now, my friend! This looks quite lonely!
No banner flying from the walls,
No pages and no seneschals,
No wardens, and one porter only!
Is it you, Hubert?
_Hubert._ Ah! Master Walter!
_Walter._ Alas! how forms and faces alter!
I did not know you. You look older!
Your hair has grown much grayer and thinner,
And you stoop a little in the shoulder!
_Hubert._ Alack! I am a poor old sinner,
And, like these towers, begin to moulder;
And you have been absent many a year!
_Walter._ How is the Prince?
_Hubert._ He is not here;
He has been ill: and now has fled.
_Walter._ Speak it out frankly: say he's dead!
Is it not so?
_Hubert._ No; if you please;
A strange, mysterious disease
Fell on him with a sudden blight.
Whole hours together he would stand
Upon the terrace, in a dream,
Resting his head upon his hand,
Best pleased when he was most alone,
Like Saint John Nepomuck in stone,
Looking down into a stream.
In the Round Tower, night after night,
He sat, and bleared his eyes with books;
Until one morning we found him there
Stretched on the floor, as if in a swoon
He had fallen from his chair.
We hardly recognized his sweet looks!
_Walter._ Poor Prince!
_Hubert._ I think he might have mended;
And he did mend; but very soon
The Priests came flocking in, like rooks,
With all their crosiers and their crooks,
And so at last the matter ended.
_Walter._ How did it end?
_Hubert._ Why, in Saint Rochus
They made him stand, and wait his doom;
And, as if he were condemned to the tomb,
Began to mutter their hocus pocus.
First, the Mass for the Dead they chaunted.
Then three times laid upon his head
A shovelful of church-yard clay,
Saying to him, as he stood undaunted,
'This is a sign that thou art dead,
So in thy heart be penitent!'
And forth from the chapel door he went
Into disgrace and banishment,
Clothed in a cloak of hodden gray,
And bearing a wallet, and a bell,
Whose sound should be a perpetual knell
To keep all travelers away.
_Walter._ O, horrible fate! Outcast, rejected,
As one with pestilence infected!
_Hubert._ Then was the family tomb unsealed,
And broken helmet, sword and shield,
Buried together, in common wreck,
As is the custom, when the last
Of any princely house has passed,
And thrice, as with a trumpet-blast,
A herald shouted down the stair
The words of warning and despair,--
'O Hoheneck! O Hoheneck!'
_Walter_. Still in my soul that cry goes on,--
Forever gone! forever gone!
Ah, what a cruel sense of loss,
Like a black shadow, would fall across
The hearts of all, if he should die!
His gracious presence upon earth
Was as a fire upon a hearth;
As pleasant songs, at morning sung,
The words that dropped from his sweet tongue
Strengthened our hearts; or, heard at night,
Made all our slumbers soft and light.
Where is he?
_Hubert._ In the Odenwald.
Some of his tenants, unappalled
By fear of death, or priestly word,--
A holy family, that make
Each meal a Supper of the Lord,--
Have him beneath their watch and ward,
For love of him, and Jesus' sake!
Pray you come in. For why should I
With outdoor hospitality
My prince's friend thus entertain?
_Walter._ I would a moment here remain.
But you, good Hubert, go before,
Fill me a goblet of May-drink,
As aromatic as the May
From which it steals the breath away,
And which he loved so well of yore;
It is of him that I would think
You shall attend me, when I call,
In the ancestral banquet hall.
Unseen companions, guests of air,
You cannot wait on, will be there;
They taste not food, they drink not wine,
But their soft eyes look into mine,
And their lips speak to me, and all
The vast and shadowy banquet-hall
Is full of looks and words divine!
(_Leaning over the parapet_.)
The day is done; and slowly from the scene
The stooping sun upgathers his spent shafts,
And puts them back into his golden quiver!
Below me in the valley, deep and green
As goblets are, from which in thirsty draughts
We drink its wine, the swift and mantling river
Flows on triumphant through these lovely regions,
Etched with the shadows of its sombre margent,
And soft, reflected clouds of gold and argent!
Yes, there it flows, forever, broad and still,
As when the vanguard of the Roman legions
First saw it from the top of yonder hill!
How beautiful it is! Fresh fields of wheat,
Vineyard, and town, and tower with fluttering flag,
The consecrated chapel on the crag,
And the white hamlet gathered round its base,
Like Mary sitting at her Saviour's feet,
And looking up at his beloved face!
O friend! O best of friends! Thy absence more
Than the impending night darkens the landscape o'er!
Carmen Seculare For The Year 1800
Incessant down the stream of Time
And days, and years, and ages, roll,
Speeding through Error's iron clime
To dark Oblivion's goal;
Lost in the gulf of night profound,
No eye to mark their shadowy bound,
Unless the deed of high renown,
The warlike chief's illustrious crown,
Shed o'er the darkling void a dubious fame,
And gild the passing hour with some immortal name.
Yet, evanescent as the fleeting cloud,
Driven by the wild winds o'er the varying skies,
Are all the glories of the great and proud,
On Rumour's idle breath that faintly rise.
A thousand garbs their forms assume,
Woven in vain Conjecture's loom;
Their dyes a thousand hues display,
Sporting in Fancy's fairy ray;
Changing with each uncertain blast,
Till melting from the eyes at last,
The shadowy vapours fly before the wind,
Sink into viewless air, 'nor leave a rack behind.'
But if the raptur'd train whom Heaven inspires
Of glory to record each deathless meed,
Tune to heroic worth their golden lyres,
And give to memory each godlike deed,
Then shall the eternal guerdon wait
The actions of the wise and great;—
While as from black Oblivion's sway
They bear the mighty name away,
And waft it, borne on pinion high,
With joyful carol to the sky,
Sage History, with eye severe,
Tracing aloft their bold career,
Clears the rich tale from Fiction's specious grace,
And builds her sacred lore on Truth's eternal base.
Hence from the splendid tales of old,
That Græcia's mystic story told,
From all that copious Fancy sings
Of fabled demi-gods and kings,
The godlike bard with master hand
Sublime his epic wonder plann'd;
And while fair Fiction's richest dyes
Still fascinate the gazing eyes,
Such precious gems, from Truth's refulgent mine,
Amid the bright materials shine,
That as her cares the gorgeous mass explore,
The Muse of History stamps the Poet's sterling ore.
In frozen climes, 'mid Error's shade,
The northern Muse records the hero's name.
While, as her glowing hand portray'd
The wonders of the warrior's fame,
Led through the mazes of the fight
The royal maid and elfin knight,
O'er the wild scene of magic hue
Her awful mirror History threw;
Till, as before Sol's ardent fire,
The lesser glories of the sky expire,
Faded the Muses' quivering lamp away,
Sunk in the radiant blaze of Truth's meridian ray.
Yet still their votive fingers twine
For Virtue's sons the wreath divine;
Still round the victor's godlike brow
They bid their freshest laurels grow;
And many a chief, of warlike name,
And many a sage, of letter'd fame,
Whom Genius, Worth, and Glory give
In Britain's graver page to live,
By Britain's verse adorn'd shall flourish long,
Her solemn annals grace, and consecrate her song.
Lo, bursting from its scanty source,
Flows through the lowly mead the rippling stream,
No harvests in its waters gleam,
No swelling canvass marks its course:
But as it winds amid the hills,
A thousand congregated rills
Pour in its bed from every side,
And swell the undulating tide,
Till the charm'd eye the expanding deep explores,
While Commerce loads its wave, and Plenty crown its shores.
So through the silent lapse of time,
By Glory's ceaseless currents fed,
Has Britain's power increasing spread,
And roll'd its plenteous waves to every clime.
Mightier in each succeeding age,
She lives through Fame's recording page;
From her scyth'd cars that wide destruction hurl'd
On the proud master of a subject world,
To her bold fleets that o'er the azure main,
Teach Earth's remotest shores to bless her George's reign.
As the wing'd hours, in endless flight,
Urge on their destin'd way,
Fond Hope anticipates a happier day,
While opening ages crowd upon her sight.
Yet still a lingering look is cast
On deeds of ancient glory past.—
Hence dwells the Muse, with partial eye,
On years of crested chivalry—
On England's sons by Egbert join'd;
On Alfred's comprehensive mind,
Who chased Invasion from her coast,
Who boasted yet a prouder boast,
To drive Oppression from her land
By laws which patriot wisdom plann'd?
On Edward's and on Henry's fame,
Mark'd in charactery of Gallic shame;
On the bold warriors of the royal maid
Who high the British trident first display'd—
Hide Britain! hide a guilty age,
Blood-stain'd by wild Sedition's rage,
And on a happier era gaze—
Era of Albion's brighter days,
Now in the blaze of heavenly light that dies,
Sure from its Phœnix nest a form as bright shall rise.
Once more exult Britannia's train,
Triumphant in a female reign,
And all Eliza's fame in Anna blooms again;
Again her victor navies sweep,
By Russel led, the confines of the deep;
While o'er Germania's spacious fields,
Or where her liberal foison Belgium yields,
Unconquer'd Marlbro' bids her thunders fall
On the crush'd helmet of the vanquish'd Gaul.
On fam'd Ramillia's plains he stood,
On Danube's borders, red with hostile blood;
On Oudenard, where George's warlike brand
Proclaim'd the future lords of Albion's land,
The dauntless heroes of the Brunswick line,
Kings of Britannia's choice, true heirs of right divine.
Not great in arms alone—a wreath more fair
Than ever conquest knew to wear,
For ever verdant and for ever young,
Of peace and love domestic sprung,
To concord sacred, and from carnage free,
Shall crown her blest, her proudest victory;
What time she taught the guardian wave that roars
A native rampart round her stormy shores,
To clasp for ever in its fond embrace
The sister nations of Britannia's race,
Ocean's stern regent shouting from his tide,
The realms which God has join'd shall never man divide.
She falls—the queen, the patriot falls—once more
Her eye Britannia turns to Elba's shore;
Again the Saxon steed, whose silver form
Led the brave warrior through the battle's storm,
Waves in her banners wide, and throws
Amazement on her baffled foes,
Happy in mingled folds to join
With each bold tribe of Albion's ancient line,
With Erin's golden harp, and Scotia's threat'ning spine.
Again the battle roars!—again the mind
Of fickle Gaul to proud Iberia join'd,
Shakes the red reins of wild Ambition's car—
Britannia rouses to the naval war,
Prompt to avenge her martial train
Insulted on the wave, her own domain—
While Caledonia's sons misled,
On England's hills rebellion spread;
A transient stain, long wash'd away
By seas of blood, in many a hard fought day.—
With doubtful chance, but unabated rage,
In foreign fields the adverse hosts engage;
On Tournay's plains, the astonish'd foe
Saw Albion's warriors, great in overthrow,
Win in defeat a lasting wreath,
Though stain'd with slaughter, and defac'd by death;
While happier Dettingen bade Victory's wing
Wave o'er Britannia's sons, Britannia's king,
Till Slaughter wearied quits her crimson car,
Yet 'mid a transient peace prepares for future war.
Stung with rekindling rage, from Ganges' shore,
To where Sol's fiery coursers steep
Their glowing bosoms in the Atlantic deep,
Resounds the horrid yell of Discord's roar.
The feather cinctur'd chief, who roves
Through Canada's resounding groves,
Hears Niagara's thundering fall, or laves
In frore Laurentius' sea broad waves—
The blameless tribes of Brama's race,
Who India's spicy forests trace;
The despot lords, and sable bands,
Who tread on Senegal's wide burning sands;
Fair Lusitania's vine clad coast
Rescued from proud Invasion's host,
Germania's broad and rich domain,
Embden's strong towers, and Minden's trophied plain,
Beheld Britannia's ensigns wave,
Potent to conquer, or to save;
While far o'er Ocean's stormy bed,
Wherever Valour fought and Conduct led,
Her ample sails she saw unfurl'd,
Hail'd by surrounding shores, queen of the wat'ry world.
Why clouds the sky? why swells the gathering storm
O'er the soft breezes blown from Zephyr's breath?
'Tis he, the fiend!—I see his ghastly form—
See the terrific arm of death.
High, high he rears his iron dart,
To rive the venerable monarch's heart.
Short triumph!—Glory's amaranthine flowers
Shed heavenly fragrance o'er his parting hours.
Though the funereal cypress shade his bier,
Victoria twines her votive laurels there,
Soothes with her voice his placid breast,
And wafts his spirit to the realms of rest—
While godlike to his grandsire's throne,
Britannia sees her native Prince arise,
Pours the loud pæan to the skies,
Hailing with fond acclaim a Monarch all her own.
Yet fiercer blaz'd awhile the martial flame—
Awhile o'er Gallia's prostrate head,
Her kindred shield Iberia spread,
The lavish purchaser of shame;
Till the united foes o'erborne,
Their honours tarnish'd and their laurels torn,
Yielding the field, the storms of battle cease,
And Europe, joyful, hails the blest return of Peace.
Beneath the olive's fostering shade
Now loves each peaceful art to grow,
Bounty, in seraph garb array'd,
Strikes with her rod the rock, the streams of Science flow.
The marble gives the breathing form,
As nature perfect, and as nature warm;
The canvass to the eye portrays,
With heroes fam'd in earlier days,
Full many a chief of generous worth,
Offspring of Albion's parent earth:
The gallant youth on Abraham's heights who fell,
Where weeping Victory rung his hallow'd knell,
In emulative tints his warriors leads,
'Again for Britain fights, again for Britain bleeds.'
The Muses now their golden lyres
Vibrate responsive to the warbled song,
And Rapture wakes the thrilling wires;
In measur'd cadence to the sound,
Sweet flows the magic strain around,
And charms the listening throng.—
Nor do the softer arts alone,
The genial dew expanding own;
Rais'd by the Monarch's favouring smile,
Severer Science hails the happy isle.
Mathesis with uplifted eye,
Tracing the wonders of the sky,
Now shews the mariner to guide
His vessel through the trackless tide;
Now gazing on the blue profound,
Where whirl the stars in endless round,
Beholds new constellations rise,
New systems crowd the argent skies;
Views with new lustre round the glowing pole,
Wide his stupendous orb the Georgian planet roll;
Seas, where yet the venturous keel
Never plough'd the foaming wave,
Isles, the halcyon gales that feel,
Temper'd by tides the southern shore that lave,
Where smiling Peace and genial Love
Through shades perennial rove;
The bleak inhospitable plains,
Where in dread state antarctic Winter reigns,
Where never yet the solar power
Has warm'd even noontide's sullen hour,
Shot through the frozen sky his vigorous beam,
Unbound the soil, or thaw'd the stream;
In every clime from pole to pole,
Where wind can blow, or billow roll,
Britannia's barks the coast explore,
Waft Science, Peace, and Plenty o'er,
Till Earth's remotest regions share
A wealthy people's stores, a patriot Monarch's care.
Proud o'er the heaving surges of the deep,
See the tall ship in state majestic ride!
Wide spread her swelling sails in ample sweep,
Dread roars the thunder from her lofty side;
Awful she looms, the terror of the main,
And billows rage, and tempests howl in vain—
Yet in the planks unheeded, day by day,
Works the insidious worm his subtle way;
The puny malice of an insect train
Destroys what mountain waves, and winds, assail in vain.
Fell Sedition's rancorous race,
Treachery, with serpent eye,
Sophistry, whose guileful tongue,
Pleads the specious cause of wrong,
Envy, with her Gorgon face,
And smooth Hypocrisy,
These dire fiends united bore
Their poison to the Atlantic shore;
All, with silent hate impress'd,
The offspring lur'd from the fond mother's breast.—
Betray'd—deceiv'd—the thoughtless brood,
Rear'd, like the pelican, with parent blood,
Turn their wild vengeance 'gainst Britannia's heart,
And aim, with fatal rage, the parricidal dart.
Mad to destroy an envied foe,
The Gaul vindictive aids the traitorous blow.—
As when o'er Asian plains pale Eurus flings
Contagion from his hovering wings,
While issue from his noisome breath,
Dark fumes of pestilence and death,
The wretched inmates of the soil,
Stung by insatiate lust of spoil,
Reckless of fate, the tainted plunder seize,
And drink polluted steams of dire disease.
So from the borders of the Atlantic shore,
The faithless race the taint of faction bore.
Each poison rank in Gaul's prolific air,
Sheds wide its seeds, nor asks the planter's care;
Fed by the produce of the region fell,
Unnumber'd monsters thrive, the progeny of hell.
Oppression's black insatiate brood,
And raging Lust, and Murder steep'd in blood,
Mad Anarchy's tumultuous band,
The locusts of a wretched land;
Wild Atheism's blood-shot eye,
Lifted in impious threat against the sky,
Who from the dying wretch, with fiendlike power,
Tears the last comfort of the parting hour—
All drink new vigour from the fatal air,
Raise high their baleful crests, and boast their empire there.
O'er Europe's coasts the black contagion spreads—
From sluggish waves that scarcely roll,
Beneath the torpid influence of the pole,
To summer seas renown'd of yore,
That lave Hesperia and the Grecian shore;
O'er all, the gale malignant poison sheds.
The fatal Siroc for a while
Blows o'er our distant fields, and taints our happy isle.
But soon the guardian angel of the main,
Protective of his favourite reign,
Swells the fresh breeze—before its healing breath
Flies the destructive progeny of death;
Freed from the pest alone Britannia stands,
Bulwark and envy of surrounding lands,
While trembling Europe Gallic rage deplores,
Through her unpeopled walls, round all her ravag'd shores.
Mysterious Heaven!—at thy behest
Ne'er let misdeeming man repine;
'Tis our's to bow with patient breast,
To punish, and to spare, is thine.
What though with giant arm the host,
Murder their joy, and blasphemy their boast,
The favouring angel seem to guide;
Though Fame and Conquest fan their feverish pride;
Though their red feet in impious triumph trod
On the crush'd servants of the living God;
Does not thy voice direct afar
The fury of the elemental war?
Do not the pestilence and storm
The awful mandates of thy will perform?
Whether the thunder's threat'ning power
Tremendous shake the midnight hour,
Or Zephyr's genial breeze of dawn,
Scatter fresh blossoms o'er the vernal lawn;
Whether Hygeia swell the balmy gale,
Or o'er the sky Fate's noisome vapours sail,
Be this on man's submissive soul impress'd,
All waits upon thy will, and what thou will'st is best.
Ye Belgian regions! Lincelle's glorious plain,
And Valentinian's conquer'd towers proclaim
Of Britain's generous sons the warlike fame,
Brave on the embattled field as on the main.—
The strongest arm is weak to save
The treacherous self-devoted slave.—
With torpid gaze, lo! Europe's sons beheld
Wave after wave, with rising force impell'd,
Roll o'er their plains in fatal power,
Their harvests waste, and shake their loftiest tower.
From countless foes, and timid friends,
Britannia's host her sea-girt rock ascends,
And views the storm, that tears surrounding lands,
Break like the idle surge against her wave-worn sands.
In vain the proud vindictive foe
Threatens to deal the homefelt blow—
Lo, from the loom, the farm, the fold,
Her voluntary swains enroll'd,
Quit for the sword life's calm domestic charms;
Each wood the clarion shakes, each valley gleams with arms.
Amaz'd, abash'd, the vaunting host,
That frown'd destruction on her chalky coast,
Flies with its boasted chief to meet disgrace,
'Mid Syria's glowing sands, and Egypt's servile race.
The murky cloud that wraps the skies,
Melts to the winds—With golden gleam
Again Hyperion sheds his radiant beam,
And vernal gales and hours resplendent rise.
Lo! where the sons of havock spoil
Fair Salem's venerable soil,
Profane the consecrated earth,
Scene of a Saviour's hallow'd birth,
By favouring breezes wafted, to the skies
Britannia's red cross banner flies,
Speaks to the impious foe celestial ire,
In voice of thunder, and with breath of fire—
Soon falls the boast of Gallia's demon fame,
In whelming billows sunk, or wrapp'd in sheets of flame.
Scenes portray'd in ancient lore,
Scenes whence England's chiefs of yore,
Raising high the blazon'd shield,
O'er Palestine's religious field
The wreaths of conquest bore;
Acon's bulwarks, Jaffa's towers,
Leading where his mail clad powers,
Richard to the Paynim dart
Dauntless bar'd his lion heart—
Where the venom'd stroke of death,
Aim'd at Edward's bosom, fail'd,
While his faithful consort's breath
From the deep wound the poisonous taint inhal'd;
There, with pious glory bright,
Another Briton braves the fight,
Follow'd by a gallant train
Of naval warriors, from their native main,
Who round their walls a breathing bulwark rise.
Serenely brave the Christian hero stands,
And the proud spoiler of Hesperian lands,
Before the warlike few, dismay'd and vanquish'd, flies.
Excited by the vaunting foe,
Again the Indian Satrap's pride
The force of Britain's arms defied,
And aim'd the fatal blow—
Again decreed her warlike train
Should fall by Murder's arm, or wear Oppression's chain.—
Vain hope! her veteran bands defy
The glowing sand, the sultry sky,
Wind through the deep irriguous vale,
The rampire-crested mountain scale,
Till steep'd in gore, before his captur'd walls,
Breathing revenge in death, the fierce usurper falls.
Glorious and godlike heirs of fame,
With sinewy arm, with daring breast, who brave
The howling tempest and the heaving wave,
And hostile vengeance pour'd in vollied flame,
Ocean, where'er his billows flow,
Records your conquests o'er the foe;
Where by disgrac'd Iberia's shore
Biscaya's turbid waters roar;
Where by the Gaul's insulted coast
Destruction wrecks her scatter'd host;
By Erin's rocks, Batavia's sand,
Hesperia's liberated strand,
Proudly ye ride, while round each sheltering cape
The adverse fleets inglorious speed their way,
Cautious avoid the unequal fray,
Their proudest boast to fly, their triumph to escape.
Spirits of warriors! who of yore,
By yellow Tiber's trophied shore,
Saw heap'd on rich Campania's soil,
A conquer'd world's collected spoil;
And thou, O Julius, whose embattled host
First shook Invasion's scourge on Albion's coast,
Say, when from Cassibellan's agile car,
Flash'd the just vengeance of defensive war;
Say, did ye deem that e'er the painted race,
In distant times, your shore remote should trace,
Chase from your far fam'd towers Oppression's doom,
Restore your wasted fields, protect the walls of Rome.
Sire of the winter drear,
Who lead'st the months in circling dance along,
May Peace and Concord claim the votive song,
That chants the glories of the rising year;
For Albion longs around her generous brow
To bind the olive's sober bough,
Though unappall'd her laurel'd front defies
The fiery blast that flashes through the skies.—
Wooing, O Peace! thy halcyon ray,
Ready she stands for war, nor shuns the ensanguin'd fray;
But on Ierne's kindred sky
She casts Affection's fondest eye.
O! as the era past saw Anna join
Each warrior nation of Britannia's line,
So may the auspicious hours that now ascend,
The sister isles in ceaseless Union blend—
While Ocean's guardian arms around them thrown,
Form to their coasts an adamantine zone;
There, proudly rising o'er the circling main,
Lord of the waves, their patriot King shall reign;
And fam'd through every clime, from pole to pole,
Long as the unfailing stream of Time shall roll,
Religion, Virtue, Glory, shall adorn
The illustrious age of George, the Monarch Briton born!
by Henry James Pye.
Alfred. Book Iii.
ARGUMENT. Measures against the Danes.—Prophecy of the future Fortunes of Alfred and his Posterity.
Along the borders of the silver Thone,
With alders dank, and matted sedge o'er-grown,
Led by the guidance of the shepherd swain,
Unseen, and silent, pass the cautious train,
Till, mid the conflux of the mingling streams,
A deep morass the emerging island seems.
Across the ford the guide directs their course,
Each stemming, with his arms, the current's force,
They pass, with toil, the dangerous traject o'er,
For, swoll'n by showers, the angry waters roar.
Then, Alfred, did thy generous bosom know
A pride nor pomp, nor luxury, can bestow,
When thy firm limbs, with nerve superior strung,
And active strength, the endowment of the young,
With abler effort gave thee force to guide,
The old and feeble through the threatening tide.
Nor did that arm, which oft in Glory's field
Had taught the might of giant foes to yield,
Disdain, by many a vigorous stroke, to save
A peasant's household from the whelming wave;
Nor did that voice, which oft, with martial breath,
Had roused the soldier's heart to war and death,
Disdain, with words of mild reproof, to cheer
A woman's weakness, and an infant's fear.—
Then, as Benignity's consoling breast
The real source of patriot zeal express'd,
Fame, from the warrior turns awhile, the eye,
To hail the hero of humanity.
Fix'd on the arid spot, whose scanty bounds
On every side the deep morass surrounds,
The monarch, and his martial friend, with care,
'Gainst close surprise and bold attack prepare;
Exert each art their safety to ensure,
And every pass, with wary eye, secure.
Oft from the isle, beneath the twilight shade,
By Ethelwood attended, Alfred stray'd,
And many a chief conceal'd, of gentle blood,
They found, and tempted o'er the sheltering flood;
Hence of fair Athelney the glorious name
Shall flourish still, the favourite theme of Fame,
The Isle of Nobles live, recorded long
In each historian's page, and poet's song.
Not to inglorious ease can be confined
The sanguine efforts of the hero's mind;
Valour, when devastation spreads around,
Sits not in Safety's rosy fetters bound:
Oft issuing from the marsh, their midnight arms
Harass the scatter'd Danes with new alarms.
Reckless of vanquish'd foes, the victor lay,
To bloated sloth, and foul excess, a prey;
Hence oft the Saxons, from the slumbering horde,
Seize their own flocks to store the genial board;
While Slaughter stalks amid the astonish'd foe,
The vengeance dreadful, though unseen the blow.
Oft too the monarch, stealing from the cares
Of present councils, and of future wars,
Through the lone groves would pace, in solemn mood,
Wooing the pensive charms of Solitude.
While, deep revolving in his fancy's range
Of human deeds, the desultory change,
By Hope encouraged, or by Fear depress'd,
Contending passions shook his mighty breast.
It chanced one stormy morn, as forth he sped,
The rude blast whistling round his listless head,
For equal rise, if care engross the mind,
The breeze of summer, or the wintry wind;
While through the wood, in pensive musing lost,
He stray'd,—his path a lucid streamlet cross'd:
Aside he turn'd, and traced the rivulet's course,
With pace reverted, toward its mountain source.
Onward, with heedless aim, his footsteps move
Along the dell, through many a tangled grove,
Till, issuing sudden from the gloomy shade,
He trod the verdure of a grassy glade,
Where shines the expanded water, clear and bright,
A lucid mirror to the tranquil sight,
Smooth as the chrystal's polish'd surface; save
Where, from the shrubby heights, the sparkling wave,
Dashing from rock to rock in frothy wreath,
Ruffles the border of the lake beneath.
The drooping willows fringe the edge, and seem
To drink fresh verdure from the passing stream.
Here mossy cliffs, with mountain plants o'ergrown,
The wild goat browsing from the pendant stone,
Their rifted sides echoing the sea mew's clang,
With threatening summits o'er the valley hang.
While, from the dell, receding gently, there
The rising upland softly melts to air;
Whose bowering forests round the placid flood,
Wave to the eye, a theatre of wood;
There the bright beech its silver bole displays,
And giant oaks their massy foilage raise,
The trembling poplar's humbler leaf beneath
Whispers responsive to the rude wind's breath;
And, with the woodbine mix'd, and sylvan rose,
In scarlet pride the mountain service glows.
In foaming eddy, where the lucid tide
Pours headlong down the high clift's rugged side,
A grove of dusky pines athwart the glade
Shoot, with projected limbs, a solemn shade;
And as aloft the quivering branches play,
Shut from the soil the garish eye of day.
Deep in the dark recess, with briars o'er-grown,
A cavern opens in the mossy stone:
O'er its dank mouth the flexile ivy grows,
Where an aged yew funereal shadows throws;
Scath'd oaks their knotty branches fling around,
With mystic misseltoe their summits crown'd;
While, echoing to the torrent's distant shock,
Howls the dread whirlwind through the creviced rock.—
Albeit unused to fear, the monarch's breast
Pants, with an awe, unfelt before, impress'd,
And, o'er his better reason, sudden spread
Terrific chills of superstitious dread.
The tempest's voice that usher'd in the day,
In distant murmurs faintly dies away,
The screaming birds their boding carol cease,
And even the torrent's roar seems hush'd to peace.
While, from the rock's deep bosom, notes so sweet,
Of such enchanting strain, the hero greet,
Entranced he stands, the lay divine to hear,
And all Elysium opens on his ear.
The dulcet numbers ceased; with awe-struck breast
Alfred the Genius of the place address'd:
'Whoe'er thou art, whether of mortal line,
Bless'd with celestial gifts, and song divine,
Or some attendant of the angelic host,
The holy guardian of this favour'd coast,
Before whose voice obedient tempests fly,
Whose lays melodious calm the troubled sky;
To me propitious be thy powers inclined,
To me most lost, most wretched, of mankind.'
A hollow murmur check'd him as he spoke,
And, from the rock, a voice tremendous broke.—
'O, King of England! not to man is given
To fathom or arraign the will of Heaven!
Oft in the bright serene of prosperous days,
Unseen, the Demon of Destruction plays;
Oft through Misfortune's drear and bleak abode,
To power and greatness lies the rugged road,
'Tis man's to bow beneath the chastening rod,
Virtue's true meed lies in the hand of God.'
With sudden horror rock'd the trembling ground,
And distant thunder shook the vast profound;
When, from the cave, a venerable form
Stalk'd forth, announced by the preluding storm.
About his limbs a snowy garment roll'd
Floats to the wind in many an ample fold;
His brow serene a rich tiara bound,
And loose his silver tresses stream'd around.
In his right hand a golden harp declared
The sacred function of the Druid bard.—
Soon as the royal chief the vision saw,
To earth he bent, in reverential awe.
'Rise, son of regal dignity,' he said,
'Nor bow to human dust thy laurel'd head!
Mortal like thee, I draw precarious breath,
Subject to pain, to sorrow, and to death.
'Tis thine o'er mighty nations to preside,
Command their armies, and their councils guide;
'Tis mine to look beyond Time's passing date,
And read the page obscure of future fate,
Strike, with bold hand, the free prophetic lyre,
And wake to distant years the warbling wire:
Our powers alike, by power supreme, are given,
Each but the feeble minister of Heaven.—
'Mid famed Cornubia's rocks, wash'd by the main,
Oft have I listen'd to the mystic strain,
What time on old Bellerium's topmost height
Aerial visions swam before my sight,
And lays divine, by voice immortal, sung,
In heavenly cadence o'er my senses hung.
Nor is to me unknown the sacred lore
Of Mona's Druid caves, and Arvon's shore.—
Even now I feel the enthusiast flame arise,
And unborn ages burst upon my eyes;
Visions of distant times before me roll,
And all the Godhead rushes on my soul.'
His eye-balls, as he spoke, with rapture glow'd,
His snowy robes in ampler volume flow'd,
The radiant fillets that his temples bind,
Burst—looser float his tresses to the wind;
His form expands, he moves with firmer tread,
And lambent glories play around his head:—
With rapid hand he strikes the sacred lyre,
To strains of rapture wakes the thrilling wire,
And, to the sound responsive, pours along
The fervid energy of mystic song.
'As the dark clouds whose vapoury mantles spread
A dusky veil round Camelet's dreary head,
Roll down his steepy sides,—and ether blue
Gives all the gorgeous landscape to the view,
So the dim shades o'er future scenes that lie,
Disperse, and Fate lies open to my eye.
As purer skies to transient storms succeed,
And happier hours the auspicious seasons lead,
So yields the gloom that hangs o'er Albion's isle,
To brighter hopes, and prosperous Fortune's smile.
Invasion haunts her rescued plains no more,
But hostile inroad flies the dangerous shore;
Where'er her armies march, her ensigns play,
Fame points the course, and Glory leads the way.
Her fleets o'er Ocean's tributary throne,
Rear vast, and wide, an empire of their own,
Supreme from where the radiant lord of day,
Shoots o'er the glowing wave his orient ray,
To where their fires his burning axles steep
In the blue bosom of the Atlantic deep:
Alike in arts and arms illustrious found,
Proudly she sits with either laurel crown'd.
'Yet what avail the trophies Conquest brings,
If Power oppressive, from her hovering wings,
Baleful she shake?—or what the victor's wreath,
If raised in blood from baleful seeds of death?—
Hail England's favour'd Monarch!—round thy head
Shall Freedom's hands perennial laurels spread;
Fenced by whose sacred leaves, the royal brow
Mocks the vain lightnings aim'd by Faction's blow.
'Beyond the proudest germ of Fame that springs,
Rear'd by the Muse, to grace victorious kings;
Above the forms of Liberty, that raise
The sons of Greece and Rome to deathless praise;
Above the labour'd scenes that sages draw,
Ideal forms of polity and law,
By thee a glorious fabric be design'd,
The noblest effort of a patriot mind.—
On a firm basis shall the structure stand,
Defying Time's, deriding Faction's, hand.—
Not a frail pile that mad Ambition rears
On Folly's hopes, or Guilt's repulsive fears;
Where specious Sophistry persuades the crowd
To adulate the selfish, and the loud;
Or, by some fawning demagogue address'd,
To lift a people's minion o'er the rest,
Bending to idol power the servile knee,
The worst of slaves, yet boasting they are free.
Thy code, arranged by Nature's purest plan,
Shall guard the freedom, and the rights of man,—
Man's real right's—not Folly's maniac dream,
Senseless Equality's pernicious theme;
But that true freedom, where all orders draw
Equal protection from an equal law,
And by that equal law restrain'd alone,
Nor fear the noble proud, or prouder throne.
Nobles, the people's shield, the monarch's arm,
Powerful to aid, but impotent to harm;
A sacred throne on Mercy's basis rear'd,
By Virtue foster'd, by Oppression fear'd;—
To which thy guardian laws shall boast they gave
One power by aught uncheck'd, the power to save.
No tyrant here the public weal can harm,
Unheard his mandate, and unnerved his arm,
While the imperial patriot is endued
With unresisted energy of good.
O happiest state on earth, to mortal given,
Pure right divine, true delegate of Heaven,
To whom its happiest attributes belong,
The bless'd impossibility of wrong.—
Each rank supported, firm, by mutual aid,
Each state in Wisdom's equal balance weigh'd;
Say, can the mighty fabric ever fall,
Raised on the weal, the liberty of all?
Still shall it mock, to Time's remotest hour,
The mine of Treason, and the shock of Power.
'Now, in yon visionary scene, behold
Thy future sons their shadowy forms unfold,
What various glories on thy offspring wait,
And learn of heroes yet unborn, the fate.
Full many an inroad of the hostile Dane
Shall yet, with native gore, die England's plain,
Alternate each shall sink, or each prevail,
As wavering Fortune lifts her dubious scale,
Till the bold sons of either warlike line
Their mingled blood in social compact join.
Even now are moor'd, near Isca's sandy bed,
A Danish host, by valiant Rollo led.
Heaven's awful mandates to the chieftain's sight,
Reveal'd in boding visions of the night,
Warn him to quit Danmonia's fertile shore,
Plough the blue wave, and Gallia's realms explore,
There shall a mighty province long proclaim,
Conquer'd by northern arms, the Norman name.
Their swords the southern regions shall subdue,
And fame, and power, through milder climes pursue,
Fields which Ilissus' hallow'd current laves,
And regions wash'd by Tiber's yellow waves;
Awe the proud tyrant of the turban'd host,
And rule, in peaceful sway, Sicilia's coast,
Reserved, in Heaven's appointed time, again
To lead their squadrons to Britannia's plain,
By victor armies destined to fulfil
Of Alfred's sainted heir the sacred will;
Till Albion views her Alfred's line restored,
And hails Plantagenet her Saxon lord.
'Freedom's perennial scyon, that defies
The ungenial blasts of Hyperborean skies,
Which, when its roots the savage warrior tore
From Græcia's isles, and mild Hesperia's shore,
Struck its strong fibres in the frost-bound glade,
Which black Hercynia's piny forests shade,
To Albion's happier soil transplanted, found
A fostering climate, and congenial ground.
'Even from the change the Norman race shall bring,
The feudal vassal, and the warrior king,
Though one vast army seem to meet the eyes,
Shall public safety, public freedom, rise;
Hence, on Britannia's plains, the rural lord
Grasps, with a freeman's arm, the freeman's sword;
'Mid senates hence, his independent voice
Speaks the free suffrage of a people's choice,
Teaches the servile minion fear to own,
Or crushes factions that besiege the throne.
'Behold, where Thames, through Runny's fertile meads,
Placid, and full, his wave pellucid leads
To England's swains, and England's chiefs, his brow
Prone on the earth, the baffled tyrant bow,
Imperial Freedom, waving in her hand
Her charter, fixing rights by Alfred plann'd,
Careful to foster, with protective wing,
The sacred pandects of a patriot king.
'And see, ascending from his winding shore,
Aloft heroic Honour proudly soar
O'er the plumed host, in blazon'd trophies dight,
Won from the vanquish'd Gaul in many a fight,
A warlike son of thine, by Conquest crown'd,
For knighthood twines the garter's mystic round;
Reviving deeds, of ancient Honour born,
Heroic wreaths by British Arthur worn;
What time, at Freedom's call, his dauntless host,
Against thy sires, defended Albion's coast.
Rears Fame's bright guerdon o'er the waving crest,
Spreads Faith's true cross o'er every pious breast,
While Europe's kings, and Rome's imperial lord,
Sit, glad companions, round the equal board,
And Virtue, to a people's general gaze,
The unsullied wreath of Chivalry displays.
'But many a cloud of horror and dismay
The horizon shades of Albion's brightest day.
Though dress'd in halcyon smiles, with ray serene,
Sol's golden orb may chear the rural scene,
Yet gathering mists, by winds tempestuous driven,
Oft blunt his beam, and hide the face of Heaven;
Nor on this seat of earth, where suns and showers
Alternate mark the seasons and the hours,
Can man expect that years shall wing their flight,
For ever tranquil, and for ever bright,
Till soaring o'er the atmosphere, that flings
Vapour and tempest from its watery wings,
On Faith and Virtue's pinions borne, he rise
To purest ether spread o'er cloudless skies,
And drink, with eagle eye, the empyreal ray,
'Mid the blest mansions of eternal day.
'Lo, died in civil blood, the argent rose,
In rival tint, with guilty crimson glows,
Till, blending o'er the fall'n usurper's tomb,
In friendly wreath the mingled flowrets bloom,
To crown Britannia's native race, who stand
With thee, the avengers of their native land.
For now, even now, rough Cambria's warlike coast
Pours, from a thousand hills, the auxiliar host.—
From Saxon arms receding, though they bore
Their sacred rites to Mona's Druid shore.
Sons of the chiefs who Cæsar's arms withstood,
Of Cassibellan's, and Caradoc's blood,
Sons of the chiefs our glorious Arthur led,
Waving their spears, with Saxon carnage red.
To them shall bow again the British line,
And Tudor's royal stem unite with thine;
Tudor, whose ancient claim from Cadwal springs,
Whom Cambria weeps, the last of British kings;
While Albion views her pristine fame display'd,
Proud of the triumphs of the Briton maid.
'Alas! as down the stream of Time, the eye
Anxious I throw, new horrors I descry.—
To England's fields, what scenes of discord bring
A factious people, a misguided king.—
Hide, blushing Albion!—hide the impious strife
Closed with the offering of a monarch's life,
To mark the hopes which happier hours afford,
Of rescued rights, and regal power restored.
'O, wayward race of man! by woe untamed,
By dark Misfortune's lessons unreclaim'd—
Albion laments again the fatal hour,
When royal frenzy grasps at boundless power.
Temperate,—for sad experience well had shewn,
Her own best rights were buried with the throne;
Temperate, but firm, in law and reason's cause,
Again the sword, reluctant, Freedom draws;
But her true bulwark guards, with jealous eye,
The crown revering, though the tyrant fly.
'At length, where Elbe's parental current flows,
Once more her eye insulted England throws;
Her hopes regard that sacred source, once more,
Whence Saxon freedom bless'd her happy shore;
For there the scyons of thy generous line,
In patriot Virtue's pure regalia, shine:
There, on thy banners, still the Saxon steed
Flies o'er the crimson field in mimic speed.
To ancient rights, which, long as Britain's isle
Flourish'd in Monarchy's paternal smile,
From parent worth and warlike fame begun,
In long succession pass'd from sire to son;
From gods and heroes of a fabling age,
Through chiefs enroll'd on History's sacred page,
Loud Fame announces, with an angel's voice,
Added, in Brunswick's claim, a people's choice.
'And see, best glory of that patriot race,
Her monarch, Briton-born, Britannia grace;
Loved, honour'd, and revered by all, save those
Who, foes to Freedom, to her friends are foes.
But foes in vain—for Anarchy's wild roar
Shall never shake this Heaven-defended shore,
While Freedom's sons gird Freedom's sacred throne,
With loyal Faith's impenetrable zone.
O'er laurels Rome's sweet poet cull'd to grace
The mighty hero of the Julian race,
Shall rise the glory of his honour'd name,
‘Nor oceans bound his sway, nor stars his fame.’—
Ocean but rolls his azure waves to guide
His fleets to empire, o'er his ambient tide;
And far beyond the planets that appear
Circling, in ceaseless course, the earthly sphere,
Beyond the stretch of human eye-sight far,
Improving Science hails the Georgian star.
'My soul, from times remote, reduce the lay;
Of Alfred's prosperous hours the pride display.
Oft through the thick expanse of sable clouds,
Whose gloom the blunted beam of morning shrouds,
The struggling ray of Sol awhile contends,
Yet, when his car the arch of Heaven ascends,
When, from the azure vault, his glories shine,
Sowing the etherial plains with flame divine;
Though harvests rise with vegetative power,
Swells the ripe fruit, and glows the blooming flower,
Remembering still the hours of winter pass'd,
The transient sunshine, and the ungenial blast,
The wary husbandman, with prescient care,
Guards 'gainst the driving storm, and piercing air.
So, when emerging from Misfortune's shade,
Alfred, thy patriot virtues shine display'd,
And tranquil days, with Plenty in their train,
Brighten once more the renovated plain;
When the tumultuous shouts of battle cease,
When thrills the warbling string with notes of peace,
Ne'er let thy active mind in sloth repose,
But jealous watch the blessings Peace bestows.
Be it thy care, by Freedom's ready guard,
Each threatening blow Invasion aims, to ward.
Thy voice shall teach the labourer of the field
The sickle, and the sword, by turns to wield;
By thee array'd, lo! Britain, wide and far,
Trains, 'mid the smiles of Peace, her sons to war.
Now the industrious swain, with rural toil,
‘Drives the keen plough-share, through the stubborn soil,’
And now aside the shining coulter throws,
Grasps the keen sword, and braves his country's foes;
Follows his native lord through War's alarms,
In peace his patron, and his chief in arms.
O, shame to England's glory!—Can it be?—
Too sure the stain my starting eye-balls see.
See where Corruption's black insidious band,
Wrest Freedom's faulchion from the Freeman's hand;
Wrest from the Briton's hand, and bid a host
Of mercenary aliens guard the coast.
Hail, glorious sage! immortal patriot, hail!
Whose fervent words o'er dark mistrust prevail.
I see, once more, Britannia's arms restored,
Once more the indignant Briton grasp the sword,
The rural empire hail its rural band,
And Chatham renovate what Alfred plann'd.
'Albion, in thee, shall own the power that gave
A certain empire o'er the uncertain wave,
Taught her commercial sails the surge to sweep,
Or awe, with warrior prow, the hostile deep.
Far o'er the distant wave, where rising day
Throws, on the sultry coast, its orient ray,
Where, through the shade of many a fragrant grove,
By Ganges' stream the guiltless Bramins rove,
To the lone Pilgrim shall thy vessels bear
Of English charity the fostering care,
Pointing the way where, in succeeding days,
Thy sons an empire o'er the East shall raise,
Mock the vain tear of Ammon's haughty son,
And win a world his armies never won.
Thy barks shall sail through pathless seas that roll,
With sluggish current, round the freezing pole,
With prow adventurous, labouring to explore
A northern passage to the Indian shore.—
O, glorious effort of a daring train!
The attempt illustrious, though the issue vain:
In times remote shall Albion oft pursue,
Successless, yet unfoil'd, this specious view.
Yet, though opposing continents appear,
And icy horrors of the polar year,
To bar her course,—full many a fertile isle,
Adorn'd with lavish Nature's sweetest smile,
Studding the bosom of the southern wave,
Rewards the failing labours of the brave.
'By Conquest crown'd, while Britain's navies ride,
In state imperial, o'er the obedient tide,
While, train'd to arms, her brave and hardy swains
Stand a firm barrier to their native plains,
Scorn'd shall Invasion's idle terrors sleep,
Whelm'd, by her watchful navies, in the deep;
Or, by the scowling tempest wafted o'er,
Destruction meet upon her martial shore.
'And see, by fair Augusta's stately towers,
Pellucid Thames his placid current pours,
Wafting, through many a league of Albion's reign,
The golden produce of her happy plain,
Or, bearing on his refluent tide, the sail
Of Commerce, swell'd by Fortune's favouring gale.
To pile her marts contending nations meet,
The world's productions offering at her feet.
Whate'er of wealth in various regions shines,
Glows in their sands, or lurks within their mines;
Whate'er from bounteous Nature men receive,
Whatever toil can rear, or art can weave,
Her princely merchants bear from every zone,
Their country's stores increasing with their own.
And, as the dewy moisture Sol exhales,
With beam refulgent, from the irriguous vales,
Descends in favouring showers of genial rain,
To fertilize the hill and arid plain,
So wealth, collected by the merchant's hand,
Spreads wide, in general plenty, o'er the land.
'Phantoms of glory, stay!—They fleet along,
Born on the stream of visionary song.—
Hear ye yon shout?—The shout of triumph hear!
It swells, it bursts, on my enraptured ear.—
The hour of vengeance comes! On yon bleak height
The vulture claps his wings, and snuffs the fight.
See o'er the ranks the crimson banners float!
Hark, the loud clarion swells the brazen note!
Denmark's dark raven, cowering, hears the sound,
His flagging pinion droops, and sweeps the ground.'
He ceased.—Amazed the wondering warrior stood,
The mystic numbers chill'd his curdling blood.—
Pale sinks the seer in speechless extacy,
Wild heaves his breast, and haggard rolls his eye;
Till, seizing with his hand the sacred lyre,
His skilful fingers swept again the wire,
Soft o'er his mind the stream of music stole,
And sooth'd the labouring rapture of his soul.
by Henry James Pye.
The Botanic Garden( Part I)
The Economy Of Vegetation
STAY YOUR RUDE STEPS! whose throbbing breasts infold
The legion-fiends of Glory, or of Gold!
Stay! whose false lips seductive simpers part,
While Cunning nestles in the harlot-heart!-
For you no Dryads dress the roseate bower,
For you no Nymphs their sparkling vases pour;
Unmark'd by you, light Graces swim the green,
And hovering Cupids aim their shafts, unseen.
'But THOU! whose mind the well-attemper'd ray
Of Taste and Virtue lights with purer day;
Whose finer sense each soft vibration owns
With sweet responsive sympathy of tones;
So the fair flower expands it's lucid form
To meet the sun, and shuts it to the storm;-
For thee my borders nurse the fragrant wreath,
My fountains murmur, and my zephyrs breathe;
Slow slides the painted snail, the gilded fly
Smooths his fine down, to charm thy curious eye;
On twinkling fins my pearly nations play,
Or win with sinuous train their trackless way;
My plumy pairs in gay embroidery dress'd
Form with ingenious bill the pensile nest,
To Love's sweet notes attune the listening dell,
And Echo sounds her soft symphonious shell.
'And, if with Thee some hapless Maid should stray,
Disasterous Love companion of her way,
Oh, lead her timid steps to yonder glade,
Whose arching cliffs depending alders shade;
There, as meek Evening wakes her temperate breeze,
And moon-beams glimmer through the trembling trees,
The rills, that gurgle round, shall soothe her ear,
The weeping rocks shall number tear for tear;
There as sad Philomel, alike forlorn,
Sings to the Night from her accustomed thorn;
While at sweet intervals each falling note
Sighs in the gale, and whispers round the grot;
The sister-woe shall calm her aching breast,
And softer slumbers steal her cares to rest.-
'Winds of the North! restrain your icy gales,
Nor chill the bosom of these happy vales!
Hence in dark heaps, ye gathering Clouds, revolve!
Disperse, ye Lightnings! and, ye Mists, dissolve!
-Hither, emerging from yon orient skies,
BOTANIC GODDESS! bend thy radiant eyes;
O'er these soft scenes assume thy gentle reign,
Pomona, Ceres, Flora in thy train;
O'er the still dawn thy placid smile effuse,
And with thy silver sandals print the dews;
In noon's bright blaze thy vermil vest unfold,
And wave thy emerald banner star'd with gold.'
Thus spoke the GENIUS, as He stept along,
And bade these lawns to Peace and Truth belong;
Down the steep slopes He led with modest skill
The willing pathway, and the truant rill,
Stretch'd o'er the marshy vale yon willowy mound,
Where shines the lake amid the tufted ground,
Raised the young woodland, smooth'd the wavy green,
And gave to Beauty all the quiet scene.-
She comes!-the GODDESS!-through the whispering air,
Bright as the morn, descends her blushing car;
Each circling wheel a wreath of flowers intwines,
And gem'd with flowers the silken harness shines;
The golden bits with flowery studs are deck'd,
And knots of flowers the crimson reins connect.-
And now on earth the silver axle rings,
And the shell sinks upon its slender springs;
Light from her airy seat the Goddess bounds,
And steps celestial press the pansied grounds.
Fair Spring advancing calls her feather'd quire,
And tunes to softer notes her laughing lyre;
Bids her gay hours on purple pinions move,
And arms her Zephyrs with the shafts of Love,
Pleased GNOMES, ascending from their earthy beds,
Play round her graceful footsteps, as she treads;
Gay SYLPHS attendant beat the fragrant air
On winnowing wings, and waft her golden hair;
Blue NYMPHS emerging leave their sparkling streams,
And FIERY FORMS alight from orient beams;
Musk'd in the rose's lap fresh dews they shed,
Or breathe celestial lustres round her head.
First the fine Forms her dulcet voice requires,
Which bathe or bask in elemental fires;
From each bright gem of Day's refulgent car,
From the pale sphere of every twinkling star,
From each nice pore of ocean, earth, and air,
With eye of flame the sparkling hosts repair,
Mix their gay hues, in changeful circles play,
Like motes, that tenant the meridian ray.-
So the clear Lens collects with magic power
The countless glories of the midnight hour;
Stars after stars with quivering lustre fall,
And twinkling glide along the whiten'd wall.-
Pleased, as they pass, she counts the glittering bands,
And stills their murmur with her waving hands;
Each listening tribe with fond expectance burns,
And now to these, and now to those, she turns.
I. 'NYMPHS OF PRIMEVAL FIRE! YOUR vestal train
Hung with gold-tresses o'er the vast inane,
Pierced with your silver shafts the throne of Night,
And charm'd young Nature's opening eyes with light;
When LOVE DIVINE, with brooding wings unfurl'd,
Call'd from the rude abyss the living world.
'-LET THERE BE LIGHT!' proclaim'd the ALMIGHTY LORD,
Astonish'd Chaos heard the potent word;-
Through all his realms the kindling Ether runs,
And the mass starts into a million suns;
Earths round each sun with quick explosions burst,
And second planets issue from the first;
Bend, as they journey with projectile force,
In bright ellipses their reluctant course;
Orbs wheel in orbs, round centres centres roll,
And form, self-balanced, one revolving Whole.
-Onward they move amid their bright abode,
Space without bound, THE BOSOM OF THEIR GOD!
II. 'ETHEREAL POWERS! YOU chase the shooting stars,
Or yoke the vollied lightenings to your cars,
Cling round the aërial bow with prisms bright,
And pleased untwist the sevenfold threads of light;
Eve's silken couch with gorgeous tints adorn,
And fire the arrowy throne of rising Morn.
-OR, plum'd with flame, in gay battalion's spring
To brighter regions borne on broader wing;
Where lighter gases, circumfused on high,
Form the vast concave of exterior sky;
With airy lens the scatter'd rays assault,
And bend the twilight round the dusky vault;
Ride, with broad eye and scintillating hair,
The rapid Fire-ball through the midnight air;
Dart from the North on pale electric streams,
Fringing Night's sable robe with transient beams.
-OR rein the Planets in their swift careers,
Gilding with borrow'd light their twinkling spheres;
Alarm with comet-blaze the sapphire plain,
The wan stars glimmering through its silver train;
Gem the bright Zodiac, stud the glowing pole,
Or give the Sun's phlogistic orb to roll.
III. NYMPHS! YOUR fine forms with steps impassive mock
Earth's vaulted roofs of adamantine rock;
Round her still centre tread the burning soil,
And watch the billowy Lavas, as they boil;
Where, in basaltic caves imprison'd deep,
Reluctant fires in dread suspension sleep;
Or sphere on sphere in widening waves expand,
And glad with genial warmth the incumbent land.
So when the Mother-bird selects their food
With curious bill, and feeds her callow brood;
Warmth from her tender heart eternal springs,
And pleased she clasps them with extended wings.
'YOU from deep cauldrons and unmeasured caves
Blow flaming airs, or pour vitrescent waves;
O'er shining oceans ray volcanic light,
Or hurl innocuous embers to the night.-
While with loud shouts to Etna Heccla calls,
And Andes answers from his beacon'd walls;
Sea-wilder'd crews the mountain-stars admire,
And Beauty beams amid tremendous fire.
'Thus when of old, as mystic bards presume,
Huge CYCLOPS dwelt in Etna's rocky womb,
On thundering anvils rung their loud alarms,
And leagued with VULCAN forged immortal arms;
Descending VENUS sought the dark abode,
And sooth'd the labours of the grisly God.-
While frowning Loves the threatening falchion wield,
And tittering Graces peep behind the shield,
With jointed mail their fairy limbs o'erwhelm,
Or nod with pausing step the plumed helm;
With radiant eye She view'd the boiling ore,
Heard undismay'd the breathing bellows roar,
Admired their sinewy arms, and shoulders bare,
And ponderous hammers lifted high in air,
With smiles celestial bless'd their dazzled sight,
And Beauty blazed amid infernal night.
IV. 'EFFULGENT MAIDS! YOU round deciduous day,
Tressed with soft beams, your glittering bands array;
On Earth's cold bosom, as the Sun retires,
Confine with folds of air the lingering fires;
O'er Eve's pale forms diffuse phosphoric light,
And deck with lambent flames the shrine of Night.
So, warm'd and kindled by meridian skies,
And view'd in darkness with dilated eyes,
BOLOGNA'S chalks with faint ignition blaze,
BECCARI'S shells emit prismatic rays.
So to the sacred Sun in MEMNON's fane,
Spontaneous concords quired the matin strain;
-Touch'd by his orient beam, responsive rings
The living lyre, and vibrates all it's strings;
Accordant ailes the tender tones prolong,
And holy echoes swell the adoring song.
'YOU with light Gas the lamps nocturnal feed,
Which dance and glimmer o'er the marshy mead;
Shine round Calendula at twilight hours,
And tip with silver all her saffron flowers;
Warm on her mossy couch the radiant Worm,
Guard from cold dews her love-illumin'd form,
From leaf to leaf conduct the virgin light,
Star of the earth, and diamond of the night.
You bid in air the tropic Beetle burn,
And fill with golden flame his winged urn;
Or gild the surge with insect-sparks, that swarm
Round the bright oar, the kindling prow alarm;
Or arm in waves, electric in his ire,
The dread Gymnotus with ethereal fire.-
Onward his course with waving tail he helms,
And mimic lightenings scare the watery realms,
So, when with bristling plumes the Bird of JOVE
Vindictive leaves the argent fields above,
Borne on broad wings the guilty world he awes,
And grasps the lightening in his shining claws.
V. 1. 'NYMPHS! Your soft smiles uncultur'd man subdued,
And charm'd the Savage from his native wood;
You, while amazed his hurrying Hords retire
From the fell havoc of devouring FIRE,
Taught, the first Art! with piny rods to raise
By quick attrition the domestic blaze,
Fan with soft breath, with kindling leaves provide,
And lift the dread Destroyer on his side.
So, with bright wreath of serpent-tresses crown'd,
Severe in beauty, young MEDUSA frown'd;
Erewhile subdued, round WISDOM'S Aegis roll'd
Hiss'd the dread snakes, and flam'd in burnish'd gold;
Flash'd on her brandish'd arm the immortal shield,
And Terror lighten'd o'er the dazzled field.
2. NYMPHS! YOU disjoin, unite, condense, expand,
And give new wonders to the Chemist's hand;
On tepid clouds of rising steam aspire,
Or fix in sulphur all it's solid fire;
With boundless spring elastic airs unfold,
Or fill the fine vacuities of gold;
With sudden flash vitrescent sparks reveal,
By fierce collision from the flint and steel;
Or mark with shining letter KUNKEL's name
In the pale Phosphor's self-consuming flame.
So the chaste heart of some enchanted Maid
Shines with insidious light, by Love betray'd;
Round her pale bosom plays the young Desire,
And slow she wastes by self-consuming fire.
3. 'YOU taught mysterious BACON to explore
Metallic veins, and part the dross from ore;
With sylvan coal in whirling mills combine
The crystal'd nitre, and the sulphurous mine;
Through wiry nets the black diffusion strain,
And close an airy ocean in a grain.-
Pent in dark chambers of cylindric brass
Slumbers in grim repose the sooty mass;
Lit by the brilliant spark, from grain to grain
Runs the quick fire along the kindling train;
On the pain'd ear-drum bursts the sudden crash,
Starts the red flame, and Death pursues the flash.-
Fear's feeble hand directs the fiery darts,
And Strength and Courage yield to chemic arts;
Guilt with pale brow the mimic thunder owns,
And Tyrants tremble on their blood-stain'd thrones.
VI. NYMPHS! You erewhile on simmering cauldrons play'd,
And call'd delighted SAVERY to your aid;
Bade round the youth explosive STEAM aspire
In gathering clouds, and wing'd the wave with fire;
Bade with cold streams the quick expansion stop,
And sunk the immense of vapour to a drop.-
Press'd by the ponderous air the Piston falls
Resistless, sliding through it's iron walls;
Quick moves the balanced beam, of giant-birth,
Wields his large limbs, and nodding shakes the earth.
'The Giant-Power from earth's remotest caves
Lifts with strong arm her dark reluctant waves;
Each cavern'd rock, and hidden den explores,
Drags her dark coals, and digs her shining ores.-
Next, in close cells of ribbed oak confined,
Gale after gale, He crowds the struggling wind;
The imprison'd storms through brazen nostrils roar,
Fan the white flame, and fuse the sparkling ore.
Here high in air the rising stream He pours
To clay-built cisterns, or to lead-lined towers;
Fresh through a thousand pipes the wave distils,
And thirsty cities drink the exuberant rills.-
There the vast mill-stone with inebriate whirl
On trembling floors his forceful fingers twirl.
Whose flinty teeth the golden harvests grind,
Feast without blood! and nourish human-kind.
'Now his hard hands on Mona's rifted crest,
Bosom'd in rock, her azure ores arrest;
With iron lips his rapid rollers seize
The lengthening bars, in thin expansion squeeze;
Descending screws with ponderous fly-wheels wound
The tawny plates, the new medallions round;
Hard dyes of steel the cupreous circles cramp,
And with quick fall his massy hammers stamp.
The Harp, the Lily and the Lion join,
And GEORGE and BRITAIN guard the sterling coin.
'Soon shall thy arm, UNCONQUER'D STEAM! afar
Drag the slow barge, or drive the rapid car;
Or on wide-waving wings expanded bear
The flying-chariot through the fields of air.
-Fair crews triumphant, leaning from above,
Shall wave their fluttering kerchiefs as they move;
Or warrior-bands alarm the gaping crowd,
And armies shrink beneath the shadowy cloud.
'So mighty HERCULES o'er many a clime
Waved his vast mace in Virtue's cause sublime,
Unmeasured strength with early art combined,
Awed, served, protected, and amazed mankind.-
First two dread Snakes at JUNO'S vengeful nod
Climb'd round the cradle of the sleeping God;
Waked by the shrilling hiss, and rustling sound,
And shrieks of fair attendants trembling round,
Their gasping throats with clenching hands he holds;
And Death untwists their convoluted folds.
Next in red torrents from her sevenfold heads
Fell HYDRA'S blood on Lerna's lake he sheds;
Grasps ACHELOUS with resistless force,
And drags the roaring River to his course;
Binds with loud bellowing and with hideous yell
The monster Bull, and threefold Dog of Hell.
'Then, where Nemea's howling forests wave,
He drives the Lion to his dusky cave;
Seized by the throat the growling fiend disarms,
And tears his gaping jaws with sinewy arms;
Lifts proud ANTEUS from his mother-plains,
And with strong grasp the struggling Giant strains;
Back falls his fainting head, and clammy hair,
Writhe his weak limbs, and flits his life in air;-
By steps reverted o'er the blood-dropp'd fen
He tracks huge CACUS to his murderous den;
Where breathing flames through brazen lips he fled,
And shakes the rock-roof'd cavern o'er his head.
'Last with wide arms the solid earth He tears,
Piles rock on rock, on mountain mountain rears;
Heaves up huge ABYLA on Afric's sand,
Crowns with high CALPÈ Europe's saliant strand,
Crests with opposing towers the splendid scene,
And pours from urns immense the sea between.-
-Loud o'er her whirling flood Charybdis roars,
Affrighted Scylla bellows round his shores,
Vesuvio groans through all his echoing caves,
And Etna thunders o'er the insurgent waves.
VII. 1. NYMPHS! YOUR fine hands ethereal floods amass
From the warm cushion, and the whirling glass;
Beard the bright cylinder with golden wire,
And circumfuse the gravitating fire.
Cold from each point cerulean lustres gleam,
Or shoot in air the scintillating stream.
So, borne on brazen talons, watch'd of old
The sleepless dragon o'er his fruits of gold;
Bright beam'd his scales, his eye-balls blazed with ire,
And his wide nostrils breath'd inchanted fire.
'YOU bid gold-leaves, in crystal lantherns held,
Approach attracted, and recede repel'd;
While paper-nymphs instinct with motion rife,
And dancing fauns the admiring Sage surprize.
OR, if on wax some fearless Beauty stand,
And touch the sparkling rod with graceful hand;
Through her fine limbs the mimic lightnings dart,
And flames innocuous eddy round her heart;
O'er her fair brow the kindling lustres glare,
Blue rays diverging from her bristling hair;
While some fond Youth the kiss ethereal sips.
And soft fires issue from their meeting lips.
So round the virgin Saint in silver streams
The holy Halo shoots it's arrowy beams.
'YOU crowd in coated jars the denser fire,
Pierce the thin glass, and fuse the blazing wire;
Or dart the red flash through the circling band
Of youths and timorous damsels, hand in hand.
-Starts the quick Ether through the fibre-trains
Of dancing arteries, and of tingling veins,
Goads each fine nerve, with new sensation thrill'd,
Bends the reluctant limbs with power unwill'd;
Palsy's cold hands the fierce concussion own,
And Life clings trembling on her tottering throne.-
So from dark clouds the playful lightning springs,
Rives the firm oak, or prints the Fairy-rings.
2. NYMPHS! on that day YE shed from lucid eyes.
Celestial tears, and breathed ethereal sighs!
When RICHMAN rear'd, by fearless haste betrayed,
The wiry rod in Nieva's fatal shade;-
Clouds o'er the Sage, with fringed skirts succeed,
Flash follows flash, the warning corks recede;
Near and more near He ey'd with fond amaze
The silver streams, and watch'd the saphire blaze;
Then burst the steel, the dart electric sped,
And the bold Sage lay number'd with the dead!-
NYMPHS! on that day YE shed from lucid eyes
Celestial tears, and breathed ethereal sighs!
3. 'YOU led your FRANKLIN to your glazed retreats,
Your air-built castles, and your silken seats;
Bade his bold arm invade the lowering sky,
And seize the tiptoe lightnings, ere they fly;
O'er the young Sage your mystic mantle spread,
And wreath'd the crown electric round his head.-
Thus when on wanton wing intrepid LOVE
Snatch'd the raised lightning from the arm of JOVE;
Quick o'er his knee the triple bolt He bent,
The cluster'd darts and forky arrows rent,
Snapp'd with illumin'd hands each flaming shaft,
His tingling fingers shook, and stamp'd, and laugh'd;
Bright o'er the floor the scatter'd fragments blaz'd,
And Gods retreating trembled as they gaz'd;
The immortal Sire, indulgent to his child,
Bow'd his ambrosial locks, and Heaven relenting smiled.
VIII. 'When Air's pure essence joins the vital flood,
And with phosphoric Acid dyes the blood,
YOUR VIRGIN TRAINS the transient HEAT dispart,
And lead the soft combustion round the heart;
Life's holy lamp with fires successive feed,
From the crown'd forehead to the prostrate weed,
From Earth's proud realms to all that swim or sweep
The yielding ether or tumultuous deep.
You swell the bulb beneath the heaving lawn,
Brood the live seed, unfold the bursting spawn;
Nurse with soft lap, and warm with fragrant breath
The embryon panting in the arms of Death;
Youth's vivid eye with living light adorn,
And fire the rising blush of Beauty's golden morn.
'Thus when the Egg of Night, on Chaos hurl'd,
Burst, and disclosed the cradle of the world;
First from the gaping shell refulgent sprung
IMMORTAL LOVE, his bow celestial strung;-
O'er the wide waste his gaudy wings unfold,
Beam his soft smiles, and wave his curls of gold;-
With silver darts He pierced the kindling frame,
And lit with torch divine the ever-living flame.'
IX. The GODDESS paused, admired with conscious pride
The effulgent legions marshal'd by her side,
Forms sphered in fire with trembling light array'd,
Ens without weight, and substance without shade;
And, while tumultuous joy her bosom warms,
Waves her white hand, and calls her hosts to arms,
'Unite, ILLUSTRIOUS NYMPHS! your radiant powers,
Call from their long repose the VERNAL HOURS.
Wake with soft touch, with rosy hands unbind
The struggling pinions of the WESTERN WIND;
Chafe his wan cheeks, his ruffled plumes repair,
And wring the rain-drops from his tangled hair.
Blaze round each frosted rill, or stagnant wave,
And charm the NAIAD from her silent cave;
Where, shrined in ice, like NIOBE she mourns,
And clasps with hoary arms her empty urns.
Call your bright myriads, trooping from afar,
With beamy helms, and glittering shafts of war;
In phalanx firm the FIEND OF FROST assail,
Break his white towers, and pierce his crystal mail;
To Zembla's moon-bright coasts the Tyrant bear,
And chain him howling to the Northern Bear.
'So when enormous GRAMPUS, issuing forth
From the pale regions of the icy North;
Waves his broad tail, and opes his ribbed mouth,
And seeks on winnowing fin the breezy South;
From towns deserted rush the breathless hosts,
Swarm round the hills, and darken all the coasts;
Boats follow boats along the shouting tides,
And spears and javelins pierce his blubbery sides;
Now the bold Sailor, raised on pointed toe,
Whirls the wing'd harpoon on the slimy foe;
Quick sinks the monster in his oozy bed,
The blood-stain'd surges circling o'er his head,
Steers to the frozen pole his wonted track,
And bears the iron tempest on his back.
X. 'On wings of flame, ETHEREAL VIRGINS! sweep
O'er Earth's fair bosom, and complacent deep;
Where dwell my vegetative realms benumb'd,
In buds imprison'd, or in bulbs intomb'd,
Pervade, PELLUCID FORMS! their cold retreat,
Ray from bright urns your viewless floods of
From earth's deep wastes
Or shed from heaven the scintillating shower;
Pierce the dull root, relax its fibre-trains,
Thaw the thick blood, which lingers in its veins;
Melt with warm breath the fragrant gums, that bind
The expanding foliage in its scaly rind;
And as in air the laughing leaflets play,
And turn their shining bosoms to the ray,
NYMPHS! with sweet smile each opening glower invite,
And on its damask eyelids pour the
'So shall my pines, Canadian wilds that shade,
Where no bold step has pierc'd the tangled glade,
High-towering palms, that part the Southern flood
With shadowy isles and continents of wood,
Oaks, whose broad antlers crest Britannia's plain,
Or bear her thunders o'er the conquer'd main,
Shout, as you pass, inhale the genial skies,
And bask and brighten in your beamy eyes;
Bow their white heads, admire the changing clime,
Shake from their candied trunks the tinkling rime;
With bursting buds their wrinkled barks adorn,
And wed the timorous floret to her thorn;
Deep strike their roots, their lengthening tops revive,
And all my world of foliage wave, alive.
'Thus with Hermetic art the ADEPT combines
The royal acid with cobaltic mines;
Marks with quick pen, in lines unseen portrayed,
The blushing mead, green dell, and dusky glade;
Shades with pellucid clouds the tintless field,
And all the future Group exists conceal'd;
Till waked by fire the dawning tablet glows,
Green springs the herb, the purple floret blows,
Hills vales and woods in bright succession rise,
And all the living landscape charms his eyes.
XI. 'With crest of gold should sultry SIRIUS glare,
And with his kindling tresses scorch the air;
With points of flame the shafts of Summer arm,
And burn the beauties he designs to warm;-
-So erst when JOVE his oath extorted mourn'd,
And clad in glory to the Fair return'd;
While Loves at forky bolts their torches light,
And resting lightnings gild the car of Night;
His blazing form the dazzled Maid admir'd,
Met with fond lips, and in his arms expir'd;-
NYMPHS! on light pinion lead your banner'd hosts
High o'er the cliffs of ORKNEY'S gulphy coasts;
Leave on your left the red volcanic light,
Which HECCLA lifts amid the dusky night;
Mark on the right the DOFRINE'S snow-capt brow,
Where whirling MAELSTROME roars and foams below;
Watch with unmoving eye, where CEPHEUS bends
His triple crown, his scepter'd hand extends;
Where studs CASSIOPE with stars unknown
Her golden chair, and gems her sapphire zone;
Where with vast convolution DRACO holds
The ecliptic axis in his scaly folds,
O'er half the skies his neck enormous rears,
And with immense meanders parts the BEARS;
Onward, the kindred BEARS with footstep rude
Dance round the Pole, pursuing and pursued.
'There in her azure coif and starry stole,
Grey TWILIGHT sits, and rules the slumbering Pole;
Bends the pale moon-beams round the sparkling coast,
And strews with livid hands eternal frost.
There, NYMPHS! alight, array your dazzling powers,
With sudden march alarm the torpid Hours;
On ice-built isles expand a thousand sails,
Hinge the strong helms, and catch the frozen gales;
The winged rocks to feverish climates guide,
Where fainting Zephyrs pant upon the tide;
Pass, where to CEUTA CALPE'S thunder roars,
And answering echoes shake the kindred shores;
Pass, where with palmy plumes CANARY smiles,
And in her silver girdle binds her isles;
Onward, where NIGER'S dusky Naiad laves
A thousand kingdoms with prolific waves,
Or leads o'er golden sands her threefold train
In steamy channels to the fervid main,
While swarthy nations croud the sultry coast,
Drink the fresh breeze, and hail the floating Frost,
NYMPHS! veil'd in mist, the melting treasures steer,
And cool with arctic snows the tropic year.
So from the burning Line by Monsoons driven
Clouds sail in squadrons o'er the darken'd heaven;
Wide wastes of sand the gelid gales pervade,
And ocean cools beneath the moving shade.
XII. Should SOLSTICE, stalking through the sickening bowers,
Suck the warm dew-drops, lap the falling showers;
Kneel with parch'd lip, and bending from it's brink
From dripping palm the scanty river drink;
NYMPHS! o'er the soil ten thousand points erect,
And high in air the electric flame collect.
Soon shall dark mists with self-attraction shroud
The blazing day, and sail in wilds of cloud;
Each silvery Flower the streams aerial quaff,
Bow her sweet head, and infant Harvest laugh.
'Thus when ELIJA mark'd from Carmel's brow
In bright expanse the briny flood below;
Roll'd his red eyes amid the scorching air,
Smote his firm breast, and breathed his ardent prayer;
High in the midst a massy altar stood,
And slaughter'd offerings press'd the piles of wood;
While ISRAEL'S chiefs the sacred hill surround,
And famish'd armies crowd the dusty ground;
While proud Idolatry was leagued with dearth,
And wither'd famine swept the desert earth.-
'OH, MIGHTY LORD! thy woe-worn servant hear,
'Who calls thy name in agony of prayer;
'Thy fanes dishonour'd, and thy prophets slain,
'Lo! I alone survive of all thy train!-
'Oh send from heaven thy sacred fire,-and pour
'O'er the parch'd land the salutary shower,-
'So shall thy Priest thy erring flock recal,-
'And speak in thunder, 'THOU ART LORD OF ALL.'-
He cried, and kneeling on the mountain-sands,
Stretch'd high in air his supplicating hands.
-Descending flames the dusky shrine illume;
Fire the wet wood, the sacred bull consume;
Wing'd from the sea the gathering mists arise,
And floating waters darken all the skies;
The King with shifted reins his chariot bends,
And wide o'er earth the airy flood descends;
With mingling cries dispersing hosts applaud,
And shouting nations own THE LIVING GOD.'
The GODDESS ceased,-the exulting tribes obey,
Start from the soil, and win their airy way;
The vaulted skies with streams of transient rays
Shine, as they pass, and earth and ocean blaze.
So from fierce wars when lawless Monarch's cease,
Or Liberty returns with laurel'd Peace;
Bright fly the sparks, the colour'd lustres burn,
Flash follows f
Blue serpents sweep along the dusky air,
Imp'd by long trains of scintillating hair;
Red rockets rise, loud cracks are heard on high,
And showers of stars rush headlong from the sky,
Burst, as in silver lines they hiss along,
And the quick flash unfolds the gazing throng.
by Erasmus Darwin.
Alfred. Book Vi.
ARGUMENT. Consequences of the Battle of Eddington.—The Danes blockaded on Ashdown.—Circumstances attending the Surrender and Conversion of Guthrum, Chief of the Danes.—Second Prophecy of the future Fortune of Alfred, and of the British Islands.— Homage from the united Army to Alfred.—Conclusion.
Soon as the Morn, in rosy mantle dight,
Spread o'er the dewy hills her orient light,
The victor monarch ranged his warrior train,
In martial order on the embattled plain;
Ready to front again the storm of fight,
Or urge the advantage, and pursue the flight;
But not the horizon's ample range could show
A trace, a vestige, of the vanquish'd foe.
Now, from the exulting host, in triumph peal'd,
The shouts of conquest shake the echoing field;
While, to the sheltering convent's hallow'd walls,
A softer voice the laurel'd hero calls;
Where, from the bloody scene of fight removed,
Trembling, 'mid hope and fear for all she loved,
Elsitha, prostrate on the earth, implored
Blessings on Albion's arms, and Albion's lord.
Sweet were the warrior's feelings, when he press'd
His lovely consort to his beating breast;
Sweet too, Elsitha, thine—with conquest crown'd,
To see the mighty chief, in arms renown'd,
Though loud the chearing shouts of conquest rise,
And war's triumphant clangor rends the skies,
Forego the scenes of public joy awhile,
To share the bliss of Love's domestic smile.
Yet such, alas! of human joy the state,
Some grief on Fortune's brightest hours must wait;
Amid the victor laurel's greenest wreath,
Twines the funereal bough of pain and death.
Elsitha's eye, among the conquering train,
Seeks many a friend, and near ally, in vain.
Leofric, her brother's heir, whose ardent breast
Her influence, mild and bland, had oft repress'd;
Would Indignation's angry frown reprove,
Or warn him from the dangerous smiles of Love;
Leofric, who, when the dawn awoke her fears,
Dried, with consoling voice, her gushing tears,
Mangled, and lifeless, from the combat borne,
Refutes, at eve, the promised hope of morn.
And, as her heart the painful image draws,
Of youthful Donald bleeding in her cause,
The royal warrior, beautiful and brave,
A timeless victim of the silent grave,
O'er her swoll'n breast a softer sorrow steals,
Her heart a warmer sense of pity feels,
While tears, as pure as seraph eyes might shed,
Flow o'er his memory, and embalm him dead.
Even Alfred, when his firmer looks survey
The field of fate, in morning's sober ray,
See Victory's guerdon, though with safety fraught,
By blood of kindred heroes dearly bought.
Though myriads saved from slavery and death,
Their spirits waft to Heaven with grateful breath:
Yet chiefs of noble race, and nobler worth,
Glory and grace of Albion's parent earth,
Extended pale and lifeless in his sight,
Check the tumultuous tide of full delight;
And as the hymns of praise ascend the air,
His bosom bows in penitence and prayer,
O'er the red sword Contrition's sorrows flow,
Though Freedom steel'd its edge, and Justice sped the blow.
But when he views, along the tented field,
With trailing banner, and inverted shield,
Young Donald, borne by Scotia's weeping bands,
In deeper woe the generous hero stands.
'O, early lost,' with faultering voice he cried,
'In the fresh bloom of youth and glory's pride;
Dear, gallant friend! while memory here remains,
While flows the tide of life through Alfred's veins,
Ne'er shall thy virtues from this breast depart,
Ne'er Donald's worth be blotted from this heart.—
Yet the stern despot of the silent tomb,
Who spreads o'er youth and age an equal doom,
Shall here no empire boast,—his ruthless dart
That pierced, with cruel point, thy manly heart,
Snatch'd from his iron grasp, by hovering Fame,
Graves, in eternal characters, thy name.
All who the radiance of thy morn have seen,
Shall augur what thy noon-tide ray had been,
If Fate's decree had given thy rising sun
Its full career of glory to have run;
But oft are Valour's fires, that early blaze,
Quench'd in the crimson cloud their ardours raise.—
'Ah, wretched Gregor! how can words relate,
To thy declining age, thy Donald's fate?
For while of such a son the untimely doom
Drags thy gray hairs in sorrow to the tomb,
Each tale of praise, that tries to soothe thy care,
But wounds thy heart, and plants new horrors there.—
On me, on England's cause, the curse shall fall,
On me the wretched sire shall frantic call;
Who from his arms his soul's last solace led,
On distant plains to mingle with the dead.
Then O, my valiant friends, whose ears attest
Of Donald's dying voice the sad bequest,
With yours my dearest care shall be combined
To smooth the tempests of your monarch's mind;
With you protect, from War's, from Faction's rage,
The feeble remnant of his waning age.
As round our isle the azure billow roars,
From all the world dividing Britain's shores,
Within its fence be Britain's nations join'd
A world themselves, yet friends of human-kind.'
He ceased,—the words applauding Scotia hails,
And low the spear in filial homage vails,
Homage to Alfred, and to England's train,
Eternal friendship vows, and equal reign,
While swells in shouts of transport to the wind,
'Never shall man divide, whom Heaven has join'd!'
And now the light-arm'd foot, and agile horse,
Whose speed pursued the invader's flying force,
Returning from the chase, to Alfred show
The distant refuge of the scatter'd foe.
Through woods and heaths they urge the swift career,
Pale Terror hanging on their trembling rear;
Nor thought of rest, nor hope of safety find,
And hear the victor's shouts in every wind,
Till distant Ashdown's verdant height they scale,
Tremendous frowning o'er Berochia's vale,
On the proud summit of whose rampired steep
Hangs the strong mound, o'er trenches broad and deep;
Where erst her wing Rome's towering eagle spread,
In haughty triumph o'er the Briton's head.
The Monarch hears, and bids his troops prepare
Their flight to follow, and renew the war,
Resolved to sweep from Albion's rescued coast,
The last remains of Scandinavia's host.
'To-day in peace the social hours employ,
In moderate triumph, and in temperate joy:
Let the skill'd Leech the wounded warrior tend,
The generous soldier mourn his parted friend;
Let holy priests, with orison sincere,
Chant the sad requiem o'er the hero's bier;
But when the morrow's dawn first gilds the plain,
Let war's stern duties reassume their reign;
Beneath its banners, let each different band,
Prompt to obey, in silent order stand,
The trumpet's signal waiting, to pursue
The distant squadrons, and the fight renew.'
The chiefs fulfil their king's behest,—the day
In joy, by grief attemper'd, wears away.
For Valour mourns, mid Conquest's chearful cries,
Of friendship, and of blood, the sever'd ties.
But sheath'd in radiant arms, by morn's first light,
The ardent warriors claim the promised fight.
The clarion blows—silent the steady throng
In close compacted order move along;
Each rank, each file, prepared with martial care,
Instant to form the threatening front of war,
Should, from the hollow vale, or mountain's crest,
The ambush'd foe their toilsome march molest.
Twice dewy morn unveil'd her eyelids gray,
Twice blush'd the dappled west with setting day,
While onward still the unwearied victors pass'd,
Till Ashdown's verdant summits rose at last.
The scene of former fame as Alfred hails,
Omen of hope in every breast prevails.
There, on the summit of the embattled brow,
In eve's red beam, the Danish banners glow;
For Guthrum, gathering courage from despair,
The relics of the war collected there.
Close round the camp his host the Briton draws,
And with his mail-clad foot the fortress awes.
While a selected troop, by Edgar led,
Their wakeful guard wide o'er the champaign spread,
Scouring, with rapid steeds, the extended lawn,
In distant circle, till the approach of dawn.
Now sinks of twilight dim the last faint gleam,
And Hesper yields to Luna's brighter beam.
For with full orb the effulgent Queen of Night
Shed, through a cloudless sky, her silver light.—
O'er the broad downs her rays their lustre throw,—
A flood of radiance gilds the vale below.
There the high trees, in splendour keen array'd,
Cast every deep recess in darker shade;
Their leafy summits waving to the sight,
Seem a vast flood of undulating light.—
When, issuing from the camp, a warlike train,
Their bright arms glittering, speed across the plain.
The alarm is instant given,—the Saxon horse
Close on their passage, and oppose their course.
Hemm'd and surrounded by a mightier host,
Useless is flight, and hope from combat lost.
Urging their swift career, with rested lance,
As on each side the circling troops advance,
A voice exclaims, 'Ye English chiefs, forbear!—
Those who nor fight, nor fly, in pity spare.
From yon fenced camp, where morning's rising ray
Shall scenes of carnage and of death display,
This youth, from Guthrum sprung, whose arms nor feel
Valour's firm nerve, nor grasp the warrior's steel,
His royal sire, beneath my guidance, sends
To seek protection from his distant friends.
Your vigilance has marr'd his vain design,
To you, ourselves, our weapons, we resign,
If we must fall, opposed in arms who stood,
Stain not your swords with unoffending blood.'
'Well may the race, in Murder's livery dyed,
Such fate expect,' the gallant Edgar cried.—
'Though mid the thunder of the battle's storm,
Where Horror stalks abroad in ghastly form,
The victor's falchion, with vindictive blow,
May strike a flying, or a yielding foe,
Yet cool, in peaceful parle, the English sword
An unresisting bosom never gored;
Ne'er have our warriors wreak'd their impious rage
On woman, helpless infancy, or age;
To Alfred's tent, devoid of terror, go,
Who in a suppliant, ne'er beholds a foe.'
Straight to the circling camp which Albion's race,
Round Denmark's steep and guarded fortress, trace,
Brave Edgar bids his bands their captives bring,
The royal youth presenting to the king:
Trembling before the monarch's feet he kneels,
Who all the man, and all the parent feels.
'Dismiss thy fears,' with voice benign he said,
His hand extending to the youth dismay'd;
'That mercy which I trembling ask of Heaven,
To mortal suffering ever shall be given.
Such pity as, I trust, my child would know,
From the brave bosom of a generous foe;
Such, bless'd by Providence, my conquering sword
Shall, to the offspring of my foe, afford.
Cursed be the coward rage that sees offence,
Howe'er derived, in weeping innocence!—
Let every doubt, and every terror end,
And in your father's foe, embrace a friend.'
Contending passions struggling in the breast,
Low sinks the youth, by fear and hope depress'd.
Edgar, as prompt to succour and to spare,
As the dread front of bleeding war to dare,
Caught the faint stripling ere he reach'd the ground,
And from his head the shining helm unbound.
Though on the lips was Death's pale ensign spread,
Though from the cheek the blooming rose was fled,
Though on the liquid radiance of the eyes,
The sable lash a silken curtain lies,
Yet o'er the brows, which, with the forehead, show
Like jet encircled in a bed of snow,
Flows in loose ringlets to the fresh'ning air
The soft redundance of the ambrosial hair,
And charms, of more than mortal grace, betray'd
The form and features of a beauteous maid.
Soon as that form struck Edgar's starting eyes,
'My Emma here?' the youth enraptured cries:
'And do these looks once more her beauties trace?
These arms now clasp her in their fond embrace?—
Look up, my love, and with thy fragrant breath
My bosom free from anguish worse than death.'
Waked by the well-known voice, her eye unseal'd,
Through the dark lid returning life reveal'd,
Again their beams reviving pleasure speak,
Again the tint of health illumes her cheek,
And, leaning on young Edgar's raptured breast,
A silent tear her blushing love confess'd.
'Dear beauteous maid,' he cried, 'from me receive
Each tender care that love, that truth can give:
To thee their thanks shall England's chieftains bring,
And bless the charms that rescued England's king.
Love, love of thee, thy faithful Edgar gave
To Guthrum's power a voluntary slave.
Love form'd the spell that drew me to remain
Mid the rude sons of Riot's desperate reign,
Where one soft glance from lovely Emma's eye,
O'erpaid the galling pangs of slavery.
Hence 'twas my hap—to Heaven's protecting power
May grateful Albion consecrate the hour!—
To warn my sovereign, with prophetic breath,
From the abode of danger and of death.
Hence, too, my voice his faithful followers drew
To save Elsitha from a ruffian crew,
Of whose dire cruelty the mildest doom
Is the swift mercy of an instant tomb.'
'Bless'd be thy aid! the lovely cause be bless'd!
For ever partner of Elsitha's breast.—
'Mine, mine,' the royal matron cries, 'the care
To soothe the sorrows of the weeping fair,
From me the Danish maid shall ever prove
At once a parent's and a sister's love.'
Sweet tears of joy now fill the virgin's eye,
Her gentle bosom breathes the grateful sigh,
While a kind glance her looks on Edgar stole
Spoke the soft language of her inmost soul.
Soon the report to Guthrum rumour brings,
For evil tidings fly on eagle wings,
That, by the radiance of the moon betray'd,
The hostile camp detain'd the captive maid.
A herald to the English king he sent
To ask safe conduct to the royal tent.—
The solemn pledge of safety given, he sought
The British host, with splendid ransome fraught;
Where, as along the martial files he pass'd,
Each soldier's eye a glance of triumph cast,
To view the tyrant of the wasted land,
Sad, and unarm'd, an humble suppliant stand.
Yet still was grief by rage indignant drown'd,
Still on his rugged brow defiance frown'd.—
But when the chief his blushing daughter saw
Respect from all, and kind attention draw;
Saw his benignant foes employ their care,
To soothe each terror of the anxious fair,
A kindly beam of fond affection stole,
Unfelt before, across his stubborn soul.
Struggling, he scarce restrain'd the swelling sigh,
Scarce check'd the tear that trembled in his eye;
The stifled pang his faltering voice suppress'd,
He show'd the gold, and silence told the rest.
'Think not,' the Monarch cried, 'our mercy sold;
The mercenary price of proffer'd gold;
Treasures, by plunder gain'd, the lawless spoil
Of England's ruin'd towns, and wasted soil;—
Can these the indignant owners' vengeance bribe,
Panting to force them from your vanquish'd tribe?
Soon as the orient beams of morn are shed
Shall, o'er your camp, war's furious storm be sped.
Nor think yon feeble mounds your heads can shield,
When kindling fury calls us to the field;
When wrongs beyond the strength of man to bear,
Harden each heart, and sharpen every spear.
Look forth on yonder field, and trembling see
Superior numbers, fired by victory.
Numbers, increasing still with every hour,
Croud from the regions round, and swell our power;
Determined each to make your slaughter'd host
A dreadful landmark on the English coast,
And paint Invasion's image on your shore,
In the dire blazonry of Danish gore.
Mistake me not—we do not wish to gain
By threats, a prize our swords must soon obtain.
But anxious to withhold the fatal blow,
To spare a vanquish'd, though a cruel, foe.
Pitying I view the horrors that await,
Your fortress forced, and mercy ask'd too late;
When, by retentive sway no longer bound,
The insatiate fiends of havoc stalk around.
'In safety to your camp return, and there
Weigh well your state in council,—and prepare
Once more the dread award of war to try,
Or trust a generous victor's clemency.—
For this sweet maid, whom Fortune's changeful hour
Has given a captive to my happier power,
Whether you yield to Concord's gentler charms,
Or dare the stern arbitrement of arms,
I pledge my faith her beauties to restore,
Free, and unransomed, to her native shore;
Or, if she fear o'er ocean's wave to roam,
I am her parent, and my realm her home.'
'Enough! enough!' the Danish chief replies,
The bursting shower now gushing from his eyes;
'Firm 'gainst your conquering numbers had I stood,
And, lost to hope, bought glory with my blood,
Smiling elate in death, while round me rose
A dreadful monument of bleeding foes;
But mercy, pure as thine, O, England's lord!
Subdues the stubborn breast that scorns thy sword.
'Go to my camp, declare the conflict o'er,
That Alfred sways, and we resist no more;
Tell them, the sanguine toils of battle cease,—
Here I remain, a hostage of the peace.'
The Danes, with doubting eye and sullen breast,
Receive, in silence deep, their king's behest,
Yet unresolved, or at his will to yield,
Or try again the fortune of the field.
But when the morn's returning light display'd,
Far as the eye the spacious scene survey'd,
Gleams of refulgent arms on every side,
And myriads crowding still to swell the tide,
Hope from resistance sunk,—and bending low
Their banners, trail'd in dust, submission show,
Slow issuing on the plain, the yielding band,
By their piled arms, in anxious silence stand.
To whom the victor thus:—'Dismiss your fear,
Nor vengeance shall ye feel, nor insult hear;
The galling taunts a captive's ear that brave,
Tarnish the brightest trophies valour gave.
To those who wish from Albion's realms to fly,
Who pant for Scandinavia's bleaker sky,
My friendly barks shall yield free conduct o'er,
Shall land in safety on their native shore;
But all who here have ties congenial form'd,
Whose bosoms Albion's milder scenes have charm'd,
Beneath our sway protected may remain,
May freely cultivate the wasted plain;
For much, alas! of our unhappy soil,
Ravaged by war, demands the labourer's toil;
So by your care shall plenty be restored,
Your ploughs repair the ruin of your sword.
Though your remorseless priests, the conflict o'er,
Their bloody idols sate with human gore,
Our holy faith, with lenient precept, shows
The light of pity to repentant foes.—
Demons of Hell grasp Persecution's rod,
Mercy's the darling attribute of God.'
First ran a murmur through the attentive crowd,
Then shouts of joy their glad assent avow'd.
A few, by early ties to Denmark bound,
Cross'd the blue ocean to their natal ground;
But most, from infancy inured to roam,
War their employment, and a camp their home,
Unknown the wish, which turns with fond delight,
To woods and fields that charm'd the infant sight,
While barren moors, in memory's tablet drawn,
Eclipse of cultured care the greenest lawn,
In fertile England fix, nor wish to try
A harsher region, or a ruder sky,
Her laws adopting, happy to obey
The mild decrees of Alfred's parent sway;
Abjure the Pagan lore, whose fiend-like breath
Taught horrid rites of cruelty and death,
For that pure faith, with angel meekness fraught,
To unresisting foes which kindness taught.
From the brave hand his conquest that achieved
The holy cross the Danish chief received,
Wash'd, by the sacred lymph, from sin's foul ban,
No longer Guthrum now, but Athelstan.
Circling a mount, high rising from the plain,
The honour'd tomb of ancient heroes slain,
The minstrel train around, in choral lays
The exulting peal of peace and triumph raise,
While loud the thrilling harp's melodious wire
Vibrates responsive to the vocal choir.
When, issuing from the rest, with awful gait,
Slow moves a sacred troop, in solemn state,
A snowy garb each form majestic wears,
Each on his arm a golden viol bears.
Alfred with wonder, mid the hallow'd band
Conspicuous, sees Cornubia's Druid stand;
Him who, 'mid Athelney's surrounding shade,
Of distant times the glorious scenes display'd;
On the green summit of the grassy mound
Aloft he stands, and views the region round.
Again his heart mysterious strains inspire,
Again his accents breathe prophetic fire,
Which bursting boldly from his struggling breast,
In notes like these the attentive king address'd.
'Alfred, lo! now confirm'd my mystic strain,
Conquest her ensigns waves o'er Albion's reign;
Crown'd with success thy pious efforts see,
Thy foes are vanquish'd, and thy people free.
Much yet for thee remains;—in ether blue
Where yon bold heights melt from the aching view,
Beneath their base, among the flowery meads,
Her silver current gentle Isis leads.
There, to the Muse, must thy protective power
The solemn shade extend, and rear the tower.
Amid the warrior-laurel's blood-stain'd leaves,
Behold her brighter laurel Science weaves.
Lo! Rhedecyna's princely domes arise,
And shoot their thousand turrets to the skies.
There shall Religion light her holy flame,
And moral Wisdom glow at Virtue's name;
With desultory step shall Study rove,
In rapt attention, through each twilight grove.
There all that lies in volumes famed of old,
All that inquiring ages can unfold,
Whatever toil, or genius, can impart,
To charm, inform, and purify the heart,
Sought, and combined, by Education's hand,
Shall spread instruction round the illumined land.
'There, as from war relieved, thy bosom woos,
In Science' awful shade, the moral Muse,
The hallow'd form of Themis shall arise,
Her ample volume opening to thine eyes.
There shalt thou read the sacred code, whose zeal,
On private happiness, rears public weal.
In vain their guard constituent powers may draw,
And public Freedom's bold invader awe,
If fraud oppressive, or litigious strife,
Invade the humbler walks of private life;
Too oft the jealous patriot's general plan
Protects the state, regardless of the man,
While rule on rule that laws coercive frame,
Leave individual freedom but a name;
As the rich arms that blazon'd knighthood dress,
Protect the life, but every limb oppress.
Small is the woe to human life that springs
From tyrant factions, or from tyrant kings,
Compared with what it feels from legal pride,
From statutes rashly framed, or ill applied.
One legislator England's sons shall see,
From aught of pride, and aught of error free;
One code behold a patriot mind employ,
To shield from fraud and force domestic joy.
Though through the creviced wall, and shatter'd pane,
Sings the chill blast, or drives the drizzly rain,
The cot, more guarded than the embattled tower,
Stands a firm fortress 'gainst despotic power.
The poorest hind, in independance strong,
Is free from dread, if innocent of wrong,
Firm o'er his roof while holy Freedom rears
That sacred shield, the judgment of his peers.
'Let the stern despot of coercive law,
With racks and wheels, the wretched culprit awe,
Bid torturing flames and axes seal his doom,
Or plunge him living in the dungeon's tomb;
Thine be the glorious privilege to spare
The scourge of Justice, by preventive care.
The friendly decade, link'd in social ties,
Shall check the guilty scyon ere it rise,
The mild reproof shall weaken Passion's flame,
And kindling vice be quench'd by virtuous shame,
While mutual safety binds the blameless throng,
Each man responsive for his neighbour's wrong.
'As from the scanty rill, mid sheltering reeds
That steals, unnoticed, through the irriguous meads,
Swells the full stream Augusta's walls that laves,
Proud Commerce brooding o'er its sea-broad waves.
From the small acorn's orb, as, nursed by years,
Aloft the oak its giant branches rears,
And wide o'er wat'ry regions learns to roam,
Wherever tempests blow, and billows foam;
So, boldly rising from this humble base,
The simple canon of an artless race,
A fabric stands, the wonder of the sage,
The guard and glory of a polish'd age.
Not to thy native coasts confined alone,—
Borne by thy sons to Earth's remotest zone,
Where, in the burning east, the lamp of day
Chears the mild Bramin with its orient ray,
Where its declining radiance warms a clime
Yet wrapp'd from notice in the womb of time;
Mid boundless tracts, beneath the rigid poles,
Where scarce the foliage bursts, the current rolls,
Where the wild savage treads the dreary coasts,
Rude as their cliffs, and sullen as their frosts;
Or where, embosomed in the southern tide,
Bloom isles and continents yet undescried,
By British arms, and British virtues borne,
Shall arts of cultured life the waste adorn;
The patriot dictates of an Alfred's mind
Spread peace and freedom wide o'er human kind.
'Now learn events, yet unreveal'd that lie
In the dark bosom of futurity.—
As my delighted eyes, in yon firm line,
With friendly folds see Albion's banners join,
I view them, in prophetic vision shewn,
United subjects of a mighty throne;
See Cambria's, Caledonia's, Anglia's name
Blended, and lost in Britain's prouder fame.
And ye, fair Erin's sons, though Ocean's tide
From Britain's shores your kindred shores divide,
That tide shall bear your mingled flags unfurl'd,
A mutual barrier from an envying world;
While the same waves that hostile inroad awe,
The sister isles to closer compact draw,
Waft Friendship's intercourse, and Plenty's stores,
From Shannon's brink, to Humber's distant shores.
Each separate interest, separate right shall cease,
Link'd in eternal amity and peace,
While Concord blesses, with celestial smiles,
The favour'd empire of the British Isles.
'But come, victorious bands! with common toil
Sketch the white courser on the pendent soil.
O'er many a rood the chalky outline drawn
Pourtrays the Saxon ensign on the lawn,
Which, from the extended vale, the curious eye
In times remote, with wonder shall descry—
The lasting monument of victory.
When in revolving age's lapse, once more
We hail the argent steed from Elba's shore,
This in your brave descendants' shields shall shine,
The patriot kings of Othbert's mighty line;
Othbert, of Roman race; who led his train
From Tiber's brink to cold Germania's plain.
This, drawn in silver blazonry, shall grace
The stoutest warriors of Britannia's race;
Mid fiery horrors, yet to war unknown,
Horrors by fiends to future battle shewn;
Mid flames more dreadful than the lightning's glare,
Peals that with louder thunder rend the air
Than Jove's dread bolts, the honour'd badge they bear.
'Oft then, with festal joy, the rustic crew
Shall, the worn outline which you trace, renew;
And, as in yon deep foss and threatening mound,
By which the upland summit now is crown'd,
Then smooth'd by time, by flocks successive trod,
And softly clad in verdure's velvet sod,
With sinewy arm they hurl the massy bar,
Speed the swift race, or wage the sportive war;
Little they reck, though faithful annals tell,
That here Invasion fought, Invasion fell.
'Nor Vinitagia, shall thy humble towers,
Though the dark shade thy lowly walls embowers,
Be shrowded from the Muse's favouring eye,
Or miss the votive strain of melody.
For all who fame in arms, or arts revere,
All to whom Freedom's sacred cause is dear,
All who enjoy a sovereign's temper'd sway,
Which temperate freedom glories to obey,
Shall love, shall venerate the hallow'd earth,
Which gave their first of kings, their Alfred, birth.
'Yet o'er the scene, with dawning splendour bright,
One cloud of sorrow throws funereal night;
Deep in the vale, where yon green summit stands,
Conspicuous rising mid the level lands,
There shall thy son, thy Edward, yield his breath,
And tread the inevitable road of death.—
Restrain thy tears,—for not in youth's fresh bloom
Sinks he, untimely, to the silent tomb.
In lapse of age possessor of thy crown,
Mature in years, in virtue, in renown,
He falls in peace, a people's general groan
His holy passport to a heavenly throne.
'There shall, in Time's remote and distant day,
A voice to Alfred's name devote the lay.
If not like hallow'd poets, who of old
In verse divine of gods and heroes told;
Or those pourtraying truth in fiction's dye,
The fairy bards of Gothic minstrelsy;
Yet while his tongue shall chaunt, in humble strain,
The real glories of an Alfred's reign,
If not by Genius, fired by patriot zeal
For Freedom's favourite seat, for Albion's weal;
For him, though no perennial laurel bloom,
Living to grace his brow, or shade his tomb;
Yet Truth approving, sure may give one flower,
Faint though its tint, and short its transient hour.
'O, would that bard sublime, whose seraph fire
Shall call forth rapture from the epic wire,
Whose daring Muse shall soar, with eagle flight,
Beyond of Grecian song the proudest height,
Drink, with undazzled look, the etherial beams
From the pure fount whence light immortal streams,
Fill, with the magic of his mighty hand,
That outline his creative fancy plann'd,
Then should a monument eternal rise,
Worthy of Alfred's glory, to the skies.
But scorning earthly deeds, and earthly fame,
His bosom burning with celestial flame,
To sapphire fields aloft he wings his flight,
Lost in the blaze of empyréan light.'
Now on the summit of the upland lawn,
In martial pride, beneath their banners drawn,
Stood the united host.—With thrilling clang
At once a thousand harps symphonious rang,
Proclaiming, while war's brazen clarions cease,
'Pride, pomp, and circumstance, of glorious peace.'
Brave Caledonia bows the conquering sword,
And Cambria's prince owns his superior lord.
All hail the godlike hero, first who reigns
Unrivall'd monarch of Britannia's plains;
While Erin's joyful shouts applauding, join
The strains fraternal of the British line.—
The king, surrounded by his victor bands,
In all the pride of conscious virtue stands;
The sounds of homage that around him roll,
Swell not the placid current of his soul.—
Though by the chiefs of shouting hosts adored,
A conquering nation stooping to his sword;
While, with a stronger arm than shook the field,
His clemency compels their souls to yield:
Though myriads burn his purpose to fulfil,
Their rein his wisdom, and their spur his will;
Though conscious Rectitude, with inward voice,
The impulse seconds, and confirms his choice;
In specious colours painting to his mind,
The power unlimited to bless mankind.
Uncheck'd by human barriers, to impart
Wide, the pure dictates of a patriot heart,
Spread peace and justice o'er a smiling land,
Crush stern Oppression with a giant hand;
Yet in Truth's faithful mirror stands reveal'd,
A charge too vast for mortal man to wield.
Convinced, of public care the unnumber'd dyes
From human rights and human crimes that rise,
No single heart can judge, or arm secure,
However active, and however pure;
That the bright lure of arbitrary sway
May tempt the firmest foot from Virtue's way;
With careful hand around his throne he draws
The sacred bulwark of unbiass'd laws.
Or, if awhile his fervid pulse might beat
With the wild frenzy of Ambition's heat,
Sudden the visionary vapours fly
From the mild lustre of Elsitha's eye.
To the soft charities of social life
He turns, from lust of power, and rage of strife;
Feels the true duty of the royal mind,
His first, his purest bliss, to bless mankind.
Scorning the base degenerate power that craves
A hard-wrung homage, from a horde of slaves,
His generous thoughts to nobler fame aspire,
His bosom glows with more celestial fire;
Happy to form, by Virtue's sovereign sway,
A gallant race of freemen to obey,
Respect by deeds of goodness to impart,
And fix his empire o'er the willing heart;
While patriot worth this godlike mandate taught,
'Free be the Briton's action as his thought.'
Such the true pride of Alfred's royal line,
Such of Britannia's kings the right divine.
As in his mind revolving thus, he stood,
The thoughts congenial of the wise and good,
Along the blue serene, with distant voice,
Again Heaven's thunder consecrates his choice;
While Britain's throne applauding angels saw
Rear'd on the base of Liberty and Law.
by Henry James Pye.
Paradise Lost: Book 03
Hail, holy Light, offspring of Heaven firstborn,
Or of the Eternal coeternal beam
May I express thee unblam'd? since God is light,
And never but in unapproached light
Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee
Bright effluence of bright essence increate.
Or hear"st thou rather pure ethereal stream,
Whose fountain who shall tell? before the sun,
Before the Heavens thou wert, and at the voice
Of God, as with a mantle, didst invest ***
The rising world of waters dark and deep,
Won from the void and formless infinite.
Thee I re-visit now with bolder wing,
Escap'd the Stygian pool, though long detain'd
In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight
Through utter and through middle darkness borne,
With other notes than to the Orphean lyre
I sung of Chaos and eternal Night;
Taught by the heavenly Muse to venture down
The dark descent, and up to re-ascend,
Though hard and rare: Thee I revisit safe,
And feel thy sovran vital lamp; but thou
Revisit'st not these eyes, that roll in vain
To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;
So thick a drop serene hath quench'd their orbs,
Or dim suffusion veil'd. Yet not the more
Cease I to wander, where the Muses haunt,
Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,
Smit with the love of sacred song; but chief
Thee, Sion, and the flowery brooks beneath,
That wash thy hallow'd feet, and warbling flow,
Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget
So were I equall'd with them in renown,
Thy sovran command, that Man should find grace;
Blind Thamyris, and blind Maeonides,
And Tiresias, and Phineus, prophets old:
Then feed on thoughts, that voluntary move
Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid
Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the year
Seasons return; but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair
Presented with a universal blank
Of nature's works to me expung'd and ras'd,
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
So much the rather thou, celestial Light,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate; there plant eyes, all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight.
Now had the Almighty Father from above,
From the pure empyrean where he sits
High thron'd above all highth, bent down his eye
His own works and their works at once to view:
About him all the Sanctities of Heaven
Stood thick as stars, and from his sight receiv'd
Beatitude past utterance; on his right
The radiant image of his glory sat,
His only son; on earth he first beheld
Our two first parents, yet the only two
Of mankind in the happy garden plac'd
Reaping immortal fruits of joy and love,
Uninterrupted joy, unrivall'd love,
In blissful solitude; he then survey'd
Hell and the gulf between, and Satan there
Coasting the wall of Heaven on this side Night
In the dun air sublime, and ready now
To stoop with wearied wings, and willing feet,
On the bare outside of this world, that seem'd
Firm land imbosom'd, without firmament,
Uncertain which, in ocean or in air.
Him God beholding from his prospect high,
Wherein past, present, future, he beholds,
Thus to his only Son foreseeing spake.
Only begotten Son, seest thou what rage
Transports our Adversary? whom no bounds
Prescrib'd no bars of Hell, nor all the chains
Heap'd on him there, nor yet the main abyss
Wide interrupt, can hold; so bent he seems
On desperate revenge, that shall redound
Upon his own rebellious head. And now,
Through all restraint broke loose, he wings his way
Not far off Heaven, in the precincts of light,
Directly towards the new created world,
And man there plac'd, with purpose to assay
If him by force he can destroy, or, worse,
By some false guile pervert; and shall pervert;
For man will hearken to his glozing lies,
And easily transgress the sole command,
Sole pledge of his obedience: So will fall
He and his faithless progeny: Whose fault?
Whose but his own? ingrate, he had of me
All he could have; I made him just and right,
Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.
Such I created all the ethereal Powers
And Spirits, both them who stood, and them who fail'd;
Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell.
Not free, what proof could they have given sincere
Of true allegiance, constant faith or love,
Where only what they needs must do appear'd,
Not what they would? what praise could they receive?
What pleasure I from such obedience paid,
When will and reason (reason also is choice)
Useless and vain, of freedom both despoil'd,
Made passive both, had serv'd necessity,
Not me? they therefore, as to right belong$ 'd,
So were created, nor can justly accuse
Their Maker, or their making, or their fate,
As if predestination over-rul'd
Their will dispos'd by absolute decree
Or high foreknowledge they themselves decreed
Their own revolt, not I; if I foreknew,
Foreknowledge had no influence on their fault,
Which had no less proved certain unforeknown.
So without least impulse or shadow of fate,
Or aught by me immutably foreseen,
They trespass, authors to themselves in all
Both what they judge, and what they choose; for so
I form'd them free: and free they must remain,
Till they enthrall themselves; I else must change
Their nature, and revoke the high decree
Unchangeable, eternal, which ordain'd
$THeir freedom: they themselves ordain'd their fall.
The first sort by their own suggestion fell,
Self-tempted, self-deprav'd: Man falls, deceiv'd
By the other first: Man therefore shall find grace,
The other none: In mercy and justice both,
Through Heaven and Earth, so shall my glory excel;
But Mercy, first and last, shall brightest shine.
Thus while God spake, ambrosial fragrance fill'd
All Heaven, and in the blessed Spirits elect
Sense of new joy ineffable diffus'd.
Beyond compare the Son of God was seen
Most glorious; in him all his Father shone
Substantially express'd; and in his face
Divine compassion visibly appear'd,
Love without end, and without measure grace,
Which uttering, thus he to his Father spake.
O Father, gracious was that word which clos'd
Thy sovran command, that Man should find grace;
, that Man should find grace;
For which both Heaven and earth shall high extol
Thy praises, with the innumerable sound
Of hymns and sacred songs, wherewith thy throne
Encompass'd shall resound thee ever blest.
For should Man finally be lost, should Man,
Thy creature late so lov'd, thy youngest son,
Fall circumvented thus by fraud, though join'd
With his own folly? that be from thee far,
That far be from thee, Father, who art judge
Of all things made, and judgest only right.
Or shall the Adversary thus obtain
His end, and frustrate thine? shall he fulfill
His malice, and thy goodness bring to nought,
Or proud return, though to his heavier doom,
Yet with revenge accomplish'd, and to Hell
Draw after him the whole race of mankind,
By him corrupted? or wilt thou thyself
Abolish thy creation, and unmake
For him, what for thy glory thou hast made?
So should thy goodness and thy greatness both
Be question'd and blasphem'd without defence.
To whom the great Creator thus replied.
O son, in whom my soul hath chief delight,
Son of my bosom, Son who art alone.
My word, my wisdom, and effectual might,
All hast thou spoken as my thoughts are, all
As my eternal purpose hath decreed;
Man shall not quite be lost, but sav'd who will;
Yet not of will in him, but grace in me
Freely vouchsaf'd; once more I will renew
His lapsed powers, though forfeit; and enthrall'd
By sin to foul exorbitant desires;
Upheld by me, yet once more he shall stand
On even ground against his mortal foe;
By me upheld, that he may know how frail
His fallen condition is, and to me owe
All his deliverance, and to none but me.
Some I have chosen of peculiar grace,
Elect above the rest; so is my will:
The rest shall hear me call, and oft be warn'd
Their sinful state, and to appease betimes
The incensed Deity, while offer'd grace
Invites; for I will clear their senses dark,
What may suffice, and soften stony hearts
To pray, repent, and bring obedience due.
To prayer, repentance, and obedience due,
Though but endeavour'd with sincere intent,
Mine ear shall not be slow, mine eye not shut.
And I will place within them as a guide,
My umpire Conscience; whom if they will hear,
Light after light, well us'd, they shall attain,
And to the end, persisting, safe arrive.
This my long sufferance, and my day of grace,
They who neglect and scorn, shall never taste;
But hard be harden'd, blind be blinded more,
That they may stumble on, and deeper fall;
And none but such from mercy I exclude.
But yet all is not done; Man disobeying,
Disloyal, breaks his fealty, and sins
Against the high supremacy of Heaven,
Affecting God-head, and, so losing all,
To expiate his treason hath nought left,
But to destruction sacred and devote,
He, with his whole posterity, must die,
Die he or justice must; unless for him
Some other able, and as willing, pay
The rigid satisfaction, death for death.
Say, heavenly Powers, where shall we find such love?
Which of you will be mortal, to redeem
Man's mortal crime, and just the unjust to save?
Dwells in all Heaven charity so dear?
And silence was in Heaven: $ on Man's behalf
He ask'd, but all the heavenly quire stood mute,
Patron or intercessour none appear'd,
Much less that durst upon his own head draw
The deadly forfeiture, and ransom set.
And now without redemption all mankind
Must have been lost, adjudg'd to Death and Hell
By doom severe, had not the Son of God,
In whom the fulness dwells of love divine,
His dearest mediation thus renew'd.
Father, thy word is past, Man shall find grace;
And shall grace not find means, that finds her way,
The speediest of thy winged messengers,
To visit all thy creatures, and to all
Comes unprevented, unimplor'd, unsought?
Happy for Man, so coming; he her aid
Can never seek, once dead in sins, and lost;
Atonement for himself, or offering meet,
Indebted and undone, hath none to bring;
Behold me then: me for him, life for life
I offer: on me let thine anger fall;
Account me Man; I for his sake will leave
Thy bosom, and this glory next to thee
Freely put off, and for him lastly die
Well pleased; on me let Death wreak all his rage.
Under his gloomy power I shall not long
Lie vanquished. Thou hast given me to possess
Life in myself for ever; by thee I live;
Though now to Death I yield, and am his due,
All that of me can die, yet, that debt paid,
$ thou wilt not leave me in the loathsome grave
His prey, nor suffer my unspotted soul
For ever with corruption there to dwell;
But I shall rise victorious, and subdue
My vanquisher, spoiled of his vaunted spoil.
Death his death's wound shall then receive, and stoop
Inglorious, of his mortal sting disarmed;
I through the ample air in triumph high
Shall lead Hell captive maugre Hell, and show
The powers of darkness bound. Thou, at the sight
Pleased, out of Heaven shalt look down and smile,
While, by thee raised, I ruin all my foes;
Death last, and with his carcase glut the grave;
Then, with the multitude of my redeemed,
Shall enter Heaven, long absent, and return,
Father, to see thy face, wherein no cloud
Of anger shall remain, but peace assured
And reconcilement: wrath shall be no more
Thenceforth, but in thy presence joy entire.
His words here ended; but his meek aspect
Silent yet spake, and breathed immortal love
To mortal men, above which only shone
Filial obedience: as a sacrifice
Glad to be offered, he attends the will
Of his great Father. Admiration seized
All Heaven, what this might mean, and whither tend,
Wondering; but soon th' Almighty thus replied.
O thou in Heaven and Earth the only peace
Found out for mankind under wrath, O thou
My sole complacence! Well thou know'st how dear
To me are all my works; nor Man the least,
Though last created, that for him I spare
Thee from my bosom and right hand, to save,
By losing thee a while, the whole race lost.
Thou, therefore, whom thou only canst redeem,
Their nature also to thy nature join;
And be thyself Man among men on Earth,
Made flesh, when time shall be, of virgin seed,
By wondrous birth; be thou in Adam's room
The head of all mankind, though Adam's son.
As in him perish all men, so in thee,
As from a second root, shall be restored
As many as are restored, without thee none.
His crime makes guilty all his sons; thy merit,
Imputed, shall absolve them who renounce
Their own both righteous and unrighteous deeds,
And live in thee transplanted, and from thee
Receive new life. So Man, as is most just,
Shall satisfy for Man, be judged and die,
And dying rise, and rising with him raise
His brethren, ransomed with his own dear life.
So heavenly love shall outdo hellish hate,
Giving to death, and dying to redeem,
So dearly to redeem what hellish hate
So easily destroyed, and still destroys
In those who, when they may, accept not grace.
Nor shalt thou, by descending to assume
Man's nature, lessen or degrade thine own.
Because thou hast, though throned in highest bliss
Equal to God, and equally enjoying
God-like fruition, quitted all, to save
A world from utter loss, and hast been found
By merit more than birthright Son of God,
Found worthiest to be so by being good,
Far more than great or high; because in thee
Love hath abounded more than glory abounds;
Therefore thy humiliation shall exalt
With thee thy manhood also to this throne:
Here shalt thou sit incarnate, here shalt reign
Both God and Man, Son both of God and Man,
Anointed universal King; all power
I give thee; reign for ever, and assume
Thy merits; under thee, as head supreme,
Thrones, Princedoms, Powers, Dominions, I reduce:
All knees to thee shall bow, of them that bide
In Heaven, or Earth, or under Earth in Hell.
When thou, attended gloriously from Heaven,
Shalt in the sky appear, and from thee send
The summoning Arch-Angels to proclaim
Thy dread tribunal; forthwith from all winds,
The living, and forthwith the cited dead
Of all past ages, to the general doom
Shall hasten; such a peal shall rouse their sleep.
Then, all thy saints assembled, thou shalt judge
Bad Men and Angels; they, arraigned, shall sink
Beneath thy sentence; Hell, her numbers full,
Thenceforth shall be for ever shut. Mean while
The world shall burn, and from her ashes spring
New Heaven and Earth, wherein the just shall dwell,
And, after all their tribulations long,
See golden days, fruitful of golden deeds,
With joy and peace triumphing, and fair truth.
Then thou thy regal scepter shalt lay by,
For regal scepter then no more shall need,
God shall be all in all. But, all ye Gods,
Adore him, who to compass all this dies;
Adore the Son, and honour him as me.
No sooner had the Almighty ceased, but all
The multitude of Angels, with a shout
Loud as from numbers without number, sweet
As from blest voices, uttering joy, Heaven rung
With jubilee, and loud Hosannas filled
The eternal regions: Lowly reverent
Towards either throne they bow, and to the ground
With solemn adoration down they cast
Their crowns inwove with amarant and gold;
Immortal amarant, a flower which once
In Paradise, fast by the tree of life,
Began to bloom; but soon for man's offence
To Heaven removed, where first it grew, there grows,
And flowers aloft shading the fount of life,
And where the river of bliss through midst of Heaven
Rolls o'er Elysian flowers her amber stream;
With these that never fade the Spirits elect
Bind their resplendent locks inwreathed with beams;
Now in loose garlands thick thrown off, the bright
Pavement, that like a sea of jasper shone,
Impurpled with celestial roses smiled.
Then, crowned again, their golden harps they took,
Harps ever tuned, that glittering by their side
Like quivers hung, and with preamble sweet
Of charming symphony they introduce
Their sacred song, and waken raptures high;
No voice exempt, no voice but well could join
Melodious part, such concord is in Heaven.
Thee, Father, first they sung Omnipotent,
Immutable, Immortal, Infinite,
Eternal King; the Author of all being,
Fonntain of light, thyself invisible
Amidst the glorious brightness where thou sit'st
Throned inaccessible, but when thou shadest
The full blaze of thy beams, and, through a cloud
Drawn round about thee like a radiant shrine,
Dark with excessive bright thy skirts appear,
Yet dazzle Heaven, that brightest Seraphim
Approach not, but with both wings veil their eyes.
Thee next they sang of all creation first,
Begotten Son, Divine Similitude,
In whose conspicuous countenance, without cloud
Made visible, the Almighty Father shines,
Whom else no creature can behold; on thee
Impressed the effulgence of his glory abides,
Transfused on thee his ample Spirit rests.
He Heaven of Heavens and all the Powers therein
By thee created; and by thee threw down
The aspiring Dominations: Thou that day
Thy Father's dreadful thunder didst not spare,
Nor stop thy flaming chariot-wheels, that shook
Heaven's everlasting frame, while o'er the necks
Thou drovest of warring Angels disarrayed.
Back from pursuit thy Powers with loud acclaim
Thee only extolled, Son of thy Father's might,
To execute fierce vengeance on his foes,
Not so on Man: Him through their malice fallen,
Father of mercy and grace, thou didst not doom
So strictly, but much more to pity incline:
No sooner did thy dear and only Son
Perceive thee purposed not to doom frail Man
So strictly, but much more to pity inclined,
He to appease thy wrath, and end the strife
Of mercy and justice in thy face discerned,
Regardless of the bliss wherein he sat
Second to thee, offered himself to die
For Man's offence. O unexampled love,
Love no where to be found less than Divine!
Hail, Son of God, Saviour of Men! Thy name
Shall be the copious matter of my song
Henceforth, and never shall my heart thy praise
Forget, nor from thy Father's praise disjoin.
Thus they in Heaven, above the starry sphere,
Their happy hours in joy and hymning spent.
Mean while upon the firm opacous globe
Of this round world, whose first convex divides
The luminous inferiour orbs, enclosed
From Chaos, and the inroad of Darkness old,
Satan alighted walks: A globe far off
It seemed, now seems a boundless continent
Dark, waste, and wild, under the frown of Night
Starless exposed, and ever-threatening storms
Of Chaos blustering round, inclement sky;
Save on that side which from the wall of Heaven,
Though distant far, some small reflection gains
Of glimmering air less vexed with tempest loud:
Here walked the Fiend at large in spacious field.
As when a vultur on Imaus bred,
Whose snowy ridge the roving Tartar bounds,
Dislodging from a region scarce of prey
To gorge the flesh of lambs or yeanling kids,
On hills where flocks are fed, flies toward the springs
Of Ganges or Hydaspes, Indian streams;
But in his way lights on the barren plains
Of Sericana, where Chineses drive
With sails and wind their cany waggons light:
So, on this windy sea of land, the Fiend
Walked up and down alone, bent on his prey;
Alone, for other creature in this place,
Living or lifeless, to be found was none;
None yet, but store hereafter from the earth
Up hither like aereal vapours flew
Of all things transitory and vain, when sin
With vanity had filled the works of men:
Both all things vain, and all who in vain things
Built their fond hopes of glory or lasting fame,
Or happiness in this or the other life;
All who have their reward on earth, the fruits
Of painful superstition and blind zeal,
Nought seeking but the praise of men, here find
Fit retribution, empty as their deeds;
All the unaccomplished works of Nature's hand,
Abortive, monstrous, or unkindly mixed,
Dissolved on earth, fleet hither, and in vain,
Till final dissolution, wander here;
Not in the neighbouring moon as some have dreamed;
Those argent fields more likely habitants,
Translated Saints, or middle Spirits hold
Betwixt the angelical and human kind.
Hither of ill-joined sons and daughters born
First from the ancient world those giants came
With many a vain exploit, though then renowned:
The builders next of Babel on the plain
Of Sennaar, and still with vain design,
New Babels, had they wherewithal, would build:
Others came single; he, who, to be deemed
A God, leaped fondly into Aetna flames,
Empedocles; and he, who, to enjoy
Plato's Elysium, leaped into the sea,
Cleombrotus; and many more too long,
Embryos, and idiots, eremites, and friars
White, black, and gray, with all their trumpery.
Here pilgrims roam, that strayed so far to seek
In Golgotha him dead, who lives in Heaven;
And they, who to be sure of Paradise,
Dying, put on the weeds of Dominick,
Or in Franciscan think to pass disguised;
They pass the planets seven, and pass the fixed,
And that crystalling sphere whose balance weighs
The trepidation talked, and that first moved;
And now Saint Peter at Heaven's wicket seems
To wait them with his keys, and now at foot
Of Heaven's ascent they lift their feet, when lo
A violent cross wind from either coast
Blows them transverse, ten thousand leagues awry
Into the devious air: Then might ye see
Cowls, hoods, and habits, with their wearers, tost
And fluttered into rags; then reliques, beads,
Indulgences, dispenses, pardons, bulls,
The sport of winds: All these, upwhirled aloft,
Fly o'er the backside of the world far off
Into a Limbo large and broad, since called
The Paradise of Fools, to few unknown
Long after; now unpeopled, and untrod.
All this dark globe the Fiend found as he passed,
And long he wandered, till at last a gleam
Of dawning light turned thither-ward in haste
His travelled steps: far distant he descries
Ascending by degrees magnificent
Up to the wall of Heaven a structure high;
At top whereof, but far more rich, appeared
The work as of a kingly palace-gate,
With frontispiece of diamond and gold
Embellished; thick with sparkling orient gems
The portal shone, inimitable on earth
By model, or by shading pencil, drawn.
These stairs were such as whereon Jacob saw
Angels ascending and descending, bands
Of guardians bright, when he from Esau fled
To Padan-Aram, in the field of Luz
Dreaming by night under the open sky
And waking cried, This is the gate of Heaven.
Each stair mysteriously was meant, nor stood
There always, but drawn up to Heaven sometimes
Viewless; and underneath a bright sea flowed
Of jasper, or of liquid pearl, whereon
Who after came from earth, failing arrived
Wafted by Angels, or flew o'er the lake
Rapt in a chariot drawn by fiery steeds.
The stairs were then let down, whether to dare
The Fiend by easy ascent, or aggravate
His sad exclusion from the doors of bliss:
Direct against which opened from beneath,
Just o'er the blissful seat of Paradise,
A passage down to the Earth, a passage wide,
Wider by far than that of after-times
Over mount Sion, and, though that were large,
Over the Promised Land to God so dear;
By which, to visit oft those happy tribes,
On high behests his angels to and fro
Passed frequent, and his eye with choice regard
From Paneas, the fount of Jordan's flood,
To Beersaba, where the Holy Land
Borders on Egypt and the Arabian shore;
So wide the opening seemed, where bounds were set
To darkness, such as bound the ocean wave.
Satan from hence, now on the lower stair,
That scaled by steps of gold to Heaven-gate,
Looks down with wonder at the sudden view
Of all this world at once. As when a scout,
Through dark?;nd desart ways with?oeril gone
All?might,?;t?kast by break of cheerful dawn
Obtains the brow of some high-climbing hill,
Which to his eye discovers unaware
The goodly prospect of some foreign land
First seen, or some renowned metropolis
With glistering spires and pinnacles adorned,
Which now the rising sun gilds with his beams:
Such wonder seised, though after Heaven seen,
The Spirit malign, but much more envy seised,
At sight of all this world beheld so fair.
Round he surveys (and well might, where he stood
So high above the circling canopy
Of night's extended shade,) from eastern point
Of Libra to the fleecy star that bears
Andromeda far off Atlantick seas
Beyond the horizon; then from pole to pole
He views in breadth, and without longer pause
Down right into the world's first region throws
His flight precipitant, and winds with ease
Through the pure marble air his oblique way
Amongst innumerable stars, that shone
Stars distant, but nigh hand seemed other worlds;
Or other worlds they seemed, or happy isles,
Like those Hesperian gardens famed of old,
Fortunate fields, and groves, and flowery vales,
Thrice happy isles; but who dwelt happy there
He staid not to inquire: Above them all
The golden sun, in splendour likest Heaven,
Allured his eye; thither his course he bends
Through the calm firmament, (but up or down,
By center, or eccentrick, hard to tell,
Or longitude,) where the great luminary
Aloof the vulgar constellations thick,
That from his lordly eye keep distance due,
Dispenses light from far; they, as they move
Their starry dance in numbers that compute
Days, months, and years, towards his all-cheering lamp
Turn swift their various motions, or are turned
By his magnetick beam, that gently warms
The universe, and to each inward part
With gentle penetration, though unseen,
Shoots invisible virtue even to the deep;
So wonderously was set his station bright.
There lands the Fiend, a spot like which perhaps
Astronomer in the sun's lucent orb
Through his glazed optick tube yet never saw.
The place he found beyond expression bright,
Compared with aught on earth, metal or stone;
Not all parts like, but all alike informed
With radiant light, as glowing iron with fire;
If metal, part seemed gold, part silver clear;
If stone, carbuncle most or chrysolite,
Ruby or topaz, to the twelve that shone
In Aaron's breast-plate, and a stone besides
Imagined rather oft than elsewhere seen,
That stone, or like to that which here below
Philosophers in vain so long have sought,
In vain, though by their powerful art they bind
Volatile Hermes, and call up unbound
In various shapes old Proteus from the sea,
Drained through a limbeck to his native form.
What wonder then if fields and regions here
Breathe forth Elixir pure, and rivers run
Potable gold, when with one virtuous touch
The arch-chemick sun, so far from us remote,
Produces, with terrestrial humour mixed,
Here in the dark so many precious things
Of colour glorious, and effect so rare?
Here matter new to gaze the Devil met
Undazzled; far and wide his eye commands;
For sight no obstacle found here, nor shade,
But all sun-shine, as when his beams at noon
Culminate from the equator, as they now
Shot upward still direct, whence no way round
Shadow from body opaque can fall; and the air,
No where so clear, sharpened his visual ray
To objects distant far, whereby he soon
Saw within ken a glorious Angel stand,
The same whom John saw also in the sun:
His back was turned, but not his brightness hid;
Of beaming sunny rays a golden tiar
Circled his head, nor less his locks behind
Illustrious on his shoulders fledge with wings
Lay waving round; on some great charge employed
He seemed, or fixed in cogitation deep.
Glad was the Spirit impure, as now in hope
To find who might direct his wandering flight
To Paradise, the happy seat of Man,
His journey's end and our beginning woe.
But first he casts to change his proper shape,
Which else might work him danger or delay:
And now a stripling Cherub he appears,
Not of the prime, yet such as in his face
Youth smiled celestial, and to every limb
Suitable grace diffused, so well he feigned:
Under a coronet his flowing hair
In curls on either cheek played; wings he wore
Of many a coloured plume, sprinkled with gold;
His habit fit for speed succinct, and held
Before his decent steps a silver wand.
He drew not nigh unheard; the Angel bright,
Ere he drew nigh, his radiant visage turned,
Admonished by his ear, and straight was known
The Arch-Angel Uriel, one of the seven
Who in God's presence, nearest to his throne,
Stand ready at command, and are his eyes
That run through all the Heavens, or down to the Earth
Bear his swift errands over moist and dry,
O'er sea and land: him Satan thus accosts.
Uriel, for thou of those seven Spirits that stand
In sight of God's high throne, gloriously bright,
The first art wont his great authentick will
Interpreter through highest Heaven to bring,
Where all his sons thy embassy attend;
And here art likeliest by supreme decree
Like honour to obtain, and as his eye
To visit oft this new creation round;
Unspeakable desire to see, and know
All these his wonderous works, but chiefly Man,
His chief delight and favour, him for whom
All these his works so wonderous he ordained,
Hath brought me from the quires of Cherubim
Alone thus wandering. Brightest Seraph, tell
In which of all these shining orbs hath Man
His fixed seat, or fixed seat hath none,
But all these shining orbs his choice to dwell;
That I may find him, and with secret gaze
Or open admiration him behold,
On whom the great Creator hath bestowed
Worlds, and on whom hath all these graces poured;
That both in him and all things, as is meet,
The universal Maker we may praise;
Who justly hath driven out his rebel foes
To deepest Hell, and, to repair that loss,
Created this new happy race of Men
To serve him better: Wise are all his ways.
So spake the false dissembler unperceived;
For neither Man nor Angel can discern
Hypocrisy, the only evil that walks
Invisible, except to God alone,
By his permissive will, through Heaven and Earth:
And oft, though wisdom wake, suspicion sleeps
At wisdom's gate, and to simplicity
Resigns her charge, while goodness thinks no ill
Where no ill seems: Which now for once beguiled
Uriel, though regent of the sun, and held
The sharpest-sighted Spirit of all in Heaven;
Who to the fraudulent impostor foul,
In his uprightness, answer thus returned.
Fair Angel, thy desire, which tends to know
The works of God, thereby to glorify
The great Work-master, leads to no excess
That reaches blame, but rather merits praise
The more it seems excess, that led thee hither
From thy empyreal mansion thus alone,
To witness with thine eyes what some perhaps,
Contented with report, hear only in Heaven:
For wonderful indeed are all his works,
Pleasant to know, and worthiest to be all
Had in remembrance always with delight;
But what created mind can comprehend
Their number, or the wisdom infinite
That brought them forth, but hid their causes deep?
I saw when at his word the formless mass,
This world's material mould, came to a heap:
Confusion heard his voice, and wild uproar
Stood ruled, stood vast infinitude confined;
Till at his second bidding Darkness fled,
Light shone, and order from disorder sprung:
Swift to their several quarters hasted then
The cumbrous elements, earth, flood, air, fire;
And this ethereal quintessence of Heaven
Flew upward, spirited with various forms,
That rolled orbicular, and turned to stars
Numberless, as thou seest, and how they move;
Each had his place appointed, each his course;
The rest in circuit walls this universe.
Look downward on that globe, whose hither side
With light from hence, though but reflected, shines;
That place is Earth, the seat of Man; that light
His day, which else, as the other hemisphere,
Night would invade; but there the neighbouring moon
So call that opposite fair star) her aid
Timely interposes, and her monthly round
Still ending, still renewing, through mid Heaven,
With borrowed light her countenance triform
Hence fills and empties to enlighten the Earth,
And in her pale dominion checks the night.
That spot, to which I point, is Paradise,
Adam's abode; those lofty shades, his bower.
Thy way thou canst not miss, me mine requires.
Thus said, he turned; and Satan, bowing low,
As to superiour Spirits is wont in Heaven,
Where honour due and reverence none neglects,
Took leave, and toward the coast of earth beneath,
Down from the ecliptick, sped with hoped success,
Throws his steep flight in many an aery wheel;
Nor staid, till on Niphates' top he lights.
by John Milton.
HE was a Grecian lad, who coming home
With pulpy figs and wine from Sicily
Stood at his galley's prow, and let the foam
Blow through his crisp brown curls unconsciously,
And holding wave and wind in boy's despite
Peered from his dripping seat across the wet and stormy night
Till with the dawn he saw a burnished spear
Like a thin thread of gold against the sky,
And hoisted sail, and strained the creaking gear,
And bade the pilot head her lustily
Against the nor'west gale, and all day long
Held on his way, and marked the rowers' time with measured song,
And when the faint Corinthian hills were red
Dropped anchor in a little sandy bay,
And with fresh boughs of olive crowned his head,
And brushed from cheek and throat the hoary spray,
And washed his limbs with oil, and from the hold
Brought out his linen tunic and his sandals brazen-soled,
And a rich robe stained with the fishes' juice
Which of some swarthy trader he had bought
Upon the sunny quay at Syracuse,
And was with Tyrian broideries inwrought,
And by the questioning merchants made his way
Up through the soft and silver woods, and when the labouring day
Had spun its tangled web of crimson cloud,
Clomb the high hill, and with swift silent feet
Crept to the fane unnoticed by the crowd
Of busy priests, and from some dark retreat
Watched the young swains his frolic playmates bring
The firstling of their little flock, and the shy shepherd fling
The crackling salt upon the flame, or hang
His studded crook against the temple wall
To Her who keeps away the ravenous fang
Of the base wolf from homestead and from stall;
And then the clear-voiced maidens 'gan to sing,
And to the altar each man brought some goodly offering,
A beechen cup brimming with milky foam,
A fair cloth wrought with cunning imagery
Of hounds in chase, a waxen honey-comb
Dripping with oozy gold which scarce the bee
Had ceased from building, a black skin of oil
Meet for the wrestlers, a great boar the fierce and white-tusked
Stolen from Artemis that jealous maid
To please Athena, and the dappled hide
Of a tall stag who in some mountain glade
Had met the shaft; and then the herald cried,
And from the pillared precinct one by one
Went the glad Greeks well pleased that they their simple vows had
And the old priest put out the waning fires
Save that one lamp whose restless ruby glowed
For ever in the cell, and the shrill lyres
Came fainter on the wind, as down the road
In joyous dance these country folk did pass,
And with stout hands the warder closed the gates of polished brass.
Long time he lay and hardly dared to breathe,
And heard the cadenced drip of spilt-out wine,
And the rose-petals falling from the wreath
As the night breezes wandered through the shrine,
And seemed to be in some entrancèd swoon
Till through the open roof above the full and brimming moon
Flooded with sheeny waves the marble floor,
When from his nook upleapt the venturous lad,
And flinging wide the cedar-carven door
Beheld an awful image saffron-clad
And armed for battle! the gaunt Griffin glared
From the huge helm, and the long lance of wreck and ruin flared
Like a red rod of flame, stony and steeled
The Gorgon's head its leaden eyeballs rolled,
And writhed its snaky horrors through the shield,
And gaped aghast with bloodless lips and cold
In passion impotent, while with blind gaze
The blinking owl between the feet hooted in shrill amaze.
The lonely fisher as he trimmed his lamp
Far out at sea off Sunium, or cast
The net for tunnies, heard a brazen tramp
Of horses smite the waves, and a wild blast
Divide the folded curtains of the night,
And knelt upon the little poop, and prayed in holy fright.
And guilty lovers in their venery
Forgat a little while their stolen sweets,
Deeming they heard dread Dian's bitter cry;
And the grim watchmen on their lofty seats
Ran to their shields in haste precipitate,
Or strained black-bearded throats across the dusky parapet.
For round the temple rolled the clang of arms,
And the twelve Gods leapt up in marble fear,
And the air quaked with dissonant alarums
Till huge Poseidon shook his mighty spear,
And on the frieze the prancing horses neighed,
And the low tread of hurrying feet rang from the cavalcade.
Ready for death with parted lips he stood,
And well content at such a price to see
That calm wide brow, that terrible maidenhood,
The marvel of that pitiless chastity,
Ah! well content indeed, for never wight
Since Troy's young shepherd prince had seen so wonderful a sight.
Ready for death he stood, but lo! the air
Grew silent, and the horses ceased to neigh,
And off his brow he tossed the clustering hair,
And from his limbs he threw the cloak away,
For whom would not such love make desperate,
And nigher came, and touched her throat, and with hands violate
Undid the cuirass, and the crocus gown,
And bared the breasts of polished ivory,
Till from the waist the peplos falling down
Left visible the secret mystery
Which to no lover will Athena show,
The grand cool flanks, the crescent thighs, the bossy hills of snow.
Those who have never known a lover's sin
Let them not read my ditty, it will be
To their dull ears so musicless and thin
That they will have no joy of it, but ye
To whose wan cheeks now creeps the lingering smile,
Ye who have learned who Eros is,--O listen yet a-while.
A little space he let his greedy eyes
Rest on the burnished image, till mere sight
Half swooned for surfeit of such luxuries,
And then his lips in hungering delight
Fed on her lips, and round the towered neck
He flung his arms, nor cared at all his passion's will to check.
Never I ween did lover hold such tryst,
For all night long he murmured honeyed word,
And saw her sweet unravished limbs, and kissed
Her pale and argent body undisturbed,
And paddled with the polished throat, and pressed
His hot and beating heart upon her chill and icy breast.
It was as if Numidian javelins
Pierced through and through his wild and whirling brain,
And his nerves thrilled like throbbing violins
In exquisite pulsation, and the pain
Was such sweet anguish that he never drew
His lips from hers till overhead the lark of warning flew.
They who have never seen the daylight peer
Into a darkened room, and drawn the curtain,
And with dull eyes and wearied from some dear
And worshipped body risen, they for certain
Will never know of what I try to sing,
How long the last kiss was, how fond and late his lingering.
The moon was girdled with a crystal rim,
The sign which shipmen say is ominous
Of wrath in heaven, the wan stars were dim,
And the low lightening east was tremulous
With the faint fluttering wings of flying dawn,
Ere from the silent sombre shrine this lover had withdrawn.
Down the steep rock with hurried feet and fast
Clomb the brave lad, and reached the cave of Pan,
And heard the goat-foot snoring as he passed,
And leapt upon a grassy knoll and ran
Like a young fawn unto an olive wood
Which in a shady valley by the well-built city stood.
And sought a little stream, which well he knew,
For oftentimes with boyish careless shout
The green and crested grebe he would pursue,
Or snare in woven net the silver trout,
And down amid the startled reeds he lay
Panting in breathless sweet affright, and waited for the day.
On the green bank he lay, and let one hand
Dip in the cool dark eddies listlessly,
And soon the breath of morning came and fanned
His hot flushed cheeks, or lifted wantonly
The tangled curls from off his forehead, while
He on the running water gazed with strange and secret smile.
And soon the shepherd in rough woollen cloak
With his long crook undid the wattled cotes,
And from the stack a thin blue wreath of smoke
Curled through the air across the ripening oats,
And on the hill the yellow house-dog bayed
As through the crisp and rustling fern the heavy cattle strayed.
And when the light-foot mower went afield
Across the meadows laced with threaded dew,
And the sheep bleated on the misty weald,
And from its nest the waking corn-crake flew,
Some woodmen saw him lying by the stream
And marvelled much that any lad so beautiful could seem,
Nor deemed him born of mortals, and one said,
'It is young Hylas, that false runaway
Who with a Naiad now would make his bed
Forgetting Herakles,' but others, 'Nay,
It is Narcissus, his own paramour,
Those are the fond and crimson lips no woman can allure.'
And when they nearer came a third one cried,
'It is young Dionysos who has hid
His spear and fawnskin by the river side
Weary of hunting with the Bassarid,
And wise indeed were we away to fly
They live not long who on the gods immortal come to spy.'
So turned they back, and feared to look behind,
And told the timid swain how they had seen
Amid the reeds some woodland God reclined,
And no man dared to cross the open green,
And on that day no olive-tree was slain,
Nor rushes cut, but all deserted was the fair domain.
Save when the neat-herd's lad, his empty pail
Well slung upon his back, with leap and bound
Raced on the other side, and stopped to hail
Hoping that he some comrade new had found,
And gat no answer, and then half afraid
Passed on his simple way, or down the still and silent glade
A little girl ran laughing from the farm
Not thinking of love's secret mysteries,
And when she saw the white and gleaming arm
And all his manlihood, with longing eyes
Whose passion mocked her sweet virginity
Watched him a-while, and then stole back sadly and wearily.
Far off he heard the city's hum and noise,
And now and then the shriller laughter where
The passionate purity of brown-limbed boys
Wrestled or raced in the clear healthful air,
And now and then a little tinkling bell
As the shorn wether led the sheep down to the mossy well.
Through the grey willows danced the fretful gnat,
The grasshopper chirped idly from the tree,
In sleek and oily coat the water-rat
Breasting the little ripples manfully
Made for the wild-duck's nest, from bough to bough
Hopped the shy finch, and the huge tortoise crept across the slough.
On the faint wind floated the silky seeds,
As the bright scythe swept through the waving grass,
The ousel-cock splashed circles in the reeds
And flecked with silver whorls the forest's glass,
Which scarce had caught again its imagery
Ere from its bed the dusky tench leapt at the dragonfly.
But little care had he for any thing
Though up and down the beech the squirrel played,
And from the copse the linnet 'gan to sing
To her brown mate her sweetest serenade,
Ah! little care indeed, for he had seen
The breasts of Pallas and the naked wonder of the Queen.
But when the herdsman called his straggling goats
With whistling pipe across the rocky road,
And the shard-beetle with its trumpet-notes
Boomed through the darkening woods, and seemed to bode
Of coming storm, and the belated crane
Passed homeward like a shadow, and the dull big drops of rain
Fell on the pattering fig-leaves, up he rose,
And from the gloomy forest went his way
Past sombre homestead and wet orchard-close,
And came at last unto a little quay,
And called his mates a-board, and took his seat
On the high poop, and pushed from land, and loosed the dripping
And steered across the bay, and when nine suns
Passed down the long and laddered way of gold,
And nine pale moons had breathed their orisons
To the chaste stars their confessors, or told
Their dearest secret to the downy moth
That will not fly at noonday, through the foam and surging froth
Came a great owl with yellow sulphurous eyes
And lit upon the ship, whose timbers creaked
As though the lading of three argosies
Were in the hold, and flapped its wings, and shrieked,
And darkness straightway stole across the deep,
Sheathed was Orion's sword, dread Mars himself fled down the steep,
And the moon hid behind a tawny mask
Of drifting cloud, and from the ocean's marge
Rose the red plume, the huge and hornèd casque,
The seven-cubit spear, the brazen targe!
And clad in bright and burnished panoply
Athena strode across the stretch of sick and shivering sea!
To the dull sailors' sight her loosened locks
Seemed like the jagged storm-rack, and her feet
Only the spume that floats on hidden rocks,
And marking how the rising waters beat
Against the rolling ship, the pilot cried
To the young helmsman at the stern to luff to windward side.
But he, the over-bold adulterer,
A dear profaner of great mysteries,
An ardent amorous idolater,
When he beheld those grand relentless eyes
Laughed loud for joy, and crying out 'I come'
Leapt from the lofty poop into the chill and churning foam.
Then fell from the high heaven one bright star,
One dancer left the circling galaxy,
And back to Athens on her clattering car
In all the pride of venged divinity
Pale Pallas swept with shrill and steely clank,
And a few gurgling bubbles rose where her boy lover sank.
And the mast shuddered as the gaunt owl flew
With mocking hoots after the wrathful Queen,
And the old pilot bade the trembling crew
Hoist the big sail, and told how he had seen
Close to the stern a dim and giant form,
And like a dipping swallow the stout ship dashed through the storm.
And no man dared to speak of Charmides
Deeming that he some evil thing had wrought,
And when they reached the strait Symplegades
They beached their galley on the shore, and sought
The toll-gate of the city hastily,
And in the market showed their brown and pictured pottery.
But some good Triton-god had ruth, and bare
The boy's drowned body back to Grecian land,
And mermaids combed his dank and dripping hair
And smoothed his brow, and loosed his clenching hand,
Some brought sweet spices from far Araby,
And others bade the halcyon sing her softest lullaby.
And when he neared his old Athenian home,
A mighty billow rose up suddenly
Upon whose oily back the clotted foam
Lay diapered in some strange fantasy,
And clasping him unto its glassy breast,
Swept landward, like a white-maned steed upon a venturous quest!
Now where Colonos leans unto the sea
There lies a long and level stretch of lawn,
The rabbit knows it, and the mountain bee
For it deserts Hymettus, and the Faun
Is not afraid, for never through the day
Comes a cry ruder than the shout of shepherd lads at play.
But often from the thorny labyrinth
And tangled branches of the circling wood
The stealthy hunter sees young Hyacinth
Hurling the polished disk, and draws his hood
Over his guilty gaze, and creeps away,
Nor dares to wind his horn, or--else at the first break of day
The Dyrads come and throw the leathern ball
Along the reedy shore, and circumvent
Some goat-eared Pan to be their seneschal
For fear of bold Poseidon's ravishment,
And loose their girdles, with shy timorous eyes,
Lest from the surf his azure arms and purple beard should rise.
On this side and on that a rocky cave,
Hung with the yellow-bell'd laburnum, stands,
Smooth is the beach, save where some ebbing wave
Leaves its faint outline etched upon the sands,
As though it feared to be too soon forgot
By the green rush, its playfellow,--and yet, it is a spot
So small, that the inconstant butterfly
Could steal the hoarded honey from each flower
Ere it was noon, and still not satisfy
Its over-greedy love,--within an hour
A sailor boy, were he but rude enow
To land and pluck a garland for his galley's painted prow,
Would almost leave the little meadow bare,
For it knows nothing of great pageantry,
Only a few narcissi here and there
Stand separate in sweet austerity,
Dotting the unmown grass with silver stars,
And here and there a daffodil waves tiny scimetars.
Hither the billow brought him, and was glad
Of such dear servitude, and where the land
Was virgin of all waters laid the lad
Upon the golden margent of the strand,
And like a lingering lover oft returned
To kiss those pallid limbs which once with intense fire burned,
Ere the wet seas had quenched that holocaust,
That self-fed flame, that passionate lustihead,
Ere grisly death with chill and nipping frost
Had withered up those lilies white and red
Which, while the boy would through the forest range,
Answered each other in a sweet antiphonal counterchange.
And when at dawn the woodnymphs, hand-in-hand,
Threaded the bosky dell, their satyr spied
The boy's pale body stretched upon the sand,
And feared Poseidon's treachery, and cried,
And like bright sunbeams flitting through a glade,
Each startled Dryad sought some safe and leafy ambuscade.
Save one white girl, who deemed it would not be
So dread a thing to feel a sea-god's arms
Crushing her breasts in amorous tyranny,
And longed to listen to those subtle charms
Insidious lovers weave when they would win
Some fencèd fortress, and stole back again, nor thought it sin
To yield her treasure unto one so fair,
And lay beside him, thirsty with love's drouth,
Called him soft names, played with his tangled hair,
And with hot lips made havoc of his mouth
Afraid he might not wake, and then afraid
Lest he might wake too soon, fled back, and then, fond renegade,
Returned to fresh assault, and all day long
Sat at his side, and laughed at her new toy,
And held his hand, and sang her sweetest song,
Then frowned to see how froward was the boy
Who would not with her maidenhood entwine,
Nor knew that three days since his eyes had looked on Proserpine,
Nor knew what sacrilege his lips had done,
But said, 'He will awake, I know him well,
He will awake at evening when the sun
Hangs his red shield on Corinth's citadel,
This sleep is but a cruel treachery
To make me love him more, and in some cavern of the sea
Deeper than ever falls the fisher's line
Already a huge Triton blows his horn,
And weaves a garland from the crystalline
And drifting ocean-tendrils to adorn
The emerald pillars of our bridal bed,
For sphered in foaming silver, and with coral-crownèd head,
We two will sit upon a throne of pearl,
And a blue wave will be our canopy,
And at our feet the water-snakes will curl
In all their amethystine panoply
Of diamonded mail, and we will mark
The mullets swimming by the mast of some storm-foundered bark,
Vermilion-finned with eyes of bossy gold
Like flakes of crimson light, and the great deep
His glassy-portaled chamber will unfold,
And we will see the painted dolphins sleep
Cradled by murmuring halcyons on the rocks
Where Proteus in quaint suit of green pastures his monstrous flocks.
And tremulous opal-hued anemones
Will wave their purple fringes where we tread
Upon the mirrored floor, and argosies
Of fishes flecked with tawny scales will thread
The drifting cordage of the shattered wreck,
And honey-coloured amber beads our twining limbs will deck.'
But when that baffled Lord of War the Sun
With gaudy pennon flying passed away
Into his brazen House, and one by one
The little yellow stars began to stray
Across the field of heaven, ah! then indeed
She feared his lips upon her lips would never care to feed,
And cried, 'Awake, already the pale moon
Washes the trees with silver, and the wave
Creeps grey and chilly up this sandy dune,
The croaking frogs are out, and from the cave
The night-jar shrieks, the fluttering bats repass,
And the brown stoat with hollow flanks creeps through the dusky
Nay, though thou art a God, be not so coy,
For in yon stream there is a little reed
That often whispers how a lovely boy
Lay with her once upon a grassy mead,
Who when his cruel pleasure he had done
Spread wings of rustling gold and soared aloft into the sun.
Be not so coy, the laurel trembles still
With great Apollo's kisses, and the fir
Whose clustering sisters fringe the sea-ward hill
Hath many a tale of that bold ravisher
Whom men call Boreas, and I have seen
The mocking eyes of Hermes through the poplar's silvery sheen.
Even the jealous Naiads call me fair,
And every morn a young and ruddy swain
Wooes me with apples and with locks of hair,
And seeks to soothe my virginal disdain
By all the gifts the gentle wood-nymphs love;
But yesterday he brought to me an iris-plumaged dove
With little crimson feet, which with its store
Of seven spotted eggs the cruel lad
Had stolen from the lofty sycamore
At day-break, when her amorous comrade had
Flown off in search of berried juniper
Which most they love; the fretful wasp, that earliest vintager
Of the blue grapes, hath not persistency
So constant as this simple shepherd-boy
For my poor lips, his joyous purity
And laughing sunny eyes might well decoy
A Dryad from her oath to Artemis;
For very beautiful is he, his mouth was made to kiss,
His argent forehead, like a rising moon
Over the dusky hills of meeting brows,
Is crescent shaped, the hot and Tyrian noon
Leads from the myrtle-grove no goodlier spouse
For Cytheræa, the first silky down
Fringes his blushing cheeks, and his young limbs are strong and
And he is rich, and fat and fleecy herds
Of bleating sheep upon his meadows lie,
And many an earthen bowl of yellow curds
Is in his homestead for the thievish fly
To swim and drown in, the pink clover mead
Keeps its sweet store for him, and he can pipe on oaten reed.
And yet I love him not, it was for thee
I kept my love, I knew that thou would'st come
To rid me of this pallid chastity;
Thou fairest flower of the flowerless foam
Of all the wide Ægean, brightest star
Of ocean's azure heavens where the mirrored planets are!
I knew that thou would'st come, for when at first
The dry wood burgeoned, and the sap of Spring
Swelled in my green and tender bark or burst
To myriad multitudinous blossoming
Which mocked the midnight with its mimic moons
That did not dread the dawn, and first the thrushes' rapturous tunes
Startled the squirrel from its granary,
And cuckoo flowers fringed the narrow lane,
Through my young leaves a sensuous ecstasy
Crept like new wine, and every mossy vein
Throbbed with the fitful pulse of amorous blood,
And the wild winds of passion shook my slim stem's maidenhood.
The trooping fawns at evening came and laid
Their cool black noses on my lowest boughs
And on my topmost branch the blackbird made
A little nest of grasses for his spouse,
And now and then a twittering wren would light
On a thin twig which hardly bare the weigh of such delight.
I was the Attic shepherd's trysting place,
Beneath my shadow Amaryllis lay,
And round my trunk would laughing Daphnis chase
The timorous girl, till tired out with play
She felt his hot breath stir her tangled hair,
And turned, and looked, and fled no more from such delightful snare.
Then come away unto my ambuscade
Where clustering woodbine weaves a canopy
For amorous pleasaunce, and the rustling shade
Of Paphian myrtles seems to sanctify
The dearest rites of love, there in the cool
And green recesses of its farthest depth there is a pool,
The ouzel's haunt, the wild bee's pasturage,
For round its rim great creamy lilies float
Through their flat leaves in verdant anchorage,
Each cup a white-sailed golden-laden boat
Steered by a dragon-fly,--be not afraid
To leave this wan and wave-kissed shore, surely the place were made
For lovers such as we, the Cyprian Queen,
One arm around her boyish paramour,
Strays often there at eve, and I have seen
The moon strip off her misty vestiture
For young Endymion's eyes, be not afraid,
The panther feet of Dian never tread that secret glade.
Nay if thou wil'st, back to the beating brine,
Back to the boisterous billow let us go,
And walk all day beneath the hyaline
Huge vault of Neptune's watery portico,
And watch the purple monsters of the deep
Sport in ungainly play, and from his lair keen Xiphias leap.
For if my mistress find me lying here
She will not ruth or gentle pity show,
But lay her boar-spear down, and with austere
Relentless fingers string the cornel bow,
And draw the feathered notch against her breast,
And loose the archèd cord, ay, even now upon the quest
I hear her hurrying feet,--awake, awake,
Thou laggard in love's battle! once at least
Let me drink deep of passion's wine, and slake
My parchèd being with the nectarous feast
Which even Gods affect! O come Love come,
Still we have time to reach the cavern of thine azure home.'
Scarce had she spoken when the shuddering trees
Shook, and the leaves divided, and the air
Grew conscious of a God, and the grey seas
Crawled backward, and a long and dismal blare
Blew from some tasselled horn, a sleuth-hound bayed,
And like a flame a barbèd reed flew whizzing down the glade.
And where the little flowers of her breast
Just brake into their milky blossoming,
This murderous paramour, this unbidden guest,
Pierced and struck deep in horrid chambering,
And ploughed a bloody furrow with its dart,
And dug a long red road, and cleft with wingèd death her heart.
Sobbing her life out with a bitter cry
On the boy's body fell the Dryad maid,
Sobbing for incomplete virginity,
And raptures unenjoyed, and pleasures dead,
And all the pain of things unsatisfied,
And the bright drops of crimson youth crept down her throbbing
Ah! pitiful it was to hear her moan,
And very pitiful to see her die
Ere she had yielded up her sweets, or known
The joy of passion, that dread mystery
Which not to know is not to live at all,
And yet to know is to be held in death's most deadly thrall.
But as it hapt the Queen of Cythere,
Who with Adonis all night long had lain
Within some shepherd's hut in Arcady,
On team of silver doves and gilded wane
Was journeying Paphos-ward, high up afar
From mortal ken between the mountains and the morning star,
And when low down she spied the hapless pair,
And heard the Oread's faint despairing cry,
Whose cadence seemed to play upon the air
As though it were a viol, hastily
She bade her pigeons fold each straining plume,
And dropt to earth, and reached the strand, and saw their dolorous
For as a gardener turning back his head
To catch the last notes of the linnet, mows
With careless scythe too near some flower bed,
And cuts the thorny pillar of the rose,
And with the flower's loosened loveliness
Strews the brown mould, or as some shepherd lad in wantonness
Driving his little flock along the mead
Treads down two daffodils which side by side
Have lured the lady-bird with yellow brede
And made the gaudy moth forget its pride,
Treads down their brimming golden chalices
Under light feet which were not made for such rude ravages,
Or as a schoolboy tired of his book
Flings himself down upon the reedy grass
And plucks two water-lilies from the brook,
And for a time forgets the hour glass,
Then wearies of their sweets, and goes his way,
And lets the hot sun kill them, even so these lovers lay.
And Venus cried, 'It is dread Artemis
Whose bitter hand hath wrought this cruelty,
Or else that mightier may whose care it is
To guard her strong and stainless majesty
Upon the hill Athenian,--alas!
That they who loved so well unloved into Death's house should pass.
So with soft hands she laid the boy and girl
In the great golden waggon tenderly,
Her white throat whiter than a moony pearl
Just threaded with a blue vein's tapestry
Had not yet ceased to throb, and still her breast
Swayed like a wind-stirred lily in ambiguous unrest.
And then each pigeon spread its milky van,
The bright car soared into the dawning sky,
And like a cloud the aerial caravan
Passed over the Ægean silently,
Till the faint air was troubled with the song
From the wan mouths that call on bleeding Thammuz all night long.
But when the doves had reached their wonted goal
Where the wide stair of orbèd marble dips
Its snows into the sea, her fluttering soul
Just shook the trembling petals of her lips
And passed into the void, and Venus knew
That one fair maid the less would walk amid her retinue,
And bade her servants carve a cedar chest
With all the wonder of this history,
Within whose scented womb their limbs should rest
Where olive-trees make tender the blue sky
On the low hills of Paphos, and the faun
Pipes in the noonday, and the nightingale sings on till dawn.
Nor failed they to obey her hest, and ere
The morning bee had stung the daffodil
With tiny fretful spear, or from its lair
The waking stag had leapt across the rill
And roused the ouzel, or the lizard crept
Athwart the sunny rock, beneath the grass their bodies slept.
And when day brake, within that silver shrine
Fed by the flames of cressets tremulous,
Queen Venus knelt and prayed to Proserpine
That she whose beauty made Death amorous
Should beg a guerdon from her pallid Lord,
And let Desire pass across dread Charon's icy ford.
In melancholy moonless Acheron,
Far from the goodly earth and joyous day,
Where no spring ever buds, nor ripening sun
Weighs down the apple trees, nor flowery May
Chequers with chestnut blooms the grassy floor,
Where thrushes never sing, and piping linnets mate no more,
There by a dim and dark Lethæan well
Young Charmides was lying, wearily
He plucked the blossoms from the asphodel,
And with its little rifled treasury
Strewed the dull waters of the dusky stream,
And watched the white stars founder, and the land was like a
When as he gazed into the watery glass
And through his brown hair's curly tangles scanned
His own wan face, a shadow seemed to pass
Across the mirror, and a little hand
Stole into his, and warm lips timidly
Brushed his pale cheeks, and breathed their secret forth into a sigh.
Then turned he round his weary eyes and saw,
And ever nigher still their faces came,
And nigher ever did their young mouths draw
Until they seemed one perfect rose of flame,
And longing arms around her neck he cast,
And felt her throbbing bosom, and his breath came hot and fast,
And all his hoarded sweets were hers to kiss,
And all her maidenhood was his to slay,
And limb to limb in long and rapturous bliss
Their passion waxed and waned,--O why essay
To pipe again of love too venturous reed!
Enough, enough that Erôs laughed upon that flowerless mead.
Too venturous poesy O why essay
To pipe again of passion! fold thy wings
O'er daring Icarus and bid thy lay
Sleep hidden in the lyre's silent strings,
Till thou hast found the old Castalian rill,
Or from the Lesbian waters plucked drowned Sappho's golden quill!
Enough, enough that he whose life had been
A fiery pulse of sin, a splendid shame,
Could in the loveless land of Hades glean
One scorching harvest from those fields of flame
Where passion walks with naked unshod feet
And is not wounded,--ah! enough that once their lips could meet
In that wild throb when all existences
Seem narrowed to one single ecstasy
Which dies through its own sweetness and the stress
Of too much pleasure, ere Persephone
Had bade them serve her by the ebon throne
Of the pale God who in the fields of Enna loosed her zone.
by Oscar Wilde.