An Everywhere Of Silver
An everywhere of silver,
With ropes of sand
To keep it from effacing
The track called land.
by Emily Dickinson.
The Silver Moon
The silver moon is set;
The Pleiades are gone;
Half the long night is spent, and yet
I lie alone.
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.
On Silver Nights
On silver nights I cannot sleep;-
The ancient moon from far above,
Bids me arise, and run and keep
A rendezvous with one I love.
And in my heart a little song
Swings to and fro its clear refrain,
While down the stairs I haste along
As though the past were mine again.
Then is my spirit so beguiled
By all the night's white witchery,
That I am kin to all things wild,
And part of all things that are free!-
Then he comes back,-who long ago
Left these green paths his steps had trod;
Yes-he comes back,-I know!-I know!-
Light-footed from the fields of God.
So through the garden and the lane,
And where the lovely grass is deep,
We two go walking once again,-
On silver nights, that banish sleep.
by Virna Sheard.
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!
The Silver Box
Old tales of valour fire our blood
But this, the bravest deed I know
Is written of our modern times,
No myth of long ago.
It was a convent grim and grey,
Whose vine-clad balconies looked down
On stately old Colonial homes
Of a fair Southern town.
And daughters of those grand old homes
Dwelt, humble Nuns, within its shade,
Serving their Lord with zealous hearts,
Joyous and unafraid.
From the dear Rectress, staid and old
To the small novice whose sweet eyes
Held the soft blue of Mary’s cloak
Or flowers of Paradise.
Peaceful and holy ran their lives
Hallowed by sacrifice and prayer,
Until one summer day did come
A fateful message there.
A letter from a brave young Priest,
The Rectress’ nephew, who, long while
Had toiled alone ‘mid leper folk
In a West Indian Isle.
The horrors of that festering hell
He told Ah! There were women there
Deep sunk in suffering and in sin
Who needed women’s care.
The good Nun read with blanching face,
And well her wisdom could divine
The cry for help he dared not ask
The breathed in every line.
She could not bid her daughters loved
Such awful sacrifice to make;
But should one feel impelled to give
Her life, for Jesus sake,
“I’ll place.” She said. “this silver box,
Before the chapel alter where
Such one may place her name therein
In quiet and secret there.”
The convent was a silent place
For all that long, long summer day,
Though in the garden old, the bees
Hummed round nasturtiums gay.
But tasks were done and prayers were said
In thoughtful silence, faithfully
The merry little novice e’en,
Went slowly and solemnly.
A thing of fate, the little box
Lay bright upon the alter stair,
The silver lamp before Our Lord
Shone on it sparkling there.
Next morn they waited after Mass
To hear the chaplain grave proclaim
On opening the casket there
If it held any name.
And in the rear a little group
Off anxious fathers, mothers pale,
Who knew the story of the box
Waited to hear the tale.
Oh! Wondrous faith of Peter’s fold
That can such fruitage bear-
The little box was very full
No name was missing there.
From the dear Rectress staid and old
To the small novice, who bright eyes
Mirrored the blue of Mary’s cloak
Of flowers of Paradise.
To Music (À La Musique)
On the square which is chopped into mean little plots of grass,
The square where all is just so, both the trees and the flowers,
All the wheezy townsfolk whom the heat chokes bring
Each Thursday evening, their envious silliness.
- The military band, in the middle of the gardens,
Swing their shakos in the Waltz of the Fifes :
Round about, near the front rows, the town dandy struts ;
- The notary hangs like a charm from his own watch chain.
Private incomes in pince-nez point out all false notes :
Great counting-house desks, bloated, drag their stout spouses
Close by whom, like bustling elephant keepers,
Walk females whose flounces remind you of sales ;
On the green benches, retired grocers' clubs,
Poking the sand with their knobbed walking canes,
Gravely discuss trade agreements,
And then take snuff from silver boxes, and resume : 'In short !…'
Spreading over his bench all the fat of his rump,
A pale-buttoned burgher, a Flemish corporation,
Savours his Onnaing, whence shreds of tobacco hang loose
You realize, it's smuggled, of course ;-
Along the grass borders yobs laugh in derision ;
And, melting to love at the sound of trombones,
Very simple, and sucking at roses, the little foot-soldiers
Fondle the babies to get round their nurses..
- As for me, I follow, dishevelled like a student,
Under the green chestnuts, the lively young girls :
Which they know very well, and they turn to me,
Laughing, eyes which are full of indiscreet things.
I don't say a word : I just keep on looking at
The skin of their white necks embroidered with stray locks :
I go hunting, beneath bodices and thin attire,
The divine back below the curve of the shoulders.
Soon I've discovered the boot and the stocking…
- I re-create their bodies, burning with fine fevers.
They find me absurd, and talk together in low voices…
- And my savage desires fasten on to their lips…
À la Musique.
Sur la place taillée en mesquines pelouses,
Square où tout est correct, les arbres et les fleurs,
Tous les bourgeois poussifs qu'étranglent les chaleurs
Portent, les jeudis soirs, leurs bêtises jalouses
- L'orchestre militaire, au milieu du jardin,
Balance ses schakos dans la Valse des fifres :
- Autour, aux premiers rangs, parade le gandin ;
Le notaire pend à ses breloques à chiffres
Des rentiers à lorgnons soulignent tous les couacs :
Les gros bureaux bouffis traînent leurs grosses dames
Auprès desquelles vont, officieux cornacs,
Celles dont les volants ont des airs de réclames ;
Sur les bancs verts, des clubs d'épiciers retraités
Qui tisonnent le sable avec leur canne à pomme,
Fort sérieusement discutent les traités,
Puis prisent en argent, et reprennent : 'En somme !...'
Épatant sur son banc les rondeurs de ses reins,
Un bourgeois à boutons clairs, bedaine flamande,
Savoure son onnaing d'où le tabac par brins
Déborde - vous savez, c'est de la contrebande ; -
Le long des gazons verts ricanent les voyous ;
Et rendus amoureux par le chant des trombones,
Très naïfs, et fumant des roses, les pioupious
Caressent les bébés pour enjôler les bonnes..
- Moi, je suis, débraillé comme un étudiant
Sous les marronniers verts les alertes fillettes :
Elles le savent bien ; et tournent en riant,
Vers moi, leurs yeux tout pleins de choses indiscrètes
Je ne dit pas un mot : je regarde toujours
La chair de leurs cous blancs brodés de mèches folles :
Je suis, sous le corsage et les frêles atours,
Le dos divin après la courbe des épaules
J'ai bientôt déniché la bottine, le bas...
- Je reconstruis les corps, brûlé de belles fièvres.
Elles me trouvent drôle et se parlent tout bas...
- Et mes désirs brutaux s'accrochent à leurs lèvres...
by Arthur Rimbaud.
Jerusalem Delivered - Book 03 - Part 03
The villain flies, he, full of rage and ire,
Pursues, she stood and wondered on them both,
But yet to follow them showed no desire,
To stray so far she would perchance be loth,
But quickly turned her, fierce as flaming fire,
And on her foes wreaked her anger wroth,
On every side she kills them down amain,
And now she flies, and now she turns again.
As the swift ure by Volga's rolling flood
Chased through the plains the mastiff curs toforn,
Flies to the succor of some neighbor wood,
And often turns again his dreadful horn
Against the dogs imbrued in sweat and blood,
That bite not, till the beast to flight return;
Or as the Moors at their strange tennice run,
Defenced, the flying balls unhurt to shun:
So ran Clorinda, so her foes pursued,
Until they both approached the city's wall,
When lo! the Pagans their fierce wrath renewed,
Cast in a ring about they wheeled all,
And 'gainst the Christians' backs and sides they showed
Their courage fierce, and to new combat fall,
When down the hill Argantes came to fight,
Like angry Mars to aid the Trojan knight.
Furious, tofore the foremost of his rank,
In sturdy steel forth stept the warrior bold,
The first he smote down from his saddle sank,
The next under his steel lay on the mould,
Under the Saracen's spear the worthies shrank,
No breastplate could that cursed tree outhold,
When that was broke his precious sword he drew,
And whom he hit, he felled, hurt, or slew.
Clorinda slew Ardelio; aged knight,
Whose graver years would for no labor yield,
His age was full of puissance and might
Two sons he had to guard his noble eild,
The first, far from his father's care and sight,
Called Alicandro wounded lay in field,
And Poliphern the younger, by his side,
Had he not nobly fought had surely died.
Tancred by this, that strove to overtake
The villain that had hurt his only dear,
From vain pursuit at last returned back,
And his brave troop discomfit saw well near,
Thither he spurred, and gan huge slaughter make,
His shock no steed, his blow no knight could bear,
For dead he strikes him whom he lights upon,
So thunders break high trees on Lebanon.
Dudon his squadron of adventurers brings,
To aid the worthy and his tired crew,
Before the residue young Rinaldo flings
As swift as fiery lightning kindled new,
His argent eagle with her silver wings
In field of azure, fair Erminia knew,
"See there, sir King," she says, "a knight as bold
And brave, as was the son of Peleus old.
"He wins the prize in joust and tournament,
His acts are numberless, though few his years,
If Europe six likes him to war had sent
Among these thousand strong of Christian peers,
Syria were lost, lost were the Orient,
And all the lands the Southern Ocean wears,
Conquered were all hot Afric's tawny kings,
And all that dwells by Nilus' unknown springs.
"Rinaldo is his name, his armed fist
Breaks down stone walls, when rams and engines fail,
But turn your eyes because I would you wist
What lord that is in green and golden mail,
Dudon he hight who guideth as him list
The adventurers' troop whose prowess seld doth fail,
High birth, grave years, and practise long in war,
And fearless heart, make him renowned far.
"See that big man that all in brown is bound,
Gernando called, the King of Norway's son,
A prouder knight treads not on grass or ground,
His pride hath lost the praise his prowess won;
And that kind pair in white all armed round,
Is Edward and Gildippes, who begun
Through love the hazard of fierce war to prove,
Famous for arms, but famous more for love."
While thus they tell their foemen's worthiness,
The slaughter rageth in the plain at large.
Tancred and young Rinaldo break the press,
They bruise the helm, and press the sevenfold targe;
The troop by Dudon led performed no less,
But in they come and give a furious charge:
Argantes' self fell at one single blow,
Inglorious, bleeding lay, on earth full low:
Nor had the boaster ever risen more,
But that Rinaldo's horse e'en then down fell,
And with the fall his leg opprest so sore,
That for a space there must be algates dwell.
Meanwhile the Pagan troops were nigh forlore,
Swiftly they fled, glad they escaped so well,
Argantes and with him Clorinda stout,
For bank and bulwark served to save the rout.
These fled the last, and with their force sustained
The Christians' rage, that followed them so near;
Their scattered troops to safety well they trained,
And while the residue fled, the brunt these bear;
Dudon pursued the victory he gained,
And on Tigranes nobly broke his spear,
Then with his sword headless to ground him cast,
So gardeners branches lop that spring too fast.
Algazar's breastplate, of fine temper made,
Nor Corban's helmet, forged by magic art,
Could save their owners, for Lord Dudon's blade
Cleft Corban's head, and pierced Algazar's heart,
And their proud souls down to the infernal shade,
From Amurath and Mahomet depart;
Not strong Argantes thought his life was sure,
He could not safely fly, nor fight secure.
The angry Pagan bit his lips for teen,
He ran, he stayed, he fled, he turned again,
Until at last unmarked, unviewed, unseen,
When Dudon had Almansor newly slain,
Within his side he sheathed his weapon keen,
Down fell the worthy on the dusty plain,
And lifted up his feeble eyes uneath,
Opprest with leaden sleep, of iron death.
by Torquato Tasso.
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.