The Princes' Qust - Part The Fourth
That night he dreamed that over him there stole
A change miraculous, whereby his soul
Was parted from his body for a space,
And through a labyrinth of secret ways
Entered the world where dead men's ghosts abide
To seek the Seer who yestermorn had died.
And there in very truth he found the Seer,
Who gazing on him said, 'What would'st thou here,
O royal-born, who visitest the coasts
Of darkness, and the dwellings of the ghosts?'
Then said the Prince, 'I fain would know to find
The land as yet untrod of mortal-kind
Which I beheld by gracious leave of Sleep.'
To whom the Spirit: 'O Prince, the seas are deep
And very wide betwixt thee and that land,
And who shall say how many days do stand,
As dim-seen armed hosts between thy bliss
And thee?-Moreover, in the world there is
A certain Emerald Stone which some do call
The Emerald of the Virtues Mystical;
(Though what those Virtues Mystical may be
None living knows) and since, O youth, to me
Thou dost apply for counsel, be it known
Except thou have this wondrous emerald stone,
Go seek through all the world, thou shalt not find
The land thou wouldst: but like the houseless wind
That roams the world to seek a resting-place,
Thou through inhospitable time and space
Shalt roam, till time and space deliver thee,
To spaceless, timeless, mute eternity.
'For in a certain land there once did dwell
(How long ago it needs not I should tell)
At the king's court a great astrologer,
Ev'n such as erst was I, but mightier
And far excelling; and it came to pass
That he fell sick; and very old he was;
And knowing that his end was nigh, he said
To him that sat in sorrow by his bed,
'O master well-beloved and matchless king,
Take thou and keep this lowly offering
In memory of thy servant;' whereupon
The king perceived it was a gem that shone
Like the sea's heart: and on one side of it
This legend in an unknown tongue was writ-
Who holdeth Me may go where none hath fared
Before, and none shall follow afterward.
So the king took the bright green stone betwixt
His fingers, and upon the legend fixed
His eyes, and said unto the dying Seer,
'Now who shall render this dark scripture clear
That I may know the meaning of the gift?'
And the mage oped his mouth and strove to lift
His voice, but could not, for the wishèd word
Clave to his rattling throat, that no man heard:
Whereby the soul, departing, bore away
From all men living, even to this day,
The secret. And the jewel hath passed down
Seven times from sire to son, and in the crown
It shineth of that country's kings, being called
Ev'n to this day the mystic emerald;
But no man liveth in the world, of wit
To read the writing that is on it writ.'
'O Master,' said the Prince, 'and wilt not thou
Instruct me where to find the king who now
Weareth the jewel in his diadem?'
To whom the Spirit, 'O youth, and if the gem
Be worth the finding, is't not also worth
The little pain of seeking through the earth?-
Yet so thou may'st not wander witlessly,
Look thou forget not this I tell to thee:
When in thy journeyings thou shalt dream once more
The fateful dream thou haddest heretofore,
That filled thy veins with longing as with wine,
Till all thy being brimm'd over-by that sign
Thou mayest know thyself at last to be
Within the borders of his empery
Who hath the mystic emerald stone, whose gleam
Shall light thee to the country of thy dream.'
'But,' said the Prince, 'When all the world's highways
My feet have trod, till after length of days
I reach the land where lies the wondrous stone,
How shall I make so rare a, thing mine own?
For had I riches more than could be told,
What king would sell his jewels for my gold?'
And on this wise the answer of the Seer
Fell in the hollow of his dreaming ear:
'Behold this Iron Chain,-of power it is
To heal all manner of mortal maladies
In him that wears it round his neck but once,
Between the sun's downgoing and the sun's
Uprising: take it thou, and hold it fast
Until by seeking long thou find at last
The king that hath the mystic emerald stone:
And having found him, thou shalt e'en make known
The virtues lodged within this charmed chain:
Which when the king doth hear he will be fain
To have possession of so strange a thing;
And thou shalt make a bargain with the king
To give the Iron Chain in bartery
For that mysterious jewel whereof he
Knows not the secret worth. And when at last
The emerald stone in thy own hands thou hast,
Itself shall guide thee whither thou would'st go-
Ev'n to the land revealed of sleep, where no
Grief comes to mar their music, neither sound
Of sighing, while the golden years go round.'
So spake the Spirit unto him that dreamed,
And suddenly that world of shadow seemed
More shadowy; and all things began to blend
Together: and the dream was at an end.
Then slept the Prince a deep sweet sleep that knew
Nor dream nor vision; till the dawnlight grew
Up, and his soul a sudden halt did make
About the confines dim of sleep and wake,
Where wandering lights and wildered shadows meet.
But presently uprising to his feet
From tarriance in that frontier-region dim,
Exceeding wonderment laid hold on him;
For even while from off his bed he rose,
He heard a clinking as of metal, close
Thereby, and could in no-wise understand:
And lo the Iron Chain was in his hand!
The old rude church, with bare, bald tower, is here;
Beneath its shadow high-born Rotha flows;
Rotha, remembering well who slumbers near,
And with cool murmur lulling his repose
Rotha, remembering well who slumbers near.
His hills, his lakes, his streams are with him yet.
Surely the heart that read her own heart clear
Nature forgets not soon: 'tis we forget.
We that with vagrant soul his fixity
Have slighted; faithless, done his deep faith wrong;
Left him for poorer loves, and bowed the knee
To misbegotten strange new gods of song.
Yet, led by hollow ghost or beckoning elf
Far from her homestead to the desert bourn,
The vagrant soul returning to herself
Wearily wise, must needs to him return.
To him and to the powers that with him dwell:--
Inflowings that divulged not whence they came;
And that secluded spirit unknowable,
The mystery we make darker with a name;
The Somewhat which we name but cannot know,
Ev'n as we name a star and only see
His quenchless flashings forth, which ever show
And ever hide him, and which are not he.
Poet who sleepest by this wandering wave!
When thou wast born, what birth-gift hadst thou then?
To thee what wealth was that the Immortals gave,
The wealth thou gavest in thy turn to men?
Not Milton's keen, translunar music thine;
Not Shakespeare's cloudless, boundless human view;
Not Shelley's flush of rose on peaks divine;
Nor yet the wizard twilight Coleridge knew.
What hadst thou that could make so large amends
For all thou hadst not and thy peers possessed,
Motion and fire, swift means to radiant ends?--
Thou hadst, for weary feet, the gift of rest.
From Shelley's dazzling glow or thunderous haze,
From Byron's tempest-anger, tempest-mirth,
Men turned to thee and found--not blast and blaze,
Tumult of tottering heavens, but peace on earth,
Nor peace that grows by Lethe, scentless flower,
There in white languors to decline and cease;
But peace whose names are also rapture, power,
Clear sight, and love: for these are parts of peace.
I hear it vouched the Muse is with us still;--
If less divinely frenzied than of yore,
In lieu of feelings she has wondrous skill
To simulate emotion felt no more.
Not such the authentic Presence pure, that made
This valley vocal in the great days gone!--
In _his_ great days, while yet the spring-time played
About him, and the mighty morning shone.
No word-mosaic artificer, he sang
A lofty song of lowly weal and dole.
Right from the heart, right to the heart it sprang,
Or from the soul leapt instant to the soul.
He felt the charm of childhood, grace of youth,
Grandeur of age, insisting to be sung.
The impassioned argument was simple truth
Half-wondering at its own melodious tongue.
Impassioned? ay, to the song's ecstatic core!
But far removed were clangour, storm and feud;
For plenteous health was his, exceeding store
Of joy, and an impassioned quietude.
A hundred years ere he to manhood came,
Song from celestial heights had wandered down,
Put off her robe of sunlight, dew and flame,
And donned a modish dress to charm the Town.
Thenceforth she but festooned the porch of things;
Apt at life's lore, incurious what life meant.
Dextrous of hand, she struck her lute's few strings;
Ignobly perfect, barrenly content.
Unflushed with ardour and unblanched with awe,
Her lips in profitless derision curled,
She saw with dull emotion--if she saw--
The vision of the glory of the world.
The human masque she watched, with dreamless eyes
In whose clear shallows lurked no trembling shade:
The stars, unkenned by her, might set and rise,
Unmarked by her, the daisies bloom and fade.
The age grew sated with her sterile wit.
Herself waxed weary on her loveless throne.
Men felt life's tide, the sweep and surge of it,
And craved a living voice, a natural tone.
For none the less, though song was but half true,
The world lay common, one abounding theme.
Man joyed and wept, and fate was ever new,
And love was sweet, life real, death no dream.
In sad stern verse the rugged scholar-sage
Bemoaned his toil unvalued, youth uncheered.
His numbers wore the vesture of the age,
But, 'neath it beating, the great heart was heard.
From dewy pastures, uplands sweet with thyme,
A virgin breeze freshened the jaded day.
It wafted Collins' lonely vesper-chime,
It breathed abroad the frugal note of Gray.
It fluttered here and there, nor swept in vain
The dusty haunts where futile echoes dwell,--
Then, in a cadence soft as summer rain,
And sad from Auburn voiceless, drooped and fell.
It drooped and fell, and one 'neath northern skies,
With southern heart, who tilled his father's field,
Found Poesy a-dying, bade her rise
And touch quick nature's hem and go forth healed.
On life's broad plain the ploughman's conquering share
Upturned the fallow lands of truth anew,
And o'er the formal garden's trim parterre
The peasant's team a ruthless furrow drew.
Bright was his going forth, but clouds ere long
Whelmed him; in gloom his radiance set, and those
Twin morning stars of the new century's song,
Those morning stars that sang together, rose.
In elvish speech the _Dreamer_ told his tale
Of marvellous oceans swept by fateful wings.--
The _Seër_ strayed not from earth's human pale,
But the mysterious face of common things
He mirrored as the moon in Rydal Mere
Is mirrored, when the breathless night hangs blue:
Strangely remote she seems and wondrous near,
And by some nameless difference born anew.
Peace--peace--and rest! Ah, how the lyre is loth,
Or powerless now, to give what all men seek!
Either it deadens with ignoble sloth
Or deafens with shrill tumult, loudly weak.
Where is the singer whose large notes and clear
Can heal and arm and plenish and sustain?
Lo, one with empty music floods the ear,
And one, the heart refreshing, tires the brain.
And idly tuneful, the loquacious throng
Flutter and twitter, prodigal of time,
And little masters make a toy of song
Till grave men weary of the sound of rhyme.
And some go prankt in faded antique dress,
Abhorring to be hale and glad and free;
And some parade a conscious naturalness,
The scholar's not the child's simplicity.
Enough;--and wisest who from words forbear.
The kindly river rails not as it glides;
And suave and charitable, the winning air
Chides not at all, or only him who chides.
Nature! we storm thine ear with choric notes.
Thou answerest through the calm great nights and days,
'Laud me who will: not tuneless are your throats;
Yet if ye paused I should not miss the praise.'
We falter, half-rebuked, and sing again.
We chant thy desertness and haggard gloom,
Or with thy splendid wrath inflate the strain,
Or touch it with thy colour and perfume.
One, his melodious blood aflame for thee,
Wooed with fierce lust, his hot heart world-defiled.
One, with the upward eye of infancy,
Looked in thy face, and felt himself thy child.
Thee he approached without distrust or dread--
Beheld thee throned, an awful queen, above--
Climbed to thy lap and merely laid his head
Against thy warm wild heart of mother-love.
He heard that vast heart beating--thou didst press
Thy child so close, and lov'dst him unaware.
Thy beauty gladdened him; yet he scarce less
Had loved thee, had he never found thee fair!
For thou wast not as legendary lands
To which with curious eyes and ears we roam.
Nor wast thou as a fane mid solemn sands,
Where palmers halt at evening. Thou wast home.
And here, at home, still bides he; but he sleeps;
Not to be wakened even at thy word;
Though we, vague dreamers, dream he somewhere keeps
An ear still open to thy voice still heard,--
Thy voice, as heretofore, about him blown,
For ever blown about his silence now;
Thy voice, though deeper, yet so like his own
That almost, when he sang, we deemed 'twas thou!
Behind Helm Crag and Silver Howe the sheen
Of the retreating day is less and less.
Soon will the lordlier summits, here unseen,
Gather the night about their nakedness.
The half-heard bleat of sheep comes from the hill,
Faint sounds of childish play are in the air.
The river murmurs past. All else is still.
The very graves seem stiller than they were.
Afar though nation be on nation hurled,
And life with toil and ancient pain depressed,
Here one may scarce believe the whole wide world
Is not at peace, and all man's heart at rest.
Rest! 'twas the gift _he_ gave; and peace! the shade
_He_ spread, for spirits fevered with the sun.
To him his bounties are come back--here laid
In rest, in peace, his labour nobly done.
The Princes' Ques -Part The Eighth
Now as it chanced, the day was almost spent
When down the lonely mountain-side he went,
The whitehaired man, the Prince that was; and ere
He won the silence of the valley where
The city's many towers uprose, the gate
Was closed against him, for the hour was late.
So even as they that have not wherewithal
To roof them from the rain if it should fall,
Upon the grassy ground this king's son lay,
And slept till nigh the coming of the day.
But while as any vagabond he slept
Or outcast from the homes of men, there crept
Unto him lying in such sorry sort
A something fairer than the kingliest court
In all the peopled world had witness of-
Even the shadow of the throne of Love,
That from a height beyond all height did creep
Along the pavement of the halls of sleep.
O fair and wonderful! that shadow was
The golden dream of dreams that came across
His youth, full half an hundred years before,
And sent him wandering through the world. Once more
In a lone boat that sails and oars had none,
Midmost a land of summer and the sun
Where nothing was that was not fair to see,
Adown a gliding river glided he,
And saw the city that was built thereby,
And saw the chariot of the queen draw nigh,
And gazed upon her in the goodly street;
Whereat he waked and rose upon his feet,
Remembering the Vision of the Seer,
And what the spirit spake unto his ear:
'When in thy wanderings thou shalt dream once more
The fateful dream thou haddest heretofore,
That filled thy veins with longing as with wine
Till all thy being brimm'd over-by that sign
Thou mayest know thyself at last to be
Within the borders of his empery
Who hath the mystic emerald stone, whose gleam
Shall light thee to the country of thy dream.'
Then rose the heart within his heart and said:
'O bitter scornful Fate, in days long dead
I asked and thou denied'st mine asking: now
The boon can no-wise profit me, and thou
Dost mock me with bestowal!' Thereupon
He fell to thinking of his youthhood gone,
And wept. For now the goal, the longtime-sought,
Was even at hand, 'but how shall I,' he thought,
'I that am old and sad and hoary-haired,
Enter the place for youth and love prepared?
For in my veins the wellspring of desire
Hath failed, and in mine heart the golden fire
Burneth no more for ever. I draw near
The night that is about our day, and hear
The sighing of the darkness as I go
Whose ancient secret there is none doth know.'
Ev'n so to his own heart he spake full sad,
And many and bitter were the thoughts he had
Of days that were and days that were to be.
But now the East was big with dawn, and he
Drew nigh the city-gates and entered in,
Ere yet the place remurmured with the din
Of voices and the tread of human feet;
And going up the void and silent street,
All in the chill gleam of the new-lit air,
A Thought found way into his soul, and there
Abode and grew, and in brief while became
Desire, and quickened to a quenchless flame:
And holding converse with himself, he said,
'Though in my heart the heart's desire be dead,
And can no more these time-stilled pulses move;
Though Death were lovelier to these eyes than Love
Yet would these eyes behold, or ere I pass,
The land that mirror'd lay as in a glass
In the deep wells of dream. And her that is
The sunlight of that city of all bliss,
Her would I fain see once with waking eyes
Whom sleep hath rendered unto vision twice.
And having seen her beauty I would go
My way, even to the river which doth flow
From daylight unto darkness and the place
Of silence, where the ghosts are face to face.'
So mused the man, and evermore his thought
Gave him no peace. Wherefore next morn he sought
The palace of the king, but on his way
Tarried till nigh the middle of the day
In talk with certain of the city-folk;
Whereby he learned, if that were true they spoke,
How that the king their lord was nigh distract
With torture of a strange disease that racked
Each day his anguished body more and more,
Setting at naught the leeches and their lore.
Which having heard he went before the king,
Who sat upon his throne, delivering
Judgment, his body pierced the while with pain.
And taking from his neck the charmèd chain
Which he had borne about him ever since
That morn miraculous, the unknown Prince
Upspake and said, 'O king, I hold within
My hand a wonder-working medicine
Of power to make thee whole if thou wilt deign
So to be healèd;' and he held the chain
Aloft, and straightway told unto the king
The passing worth and wonder of the thing.
Then he that heard stretched forth a hand that shook
With sudden fever of half-hope, and took
The chain, and turned it over in his hand
Until his eyes had left no link unscanned.
And on each separate link was character'd
A language that no living ear had heard,
Occult, of secret import, mystic, strange.
Then said the king, 'What would'st thou in exchange
For this the magic metal thou dost bring?'
And the Prince answered him and said, 'O king,
Even the emerald stone which some do call
The Emerald of the Virtues Mystical.'
And they who thronged the hall of judgment were
Astonished at the stranger who could dare
Ask such a boon; and some base mouths did curl
With sneers, churl whispering to his fellow churl,
'Who could have deemed the man so covetous,
So void of shame in his great greed?' For thus
It shall be ever underneath the sun,
Each man believing that high hearts are none
Whose own is as the dust he treads on low.
But the king answered saying, 'Be it so.
To-night this chain of iron shall be worn
About my neck, and on the morrow-morn,
If all the pain have left these limbs of mine,
The guerdon thou demandest shall be thine.
But if this torment still tormenteth me,
Thy head and shoulders shall part company,
And both be cast uncoffin'd to the worms.
Open thy mouth and answer if these terms
Content thee.' And aloud the Prince replied,
'With these conditions I am satisfied:'
Whereafter, rising from his knees, he went
Out from before the king, and was content.
Next morning, when the king awoke, I wis
No heart was lighter in the land than his;
For all the grievous burden of his pains
Had fall'n from off his limbs, and in his veins
Upleapt the glad new life, and the sick soul
Seemed like its body all at once made whole.
But hardly was the king uprisen before
There knock'd and entered at the chamber-door
His chief physician (a right skilful leech,
But given to hollow trickeries of speech,
And artful ways and wiles) who said, 'O king,
Be not deceived, I pray thee. One good thing
Comes of another, like from like. The weed
Beareth not lilies, neither do apes breed
Antelopes. Thou art healed of thy pain
Not by the wearing of an iron chain-
An iron chain forsooth!'-(hereat he laughed
As 'twere a huge rare jest) 'but by the draught
Which I prepared for thee with mine own hands
From certain precious simples grown in lands
It irks me tell how many leagues away:
Which medicine thou tookest yesterday.'
Then said the king, 'O false and jealous man,
Who lovest better thine own praises than
Thy master's welfare! Little 'tis to such
As thou, that I should be made whole; but much
That men should go before thee, trumpeting
''Behold the man that cured our lord the king.''
And he was sore displeased and in no mood
To hearken. But the chief physician stood
Unmoved amid this hail of kingly scorn,
With meek face martyr-like, as who hath borne
Much in the name of Truth, and much can bear.
And from the mouth of him false words and fair
So cunningly flowed that in a little while
The royal frown became a royal smile,
And the king hearkened to the leech and was
Persuaded. So that morn it came to pass
That when the Prince appeared before the throne
To claim his rightful meed, the emerald stone,
The king denied his title to receive
The jewel, saying, 'Think'st thou I believe
Yon jingling chain hath healed my body? Nay;
For whatsoever such as thou may say
I am not found so easy to beguile:
As for the gem thou wouldest, this good while
It hath adorned the crown I wear, nor shall
The stone be parted from the coronal.'
Scarce had the false king spoken when behold
Through the high ceiling's goodly fretted gold
A sudden shaft of lightning downward sped
And smote the golden crown upon his head,
Yea, melted ev'n as wax the golden crown.
And from the molten metal there fell down
A grassgreen Splendour, and the Emerald Stone
Tumbled from step to step before the throne,
And lay all moveless at the Prince's feet!
And the king sat upon his royal seat
A dead king, marble-mute: but no man stirred
Or spake: and only silence might be heard.
Then he before whose feet the gem did lie
Said not a word to any man thereby,
But stooped and lifted it from off the floor,
And passing outward from the open door
Put the mysterious jewel in his breast
And went his way, none daring to molest
The stranger. For the whisper rose and ran,
'Is not the lightning leaguèd with this man?'
The Princes Quest - Part The Sixth
Even as one voice the great sea sang. From out
The green heart of the waters round about,
Welled as a bubbling fountain silverly
The overflowing song of the great sea;
Until the Prince, by dint of listening long,
Divined the purport of that mystic song;
(For so do all things breathe articulate breath
Into his ears who rightly harkeneth)
And, if indeed he heard that harmony
Aright, in this wise came the song of the sea:
'Behold all ye that stricken of love do lie,
Wherefore in manacles of a maiden's eye
Lead ye the life of bondmen and of slaves?
Lo in the caverns and the depths of Me
A thousand mermaids dwell beneath the waves:
A thousand maidens meet for love have I,
Ev'n I the virgin-hearted cold chaste sea.
Behold all ye that weary of life do lie,
There is no rest at all beneath the sky
Save in the nethermost deepness of the deep.
Only the silence and the midst of Me
Can still the sleepless soul that fain would sleep;
For such, a cool death and a sweet have I,
Ev'n I the crystal-hearted cool sweet sea.
Behold all ye that in my lap do lie,
To love is sweet and sweeter still to die,
And woe to him that laugheth me to scorn!
Lo in a little while the anger of Me
Shall make him mourn the day that he was born:
For in mine hour of wrath no ruth have I,
Ev'n I the tempest-hearted pitiless sea.'
So sang the waters, if indeed 'twere they
That sang unto the Prince's ears that day,
Since in the ship was not a soul besides
Could hear that burden of the voiceful tides;
For when he told the sailors of this thing,
And ev'n what words the waters seemed to sing,
They stared astonishment, and some, that had
More churlish souls than others, held him mad,
And laughed before his face outright. But when
The captain heard the gossip of his men
Touching this marvel, the strange news begot
No merry mood in him, who wist not what
Should be the meaning of the miracle,
Nor whether 'twere an omen good or ill.
Wherefore the old seafarer-having heard
The tale retold with many an afterword
The mariners' own most fruitful wit supplied
To grace the telling-took the Prince aside,
And ask'd him sundry questions privily
Concerning this same singing of the sea.
So the Prince told him all there was to tell,
And when that he had heard, the old man fell
To meditating much, and shook his head
As one exceeding ill at ease, and said,
'I doubt the singing thou hast heard was no
Voice of the waters billowing below,
But rather of some evil spirit near,
Who sought with singing to beguile thine ear,
Spreading a snare to catch the soul of thee
In meshes of entangling melody,
Which taketh captive the weak minds of men.
Therefore if thou should'st hear the sound again,
Look thou content thee not with hearkening,
But cast thine eyes around, and mark what thing
Thou seëst, and let no man know but me.'
So spake the white-haired wanderer of the sea.
And on the morrow-when the sealine grew
O'erhazed with visible heat, and no wind blew,
And the half-stifled morning dropt aswoon
Into the panting bosom of the noon-
There came into the Prince's ears anew
The song that yestermorn had hearkened to.
And lifting up his eyes in hope to see
What lips they were that made such melody
And filled him with the fulness of their sound,
He saw the sun at highest of his round
Show as a shield with one dark bloodstain blurred,
By reason of the body of some great bird
Like to an eagle, with wide wings outspread,
Athwart the sunfire hovering duskly red.
So to the master of the ship he told
What he had witnessed, bidding him behold
The marvel with his own eyes if he would;
Who, though he strained his vision all he could,
Yet might not once endure to look the sun
I' the face; and calling to him one by one
The whole ship's crew, he bade each mariner look
Sunward who could, but no man's eyes might brook
The glare upon them of the noontide rays
And lidless fervour of that golden gaze:
So none of them beheld the bodeful bird.
Then said the greybeard captain, hardly heard
Amid the babble of voices great and small,
'The bird thou seëst is no bird at all,
But some unholy spirit in guise of one;
And I do fear that we are all undone
If any amongst us hearken to its voice;-
For of its mouth, I doubt not, was the noise
Thou heardest as of dulcet carolling,
When at thine ear the waters seemed to sing.'
And truly, many a wiser man than he
Herein had farther strayed from verity;
For that great bird that seemed to fan the sun's
Face with its wings was even the same as once
Flew screaming westward o'er the Prince's head,
Beguiling him to follow where it fled.
And bird it was not, but a spirit of ill,
Man-hating, and of mankind hated still,
And slave to one yet mightier demon-sprite
Whose dwelling is the shadow of the night.
So the days passed, and always on the next
The bird-sprite like a baleful vision vexed
The happy-hearted sunlight; and each time
Its false sweet song was wedded to the rhyme
And chime of wind and wave-although it dropped
As honey changed to music-the Prince stopped
His ears, and would not hear; and so the Sprite,
Seeing his charmèd songcraft of no might
Him to ensnare who hearkened not at all,
On the tenth day with dreadful noise let fall
A tempest shaken from the wings of him,
Whereat the eyes of heaven wox thunderous-dim,
Till the day-darkness blinded them, and fell
Holding the world in night unseasonable.
And from his beakèd mouth the demon blew
A breath as of a hundred winds, and flew
Downward aswoop upon the labouring bark,
And, covered of the blear untimely Dark,
Clutch'd with his gripple claws the Prince his prey,
And backward through the tempest soared away,
Bearing that royal burden; and his eyes
Were wandering wells of lightning to the skies.
Long time the Prince was held in swound, and knew
Nor outer world nor inner, as they flew
From darkness unto darkness; till at last-
The fierce flight over, and his body cast
Somewhere alone in a strange place-the life
Stirred in him faintly, as at feeble strife
With covetous Death for ownership of him.
And 'fore his eyes the world began to swim
All vague, and doubtful as a dream that lies
Folded within another, petal-wise.
And therewithal himself but half believed
His own eyes' testimony, and perceived
The things that were about him as who hears
A distant music throbbing toward his ears
At noontide, in a flowery hollow of June,
And listens till he knows not if the tune
And he be one or twain, or near or far,
But only feels that sound and perfume are,
And tremulous light and leafy umbrage: so
The Prince beheld unknowing, nor fain to know.
About him was a ruinous fair place,
Which Time, who still delighteth to abase
The highest, and throw down what men do build,
With splendid prideful barrenness had filled,
And dust of immemorial dreams, and breath
Of silence, which is next of kin to death.
A weedy wilderness it seemed, that was
In days forepast a garden, but the grass
Grew now where once the flowers, and hard by
A many-throated fountain had run dry
Which erst all day a web of rainbows wove
Out of the body of the sun its love.
And but a furlong's space beyond, there towered
In middest of that silent realm deflowered
A palace builded of black marble, whence
The shadow of a swart magnificence
Falling, upon the outer space begot
A dream of darkness when the night was not.
Which while the Prince beheld, a wonderment
Laid hold upon him, that he rose and went
Toward the palace-portico apace,
Thinking to read the riddle of the place.
And entering in (for open was the door)
From hall to hall he passed, from floor to floor,
Through all the spacious house, and (saving where
The subtile spider had his darksome lair)
No living creature could he find in it.
Howbeit, by certain writing that was writ
Upon the wall of one dark room and bare,
He guessed that some great sorcerer had there
Inhabited, a slave to his own lust
Of evil power and knowledge, till the dust
Received his dust, and darkness had his soul;
But ere death took him he had willed the whole
Of his possessions to a Spirit of Ill,
His sometime mate in commerce damnable,
Making him lord of that high house, wherein
The twain had sealed their covenant of sin.
With that a horror smote the Prince, and fain
Would he have fled that evil spirit's domain
And shook its dust from off his feet that hour.
But from a window of the topmost tower
Viewing the dim-leaved wilderness without,
Full plainly he perceived it hemmed about
With waves, an island of the middle sea,
In watery barriers bound insuperably;
And human habitation saw he none,
Nor heard one bird a-singing in the sun
To lighten the intolerable stress
Of utter undisputed silentness.
So by these signs he knew himself the thrall
Of that foul spirit unseen, and therewithal
Wholly unfellowed in captivity,
Bound round with fetters of the tyrannous sea.
And sick for very loneliness, he passed
Downward through galleries and chambers vast
To one wide hall wherefrom a vestibule
Opened into a dim green space and cool,
Where great trees grew that various fruitage bore
The like whereof he had not seen before,
And hard by was a well of water sweet;
And being anhungered he did pluck and eat
The strange fair fruit, and being athirst did drink
The water, and lay down beside the brink;
Till sleep, as one that droppeth from the skies,
Dropt down, and made a mist about his eyes.