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THE CASTLE IN THE AIR.
BY R. H. STODDARD.
(See also Engraving on the first page.)
"I'faith, this world of ours is a brave world,
We have two lives about us.
Within os, and without us ;—
A world of daily toiling.
Our spirits' pinions soiling.
And brighter worlds apart
My Castle stands alone,
Away from Earth and Time,
In Fancy's tropic zone,
Beneath its summer skies, Where all the live-long year, the summer never dies! A stately Palace built of marble white, Hewn from Pentelicus renowned of old; A pile of purcness interveincd with light, A peak of pearls with streams of jagged gold; The slender shafts , the delicate pillars rise From sculptured bases, fluted to the dome, Encrowned with wreathed frieses, carven nice, With pendent leaves, like fringy crests of foam; A thousand windows front the rising sun, Deep-set between the columns, many-pamnl, Tri-arched, emblazoned, gorgeously stained, All hues and colours blending into one, Flooding the corridors and courts below. Like rainbows shattered on a field of snow; A bordering gallery runs along the roof, Topt by a cupola, whose gilded spire, Piercing the shifting clouds' transparent woof, Shines like a spindle in the morning's loom of fire!:
What fine and rare domains
Unfold for leagues around;
Green parks, and meads, aud plains.
And quiet nooks and lanes,
And bosky woods profound, A realm of leafiness and sweet enchanted ground; Before the palace lies a shaven lawn. Sloping and shining in the dews of dawn,
With turfy terraces and garden plots, And rows of slender urns, and mossy pots, Laden with budding flowers, whose odours rise, And tempi the plundering bees and butterflies; Vistas of lofty, bough-inlacing trees, Wind-tossed and murmurous as the surfy seas, O'erarch the gravelled, winding avenues, Edged round with evergreens of fadeless bloom, Pouring a thousand intermingling hues, From Heaven's o'erflowing goblet through the leaves, A many-tinted flood of verdurous gloom; And fountains gush aloft, like silver sheaves, Drooping with shining ears, and plumes of spray, And foamy tassels blowing every way, Shaking in marble basins white and cold, A drainless shower of diamond-beaded grain, Which winnows off. in sun-illumined rain, The dusty chaff, a cloud of misty gold; And swans, superbly-nocked, in stately pride, Brushing with trailing waves the lilies white, Sail slowly up and down the plashy tide, Like peerless queens In beautiful disdain, Sweeping amid their maids with trains of light; And slim and graceful deer with startled looks, Beneath the mimic forest where they browse, il^ad-down are drinking at the lucid brooks, Their antlers mirrored with the swaying boughs; An obelisk enrailed upon a mound, In a green opening where the morning shines, And woodland deities are ranged around, In rural temples over flowery shrines; And here and there are seats with lattice backs Smiling in shadow, painted screens, and racks, And summer-houses wreathed with ivy twines, And trimmest arbours bent with hanging vines, Whose quivering leaves and clusters checker o'er The carven benches and the grassy floor; My rivers flow beyond, with guardant ranks tif silver-liveried poplars on their banks; Barges are fretting at the castle piers, Moving with every ripple in the tide, And bridges span the stream with arches wide, Their stony 'hutments mossed and gray with years; An undulating range of vales, and hills Tree-girt, and spots of meadow-land serene, Thick-starred with lushest blooms, and silver rills Stealing along through streaks of freshest green; Sweet lanes and pastures, swarded glades and bowers, And columned palaces and distant towers; And on the welkin mountains bar the view, Shooting their jagged peaks sublimely up the blue!
I saunter up the walks,
The great main avenue;
My sandals wetted through,
With dripping flowers and stalks,
(Roses, violets blue!) My brwidered mantle all bedabbled with the dew; I climb a flight of steps, in regal pride, And stroll along an echoing colonnade, Sweeping against its pillared balustrade, Adown « porch, and through a portal wide, And I am in my castle, Lord of all; My faithful groom is standing in the hall To doff my shining robe, and servitors And cringing chamberlains at open doors, Waving their gilded wands, obsequious wait, And bow me on my way, in royal pomp and state!
My chamber lies apart,
Are lavished with a wild and waste profusion there!
With all the knightly stars he won in ]
My gallery sleeps aloof, A dreamy little room. Dim-lighted through the roof, And bathed in pleasant gloom, Enshrining pictures old, And groups of statues cold, Of wealth immense, untold, The gems of art, when art was in her age of gold.
Helen and Paris on their bridal night,
Wild eyed, her raven tresses all unbound,
Andromache with all her tearful charms,
The towers of Iuon girt by warring hosts,
The giant Cyclops sitting in his cave,
Anacreon couch ant in the myrtle shades,
An Orient Sunrise on the sluggish Nile,
The Virgin Mother and the Holy Child,
A Summer Fete, a party on a lawn,
A bleak Depile, a pass In mountains deep,
A Harvest scene, a vineyard on the Rhine,
A Flemish Tavern, boors and burghers hale,
A picture of Cathat, ajustice scene,
And many more that Fancy fails to draw,
And statues of the Grecian gods divine,
My study walls are niched,
And full of busts sublime,
And cabinets enriched
With books from every clime, A harvesting of lore from out the fields of Time; I throw the portals wide and stand before A pyramid, where mighty souls are shrined, Embalmed for ages in their robes of mind, Thought-sceptered kings of earth for ever more; Here slumbers Homer, with his world-wide story, Simple in tongue and heart, a poet's glory; Euripides and JEschylus severe, Statues of Tragedy around her bier; And eager Pindar with his fiery soul, Hailing the chariots dashing to the goal; Theocritus with choicest pastorals, Mellifluous Virgil with his polished line, And grimmest Dante, scowling Florentine, And Tasso sighing o'er the Holy Walls; And here are hieroglyphics—crumbling rolls Of papyrus, discoloured vellum scrolls, Scribe-written tomes, and saintly manuscripts, From convent libraries and cloister crypts, And monkish missals with emblazoned stains, Like sunset clouds, enclasped with argent chains. The bards of Albion: Chaucer, blithe and gay, Fresh as the dewiest morning in the May; Spenser, and Shakespeare—nature's paragon, Her first, her last—she never had but one— The monarch of the realm of poesy, With colters overheaped with richest rimo, Exhaustless, Croesus of the world and Time, The heir of ages and Eternity; Majestie, sombre Milton, stern and strong, The vastest column in the halls of song; The twins, Beaumont and Fletcher, happy men, And laboured classic Jonson, rare old Ben; Dryden, and finished Pope, and solemn Young, And timid Cowper with his nameless woes; Impetuous Byron, with his passions stung To madness, warring with his petty foes; Wordsworth, and Coleridge, Shelley, martyred saint, Exuberant Hunt, and careless, boyish Keats, A prodigal almoner of luscious sweets, And Tennyson, delicious, fine, and quaint, The Priest of Luxury in her fane apart, Like a soft thought in Cytherca's heart; The bards of Atalantis—scanty band— Grave-thinking Bryant, still, and deep, and grand, The Nestor of our poets, gray and old, Horatian Holmes, and Whittier free and bold, And lol my friends, the gifted, gentle Three, The Doric Read, and tragic Boker sweet, And Bayard Taylor, fresh from Italie, Dear heart 1 the golden dust of travel on his feet I
Away with books, away—
I lee through open blinds
The Heaven's clouded tents,
I snuff the summer winds,
And smell the violet scents, And sink upon my couch in honied indolence; Brimming with Helicon I dash the cup; Why should I spend my years in hoarding up The learning of the past? let dust return To dust, my heart shall never be its urn; Why should I sip my wine from little flasks, Cobwebbed and dusted o'er, when nature yields, And earth is full of purpled vintage fields? Why strain at Beauty dimmed with mortal masks, When I at will may have them all withdrawn, And freely gaze on her transfigured face? Why limp in fetters in a weary race, When I may fly unbound like Mercury's fawn? Why be contented with the sweets of old, Albeit embalmed in nectar, when the trees, The Eden bowers, the rich Hesperides, Droop all around with living fruits of gold? Man's heart has many passions deep and strong, A thousand feathers in his spirits' wings, The love of woman, idleness, and song, Fortune, and fame, and all life's little things. It is enough for us to live and breathe, And feel our hearts at case, and think no more; The flowers that Nature binds, her simplest wreath, Is worth the proudest crown that Wisdom ever wore.
Oh 1 what a life is mine,
A life of glee and mirth,
The sensuous life of earth,
For ever fresh and fine, A heavenly worldliness, mortality divine I When Orient skies, the sea and misty plain, Illumined slowly, doff their nightly shrouds, And heaven's bright archer, morn, begins to rain His golden arrows through the banded clouds, I rise and tramp away the jocund hours, Knee-deep in dewy grass and beds of flowers; I race my eager greyhound on the hills, And climb with bounding feet the craggy steeps, Peak-lifted, gazing o'er the cloven deeps, Where mighty rivers shrink to threaded rills; The ramparts of the mountains loom around, Like splintery fragments of a ruined world, The cliff-bound, dashing cataracts, downward hurled In thunderous volumes shake the chasms profound; The imperial eagle, with a dauntless eye Wheels round the sun, the monarch of the sky; I pluck his eyrie in the blasted woods Of ragged pines, and when the vulture screams, I track his flight along the solitudes, Like some dark spirit in the w/irld of dreams; Sometimes I rove beside the lonely shore, Margined and flanked with slanting, shclvy ledges, Bastioned by grayest rocks with dripping edges, And caverns echoing Ocean's sullen roar, Threading the bladdery weeds and paven shells, Beyond the line of foam, the jewelled chain, Tho largesse of the ever-giving main, Tossed ut the feet of Earth with surgy swells; I plunge and grope the sand for lustrous pearls, To deck my ladye's zone and shining curls, And when my hands are full, I rise again, And strow them on the beach, and swim away, Breasting the billowyness of snowy spray; When noon in fiery armour, travel-spent, Glows through the curtains of his cloudy tent, I loose my little shallop from its pier, And down the winding river slowly float, Steering in coves where trees are mirrored clear, And birds are warbling with melodious throat;
I listen to the humming of the bees, The water's flow, the wind, the wavy trees, And then I take my lyre and touch the chords, And set the summer's melody to words, Chanting a quiet song, a florid lay, As rich and gorgeous as the pomp of Day I Sometimes I lounge in arbours, hung with vines, Pressing the bunchy grapes in rosiest wines, The which I sip and sip with pleasure mute, O'er mouthful bites of golden-rinded fruit; When evening comes, I lie in dreamy rest, Where lifted casements front the glowing west, Watching the clouds like banners wide unfurled, Hung o'er the flaming threshold of the world; Its mission o'er, the holy day recedes, Borne heavenward in its car with fiery steeds, Leaving behind a lingering flush of light, Shedding its mantle at the feet of Night; The flocks are penned, the earth is growing dim, The moon comes rounding up the welkin's rim, O'ermisted, rubious, an argent shell, Washed from the caves of darkness on a swell; And one by one, like pearls through azure brine, In drifted beds, the stars begin to shine; And lo! through clouds that part before the chase Of silent winds, a belt of milky white, The galaxy, a crested surge of light, A reef of worlds along the sea of space; My sweet musicians play, in distant vales, A strain that wakes the chiding nightingales, Who strive to drown the envious instruments; My spirit faints in rapturous ravishments, Lost in a flood of bliss, voluptuous, deep, Joy-piloted into the heavenly ports of sleep.
My heart is like a vine,
Full-fed with passion-springs,
And all its budding rings,
And tendrils interwine
Around my ladye dear, And bear their lavishness of vintage all the year; I bow, obeisant to her charmed sway, The sovereignty that won my soul of yore; I linger in her presence night and day, And feel a heaven around her evermore; I kneel beside her couch In chambers lone, And soft unbraid and lay her locks apart, And take her tapering fingers in my own, And press them to my lips with leaps of heart; I live for love, for love alone, and who Dare chide me for it. who dare call it folly? It is a holy thing, if aught is holy, And true, if spotless Truth herself is true; Earth cleaves to earth, and sensuous life is dear, Mortals should love mortality while here, And seize the glowing moments as they fly; Full eyes should answer eyes, warm lips should meet, And hearts enlocked to kindred hearts should beat, And all be happy in their loves until they die.
I move with silent feet,
Along the chamber sweet,
The cage that holds my dove,
The palace of my love,
O'erhung with curtains white,
That shed a chastened light, Like that which filled the sky on Dian's wedding night . The windows all are shadowed o'er with vines, Wreathing their lattices, and eglantines Full-blown and scanty-leaved, and basil pots, And mignonettes, and dear forget-me-nots;