網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

She spoke and wept: the dark and azure well Sparkled beneath the shower of her bright tears, And every little circlet where they fell,

Flung to the cavern-roof inconstant spheres And intertangled lines of light:-a knell

Of sobbing voices came upon her ears From those departing Forms, o'er the serene Of the white streams and of the forest green. XXVI.

All day the wizard lady sat aloof,

Spelling out scrolls of dread antiquity Under the cavern's fountain-lighted roof; Or broidering the pictured poesy

Of some high tale upon her growing woof,

Which the sweet splendour of her smiles could dye

In hues outshining heaven-and ever she

Added some grace to the wrought poesy.

XXVII.

While on her hearth lay blazing many a piece
Of sandal-wood, rare gums and cinnamon;
Men scarcely know how beautiful fire is,
Each flame of it is as a precious stone
Dissolved in ever-moving light, and this

Belongs to each and all who gaze upon.
The Witch beheld it not, for in her hand
She held a woof that dimm'd the burning brand.
XXVIII.

This lady never slept, but lay in trance

All night within the fountain-as in sleep.
Its emerald crags glow'd in her beauty's glance:
Through the green splendour of the water deep
She saw the constellations reel and dance

Like fire-flies-and withal did ever keep
The tenor of her contemplations calm,
With open eyes, closed feet and folded palm.
XXIX.

And when the whirlwinds and the clouds descended
From the white pinnacles of that cold hill,
She past at dewfall to a space extended,

Where in a lawn of flowering asphodel
Amid a wood of pines and cedars blended,

There yawn'd an inextinguishable well Of crimson fire, full even to the brim, And overflowing all the margin trim.

XXX.

Within the which she lay when the fierce war
Of wintry winds shook that innocuous liquor

In many a mimic moon and bearded star,
O'er woods and lawns-the serpent heard it flicker
In sleep, and dreaming still, he crept afar-

And when the windless snow descended thicker Than autumn leaves, she watch'd it as it came Melt on the surface of the level flame.

XXXI.

She had a Boat which some say Vulcan wrought For Venus, as the chariot of her star;

But it was found too feeble to be fraught

With all the ardours in that sphere which are, And so she sold it, and Apollo bought,

And gave it to this daughter: from a car Changed to the fairest and the lightest boat Which ever upon mortal stream did float.

XXXII.

And others say, that when but three hours old, The first-born Love out of his cradle leapt, And clove dun Chaos with his wings of gold,

And like a horticultural adept,

Stole a strange seed, and wrapt it up in mould, And sow'd it in his mother's star, and kept Watering it all the summer with sweet dew, And with his wings fanning it as it grew.

XXXIII.

The plant grew strong and green-the snowy flower
Fell, and the long and gourd-like fruit began
To turn the light and dew by inward power

To its own substance; woven tracery ran

Of light firm texture, ribb'd and branching, o'er
The solid rind, like a leaf's veined fan,

Of which Love scoop'd this boat, and with soft motion
Piloted it round the circumfluous ocean.

XXXIV.

This boat she moor'd upon her fount, and lit A living spirit within all its frame, Breathing the soul of swiftness into it.

Couch'd on the fountain like a panther tame, One of the twain at Evan's feet that sit;

Or as on Vesta's sceptre a swift flame, Or on blind Homer's heart a winged thought,In joyous expectation lay the boat.

XXXV.

Then by strange art she kneaded fire and snow
Together, tempering the repugnant mass
With liquid love-all things together grow

Through which the harmony of love can pass;
And a fair Shape out of her hands did flow
A living Image, which did far surpass
In beauty that bright shape of vital stone
Which drew the heart out of Pygmalion.
XXXVI.

A sexless thing it was, and in its growth
It seem'd to have developed no defect
Of either sex, yet all the grace of both,-

In gentleness and strength its limbs were deck'd;
The bosom lightly swell'd with its full youth,
The countenance was such as might select
Some artist that his skill should never die,
Imaging forth such perfect purity.

XXXVII.

From its smooth shoulders hung two rapid wings,
Fit to have borne it to the seventh sphere,
Tipt with the speed of liquid lightnings,

Dyed in the ardours of the atmosphere:
She led her creature to the boiling springs

Where the light boat was moor'd,—and said—« Sit here!»

And pointed to the prow, and took her seat
Beside the rudder with opposing feet.

XXXVIII.

XLI.

And ever down the prone vale, like a cloud
Upon a stream of wind, the pinnace went :
Now lingering on the pools, in which abode
The calm and darkness of the deep content
In which they paused; now o'er the shallow road
Of white and dancing waters all besprent
With sand and polish'd pebbles: -mortal boat
In such a shallow rapid could not float.

XLII.

And down the earthquaking cataracts which shiver Their snow-like waters into golden air,

Or under chasms unfathomable ever

Sepulchre them, till in their rage they tear A subterranean portal for the river,

It fled the circling sun-bows did upbear Its fall down the hoar precipice of spray, Lighting it far upon its lampless way.

XLIII.

And when the wizard lady would ascend

The labyrinths of some many-winding vale, Which to the inmost mountain upward tendShe call'd Hermaphroditus!, and the pale And heavy hue which slumber could extend Over its lips and eyes, as on the gale A rapid shadow from a slope of grass, Into the darkness of the stream did pass.

XLIV.

And it unfurl'd its heaven-colour'd pinions,
With stars of fire spotting the stream below;
And from above into the Sun's dominions
Flinging a glory, like the golden glow

In which spring clothes her emerald-winged minions,
All interwoven with fine feathery snow

And moonlight splendour of intensest rime,
With which frost paints the pines in winter-time.

XLV.

And down the streams which clove those mountains vast And then it winnow'd the Elysian air Around their inland islets, and amid

The panther-peopled forests, whose shade cast

Darkness and odours, and a pleasure hid

In melancholy gloom, the pinnace past;

By many a star-surrounded pyramid

Of icy crag cleaving the purple sky,

And caverns yawning round unfathomably.

XXXIX.

The silver noon into that winding dell,

With slanted gleam athwart the forest tops, Temper'd like golden evening, feebly fell;

A green and glowing light, like that which drops From folded lilies in which glow-worms dwell, When earth over her face night's mantle wraps; Between the sever'd mountains lay on high Over the stream, a narrow rift of sky.

XL.

And ever as she went, the Image lay

With folded wings and unawaken'd eyes; And o'er its gentle countenance did play

The busy dreams, as thick as summer flies, Chasing the rapid smiles that would not stay,

And drinking the warm tears, and the sweet sighs Inhaling, which, with busy murmur vain, They had aroused from that full heart and brain.

Which ever hung about that lady bright, With its ethereal vans-and speeding there, Like a star up the torrent of the night, Or a swift eagle in the morning glare

Breasting the whirlwind with impetuous flight; The pinnace, oar'd by those enchanted wings, Clove the fierce streams towards their upper springs.

XLVI.

The water flash'd like sunlight, by the prow
Of a noon-wandering meteor flung to Heaven;
The still air seem'd as if its waves did flow
In tempest down the mountains,-loosely driven,
The lady's radiant hair stream'd to and fro :
Beneath, the billows having vainly striven
Indignant and impetuous, roar'd to feel
The swift and steady motion of the keel.
XLVII.

Or, when the weary moon was in the wane,
Or in the noon of interlunar night,
The lady-witch in visions could not chain
Her spirit; but sail'd forth under the light
Of shooting stars, and bade extend amain

His storm-outspeeding wings, th' Hermaphrodite;
She to the Austral waters took her way,
Beyond the fabulous Thamondocona.

XLVIII.

Where, like a meadow which no scythe has shaven, Which rain could never bend, or whirl-blast shake, With the Antarctic constellations haven,

Canopus and his crew, lay th' Austral lakeThere she would build herself a windless haven

Out of the clouds whose moving turrets make The bastions of the storm, when through the sky The spirits of the tempest thunder'd by.

XLIX.

A haven, beneath whose translucent floor

The tremulous stars sparkled unfathomably, And around which, the solid vapours hoar, Based on the level waters, to the sky Lifted their dreadful crags; and like a shore Of wintry mountains, inaccessibly Hemm'd in with rifts and precipices grey, And hanging crags, many a cove and bay.

L.

And whilst the outer lake beneath the lash

Of the winds' scourge, foam'd like a wounded thing; And the incessant hail with stony clash

Plough'd up the waters, and the flagging wing Of the roused cormorant in the lightning flash Look'd like the wreck of some wind-wandering Fragment of inky thunder-smoke--this haven Was as a gem to copy Heaven engraven.

LI.

On which that lady play'd her many pranks, Circling the image of a shooting star, Even as a tiger on Hydaspes' banks

Outspeeds the antelopes which speediest are, In her light boat; and many quips and cranks She play'd upon the water; till the car Of the late moon, like a sick matron wan, To journey from the misty east began.

LII.

And then she call'd out of the hollow turrets

Of those high clouds, white, golden and vermilion,
The armies of her ministering spirits-
In mighty legions, million after million
They came, each troop emblazoning its merits

On meteor flags; and many a proud pavilion,
Of the intertexture of the atmosphere,
They pitch'd upon the plain of the calm mere.

LIII.

They framed the imperial tent of their great Queen
Of woven exhalations, underlaid
With lambent lightning-fire, as may be seen
A dome of thin and open ivory inlaid
With crimson silk-cressets from the serene
Hung there, and on the water for her tread,
A tapestry of fleece-like mist was strewn,
Dyed in the beams of the ascending moon.

LIV.

And on a throne o'erlaid with star-light, caught
Upon those wandering isles of aëry dew,
Which highest shoals of mountain shipwreck not,
She sate, and heard all that had happen'd new
Between the earth and moon since they had brought
The last intelligence-and now she grew
Pale as that moon, lost in the watery night—
And now she wept, and now she laugh'd outright.

LV.

These were tame pleasures.-She would often climb
The steepest ladder of the crudded rack
Up to some beaked cape of cloud sublime,
And like Arion on the dolphin's back

Ride singing through the shoreless air. Oft time
Following the serpent lightning's winding track,
She ran upon the platforms of the wind,
And laugh'd to hear the fire-balls roar behind.
LVI.

And sometimes to those streams of upper air,
Which whirl the earth in its diurnal round,
She would ascend, and win the spirits there

To let her join their chorus. Mortals found
That on those days the sky was calm and fair,

And mystic snatches of harmonious sound
Wander'd upon the earth where'er she past,
And happy thoughts of hope, too sweet to last.
LVII.

But her choice sport was, in the hours of sleep,
To glide adown old Nilus, when he threads
Egypt and Ethiopia, from the steep

Of utmost Axumè, until he spreads,

Like a calm flock of silver-fleeced sheep,

His waters on the plain and crested heads
Of cities and proud temples gleam amid,
And many a vapour-belted pyramid.

LVIII.

By Maris and the Mareotid lakes,

Strewn with faint blooms like bridal-chamber floors; Where naked boys bridling tame water-snakes, Or charioteering ghastly alligators,

Had left on the sweet waters mighty wakes

Of those huge forms :-within the brazen doors Of the great Labyrinth slept both boy and beast, Tired with the pomp of their Osirian feast.

LIX.

And where within the surface of the river
The shadows of the massy temples lie,

And never are erased-but tremble ever

Like things which every cloud can doom to die, Through lotus-paven canals, and wheresoever

The works of man pierced that serenest sky With tombs, and towers, and fanes, 't was her delight To wander in the shadow of the night.

LX.

With motion like the spirit of that wind

Whose soft step deepens slumber, her light feet Past through the peopled haunts of human kind, Scattering sweet visions from her presence sweet, Through fane and palace-court and labyrinth mined With many a dark and subterranean street Under the Nile; through chambers high and deep She past, observing mortals in their sleep.

LXI.

A pleasure sweet doubtless it was to see
Mortals subdued in all the shapes of sleep.
Here lay two sister-twins in infancy;

There, a lone youth who in his dreams did weep; Within, two lovers link'd innocently

In their loose locks which over both did creep
Like ivy from one stem;-and there lay calm,
Old
age with snow-bright hair and folded palm.

LXII.

But other troubled forms of sleep she saw,
Not to be mirror'd in a holy song,
Distortions foul of supernatural awe,

And pale imaginings of vision'd wrong,
And all the code of custom's lawless law

Written upon the brows of old and young:
« This, said the wizard maiden, is the strife,
Which stirs the liquid surface of man's life."
LXIL

And little did the sight disturb her soul-
We, the weak mariners of that wide lake,
Where'er its shores extend or billows roll,
Our course unpiloted and starless make
O'er its wild surface to an unknown goal-
But she in the calm depths her way
could take,
Where in bright bowers immortal forms abide,
Beneath the weltering of the restless tide.

LXIV.

And she saw princes couch'd under the glow
Of sunlike gems; and round each temple-court
In dormitories ranged, row after row,

She saw the priests asleep,-all of one sort,
For all were educated to be so;-

The peasants in their huts, and in the port The sailors she saw cradled on the waves, And the dead lull'd within their dreamless graves.

LXV.

And all the forms in which those spirits lay,
Were to her sight like the diaphanous
Veils, in which those sweet ladies oft array

Their delicate limbs, who would conceal from us Only their scorn of all concealment: they

Move in the light of their own beauty thus. But these, and all, now lay with sleep upon them, And little thought a Witch was looking on them.

LXVI.

She all those human figures breathing there
Beheld as living spirits-to her eyes

The naked beauty of the soul lay bare,

And often through a rude and worn disguise She saw the inner form most bright and fair

And then, she had a charm of strange device, Which murmur'd on mute lips with tender tone, Could make that spirit mingle with her own.

LXVII.

Alas, Aurora! what wouldst thou have given,
For such a charm, when Tithon became grey!
Or how much, Venus, of thy silver Heaven

Wouldst thou have yielded, ere Proserpina
Had half (oh! why not all?) the debt forgiven
Which dear Adonis had been doom'd to pay,
To any witch who would have taught you it!
The Heliad doth not know its value yet.
LXVIII.

"T is said in after-times her spirit free
Knew what love was, and felt itself alone-
But holy Dian could not chaster be

Before she stoop'd to kiss Endymion,
Than now this lady-like a sexless bee

Tasting all blossoms, and confined to noneAmong those mortal forms, the wizard-maiden Pass'd with an eye serene and heart unladen.

LXIX.

To those she saw most beautiful, she gave
Strange panacea in a crystal bowl.
They drank in their deep sleep of that sweet wave,
And lived thenceforth as if some control
Mightier than life, were in them; and the grave

Of such, when death oppress'd the weary soul,
Was as a green and overarching bower
Lit by the gems of many a starry flower.

LXX.

For on the night that they were buried, she
Restored the embalmers' ruining, and shook
The light out of the funeral lamps, to be
A mimic day within that deathy nook;
And she unwound the woven imagery.

Of second childhood's swaddling bands, and took
The coffin, its last cradle, from its niche,
And threw it with contempt into a ditch.
LXXI.

And there the body lay, age after age,

Mute, breathing, beating, warm, and undecaying, Like one asleep in a green hermitage,

With gentle sleep about its eyelids playing,

And living in its dreams beyond the rage

Of death or life; while they were still arraying

In liveries ever new, the rapid, blind

And fleeting generations of mankind.

[blocks in formation]

LXXVI.

And timid lovers, who had been so coy

They hardly knew whether they loved or not, Would rise out of their rest, and take sweet joy, To the fulfilment of their inmost thought; And when next day the maiden and the boy

Met one another, both, like sinners caught, Blush'd at the thing which each believed was done Only in fancy-till the tenth moon shone;

LXXVII.

And then the Witch would let them take no ill:
Of many thousand schemes which lovers find
The Witch found one,—and so they took their fill
Of happiness in marriage warm and kind.
Friends who by practice of some envious skill
Were torn apart, a wide wound, mind from mind!
She did unite again with visions clear
Of deep affection and of truth sincere.
LXXVIII.

These were the pranks she play'd among the cities
Of mortal men, and what she did to sprites
And Gods, entangling them in her sweet ditties
To do her will, and show their subtle slights,
I will declare another time; for it is

A tale more fit for the weird winter nights-
Than for these garish summer days, when we
Scarcely believe much more than we can see.

THE TRIUMPH OF LIFE.

SWIFT as a spirit hastening to his task

Of glory and of good, the Sun sprang forth Rejoicing in his splendour, and the mask

Of darkness fell from the awaken'd EarthThe smokeless altars of the mountain snows Flamed above crimson clouds, and at the birth

Of light, the Ocean's orison arose,

To which the birds temper'd their matin lay; All flowers in field or forest which unclose

Their trembling eyelids to the kiss of day, Swinging their censers in the element, With orient incense lit by the new ray,

Burn'd slow and inconsumably, and sent Their odorous sighs up to the smiling air; And, in succession due, did continent,

Isle, ocean, and all things that in them wear The form and character of mortal mould, Rise as the sun their father rose, to bear

Their portion of the toil, which he of old
Took as his own and then imposed on them:
But I, whom thoughts which must remain untold

Had kept as wakeful as the stars that gem
The cone of night, now they were laid asleep,
Stretch'd my faint limbs beneath the hoary stem

Which an old chesnut flung athwart the steep
Of a green Apennine: before me fled
The night; behind me rose the day; the deep

Was at my feet, and Heaven above my head, When a strange trance over my fancy grew Which was not slumber, for the shade it spread

Was so transparent, that the scene came through
As clear as when a veil of light is drawn
O'er evening hills they glimmer; and I knew

That I had felt the freshness of that dawn, Bathed in the same cold dew my brow and hair, And sate as thus upon that slope of lawn

Under the self same bough, and heard as there The birds, the fountains, and the ocean hold Sweet talk in music through the enamour'd air, And then a vision on my brain was roll'd.

As in that trance of wondrous thought I lay, This was the tenor of my waking dream:Methought I sate beside a public way

Thick strewn with summer dust, and a great stream
Of people there was hurrying to and fro,
Numerous as gnats upon the evening gleam,

All hastening onward; yet none seem'd to know Whither he went, or whence he came, or why He made one of the multitude, and so

Was borne amid the crowd, as through the sky
One of the million leaves of summer's bier;
Old
age and youth, manhood and infancy,

Mix'd in one mighty torrent did appear,
Some flying from the thing they fear'd, and some
Seeking the object of another's fear;

And others, as with steps towards the tomb,
Pored on the trodden worms that crawl'd beneath;
And others mournfully within the gloom

Of their own shadow walk'd, and call'd it death;
And some fled from it as it were a ghost,
Half fainting in the affliction of vain breath:

But more, with motions which each other crost, Pursued or spurn'd the shadows the clouds threw, Or birds within the noon-day ether lost,

Upon that path where flowers never grew,
And weary with vain toil and faint for thirst,
Heard not the fountains, whose melodious dew

Out of their mossy cells for ever burst;

Nor felt the breeze which from the forest told Of grassy paths and wood, lawn-interspersed,

With over-arching elms and caverns cold,

And violet banks where sweet dreams brood, but they Pursued their serious folly as of old.

And as I gazed, methought that in the
way
The throng grew wilder, as the woods of June
When the south wind shakes the extinguish'd day;

« 上一頁繼續 »