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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.
While on her hearth lay blazing many a piece
Belongs to each and all who gaze upon.
This lady never slept, but lay in trance
All night within the fountain-as in sleep.
Like fire-flies-and withal did ever keep
And when the whirlwinds and the clouds descended
Where in a lawn of flowering asphodel
There yawn'd an inextinguishable well Of crimson fire, full even to the brim, And overflowing all the margin trim.
Within the which she lay when the fierce war
In many a mimic moon and bearded star,
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.
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.
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.
The plant grew strong and green-the snowy flower
To its own substance; woven tracery ran
Of light firm texture, ribb'd and branching, o'er
Of which Love scoop'd this boat, and with soft motion
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.
Then by strange art she kneaded fire and snow
Through which the harmony of love can pass;
A sexless thing it was, and in its growth
In gentleness and strength its limbs were deck'd;
From its smooth shoulders hung two rapid wings,
Dyed in the ardours of the atmosphere:
Where the light boat was moor'd,—and said—« Sit here!»
And pointed to the prow, and took her seat
And ever down the prone vale, like a cloud
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.
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.
And it unfurl'd its heaven-colour'd pinions,
In which spring clothes her emerald-winged minions,
And moonlight splendour of intensest rime,
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.
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.
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.
The water flash'd like sunlight, by the prow
Or, when the weary moon was in the wane,
His storm-outspeeding wings, th' Hermaphrodite;
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.
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.
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.
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.
And then she call'd out of the hollow turrets
Of those high clouds, white, golden and vermilion,
On meteor flags; and many a proud pavilion,
They framed the imperial tent of their great Queen
And on a throne o'erlaid with star-light, caught
These were tame pleasures.-She would often climb
Ride singing through the shoreless air. Oft time
And sometimes to those streams of upper air,
To let her join their chorus. Mortals found
And mystic snatches of harmonious sound
But her choice sport was, in the hours of sleep,
Of utmost Axumè, until he spreads,
Like a calm flock of silver-fleeced sheep,
His waters on the plain and crested heads
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.
And where within the surface of the river
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.
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.
A pleasure sweet doubtless it was to see
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
But other troubled forms of sleep she saw,
And pale imaginings of vision'd wrong,
Written upon the brows of old and young:
And little did the sight disturb her soul-
And she saw princes couch'd under the glow
She saw the priests asleep,-all of one sort,
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.
And all the forms in which those spirits lay,
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.
She all those human figures breathing there
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.
Alas, Aurora! what wouldst thou have given,
Wouldst thou have yielded, ere Proserpina
"T is said in after-times her spirit free
Before she stoop'd to kiss Endymion,
Tasting all blossoms, and confined to noneAmong those mortal forms, the wizard-maiden Pass'd with an eye serene and heart unladen.
To those she saw most beautiful, she gave
Of such, when death oppress'd the weary soul,
For on the night that they were buried, she
Of second childhood's swaddling bands, and took
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.
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;
And then the Witch would let them take no ill:
These were the pranks she play'd among the cities
A tale more fit for the weird winter nights-
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
Had kept as wakeful as the stars that gem
Which an old chesnut flung athwart the steep
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
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
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
Mix'd in one mighty torrent did appear,
And others, as with steps towards the tomb,
Of their own shadow walk'd, and call'd it death;
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,
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