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And strove who should be smother'd deepest in
Fresh crush of leaves.
For one so weak to venture his poor verse
In such a place as this. O do not curse,
High Muses! let him hurry to the ending.
All suddenly were silent. A soft blending Of dulcet instruments came charmingly; And then a hymn.
" King of the stormy sea! Brother of Jove, and co-inheritor Of elements! Eternally before
Thee the waves awful bow. Fast, stubborn rock,
At thy fear'd trident shrinking, doth unlock
Its deep foundations, hissing into foam.
All mountain-rivers lost, in the wide home
Of thy capacious bosom ever flow.
Thou frownest, and old Eolus thy foe
Skulks to his cavern, 'mid the gruff complaint
Of all his rebel tempests. Dark clouds faint
When, from thy diadem, a silver gleam
Slants over blue dominion. Thy bright team
Gulfs in the morning light, and scuds along
To bring thee nearer to that golden song
Apollo singeth, while his chariot
Waits at the doors of heaven. Thou art not
For scenes like this: an empire stern hast thou;
And it hath furrow'd that large front: yet now,
As newly come of heaven, dost thou sit
To blend and interknit
Subdued majesty with this glad time.
O shell-borne King sublime!
We lay our hearts before thee evermore-
We sing, and we adore!
Be tender of your strings, ye soothing lutes;
Nor be the trumpet heard! O vain, O vain!
Not flowers budding in an April rain,
Nor breath of sleeping dove, nor river's flow,-
No, nor the Eolian twang of Love's own bow,
Can mingle music fit for the soft ear
Yet deign, white Queen of Beauty, thy fair eyes
On our souls' sacrifice.
Who has another care when thou hast smiled?
Unfortunates on earth, we see at last
All death-shadows, and glooms that overcast
Our spirits, fann'd away by thy light pinions.
O sweetest essence! sweetest of all minions!
God of warm pulses, and dishevell'd hair,
And panting bosoms bare!
Dear unseen light in darkness! eclipser
Of light in light! delicious poisoner!
Thy venom'd goblet will we quaff until
We fill-we fill!
And by thy Mother's lips--- })
Open'd again, and from without, in shone
A new magnificence. On oozy throne
Smooth-moving came Oceanus the old,
To take a latest glimpse at his sheep-fold,
Before he went into his quiet cave
To muse for ever-Then a lucid wave,
Scoop'd from its trembling sisters of mid-sea,
Afloat, and pillowing up the majesty
Of Doris, and the Egean seer, her spouse-
Next, on a dolphin, clad in laurel boughs,
Theban Amphion leaning on his lute:
His fingers went across it-All were mute
gaze on Amphitrite, queen of pearls,
And Thetis pearly too.—
The palace whirls
Around giddy Endymion; seeing he**
Was there far strayed from mortality.
He could not bear it-shut his eyes in vain;
Imagination gave a dizzier pain.
OI shall die! sweet Venus, be my stay!
Where is my lovely mistress? Well-away!
I die I hear her voice-I feel my wing-
At Neptune's feet he sank. A sudden ring
Of Nereids were about him, in kind strife
To usher back his spirit into life:
But still he slept. At last they interwove
Their cradling arms, and purposed to convey
Towards a crystal bower far away.
Lo! while slow carried through the pitying crowd,
To his inward senses these words spake aloud;
Written in star-light on the dark above:
. Dearest Endymion! my entire love!
How have I dwelt in fear of fate: 't is done-
Immortal bliss for me too hast thou won.
Arise then! for the hen-dove shall not hatch
ller ready eggs, before I'll kissing snatch
Thee into endless heaven. Awake! awake!.
The youth at once arose : a placid lake
Came quiet to his eyes; and forest green,
Cooler than all the wonder he had seen,
Lull'd with its simple song his fluttering breast.
How happy once again in grassy nest!
MUSE of my native land! loftiest Muse!
O first-born on the mountains! by the hues
Of heaven on the spiritual air begot:
Long didst thou sit alone in northern grot,
While yet our England was a wolfish den;
Before our forests heard the talk of men;
Before the first of Druids was a child;-
Long didst thou sit amid our regions wild,,
Rapt in a deep prophetic solitude.
There came an eastern voice of solemn mood:-
Yet wast thou patient. Then sang forth the Nine,
Apollo's garland :-yet didst thou divine
Such home-bred glory, that they cried in vain,
Come hither, Sister of the Island! Plain
Was heard no more Spake fair Ausonia; and once more she spake
A higher summons :-still didst thou betake
For clamour, when the golden palace-door
Thee to thy native hopes. O thou hast won
A full accomplishment! The thing is done,
Which undone, these our latter days had risen
On barren souls. Great Muse, thou know'st what prison,
Of flesh and bone, curbs, and confines, and frets
Our spirit's wings: despondency besets
Our pillows; and the fresh to-morrow morn
Seems to give forth its light in very scorn
Of our dull, uninspired, snail-paced lives.
Long have I said, how happy he who shrives
To thee! But then I thought on poets gone,
And could not pray:-nor can I now-so on
I move to the end in lowliness of heart.——
Ah, woe is me! that I should fondly part From my dear native land! Ah, foolish maid! Glad was the hour, when, with thee, myriads bade Adieu to Ganges and their pleasant fields! To one so friendless the clear freshet yields A bitter coolness; the ripe grape is sour: Yet I would have, great gods! but one short hour Of native air-let me but die at home..
Endymion to heaven's airy dome
Was offering up a hecatomb of vows,
When these words reach'd hin. Whereupon he bows
His head through thorny-green entanglement
Of underwood, and to the sound is bent,
Anxious as hind towards her hidden fawn.
<< Is no one near to help me? No fair dawn Of life from charitable voice? No sweet saying To set my dull and sadden'd spirit playing? No hand to toy with mine? No lips so sweet That I may worship them? No eyelids meet To twinkle on my bosom? No one dies Before me, till from these enslaving eyes Redemption sparkles!-1 am sad and lost,»
Thou, Carian lord, hadst better have been tost Into a whirlpool. Vanish into air, Warm mountaineer! for canst thou only bear A woman's sigh alone and in distress? See not her charms! Is Phoebe passionless? Phoebe is fairer far-O gaze no more:Yet if thou wilt behold all beauty's store, Behold her panting in the forest grass! Do not those curls of glossy jet surpass For tenderness the arms so idly lain Amongst them? Feelest not a kindred pain, To see such lovely eyes in swimming search After some warm delight, that seems to perch Dovelike in the dim cell lying beyond Their upper lids?-Hist!
«O for Hermes' wand, To touch this flower into human shape! That woodland Hyacinthus could escape From his green prison, and here kneeling down Call me his queen, his second life's fair crown! Ah me, how I could love -My soul doth melt For the unhappy youth-Love! I have felt So faint a kindness, such a meek surrender To what my own full thoughts had made too tender, That but for tears my life had fled away!— Ye deaf and senseless minutes of the day,
And thou, old forest, hold ye this for true,
There is no lightning, no authentic dew
But in the eye of love: there's not a sound,
Melodious howsoever, can confound
The heavens and earth in one to such a death
As doth the voice of love: there's not a breath
Will mingle kindly with the meadow air,
Till it has panted round, and stolen a share
Of passion from the heart!-
Upon a bough
He leant, wretched. He surely cannot now
Thirst for another love: O impious,
| That he can even dream upon it thus!—
Thought he, Why am I not as are the dead,
Since to a woe like this I have been led
Through the dark earth, and through the wondrous sea?
Goddess! I love thee not the less: from thee
By Juno's smile I turn not-no, no, no-
While the great waters are at ebb and flow.--
I have a triple soul! O fond pretence-
For both, for both my love is so immense,
I feel my heart is cut in twain for them.>>
And so he groan'd, as one by beauty slain.
The lady's heart beat quick, and he could see
Her gentle bosom heave tumultuously.
He sprang from his green covert: there she lay,
Sweet as a musk-rose upon new-made hay;
With all her limbs on tremble, and her eyes
Shut softly up alive. To speak he tries:
Fair damsel, pity me! forgive me that I
Thus violate thy bower's sanctity!
O pardon me, for I am full of grief-
Grief born of thec, young angel! fairest thief!
Who stolen hast away the wings wherewith
I was to top the heavens. Dear maid, sith
Thou art my executioner, and I feel
Loving and hatred, misery and weal,
Will in a few short hours be nothing to me,
And all my story that much passion slew me;
Do smile upon the evening of my days:
And, for my tortured brain begins to craze,
Be thou my nurse; and let me understand
How dying I shall kiss that lily hand.—
Dost weep for me? Then should I be content.
Scowl on, ye fates! until the firmament
Outblackens Erebus, and the full-cavern'd earth
Crumbles into itself. By the cloud girth
Of Jove, those tears have given me a thirst
To meet oblivion.»-As her heart would burst
The maiden sobb'd awhile, and then replied:
Why must such desolation betide
As that thou speakest of?
Empty of all misfortune?
Utter a gorgon voice? Does yonder thrush,
Schooling its half-fledged little ones to brush
About the dewy forest, whisper tales?--
Speak not of grief, young stranger, or cold snails
Will slime the rose to-night. Though if thou wilt,
Methinks 't would be a guilt—a very guilt—
Not to companion thee, and sigh away
The light-the dusk-the dark-till break of day!■
«Dear lady, said Endymion, « 't is past:
Are not these green nooks
Do the brooks
I love thee! and my days can never last. That I may pass in patience still speak : Let me have music dying, and I seek
« Whence came ye, jolly Satyrs! whence came ye,
So many, and so many, and such glee?
Why have ye left your forest haunts, why left
Your nuts in oak-tree cleft?-
'For wine, for wine we left our kernel tree;
For wine we left our heath, and yellow brooms,
And cold mushrooms;
For wine we follow Bacchus through the earth;
Great god of breathless cups and chirping mirth! —
Come hither, lady fair, and joined be
To our mad minstrelsy!"
Over wide streams and mountains great we went,
And, save when Bacchus kept his ivy tent,
Onward the tiger and the leopard pants,
With Asian elephants:
Onward these myriads-with song and dance,
With zebras striped, and sleek Arabians' prance,
Web-footed alligators, crocodiles,
Bearing upon their scaly backs, in files,
Plump infant laughers mimicking the coil
Of seamen, and stout galley-rowers' toil :
With toying oars and silken sails they glide,
Nor care for wind and tide.
Mounted on panthers' furs and lions' manes,
From rear to van they scour about the plains;
A three days' journey in a moment done;
And always, at the rising of the sun,
About the wilds they hunt with spear and horn,
On spleenful unicorn.
I saw Osirian Egypt kneel adown
Before the vine-wreath crown!
WOE! WOE TO THAT ENDYMION! WHERE IS HE?~
I saw parch'd Abyssinia rouse and sing
To the silver cymbals' ring!
I saw the whelming vintage hotly pierce
Old Tartary the fierce!
The kings of Ind their jewel-sceptres vail,
And from their treasures scatter pearled hail;
Great Brahma from his mystic heaven groans,
And all his priesthood moans,
Before young Bacchus' eye-wink turning pale.
Into these regions came I, following him,
Sick-hearted, weary-so I took a whim
To stray away into these forests drear,
Alone, without a peer:
And I have told thee all thou mayest hear.
O what a sigh she gave in finishing, And look, quite dead to every worldly thing! Endymion could not speak, but gazed on her: And listen'd to the wind that now did stir About the crisped oaks full drearily, Yet with as sweet a softness as might be Remember'd from its velvet summer song, At last he said: «Poor lady, how thus long Have I been able to endure that voice? Fair Melody! kind Syren! I've no choice; I must be thy sad servant evermore : I cannot chuse but kneel here and adore. Alas, I must not think-by Phoebe, no! Let me not think, soft Angel! shall it be so? Say, beautifullest, shall I never think? O thou couldst foster me beyond the brink Of recollection! make my watchful care Close up its bloodshot eyes, nor see despair! Do gently murder half my soul, and I Shall feel the other half so utterly!— I'm giddy at that cheek so fair and smooth; O let it blush so ever let it soothe My madness! let it mantle rosy-warm With the tinge of love, panting in safe alarm. This cannot be thy hand, and yet it is; And this is sure thine other softling-this Thine own fair bosom, and I am so near! Wilt fall asleep? O let me sip that tear! know And whisper one sweet word that I may This is this world-sweet dewy blossom!-WOE!
Even these words went echoing dismally
Through the wide forest-a most fearful tone,
Like one repenting in his latest moan;
And while it died away a shade pass'd by,
As of a thunder-cloud. When arrows fly
Through the thick branches, poor ring-dove sleek
Their timid necks and tremble; so these both
Leant to each other trembling, and sat so
Waiting for some destruction-when lo!
Foot-feather'd Mercury appear'd sublime
Beyond the tall tree tops; and in less time
Than shoots the slanted hail-storm, down he dropt
Towards the ground; but rested not, nor stopt
One moment from his home: only the sward
He with his wand light touch'd, and heavenward
Swifter than sight was gone-even before
The teeming earth a sudden witness bore
Of his swift magic. Diving swans appear
Above the crystal circlings white and clear;
And catch the cheated eye in wild surprise,
How they can dive in sight and unseen rise-
So from the turf outsprang two steeds jet-black,
Each with large dark blue wings upon his back.
The youth of Caria placed the lovely dame
On one, and felt himself in spleen to tame
The other's fierceness. Through the air they flew,
High as the eagles. Like two drops of dew
Exhaled to Phoebus' lips, away they are gone,
Far from the earth away-unseen, alone,
Among cool clouds and winds, but that the free,
The buoyant life of song can floating be
Above their heads, and follow them untired.
Muse of my native land! am I inspired?
This is the giddy air, and I must spread
Wide pinions to keep here; nor do I dread
Or height, or depth, or width, or any chance
Precipitous: I have beneath my glance
Those towering horses and their mournful freight.
Could I thus sail, and see, and thus await
Fearless for power of thought, without thine aid?—
There is a sleepy dusk, an odorous shade
From some approaching wonder, and behold
Those winged steeds, with snorting nostrils bold
Snuff at its faint extreme, and seem to tire,
Dying to embers from their native fire!
There curl'd a purple mist around them; soon, It seem'd as when around the pale new moon Sad Zephyr droops the clouds like weeping willow: 'T was Sleep slow journeying with head on pillow. For the first time, since he came nigh dead-born From the old womb of night, his cave forlorn Had he left more forlorn; for the first time, He felt aloof the day and morning's primeBecause into his depth Cimmerian There came a dream, showing how a young man, Ere a lean bat could plump its wintery skin, Would at high Jove's empyreal footstool win An immortality, and how espouse Jove's daughter, and be reckon'd of his house. Now was he slumbering towards heaven's gate, That he might at the threshold one hour wait To hear the marriage melodies, and then Sink downward to his dusky cave again.
His litter of smooth semilucent mist,
Diversely tinged with rose and amethyst,
Puzzled those eyes that for the centre sought;
And scarcely for one moment could be caught
His sluggish form reposing motionless.
Those two on winged steeds, with all the stress
Of vision search'd for him, as one would look
Athwart the sallows of a river nook
To catch a glance at silver-throated eels,—
Or from old Skiddaw's top, when fog conceals
His rugged forehead in a mantle pale,
With an eye-guess towards some pleasant vale,
Descry a favourite hamlet faint and far.
On heaven's pavement, brotherly he talks
To divine powers: from his hand full fain
Juno's proud birds are pecking pearly grain :
He tries the nerve of Phoebus' golden bow,
And asketh where the golden apples grow:
Upon his arm he braces Pallas' shield,
And strives in vain to unsettle and wield
A Jovian thunderbolt: arch Hebe brings
A full-brimm'd goblet, dances lightly, sings
And tantalizes long; at last he drinks,
And lost in pleasure at her feet he sinks,
Touching with dazzled lips her star-light hand,
He blows a bugle,—
-an etherial band
Are visible above: the Seasons four,-
Green-kyrtled Spring, flush Summer, golden store
In Autumn's sickle, Winter frosty hoar,
Join dance with shadowy Hours; while still the blast,
In swells unmitigated, still doth last
sway their floating morris. Whose is this? Whose bugle? he inquires: they smile-O Dis! Why is this mortal here? Dost thou not know Its mistress' lips? Not thou?-'T is Dian's: lo! She rises crescented! He looks, 't is she, His very goddess: good-bye earth, and sea, And air, and pains, and care, and suffering; Good-bye to all but love! Then doth he spring Towards her, and awakes-and, strange, o'erhead, Of those same fragrant exhalations bred, Beheld awake his very dream: the gods Stood smiling; merry Hebe laughs and nods; And Phoebe bends towards him crescented. O state perplexing! On the pinion bed, Too well awake, he feels the panting side Of his delicious lady. He who died For soaring too audacious in the sun, Where that same treacherous wax began to run, Felt not more tongue-tied than Endymion. His heart leapt up as to its rightful throne, To that fair-shadow'd passion pulsed its wayAh, what perplexity! Ah, well-a-day! So fond, so beauteous was his bed-fellow, He could not help but kiss her: then he grew
These words awoke the stranger of dark tresses:
Her dawning love-look rapt Endymion blesses
With 'haviour soft. Sleep yawn'd from underneath.
Thou swan of Ganges, let us no more breathe
This murky phantasm! thou contented seem'st
Pillow'd in lovely idleness, nor dream'st
What horrors may discomfort thee and me.
Ah, shouldst thou die from my heart-treachery!-
Yet did she merely weep-her gentle soul
Hath no revenge in it; as it is whole
In tenderness, would I were whole in love!
Can I prize thee, fair maid, all price above,
Even when I feel as true as innocence?
I do, I do.-What is this soul then? Whence
Came it? It does not seem my own, and I
Have no self-passion or identity.
Some fearful end must be; where, where is it?
By Nemesis! I see my spirit flit
Alone about the dark-Forgive me, sweet!
Shall we away? He roused the steeds; they beat
Their wings chivalrous into the clear air,
Leaving old Sleep within his vapoury lair.
The good-night blush of eve was waning slow,
And Vesper, risen star, began to throe
In the dusk heavens silvery, when they
Thus sprang direct towards the Galaxy.
Nor did speed hinder converse soft and strange-
Eternal oaths and vows they interchange,
In such wise, in such temper, so aloof
Up in the winds, beneath a starry roof,
So witless of their doom, that verily
'T is well nigh past man's search their hearts to see; Whether they wept, or laugh'd, or grieved, or toy'd— Most like with joy gone mad, with sorrow cloy'd.
Full facing their swift flight, from ebon streak,
The moon put forth a little diamond peak,
No bigger than an unobserved star,
Or tiny point of fairy scimetar;
Bright signal that she only stoop'd to tie
Her silver sandals, ere deliciously
She bow'd into the heavens her timid head.
Slowly she rose, as though she would have fled,
While to his lady meek the Carian turn'd,
To mark if her dark eyes had yet discern'd
This beauty in its birth-Despair! despair!
He saw her body fading gaunt and spare
In the cold moonshine. Straight he seized her wrist;
It melted from his grasp; her hand he kiss'd,
And, horror! kiss'd his own-he was alone.