Графични страници
PDF файл

Of every guest; that each, as he did please,
Might fancy-fit his brows, silk-pillow'd at his ease.

What wreath for Lamia? What for Lycius' What for the sage, old Apollonius! Upon her aching forehead be there hung The leaves of willow and of adder's tongue; And for the youth, quick, let us strip for him The thyrsus, that his watching eyes may swim Into forgetfulness; and, for the sage, Let spear-grass and the spiteful thistle wage War on his temples. Do not all charms sly At the mere touch of cold philosophy? There was an awful rainbow once in leaven: We know her woof, her texture; she is given In the dull catalogue of common things. Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings, Conquer all mysteries by rule and line, Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine— Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made The tender-person'd Lamia melt into a shade.

By her glad Lycius sitting, in chief place, Scarce saw in all the room another face, Till, checking his love trance, a cup he took Full brimm'd, and opposite sent forth a look "Cross the broad table, to beseech a glance From his old teacher's wrinkled countenance, And pledge him. The bald-head philosopher Had six’d his eye, without a twinkle or stir Full on the alarmed beauty of the bride, Brow-beating her fair form, and troubling her sweet

pride.

Lycius then press'd her hand, with devout touch,
As pale it lay upon the rosy couch:
"T was icy, and the cold ran through his veins;
Then sudden it grew hot, and all the pains
Of an unnatural heat shot to his heart.
• Lamia, what means this Wherefore dost thou start?
know'st thou that man on Poor Lamia answer'd not.
He gazed into her eyes, and not a jot
Own'd they the lovelorn pitcous appeal:
More, more he gazed: his human senses reel:
Some hungry spell that loveliness absorbs;
There was no recognition in those orbs.
• Lamia' - he cried—and no soft-toned reply.
The many heard, and the loud revelry
Grew hush; the stately music no more breathes;
The myrtle sicken'd in a thousand wreaths.
By faint degrees, voice, lute, and pleasure ceased;
A deadly silence step by step increased,
Until it seem'd a horrid presence there,
And not a man but felt the terror in his hair.
• Lamia on he shriek'd; and nothing but the shriek
With its sad echo did the silence break.
• Begone, foul dream on he cried, gazing again
In the bride's face, where now no azure vein

Wander'd on fair-spaced temples; no soft bloom
Misted the cheek; no passion to illume
The deep-recessed vision —all was blight;
Lamia, no longer fair, there sat a deadly white.
“Shut, shut those juggling eyes, thou ruthless man!
Turn them aside, wretch! or the righteous ban
Of all the Gods, whose dreadful images
Here represent their shadowy presences,
May pierce them on the sudden with the thorn
Of painful blindness; leaving thee forlorn,
In trembling dotage to the feeblest fright
Of conscience, for their long offended might,
For all thine impious proud-heart sophistries,
Unlawful magic, and enticing lies.
Corinthians' look upon that grey-beard wretch!
Mark how, possess'd, his lashless eyelids stretch
Around his demon eyes! Corinthians, see!
My sweet bride withers at their potency.”
• Fool!" said the sophist, in an under-tone
Gruff with contempt; which a death-nighing moan
From Lycius answer'd, as heart-struck and lost,
He sank supine beside the aching ghost.
• Fool! Fool!» repeated he, while his eyes still
Relented not, nor moved; a from every ill
Of life have I preserved thee to this day,
And shall I see thee made a serpent's prey !
Then Lamia breathed death-breath; the sophist's eye,
Like a sharp spear, went through her utterly,
Keen, cruel, perceant, stinging: she, as well
As her weak hand could any meaning tell,
Motion'd him to be silent; vainly so,
He look'd and look'd again a level–No!
A Serpent' - echoed he; no sooner said,
Than with a frightful scream she vanished:
And Lycius' arms were empty of delight,
As were his limbs of life, from that same night.
On the high couch he lay!—his friends came round—
Supported him—no pulse, or breath they found,
And, in its marriage robe, the heavy body wound.

* - Philostratus, in his fourth book de Vita Apollonli, hath a memorable instance in this kind, which I may not omit, of one Menippus Lycius, a young man twenty-five years of age, that going betwixt Cench reas and Corinth, met such a phantasm in the habit of a fair gentlewoman, which taking him by the hand, carried him home to ber house, in the suburbs of Corinth, and told him she was a Phoenician by birth, and it he would tarry with her, he should bear her sing and play, and drink such wine as never any drank, and no man should molest him; but she, being fair and lovely, would die with him, that was fair and lovely to behold. The young man, a philosopher, otherwise staid and discreet, able to moderate his passions, though not this of love, tarried with her a while to his great content, and at last married her, to whose wedding, amongst other guests, came Apollonius; who, by some probable conjectures, found her out to be a serpent, a lamia ; and that all her furniture was, like Tantalus' gold, described by Homer, no substance but mere illusions. When she saw herself descried, *** wept, and desired Apollonius to be silent, but he would not be moved, and thereupon she, plate, house, and all that was in it, vanished ioan instant: many thousands took notice of this fact, for it was done in the midst of Greece. --Bckfox's Anatory of Melancholy, Part 3, Sect. 2, Memb. I, Subs. 1.

[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]

Into the valleys green together went.
Far wandering, they were perforce content
To sit beneath a fair lone beechen tree;
Nor at each other gazed, but leavily
Pored on its hazel cirque of shedded leaves.

Endymion unhappy! it nigh grieves Me to behold thee thus in last extreme: Enskied ere this, but truly that I deem Truth the best music in a first-born song. Thy lute-voiced brother will I sing ere long, And thou shalt aid—hast thou not aided me? Yes, moonlight Emperor! felicity Has been thy meed for many thousand years; Yet often have I, on the brink of tears,. Mourn’d as if yet thou wert a forester;Forgetting the old tale.

He did not stir His eyes from the dead leaves, or one small pulse of joy he might have felt. The spirit culls Unfaded amaranth, when wild it strays Through the old garden-ground of boyish days. A little onward ran the very stream By which he took his first soft poppy dream; And on the very bark gainst which he leant A crescent he had carved, and round it spent His skill in little stars. The teeming tree had swoll'n and green'd the pious charactery, But not ta'en out. Why, there was not a slope Up which he had not fear'd the antelope; And not a tree, beneath whose rooty shade He had not with his tamed leopards play d: Nor could an arrow light, or javelin, Fly in the air where his had never beenAnd yet he knew it not.

O treachery! why does his lady smile, pleasing her eye With all his sorrowing Ile sees her not. But who so stares on him? His sister sure! Peona of the woods!—Can she endure— Impossible—how dearly they embrace His lady smiles; delight is in her face;

It is no treachery.

« Dear brother mine!

Endymion, weep not so! Why shouldst thou pine
When all great Latmos so exalt will be?
Thank the great gods, and look not bitterly;
And speak not one pale word, and sigh no more.
Sure I will not believe thou hast such store
Of grief, to last thee to my kiss again.
Thou surely canst not bear a mind in pain,
Come hand in hand with one so beautiful.
Be happy both of you! for I will pull
The flowers of autumn for your coronals.
Pan's holy priest for young Endymion calls;
And when he is restored, thou, fairest dame,
Shalt be our queen. Now, is it not a shame
To see ye thus, not very, very sad?
Perhaps ye are too happy to be glad:
O feel as if it were a common day;
Free-voiced as one who never was away.

No tongue shall ask, whence come ye? but ye shall
Be gods of your own rest imperial.
Not even I, for one whole month, will Pry
Into the hours that have pass'd us by,
Since in my arbour I did sing to thee.
O Hermes! on this very night will be
A hymning up to Cynthia, queen of light;
For the soothsayers old saw yesternight
Good visions in the air, – whence will befal,
As say these sages, health perpetual
To shepherds and their flocks; and furthermore,
In Dian's face they read the gentle lore:
Therefore for her these vesper-carols are.
Our friends will all be there from nigh and far.
Many upon thy death have ditties made;
And many, even now, their foreheads shade
With cypress, on a day of sacrifice.
New singing for our maids shalt thou devise,
And pluck the sorrow from our huntsmen's brow-
Tell me, my lady-queen, how to espouse
This wayward brother to his rightful joys!
His eyes are on thee bent, as thou didst poise
His fate most goddess-like. Help me, I pray,
To lure—Endymion, dear brother, say
What ails thee?” He could bear no more, and so
Bent his soul fiercely like a spiritual bow,
And twang'd it inwardly, and calmly said :
• I would have thee my only friend, sweet maid”
My only visitor! not ignorant though,
That those deceptions which for pleasure go

'Mong men, are pleasures real as real may be: - - But there are higher ones I may not see,

If impiously an earthly realm I take.
Since I saw thee, I have been wide awake
Night after night, and day by day, until
Of the empyrean I have drunk my fill.
Let it content thee, Sister, seeing me
More happy than betides mortality.
A hermit young, I 'll live in mossy cave,
Where thou alone shalt come to me, and lave
Thy spirit in the wonders I shall tell.
Through me the shepherd realm shall prosper wet,
For to thy tongue will I all health confide.
And, for my sake, let this young maid abide
With thee as a dear sister. Thou alone,
Peona, mayst return to me. I own
This may sound strangely: but when, dearest girl,
Thou seest it for my happiness, no peari
Will trespass down those cheeks, Companion fau:
Wilt be content to dwell with her, to share
This sister's love with me?” Like one resign't
And bent by circumstances, and thereby blind
In self-commitment, thus that meek unknown.
• Aye, but a buzzing by my ears has flown.
Of jubilee to Dian:—truth I heard:
Well then, I see there is no little bird,
Tender soever, but is Jove's own care.
Long have 1 sought for rest, and, unaware,
Behold I find it! so exalted too !
So after my own heart! I knew, I knew
There was a place untenanted in it; -
In that same void white Chastity shall sit,
And monitor me nightly to lone slumber.
With sanest lips I vow me to the number
Of Dian's sisterhood; and, kind lady,
With thy good help, this very night shall see

i

My future days to her fane consecrate.”

As feels a dreamer what doth most create His own particular fright, so these three felt: Or like one who, in after ages, knelt To Lucifer or Baal, when he'd pine After a little sleep: or when in mine Far under-ground, a sleeper meets his friends Who know him not. Each diligently bends Tow'rds common thoughts and things for very fear; Striving their ghastly malady to cheer, By thinking it a thing of yes and no, That housewives talk of... But the spirit-blow Was struck, and all were dreamers. At the last Endymion said: • Are not our fates all cast? Why stand we here? Adieu, ye tender pair! Adieu ! - Whereat those maidens, with wild stare, Walk'd dizzily away. Pain’d and hot His eyes went after them, until they got Near to a cypress grove, whose deadly maw, In one swift moment, would what then he saw Engulf for ever. - Stay!, he cried, - ah, stay! Turn, damsels! hist! one word I have to say: Sweet Indian, I would see thee once again. It is a thing I dote on: so I'd fain, Peona, ye should hand in hand repair, Into those holy groves that silent are Behind great Dian's temple. I'll be yon, At vesper's earliest twinkle—they are gone— But once, once, once again—- At this he press'd His hands against his face, and then did rest His head upon a mossy hillock green And so remain’d as he a corpse had been All the long day; save when he scantly lifted His eyes abroad, to see how shadows shifted With the slow move of time, sluggish and weary Until the poplar tops, in journey dreary, Had reach'd the river's brim. Then up he rose, And, slowly as that very river flows, Walk'd tow'rds the temple-trove with this lament: • Why such a golden eve? The breeze is sent Careful and soft, that not a leaf may fall Before the serene father of them all Bows down his summer head below the west. Now am I of breath, speech, and speed possest, But at the setting I must bid adieu To her for the last time. Night will strew On the damp grass myriads of lingering leaves, And with them shall I die; nor much it grieves To die, when summer dies on the cold sward. Why, I have been a butterfly, a lord Of flowers, garlands, love-knots, silly posies, Groves, meadows, melodies, and arbour-roses; My kingdom's at its death, and just it is That I should die with it: so in all this We miscal grief, bale, sorrow, heart-break, woe, What is there to plain of By Titan's foe I am but rightly served.” So saying, he Tripp'd lightly on, in sort of deathful glee;

Laughing at the clear stream and setting sun,
As though they jests had been: nor had he done
His laugh at nature's holy countenance,
Until that grove appear'd, as if perchance,
And then his tongue with sober seemlihed
Gave utterance as he enter'd : « Ha!- I said,
• King of the butterflies; but by this gloom,
And by old Rhadamanthus' tongue of doom,
This dusk religion, pomp of solitude,
And the Promethean clay by thief endued,
By old Saturnus' forelock, by his head
Shook with eternal palsy, I did wed
Myself to things of light from infancy;
And thus to be cast out, thus lorn to die,
Is sure enough to make a mortal man
Grow impious." So he inwardly began
On things for which no wording can be found;
Deeper and deeper sinking, until drown'd
Beyond the reach of music: for the choir
Of Cynthia he heard not, though rough briar
Nor muffling thicket interposed to dull
The vesper hymn, far swollen, soft and full,
Through the dark pillars of those sylvan aisles.
He saw not the two maidens, nor their smiles,
Wan as primroses gather'd at midnight
By chilly-finger'd spring. Unhappy wight!
Endymion!, said Peona, “we are here!
What wouldst thou ere we all are laid on bier?”
Then he embraced her, and his lady's hand
Press'd, saying: - Sister, I would have command,
If it were heaven's will, on our sad fate.”
At which that dark-eyed stranger stood elate
And said, in a new voice, but sweet as love,
To Endymion's amaze: « By Cupid's dove,
And so thou shalt! and by the lily truth
Of my own breast thou shalt, beloved youth!»
And as she spake, into her face there came
Light, as reflected from a silver flame:
Her long black hair swell'd ampler, in display
Full golden; in her eyes a brighter day
Dawn'd blue and full of love. Aye, he beheld
Phoebe, his passion! joyous she upheld
Her lucid bow, continuing thus: • Drear, drear
Has our delaying been ; but foolish fear
Withheld me first; and then decrees of fate;
And then 't was fit that from this mortal state
Thou shouldst, my love, by some unlook'd-for change
Be spiritualized. Peona, we shall range
These forests, and to thee they safe shall be
As was thy cradle; hither shalt thou flee
To meet us many a time." Next Cynthia bright
Peona kiss'd, and bless'd with fair good night:
Her brother kiss'd her too, and knelt adown
Before his goddess, in a blissful swoon.
She gave her fair hands to him, and behold,
Before three swiftest kisses he had told,
They vanish’d far away!—Peona went
home through the gloomy wood in wonderment.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Upon a time, before the faery broods
Drove Nymph and Satyr from the prosperous woods,
Before King Oberon's bright diadem,
Sceptre, and mantle, clasp'd with dewy gem,
Frighted away the Dryads and the Fauns
From rushes green, and brakes, and cowslip'd lawns,
The ever-smitten Hermes empty left
His golden throne, bent warm on amorous theft :
From high Olympus had he stolen light,
On this side of Jove's clouds, to escape the sight
Of his great summoner, and made retreat
Into a forest on the shores of Crete.
For somewhere in that sacred island dwelt
A nymph, to whom all hoofed Satyrs knelt;
At whose white feet the languid Tritons pour'd
Pearls, while on land they wither'd and adored.
Fast by the springs where she to bathe was wont,
And in those meads where sometime she might haunt,
Were strewn rich gifts, unknown to any Muse,
Though Fancy's casket were unlock'd to chuse.
Ah, what a world of love was at her feet!
So Hermes thought, and a celestial heat
Burnt from his winged heels to either ear,
That from a whiteness, as the lily clear,
Blush'd into roses 'mid his golden hair,
Fallen in jealous curls about his shoulders bare.
From vale to vale, from wood to wood, he flew,
Breathing upon the flowers his passion new,
And wound with many a river to its head,

To find where this sweet nymph prepared hersecret bed:

In vain; the sweet nymph might nowhere be found,
And so he rested, on the lonely ground,
Pensive, and full of painful jealousies
Of the Wood-Gods, and even the very trees.
There as he stood, he heard a mournful voice,
Such as once heard, in gentle heart, destroys
All pain but pity: thus the lone voice spake:
... When from this wreathed tomb shall I awake!
When move in a sweet body fit for life,
And love, and pleasure, and the ruddy strife
Of hearts and lips! Ah, miserable me!”
The God, dove-footed, glided silently
Round bush and tree, soft-brushing, in his speed,
The taller grasses and full-slowering weed,
Until he found a palpitating snake,
Bright, and cirque-couchant in a dusky brake.

She was a gordian shape of dazzling hue, Wermilion-spotted, golden, green, and blue; Striped like a zebra, freckled like a pard, Eyed like a peacock, and all crimson barr'd; And full of silver moons, that, as she breathed, Dissolved, or brighter shone, or interwreathed Their lustres with the gloomier tapestries— So rainbow-sided, touch'd with miseries, She seem’d, at once, some penanced lady elf, Some demon's mistress, or the demon's self.

Upon her crest she wore a wannish fire
Sprinkled with stars, like Ariadne's tiar:
Her head was serpent, but all, bitter-sweet'
She had a woman's mouth with all its pearls cornpiet-
And for her eyes—what could such eyes do there
But weep, and weep, that they were born so fair"
As Proserpine still weeps for her Sicilian air.
Her throat was serpent, but thowards she spike
Came, as through bubbling honey, for Love's sake,
And thus; while Hermes on his pinions Lay,
Like a stoop'd falcon ere he takes his prey :

• Fair Hermes' crown'd with feathers, fluttering light I had a splendid dream of thee last night: I saw thee sitting, on a throne of gold, Among the Gods, upon Olympus old, The only sad one; for thou didst not hear The soft, lute-finger'd Muses chaunting clear, Nor even Apollo when he sang alone, Deaf to his throbbing throat's long, long melodious moon I dreamt I saw thee, robed in purple flakes, Break amorous through the clouds, as morning break. And, swiftly as a bright Phoebean dart, Strike for the Cretan isle; and here thou art Too gentle llermes, hast thou found the maid? Whereat the star of Lethe not delay'd His rosy eloquence, and thus inquired : • Thou smooth-lipp'd serpent, surely high inspired: Thou beauteous wreath, with melancholy eyes, Possess whatever bliss thou canst devise, Telling me only where my nymph is fled.— Where she doth breathe'' - Bright planet, thou ha

said,”

Return'd the snake, - but seal with oaths, fair God:.
• I swear," said Hermes, “ by my serpent rod,
And by thine eyes, and by thy starry crown'.
Light flew his earnest words, among the blossoms bloor-
Then thus again the brilliance feminine:
• Too frail of heart! for this lost nymph of thior.
Free as the air, invisibly, she strays
About these thornless wilds; her pleasant days
She tastes unseen; unseen her nimble feet
Leave traces in the grass and lowers sweer:
From weary tendrils, and bow'd branches greer.
She plucks the fruit unseen, she bathes unseen :
And by my power is her beauty veil'd
To keep it unaffronted, unassail'd
By the love-glances of unlovely eyes,
Of Satyrs, Fauns, and blear'd Silenus' sighs.
Pale grew her immortality, for woe
Of all these lovers, and she grieved so
I took compassion on her, bade her steep
Her hair in weird syrops, that would keep
Her loveliness invisible, yet free
To wander as she loves, in liberty.
Thou shalt behold her, Hermes, thou alone,
If thou wilt, as thou swearest, grant my boon"-
Then, once again, the charmed God began
An oath, and through the serpent's ears it ran
Warm, tremulous, devout, psalterian.

[graphic]

Ravish'd she lifted her Circean head,
Blush'd a live damask, and swift-lisping said,
• I was a woman, let me have once more
A woman's shape, and charming as before.
I love a youth of Corinth—O the bliss!
Give me my woman's form, and place me where he is.
Stoop, Hermes, let me breathe upon thy brow,
And thou shalt see thy sweet nymph even now."
The God on half-shut feathers sank serene,
She breathed upon his eyes, and swift was seen
Of both the guarded nymph near-smiling on the green.
It was no dream; or say a dream it was,
Real are the dreams of Gods, and smoothly pass
Their pleasures in a long in mortal dream.
One warm, flush'd moment, hovering, it might seem
Dash'd by the wood-nymph's beauty, so he burn'd;
Then, lighting on the printless verdure, turn'd
To the swoon'd serpent, and with languid arm,
Delicate, put to proof the lythe Caducean charm.
So done, upon the nymph his eyes he bent
Full of adoring tears and blandishment,
And towards her stept: she, like a moon in wane,
Faded before him, cower'd, nor could restrain
Her fearful sobs, self-folding like a flower
That faints into itself at evening hour:
But the God fostering her chilled hand,
She felt the warmth, her eyelids open'd bland,
And, like new flowers at morning song of bees,
Bloom'd, and gave up her honey to the lees.
Into the green-recessed woods they flew;
Nor grew they pale, as mortal lovers do.

Left to herself, the serpent now began To change; her elfin blood in madness ran, Her mouth foan'd, and the grass, therewith besprent, Wither'd at dew so sweet and virulent; Her eyes in torture fix'd, and anguish drear, Hot, glazed, and wide, with lid-lashes all sear, Flash'd phosphor and sharp sparks, without one cooling

tear.

The colours all inflamed throughout her train,
She writhed about, convulsed with scarlet pain :
A deep volcanian yellow took the place
Of all her milder-mooned body's grace;
And, as the lava ravishes the mead,
Spoilt all her silver mail, and golden brede:
Made gloom of all her frecklings, streaks and bars,
Eclipsed her crescents, and lick'd up her stars:
So that, in moments few, she was undrest
Of all her sapphires, greens, and amethyst,
And rubious-argent : of all these bereft,
Nothing but pain and ugliness were left.
Still shone her crown; that vanish'd, also she
Melted and disappear'd as suddenly;
And in the air, her new voice luting soft,
Cricq, - Lycius' gentle Lycius!”—Borne aloft
With the bright mists about the mountains hoar
These words dissolved : Crete's forests heard no more.

Whither fled Lamia, now a lady bright, A full-born beauty new and exquisite? She fled into that valley they pass o'er who go to Corinth from Cench reas shore; And rested at the foot of those wild hills, The rubbed founts of the Peraean rills,

And of that other ridge whose barren back
Stretches, with all its mist and cloudy rack,
South-westward to Cleone. There she stood
About a young bird's flutter from a wood,
Fair, on a sloping green of mossy tread,
By a clear pool, wherein she passioned
To see herself escaped from so sore ills,
While her robes flaunted with the daffodils.

Ah, happy Lycius!—for she was a maid
More beautiful than ever twisted braid,
Or sigh'd, or blush'd, or on spring-flowered lea
Spread a green kirtle to the minstrelsy :
A virgin purest lipp'd, yet in the lore
Of love deep learned to the red heart's core :
Not one hour old, yet of sciential brain
To unperplex bliss from its neighbour pain;
Define their pettish limits, and estrange
Their points of contact, and swift counterchange;
Intrigue with the specious chaos, and dispart
Its most ambiguous atoms with sure art;
As though in Cupid's college she had spent
Sweet days a lovely graduate, still unshent,
And kept his rosy terms in idle languishment.

Why this fair creature chose so fairily By the wayside to linger, we shall see; But first "t is fit to tell how she could muse And dream, when in the serpent prison-house, Of all she list, strange or magnificent: How, ever, where she will d, her spirit went; Whether to faint Elysium, or where Down through tress-lifting waves the Nereids fair Wind into Thetis' bower by many a pearly stair; Or where God Bacchus drains his cups divine, Stretch'd out, at ease, beneath a glutinous pine; Or where in Pluto's gardens palatine Mulciber's columns gleam in far piazzian line. And sometimes into cities she would send Her dream, with feast and rioting to blend; And once, while among mortals dreaming thus, She saw the young Corinthian Lycius Charioting foremost in the envious race, Like a young Jove with calm uneager face, And fell into a swooning love of him. Now on the moth-time of that evening dim He would return that way, as well she knew, To Corinth from the shore; for freshly blew The eastern soft wind, and his galley now Grated the quay-stones with her brazen prow In port Cenchreas, from Egina isle Fresh anchord; whither he had been awhile To sacrifice to Jove, whose temple there

waits with high marble doors for blood and incense rare.

Jove heard his vows, and better'd his desire;
For by some freakful chance he made retire
From his companions, and set forth to walk,
Perhaps grown wearied of their Corinth talk:
Over the solitary hills he fared,
Thoughtless at first, but ere eve's star appeared
His phantasy was lost, where reason fades,
In the calm'd twilight of Platonic shades.
Lamia beheld him coming, near, more near-
Close to her passing, in indifference drear,
His silent sandals swept the mossy green;
So neighbour'd to him, and yet so unseen

« ПредишнаНапред »