Poems by George Meredith - Volume 1
[This etext was prepared from the 1912 Times Book Club "Surrey Edition" by David Price]
Chillanwallah, Chillanwallah! Where our brothers fought and bled, O thy name is natural music And a dirge above the dead! Though we have not been defeated, Though we can't be overcome, Still, whene'er thou art repeated, I would fain that grief were dumb.
Chillianwallah, Chillianwallah! 'Tis a name so sad and strange, Like a breeze through midnight harpstrings Ringing many a mournful change; But the wildness and the sorrow Have a meaning of their own - Oh, whereof no glad to-morrow Can relieve the dismal tone!
Chillianwallah, Chillianwallah! 'Tis a village dark and low, By the bloody Jhelum river Bridged by the foreboding foe; And across the wintry water He is ready to retreat, When the carnage and the slaughter Shall have paid for his defeat.
Chillianwallah, Chillianwallah! 'Tis a wild and dreary plain, Strewn with plots of thickest jungle, Matted with the gory stain. There the murder-mouthed artillery, In the deadly ambuscade, Wrought the thunder of its treachery On the skeleton brigade.
Chillianwallah, Chillianwallah! When the night set in with rain, Came the savage plundering devils To their work among the slain; And the wounded and the dying In cold blood did share the doom Of their comrades round them lying, Stiff in the dead skyless gloom.
Chillianwallah, Chillianwallah! Thou wilt be a doleful chord, And a mystic note of mourning That will need no chiming word; And that heart will leap with anguish Who may understand thee best; But the hopes of all will languish Till thy memory is at rest.
THE DOE: A FRAGMENT (From 'WANDERING WILLIE')
And—'Yonder look! yoho! yoho! Nancy is off!' the farmer cried, Advancing by the river side, Red-kerchieft and brown-coated;—'So, My girl, who else could leap like that? So neatly! like a lady! 'Zounds! Look at her how she leads the hounds!' And waving his dusty beaver hat, He cheered across the chase-filled water, And clapt his arm about his daughter, And gave to Joan a courteous hug, And kiss that, like a stubborn plug From generous vats in vastness rounded, The inner wealth and spirit sounded: Eagerly pointing South, where, lo, The daintiest, fleetest-footed doe Led o'er the fields and thro' the furze Beyond: her lively delicate ears Prickt up erect, and in her track A dappled lengthy-striding pack.
Scarce had they cast eyes upon her, When every heart was wagered on her, And half in dread, and half delight, They watched her lovely bounding flight; As now across the flashing green, And now beneath the stately trees, And now far distant in the dene, She headed on with graceful ease: Hanging aloft with doubled knees, At times athwart some hedge or gate; And slackening pace by slow degrees, As for the foremost foe to wait. Renewing her outstripping rate Whene'er the hot pursuers neared, By garden wall and paled estate, Where clambering gazers whooped and cheered. Here winding under elm and oak, And slanting up the sunny hill: Splashing the water here like smoke Among the mill-holms round the mill.
And—'Let her go; she shows her game, My Nancy girl, my pet and treasure!' The farmer sighed: his eyes with pleasure Brimming: ''Tis my daughter's name, My second daughter lying yonder.' And Willie's eye in search did wander, And caught at once, with moist regard, The white gleams of a grey churchyard. 'Three weeks before my girl had gone, And while upon her pillows propped, She lay at eve; the weakling fawn - For still it seems a fawn just dropt A se'nnight—to my Nancy's bed I brought to make my girl a gift: The mothers of them both were dead: And both to bless it was my drift, By giving each a friend; not thinking How rapidly my girl was sinking. And I remember how, to pat Its neck, she stretched her hand so weak, And its cold nose against her cheek Pressed fondly: and I fetched the mat To make it up a couch just by her, Where in the lone dark hours to lie: For neither dear old nurse nor I Would any single wish deny her. And there unto the last it lay; And in the pastures cared to play Little or nothing: there its meals And milk I brought: and even now The creature such affection feels For that old room that, when and how, 'Tis strange to mark, it slinks and steals To get there, and all day conceals. And once when nurse who, since that time, Keeps house for me, was very sick, Waking upon the midnight chime, And listening to the stair-clock's click, I heard a rustling, half uncertain, Close against the dark bed-curtain: And while I thrust my leg to kick, And feel the phantom with my feet, A loving tongue began to lick My left hand lying on the sheet; And warm sweet breath upon me blew, And that 'twas Nancy then I knew. So, for her love, I had good cause To have the creature "Nancy" christened.'
He paused, and in the moment's pause, His eyes and Willie's strangely glistened. Nearer came Joan, and Bessy hung With face averted, near enough To hear, and sob unheard; the young And careless ones had scampered off Meantime, and sought the loftiest place To beacon the approaching chase.
'Daily upon the meads to browse, Goes Nancy with those dairy cows You see behind the clematis: And such a favourite she is, That when fatigued, and helter skelter, Among them from her foes to shelter, She dashes when the chase is over, They'll close her in and give her cover, And bend their horns against the hounds, And low, and keep them out of bounds! From the house dogs she dreads no harm, And is good friends with all the farm, Man, and bird, and beast, howbeit Their natures seem so opposite. And she is known for many a mile, And noted for her splendid style, For her clear leap and quick slight hoof; Welcome she is in many a roof. And if I say, I love her, man! I say but little: her fine eyes full Of memories of my girl, at Yule And May-time, make her dearer than Dumb brute to men has been, I think. So dear I do not find her dumb. I know her ways, her slightest wink, So well; and to my hand she'll come, Sidelong, for food or a caress, Just like a loving human thing. Nor can I help, I do confess, Some touch of human sorrowing To think there may be such a doubt That from the next world she'll be shut out, And parted from me! And well I mind How, when my girl's last moments came, Her soft eyes very soft and kind, She joined her hands and prayed the same, That she "might meet her father, mother, Sister Bess, and each dear brother, And with them, if it might be, one Who was her last companion." Meaning the fawn—the doe you mark - For my bay mare was then a foal, And time has passed since then:- but hark!'
For like the shrieking of a soul Shut in a tomb, a darkened cry Of inward-wailing agony Surprised them, and all eyes on each Fixed in the mute-appealing speech Of self-reproachful apprehension: Knowing not what to think or do: But Joan, recovering first, broke through The instantaneous suspension, And knelt upon the ground, and guessed The bitterness at a glance, and pressed Into the comfort of her breast The deep-throed quaking shape that drooped In misery's wilful aggravation, Before the farmer as he stooped, Touched with accusing consternation: Soothing her as she sobbed aloud:- 'Not me! not me! Oh, no, no, no! Not me! God will not take me in! Nothing can wipe away my sin! I shall not see her: you will go; You and all that she loves so: Not me! not me! Oh, no, no, no!' Colourless, her long black hair, Like seaweed in a tempest tossed Tangling astray, to Joan's care She yielded like a creature lost: Yielded, drooping toward the ground, As doth a shape one half-hour drowned, And heaved from sea with mast and spar, All dark of its immortal star. And on that tender heart, inured To flatter basest grief, and fight Despair upon the brink of night, She suffered herself to sink, assured Of refuge; and her ear inclined To comfort; and her thoughts resigned To counsel; her wild hair let brush From off her weeping brows; and shook With many little sobs that took Deeper-drawn breaths, till into sighs, Long sighs, they sank; and to the 'hush!' Of Joan's gentle chide, she sought Childlike to check them as she ought, Looking up at her infantwise. And Willie, gazing on them both, Shivered with bliss through blood and brain, To see the darling of his troth Like a maternal angel strain The sinful and the sinless child At once on either breast, and there In peace and promise reconciled Unite them: nor could Nature's care With subtler sweet beneficence Have fed the springs of penitence, Still keeping true, though harshly tried, The vital prop of human pride.
BEAUTY ROHTRAUT (From Moricke)
What is the name of King Ringang's daughter? Rohtraut, Beauty Rohtraut! And what does she do the livelong day, Since she dare not knit and spin alway? O hunting and fishing is ever her play! And, heigh! that her huntsman I might be! I'd hunt and fish right merrily! Be silent, heart!
And it chanced that, after this some time, - Rohtraut, Beauty Rohtraut, - The boy in the Castle has gained access, And a horse he has got and a huntsman's dress, To hunt and to fish with the merry Princess; And, O! that a king's son I might be! Beauty Rohtraut I love so tenderly. Hush! hush! my heart.
Under a grey old oak they sat, Beauty, Beauty Rohtraut! She laughs: 'Why look you so slyly at me? If you have heart enough, come, kiss me.' Cried the breathless boy, 'kiss thee?' But he thinks, kind fortune has favoured my youth; And thrice he has kissed Beauty Rohtraut's mouth. Down! down! mad heart.
Then slowly and silently they rode home, - Rohtraut, Beauty Rohtraut! The boy was lost in his delight: 'And, wert thou Empress this very night, I would not heed or feel the blight; Ye thousand leaves of the wild wood wist How Beauty Rohtraut's mouth I kiss'd. Hush! hush! wild heart.'
THE OLIVE BRANCH
A dove flew with an Olive Branch; It crossed the sea and reached the shore, And on a ship about to launch Dropped down the happy sign it bore.
'An omen' rang the glad acclaim! The Captain stooped and picked it up, 'Be then the Olive Branch her name,' Cried she who flung the christening cup.
The vessel took the laughing tides; It was a joyous revelry To see her dashing from her sides The rough, salt kisses of the sea.
And forth into the bursting foam She spread her sail and sped away, The rolling surge her restless home, Her incense wreaths the showering spray.
Far out, and where the riot waves Run mingling in tumultuous throngs, She danced above a thousand graves, And heard a thousand briny songs.
Her mission with her manly crew, Her flag unfurl'd, her title told, She took the Old World to the New, And brought the New World to the Old.
Secure of friendliest welcomings, She swam the havens sheening fair; Secure upon her glad white wings, She fluttered on the ocean air.
To her no more the bastioned fort Shot out its swarthy tongue of fire; From bay to bay, from port to port, Her coming was the world's desire.
And tho' the tempest lashed her oft, And tho' the rocks had hungry teeth, And lightnings split the masts aloft, And thunders shook the planks beneath,
And tho' the storm, self-willed and blind, Made tatters of her dauntless sail, And all the wildness of the wind Was loosed on her, she did not fail;
But gallantly she ploughed the main, And gloriously her welcome pealed, And grandly shone to sky and plain The goodly bales her decks revealed;
Brought from the fruitful eastern glebes Where blow the gusts of balm and spice, Or where the black blockaded ribs Are jammed 'mongst ghostly fleets of ice,
Or where upon the curling hills Glow clusters of the bright-eyed grape, Or where the hand of labour drills The stubbornness of earth to shape;
Rich harvestings and wealthy germs, And handicrafts and shapely wares, And spinnings of the hermit worms, And fruits that bloom by lions' lairs.
Come, read the meaning of the deep! The use of winds and waters learn! 'Tis not to make the mother weep For sons that never will return;
'Tis not to make the nations show Contempt for all whom seas divide; 'Tis not to pamper war and woe, Nor feed traditionary pride;
'Tis not to make the floating bulk Mask death upon its slippery deck, Itself in turn a shattered hulk, A ghastly raft, a bleeding wreck.
It is to knit with loving lip The interests of land to land; To join in far-seen fellowship The tropic and the polar strand.
It is to make that foaming Strength Whose rebel forces wrestle still Thro' all his boundaried breadth and length Become a vassal to our will.
It is to make the various skies, And all the various fruits they vaunt, And all the dowers of earth we prize, Subservient to our household want.
And more, for knowledge crowns the gain Of intercourse with other souls, And Wisdom travels not in vain The plunging spaces of the poles.
The wild Atlantic's weltering gloom, Earth-clasping seas of North and South, The Baltic with its amber spume, The Caspian with its frozen mouth;
The broad Pacific, basking bright, And girdling lands of lustrous growth, Vast continents and isles of light, Dumb tracts of undiscovered sloth;
She visits these, traversing each; They ripen to the common sun; Thro' diverse forms and different speech, The world's humanity is one.
O may her voice have power to say How soon the wrecking discords cease, When every wandering wave is gay With golden argosies of peace!
Now when the ark of human fate, Long baffled by the wayward wind, Is drifting with its peopled freight, Safe haven on the heights to find;
Safe haven from the drowning slime Of evil deeds and Deluge wrath; - To plant again the foot of Time Upon a purer, firmer path;
'Tis now the hour to probe the ground, To watch the Heavens, to speak the word, The fathoms of the deep to sound, And send abroad the missioned bird,
On strengthened wing for evermore, Let Science, swiftly as she can, Fly seaward on from shore to shore, And bind the links of man to man;
And like that fair propitious Dove Bless future fleets about to launch; Make every freight a freight of love, And every ship an Olive Branch.
Love within the lover's breast Burns like Hesper in the west, O'er the ashes of the sun, Till the day and night are done; Then when dawn drives up her car - Lo! it is the morning star.
Love! thy love pours down on mine As the sunlight on the vine, As the snow-rill on the vale, As the salt breeze in the sail; As the song unto the bird, On my lips thy name is heard.
As a dewdrop on the rose In thy heart my passion glows, As a skylark to the sky Up into thy breast I fly; As a sea-shell of the sea Ever shall I sing of thee.
THE WILD ROSE AND THE SNOWDROP
The Snowdrop is the prophet of the flowers; It lives and dies upon its bed of snows; And like a thought of spring it comes and goes, Hanging its head beside our leafless bowers. The sun's betrothing kiss it never knows, Nor all the glowing joy of golden showers; But ever in a placid, pure repose, More like a spirit with its look serene, Droops its pale cheek veined thro' with infant green.
Queen of her sisters is the sweet Wild Rose, Sprung from the earnest sun and ripe young June; The year's own darling and the Summer's Queen! Lustrous as the new-throned crescent moon. Much of that early prophet look she shows, Mixed with her fair espoused blush which glows, As if the ethereal fairy blood were seen; Like a soft evening over sunset snows, Half twilight violet shade, half crimson sheen.
Twin-born are both in beauteousness, most fair In all that glads the eye and charms the air; In all that wakes emotions in the mind And sows sweet sympathies for human kind. Twin-born, albeit their seasons are apart, They bloom together in the thoughtful heart; Fair symbols of the marvels of our state, Mute speakers of the oracles of fate!
For each, fulfilling nature's law, fulfils Itself and its own aspirations pure; Living and dying; letting faith ensure New life when deathless Spring shall touch the hills. Each perfect in its place; and each content With that perfection which its being meant: Divided not by months that intervene, But linked by all the flowers that bud between. Forever smiling thro' its season brief, The one in glory and the one in grief: Forever painting to our museful sight, How lowlihead and loveliness unite.
Born from the first blind yearning of the earth To be a mother and give happy birth, Ere yet the northern sun such rapture brings, Lo, from her virgin breast the Snowdrop springs; And ere the snows have melted from the grass, And not a strip of greensward doth appear, Save the faint prophecy its cheeks declare, Alone, unkissed, unloved, behold it pass! While in the ripe enthronement of the year, Whispering the breeze, and wedding the rich air With her so sweet, delicious bridal breath, - Odorous and exquisite beyond compare, And starr'd with dews upon her forehead clear, Fresh-hearted as a Maiden Queen should be Who takes the land's devotion as her fee, - The Wild Rose blooms, all summer for her dower, Nature's most beautiful and perfect flower.
THE DEATH OF WINTER
When April with her wild blue eye Comes dancing over the grass, And all the crimson buds so shy Peep out to see her pass; As lightly she loosens her showery locks And flutters her rainy wings; Laughingly stoops To the glass of the stream, And loosens and loops Her hair by the gleam, While all the young villagers blithe as the flocks Go frolicking round in rings; - Then Winter, he who tamed the fly, Turns on his back and prepares to die, For he cannot live longer under the sky.
Down the valleys glittering green, Down from the hills in snowy rills, He melts between the border sheen And leaps the flowery verges! He cannot choose but brighten their hues, And tho' he would creep, he fain must leap, For the quick Spring spirit urges. Down the vale and down the dale He leaps and lights, till his moments fail, Buried in blossoms red and pale, While the sweet birds sing his dirges!
O Winter! I'd live that life of thine, With a frosty brow and an icicle tongue, And never a song my whole life long, - Were such delicious burial mine! To die and be buried, and so remain A wandering brook in April's train, Fixing my dying eyes for aye On the dawning brows of maiden May.
The moon is alone in the sky As thou in my soul; The sea takes her image to lie Where the white ripples roll All night in a dream, With the light of her beam, Hushedly, mournfully, mistily up to the shore. The pebbles speak low In the ebb and the flow, As I when thy voice came at intervals, tuned to adore: Nought other stirred Save my heart all unheard Beating to bliss that is past evermore.
A wicked man is bad enough on earth; But O the baleful lustre of a chief Once pledged in tyranny! O star of dearth Darkly illumining a nation's grief! How many men have worn thee on their brows! Alas for them and us! God's precious gift Of gracious dispensation got by theft - The damning form of false unholy vows! The thief of God and man must have his fee: And thou, John Lackland, despicable prince - Basest of England's banes before or since! Thrice traitor, coward, thief! O thou shalt be The historic warning, trampled and abhorr'd Who dared to steal and stain the symbols of the Lord!
THE SLEEPING CITY
A Princess in the eastern tale Paced thro' a marble city pale, And saw in ghastly shapes of stone The sculptured life she breathed alone;
Saw, where'er her eye might range, Herself the only child of change; And heard her echoed footfall chime Between Oblivion and Time;
And in the squares where fountains played, And up the spiral balustrade, Along the drowsy corridors, Even to the inmost sleeping floors,
Surveyed in wonder chilled with dread The seemingness of Death, not dead; Life's semblance but without its storm, And silence frosting every form;
Crowned figures, cold and grouping slaves, Like suddenly arrested waves About to sink, about to rise, - Strange meaning in their stricken eyes;
And cloths and couches live with flame Of leopards fierce and lions tame, And hunters in the jungle reed, Thrown out by sombre glowing brede;
Dumb chambers hushed with fold on fold, And cumbrous gorgeousness of gold; White casements o'er embroidered seats, Looking on solitudes of streets, -
On palaces and column'd towers, Unconscious of the stony hours; Harsh gateways startled at a sound, With burning lamps all burnish'd round; -
Surveyed in awe this wealth and state, Touched by the finger of a Fate, And drew with slow-awakening fear The sternness of the atmosphere; -
And gradually, with stealthier foot, Became herself a thing as mute, And listened,—while with swift alarm Her alien heart shrank from the charm;
Yet as her thoughts dilating rose, Took glory in the great repose, And over every postured form Spread lava-like and brooded warm, -
And fixed on every frozen face Beheld the record of its race, And in each chiselled feature knew The stormy life that once blushed thro'; -
The ever-present of the past There written; all that lightened last, Love, anguish, hope, disease, despair, Beauty and rage, all written there; -
Enchanted Passions! whose pale doom Is never flushed by blight or bloom, But sentinelled by silent orbs, Whose light the pallid scene absorbs. -
Like such a one I pace along This City with its sleeping throng; Like her with dread and awe, that turns To rapture, and sublimely yearns; -
For now the quiet stars look down On lights as quiet as their own; The streets that groaned with traffic show As if with silence paved below;
The latest revellers are at peace, The signs of in-door tumult cease, From gay saloon and low resort, Comes not one murmur or report:
The clattering chariot rolls not by, The windows show no waking eye, The houses smoke not, and the air Is clear, and all the midnight fair.
The centre of the striving world, Round which the human fate is curled, To which the future crieth wild, - Is pillowed like a cradled child.
The palace roof that guards a crown, The mansion swathed in dreamy down, Hovel, court, and alley-shed, Sleep in the calmness of the dead.
Now while the many-motived heart Lies hushed—fireside and busy mart, And mortal pulses beat the tune That charms the calm cold ear o' the moon
Whose yellowing crescent down the West Leans listening, now when every breast Its basest or its purest heaves, The soul that joys, the soul that grieves; -
While Fame is crowning happy brows That day will blindly scorn, while vows Of anguished love, long hidden, speak From faltering tongue and flushing cheek
The language only known to dreams, Rich eloquence of rosy themes! While on the Beauty's folded mouth Disdain just wrinkles baby youth;
While Poverty dispenses alms To outcasts, bread, and healing balms; While old Mammon knows himself The greatest beggar for his pelf;
While noble things in darkness grope, The Statesman's aim, the Poet's hope; The Patriot's impulse gathers fire, And germs of future fruits aspire; -
Now while dumb nature owns its links, And from one common fountain drinks, Methinks in all around I see This Picture in Eternity; -
A marbled City planted there With all its pageants and despair; A peopled hush, a Death not dead, But stricken with Medusa's head; -
And in the Gorgon's glance for aye The lifeless immortality Reveals in sculptured calmness all Its latest life beyond recall.
THE POETRY OF CHAUCER
Grey with all honours of age! but fresh-featured and ruddy As dawn when the drowsy farm-yard has thrice heard Chaunticlere. Tender to tearfulness—childlike, and manly, and motherly; Here beats true English blood richest joyance on sweet English ground.
THE POETRY OF SPENSER
Lakes where the sunsheen is mystic with splendour and softness; Vales where sweet life is all Summer with golden romance: Forests that glimmer with twilight round revel-bright palaces; Here in our May-blood we wander, careering 'mongst ladies and knights.
THE POETRY OF SHAKESPEARE
Picture some Isle smiling green 'mid the white-foaming ocean; - Full of old woods, leafy wisdoms, and frolicsome fays; Passions and pageants; sweet love singing bird-like above it; Life in all shapes, aims, and fates, is there warm'd by one great human heart.
THE POETRY OF MILTON
Like to some deep-chested organ whose grand inspiration, Serenely majestic in utterance, lofty and calm, Interprets to mortals with melody great as its burthen The mystical harmonies chiming for ever throughout the bright spheres.
THE POETRY OF SOUTHEY
Keen as an eagle whose flight towards the dim empyrean Fearless of toil or fatigue ever royally wends! Vast in the cloud-coloured robes of the balm-breathing Orient Lo! the grand Epic advances, unfolding the humanest truth.
THE POETRY OF COLERIDGE
A brook glancing under green leaves, self-delighting, exulting, And full of a gurgling melody ever renewed - Renewed thro' all changes of Heaven, unceasing in sunlight, Unceasing in moonlight, but hushed in the beams of the holier orb.
THE POETRY OF SHELLEY
See'st thou a Skylark whose glistening winglets ascending Quiver like pulses beneath the melodious dawn? Deep in the heart-yearning distance of heaven it flutters - Wisdom and beauty and love are the treasures it brings down at eve.
THE POETRY OF WORDSWORTH
A breath of the mountains, fresh born in the regions majestic, That look with their eye-daring summits deep into the sky. The voice of great Nature; sublime with her lofty conceptions, Yet earnest and simple as any sweet child of the green lowly vale.
THE POETRY OF KEATS
The song of a nightingale sent thro' a slumbrous valley, Low-lidded with twilight, and tranced with the dolorous sound, Tranced with a tender enchantment; the yearning of passion That wins immortality even while panting delirious with death.
Violets, shy violets! How many hearts with you compare! Who hide themselves in thickest green, And thence, unseen, Ravish the enraptured air With sweetness, dewy fresh and rare!
Violets, shy violets! Human hearts to me shall be Viewless violets in the grass, And as I pass, Odours and sweet imagery Will wait on mine and gladden me!
Angelic love that stoops with heavenly lips To meet its earthly mate; Heroic love that to its sphere's eclipse Can dare to join its fate With one beloved devoted human heart, And share with it the passion and the smart, The undying bliss Of its most fleeting kiss; The fading grace Of its most sweet embrace:- Angelic love, heroic love! Whose birth can only be above, Whose wandering must be on earth, Whose haven where it first had birth! Love that can part with all but its own worth, And joy in every sacrifice That beautifies its Paradise! And gently, like a golden-fruited vine, With earnest tenderness itself consign, And creeping up deliriously entwine Its dear delicious arms Round the beloved being! With fair unfolded charms, All-trusting, and all-seeing, - Grape-laden with full bunches of young wine! While to the panting heart's dry yearning drouth Buds the rich dewy mouth - Tenderly uplifted, Like two rose-leaves drifted Down in a long warm sigh of the sweet South! Such love, such love is thine, Such heart is mine, O thou of mortal visions most divine!
Know you the low pervading breeze That softly sings In the trembling leaves of twilight trees, As if the wind were dreaming on its wings? And have you marked their still degrees Of ebbing melody, like the strings Of a silver harp swept by a spirit's hand In some strange glimmering land, 'Mid gushing springs, And glistenings Of waters and of planets, wild and grand! And have you marked in that still time The chariots of those shining cars Brighten upon the hushing dark, And bent to hark That Voice, amid the poplar and the lime, Pause in the dilating lustre Of the spheral cluster; Pause but to renew its sweetness, deep As dreams of heaven to souls that sleep! And felt, despite earth's jarring wars, When day is done And dead the sun, Still a voice divine can sing, Still is there sympathy can bring A whisper from the stars! Ah, with this sentience quickly will you know How like a tree I tremble to the tones Of your sweet voice! How keenly I rejoice When in me with sweet motions slow The spiritual music ebbs and moans - Lives in the lustre of those heavenly eyes, Dies in the light of its own paradise, - Dies, and relives eternal from its death, Immortal melodies in each deep breath; Sweeps thro' my being, bearing up to thee Myself, the weight of its eternity; Till, nerved to life from its ordeal fire, It marries music with the human lyre, Blending divine delight with loveliest desire.
Where faces are hueless, where eyelids are dewless, Where passion is silent and hearts never crave; Where thought hath no theme, and where sleep hath no dream, In patience and peace thou art gone—to thy grave! Gone where no warning can wake thee to morning, Dead tho' a thousand hands stretch'd out to save.
Thou cam'st to us sighing, and singing and dying, How could it be otherwise, fair as thou wert? Placidly fading, and sinking and shading At last to that shadow, the latest desert; Wasting and waning, but still, still remaining. Alas for the hand that could deal the death-hurt!
The Summer that brightens, the Winter that whitens, The world and its voices, the sea and the sky, The bloom of creation, the tie of relation, All—all is a blank to thine ear and thine eye; The ear may not listen, the eye may not glisten, Nevermore waked by a smile or a sigh.
The tree that is rootless must ever be fruitless; And thou art alone in thy death and thy birth; No last loving token of wedded love broken, No sign of thy singleness, sweetness and worth; Lost as the flower that is drowned in the shower, Fall'n like a snowflake to melt in the earth.
THE FLOWER OF THE RUINS
Take thy lute and sing By the ruined castle walls, Where the torrent-foam falls, And long weeds wave: Take thy lute and sing, O'er the grey ancestral grave! Daughter of a King, Tune thy string.
Sing of happy hours, In the roar of rushing time; Till all the echoes chime To the days gone by; Sing of passing hours To the ever-present sky; - Weep—and let the showers Wake thy flowers.
Sing of glories gone:- No more the blazoned fold From the banner is unrolled; The gold sun is set. Sing his glory gone, For thy voice may charm him yet; Daughter of the dawn, He is gone!
Pour forth all thy grief! Passionately sweep the chords, Wed them quivering to thy words; Wild words of wail! Shed thy withered grief - But hold not Autumn to thy bale; The eddy of the leaf Must be brief!
Sing up to the night: Hard it is for streaming tears To read the calmness of the spheres; Coldly they shine; Sing up to their light; They have views thou may'st divine - Gain prophetic sight From their light!
On the windy hills Lo, the little harebell leans On the spire-grass that it queens, With bonnet blue; Trusting love instils Love and subject reverence true; Learn what love instils On the hills!
By the bare wayside Placid snowdrops hang their cheeks, Softly touch'd with pale green streaks, Soon, soon, to die; On the clothed hedgeside Bands of rosy beauties vie, In their prophesied Summer pride.
From the snowdrop learn; Not in her pale life lives she, But in her blushing prophecy. Thus be thy hopes, Living but to yearn Upwards to the hidden scopes; - Even within the urn Let them burn!
Heroes of thy race - Warriors with golden crowns, Ghostly shapes with marbled frowns Stare thee to stone; Matrons of thy race Pass before thee making moan; Full of solemn grace Is their pace.
Piteous their despair! Piteous their looks forlorn! Terrible their ghostly scorn! Still hold thou fast; - Heed not their despair! - Thou art thy future, not thy past; Let them glance and glare Thro' the air.
Thou the ruin's bud, Be not that moist rich-smelling weed With its arras-sembled brede, And ruin-haunting stalk; Thou the ruin's bud, Be still the rose that lights the walk, Mix thy fragrant blood With the flood!
THE RAPE OF AURORA
Never, O never, Since dewy sweet Flora Was ravished by Zephyr, Was such a thing heard In the valleys so hollow! Till rosy Aurora, Uprising as ever, Bright Phosphor to follow, Pale Phoebe to sever, Was caught like a bird To the breast of Apollo!
Wildly she flutters, And flushes all over With passionate mutters Of shame to the hush Of his amorous whispers: But O such a lover Must win when he utters, Thro' rosy red lispers, The pains that discover The wishes that gush From the torches of Hesperus.
One finger just touching The Orient chamber, Unflooded the gushing Of light that illumed All her lustrous unveiling. On clouds of glow amber, Her limbs richly blushing, She lay sweetly wailing, In odours that gloomed On the God as he bloomed O'er her loveliness paling.
Great Pan in his covert Beheld the rare glistening, The cry of the love-hurt, The sigh and the kiss Of the latest close mingling; But love, thought he, listening, Will not do a dove hurt, I know,—and a tingling, Latent with bliss, Prickt thro' him, I wis, For the Nymph he was singling.
SOUTH-WEST WIND IN THE WOODLAND
The silence of preluded song - AEolian silence charms the woods; Each tree a harp, whose foliaged strings Are waiting for the master's touch To sweep them into storms of joy, Stands mute and whispers not; the birds Brood dumb in their foreboding nests, Save here and there a chirp or tweet, That utters fear or anxious love, Or when the ouzel sends a swift Half warble, shrinking back again His golden bill, or when aloud The storm-cock warns the dusking hills And villages and valleys round: For lo, beneath those ragged clouds That skirt the opening west, a stream Of yellow light and windy flame Spreads lengthening southward, and the sky Begins to gloom, and o'er the ground A moan of coming blasts creeps low And rustles in the crisping grass; Till suddenly with mighty arms Outspread, that reach the horizon round, The great South-West drives o'er the earth, And loosens all his roaring robes Behind him, over heath and moor. He comes upon the neck of night, Like one that leaps a fiery steed Whose keen black haunches quivering shine With eagerness and haste, that needs No spur to make the dark leagues fly! Whose eyes are meteors of speed; Whose mane is as a flashing foam; Whose hoofs are travelling thunder-shocks; - He comes, and while his growing gusts, Wild couriers of his reckless course, Are whistling from the daggered gorse, And hurrying over fern and broom, Midway, far off, he feigns to halt And gather in his streaming train.
Now, whirring like an eagle's wing Preparing for a wide blue flight; Now, flapping like a sail that tacks And chides the wet bewildered mast; Now, screaming like an anguish'd thing Chased close by some down-breathing beak; Now, wailing like a breaking heart, That will not wholly break, but hopes With hope that knows itself in vain; Now, threatening like a storm-charged cloud; Now, cooing like a woodland dove; Now, up again in roar and wrath High soaring and wide sweeping; now, With sudden fury dashing down Full-force on the awaiting woods.
Long waited there, for aspens frail That tinkle with a silver bell, To warn the Zephyr of their love, When danger is at hand, and wake The neighbouring boughs, surrendering all Their prophet harmony of leaves, Had caught his earliest windward thought, And told it trembling; naked birk Down showering her dishevelled hair, And like a beauty yielding up Her fate to all the elements, Had swayed in answer; hazels close, Thick brambles and dark brushwood tufts, And briared brakes that line the dells With shaggy beetling brows, had sung Shrill music, while the tattered flaws Tore over them, and now the whole Tumultuous concords, seized at once With savage inspiration,—pine, And larch, and beech, and fir, and thorn, And ash, and oak, and oakling, rave And shriek, and shout, and whirl, and toss, And stretch their arms, and split, and crack, And bend their stems, and bow their heads, And grind, and groan, and lion-like Roar to the echo-peopled hills And ravenous wilds, and crake-like cry With harsh delight, and cave-like call With hollow mouth, and harp-like thrill With mighty melodies, sublime, From clumps of column'd pines that wave A lofty anthem to the sky, Fit music for a prophet's soul - And like an ocean gathering power, And murmuring deep, while down below Reigns calm profound;—not trembling now The aspens, but like freshening waves That fall upon a shingly beach; - And round the oak a solemn roll Of organ harmony ascends, And in the upper foliage sounds
A symphony of distant seas. The voice of nature is abroad This night; she fills the air with balm; Her mystery is o'er the land; And who that hears her now and yields His being to her yearning tones, And seats his soul upon her wings, And broadens o'er the wind-swept world With her, will gather in the flight More knowledge of her secret, more Delight in her beneficence, Than hours of musing, or the lore That lives with men could ever give! Nor will it pass away when morn Shall look upon the lulling leaves, And woodland sunshine, Eden-sweet, Dreams o'er the paths of peaceful shade; - For every elemental power Is kindred to our hearts, and once Acknowledged, wedded, once embraced, Once taken to the unfettered sense, Once claspt into the naked life, The union is eternal.
WILL O' THE WISP
Follow me, follow me, Over brake and under tree, Thro' the bosky tanglery, Brushwood and bramble! Follow me, follow me, Laugh and leap and scramble! Follow, follow, Hill and hollow, Fosse and burrow, Fen and furrow, Down into the bulrush beds, 'Midst the reeds and osier heads, In the rushy soaking damps, Where the vapours pitch their camps, Follow me, follow me, For a midnight ramble! O! what a mighty fog, What a merry night O ho! Follow, follow, nigher, nigher - Over bank, and pond, and briar, Down into the croaking ditches, Rotten log, Spotted frog, Beetle bright With crawling light, What a joy O ho! Deep into the purple bog - What a joy O ho! Where like hosts of puckered witches All the shivering agues sit Warming hands and chafing feet, By the blue marsh-hovering oils: O the fools for all their moans! Not a forest mad with fire Could still their teeth, or warm their bones, Or loose them from their chilly coils. What a clatter, How they chatter! Shrink and huddle, All a muddle! What a joy O ho! Down we go, down we go, What a joy O ho! Soon shall I be down below, Plunging with a grey fat friar, Hither, thither, to and fro, Breathing mists and whisking lamps, Plashing in the shiny swamps; While my cousin Lantern Jack, With cook ears and cunning eyes, Turns him round upon his back, Daubs him oozy green and black, Sits upon his rolling size, Where he lies, where he lies, Groaning full of sack - Staring with his great round eyes! What a joy O ho! Sits upon him in the swamps Breathing mists and whisking lamps! What a joy O ho! Such a lad is Lantern Jack, When he rides the black nightmare Through the fens, and puts a glare In the friar's track. Such a frolic lad, good lack! To turn a friar on his back, Trip him, clip him, whip him, nip him. Lay him sprawling, smack! Such a lad is Lantern Jack! Such a tricksy lad, good lack! What a joy O ho! Follow me, follow me, Where he sits, and you shall see!
Fair and false! No dawn will greet Thy waking beauty as of old; The little flower beneath thy feet Is alien to thy smile so cold; The merry bird flown up to meet Young morning from his nest i' the wheat Scatters his joy to wood and wold, But scorns the arrogance of gold.
False and fair! I scarce know why, But standing in the lonely air, And underneath the blessed sky, I plead for thee in my despair; - For thee cut off, both heart and eye From living truth; thy spring quite dry; For thee, that heaven my thought may share, Forget—how false! and think—how fair!
Two wedded lovers watched the rising moon, That with her strange mysterious beauty glowing, Over misty hills and waters flowing, Crowned the long twilight loveliness of June: And thus in me, and thus in me, they spake, The solemn secret of fist love did wake.
Above the hills the blushing orb arose; Her shape encircled by a radiant bower, In which the nightingale with charmed power Poured forth enchantment o'er the dark repose: And thus in me, and thus in me, they said, Earth's mists did with the sweet new spirit wed.
Far up the sky with ever purer beam, Upon the throne of night the moon was seated, And down the valley glens the shades retreated, And silver light was on the open stream. And thus in me, and thus in me, they sighed, Aspiring Love has hallowed Passion's tide.
I cannot lose thee for a day, But like a bird with restless wing My heart will find thee far away, And on thy bosom fall and sing, My nest is here, my rest is here; - And in the lull of wind and rain, Fresh voices make a sweet refrain, 'His rest is there, his nest is there.'
With thee the wind and sky are fair, But parted, both are strange and dark; And treacherous the quiet air That holds me singing like a lark, O shield my love, strong arm above! Till in the hush of wind and rain, Fresh voices make a rich refrain, 'The arm above will shield thy love.'
Musing on the fate of Daphne, Many feelings urged my breast, For the God so keen desiring, And the Nymph so deep distrest.
Never flashed thro' sylvan valley Visions so divinely fair! He with early ardour glowing, She with rosy anguish rare.
Only still more sweet and lovely For those terrors on her brows, Those swift glances wild and brilliant, Those delicious panting vows.
Timidly the timid shoulders Shrinking from the fervid hand! Dark the tide of hair back-flowing From the blue-veined temples bland!
Lovely, too, divine Apollo In the speed of his pursuit; With his eye an azure lustre, And his voice a summer lute!
Looking like some burnished eagle Hovering o'er a fluttered bird; Not unseen of silver Naiad, And of wistful Dryad heard!
Many a morn the naked beauty Saw her bright reflection drown In the flowing smooth-faced river, While the god came sheening down.
Down from Pindus bright Peneus Tells its muse-melodious source; Sacred is its fountained birthplace, And the Orient floods its course.
Many a morn the sunny darling Saw the rising chariot-rays, From the winding river-reaches, Mellowing in amber haze.
Thro' the flaming mountain gorges Lo, the River leaps the plain; Like a wild god-stridden courser, Tossing high its foamy mane.
Then he swims thro' laurelled sunlight, Full of all sensations sweet, Misty with his morning incense, To the mirrored maiden's feet!
Wet and bright the dinting pebbles Shine where oft she paused and stood; All her dreamy warmth revolving, While the chilly waters wooed.
Like to rosy-born Aurora, Glowing freshly into view, When her doubtful foot she ventures On the first cold morning blue.
White as that Thessalian lily, Fairest Tempe's fairest flower, Lo, the tall Peneian virgin Stands beneath her bathing bower.
There the laurell'd wreaths o'erarching Crown'd the dainty shuddering maid; There the dark prophetic laurel Kiss'd her with its sister shade.
There the young green glistening leaflets Hush'd with love their breezy peal; There the little opening flowerets Blush'd beneath her vermeil heel!
There among the conscious arbours Sounds of soft tumultuous wail, Mysteries of love, melodious, Came upon the lyric gale!
Breathings of a deep enchantment, Effluence of immortal grace, Flitted round her faltering footstep, Spread a balm about her face!
Witless of the enamour'd presence, Like a dreamy lotus bud From its drowsy stem down-drooping, Gazed she in the glowing flood.
Softly sweet with fluttering presage, Felt she that ethereal sense, Drinking charms of love delirious, Reaping bliss of love intense!
All the air was thrill'd with sunrise, Birds made music of her name, And the god-impregnate water Claspt her image ere she came.
Richer for that glance unconscious! Dearer for that soft dismay! And the sudden self-possession! And the smile as bright as day!
Plunging 'mid her scattered tresses, With her blue invoking eyes; See her like a star descending! Like a rosebud see her rise!
Like a rosebud in the morning Dashing off its jewell'd dews, Ere unfolding all its fragrance It is gathered by the muse!
Beauteous in the foamy laughter Bubbling round her shrinking waist, Lo! from locks and lips and eyelids Rain the glittering pearl-drops chaste!
And about the maiden rapture Still the ruddy ripples play'd, Ebbing round in startled circlets When her arms began to wade;
Flowing in like tides attracted To the glowing crescent shine! Clasping her ambrosial whiteness Like an Autumn-tinted vine!
Sinking low with love's emotion! Levying with look and tone All love's rosy arts to mimic Cytherea's magic zone!
Trembling up with adoration To the crimson daisy tip Budding from the snowy bosom - Fainter than the rose-red lip!
Rising in a storm of wavelets, That for shelter, feigning fright, Prest to those twin-heaving havens, Harbour'd there beneath her light;
Gleaming in a whirl of eddies Round her lucid throat and neck; Eddying in a gleam of dimples Up against her bloomy cheek;
Bribing all the breezy water With rich warmth, the nymph to keep In a self-imprison'd plaisance, Tempting her from deep to deep.
Till at last delirious passion Thrill'd the god to wild excess, And the fervour of a moment Made divinity confess;
And he stood in all his glory! But so radiant, being near, That her eyes were frozen on him In a fascinated fear!
All with orient splendour shining, All with roseate birth aglow, Gleam'd the golden god before her, With his golden crescent bow.
Soon the dazzled light subsided, And he seem'd a beauteous youth, Form'd to gain the maiden's murmurs, And to pledge the vows of truth.
Ah! that thus he had continued! O, that such for her had been! Graceful with all godlike beauty, But so humanly serene!
Cheeks, and mouth, and mellow ringlets, Bounteous as the mid-day beam; Pleading looks and wistful tremour, Tender as a maiden's dream!
Palms that like a bird's throbb'd bosom Palpitate with eagerness, Lips, the bridals of the roses, Dewy sweet from the caress!
Lips and limbs, and eyes and ringlets, Swaying, praying to one prayer, Like a lyre, swept by a spirit, In the still, enraptur'd air.
Like a lyre in some far valley, Uttering ravishments divine! All its strings to viewless fingers Yearning, modulations fine!
Yearning with melodious fervour! Like a beauteous maiden flower, When the young beloved three paces Hovers from the bridal bower.
Throbbing thro' the dawning stillness! As a heart within a breast, When the young beloved is stepping Radiant to the nuptial nest.
O for Daphne! gentle Daphne Ever warmer by degrees Whispers full of hopes and visions Throng her ears like honey bees!
Never yet was lonely blossom Woo'd with such delicious voice! Never since hath mortal maiden Dwelt on such celestial choice!
Love-suffused she quivers, falters - Falters, sighs, but never speaks, All her rosy blood up-gushing Overflows her ripe young cheeks.
Blushing, sweet with virgin blushes, All her loveliness a-flame, Stands she in the orient waters, Stricken o'er with speechless shame!
Ah! but lovelier, ever lovelier, As more deep the colour glows, And the honey-laden lily Changes to the fragrant rose.
While the god with meek embraces, Whispering all his sacred charms, Softly folds her, gently holds her, In his white encircling arms!
But, O Dian! veil not wholly Thy pale crescent from the morn! Vanish not, O virgin goddess, With that look of pallid scorn!
Still thy pure protecting influence Shed from those fair watchful eyes! - Lo! her angry orb has vanished, And the bright sun thrones the skies!
Voicelessly the forest Virgin Vanished! but one look she gave - Keen as Niobean arrow Thro' the maiden's heart it drave.
Thus toward that throning bosom Where all earth is warmed,—each spot Nourished with autumnal blessings - Icy chill was Daphne caught.
Icy chill! but swift revulsion All her gentler self renewed, Even as icy Winter quickens With bud-opening warmth imbued.
Even as a torpid brooklet, That to the night-gleaming moon Flashed in turn the frozen glances, Melts upon the breast of noon.
But no more—O never, never, Turns she to that bosom bright, Swiftly all her senses counsel, All her nerves are strung to flight.
O'er the brows of radiant Pindus Rolls a shadow dark and cold, And a sound of lamentation Issues from its mournful fold.
Voice of the far-sighted Muses! Cry of keen foreboding song! Every cleft of startled Tempe Tingles with it sharp and long.
Over bourn and bosk and dingle, Over rivers, over rills, Runs the sad subservient Echo Toward the dim blue distant hills!
And another and another! 'Tis a cry more wild than all; And the hills with muffled voices Answer 'Daphne!' to the call.
And another and another! 'Tis a cry so wildly sweet, That her charmed heart turns rebel To the instinct of her feet;
And she pauses for an instant; But his arms have scarcely slid Round her waist in cestian girdles, And his low voluptuous lid
Lifted pleading, and the honey Of his mouth for hers athirst, Ruby glistening, raised for moisture - Like a bud that waits to burst
In the sweet espousing showers - And his tongue has scarce begun With its inarticulate burthen, And the clouds scarce show the sun
As it pierces thro' a crevice Of the mass that closed it o'er, When again the horror flashes - And she turns to flight once more!
And again o'er radiant Pindus Rolls the shadow dark and cold, And the sound of lamentation Issues from its sable fold!
And again the light winds chide her As she darts from his embrace - And again the far-voiced echoes Speak their tidings of the chase.
Loudly now as swiftly, swiftly, O'er the glimmering sands she speeds; Wildly now as in the furzes From the piercing spikes she bleeds.
Deeply and with direful anguish, As above each crimson drop Passion checks the god Apollo, And love bids him weep and stop. -
He above each drop of crimson Shadowing—like the laurel leaf That above himself will shadow - Sheds a fadeless look of grief.
Then with love's remorseful discord, With its own desire at war, Sighing turns, while dimly fleeting Daphne flies the chase afar.
But all nature is against her! Pan, with all his sylvan troop, Thro' the vista'd woodland valleys Blocks her course with cry and whoop!
In the twilights of the thickets Trees bend down their gnarled boughs, Wild green leaves and low curved branches Hold her hair and beat her brows.
Many a brake of brushwood covert, Where cold darkness slumbers mute, Slips a shrub to thwart her passage, Slides a hand to clutch her foot.
Glens and glades of lushest verdure Toil her in their tawny mesh, Wilder-woofed ways and alleys Lock her struggling limbs in leash.
Feathery grasses, flowery mosses, Knot themselves to make her trip; Sprays and stubborn sprigs outstretching Put a bridle on her lip;
Many a winding lane betrays her, Many a sudden bosky shoot, And her knee makes many a stumble O'er some hidden damp old root,
Whose quaint face peers green and dusky 'Mongst the matted growth of plants, While she rises wild and weltering, Speeding on with many pants.
Tangles of the wild red strawberry Spread their freckled trammels frail; In the pathway creeping brambles Catch her in their thorny trail.
All the widely sweeping greensward Shifts and swims from knoll to knoll; Grey rough-fingered oak and elm wood Push her by from bole to bole.
Groves of lemon, groves of citron, Tall high-foliaged plane and palm, Bloomy myrtle, light-blue olive, Wave her back with gusts of balm.
Languid jasmine, scrambling briony, Walls of close-festooning braid, Fling themselves about her, mingling With her wafted looks, waylaid.
Twisting bindweed, honey'd woodbine, Cling to her, while, red and blue, On her rounded form ripe berries Dash and die in gory dew.
Running ivies dark and lingering Round her light limbs drag and twine; Round her waist with languorous tendrils Reels and wreathes the juicy vine;
Reining in the flying creature With its arms about her mouth; Bursting all its mellowing bunches To seduce her husky drouth;
Crowning her with amorous clusters; Pouring down her sloping back Fresh-born wines in glittering rillets, Following her in crimson track.
Buried, drenched in dewy foliage, Thus she glimmers from the dawn, Watched by every forest creature, Fleet-foot Oread, frolic Faun.
Silver-sandalled Arethusa Not more swiftly fled the sands, Fled the plains and fled the sunlights, Fled the murmuring ocean strands.
O, that now the earth would open! O, that now the shades would hide! O, that now the gods would shelter! Caverns lead and seas divide!
Not more faint soft-lowing Io Panted in those starry eyes, When the sleepless midnight meadows Piteously implored the skies!
Still her breathless flight she urges By the sanctuary stream, And the god with golden swiftness Follows like an eastern beam.
Her the close bewildering greenery Darkens with its duskiest green, - Him each little leaflet welcomes, Flushing with an orient sheen.
Thus he nears, and now all Tempe Rings with his melodious cry, Avenues and blue expanses Beam in his large lustrous eye!
All the branches start to music! As if from a secret spring Thousands of sweet bills are bubbling In the nest and on the wing.
Gleams and shines the glassy river And rich valleys every one; But of all the throbbing beauty Brightest! singled by the sun!
Ivy round her glimmering ancle, Vine about her glowing brow, Never sure was bride so beauteous, Daphne, chosen nymph, as thou!
Thus he nears! and now she feels him Breathing hot on every limb; And he hears her own quick pantings - Ah! that they might be for him.
O, that like the flower he tramples, Bending from his golden tread, Full of fair celestial ardours, She would bow her bridal head.
O, that like the flower she presses, Nodding from her lily touch, Light as in the harmless breezes, She would know the god for such!
See! the golden arms are round her - To the air she grasps and clings! See! his glowing arms have wound her - To the sky she shrieks and springs!
See! the flushing chace of Tempe Trembles with Olympian air - See! green sprigs and buds are shooting From those white raised arms of prayer!
In the earth her feet are rooting! - Breasts and limbs and lifted eyes, Hair and lips and stretching fingers, Fade away—and fadeless rise.
And the god whose fervent rapture Clasps her finds his close embrace Full of palpitating branches, And new leaves that bud apace,
Bound his wonder-stricken forehead; - While in ebbing measures slow Sounds of softly dying pulses Pause and quiver, pause and go;
Go, and come again, and flutter On the verge of life,—then flee! All the white ambrosial beauty Is a lustrous Laurel Tree!
Still with the great panting love-chase All its running sap is warmed; - But from head to foot the virgin Is transfigured and transformed.
Changed!—yet the green Dryad nature Is instinct with human ties, And above its anguish'd lover Breathes pathetic sympathies;
Sympathies of love and sorrow; Joy in her divine escape; Breathing through her bursting foliage Comfort to his bending shape.
Vainly now the floating Naiads Seek to pierce the laurel maze, Nought but laurel meets their glances, Laurel glistens as they gaze.
Nought but bright prophetic laurel! Laurel over eyes and brows, Over limbs and over bosom, Laurel leaves and laurel boughs!
And in vain the listening Dryad Shells her hand against her ear! - All is silence—save the echo Travelling in the distance drear.
LONDON BY LAMPLIGHT
There stands a singer in the street, He has an audience motley and meet; Above him lowers the London night, And around the lamps are flaring bright.
His minstrelsy may be unchaste - 'Tis much unto that motley taste, And loud the laughter he provokes From those sad slaves of obscene jokes.
But woe is many a passer by Who as he goes turns half an eye, To see the human form divine Thus Circe-wise changed into swine!
Make up the sum of either sex That all our human hopes perplex, With those unhappy shapes that know The silent streets and pale cock-crow.
And can I trace in such dull eyes Of fireside peace or country skies? And could those haggard cheeks presume To memories of a May-tide bloom?
Those violated forms have been The pride of many a flowering green; And still the virgin bosom heaves With daisy meads and dewy leaves.
But stygian darkness reigns within The river of death from the founts of sin; And one prophetic water rolls Its gas-lit surface for their souls.
I will not hide the tragic sight - Those drown'd black locks, those dead lips white, Will rise from out the slimy flood, And cry before God's throne for blood!
Those stiffened limbs, that swollen face, - Pollution's last and best embrace, Will call, as such a picture can, For retribution upon man.
Hark! how their feeble laughter rings, While still the ballad-monger sings, And flatters their unhappy breasts With poisonous words and pungent jests.
O how would every daisy blush To see them 'mid that earthy crush! O dumb would be the evening thrush, And hoary look the hawthorn bush!
The meadows of their infancy Would shrink from them, and every tree, And every little laughing spot, Would hush itself and know them not.
Precursor to what black despairs Was that child's face which once was theirs! And O to what a world of guile Was herald that young angel smile!
That face which to a father's eye Was balm for all anxiety; That smile which to a mother's heart Went swifter than the swallow's dart!
O happy homes! that still they know At intervals, with what a woe Would ye look on them, dim and strange, Suffering worse than winter change!
And yet could I transplant them there, To breathe again the innocent air Of youth, and once more reconcile Their outcast looks with nature's smile;
Could I but give them one clear day Of this delicious loving May, Release their souls from anguish dark, And stand them underneath the lark; -
I think that Nature would have power To graft again her blighted flower Upon the broken stem, renew Some portion of its early hue; -
The heavy flood of tears unlock, More precious than the Scriptured rock; At least instil a happier mood, And bring them back to womanhood.
Alas! how many lost ones claim This refuge from despair and shame! How many, longing for the light, Sink deeper in the abyss this night!
O, crying sin! O, blushing thought! Not only unto those that wrought The misery and deadly blight; But those that outcast them this night!
O, agony of grief! for who Less dainty than his race, will do Such battle for their human right, As shall awake this startled night?
Proclaim this evil human page Will ever blot the Golden Age That poets dream and saints invite, If it be unredeemed this night?
This night of deep solemnity, And verdurous serenity, While over every fleecy field The dews descend and odours yield.
This night of gleaming floods and falls, Of forest glooms and sylvan calls, Of starlight on the pebbly rills, And twilight on the circling hills.
This night! when from the paths of men Grey error steams as from a fen; As o'er this flaring City wreathes The black cloud-vapour that it breathes!
This night from which a morn will spring Blooming on its orient wing; A morn to roll with many more Its ghostly foam on the twilight shore.
Morn! when the fate of all mankind Hangs poised in doubt, and man is blind. His duties of the day will seem The fact of life, and mine the dream:
The destinies that bards have sung, Regeneration to the young, Reverberation of the truth, And virtuous culture unto youth!
Youth! in whose season let abound All flowers and fruits that strew the ground, Voluptuous joy where love consents, And health and pleasure pitch their tents:
All rapture and all pure delight; A garden all unknown to blight; But never the unnatural sight That throngs the shameless song this night!
Under boughs of breathing May, In the mild spring-time I lay, Lonely, for I had no love; And the sweet birds all sang for pity, Cuckoo, lark, and dove.
Tell me, cuckoo, then I cried, Dare I woo and wed a bride? I, like thee, have no home-nest; And the twin notes thus tuned their ditty, - 'Love can answer best.'
Nor, warm dove with tender coo, Have I thy soft voice to woo, Even were a damsel by; And the deep woodland crooned its ditty, - 'Love her first and try.'
Nor have I, wild lark, thy wing, That from bluest heaven can bring Bliss, whatever fate befall; And the sky-lyrist trilled this ditty, - 'Love will give thee all.'
So it chanced while June was young, Wooing well with fervent song, I had won a damsel coy; And the sweet birds that sang for pity, Jubileed for joy.
How sweet on sunny afternoons, For those who journey light and well, To loiter up a hilly rise Which hides the prospect far beyond, And fancy all the landscape lying Beautiful and still;
Beneath a sky of summer blue, Whose rounded cloudlets, folded soft, Gaze on the scene which we await And picture from their peacefulness; So calmly to the earth inclining Float those loving shapes!
Like airy brides, each singling out A spot to love and bless with love, Their creamy bosoms glowing warm, Till distance weds them to the hills, And with its latest gleam the river Sinks in their embrace.
And silverly the river runs, And many a graceful wind he makes, By fields where feed the happy flocks, And hedge-rows hushing pleasant lanes, The charms of English home reflected In his shining eye:
Ancestral oak, broad-foliaged elm, Rich meadows sunned and starred with flowers, The cottage breathing tender smoke Against the brooding golden air, With glimpses of a stately mansion On a woodland sward;
And circling round, as with a ring, The distance spreading amber haze, Enclosing hills and pastures sweet; A depth of soft and mellow light Which fills the heart with sudden yearning Aimless and serene!
No disenchantment follows here, For nature's inspiration moves The dream which she herself fulfils; And he whose heart, like valley warmth, Steams up with joy at scenes like this Shall never be forlorn.
And O for any human soul The rapture of a wide survey - A valley sweeping to the West, With all its wealth of loveliness, Is more than recompense for days That taught us to endure.
Yon upland slope which hides the sun Ascending from his eastern deeps, And now against the hues of dawn One level line of tillage rears; The furrowed brow of toil and time; To many it is but a sweep of land!
To others 'tis an Autumn trust, But unto me a mystery; - An influence strange and swift as dreams; A whispering of old romance; A temple naked to the clouds; Or one of nature's bosoms fresh revealed,
Heaving with adoration! there The work of husbandry is done, And daily bread is daily earned; Nor seems there ought to indicate The springs which move in me such thoughts, But from my soul a spirit calls them up.
All day into the open sky, All night to the eternal stars, For ever both at morn and eve Men mellow distances draw near, And shadows lengthen in the dusk, Athwart the heavens it rolls its glimmering line!
When twilight from the dream-hued West Sighs hush! and all the land is still; When, from the lush empurpling East, The twilight of the crowing cock Peers on the drowsy village roofs, Athwart the heavens that glimmering line is seen.
And now beneath the rising sun, Whose shining chariot overpeers The irradiate ridge, while fetlock deep In the rich soil his coursers plunge - How grand in robes of light it looks! How glorious with rare suggestive grace!
The ploughman mounting up the height Becomes a glowing shape, as though 'Twere young Triptolemus, plough in hand, While Ceres in her amber scarf With gentle love directs him how To wed the willing earth and hope for fruits!
The furrows running up are fraught With meanings; there the goddess walks, While Proserpine is young, and there - 'Mid the late autumn sheaves, her voice Sobbing and choked with dumb despair - The nights will hear her wailing for her child!
Whatever dim tradition tells, Whatever history may reveal, Or fancy, from her starry brows, Of light or dreamful lustre shed, Could not at this sweet time increase The quiet consecration of the spot.
Blest with the sweat of labour, blest With the young sun's first vigorous beams, Village hope and harvest prayer, - The heart that throbs beneath it holds A bliss so perfect in itself Men's thoughts must borrow rather than bestow.
Now standing on this hedgeside path, Up which the evening winds are blowing Wildly from the lingering lines Of sunset o'er the hills; Unaided by one motive thought, My spirit with a strange impulsion Rises, like a fledgling, Whose wings are not mature, but still Supported by its strong desire Beats up its native air and leaves The tender mother's nest.
Great music under heaven is made, And in the track of rushing darkness Comes the solemn shape of night, And broods above the earth. A thing of Nature am I now, Abroad, without a sense or feeling Born not of her bosom; Content with all her truths and fates; Ev'n as yon strip of grass that bows Above the new-born violet bloom, And sings with wood and field.
Lo, as a tree, whose wintry twigs Drink in the sun with fibrous joy, And down into its dampest roots Thrills quickened with the draught of life, I wake unto the dawn, and leave my griefs to drowse.
I rise and drink the fresh sweet air: Each draught a future bud of Spring; Each glance of blue a birth of green; I will not mimic yonder oak That dallies with dead leaves ev'n while the primrose peeps.
But full of these warm-whispering beams, Like Memnon in his mother's eye, - Aurora! when the statue stone Moaned soft to her pathetic touch, - My soul shall own its parent in the founts of day!
And ever in the recurring light, True to the primal joy of dawn, Forget its barren griefs; and aye Like aspens in the faintest breeze Turn all its silver sides and tremble into song.
Now from the meadow floods the wild duck clamours, Now the wood pigeon wings a rapid flight, Now the homeward rookery follows up its vanguard, And the valley mists are curling up the hills.
Three short songs gives the clear-voiced throstle, Sweetening the twilight ere he fills the nest; While the little bird upon the leafless branches Tweets to its mate a tiny loving note.
Deeper the stillness hangs on every motion; Calmer the silence follows every call; Now all is quiet save the roosting pheasant, The bell-wether's tinkle and the watch-dog's bark.
Softly shine the lights from the silent kindling homestead, Stars of the hearth to the shepherd in the fold; Springs of desire to the traveller on the roadway; Ever breathing incense to the ever-blessing sky!
How barren would this valley be, Without the golden orb that gazes On it, broadening to hues Of rose, and spreading wings of amber; Blessing it before it falls asleep.
How barren would this valley be, Without the human lives now beating In it, or the throbbing hearts Far distant, who their flower of childhood Cherish here, and water it with tears!
How barren should I be, were I Without above that loving splendour, Shedding light and warmth! without Some kindred natures of my kind To joy in me, or yearn towards me now!
Summer glows warm on the meadows, and speedwell, and gold-cups, and daisies Darken 'mid deepening masses of sorrel, and shadowy grasses Show the ripe hue to the farmer, and summon the scythe and the hay- makers Down from the village; and now, even now, the air smells of the mowing, And the sharp song of the scythe whistles daily; from dawn, till the gloaming Wears its cool star, sweet and welcome to all flaming faces afield now; Heavily weighs the hot season, and drowses the darkening foliage, Drooping with languor; the white cloud floats, but sails not, for windless Heaven's blue tents it; no lark singing up in its fleecy white valleys; Up in its fairy white valleys, once feathered with minstrels, melodious With the invisible joy that wakes dawn o'er the green fields of England. Summer glows warm on the meadows; then come, let us roam thro' them gaily, Heedless of heat, and the hot-kissing sun, and the fear of dark freckles. Never one kiss will he give on a neck, or a lily-white forehead, Chin, hand, or bosom uncovered, all panting, to take the chance coolness, But full sure the fiery pressure leaves seal of espousal. Heed him not; come, tho' he kiss till the soft little upper-lip loses Half its pure whiteness; just speck'd where the curve of the rosy mouth reddens.
Come, let him kiss, let him kiss, and his kisses shall make thee the sweeter. Thou art no nun, veiled and vowed; doomed to nourish a withering pallor! City exotics beside thee would show like bleached linen at mid-day, Hung upon hedges of eglantine! Thou in the freedom of nature, Full of her beauty and wisdom, gentleness, joyance, and kindness! Come, and like bees will we gather the rich golden honey of noontide; Deep in the sweet summer meadows, border'd by hillside and river, Lined with long trenches half-hidden, where smell of white meadow- sweet, sweetest, Blissfully hovers—O sweetest! but pluck it not! even in the tenderest Grasp it will lose breath and wither; like many, not made for a posy.
See, the sun slopes down the meadows, where all the flowers are falling! Falling unhymned; for the nightingale scarce ever charms the long twilight: Mute with the cares of the nest; only known by a 'chuck, chuck,' and dovelike Call of content, but the finch and the linnet and blackcap pipe loudly. Round on the western hill-side warbles the rich-billed ouzel; And the shrill throstle is filling the tangled thickening copses; Singing o'er hyacinths hid, and most honey'd of flowers, white field-rose. Joy thus to revel all day in the grass of our own beloved country; Revel all day, till the lark mounts at eve with his sweet 'tirra- lirra': Trilling delightfully. See, on the river the slow-rippled surface Shining; the slow ripple broadens in circles; the bright surface smoothens; Now it is flat as the leaves of the yet unseen water-lily. There dart the lives of a day, ever-varying tactics fantastic. There, by the wet-mirrored osiers, the emerald wing of the kingfisher Flashes, the fish in his beak! there the dab-chick dived, and the motion Lazily undulates all thro' the tall standing army of rushes.
Joy thus to revel all day, till the twilight turns us homeward! Till all the lingering deep-blooming splendour of sunset is over, And the one star shines mildly in mellowing hues, like a spirit Sent to assure us that light never dieth, tho' day is now buried. Saying: to-morrow, to-morrow, few hours intervening, that interval Tuned by the woodlark in heaven, to-morrow my semblance, far eastward, Heralds the day 'tis my mission eternal to seal and to prophecy. Come then, and homeward; passing down the close path of the meadows. Home like the bees stored with sweetness; each with a lark in the bosom, Trilling for ever, and oh! will yon lark ever cease to sing up there?
TO A SKYLARK
O skylark! I see thee and call thee joy! Thy wings bear thee up to the breast of the dawn; I see thee no more, but thy song is still The tongue of the heavens to me!
Thus are the days when I was a boy; Sweet while I lived in them, dear now they're gone: I feel them no longer, but still, O still They tell of the heavens to me.
When buds of palm do burst and spread Their downy feathers in the lane, And orchard blossoms, white and red, Breathe Spring delight for Autumn gain; And the skylark shakes his wings in the rain;
O then is the season to look for a bride! Choose her warily, woo her unseen; For the choicest maids are those that hide Like dewy violets under the green.
When nuts behind the hazel-leaf Are brown as the squirrel that hunts them free, And the fields are rich with the sun-burnt sheaf, 'Mid the blue cornflower and the yellowing tree; And the farmer glows and beams in his glee;
O then is the season to wed thee a bride! Ere the garners are filled and the ale-cups foam; For a smiling hostess is the pride And flower of every Harvest Home.
SORROWS AND JOYS
Bury thy sorrows, and they shall rise As souls to the immortal skies, And there look down like mothers' eyes.
But let thy joys be fresh as flowers, That suck the honey of the showers, And bloom alike on huts and towers.
So shall thy days be sweet and bright; Solemn and sweet thy starry night, Conscious of love each change of light.
The stars will watch the flowers asleep, The flowers will feel the soft stars weep, And both will mix sensations deep.
With these below, with those above, Sits evermore the brooding dove, Uniting both in bonds of love.
For both by nature are akin; Sorrow, the ashen fruit of sin, And joy, the juice of life within.
Children of earth are these; and those The spirits of divine repose - Death radiant o'er all human woes.
O, think what then had been thy doom, If homeless and without a tomb They had been left to haunt the gloom!
O, think again what now they are - Motherly love, tho' dim and far, Imaged in every lustrous star.
For they, in their salvation, know No vestige of their former woe, While thro' them all the heavens do flow.
Thus art thou wedded to the skies, And watched by ever-loving eyes, And warned by yearning sympathies.
The flower unfolds its dawning cup, And the young sun drinks the star-dews up, At eve it droops with the bliss of day, And dreams in the midnight far away.
So am I in thy sole, sweet glance Pressed with a weight of utterance; Lovingly all my leaves unfold, And gleam to the beams of thirsty gold.
At eve I droop, for then the swell Of feeling falters forth farewell; - At midnight I am dreaming deep, Of what has been, in blissful sleep.
When—ah! when will love's own fight Wed me alike thro' day and night, When will the stars with their linking charms Wake us in each other's arms?
Thou to me art such a spring As the Arab seeks at eve, Thirsty from the shining sands; There to bathe his face and hands, While the sun is taking leave, And dewy sleep is a delicious thing.
Thou to me art such a dream As he dreams upon the grass, While the bubbling coolness near Makes sweet music in his ear; And the stars that slowly pass In solitary grandeur o'er him gleam.
Thou to me art such a dawn As the dawn whose ruddy kiss Wakes him to his darling steed; And again the desert speed, And again the desert bliss, Lightens thro' his veins, and he is gone!
The buried voice bespake Antigone.
'O sister! couldst thou know, as thou wilt know, The bliss above, the reverence below, Enkindled by thy sacrifice for me; Thou wouldst at once with holy ecstasy Give thy warm limbs into the yearning earth. Sleep, Sister! for Elysium's dawning birth, - And faith will fill thee with what is to be! Sleep, for the Gods are watching over thee! Thy dream will steer thee to perform their will, As silently their influence they instil. O Sister! in the sweetness of thy prime, Thy hand has plucked the bitter flower of death; But this will dower thee with Elysian breath, That fade into a never-fading clime. Dear to the Gods are those that do like thee A solemn duty! for the tyranny Of kings is feeble to the soul that dares Defy them to fulfil its sacred cares: And weak against a mighty will are men. O, Torch between two brothers! in whose gleam Our slaughtered House doth shine as one again, Tho' severed by the sword; now may thy dream Kindle desire in thee for us, and thou, Forgetting not thy lover and his vow, Leaving no human memory forgot, Shalt cross, not unattended, the dark stream Which runs by thee in sleep and ripples not. The large stars glitter thro' the anxious night, And the deep sky broods low to look at thee: The air is hush'd and dark o'er land and sea, And all is waiting for the morrow light: So do thy kindred spirits wait for thee. O Sister! soft as on the downward rill, Will those first daybeams from the distant hill Fall on the smoothness of thy placid brow, Like this calm sweetness breathing thro' me now: And when the fated sounds shall wake thine eyes, Wilt thou, confiding in the supreme will, In all thy maiden steadfastness arise, Firm to obey and earnest to fulfil; Remembering the night thou didst not sleep, And this same brooding sky beheld thee creep, Defiant of unnatural decree, To where I lay upon the outcast land; Before the iron gates upon the plain; A wretched, graveless ghost, whose wailing chill Came to thy darkened door imploring thee; Yearning for burial like my brother slain; - And all was dared for love and piety! This thought will nerve again thy virgin hand To serve its purpose and its destiny.'
She woke, they led her forth, and all was still.
Swathed round in mist and crown'd with cloud, O Mountain! hid from peak to base - Caught up into the heavens and clasped In white ethereal arms that make Thy mystery of size sublime! What eye or thought can measure now Thy grand dilating loftiness! What giant crest dispute with thee Supremacy of air and sky! What fabled height with thee compare! Not those vine-terraced hills that seethe The lava in their fiery cusps; Nor that high-climbing robe of snow, Whose summits touch the morning star, And breathe the thinnest air of life; Nor crocus-couching Ida, warm With Juno's latest nuptial lure; Nor Tenedos whose dreamy eye Still looks upon beleaguered Troy; Nor yet Olympus crown'd with gods Can boast a majesty like thine, O Mountain! hid from peak to base, And image of the awful power With which the secret of all things, That stoops from heaven to garment earth, Can speak to any human soul, When once the earthly limits lose Their pointed heights and sharpened lines, And measureless immensity Is palpable to sense and sight.
No, no, the falling blossom is no sign Of loveliness destroy'd and sorrow mute; The blossom sheds its loveliness divine; - Its mission is to prophecy the fruit.
Nor is the day of love for ever dead, When young enchantment and romance are gone; The veil is drawn, but all the future dread Is lightened by the finger of the dawn.
Love moves with life along a darker way, They cast a shadow and they call it death: But rich is the fulfilment of their day; The purer passion and the firmer faith.
THE TWO BLACKBIRDS
A blackbird in a wicker cage, That hung and swung 'mid fruits and flowers, Had learnt the song-charm, to assuage The drearness of its wingless hours.
And ever when the song was heard, From trees that shade the grassy plot Warbled another glossy bird, Whose mate not long ago was shot.
Strange anguish in that creature's breast, Unwept like human grief, unsaid, Has quickened in its lonely nest A living impulse from the dead.
Not to console its own wild smart, - But with a kindling instinct strong, The novel feeling of its heart Beats for the captive bird of song.
And when those mellow notes are still, It hops from off its choral perch, O'er path and sward, with busy bill, All grateful gifts to peck and search.
Store of ouzel dainties choice To those white swinging bars it brings; And with a low consoling voice It talks between its fluttering wings.
Deeply in their bitter grief Those sufferers reciprocate, The one sings for its woodland life, The other for its murdered mate.
But deeper doth the secret prove, Uniting those sad creatures so; Humanity's great link of love, The common sympathy of woe.
Well divined from day to day Is the swift speech between them twain; For when the bird is scared away, The captive bursts to song again.
Yet daily with its flattering voice, Talking amid its fluttering wings, Store of ouzel dainties choice With busy bill the poor bird brings.
And shall I say, till weak with age Down from its drowsy branch it drops, It will not leave that captive cage, Nor cease those busy searching hops?
Ah, no! the moral will not strain; Another sense will make it range, Another mate will soothe its pain, Another season work a change.
But thro' the live-long summer, tried, A pure devotion we may see; The ebb and flow of Nature's tide; A self-forgetful sympathy.
Blue July, bright July, Month of storms and gorgeous blue; Violet lightnings o'er thy sky, Heavy falls of drenching dew; Summer crown! o'er glen and glade Shrinking hyacinths in their shade; I welcome thee with all thy pride, I love thee like an Eastern bride. Though all the singing days are done As in those climes that clasp the sun; Though the cuckoo in his throat Leaves to the dove his last twin note; Come to me with thy lustrous eye, Golden-dawning oriently, Come with all thy shining blooms, Thy rich red rose and rolling glooms. Though the cuckoo doth but sing 'cuk, cuk,' And the dove alone doth coo; Though the cushat spins her coo-r-roo, r-r-roo - To the cuckoo's halting 'cuk.'
Sweet July, warm July! Month when mosses near the stream, Soft green mosses thick and shy, Are a rapture and a dream. Summer Queen! whose foot the fern Fades beneath while chestnuts burn; I welcome thee with thy fierce love, Gloom below and gleam above. Though all the forest trees hang dumb, With dense leafiness o'ercome; Though the nightingale and thrush, Pipe not from the bough or bush; Come to me with thy lustrous eye, Azure-melting westerly, The raptures of thy face unfold, And welcome in thy robes of gold! Tho' the nightingale broods—'sweet-chuck-sweet' - And the ouzel flutes so chill, Tho' the throstle gives but one shrilly trill To the nightingale's 'sweet-sweet.'
I would I were the drop of rain That falls into the dancing rill, For I should seek the river then, And roll below the wooded hill, Until I reached the sea.
And O, to be the river swift That wrestles with the wilful tide, And fling the briny weeds aside That o'er the foamy billows drift, Until I came to thee!
I would that after weary strife, And storm beneath the piping wind, The current of my true fresh life Might come unmingled, unimbrined, To where thou floatest free.
Might find thee in some amber clime, Where sunlight dazzles on the sail, And dreaming of our plighted vale Might seal the dream, and bless the time, With maiden kisses three.
Come to me in any shape! As a victor crown'd with vine, In thy curls the clustering grape, - Or a vanquished slave: 'Tis thy coming that I crave, And thy folding serpent twine, Close and dumb; Ne'er from that would I escape; Come to me in any shape! Only come!
Only come, and in my breast Hide thy shame or show thy pride; In my bosom be caressed, Never more to part; Come into my yearning heart; I, the serpent, golden-eyed, Twine round thee; Twine thee with no venomed test; Absence makes the venomed nest; Come to me!
Come to me, my lover, come! Violets on the tender stem Die and wither in their bloom, Under dewy grass; Come, my lover, or, alas! I shall die, shall die like them, Frail and lone; Come to me, my lover, come! Let thy bosom be my tomb: Come, my own!
THE SHIPWRECK OF IDOMENEUS
Swept from his fleet upon that fatal night When great Poseidon's sudden-veering wrath Scattered the happy homeward-floating Greeks Like foam-flakes off the waves, the King of Crete Held lofty commune with the dark Sea-god. His brows were crowned with victory, his cheeks Were flushed with triumph, but the mighty joy Of Troy's destruction and his own great deeds Passed, for the thoughts of home were dearer now, And sweet the memory of wife and child, And weary now the ten long, foreign years, And terrible the doubt of short delay - More terrible, O Gods! he cried, but stopped; Then raised his voice upon the storm and prayed. O thou, if injured, injured not by me, Poseidon! whom sea-deities obey And mortals worship, hear me! for indeed It was our oath to aid the cause of Greece, Not unespoused by Gods, and most of all By thee, if gentle currents, havens calm, Fair winds and prosperous voyage, and the Shape Impersonate in many a perilous hour, Both in the stately councils of the Kings, And when the husky battle murmured thick, May testify of services performed! But now the seas are haggard with thy wrath, Thy breath is tempest! never at the shores Of hostile Ilium did thy stormful brows Betray such fierce magnificence! not even On that wild day when, mad with torch and glare, The frantic crowds with eyes like starving wolves Burst from their ports impregnable, a stream Of headlong fury toward the hissing deep; Where then full-armed I stood in guard, compact Beside thee, and alone, with brand and spear, We held at bay the swarming brood, and poured Blood of choice warriors on the foot-ploughed sands! Thou, meantime, dark with conflict, as a cloud That thickens in the bosom of the West Over quenched sunset, circled round with flame, Huge as a billow running from the winds Long distances, till with black shipwreck swoln, It flings its angry mane about the sky. And like that billow heaving ere it burst; And like that cloud urged by impulsive storm With charge of thunder, lightning, and the drench Of torrents, thou in all thy majesty Of mightiness didst fall upon the war! Remember that great moment! Nor forget The aid I gave thee; how my ready spear Flew swiftly seconding thy mortal stroke, Where'er the press was hottest; never slacked My arm its duty, nor mine eye its aim, Though terribly they compassed us, and stood Thick as an Autumn forest, whose brown hair, Lustrous with sunlight, by the still increase Of heat to glowing heat conceives like zeal Of radiance, till at the pitch of noon 'Tis seized with conflagration and distends Horridly over leagues of doom'd domain; Mingling the screams of birds, the cries of brutes, The wail of creatures in the covert pent, Howls, yells, and shrieks of agony, the hiss Of seething sap, and crash of falling boughs Together in its dull voracious roar. So closely and so fearfully they throng'd, Savage with phantasies of victory, A sea of dusky shapes; for day had passed And night fell on their darkened faces, red With fight and torchflare; shrill the resonant air With eager shouts, and hoarse with angry groans; While over all the dense and sullen boom, The din and murmur of the myriads, Rolled with its awful intervals, as though The battle breathed, or as against the shore Waves gather back to heave themselves anew. That night sleep dropped not from the dreary skies, Nor could the prowess of our chiefs oppose That sea of raging men. But what were they? Or what is man opposed to thee? Its hopes Are wrecks, himself the drowning, drifting weed That wanders on thy waters; such as I Who see the scattered remnants of my fleet, Remembering the day when first we sailed, Each glad ship shining like the morning star With promise for the world. Oh! such as I Thus darkly drifting on the drowning waves. O God of waters! 'tis a dreadful thing To suffer for an evil unrevealed; Dreadful it is to hear the perishing cry Of those we love; the silence that succeeds How dreadful! Still my trust is fixed on thee For those that still remain and for myself. And if I hear thy swift foam-snorting steeds Drawing thy dusky chariot, as in The pauses of the wind I seem to hear, Deaf thou art not to my entreating prayer! Haste then to give us help, for closely now Crete whispers in my ears, and all my blood Runs keen and warm for home, and I have yearning, Such yearning as I never felt before, To see again my wife, my little son, My Queen, my pretty nursling of five years, The darling of my hopes, our dearest pledge Of marriage, and our brightest prize of love, Whose parting cry rings clearest in my heart. O lay this horror, much-offended God! And making all as fair and firm as when We trusted to thy mighty depths of old, - I vow to sacrifice the first whom Zeus Shall prompt to hail us from the white seashore And welcome our return to royal Crete, An offering, Poseidon, unto thee!