Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

His silent sandals swept the mossy green ;
So neighbour'd to him, and yet so unseen
She stood : he pass'd, shut up in mysteries,
His mind wrapp'd like his mantle, while her eyes
Follow'd his steps, and her neck regal white
Turnd — syllabling thus, Ah, Lycius bright!
And will you leave me on the hills alone ?
Lycius, look back! and be some pity shown.”
He did ; not with cold wonder fearingly,
But Orpheus-like at an Eurydice ;
For so delicious were the words she sung,
It seem'd he had loved them a whole summer long:
And soon his eyes had drunk her beauty up,
Leaving no drop in the bewildering cup,
And still the cup was full, while he, afraid
Lest she should vanish ere his lips had paid
Due adoration, thus began to adore;
Her soft look growing coy, she saw his chain so

sure:

" Leave thee alone! Look back! Ah, Goddess, see
Whether my eyes can ever turn from thee !
For pity do not this sad heart belie
Even as thou vanishest so I shall die.
Stay! though a Naiad of the rivers, stay !
To thy far wishes will thy streams obey :
Stay! though the greenest woods be thy domain,
Alone they can drink up the morning rain :
Though a descended Pleiad, will not one
Of thine harmonious sisters keep in tune
Thy spheres, and as thy silver proxy shine ?
So sweetly to these ravish'd ears of mine
Came thy sweet greeting, that if thou shouldst

fade,
Thy memory will waste me to a shade:
For pity do not melt!” 6. If I should stay,"
Said Lamia, “ here, upon this floor of clay,
And pain my steps upon these flowers too rough,
What canst thou say or do of charm enough

To dull the nice remembrance of my home ?
Thou canst not ask me with thee here to roam
Over these hills and vales, where no joy is,
Empty of immortality and bliss !
Thou art a scholar, Lycius, and must know
That finer spirits cannot breathe below
In human climes, and live: Alas! poor youth,
What taste of purer air hast thou to soothe
My essence ? What serener palaces,
Where I may all my many senses please,
And by mysterious sleights a hundred thirsts ap-

pease;
It cannot be — Adieu !” So said, she rose
Tiptoe with white arms spread. He, sick to lose
The amorous promise of her lone complain,
Swoon'd murmuring of love, and pale with pain.
The cruel lady, without any show
Of sorrow for her tender favourite's woe,
But rather, if her eyes could brighter be,
With brighter eyes and slow amenity,
Put her new lips to his, and gave afresh
The life she had so tangled in her mesh :
And as he from one trance was wakening
Into another, she began to sing,
Happy in beauty, life, and love, and everything,
A
song

of love, too sweet for earthly lyres, While, like held breath, the stars drew in their

panting fires. And then she whisper'd in such trembling tone, As those who, safe together met alone For the first time through many anguish'd days, Use other speech than looks; bidding him raise His drooping head, and clear his soul of doubt, For that she was a woman, and without Any more subtle fluid in her veins Than throbbing blood, and that the self-same pains Inhabited her frail-strung heart as his. And next she wonder'd how his eyes could miss

Her face so long in Corinth, where, she said,
She dwelt but half retired, and there had led
Days happy as the gold coin could invent
Without the aid of love; yet in content
Till she saw him, as once she pass'd him by,
Where 'gainst a column he leant thoughtfully
At Venus' temple porch, 'mid baskets heap'd
Of amorous herbs and flowers, newly reap'd
Late on that eve, as 'twas the night before
The Adonian feast; whereof she saw no more,
But wept alone those days, for why should she

adore ?
Lycius from death awoke into amaze,
To see her still, and singing so sweet lays;
Then from amaze into delight he fell
To hear her whisper woman's lore so well;
And every word she spake enticed hiin on
To unperplex'd delight and pleasure known.
Let the mad poets say whate'er they please
Of the sweets of Fairies, Peris, Goddesses,
There is not such a treat among them all,
Haunters of cavern, lake, and waterfall,
As a real woman, lineal indeed
From Pyrrha's pebbles or old Adam's seed.
Thus gentle Lamia judged, and judged aright,
That Lycius could not love in half a fright,
So threw the goddess off, and won his heart
More pleasantly by playing woman's part,
With no more awe than what her beauty gave,
That, while it smote, still guaranteed to save.
Lycius to all made eloquent reply,
Marrying to every word a twin-born sigh ;
And last, pointing to Corinth, ask'd her sweet,
If 'twas too far that night for her soft feet.
The way was short, for Lamia's eagerness
Made, by a spell, the triple league decrease
To a few paces ; not at all surmised
By blinded Lycius, so in her comprised

They pass’d the city gates, he knew not how,
So noiseless, and he never thought to know.

As men talk in a dream, so Corinth all, Throughout her palaces imperial, And all her populous streets and temples lewd, Mutter'd, like tempest in the distance brew'd, To the wide-spreaded night above her towers. Men, women, rich and poor, in the cool hours, Shuffled their sandals o'er the pavement white, Companion’d or alone; while many a light Flared, here and there, from wealthy festivals, And threw their moving shadows on the walls, Or found them cluster'd in the corniced shade Of some arch'd temple door, or dusky colonnade.

Muffling his face, of greeting friends in fear, Her fingers he press'd hard, as one came near With curl'd gray beard, sharp eyes, and smooth

bald crown,

[ocr errors]

Slow-stepp'd, and robed in philosophic gown:
Lycius slirank closer, as they met and past,
Into his mantle, adding wings to haste,
While hurried Lamia trembled: “Ah,” said he,

Why do you shudder, love, so ruefully ?
Why does your tender palm dissolve in dew ?
“ I'm wearied,” said fair Lania: “tell me who
Is that old man? I cannot bring to mind
His features : — Lycius ! wherefore did you blind
Yourself from his quick eyes ?” Lycius replied,
"• 'Tis Apollonius sage, my trusty guide
And good instructor; but to-night he seems
The ghost of folly haunting my sweet dreams.”

While yet he spake they had arrived before
A pillar'd porch, with lofty portal door,
Where huny a silver lamp whose phosphor glow
Reflected in the slabbed steps below,

Mild as a star in water; for so new
And so unsullied was the marble hue,
So through the crystal polish, liquid fine,
Ran the dark veins, that none but feet divine
Could e'er have touch'd there. Sounds Æolian

.
Breathed from the hinges, as the ample span
Of the wide doors disclosed a place unknown
Some time to any, but those two alone,
And a few Persian mutes, who that same year
Were seen about the markets: none knew where
They could inhabit; the most curious
Were foild, who watch'd to trace them to their

house: And but the flitter-winged verse must tell, For truth's sake what woe afterwards befell, 'Twould humour many a heart to leave them thus, Shut from the busy world of more incredulous.

PART II.

Love in a hut, with water and a crust,
Is — Love, forgive us ! - cinders, ashes, dust;
Love in a palace is perhaps at last
More grievous torment than a hermit's fast:
That is a doubtful tale from faery land,
Hard for the non-elect to understand.
Had Lycius lived to hand his story down,
He might have given the moral a fresh frown,
Or clench'd it quite : but too short was their bliss
To breed distrust and hate, that make the soft

voice hiss.
Besides, there, nightly, with terrific glare,
Love, jealous grown of so complete a pair,
Hover'd and buzz'd his wings, with fearful roar,
Above the lintel of their chamber door,
And down the passage cast a glow upon the floor.

« ZurückWeiter »