Page images
PDF
EPUB

There would be neither moon nor star;
But the wave would make music above us afar
Low thunder and light in the magic night,

Neither moon nor star.
We would call aloud in the dreamy dells,
Call to each other and whoop and cry

All night, merrily, merrily ;
They would pelt me with starry spangles and shells
Laughing and clapping their hands between,

All night, merrily, merrily;
But I would throw them back in mine
Turkis and agate and almondine:
Then leaping out upon them unseen,
I would kiss them often under the sea,
And kiss them again till they kissed me

Laughingly, laughingly.
O! what a happy life were mine
Under the hollow-hung ocean green!
Soft are the moss-beds under the sea;
We would live merrily, merrily.

THE MERMAID.

WHO would be
A mermaid fair,

Singing alone,
Combing her hair
Under the sea,
In a golden curl
With a comb of pearl,

On a throne ?

I would be a mermaid fair;
I would sing to myself the whole of the day;
With a comb of pearl I would comb my hair;
And still as I combed I would sing and say,
66 Who is it loves me ? who loves not me ?

I would comb my hair till my ringlets would fall,

Low adown, low adown,
From under my starry sea-bud crown

Low adown and around,
And I should look like a fountain of gold

Springing alone
With a shrill inner sound,

Over the throne

In the midst of the hall; Till that great sea-snake under the sea From his coiled sleeps in the central deeps Would slowly trail himself sevenfold Round the hall where I sate, and look in at the gate With his large calm eyes for the love of me. And all the mermen under the sea Would feel their immortality Die in their hearts for the love of me.

But at night I would wander away, away,

I would fling on each side my low-flowing locks And lightly vault from the throne and play

With the mermen in and out of the rocks; We would run to and fro, and hide and seek,

On the broad sea-wolds i’ the crimson shells,

Whose silvery spikes are nighest the sea. But if any came near, I would call and shriek, And adown the steep like a wave I would leap

From the diamond ledges that jut from the dells. For I would not be kissed by all who would list, Of the bold merry mermen under the sea; They would sue me, and woo me, and flatter me, In the purple twilights under the sea ; But the king of them all would carry me, Woo me, and win me, and marry me, In the branching jaspers under the sea ; Then all the dry pied things that be In the hueless mosses under the sea Would curl round my silver feet silently, All looking up for the love of me.

And if I should carol aloud, from aloft
All things that are forked, and horned, and soft,
Would lean out from the hollow sphere of the sea,
All looking down for the love of me.

SONNET TO J. M. K.

My hope and heart is with thee—thou wilt be
A latter Luther, and a soldier-priest
To scare church-harpies from the master's feast;
Our dusted velvets have much need of thee :
Thou art no sabbath-drawler of old saws,
Distilled from some worm-cankered homily;
But spurred at heart with fieriest energy
To embattail and to wall about thy cause
With iron-worded proof, hating to hark
The humming of the drowsy pulpit-drone
Half God's good sabbath, while the worn-out clerk
Brow-beats his desk below. Thou from a throne
Mounted in heaven wilt shoot into the dark
Arrows of lightnings. I will stand and mark.

POEMS.

(PUBLISHED 1832.)

THE LADY OF SHALOTT.

PART I.

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And through the field the road runs by

To many-towered Camelot ;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,

The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Through the wave that runs forever
By the island in the river

Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle embowers

The Lady of Shalott.

By the margin, willow-veiled,
Slide the heavy barges trailed

By slow horses; and unhailed,
The shallop flitteth silken-sailed,

Skimming down to Camelot :
But who hath seen her wave her hand ?
Or at the casement seen her stand ?
Or is she known in all the land,

The Lady of Shalott ?

Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,

Down to towered Camelot :
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers " 'Tis the fairy

Lady of Shalott.”

PART II.

THERE she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colors gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay

To look down to Camelot..
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,

The Lady of Shalott.

And moving through a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near

Winding down to Camelot :
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the surly village-churls,
And the red cloaks of market-girls,

Pass onward from Shalott.

« PreviousContinue »