Page images

Through many a woven acanthus-wreath divine ! Only to hear and see the far-off sparkling brine, Only to hear were sweet, stretched out beneath the


8. The Lotos blooms below the barren peak: The Lotos blows by every winding creek: All day the wind breathes low with mellower tone; Through every hollow cave and alley lone Round and round the spicy downs the yellow Lotos

dust is blown. We have had enough of action, and of motion we, Rolled to starboard, rolled to larboard, when the

surge was seething free, Where the wallowing monster spouted his foam

fountains in the sea. Let us swear an oath, and keep it with an equal

mind, In the hollow Lotos-land to live and lie reclined On the hills like Gods together, careless of man

kind. For they lie beside their nectar, and the bolts are

hurled Far below them in the valleys, and the clouds are

lightly curled Round their golden houses, girdled with the gleam

ing world; Where they smile in secret, looking over wasted

lands, Blight and famine, plague and earthquake, roaring

deeps and fiery sands, Clanging fights, and flaming towns, and sinking

ships, and praying hands. But they smile, they find a music centred in a

doleful song

Steaming up, a lamentation and an ancient tale of

wrong, ; a tale of little meaning, though the words are


Chanted from an ill-used race of men that cleave

the soil, Sow the seed, and reap the harvest with enduring

toil, Storing yearly little dues of wheat, and wine and

oil; Till they perish and they suffer-some, 'tis whis

pered-down in hell Suffer endless anguish, others in Elysian valleys

dwell, Resting weary limbs at last on beds of asphodel. Surely, surely, slumber is more sweet than toil, the

shore Than labor in the deep mid-ocean, wind and wave

and oar;

O rest ye, brother mariners, we will not wander




I READ, before my eyelids dropt their shade,

The Legend of Good Women,” long ago Sung by the morning star of song, who made

His music heard below;


Dan Chaucer, the first warbler, whose sweet breath

Preluded those melodious bursts, that fill The spacious times of great Elizabeth

With sounds that echo still.


And, for a while, the knowledge of his art

Held me above the subject, as strong gales Hold swollen clouds from raining, though my heart,

Brimful of those wild tales,


Charged both mine eyes with tears. In every land

I saw, wherever light illumineth, Beauty and anguish walking hand in hand

The downward slope to death.

[ocr errors]

Those far-renowned brides of ancient song

Peopled the hollow dark, like burning stars, And I heard sounds of insult, shame, and wrong,

And trumpets blown for wars ;


And clattering flints battered with clanging hoofs :

And I saw crowds in columned sanctuaries And fornis that passed at windows and on roofs

Of marble palaces ;


Corpses across the threshold; heroes tall

Dislodging pinnacle and parapet Upon the tortoise creeping to the wall ;

Lancers in ambush set;


And high shrine-doors burst through with heated


That run before the fluttering tongues of fire; White surf wind-scattered over sails and masts,

And ever climbing higher;


Squadrons and squares of men in brazen plates,

Scaffolds, still sheets of water, divers woes, Ranges of glimmering vaults with iron grates,

And hushed seraglios.

[blocks in formation]


So shape chased shape as swift as, when to land

Bsuster the winds and tides the self-same way, Crisp foam-flakes scud along the level sand,

Torn from the fringe of spray.


I started once, or seemed to start, in pain,

Resolved on noble things, and strove to speak, As when a great thought strikes along the brain,

And flushes all the cheek.


And once my arm was lifted to hew down

A cavalier from off his saddle-bow, That bore a lady from a leaguered town;

And then, I know not how,


All those sharp fancies, by down-lapsing thought Streamed onward, lost their edges, and did

creep Rolled on each other, rounded, smoothed, and

Into the gulfs of sleep.


At last methought that I had wandered far

In an old wood : fresh-washed in coolest dew, The maiden splendors of the morning star

Shook in the steadfast blue.


Enormous elm-tree boles did stoop and lean

Upon the dusky brushwood underneath Their broad curved branches, fledged with clearest

green, New from its silken sheath.


The dim red morn had died, her journey done,

And with dead lips smiled at the twilight plain, Half-fallen across the threshold of the sun,

Never to rise again.


There was no motion in the dumb dead air,

any song of bird or sound of rill; Gross darkness of the inner sepulchre

Is not so deadly still


As that wide forest. Growths of jasmine turned

Their humid arms festooning tree to tree, And at the root through lush green grasses burned

The red anemone.


I knew the flowers, I knew the leaves, I knew

The tearful glimmer of the languid dawn
On those long, rank, dark wood-walks drenched in

Leading from lawn to lawn.


The smell of violets, hidden in the green,

Poured back into my empty soul and frame The times when I remember to have been

Joyful and free from blame.


And from within me a clear under-tone

Thrilled through mine ears in that unblissful

clime, “ Pass freely through! the wood is all thine own,

Until the end of time."

« PreviousContinue »