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Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain-
To thy high requiem become a sod.
Thou wast not born for death, immortal bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for
She stood in tears amid the alien corn; [home,
The same that oft-times hath
Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn. Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is fam'd to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:-do I wake or sleep?
Ever let the Fancy roam,
Pleasure never is at home:
At a touch sweet Pleasure melteth,
Like to bubbles when rain pelteth;
Then let winged Fancy wander
Through the thought still spread beyond her:
Open wide the mind's cage-door,
She'll dart forth, and cloudward soar.
O sweet Fancy! let her loose;
Summer's joys are spoilt by use,
And the enjoying of the spring
Fades as does its blossoming;
Autumn's red-lipp'd fruitage too,
Blushing through the mist and dew,
Cloys with tasting: what do then?
Sit thee by the ingle, when
The sear faggot blazes bright,
Spirit of a winter's night;
When the soundless earth is muffled,
And the caked snow is shuffled
From the ploughboy's heavy shoon;
When the Night doth meet the Noon
In a dark conspiracy
To banish Even from her sky.
Sit thee there, and send abroad,
With a mind self-overaw'd,
Fancy, high-commission'd:-send her!
She has vassals to attend her:
She will bring, in spite of frost,
Beauties that the earth hath lost;
She will bring thee, all together,
All delight of summer weather;
All the buds and bells of May,
From dewy sward or thorny spray;
All the heaped Autumn's wealth,
With a still, mysterious stealth:
She will mix these pleasures up
Like three fit wines in a cup,
And thou shalt quaff it:-thou shalt hear Distant harvest-carols clear;
Rustle of the reaped corn;
Sweet birds antheming the morn:
And, in the same moment-hark!
'Tis the early April lark,
Or the rooks, with busy caw,
Foraging for sticks and straw.
Thou shalt, at one glance, behold
The daisy and the marigold;
White-plum'd lilies, and the first
Hedge-grown primrose that hath burst;
Shaded hyacinth, alway
Sapphire queen of the mid-May;
And every leaf, and every flower
Pearled with the self-same shower.
Thou shalt see the field-mouse peep
Meagre from its celled sleep;
And the snake all winter-thin
Cast on sunny bank its skin;
Freckled nest-eggs thou shalt see
Hatching in the hawthorn-tree,
When the hen-bird's wing doth rest
Quiet on her mossy nest;
Then the hurry and alarm
When the bee-hive casts its swarm;
Acorns ripe down-pattering,
While the autumn breezes sing.
Oh, sweet Fancy! let her loose; Every thing is spoilt by use: Where's the cheek that doth not fade, Too much gaz'd at? where's the maid Whose lip mature is ever new ? Where's the eye, however blue, Doth not weary? where's the face One would meet in every place? Where's the voice, however soft, One would hear so very oft? At a touch sweet Pleasure melteth Like to bubbles when rain pelteth. Let, then, winged Fancy find Thee a mistress to thy mind: Dulcet-eyed as Ceres' daughter, Ere the God of Torment taught her How to frown and how to chide; With a waist and with a side White as Hebe's, when her zone Slipt its golden clasp, and down Fell her kirtle to her feet, While she held the goblet sweet, And Jove grew languid.-Break the mesh Of the Fancy's silken leash;
Quickly break her prison-string
No! the bugle sounds no more,
And the twanging bow no more;
Silent is the ivory shrill,
Past the heath and up the hill;
There is no mid-forest laugh,
Where lone Echo gives the half
To some wight, amaz'd to hear
Jesting, deep in forest drear.
On the fairest time of June
You may go, with sun or moon,
Or the seven stars to light you,
Or the polar ray to right you;
But you never may behold
Little John, or Robin bold;
Never one, of all the clan,
Thrumming on an empty can
Some old hunting ditty, while
He doth his green way beguile
To fair hostess Merriment,
Down beside the pasture Trent;
For he left the merry tale,
Messenger for spicy ale.
Gone, the merry morris din;
Gone, the of Gamelyn;
Gone, the tough-belted outlaw
Idling in the "grene shawe;"
All are gone away and past!
And if Robin should be cast
Sudden from his turfed grave,
And if Marian should have
Once again her forest days,
She would weep, and he would craze:
He would swear, for all his oaks,
Fall'n beneath the dockyard strokes,
Have rotted on the briny seas;
She would weep that her wild bees
Sang not to her-strange! that honey
Can't be got without hard money!
So it is: yet let us sing,
Honour to the old bow-string!
Honour to the bugle-horn!
Honour to the woods unshorn!
Honour to the Lincoln green!
Honour to the archer keen!
Honour to tight little John,
And the horse he rode upon!
Honour to bold Robin Hood,
Sleeping in the underwood!
Honour to maid Marian,
And to all the Sherwood-clan!
Though their days have hurried by,
Let us two a burden try.
So ended Saturn; and the God of the Sea, Sophist and sage, from no Athenian grove, But cogitation in his watery shades, Arose, with locks not oozy, and began,
In murmurs, which his first-endeavouring tongue
Caught infant-like from the far-foamed sands.
"O ye, whom wrath consumes! who, passion-stung,
Writhe at defeat, and nurse your agonies!
Shut up your senses, stifle up your ears,
My voice is not a bellows unto ire.
Yet listen, ye who will, whilst I bring proof
How ye, perforce, must be content to stoop:
And in the proof much comfort will I give,
If ye will take that comfort in its truth.
We fall by course of nature's law, not force
Of thunder, or of Jove. Great Saturn, thou
Hast sifted well the atom-universe;
But for this reason, that thou art the king,
And only blind from sheer supremacy,
One avenue was shaded from thine eyes,
Through which I wandered to eternal truth.
And first, as thou wast not the first of powers,
So art thou not the last; it cannot be:
Thou art not the beginning nor the end.
From chaos and parental darkness came
Light, the first fruits of that intestine broil,
That sullen ferment, which for wondrous ends
Was ripening in itself. The ripe hour came,
And with it light, and light, engendering
Upon its own producer, forthwith touch'd
The whole enormous matter into life.
Upon that very hour, our parentage,
The heavens and the earth, were manifest:
Then thou first-born, and we the giant-race,
Found ourselves ruling new and beauteous realms.
Now comes the pain of truth, to whom 'tis pain;
O folly! for to bear all naked truths,
And to envisage circumstance, all calm,
That is the top of sovereignty. Mark well!
As heaven and earth are fairer, fairer far
Than chaos and blank darkness, though once chiefs;
And as we show beyond that heaven and earth
In form and shape compact and beautiful,
In will, in action free, companionship,
And thousand other signs of purer life;
So on our heels a fresh perfection treads,
A power more strong in beauty, born of us
And fated to excel us, as we pass
In glory that old darkness: nor are we
Thereby more conquer'd, than by us the rule
Of shapeless chaos. Say, doth the dull soil
Quarrel with the proud forest it hath fed,
And feedeth still, more comely than itself?
Can it deny the chiefdom of green groves?
Or shall the tree be envious of the dove
Because it cooeth, and hath snowy wings
To wander wherewithal and find its joys?
We are such forest-trees, and our fair boughs
Have bred forth, not pale solitary doves,
But eagles golden-feather'd, who do tower
Above us in their beauty, and must reign
In right thereof; for 'tis the eternal law
That first in beauty should be first in might:
Yea, by that law, another race may drive
Our conquerors to mourn as we do now.
Have ye beheld the young God of the Seas,
My dispossessor? have ye seen his face?
ye beheld his chariot, foam'd along
By noble winged creatures he hath made?
I saw him on the calmed waters scud,
With such a glow of beauty in his eyes,
That it enforc'd me to bid sad farewell
To all my empire: farewell sad I took,
And hither came, to see how dolorous fate
Had wrought upon ye; and how I might best
Give consolation in this woe extreme.
Receive the truth, and let it be your balm."
Whether through poz'd conviction, or disdain,
They guarded silence, when Oceanus
Left murmuring, what deepest thought can tell?
But so it was, none answer'd for a space,
Save one whom none regarded, Clymene;
And yet she answer'd not, only complain'd,
With hectic lips, and eyes up-looking mild,
Thus wording timidly among the fierce:
"O father, I am here the simplest voice,
And all my knowledge is that joy is gone,
And this thing woe crept in among our hearts,
There to remain for ever, as I fear:
I would not bode of evil, if I thought
So weak a creature could turn off the help
Which by just right should come of mighty gods;
Yet let me tell my sorrow, let me tell
Of what I heard, and how it made me weep,
And know that we had parted from all hope.
I stood upon a shore, a pleasant shore,
Where a sweet clime was breathed from a land
Of fragrance, quietness, and trees, and flowers.
Full of calm joy it was, as I of grief;
Too full of joy and soft delicious warmth;
So that I felt a movement in my heart
To chide and to reproach that solitude
With songs of misery, music of our woes;
And sat me down, and took a mouthed shell
And murmur'd into it, and made melody-
O melody no more! for while I sang,
And with poor skill let pass into the breeze
The dull shell's echo, from a bowery strand
Just opposite, an island of the sea,
There came enchantment with the shifting wind,
That did both drown and keep alive my ears.
I threw my shell away upon the sand,
And a wave fill'd it, as my sense was fill'd
With that new blissful golden melody.
A living death was in each gush of sounds,
Each family of rapturous hurried notes,
That fell, one after one, yet all at once,
Like pearl beads dropping sudden from their string :
And then another, then another strain,
Each like a dove leaving its olive perch,
With music wing'd instead of silent plumes,
To hover round my head, and make me sick
Of joy and grief at once. Grief overcame,
And I was stopping up my frantic ears,
When, past all hindrance of my trembling hands,
A voice came sweeter, sweeter than all tune,
And still it cried, 'Apollo! young Apollo!
The morning-bright Apollo! young Apollo!'
I fled, it follow'd me, and cried Apollo !'"
Ceas'd the bold strain, then deep the Saxon drain'd
The ruddy cup, and savage joy uncouth
Lit his blue gleaming eyes: nor sate unmov'd
The Briton Chiefs; fierce thoughts began to rise
Of ancient wars, and high ancestral fame.
Sudden came floating through the hall an air
So strangely sweet, the o'erwrought sense scarce felt
Its rich excess of pleasure; softer sounds
Melt never on the enchanted midnight cool,
By haunted spring, where elfin dancers trace
Green circlets on the moonlight dews; nor lull
Becalmed mariner from rocks, where basks
At summer noon the sea-maid; he his oar
Breathless suspends, and motionless his bark
Sleeps on the sleeping waters. Now the notes
So gently died away, the silence seem'd
Melodious; merry now and light and blithe
They danced on air: anon came tripping forth
In frolic grace a maiden troop, their locks [zone
Flower-wreathed, their snowy robes from clasped
Fell careless drooping, quick their glittering feet
Glanc'd o'er the pavement. Then the pomp of sound
Swell'd up, and mounted; as the stately swan,
Her milk-white neck embowered in arching spray,
Queens it along the waters, entered in
The lofty hall a shape so fair, it lull'd
The music into silence, yet itself
Pour'd out, prolonging the soft extacy,
The trembling and the touching of sweet sound.
Her grace of motion and of look, the smooth
And swimming majesty of step and tread,
The symmetry of form and feature, set
The soul afloat, even like delicious airs
Of flute or harp: as though she trod from earth,
And round her wore an emanating cloud
Of harmony, the Lady mov'd. Too proud
For less than absolute command, too soft
For aught but gentle amorous thought: her hair
Cluster'd, as from an orb of gold cast out
A dazzling and o'erpowering radiance, save
Here and there on her snowy neck repos'd
In a sooth'd brilliance some thin wandering tress.
The azure flashing of her eye was fring'd
With virgin meekness, and her tread, that seem'd
Earth to disdain, as softly fell on it
As the light dew-shower on a tuft of flowers.
The soul within seem'd feasting on high thoughts,
That to the outward form and feature gave
A loveliness of scorn, scorn that to feel
Was bliss, was sweet indulgence. Fast sank back
Those her fair harbingers, their modest eyes,
Downcast, and drooping low their slender necks
In graceful reverence; she, by wond'ring gaze
Unmov'd, and stifled murmurs of applause,
Nor yet unconscious, slowly won her way
To where the King, amid the festal pomp,
Sate loftiest; as she rais'd a fair-chas'd cup,
Something of sweet confusion overspread
Her features; something tremulous broke in
On her half-failing accents, as she said,
"Health to the King!"-the sparkling wine laugh'd
As eager 'twere to touch so fair a lip.
A moment, and the apparition bright
Had parted; as before, the sound of harps
Was wantoning about the festive hall.
HENGIST CONSULTS THE ORACLE.
And now have Hengist and Caswallon climb'd
The chariot of the Oracle: no wheels
Bear that strange car; like wind along the sea,
It glides along the rapid rein-deer's track.
Beauteous those gentle rein deer arched their necks
And cast their palmy antlers back, and spread
Their broad red nostrils to the wind; they hear
Old Hengist's voice, like arrows down the wind,
Like shot-stars through the welkin start they forth.
The car slides light, the deer bound fleet: they pass
Dark leagues of pine and fir, the filmy light,
Shivering with every motion of the wind,
On their brown path lies tremulous; o'er them sails,
Heard through the dismal foliage hissing shrill,
And hoarser groanings of the swaying boughs,
The funeral descant of the ominous birds.
Around them the prophetic milk white steeds,
Their necks yet virgin of the taming curb,
With all their loose long glories, arch, and pass
In solemn silence, and regardless paw
The unechoing earth. But that old German, set
Inflexible with bolder hand to draw
The veil of dusk futurity, disdains
These tamer omens. Still the car slides light,
The deer bound fleet, they pause not, save to quaff
The narrow cruise, to share their scanty store.
Like swallows o'er the glassy rivers smooth,
O'er the pellucid lake, with glittering breast
Yet wrinkled with its rippling waves, they skim;
The dead unstirring ocean bears them on;
Amid the immortal ice-hills wind they now.
In restless change, God's softer summer works
Glitter and fade, are born and die, but these,
Endiadem'd by undissolving snows,
High Potentates of winter's drear domain,
Accumulate their everlasting bulk;
Eternal and imperishable, stand
Amid Creation's swift inconstant round,
In majesty of silence undisturb'd,
Save when from their long-menacing brows they shake
The ruining Avalanche; unvisited
By motion, but of sailing clouds, when sleets
From their unwasting granary barb their darts,
And the grim North wind loads his rimy wings.
Nor trace of man, save many a fathom deep,
Haply dark signs of some tall people strange,
That walk'd the infant earth, may shroud profound
Their legends inaccessible. They soar
In headlong precipice, or pyramid
Linking the earth and heaven, to which the piles
Where those Egyptian despots rot sublime,
Or even that frantic Babylonian tower,
Were frivolous domes for laughter and for scorn.
Nor wants soft interchange of vale, where smiles
White mimicry of foliage and thin flower.
Feathery and fanlike spreads the leafy ice,
With dropping cup, and roving tendril loose,
As though the glassy dews o'er flower and herb
Their silken moisture had congeal'd, and yet
Within that slender veil their knots profuse
Blossom'd and blush'd with tender life, the couch
Less various where the fabled Zephyr fans
With his mild wings his Flora's bloomy locks;
But colourless and cold, these flowering vales
Seem meeter for decrepit Winter's head
To lie in numb repose. The car slides light,
The deer bound fleet, the long gray wilderness
Hath something of a roseate glimmering dim,
And widens still its pale expanse: when lo,
A light of azure, wavering to display
No sights, no shapes of darkness and of fear.
Tremblingly flash'd the inconstant meteor light,
Shewing thin forms, like virgins of this earth,
Save that all signs of human joy or grief,
The flush of passion, smile or tear had seem'd
On the fix'd brightness of each dazzling cheek,
Strange and unnatural: statues not unlike
By nature, in fantastic mood congeal'd
From purest snow, the fair of earth to shame,
Surpassing beauteous: breath of mortal life
Heaved not their bosoms, and no rosy blood
Tinged their full veins, yet mov'd they, and their
Were harmony. But three of that bright troop,
The loveliest and the wildest, stood aloof,
Enwrapt by what in human form were like
Impulse divine, of their fine nature seem'd
The eternal instinct. Them no less survey'd
Caswallon with the knitted brow of scorn,
Bitter he spake "No marvel Saxon souls
Revel in war's delights, so stern, so fierce
Their deities." Severe with wrath supprest,
As one ill brooking that irreverent mirth
Scoff'd the wild lore, himself ne'er dared to doubt,
Answer'd the son of Woden. "These, proud
So snowy, soft, and airy gentle, these
Are ministers of destiny and death,
The viewless Riders of the battle-field:
When sounds the rushing of their sable steeds,
Down sink the summon'd mighty, and expand Valhalla's cloudy portals; to their thrones, They the triumphant strangers lead, and pour Lavish the eternal beverage of the Gods.
THE FOUNTAIN OF SILOE-NIGHT.
Sweet fountain, once again I visit thee!
And thou art flowing on, and freshening still
The green moss, and the flowers that bend to thee,
Modestly with a soft unboastful murmur
Rejoicing at the blessings that thou bearest.
Pure, stainless, thou art flowing on; the stars
Make thee their mirror, and the moonlight beams
Course one another o'er thy silver bosom :
And yet thy flowing is through fields of blood,
And armed men their hot and weary brows
Slake with thy limpid and perennial coolness.
Even with such rare and singular purity
Mov'st thou, oh Miriam! in yon cruel city.
Men's eyes o'erwearied with the sights of war,
With tumult and with grief, repose on thee
As on a refuge and a sweet refreshment.
Voice at a distance.