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Full in the middle of this pleasantness There stood a marble altar, with a tress Of flowers budded newly; and the dew Had taken fairy phantasies to strew Daisies

upon

the sacred sward last eve, And so the dawned light in pomp receive. For 'twas the morn : Apollo's upward fire Made every eastern cloud a silvery pyre Of brightness so unsullied, that therein A melancholy spirit well might win Oblivion, and melt out his essence fine Into the winds : rain-scented eglantine Gave temperate sweets to that well-wooing sun; The lark was lost in him ; cold springs had run To warm their chilliest bubbles in the grass ; Man's voice was on the mountains; and the mass Of nature's lives and wonders pulsed tenfold, To feel this sun-rise and its glories old.

Now while the silent workings of the dawn Were busiest, into that self-same lawn All suddenly, with joyful cries, there sped A troop of little children garlanded; Who gathering round the altar, seem'd to pry Earnestly round as wishing to espy Some folk of holiday : nor had they waited For many moments, ere their ears were sated With a faint breath of music, which even then Fillid out its voice, and died away again. Within a little space again it gave Its airy swellings, with a gentle wave, To light-hung leaves, in smoothest echoes breaking Through copse-clad valleys,-ere their death, o'ertaking The surgy murmurs of the lonely sea.

And now, as deep into the wood as we
Might mark a lynx's eye, there glimmer'd light
Fair faces and a rush of garments white,
Plainer and plainer showing, till at last
Into the widest alley they all past,
Making directly for the woodland altar.
O kindly muse! let not my weak tongue falter
In telling of this goodly company,
Of their old piety, and of their glee:
But let a portion of ethereal dew
Fall on my head, and presently unmew
My soul; that I may dare, in wayfaring,
To stammer where old Chaucer used to sing.

Leading the way, young damsels danced along,
Bearing the burden of a shepherd's song;
Each having a white wicker, overbrimm'd
With April's tender younglings: next, well trimm’d,
A crowd of shepherds with as sunburnt looks
As
may

be read of in Arcadian books;
Such as sat listening round Apollo's pipe,
When the great deity, for earth too ripe,
Let his divinity o'erflowing die
In music, through the vales of Thessaly ;
Some idly trail'd their sheep-hooks on the ground,
And some kept up a shrilly mellow sound
With ebon-tipped flutes : close after these,
Now coming from beneath the forest trees,
A venerable priest full soberly,
Begirt with ministering looks : alway his eye

the matted turf he kept, And after him his sacred vestments swept. From his right hand there swung a vase, milk-white, Of mingled wine, out-sparkling generous light; And in his left he held a basket full Of all sweet herbs that searching eye could cull: Wild thyme, and valley-lilies whiter still Than Leda's love, and cresses from the rill. His aged head, crowned with beechen wreath, Seem'd like a poll of ivy in the teeth Of winter hoar. Then came another crowd Of shepherds, lifting in due time aloud Their share of the ditty. After them appear'd, , Up-follow'd by a multitude that rear'd Their voices to the clouds, a fair wrought car Easily rolling so as scarce to mar The freedom of three steeds of dapple brown: Who stood therein did seem of great renown Among the throng. His youth was fully blown, Showing like Ganymede to manhood grown ; And, for those simple times, his garments were A chieftain king's: beneath his breast, half bare, Was hung a silver bugle, and between His nervy knees there lay a boar-spear keen. A smile was on his countenance; he seem'd To common lookers-on, like one who dream'd Of idleness in groves Elysian : But there were some who feelingly could scan A lurking trouble in his nether lip, And see that oftentimes the reins would slip Through his forgotten hands: then would they sigh, And think of yellow leaves, of owlets' cry,

Steadfast

upon

Of logs piled solemnly.—Ah, well-a-day,
Why should our young Endymion pine away!

Soon the assembly, in a circle ranged, Stood silent round the shrine: each look was changed To sudden veneration : women meek Beckon'd their sons to silence; while each cheek Of virgin bloom paled gently for slight fear. Endymion too, without a forest peer, Stood, wan, and pale, and with an awed face, Among his brothers of the mountain chase. In midst of all, the venerable priest Eyed them with joy from greatest to the least, And, after lifting up his aged hands, Thus spake he: “Men of Latmos! shepherd bands ! Whose care it is to guard a thousand flocks : Whether descended from beneath the rocks That overtop your mountains; whether come From valleys where the pipe is never dumb; Or from your swelling downs, where sweet air stirs Blue hare-bells lightly, and where prickly furze Buds lavish gold; or ye, whose precious charge Nibble their fill at ocean's very marge, Whose mellow reeds are touch'd with sounds forlorn By the dim echoes of old Triton's horn: Mothers and wives ! who day by day prepare The scrip, with needments, for the mountain air; And all ye gentle girls who foster up Udderless lambs, and in a little cup Will put choice honey for a favor'd youth : Yea, every one attend ! for in good truth Our vows are wanting to our great god Pan. Are not our lowing heifers sleeker than

Night-swollen mushrooms ? Are not our wide plains
Speckled with countless fleeces! Have not rains
Green'd over April's lap! No howling sad
Sickens our fearful ewes; and we have had
Great bounty from Endymion our lord.
The earth is glad: the merry lark has pour'd
His early song against yon breezy sky,
That spreads so clear o'er our solemnity.”

Thus ending, on the shrine he heap'd a spire Of teeming sweets, enkindling sacred fire ; Anon he stain'd the thick and

spongy

sod With wine, in honor of the shepherd-god. Now while the earth was drinking it, and while Bay leaves were crackling in the fragrant pile, And gummy frankincense was sparkling bright 'Neath smothering parsley, and a hazy light Spread greyly eastward, thus a chorus sang :

"O thou, whose mighty palace roof doth hang From jagged trunks, and overshadoweth Eternal whispers, glooms, the birth, life, death Of unseen flowers in heavy peacefulness; Who lovest to see the hamadryads dress Their ruffled locks where meeting hazels darken; And through whole solemn hours dost sit, and hearken The dreary melody of bedded reedsIn desolate places, where dank moisture breeds The pipy hemlock to strange overgrowth, Bethinking thee, how melancholy loath Thou wast to lose fair Syrinx—do thou now, By thy love's milky brow!

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