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Hath then the gloomy Power Whose reign is in the tainted sepulchres
Seized on her sinless soul ?
Must then that peerless form,
As breathing marble, perish ?
Must putrefaction's breath
But loathsomeness and ruin ?
Stealing o'er sensation,
Chaseth into darkness ?
Will Ianthe wake again,
Yes ! she will wake again,
And silent those sweet lips,
Once breathing eloquence
Her dewy eyes are closed,
The baby Sleep is pillowed :
The bosom's stainless pride,
Around a marble column.
Hark! whence that rushing sound ?
That round a lonely ruin swells,
The enthusiast hears at evening :
50 'Tis wilder than the unmeasured notes Of that strange lyre whose strings The genii of the breezes sweep :
Those lines of rainbow light
Are such as may not find
Comparison on earth.
60 Their filmy pennons at her word they furl, And stop obedient to the reins of light:
These the Queen of spells drew in;
She spread a charm around the spot, And leaning graceful from the ethereal car, 65 Long did she gaze, and silently,
Upon the slumbering maid. Oh ! not the visioned poet in his dreams, When silvery clouds float through the wildered brain, When every sight of lovely, wild, and grand 70 Astonishes, enraptures, elevates,
When fancy at a glance combines
The wondrous and the beautifulSo bright, so fair, so wild a shape Hath ever yet beheld,
75 As that which reined the coursers of the air, And poured the magic of her gaze
Upon the maiden's sleep.
NOTES. 2. Death
Sleep. The personifica- | 49. Enthusiast, through French, from tion of Death and Sleep as twin- ecclesiastical Gr. enthousiastes, from brothers is as old as Homer.
enthousiazein, to be enthèos or 27. Ianthe (three syllables), “Violet.' enthous, full of the god (théos),
Shelley's first-born daughter was inspired, rapt, in ecstasy, raised to named 'Ianthe.'
a very high state of feeling.
ARETHUSA. [Arěthūsa was one of the Nereids, marine nymphs of the Mediterranean, 'lovely divinities dwelling with their father at the bottom of the sea.' The Alphēus was the chief river of the Peloponnesus (or Morea), rising in Arcadia, and disappearing and re-appearing several times in the earlier part of its course to the Ionian Sea. 'The subterranean descent of the river ... gave rise to the story about the river-god Alphēus and the nymph Arethusa. The latter (no doubt, some beautiful Arcadian damsel, dwelling on the bank of a freshwater stream], pursued by Alpheus, was changed by Artěmis (Diāna, protectress of virginity) into the fountain of Arethusa, in the island of Ortygia (which was peculiarly sacred to her), at Syracuse; but the god continued to pursue her under the sea, and attempted to mingle his stream with the fountain in Ortygia' (Smith's Classical Dictionary).
Shelley does not follow closely the classical form of the story. His Arethusa descends from the range of mountains that run along the north of Epirus, and project the Acroceraunian promontory (mod. Cape Linguetta) into the Ionian Sea. (Does he, intentionally or unintentionally, identify Arethusa with-say Arachthus or Arětho, the modern Arta? Or is he led off by the melody of ' Acroceraunian?' Or does he, by poetic license, transfer the Acroceraunian Mountains to Peloponnesus?) His Alpheus sweeps down from Erymanthus, the greatest mountain in Arcadia, as one of the tributaries, the Erymanthus, actually does—perhaps a not very serious license. Passing through the sea in flight and pursuit, they rise together at Enna (mod. Castrogiovanni), an ancient mountain town in the centre of Sicily, whence they descend commingled to the Ortygian shore.' In fact, a small river, the Dittaino (ancient Chrysas), does descend from Enna to join the Giarretta or Simeto (anc. Symæthus), which carries its waters into the sea a little to the north of Ortygia.]
From her couch of snows
From cloud and from crag,
With many a jag,
She leapt down the rocks,
With her rainbow locks
Her steps paved with green
The downward ravine
And gliding and springing
She went, ever singing In murmurs as soft as sleep ;
The Earth seemed to love her,
And Heaven smiled above her, As she lingered towards the deep.
Then Alpheus bold,
On his glacier cold,
And opened a chasm
In the rocks : with the spasm All Erymanthus shook.
And the black south wind
It concealed behind The urns of the silent snow,
And earthquake and thunder
Did rend in sunder The bars of the springs below.
The beard and the hair
Of the River-god were Seen through the torrent's sweep,
As he followed the light
Of the fleet Nymph's flight To the brink of the Dorian deep.
'O save me! O guide me !
And bid the deep hide me! For he grasps me now by the hair !'
The loud Ocean heard,
To its blue depth stirred, And divided at her prayer;
And under the water
The Earth's white daughter Fled like a sunny beam ;
Behind her descended
Her billows, unblended With the brackish Dorian stream.
Like a gloomy stain
On the emerald main, Alpheus rushed behind
As an eagle pursuing
A dove to its ruin
Under the bowers
Where the Ocean Powers Sit on their pearlèd thrones ;
Through the coral woods
Of the weltering floods; Over heaps of unvalued stones ;
Through the dim beams
Which amid the streams Weave a network of coloured light ;
And under the caves
Where the shadowy waves Are as green as the forest's night:
Outspeeding the shark,
And the sword-fish dark, Under the ocean foam,
And up through the rifts
Of the mountain clifts,
And now from their fountains
In Enna's mountains,
Like friends once parted
Grown single-hearted, They ply their watery tasks.
At sunrise they leap
From their cradles steep In the cave of the shelving hill ;
At noontide they flow
Through the woods below,
And at night they sleep