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Of all that is most beauteous - imaged there
In happier beauty; more pellucid streams,
An ampler ether, a diviner air,
And fields invested with purpureal gleams;
Climes which the sun, who sheds the brightest day
Earth knows, is all unworthy to survey.
Yet there the Soul shall enter which hath earned
That privilege by virtue. — " Ill,” said he,
"The end of man's existence I discerned,
Who from ignoble games and revelry
Could draw, when we had parted, vain delight
While tears were thy best pastime day and night:
And while my youthful peers, before my eyes
(Each Hero following his peculiar bent)
Prepared themselves for glorious enterprise
By martial sports, — or, seated in the tent,
Chieftains and kings in council were detained;
What time the fleet at Aulis lay enchained.
The wished-for wind was given : - I then revolved
The oracle, upon the silent sea;
And, if no worthier led the way, resolved
That, of a thousand vessels, mine should be
The foremost prow in pressing to the strand,
Mine the first blood that tinged the Trojan sand.
Yet bitter, oft-times bitter, was the pang
When of thy loss I thought, beloved Wife!
On thee too fondly did my memory hang,
And on the joys we shared in mortal life, -
The paths which we had trod - these fountains-flowers; My new-planned Cities, and unfinished Towers.
But should suspense permit the Foe to cry,
'Behold they tremble! - haughty their array,
Yet of their number no one dares to die?'
In soul I swept the indignity away:
Old frailties then recurred: - but lofty thought,
In act embodied, my deliverance wrought.
And thou, though strong in love, art all too weak
In reason, in self-government too slow;
I counsel thee by fortitude to seek
Our blest re-union in the shades below.
The invisible world with thee hath sympathised;
Be thy affections raised and solemnised.
Learn by a mortal yearning to ascend
Towards a higher object. Love was given,
Encouraged, sanctioned, chiefly for that end;
For this the passion to excess was driven
That self might be annulled; her bondage prove
The fetters of a dream, opposed to love.”
Aloud she shrieked! for Hermes re-appears!
Round the dear Shade she would have clung - 'tis vain: The hours are past too brief had they been years;
And him no mortal effort can detain:
Swift, toward the realms that know not earthly day,
He through the portal takes his silent way,
And on the palace floor a lifeless corse she lay.
By no weak pity might the Gods be moved;
She who thus perished, not without the crime
Of Lovers that in Reason's spite have loved,
Was doomed to wear out her appointed time,
Apart from happy Ghosts that gather flowers
Of blissful quiet 'mid unfading bowers.
Yet tears to human suffering are due;
And mortal hopes defeated and o'erthrown
Are mourned by man, and not by man alone,
As fondly he believes. - Upon the side
Of Hellespont (such faith was entertained)
A knot of spiry trees for ages grew
From out the tomb of him for whom she died;
And ever, when such stature they had gained
That Ilium's walls were subject to their view,
The trees' tall summits withered at the sight;
A constant interchange of growth and blight!*
SHOW me the noblest Youth of present time,
Whose trembling fancy would to love give birth;
Some God or Hero, from the Olympian clime
Returned, to seek a Consort upon earth;
Or, in no doubtful prospect, let me see
The brightest star of ages yet to be,
And I will mate and match him blissfully.
I will not fetch a Naiad from a flood
Pure as herself (song lacks not mightier power)
Nor leaf-crowned Dryad from a pathless wood,
Nor Sea-nymph glistening from her coral bower;
* For the account of these long-lived trees, see Pliny's Natural History, lib. xvi. cap. 44.; and for the features in the character of Protesilaus (page 48.) see the Iphigenia in Aulis of Euripides. Virgil places the Shade of Laodamia in a mournful region, among unhappy Lovers,
Mere Mortals bodied forth in vision still,
Shall with Mount Ida's triple lustre fill
The chaster coverts of a British hill.
Appear! — obey my lyre's command!
Come, like the Graces, hand in hand!
For ye, though not by birth allied,
Are Sisters in the bond of love;
And not the boldest tongue of envious pride
In you those interweavings could reprove
Which They, the progeny of Jove,
Learnt from the tuneful spheres that glide
In endless union earth and sea above."
-I speak in vain,—the pines have hushed their waving: A peerless Youth expectant at my side,
Breathless as they, with unabated craving
Looks to the earth, and to the vacant air;
And, with a wandering eye that seems to chide,
Asks of the clouds what Occupants they hide:
But why solicit more than sight could bear,
By casting on a moment all we dare?
Invoke we those bright Beings one by one,
And what was boldly promised, truly shall be done.
"Fear not this constraining measure!
Drawn by a poetic spell,
Lucida! from domes of pleasure,
Or from cottage-sprinkled dell,
Come to regions solitary,
Where the eagle builds her aery,
Above the hermit's long-forsaken cell!"
- She comes!-behold
That Figure, like a ship with silver sail!
Nearer she draws- a breeze uplifts her veil
As pure a sunshine and as soft a gale
As e'er, on herbage covering earthly mould,
Tempted the bird of Juno to unfold
His richest splendour, when his veering gait
And every motion of his starry train
Seem governed by a strain
Of music, audible to him alone.
O Lady, worthy of earth's proudest throne!
Nor less, by excellence of nature, fit
Beside an unambitious hearth to sit
Domestic queen, where grandeur is unknown;
What living man could fear
The worst of Fortune's malice, wert thou near,
Humbling that lily stem, thy sceptre meek,
That its fair flowers may brush from off his cheek
The too, too happy tear?
Queen and handmaid lowly!
Whose skill can speed the day with lively cares,
And banish melancholy
By all that mind invents or hand prepares;
O thou, against whose lip, without its smile,
And in its silence even, no heart is proof;
Whose goodness, sinking deep, would reconcile
The softest Nursling of a gorgeous palace
To the bare life beneath the hawthorn roof
Of Sherwood's archer, or in caves of Wallace-
Who that hath seen thy beauty could content
His soul with but a glimpse of heavenly day?
Who that hath loved thee, but would lay
His strong hand on the wind, if it were bent
To take thee in thy Majesty away?
-Pass onward (even the glancing deer
Till we depart intrude not here ;)