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Best Famous Uplifting Poems

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by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow | |


WHEN descends on the Atlantic 
The gigantic 
Storm-wind of the equinox  
Landward in his wrath he scourges 
The toiling surges 5 
Laden with seaweed from the rocks: 

From Bermuda's reefs; from edges 
Of sunken ledges  
In some far-off bright Azore; 
From Bahama and the dashing 10 
Surges of San Salvador; 

From the tumbling surf that buries 
The Orkneyan skerries  
Answering the hoarse Hebrides; 15 
And from wrecks of ships and drifting 
Spars uplifting 
On the desolate rainy seas;¡ª 

Ever drifting drifting drifting 
On the shifting 20 
Currents of the restless main; 
Till in sheltered coves and reaches 
Of sandy beaches  
All have found repose again.
So when storms of wild emotion 25 Strike the ocean Of the poet's soul erelong From each cave and rocky fastness In its vastness Floats some fragment of a song: 30 From the far-off isles enchanted Heaven has planted With the golden fruit of Truth; From the flashing surf whose vision Gleams Elysian 35 In the tropic clime of Youth; From the strong Will and the Endeavor That forever Wrestle with the tides of Fate; From the wreck of Hopes far-scattered 40 Tempest-shattered Floating waste and desolate;¡ª Ever drifting drifting drifting On the shifting Currents of the restless heart; 45 Till at length in books recorded They like hoarded Household words no more depart.

by Edgar Allan Poe | |


 By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have reached these lands but newly
From an ultimate dim Thule-
From a wild clime that lieth, sublime,
Out of SPACE- out of TIME.
Bottomless vales and boundless floods, And chasms, and caves, and Titan woods, With forms that no man can discover For the tears that drip all over; Mountains toppling evermore Into seas without a shore; Seas that restlessly aspire, Surging, unto skies of fire; Lakes that endlessly outspread Their lone waters- lone and dead,- Their still waters- still and chilly With the snows of the lolling lily.
By the lakes that thus outspread Their lone waters, lone and dead,- Their sad waters, sad and chilly With the snows of the lolling lily,- By the mountains- near the river Murmuring lowly, murmuring ever,- By the grey woods,- by the swamp Where the toad and the newt encamp- By the dismal tarns and pools Where dwell the Ghouls,- By each spot the most unholy- In each nook most melancholy- There the traveller meets aghast Sheeted Memories of the Past- Shrouded forms that start and sigh As they pass the wanderer by- White-robed forms of friends long given, In agony, to the Earth- and Heaven.
For the heart whose woes are legion 'Tis a peaceful, soothing region- For the spirit that walks in shadow 'Tis- oh, 'tis an Eldorado! But the traveller, travelling through it, May not- dare not openly view it! Never its mysteries are exposed To the weak human eye unclosed; So wills its King, who hath forbid The uplifting of the fringed lid; And thus the sad Soul that here passes Beholds it but through darkened glasses.
By a route obscure and lonely, Haunted by ill angels only, Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT, On a black throne reigns upright, I have wandered home but newly From this ultimate dim Thule.

by Petrarch | |



In quel bel viso, ch' i' sospiro e bramo.


On the fair face for which I long and sigh
Mine eyes were fasten'd with desire intense.
When, to my fond thoughts, Love, in best reply,
Her honour'd hand uplifting, shut me thence.
My heart there caught—as fish a fair hook by,
Or as a young bird on a limèd fence—
[Pg 223]For good deeds follow from example high,
To truth directed not its busied sense.
But of its one desire my vision reft,
As dreamingly, soon oped itself a way,
Which closed, its bliss imperfect had been left:
My soul between those rival glories lay,
Fill'd with a heavenly and new delight,
Whose strange surpassing sweets engross'd it quite.

by Lucy Maud Montgomery | |

The Gulls


Soft is the sky in the mist-kirtled east,
Light is abroad on the sea,
All of the heaven with silver is fleeced, 
Holding the sunrise in fee.
Lo! with a flash and uplifting of wings Down where the long ripples break, Cometh a bevy of glad-hearted things, 'Tis morn, for the gulls are awake.
II Slumberous calm on the ocean and shore Comes with the turn of the tide; Never a strong-sweeping pinion may soar, Where the tame fishing-boats ride! Far and beyond in blue deserts of sea Where the wild winds are at play, There may the spirits of sea-birds be free­ 'Tis noon, for the gulls are away.
III Over the rim of the sunset is blown Sea-dusk of purple and gold, Speed now the wanderers back to their own, Wings the most tireless must fold.
Homeward together at twilight they flock, Sated with joys of the deep Drowsily huddled on headland and rock­ 'Tis night, for the gulls are asleep.

by Lucy Maud Montgomery | |

In the Days of the Golden Rod

 Across the meadow in brooding shadow
I walk to drink of the autumn's wine­
The charm of story, the artist's glory,
To-day on these silvering hills is mine;
On height, in hollow, where'er I follow,
By mellow hillside and searing sod,
Its plumes uplifting, in light winds drifting,
I see the glimmer of golden-rod.
In this latest comer the vanished summer Has left its sunshine the world to cheer, And bids us remember in late September What beauty mates with the passing year.
The days that are fleetest are still the sweetest, And life is near to the heart of God, And the peace of heaven to earth is given In this wonderful time of the golden-rod.

by Algernon Charles Swinburne | |

The Halt Before Rome--September 1867

 Is it so, that the sword is broken,
Our sword, that was halfway drawn?
Is it so, that the light was a spark,
That the bird we hailed as the lark
Sang in her sleep in the dark,
And the song we took for a token
Bore false witness of dawn?

Spread in the sight of the lion,
Surely, we said, is the net
Spread but in vain, and the snare
Vain; for the light is aware,
And the common, the chainless air,
Of his coming whom all we cry on;
Surely in vain is it set.
Surely the day is on our side, And heaven, and the sacred sun; Surely the stars, and the bright Immemorial inscrutable night: Yea, the darkness, because of our light, Is no darkness, but blooms as a bower-side When the winter is over and done; Blooms underfoot with young grasses Green, and with leaves overhead, Windflowers white, and the low New-dropped blossoms of snow; And or ever the May winds blow, And or ever the March wind passes, Flames with anemones red.
We are here in the world's bower-garden, We that have watched out the snow.
Surely the fruitfuller showers, The splendider sunbeams are ours; Shall winter return on the flowers, And the frost after April harden, And the fountains in May not flow? We have in our hands the shining And the fire in our hearts of a star.
Who are we that our tongues should palter, Hearts bow down, hands falter, Who are clothed as with flame from the altar, That the kings of the earth, repining, Far off, watch from afar? Woe is ours if we doubt or dissemble, Woe, if our hearts not abide.
Are our chiefs not among us, we said, Great chiefs, living and dead, To lead us glad to be led? For whose sake, if a man of us tremble, He shall not be on our side.
What matter if these lands tarry, That tarried (we said) not of old? France, made drunken by fate, England, that bore up the weight Once of men's freedom, a freight Holy, but heavy to carry For hands overflowing with gold.
Though this be lame, and the other Fleet, but blind from the sun, And the race be no more to these, Alas! nor the palm to seize, Who are weary and hungry of ease, Yet, O Freedom, we said, O our mother, Is there not left to thee one? Is there not left of thy daughters, Is there not one to thine hand? Fairer than these, and of fame Higher from of old by her name; Washed in her tears, and in flame Bathed as in baptism of waters, Unto all men a chosen land.
Her hope in her heart was broken, Fire was upon her, and clomb, Hiding her, high as her head; And the world went past her, and said (We heard it say) she was dead; And now, behold, she bath spoken, She that was dead, saying, "Rome.
" O mother of all men's nations, Thou knowest if the deaf world heard! Heard not now to her lowest Depths, where the strong blood slowest Beats at her bosom, thou knowest, In her toils, in her dim tribulations, Rejoiced not, hearing the word.
The sorrowful, bound unto sorrow, The woe-worn people, and all That of old were discomforted, And men that famish for bread, And men that mourn for their dead, She bade them be glad on the morrow, Who endured in the day of her thrall.
The blind, and the people in prison, Souls without hope, without home, How glad were they all that heard! When the winged white flame of the word Passed over men's dust, and stirred Death; for Italia was risen, And risen her light upon Rome.
The light of her sword in the gateway Shone, an unquenchable flame, Bloodless, a sword to release, A light from the eyes of peace, To bid grief utterly cease, And the wrong of the old world straightway Pass from the face of her fame: Hers, whom we turn to and cry on, Italy, mother of men: From the light of the face of her glory, At the sound of the storm of her story, That the sanguine shadows and hoary Should flee from the foot of the lion, Lion-like, forth of his den.
As the answering of thunder to thunder Is the storm-beaten sound of her past; As the calling of sea unto sea Is the noise of her years yet to be; For this ye knew not is she, Whose bonds are broken in sunder; This is she at the last.
So spake we aloud, high-minded, Full of our will; and behold, The speech that was halfway spoken Breaks, as a pledge that is broken, As a king's pledge, leaving in token Grief only for high hopes blinded, New grief grafted on old.
We halt by the walls of the city, Within sound of the clash of her chain.
Hearing, we know that in there The lioness chafes in her lair, Shakes the storm of her hair, Struggles in hands without pity, Roars to the lion in vain.
Whose hand is stretched forth upon her? Whose curb is white with her foam? Clothed with the cloud of his deeds, Swathed in the shroud of his creeds, Who is this that has trapped her and leads, Who turns to despair and dishonour Her name, her name that was Rome? Over fields without harvest or culture, Over hordes without honour or love, Over nations that groan with their kings, As an imminent pestilence flings Swift death from her shadowing wings, So he, who hath claws as a vulture, Plumage and beak as a dove.
He saith, "I am pilot and haven, Light and redemption I am Unto souls overlaboured," he saith; And to all men the blast of his breath Is a savour of death unto death; And the Dove of his worship a raven, And a wolf-cub the life-giving Lamb.
He calls his sheep as a shepherd, Calls from the wilderness home, "Come unto me and be fed," To feed them with ashes for bread And grass from the graves of the dead, Leaps on the fold as a leopard, Slays, and says, "I am Rome," Rome, having rent her in sunder, With the clasp of an adder he clasps; Swift to shed blood are his feet, And his lips, that have man for their meat, Smoother than oil, and more sweet Than honey, but hidden thereunder Festers the poison of asps.
As swords are his tender mercies, His kisses as mortal stings; Under his hallowing hands Life dies down in all lands; Kings pray to him, prone where he stands, And his blessings, as other men's curses, Disanoint where they consecrate kings.
With an oil of unclean consecration, With effusion of blood and of tears, With uplifting of cross and of keys, Priest, though thou hallow us these, Yet even as they cling to thy knees Nation awakens by nation, King by king disappears.
How shall the spirit be loyal To the shell of a spiritless thing? Erred once, in only a word, The sweet great song that we heard Poured upon Tuscany, erred, Calling a crowned man royal That was no more than a king.
Sea-eagle of English feather, A song-bird beautiful-souled, She knew not them that she sang; The golden trumpet that rang From Florence, in vain for them, sprang As a note in the nightingales' weather Far over Fiesole rolled.
She saw not--happy, not seeing - Saw not as we with her eyes Aspromonte; she felt Never the heart in her melt As in us when the news was dealt Melted all hope out of being, Dropped all dawn from the skies.
In that weary funereal season, In that heart-stricken grief-ridden time, The weight of a king and the worth, With anger and sorrowful mirth, We weighed in the balance of earth, And light was his word as a treason, And heavy his crown as a crime.
Banners of kings shall ye follow None, and have thrones on your side None; ye shall gather and grow Silently, row upon row, Chosen of Freedom to go Gladly where darkness may swallow, Gladly where death may divide.
Have we not men with us royal, Men the masters of things? In the days when our life is made new, All souls perfect and true Shall adore whom their forefathers slew; And these indeed shall be loyal, And those indeed shall be kings.
Yet for a space they abide with us, Yet for a little they stand, Bearing the heat of the day.
When their presence is taken away, We shall wonder and worship, and say, "Was not a star on our side with us? Was not a God at our hand?" These, O men, shall ye honour, Liberty only, and these.
For thy sake and for all men's and mine, Brother, the crowns of them shine Lighting the way to her shrine, That our eyes may be fastened upon her, That our hands may encompass her knees.
In this day is the sign of her shown to you; Choose ye, to live or to die, Now is her harvest in hand; Now is her light in the land; Choose ye, to sink or to stand, For the might of her strength is made known to you Now, and her arm is on high.
Serve not for any man's wages, Pleasure nor glory nor gold; Not by her side are they won Who saith unto each of you, "Son, Silver and gold have I none; I give but the love of all ages, And the life of my people of old.
" Fear not for any man's terrors; Wait not for any man's word; Patiently, each in his place, Gird up your loins to the race; Following the print of her pace, Purged of desires and of errors, March to the tune ye have heard.
March to the tune of the voice of her, Breathing the balm of her breath, Loving the light of her skies.
Blessed is he on whose eyes Dawns but her light as he dies; Blessed are ye that make choice of her, Equal to life and to death.
Ye that when faith is nigh frozen, Ye that when hope is nigh gone, Still, over wastes, over waves, Still, among wrecks, among graves, Follow the splendour that saves, Happy, her children, her chosen, Loyally led of her on.
The sheep of the priests, and the cattle That feed in the penfolds of kings, Sleek is their flock and well-fed; Hardly she giveth you bread, Hardly a rest for the head, Till the day of the blast of the battle And the storm of the wind of her wings.
Ye that have joy in your living, Ye that are careful to live, You her thunders go by: Live, let men be, let them lie, Serve your season, and die; Gifts have your masters for giving, Gifts hath not Freedom to give; She, without shelter or station, She, beyond limit or bar, Urges to slumberless speed Armies that famish, that bleed, Sowing their lives for her seed, That their dust may rebuild her a nation, That their souls may relight her a star.
Happy are all they that follow her; Them shall no trouble cast down; Though she slay them, yet shall they trust in her, For unsure there is nought nor unjust in her, Blemish is none, neither rust in her; Though it threaten, the night shall not swallow her, Tempest and storm shall not drown.
Hither, O strangers, that cry for her, Holding your lives in your hands, Hither, for here is your light, Where Italy is, and her might; Strength shall be given you to fight, Grace shall be given you to die for her, For the flower, for the lady of lands; Turn ye, whose anguish oppressing you Crushes, asleep and awake, For the wrong which is wrought as of yore; That Italia may give of her store, Having these things to give and no more; Only her hands on you, blessing you; Only a pang for her sake; Only her bosom to die on; Only her heart for a home, And a name with her children to be From Calabrian to Adrian sea Famous in cities made free That ring to the roar of the lion Proclaiming republican Rome.

by Alan Seeger | |

Sonnet XVI: Who Shall Invoke Her

 Who shall invoke her, who shall be her priest,
With single rites the common debt to pay?
On some green headland fronting to the East
Our fairest boy shall kneel at break of day.
Naked, uplifting in a laden tray New milk and honey and sweet-tinctured wine, Not without twigs of clustering apple-spray To wreath a garland for Our Lady's shrine.
The morning planet poised above the sea Shall drop sweet influence through her drowsing lid; Dew-drenched, his delicate virginity Shall scarce disturb the flowers he kneels amid, That, waked so lightly, shall lift up their eyes, Cushion his knees, and nod between his thighs.

by Vachel Lindsay | |

Blanche Sweet


(After seeing the reel called "Oil and Water.
") Beauty has a throne-room In our humorous town, Spoiling its hob-goblins, Laughing shadows down.
Rank musicians torture Ragtime ballads vile, But we walk serenely Down the odorous aisle.
We forgive the squalor And the boom and squeal For the Great Queen flashes From the moving reel.
Just a prim blonde stranger In her early day, Hiding brilliant weapons, Too averse to play, Then she burst upon us Dancing through the night.
Oh, her maiden radiance, Veils and roses white.
With new powers, yet cautious, Not too smart or skilled, That first flash of dancing Wrought the thing she willed:— Mobs of us made noble By her strong desire, By her white, uplifting, Royal romance-fire.
Though the tin piano Snarls its tango rude, Though the chairs are shaky And the dramas crude, Solemn are her motions, Stately are her wiles, Filling oafs with wisdom, Saving souls with smiles; 'Mid the restless actors She is rich and slow.
She will stand like marble, She will pause and glow, Though the film is twitching, Keep a peaceful reign, Ruler of her passion, Ruler of our pain!

by John Keats | |

Endymion: Book I

A Poetic Romance.
Book I A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: Its loveliness increases; it will never Pass into nothingness; but still will keep A bower quiet for us, and a sleep Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing A flowery band to bind us to the earth, Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth Of noble natures, of the gloomy days, Of all the unhealthy and o'er-darkened ways Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all, Some shape of beauty moves away the pall From our dark spirits.
Such the sun, the moon, Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon For simple sheep; and such are daffodils With the green world they live in; and clear rills That for themselves a cooling covert make 'Gainst the hot season; the mid forest brake, Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms: And such too is the grandeur of the dooms We have imagined for the mighty dead; All lovely tales that we have heard or read: An endless fountain of immortal drink, Pouring unto us from the heaven's brink.
Nor do we merely feel these essences For one short hour; no, even as the trees That whisper round a temple become soon Dear as the temple's self, so does the moon, The passion poesy, glories infinite, Haunt us till they become a cheering light Unto our souls, and bound to us so fast, That, whether there be shine, or gloom o'ercast, They alway must be with us, or we die.
Therefore, 'tis with full happiness that I Will trace the story of Endymion.
The very music of the name has gone Into my being, and each pleasant scene Is growing fresh before me as the green Of our own vallies: so I will begin Now while I cannot hear the city's din; Now while the early budders are just new, And run in mazes of the youngest hue About old forests; while the willow trails Its delicate amber; and the dairy pails Bring home increase of milk.
And, as the year Grows lush in juicy stalks, I'll smoothly steer My little boat, for many quiet hours, With streams that deepen freshly into bowers.
Many and many a verse I hope to write, Before the daisies, vermeil rimm'd and white, Hide in deep herbage; and ere yet the bees Hum about globes of clover and sweet peas, I must be near the middle of my story.
O may no wintry season, bare and hoary, See it half finished: but let Autumn bold, With universal tinge of sober gold, Be all about me when I make an end.
And now at once, adventuresome, I send My herald thought into a wilderness: There let its trumpet blow, and quickly dress My uncertain path with green, that I may speed Easily onward, thorough flowers and weed.
Upon the sides of Latmos was outspread A mighty forest; for the moist earth fed So plenteously all weed-hidden roots Into o'er-hanging boughs, and precious fruits.
And it had gloomy shades, sequestered deep, Where no man went; and if from shepherd's keep A lamb strayed far a-down those inmost glens, Never again saw he the happy pens Whither his brethren, bleating with content, Over the hills at every nightfall went.
Among the shepherds, 'twas believed ever, That not one fleecy lamb which thus did sever From the white flock, but pass'd unworried By angry wolf, or pard with prying head, Until it came to some unfooted plains Where fed the herds of Pan: ay great his gains Who thus one lamb did lose.
Paths there were many, Winding through palmy fern, and rushes fenny, And ivy banks; all leading pleasantly To a wide lawn, whence one could only see Stems thronging all around between the swell Of turf and slanting branches: who could tell The freshness of the space of heaven above, Edg'd round with dark tree tops? through which a dove Would often beat its wings, and often too A little cloud would move across the blue.
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 puls'd 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, seemed 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 ev'n then Fill'd 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 vallies,--ere their death, oer-taking The surgy murmurs of the lonely sea.
And now, as deep into the wood as we Might mark a lynx's eye, there glimmered light Fair faces and a rush of garments white, Plainer and plainer shewing, till at last Into the widest alley they all past, Making directly for the woodland altar.
O kindly muse! let not my weak tongue faulter 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 song; Each having a white wicker over brimm'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'er-flowing die In music, through the vales of Thessaly: Some idly trailed 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 ministring looks: alway his eye Stedfast upon 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-followed 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, Shewing 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, Of logs piled solemnly.
--Ah, well-a-day, Why should our young Endymion pine away! Soon the assembly, in a circle rang'd, Stood silent round the shrine: each look was chang'd 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 vallies 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 favoured 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 honour 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 lov'st 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 reeds-- In desolate places, where dank moisture breeds The pipy hemlock to strange overgrowth; Bethinking thee, how melancholy loth Thou wast to lose fair Syrinx--do thou now, By thy love's milky brow! By all the trembling mazes that she ran, Hear us, great Pan! "O thou, for whose soul-soothing quiet, turtles Passion their voices cooingly 'mong myrtles, What time thou wanderest at eventide Through sunny meadows, that outskirt the side Of thine enmossed realms: O thou, to whom Broad leaved fig trees even now foredoom Their ripen'd fruitage; yellow girted bees Their golden honeycombs; our village leas Their fairest-blossom'd beans and poppied corn; The chuckling linnet its five young unborn, To sing for thee; low creeping strawberries Their summer coolness; pent up butterflies Their freckled wings; yea, the fresh budding year All its completions--be quickly near, By every wind that nods the mountain pine, O forester divine! "Thou, to whom every fawn and satyr flies For willing service; whether to surprise The squatted hare while in half sleeping fit; Or upward ragged precipices flit To save poor lambkins from the eagle's maw; Or by mysterious enticement draw Bewildered shepherds to their path again; Or to tread breathless round the frothy main, And gather up all fancifullest shells For thee to tumble into Naiads' cells, And, being hidden, laugh at their out-peeping; Or to delight thee with fantastic leaping, The while they pelt each other on the crown With silvery oak apples, and fir cones brown-- By all the echoes that about thee ring, Hear us, O satyr king! "O Hearkener to the loud clapping shears, While ever and anon to his shorn peers A ram goes bleating: Winder of the horn, When snouted wild-boars routing tender corn Anger our huntsman: Breather round our farms, To keep off mildews, and all weather harms: Strange ministrant of undescribed sounds, That come a swooning over hollow grounds, And wither drearily on barren moors: Dread opener of the mysterious doors Leading to universal knowledge--see, Great son of Dryope, The many that are come to pay their vows With leaves about their brows! Be still the unimaginable lodge For solitary thinkings; such as dodge Conception to the very bourne of heaven, Then leave the naked brain: be still the leaven, That spreading in this dull and clodded earth Gives it a touch ethereal--a new birth: Be still a symbol of immensity; A firmament reflected in a sea; An element filling the space between; An unknown--but no more: we humbly screen With uplift hands our foreheads, lowly bending, And giving out a shout most heaven rending, Conjure thee to receive our humble Paean, Upon thy Mount Lycean! Even while they brought the burden to a close, A shout from the whole multitude arose, That lingered in the air like dying rolls Of abrupt thunder, when Ionian shoals Of dolphins bob their noses through the brine.
Meantime, on shady levels, mossy fine, Young companies nimbly began dancing To the swift treble pipe, and humming string.
Aye, those fair living forms swam heavenly To tunes forgotten--out of memory: Fair creatures! whose young children's children bred Thermopylæ its heroes--not yet dead, But in old marbles ever beautiful.
High genitors, unconscious did they cull Time's sweet first-fruits--they danc'd to weariness, And then in quiet circles did they press The hillock turf, and caught the latter end Of some strange history, potent to send A young mind from its bodily tenement.
Or they might watch the quoit-pitchers, intent On either side; pitying the sad death Of Hyacinthus, when the cruel breath Of Zephyr slew him,--Zephyr penitent, Who now, ere Phoebus mounts the firmament, Fondles the flower amid the sobbing rain.
The archers too, upon a wider plain, Beside the feathery whizzing of the shaft, And the dull twanging bowstring, and the raft Branch down sweeping from a tall ash top, Call'd up a thousand thoughts to envelope Those who would watch.
Perhaps, the trembling knee And frantic gape of lonely Niobe, Poor, lonely Niobe! when her lovely young Were dead and gone, and her caressing tongue Lay a lost thing upon her paly lip, And very, very deadliness did nip Her motherly cheeks.
Arous'd from this sad mood By one, who at a distance loud halloo'd, Uplifting his strong bow into the air, Many might after brighter visions stare: After the Argonauts, in blind amaze Tossing about on Neptune's restless ways, Until, from the horizon's vaulted side, There shot a golden splendour far and wide, Spangling those million poutings of the brine With quivering ore: 'twas even an awful shine From the exaltation of Apollo's bow; A heavenly beacon in their dreary woe.
Who thus were ripe for high contemplating, Might turn their steps towards the sober ring Where sat Endymion and the aged priest 'Mong shepherds gone in eld, whose looks increas'd The silvery setting of their mortal star.
There they discours'd upon the fragile bar That keeps us from our homes ethereal; And what our duties there: to nightly call Vesper, the beauty-crest of summer weather; To summon all the downiest clouds together For the sun's purple couch; to emulate In ministring the potent rule of fate With speed of fire-tailed exhalations; To tint her pallid cheek with bloom, who cons Sweet poesy by moonlight: besides these, A world of other unguess'd offices.
Anon they wander'd, by divine converse, Into Elysium; vieing to rehearse Each one his own anticipated bliss.
One felt heart-certain that he could not miss His quick gone love, among fair blossom'd boughs, Where every zephyr-sigh pouts and endows Her lips with music for the welcoming.
Another wish'd, mid that eternal spring, To meet his rosy child, with feathery sails, Sweeping, eye-earnestly, through almond vales: Who, suddenly, should stoop through the smooth wind, And with the balmiest leaves his temples bind; And, ever after, through those regions be His messenger, his little Mercury.
Some were athirst in soul to see again Their fellow huntsmen o'er the wide champaign In times long past; to sit with them, and talk Of all the chances in their earthly walk; Comparing, joyfully, their plenteous stores Of happiness, to when upon the moors, Benighted, close they huddled from the cold, And shar'd their famish'd scrips.
Thus all out-told Their fond imaginations,--saving him Whose eyelids curtain'd up their jewels dim, Endymion: yet hourly had he striven To hide the cankering venom, that had riven His fainting recollections.
Now indeed His senses had swoon'd off: he did not heed The sudden silence, or the whispers low, Or the old eyes dissolving at his woe, Or anxious calls, or close of trembling palms, Or maiden's sigh, that grief itself embalms: But in the self-same fixed trance he kept, Like one who on the earth had never stept.
Aye, even as dead-still as a marble man, Frozen in that old tale Arabian.
Who whispers him so pantingly and close? Peona, his sweet sister: of all those, His friends, the dearest.
Hushing signs she made, And breath'd a sister's sorrow to persuade A yielding up, a cradling on her care.
Her eloquence did breathe away the curse: She led him, like some midnight spirit nurse Of happy changes in emphatic dreams, Along a path between two little streams,-- Guarding his forehead, with her round elbow, From low-grown branches, and his footsteps slow From stumbling over stumps and hillocks small; Until they came to where these streamlets fall, With mingled bubblings and a gentle rush, Into a river, clear, brimful, and flush With crystal mocking of the trees and sky.
A little shallop, floating there hard by, Pointed its beak over the fringed bank; And soon it lightly dipt, and rose, and sank, And dipt again, with the young couple's weight,-- Peona guiding, through the water straight, Towards a bowery island opposite; Which gaining presently, she steered light Into a shady, fresh, and ripply cove, Where nested was an arbour, overwove By many a summer's silent fingering; To whose cool bosom she was used to bring Her playmates, with their needle broidery, And minstrel memories of times gone by.
So she was gently glad to see him laid Under her favourite bower's quiet shade, On her own couch, new made of flower leaves, Dried carefully on the cooler side of sheaves When last the sun his autumn tresses shook, And the tann'd harvesters rich armfuls took.
Soon was he quieted to slumbrous rest: But, ere it crept upon him, he had prest Peona's busy hand against his lips, And still, a sleeping, held her finger-tips In tender pressure.
And as a willow keeps A patient watch over the stream that creeps Windingly by it, so the quiet maid Held her in peace: so that a whispering blade Of grass, a wailful gnat, a bee bustling Down in the blue-bells, or a wren light rustling Among seer leaves and twigs, might all be heard.
O magic sleep! O comfortable bird, That broodest o'er the troubled sea of the mind Till it is hush'd and smooth! O unconfin'd Restraint! imprisoned liberty! great key To golden palaces, strange minstrelsy, Fountains grotesque, new trees, bespangled caves, Echoing grottos, full of tumbling waves And moonlight; aye, to all the mazy world Of silvery enchantment!--who, upfurl'd Beneath thy drowsy wing a triple hour, But renovates and lives?--Thus, in the bower, Endymion was calm'd to life again.
Opening his eyelids with a healthier brain, He said: "I feel this thine endearing love All through my bosom: thou art as a dove Trembling its closed eyes and sleeked wings About me; and the pearliest dew not brings Such morning incense from the fields of May, As do those brighter drops that twinkling stray From those kind eyes,--the very home and haunt Of sisterly affection.
Can I want Aught else, aught nearer heaven, than such tears? Yet dry them up, in bidding hence all fears That, any longer, I will pass my days Alone and sad.
No, I will once more raise My voice upon the mountain-heights; once more Make my horn parley from their foreheads hoar: Again my trooping hounds their tongues shall loll Around the breathed boar: again I'll poll The fair-grown yew tree, for a chosen bow: And, when the pleasant sun is getting low, Again I'll linger in a sloping mead To hear the speckled thrushes, and see feed Our idle sheep.
So be thou cheered sweet, And, if thy lute is here, softly intreat My soul to keep in its resolved course.
" Hereat Peona, in their silver source, Shut her pure sorrow drops with glad exclaim, And took a lute, from which there pulsing came A lively prelude, fashioning the way In which her voice should wander.
'Twas a lay More subtle cadenced, more forest wild Than Dryope's lone lulling of her child; And nothing since has floated in the air So mournful strange.
Surely some influence rare Went, spiritual, through the damsel's hand; For still, with Delphic emphasis, she spann'd The quick invisible strings, even though she saw Endymion's spirit melt away and thaw Before the deep intoxication.
But soon she came, with sudden burst, upon Her self-possession--swung the lute aside, And earnestly said: "Brother, 'tis vain to hide That thou dost know of things mysterious, Immortal, starry; such alone could thus Weigh down thy nature.
Hast thou sinn'd in aught Offensive to the heavenly powers? Caught A Paphian dove upon a message sent? Thy deathful bow against some deer-herd bent, Sacred to Dian? Haply, thou hast seen Her naked limbs among the alders green; And that, alas! is death.
No, I can trace Something more high perplexing in thy face!" Endymion look'd at her, and press'd her hand, And said, "Art thou so pale, who wast so bland And merry in our meadows? How is this? Tell me thine ailment: tell me all amiss!-- Ah! thou hast been unhappy at the change Wrought suddenly in me.
What indeed more strange? Or more complete to overwhelm surmise? Ambition is no sluggard: 'tis no prize, That toiling years would put within my grasp, That I have sigh'd for: with so deadly gasp No man e'er panted for a mortal love.
So all have set my heavier grief above These things which happen.
Rightly have they done: I, who still saw the horizontal sun Heave his broad shoulder o'er the edge of the world, Out-facing Lucifer, and then had hurl'd My spear aloft, as signal for the chace-- I, who, for very sport of heart, would race With my own steed from Araby; pluck down A vulture from his towery perching; frown A lion into growling, loth retire-- To lose, at once, all my toil breeding fire, And sink thus low! but I will ease my breast Of secret grief, here in this bowery nest.
"This river does not see the naked sky, Till it begins to progress silverly Around the western border of the wood, Whence, from a certain spot, its winding flood Seems at the distance like a crescent moon: And in that nook, the very pride of June, Had I been used to pass my weary eves; The rather for the sun unwilling leaves So dear a picture of his sovereign power, And I could witness his most kingly hour, When he doth lighten up the golden reins, And paces leisurely down amber plains His snorting four.
Now when his chariot last Its beams against the zodiac-lion cast, There blossom'd suddenly a magic bed Of sacred ditamy, and poppies red: At which I wondered greatly, knowing well That but one night had wrought this flowery spell; And, sitting down close by, began to muse What it might mean.
Perhaps, thought I, Morpheus, In passing here, his owlet pinions shook; Or, it may be, ere matron Night uptook Her ebon urn, young Mercury, by stealth, Had dipt his rod in it: such garland wealth Came not by common growth.
Thus on I thought, Until my head was dizzy and distraught.
Moreover, through the dancing poppies stole A breeze, most softly lulling to my soul; And shaping visions all about my sight Of colours, wings, and bursts of spangly light; The which became more strange, and strange, and dim, And then were gulph'd in a tumultuous swim: And then I fell asleep.
Ah, can I tell The enchantment that afterwards befel? Yet it was but a dream: yet such a dream That never tongue, although it overteem With mellow utterance, like a cavern spring, Could figure out and to conception bring All I beheld and felt.
Methought I lay Watching the zenith, where the milky way Among the stars in virgin splendour pours; And travelling my eye, until the doors Of heaven appear'd to open for my flight, I became loth and fearful to alight From such high soaring by a downward glance: So kept me stedfast in that airy trance, Spreading imaginary pinions wide.
When, presently, the stars began to glide, And faint away, before my eager view: At which I sigh'd that I could not pursue, And dropt my vision to the horizon's verge; And lo! from opening clouds, I saw emerge The loveliest moon, that ever silver'd o'er A shell for Neptune's goblet: she did soar So passionately bright, my dazzled soul Commingling with her argent spheres did roll Through clear and cloudy, even when she went At last into a dark and vapoury tent-- Whereat, methought, the lidless-eyed train Of planets all were in the blue again.
To commune with those orbs, once more I rais'd My sight right upward: but it was quite dazed By a bright something, sailing down apace, Making me quickly veil my eyes and face: Again I look'd, and, O ye deities, Who from Olympus watch our destinies! Whence that completed form of all completeness? Whence came that high perfection of all sweetness? Speak, stubborn earth, and tell me where, O Where Hast thou a symbol of her golden hair? Not oat-sheaves drooping in the western sun; Not--thy soft hand, fair sister! let me shun Such follying before thee--yet she had, Indeed, locks bright enough to make me mad; And they were simply gordian'd up and braided, Leaving, in naked comeliness, unshaded, Her pearl round ears, white neck, and orbed brow; The which were blended in, I know not how, With such a paradise of lips and eyes, Blush-tinted cheeks, half smiles, and faintest sighs, That, when I think thereon, my spirit clings And plays about its fancy, till the stings Of human neighbourhood envenom all.
Unto what awful power shall I call? To what high fane?--Ah! see her hovering feet, More bluely vein'd, more soft, more whitely sweet Than those of sea-born Venus, when she rose From out her cradle shell.
The wind out-blows Her scarf into a fluttering pavilion; 'Tis blue, and over-spangled with a million Of little eyes, as though thou wert to shed, Over the darkest, lushest blue-bell bed, Handfuls of daisies.
"--"Endymion, how strange! Dream within dream!"--"She took an airy range, And then, towards me, like a very maid, Came blushing, waning, willing, and afraid, And press'd me by the hand: Ah! 'twas too much; Methought I fainted at the charmed touch, Yet held my recollection, even as one Who dives three fathoms where the waters run Gurgling in beds of coral: for anon, I felt upmounted in that region Where falling stars dart their artillery forth, And eagles struggle with the buffeting north That balances the heavy meteor-stone;-- Felt too, I was not fearful, nor alone, But lapp'd and lull'd along the dangerous sky.
Soon, as it seem'd, we left our journeying high, And straightway into frightful eddies swoop'd; Such as ay muster where grey time has scoop'd Huge dens and caverns in a mountain's side: There hollow sounds arous'd me, and I sigh'd To faint once more by looking on my bliss-- I was distracted; madly did I kiss The wooing arms which held me, and did give My eyes at once to death: but 'twas to live, To take in draughts of life from the gold fount Of kind and passionate looks; to count, and count The moments, by some greedy help that seem'd A second self, that each might be redeem'd And plunder'd of its load of blessedness.
Ah, desperate mortal! I ev'n dar'd to press Her very cheek against my crowned lip, And, at that moment, felt my body dip Into a warmer air: a moment more, Our feet were soft in flowers.
There was store Of newest joys upon that alp.
Sometimes A scent of violets, and blossoming limes, Loiter'd around us; then of honey cells, Made delicate from all white-flower bells; And once, above the edges of our nest, An arch face peep'd,--an Oread as I guess'd.
"Why did I dream that sleep o'er-power'd me In midst of all this heaven? Why not see, Far off, the shadows of his pinions dark, And stare them from me? But no, like a spark That needs must die, although its little beam Reflects upon a diamond, my sweet dream Fell into nothing--into stupid sleep.
And so it was, until a gentle creep, A careful moving caught my waking ears, And up I started: Ah! my sighs, my tears, My clenched hands;--for lo! the poppies hung Dew-dabbled on their stalks, the ouzel sung A heavy ditty, and the sullen day Had chidden herald Hesperus away, With leaden looks: the solitary breeze Bluster'd, and slept, and its wild self did teaze With wayward melancholy; and r thought, Mark me, Peona! that sometimes it brought Faint fare-thee-wells, and sigh-shrilled adieus!-- Away I wander'd--all the pleasant hues Of heaven and earth had faded: deepest shades Were deepest dungeons; heaths and sunny glades Were full of pestilent light; our taintless rills Seem'd sooty, and o'er-spread with upturn'd gills Of dying fish; the vermeil rose had blown In frightful scarlet, and its thorns out-grown Like spiked aloe.
If an innocent bird Before my heedless footsteps stirr'd, and stirr'd In little journeys, I beheld in it A disguis'd demon, missioned to knit My soul with under darkness; to entice My stumblings down some monstrous precipice: Therefore I eager followed, and did curse The disappointment.
Time, that aged nurse, Rock'd me to patience.
Now, thank gentle heaven! These things, with all their comfortings, are given To my down-sunken hours, and with thee, Sweet sister, help to stem the ebbing sea Of weary life.
" Thus ended he, and both Sat silent: for the maid was very loth To answer; feeling well that breathed words Would all be lost, unheard, and vain as swords Against the enchased crocodile, or leaps Of grasshoppers against the sun.
She weeps, And wonders; struggles to devise some blame; To put on such a look as would say, Shame On this poor weakness! but, for all her strife, She could as soon have crush'd away the life From a sick dove.
At length, to break the pause, She said with trembling chance: "Is this the cause? This all? Yet it is strange, and sad, alas! That one who through this middle earth should pass Most like a sojourning demi-god, and leave His name upon the harp-string, should achieve No higher bard than simple maidenhood, Singing alone, and fearfully,--how the blood Left his young cheek; and how he used to stray He knew not where; and how he would say, nay, If any said 'twas love: and yet 'twas love; What could it be but love? How a ring-dove Let fall a sprig of yew tree in his path; And how he died: and then, that love doth scathe, The gentle heart, as northern blasts do roses; And then the ballad of his sad life closes With sighs, and an alas!--Endymion! Be rather in the trumpet's mouth,--anon Among the winds at large--that all may hearken! Although, before the crystal heavens darken, I watch and dote upon the silver lakes Pictur'd in western cloudiness, that takes The semblance of gold rocks and bright gold sands, Islands, and creeks, and amber-fretted strands With horses prancing o'er them, palaces And towers of amethyst,--would I so tease My pleasant days, because I could not mount Into those regions? The Morphean fount Of that fine element that visions, dreams, And fitful whims of sleep are made of, streams Into its airy channels with so subtle, So thin a breathing, not the spider's shuttle, Circled a million times within the space Of a swallow's nest-door, could delay a trace, A tinting of its quality: how light Must dreams themselves be; seeing they're more slight Than the mere nothing that engenders them! Then wherefore sully the entrusted gem Of high and noble life with thoughts so sick? Why pierce high-fronted honour to the quick For nothing but a dream?" Hereat the youth Look'd up: a conflicting of shame and ruth Was in his plaited brow: yet his eyelids Widened a little, as when Zephyr bids A little breeze to creep between the fans Of careless butterflies: amid his pains He seem'd to taste a drop of manna-dew, Full palatable; and a colour grew Upon his cheek, while thus he lifeful spake.
"Peona! ever have I long'd to slake My thirst for the world's praises: nothing base, No merely slumberous phantasm, could unlace The stubborn canvas for my voyage prepar'd-- Though now 'tis tatter'd; leaving my bark bar'd And sullenly drifting: yet my higher hope Is of too wide, too rainbow-large a scope, To fret at myriads of earthly wrecks.
Wherein lies happiness? In that which becks Our ready minds to fellowship divine, A fellowship with essence; till we shine, Full alchemiz'd, and free of space.
Behold The clear religion of heaven! Fold A rose leaf round thy finger's taperness, And soothe thy lips: hist, when the airy stress Of music's kiss impregnates the free winds, And with a sympathetic touch unbinds Eolian magic from their lucid wombs: Then old songs waken from enclouded tombs; Old ditties sigh above their father's grave; Ghosts of melodious prophecyings rave Round every spot where trod Apollo's foot; Bronze clarions awake, and faintly bruit, Where long ago a giant battle was; And, from the turf, a lullaby doth pass In every place where infant Orpheus slept.
Feel we these things?--that moment have we stept Into a sort of oneness, and our state Is like a floating spirit's.
But there are Richer entanglements, enthralments far More self-destroying, leading, by degrees, To the chief intensity: the crown of these Is made of love and friendship, and sits high Upon the forehead of humanity.
All its more ponderous and bulky worth Is friendship, whence there ever issues forth A steady splendour; but at the tip-top, There hangs by unseen film, an orbed drop Of light, and that is love: its influence, Thrown in our eyes, genders a novel sense, At which we start and fret; till in the end, Melting into its radiance, we blend, Mingle, and so become a part of it,-- Nor with aught else can our souls interknit So wingedly: when we combine therewith, Life's self is nourish'd by its proper pith, And we are nurtured like a pelican brood.
Aye, so delicious is the unsating food, That men, who might have tower'd in the van Of all the congregated world, to fan And winnow from the coming step of time All chaff of custom, wipe away all slime Left by men-slugs and human serpentry, Have been content to let occasion die, Whilst they did sleep in love's elysium.
And, truly, I would rather be struck dumb, Than speak against this ardent listlessness: For I have ever thought that it might bless The world with benefits unknowingly; As does the nightingale, upperched high, And cloister'd among cool and bunched leaves-- She sings but to her love, nor e'er conceives How tiptoe Night holds back her dark-grey hood.
Just so may love, although 'tis understood The mere commingling of passionate breath, Produce more than our searching witnesseth: What I know not: but who, of men, can tell That flowers would bloom, or that green fruit would swell To melting pulp, that fish would have bright mail, The earth its dower of river, wood, and vale, The meadows runnels, runnels pebble-stones, The seed its harvest, or the lute its tones, Tones ravishment, or ravishment its sweet, If human souls did never kiss and greet? "Now, if this earthly love has power to make Men's being mortal, immortal; to shake Ambition from their memories, and brim Their measure of content; what merest whim, Seems all this poor endeavour after fame, To one, who keeps within his stedfast aim A love immortal, an immortal too.
Look not so wilder'd; for these things are true, And never can be born of atomies That buzz about our slumbers, like brain-flies, Leaving us fancy-sick.
No, no, I'm sure, My restless spirit never could endure To brood so long upon one luxury, Unless it did, though fearfully, espy A hope beyond the shadow of a dream.
My sayings will the less obscured seem, When I have told thee how my waking sight Has made me scruple whether that same night Was pass'd in dreaming.
Hearken, sweet Peona! Beyond the matron-temple of Latona, Which we should see but for these darkening boughs, Lies a deep hollow, from whose ragged brows Bushes and trees do lean all round athwart, And meet so nearly, that with wings outraught, And spreaded tail, a vulture could not glide Past them, but he must brush on every side.
Some moulder'd steps lead into this cool cell, Far as the slabbed margin of a well, Whose patient level peeps its crystal eye Right upward, through the bushes, to the sky.
Oft have I brought thee flowers, on their stalks set Like vestal primroses, but dark velvet Edges them round, and they have golden pits: 'Twas there I got them, from the gaps and slits In a mossy stone, that sometimes was my seat, When all above was faint with mid-day heat.
And there in strife no burning thoughts to heed, I'd bubble up the water through a reed; So reaching back to boy-hood: make me ships Of moulted feathers, touchwood, alder chips, With leaves stuck in them; and the Neptune be Of their petty ocean.
Oftener, heavily, When love-lorn hours had left me less a child, I sat contemplating the figures wild Of o'er-head clouds melting the mirror through.
Upon a day, while thus I watch'd, by flew A cloudy Cupid, with his bow and quiver; So plainly character'd, no breeze would shiver The happy chance: so happy, I was fain To follow it upon the open plain, And, therefore, was just going; when, behold! A wonder, fair as any I have told-- The same bright face I tasted in my sleep, Smiling in the clear well.
My heart did leap Through the cool depth.
--It moved as if to flee-- I started up, when lo! refreshfully, There came upon my face, in plenteous showers, Dew-drops, and dewy buds, and leaves, and flowers, Wrapping all objects from my smothered sight, Bathing my spirit in a new delight.
Aye, such a breathless honey-feel of bliss Alone preserved me from the drear abyss Of death, for the fair form had gone again.
Pleasure is oft a visitant; but pain Clings cruelly to us, like the gnawing sloth On the deer's tender haunches: late, and loth, 'Tis scar'd away by slow returning pleasure.
How sickening, how dark the dreadful leisure Of weary days, made deeper exquisite, By a fore-knowledge of unslumbrous night! Like sorrow came upon me, heavier still, Than when I wander'd from the poppy hill: And a whole age of lingering moments crept Sluggishly by, ere more contentment swept Away at once the deadly yellow spleen.
Yes, thrice have I this fair enchantment seen; Once more been tortured with renewed life.
When last the wintry gusts gave over strife With the conquering sun of spring, and left the skies Warm and serene, but yet with moistened eyes In pity of the shatter'd infant buds,-- That time thou didst adorn, with amber studs, My hunting cap, because I laugh'd and smil'd, Chatted with thee, and many days exil'd All torment from my breast;--'twas even then, Straying about, yet, coop'd up in the den Of helpless discontent,--hurling my lance From place to place, and following at chance, At last, by hap, through some young trees it struck, And, plashing among bedded pebbles, stuck In the middle of a brook,--whose silver ramble Down twenty little falls, through reeds and bramble, Tracing along, it brought me to a cave, Whence it ran brightly forth, and white did lave The nether sides of mossy stones and rock,-- 'Mong which it gurgled blythe adieus, to mock Its own sweet grief at parting.
Overhead, Hung a lush screen of drooping weeds, and spread Thick, as to curtain up some wood-nymph's home.
"Ah! impious mortal, whither do I roam?" Said I, low voic'd: "Ah whither! 'Tis the grot Of Proserpine, when Hell, obscure and hot, Doth her resign; and where her tender hands She dabbles, on the cool and sluicy sands: Or 'tis the cell of Echo, where she sits, And babbles thorough silence, till her wits Are gone in tender madness, and anon, Faints into sleep, with many a dying tone Of sadness.
O that she would take my vows, And breathe them sighingly among the boughs, To sue her gentle ears for whose fair head, Daily, I pluck sweet flowerets from their bed, And weave them dyingly--send honey-whispers Round every leaf, that all those gentle lispers May sigh my love unto her pitying! O charitable echo! hear, and sing This ditty to her!--tell her"--so I stay'd My foolish tongue, and listening, half afraid, Stood stupefied with my own empty folly, And blushing for the freaks of melancholy.
Salt tears were coming, when I heard my name Most fondly lipp'd, and then these accents came: ‘Endymion! the cave is secreter Than the isle of Delos.
Echo hence shall stir No sighs but sigh-warm kisses, or light noise Of thy combing hand, the while it travelling cloys And trembles through my labyrinthine hair.
" At that oppress'd I hurried in.
--Ah! where Are those swift moments? Whither are they fled? I'll smile no more, Peona; nor will wed Sorrow the way to death, but patiently Bear up against it: so farewel, sad sigh; And come instead demurest meditation, To occupy me wholly, and to fashion My pilgrimage for the world's dusky brink.
No more will I count over, link by link, My chain of grief: no longer strive to find A half-forgetfulness in mountain wind Blustering about my ears: aye, thou shalt see, Dearest of sisters, what my life shall be; What a calm round of hours shall make my days.
There is a paly flame of hope that plays Where'er I look: but yet, I'll say 'tis naught-- And here I bid it die.
Have not I caught, Already, a more healthy countenance? By this the sun is setting; we may chance Meet some of our near-dwellers with my car.
" This said, he rose, faint-smiling like a star Through autumn mists, and took Peona's hand: They stept into the boat, and launch'd from land.

by John Keats | |



 Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
Far from the fiery noon, and eve's one star,
Sat gray-hair'd Saturn, quiet as a stone,
Still as the silence round about his lair;
Forest on forest hung above his head
Like cloud on cloud.
No stir of air was there, Not so much life as on a summer's day Robs not one light seed from the feather'd grass, But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.
A stream went voiceless by, still deadened more By reason of his fallen divinity Spreading a shade: the Naiad 'mid her reeds Press'd her cold finger closer to her lips.
Along the margin-sand large foot-marks went, No further than to where his feet had stray'd, And slept there since.
Upon the sodden ground His old right hand lay nerveless, listless, dead, Unsceptred; and his realmless eyes were closed; While his bow'd head seem'd list'ning to the Earth, His ancient mother, for some comfort yet.
It seem'd no force could wake him from his place; But there came one, who with a kindred hand Touch'd his wide shoulders, after bending low With reverence, though to one who knew it not.
She was a Goddess of the infant world; By her in stature the tall Amazon Had stood a pigmy's height: she would have ta'en Achilles by the hair and bent his neck; Or with a finger stay'd Ixion's wheel.
Her face was large as that of Memphian sphinx, Pedestal'd haply in a palace court, When sages look'd to Egypt for their lore.
But oh! how unlike marble was that face: How beautiful, if sorrow had not made Sorrow more beautiful than Beauty's self.
There was a listening fear in her regard, As if calamity had but begun; As if the vanward clouds of evil days Had spent their malice, and the sullen rear Was with its stored thunder labouring up.
One hand she press'd upon that aching spot Where beats the human heart, as if just there, Though an immortal, she felt cruel pain: The other upon Saturn's bended neck She laid, and to the level of his ear Leaning with parted lips, some words she spake In solemn tenor and deep organ tone: Some mourning words, which in our feeble tongue Would come in these like accents; O how frail To that large utterance of the early Gods! "Saturn, look up!---though wherefore, poor old King? I have no comfort for thee, no not one: I cannot say, 'O wherefore sleepest thou?' For heaven is parted from thee, and the earth Knows thee not, thus afflicted, for a God; And ocean too, with all its solemn noise, Has from thy sceptre pass'd; and all the air Is emptied of thine hoary majesty.
Thy thunder, conscious of the new command, Rumbles reluctant o'er our fallen house; And thy sharp lightning in unpractised hands Scorches and burns our once serene domain.
O aching time! O moments big as years! All as ye pass swell out the monstrous truth, And press it so upon our weary griefs That unbelief has not a space to breathe.
Saturn, sleep on:---O thoughtless, why did I Thus violate thy slumbrous solitude? Why should I ope thy melancholy eyes? Saturn, sleep on! while at thy feet I weep.
" As when, upon a tranced summer-night, Those green-rob'd senators of mighty woods, Tall oaks, branch-charmed by the earnest stars, Dream, and so dream all night without a stir, Save from one gradual solitary gust Which comes upon the silence, and dies off, As if the ebbing air had but one wave; So came these words and went; the while in tears She touch'd her fair large forehead to the ground, Just where her fallen hair might be outspread A soft and silken mat for Saturn's feet.
One moon, with alteration slow, had shed Her silver seasons four upon the night, And still these two were postured motionless, Like natural sculpture in cathedral cavern; The frozen God still couchant on the earth, And the sad Goddess weeping at his feet: Until at length old Saturn lifted up His faded eyes, and saw his kingdom gone, And all the gloom and sorrow ofthe place, And that fair kneeling Goddess; and then spake, As with a palsied tongue, and while his beard Shook horrid with such aspen-malady: "O tender spouse of gold Hyperion, Thea, I feel thee ere I see thy face; Look up, and let me see our doom in it; Look up, and tell me if this feeble shape Is Saturn's; tell me, if thou hear'st the voice Of Saturn; tell me, if this wrinkling brow, Naked and bare of its great diadem, Peers like the front of Saturn? Who had power To make me desolate? Whence came the strength? How was it nurtur'd to such bursting forth, While Fate seem'd strangled in my nervous grasp? But it is so; and I am smother'd up, And buried from all godlike exercise Of influence benign on planets pale, Of admonitions to the winds and seas, Of peaceful sway above man's harvesting, And all those acts which Deity supreme Doth ease its heart of love in.
---I am gone Away from my own bosom: I have left My strong identity, my real self, Somewhere between the throne, and where I sit Here on this spot of earth.
Search, Thea, search! Open thine eyes eterne, and sphere them round Upon all space: space starr'd, and lorn of light; Space region'd with life-air; and barren void; Spaces of fire, and all the yawn of hell.
--- Search, Thea, search! and tell me, if thou seest A certain shape or shadow, making way With wings or chariot fierce to repossess A heaven he lost erewhile: it must---it must Be of ripe progress---Saturn must be King.
Yes, there must be a golden victory; There must be Gods thrown down, and trumpets blown Of triumph calm, and hymns of festival Upon the gold clouds metropolitan, Voices of soft proclaim, and silver stir Of strings in hollow shells; and there shall be Beautiful things made new, for the surprise Of the sky-children; I will give command: Thea! Thea! Thea! where is Saturn?" This passion lifted him upon his feet, And made his hands to struggle in the air, His Druid locks to shake and ooze with sweat, His eyes to fever out, his voice to cease.
He stood, and heard not Thea's sobbing deep; A little time, and then again he snatch'd Utterance thus.
---"But cannot I create? Cannot I form? Cannot I fashion forth Another world, another universe, To overbear and crumble this to nought? Where is another Chaos? Where?"---That word Found way unto Olympus, and made quake The rebel three.
---Thea was startled up, And in her bearing was a sort of hope, As thus she quick-voic'd spake, yet full of awe.
"This cheers our fallen house: come to our friends, O Saturn! come away, and give them heart; I know the covert, for thence came I hither.
" Thus brief; then with beseeching eyes she went With backward footing through the shade a space: He follow'd, and she turn'd to lead the way Through aged boughs, that yielded like the mist Which eagles cleave upmounting from their nest.
Meanwhile in other realms big tears were shed, More sorrow like to this, and such like woe, Too huge for mortal tongue or pen of scribe: The Titans fierce, self-hid, or prison-bound, Groan'd for the old allegiance once more, And listen'd in sharp pain for Saturn's voice.
But one of the whole mammoth-brood still kept His sov'reigny, and rule, and majesy;--- Blazing Hyperion on his orbed fire Still sat, still snuff'd the incense, teeming up From man to the sun's God: yet unsecure: For as among us mortals omens drear Fright and perplex, so also shuddered he--- Not at dog's howl, or gloom-bird's hated screech, Or the familiar visiting of one Upon the first toll of his passing-bell, Or prophesyings of the midnight lamp; But horrors, portion'd to a giant nerve, Oft made Hyperion ache.
His palace bright, Bastion'd with pyramids of glowing gold, And touch'd with shade of bronzed obelisks, Glar'd a blood-red through all its thousand courts, Arches, and domes, and fiery galleries; And all its curtains of Aurorian clouds Flush'd angerly: while sometimes eagles' wings, Unseen before by Gods or wondering men, Darken'd the place; and neighing steeds were heard Not heard before by Gods or wondering men.
Also, when he would taste the spicy wreaths Of incense, breath'd aloft from sacred hills, Instead of sweets, his ample palate took Savor of poisonous brass and metal sick: And so, when harbor'd in the sleepy west, After the full completion of fair day,--- For rest divine upon exalted couch, And slumber in the arms of melody, He pac'd away the pleasant hours of ease With stride colossal, on from hall to hall; While far within each aisle and deep recess, His winged minions in close clusters stood, Amaz'd and full offear; like anxious men Who on wide plains gather in panting troops, When earthquakes jar their battlements and towers.
Even now, while Saturn, rous'd from icy trance, Went step for step with Thea through the woods, Hyperion, leaving twilight in the rear, Came slope upon the threshold of the west; Then, as was wont, his palace-door flew ope In smoothest silence, save what solemn tubes, Blown by the serious Zephyrs, gave of sweet And wandering sounds, slow-breathed melodies; And like a rose in vermeil tint and shape, In fragrance soft, and coolness to the eye, That inlet to severe magnificence Stood full blown, for the God to enter in.
He enter'd, but he enter'd full of wrath; His flaming robes stream'd out beyond his heels, And gave a roar, as if of earthly fire, That scar'd away the meek ethereal Hours And made their dove-wings tremble.
On he flared From stately nave to nave, from vault to vault, Through bowers of fragrant and enwreathed light, And diamond-paved lustrous long arcades, Until he reach'd the great main cupola; There standing fierce beneath, he stampt his foot, And from the basements deep to the high towers Jarr'd his own golden region; and before The quavering thunder thereupon had ceas'd, His voice leapt out, despite of godlike curb, To this result: "O dreams of day and night! O monstrous forms! O effigies of pain! O spectres busy in a cold, cold gloom! O lank-eared phantoms of black-weeded pools! Why do I know ye? why have I seen ye? why Is my eternal essence thus distraught To see and to behold these horrors new? Saturn is fallen, am I too to fall? Am I to leave this haven of my rest, This cradle of my glory, this soft clime, This calm luxuriance of blissful light, These crystalline pavilions, and pure fanes, Of all my lucent empire? It is left Deserted, void, nor any haunt of mine.
The blaze, the splendor, and the symmetry, I cannot see but darkness, death, and darkness.
Even here, into my centre of repose, The shady visions come to domineer, Insult, and blind, and stifle up my pomp.
--- Fall!---No, by Tellus and her briny robes! Over the fiery frontier of my realms I will advance a terrible right arm Shall scare that infant thunderer, rebel Jove, And bid old Saturn take his throne again.
"--- He spake, and ceas'd, the while a heavier threat Held struggle with his throat but came not forth; For as in theatres of crowded men Hubbub increases more they call out "Hush!" So at Hyperion's words the phantoms pale Bestirr'd themselves, thrice horrible and cold; And from the mirror'd level where he stood A mist arose, as from a scummy marsh.
At this, through all his bulk an agony Crept gradual, from the feet unto the crown, Like a lithe serpent vast and muscular Making slow way, with head and neck convuls'd From over-strained might.
Releas'd, he fled To the eastern gates, and full six dewy hours Before the dawn in season due should blush, He breath'd fierce breath against the sleepy portals, Clear'd them of heavy vapours, burst them wide Suddenly on the ocean's chilly streams.
The planet orb of fire, whereon he rode Each day from east to west the heavens through, Spun round in sable curtaining of clouds; Not therefore veiled quite, blindfold, and hid, But ever and anon the glancing spheres, Circles, and arcs, and broad-belting colure, Glow'd through, and wrought upon the muffling dark Sweet-shaped lightnings from the nadir deep Up to the zenith,---hieroglyphics old, Which sages and keen-eyed astrologers Then living on the earth, with laboring thought Won from the gaze of many centuries: Now lost, save what we find on remnants huge Of stone, or rnarble swart; their import gone, Their wisdom long since fled.
---Two wings this orb Possess'd for glory, two fair argent wings, Ever exalted at the God's approach: And now, from forth the gloom their plumes immense Rose, one by one, till all outspreaded were; While still the dazzling globe maintain'd eclipse, Awaiting for Hyperion's command.
Fain would he have commanded, fain took throne And bid the day begin, if but for change.
He might not:---No, though a primeval God: The sacred seasons might not be disturb'd.
Therefore the operations of the dawn Stay'd in their birth, even as here 'tis told.
Those silver wings expanded sisterly, Eager to sail their orb; the porches wide Open'd upon the dusk demesnes of night And the bright Titan, phrenzied with new woes, Unus'd to bend, by hard compulsion bent His spirit to the sorrow of the time; And all along a dismal rack of clouds, Upon the boundaries of day and night, He stretch'd himself in grief and radiance faint.
There as he lay, the Heaven with its stars Look'd down on him with pity, and the voice Of Coelus, from the universal space, Thus whisper'd low and solemn in his ear: "O brightest of my children dear, earth-born And sky-engendered, son of mysteries All unrevealed even to the powers Which met at thy creating; at whose joys And palpitations sweet, and pleasures soft, I, Coelus, wonder, how they came and whence; And at the fruits thereof what shapes they be, Distinct, and visible; symbols divine, Manifestations of that beauteous life Diffus'd unseen throughout eternal space: Of these new-form'd art thou, O brightest child! Of these, thy brethren and the Goddesses! There is sad feud among ye, and rebellion Of son against his sire.
I saw him fall, I saw my first-born tumbled from his throne! To me his arms were spread, to me his voice Found way from forth the thunders round his head! Pale wox I, and in vapours hid my face.
Art thou, too, near such doom? vague fear there is: For I have seen my sons most unlike Gods.
Divine ye were created, and divine In sad demeanour, solemn, undisturb'd, Unruffled, like high Gods, ye liv'd and ruled: Now I behold in you fear, hope, and wrath; Actions of rage and passion; even as I see them, on the mortal world beneath, In men who die.
---This is the grief, O son! Sad sign of ruin, sudden dismay, and fall! Yet do thou strive; as thou art capable, As thou canst move about, an evident God; And canst oppose to each malignant hour Ethereal presence:---I am but a voice; My life is but the life of winds and tides, No more than winds and tides can I avail:--- But thou canst.
---Be thou therefore in the van Of circumstance; yea, seize the arrow's barb Before the tense string murmur.
---To the earth! For there thou wilt find Saturn, and his woes.
Meantime I will keep watch on thy bright sun, And of thy seasons be a careful nurse.
"--- Ere half this region-whisper had come down, Hyperion arose, and on the stars Lifted his curved lids, and kept them wide Until it ceas'd; and still he kept them wide: And still they were the same bright, patient stars.
Then with a slow incline of his broad breast, Like to a diver in the pearly seas, Forward he stoop'd over the airy shore, And plung'd all noiseless into the deep night.
BOOK II Just at the self-same beat of Time's wide wings Hyperion slid into the rustled air, And Saturn gain'd with Thea that sad place Where Cybele and the bruised Titans mourn'd.
It was a den where no insulting light Could glimmer on their tears; where their own groans They felt, but heard not, for the solid roar Of thunderous waterfalls and torrents hoarse, Pouring a constant bulk, uncertain where.
Crag jutting forth to crag, and rocks that seem'd Ever as if just rising from a sleep, Forehead to forehead held their monstrous horns; And thus in thousand hugest phantasies Made a fit roofing to this nest of woe.
Instead of thrones, hard flint they sat upon, Couches of rugged stone, and slaty ridge Stubborn'd with iron.
All were not assembled: Some chain'd in torture, and some wandering.
Caus, and Gyges, and Briareus, Typhon, and Dolor, and Porphyrion, With many more, the brawniest in assault, Were pent in regions of laborious breath; Dungeon'd in opaque element, to keep Their clenched teeth still clench'd, and all their limbs Lock'd up like veins of metal, crampt and screw'd; Without a motion, save of their big hearts Heaving in pain, and horribly convuls'd With sanguine feverous boiling gurge of pulse.
Mnemosyne was straying in the world; Far from her moon had Phoebe wandered; And many else were free to roam abroad, But for the main, here found they covert drear.
Scarce images of life, one here, one there, Lay vast and edgeways; like a dismal cirque Of Druid stones, upon a forlorn moor, When the chill rain begins at shut of eve, In dull November, and their chancel vault, The Heaven itself, is blinded throughout night.
Each one kept shroud, nor to his neighbour gave Or word, or look, or action of despair.
Creus was one; his ponderous iron mace Lay by him, and a shatter'd rib of rock Told of his rage, ere he thus sank and pined.
Iapetus another; in his grasp, A serpent's plashy neck; its barbed tongue Squeez'd from the gorge, and all its uncurl'd length Dead: and because the creature could not spit Its poison in the eyes of conquering Jove.
Next Cottus: prone he lay, chin uppermost, As though in pain; for still upon the flint He ground severe his skull, with open mouth And eyes at horrid working.
Nearest him Asia, born of most enormous Caf, Who cost her mother Tellus keener pangs, Though feminine, than any of her sons: More thought than woe was in her dusky face, For she was prophesying of her glory; And in her wide imagination stood Palm-shaded temples, and high rival fanes By Oxus or in Ganges' sacred isles.
Even as Hope upon her anchor leans, So leant she, not so fair, upon a tusk Shed from the broadest of her elephants.
Above her, on a crag's uneasy shelve, Upon his elbow rais'd, all prostrate else, Shadow'd Enceladus; once tame and mild As grazing ox unworried in the meads; Now tiger-passion'd, lion-thoughted, wroth, He meditated, plotted, and even now Was hurling mountains in that second war, Not long delay'd, that scar'd the younger Gods To hide themselves in forms of beast and bird.
Not far hence Atlas; and beside him prone Phorcus, the sire of Gorgons.
Neighbour'd close Oceanus, and Tethys, in whose lap Sobb'd Clymene among her tangled hair.
In midst of all lay Themis, at the feet Of Ops the queen; all clouded round from sight, No shape distinguishable, more than when Thick night confounds the pine-tops with the clouds: And many else whose names may not be told.
For when the Muse's wings are air-ward spread, Who shall delay her flight? And she must chaunt Of Saturn, and his guide, who now had climb'd With damp and slippery footing from a depth More horrid still.
Above a sombre cliff Their heads appear'd, and up their stature grew Till on the level height their steps found ease: Then Thea spread abroad her trembling arms Upon the precincts of this nest of pain, And sidelong fix'd her eye on Saturn's face: There saw she direst strife; the supreme God At war with all the frailty of grief, Of rage, of fear, anxiety, revenge, Remorse, spleen, hope, but most of all despair.
Against these plagues he strove in vain; for Fate Had pour'd a mortal oil upon his head, A disanointing poison: so that Thea, Affrighted, kept her still, and let him pass First onwards in, among the fallen tribe.
As with us mortal men, the laden heart Is persecuted more, and fever'd more, When it is nighing to the mournful house Where other hearts are sick of the same bruise; So Saturn, as he walk'd into the midst, Felt faint, and would have sunk among the rest, But that he met Enceladus's eye, Whose mightiness, and awe of him, at once Came like an inspiration; and he shouted, "Titans, behold your God!" at which some groan'd; Some started on their feet; some also shouted; Some wept, some wail'd, all bow'd with reverence; And Ops, uplifting her black folded veil, Show'd her pale cheeks, and all her forehead wan, Her eye-brows thin and jet, and hollow eyes.
There is a roaring in the bleak-grown pines When Winter lifts his voice; there is a noise Among immortals when a God gives sign, With hushing finger, how he means to load His tongue with the filll weight of utterless thought, With thunder, and with music, and with pomp: Such noise is like the roar of bleak-grown pines; Which, when it ceases in this mountain'd world, No other sound succeeds; but ceasing here, Among these fallen, Saturn's voice therefrom Grew up like organ, that begins anew Its strain, when other harmonies, stopt short, Leave the dinn'd air vibrating silverly.
Thus grew it up---"Not in my own sad breast, Which is its own great judge and searcher out, Can I find reason why ye should be thus: Not in the legends of the first of days, Studied from that old spirit-leaved book Which starry Uranus with finger bright Sav'd from the shores of darkness, when the waves Low-ebb'd still hid it up in shallow gloom;--- And the which book ye know I ever kept For my firm-based footstool:---Ah, infirm! Not there, nor in sign, symbol, or portent Of element, earth, water, air, and fire,--- At war, at peace, or inter-quarreling One against one, or two, or three, or all Each several one against the other three, As fire with air loud warring when rain-floods Drown both, and press them both against earth's face, Where, finding sulphur, a quadruple wrath Unhinges the poor world;---not in that strife, Wherefrom I take strange lore, and read it deep, Can I find reason why ye should be thus: No, nowhere can unriddle, though I search, And pore on Nature's universal scroll Even to swooning, why ye, Divinities, The first-born of all shap'd and palpable Gods, Should cower beneath what, in comparison, Is untremendous might.
Yet ye are here, O'erwhelm'd, and spurn'd, and batter'd, ye are here! O Titans, shall I say 'Arise!'---Ye groan: Shall I say 'Crouch!'---Ye groan.
What can I then? O Heaven wide! O unseen parent dear! What can I? Tell me, all ye brethren Gods, How we can war, how engine our great wrath! O speak your counsel now, for Saturn's ear Is all a-hunger'd.
Thou, Oceanus, Ponderest high and deep; and in thy face I see, astonied, that severe content Which comes of thought and musing: give us help!" 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 forests 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? Have 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 pos'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!' O Father, and O Brethren, had ye felt Those pains of mine; O Saturn, hadst thou felt, Ye would not call this too indulged tongue Presumptuous, in thus venturing to be heard.
" So far her voice flow'd on, like timorous brook That, lingering along a pebbled coast, Doth fear to meet the sea: but sea it met, And shudder'd; for the overwhelming voice Of huge Enceladus swallow'd it in wrath: The ponderous syllables, like sullen waves In the half-glutted hollows of reef-rocks, Came booming thus, while still upon his arm He lean'd; not rising, from supreme contempt.
"Or shall we listen to the over-wise, Or to the over-foolish, Giant-Gods? Not thunderbolt on thunderbolt, till all That rebel Jove's whole armoury were spent, Not world on world upon these shoulders piled, Could agonize me more than baby-words In midst of this dethronement horrible.
Speak! roar! shout! yell! ye sleepy Titans all.
Do ye forget the blows, the buffets vile? Are ye not smitten by a youngling arm? Dost thou forget, sham Monarch of the waves, Thy scalding in the seas? What! have I rous'd Your spleens with so few simple words as these? O joy! for now I see ye are not lost: O joy! for now I see a thousand eyes Wide-glaring for revenge!"---As this he said, He lifted up his stature vast, and stood, Still without intermission speaking thus: "Now ye are flames, I'll tell you how to burn, And purge the ether of our enemies; How to feed fierce the crooked stings of fire, And singe away the swollen clouds of Jove, Stifling that puny essence in its tent.
O let him feel the evil he hath done; For though I scorn Oceanus's lore, Much pain have I for more than loss of realms: The days of peace and slumbrous calm are fled; Those days, all innocent of scathing war, When all the fair Existences of heaven Carne open-eyed to guess what we would speak:--- That was before our brows were taught to frown, Before our lips knew else but solemn sounds; That was before we knew the winged thing, Victory, might be lost, or might be won.
And be ye mindful that Hyperion, Our brightest brother, still is undisgraced--- Hyperion, lo! his radiance is here!" All eyes were on Enceladus's face, And they beheld, while still Hyperion's name Flew from his lips up to the vaulted rocks, A pallid gleam across his features stern: Not savage, for he saw full many a God Wroth as himself.
He look'd upon them all, And in each face he saw a gleam of light, But splendider in Saturn's, whose hoar locks Shone like the bubbling foam about a keel When the prow sweeps into a midnight cove.
In pale and silver silence they remain'd, Till suddenly a splendor, like the morn, Pervaded all the beetling gloomy steeps, All the sad spaces of oblivion, And every gulf, and every chasm old, And every height, and every sullen depth, Voiceless, or hoarse with loud tormented streams: And all the everlasting cataracts, And all the headlong torrents far and near, Mantled before in darkness and huge shade, Now saw the light and made it terrible.
It was Hyperion:---a granite peak His bright feet touch'd, and there he stay'd to view The misery his brilliance had betray'd To the most hateful seeing of itself.
Golden his hair of short Numidian curl, Regal his shape majestic, a vast shade In midst of his own brightness, like the bulk Of Memnon's image at the set of sun To one who travels from the dusking East: Sighs, too, as mournful as that Memnon's harp He utter'd, while his hands contemplative He press'd together, and in silence stood.
Despondence seiz'd again the fallen Gods At sight of the dejected King of day, And many hid their faces from the light: But fierce Enceladus sent forth his eyes Among the brotherhood; and, at their glare, Uprose Iapetus, and Creus too, And Phorcus, sea-born, and together strode To where he towered on his eminence.
There those four shouted forth old Saturn's name; Hyperion from the peak loud answered, "Saturn!" Saturn sat near the Mother of the Gods, In whose face was no joy, though all the Gods Gave from their hollow throats the name of "Saturn!" BOOK III Thus in altemate uproar and sad peace, Amazed were those Titans utterly.
O leave them, Muse! O leave them to their woes; For thou art weak to sing such tumults dire: A solitary sorrow best befits Thy lips, and antheming a lonely grief.
Leave them, O Muse! for thou anon wilt find Many a fallen old Divinity Wandering in vain about bewildered shores.
Meantime touch piously the Delphic harp, And not a wind of heaven but will breathe In aid soft warble from the Dorian flute; For lo! 'tis for the Father of all verse.
Flush everything that hath a vermeil hue, Let the rose glow intense and warm the air, And let the clouds of even and of morn Float in voluptuous fleeces o'er the hills; Let the red wine within the goblet boil, Cold as a bubbling well; let faint-lipp'd shells, On sands, or in great deeps, vermilion turn Through all their labyrinths; and let the maid Blush keenly, as with some warm kiss surpris'd.
Chief isle of the embowered Cyclades, Rejoice, O Delos, with thine olives green, And poplars, and lawn-shading palms, and beech, In which the Zephyr breathes the loudest song, And hazels thick, dark-stemm'd beneath the shade: Apollo is once more the golden theme! Where was he, when the Giant of the sun Stood bright, amid the sorrow of his peers? Together had he left his mother fair And his twin-sister sleeping in their bower, And in the morning twilight wandered forth Beside the osiers of a rivulet, Full ankle-deep in lilies of the vale.
The nightingale had ceas'd, and a few stars Were lingering in the heavens, while the thrush Began calm-throated.
Throughout all the isle There was no covert, no retired cave, Unhaunted by the murmurous noise of waves, Though scarcely heard in many a green recess.
He listen'd, and he wept, and his bright tears Went trickling down the golden bow he held.
Thus with half-shut suffused eyes he stood, While from beneath some cumbrous boughs hard by With solemn step an awful Goddess came, And there was purport in her looks for him, Which he with eager guess began to read Perplex'd, the while melodiously he said: "How cam'st thou over the unfooted sea? Or hath that antique mien and robed form Mov'd in these vales invisible till now? Sure I have heard those vestments sweeping o'er The fallen leaves, when I have sat alone In cool mid-forest.
Surely I have traced The rustle of those ample skirts about These grassy solitudes, and seen the flowers Lift up their heads, as still the whisper pass'd.
Goddess! I have beheld those eyes before, And their eternal calm, and all that face, Or I have dream'd.
"---"Yes," said the supreme shape, "Thou hast dream'd of me; and awaking up Didst find a lyre all golden by thy side, Whose strings touch'd by thy fingers, all the vast Unwearied ear of the whole universe Listen'd in pain and pleasure at the birth Of such new tuneful wonder.
Is't not strange That thou shouldst weep, so gifted? Tell me, youth, What sorrow thou canst feel; for I am sad When thou dost shed a tear: explain thy griefs To one who in this lonely isle hath been The watcher of thy sleep and hours of life, From the young day when first thy infant hand Pluck'd witless the weak flowers, till thine arm Could bend that bow heroic to all times.
Show thy heart's secret to an ancient Power Who hath forsaken old and sacred thrones For prophecies of thee, and for the sake Of loveliness new born.
"---Apollo then, With sudden scrutiny and gloomless eyes, Thus answer'd, while his white melodious throat Throbb'd with the syllables.
---"Mnemosyne! Thy name is on my tongue, I know not how; Why should I tell thee what thou so well seest? Why should I strive to show what from thy lips Would come no mystery? For me, dark, dark, And painful vile oblivion seals my eyes: I strive to search wherefore I am so sad, Until a melancholy numbs my limbs; And then upon the grass I sit, and moan, Like one who once had wings.
---O why should I Feel curs'd and thwarted, when the liegeless air Yields to my step aspirant? why should I Spurn the green turf as hateful to my feet? Goddess benign, point forth some unknown thing: Are there not other regions than this isle? What are the stars? There is the sun, the sun! And the most patient brilliance of the moon! And stars by thousands! Point me out the way To any one particular beauteous star, And I will flit into it with my lyre, And make its silvery splendor pant with bliss.
I have heard the cloudy thunder: Where is power? Whose hand, whose essence, what divinity Makes this alarum in the elements, While I here idle listen on the shores In fearless yet in aching ignorance? O tell me, lonely Goddess, by thy harp, That waileth every morn and eventide, Tell me why thus I rave about these groves! Mute thou remainest---Mute! yet I can read A wondrous lesson in thy silent face: Knowledge enormous makes a God of me.
Names, deeds, gray legends, dire events, rebellions, Majesties, sovran voices, agonies, Creations and destroyings, all at once Pour into the wide hollows of my brain, And deify me, as if some blithe wine Or bright elixir peerless I had drunk, And so become immortal.
"---Thus the God, While his enkindled eyes, with level glance Beneath his white soft temples, steadfast kept Trembling with light upon Mnemosyne.
Soon wild commotions shook him, and made flush All the immortal fairness of his limbs; Most like the struggle at the gate of death; Or liker still to one who should take leave Of pale immortal death, and with a pang As hot as death's is chill, with fierce convulse Die into life: so young Apollo anguish'd: His very hair, his golden tresses famed, Kept undulation round his eager neck.
During the pain Mnemosyne upheld Her arms as one who prophesied.
At length Apollo shriek'd;---and lo! from all his limbs Celestial.