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Best Famous Wedding Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Wedding poems. This is a select list of the best famous Wedding poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Wedding poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of wedding poems.

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by Sylvia Plath |

Berck-Plage

(1)

This is the sea, then, this great abeyance.
How the sun's poultice draws on my inflammation.

Electrifyingly-colored sherbets, scooped from the freeze
By pale girls, travel the air in scorched hands.

Why is it so quiet, what are they hiding?
I have two legs, and I move smilingly..

A sandy damper kills the vibrations;
It stretches for miles, the shrunk voices

Waving and crutchless, half their old size.
The lines of the eye, scalded by these bald surfaces,

Boomerang like anchored elastics, hurting the owner.
Is it any wonder he puts on dark glasses?

Is it any wonder he affects a black cassock?
Here he comes now, among the mackerel gatherers

Who wall up their backs against him.
They are handling the black and green lozenges like the parts of a body.

The sea, that crystallized these, 
Creeps away, many-snaked, with a long hiss of distress.


(2)

This black boot has no mercy for anybody.
Why should it, it is the hearse of a dad foot,

The high, dead, toeless foot of this priest
Who plumbs the well of his book,

The bent print bulging before him like scenery.
Obscene bikinis hid in the dunes,

Breasts and hips a confectioner's sugar
Of little crystals, titillating the light,

While a green pool opens its eye,
Sick with what it has swallowed----

Limbs, images, shrieks. Behind the concrete bunkers
Two lovers unstick themselves.

O white sea-crockery,
What cupped sighs, what salt in the throat....

And the onlooker, trembling,
Drawn like a long material

Through a still virulence,
And a weed, hairy as privates.


(3)

On the balconies of the hotel, things are glittering.
Things, things----

Tubular steel wheelchairs, aluminum crutches.
Such salt-sweetness. Why should I walk

Beyond the breakwater, spotty with barnacles?
I am not a nurse, white and attendant,

I am not a smile. 
These children are after something, with hooks and cries,

And my heart too small to bandage their terrible faults.
This is the side of a man: his red ribs,

The nerves bursting like trees, and this is the surgeon:
One mirrory eye----

A facet of knowledge.
On a striped mattress in one room

An old man is vanishing.
There is no help in his weeping wife.

Where are the eye-stones, yellow and vvaluable,
And the tongue, sapphire of ash.


(4)

A wedding-cake face in a paper frill.
How superior he is now.

It is like possessing a saint.
The nurses in their wing-caps are no longer so beautiful;

They are browning, like touched gardenias.
The bed is rolled from the wall.

This is what it is to be complete. It is horrible.
Is he wearing pajamas or an evening suit

Under the glued sheet from which his powdery beak
Rises so whitely unbuffeted?

They propped his jaw with a book until it stiffened
And folded his hands, that were shaking: goodbye, goodbye.

Now the washed sheets fly in the sun,
The pillow cases are sweetening. 

It is a blessing, it is a blessing:
The long coffin of soap-colored oak,

The curious bearers and the raw date
Engraving itself in silver with marvelous calm.


(5)

The gray sky lowers, the hills like a green sea
Run fold upon fold far off, concealing their hollows,

The hollows in which rock the thoughts of the wife----
Blunt, practical boats

Full of dresses and hats and china and married daughters.
In the parlor of the stone house

One curtain is flickering from the open window,
Flickering and pouring, a pitiful candle.

This is the tongue of the dead man: remember, remember.
How far he is now, his actions

Around him like livingroom furniture, like a décor.
As the pallors gather----

The pallors of hands and neighborly faces,
The elate pallors of flying iris.

They are flying off into nothing: remember us.
The empty benches of memory look over stones,

Marble facades with blue veins, and jelly-glassfuls of daffodils.
It is so beautiful up here: it is a stopping place.


(6)

The natural fatness of these lime leaves!----
Pollarded green balls, the trees march to church.

The voice of the priest, in thin air, 
Meets the corpse at the gate,

Addressing it, while the hills roll the notes of the dead bell;
A glittler of wheat and crude earth.

What is the name of that color?----
Old blood of caked walls the sun heals,

Old blood of limb stumps, burnt hearts.
The widow with her black pocketbook and three daughters,

Necessary among the flowers,
Enfolds her lace like fine linen,

Not to be spread again.
While a sky, wormy with put-by smiles,

Passes cloud after cloud.
And the bride flowers expend a fershness,

And the soul is a bride
In a still place, and the groom is red and forgetful, he is featureless.

(7)

Behind the glass of this car
The world purrs, shut-off and gentle.

And I am dark-suited and stil, a member of the party,
Gliding up in low gear behind the cart.

And the priest is a vessel,
A tarred fabric,sorry and dull,

Following the coffin on its flowery cart like a beautiful woman,
A crest of breasts, eyelids and lips

Storming the hilltop.
Then, from the barred yard, the children

Smell the melt of shoe-blacking,
Their faces turning, wordless and slow,

Their eyes opening
On a wonderful thing----

Six round black hats in the grass and a lozenge of wood,
And a naked mouth, red and awkward.

For a minute the sky pours into the hole like plasma.
There is no hope, it is given up.


by Sylvia Plath |

Lady Lazarus

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it_____
A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot
A paperweight,
My face featureless, fine
Jew linen.
Peel off the napkin
O my enemy.
Do I terrify?-------
The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.
Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me
And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.
This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.
What a million filaments.
The Peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see
Them unwrap me hand in foot ------
The big strip tease.
Gentleman , ladies
These are my hands
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,
Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.
The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut
As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.
Dying
Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.
I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I've a call.
It's easy enough to do it in a cell.
It's easy enough to do it and stay put.
It's the theatrical
Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:
'A miracle!'
That knocks me out.
There is a charge
For the eyeing my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart---
It really goes.
And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood
Or a piece of my hair on my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.
I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby
That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.
Ash, ash---
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there----
A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.
Herr God, Herr Lucifer
Beware
Beware.
Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.

(1962)


by Edmund Spenser |

Prothalamion

CALM was the day, and through the trembling air 
Sweet-breathing Zephyrus did softly play¡ª 
A gentle spirit, that lightly did delay 
Hot Titan's beams, which then did glister fair; 
When I, (whom sullen care, 5 
Through discontent of my long fruitless stay 
In princes' court, and expectation vain 
Of idle hopes, which still do fly away 
Like empty shadows, did afflict my brain,) 
Walk'd forth to ease my pain 10 
Along the shore of silver-streaming Thames, 
Whose rutty bank, the which his river hems, 
Was painted all with variable flowers, 
And all the meads adorn'd with dainty gems 
Fit to deck maidens' bowers, 15 
And crown their paramours 
Against the bridal day, which is not long: 
Sweet Thames! run softly, till I end my song. 

There in a meadow by the river's side 
A flock of nymphs I chanc¨¨d to espy, 20 
All lovely daughters of the flood thereby, 
With goodly greenish locks all loose untied 
As each had been a bride; 
And each one had a little wicker basket 
Made of fine twigs, entrail¨¨d curiously. 25 
In which they gather'd flowers to fill their flasket, 
And with fine fingers cropt full feateously 
The tender stalks on high. 
Of every sort which in that meadow grew 
They gather'd some¡ªthe violet, pallid blue, 30 
The little daisy that at evening closes, 
The virgin lily and the primrose true, 
With store of vermeil roses, 
To deck their bridegrooms' posies 
Against the bridal day, which was not long: 35 
Sweet Thames! run softly, till I end my song. 

With that I saw two swans of goodly hue 
Come softly swimming down along the Lee: 
Two fairer birds I yet did never see; 
The snow which doth the top of Pindus strow 40 
Did never whiter show, 
Nor Jove himself, when he a swan would be 
For love of Leda, whiter did appear; 
Yet Leda was (they say) as white as he, 
Yet not so white as these, nor nothing near; 45 
So purely white they were 
That even the gentle stream, the which them bare? 
Seem'd foul to them, and bade his billows spare 
To wet their silken feathers, lest they might 
Soil their fair plumes with water not so fair, 50 
And mar their beauties bright 
That shone as Heaven's light 
Against their bridal day, which was not long: 
Sweet Thames! run softly, till I end my song. 

Eftsoons the nymphs, which now had flowers their fill? 55 
Ran all in haste to see that silver brood 
As they came floating on the crystal flood; 
Whom when they saw, they stood amaz¨¨d still 
Their wondering eyes to fill; 
Them seem'd they never saw a sight so fair 60 
Of fowls, so lovely, that they sure did deem 
Them heavenly born, or to be that same pair 
Which through the sky draw Venus' silver team; 
For sure they did not seem 
To be begot of any earthly seed, 65 
But rather Angels, or of Angels' breed; 
Yet were they bred of summer's heat, they say, 
In sweetest season, when each flower and weed 
The earth did fresh array; 
So fresh they seem'd as day, 70 
Ev'n as their bridal day, which was not long: 
Sweet Thames! run softly, till I end my song. 

Then forth they all out of their baskets drew 
Great store of flowers, the honour of the field, 
That to the sense did fragrant odours yield, 75 
All which upon those goodly birds they threw 
And all the waves did strew, 
That like old Peneus' waters they did seem 
When down along by pleasant Tempe's shore 
Scatter'd with flowers, through Thessaly they stream, 80 
That they appear, through lilies' plenteous store, 
Like a bride's chamber-floor. 
Two of those nymphs meanwhile two garlands bound 
Of freshest flowers which in that mead they found, 
The which presenting all in trim array, 85 
Their snowy foreheads therewithal they crown'd; 
Whilst one did sing this lay 
Prepared against that day, 
Against their bridal day, which was not long: 
Sweet Thames! run softly, till I end my song. 90 

"Ye gentle birds! the world's fair ornament, 
And heaven's glory, whom this happy hour 
Doth lead unto your lovers' blissful bower, 
Joy may you have, and gentle heart's content 
Of your love's couplement; 95 
And let fair Venus, that is queen of love, 
With her heart-quelling son upon you smile, 
Whose smile, they say, hath virtue to remove 
All love's dislike, and friendship's faulty guile 
For ever to assoil. 100 
Let endless peace your steadfast hearts accord, 
And blessed plenty wait upon your board; 
And let your bed with pleasures chaste abound, 
That fruitful issue may to you afford 
Which may your foes confound, 105 
And make your joys redound 
Upon your bridal day, which is not long: 
Sweet Thames! run softly, till I end my song." 

So ended she; and all the rest around 
To her redoubled that her undersong, 110 
Which said their bridal day should not be long; 
And gentle Echo from the neighbour ground 
Their accents did resound. 
So forth those joyous birds did pass along 
Adown the Lee that to them murmur'd low, 115 
As he would speak but that he lack'd a tongue; 
Yet did by signs his glad affection show, 
Making his stream run slow. 
And all the fowl which in his flood did dwell 
'Gan flock about these twain, that did excel 120 
The rest, so far as Cynthia doth shend 
The lesser stars. So they, enrang¨¨d well, 
Did on those two attend, 
And their best service lend 
Against their wedding day, which was not long: 125 
Sweet Thames! run softly, till I end my song. 

At length they all to merry London came, 
To merry London, my most kindly nurse, 
That to me gave this life's first native source, 
Though from another place I take my name, 130 
An house of ancient fame: 
There when they came whereas those bricky towers 
The which on Thames' broad aged back do ride, 
Where now the studious lawyers have their bowers, 
There whilome wont the Templar-knights to bide, 135 
Till they decay'd through pride; 
Next whereunto there stands a stately place, 
Where oft I gain¨¨d gifts and goodly grace 
Of that great lord, which therein wont to dwell, 
Whose want too well now feels my friendless case: 140 
But ah! here fits not well 
Old woes, but joys to tell 
Against the bridal day, which is not long: 
Sweet Thames! run softly, till I end my song. 

Yet therein now doth lodge a noble peer, 145 
Great England's glory and the world's wide wonder, 
Whose dreadful name late through all Spain did thunder, 
And Hercules' two pillars standing near 
Did make to quake and fear: 
Fair branch of honour, flower of chivalry! 150 
That fillest England with thy triumphs' fame 
Joy have thou of thy noble victory, 
And endless happiness of thine own name 
That promiseth the same; 
That through thy prowess and victorious arms 155 
Thy country may be freed from foreign harms, 
And great Elisa's glorious name may ring 
Through all the world, fill'd with thy wide alarms, 
Which some brave Muse may sing 
To ages following: 160 
Upon the bridal day, which is not long: 
Sweet Thames! run softly, till I end my song. 

From those high towers this noble lord iss¨²ing 
Like radiant Hesper, when his golden hair 
In th' ocean billows he hath bath¨¨d fair, 165 
Descended to the river's open viewing 
With a great train ensuing. 
Above the rest were goodly to be seen 
Two gentle knights of lovely face and feature, 
Beseeming well the bower of any queen, 170 
With gifts of wit and ornaments of nature, 
Fit for so goodly stature, 
That like the twins of Jove they seem'd in sight 
Which deck the baldric of the heavens bright; 
They two, forth pacing to the river's side, 175 
Received those two fair brides, their love's delight; 
Which, at th' appointed tide, 
Each one did make his bride 
Against their bridal day, which is not long: 
Sweet Thames! run softly, till I end my song. 180 


by Robert Herrick |

THE BRIDE-CAKE

 This day, my Julia, thou must make
For Mistress Bride the wedding-cake:
Knead but the dough, and it will be
To paste of almonds turn'd by thee;
Or kiss it thou but once or twice,
And for the bride-cake there'll be spice.


by Robert Herrick |

TO THE MAIDS TO WALK ABROAD

 Come, sit we under yonder tree,
Where merry as the maids we'll be;
And as on primroses we sit,
We'll venture, if we can, at wit;
If not, at draw-gloves we will play,
So spend some minutes of the day;
Or else spin out the thread of sands,
Playing at questions and commands:
Or tell what strange tricks Love can do,
By quickly making one of two.
Thus we will sit and talk, but tell
No cruel truths of Philomel,
Or Phillis, whom hard fate forced on
To kill herself for Demophon;
But fables we'll relate; how Jove
Put on all shapes to get a Love;
As now a satyr, then a swan,
A bull but then, and now a man.
Next, we will act how young men woo,
And sigh and kiss as lovers do;
And talk of brides; and who shall make
That wedding-smock, this bridal-cake,
That dress, this sprig, that leaf, this vine,
That smooth and silken columbine.
This done, we'll draw lots who shall buy
And gild the bays and rosemary;
What posies for our wedding rings;
What gloves we'll give, and ribbonings;
And smiling at our selves, decree
Who then the joining priest shall be;
What short sweet prayers shall be said,
And how the posset shall be made
With cream of lilies, not of kine,
And maiden's-blush for spiced wine.
Thus having talk'd, we'll next commend
A kiss to each, and so we'll end.


by John Keats |

Endymion: Book IV

 Muse of my native land! loftiest Muse!
O first-born on the mountains! by the hues
Of heaven on the spiritual air begot:
Long didst thou sit alone in northern grot,
While yet our England was a wolfish den;
Before our forests heard the talk of men;
Before the first of Druids was a child;--
Long didst thou sit amid our regions wild
Rapt in a deep prophetic solitude.
There came an eastern voice of solemn mood:--
Yet wast thou patient. Then sang forth the Nine,
Apollo's garland:--yet didst thou divine
Such home-bred glory, that they cry'd in vain,
"Come hither, Sister of the Island!" Plain
Spake fair Ausonia; and once more she spake
A higher summons:--still didst thou betake
Thee to thy native hopes. O thou hast won
A full accomplishment! The thing is done,
Which undone, these our latter days had risen
On barren souls. Great Muse, thou know'st what prison
Of flesh and bone, curbs, and confines, and frets
Our spirit's wings: despondency besets
Our pillows; and the fresh to-morrow morn
Seems to give forth its light in very scorn
Of our dull, uninspired, snail-paced lives.
Long have I said, how happy he who shrives
To thee! But then I thought on poets gone,
And could not pray:--nor can I now--so on
I move to the end in lowliness of heart.----

 "Ah, woe is me! that I should fondly part
From my dear native land! Ah, foolish maid!
Glad was the hour, when, with thee, myriads bade
Adieu to Ganges and their pleasant fields!
To one so friendless the clear freshet yields
A bitter coolness, the ripe grape is sour:
Yet I would have, great gods! but one short hour
Of native air--let me but die at home."

 Endymion to heaven's airy dome
Was offering up a hecatomb of vows,
When these words reach'd him. Whereupon he bows
His head through thorny-green entanglement
Of underwood, and to the sound is bent,
Anxious as hind towards her hidden fawn.

 "Is no one near to help me? No fair dawn
Of life from charitable voice? No sweet saying
To set my dull and sadden'd spirit playing?
No hand to toy with mine? No lips so sweet
That I may worship them? No eyelids meet
To twinkle on my bosom? No one dies
Before me, till from these enslaving eyes
Redemption sparkles!--I am sad and lost."

 Thou, Carian lord, hadst better have been tost
Into a whirlpool. Vanish into air,
Warm mountaineer! for canst thou only bear
A woman's sigh alone and in distress?
See not her charms! Is Phoebe passionless?
Phoebe is fairer far--O gaze no more:--
Yet if thou wilt behold all beauty's store,
Behold her panting in the forest grass!
Do not those curls of glossy jet surpass
For tenderness the arms so idly lain
Amongst them? Feelest not a kindred pain,
To see such lovely eyes in swimming search
After some warm delight, that seems to perch
Dovelike in the dim cell lying beyond
Their upper lids?--Hist! "O for Hermes' wand
To touch this flower into human shape!
That woodland Hyacinthus could escape
From his green prison, and here kneeling down
Call me his queen, his second life's fair crown!
Ah me, how I could love!--My soul doth melt
For the unhappy youth--Love! I have felt
So faint a kindness, such a meek surrender
To what my own full thoughts had made too tender,
That but for tears my life had fled away!--
Ye deaf and senseless minutes of the day,
And thou, old forest, hold ye this for true,
There is no lightning, no authentic dew
But in the eye of love: there's not a sound,
Melodious howsoever, can confound
The heavens and earth in one to such a death
As doth the voice of love: there's not a breath
Will mingle kindly with the meadow air,
Till it has panted round, and stolen a share
Of passion from the heart!"--

 Upon a bough
He leant, wretched. He surely cannot now
Thirst for another love: O impious,
That he can even dream upon it thus!--
Thought he, "Why am I not as are the dead,
Since to a woe like this I have been led
Through the dark earth, and through the wondrous sea?
Goddess! I love thee not the less: from thee
By Juno's smile I turn not--no, no, no--
While the great waters are at ebb and flow.--
I have a triple soul! O fond pretence--
For both, for both my love is so immense,
I feel my heart is cut in twain for them."

 And so he groan'd, as one by beauty slain.
The lady's heart beat quick, and he could see
Her gentle bosom heave tumultuously.
He sprang from his green covert: there she lay,
Sweet as a muskrose upon new-made hay;
With all her limbs on tremble, and her eyes
Shut softly up alive. To speak he tries.
"Fair damsel, pity me! forgive that I
Thus violate thy bower's sanctity!
O pardon me, for I am full of grief--
Grief born of thee, young angel! fairest thief!
Who stolen hast away the wings wherewith
I was to top the heavens. Dear maid, sith
Thou art my executioner, and I feel
Loving and hatred, misery and weal,
Will in a few short hours be nothing to me,
And all my story that much passion slew me;
Do smile upon the evening of my days:
And, for my tortur'd brain begins to craze,
Be thou my nurse; and let me understand
How dying I shall kiss that lily hand.--
Dost weep for me? Then should I be content.
Scowl on, ye fates! until the firmament
Outblackens Erebus, and the full-cavern'd earth
Crumbles into itself. By the cloud girth
Of Jove, those tears have given me a thirst
To meet oblivion."--As her heart would burst
The maiden sobb'd awhile, and then replied:
"Why must such desolation betide
As that thou speakest of? Are not these green nooks
Empty of all misfortune? Do the brooks
Utter a gorgon voice? Does yonder thrush,
Schooling its half-fledg'd little ones to brush
About the dewy forest, whisper tales?--
Speak not of grief, young stranger, or cold snails
Will slime the rose to night. Though if thou wilt,
Methinks 'twould be a guilt--a very guilt--
Not to companion thee, and sigh away
The light--the dusk--the dark--till break of day!"
"Dear lady," said Endymion, "'tis past:
I love thee! and my days can never last.
That I may pass in patience still speak:
Let me have music dying, and I seek
No more delight--I bid adieu to all.
Didst thou not after other climates call,
And murmur about Indian streams?"--Then she,
Sitting beneath the midmost forest tree,
For pity sang this roundelay------


 "O Sorrow,
 Why dost borrow
The natural hue of health, from vermeil lips?--
 To give maiden blushes
 To the white rose bushes?
Or is it thy dewy hand the daisy tips?

 "O Sorrow,
 Why dost borrow
The lustrous passion from a falcon-eye?--
 To give the glow-worm light?
 Or, on a moonless night,
To tinge, on syren shores, the salt sea-spry?

 "O Sorrow,
 Why dost borrow
The mellow ditties from a mourning tongue?--
 To give at evening pale
 Unto the nightingale,
That thou mayst listen the cold dews among?

 "O Sorrow,
 Why dost borrow
Heart's lightness from the merriment of May?--
 A lover would not tread
 A cowslip on the head,
Though he should dance from eve till peep of day--
 Nor any drooping flower
 Held sacred for thy bower,
Wherever he may sport himself and play.

 "To Sorrow
 I bade good-morrow,
And thought to leave her far away behind;
 But cheerly, cheerly,
 She loves me dearly;
She is so constant to me, and so kind:
 I would deceive her
 And so leave her,
But ah! she is so constant and so kind.

"Beneath my palm trees, by the river side,
I sat a weeping: in the whole world wide
There was no one to ask me why I wept,--
 And so I kept
Brimming the water-lily cups with tears
 Cold as my fears.

"Beneath my palm trees, by the river side,
I sat a weeping: what enamour'd bride,
Cheated by shadowy wooer from the clouds,
 But hides and shrouds
Beneath dark palm trees by a river side?

"And as I sat, over the light blue hills
There came a noise of revellers: the rills
Into the wide stream came of purple hue--
 'Twas Bacchus and his crew!
The earnest trumpet spake, and silver thrills
From kissing cymbals made a merry din--
 'Twas Bacchus and his kin!
Like to a moving vintage down they came,
Crown'd with green leaves, and faces all on flame;
All madly dancing through the pleasant valley,
 To scare thee, Melancholy!
O then, O then, thou wast a simple name!
And I forgot thee, as the berried holly
By shepherds is forgotten, when, in June,
Tall chesnuts keep away the sun and moon:--
 I rush'd into the folly!

"Within his car, aloft, young Bacchus stood,
Trifling his ivy-dart, in dancing mood,
 With sidelong laughing;
And little rills of crimson wine imbrued
His plump white arms, and shoulders, enough white
 For Venus' pearly bite;
And near him rode Silenus on his ass,
Pelted with flowers as he on did pass
 Tipsily quaffing.

"Whence came ye, merry Damsels! whence came ye!
So many, and so many, and such glee?
Why have ye left your bowers desolate,
 Your lutes, and gentler fate?--
‘We follow Bacchus! Bacchus on the wing?
 A conquering!
Bacchus, young Bacchus! good or ill betide,
We dance before him thorough kingdoms wide:--
Come hither, lady fair, and joined be
 To our wild minstrelsy!'

"Whence came ye, jolly Satyrs! whence came ye!
So many, and so many, and such glee?
Why have ye left your forest haunts, why left
 Your nuts in oak-tree cleft?--
‘For wine, for wine we left our kernel tree;
For wine we left our heath, and yellow brooms,
 And cold mushrooms;
For wine we follow Bacchus through the earth;
Great God of breathless cups and chirping mirth!--
Come hither, lady fair, and joined be
To our mad minstrelsy!'

"Over wide streams and mountains great we went,
And, save when Bacchus kept his ivy tent,
Onward the tiger and the leopard pants,
 With Asian elephants:
Onward these myriads--with song and dance,
With zebras striped, and sleek Arabians' prance,
Web-footed alligators, crocodiles,
Bearing upon their scaly backs, in files,
Plump infant laughers mimicking the coil
Of seamen, and stout galley-rowers' toil:
With toying oars and silken sails they glide,
 Nor care for wind and tide.

"Mounted on panthers' furs and lions' manes,
From rear to van they scour about the plains;
A three days' journey in a moment done:
And always, at the rising of the sun,
About the wilds they hunt with spear and horn,
 On spleenful unicorn.

"I saw Osirian Egypt kneel adown
 Before the vine-wreath crown!
I saw parch'd Abyssinia rouse and sing
 To the silver cymbals' ring!
I saw the whelming vintage hotly pierce
 Old Tartary the fierce!
The kings of Inde their jewel-sceptres vail,
And from their treasures scatter pearled hail;
Great Brahma from his mystic heaven groans,
 And all his priesthood moans;
Before young Bacchus' eye-wink turning pale.--
Into these regions came I following him,
Sick hearted, weary--so I took a whim
To stray away into these forests drear
 Alone, without a peer:
And I have told thee all thou mayest hear.

 "Young stranger!
 I've been a ranger
In search of pleasure throughout every clime:
 Alas! 'tis not for me!
 Bewitch'd I sure must be,
To lose in grieving all my maiden prime.

 "Come then, Sorrow!
 Sweetest Sorrow!
Like an own babe I nurse thee on my breast:
 I thought to leave thee
 And deceive thee,
But now of all the world I love thee best.

 "There is not one,
 No, no, not one
But thee to comfort a poor lonely maid;
 Thou art her mother,
 And her brother,
Her playmate, and her wooer in the shade."

 O what a sigh she gave in finishing,
And look, quite dead to every worldly thing!
Endymion could not speak, but gazed on her;
And listened to the wind that now did stir
About the crisped oaks full drearily,
Yet with as sweet a softness as might be
Remember'd from its velvet summer song.
At last he said: "Poor lady, how thus long
Have I been able to endure that voice?
Fair Melody! kind Syren! I've no choice;
I must be thy sad servant evermore:
I cannot choose but kneel here and adore.
Alas, I must not think--by Phoebe, no!
Let me not think, soft Angel! shall it be so?
Say, beautifullest, shall I never think?
O thou could'st foster me beyond the brink
Of recollection! make my watchful care
Close up its bloodshot eyes, nor see despair!
Do gently murder half my soul, and I
Shall feel the other half so utterly!--
I'm giddy at that cheek so fair and smooth;
O let it blush so ever! let it soothe
My madness! let it mantle rosy-warm
With the tinge of love, panting in safe alarm.--
This cannot be thy hand, and yet it is;
And this is sure thine other softling--this
Thine own fair bosom, and I am so near!
Wilt fall asleep? O let me sip that tear!
And whisper one sweet word that I may know
This is this world--sweet dewy blossom!"--Woe!
Woe! Woe to that Endymion! Where is he?--
Even these words went echoing dismally
Through the wide forest--a most fearful tone,
Like one repenting in his latest moan;
And while it died away a shade pass'd by,
As of a thunder cloud. When arrows fly
Through the thick branches, poor ring-doves sleek forth
Their timid necks and tremble; so these both
Leant to each other trembling, and sat so
Waiting for some destruction--when lo,
Foot-feather'd Mercury appear'd sublime
Beyond the tall tree tops; and in less time
Than shoots the slanted hail-storm, down he dropt
Towards the ground; but rested not, nor stopt
One moment from his home: only the sward
He with his wand light touch'd, and heavenward
Swifter than sight was gone--even before
The teeming earth a sudden witness bore
Of his swift magic. Diving swans appear
Above the crystal circlings white and clear;
And catch the cheated eye in wild surprise,
How they can dive in sight and unseen rise--
So from the turf outsprang two steeds jet-black,
Each with large dark blue wings upon his back.
The youth of Caria plac'd the lovely dame
On one, and felt himself in spleen to tame
The other's fierceness. Through the air they flew,
High as the eagles. Like two drops of dew
Exhal'd to Phoebus' lips, away they are gone,
Far from the earth away--unseen, alone,
Among cool clouds and winds, but that the free,
The buoyant life of song can floating be
Above their heads, and follow them untir'd.--
Muse of my native land, am I inspir'd?
This is the giddy air, and I must spread
Wide pinions to keep here; nor do I dread
Or height, or depth, or width, or any chance
Precipitous: I have beneath my glance
Those towering horses and their mournful freight.
Could I thus sail, and see, and thus await
Fearless for power of thought, without thine aid?--
There is a sleepy dusk, an odorous shade
From some approaching wonder, and behold
Those winged steeds, with snorting nostrils bold
Snuff at its faint extreme, and seem to tire,
Dying to embers from their native fire!

 There curl'd a purple mist around them; soon,
It seem'd as when around the pale new moon
Sad Zephyr droops the clouds like weeping willow:
'Twas Sleep slow journeying with head on pillow.
For the first time, since he came nigh dead born
From the old womb of night, his cave forlorn
Had he left more forlorn; for the first time,
He felt aloof the day and morning's prime--
Because into his depth Cimmerian
There came a dream, shewing how a young man,
Ere a lean bat could plump its wintery skin,
Would at high Jove's empyreal footstool win
An immortality, and how espouse
Jove's daughter, and be reckon'd of his house.
Now was he slumbering towards heaven's gate,
That he might at the threshold one hour wait
To hear the marriage melodies, and then
Sink downward to his dusky cave again.
His litter of smooth semilucent mist,
Diversely ting'd with rose and amethyst,
Puzzled those eyes that for the centre sought;
And scarcely for one moment could be caught
His sluggish form reposing motionless.
Those two on winged steeds, with all the stress
Of vision search'd for him, as one would look
Athwart the sallows of a river nook
To catch a glance at silver throated eels,--
Or from old Skiddaw's top, when fog conceals
His rugged forehead in a mantle pale,
With an eye-guess towards some pleasant vale
Descry a favourite hamlet faint and far.

 These raven horses, though they foster'd are
Of earth's splenetic fire, dully drop
Their full-veined ears, nostrils blood wide, and stop;
Upon the spiritless mist have they outspread
Their ample feathers, are in slumber dead,--
And on those pinions, level in mid air,
Endymion sleepeth and the lady fair.
Slowly they sail, slowly as icy isle
Upon a calm sea drifting: and meanwhile
The mournful wanderer dreams. Behold! he walks
On heaven's pavement; brotherly he talks
To divine powers: from his hand full fain
Juno's proud birds are pecking pearly grain:
He tries the nerve of Phoebus' golden bow,
And asketh where the golden apples grow:
Upon his arm he braces Pallas' shield,
And strives in vain to unsettle and wield
A Jovian thunderbolt: arch Hebe brings
A full-brimm'd goblet, dances lightly, sings
And tantalizes long; at last he drinks,
And lost in pleasure at her feet he sinks,
Touching with dazzled lips her starlight hand.
He blows a bugle,--an ethereal band
Are visible above: the Seasons four,--
Green-kyrtled Spring, flush Summer, golden store
In Autumn's sickle, Winter frosty hoar,
Join dance with shadowy Hours; while still the blast,
In swells unmitigated, still doth last
To sway their floating morris. "Whose is this?
Whose bugle?" he inquires: they smile--"O Dis!
Why is this mortal here? Dost thou not know
Its mistress' lips? Not thou?--'Tis Dian's: lo!
She rises crescented!" He looks, 'tis she,
His very goddess: good-bye earth, and sea,
And air, and pains, and care, and suffering;
Good-bye to all but love! Then doth he spring
Towards her, and awakes--and, strange, o'erhead,
Of those same fragrant exhalations bred,
Beheld awake his very dream: the gods
Stood smiling; merry Hebe laughs and nods;
And Phoebe bends towards him crescented.
O state perplexing! On the pinion bed,
Too well awake, he feels the panting side
Of his delicious lady. He who died
For soaring too audacious in the sun,
Where that same treacherous wax began to run,
Felt not more tongue-tied than Endymion.
His heart leapt up as to its rightful throne,
To that fair shadow'd passion puls'd its way--
Ah, what perplexity! Ah, well a day!
So fond, so beauteous was his bed-fellow,
He could not help but kiss her: then he grew
Awhile forgetful of all beauty save
Young Phoebe's, golden hair'd; and so 'gan crave
Forgiveness: yet he turn'd once more to look
At the sweet sleeper,--all his soul was shook,--
She press'd his hand in slumber; so once more
He could not help but kiss her and adore.
At this the shadow wept, melting away.
The Latmian started up: "Bright goddess, stay!
Search my most hidden breast! By truth's own tongue,
I have no dædale heart: why is it wrung
To desperation? Is there nought for me,
Upon the bourne of bliss, but misery?"

 These words awoke the stranger of dark tresses:
Her dawning love-look rapt Endymion blesses
With 'haviour soft. Sleep yawned from underneath.
"Thou swan of Ganges, let us no more breathe
This murky phantasm! thou contented seem'st
Pillow'd in lovely idleness, nor dream'st
What horrors may discomfort thee and me.
Ah, shouldst thou die from my heart-treachery!--
Yet did she merely weep--her gentle soul
Hath no revenge in it: as it is whole
In tenderness, would I were whole in love!
Can I prize thee, fair maid, all price above,
Even when I feel as true as innocence?
I do, I do.--What is this soul then? Whence
Came it? It does not seem my own, and I
Have no self-passion or identity.
Some fearful end must be: where, where is it?
By Nemesis, I see my spirit flit
Alone about the dark--Forgive me, sweet:
Shall we away?" He rous'd the steeds: they beat
Their wings chivalrous into the clear air,
Leaving old Sleep within his vapoury lair.

 The good-night blush of eve was waning slow,
And Vesper, risen star, began to throe
In the dusk heavens silvery, when they
Thus sprang direct towards the Galaxy.
Nor did speed hinder converse soft and strange--
Eternal oaths and vows they interchange,
In such wise, in such temper, so aloof
Up in the winds, beneath a starry roof,
So witless of their doom, that verily
'Tis well nigh past man's search their hearts to see;
Whether they wept, or laugh'd, or griev'd, or toy'd--
Most like with joy gone mad, with sorrow cloy'd.

 Full facing their swift flight, from ebon streak,
The moon put forth a little diamond peak,
No bigger than an unobserved star,
Or tiny point of fairy scymetar;
Bright signal that she only stoop'd to tie
Her silver sandals, ere deliciously
She bow'd into the heavens her timid head.
Slowly she rose, as though she would have fled,
While to his lady meek the Carian turn'd,
To mark if her dark eyes had yet discern'd
This beauty in its birth--Despair! despair!
He saw her body fading gaunt and spare
In the cold moonshine. Straight he seiz'd her wrist;
It melted from his grasp: her hand he kiss'd,
And, horror! kiss'd his own--he was alone.
Her steed a little higher soar'd, and then
Dropt hawkwise to the earth. There lies a den,
Beyond the seeming confines of the space
Made for the soul to wander in and trace
Its own existence, of remotest glooms.
Dark regions are around it, where the tombs
Of buried griefs the spirit sees, but scarce
One hour doth linger weeping, for the pierce
Of new-born woe it feels more inly smart:
And in these regions many a venom'd dart
At random flies; they are the proper home
Of every ill: the man is yet to come
Who hath not journeyed in this native hell.
But few have ever felt how calm and well
Sleep may be had in that deep den of all.
There anguish does not sting; nor pleasure pall:
Woe-hurricanes beat ever at the gate,
Yet all is still within and desolate.
Beset with painful gusts, within ye hear
No sound so loud as when on curtain'd bier
The death-watch tick is stifled. Enter none
Who strive therefore: on the sudden it is won.
Just when the sufferer begins to burn,
Then it is free to him; and from an urn,
Still fed by melting ice, he takes a draught--
Young Semele such richness never quaft
In her maternal longing. Happy gloom!
Dark Paradise! where pale becomes the bloom
Of health by due; where silence dreariest
Is most articulate; where hopes infest;
Where those eyes are the brightest far that keep
Their lids shut longest in a dreamless sleep.
O happy spirit-home! O wondrous soul!
Pregnant with such a den to save the whole
In thine own depth. Hail, gentle Carian!
For, never since thy griefs and woes began,
Hast thou felt so content: a grievous feud
Hath let thee to this Cave of Quietude.
Aye, his lull'd soul was there, although upborne
With dangerous speed: and so he did not mourn
Because he knew not whither he was going.
So happy was he, not the aerial blowing
Of trumpets at clear parley from the east
Could rouse from that fine relish, that high feast.
They stung the feather'd horse: with fierce alarm
He flapp'd towards the sound. Alas, no charm
Could lift Endymion's head, or he had view'd
A skyey mask, a pinion'd multitude,--
And silvery was its passing: voices sweet
Warbling the while as if to lull and greet
The wanderer in his path. Thus warbled they,
While past the vision went in bright array.

 "Who, who from Dian's feast would be away?
For all the golden bowers of the day
Are empty left? Who, who away would be
From Cynthia's wedding and festivity?
Not Hesperus: lo! upon his silver wings
He leans away for highest heaven and sings,
Snapping his lucid fingers merrily!--
Ah, Zephyrus! art here, and Flora too!
Ye tender bibbers of the rain and dew,
Young playmates of the rose and daffodil,
Be careful, ere ye enter in, to fill
 Your baskets high
With fennel green, and balm, and golden pines,
Savory, latter-mint, and columbines,
Cool parsley, basil sweet, and sunny thyme;
Yea, every flower and leaf of every clime,
All gather'd in the dewy morning: hie
 Away! fly, fly!--
Crystalline brother of the belt of heaven,
Aquarius! to whom king Jove has given
Two liquid pulse streams 'stead of feather'd wings,
Two fan-like fountains,--thine illuminings
 For Dian play:
Dissolve the frozen purity of air;
Let thy white shoulders silvery and bare
Shew cold through watery pinions; make more bright
The Star-Queen's crescent on her marriage night:
 Haste, haste away!--
Castor has tamed the planet Lion, see!
And of the Bear has Pollux mastery:
A third is in the race! who is the third,
Speeding away swift as the eagle bird?
 The ramping Centaur!
The Lion's mane's on end: the Bear how fierce!
The Centaur's arrow ready seems to pierce
Some enemy: far forth his bow is bent
Into the blue of heaven. He'll be shent,
 Pale unrelentor,
When he shall hear the wedding lutes a playing.--
Andromeda! sweet woman! why delaying
So timidly among the stars: come hither!
Join this bright throng, and nimbly follow whither
 They all are going.
Danae's Son, before Jove newly bow'd,
Has wept for thee, calling to Jove aloud.
Thee, gentle lady, did he disenthral:
Ye shall for ever live and love, for all
 Thy tears are flowing.--
By Daphne's fright, behold Apollo!--"

 More
Endymion heard not: down his steed him bore,
Prone to the green head of a misty hill.

 His first touch of the earth went nigh to kill.
"Alas!" said he, "were I but always borne
Through dangerous winds, had but my footsteps worn
A path in hell, for ever would I bless
Horrors which nourish an uneasiness
For my own sullen conquering: to him
Who lives beyond earth's boundary, grief is dim,
Sorrow is but a shadow: now I see
The grass; I feel the solid ground--Ah, me!
It is thy voice--divinest! Where?--who? who
Left thee so quiet on this bed of dew?
Behold upon this happy earth we are;
Let us ay love each other; let us fare
On forest-fruits, and never, never go
Among the abodes of mortals here below,
Or be by phantoms duped. O destiny!
Into a labyrinth now my soul would fly,
But with thy beauty will I deaden it.
Where didst thou melt too? By thee will I sit
For ever: let our fate stop here--a kid
I on this spot will offer: Pan will bid
Us live in peace, in love and peace among
His forest wildernesses. I have clung
To nothing, lov'd a nothing, nothing seen
Or felt but a great dream! O I have been
Presumptuous against love, against the sky,
Against all elements, against the tie
Of mortals each to each, against the blooms
Of flowers, rush of rivers, and the tombs
Of heroes gone! Against his proper glory
Has my own soul conspired: so my story
Will I to children utter, and repent.
There never liv'd a mortal man, who bent
His appetite beyond his natural sphere,
But starv'd and died. My sweetest Indian, here,
Here will I kneel, for thou redeemed hast
My life from too thin breathing: gone and past
Are cloudy phantasms. Caverns lone, farewel!
And air of visions, and the monstrous swell
Of visionary seas! No, never more
Shall airy voices cheat me to the shore
Of tangled wonder, breathless and aghast.
Adieu, my daintiest Dream! although so vast
My love is still for thee. The hour may come
When we shall meet in pure elysium.
On earth I may not love thee; and therefore
Doves will I offer up, and sweetest store
All through the teeming year: so thou wilt shine
On me, and on this damsel fair of mine,
And bless our simple lives. My Indian bliss!
My river-lily bud! one human kiss!
One sigh of real breath--one gentle squeeze,
Warm as a dove's nest among summer trees,
And warm with dew at ooze from living blood!
Whither didst melt? Ah, what of that!--all good
We'll talk about--no more of dreaming.--Now,
Where shall our dwelling be? Under the brow
Of some steep mossy hill, where ivy dun
Would hide us up, although spring leaves were none;
And where dark yew trees, as we rustle through,
Will drop their scarlet berry cups of dew?
O thou wouldst joy to live in such a place;
Dusk for our loves, yet light enough to grace
Those gentle limbs on mossy bed reclin'd:
For by one step the blue sky shouldst thou find,
And by another, in deep dell below,
See, through the trees, a little river go
All in its mid-day gold and glimmering.
Honey from out the gnarled hive I'll bring,
And apples, wan with sweetness, gather thee,--
Cresses that grow where no man may them see,
And sorrel untorn by the dew-claw'd stag:
Pipes will I fashion of the syrinx flag,
That thou mayst always know whither I roam,
When it shall please thee in our quiet home
To listen and think of love. Still let me speak;
Still let me dive into the joy I seek,--
For yet the past doth prison me. The rill,
Thou haply mayst delight in, will I fill
With fairy fishes from the mountain tarn,
And thou shalt feed them from the squirrel's barn.
Its bottom will I strew with amber shells,
And pebbles blue from deep enchanted wells.
Its sides I'll plant with dew-sweet eglantine,
And honeysuckles full of clear bee-wine.
I will entice this crystal rill to trace
Love's silver name upon the meadow's face.
I'll kneel to Vesta, for a flame of fire;
And to god Phoebus, for a golden lyre;
To Empress Dian, for a hunting spear;
To Vesper, for a taper silver-clear,
That I may see thy beauty through the night;
To Flora, and a nightingale shall light
Tame on thy finger; to the River-gods,
And they shall bring thee taper fishing-rods
Of gold, and lines of Naiads' long bright tress.
Heaven shield thee for thine utter loveliness!
Thy mossy footstool shall the altar be
'Fore which I'll bend, bending, dear love, to thee:
Those lips shall be my Delphos, and shall speak
Laws to my footsteps, colour to my cheek,
Trembling or stedfastness to this same voice,
And of three sweetest pleasurings the choice:
And that affectionate light, those diamond things,
Those eyes, those passions, those supreme pearl springs,
Shall be my grief, or twinkle me to pleasure.
Say, is not bliss within our perfect seisure?
O that I could not doubt?"

 The mountaineer
Thus strove by fancies vain and crude to clear
His briar'd path to some tranquillity.
It gave bright gladness to his lady's eye,
And yet the tears she wept were tears of sorrow;
Answering thus, just as the golden morrow
Beam'd upward from the vallies of the east:
"O that the flutter of this heart had ceas'd,
Or the sweet name of love had pass'd away.
Young feather'd tyrant! by a swift decay
Wilt thou devote this body to the earth:
And I do think that at my very birth
I lisp'd thy blooming titles inwardly;
For at the first, first dawn and thought of thee,
With uplift hands I blest the stars of heaven.
Art thou not cruel? Ever have I striven
To think thee kind, but ah, it will not do!
When yet a child, I heard that kisses drew
Favour from thee, and so I kisses gave
To the void air, bidding them find out love:
But when I came to feel how far above
All fancy, pride, and fickle maidenhood,
All earthly pleasure, all imagin'd good,
Was the warm tremble of a devout kiss,--
Even then, that moment, at the thought of this,
Fainting I fell into a bed of flowers,
And languish'd there three days. Ye milder powers,
Am I not cruelly wrong'd? Believe, believe
Me, dear Endymion, were I to weave
With my own fancies garlands of sweet life,
Thou shouldst be one of all. Ah, bitter strife!
I may not be thy love: I am forbidden--
Indeed I am--thwarted, affrighted, chidden,
By things I trembled at, and gorgon wrath.
Twice hast thou ask'd whither I went: henceforth
Ask me no more! I may not utter it,
Nor may I be thy love. We might commit
Ourselves at once to vengeance; we might die;
We might embrace and die: voluptuous thought!
Enlarge not to my hunger, or I'm caught
In trammels of perverse deliciousness.
No, no, that shall not be: thee will I bless,
And bid a long adieu."

 The Carian
No word return'd: both lovelorn, silent, wan,
Into the vallies green together went.
Far wandering, they were perforce content
To sit beneath a fair lone beechen tree;
Nor at each other gaz'd, but heavily
Por'd on its hazle cirque of shedded leaves.

 Endymion! unhappy! it nigh grieves
Me to behold thee thus in last extreme:
Ensky'd ere this, but truly that I deem
Truth the best music in a first-born song.
Thy lute-voic'd brother will I sing ere long,
And thou shalt aid--hast thou not aided me?
Yes, moonlight Emperor! felicity
Has been thy meed for many thousand years;
Yet often have I, on the brink of tears,
Mourn'd as if yet thou wert a forester,--
Forgetting the old tale.

 He did not stir
His eyes from the dead leaves, or one small pulse
Of joy he might have felt. The spirit culls
Unfaded amaranth, when wild it strays
Through the old garden-ground of boyish days.
A little onward ran the very stream
By which he took his first soft poppy dream;
And on the very bark 'gainst which he leant
A crescent he had carv'd, and round it spent
His skill in little stars. The teeming tree
Had swollen and green'd the pious charactery,
But not ta'en out. Why, there was not a slope
Up which he had not fear'd the antelope;
And not a tree, beneath whose rooty shade
He had not with his tamed leopards play'd.
Nor could an arrow light, or javelin,
Fly in the air where his had never been--
And yet he knew it not.

 O treachery!
Why does his lady smile, pleasing her eye
With all his sorrowing? He sees her not.
But who so stares on him? His sister sure!
Peona of the woods!--Can she endure--
Impossible--how dearly they embrace!
His lady smiles; delight is in her face;
It is no treachery.

 "Dear brother mine!
Endymion, weep not so! Why shouldst thou pine
When all great Latmos so exalt wilt be?
Thank the great gods, and look not bitterly;
And speak not one pale word, and sigh no more.
Sure I will not believe thou hast such store
Of grief, to last thee to my kiss again.
Thou surely canst not bear a mind in pain,
Come hand in hand with one so beautiful.
Be happy both of you! for I will pull
The flowers of autumn for your coronals.
Pan's holy priest for young Endymion calls;
And when he is restor'd, thou, fairest dame,
Shalt be our queen. Now, is it not a shame
To see ye thus,--not very, very sad?
Perhaps ye are too happy to be glad:
O feel as if it were a common day;
Free-voic'd as one who never was away.
No tongue shall ask, whence come ye? but ye shall
Be gods of your own rest imperial.
Not even I, for one whole month, will pry
Into the hours that have pass'd us by,
Since in my arbour I did sing to thee.
O Hermes! on this very night will be
A hymning up to Cynthia, queen of light;
For the soothsayers old saw yesternight
Good visions in the air,--whence will befal,
As say these sages, health perpetual
To shepherds and their flocks; and furthermore,
In Dian's face they read the gentle lore:
Therefore for her these vesper-carols are.
Our friends will all be there from nigh and far.
Many upon thy death have ditties made;
And many, even now, their foreheads shade
With cypress, on a day of sacrifice.
New singing for our maids shalt thou devise,
And pluck the sorrow from our huntsmen's brows.
Tell me, my lady-queen, how to espouse
This wayward brother to his rightful joys!
His eyes are on thee bent, as thou didst poise
His fate most goddess-like. Help me, I pray,
To lure--Endymion, dear brother, say
What ails thee?" He could bear no more, and so
Bent his soul fiercely like a spiritual bow,
And twang'd it inwardly, and calmly said:
"I would have thee my only friend, sweet maid!
My only visitor! not ignorant though,
That those deceptions which for pleasure go
'Mong men, are pleasures real as real may be:
But there are higher ones I may not see,
If impiously an earthly realm I take.
Since I saw thee, I have been wide awake
Night after night, and day by day, until
Of the empyrean I have drunk my fill.
Let it content thee, Sister, seeing me
More happy than betides mortality.
A hermit young, I'll live in mossy cave,
Where thou alone shalt come to me, and lave
Thy spirit in the wonders I shall tell.
Through me the shepherd realm shall prosper well;
For to thy tongue will I all health confide.
And, for my sake, let this young maid abide
With thee as a dear sister. Thou alone,
Peona, mayst return to me. I own
This may sound strangely: but when, dearest girl,
Thou seest it for my happiness, no pearl
Will trespass down those cheeks. Companion fair!
Wilt be content to dwell with her, to share
This sister's love with me?" Like one resign'd
And bent by circumstance, and thereby blind
In self-commitment, thus that meek unknown:
"Aye, but a buzzing by my ears has flown,
Of jubilee to Dian:--truth I heard!
Well then, I see there is no little bird,
Tender soever, but is Jove's own care.
Long have I sought for rest, and, unaware,
Behold I find it! so exalted too!
So after my own heart! I knew, I knew
There was a place untenanted in it:
In that same void white Chastity shall sit,
And monitor me nightly to lone slumber.
With sanest lips I vow me to the number
Of Dian's sisterhood; and, kind lady,
With thy good help, this very night shall see
My future days to her fane consecrate."

 As feels a dreamer what doth most create
His own particular fright, so these three felt:
Or like one who, in after ages, knelt
To Lucifer or Baal, when he'd pine
After a little sleep: or when in mine
Far under-ground, a sleeper meets his friends
Who know him not. Each diligently bends
Towards common thoughts and things for very fear;
Striving their ghastly malady to cheer,
By thinking it a thing of yes and no,
That housewives talk of. But the spirit-blow
Was struck, and all were dreamers. At the last
Endymion said: "Are not our fates all cast?
Why stand we here? Adieu, ye tender pair!
Adieu!" Whereat those maidens, with wild stare,
Walk'd dizzily away. Pained and hot
His eyes went after them, until they got
Near to a cypress grove, whose deadly maw,
In one swift moment, would what then he saw
Engulph for ever. "Stay!" he cried, "ah, stay!
Turn, damsels! hist! one word I have to say.
Sweet Indian, I would see thee once again.
It is a thing I dote on: so I'd fain,
Peona, ye should hand in hand repair
Into those holy groves, that silent are
Behind great Dian's temple. I'll be yon,
At vesper's earliest twinkle--they are gone--
But once, once, once again--" At this he press'd
His hands against his face, and then did rest
His head upon a mossy hillock green,
And so remain'd as he a corpse had been
All the long day; save when he scantly lifted
His eyes abroad, to see how shadows shifted
With the slow move of time,--sluggish and weary
Until the poplar tops, in journey dreary,
Had reach'd the river's brim. Then up he rose,
And, slowly as that very river flows,
Walk'd towards the temple grove with this lament:
"Why such a golden eve? The breeze is sent
Careful and soft, that not a leaf may fall
Before the serene father of them all
Bows down his summer head below the west.
Now am I of breath, speech, and speed possest,
But at the setting I must bid adieu
To her for the last time. Night will strew
On the damp grass myriads of lingering leaves,
And with them shall I die; nor much it grieves
To die, when summer dies on the cold sward.
Why, I have been a butterfly, a lord
Of flowers, garlands, love-knots, silly posies,
Groves, meadows, melodies, and arbour roses;
My kingdom's at its death, and just it is
That I should die with it: so in all this
We miscal grief, bale, sorrow, heartbreak, woe,
What is there to plain of? By Titan's foe
I am but rightly serv'd." So saying, he
Tripp'd lightly on, in sort of deathful glee;
Laughing at the clear stream and setting sun,
As though they jests had been: nor had he done
His laugh at nature's holy countenance,
Until that grove appear'd, as if perchance,
And then his tongue with sober seemlihed
Gave utterance as he entered: "Ha!" I said,
"King of the butterflies; but by this gloom,
And by old Rhadamanthus' tongue of doom,
This dusk religion, pomp of solitude,
And the Promethean clay by thief endued,
By old Saturnus' forelock, by his head
Shook with eternal palsy, I did wed
Myself to things of light from infancy;
And thus to be cast out, thus lorn to die,
Is sure enough to make a mortal man
Grow impious." So he inwardly began
On things for which no wording can be found;
Deeper and deeper sinking, until drown'd
Beyond the reach of music: for the choir
Of Cynthia he heard not, though rough briar
Nor muffling thicket interpos'd to dull
The vesper hymn, far swollen, soft and full,
Through the dark pillars of those sylvan aisles.
He saw not the two maidens, nor their smiles,
Wan as primroses gather'd at midnight
By chilly finger'd spring. "Unhappy wight!
Endymion!" said Peona, "we are here!
What wouldst thou ere we all are laid on bier?"
Then he embrac'd her, and his lady's hand
Press'd, saying:" Sister, I would have command,
If it were heaven's will, on our sad fate."
At which that dark-eyed stranger stood elate
And said, in a new voice, but sweet as love,
To Endymion's amaze: "By Cupid's dove,
And so thou shalt! and by the lily truth
Of my own breast thou shalt, beloved youth!"
And as she spake, into her face there came
Light, as reflected from a silver flame:
Her long black hair swell'd ampler, in display
Full golden; in her eyes a brighter day
Dawn'd blue and full of love. Aye, he beheld
Phoebe, his passion! joyous she upheld
Her lucid bow, continuing thus; "Drear, drear
Has our delaying been; but foolish fear
Withheld me first; and then decrees of fate;
And then 'twas fit that from this mortal state
Thou shouldst, my love, by some unlook'd for change
Be spiritualiz'd. Peona, we shall range
These forests, and to thee they safe shall be
As was thy cradle; hither shalt thou flee
To meet us many a time." Next Cynthia bright
Peona kiss'd, and bless'd with fair good night:
Her brother kiss'd her too, and knelt adown
Before his goddess, in a blissful swoon.
She gave her fair hands to him, and behold,
Before three swiftest kisses he had told,
They vanish'd far away!--Peona went
Home through the gloomy wood in wonderment.


by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |

Pau-Puk-Keewis

 You shall hear how Pau-Puk-Keewis,
He, the handsome Yenadizze,
Whom the people called the Storm-Fool,
Vexed the village with disturbance;
You shall hear of all his mischief,
And his flight from Hiawatha,
And his wondrous transmigrations,
And the end of his adventures.
On the shores of Gitche Gumee,
On the dunes of Nagow Wudjoo,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water
Stood the lodge of Pau-Puk-Keewis.
It was he who in his frenzy
Whirled these drifting sands together,
On the dunes of Nagow Wudjoo,
When, among the guests assembled,
He so merrily and madly
Danced at Hiawatha's wedding,
Danced the Beggar's Dance to please them.
Now, in search of new adventures,
From his lodge went Pau-Puk-Keewis,
Came with speed into the village,
Found the young men all assembled
In the lodge of old Iagoo,
Listening to his monstrous stories,
To his wonderful adventures.
He was telling them the story
Of Ojeeg, the Summer-Maker,
How he made a hole in heaven,
How he climbed up into heaven,
And let out the summer-weather,
The perpetual, pleasant Summer;
How the Otter first essayed it;
How the Beaver, Lynx, and Badger
Tried in turn the great achievement,
From the summit of the mountain
Smote their fists against the heavens,
Smote against the sky their foreheads,
Cracked the sky, but could not break it;
How the Wolverine, uprising,
Made him ready for the encounter,
Bent his knees down, like a squirrel,
Drew his arms back, like a cricket.
"Once he leaped," said old Iagoo,
"Once he leaped, and lo! above him
Bent the sky, as ice in rivers
When the waters rise beneath it;
Twice he leaped, and lo! above him
Cracked the sky, as ice in rivers
When the freshet is at highest!
Thrice he leaped, and lo! above him
Broke the shattered sky asunder,
And he disappeared within it,
And Ojeeg, the Fisher Weasel,
With a bound went in behind him!"
"Hark you!" shouted Pau-Puk-Keewis
As he entered at the doorway;
"I am tired of all this talking,
Tired of old Iagoo's stories,
Tired of Hiawatha's wisdom.
Here is something to amuse you,
Better than this endless talking."
Then from out his pouch of wolf-skin
Forth he drew, with solemn manner,
All the game of Bowl and Counters,
Pugasaing, with thirteen pieces.
White on one side were they painted,
And vermilion on the other;
Two Kenabeeks or great serpents,
Two Ininewug or wedge-men,
One great war-club, Pugamaugun,
And one slender fish, the Keego,
Four round pieces, Ozawabeeks,
And three Sheshebwug or ducklings.
All were made of bone and painted,
All except the Ozawabeeks;
These were brass, on one side burnished,
And were black upon the other.
In a wooden bowl he placed them,
Shook and jostled them together,
Threw them on the ground before him,
Thus exclaiming and explaining:
"Red side up are all the pieces,
And one great Kenabeek standing
On the bright side of a brass piece,
On a burnished Ozawabeek;
Thirteen tens and eight are counted."
Then again he shook the pieces,
Shook and jostled them together,
Threw them on the ground before him,
Still exclaiming and explaining:
"White are both the great Kenabeeks,
White the Ininewug, the wedge-men,
Red are all the other pieces;
Five tens and an eight are counted."
Thus he taught the game of hazard,
Thus displayed it and explained it,
Running through its various chances,
Various changes, various meanings:
Twenty curious eyes stared at him,
Full of eagerness stared at him.
"Many games," said old Iagoo,
"Many games of skill and hazard
Have I seen in different nations,
Have I played in different countries.
He who plays with old Iagoo
Must have very nimble fingers;
Though you think yourself so skilful,
I can beat you, Pau-Puk-Keewis,
I can even give you lessons
In your game of Bowl and Counters!"
So they sat and played together,
All the old men and the young men,
Played for dresses, weapons, wampum,
Played till midnight, played till morning,
Played until the Yenadizze,
Till the cunning Pau-Puk-Keewis,
Of their treasures had despoiled them,
Of the best of all their dresses,
Shirts of deer-skin, robes of ermine,
Belts of wampum, crests of feathers,
Warlike weapons, pipes and pouches.
Twenty eyes glared wildly at him,
Like the eyes of wolves glared at him.
Said the lucky Pau-Puk-Keewis:
"In my wigwam I am lonely,
In my wanderings and adventures
I have need of a companion,
Fain would have a Meshinauwa,
An attendant and pipe-bearer.
I will venture all these winnings,
All these garments heaped about me,
All this wampum, all these feathers,
On a single throw will venture
All against the young man yonder!"
`T was a youth of sixteen summers,
`T was a nephew of Iagoo;
Face-in-a-Mist, the people called him.
As the fire burns in a pipe-head
Dusky red beneath the ashes,
So beneath his shaggy eyebrows
Glowed the eyes of old Iagoo.
"Ugh!" he answered very fiercely;
"Ugh!" they answered all and each one.
Seized the wooden bowl the old man,
Closely in his bony fingers
Clutched the fatal bowl, Onagon,
Shook it fiercely and with fury,
Made the pieces ring together
As he threw them down before him.
Red were both the great Kenabeeks,
Red the Ininewug, the wedge-men,
Red the Sheshebwug, the ducklings,
Black the four brass Ozawabeeks,
White alone the fish, the Keego;
Only five the pieces counted!
Then the smiling Pau-Puk-Keewis
Shook the bowl and threw the pieces;
Lightly in the air he tossed them,
And they fell about him scattered;
Dark and bright the Ozawabeeks,
Red and white the other pieces,
And upright among the others
One Ininewug was standing,
Even as crafty Pau-Puk-Keewis
Stood alone among the players,
Saying, "Five tens! mine the game is,"
Twenty eyes glared at him fiercely,
Like the eyes of wolves glared at him,
As he turned and left the wigwam,
Followed by his Meshinauwa,
By the nephew of Iagoo,
By the tall and graceful stripling,
Bearing in his arms the winnings,
Shirts of deer-skin, robes of ermine,
Belts of wampum, pipes and weapons.
"Carry them," said Pau-Puk-Keewis,
Pointing with his fan of feathers,
"To my wigwam far to eastward,
On the dunes of Nagow Wudjoo!"
Hot and red with smoke and gambling
Were the eyes of Pau-Puk-Keewis
As he came forth to the freshness
Of the pleasant Summer morning.
All the birds were singing gayly,
All the streamlets flowing swiftly,
And the heart of Pau-Puk-Keewis
Sang with pleasure as the birds sing,
Beat with triumph like the streamlets,
As he wandered through the village,
In the early gray of morning,
With his fan of turkey-feathers,
With his plumes and tufts of swan's down,
Till he reached the farthest wigwam,
Reached the lodge of Hiawatha.
Silent was it and deserted;
No one met him at the doorway,
No one came to bid him welcome;
But the birds were singing round it,
In and out and round the doorway,
Hopping, singing, fluttering, feeding,
And aloft upon the ridge-pole
Kahgahgee, the King of Ravens,
Sat with fiery eyes, and, screaming,
Flapped his wings at Pau-Puk-Keewis.
"All are gone! the lodge Is empty!"
Thus it was spake Pau-Puk-Keewis,
In his heart resolving mischief
"Gone is wary Hiawatha,
Gone the silly Laughing Water,
Gone Nokomis, the old woman,
And the lodge is left unguarded!"
By the neck he seized the raven,
Whirled it round him like a rattle,
Like a medicine-pouch he shook it,
Strangled Kahgahgee, the raven,
From the ridge-pole of the wigwam
Left its lifeless body hanging,
As an insult to its master,
As a taunt to Hiawatha.
With a stealthy step he entered,
Round the lodge in wild disorder
Threw the household things about him,
Piled together in confusion
Bowls of wood and earthen kettles,
Robes of buffalo and beaver,
Skins of otter, lynx, and ermine,
As an insult to Nokomis,
As a taunt to Minnehaha.
Then departed Pau-Puk-Keewis,
Whistling, singing through the forest,
Whistling gayly to the squirrels,
Who from hollow boughs above him
Dropped their acorn-shells upon him,
Singing gayly to the wood birds,
Who from out the leafy darkness
Answered with a song as merry.
Then he climbed the rocky headlands,
Looking o'er the Gitche Gumee,
Perched himself upon their summit,
Waiting full of mirth and mischief
The return of Hiawatha.
Stretched upon his back he lay there;
Far below him splashed the waters,
Plashed and washed the dreamy waters;
Far above him swam the heavens,
Swam the dizzy, dreamy heavens;
Round him hovered, fluttered, rustled
Hiawatha's mountain chickens,
Flock-wise swept and wheeled about him,
Almost brushed him with their pinions.
And he killed them as he lay there,
Slaughtered them by tens and twenties,
Threw their bodies down the headland,
Threw them on the beach below him,
Till at length Kayoshk, the sea-gull,
Perched upon a crag above them,
Shouted: "It is Pau-Puk-Keewis!
He is slaying us by hundreds!
Send a message to our brother,
Tidings send to Hiawatha!"


by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |

Hiawathas Wedding-Feast

 You shall hear how Pau-Puk-Keewis, 
How the handsome Yenadizze 
Danced at Hiawatha's wedding; 
How the gentle Chibiabos, 
He the sweetest of musicians, 
Sang his songs of love and longing; 
How Iagoo, the great boaster, 
He the marvellous story-teller, 
Told his tales of strange adventure, 
That the feast might be more joyous, 
That the time might pass more gayly, 
And the guests be more contented.
Sumptuous was the feast Nokomis 
Made at Hiawatha's wedding; 
All the bowls were made of bass-wood, 
White and polished very smoothly, 
All the spoons of horn of bison, 
Black and polished very smoothly.
She had sent through all the village 
Messengers with wands of willow, 
As a sign of invitation,
As a token of the feasting;
And the wedding guests assembled, 
Clad in all their richest raiment, 
Robes of fur and belts of wampum, 
Splendid with their paint and plumage, 
Beautiful with beads and tassels.
First they ate the sturgeon, Nahma, 
And the pike, the Maskenozha, 
Caught and cooked by old Nokomis; 
Then on pemican they feasted, 
Pemican and buffalo marrow, 
Haunch of deer and hump of bison, 
Yellow cakes of the Mondamin, 
And the wild rice of the river.
But the gracious Hiawatha, 
And the lovely Laughing Water, 
And the careful old Nokomis, 
Tasted not the food before them, 
Only waited on the others
Only served their guests in silence.
And when all the guests had finished, 
Old Nokomis, brisk and busy, 
From an ample pouch of otter, 
Filled the red-stone pipes for smoking 
With tobacco from the South-land, 
Mixed with bark of the red willow, 
And with herbs and leaves of fragrance.
Then she said, "O Pau-Puk-Keewis, 
Dance for us your merry dances, 
Dance the Beggar's Dance to please us, 
That the feast may be more joyous, 
That the time may pass more gayly, 
And our guests be more contented!"
Then the handsome Pau-Puk-Keewis, 
He the idle Yenadizze, 
He the merry mischief-maker, 
Whom the people called the Storm-Fool, 
Rose among the guests assembled.
Skilled was he in sports and pastimes, 
In the merry dance of snow-shoes, 
In the play of quoits and ball-play; 
Skilled was he in games of hazard, 
In all games of skill and hazard, 
Pugasaing, the Bowl and Counters, 
Kuntassoo, the Game of Plum-stones. 
Though the warriors called him Faint-Heart, 
Called him coward, Shaugodaya, 
Idler, gambler, Yenadizze,
Little heeded he their jesting, 
Little cared he for their insults, 
For the women and the maidens 
Loved the handsome Pau-Puk-Keewis.
He was dressed in shirt of doeskin, 
White and soft, and fringed with ermine, 
All inwrought with beads of wampum; 
He was dressed in deer-skin leggings,
Fringed with hedgehog quills and ermine, 
And in moccasins of buck-skin, 
Thick with quills and beads embroidered. 
On his head were plumes of swan's down, 
On his heels were tails of foxes, 
In one hand a fan of feathers, 
And a pipe was in the other.
Barred with streaks of red and yellow, 
Streaks of blue and bright vermilion, 
Shone the face of Pau-Puk-Keewis. 
From his forehead fell his tresses, 
Smooth, and parted like a woman's, 
Shining bright with oil, and plaited, 
Hung with braids of scented grasses,
As among the guests assembled, 
To the sound of flutes and singing, 
To the sound of drums and voices, 
Rose the handsome Pau-Puk-Keewis, 
And began his mystic dances.
First he danced a solemn measure, 
Very slow in step and gesture, 
In and out among the pine-trees, 
Through the shadows and the sunshine, 
Treading softly like a panther. 
Then more swiftly and still swifter, 
Whirling, spinning round in circles, 
Leaping o'er the guests assembled, 
Eddying round and round the wigwam, 
Till the leaves went whirling with him, 
Till the dust and wind together 
Swept in eddies round about him.
Then along the sandy margin 
Of the lake, the Big-Sea-Water, 
On he sped with frenzied gestures,
Stamped upon the sand, and tossed it 
Wildly in the air around him; 
Till the wind became a whirlwind, 
Till the sand was blown and sifted 
Like great snowdrifts o'er the landscape, 
Heaping all the shores with Sand Dunes, 
Sand Hills of the Nagow Wudjoo!
Thus the merry Pau-Puk-Keewis 
Danced his Beggar's Dance to please them, 
And, returning, sat down laughing 
There among the guests assembled, 
Sat and fanned himself serenely 
With his fan of turkey-feathers.
Then they said to Chibiabos, 
To the friend of Hiawatha, 
To the sweetest of all singers, 
To the best of all musicians, 
"Sing to us, O Chibiabos! 
Songs of love and songs of longing, 
That the feast may be more joyous, 
That the time may pass more gayly, 
And our guests be more contented!"
And the gentle Chibiabos 
Sang in accents sweet and tender, 
Sang in tones of deep emotion, 
Songs of love and songs of longing; 
Looking still at Hiawatha, 
Looking at fair Laughing Water, 
Sang he softly, sang in this wise:
"Onaway! Awake, beloved! 
Thou the wild-flower of the forest! 
Thou the wild-bird of the prairie! 
Thou with eyes so soft and fawn-like!
"If thou only lookest at me, 
I am happy, I am happy, 
As the lilies of the prairie, 
When they feel the dew upon them!
"Sweet thy breath is as the fragrance 
Of the wild-flowers in the morning, 
As their fragrance is at evening, 
In the Moon when leaves are falling.
"Does not all the blood within me 
Leap to meet thee, leap to meet thee, 
As the springs to meet the sunshine, 
In the Moon when nights are brightest?
"Onaway! my heart sings to thee, 
Sings with joy when thou art near me, 
As the sighing, singing branches 
In the pleasant Moon of Strawberries!
"When thou art not pleased, beloved, 
Then my heart is sad and darkened, 
As the shining river darkens 
When the clouds drop shadows on it!
"When thou smilest, my beloved, 
Then my troubled heart is brightened, 
As in sunshine gleam the ripples 
That the cold wind makes in rivers.
"Smiles the earth, and smile the waters, 
Smile the cloudless skies above us, 
But I lose the way of smiling 
When thou art no longer near me!
"I myself, myself! behold me! 
Blood of my beating heart, behold me! 
Oh awake, awake, beloved! 
Onaway! awake, beloved!"
Thus the gentle Chibiabos 
Sang his song of love and longing; 
And Iagoo, the great boaster, 
He the marvellous story-teller, 
He the friend of old Nokomis, 
Jealous of the sweet musician, 
Jealous of the applause they gave him, 
Saw in all the eyes around him, 
Saw in all their looks and gestures, 
That the wedding guests assembled
Longed to hear his pleasant stories, 
His immeasurable falsehoods.
Very boastful was Iagoo; 
Never heard he an adventure 
But himself had met a greater; 
Never any deed of daring 
But himself had done a bolder; 
Never any marvellous story 
But himself could tell a stranger.
Would you listen to his boasting, 
Would you only give him credence, 
No one ever shot an arrow 
Half so far and high as he had; 
Ever caught so many fishes, 
Ever killed so many reindeer, 
Ever trapped so many beaver!
None could run so fast as he could, 
None could dive so deep as he could, 
None could swim so far as he could; 
None had made so many journeys, 
None had seen so many wonders, 
As this wonderful Iagoo,
As this marvellous story-teller! 
Thus his name became a by-word
And a jest among the people; 
And whene'er a boastful hunter 
Praised his own address too highly, 
Or a warrior, home returning, 
Talked too much of his achievements, 
All his hearers cried, "Iagoo! 
Here's Iagoo come among us!"
He it was who carved the cradle 
Of the little Hiawatha, 
Carved its framework out of linden, 
Bound it strong with reindeer sinews; 
He it was who taught him later 
How to make his bows and arrows, 
How to make the bows of ash-tree,
And the arrows of the oak-tree. 
So among the guests assembled 
At my Hiawatha's wedding 
Sat Iagoo, old and ugly, 
Sat the marvellous story-teller.
And they said, "O good Iagoo, 
Tell us now a tale of wonder, 
Tell us of some strange adventure, 
That the feast may be more joyous, 
That the time may pass more gayly, 
And our guests be more contented!"
And Iagoo answered straightway, 
"You shall hear a tale of wonder, 
You shall hear the strange adventures
Of Osseo, the Magician,
From the Evening Star descending."


by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |

The Son Of The Evening Star

 Can it be the sun descending 
O'er the level plain of water? 
Or the Red Swan floating, flying, 
Wounded by the magic arrow, 
Staining all the waves with crimson, 
With the crimson of its life-blood, 
Filling all the air with splendor, 
With the splendor of its plumage?
Yes; it is the sun descending, 
Sinking down into the water; 
All the sky is stained with purple, 
All the water flushed with crimson! 
No; it is the Red Swan floating, 
Diving down beneath the water; 
To the sky its wings are lifted, 
With its blood the waves are reddened!
Over it the Star of Evening
Melts and trembles through the purple, 
Hangs suspended in the twilight. 
No; it is a bead of wampum 
On the robes of the Great Spirit 
As he passes through the twilight, 
Walks in silence through the heavens.
This with joy beheld Iagoo 
And he said in haste: "Behold it! 
See the sacred Star of Evening! 
You shall hear a tale of wonder, 
Hear the story of Osseo, 
Son of the Evening Star, Osseo!
"Once, in days no more remembered,
Ages nearer the beginning, 
When the heavens were closer to us, 
And the Gods were more familiar, 
In the North-land lived a hunter, 
With ten young and comely daughters, 
Tall and lithe as wands of willow; 
Only Oweenee, the youngest, 
She the wilful and the wayward, 
She the silent, dreamy maiden, 
Was the fairest of the sisters.
"All these women married warriors, 
Married brave and haughty husbands; 
Only Oweenee, the youngest, 
Laughed and flouted all her lovers, 
All her young and handsome suitors, 
And then married old Osseo, 
Old Osseo, poor and ugly, 
Broken with age and weak with coughing, 
Always coughing like a squirrel.
"Ah, but beautiful within him 
Was the spirit of Osseo, 
From the Evening Star descended, 
Star of Evening, Star of Woman, 
Star of tenderness and passion! 
All its fire was in his bosom,
All its beauty in his spirit, 
All its mystery in his being, 
All its splendor in his language!
"And her lovers, the rejected, 
Handsome men with belts of wampum, 
Handsome men with paint and feathers. 
Pointed at her in derision, 
Followed her with jest and laughter. 
But she said: 'I care not for you, 
Care not for your belts of wampum, 
Care not for your paint and feathers, 
Care not for your jests and laughter; 
I am happy with Osseo!'
'Once to some great feast invited, 
Through the damp and dusk of evening, 
Walked together the ten sisters, 
Walked together with their husbands; 
Slowly followed old Osseo, 
With fair Oweenee beside him; 
All the others chatted gayly, 
These two only walked in silence.
"At the western sky Osseo 
Gazed intent, as if imploring, 
Often stopped and gazed imploring 
At the trembling Star of Evening, 
At the tender Star of Woman; 
And they heard him murmur softly, 
'Ah, showain nemeshin, Nosa! 
Pity, pity me, my father!'
'Listen!' said the eldest sister, 
'He is praying to his father! 
What a pity that the old man 
Does not stumble in the pathway, 
Does not break his neck by falling!' 
And they laughed till all the forest 
Rang with their unseemly laughter.
"On their pathway through the woodlands 
Lay an oak, by storms uprooted,
Lay the great trunk of an oak-tree, 
Buried half in leaves and mosses, 
Mouldering, crumbling, huge and hollow. 
And Osseo, when he saw it, 
Gave a shout, a cry of anguish, 
Leaped into its yawning cavern, 
At one end went in an old man, 
Wasted, wrinkled, old, and ugly; 
From the other came a young man, 
Tall and straight and strong and handsome.
"Thus Osseo was transfigured, 
Thus restored to youth and beauty; 
But, alas for good Osseo, 
And for Oweenee, the faithful! 
Strangely, too, was she transfigured. 
Changed into a weak old woman, 
With a staff she tottered onward, 
Wasted, wrinkled, old, and ugly! 
And the sisters and their husbands 
Laughed until the echoing forest 
Rang with their unseemly laughter.
"But Osseo turned not from her, 
Walked with slower step beside her, 
Took her hand, as brown and withered 
As an oak-leaf is in Winter, 
Called her sweetheart, Nenemoosha, 
Soothed her with soft words of kindness, 
Till they reached the lodge of feasting, 
Till they sat down in the wigwam, 
Sacred to the Star of Evening, 
To the tender Star of Woman.
"Wrapt in visions, lost in dreaming, 
At the banquet sat Osseo; 
All were merry, all were happy, 
All were joyous but Osseo. 
Neither food nor drink he tasted, 
Neither did he speak nor listen; 
But as one bewildered sat he,
Looking dreamily and sadly, 
First at Oweenee, then upward 
At the gleaming sky above them.
"Then a voice was heard, a whisper, 
Coming from the starry distance, 
Coming from the empty vastness, 
Low, and musical, and tender; 
And the voice said: 'O Osseo!
O my son, my best beloved! 
Broken are the spells that bound you, 
All the charms of the magicians, 
All the magic powers of evil; 
Come to me; ascend, Osseo!
"'Taste the food that stands before you:
It is blessed and enchanted, 
It has magic virtues in it,
It will change you to a spirit. 
All your bowls and all your kettles 
Shall be wood and clay no longer; 
But the bowls be changed to wampum, 
And the kettles shall be silver; 
They shall shine like shells of scarlet, 
Like the fire shall gleam and glimmer.
"'And the women shall no longer 
Bear the dreary doom of labor, 
But be changed to birds, and glisten 
With the beauty of the starlight, 
Painted with the dusky splendors 
Of the skies and clouds of evening!'
"What Osseo heard as whispers, 
What as words he comprehended, 
Was but music to the others, 
Music as of birds afar off, 
Of the whippoorwill afar off, 
Of the lonely Wawonaissa 
Singing in the darksome forest.
"Then the lodge began to tremble, 
Straight began to shake and tremble,
And they felt it rising, rising,
Slowly through the air ascending,
From the darkness of the tree-tops
Forth into the dewy starlight,
Till it passed the topmost branches;
And behold! the wooden dishes
All were changed to shells of scarlet!
And behold! the earthen kettles
All were changed to bowls of silver!
And the roof-poles of the wigwam
Were as glittering rods of silver,
And the roof of bark upon them
As the shining shards of beetles.
"Then Osseo gazed around him,
And he saw the nine fair sisters,
All the sisters and their husbands,
Changed to birds of various plumage.
Some were jays and some were magpies,
Others thrushes, others blackbirds;
And they hopped, and sang, and twittered,
Perked and fluttered all their feathers,
Strutted in their shining plumage,
And their tails like fans unfolded.
"Only Oweenee, the youngest,
Was not changed, but sat in silence,
Wasted, wrinkled, old, and ugly,
Looking sadly at the others;
Till Osseo, gazing upward,
Gave another cry of anguish,
Such a cry as he had uttered
By the oak-tree in the forest.
"Then returned her youth and beauty,
And her soiled and tattered garments
Were transformed to robes of ermine,
And her staff became a feather,
Yes, a shining silver feather!
"And again the wigwam trembled,
Swayed and rushed through airy currents,
Through transparent cloud and vapor,
And amid celestial splendors
On the Evening Star alighted,
As a snow-flake falls on snow-flake,
As a leaf drops on a river,
As the thistledown on water.
"Forth with cheerful words of welcome
Came the father of Osseo,
He with radiant locks of silver,
He with eyes serene and tender.
And he said: `My son, Osseo,
Hang the cage of birds you bring there,
Hang the cage with rods of silver,
And the birds with glistening feathers,
At the doorway of my wigwam.'
"At the door he hung the bird-cage,
And they entered in and gladly
Listened to Osseo's father,
Ruler of the Star of Evening,
As he said: `O my Osseo!
I have had compassion on you,
Given you back your youth and beauty,
Into birds of various plumage
Changed your sisters and their husbands;
Changed them thus because they mocked you
In the figure of the old man,
In that aspect sad and wrinkled,
Could not see your heart of passion,
Could not see your youth immortal;
Only Oweenee, the faithful,
Saw your naked heart and loved you.
"`In the lodge that glimmers yonder,
In the little star that twinkles
Through the vapors, on the left hand,
Lives the envious Evil Spirit,
The Wabeno, the magician,
Who transformed you to an old man.
Take heed lest his beams fall on you,
For the rays he darts around him
Are the power of his enchantment,
Are the arrows that he uses.'
"Many years, in peace and quiet,
On the peaceful Star of Evening
Dwelt Osseo with his father;
Many years, in song and flutter,
At the doorway of the wigwam,
Hung the cage with rods of silver,
And fair Oweenee, the faithful,
Bore a son unto Osseo,
With the beauty of his mother,
With the courage of his father.
"And the boy grew up and prospered,
And Osseo, to delight him,
Made him little bows and arrows,
Opened the great cage of silver,
And let loose his aunts and uncles,
All those birds with glossy feathers,
For his little son to shoot at.
"Round and round they wheeled and darted,
Filled the Evening Star with music,
With their songs of joy and freedom
Filled the Evening Star with splendor,
With the fluttering of their plumage;
Till the boy, the little hunter,
Bent his bow and shot an arrow,
Shot a swift and fatal arrow,
And a bird, with shining feathers,
At his feet fell wounded sorely.
"But, O wondrous transformation!
`T was no bird he saw before him,
`T was a beautiful young woman,
With the arrow in her bosom!
"When her blood fell on the planet,
On the sacred Star of Evening,
Broken was the spell of magic,
Powerless was the strange enchantment,
And the youth, the fearless bowman,
Suddenly felt himself descending,
Held by unseen hands, but sinking
Downward through the empty spaces,
Downward through the clouds and vapors,
Till he rested on an island,
On an island, green and grassy,
Yonder in the Big-Sea-Water.
"After him he saw descending
All the birds with shining feathers,
Fluttering, falling, wafted downward,
Like the painted leaves of Autumn;
And the lodge with poles of silver,
With its roof like wings of beetles,
Like the shining shards of beetles,
By the winds of heaven uplifted,
Slowly sank upon the island,
Bringing back the good Osseo,
Bringing Oweenee, the faithful.
"Then the birds, again transfigured,
Reassumed the shape of mortals,
Took their shape, but not their stature;
They remained as Little People,
Like the pygmies, the Puk-Wudjies,
And on pleasant nights of Summer,
When the Evening Star was shining,
Hand in hand they danced together
On the island's craggy headlands,
On the sand-beach low and level.
"Still their glittering lodge is seen there,
On the tranquil Summer evenings,
And upon the shore the fisher
Sometimes hears their happy voices,
Sees them dancing in the starlight !"
When the story was completed,
When the wondrous tale was ended,
Looking round upon his listeners,
Solemnly Iagoo added:
"There are great men, I have known such,
Whom their people understand not,
Whom they even make a jest of,
Scoff and jeer at in derision.
From the story of Osseo
Let us learn the fate of jesters!"
All the wedding guests delighted
Listened to the marvellous story,
Listened laughing and applauding,
And they whispered to each other:
"Does he mean himself, I wonder?
And are we the aunts and uncles?"
Then again sang Chibiabos,
Sang a song of love and longing,
In those accents sweet and tender,
In those tones of pensive sadness,
Sang a maiden's lamentation
For her lover, her Algonquin.
"When I think of my beloved,
Ah me! think of my beloved,
When my heart is thinking of him,
O my sweetheart, my Algonquin!
"Ah me! when I parted from him,
Round my neck he hung the wampum,
As a pledge, the snow-white wampum,
O my sweetheart, my Algonquin!
"`I will go with you, he whispered,
Ah me! to your native country;
Let me go with you, he whispered,
O my sweetheart, my Algonquin!
"Far away, away, I answered,
Very far away, I answered,
Ah me! is my native country,
O my sweetheart, my Algonquin!
"When I looked back to behold him,
Where we parted, to behold him,
After me he still was gazing,
O my sweetheart, my Algonquin!
"By the tree he still was standing,
By the fallen tree was standing,
That had dropped into the water,
O my sweetheart, my Algonquin!
"When I think of my beloved,
Ah me! think of my beloved,
When my heart is thinking of him,
O my sweetheart, my Algonquin!"
Such was Hiawatha's Wedding,
Such the dance of Pau-Puk-Keewis,
Such the story of Iagoo,
Such the songs of Chibiabos;
Thus the wedding banquet ended,
And the wedding guests departed,
Leaving Hiawatha happy
With the night and Minnehaha.


by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |

THE OLD CLOCK ON THE STAIRS

 L'eternite est une pendule, dont le balancier dit et redit sans
cesse ces deux mots seulement dans le silence des tombeaux:
"Toujours! jamais! Jamais! toujours!"--JACQUES BRIDAINE.

Somewhat back from the village street
Stands the old-fashioned country-seat.
Across its antique portico
Tall poplar-trees their shadows throw;
And from its station in the hall
An ancient timepiece says to all,--
"Forever--never!
Never--forever!"

Half-way up the stairs it stands,
And points and beckons with its hands
From its case of massive oak,
Like a monk, who, under his cloak,
Crosses himself, and sighs, alas!
With sorrowful voice to all who pass,--
"Forever--never!
Never--forever!"

By day its voice is low and light;
But in the silent dead of night,
Distinct as a passing footstep's fall,
It echoes along the vacant hall,
Along the ceiling, along the floor,
And seems to say, at each chamber-door,--
"Forever--never!
Never--forever!"

Through days of sorrow and of mirth,
Through days of death and days of birth,
Through every swift vicissitude
Of changeful time, unchanged it has stood,
And as if, like God, it all things saw,
It calmly repeats those words of awe,--
"Forever--never!
Never--forever!"

In that mansion used to be
Free-hearted Hospitality;
His great fires up the chimney roared;
The stranger feasted at his board;
But, like the skeleton at the feast,
That warning timepiece never ceased,--
"Forever--never!
Never--forever!"

There groups of merry children played,
There youths and maidens dreaming strayed;
O precious hours! O golden prime,
And affluence of love and time!
Even as a Miser counts his gold,
Those hours the ancient timepiece told,--
"Forever--never!
Never--forever!"

From that chamber, clothed in white,
The bride came forth on her wedding night;
There, in that silent room below,
The dead lay in his shroud of snow;
And in the hush that followed the prayer,
Was heard the old clock on the stair,--
"Forever--never!
Never--forever!"

All are scattered now and fled,
Some are married, some are dead;
And when I ask, with throbs of pain.
"Ah! when shall they all meet again?"
As in the days long since gone by,
The ancient timepiece makes reply,--
"Forever--never!
Never--forever!

Never here, forever there,
Where all parting, pain, and care,
And death, and time shall disappear,--
Forever there, but never here!
The horologe of Eternity
Sayeth this incessantly,--
"Forever--never!
Never--forever!"