John Keats

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    Biographical information

  1. A Dream, After Reading Dante's Episode Of Paolo And Francesca
  2. Addressed To Haydon
  3. Answer To A Sonnet By J.H.Reynolds
  4. Bright Star
  5. Endymion. Book I
  6. Endymion. Book II
  7. Endymion. Book III
  8. Endymion. Book IV
  9. Endymion. Song Of The Indian Maid
  10. Epistle To My Brother George
  11. Fancy
  12. Fill For Me A Brimming Bowl
  13. Give Me Women, Wine, And Snuff
  14. Happy Is England! I Could Be Content
  15. Hither, Hither, Love
  16. How Many Bards Gild The Lapses Of Time!
  17. Hymn To Apollo
  18. If By Dull Rhymes Our English Must Be Chain'd
  19. In Drear-Nighted December
  20. Isabella Or The Pot Of Basil
  21. Keen, Fitful Gusts Are Whisp'ring Here And There
  22. La Belle Dame Sans Merci
  23. Lines
  24. Lines On The Mermaid Tavern
  25. Meg Merrilies
  26. O Blush Not So
  27. Ode On A Grecian Urn
  28. Ode On Indolence
  29. Ode On Melancholy
  30. Ode To A Nightingale
  31. Ode To Fanny
  32. Ode To Maia (Fragment)
  33. Ode To Psyche
  34. On Fame
  35. On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer
  36. On Leaving Some Friends At An Early Hour
  37. On Seeing The Elgin Marbles For The First Time
  38. On Sitting Down To Read King Lear Once Again
  39. On The Grasshopper And Cricket
  40. On The Sea
  41. Robin Hood
  42. The Day Is Gone, And All Its Sweets Are Gone
  43. The Eve Of St. Agnes
  44. The Human Seasons
  45. Think Of It Not, Sweet One
  46. This Living Hand
  47. To *
  48. To A Friend Who Sent Me Some Roses
  49. To A Young Lady Who Sent Me A Laurel Crown
  50. To Ailsa Rock
  51. To Autumn
  52. To Byron
  53. To Fanny
  54. To G.A.W.
  55. To Haydon
  56. To Homer
  57. To Hope
  58. To John Hamilton Reynolds
  59. To Mrs Reynolds' Cat
  60. To My Brother George
  61. To My Brothers
  62. To One Who Has Been Long In City Pent
  63. To Sleep
  64. To Solitude
  65. To The Nile
  66. When I Have Fears That I May Cease
  67. Where Be Ye Going, You Devon Maid?
  68. Where's The Poet?
  69. Why Did I Laugh Tonight? No Voice Will Tell
  70. Written Before Re-Reading King Lear
  71. Written On A Blank Space At The End Of Chaucer's Tale Of The Flowre And The Lefe
  72. Written On A Summer Evening
  73. Written On The Day That Mr Leigh Hunt Left Prison




    Biographical information
      Name: John Keats
      Place and date of birth: London (England); October 31, 1795
      Place and date of death: Rome (Italy); February 23, 1821 (aged 25)
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      A Dream, After Reading Dante's Episode Of Paolo And Francesca
        As Hermes once took to his feathers light,
        When lulled Argus, baffled, swooned and slept,
        So on a Delphic reed, my idle spright
        So played, so charmed, so conquered, so bereft
        The dragon-world of all its hundred eyes;
        And seeing it asleep, so fled away,
        Not to pure Ida with its snow-cold skies,
        Nor unto Tempe, where Jove grieved a day;
        But to that second circle of sad Hell,
        Where in the gust, the whirlwind, and the flaw
        Of rain and hail-stones, lovers need not tell
        Their sorrows. Pale were the sweet lips I saw,
        Pale were the lips I kissed, and fair the form
        I floated with, about that melancholy storm.
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      Addressed To Haydon
        High-mindedness, a jealousy for good,
        A loving-kindness for the great man's fame,
        Dwells here and there with people of no name,
        In noisome alley, and in pathless wood:
        And where we think the truth least understood,
        Oft may be found a "singleness of aim,"
        That ought to frighten into hooded shame
        A money-mongering, pitiable brood.
        How glorious this affection for the cause
        Of steadfast genius, toiling gallantly!
        What when a stout unbending champion awes
        Envy and malice to their native sty?
        Unnumbered souls breathe out a still applause,
        Proud to behold him in his country's eye.
      Up

      Answer To A Sonnet By J.H.Reynolds
        "Dark eyes are dearer far
        Than those that mock the hyacinthine bell."

        Blue! 'Tis the life of heaven,—the domain
        Of Cynthia,—the wide palace of the sun,—
        The tent of Hesperus, and all his train,—
        The bosomer of clouds, gold, gray, and dun.
        Blue! 'Tis the life of waters:—Ocean
        And all its vassal streams, pools numberless,
        May rage, and foam, and fret, but never can
        Subside, if not to dark-blue nativeness.
        Blue! gentle cousin of the forest-green,
        Married to green in all the sweetest flowers—
        Forget-me-not,—the blue-bell,—and, that queen
        Of secrecy, the violet: what strange powers
        Hast thou, as a mere shadow! But how great,
        When in an Eye thou art alive with fate!
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      Bright Star
        Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art
        Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night,
        And watching, with eternal lids apart,
        Like nature's patient sleepless eremite,
        The moving waters at their priestlike task
        Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
        Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
        Of snow upon the mountains and the moors;
        No yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
        Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
        To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
        Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
        Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
        And so live ever or else swoon to death.
      Up

      Endymion: Book I
        A Poetic Romance.

        "THE STRETCHED METRE OF AN AN ANTIQUE SONG."
        INSCRIBED TO THE MEMORY OF THOMAS CHATTERTON.

        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.
      Up

      Endymion. Book II
        O Sovereign power of love! O grief! O balm!
        All records, saving thine, come cool, and calm,
        And shadowy, through the mist of passed years:
        For others, good or bad, hatred and tears
        Have become indolent; but touching thine,
        One sigh doth echo, one poor sob doth pine,
        One kiss brings honey-dew from buried days.
        The woes of Troy, towers smothering o'er their blaze,
        Stiff-holden shields, far-piercing spears, keen blades,
        Struggling, and blood, and shrieks--all dimly fades
        Into some backward corner of the brain;
        Yet, in our very souls, we feel amain
        The close of Troilus and Cressid sweet.
        Hence, pageant history! hence, gilded cheat!
        Swart planet in the universe of deeds!
        Wide sea, that one continuous murmur breeds
        Along the pebbled shore of memory!
        Many old rotten-timber'd boats there be
        Upon thy vaporous bosom, magnified
        To goodly vessels; many a sail of pride,
        And golden keel'd, is left unlaunch'd and dry.
        But wherefore this? What care, though owl did fly
        About the great Athenian admiral's mast?
        What care, though striding Alexander past
        The Indus with his Macedonian numbers?
        Though old Ulysses tortured from his slumbers
        The glutted Cyclops, what care?--Juliet leaning
        Amid her window-flowers,--sighing,--weaning
        Tenderly her fancy from its maiden snow,
        Doth more avail than these: the silver flow
        Of Hero's tears, the swoon of Imogen,
        Fair Pastorella in the bandit's den,
        Are things to brood on with more ardency
        Than the death-day of empires. Fearfully
        Must such conviction come upon his head,
        Who, thus far, discontent, has dared to tread,
        Without one muse's smile, or kind behest,
        The path of love and poesy. But rest,
        In chaffing restlessness, is yet more drear
        Than to be crush'd, in striving to uprear
        Love's standard on the battlements of song.
        So once more days and nights aid me along,
        Like legion'd soldiers.

        Brain-sick shepherd-prince,
        What promise hast thou faithful guarded since
        The day of sacrifice? Or, have new sorrows
        Come with the constant dawn upon thy morrows?
        Alas! 'tis his old grief. For many days,
        Has he been wandering in uncertain ways:
        Through wilderness, and woods of mossed oaks;
        Counting his woe-worn minutes, by the strokes
        Of the lone woodcutter; and listening still,
        Hour after hour, to each lush-leav'd rill.
        Now he is sitting by a shady spring,
        And elbow-deep with feverous fingering
        Stems the upbursting cold: a wild rose tree
        Pavilions him in bloom, and he doth see
        A bud which snares his fancy: lo! but now
        He plucks it, dips its stalk in the water: how!
        It swells, it buds, it flowers beneath his sight;
        And, in the middle, there is softly pight
        A golden butterfly; upon whose wings
        There must be surely character'd strange things,
        For with wide eye he wonders, and smiles oft.

        Lightly this little herald flew aloft,
        Follow'd by glad Endymion's clasped hands:
        Onward it flies. From languor's sullen bands
        His limbs are loos'd, and eager, on he hies
        Dazzled to trace it in the sunny skies.
        It seem'd he flew, the way so easy was;
        And like a new-born spirit did he pass
        Through the green evening quiet in the sun,
        O'er many a heath, through many a woodland dun,
        Through buried paths, where sleepy twilight dreams
        The summer time away. One track unseams
        A wooded cleft, and, far away, the blue
        Of ocean fades upon him; then, anew,
        He sinks adown a solitary glen,
        Where there was never sound of mortal men,
        Saving, perhaps, some snow-light cadences
        Melting to silence, when upon the breeze
        Some holy bark let forth an anthem sweet,
        To cheer itself to Delphi. Still his feet
        Went swift beneath the merry-winged guide,
        Until it reached a splashing fountain's side
        That, near a cavern's mouth, for ever pour'd
        Unto the temperate air: then high it soar'd,
        And, downward, suddenly began to dip,
        As if, athirst with so much toil, 'twould sip
        The crystal spout-head: so it did, with touch
        Most delicate, as though afraid to smutch
        Even with mealy gold the waters clear.
        But, at that very touch, to disappear
        So fairy-quick, was strange! Bewildered,
        Endymion sought around, and shook each bed
        Of covert flowers in vain; and then he flung
        Himself along the grass. What gentle tongue,
        What whisperer disturb'd his gloomy rest?
        It was a nymph uprisen to the breast
        In the fountain's pebbly margin, and she stood
        'Mong lilies, like the youngest of the brood.
        To him her dripping hand she softly kist,
        And anxiously began to plait and twist
        Her ringlets round her fingers, saying: "Youth!
        Too long, alas, hast thou starv'd on the ruth,
        The bitterness of love: too long indeed,
        Seeing thou art so gentle. Could I weed
        Thy soul of care, by heavens, I would offer
        All the bright riches of my crystal coffer
        To Amphitrite; all my clear-eyed fish,
        Golden, or rainbow-sided, or purplish,
        Vermilion-tail'd, or finn'd with silvery gauze;
        Yea, or my veined pebble-floor, that draws
        A virgin light to the deep; my grotto-sands
        Tawny and gold, ooz'd slowly from far lands
        By my diligent springs; my level lilies, shells,
        My charming rod, my potent river spells;
        Yes, every thing, even to the pearly cup
        Meander gave me,--for I bubbled up
        To fainting creatures in a desert wild.
        But woe is me, I am but as a child
        To gladden thee; and all I dare to say,
        Is, that I pity thee; that on this day
        I've been thy guide; that thou must wander far
        In other regions, past the scanty bar
        To mortal steps, before thou cans't be ta'en
        From every wasting sigh, from every pain,
        Into the gentle bosom of thy love.
        Why it is thus, one knows in heaven above:
        But, a poor Naiad, I guess not. Farewel!
        I have a ditty for my hollow cell."

        Hereat, she vanished from Endymion's gaze,
        Who brooded o'er the water in amaze:
        The dashing fount pour'd on, and where its pool
        Lay, half asleep, in grass and rushes cool,
        Quick waterflies and gnats were sporting still,
        And fish were dimpling, as if good nor ill
        Had fallen out that hour. The wanderer,
        Holding his forehead, to keep off the burr
        Of smothering fancies, patiently sat down;
        And, while beneath the evening's sleepy frown
        Glow-worms began to trim their starry lamps,
        Thus breath'd he to himself: "Whoso encamps
        To take a fancied city of delight,
        O what a wretch is he! and when 'tis his,
        After long toil and travelling, to miss
        The kernel of his hopes, how more than vile:
        Yet, for him there's refreshment even in toil;
        Another city doth he set about,
        Free from the smallest pebble-bead of doubt
        That he will seize on trickling honey-combs:
        Alas, he finds them dry; and then he foams,
        And onward to another city speeds.
        But this is human life: the war, the deeds,
        The disappointment, the anxiety,
        Imagination's struggles, far and nigh,
        All human; bearing in themselves this good,
        That they are sill the air, the subtle food,
        To make us feel existence, and to shew
        How quiet death is. Where soil is men grow,
        Whether to weeds or flowers; but for me,
        There is no depth to strike in: I can see
        Nought earthly worth my compassing; so stand
        Upon a misty, jutting head of land--
        Alone? No, no; and by the Orphean lute,
        When mad Eurydice is listening to 't;
        I'd rather stand upon this misty peak,
        With not a thing to sigh for, or to seek,
        But the soft shadow of my thrice-seen love,
        Than be--I care not what. O meekest dove
        Of heaven! O Cynthia, ten-times bright and fair!
        From thy blue throne, now filling all the air,
        Glance but one little beam of temper'd light
        Into my bosom, that the dreadful might
        And tyranny of love be somewhat scar'd!
        Yet do not so, sweet queen; one torment spar'd,
        Would give a pang to jealous misery,
        Worse than the torment's self: but rather tie
        Large wings upon my shoulders, and point out
        My love's far dwelling. Though the playful rout
        Of Cupids shun thee, too divine art thou,
        Too keen in beauty, for thy silver prow
        Not to have dipp'd in love's most gentle stream.
        O be propitious, nor severely deem
        My madness impious; for, by all the stars
        That tend thy bidding, I do think the bars
        That kept my spirit in are burst--that I
        Am sailing with thee through the dizzy sky!
        How beautiful thou art! The world how deep!
        How tremulous-dazzlingly the wheels sweep
        Around their axle! Then these gleaming reins,
        How lithe! When this thy chariot attains
        Is airy goal, haply some bower veils
        Those twilight eyes? Those eyes!--my spirit fails--
        Dear goddess, help! or the wide-gaping air
        Will gulph me--help!"--At this with madden'd stare,
        And lifted hands, and trembling lips he stood;
        Like old Deucalion mountain'd o'er the flood,
        Or blind Orion hungry for the morn.
        And, but from the deep cavern there was borne
        A voice, he had been froze to senseless stone;
        Nor sigh of his, nor plaint, nor passion'd moan
        Had more been heard. Thus swell'd it forth: "Descend,
        Young mountaineer! descend where alleys bend
        Into the sparry hollows of the world!
        Oft hast thou seen bolts of the thunder hurl'd
        As from thy threshold, day by day hast been
        A little lower than the chilly sheen
        Of icy pinnacles, and dipp'dst thine arms
        Into the deadening ether that still charms
        Their marble being: now, as deep profound
        As those are high, descend! He ne'er is crown'd
        With immortality, who fears to follow
        Where airy voices lead: so through the hollow,
        The silent mysteries of earth, descend!"

        He heard but the last words, nor could contend
        One moment in reflection: for he fled
        Into the fearful deep, to hide his head
        From the clear moon, the trees, and coming madness.

        'Twas far too strange, and wonderful for sadness;
        Sharpening, by degrees, his appetite
        To dive into the deepest. Dark, nor light,
        The region; nor bright, nor sombre wholly,
        But mingled up; a gleaming melancholy;
        A dusky empire and its diadems;
        One faint eternal eventide of gems.
        Aye, millions sparkled on a vein of gold,
        Along whose track the prince quick footsteps told,
        With all its lines abrupt and angular:
        Out-shooting sometimes, like a meteor-star,
        Through a vast antre; then the metal woof,
        Like Vulcan's rainbow, with some monstrous roof
        Curves hugely: now, far in the deep abyss,
        It seems an angry lightning, and doth hiss
        Fancy into belief: anon it leads
        Through winding passages, where sameness breeds
        Vexing conceptions of some sudden change;
        Whether to silver grots, or giant range
        Of sapphire columns, or fantastic bridge
        Athwart a flood of crystal. On a ridge
        Now fareth he, that o'er the vast beneath
        Towers like an ocean-cliff, and whence he seeth
        A hundred waterfalls, whose voices come
        But as the murmuring surge. Chilly and numb
        His bosom grew, when first he, far away,
        Descried an orbed diamond, set to fray
        Old darkness from his throne: 'twas like the sun
        Uprisen o'er chaos: and with such a stun
        Came the amazement, that, absorb'd in it,
        He saw not fiercer wonders--past the wit
        Of any spirit to tell, but one of those
        Who, when this planet's sphering time doth close,
        Will be its high remembrancers: who they?
        The mighty ones who have made eternal day
        For Greece and England. While astonishment
        With deep-drawn sighs was quieting, he went
        Into a marble gallery, passing through
        A mimic temple, so complete and true
        In sacred custom, that he well nigh fear'd
        To search it inwards, whence far off appear'd,
        Through a long pillar'd vista, a fair shrine,
        And, just beyond, on light tiptoe divine,
        A quiver'd Dian. Stepping awfully,
        The youth approach'd; oft turning his veil'd eye
        Down sidelong aisles, and into niches old.
        And when, more near against the marble cold
        He had touch'd his forehead, he began to thread
        All courts and passages, where silence dead
        Rous'd by his whispering footsteps murmured faint:
        And long he travers'd to and fro, to acquaint
        Himself with every mystery, and awe;
        Till, weary, he sat down before the maw
        Of a wide outlet, fathomless and dim
        To wild uncertainty and shadows grim.
        There, when new wonders ceas'd to float before,
        And thoughts of self came on, how crude and sore
        The journey homeward to habitual self!
        A mad-pursuing of the fog-born elf,
        Whose flitting lantern, through rude nettle-briar,
        Cheats us into a swamp, into a fire,
        Into the bosom of a hated thing.

        What misery most drowningly doth sing
        In lone Endymion's ear, now he has caught
        The goal of consciousness? Ah, 'tis the thought,
        The deadly feel of solitude: for lo!
        He cannot see the heavens, nor the flow
        Of rivers, nor hill-flowers running wild
        In pink and purple chequer, nor, up-pil'd,
        The cloudy rack slow journeying in the west,
        Like herded elephants; nor felt, nor prest
        Cool grass, nor tasted the fresh slumberous air;
        But far from such companionship to wear
        An unknown time, surcharg'd with grief, away,
        Was now his lot. And must he patient stay,
        Tracing fantastic figures with his spear?
        "No!" exclaimed he, "why should I tarry here?"
        No! loudly echoed times innumerable.
        At which he straightway started, and 'gan tell
        His paces back into the temple's chief;
        Warming and glowing strong in the belief
        Of help from Dian: so that when again
        He caught her airy form, thus did he plain,
        Moving more near the while. "O Haunter chaste
        Of river sides, and woods, and heathy waste,
        Where with thy silver bow and arrows keen
        Art thou now forested? O woodland Queen,
        What smoothest air thy smoother forehead woos?
        Where dost thou listen to the wide halloos
        Of thy disparted nymphs? Through what dark tree
        Glimmers thy crescent? Wheresoe'er it be,
        'Tis in the breath of heaven: thou dost taste
        Freedom as none can taste it, nor dost waste
        Thy loveliness in dismal elements;
        But, finding in our green earth sweet contents,
        There livest blissfully. Ah, if to thee
        It feels Elysian, how rich to me,
        An exil'd mortal, sounds its pleasant name!
        Within my breast there lives a choking flame--
        O let me cool it among the zephyr-boughs!
        A homeward fever parches up my tongue--
        O let me slake it at the running springs!
        Upon my ear a noisy nothing rings--
        O let me once more hear the linnet's note!
        Before mine eyes thick films and shadows float--
        O let me 'noint them with the heaven's light!
        Dost thou now lave thy feet and ankles white?
        O think how sweet to me the freshening sluice!
        Dost thou now please thy thirst with berry-juice?
        O think how this dry palate would rejoice!
        If in soft slumber thou dost hear my voice,
        Oh think how I should love a bed of flowers!--
        Young goddess! let me see my native bowers!
        Deliver me from this rapacious deep!"

        Thus ending loudly, as he would o'erleap
        His destiny, alert he stood: but when
        Obstinate silence came heavily again,
        Feeling about for its old couch of space
        And airy cradle, lowly bow'd his face
        Desponding, o'er the marble floor's cold thrill.
        But 'twas not long; for, sweeter than the rill
        To its old channel, or a swollen tide
        To margin sallows, were the leaves he spied,
        And flowers, and wreaths, and ready myrtle crowns
        Up heaping through the slab: refreshment drowns
        Itself, and strives its own delights to hide--
        Nor in one spot alone; the floral pride
        In a long whispering birth enchanted grew
        Before his footsteps; as when heav'd anew
        Old ocean rolls a lengthened wave to the shore,
        Down whose green back the short-liv'd foam, all hoar,
        Bursts gradual, with a wayward indolence.

        Increasing still in heart, and pleasant sense,
        Upon his fairy journey on he hastes;
        So anxious for the end, he scarcely wastes
        One moment with his hand among the sweets:
        Onward he goes--he stops--his bosom beats
        As plainly in his ear, as the faint charm
        Of which the throbs were born. This still alarm,
        This sleepy music, forc'd him walk tiptoe:
        For it came more softly than the east could blow
        Arion's magic to the Atlantic isles;
        Or than the west, made jealous by the smiles
        Of thron'd Apollo, could breathe back the lyre
        To seas Ionian and Tyrian.

        O did he ever live, that lonely man,
        Who lov'd--and music slew not? 'Tis the pest
        Of love, that fairest joys give most unrest;
        That things of delicate and tenderest worth
        Are swallow'd all, and made a seared dearth,
        By one consuming flame: it doth immerse
        And suffocate true blessings in a curse.
        Half-happy, by comparison of bliss,
        Is miserable. 'Twas even so with this
        Dew-dropping melody, in the Carian's ear;
        First heaven, then hell, and then forgotten clear,
        Vanish'd in elemental passion.

        And down some swart abysm he had gone,
        Had not a heavenly guide benignant led
        To where thick myrtle branches, 'gainst his head
        Brushing, awakened: then the sounds again
        Went noiseless as a passing noontide rain
        Over a bower, where little space he stood;
        For as the sunset peeps into a wood
        So saw he panting light, and towards it went
        Through winding alleys; and lo, wonderment!
        Upon soft verdure saw, one here, one there,
        Cupids a slumbering on their pinions fair.

        After a thousand mazes overgone,
        At last, with sudden step, he came upon
        A chamber, myrtle wall'd, embowered high,
        Full of light, incense, tender minstrelsy,
        And more of beautiful and strange beside:
        For on a silken couch of rosy pride,
        In midst of all, there lay a sleeping youth
        Of fondest beauty; fonder, in fair sooth,
        Than sighs could fathom, or contentment reach:
        And coverlids gold-tinted like the peach,
        Or ripe October's faded marigolds,
        Fell sleek about him in a thousand folds--
        Not hiding up an Apollonian curve
        Of neck and shoulder, nor the tenting swerve
        Of knee from knee, nor ankles pointing light;
        But rather, giving them to the filled sight
        Officiously. Sideway his face repos'd
        On one white arm, and tenderly unclos'd,
        By tenderest pressure, a faint damask mouth
        To slumbery pout; just as the morning south
        Disparts a dew-lipp'd rose. Above his head,
        Four lily stalks did their white honours wed
        To make a coronal; and round him grew
        All tendrils green, of every bloom and hue,
        Together intertwin'd and trammel'd fresh:
        The vine of glossy sprout; the ivy mesh,
        Shading its Ethiop berries; and woodbine,
        Of velvet leaves and bugle-blooms divine;
        Convolvulus in streaked vases flush;
        The creeper, mellowing for an autumn blush;
        And virgin's bower, trailing airily;
        With others of the sisterhood. Hard by,
        Stood serene Cupids watching silently.
        One, kneeling to a lyre, touch'd the strings,
        Muffling to death the pathos with his wings;
        And, ever and anon, uprose to look
        At the youth's slumber; while another took
        A willow-bough, distilling odorous dew,
        And shook it on his hair; another flew
        In through the woven roof, and fluttering-wise
        Rain'd violets upon his sleeping eyes.

        At these enchantments, and yet many more,
        The breathless Latmian wonder'd o'er and o'er;
        Until, impatient in embarrassment,
        He forthright pass'd, and lightly treading went
        To that same feather'd lyrist, who straightway,
        Smiling, thus whisper'd: "Though from upper day
        Thou art a wanderer, and thy presence here
        Might seem unholy, be of happy cheer!
        For 'tis the nicest touch of human honour,
        When some ethereal and high-favouring donor
        Presents immortal bowers to mortal sense;
        As now 'tis done to thee, Endymion. Hence
        Was I in no wise startled. So recline
        Upon these living flowers. Here is wine,
        Alive with sparkles--never, I aver,
        Since Ariadne was a vintager,
        So cool a purple: taste these juicy pears,
        Sent me by sad Vertumnus, when his fears
        Were high about Pomona: here is cream,
        Deepening to richness from a snowy gleam;
        Sweeter than that nurse Amalthea skimm'd
        For the boy Jupiter: and here, undimm'd
        By any touch, a bunch of blooming plums
        Ready to melt between an infant's gums:
        And here is manna pick'd from Syrian trees,
        In starlight, by the three Hesperides.
        Feast on, and meanwhile I will let thee know
        Of all these things around us." He did so,
        Still brooding o'er the cadence of his lyre;
        And thus: "I need not any hearing tire
        By telling how the sea-born goddess pin'd
        For a mortal youth, and how she strove to bind
        Him all in all unto her doting self.
        Who would not be so prison'd? but, fond elf,
        He was content to let her amorous plea
        Faint through his careless arms; content to see
        An unseiz'd heaven dying at his feet;
        Content, O fool! to make a cold retreat,
        When on the pleasant grass such love, lovelorn,
        Lay sorrowing; when every tear was born
        Of diverse passion; when her lips and eyes
        Were clos'd in sullen moisture, and quick sighs
        Came vex'd and pettish through her nostrils small.
        Hush! no exclaim--yet, justly mightst thou call
        Curses upon his head.--I was half glad,
        But my poor mistress went distract and mad,
        When the boar tusk'd him: so away she flew
        To Jove's high throne, and by her plainings drew
        Immortal tear-drops down the thunderer's beard;
        Whereon, it was decreed he should be rear'd
        Each summer time to life. Lo! this is he,
        That same Adonis, safe in the privacy
        Of this still region all his winter-sleep.
        Aye, sleep; for when our love-sick queen did weep
        Over his waned corse, the tremulous shower
        Heal'd up the wound, and, with a balmy power,
        Medicined death to a lengthened drowsiness:
        The which she fills with visions, and doth dress
        In all this quiet luxury; and hath set
        Us young immortals, without any let,
        To watch his slumber through. 'Tis well nigh pass'd,
        Even to a moment's filling up, and fast
        She scuds with summer breezes, to pant through
        The first long kiss, warm firstling, to renew
        Embower'd sports in Cytherea's isle.
        Look! how those winged listeners all this while
        Stand anxious: see! behold!"--This clamant word
        Broke through the careful silence; for they heard
        A rustling noise of leaves, and out there flutter'd
        Pigeons and doves: Adonis something mutter'd,
        The while one hand, that erst upon his thigh
        Lay dormant, mov'd convuls'd and gradually
        Up to his forehead. Then there was a hum
        Of sudden voices, echoing, "Come! come!
        Arise! awake! Clear summer has forth walk'd
        Unto the clover-sward, and she has talk'd
        Full soothingly to every nested finch:
        Rise, Cupids! or we'll give the blue-bell pinch
        To your dimpled arms. Once more sweet life begin!"
        At this, from every side they hurried in,
        Rubbing their sleepy eyes with lazy wrists,
        And doubling overhead their little fists
        In backward yawns. But all were soon alive:
        For as delicious wine doth, sparkling, dive
        In nectar'd clouds and curls through water fair,
        So from the arbour roof down swell'd an air
        Odorous and enlivening; making all
        To laugh, and play, and sing, and loudly call
        For their sweet queen: when lo! the wreathed green
        Disparted, and far upward could be seen
        Blue heaven, and a silver car, air-borne,
        Whose silent wheels, fresh wet from clouds of morn,
        Spun off a drizzling dew,--which falling chill
        On soft Adonis' shoulders, made him still
        Nestle and turn uneasily about.
        Soon were the white doves plain, with necks stretch'd out,
        And silken traces lighten'd in descent;
        And soon, returning from love's banishment,
        Queen Venus leaning downward open arm'd:
        Her shadow fell upon his breast, and charm'd
        A tumult to his heart, and a new life
        Into his eyes. Ah, miserable strife,
        But for her comforting! unhappy sight,
        But meeting her blue orbs! Who, who can write
        Of these first minutes? The unchariest muse
        To embracements warm as theirs makes coy excuse.

        O it has ruffled every spirit there,
        Saving love's self, who stands superb to share
        The general gladness: awfully he stands;
        A sovereign quell is in his waving hands;
        No sight can bear the lightning of his bow;
        His quiver is mysterious, none can know
        What themselves think of it; from forth his eyes
        There darts strange light of varied hues and dyes:
        A scowl is sometimes on his brow, but who
        Look full upon it feel anon the blue
        Of his fair eyes run liquid through their souls.
        Endymion feels it, and no more controls
        The burning prayer within him; so, bent low,
        He had begun a plaining of his woe.
        But Venus, bending forward, said: "My child,
        Favour this gentle youth; his days are wild
        With love--he--but alas! too well I see
        Thou know'st the deepness of his misery.
        Ah, smile not so, my son: I tell thee true,
        That when through heavy hours I used to rue
        The endless sleep of this new-born Adon',
        This stranger ay I pitied. For upon
        A dreary morning once I fled away
        Into the breezy clouds, to weep and pray
        For this my love: for vexing Mars had teaz'd
        Me even to tears: thence, when a little eas'd,
        Down-looking, vacant, through a hazy wood,
        I saw this youth as he despairing stood:
        Those same dark curls blown vagrant in the wind:
        Those same full fringed lids a constant blind
        Over his sullen eyes: I saw him throw
        Himself on wither'd leaves, even as though
        Death had come sudden; for no jot he mov'd,
        Yet mutter'd wildly. I could hear he lov'd
        Some fair immortal, and that his embrace
        Had zoned her through the night. There is no trace
        Of this in heaven: I have mark'd each cheek,
        And find it is the vainest thing to seek;
        And that of all things 'tis kept secretest.
        Endymion! one day thou wilt be blest:
        So still obey the guiding hand that fends
        Thee safely through these wonders for sweet ends.
        'Tis a concealment needful in extreme;
        And if I guess'd not so, the sunny beam
        Thou shouldst mount up to with me. Now adieu!
        Here must we leave thee."--At these words up flew
        The impatient doves, up rose the floating car,
        Up went the hum celestial. High afar
        The Latmian saw them minish into nought;
        And, when all were clear vanish'd, still he caught
        A vivid lightning from that dreadful bow.
        When all was darkened, with Etnean throe
        The earth clos'd--gave a solitary moan--
        And left him once again in twilight lone.

        He did not rave, he did not stare aghast,
        For all those visions were o'ergone, and past,
        And he in loneliness: he felt assur'd
        Of happy times, when all he had endur'd
        Would seem a feather to the mighty prize.
        So, with unusual gladness, on he hies
        Through caves, and palaces of mottled ore,
        Gold dome, and crystal wall, and turquois floor,
        Black polish'd porticos of awful shade,
        And, at the last, a diamond balustrade,
        Leading afar past wild magnificence,
        Spiral through ruggedest loopholes, and thence
        Stretching across a void, then guiding o'er
        Enormous chasms, where, all foam and roar,
        Streams subterranean tease their granite beds;
        Then heighten'd just above the silvery heads
        Of a thousand fountains, so that he could dash
        The waters with his spear; but at the splash,
        Done heedlessly, those spouting columns rose
        Sudden a poplar's height, and 'gan to enclose
        His diamond path with fretwork, streaming round
        Alive, and dazzling cool, and with a sound,
        Haply, like dolphin tumults, when sweet shells
        Welcome the float of Thetis. Long he dwells
        On this delight; for, every minute's space,
        The streams with changed magic interlace:
        Sometimes like delicatest lattices,
        Cover'd with crystal vines; then weeping trees,
        Moving about as in a gentle wind,
        Which, in a wink, to watery gauze refin'd,
        Pour'd into shapes of curtain'd canopies,
        Spangled, and rich with liquid broideries
        Of flowers, peacocks, swans, and naiads fair.
        Swifter than lightning went these wonders rare;
        And then the water, into stubborn streams
        Collecting, mimick'd the wrought oaken beams,
        Pillars, and frieze, and high fantastic roof,
        Of those dusk places in times far aloof
        Cathedrals call'd. He bade a loth farewel
        To these founts Protean, passing gulph, and dell,
        And torrent, and ten thousand jutting shapes,
        Half seen through deepest gloom, and griesly gapes,
        Blackening on every side, and overhead
        A vaulted dome like Heaven's, far bespread
        With starlight gems: aye, all so huge and strange,
        The solitary felt a hurried change
        Working within him into something dreary,--
        Vex'd like a morning eagle, lost, and weary,
        And purblind amid foggy, midnight wolds.
        But he revives at once: for who beholds
        New sudden things, nor casts his mental slough?
        Forth from a rugged arch, in the dusk below,
        Came mother Cybele! alone--alone--
        In sombre chariot; dark foldings thrown
        About her majesty, and front death-pale,
        With turrets crown'd. Four maned lions hale
        The sluggish wheels; solemn their toothed maws,
        Their surly eyes brow-hidden, heavy paws
        Uplifted drowsily, and nervy tails
        Cowering their tawny brushes. Silent sails
        This shadowy queen athwart, and faints away
        In another gloomy arch.

        Wherefore delay,
        Young traveller, in such a mournful place?
        Art thou wayworn, or canst not further trace
        The diamond path? And does it indeed end
        Abrupt in middle air? Yet earthward bend
        Thy forehead, and to Jupiter cloud-borne
        Call ardently! He was indeed wayworn;
        Abrupt, in middle air, his way was lost;
        To cloud-borne Jove he bowed, and there crost
        Towards him a large eagle, 'twixt whose wings,
        Without one impious word, himself he flings,
        Committed to the darkness and the gloom:
        Down, down, uncertain to what pleasant doom,
        Swift as a fathoming plummet down he fell
        Through unknown things; till exhaled asphodel,
        And rose, with spicy fannings interbreath'd,
        Came swelling forth where little caves were wreath'd
        So thick with leaves and mosses, that they seem'd
        Large honey-combs of green, and freshly teem'd
        With airs delicious. In the greenest nook
        The eagle landed him, and farewel took.

        It was a jasmine bower, all bestrown
        With golden moss. His every sense had grown
        Ethereal for pleasure; 'bove his head
        Flew a delight half-graspable; his tread
        Was Hesperean; to his capable ears
        Silence was music from the holy spheres;
        A dewy luxury was in his eyes;
        The little flowers felt his pleasant sighs
        And stirr'd them faintly. Verdant cave and cell
        He wander'd through, oft wondering at such swell
        Of sudden exaltation: but, "Alas!
        Said he, "will all this gush of feeling pass
        Away in solitude? And must they wane,
        Like melodies upon a sandy plain,
        Without an echo? Then shall I be left
        So sad, so melancholy, so bereft!
        Yet still I feel immortal! O my love,
        My breath of life, where art thou? High above,
        Dancing before the morning gates of heaven?
        Or keeping watch among those starry seven,
        Old Atlas' children? Art a maid of the waters,
        One of shell-winding Triton's bright-hair'd daughters?
        Or art, impossible! a nymph of Dian's,
        Weaving a coronal of tender scions
        For very idleness? Where'er thou art,
        Methinks it now is at my will to start
        Into thine arms; to scare Aurora's train,
        And snatch thee from the morning; o'er the main
        To scud like a wild bird, and take thee off
        From thy sea-foamy cradle; or to doff
        Thy shepherd vest, and woo thee mid fresh leaves.
        No, no, too eagerly my soul deceives
        Its powerless self: I know this cannot be.
        O let me then by some sweet dreaming flee
        To her entrancements: hither sleep awhile!
        Hither most gentle sleep! and soothing foil
        For some few hours the coming solitude."

        Thus spake he, and that moment felt endued
        With power to dream deliciously; so wound
        Through a dim passage, searching till he found
        The smoothest mossy bed and deepest, where
        He threw himself, and just into the air
        Stretching his indolent arms, he took, O bliss!
        A naked waist: "Fair Cupid, whence is this?"
        A well-known voice sigh'd, "Sweetest, here am I!"
        At which soft ravishment, with doating cry
        They trembled to each other.--Helicon!
        O fountain'd hill! Old Homer's Helicon!
        That thou wouldst spout a little streamlet o'er
        These sorry pages; then the verse would soar
        And sing above this gentle pair, like lark
        Over his nested young: but all is dark
        Around thine aged top, and thy clear fount
        Exhales in mists to heaven. Aye, the count
        Of mighty Poets is made up; the scroll
        Is folded by the Muses; the bright roll
        Is in Apollo's hand: our dazed eyes
        Have seen a new tinge in the western skies:
        The world has done its duty. Yet, oh yet,
        Although the sun of poesy is set,
        These lovers did embrace, and we must weep
        That there is no old power left to steep
        A quill immortal in their joyous tears.
        Long time in silence did their anxious fears
        Question that thus it was; long time they lay
        Fondling and kissing every doubt away;
        Long time ere soft caressing sobs began
        To mellow into words, and then there ran
        Two bubbling springs of talk from their sweet lips.
        "O known Unknown! from whom my being sips
        Such darling essence, wherefore may I not
        Be ever in these arms? in this sweet spot
        Pillow my chin for ever? ever press
        These toying hands and kiss their smooth excess?
        Why not for ever and for ever feel
        That breath about my eyes? Ah, thou wilt steal
        Away from me again, indeed, indeed--
        Thou wilt be gone away, and wilt not heed
        My lonely madness. Speak, my kindest fair!
        Is--is it to be so? No! Who will dare
        To pluck thee from me? And, of thine own will,
        Full well I feel thou wouldst not leave me. Still
        Let me entwine thee surer, surer--now
        How can we part? Elysium! who art thou?
        Who, that thou canst not be for ever here,
        Or lift me with thee to some starry sphere?
        Enchantress! tell me by this soft embrace,
        By the most soft completion of thy face,
        Those lips, O slippery blisses, twinkling eyes,
        And by these tenderest, milky sovereignties--
        These tenderest, and by the nectar-wine,
        The passion"--------"O lov'd Ida the divine!
        Endymion! dearest! Ah, unhappy me!
        His soul will 'scape us--O felicity!
        How he does love me! His poor temples beat
        To the very tune of love--how sweet, sweet, sweet.
        Revive, dear youth, or I shall faint and die;
        Revive, or these soft hours will hurry by
        In tranced dulness; speak, and let that spell
        Affright this lethargy! I cannot quell
        Its heavy pressure, and will press at least
        My lips to thine, that they may richly feast
        Until we taste the life of love again.
        What! dost thou move? dost kiss? O bliss! O pain!
        I love thee, youth, more than I can conceive;
        And so long absence from thee doth bereave
        My soul of any rest: yet must I hence:
        Yet, can I not to starry eminence
        Uplift thee; nor for very shame can own
        Myself to thee. Ah, dearest, do not groan
        Or thou wilt force me from this secrecy,
        And I must blush in heaven. O that I
        Had done it already; that the dreadful smiles
        At my lost brightness, my impassion'd wiles,
        Had waned from Olympus' solemn height,
        And from all serious Gods; that our delight
        Was quite forgotten, save of us alone!
        And wherefore so ashamed? 'Tis but to atone
        For endless pleasure, by some coward blushes:
        Yet must I be a coward!--Horror rushes
        Too palpable before me--the sad look
        Of Jove--Minerva's start--no bosom shook
        With awe of purity--no Cupid pinion
        In reverence veiled--my crystaline dominion
        Half lost, and all old hymns made nullity!
        But what is this to love? O I could fly
        With thee into the ken of heavenly powers,
        So thou wouldst thus, for many sequent hours,
        Press me so sweetly. Now I swear at once
        That I am wise, that Pallas is a dunce--
        Perhaps her love like mine is but unknown--
        O I do think that I have been alone
        In chastity: yes, Pallas has been sighing,
        While every eve saw me my hair uptying
        With fingers cool as aspen leaves. Sweet love,
        I was as vague as solitary dove,
        Nor knew that nests were built. Now a soft kiss--
        Aye, by that kiss, I vow an endless bliss,
        An immortality of passion's thine:
        Ere long I will exalt thee to the shine
        Of heaven ambrosial; and we will shade
        Ourselves whole summers by a river glade;
        And I will tell thee stories of the sky,
        And breathe thee whispers of its minstrelsy.
        My happy love will overwing all bounds!
        O let me melt into thee; let the sounds
        Of our close voices marry at their birth;
        Let us entwine hoveringly--O dearth
        Of human words! roughness of mortal speech!
        Lispings empyrean will I sometime teach
        Thine honied tongue--lute-breathings, which I gasp
        To have thee understand, now while I clasp
        Thee thus, and weep for fondness--I am pain'd,
        Endymion: woe! woe! is grief contain'd
        In the very deeps of pleasure, my sole life?"--
        Hereat, with many sobs, her gentle strife
        Melted into a languor. He return'd
        Entranced vows and tears.

        Ye who have yearn'd
        With too much passion, will here stay and pity,
        For the mere sake of truth; as 'tis a ditty
        Not of these days, but long ago 'twas told
        By a cavern wind unto a forest old;
        And then the forest told it in a dream
        To a sleeping lake, whose cool and level gleam
        A poet caught as he was journeying
        To Phoebus' shrine; and in it he did fling
        His weary limbs, bathing an hour's space,
        And after, straight in that inspired place
        He sang the story up into the air,
        Giving it universal freedom. There
        Has it been ever sounding for those ears
        Whose tips are glowing hot. The legend cheers
        Yon centinel stars; and he who listens to it
        Must surely be self-doomed or he will rue it:
        For quenchless burnings come upon the heart,
        Made fiercer by a fear lest any part
        Should be engulphed in the eddying wind.
        As much as here is penn'd doth always find
        A resting place, thus much comes clear and plain;
        Anon the strange voice is upon the wane--
        And 'tis but echo'd from departing sound,
        That the fair visitant at last unwound
        Her gentle limbs, and left the youth asleep.--
        Thus the tradition of the gusty deep.

        Now turn we to our former chroniclers.--
        Endymion awoke, that grief of hers
        Sweet paining on his ear: he sickly guess'd
        How lone he was once more, and sadly press'd
        His empty arms together, hung his head,
        And most forlorn upon that widow'd bed
        Sat silently. Love's madness he had known:
        Often with more than tortured lion's groan
        Moanings had burst from him; but now that rage
        Had pass'd away: no longer did he wage
        A rough-voic'd war against the dooming stars.
        No, he had felt too much for such harsh jars:
        The lyre of his soul Eolian tun'd
        Forgot all violence, and but commun'd
        With melancholy thought: O he had swoon'd
        Drunken from pleasure's nipple; and his love
        Henceforth was dove-like.--Loth was he to move
        From the imprinted couch, and when he did,
        'Twas with slow, languid paces, and face hid
        In muffling hands. So temper'd, out he stray'd
        Half seeing visions that might have dismay'd
        Alecto's serpents; ravishments more keen
        Than Hermes' pipe, when anxious he did lean
        Over eclipsing eyes: and at the last
        It was a sounding grotto, vaulted, vast,
        O'er studded with a thousand, thousand pearls,
        And crimson mouthed shells with stubborn curls,
        Of every shape and size, even to the bulk
        In which whales arbour close, to brood and sulk
        Against an endless storm. Moreover too,
        Fish-semblances, of green and azure hue,
        Ready to snort their streams. In this cool wonder
        Endymion sat down, and 'gan to ponder
        On all his life: his youth, up to the day
        When 'mid acclaim, and feasts, and garlands gay,
        He stept upon his shepherd throne: the look
        Of his white palace in wild forest nook,
        And all the revels he had lorded there:
        Each tender maiden whom he once thought fair,
        With every friend and fellow-woodlander--
        Pass'd like a dream before him. Then the spur
        Of the old bards to mighty deeds: his plans
        To nurse the golden age 'mong shepherd clans:
        That wondrous night: the great Pan-festival:
        His sister's sorrow; and his wanderings all,
        Until into the earth's deep maw he rush'd:
        Then all its buried magic, till it flush'd
        High with excessive love. "And now," thought he,
        "How long must I remain in jeopardy
        Of blank amazements that amaze no more?
        Now I have tasted her sweet soul to the core
        All other depths are shallow: essences,
        Once spiritual, are like muddy lees,
        Meant but to fertilize my earthly root,
        And make my branches lift a golden fruit
        Into the bloom of heaven: other light,
        Though it be quick and sharp enough to blight
        The Olympian eagle's vision, is dark,
        Dark as the parentage of chaos. Hark!
        My silent thoughts are echoing from these shells;
        Or they are but the ghosts, the dying swells
        Of noises far away?--list!"--Hereupon
        He kept an anxious ear. The humming tone
        Came louder, and behold, there as he lay,
        On either side outgush'd, with misty spray,
        A copious spring; and both together dash'd
        Swift, mad, fantastic round the rocks, and lash'd
        Among the conchs and shells of the lofty grot,
        Leaving a trickling dew. At last they shot
        Down from the ceiling's height, pouring a noise
        As of some breathless racers whose hopes poize
        Upon the last few steps, and with spent force
        Along the ground they took a winding course.
        Endymion follow'd--for it seem'd that one
        Ever pursued, the other strove to shun--
        Follow'd their languid mazes, till well nigh
        He had left thinking of the mystery,--
        And was now rapt in tender hoverings
        Over the vanish'd bliss. Ah! what is it sings
        His dream away? What melodies are these?
        They sound as through the whispering of trees,
        Not native in such barren vaults. Give ear!

        "O Arethusa, peerless nymph! why fear
        Such tenderness as mine? Great Dian, why,
        Why didst thou hear her prayer? O that I
        Were rippling round her dainty fairness now,
        Circling about her waist, and striving how
        To entice her to a dive! then stealing in
        Between her luscious lips and eyelids thin.
        O that her shining hair was in the sun,
        And I distilling from it thence to run
        In amorous rillets down her shrinking form!
        To linger on her lily shoulders, warm
        Between her kissing breasts, and every charm
        Touch raptur'd!--See how painfully I flow:
        Fair maid, be pitiful to my great woe.
        Stay, stay thy weary course, and let me lead,
        A happy wooer, to the flowery mead
        Where all that beauty snar'd me."--"Cruel god,
        Desist! or my offended mistress' nod
        Will stagnate all thy fountains:--tease me not
        With syren words--Ah, have I really got
        Such power to madden thee? And is it true--
        Away, away, or I shall dearly rue
        My very thoughts: in mercy then away,
        Kindest Alpheus for should I obey
        My own dear will, 'twould be a deadly bane."--
        "O, Oread-Queen! would that thou hadst a pain
        Like this of mine, then would I fearless turn
        And be a criminal."--"Alas, I burn,
        I shudder--gentle river, get thee hence.
        Alpheus! thou enchanter! every sense
        Of mine was once made perfect in these woods.
        Fresh breezes, bowery lawns, and innocent floods,
        Ripe fruits, and lonely couch, contentment gave;
        But ever since I heedlessly did lave
        In thy deceitful stream, a panting glow
        Grew strong within me: wherefore serve me so,
        And call it love? Alas, 'twas cruelty.
        Not once more did I close my happy eyes
        Amid the thrush's song. Away! Avaunt!
        O 'twas a cruel thing."--"Now thou dost taunt
        So softly, Arethusa, that I think
        If thou wast playing on my shady brink,
        Thou wouldst bathe once again. Innocent maid!
        Stifle thine heart no more;--nor be afraid
        Of angry powers: there are deities
        Will shade us with their wings. Those fitful sighs
        'Tis almost death to hear: O let me pour
        A dewy balm upon them!--fear no more,
        Sweet Arethusa! Dian's self must feel
        Sometimes these very pangs. Dear maiden, steal
        Blushing into my soul, and let us fly
        These dreary caverns for the open sky.
        I will delight thee all my winding course,
        From the green sea up to my hidden source
        About Arcadian forests; and will shew
        The channels where my coolest waters flow
        Through mossy rocks; where, 'mid exuberant green,
        I roam in pleasant darkness, more unseen
        Than Saturn in his exile; where I brim
        Round flowery islands, and take thence a skim
        Of mealy sweets, which myriads of bees
        Buzz from their honied wings: and thou shouldst please
        Thyself to choose the richest, where we might
        Be incense-pillow'd every summer night.
        Doff all sad fears, thou white deliciousness,
        And let us be thus comforted; unless
        Thou couldst rejoice to see my hopeless stream
        Hurry distracted from Sol's temperate beam,
        And pour to death along some hungry sands."--
        "What can I do, Alpheus? Dian stands
        Severe before me: persecuting fate!
        Unhappy Arethusa! thou wast late
        A huntress free in"--At this, sudden fell
        Those two sad streams adown a fearful dell.
        The Latmian listen'd, but he heard no more,
        Save echo, faint repeating o'er and o'er
        The name of Arethusa. On the verge
        Of that dark gulph he wept, and said: "I urge
        Thee, gentle Goddess of my pilgrimage,
        By our eternal hopes, to soothe, to assuage,
        If thou art powerful, these lovers pains;
        And make them happy in some happy plains.

        He turn'd--there was a whelming sound--he stept,
        There was a cooler light; and so he kept
        Towards it by a sandy path, and lo!
        More suddenly than doth a moment go,
        The visions of the earth were gone and fled--
        He saw the giant sea above his head.
      Up

      Endymion. Book III
        There are who lord it o'er their fellow-men
        With most prevailing tinsel: who unpen
        Their baaing vanities, to browse away
        The comfortable green and juicy hay
        From human pastures; or, O torturing fact!
        Who, through an idiot blink, will see unpack'd
        Fire-branded foxes to sear up and singe
        Our gold and ripe-ear'd hopes. With not one tinge
        Of sanctuary splendour, not a sight
        Able to face an owl's, they still are dight
        By the blear-eyed nations in empurpled vests,
        And crowns, and turbans. With unladen breasts,
        Save of blown self-applause, they proudly mount
        To their spirit's perch, their being's high account,
        Their tiptop nothings, their dull skies, their thrones--
        Amid the fierce intoxicating tones
        Of trumpets, shoutings, and belabour'd drums,
        And sudden cannon. Ah! how all this hums,
        In wakeful ears, like uproar past and gone--
        Like thunder clouds that spake to Babylon,
        And set those old Chaldeans to their tasks.--
        Are then regalities all gilded masks?
        No, there are throned seats unscalable
        But by a patient wing, a constant spell,
        Or by ethereal things that, unconfin'd,
        Can make a ladder of the eternal wind,
        And poise about in cloudy thunder-tents
        To watch the abysm-birth of elements.
        Aye, 'bove the withering of old-lipp'd Fate
        A thousand Powers keep religious state,
        In water, fiery realm, and airy bourne;
        And, silent as a consecrated urn,
        Hold sphery sessions for a season due.
        Yet few of these far majesties, ah, few!
        Have bared their operations to this globe--
        Few, who with gorgeous pageantry enrobe
        Our piece of heaven--whose benevolence
        Shakes hand with our own Ceres; every sense
        Filling with spiritual sweets to plenitude,
        As bees gorge full their cells. And, by the feud
        'Twixt Nothing and Creation, I here swear,
        Eterne Apollo! that thy Sister fair
        Is of all these the gentlier-mightiest.
        When thy gold breath is misting in the west,
        She unobserved steals unto her throne,
        And there she sits most meek and most alone;
        As if she had not pomp subservient;
        As if thine eye, high Poet! was not bent
        Towards her with the Muses in thine heart;
        As if the ministring stars kept not apart,
        Waiting for silver-footed messages.
        O Moon! the oldest shades 'mong oldest trees
        Feel palpitations when thou lookest in:
        O Moon! old boughs lisp forth a holier din
        The while they feel thine airy fellowship.
        Thou dost bless every where, with silver lip
        Kissing dead things to life. The sleeping kine,
        Couched in thy brightness, dream of fields divine:
        Innumerable mountains rise, and rise,
        Ambitious for the hallowing of thine eyes;
        And yet thy benediction passeth not
        One obscure hiding-place, one little spot
        Where pleasure may be sent: the nested wren
        Has thy fair face within its tranquil ken,
        And from beneath a sheltering ivy leaf
        Takes glimpses of thee; thou art a relief
        To the poor patient oyster, where it sleeps
        Within its pearly house.--The mighty deeps,
        The monstrous sea is thine--the myriad sea!
        O Moon! far-spooming Ocean bows to thee,
        And Tellus feels his forehead's cumbrous load.

        Cynthia! where art thou now? What far abode
        Of green or silvery bower doth enshrine
        Such utmost beauty? Alas, thou dost pine
        For one as sorrowful: thy cheek is pale
        For one whose cheek is pale: thou dost bewail
        His tears, who weeps for thee. Where dost thou sigh?
        Ah! surely that light peeps from Vesper's eye,
        Or what a thing is love! 'Tis She, but lo!
        How chang'd, how full of ache, how gone in woe!
        She dies at the thinnest cloud; her loveliness
        Is wan on Neptune's blue: yet there's a stress
        Of love-spangles, just off yon cape of trees,
        Dancing upon the waves, as if to please
        The curly foam with amorous influence.
        O, not so idle: for down-glancing thence
        She fathoms eddies, and runs wild about
        O'erwhelming water-courses; scaring out
        The thorny sharks from hiding-holes, and fright'ning
        Their savage eyes with unaccustomed lightning.
        Where will the splendor be content to reach?
        O love! how potent hast thou been to teach
        Strange journeyings! Wherever beauty dwells,
        In gulf or aerie, mountains or deep dells,
        In light, in gloom, in star or blazing sun,
        Thou pointest out the way, and straight 'tis won.
        Amid his toil thou gav'st Leander breath;
        Thou leddest Orpheus through the gleams of death;
        Thou madest Pluto bear thin element;
        And now, O winged Chieftain! thou hast sent
        A moon-beam to the deep, deep water-world,
        To find Endymion.

        On gold sand impearl'd
        With lily shells, and pebbles milky white,
        Poor Cynthia greeted him, and sooth'd her light
        Against his pallid face: he felt the charm
        To breathlessness, and suddenly a warm
        Of his heart's blood: 'twas very sweet; he stay'd
        His wandering steps, and half-entranced laid
        His head upon a tuft of straggling weeds,
        To taste the gentle moon, and freshening beads,
        Lashed from the crystal roof by fishes' tails.
        And so he kept, until the rosy veils
        Mantling the east, by Aurora's peering hand
        Were lifted from the water's breast, and fann'd
        Into sweet air; and sober'd morning came
        Meekly through billows:--when like taper-flame
        Left sudden by a dallying breath of air,
        He rose in silence, and once more 'gan fare
        Along his fated way.

        Far had he roam'd,
        With nothing save the hollow vast, that foam'd
        Above, around, and at his feet; save things
        More dead than Morpheus' imaginings:
        Old rusted anchors, helmets, breast-plates large
        Of gone sea-warriors; brazen beaks and targe;
        Rudders that for a hundred years had lost
        The sway of human hand; gold vase emboss'd
        With long-forgotten story, and wherein
        No reveller had ever dipp'd a chin
        But those of Saturn's vintage; mouldering scrolls,
        Writ in the tongue of heaven, by those souls
        Who first were on the earth; and sculptures rude
        In ponderous stone, developing the mood
        Of ancient Nox;--then skeletons of man,
        Of beast, behemoth, and leviathan,
        And elephant, and eagle, and huge jaw
        Of nameless monster. A cold leaden awe
        These secrets struck into him; and unless
        Dian had chaced away that heaviness,
        He might have died: but now, with cheered feel,
        He onward kept; wooing these thoughts to steal
        About the labyrinth in his soul of love.

        "What is there in thee, Moon! that thou shouldst move
        My heart so potently? When yet a child
        I oft have dried my tears when thou hast smil'd.
        Thou seem'dst my sister: hand in hand we went
        From eve to morn across the firmament.
        No apples would I gather from the tree,
        Till thou hadst cool'd their cheeks deliciously:
        No tumbling water ever spake romance,
        But when my eyes with thine thereon could dance:
        No woods were green enough, no bower divine,
        Until thou liftedst up thine eyelids fine:
        In sowing time ne'er would I dibble take,
        Or drop a seed, till thou wast wide awake;
        And, in the summer tide of blossoming,
        No one but thee hath heard me blithly sing
        And mesh my dewy flowers all the night.
        No melody was like a passing spright
        If it went not to solemnize thy reign.
        Yes, in my boyhood, every joy and pain
        By thee were fashion'd to the self-same end;
        And as I grew in years, still didst thou blend
        With all my ardours: thou wast the deep glen;
        Thou wast the mountain-top--the sage's pen--
        The poet's harp--the voice of friends--the sun;
        Thou wast the river--thou wast glory won;
        Thou wast my clarion's blast--thou wast my steed--
        My goblet full of wine--my topmost deed:--
        Thou wast the charm of women, lovely Moon!
        O what a wild and harmonized tune
        My spirit struck from all the beautiful!
        On some bright essence could I lean, and lull
        Myself to immortality: I prest
        Nature's soft pillow in a wakeful rest.
        But, gentle Orb! there came a nearer bliss--
        My strange love came--Felicity's abyss!
        She came, and thou didst fade, and fade away--
        Yet not entirely; no, thy starry sway
        Has been an under-passion to this hour.
        Now I begin to feel thine orby power
        Is coming fresh upon me: O be kind,
        Keep back thine influence, and do not blind
        My sovereign vision.--Dearest love, forgive
        That I can think away from thee and live!--
        Pardon me, airy planet, that I prize
        One thought beyond thine argent luxuries!
        How far beyond!" At this a surpris'd start
        Frosted the springing verdure of his heart;
        For as he lifted up his eyes to swear
        How his own goddess was past all things fair,
        He saw far in the concave green of the sea
        An old man sitting calm and peacefully.
        Upon a weeded rock this old man sat,
        And his white hair was awful, and a mat
        Of weeds were cold beneath his cold thin feet;
        And, ample as the largest winding-sheet,
        A cloak of blue wrapp'd up his aged bones,
        O'erwrought with symbols by the deepest groans
        Of ambitious magic: every ocean-form
        Was woven in with black distinctness; storm,
        And calm, and whispering, and hideous roar
        Were emblem'd in the woof; with every shape
        That skims, or dives, or sleeps, 'twixt cape and cape.
        The gulphing whale was like a dot in the spell,
        Yet look upon it, and 'twould size and swell
        To its huge self; and the minutest fish
        Would pass the very hardest gazer's wish,
        And show his little eye's anatomy.
        Then there was pictur'd the regality
        Of Neptune; and the sea nymphs round his state,
        In beauteous vassalage, look up and wait.
        Beside this old man lay a pearly wand,
        And in his lap a book, the which he conn'd
        So stedfastly, that the new denizen
        Had time to keep him in amazed ken,
        To mark these shadowings, and stand in awe.

        The old man rais'd his hoary head and saw
        The wilder'd stranger--seeming not to see,
        His features were so lifeless. Suddenly
        He woke as from a trance; his snow-white brows
        Went arching up, and like two magic ploughs
        Furrow'd deep wrinkles in his forehead large,
        Which kept as fixedly as rocky marge,
        Till round his wither'd lips had gone a smile.
        Then up he rose, like one whose tedious toil
        Had watch'd for years in forlorn hermitage,
        Who had not from mid-life to utmost age
        Eas'd in one accent his o'er-burden'd soul,
        Even to the trees. He rose: he grasp'd his stole,
        With convuls'd clenches waving it abroad,
        And in a voice of solemn joy, that aw'd
        Echo into oblivion, he said:--

        "Thou art the man! Now shall I lay my head
        In peace upon my watery pillow: now
        Sleep will come smoothly to my weary brow.
        O Jove! I shall be young again, be young!
        O shell-borne Neptune, I am pierc'd and stung
        With new-born life! What shall I do? Where go,
        When I have cast this serpent-skin of woe?--
        I'll swim to the syrens, and one moment listen
        Their melodies, and see their long hair glisten;
        Anon upon that giant's arm I'll be,
        That writhes about the roots of Sicily:
        To northern seas I'll in a twinkling sail,
        And mount upon the snortings of a whale
        To some black cloud; thence down I'll madly sweep
        On forked lightning, to the deepest deep,
        Where through some sucking pool I will be hurl'd
        With rapture to the other side of the world!
        O, I am full of gladness! Sisters three,
        I bow full hearted to your old decree!
        Yes, every god be thank'd, and power benign,
        For I no more shall wither, droop, and pine.
        Thou art the man!" Endymion started back
        Dismay'd; and, like a wretch from whom the rack
        Tortures hot breath, and speech of agony,
        Mutter'd: "What lonely death am I to die
        In this cold region? Will he let me freeze,
        And float my brittle limbs o'er polar seas?
        Or will he touch me with his searing hand,
        And leave a black memorial on the sand?
        Or tear me piece-meal with a bony saw,
        And keep me as a chosen food to draw
        His magian fish through hated fire and flame?
        O misery of hell! resistless, tame,
        Am I to be burnt up? No, I will shout,
        Until the gods through heaven's blue look out!--
        O Tartarus! but some few days agone
        Her soft arms were entwining me, and on
        Her voice I hung like fruit among green leaves:
        Her lips were all my own, and--ah, ripe sheaves
        Of happiness! ye on the stubble droop,
        But never may be garner'd. I must stoop
        My head, and kiss death's foot. Love! love, farewel!
        Is there no hope from thee? This horrid spell
        Would melt at thy sweet breath.--By Dian's hind
        Feeding from her white fingers, on the wind
        I see thy streaming hair! and now, by Pan,
        I care not for this old mysterious man!"

        He spake, and walking to that aged form,
        Look'd high defiance. Lo! his heart 'gan warm
        With pity, for the grey-hair'd creature wept.
        Had he then wrong'd a heart where sorrow kept?
        Had he, though blindly contumelious, brought
        Rheum to kind eyes, a sting to human thought,
        Convulsion to a mouth of many years?
        He had in truth; and he was ripe for tears.
        The penitent shower fell, as down he knelt
        Before that care-worn sage, who trembling felt
        About his large dark locks, and faultering spake:

        "Arise, good youth, for sacred Phoebus' sake!
        I know thine inmost bosom, and I feel
        A very brother's yearning for thee steal
        Into mine own: for why? thou openest
        The prison gates that have so long opprest
        My weary watching. Though thou know'st it not,
        Thou art commission'd to this fated spot
        For great enfranchisement. O weep no more;
        I am a friend to love, to loves of yore:
        Aye, hadst thou never lov'd an unknown power
        I had been grieving at this joyous hour
        But even now most miserable old,
        I saw thee, and my blood no longer cold
        Gave mighty pulses: in this tottering case
        Grew a new heart, which at this moment plays
        As dancingly as thine. Be not afraid,
        For thou shalt hear this secret all display'd,
        Now as we speed towards our joyous task."

        So saying, this young soul in age's mask
        Went forward with the Carian side by side:
        Resuming quickly thus; while ocean's tide
        Hung swollen at their backs, and jewel'd sands
        Took silently their foot-prints. "My soul stands
        Now past the midway from mortality,
        And so I can prepare without a sigh
        To tell thee briefly all my joy and pain.
        I was a fisher once, upon this main,
        And my boat danc'd in every creek and bay;
        Rough billows were my home by night and day,--
        The sea-gulls not more constant; for I had
        No housing from the storm and tempests mad,
        But hollow rocks,--and they were palaces
        Of silent happiness, of slumberous ease:
        Long years of misery have told me so.
        Aye, thus it was one thousand years ago.
        One thousand years!--Is it then possible
        To look so plainly through them? to dispel
        A thousand years with backward glance sublime?
        To breathe away as 'twere all scummy slime
        From off a crystal pool, to see its deep,
        And one's own image from the bottom peep?
        Yes: now I am no longer wretched thrall,
        My long captivity and moanings all
        Are but a slime, a thin-pervading scum,
        The which I breathe away, and thronging come
        Like things of yesterday my youthful pleasures.

        "I touch'd no lute, I sang not, trod no measures:
        I was a lonely youth on desert shores.
        My sports were lonely, 'mid continuous roars,
        And craggy isles, and sea-mew's plaintive cry
        Plaining discrepant between sea and sky.
        Dolphins were still my playmates; shapes unseen
        Would let me feel their scales of gold and green,
        Nor be my desolation; and, full oft,
        When a dread waterspout had rear'd aloft
        Its hungry hugeness, seeming ready ripe
        To burst with hoarsest thunderings, and wipe
        My life away like a vast sponge of fate,
        Some friendly monster, pitying my sad state,
        Has dived to its foundations, gulph'd it down,
        And left me tossing safely. But the crown
        Of all my life was utmost quietude:
        More did I love to lie in cavern rude,
        Keeping in wait whole days for Neptune's voice,
        And if it came at last, hark, and rejoice!
        There blush'd no summer eve but I would steer
        My skiff along green shelving coasts, to hear
        The shepherd's pipe come clear from aery steep,
        Mingled with ceaseless bleatings of his sheep:
        And never was a day of summer shine,
        But I beheld its birth upon the brine:
        For I would watch all night to see unfold
        Heaven's gates, and Aethon snort his morning gold
        Wide o'er the swelling streams: and constantly
        At brim of day-tide, on some grassy lea,
        My nets would be spread out, and I at rest.
        The poor folk of the sea-country I blest
        With daily boon of fish most delicate:
        They knew not whence this bounty, and elate
        Would strew sweet flowers on a sterile beach.

        "Why was I not contented? Wherefore reach
        At things which, but for thee, O Latmian!
        Had been my dreary death? Fool! I began
        To feel distemper'd longings: to desire
        The utmost privilege that ocean's sire
        Could grant in benediction: to be free
        Of all his kingdom. Long in misery
        I wasted, ere in one extremest fit
        I plung'd for life or death. To interknit
        One's senses with so dense a breathing stuff
        Might seem a work of pain; so not enough
        Can I admire how crystal-smooth it felt,
        And buoyant round my limbs. At first I dwelt
        Whole days and days in sheer astonishment;
        Forgetful utterly of self-intent;
        Moving but with the mighty ebb and flow.
        Then, like a new fledg'd bird that first doth shew
        His spreaded feathers to the morrow chill,
        I tried in fear the pinions of my will.
        'Twas freedom! and at once I visited
        The ceaseless wonders of this ocean-bed.
        No need to tell thee of them, for I see
        That thou hast been a witness--it must be
        For these I know thou canst not feel a drouth,
        By the melancholy corners of that mouth.
        So I will in my story straightway pass
        To more immediate matter. Woe, alas!
        That love should be my bane! Ah, Scylla fair!
        Why did poor Glaucus ever--ever dare
        To sue thee to his heart? Kind stranger-youth!
        I lov'd her to the very white of truth,
        And she would not conceive it. Timid thing!
        She fled me swift as sea-bird on the wing,
        Round every isle, and point, and promontory,
        From where large Hercules wound up his story
        Far as Egyptian Nile. My passion grew
        The more, the more I saw her dainty hue
        Gleam delicately through the azure clear:
        Until 'twas too fierce agony to bear;
        And in that agony, across my grief
        It flash'd, that Circe might find some relief--
        Cruel enchantress! So above the water
        I rear'd my head, and look'd for Phoebus' daughter.
        Aeaea's isle was wondering at the moon:--
        It seem'd to whirl around me, and a swoon
        Left me dead-drifting to that fatal power.

        "When I awoke, 'twas in a twilight bower;
        Just when the light of morn, with hum of bees,
        Stole through its verdurous matting of fresh trees.
        How sweet, and sweeter! for I heard a lyre,
        And over it a sighing voice expire.
        It ceased--I caught light footsteps; and anon
        The fairest face that morn e'er look'd upon
        Push'd through a screen of roses. Starry Jove!
        With tears, and smiles, and honey-words she wove
        A net whose thraldom was more bliss than all
        The range of flower'd Elysium. Thus did fall
        The dew of her rich speech: "Ah! Art awake?
        O let me hear thee speak, for Cupid's sake!
        I am so oppress'd with joy! Why, I have shed
        An urn of tears, as though thou wert cold dead;
        And now I find thee living, I will pour
        From these devoted eyes their silver store,
        Until exhausted of the latest drop,
        So it will pleasure thee, and force thee stop
        Here, that I too may live: but if beyond
        Such cool and sorrowful offerings, thou art fond
        Of soothing warmth, of dalliance supreme;
        If thou art ripe to taste a long love dream;
        If smiles, if dimples, tongues for ardour mute,
        Hang in thy vision like a tempting fruit,
        O let me pluck it for thee." Thus she link'd
        Her charming syllables, till indistinct
        Their music came to my o'er-sweeten'd soul;
        And then she hover'd over me, and stole
        So near, that if no nearer it had been
        This furrow'd visage thou hadst never seen.

        "Young man of Latmos! thus particular
        Am I, that thou may'st plainly see how far
        This fierce temptation went: and thou may'st not
        Exclaim, How then, was Scylla quite forgot?

        "Who could resist? Who in this universe?
        She did so breathe ambrosia; so immerse
        My fine existence in a golden clime.
        She took me like a child of suckling time,
        And cradled me in roses. Thus condemn'd,
        The current of my former life was stemm'd,
        And to this arbitrary queen of sense
        I bow'd a tranced vassal: nor would thence
        Have mov'd, even though Amphion's harp had woo'd
        Me back to Scylla o'er the billows rude.
        For as Apollo each eve doth devise
        A new appareling for western skies;
        So every eve, nay every spendthrift hour
        Shed balmy consciousness within that bower.
        And I was free of haunts umbrageous;
        Could wander in the mazy forest-house
        Of squirrels, foxes shy, and antler'd deer,
        And birds from coverts innermost and drear
        Warbling for very joy mellifluous sorrow--
        To me new born delights!

        "Now let me borrow,
        For moments few, a temperament as stern
        As Pluto's sceptre, that my words not burn
        These uttering lips, while I in calm speech tell
        How specious heaven was changed to real hell.

        "One morn she left me sleeping: half awake
        I sought for her smooth arms and lips, to slake
        My greedy thirst with nectarous camel-draughts;
        But she was gone. Whereat the barbed shafts
        Of disappointment stuck in me so sore,
        That out I ran and search'd the forest o'er.
        Wandering about in pine and cedar gloom
        Damp awe assail'd me; for there 'gan to boom
        A sound of moan, an agony of sound,
        Sepulchral from the distance all around.
        Then came a conquering earth-thunder, and rumbled
        That fierce complain to silence: while I stumbled
        Down a precipitous path, as if impell'd.
        I came to a dark valley.--Groanings swell'd
        Poisonous about my ears, and louder grew,
        The nearer I approach'd a flame's gaunt blue,
        That glar'd before me through a thorny brake.
        This fire, like the eye of gordian snake,
        Bewitch'd me towards; and I soon was near
        A sight too fearful for the feel of fear:
        In thicket hid I curs'd the haggard scene--
        The banquet of my arms, my arbour queen,
        Seated upon an uptorn forest root;
        And all around her shapes, wizard and brute,
        Laughing, and wailing, groveling, serpenting,
        Shewing tooth, tusk, and venom-bag, and sting!
        O such deformities! Old Charon's self,
        Should he give up awhile his penny pelf,
        And take a dream 'mong rushes Stygian,
        It could not be so phantasied. Fierce, wan,
        And tyrannizing was the lady's look,
        As over them a gnarled staff she shook.
        Oft-times upon the sudden she laugh'd out,
        And from a basket emptied to the rout
        Clusters of grapes, the which they raven'd quick
        And roar'd for more; with many a hungry lick
        About their shaggy jaws. Avenging, slow,
        Anon she took a branch of mistletoe,
        And emptied on't a black dull-gurgling phial:
        Groan'd one and all, as if some piercing trial
        Was sharpening for their pitiable bones.
        She lifted up the charm: appealing groans
        From their poor breasts went sueing to her ear
        In vain; remorseless as an infant's bier
        She whisk'd against their eyes the sooty oil.
        Whereat was heard a noise of painful toil,
        Increasing gradual to a tempest rage,
        Shrieks, yells, and groans of torture-pilgrimage;
        Until their grieved bodies 'gan to bloat
        And puff from the tail's end to stifled throat:
        Then was appalling silence: then a sight
        More wildering than all that hoarse affright;
        For the whole herd, as by a whirlwind writhen,
        Went through the dismal air like one huge Python
        Antagonizing Boreas,--and so vanish'd.
        Yet there was not a breath of wind: she banish'd
        These phantoms with a nod. Lo! from the dark
        Came waggish fauns, and nymphs, and satyrs stark,
        With dancing and loud revelry,--and went
        Swifter than centaurs after rapine bent.--
        Sighing an elephant appear'd and bow'd
        Before the fierce witch, speaking thus aloud
        In human accent: "Potent goddess! chief
        Of pains resistless! make my being brief,
        Or let me from this heavy prison fly:
        Or give me to the air, or let me die!
        I sue not for my happy crown again;
        I sue not for my phalanx on the plain;
        I sue not for my lone, my widow'd wife;
        I sue not for my ruddy drops of life,
        My children fair, my lovely girls and boys!
        I will forget them; I will pass these joys;
        Ask nought so heavenward, so too--too high:
        Only I pray, as fairest boon, to die,
        Or be deliver'd from this cumbrous flesh,
        From this gross, detestable, filthy mesh,
        And merely given to the cold bleak air.
        Have mercy, Goddess! Circe, feel my prayer!"

        That curst magician's name fell icy numb
        Upon my wild conjecturing: truth had come
        Naked and sabre-like against my heart.
        I saw a fury whetting a death-dart;
        And my slain spirit, overwrought with fright,
        Fainted away in that dark lair of night.
        Think, my deliverer, how desolate
        My waking must have been! disgust, and hate,
        And terrors manifold divided me
        A spoil amongst them. I prepar'd to flee
        Into the dungeon core of that wild wood:
        I fled three days--when lo! before me stood
        Glaring the angry witch. O Dis, even now,
        A clammy dew is beading on my brow,
        At mere remembering her pale laugh, and curse.
        "Ha! ha! Sir Dainty! there must be a nurse
        Made of rose leaves and thistledown, express,
        To cradle thee my sweet, and lull thee: yes,
        I am too flinty-hard for thy nice touch:
        My tenderest squeeze is but a giant's clutch.
        So, fairy-thing, it shall have lullabies
        Unheard of yet; and it shall still its cries
        Upon some breast more lily-feminine.
        Oh, no--it shall not pine, and pine, and pine
        More than one pretty, trifling thousand years;
        And then 'twere pity, but fate's gentle shears
        Cut short its immortality. Sea-flirt!
        Young dove of the waters! truly I'll not hurt
        One hair of thine: see how I weep and sigh,
        That our heart-broken parting is so nigh.
        And must we part? Ah, yes, it must be so.
        Yet ere thou leavest me in utter woe,
        Let me sob over thee my last adieus,
        And speak a blessing: Mark me! thou hast thews
        Immortal, for thou art of heavenly race:
        But such a love is mine, that here I chase
        Eternally away from thee all bloom
        Of youth, and destine thee towards a tomb.
        Hence shalt thou quickly to the watery vast;
        And there, ere many days be overpast,
        Disabled age shall seize thee; and even then
        Thou shalt not go the way of aged men;
        But live and wither, cripple and still breathe
        Ten hundred years: which gone, I then bequeath
        Thy fragile bones to unknown burial.
        Adieu, sweet love, adieu!"--As shot stars fall,
        She fled ere I could groan for mercy. Stung
        And poisoned was my spirit: despair sung
        A war-song of defiance 'gainst all hell.
        A hand was at my shoulder to compel
        My sullen steps; another 'fore my eyes
        Moved on with pointed finger. In this guise
        Enforced, at the last by ocean's foam
        I found me; by my fresh, my native home.
        Its tempering coolness, to my life akin,
        Came salutary as I waded in;
        And, with a blind voluptuous rage, I gave
        Battle to the swollen billow-ridge, and drave
        Large froth before me, while there yet remain'd
        Hale strength, nor from my bones all marrow drain'd.

        "Young lover, I must weep--such hellish spite
        With dry cheek who can tell? While thus my might
        Proving upon this element, dismay'd,
        Upon a dead thing's face my hand I laid;
        I look'd--'twas Scylla! Cursed, cursed Circe!
        O vulture-witch, hast never heard of mercy?
        Could not thy harshest vengeance be content,
        But thou must nip this tender innocent
        Because I lov'd her?--Cold, O cold indeed
        Were her fair limbs, and like a common weed
        The sea-swell took her hair. Dead as she was
        I clung about her waist, nor ceas'd to pass
        Fleet as an arrow through unfathom'd brine,
        Until there shone a fabric crystalline,
        Ribb'd and inlaid with coral, pebble, and pearl.
        Headlong I darted; at one eager swirl
        Gain'd its bright portal, enter'd, and behold!
        'Twas vast, and desolate, and icy-cold;
        And all around--But wherefore this to thee
        Who in few minutes more thyself shalt see?--
        I left poor Scylla in a niche and fled.
        My fever'd parchings up, my scathing dread
        Met palsy half way: soon these limbs became
        Gaunt, wither'd, sapless, feeble, cramp'd, and lame.

        "Now let me pass a cruel, cruel space,
        Without one hope, without one faintest trace
        Of mitigation, or redeeming bubble
        Of colour'd phantasy; for I fear 'twould trouble
        Thy brain to loss of reason: and next tell
        How a restoring chance came down to quell
        One half of the witch in me. On a day,
        Sitting upon a rock above the spray,
        I saw grow up from the horizon's brink
        A gallant vessel: soon she seem'd to sink
        Away from me again, as though her course
        Had been resum'd in spite of hindering force--
        So vanish'd: and not long, before arose
        Dark clouds, and muttering of winds morose.
        Old Eolus would stifle his mad spleen,
        But could not: therefore all the billows green
        Toss'd up the silver spume against the clouds.
        The tempest came: I saw that vessel's shrouds
        In perilous bustle; while upon the deck
        Stood trembling creatures. I beheld the wreck;
        The final gulphing; the poor struggling souls:
        I heard their cries amid loud thunder-rolls.
        O they had all been sav'd but crazed eld
        Annull'd my vigorous cravings: and thus quell'd
        And curb'd, think on't, O Latmian! did I sit
        Writhing with pity, and a cursing fit
        Against that hell-born Circe. The crew had gone,
        By one and one, to pale oblivion;
        And I was gazing on the surges prone,
        With many a scalding tear and many a groan,
        When at my feet emerg'd an old man's hand,
        Grasping this scroll, and this same slender wand.
        I knelt with pain--reached out my hand--had grasp'd
        These treasures--touch'd the knuckles--they unclasp'd--
        I caught a finger: but the downward weight
        O'erpowered me--it sank. Then 'gan abate
        The storm, and through chill aguish gloom outburst
        The comfortable sun. I was athirst
        To search the book, and in the warming air
        Parted its dripping leaves with eager care.
        Strange matters did it treat of, and drew on
        My soul page after page, till well-nigh won
        Into forgetfulness; when, stupefied,
        I read these words, and read again, and tried
        My eyes against the heavens, and read again.
        O what a load of misery and pain
        Each Atlas-line bore off!--a shine of hope
        Came gold around me, cheering me to cope
        Strenuous with hellish tyranny. Attend!
        For thou hast brought their promise to an end.

        "In the wide sea there lives a forlorn wretch,
        Doom'd with enfeebled carcase to outstretch
        His loath'd existence through ten centuries,
        And then to die alone. Who can devise
        A total opposition? No one. So
        One million times ocean must ebb and flow,
        And he oppressed. Yet he shall not die,
        These things accomplish'd:--If he utterly
        Scans all the depths of magic, and expounds
        The meanings of all motions, shapes, and sounds;
        If he explores all forms and substances
        Straight homeward to their symbol-essences;
        He shall not die. Moreover, and in chief,
        He must pursue this task of joy and grief
        Most piously;--all lovers tempest-tost,
        And in the savage overwhelming lost,
        He shall deposit side by side, until
        Time's creeping shall the dreary space fulfil:
        Which done, and all these labours ripened,
        A youth, by heavenly power lov'd and led,
        Shall stand before him; whom he shall direct
        How to consummate all. The youth elect
        Must do the thing, or both will be destroy'd."--

        "Then," cried the young Endymion, overjoy'd,
        "We are twin brothers in this destiny!
        Say, I intreat thee, what achievement high
        Is, in this restless world, for me reserv'd.
        What! if from thee my wandering feet had swerv'd,
        Had we both perish'd?"--"Look!" the sage replied,
        "Dost thou not mark a gleaming through the tide,
        Of divers brilliances? 'tis the edifice
        I told thee of, where lovely Scylla lies;
        And where I have enshrined piously
        All lovers, whom fell storms have doom'd to die
        Throughout my bondage." Thus discoursing, on
        They went till unobscur'd the porches shone;
        Which hurryingly they gain'd, and enter'd straight.
        Sure never since king Neptune held his state
        Was seen such wonder underneath the stars.
        Turn to some level plain where haughty Mars
        Has legion'd all his battle; and behold
        How every soldier, with firm foot, doth hold
        His even breast: see, many steeled squares,
        And rigid ranks of iron--whence who dares
        One step? Imagine further, line by line,
        These warrior thousands on the field supine:--
        So in that crystal place, in silent rows,
        Poor lovers lay at rest from joys and woes.--
        The stranger from the mountains, breathless, trac'd
        Such thousands of shut eyes in order plac'd;
        Such ranges of white feet, and patient lips
        All ruddy,--for here death no blossom nips.
        He mark'd their brows and foreheads; saw their hair
        Put sleekly on one side with nicest care;
        And each one's gentle wrists, with reverence,
        Put cross-wise to its heart.

        "Let us commence,
        Whisper'd the guide, stuttering with joy, even now."
        He spake, and, trembling like an aspen-bough,
        Began to tear his scroll in pieces small,
        Uttering the while some mumblings funeral.
        He tore it into pieces small as snow
        That drifts unfeather'd when bleak northerns blow;
        And having done it, took his dark blue cloak
        And bound it round Endymion: then struck
        His wand against the empty air times nine.--
        "What more there is to do, young man, is thine:
        But first a little patience; first undo
        This tangled thread, and wind it to a clue.
        Ah, gentle! 'tis as weak as spider's skein;
        And shouldst thou break it--What, is it done so clean?
        A power overshadows thee! Oh, brave!
        The spite of hell is tumbling to its grave.
        Here is a shell; 'tis pearly blank to me,
        Nor mark'd with any sign or charactery--
        Canst thou read aught? O read for pity's sake!
        Olympus! we are safe! Now, Carian, break
        This wand against yon lyre on the pedestal."

        'Twas done: and straight with sudden swell and fall
        Sweet music breath'd her soul away, and sigh'd
        A lullaby to silence.--"Youth! now strew
        These minced leaves on me, and passing through
        Those files of dead, scatter the same around,
        And thou wilt see the issue."--'Mid the sound
        Of flutes and viols, ravishing his heart,
        Endymion from Glaucus stood apart,
        And scatter'd in his face some fragments light.
        How lightning-swift the change! a youthful wight
        Smiling beneath a coral diadem,
        Out-sparkling sudden like an upturn'd gem,
        Appear'd, and, stepping to a beauteous corse,
        Kneel'd down beside it, and with tenderest force
        Press'd its cold hand, and wept--and Scylla sigh'd!
        Endymion, with quick hand, the charm applied--
        The nymph arose: he left them to their joy,
        And onward went upon his high employ,
        Showering those powerful fragments on the dead.
        And, as he pass'd, each lifted up its head,
        As doth a flower at Apollo's touch.
        Death felt it to his inwards; 'twas too much:
        Death fell a weeping in his charnel-house.
        The Latmian persever'd along, and thus
        All were re-animated. There arose
        A noise of harmony, pulses and throes
        Of gladness in the air--while many, who
        Had died in mutual arms devout and true,
        Sprang to each other madly; and the rest
        Felt a high certainty of being blest.
        They gaz'd upon Endymion. Enchantment
        Grew drunken, and would have its head and bent.
        Delicious symphonies, like airy flowers,
        Budded, and swell'd, and, full-blown, shed full showers
        Of light, soft, unseen leaves of sounds divine.
        The two deliverers tasted a pure wine
        Of happiness, from fairy-press ooz'd out.
        Speechless they eyed each other, and about
        The fair assembly wander'd to and fro,
        Distracted with the richest overflow
        Of joy that ever pour'd from heaven.

        ----"Away!"
        Shouted the new-born god; "Follow, and pay
        Our piety to Neptunus supreme!"--
        Then Scylla, blushing sweetly from her dream,
        They led on first, bent to her meek surprise,
        Through portal columns of a giant size,
        Into the vaulted, boundless emerald.
        Joyous all follow'd, as the leader call'd,
        Down marble steps; pouring as easily
        As hour-glass sand--and fast, as you might see
        Swallows obeying the south summer's call,
        Or swans upon a gentle waterfall.

        Thus went that beautiful multitude, nor far,
        Ere from among some rocks of glittering spar,
        Just within ken, they saw descending thick
        Another multitude. Whereat more quick
        Moved either host. On a wide sand they met,
        And of those numbers every eye was wet;
        For each their old love found. A murmuring rose,
        Like what was never heard in all the throes
        Of wind and waters: 'tis past human wit
        To tell; 'tis dizziness to think of it.

        This mighty consummation made, the host
        Mov'd on for many a league; and gain'd, and lost
        Huge sea-marks; vanward swelling in array,
        And from the rear diminishing away,--
        Till a faint dawn surpris'd them. Glaucus cried,
        "Behold! behold, the palace of his pride!
        God Neptune's palaces!" With noise increas'd,
        They shoulder'd on towards that brightening east.
        At every onward step proud domes arose
        In prospect,--diamond gleams, and golden glows
        Of amber 'gainst their faces levelling.
        Joyous, and many as the leaves in spring,
        Still onward; still the splendour gradual swell'd.
        Rich opal domes were seen, on high upheld
        By jasper pillars, letting through their shafts
        A blush of coral. Copious wonder-draughts
        Each gazer drank; and deeper drank more near:
        For what poor mortals fragment up, as mere
        As marble was there lavish, to the vast
        Of one fair palace, that far far surpass'd,
        Even for common bulk, those olden three,
        Memphis, and Babylon, and Nineveh.

        As large, as bright, as colour'd as the bow
        Of Iris, when unfading it doth shew
        Beyond a silvery shower, was the arch
        Through which this Paphian army took its march,
        Into the outer courts of Neptune's state:
        Whence could be seen, direct, a golden gate,
        To which the leaders sped; but not half raught
        Ere it burst open swift as fairy thought,
        And made those dazzled thousands veil their eyes
        Like callow eagles at the first sunrise.
        Soon with an eagle nativeness their gaze
        Ripe from hue-golden swoons took all the blaze,
        And then, behold! large Neptune on his throne
        Of emerald deep: yet not exalt alone;
        At his right hand stood winged Love, and on
        His left sat smiling Beauty's paragon.

        Far as the mariner on highest mast
        Can see all round upon the calmed vast,
        So wide was Neptune's hall: and as the blue
        Doth vault the waters, so the waters drew
        Their doming curtains, high, magnificent,
        Aw'd from the throne aloof;--and when storm-rent
        Disclos'd the thunder-gloomings in Jove's air;
        But sooth'd as now, flash'd sudden everywhere,
        Noiseless, sub-marine cloudlets, glittering
        Death to a human eye: for there did spring
        From natural west, and east, and south, and north,
        A light as of four sunsets, blazing forth
        A gold-green zenith 'bove the Sea-God's head.
        Of lucid depth the floor, and far outspread
        As breezeless lake, on which the slim canoe
        Of feather'd Indian darts about, as through
        The delicatest air: air verily,
        But for the portraiture of clouds and sky:
        This palace floor breath-air,--but for the amaze
        Of deep-seen wonders motionless,--and blaze
        Of the dome pomp, reflected in extremes,
        Globing a golden sphere.

        They stood in dreams
        Till Triton blew his horn. The palace rang;
        The Nereids danc'd; the Syrens faintly sang;
        And the great Sea-King bow'd his dripping head.
        Then Love took wing, and from his pinions shed
        On all the multitude a nectarous dew.
        The ooze-born Goddess beckoned and drew
        Fair Scylla and her guides to conference;
        And when they reach'd the throned eminence
        She kist the sea-nymph's cheek,--who sat her down
        A toying with the doves. Then,--"Mighty crown
        And sceptre of this kingdom!" Venus said,
        "Thy vows were on a time to Nais paid:
        Behold!"--Two copious tear-drops instant fell
        From the God's large eyes; he smil'd delectable,
        And over Glaucus held his blessing hands.--
        "Endymion! Ah! still wandering in the bands
        Of love? Now this is cruel. Since the hour
        I met thee in earth's bosom, all my power
        Have I put forth to serve thee. What, not yet
        Escap'd from dull mortality's harsh net?
        A little patience, youth! 'twill not be long,
        Or I am skilless quite: an idle tongue,
        A humid eye, and steps luxurious,
        Where these are new and strange, are ominous.
        Aye, I have seen these signs in one of heaven,
        When others were all blind; and were I given
        To utter secrets, haply I might say
        Some pleasant words:--but Love will have his day.
        So wait awhile expectant. Pr'ythee soon,
        Even in the passing of thine honey-moon,
        Visit my Cytherea: thou wilt find
        Cupid well-natured, my Adonis kind;
        And pray persuade with thee--Ah, I have done,
        All blisses be upon thee, my sweet son!"--
        Thus the fair goddess: while Endymion
        Knelt to receive those accents halcyon.

        Meantime a glorious revelry began
        Before the Water-Monarch. Nectar ran
        In courteous fountains to all cups outreach'd;
        And plunder'd vines, teeming exhaustless, pleach'd
        New growth about each shell and pendent lyre;
        The which, in disentangling for their fire,
        Pull'd down fresh foliage and coverture
        For dainty toying. Cupid, empire-sure,
        Flutter'd and laugh'd, and oft-times through the throng
        Made a delighted way. Then dance, and song,
        And garlanding grew wild; and pleasure reign'd.
        In harmless tendril they each other chain'd,
        And strove who should be smother'd deepest in
        Fresh crush of leaves.

        O 'tis a very sin
        For one so weak to venture his poor verse
        In such a place as this. O do not curse,
        High Muses! let him hurry to the ending.

        All suddenly were silent. A soft blending
        Of dulcet instruments came charmingly;
        And then a hymn.

        "KING of the stormy sea!
        Brother of Jove, and co-inheritor
        Of elements! Eternally before
        Thee the waves awful bow. Fast, stubborn rock,
        At thy fear'd trident shrinking, doth unlock
        Its deep foundations, hissing into foam.
        All mountain-rivers lost, in the wide home
        Of thy capacious bosom ever flow.
        Thou frownest, and old Eolus thy foe
        Skulks to his cavern, 'mid the gruff complaint
        Of all his rebel tempests. Dark clouds faint
        When, from thy diadem, a silver gleam
        Slants over blue dominion. Thy bright team
        Gulphs in the morning light, and scuds along
        To bring thee nearer to that golden song
        Apollo singeth, while his chariot
        Waits at the doors of heaven. Thou art not
        For scenes like this: an empire stern hast thou;
        And it hath furrow'd that large front: yet now,
        As newly come of heaven, dost thou sit
        To blend and interknit
        Subdued majesty with this glad time.
        O shell-borne King sublime!
        We lay our hearts before thee evermore--
        We sing, and we adore!

        "Breathe softly, flutes;
        Be tender of your strings, ye soothing lutes;
        Nor be the trumpet heard! O vain, O vain;
        Not flowers budding in an April rain,
        Nor breath of sleeping dove, nor river's flow,--
        No, nor the Eolian twang of Love's own bow,
        Can mingle music fit for the soft ear
        Of goddess Cytherea!
        Yet deign, white Queen of Beauty, thy fair eyes
        On our souls' sacrifice.

        "Bright-winged Child!
        Who has another care when thou hast smil'd?
        Unfortunates on earth, we see at last
        All death-shadows, and glooms that overcast
        Our spirits, fann'd away by thy light pinions.
        O sweetest essence! sweetest of all minions!
        God of warm pulses, and dishevell'd hair,
        And panting bosoms bare!
        Dear unseen light in darkness! eclipser
        Of light in light! delicious poisoner!
        Thy venom'd goblet will we quaff until
        We fill--we fill!
        And by thy Mother's lips----"


        Was heard no more
        For clamour, when the golden palace door
        Opened again, and from without, in shone
        A new magnificence. On oozy throne
        Smooth-moving came Oceanus the old,
        To take a latest glimpse at his sheep-fold,
        Before he went into his quiet cave
        To muse for ever--Then a lucid wave,
        Scoop'd from its trembling sisters of mid-sea,
        Afloat, and pillowing up the majesty
        Of Doris, and the Egean seer, her spouse--
        Next, on a dolphin, clad in laurel boughs,
        Theban Amphion leaning on his lute:
        His fingers went across it--All were mute
        To gaze on Amphitrite, queen of pearls,
        And Thetis pearly too.--

        The palace whirls
        Around giddy Endymion; seeing he
        Was there far strayed from mortality.
        He could not bear it--shut his eyes in vain;
        Imagination gave a dizzier pain.
        "O I shall die! sweet Venus, be my stay!
        Where is my lovely mistress? Well-away!
        I die--I hear her voice--I feel my wing--"
        At Neptune's feet he sank. A sudden ring
        Of Nereids were about him, in kind strife
        To usher back his spirit into life:
        But still he slept. At last they interwove
        Their cradling arms, and purpos'd to convey
        Towards a crystal bower far away.

        Lo! while slow carried through the pitying crowd,
        To his inward senses these words spake aloud;
        Written in star-light on the dark above:
        Dearest Endymion! my entire love!
        How have I dwelt in fear of fate: 'tis done--
        Immortal bliss for me too hast thou won.
        Arise then! for the hen-dove shall not hatch
        Her ready eggs, before I'll kissing snatch
        Thee into endless heaven. Awake! awake!

        The youth at once arose: a placid lake
        Came quiet to his eyes; and forest green,
        Cooler than all the wonders he had seen,
        Lull'd with its simple song his fluttering breast.
        How happy once again in grassy nest!
      Up

      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.
      Up

      Endymion. Song Of The Indian Maid
        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 siren 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 chestnuts 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 Ind 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.
      Up

      Epistle To My Brother George
        Full many a dreary hour have I past,
        My brain bewildered, and my mind o'ercast
        With heaviness; in seasons when I've thought
        No spherey strains by me could e'er be caught
        From the blue dome, though I to dimness gaze
        On the far depth where sheeted lightning plays;
        Or, on the wavy grass outstretched supinely,
        Pry 'mong the stars, to strive to think divinely:
        That I should never hear Apollo's song,
        Though feathery clouds were floating all along
        The purple west, and, two bright streaks between,
        The golden lyre itself were dimly seen:
        That the still murmur of the honey bee
        Would never teach a rural song to me:
        That the bright glance from beauty's eyelids slanting
        Would never make a lay of mine enchanting,
        Or warm my breast with ardour to unfold
        Some tale of love and arms in time of old.

        But there are times, when those that love the bay,
        Fly from all sorrowing far, far away;
        A sudden glow comes on them, nought they see
        In water, earth, or air, but poesy.
        It has been said, dear George, and true I hold it,
        (For knightly Spenser to Libertas told it,)
        That when a Poet is in such a trance,
        In air her sees white coursers paw, and prance,
        Bestridden of gay knights, in gay apparel,
        Who at each other tilt in playful quarrel,
        And what we, ignorantly, sheet-lightning call,
        Is the swift opening of their wide portal,
        When the bright warder blows his trumpet clear,
        Whose tones reach nought on earth but Poet's ear.
        When these enchanted portals open wide,
        And through the light the horsemen swiftly glide,
        The Poet's eye can reach those golden halls,
        And view the glory of their festivals:
        Their ladies fair, that in the distance seem
        Fit for the silv'ring of a seraph's dream;
        Their rich brimmed goblets, that incessant run
        Like the bright spots that move about the sun;
        And, when upheld, the wine from each bright jar
        Pours with the lustre of a falling star.
        Yet further off, are dimly seen their bowers,
        Of which, no mortal eye can reach the flowers;
        And 'tis right just, for well Apollo knows
        'Twould make the Poet quarrel with the rose.
        All that's revealed from that far seat of blisses
        Is the clear fountains' interchanging kisses,
        As gracefully descending, light and thin,
        Like silver streaks across a dolphin's fin,
        When he upswimmeth from the coral caves,
        And sports with half his tail above the waves.

        These wonders strange he sees, and many more,
        Whose head is pregnant with poetic lore.
        Should he upon an evening ramble fare
        With forehead to the soothing breezes bare,
        Would he nought see but the dark, silent blue
        With all its diamonds trembling through and through?
        Or the coy moon, when in the waviness
        Of whitest clouds she does her beauty dress,
        And staidly paces higher up, and higher,
        Like a sweet nun in holy-day attire?
        Ah, yes! much more would start into his sight—
        The revelries and mysteries of night:
        And should I ever see them, I will tell you
        Such tales as needs must with amazement spell you.

        These are the living pleasures of the bard:
        But richer far posterity's reward.
        What does he murmur with his latest breath,
        While his proud eye looks though the film of death?
        "What though I leave this dull and earthly mould,
        Yet shall my spirit lofty converse hold
        With after times.—The patriot shall feel
        My stern alarum, and unsheath his steel;
        Or, in the senate thunder out my numbers
        To startle princes from their easy slumbers.
        The sage will mingle with each moral theme
        My happy thoughts sententious; he will teem
        With lofty periods when my verses fire him,
        And then I'll stoop from heaven to inspire him.
        Lays have I left of such a dear delight
        That maids will sing them on their bridal night.
        Gay villagers, upon a morn of May,
        When they have tired their gentle limbs with play
        And formed a snowy circle on the grass,
        And placed in midst of all that lovely lass
        Who chosen is their queen,—with her fine head
        Crowned with flowers purple, white, and red:
        For there the lily, and the musk-rose, sighing,
        Are emblems true of hapless lovers dying:
        Between her breasts, that never yet felt trouble,
        A bunch of violets full blown, and double,
        Serenely sleep:—she from a casket takes
        A little book,—and then a joy awakes
        About each youthful heart,—with stifled cries,
        And rubbing of white hands, and sparkling eyes:
        For she's to read a tale of hopes, and fears;
        One that I fostered in my youthful years:
        The pearls, that on each glist'ning circlet sleep,
        Must ever and anon with silent creep,
        Lured by the innocent dimples. To sweet rest
        Shall the dear babe, upon its mother's breast,
        Be lulled with songs of mine. Fair world, adieu!
        Thy dales, and hills, are fading from my view:
        Swiftly I mount, upon wide spreading pinions,
        Far from the narrow bound of thy dominions.
        Full joy I feel, while thus I cleave the air,
        That my soft verse will charm thy daughters fair,
        And warm thy sons!" Ah, my dear friend and brother,
        Could I, at once, my mad ambition smother,
        For tasting joys like these, sure I should be
        Happier, and dearer to society.
        At times, 'tis true, I've felt relief from pain
        When some bright thought has darted through my brain:
        Through all that day I've felt a greater pleasure
        Than if I'd brought to light a hidden treasure.
        As to my sonnets, though none else should heed them,
        I feel delighted, still, that you should read them.
        Of late, too, I have had much calm enjoyment,
        Stretched on the grass at my best loved employment
        Of scribbling lines for you. These things I thought
        While, in my face, the freshest breeze I caught.
        E'en now I'm pillowed on a bed of flowers
        That crowns a lofty clift, which proudly towers
        Above the ocean-waves, The stalks, and blades,
        Chequer my tablet with their quivering shades.
        On one side is a field of drooping oats,
        Through which the poppies show their scarlet coats;
        So pert and useless, that they bring to mind
        The scarlet coats that pester human-kind.
        And on the other side, outspread, is seen
        Ocean's blue mantle streaked with purple, and green.
        Now 'tis I see a canvassed ship, and now
        Mark the bright silver curling round her prow.
        I see the lark dowm-dropping to his nest,
        And the broad winged sea-gull never at rest;
        For when no more he spreads his feathers free,
        His breast is dancing on the restless sea.
        Now I direct my eyes into the west,
        Which at this moment is in sunbeams drest:
        Why westward turn? 'Twas but to say adieu!
        'Twas but to kiss my hand, dear George, to you!
      Up

      Fancy
        Ever let the Fancy roam,
        Pleasure never is at home:
        At a touch sweet Pleasure melteth,
        Like to bubbles when rain pelteth;
        Then let winged Fancy wander
        Through the thought still spread beyond her:
        Open wide the mind's cage-door,
        She'll dart forth, and cloudward soar.
        O sweet Fancy! let her loose;
        Summer's joys are spoilt by use,
        And the enjoying of the Spring
        Fades as does its blossoming;
        Autumn's red-lipp'd fruitage too,
        Blushing through the mist and dew,
        Cloys with tasting: What do then?
        Sit thee by the ingle, when
        The sear faggot blazes bright,
        Spirit of a winter's night;
        When the soundless earth is muffled,
        And the caked snow is shuffled
        From the ploughboy's heavy shoon;
        When the Night doth meet the Noon
        In a dark conspiracy
        To banish Even from her sky.
        Sit thee there, and send abroad,
        With a mind self-overaw'd,
        Fancy, high-commission'd:--send her!
        She has vassals to attend her:
        She will bring, in spite of frost,
        Beauties that the earth hath lost;
        She will bring thee, all together,
        All delights of summer weather;
        All the buds and bells of May,
        From dewy sward or thorny spray;
        All the heaped Autumn's wealth,
        With a still, mysterious stealth:
        She will mix these pleasures up
        Like three fit wines in a cup,
        And thou shalt quaff it:--thou shalt hear
        Distant harvest-carols clear;
        Rustle of the reaped corn;
        Sweet birds antheming the morn:
        And, in the same moment, hark!
        'Tis the early April lark,
        Or the rooks, with busy caw,
        Foraging for sticks and straw.
        Thou shalt, at one glance, behold
        The daisy and the marigold;
        White-plum'd lillies, and the first
        Hedge-grown primrose that hath burst;
        Shaded hyacinth, alway
        Sapphire queen of the mid-May;
        And every leaf, and every flower
        Pearled with the self-same shower.
        Thou shalt see the field-mouse peep
        Meagre from its celled sleep;
        And the snake all winter-thin
        Cast on sunny bank its skin;
        Freckled nest-eggs thou shalt see
        Hatching in the hawthorn-tree,
        When the hen-bird's wing doth rest
        Quiet on her mossy nest;
        Then the hurry and alarm
        When the bee-hive casts its swarm;
        Acorns ripe down-pattering,
        While the autumn breezes sing.

        Oh, sweet Fancy! let her loose;
        Every thing is spoilt by use:
        Where's the cheek that doth not fade,
        Too much gaz'd at? Where's the maid
        Whose lip mature is ever new?
        Where's the eye, however blue,
        Doth not weary? Where's the face
        One would meet in every place?
        Where's the voice, however soft,
        One would hear so very oft?
        At a touch sweet Pleasure melteth
        Like to bubbles when rain pelteth.
        Let, then, winged Fancy find
        Thee a mistress to thy mind:
        Dulcet-ey'd as Ceres' daughter,
        Ere the God of Torment taught her
        How to frown and how to chide;
        With a waist and with a side
        White as Hebe's, when her zone
        Slipt its golden clasp, and down
        Fell her kirtle to her feet,
        While she held the goblet sweet
        And Jove grew languid.--Break the mesh
        Of the Fancy's silken leash;
        Quickly break her prison-string
        And such joys as these she'll bring.--
        Let the winged Fancy roam,
        Pleasure never is at home.
      Up

      Fill For Me A Brimming Bowl
        Fill for me a brimming bowl
        And in it let me drown my soul:
        But put therein some drug, designed
        To Banish Women from my mind:
        For I want not the stream inspiring
        That fills the mind with--fond desiring,
        But I want as deep a draught
        As e'er from Lethe's wave was quaff'd;
        From my despairing heart to charm
        The Image of the fairest form
        That e'er my reveling eyes beheld,
        That e'er my wandering fancy spell'd.
        In vain! away I cannot chace
        The melting softness of that face,
        The beaminess of those bright eyes,
        That breast--earth's only Paradise.
        My sight will never more be blest;
        For all I see has lost its zest:
        Nor with delight can I explore,
        The Classic page, or Muse's lore.
        Had she but known how beat my heart,
        And with one smile reliev'd its smart
        I should have felt a sweet relief,
        I should have felt ``the joy of grief.''
        Yet as the Tuscan mid the snow
        Of Lapland dreams on sweet Arno,
        Even so for ever shall she be
        The Halo of my Memory.
      Up

      Give Me Women, Wine, And Snuff
        Give me women, wine, and snuff
        Untill I cry out "hold, enough!"
        You may do so sans objection
        Till the day of resurrection:
        For, bless my beard, they aye shall be
        My beloved Trinity.
      Up

      Happy Is England! I Could Be Content
        Happy is England! I could be content
        To see no other verdure than its own;
        To feel no other breezes than are blown
        Through its tall woods with high romances blent;
        Yet do I sometimes feel a languishment
        For skies Italian, and an inward groan
        To sit upon an Alp as on a throne,
        And half forget what world or worldling meant.
        Happy is England, sweet her artless daughters;
        Enough their simple loveliness for me,
        Enough their whitest arms in silence clinging;
        Yet do I often warmly burn to see
        Beauties of deeper glance, and hear their singing,
        And float with them about the summer waters.
      Up

      Hither, Hither, Love
        Hither hither, love---
        'Tis a shady mead---
        Hither, hither, love!
        Let us feed and feed!

        Hither, hither, sweet---
        'Tis a cowslip bed---
        Hither, hither, sweet!
        'Tis with dew bespread!

        Hither, hither, dear
        By the breath of life,
        Hither, hither, dear!---
        Be the summer's wife!

        Though one moment's pleasure
        In one moment flies---
        Though the passion's treasure
        In one moment dies;---

        Yet it has not passed---
        Think how near, how near!---
        And while it doth last,
        Think how dear, how dear!

        Hither, hither, hither
        Love its boon has sent---
        If I die and wither
        I shall die content!
      Up

      .How Many Bards Gild The Lapses Of Time!
        How many bards gild the lapses of time!
        A few of them have ever been the food
        Of my delighted fancy,—I could brood
        Over their beauties, earthly, or sublime:
        And often, when I sit me down to rhyme,
        These will in throngs before my mind intrude:
        But no confusion, no disturbance rude
        Do they occasion; 'tis a pleasing chime.
        So the unnumbered sounds that evening store;
        The songs of birds—the whispering of the leaves—
        The voice of waters—the great bell that heaves
        With solemn sound,—and thousand others more,
        That distance of recognizance bereaves,
        Makes pleasing music, and not wild uproar.
      Up

      Hymn To Apollo
        God of the golden bow,
        And of the golden lyre,
        And of the golden hair,
        And of the golden fire,
        Charioteer
        Of the patient year,
        Where---where slept thine ire,
        When like a blank idiot I put on thy wreath,
        Thy laurel, thy glory,
        The light of thy story,
        Or was I a worm---too low crawling for death?
        O Delphic Apollo!

        The Thunderer grasp'd and grasp'd,
        The Thunderer frown'd and frown'd;
        The eagle's feathery mane
        For wrath became stiffen'd---the sound
        Of breeding thunder
        Went drowsily under,
        Muttering to be unbound.
        O why didst thou pity, and beg for a worm?
        Why touch thy soft lute
        Till the thunder was mute,
        Why was I not crush'd---such a pitiful germ?
        O Delphic Apollo!

        The Pleiades were up,
        Watching the silent air;
        The seeds and roots in Earth
        Were swelling for summer fare;
        The Ocean, its neighbour,
        Was at his old labour,
        When, who---who did dare
        To tie for a moment, thy plant round his brow,
        And grin and look proudly,
        And blaspheme so loudly,
        And live for that honour, to stoop to thee now?
        O Delphic Apollo!
      Up

      If By Dull Rhymes Our English Must Be Chain'd
        If by dull rhymes our English must be chain'd,
        And, like Andromeda, the Sonnet sweet
        Fetter'd, in spite of pained loveliness;
        Let us find out, if we must be constrain'd,
        Sandals more interwoven and complete
        To fit the naked foot of poesy;
        Let us inspect the lyre, and weigh the stress
        Of every chord, and see what may be gain'd
        By ear industrious, and attention meet:
        Misers of sound and syllable, no less
        Than Midas of his coinage, let us be
        Jealous of dead leaves in the bay wreath crown;
        So, if we may not let the Muse be free,
        She will be bound with garlands of her own.
      Up

      In Drear-Nighted December
        In drear-nighted December,
        Too happy, happy tree,
        Thy branches ne'er remember
        Their green felicity:
        The north cannot undo them
        With a sleety whistle through them;
        Nor frozen thawings glue them
        From budding at the prime.

        In drear-nighted December,
        Too happy, happy brook,
        Thy bubblings ne'er remember
        Apollo's summer look;
        But with a sweet forgetting,
        They stay their crystal fretting,
        Never, never petting
        About the frozen time.

        Ah! would 'twere so with many
        A gentle girl and boy!
        But were there ever any
        Writhed not at passed joy?
        The feel of not to feel it,
        When there is none to heal it
        Nor numbed sense to steel it,
        Was never said in rhyme.
      Up

      Isabella Or The Pot Of Basil
        I.
        Fair Isabel, poor simple Isabel!
        Lorenzo, a young palmer in Love's eye!
        They could not in the self-same mansion dwell
        Without some stir of heart, some malady;
        They could not sit at meals but feel how well
        It soothed each to be the other by;
        They could not, sure, beneath the same roof sleep
        But to each other dream, and nightly weep.

        II.
        With every morn their love grew tenderer,
        With every eve deeper and tenderer still;
        He might not in house, field, or garden stir,
        But her full shape would all his seeing fill;
        And his continual voice was pleasanter
        To her, than noise of trees or hidden rill;
        Her lute-string gave an echo of his name,
        She spoilt her half-done broidery with the same.

        III.
        He knew whose gentle hand was at the latch,
        Before the door had given her to his eyes;
        And from her chamber-window he would catch
        Her beauty farther than the falcon spies;
        And constant as her vespers would he watch,
        Because her face was turn'd to the same skies;
        And with sick longing all the night outwear,
        To hear her morning-step upon the stair.

        IV.
        A whole long month of May in this sad plight
        Made their cheeks paler by the break of June:
        "To morrow will I bow to my delight,
        "To-morrow will I ask my lady's boon."--
        "O may I never see another night,
        "Lorenzo, if thy lips breathe not love's tune."--
        So spake they to their pillows; but, alas,
        Honeyless days and days did he let pass;

        V.
        Until sweet Isabella's untouch'd cheek
        Fell sick within the rose's just domain,
        Fell thin as a young mother's, who doth seek
        By every lull to cool her infant's pain:
        "How ill she is," said he, "I may not speak,
        "And yet I will, and tell my love all plain:
        "If looks speak love-laws, I will drink her tears,
        "And at the least 'twill startle off her cares."

        VI.
        So said he one fair morning, and all day
        His heart beat awfully against his side;
        And to his heart he inwardly did pray
        For power to speak; but still the ruddy tide
        Stifled his voice, and puls'd resolve away--
        Fever'd his high conceit of such a bride,
        Yet brought him to the meekness of a child:
        Alas! when passion is both meek and wild!

        VII.
        So once more he had wak'd and anguished
        A dreary night of love and misery,
        If Isabel's quick eye had not been wed
        To every symbol on his forehead high;
        She saw it waxing very pale and dead,
        And straight all flush'd; so, lisped tenderly,
        "Lorenzo!"--here she ceas'd her timid quest,
        But in her tone and look he read the rest.

        VIII.
        "O Isabella, I can half perceive
        "That I may speak my grief into thine ear;
        "If thou didst ever any thing believe,
        "Believe how I love thee, believe how near
        "My soul is to its doom: I would not grieve
        "Thy hand by unwelcome pressing, would not fear
        "Thine eyes by gazing; but I cannot live
        "Another night, and not my passion shrive.

        IX.
        "Love! thou art leading me from wintry cold,
        "Lady! thou leadest me to summer clime,
        "And I must taste the blossoms that unfold
        "In its ripe warmth this gracious morning time."
        So said, his erewhile timid lips grew bold,
        And poesied with hers in dewy rhyme:
        Great bliss was with them, and great happiness
        Grew, like a lusty flower in June's caress.

        X.
        Parting they seem'd to tread upon the air,
        Twin roses by the zephyr blown apart
        Only to meet again more close, and share
        The inward fragrance of each other's heart.
        She, to her chamber gone, a ditty fair
        Sang, of delicious love and honey'd dart;
        He with light steps went up a western hill,
        And bade the sun farewell, and joy'd his fill.

        XI.
        All close they met again, before the dusk
        Had taken from the stars its pleasant veil,
        All close they met, all eves, before the dusk
        Had taken from the stars its pleasant veil,
        Close in a bower of hyacinth and musk,
        Unknown of any, free from whispering tale.
        Ah! better had it been for ever so,
        Than idle ears should pleasure in their woe.

        XII.
        Were they unhappy then?--It cannot be--
        Too many tears for lovers have been shed,
        Too many sighs give we to them in fee,
        Too much of pity after they are dead,
        Too many doleful stories do we see,
        Whose matter in bright gold were best be read;
        Except in such a page where Theseus' spouse
        Over the pathless waves towards him bows.

        XIII.
        But, for the general award of love,
        The little sweet doth kill much bitterness;
        Though Dido silent is in under-grove,
        And Isabella's was a great distress,
        Though young Lorenzo in warm Indian clove
        Was not embalm'd, this truth is not the less--
        Even bees, the little almsmen of spring-bowers,
        Know there is richest juice in poison-flowers.

        XIV.
        With her two brothers this fair lady dwelt,
        Enriched from ancestral merchandize,
        And for them many a weary hand did swelt
        In torched mines and noisy factories,
        And many once proud-quiver'd loins did melt
        In blood from stinging whip;--with hollow eyes
        Many all day in dazzling river stood,
        To take the rich-ored driftings of the flood.

        XV.
        For them the Ceylon diver held his breath,
        And went all naked to the hungry shark;
        For them his ears gush'd blood; for them in death
        The seal on the cold ice with piteous bark
        Lay full of darts; for them alone did seethe
        A thousand men in troubles wide and dark:
        Half-ignorant, they turn'd an easy wheel,
        That set sharp racks at work, to pinch and peel.

        XVI.
        Why were they proud? Because their marble founts
        Gush'd with more pride than do a wretch's tears?--
        Why were they proud? Because fair orange-mounts
        Were of more soft ascent than lazar stairs?--
        Why were they proud? Because red-lin'd accounts
        Were richer than the songs of Grecian years?--
        Why were they proud? again we ask aloud,
        Why in the name of Glory were they proud?

        XVII.
        Yet were these Florentines as self-retired
        In hungry pride and gainful cowardice,
        As two close Hebrews in that land inspired,
        Paled in and vineyarded from beggar-spies,
        The hawks of ship-mast forests--the untired
        And pannier'd mules for ducats and old lies--
        Quick cat's-paws on the generous stray-away,--
        Great wits in Spanish, Tuscan, and Malay.

        XVIII.
        How was it these same ledger-men could spy
        Fair Isabella in her downy nest?
        How could they find out in Lorenzo's eye
        A straying from his toil? Hot Egypt's pest
        Into their vision covetous and sly!
        How could these money-bags see east and west?--
        Yet so they did--and every dealer fair
        Must see behind, as doth the hunted hare.

        XIX.
        O eloquent and famed Boccaccio!
        Of thee we now should ask forgiving boon,
        And of thy spicy myrtles as they blow,
        And of thy roses amorous of the moon,
        And of thy lilies, that do paler grow
        Now they can no more hear thy ghittern's tune,
        For venturing syllables that ill beseem
        The quiet glooms of such a piteous theme.

        XX.
        Grant thou a pardon here, and then the tale
        Shall move on soberly, as it is meet;
        There is no other crime, no mad assail
        To make old prose in modern rhyme more sweet:
        But it is done--succeed the verse or fail--
        To honour thee, and thy gone spirit greet;
        To stead thee as a verse in English tongue,
        An echo of thee in the north-wind sung.

        XXI.
        These brethren having found by many signs
        What love Lorenzo for their sister had,
        And how she lov'd him too, each unconfines
        His bitter thoughts to other, well nigh mad
        That he, the servant of their trade designs,
        Should in their sister's love be blithe and glad,
        When 'twas their plan to coax her by degrees
        To some high noble and his olive-trees.

        XXII.
        And many a jealous conference had they,
        And many times they bit their lips alone,
        Before they fix'd upon a surest way
        To make the youngster for his crime atone;
        And at the last, these men of cruel clay
        Cut Mercy with a sharp knife to the bone;
        For they resolved in some forest dim
        To kill Lorenzo, and there bury him.

        XXIII.
        So on a pleasant morning, as he leant
        Into the sun-rise, o'er the balustrade
        Of the garden-terrace, towards him they bent
        Their footing through the dews; and to him said,
        "You seem there in the quiet of content,
        "Lorenzo, and we are most loth to invade
        "Calm speculation; but if you are wise,
        "Bestride your steed while cold is in the skies.

        XXIV.
        "To-day we purpose, ay, this hour we mount
        "To spur three leagues towards the Apennine;
        "Come down, we pray thee, ere the hot sun count
        "His dewy rosary on the eglantine."
        Lorenzo, courteously as he was wont,
        Bow'd a fair greeting to these serpents' whine;
        And went in haste, to get in readiness,
        With belt, and spur, and bracing huntsman's dress.

        XXV.
        And as he to the court-yard pass'd along,
        Each third step did he pause, and listen'd oft
        If he could hear his lady's matin-song,
        Or the light whisper of her footstep soft;
        And as he thus over his passion hung,
        He heard a laugh full musical aloft;
        When, looking up, he saw her features bright
        Smile through an in-door lattice, all delight.

        XXVI.
        "Love, Isabel!" said he, "I was in pain
        "Lest I should miss to bid thee a good morrow:
        "Ah! what if I should lose thee, when so fain
        "I am to stifle all the heavy sorrow
        "Of a poor three hours' absence? but we'll gain
        "Out of the amorous dark what day doth borrow.
        "Good bye! I'll soon be back."--"Good bye!" said she:--
        And as he went she chanted merrily.

        XXVII.
        So the two brothers and their murder'd man
        Rode past fair Florence, to where Arno's stream
        Gurgles through straiten'd banks, and still doth fan
        Itself with dancing bulrush, and the bream
        Keeps head against the freshets. Sick and wan
        The brothers' faces in the ford did seem,
        Lorenzo's flush with love.--They pass'd the water
        Into a forest quiet for the slaughter.

        XXVIII.
        There was Lorenzo slain and buried in,
        There in that forest did his great love cease;
        Ah! when a soul doth thus its freedom win,
        It aches in loneliness--is ill at peace
        As the break-covert blood-hounds of such sin:
        They dipp'd their swords in the water, and did tease
        Their horses homeward, with convulsed spur,
        Each richer by his being a murderer.

        XXIX.
        They told their sister how, with sudden speed,
        Lorenzo had ta'en ship for foreign lands,
        Because of some great urgency and need
        In their affairs, requiring trusty hands.
        Poor Girl! put on thy stifling widow's weed,
        And 'scape at once from Hope's accursed bands;
        To-day thou wilt not see him, nor to-morrow,
        And the next day will be a day of sorrow.

        XXX.
        She weeps alone for pleasures not to be;
        Sorely she wept until the night came on,
        And then, instead of love, O misery!
        She brooded o'er the luxury alone:
        His image in the dusk she seem'd to see,
        And to the silence made a gentle moan,
        Spreading her perfect arms upon the air,
        And on her couch low murmuring, "Where? O where?"

        XXXI.
        But Selfishness, Love's cousin, held not long
        Its fiery vigil in her single breast;
        She fretted for the golden hour, and hung
        Upon the time with feverish unrest--
        Not long--for soon into her heart a throng
        Of higher occupants, a richer zest,
        Came tragic; passion not to be subdued,
        And sorrow for her love in travels rude.

        XXXII.
        In the mid days of autumn, on their eves
        The breath of Winter comes from far away,
        And the sick west continually bereaves
        Of some gold tinge, and plays a roundelay
        Of death among the bushes and the leaves,
        To make all bare before he dares to stray
        From his north cavern. So sweet Isabel
        By gradual decay from beauty fell,

        XXXIII.
        Because Lorenzo came not. Oftentimes
        She ask'd her brothers, with an eye all pale,
        Striving to be itself, what dungeon climes
        Could keep him off so long? They spake a tale
        Time after time, to quiet her. Their crimes
        Came on them, like a smoke from Hinnom's vale;
        And every night in dreams they groan'd aloud,
        To see their sister in her snowy shroud.

        XXXIV.
        And she had died in drowsy ignorance,
        But for a thing more deadly dark than all;
        It came like a fierce potion, drunk by chance,
        Which saves a sick man from the feather'd pall
        For some few gasping moments; like a lance,
        Waking an Indian from his cloudy hall
        With cruel pierce, and bringing him again
        Sense of the gnawing fire at heart and brain.

        XXXV.
        It was a vision.--In the drowsy gloom,
        The dull of midnight, at her couch's foot
        Lorenzo stood, and wept: the forest tomb
        Had marr'd his glossy hair which once could shoot
        Lustre into the sun, and put cold doom
        Upon his lips, and taken the soft lute
        From his lorn voice, and past his loamed ears
        Had made a miry channel for his tears.

        XXXVI.
        Strange sound it was, when the pale shadow spake;
        For there was striving, in its piteous tongue,
        To speak as when on earth it was awake,
        And Isabella on its music hung:
        Languor there was in it, and tremulous shake,
        As in a palsied Druid's harp unstrung;
        And through it moan'd a ghostly under-song,
        Like hoarse night-gusts sepulchral briars among.

        XXXVII.
        Its eyes, though wild, were still all dewy bright
        With love, and kept all phantom fear aloof
        From the poor girl by magic of their light,
        The while it did unthread the horrid woof
        Of the late darken'd time,--the murderous spite
        Of pride and avarice,--the dark pine roof
        In the forest,--and the sodden turfed dell,
        Where, without any word, from stabs he fell.

        XXXVIII.
        Saying moreover, "Isabel, my sweet!
        "Red whortle-berries droop above my head,
        "And a large flint-stone weighs upon my feet;
        "Around me beeches and high chestnuts shed
        "Their leaves and prickly nuts; a sheep-fold bleat
        "Comes from beyond the river to my bed:
        "Go, shed one tear upon my heather-bloom,
        "And it shall comfort me within the tomb.

        XXXIX.
        "I am a shadow now, alas! alas!
        "Upon the skirts of human-nature dwelling
        "Alone: I chant alone the holy mass,
        "While little sounds of life are round me knelling,
        "And glossy bees at noon do fieldward pass,
        "And many a chapel bell the hour is telling,
        "Paining me through: those sounds grow strange to me,
        "And thou art distant in Humanity.

        XL.
        "I know what was, I feel full well what is,
        "And I should rage, if spirits could go mad;
        "Though I forget the taste of earthly bliss,
        "That paleness warms my grave, as though I had
        "A Seraph chosen from the bright abyss
        "To be my spouse: thy paleness makes me glad;
        "Thy beauty grows upon me, and I feel
        "A greater love through all my essence steal."

        XLI.
        The Spirit mourn'd "Adieu!"--dissolv'd, and left
        The atom darkness in a slow turmoil;
        As when of healthful midnight sleep bereft,
        Thinking on rugged hours and fruitless toil,
        We put our eyes into a pillowy cleft,
        And see the spangly gloom froth up and boil:
        It made sad Isabella's eyelids ache,
        And in the dawn she started up awake;

        XLII.
        "Ha! ha!" said she, "I knew not this hard life,
        "I thought the worst was simple misery;
        "I thought some Fate with pleasure or with strife
        "Portion'd us--happy days, or else to die;
        "But there is crime--a brother's bloody knife!
        "Sweet Spirit, thou hast school'd my infancy:
        "I'll visit thee for this, and kiss thine eyes,
        "And greet thee morn and even in the skies."

        XLIII.
        When the full morning came, she had devised
        How she might secret to the forest hie;
        How she might find the clay, so dearly prized,
        And sing to it one latest lullaby;
        How her short absence might be unsurmised,
        While she the inmost of the dream would try.
        Resolv'd, she took with her an aged nurse,
        And went into that dismal forest-hearse.

        XLIV.
        See, as they creep along the river side,
        How she doth whisper to that aged Dame,
        And, after looking round the champaign wide,
        Shows her a knife.--"What feverous hectic flame
        "Burns in thee, child?--What good can thee betide,
        "That thou should'st smile again?"--The evening came,
        And they had found Lorenzo's earthy bed;
        The flint was there, the berries at his head.

        XLV.
        Who hath not loiter'd in a green church-yard,
        And let his spirit, like a demon-mole,
        Work through the clayey soil and gravel hard,
        To see skull, coffin'd bones, and funeral stole;
        Pitying each form that hungry Death hath marr'd,
        And filling it once more with human soul?
        Ah! this is holiday to what was felt
        When Isabella by Lorenzo knelt.

        XLVI.
        She gaz'd into the fresh-thrown mould, as though
        One glance did fully all its secrets tell;
        Clearly she saw, as other eyes would know
        Pale limbs at bottom of a crystal well;
        Upon the murderous spot she seem'd to grow,
        Like to a native lily of the dell:
        Then with her knife, all sudden, she began
        To dig more fervently than misers can.

        XLVII.
        Soon she turn'd up a soiled glove, whereon
        Her silk had play'd in purple phantasies,
        She kiss'd it with a lip more chill than stone,
        And put it in her bosom, where it dries
        And freezes utterly unto the bone
        Those dainties made to still an infant's cries:
        Then 'gan she work again; nor stay'd her care,
        But to throw back at times her veiling hair.

        XLVIII.
        That old nurse stood beside her wondering,
        Until her heart felt pity to the core
        At sight of such a dismal labouring,
        And so she kneeled, with her locks all hoar,
        And put her lean hands to the horrid thing:
        Three hours they labour'd at this travail sore;
        At last they felt the kernel of the grave,
        And Isabella did not stamp and rave.

        XLIX.
        Ah! wherefore all this wormy circumstance?
        Why linger at the yawning tomb so long?
        O for the gentleness of old Romance,
        The simple plaining of a minstrel's song!
        Fair reader, at the old tale take a glance,
        For here, in truth, it doth not well belong
        To speak:--O turn thee to the very tale,
        And taste the music of that vision pale.

        L.
        With duller steel than the Persиan sword
        They cut away no formless monster's head,
        But one, whose gentleness did well accord
        With death, as life. The ancient harps have said,
        Love never dies, but lives, immortal Lord:
        If Love impersonate was ever dead,
        Pale Isabella kiss'd it, and low moan'd.
        'Twas love; cold,--dead indeed, but not dethroned.

        LI.
        In anxious secrecy they took it home,
        And then the prize was all for Isabel:
        She calm'd its wild hair with a golden comb,
        And all around each eye's sepulchral cell
        Pointed each fringed lash; the smeared loam
        With tears, as chilly as a dripping well,
        She drench'd away:--and still she comb'd, and kept
        Sighing all day--and still she kiss'd, and wept.

        LII.
        Then in a silken scarf,--sweet with the dews
        Of precious flowers pluck'd in Araby,
        And divine liquids come with odorous ooze
        Through the cold serpent pipe refreshfully,--
        She wrapp'd it up; and for its tomb did choose
        A garden-pot, wherein she laid it by,
        And cover'd it with mould, and o'er it set
        Sweet Basil, which her tears kept ever wet.

        LIII.
        And she forgot the stars, the moon, and sun,
        And she forgot the blue above the trees,
        And she forgot the dells where waters run,
        And she forgot the chilly autumn breeze;
        She had no knowledge when the day was done,
        And the new morn she saw not: but in peace
        Hung over her sweet Basil evermore,
        And moisten'd it with tears unto the core.

        LIV.
        And so she ever fed it with thin tears,
        Whence thick, and green, and beautiful it grew,
        So that it smelt more balmy than its peers
        Of Basil-tufts in Florence; for it drew
        Nurture besides, and life, from human fears,
        From the fast mouldering head there shut from view:
        So that the jewel, safely casketed,
        Came forth, and in perfumed leafits spread.

        LV.
        O Melancholy, linger here awhile!
        O Music, Music, breathe despondingly!
        O Echo, Echo, from some sombre isle,
        Unknown, Lethean, sigh to us--O sigh!
        Spirits in grief, lift up your heads, and smile;
        Lift up your heads, sweet Spirits, heavily,
        And make a pale light in your cypress glooms,
        Tinting with silver wan your marble tombs.

        LVI.
        Moan hither, all ye syllables of woe,
        From the deep throat of sad Melpomene!
        Through bronzed lyre in tragic order go,
        And touch the strings into a mystery;
        Sound mournfully upon the winds and low;
        For simple Isabel is soon to be
        Among the dead: She withers, like a palm
        Cut by an Indian for its juicy balm.

        LVII.
        O leave the palm to wither by itself;
        Let not quick Winter chill its dying hour!--
        It may not be--those Baalites of pelf,
        Her brethren, noted the continual shower
        From her dead eyes; and many a curious elf,
        Among her kindred, wonder'd that such dower
        Of youth and beauty should be thrown aside
        By one mark'd out to be a Noble's bride.

        LVIII.
        And, furthermore, her brethren wonder'd much
        Why she sat drooping by the Basil green,
        And why it flourish'd, as by magic touch;
        Greatly they wonder'd what the thing might mean:
        They could not surely give belief, that such
        A very nothing would have power to wean
        Her from her own fair youth, and pleasures gay,
        And even remembrance of her love's delay.

        LIX.
        Therefore they watch'd a time when they might sift
        This hidden whim; and long they watch'd in vain;
        For seldom did she go to chapel-shrift,
        And seldom felt she any hunger-pain;
        And when she left, she hurried back, as swift
        As bird on wing to breast its eggs again;
        And, patient as a hen-bird, sat her there
        Beside her Basil, weeping through her hair.

        LX.
        Yet they contriv'd to steal the Basil-pot,
        And to examine it in secret place:
        The thing was vile with green and livid spot,
        And yet they knew it was Lorenzo's face:
        The guerdon of their murder they had got,
        And so left Florence in a moment's space,
        Never to turn again.--Away they went,
        With blood upon their heads, to banishment.

        LXI.
        O Melancholy, turn thine eyes away!
        O Music, Music, breathe despondingly!
        O Echo, Echo, on some other day,
        From isles Lethean, sigh to us--O sigh!
        Spirits of grief, sing not your "Well-a-way!"
        For Isabel, sweet Isabel, will die;
        Will die a death too lone and incomplete,
        Now they have ta'en away her Basil sweet.

        LXII.
        Piteous she look'd on dead and senseless things,
        Asking for her lost Basil amorously:
        And with melodious chuckle in the strings
        Of her lorn voice, she oftentimes would cry
        After the Pilgrim in his wanderings,
        To ask him where her Basil was; and why
        'Twas hid from her: "For cruel 'tis," said she,
        "To steal my Basil-pot away from me."

        LXIII.
        And so she pined, and so she died forlorn,
        Imploring for her Basil to the last.
        No heart was there in Florence but did mourn
        In pity of her love, so overcast.
        And a sad ditty of this story born
        From mouth to mouth through all the country pass'd:
        Still is the burthen sung--"O cruelty,
        "To steal my Basil-pot away from me!"
      Up

      Keen, Fitful Gusts Are Whisp'ring Here And There
        Keen, fitful gusts are whisp'ring here and there
        Among the bushes half leafless, and dry;
        The stars look very cold about the sky,
        And I have many miles on foot to fare.
        Yet feel I little of the cool bleak air,
        Or of the dead leaves rustling drearily,
        Or of those silver lamps that burn on high,
        Or of the distance from home's pleasant lair:
        For I am brimfull of the friendliness
        That in a little cottage I have found;
        Of fair-hair'd Milton's eloquent distress,
        And all his love for gentle Lycid drown'd;
        Of lovely Laura in her light green dress,
        And faithful Petrarch gloriously crown'd.
      Up

      La Belle Dame Sans Merci
        Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight,
        Alone and palely loitering;
        The sedge is wither'd from the lake,
        And no birds sing.
        Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight,
        So haggard and so woe-begone?
        The squirrel's granary is full,
        And the harvest's done.
        I see a lily on thy brow,
        With anguish moist and fever dew;
        And on thy cheek a fading rose
        Fast withereth too.
        I met a lady in the meads
        Full beautiful, a faery's child;
        Her hair was long, her foot was light,
        And her eyes were wild.
        I set her on my pacing steed,
        And nothing else saw all day long;
        For sideways would she lean, and sing
        A faery's song.
        I made a garland for her head,
        And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
        She look'd at me as she did love,
        And made sweet moan.
        She found me roots of relish sweet,
        And honey wild, and manna dew;
        And sure in language strange she said,
        I love thee true.
        She took me to her elfin grot,
        And there she gaz'd and sighed deep,
        And there I shut her wild sad eyes-
        So kiss'd to sleep.
        And there we slumber'd on the moss,
        And there I dream'd, ah woe betide,
        The latest dream I ever dream'd
        On the cold hill side.
        I saw pale kings, and princes too,
        Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
        Who cry'd -'La belle Dame sans merci
        Hath thee in thrall!'.
        I saw their starv'd lips in the gloam
        With horrid warning gaped wide,
        And I awoke, and found me here
        On the cold hill side.
        And this is why I sojourn here
        Alone and palely loitering,
        Though the sedge is wither'd from the lake,
        And no birds sing.
      Up

      Lines
        Unfelt unheard, unseen,
        I've left my little queen,
        Her languid arms in silver slumber lying:
        Ah! through their nestling touch,
        Who---who could tell how much
        There is for madness---cruel, or complying?

        Those faery lids how sleek!
        Those lips how moist!---they speak,
        In ripest quiet, shadows of sweet sounds:
        Into my fancy's ear
        Melting a burden dear,
        How "Love doth know no fulness, nor no bounds."

        True!---tender monitors!
        I bend unto your laws:
        This sweetest day for dalliance was born!
        So, without more ado,
        I'll feel my heaven anew,
        For all the blushing of the hasty morn.
      Up

      Lines On The Mermaid Tavern
        Souls of Poets dead and gone,
        What Elysium have ye known,
        Happy field or mossy cavern,
        Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern?
        Have ye tippled drink more fine
        Than mine host's Canary wine?
        Or are fruits of Paradise
        Sweeter than those dainty pies
        Of venison? O generous food!
        Drest as though bold Robin Hood
        Would, with his maid Marian,
        Sup and bowse from horn and can.

        I have heard that on a day
        Mine host's sign-board flew away,
        Nobody knew whither, till
        An astrologer's old quill
        To a sheepskin gave the story,
        Said he saw you in your glory,
        Underneath a new old sign
        Sipping beverage divine,
        And pledging with contented smack
        The Mermaid in the Zodiac.

        Souls of Poets dead and gone,
        What Elysium have ye known,
        Happy field or mossy cavern,
        Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern?
      Up

      Meg Merrilies
        Old Meg she was a Gipsy,
        And liv'd upon the Moors:
        Her bed it was the brown heath turf,
        And her house was out of doors.

        Her apples were swart blackberries,
        Her currants pods o' broom;
        Her wine was dew of the wild white rose,
        Her book a churchyard tomb.

        Her Brothers were the craggy hills,
        Her Sisters larchen trees--
        Alone with her great family
        She liv'd as she did please.

        No breakfast had she many a morn,
        No dinner many a noon,
        And 'stead of supper she would stare
        Full hard against the Moon.

        But every morn of woodbine fresh
        She made her garlanding,
        And every night the dark glen Yew
        She wove, and she would sing.

        And with her fingers old and brown
        She plaited Mats o' Rushes,
        And gave them to the Cottagers
        She met among the Bushes.

        Old Meg was brave as Margaret Queen
        And tall as Amazon:
        An old red blanket cloak she wore;
        A chip hat had she on.
        God rest her aged bones somewhere--
        She died full long agone!
      Up

      O Blush Not So
        O blush not so! O blush not so!
        Or I shall think you knowing;
        And if you smile the blushing while,
        Then maidenheads are going.

        There's a blush for want, and a blush for shan't,
        And a blush for having done it;
        There's a blush for thought, and a blush for nought,
        And a blush for just begun it.

        O sigh not so! O sigh not so!
        For it sounds of Eve's sweet pippin;
        By these loosen'd lips you have tasted the pips
        And fought in an amorous nipping.

        Will you play once more at nice-cut-core,
        For it only will last our youth out,
        And we have the prime of the kissing time,
        We have not one sweet tooth out.

        There's a sigh for aye, and a sigh for nay,
        And a sigh for "I can't bear it!"
        O what can be done, shall we stay or run?
        O cut the sweet apple and share it!
      Up

      Ode On A Grecian Urn
        Thou still unravished bride of quietness!
        Thou fosterchild of silence and slow time,
        Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
        A flow'ry tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
        What leaffringed legend haunts about thy shape
        Of deities or mortals, or of both,
        In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
        What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
        What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
        What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?
        Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
        Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
        Not to the sensual ear, but, more endeared,
        Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
        Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
        Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
        Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
        Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve;
        She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
        For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
        Ah, happy, happy boughs! That cannot shed
        Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
        And, happy melodist, unwearied,
        For ever piping songs for ever new;
        More happy love! More happy, happy love!
        For ever warm and still to be enjoyed,
        For ever panting and for ever young;
        All breathing human passion far above,
        That leaves a heart highsorrowful and cloyed,
        A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.
        Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
        To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
        Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
        And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
        What little town by river or seashore,
        Or mountainbuilt with peaceful citadel,
        Is emptied of its folk, this pious morn?
        And, little town, thy streets for evermore
        Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
        Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.
        O Attic shape! Fair attitude! With brede
        Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
        With forest branches and the trodden weed;
        Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
        As doth eternity: Cold pastoral!
        When old age shall this generation waste,
        Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
        Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou sayst,
        'Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all
        Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
      Up

      Ode On Indolence
        One morn before me were three figures seen,
        I With bowed necks, and joined hands, side-faced;
        And one behind the other stepp'd serene,
        In placid sandals, and in white robes graced;
        They pass'd, like figures on a marble urn,
        When shifted round to see the other side;
        They came again; as when the urn once more
        Is shifted round, the first seen shades return;
        And they were strange to me, as may betide
        With vases, to one deep in Phidian lore.

        How is it, Shadows! that I knew ye not?
        How came ye muffled in so hush a masque?
        Was it a silent deep-disguised plot
        To steal away, and leave without a task
        My idle days? Ripe was the drowsy hour;
        The blissful cloud of summer-indolence
        Benumb'd my eyes; my pulse grew less and less;
        Pain had no sting, and pleasure's wreath no flower:
        O, why did ye not melt, and leave my sense
        Unhaunted quite of all but---nothingness?

        A third time came they by;---alas! wherefore?
        My sleep had been embroider'd with dim dreams;
        My soul had been a lawn besprinkled o'er
        With flowers, and stirring shades, and baffled beams:
        The morn was clouded, but no shower fell,
        Tho' in her lids hung the sweet tears of May;
        The open casement press'd a new-leav'd vine,
        Let in the budding warmth and throstle's lay;
        O Shadows! 'twas a time to bid farewell!
        Upon your skirts had fallen no tears of mine.

        A third time pass'd they by, and, passing, turn'd
        Each one the face a moment whiles to me;
        Then faded, and to follow them I burn'd
        And ached for wings, because I knew the three;
        The first was a fair maid, and Love her name;
        The second was Ambition, pale of cheek,
        And ever watchful with fatigued eye;
        The last, whom I love more, the more of blame
        Is heap'd upon her, maiden most unmeek,---
        I knew to be my demon Poesy.

        They faded, and, forsooth! I wanted wings:
        O folly! What is Love! and where is it?
        And for that poor Ambition---it springs
        From a man's little heart's short fever-fit;
        For Poesy!---no,---she has not a joy,---
        At least for me,---so sweet as drowsy noons,
        And evenings steep'd in honied indolence;
        O, for an age so shelter'd from annoy,
        That I may never know how change the moons,
        Or hear the voice of busy common-sense!

        So, ye three Ghosts, adieu! Ye cannot raise
        My head cool-bedded in the flowery grass;
        For I would not be dieted with praise,
        A pet-lamb in a sentimental farce!
        Fade sofdy from my eyes, and be once more
        In masque-like figures on the dreamy urn;
        Farewell! I yet have visions for the night,
        And for the day faint visions there is store;
        Vanish, ye Phantoms! from my idle spright,
        Into the clouds, and never more return!
      Up

      Ode On Melancholy
        No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist
        Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
        Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss'd
        By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
        Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
        Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be
        Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
        A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
        For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
        And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.

        But when the melancholy fit shall fall
        Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
        That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
        And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
        Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
        Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
        Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
        Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
        Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
        And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

        She dwells with Beauty--Beauty that must die;
        And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
        Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
        Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
        Ay, in the very temple of Delight
        Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
        Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
        Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
        His soul shalt taste the sadness of her might,
        And be among her cloudy trophies hung.
      Up

      Ode To A Nightingale
        My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
        My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
        Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
        One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
        'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
        But being too happy in thine happiness,-
        That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
        In some melodious plot
        Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
        Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
        O, for a draught of vintage! That hath been
        Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
        Tasting of Flora and the country green,
        Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
        O for a beaker full of the warm South,
        Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
        With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
        And purple-stained mouth;
        That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
        And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
        Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
        What thou among the leaves hast never known,
        The weariness, the fever, and the fret
        Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
        Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
        Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
        Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
        And leaden-eyed despairs,
        Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
        Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.
        Away! Away! For I will fly to thee,
        Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
        But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
        Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
        Already with thee! Tender is the night,
        And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
        Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays;
        But here there is no light,
        Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
        Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.
        I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
        Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
        But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
        Wherewith the seasonable month endows
        The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
        White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
        Fast fading violets cover'd up in leaves;
        And mid-May's eldest child,
        The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
        The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.
        Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
        I have been half in love with easeful Death,
        Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
        To take into the air my quiet breath;
        Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
        To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
        While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
        In such an ecstasy!
        Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain-
        To thy high requiem become a sod.
        Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
        No hungry generations tread thee down;
        The voice I hear this passing night was heard
        In ancient days by emperor and clown:
        Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
        Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
        She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
        The same that oft-times hath
        Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
        Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
        Forlorn! The very word is like a bell
        To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
        Adieu! The fancy cannot cheat so well
        As she is fam'd to do, deceiving elf.
        Adieu! Adieu! Thy plaintive anthem fades
        Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
        Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
        In the next valley-glades:
        Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
        Fled is that music: Do I wake or sleep?
      Up

      To Fanny
        I cry your mercy—pity—love!—aye, love!
        Merciful love that tantalizes not,
        One-thoughted, never-wandering, guileless love,
        Unmasked, and being seen—without a blot!
        O! let me have thee whole,—all—all—be mine!
        That shape, that fairness, that sweet minor zest
        Of love, your kiss,—those hands, those eyes divine,
        That warm, white, lucent, million-pleasured breast,—
        Yourself—your soul—in pity give me all,
        Withhold no atom's atom or I die,
        Or living on, perhaps, your wretched thrall,
        Forget, in the mist of idle misery,
        Life's purposes,—the palate of my mind
        Losing its gust, and my ambition blind!
      Up

      Ode To Maia (Fragment)
        Mother of Hermes! and still youthful Maia!
        May I sing to thee
        As thou wast hymned on the shores of Baiae?
        Or may I woo thee
        In earlier Sicilian? or thy smiles
        Seek as they once were sought, in Grecian isles,
        By bards who died content on pleasant sward,
        Leaving great verse unto a little clan?
        O give me their old vigour! and unheard
        Save of the quiet primrose, and the span
        Of heaven, and few ears,
        Rounded by thee, my song should die away
        Content as theirs,
        Rich in the simple worship of a day.
      Up

      Ode To Psyche
        O Goddess! hear these tuneless numbers, wrung
        By sweet enforcement and remembrance dear,
        And pardon that thy secrets should be sung
        Even into thine own soft-conched ear:
        Surely I dreamt to-day, or did I see
        The winged Psyche with awaken'd eyes?
        I wander'd in a forest thoughtlessly,
        And, on the sudden, fainting with surprise,
        Saw two fair creatures, couched side by side
        In deepest grass, beneath the whisp'ring roof
        Of leaves and trembled blossoms, where there ran
        A brooklet, scarce espied:

        Mid hush'd, cool-rooted flowers, fragrant-eyed,
        Blue, silver-white, and budded Tyrian,
        They lay calm-breathing, on the bedded grass;
        Their arms embraced, and their pinions too;
        Their lips touch'd not, but had not bade adieu,
        As if disjoined by soft-handed slumber,
        And ready still past kisses to outnumber
        At tender eye-dawn of aurorean love:
        The winged boy I knew;
        But who wast thou, O happy, happy dove?
        His Psyche true!

        O latest born and loveliest vision far
        Of all Olympus' faded hierarchy!
        Fairer than Ph{oe}be's sapphire-region'd star,
        Or Vesper, amorous glow-worm of the sky;
        Fairer than these, though temple thou hast none,
        Nor altar heap'd with flowers;
        Nor virgin-choir to make delicious moan
        Upon the midnight hours;
        No voice, no lute, no pipe, no incense sweet
        From chain-swung censer teeming;
        No shrine, no grove, no oracle, no heat
        Of pale-mouth'd prophet dreaming.

        O brightest! though too late for antique vows,
        Too, too late for the fond believing lyre,
        When holy were the haunted forest boughs,
        Holy the air, the water, and the fire;
        Yet even in these days so far retir'd
        From happy pieties, thy lucent fans,
        Fluttering among the faint Olympians,
        I see, and sing, by my own eyes inspir'd.
        So let me be thy choir, and make a moan
        Upon the midnight hours;
        Thy voice, thy lute, thy pipe, thy incense sweet
        From swinged censer teeming;
        Thy shrine, thy grove, thy oracle, thy heat
        Of pale-mouth'd prophet dreaming.

        Yes, I will be thy priest, and build a fane
        In some untrodden region of my mind,
        Where branched thoughts, new grown with pleasant pain,
        Instead of pines shall murmur in the wind:
        Far, far around shall those dark-cluster'd trees
        Fledge the wild-ridged mountains steep by steep;
        And there by zephyrs, streams, and birds, and bees,
        The moss-lain Dryads shall be lull'd to sleep;
        And in the midst of this wide quietness
        A rosy sanctuary will I dress
        With the wreath'd trellis of a working brain,
        With buds, and bells, and stars without a name,
        With all the gardener Fancy e'er could feign,
        Who breeding flowers, will never breed the same:
        And there shall be for thee all soft delight
        That shadowy thought can win,
        A bright torch, and a casement ope at night,
        To let the warm Love in!
      Up

      On Fame
        Fame, like a wayward girl, will still be coy
        To those who woo her with too slavish knees,
        But makes surrender to some thoughtless boy,
        And dotes the more upon a heart at ease;
        She is a Gypsy,—will not speak to those
        Who have not learnt to be content without her;
        A Jilt, whose ear was never whispered close,
        Who thinks they scandal her who talk about her;
        A very Gypsy is she, Nilus-born,
        Sister-in-law to jealous Potiphar;
        Ye love-sick Bards! repay her scorn for scorn;
        Ye Artists lovelorn! madmen that ye are!
        Makeyour best bow to her and bid adieu,
        Then, if she likes it, she will follow you.
      Up

      On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer
        Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
        And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
        Round many western islands have I been
        Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
        Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
        That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne;
        Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
        Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
        Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
        When a new planet swims into his ken;
        Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
        He star'd at the Pacific--and all his men
        Look'd at each other with a wild surmise--
        Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
      Up

      On Leaving Some Friends At An Early Hour
        Give me a golden pen, and let me lean
        On heaped-up flowers, in regions clear, and far;
        Bring me a tablet whiter than a star,
        Or hand of hymning angel, when 'tis seen
        The silver strings of heavenly harp atween:
        And let there glide by many a pearly car
        Pink robes, and wavy hair, and diamond jar,
        And half-discovered wings, and glances keen.
        The while let music wander round my ears,
        And as it reaches each delicious ending,
        Let me write down a line of glorious tone,
        And full of many wonders of the spheres:
        For what a height my spirit is contending!
        'Tis not content so soon to be alone.
      Up

      On Seeing The Elgin Marbles For The First Time
        My spirit is too weak; mortality
        Weighs heavily on me like unwilling sleep,
        And each imagined pinnacle and steep
        Of godlike hardship tells me I must die
        Like a sick eagle looking at the sky.
        Yet 'tis a gentle luxury to weep,
        That I have not the cloudy winds to keep
        Fresh for the opening of the morning's eye.
        Such dim-conceived glories of the brain
        Bring round the heart an indescribable feud;
        So do these wonders a most dizzy pain,
        That mingles Grecian grandeur with the rude
        Wasting of old Time—with a billowy main,
        A sun, a shadow of a magnitude.
      Up

      On Sitting Down To Read King Lear Once Again
        O golden-tongued Romance with serene lute!
        Fair plumed Syren! Queen of far away!
        Leave melodizing on this wintry day,
        Shut up thine olden pages, and be mute:
        Adieu! for once again the fierce dispute,
        Betwixt damnation and impassion'd clay
        Must I burn through; once more humbly assay
        The bitter-sweet of this Shakespearian fruit.
        Chief Poet! and ye clouds of Albion,
        Begetters of our deep eternal theme,
        When through the old oak forest I am gone,
        Let me not wander in a barren dream,
        But when I am consumed in the fire,
        Give me new Phoenix wings to fly at my desire.
      Up

      On The Grasshopper And Cricket
        The poetry of earth is never dead:
        When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
        And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
        From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
        That is the Grasshopper's—he takes the lead
        In summer luxury,—he has never done
        With his delights; for when tired out with fun
        He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
        The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
        On a lone winter evening, when the frost
        Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
        The Cricket's song, in warmth increasing ever,
        And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
        The Grasshopper's among some grassy hills.
      Up

      On The Sea
        It keeps eternal whisperings around
        Desolate shores, and with its mighty swell
        Gluts twice ten thousand caverns, till the spell
        Of Hecate leaves them their old shadowy sound.
        Often 'tis in such gentle temper found,
        That scarcely will the very smallest shell
        Be moved for days from whence it sometime fell,
        When last the winds of heaven were unbound.
        Oh ye! who have your eye-balls vexed and tired,
        Feast them upon the wideness of the Sea;
        Oh ye! whose ears are dinned with uproar rude,
        Or fed too much with cloying melody,—
        Sit ye near some old cavern's mouth, and brood
        Until ye start, as if the sea-nymphs choired!
      Up

      Robin Hood
        No! those days are gone away
        And their hours are old and gray,
        And their minutes buried all
        Under the down-trodden pall
        Of the leaves of many years:
        Many times have winter's shears,
        Frozen North, and chilling East,
        Sounded tempests to the feast
        Of the forest's whispering fleeces,
        Since men knew nor rent nor leases.

        No, the bugle sounds no more,
        And the twanging bow no more;
        Silent is the ivory shrill
        Past the heath and up the hill;
        There is no mid-forest laugh,
        Where lone Echo gives the half
        To some wight, amaz'd to hear
        Jesting, deep in forest drear.

        On the fairest time of June
        You may go, with sun or moon,
        Or the seven stars to light you,
        Or the polar ray to right you;
        But you never may behold
        Little John, or Robin bold;
        Never one, of all the clan,
        Thrumming on an empty can
        Some old hunting ditty, while
        He doth his green way beguile
        To fair hostess Merriment,
        Down beside the pasture Trent;
        For he left the merry tale
        Messenger for spicy ale.

        Gone, the merry morris din;
        Gone, the song of Gamelyn;
        Gone, the tough-belted outlaw
        Idling in the "grenè shawe";
        All are gone away and past!
        And if Robin should be cast
        Sudden from his turfed grave,
        And if Marian should have
        Once again her forest days,
        She would weep, and he would craze:
        He would swear, for all his oaks,
        Fall'n beneath the dockyard strokes,
        Have rotted on the briny seas;
        She would weep that her wild bees
        Sang not to her--strange! that honey
        Can't be got without hard money!

        So it is: yet let us sing,
        Honour to the old bow-string!
        Honour to the bugle-horn!
        Honour to the woods unshorn!
        Honour to the Lincoln green!
        Honour to the archer keen!
        Honour to tight little John,
        And the horse he rode upon!
        Honour to bold Robin Hood,
        Sleeping in the underwood!
        Honour to maid Marian,
        And to all the Sherwood-clan!
        Though their days have hurried by
        Let us two a burden try.
      Up

      The Day Is Gone, And All Its Sweets Are Gone
        The day is gone, and all its sweets are gone!
        Sweet voice, sweet lips, soft hand, and softer breast,
        Warm breath, light whisper, tender semitone,
        Bright eyes, accomplished shape, and lang'rous waist!
        Faded the flower and all its budded charms,
        Faded the sight of beauty from my eyes,
        Faded the shape of beauty from my arms,
        Faded the voice, warmth, whiteness, paradise—
        Vanished unseasonably at shut of eve,
        When the dusk holiday—or holinight
        Of fragrant-curtained love begins to weave
        The woof of darkness thick, for hid delight;
        But, as I've read love's missal through today,
        He'll let me sleep, seeing I fast and pray.
      Up

      The Eve Of St. Agnes
        St. Agnes' Eve--Ah, bitter chill it was!
        The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
        The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen grass,
        And silent was the flock in woolly fold:
        Numb were the Beadsman's fingers, while he told
        His rosary, and while his frosted breath,
        Like pious incense from a censer old,
        Seem'd taking flight for heaven, without a death,
        Past the sweet Virgin's picture, while his prayer he saith.

        His prayer he saith, this patient, holy man;
        Then takes his lamp, and riseth from his knees,
        And back returneth, meagre, barefoot, wan,
        Along the chapel aisle by slow degrees:
        The sculptur'd dead, on each side, seem to freeze,
        Emprison'd in black, purgatorial rails:
        Knights, ladies, praying in dumb orat'ries,
        He passeth by; and his weak spirit fails
        To think how they may ache in icy hoods and mails.

        Northward he turneth through a little door,
        And scarce three steps, ere Music's golden tongue
        Flatter'd to tears this aged man and poor;
        But no--already had his deathbell rung;
        The joys of all his life were said and sung:
        His was harsh penance on St. Agnes' Eve:
        Another way he went, and soon among
        Rough ashes sat he for his soul's reprieve,
        And all night kept awake, for sinners' sake to grieve.

        That ancient Beadsman heard the prelude soft;
        And so it chanc'd, for many a door was wide,
        From hurry to and fro. Soon, up aloft,
        The silver, snarling trumpets 'gan to chide:
        The level chambers, ready with their pride,
        Were glowing to receive a thousand guests:
        The carved angels, ever eager-eyed,
        Star'd, where upon their heads the cornice rests,
        With hair blown back, and wings put cross-wise on their breasts.

        At length burst in the argent revelry,
        With plume, tiara, and all rich array,
        Numerous as shadows haunting faerily
        The brain, new stuff'd, in youth, with triumphs gay
        Of old romance. These let us wish away,
        And turn, sole-thoughted, to one Lady there,
        Whose heart had brooded, all that wintry day,
        On love, and wing'd St. Agnes' saintly care,
        As she had heard old dames full many times declare.

        They told her how, upon St. Agnes' Eve,
        Young virgins might have visions of delight,
        And soft adorings from their loves receive
        Upon the honey'd middle of the night,
        If ceremonies due they did aright;
        As, supperless to bed they must retire,
        And couch supine their beauties, lily white;
        Nor look behind, nor sideways, but require
        Of Heaven with upward eyes for all that they desire.

        Full of this whim was thoughtful Madeline:
        The music, yearning like a God in pain,
        She scarcely heard: her maiden eyes divine,
        Fix'd on the floor, saw many a sweeping train
        Pass by--she heeded not at all: in vain
        Came many a tiptoe, amorous cavalier,
        And back retir'd; not cool'd by high disdain,
        But she saw not: her heart was otherwhere:
        She sigh'd for Agnes' dreams, the sweetest of the year.

        She danc'd along with vague, regardless eyes,
        Anxious her lips, her breathing quick and short:
        The hallow'd hour was near at hand: she sighs
        Amid the timbrels, and the throng'd resort
        Of whisperers in anger, or in sport;
        'Mid looks of love, defiance, hate, and scorn,
        Hoodwink'd with faery fancy; all amort,
        Save to St. Agnes and her lambs unshorn,
        And all the bliss to be before to-morrow morn.

        So, purposing each moment to retire,
        She linger'd still. Meantime, across the moors,
        Had come young Porphyro, with heart on fire
        For Madeline. Beside the portal doors,
        Buttress'd from moonlight, stands he, and implores
        All saints to give him sight of Madeline,
        But for one moment in the tedious hours,
        That he might gaze and worship all unseen;
        Perchance speak, kneel, touch, kiss--in sooth such things have been.

        He ventures in: let no buzz'd whisper tell:
        All eyes be muffled, or a hundred swords
        Will storm his heart, Love's fev'rous citadel:
        For him, those chambers held barbarian hordes,
        Hyena foemen, and hot-blooded lords,
        Whose very dogs would execrations howl
        Against his lineage: not one breast affords
        Him any mercy, in that mansion foul,
        Save one old beldame, weak in body and in soul.

        Ah, happy chance! the aged creature came,
        Shuffling along with ivory-headed wand,
        To where he stood, hid from the torch's flame,
        Behind a broad half-pillar, far beyond
        The sound of merriment and chorus bland:
        He startled her; but soon she knew his face,
        And grasp'd his fingers in her palsied hand,
        Saying, "Mercy, Porphyro! hie thee from this place;
        They are all here to-night, the whole blood-thirsty race!

        "Get hence! get hence! there's dwarfish Hildebrand;
        He had a fever late, and in the fit
        He cursed thee and thine, both house and land:
        Then there's that old Lord Maurice, not a whit
        More tame for his gray hairs--Alas me! flit!
        Flit like a ghost away."--"Ah, Gossip dear,
        We're safe enough; here in this arm-chair sit,
        And tell me how"--"Good Saints! not here, not here;
        Follow me, child, or else these stones will be thy bier."

        He follow'd through a lowly arched way,
        Brushing the cobwebs with his lofty plume,
        And as she mutter'd "Well-a--well-a-day!"
        He found him in a little moonlight room,
        Pale, lattic'd, chill, and silent as a tomb.
        "Now tell me where is Madeline," said he,
        "O tell me, Angela, by the holy loom
        Which none but secret sisterhood may see,
        When they St. Agnes' wool are weaving piously."

        "St. Agnes! Ah! it is St. Agnes' Eve--
        Yet men will murder upon holy days:
        Thou must hold water in a witch's sieve,
        And be liege-lord of all the Elves and Fays,
        To venture so: it fills me with amaze
        To see thee, Porphyro!--St. Agnes' Eve!
        God's help! my lady fair the conjuror plays
        This very night: good angels her deceive!
        But let me laugh awhile, I've mickle time to grieve."

        Feebly she laugheth in the languid moon,
        While Porphyro upon her face doth look,
        Like puzzled urchin on an aged crone
        Who keepeth clos'd a wond'rous riddle-book,
        As spectacled she sits in chimney nook.
        But soon his eyes grew brilliant, when she told
        His lady's purpose; and he scarce could brook
        Tears, at the thought of those enchantments cold,
        And Madeline asleep in lap of legends old.

        Sudden a thought came like a full-blown rose,
        Flushing his brow, and in his pained heart
        Made purple riot: then doth he propose
        A stratagem, that makes the beldame start:
        "A cruel man and impious thou art:
        Sweet lady, let her pray, and sleep, and dream
        Alone with her good angels, far apart
        From wicked men like thee. Go, go!--I deem
        Thou canst not surely be the same that thou didst seem."

        "I will not harm her, by all saints I swear,"
        Quoth Porphyro: "O may I ne'er find grace
        When my weak voice shall whisper its last prayer,
        If one of her soft ringlets I displace,
        Or look with ruffian passion in her face:
        Good Angela, believe me by these tears;
        Or I will, even in a moment's space,
        Awake, with horrid shout, my foemen's ears,
        And beard them, though they be more fang'd than wolves and bears."

        "Ah! why wilt thou affright a feeble soul?
        A poor, weak, palsy-stricken, churchyard thing,
        Whose passing-bell may ere the midnight toll;
        Whose prayers for thee, each morn and evening,
        Were never miss'd."--Thus plaining, doth she bring
        A gentler speech from burning Porphyro;
        So woful, and of such deep sorrowing,
        That Angela gives promise she will do
        Whatever he shall wish, betide her weal or woe.

        Which was, to lead him, in close secrecy,
        Even to Madeline's chamber, and there hide
        Him in a closet, of such privacy
        That he might see her beauty unespy'd,
        And win perhaps that night a peerless bride,
        While legion'd faeries pac'd the coverlet,
        And pale enchantment held her sleepy-ey'd.
        Never on such a night have lovers met,
        Since Merlin paid his Demon all the monstrous debt.

        "It shall be as thou wishest," said the Dame:
        "All cates and dainties shall be stored there
        Quickly on this feast-night: by the tambour frame
        Her own lute thou wilt see: no time to spare,
        For I am slow and feeble, and scarce dare
        On such a catering trust my dizzy head.
        Wait here, my child, with patience; kneel in prayer
        The while: Ah! thou must needs the lady wed,
        Or may I never leave my grave among the dead."

        So saying, she hobbled off with busy fear.
        The lover's endless minutes slowly pass'd;
        The dame return'd, and whisper'd in his ear
        To follow her; with aged eyes aghast
        From fright of dim espial. Safe at last,
        Through many a dusky gallery, they gain
        The maiden's chamber, silken, hush'd, and chaste;
        Where Porphyro took covert, pleas'd amain.
        His poor guide hurried back with agues in her brain.

        Her falt'ring hand upon the balustrade,
        Old Angela was feeling for the stair,
        When Madeline, St. Agnes' charmed maid,
        Rose, like a mission'd spirit, unaware:
        With silver taper's light, and pious care,
        She turn'd, and down the aged gossip led
        To a safe level matting. Now prepare,
        Young Porphyro, for gazing on that bed;
        She comes, she comes again, like ring-dove fray'd and fled.

        Out went the taper as she hurried in;
        Its little smoke, in pallid moonshine, died:
        She clos'd the door, she panted, all akin
        To spirits of the air, and visions wide:
        No uttered syllable, or, woe betide!
        But to her heart, her heart was voluble,
        Paining with eloquence her balmy side;
        As though a tongueless nightingale should swell
        Her throat in vain, and die, heart-stifled, in her dell.

        A casement high and triple-arch'd there was,
        All garlanded with carven imag'ries
        Of fruits, and flowers, and bunches of knot-grass,
        And diamonded with panes of quaint device,
        Innumerable of stains and splendid dyes,
        As are the tiger-moth's deep-damask'd wings;
        And in the midst, 'mong thousand heraldries,
        And twilight saints, and dim emblazonings,
        A shielded scutcheon blush'd with blood of queens and kings.

        Full on this casement shone the wintry moon,
        And threw warm gules on Madeline's fair breast,
        As down she knelt for heaven's grace and boon;
        Rose-bloom fell on her hands, together prest,
        And on her silver cross soft amethyst,
        And on her hair a glory, like a saint:
        She seem'd a splendid angel, newly drest,
        Save wings, for heaven:--Porphyro grew faint:
        She knelt, so pure a thing, so free from mortal taint.

        Anon his heart revives: her vespers done,
        Of all its wreathed pearls her hair she frees;
        Unclasps her warmed jewels one by one;
        Loosens her fragrant boddice; by degrees
        Her rich attire creeps rustling to her knees:
        Half-hidden, like a mermaid in sea-weed,
        Pensive awhile she dreams awake, and sees,
        In fancy, fair St. Agnes in her bed,
        But dares not look behind, or all the charm is fled.

        Soon, trembling in her soft and chilly nest,
        In sort of wakeful swoon, perplex'd she lay,
        Until the poppied warmth of sleep oppress'd
        Her soothed limbs, and soul fatigued away;
        Flown, like a thought, until the morrow-day;
        Blissfully haven'd both from joy and pain;
        Clasp'd like a missal where swart Paynims pray;
        Blinded alike from sunshine and from rain,
        As though a rose should shut, and be a bud again.

        Stol'n to this paradise, and so entranced,
        Porphyro gaz'd upon her empty dress,
        And listen'd to her breathing, if it chanced
        To wake into a slumberous tenderness;
        Which when he heard, that minute did he bless,
        And breath'd himself: then from the closet crept,
        Noiseless as fear in a wide wilderness,
        And over the hush'd carpet, silent, stept,
        And 'tween the curtains peep'd, where, lo!--how fast she slept.

        Then by the bed-side, where the faded moon
        Made a dim, silver twilight, soft he set
        A table, and, half anguish'd, threw thereon
        A cloth of woven crimson, gold, and jet:--
        O for some drowsy Morphean amulet!
        The boisterous, midnight, festive clarion,
        The kettle-drum, and far-heard clarinet,
        Affray his ears, though but in dying tone:--
        The hall door shuts again, and all the noise is gone.

        And still she slept an azure-lidded sleep,
        In blanched linen, smooth, and lavender'd,
        While he forth from the closet brought a heap
        Of candied apple, quince, and plum, and gourd;
        With jellies soother than the creamy curd,
        And lucent syrops, tinct with cinnamon;
        Manna and dates, in argosy transferr'd
        From Fez; and spiced dainties, every one,
        From silken Samarcand to cedar'd Lebanon.

        These delicates he heap'd with glowing hand
        On golden dishes and in baskets bright
        Of wreathed silver: sumptuous they stand
        In the retired quiet of the night,
        Filling the chilly room with perfume light.--
        "And now, my love, my seraph fair, awake!
        Thou art my heaven, and I thine eremite:
        Open thine eyes, for meek St. Agnes' sake,
        Or I shall drowse beside thee, so my soul doth ache."

        Thus whispering, his warm, unnerved arm
        Sank in her pillow. Shaded was her dream
        By the dusk curtains:--'twas a midnight charm
        Impossible to melt as iced stream:
        The lustrous salvers in the moonlight gleam;
        Broad golden fringe upon the carpet lies:
        It seem'd he never, never could redeem
        From such a stedfast spell his lady's eyes;
        So mus'd awhile, entoil'd in woofed phantasies.

        Awakening up, he took her hollow lute,--
        Tumultuous,--and, in chords that tenderest be,
        He play'd an ancient ditty, long since mute,
        In Provence call'd, "La belle dame sans mercy":
        Close to her ear touching the melody;--
        Wherewith disturb'd, she utter'd a soft moan:
        He ceas'd--she panted quick--and suddenly
        Her blue affrayed eyes wide open shone:
        Upon his knees he sank, pale as smooth-sculptured stone.

        Her eyes were open, but she still beheld,
        Now wide awake, the vision of her sleep:
        There was a painful change, that nigh expell'd
        The blisses of her dream so pure and deep
        At which fair Madeline began to weep,
        And moan forth witless words with many a sigh;
        While still her gaze on Porphyro would keep;
        Who knelt, with joined hands and piteous eye,
        Fearing to move or speak, she look'd so dreamingly.

        "Ah, Porphyro!" said she, "but even now
        Thy voice was at sweet tremble in mine ear,
        Made tuneable with every sweetest vow;
        And those sad eyes were spiritual and clear:
        How chang'd thou art! how pallid, chill, and drear!
        Give me that voice again, my Porphyro,
        Those looks immortal, those complainings dear!
        Oh leave me not in this eternal woe,
        For if thy diest, my Love, I know not where to go."

        Beyond a mortal man impassion'd far
        At these voluptuous accents, he arose
        Ethereal, flush'd, and like a throbbing star
        Seen mid the sapphire heaven's deep repose;
        Into her dream he melted, as the rose
        Blendeth its odour with the violet,--
        Solution sweet: meantime the frost-wind blows
        Like Love's alarum pattering the sharp sleet
        Against the window-panes; St. Agnes' moon hath set.

        'Tis dark: quick pattereth the flaw-blown sleet:
        "This is no dream, my bride, my Madeline!"
        'Tis dark: the iced gusts still rave and beat:
        "No dream, alas! alas! and woe is mine!
        Porphyro will leave me here to fade and pine.--
        Cruel! what traitor could thee hither bring?
        I curse not, for my heart is lost in thine,
        Though thou forsakest a deceived thing;--
        A dove forlorn and lost with sick unpruned wing."

        "My Madeline! sweet dreamer! lovely bride!
        Say, may I be for aye thy vassal blest?
        Thy beauty's shield, heart-shap'd and vermeil dyed?
        Ah, silver shrine, here will I take my rest
        After so many hours of toil and quest,
        A famish'd pilgrim,--sav'd by miracle.
        Though I have found, I will not rob thy nest
        Saving of thy sweet self; if thou think'st well
        To trust, fair Madeline, to no rude infidel.

        "Hark! 'tis an elfin-storm from faery land,
        Of haggard seeming, but a boon indeed:
        Arise--arise! the morning is at hand;--
        The bloated wassaillers will never heed:--
        Let us away, my love, with happy speed;
        There are no ears to hear, or eyes to see,--
        Drown'd all in Rhenish and the sleepy mead:
        Awake! arise! my love, and fearless be,
        For o'er the southern moors I have a home for thee."

        She hurried at his words, beset with fears,
        For there were sleeping dragons all around,
        At glaring watch, perhaps, with ready spears--
        Down the wide stairs a darkling way they found.--
        In all the house was heard no human sound.
        A chain-droop'd lamp was flickering by each door;
        The arras, rich with horseman, hawk, and hound,
        Flutter'd in the besieging wind's uproar;
        And the long carpets rose along the gusty floor.

        They glide, like phantoms, into the wide hall;
        Like phantoms, to the iron porch, they glide;
        Where lay the Porter, in uneasy sprawl,
        With a huge empty flaggon by his side:
        The wakeful bloodhound rose, and shook his hide,
        But his sagacious eye an inmate owns:
        By one, and one, the bolts full easy slide:--
        The chains lie silent on the footworn stones;--
        The key turns, and the door upon its hinges groans.

        And they are gone: aye, ages long ago
        These lovers fled away into the storm.
        That night the Baron dreamt of many a woe,
        And all his warrior-guests, with shade and form
        Of witch, and demon, and large coffin-worm,
        Were long be-nightmar'd. Angela the old
        Died palsy-twitch'd, with meagre face deform;
        The Beadsman, after thousand aves told,
        For aye unsought for slept among his ashes cold.
      Up

      The Human Seasons
        Four Seasons fill the measure of the year;
        There are four seasons in the mind of man:
        He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear
        Takes in all beauty with an easy span:
        He has his Summer, when luxuriously
        Spring's honied cud of youthful thought he loves
        To ruminate, and by such dreaming high
        Is nearest unto heaven: quiet coves
        His soul has in its Autumn, when his wings
        He furleth close; contented so to look
        On mists in idleness--to let fair things
        Pass by unheeded as a threshold brook.
        He has his Winter too of pale misfeature,
        Or else he would forego his mortal nature.
      Up

      Think Of It Not, Sweet One
        Think not of it, sweet one, so;---
        Give it not a tear;
        Sigh thou mayst, and bid it go
        Any---anywhere.

        Do not lool so sad, sweet one,---
        Sad and fadingly;
        Shed one drop then,---it is gone---
        O 'twas born to die!

        Still so pale? then, dearest, weep;
        Weep, I'll count the tears,
        And each one shall be a bliss
        For thee in after years.

        Brighter has it left thine eyes
        Than a sunny rill;
        And thy whispering melodies
        Are tenderer still.

        Yet---as all things mourn awhile
        At fleeting blisses,
        E'en let us too! but be our dirge
        A dirge of kisses.
      Up

      This Living Hand
        This living hand, now warm and capable
        Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold
        And in the icy silence of the tomb,
        So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights
        That thou wouldst wish thine own heart dry of blood
        So in my veins red life might stream again,
        And thou be conscience-calmed - see here it is -
        I hold it towards you.
      Up


      To *
        Had I a man's fair form, then might my sighs
        Be echoed swiftly through that ivory shell,
        Thine ear, and find thy gentle heart; so well
        Would passion arm me for the enterprise:
        But ah! I am no knight whose foeman dies;
        No cuirass glistens on my bosom's swell;
        I am no happy shepherd of the dell
        Whose lips have trembled with a maiden's eyes.
        Yet must I dote upon thee,—call thee sweet,
        Sweeter by far than Hybla's honied roses
        When steeped in dew rich to intoxication.
        Ah! I will taste that dew, for me 'tis meet,
        And when the moon her pallid face discloses,
        I'll gather some by spells, and incantation.
      Up

      To A Friend Who Sent Me Some Roses
        As late I rambled in the happy fields,
        What time the skylark shakes the tremulous dew
        From his lush clover covert;—when anew
        Adventurous knights take up their dinted shields;
        I saw the sweetest flower wild nature yields,
        A fresh-blown musk-rose; 'twas the first that threw
        Its sweets upon the summer: graceful it grew
        As is the wand that Queen Titania wields.
        And, as I feasted on its fragrancy,
        I thought the garden-rose it far excelled;
        But when, O Wells! thy roses came to me,
        My sense with their deliciousness was spelled:
        Soft voices had they, that with tender plea
        Whispered of peace, and truth, and friendliness unquelled.
      Up

      To A Young Lady Who Sent Me A Laurel Crown
        Fresh morning gusts have blown away all fear
        From my glad bosom,—now from gloominess
        I mount for ever—not an atom less
        Than the proud laurel shall content my bier.
        No! by the eternal stars! or why sit here
        In the Sun's eye, and 'gainst my temples press
        Apollo's very leaves, woven to bless
        By thy white fingers and thy spirit clear.
        Lo! who dares say, "Do this"? Who dares call down
        My will from its high purpose? Who say,"Stand,"
        Or, "Go"? This mighty moment I would frown
        On abject Caesars—not the stoutest band
        Of mailed heroes should tear off my crown:
        Yet would I kneel and kiss thy gentle hand.
      Up

      To Ailsa Rock
        Hearken, thou craggy ocean-pyramid,
        Give answer by thy voice—the sea-fowls' screams!
        When were thy shoulders mantled in huge streams?
        When from the sun was thy broad forehead hid?
        How long is't since the mighty Power bid
        Thee heave to airy sleep from fathom dreams—
        Sleep in the lap of thunder or sunbeams—
        Or when grey clouds are thy cold coverlid!
        Thou answer'st not; for thou art dead asleep.
        Thy life is but two dead eternities,
        The last in air, the former in the deep!
        First with the whales, last with the eagle-skies!
        Drowned wast thou till an earthquake made thee steep,
        Another cannot wake thy giant-size!
      Up

      To Autumn
        I
        Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
        Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
        Conspiring with him how to load and bless
        With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
        To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
        And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
        To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
        With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
        And still more, later flowers for the bees,
        Until they think warm days will never cease,
        For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

        II
        Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
        Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
        Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
        Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
        Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
        Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
        Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
        And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
        Steady thy laden head across a brook;
        Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
        Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

        III
        Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
        Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
        While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
        And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
        Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
        Among the river sallows, borne aloft
        Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
        And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
        Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
        The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
        And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
      Up

      To Byron
        Byron! how sweetly sad thy melody!
        Attuning still the soul to tenderness,
        As if soft Pity, with unusual stress,
        Had touch'd her plaintive lute, and thou, being by,
        Hadst caught the tones, nor suffer'd them to die.
        O'ershadowing sorrow doth not make thee less
        Delightful: thou thy griefs dost dress
        With a bright halo, shining beamily,
        As when a cloud the golden moon doth veil,
        Its sides are ting'd with a resplendent glow,
        Through the dark robe oft amber rays prevail,
        And like fair veins in sable marble flow;
        Still warble, dying swan! still tell the tale,
        The enchanting tale, the tale of pleasing woe.
      Up

      Ode To Fanny
        Physician Nature! Let my spirit blood!
        O ease my heart of verse and let me rest;
        Throw me upon thy Tripod, till the flood
        Of stifling numbers ebbs from my full breast.
        A theme! a theme! great nature! give a theme;
        Let me begin my dream.
        I come -- I see thee, as thou standest there,
        Beckon me not into the wintry air.

        Ah! dearest love, sweet home of all my fears,
        And hopes, and joys, and panting miseries, --
        To-night, if I may guess, thy beauty wears
        A smile of such delight,
        As brilliant and as bright,
        As when with ravished, aching, vassal eyes,
        Lost in soft amaze,
        I gaze, I gaze!

        Who now, with greedy looks, eats up my feast?
        What stare outfaces now my silver moon!
        Ah! keep that hand unravished at the least;
        Let, let, the amorous burn --
        But pr'ythee, do not turn
        The current of your heart from me so soon.
        O! save, in charity,
        The quickest pulse for me.

        Save it for me, sweet love! though music breathe
        Voluptuous visions into the warm air;
        Though swimming through the dance's dangerous wreath,
        Be like an April day,
        Smiling and cold and gay,
        A temperate lilly, temperate as fair;
        Then, Heaven! there will be
        A warmer June for me.

        Why, this, you'll say, my Fanny! is not true:
        Put your soft hand upon your snowy side,
        Where the heart beats: confess -- 'tis nothing new --
        Must not a woman be
        A feather on the sea,
        Sway'd to and fro by every wind and tide?
        Of as uncertain speed
        As blow-ball from the mead?

        I know it -- and to know it is despair
        To one who loves you as I love, sweet Fanny!
        Whose heart goes fluttering for you every where,
        Nor, when away you roam,
        Dare keep its wretched home,
        Love, love alone, his pains severe and many:
        Then, loveliest! keep me free,
        From torturing jealousy.

        Ah! if you prize my subdued soul above
        The poor, the fading, brief, pride of an hour;
        Let none profane my Holy See of love,
        Or with a rude hand break
        The sacramental cake:
        Let none else touch the just new-budded flower;
        If not -- may my eyes close,
        Love! on their lost repose.
      Up

      To G.A.W.
        Nymph of the downward smile and sidelong glance!
        In what diviner moments of the day
        Art thou most lovely?—when gone far astray
        Into the labyrinths of sweet utterance,
        Or when serenely wandering in a trance
        Of sober thought? Or when starting away,
        With careless robe to meet the morning ray,
        Thou sparest the flowers in thy mazy dance?
        Haply 'tis when thy ruby lips part sweetly,
        And so remain, because thou listenest:
        But thou to please wert nurtured so completely
        That I can never tell what mood is best;
        I shall as soon pronounce which Grace more neatly
        Trips it before Apollo than the rest.
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      To Haydon
        Haydon! forgive me that I cannot speak
        Definitively of these mighty things;
        Forgive me, that I have not eagle's wings,
        That what I want I know not where to seek,
        And think that I would not be over-meek,
        In rolling out upfollowed thunderings,
        Even to the steep of Heliconian springs,
        Were I of ample strength for such a freak.
        Think, too, that all these numbers should be thine;
        Whose else? In this who touch thy vesture's hem?
        For, when men stared at what was most divine
        With brainless idiotism and o'erwise phlegm,
        Thou hadst beheld the full Hesperian shine
        Of their star in the east, and gone to worship them!
      Up

      To Homer
        Standing aloof in giant ignorance,
        Of thee I hear and of the Cyclades,
        As one who sits ashore and longs perchance
        To visit dolphin-coral in deep seas.
        So thou wast blind;--but then the veil was rent,
        For Jove uncurtain'd Heaven to let thee live,
        And Neptune made for thee a spumy tent,
        And Pan made sing for thee his forest-hive;
        Aye on the shores of darkness there is light,
        And precipices show untrodden green,
        There is a budding morrow in midnight,
        There is a triple sight in blindness keen;
        Such seeing hadst thou, as it once befel
        To Dian, Queen of Earth, and Heaven, and Hell.
      Up

      To Hope
        When by my solitary hearth I sit,
        And hateful thoughts enwrap my soul in gloom;
        When no fair dreams before my "mind's eye" flit,
        And the bare heath of life presents no bloom;
        Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed,
        And wave thy silver pinions o'er my head!

        Whene'er I wander, at the fall of night,
        Where woven boughs shut out the moon's bright ray,
        Should sad Despondency my musings fright,
        And frown, to drive fair Cheerfulness away,
        Peep with the moonbeams through the leafy roof,
        And keep that fiend Despondence far aloof!

        Should Disappointment, parent of Despair,
        Strive for her son to seize my careless heart;
        When, like a cloud, he sits upon the air,
        Preparing on his spell-bound prey to dart:
        Chase him away, sweet Hope, with visage bright,
        And fright him as the morning frightens night!

        Whene'er the fate of those I hold most dear
        Tells to my fearful breast a tale of sorrow,
        O bright-eyed Hope, my morbidfancy cheer;
        Let me awhile thy sweetest comforts borrow:
        Thy heaven-born radiance around me shed,
        And wave thy silver pinions o'er my head!

        Should e'er unhappy love my bosom pain,
        From cruel parents, or relentless fair;
        O let me think it is not quite in vain
        To sigh out sonnets to the midnight air!
        Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed,
        And wave thy silver pinions o'er my head!

        In the long vista of the years to roll,
        Let me not see our country's honour fade:
        O let me see our land retain her soul,
        Her pride, her freedom; and not freedom's shade.
        From thy bright eyes unusual brightness shed---
        Beneath thy pinions canopy my head!

        Let me not see the patriot's high bequest,
        Great Liberty! how great in plain attire!
        With the base purple of a court oppress'd,
        Bowing her head, and ready to expire:
        But let me see thee stoop from heaven on wings
        That fill the skies with silver glitterings!

        And as, in sparkling majesty, a star
        Gilds the bright summit of some gloomy cloud;
        Brightening the half veil'd face of heaven afar:
        So, when dark thoughts my boding spirit shroud,
        Sweet Hope, celestial influence round me shed,
        Waving thy silver pinions o'er my head!
      Up

      To John Hamilton Reynolds
        O that a week could be an age, and we
        Felt parting and warm meeting every week,
        Then one poor year a thousand years would be,
        The flush of welcome ever on the cheek:
        So could we live long life in little space,
        So time itself would be annihilate,
        So a day's journey in oblivious haze
        To serve ourjoys would lengthen and dilate.
        O to arrive each Monday morn from Ind!
        To land each Tuesday from the rich Levant!
        In little time a host of joys to bind,
        And keep our souls in one eternal pant!
        This morn, my friend, and yester-evening taught
        Me how to harbour such a happy thought.
      Up

      To Mrs. Reynolds' Cat
        Cat! who hast pass’d thy grand climacteric,
        How many mice and rats hast in thy days
        Destroy’d? How many tit bits stolen? Gaze
        With those bright languid segments green, and prick
        Those velvet ears - but pr’ythee do not stick
        Thy latent talons in me - and upraise
        Thy gentle mew - and tell me all thy frays,
        Of fish and mice, and rats and tender chick.
        Nay, look not down, nor lick thy dainty wrists -
        For all thy wheezy asthma - and for all
        Thy tail’s tip is nick’d off - and though the fists
        Of many a maid have given thee many a maul,
        Still is that fur as soft, as when the lists
        In youth thou enter’dest on glass bottled wall.
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      To My Brother George
        Many the wonders I this day have seen:
        The sun, when first he kissed away the tears
        That filled the eyes of Morn;—the laurelled peers
        Who from the feathery gold of evening lean;—
        The ocean with its vastness, its blue green,
        Its ships, its rocks, its caves, its hopes, its fears,
        Its voice mysterious, which whoso hears
        Must think on what will be, and what has been.
        E'en now, dear George, while this for you I write,
        Cynthia is from her silken curtains peeping
        So scantly, that it seems her bridal night,
        And she her half-discovered revels keeping.
        But what, without the social thought of thee,
        Would be the wonders of the sky and sea?
      Up


    To My Brothers
      Small, busy flames play through the fresh-laid coals,
      And their faint cracklings o'er our silence creep
      Like whispers of the household gods that keep
      A gentle empire o'er fraternal souls.
      And while for rhymes I search around the poles,
      Your eyes are fixed, as in poetic sleep,
      Upon the lore so voluble and deep,
      That aye at fall of night our care condoles.
      This is your birthday, Tom, and I rejoice
      That thus it passes smoothly, quietly:
      Many such eves of gently whispering noise
      May we together pass, and calmly try
      What are this world's true joys,—ere the great Voice
      From its fair face shall bid our spirits fly.
    Up

    To One Who Has Been Long In City Pent
      To one who has been long in city pent,
      'Tis very sweet to look into the fair
      And open face of heaven,--to breathe a prayer
      Full in the smile of the blue firmament.
      Who is more happy, when, with heart's content,
      Fatigued he sinks into some pleasant lair
      Of wavy grass, and reads a debonair
      And gentle tale of love and languishment?
      Returning home at evening, with an ear
      Catching the notes of Philomel,--an eye
      Watching the sailing cloudlet's bright career,
      He mourns that day so soon has glided by:
      E'en like the passage of an angel's tear
      That falls through the clear ether silently.
    Up

    To Sleep
      O soft embalmer of the still midnight,
      Shutting, with careful fingers and benign,
      Our gloom-pleas'd eyes, embower'd from the light,
      Enshaded in forgetfulness divine:
      O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close
      In midst of this thine hymn my willing eyes,
      Or wait the "Amen," ere thy poppy throws
      Around my bed its lulling charities.
      Then save me, or the passed day will shine
      Upon my pillow, breeding many woes,--
      Save me from curious Conscience, that still lords
      Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole;
      Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards,
      And seal the hushed Casket of my Soul.
    Up

    To Solitude
      O solitude! if I must with thee dwell,
      Let it not be among the jumbled heap
      Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep,—
      Nature's observatory—whence the dell,
      Its flowery slopes, its river's crystal swell,
      May seem a span; let me thy vigils keep
      'Mongst boughs pavillion'd, where the deer's swift leap
      Startles the wild bee from the fox-glove bell.
      But though I'll gladly trace these scenes with thee,
      Yet the sweet converse of an innocent mind,
      Whose words are images of thoughts refin'd,
      Is my soul's pleasure; and it sure must be
      Almost the highest bliss of human-kind,
      When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee.
    Up

    To The Nile
      Son of the old Moon-mountains African!
      Chief of the Pyramid and Crocodile!
      We call thee fruitful, and that very while
      A desert fills our seeing's inward span:
      Nurse of swart nations since the world began,
      Art thou so fruitful? or dost thou beguile
      Such men to honour thee, who, worn with toil,
      Rest for a space 'twixt Cairo and Decan?
      O may dark fancies err! They surely do;
      'Tis ignorance that makes a barren waste
      Of all beyond itself. Thou dost bedew
      Green rushes like our rivers, and dost taste
      The pleasant sunrise. Green isles hast thou too,
      And to the sea as happily dost haste.
    Up

    When I Have Fears That I May Cease
      When I have fears that I may cease to be
      Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
      Before high-piled books, in charactery,
      Hold like rich garners the full ripen'd grain;
      When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
      Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
      And think that I may never live to trace
      Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
      And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
      That I shall never look upon thee more,
      Never have relish in the faery power
      Of unreflecting love;--then on the shore
      Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
      Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.
    Up

    Where Be Ye Going, You Devon Maid?
      Where be ye going, you Devon maid?
      And what have ye there i' the basket?
      Ye tight little fairy, just fresh from the dairy,
      Will ye give me some cream if I ask it?

      I love your meads, and I love your flowers,
      And I love your junkets mainly,
      But 'hind the door, I love kissing more,
      O look not so disdainly!

      I love your hills, and I love your dales,
      And I love your flocks a-bleating;
      But O, on the heather to lie together,
      With both our hearts a-beating!

      I'll put your basket all safe in a nook,
      Your shawl I'll hang up on this willow,
      And we will sigh in the daisy's eye,
      And kiss on a grass-green pillow.
    Up

    Where's The Poet?
      Where's the Poet? show him! show him,
      Muses nine! that I may know him.
      'Tis the man who with a man
      Is an equal, be he King,
      Or poorest of the beggar-clan
      Or any other wonderous thing
      A man may be 'twixt ape and Plato;
      'Tis the man who with a bird,
      Wren or Eagle, finds his way to
      All its instincts; he hath heard
      The Lion's roaring, and can tell
      What his horny throat expresseth,
      And to him the Tiger's yell
      Come articulate and presseth
      Or his ear like mother-tongue.
    Up

    Why Did I Laugh Tonight? No Voice Will Tell
      Why did I laugh tonight? No voice will tell:
      No God, no Demon of severe response,
      Deigns to reply from Heaven or from Hell.
      Then to my human heart I turn at once.
      Heart! Thou and I are here, sad and alone;
      I say, why did I laugh? O mortal pain!
      O Darkness! Darkness! ever must I moan,
      To question Heaven and Hell and Heart in vain.
      Why did I laugh? I know this Being's lease,
      My fancy to its utmost blisses spreads;
      Yet would I on this very midnight cease,
      And the world's gaudy ensigns see in shreds;
      Verse, Fame, and Beauty are intense indeed,
      But Death intenser—Death is Life's high meed.
    Up

    Written Before Re-Reading King Lear
      O golden-tongued Romance with serene lute!
      Fair plumed Syren! Queen of far away!
      Leave melodizing on this wintry day,
      Shut up thine olden pages, and be mute.
      Adieu! for once again the fierce dispute
      Betwixt damnation and impassioned clay
      Must I burn through; once more humbly assay
      The bitter-sweet of this Shakespearian fruit.
      Chief Poet! and ye clouds of Albion,
      Begetters of our deep eternal theme,
      When through the old oak Forest I am gone,
      Let me not wander in a barren dream,
      But when I am consumed in the Fire,
      Give me new Phoenix wings to fly at my desire.
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    Written On A Blank Space At The End Of Chaucer's Tale Of The Flowre And The Lefe
      This pleasant tale is like a little copse:
      The honied lines so freshly interlace,
      To keep the reader in so sweet a place,
      So that he here and there full-hearted stops;
      And oftentimes he feels the dewy drops
      Come cool and suddenly against his face,
      And, by the wandering melody, may trace
      Which way the tender-legged linnet hops.
      Oh! what a power has white Simplicity!
      What mighty power has this gentle story!
      I, that do ever feel athirst for glory,
      Could at this moment be content to lie
      Meekly upon the grass, as those whose sobbings
      Were heard of none beside the mournful robins.
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    Written On A Summer Evening
      The church bells toll a melancholy round,
      Calling the people to some other prayers,
      Some other gloominess, more dreadful cares,
      More harkening to the sermon's horrid sound.
      Surely the mind of man is closely bound
      In some blind spell: seeing that each one tears
      Himself from fireside joys and Lydian airs,
      And converse high of those with glory crowned.
      Still, still they toll, and I should feel a damp,
      A chill as from a tomb, did I not know
      That they are dying like an outburnt lamp,—
      That 'tis their sighing, wailing, ere they go
      Into oblivion—that fresh flowers will grow,
      And many glories of immortal stamp.
    Up

    Written On The Day That Mr. Leigh Hunt Left Prison
      What though, for showing truth to flattered state,
      Kind Hunt was shut in prison, yet has he,
      In his immortal spirit, been as free
      As the sky-searching lark, and as elate.
      Minion of grandeur! think you he did wait?
      Think you he nought but prison-walls did see,
      Till, so unwilling, thou unturnedst the key?
      Ah, no! far happier, nobler was his fate!
      In Spenser's halls he strayed, and bowers fair,
      Culling enchanted flowers; and he flew
      With daring Milton through the fields of air:
      To regions of his own his genius true
      Took happy flights. Who shall his fame impair
      When thou art dead, and all thy wretched crew?
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