Page images

Fall ankle-deep in lilies of the vale.

The nightingale had ceased, and a few stars

Were lingering in the heavens, while the thrush

Began calm-throated. Throughout all the isle

There was no covert, no retired cave

Unhannted by the murmurous noise of waves,

Though scarcely heard in many a green recess.

He listened, and he wept, and his bright tears

Went trickling down the golden bow he held.

Thus with half-shut suffused eyes he stood,

While from beneath some cumbrous boughs hard by

With solemn step an awful Goddess came,

And there was purport in her looks for hrwnJ

Which he with eager guess began to read

Perplex'd, the while melodiously he said:

"How earnest thou over the unfooted sea?

Or hath that antique mien and robed form

Moved in these vales invisible till now?

Sure I have heard those vestments sweeping o'er

The fallen leaves, when I have sat alone

In cool mid forest. Surely I have traced

The rustle of those ample skirts about

These grassy solitudes, and seen the flowers

Lift up their heads, as still the whisper pass'd.

Goddess! I have beheld those eyes before,

And their eternal calm, and all that face,

Or I have dream'd."—" Yes," said the supreme shape,

"Thou hast dream'd of me; and awaking up

Didst find a lyre all golden by thy side,

Whose strings touch'd by thy fingers, all the vast

Unwearied ear of the whole universe

Listen'd in pain and pleasure at the birth

Of such new tuneful wonder. Is 't not strange

That thou shouldst weep, so gifted? Tell me, youth,

What sorrow thou canst feel; for I am sad

When thou dost shed a tear: explain thy griefs

To one who in this lonely isle hath been

The watcher of thy sleep and hours of life,

From the young day when first thy infant hand

Pluck'd witless the weak flowers, till thine ami

Could bend that bow heroic to all times.

Show thy heart's secret to an ancient Power

Who hath forsaken old and sacred thrones

Fox- prophecies of thee, and for the sake

Of loveliness new-born."—Apollo then,

With sudden scrutiny and gloomless eyes,

Thus answer'd, while his white melodious throat

Throbb'd with the syllables:—" Mnemosyne!

Thy name is on my tongue, I know not how;

Why should I tell thee what thou so well seest?

Why should I strive to show what from thy lips

Would come no mystery? For me, dark, dark,

And painful vile oblivion seals my eyes:

I strive to search wherefore I am so sad,

Until a melancholy numbs my limbs;

And then upon the grass I sit, and moan,

Like one who once had wings.—O why should I

Feel cursed and thwarted, when the liegeless air

Yields to my step aspirant? why should I

Spurn the green turf as hateful to my feet?

Goddess benign! point forth some unknown thing:

Are there not other regions than this isle?

What are the stars? There is the sun, the sun!

And the most patient brilliance of the moon!

And stars by thousands! Point me out the way

To any one particular beauteous star,

And I will flit into it with my lyre,

And make its silvery splendour pant with bliss.

I have heard the cloudy thunder: Where is power?

Whose hand, whose essence, what divinity

Makes this alarm in the elements,

While I here idle listen on the shores

In fearless yet in aching ignorance?

O tell me, lonely Goddess! by thy harp,

That waileth every morn and eventide,

Tell me why thus I rave, about these groves!

Mute thou remainest—Mute? yet I can read

A wondrous lesson in thy silent face:

Knowledge enormous makes a God of me.

Names, deeds, grey legends, dire events, rebellions,

Majesties, sovran voices, agonies,

Creations and destroyings, all at once

Pour into the wide hollows of my brain,

And deify me, as if some blithe wine

Or bright elixir peerless I had drunk,

And so become immortal."—Thus the God,

While his enkindled eyes, with level glance

Beneath his white soft temples, steadfast kept

Trembling with light upon Mnemosyne.

Soon wild commotion, shook him, and made flush

All the immortal fairness of his limbs:

Most like the struggle at the gate of death;

Or liker still to one who should take leave

Of pale immortal death, and with a pang

As hot as death's is chill, with fierce convulse

Die into life: so young Apollo anguish'd;

His very hair, his golden tresses famed

Kept undulation round his eager neck.

During the pain Mnemosyne upheld

Her arms as one who prophesied.—At length

Apollo shriek'd ;—and lo! from all his limbs

Celestial • • * * •


What more felicity can fall to creature
Than to enjoy delight with liberty?

Fate of the Butterfly.—Brantsa.



Glory and Loveliness have pass'd away;

For if we wander out in early morn,

No wreathed incense do we see upborne
Into the east to meet the smiling day:
No crowd of nymphs soft-voiced and young and (

In woven baskets brioginz ears of corn,
Roses, and pinks, and violets, to adorn
The shrine of Flora in her early May.
But there are left delights as high as these.

And I shall ever bless my destiny,
That in a time when under pleasant trees

Pan is no longer sought, I feel a free, A leafy luxury, seeing I could please

With these poor offerings, a man like thee.

Places of nestling green for poets made.

Story of Rimini.

I STOod tiptoe upon a little hill,

The air was cooling, and so very still,

That the sweet buds which with a modest pride

Pull droopingly, in slanting curve aside,

Their scanty-leaved, and finely-tapering stems,

Had not yet lost their starry diadems

Caught from the early sobbing of the morn.

The clouds were pure and white as flocks new-shorn,

And fresh from the clear brook; sweetly they slept

On the blue fields of heaven, and then there crept

A little noiseless noise among the leaves,

Born of the very sigh that silence heaves;

For not the faintest motion could be seen

Of all the shades that slanted o'er the green.

There was wide wandering for the greediest eye,

To peer about upon variety;

Far round the horizon's crystal air to skim,

And trace the dwindled edgings of its brim;

To picture out the quaint and curious bending

Of a fresh woodland alley never-ending:

Or by the bowery clefts, and leafy shelves,

Guess where the jaunty streams refresh themselves.

I gazed awhile, and felt as light, and free

As though the fanning wings of Mercury

Had play'd upon my heels: I was light-hearted,

And many pleasures to my vision started;

So I straightway began to pluck a posy

Of luxuries bright, milky, soft and rosy.

A bush of May-flowers with the bees about them;

Ah, sure no tasteful nook could be without them!

« PreviousContinue »