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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 poison'd 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 loved 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 ceased to pass
Fleet as an arrow through unfathom'd brine,
Until there shone B 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 Seylla 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,
"On a day,
O they had all been saved but crazed eld
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 emerged an old man's hand,
Grasping this scroll, and this same slender wand.
I knelt with pain—reach'd out my hand—had grasp'd These treasures—touch'd the knuckles — they un
"' In the wide sea there lives a forlorn wretch,
The meanings of all motions, shapes, and sounds;
"Then," cried the young Endymion, overjoy'd,
Poor lovers lay at rest from joys and woes.
The stranger from the mountains, breathless, traced
Such thousands of shut eyes in order placed;
Such ranges of white feet, and patient lips
All ruddy,—Tor 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 aughtt 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 breathed 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