Part 2 out of 5
Sand raked his sores from heel to pate,
The hot wind fever'd him five-fold.
"He gazed upon me as I pass'd
And murmur'd: _Help me, or I die!_-- 50
To the poor wretch my cloak I cast,
Saw him look eased, and hurried by.
"Oh, Brandan, think what grace divine,
What blessing must full goodness shower,
When fragment of it small, like mine, 55
Hath such inestimable power!
"Well-fed, well-clothed, well-friended, I
Did that chance act of good, that one!
Then went my way to kill and lie--
Forgot my good as soon as done. 60
"That germ of kindness, in the womb
Of mercy caught, did not expire;
Outlives my guilt, outlives my doom,
And friends me in the pit of fire.
"Once every year, when carols wake, 65
On earth, the Christmas-night's repose,
Arising from the sinner's lake,
I journey to these healing snows.
"I stanch with ice my burning breast,
With silence balm my whirling brain. 70
Oh, Brandan! to this hour of rest
That Joppan leper's ease was pain."--
Tears started to Saint Brandan's eyes;
He bow'd his head, he breathed a prayer--
Then look'd, and lo, the frosty skies! 75
The iceberg, and no Judas there!
THE FORSAKEN MERMAN deg.
Come, dear children, let us away;
Down and away below!
Now my brothers call from the bay,
Now the great winds shoreward blow,
Now the salt tides seaward flow; 5
Now the wild white horses deg. play, deg.6
Champ and chafe and toss in the spray.
Children dear, let us away!
This way, this way!
Call her once before you go-- 10
Call once yet!
In a voice that she will know:
"Margaret deg.! Margaret!" deg.13
Children's voices should be dear
(Call once more) to a mother's ear; 15
Children's voices, wild with pain--
Surely she will come again!
Call her once and come away;
This way, this way!
"Mother dear, we cannot stay! 20
The wild white horses foam and fret."
Come, dear children, come away down;
Call no more!
One last look at the white-wall'd town, 25
And the little grey church on the windy shore;
Then come down!
She will not come though you call all day;
Come away, come away!
Children dear, was it yesterday 30
We heard the sweet bells over the bay?
In the caverns where we lay,
Through the surf and through the swell,
The far-off sound of a silver bell?
Sand-strewn caverns, cool and deep, 35
Where the winds are all asleep;
Where the spent lights quiver and gleam,
Where the salt weed sways in the stream,
Where the sea-beasts, ranged deg. all round, deg.39
Feed in the ooze of their pasture-ground; 40
Where the sea-snakes coil and twine,
Dry their mail deg. and bask in the brine; deg.42
Where great whales come sailing by,
Sail and sail, with unshut eye,
Round the world for ever and aye? 45
When did music come this way?
Children dear, was it yesterday?
Children dear, was it yesterday
(Call yet once) that she went away?
Once she sate with you and me, 50
On a red gold throne in the heart of the sea,
And the youngest sate on her knee.
She comb'd its bright hair, and she tended it well,
When down swung the sound of a far-off bell. deg. deg.54
She sigh'd, she look'd up through the clear green sea; 55
She said: "I must go, for my kinsfolk pray
In the little grey church on the shore to-day.
'Twill be Easter-time in the world--ah me!
And I lose my poor soul, Merman! here with thee."
I said: "Go up, dear heart, through the waves; 60
Say thy prayer, and come back to the kind sea-caves!"
She smiled, she went up through the surf in the bay.
Children dear, was it yesterday?
Children dear, were we long alone?
"The sea grows stormy, the little ones moan; 65
Long prayers," I said, "in the world they say;
Come!" I said; and we rose through the surf in the bay.
We went up the beach, by the sandy down
Where the sea-stocks bloom, to the white-wall'd town;
Through the narrow paved streets, where all was still, 70
To the little grey church on the windy hill.
From the church came a murmur of folk at their prayers,
But we stood without in the cold blowing airs.
We climb'd on the graves, on the stones worn with rains,
And we gazed up the aisle through the small leaded panes. 75
She sate by the pillar; we saw her clear:
"Margaret, hist! come quick, we are here!
Dear heart," I said, "we are long alone;
The sea grows stormy, the little ones moan."
But, ah, she gave me never a look, 80
For her eyes were seal'd deg. to the holy book! deg.81
Loud prays the priest; shut stands the door.
Come away, children, call no more!
Come away, come down, call no more!
Down, down, down! 85
Down to the depths of the sea!
She sits at her wheel in the humming town,
Singing most joyfully.
Hark what she sings: "O joy, O joy,
For the humming street, and the child with its toy! 90
For the priest, and the bell, and the holy well;
For the wheel where I spun,
And the blessed light of the sun deg.!" deg.93
And so she sings her fill,
Singing most joyfully, 95
Till the spindle drops from her hand,
And the whizzing wheel stands still.
She steals to the window, and looks at the sand,
And over the sand at the sea;
And her eyes are set in a stare; 100
And anon there breaks a sigh,
And anon there drops a tear,
From a sorrow-clouded eye,
And a heart sorrow-laden,
A long, long sigh; 105
For the cold strange eyes of a little Mermaiden
And the gleam of her golden hair.
Come away, away, children;
Come children, come down!
The hoarse wind blows coldly; 110
Lights shine in the town.
She will start from her slumber
When gusts shake the door;
She will hear the winds howling,
Will hear the waves roar. 115
We shall see, while above us
The waves roar and whirl,
A ceiling of amber,
A pavement of pearl.
Singing: "Here came a mortal, 120
But faithless was she!
And alone dwell for ever
The kings of the sea."
But, children, at midnight,
When soft the winds blow, 125
When clear falls the moonlight,
When spring-tides are low;
When sweet airs come seaward
From heaths starr'd with broom, deg. deg.129
And high rocks throw mildly 130
On the blanch'd sands a gloom;
Up the still, glistening beaches,
Up the creeks we will hie,
Over banks of bright seaweed
The ebb-tide leaves dry. 135
We will gaze, from the sand-hills,
At the white, sleeping town;
At the church on the hill-side--
And then come back down.
Singing: "There dwells a loved one, 140
But cruel is she!
She left lonely for ever
The kings of the sea."
TRISTRAM AND ISEULT deg.
_Tristram_. Is she not come deg.? The messenger was sure--
Prop me upon the pillows once again--
Raise me, my page! this cannot long endure.
--Christ, what a night! how the sleet whips the pane!
What lights will those out to the northward be deg.? deg.5
_The Page_. The lanterns of the fishing-boats at sea.
_Tristram_. Soft--who is that, stands by the dying fire?
_The Page_. Iseult. deg. deg.8
_Tristram_. Ah! not the Iseult I desire.
* * * * *
What Knight is this so weak and pale,
Though the locks are yet brown on his noble head, 10
Propt on pillows in his bed,
Gazing seaward for the light
Of some ship that fights the gale
On this wild December night?
Over the sick man's feet is spread 15
A dark green forest-dress;
A gold harp leans against the bed,
Ruddy in the fire's light.
I know him by his harp of gold,
Famous in Arthur's court deg. of old; deg.20
I know him by his forest-dress--
The peerless hunter, harper, knight,
Tristram of Lyoness. deg. deg.23
What Lady is this, whose silk attire
Gleams so rich in the light of the fire? 25
The ringlets on her shoulders lying
In their flitting lustre vying
With the clasp of burnish'd gold
Which her heavy robe doth hold.
Her looks are mild, her fingers slight 30
As the driven snow are white deg.; deg.31
But her cheeks are sunk and pale.
Is it that the bleak sea-gale
Beating from the Atlantic sea
On this coast of Brittany, 35
Nips too keenly the sweet flower?
Is it that a deep fatigue
Hath come on her, a chilly fear,
Passing all her youthful hour
Spinning with her maidens here, 40
Listlessly through the window-bars
Gazing seawards many a league,
From her lonely shore-built tower,
While the knights are at the wars?
Or, perhaps, has her young heart 45
Felt already some deeper smart,
Of those that in secret the heart-strings rive,
Leaving her sunk and pale, though fair?
Who is this snowdrop by the sea?--
I know her by her mildness rare, 50
Her snow-white hands, her golden hair;
I know her by her rich silk dress,
And her fragile loveliness--
The sweetest Christian soul alive,
Iseult of Brittany. 55
Iseult of Brittany?--but where
Is that other Iseult fair,
That proud, first Iseult, Cornwall's queen?
She, whom Tristram's ship of yore
From Ireland to Cornwall bore, 60
To Tyntagel, deg. to the side deg.61
Of King Marc, deg. to be his bride? deg.62
She who, as they voyaged, quaff'd
With Tristram that spiced magic draught,
Which since then for ever rolls 65
Through their blood, and binds their souls,
Working love, but working teen deg.?--. deg.67
There were two Iseults who did sway
Each her hour of Tristram's day;
But one possess'd his waning time, 70
The other his resplendent prime.
Behold her here, the patient flower,
Who possess'd his darker hour!
Iseult of the Snow-White Hand
Watches pale by Tristram's bed. 75
She is here who had his gloom,
Where art thou who hadst his bloom?
One such kiss as those of yore
Might thy dying knight restore!
Does the love-draught work no more? 80
Art thou cold, or false, or dead,
Iseult of Ireland?
* * * * *
Loud howls the wind, sharp patters the rain,
And the knight sinks back on his pillows again.
He is weak with fever and pain; 85
And his spirit is not clear.
Hark! he mutters in his sleep,
As he wanders deg. far from here, deg.88
Changes place and time of year,
And his closed eye doth sweep 90
O'er some fair unwintry sea, deg. deg.91
Not this fierce Atlantic deep,
While he mutters brokenly:--
_Tristram_. The calm sea shines, loose hang the vessel's sails;
Before us are the sweet green fields of Wales, 95
And overhead the cloudless sky of May.--
_"Ah, would I were in those green fields at play,
Not pent on ship-board this delicious day!
Tristram, I pray thee, of thy courtesy,
Reach me my golden phial stands by thee, 100
But pledge me in it first for courtesy."_--
Ha! dost thou start? are thy lips blanch'd like mine?
Child, 'tis no true draught this, 'tis poison'd wine!
* * * * *
Ah, sweet angels, let him dream! 105
Keep his eyelids! let him seem
Not this fever-wasted wight
Thinn'd and paled before his time,
But the brilliant youthful knight
In the glory of his prime, 110
Sitting in the gilded barge,
At thy side, thou lovely charge,
Bending gaily o'er thy hand,
Iseult of Ireland!
And she too, that princess fair, 115
If her bloom be now less rare,
Let her have her youth again--
Let her be as she was then!
Let her have her proud dark eyes,
And her petulant quick replies-- 120
Let her sweep her dazzling hand
With its gesture of command,
And shake back her raven hair
With the old imperious air!
As of old, so let her be, 125
That first Iseult, princess bright,
Chatting with her youthful knight
As he steers her o'er the sea,
Quitting at her father's will
The green isle deg. where she was bred, deg.130
And her bower in Ireland,
For the surge-beat Cornish strand
Where the prince whom she must wed
Dwells on loud Tyntagel's hill, deg. deg.134
High above the sounding sea. 135
And that potion rare her mother
Gave her, that her future lord,
Gave her, that King Marc and she,
Might drink it on their marriage-day,
And for ever love each other-- 140
Let her, as she sits on board,
Ah, sweet saints, unwittingly!
See it shine, and take it up,
And to Tristram laughing say:
"Sir Tristram, of thy courtesy, 145
Pledge me in my golden cup!"
Let them drink it--let their hands
Tremble, and their cheeks be flame,
As they feel the fatal bands
Of a love they dare not name, 150
With a wild delicious pain,
Twine about their hearts again!
Let the early summer be
Once more round them, and the sea
Blue, and o'er its mirror kind 155
Let the breath of the May-wind,
Wandering through their drooping sails,
Die on the green fields of Wales!
Let a dream like this restore
What his eye must see no more! deg. deg.160
_Tristram_. Chill blows the wind, the pleasaunce-walks deg. are drear-- deg.161
Madcap, what jest was this, to meet me here?
Were feet like those made for so wild a way?
The southern winter-parlour, by my fay, deg. deg.164
Had been the likeliest trysting-place to-day! 165
_"Tristram!--nay, nay--thou must not take my hand!--
Tristram!--sweet love!--we are betray'd--out-plann'd.
Fly--save thyself--save me!--I dare not stay."_--
One last kiss first!--_"'Tis vain--to horse--away!"_
* * * * *
Ah! sweet saints, his dream doth move 170
Faster surely than it should,
From the fever in his blood!
All the spring-time of his love
Is already gone and past,
And instead thereof is seen 175
Its winter, which endureth still--
Tyntagel on its surge-beat hill,
The pleasaunce-walks, the weeping queen,
The flying leaves, the straining blast,
And that long, wild kiss--their last. deg. deg.180
And this rough December-night,
And his burning fever-pain,
Mingle with his hurrying dream,
Till they rule it, till he seem
The press'd fugitive again, 185
The love-desperate banish'd knight
With a fire in his brain
Flying o'er the stormy main.
--Whither does he wander now?
Haply in his dreams the wind 190
Wafts him here, and lets him find
The lovely orphan child deg. again deg. deg.192
In her castle by the coast;
The youngest, fairest chatelaine, deg. deg.194
Whom this realm of France can boast, 195
Our snowdrop by the Atlantic sea,
Iseult of Brittany.
And--for through the haggard air,
The stain'd arms, the matted hair
Of that stranger-knight ill-starr'd, deg. deg.200
There gleam'd something, which recall'd
The Tristram who in better days
Was Launcelot's guest at Joyous Gard deg.-- deg.203
Welcomed here, deg. and here install'd, deg.204
Tended of his fever here, 205
Haply he seems again to move
His young guardian's heart with love
In his exiled loneliness,
In his stately, deep distress,
Without a word, without a tear. 210
--Ah! 'tis well he should retrace
His tranquil life in this lone place;
His gentle bearing at the side
Of his timid youthful bride;
His long rambles by the shore 215
On winter-evenings, when the roar
Of the near waves came, sadly grand,
Through the dark, up the drown'd sand,
Or his endless reveries
In the woods, where the gleams play 220
On the grass under the trees,
Passing the long summer's day
Idle as a mossy stone
In the forest-depths alone,
The chase neglected, and his hound 225
Couch'd beside him on the ground. deg. deg.226
--Ah! what trouble's on his brow?
Hither let him wander now;
Hither, to the quiet hours
Pass'd among these heaths of ours. 230
By the grey Atlantic sea;
Hours, if not of ecstasy,
From violent anguish surely free!
_Tristram_. All red with blood the whirling river flows,
The wide plain rings, the dazed air throbs with blows. 235
Upon us are the chivalry of Rome--
Their spears are down, their steeds are bathed in foam. deg. deg.237
"Up, Tristram, up," men cry, "thou moonstruck knight deg.! deg.238
What foul fiend rides thee deg.? On into the fight!" deg.239
--Above the din her deg. voice is in my ears; deg.240
I see her form glide through the crossing spears.--
* * * * *
Ah! he wanders forth again deg.; deg.243
We cannot keep him; now, as then,
There's a secret in his breast deg. deg.245
Which will never let him rest.
These musing fits in the green wood
They cloud the brain, they dull the blood!
--His sword is sharp, his horse is good;
Beyond the mountains will he see 250
The famous towns of Italy,
And label with the blessed sign deg. deg.252
The heathen Saxons on the Rhine.
At Arthur's side he fights once more
With the Roman Emperor. deg. deg.255
There's many a gay knight where he goes
Will help him to forget his care;
The march, the leaguer, deg. Heaven's blithe air, deg.258
The neighing steeds, the ringing blows--
Sick pining comes not where these are. 260
Ah! what boots it, deg. that the jest deg.261
Lightens every other brow,
What, that every other breast
Dances as the trumpets blow,
If one's own heart beats not light 265
On the waves of the toss'd fight,
If oneself cannot get free
From the clog of misery?
Thy lovely youthful wife grows pale
Watching by the salt sea-tide 270
With her children at her side
For the gleam of thy white sail.
Home, Tristram, to thy halls again!
To our lonely sea complain,
To our forests tell thy pain! 275
_Tristram_. All round the forest sweeps off, black in shade,
But it is moonlight in the open glade;
And in the bottom of the glade shine clear
The forest-chapel and the fountain near.
--I think, I have a fever in my blood; 280
Come, let me leave the shadow of this wood,
Ride down, and bathe my hot brow in the flood.
--Mild shines the cold spring in the moon's clear light;
God! 'tis _her_ face plays in the waters bright.
"Fair love," she says, "canst thou forget so soon, 285
At this soft hour under this sweet moon?"--
* * * * *
Ah, poor soul! if this be so,
Only death can balm thy woe.
The solitudes of the green wood 290
Had no medicine for thy mood;
The rushing battle clear'd thy blood
As little as did solitude.
--Ah! his eyelids slowly break
Their hot seals, and let him wake; 295
What new change shall we now see?
A happier? Worse it cannot be.
_Tristram_. Is my page here? Come, turn me to the fire!
Upon the window-panes the moon shines bright;
The wind is down--but she'll not come to-night. 300
Ah no! she is asleep in Cornwall now,
Far hence; her dreams are fair--smooth is her brow
Of me she recks not, deg. nor my vain desire. deg.303
--I have had dreams, I have had dreams, my page,
Would take a score years from a strong man's age; 305
And with a blood like mine, will leave, I fear,
Scant leisure for a second messenger.
--My princess, art thou there? Sweet, do not wait!
To bed, and sleep! my fever is gone by;
To-night my page shall keep me company. 310
Where do the children sleep? kiss them for me!
Poor child, thou art almost as pale as I;
This comes of nursing long and watching late.
To bed--good night! deg. deg.314
* * * * *
She left the gleam-lit fireplace, 315
She came to the bed-side;
She took his hands in hers--her tears
Down on his wasted fingers rain'd.
She raised her eyes upon his face--
Not with a look of wounded pride, 320
A look as if the heart complained--
Her look was like a sad embrace;
The gaze of one who can divine
A grief, and sympathise.
Sweet flower! thy children's eyes 325
Are not more innocent than thine.
But they sleep in shelter'd rest,
Like helpless birds in the warm nest,
On the castle's southern side;
Where feebly comes the mournful roar 330
Of buffeting wind and surging tide
Through many a room and corridor.
--Full on their window the moon's ray
Makes their chamber as bright as day.
It shines upon the blank white walls, 335
And on the snowy pillow falls,
And on two angel-heads doth play
Turn'd to each other--the eyes closed,
The lashes on the cheeks reposed.
Round each sweet brow the cap close-set 340
Hardly lets peep the golden hair;
Through the soft-open'd lips the air
Scarcely moves the coverlet.
One little wandering arm is thrown
At random on the counterpane, 345
And often the fingers close in haste
As if their baby-owner chased
The butterflies again.
This stir they have, and this alone; 350
But else they are so still!
--Ah, tired madcaps! you lie still;
But were you at the window now,
To look forth on the fairy sight
Of your illumined haunts by night, 355
To see the park-glades where you play
Far lovelier than they are by day,
To see the sparkle on the eaves,
And upon every giant-bough
Of those old oaks, whose wet red leaves 360
Are jewell'd with bright drops of rain--
How would your voices run again!
And far beyond the sparkling trees
Of the castle-park one sees
The bare heaths spreading, clear as day, 365
Moor behind moor, far, far away,
Into the heart of Brittany.
And here and there, lock'd by the land,
Long inlets of smooth glittering sea,
And many a stretch of watery sand 370
All shining in the white moon-beams--
But you see fairer in your dreams!
What voices are these on the clear night-air?
What lights in the court--what steps on the stair?
ISEULT OF IRELAND deg.
_Tristram_. Raise the light, my page! that I may see her.--
Thou art come at last, then, haughty Queen!
Long I've waited, long I've fought my fever;
Late thou comest, cruel thou hast been.
_Iseult_. Blame me not, poor sufferer! that I tarried; 5
Bound I was, I could not break the band.
Chide not with the past, but feel the present!
I am here--we meet--I hold thy hand.
_Tristram_. Thou art come, indeed--thou hast rejoin'd me;
Thou hast dared it--but too late to save. 10
Fear not now that men should tax thine honour!
I am dying: build--(thou may'st)--my grave!
_Iseult_. Tristram, ah, for love of Heaven, speak kindly!
What, I hear these bitter words from thee?
Sick with grief I am, and faint with travel-- 15
Take my hand--dear Tristram, look on me!
_Tristram_. I forgot, thou comest from thy voyage--
Yes, the spray is on thy cloak and hair.
But thy dark eyes are not dimm'd, proud Iseult!
And thy beauty never was more fair. 20
_Iseult_. Ah, harsh flatterer! let alone my beauty!
I, like thee, have left my youth afar.
Take my hand, and touch these wasted fingers--
See my cheek and lips, how white they are!
_Tristram_. Thou art paler--but thy sweet charm, Iseult! 25
Would not fade with the dull years away.
Ah, how fair thou standest in the moonlight!
I forgive thee, Iseult!--thou wilt stay?
_Iseult_. Fear me not, I will be always with thee;
I will watch thee, tend thee, soothe thy pain; 30
Sing thee tales of true, long-parted lovers,
Join'd at evening of their days again.
_Tristram_. No, thou shalt not speak! I should be finding
Something alter'd in thy courtly tone.
Sit--sit by me! I will think, we've lived so 35
In the green wood, all our lives, alone.
_Iseult_. Alter'd, Tristram? Not in courts, believe me,
Love like mine is alter'd in the breast;
Courtly life is light and cannot reach it--
Ah! it lives, because so deep-suppress'd! 40
What, thou think'st men speak in courtly chambers
Words by which the wretched are consoled?
What, thou think'st this aching brow was cooler,
Circled, Tristram, by a band of gold?
Royal state with Marc, my deep-wrong'd husband-- 45
That was bliss to make my sorrows flee!
Silken courtiers whispering honied nothings deg.--
Those were friends to make me false to thee!
Ah, on which, if both our lots were balanced,
Was indeed the heaviest burden thrown-- 50
Thee, a pining exile in thy forest,
Me, a smiling queen upon my throne?
Vain and strange debate, where both have suffer'd,
Both have pass'd a youth consumed and sad,
Both have brought their anxious day to evening, 55
And have now short space for being glad!
Join'd we are henceforth; nor will thy people,
Nor thy younger Iseult take it ill,
That a former rival shares her office,
When she sees her humbled, pale, and still. 60
I, a faded watcher by thy pillow,
I, a statue on thy chapel-floor,
Pour'd in prayer before the Virgin-Mother,
Rouse no anger, make no rivals more.
She will cry: "Is this the foe I dreaded? 65
This his idol? this that royal bride?
Ah, an hour of health would purge his eyesight!
Stay, pale queen! for ever by my side."
Hush, no words! that smile, I see, forgives me.
I am now thy nurse, I bid thee sleep. 70
Close thine eyes--this flooding moonlight blinds them!--
Nay, all's well again! thou must not weep.
_Tristram_. I am happy! yet I feel, there's something
Swells my heart, and takes my breath away.
Through a mist I see thee; near--come nearer! 75
Bend--bend down!--I yet have much to say.
_Iseult_. Heaven! his head sinks back upon the pillow--
Tristram! Tristram! let thy heart not fail!
Call on God and on the holy angels!
What, love, courage!--Christ! he is so pale. 80
_Tristram_. Hush, 'tis vain, I feel my end approaching!
This is what my mother said should be,
When the fierce pains took her in the forest,
The deep draughts of death, in bearing me.
"Son," she said, "thy name shall be of sorrow; 85
Tristram art thou call'd for my death's sake."
So she said, and died in the drear forest.
Grief since then his home with me doth make. deg. deg.88
I am dying.--Start not, nor look wildly!
Me, thy living friend, thou canst not save. 90
But, since living we were ununited,
Go not far, O Iseult! from my grave.
Close mine eyes, then seek the princess Iseult;
Speak her fair, she is of royal blood!
Say, I will'd so, that thou stay beside me-- 95
She will grant it; she is kind and good.
Now to sail the seas of death I leave thee--
One last kiss upon the living shore!
_Iseult_. Tristram!--Tristram!--stay--receive me with thee!
Iseult leaves thee, Tristram! never more. deg. deg.100
* * * * *
You see them clear--the moon shines bright.
Slow, slow and softly, where she stood,
She sinks upon the ground;--her hood
Has fallen back; her arms outspread
Still hold her lover's hand; her head 105
Is bow'd, half-buried, on the bed.
O'er the blanch'd sheet her raven hair
Lies in disorder'd streams; and there,
Strung like white stars, the pearls still are,
And the golden bracelets, heavy and rare, 110
Flash on her white arms still.
The very same which yesternight
Flash'd in the silver sconces' deg. light, deg.113
When the feast was gay and the laughter loud
In Tyntagel's palace proud. 115
But then they deck'd a restless ghost
With hot-flush'd cheeks and brilliant eyes,
And quivering lips on which the tide
Of courtly speech abruptly died,
And a glance which over the crowded floor, 120
The dancers, and the festive host,
Flew ever to the door. deg. deg.122
That the knights eyed her in surprise,
And the dames whispered scoffingly:
"Her moods, good lack, they pass like showers! 125
But yesternight and she would be
As pale and still as wither'd flowers,
And now to-night she laughs and speaks
And has a colour in her cheeks;
Christ keep us from such fantasy!"-- 130
Yes, now the longing is o'erpast,
Which, dogg'd deg. by fear and fought by shame, deg.132
Shook her weak bosom day and night,
Consumed her beauty like a flame,
And dimm'd it like the desert-blast. 135
And though the bed-clothes hide her face,
Yet were it lifted to the light,
The sweet expression of her brow
Would charm the gazer, till his thought
Erased the ravages of time, 140
Fill'd up the hollow cheek, and brought
A freshness back as of her prime--
So healing is her quiet now.
So perfectly the lines express
A tranquil, settled loveliness, 145
Her younger rival's purest grace.
The air of the December-night
Steals coldly around the chamber bright,
Where those lifeless lovers be;
Swinging with it, in the light 150
Flaps the ghostlike tapestry.
And on the arras wrought you see
A stately Huntsman, clad in green,
And round him a fresh forest-scene.
On that clear forest-knoll he stays, 155
With his pack round him, and delays.
He stares and stares, with troubled face,
At this huge, gleam-lit fireplace,
At that bright, iron-figured door,
And those blown rushes on the floor. 160
He gazes down into the room
With heated cheeks and flurried air,
And to himself he seems to say:
_"What place is this, and who are they?
Who is that kneeling Lady fair? 165
And on his pillows that pale Knight
Who seems of marble on a tomb?
How comes it here, this chamber bright,
Through whose mullion'd windows clear
The castle-court all wet with rain, 170
The drawbridge and the moat appear,
And then the beach, and, mark'd with spray,
The sunken reefs, and far away
The unquiet bright Atlantic plain?
--What, has some glamour made me sleep, 175
And sent me with my dogs to sweep,
By night, with boisterous bugle-peal,
Through some old, sea-side, knightly hall,
Not in the free green wood at all?
That Knight's asleep, and at her prayer 180
That Lady by the bed doth kneel--
Then hush, thou boisterous bugle-peal!"_
--The wild boar rustles in his lair;
The fierce hounds snuff the tainted air;
But lord and hounds keep rooted there. 185
Cheer, cheer thy dogs into the brake,
O Hunter! and without a fear
Thy golden-tassell'd bugle blow,
And through the glades thy pastime take--
For thou wilt rouse no sleepers here! 190
For these thou seest are unmoved;
Cold, cold as those who lived and loved
A thousand years ago. deg. deg.193
ISEULT OF BRITTANY deg.
A year had flown, and o'er the sea away,
In Cornwall, Tristram and Queen Iseult lay;
In King Marc's chapel, in Tyntagel old--
There in a ship they bore those lovers cold.
The young surviving Iseult, one bright day, 5
Had wander'd forth. Her children were at play
In a green circular hollow in the heath
Which borders the sea-shore--a country path
Creeps over it from the till'd fields behind.
The hollow's grassy banks are soft-inclined, 10
And to one standing on them, far and near
The lone unbroken view spreads bright and clear
Over the waste. This cirque deg. of open ground deg.13
Is light and green; the heather, which all round
Creeps thickly, grows not here; but the pale grass 15
Is strewn with rocks, and many a shiver'd mass
Of vein'd white-gleaming quartz, and here and there
Dotted with holly-trees and juniper. deg. deg.18
In the smooth centre of the opening stood
Three hollies side by side, and made a screen, 20
Warm with the winter-sun, of burnish'd green
With scarlet berries gemm'd, the fell-fare's deg. food. deg.22
Under the glittering hollies Iseult stands,
Watching her children play; their little hands
Are busy gathering spars of quartz, and streams 25
Of stagshorn deg. for their hats; anon, with screams deg.26
Of mad delight they drop their spoils, and bound
Among the holly-clumps and broken ground,
Racing full speed, and startling in their rush
The fell-fares and the speckled missel-thrush 30
Out of their glossy coverts;--but when now
Their cheeks were flush'd, and over each hot brow,
Under the feather'd hats of the sweet pair,
In blinding masses shower'd the golden hair--
Then Iseult call'd them to her, and the three 35
Cluster'd under the holly-screen, and she
Told them an old-world Breton history. deg. deg.37
Warm in their mantles wrapt the three stood there,
Under the hollies, in the clear still air--
Mantles with those rich furs deep glistering 40
Which Venice ships do from swart Egypt bring.
Long they stay'd still--then, pacing at their ease,
Moved up and down under the glossy trees.
But still, as they pursued their warm dry road,
From Iseult's lips the unbroken story flow'd, 45
And still the children listen'd, their blue eyes
Fix'd on their mother's face in wide surprise;
Nor did their looks stray once to the sea-side,
Nor to the brown heaths round them, bright and wide,
Nor to the snow, which, though 'twas all away 50
From the open heath, still by the hedgerows lay,
Nor to the shining sea-fowl, that with screams
Bore up from where the bright Atlantic gleams,
Swooping to landward; nor to where, quite clear,
The fell-fares settled on the thickets near. 55
And they would still have listen'd, till dark night
Came keen and chill down on the heather bright;
But, when the red glow on the sea grew cold,
And the grey turrets of the castle old
Look'd sternly through the frosty evening-air, 60
Then Iseult took by the hand those children fair,
And brought her tale to an end, and found the path,
And led them home over the darkening heath.
And is she happy? Does she see unmoved
The days in which she might have lived and loved 65
Slip without bringing bliss slowly away,
One after one, to-morrow like to-day?
Joy has not found her yet, nor ever will--
Is it this thought which, makes her mien so still,
Her features so fatigued, her eyes, though sweet, 70
So sunk, so rarely lifted save to meet
Her children's? She moves slow; her voice alone
Hath yet an infantine and silver tone,
But even that comes languidly; in truth,
She seems one dying in a mask of youth. 75
And now she will go home, and softly lay
Her laughing children in their beds, and play
Awhile with them before they sleep; and then
She'll light her silver lamp, which fishermen
Dragging their nets through the rough waves, afar, 80
Along this iron coast, deg. know like a star, deg. deg.81
And take her broidery-frame, and there she'll sit
Hour after hour, her gold curls sweeping it;
Lifting her soft-bent head only to mind
Her children, or to listen to the wind. 85
And when the clock peals midnight, she will move
Her work away, and let her fingers rove
Across the shaggy brows of Tristram's hound
Who lies, guarding her feet, along the ground;
Or else she will fall musing, her blue eyes 90
Fixt, her slight hands clasp'd on her lap; then rise,
And at her prie-dieu deg. kneel, until she have told deg.92
Her rosary-beads of ebony tipp'd with gold,
Then to her soft sleep--and to-morrow'll be
To-day's exact repeated effigy. 95
Yes, it is lonely for her in her hall.
The children, and the grey-hair'd seneschal, deg. deg.97
Her women, and Sir Tristram's aged hound,
Are there the sole companions to be found.
But these she loves; and noiser life than this 100
She would find ill to bear, weak as she is.
She has her children, too, and night and day
Is with them; and the wide heaths where they play,
The hollies, and the cliff, and the sea-shore,
The sand, the sea-birds, and the distant sails, 105
These are to her dear as to them; the tales
With which this day the children she beguiled
She gleaned from Breton grandames, when a child,
In every hut along this sea-coast wild.
She herself loves them still, and, when they are told, 110
Can forget all to hear them, as of old.
Dear saints, it is not sorrow, as I hear,
Not suffering, which shuts up eye and ear
To all that has delighted them before,
And lets us be what we were once no more. 115
No, we may suffer deeply, yet retain
Power to be moved and soothed, for all our pain,
By what of old pleased us, and will again.
No, 'tis the gradual furnace of the world,
In whose hot air our spirits are upcurl'd 120
Until they crumble, or else grow like steel--
Which kills in us the bloom, the youth, the spring--
Which leaves the fierce necessity to feel,
But takes away the power--this can avail,
By drying up our joy in everything, 125
To make our former pleasures all seem stale.
This, or some tyrannous single thought, some fit
Of passion, which subdues our souls to it,
Till for its sake alone we live and move--
Call it ambition, or remorse, or love-- 130
This too can change us wholly, and make seem
All which we did before, shadow and dream.
And yet, I swear, it angers me to see
How this fool passion gulls deg. men potently; deg.134
Being, in truth, but a diseased unrest, 135
And an unnatural overheat at best.
How they are full of languor and distress
Not having it; which when they do possess,
They straightway are burnt up with fume and care,
And spend their lives in posting here and there deg. deg.140
Where this plague drives them; and have little ease,
Are furious with themselves, and hard to please.
Like that bold Caesar, deg. the famed Roman wight, deg.143
Who wept at reading of a Grecian knight
Who made a name at younger years than he; 145
Or that renown'd mirror of chivalry,
Prince Alexander, deg. Philip's peerless son, deg.147
Who carried the great war from Macedon
Into the Soudan's deg. realm, and thundered on deg.149
To die at thirty-five in Babylon. 150
What tale did Iseult to the children say,
Under the hollies, that bright-winter's day?
She told them of the fairy-haunted land
Away the other side of Brittany,
Beyond the heaths, edged by the lonely sea; 155
Of the deep forest-glades of Broce-liande, deg. deg.156
Through whose green boughs the golden sunshine creeps
Where Merlin by the enchanted thorn-tree sleeps.
For here he came with the fay deg. Vivian, deg.158
One April, when the warm days first began.
He was on foot, and that false fay, his friend, 160
On her white palfrey; here he met his end,
In these lone sylvan glades, that April-day.
This tale of Merlin and the lovely fay deg. deg.163
Was the one Iseult chose, and she brought clear
Before the children's fancy him and her. 165
Blowing between the stems, the forest-air
Had loosen'd the brown locks of Vivian's hair,
Which play'd on her flush'd cheek, and her blue eyes
Sparkled with mocking glee and exercise.
Her palfrey's flanks were mired and bathed in sweat, 170
For they had travell'd far and not stopp'd yet.
A brier in that tangled wilderness
Had scored her white right hand, which she allows
To rest ungloved on her green riding-dress;
The other warded off the drooping boughs. 175
But still she chatted on, with her blue eyes
Fix'd full on Merlin's face, her stately prize.
Her 'haviour had the morning's fresh clear grace,
The spirit of the woods was in her face.
She look'd so witching fair, that learned wight 180
Forgot his craft, and his best wits took flight;
And he grew fond, and eager to obey
His mistress, use her empire deg. as she may. deg.184
They came to where the brushwood ceased, and day 185
Peer'd 'twixt the stems; and the ground broke away,
In a sloped sward down to a brawling brook;
And up as high as where they stood to look
On the brook's farther side was clear, but then
The underwood and trees began again. 190
This open glen was studded thick with thorns
Then white with blossom; and you saw the horns,
Through last year's fern, of the shy fallow-deer
Who come at noon down to the water here.
You saw the bright-eyed squirrels dart along 195
Under the thorns on the green sward; and strong
The blackbird whistled from the dingles near,
And the weird chipping of the woodpecker
Rang lonelily and sharp; the sky was fair,
And a fresh breath of spring stirr'd everywhere. 200
Merlin and Vivian stopp'd on the slope's brow,
To gaze on the light sea of leaf and bough
Which glistering plays all round them, lone and mild.
As if to itself the quiet forest smiled.
Upon the brow-top grew a thorn, and here 205
The grass was dry and moss'd, and you saw clear
Across the hollow; white anemones
Starr'd the cool turf, and clumps of primroses
Ran out from the dark underwood behind.
No fairer resting-place a man could find. 210
"Here let us halt," said Merlin then; and she
Nodded, and tied her palfrey to a tree.
They sate them down together, and a sleep
Fell upon Merlin, more like death, so deep.
Her finger on her lips, then Vivian rose 215
And from her brown-lock'd head the wimple throws,
And takes it in her hand, and waves it over
The blossom'd thorn-tree and her sleeping lover.
Nine times she waved the fluttering wimple deg. round, deg.219
And made a little plot of magic ground. 220
And in that daised circle, as men say,
Is Merlin prisoner deg. till the judgment-day; deg.222
But she herself whither she will can rove--
For she was passing weary of his love. deg. deg.224
THE CHURCH OF BROU deg.
Down the Savoy deg. valleys sounding, deg.1
Echoing round this castle old,
'Mid the distant mountain-chalets deg. deg.3
Hark! what bell for church is toll'd?
In the bright October morning 5
Savoy's Duke had left his bride.
From the castle, past the drawbridge,
Flow'd the hunters' merry tide.
Steeds are neighing, gallants glittering;
Gay, her smiling lord to greet, 10
From her mullion'd chamber-casement
Smiles the Duchess Marguerite.
From Vienna, by the Danube,
Here she came, a bride, in spring.
Now the autumn crisps the forest; 15
Hunters gather, bugles ring.
Hounds are pulling, prickers deg. swearing, deg.17
Horses fret, and boar-spears glance.
Off!--They sweep the marshy forests.
Westward, on the side of France. 20
Hark! the game's on foot; they scatter!--
Down the forest-ridings lone,
Furious, single horsemen gallop----
Hark! a shout--a crash--a groan!
Pale and breathless, came the hunters; 25
On the turf dead lies the boar--
God! the Duke lies stretch'd beside him,
Senseless, weltering in his gore.
* * * * *
In the dull October evening,
Down the leaf-strewn forest-road, 30
To the castle, past the drawbridge,
Came the hunters with their load.
In the hall, with sconces blazing,
Ladies waiting round her seat,
Clothed in smiles, beneath the dais deg. deg.35
Sate the Duchess Marguerite.
Hark! below the gates unbarring!
Tramp of men and quick commands!
"--'Tis my lord come back from hunting--"
And the Duchess claps her hands. 40
Slow and tired, came the hunters--
Stopp'd in darkness in the court.
"--Ho, this way, ye laggard hunters!
To the hall! What sport? What sport?"--
Slow they enter'd with their master; 45
In the hall they laid him down.
On his coat were leaves and blood-stains,
On his brow an angry frown.
Dead her princely youthful husband
Lay before his youthful wife, 50
Bloody, 'neath the flaring sconces--
And the sight froze all her life.
* * * * *
In Vienna, by the Danube,
Kings hold revel, gallants meet.
Gay of old amid the gayest 55
Was the Duchess Marguerite.
In Vienna, by the Danube,
Feast and dance her youth beguiled.
Till that hour she never sorrow'd;
But from then she never smiled. 60
'Mid the Savoy mountain valleys
Far from town or haunt of man,
Stands a lonely church, unfinish'd,
Which the Duchess Maud began;
Old, that Duchess stern began it, 65
In grey age, with palsied hands;
But she died while it was building,
And the Church unfinish'd stands--
Stands as erst deg. the builders left it, deg.69
When she sank into her grave; 70
Mountain greensward paves the chancel, deg. deg.71
Harebells flower in the nave. deg. deg.72
"--In my castle all is sorrow,"
Said the Duchess Marguerite then;
"Guide me, some one, to the mountain! 75
We will build the Church again."--
Sandall'd palmers, deg. faring homeward, deg.78
Austrian knights from Syria came.
"--Austrian wanderers bring, O warders!
Homage to your Austrian dame."-- 80
From the gate the warders answer'd:
"--Gone, O knights, is she you knew!
Dead our Duke, and gone his Duchess;
Seek her at the Church of Brou!"--
Austrian knights and march-worn palmers 85
Climb the winding mountain-way.--
Reach the valley, where the Fabric
Rises higher day by day.
Stones are sawing, hammers ringing;
On the work the bright sun shines, 90
In the Savoy mountain-meadows,
By the stream, below the pines.
On her palfry white the Duchess
Sate and watch'd her working train--
Flemish carvers, Lombard gilders, 95
German masons, smiths from Spain.
Clad in black, on her white palfrey,
Her old architect beside--
There they found her in the mountains,
Morn and noon and eventide. 100
There she sate, and watch'd the builders,
Till the Church was roof'd and done.
Last of all, the builders rear'd her
In the nave a tomb of stone.
On the tomb two forms they sculptured, 105
Lifelike in the marble pale--
One, the Duke in helm and armour;
One, the Duchess in her veil.
Round the tomb the carved stone fretwork deg. deg.109
Was at Easter-tide put on. 110
Then the Duchess closed her labours;
And she died at the St. John.
Upon the glistening leaden roof
Of the new Pile, the sunlight shines;
The stream goes leaping by.
The hills are clothed with pines sun-proof;
'Mid bright green fields, below the pines, 5
Stands the Church on high.
What Church is this, from men aloof?--
'Tis the Church of Brou.
At sunrise, from their dewy lair
Crossing the stream, the kine are seen 10
Round the wall to stray--
The churchyard wall that clips the square
Of open hill-sward fresh and green
Where last year they lay.
But all things now are order'd fair 15
Round the Church of Brou.
On Sundays, at the matin-chime, deg. deg.17
The Alpine peasants, two and three,
Climb up here to pray;
Burghers and dames, at summer's prime, 20
Ride out to church from Chambery, deg. deg.21
Dight deg. with mantles gay. deg.22
But else it is a lonely time
Round the Church of Brou.
On Sundays, too, a priest doth come 25
From the wall'd town beyond the pass,
Down the mountain-way;
And then you hear the organ's hum,
You hear the white-robed priest say mass,
And the people pray. 30
But else the woods and fields are dumb
Round the Church of Brou.
And after church, when mass is done,
The people to the nave repair
Round the tomb to stray; 35
And marvel at the Forms of stone,
And praise the chisell'd broideries deg. rare-- deg.37
Then they drop away.
The princely Pair are left alone
In the Church of Brou. 40
So rest, for ever rest, O princely Pair!
In your high church, 'mid the still mountain-air,
Where horn, and hound, and vassals never come.
Only the blessed Saints are smiling dumb,
From the rich painted windows of the nave, 5
On aisle, and transept, deg. and your marble grave; deg.6
Where thou, young Prince! shalt never more arise
From the fringed mattress where thy Duchess lies,
On autumn-mornings, when the bugle sounds,
And ride across the drawbridge with thy hounds 10
To hunt the boar in the crisp woods till eve;
And thou, O Princess! shalt no more receive,
Thou and thy ladies, in the hall of state,
The jaded hunters with their bloody freight,
Coming benighted to the castle-gate. 15
So sleep, for ever sleep, O marble Pair!
Or, if ye wake, let it be then, when fair
On the carved western front a flood of light
Streams from the setting sun, and colours bright
Prophets, transfigured Saints, and Martyrs brave, 20
In the vast western window of the nave,
And on the pavement round the Tomb there glints
A chequer-work of glowing sapphire-tints,
And amethyst, and ruby--then unclose
Your eyelids on the stone where ye repose, 25
And from your broider'd pillows lift your heads,
And rise upon your cold white marble beds;
And, looking down on the warm rosy tints,
Which chequer, at your feet, the illumined flints,
Say: _What is this? we are in bliss--forgiven--_ 30
_Behold the pavement of the courts of Heaven!_
Or let it be on autumn nights, when rain
Doth rustlingly above your heads complain
On the smooth leaden roof, and on the walls
Shedding her pensive light at intervals 35
The moon through the clere-story windows shines,
And the wind washes through the mountain-pines.
Then, gazing up 'mid the dim pillars high,
The foliaged marble forest deg. where ye lie, deg.39
_Hush_, ye will say, _it is eternity!_ 40
_This is the glimmering verge of Heaven, and these
The columns of the heavenly palaces!_
And, in the sweeping of the wind, your ear
The passage of the Angels' wings will hear,
And on the lichen-crusted leads deg. above deg.45
The rustle of the eternal rain of love.
Strew on her roses, roses,
And never a spray of yew!
In quiet she reposes;
Ah, would that I did too!
Her mirth the world required; 5
She bathed it in smiles of glee.
But her heart was tired, tired,
And now they let her be.
Her life was turning, turning,
In mazes of heat and sound. 10
But for peace her soul was yearning,
And now peace laps her round.
Her cabin'd, deg. ample spirit, deg.13
It flutter'd and fail'd for breath
To-night it doth inherit 15
The vasty deg. hall of death. deg.16
Mist clogs the sunshine.
Smoky dwarf houses
Hem me round everywhere;
A vague dejection
Weighs down my soul. 5
Yet, while I languish,
Prospects unroll themselves,
And countless beings
Pass countless moods. 10
Far hence, in Asia,
On the smooth convent-roofs,
On the gilt terraces,
Of holy Lassa, deg. deg.14
Bright shines the sun. 15
Grey time-worn marbles
Hold the pure Muses deg.; deg.17
In their cool gallery, deg. deg.18
By yellow Tiber, deg. deg.19
They still look fair. 20
Strange unloved uproar deg. deg.21
Shrills round their portal;
Yet not on Helicon deg. deg.23
Kept they more cloudless
Their noble calm. 25
Through sun-proof alleys
In a lone, sand-hemm'd
City of Africa,
A blind, led beggar,
Age-bow'd, asks alms. 30
No bolder robber
Erst deg. abode ambush'd deg.32
Deep in the sandy waste;
No clearer eyesight
Spied prey afar. 35
Sear'd his keen eyeballs;
Spent is the spoil he won.
For him the present
Holds only pain. 40
Two young, fair lovers,
Where the warm June-wind,
Fresh from the summer fields
Plays fondly round them,
Stand, tranced in joy. 45
With sweet, join'd voices,
And with eyes brimming:
"Ah," they cry, "Destiny, deg. deg.48
Prolong the present!
Time, stand still here!" 50
The prompt stern Goddess
Shakes her head, frowning;
Time gives his hour-glass
Its due reversal;
Their hour is gone. 55
With weak indulgence
Did the just Goddess
Lengthen their happiness,
She lengthen'd also
Distress elsewhere. 60
The hour, whose happy
I would eternalise,
Ten thousand mourners
Well pleased see end. 65
The bleak, stern hour,
Whose severe moments
I would annihilate,
Is pass'd by others
In warmth, light, joy. 70
Time, so complain'd of,
Who to no one man
Brings round to all men
Some undimm'd hours. 75
Was it a dream? We sail'd, I thought we sail'd,
Martin and I, down the green Alpine stream,
Border'd, each bank, with pines; the morning sun,
On the wet umbrage of their glossy tops,
On the red pinings of their forest-floor, 5
Drew a warm scent abroad; behind the pines
The mountain-skirts, with all their sylvan change
Of bright-leaf'd chestnuts and moss'd walnut-trees
And the frail scarlet-berried ash, began.
Swiss chalets glitter'd on the dewy slopes, 10
And from some swarded shelf, high up, there came
Notes of wild pastoral music--over all
Ranged, diamond-bright, the eternal wall of snow.
Upon the mossy rocks at the stream's edge,
Back'd by the pines, a plank-built cottage stood, 15
Bright in the sun; the climbing gourd-plant's leaves
Muffled its walls, and on the stone-strewn roof
Lay the warm golden gourds; golden, within,
Under the eaves, peer'd rows of Indian corn.
We shot beneath the cottage with the stream. 20
On the brown, rude-carved balcony, two forms
Came forth--Olivia's, Marguerite! and thine.
Clad were they both in white, flowers in their breast;
Straw hats bedeck'd their heads, with ribbons blue,
Which danced, and on their shoulders, fluttering, play'd. 25
They saw us, they conferred; their bosoms heaved,
And more than mortal impulse fill'd their eyes.
Their lips moved; their white arms, waved eagerly,
Flash'd once, like falling streams; we rose, we gazed.
One moment, on the rapid's top, our boat 30
Hung poised--and then the darting river of Life
(Such now, methought, it was), the river of Life,
Loud thundering, bore us by; swift, swift it foam'd,
Black under cliffs it raced, round headlands shone.
Soon the plank'd cottage by the sun-warm'd pines 35
Faded--the moss--the rocks; us burning plains,
Bristled with cities, us the sea received.
WRITTEN IN KENSINGTON GARDENS
In this lone, open glade I lie,
Screen'd by deep boughs on either hand;
And at its end, to stay the eye,
Those black-crown'd, red-boled pine-trees deg. stand! deg.4
Birds here make song, each bird has his, 5
Across the girdling city's hum.
How green under the boughs it is!
How thick the tremulous sheep-cries come!
Sometimes a child will cross the glade
To take his nurse his broken toy; 10
Sometimes a thrush flit overhead
Deep in her unknown day's employ.
Here at my feet what wonders pass,
What endless, active life is here deg.! deg.14
What blowing daisies, fragrant grass! 15
An air-stirr'd forest, fresh and clear.
Scarce fresher is the mountain-sod
Where the tired angler lies, stretch'd out,
And, eased of basket and of rod,
Counts his day's spoil, the spotted trout. 20
In the huge world, deg. which roars hard by, deg.21
Be others happy if they can!
But in my helpless cradle I
Was breathed on by the rural Pan. deg. deg.24
I, on men's impious uproar hurl'd, 25
Think often, as I hear them rave,
That peace has left the upper world
And now keeps only in the grave.
Yet here is peace for ever new!
When I who watch them am away, 30
Still all things in this glade go through
The changes of their quiet day.
Then to their happy rest they pass!
The flowers upclose, the birds are fed,
The night comes down upon the grass, 35
The child sleeps warmly in his bed.
Calm soul of all things! make it mine
To feel, amid the city's jar,
That there abides a peace of thine,
Man did not make, and cannot mar. 40
The will to neither strive nor cry,
The power to feel with others give deg.!
Calm, calm me more! nor let me die
Before I have begun to live.
THE STRAYED REVELLER deg.
_The Portico of Circe's Palace. Evening._
A YOUTH. CIRCE. deg.
_The Youth_. Faster, faster,
O Circe, Goddess,
Let the wild, thronging train,
The bright procession
Of eddying forms, 5
Sweep through my soul!
Thou standest, smiling
Down on me! thy right arm,
Lean'd up against the column there,
Props thy soft cheek; 10
Thy left holds, hanging loosely,
The deep cup, ivy-cinctured, deg. deg.12
I held but now.
Is it, then, evening
So soon? I see, the night-dews, 15
Cluster'd in thick beads, dim
The agate brooch-stones
On thy white shoulder;
The cool night-wind, too,
Blows through the portico, 20
Stirs thy hair, Goddess,
Waves thy white robe!
_Circe_. Whence art thou, sleeper?
_The Youth_. When the white dawn first
Through the rough fir-planks 25
Of my hut, by the chestnuts,
Up at the valley-head,
Came breaking, Goddess!
I sprang up, I threw round me
My dappled fawn-skin; 30
Passing out, from the wet turf,
Where they lay, by the hut door,
I snatch'd up my vine-crown, my fir-staff,
All drench'd in dew--
Came swift down to join 35
The rout deg. early gather'd deg.36
In the town, round the temple,
Iacchus' deg. white fane deg. deg.38
On yonder hill.
Quick I pass'd, following 40
The wood-cutters' cart-track
Down the dark valley;--I saw
On my left, through, the beeches,
Thy palace, Goddess,
Smokeless, empty! 45
Trembling, I enter'd; beheld
The court all silent,
The lions sleeping, deg. deg.47
On the altar this bowl.
I drank, Goddess! 50
And sank down here, sleeping,
On the steps of thy portico.
_Circe_. Foolish boy! Why tremblest thou?
Thou lovest it, then, my wine?
Wouldst more of it? See, how glows, 55
Through the delicate, flush'd marble,
The red, creaming liquor,
Strown with dark seeds!
Drink, then! I chide thee not,
Deny thee not my bowl. 60
Come, stretch forth thy hand, then--so!
_The Youth_. Thanks, gracious one!
Ah, the sweet fumes again!
More soft, ah me, 65
Than Pan's flute-music! deg. deg.67
Faint--faint! Ah me,
Again the sweet sleep!
_Circe_. Hist! Thou--within there! 70
Come forth, Ulysses deg.! deg.71
Art deg. tired with hunting? deg.72
While we range deg. the woodland, deg.73
See what the day brings. deg. deg.74
_Ulysses_. Ever new magic! 75
Hast thou then lured hither,
Wonderful Goddess, by thy art,
The young, languid-eyed Ampelus,
Or some youth beloved of Pan, 80
Of Pan and the Nymphs deg.? deg.81
That he sits, bending downward
His white, delicate neck
To the ivy-wreathed marge
Of thy cup; the bright, glancing vine-leaves 85
That crown his hair,
Falling forward, mingling
With the dark ivy-plants--
His fawn-skin, half untied,
Smear'd with red wine-stains? Who is he, 90
That he sits, overweigh'd
By fumes of wine and sleep,
So late, in thy portico?
What youth, Goddess,--what guest
Of Gods or mortals? 95
_Circe_. Hist! he wakes!
I lured him not hither, Ulysses.
Nay, ask him!
_The Youth_. Who speaks? Ah, who comes forth
To thy side, Goddess, from within? 100
How shall I name him?
This spare, dark-featured,
Ah, and I see too
His sailor's bonnet, 105
His short coat, travel-tarnish'd,
With one arm bare deg.!-- deg.107
Art thou not he, whom fame
This long time rumours
The favour'd guest of Circe, deg. brought by the waves? deg.110
Art thou he, stranger?
The wise Ulysses,
_Ulysses_. I am Ulysses.
And thou, too, sleeper? 115
Thy voice is sweet.
It may be thou hast follow'd
Through the islands some divine bard,
By age taught many things,
Age and the Muses deg.; deg.120
And heard him delighting
The chiefs and people
In the banquet, and learn'd his songs,
Of Gods and Heroes,
Of war and arts, 125
And peopled cities,
Inland, or built
By the grey sea.--If so, then hail!
I honour and welcome thee.
_The Youth_. The Gods are happy. 130
They turn on all sides
Their shining eyes,
And see below them
The earth and men. deg. deg.134
They see Tiresias deg. deg.135
Sitting, staff in hand,
On the warm, grassy
Asopus deg. bank, deg.138
His robe drawn over
His old, sightless head, 140
The doom of Thebes. deg. deg.142
They see the Centaurs deg. deg.143
In the upper glens
Of Pelion, deg. in the streams, deg.145
Where red-berried ashes fringe
The clear-brown shallow pools,
With streaming flanks, and heads
Rear'd proudly, snuffing
The mountain wind. 150
They see the Indian
Drifting, knife in hand,
His frail boat moor'd to
A floating isle thick-matted
With large-leaved, low-creeping melon-plants, 155
And the dark cucumber.
He reaps, and stows them,
Round his green harvest-plot,
Flow the cool lake-waves, 160
The mountains ring them. deg.
They see the Scythian
On the wide stepp, unharnessing
His wheel'd house at noon.
He tethers his beast down, and makes his meal-- 165
Mares' milk, and bread
Baked on the embers deg.;--all around deg.167
The boundless, waving grass-plains stretch, thick-starr'd
With saffron and the yellow hollyhock
And flag-leaved iris-flowers. 170
Sitting in his cart,
He makes his meal; before him, for long miles,
Alive with bright green lizards,
And the springing bustard-fowl,
The track, a straight black line, 175
Furrows the rich soil; here and there
Clusters of lonely mounds
Topp'd with rough-hewn,
Grey, rain-blear'd statues, overpeer
The sunny waste. deg. deg.180
They see the ferry
On the broad, clay-laden.
Lone Chorasmian stream deg.;--thereon, deg.183
With snort and strain,
Two horses, strongly swimming, tow 185
The ferry-boat, with woven ropes
To either bow
Firm harness'd by the mane; a chief,
With shout and shaken spear,
Stands at the prow, and guides them; but astern 190
The cowering merchants, in long robes,
Sit pale beside their wealth
Of silk-bales and of balsam-drops,
Of gold and ivory,
Of turquoise-earth and amethyst, 195
Jasper and chalcedony,
And milk-barr'd onyx-stones. deg. deg.197
The loaded boat swings groaning
In the yellow eddies;
The Gods behold them. 200
They see the Heroes
Sitting in the dark ship
On the foamless, long-heaving
At sunset nearing 205
The Happy Islands. deg. deg.206
These things, Ulysses,
The wise bards also
Behold and sing.
But oh, what labour! 210
O prince, what pain!
They too can see
Tiresias;--but the Gods,
Who give them vision,
Added this law: 215
That they should bear too
His groping blindness,
His dark foreboding,
His scorn'd white hairs;
Bear Hera's anger deg. deg.220
Through a life lengthen'd
To seven ages.
They see the Centaurs
On Pelion;--then they feel,
They too, the maddening wine 225
Swell their large veins to bursting; in wild pain
They feel the biting spears
Of the grim Lapithae, deg. and Theseus, deg. drive, deg.228
Drive crashing through their bones deg.; they feel deg.229
High on a jutting rock in the red stream 230
Alcmena's dreadful son deg. deg.231
Ply his bow;--such a price
The Gods exact for song:
To become what we sing.
They see the Indian 235
On his mountain lake; but squalls
Make their skiff reel, and worms
In the unkind spring have gnawn
Their melon-harvest to the heart.--They see
The Scythian; but long frosts 240
Parch them in winter-time on the bare stepp,
Till they too fade like grass; they crawl
Like shadows forth in spring.
They see the merchants
On the Oxus stream deg.;--but care deg.245
Must visit first them too, and make them pale.
Whether, through whirling sand,
A cloud of desert robber-horse have burst
Upon their caravan; or greedy kings,
In the wall'd cities the way passes through, 250
Crush'd them with tolls; or fever-airs,
On some great river's marge,
Mown them down, far from home.
They see the Heroes deg. deg.254
Near harbour;--but they share 255
Their lives, and former violent toil in Thebes,
Seven-gated Thebes, or Troy deg.; deg.257
Or where the echoing oars
Of Argo first
Startled the unknown sea. deg. deg.260
The old Silenus deg. deg.261
Came, lolling in the sunshine,
From the dewy forest-coverts,
This way, at noon.
Sitting by me, while his Fauns 265
Down at the water-side
Sprinkled and smoothed
His drooping garland,
He told me these things.
But I, Ulysses, 270
Sitting on the warm steps,
Looking over the valley,
All day long, have seen,
Without pain, without labour,
Sometimes a wild-hair'd Maenad deg.-- deg.275
Sometimes a Faun with torches deg.-- deg.276
And sometimes, for a moment,
Passing through the dark stems
Flowing-robed, the beloved,
The desired, the divine, 280
Ah, cool night-wind, tremulous stars!
Ah, glimmering water,
Dreaming woods! 285
Ah, golden-hair'd, strangely smiling Goddess,
And thou, proved, much enduring,
Who can stand still?
Ye fade, ye swim, ye waver before me-- 290
The cup again!
O Circe, Goddess,
Let the wild, thronging train,
The bright procession 295
Of eddying forms,
Sweep through my soul!
We cannot kindle when we will
The fire which in the heart resides,
The spirit bloweth and is still,
In mystery our soul abides.
But tasks in hours of insight will'd 5
Can be through hours of gloom fulfill'd.
With aching hands and bleeding feet
We dig and heap, lay stone on stone;
We bear the burden and the heat
Of the long day, and wish 'twere done. 10
Not till the hours of light return,
All we have built do we discern.
Then, when the clouds are off the soul,
When thou dost bask in Nature's eye,
Ask, how _she_ view'd thy self-control, 15
Thy struggling, task'd morality--
Nature, whose free, light, cheerful air.
Oft made thee, in thy gloom, despair.
And she, whose censure thou dost dread,
Whose eye thou wast afraid to seek, 20
See, on her face a glow is spread,
A strong emotion on her cheek!
"Ah, child!" she cries, "that strife divine,
Whence was it, for it is not mine?
"There is no effort on _my_ brow-- 25
I do not strive, I do not weep;
I rush with the swift spheres and glow
In joy, and when I will, I sleep.
Yet that severe, that earnest air,
I saw, I felt it once--but where? 30
"I knew not yet the gauge of time,
Nor wore the manacles of space;
I felt it in some other clime,
I saw it in some other place.
'Twas when the heavenly house I trod, 35
And lay upon the breast of God."
The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits;--on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay. 5
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling, 10
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles deg. long ago deg.15
Heard it on the AEgaean, deg. and it brought deg.16
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea. 20
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.
But now I only hear