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The Complete Poems of Sir Thomas Moore by Thomas Moore et al

Part 16 out of 33

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Round the shield-arm of each was tied
Hat, turban, shawl, as chance might be;
The grove, their verdant armory,
Falchion and lance[10] alike supplied;
And as their glossy locks, let free,
Fell down their shoulders carelessly,
You might have dreamed you saw a throng
Of youthful Thyads, by the beam
Of a May moon, bounding along
Peneus' silver-eddied stream!

And now they stept, with measured tread,
Martially o'er the shining field;
Now to the mimic combat led
(A heroine at each squadron's head),
Struck lance to lance and sword to shield:
While still, thro' every varying feat,
Their voices heard in contrast sweet
With some of deep but softened sound
From lips of aged sires around,
Who smiling watched their children's play--
Thus sung the ancient Pyrrhic lay:--


"Raise the buckler--poise the lance--
"Now here--now there--retreat--advance!"

Such were the sounds to which the warrior boy
Danced in those happy days when Greece was free;
When Sparta's youth, even in the hour of joy,
Thus trained their steps to war and victory.
"Raise the buckler--poise the lance--
"Now here--now there--retreat--advance!"
Such was the Spartan warriors' dance.
"Grasp the falchion--gird the shield--
"Attack--defend--do all but yield."

Thus did thy sons, oh Greece, one glorious night,
Dance by a moon like this, till o'er the sea
That morning dawned by whose immortal light
They nobly died for thee and liberty![11]
"Raise the buckler--poise the lance--
"Now here--now there--retreat--advance!"
Such was the Spartan heroes' dance.

* * * * *

Scarce had they closed this martial lay
When, flinging their light spears away,
The combatants, in broken ranks.
All breathless from the war-field fly;
And down upon the velvet banks
And flowery slopes exhausted lie,
Like rosy huntresses of Thrace,
Resting at sunset from the chase.

"Fond girls!" an aged Zean said--
One who himself had fought and bled,
And now with feelings half delight,
Half sadness, watched their mimic fight--
"Fond maids! who thus with War can jest--
"Like Love in Mar's helmet drest,
"When, in his childish innocence,
"Pleased with the shade that helmet flings,
"He thinks not of the blood that thence
"Is dropping o'er his snowy wings.
"Ay--true it is, young patriot maids,
"If Honor's arm still won the fray,
"If luck but shone on righteous blades,
"War were a game for gods to play!
"But, no, alas!--hear one, who well
"Hath tracked the fortunes of the brave--
"Hear _me_, in mournful ditty, tell
"What glory waits the patriot's grave."


As by the shore, at break of day,
A vanquished chief expiring lay.
Upon the sands, with broken sword,
He traced his farewell to the Free;
And, there, the last unfinished word
He dying wrote was "Liberty!"

At night a Sea-bird shrieked the knell
Of him who thus for Freedom fell;
The words he wrote, ere evening came,
Were covered by the sounding sea;--
So pass away the cause and name
Of him who dies for Liberty!

* * * * *

That tribute of subdued applause
A charmed but timid audience pays,
That murmur which a minstrel draws
From hearts that feel but fear to praise,
Followed this song, and left a pause
Of silence after it, that hung
Like a fixt spell on every tongue.

At length a low and tremulous sound
Was heard from midst a group that round
A bashful maiden stood to hide
Her blushes while the lute she tried--
Like roses gathering round to veil
The song of some young nightingale,
Whose trembling notes steal out between
The clustered leaves, herself unseen.
And while that voice in tones that more
Thro' feeling than thro' weakness erred,
Came with a stronger sweetness o'er
The attentive ear, this strain was heard:--


I saw from yonder silent cave,[12]
Two Fountains running side by side;
The one was Memory's limpid wave,
The other cold Oblivion's tide.
"Oh Love!" said I, in thoughtless mood,
As deep I drank of Lethe's stream,
"Be all my sorrows in this flood
"Forgotten like a vanisht dream!"

But who could bear that gloomy blank
Where joy was lost as well as pain?
Quickly of Memory's fount I drank.
And brought the past all back again;
And said, "Oh Love! whate'er my lot,
"Still let this soul to thee be true--
"Rather than have one bliss forgot,
"Be all my pains remembered too!"

* * * * *

The group that stood around to shade
The blushes of that bashful maid,
Had by degrees as came the lay
More strongly forth retired away,
Like a fair shell whose valves divide
To show the fairer pearl inside:
For such she was--a creature, bright
And delicate as those day-flowers,
Which while they last make up in light
And sweetness what they want in hours.

So rich upon the ear had grown
Her voice's melody--its tone
Gathering new courage as it found
An echo in each bosom round--
That, ere the nymph with downcast eye
Still on the chords, her lute laid by,
"Another song," all lips exclaimed,
And each some matchless favorite named;
while blushing as her fingers ran
O'er the sweet chords she thus began:--


Oh, Memory, how coldly
Thou paintest joy gone by:
Like rainbows, thy pictures
But mournfully shine and die.
Or if some tints thou keepest
That former days recall,
As o'er each line thou weepest,
Thy tears efface them all.

But, Memory, too truly
Thou paintest grief that's past;
Joy's colors are fleeting,
But those of Sorrow last.
And, while thou bringst before us
Dark pictures of past ill,
Life's evening closing o'er us
But makes them darker still.

* * * * *

So went the moonlight hours along,
In this sweet glade; and so with song
And witching sounds--not such as they,
The cymbalists of Ossa, played,
To chase the moon's eclipse away,[13]
But soft and holy--did each maid
Lighten her heart's eclipse awhile,
And win back Sorrow to a smile.

Not far from this secluded place,
On the sea-shore a ruin stood;--
A relic of the extinguisht race,
Who once o'er that foamy flood,
When fair Ioulis[14] by the light
Of golden sunset on the sight
Of mariners who sailed that sea,
Rose like a city of chrysolite
Called from the wave by witchery.
This ruin--now by barbarous hands
Debased into a motley shed,
Where the once splendid column stands
Inverted on its leafy head--
Formed, as they tell in times of old
The dwelling of that bard whose lay
Could melt to tears the stern and cold,
And sadden mid their mirth the gay--
Simonides,[15] whose fame thro' years
And ages past still bright appears--
Like Hesperus, a star of tears!

'Twas hither now--to catch a view
Of the white waters as they played
Silently in the light--a few
Of the more restless damsels strayed;
And some would linger mid the scent
Of hanging foliage that perfumed
The ruined walls; while others went
Culling whatever floweret bloomed

In the lone leafy space between,
Where gilded chambers once had been;
Or, turning sadly to the sea,
Sent o'er the wave a sigh unblest
To some brave champion of the Free--
Thinking, alas, how cold might be
At that still hour his place of rest!

Meanwhile there came a sound of song
From the dark ruins--a faint strain,
As if some echo that among
Those minstrel halls had slumbered long
Were murmuring into life again.

But, no--the nymphs knew well the tone--
A maiden of their train, who loved
Like the night-bird to sing alone.
Had deep into those ruins roved,
And there, all other thoughts forgot,
Was warbling o'er, in lone delight,
A lay that, on that very spot,
Her lover sung one moonlight night:--


Ah! where are they, who heard, in former hours,
The voice of Song in these neglected bowers?
They are gone--all gone!

The youth who told his pain in such sweet tone
That all who heard him wisht his pain their own--
He is gone--he is gone!

And she who while he sung sat listening by
And thought to strains like these 'twere sweet to die--
She is gone--she too is gone!

'Tis thus in future hours some bard will say
Of her who hears and him who sings this lay--
They are gone--they both are gone!

* * * * *

The moon was now, from heaven's steep,
Bending to dip her silvery urn
Into the bright and silent deep--
And the young nymphs, on their return
From those romantic ruins, found
Their other playmates ranged around
The sacred Spring, prepared to tune
Their parting hymn,[16] ere sunk the moon,
To that fair Fountain by whose stream
Their hearts had formed so many a dream.

Who has not read the tales that tell
Of old Eleusis' sacred Well,
Or heard what legend-songs recount
Of Syra and its holy Fount,[17]
Gushing at once from the hard rock
Into the laps of living flowers--
Where village maidens loved to flock,
On summer-nights and like the Hours
Linked in harmonious dance and song,
Charmed the unconscious night along;
While holy pilgrims on their way
To Delos' isle stood looking on,
Enchanted with a scene so gay,
Nor sought their boats till morning shone.

Such was the scene this lovely glade
And its fair inmates now displayed.
As round the Fount in linked ring
They went in cadence slow and light
And thus to that enchanted Spring
Warbled their Farewell for the night:--


Here, while the moonlight dim
Falls on that mossy brim,
Sing we our Fountain Hymn,
Maidens of Zea!
Nothing but Music's strain,
When Lovers part in pain,
Soothes till they meet again,
Oh, Maids of Zea!

Bright Fount so clear and cold
Round which the nymphs of old
Stood with their locks of gold,
Fountain of Zea!
Not even Castaly,
Famed tho' its streamlet be,
Murmurs or shines like thee,
Oh, Fount of Zea!

Thou, while our hymn we sing,
Thy silver voice shalt bring,
Answering, answering,
Sweet Fount of Zea!
For of all rills that run
Sparkling by moon or sun
Thou art the fairest one,
Bright Fount of Zea!

Now, by those stars that glance
Over heaven's still expanse
Weave we our mirthful dance,
Daughters of Zea!
Such as in former days
Danced they by Dian's rays
Where the Eurotas strays,
Oh, Maids of Zea!

But when to merry feet
Hearts with no echo beat,
Say, can the dance be sweet?
Maidens of Zea!
No, naught but Music's strain,
When lovers part in pain,
Soothes till they meet again,
Oh, Maids of Zea!



When evening shades are falling
O'er Ocean's sunny sleep,
To pilgrims' hearts recalling
Their home beyond the deep;
When rest o'er all descending
The shores with gladness smile,
And lutes their echoes blending
Are heard from isle to isle,
Then, Mary, Star of the Sea,
We pray, we pray, to thee!

The noon-day tempest over,
Now Ocean toils no more,
And wings of halcyons hover
Where all was strife before.
Oh thus may life in closing
Its short tempestuous day
Beneath heaven's smile reposing
Shine all its storms away:
Thus, Mary, Star of the Sea,
We pray, we pray, to thee!

On Helle's sea the light grew dim
As the last sounds of that sweet hymn
Floated along its azure tide--
Floated in light as if the lay
Had mixt with sunset's fading ray
And light and song together died.
So soft thro' evening's air had breathed
That choir of youthful voices wreathed
In many-linked harmony,
That boats then hurrying o'er the sea
Paused when they reached this fairy shore,
And lingered till the strain was o'er.

Of those young maids who've met to fleet
In song and dance this evening's hours,
Far happier now the bosoms beat
Than when they last adorned these bowers;
For tidings of glad sound had come,
At break of day from the far isles--
Tidings like breath of life to some--
That Zea's sons would soon wing home,
Crowded with the light of Victory's smiles
To meet that brightest of all meeds
That wait on high, heroic deeds.
When gentle eyes that scarce for tears
Could trace the warrior's parting track,
Shall like a misty morn that clears
When the long-absent sun appears
Shine out all bliss to hail him back.

How fickle still the youthful breast!--
More fond of change than a young moon,
No joy so new was e'er possest
But Youth would leave for newer soon.
These Zean nymphs tho' bright the spot
Where first they held their evening play
As ever fell to fairy's lot
To wanton o'er by midnight's ray,
Had now exchanged that sheltered scene
For a wide glade beside the sea--
A lawn whose soft expanse of green
Turned to the west sun smilingly
As tho' in conscious beauty bright
It joyed to give him light for light.

And ne'er did evening more serene
Look down from heaven on lovelier scene.
Calm lay the flood around while fleet
O'er the blue shining element
Light barks as if with fairy feet
That stirred not the husht waters went;
Some, that ere rosy eve fell o'er
The blushing wave, with mainsail free,
Had put forth from the Attic shore,
Or the near Isle of Ebony;--
Some, Hydriot barks that deep in caves
Beneath Colonna's pillared cliffs,
Had all day lurked and o'er the waves
Now shot their long and dart-like skiffs.
Woe to the craft however fleet
These sea-hawks in their course shall meet,
Laden with juice of Lesbian vines,
Or rich from Naxos' emery mines;
For not more sure, when owlets flee
O'er the dark crags of Pendelee,
Doth the night-falcon mark his prey,
Or pounce on it more fleet than they.

And what a moon now lights the glade
Where these young island nymphs are met!
Full-orbed yet pure as if no shade
Had touched its virgin lustre yet;
And freshly bright as if just made
By Love's own hands of new-born light
Stolen from his mother's star tonight.

On a bold rock that o'er the flood
Jutted from that soft glade there stood
A Chapel, fronting towards the sea,--
Built in some by-gone century,--
Where nightly as the seaman's mark
When waves rose high or clouds were dark,
A lamp bequeathed by some kind Saint
Shed o'er the wave its glimmer faint.
Waking in way-worn men a sigh
And prayer to heaven as they went by.
'Twas there, around that rock-built shrine
A group of maidens and their sires
Had stood to watch the day's decline,
And as the light fell o'er their lyres
Sung to the Queen-Star of the Sea
That soft and holy melody.

But lighter thoughts and lighter song
Now woo the coming hours along.
For mark, where smooth the herbage lies,
Yon gay pavilion curtained deep
With silken folds thro' which bright eyes
From time to time are seen to peep;
While twinkling lights that to and fro
Beneath those veils like meteors go,
Tell of some spells at work and keep
Young fancies chained in mute suspense,
Watching what next may shine from thence,
Nor long the pause ere hands unseen
That mystic curtain backward drew,
And all that late but shone between
In half-caught gleams now burst to view.

A picture 'twas of the early days
Of glorious Greece ere yet those rays
Of rich, immortal Mind were hers
That made mankind her worshippers;
While yet unsung her landscapes shone
With glory lent by heaven alone;
Nor temples crowned her nameless hills,
Nor Muse immortalized her rills;
Nor aught but the mute poesy
Of sun and stars and shining sea
Illumed that land of bards to be.
While prescient of the gifted race
That yet would realm so blest adorn,
Nature took pains to deck the place
Where glorious Art was to be born.

Such was the scene that mimic stage
Of Athens and her hills portrayed
Athens in her first, youthful age,
Ere yet the simple violet braid,[18]
Which then adorned her had shone down
The glory of earth's loftiest crown.
While yet undreamed, her seeds of Art
Lay sleeping in the marble mine--
Sleeping till Genius bade them start
To all but life in shapes divine;
Till deified the quarry shone
And all Olympus stood in stone!

There in the foreground of that scene,
On a soft bank of living green
Sate a young nymph with her lap full
Of the newly gathered flowers, o'er which
She graceful leaned intent to cull
All that was there of hue most rich,
To form a wreath such as the eye
Of her young lover who stood by,
With pallet mingled fresh might choose
To fix by Painting's rainbow hues.

The wreath was formed; the maiden raised
Her speaking eyes to his, while he--
Oh _not_ upon the flowers now gazed,
But on that bright look's witchery.
While, quick as if but then the thought
Like light had reached his soul, he caught
His pencil up and warm and true
As life itself that love-look drew:
And, as his raptured task went on,
And forth each kindling feature shone,
Sweet voices thro' the moonlight air
From lips as moonlight fresh and pure
Thus hailed the bright dream passing there,
And sung the Birth of Portraiture.[19]


As once a Grecian maiden wove
Her garland mid the summer bowers,
There stood a youth with eyes of love
To watch her while she wreathed the flowers.
The youth was skilled in Painting's art,
But ne'er had studied woman's brow,
Nor knew what magic hues the heart
Can shed o'er Nature's charms till now.


Blest be Love to whom we owe
All that's fair and bright below.

His hand had pictured many a rose
And sketched the rays that light the brook;
But what were these or what were those
To woman's blush, to woman's look?
"Oh, if such magic power there be,
"This, this," he cried, "is all my prayer,
"To paint that living light I see
"And fix the soul that sparkles there."

His prayer as soon as breathed was heard;
His pallet touched by Love grew warm,
And Painting saw her hues transferred
From lifeless flowers to woman's form.
Still as from tint to tint he stole,
The fair design shone out the more,
And there was now a life, a soul,
Where only colors glowed before.

Then first carnations learned to speak
And lilies into life were brought;
While mantling on the maiden's cheek
Young roses kindled into thought.
Then hyacinths their darkest dyes
Upon the locks of Beauty threw;
And violets transformed to eyes
Inshrined a soul within their blue.


Blest be Love to whom we owe,
All that's fair and bright below.
Song was cold and Painting dim
Till Song and Painting learned from him.

* * * * *

Soon as the scene had closed, a cheer
Of gentle voices old and young
Rose from the groups that stood to hear
This tale of yore so aptly sung;
And while some nymphs in haste to tell
The workers of that fairy spell
How crowned with praise their task had been
Stole in behind the curtained scene,
The rest in happy converse strayed--
Talking that ancient love-tale o'er--
Some to the groves that skirt the glade,
Some to the chapel by the shore,
To look what lights were on the sea.
And think of the absent silently.

But soon that summons known so well
Thro' bower and hall in Eastern lands,
Whose sound more sure than gong or bell
Lovers and slaves alike commands,--
The clapping of young female hands,
Calls back the groups from rock and field
To see some new-formed scene revealed;--
And fleet and eager down the slopes
Of the green glades like antelopes
When in their thirst they hear the sound
Of distant rills, the light nymphs bound.

Far different now the scene--a waste
Of Libyan sands, by moonlight's ray;
An ancient well, whereon were traced
The warning words, for such as stray
Unarmed there, "Drink and away!"[20]
While near it from the night-ray screened,
And like his bells in husht repose,
A camel slept--young as if weaned
When last the star Canopus rose.[21]

Such was the back-ground's silent scene;--
While nearer lay fast slumbering too
In a rude tent with brow serene
A youth whose cheeks of wayworn hue
And pilgrim-bonnet told the tale
That he had been to Mecca's Vale:
Haply in pleasant dreams, even now
Thinking the long wished hour is come
When o'er the well-known porch at home
His hand shall hang the aloe bough--
Trophy of his accomplished vow.[22]

But brief his dream--for now the call
Of the camp-chiefs from rear to van,
"Bind on your burdens,"[23] wakes up all
The widely slumbering caravan;
And thus meanwhile to greet the ear
Of the young pilgrim as he wakes,
The song of one who lingering near
Had watched his slumber, cheerly breaks.


Up and march! the timbrel's sound
Wakes the slumbering camp around;
Fleet thy hour of rest hath gone,
Armed sleeper, up, and on!
Long and weary is our way
O'er the burning sands to-day;
But to pilgrim's homeward feet
Even the desert's path is sweet.

When we lie at dead of night,
Looking up to heaven's light,
Hearing but the watchman's tone
Faintly chanting "God is one,"[24]
Oh what thoughts then o'er us come
Of our distant village home,
Where that chant when evening sets
Sounds from all the minarets.

Cheer thee!--soon shall signal lights,
Kindling o'er the Red Sea heights,
Kindling quick from man to man,
Hail our coming caravan:[25]
Think what bliss that hour will be!
Looks of home again to see,
And our names again to hear
Murmured out by voices dear.

* * * * *

So past the desert dream away,
Fleeting as his who heard this lay,
Nor long the pause between, nor moved
The spell-bound audience from that spot;
While still as usual Fancy roved
On to the joy that yet was not;--
Fancy who hath no present home,
But builds her bower in scenes to come,
Walking for ever in a light
That flows from regions out of sight.

But see by gradual dawn descried
A mountain realm-rugged as e'er
Upraised to heaven its summits bare,
Or told to earth with frown of pride
That Freedom's falcon nest was there,
Too high for hand of lord or king
To hood her brow, or chain her wing.

'Tis Maina's land--her ancient hills,
The abode of nymphs--her countless rills
And torrents in their downward dash
Shining like silver thro' the shade
Of the sea-pine and flowering ash--
All with a truth so fresh portrayed
As wants but touch of life to be
A world of warm reality.

And now light bounding forth a band
Of mountaineers, all smiles, advance--
Nymphs with their lovers hand in hand
Linked in the Ariadne dance;
And while, apart from that gay throng,
A minstrel youth in varied song
Tells of the loves, the joys, the ills
Of these wild children of the hills,
The rest by turns or fierce or gay
As war or sport inspires the lay
Follow each change that wakes the strings
And act what thus the lyrist sings:--


No life is like the mountaineer's,
His home is near the sky,
Where throned above this world he hears
Its strife at distance die,
Or should the sound of hostile drum
Proclaim below, "We come--we come,"
Each crag that towers in air
Gives answer, "Come who dare!"
While like bees from dell and dingle,
Swift the swarming warriors mingle,
And their cry "Hurra!" will be,
"Hurra, to victory!"

Then when battle's hour is over
See the happy mountain lover
With the nymph who'll soon be bride
Seated blushing by his side,--
Every shadow of his lot
In her sunny smile forgot.
Oh, no life is like the mountaineer's.
His home is near the sky,
Where throned above this world he hears
Its strife at distance die.
Nor only thus thro' summer suns
His blithe existence cheerly runs--
Even winter bleak and dim
Brings joyous hours to him;
When his rifle behind him flinging
He watches the roe-buck springing,
And away, o'er the hills away
Re-echoes his glad "hurra."

Then how blest when night is closing,
By the kindled hearth reposing,
To his rebeck's drowsy song,
He beguiles the hour along;
Or provoked by merry glances
To a brisker movement dances,
Till, weary at last, in slumber's chain,
He dreams o'er chase and dance again,
Dreams, dreams them o'er again.

* * * * *

As slow that minstrel at the close
Sunk while he sung to feigned repose,
Aptly did they whose mimic art
Followed the changes of his lay
Portray the lull, the nod, the start,
Thro' which as faintly died away
His lute and voice, the minstrel past,
Till voice and lute lay husht at last.

But now far other song came o'er
Their startled ears--song that at first
As solemnly the night-wind bore
Across the wave its mournful burst,
Seemed to the fancy like a dirge
Of some lone Spirit of the Sea,
Singing o'er Helle's ancient surge
The requiem of her Brave and Free.

Sudden amid their pastime pause
The wondering nymphs; and as the sound
Of that strange music nearer draws,
With mute inquiring eye look round,
Asking each other what can be
The source of this sad minstrelsy?
Nor longer can they doubt, the song
Comes from some island-bark which now
Courses the bright waves swift along
And soon perhaps beneath the brow
Of the Saint's Bock will shoot its prow.

Instantly all with hearts that sighed
'Twixt fear's and fancy's influence,
Flew to the rock and saw from thence
A red-sailed pinnace towards them glide,
Whose shadow as it swept the spray
Scattered the moonlight's smiles away.
Soon as the mariners saw that throng
From the cliff gazing, young and old,
Sudden they slacked their sail and song,
And while their pinnace idly rolled
On the light surge, these tidings told:--

'Twas from an isle of mournful name,
From Missolonghi, last they came--
Sad Missolonghi sorrowing yet
O'er him, the noblest Star of Fame
That e'er in life's young glory set!--
And now were on their mournful way,
Wafting the news thro' Helle's isles;--
News that would cloud even Freedom's ray
And sadden Victory mid her smiles.

Their tale thus told and heard with pain,
Out spread the galliot's wings again;
And as she sped her swift career
Again that Hymn rose on the ear--
"Thou art not dead--thou art not dead!"
As oft 'twas sung in ages flown
Of him, the Athenian, who to shed
A tyrant's blood poured out his own.


Thou art not dead--thou art not dead!
No, dearest Harmodius, no.
Thy soul to realms above us fled
Tho' like a star it dwells o'er head
Still lights this world below.
Thou art _not_ dead--thou art not dead!
No, dearest Harmodius, no.

Thro' isles of light where heroes tread
And flowers ethereal blow,
Thy god-like Spirit now is led,
Thy lip with life ambrosial fed
Forgets all taste of woe.
Thou art not dead--thou art not dead!
No, dearest Harmodius, no.

The myrtle round that falchion spread
Which struck the immortal blow,
Throughout all time with leaves unshed--
The patriot's hope, the tyrant's dread--
Round Freedom's shrine shall grow.
Thou art not dead--thou art not dead!
No, dearest Harmodius, no.

Where hearts like thine have broke or bled,
Tho' quenched the vital glow,
Their memory lights a flame instead,
Which even from out the narrow bed
Of death its beams shall throw.
Thou art not dead--thou art not dead!
No, dearest Harmodius, no.

Thy name, by myriads sung and said,
From age to age shall go,
Long as the oak and ivy wed,
As bees shall haunt Hymettus' head,
Or Helle's waters flow.
Thou art not dead--thou art not dead!
No, dearest Harmodius, no.

* * * * *

'Mong those who lingered listening there,--
Listening with ear and eye as long
As breath of night could towards them bear
A murmur of that mournful song,--
A few there were in whom the lay
Had called up feelings far too sad
To pass with the brief strain away,
Or turn at once to theme more glad;
And who in mood untuned to meet
The light laugh of the happie train,
Wandered to seek some moonlight seat
Where they might rest, in converse sweet,
Till vanisht smiles should come again.

And seldom e'er hath noon of night
To sadness lent more soothing light.
On one side in the dark blue sky
Lonely and radiant was the eye
Of Jove himself, while on the other
'Mong tiny stars that round her gleamed,
The young moon like the Roman mother
Among her living "jewels" beamed.

Touched by the lovely scenes around,
A pensive maid--one who, tho' young,
Had known what 'twas to see unwound
The ties by which her heart had clung--
Wakened her soft tamboura's sound,
And to its faint accords thus sung:--


Calm as beneath its mother's eyes
In sleep the smiling infant lies,
So watched by all the stars of night
Yon landscape sleeps in light.
And while the night-breeze dies away,
Like relics of some faded strain,
Loved voices, lost for many a day,
Seem whispering round again.
Oh youth! oh love! ye dreams that shed
Such glory once--where are ye fled?

Pure ray of light that down the sky
Art pointing like an angel's wand,
As if to guide to realms that lie
In that bright sea beyond:
Who knows but in some brighter deep
Than even that tranquil, moonlit main,
Some land may lie where those who weep
Shall wake to smile again!
With cheeks that had regained their power
And play of smiles,--and each bright eye
Like violets after morning's shower
The brighter for the tears gone by,
Back to the scene such smiles should grace
These wandering nymphs their path retrace,
And reach the spot with rapture new
Just as the veils asunder flew
And a fresh vision burst to view.

There by her own bright Attic flood,
The blue-eyed Queen of Wisdom stood;--
Not as she haunts the sage's dreams,
With brow unveiled, divine, severe;
But softened as on bards she beams
When fresh from Poesy's high sphere
A music not her own she brings,
And thro' the veil which Fancy flings
O'er her stern features gently sings.

But who is he--that urchin nigh,
With quiver on the rose-trees hung,
Who seems just dropt from yonder sky,
And stands to watch that maid with eye
So full of thought for one so young?--
That child--but, silence! lend thine ear,
And thus in song the tale thou'lt hear:--


As Love one summer eve was straying,
Who should he see at that soft hour
But young Minerva gravely playing
Her flute within an olive bower.
I need not say, 'tis Love's opinion
That grave or merry, good or ill,
The sex all bow to his dominion,
As woman will be woman still.

Tho' seldom yet the boy hath given
To learned dames his smiles or sighs,
So handsome Pallas looked that even
Love quite forgot the maid was wise.
Besides, a youth of his discerning
Knew well that by a shady rill
At sunset hour whate'er her learning
A woman will be woman still.

Her flute he praised in terms extatic,--
Wishing it dumb, nor cared how soon.--
For Wisdom's notes, howe'er chromatic,
To Love seem always out of tune.
But long as he found face to flatter,
The nymph found breath to shake and thrill;
As, weak or wise--it doesn't matter--
Woman at heart is woman still.

Love changed his plan, with warmth exclaiming,
"How rosy was her lips' soft dye!"
And much that flute the flatterer blaming,
For twisting lips so sweet awry.
The nymph looked down, beheld her features
Reflected in the passing rill,
And started, shocked--for, ah, ye creatures!
Even when divine you're women still.

Quick from the lips it made so odious.
That graceless flute the Goddess took
And while yet filled with breath melodious,
Flung it into the glassy brook;
Where as its vocal life was fleeting
Adown the current, faint and shrill,
'Twas heard in plaintive tone repeating,
"Woman, alas, vain woman still!"

* * * * *

An interval of dark repose--
Such as the summer lightning knows,
Twixt flash and flash, as still more bright
The quick revealment comes and goes,
Opening each time the veils of night,
To show within a world of light--
Such pause, so brief, now past between
This last gay vision and the scene
Which now its depth of light disclosed.
A bower it seemed, an Indian bower,
Within whose shade a nymph reposed,
Sleeping away noon's sunny hour--
Lovely as she, the Sprite, who weaves
Her mansion of sweet Durva leaves,
And there, as Indian legends say,
Dreams the long summer hours away.
And mark how charmed this sleeper seems
With some hid fancy--she, too, dreams!
Oh for a wizard's art to tell
The wonders that now bless her sight!
'Tis done--a truer, holier spell
Than e'er from wizard's lip yet fell.
Thus brings her vision all to light:--


"Who comes so gracefully
"Gliding along
"While the blue rivulet
"Sleeps to her song;
"Song richly vying
"With the faint sighing
"Which swans in dying
"Sweetly prolong?"

So sung the shepherd-boy
By the stream's side,
Watching that fairy-boat
Down the flood glide,
Like a bird winging,
Thro' the waves bringing
That Syren, singing
To the husht tide.

"Stay," said the shepherd-boy,
"Fairy-boat, stay,
"Linger, sweet minstrelsy,
"Linger a day."
But vain his pleading,
Past him, unheeding,
Song and boat, speeding,
Glided away.

So to our youthful eyes
Joy and hope shone;
So while we gazed on them
Fast they flew on;--
Like flowers declining
Even in the twining,
One moment shining.
And the next gone!

* * * * *

Soon as the imagined dream went by,
Uprose the nymph, with anxious eye
Turned to the clouds as tho' some boon
She waited from that sun-bright dome,
And marvelled that it came not soon
As her young thoughts would have it come.

But joy is in her glance!--the wing
Of a white bird is seen above;
And oh, if round his neck he bring
The long-wished tidings from her love,
Not half so precious in her eyes
Even that high-omened bird[26] would be.
Who dooms the brow o'er which he flies
To wear a crown of royalty.

She had herself last evening sent
A winged messenger whose flight
Thro' the clear, roseate element,
She watched till lessening out of sight
Far to the golden West it went,
Wafting to him, her distant love,
A missive in that language wrought
Which flowers can speak when aptly wove,
Each hue a word, each leaf a thought.

And now--oh speed of pinion, known
To Love's light messengers alone I--
Ere yet another evening takes
Its farewell of the golden lakes,
She sees another envoy fly,
With the wished answer, thro' the sky.


Welcome sweet bird, thro' the sunny air winging,
Swift hast thou come o'er the far-shining sea,
Like Seba's dove on thy snowy neck bringing
Love's written vows from my lover to me.
Oh, in thy absence what hours did I number!--
Saying oft, "Idle bird, how could he rest?"
But thou art come at last, take now thy slumber,
And lull thee in dreams of all thou lov'st best.

Yet dost thou droop--even now while I utter
Love's happy welcome, thy pulse dies away;
Cheer thee, my bird--were it life's ebbing flutter.
This fondling bosom should woo it to stay,
But no--thou'rt dying--thy last task is over--
Farewell, sweet martyr to Love and to me!
The smiles thou hast wakened by news from my lover,
Will now all be turned into weeping for thee.

* * * * *

While thus this scene of song (their last
For the sweet summer season) past,
A few presiding nymphs whose care
Watched over all invisibly,
As do those guardian sprites of air
Whose watch we feel but cannot see,
Had from the circle--scarcely missed,
Ere they were sparkling there again--
Glided like fairies to assist
Their handmaids on the moonlight plain,
Where, hid by intercepting shade
From the stray glance of curious eyes,
A feast of fruits and wines was laid--
Soon to shine out, a glad surprise!

And now the moon, her ark of light
Steering thro' Heaven, as tho' she bore
In safety thro' that deep of night
Spirits of earth, the good, the bright,
To some remote immortal shore,
Had half-way sped her glorious way,
When round reclined on hillocks green
In groups beneath that tranquil ray,
The Zeans at their feast were seen.
Gay was the picture--every maid
Whom late the lighted scene displayed,
Still in her fancy garb arrayed;--
The Arabian pilgrim, smiling here
Beside the nymph of India's sky;
While there the Mainiote mountaineer
Whispered in young Minerva's ear,
And urchin Love stood laughing by.

Meantime the elders round the board,
By mirth and wit themselves made young,
High cups of juice Zacynthian poured,
And while the flask went round thus sung:--


Up with the sparkling brimmer,
Up to the crystal rim;
Let not a moonbeam glimmer
'Twixt the flood and brim.
When hath the world set eyes on
Aught to match this light,
Which o'er our cup's horizon
Dawns in bumpers bright?

Truth in a deep well lieth--
So the wise aver;
But Truth the fact denieth--
Water suits not her.
No, her abode's in brimmers,
Like this mighty cup--
Waiting till we, good swimmers,
Dive to bring her up.

* * * * *

Thus circled round the song of glee,
And all was tuneful mirth the while,
Save on the cheeks of some whose smile
As fixt they gaze upon the sea,
Turns into paleness suddenly!
What see they there? a bright blue light
That like a meteor gliding o'er
The distant wave grows on the sight,
As tho' 'twere winged to Zea's shore.
To some, 'mong those who came to gaze,
It seemed the night-light far away
Of some lone fisher by the blaze
Of pine torch luring on his prey;
While others, as 'twixt awe and mirth
They breathed the blest Panaya's[27] name,
Vowed that such light was not of earth
But of that drear, ill-omen'd flame
Which mariners see on sail or mast
When Death is coming in the blast.
While marvelling thus they stood, a maid
Who sate apart with downcast eye,
Not yet had like the rest surveyed
That coming light which now was nigh,
Soon as it met her sight, with cry
Of pain-like joy, "'Tis he! 'tis he!"
Loud she exclaimed, and hurrying by
The assembled throng, rushed towards the sea.
At burst so wild, alarmed, amazed,
All stood like statues mute and gazed
Into each other's eyes to seek
What meant such mood in maid so meek?

Till now, the tale was known to few,
But now from lip to lip it flew:--
A youth, the flower of all the band,
Who late had left this sunny shore,
When last he kist that maiden's hand,
Lingering to kiss it o'er and o'er.
By his sad brow too plainly told
The ill-omened thought which crost him then,
That once those hands should lose their hold,
They ne'er would meet on earth again!
In vain his mistress sad as he,
But with a heart from Self as free
As generous woman's only is,
Veiled her own fears to banish his:--
With frank rebuke but still more vain,
Did a rough warrior who stood by
Call to his mind this martial strain,
His favorite once, ere Beauty's eye
Had taught his soldier-heart to sigh:--


March! nor heed those arms that hold thee,
Tho' so fondly close they come;
Closer still will they enfold thee
When thou bring'st fresh laurels home.
Dost thou dote on woman's brow?
Dost thou live but in her breath?
March!--one hour of victory now
Wins thee woman's smile till death.

Oh what bliss when war is over
Beauty's long-missed smile to meet.
And when wreaths our temples cover
Lay them shining at her feet.
Who would not that hour to reach
Breathe out life's expiring sigh,--
Proud as waves that on the beach
Lay their war-crests down and die.

There! I see thy soul is burning--
She herself who clasps thee so
Paints, even now, thy glad returning,
And while clasping bids thee go.
One deep sigh to passion given,
One last glowing tear and then--
March!--nor rest thy sword till Heaven
Brings thee to those arms again.

* * * * *

Even then ere loath their hands could part
A promise the youth gave which bore
Some balm unto the maiden's heart,
That, soon as the fierce fight was o'er,
To home he'd speed, if safe and free--
Nay, even if dying, still would come,
So the blest word of "Victory!"
Might be the last he'd breathe at home.
"By day," he cried, "thou'lt know my bark;
"But should I come thro' midnight dark,
"A blue light on the prow shall tell
"That Greece hath won and all is well!"

Fondly the maiden every night,
Had stolen to seek that promised light;
Nor long her eyes had now been turned
From watching when the signal burned.
Signal of joy--for her, for all--
Fleetly the boat now nears the land,
While voices from the shore-edge call
For tidings of the long-wished band.

Oh the blest hour when those who've been
Thro' peril's paths by land or sea
Locked in our arms again are seen
Smiling in glad security;
When heart to heart we fondly strain,
Questioning quickly o'er and o'er--
Then hold them off to gaze affain
And ask, tho' answered oft before,
If they _indeed_ are ours once more?

Such is the scene so full of joy
Which welcomes now this warrior-boy,
As fathers, sisters, friends all run
Bounding to meet him--all but one
Who, slowest on his neck to fall,
Is yet the happiest of them all.

And now behold him circled round
With beaming faces at that board,
While cups with laurel foliage crowned,
Are to the coming warriors poured--
Coming, as he, their herald, told,
With blades from victory scarce yet cold,
With hearts untouched by Moslem steel
And wounds that home's sweet breath will heal.

"Ere morn," said he,--and while he spoke
Turned to the east, where clear and pale
The star of dawn already broke--
"We'll greet on yonder wave their sail!"
Then wherefore part? all, all agree
To wait them here beneath this bower;
And thus, while even amidst their glee,
Each eye is turned to watch the sea,
With song they cheer the anxious hour.


"'Tis the Vine! 'tis the Vine!" said the cup-loving boy
As he saw it spring bright from the earth,
And called the young Genii of Wit, Love, and Joy,
To witness and hallow its birth.
The fruit was full grown, like a ruby it flamed
Till the sunbeam that kist it looked pale;
"'Tis the Vine! 'tis the Vine!" every Spirit exclaimed
"Hail, hail to the Wine-tree, all hail!"

First, fleet as a bird to the summons Wit flew,
While a light on the vine-leaves there broke
In flashes so quick and so brilliant all knew
T'was the light from his lips as he spoke.
"Bright tree! let thy nectar but cheer me," he cried,
"And the fount of Wit never can fail:"
"'Tis the Vine! 'tis the Vine!" hills and valleys reply,
"Hail, hail to the Wine-tree, all hail!"

Next Love as he leaned o'er the plant to admire
Each tendril and cluster it wore,
From his rosy mouth sent such a breath of desire,
As made the tree tremble all o'er.
Oh! never did flower of the earth, sea, or sky,
Such a soul-giving odor inhale:
"'Tis the Vine! 'tis the Vine!" all re-echo the cry,
"Hail, hail to the Wine-tree, all hail!"

Last, Joy, without whom even Love and Wit die,
Came to crown the bright hour with his ray;
And scarce had that mirth-waking tree met his eye,
When a laugh spoke what Joy could not say;--
A laugh of the heart which was echoed around
Till like music it swelled on the gale:
"T is the Vine! 'tis the Vine!" laughing myriads resound,
"Hail, hail to the Wine-tree, all hail!"

[1] "_Nerium Oleander_. In Cyprus it retains its ancient name,
Rhododaphne, and the Cypriots adorn their churches with the flowers on
feast-days."--_Journal of Dr. Sibthorpe, Walpole's, Turkey_.

[2] _Lonicera caprifolium_, used by the girls of Patmos for garlands.

[3] _Cuscuta europoea_. "From the twisting and twining of the stems, it is
compared by the Greeks to the dishevelled hair of the Nereids."--
_Walpole's Turkey_.

[4] "The produce of the island in these acorns alone amounts annually to
fifteen thousand quintals."--_Clarke's Travels_.

[5] Now Santa Maura--the island, from whose cliffs Sappho leaped into the

[6] "The precipice, which is fearfully dizzy, is about one hundred and
fourteen feet from the water, which is of a profound depth, as appears
from the dark blue color and the eddy that plays round the pointed and
projecting rocks."--_Goodisson's Ionian Isles_.

[7] This word is defrauded here, I suspect, of a syllable; Dr. Clarke, if
I recollect right, makes it "Balalaika."

[8] "I saw above thirty parties engaged in dancing the Romaika upon the
sand; in some of these groups, the girl who led them chased the retreating
wave."--Douglas on the Modern Greeks.

[9] "In dancing the Romaika [says Mr. Douglas] they begin in slow and
solemn step till they have gained the time, but by degrees the air becomes
more sprightly; the conductress of the dance sometimes setting to her
partners, sometimes darting before the rest, and leading them through the
most rapid revolutions: sometimes crossing under the hands, which are held
up to let her pass, and giving as much liveliness and intricacy as she can
to the figures, into which she conducts her companions, while their
business is to follow her in all her movements, without breaking the
chain, or losing the measure,"

[10] The sword was the weapon chiefly used in this dance.

[11] It is said that Leonidas and his companions employed themselves, on
the eve of the battle, in music and the gymnastic exercises of their

[12] "This morning we paid our visit to the Cave of Trophonius, and the
Fountains of Memory and Oblivion, just upon the water of Hercyna, which
flows through stupendous rocks."--_Williams's Travels in Greece_.

[13] This superstitious custom of the Thessalians exists also, as Pietro
dello Valle tells us, among the Persians.

[14] An ancient city of Zea, the walls of which were of marble. Its
remains (says Clarke) "extend from the shore, quite into a valley watered
by the streams of a fountain, whence Ioulis received its name."

[15] Zea was the birthplace of this poet, whose verses are by Catullus
called "tears."

[16] These "Songs of the Well," as they were called among the ancients,
still exist in Greece. _De Guys_ tells us that he has seen "the young
women in Prince's Island, assembled in the evening at a public well,
suddenly strike up a dance, while others sung in concert to them."

[17] "The inhabitants of Syra, both ancient and modern, may be considered
as the worshippers of water. The old fountain, at which the nymphs of the
island assembled in the earliest ages, exists in its original state; the
same rendezvous as it was formerly, whether of love and gallantry, or of
gossiping and tale-telling. It is near to the town, and the most limpid
water gushes continually from the solid rock. It is regarded by the
inhabitants with a degree of religious veneration; and they p reserve a
tradition, that the pilgrims of old time, in their way to Delos, resorted
hither for purification."_--Clarke_.

[18] "Violet-crowned Athens."--_Pindar_.

[19] The whole of this scene was suggested by Pliny's account of the
artist Pausias and his mistress Glycera, _Lib_. 35 c. 40.

[20] The traveller Shaw mentions a beautiful rill In Barbary, which is
received into a large basin called _Shrub wee krub_, "Drink and away"--
there being great danger of meeting with thieves and assassins in such

[21] The Arabian shepherd has a peculiar ceremony in weaning the young
camel; when the proper time arrives, he turns the camel towards the rising
star, Canopus, and says, "Do you see Canopus? from this moment you taste
not another drop of milk."--_Richardson_.

[22] "Whoever returns from a pilgrimage to Mecca hangs this plant (the
mitre-shaped Aloe) over his street door, as a token of his having
performed this holy journey."--_Hasselquist_.

[23] This form of notice to the caravans to prepare for marching was
applied by Hafiz to the necessity of relinquishing the pleasures of this
world, and preparing for death:--"For me what room is there for pleasure
in the bower of Beauty, when every moment the bell makes proclamation,
'Bind on your burden'?"

[24] The watchmen, in the camp of the caravans, go their rounds, crying
one after another, "God is one," etc.

[25] "It was customary," says Irwin, "to light up fires on the mountains,
within view of Cosseir, to give notice of the approach of the caravans
that came from the Nile."

[26] the Hume.

[27] The name which the Greeks give to the Virgin Mary.




Well may you wonder at my flight
From those fair Gardens in whose bowers
Lingers whate'er of wise and bright,
Of Beauty's smile or Wisdom's light,
Is left to grace this world of ours.
Well may my comrades as they roam
On such sweet eyes as this inquire
Why I have left that happy home
Where all is found that all desire,
And Time hath wings that never tire:
Where bliss in all the countless shapes
That Fancy's self to bliss hath given
Comes clustering round like roadside grapes
That woo the traveller's lip at even;
Where Wisdom flings not joy away--
As Pallas in the stream they say
Once flung her flute--but smiling owns
That woman's lip can send forth tones
Worth all the music of those spheres
So many dream of but none hears;
Where Virtue's self puts on so well
Her sister Pleasure's smile that, loath
From either nymph apart to dwell,
We finish by embracing both.
Yes, such the place of bliss, I own
From all whose charms I just have flown;
And even while thus to thee I write,
And by the Nile's dark flood recline,
Fondly, in thought I wing my flight
Back to those groves and gardens bright,
And often think by this sweet light
How lovelily they all must shine;
Can see that graceful temple throw
Down the green slope its lengthened shade,
While on the marble steps below
There sits some fair Athenian maid,
Over some favorite volume bending;
And by her side a youthful sage
Holds back the ringlets that descending
Would else o'ershadow all the page.
But hence such thoughts!--nor let me grieve
O'er scenes of joy that I but leave,
As the bird quits awhile its nest
To come again with livelier zest.

And now to tell thee--what I fear
Thou'lt gravely smile at--_why_ I'm here
Tho' thro' my life's short, sunny dream,
I've floated without pain or care
Like a light leaf down pleasure's stream,
Caught in each sparkling eddy there;
Tho' never Mirth awaked a strain
That my heart echoed not again;
Yet have I felt, when even most gay,
Sad thoughts--I knew not whence or why--
Suddenly o'er my spirit fly,
Like clouds that ere we've time to say
"How bright the sky is!" shade the sky.
Sometimes so vague, so undefined
Were these strange darkenings of my mind--
"While naught but joy around me beamed
So causelessly they've come and flown,
That not of life or earth they seemed,
But shadows from some world unknown.
More oft, however, 'twas the thought
How soon that scene with all its play
Of life and gladness must decay--
Those lips I prest, the hands I caught--
Myself--the crowd that mirth had brought
Around me--swept like weeds away!

This thought it was that came to shed
O'er rapture's hour its worst alloys;
And close as shade with sunshine wed
Its sadness with my happiest joys.
Oh, but for this disheartening voice
Stealing amid our mirth to say
That all in which we most rejoice
Ere night may be the earthworm's prey--
_But_ for this bitter--only this--
Full as the world is brimmed with bliss,
And capable as feels my soul
Of draining to its dregs the whole,
I should turn earth to heaven and be,
If bliss made Gods, a Deity?

Thou know'st that night--the very last
That 'mong my Garden friends I past--
When the School held its feast of mirth
To celebrate our founder's birth.
And all that He in dreams but saw
When he set Pleasure on the throne
Of this bright world and wrote her law
In human hearts was felt and known--
_Not_ in unreal dreams but true,
Substantial joy as pulse e'er knew--
By hearts and bosoms, that each felt
_Itself_ the realm where Pleasure dwelt.

That night when all our mirth was o'er,
The minstrels silent, and the feet
Of the young maidens heard no more--
So stilly was the time, so sweet,
And such a calm came o'er that scene,
Where life and revel late had been--
Lone as the quiet of some bay
From which the sea hath ebbed away--
That still I lingered, lost in thought,
Gazing upon the stars of night,
Sad and intent as if I sought
Some mournful secret in their light;
And asked them mid that silence why
Man, glorious man, alone must die
While they, less wonderful than he,
Shine on thro' all eternity.

That night--thou haply may'st forget
Its loveliness--but 'twas a night
To make earth's meanest slave regret
Leaving a world so soft and bright.
On one side in the dark blue sky
Lonely and radiant was the eye
Of Jove himself, while on the other,
'Mong stars that came out one by one,
The young moon--like the Roman mother
Among her living jewels--shone.
"Oh that from yonder orbs," I thought,
"Pure and eternal as they are,
"There could to earth some power be brought,
"Some charm with their own essence fraught
"To make man deathless as a star,
"And open to his vast desires
"A course, as boundless and sublime
"As that which waits those comet-fires,
"That burn and roam throughout all time!"

While thoughts like these absorbed my mind,
That weariness which earthly bliss
However sweet still leaves behind,
As if to show how earthly 'tis,
Came lulling o'er me and I laid
My limbs at that fair statue's base--
That miracle, which Art hath made
Of all the choice of Nature's grace--
To which so oft I've knelt and sworn.
That could a living maid like her
Unto this wondering world be born,
I would myself turn worshipper.

Sleep came then o'er me--and I seemed
To be transported far away
To a bleak desert plain where gleamed
One single, melancholy ray.
Throughout that darkness dimly shed
From a small taper in the hand
Of one who pale as are the dead
Before me took his spectral stand,
And said while awfully a smile
Came o'er the wanness of his cheek--
"Go and beside the sacred Nile
"You'll find the Eternal Life you seek."

Soon as he spoke these words the hue
Of death o'er all his features grew
Like the pale morning when o'er night
She gains the victory full of light;
While the small torch he held became
A glory in his hand whose flame
Brightened the desert suddenly,
Even to the far horizon's line--
Along whose level I could see
Gardens and groves that seemed to shine
As if then o'er them freshly played
A vernal rainbow's rich cascade;
And music floated every where,
Circling, as 'twere itself the air,
And spirits on whose wings the hue
Of heaven still lingered round me flew,
Till from all sides such splendors broke,
That with the excess of light I woke!

Such was my dream;--and I confess
Tho' none of all our creedless school
E'er conned, believed, or reverenced less
The fables of the priest-led fool
Who tells us of a soul, a mind,
Separate and pure within us shrined,
Which is to live--ah, hope too bright!--
For ever in yon fields of light;
Who fondly thinks the guardian eyes
Of Gods are on him--as if blest
And blooming in their own blue skies
The eternal Gods were not too wise
To let weak man disturb their rest!--
Tho' thinking of such creeds as thou
And all our Garden sages think,
Yet is there something, I allow,
In dreams like this--a sort of link
With worlds unseen which from the hour
I first could lisp my thoughts till now
Hath mastered me with spell-like power.

And who can tell, as we're combined
Of various atoms--some refined,
Like those that scintillate and play
In the fixt stars--some gross as they
That frown in clouds or sleep in clay--
Who can be sure but 'tis the best
And brightest atoms of our frame,
Those most akin to stellar flame,
That shine out thus, when we're at rest;--
Even as the stars themselves whose light
Comes out but in the silent night.
Or is it that there lurks indeed
Some truth in Man's prevailing creed
And that our Guardians from on high
Come in that pause from toil and sin
To put the senses' curtain by
And on the wakeful soul look in!

Vain thought!--but yet, howe'er it be,
Dreams more than once have proved to me
Oracles, truer far than Oak
Or Dove or Tripod ever spoke.
And 'twas the words--thou'lt hear and smile--
The words that phantom seemed to speak--
"Go and beside the sacred Nile
"You'll find the Eternal Life you seek"--
That haunting me by night, by day,
At length as with the unseen hand
Of Fate itself urged me away
From Athens to this Holy Land;
Where 'mong the secrets still untaught,
The mysteries that as yet nor sun
Nor eye hath reached--oh, blessed thought!--
May sleep this everlasting one.

Farewell--when to our Garden friends
Thou talk'st of the wild dream that sends
The gayest of their school thus far,
Wandering beneath Canopus' star,
Tell them that wander where he will
Or howsoe'er they now condemn
His vague and vain pursuit he still
Is worthy of the School and them;--
Still all their own--nor e'er forgets
Even while his heart and soul pursue
The Eternal Light which never sets,
The many meteor joys that _do_,
But seeks them, hails them with delight
Where'er they meet his longing sight.
And if his life _must_ wane away
Like other lives at least the day,
The hour it lasts shall like a fire
With incense fed in sweets expire.




'Tis true, alas--the mysteries and the lore
I came to study on this, wondrous shore.
Are all forgotten in the new delights.
The strange, wild joys that fill my days and nights.
Instead of dark, dull oracles that speak
From subterranean temples, those _I_ seek
Come from the breathing shrines where Beauty lives,
And Love, her priest, the soft responses gives.
Instead of honoring Isis in those rites
At Coptos held, I hail her when she lights
Her first young crescent on the holy stream--
When wandering youths and maidens watch her beam
And number o'er the nights she hath to run,
Ere she again embrace her bridegroom sun.
While o'er some mystic leaf that dimly lends
A clew into past times the student bends,
And by its glimmering guidance learns to tread
Back thro' the shadowy knowledge of the dead--
The only skill, alas, _I_ yet can claim
Lies in deciphering some new loved-one's name--
Some gentle missive hinting time and place,
In language soft as Memphian reed can trace.

And where--oh where's the heart that could withstand
The unnumbered witcheries of this sun-born land,
Where first young Pleasure's banner was unfurled
And Love hath temples ancient as the world!
Where mystery like the veil by Beauty worn
Hides but to win and shades but to adorn;
Where that luxurious melancholy born
Of passion and of genius sheds a gloom
Making joy holy;--where the bower and tomb
Stand side by side and Pleasure learns from Death
The instant value of each moment's breath.
Couldst thou but see how like a poet's dream
This lovely land now looks!--the glorious stream
That late between its banks was seen to glide
'Mong shrines and marble cities on each side
Glittering like jewels strung along a chain
Hath now sent forth its waters, and o'er plain
And valley like a giant from his bed
Rising with outstretched limbs hath grandly spread.
While far as sight can reach beneath as clear
And blue a heaven as ever blest our sphere,
Gardens and pillared streets and porphyry domes
And high-built temples fit to be the homes
Of mighty Gods, and pyramids whose hour
Outlasts all time above the waters tower!

Then, too, the scenes of pomp and joy that make
One theatre of this vast, peopled lake,
Where all that Love, Religion, Commerce gives
Of life and motion ever moves and lives.
Here, up the steps of temples from the wave
Ascending in procession slow and grave.
Priests in white garments go, with sacred wands
And silver cymbals gleaming in their hands;
While there, rich barks--fresh from those sunny tracts
Far off beyond the sounding cataracts--
Glide with their precious lading to the sea,
Plumes of bright birds, rhinoceros ivory,
Gems from the Isle of Meroe, and those grains
Of gold washed down by Abyssinian rains.
Here where the waters wind into a bay
Shadowy and cool some pilgrims on their way
To Sais or Bubastus among beds
Of lotus flowers that close above their heads
Push their light barks, and there as in a bower,
Sing, talk, or sleep away the sultry hour;
Oft dipping in the Nile, when faint with heat,
That leaf from which its waters drink most sweet.--
While haply not far off beneath a bank
Of blossoming acacias many a prank
Is played in the cool current by a train
Of laughing nymphs, lovely as she,[1] whose chain
Around two conquerors of the world was cast,
But, for a third too feeble, broke at last.

For oh! believe not them who dare to brand
As poor in charms the women of this land.
Tho' darkened by that sun whose spirit flows
Thro' every vein and tinges as it goes,
'Tis but the embrowning of the fruit that tells
How rich within the soul of ripeness dwells--
The hue their own dark sanctuaries wear,
Announcing heaven in half-caught glimpses there.
And never yet did tell-tale looks set free
The secret of young hearts more tenderly.
Such eyes!--long, shadowy, with that languid fall
Of the fringed lids which may be seen in all
Who live beneath the sun's too ardent rays--
Lending such looks as on their marriage days
Young maids cast down before a bridegroom's gaze!
Then for their grace--mark but the nymph-like shapes
Of the young village girls, when carrying grapes
From green Anthylla or light urns of flowers--
Not our own Sculpture in her happiest hours
E'er imaged forth even at the touch of him[2]
Whose touch was life, more luxury of limb!
Then, canst thou wonder if mid scenes like these
I should forget all graver mysteries,
All lore but Love's, all secrets but that best
In heaven or earth, the art of being blest!
Yet are there times--tho' brief I own their stay,
Like summer-clouds that shine themselves away--
Moments of gloom, when even these pleasures pall
Upon my saddening heart and I recall
That garden dream--that promise of a power,
Oh, were there such!--to lengthen out life's hour,
On, on, as thro' a vista far away
Opening before us into endless day!
And chiefly o'er my spirit did this thought
Come on that evening--bright as ever brought
Light's golden farewell to the world--when first
The eternal pyramids of Memphis burst
Awfully on my sight-standing sublime
Twixt earth and heaven, the watch-towers of Time,
From whose lone summit when his reign hath past
From earth for ever he will look his last!

There hung a calm and solemn sunshine round
Those mighty monuments, a hushing sound
In the still air that circled them which stole
Like music of past times into my soul.
I thought what myriads of the wise and brave
And beautiful had sunk into the grave,
Since earth first saw these wonders--and I said
"Are things eternal only for the Dead?
"Hath Man no loftier hope than this which dooms
"His only lasting trophies to be tombs?
"But _'tis_ not so--earth, heaven, all nature shows
"He _may_ become immortal--_may_ unclose
"The wings within him wrapt, and proudly rise
"Redeemed from earth, a creature of the skies!

"And who can say, among the written spells
"From Hermes' hand that in these shrines and cells
"Have from the Flood lay hid there may not be
"Some secret clew to immortality,
"Some amulet whose spell can keep life's fire
"Awake within us never to expire!
"'Tis known that on the Emerald Table, hid
"For ages in yon loftiest pyramid,
"The Thrice-Great[3] did himself engrave of old
"The chymic mystery that gives endless gold.
"And why may not this mightier secret dwell
"Within the same dark chambers? who can tell
"But that those kings who by the written skill
"Of the Emerald Table called forth gold at will
"And quarries upon quarries heapt and hurled,
"To build them domes that might outstand the world--
"Who knows, but that the heavenlier art which shares
"The life of Gods with man was also theirs--
"That they themselves, triumphant o'er the power
"Of fate and death, are living at this hour;
"And these, the giant homes they still possess.
"Not tombs but everlasting palaces
"Within whose depths hid from the world above
"Even now they wander with the few they love,
"Thro' subterranean gardens, by a light
"Unknown on earth which hath nor dawn nor night!
"Else, why those deathless structures? why the grand
"And hidden halls that undermine this land?
"Why else hath none of earth e'er dared to go
"Thro' the dark windings of that realm below,
"Nor aught from heaven itself except the God
"Of Silence thro' those endless labyrinths trod?"
Thus did I dream--wild, wandering dreams, I own,
But such as haunt me ever, if alone,
Or in that pause 'twixt joy and joy I be,
Like a ship husht between two waves at sea.
Then do these spirit whisperings like the sound
Of the Dark Future come appalling round;
Nor can I break the trance that holds me then,
Till high o'er Pleasure's surge I mount again!

Even now for new adventure, new delight,
My heart is on the wing;--this very night,
The Temple on that island halfway o'er
From Memphis' gardens to the eastern shore
Sends up its annual rite[4] to her whose beams
Bring the sweet time of night-flowers and dreams;
The nymph who dips her urn in silent lakes
And turns to silvery dew each drop it takes;--
Oh! not our Dian of the North who chains
In vestal ice the current of young veins,
But she who haunts the gay Bubastian[5] grove
And owns she sees from her bright heaven above,
Nothing on earth to match that heaven but Love.
Think then what bliss will be abroad to-night!--
Besides those sparkling nymphs who meet the sight
Day after day, familiar as the sun,
Coy buds of beauty yet unbreathed upon
And all the hidden loveliness that lies,--
Shut up as are the beams of sleeping eyes
Within these twilight shrines--tonight shall be
Let loose like birds for this festivity!
And mark, 'tis nigh; already the sun bids
His evening farewell to the Pyramids.
As he hath done age after age till they
Alone on earth seem ancient as his ray;
While their great shadows stretching from the light
Look like the first colossal steps of Night
Stretching across the valley to invade
The distant hills of porphyry with their shade.
Around, as signals of the setting beam,
Gay, gilded flags on every housetop gleam:
While, hark!--from all the temples a rich swell

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