Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology

Mapping Keats’s Progress
A Critical Chronology

  • Jan: accumulating influence of Hazlitt; worries that his living circumstance do not allow for concentrated work; I see by little and little more of what is to be done, and how it is to be done, should I ever be able to do it; writing a little now and then; says he continually suffers from agonie ennuiyeuse; I have been writing a little now and then lately: but nothing to speak of—being disconnected and as it were moulting: with Brown visits Chichester and Bedhampton; sore throat
  • Jan-Feb: poem: The Eve of St Agnes
  • Feb: back at Wentworth Place; poem: The Eve of St Mark; I have not been entirely well for some time; What imagination I have I shall enjoy; I have not gone on with Hyperion; I have not been in great cue for writing lately—I must wait for the spring to rouse me up a little; A Man’s life of any worth is a continual allegory; Shakespeare led a life of Allegory; sore throat, which he says has haunted him
  • March: resolves never to write for the sake of writing, or making a poem without years of matured reflection—otherwise I will be dumb; I will not spoil my love of gloom by writing an ode to darkness; I am three and twenty with little knowledge and middling intellect; not exactly on the road to an epic poem; I will not mix with that most vulgar of all crowds the literary; admires Hazlitt, likes half of Wordsworth, none of Hunt; I know not why Poetry and I have been so distant lately. I must make some advances soon or she will cut me entirely
  • March cont’d: articulates a philosophy of disinterestedness of Mind; Circumstances are like Clouds continually gathering and bursting; agrees with Wordsworth: we all have one human heart; despite the frauds of religion, he recognizes the splendour of Jesus; I am however young writing at random—straining at particles of light in the midst of a great darkness—without knowing the bearing of any one assertion of any one opinion; Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced
  • March-June[?]: poem: Ode on Indolence
  • April: Brawne family live in other half of Wentworth Place; I am still at a stand in versifying—I cannot do it yet with any pleasure—I mean to look around at my resources and means—and see what I can do without poetry; The fifth canto of Dante pleases me more and more; continuing suspicion of Abbey, the trustee of family finances
  • April cont’d: accidental encounter with Coleridge; no more can man be happy in spite, the worldly elements will prey upon his nature; the vale of Soul-making—a grander system of salvation: a World of Pains and troubles is [necessary] to school an Intelligence and make it a soul; poem: La Belle Dame sans Merci; poem: Hyperion, K gives up on; poems: On Fame (Fame, like a wayward girl) and On Fame (How fever’d is the man); poem: Ode to Psyche, over which K says he has taken moderate pains
  • April-May[?]:poem: If by dull rhymes; poem: Ode on a Grecian Urn; poem: Ode on Melancholy
  • May: one of two poison choices in life: leading a fevrous life alone with Poetry; I would rather conquer my indolence and strain my nerves at some grand Poem than be a dunderheaded indiaman; poem: Ode to a Nightingale
  • June-July: sore throat
  • June-Aug: lives at Shanklin, Isle of Wight, with Rice
  • June: I cannot resolve to give up my favorite studies: so I propose to retire into the Country and set my Mind a work once more; My purpose is now to make one more attempt in the Press; idled by the overpowering idea of our dead poets and from the abatement of my love of fame; I dare say my discipline is to come, and plenty of it too; hopes he has become less of a versifying Pet-Lamb; continuing serious money problems
  • July: letters to Fanny Brawne confessing deep, absorbing love; now looks upon the affairs of the world with healthy deliberation; I have of late been moulting: not for fresh feathers & wings [but for] sublunary legs [ . . . ] whence I may look out into the stage of the world; Poems are as common as newspapers and I do not see why it is a greater crime in me than in another to let the verses of an half-fledged brain tumble into the reading-rooms and drawing room windows; poem: Ode to a Nightingale published; poem: The Fall of Hyperion, a new attempt at Hyperion (mainly gives up on Sept); throat problems and uneven temper
  • July-Aug: writing Otho the Great, with Brown, rev. Dec-Jan
  • July-Sept: poem: Lamia, with hopes of great hopes of success (rev. March 1820)
  • Aug-Oct: lives at Winchester, with Brown
  • Aug: serious money issues continue; plunging so deeply into imaginary interests; Shakespeare and the Paradise Lost every day become greater wonders; contempt for the literary world will enable me to write finer things than any thing else could; fine writing is next to fine doing the top thing in the world; the best sort of Poetry—that is all I care for, all I live for; I feel it in my power to become a popular writer
  • Sept: believes that Lamia will offer readers sensation; poem: To Autumn; poem: The Fall of Hyperion overly Miltonic, too artful with false beauty; mainly gives up on The Fall of Hyperion; wants to work as a periodical writer, live cheaply; strengthening one’s intellect is to make up one’s mind about nothing; does not trust poetry as a livelihood; My Poetry will never be fit for anything it doesn’t cover its ground well
  • Sept: an odd sort of life for the two or three last years—Here & there—No anchor—I am glad of it; My name with the literary fashionable is vulgar; Bryon describes what he sees—I describe what I imagine; The great beauty of Poetry is, that it makes every thing every place interesting; I want to compose without this fever of vexation and ambition; wishes to write without the Miltonic vein of art; I will no longer live upon hopes; things won’t leave me alone
  • Sept/Oct[?]: poem: Bright Star
  • Oct: briefly lives at 25 College Street, Westminster; I cannot exist without you, to Fanny Brawne; I must be busy, or try to be so; I am more fond of pleasure than study; returns to live at Wentworth Place, Hampstead; perplexed by and time taken up with financial affairs related to his brother’s (George’s) bankruptcy in America; Otho the Great sent to Drury Lane for possible production
  • Nov: Keats calls his neglectful manner a disease which at intervals comes upon me like a fever fit; without purpose: lax, unemployed, unmeridian’d, and objectless; money issues mounting; tends to his brother’s financial concerns; greatest ambition is to write plays, yet motivation weakening; briefly works on The Fall of Hyperion, but leaves it, having also given up in Sept
  • Nov[?]: poem: The Cap and Belles; poem: This living hand
  • Dec: engaged to Fanny Brawne; unwell, and fears about cold weather and throat issues; doctor orders he gets a warm coat and thick shoes; preparing some Poems to come out in the Spring; K (wrongly) believes he has hopes of success in the literary world based on possible production of Otho the Great
  • 1819: Burlington Arcade opens, London; Peterloo Massacre, August, Manchester; Six Acts passed to limit and suppress reform; Wordsworth publishes Peter Bell; Percy Shelley publishes The Cenci, writes Masque of Anarchy [publ. 1832], Ode to the West Wind; Bryon publishes Don Juan cantos 1 and 2, anonymously; Polidori publishes The Vampyre; Parry explores the Arctic; born: John Ruskin, George Eliot, Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, James Russell Lowell, Queen Victoria; the financial Panic of 1819 in America
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The Eve of St. Agnes

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

  • He follow’d thorugh a lowly arched way,
  • Brushing the cobwebs with his lofty plume,
  • And as she mutter’d ″Well-a-well-a-day!″
  • He found him in a little moonlight room,
  • Pale, lattic’d, chill, and silent as a tomb.
  • ″Now tell me, where is Madeline,″ said he,
  • ″O tell me, Angela, by the holy loom
  • Which non but secret sisterhood may see,
  • When they St. Agnes’ wool are we having piosuly.″

14

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

XV

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

XVI

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

XVII

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

XVIII

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

XIX

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

31

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

32

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

33

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

34

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

35

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

36

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

37

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

38

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

39

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

40

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

41

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

42

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

The Eve of St. Mark

  • Upon a Sabbath day it fell;
  • Twice holy was the Sabbath bell,
  • That call’d the folk to evening prayer.
  • The city streets were clean and fair
  • From wholesome drench of April rains;
  • And, on the western window panes,
  • The chilly sunset faintly told
  • Of unmatur’d green vallies cold,
  • Of the green thorny bloomless hedge,
  • Of rivers new with spring-tide sedge,
  • Of primroses by shelter’d rills,
  • And daisies on the aguish hills.
  • Twice holy was the Sabbath bell:
  • The silent streets were crowded well
  • With staid and pious companies,
  • Warm from their fire-side orat’ries;
  • And moving, with demurest air,
  • To even-song, and vesper prayer.
  • Each arched porch, and entry low,
  • Was fill’d with patient folk and slow,
  • With whispers hush, and shuffling feet,
  • While play’d the organ loud and sweet.
  • The bells had ceas’d, the prayers begun,
  • And Bertha had not yet half done
  • A curious volume, patch’d and torn,
  • That all day long, from earliest morn,
  • Had taken captive her two eyes,
  • Among its golden broideries;
  • Perplex’d her with a thousand things, —
  • The stars of heaven, and angels’ wings,
  • Martyrs in a fiery blaze,
  • Azure saints in silver rays,
  • Aaron’s breastplate, and the seven
  • Candlesticks John saw in heaven,
  • The winged Lion of Saint Mark,
  • And the Covenantal Ark,
  • With its many mysteries,
  • Cherubim and golden mice.
  • Bertha was a maiden fair,
  • Dwelling in the old Minster-Square;
  • From her fire-side she could see,
  • Sidelong, its rich antiquity,
  • Far as the bishop’s garden-wall;
  • Where sycamores and elm-trees tall,
  • Full-leav’d, the forest had outstript,
  • By no sharp north-wind ever nipt,
  • So shelter’d by the mighty pile.
  • Bertha arose, and read awhile,
  • With forehead ’gainst the window-pane.
  • Again she tried, and then again,
  • Until the dusk eve left her dark
  • Upon the legend of St. Mark.
  • From plaited lawn-frill, fine and thin,
  • She lifted up her soft warm chin,
  • With aching neck and swimming eyes,
  • And dazed with saintly imag’ries.
  • All was gloom, and silent all,
  • Save now and then the still foot-fall
  • Of one returning homewards late,
  • Past the echoing minster-gate.
  • The clamorous daws, that all the day
  • Above tree-tops and towers play,
  • Pair by pair had gone to rest,
  • Each in its ancient belfry-nest,
  • Where asleep they fall betimes
  • To music of the drowsy chimes.
  • All was silent, all was gloom,
  • Abroad and in the homely room;
  • Down she sat, poor cheated soul!
  • And struck a lamp from the dismal coal;
  • Leaned forward, with bright drooping hair
  • And slant book, full against the glare.
  • Her shadow, in uneasy guise,
  • Hover’d about, a giant size,
  • On ceiling-beam and old oak chair,
  • The parrot’s cage, and panel square;
  • And the warm angled winter screen,
  • On which were many monsters seen,
  • Call’d doves of Siam, Lima mice,
  • And legless birds of paradise,
  • Macaw, and tender av’davat,
  • And silken-furr’d Angora cat.
  • Untired she read, her shadow still
  • Glower’d about, as it would fill
  • The room with wildest forms and shades,
  • As though some ghostly queen of spades
  • Had come to mock behind her back,
  • And dance, and ruffle her garments black.
  • Untir’d she read the legend page,
  • Of holy Mark, from youth to age;
  • On land, on sea, in pagan-chains,
  • Rejoicing for his many pains.
  • Sometimes the learned eremite,
  • With golden star, or dagger bright,
  • Referr’d to pious poesies
  • Written in smallest crow-quill size
  • Beneath the text; and thus the rhyme
  • Was parcel’d out from time to time:
  • — “Als writith he of swevenis,
  • Men han beforne they wake in bliss,
  • Whanne thate hir friendes thinke hem bound
  • In crimped shroude farre under grounde;
  • And how a litling child mote be
  • A saint er its nativitie,
  • Gif thate the modre ( God her blesse! )
  • Kepen in solitarinesse,
  • And kissen devoute the holy croce.
  • Of Goddis love and Sathan’s force, —
  • He writith; and thinges many mo:
  • Of swiche thinges I may not show.
  • Bot I must tellen verilie
  • Somdel of Sainte Cicilie;
  • And chieflie whate he auctorethe
  • Of Sainte Markis life and dethe.”
  • At length her constant eyelids come
  • Upon the fervent martyrdom;
  • Then lastly to his holy shrine,
  • Exalt amid the tapers’ shine
  • At Venice, —
🗙

Ode on Indolence

They toil not, neither do they spin.

I

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

II

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

III

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

IV

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

V

  • And once more came they by. Alas, wherefore?
  • My sleep had been embroidered with dim dreams;
  • My soul had been a lawn besprinkled o’er
  • With flowers, and stirring shades, and baffled beams:
  • The morn was clouded, but no shower fell,
  • Though in her lids hung the sweet tears of May;
  • The open casement pressed a new-leaved vine,
  • Let in the budding warmth and throstle’s lay;
  • O Shadows! ’twas a time to bid farewell!
  • Upon your skirts had fallen no tears of mine.

VI

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

La Belle Dame sans Merci:
A Ballad

I

  • Oh, what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
  • Alone and palely loitering?
  • The sedge has withered from the Lake,
  • And no birds sing!

II

  • Oh, what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
  • So haggard and so woe-begone?
  • The squirrel’s granary is full,
  • And the harvest’s done.

III

  • I see a lily on thy brow,
  • With anguish moist and fever-dew,
  • And on thy cheeks a fading rose
  • Fast withereth too.

IV

  • I met a Lady in the Meads,
  • Full beautiful, a faery’s child,
  • Her hair was long, her foot was light,
  • And her eyes were wild.

V

  • I made a Garland for her head,
  • And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
  • She looked at me as she did love,
  • And made sweet moan

VI

  • I set her on my pacing steed,
  • And nothing else saw all day long;
  • For sidelong would she bend, and sing
  • A faery’s song—

VII

  • She found me roots of relish sweet,
  • And honey wild and manna dew,
  • And sure in language strange she said—
  • I love thee true—

VIII

  • She took me to her elfin grot,
  • And there she wept and sigh’d full sore,
  • And there I shut her wild wild eyes
  • With kisses four.

IX

  • And there she lullèd me asleep,
  • And there I dream’d—Ah! woe betide!—
  • The latest dream I ever dreamt
  • On the cold hill side.

X

  • I saw pale kings, and princes too,
  • Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
  • They cried—‘La belle dame sans merci
  • Thee hath in thrall!’

XI

  • I saw their starv’d lips in the gloam
  • With horrid warning gapèd wide,
  • And I awoke, and found me here
  • On the cold hill’s side.

XII

  • And this is why I sojourn here,
  • Alone and palely loitering,
  • Though the sedge is withered from the lake,
  • And no birds sing.
🗙

On Fame (Fame, like a wayward girl)

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

On Fame (How fever’d is the man)

  • How fever’d is the man, who cannot look
  • Upon his mortal days with temperate blood,
  • Who vexes all the leaves of his life’s book,
  • And robs his fair name of its maidenhood;
  • It is as if the rose should pluck herself,
  • Or the ripe plum finger its misty bloom,
  • As if a Naiad, like a meddling elf,
  • Should darken her pure grot with muddy gloom
  • But the rose leaves herself upon the briar,
  • For winds to kiss and grateful bees to feed,
  • And the ripe plum still wears its dim attire,
  • The undisturbed lake has crystal space;
  • Why then should man, teasing the world for grace,
  • Spoil his salvation for a fierce miscreed?
🗙

Ode to Psyche

  • O Goddess! hear these tuneless numbers, wrung
  • By sweet enforcement and remembrance dear,
  • And pardon that thy secrets should be sung
  • Even into thine own soft-conched ear:
  • Surely I dreamt to-day, or did I see
  • The winged Psyche with awaken’d eyes?
  • I wander’d in a forest thoughtlessly,
  • And, on the sudden, fainting with surprise,
  • Saw two fair creatures, couched side by side
  • In deepest grass, beneath the whisp’ring roof
  • Of leaves and trembled blossoms, where there ran
  • A brooklet, scarce espied:
  • Mid hush’d, cool-rooted flowers, fragrant-eyed,
  • Blue, silver-white, and budded Tyrian,
  • They lay calm-breathing, on the bedded grass;
  • Their arms embraced, and their pinions too;
  • Their lips touch’d not, but had not bade adieu,
  • As if disjoined by soft-handed slumber,
  • And ready still past kisses to outnumber
  • At tender eye-dawn of aurorean love:
  • The winged boy I knew;
  • But who wast thou, O happy, happy dove?
  • His Psyche true!
  • O latest born and loveliest vision far
  • Of all Olympus’ faded hierarchy!
  • Fairer than Phoebe’s sapphire-region’d star,
  • Or Vesper, amorous glow-worm of the sky;
  • Fairer than these, though temple thou hast none,
  • Nor altar heap’d with flowers;
  • Nor virgin-choir to make delicious moan
  • Upon the midnight hours;
  • No voice, no lute, no pipe, no incense sweet
  • From chain-swung censer teeming;
  • No shrine, no grove, no oracle, no heat
  • Of pale-mouth’d prophet dreaming.
  • O brightest! though too late for antique vows,
  • Too, too late for the fond believing lyre,
  • When holy were the haunted forest boughs,
  • Holy the air, the water, and the fire;
  • Yet even in these days so far retir’d
  • From happy pieties, thy lucent fans,
  • Fluttering among the faint Olympians,
  • I see, and sing, by my own eyes inspir’d.
  • So let me be thy choir, and make a moan
  • Upon the midnight hours;
  • Thy voice, thy lute, thy pipe, thy incense sweet
  • From swinged censer teeming;
  • Thy shrine, thy grove, thy oracle, thy heat
  • Of pale-mouth’d prophet dreaming.
  • Yes, I will be thy priest, and build a fane
  • In some untrodden region of my mind,
  • Where branched thoughts, new grown with pleasant pain,
  • Instead of pines shall murmur in the wind:
  • Far, far around shall those dark-cluster’d trees
  • Fledge the wild-ridged mountains steep by steep;
  • And there by zephyrs, streams, and birds, and bees,
  • The moss-lain Dryads shall be lull’d to sleep;
  • And in the midst of this wide quietness
  • A rosy sanctuary will I dress
  • With the wreath’d trellis of a working brain,
  • With buds, and bells, and stars without a name,
  • With all the gardener Fancy e’er could feign,
  • Who breeding flowers, will never breed the same:
  • And there shall be for thee all soft delight
  • That shadowy thought can win,
  • A bright torch, and a casement ope at night,
  • To let the warm Love in!
🗙

If by dull rhymes our English must be chain’d

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

Ode on a Grecian Urn

1.

  • Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness, 
  • Thou foster-child of silence and slow time, 
  • Sylvan historian, who canst thus express 
  • A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme: 
  • What leaf-fring’d legend haunts about thy shape 
  • Of deities or mortals, or of both, 
  • In Tempe or the dales of Arcady? 
  • What men or gods are these? What maidens loth? 
  • What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? 
  • What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

2.

  • Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard 
  • Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on; 
  • Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d, 
  • Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone: 
  • Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave 
  • Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare; 
  • Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss, 
  • Though winning near the goal—yet, do not grieve; 
  • She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss, 
  • For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

3.

  • Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed 
  • Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu; 
  • And, happy melodist, unwearied, 
  • For ever piping songs for ever new; 
  • More happy love! more happy, happy love! 
  • For ever warm and still to be enjoy’d, 
  • For ever panting, and for ever young;
  • All breathing human passion far above, 
  • That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy’d,
  • A burning forehead, and a parching tongue. 

4.

  • Who are these coming to the sacrifice? 
  • To what green altar, O mysterious priest, 
  • Lead’st thou that heifer lowing at the skies, 
  • And all her silken flanks with garlands dressed? 
  • What little town by river or sea shore, 
  • Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel, 
  • Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn? 
  • And, little town, thy streets for evermore 
  • Will silent be; and not a soul to tell 
  • Why thou art desolate, can e’er return.

5.

  • O Attic shape! Fair attitude! With brede 
  • Of marble men and maidens overwrought, 
  • With forest branches and the trodden weed; 
  • Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought 
  • As doth eternity. Cold Pastoral! 
  • When old age shall this generation waste, 
  • Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe 
  • Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st, 
  • “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,”—that is all 
  • Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

[Text based on the published version in Keats’s 1820 collection.]

🗙

Ode on Melancholy

1

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

2

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

3

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

Ode to a Nightingale

1

  • My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
  • My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
  • Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
  • One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
  • ’Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
  • But being too happy in thine happiness,
  • That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
  • In some melodious plot
  • Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
  • Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

2

  • O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
  • Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth,
  • Tasting of Flora and the country green,
  • Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
  • O for a beaker full of the warm South,
  • Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
  • With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
  • And purple-stained mouth;
  • That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
  • And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

3

  • Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
  • What thou among the leaves hast never known,
  • The weariness, the fever, and the fret
  • Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
  • Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
  • Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
  • Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
  • And leaden-eyed despairs,
  • Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
  • Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

4

  • Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
  • Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
  • But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
  • Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
  • Already with thee! tender is the night,
  • And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
  • Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays;
  • But here there is no light,
  • Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
  • Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

5

  • I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
  • Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
  • But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
  • Wherewith the seasonable month endows
  • The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
  • White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
  • Fast fading violets cover’d up in leaves;
  • And mid-May’s eldest child,
  • The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
  • The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

6

  • Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
  • I have been half in love with easeful Death,
  • Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
  • To take into the air my quiet breath;
  • Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
  • To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
  • While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
  • In such an ecstasy!
  • Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
  • To thy high requiem become a sod.

7

  • Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
  • No hungry generations tread thee down;
  • The voice I hear this passing night was heard
  • In ancient days by emperor and clown:
  • Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
  • Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
  • She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
  • The same that oft-times hath
  • Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam
  • Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

8

  • Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
  • To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
  • Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
  • As she is fam’d to do, deceiving elf.
  • Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
  • Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
  • Up the hill-side; and now ‘tis buried deep
  • In the next valley-glades:
  • Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
  • Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?
🗙

Lamia

Part I

  • UPON a time, before the faery broods
  • Drove Nymph and Satyr from the prosperous woods,
  • Before King Oberon’s bright diadem,
  • Sceptre, and mantle, clasp’d with dewy gem,
  • Frighted away the Dryads and the Fauns
  • From rushes green, and brakes, and cowslip’d lawns,
  • The ever-smitten Hermes empty left
  • His golden throne, bent warm on amorous theft:
  • From high Olympus had he stolen light,
  • On this side of Jove’s clouds, to escape the sight
  • Of his great summoner, and made retreat
  • Into a forest on the shores of Crete.
  • For somewhere in that sacred island dwelt
  • A nymph, to whom all hoofed Satyrs knelt;
  • At whose white feet the languid Tritons poured
  • Pearls, while on land they wither’d and adored.
  • Fast by the springs where she to bathe was wont,
  • And in those meads where sometime she might haunt,
  • Were strewn rich gifts, unknown to any Muse,
  • Though Fancy’s casket were unlock’d to choose.
  • Ah, what a world of love was at her feet!
  • So Hermes thought, and a celestial heat
  • Burnt from his winged heels to either ear,
  • That from a whiteness, as the lily clear,
  • Blush’d into roses ’mid his golden hair,
  • Fallen in jealous curls about his shoulders bare.
  • From vale to vale, from wood to wood, he flew,
  • Breathing upon the flowers his passion new,
  • And wound with many a river to its head,
  • To find where this sweet nymph prepar’d her secret bed:
  • In vain; the sweet nymph might nowhere be found,
  • And so he rested, on the lonely ground,
  • Pensive, and full of painful jealousies
  • Of the Wood-Gods, and even the very trees.
  • There as he stood, he heard a mournful voice,
  • Such as once heard, in gentle heart, destroys
  • All pain but pity: thus the lone voice spake:
  • “When from this wreathed tomb shall I awake!
  • “When move in a sweet body fit for life,
  • “And love, and pleasure, and the ruddy strife
  • “Of hearts and lips! Ah, miserable me!”
  • The God, dove-footed, glided silently
  • Round bush and tree, soft-brushing, in his speed,
  • The taller grasses and full-flowering weed,
  • Until he found a palpitating snake,
  • Bright, and cirque-couchant in a dusky brake.
  • She was a gordian shape of dazzling hue,
  • Vermilion-spotted, golden, green, and blue;
  • Striped like a zebra, freckled like a pard,
  • Eyed like a peacock, and all crimson barr’d;
  • And full of silver moons, that, as she breathed,
  • Dissolv’d, or brighter shone, or interwreathed
  • Their lustres with the gloomier tapestries—
  • So rainbow-sided, touch’d with miseries,
  • She seem’d, at once, some penanced lady elf,
  • Some demon’s mistress, or the demon’s self.
  • Upon her crest she wore a wannish fire
  • Sprinkled with stars, like Ariadne’s tiar:
  • Her head was serpent, but ah, bitter-sweet!
  • She had a woman’s mouth with all its pearls complete:
  • And for her eyes: what could such eyes do there
  • But weep, and weep, that they were born so fair?
  • As Proserpine still weeps for her Sicilian air.
  • Her throat was serpent, but the words she spake
  • Came, as through bubbling honey, for Love’s sake,
  • And thus; while Hermes on his pinions lay,
  • Like a stoop’d falcon ere he takes his prey.
  • “Fair Hermes, crown’d with feathers, fluttering light,
  • “I had a splendid dream of thee last night:
  • “I saw thee sitting, on a throne of gold,
  • “Among the Gods, upon Olympus old,
  • “The only sad one; for thou didst not hear
  • “The soft, lute-finger’d Muses chaunting clear,
  • “Nor even Apollo when he sang alone,
  • “Deaf to his throbbing throat’s long, long melodious moan.
  • “I dreamt I saw thee, robed in purple flakes,
  • “Break amorous through the clouds, as morning breaks,
  • “And, swiftly as a bright Phoebean dart,
  • “Strike for the Cretan isle; and here thou art!
  • “Too gentle Hermes, hast thou found the maid?”
  • Whereat the star of Lethe not delay’d
  • His rosy eloquence, and thus inquired:
  • “Thou smooth-lipp’d serpent, surely high inspired!
  • “Thou beauteous wreath, with melancholy eyes,
  • “Possess whatever bliss thou canst devise,
  • “Telling me only where my nymph is fled,—
  • “Where she doth breathe!” “Bright planet, thou hast said,”
  • Return’d the snake, “but seal with oaths, fair God!”
  • “I swear,” said Hermes, “by my serpent rod,
  • “And by thine eyes, and by thy starry crown!”
  • Light flew his earnest words, among the blossoms blown.
  • Then thus again the brilliance feminine:
  • “Too frail of heart! for this lost nymph of thine,
  • “Free as the air, invisibly, she strays
  • “About these thornless wilds; her pleasant days
  • “She tastes unseen; unseen her nimble feet
  • “Leave traces in the grass and flowers sweet;
  • “From weary tendrils, and bow’d branches green,
  • “She plucks the fruit unseen, she bathes unseen:
  • “And by my power is her beauty veil’d
  • “To keep it unaffronted, unassail’d
  • “By the love-glances of unlovely eyes,
  • “Of Satyrs, Fauns, and blear’d Silenus’ sighs.
  • “Pale grew her immortality, for woe
  • “Of all these lovers, and she grieved so
  • “I took compassion on her, bade her steep
  • “Her hair in weird syrops, that would keep
  • “Her loveliness invisible, yet free
  • “To wander as she loves, in liberty.
  • “Thou shalt behold her, Hermes, thou alone,
  • “If thou wilt, as thou swearest, grant my boon!”
  • Then, once again, the charmed God began
  • An oath, and through the serpent’s ears it ran
  • Warm, tremulous, devout, psalterian.
  • Ravish’d, she lifted her Circean head,
  • Blush’d a live damask, and swift-lisping said,
  • “I was a woman, let me have once more
  • “A woman’s shape, and charming as before.
  • “I love a youth of Corinth—O the bliss!
  • “Give me my woman’s form, and place me where he is.
  • “Stoop, Hermes, let me breathe upon thy brow,
  • “And thou shalt see thy sweet nymph even now.”
  • The God on half-shut feathers sank serene,
  • She breath’d upon his eyes, and swift was seen
  • Of both the guarded nymph near-smiling on the green.
  • It was no dream; or say a dream it was,
  • Real are the dreams of Gods, and smoothly pass
  • Their pleasures in a long immortal dream.
  • One warm, flush’d moment, hovering, it might seem
  • Dash’d by the wood-nymph’s beauty, so he burn’d;
  • Then, lighting on the printless verdure, turn’d
  • To the swoon’d serpent, and with languid arm,
  • Delicate, put to proof the lythe Caducean charm.
  • So done, upon the nymph his eyes he bent,
  • Full of adoring tears and blandishment,
  • And towards her stept: she, like a moon in wane,
  • Faded before him, cower’d, nor could restrain
  • Her fearful sobs, self-folding like a flower
  • That faints into itself at evening hour:
  • But the God fostering her chilled hand,
  • She felt the warmth, her eyelids open’d bland,
  • And, like new flowers at morning song of bees,
  • Bloom’d, and gave up her honey to the lees.
  • Into the green-recessed woods they flew;
  • Nor grew they pale, as mortal lovers do.
  • Left to herself, the serpent now began
  • To change; her elfin blood in madness ran,
  • Her mouth foam’d, and the grass, therewith besprent,
  • Wither’d at dew so sweet and virulent;
  • Her eyes in torture fix’d, and anguish drear,
  • Hot, glaz’d, and wide, with lid-lashes all sear,
  • Flash’d phosphor and sharp sparks, without one cooling tear.
  • The colours all inflam’d throughout her train,
  • She writh’d about, convuls’d with scarlet pain:
  • A deep volcanian yellow took the place
  • Of all her milder-mooned body’s grace;
  • And, as the lava ravishes the mead,
  • Spoilt all her silver mail, and golden brede;
  • Made gloom of all her frecklings, streaks and bars,
  • Eclips’d her crescents, and lick’d up her stars:
  • So that, in moments few, she was undrest
  • Of all her sapphires, greens, and amethyst,
  • And rubious-argent: of all these bereft,
  • Nothing but pain and ugliness were left.
  • Still shone her crown; that vanish’d, also she
  • Melted and disappear’d as suddenly;
  • And in the air, her new voice luting soft,
  • Cried, “Lycius! gentle Lycius!”—Borne aloft
  • With the bright mists about the mountains hoar
  • These words dissolv’d: Crete’s forests heard no more.
  • Ah, happy Lycius!—for she was a maid
  • More beautiful than ever twisted braid,
  • Or sigh’d, or blush’d, or on spring-flowered lea
  • Spread a green kirtle to the minstrelsy:
  • A virgin purest lipp’d, yet in the lore
  • Of love deep learned to the red heart’s core:
  • Not one hour old, yet of sciential brain
  • To unperplex bliss from its neighbour pain;
  • Define their pettish limits, and estrange
  • Their points of contact, and swift counterchange;
  • Intrigue with the specious chaos, and dispart
  • Its most ambiguous atoms with sure art;
  • As though in Cupid’s college she had spent
  • Sweet days a lovely graduate, still unshent,
  • And kept his rosy terms in idle languishment.
  • Why this fair creature chose so fairily
  • By the wayside to linger, we shall see;
  • But first ’tis fit to tell how she could muse
  • And dream, when in the serpent prison-house,
  • Of all she list, strange or magnificent:
  • How, ever, where she will’d, her spirit went;
  • Whether to faint Elysium, or where
  • Down through tress-lifting waves the Nereids fair
  • Wind into Thetis’ bower by many a pearly stair;
  • Or where God Bacchus drains his cups divine,
  • Stretch’d out, at ease, beneath a glutinous pine;
  • Or where in Pluto’s gardens palatine
  • Mulciber’s columns gleam in far piazzian line.
  • And sometimes into cities she would send
  • Her dream, with feast and rioting to blend;
  • And once, while among mortals dreaming thus,
  • She saw the young Corinthian Lycius
  • Charioting foremost in the envious race,
  • Like a young Jove with calm uneager face,
  • And fell into a swooning love of him.
  • Now on the moth-time of that evening dim
  • He would return that way, as well she knew,
  • To Corinth from the shore; for freshly blew
  • The eastern soft wind, and his galley now
  • Grated the quaystones with her brazen prow
  • In port Cenchreas, from Egina isle
  • Fresh anchor’d; whither he had been awhile
  • To sacrifice to Jove, whose temple there
  • Waits with high marble doors for blood and incense rare.
  • Jove heard his vows, and better’d his desire;
  • For by some freakful chance he made retire
  • From his companions, and set forth to walk,
  • Perhaps grown wearied of their Corinth talk:
  • Over the solitary hills he fared,
  • Thoughtless at first, but ere eve’s star appeared
  • His phantasy was lost, where reason fades,
  • In the calm’d twilight of Platonic shades.
  • Lamia beheld him coming, near, more near—
  • Close to her passing, in indifference drear,
  • His silent sandals swept the mossy green;
  • So neighbour’d to him, and yet so unseen
  • She stood: he pass’d, shut up in mysteries,
  • His mind wrapp’d like his mantle, while her eyes
  • Follow’d his steps, and her neck regal white
  • Turn’d—syllabling thus, “Ah, Lycius bright,
  • “And will you leave me on the hills alone?
  • “Lycius, look back! and be some pity shown.”
  • He did; not with cold wonder fearingly,
  • But Orpheus-like at an Eurydice;
  • For so delicious were the words she sung,
  • It seem’d he had lov’d them a whole summer long:
  • And soon his eyes had drunk her beauty up,
  • Leaving no drop in the bewildering cup,
  • And still the cup was full,—while he afraid
  • Lest she should vanish ere his lip had paid
  • Due adoration, thus began to adore;
  • Her soft look growing coy, she saw his chain so sure:
  • “Leave thee alone! Look back! Ah, Goddess, see
  • “Whether my eyes can ever turn from thee!
  • “For pity do not this sad heart belie—
  • “Even as thou vanishest so I shall die.
  • “Stay! though a Naiad of the rivers, stay!
  • “To thy far wishes will thy streams obey:
  • “Stay! though the greenest woods be thy domain,
  • “Alone they can drink up the morning rain:
  • “Though a descended Pleiad, will not one
  • “Of thine harmonious sisters keep in tune
  • “Thy spheres, and as thy silver proxy shine?
  • “So sweetly to these ravish’d ears of mine
  • “Came thy sweet greeting, that if thou shouldst fade
  • “Thy memory will waste me to a shade:—
  • “For pity do not melt!”—“If I should stay,”
  • Said Lamia, “here, upon this floor of clay,
  • “And pain my steps upon these flowers too rough,
  • “What canst thou say or do of charm enough
  • “To dull the nice remembrance of my home?
  • “Thou canst not ask me with thee here to roam
  • “Over these hills and vales, where no joy is,—
  • “Empty of immortality and bliss!
  • “Thou art a scholar, Lycius, and must know
  • “That finer spirits cannot breathe below
  • “In human climes, and live: Alas! poor youth,
  • “What taste of purer air hast thou to soothe
  • “My essence? What serener palaces,
  • “Where I may all my many senses please,
  • “And by mysterious sleights a hundred thirsts appease?
  • “It cannot be—Adieu!” So said, she rose
  • Tiptoe with white arms spread. He, sick to lose
  • The amorous promise of her lone complain,
  • Swoon’d, murmuring of love, and pale with pain.
  • The cruel lady, without any show
  • Of sorrow for her tender favourite’s woe,
  • But rather, if her eyes could brighter be,
  • With brighter eyes and slow amenity,
  • Put her new lips to his, and gave afresh
  • The life she had so tangled in her mesh:
  • And as he from one trance was wakening
  • Into another, she began to sing,
  • Happy in beauty, life, and love, and every thing,
  • A song of love, too sweet for earthly lyres,
  • While, like held breath, the stars drew in their panting fires
  • And then she whisper’d in such trembling tone,
  • As those who, safe together met alone
  • For the first time through many anguish’d days,
  • Use other speech than looks; bidding him raise
  • His drooping head, and clear his soul of doubt,
  • For that she was a woman, and without
  • Any more subtle fluid in her veins
  • Than throbbing blood, and that the self-same pains
  • Inhabited her frail-strung heart as his.
  • And next she wonder’d how his eyes could miss
  • Her face so long in Corinth, where, she said,
  • She dwelt but half retir’d, and there had led
  • Days happy as the gold coin could invent
  • Without the aid of love; yet in content
  • Till she saw him, as once she pass’d him by,
  • Where ’gainst a column he leant thoughtfully
  • At Venus’ temple porch, ’mid baskets heap’d
  • Of amorous herbs and flowers, newly reap’d
  • Late on that eve, as ’twas the night before
  • The Adonian feast; whereof she saw no more,
  • But wept alone those days, for why should she adore?
  • Lycius from death awoke into amaze,
  • To see her still, and singing so sweet lays;
  • Then from amaze into delight he fell
  • To hear her whisper woman’s lore so well;
  • And every word she spake entic’d him on
  • To unperplex’d delight and pleasure known.
  • Let the mad poets say whate’er they please
  • Of the sweets of Fairies, Peris, Goddesses,
  • There is not such a treat among them all,
  • Haunters of cavern, lake, and waterfall,
  • As a real woman, lineal indeed
  • From Pyrrha’s pebbles or old Adam’s seed.
  • Thus gentle Lamia judg’d, and judg’d aright,
  • That Lycius could not love in half a fright,
  • So threw the goddess off, and won his heart
  • More pleasantly by playing woman’s part,
  • With no more awe than what her beauty gave,
  • That, while it smote, still guaranteed to save.
  • Lycius to all made eloquent reply,
  • Marrying to every word a twinborn sigh;
  • And last, pointing to Corinth, ask’d her sweet,
  • If ’twas too far that night for her soft feet.
  • The way was short, for Lamia’s eagerness
  • Made, by a spell, the triple league decrease
  • To a few paces; not at all surmised
  • By blinded Lycius, so in her comprized.
  • They pass’d the city gates, he knew not how
  • So noiseless, and he never thought to know.
  • As men talk in a dream, so Corinth all,
  • Throughout her palaces imperial,
  • And all her populous streets and temples lewd,
  • Mutter’d, like tempest in the distance brew’d,
  • To the wide-spreaded night above her towers.
  • Men, women, rich and poor, in the cool hours,
  • Shuffled their sandals o’er the pavement white,
  • Companion’d or alone; while many a light
  • Flared, here and there, from wealthy festivals,
  • And threw their moving shadows on the walls,
  • Or found them cluster’d in the corniced shade
  • Of some arch’d temple door, or dusky colonnade.
  • Muffling his face, of greeting friends in fear,
  • Her fingers he press’d hard, as one came near
  • With curl’d gray beard, sharp eyes, and smooth bald crown,
  • Slow-stepp’d, and robed in philosophic gown:
  • Lycius shrank closer, as they met and past,
  • Into his mantle, adding wings to haste,
  • While hurried Lamia trembled: “Ah,” said he,
  • “Why do you shudder, love, so ruefully?
  • “Why does your tender palm dissolve in dew?”—
  • “I’m wearied,” said fair Lamia: “tell me who
  • “Is that old man? I cannot bring to mind
  • “His features:—Lycius! wherefore did you blind
  • “Yourself from his quick eyes?” Lycius replied,
  • “’Tis Apollonius sage, my trusty guide
  • “And good instructor; but to-night he seems
  • “The ghost of folly haunting my sweet dreams.
  • While yet he spake they had arrived before
  • A pillar’d porch, with lofty portal door,
  • Where hung a silver lamp, whose phosphor glow
  • Reflected in the slabbed steps below,
  • Mild as a star in water; for so new,
  • And so unsullied was the marble hue,
  • So through the crystal polish, liquid fine,
  • Ran the dark veins, that none but feet divine
  • Could e’er have touch’d there. Sounds Aeolian
  • Breath’d from the hinges, as the ample span
  • Of the wide doors disclos’d a place unknown
  • Some time to any, but those two alone,
  • And a few Persian mutes, who that same year
  • Were seen about the markets: none knew where
  • They could inhabit; the most curious
  • Were foil’d, who watch’d to trace them to their house:
  • And but the flitter-winged verse must tell,
  • For truth’s sake, what woe afterwards befel,
  • ’Twould humour many a heart to leave them thus,
  • Shut from the busy world of more incredulous.

Part II

  • LOVE in a hut, with water and a crust,
  • Is—Love, forgive us!—cinders, ashes, dust;
  • Love in a palace is perhaps at last
  • More grievous torment than a hermit’s fast:—
  • That is a doubtful tale from faery land,
  • Hard for the non-elect to understand.
  • Had Lycius liv’d to hand his story down,
  • He might have given the moral a fresh frown,
  • Or clench’d it quite: but too short was their bliss
  • To breed distrust and hate, that make the soft voice hiss.
  • Besides, there, nightly, with terrific glare,
  • Love, jealous grown of so complete a pair,
  • Hover’d and buzz’d his wings, with fearful roar,
  • Above the lintel of their chamber door,
  • And down the passage cast a glow upon the floor.
  • For all this came a ruin: side by side
  • They were enthroned, in the even tide,
  • Upon a couch, near to a curtaining
  • Whose airy texture, from a golden string,
  • Floated into the room, and let appear
  • Unveil’d the summer heaven, blue and clear,
  • Betwixt two marble shafts:—there they reposed,
  • Where use had made it sweet, with eyelids closed,
  • Saving a tythe which love still open kept,
  • That they might see each other while they almost slept;
  • When from the slope side of a suburb hill,
  • Deafening the swallow’s twitter, came a thrill
  • Of trumpets—Lycius started—the sounds fled,
  • But left a thought, a buzzing in his head.
  • For the first time, since first he harbour’d in
  • That purple-lined palace of sweet sin,
  • His spirit pass’d beyond its golden bourn
  • Into the noisy world almost forsworn.
  • The lady, ever watchful, penetrant,
  • Saw this with pain, so arguing a want
  • Of something more, more than her empery
  • Of joys; and she began to moan and sigh
  • Because he mused beyond her, knowing well
  • That but a moment’s thought is passion’s passing bell.
  • “Why do you sigh, fair creature?” whisper’d he:
  • “Why do you think?” return’d she tenderly:
  • “You have deserted me;—where am I now?
  • “Not in your heart while care weighs on your brow:
  • “No, no, you have dismiss’d me; and I go
  • “From your breast houseless: ay, it must be so.”
  • He answer’d, bending to her open eyes,
  • Where he was mirror’d small in paradise,
  • “My silver planet, both of eve and morn!
  • “Why will you plead yourself so sad forlorn,
  • “While I am striving how to fill my heart
  • “With deeper crimson, and a double smart?
  • “How to entangle, trammel up and snare
  • “Your soul in mine, and labyrinth you there
  • “Like the hid scent in an unbudded rose?
  • “Ay, a sweet kiss—you see your mighty woes.
  • “My thoughts! shall I unveil them? Listen then!
  • “What mortal hath a prize, that other men
  • “May be confounded and abash’d withal,
  • “But lets it sometimes pace abroad majestical,
  • “And triumph, as in thee I should rejoice
  • “Amid the hoarse alarm of Corinth’s voice.
  • “Let my foes choke, and my friends shout afar,
  • “While through the thronged streets your bridal car
  • “Wheels round its dazzling spokes.”—The lady’s cheek
  • Trembled; she nothing said, but, pale and meek,
  • Arose and knelt before him, wept a rain
  • Of sorrows at his words; at last with pain
  • Beseeching him, the while his hand she wrung,
  • To change his purpose. He thereat was stung,
  • Perverse, with stronger fancy to reclaim
  • Her wild and timid nature to his aim:
  • Besides, for all his love, in self despite,
  • Against his better self, he took delight
  • Luxurious in her sorrows, soft and new.
  • His passion, cruel grown, took on a hue
  • Fierce and sanguineous as ’twas possible
  • In one whose brow had no dark veins to swell.
  • Fine was the mitigated fury, like
  • Apollo’s presence when in act to strike
  • The serpent—Ha, the serpent! certes, she
  • Was none. She burnt, she lov’d the tyranny,
  • And, all subdued, consented to the hour
  • When to the bridal he should lead his paramour.
  • Whispering in midnight silence, said the youth,
  • “Sure some sweet name thou hast, though, by my truth,
  • “I have not ask’d it, ever thinking thee
  • “Not mortal, but of heavenly progeny,
  • “As still I do. Hast any mortal name,
  • “Fit appellation for this dazzling frame?
  • “Or friends or kinsfolk on the citied earth,
  • “To share our marriage feast and nuptial mirth?”
  • “I have no friends,” said Lamia, “no, not one;
  • “My presence in wide Corinth hardly known:
  • “My parents’ bones are in their dusty urns
  • “Sepulchred, where no kindled incense burns,
  • “Seeing all their luckless race are dead, save me,
  • “And I neglect the holy rite for thee.
  • “Even as you list invite your many guests;
  • “But if, as now it seems, your vision rests
  • “With any pleasure on me, do not bid
  • “Old Apollonius—from him keep me hid.”
  • Lycius, perplex’d at words so blind and blank,
  • Made close inquiry; from whose touch she shrank,
  • Feigning a sleep; and he to the dull shade
  • Of deep sleep in a moment was betray’d.
  • It was the custom then to bring away
  • The bride from home at blushing shut of day,
  • Veil’d, in a chariot, heralded along
  • By strewn flowers, torches, and a marriage song,
  • With other pageants: but this fair unknown
  • Had not a friend. So being left alone,
  • (Lycius was gone to summon all his kin)
  • And knowing surely she could never win
  • His foolish heart from its mad pompousness,
  • She set herself, high-thoughted, how to dress
  • The misery in fit magnificence.
  • She did so, but ’tis doubtful how and whence
  • Came, and who were her subtle servitors.
  • About the halls, and to and from the doors,
  • There was a noise of wings, till in short space
  • The glowing banquet-room shone with wide-arched grace.
  • A haunting music, sole perhaps and lone
  • Supportress of the faery-roof, made moan
  • Throughout, as fearful the whole charm might fade.
  • Fresh carved cedar, mimicking a glade
  • Of palm and plantain, met from either side,
  • High in the midst, in honour of the bride:
  • Two palms and then two plantains, and so on,
  • From either side their stems branch’d one to one
  • All down the aisled place; and beneath all
  • There ran a stream of lamps straight on from wall to wall.
  • So canopied, lay an untasted feast
  • Teeming with odours. Lamia, regal drest,
  • Silently paced about, and as she went,
  • In pale contented sort of discontent,
  • Mission’d her viewless servants to enrich
  • The fretted splendour of each nook and niche.
  • Between the tree-stems, marbled plain at first,
  • Came jasper pannels; then, anon, there burst
  • Forth creeping imagery of slighter trees,
  • And with the larger wove in small intricacies.
  • Approving all, she faded at self-will,
  • And shut the chamber up, close, hush’d and still,
  • Complete and ready for the revels rude,
  • When dreadful guests would come to spoil her solitude.
  • The day appear’d, and all the gossip rout.
  • O senseless Lycius! Madman! wherefore flout
  • The silent-blessing fate, warm cloister’d hours,
  • And show to common eyes these secret bowers?
  • The herd approach’d; each guest, with busy brain,
  • Arriving at the portal, gaz’d amain,
  • And enter’d marveling: for they knew the street,
  • Remember’d it from childhood all complete
  • Without a gap, yet ne’er before had seen
  • That royal porch, that high-built fair demesne;
  • So in they hurried all, maz’d, curious and keen:
  • Save one, who look’d thereon with eye severe,
  • And with calm-planted steps walk’d in austere;
  • ’Twas Apollonius: something too he laugh’d,
  • As though some knotty problem, that had daft
  • His patient thought, had now begun to thaw,
  • And solve and melt:—’twas just as he foresaw.
  • He met within the murmurous vestibule
  • His young disciple. “’Tis no common rule,
  • “Lycius,” said he, “for uninvited guest
  • “To force himself upon you, and infest
  • “With an unbidden presence the bright throng
  • “Of younger friends; yet must I do this wrong,
  • “And you forgive me.” Lycius blush’d, and led
  • The old man through the inner doors broad-spread;
  • With reconciling words and courteous mien
  • Turning into sweet milk the sophist’s spleen.
  • Of wealthy lustre was the banquet-room,
  • Fill’d with pervading brilliance and perfume:
  • Before each lucid pannel fuming stood
  • A censer fed with myrrh and spiced wood,
  • Each by a sacred tripod held aloft,
  • Whose slender feet wide-swerv’d upon the soft
  • Wool-woofed carpets: fifty wreaths of smoke
  • From fifty censers their light voyage took
  • To the high roof, still mimick’d as they rose
  • Along the mirror’d walls by twin-clouds odorous.
  • Twelve sphered tables, by silk seats insphered,
  • High as the level of a man’s breast rear’d
  • On libbard’s paws, upheld the heavy gold
  • Of cups and goblets, and the store thrice told
  • Of Ceres’ horn, and, in huge vessels, wine
  • Came from the gloomy tun with merry shine.
  • Thus loaded with a feast the tables stood,
  • Each shrining in the midst the image of a God.
  • When in an antichamber every guest
  • Had felt the cold full sponge to pleasure press’d,
  • By minist’ring slaves, upon his hands and feet,
  • And fragrant oils with ceremony meet
  • Pour’d on his hair, they all mov’d to the feast
  • In white robes, and themselves in order placed
  • Around the silken couches, wondering
  • Whence all this mighty cost and blaze of wealth could spring.
  • Soft went the music the soft air along,
  • While fluent Greek a vowel’d undersong
  • Kept up among the guests discoursing low
  • At first, for scarcely was the wine at flow;
  • But when the happy vintage touch’d their brains,
  • Louder they talk, and louder come the strains
  • Of powerful instruments:—the gorgeous dyes,
  • The space, the splendour of the draperies,
  • The roof of awful richness, nectarous cheer,
  • Beautiful slaves, and Lamia’s self, appear,
  • Now, when the wine has done its rosy deed,
  • And every soul from human trammels freed,
  • No more so strange; for merry wine, sweet wine,
  • Will make Elysian shades not too fair, too divine.
  • Soon was God Bacchus at meridian height;
  • Flush’d were their cheeks, and bright eyes double bright:
  • Garlands of every green, and every scent
  • From vales deflower’d, or forest-trees branch rent,
  • In baskets of bright osier’d gold were brought
  • High as the handles heap’d, to suit the thought
  • Of every guest; that each, as he did please,
  • Might fancy-fit his brows, silk-pillow’d at his ease.
  • What wreath for Lamia? What for Lycius?
  • What for the sage, old Apollonius?
  • Upon her aching forehead be there hung
  • The leaves of willow and of adder’s tongue;
  • And for the youth, quick, let us strip for him
  • The thyrsus, that his watching eyes may swim
  • Into forgetfulness; and, for the sage,
  • Let spear-grass and the spiteful thistle wage
  • War on his temples. Do not all charms fly
  • At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
  • There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
  • We know her woof, her texture; she is given
  • In the dull catalogue of common things.
  • Philosophy will clip an Angel’s wings,
  • Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
  • Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine—
  • Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made
  • The tender-person’d Lamia melt into a shade.
  • By her glad Lycius sitting, in chief place,
  • Scarce saw in all the room another face,
  • Till, checking his love trance, a cup he took
  • Full brimm’d, and opposite sent forth a look
  • ’Cross the broad table, to beseech a glance
  • From his old teacher’s wrinkled countenance,
  • And pledge him. The bald-head philosopher
  • Had fix’d his eye, without a twinkle or stir
  • Full on the alarmed beauty of the bride,
  • Brow-beating her fair form, and troubling her sweet pride.
  • Lycius then press’d her hand, with devout touch,
  • As pale it lay upon the rosy couch:
  • ’Twas icy, and the cold ran through his veins;
  • Then sudden it grew hot, and all the pains
  • Of an unnatural heat shot to his heart.
  • “Lamia, what means this? Wherefore dost thou start?
  • “Know’st thou that man?” Poor Lamia answer’d not.
  • He gaz’d into her eyes, and not a jot
  • Own’d they the lovelorn piteous appeal:
  • More, more he gaz’d: his human senses reel:
  • Some hungry spell that loveliness absorbs;
  • There was no recognition in those orbs.
  • “Lamia!” he cried—and no soft-toned reply.
  • The many heard, and the loud revelry
  • Grew hush; the stately music no more breathes;
  • The myrtle sicken’d in a thousand wreaths.
  • By faint degrees, voice, lute, and pleasure ceased;
  • A deadly silence step by step increased,
  • Until it seem’d a horrid presence there,
  • And not a man but felt the terror in his hair.
  • “Lamia!” he shriek’d; and nothing but the shriek
  • With its sad echo did the silence break.
  • “Begone, foul dream!” he cried, gazing again
  • In the bride’s face, where now no azure vein
  • Wander’d on fair-spaced temples; no soft bloom
  • Misted the cheek; no passion to illume
  • The deep-recessed vision:—all was blight;
  • Lamia, no longer fair, there sat a deadly white.
  • “Shut, shut those juggling eyes, thou ruthless man!
  • “Turn them aside, wretch! or the righteous ban
  • “Of all the Gods, whose dreadful images
  • “Here represent their shadowy presences,
  • “May pierce them on the sudden with the thorn
  • “Of painful blindness; leaving thee forlorn,
  • “In trembling dotage to the feeblest fright
  • “Of conscience, for their long offended might,
  • “For all thine impious proud-heart sophistries,
  • “Unlawful magic, and enticing lies.
  • “Corinthians! look upon that gray-beard wretch!
  • “Mark how, possess’d, his lashless eyelids stretch
  • “Around his demon eyes! Corinthians, see!
  • “My sweet bride withers at their potency.”
  • “Fool!” said the sophist, in an under-tone
  • Gruff with contempt; which a death-nighing moan
  • From Lycius answer’d, as heart-struck and lost,
  • He sank supine beside the aching ghost.
  • “Fool! Fool!” repeated he, while his eyes still
  • Relented not, nor mov’d; “from every ill
  • “Of life have I preserv’d thee to this day,
  • “And shall I see thee made a serpent’s prey?
  • Then Lamia breath’d death breath; the sophist’s eye,
  • Like a sharp spear, went through her utterly,
  • Keen, cruel, perceant, stinging: she, as well
  • As her weak hand could any meaning tell,
  • Motion’d him to be silent; vainly so,
  • He look’d and look’d again a level—No!
  • “A Serpent!” echoed he; no sooner said,
  • Than with a frightful scream she vanished:
  • And Lycius’ arms were empty of delight,
  • As were his limbs of life, from that same night.
  • On the high couch he lay!—his friends came round—
  • Supported him—no pulse, or breath they found,
  • And, in its marriage robe, the heavy body wound.
🗙

To Autumn

1

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

2

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

3

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

Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art

  • Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art—
  • Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
  • And watching, with eternal lids apart,
  • Like nature’s patient, sleepless eremite,
  • The moving waters at their priestlike task
  • Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
  • Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
  • Of snow upon the mountains and the moors;
  • No—yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
  • Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
  • To feel for ever its soft swell and fall,
  • Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
  • Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
  • And so live ever—or else swoon to death.
🗙

The Cap And Bells; Or, The Jealousies: A Faery Tale — Unfinished

1

  • In midmost Ind, beside Hydaspes cool,
  • There stood, or hover’d, tremulous in the air,
  • A faery city ’neath the potent rule
  • Of Emperor Elfinan; fam’d ev’rywhere
  • For love of mortal women, maidens fair,
  • Whose lips were solid, whose soft hands were made
  • Of a fit mould and beauty, ripe and rare,
  • To tamper his slight wooing, warm yet staid:
  • He lov’d girls smooth as shades, but hated a mere shade.

2

  • This was a crime forbidden by the law;
  • And all the priesthood of his city wept,
  • For ruin and dismay they well foresaw,
  • If impious prince no bound or limit kept,
  • And faery Zendervester overstept;
  • They wept, he sin’d, and still he would sin on,
  • They dreamt of sin, and he sin’d while they slept;
  • In vain the pulpit thunder’d at the throne,
  • Caricature was vain, and vain the tart lampoon.

3

  • Which seeing, his high court of parliament
  • Laid a remonstrance at his Highness’ feet,
  • Praying his royal senses to content
  • Themselves with what in faery land was sweet,
  • Befitting best that shade with shade should meet:
  • Whereat, to calm their fears, he promis’d soon
  • From mortal tempters all to make retreat, —
  • Aye, even on the first of the new moon,
  • An immaterial wife to espouse as heaven’s boon.

4

  • Meantime he sent a fluttering embassy
  • To Pigmio, of Imaus sovereign,
  • To half beg, and half demand, respectfully,
  • The hand of his fair daughter Bellanaine;
  • An audience had, and speeching done, they gain
  • Their point, and bring the weeping bride away;
  • Whom, with but one attendant, safely lain
  • Upon their wings, they bore in bright array,
  • While little harps were touch’d by many a lyric fay.

5

  • As in old pictures tender cherubim
  • A child’s soul thro’ the sapphir’d canvas bear,
  • So, thro’ a real heaven, on they swim
  • With the sweet princess on her plumag’d lair,
  • Speed giving to the winds her lustrous hair;
  • And so she journey’d, sleeping or awake,
  • Save when, for healthful exercise and air,
  • She chose to ‘promener à l’aile,’ or take
  • A pigeon’s somerset, for sport or change’s sake.

6

  • ‘Dear Princess, do not whisper me so loud,’
  • Quoth Corallina, nurse and confidant,
  • ‘Do not you see there, lurking in a cloud,
  • Close at your back, that sly old Crafticant?
  • He hears a whisper plainer than a rant:
  • Dry up your tears, and do not look so blue;
  • He’s Elfinan’s great state-spy militant,
  • His running, lying, flying foot-man too,--
  • Dear mistress, let him have no handle against you!

7

  • ‘Show him a mouse’s tail, and he will guess,
  • With metaphysic swiftness, at the mouse;
  • Show him a garden, and with speed no less,
  • He’ll surmise sagely of a dwelling house,
  • And plot, in the same minute, how to chouse
  • The owner out of it; show him a’ --- ‘Peace!
  • Peace! nor contrive thy mistress’ ire to rouse!’
  • Return’d the Princess, ‘my tongue shall not cease
  • Till from this hated match I get a free release.

8

  • ‘Ah, beauteous mortal!’ ‘Hush!’ quoth Coralline,
  • ‘Really you must not talk of him, indeed.’
  • ‘You hush!’ reply’d the mistress, with a shinee
  • Of anger in her eyes, enough to breed
  • In stouter hearts than nurse’s fear and dread:
  • ‘Twas not the glance itself made nursey flinch,
  • But of its threat she took the utmost heed;
  • Not liking in her heart an hour-long pinch,
  • Or a sharp needle run into her back an inch.

9

  • So she was silenc’d, and fair Bellanaine,
  • Writhing her little body with ennui,
  • Continued to lament and to complain,
  • That Fate, cross-purposing, should let her be
  • Ravish’d away far from her dear countree;
  • That all her feelings should be set at nought,
  • In trumping up this match so hastily,
  • With lowland blood; and lowland blood she thought
  • Poison, as every staunch true-born Imaian ought.

10

  • Sorely she griev’d, and wetted three or four
  • White Provence rose-leaves with her faery tears,
  • But not for this cause; —alas! she had more
  • Bad reasons for her sorrow, as appears
  • In the fam’d memoirs of a thousand years,
  • Written by Crafticant, and published
  • By Parpaglion and Co., (those sly compeers
  • Who rak’d up ev’ry fact against the dead,)
  • In Scarab Street, Panthea, at the Jubal’s Head.

11

  • Where, after a long hypercritic howl
  • Against the vicious manners of the age,
  • He goes on to expose, with heart and soul,
  • What vice in this or that year was the rage,
  • Backbiting all the world in every page;
  • With special strictures on the horrid crime,
  • (Section’d and subsection’d with learning sage,)
  • Of faeries stooping on their wings sublime
  • To kiss a mortal’s lips, when such were in their prime.

12

  • Turn to the copious index, you will find
  • Somewhere in the column, headed letter B,
  • The name of Bellanaine, if you’re not blind;
  • Then pray refer to the text, and you will see
  • An article made up of calumny
  • Against this highland princess, rating her
  • For giving way, so over fashionably,
  • To this new-fangled vice, which seems a burr
  • Stuck in his moral throat, no coughing e’er could stir.

13

  • There he says plainly that she lov’d a man!
  • That she around him flutter’d, flirted, toy’d,
  • Before her marriage with great Elfinan;
  • That after marriage too, she never joy’d
  • In husband’s company, but still employ’d
  • Her wits to ’scape away to Angle-land;
  • Where liv’d the youth, who worried and annoy’d
  • Her tender heart, and its warm ardours fann’d
  • To such a dreadful blaze, her side would scorch her hand.

14

  • But let us leave this idle tittle-tattle
  • To waiting-maids, and bed-room coteries,
  • Nor till fit time against her fame wage battle.
  • Poor Elfinan is very ill at ease,
  • Let us resume his subject if you please:
  • For it may comfort and console him much,
  • To rhyme and syllable his miseries;
  • Poor Elfinan! whose cruel fate was such,
  • He sat and curs’d a bride he knew he could not touch.

15

  • Soon as (according to his promises)
  • The bridal embassy had taken wing,
  • And vanish’d, bird-like, o’er the suburb trees,
  • The Emperor, empierc’d with the sharp sting
  • Of love, retired, vex’d and murmuring
  • Like any drone shut from the fair bee-queen,
  • Into his cabinet, and there did fling
  • His limbs upon a sofa, full of spleen,
  • And damn’d his House of Commons, in complete chagrin.

16

  • “I’ll trounce some of the members,” cry’d the Prince,
  • “I’ll put a mark against some rebel names,
  • I’ll make the opposition-benches wince,
  • I’ll show them very soon, to all their shames,
  • What ’tis to smother up a Prince’s flames;
  • That ministers should join in it, I own,
  • Surprises me! —they too at these high games!
  • Am I an Emperor? Do I wear a crown?
  • Imperial Elfinan, go hang thyself or drown!

17

  • “I’ll trounce ‘em! —there’s the square-cut chancellor,
  • His son shall never touch that bishopric;
  • And for the nephew of old Palfior,
  • I’ll show him that his speeches made me sick,
  • And give the colonelcy to Phalaric;
  • The tiptoe marquis, mortal and gallant,
  • Shall lodge in shabby taverns upon tick;
  • And for the Speaker’s second cousin’s aunt,
  • She sha’n’t be maid of honour, — by heaven that she sha’n’t!

18

  • ‘I’ll shirk the Duke of A.; I’ll cut his brother;
  • I’ll give no garter to his eldest son;
  • I won’t speak to his sister or his mother!
  • The Viscount B. shall live at cut-and-run;
  • But how in the world can I contrive to stun
  • That fellow’s voice, which plagues me worse than any,
  • That stubborn fool, that impudent state-dun,
  • Who sets down ev’ry sovereign as a zany, —
  • That vulgar commoner, Esquire Biancopany?

19

  • “Monstrous affair! Pshaw! pah! what ugly minx
  • Will they fetch from Imaus for my bride?
  • Alas! my wearied heart within me sinks,
  • To think that I must be so near ally’d
  • To a cold dullard fay, —ah, woe betide!
  • Ah, fairest of all human loveliness!
  • Sweet Bertha! what crime can it be to glide
  • About the fragrant plaintings of thy dress,
  • Or kiss thine eyes, or count thy locks, tress after tress?”

20

  • So said, one minute’s while his eyes remaind’
  • Half lidded, piteous, languid, innocent;
  • But, in a wink, their splendour they regain’d,
  • Sparkling revenge with amorous fury blent.
  • Love thwarted in bad temper oft has vent:
  • He rose, he stampt his foot, he rang the bell,
  • And order’d some death-warrants to be sent
  • For signature: —somewhere the tempest fell,
  • As many a poor felon does not live to tell.

21

  • “At the same time, Eban,” —(this was his page,
  • A fay of colour, slave from top to toe,
  • Sent as a present, while yet under age,
  • From the Viceroy of Zanguebar, —wise, slow,
  • His speech, his only words were “yes” and “no,”
  • But swift of look, and foot, and wing was he, —)
  • “At the same time, Eban, this instant go
  • To Hum the soothsayer, whose name I see
  • Among the fresh arrivals in our empery.

22

  • “Bring Hum to me! But stay — here, take my ring,
  • The pledge of favour, that he not suspect
  • Any foul play, or awkward murdering,
  • Tho’ I have bowstrung many of his sect;
  • Throw in a hint, that if he should neglect
  • One hour, the next shall see him in my grasp,
  • And the next after that shall see him neck’d,
  • Or swallow’d by my hunger-starved asp, —
  • And mention (’tis as well) the torture of the wasp.”

23

  • These orders given, the Prince, in half a pet,
  • Let o’er the silk his propping elbow slide,
  • Caught up his little legs, and, in a fret,
  • Fell on the sofa on his royal side.
  • The slave retreated backwards, humble-ey’d,
  • And with a slave-like silence clos’d the door,
  • And to old Hun thro’ street and alley hied;
  • He “knew the city,” as we say, of yore,
  • And for short cuts and turns, was nobody knew more.

24

  • It was the time when wholesale dealers close
  • Their shutters with a moody sense of wealth,
  • But retail dealers, diligent, let loose
  • The gas (objected to on score of health),
  • Convey’d in little solder’d pipes by stealth,
  • And make it flare in many a brilliant form,
  • That all the powers of darkness it repell’th,
  • Which to the oil-trade doth great scaith and harm,
  • And superseded quite the use of the glow-worm.

25

  • Eban, untempted by the pastry-cooks,
  • (Of pastry he got store within the palace,)
  • With hasty steps, wrapp’d cloak, and solemn looks,
  • Incognito upon his errand sallies,
  • His smelling-bottle ready for the allies;
  • He pass’d the Hurdy-gurdies with disdain,
  • Vowing he’d have them sent on board the gallies;
  • Just as he made his vow; it ’gan to rain,
  • Therefore he call’d a coach, and bade it drive amain.

26

  • “I’ll pull the string,” said he, and further said,
  • “Polluted Jarvey! Ah, thou filthy hack!
  • Whose springs of life are all dry’d up and dead,
  • Whose linsey-woolsey lining hangs all slack,
  • Whose rug is straw, whose wholeness is a crack;
  • And evermore thy steps go clatter-clitter;
  • Whose glass once up can never be got back,
  • Who prov’st, with jolting arguments and bitter,
  • That ’tis of modern use to travel in a litter.

27

  • “Thou inconvenience! thou hungry crop
  • For all corn! thou snail-creeper to and fro,
  • Who while thou goest ever seem’st to stop,
  • And fiddle-faddle standest while you go;
  • I’ the morning, freighted with a weight of woe,
  • Unto some lazar-house thou journeyest,
  • And in the evening tak’st a double row
  • Of dowdies, for some dance or party drest,
  • Besides the goods meanwhile thou movest east and west.

28

  • “By thy ungallant bearing and sad mien,
  • An inch appears the utmost thou couldst budge;
  • Yet at the slightest nod, or hint, or sign,
  • Round to the curb-stone patient dost thou trudge,
  • School’d in a beckon, learned in a nudge,
  • A dull-ey’d Argus watching for a fare;
  • Quiet and plodding, thou dost bear no grudge
  • To whisking Tilburies, or Phaetons rare,
  • Curricles, or Mail-coaches, swift beyond compare.”

29

  • Philosophizing thus, he pull’d the check,
  • And bade the Coachman wheel to such a street,
  • Who, turning much his body, more his neck,
  • Louted full low, and hoarsely did him greet:
  • “Certes, Monsieur were best take to his feet,
  • Seeing his servant can no further drive
  • For press of coaches, that to-night here meet,
  • Many as bees about a straw-capp’d hive,
  • When first for April honey into faint flowers they dive.”

30

  • Eban then paid his fare, and tiptoe went
  • To Hum’s hotel; and, as he on did pass
  • With head inclin’d, each dusky lineament
  • Show’d in the pearl-pav’d street, as in a glass;
  • His purple vest, that ever peeping was
  • Rich from the fluttering crimson of his cloak,
  • His silvery trowsers, and his silken sash
  • Tied in a burnish’d knot, their semblance took
  • Upon the mirror’d walls, wherever he might look.

31

  • He smil’d at self, and, smiling, show’d his teeth,
  • And seeing his white teeth, he smil’d the more;
  • Lifted his eye-brows, spurn’d the path beneath,
  • Show’d teeth again, and smil’d as heretofore,
  • Until he knock’d at the magician’s door;
  • Where, till the porter answer’d, might be seen,
  • In the clear panel more he could adore, —
  • His turban wreath’d of gold, and white, and green,
  • Mustachios, ear-ring, nose-ring, and his sabre keen.

32

  • “Does not your master give a rout to-night?”
  • Quoth the dark page. “Oh, no!” return’d the Swiss,
  • “Next door but one to us, upon the right,
  • The Magazin des Modes now open is
  • Against the Emperor’s wedding; —and, sir, this
  • My master finds a monstrous horrid bore;
  • As he retir’d, an hour ago I wis,
  • With his best beard and brimstone, to explore
  • And cast a quiet figure in his second floor.

33

  • “Gad! he’s oblig’d to stick to business!
  • For chalk, I hear, stands at a pretty price;
  • And as for aqua vitae — there’s a mess!
  • The dentes sapientiae of mice,
  • Our barber tells me too, are on the rise, —
  • Tinder’s a lighter article, — nitre pure
  • Goes off like lightning, — grains of Paradise
  • At an enormous figure! — stars not sure! —
  • Zodiac will not move without a slight douceur!

34

  • “Venus won’t stir a peg without a fee,
  • And master is too partial, entre nous,
  • To” — “Hush — hush!” cried Eban, “sure that is he
  • Coming down stairs, — by St. Bartholomew!
  • As backwards as he can, — is’t something new?
  • Or is’t his custom, in the name of fun?’
  • “He always comes down backward, with one shoe” —
  • Return’d the porter — “off, and one shoe on,
  • Like, saving shoe for sock or stocking, my man John!”

35

  • It was indeed the great Magician,
  • Feeling, with careful toe, for every stair,
  • And retrograding careful as he can,
  • Backwards and downwards from his own two pair:
  • “Salpietro!” exclaim’d Hum, “is the dog there?
  • He’s always in my way upon the mat!’
  • “He’s in the kitchen, or the Lord knows where,” —
  • Reply’d the Swiss, — “the nasty, yelping brat!”
  • “Don’t beat him!” return’d Hum, and on the floor came pat.

36

  • Then facing right about, he saw the Page,
  • And said: “Don’t tell me what you want, Eban;
  • The Emperor is now in a huge rage, —
  • ‘Tis nine to one he’ll give you the rattan!
  • Let us away!” Away together ran
  • The plain-dress’d sage and spangled blackamoor,
  • Nor rested till they stood to cool, and fan,
  • And breathe themselves at th’ Emperor’s chamber door,
  • When Eban thought he heard a soft imperial snore.

37

  • “I thought you guess’d, foretold, or prophesy’d,
  • That’s Majesty was in a raving fit?”
  • “He dreams,” said Hum, “or I have ever lied,
  • That he is tearing you, sir, bit by bit.”
  • “He’s not asleep, and you have little wit,”
  • Reply’d the page; “that little buzzing noise,
  • Whate’er your palmistry may make of it,
  • Comes from a play-thing of the Emperor’s choice,
  • From a Man-Tiger-Organ, prettiest of his toys.”

38

  • Eban then usher’d in the learned Seer:
  • Elfinan’s back was turn’d, but, ne’ertheless,
  • Both, prostrate on the carpet, ear by ear,
  • Crept silently, and waited in distress,
  • Knowing the Emperor’s moody bitterness;
  • Eban especially, who on the floor ’gan
  • Tremble and quake to death, — he feared less
  • A dose of senna-tea or nightmare Gorgon
  • Than the Emperor when he play’d on his Man-Tiger-Organ.

39

  • They kiss’d nine times the carpet’s velvet face
  • Of glossy silk, soft, smooth, and meadow-green,
  • Where the close eye in deep rich fur might trace
  • A silver tissue, scantly to be seen,
  • As daisies lurk’d in June-grass, buds in green;
  • Sudden the music ceased, sudden the hand
  • Of majesty, by dint of passion keen,
  • Doubled into a common fist, went grand,
  • And knock’d down three cut glasses, and his best ink-stand.

40

  • Then turning round, he saw those trembling two:
  • “Eban,” said he, “as slaves should taste the fruits
  • Of diligence, I shall remember you
  • To-morrow, or next day, as time suits,
  • In a finger conversation with my mutes, —
  • Begone! — for you, Chaldean! here remain!
  • Fear not, quake not, and as good wine recruits
  • A conjurer’s spirits, what cup will you drain?
  • Sherry in silver, hock in gold, or glass’d champagne?”

41

  • “Commander of the faithful!” answer’d Hum,
  • “In preference to these, I’ll merely taste
  • A thimble-full of old Jamaica rum.”
  • “A simple boon!” said Elfinan; “thou may’st
  • Have Nantz, with which my morning-coffee’s lac’d.”
  • “I’ll have a glass of Nantz, then,” — said the Seer, —
  • “Made racy — (sure my boldness is misplac’d!) —
  • With the third part — (yet that is drinking dear!) —
  • Of the least drop of crème de citron, crystal clear.”

42

  • “I pledge you, Hum! and pledge my dearest love,
  • My Bertha!” “Bertha! Bertha!” cry’d the sage,
  • “I know a many Berthas!” “Mine’s above
  • All Berthas!” sighed the Emperor. “I engage,”
  • Said Hum, “in duty, and in vassalage,
  • To mention all the Berthas in the earth; —
  • There’s Bertha Watson, — and Miss Bertha Page, —
  • This fam’d for languid eyes, and that for mirth, —
  • There’s Bertha Blount of York, — and Bertha Knox of Perth.”

43

  • “You seem to know” — “I do know,” answer’d Hum,
  • “Your Majesty’s in love with some fine girl
  • Named Bertha; but her surname will not come,
  • Without a little conjuring.” “’Tis Pearl,
  • ‘Tis Bertha Pearl! What makes my brain so whirl?
  • And she is softer, fairer than her name!”
  • “Where does she live?” ask’d Hum. “Her fair locks curl
  • So brightly, they put all our fays to shame! —
  • Live? — O! at Canterbury, with her old grand-dame.”

44

  • “Good! good!” cried Hum, “I’ve known her from a child!
  • She is a changeling of my management;
  • She was born at midnight in an Indian wild;
  • Her mother’s screams with the striped tiger’s blent,
  • While the torch-bearing slaves a halloo sent
  • Into the jungles; and her palanquin,
  • Rested amid the desert’s dreariment,
  • Shook with her agony, till fair were seen
  • The little Bertha’s eyes ope on the stars serene.”

45

  • “I can’t say,” said the monarch; “that may be
  • Just as it happen’d, true or else a bam!
  • Drink up your brandy, and sit down by me,
  • Feel, feel my pulse, how much in love I am;
  • And if your science is not all a sham.
  • Tell me some means to get the lady here.’
  • “Upon my honour!” said the son of Cham,
  • “She is my dainty changeling, near and dear,
  • Although her story sounds at first a little queer.”

46

  • “Convey her to me, Hum, or by my crown,
  • My sceptre, and my cross-surmounted globe,
  • I’ll knock you” — “Does your majesty mean — down?
  • No, no, you never could my feelings probe
  • To such a depth!” The Emperor took his robe,
  • And wept upon its purple palatine,
  • While Hum continued, shamming half a sob, —
  • “In Canterbury doth your lady shine?
  • But let me cool your brandy with a little wine.”

47

  • Whereat a narrow Flemish glass he took,
  • That since belong’d to Admiral De Witt,
  • Admir’d it with a connoisseuring look,
  • And with the ripest claret crowned it,
  • And, ere the lively bead could burst and flit,
  • He turn’d it quickly, nimbly upside down,
  • His mouth being held conveniently fit
  • To catch the treasure: “Best in all the town!”
  • He said, smack’d his moist lips, and gave a pleasant frown.

48

  • “Ah! good my Prince, weep not!” And then again
  • He filled a bumper. “Great Sire, do not weep!
  • Your pulse is shocking, but I’ll ease your pain.”
  • “Fetch me that Ottoman, and prithee keep
  • Your voice low,” said the Emperor; “and steep
  • Some lady’s-fingers nice in Candy wine;
  • And prithee, Hum, behind the screen do peep
  • For the rose-water vase, magician mine!
  • And sponge my forehead, — so my love doth make me pine.”

49

  • “Ah, cursed Bellanaine!” “Don’t think of her,”
  • Rejoin’d the Mago, “but on Bertha muse;
  • For, by my choicest best barometer,
  • You shall not throttled be in marriage noose;
  • I’ve said it, Sire; you only have to choose
  • Bertha or Bellanaine.” So saying, he drew
  • From the left pocket of his threadbare hose,
  • A sampler hoarded slyly, good as new,
  • Holding it by his thumb and finger full in view.

50

  • “Sire, this is Bertha Pearl’s neat handy-work,
  • Her name, see here, Midsummer, ninety-one.”
  • Elfinan snatch’d it with a sudden jerk,
  • And wept as if he never would have done,
  • Honouring with royal tears the poor homespun;
  • Whereon were broider’d tigers with black eyes,
  • And long-tail’d pheasants, and a rising sun,
  • Plenty of posies, great stags, butterflies
  • Bigger than stags, — a moon, — with other mysteries.

51

  • The monarch handled o’er and o’er again
  • Those day-school hieroglyphics with a sigh;
  • Somewhat in sadness, but pleas’d in the main,
  • Till this oracular couplet met his eye
  • Astounded — Cupid, I / do thee defy!
  • It was too much. He shrunk back in his chair,
  • Grew pale as death, and fainted — very nigh!
  • “Pho! nonsense!” exclaim’d Hum, “now don’t despair;
  • She does not mean it really. Cheer up, hearty — there!

52

  • “And listen to my words. You say you won’t,
  • On any terms, marry Miss Bellanaine;
  • It goes against your conscience — good! Well, don’t.
  • You say you love a mortal. I would fain
  • Persuade your honour’s highness to refrain
  • From peccadilloes. But, Sire, as I say,
  • What good would that do? And, to be more plain,
  • You would do me a mischief some odd day,
  • Cut off my ears and limbs, or head too, by my fay!

53

  • “Besides, manners forbid that I should pass any
  • Vile strictures on the conduct of a prince
  • Who should indulge his genius, if he has any,
  • Not, like a subject, foolish matters mince.
  • Now I think on’t, perhaps I could convince
  • Your Majesty there is no crime at all
  • In loving pretty little Bertha, since
  • She’s very delicate, — not over tall, —
  • A fairy’s hand, and in the waist why — very small.”

54

  • “Ring the repeater, gentle Hum!” “’Tis five,”
  • Said the gentle Hum; “the nights draw in apace;
  • The little birds I hear are all alive;
  • I see the dawning touch’d upon your face;
  • Shall I put out the candles, please your Grace?”
  • “Do put them out, and, without more ado,
  • Tell me how I may that sweet girl embrace, —
  • How you can bring her to me.” “That’s for you,
  • Great Emperor! to adventure, like a lover true.”

55

  • “I fetch her!” — “Yes, an’t like your Majesty;
  • And as she would be frighten’d wide awake
  • To travel such a distance through the sky,
  • Use of some soft manoeuvre you must make,
  • For your convenience, and her dear nerves’ sake;
  • Nice way would be to bring her in a swoon,
  • Anon, I’ll tell what course were best to take;
  • You must away this morning.” “Hum! so soon?”
  • “Sire, you must be in Kent by twelve o’clock at noon.”

56

  • At this great Caesar started on his feet,
  • Lifted his wings, and stood attentive-wise.
  • “Those wings to Canterbury you must beat,
  • If you hold Bertha as a worthy prize.
  • Look in the Almanack — Moore never lies —
  • April the twenty- fourth, — this coming day,
  • Now breathing its new bloom upon the skies,
  • Will end in St. Mark’s Eve; — you must away,
  • For on that eve alone can you the maid convey.”

57

  • Then the magician solemnly ’gan to frown,
  • So that his frost-white eyebrows, beetling low,
  • Shaded his deep green eyes, and wrinkles brown
  • Plaited upon his furnace-scorched brow:
  • Forth from his hood that hung his neck below,
  • He lifted a bright casket of pure gold,
  • Touch’d a spring-lock, and there in wool or snow,
  • Charm’d into ever freezing, lay an old
  • And legend-leaved book, mysterious to behold.

58

  • “Take this same book, — it will not bite you, Sire;
  • There, put it underneath your royal arm;
  • Though it’s a pretty weight it will not tire,
  • But rather on your journey keep you warm:
  • This is the magic, this the potent charm,
  • That shall drive Bertha to a fainting fit!
  • When the time comes, don’t feel the least alarm,
  • But lift her from the ground, and swiftly flit
  • Back to your palace, where I wait for guerdon fit.”

59

  • “What shall I do with that same book?” “Why merely
  • Lay it on Bertha’s table, close beside
  • Her work-box, and ’twill help your purpose dearly;
  • I say no more.” “Or good or ill betide,
  • Through the wide air to Kent this morn I glide!”
  • Exclaim’d the Emperor. “When I return,
  • Ask what you will, — I’ll give you my new bride!
  • And take some more wine, Hum; — O Heavens! I burn
  • To be upon the wing! Now, now, that minx I spurn!”

60

  • “Leave her to me,” rejoin’d the magian:
  • “But how shall I account, illustrious fay!
  • For thine imperial absence? Pho! I can
  • Say you are very sick, and bar the way
  • To your so loving courtiers for one day;
  • If either of their two archbishops’ graces
  • Should talk of extreme unction, I shall say
  • You do not like cold pig with Latin phrases,
  • Which never should be used but in alarming cases.”

61

  • “Open the window, Hum; I’m ready now!”
  • “Zooks!” exclaim’d Hum, as up the sash he drew.
  • “Behold, your Majesty, upon the brow
  • Of yonder hill, what crowds of people!” “Whew!
  • The monster’s always after something new,”
  • Return’d his Highness, “they are piping hot
  • To see my pigsney Bellanaine. Hum! do
  • Tighten my belt a little, — so, so, — not
  • Too tight, — the book! — my wand! — so, nothing is forgot.”

62

  • “Wounds! how they shout!” said Hum, “and there, — see, see!
  • Th’ ambassador’s return’d from Pigmio!
  • The morning’s very fine, — uncommonly!
  • See, past the skirts of yon white cloud they go,
  • Tinging it with soft crimsons! Now below
  • The sable-pointed heads of firs and pines
  • They dip, move on, and with them moves a glow
  • Along the forest side! Now amber lines
  • Reach the hill top, and now throughout the valley shines.”

63

  • “Why, Hum, you’re getting quite poetical!
  • Those nows you managed in a special style.”
  • “If ever you have leisure, Sire, you shall
  • See scraps of mine will make it worth your while,
  • Tid-bits for Phoebus! — yes, you well may smile.
  • Hark! hark! the bells!” “A little further yet,
  • Good Hum, and let me view this mighty coil.”
  • Then the great Emperor full graceful set
  • His elbow for a prop, and snuff’d his mignonnette.

64

  • The morn is full of holiday; loud bells
  • With rival clamours ring from every spire;
  • Cunningly-station’d music dies and swells
  • In echoing places; when the winds respire,
  • Light flags stream out like gauzy tongues of fire;
  • A metropolitan murmur, lifeful, warm,
  • Comes from the northern suburbs; rich attire
  • Freckles with red and gold the moving swarm;
  • While here and there clear trumpets blow a keen alarm.

65

  • And now the fairy escort was seen clear,
  • Like the old pageant of Aurora’s train,
  • Above a pearl-built minister, hovering near;
  • First wily Crafticant, the chamberlain,
  • Balanc’d upon his grey-grown pinions twain,
  • His slender wand officially reveal’d;
  • Then black gnomes scattering sixpences like rain;
  • Then pages three and three; and next, slave-held,
  • The Imaian ’scutcheon bright, — one mouse in argent field.

66

  • Gentlemen pensioners next; and after them,
  • A troop of winged Janizaries flew;
  • Then slaves, as presents bearing many a gem;
  • Then twelve physicians fluttering two and two;
  • And next a chaplain in a cassock new;
  • Then Lords in waiting; then (what head not reels
  • For pleasure?) — the fair Princess in full view,
  • Borne upon wings, — and very pleas’d she feels
  • To have such splendour dance attendance at her heels.

67

  • For there was more magnificence behind:
  • She wav’d her handkerchief. “Ah, very grand!”
  • Cry’d Elfinan, and clos’d the window-blind;
  • “And, Hum, we must not shilly-shally stand, —
  • Adieu! adieu! I’m off for Angle-land!
  • I say, old Hocus, have you such a thing
  • About you, — feel your pockets, I command, —
  • I want, this instant, an invisible ring, —
  • Thank you, old mummy! — now securely I take wing.”

68

  • Then Elfinan swift vaulted from the floor,
  • And lighted graceful on the window-sill;
  • Under one arm the magic book he bore,
  • The other he could wave about at will;
  • Pale was his face, he still look’d very ill;
  • He bow’d at Bellanaine, and said — “Poor Bell!
  • Farewell! farewell! and if for ever! still
  • For ever fare thee well!” — and then he fell
  • A laughing! — snapp’d his fingers! — shame it is to tell!

69

  • “By’r Lady! he is gone!” cries Hum, “and I —
  • (I own it) — have made too free with his wine;
  • Old Crafticant will smoke me. By-the-bye!
  • This room is full of jewels as a mine, —
  • Dear valuable creatures, how ye shine!
  • Sometime to-day I must contrive a minute,
  • If Mercury propitiously incline,
  • To examine his scutoire, and see what’s in it,
  • For of superfluous diamonds I as well may thin it.

70

  • “The Emperor’s horrid bad; yes, that’s my cue!”
  • Some histories say that this was Hum’s last speech;
  • That, being fuddled, he went reeling through
  • The corridor, and scarce upright could reach
  • The stair-head; that being glutted as a leech,
  • And us’d, as we ourselves have just now said,
  • To manage stairs reversely, like a peach
  • Too ripe, he fell, being puzzled in his head
  • With liquor and the staircase: verdict — found stone dead.

71

  • This as a falsehood Crafticanto treats;
  • And as his style is of strange elegance,
  • Gentle and tender, full of soft conceits,
  • (Much like our Boswell’s,) we will take a glance
  • At his sweet prose, and, if we can, make dance
  • His woven periods into careless rhyme;
  • O, little faery Pegasus! rear — prance —
  • Trot round the quarto — ordinary time!
  • March, little Pegasus, with pawing hoof sublime!

72

  • Well, let us see, — tenth book and chapter nine, —
  • Thus Crafticant pursues his diary: —
  • “’Twas twelve o’clock at night, the weather fine,
  • Latitude thirty-six; our scouts descry
  • A flight of starlings making rapidly
  • Towards Thibet. Mem.: — birds fly in the night;
  • From twelve to half-past — wings not fit to fly
  • For a thick fog — the Princess sulky quite;
  • Call’d for an extra shawl, and gave her nurse a bite.

73

  • “Five minutes before one — brought down a moth
  • With my new double-barrel — stew’d the thighs
  • And made a very tolerable broth —
  • Princess turn’d dainty, to our great surprise,
  • Alter’d her mind, and thought it very nice;
  • Seeing her pleasant, try’d her with a pun,
  • She frown’d; a monstrous owl across us flies
  • About this time, — a sad old figure of fun;
  • Bad omen — this new match can’t be a happy one.

74

  • “From two to half-past, dusky way we made,
  • Above the plains of Gobi, — desert, bleak;
  • Beheld afar off, in the hooded shade
  • Of darkness, a great mountain (strange to speak),
  • Spitting, from forth its sulphur-baken peak,
  • A fan-shap’d burst of blood-red, arrowy fire,
  • Turban’d with smoke, which still away did reek,
  • Solid and black from that eternal pyre,
  • Upon the laden winds that scantly could respire.

75

  • “Just upon three o’clock a falling star
  • Created an alarm among our troop,
  • Kill’d a man-cook, a page, and broke a jar,
  • A tureen, and three dishes, at one swoop,
  • Then passing by the princess, singed her hoop:
  • Could not conceive what Coralline was at,
  • She clapp’d her hands three times and cry’d out ‘Whoop!’
  • Some strange Imaian custom. A large bat
  • Came sudden ’fore my face, and brush’d against my hat.

76

  • “Five minutes thirteen seconds after three,
  • Far in the west a mighty fire broke out,
  • Conjectur’d, on the instant, it might be,
  • The city of Balk — ’twas Balk beyond all doubt:
  • A griffin, wheeling here and there about,
  • Kept reconnoitring us — doubled our guard —
  • Lighted our torches, and kept up a shout,
  • Till he sheer’d off — the Princess very scar’d —
  • And many on their marrow-bones for death prepar’d.

77

  • “At half-past three arose the cheerful moon —
  • Bivouack’d for four minutes on a cloud —
  • Where from the earth we heard a lively tune
  • Of tambourines and pipes, serene and loud,
  • While on a flowery lawn a brilliant crowd
  • Cinque-parted danc’d, some half asleep reposed
  • Beneath the green-fan’d cedars, some did shroud
  • In silken tents, and ’mid light fragrance dozed,
  • Or on the opera turf their soothed eyelids closed.

78

  • “Dropp’d my gold watch, and kill’d a kettledrum —
  • It went for apoplexy — foolish folks! —
  • Left it to pay the piper — a good sum —
  • (I’ve got a conscience, maugre people’s jokes,)
  • To scrape a little favour; ’gan to coax
  • Her Highness’ pug-dog — got a sharp rebuff —
  • She wish’d a game at whist — made three revokes —
  • Turn’d from myself, her partner, in a huff;
  • His majesty will know her temper time enough.

79

  • “She cry’d for chess — I play’d a game with her —
  • Castled her king with such a vixen look,
  • It bodes ill to his Majesty — (refer
  • To the second chapter of my fortieth book,
  • And see what hoity-toity airs she took).
  • At half-past four the morn essay’d to beam —
  • Saluted, as we pass’d, an early rook —
  • The Princess fell asleep, and, in her dream,
  • Talk’d of one Master Hubert, deep in her esteem.

80

  • “About this time, — making delightful way, —
  • Shed a quill-feather from my larboard wing —
  • Wish’d, trusted, hop’d ’twas no sign of decay --
  • Thank heaven, I’m hearty yet! — ’twas no such thing: —
  • At five the golden light began to spring,
  • With fiery shudder through the bloomed east;
  • At six we heard Panthea’s churches ring —
  • The city wall his unhiv’d swarms had cast,
  • To watch our grand approach, and hail us as we pass’d.

81

  • “As flowers turn their faces to the sun,
  • So on our flight with hungry eyes they gaze,
  • And, as we shap’d our course, this, that way run,
  • With mad-cap pleasure, or hand-clasp’d amaze;
  • Sweet in the air a mild-ton’d music plays,
  • And progresses through its own labyrinth;
  • Buds gather’d from the green spring’s middle-days,
  • They scatter’d, — daisy, primrose, hyacinth, —
  • Or round white columns wreath’d from capital to plinth.

82

  • “Onward we floated o’er the panting streets,
  • That seem’d throughout with upheld faces paved;
  • Look where we will, our bird’s-eye vision meets
  • Legions of holiday; bright standards waved,
  • And fluttering ensigns emulously craved
  • Our minute’s glance; a busy thunderous roar,
  • From square to square, among the buildings raved,
  • As when the sea, at flow, gluts up once more
  • The craggy hollowness of a wild reefed shore.

83

  • “And ‘Bellanaine for ever!’ shouted they,
  • While that fair Princess, from her winged chair,
  • Bow’d low with high demeanour, and, to pay
  • Their new-blown loyalty with guerdon fair,
  • Still emptied at meet distance, here and there,
  • A plenty horn of jewels. And here I
  • (Who wish to give the devil her due) declare
  • Against that ugly piece of calumny,
  • Which calls them Highland pebble-stones not worth a fly.

84

  • “Still ‘Bellanaine!’ they shouted, while we glide
  • ‘Slant to a light Ionic portico,
  • The city’s delicacy, and the pride
  • Of our Imperial Basilic; a row
  • Of lords and ladies, on each hand, make show
  • Submissive of knee-bent obeisance,
  • All down the steps; and, as we enter’d, lo!
  • The strangest sight — the most unlook’d for chance —
  • All things turn’d topsy-turvy in a devil’s dance.

85

  • “‘Stead of his anxious Majesty and court
  • At the open doors, with wide saluting eyes,
  • Congèes and scrape-graces of every sort,
  • And all the smooth routine of gallantries,
  • Was seen, to our immoderate surprise,
  • A motley crowd thick gather’d in the hall,
  • Lords, scullions, deputy-scullions, with wild cries
  • Stunning the vestibule from wall to wall,
  • Where the Chief Justice on his knees and hands doth crawl.

86

  • “Counts of the palace, and the state purveyor
  • Of moth’s-down, to make soft the royal beds,
  • The Common Council and my fool Lord Mayor
  • Marching a-row, each other slipshod treads;
  • Powder’d bag-wigs and ruffy-tuffy heads
  • Of cinder wenches meet and soil each other;
  • Toe crush’d with heel ill-natur’d fighting breeds,
  • Frill-rumpling elbows brew up many a bother,
  • And fists in the short ribs keep up the yell and pother.

87

  • “A Poet, mounted on the Court-Clown’s back,
  • Rode to the Princess swift with spurring heels,
  • And close into her face, with rhyming clack,
  • Began a Prothalamion; — she reels,
  • She falls, she faints! while laughter peels
  • Over her woman’s weakness. ‘Where!’ cry’d I,
  • ‘Where is his Majesty?’ No person feels
  • Inclin’d to answer; wherefore instantly
  • I plung’d into the crowd to find him or die.

88

  • “Jostling my way I gain’d the stairs, and ran
  • To the first landing, where, incredible!
  • I met, far gone in liquor, that old man,
  • That vile impostor Hum. ——”
  • So far so well, —
  • For we have prov’d the Mago never fell
  • Down stairs on Crafticanto’s evidence;
  • And therefore duly shall proceed to tell,
  • Plain in our own original mood and tense,
  • The sequel of this day, though labour ’tis immense!

89

  • Now Hum, new fledg’d with high authority,
  • Came forth to quell the hubbub in the hall.
🗙

This living hand, now warm and capable

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