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Tho' different, glows with beauty; at the throne
Of mercy, when clouds shut it from mankind,
They fall bare-bosom'd, and indignant Jove
Drops at the soothing sweetness of their voice
The thunder from his hand: let us arise
On these high places daily, beat our breast,
Prostrate ourselves and deprecate his wrath.
TAMAR AND THE NYMPH.
[From Book VI.]
'Oh seek not destin'd evils to divine,
Found out at last too soon! cease here the search, 'Tis vain, 'tis impious, 'tis no gift of mine;
I will impart far better, will impart
What makes, when Winter comes, the Sun to rest
So soon on Ocean's bed his paler brow,
And Night to tarry so at Spring's return.
And I will tell sometimes the fate of men
Who loos'd from drooping neck the restless arm
Adventurous, ere long nights had satisfied
The sweet and honest avarice of love;
How whirlpools have absorb'd them, storms o'erwhelm'd,
And how amid their struggles and their prayers
The big wave blacken'd o'er the mouth supine:
Then, when my Tamar trembles at the tale,
Kissing his lips half open with surprise,
Glance from the gloomy story, and with glee
Light on the fairer fables of the Gods.
-Thus we may sport at leisure when we go
Where, loved by Neptune and the Naiad, loved
By pensive Dryad pale, and Oread
The sprightly nymph whom constant Zephyr woos,
Rhine rolls his beryl-colour'd wave; than Rhine
What river from the mountains ever came
More stately? most the simple crown adorns
Of rushes and of willows intertwined
With here and there a flower: his lofty brow
Shaded with vines and mistleto and oak
He rears, and mystic bards his fame resound.
Or gliding opposite, th' Illyrian gulf
Will harbour us from ill.' While thus she spake,
She toucht his eyelashes with libant lip,
And breath'd ambrosial odours, o'er his cheek
Celestial warmth suffusing: grief dispersed,
And strength and pleasure beam'd upon his brow.
Then pointed she before him: first arose
To his astonisht and delighted view
The sacred ile that shrines the queen of love.
It stood so near him, so acute each sense,
That not the symphony of lutes alone
Or coo serene or billing strife of doves,
But murmurs, whispers, nay the very sighs
Which he himself had utter'd once, he heard.
Next, but long after and far off, appear
The cloudlike cliffs and thousand towers of Crete,
And further to the right, the Cyclades:
Phoebus had rais'd and fixt them, to surround
His native Delos and aerial fane.
He saw the land of Pelops, host of Gods,
Saw the steep ridge where Corinth after stood
Beckoning the serious with the smiling Arts
Into the sunbright bay; unborn the maid
That to assure the bent-up hand unskilled
Lookt oft, but oftener fearing who might wake.
He heard the voice of rivers; he descried
Pindan Peneus and the slender nymphs
That tread his banks but fear the thundering tide;
These, and Amphrysos and Apidanus
And poplar-crown'd Spercheus, and reclined
On restless rocks Enipeus, where the winds
Scatter'd above the weeds his hoary hair.
Then, with Pirene and with Panope
Evenus, troubled from paternal tears,
And last was Achelous, king of iles.
Zacynthus here, above rose Ithaca,
Like a blue bubble floating in the bay.
Far onward to the left a glimm'ring light
Glanced out oblique, nor vanisht; he inquired
Whence that arose, his consort thus replied.
'Behold the vast Eridanus! ere long
We may again behold him and rejoice.
Of noble rivers none with mightier force
Rolls his unwearied torrent to the main.'
And now Sicanian Etna rose to view :
Darkness with light more horrid she confounds,
Baffles the breath and dims the sight of day.
Tamar grew giddy with astonishment
And, looking up, held fast the bridal vest;
He heard the roar above him, heard the roar
Beneath, and felt it too, as he beheld,
Hurl, from Earth's base, rocks, mountains, to the skies.
To-morrow, brightest-eyed of Avon's train,
To-morrow thou art slavelike bound and sold,
Another's and another's; haste away,
Winde through the willows, dart along the path,
It nought avails thee, nought our plaint avails.
O happy those before me, who could say,
'Short though thy period, sweet Tacæa, short
Ere thou art destined to the depths below,
Thou passest half thy sunny hours with me.'
I mourn not, envy not, what others gain,
Thee, and thy venerable elms I mourn,
Thy old protectors, ruthless was the pride,
And gaunt the need that bade their heads lie low.
I see the meadow's tender grass start back,
See from their prostrate trunks the gory glare.
Ah! pleasant was it once to watch thy waves
Swelling o'er pliant beds of glossy weed;
Pleasant to watch them dip amid the stones,
Chirp, and spring over, glance and gleam along,
And tripping light their wanton way pursue.
The River Tachbrook, near Warwick.
Methinks they now with mellow mournfulness
Bid their faint breezes chide my fond delay,
Nor suffer on the bridge nor on the knee
My poor irregularly pencilled page.
Alas, Tacæa, thou art sore deceived!
Here are no foren words, no fatal seal,
But thou and all who hear me shall avow
The simple notes of sorrow's song are here.
Here, when precipitate Spring with one light bound
Into hot Summer's lusty arms expires;
And where go forth at morn, at eve, at night,
Soft airs, that want the lute to play with them,
And softer sighs, that know not what they want;
Under a wall, beneath an orange tree
Whose tallest flowers could tell the lowlier ones
Of sights in Fiesole right up above,
While I was gazing a few paces off
At what they seemed to show me with their nods,
Their frequent whispers and their pointing shoots,
A gentle maid came down the garden steps
And gathered the pure treasure in her lap.
I heard the branches rustle, and stept forth
To drive the ox away, or mule, or goat,
(Such I believed it must be); for sweet scents
Are the swift vehicles of still sweeter thoughts,
And nurse and pillow the dull memory
That would let drop without them her best stores.
They bring me tales of youth and tones of love,
And 'tis and ever was my wish and way
To let all flowers live freely, and all die,
Whene'er their Genius bids their souls depart,
Among their kindred in their native place.
I never pluck the rose; the violet's head
Hath shaken with my breath upon its bank
And not reproacht me; the ever-sacred cup
Of the pure lily hath between my hands
Felt safe, unsoiled, nor lost one grain of gold.
I saw the light that made the glossy leaves
More glossy; the fair arm, the fairer cheek
Warmed by the eye intent on its pursuit ;
I saw the foot, that although half-erect
From its grey slippers, could not lift her up
To what she wanted; I held down a branch,
And gathered her some blossoms, since their hour
Was come, and bees had wounded them, and flies
Of harder wing were working their way through
And scattering them in fragments under foot.
So crisp were some, they rattled unevolved,
Others, ere broken off, fell into shells,
For such appear the petals when detacht,
Unbending, brittle, lucid, white like snow,
And like snow not seen through, by eye or sun;
Yet every one her gown received from me
Was fairer than the first; .... I thought not so,
But so she praised them to reward my care.
I said you find the largest.
Cried she, is large and sweet.
She held one forth,
Whether for me to look at or to take
She knew not, nor did I; but taking it
Would best have solved (and this she felt) her doubts,
I dared not touch it; for it seemed a part
Of her own self; fresh, full, the most mature
Of blossoms, yet a blossom; with a touch
To fall, and yet unfallen.
She drew back
The boon she tendered, and then, finding not
The ribbon at her waist to fix it in,
Dropt it, as loth to drop it, on the rest.