« AnteriorContinua »
The marvel, with like ecstasies were filled,
And talked strange lingo-any thing but Attic.
A shrewed knowing theosophist, whose mind
Was steeped in Syrian and Egyptian mysteries,
Soon found the art to profit by the news.
You know the musty proverb,—that “ Fools sow,
And sages reap.” Enough! they built a temple
Over the steaming crevice, and they reared
A tripos, furnished with recipient pipes,
By way of legs. Faith, 'tis a tricksome stool;
For when one sits there, soon the breath of the earth,
Oozing into the avenues of sense,
Makes madness a short work. Our Pythian sibyls
Have sometimes probed the secret; but the guerdon
Of fame is worth delirium, in their eyes ;
Or if they choose to blab, we find good means
To gag their saucy tongues.
Our present priestess
Is a most fairest instrument, for men
Like thee to play upon. Sweet devotee !
Peerless enthusiast! little does she dream
Delusion, or collusion. 'Tis to her
One real, terrible apotheosis
Of mortal nature into the divine.
To her wrought phantasy, Apollo's self
Mixes with all her being marries her,
With his most thrilling inspirations, and
Makes her the spouse of heaven. By my soul!
I almost envy her the ecstasies
Of her clear faith, though terribly they rack
Her fragile form. There is a joy in madness,
Known only to the mad. Doth she not realize
A pleasure, which you and I conceive not, when,
Frantic with breathless passion, she proclaims
The oracle? It seems as if her trance
Were the sole real hypostasis of being-
Ecstasy-most essential of all essences.
And when I think so, I despise myself,
And you, for practising upon her innocence
With the vile powers of masked chicanery-
Ventriloquism, air pipes, secret wires,
And all the magic and magnetic agencies,
We use to excite or lull her passions.
You talk like some romantic poetling ;
Pray plunge such nonsense into Lethe, or
Good bye to our Delphic monopoly.
Enter Pythia and a Sibyl.
My heart is changed—it is no longer like
The heart of woman-no more flesh and blood,
And tenderness, and trifling; 'tis all changed-
Changed-into what? into one burning fame,
More fiery far than fire. Didst thou mark,
In the thunderstorm, one bright particular flash
Of crimson glory?
Ay, my sweetest lady! 'Twas a most blinding glare the inmost spirit Of ruddy light was in it.
Draw near to me
I'll tell thee something that thy ears will tingle
To hear it. You may well believe that I
Rejoice in the lightnings ; unto me, they are
Like the dear eyes of my own Smintheus,-and,
'I gazed and gazed,—for I would rather lose
The power of looking, than not look at them.
Now mark me! at the instant when that flash
Burst o'er the Temple,-let me lean on thee-
I shudder while I tell it,--at that moment,
I saw~O Gods! the very image of him
Who glitters in my dreams.
Lady, whom mean you ? Nay, do not look so wildly.
Yes, 'twas he! Phæbus-Apollo's self. I knew him, Sibyl, By the vivid instinct: he stood forth before me In his naked splendour: rivers of lustre fell From his azure eyes; and round his kindling brow, Was glory like an Iris : his sweet voice Uttered divinest love : on his blazing breast I died away, how voluptuously! The rest is all oblivion.
Was it not, lady, The phantasy of o'erwrought passion that Embodied the unreal.
Beware, 'twere blasphemy to doubt. Ah! Sibyl,
To the pale seer, the vision of spirits is
The sole reality-all forms of sense,
Delusive apparitions. In the God
Who fills me with his rapture, there is nothing
Less than essential; and his ecstasy
Is the substance of all substance. Even now
The living genius of his resonant music
Comes rushing over me.-Give me the silver lyre,-
It is my best relief, when silence burns
Into a torture.
Here is the lute, sing to it.
Divinest of the divine;
Here with thy lyre I bend
At thy own holiest shrine.
Descend like thy sunny beam,
Burning yet bashfully,
Till my spirit is one waking dream
That I am dissolved in thee.
Descend from thy flashing race,
Too pure for mortal love,
With a glowing smile on thy face,
Too luscious for heaven above.
Descend, and so entwine
Thy godlike being with this,
That I may be thine-thou mine.
In indivisible bliss.
With thee I shall gain the power
Of faith, which cannot doubt thee,
And make each fleeting hour
Worth a whole life without thee :
And all the sparkling charms
Of wisdom, virtue, fame, -
Free from earthly harms
Enter CHÆNEPHON and Priest.
There stands the Pythian prophetess : if thou
Wouldst seek celestial answer to thy question,
Tell it to her ; through her Apollo speaks
The infallible Oracles of Delphi.
Forgive me, if my coming hath disturbed
The harmony that, like a living soul,
Thrilled the high columns of the vestibule.
Mysterious spouse of Phæbus-Lo! I kneel
N. S.-VOL. VI.
Before thee with such reverence as if thou
Wert deified by his divinity!
Thy aspect is scarce mortal; yet thy smile
Betokens favour unto such as I ;-
May I invoke the Oracle?
Thou mayest :
I know thee e'er thou speakest, and thy name
Thy voice sweeps through my soul As Zephyr through the aspen's leafy hair, Making it shudder-I had thought to keep My name a mystery.
Mystery is not a mystery ; in the dreams
Of yesternight, I met a spirit of the hour,
Who told me all thy history,-ay, and showed
Thy form and features to me on the mirror
Of my entrancement.--Do not start, fair sir ! -
I own a second sight-see all things openly
By the mind's eye-anatomize the shadows
Of all emerging fates and in the present
Condense the past and future : I beheld thee
On the lone mountain side, amid the thunder,
As clear as now-heard thy words with thy guide-
All, thou wouldst tell me were but reminiscence
Of my pre-formed conclusions. So thou comest
To inquire who is the wisest man among
The men of Greece; -have I divined thee truly ?
Most truly; ay, so preternaturally
Exact thy divination, that I feel
Even as a little child at his mother's knee,
When first she bids his infantine faculties
Expand into experience.
Stay thou there While I ascend the tripod. When thou see'st me Clasping my hands, know that the inspiration Of Phæbus is upon me; ask me then Thy question, and my lips shall answer thee.
PRIEST. Believe me, sir, you'll find the Oracle Most true—is it not, Sibyl ?
True, most certain ; Even like Phæbus' self-infallible :
Mark you the Pythia-how her countenance kindles
By the magical influence !-Lo, she waves
Her arms, as if delirious with her joy!
Hark! she doth utter rhapsodies !--the fire
Of thought, like the hysterical passion, shakes her!
Listen with awe-dare not to interrupt her
Till she gives the sign.
(Commencing her invocation and shrieking).
Arise, arise !-why do ye not arise,
Spirits of the earth ?-The flashing of the skies
Is darkness to the light that is bursting on my eyes ;- .
Come! I invoke ye !-with my fingers three
Pointing to the heavens—and the ever-living tree,
Whose buds are burning planets.-Come ye to me!--
Come! I invoke ye, by the shrill clear call
Of a prophetess whose oracles are written on the wall
Of the palace of Olympus-never to fall !
This is an awful vision !—But behold
She clasps her hands ;-—this is the sign for those
Who do solicit answer ;-speak, sir.
If in propitious moment I invoke
Apollo's aid, tell me who is the wisest
Of all the Grecians.
The wisest is none other
Than Socrates, thy friend ;-there is the answer.
He hath a guardian genius who descends
From heaven to teach him what is truth : and he
Listens to the voice sounding within his conscience,
Which other men despise, and sink in folly.
Ah! by the Gods !—I had conceived as much.
Socrates is the wisest-wisest, wherefore ?
Even because he thinks himself a fool.
While others are called sophists and wise men,
He is our sole philosopherour only
Genuine lover of wisdom. He informed me
That all he knew was that he knew just nothing.
True wisdom is, it seems, true modesty,
The rarest of all virtues. I'll report
This oracle at Athens; 'twill create
No little stir : but be it as it will,
Truth is the strongest. Truth and virtue joined
In holy brotherhood will do such things
As will appal the world with admiration.
(To be continued.)