Imatges de pàgina


And it unfurled its heaven-coloured pinions,
With stars of fire spotting the stream below;
And from above into the Sun's dominions
Flinging a glory, like the golden glow

In which spring clothes her emerald-winged minions.
All interwoven with fine feathery snow
And moonlight splendour of intensest rime,
With which frost paints the pines in winter time.


And then it winnowed the Elysian air
Which ever hung about that lady bright,
With its ethereal vans-and speeding there,
Like a star up the torrent of the night,
Or a swift eagle in the morning glare

Breasting the whirlwind with impetuous flight; The pinnace, oared by those enchanted wings, Clove the fierce streams towards their upper springs.


The water flashed like sunlight, by the prow
Of a noon-wandering meteor flung to Heaven;
The still air seemed as if its waves did flow

In tempest down the mountains,-loosely driven
The lady's radiant hair streamed to and fro:
Beneath, the billows having vainly striven
Indignant and impetuous, roared to feel
The swift and steady motion of the keel.


Or, when the weary moon was in the wane,
Or in the noon of interlunar night,
The lady-witch in visions could not chain

Her spirit; but sailed forth under the light

Of shooting stars, and bade extend amain

His storm-outspeeding wings, the Hermaphrodite; She to the Austral waters took her way, Beyond the fabulous Thamondocona.


Where, like a meadow which no scythe has shaven, Which rain could never bend, or whirl-blast shake, With the Antarctic constellations paven,

Canopus and his crew, lay th' Austral lakeThere she would build herself a windless haven Out of the clouds whose moving turrets make The bastions of the storm, when through the sky The spirits of the tempest thundered by.


A haven, beneath whose translucent floor
The tremulous stars sparkled unfathomably,
And around which, the solid vapours hoar,
Based on the level waters, to the sky

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Lifted their dreadful crags; and like a shore
Of wintry mountains, inaccessibly
Hemmed in with rifts and precipices grey,
And hanging crags, many a cove and bay.


And whilst the outer lake beneath the lash

Of the winds' scourge, foamed like a wounded thing;
And the incessant hail with stony clash

Ploughed up the waters, and the flagging wing
Of the roused cormorant in the lightning flash
Looked like the wreck of some wind-wandering
Fragment of inky thundersmoke-this haven
Was as a gem to copy Heaven engraven.


On which that lady played her many pranks,
Circling the image of a shooting star,
Even as a tiger on Hydaspes' banks

Outspeeds the Antelopes which speediest are,
In her light boat; and many quips and cranks
She played upon the water: till the car
Of the late moon, like a sick matron wan,
To journey from the misty east began.


And then she called out of the hollow turrets

Of those high clouds, white, golden and vermilion,

The armies of her ministering spirits

In mighty legions million after million

They came, each troop emblazoning its merits

On meteor flags; and many a proud pavilion,

Of the intertexture of the atmosphere,

They pitched upon the plain of the calm mere.


They framed the imperial tent of their great Queen
Of woven exhalations, underlaid

With lambent lightning-fire, as may be seen
A dome of thin and open ivory inlaid
With crimson silk-cressets from the serene
Hung there, and on the water for her tread,
A tapestry of fleece-like mist was strewn,
Dyed in the beams of the ascending moon.


And on a throne o'erlaid with starlight, caught
Upon those wandering isles of aery dew,
Which highest shoals of mountain shipwreck not,
She sate, and heard all that had happened new
Between the earth and moon since they had brought
The last intelligence-and now she grew

Pale as that moon, lost in the watery night--
And now she wept, and now she laughed outright.



These were tame pleasures.-She would often climb
The steepest ladder of the crudded rack
Up to some beaked cape of cloud sublime,
And like Arion on the dolphin's back

Ride singing through the shoreless air. Oft-time
Following the serpent lightning's winding track,
She ran upon the platforms of the wind,

Aud laughed to hear the fireballs roar behind.


And sometimes to those streams of upper air,
Which whirl the earth in its diurnal round,
She would ascend, and win the spirits there

To let her join their chorus. Mortals found
That on those days the sky was calm and fair,
And mystic snatches of harmonious sound
Wandered upon the earth where'er she past,
And happy thoughts of hope, too sweet to last.


But her choice sport was, in the hours of sleep,
To glide adown old Nilus, when he threads
Egypt and Æthiopia, from the steep

Of utmost Axumè, until he spreads,

Like a calm flock of silver-fleeced sheep,

His waters on the plain: and crested heads
Of cities and proud temples gleam amid
And many a vapour-belted pyramid.


By Maris and the Mareotid lakes,

Strewn with faint blooms like bridal chamber floors; Where naked boys bridling tame water-snakes,

Or charioteering ghastly alligators,

Had left on the sweet waters mighty wakes

Of those huge forms:-within the brazen doors Of the great Labyrinth slept both boy and beast, Tired with the pomp of their Osirian feast.


And where within the surface of the river
The shadows of the massy temples lie,

And never are erased-but tremble ever

Like things which every cloud can doom to die,
Through lotus-pav'n canals, and wheresoever
The works of man pierced that serenest sky

With tombs, and towers, and fanes, 'twas her delight
To wander in the shadow of the night.


With motion like the spirit of that wind

Whose soft step deepens slumber, her light feet Passed through the peopled haunts of human kind, Scattering sweet visions from her presence sweet,

Through fane and palace-court and labyrinth mined
With many a dark and subterranean street
Under the Nile; through chambers high and deep
She passed, observing mortals in their sleep.


A pleasure sweet doubtless it was to see
Mortals subdued in all the shapes of sleep.
Here lay two sister-twins in infancy;

There, a lone youth who in his dreams did weep; Within, two lovers linked innocently

In their loose locks which over both did creep Like ivy from one stem;--and there lay calm, Old age with snow-bright hair and folded palm.


But other troubled forms of sleep she saw,
Not to be mirrored in a holy song,
Distortions foul of supernatural awe,

And pale imaginings of visioned wrong,
And all the code of custom's lawless law

Written upon the brows of old and young "This," said the wizard maiden, "is the strife, Which stirs the liquid surface of man's life."


And little did the sight disturb her soul-
We, the weak mariners of that wide lake
Where'er its shores extend or billows roll,

Our course unpiloted and starless make
O'er its wild surface to an unknown goal-

But she in the calm depths her way could take, Where in bright bowers immortal forms abide, Beneath the weltering of the restless tide.


And she saw princes couched under the glow

Of sunlike gems; and round each temple-court

In dormitories ranged, row after row,

She saw the priests asleep,-all of one sort,

For all were educated to be so.

The peasants in their huts, and in the port

The sailors she saw cradled on the waves,

And the dead lulled within their dreamless graves.


And all the forms in which those spirits lay,

Were to her sight like the diaphanous Veils, in which those sweet ladies oft array Their delicate limbs, who would conceal from us

Only their scorn of all concealment they

Move in the light of their own beauty thus. But these, and all now lay with sleep upon them, And little thought a Witch was looking on them.


She all those human figures breathing there
Beheld as living spirits-to her eyes
The naked beauty of the soul lay bare,

And often through a rude and worn disguise
She saw the inner form most bright and fair-

And then, she had a charm of strange device, Which murmured on mute lips with tender tone, Could make that spirit mingle with her own.


Alas, Aurora! what wouldst thou have given
For such a charm, when Tithon became grey ?
Or how much, Venus, of thy silver Heaven

Wouldst thou have yielded, ere Proserpina
Had half (oh! why not all?) the debt forgiven
Which dear Adonis had been doomed to pay,
To any witch who would have taught you it?
The Heliad doth not know its value yet.


'Tis said in after times her spirit free
Knew what love was, and felt itself alone-
But holy Dian could not chaster be

Before she stooped to kiss Endymion,

Than now this lady-like a sexless bee

Tasting ail blossoms, and confined to noneAmong those mortal forms, the wizard maiden Passed with an eye serene and heart unladen.


To those she saw most beautiful, she gave
Strange panacea in a crystal bowl.

They drank in their deep sleep of that sweet wave,
And lived thenceforth as if some control

Mightier than life, were in them; and the grave Of such, when death oppressed the weary soul, Was as a green and overarching bower

Lit by the gems of many a starry flower.


For on the night that they were buried, she
Restored the embalmers ruining, and shook
The light out of the funeral lamps, to be
A mimic day within that deathy nook;
And she unwound the woven imagery

Of second childhood's swaddling bands, and took The coffin, its last cradle, from its niche,

And threw it with contempt into a ditch.


And there the body lay, age

after age,

Mute, breathing, beating, warm, and undecaying

Like one asleep in a green hermitage,

With gentle sleep about its eyelids playing,

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