Imatges de pàgina

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

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

Where, like a meadow which no scythe has shaven, Which rain could never bend, or whirl-blast


With the Antarctic constellations paven,

Canopus and his crew, lay the Austral lake— There 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

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 wind's 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 thunder-smoke-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 aëry 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

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 beakèd 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,
And laughed to hear the fire-balls 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, where 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 Moeris 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-paven 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 Past 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 past, 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 linkèd innocently

In their loose locks which over both did creep Like ivy from one stem;—and there lay calm Old age with snow-bright air 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

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