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Title: Poetical Works of Robert Bridges, Volume 1
Author: Bridges, Robert
Language: English
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                            POETICAL WORKS

                                  of

                            ROBERT BRIDGES

                               Volume I

                            [Illustration]

                                London
                           Smith, Elder & Co
                           15 Waterloo Place
                                 1898



                          OXFORD: HORACE HART
                       PRINTER TO THE UNIVERSITY



_POETICAL WORKS OF ROBERT BRIDGES_


_VOLUME THE FIRST CONTAINING_

  _PROMETHEUS THE FIREGIVER_      _p._ 1

  _EROS AND PSYCHE_                   71

  _THE GROWTH OF LOVE_               217

  _NOTES_                            289



LIST OF PREVIOUS EDITIONS


_PROMETHEUS._

  1. _Private Press of H. Daniel. Oxford, 1883._

  2. _Chiswick Press. Geo. Bell & Sons, 1884._


_EROS AND PSYCHE._

  1. _Chiswick Press. Geo. Bell & Sons, 1885._

  2. _Do. do. Revised, 1894._

  _This last volume is still on sale._


_GROWTH OF LOVE._

  1. _XXIV Sonnets. Ed. Bumpus, 1876._

  2. _LXXIX Sonnets. Daniel Press, 1889._

        _This edition was copied in America._

  3. _Do. do. Black letter. 1890._



                              PROMETHEUS
                                  THE
                               FIREGIVER


                             A MASK IN THE
                             GREEK MANNER



_ARGUMENT_

PROMETHEUS COMING ON EARTH TO GIVE FIRE TO MEN APPEARS BEFORE THE
PALACE OF INACHUS IN ARGOS ON A FESTIVAL OF ZEUS · HE INTERRUPTS THE
CEREMONY BY ANNOUNCING FIRE AND PERSUADES INACHUS TO DARE THE ANGER
OF ZEUS AND ACCEPT THE GIFT · INACHUS FETCHING ARGEIA HIS WIFE FROM
THE PALACE HAS IN TURN TO QUIET HER FEARS · HE ASKS A PROPHECY OF
PROMETHEUS WHO FORETELLS THE FATE OF IO THEIR DAUGHTER · PROMETHEUS
THEN SETTING FLAME TO THE ALTAR AND WRITING HIS OWN NAME THEREON IN THE
PLACE OF ZEUS DISAPPEARS

THE CHORUS SING (1) A HYMN TO ZEUS WITH THE STORIES OF THE BIRTH OF
ZEUS AND THE MARRIAGE OF HERA WITH THE DANCES OF THE CURETES AND THE
HESPERIDES (2) THEIR ANTICIPATION OF FIRE WITH AN ODE ON WONDER (3) A
TRAGIC HYMN ON THE LOT OF MAN (4) A FIRE-CHORUS (5) A FINAL CHORUS IN
PRAISE OF PROMETHEUS

ALL THE CHARACTERS ARE GOOD · PROMETHEUS PROLOGIZES · HE CARRIES A LONG
REED



DRAMATIS PERSONÆ


  _PROMETHEUS._

  _INACHUS._

  _ARGEIA._

  _SERVANT._

  _IO_ (_persona muta_).

  _CHORUS: Youths and maidens of the house of
  Inachus._


  _The SCENE is in ARGOS before the palace of Inachus.
  An altar inscribed to Zeus is at the
  centre of the stage._



PROMETHEUS THE FIREGIVER


_PROMETHEUS._


    From high Olympus and the ætherial courts,
    Where mighty Zeus our angry king confirms
    The Fates’ decrees and bends the wills of the gods,
    I come: and on the earth step with glad foot.
      This variegated ocean-floor of the air,
    The changeful circle of fair land, that lies
    Heaven’s dial, sisterly mirror of night and day:
    The wide o’er-wandered plain, this nether world
    My truant haunt is, when from jealous eyes
    I steal, for hither ’tis I steal, and here                        10
    Unseen repair my joy: yet not unseen
    Methinks, nor seen unguessed of him I seek.
    Rather by swath or furrow, or where the path
    Is walled with corn I am found, by trellised vine
    Or olive set in banks or orchard trim:
    I watch all toil and tilth, farm, field and fold,
    And taste the mortal joy; since not in heaven
    Among our easeful gods hath facile time
    A touch so keen, to wake such love of life
    As stirs the frail and careful being, who here,                   20
    The king of sorrows, melancholy man,
    Bows at his labour, but in heart erect
    A god stands, nor for any gift of god
    Would barter his immortal-hearted prime.
      Could I but win this world from Zeus for mine,
    With not a god to vex my happy rule,
    I would inhabit here and leave high heaven:
    So much I love it and its race of men,
    Even as he hates them, hates both them, and me
    For loving what he hates, and would destroy me,
    Outcast in the scorn of all his cringing crew,
    For daring but to save what he would slay:
    And me must first destroy. Thus he denieth
    My heart’s wish, thus my counsel sets at naught,
    Which him saved once, when all at stake he stood
    Uprisen in rebellion to overthrow
    The elderseated Titans, for I that day
    Gave him the counsels which his foes despised.
    Unhappy they, who had still their blissful seats
    Preserved and their Olympian majesty,                             40
    Had they been one with me. Alas, my kin!
      But he, when he had taken the throne and chained
    His foes in wasteful Tartarus, said no more
    Where is Prometheus our wise counsellor?
    What saith Prometheus? tell us, O Prometheus,
    What Fate requires! but waxing confident
    And wanton, as a youth first tasting power,
    He wrecked the timeless monuments of heaven,
    The witness of the wisdom of the gods,
    And making all about him new, beyond                              50
    Determined to destroy the race of men,
    And that create afresh or else have none.
      Then his vain mind imagined a device,
    And at his bidding all the opposèd winds
    Blew, and the scattered clouds and furlèd snows,
    From every part of heaven together flying,
    He with brute hands in huge disorder heaped:
    They with the winds’ weight and his angry breath
    Were thawed: in cataracts they fell, and earth
    In darkness deep and whelmèd tempest lay,                         60
    Drowned’neath the waters. Yet on the mountain-tops
    Some few escaped, and some, thus warned by me,
    Made shift to live in vessels which outrode
    The season and the fury of the flood.
    And when his rain was spent and from clear skies
    Zeus looking down upon the watery world,
    Beheld these few, the remnant of mankind,
    Who yet stood up and breathed; he next withdrew
    The seeds of fire, that else had still lain hid
    In withered branch and the blue flakes of flint                   70
    For man to exact and use, but these withdrawn,
    Man with the brutes degraded would be man
    No more; and so the tyrant was content.
      But I, despised again, again upheld
    The weak, and pitying them sent sweet Hope,
    Bearer of dreams, enchantress fond and kind,
    From heaven descending on the unhindered rays
    Of every star, to cheer with visions fair
    Their unamending pains. And now this day
    Behold I come bearing the seal of all                             80
    Which Hope had promised: for within this reed
    A prisoner I bring them stolen from heaven,
    The flash of mastering fire, and it have borne
    So swift to earth, that when yon noontide sun
    Rose from the sea at morning I was by,
    And unperceived of Hêlios plunged the point
    I’ the burning axle, and withdrew a tongue
    Of breathing flame, which lives to leap on earth
    For man the father of all fire to come.
      And hither have I brought it even to Argos                      90
    Unto king Inachus, him having chosen
    Above all mortals to receive my gift:
    For he is hopeful, careful, wise, and brave.
      He first, when first the floods left bare the land,
    Grew warm with enterprise, and gathered men
    Together, and disposed their various tasks
    For common weal combined; for soon were seen
    The long straight channels dwindling on the plain,
    Which slow from stagnant pool and wide morass
    The pestilent waters to the rivers bore:                         100
    Then in the ruined dwellings and old tombs
    He dug, unbedding from the wormèd ooze
    Vessels and tools of trade and husbandry;
    Wherewith, all seasonable works restored,
    Oil made he and wine anew, and taught mankind
    To live not brutally though without fire,
    Tending their flocks and herds and weaving wool,
    Living on fruit and milk and shepherds’ fare,
    Till time should bring back flame to smithy and hearth,
    Or Zeus relent. Now at these gates I stand,                      110
    At this mid hour, when Inachus comes forth
    To offer sacrifice unto his foe.
    For never hath his faithful zeal forborne
    To pay the power, though hard, that rules the world
    The smokeless sacrifice; which first today
    Shall smoke, and rise at heaven in flame to brave
    The baffled god. See here a servant bears
    For the cold altar ceremonial wood:
    My shepherd’s cloak will serve me for disguise.

_SERVANT._

    With much toil have I hewn these sapless logs.                   120

    _Pr._ But toil brings health, and health is happiness.

    _Serv._ Here’s one I know not--nay, how came he here
    Unseen by me? I pray thee, stranger, tell me
    What would’st thou at the house of Inachus?

    _Pr._ Intruders, friend, and travellers have glib tongues,
    Silence will question such.

    _Serv._ If ’tis a message,
    To-day is not thy day--who sent thee hither?

    _Pr._ The business of my leisure was well guessed:
    But he that sent me hither is I that come.

    _Serv._ I smell the matter--thou would’st serve the house?       130

    _Pr._ ’Twas for that very cause I fled my own.

    _Serv._ From cruelty or fear of punishment?

    _Pr._ Cruel was my master, for he slew his father.
    His punishments thou speakest of are crimes.

    _Serv._ Thou dost well flying one that slew his father.

    _Pr._ Thy lord, they say, is kind.

    _Serv._ Well, thou wilt see.
    Thou may’st at once begin--come, give a hand.

    _Pr._ A day of freedom is a day of pleasure;
    And what thou doest have I never done,
    And understanding not might mar thy work.                        140

    _Serv._ Ay true--there is a right way and a wrong
    In laying wood.

    _Pr._ Then let me see thee lay it:
    The sight of a skill’d hand will teach an art.

    _Serv._ Thou seest this faggot which I now unbind,
    How it is packed within.

    _Pr._ I see the cones
    And needles of the fir, which by the wind
    In melancholy places ceaselessly
    Sighing are strewn upon the tufted floor.

    _Serv._ These took I from a sheltered bank, whereon
    The sun looks down at noon; for there is need
    The things be dry. These first I spread; and then
    Small sticks that snap i’ the hand.

    _Pr._ Such are enough
    To burden the slow flight of labouring rooks,
    When on the leafless tree-tops in young March
    Their glossy herds assembling soothe the air                     155
    With cries of solemn joy and cawings loud.
    And such the long-necked herons will bear to mend
    Their airy platform, when the loving spring
    Bids them take thought for their expected young.

    _Serv._ See even so I cross them and cross them so:
    Larger and by degrees a steady stack                             161
    Have built, whereon the heaviest logs may lie:
    And all of sun-dried wood: and now ’tis done.

    _Pr._ And now ’tis done, what means it now ’tis done?

    _Serv._ Well, thus ’tis rightly done: but why ’tis so
    I cannot tell, nor any man here knows;
    Save that our master when he sacrificeth,
    As thou wilt hear anon, speaketh of fire;
    And fire he saith is good for gods and men;
    And the gods have it and men have it not:                        170
    And then he prays the gods to send us fire;
    And we, against they send it, must have wood
    Laid ready thus as I have shewn thee here.

    _Pr._ To-day he sacrificeth?

    _Serv._ Ay, this noon.
    Hark! hear’st thou not? they come. The solemn flutes
    Warn us away; we must not here be seen
    In these our soilèd habits, yet may stand
    Where we may hear and see and not be seen.

    [_Exeunt R._

_Enter_ CHORUS, _and from the palace_ INACHUS _bearing cakes: he comes
to stand behind the altar_.

_CHORUS._

    God of Heaven!
    We praise thee, Zeus most high,                                  180
    To whom by eternal Fate was given
    The range and rule of the sky;
    When thy lot, first of three
    Leapt out, as sages tell,
    And won Olympus for thee,
    Therein for ever to dwell:
    But the next with the barren sea
    To grave Poseidôn fell,
    And left fierce Hades his doom, to be
    The lord and terror of hell.                                     190

    (2) Thou sittest for aye
    Encircled in azure bright,
    Regarding the path of the sun by day,
    And the changeful moon by night:
    Attending with tireless ears
    To the song of adoring love,
    With which the separate spheres
    Are voicèd that turn above:
    And all that is hidden under
    The clouds thy footing has furl’d                                200
    Fears the hand that holdeth the thunder,
    The eye that looks on the world.

_Semichorus of youths._

    Of all the isles of the sea
    Is Crete most famed in story:
    Above all mountains famous to me
    Is Ida and crowned with glory.
    There guarded of Heaven and Earth
    Came Rhea at fall of night
    To hide a wondrous birth
    From the Sire’s unfathering sight.                               210
    The halls of Cronos rang
    With omens of coming ill,
    And the mad Curêtes danced and sang
    Adown the slopes of the hill.

      Then all the peaks of Gnossus kindled red
    Beckoning afar unto the sinking sun,
    He thro’ the vaporous west plunged to his bed,
    Sunk, and the day was done.
    But they, though he was fled,
    Such light still held, as oft                                    220
    Hanging in air aloft,
    At eve from shadowed ship
    The Egyptian sailor sees:
    Or like the twofold tip
    That o’er the topmost trees
    Flares on Parnassus, and the Theban dames
    Quake at the ghostly flames.

      Then friendly night arose
    To succour Earth, and spread
    Her mantle o’er the snows                                        230
    And quenched their rosy red;
    But in the east upsprings
    Another light on them,
    Selêné with white wings
    And hueless diadem.
    Little could she befriend
    Her father’s house and state,
    Nor her weak beams defend
    Hypérion from his fate.
    Only where’er she shines,                                        240
    In terror looking forth,
    She sees the wailing pines
    Stoop to the bitter North:
    Or searching twice or thrice
    Along the rocky walls,
    She marks the columned ice
    Of frozen waterfalls:
    But still the darkened cave
    Grew darker as she shone,
    Wherein was Rhea gone                                            250
    Her child to bear and save.

    _[They dance._

      Then danced the Dactyls and Curêtes wild,
    And drowned with yells the cries of mother and child;
    Big-armed Damnámeneus gan prance and shout:
    And burly Acmon struck the echoes out:
    And Kermis leaped and howled: and Titias pranced:
    And broad Cyllenus tore the air and danced:
    While deep within the shadowed cave at rest
    Lay Rhea, with her babe upon her breast.

_INACHUS._

    If any here there be whose impure hands                          260
    Among pure hands, or guilty heart among
    Our guiltless hearts be stained with blood or wrong,
    Let him depart!
      If there be any here in whom high Zeus
    Seeing impiety might turn away,
    Now from our sacrifice and from his sin
    Let him depart!

_Semichorus of maidens._

        I have chosen to praise
        Hêra the wife, and bring
        A hymn for the feast on marriage days
        To the wife of the gods’ king.                               271
        How on her festival
        The gods had loving strife,
        Which should give of them all
        The fairest gift to the wife.
        But Earth said, Fair to see
        Is mine and yields to none,
        I have grown for her joy a sacred tree,
        With apples of gold thereon.

      Then Hêra, when she heard what Earth had given,
    Smiled for her joy, and longed and came to see:
    On dovewings flying from the height of heaven,
    Down to the golden tree:
    As tired birds at even
    Come flying straight to house                                    285
    On their accustomed boughs.
    ’Twas where, on tortured hands
    Bearing the mighty pole,
    Devoted Atlas stands:
    And round his bowed head roll
    Day-light and night, and stars unmingled dance,
    Nor can he raise his glance.

          She saw the rocky coast
        Whereon the azured waves
        Are laced in foam, or lost
        In water-lighted caves;
        The olive island where,
        Amid the purple seas
        Night unto Darkness bare
        The four Hesperides:                                         300
        And came into the shade
        Of Atlas, where she found
        The garden Earth had made
        And fenced with groves around.
        And in the midst it grew
        Alone, the priceless stem,
        As careful, clear and true
        As graving on a gem.
        Nature had kissèd Art
        And borne a child to stir                                    310
        With jealousy the heart
        Of heaven’s Artificer.
        From crown to swelling root
        It mocked the goddess’ praise,
        The green enamelled sprays
        The emblazoned golden fruit.

    [_They dance._

      And ’neath the tree, with hair and zone unbound,
    The fair Hesperides aye danced around,
    And Ægle danced and sang ‘O welcome, Queen!’
    And Erytheia sang ‘The tree is green!’                           320
    And Hestia danced and sang ‘The fruit is gold!’
    And Arethusa sang ‘Fair Queen, behold!’
    And all joined hands and danced about the tree,
    And sang ‘O Queen, we dance and sing for thee!’

    _In._ If there be any here who has complaint
    Against our rule or claim or supplication,
    Now in the name of Zeus let it appear,
    Now let him speak!

_Prometheus reenters._

    _Pr._ All hail, most worthy king, such claim have I.

    _In._ May grace be with thee, stranger; speak thy mind.          330

    _Pr._ To Argos, king of Argos, at thy house
    I bring long journeying to an end this hour,
    Bearing no idle message for thine ears.
    For know that far thy fame has reached, and men
    That ne’er have seen thee tell that thou art set
    Upon the throne of virtue, that good-will
    And love thy servants are, that in thy land
    Joy, honour, trust and modesty abide
    And drink the air of peace, that kings must see
    Thy city, would they know their peoples’ good                    340
    And stablish them therein by wholesome laws.
    But one thing mars the tale, for o’er thy lands
    Travelling I have not seen from morn till eve,
    Either from house or farm or labourer’s cot,
    In any village, nor this town of Argos
    A blue-wreathed smoke arise: the hearths are cold,
    This altar cold: I see the wood and cakes
    Unbaken--O king, where is the fire?

    _In._ If hither, stranger, thou wert come to find
    That which thou findest wanting, join with us
    Now in our sacrifice, take food within,                          351
    And having learnt our simple way of life
    Return unto thy country whence thou camest.
    But hast thou skill or knowledge of this thing,
    How best it may be sought, or by what means
    Hope to be reached, O speak! I wait to hear.

    _Pr._ There is, O king, fire on the earth this day.

    _In._ On earth there is fire thou sayest!

    _Pr._ There is fire.

    _In._ On earth this day!

    _Pr._ There is fire on earth this day.

    _In._ This is a sacred place, a solemn hour,
    Thy speech is earnest: yet even if thou speak truth,
    O welcome messenger of happy tidings,
    And though I hear aright, yet to believe
    Is hard: thou canst not know what words thou speakest
    Into what ears: they never heard before                          365
    This sound but in old tales of happier times,
    In sighs of prayer and faint unhearted hope:
    Maybe they heard not rightly, speak again!

    _Pr._ There is, O king, fire on the earth this day.

    _In._ Yes, yes, again. Now let sweet Music blab
    Her secret and give o’er; here is a trumpet                      371
    That mocks her method. Yet ’tis but the word.
    Maybe thy fire is not the fire I seek;
    Maybe though thou didst see it, now ’tis quenched,
    Or guarded out of reach: speak yet again
    And swear by heaven’s truth is there fire or no;
    And if there be, what means may make it mine.

    _Pr._ There is, O king, fire on the earth this day:
    But not as thou dost seek it to be found.

    _In._ How seeking wrongly shall I seek aright?

    _Pr._ Thou prayest here to Zeus, and him thou callest            381
    Almighty, knowing he could grant thy prayer:
    That if ’twere but his will, the journeying sun
    Might drop a spark into thine outstretched hand:
    That at his breath the splashing mountain brooks
    That fall from Orneæ, and cold Lernè’s pool
    Would change their element, and their chill streams
    Bend in their burning banks a molten flood:
    That at his word so many messengers
    Would bring thee fire from heaven, that not a hearth
    In all thy land but straight would have a god                    391
    To kneel and fan the flame: and yet to him,
    It is to him thou prayest.

    _In._ Therefore to him.

    _Pr._ Is this thy wisdom, king, to sow thy seed
    Year after year in this unsprouting soil?
    Hast thou not proved and found the will of Zeus
    A barren rock for man with prayer to plough?

    _In._ His anger be averted! we judge not god
    Evil, because our wishes please him not.
    Oft our shortsighted prayers to heaven ascending
    Ask there our ruin, and are then denied                          401
    In kindness above granting: were’t not so,
    Scarce could we pray for fear to pluck our doom
    Out of the merciful withholding hands.

    _Pr._ Why then provokest thou such great goodwill
    In long denial and kind silence shown?

    _In._ Fie, fie! Thou lackest piety: the god’s denial
    Being nought but kindness, there is hope that he
    Will make that good which is not:--or if indeed
    Good be withheld in punishment, ’tis well
    Still to seek on and pray that god relent.                       411

    _Pr._ O Sire of Argos, Zeus will not relent.

    _In._ Yet fire thou sayst is on the earth this day.

    _Pr._ Not of his knowledge nor his gift, O king.

    _In._ By kindness of what god then has man fire?

    _Pr._ I say but on the earth unknown to Zeus.

    _In._ How boastest thou to know, not of his knowledge?

    _Pr._ I boast not: he that knoweth not may boast.

    _In._ Thy daring words bewilder sense with sound.

    _Pr._ I thought to find thee ripe for daring deeds.

    _In._ And what the deed for which I prove unripe?

    _Pr_. To take of heaven’s fire.

    _In._ And were I ripe,
    What should I dare, beseech you?

    _Pr._ The wrath of Zeus.

    _In._ Madman, pretending in one hand to hold
    The wrath of god and in the other fire.                          425

    _Pr._ Thou meanest rather holding both in one.

    _In._ Both impious art thou and incredible.

    _Pr._ Yet impious only till thou dost believe.

    _In._ And what believe? Ah, if I could believe!
    It was but now thou saidst that there was fire,
    And I was near believing; I believed:
    Now to believe were to be mad as thou.

    _Chorus._ He may be mad and yet say true--maybe
    The heat of prophecy like a strong wine
    Shameth his reason with exultant speech.                         435

    _Pr._ Thou say’st I am mad, and of my sober words
    Hast called those impious which thou fearest true,
    Those which thou knowest good, incredible.
    Consider ere thou judge: be first assured
    All is not good for man that seems god’s will.
    See, on thy farming skill, thy country toil                      441
    Which bends to aid the willing fruits of earth,
    And would promote the seasonable year,
    The face of nature is not always kind:
    And if thou search the sum of visible being
    To find thy blessing featured, ’tis not there:
    Her best gifts cannot brim the golden cup
    Of expectation which thine eager arms
    Lift to her mouthèd horn--what then is this
    Whose wide capacity outbids the scale                            450
    Of prodigal beauty, so that the seeing eye
    And hearing ear, retiring unamazed
    Within their quiet chambers, sit to feast
    With dear imagination, nor look forth
    As once they did upon the varying air?
    Whence is the fathering of this desire
    Which mocks at fated circumstance? nay though
    Obstruction lie as cumbrous as the mountains,
    Nor thy particular hap hath armed desire
    Against the brunt of evil,--yet not for this                     460
    Faints man’s desire: it is the unquenchable
    Original cause, the immortal breath of being:
    Nor is there any spirit on Earth astir,
    Nor ’neath the airy vault, nor yet beyond
    In any dweller in far-reaching space,
    Nobler or dearer than the spirit of man:
    That spirit which lives in each and will not die,
    That wooeth beauty, and for all good things
    Urgeth a voice, or in still passion sigheth,
    And where he loveth draweth the heart with him.
    Hast thou not heard him speaking oft and oft,
    Prompting thy secret musing and now shooting
    His feathered fancies, or in cloudy sleep                        473
    Piling his painted dreams? O hark to him!
    For else if folly shut his joyous strength
    To mope in her dark prison without praise,
    The hidden tears with which he wails his wrong
    Will sour the fount of life. O hark to him!
    Him mayst thou trust beyond the things thou seest.
    For many things there be upon this earth
    Unblest and fallen from beauty, to mislead
    Man’s mind, and in a shadow justify
    The evil thoughts and deeds that work his ill;
    Fear, hatred, lust and strife, which, if man question
    The heavenborn spirit within him, are not there.
    Yet are they bold of face, and Zeus himself,                     486
    Seeing that Mischief held her head on high,
    Lest she should go beyond his power to quell
    And draw the inevitable Fate that waits
    On utmost ill, himself preventing Fate
    Hasted to drown the world, and now would crush
    Thy little remnant: but among the gods                           492
    Is one whose love and courage stir for thee;
    Who being of manlike spirit, by many shifts
    Has stayed the hand of the enemy, who crieth
    Thy world is not destroyed, thy good shall live:
    Thou hast more power for good than Zeus for ill,
    More courage, justice, more abundant art,
    More love, more joy, more reason: though around thee
    Rank-rooting evil bloom with poisonous crown,
    Though wan and dolorous and crooked things                       501
    Have made their home with thee, thy good shall live.
    Know thy desire: and know that if thou seek it,
    And seek, and seek, and fear not, thou shalt find.

    _Sem._ (_youths_). Is this a god that speaketh thus?

    _Sem._ (_maidens_). He speaketh as a man
    In love or great affliction yields his soul.

    _In._ Thou, whencesoe’er thou comest, whoe’er thou art,
    Who breakest on our solemn sacrifice
    With solemn words, I pray thee not depart
    Till thou hast told me more. This fire I seek                    510
    Not for myself, whose thin and silvery hair
    Tells that my toilsome age nears to its end,
    But for my children and the aftertime,
    For great the need thereof, wretched our state;
    Nay, set by what has been, our happiness
    Is very want, so that what now is not
    Is but the measure of what yet may be.
    And first are barest needs, which well I know
    Fire would supply, but I have hope beyond,
    That Nature in recovering her right                              520
    Would kinder prove to man who seeks to learn
    Her secrets and unfold the cause of life.
    So tell me, if thou knowest, what is fire?
    Doth earth contain it? or, since from the sun
    Fire reaches us, since in the glimmering stars
    And pallid moon, in lightning, and the glance
    Of tracking meteors that at nightfall show
    How in the air a thousand sightless things
    Travel, and ever on their windswift course
    Flame when they list and into darkness go,--530
    Since in all these a fiery nature dwells,
    Is fire an airy essence, a thing of heaven,
    That, could we poise it, were an alien power
    To make our wisdom less, our wonder more?

    _Pr._ Thy wish to know is good, and happy is he
    Who thus from chance and change has launched his mind
    To dwell for ever with undisturbèd truth.
    This high ambition doth not prompt his hand
    To crime, his right and pleasure are not wronged
    By folly of his fellows, nor his eye                             540
    Dimmed by the griefs that move the tears of men.
    Son of the earth, and citizen may be
    Of Argos or of Athens and her laws,
    But still the eternal nature, where he looks,
    O’errules him with the laws which laws obey,
    And in her heavenly city enrols his heart.

    _In._ Thus ever have I held of happiness,
    The child of heavenly truth, and thus have found it
    In prayer and meditation and still thought,
    And thus my peace of mind based on a floor                       550
    That doth not quaver like the joys of sense:
    Those I possess enough in seeing my slaves
    And citizens enjoy, having myself
    Tasted for once and put their sweets away.
    But of that heavenly city, of which thou sayest
    Her laws o’errule us, have I little learnt,
    For when my wandering spirit hath dared alone
    The unearthly terror of her voiceless halls,
    She hath fallen from delight, and without guide
    Turned back, and from her errand fled for fear.                  560

    _Pr._ Think not that thou canst all things know, nor deem
    Such knowledge happiness: the all-knowing Fates
    No pleasure have, who sit eternally
    Spinning the unnumbered threads that Time hath woven,
    And weaves, upgathering in his furthest house
    To store from sight; but what ’tis joy to learn
    Or use to know, that may’st thou ask of right.

    _In._ Then tell me, for thou knowest, what is fire?

    _Pr._ Know then, O king, that this fair earth of men,
    The Olympus of the gods, and all the heavens
    Are lesser kingdoms of the boundless space                       571
    Wherein Fate rules; they have their several times,
    Their seasons and the limit of their thrones,
    And from the nature of eternal things
    Springing, themselves are changed; even as the trees
    Or birds or beasts of earth, which now arise
    To being, now in turn decay and die.
      The heaven and earth thou seest, for long were held
    By Fire, a raging power, to whom the Fates
    Decreed a slow diminishing old age,                              580
    But to his daughter, who is that gentle goddess,
    Queen of the clear and azure firmament,
    In heaven called Hygra, but by mortals Air,
    To her, the child of his slow doting years,
    Was given a beauteous youth, not long to outlast
    His life, but be the pride of his decay,
    And win to gentler sway his lost domains.
      And when the day of time arrived, when Air
    Took o’er from her decrepit sire the third
    Of the Sun’s kingdoms, the one-moonèd earth,
    Straight came she down to her inheritance.                       591
      Gaze on the sun with thine unshaded eye
    And shrink from what she saw. Forests of fire
    Whose waving trunks, sucking their fuel, reared
    In branched flame roaring, and their torrid shades
    Aye underlit with fire. The mountains lifted
    And fell and followed like a running sea,
    And from their swelling flanks spumed froth of fire;
    Or, like awakening monsters, mighty mounds
    Rose on the plain awhile.

    _Sem._ (_maidens_). He discovers a foe.                          600

    _Sem._ (_youths_). An enemy he paints.

    _Pr._ These all she quenched,
    Or charmed their fury into the dens and bowels
    Of earth to smoulder, there the vital heat
    To hold for her creation, which then--to her aid
    Summoning high Reason from his home in heaven,—
    She wrought anew upon the temperate lands.

    _Sem._ (_maidens_). ’Twas well Air won this kingdom of her sire.

    _Sem._ (_youths_). Now say how made she green this home of fire.

    _Pr._ The waters first she brought, that in their streams
    And pools and seas innumerable things                            610
    Brought forth, from whence she drew the fertile seeds
    Of trees and plants, and last of footed life,
    That wandered forth, and roaming to and fro,
    The rejoicing earth peopled with living sound.
    Reason advised, and Reason praised her toil;
    Which when she had done she gave him thanks, and said,
    ‘Fair comrade, since thou praisest what is done,
    Grant me this favour ere thou part from me:
    Make thou one fair thing for me, which shall suit
    With what is made, and be the best of all.’                      620
    ’Twas evening, and that night Reason made man.

    _Sem._ (_maidens_). Children of Air are we, and live by fire.

    _Sem._ (_youths_). The sons of Reason dwelling on the earth.

    _Sem._ (_maidens_). Folk of a pleasant kingdom held between
    Fire’s reign of terror and the latter day
    When dying, soon in turn his child must die.

    _Sem._ (_youths_). Having a wise creator, above time
    Or youth or change, from whom our kind inherit
    The grace and pleasure of the eternal gods.

    _In._ But how came gods to rule this earth of Air?

    _Pr._ They also were her children who first ruled,
    Cronos, Iapetus, Hypérion,                                       632
    Theia and Rhea, and other mighty names
    That are but names--whom Zeus drave out from heaven,
    And with his tribe sits on their injured thrones.

    _In._ There is no greater god in heaven than he.

    _Pr._ Nor none more cruel nor more tyrannous.

    _In._ But what can man against the power of god?

    _Pr._ Doth not man strive with him? thyself dost pray.

    _In._ That he may pardon our contrarious deeds.

    _Pr._ Alas! alas! what more contrarious deed,
    What greater miracle of wrong than this,                         642
    That man should know his good and take it not?
    To what god wilt thou pray to pardon this?
    In vain was reason given, if man therewith
    Shame truth, and name it wisdom to cry down
    The unschooled promptings of his best desire.
    The beasts that have no speech nor argument
    Confute him, and the wild hog in the wood
    That feels his longing, hurries straight thereto,                650
    And will not turn his head.

    _In._ How mean’st thou this?

    _Pr._ Thou hast desired the good, and now canst feel
    How hard it is to kill the heart’s desire.

    _In._ Shall Inachus rise against Zeus, as he
    Rose against Cronos and made war in heaven?

    _Pr._ I say not so, yet, if thou didst rebel,
    The tongue that counselled Zeus should counsel thee.

    _Sem._ (_maidens_). This is strange counsel.

    _Sem._ (_youths_). He is not
    A counsellor for gods or men.

    _In._ O that I knew where I might counsel find,
    That one were sent, nay, were’t the least of all
    The myriad messengers of heaven, to me!                          662
    One that should say ’This morn I stood with Zeus,
    He hath heard thy prayer and sent me: ask a boon,
    What thing thou wilt, it shall be given thee.’

    _Pr._ What wouldst thou say to such a messenger?

    _In._ No need to ask then what I now might ask,
    How ’tis the gods, if they have care for mortals,
    Slubber our worst necessities--and the boon,
    No need to tell him that.

    _Pr._ Now, king, thou seest
    Zeus sends no messenger, but I am here.

    _In._ Thy speech is hard, and even thy kindest words
    Unkind. If fire thou hast, in thee ’tis kind
    To proffer it: but thou art more unkind
    Yoking heaven’s wrath therewith. Nay, and how knowest thou       675
    Zeus will be angry if I take of it?
    Thou art a prophet: ay, but of the prophets
    Some have been taken in error, and honest time
    Has honoured many with forgetfulness.
    I’ll make this proof of thee; Show me thy fire--
    Nay, give’t me now--if thou be true at all,
    Be true so far: for the rest there’s none will lose,
    Nor blame thee being false--where is thy fire?

    _Pr._ O rather, had it thus been mine to give,
    I would have given it thus: not adding aught
    Of danger or diminishment or loss;                               686
    So strong is my goodwill; nor less than this
    My knowledge, but in knowledge all my power.
    Yet since wise guidance with a little means
    Can more than force unminded, I have skill
    To conjure evil and outcompass strength.
    Now give I thee my best, a little gift
    To work a world of wonder; ’tis thine own
    Of long desire, and with it I will give
    The cunning of invention and all arts                            695
    In which thy hand instructed may command,
    Interpret, comfort, or ennoble nature;
    With all provision that in wisdom is,
    And what prevention in foreknowledge lies.

    _In._ Great is the gain.

    _Pr._ O king, the gain is thine,
    The penalty I more than share.

    _In._ Enough,
    I take thy gift; nor hast thou stood more firm
    To every point of thy strange chequered tale,
    Revealing, threatening, offering more and more,
    And never all, than I to this resolve.                           705

    _Pr._ I knew thy heart would fail not at the hour.

    _In._ Nay, failed I now, what were my years of toil
    More than the endurance of a harnessed brute,
    Flogged to his daily work, that cannot view
    The high design to which his labour steps?
    And I of all men were dishonoured most
    Shrinking in fear, who never shrank from toil,
    And found abjuring, thrusting stiffly back,
    The very gift for which I stretched my hands.
    What though I suffer? are these wintry years
    Of growing desolation to be held                                 716
    As cherishable as the suns of spring?
    Nay, only joyful can they be in seeing
    Long hopes accomplished, long desires fulfilled.
    And since thou hast touched ambition on the side
    Of nobleness, and stirred my proudest hope,
    And wilt fulfil this, shall I count the cost?
    Rather decay will triumph, and cold death
    Be lapped in glory, seeing strength arise                        724
    From weakness, from the tomb go forth a flame.

    _Pr._ ’Tis well; thou art exalted now, the grace
    Becomes thy valiant spirit.

    _In._ Lo! on this day
    Which hope despaired to see, hope manifests
    A vision bright as were the dreams of youth;
    When life was easy as a sleeper’s faith
    Who swims in the air and dances on the sea;
    When all the good that scarce by toil is won,
    Or not at all is won, is as a flower
    Growing in plenty to be plucked at will:
    Is it a dream again or is it truth,                              735
    This vision fair of Greece inhabited?
    A fairer sight than all fair Iris sees,
    Footing her airy arch of colours spun
    From Ida to Olympus, when she stays
    To look on Greece and thinks the sight is fair;
    Far fairer now, clothed with the works of men.

    _Pr._ Ay, fairer far: for nature’s varied pleasaunce
    Without man’s life is but a desert wild,
    Which most, where most she mocks him, needs his aid.
    She knows her silence sweeter when it girds                      745
    His murmurous cities, her wide wasteful curves
    Larger beside his economic line;
    Or what can add a mystery to the dark,
    As doth his measured music when it moves
    With rhythmic sweetness through the void of night?
    Nay, all her loveliest places are but grounds
    Of vantage, where with geometric hand,
    True square and careful compass he may come
    To plan and plant and spread abroad his towers,
    His gardens, temples, palaces and tombs.                         755
      And yet not all thou seest, with trancèd eye
    Looking upon the beauty that shall be,
    The temple-crownèd heights, the wallèd towns,
    Farms and cool summer seats, nor the broad ways
    That bridge the rivers and subdue the mountains,
    Nor all that travels on them, pomp or war
    Or needful merchandise, nor all the sails
    Piloting over the wind-dappled blue
    Of the summer-soothed Ægean, to thy mind
    Can picture what shall be: these are the face
    And form of beauty, but her heart and life
    Shall they be who shall see it, born to shield
    A happier birthright with intrepid arms,
    To tread down tyranny and fashion forth
    A virgin wisdom to subdue the world,                             770
    To build for passion an eternal song,
    To shape her dreams in marble, and so sweet
    Their speech, that envious Time hearkening shall stay
    In fear to snatch, and hide his rugged hand.
    Now is the birthday of thy conquering youth,
    O man, and lo! thy priest and prophet stand
    Beside the altar and have blessed the day.

    _In._ Ay, blessed be this day. Where is thy fire?
    Or is aught else to do, ere I may take?

    _Pr._ This was my message, speak and there is fire.

    _In._ There shall be fire. Await me here awhile.
    I go to acquaint my house, and bring them forth.

[_Exit._

    _Chorus._

          Hearken, O Argos, hearken!                                 783
          There will be fire.
          And thou, O Earth, give ear!
          There will be fire.

    _Sem._ (_maidens_). Who shall be sent to fetch this fire
    for the king?

    _Sem._ (_youths_). Shall we put forth in boats to reap,
    And shall the waves for harvest yield
    The rootless flames that nimbly leap                             790
    Upon their ever-shifting field?

    _Sem._ (_maidens_). Or we in olive-groves go shake
    And beat the fruiting sprays, till all
    The silv’ry glitter which they make
    Beneath into our baskets fall?

    _Sem._ (_youths_). To bind in sheaves and bear away
    The white unshafted darts of day?

    _Sem._ (_maidens_). And from the shadow one by one
    Pick up the playful oes of sun?

    _Sem._ (_youths_). Or wouldst thou mine a passage deep
    Until the darksome fire is found,                                801
    Which prisoned long in seething sleep
    Vexes the caverns underground?

    _Sem._ (_maidens_). Or bid us join our palms perchance,
    To cup the slant and chinkèd beam,
    Which mounting morn hath sent to dance
    Across our chamber while we dream?

   _Sem._ (_youths_). Say whence and how shall we fetch
          this fire for the king?
    Our hope is impatient of vain debating.

    _Sem._ (_maidens_). My heart is stirred at the name of           810
          the wondrous thing,
    And trembles awaiting.

_ODE._

    A coy inquisitive spirit, the spirit of wonder,
    Possesses the child in his cradle, when mortal things
    Are new, yet a varied surface and nothing under.
    It busies the mind on trifles and toys and brings
    Her grasp from nearer to further, from smaller to greater,
    And slowly teaches flight to her fledgeling wings.

    Where’er she flutters and falls surprises await her:
    She soars, and beauty’s miracles open in sight,
    The flowers and trees and beasts of the earth; and later         820
    The skies of day, the moon and the stars of night;
    ’Neath which she scarcely venturing goes demurely,
    With mystery clad, in the awe of depth and height.

    O happy for still unconscious, for ah! how surely,
    How soon and surely will disenchantment come,
    When first to herself she boasts to walk securely,
    And drives the master spirit away from his home;

    Seeing the marvellous things that make the morning
    Are marvels of every-day, familiar, and some
    Have lost with use, like earthly robes, their adorning,
    As earthly joys the charm of a first delight,                    831
    And some are fallen from awe to neglect and scorning;
    Until--
            O tarry not long, dear needed sprite!
    Till thou, though uninvited, with fancy returnest
    To hallow beauty and make the dull heart bright:
    To inhabit again thy gladdened kingdom in earnest;
    Wherein--
              from the smile of beauty afar forecasting
    The pleasure of god, thou livest at peace and yearnest
                  With wonder everlasting.



SECOND PART

_Reenter from the palace_ INACHUS, _with_ ARGEIA _and_ IO.


_INACHUS._

    That but a small and easy thing now seems,
    Which from my house when I came forth at noon
    A dream was and beyond the reach of man.
    ’Tis now a fancy of the will, a word,
    Liberty’s lightest prize. Yet still as one
    Who loiters on the threshold of delight,
    Delaying pleasure for the love of pleasure,
    I dally--Come, Argeia, and share my triumph!
    And set our daughter by thee; though her eyes
    Are young, there are no eyes this day so young
    As shall forget this day--while one thing more
    I ask of thee; this evil, will it light                          851
    On me or on my house or on mankind?

    _Pr._ Scarce on mankind, O Inachus, for Zeus
    A second time failing will not again
    Measure his spite against their better fate.
    And now the terror, which awhile o’er Earth
    Its black wings spread, shall up to Heaven ascend
    And gnaw the tyrant’s heart: for there is whispered
    A word gone forth to scare the mighty gods;
    How one must soon be born, and born of men,                      860
    Who shall drive out their impious host from heaven,
    And from their skyey dwellings rule mankind
    In truth and love. So scarce on man will fall
    This evil, nay, nor on thyself, O king;
    Thy name shall live an honoured name in Greece.

    _In._ Then on my house ’twill be. Know’st thou no more?

    _Pr._ Know I no more? Ay, if my purpose fail
    ’Tis not for lack of knowing: if I suffer,
    ’Tis not that poisonous fear hath slurred her task,
    Or let brave resolution walk unarmed.                            870
    My ears are callous to the threats of Zeus,
    The direful penalties his oath hath laid
    On every good that I in heart and hand
    Am sworn to accomplish, and for all his threats,
    Lest their accomplishment should outrun mine,
    Am bound the more. Nay, nor his evil minions,
    Nor force, nor strength, shall bend me to his will.

_ARGEIA._

    Alas, alas, what heavy words are these,
    That in the place of joy forbid your tongue,
    That cloud and change his face, while desperate sorrow           880
    Sighs in his heart? I came to share a triumph:
    All is dismay and terror. What is this?

    _In._ True, wife, I spake of triumph, and I told thee
    The winter-withering hope of my whole life
    Has flower’d to-day in amaranth: what the hope
    Thou knowest, who hast shared; but the condition
    I told thee not and thou hast heard: this prophet,
    Who comes to bring us fire, hath said that Zeus
    Wills not the gift he brings, and will be wroth
    With us that take it.

    _Ar._ O doleful change, I came
    In pious purpose, nay, I heard within                            891
    The hymn to glorious Zeus: I rose and said,
    The mighty god now bends, he thrusts aside
    His heavenly supplicants to hear the prayer
    Of Inachus his servant; let him hear.
    O let him turn away now lest he hear.
    Nay, frown not on me; though a woman’s voice
    That counsels is but heard impatiently,
    Yet by thy love, and by the sons I bare thee,
    By this our daughter, our last ripening fruit,                   900
    By our long happiness and hope of more,
    Hear me and let me speak.

    _In._ Well, wife, speak on.

    _Ar._ Thy voice forbids more than thy words invite:
    Yet say whence comes this stranger. Know’st thou not?
    Yet whencesoe’er, if he but wish us well,
    He will not bound his kindness in a day.
    Do nought in haste. Send now to Sicyon
    And fetch thy son Phorôneus, for his stake
    In this is more than thine, and he is wise.
    ’Twere well Phorôneus and Ægialeus                               910
    Were both here: maybe they would both refuse
    The strange conditions which this stranger brings.
    Were we not happy too before he came?
    Doth he not offer us unhappiness?
    Bid him depart, and at some other time,
    When you have well considered, then return.

    _In._ ’Tis his conditions that we now shall hear.

    _Ar._ O hide them yet! Are there not tales enough
    Of what the wrathful gods have wrought on men?
    Nay, ’twas this very fire thou now would’st take,
    Which vain Salmoneus, son of Æolus,                              921
    Made boast to have, and from his rattling car
    Threw up at heaven to mock the lightning. Him
    The thunderer stayed not to deride, but sent
    One blinding fork, that in the vacant sky
    Shook like a serpent’s tongue, which is but seen
    In memory, and he was not, or for burial
    Rode with the ashes of his royal city
    Upon the whirlwind of the riven air.
    And after him his brother Athamas,
    King of Orchomenos, in frenzy fell
    For Hera’s wrath, and raving killed his son;
    And would have killed fair Ino, but that she fled
    Into the sea, preferring there to woo                            934
    The choking waters, rather than that the arm
    Which had so oft embraced should do her wrong.
    For which old crimes the gods yet unappeased
    Demand a sacrifice, and the king’s son
    Dreads the priest’s knife, and all the city mourns.
    Or shall I say what shameful fury it was
    With which Poseidon smote Pasiphaë,
    But for neglect of a recorded vow:
    Or how Actæon fared of Artemis
    When he surprised her, most himself surprised:
    And even while he looked his boasted bow
    Fell from his hands, and through his veins there ran
    A strange oblivious trouble, darkening sense
    Till he knew nothing but a hideous fear
    Which bade him fly, and faster, as behind
    He heard his hounds give tongue, that through the wood           950
    Were following, closing, caught him and tore him down.
    And many more thus perished in their prime;
    Lycaon and his fifty sons, whom Zeus
    In their own house spied on, and unawares
    Watching at hand, from his disguise arose,
    And overset the table where they sat
    Around their impious feast and slew them all:
    Alcyonè and Ceyx, queen and king,
    Who for their arrogance were changed to birds:
    And Cadmus now a serpent, once a king:                           960
    And saddest Niobe, whom not the love
    Of Leto aught availed, when once her boast
    Went out, though all her crime was too much pride
    Of heaven’s most precious gift, her children fair.
    Six daughters had she, and six stalwart sons;
    But Leto bade her two destroy the twelve.
    And somewhere now, among lone mountain rocks
    On Sipylus, where couch the nymphs at night
    Who dance all day by Achelous’ stream,
    The once proud mother lies, herself a rock,                      970
    And in cold breast broods o’er the goddess’ wrong.

    _In._ Now hush thy fear. See how thou tremblest still.
    Or if thou fear, fear passion; for the freshes
    Of tenderness and motherly love will drown
    The eye of judgment: yet, since even excess
    Of the soft quality fits woman well,
    I praise thee; nor would ask thee less to aid
    With counsel, than in love to share my choice.
    Tho’ weak thy hands to poise, thine eye may mark
    This balance, how the good of all outweighs                      980
    The good of one or two, though these be us.
    Let not reluctance shame the sacrifice
    Which in another thou wert first to praise.

    _Ar._ Alas for me, for thee and for our children,
    Who, being our being, having all our having,
    If they fare ill, our pride lies in the dust.

    _In._ O deem not a man’s children are but those
    Out of his loins engendered--our spirit’s love
    Hath such prolific consequence, that Virtue
    Cometh of ancestry more pure than blood,                         990
    And counts her seed as sand upon the shore.
    Happy is he whose body’s sons proclaim
    Their father’s honour, but more blest to whom
    The world is dutiful, whose children spring
    Out of all nations, and whose pride the proud
    Rise to regenerate when they call him sire.

    _Ar._ Thus, husband, ever have I bought and buy
    Nobleness cheaply being linked with thee.
    Forgive my weakness; see, I now am bold;
    Tell me the worst, I’ll hear and wish ’twere more.

    _In._ Retire--thy tears perchance may stir again.

    _Ar._ Nay, I am full of wonder and would hear.

    _Pr._ Bid me not tell if ye have fear to hear;
    But have no fear. Knowledge of future things                    1004
    Can nothing change man’s spirit: and though he seem
    To aim his passion darkly, like a shaft
    Shot toward some fearful sound in thickest night,
    He hath an owl’s eye, and must blink at day.
    The springs of memory, that feed alike
    His thought and action, draw from furthest time
    Their constant source, and hardly brook constraint
    Of actual circumstance, far less attend
    On glassed futurity; nay, death itself,
    His fate unquestioned, his foretasted pain,
    The certainty foreknown of things unknown,
    Cannot discourage his habitual being                            1016
    In its appointed motions, to make waver
    His eager hand, nor loosen the desire
    Of the most feeble melancholy heart
    Even from the unhopefullest of all her dreams.

    _In._ Since then I long to know, now something say
    Of what will come to mine when I am gone.

    _Pr._ And let the maid too hear, for ’tis of her
    I speak, to tell her whither she should turn
    The day ye drive her forth from hearth and home.

    _In._ What sayst thou? drive her out? and we? from home?        1026
    Banish the comfort of our eyes? Nay rather
    Believe that these obedient hands will tear
    The heart out of my breast, ere it do this.

    Pr. When her wild cries arouse the house at night,
    And, running to her bed, ye see her set                         1031
    Upright in trancèd sleep, her starting hair
    With deathly sweat bedewed, in horror shaking,
    Her eyeballs fixed upon the unbodied dark,
    Through which a draping mist of luminous gloom
    Drifts from her couch away,--when, if asleep,
    She walks as if awake, and if awake
    Dreams, and as one who nothing hears or sees,
    Lives in a sick and frantic mood, whose cause
    She understands not or is loth to tell--

    _Ar._ Ah, ah, my child, my child!--Dost thou feel aught?        1041
    Speak to me--nay, ’tis nothing--hearken not.

    _Pr._ Ye then distraught with sorrow, neither knowing
    Whether to save were best or lose, will seek
    Apollo’s oracle.

    _In._ And what the answer?
    Will it discover nought to avert this sorrow?

    _Pr._ Or else thy whole race perish root and branch.

    _In._ Alas! alas!

    _Pr._ Yet shall she live though lost; from human form
    Changed, that thou wilt not know thy daughter more.

    _In._ Woe, woe! my thought was praying for her death.           1051

    _Pr._ In Hera’s temple shall her prison be
    At high Mycenæ, till from heaven be sent
    Hermes, with song to soothe and sword to slay
    The beast whose hundred eyes devour the door.

    _In._ Enough, enough is told, unless indeed,
    The beast once slain, thou canst restore our child.

    _Pr._ Nay, with her freedom will her wanderings
    Begin. Come hither, child--nay, let her come:
    What words remain to speak will not offend her,
    And shall in memory quicken, when she looks
    To learn where she should go;--for go she must,
    Stung by the venomous fly, whose angry flight
    She still will hear about her, till she come                    1064
    To lay her sevenfold-carried burden down
    Upon the Æthiop shore where he shall reign.

    _In._ But say--say first, what form--

    _Pr._ In snow-white hide
    Of those that feel the goad and wear the yoke.

    _In._ Round-hoofed, or such as tread with cloven foot?

    _Pr._ Wide-horned, large-eyed, broad-fronted, and the feet      1070
    Cloven which carry her to her far goal.

    _In._ Will that of all these evils be the term?

    _Pr._ Ay, but the journey first which she must learn.
    Hear now, my child; the day when thou art free,
    Leaving the lion-gate, descend and strike
    The Trêtan road to Nemea, skirting wide
    The unhunted forest o’er the watered plain
    To walled Cleônæ, whence the traversed stream
    To Corinth guides: there enter not, but pass
    To narrow Isthmus, where Poseidon won                           1080
    A country from Apollo, and through the town
    Of Crommyon, till along the robber’s road
    Pacing, thy left eye meet the westering sun
    O’er Geraneia, and thou reach the hill
    Of Megara, where Car thy brother’s babe
    In time shall rule; next past Eleusis climb
    Stony Panactum and the pine-clad slopes
    Of Phyle; shun the left-hand way, and keep
    The rocks; the second day thy feet shall tread
    The plains of Græa, whence the roadway serves
    Aulis and Mycalessus to the point                               1091
    Of vext Euripus: fear not then the stream,
    Nor scenting think to taste, but plunging in
    Breast its salt current to the further shore.
    For on this island mayst thou lose awhile
    Thy maddening pest, and rest and pasture find,
    And from the heafs of bold Macistus see
    The country left and sought: but when thou feel
    Thy torment urge, move down, recross the flood,
    And west by Harma’s fencèd gap arrive
    At seven-gated Thebes: thy friendly goddess
    Ongan Athenè has her seat without.                              1102

    _Chor._ Now if she may not stay thy toilsome destined steps,
    I pray that she may slay for thee the maddening fly.

    _Pr._ Keep not her sanctuary long, but seek
    Bœotian Ascra, where the Muses’ fount,
    Famed Aganippè, wells: Ocalea
    Pass, and Tilphusa’s northern steeps descend
    By Alalcomenæ, the goddess’ town.
    Guard now the lake’s low shore, till thou have crossed
    Hyrcana and Cephissus, the last streams                         1111
    Which feed its reedy pools, when thou shalt come
    Between two mountains that enclose the way
    By peakèd Abæ to Hyampolis.
    The right-hand path that thither parts the vale
    Opes to Cyrtonè and the Locrian lands;
    Toward Elateia thou, where o’er the marsh
    A path with stones is laid; and thence beyond
    To Thronium, Tarphè, and Thermopylæ,
    Where rocky Lamia views the Maliac gulf.

    _Chor._ If further she should go, will she not see
    That other Argos, the Dodonian land?                            1122

    _Pr._ Crossing the Phthian hills thou next shalt reach
    Pharsalus, and Olympus’ peakèd snows
    Shall guide thee o’er the green Pelasgic plains
    For many a day, but to Argissa come
    Let old Peneius thy slow pilot be
    Through Tempè, till they turn upon his left
    Crowning the wooded slopes with splendours bare.
    Thence issuing forth on the Pierian shore
    Northward of Ossa thou shalt touch the lands
    Of Macedon.

    _Chor._ Alas, we wish thee speed,                               1132
    But bid thee here farewell; for out of Greece
    Thou goest ’mongst the folk whose chattering speech
    Is like the voice of birds, nor home again
    Wilt thou return.

    _Pr._ Thy way along the coast
    Lies till it southward turn, when thou shalt seek
    Where wide on Strymon’s plain the hindered flood
    Spreads like a lake; thy course to his oppose
    And face him to the mountain whence he comes:
    Which doubled, Thrace receives thee: barbarous names            1141
    Of mountain, town and river, and a people
    Strange to thine eyes and ears, the Agathyrsi,
    Of pictured skins, who owe no marriage law,
    And o’er whose gay-spun garments sprent with gold
    Their hanging hair is blue. Their torrent swim
    That measures Europe in two parts, and go
    Eastward along the sea, to mount the lands
    Beyond man’s dwelling, and the rising steeps
    That face the sun untrodden and unnamed.--1150
      Know to earth’s verge remote thou then art come,
    The Scythian tract and wilderness forlorn,
    Through whose rude rocks and frosty silences
    No path shall guide thee then, nor my words now.
    There as thou toilest o’er the treacherous snows,
    A sound then thou shalt hear to stop thy breath,
    And prick thy trembling ears; a far-off cry,
    Whose throat seems the white mountain and its passion
    The woe of earth. Flee not, nor turn not back:
    Let thine ears drink and guide thine eyes to see
    That sight whose terrors shall assuage thy terror,
    Whose pain shall kill thy pain. Stretched on the rock,
    Naked to scorching sun, to pinching frost,                      1163
    To wind and storm and beaks of wingèd fiends
    From year to year he lies. Refrain to ask
    His name and crime--nay, haply when thou see him
    Thou wilt remember--’tis thy tyrant’s foe,
    Man’s friend, who pays his chosen penalty.
    Draw near, my child, for he will know thy need,
    And point from land to land thy further path.

_Chorus_

      O miserable man, hear now the worst.
    O weak and tearful race,
    Born to unhappiness, see now thy cause                          1173
    Doomed and accurst!

      It surely were enough, the bad and good
    Together mingled, against chance and ill
    To strive, and prospering by turns,
    Now these, now those, now folly and now skill,
    Alike by means well understood
    Or ’gainst all likelihood;
    Loveliness slaving to the unlovely will
    That overrides the right and laughs at law.

      But always all in awe                                         1183
    And imminent dread:
    Because there is no mischief thought or said,
    Imaginable or unguessed,
    But it may come to be; nor home of rest,
    Nor hour secure: but anywhere,
    At any moment; in the air,
    Or on the earth or sea,
    Or in the fair
    And tender body itself it lurks, creeps in,
    Or seizes suddenly,                                             1193
    Torturing, burning, withering, devouring,
    Shaking, destroying; till tormented life
    Sides with the slayer, not to be,
    And from the cruel strife
    Falls to fate overpowering.

      Or if some patient heart,
    In toilsome steps of duty tread apart,                          1200
    Thinking to win her peace within herself,
    And thus awhile succeed:
    She must see others bleed,
    At others’ misery moan,
    And learn the common suffering is her own,
    From which it is no freedom to be freed:
    Nay, Nature, her best nurse,
    Is tender but to breed a finer sense,
    Which she may easier wound, with smart the worse
    And torture more intense.                                       1210

      And no strength for thee but the thought of duty,
    Nor any solace but the love of beauty.
    O Right’s toil unrewarded!
    O Love’s prize unaccorded!

      I say this might suffice,
    O tearful and unstable
    And miserable man,
    Were’t but from day to day
    Thy miserable lot,
    This might suffice, I say,                                      1220
    To term thee miserable.
    But thou of all thine ills too must take thought,
    Must grow familiar till no curse astound thee,
    With tears recall the past,
    With tears the times forecast;
    With tears, with tears thou hast
    The scapeless net spread in thy sight around thee.

      How then support thy fate,
    O miserable man, if this befall,
    That he who loves thee and would aid thee, daring
    To raise an arm for thy deliverance,                            1231
    Must for his courage suffer worse than all?

    _In._ Bravest deliverer, for thy prophecy
    Has torn the veil which hid thee from my eyes,
    If thyself art that spirit, of whom some things
    Were darkly spoken,--nor can I doubt thou art,
    Being that the heaven its fire withholds not from thee
    Nor time his secrets,--tell me now thy name,
    That I may praise thee rightly; and my late
    Unwitting words pardon thou, and these who still
    In blinded wonder kneel not to thy love.                        1241

    _Pr._ Speak not of love. See, I am moved with hate,
    And fiercest anger, which will sometimes spur
    The heart to extremity, till it forget
    That there is any joy save furious war.
    Nay, were there now another deed to do,
    Which more could hurt our enemy than this,
    Which here I stand to venture, here would I leave thee
    Conspiring at his altar, and fly off
    To plunge the branding terror in his soul.
    But now the rising passion of my will                           1251
    Already jars his reaching sense, already
    From heaven he bids his minion Hermes forth
    To bring his only rebel to his feet.
    Therefore no more delay, the time is short.

    _In._ I take, I take. ’Tis but for thee to give.

    _Pr._ O heavenly fire, life’s life, the eye of day,
    Whose nimble waves upon the starry night
    Of boundless ether love to play,
    Carrying commands to every gliding sprite
    To feed all things with colour, from the ray
    Of thy bright-glancing, white                                   1162
    And silver-spinning light:
    Unweaving its thin tissue for the bow
    Of Iris, separating countless hues
    Of various splendour for the grateful flowers
    To crown the hasting hours,
    Changing their special garlands as they choose.

      O spirit of rage and might,
    Who canst unchain the links of winter stark,
    And bid earth’s stubborn metals flow like oil,
    Her porphyrous heart-veins boil;                                1272
    Whose arrows pierce the cloudy shields of dark;
    Let now this flame, which did to life awaken
    Beyond the cold dew-gathering veils of morn,
    And thence by me was taken,
    And in this reed was borne,
    A smothered theft and gift to man below,
    Here with my breath revive,
    Restore thy lapsèd realm, and be the sire
    Of many an earthly fire.                                        1281

      O flame, flame bright and live,
    Appear upon the altar as I blow.

    _Chor._ ’Twas in the marish reed.
    See to his mouth he sets its hollow flute
    And breathes therein with heed,
    As one who from a pipe with breathings mute
    Will music’s voice evoke.—
    See, the curl of a cloud.

    _In._ The smoke, the smoke!                                     1290

    _Semichorus._ Thin clouds mounting higher.

    _In._ ’Tis smoke, the smoke of fire.

    _Semichorus._ Thick they come and thicker,
    Quick arise and quicker,
    Higher still and higher.
    Their wreaths the wood enfold.
    --I see a spot of gold.
    They spring from a spot of gold,
    Red gold, deep among
    The leaves: a golden tongue.                                    1300
    O behold, behold,
    Dancing tongues of gold,
    That leaping aloft flicker,
    Higher still and higher.

    _In._ ’Tis fire, the flame of fire!

    _Semichorus._ The blue smoke overhead
    Is turned to angry red.
    The fire, the fire, it stirs.
    Hark, a crackling sound,
    As when all around                                              1310
    Ripened pods of furze
    Split in the parching sun
    Their dry caps one by one,
    And shed their seeds on the ground.
    --Ah! what clouds arise.
    Away! O come away.
    The wind-wafted smoke,
    Blowing all astray,

 [_Prometheus, after writing his name on the altar, goes out
 unobserved._]

    Blinds and pricks my eyes.
    Ah! I choke, I choke.
    --All the midst is rent:
    See the twigs are all
    By the flaming spent
    White and gold, and fall.
    How they writhe, resist,
    Blacken, flake, and twist,
    Snap in gold and fall.
    --See the stars that mount,
    Momentary bright
    Flitting specks of light                                        1330
    More than eye can count.
    Insects of the air,
    As in summer night
    Show a fire in flying
    Flickering here and there,
    Waving past and dying.
    --Look, a common cone
    Of the mountain pine
    Solid gold is grown;
    Till its scales outshine,                                       1340
    Standing each alone
    In the spiral rows
    Of their fair design,
    All the brightest shows
    Of the sun’s decline.
    --Hark, there came a hiss,
    Like a startled snake
    Sliding through the brake.
    Oh, and what is this?
    Smaller flames that flee                                        1350
    Sidelong from the tree,
    Hark, they hiss, they hiss.
    --How the gay flames flicker,
    Spurting, dancing, leaping
    Quicker yet and quicker,
    Higher yet and higher,
    --Flaming, flaring, fuming,
    Cracking, crackling, creeping,
    Hissing and consuming:
    Mighty is the fire.                                             1360

    _In._ Stay, stay, cease your rejoicings. Where is he,
    The prophet,--nay, what say I,--the god, the giver?

    _Chor._ He is not here--he is gone.

    _In._ Search, search around.
    Search all, search well.

    _Chor._ He is gone,--he is not here.

    _In._ The palace gate lies open: go, Argeia,
    Maybe he went within: go seek him there.

[_Exit Ar._

    Look down the sea road, down the country road:
    Follow him if ye see him.

    _Chor._ He is not there.

    _In._ Strain, strain your eyes: look well: search everywhere.
    Look townwards--is he there?

    _Part of Chorus returning._ He is not there.—

    _Other part returning._ He is not there.

    _Ar. re-entering._ He is not there.                             1371

    _Chor._ O see!

    _Chor._ See where?

    _Chor._ See on the altar--see!

    _Chor._ What see ye on the altar?

    _Chor._ Here in front
    Words newly writ.

    _Chor._ What words?

    _Chor._ A name--

    _In._ Ay true--
    There is the name. How like a child was I,
    That I must wait till these dumb letters gave
    The shape and soul to knowledge: when the god
    Stood here so self-revealed to ears and eyes
    That, ’tis a god I said, yet wavering still,
    Doubting what god,--and now, who else but he?
    I knew him, yet not well; I knew him not:
    Prometheus--ay, Prometheus. Know ye, my children,               1382
    This name we see was writ by him we seek.
    ’Tis his own name, his own heart-stirring name,
    Feared and revered among the immortal gods;
    Divine Prometheus: see how here the large
    Cadmeian characters run, scoring out
    The hated title of his ancient foe,—
    To Zeus ’twas made,--and now ’tis to Prometheus--
    Writ with the charrèd reed--theft upon theft.
    He hath stolen from Zeus his altar, and with his fire
    Hath lit our sacrifice unto himself.                            1392
    Ió Prometheus, friend and firegiver,
    For good or ill thy thefts and gifts are ours.
    We worshipped thee unknowing.

    _Chor._ But now where is he?

    _In._ No need to search--we shall not see him more.
    We look in vain. The high gods when they choose
    Put on and off the solid visible shape
    Which more deceives our hasty sense, than when
    Seeing them not we judge they stand aloof.
    And he, he now is gone; his work is done:
    ’Tis ours to see it be not done in vain.                        1402

    _Chor._ What is to do? speak, bid, command, we fly.

    _In._ Go some and fetch more wood to feed the fire;
    And some into the city to proclaim
    That fire is ours: and send out messengers
    To Corinth, Sicyon, Megara and Athens
    And to Mycenæ, telling we have fire:
    And bid that in the temples they prepare
    Their altars, and send hither careful men
    To learn of me what things the time requires.

[_Exit part of Chorus._

    The rest remain to end our feast; and now
    Seeing this altar is no more to Zeus,                           1413
    But shall for ever be with smouldering heat
    Fed for the god who first set fire thereon,
    Change ye your hymns, which in the praise of Zeus
    Ye came to sing, and change the prayer for fire
    Which ye were wont to raise, to high thanksgiving,
    Praising aloud the giver and his gift.

    _Part of Chorus._ Now our happy feast hath ending,
                      While the sun in heaven descending
                      Sees us gathered round a light
                      Born to cheer his vacant night.               1423
                      Praising him to-day who came
                      Bearing far his heavenly flame:
                      Came to crown our king’s desire
                      With his gift of golden fire.

    _Semichorus._ My heart, my heart is freed.
    Now can I sing. I loose a shaft from my bow,
    A song from my heart to heaven, and watch it speed.
    It revels in the air, and straight to its goal doth go.
      I have no fear: I praise distinguishing duly:
    I praise the love that I love and I worship truly.
    Goodness I praise, not might,
    Nor more will I speak of wrong,                                 1435
    But of lovingkindness and right;
    And the god of my love shall rejoice at the sound of my song.
      I praise him whom I have seen:
    As a man he is beautiful, blending prime and youth,
    Of gentle and lovely mien,
    With the step and the eyes of truth,
    As a god,--O were I a god, but thus to be man!
    As a god, I set him above
    The rest of the gods; for his gifts are pledges of love,
    The words of his mouth rare and precious,
    His eyes’ glance and the smile of his lips are love.
      He is the one                                                 1447
    Alone of all the gods,
    Of righteous Themis the lofty-spirited son,
    Who hates the wrongs they have done.
    He is the one I adore.
    For if there be love in heaven with evil to cope,—
    And he promised us more and more,—
    For what may we not hope?


_ODE_

      My soul is drunk with joy, her new desire
    In far forbidden places wanders away.
    Her hopes with free bright-coloured wings of fire
    Upon the gloom of thought
    Are sailing out.
    Awhile they rise, awhile to rest they softly fall,
    Like butterflies, that flit                                     1461
    Across the mountains, or upon a wall
    Winking their idle fans at pleasure sit.

        O my vague desires!
    Ye lambent flames of the soul, her offspring fires:
    That are my soul herself in pangs sublime
    Rising and flying to heaven before her time:
        What doth tempt you forth
    To melt in the south or shiver in the frosty north?
    What seek ye or find ye in your random flying,
    For ever soaring aloft, soaring and dying?
        Joy, the joy of flight;                                     1472
    They hide in the sun, they flare and dance in the night.
    Gone up, gone out of sight--and ever again
    Follow fresh tongues of fire, fresh pangs of pain.
        Ah! could I control
    These vague desires, these leaping flames of the soul:
    Could I but quench the fire, ah! could I stay
    My soul that flieth, alas, and dieth away!

    [_Enter other part of Chorus._

    _Part of Chor._ Here is wood to feed the fire--
    Never let its flames expire.
    Sing ye still while we advance
    Round the fire in measured dance,
    While the sun in heaven descending
    Sees our happy feast have ending.                               1485
    Weave ye still your joyous song,
    While we bear the wood along.

    _Semichorus._ But O return,
    Return, thou flower of the gods!
    Remember the limbs that toil and the hearts that yearn,
    Remember, and soon return!
    To prosper with peace and skill
    Our hands in the works of pleasure, beauty and use.
    Return, and be for us still
    Our shield from the anger of Zeus.                              1495
      And he, if he raise his arm in anger to smite thee,
    And think for the good thou hast done with pain to requite thee,
    Vengeance I heard thee tell,
    And the curse I take for my own,
    That his place is prepared in hell,
    And a greater than he shall hurl him down from his throne.
      Down, down from his throne!
    For the god who shall rule mankind from the deathless skies
    By mercy and truth shall be known,
    In love and peace shall arise.                                  1505
    For him,--if again I hear him thunder above,
    O then, if I crouch or start,
    I will press thy lovingkindness more to my heart,
    Remember the words of thy mouth rare and precious,
    Thy heart of hearts and gifts of divine love.



                             EROS & PSYCHE

                          A NARRATIVE POEM IN
                            TWELVE MEASURES


                          THE STORY DONE INTO
                           ENGLISH FROM THE
                           LATIN OF APULEIUS



    _L’anima semplicetta che sa nulla._

    DANTE


    _O latest-born, O loveliest vision far
    Of all Olympus’ faded hierarchy._

    KEATS



                             EROS & PSYCHE


                             FIRST QUARTER

                                SPRING


                PSYCHE’S EARTHLY PARENTAGE · WORSHIPPED
                       BY MEN · & PERSECUTED BY
                  APHRODITE · SHE IS LOVED & CARRIED
                              OFF BY EROS



                             EROS & PSYCHE

                                 MARCH


1

    In midmost length of hundred-citied Crete,
    The land that cradl’d Zeus, of old renown,
    Where grave Demeter nurseried her wheat,
    And Minos fashion’d law, ere he went down
    To judge the quaking hordes of Hell’s domain,
    There dwelt a King on the Omphalian plain
    Eastward of Ida, in a little town.


2

    Three daughters had this King, of whom my tale
    Time hath preserved, that loveth to despise
    The wealth which men misdeem of much avail,
    Their glories for themselves that they devise;
    For clerkly is he, old hard-featured Time,
    And poets’ fabl’d song, and lovers’ rhyme
    He storeth on his shelves to please his eyes.


3

    These three princesses all were fairest fair;
    And of the elder twain ’tis truth to say
    That if they stood not high above compare,
    Yet in their prime they bore the palm away;
    Outwards of loveliness; but Nature’s mood,
    Gracious to make, had grudgingly endued
    And marr’d by gifting ill the beauteous clay.


4

    And being in honour they were well content
    To feed on lovers’ looks and courtly smiles,
    To hang their necks with jewel’d ornament,
    And gold, that vanity in vain beguiles,
    And live in gaze, and take their praise for due,
    To be the fairest maidens then to view
    Within the shores of Greece and all her isles.


5

      But of that youngest one, the third princess,
    There is no likeness; since she was as far
    From pictured beauty as is ugliness,
    Though on the side where heavenly wonders are,
    Ideals out of being and above,
    Which music worshipeth, but if love love,
    ’Tis, as the poet saith, to love a star.


6

    Her vision rather drave from passion’s heart
    What earthly soil it had afore possest;
    Since to man’s purer unsubstantial part
    The brightness of her presence was addrest:
    And such as mock’d at God, when once they saw
    Her heavenly glance, were humbl’d, and in awe
    Of things unseen, return’d to praise the Best.


7

    And so before her, wheresoe’er she went,
    Hushing the crowd a thrilling whisper ran,
    And silent heads were reverently bent;
    Till from the people the belief began
    That Love’s own mother had come down on earth,
    Sweet Cytherea, or of mortal birth
    A greater Goddess was vouchsaf’t to man.


8

    Then Aphrodite’s statue in its place
    Stood without worshippers; if Cretans pray’d
    For beauty or for children, love or grace,
    The prayer and vow were offer’d to the maid;
    Unto the maid their hymns of praise were sung,
    Their victims bled for her, for her they hung
    Garland and golden gift, and none forbade.


9

    And thence opinion spread beyond the shores,
    From isle to isle the wonder flew, it came
    Across the Ægæan on a thousand oars,
    Athens and Smyrna caught the virgin’s fame;
    And East or West, where’er the tale had been,
    The adoration of the foam-born queen
    Fell to neglect, and men forgot her name.


10

    No longer to high Paphos now ’twas sail’d;
    The fragrant altar by the Graces served
    At Cnidus was forsaken; pilgrims fail’d
    The rocky island to her name reserved,
    Proud Ephyra, and Meropis renown’d;
    ’Twas all for Crete her votaries were bound,
    And to the Cretan maid her worship swerved.


11

      Which when in heaven great Aphrodite saw,
    Who is the breather of the year’s bright morn,
    Fount of desire and beauty without flaw,
    Herself the life that doth the world adorn;
    Seeing that without her generative might
    Nothing can spring upon the shores of light,
    Nor any bud of joy or love be born;


12

    She, when she saw the insult, did not hide
    Her indignation, that a mortal frail
    With her eterne divinity had vied,
    Her fair Hellenic empire to assail,
    For which she had fled the doom of Ninus old,
    And left her wanton images unsoul’d
    In Babylon and Zidon soon to fail.


13

    ‘Not long,’ she cried, ‘shall that poor girl of Crete
    God it in my despite; for I will bring
    Such mischief on the sickly counterfeit
    As soon shall cure her tribe of worshipping:
    Her beauty will I mock with loathèd lust,
    Bow down her dainty spirit to the dust,
    And leave her long alive to feel the sting.’


14

      With that she calls to her her comely boy,
    The limber scion of the God of War,
    The fruit adulterous, which for man’s annoy
    To that fierce partner Cytherea bore,
    Eros, the ever young, who only grew
    In mischief, and was Cupid named anew
    In westering aftertime of latin lore.


15

    What the first dawn of manhood is, the hour
    When beauty, from its fleshy bud unpent,
    Flaunts like the corol of a summer flower,
    As if all life were for that ornament,
    Such Eros seemed in years, a trifler gay,
    The prodigal of an immortal day
    For ever spending, and yet never spent.


16

    His skin is brilliant with the nimble flood
    Of ichor, that comes dancing from his heart,
    Lively as fire, and redder than the blood,
    And maketh in his eyes small flashes dart,
    And curleth his hair golden, and distilleth
    Honey on his tongue, and all his body filleth
    With wanton lightsomeness in every part.


17

    Naked he goeth, but with sprightly wings
    Red, iridescent, are his shoulders fledged.
    A bow his weapon, which he deftly strings,
    And little arrows barb’d and keenly edged;
    And these he shooteth true; but else the youth
    For all his seeming recketh naught of truth,
    But most deceiveth where he most is pledged.


18

    ’Tis he that maketh in men’s heart a strife
    Between remorseful reason and desire,
    Till with life lost they lose the love of life,
    And by their own hands wretchedly expire;
    Or slain in bloody rivalries they miss
    Even the short embracement of their bliss,
    His smile of fury and his kiss of fire.


19

    He makes the strong man weak, the weak man wild;
    Ruins great business and purpose high;
    Brings down the wise to folly reconciled,
    And martial captains on their knees to sigh:
    He changeth dynasties, and on the head
    Of duteous heroes, who for honour bled,
    Smircheth the laurel that can never die.


20

    Him then she call’d, and gravely kissing told
    The great dishonour to her godhead done;
    And how, if he from that in heaven would hold,
    On earth he must maintain it as her son;
    The rather that his weapons were most fit,
    As was his skill ordain’d to champion it;
    And flattering thus his ready zeal she won.


21

    Whereon she quickly led him down on earth,
    And show’d him PSYCHE, thus the maid was named;
    Whom when she show’d, but could not hide her worth,
    She grew with envy tenfold more enflamed.
    ‘But if,’ she cried, ‘thou smite her as I bid,
    Soon shall our glory of this affront be rid,
    And she and all her likes for ever shamed.


22

    ‘Make her to love the loathliest, basest wretch,
    Deform’d in body, and of moonstruck mind,
    A hideous brute and vicious, born to fetch
    Anger from dogs and cursing from the blind.
    And let her passion for the monster be
    As shameless and detestable as he
    Is most extreme and vile of humankind.’


23

      Which said, when he agreed, she spake no more,
    But left him to his task, and took her way
    Beside the ripples of the shell-strewn shore,
    The southward stretching margin of a bay,
    Whose sandy curves she pass’d, and taking stand
    Upon its taper horn of furthest land,
    Lookt left and right to rise and set of day.


24

    Fair was the sight; for now, though full an hour
    The sun had sunk, she saw the evening light
    In shifting colour to the zenith tower,
    And grow more gorgeous ever and more bright.
    Bathed in the warm and comfortable glow,
    The fair delighted queen forgot her woe,
    And watch’d the unwonted pageant of the night.


25

    Broad and low down, where late the sun had been,
    A wealth of orange-gold was thickly shed,
    Fading above into a field of green,
    Like apples ere they ripen into red;
    Then to the height a variable hue
    Of rose and pink and crimson freak’d with blue,
    And olive-border’d clouds o’er lilac led.


26

    High in the opposèd west the wondering moon
    All silvery green in flying green was fleec’t;
    And round the blazing South the splendour soon
    Caught all the heaven, and ran to North and East;
    And Aphrodite knew the thing was wrought
    By cunning of Poseidon, and she thought
    She would go see with whom he kept his feast.


27

    Swift to her wish came swimming on the waves
    His lovely ocean nymphs, her guides to be,
    The Nereids all, who live among the caves
    And valleys of the deep, Cymodocè,
    Agavè, blue-eyed Hallia and Nesæa,
    Speio, and Thoë, Glaucè and Actæa,
    Iaira, Melitè and Amphinomè,


28

    Apseudès and Nemertès, Callianassa,
    Cymothoë, Thaleia, Limnorrhea,
    Clymenè, Ianeira and Ianassa,
    Doris and Panopè and Galatea,
    Dynamenè, Dexamenè and Maira,
    Ferusa, Doto, Proto, Callianeira,
    Amphithoë, Oreithuia and Amathea.


29

    And after them sad Melicertes drave
    His chariot, that with swift unfellied wheel,
    By his two dolphins drawn along the wave,
    Flew as they plunged, yet did not dip nor reel,
    But like a plough that shears the heavy land
    Stood on the flood, and back on either hand
    O’erturn’d the briny furrow with its keel.


30

    Behind came Tritons, that their conches blew,
    Greenbearded, tail’d like fish, all sleek and stark;
    And hippocampi tamed, a bristly crew,
    The browzers of old Proteus’ weedy park,
    Whose chiefer Mermen brought a shell for boat,
    And balancing its hollow fan afloat,
    Push’d it to shore and bade the queen embark:


31

    And then the goddess stept upon the shell
    Which took her weight; and others threw a train
    Of soft silk o’er her, that unfurl’d to swell
    In sails, at breath of flying Zephyrs twain;
    And all her way with foam in laughter strewn,
    With stir of music and of conches blown,
    Was Aphrodite launch’d upon the main.



                                 APRIL


1

    But fairest Psyche still in favour rose,
    Nor knew the jealous power against her sworn:
    And more her beauty now surpass’t her foe’s,
    Since ’twas transfigured by the spirit forlorn,
    That writeth, to the perfecting of grace,
    Immortal question in a mortal face,
    The vague desire whereunto man is born.


2

    Already in good time her sisters both,
    Whose honest charms were never famed as hers,
    With princes of the isle had plighted troth,
    And gone to rule their foreign courtiers;
    But she, exalted evermore beyond
    Their loveliness, made yet no lover fond,
    And gain’d but number to her worshippers.


3

    To joy in others’ joy had been her lot,
    And now that that was gone she wept to see
    How her transcendent beauty overshot
    The common aim of all felicity.
    For love she sigh’d; and had some peasant rude
    For true love’s sake in simple passion woo’d,
    Then Psyche had not scorn’d his wife to be.


4

      For what is Beauty, if it doth not fire
    The loving answer of an eager soul?
    Since ’tis the native food of man’s desire,
    And doth to good our varying world control;
    Which, when it was not, was for Beauty’s sake
    Desired and made by Love, who still doth make
    A beauteous path thereon to Beauty’s goal.


5

    Should all men by some hateful venom die,
    The pity were that o’er the unpeopl’d sphere
    The sun would still bedeck the evening sky
    And the unimaginable hues appear,
    With none to mark the rose and gold and green;
    That Spring should walk the earth, and nothing seen
    Of her fresh delicacy year by year.


6

    And if some beauteous things,--whose heavenly worth
    And function overpass our mortal sense,—
    Lie waste and unregarded on the earth
    By reason of our gross intelligence,
    These are not vain, because in nature’s scheme
    It lives that we shall grow from dream to dream
    In time to gather an enchantment thence.


7

    Even as we see the fairest works of men
    Awhile neglected, and the makers die;
    But Truth comes weeping to their graves, and then
    Their fames victoriously mounting high
    Do battle with the regnant names of eld,
    To win their seats; as when the Gods rebel’d
    Against their sires and drave them from the sky.


8

    But to be praised for beauty and denied
    The meed of beauty, this was yet unknown:
    The best and bravest men have ever vied
    To win the fairest women for their own.
     Thus Psyche spake, or reason’d in her mind,
    Disconsolate; and with self-pity pined,
    In the deserted halls wandering alone.


9

    And grievèd grew the King to see her woe:
    And blaming first the gods for her disease,
    He purposed to their oracle to go
    To question how he might their wrath appease,
    Or, if that might not be, the worst to hear,—
    Which is the last poor hope of them that fear.—
     So he took his ship upon the northern seas,


10

    And journeying to the shrine of Delphi went,
    The temple of Apollo Pythian,
    Where when the god he question’d if ’twas meant
    That Psyche should be wed, and to what man,
    The tripod shook, and o’er the vaporous well
    The chanting Pythoness gave oracle,
    And thus in priestly verse the sentence ran:


11

    _High on the topmost rock with funeral feast
    Convey and leave the maid, nor look to find
    A mortal husband, but a savage beast,
    The viperous scourge of gods and humankind;
    Who shames and vexes all, and as he flies
    With sword and fire, Zeus trembles in the skies,
    And groans arise from souls to hell consign’d._


12

      With which reply the King return’d full sad:
    For though he nothing more might understand,
    Yet in the bitter bidding that he had
    No man made question of the plain command,
    That he must sacrifice the tender flower
    Of his own blood to a demonian power,
    Upon the rocky mount with his own hand.


13

      Some said that she to Talos was devote,
    The metal giant, who with mile-long stride
    Cover’d the isle, walking around by rote
    Thrice every day at his appointed tide;
    Who shepherded the sea-goats on the coast,
    And, as he past, caught up and live would roast,
    Pressing them to his burning ribs and side:


14

    Whose head was made of fine gold-beaten work,
    Of silver pure his arms and gleaming chest,
    Thence of green-bloomèd bronze far as the fork,
    Of iron weather-rusted all the rest.
    One single vein he had, which running down
    From head to foot was open in his crown,
    And closèd by a nail; such was this pest.


15

      A little while they spent in sad delay,
    Then order’d, as the oracle had said,
    The cold feast and funereal display
    Wherewith the fated bridal should be sped:
    And their black pageantry and vain despairing
    When Psyche saw, and for herself preparing
    The hopeless ceremonial of the dead,


16

    Then spake she to the King and said ‘O Sire,
    Why wilt thou veil those venerable eyes
    With piteous tears, which must of me require
    More tears again than for myself arise?
    Then, on the day my beauty first o’erstept
    Its mortal place it had been well to have wept;
    But now the fault beyond our ruing lies.


17

    ‘As to be worship’d was my whole undoing,
    So my submission must the forfeit pay:
    And welcome were the morning of my wooing,
    Tho’ after it should dawn no other day.
    Up to the mountain! for I hear the voice
    Of my belovèd on the winds, _Rejoice,
    Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away!_’


18

      With such distemper’d speech, that little cheer’d
    Her mourning house, she went to choose with care
    The raiment for her day of wedlock weird,
    Her body as for burial to prepare;
    But laved with bridal water, from the stream
    Where Hera bathed; for still her fate supreme
    Was doubtful, whether Love or Death it were:


19

    Love that is made of joy, and Death of fear:
    Nay, but not these held Psyche in suspense;
    Hers was the hope that following by the bier
    Boweth its head beneath the dark immense:
    Her fear the dread of life that turns to hide
    Its tragic tears, what hour the happy bride
    Ventures for love her maiden innocence.


20

      They set on high upon the bridal wain
    Her bed for bier, and yet no corpse thereon;
    But like as when unto a warrior slain
    And not brought home the ceremonies done
    Are empty, for afar his body brave
    Lies lost, deep buried by the wandering wave,
    Or ’neath the foes his fury fell upon,—


21

    So was her hearse: and with it went afore,
    Singing the solemn dirge that moves to tears,
    The singers; and behind, clad as for war,
    The King uncrown’d among his mournful peers,
    All ’neath their armour robed in linen white;
    And in their left were shields, and in their right
    Torches they bore aloft instead of spears.


22

    And next the virgin tribe in white forth sail’d,
    With wreaths of dittany; and ’midst them there
    Went Psyche, all in lily-whiteness veil’d,
    The white Quince-blossom chapleting her hair:
    And last the common folk, a weeping crowd,
    Far as the city-gates with wailings loud
    Follow’d the sad procession in despair.


23

    Thus forth and up the mount they went, until
    The funeral chariot must be left behind,
    Since road was none for steepness of the hill;
    And slowly by the narrow path they wind:
    All afternoon their white and scatter’d file
    Toil’d on distinct, ascending many a mile
    Over the long brown slopes and crags unkind.


24

    But ere unto the snowy peak they came
    Of that stormshapen pyramid so high,
    ’Twas evening, and with footsteps slow and lame
    They gather’d up their lagging company:
    And then her sire, even as Apollo bade,
    Set on the topmost rock the hapless maid,
    With trembling hands and melancholy cry.


25

    And now the sun was sunk; only the peak
    Flash’d like a jewel in the deepening blue:
    And from the shade beneath none dared to speak,
    But all look’d up, where glorified anew
    Psyche sat islanded in living day.
    Breathless they watcht her, till the last red ray
    Fled from her lifted arm that waved adieu.


26

    There left they her, turning with sad farewells
    To haste their homeward course, as best they might:
    But night was crowding up the barren fells,
    And hid full soon their rocky path from sight;
    And each unto his stumbling foot to hold
    His torch was fain, for o’er the moon was roll’d
    A mighty cloud from heaven, to blot her light.


27

    And thro’ the darkness for long while was seen
    That armour’d train with waving fires to thread
    Downwards, by pass, defile, and black ravine,
    Each leading on the way that he was led.
    Slowly they gain’d the plain, and one by one
    Into the shadows of the woods were gone,
    Or in the clinging mists were quench’d and fled.


28

      But unto Psyche, pondering o’er her doom
    In tearful silence on her stony chair,
    A Zephyr straying out of heaven’s wide room
    Rush’d down, and gathering round her unaware
    Fill’d with his breath her vesture and her veil;
    And like a ship, that crowding all her sail
    Leans to accompany the tranquil air,


29

    She yielded, and was borne with swimming brain
    And airy joy, along the mountain side,
    Till, hid from earth by ridging summits twain,
    They came upon a valley deep and wide;
    Where the strong Zephyr with his burden sank,
    And laid her down upon a grassy bank,
    ’Mong thyme and violets and daisies pied.


30

    And straight upon the touch of that sweet bed
    Both woe and wonder melted fast away:
    And sleep with gentle stress her sense o’erspread,
    Gathering as darkness doth on drooping day:
    And nestling to the ground, she slowly drew
    Her wearied limbs together, and, ere she knew,
    Wrapt in forgetfulness and slumber lay.



                                  MAY


1

    After long sleep when Psyche first awoke
    Among the grasses ’neath the open skies,
    And heard the mounting larks, whose carol spoke
    Delighted invitation to arise,
    She lay as one who after many a league
    Hath slept off memory with his long fatigue,
    And waking knows not in what place he lies:


2

    Anon her quickening thought took up its task,
    And all came back as it had happ’d o’ernight;
    The sad procession of the wedding mask,
    The melancholy toiling up the height,
    The solitary rock where she was left;
    And thence in dark and airy waftage reft,
    How on the flowers she had been disburden’d light.


3

    Thereafter she would rise and see what place
    That voyage had its haven in, and found
    She stood upon a little hill, whose base
    Shelved off into the valley all around;
    And all round that the steep cliffs rose away,
    Save on one side where to the break of day
    The widening dale withdrew in falling ground.


4

    There, out from over sea, and scarce so high
    As she, the sun above his watery blaze
    Upbroke the grey dome of the morning sky,
    And struck the island with his level rays;
    Sifting his gold thro’ lazy mists, that still
    Climb’d on the shadowy roots of every hill,
    And in the tree-tops breathed their silvery haze.


5

    At hand on either side there was a wood;
    And on the upward lawn, that sloped between,
    Not many paces back a temple stood,
    By even steps ascending from the green;
    With shaft and pediment of marble made,
    It fill’d the passage of the rising glade,
    And there withstay’d the sun in dazzling sheen.


6

    Too fair for human art, so Psyche thought,
    It might the fancy of some god rejoice;
    Like to those halls which lame Hephæstos wrought,
    Original, for each god to his choice,
    In high Olympus; where his matchless lyre
    Apollo wakes, and the responsive choir
    Of Muses sing alternate with sweet voice.


7

    Wondering she drew anigh, and in a while
    Went up the steps as she would entrance win,
    And faced her shadow ’neath the peristyle
    Upon the golden gate, whose flanges twin--
    As there she stood, irresolute at heart
    To try--swung to her of themselves apart;
    Whereat she past between and stood within.


8

      A foursquare court it was with marble floor’d,
    Embay’d about with pillar’d porticoes,
    That echo’d in a somnolent accord
    The music of a fountain, which arose
    Sparkling in air, and splashing in its tank;
    Whose wanton babble, as it swell’d or sank,
    Gave idle voice to silence and repose.


9

    Thro’ doors beneath the further colonnade,
    Like a deep cup’s reflected glooms of gold,
    The inner rooms glow’d with inviting shade:
    And, standing in the court, she might behold
    Cedar, and silk, and silver; and that all
    The pargeting of ceiling and of wall
    Was fresco’d o’er with figures manifold.


10

    Then making bold to go within, she heard
    Murmur of gentle welcome in her ear;
    And seeing none that coud have spoken word,
    She waited: when again Lady, draw near;
    Enter! was cried; and now more voices came
    From all the air around calling her name,
    And bidding her rejoice and have no fear.


11

    And one, if she would rest, would show her bed,
    Pillow’d for sleep, with fragrant linen fine;
    One, were she hungry, had a table spread
    Like as the high gods have it when they dine:
    Or, would she bathe, were those would heat the bath;
    The joyous cries contending in her path,
    Psyche, they said, What wilt thou? all is thine.


12

    Then Psyche would have thank’d their service true,
    But that she fear’d her echoing words might scare
    Those sightless tongues; and well by dream she knew
    The voices of the messengers of prayer,
    Which fly upon the gods’ commandment, when
    They answer the supreme desires of men,
    Or for a while in pity hush their care.


13

    ’Twas fancy’s consummation, and because
    She would do joy no curious despite,
    She made no wonder how the wonder was;
    Only concern’d to take her full delight.
    So to the bath,--what luxury could be
    Better enhanced by eyeless ministry?—
    She follows with the voices that invite.


14

    There being deliciously refresht, from soil
    Of earth made pure by water, fire, and air,
    They clad her in soft robes of Asian toil,
    Scented, that in her queenly wardrobe were;
    And led her forth to dine, and all around
    Sang as they served, the while a choral sound
    Of strings unseen and reeds the burden bare.


15

    P athetic strains and passionate they wove,
    U rgent in ecstasies of heavenly sense;
    R esponsive rivalries, that, while they strove,
    C ombined in full harmonious suspense,
    E ntrancing wild desire, then fell at last
    L ull’d in soft closes, and with gay contrast
    L aunch’d forth their fresh unwearied excellence.


16

      Now Psyche, when her twofold feast was o’er,
    Would feed her eye; and choosing for her guide
    A low-voiced singer, bade her come explore
    The wondrous house; until on every side
    As surfeited with beauty, and seeing nought
    But what was rich and fair beyond her thought,
    And all her own, thus to the voice she cried:


17

    ‘Am I indeed a goddess, or is this
    But to be dead; and through the gates of death
    Passing unwittingly doth man not miss
    Body nor memory nor living breath;
    Nor by demerits of his deeds is cast,
    But, paid with the desire he holdeth fast,
    Is holp with all his heart imagineth?’


18

    But her for all reply the wandering tongue
    Call’d to the chamber where her bed was laid,
    With flower’d broideries of linen hung:
    And round the walls in painting were portray’d
    Love’s victories over the gods renown’d.
    Ares and Aphrodite here lay bound
    In the fine net that dark Hephæstus made:


19

    Here Zeus, in likeness of a tawny bull,
    Stoop’d on the Cretan shore his mighty knee,
    While off his back Europa beautiful
    Stept pale against the blue Carpathian sea;
    And here Apollo, as he caught amazed
    Daphne, for lo! her hands shot forth upraised
    In leaves, her feet were rooted like a tree:


20

    Here Dionysos, springing from his car
    At sight of Ariadne; here uplept
    Adonis to the chase, breaking the bar
    Of Aphrodite’s arm for love who wept:
    He spear in hand, with leashèd dogs at strain;
    A marvellous work. But Psyche soon grown fain
    Of rest, betook her to her bed and slept.


21

    Nor long had slept, when at a sudden stir
    She woke; and one, that thro’ the dark made way,
    Drew near, and stood beside; and over her
    The curtain rustl’d. Trembling now she lay,
    Fainting with terror: till upon her face
    A kiss, and with two gentle arms’ embrace,
    A voice that call’d her name in loving play.


22

    Though for the darkness she coud nothing see,
    She wish’d not then for what the night denied:
    This was the lover she had lack’d, and she,
    Loving his loving, was his willing bride.
    O’erjoy’d she slept again, o’erjoy’d awoke
    At break of morn upon her love to look;
    When lo! his empty place lay by her side.


23

    So all that day she spent in company
    Of the soft voices; and Of right, they said,
    Art thou our Lady now. Be happily
    Thy bridal morrow by thy servants sped.
    But she but long’d for night, if that might bring
    Her lover back; and he on secret wing
    Came with the dark, and in the darkness fled.


24

      And this was all her life; for every night
    He came, and though his name she never learn’d,
    Nor was his image yielded to her sight
    At morn or eve, she neither look’d nor yearn’d
    Beyond her happiness: and custom brought
    An ease to pleasure; nor would Psyche’s thought
    Have ever to her earthly home return’d,


25

    But that one night he said ‘Psyche, my soul,
    Sad danger threatens us: thy sisters twain
    Come to the mountain top, whence I thee stole,
    And thou wilt hear their voices thence complain.
    Answer them not: for it must end our love
    If they should hear or spy thee from above.’
    And Psyche said ‘Their cry shall be in vain.’


26

    But being again alone, she thought ’twas hard
    On her own blood; and blamed her joy as thief
    Of theirs, her comfort which their comfort barr’d;
    When she their care might be their care’s relief.
    All day she brooded on her father’s woe,
    And when at night her lover kisst her, lo!
    Her tender face was wet with tears of grief.


27

    Then question’d why she wept, she all confest;
    And begg’d of him she might but once go nigh
    To set her sire’s and sisters’ fears at rest;
    Till he for pity coud not but comply:
    ‘Only if they should ask thee of thy love
    Discover nothing to their ears above.’
    And Psyche said ‘In vain shall be their cry.’


28

    And yet with day no sooner was alone,
    Than she for loneliness her promise rued:
    That having so much pleasure for her own,
    ’Twas all unshared and spent in solitude.
    And when at night her love flew to his place,
    More than afore she shamed his fond embrace,
    And piteously with tears her plaint renew’d.


29

    The more he now denied, the more she wept;
    Nor would in anywise be comforted,
    Unless her sisters, on the Zephyr swept,
    Should in those halls be one day bathed and fed,
    And see themselves the palace where she reign’d.
    And he by force of tears at last constrain’d,
    Granted her wish unwillingly, and said:


30

    ‘Much to our peril hast thou won thy will;
    Thy sisters’ love, seeing thee honour’d so,
    Will sour to envy, and with jealous skill
    Will pry to learn the thing that none may know.
    Answer not, nor inquire; for know that I
    The day thou seest my face far hence shall fly,
    And thou anew to bitterest fate must go.’


31

    But Psyche said, ‘Thy love is more than life;
    To have thee leaveth nothing to be won:
    For should the noonday prove me to be wife
    Even of the beauteous Eros, who is son
    Of Cypris, I coud never love thee more.’
    Whereat he fondly kisst her o’er and o’er,
    And peace was ’twixt them till the night was done.



                             EROS & PSYCHE


                            SECOND QUARTER
                                SUMMER


             PSYCHE’S SISTERS · SNARING HER TO DESTRUCTION
                      · ARE THEMSELVES DESTROYED



                                 JUNE


1

    And truly need there was to the old King
    For consolation: since the mournful day
    Of Psyche’s fate he took no comforting,
    But only for a speedy death would pray;
    And on his head his hair grew silver-white.
    --Such on life’s topmost bough is sorrow’s blight,
    When the stout heart is cankering to decay.


2

    Which when his daughters learnt, they both were quick
    Comfort and solace to their sire to lend.
    But as not seldom they who nurse the sick
    Will take the malady from them they tend,
    So happ’d it now; for they who fail’d to cheer
    Grew sad themselves, and in that palace drear
    Increased the evil that they came to mend.


3

    And them the unhappy father sent to seek
    Where Psyche had been left, if they might find
    What monster held her on the savage peak;
    Or if she there had died of hunger pined,
    And, by wild eagles stript, her scatter’d bones
    Might still be gather’d from the barren stones;
    Or if her fate had left no trace behind.


4

      So just upon this time her sisters both
    Climb’d on the cliff that hung o’er Psyche’s vale;
    And finding there no sign, to leave were loth
    Ere well assured she lurk’d not within hail.
    So calling loud her name, ‘Psyche!’ they cried,
    ‘Psyche, O Psyche!’ and when none replied
    They sank upon the rocks to weep and wail.


5

    But Psyche heard their voices where she sat,
    And summoning the Zephyr bade him fleet
    Those mourners down unto the grassy plat
    ’Midst of her garden, where she had her seat.
    Then from the dizzy steep the wondering pair
    Came swiftly sinking on his buoyant air,
    And stood upon the terrace at her feet.


6

    Upsprang she then, and kiss’d them and embraced,
    And said ‘Lo, here am I, I whom ye mourn.
    I am not dead, nor tortured, nor disgraced,
    But blest above all days since I was born:
    Wherefore be glad. Enter my home and see
    How little cause has been to grieve for me,
    And my desertion on the rocks forlorn.’


7

    So entering by the golden gate, or e’er
    The marvel of their hither flight had waned,
    Fresh wonder took them now, for everywhere
    Their eyes that lit on beauty were enchain’d;
    And Psyche’s airy service, as she bade,
    Perform’d its magic office, and display’d
    The riches of the palace where she reign’d.


8

    And through the perfumed chambers they were led,
    And bathed therein; and after, set to sup,
    Were upon dreamlike delicacies fed,
    And wine more precious than its golden cup.
    Till seeing nothing lack’d and naught was theirs,
    Their happiness fell from them unawares,
    And bitter envy in their hearts sprang up.


9

    At last one said ‘Psyche, since not alone
    Thou livest here in joy, as well we wot,
    Who is the man who should these wonders own,
    Or god, I say, and still appeareth not?
    What is his name? What rank and guise hath he,
    Whom winds and spirits serve, who honoureth thee
    Above all others in thy blissful lot?’


10

    But Psyche when that wistful speech she heard
    Was ware of all her spouse had warn’d her of:
    And uttering a disingenuous word,
    Said ‘A youth yet unbearded is my love;
    He goeth hunting on the plains to-day,
    And with his dogs hath wander’d far away;
    And not till eve can he return above.’


11

    Then fearing to be nearer plied, she rose
    And brought her richest jewels one by one,
    Bidding them choose and take whate’er they chose;
    And beckoning the Zephyr spake anon
    That he should waft her sisters to the peak;
    The which he did, and, ere they more coud speak,
    They rose on high, and in the wind were gone.


12

      Nor till again they came upon the road,
    Which from the mountain shoulder o’er the plain
    Led to the city of their sire’s abode,
    Found they their tongues, though full of high disdain
    Their hearts were, but kept silence, till the strength
    Of pride and envious hatred burst at length
    In voice, and thus the elder gan complain:


13

    ‘Cruel and unjust fortune! that of three
    Sisters, whose being from one fountain well’d,
    Exalts the last so high from her degree,
    And leaves the first to be so far excel’d.
    My husband is a poor and niggard churl
    To him, whoe’er he be, that loves the girl.
    Oh! in what godlike state her house is held!’


14

    ‘Ay,’ said the other, ‘to a gouty loon
    Am I not wedded? Lo! thy hurt is mine:
    But never call me woman more, if soon
    I cannot lure her from her height divine.
    Nay, she shall need her cunning wit to save
    The wealth of which so grudgingly she gave;
    Wherefore thy hand and heart with me combine.


15

    ‘She but received us out of pride, to show
    Her state, well deeming that her happiness
    Was little worth while there was none to know;
    So is our lot uninjured if none guess.
    Reveal we nothing therefore, but the while
    Together scheme this wanton to beguile,
    And bring her boasting godhead to distress.’


16

    So fresh disordering their dress and hair,
    With loud lament they to their sire return,
    Telling they found not Psyche anywhere,
    And of her sure mischance could nothing learn:
    And with that lie the wounded man they slew,
    Hiding the saving truth which well they knew;
    Nor did his piteous grief their heart concern.


17

      Meanwhile her unknown lover did not cease
    To warn poor Psyche how her sisters plan’d
    To undermine her love and joy and peace;
    And urged how well she might their wiles withstand,
    By keeping them from her delight aloof:
    For better is security than proof,
    And malice held afar than near at hand.


18

    ‘And, dearest wife,’ he said, ‘since ’tis not long
    Ere one will come to share thy secrecy,
    And be thy babe and mine; let nothing wrong
    The happy months of thy maternity.
    If thou keep trust, then shalt thou see thy child
    A god; but if to pry thou be beguiled,
    The lot of both is death and misery.’


19

    Then Psyche’s simple heart was fill’d with joy,
    And counting to herself the months and days,
    Look’d for the time, when she should bear a boy
    To be her growing stay and godlike praise.
    And ‘O be sure,’ she said, ‘be sure, my pride
    Having so rich a promise cannot slide,
    Even if my love coud fail which thee obeys.’


20

      And so most happily her life went by,
    In thoughts of love dear to her new estate;
    Until at length the evil day drew nigh,
    When now her sisters, joined in jealous hate,
    Set forth again, and plotted by the way
    How they might best allure her to betray
    Her secret; with what lie their angle bait.


21

    That night her husband spake to her, and said
    ‘Psyche, thy sisters come: and when they climb
    The peak they will not tarry to be sped
    Down by the Zephyr, as that other time,
    But winging to the wind will cast themselves
    Out in the air, and on the rocky shelves
    Be dasht, and pay the penalty of crime.


22

    ‘So let it be, and so shall we be saved.’
    Which meditated vengeance of his fear
    When Psyche heard, now for their life she craved,
    Whose mere distress erewhile had toucht her near.
    Around her lover’s neck her arms she threw,
    And pleaded for them by her faith so true,
    Although they went on doom in judgment clear.


23

    In terror of bloodguiltiness she now
    Forgot all other danger; she adjured;
    Or using playfulness deep sobs would plow
    Her soft entreaties, not to be endured:
    Till he at last was fain once more to grant
    The service of the Zephyr, to enchant
    That wicked couple from their fate assured.


24

    So ere ’twas noon were noises at the door
    Of knocking loud and voices high in glee;
    Such as within that vale never before
    Had been, and now seem’d most unmeet to be.
    And Psyche blush’d, though being alone, and rose
    To meet her sisters and herself unclose
    The gate that made them of her palace free.


25

    Fondly she kiss’d them, and with kindly cheer
    Sought to amuse; and they with outward smile
    O’ermask’d their hate, and called her sweet and dear,
    Finding affection easy to beguile:
    And all was smooth, until at last one said
    ‘Tell us, I pray, to whom ’tis thou art wed;
    ’Mong gods or men, what is his rank and style?


26

    ‘Thou canst not think to hide the truth from us,
    Who knew thy peevish sorrows when a maid,
    And see thee now so glad and rapturous,
    As changed from what thou wert as light from shade;
    Thy jewels, too, the palace of a king,
    Nor least the serviceable spiriting,
    By everything thy secret is betray’d:


27

    ‘And yet thou talkest of thy wondrous man
    No more than if his face thou didst not know.’
    At which incontinently she began,
    Forgetful of her word a month ago,
    Answering ‘A merchant rich, of middle age,
    My husband is; and o’er his features sage
    His temples are already touch’d with snow.


28

    ‘But ’gainst his wish since hither ye were brought
    ’Twere best depart.’ Then her accustom’d spell
    Sped them upon the summit quick as thought;
    And being alone her doing pleased her well:
    So was she vext to find her love at night
    More sad than ever, of her sisters’ spite
    Speaking as one that coud the end foretell.


29

    ‘And ere long,’ said he, ‘they will spy again:
    Let them be dash’d upon the rocks and die;
    ’Tis they must come to death or thou to pain,
    To separation, Psyche, thou and I;
    Nay, and our babe to ill. I therefore crave
    Thou wilt not even once more these vipers save,
    Nor to thy love his only boon deny.’


30

    But Psyche would not think her sisters’ crime
    So gross and strange, nor coud her danger see;
    Since ’twere so easy, if at any time
    They show’d the venom of their hearts, that she
    Should fan them off upon the willing gust.
    So she refused, and claiming truer trust,
    Would in no wise unto their death agree.



                                 JULY


1

    ‘What think you, sister:’ thus one envious fiend
    To other spake upon their homeward route,
    ‘What of the story that our wit hath glean’d
    Of this mysterious lover, who can shoot
    In thirty days from beardless youth to prime,
    With wisdom in his face before his time,
    And snowy locks upon his head to boot?’


2

    ‘Ay,’ said the other, ‘true, she lied not well;
    And thence I gather knows no more than we:
    For surely ’tis a spirit insensible
    To whom she is wedded, one she cannot see.
    ’Tis that I fear; for if ’tis so, her child
    Will be a god, and she a goddess styled,
    Which, though I die to let it, shall not be.


3

    ‘Lament we thus no longer. Come, consult
    What may be done.’ And home they came at night,
    Yet not to rest, but of their plots occult
    Sat whispering on their beds; and ere ’twas light
    Resolving on the deed coud not defer;
    But roused the sleeping house with sudden stir,
    And sallied forth alone to work their spite.


4

    And with the noon were climb’d upon the peak,
    And swam down on the Zephyr as before;
    But now with piercing cry and doleful shriek
    They force their entrance through the golden door,
    Feigning the urgency of bitter truth;
    Such as deforms a friendly face with ruth,
    When kindness may not hide ill tidings more.


5

    Then Psyche when she heard their wailful din,
    And saw their countenances wan and worn
    With travel, vigil, and disfiguring sin,
    Their hair dishevel’d and their habits torn,
    For trembling scarce could ask what ill had hapt;
    And they alert with joy to see her trapt,
    Launch’d forth amain, and on their drift were borne.


6

    ‘O Psyche, happiest certainly and blest
    Up to this hour,’ they said, ‘thou surely wert,
    Being of thy fearful peril unpossest;
    Which now we would not tell but to avert.
    But we in solemn truth thy spouse have found
    To be the dragon of this mountain ground,
    Who holds thee here to work thy shame and hurt.


7

    ‘As yesternight we rode upon the wind
    He issued to pursue us from the wood;
    We saw his back, that through the tree-tops finn’d,
    His fiery eyes glared from their wrinkl’d hood.
    Lo, now betimes the oracle, which said
    How to the savage beast thou shouldst be wed,
    Is plainly for thy safety understood.


8

    ‘Long time hath he been known to all that dwell
    Upon the plain; but now his secret lair
    Have we discover’d, which none else coud tell:
    Though many women fallen in his snare
    Hath he enchanted; who, tradition saith,
    Taste love awhile, ere to their cruel death
    They pass in turn upon the summits bare.


9

    ‘Fly with us while thou mayst: no more delay;
    Renounce the spells of this accursed vale.
    We come to save thee, but we dare not stay;
    Among these sightless spirits our senses quail.
    Fly with us, fly!’ Then Psyche, for her soul
    Was soft and simple, lost her self-control,
    And, thinking only of the horrid tale,


10

    ‘Dear sisters,’ said she, and her sobbing speech
    Was broken by her terror, ‘it is true
    That much hath hapt to stablish what ye teach;
    For ne’er hath it been granted me to view
    My husband; and, for aught I know, he may
    Be even that cruel dragon, which ye say
    Peer’d at you from the forest to pursue.


11

    ‘’Tis sure that scarcely can I win his grace
    To see you here; and still he mischief vows
    If ever I should ask to see his face,
    Which, coming in the dark, he ne’er allows.
    Therefore, if ye can help, of pity show,
    Since doubt I must, how I may come to know
    What kind of spirit it is that is my spouse.’


12

    Then to her cue the younger was afore:
    ‘Hide thou a razor,’ cried she, ‘near thy bed;
    And have a lamp prepared, but whelm thereo’er
    Some cover, that no light be from it shed.
    And when securely in first sleep he lies,
    Look on him well, and ere he can arise,
    Gashing his throat, cut off his hideous head.’


13

    Which both persuading, off they flew content,
    Divining that whate’er she was forbid
    Was by her lover for her safety meant,
    Which only coud be sure while he was hid.
     But Psyche, to that miserable deed
    Being now already in her mind agreed,
    Wander’d alone, and knew not what she did.


14

    Now she would trust her lover, now in turn
    Made question of his bidding as unjust;
    But thirsting curiosity to learn
    His secret overcame her simple trust,
    O’ercame her spoken troth, o’ercame her fear;
    And she prepared, as now the hour drew near,
    The mean contrivances, nor felt disgust.


15

    She set the lamp beneath a chair, and cloked
    Thickly its rebel lustre from the eye:
    And laid the knife, to mortal keenness stroked,
    Within her reach, where she was wont to lie:
    And took her place full early; but her heart
    Beat fast, and stay’d her breath with sudden start,
    Feeling her lover’s arm laid fond thereby.


16

    But when at last he slept, then she arose,
    All faint and tremulous: and though it be
    That wrong betrayeth innocence with shews
    Of novelty, its guilt from shame to free,
    Yet ’twas for shame her hand so strangely shook
    That held the steel, and from the cloke that took
    The lamp, and raised it o’er the bed to see.


17

    She had some fear she might not well discern
    By that small flame a monster in the gloom;
    When lo! the air about her seem’d to burn,
    And bright celestial radiance fill’d the room.
    Too plainly O she saw, O fair to see!
    Eros, ’twas Eros’ self, her lover, he,
    The God of love, reveal’d in deathless bloom.


18

    Her fainting strength forsook her; on her knees
    Down by the bed she sank; the shameless knife
    Fell flashing, and her heart took thought to seize
    Its desperate haft, and end her wicked life.
    Yet coud she not her loving eyes withdraw
    From her fair sleeping lover, whom she saw
    Only to know she was no more his wife.


19

    O treasure of all treasures, late her own!
    O loss above all losses, lost for aye!
    Since there was no repentance coud atone
    For her dishonour, nor her fate withstay.
    But yet ’twas joy to have her love in sight;
    And, to the rapture yielding while she might,
    She gazed upon his body where he lay.


20

    Above all mortal beauty, as was hers,
    She saw a rival; but if passion’s heart
    Be rightly read by subtle questioners,
    It owns a wanton and a gentler part.
    And Psyche wonder’d, noting every sign
    By which the immortal God, her spouse divine,
    Betray’d the image of our earthly art;


21

    His thickly curling hair, his ruddy cheeks,
    And pouting lips, his soft and dimpl’d chin,
    The full and cushion’d eye, that idly speaks
    Of self-content and vanity within,
    The forward, froward ear, and smooth to touch
    His body sleek, but rounded overmuch
    For dignity of mind and pride akin.


22

    She noted that the small irradiant wings,
    That from his shoulders lay along at rest,
    Were yet disturb’d with airy quiverings,
    As if some wakeful spirit his blood possest;
    She feared he was awaking, but they kept
    Their sweet commotion still, and still he slept,
    And still she gazed with never-tiring zest.


23

    And now the colour of her pride and joy
    Outflush’d the hue of Eros; she, so cold,
    To have fired the passion of the heartless boy,
    Whom none in heaven or earth were found to hold!
    Psyche, the earthborn, to be prized above
    The heavenly Graces by the God of love,
    And worshipt by his wantonness untold!


24

    Nay, for that very thing she loved him more,
    More than herself her sweet self’s complement:
    Until the sight of him again upbore
    Her courage, and renew’d her vigour spent.
    And looking now around, she first espied
    Where at the bed’s foot, cast in haste aside,
    Lay his full quiver, and his bow unbent.


25

    One of those darts, of which she had heard so oft,
    She took to try if ’twas so very keen;
    And held its point against her finger soft
    So gently, that to touch it scarce was seen;
    Yet was she sharply prickt, and felt the fire
    Run through her veins; and now a strange desire
    Troubl’d her heart, which ne’er before had been:


26

    Straight sprang she to her lover on the bed,
    And kisst his cheek, and was not satisfied:
    When, O the lamp, held ill-balanced o’erhead,
    One drop of burning oil spill’d from its side
    On Eros’ naked shoulder as he slept,
    Who waken’d by the sudden smart uplept
    Upon the floor, and all the mischief eyed.


27

    With nervous speed he seized his bow, and past
    Out of the guilty chamber at a bound;
    But Psyche, following his flight as fast,
    Caught him, and crying threw her arms around:
    Till coming to the court he rose in air;
    And she, close clinging in her last despair,
    Was dragg’d, and then lost hold and fell to ground.


28

    Wailing she fell; but he, upon the roof
    Staying his feet, awhile his flight delay’d:
    And turning to her as he stood aloof
    Beside a cypress, whose profoundest shade
    Drank the reflections of the dreamy night
    In its stiff pinnacle, the nimble light
    Of million stars upon his body play’d:


29

    ‘O simple-hearted Psyche,’ thus he spake,
    And she upraised her piteous eyes and hands,
    ‘O simple-hearted Psyche, for thy sake
    I dared to break my mother’s stern commands;
    And gave thee godlike marriage in the place
    Of vilest shame; and, not to hurt thy grace,
    Spared thee my arrows, which no heart withstands.


30

    ‘But thou, for doubt I was some evil beast,
    Hast mock’d the warnings of my love, to spy
    Upon my secret, which concern’d thee least,
    Seeing that thy joy was never touch’d thereby.
    By faithless prying thou hast work’d thy fall,
    And, even as I foretold thee, losest all
    For looking on thy happiness too nigh:


31

    ‘Which loss may be thine ample punishment.
    But to those fiends, by whom thou wert misled,
    Go tell each one in turn that I have sent
    This message, that I love her in thy stead;
    And bid them by their love haste hither soon.’
    Whereat he fled; and Psyche in a swoon
    Fell back upon the marble floor as dead.



                                AUGUST


1

    When from the lowest ebbing of her blood
    The fluttering pulses thrill’d and swell’d again,
    Her stricken heart recovering force to flood
    With life the sunken conduits of her brain,
    Then Psyche, where she had fallen, numb and cold
    Arose, but scarce her quaking sense control’d,
    Seeing the couch where she that night had lain.


2

    The level sunbeams search’d the grassy ground
    For diamond dewdrops. Ah! was this the place?
    Where was the court, her home? she look’d around
    And question’d with her memory for a space.
    There was the cypress, there the well-known wood,
    That wall’d the spot: ’twas here her palace stood,
    As surely as ’twas vanish’d without trace.


3

    Was all a dream? To think that all was dreamt
    Were now the happier thought; but arguing o’er
    That dream it was, she fell from her attempt,
    Feeling the wifely burden that she bore.
    Nay, true, ’twas true. She had had all and lost;
    The joy, the reckless wrong, the heavy cost
    Were hers, the dead end now, and woe in store.


4

    What to be done? Fainting and shelterless
    Upon the mountain it were death to bide:
    And harbour knew she none, where her distress
    Might comfort find, or love’s dishonour hide;
    Nor felt she any dread like that of home:
    Yet forth she must, albeit to rove and roam
    An outcast o’er the country far and wide.


5

    Anon she marvel’d noting from the vale
    A path lead downward to the plain below,
    Crossing the very site, whereon the pale
    Of all her joy had stood few hours ago;
    A run of mountain beasts, that keep their track
    Through generations, and for ages back
    Had trod the self-same footing to and fro.


6

    That would she try: so forth she took her way,
    Turning her face from the dishonour’d dell,
    Adown the broadening eastward lawns, which lay
    In gentle slant, till suddenly they fell
    In sheer cliff; whence the path that went around,
    Clomb by the bluffs, or e’er it downward wound
    Beneath that precipice impassable.


7

    There once she turn’d, and gazing up the slope
    She bid the scene of all her joy adieu;
    ‘Ay, and farewell,’ she cried, ‘farewell to hope,
    Since there is none will rescue me anew,
    Who have kill’d God’s perfection with a doubt.’
    Which said, she took the path that led about,
    And hid the upland pleasance from her view.


8

    But soon it left her, entering ’neath the shade
    Of cedar old and russeted tall pine,
    Whose mighty tops, seen from the thorny glade,
    Belted the hills about; and now no sign
    Had she to guide her, save the slow descent.
    But swiftly o’er the springy floor she went,
    And drew the odorous air like draughts of wine.


9

    Then next she past a forest thick and dark
    With heavy ilexes and platanes high,
    And came to long lush grass; and now coud mark
    By many a token that the plain was nigh.
    When lo! a river: to whose brink at last
    Being come, upon the bank her limbs she cast,
    And through her sad tears watch’d the stream go by.


10

    And now the thought came o’er her that in death
    There was a cure for sorrow, that before
    Her eyes ran Lethe, she might take one breath
    Of water and be freed for evermore.
    Leaning to look into her tomb, thereon
    She saw the horror of her image wan,
    And up she rose at height to leap from shore.


11

      When suddenly a mighty voice, that fell
    With fury on her ears, their sense to scare,
    That bounding from the tree trunks like the yell
    Of hundred brazen trumpets, cried ‘Forbear!
    Forbear, fond maid, that froward step to take,
    For life can cure the ills that love may make;
    But for the harm of death is no repair.’


12

    Then looking up she saw an uncouth form
    Perch’d on the further bank, whose parted lips
    Volley’d their friendly warning in a storm:
    A man he might have been, but for the tips
    Of horns appearing from his shaggy head,
    For o’er his matted beard his face was red,
    And all his shape was manlike to the hips.


13

    In forehead low, keen eye, and nostril flat
    He bore the human grace in mean degree,
    But, set beneath his body squat and fat,
    Legs like a goat’s, and from the hairy knee
    The shank fell spare; and, though crosswise he put
    His limbs in easeful posture, for the foot
    The beast’s divided hoof was plain to see.


14

    Him then she knew the mighty choric God,
    The great hill-haunting and tree-loving Pan;
    Whom Zeus had laught to see when first he trod
    Olympus, neither god nor beast nor man:
    Who every rocky peak and snowy crest
    Of the Aspran mountains for his own possest,
    And all their alps with bacchic rout o’erran:


15

    Whom, when his pipe he plays on loud and sweet,
    And o’er the fitted reeds his moist lip flees,
    Around in measured step with nimble feet
    Water-nymphs dance and Hamadryades:
    And all the woodland’s airy folk, who shun
    Man’s presence, to his frolic pastime run
    From their perennial wells and sacred trees.


16

    Now on his knee his pipe laid by, he spoke
    With flippant tongue, wounding unwittingly
    The heart he sought to cheer with jest and joke.
    ‘And what hast thou to do with misery,’
    He said, ‘who hast such beauty as might gain
    The love of Eros? Cast away thy pain,
    And give thy soul to mirth and jollity.


17

    ‘Thy mortal life is but a brittle vase,
    But as thee list with wine or tears to fill;
    For all the drops therein are Ohs and Ahs
    Of joy or grief according to thy will;
    And wouldst thou learn of me my merry way,
    I’d teach thee change thy lover every day,
    And prize the cup that thou wert fain to spill.


18

    ‘Nay, if thou plunge thou shalt not drown nor sink,
    For I will to thee o’er the stream afloat,
    And bear thee safe; and O I know a drink
    For care, that makes sweet music in the throat.
    Come live with me, my love; I’ll cure thy chance:
    For I can laugh and quaff, and pipe and dance,
    Swim like a fish, and caper like a goat.’


19

    Speaking, his brute divinity explored
    The secret of her silence; and old Pan
    Grew kind and told her of a shallow ford
    Where lower down the stream o’er pebbles ran,
    And one might pass at ease with ankles dry:
    Whither she went, and crossing o’er thereby,
    Her lonely wanderings through the isle began.


20

      But none could tell, no, nor herself had told
    Where food she found, or shelter through the land
    By day or night; until by fate control’d
    She came by steep ways to the southern strand,
    Where, sacred to the Twins and Britomart,
    Pent in its rocky theatre apart,
    A little town stood on the level sand.


21

    ‘Twas where her younger sister’s husband reign’d:
    And Psyche to the palace gate drew near,
    Helplessly still by Eros’ best constrain’d,
    And knocking begg’d to see her sister dear;
    But when in state stepp’d down that haughty queen,
    And saw the wan face spent with tears and teen,
    She smiled, and said ‘Psyche, what dost thou here?’


22

    Then Psyche told how, having well employ’d
    Their means, and done their bidding not amiss,
    Looking on him her hand would have destroy’d,
    ’Twas Eros; whom in love leaning to kiss,
    Even as she kisst, a drop of burning oil
    Fall’n from the lamp had served her scheme to foil,
    Discovering her in vision of her bliss;


23

    Wherewith the god stung, like a startled bird
    Arose in air, and she fell back in swoon;
    ‘But ere he parted,’ said she, ‘he confer’d
    On thee the irrecoverable boon
    By prying lost to me: _Go tell_, he said,
    _Thy sister that I love her in thy stead,
    And bid her by her love haste hither soon_.’


24

    Which when that heart of malice heard, it took
    The jealous fancy of her silly lust:
    And pitilessly with triumphant look
    She drank the flattery, and gave full trust;
    And leaving Psyche ere she more could tell,
    Ran off to bid her spouse for aye farewell,
    And in his ear this ready lie she thrust:


25

    ‘My dearest sister Psyche, she whose fate
    We mourn’d, hath reappear’d alive and hale,
    But brings sad news; my father dies: full late
    These tidings come, but love may yet avail;
    Let me be gone.’ And stealing blind consent,
    Forth on that well-remember’d road she went,
    And climb’d upon the peak above the dale.


26

    There on the topmost rock, where Psyche first
    Had by her weeping sire been left to die,
    She stood a moment, in her hope accurst
    Being happy; and the cliffs took up her cry
    With chuckling mockery from her tongue above,
    _Zephyr, sweet Zephyr, waft me to my love_!
    When off she lept upon his wings to fly.


27

    But as a dead stone, from a height let fall,
    Silent and straight is gather’d by the force
    Of earth’s vast mass upon its weight so small,
    In speed increasing as it nears its source
    Of motion--by which law all things so’er
    Are clutch’d and dragg’d and held--so fell she there,
    Like a dead stone, down in her headlong course.


28

    The disregardful silence heard her strike
    Upon the solid crags; her dismal shriek
    Rang on the rocks and died out laughter-like
    Along the vale in hurried trebles weak;
    And soon upon her, from their skiey haunt
    Fell to their feast the great birds bald and gaunt,
    And gorged on her fair flesh with bloody beak.


29

      But Psyche, when her sister was gone forth,
    Went out again her wandering way to take:
    And following a stream that led her north,
    After some days she pass’d the Corian Lake,
    Whereby Athena’s temple stands, and he
    Who traverses the isle from sea to sea
    May by the plain his shortest journey make:


30

    Till on the northern coast arrived she came
    Upon a city built about a port,
    The which she knew, soon as she heard the name,
    Was where her elder sister had her court;
    To whom, as Eros had commanded her,
    She now in turn became the messenger
    Of vengeful punishment, that fell not short:


31

    For she too hearing gan her heart exalt,
    Nor pity felt for Psyche’s tears and moans,
    But, fellow’d with that other in her fault,
    Follow’d her to her fate upon the stones;
    And from the peak leaping like her below
    The self-same way unto the self-same woe,
    Lay dasht to death upon her sister’s bones.



                             EROS & PSYCHE


                             THIRD QUARTER

                                AUTUMN


                          PSYCHE’S WANDERINGS



                               SEPTEMBER


1

    On the Hellenic board of Crete’s fair isle,
      Westward of Drepanon, along a reach
    Which massy Cyamum for many a mile
    Jutting to sea delivers from the breach
    Of North and East,--returning to embay
    The favour’d shore--an ancient city lay,
    Aptera, which is _Wingless_ in our speech.


2

    And hence the name; that here in rocky cove,
    Thence called Museion, was the trial waged
    What day the Sirens with the Muses strove,
    By jealous Hera in that war engaged:
    Wherein the daughters of Mnemosynè
    O’ercame the chauntresses who vex’d the sea,
    Nor vengeance spared them by their pride enraged.


3

    For those strange creatures, who with women’s words
    And wiles made ravenous prey of passers-by,
    Were throated with the liquid pipe of birds:
    Of love they sang; and none, who sail’d anigh
    Through the grey hazes of the cyanine sea,
    Had wit the whirlpool of that song to flee,
    Nor fear’d the talon hook’d and feather’d thigh.


4

    But them the singers of the gods o’ercame,
    And pluck’d them of their plumage, where in fright
    They vainly flutter’d off to hide their shame,
    Upon two rocks that lie within the bight,
    Under the headland, barren and alone;
    Which, being with the scatter’d feathers strewn,
    Were, by the folk named Leukæ, which is _White_.


5

      Thereon about this time the snowy gull,
    Minion of Aphrodite, being come,
    Plumed himself, standing on the sea-wrack dull,
    That drifted from the foot of Cyamum;
    And ’twas his thought, that had the goddess learnt
    The tale of Psyche loved and Eros burnt,
    She ne’er so long had kept aloof and dumb.


6

    Wherefore that duteous gossip of Love’s queen
    Devised that he the messenger would be;
    And rising from the rock, he skim’d between
    The chasing waves--such grace have none but he;—
    Into the middle deep then down he dived,
    And rowing with his glistening wings arrived
    At Aphrodite’s bower beneath the sea.


7

    The eddies from his silver pinions swirl’d
    The crimson, green, and yellow floss, that grew
    About the caves, and at his passing curl’d
    Its graceful silk, and gently waved anew:
    Till, oaring here and there, the queen he found
    Stray’d from her haunt unto a sandy ground,
    Dappl’d with eye-rings in the sunlight blue.


8

      She, as he came upon her from above,
    With Hora play’d; Hora, her herald fair,
    That lays the soft necessity of Love
    On maidens’ eyelids, and with tender care
    Marketh the hour, as in all works is fit:
    And happy they in love who time outwit,
    Fondly constrainèd in her season rare.


9

    But he with garrulous and laughing tongue
    Broke up his news; how Eros, fallen sick,
    Lay tossing on his bed, to frenzy stung
    By such a burn as did but barely prick:
    A little bleb, no bigger than a pease,
    Upon his shoulder ’twas, that kill’d his ease,
    Fever’d his heart, and made his breathing thick.


10

    ‘For which disaster hath he not been seen
    This many a day at all in any place:
    And thou, dear mistress,’ piped he, ‘hast not been
    Thyself amongst us now a dreary space:
    The pining mortals suffer from a dearth
    Of love; and for this sadness of the earth
    Thy family is darken’d with disgrace.


11

    ‘Now on the secret paths of dale and wood,
    Where lovers walk’d are lovers none to find:
    And friends, besworn to equal brotherhood,
    Forget their faith, and part with words unkind:
    In the first moon thy honey bond is loath’d:
    And I could tell even of the new-betroth’d
    That fly o’ersea, and leave their loves behind.


12

    ‘Summer is over, but the merry pipe,
    That wont to cheer the harvesting, is mute:
    And in the vineyards, where the grape is ripe,
    No voice is heard of them that take the fruit.
    No workman singeth at eve nor maiden danceth:
    All joy is dead, and as the year advanceth
    The signs of woe increase on man and brute.


13

    ‘’Tis plain that if thy pleasure longer pause,
    Thy mighty rule on earth hath seen its day:
    The race must come to perish, and no cause
    But that thou sittest with thy nymphs at play,
    While on a Cretan hill thy truant boy
    Hath with his pretty mistress turn’d to toy,
    And less for pain than love pineth away.’


14

    ‘Ha! Mistress!’ cried she; ‘Hath my beardless son
    Been hunting for himself his lovely game?
    Some young Orestiad hath his fancy won?
    Some Naiad? say; or is a Grace his flame?
    Or maybe Muse, and then ’tis Erato,
    The trifling wanton. Tell me, if thou know,
    Woman or goddess is she? and her name.’


15

    Then said the snowy gull, ‘O heavenly queen,
    What is my knowledge, who am but a bird?
    Yet is she only mortal, as I ween,
    And namèd Psyche, if I rightly heard.’—
    But Aphrodite’s look daunted his cheer,
    Ascare he fled away, screaming in fear,
    To see what wrath his simple tale had stirr’d.


16

    He flasht his pens, and sweeping widely round
    Tower’d to air; so swift in all his way,
    That whence he dived he there again was found
    As soon as if he had but dipt for prey:
    And now, or e’er he join’d his wailful flock,
    Once more he stood upon the Sirens’ rock,
    And preen’d his ruffl’d quills for fresh display.


17

      But as ill tidings will their truth assure
    Without more witness than their fatal sense,
    So, since was nothing bitterer to endure,
    The injured goddess guess’d the full offence:
    And doubted only whether first to smite
    Or Psyche for her new presumptuous flight,
    Or Eros for his disobedience.


18

    But full of anger to her son she went,
    And found him in his golden chamber laid;
    And with him sweet Euphrosynè, attent
    Upon his murmur’d wants, aye as he bade
    Shifted the pillows with each fretful whim;
    But scornfully his mother look’d at him,
    And reckless of his pain gan thus upbraid:


19

    ‘O worthy deeds, I say, and true to blood,
    The crown and pledge of promise! thou that wast
    In estimation my perpetual bud,
    Now fruiting thus untimely to my cost;
    Backsliding from commandment, ay, and worse,
    With bliss to favour one I bade thee curse,
    And save the life I left with thee for lost!


20

    ‘Thou too to burn with love, and love of her
    Whom I did hate; and to thy bed to take
    My rival, that my trusted officer
    Might of mine enemy my daughter make!
    Dost thou then think my love for thee so fond,
    And miserably doting, that the bond
    By such dishonour strainèd will not break?


21

    ‘Or that I cannot bear another son
    As good as thou; or, if I choose not bear,
    Not beg as good a lusty boy of one
    Of all my nymphs,--and some have boys to spare,—
    Whom I might train, to whom thine arms made o’er
    Should do me kinder service than before,
    To smite my foes and keep my honour fair?


22

    ‘For thou hast ever mockt me, and beguiled
    In amours strange my God, thy valiant sire:
    And having smirch’d our fame while yet a child
    Wilt further foul it now with earthly fire.
    But I--do as thou may--have vow’d to kill
    Thy fancied girl, whether thou love her still,
    Or of her silly charms already tire.


23

    ‘Tell me but where she hides.’ And Eros now,
    Proud in his woe, boasted his happy theft:
    Confessing he had loved her well, and how
    By her own doing she was lost and left;
    And homeless in such sorrow as outwent
    The utmost pain of other punishment,
    Was wandering of his love and favour reft.


24

    By which was Cypris gladden’d, not appeased,
    But hid her joy and spake no more her threat:
    And left with face like one that much displeased
    Hath yet betray’d that he can wrong forget.
     When lo! as swiftly she came stepping down
    From her fair house into the heavenly town
    The Kronian sisters on the way she met;


25

    Hera, the Wife of Zeus, her placid front
    Dark with the shadow of his troubl’d reign,
    And tall Demeter, who with men once wont,
    Holding the high Olympians in disdain
    For Persephassa’s rape; which now forgiven,
    She had return’d unto the courts of Heaven,
    And ’mong the immortals liv’d at peace again:


26

    Whose smile told Aphrodite that they knew
    The meaning of her visit; and a flush
    Of anger answer’d them, while hot she grew.
    But Hera laugh’d outright: ‘Why thou dost blush!
    Now see we modest manners on my life!
    And all thy little son has got a wife
    Can make the crimson to thy forehead rush.


27

    ‘Didst think he, whom thou madest passion’s prince,
    No privy dart then for himself would poise?
    Nay, by the cuckoo on my sceptre, since
    ’Twas love that made thee mother of his joys,
    Art thou the foremost to his favour bound;
    As thou shouldst be the last to think to sound
    The heart, and least of all thy wanton boy’s.’


28

    But her Demeter, on whose stalwart arm
    She lean’d, took up: ‘If thou wilt hark to me,
    This Psyche,’ said she, ‘hath the heavenly charm,
    And will become immortal. And maybe
    To marry with a woman is as well
    As wed a god and live below in Hell:
    As ’twas my lot in child of mine to see.’


29

    Which things they both said, fearing in their hearts
    That savage Eros, if they mockt his case,
    Would kill their peace with his revengeful darts,
    And bring them haply to a worse disgrace:
    But Aphrodite, saying ‘Good! my dames;
    Behind this smoke I see the spite that flames,’
    Left them, and on her journey went apace.


30

    For having purposed she would hold no truce
    With Psyche or her son, ’twas in her mind
    To go forthwith unto the throne of Zeus,
    And beg that Hermes might be sent to find
    The wanderer; and secure that in such quest
    He would not fail, she ponder’d but how best
    She might inflict her vengeance long-design’d:



                                OCTOBER


1

    Heavy meanwhile at heart, with bruisèd feet
    Was Psyche wandering many nights and days
    Upon the paths of hundred-citied Crete,
    And chose to step the most deserted ways;
    Being least unhappy when she went unseen;
    Since else her secret sorrow had no screen
    From the plain question of men’s idle gaze.


2

    Yet wheresoe’er she went one hope she had;
    Like mortal mourners, who ’gainst reason strong
    Hope to be unexpectedly made glad
    With sight of their dead friends, so much they long;
    So she for him, whom loss a thousandfold
    Endear’d and made desired; nor could she hold
    He would not turn and quite forgive her wrong.


3

    Wherefore her eager eyes in every place
    Lookt for her lover; and ’twixt hope and fear
    She follow’d oft afar some form of grace,
    In pain alike to lose or venture near.
    And still this thought cheer’d her fatigue, that he,
    Or on some hill, or by some brook or tree,
    But waited for her coming to appear.


4

    And then for comfort many an old love-crost
    And doleful ditty would she gently sing,
    Writ by sad poets of a lover lost,
    Now sounding sweeter for her sorrowing:
    _Echo, sweet Echo, watching up on high,
    Say hast thou seen to-day my love go by,
    Or where thou sittest by thy mossy spring?_


5

    _Or say ye nymphs, that from the crystal rills,
    When ye have bathed your limbs from morn till eve,
    Flying at midnight to the bare-topt hills,
    Beneath the stars your mazy dances weave,
    Say, my deserter whom ye well may know
    By his small wings, his quiver, and his bow,
    Say, have ye seen my love, whose loss I grieve?_


6

      Till climb’d one evening on a rocky steep
    Above the plain of Cisamos, that lay,
    Robb’d of its golden harvest, in the deep
    Mountainous shadows of the dying day,
    She saw a temple, whose tall columns fair
    Recall’d her home; and ‘O if thou be there,
    My love,’ she cried, ‘fly not again away.’


7

    Swiftly she ran, and entering by the door
    She stood alone within an empty fane
    Of great Demeter: and, behold, the floor
    Was litter’d with thank-offerings of grain,
    With wheat and barley-sheaves together heapt
    In holy harvest-home of them that reapt
    The goddess’ plenteous gifts upon the plain;


8

    And on the tithe the tackle of the tithe
    Thrown by in such confusion, as are laid
    Upon the swath sickle, and hook, and scythe,
    When midday drives the reapers to the shade.
    And Psyche, since had come no priestess there
    To trim the temple, in her pious care
    Forgat herself, and lent her duteous aid.


9

    She drew the offerings from the midst aside,
    And piled the sheaves at every pillar’s base;
    And sweeping therebetween a passage wide,
    Made clear of corn and chaff the temple space:
    As countrymen who bring their wheat to mart,
    Set out their show along the walls apart
    By their allotted stations, each in place;


10

    Thus she, and felt no weariness,--such strength
    Hath duty to support our feeble frame,—
    Till all was set in order, and at length
    Up to the threshold of the shrine she came:
    When lo! before her face with friendly smile,
    Tall as a pillar of the peristyle,
    The goddess stood reveal’d, and call’d her name.


11

    ‘Unhappy Psyche,’ said she, ‘know’st thou not
    How Aphrodite to thy hurt is sworn?
    And thou, thy peril and her wrath forgot,
    Spendest thy thought my temple to adorn.
    Take better heed!’--And Psyche, at the voice
    Even of so little comfort, gan rejoice,
    And at her feet pour’d out this prayer forlorn.


12

    ‘O Gracious giver of the golden grain,
    Hide me, I pray thee, from her wrath unkind;
    For who can pity as canst thou my pain,
    Who wert thyself a wanderer, vex’d in mind
    For loss of thy dear Corè once, whenas,
    Ravisht to hell by fierce Agesilas,
    Thou soughtest her on earth and coudst not find.


13

    ‘How coud thy feet bear thee to western night,
    And where swart Libyans watch the sacred tree,
    And thrice to ford o’er Achelous bright,
    And all the streams of beauteous Sicily?
    And thrice to Enna cam’st thou, thrice, they tell,
    Satest athirst by Callichorus’ well,
    Nor tookest of the spring to comfort thee.


14

    ‘By that remember’d anguish of thine heart,
    Lady, have pity even on me, and show
    Where I may find my love; and take my part
    For peace, I pray, against my cruel foe:
    Or if thou canst not from her anger shield,
    Here let me lie among the sheaves conceal’d
    Such time till forth I may in safety go.’


15

    Demeter answer’d, ‘Nay, though thou constrain
    My favour with thy plea, my help must still
    Be hidden, else I work for thee in vain
    To thwart my mighty sister in her will.
    Thou must fly hence: Yet though I not oppose,
    Less will I aid her; and if now I close
    My temple doors to thee, take it not ill.’


16

      Then Psyche’s hope founder’d; as when a ship,
    The morrow of the gale can hardly ride
    The swollen seas, fetching a deeper dip
    At every wave, and through her gaping side
    And o’er her shattered bulwark ever drinks,
    Till plunging in the watery wild she sinks,
    To scoop her grave beneath the crushing tide:


17

    So with each word her broken spirit drank
    Its doom; and overwhelm’d with deep despair
    She turn’d away, and coming forth she sank
    Silently weeping on the temple stair,
    In midmost night, forspent with long turmoil:
    But sleep, the gracious pursuivant of toil,
    Came swiftly down, and nursed away her care.


18

    And when the sun awaked her with his beams
    She found new hope, that still her sorrow’s cure
    Lay with the gods, who in her morning dreams
    Had sent her comfort in a vision sure;
    Wherein the Cretan-born, almightiest god,
    Cloud-gathering Zeus himself had seem’d to nod,
    And bid her with good heart her woes endure.


19

      So coming that same day unto a shrine
    Of Hera, she took courage and went in:
    And like to one that to the cell divine
    For favour ventures or a suit to win,
    She drew anigh the altar, from her face
    Wiping the tears, ere to the heavenly grace,
    As thus she pray’d, she would her prayer begin.


20

    ‘Most honour’d Lady, who from ancient doom
    Wert made heaven’s wife, and art on earth besought
    With gracious happiness of all to whom
    Thy holy wedlock hath my burden brought,
    Save me from Aphrodite’s fell pursuit,
    And guard unto the birth Love’s hapless fruit,
    Which she for cruel spite would bring to nought.


21

    ‘As once from her thou wert not shamed to take
    Her beauty’s zone, thy beauty to enhance;
    For which again Zeus loved thee, to forsake
    His warlike ire in faithful dalliance;
    Show me what means may win my Love to me,
    Or how that I may come, if so may be,
    Within the favour of his countenance.


22

    ‘If there be any place for tears or prayer,
    If there be need for succour in distress,
    Now is the very hour of all despair,
    Here is the heart of grief and bitterness.
    Motherly pity, bend thy face and grant
    One beam of ruth to thy poor suppliant,
    Nor turn me from thine altar comfortless.’


23

    Even as she pray’d a cloud spread through the cell,
    And ’mid the wreathings of the vapour dim
    The goddess grew in glory visible,
    Like some barbaric queen in festal trim;
    Such the attire and ornaments she wore,
    When o’er the forgèd threshold of the floor
    Of Zeus’s house she stept to visit him.


24

    From either ear, ring’d to its piercèd lobe
    A triple jewel hung, with gold enchas’t;
    And o’er her breasts her wide ambrosial robe
    With many a shining golden clasp was brac’t;
    The flowering on its smooth embroider’d lawn
    Gather’d to colour where the zone was drawn
    In fringe of golden tassels at her waist.


15

    Her curling hair with plaited braid and brail,
    Pendant or loop’d about her head divine,
    Lay hidden half beneath a golden veil,
    Bright as the rippling ocean in sunshine:
    And on the ground, flashing whene’er she stept,
    Beneath her feet the dazzling lightnings lept
    From the gold network of her sandals fine.


26

    Thus Hera stood in royal guise bedeckt
    Before poor Psyche on the stair that knelt,
    Whose new-nursed hope at that display was checkt,
    And all her happier thoughts gan fade and melt.
    She saw no kindness in such haughty mien,
    And venturing not to look upon the queen,
    Bow’d down in woe to hear her sentence dealt.


27

    And thus the goddess spake, ‘In vain thou suest,
    Most miserable Psyche; though my heart
    Be full of hate for her whose hate thou ruest,
    And pride and pity move me to thy part:
    Yet not till Zeus make known his will, coud I,
    Least of the blameless gods that dwell on high,
    Assist thee, wert thou worthier than thou art.


28

    ‘But know if Eros love thee, that thy hopes
    Should rest on him; and I would bid thee go
    Where in his mother’s house apart he mopes
    Grieving for loss of thee in secret woe:
    For should he take thee back, there is no power
    In earth or heaven will hurt thee from that hour,
    Nay, not if Zeus himself should prove thy foe.’


29

      Thus saying she was gone, and Psyche now
    Surprised by comfort rose and went her way,
    Resolved in heart, and only wondering how
    ’Twas possible to come where Eros lay;
    Since that her feet, however she might roam.
    Could never travel to the heavenly home
    Of Love, beyond the bounds of mortal day:


30

    Yet must she come to him. And now ’twas proved
    How that to Lovers, as is told in song,
    Seeking the way no place is far removed;
    Nor is there any obstacle so strong,
    Nor bar so fix’d that it can hinder them:
    And how to reach heaven’s gate by stratagem
    Vex’d not the venturous heart of Psyche long.


31

    To face her enemy might well avail:
    Wherefore to Cypris’ shrine her steps she bent,
    Hoping the goddess in her hate might hale
    Her body to the skies for punishment,
    Whate’er to be; yet now her fiercest wrath
    Seem’d happiest fortune, seeing ’twas the path
    Whereby alone unto her love she went.



                               NOVEMBER


1

    But Aphrodite to the house of Zeus
    Being bound, bade beckon out her milkwhite steeds,
    Four doves, that ready to her royal use
    In golden cages stood and peck’d the seeds:
    Best of the nimble air’s high-sailing folk
    That wore with pride the marking of her yoke,
    And cooed in envy of her gentle needs.


2

    These drew in turn her chariot, when in state
    Along the heaven with all her train she fared;
    And oft in journeying to the skiey gate
    Of Zeus’s palace high their flight had dared,
    Which darkest vapour and thick glooms enshroud
    Above all else in the perpetual cloud,
    Wherethro’ to mount again they stood prepared,


3

    Sleeking their feathers, by her shining car;
     The same Hephæstos wrought for her, when he,
    Bruised in his hideous fall from heaven afar,
    Was nursed by Thetis, and Eurynomè,
    The daughter of the ever-refluent main;
    With whom he dwelt till he grew sound again,
    Down in a hollow cave beside the sea:


4

    And them for kindness done was prompt to serve,
    Forging them brooches rich in make and mode,
    Earrings, and supple chains of jointed curve,
    And other trinkets, while he there abode:
    And none of gods or men knew of his home,
    But they two only; and the salt sea-foam
    To and fro past his cavern ever flow’d.


5

    ’Twas then he wrought this work within the cave,
    Emboss’d with rich design, a moonèd car;
    And when return’d to heaven to Venus gave,
    In form imagined like her crescent star;
    Which circling nearest earth, maketh at night
    To wakeful mortal men shadow and light
    Alone of all the stars in heaven that are.


6

    Two slender wheels it had, with fretted tires
    Of biting adamant, to take firm hold
    Of cloud or ether; and their whirling fires
    Threw off the air in halo where they roll’d:
    And either nave that round the axle turn’d
    A ruby was, whose steady crimson burn’d
    Betwixt the twin speed-mingling fans of gold.


7

      Thereon the naked goddess mounting, shook
    The reins; whereat the doves their wings outspread.
    And rising high their flight to heaven they took:
    And all the birds, that in those courts were bred,
    Of her broad eaves the nested families,
    Sparrows and swallows, join’d their companies
    Awhile and twitter’d to her overhead.


8

    But onward she with fading tracks of flame
    Sped swiftly, till she reacht her journey’s end:
    And when within the house of Zeus she came,
    She pray’d the Sire of Heaven that he would lend
    Hermes, the Argus-slayer, for her hest;
    And he being granted her at her request,
    She went forthwith to seek him and to send.


9

      Who happ’d within the palace then to wait
    Upon the almighty pleasure; and her tale
    Was quickly told, and he made answer straight
    That he would find the truant without fail;
    Asking the goddess by what signs her slave
    Might best be known, and what the price she gave
    For capture, or admitted for the bail.


10

    All which he took his silver stile to write
    In letters large upon a waxèd board;
    Her age and name, her colour, face and height,
    Her home, and parentage, and the reward:
    And then read o’er as ’twas to be proclaim’d.
    And she took oath to give the price she named,
    Without demur, when Psyche was restored.


11

    Then on his head he closely set his cap
    With earèd wings erect, and o’er his knee
    He cross’d each foot in turn to prove the strap
    That bound his wingèd sandals, and shook free
    His chlamys, and gat up, and in his hand
    Taking his fair white-ribbon’d herald’s wand,
    Lept forth on air, accoutred cap-a-pè.


12

    And piloting along the mid-day sky,
    Held southward, till the narrow map of Crete
    Lay like a fleck in azure ’neath his eye;
    When down he came, and as an eagle fleet
    Drops in some combe, then checks his headlong stoop
    With wide-flung wing, wheeling in level swoop
    To strike the bleating quarry with his feet,


13

    Thus he alighted; and in every town
    In all the isle before the close of day
    Had cried the message, which he carried down,
    Of Psyche, Aphrodite’s runaway;
    That whosoever found the same and caught,
    And by such time unto her temple brought,
    To him the goddess would this guerdon pay:


14

    SIX HONIED KISSES FROM HER ROSY MOUTH
    WOULD CYTHEREA GIVE, AND ONE BESIDE
    TO QUENCH AT HEART FOR AYE LOVE’S MORTAL DROUTH:
    BUT UNTO HIM THAT HID HER, WOE BETIDE!
    Which now was on all tongues, and Psyche’s name
    Herself o’erheard, or ever nigh she came
    To Aphrodite’s temple where she hied.


15

    When since she found her way to heaven was safe,
    She only wisht to make it soon and sure;
    Nor fear’d to meet the goddess in her chafe,
    So she her self-surrender might secure,
    And not be given of other for the price;
    Nor was there need of any artifice
    Her once resplendent beauty to obscure.


16

    For now so changed she was by heavy woe,
    That for the little likeness that she bore
    To her description she was fear’d to go
    Within the fane; and when she stood before
    The priestess, scarce coud she with oath persuade
    That she was Psyche, the renownèd maid,
    Whom men had left the temple to adore.


17

    But when to Hermes she was shown and given,
    He took no doubt, but eager to be quit,
    And proud of speed, return’d with her to heaven,
    And left her with the proclamation writ,
    Hung at her neck, the board with letters large,
    At Aphrodite’s gate with those in charge;
    And up whence first he came made haste to flit.


18

      But hapless Psyche fell, for so it chanced,
    To moody SYNETHEA’S care, the one
    Of Aphrodite’s train whom she advanced
    To try the work abandon’d by her son.
    Who by perpetual presence made ill end
    Of good or bad; though she coud both amend,
    And merit praise for work by her begun.


19

    But she to better thought her heart had shut,
    And proved she had a spite beyond compare:
    Nor coud the keenest taunts her anger glut,
    Which she when sour’d was never wont to spare:
    And now she mock’d at Psyche’s shame and grief,
    As only she might do, and to her chief
    Along the courtyard dragg’d her by the hair.


20

      Nor now was Aphrodite kinder grown:
    Having her hated rival in her power,
    She laught for joy, and in triumphant tone
    Bade her a merry welcome to her bower:
    ‘’Tis fit indeed daughters-in-law should wait
    Upon their mothers; but thou comest late,
    Psyche; I lookt for thee before this hour.


21

    ‘And yet,’ thus gave she rein to jeer and gibe,
    ‘Forgive me if I held thee negligent,
    Or if accustom’d vanity ascribe
    An honour to myself that was not meant.
    Thy lover is it, who so dearly prized
    The pretty soul, then left her and despised?
    To him more like thy heavenward steps were bent:


22

    ‘Nor without reason: Zeus, I tell thee, swoon’d
    To hear the story of the drop of oil,
    The revelation and the ghastly wound:
    My merriment is but my fear’s recoil.
    But if my son was unkind, thou shalt see
    How kind a goddess can his mother be
    To bring thy tainted honour clear of soil.’


23

      And so, to match her promise with her mirth,
    Two of her ministers she call’d in ken,
    That work the melancholy of the earth;
    MERIMNA that with care perplexes, when
    The hearts of mortals have the gods forgot,
    And LYPÈ, that her sorrow spares them not,
    When mortals have forgot their fellow men.


24

    These, like twin sharks that in a fair ship’s wake
    Swim constant, showing ’bove the water blue
    Their shearing fins, and hasty ravin make
    Of overthrow or offal, so these two
    On Aphrodite’s passing follow hard;
    And now she offer’d to their glut’s regard
    Sweet Psyche, with command their wont to do.


25

    But in what secret chamber their foul task
    These soul-tormentors plied, or what their skill,
    Pity of tender nature may not ask,
    Nor poet stain his rhyme with such an ill.
    But they at last themselves turn’d from their rack,
    Weary of cruelty, and led her back,
    Saying that further torture were to kill.


26

      Then when the goddess saw her, more she mockt,
    ‘Art thou the woman of the earth,’ she said,
    ‘That hast in sorceries mine Eros lockt,
    And stood thyself for worship in my stead?
    Looking that I should pity thee, or care
    For what illicit offspring thou mayst bear;
    Or let thee to that god my son be wed?


27

    ‘I know thy trick; and thou art one of them
    Who steal love’s favour in the gentle way,
    Wearing submission for a diadem,
    Patience and suffering for thy rich array:
    Thou wilt be modest, kind, implicit, so
    To rest thy wily spirit out of show
    That it may leap the livelier into play:


28

    ‘Devout at doing nothing, if so be
    The grace become thee well; but active yet
    Above all others be there none to see
    Thy business, and thine eager face asweat.
    Lo! I will prove thy talent: thou mayst live,
    And all that thou desirest will I give,
    If thou perform the task which I shall set.’


29

    She took her then aside, and bade her heed
    A heap of grains piled high upon the floor,
    Millet and mustard, hemp and poppy seed,
    And fern-bloom’s undistinguishable spore,
    All kinds of pulse, of grasses, and of spice,
    Clover and linseed, rape, and corn, and rice,
    Dodder, and sesame, and many more.


30

    ‘Sort me these seeds’ she said; ‘it now is night,
    I will return at morning; if I find
    That thou hast separated all aright,
    Each grain from other grain after its kind,
    And set them in unmingl’d heaps apart,
    Then shall thy wish be granted to thine heart.’
    Whereat she turn’d, and closed the door behind.



                             EROS & PSYCHE


                            FOURTH QUARTER
                                WINTER


                     PSYCHE’S TRIALS AND RECEPTION
                              INTO HEAVEN



                               DECEMBER

1

    A single lamp there stood beside the heap,
    And shed thereon its mocking golden light;
    Such as might tempt the weary eye to sleep
    Rather than prick the nerve of taskèd sight.
    Yet Psyche, not to fail for lack of zeal,
    With good will sat her down to her ordeal,
    Sorting the larger seeds as best she might.


2

    When lo! upon the wall, a shadow past
    Of doubtful shape, across the chamber dim
    Moving with speed: and seeing nought that cast
    The shade, she bent her down the flame to trim;
    And there the beast itself, a little ant,
    Climb’d up in compass of the lustre scant,
    Upon the bowl of oil ran round the rim.


3

    Smiling to see the creature of her fear
    So dwarf’d by truth, she watcht him where he crept,
    For mere distraction telling in his ear
    What straits she then was in, and telling wept.
    Whereat he stood and trim’d his horns; but ere
    Her tale was done resumed his manner scare,
    Ran down, and on his way in darkness kept.


4

    But she intent drew forth with dextrous hand
    The larger seeds, or push’d the smaller back,
    Or light from heavy with her breathing fan’d.
    When suddenly she saw the floor grow black,
    And troops of ants, flowing in noiseless train,
    Moved to the hill of seeds, as o’er a plain
    Armies approach a city for attack;


5

    And gathering on the grain, began to strive
    With grappling horns: and each from out the heap
    His burden drew, and all their motion live
    Struggled and slid upon the surface steep.
    And Psyche wonder’d, watching them, to find
    The creatures separated kind from kind:
    Till dizzied with the sight she fell asleep.


6

    And when she woke ’twas with the morning sound
    Of Aphrodite’s anger at the door,
    Whom high amaze stay’d backward, as she found
    Her foe asleep with all her trouble o’er:
    And round the room beheld, in order due,
    The piles arranged distinct and sorted true,
    Grain with grain, seed with seed, and spore with spore.


7

    She fiercely cried ‘Thou shalt not thus escape;
    For to this marvel dar’st thou not pretend.
    There is but one that coud this order shape,
    Demeter,--but I knew her not thy friend.
    Therefore another trial will I set,
    In which she cannot aid thee nor abet,
    But thou thyself must bring it fair to end.’


8

      Thereon she sped her to the bounds of Thrace,
    And set her by a river deep and wide,
    And said ‘To east beyond this stream, a race
    Of golden-fleecèd sheep at pasture bide.
    Go seek them out; and this thy task, to pull
    But one lock for me of their precious wool,
    And give it in my hands at eventide:


9

    ‘This do and thou shalt have thy heart’s desire.’
    Which said, she fled and left her by the stream:
    And Psyche then, with courage still entire
    Had plunged therein; but now of great esteem
    Her life she rated, while it lent a spell
    Wherein she yet might hope to quit her well,
    And in one winning all her woes redeem.


10

    There as she stood in doubt, a fluting voice
    Rose from the flood, ‘Psyche, be not afraid
    To hear a reed give tongue, for ’twas of choice
    That I from mortal flesh a plant was made.
    My name is Syrinx; once from mighty Pan
    Into the drowning river as I ran,
    A fearful prayer my steps for ever stay’d.


11

    ‘But by that change in many climes I live;
    And Pan, my lover, who to me alone
    Is true and does me honour, I forgive--
    Nor if I speak in sorrow is’t my own:
    Rather for thee my voice I now uplift
    To warn thee plunge not in the river swift,
    Nor seek the golden sheep to men unknown.


12

    ‘If thou should cross the stream, which may not be
    Thou coudst not climb upon the hanging rocks,
    Nor ever, as the goddess bade thee, see
    The pasture of the yellow-fleecèd flocks:
    Or if thou coud, their herded horns would gore
    And slay thee on the crags, or thrust thee o’er
    Ere thou coudst rob them of their golden locks.


13

    ‘The goddess means thy death. But I can show
    How thy obedience yet may thwart her will.
    At noon the golden flocks descend below,
    Leaving the scented herbage of the hill,
    And where the shelving banks to shallows fall,
    Drink at the rippling water one and all,
    Nor back return till they have drawn their fill.


14

    ‘I will command a thornbush, that it stoop
    Over some ram that steppeth by in peace,
    And him in all its prickles firmly coop,
    Making thee seizure of his golden fleece;
    So without peril of his angry horns
    Shalt thou be quit: for he upon the thorns
    Must leave his ransom ere he win release.’


15

    Then Psyche thankt her for her kind befriending,
    And hid among the rushes looking east;
    And when noon came she saw the flock descending
    Out of the hills; and lo! one golden beast
    Caught in a thornbush; and the mighty brute
    Struggl’d and tore it from its twisted root
    Into the stream, or e’er he was releas’t.


16

    And when they water’d were and gone, the breeze
    Floated the freighted thorn where Psyche lay:
    Whence she unhook’d the golden wool at ease,
    And back to heaven for passage swift gan pray.
    And Hermes, who was sent to be her guide
    Ifso she lived, came down at eventide,
    And bore her thither ere the close of day.


17

    But when the goddess saw the locks of gold
    Held to her hands, her heart with wrath o’erran:
    ‘Most desperate thou, and by abetting bold,
    That dost outwit me, prove thee as I can.
    Yet this work is not thine: there is but one
    Of all the gods who coud the thing have done.
    Hast thou a friend too in the lusty Pan?


18

    ‘I’ll give thee trial where he cannot aid.’
      Which said, she led her to a torrid land,
    Level and black, but not with flood or shade,
    For nothing coud the mighty heat withstand,
    Which aye from morn till eve the naked sun
    Pour’d on that plain, where never foot had run,
    Nor any herb sprung on its molten sand.


19

    Far off a gloomy mountain rose alone:
    And Aphrodite, thither pointing, said
    ‘There lies thy task. Out of the topmost stone
    Of yonder hill upwells a fountain head.
    Take thou this goblet; brimming must thou bring
    Its cup with water from that sacred spring,
    If ever to my son thou wouldst be wed.’


20

    Saying, she gave into her hands a bowl
    Cut of one crystal, open, broad and fair;
    And bade her at all hazard keep it whole,
    For heaven held nought beside so fine or rare.
    Then was she gone; and Psyche on the plain
    Now doubted if she ever should regain
    The love of Eros, strove she howsoe’er.


21

    Yet as a helmsman, at the word to tack,
    Swiftly without a thought puts down his helm,
    So Psyche turn’d to tread that desert black,
    Since was no fear that coud her heart o’erwhelm;
    Nor knew she that she went the fount to seek
    Of cold Cocytus, springing to the peak,
    Secretly from his source in Pluto’s realm.


22

    All night and day she journey’d, and at last
    Come to the rock gazed up in vain around:
    Nothing she saw but precipices vast
    O’er ruined scarps, with rugged ridges crown’d:
    And creeping to a cleft to rest in shade,
    Or e’er the desperate venture she assay’d,
    She fell asleep upon the stony ground.


23

    A dream came to her, thus: she stood alone
    Within her palace in the high ravine;
    Where nought but she was changed, but she to stone.
    Worshippers throng’d the court, and still were seen
    Folk flying from the peak, who, ever more
    Flying and flying, lighted on the floor,
    _Hail!_ cried they, _wife of Eros, adorèd queen!_


24

    A hurtling of the battl’d air disturb’d
    Her sunken sense, and waked her eyes to meet
    The kingly bird of Zeus, himself that curb’d
    His swooping course, alighting at her feet;
    With motion gentle, his far-darting eye
    In kindness dim’d upon her, he drew nigh,
    And thus in words unveil’d her foe’s deceit:


25


    ‘In vain, poor Psyche, hast thou hither striven
    Across the fiery plain toiling so well;
    Cruelly to destruction art thou driven
    By her, whose hate thou canst not quit nor quell.
    No mortal foot may scale this horrid mount,
    And those black waters of its topmost fount
    Are guarded by the hornèd snakes of hell.


26

    ‘Its little rill is an upleaping jet
    Of cold Cocytus, which for ever licks
    Earth’s base, and when with Acheron ’tis met,
    Its waters with that other cannot mix,
    Which holds the elemental air dissolved;
    But with it in its ceaseless course revolved
    Issues unmingl’d in the lake of Styx.


27

    ‘The souls of murderers, in guise of fish,
    Scream as they swim therein and wail for cold,
    Their times of woe determined by the wish
    Of them they murder’d on the earth of old:
    Whom each five years they see, whene’er they make
    Their passage to the Acherusian lake,
    And there release may win from pains condoled.


28

    ‘For if the pitying ear of them they slew
    Be haply piercèd by their voices spare,
    Then are they freed from pain; as are some few;
    But, for the most, again they forward fare
    To Tartarus obscene, and outcast thence
    Are hurried back into the cold intense,
    And with new company their torments share.


29

    ‘Its biting lymph may not be touch’d of man
    Or god, unless the Fates have so ordain’d;
    Nor coud I in thy favour break the ban,
    Nor pass the dragons that thereby are chain’d,
    Didst thou not bear the sacred cup of Zeus;
    Which, for thy peril lent, shall turn to use,
    And truly do the service which it feign’d.’


30

    Thus as he spake, his talons made he ring
    Around the crystal bowl, and soaring high
    Descended as from heaven upon the spring:
    Nor dared the hornèd snakes of hell deny
    The minister of Zeus, that bore his cup,
    To fill it with their trusted water up,
    Thence to the King of heaven therewith to fly.


31

    But he to Psyche bent his gracious speed,
    And bidding her to mount his feather’d back
    Bore her aloft as once young Ganymede;
    Nor ever made his steady flight to slack,
    Ere that he set her down beside her goal,
    And gave into her hands the crystal bowl
    Unspill’d, o’erbrimming with the water black.



                                JANUARY


1

    But Eros now recover’d from his hurt,
    Felt other pangs; for who would not relent
    Weighing the small crime and unmatch’d desert
    Of Psyche with her cruel punishment?
    And shamed he grew to be so near allied
    To her, who by her taunts awoke his pride,
    As his compassion by her spite unspent.


2

    Which Aphrodite seeing, wax’d more firm
    That he should never meet with Psyche more;
    And had in thought already set the term
    To their communion with that trial sore,
    Which sent her forth upon a quest accurst,
    And not to be accomplisht, that of thirst
    She there might perish on hell’s torrid shore.


3

      And now it chanced that she had called her son
    Into her presence-chamber, to unfold
    Psyche’s destruction, that her fate might stun
    What love remained by duty uncontrol’d;
    And he to hide his tears’ rebellious storm
    Was fled; when in his place another form
    Rose ’neath the golden lintel; and behold


4

    Psyche herself, in slow and balanced strain,
    Poising the crystal bowl with fearful heed,
    Her eyes at watch upon the steadied plane,
    And whole soul gather’d in the single deed.
    Onward she came, and stooping to the floor
    Set down the cup unspill’d and brimming o’er
    At Aphrodite’s feet, and rose up freed.


5

      Surprise o’ercame the goddess, and she too
    Stood like a statue, but with passion pale:
    Till, when her victim nothing spake, she threw
    Some kindness in her voice, and bade her hail;
    But in the smiling judge ’twas plain to see--
    Saying ‘What water bringst thou here to me?’—
    That justice over hate should not prevail.


6

    Then Psyche said ‘This is the biting flood
    Of black Cocytus, silver’d with the gleam
    Of souls, that guilty of another’s blood
    Are pent therein, and as they swim they scream.
    The hornèd snakes of hell, upon the mount
    Enchain’d, for ever guard the livid fount:
    And but the Fates can grant to touch the stream.’


7

    ‘Wherefore,’ the goddess cried, ‘’tis plain that none
    But one I wot of coud this thing have wrought.
    That which another doth may well be done,
    Nor thou the nearer to my promise brought.
    Thou buildest on a hope to be destroy’d,
    If thou accept conditions, and avoid
    Thy parcel, nor thyself accomplish aught.


8

    ‘Was it not kindness in me, being averse
    To all thy wish, to yield me thus to grant
    Thy heart’s desire,--and nothing loathe I worse,—
    If thou wouldst only work as well as want?
    See, now I will not yet be all denial,
    But offer thee one last determining trial;
    And let it be a mutual covenant:


9

      ‘This box,’ and in her hands she took a pyx
    Square-cut, of dark obsidian’s rarest green,
    ‘Take; and therewith beyond Tartarean Styx
    Go thou, and entering Hades’ house obscene,
    Say to Persephonè, _If ’tis thy will
    To shew me so much favour, prithee fill
    This little vase with beauty for Love’s queen_.


10

    ‘_She begs but what shall well o’erlast a day;
    For of her own was much of late outspent
    In nursing of her son, in bed who lay
    Wounded by me, who for the gift am sent._
    Then bring me what she gives, and with all speed;
    For truth to say I stand, thou seest, in need
    Of some such charm in my disparagement.


11

    ‘If thou return to me with that acquist,
    Having thyself the journey made, I swear
    That day to give thee whatsoe’er thou list,
    An be it my son. Now, Psyche, wilt thou dare?’
    And Psyche said ‘If this thou truly mean,
    I will go down to Tartarus obscene,
    And beg of Hades’ queen thy beauty there.


12

    ‘Show me the way.’ But Aphrodite said,
    ‘That mayst thou find. Yet I will place thee whence
    A way there is: mortals have on it sped;
    Ay, and return’d thereby: so let us hence.’
    Then swift to earth her willing prey she bore,
    And left her on the wide Laconian shore,
    Alone, at midnight, in the darkness dense.


13

      ’Twas winter; and as shivering Psyche sat
    Waiting for morn, she question’d in her mind
    What place the goddess meant, arrived whereat
    She might descend to hell, or how should find
    The way which Gods to living men deny.
    ‘No Orpheus, nay, nor Hercules am I,’
    Said she,‘to loosen where the great Gods bind.’


14

    And when at length the long-delaying dawn
    Broke on the peaks of huge Taÿgetus,
    And Psyche through the skirts of dark withdrawn
    Look’d on that promontory mountainous,
    And saw high-crested Taleton in snow,
    Her heart sank, and she wept with head bent low
    The malice of her foe dispiteous.


15

    And seeing near at hand an ancient tower,
    Deserted now, but once a hold of men,
    She came thereto, and, though ’twas all her power,
    Mounted its steep unbroken stair again.
    ‘Surely,’ she said, for now a second time
    She thought to die--‘this little height I climb
    Will prove my shortest road to Pluto’s den.


16

    ‘Hence must I come to Tartarus; once there
    Turn as I may,’ and straight to death had sprung;
    When in the mossy tower the imprison’d air
    Was shaken, and the hoary stones gave tongue,
    ‘Stand firm! stand firm!’ that rugged voice outcried;
    ‘Of such as choose despondency for guide
    Hast thou not heard what bitterest fate is sung?


17

    ‘Hearken; for I the road and means can teach
    How thou mayst come to hell and yet escape.
    And first must thou, that upper gate to reach,
    Along these seagirt hills thy journey shape,
    To where the land in sea dips furthest South
    At Tænarus and Hades’ earthly mouth,
    Hard by Poseidon’s temple at the cape.


18

    ‘Thereby may one descend: but they that make
    That passage down must go provided well.
    So take in either hand a honey-cake
    Of pearlèd barley mix’d with hydromel;
    And in thy mouth two doits, first having bound
    The pyx beneath thy robe enwrap’d around:
    Thus set thou forth; and mark what more I tell.


19

    ‘When thou hast gone alone some half thy road
    Thou wilt o’ertake a lame outwearied ass;
    And one that beats him, tottering ’neath his load
    Of loosely bundl’d wood, will cry _Alas;
    Help me, kind friend, my faggots to adjust!_
    But thou that silly cripple’s words mistrust;
    ’Tis planted for thy death. Note it and pass.


20

    ‘And when thy road the Stygian river joins,
    Where woolly Charon ferries o’er the dead,
    He will demand his fare: one of thy coins
    Force with thy tongue between thy teeth, thy head
    Offering instead of hand to give the doit.
    His fingers in this custom are adroit,
    And thine must not set down the barleybread.


21

    ‘Then in his crazy bark as, ferrying o’er
    The stream, thou sittest, one that seems to float
    Rather than swim, midway ’twixt shore and shore,
    Will stretch his fleshless hand upon the boat,
    And beg thee of thy pity take him in.
    Shut thy soft ear unto his clamour thin,
    Nor for a phantom deed thyself devote.


22

    ‘Next, on the further bank when thou art stept,
    Three wizen’d women weaving at the woof
    Will stop, and pray thee in their art adept
    To free their tangl’d threads. Hold thou aloof;
    For this and other traps thy foe hath plan’d
    To make thee drop the cakes out of thy hand,
    Putting thy prudence to perpetual proof.


23

    ‘For by one cake thou comest into Hell,
    And by one cake departest; since the hound
    That guards the gate is ever pleasèd well
    To taste man’s meal, or sweeten’d grain unground.
    Cast him a cake; for that thou mayst go free
    Even to the mansion of Persephonè,
    Withouten stay or peril, safe and sound.


24

    ‘She will receive thee kindly; thou decline
    Her courtesies, and make the floor thy seat;
    Refusing what is offer’d, food or wine;
    Save only beg a crust of bread to eat.
    Then tell thy mission, and her present take;
    Which when thou hast, set forth with pyx and cake,
    One in each hand, while yet thou mayst retreat.


25

    ‘Giving thy second cake to Cerberus,
    The coin to Charon, and that way whereby
    Thou earnest following, thou comest thus
    To see again the starry choir on high.
    But guard thou well the pyx, nor once uplift
    The lid to look on Persephassa’s gift;
    Else ’tis in vain I bid thee now not die.’

26

      Then Psyche thank’d the tower, and stoopt her mouth
    To kiss the stones upon his rampart hoary;
    And coming down his stair went hasting south,
    Along the steep Tænarian promontory;
    And found the cave and temple by the cape,
    And took the cakes and coins, and made escape
    Beneath the earth, according to his story.


27

    And overtook the ass, but lent no aid;
    And offer’d Charon with her teeth his fee;
    And pass’d the floating ghost, in vain who pray’d;
    And turned her back upon the weavers three:
    And threw the honey-cake to that hell-hound
    Three-headed Cerberus; and safe and sound,
    Came to the mansion of Persephonè.


28

    Kindly received, she courtesy declined;
    Sat on the ground; ate not, save where she lay,
    A crust of bread; reveal’d the goddess’ mind;
    The gift took; and return’d upon her way:
    Gave Cerberus his cake, Charon his fare,
    And saw through Hell’s mouth to the purple air
    And one by one the keen stars melt in day.


29

    Awhile from so long journeying in the shades
    Resting at Tænarus she came to know
    How, up the eastern coast some forty stades,
    There stood a temple of her goddess foe.
    There would she make her offering, there reclaim
    The prize, which now ’twas happiness to name,
    The joy that should redeem all passèd woe.


30

    And wending by the sunny shore at noon,
    She with her pyx, and wondering what it hid,
    Of what kind, what the fashion of the boon
    Coud be, that she to look on was forbid,—
    Alas for Innocence so hard to teach!—
    At fancy’s prick she sat her on the beach,
    And to content desire lifted the lid.


31

    She saw within nothing: But o’er her sight
    That looked on nothing gan a darkness creep.
    A cloudy poison, mix’d of Stygian night,
    Rapt her to deadly and infernal sleep.
    Backward she fell, like one when all is o’er,
    And lay outstretch’d, as lies upon the shore
    A drown’d corpse cast up by the murmuring deep.



                               FEBRUARY


1

    While Eros in his chamber hid his tears,
    Mourning the loss of Psyche and her fate,
    The rumour of her safety reacht his ears
    And how she came to Aphrodite’s gate:
    Whereat with hope return’d his hardihood,
    And secretly he purposed while he coud
    Himself to save her from the goddess’ hate.


2

    Then learning what he might and guessing more,
    His ready wit came soon to understand
    The journey to the far Laconian shore;
    Whither to fly and seek his love he plan’d:
    And making good escape in dark of night,
    Ere the sun crost his true meridian flight
    He by Teuthronè struck the southern strand.


3

    There as it chanct he found that snowy bird
    Of Crete, that late made mischief with his queen,
    And now along the cliffs with wings unstir’d
    Sail’d, and that morn had cross’d the sea between:
    Whom as he past he hail’d, and question’d thus,
    ‘O snowy gull, if thou from Tænarus
    Be come, say, hast thou there my Psyche seen?’


4

    The gull replied ‘Thy Psyche have I seen;
    Walking beside the sea she joy’th to bear
    A pyx of dark obsidian’s rarest green,
    Wherein she gazeth on her features fair.
    She is not hence by now six miles at most.’
    Then Eros bade him speed, and down the coast
    Held on his passage through the buoyant air.


5

    With eager eye he search’d the salty marge
    Boding all mischief from his mother’s glee;
    And wondering of her wiles, and what the charge
    Shut in the dark obsidian pyx might be.
    And lo! at last, outstretch’d beside the rocks,
    Psyche as lifeless; and the open box
    Laid with the weedy refuse of the sea.


6

    He guess’d all, flew down, and beside her knelt.
    With both his hands stroking her temples wan;
    And for the poison with his fingers felt,
    And drew it gently from her; and anon
    She slowly from those Stygian fumes was freed;
    Which he with magic handling and good heed
    Replaced in pyx, and shut the lid thereon.


7

    ‘O Psyche,’ thus, and kissing her he cried,
    ‘O simple-hearted Psyche, once again
    Hast thou thy foolish longing gratified,
    A second time hath prying been thy bane.
    But lo! I, love, am come, for I am thine:
    Nor ever more shall any fate malign,
    Or spite of goddess smite our love in twain.


8

    ‘Let now that I have saved thee twice outweigh
    The once that I deserted thee: and thou
    Hast much obey’d for once to disobey,
    And wilt no more my bidding disallow.
    Take up thy pyx; to Aphrodite go,
    And claim the promise of thy mighty foe;
    Maybe that she will grant it to thee now.


9

    ‘If she should yet refuse, despair not yet!’
    Then Psyche, when she felt his arms restore
    Their old embrace, and as their bodies met,
    Knew the great joy that grief is pardon’d for;
    And how it doth first ecstasy excel,
    When love well-known, long-lost, and mournèd well
    In long days of no hope, comes home once more.


10

      But Eros leaping up with purpose keen
    Into the air, as only love can fly,
    Bore her to heaven, and setting her unseen
    At Aphrodite’s golden gate,--whereby
    They came as night was close on twilight dim,—
    There left, and bidding her say nought of him,
    Went onward to the house of Zeus most high.


11

    Where winning audience of the heavenly sire,
    Who well disposed to him was used to be,
    He told the story of his strong desire;
    And boldly begg’d that Zeus would grant his plea,
    That he might have sweet Psyche for his wife,
    And she be dower’d with immortal life,
    Since she was worthy, by his firm decree.


12

    And great Zeus smiled; and at the smile of Zeus
    All heaven was glad, and on the earth below
    Was calm and peace awhile and sorrow’s truce:
    The sun shone forth and smote the winter snow,
    The flowërs sprang, the birds gan sing and pair,
    And mortals, as they drew the brighten’d air,
    Marvel’d, and quite forgot their common woe.


13

    Yet gave the Thunderer not his full consent
    Without some words: ‘At length is come the day,’
    Thus spake he, ‘when for all thy youth misspent,
    Thy mischief-making and thy wanton play
    Thou art upgrown to taste the sweet and sour:
    Good shall it work upon thee: from this hour
    Look we for better things. And this I say,


14

    ‘That since thy birth, which all we took for bliss,
    Thou hast but mock’d us; and no less on me
    Hast brought disfavour and contempt, ywiss,
    Than others that have had to do with thee:
    Till only such as vow’d themselves aloof
    From thee and thine were held in good aproof;
    And few there were, who thus of shame went free.


15

    ‘That punishment is shapen as reward
    Is like thy fortune: but our good estate
    We honour, while we sit to be adored:
    And thus ’twas written in the book of Fate.
    Not for thy pleasure, but the general weal
    Grant I the grace for which thou here dost kneel;
    And that which I determine shall not wait.’


16

    So wingèd Hermes through the heaven he sped,
    To warn the high celestials to his hall,
    Where they should Psyche see with Eros wed,
    And keep the day with feast ambrosial.
    And Hermes, flying through the skiey ways
    Of high Olympus, spread sweet Psyche’s praise,
    And bade the mighty gods obey his call.


17

      Then all the Kronian gods and goddesses
    Assembl’d at his cry,--and now ’twas known
    Why Zeus had smiled,--the lesser majesties
    Attending them before his royal throne.
    Athena, mistress good of them that know,
    Came, and Apollo, warder off of woe,
    Who had to Psyche’s sire her fate foreshown;


18

    Demeter, giver of the golden com,
    Fair Hebe, honour’d at her Attic shrine,
    And Artemis with hunting spear and horn,
    And Dionysos, planter of the vine,
    With old Poseidon from the barren sea,
    And Leto, and the lame Hephæstos, he
    Himself who built those halls with skill divine.


19

    And ruddy Pan with many a quip and quirk
    Air’d ’mong those lofty gods his mirth illbred,
    Bearing a mighty bowl of cretan work:
    Stern Arês, with his crisp hair helmeted,
    Came, and retirèd Hestia, and the god
    Hermes, with wingèd cap and ribbon’d rod,
    By whom the company was heralded.


20

    And Hera sat by Zeus, and all around
    The Muses, that of learning make their choice;
    Who, when Apollo struck his strings to sound,
    Sang in alternate music with sweet voice:
    And righteous Themis, and the Graces three
    Ushering the anger’d Aphrodite; she
    Alone of all were there might not rejoice.


21

    But ere they sat to feast, Zeus bade them fill
    The cup ambrosial of immortal life,
    And said ‘If Psyche drink,--and ’tis my will,—
    There is an end of this unhappy strife.
    Nor can the goddess, whose mislike had birth
    From too great honour paid the bride on earth,
    Forbid her any more for Eros’ wife.’


22

    Then Aphrodite said ‘So let it be.’
    And Psyche was brought in, with such a flush
    Of joy upon her face, as there to see
    Was fairer to love’s eye than beauty’s blush.
    And then she drank the eternal wine, whose draught
    Can Terror cease: which flesh hath never quafft,
    Nor doth it flow from grape that mortals crush.


23

    And next stood Eros forth, and took her hand,
    And kisst her happy face before them all:
    And Zeus proclaim’d them married, and outban’d
    From heaven whoever should that word miscall.
    And then all sat to feast, and one by one
    Pledged Psyche ere they drank and cried _Well done_!
    And merry laughter rang throughout the hall.


24

      So thus was Eros unto Psyche wed,
    The heavenly bridegroom to his earthly bride,
    Who won his love, in simple maidenhead:
    And by her love herself she glorified,
    And him from wanton wildness disinclined;
    Since in his love for her he came to find
    A joy unknown through all Olympus wide.


25

    And Psyche for her fall was quite forgiven,
    Since ’gainst herself when tempted to rebel,
    By others’ malice on her ruin driven,
    Only of sweet simplicity she fell:—
    Wherein who fall may fall unto the skies;—
    And being foolish she was yet most wise,
    And took her trials patiently and well.


26

    And Aphrodite since her full defeat
    Is kinder and less jealous than before,
    And smiling on them both, calls Psyche sweet;
    But thinks her son less manly than of yore:
    Though still she holds his arm of some renown,
    When he goes smiting mortals up and down,
    Piercing their marrow with his weapons sore.


27

    _So now in steadfast love and happy state_
    They hold for aye their mansion in the sky,
    And send down heavenly peace on those who mate,
    In virgin love, to find their joy thereby:
    Whom gently Eros shooteth, and apart
    Keepeth for them from all his sheaf that dart
    Which Psyche in his chamber pickt to try.


28

    Now in that same month Psyche bare a child,
    Who straight in heaven was namèd Hedonè
    In mortal tongues by other letters styled;
    Whom all to love, however named, agree:
    Whom in our noble English JOY we call,
    And honour them among us most of all,
    Whose happy children are as fair as she.


29

                                _ENVOY_

     IT IS MY PRAYER THAT SHE MAY SMILE ON ALL
     WHO READ MY TALE AS SHE HATH SMILED ON ME.



                              THE GROWTH
                                  OF
                                 LOVE



                          THE GROWTH OF LOVE


1

    They that in play can do the thing they would,
    Having an instinct throned in reason’s place,
    --And every perfect action hath the grace
    Of indolence or thoughtless hardihood--
    These are the best: yet be there workmen good
    Who lose in earnestness control of face,
    Or reckon means, and rapt in effort base
    Reach to their end by steps well understood.

      Me whom thou sawest of late strive with the pains
    Of one who spends his strength to rule his nerve,
    --Even as a painter breathlessly who strains
    His scarcely moving hand lest it should swerve--
    Behold me, now that I have cast my chains,
    Master of the art which for thy sake I serve.


2

    For thou art mine: and now I am ashamed
    To have usèd means to win so pure acquist,
    And of my trembling fear that might have misst
    Thro’ very care the gold at which I aim’d;
    And am as happy but to hear thee named,
    As are those gentle souls by angels kisst
    In pictures seen leaving their marble cist
    To go before the throne of grace unblamed.

      Nor surer am I water hath the skill
    To quench my thirst, or that my strength is freed
    In delicate ordination as I will,
    Than that to be myself is all I need
    For thee to be most mine: so I stand still,
    And save to taste my joy no more take heed.


3

    The whole world now is but the minister
    Of thee to me: I see no other scheme
    But universal love, from timeless dream
    Waking to thee his joy’s interpreter.
    I walk around and in the fields confer
    Of love at large with tree and flower and stream,
    And list the lark descant upon my theme,
    Heaven’s musical accepted worshipper.

      Thy smile outfaceth ill: and that old feud
    ’Twixt things and me is quash’d in our new truce;
    And nature now dearly with thee endued
    No more in shame ponders her old excuse,
    But quite forgets her frowns and antics rude,
    So kindly hath she grown to her new use.


4

    The very names of things belov’d are dear,
    And sounds will gather beauty from their sense,
    As many a face thro’ love’s long residence
    Groweth to fair instead of plain and sere:
    But when I say thy name it hath no peer,
    And I suppose fortune determined thence
    Her dower, that such beauty’s excellence
    Should have a perfect title for the ear.

      Thus may I think the adopting Muses chose
    Their sons by name, knowing none would be heard
    Or writ so oft in all the world as those,—
    Dan Chaucer, mighty Shakespeare, then for third
    The classic Milton, and to us arose
    Shelley with liquid music in the word.


5

    The poets were good teachers, for they taught
    Earth had this joy; but that ’twould ever be
    That fortune should be perfected in me,
    My heart of hope dared not engage the thought.
    So I stood low, and now but to be caught
    By any self-styled lords of the age with thee
    Vexes my modesty, lest they should see
    I hold them owls and peacocks, things of nought.

      And when we sit alone, and as I please
    I taste thy love’s full smile, and can enstate
    The pleasure of my kingly heart at ease,
    My thought swims like a ship, that with the weight
    Of her rich burden sleeps on the infinite seas
    Becalm’d, and cannot stir her golden freight.


6

    While yet we wait for spring, and from the dry
    And blackening east that so embitters March,
    Well-housed must watch grey fields and meadows parch,
    And driven dust and withering snowflake fly;
    Already in glimpses of the tarnish’d sky
    The sun is warm and beckons to the larch,
    And where the covert hazels interarch
    Their tassell’d twigs, fair beds of primrose lie.

      Beneath the crisp and wintry carpet hid
    A million buds but stay their blossoming;
    And trustful birds have built their nests amid
    The shuddering boughs, and only wait to sing
    Till one soft shower from the south shall bid,
    And hither tempt the pilgrim steps of spring.


7

    In thee my spring of life hath bid the while
    A rose unfold beyond the summer’s best,
    The mystery of joy made manifest
    In love’s self-answering and awakening smile;
    Whereby the lips in wonder reconcile
    Passion with peace, and show desire at rest,—
    A grace of silence by the Greek unguesst,
    That bloom’d to immortalize the Tuscan style:

      When first the angel-song that faith had ken’d
    Fancy pourtray’d, above recorded oath
    Of Israel’s God, or light of poem pen’d;
    The very countenance of plighted troth
    ’Twixt heaven and earth, where in one moment blend
    The hope of one and happiness of both.


8

    For beauty being the best of all we know
    Sums up the unsearchable and secret aims
    Of nature, and on joys whose earthly names
    Were never told can form and sense bestow;
    And man hath sped his instinct to outgo
    The step of science; and against her shames
    Imagination stakes out heavenly claims,
    Building a tower above the head of woe.

      Nor is there fairer work for beauty found
    Than that she win in nature her release
    From all the woes that in the world abound:
    Nay with his sorrow may his love increase,
    If from man’s greater need beauty redound,
    And claim his tears for homage of his peace.


9

    Thus to thy beauty doth my fond heart look,
    That late dismay’d her faithless faith forbore;
    And wins again her love lost in the lore
    Of schools and script of many a learned book:
    For thou what ruthless death untimely took
    Shalt now in better brotherhood restore,
    And save my batter’d ship that far from shore
    High on the dismal deep in tempest shook.

      So in despite of sorrow lately learn’d
    I still hold true to truth since thou art true,
    Nor wail the woe which thou to joy hast turn’d:
    Nor come the heavenly sun and bathing blue
    To my life’s need more splendid and unearn’d
    Than hath thy gift outmatch’d desire and due.


10

    Winter was not unkind because uncouth;
    His prison’d time made me a closer guest,
    And gave thy graciousness a warmer zest,
    Biting all else with keen and angry tooth:
    And bravelier the triumphant blood of youth
    Mantling thy cheek its happy home possest,
    And sterner sport by day put strength to test,
    And custom’s feast at night gave tongue to truth.

      Or say hath flaunting summer a device
    To match our midnight revelry, that rang
    With steel and flame along the snow-girt ice?
    Or when we hark’t to nightingales that sang
    On dewy eves in spring, did they entice
    To gentler love than winter’s icy fang?


11

    There’s many a would-be poet at this hour,
    Rhymes of a love that he hath never woo’d,
    And o’er his lamplit desk in solitude
    Deems that he sitteth in the Muses’ bower:
    And some the flames of earthly love devour,
    Who have taken no kiss of Nature, nor renew’d
    In the world’s wilderness with heavenly food
    The sickly body of their perishing power.

      So none of all our company, I boast,
    But now would mock my penning, could they see
    How down the right it maps a jagged coast;
    Seeing they hold the manlier praise to be
    Strong hand and will, and the heart best when most
    ’Tis sober, simple, true, and fancy-free.


12

    How could I quarrel or blame you, most dear,
    Who all thy virtues gavest and kept back none;
    Kindness and gentleness, truth without peer,
    And beauty that my fancy fed upon?
      Now not my life’s contrition for my fault
    Can blot that day, nor work me recompence,
    Tho’ I might worthily thy worth exalt,
    Making thee long amends for short offence.

      For surely nowhere, love, if not in thee
    Are grace and truth and beauty to be found;
    And all my praise of these can only be
    A praise of thee, howe’er by thee disown’d:
      While still thou must be mine tho’ far removed,
    And I for one offence no more beloved.


13

    Now since to me altho’ by thee refused
    The world is left, I shall find pleasure still;
    The art that most I have loved but little used
    Will yield a world of fancies at my will:
      And tho’ where’er thou goest it is from me,
    I where I go thee in my heart must bear;
    And what thou wert that wilt thou ever be,
    My choice, my best, my loved, and only fair.

      Farewell, yet think not such farewell a change
    From tenderness, tho’ once to meet or part
    But on short absence so could sense derange
    That tears have graced the greeting of my heart;
      They were proud drops and had my leave to fall,
    Not on thy pity for my pain to call.


14

    When sometimes in an ancient house where state
    From noble ancestry is handed on,
    We see but desolation thro’ the gate,
    And richest heirlooms all to ruin gone;
      Because maybe some fancied shame or fear,
    Bred of disease or melancholy fate,
    Hath driven the owner from his rightful sphere
    To wander nameless save to pity or hate:

      What is the wreck of all he hath in fief,
    When he that hath is wrecking? nought is fine
    Unto the sick, nor doth it burden grief
    That the house perish when the soul doth pine.
      Thus I my state despise, slain by a sting
    So slight ’twould not have hurt a meaner thing.


15

    Who builds a ship must first lay down the keel
    Of health, whereto the ribs of mirth are wed:
    And knit, with beams and knees of strength, a bed
    For decks of purity, her floor and ceil.
    Upon her masts, Adventure, Pride, and Zeal,
    To fortune’s wind the sails of purpose spread:
    And at the prow make figured maidenhead
    O’erride the seas and answer to the wheel.

      And let him deep in memory’s hold have stor’d
    Water of Helicon: and let him fit
    The needle that doth true with heaven accord:
    Then bid her crew, love, diligence and wit
    With justice, courage, temperance come aboard,
    And at her helm the master reason sit.


16

    This world is unto God a work of art,
    Of which the unaccomplish’d heavenly plan
    Is hid in life within the creature’s heart,
    And for perfection looketh unto man.
      Ah me! those thousand ages: with what slow
    Pains and persistence were his idols made,
    Destroy’d and made, ere ever he could know
    The mighty mother must be so obey’d.

      For lack of knowledge and thro’ little skill
    His childish mimicry outwent his aim;
    His effort shaped the genius of his will;
    Till thro’ distinction and revolt he came,
    True to his simple terms of good and ill,
    Seeking the face of Beauty without blame.


17

    Say who be these light-bearded, sunburnt faces
    In negligent and travel-stain’d array,
    That in the city of Dante come to-day,
    Haughtily visiting her holy places?
    O these be noble men that hide their graces,
    True England’s blood, her ancient glory’s stay,
    By tales of fame diverted on their way
    Home from the rule of oriental races.

      Life-trifling lions these, of gentle eyes
    And motion delicate, but swift to fire
    For honour, passionate where duty lies,
    Most loved and loving: and they quickly tire
    Of Florence, that she one day more denies
    The embrace of wife and son, of sister or sire.


18

    Where San Miniato’s convent from the sun
    At forenoon overlooks the city of flowers
    I sat, and gazing on her domes and towers
    Call’d up her famous children one by one:
    And three who all the rest had far outdone,
    Mild Giotto first, who stole the morning hours,
    I saw, and god-like Buonarroti’s powers,
    And Dante, gravest poet, her much-wrong’d son.

      Is all this glory, I said, another’s praise?
    Are these heroic triumphs things of old,
    And do I dead upon the living gaze?
    Or rather doth the mind, that can behold
    The wondrous beauty of the works and days,
    Create the image that her thoughts enfold?


19

    Rejoice, ye dead, where’er your spirits dwell,
    Rejoice that yet on earth your fame is bright;
    And that your names, remember’d day and night,
    Live on the lips of those that love you well.
    ’Tis ye that conquer’d have the powers of hell,
    Each with the special grace of your delight:
    Ye are the world’s creators, and thro’ might
    Of everlasting love ye did excel.

      Now ye are starry names, above the storm
    And war of Time and nature’s endless wrong
    Ye flit, in pictured truth and peaceful form,
    Wing’d with bright music and melodious song,—
      The flaming flowers of heaven, making May-dance
    In dear Imagination’s rich pleasance.


20

    The world still goeth about to shew and hide,
    Befool’d of all opinion, fond of fame:
    But he that can do well taketh no pride,
    And see’th his error, undisturb’d by shame:
      So poor’s the best that longest life can do,
    The most so little, diligently done;
    So mighty is the beauty that doth woo,
    So vast the joy that love from love hath won.

      God’s love to win is easy, for He loveth
    Desire’s fair attitude, nor strictly weighs
    The broken thing, but all alike approveth
    Which love hath aim’d at Him: that is heaven’s praise:
      And if we look for any praise on earth,
    ’Tis in man’s love: all else is nothing worth.


21

    O flesh and blood, comrade to tragic pain
    And clownish merriment; whose sense could wake
    Sermons in stones, and count death but an ache,
    All things as vanity, yet nothing vain:
    The world, set in thy heart, thy passionate strain
    Reveal’d anew; but thou for man didst make
    Nature twice natural, only to shake
    Her kingdom with the creatures of thy brain.

      Lo, Shakespeare, since thy time nature is loth
    To yield to art her fair supremacy;
    In conquering one thou hast so enrichèd both.
    What shall I say? for God--whose wise decree
    Confirmeth all He did by all He doth--
    Doubled His whole creation making thee.


22

    I would be a bird, and straight on wings I arise,
    And carry purpose up to the ends of the air:
    In calm and storm my sails I feather, and where
    By freezing cliffs the unransom’d wreckage lies:
    Or, strutting on hot meridian banks, surprise
    The silence: over plains in the moonlight bare
    I chase my shadow, and perch where no bird dare
    In treetops torn by fiercest winds of the skies.

      Poor simple birds, foolish birds! then I cry,
    Ye pretty pictures of delight, unstir’d
    By the only joy of knowing that ye fly;
    Ye are not what ye are, but rather, sum’d in a word,
    The alphabet of a god’s idea, and I
    Who master it, I am the only bird.


23

    O weary pilgrims, chanting of your woe,
    That turn your eyes to all the peaks that shine,
    Hailing in each the citadel divine
    The which ye thought to have enter’d long ago;
    Until at length your feeble steps and slow
    Falter upon the threshold of the shrine,
    And your hearts overburden’d doubt in fine
    Whether it be Jerusalem or no:

      Dishearten’d pilgrims, I am one of you;
    For, having worshipp’d many a barren face,
    I scarce now greet the goal I journey’d to:
    I stand a pagan in the holy place;
    Beneath the lamp of truth I am found untrue,
    And question with the God that I embrace.


24

    Spring hath her own bright days of calm and peace;
    Her melting air, at every breath we draw,
    Floods heart with love to praise God’s gracious law:
    But suddenly--so short is pleasure’s lease--
    The cold returns, the buds from growing cease,
    And nature’s conquer’d face is full of awe;
    As now the traitrous north with icy flaw
    Freezes the dew upon the sick lamb’s fleece,

      And ’neath the mock sun searching everywhere
    Rattles the crispèd leaves with shivering din:
    So that the birds are silent with despair
    Within the thickets; nor their armour thin
    Will gaudy flies adventure in the air,
    Nor any lizard sun his spotted skin.


25

    Nothing is joy without thee: I can find
    No rapture in the first relays of spring,
    In songs of birds, in young buds opening,
    Nothing inspiriting and nothing kind;
    For lack of thee, who once wert throned behind
    All beauty, like a strength where graces cling,—
    The jewel and heart of light, which everything
    Wrestled in rivalry to hold enshrined.

      Ah! since thou’rt fled, and I in each fair sight
    The sweet occasion of my joy deplore,
    Where shall I seek thee best, or whom invite
    Within thy sacred temples and adore?
    Who shall fill thought and truth with old delight,
    And lead my soul in life as heretofore?


26

    The work is done, and from the fingers fall
    The bloodwarm tools that brought the labour thro’:
    The tasking eye that overrunneth all
    Rests, and affirms there is no more to do.
      Now the third joy of making, the sweet flower
    Of blessed work, bloometh in godlike spirit;
    Which whoso plucketh holdeth for an hour
    The shrivelling vanity of mortal merit.

      And thou, my perfect work, thou’rt of to-day;
    To-morrow a poor and alien thing wilt be,
    True only should the swift life stand at stay:
    Therefore farewell, nor look to bide with me.
      Go find thy friends, if there be one to love thee;
    Casting thee forth, my child, I rise above thee.


27

    The fabled seasnake, old Leviathan,
    Or else what grisly beast of scaly chine
    That champ’d the oceanwrack and swash’d the brine,
    Before the new and milder days of man,
    Had never rib nor bray nor swindging fan
    Like his iron swimmer of the Clyde or Tyne,
    Late-born of golden seed to breed a line
    Of offspring swifter and more huge of plan.

      Straight is her going, for upon the sun
    When once she hath look’d, her path and place are plain;
    With tireless speed she smiteth one by one
    The shuddering seas and foams along the main;
    And her eased breath, when her wild race is run,
    Roars thro’ her nostrils like a hurricane.


28

    A thousand times hath in my heart’s behoof
    My tongue been set his passion to impart;
    A thousand times hath my too coward heart
    My mouth reclosed and fix’d it to the roof;
    Then with such cunning hath it held aloof,
    A thousand times kept silence with such art
    That words could do no more: yet on thy part
    Hath silence given a thousand times reproof.

      I should be bolder, seeing I commend
    Love, that my dilatory purpose primes,
    But fear lest with my fears my hope should end:
    Nay I would truth deny and burn my rhymes,
    Renew my sorrows rather than offend,
    A thousand times, and yet a thousand times.


29

    I travel to thee with the sun’s first rays,
    That lift the dark west and unwrap the night;
    I dwell beside thee when he walks the height,
    And fondly toward thee at his setting gaze.
    I wait upon thy coming, but always--
    Dancing to meet my thoughts if they invite--
    Thou hast outrun their longing with delight,
    And in my solitude dost mock my praise.

      Now doth my drop of time transcend the whole:
    I see no fame in Khufu’s pyramid,
    No history where loveless Nile doth roll.
    --This is eternal life, which doth forbid
    Mortal detraction to the exalted soul,
    And from her inward eye all fate hath hid.


30

    My lady pleases me and I please her;
    This know we both, and I besides know well
    Wherefore I love her, and I love to tell
    My love, as all my loving songs aver.
    But what on her part could the passion stir,
    Tho’ ’tis more difficult for love to spell,
    Yet can I dare divine how this befel,
    Nor will her lips deny it if I err.

      She loves me first because I love her, then
    Loves me for knowing why she should be loved,
    And that I love to praise her, loves again.
    So from her beauty both our loves are moved,
    And by her beauty are sustain’d; nor when
    The earth falls from the sun is this disproved.


31

    In all things beautiful, I cannot see
    Her sit or stand, but love is stir’d anew:
    ’Tis joy to watch the folds fall as they do,
    And all that comes is past expectancy.
    If she be silent, silence let it be;
    He who would bid her speak might sit and sue
    The deep-brow’d Phidian Jove to be untrue
    To his two thousand years’ solemnity.

      Ah, but her launchèd passion, when she sings.
    Wins on the hearing like a shapen prow
    Borne by the mastery of its urgent wings:
    Or if she deign her wisdom, she doth show
    She hath the intelligence of heavenly things,
    Unsullied by man’s mortal overthrow.


32

    Thus to be humbled: ’tis that ranging pride
    No refuge hath; that in his castle strong
    Brave reason sits beleaguer’d, who so long
    Kept field, but now must starve where he doth hide;
    That industry, who once the foe defied,
    Lies slaughter’d in the trenches; that the throng
    Of idle fancies pipe their foolish song,
    Where late the puissant captains fought and died.

      Thus to be humbled: ’tis to be undone;
    A forest fell’d; a city razed to ground;
    A cloak unsewn, unwoven and unspun
    Till not a thread remains that can be wound.
    And yet, O lover, thee, the ruin’d one,
    Love who hath humbled thus hath also crown’d.


33

    I care not if I live, tho’ life and breath
    Have never been to me so dear and sweet.
    I care not if I die, for I could meet--
    Being so happy--happily my death.
    I care not if I love; to-day she saith
    She loveth, and love’s history is complete.
    Nor care I if she love me; at her feet
    My spirit bows entranced and worshippeth.

      I have no care for what was most my care,
    But all around me see fresh beauty born,
    And common sights grown lovelier than they were:
    I dream of love, and in the light of morn
    Tremble, beholding all things very fair
    And strong with strength that puts my strength to scorn.


34

    _O my goddess divine_ sometimes I say:—
    Now let this word for ever and all suffice;
    Thou art insatiable, and yet not twice
    Can even thy lover give his soul away:
    And for my acts, that at thy feet I lay;
    For never any other, by device
    Of wisdom, love or beauty, could entice
    My homage to the measure of this day.

      I have no more to give thee: lo, I have sold
    My life, have emptied out my heart, and spent
    Whate’er I had; till like a beggar, bold
    With nought to lose, I laugh and am content.
    A beggar kisses thee; nay love, behold,
    I fear not: thou too art in beggarment.


35

    All earthly beauty hath one cause and proof,
    To lead the pilgrim soul to beauty above:
    Yet lieth the greater bliss so far aloof,
    That few there be are wean’d from earthly love.
      Joy’s ladder it is, reaching from home to home,
    The best of all the work that all was good;
    Whereof ’twas writ the angels aye upclomb,
    Down sped, and at the top the Lord God stood.

      But I my time abuse, my eyes by day
    Center’d on thee, by night my heart on fire--
    Letting my number’d moments run away--
    Nor e’en ’twixt night and day to heaven aspire:
      So true it is that what the eye seeth not
    But slow is loved, and loved is soon forgot.


36

    O my life’s mischief, once my love’s delight,
    That drew’st a mortgage on my heart’s estate,
    Whose baneful clause is never out of date,
    Nor can avenging time restore my right:
    Whom first to lose sounded that note of spite,
    Whereto my doleful days were tuned by fate:
    That art the well-loved cause of all my hate,
    The sun whose wandering makes my hopeless night:

      Thou being in all my lacking all I lack,
    It is thy goodness turns my grace to crime,
    Thy fleetness from my goal which holds me back;
    Wherefore my feet go out of step with time,
    My very grasp of life is old and slack,
    And even my passion falters in my rhyme.


37

    At times with hurried hoofs and scattering dust
    I race by field or highway, and my horse
    Spare not, but urge direct in headlong course
    Unto some fair far hill that gain I must:
    But near arrived the vision soon mistrust,
    Rein in, and stand as one who sees the source
    Of strong illusion, shaming thought to force
    From off his mind the soil of passion’s gust.

      My brow I bare then, and with slacken’d speed
    Can view the country pleasant on all sides,
    And to kind salutation give good heed:
    I ride as one who for his pleasure rides,
    And stroke the neck of my delighted steed,
    And seek what cheer the village inn provides.


38

    An idle June day on the sunny Thames,
    Floating or rowing as our fancy led,
    Now in the high beams basking as we sped,
    Now in green shade gliding by mirror’d stems;
      By lock and weir and isle, and many a spot
    Of memoried pleasure, glad with strength and skill,
    Friendship, good wine, and mirth, that serve not ill
    The heavenly Muse, tho’ she requite them not:

      I would have life--thou saidst--all as this day,
    Simple enjoyment calm in its excess,
    With not a grief to cloud, and not a ray
    Of passion overhot my peace to oppress;
    With no ambition to reproach delay,
    Nor rapture to disturb its happiness.


39

    A man that sees by chance his picture, made
    As once a child he was, handling some toy,
    Will gaze to find his spirit within the boy,
    Yet hath no secret with the soul pourtray’d:
    He cannot think the simple thought which play’d
    Upon those features then so frank and coy;
    ’Tis his, yet oh! not his: and o’er the joy
    His fatherly pity bends in tears dismay’d.

      Proud of his prime maybe he stand at best,
    And lightly wear his strength, or aim it high,
    In knowledge, skill and courage self-possest:—
    Yet in the pictured face a charm doth lie,
    The one thing lost more worth than all the rest,
    Which seeing, he fears to say _This child was I_.


40

    Tears of love, tears of joy and tears of care,
    Comforting tears that fell uncomforted,
    Tears o’er the new-born, tears beside the dead,
    Tears of hope, pride and pity, trust and prayer,
    Tears of contrition; all tears whatsoe’er
    Of tenderness or kindness had she shed
    Who here is pictured, ere upon her head
    The fine gold might be turn’d to silver there.

      The smile that charm’d the father hath given place
    Unto the furrow’d care wrought by the son;
    But virtue hath transform’d all change to grace:
    So that I praise the artist, who hath done
    A portrait, for my worship, of the face
    Won by the heart my father’s heart that won.


41

    If I could but forget and not recall
    So well my time of pleasure and of play,
    When ancient nature was all new and gay,
    Light as the fashion that doth last enthrall,—
    Ah mighty nature, when my heart was small,
    Nor dream’d what fearful searchings underlay
    The flowers and leafy ecstasy of May,
    The breathing summer sloth, the scented fall:

      Could I forget, then were the fight not hard,
    Press’d in the melée of accursed things,
    Having such help in love and such reward:
    But that ’tis I who once--’tis this that stings--
    Once dwelt within the gate that angels guard,
    Where yet I’d be had I but heavenly wings.


42

    When I see childhood on the threshold seize
    The prize of life from age and likelihood,
    I mourn time’s change that will not be withstood,
    Thinking how Christ said _Be like one of these_.
    For in the forest among many trees
    Scarce one in all is found that hath made good
    The virgin pattern of its slender wood,
    That courtesied in joy to every breeze;

      But scath’d, but knotted trunks that raise on high
    Their arms in stiff contortion, strain’d and bare;
    Whose patriarchal crowns in sorrow sigh.
    So, little children, ye--nay nay, ye ne’er
    From me shall learn how sure the change and nigh,
    When ye shall share our strength and mourn to share.


43

    When parch’d with thirst, astray on sultry sands
    The traveller faints, upon his closing ear
    Steals a fantastic music: he may hear
    The babbling fountain of his native land.
    Before his eyes the vision seems to stand,
    Where at its terraced brink the maids appear,
    Who fill their deep urns at its waters clear,
    And not refuse the help of lover’s hand.

      O cruel jest--he cries, as some one flings
    The sparkling drops in sport or shew of ire--
    O shameless, O contempt of holy things.
    But never of their wanton play they tire,
    As not athirst they sit beside the springs,
    While he must quench in death his lost desire.


44

    The image of thy love, rising on dark
    And desperate days over my sullen sea,
    Wakens again fresh hope and peace in me,
    Gleaming above upon my groaning bark.
    Whate’er my sorrow be, I then may hark
    A loving voice: whate’er my terror be,
    This heavenly comfort still I win from thee,
    To shine my lodestar that wert once my mark.

      Prodigal nature makes us but to taste
    One perfect joy, which given she niggard grows;
    And lest her precious gift should run to waste,
    Adds to its loss a thousand lesser woes:
    So to the memory of the gift that graced
    Her hand, her graceless hand more grace bestows.


45

    In this neglected, ruin’d edifice
    Of works unperfected and broken schemes,
    Where is the promise of my early dreams,
    The smile of beauty and the pearl of price?
    No charm is left now that could once entice
    Wind-wavering fortune from her golden streams,
    And full in flight decrepit purpose seems,
    Trailing the banner of his old device.

      Within the house a frore and numbing air
    Has chill’d endeavour: sickly memories reign
    In every room, and ghosts are on the stair:
    And hope behind the dusty window-pane
    Watches the days go by, and bow’d with care
    Forecasts her last reproach and mortal stain.


46

    Once I would say, before thy vision came,
    _My joy, my life, my love_, and with some kind
    Of knowledge speak, and think I knew my mind
    Of heaven and hope, and each word hit its aim.
    Whate’er their sounds be, now all mean the same,
    Denoting each the fair that none can find;
    Or if I say them, ’tis as one long blind
    Forgets the sights that he was used to name.

      Now if men speak of love, ’tis not my love;
    Nor are their hopes nor joys mine, nor their life
    Of praise the life that I think honour of:
    Nay tho’ they turn from house and child and wife
    And self, and in the thought of heaven above
    Hold, as do I, all mortal things at strife.


47

    Since then ’tis only pity looking back,
    Fear looking forward, and the busy mind
    Will in one woeful moment more upwind
    Than lifelong years unroll of bitter or black;
    What is man’s privilege, his hoarding knack
    Of memory with foreboding so combined,
    Whereby he comes to dream he hath of kind
    The perpetuity which all things lack?

      Which but to hope is doubtful joy, to have
    Being a continuance of what, alas,
    We mourn, and scarcely bear with to the grave;
    Or something so unknown that it o’erpass
    The thought of comfort, and the sense that gave
    Cannot consider it thro’ any glass.


48

    Come gentle sleep, I woo thee: come and take
    Not now the child into thine arms, from fright
    Composed by drowsy tune and shaded light,
    Whom ignorant of thee thou didst nurse and make;
    Nor now the boy, who scorn’d thee for the sake
    Of growing knowledge or mysterious night,
    Tho’ with fatigue thou didst his limbs invite,
    And heavily weigh the eyes that would not wake;

      No, nor the man severe, who from his best
    Failing, alert fled to thee, that his breath,
    Blood, force and fire should come at morn redrest;
    But me, from whom thy comfort tarrieth,
    For all my wakeful prayer sent without rest
    To thee, O shew and shadow of my death.


49

    The spirit’s eager sense for sad or gay
    Filleth with what he will our vessel full:
    Be joy his bent, he waiteth not joy’s day,
    But like a child at any toy will pull:
      If sorrow, he will weep for fancy’s sake,
    And spoil heaven’s plenty with forbidden care.
    What fortune most denies we slave to take;
    Nor can fate load us more than we can bear.

      Since pleasure with the having disappeareth,
    He who hath least in hand hath most at heart,
    While he keep hope: as he who alway feareth
    A grief that never comes hath yet the smart;
      And heavier far is our self-wrought distress,
    For when God sendeth sorrow, it doth bless.


50

    The world comes not to an end: her city-hives
    Swarm with the tokens of a changeless trade,
    With rolling wheel, driver and flagging jade,
    Rich men and beggars, children, priests and wives.
    New homes on old are set, as lives on lives;
    Invention with invention overlaid:
    But still or tool or toy or book or blade
    Shaped for the hand, that holds and toils and strives.

      The men to-day toil as their fathers taught,
    With little better’d means; for works depend
    On works and overlap, and thought on thought:
    And thro’ all change the smiles of hope amend
    The weariest face, the same love changed in nought:
    In this thing too the world comes not to an end.


51

    O my uncared-for songs, what are ye worth,
    That in my secret book with so much care
    I write you, this one here and that one there,
    Marking the time and order of your birth?
    How, with a fancy so unkind to mirth,
    A sense so hard, a style so worn and bare,
    Look ye for any welcome anywhere
    From any shelf or heart-home on the earth?

      Should others ask you this, say then I yearn’d
    To write you such as once, when I was young,
    Finding I should have loved and thereto turn’d.
    ’Twere something yet to live again among
    The gentle youth beloved, and where I learn’d
    My art, be there remember’d for my song.


52

    Who takes the census of the living dead,
    Ere the day come when memory shall o’ercrowd
    The kingdom of their fame, and for that proud
    And airy people find no room nor stead?
      Ere hoarding Time, that ever thrusteth back
    The fairest treasures of his ancient store,
    Better with best confound, so he may pack
    His greedy gatherings closer, more and more?

      Let the true Muse rewrite her sullied page,
    And purge her story of the men of hate,
    That they go dirgeless down to Satan’s rage
    With all else foul, deform’d and miscreate:
      She hath full toil to keep the names of love
    Honour’d on earth, as they are bright above.


53

    I heard great Hector sounding war’s alarms,
    Where thro’ the listless ghosts chiding he strode,
    As tho’ the Greeks besieged his last abode,
    And he his Troy’s hope still, her king-at-arms.
    But on those gentle meads, which Lethe charms
    With weary oblivion, his passion glow’d
    Like the cold night-worm’s candle, and only show’d
    Such mimic flame as neither heats nor harms.

      ’Twas plain to read, even by those shadows quaint,
    How rude catastrophe had dim’d his day,
    And blighted all his cheer with stern complaint:
    _To arms! to arms!_ what more the voice would say
    Was swallow’d in the valleys, and grew faint
    Upon the thin air, as he pass’d away.


54

    Since not the enamour’d sun with glance more fond
    Kisses the foliage of his sacred tree,
    Than doth my waking thought arise on thee,
    Loving none near thee, like thee nor beyond;
    Nay since I am sworn thy slave, and in the bond
    Is writ my promise of eternity;
    Since to such high hope thou’st encouraged me,
    That if thou look but from me I despond;

      Since thou’rt my all in all, O think of this:
    Think of the dedication of my youth:
    Think of my loyalty, my joy, my bliss:
    Think of my sorrow, my despair and ruth,
    My sheer annihilation if I miss:
    Think--if thou shouldst be false--think of thy truth.


55

    These meagre rhymes, which a returning mood
    Sometimes o’errateth, I as oft despise;
    And knowing them illnatured, stiff and rude,
    See them as others with contemptuous eyes.
      Nay, and I wonder less at God’s respect
    For man, a minim jot in time and space,
    Than at the soaring faith of His elect,
    That gift of gifts, the comfort of His grace.

      O truth unsearchable, O heavenly love,
    Most infinitely tender, so to touch
    The work that we can meanly reckon of:
    Surely--I say--we are favour’d overmuch.
      But of this wonder, what doth most amaze
    Is that we know our love is held for praise.


56

    Beauty sat with, me all the summer day,
    Awaiting the sure triumph of her eye;
    Nor mark’d I till we parted, how, hard by,
    Love in her train stood ready for his prey.
    She, as too proud to join herself the fray,
    Trusting too much to her divine ally,
    When she saw victory tarry, chid him--‘Why
    Dost thou not at one stroke this rebel slay?’

      Then generous Love, who holds my heart in fee,
    Told of our ancient truce: so from the fight
    We straight withdrew our forces, all the three.
    Baffled but not dishearten’d she took flight
    Scheming new tactics: Love came home with me,
    And prompts my measured verses as I write.


57

    In autumn moonlight, when the white air wan
    Is fragrant in the wake of summer hence,
    ’Tis sweet to sit entranced, and muse thereon
    In melancholy and godlike indolence:
      When the proud spirit, lull’d by mortal prime
    To fond pretence of immortality,
    Vieweth all moments from the birth of time,
    All things whate’er have been or yet shall be.

      And like the garden, where the year is spent,
    The ruin of old life is full of yearning,
    Mingling poetic rapture of lament
    With flowers and sunshine of spring’s sure returning;
      Only in visions of the white air wan
    By godlike fancy seized and dwelt upon.


58

    When first I saw thee, dearest, if I say
    The spells that conjure back the hour and place,
    And evermore I look upon thy face,
    As in the spring of years long passed away;
    No fading of thy beauty’s rich array,
    No detriment of age on thee I trace,
    But time’s defeat written in spoils of grace,
    From rivals robb’d, whom thou didst pity and slay.

      So hath thy growth been, thus thy faith is true,
    Unchanged in change, still to my growing sense,
    To life’s desire the same, and nothing new:
    But as thou wert in dream and prescience
    At love’s arising, now thou standst to view
    In the broad noon of his magnificence.


59

    ’Twas on the very day winter took leave
    Of those fair fields I love, when to the skies
    The fragrant Earth was smiling in surprise
    At that her heaven-descended, quick reprieve,
    I wander’d forth my sorrow to relieve;
    Yet walk’d amid sweet pleasure in such wise
    As Adam went alone in Paradise,
    Before God of His pity fashion’d Eve.

      And out of tune with all the joy around
    I laid me down beneath a flowering tree,
    And o’er my senses crept a sleep profound;
    In which it seem’d that thou wert given to me,
    Rending my body, where with hurried sound
    I feel my heart beat, when I think of thee.


60

    Love that I know, love I am wise in, love,
    My strength, my pride, my grace, my skill untaught,
    My faith here upon earth, my hope above,
    My contemplation and perpetual thought:
      The pleasure of my fancy, my heart’s fire,
    My joy, my peace, my praise, my happy theme,
    The aim of all my doing, my desire
    Of being, my life by day, by night my dream:

      Love, my sweet melancholy, my distress,
    My pain, my doubt, my trouble, my despair,
    My only folly and unhappiness,
    And in my careless moments still my care:
      O love, sweet love, earthly love, love divine,
    Sayst thou to-day, O love, that thou art mine?


61

    The dark and serious angel, who so long
    Vex’d his immortal strength in charge of me,
    Hath smiled for joy and fled in liberty
    To take his pastime with the peerless throng.
    Oft had I done his noble keeping wrong,
    Wounding his heart to wonder what might be
    God’s purpose in a soul of such degree;
    And there he had left me but for mandate strong.

      But seeing thee with me now, his task at close
    He knoweth, and wherefore he was bid to stay,
    And work confusion of so many foes:
    The thanks that he doth look for, here I pay,
    Yet fear some heavenly envy, as he goes
    Unto what great reward I cannot say.


62

    I will be what God made me, nor protest
    Against the bent of genius in my time,
    That science of my friends robs all the best,
    While I love beauty, and was born to rhyme.
      Be they our mighty men, and let me dwell
    In shadow among the mighty shades of old,
    With love’s forsaken palace for my cell;
    Whence I look forth and all the world behold,

      And say, These better days, in best things worse,
    This bastardy of time’s magnificence,
    Will mend in fashion and throw off the curse,
    To crown new love with higher excellence.
      Curs’d tho’ I be to live my life alone,
    My toil is for man’s joy, his joy my own.


63

    I live on hope and that I think do all
    Who come into this world, and since I see
    Myself in swim with such good company,
    I take my comfort whatsoe’er befall.
    I abide and abide, as if more stout and tall
    My spirit would grow by waiting like a tree;
    And, clear of others’ toil, it pleaseth me
    In dreams their quick ambition to forestall.

      And if thro’ careless eagerness I slide
    To some accomplishment, I give my voice
    Still to desire, and in desire abide.
    I have no stake abroad; if I rejoice
    In what is done or doing, I confide
    Neither to friend nor foe my secret choice.


64

    Ye blessed saints, that now in heaven enjoy
    The purchase of those tears, the world’s disdain,
    Doth Love still with his war your peace annoy,
    Or hath Death freed you from his ancient pain?
      Have ye no springtide, and no burst of May
    In flowers and leafy trees, when solemn night
    Pants with love-music, and the holy day
    Breaks on the ear with songs of heavenly light?

      What make ye and what strive for? keep ye thought
    Of us, or in new excellence divine
    Is old forgot? or do ye count for nought
    What the Greek did and what the Florentine?
      We keep your memories well: O in your store
    Live not our best joys treasured evermore?


65

    Ah heavenly joy! But who hath ever heard,
    Who hath seen joy, or who shall ever find
    Joy’s language? There is neither speech nor word;
    Nought but itself to teach it to mankind.
      Scarce in our twenty thousand painful days
    We may touch something: but there lives--beyond
    The best of art, or nature’s kindest phase--
    The hope whereof our spirit is fain and fond:

      The cause of beauty given to man’s desires,
    Writ in the expectancy of starry skies,
    The faith which gloweth in our fleeting fires,
    The aim of all the good that here we prize;
      Which but to love, pursue and pray for well
    Maketh earth heaven, and to forget it, hell.


66

    My wearied heart, whenever, after all,
    Its loves and yearnings shall be told complete,
    When gentle death shall bid it cease to beat,
    And from all dear illusions disenthrall:
    However then thou shalt appear to call
    My fearful heart, since down at others’ feet
    It bade me kneel so oft, I’ll not retreat
    From thee, nor fear before thy feet to fall.

      And I shall say, ‘Receive this loving heart
    Which err’d in sorrow only; and in sin
    Took no delight; but being forced apart
    From thee, without thee hoping thee to win,
    Most prized what most thou madest as thou art
    On earth, till heaven were open to enter in.’


67

    Dreary was winter, wet with changeful sting
    Of clinging snowfall and fast-flying frost;
    And bitterer northwinds then withheld the spring,
    That dallied with her promise till ’twas lost.
      A sunless and half-hearted summer drown’d
    The flowers in needful and unwelcom’d rain;
    And Autumn with a sad smile fled uncrown’d
    From fruitless orchards and unripen’d grain.

      But could the skies of this most desolate year
    In its last month learn with our love to glow,
    Men yet should rank its cloudless atmosphere
    Above the sunsets of five years ago:
      Of my great praise too part should be its own,
    Now reckon’d peerless for thy love alone.


68

    Away now, lovely Muse, roam and be free:
    Our commerce ends for aye, thy task is done:
    Tho’ to win thee I left all else unwon,
    Thou, whom I most have won, art not for me.
    My first desire, thou too foregone must be,
    Thou too, O much lamented now, tho’ none
    Will turn to pity thy forsaken son,
    Nor thy divine sisters will weep for thee.

      None will weep for thee: thou return, O Muse,
    To thy Sicilian fields: I once have been
    On thy loved hills, and where thou first didst use
    Thy sweetly balanced rhyme, O thankless queen,
    Have pluck’d and wreath’d thy flowers; but do thou choose
    Some happier brow to wear thy garlands green.


69

    Eternal Father, who didst all create,
    In whom we live, and to whose bosom move,
    To all men be Thy name known, which is Love,
    Till its loud praises sound at heaven’s high gate.
    Perfect Thy kingdom in our passing state,
    That here on earth Thou mayst as well approve
    Our service, as Thou ownest theirs above,
    Whose joy we echo and in pain await.

      Grant body and soul each day their daily bread:
    And should in spite of grace fresh woe begin,
    Even as our anger soon is past and dead
    Be Thy remembrance mortal of our sin:
      By Thee in paths of peace Thy sheep be led,
    And in the vale of terror comforted.



                                 NOTES


NOTE ON EROS AND PSYCHE.

This Poem is in all essentials a faithful translation of Apuleius’
story, the chief differences being that first, in the way of form, I
have, for the sake of balance and contrast, chosen to lengthen the
introductory portion; I have also located the story in Crete, and this
gives rise to occasional description.--The description of the sunset
on p. 83 is a portrait of the phenomena which followed the great
eruption of Krakatoa.--Secondly, in the way of ethic I have made a
gentler characterization of Psyche, who deserves more care in handling
the motives of her conduct than was perhaps felt in Apuleius’ time and
country.

The acrostic on p. 102 is a remnant of my original dedication. In the
first edition there was a note acknowledging the frequent translations
from the Greek, and other robberies: and in the second, in which I
altered the spelling, I gave my reasons for that, in so far as it is
unusual. These reasons I need not repeat here, especially as the
spelling is not at all as I should wish to see it. I advocate liberty
in these matters instead of the conventional tyranny. But I will add
here that the main inconsistencies of the punctuation are owing to this
volume being a reprint of three separate books. The stops are intended
solely for the readers’ convenience; and almost anything is better
than the regulations of a methodic punctuation, which by assuming the
possibility of indicating all the varieties of grammatical structure
and rhythmic pause by four symbols, cannot be applied without perpetual
vexation and injury.


NOTE ON THE GROWTH OF LOVE.

It was not my wish or intention to offer these sonnets to the public,
but since they have been published in America without my permission,
and some of them have appeared in collections of poetry in this
country, and have been mentioned in professional criticism, I have
thought it wise to come to their rescue, and include them in this
edition of my poems; to which end I have, while this volume was in the
press, revised them; cutting out ten, and amending the worst places in
others where I could. As they now stand they still make an imperfect
poem, but one for which I need not further apologize.

_Note on Sonnet XIX._--The octett forms part of my ‘Purcell
Commemoration Ode,’ published as No. 2 of Elkin Mathews’ ‘Shilling
Garland,’ 1896, and set to music by Dr. Hubert Parry.

_XXXV._ The argument is partly from Michael Angelo’s Madrigal xix.

_LXIII._ Partly from the anonymous sonnet No. 3793 in the Libro reale,
‘Io vivo di speranza.’

_LXIV._ The first quatrain from Michael Angelo’s Madrigal, ‘Beati voi.’

_LXVII._ ‘The sunsets of five years ago,’ which happen to be described
on p. 83 of this volume.

    R. B.

    1898.


       *       *       *       *       *


Transcriber's Notes

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. Variations
in hyphenation spelling and punctuation remains unchanged.


Italics are represented thus _italic_.

There are many small decorative illustrations within the book. These
have not been indicated





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