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Nor do we merely feel these essences For one short hour; no, even as the trees That whisper round a temple become soon Dear as the temple's self, so does the moon, The passion poesy, glories infinite, Haunt us till they become a cheering light Unto our souls, and bound to us so fast, That, whether there be shine, or gloom o'ercast, They alway must be with us, or we die.
Therefore, ’tis with full happiness that I Will trace the story of Endymion. The very music of the name has gone Into my being, and each pleasant scene Is growing fresh before me as the green Of our own valleys: so I will begin Now while I cannot hear the city’s din; Now while the early budders are just new, And run in mazes of the youngest-hue About old forests; while the willow trails Its delicate amber; and the dairy pails Bring home increase of milk. And, as the year Grows lush in juicy stalks, I’ll smoothly steer My little boat, for many quiet hours, With streams that deepen freshly into bowers. Many and many a verse I hope to write, Before the daisies, vermeil rimm’d and white, Hide in deep herbage; and ere yet the bees Hum about globes of clover and sweet peas, I must be near the middle of my story. O may no wintry season, bare and hoary, See it half-finish'd : but let Autumn bold,
With universal tinge of sober cold,
Be all about me when I make an end.
And now at once, adventuresome, I send
My herald thought into a wilderness:
There let its trumpet blow, and quickly dress
My uncertain path with green, that I may speed
Easily onward, thorough flowers and weed.
Upon the sides of Latmos was outspread A mighty forest; for the moist earth fed So plenteously all weed-hidden roots Into o'erhanging boughs, and precious fruits. And it had gloomy shades, sequester'd deep, Where no man went ; and if from shepherd's keep A lamb stray’d far a-down those inmost glens, Never again saw he the happy pens Whither his brethren, bleating with content, Over the hills at every night-fall went. Among the shepherds 'twas believed ever, That not one fleecy lamb which thus did sever From the white flock, but pass'd unworried By any wolf, or pard with prying head, Until it came to some unfooted plains Where fed the herds of Pan: ay, great his gains Who thus one lamb did lose. Paths there were many, Winding through palmy fern, and rushes fenny, And ivy banks; all leading pleasantly To a wide lawn, whence one could only see Stems thronging all around between the swell Of tuft and slanting branches: who could tell The freshness of the space of heaven above, Edged round with dark tree tops ? through which a dove Would often beat its wings, and often too A little cloud would move across the blue.
Full in the middle of this pleasantness
There stood a marble altar, with a tress
Of flowers budded newly ; and the dew
Had taken fairy phantasies to strew
Qaisies upon the sacred sward last eve,
And so the dawned light in pomp receive.
For 'twas the morn: Apollo's upward fire
Made every eastern cloud a silvery pyre
Of brightness so unsullied, that therein
A melancholy spirit well might win
Oblivion, and melt out his essence fine
Into the winds : rain-scented eglantine
Gave temperate sweets to that well-wooing sun;
The lark was lost in him ; cold springs had run
To warm their chilliest bubbles in the grass;
Man's voice was on the mountains ; and the mass
Of nature's lives and wonders pulsed tenfold,
To feel this sun-rise and its glories old.
Now while the silent workings of the dawn
Were busiest, into that self-same lawn
All suddenly, with joyful cries, there sped
A troop of little children garlanded;
Who gathering round the altar, seem'd to pry
Earnestly round as wishing to espy
Some folk of holiday: 'nor had they waited
For many moments, ere their ears were sated
With a faint breath of music, which even then
Fill'd out its voice, and died away again. -
Within a little space again it gave
Its airy swellings, with a gentle wave,
To light-hung leaves, in smoothest echoes breaking
Through copse-clad valleys, ere their death, o’ertaking The surgy murmurs of the lonely sea.
And now, as deep into the wood as we
Might mark a lynx’s eye, there glimmer'd light
Fair faces and a rush of garments white,
Plainer and plainer showing, till at last
Into the widest alley they all past,
Making directly for the woodland altar.
O kindly muse! let not my weak tongue falter
In telling of this goodly company,
Of their old piety, and of their glee :
But let a portion of ethereal dew
Fall on my head, and presently unmew
My soul; that I may dare, in wayfaring,
To stammer where old Chaucer used to sing.
Leading the way, young damsels danced along,
Bearing the burden of a shepherd's song;
Each having a white wicker, overbrimm'd
With April's tender younglings: next, well trimm’d,
A crowd of shepherds with as sunburnt looks
As may be read of in Arcadian books;
Such as sat listening round Apollo's pipe,
When the great deity, for earth too ripe,
Let his divinity o’erflowing die
In music, through the vales of Thessaly;
Some idly trail'd their sheep-hooks on the ground,
And some kept up a shrilly mellow sound
With ebon-tipped flutes: close after these,
Now coming from beneath the forest trees,
A venerable priest full soberly,
Begirt with ministering looks: alway his eye
Steadfast upon the matted turf he kept,
And after him his sacred vestments swept.
From his right hand there swung a vase, milk-white,
Of mingled wine, out-sparkling generous light;
And in his left he held a basket full
Of all sweet herbs that searching eye could cull:
Wild thyme, and valley-lilies whiter still
Than Leda’s love, and cresses from the rill.
His aged head, crowned with beechen wreath,
Seem'd like a poll of ivy in the teeth
Of winter hoar. Then came another crowd
Of shepherds, listing in due time aloud
Their share of the ditty. After them appear'd,
Up-follow’d by a multitude that rear'd
Their voices to the clouds, a fair wrought car
Easily rolling so as scarce to mar
The freedom of three steeds of dapple brown :
Who stood therein did seem of great renown .
Among the throng. His youth was fully blown,
Showing like Ganymede to manhood grown;
And, for those simple times, his garments were
A chieftain king's: beneath his breast, half bare,
Was hung a silver bugle, and between
His nervy knees there lay a boar-spear keen.
A smile was on his countenance; he seem’d
To common lookers-on, like one who dream'd
Of idleness in groves Elysian:
But there were some who feelingly could scan
A lurking trouble in his nether lip,
And see that oftentimes the reins would slip
Through his forgotten hands: then would they sigh,
And think of yellow leaves, of owlets’ cry,