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The cruel lady, without any show

Of sorrow for her tender favourite's woe,

But rather, if her eyes could brighter be,

With brighter eyes and slow amenity,

Put her new lips to his, and gave afresh

The life she had so tangled in her mesh:

And as he from one trance was wakening

Into another, she began to sing,

Happy in beauty, life, and love, and everything,

A song of love, too sweet for earthly lyres,

While, like held breath, the stars drew in their panting fires.

And then she whisper'd in such trembling tone,

As those who, safe together met alone

For the first time through many anguish'd days,

Use other speech than looks; bidding him raise

His drooping head, and clear his soul of doubt,

For that she was a woman, and without

Any more subtle fluid in her veins

Than throbbing blood, and that the self-same pains

Inhabited her frail-strung heart as his.

And next she wonder'd how his eyes could miss

Her face, so long in Corinth, where, she said,

She dwelt but half retired, and there had led

Days happy as the gold coin could invent

Without the aid of love ; yet in content

Till she saw him, as once she pass'd him by,

Where 'gainst a column he leant thoughtfully

At Venus' temple porch, 'mid baskets heap'd

Of amorous herbs and flowers, newly reap'd

Late on that eve, as 't was the night before

The Adonian feast; whereof she saw no more,

But wept alone those days, for why should she adore?

Lycius from death awoke into amaze,

To see her still, and singing so sweet lays;

Then from amaze into delight he fell

To hear her whisper woman's lore so well;

And every word she spake enticed him on

To unperplex'd delight and pleasure known.

Let the mad poets say whate'er they please

Of the sweets of Fairies, Peris, Goddesses,

There is not such a treat among them all,

Haunters of cavern, lake, and waterfall,

As a real woman, lineal indeed

From Pyrrha's pebbles or old Adam's seed.

Thus gentle Lamia judged, and judged aright,
That Lucius could not love in half a fright,
So threw the goddess off, and won his heart
More pleasantly by playing woman's part,
With no more awe than what her beauty gave,
That, while it smote, still guaranteed to save.
Lycius to all made eloquent reply,
Marrying to every word a twin-born sigh;
And last, pointing to Corinth, ask'd her sweet,
If 't was too far that night for her soft feet.
The way was short, for Lamia's eagerness
Made, by a spell, the triple league decrease
To a few paces; not at all surmised
By blinded Lycius, so in her comprised
They pass'd the city gates, he knew not how,
So noiseless, and he never thought to know.

As men talk in a dream, so Corinth all,
Throughout her palaces imperial,
And all her populous streets and temples lewd,
Mutter'd, like tempest in the distance brew'd,
To the wide-spreaded night above her towers.
Men, women, rich and poor, in the cool hours,
Shuffled their sandals o'er the pavement white,
Companion'd or alone ; while many a light
Flared, here and there, from wealthy festivals,
And threw their moving shadows on the walls,
Or found them clustered in the corniced shade
Of some arch'd temple door, or dusky colonnade.

Muffling his face, of greeting friends in fear,
Her fingers he press'd hard, as one came near
With curl'd grey beard, sharp eyes, and smooth bald crown,
Slow-stepp'd, and robed in philosophic gown:
Lycius shrank closer, as they met and past,
Into his mantle, adding wings to haste,
While hurried Lamia trembled : "Ah," said he,
"Why do you shudder, love, so ruefully?
Why does your tender palm dissolve in dew I"—
"I'm wearied," said fair Lamia : "tell me who
Is that old man? I cannot bring to mind
His features :—Lycius! wherefore did you blind
Yourself from his quick eye's i" Lucius replied,
"'T is Apollonius sage, my trusty guide

And good instructor; but to-night he seems
The ghost of folly haunting my sweet dreams."

While yet he spake they had arrived before
A pillar'd porch, with lofty portal door,
Where hung a silver lamp whose phosphor glow
Reflected in the slabbed steps below,
Mild as a star in water; for so new
And so unsullied was the marble hue,
So through the crystal polish, liquid fine,
Ran the dark veins, that none but feet divine
Could e'er have touch'd there. Sounds yEolian
Breathed from the hinges, as the ample span
Of the wide doors disclosed a place unknown
Some time to any, but those two alone,
And a few Persian mutes, who that same year
Were seen about the markets : none knew where
They could inhabit; the most curious
Were foil'd, who watch'd to trace them to their house:
And but the flitter-winged verse must tell,
For truth's sake, what woe afterwards befel,
'T would humour many a heart to leave them thus,
Shut from the busy world of more incredulous.

PART II.

Love in a hut, with water and a crust,

Is—Love, forgive us !—cinders, ashes, dust;

Love in a palace is perhaps at last

More grievous torment than a hermit's fast:—

That is a doubtful tale from faery land,

Hard for the non-elect to understand.

Had Lycius lived to hand his story down,

He might have given the moral a fresh frown,

Or clench'd it quite : but too short was their bliss

To breed distrust and hate, that make the soft voiceVhiss.

Besides, there, nightly, with terrific glare,

Love, jealous grown of so complete a pair,

Hover'd and buzz'd his wings, with fearful roar,

Above the lintel of their chamber door,

And down the passage cast a glow upon the floor.

For all this came a ruin : side by side They were enthroned, in the even tide, Upon a couch, near to a curtaining Whose airy texture, from a golden string, floated into the room, and let appear Unveil'd the summer heaven, blue and clear, Betwixt two marble shafts :—there they reposed, Where use had made it sweet, with eyelids closed, Saving a tithe which love still open kept, That they might see each other while they almost slept; When from the slope side of a suburb hill, Deafening the swallow's twitter, came a thrill Of trumpets—Lycius started—the sounds fled, But left a thought, a buzzing in his head. For the first time, since first he harbour'd in That purple-lined palace of sweet sin, His spirit pass'd beyond its golden bourn Into the noisy world almost forsworn. The lady, ever watchful, penetrant, Saw this with pain, so arguing a want

Of something more, more than her empery

Of joys; and she began to moan and sigh

Because he mused beyond her, knowing well

That but a moment's thought is passion's passing bell.

"Why do you sigh, fair creature?" whisper'd he:

"Why, do you think I" return'd she tenderly:

"You have deserted me ; where am I now?

Not in your heart while care weighs on your brow:

No, no, you have dismisa'd me; and I go

From your breast houseless : ay, it must be so."

He answer'd, bending to her open eyes,

Where he was mirror'd small in paradise,—

"My silver planet, both of eve and morn!

Why will you plead yourself so sad forlorn,

While I am striving how to fill my heart

With deeper crimson, and a double smart?

How to entangle, trammel up and snare

YoA- soul in mine, and labyrinth you there,

Like the hid scent in an unbudded rose?

Ay, a sweet kiss—you see your mighty woes.

"My thoughts! shall I unveil them? Listen then!

What mortal hath a prize, that other men

May be confounded and abash'd withal,

But lets it sometimes pace abroad majestical,

And triumph, as in thee I should rejoice

Amid the hoarse alarm of Corinth's voice.

Let my foes choke, and my friends shout afar,

While through the thronged streets your bridal car

Wheels round its dazzling spokes."—The lady's cheek

Trembled ; she nothing said, but, pale and meek,

Arose and knelt before him, wept a rain

Of sorrows at his words; at last with pain

Beseeching him, the while his hand she wrung,

To change his purpose. He thereat was stung,

Perverse, with stronger fancy to reclaim

Her wild and timid nature to his aim;

Besides, for all his love, in self despite,

Against his better self, he took delight

Luxurious in her sorrows, soft and new.

His passion, cruel grown, took on a hue

Fierce and sanguineous as't was possible

In one whose brow had no dark veins to swell.

Fine was the mitigated fury, like

Apollo's presence when in act to strike

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