Oldalképek
PDF

Old rusted anchors, helmets, breastplates large

Of gone sea-warriors ; brazen beaks and targe;

Rudders that for a hundred years had lost

The sway of human hand ; gold vase emboss'd

With long-forgotten story, and wherein

No reveller had ever dipp'd a chin

But those of Saturn's vintage ; mouldering scrolls,

Writ in the tongue of heaven, by those souls

Who first were on the earth ; and sculptures rude

In ponderous stone, developing the mood

Of ancient Nox;—then skeletons of man,

Of beast, behemoth, and leviathan,

And elephant, and eagle, and huge jaw

Of nameless monster. A cold leaden awe

These secrets struck into him ; and unless

Dian had chased away that heaviness,

He might have died : but now, with cheered feel,

He onward kept; wooing these thoughts to steal

About the labyrinth in his soul of love.

"What is there in thee, Moon! that thou shouldst move My heart so potently? When yet a child I oft have dried my tears when thou hast smiled. Thou seem'dst my sister: hand in hand we went From eve to morn across the firmament. No apples would I gather from the tree, Till thou hadst cool'd their cheeks deliciously: No tumbling water ever spake romance, But when my eyes with thine thereon could dance: No woods were green enough, no bower divine, Until thou lifted'st up thine eyelids fine: In sowing-time ne'er would I dibble take, Or drop a seed, till thou wast wide awake; And, in the summer-tide of blossoming, No one but thee hath heard me blithely sing And mesh my dewy flowers all the night. No melody was like a passing spright If it went not to solemnise thy reign. Yes, in my boyhood, every joy and pain By thee were fashion'd to the self-same end; And as I grew in years, still didst thou blend With all my ardours : thou wast the deep glen; Thou wast the mountain-top—the sage's pen— The poet's harp—the voice of friends—the sun;

Thou wast the river—thou wast glory won;

Thou wast my clarion'sblast—thou wast my steed—

My goblet full of wine—my topmost deed :—

Thou wast the charm of women, lovely Moon I

O what a wild and harmonised tune

My spirit struck from all the beautiful!

On some bright essence could I lean, and lull

Myself to immortality : I prest

Nature's soft pillow in a wakeful rest.

But gentle Orb ! there came a nearer bliss—

My strange love came—Felicity's abyss!

She came, and thou didst fade, and fade away—

Yet not entirely; no, thy starry sway

Has been an under-passion to this hour.

Now I begin to feel thine orby power

Is coming fresh upon me: O be kind!

Keep back thine influence, and do not blind

My sovereign vision.—Dearest love, forgive

That I can think away from thee and live !—

Pardon me, airy planet, that I prize

One thought beyond thine argent luxuries!

How far beyond I" At this a surprised start

Frosted the springing verdure of his heart;

For as he lifted up his eyes to swear

How his own goddess was past all things fair,

He saw far in the concave green of the sea

An old man sitting calm and peacefully.

Upon a weeded rock this old man sat,

And his white hair was awful, and a mat

Of weeds were cold beneath his cold thin feet;

And, ample as the largest winding-sheet,

A cloak of blue wrapp'd up his aged bones,

O'erwrought with symbols by the deepest groans

Of ambitious magic: every ocean-form

Was woven in with black distinctness; storm,

And calm, and whispering, and hideous roar

Were emblem'd in the woof; with every shape

That skims, or dives, or sleeps, 'twixt cape and cape.

The gulfing whale was like a dot in the spell,

Yet look upon it, and 't would size and swell

To its huge self; and the minutest fish

Would pass the very hardest gazer's wish,

And show his little eye's anatomy.

Then there was pictured the regality

Of Neptune ; and the sea-nymphs round his state,

In beauteous vassalage, look up and wait.

Beside this old man lay a pearly wand,

And in his lap a book, the which he conn'd

So steadfastly, that the new denizen

Had time to keep him in amazed ken,

To mark these shadowings, and stand in awe.

The old man raised his hoary head and saw
The wilder'd stranger—seeming not to see,
His features were so lifeless. Suddenly
He woke as from a trance ; his snow-white brows
Went arching up, and like two magic ploughs
Furrow'd deep wrinkles in his forehead large,
Which kept as fixedly as rocky marge,
Till round his wither'd lips had gone a smile.
Then up he rose, like one whose tedious toil
Had watched for years in forlorn hermitage,
Who had not from mid-life to utmost age
Eased in one accent his o'erburden'd soul,
Even to the trees. He rose: he grasp'd his stole,
With convulsed clenches waving it abroad,
And in a voice of solemn joy, that awed
Echo into oblivion, he said :—

"Thou art the man! Now shall I lay my head
In peace upon my watery pillow: now
Sleep will come smoothly to my weary brow,
O Jove! I shall be young again, be young!

O shell-borne Neptune, I am pierced and stung
With new-born life! What shall I do? Where go,
When I have cast this serpent-skin of woe ?—

I'll swim to the syrens, and one moment listen

Their melodies, and see their long hair glisten;

Anon upon that giant's arm I'll be,

That writhes about the roots of Sicily:

To northern seas I'll in a twinkling sail,

And mount upon the snortings of a whale

To some black cloud ; thence down I'll madly sweep

On forked lightning, to the deepest deep,

Where through some sucking pool I will be hurl'd

With rapture to the other side of the world!

O, I am full of gladness ! Sisters three,

I bow full-hearted to your old decree!

Yes, every god be thank'd, and power benign,

For I no more shall wither, droop, and pine.

Thou art the man!" Endymion started back

Dismay'd ; and like a wretch from whom the rack

Tortures hot breath, and speech of agony,

Mutter'd : "What lonely death am I to die

In this cold region ? Will he let me freeze,

And float my brittle limbs o'er polar seas?

Or will he touch me with his searing hand,

And leave a black memorial on the sand?

Or tear me piecemeal with a bony saw,

And keep me as a chosen food to draw

His magian fish through hated fire and flame?

O misery of hell ! resistless, tame,

Am I to be burn'd up? No, I will shout,

Until the gods through heaven's blue look out!—

O Tartarus! but some few days agone
Her soft arms were entwining me, and on

Her voice I hung like fruit among green leaves:
Her lips were all my own, and—ah, ripe sheaves
Of happiness ! ye on the stubble droop,
But never may be garner'd. I must stoop
My head, and kiss death's foot. Love! love, farewell!
Is there no hope from thee? This horrid spell
Would melt at thy sweet breath.—By Dian's hind
Feeding from her white fingers, on the wind

I see thy streaming hair! and now, by Pan,
I care not for this old mysterious man!"

He spake, and walking to that aged form,
Look'd high defiance. Lo! his heart 'gan warm
With pity, for the grey-hair'd creature wept.
Had he then wrong'd a heart where sorrow kept?
Had he, though blindly contumelious, brought
Rheum to kind eyes, a sting to human thought,
Convulsion to a mouth of many years?
He had in truth ; and he was ripe for tears.
The penitent shower fell, as down he knelt
Before that care-worn sage, who trembling felt
About his large dark locks, and faltering spake:

"Arise, good youth, for sacred Phoebus' sake!
I know thine inmost bosom, and I feel
A very brother's yearning for thee steal

Into mine own : for why ? thou openest

The prison-gates that have so long oppress'd

My weary watching. Though thou know'st it not,

Thou art commission'd to this fated spot

For great enfranchisement. O weep no more;

I am a friend to love, to loves of yore:

Ay, hadst thou never loved an unknown power,

I had been grieving at this joyous hour.

But even now, most miserable old,

I saw thee, and my blood no longer cold

Gave mighty pulses : in this tottering case

Grew a new heart, which at this moment plays

As dancingly as thine. Be not afraid,

For thou shalt hear this secret all display'd,

Now as we speed towards our joyous task."

So saying, this young soul in age's mask Went forward with the Carian side by side: Resuming quickly thus; while ocean's tide Hung swollen at their backs, and jewell'd sands Took silently their foot-prints.

"My soul stands Now past the midway from mortality, And so I can prepare without a sigh To tell thee briefly all my joy and pain. I was a fisher once, upon this main, And my boat danced in every creek and bay; Rough billows were my home by night and day,— The sea-gulls not more constant; for I had No housing from the storm and tempests mad, But hollow rocks,—and they were palaces Of silent happiness, of slumberous ease: Long years of misery have told me so. Ay, thus it was one thousand years ago. One thousand years !—Is it then possible To look so plainly through them? to dispel A thousand years with backward glance sublime? To breathe away as 't were all scummy slime From off a crystal pool, to see its deep, And one's own image from the bottom peep t Yes : now I am no longer wretched thrall, My long captivity and moanings all

« ElőzőTovább »