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Woe! woe To That Endymion! Where Is He ?—
Even these words went echoing dismally
Through the wide forest—a most fearful tone,
Like one repenting in his latest moan;
And while it died away a shade pass'd by,
As of a thunder-cloud. When arrows fly
Through the thick branches, poor ring-doves sleek forth
Their timid necks and tremble; so these both
Leant to each other trembling, and sat so
Waiting for some destruction—when lo!
Foot-feather'd Mercury appear'd sublime
Beyond the tall tree tops ; and in less time
Than shoots the slanted hail-storm, down he dropp'd
Towards the ground ; but rested not, nor stopp'd
One moment from his home : only the sward
He with his wand light touch'd, and heavenward
Swifter than sight was gone—even before
The teeming earth a sudden witness bore
Of his swift magic. Diving swans appear
Above the crystal circlings white and clear;
And catch the cheated eye in wild surprise,
How they can dive in sight and unseen rise—
So from the turf outsprang two steeds jet-black,
Each with large dark blue wings upon his back.
The youth of Caria placed the lovely dame
On one, and felt himself in spleen to tame
The other's fierceness. Through the air they flew,
High as the eagles. Like two drops of dew
Exhaled to Pheebus' lips, away they are gone,
Far from the earth away—unseen, alone,
Among cool clouds and winds, but that the free,
The buoyant life of song can Boating be
Above their heads, and follow them untired.
Muse of my native land ! am I inspired?
This is the giddy air, and I must spread
Wide pinions to keep here ; nor do I dread
Or height, or depth, or width, or any chance
Precipitous: I have beneath my glance
Those towering horses and their mournful freight.
Could I thus sail, and see, and thus await
Fearless for power of thought, without thine aid?
There is a sleepy dusk, an odorous shade
From some approaching wonder, and behold
Those winged steeds, with snorting nostrils bold
Snuff at its faint extreme, and seem to tire,
There curl'd a purple mist around them ; soon)
These raven horses, though they foster'd are Of earth's splenetic fire, dully drop Their full-vein'd ears, nostrils blood wide, and stop; Upon the spiritless mist have they outspread Their ample feathers, are in slumber dead,— And on those pinions, level in mid-air, Endymion sleepeth and the lady fair. Slowly they sail, slowly as icy isle Upon a calm sea drifting: and meanwhile
The mournful wanderer dreams. Behold! he walks
On heaven's pavement, brotherly he talks
To divine powers: from his hand full fain
Juno's proud birds are pecking pearly grain:
He tries the nerve of Phoebus' golden bow,
And asketh where the golden apples grow:
Upon his arm he braces Pallas' shield,
And strives in vain to unsettle and wield
A Jovian thunderbolt: arch Hebe brings
A full-brimm'd goblet, dances lightly, sings
And tantalises long ; at last he drinks,
And lost in pleasure, at her feet he sinks,
Touching with dazzled lips her star-light hand,
He blows a bugle,—an ethereal band
Are visible above: the Seasons four,—
Green-kirtled Spring, flush Summer, golden store
In Autumn's sickle, Winter frosty hoar,
Join dance with shadowy Hours; while still the blast,
In swells unmitigated, still doth last
To sway their floating morris. "Whose is this?
Whose bugle I" he inquires: they smile —" O Dis!
Why is this mortal here? Dost thou not know
Its mistress' lips? Not thou ?—'T is Dian's: lo!
She rises crescented!" He looks, 't is she,
His very goddess : good-bye earth, and sea,
And air, and pains, and care, and suffering;
Good-bye to all but love! Then doth he spring
Towards her, and awakes—and, strange, o'erhead, ,
Of those same fragrant exhalations bred,
Beheld awake his very dream : the gods
Stood smiling; merry Hebe laughs and nods;
And Phoebe bends towards him crescented.
O state perplexing! On the pinion bed,
Too well awake, he feels the panting side
Of his delicious lady. He who died
For soaring too audacious in the sun,
Where that same treacherous wax began to run,
Felt not more tongue-tied than Endymion.
His heart leapt up as to its rightful throne,
To that fair-shadow'd passion pulsed its way—
Ah, what perplexity! Ah, well a-day!
So fond, so beauteous was his bed-fellow,
He could not help but kiss her: then he grew
Awhile forgetful of all beauty save
Young Phoebe's, golden-hair'd; and so 'gan crave
Forgiveness: yet he turned once more to look
At the sweet sleeper,—all his soul was shook,—
She press'd his hand in slumber; so once more
He could not help but kiss her and adore.
At this the shadow wept, melting away.
The Latmian started up : " Bright goddess, stay!
Search my most hidden breast! By truth's own tongue,
I have no dsedale heart: why is it wrung
To desperation? Is there nought for me,
Upon the bourne of bliss, but misery 1"
These words awoke the stranger of dark tresses:
I do, I do What is this soul then? Whence
Came it? It does not seem my own, and I
Have no self-passion or identity.
Some fearful end must be; where, where is it i
By Nemesis! I see my spirit flit
Alone about the dark—Forgive me, sweet!
Shall we away!" He roused the steeds; they beat
Their wings chivalrous into the clear air,
Leaving old Sleep within his vapoury lair.
The good-night blush of eve was waning slow,
So witless of their doom, that verily
Full facing their swift flight, from ebon streak,
There lies a den,