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SKETCHES FROM THE ANTIQUE-FOURTH AND CONCLUDING SERIES.

BY MRS. JAMES GRAY.

NIOBE.

Upon the mountain's ample brow

The mother with her children stands ;
They gaze upon the scene below,

The rocky wastes, the cultured lands.
Young eyes delighted, wander wide

O'er hill, and dale, and orchard fair ;
Hers hath a more concentrate pride ;

Her treasures are beside her there.

From babyhood to youth's bright glow,

From infant's grace to woman's charms,
She sees them gambol round her now,

The youngest nestling in her arms.
Forgive her, Gods ! if mother love

Hath swelled too near immortal pride ;-
Forgive her, if your joys above

She hath disparaged or decried.

Unshadowed yet by cares or fears,

That morning on the rocky mount,
Seven hardy boys of varying years,

Seven lovely girls her heart can count.
She does not mark the rising cloud

Afar the horizon's light deform;
She dreams not that its murky shroud

Veileth for her a fatal storm.

It glooms, it bursts, a tempest wild ;

The frightened shepherds of the plain
Thought not of such this morning mild,

Such sudden storm, such bursting rain.
To them 'tis but a fearful hour

Of summer thunder ; but that stir
The matron knows enfolds the

power
Of vengeful gods, let loose on her.

What others deem the lightning's flash,

In fiery arrows round her flies-
She heareth in the thunder-crash

The laugh of mocking deities ;
And round her falls that clustering group,

Like leaves shorn sudden by the wind ;
She cannot shriek_she scarce can stoop

To such o'erwhelming woe her mind.
But when the infant near her heart

Dies with a low convulsive wail,
Then do her arms asunder start-

Then back she rends her flowing veil.

“ One arrow more! one other dart

“In mercy through this naked breast ! “So with the loved shall I depart,

“And sudden grief have sudden rest."

It may not be, and still she stands

Amidst her fallen hopes alone,
With streaming eyes and clasping hands,

Already stiffening into stone.
Days pass, the dead are borne away,

An honoured grave at last to fill :
She followeth not the precious clay-

The changed stands wildly weeping still.

Go to the mountain when the light

Of the full sunshine streameth down,
A rocky pillar meets your sight,

A rivulet trickling from its crown ;
But in the twilight, or the beam

Of mellowing moonlight, ye shall see,
As through the shadowing of a dream,

This is the stricken Niobe.

THE FLIGHT OF DADALUS AND ICARUS,

In the mazy labyrinth which his own design had planted,

Suffering for the evil deeds by his connivance done, Like some weird magician kept within a cell enchanted,

Captive lay the cunning Greek, companioned by his son.

Destined for their prison was a small and curious chanıber,

Seven-sided, seven doors, and seven windows round;
Yet in vain the captives to each window-niche might clamber,

Which would ope with hinge and latch was scarcely to be found.

Even to the builder of that labyrinth surprising,

The entrances and windings his cunning skill surpassed ; Only by their watching of the bright sun at his rising,

And marking how his beams went round they found the way at last.

Yet with dauntless brow, and a courage never shaken,

Dædalus the sire kept still entrenched his heart, Never did so vigorously his scheming spirit waken,

As when so loudly called upon to exercise his art.

Pondering on his hopes and fears, with brows all sternly knitted,

For hours and hours, his teeming brain gave birth to many a shape ; Images of liberty, of watchful guards outwitted,

And all the plans that seemed to give a promise of escape.

But Icarus, the guiltless son, with head all sadly stooping,

On his hand his pallid cheek, would sit the livelong day, In the prison labyrinth too long inactive drooping,

Longing for the woods, and hills, and waters far away.

If he roused a moment, 'twas to climb unto the casement,

Drinking in the prospect of the rocks and distant sea ; Then to turn again with looks of sorrowful amazement,

That even his soul, one moment, could go forth so glad and free.

They are framed, those curious wings, unquestioned and unchidden,

All the means of speedy flight are thus at last securedIcarus can scarcely keep his joy's o’erflowing hidden;

Dædalus knows well how much hath yet to be endured.

'Tis the earliest, greyest dawn—the island yet is folded

Deep in slumber ; even the guards sleep soundly at the doors ; Now are fixed those wondrous wings, so marvellously moulded,

And from the open window now their venturous framer soars. And taking courage from his flight through the untroubled ether,

The hesitating son unfolds his buoyant pinions too; Forth the fugitives have fared triumphantly together,

Marvelling how well they cleave that tideless ocean through. Higher still and higher have the freed-from-bondage risen,

Taking courage as they hold unchecked their onward flight; Now a speck amidst the hills appears their hated prison

Now amidst the distant haze hath vanished from their sight.

Still the early clouds of mist lie white around the mountains,

Scarce the freshening breath of morn the slumbering forest thrills-Nought disturbs the eternal sound of ever-gushing fountains,

And the morning star beholds her image in the rills. O'er the spicy myrtle groves a brooding scent is floating,

Of incense that through night's still hours from their recesses creepsOn the blue Ægean specks are here and there denoting

Where rocking in his anchored bark the weary fisher sleeps.

And o'er that blue Ægean, despite its vasty dangers,

The fearless voyagers hurry on, on wings that never flag ;
While the sea-eagle, curious, sweeps in circles round the strangers,

Then screaming dashes downwards to his eyrie on the crag.

Upwards glides the round red sun above the eastern billows,

Turning to gold the horizon's rim and heaving main beneath ; And greeting eyes of ocean nymphs upflashing from their pillows,

Make the waves glitter as at noon, when sweeps the zephyr's breath. Not a mist or cloud is left to promise shade or shower-

Pilgrims of the air to you such shadow were a boon; Onward with your utmost speed before the sun hath power!

Wings like yours have cause to dread the burning test of noon.

Now the distant shores of Crete fade to a cloud behind them ;

Faintly outlined far before another country lies,
There a refuge and a home, the fugitives may find them,

Midst the clustering vineyards, and beneath the cloudless skies.
As the racer to the goal, the father onward presses,

Nor sees, at first, less cheerily his comrade keeps his way; It is not that a feeble heart the gentle youth possesses,

'Tis no capricious lingering that causeth this delay.

But a thousand sudden fears have risen to assail him,

As the hot radiance of the sun more hotly pours around; Already he begins to feel those wings untimely fail him

Already casts an eye of dread down to the blue profound.

Ah! no groundless fears are these ; already those false pinions

Slide away, and downward dives the victim to the wave, Caught perchance by ocean-nymphs to Neptune's own dominions,

But never seen to rise again above that crystal grave.

Vainly in Italia's land the father builds an altar

To the great Apollo's name, that wondering crowds admire ; Still he sees that graceful youth on faithless pinions falter

Still their waxen sinews melt before the day-god's fire.

Vainly in Sicilian courts the artist wise is cherished

For the busy marvels wrought by active hand and brainStill his soul regretfully remembers him who perished

In the 'whelming waters of the blue Ægean main.

ACHILLES CONTEMPLATING THE CORPSE OF PENTHESILEA.

They have lifted up the dead,

From the gory battle-field;
Raised is her graceful head,

And pillowed on her shield.
The helmet is unlaced,

That pressed upon her brow;
And down, even to her rounded waist,

The unprisoned tresses flow.

Of the strong, but snowy hand,

The fingers they unclasp;
They have loosed the broken brand,

That filled its stiffening grasp.
And the corslet on her breast,

Whence slow the dark blood flows,
As if she felt how hard it pressed,

They carefully unclose.

The spasm of the pain,

That wrung the suffering clay
At the moment she was slain,

From her face bath passed away.
But that those features still,

One sole expression keep,
You might think, unscared by dreams of ill,

The maiden doth but sleep!

Leaning upon his sword,

With both his bloody hands,
The battle's fiery lord,

The bold Achilles stands.

'Twas he who laid her low ;

Like lightning through the storm,
His flashing falchion gave the blow,

That marred her peerless form.
Before her beauty's power,

He feels his heart relent ;
His crime, within the hour,

Hath brought its punishment.
Whilst pity, love, despair,

All sudden, o'er him swept,
Above that corse of beauty rare

The conquering hero wept.

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« Oh, this had not been so,"

The heart-struck victor cried, “ If thou, one hour ago,

“ Hadst thine harness laid aside!
« More powerful than thine arms,

“ Thy beauty had been seen,
And vanquished only by thy charms,

Thy captive I had been !
• Take from her helm and crest,

“ Bind up that fallen hair ;
“ And, on her bleeding breast,

“ Compose her fingers fair !
" Thou more than shield or spear

“ From a warrior's heart hath won ;
“ For thou hast brought from its depths a tear,

" ( matchless Amazon !"

curid's VISIT TO THE FORGE OF VULCAN.

Beneath the steepy mountain, with its mantling veil of snow,
And belt of everlasting pines, he sees the furnace glow;
He hears a distant murmur, like the sound of rolling waves,
That rush upon a rocky beach, and search its secret caves ;
He hath left the rosy bowers where his smiling mother dwells,
And all for sport that he may see his father's gloomy cells —
The caverns where, by night and day, still sounds the loud turmoil,
And where without or stop or stay the swarthy Cyclops toil.

His glossy hair hangs clustering above his laughing eyes,
Where the concentred radiance of the summer noon-day lies ;
His rosy lip is archly curled, dimpled his cheek with mirth,
And his warm, plumy wings are furled as he glides along the earth ;
And though so rugged is his path, strewn with sharp stone and thorn,
'Though naked, his immortal feet can travel on untorn,
And the hot vapour, hovering round with pestilential breath,
Bears to his guarded pulse no blight of sickness or of death.

He pauses by the lofty arch whence smoke comes circling forth,
An entrance that was never found by ought of mortal birth ;
He hears the ringing of the strokes that on the anvil fall,
He hears the swart slave's shouting, and his father's louder call;

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