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SKETCHES FROM THE ANTIQUE-FOURTH AND CONCLUDING SERIES.
BY MRS. JAMES GRAY.
Upon the mountain's ample brow
The mother with her children stands ;
The rocky wastes, the cultured lands.
O'er hill, and dale, and orchard fair ;
Her treasures are beside her there.
From babyhood to youth's bright glow,
From infant's grace to woman's charms,
The youngest nestling in her arms.
Hath swelled too near immortal pride ;-
She hath disparaged or decried.
Unshadowed yet by cares or fears,
That morning on the rocky mount,
Seven lovely girls her heart can count.
Afar the horizon's light deform;
Veileth for her a fatal storm.
It glooms, it bursts, a tempest wild ;
The frightened shepherds of the plain
Such sudden storm, such bursting rain.
Of summer thunder ; but that stir
What others deem the lightning's flash,
In fiery arrows round her flies-
The laugh of mocking deities ;
Like leaves shorn sudden by the wind ;
To such o'erwhelming woe her mind.
Dies with a low convulsive wail,
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,
Already stiffening into stone.
An honoured grave at last to fill :
The changed stands wildly weeping still.
Go to the mountain when the light
Of the full sunshine streameth down,
A rivulet trickling from its crown ;
Of mellowing moonlight, ye shall see,
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;
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 ;
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,
Midst the clustering vineyards, and beneath the cloudless skies.
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;
And pillowed on her shield.
That pressed upon her brow;
The unprisoned tresses flow.
Of the strong, but snowy hand,
The fingers they unclasp;
That filled its stiffening grasp.
Whence slow the dark blood flows,
They carefully unclose.
The spasm of the pain,
That wrung the suffering clay
From her face bath passed away.
One sole expression keep,
The maiden doth but sleep!
Leaning upon his sword,
With both his bloody hands,
The bold Achilles stands.
'Twas he who laid her low ;
Like lightning through the storm,
That marred her peerless form.
He feels his heart relent ;
Hath brought its punishment.
All sudden, o'er him swept,
The conquering hero wept.
« Oh, this had not been so,"
The heart-struck victor cried, “ If thou, one hour ago,
“ Hadst thine harness laid aside!
“ Thy beauty had been seen,
Thy captive I had been !
“ Bind up that fallen hair ;
“ Compose her fingers fair !
“ From a warrior's heart hath won ;
" ( matchless Amazon !"
curid's VISIT TO THE FORGE OF VULCAN.
Beneath the steepy mountain, with its mantling veil of snow,
His glossy hair hangs clustering above his laughing eyes,
He pauses by the lofty arch whence smoke comes circling forth,