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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;
From babyhood to youth's bright glow,
She hath disparaged or decried.
Unshadowed yet by cares or fears,
Afar the horizon's light deform;
It glooms, it bursts, a tempest wild ;-
Of summer thunder; but that stir
What others deem the lightning's flash,
The laugh of mocking deities;
But when the infant near her heart
Then do her arms asunder start
Then back she rends her flowing veil.
In the mazy labyrinth which his own design had planted,
Destined for their prison was a small and curious chamber,
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,
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,
In the prison labyrinth too long inactive drooping,
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,
Daedalus 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;
And taking courage from his flight through the untroubled ether,
Marvelling how well they cleave that tideless ocean through.
Higher still and higher have the freed-from-bondage risen,
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 creeps— On the blue Ægean specks are here and there denoting
Where rocking in his anchored bark the weary fisher sleeps.
And o'er that blue Egean, despite its vasty dangers,
The fearless voyagers hurry on, on wings that never flag;
Upwards glides the round red sun above the eastern billows,
Not a mist or cloud is left to promise shade or shower-
Onward with your utmost speed before the sun hath power!
Now the distant shores of Crete fade to a cloud behind them;
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 falterStill their waxen sinews melt before the day-god's fire.
Vainly in Sicilian courts the artist wise is cherished
ACHILLES CONTEMPLATING THE CORPSE OF PENTHESILEA.
They have lifted up the dead,
That pressed upon her brow;
And down, even to her rounded waist,
The unprisoned tresses flow.
Of the strong, but snowy hand,
They have loosed the broken brand,
And the corslet on her breast,
Whence slow the dark blood flows,
As if she felt how hard it pressed,
The spasm of the pain,
That wrung the suffering clay
At the moment she was slain,
From her face hath 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,
Before her beauty's power,
All sudden, o'er him swept,
"Oh, this had not been so,"
The heart-struck victor cried,
"If thou, one hour ago,
"Hadst thine harness laid aside!
"And vanquished only by thy charms,
"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,
CUPID'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,
And his warm, plumy wings are furled as he glides along the earth;
And the hot vapour, hovering round with pestilential breath,
He pauses by the lofty arch whence smoke comes circling forth,