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She stood: he pass'd, shut up in mysteries,
His mind wrapp'd like his mantle, while her eyes
Follow'd his steps, and her neck regal white
Turn’d—syllabling thus, « Ah, Lycius bright!
And will you leave me on the hills alone?
Lycius, look back' and be some pity shown."
He did; not with cold wonder fearingly,
But Orpheus-like at an Eurydice;
For so delicious were the words she sung,
It seem'd he had loved them a whole summer long :
And soon his eyes had drunk her beauty up,
Leaving no drop in the bewildering cup,
And still the cup was full,—while he, afraid
Lest she should vanish ere his lip had paid
Due adoration, thus began to adore;
Her soft look growing coy, she saw his chain so sure:
• Leave thee alone! Look back! Ah, Goddess, see
Whether my eyes can ever turn from thee!
For pity do not this sad heart belie—
Even as thou vanishest so I shall die.
Stay! though a Naiad of the rivers, stay!
To thy far wishes will thy streams obey:
Stay! though the greenest woods be thy domain,
Alone they can drink up the morning rain :
Though a descended Pleiad, will not one
Of thine harmonious sisters keep in tune
Thy spheres, and as thy silver proxy shine?
So sweetly to these ravish'd ears of mine
Came thy sweet greeting, that if thou shouldst fade
Thy memory will waste me to a shade:–
For pity do not melt!--. If I should stay,"
Said Lamia, . here, upon this floor of clay,
And pain my steps upon these flowers too rough,
What canst thou say or do of charin enough
To dull the nice remembrance of my home?
Thou canst not ask me with thee here to roam
Over these hills and vales, where no joy is,
Empty of immortality and bliss'
Thou art a scholar, Lycius, and must know
That finer spirits cannot breathe below
In human climes, and live: Alas' poor youth,
What taste of purer air hast thou to soothe
My essence? What serener palaces,
Where I may all my many senses please,
And by mysterious sleights a hundred thirsts appease?
It cannot be—Adieu's So said, she rose
Tiptoe with white arms spread. Ile, sick to lose
The amorous promise of her lone complain,
Swoon'd, murmuring of love, and pale with pain.
The cruel lady, without any show
Of sorrow for her tender favourite's woe,
But rather, if her eyes could brighter be,
With brighter eyes and slow amenity,
Put her new lips to his, and gave afresh
The life she had so tangled in her mesh :
And as he from one trance was wakening
Into another, she began to sing,
Happy in beauty, life, and love, and every thing,
A song of love, too sweet for earthly lyres,
While, like held breath, the stars drew in their panting
And then she whisper'd in such trembling tone,
As those who, safe together met alone
For the first time through many anguish'd days,
Use other speech than looks; bidding him raise
His drooping head, and clear his soul of doubt,
For that she was a woman, and without
Any more subtle fluid in her veins
Than throbbing blood, and that the self-same pains
Inhabited her frail-strung heart as his.
And next she wonder'd how his eyes could mis
Her face so long in Corinth, where, she said,
She dwelt but half retired, and there had led
Days happy as the gold coin could invent
Without the aid of love; yet in content
Till she saw him, as once she pass'd him by,
Where 'gainst a column he leant thoughtfully
At Venus' temple porch, 'mid baskets heap'd
Of amorous herbs and flowers, newly reap'd
Late on that eve, as 't was the night before
The Adonian feast; whereof she saw no more,
But wept alone those days, for why should she aim
Lycius from death awoke into amate,
To see her still, and singing so sweet lays;
Then from amaze into delight he fell
To hear her whisper woman's lore so well;
And every word she spake enticed him on
To unperplex'd delight and pleasure known.
Let the mad poets say whate'er they please
Of the sweets of Fairies, Peris, Goddesses,
There is not such a treat among them all,
Haunters of cavern, lake, and waterfall,
As a real woman, lineal indeed
From Pyrrha's pebbles or old Adam's seed.
Thus gentle Lamia judged, and judged arolt,
That Lycius could not love in half a fright,
So threw the goddess off, and won his heart
More pleasantly by playing woman's part,
With no more awe than what her beauty gave,
That, while it smote, still guaranteed to save.
Lycius to all made eloquent reply,
Marrying to every word a twin-born sigh;
And last, pointing to Corinth, ask d her sweet
If 't was too far that night for her soft feet.
The way was short, for Lamia's eagerness
Made, by a spell, the triple league decrease
To a few paces; not at all surmised
By blinded Lycius, so in her comprised
They pass'd the city gates, he knew not low,
So noiseless, and he never thought to know.
While yet he spake they had arrived before A pillar'd porch, with lofty portal door, Where hung a silver lamp, whose phosphor glow Reflected in the slabbed steps below, Mild as a star in water; for so new, And so unsullied was the marble hue, So through the crystal polish, liquid fine, Ran the dark veins, that none but feet divine Could eer have touch'd there. Sounds Eolian Breathed from the hinges, as the ample span Of the wide doors disclosed a place unknown Some time to any, but those two alone, And a few Persian mutes, who that same year Were seen about the markets: none knew where They could inhabit; the most curious Were foil'd, who watch'd to trace them to their house: And but the flitter-winged verse must tell, For truth's sake, what woe afterwards befel, T would humour many a heart to leave them thus, Shut from the busy world of more incredulous.
Love in a hut, with water and a crust,
Is—Love, forgive us!—cinders, ashes, dust;
Love in a palace is perhaps at last
More grievous torment than a hermit's fast:-
That is a doubtful tale from faery land,
Hard for the non-elect to understand.
Had Lycius lived to hand his story down,
He might have given the moral a fresh frown,
Or clench'd it quite; but too short was their bliss
To breed distrust and hate, that make the soft voice hiss.
Besides, there, nightly, with terrific glare,
Love, jealous grown of so complete a pair.
Hover'd and buzz'd his wings, with fearful roar,
Above the lintel of their chamber door,
And down the passage cast a glow upon the floor.
For all this came a ruin: side by side They were enthroned, in the even tide, Upon a couch, near to a curtaining Whose airy texture, from a golden string, Floated into the room, and let appear Unveil'd the summer heaven, blue and clear, Betwixt two marble shafts:—there they reposed, Where use had made it sweet, with eyelids closed, Saving a tythe which love still open kept, That they might see each other while they almost slept; When from the slope side of a suburb hill, Deafening the swallow's twitter, came a thrill Of trumpets–Lycius started—the sounds sled, But left a thought, a buzzing in his head.
For the first time, since first he harbour'd in
That purple-lined palace of sweet sin,
His spirit pass'd beyond its golden bourn
into the noisy world almost forsworn.
The lady, ever watchful, penetrant,
Saw this with pain, so arguing a want
Of something more, more than her empery
Of joys; and she began to moan and sigh
Because he mused beyond her, knowing well
That but a moment's thought is passion's passing bell.
• Why do you sigh, fair creature?» whisper'd he:
“Why do you think?» return'd she tenderly:
« You have deserted me; where am I now?
Not in your heart while care weighs on your brow:
No, no, you have dismiss'd me; and I go
From your breast houseless: ay, it must be so.”
He answerd, bending to her open eyes,
Where he was mirror'd small in paradise,_
• My silver planet, both of eve and morn!
Why will you plead yourself so sad forlorn,
While I am striving how to fill my heart
With deeper crimson, and a double smart?
How to entangle, trammel up and snare
Your soul in mine, and labyrinth you there,
Like the hid scent in an unbudded rose?
Ay, a sweet kiss—you see your mighty woes.
My thoughts! shall I unveil them? Listen then!
What mortal hath a prize, that other men
May be confounded and abash'd withal,
But lets it sometimes pace abroad majestical,
And triumph, as in thee I should rejoice
Amid the hoarse alarm of Corinth's voice.
Let my foes choke, and my friends shout afar,
While through the thronged streets your bridal car
Wheels round its dazzling spokes.”—The lady's cheek
Trembled; she nothing said, but, pale and meek,
Arose and knelt before him, wept a rain
Of sorrows at his words; at last with pain
Beseeching him, the while his hand she wrung,
To change his purpose. He thereat was stung,
Perverse, with stronger fancy to reclaim
tler wild and timid nature to his aim;
Besides, for all his love, in self despite,
Against his better self, he took delight
Luxurious in her sorrows, soft and new.
His passion, cruel grown, took on a hue
Fierce and sanguineous as 't was possible
In one whose brow had no dark veins to swell.
Fine was the mitigated fury, like
Apollo's presence when in act to strike
The serpent—Ha, the serpent! certes, she
Was none. She burnt, she loved the tyranny,
And, all subdued, consented to the hour
When to the bridal he should lead his paramour.
Whispering in midnight silence, said the youth,
• Sure some sweet name thou hast, though, by my truth,
I have not ask'd it, ever thinking thee
Not mortal, but of heavenly progeny,
As still I do. Hast any mortal name,
Fit appellation for this dazzling frame?
Or friends or kinsfolk on the citied earth,
To share our marriage feast and nuptial mirth?"
- I have no friends,” said Lamia, “ no, not one;
My presence in wide Corinth hardly known:
My parents' bones are in their dusty urns
Sepulchred, where no kindled incense burns,
Seeing all their luckless race are dead, save me,
And I neglect the holy rite for thee.
Even as you list invite your many guests;
But if, as now it seems, your vision rests
with any pleasure on me, do not bid
Old Apollonius--from him keep me hid."
Lycius, perplex'd at words so blind and blank,
Made ciose inquiry; from whose touch she shrank,
Feigning a sleep; and he to the dull shade
of deep sleep in a moment was betray d.
It was the custom then to bring away The bride from home at blushing shut of day, Veild, in a chariot, heralded along By strewn flowers, torches, and a marriage song. With other pageants: but this fair unknown Had not a friend. So being left alone (Lycius was gone to summon all his kin), And knowing surely she could never win His foolish heart from its mad pompousness, She set herself, high-thoughted, how to dress The misery in fit magnificence. She did so, but "t is doubtful how and whence Came, and who were her subtle servitors. About the halls, and to and from the doors, There was a noise of wings, till in short space
The glowing banquet-room shone with wide-arched grace.
A haunting music, sole perhaps and lone
Supportress of the faery-roof, made moan
Throughout, as fearful the whole charm might fade
Fresh carved cedar, mimicking a glade
Of palm and plantain, met from either side,
High in the midst, in honour of the bride:
Two palms and then two plantains, and so on,
From either side their stems branch done to one
All down the aisled place; and beneath all
There ran astream of lamps straighton from wall towall.
So canopied, lay an untasted feast
Teeming with odours. Lamia, regal drest,
Silently paced about, and as she went,
In pale contented sort of discontent,
Mission'd her viewless servants to enrich
The fretted splendour of each nook and niche.
Between the tree-stems, marbled plain at first,
Came jasper pannels; then, anon, there burst
Forth creeping imagery of slighter trees,
And with the larger wove in small intricacies.
Approving all, she faded at self-will,
And shut the chamber up, close, hush'd and still,
Complete and ready for the revels rude,
When dreadful guests would come to spoil her solitude.
The day appeard, and all the gossip rout. O senseless Lycius' Madman! wherefore flout The silent-blessing fate, warm cloister'd hours, And show to common eyes these secret bowers? The herd approach'd; each guest, with busy brain, Arriving at the portal, gazed amain, And enter'd marveling: for they knew the street, Remember'd it from childhood all complete Without a gap, yet ne'er before had seen That royal porch, that high-built fair demesne; So in they hurried all, mazed, curious and keen : Save one, who look d thereon with eye scvere, And with calm-planted steps walk'd in austere;
He met within the murmurous vestibule
His young disciple. - T is no common rule,
Lycius,” said he, . for uninvited guest
To force himself upon you, and infest
with an unbidden presence the bright throng
of younger friends; yet must I do this wrong,
And you forgive me.- Lycius blush'd, and led The old man through the inner doors broad-pro, with reconciling words and courteous mien
Turning into sweet milk the sophist's spleen
of wealthy lustre was the banquet-room, Fill'd with pervading brilliance and perfume Before each lucid pannel fuming stood A censer fed with myrrh and spiced wood, Each by a sacred tripod held aloft, whose slender feet wide-swerved upon the of wool-woofed carpets: fifty wreaths of smoke From fifty censers their light voyage took To the high roof, still mimick'd as they rose Along the mirror'd walls by twin-clouds odoro Twelve sphered tables, by silk seats insphered, High as the level of a man's breast rear'd | On libbard's paws, upheld the heavy gold of cups and goblets, and the store thrice told of Ceres' horn, and, in huge vessels, wine Came from the gloomy tun with merry shur | Thus loaded with a feast the table stood, | Each shrining in the midst the image of a C*
when in an antechamber every one
Had felt the cold full sponge to pleasure pro"
By ministring slaves, upon his hands and to
And fragrant oils with ceremony meet |Pour'd on his hair, they all moved to the feast in white robes, and themselves in order placed | Around the silken couches, wondering ico
whence all this mighty cost and blue of *
Soft went the music the soft air alons, While fluent Greek a vowel'd under-oo! kept up among the guests, discoursing" At first, for scarcely was the wine at low: But when the happy vintage touch'd their brun', Louder they talk, and louder come the strains of powerful instruments:—the gorge" dyes. The space, the splendour of the draper* The roof of awful richness, nectarous ch". | Beautiful slaves, and Lamia's self, appo". |Now, when the wine has done it. " deed, And every soul from human tramino” freed, No more so strange; for merry wine, "" wite, | Will make Elysian shades not too fair." divine. Soon was God Bacchus at meridian hot". 4. 'Flush'd were their cheeks, and brighte" Garlands of every green, and every “" From vales deflower d, or forest-tre” branch-on' In baskets of bright osier'd gold were brough | High as the handles heap'd, to suit * though
Of every guest; that each, as he did please,
Might fancy-fit his brows, silk-pillow'd at his ease.
What wreath for Lamia? What for Lycius! What for the sage, old Apollonius: Upon her aching forehead be there hung The leaves of willow and of adder's tongue; And for the youth, quick, let us strip for him The thyrsus, that his watching eyes may swim Into forgetfulness; and, for the sage, Let spear-brass and the spiteful thistle wage War on his temples. Do not all charms fly At the mere touch of cold philosophy? There was an awful rainbow once in heaven: We know her woof, her texture; she is given In the dull catalogue of common things. Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings, Conquer all mysteries by rule and line, Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine— Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made The tender-person'd Lamia melt into a shade.
pride. Lycius then press'd her hand, with devout touch, As pale it lay upon the rosy couch: "T was icy, and the cold ran through his veins; Then sudden it grew hot, and all the pains Of an unnatural heat shot to his heart. • Lamia, what means this? Wherefore dost thou start? Know'st thou that man to Poor Lamia answer'd not. He gazed into her eyes, and not a jot Own'd they the lovelorn piteous appeal: More, more he gazed: his human senses reel: Some hungry spell that loveliness absorbs; There was no recognition in those orbs. • Lamia!, he cried—and no soft-toned reply. The many heard, and the loud revelry Grew hush; the stately music no more breathes; | The myrtle sicken'd in a thousand wreaths. By faint degrees, voice, lute, and pleasure ceased; A deadly silence step by step increased, Until it seem'd a horrid presence there, And not a man but felt the terror in his hair. • Lamia on he shriek'd; and nothing but the shriek With its sad echo did the silence break. • Begone, foul dream!» he cried, gazing again In the bride's face, where now no azure vein
Wander'd on fair-spaced temples; no soft bloom
Misted the cheek; no passion to illume
The deep-recessed vision:—all was blight;
Lamia, no longer fair, there sat a deadly white.
“Shut, shut those juggling eyes, thou ruthless man!
Turn them aside, wretch! or the righteous ban
Of all the Gods, whose dreadful images
Here represent their shadowy presences,
May pierce them on the sudden with the thorn
Of painful blindness; leaving thee forlorn,
In trenbling dotage to the feeblest fright
Of conscience, for their long offended might,
For all thine impious proud-heart sophistries,
Unlawful magic, and enticing lies.
Corinthians' look upon that grey-beard wretch!
Mark how, possess'd, his lashless eyelids stretch
Around his demon eyes! Corinthians, see!
My sweet bride withers at their potency.”
• Fool!" said the sophist, in an under-tone
Gruff with contempt; which a death-nighing moan
From Lycius answer'd, as heart-struck and lost,
He sank supine beside the aching ghost.
• Fool' Fool's repeated he, while his eyes still
Helented not, nor moved; a from every ill
Of life have I preserved thee to this day,
And shall I see thee made a serpent's prey !
Then Lamia breathed death-breath; the sophist's eye,
Like a sharp spear, went through her utterly,
Keen, cruel, perceant, stinging: she, as well
As her weak hand could any meaning tell,
Motion'd him to be silent; vainly so,
He look'd and look'd again a level–No!
• A Serpent!” echoed he; no sooner said,
Than with a frightful scream she vanished:
And Lycius' arms were empty of delight,
As were his limbs of life, from that same night.
On the high couch he lay!—his friends came round—
Supported him—no pulse, or breath they found,
And, in its marriage robe, the heavy body wound."
* - Philostratus, in his fourth book de Vita Apollon;i, hath a memorable instance in this kind, which I may not omit, of one Monippus Lycius, a young man twenty-five years of age, that going betwixt Ceuchreas and Corinth, met such a phantasm in the habit of a fair gentlewoman, which taking him by the hand, carried him home to her house, in the suburbs of Corinth, and told him she was a Phoenician by birth, and it he would tarry with her, he should hear her sing and play, and drink such wine as never any drank, and no man should molest him; but she, being fair and lovely, would die with him, that was fair and lovely to behold. The young man, a philosopher, otherwise staid and discreet, able to moderate his passions, though not this of love, tarried with her a while to his great content, and at last married her, to whose wedding, amongst other guests, came Apollonius; who, by some probable conjectures, found her out to be a serpent, a lamia ; and that all her furniture was, like Tantalus' gold, described by Homer, no substance but mere illusions. When she saw herself descried, she wept, and desired Apollonius to be silent, but he would not be moved, and thereupon she, plate, house, and all that was in it, vanished it an instant: many thousands took notice of this fact, for it was done in the midst of Greece. --Bchiox's Anatomy of Melancholy, Part 3, Sect. 2, Memb, I, Subs. I.