Endymion: Book III


    There are who lord it o'er their fellow-men
    With most prevailing tinsel: who unpen
    Their baaing vanities, to browse away
    The comfortable green and juicy hay
    From human pastures; or, O torturing fact!
    Who, through an idiot blink, will see unpack'd
    Fire-branded foxes to sear up and singe
    Our gold and ripe-ear'd hopes. With not one tinge
    Of sanctuary splendour, not a sight
    Able to face an owl's, they still are dight
    By the blear-eyed nations in empurpled vests,
    And crowns, and turbans. With unladen breasts,
    Save of blown self-applause, they proudly mount
    To their spirit's perch, their being's high account,
    Their tiptop nothings, their dull skies, their thrones
    Amid the fierce intoxicating tones
    Of trumpets, shoutings, and belabour'd drums,
    And sudden cannon. Ah! how all this hums,
    In wakeful ears, like uproar past and gone
    Like thunder clouds that spake to Babylon,
    And set those old Chaldeans to their tasks.
    Are then regalities all gilded masks?
    No, there are throned seats unscalable
    But by a patient wing, a constant spell,
    Or by ethereal things that, unconfin'd,
    Can make a ladder of the eternal wind,
    And poise about in cloudy thunder-tents
    To watch the abysm-birth of elements.
    Aye, 'bove the withering of old-lipp'd Fate
    A thousand Powers keep religious state,
    In water, fiery realm, and airy bourne;
    And, silent as a consecrated urn,
    Hold sphery sessions for a season due.
    Yet few of these far majesties, ah, few!
    Have bared their operations to this globe
    Few, who with gorgeous pageantry enrobe
    Our piece of heaven whose benevolence
    Shakes hand with our own Ceres; every sense
    Filling with spiritual sweets to plenitude,
    As bees gorge full their cells. And, by the feud
    'Twixt Nothing and Creation, I here swear,
    Eterne Apollo! that thy Sister fair
    Is of all these the gentlier-mightiest.
    When thy gold breath is misting in the west,
    She unobserved steals unto her throne,
    And there she sits most meek and most alone;
    As if she had not pomp subservient;
    As if thine eye, high Poet! was not bent
    Towards her with the Muses in thine heart;
    As if the ministring stars kept not apart,
    Waiting for silver-footed messages.
    O Moon! the oldest shades 'mong oldest trees
    Feel palpitations when thou lookest in:
    O Moon! old boughs lisp forth a holier din
    The while they feel thine airy fellowship.
    Thou dost bless every where, with silver lip
    Kissing dead things to life. The sleeping kine,
    Couched in thy brightness, dream of fields divine:
    Innumerable mountains rise, and rise,
    Ambitious for the hallowing of thine eyes;
    And yet thy benediction passeth not
    One obscure hiding-place, one little spot
    Where pleasure may be sent: the nested wren
    Has thy fair face within its tranquil ken,
    And from beneath a sheltering ivy leaf
    Takes glimpses of thee; thou art a relief
    To the poor patient oyster, where it sleeps
    Within its pearly house. The mighty deeps,
    The monstrous sea is thine the myriad sea!
    O Moon! far-spooming Ocean bows to thee,
    And Tellus feels his forehead's cumbrous load.

    Cynthia! where art thou now? What far abode
    Of green or silvery bower doth enshrine
    Such utmost beauty? Alas, thou dost pine
    For one as sorrowful: thy cheek is pale
    For one whose cheek is pale: thou dost bewail
    His tears, who weeps for thee. Where dost thou sigh?
    Ah! surely that light peeps from Vesper's eye,
    Or what a thing is love! 'Tis She, but lo!
    How chang'd, how full of ache, how gone in woe!
    She dies at the thinnest cloud; her loveliness
    Is wan on Neptune's blue: yet there's a stress
    Of love-spangles, just off yon cape of trees,
    Dancing upon the waves, as if to please
    The curly foam with amorous influence.
    O, not so idle: for down-glancing thence
    She fathoms eddies, and runs wild about
    O'erwhelming water-courses; scaring out
    The thorny sharks from hiding-holes, and fright'ning
    Their savage eyes with unaccustomed lightning.
    Where will the splendor be content to reach?
    O love! how potent hast thou been to teach
    Strange journeyings! Wherever beauty dwells,
    In gulf or aerie, mountains or deep dells,
    In light, in gloom, in star or blazing sun,
    Thou pointest out the way, and straight 'tis won.
    Amid his toil thou gav'st Leander breath;
    Thou leddest Orpheus through the gleams of death;
    Thou madest Pluto bear thin element;
    And now, O winged Chieftain! thou hast sent
    A moon-beam to the deep, deep water-world,
    To find Endymion.

    On gold sand impearl'd
    With lily shells, and pebbles milky white,
    Poor Cynthia greeted him, and sooth'd her light
    Against his pallid face: he felt the charm
    To breathlessness, and suddenly a warm
    Of his heart's blood: 'twas very sweet; he stay'd
    His wandering steps, and half-entranced laid
    His head upon a tuft of straggling weeds,
    To taste the gentle moon, and freshening beads,
    Lashed from the crystal roof by fishes' tails.
    And so he kept, until the rosy veils
    Mantling the east, by Aurora's peering hand
    Were lifted from the water's breast, and fann'd
    Into sweet air; and sober'd morning came
    Meekly through billows: when like taper-flame
    Left sudden by a dallying breath of air,
    He rose in silence, and once more 'gan fare
    Along his fated way.

    Far had he roam'd,
    With nothing save the hollow vast, that foam'd
    Above, around, and at his feet; save things
    More dead than Morpheus' imaginings:
    Old rusted anchors, helmets, breast-plates large
    Of gone sea-warriors; brazen beaks and targe;
    Rudders that for a hundred years had lost
    The sway of human hand; gold vase emboss'd
    With long-forgotten story, and wherein
    No reveller had ever dipp'd a chin
    But those of Saturn's vintage; mouldering scrolls,
    Writ in the tongue of heaven, by those souls
    Who first were on the earth; and sculptures rude
    In ponderous stone, developing the mood
    Of ancient Nox; then skeletons of man,
    Of beast, behemoth, and leviathan,
    And elephant, and eagle, and huge jaw
    Of nameless monster. A cold leaden awe
    These secrets struck into him; and unless
    Dian had chaced away that heaviness,
    He might have died: but now, with cheered feel,
    He onward kept; wooing these thoughts to steal
    About the labyrinth in his soul of love.

    "What is there in thee, Moon! that thou shouldst move
    My heart so potently? When yet a child
    I oft have dried my tears when thou hast smil'd.
    Thou seem'dst my sister: hand in hand we went
    From eve to morn across the firmament.
    No apples would I gather from the tree,
    Till thou hadst cool'd their cheeks deliciously:
    No tumbling water ever spake romance,
    But when my eyes with thine thereon could dance:
    No woods were green enough, no bower divine,
    Until thou liftedst up thine eyelids fine:
    In sowing time ne'er would I dibble take,
    Or drop a seed, till thou wast wide awake;
    And, in the summer tide of blossoming,
    No one but thee hath heard me blithly sing
    And mesh my dewy flowers all the night.
    No melody was like a passing spright
    If it went not to solemnize thy reign.
    Yes, in my boyhood, every joy and pain
    By thee were fashion'd to the self-same end;
    And as I grew in years, still didst thou blend
    With all my ardours: thou wast the deep glen;
    Thou wast the mountain-top the sage's pen
    The poet's harp the voice of friends the sun;
    Thou wast the river thou wast glory won;
    Thou wast my clarion's blast thou wast my steed
    My goblet full of wine my topmost deed:
    Thou wast the charm of women, lovely Moon!
    O what a wild and harmonized tune
    My spirit struck from all the beautiful!
    On some bright essence could I lean, and lull
    Myself to immortality: I prest
    Nature's soft pillow in a wakeful rest.
    But, gentle Orb! there came a nearer bliss
    My strange love came Felicity's abyss!
    She came, and thou didst fade, and fade away
    Yet not entirely; no, thy starry sway
    Has been an under-passion to this hour.
    Now I begin to feel thine orby power
    Is coming fresh upon me: O be kind,
    Keep back thine influence, and do not blind
    My sovereign vision. Dearest love, forgive
    That I can think away from thee and live!
    Pardon me, airy planet, that I prize
    One thought beyond thine argent luxuries!
    How far beyond!" At this a surpris'd start
    Frosted the springing verdure of his heart;
    For as he lifted up his eyes to swear
    How his own goddess was past all things fair,
    He saw far in the concave green of the sea
    An old man sitting calm and peacefully.
    Upon a weeded rock this old man sat,
    And his white hair was awful, and a mat
    Of weeds were cold beneath his cold thin feet;
    And, ample as the largest winding-sheet,
    A cloak of blue wrapp'd up his aged bones,
    O'erwrought with symbols by the deepest groans
    Of ambitious magic: every ocean-form
    Was woven in with black distinctness; storm,
    And calm, and whispering, and hideous roar
    Were emblem'd in the woof; with every shape
    That skims, or dives, or sleeps, 'twixt cape and cape.
    The gulphing whale was like a dot in the spell,
    Yet look upon it, and 'twould size and swell
    To its huge self; and the minutest fish
    Would pass the very hardest gazer's wish,
    And show his little eye's anatomy.
    Then there was pictur'd the regality
    Of Neptune; and the sea nymphs round his state,
    In beauteous vassalage, look up and wait.
    Beside this old man lay a pearly wand,
    And in his lap a book, the which he conn'd
    So stedfastly, that the new denizen
    Had time to keep him in amazed ken,
    To mark these shadowings, and stand in awe.

    The old man rais'd his hoary head and saw
    The wilder'd stranger seeming not to see,
    His features were so lifeless. Suddenly
    He woke as from a trance; his snow-white brows
    Went arching up, and like two magic ploughs
    Furrow'd deep wrinkles in his forehead large,
    Which kept as fixedly as rocky marge,
    Till round his wither'd lips had gone a smile.
    Then up he rose, like one whose tedious toil
    Had watch'd for years in forlorn hermitage,
    Who had not from mid-life to utmost age
    Eas'd in one accent his o'er-burden'd soul,
    Even to the trees. He rose: he grasp'd his stole,
    With convuls'd clenches waving it abroad,
    And in a voice of solemn joy, that aw'd
    Echo into oblivion, he said:

    "Thou art the man! Now shall I lay my head
    In peace upon my watery pillow: now
    Sleep will come smoothly to my weary brow.
    O Jove! I shall be young again, be young!
    O shell-borne Neptune, I am pierc'd and stung
    With new-born life! What shall I do? Where go,
    When I have cast this serpent-skin of woe?
    I'll swim to the syrens, and one moment listen
    Their melodies, and see their long hair glisten;
    Anon upon that giant's arm I'll be,
    That writhes about the roots of Sicily:
    To northern seas I'll in a twinkling sail,
    And mount upon the snortings of a whale
    To some black cloud; thence down I'll madly sweep
    On forked lightning, to the deepest deep,
    Where through some sucking pool I will be hurl'd
    With rapture to the other side of the world!
    O, I am full of gladness! Sisters three,
    I bow full hearted to your old decree!
    Yes, every god be thank'd, and power benign,
    For I no more shall wither, droop, and pine.
    Thou art the man!" Endymion started back
    Dismay'd; and, like a wretch from whom the rack
    Tortures hot breath, and speech of agony,
    Mutter'd: "What lonely death am I to die
    In this cold region? Will he let me freeze,
    And float my brittle limbs o'er polar seas?
    Or will he touch me with his searing hand,
    And leave a black memorial on the sand?
    Or tear me piece-meal with a bony saw,
    And keep me as a chosen food to draw
    His magian fish through hated fire and flame?
    O misery of hell! resistless, tame,
    Am I to be burnt up? No, I will shout,
    Until the gods through heaven's blue look out!
    O Tartarus! but some few days agone
    Her soft arms were entwining me, and on
    Her voice I hung like fruit among green leaves:
    Her lips were all my own, and ah, ripe sheaves
    Of happiness! ye on the stubble droop,
    But never may be garner'd. I must stoop
    My head, and kiss death's foot. Love! love, farewel!
    Is there no hope from thee? This horrid spell

    Would melt at thy sweet breath. By Dian's hind
    Feeding from her white fingers, on the wind
    I see thy streaming hair! and now, by Pan,
    I care not for this old mysterious man!"

    He spake, and walking to that aged form,
    Look'd high defiance. Lo! his heart 'gan warm
    With pity, for the grey-hair'd creature wept.
    Had he then wrong'd a heart where sorrow kept?
    Had he, though blindly contumelious, brought
    Rheum to kind eyes, a sting to human thought,
    Convulsion to a mouth of many years?
    He had in truth; and he was ripe for tears.
    The penitent shower fell, as down he knelt
    Before that care-worn sage, who trembling felt
    About his large dark locks, and faultering spake:

    "Arise, good youth, for sacred Phoebus' sake!
    I know thine inmost bosom, and I feel
    A very brother's yearning for thee steal
    Into mine own: for why? thou openest
    The prison gates that have so long opprest
    My weary watching. Though thou know'st it not,
    Thou art commission'd to this fated spot
    For great enfranchisement. O weep no more;
    I am a friend to love, to loves of yore:
    Aye, hadst thou never lov'd an unknown power
    I had been grieving at this joyous hour
    But even now most miserable old,
    I saw thee, and my blood no longer cold
    Gave mighty pulses: in this tottering case
    Grew a new heart, which at this moment plays
    As dancingly as thine. Be not afraid,
    For thou shalt hear this secret all display'd,
    Now as we speed towards our joyous task."

    So saying, this young soul in age's mask
    Went forward with the Carian side by side:
    Resuming quickly thus; while ocean's tide
    Hung swollen at their backs, and jewel'd sands
    Took silently their foot-prints. "My soul stands
    Now past the midway from mortality,
    And so I can prepare without a sigh
    To tell thee briefly all my joy and pain.
    I was a fisher once, upon this main,
    And my boat danc'd in every creek and bay;
    Rough billows were my home by night and day,
    The sea-gulls not more constant; for I had
    No housing from the storm and tempests mad,
    But hollow rocks, and they were palaces
    Of silent happiness, of slumberous ease:
    Long years of misery have told me so.
    Aye, thus it was one thousand years ago.
    One thousand years! Is it then possible
    To look so plainly through them? to dispel
    A thousand years with backward glance sublime?
    To breathe away as 'twere all scummy slime
    From off a crystal pool, to see its deep,
    And one's own image from the bottom peep?
    Yes: now I am no longer wretched thrall,
    My long captivity and moanings all
    Are but a slime, a thin-pervading scum,
    The which I breathe away, and thronging come
    Like things of yesterday my youthful pleasures.

    "I touch'd no lute, I sang not, trod no measures:
    I was a lonely youth on desert shores.
    My sports were lonely, 'mid continuous roars,
    And craggy isles, and sea-mew's plaintive cry
    Plaining discrepant between sea and sky.
    Dolphins were still my playmates; shapes unseen
    Would let me feel their scales of gold and green,
    Nor be my desolation; and, full oft,
    When a dread waterspout had rear'd aloft
    Its hungry hugeness, seeming ready ripe
    To burst with hoarsest thunderings, and wipe
    My life away like a vast sponge of fate,
    Some friendly monster, pitying my sad state,
    Has dived to its foundations, gulph'd it down,
    And left me tossing safely. But the crown
    Of all my life was utmost quietude:
    More did I love to lie in cavern rude,
    Keeping in wait whole days for Neptune's voice,
    And if it came at last, hark, and rejoice!
    There blush'd no summer eve but I would steer
    My skiff along green shelving coasts, to hear
    The shepherd's pipe come clear from aery steep,
    Mingled with ceaseless bleatings of his sheep:
    And never was a day of summer shine,
    But I beheld its birth upon the brine:
    For I would watch all night to see unfold
    Heaven's gates, and Aethon snort his morning gold
    Wide o'er the swelling streams: and constantly
    At brim of day-tide, on some grassy lea,
    My nets would be spread out, and I at rest.
    The poor folk of the sea-country I blest
    With daily boon of fish most delicate:
    They knew not whence this bounty, and elate
    Would strew sweet flowers on a sterile beach.

    "Why was I not contented? Wherefore reach
    At things which, but for thee, O Latmian!
    Had been my dreary death? Fool! I began
    To feel distemper'd longings: to desire
    The utmost privilege that ocean's sire
    Could grant in benediction: to be free
    Of all his kingdom. Long in misery
    I wasted, ere in one extremest fit
    I plung'd for life or death. To interknit
    One's senses with so dense a breathing stuff
    Might seem a work of pain; so not enough
    Can I admire how crystal-smooth it felt,
    And buoyant round my limbs. At first I dwelt
    Whole days and days in sheer astonishment;
    Forgetful utterly of self-intent;
    Moving but with the mighty ebb and flow.
    Then, like a new fledg'd bird that first doth shew
    His spreaded feathers to the morrow chill,
    I tried in fear the pinions of my will.
    'Twas freedom! and at once I visited
    The ceaseless wonders of this ocean-bed.
    No need to tell thee of them, for I see
    That thou hast been a witness it must be
    For these I know thou canst not feel a drouth,
    By the melancholy corners of that mouth.
    So I will in my story straightway pass
    To more immediate matter. Woe, alas!
    That love should be my bane! Ah, Scylla fair!
    Why did poor Glaucus ever ever dare
    To sue thee to his heart? Kind stranger-youth!
    I lov'd her to the very white of truth,
    And she would not conceive it. Timid thing!
    She fled me swift as sea-bird on the wing,
    Round every isle, and point, and promontory,
    From where large Hercules wound up his story
    Far as Egyptian Nile. My passion grew
    The more, the more I saw her dainty hue
    Gleam delicately through the azure clear:
    Until 'twas too fierce agony to bear;
    And in that agony, across my grief
    It flash'd, that Circe might find some relief
    Cruel enchantress! So above the water
    I rear'd my head, and look'd for Phoebus' daughter.
    Aeaea's isle was wondering at the moon:
    It seem'd to whirl around me, and a swoon
    Left me dead-drifting to that fatal power.

    "When I awoke, 'twas in a twilight bower;
    Just when the light of morn, with hum of bees,
    Stole through its verdurous matting of fresh trees.
    How sweet, and sweeter! for I heard a lyre,
    And over it a sighing voice expire.
    It ceased I caught light footsteps; and anon
    The fairest face that morn e'er look'd upon
    Push'd through a screen of roses. Starry Jove!
    With tears, and smiles, and honey-words she wove
    A net whose thraldom was more bliss than all
    The range of flower'd Elysium. Thus did fall
    The dew of her rich speech: "Ah! Art awake?
    O let me hear thee speak, for Cupid's sake!
    I am so oppress'd with joy! Why, I have shed
    An urn of tears, as though thou wert cold dead;
    And now I find thee living, I will pour
    From these devoted eyes their silver store,
    Until exhausted of the latest drop,
    So it will pleasure thee, and force thee stop
    Here, that I too may live: but if beyond
    Such cool and sorrowful offerings, thou art fond
    Of soothing warmth, of dalliance supreme;
    If thou art ripe to taste a long love dream;
    If smiles, if dimples, tongues for ardour mute,
    Hang in thy vision like a tempting fruit,
    O let me pluck it for thee." Thus she link'd
    Her charming syllables, till indistinct
    Their music came to my o'er-sweeten'd soul;
    And then she hover'd over me, and stole
    So near, that if no nearer it had been
    This furrow'd visage thou hadst never seen.

    "Young man of Latmos! thus particular
    Am I, that thou may'st plainly see how far
    This fierce temptation went: and thou may'st not
    Exclaim, How then, was Scylla quite forgot?

    "Who could resist? Who in this universe?
    She did so breathe ambrosia; so immerse
    My fine existence in a golden clime.
    She took me like a child of suckling time,
    And cradled me in roses. Thus condemn'd,
    The current of my former life was stemm'd,
    And to this arbitrary queen of sense
    I bow'd a tranced vassal: nor would thence
    Have mov'd, even though Amphion's harp had woo'd
    Me back to Scylla o'er the billows rude.
    For as Apollo each eve doth devise
    A new appareling for western skies;
    So every eve, nay every spendthrift hour
    Shed balmy consciousness within that bower.
    And I was free of haunts umbrageous;
    Could wander in the mazy forest-house
    Of squirrels, foxes shy, and antler'd deer,
    And birds from coverts innermost and drear
    Warbling for very joy mellifluous sorrow
    To me new born delights!

     "Now let me borrow,
    For moments few, a temperament as stern
    As Pluto's sceptre, that my words not burn
    These uttering lips, while I in calm speech tell
    How specious heaven was changed to real hell.

    "One morn she left me sleeping: half awake
    I sought for her smooth arms and lips, to slake
    My greedy thirst with nectarous camel-draughts;
    But she was gone. Whereat the barbed shafts
    Of disappointment stuck in me so sore,
    That out I ran and search'd the forest o'er.
    Wandering about in pine and cedar gloom
    Damp awe assail'd me; for there 'gan to boom
    A sound of moan, an agony of sound,
    Sepulchral from the distance all around.
    Then came a conquering earth-thunder, and rumbled
    That fierce complain to silence: while I stumbled
    Down a precipitous path, as if impell'd.
    I came to a dark valley. Groanings swell'd
    Poisonous about my ears, and louder grew,
    The nearer I approach'd a flame's gaunt blue,
    That glar'd before me through a thorny brake.
    This fire, like the eye of gordian snake,
    Bewitch'd me towards; and I soon was near
    A sight too fearful for the feel of fear:
    In thicket hid I curs'd the haggard scene
    The banquet of my arms, my arbour queen,
    Seated upon an uptorn forest root;
    And all around her shapes, wizard and brute,
    Laughing, and wailing, groveling, serpenting,
    Shewing tooth, tusk, and venom-bag, and sting!
    O such deformities! Old Charon's self,
    Should he give up awhile his penny pelf,
    And take a dream 'mong rushes Stygian,
    It could not be so phantasied. Fierce, wan,
    And tyrannizing was the lady's look,
    As over them a gnarled staff she shook.
    Oft-times upon the sudden she laugh'd out,
    And from a basket emptied to the rout
    Clusters of grapes, the which they raven'd quick
    And roar'd for more; with many a hungry lick
    About their shaggy jaws. Avenging, slow,
    Anon she took a branch of mistletoe,
    And emptied on't a black dull-gurgling phial:
    Groan'd one and all, as if some piercing trial
    Was sharpening for their pitiable bones.
    She lifted up the charm: appealing groans
    From their poor breasts went sueing to her ear
    In vain; remorseless as an infant's bier
    She whisk'd against their eyes the sooty oil.
    Whereat was heard a noise of painful toil,
    Increasing gradual to a tempest rage,
    Shrieks, yells, and groans of torture-pilgrimage;
    Until their grieved bodies 'gan to bloat
    And puff from the tail's end to stifled throat:
    Then was appalling silence: then a sight
    More wildering than all that hoarse affright;
    For the whole herd, as by a whirlwind writhen,
    Went through the dismal air like one huge Python
    Antagonizing Boreas, and so vanish'd.
    Yet there was not a breath of wind: she banish'd
    These phantoms with a nod. Lo! from the dark
    Came waggish fauns, and nymphs, and satyrs stark,
    With dancing and loud revelry, and went
    Swifter than centaurs after rapine bent.
    Sighing an elephant appear'd and bow'd
    Before the fierce witch, speaking thus aloud
    In human accent: "Potent goddess! chief
    Of pains resistless! make my being brief,
    Or let me from this heavy prison fly:
    Or give me to the air, or let me die!
    I sue not for my happy crown again;
    I sue not for my phalanx on the plain;
    I sue not for my lone, my widow'd wife;
    I sue not for my ruddy drops of life,
    My children fair, my lovely girls and boys!
    I will forget them; I will pass these joys;
    Ask nought so heavenward, so too too high:
    Only I pray, as fairest boon, to die,
    Or be deliver'd from this cumbrous flesh,
    From this gross, detestable, filthy mesh,
    And merely given to the cold bleak air.
    Have mercy, Goddess! Circe, feel my prayer!"

    That curst magician's name fell icy numb
    Upon my wild conjecturing: truth had come
    Naked and sabre-like against my heart.
    I saw a fury whetting a death-dart;
    And my slain spirit, overwrought with fright,
    Fainted away in that dark lair of night.
    Think, my deliverer, how desolate
    My waking must have been! disgust, and hate,
    And terrors manifold divided me
    A spoil amongst them. I prepar'd to flee
    Into the dungeon core of that wild wood:
    I fled three days when lo! before me stood
    Glaring the angry witch. O Dis, even now,
    A clammy dew is beading on my brow,
    At mere remembering her pale laugh, and curse.
    "Ha! ha! Sir Dainty! there must be a nurse
    Made of rose leaves and thistledown, express,
    To cradle thee my sweet, and lull thee: yes,
    I am too flinty-hard for thy nice touch:
    My tenderest squeeze is but a giant's clutch.
    So, fairy-thing, it shall have lullabies
    Unheard of yet; and it shall still its cries
    Upon some breast more lily-feminine.
    Oh, no it shall not pine, and pine, and pine
    More than one pretty, trifling thousand years;
    And then 'twere pity, but fate's gentle shears
    Cut short its immortality. Sea-flirt!
    Young dove of the waters! truly I'll not hurt
    One hair of thine: see how I weep and sigh,
    That our heart-broken parting is so nigh.
    And must we part? Ah, yes, it must be so.
    Yet ere thou leavest me in utter woe,
    Let me sob over thee my last adieus,
    And speak a blessing: Mark me! thou hast thews
    Immortal, for thou art of heavenly race:
    But such a love is mine, that here I chase
    Eternally away from thee all bloom
    Of youth, and destine thee towards a tomb.
    Hence shalt thou quickly to the watery vast;
    And there, ere many days be overpast,
    Disabled age shall seize thee; and even then
    Thou shalt not go the way of aged men;
    But live and wither, cripple and still breathe
    Ten hundred years: which gone, I then bequeath
    Thy fragile bones to unknown burial.
    Adieu, sweet love, adieu!" As shot stars fall,
    She fled ere I could groan for mercy. Stung
    And poisoned was my spirit: despair sung
    A war-song of defiance 'gainst all hell.
    A hand was at my shoulder to compel
    My sullen steps; another 'fore my eyes
    Moved on with pointed finger. In this guise
    Enforced, at the last by ocean's foam
    I found me; by my fresh, my native home.
    Its tempering coolness, to my life akin,
    Came salutary as I waded in;
    And, with a blind voluptuous rage, I gave
    Battle to the swollen billow-ridge, and drave
    Large froth before me, while there yet remain'd
    Hale strength, nor from my bones all marrow drain'd.

    "Young lover, I must weep such hellish spite
    With dry cheek who can tell? While thus my might
    Proving upon this element, dismay'd,
    Upon a dead thing's face my hand I laid;
    I look'd 'twas Scylla! Cursed, cursed Circe!
    O vulture-witch, hast never heard of mercy?
    Could not thy harshest vengeance be content,
    But thou must nip this tender innocent
    Because I lov'd her? Cold, O cold indeed
    Were her fair limbs, and like a common weed
    The sea-swell took her hair. Dead as she was
    I clung about her waist, nor ceas'd to pass
    Fleet as an arrow through unfathom'd brine,
    Until there shone a fabric crystalline,
    Ribb'd and inlaid with coral, pebble, and pearl.
    Headlong I darted; at one eager swirl
    Gain'd its bright portal, enter'd, and behold!
    'Twas vast, and desolate, and icy-cold;
    And all around But wherefore this to thee
    Who in few minutes more thyself shalt see?
    I left poor Scylla in a niche and fled.
    My fever'd parchings up, my scathing dread
    Met palsy half way: soon these limbs became
    Gaunt, wither'd, sapless, feeble, cramp'd, and lame.

    "Now let me pass a cruel, cruel space,
    Without one hope, without one faintest trace
    Of mitigation, or redeeming bubble
    Of colour'd phantasy; for I fear 'twould trouble
    Thy brain to loss of reason: and next tell
    How a restoring chance came down to quell
    One half of the witch in me. On a day,
    Sitting upon a rock above the spray,
    I saw grow up from the horizon's brink
    A gallant vessel: soon she seem'd to sink
    Away from me again, as though her course
    Had been resum'd in spite of hindering force
    So vanish'd: and not long, before arose
    Dark clouds, and muttering of winds morose.
    Old Eolus would stifle his mad spleen,
    But could not: therefore all the billows green
    Toss'd up the silver spume against the clouds.
    The tempest came: I saw that vessel's shrouds
    In perilous bustle; while upon the deck
    Stood trembling creatures. I beheld the wreck;
    The final gulphing; the poor struggling souls:
    I heard their cries amid loud thunder-rolls.
    O they had all been sav'd but crazed eld
    Annull'd my vigorous cravings: and thus quell'd
    And curb'd, think on't, O Latmian! did I sit
    Writhing with pity, and a cursing fit
    Against that hell-born Circe. The crew had gone,
    By one and one, to pale oblivion;
    And I was gazing on the surges prone,
    With many a scalding tear and many a groan,
    When at my feet emerg'd an old man's hand,
    Grasping this scroll, and this same slender wand.
    I knelt with pain reached out my hand had grasp'd
    These treasures touch'd the knuckles they unclasp'd
    I caught a finger: but the downward weight
    O'erpowered me it sank. Then 'gan abate
    The storm, and through chill aguish gloom outburst
    The comfortable sun. I was athirst
    To search the book, and in the warming air
    Parted its dripping leaves with eager care.
    Strange matters did it treat of, and drew on
    My soul page after page, till well-nigh won
    Into forgetfulness; when, stupefied,
    I read these words, and read again, and tried
    My eyes against the heavens, and read again.
    O what a load of misery and pain
    Each Atlas-line bore off! a shine of hope
    Came gold around me, cheering me to cope
    Strenuous with hellish tyranny. Attend!
    For thou hast brought their promise to an end.

    "In the wide sea there lives a forlorn wretch,
    Doom'd with enfeebled carcase to outstretch
    His loath'd existence through ten centuries,
    And then to die alone. Who can devise
    A total opposition? No one. So
    One million times ocean must ebb and flow,
    And he oppressed. Yet he shall not die,
    These things accomplish'd: If he utterly
    Scans all the depths of magic, and expounds
    The meanings of all motions, shapes, and sounds;
    If he explores all forms and substances
    Straight homeward to their symbol-essences;
    He shall not die. Moreover, and in chief,
    He must pursue this task of joy and grief
    Most piously; all lovers tempest-tost,
    And in the savage overwhelming lost,
    He shall deposit side by side, until
    Time's creeping shall the dreary space fulfil:
    Which done, and all these labours ripened,
    A youth, by heavenly power lov'd and led,
    Shall stand before him; whom he shall direct
    How to consummate all. The youth elect
    Must do the thing, or both will be destroy'd."

    "Then," cried the young Endymion, overjoy'd,
    "We are twin brothers in this destiny!
    Say, I intreat thee, what achievement high
    Is, in this restless world, for me reserv'd.
    What! if from thee my wandering feet had swerv'd,
    Had we both perish'd?" "Look!" the sage replied,
    "Dost thou not mark a gleaming through the tide,
    Of divers brilliances? 'tis the edifice
    I told thee of, where lovely Scylla lies;
    And where I have enshrined piously
    All lovers, whom fell storms have doom'd to die
    Throughout my bondage." Thus discoursing, on
    They went till unobscur'd the porches shone;
    Which hurryingly they gain'd, and enter'd straight.
    Sure never since king Neptune held his state
    Was seen such wonder underneath the stars.
    Turn to some level plain where haughty Mars
    Has legion'd all his battle; and behold
    How every soldier, with firm foot, doth hold
    His even breast: see, many steeled squares,
    And rigid ranks of iron whence who dares
    One step? Imagine further, line by line,
    These warrior thousands on the field supine:
    So in that crystal place, in silent rows,
    Poor lovers lay at rest from joys and woes.
    The stranger from the mountains, breathless, trac'd
    Such thousands of shut eyes in order plac'd;
    Such ranges of white feet, and patient lips
    All ruddy, for here death no blossom nips.
    He mark'd their brows and foreheads; saw their hair
    Put sleekly on one side with nicest care;
    And each one's gentle wrists, with reverence,
    Put cross-wise to its heart.

     "Let us commence,
    Whisper'd the guide, stuttering with joy, even now."
    He spake, and, trembling like an aspen-bough,
    Began to tear his scroll in pieces small,
    Uttering the while some mumblings funeral.
    He tore it into pieces small as snow
    That drifts unfeather'd when bleak northerns blow;
    And having done it, took his dark blue cloak
    And bound it round Endymion: then struck
    His wand against the empty air times nine.
    "What more there is to do, young man, is thine:
    But first a little patience; first undo
    This tangled thread, and wind it to a clue.
    Ah, gentle! 'tis as weak as spider's skein;
    And shouldst thou break it What, is it done so clean?
    A power overshadows thee! Oh, brave!
    The spite of hell is tumbling to its grave.
    Here is a shell; 'tis pearly blank to me,
    Nor mark'd with any sign or charactery
    Canst thou read aught? O read for pity's sake!
    Olympus! we are safe! Now, Carian, break
    This wand against yon lyre on the pedestal."

    'Twas done: and straight with sudden swell and fall
    Sweet music breath'd her soul away, and sigh'd
    A lullaby to silence. "Youth! now strew
    These minced leaves on me, and passing through
    Those files of dead, scatter the same around,
    And thou wilt see the issue." 'Mid the sound
    Of flutes and viols, ravishing his heart,
    Endymion from Glaucus stood apart,
    And scatter'd in his face some fragments light.
    How lightning-swift the change! a youthful wight
    Smiling beneath a coral diadem,
    Out-sparkling sudden like an upturn'd gem,
    Appear'd, and, stepping to a beauteous corse,
    Kneel'd down beside it, and with tenderest force
    Press'd its cold hand, and wept and Scylla sigh'd!
    Endymion, with quick hand, the charm applied
    The nymph arose: he left them to their joy,
    And onward went upon his high employ,
    Showering those powerful fragments on the dead.
    And, as he pass'd, each lifted up its head,
    As doth a flower at Apollo's touch.
    Death felt it to his inwards; 'twas too much:
    Death fell a weeping in his charnel-house.
    The Latmian persever'd along, and thus
    All were re-animated. There arose
    A noise of harmony, pulses and throes
    Of gladness in the air while many, who
    Had died in mutual arms devout and true,
    Sprang to each other madly; and the rest
    Felt a high certainty of being blest.
    They gaz'd upon Endymion. Enchantment
    Grew drunken, and would have its head and bent.
    Delicious symphonies, like airy flowers,
    Budded, and swell'd, and, full-blown, shed full showers
    Of light, soft, unseen leaves of sounds divine.
    The two deliverers tasted a pure wine
    Of happiness, from fairy-press ooz'd out.
    Speechless they eyed each other, and about
    The fair assembly wander'd to and fro,
    Distracted with the richest overflow
    Of joy that ever pour'd from heaven.

    Shouted the new-born god; "Follow, and pay
    Our piety to Neptunus supreme!"
    Then Scylla, blushing sweetly from her dream,
    They led on first, bent to her meek surprise,
    Through portal columns of a giant size,
    Into the vaulted, boundless emerald.
    Joyous all follow'd, as the leader call'd,
    Down marble steps; pouring as easily
    As hour-glass sand and fast, as you might see
    Swallows obeying the south summer's call,
    Or swans upon a gentle waterfall.

    Thus went that beautiful multitude, nor far,
    Ere from among some rocks of glittering spar,
    Just within ken, they saw descending thick
    Another multitude. Whereat more quick
    Moved either host. On a wide sand they met,
    And of those numbers every eye was wet;
    For each their old love found. A murmuring rose,
    Like what was never heard in all the throes
    Of wind and waters: 'tis past human wit
    To tell; 'tis dizziness to think of it.

    This mighty consummation made, the host
    Mov'd on for many a league; and gain'd, and lost
    Huge sea-marks; vanward swelling in array,
    And from the rear diminishing away,
    Till a faint dawn surpris'd them. Glaucus cried,
    "Behold! behold, the palace of his pride!
    God Neptune's palaces!" With noise increas'd,
    They shoulder'd on towards that brightening east.
    At every onward step proud domes arose
    In prospect, diamond gleams, and golden glows
    Of amber 'gainst their faces levelling.
    Joyous, and many as the leaves in spring,
    Still onward; still the splendour gradual swell'd.
    Rich opal domes were seen, on high upheld
    By jasper pillars, letting through their shafts
    A blush of coral. Copious wonder-draughts
    Each gazer drank; and deeper drank more near:
    For what poor mortals fragment up, as mere
    As marble was there lavish, to the vast
    Of one fair palace, that far far surpass'd,
    Even for common bulk, those olden three,
    Memphis, and Babylon, and Nineveh.

    As large, as bright, as colour'd as the bow
    Of Iris, when unfading it doth shew
    Beyond a silvery shower, was the arch
    Through which this Paphian army took its march,
    Into the outer courts of Neptune's state:
    Whence could be seen, direct, a golden gate,
    To which the leaders sped; but not half raught
    Ere it burst open swift as fairy thought,
    And made those dazzled thousands veil their eyes
    Like callow eagles at the first sunrise.
    Soon with an eagle nativeness their gaze
    Ripe from hue-golden swoons took all the blaze,
    And then, behold! large Neptune on his throne
    Of emerald deep: yet not exalt alone;
    At his right hand stood winged Love, and on
    His left sat smiling Beauty's paragon.

    Far as the mariner on highest mast
    Can see all round upon the calmed vast,
    So wide was Neptune's hall: and as the blue
    Doth vault the waters, so the waters drew
    Their doming curtains, high, magnificent,
    Aw'd from the throne aloof; and when storm-rent
    Disclos'd the thunder-gloomings in Jove's air;
    But sooth'd as now, flash'd sudden everywhere,
    Noiseless, sub-marine cloudlets, glittering
    Death to a human eye: for there did spring
    From natural west, and east, and south, and north,
    A light as of four sunsets, blazing forth
    A gold-green zenith 'bove the Sea-God's head.
    Of lucid depth the floor, and far outspread
    As breezeless lake, on which the slim canoe
    Of feather'd Indian darts about, as through
    The delicatest air: air verily,
    But for the portraiture of clouds and sky:
    This palace floor breath-air, but for the amaze
    Of deep-seen wonders motionless, and blaze
    Of the dome pomp, reflected in extremes,
    Globing a golden sphere.

     They stood in dreams
    Till Triton blew his horn. The palace rang;
    The Nereids danc'd; the Syrens faintly sang;
    And the great Sea-King bow'd his dripping head.
    Then Love took wing, and from his pinions shed
    On all the multitude a nectarous dew.
    The ooze-born Goddess beckoned and drew
    Fair Scylla and her guides to conference;
    And when they reach'd the throned eminence
    She kist the sea-nymph's cheek, who sat her down
    A toying with the doves. Then, "Mighty crown
    And sceptre of this kingdom!" Venus said,
    "Thy vows were on a time to Nais paid:
    Behold!" Two copious tear-drops instant fell
    From the God's large eyes; he smil'd delectable,
    And over Glaucus held his blessing hands.
    "Endymion! Ah! still wandering in the bands
    Of love? Now this is cruel. Since the hour
    I met thee in earth's bosom, all my power
    Have I put forth to serve thee. What, not yet
    Escap'd from dull mortality's harsh net?
    A little patience, youth! 'twill not be long,
    Or I am skilless quite: an idle tongue,
    A humid eye, and steps luxurious,
    Where these are new and strange, are ominous.
    Aye, I have seen these signs in one of heaven,
    When others were all blind; and were I given
    To utter secrets, haply I might say
    Some pleasant words: but Love will have his day.
    So wait awhile expectant. Pr'ythee soon,
    Even in the passing of thine honey-moon,
    Visit my Cytherea: thou wilt find
    Cupid well-natured, my Adonis kind;
    And pray persuade with thee Ah, I have done,
    All blisses be upon thee, my sweet son!"
    Thus the fair goddess: while Endymion
    Knelt to receive those accents halcyon.

    Meantime a glorious revelry began
    Before the Water-Monarch. Nectar ran
    In courteous fountains to all cups outreach'd;
    And plunder'd vines, teeming exhaustless, pleach'd
    New growth about each shell and pendent lyre;
    The which, in disentangling for their fire,
    Pull'd down fresh foliage and coverture
    For dainty toying. Cupid, empire-sure,
    Flutter'd and laugh'd, and oft-times through the throng
    Made a delighted way. Then dance, and song,
    And garlanding grew wild; and pleasure reign'd.
    In harmless tendril they each other chain'd,
    And strove who should be smother'd deepest in
    Fresh crush of leaves.

     O 'tis a very sin
    For one so weak to venture his poor verse
    In such a place as this. O do not curse,
    High Muses! let him hurry to the ending.

    All suddenly were silent. A soft blending
    Of dulcet instruments came charmingly;
    And then a hymn.

    "KING of the stormy sea!
    Brother of Jove, and co-inheritor
    Of elements! Eternally before
    Thee the waves awful bow. Fast, stubborn rock,
    At thy fear'd trident shrinking, doth unlock
    Its deep foundations, hissing into foam.
    All mountain-rivers lost, in the wide home
    Of thy capacious bosom ever flow.
    Thou frownest, and old Eolus thy foe
    Skulks to his cavern, 'mid the gruff complaint
    Of all his rebel tempests. Dark clouds faint
    When, from thy diadem, a silver gleam
    Slants over blue dominion. Thy bright team
    Gulphs in the morning light, and scuds along
    To bring thee nearer to that golden song
    Apollo singeth, while his chariot
    Waits at the doors of heaven. Thou art not
    For scenes like this: an empire stern hast thou;
    And it hath furrow'd that large front: yet now,
    As newly come of heaven, dost thou sit
    To blend and interknit
    Subdued majesty with this glad time.
    O shell-borne King sublime!
    We lay our hearts before thee evermore
    We sing, and we adore!

    "Breathe softly, flutes;
    Be tender of your strings, ye soothing lutes;
    Nor be the trumpet heard! O vain, O vain;
    Not flowers budding in an April rain,
    Nor breath of sleeping dove, nor river's flow,
    No, nor the Eolian twang of Love's own bow,
    Can mingle music fit for the soft ear
    Of goddess Cytherea!
    Yet deign, white Queen of Beauty, thy fair eyes
    On our souls' sacrifice.

    "Bright-winged Child!
    Who has another care when thou hast smil'd?
    Unfortunates on earth, we see at last
    All death-shadows, and glooms that overcast
    Our spirits, fann'd away by thy light pinions.
    O sweetest essence! sweetest of all minions!
    God of warm pulses, and dishevell'd hair,
    And panting bosoms bare!
    Dear unseen light in darkness! eclipser
    Of light in light! delicious poisoner!
    Thy venom'd goblet will we quaff until
    We fill we fill!
    And by thy Mother's lips "

     Was heard no more
    For clamour, when the golden palace door
    Opened again, and from without, in shone
    A new magnificence. On oozy throne
    Smooth-moving came Oceanus the old,
    To take a latest glimpse at his sheep-fold,
    Before he went into his quiet cave
    To muse for ever Then a lucid wave,
    Scoop'd from its trembling sisters of mid-sea,
    Afloat, and pillowing up the majesty
    Of Doris, and the Egean seer, her spouse
    Next, on a dolphin, clad in laurel boughs,
    Theban Amphion leaning on his lute:
    His fingers went across it All were mute
    To gaze on Amphitrite, queen of pearls,
    And Thetis pearly too.

     The palace whirls
    Around giddy Endymion; seeing he
    Was there far strayed from mortality.
    He could not bear it shut his eyes in vain;
    Imagination gave a dizzier pain.
    "O I shall die! sweet Venus, be my stay!
    Where is my lovely mistress? Well-away!
    I die I hear her voice I feel my wing "
    At Neptune's feet he sank. A sudden ring
    Of Nereids were about him, in kind strife
    To usher back his spirit into life:
    But still he slept. At last they interwove
    Their cradling arms, and purpos'd to convey
    Towards a crystal bower far away.

    Lo! while slow carried through the pitying crowd,
    To his inward senses these words spake aloud;
    Written in star-light on the dark above:
    Dearest Endymion! my entire love!
    How have I dwelt in fear of fate: 'tis done
    Immortal bliss for me too hast thou won.
    Arise then! for the hen-dove shall not hatch
    Her ready eggs, before I'll kissing snatch
    Thee into endless heaven. Awake! awake!

    The youth at once arose: a placid lake
    Came quiet to his eyes; and forest green,
    Cooler than all the wonders he had seen,
    Lull'd with its simple song his fluttering breast.
    How happy once again in grassy nest!


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