Page images
PDF
EPUB

Or thronging all one porch of Paradise,

A group of Houris bowed to see
The dying Islamite, with hands and eyes

That said, we wait for thee.
Or mythic Uther's deeply-wounded son

In some fair space of sloping greens
Lay, dozing in the vale of Avalon,

And watched by weeping queens. Or hollowing one hand against his ear,

To list a footfall, ere he saw The wood-nymph, stayed the Ausonian king to hear

Of wisdom and of law.

Or over hills with peaky tops engrailed,

And many a tract of palm and rice, The throne of Indian Cama slowly sailed

A summer fanned with spice.

Or sweet Europa's mantle blew unclasped

From off' her shoulder backward borne:
From one hand drooped a crocus: one hand grasped

The mild bull's golden horn.
Or else flushed Ganymede, his rosy thigh

Half-buried in the Eagle's down,
Sole as a flying star shot through the sky

Above the pillared town.
Nor these alone : but every legend fair

Which the supreme Caucasian mind
Carved out of Nature for itself, was there,

Not less than life, designed.

[blocks in formation]

Then in the towers I placed great bells that swung

Moved of themselves, with silver sound; And with choice paintings of wise men I hung

The royal dais round.

For there was Milton like a seraph strong,

Beside him Shakspeare bland and mild ; And there the world-worn Dante grasped his song,

And somewhat grimly smiled.

And there the Iovian father of the rest ;

A million wrinkles carved his skin ;
A hundred winters snowed upon his breast,

From cheek and throat and chin.

Above, the fair hall-ceiling stately-set

Many an arch high up did lift,
And angels rising and descending met

With interchange of gift.
Below was all mosaic choicely planned

With cycles of the human tale
Of this wide world, the times of every land

So wrought, they will not fail.
The people here, a beast of burden slow,

Toiled onward, pricked with goads and stings ; Here played, a tiger, rolling to and fro

The heads and crowns of kings ;
Here rose, an athlete, strong to break or bind

All force in bonds that might endure,
And here once more like some sick man declined,

And trusted any cure.
But over these she trod : and those great bells

Began to chime. She took her throne :
She sat betwixt the shining Oriels,

To sing her songs alone.
And through the topmost Oriels' colored flame

Two godlike faces gazed below:
Plato the wise, and large-browed Verulam,

The first of those who know.

And all those names, that in their motion were

Full-welling fountain-heads of change, Betwixt the slender shafts were blazoned fair

In diverse raiment strange : Through which the lights, rose, amber, emerald, blue

Flushed in her temples and her eyes, And from her lips, as morn from Memnon, drew

Rivers of melodies.

No nightingale delighteth to prolong

Her low preamble all alone,
More than my soul to hear her echoed song

Throb through the ribbed stone ;
Singing and murmuring in her feastful mirth,

Joying to feel herself alive,
Lord over Nature, Lord of the visible earth,

Lord of the senses five;

Communing with herself: “ All these are mine,

And let the world have peace or wars, 'Tis one to me.” She—when young night divine

Crowned dying day with stars, Making sweet close of his delicious toils—

Lit light in wreaths and anadems, And pure quintessences of precious oils

În hollowed moons of gems,
To mimic heaven; and clapt her hands and cried,

I marvel if my still delight
In this great house so royal-rich, and wide,

Be flattered to the height.
“ O all things fair to sate my various eyes !

O shapes and hues that please me well! O silent faces of the Great and Wise,

My Gods, with whom I dwell!

[ocr errors]

"O God-like isolation which art mine,

I can but count thee perfect gain, What time I watch the darkening droves of swine

That range on yonder plain. " In filthy sloughs they roll a prurient skin,

They graze and wallow, breed and sleep; And oft some brainless devil enters in,

And drives them to the deep.”

Then of the moral instinct would she prate,

And of the rising from the dead,
As hers by right of full-accomplished Fate;

And at the last she said :

“ I take possession of man's mind and deed.

I care not what the sects may brawl. I sit as God, holding no form of creed,

But contemplating all.”

*

Full oft the riddle of the painful earth

Flashed through her as she sat alone, Yet not the less held she her solemn mirth,

And intellectual throne.

And so she throve and prospered : so three years

She prospered : on the fourth she fell, Like Herod, when the shout was in his ears,

Struck through with pangs of hell. Lest she should fail and perish utterly,

God, before whom ever lie bare The abysmal deeps of Personality,

Plagued her with sore despair. When she would think,where'er she turned her sight,

The airy hand confusion wrought, Wrote “Mene, mene," and divided quite

The kingdom of her thought.

[ocr errors]

Deep dread and loathing of her solitude

Fell on her, from which mood was born Scorn of herselt, again, from out that mood

Laughter at her self-scorn. 5 What! is not this my place of strength,” she said,

My spacious mansion built for me,
Whereof the strong foundation-stones were laid
Since

my first memory?”
But in dark corners of her palace stood

Uncertain shapes; and unawares
On white-eyed phantasms weeping tears of blood,

And horrible nightmares,
And hollow shades enclosing hearts of flame,

And, with dim fretted foreheads all,
On
corpses

three-months-old at noon she came, That stood against the wall. A spot of dull stagnation, without light

Or power of movement, seemed my soul, 'Mid onward-sloping motions infinite

Making for one sure goal.
A still salt pool, locked in with bars of sand;

Left on the shore; that hears all night
The plunging seas draw backward from the land

Their moon-led waters white.

A star that with the choral starry dance

Joined not, but stood, and standing saw
The hollow orb of moving Circumstance

Rolled round by one fixed law.
Back on herself her serpent pride had curled.

" No voice," she shrieked in that lone hall, “ No voice breaks through the stillness of this world,

One deep, deep silence all !”

« PreviousContinue »