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Lo! where the mimic nursing mother stands
Folding a baby to her virgin breast,
That tries in vain to put its little hands
Through the white opening to that fragrant nest.
And now it sinks to sleep. Aurora blest
To feel its breathings inclines tenderly
Her gentle head, until her lips are prest
Softly as light upon each closed eye,
And sinless Love keeps watch o'er helpless infancy!
Then Nature called on Art, for sisters they,
And said, “ This best Aurora is my own;
But thou shalt lesson now the lovely May
In thy fine lore; each gesture and each tone
Inspired by me thy tempering power shall own,
Till even in her voice magic new shall dwell;
And in the dance, and when its flight is flown,
Thou shall delight of my bright Damosel
The limbs and frame to steep in thine enchanting spell."
Art came at call, and took her by the hand,
(O fingers fair! how delicately slim!
Whose thrilling touch might the wide world command !)
And taught with small ado, each flexile limb
Along the undulating dance to swim;
As some fair swan slow-floating with the tide,
Above its shadow beautifully dim,
While water seemeth air round its soft glide,
So imoved the peerless maid elate in virgin pride.
Lo! moving now in many a merry measure,
Arrayed in gossamery garb of green,
It well may seem hath come to take her pleasure
Beneath the moonlight in some forest scene,
All by her happy self, the Fairy Queen;
The while her train of fays pursue their sport
In other glades, quick as the starry sheen
To earth descending, ready to resort,
When she her bugle blows, unto the Silvan Court.
And now her figure to a stately height
With passionate poetic piety
Expands; for all array'd in holy white,
Aurora seems to lead procession high,
Unto the house august of Victory,
Around whose gates a grateful people meet,
And as mid glad acclaim she passes by,
With what an air divine that Priestess sweet
Scattereth triumphal flowers before the Conqueror's feet!
But all at once the magic of her hands
The stateliest to the simplest stole doth turn;
And after a few nymphlike steps, she stands
As if beside a spring; to fill her urn
Then stoops; and from the solitary bourne,
With vessel balanced in a graceful peace
By one slight touch upon her head upborné,
Homewards she walks, as if the grass were fleece,
Her steps they are so soft, the loveliest girl in Greece.
Fair is the marble, but as cold as fair,
Too like to death that blank expression seems
Round the still eyes ! Upon the rigid hair
Though graceful curl or braid, are miss'd the gleams
Which, in the wild delirium of his dreams,
The lover kisses, till his breath expires
Mid the blest glitter of the balmy beams
Fallen o'er Aurora's bosom that retires
Beneath such heavenly veil from all profane desires.
For she enacteth now the Queen of Love
The quiver'd Boy caressing in her breast,
Mid lights and shadows of th' Idalian Grove;
And as in that soft vale the God is prest,
All through her frame seems thrilling that unrest
More blissful far than joy's untroubled trance;
Confusion sweet her weakness bath confest;
And by a startling contrast to enhance
The spell that charms all eyes, away in fluttering dance
Aurora flies! A beauteous Bacchanal
Tossing her thyrsus, while her arms flung wide
Invoke beneath the vine-tree's purple pall,
Spread o'er their couch the leopard's speckled pride,
The God who lies by Ariadne's side!
Wild are her eyes, disorder'd are her locks,
And loosely round her waist the zone is tied,
And torrent-like, yet graceful still the shocks
Her frame receives, her dance seems bounding o'er the rocks!
Most exquisite all her living statuary !
What depth of soul her attitudes reveal!
O sacred sight is sweet simplicity!
And Love himself might holier passion feel
As humbly she doth at an altar kneel,
Beseeching heaven no blessing to dispense
(And sorrows hath she none for heaven to heal !)
To her young spirit void of all offence,
Save that best gift of all, unblemish'd Innocence !
Up took her lily hand the light guitar,
And laid it 'cross her bosom's scarce-seen swell
So delicate; then of the Holy War
She to its tinklings did a story tell,
In murmurs wild
as sea.nymph's wreathed shell
By starlight heard round shores of Sicily;
And oh! that low deep voice it suited well
The Ballad singing how a Page did die
For sake of her dead knight by sea of Galilee.
Or teaching her sweet lips the Doric tone
Of Scotia's daughters, she some simple air
Breathed o'er the strings in perfect unison,
Air that of old had many a maiden fair
Her love to feed or lighten her despair,
Sung sitting by her flock at evening-fold;
Most touching in their kindred character
Music and tone and words! for they all told
Of True Love far away, or buried in the mould.
Lo! list! she kneeling sings a vesper hymn
To Mary-Mother mild! her voice is faint
Yet clear as silver, and her eyes though dim
Fill’d with the light of tears; there is no taint
Or on the robes or spirit of the Saint,
Yet prays she that her sins may be forgiven,
Contrite in innocence! But no restraint
Subdues the music now, for she is shriven;
And in assurance full the incense mounts to heaven!
Thus was Aurora beauteous altogether
In sight of God, of angels, and of men,
Her life drew round it all the sunny weather
Of heaven, and she was heaven's own denizen.
Had danger threaten'd her, the coward then
Had leapt for her dear sake into the wave,
Or pluck'd her from the Lion's ravening den;
Yea, hoping against hope her life to save,
Dreadless gone down to search the blind night of the grave.
O Earth! who sometipies seem'st to be as beautiful
As that which is created e'er can be!
() Virtue, that on earth art oft as dutiful
As they in heaven call'd angels! when thy knee
Is bent in prayer, and all that look on thee
To the meek kneeler give a holier name,
Religion, or that dear word Piety ;
A humbler spirit in a purer frame
Unto thine altars ne'er than young Aurora came!
For ere her Spring had put forth all its bloom,
Half-orphan'd was she, smiliog through her tears
Upon the widow at her father's tomb.
But Heaven was gracious, and soon brighter years
Dried up those natural sorrows; and the spheres
Through which ber fine soul now look'd wide abroad
O'er heaven and earth, and works of those great peers
The Poets, with divinest lustre glow'd-
Aurora was beloved by Light and Music's God.
Apollo look'd into her heavenly eyes,
And they grew brighter in the godhead's gaze;
Like those of Priestess at a sacrifice,
The large dark orbs did so divinely blaze,
When her soul fed their light with glorious lays
Of virgins chaste and virtuous matrons, who
Misery's and martyrdom's most dreadful ways
In might of passions pure went smiling through
The high heroic scenes that Tragic Genius drew.
Shakspeare transform’d her to that passionate child
Of the warm South, whose love was like her woe,
Soul-sickening and life-killing, in its wild
Distraction on the breast of Romeo;
Or her chaste being, when he will'd it so,
To unupbraiding sorrow did subside,
And she grew Imogen, sole-wandering slow
Into a cave within the forest wide,
Where Nature's Nobles wept to think that she had died
The fair Fidele! in their solitude!
Then waking from that dream, the Lady wore
That Star's soft name and nature, that was woo'd,
And won, and wed, and murder'd by the Moor!
And soon as that most dreadful dream was o'er,
She sank into the utter hopelessness
Of her whom, like a swan, the waters bore
Singing away to death! They could no less,
Since Hamlet's eyes no more would his Opbelia bless!
She saw an old man who was once a king,
Bearing about his "grey discrowned head,"
As if a mad-house sent the rueful thing,
With ragged body all discoloured
By rusty miseries in a dungeon bred,
To fright the darkness of the roaring wood;
And looking on the mockery, then fell dead
The life within her, frozen all her blood,
For tottering in the storm her own dear father stood.
Then agonized with unendurable pangs, She dropt upon her knees, and seized on his, As if Cordelia's hands would tear the fangs Of some wild beast away; and many a kiss, That in its piteous ecstasy is bliss, Wanders all o'er his body's miseries, And o'er his brows; nor did the mercy miss, Deaf to the fury of the pitiless skies, The mouth that raved so sad, and old Lear's nightlike eyes !
And while, through Poetry's inspired page,
In kindred inspiration thus perused,
Like shrine-bound saint upon a pilgrimage
On sad life's visionary shows she mused,
Her form t'ennoble Nature not refused,
Or face still more to beautify, till shone,
Consummate season! deeply interfused
With spirit of each sweet month's benison,
April, and May, and June, commingled into one!
Bright must that beauty be that grows not dim
When rashly placed now by Aurora's side.
Dian she look'd in every graceful limb;
Her eyes were Juno's, but without their pride ;
Her zone had Venus envied, and 'twas tied
By the Three Graces, borrowing each a charm
From her their duteous service deified;
Her foot-fall mute, the white wave of her arm,
That breast, itself so still, yet full of peril and alarm.
To look on her at once was to be blest!
The eyes that met bers, nothing else could see
In this wide world; for in their lucid rest
Heaven lay with all its holiest imagery;
Ideas fair, pure feelings, fancies high,
And, softening all, a virgin sentiment
of the great worth of spotless chastity,
Within that lustrous region were y-blent-
And was it not, thus deck'd, a glorious firmament?
That she a radiant creature was to view,
And that all eyes that look'd on her admired
Well in her happiness Aurora knew;
For when she walk'd into the woods, retired
From human gaze, by sight of her inspired
Broke forth in song the gratulating grove;
And springing on her path the flowers desired
That through their fragrance her dear feet would move, That with the blue skies they might breathe on her their love!
And Heaven forbid those urns of light be blind
To their own beauty, spilling o'er the brim
From the soul moonshine, sunlight from the mind,
With joy now lustrous, now with pity dim,
As Poetry might paint the Seraphim!
Let them gaze on themselves, in glass or brook,
And while that dewy voice breathes forth a bymn
Of thanksgiving from Memory's holy book,
Then be thy spirit blest by its own angel look!
Thus in the Garden or the Wilderness,
Where many a pretty floweret springs to light,
One lovelier than the rest our eyes will bless
Conspicuous o'er them all, like planet bright
Amid the paler stars; some lily white
As Innocence own self, on whose soft leaves
Dewdrops like tears, sunbeams like smiles unite,
Yet still a something sad that gently grieves,
As if Morn claim'd the flower that by heaven's right was Eve's !
Dreaming of thee, I dream of all fair things
That lead a life of innocence and love;
In sunshine glancing on her silver wings
Through the pure ether an untroubled Dove,
Towards her still nest in the lonely grove !
The heavens preserve her plumage from all wrong,
Man's snare below, the cruel hawk above,
Soft is her bosom, but her wings are strong,
Hark! far within the wood her low, deep, murmuring song!
Or shall my fancy picture forth a Fawn
All by her sweet self in a forest glade,
Wherein the first faint flushes of the dawn
Just light enough to shew her eyes have made,
That, large and soft, serenely through the shade
Burn but for my delight! All unaware
Of footsteps near the hush where she is laid,
From her green dew-bed steals the creature fair,
Crops the wild-flowers in play, and drinks the balmy air.
Star of my soull a crowd of images
Come hurrying on me from earth, air, and sea ;
For all in Nature that most beauteous is,
Appears a type or shadow, Sweet! of Thee!
But let them vanish all; and on my knee
While I do gaze on what might even suffice,
Were there for us no immortality,
For promised Heaven-Thy bosom's Paradise
My song I humbly lay before thy gracious eyes.