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Full text of "Endymion. By John Keats. Illustrated with engravings on steel by F. Joubert. From paintings by E. J. Poynter, A. R. A"

^be 3. C. Saul Collection 
of 

Binetecntb Centura? 
lEnoUsb Xtterature 

IpuicbaseD in part 
tbrougb a contribution to tbe 
Xibrarp jfun&s maDe b^ tbe 
department of lEnglisb in 
"Ulnirersity College. 



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KEATS — POYNTER. 



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Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/endymionbyjohnkeOOkeat 



E N D Y M I 




JOHN KEATS. 

ILLUSTRATED WITH ENGRAVINGS ON STEEL 

BY 

F. J O U B E R T. 

FROM PAINTINGS 

BY 

E. J. POYNTER, A.R.A. 




3Lonl)on : 

E. MOXON, SON AND CO., 

44, DOVER STREET, W., and 
I, AMEN CORNER, PATERNOSTER ROW, E.C. 

1873. 



PR 



LONDON : 

SWIFT AND CO., REGENT PRESS, KING STREET, 
REGENT STREET, W. 



PREFACE. 



Knowing within myself the manner in which this Poem 
has been produced, it is not without a feehng of regret 
that I make it pubHc. 

What manner I mean, will be quite clear to the reader, 
who must soon perceive great inexperience, immaturity, 
and every error denoting a feverish attempt, rather than 
a deed accomplished. The two first books, and indeed 
the two last, I feel sensible are not of such completion 
as to warrant their passing the press ; nor should they if 
I thought a year's castigation would do them any good ; 
— it will not : the foundations are too sandy. It is just 
that this youngster should die away : a sad thought for 
me, if I had not some hope that while it is dwindling 
I may be plotting, and fitting myself for verses fit to 
live. 

This may be speaking too presumptuously, and may 

deserve a punishment : but no feeling man will be forward 

to inflict it : he will leave me alone, with the conviction 

b 



vi PREFACE. 

that there is not a fiercer hell than the failure in a great 
object. This is not written with the least atom of 
purpose to forestall criticisms of course, but from the 
desire I have to conciliate men who are competent to 
look, and who do look with a zealous eye, to the honour 
of English literature. 

The imagination of a boy is healthy, and the mature 
imagination of a man is healthy ; but there is a space of 
life between, in which the soul is in a ferment, the cha- 
racter undecided, the way of life uncertain, the ambition 
thick-sighted : thence proceeds mawkishness, and all the 
thousand bitters which those men I speak of must neces- 
sarily taste in going over the following pages. 

I hope I have not in too late a day touched the beautiful 
mythology of Greece, and dulled its brightness : for I wish 
to try once more, before I bid it farewell. 



Teignmouth, April lo, 1818. 



ILLUSTRATIONS. 



Plate I. 

Leading the way, young damsels danced along, 

Bearing the burden of a shepherd's song ; 

Each having a white wicker, overbrimm'd 

With April's tender younglings : next, well trimm'd, 

A crowd of shepherds with as sun-burnt looks 

As may be read of in Arcadian books." Tage 6. 

Plate II. 

"O Thou! 

Who through whole solemn hours dost sit, and hearken 

The dreary melody of bedded reeds — 

In desolate places, where dank moisture breeds 

The pipy hemlock to strange overgrowth 

Bethinking thee, how melancholy loth 

Thou wast to lose fair Syrinx — " Page 1 1. 

Plate III. 

" A little shallop, floating there hard by. 
Pointed its beak over the fringed bank ; 
And soon it lightly dipt, and rose, and sank. 
And dipt again, with the young couple's weight, 
Peona guiding, through the water straight. 
Towards a bowery island opposite-" 



Page 1 8. 



ILLUSTRATIONS. 



Plate IV. 

" Whence that completed form of all completeness ? 
Whence came that high perfection of all sweetness ? 
Speak, stubborn earth, and tell me where, O where 
Hast thou a symbol of her golden hair ? " 

Plate V. 

" Before the crystal heavens darken, 
I watch and dote upon the silver lakes, 
Pictured in western cloudiness, that takes 
The semblance of gold rocks and bright gold sands, 
Islands, and creeks, and amber-fretted strands 
With horses prancing o'er them, palaces 
And towers of amethyst, — " 



Plate VI. 

" Strive to find 
A half-forgetfulness in mountain wind." 



ENDYMION 



BOOK I. 

A THING of beauty is a joy for ever: 

Its loveliness increases ; it will never 

Pass into nothingness ; but still will keep 

A bower quiet for us, and a sleep 

Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breath 

Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing 

A flowery band to bind us to the earth, 

Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth 

Of noble natures, of the gloomy days. 

Of all the unhealthy and o'er-darken'd ways 

Made for our searching : yes, in spite of all, 

Some shape of beauty moves away the pall 

From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon, 

Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon 

For simple sheep; and such are daffodils 

With the green world they live in ; and clear rills 

B 



2 



ENDYMION. 



That for themselves a cooHng covert make 
'Gainst the hot season ; the mid-forest brake, 
Rich with a sprinkHng of fair musk-rose blooms : 
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms 
We have imagined for the mighty dead; 
All lovely tales that we have heard or read : 
An endless fountain of immortal drink, 
Pouring unto us from the heaven's brink. 

Nor do we merely feel these essences 
For one short hour; no, even as the trees 
That whisper round a temple become soon 
Dear as the temple's self, so does the moon, 
The passion poesy, glories infinite, 
Haunt us till they become a cheering light 
Unto our souls, and bound to us so fast, 
That, whether there be shine, or gloom o'ercast, 
They always must be with us, or we die. 

Therefore, 'tis with full happiness that I 
Will trace the story of Endymion. 
The very music of the name has gone 
Into my being, and each pleasant scene 
Is growing fresh before me as the green 
Of our own valleys : so I will begin 



t 

ENDYMION. 



3 



Now while I cannot hear the city's din; 

Now while the early budders are just new, 

And run in mazes of the youngest hue 

About old forests ; while the willow trails 

Its delicate amber; and the dairy pails 

Bring home increase of milk. And, as the year 

Grows lush in juicy stalk, I'll smoothly steer 

My little boat, for many quiet hours. 

With streams that deepen freshly into bowers. 

Many and many a verse I hope to write, 

Before the daisies, vermeil rimm'd and white, 

Hide in deep herbage ; and ere yet the bees 

Hum about globes of clover and sweet peas, 

I must be near the middle of my story. 

O may no wintry season, bare and hoary. 

See it half-finished : but let Autumn bold. 

With universal tinge of sober gold. 

Be all about me when I make an end. 

And now at once, adventuresome, I send 

My herald thought into a wilderness : 

There let its trumpet blow, and quickly dress . 

My uncertain path with green, that I may speed 

Easily onward, thorough flowers and weed. 



Upon the sides of Latmos was outspread 



4 



ENDYMION. 



A mighty forest ; for the moist earth fed 

So plenteously all weed-hidden roots 

Into o'erhanging boughs, and precious fruits. 

And it had gloomy shades, sequester'd deep, 

Where no man went ; and if from shepherd's keep 

A lamb stray'd far a-down those inmost glens, 

Never again saw he the happy pens 

Whither his brethren, bleating with content, 

Over the hills at every night-fall went. 

Among the shepherds 'twas believed ever. 

That not one fleecy lamb that thus did sever 

From the white flock, but pass'd unworried 

By any wolf, or pard with prying head. 

Until it came to some unfooted plains 

Where fed the herds of Pan : ay, great his gains 

Who thus one lamb did lose. Paths there were many, 

Winding through palmy fern, and rushes fenny. 

And ivy banks ; all leading pleasantly 

To a wide lawn, whence one could only see 

Stems thronging all around between the swell 

Of tuft and slanting branches : who could tell 

The freshness of the space of heaven above. 

Edged round with dark tree-tops ? through which a dove 

Would often beat its wings, and often too 

A little cloud would move across the blue. 



ENDYMION. 



Full in the middle of this pleasantness 
There stood a marble altar, with a tress 
Of flowers budded newly; and the dew 
Had taken fairy phantasies to strew 
Daisies upon the sacred sward last eve, 
And so the dawned light in pomp receive. 
For 'twas the morn : Apollo's upward fire 
Made every eastern cloud a silvery pyre 
Of brightness so unsullied, that therein 
A melancholy spirit well might win 
Oblivion, and melt out his essence fine 
Into the winds : rain-scented eglantine 
Gave temperate sweets to that well-wooing sun ; 
The lark was lost in him ; cold springs had run 
To warm their chilliest bubbles in the grass ; 
Man's voice was on the mountains ; and the mass ' 
Of nature's lives and wonders pulsed tenfold. 
To feel this sun-rise and its glories old. 

Now while the silent workings of the dawn 
Were busiest, into that self-same lawn 
All suddenly, with joyful cries, there sped 
A troop of little children garlanded ; 
Who gathering round the altar, seem'd to pry 
Earnestly round as wishing to espy 



6 



ENDYMION. 



Some folk of holiday: nor had they waited 

For many moments, ere their ears were sated 

With a faint breath of music, which even then 

Filled out its voice, and died away again. 

Within a little space again it gave 

Its airy swellings, with a gentle wave. 

To light-hung leaves, in smoothest echoes breaking 

Through copse-clad valleys, — ere their death, o'ertaking 

The surgy murmurs of the lonely sea. 

And now, as deep into the wood as we 
Might mark a lynx's eye, there glimmer'd light 
Fair faces and a rush of garments white. 
Plainer and plainer showing, till at last 
Into the widest alley they all past. 
Making directly for the woodland altar. 
O kindly muse ! let not my weak tongue falter 
In telling of this goodly company. 
Of their old piety, and of their glee : 
But let a portion of ethereal dew 
Fall on my head, and presently unmew 
My soul ; that I may dare, in wayfaring, 
To stammer where old Chaucer used to sing. 

Leading the way, young damsels danced along. 



f 



ENDYMION. 



Bearing the burden of a shepherd's song; 

Each having a white wicker, overbrimm'd 

With April's tender younghngs : next, well trimm'd, 

A crowd of shepherds with as sunburnt looks 

As may be read of in Arcadian books ; 

Such as sat listening round Apollo's pipe, 

When the great deity, for earth too ripe. 

Let his divinity o'erflowing die 

In music, through the vales of Thessaly : 

Some idly trail'd their sheep-hooks on the ground, 

And some kept up a shrilly mellow sound 

With ebon-tipped flutes : close after these. 

Now coming from beneath the forest trees, 

A venerable priest full soberly, 

Begirt with ministering looks : always his eye 

Steadfast upon the matted turf he kept, 

And after him his sacred vestments swept. 

From his right hand there swung a vase, milk-white. 

Of mingled wine, out-sparkling generous light; 

And in his left he held a basket full 

Of all sweet herbs that searching eye could cull : 

Wild thyme, and valley-lilies whiter still 

Than Leda's love, and cresses from the rill. 

His aged head, crowned with beechen wreath, 

Seem'd like a poll of ivy in the teeth 



8 ENDYMION. 

Of winter hoar. Then came another crowd 

Of shepherds, hfting in due time aloud 

Their share of the ditty. After them appear'd, 

Up-follow'd, by a multitude that rear'd 

Their voices to the clouds, a fair-wrought car 

Easily rolling so as scarce to mar 

The freedom of three steeds of dapple brown. 

Who stood therein did seem of great renown 

Among the throng. His youth was fully blown. 

Showing like Ganymede to manhood grown ; 

And, for those simple times, his garments were 

A chieftain's king's : beneath his breast, half bare, 

Was hung a silver bugle, and between 

His nervy knees there lay a boar-spear keen. 

A smile was on his countenance ; he seem'd 

To common lookers-on, like one who dream'd 

Of idleness in groves Elysian : 

But there were some who feelingly would scan 

A lurking trouble in his nether lip. 

And see that oftentimes the reins would slip 

Through his forgotten hands : then would they sigh, 

And think of yellow leaves, of owlets' cry. 

Of logs piled solemnly. — Ah, well-a-day. 

Why should our young Endymion pine away ! 



ENDYMION. 



Soon the assembly, in a circle ranged, 
Stood silent round the shrine : each look was changed 
To sudden veneration : woman meek 
Beckon'd their sons to silence ; while each cheek 
Of virgin bloom paled gently for slight fear. 
Endymion too, without a forest peer, 
Stood, wan, and pale, and with an awed face, 
Among his brothers of the mountain chase. 
In midst of all, the venerable priest 
Eyed them with joy from greatest to the least, 
And, after lifting up his aged hands, 
Thus spake he : Men of Latmos ! shepherd bands ! 
Whose care it is to guard a thousand flocks : 
Whether descended from beneath the rocks 
That overtop your mountains ; whether come 
From valleys where the pipe is never dumb ; 
Or from your swelling downs, where sweet air stirs 
Blue hare-bells lightly, and where prickly furze 
Buds lavish gold ; or ye, whose precious charge 
Nibble their fill at ocean's very marge, 
Whose mellow reeds are touch'd with sounds forlorn 
By the dim echoes of old Triton's horn : 
Mothers and wives ! who day by day prepare 
The scrip, with needments, for the mountain air ; 
And all ye gentle girls who foster up 

D 



10 



ENDYMION. 



Udderless lambs, and in a little cup 

Will put choice honey for a favour'd youth : 

Yea, every one attend ! for in good truth 

Our vows are wanting to our great god Pan. 

Are not our lowing heifers sleeker than 

Night-swollen mushrooms ? Are not our wide plains 

Speckled with countless fleeces? Have not rains 

Green'd over April's lap ? No howling sad 

Sickens our fearful ewes; and we have had 

Great bounty from Endymion our lord. 

The earth is glad : the merry lark has pour'd 

His early song against yon breezy sky, 

That spreads so clear o'er our solemnity." 

Thus ending, on the shrine he heap'd a spire 
Of teeming sweets, enkindling sacred fire : 
Anon he stain'd the thick and spongy sod 
With wine, in honour of the shepherd-god. 
Now while the earth was drinking it, and while 
Bay leaves were crackling in the fragrant pile, 
And gummy frankincense was sparkling bright 
'Neath smothering parsley, and a hazy light 
Spread greyly eastward, thus a chorus sang: 

" thou, whose mighty palace roof doth hang 



ENDYMION. 



From jagged trunks, and overshadoweth 

Eternal whispers, glooms, the birth, life, death 

Of unseen flowers in heavy peacefulness. 

Who lovest to see the hamadryads dress 

Their ruffled locks where meeting hazels darken ; 

And through whole solemn hours dost sit, and hearken 

The dreary melody of bedded reeds — 

In desolate places, where dank moisture breeds 

The pipy hemlock to strange overgrowth. 

Bethinking thee, how melancholy loth 

Thou wast to lose fair Syrinx — do thou now, 

By thy love's milky brow ! 

By all the trembling mazes that she ran. 

Hear us, great Pan ! 

" O thou, for whose soul-soothing quiet, turtles 
Passion their voices cooingly 'mong myrtles, 
What time thou wanderest at eventide 
Through sunny meadows that outskirt the side 
Of thine enmossed realms : O thou, to whom 
Broad-leaved fig-trees even now foredoom 
Their ripened fruitage ; yellow-girted bees 
Their golden honeycombs ; our village leas 
Their fairest blossom'd beans and poppied corn ; 
The chuckling linnet its five young unborn. 



12 ENDYMION. 

To sing for thee ; low-creeping strawberries 
Their summer coolness; pent-up butterflies 
Their freckled wings ; yea, the fresh-budding year 
All its completions — be quickly near, 
By every wind that nods the mountain pine, 
forester divine ! 

" Thou, to whom every faun and satyr flies 
For willing service ; whether to surprise 
The squatted hare while in half-sleeping fit; 
Or upward ragged precipices flit 
To save poor lambkins from the eagle's maw; 
Or by mysterious enticement draw 
Bewilder'd shepherds to their path again ; 
Or to tread breathless round the frothy main, 
And gather up all fancifullest shells 
For thee to tumble into Naiad's cells, 
And, being hidden, laugh at their out-peeping: 
Or to delight thee with fantastic leaping. 
The while they pelt each other on the 'crown 
With silvery oak-apples, and fir-cones brown — 
By all the echoes that about thee ring. 
Hear us, O satyr king! 



O Hearkener to the loud-clapping shears. 



ENDYMION. 



13 



While ever and anon to his shorn peers 
A ram goes bleating : Winder of the horn, 
When snouted wild-boars routing tender corn 
Anger our huntsman : Breather round our farms, 
To keep off mildews, and all weather harms : 
Strange ministrant of undescribed sounds, 
That come a-swooning over hollow grounds. 
And wither drearily on barren moors : 
Dread opener of the mysterious doors 
Leading to universal knowledge — see, 
Great son of Dryope, 

The many that are come to pay their vows 
With leaves about their brows ! 

" Be still the unimaginable lodge 
For solitary thinkings ; such as dodge 
Conception to the very bourne of heaven. 
Then leave the naked brain : be still the leaven, 
That spreading in this dull and clodded earth. 
Gives it a touch ethereal— a new birth : 
Be still a symbol of immensity: 
A firmament reflected in a sea ; 
An element filling the space between ; 
An unknown — but no more : we humbly screen 
With uplift hands our foreheads, lowly bending, 

E 



ENDYMION. 



And giving out a shout most heaven-rending, 
Conjure thee to receive our humble Paean, 
Upon thy Mount Lycean ! " 

Even while they brought the burden to a close, 
A shout from the whole multitude arose, 
That lingered in the air like dying rolls 
Of abrupt thunder, when Ionian shoals 
Of dolphins bob their noses through the brine. 
Meantime, on shady levels, mossy fine, 
Young companies nimbly began dancing 
To the swift treble pipe, and humming string. 
Ay, those fair living forms swam heavenly 
To tunes forgotten — out of memory : 
Fair creatures ! whose young children's children bred 
Thermopylae its heroes — not yet dead, 
But in old marbles ever beautiful. 
High genitors, unconscious did they cull 
Time's sweet first-fruits — they danced to weariness, 
And then in quiet circles did they press 
The hillock turf, and caught the latter end 
Of some strange history, potent to send 
A young mind from its bodily tenement. 
Or they might watch the quoit-pitchers, intent 
On either side; pitying the sad death 



ENDYMION. 



Of Hyacinthus, when the cruel breath 

Of Zephyr slew him, — Zephyr penitent, 

Who now, ere Phoebus mounts the firmament, 

Fondles the flower amid the sobbing rain. 

The archers too, upon a wider plain. 

Beside the feathery whizzing of the shaft 

And the dull twanging bowstring, and the raft 

Branch down sweeping from a tall ash top, 

Call'd up a thousand thoughts to envelope 

Those who would watch. Perhaps, the trembling knee 

And frantic gape of lonely Niobe, 

Poor, lonely Niobe ! when her lovely young 

Were dead and gone, and her caressing tongue 

Lay a lost thing upon her paly lip. 

And very, very deadliness did nip. 

Her motherly cheeks. Aroused from this sad mood 

By one, who at a distance loud halloo'd, 

Uplifting his strong bow into the air, 

Many might after brighter visions stare: 

After the Argonauts, in blind amaze 

Tossing about on Neptune's restless ways, 

Until, from the horizon's vaulted side. 

There shot a golden splendour far and wide. 

Spangling those million poutings of the brine 

With quivering ore : 'twas even an awful shine 



i6 



ENDYMION 



From the exaltations of Apollo's bow; 

A heavenly beacon in their dreary woe. 

Who thus were ripe for high contemplating, 

Might turn their steps towards the sober ring 

Where sat Endymion and the aged priest 

'Mong shepherds gone in eld, whose looks increased 

The silvery setting of their mortal star. 

There they discoursed upon the fragile bar 

That keeps us from our homes ethereal ; 

And what our duties there : to nightly call 

Vesper, the beauty-crest of summer weather; 

To summon all the downiest clouds together 

For the sun's purple couch ; to emulate 

In ministering the potent rule of fate 

With speed of fire-tail'd exhalations ; 

To tint her pallid cheek with bloom, who cons 

Sweet poesy by moonlight : besides these, 

A world of other unguess'd offices. 

Anon they wander'd, by divine converse, 

Into Elysium; vying to rehearse 

Each one his own anticipated bliss. 

One felt heart-certain that he could not miss 

His quick-gone love, among fair blossom'd boughs, 

Where every zephyr-sigh pouts, and endows 

Her lips with music for the welcoming. 



ENDYMION. 



Another wish'd, 'mid that eternal spring, 

To meet his rosy child, with feathery sails. 

Sweeping, eye-earnestly, through almond vales : 

Who, suddenly, should stoop through the smooth wind 

And with the balmiest leaves his temples bind ; 

And, ever after, through these regions be 

His messenger, his little Mercury. 

Some were athirst in soul to see again 

Their fellow-huntsmen o'er the wide champaign 

In times long past; to sit with them, and talk 

Of all the chances in their earthly walk; 

Comparing, joyfully, their plenteous stores 

Of happiness, to when upon the moors, 

Benighted, close they huddled from the cold, 

And shared their famish'd scrips. Thus all out-told 

Their fond imaginations, — saving him 

Whose eyelids curtain'd up their jewels dim, 

Endymion : yet hourly had he striven 

To hide the cankering venom, that had riven 

His fainting recollections. Now indeed 

His senses had swoon'd off : he did not heed 

The sudden silence, or the whispers low, 

Or the old eyes dissolving at his woe. 

Or anxious calls, or close of trembling palms, 

Or maiden's sigh, that grief itself embalms 



i8 



ENDYMION. 



But in the self-same fixed trance he kept, 
Like one who on the earth had never stept. 
Ay, even as dead-still as a marble man, 
Frozen in that old tale Arabian. 

Who whispers him so pantingly and close ? 
Peona, his sweet sister : of all those, 
His friends, the dearest. Hushing signs she made. 
And breathed a sister's sorrow to persuade 
A yielding up, a cradling on her care. 
Her eloquence did breathe away the curse 
She led him, like some midnight spirit nurse 
Of happy changes in emphatic dreams. 
Along a path between two little streams, — 
Guarding his forehead, with her round elbow. 
From low-grown branches, and his footsteps slow 
From stumbling over stumps and hillocks small ; 
Until they came to where these streamlets fall, 
With mingled bubblings and a gentle rush. 
Into a river, clear, brimful, and flush 
With crystal mocking of the trees and sky 
A little shallop, floating there hard by, 
Pointed its beak over the fringed bank; 
And soon it lightly dipt, and rose, and sank, 
And dipt again, with the young couple's weight, — 



ENDYMION. 



Peona guiding, through the water straight, 
Towards a bowery island opposite ; 
Which gaining presently, she steered light 
Into a shady, fresh, and ripply cove, 
Where nested was an arbour, overwove 
By many a summer's silent fingering; 
To whose cool bosom she was used to bring 
Her playmates, with their needle broidery. 
And minstrel memories of times gone by. 

So she was gently glad to see him laid 
Under her favourite bower's quiet shade, 
On her own couch, new made of flower leaves, 
Dried carefully on the cooler side of sheaves 
When last the sun his autumn tresses shook, 
And the tann'd harvesters rich armfuls took. 
Soon was he quieted to slumbrous rest : 
But, ere it crept upon him, he had prest 
Peona's busy hand against his lips. 
And, still a-sleeping, held her finger-tips 
In tender pressure. And as a willow keeps 
A patient watch over the stream that creeps 
Windingly by it, so the quiet maid 
Held her in peace : so that a whispering blade 
Of grass, a wailful gnat, a bee bustling 



20 



ENDYMION. 



Down in the blue-bells, or a wren light rustling 
Among sere leaves and twigs, might all be heard. 

O magic sleep ! O comfortable bird, 
That broodest o'er the troubled sea of the mind 
Till it is hush'd and smooth ! O unconfined 
Restraint ! imprison'd liberty ! great key 
To golden palaces, strange minstrelsy, 
Fountains grotesque, new trees, bespangled caves. 
Echoing grottoes, full of tumbling waves 
And moonlight ; ay, to all the mazy world 
Of silvery enchantment ! — who, upfurl'd 
Beneath thy drowsy wing a triple hour. 
But renovates and lives ? — Thus, in the bower, 
Endymion was calm'd to life again. 
Opening his eyelids with a healthier brain, 
He said : " I feel this thine endearing love 
All through my bosom : thou art as a dove 
Trembling its closed eyes and sleeked wings 
About me ; and the pearliest dew not brings 
Such morning incense from the fields of May, 
As do those brighter drops that twinkling stray 
From those kind eyes, — the very home and haunt 
Of sisterly affection. Can I want 
Aught else, aught nearer heaven, than such tears ? 



ENDYMION. 



Yet dry them up, in bidding hence all fears 

That, any longer, I will pass my days 

Alone and sad. No, I will once more raise 

My voice upon the mountain heights ; once more 

Make my horn parley from their foreheads hoar: 

Again my trooping hounds their tongues shall loll 

Around the breathed boar: again I'll poll 

The fair-grown yew-tree, for a chosen bow : 

And, when the pleasant sun is getting low. 

Again I'll linger in a sloping mead 

To hear the speckled thrushes, and see feed 

Our idle sheep. So be thou cheered, sweet ! 

And, if thy lute is here, softly entreat 

My soul to keep in its resolved course." 

Hereat Peona, in their silver source, 
Shut her pure sorrow-drops with glad exclaim. 
And took a lute, from which there pulsing came 
A lively prelude, fashioning the way 
In which her voice should wander. 'Twas a lay 
More subtle-cadenced, more forest wild 
Than Dryope's lone lulling of her child ; 
And nothing since has floated in the air 
So mournful strange. Surely some influence rare 
Went, spiritual, through the damsel's hand ; 



22 



ENDYMION. 



For Still, with Delphic emphasis, she spann'd 

The quick invisible strings, even though she saw 

Endymion's spirit melt away and thaw 

Before the deep intoxication. 

But soon she came, with sudden burst, upon 

Her self-possession — swung the lute aside, 

And earnestly said : " Brother, 'tis vain to hide 

That thou dost know of things mysterious. 

Immortal, starry; such alone could thus 

Weigh down thy nature. Hast thou sinn'd in aught 

Offensive to the heavenly powers ? Caught 

A Paphian dove upon a message sent ? 

Thy deathful bow against some deer-herd bent. 

Sacred to Dian ? Haply, thou hast seen 

Her naked limbs among the alders green ; 

And that, alas ! is death. No, I can trace 

Something more high perplexing in thy face !" 

Endymion look'd at her, and press'd her hand, 
And said, " Art thou so pale, who wast so bland 
And merry in our meadows ? How is this ? 
Tell me thine ailment ; tell me all amiss ! 
Ah ! thou hast been unhappy at the change 
Wrought suddenly in me. What indeed more strange? 
Or more complete to overwhelm surmise? 



ENDYMION 



Ambition is no sluggard : 'tis no prize, 

That toiling years would put within my grasp, 

That I have sigh'd for : with so deadly gasp 

No man e'er panted for a mortal love. 

So all have set my heavier grief above 

These things which happen. Rightly have they done 

I, who still saw the horizontal sun 

Heave his broad shoulder o'er the edge of the world, 

Out-facing Lucifer, and then had hurl'd 

My spear aloft, as signal for the chase — 

I, who, for very sport of heart, would race 

With my own steed from Araby ; pluck down 

A vulture from his towery perching; frown 

A lion into growling, loth retire — 

To lose, at once, all my toil-breeding fire, 

And sink thus low ! but I will ease my breast 

Of secret grief, here in this bowery nest. 

" This river does not see the naked sky. 
Till it begins to progress silverly 
Around the western border of the wood, 
Whence, from a certain spot, its winding flood 
Seems at the distance like a crescent moon : 
And in that nook, the very pride of June, 
Had I been used to pass my weary eves ; 



24 ENDYMION. 

The rather for the sun unwilHng leaves 

So dear a picture of his sovereign power, 

And I could witness his most kingly hour, 

When he doth tighten up the golden reins, 

And paces leisurely down amber plains 

His snorting four. Now when his chariot last 

Its beams against the zodiac-lion cast. 

There blossom'd suddenly a magic bed 

Of sacred dittany, and poppies red : 

At which I wonder'd greatly, knowing well 

That but one night had wrought this flowery spell ; 

And, sitting down close by, began to muse 

What it might mean. Perhaps, thought I, Morpheus, 

In passing here, his owlet pinions shook ; 

Or, it may be, ere matron Night uptook 

Her ebon urn, young Mercury, by stealth. 

Had dipp'd his rod in it : such garland wealth 

Came not by common growth. Thus on I thought. 

Until my head was dizzy and distraught. 

Moreover, through the dancing poppies stole 

A breeze most softly lulling to my soul ; 

And shaping visions all about my sight 

Of colours, wings, and bursts of spangly light; 

The which became more strange, and strange, and dim 

And then were gulf'd in a tumultuous swim : 



ENDYMION. 



And then I fell asleep. Ah, can I tell 
The enchantment that afterwards befel ? 
Yet it was but a dream : yet such a dream 
That never tongue, although it overteem 
With mellow utterance, like a cavern spring. 
Could figure out and to conception bring 
All I beheld and felt. Methought I lay 
Watching the zenith, where the milky way 
Among the stars in virgin splendour pours : 
And travelling my eye, until the doors 
Of heaven appear'd to open for my flight, 
I became loth and fearful to alight 
From such high soaring by a downward glance 
So kept me stedfast in that airy trance. 
Spreading imaginary pinions wide. 
When, presently, the stars began to glide, 
And faint away, before my eager view : 
At which I sigh'd that I could not pursue, 
And dropp'd my vision to the horizon's verge ; 
And lo ! from opening clouds, I saw emerge 
The loveliest moon, that ever silver'd o'er 
A shell for Neptune's goblet; she did soar 
So passionately bright, my dazzled soul 
Commingling with her argent spheres did roll 
Through clear and cloudy, even when she went 

H 



26 



ENDYMION. 



At last into a dark and vapoury tent — 

Whereat, methought, the Hdless-eyed train 

Of planets all were in the blue again. 

To commune with those orbs, once more I raised 

My sight right upward : but it was quite dazed 

By a bright something, sailing down apace. 

Making me quickly veil my eyes and face : 

Again I look'd, and, O ye deities, 

Who from Olympus watch our destinies ! 

Whence that completed form of all completeness ? 

Whence came that high perfection of all sweetness ? 

Speak, stubborn earth, and tell me where, where 

Hast thou a symbol of her golden hair? 

Not oat-sheaves drooping in the western sun ; 

Not — thy soft hand, fair sister ! let me shun 

Such follying before thee — yet she had. 

Indeed, locks bright enough to make me mad ; 

And they were simply gordian'd up and braided, 

Leaving, in naked comeliness, unshaded, 

Her pearl round ears, white neck, and orbed brow; 

The which were blended in, I know not how, 

With such a paradise of lips and eyes, 

Blush-tinted cheeks, half smiles, and faintest sighs, 

That, when I think thereon, my spirit clings 

And plays about its fancy, till the stings 



ENDYMION. 



Of human neighbourhood envenom all. 

Unto what awful power shall I call ? 

To what high fane ? — Ah ! see her hovering feet, 

More bluely vein'd, more soft, more whitely sweet 

Than those of sea-born Venus, when she rose 

From out her cradle shell. The wind out-blows 

Her scarf into a fluttering pavilion ; 

'Tis blue, and over-spangled with a million 

Of little eyes, as though thou wert to shed, 

Over the darkest, lushest blue-bell bed, 

Handfuls of daisies." — " Endymion, how strange ! 

Dream within dream !" — She took an airy range. 

And then, towards me, like a very maid. 

Came blushing, waning, willing, and afraid. 

And press'd me by the hand : Ah ! 'twas too much ; 

Methought I fainted at the charmed touch. 

Yet held my recollection, even as one 

Who dives three fathoms where the waters run 

Gurgling in beds of coral : for anon, 

I felt upmounted in that region 

Where falling stars dart their artillery forth, 

And eagles struggle with the buffeting north 

That balances the heavy meteor-stone ; — 

Felt too, I was not fearful, nor alone. 

But lapp'd and lull'd along the dangerous sky. 



* 

28 



ENDYMION. 



Soon, as it seem'd, we left our journeying high, 

And straightway into frightful eddies swoop'd ; 

Such as aye muster where grey time has scoop'd 

Huge dens and caverns in a mountain's side: 

There hollow sounds aroused me, and I sigh'd 

To faint once more by looking on my bliss — 

I was distracted ; madly did I kiss 

The wooing arms which held me, and did give 

My eyes at once to death : but 'twas to live, 

To take in draughts of life from the gold fount 

Of kind and passionate looks ; to count, and count 

The moments, by some greedy help that seem'd 

A second self, that each might be redeem'd 

And plundered of its load of blessedness. 

Ah, desperate mortal ! I even dared to press 

Her very cheek against my crowned lip. 

And, at that moment, felt my body dip 

Into a warmer air: a moment more. 

Our feet were soft in flowers. There was store 

Of newest joys upon that alp. Sometimes 

A scent of violets, and blossoming limes, 

Loiter'd around us; then of honey cells. 

Made delicate from all white-flower bells ; 

And once, above the edges of our nest. 

An arch face peep'd, — an Oread as I guess'd. 



ENDYMION. 



" Why did I dream that sleep o'er-power'd me 
In midst of all this heaven? Why not see, 
Far off, the shadows of his pinions dark. 
And stare them from me ? But no, like a spark 
That needs must die, although its little beam 
Reflects upon a diamond, my sweet dream 
Fell into nothing — into stupid sleep 
And so it was, until a gentle creep, 
A careful moving caught my waking ears. 
And up I started : Ah ! my sighs, my tears, 
My clenched hands ; — for lo ! the poppies hung 
Dew-dabbled on their stalks, the ouzel sung 
A heavy ditty, and the sullen day 
Had chidden herald Hesperus away, 
With leaden looks : the solitary breeze 
Bluster'd, and slept, and its wild self did tease 
With wayward melancholy; and I thought, 
Mark me, Peona ! that sometimes it brought 
Faint fare-thee-wells, and sigh-shrilled adieus ! — 
Away I wander' d — all the pleasant hues 
Of heaven and earth had faded : deepest shades 
Were deepest dungeons ; heaths and sunny glades 
Were full of pestilent light : our taintless rills 
Seem'd sooty, and o'erspread with upturn'd gills 
Of dying fish ; the vermeil rose had blown 



30 



ENDYMION. 



In frightful scarlet, and its thorns outgrown 

Like spiked aloe. If an innocent bird 

Before my heedless footsteps stirr'd, and stirr'd 

In little journeys, I beheld in it 

A disguised demon, missioned to knit 

My soul with under darkness ; to entice 

My stumblings down some monstrous precipice : 

Therefore I eager followed, and did curse 

The disappointment. Time, that aged nurse, 

Rock'd me to patience. Now, thank gentle heaven ! 

These things, with all their comfortings, are given 

To my down-sunken hours, and with thee. 

Sweet sister, help to stem the ebbing sea 

Of weary life." 

Thus ended he, and both 
Sat silent : for the maid was very loth 
To answer; feeling well that breathed words 
Would all be lost, unheard, and vain as swords 
Against the enchased crocodile, or leaps 
Of grasshoppers against the sun. She weeps, 
And wonders ; struggles to devise some blame ■ 
To put on such a look as would say. Shame 
On this poor weakness I but, for all her strife, 
She could have soon have crushed away the life 



1 
i 

I 




ENDYMION. 



From a sick dove. At length, to break the pause, 

She said with trembhng chance : " Is this the cause 

This all ? Yet it is strange, and sad, alas ! 

That one who through this middle earth should pass 

Most like a sojourning demi-god, and leave 

His name upon the harp-string, should achieve 

No higher bard than simple maidenhood. 

Singing alone, and fearfully, — how the blood 

Left his young cheek; and how he used to stray 

He knew not where : and how he would say, nay, 

If any said 'twas love : and yet 'twas love ; 

What could it be but love ? How a ring-dove 

Let fall a sprig of yew-tree in his path 

And how he died : and then, that love doth scathe 

The gentle heart, as northern blasts do roses ; 

And then the ballad of his sad life closes 

With sighs, and an alas ! — Endymion ! 

Be rather in the trumpet's mouth — anon 

Among the winds at large — that all may hearken ! 

Although, before the crystal heavens darken, 

I watch and dote upon the silver lakes 

Pictured in western cloudiness, that takes 

The semblance of gold rocks and bright gold sands, 

Islands, and creeks, and amber-fretted strands 

With horses prancing o'er them, palaces 



32 ENDYMION. 

And towers of amethyst, — would I so tease 

My pleasant days, because I could not mount 

Into those regions ? The Morphean fount 

Of that fine element that visions, dreams, 

And fitful whims of sleep are made of, streams 

Into its airy channels with so subtle. 

So thin a breathing, not the spider's shuttle, 

Circled a million times within the space 

Of a swallow's nest-door, could delay a trace, 

A tinting of its quality: how light 

Must dreams themselves be ; seeing they're more slight 

Than the mere nothing that engenders them ! 

Then wherefore sully the entrusted gem 

Of high and noble life with thoughts so sick? 

Why pierce high-fronted honour to the quick 

For nothing but a dream ? " Hereat the youth 

Look'd up : a conflicting of shame and ruth 

Was in his plaited brow : yet his eyelids 

Widen'd a little, as when Zephyr bids 

A little breeze to creep between the fans 

Of careless butterflies : amid his pains 

He seem'd to taste a drop of manna-dew. 

Full palateable ; and a colour grew 

Upon his cheek, while thus he lifeful spake. 



ENDYMION. 



" Peona ! ever have I long'd to slake 
My thirst for the world's praises : nothing base, 
No merely slumberous phantasm, could unlace 
The stubborn canvas for my voyage prepared — 
Though now 'tis tatter'd ; leaving my bark bared 
And sullenly drifting: yet my higher hope 
Is of too wide, too rainbow-large a scope, 
To fret at myriads of earthly wrecks. 
Wherein lies happiness ? In that which becks 
Our ready minds to fellowship divine, 
A fellowship with essence ; till we shine, 
Full alchemized, and free of space. Behold 
The clear religion of heaven ! Fold 
A rose-leaf round thy finger's taperness. 
And soothe thy lips : hist ! when the airy stress 
Of music's kiss impregnates the free winds, 
And with a sympathetic touch unbinds 
iEolian magic from their lucid wombs : 
Then old songs waken from enclouded tombs; 
Old ditties sigh above their father's grave ; 
Ghosts of melodious prophesyings rave 
Round every spot where trod Apollo's foot ; 
Bronze clarions awake, and faintly bruit. 
Where long ago a giant battle was ; 
And, from the turf, a lullaby doth pass 

K 



34 



ENDYMION. 



In every place where infant Orpheus slept. 

Feel we these things ! — that moment have we stept 

Into a sort of oneness, and our state 

Is like a floating spirit's. But there are 

Richer entanglements, enthralments far 

More self-destroying, leading, by degrees, 

To the chief intensity : the crown of these 

Is made of love and friendship, and sits high 

Upon the forehead of humanity. 

All its more ponderous and bulky worth 

Is friendship, whence there ever issues forth 

A steady splendour; but at the tip-top. 

There hangs by unseen film, an orbed drop 

Of light, and that is love : its influence 

Thrown in our eyes genders a novel sense. 

At which we start and fret : till in the end, 

Melting into its radiance, we blend. 

Mingle, and so become a part of it, — 

Nor with aught else can our souls interknit 

So wingedly : when we combine therewith. 

Life's self is nourish'd by its proper pith. 

And we are nurtured like a pelican brood. 

Ay, so delicious is the unsating food. 

That men, who might have tower'd in the van 

Of all the congregated world, to fan 



ENDYMION. 



35 



And winnow from the coming step of time 

All chaff of custom, wipe away all slime 

Left by men-slugs and human serpentry, 

Have been content to let occasion die, 

Whilst they did sleep in love's Elysium. 

And, truly, I would rather be struck dumb, 

Than speak against this ardent listlessness : 

For I have ever thought that it might bless 

The world with benefits unknowingly; 

As does the nightingale, up-perched high. 

And cloister'd among cool and bunched leaves — 

She sings but to her love, nor e'er conceives 

How tiptoe Night holds back her dark-grey hood. 

Just so may love, although 'tis understood 

The mere commingling of passionate breath. 

Produce more than our searching witnesseth : 

What I know not : but who, of men, can tell 

That fiowers would bloom, or that green fruit would swell 

To melting pulp, that fish would have bright mail, 

The earth its dower of river, wood, and vale, 

The meadows runnels, runnels pebble-stones. 

The seed its harvest, or the lute its tones, 

Tones ravishment, or ravishment its sweet, 

If human souls did never kiss and greet? 



36 



ENDYMION. 



Now, if this earthly love has power to make 
Men's being mortal, immortal; to shake 
Ambition from their memories, and brim 
Their measure of content; what merest whim, 
Seems all this poor endeavour after fame, 
To one, who keeps within his stedfast aim 
A love immortal, an immortal too. 
Look not so wilder'd; for these things are true, 
And never can be born of atomies 
That buzz about our slumbers, like brain-flies. 
Leaving us fancy-sick. No, no, I'm sure. 
My restless spirit never could endure 
To brood so long upon one luxury. 
Unless it did, though fearfully, espy 
A hope beyond the shadow of a dream. 
My sayings will the less obscured seem 
When I have told thee how my waking sight 
Has made me scruple whether that same night 
Was pass'd in dreaming. Hearken, sweet Peona ! 
Beyond the matron-temple of Latona, 
Which we should see but for these darkening boughs. 
Lies a deep hollow, from whose ragged brows 
Bushes and trees do lean all round athwart. 
And meet so nearly, that with wings outraught. 
And spreaded tail, a vulture could not glide 



ENDYMION. 



Past them, but he must brush on every side. 

Some moulder'd steps lead into this cool cell, 

Far as the slabbed margin of a well, 

Whose patient level peeps its crystal eye 

Right upward, through the bushes, to the sky. 

Oft have 1 brought thee flowers, on their stalks ! 

Like vestal primroses, but dark velvet 

Edges them round, and they have golden pits : 

'Twas there I got them, from the gaps and slits 

In a mossy stone, that sometimes was my seat. 

When all above was faint with mid-day heat. 

And there in strife no burning thoughts to heed, 

I'd bubble up the water through a reed; 

So reaching back to boyhood : make me ships 

Of moulted feathers, touchwood, alder chips, 

With leaves stuck in them ; and the Neptune be 

Of their petty ocean. Oftener, heavily. 

When lovelorn hours had left me less a child, 

I sat contemplating the figures wild 

Of o'er-head clouds melting the mirror through. 

Upon a day, while thus I watch'd, by flew 

A cloudy Cupid, with his bow and quiver; 

So plainly character'd, no breeze would shiver 

The happy chance : so happy, I was fain 

To follow it upon the open plain. 



38 



ENDYMION. 



And, therefore, was just going ; when, behold ! 

A wonder, fair as any I have told — 

The same bright face I tasted in my sleep, 

Smiling in the clear well. My heart did leap 

Through the cool depth. — It moved as if to flee — 

I started up, when lo ! refreshfully, 

There came upon my face, in plenteous showers, 

Dew-drops, and dewy buds, and leaves, and flowers, 

Wrapping all objects from my smother'd sight, 

Bathing my spirit in a new delight. 

Ay, such a breathless honey-feel of bliss 

Alone preserved me from the drear abyss 

Of death, for the fair form had gone again. 

Pleasure is oft a visitant; but pain 

Clings cruelly to us, like the gnawing sloth 

On the deer's tender haunches : late, and loth, 

'TIs scared away by slow-returning pleasure. 

How sickening, how dark the dreadful leisure 

Of weary days, made deeper exquisite, 

By a foreknowledge of unslumbrous night! 

Like sorrow came upon me, heavier still. 

Than when I wander'd from the poppy hill : 

And a whole age of lingering moments crept 

Sluggishly by, ere more contentment swept 

Away at once the deadly yellow spleen. 



ENDYMION. 



Yes, thrice have I this fair enchantment seen ; 

Once more been tortured with renewed Hfe. 

When last the wintry gusts gave over strife 

With the conquering sun of spring, and left the skies 

Warm and serene, but yet with moisten'd eyes 

In pity of the shattered infant buds, — 

That time thou didst adorn, with amber studs, 

My hunting-cap, because I laugh'd and smiled. 

Chatted with thee, and many days exiled 

All torment from my breast ; — 'twas even then. 

Straying about, yet, coop'd up in the den 

Of helpless discontent, — hurling my lance 

From place to place, and following at chance. 

At last, by hap, through some young trees it struck, 

And, plashing among bedded pebbles, stuck 

In the middle of a brook, — whose silver ramble 

Down twenty little falls through reeds and bramble. 

Tracing along, it brought me to a cave. 

Whence it ran brightly forth, and white did lave 

The nether sides of mossy stones and rock, — 

'Mong which it gurgled blithe adieus, to mock 

Its own sweet grief at parting. Overhead, 

Hung a lush screen of drooping weeds, and spread 

Thick, as to curtain up some wood-nymph's home. 

* Ah ! impious mortal, whither do I roam ! ' 



40 



ENDYMION. 



Said I, low-voiced: 'Ah, whither! 'Tis the grot 
Of Proserpine, when Hell, obscure and hot, 
Doth her resign : and where her tender hands 
She dabbles on the cool and sluicy sands ; 
Or 'tis the cell of Echo, where she sits, 
And babbles thorough silence, till her wits 
Are gone in tender madness, and anon, 
Faints into sleep, with many a dying tone 
Of sadness. O that she would take my vows. 
And breathe them sighingly among the boughs, 
To sue her gentle ears for whose fair head, 
Daily, I pluck sweet flowerets from their bed. 
And weave them dyingly — send honey-whispers 
Round every leaf, that all those gentle lispers 
May sigh my love unto her pitying ! 
O charitable Echo ! hear and sing 
This ditty to her! — tell her' — So I stay'd 
My foolish tongue, and listening, half afraid, 
Stood stupefied with my own empty folly. 
And blushing for the freaks of melancholy. 
Salt tears were coming, when I heard my name 
Most fondly lipp'd, and then these accents came : 
' Endymion ! the cave is secreter 
Than the isle of Delos. Echo hence shall stir 
No sighs but sigh-warm kisses, or light noise 



ENDYMION. 



Of thy combing hand, the while it travelHng cloys 

And trembles through my labyrinthine hair.' 

At that oppress'd, I hurried in. — Ah ! where 

Are those swift moments ! Whither are they fled ? 

I'll smile no more, Peona; nor will wed 

Sorrow, the way to death ; but patiently 

Bear up against it : so farewell, sad sigh ; 

And come instead demurest meditation, 

To occupy me wholly, and to fashion 

My pilgrimage for the world's dusky brink. 

No more will I count over, link by link. 

My chain of grief : no longer strive to find 

A half-forgetfulness in mountain wind 

Blustering about my ears : ay, thou shalt see. 

Dearest of sisters, what my life shall be ; 

What a calm round of hours shall make my days. 

There is a paly flame of hope that plays 

Where'er I look: but yet, I'll say 'tis nought — 

And here I bid it die. Have not I caught. 

Already, a more healthy countenance ? 

By this the sun is setting; we may chance 

Meet some of our near-dwellers with my car." 

This said, he rose, faint-smiling like a star 
Through autumn mists, and took Peona's hand : 
They stept into the boat, and launch'd from land. 

M 



42 



ENDYMION. 



BOOK II. 



SOVEREIGN power of love! grief! O balm! 

All records, saving thine, come cool, and calm, 

And shadowy, through the mist of passed years: 

For others, good or bad, hatred and tears 

Have become indolent; but touching thine. 

One sigh doth echo, one poor sob doth pine. 

One kiss brings honey-dew from buried days. 

The woes of Troy, towers smothering o'er their blaze, 

Stiff-holden shields, far-piercing spears, keen blades, 

Struggling, and blood, and shrieks — all dimly fades 

Into some backward corner of the brain ; 

Yet, in our very souls, we feel amain 

The close of Troilus and Cressid sweet. 

Hence, pageant history ! hence, gilded cheat ! 

Swart planet in the universe of deeds! 

Wide sea, that one continuous murmur breeds 

Along the pebbled shore of memory ! 

Many old rotten-timber'd boats there be 



ENDYMION, 



Upon thy vaporous bosom, magnified 

To goodly vessels; many a sail of pride, 

And golden-keel'd, is left unlaunch'd and dry. 

But wherefore this ? What care, though owl did fly 

About the great Athenian admiral's mast ? 

What care, though striding Alexander past 

The Indus with his Macedonian numbers ? 

Though old Ulysses tortured from his slumbers 

The glutted Cyclops, what care? — ^Juliet leaning 

Amid her window-flowers, — sighing, — weaning 

Tenderly her fancy from its maiden snow, 

Doth more avail than these : the silver flow 

Of Hero's tears, the swoon of Imogen, 

Fair Pastorella in the bandit's den, 

Are things to brood on with more ardency 

Than the death-day of empires. Fearfully 

Must such conviction come upon his head. 

Who, thus far, discontent, has dared to tread. 

Without one muse's smile, or kind behest, 

The path of love and poesy. But rest, 

In chafing restlessness, is yet more drear 

Than to be crush'd, in striving to uprear 

Love's standard on the battlements of song. 

So once more days and nights aid me along. 

Like legion'd soldiers. 



44 ENDYMION. 

Brain-sick shepherd-prince ! 
What promise hast thou faithful guarded since 
The day of sacrifice ? Or, have new sorrows 
Come with the constant dawn upon thy morrows? 
Alas ! 'tis his old grief. For many days, 
Ha he been wandering in uncertain ways : 
Through wilderness, and woods of mossed oaks ; 
Counting his woe-worn minutes, by the strokes 
Of the lone wood-cutter: and listening still, 
Hour after hour, to each lush-leaved rill. 
Now he is sitting by a shady spring. 
And elbow-deep with feverous fingering 
Stems the upbursting cold : a wild rose-tree 
Pavilions him in bloom, and he doth see 
A bud which snares his fancy : lo ! but now 
He plucks it, dips its stalk in the water: how! 
It swells, it buds, it flowers beneath his sight; 
And, in the middle, there is softly pight 
A golden butterfly; upon whose wings 
There must be surely character'd strange things 
For with wide eye he wonders, and smiles oft. 

Lightly this little herald flew aloft, 
Follow'd by glad Endymion's clasped hands : 
Onward it flies. From languor's sullen bands 



ENDYMION. 



His limbs are loosed, and eager, on he hies 

Dazzled to trace it in the sunny skies. 

It seem'd he flew, the way so easy was ; 

And like a new-born spirit did he pass 

Through the green evening quiet in the sun ; 

O'er many a heath, through many a woodland dun, 

Through buried paths, where sleepy twilight dreams 

The summer time away. One track unseams 

A wooded cleft, and, far away, the blue 

Of ocean fades upon him ; then, anew, 

He sinks adown a solitary glen, 

Where there was never sound of mortal men, 

Saving, perhaps, some snow-light cadences 

Melting to silence, when upon the breeze 

Some holy bark let forth an anthem sweet. 

To cheer itself to Delphi. Still his feet 

Went swift beneath the merry-winged guide, 

Until it reach'd a splashing fountain's side 

That, near a cavern's mouth, for ever pour'd 

Unto the temperate air; then high it soar'd, 

And, downward, suddenly began to dip. 

As if, athirst with so much toil, 'twould sip 

The crystal spout-head : so it did, with touch 

Most delicate, as though afraid to smutch 

Even with mealy gold the waters clear. 

N 



46 



ENDYMION. 



But, at that very touch, to disappear 
So fairy-quick, was strange ! Bewildered, 
Endymion sought around, and shook each bed 
Of covert flowers in vain ; and then he flung 
Himself along the grass. What gentle tongue. 
What whisperer disturbed his gloomy rest ? 
It was a nymph uprisen to the breast 
In the fountain's pebbly margin, and she stood 
'Mong lilies, like the youngest of the brood. 
To him her dripping hand she softly kist, 
And anxiously began to plait and twist 
Her ringlets round her fingers, saying: ''Youth! 
Too long, alas, hast thou starved on the ruth, 
The bitterness of love : too long indeed. 
Seeing thou art so gentle. Could I weed 
Thy soul of care, by heavens, I would ofl'er 
All the bright riches of my crystal cofler 
To Amphitrite : all my clear-eyed fish, 
Golden, or rainbow-sided, or purplish, 
Vermilion-tail'd, or finn'd with silver gauze ; 
Yea, or my veined pebble-floor, that draws 
A virgin-light to the deep ; my grotto-sands, 
Tawny and gold, oozed slowly from far lands 
By my diligent springs : my level lilies, shells, 
My charming-rod, my potent river spells ; 



ENDYMION. 



Yes, everything, even to the pearly cup 

Meander gave me, — for I bubbled up 

To fainting creatures in a desert wild. 

But woe is me, I am but as a child 

To gladden thee ; that on this day 

I've been thy guide ; that thou must wander far 

In other regions, past the scanty bar 

To mortal steps, before thou canst be ta'en 

From every wasting sigh, from every pain. 

Into the gentle bosom of thy love. 

Why it is thus, one knows in heaven above : 

But, a poor Naiad, I guess not. Farewell ! 

I have a ditty for my hollow cell." 

Hereat she vanish'd from Endymion's gaze. 
Who brooded o'er the water in amaze : 
The dashing fount pour'd on, and where its pool 
Lay, half asleep, in grass and rushes cool. 
Quick waterflies and gnats were sporting still. 
And fish were dimpling, as if good nor ill 
Had fallen out that hour. The wanderer. 
Holding his forehead, to keep off the burr 
Of smothering fancies, patiently sat down ; 
And, while beneath the evening's sleepy frown 
Glow-worms began to trim their starry lamps. 



48 



ENDYMION. 



Thus breathed he to himself : " Whoso encamps 

To take a fancied city of dehght, 

O what a wretch is he ! and when 'tis his, 

After long toil and travelling, to miss 

The kernel of his hopes, how more than vile ! 

Yet ! . for him there's refreshment even in toil : 

Another city doth he set about. 

Free from the smallest pebble-bead of doubt 

That he will seize on trickling honey-combs : 

Alas ! he finds them dry ; and then he foams, 

And onward to another city speeds. 

But this is human life: the war, the deeds. 

The disappointment, the anxiety, 

Imagination's struggles, far and nigh, 

All human ; bearing in themselves this good. 

That they are still the air, the subtle food. 

To make us feel existence, and to show 

How quiet death is. Where soil is men grow, 

Whether to weeds or flowers ; but for me, 

There is no depth to strike in : I can see 

Nought earthly worth my compassing; so stand 

Upon a misty, jutting head of land — 

Alone ? No, no ; and by the Orphean lute, 

When mad Eurydice is listening to 't, 

I'd rather stand upon this misty peak. 



ENDYMION. 



With not a thing to sigh for, or to seek, 

But the soft shadow of my thrice-seen love, 

Than be — I care not what. O meekest dove 

Of heaven ! O Cynthia, -ten-times bright and fair 

From thy blue throne, now filling all the air. 

Glance but one little beam of temper'd light 

Into my bosom, that the dreadful might 

And tyranny of love be somewhat scared ! 

Yet do not so, sweet queen ; one torment spared, 

Would give a pang to jealous misery, 

Worse than the torment's self : but rather tie 

Large wings upon my shoulders, and point out 

My love's far dwelling. Though the playful rout 

Of Cupids shun thee, too divine art thou. 

Too keen in beauty, for thy silver prow 

Not to have dipp'd in love's most gentle stream. 

O be propitious, nor severely deem 

My madness impious : for, by all the stars 

That tend thy bidding, I do think the bars 

That kept my spirit in are burst — that I 

Am sailing with thee through the dizzy sky ! 

How beautiful thou art! The world how deep! 

How tremulous-dazzlingly the wheels sweep 

Around their axle ! Then these gleaming reins. 

How lithe ! When this thy chariot attains 

o 



ENDYMION. 

Its airy goal, haply some bower veils 

Those twilight eyes ? Those eyes ! — my spirit fails : 

Dear goddess, help! or the wide-gaping air 

Will gulf me — help !" — At this, with madden'd stare, 

And lifted hands, and trembling lips, he stood; 

Like old Deucalion mountain'd o'er the flood, 

Or blind Orion hungry for the morn. 

And, but from the deep cavern there was borne 

A voice, he had been froze to senseless stone ; 

Nor sigh of his, nor plaint, nor passion'd moan 

Had more been heard. Thus swell'd it forth : Descend, 

Young mountaineer ! descend where alleys bend 

Into the sparry hollows of the world ! 

Oft hast thou seen bolts of the thunder hurl'd 

As from thy threshold ; day by day hast been 

A little lower than the chilly sheen 

Of icy pinnacles, and dipp'dst thine arms 

Into the deadening ether that still charms 

Their marble being: now, as deep profound 

As those are high, descend ! He ne'er is crown'd 

With immortality, who fears to follow 

Where airy voices lead : so through the hollow, 

The silent mysteries of earth, descend ! " 



He heard but the last words, nor could contend 



ENDYMION. 



One moment in reflection : for he fled 

Into the fearful deep, to hide his head 

From the clear moon, the trees, and coming madness. 

'Twas far too strange, and wonderful for sadness; 
Sharpening, by degrees, his appetite 
To dive into the deepest. Dark, nor light. 
The region ; nor bright, nor sombre wholly, 
But mingled up ; a gleaming melancholy ; 
A dusky empire and its diadems ; 
One faint eternal eventide of gems. 
Ay, millions sparkled on a vein of gold. 
Along whose track the prince quick footsteps told, 
With all its lines abrupt and angular : 
Out-shooting sometimes, like a meteor star, 
Through a vast antre ; then the metal woof, 
Like Vulcan's rainbow, with some monstrous roof 
Curves hugely : now, far in the deep abyss. 
It seems an angry lightning, and .doth hiss 
Fancy into belief : anon it leads 
Through winding passages, where sameness breeds 
Vexing conceptions of some sudden change ; 
W^hether to silver grots, or giant range 
Of sapphire columns, or fantastic bridge 
Athwart a flood of crystal. On a ridge 



52 



ENDYMION. 



Now fareth he, that o'er the vast beneath 

Towers Hke an ocean-cHff, and whence he seeth 

A hundred waterfalls, whose voices come 

But as the murmuring surge. Chilly and numb 

His bosom grew, when first he, far away. 

Described an orbed diamond, set to fray 

Old Darkness from his throne : 'twas like the sun 

Uprisen o'er chaos : and with such a stun 

Came the amazement, that, absorb'd in it, 

He saw not fiercer wonders — past the wit 

Of any spirit to tell, but one of those 

Who, when this planet's sphering time doth close. 

Will be its high remembrancers : who they ? 

The mighty ones who have made eternal day 

For Greece and England. While astonishment 

With deep-drawn sighs was quieting, he went 

Into a marble gallery, passing through 

A mimic temple, so complete and true 

In sacred custom, that he wellnigh fear'd 

To search it inwards ; whence far off appear'd, 

Through a long pillar'd vista, a fair shrine. 

And, just beyond, on light tiptoe divine, 

A quiver'd Dian. Stepping awfully. 

The youth approach'd ; oft turning his veil'd eye 

Down sidelong aisles, and into niches old : 



ENDYMION. 



And, when more near against the marble cold 

He had touch'd his forehead, he began to thread 

All courts and passages, where silence dead, 

Roused by his whispering footsteps, murmur'd faint 

And long be traversed to and fro, to acquaint 

Himself with every mystery, and awe ; 

Till, weary, he sat down before the maw 

Of a wide outlet, fathomless and dim. 

To wild uncertainty and shadows grim. 

There, when new wonders ceased to float before. 

And thoughts of self came on, how crude and sore 

The journey homeward to habitual self! 

A mad-pursuing of the fog-born elf, 

Whose flitting lantern, through rude nettle-brier. 

Cheats us into a swamp, into a fire, 

Into the bosom of a hated thing. 

What misery most drowningly doth sing 
In lone Endymion's ear, now he has caught 
The goal of consciousness ? Ah, 'tis the thought, 
The deadly feel of solitude : for lo ! 
He cannot see the heavens, nor the flow 
Of rivers, nor hill-flowers running wild 
In pink and purple chequer, nor, up-piled, 
The cloudy rack slow journeying in the west, 



54 



ENDYMION. 



Like herded elephants : nor felt, nor prest 
Cool grass, nor tasted the fresh slumberous air ; 
But far from such companionship to wear 
An unknown time, surcharged with grief, away, 
Was now his lot. And must he patient stay. 
Tracing fantastic figures with his spear? 

No ! " exclaim'd he, why should I tarry here ? " 
No ! loudly echoed times innumerable. 
At which he straightway started, and 'gan tell 
His paces back into the temple's chief; 
Warming and glowing strong in the belief 
Of help from Dian : so that when again 
He caught her airy form, thus did he plain. 
Moving more near the while : O Haunter chaste 
Of river sides, and woods, and heathy waste, 
Where with thy silver bow and arrows keen 
Art thou now forested ? O woodland Queen, 
What smoothest air thy smoother forehead woos ? 
Where dost thou listen to the wide halloos 
Of thy disparted nymphs ? Through what dark tree 
Glimmers thy crescent ? Wheresoe'er it be, 
'Tis in the breath of heaven : thou dost taste 
Freedom as none can taste it, nor dost waste 
Thy loveliness in dismal elements ; 
But, finding in our green earth sweet contents, 



ENDYMION 



There livest blissfully. Ah, if to thee 
It feels Elysian, how rich to me, 
An exiled mortal, sounds its pleasant name ! 
Within my breast there lives a choking flame — 
let me cool it zephyr-boughs among ! 
A homeward fever parches up my tongue — 
O let me slake it at the running springs ! 
Upon my ear a noisy nothing rings — 
let me once more hear the linnet's note ! 
Before mine eyes thick films and shadows float— 
let me 'noint them with the heaven's light ! 
Dost thou now lave thy feet and ankles white ? 
O think how sweet to me the freshening sluice ! 
Dost thou now please thy thirst with berry-juice 
think how this dry palate would rejoice ! 
If in soft slumber thou dost hear my voice, 
think how I should love a bed of flowers ! — 
Young goddess ! let me see my native bowers ! 
Deliver me from this rapacious deep ! " 

Thus ending loudly, as he would o'erleap 
His destiny, alert he stood : but when 
Obstinate silence came heavily again, 
Feeling about for its old couch of space 
And airy cradle, lowly bow'd his face, 



56 



ENDYMION. 



Desponding, o'er the marble floor's cold thrill. 

But 'twas not long; for, sweeter than the rill 

To its old channel, or a swollen tide 

To margin sallows, where the leaves he spied. 

And flowers, and wreaths, and ready myrtle crowns 

Up heaping through the slab : refreshment drowns 

Itself, and strives its own delights to hide — 

Nor in one spot alone ; the floral pride 

In a long whispering birth enchanted grew 

Before his footsteps ; as when heaved anew 

Old ocean rolls a lengthen'd wave to the shore 

Down whose green back the short-lived foam, all hoar, 

Bursts gradual, with a wayward indolence. 

Increasing still in heart, and pleasant sense, 
Upon his fairy journey on he hastes ; 
So anxious for the end, he scarcely wastes 
One moment with his hand among the sweets 
Onward he goes — he stops — his bosom beats 
As plainly in his ear, as the faint charm 
Of which the throbs were born. This still alarm, 
This sleepy music, forced him walk tiptoe : 
For it came more softly than the east could blow 
Arion's magic to the Atlantic isles; 
Or than the west, made jealous by the smiles 



ENDYMION. 



Of throned Apollo, could breathe back the lyre 
To seas Ionian and Tyrian. 

O did he ever live, that lonely man. 
Who loved — and music slew not ? 'Tis the pest 
Of love, that fairest joys give most unrest; 
That things of delicate and tenderest worth 
Are swallow'd all, and made a seared dearth. 
By one consuming flame : it doth immerse 
And suffocate true blessings in a curse. 
Half-happy, by comparison of bliss, 
Is miserable. 'Twas even so with this 
Dew-dropping melody, in the Carian's ear; 
First heaven, then hell, and then forgotten clear, 
Vanish'd in elemental passion. 

And down some swart abysm he had gone, 
Had not a heavenly guide benignant led 
To where thick myrtle branches, 'gainst his head 
Brushing, awaken'd : then the sounds again 
Went noiseless as a passing noontide rain 
Over a bower, where little space he stood; 
For as the sunset peeps into a wood. 
So saw he panting light, and towards it went 
Through winding alleys : and lo, wonderment ! 



58 



ENDYMION. 



Upon soft verdure saw, one here, one there, 
Cupids a-slumbering on their pinions fair. 

After a thousand mazes overgone, 
At last, with sudden step, he came upon 
A chamber, myrtle-wall'd, embower'd high, 
Full of light, incense, tender minstrelsy, 
And more of beautiful and strange beside : 
For on a silken couch of rosy pride. 
In midst of all, there lay a sleeping youth 
Of fondest beauty; fonder, in fair sooth, 
Than sighs could fathom, or contentment reach : 
And coverlids gold-tinted like the peach, 
Or ripe October's faded marigolds, 
Fell sleek about him in a thousand folds — 
Not hiding up an Apollonian curve 
Of neck and shoulder, nor the tenting swerve 
Of knee from knee, nor ankles pointing light ; 
But rather, giving them to the fiU'd sight 
Officiously. Sideway his face reposed 
On one white arm, and tenderly unclosed. 
By tenderest pressure, a faint damask mouth 
To slumbery pout ; just as the morning south 
Disparts a dew-lipp'd rose. Above his head. 
Four lily stalks did their white honours wed 



ENDYMION. 



To make a coronal ; and round him grew 

All tendrils green, of every bloom and hue, 

Together intertwined and tramell'd fresh : 

The vine of glossy sprout ; the ivy mesh. 

Shading its Ethiop berries ; and woodbine, 

Of velvet leaves and bugle-blooms divine ; 

Convolvulus in streaked vases flush ; 

The creeper, mellowing for an autumn blush ; . 

And virgin's bower, trailing airily; 

With others of the sisterhood. Hard by. 

Stood serene Cupids watching silently. 

One, kneeling to a lyre, touch'd the strings. 

Muffling to death the pathos with his wings ; 

And, ever and anon, uprose to look 

At the youth's slumber; while another took 

A willow bough, distilling odorous dew. 

And shook it on his hair; another flew 

In through the woven roof, and fluttering-wise 

Rain'd violets upon his sleeping eyes. 

At these enchantments, and yet many more, 
The breathless Latmian wonder'd o'er and o'er 
Until impatient in embarrassment. 
He forthright pass'd, and lightly treading went 
To that same feather'd lyrist, who straightway. 



6o 



ENDYMION. 



Smiling, thus whisper'd : Though from upper 
Thou art a wanderer, and thy presence here 
Might seem unholy, be of happy cheer! 
For 'tis the nicest touch of human honour. 
When some ethereal and high-favouring donor 
Presents immortal bowers to mortal sense ; 
As now 'tis done to thee, Endymion. Hence 
Was I in no wise startled. So recline 
Upon these living flowers. Here is wine, 
Alive with sparkles — never, I aver. 
Since Ariadne was a vintager. 
So cool a purple : taste these juicy pears. 
Sent me by sad Vertumnus, when his fears 
Were high about Pomona : here is cream, 
Deepening to richness from a snowy gleam ; 
Sweeter than that nurse Amalthea skimm'd 
For the boy Jupiter: and here, undimm'd 
By any touch, a bunch of blooming plums 
Ready to melt between an infant's gums : 
And here is manna pick'd from Syrian trees. 
In starlight, by the three Hesperides. 
Feast on, and meanwhile I will let thee know 
Of all these things around us." He did so. 
Still brooding o'er the cadence of his lyre; 
And thus : " I need not any hearing tire 



ENDYMION. 



By telling how the sea-born goddess pined 

For a mortal youth, and how she strove to bind 

Him all in all unto her doting self. 

Who would not be so prison'd ? but, fond elf, 

He was content to let her amorous plea 

Faint through his careless arms ; content to see 

An unseized heaven dying at his feet ; 

Content, O fool ! to make a cold retreat. 

When on the pleasant grass such love, lovelorn. 

Lay sorrowing; when every tear was born 

Of diverse passion ; when her lips and eyes 

Were closed in sullen moisture, and quick sighs 

Came vex'd and pettish through her nostrils small 

Hush ! no exclaim — yet, justily might'st thou call 

Curses upon his head. — I was half glad, 

But my poor mistress went distract and mad. 

When the boar tusk'd him : so away she flew 

To Jove's high throne, and by her plainings drew 

Immortal tear-drops down the thunderer's beard; 

Whereon, it was decreed he should be rear'd 

Each summer-time to life. Lo ! this is he. 

That same Adonis, safe in the privacy 

Of this still region all his winter-sleep. 

Ay, sleep ; for when our love-sick queen did weep 

Over his waned corse, the tremulous shower 

R 



62 



ENDYMION. 



Heal'd up the wound, and, with a balmy power, 

Medicined death to a lengthen'd drowsiness : 

The which she fills with visions, and doth dress 

In all this quiet luxury; and hath set 

Us young immortals, without any let. 

To watch his slumber through. 'Tis wellnigh pass'd, 

Even to a moment's filling up, and fast 

She scuds with summer breezes, to pant through 

The first long kiss, warm firstling, to renew 

Embower'd sports in Cytherea's isle. 

Look, how those winged listeners all this while 

Stand anxious : see ! behold ! " — This clamant word 

Broke through the careful silence ; for they heard 

A rustling noise of leaves, and out there flutter'd 

Pigeons and doves : Adonis something mutter'd, 

The while one hand, that erst upon his thigh 

Lay dormant, moved convulsed and gradually 

Up to his forehead. Then there was a hum 

Of sudden voices, echoing, Come ! come ! 

Arise ! awake ! Clear summer has forth walk'd 

Unto the clover-sward, and she has talk'd 

Full soothingly to every nested finch : 

Rise, Cupids ! or we'll give the blue-bell pinch 

To your dimpled arms. Once more sweet life begin !" 

At this, from every side they hurried in. 



ENDYMION. 



63 



Rubbing their sleepy eyes with lazy wrists, 

And doubling overhead their little fists, 

In backward yawns. But all were soon alive : 

For as delicious wine doth, sparkling, dive 

In nectar'd clouds and curls through water fair. 

So from the arbour roof down swell'd an air 

Odorous and enlivening; making all 

To laugh, and play, and sing, and loudly call 

For their sweet queen : when lo ! the wreathed green 

Disparted, and far upward could be seen 

Blue heaven, and a silver car, air-borne. 

Whose silent wheels, fresh wet from clouds of morn. 

Spun off a drizzling dew, — which falling chill 

On soft Adonis' shoulders, made him still 

Nestle and turn uneasily about. 

Soon were the white doves plain, with necks stretch'd 
out. 

And silken traces lightened in descent ; 

And soon, returning from love's banishment. 

Queen Venus leaning downward open-arm'd : 

Her shadow fell upon his breast, and charm'd 

A tumult to his heart, and a new life 

Into his eyes. Ah, miserable strife. 

But for her comforting ! unhappy sight. 

But meeting her blue orbs ! Who, who can write 



64 



ENDYMION. 



Of these first minutes? The unchariest muse 

To embracements warm as theirs makes coy excuse. 

O it has ruffled every spirit there, 
Saving love's self, who stands superb to share 
The general gladness : awfully he stands ; 
A sovereign quell is in his waving hands ; 
No sight can bear the lightning of his bow; 
His quiver is mysterious, none can know 
What themselves think of it ; from forth his eyes 
There darts strange light of varied hues and dyes : 
A scowl is sometimes on his brow, but who 
Look full upon it feel anon the blue 
Of his fair eyes run liquid through their souls. 
Endymion feels it, and no more controls 
The burning prayer within him ; so, bent low, 
He had begun a plaining of his woe. 
But Venus, bending forward, said : My child, 
Favour this gentle youth ; his days are wild 
With love — he — but alas ! too well I see 
Thou know'st the deepness of his misery. 
Ah, smile not so, my son : I tell thee true, 
That when through heavy hours I used to rue 
The endless sleep of this new-born Adon', 
This stranger aye I pitied. For upon 



ENDYMION. 



A dreary morning once I fled away 

Into the breezy clouds, to weep and pray 

For this my love : for vexing Mars had teased 

Me even to tears : thence, when a little eased, 

Down-looking, vacant, through a hazy wood, 

I saw this youth as he despairing stood : 

Those same dark curls blown vagrant in the wind ; 

Those same full fringed lids a constant blind 

Over his sullen eyes : I saw him throw 

Himself on wither'd leaves, even as though 

Death had come sudden ; for no jot he moved, 

Yet mutter'd wildly. I could hear he loved 

Some fair immortal, and that his embrace 

Had zoned her through the night. There is no trace 

Of this in heaven : I have marked each cheek, 

And find it is the vainest thing to seek ; 

And that of all things 'tis kept secretest. 

Endymion ! one day thou wilt be blest : 

So still obey the guiding hand that fends 

Thee safely through these wonders for sweet ends. 

'Tis a concealment needful in extreme ; 

And if I guess'd not so, the sunny beam 

Thou shouldst mount up to with me. Now adieu ! 

Here must we leave thee." — At these words up flew 

The impatient doves, up rose the floating car. 



66 



ENDYMION. 



Up went the hum celestial. High afar 
The Latmian saw them minish into nought; 
And, when all were clear vanish'd, still he caught 
A vivid lightning from that dreadful bow. 
When all was darken'd, with ^tnean throe 
The earth closed — gave a solitary moan — 
And left him once again in twilight lone. 

He did not rave, he did not stare aghast, 
For all those visions were o'ergone, and past, 
And he in loneliness : he felt assured 
Of happy times, when all he had endured 
Would seem a feather to the mighty prize. 
So with unusual gladness, on he hies 
Through caves, and palaces of mottled ore, 
Gold dome, and crystal wall, and turquois floor, 
Black polish'd porticoes of awful shade. 
And, at the last, a diamond balustrade. 
Leading afar past wild magnificence. 
Spiral through ruggedest loop-holes, and thence 
Stretching across a void, then guiding o'er 
Enormous chasm.s, where, all foam and roar. 
Streams subterranean tease their granite beds ; 
Then heighten'd just above the silvery heads 
Of a thousand fountains, so that he could dash 



ENDYMION. 



The waters with his spear; but at the splash, 
Done heedlessly, those spouting columns rose 
Sudden a poplar's height, and 'gan to inclose 
His diamond path with fretwork streaming round 
Alike, and dazzling cool, and with a sound. 
Haply, like dolphin tumults, when sweet shells 
Welcome the float of Thetis. Long he dwells 
On this delight ; for, every minute's space. 
The streams with changed magic interlace: 
Sometimes like delicatest lattices, 
Cover'd with crystal vines ; then weeping trees. 
Moving about as in a gentle wind. 
Which, in a wink, to watery gauze refined, 
Pour'd into shapes of curtain'd canopies, 
Spangled, and rich with liquid broideries 
Of flowers, peacocks, swans, and naiads fair 
Swifter than lightning went these wonders rare ; 
And then the water, into stubborn streams 
Collecting, mimick'd the wrought oaken beams, 
Pillars, and frieze, and high fantastic roof. 
Of those dusk places in times far aloof 
Cathedrals call'd. He bade a loath farewell 
To these founts Protean, passing gulf, and dell, 
And torrent, and ten thousand jutting shapes 
Half seen through deepest gloom, and grisly gapes. 



68 



ENDYMION. 



Blackening on every side, and overhead 

A vaulted dome like heaven's far bespread 

With starlight gems : ay, all so huge and strange, 

The solitary felt a hurried change 

Working within him into something dreary, — 

Vex'd like a morning eagle, lost and weary, 

And purblind amid foggy midnight wolds. 

But he revives at once : for who beholds 

New sudden things, nor casts his mental slough ? 

Forth from a rugged arch, in the dusk below. 

Came mother Cybele ! alone — alone — 

In sombre chariot ; dark foldings thrown 

About her majesty, and front death-pale. 

With turrets crown'd. Four maned lions hale 

The sluggish wheels ; solemn their toothed maws. 

Their surly eyes brow-hidden, heavy paws 

Uplifted drowsily, and nervy tails 

Cowering their tawny brushes. Silent sails 

This shadowy queen athwart, and faints away 

In another gloomy arch. 

Wherefore delay, 
Young traveller, in such a mournful place? 
Art thou wayworn, or canst not further trace 
The diamond path? And does it indeed end 



ENDYMION. 



Abrupt in middle air? Yet earthward bend 

Thy forehead, and to Jupiter cloud-borne 

Call ardently! He was indeed wayworn; 

Abrupt, in middle air, his way was lost; 

To cloud-borne Jove he bowed, and there crost 

Towards him a large eagle, 'twixt whose wings 

Without one impious word, himself he flings, 

Committed to the darkness and the gloom : 

Down, down, uncertain to what pleasant doom. 

Swift as a fathoming plummet down he fell 

Through unknown things ; till exhaled asphodel, 

And rose, with spicy fannings interbreathed, 

Came swelling forth where little caves were wreathed 

So thick with leaves and mosses, that they seem'd 

Large honeycombs of green, and freshly teem'd 

With airs delicious. In the greenest nook 

The eagle landed him, and farewell took. 

It was a jasmine bower, all bestrown 
With golden moss. His every sense had grown 
Ethereal for pleasure ; 'hove his head 
Flew a delight half-graspable ; his tread 
Was Hesperean ; to his capable ears 
Silence was music from the holy spheres ; 
A dewy luxury was in his eyes ; 



70 



ENDYMION. 



The little flowers felt his pleasant sighs 

And stirr'd them faintly. Verdant cave and cell 

He wander'd through, oft wondering at such swell 

Of sudden exaltation : but, " Alas !" 

Said he, " will all this gush of feeling pass 

Away in solitude ? And must they wane, 

Like melodies upon a sandy plain. 

Without an echo ? Then shall I be left 

So sad, so melancholy, so bereft ! 

Yet still I feel immortal ! O my love, 

My breath of life, where art thou ? High above. 

Dancing before the morning gates of heaven ? 

Or keeping watch among those starry seven, 

Old Atlas' children ? Art a maid of the waters. 

One of shell-winding Triton's bright-hair'd daughters ? 

Or art, impossible ! a nymph of Dian's, 

Weaving a coronal of tender scions 

For very idleness ? Where'er thou art, 

Methinks it now is at my will to start 

Into thine arms; to scare Aurora's train. 

And snatch thee from the morning; o'er the main 

To scud like a wild bird, and take thee off 

From thy sea-foamy cradle ; or to doff 

Thy shepherd vest, and woo thee 'mid fresh leaves. 

No, no, too eagerly my soul deceives 



ENDYMION. 



Its powerless self : I know this cannot be. 
O let me then by some sweet dreaming flee 
To her entrancements : hither sleep awhile ! 
Hither most gentle sleep ! and soothing foil 
For some few hours the coming solitude." 

Thus spake he, and that moment felt endued 
With power to dream deliciously ; so wound 
Through a dim passage, searching till he found 
The smoothest mossy bed and deepest, where 
He threw himself, and just into the air 
Stretching his indolent arms, he took, bliss ! 
A naked waist : " Fair Cupid, whence is this ?" 
A well-known voice sigh'd, " Sweetest, here am I 
At which soft ravishment, with doting cry 
They trembled to each other. — Helicon ! 
O fountain'd hill ! Old Homer's Helicon ! 
That thou wouldst spout a little streamlet o'er 
These sorry pages ; then the verse would soar 
And sing above this gentle pair, like lark 
Over his nested young : but all is dark 
Around thine aged top, and thy clear fount 
Exhales in mists to heaven. Ay, the count 
Of mighty Poets is made up ; the scroll 
Is folded by the Muses; the bright roll 



72 



ENDYMION. 



Is in Apollo's hand : our dazed eyes 

Have seen a new tinge in the western skies : 

The world has done its duty. Yet, oh yet, 

Although the sun of poesy is set. 

These lovers did embrace, and we must weep 

That there is no old power left to steep 

A quill immortal in their joyous tears. 

Long time in silence did their anxious fears 

Question that thus it was ; long time they lay 

Fondling and kissing every doubt away ; 

Long time ere soft caressing sobs began 

To mellow into words, and then there ran 

Two bubbling springs of talk from their sweet lips. 

O known Unknown ! from whom my being sips 
Such darling essence, wherefore may I not 
Be ever in these arms ? in this sweet spot 
Pillow my chin for ever? ever press 
These toying hands and kiss their smooth excess ? 
Why not for ever and for ever feel 
That breath about my eyes ? Ah, thou wilt steal 
Away from me again, indeed, indeed — 
Thou wilt be gone away, and wilt not heed 
My lonely madness. Speak, my kindest fair ! 
Is — is it to be so? No! Who will dare 
To pluck thee from me ? And, of thine own will. 



ENDYMION. 



Full well I feel thou wouldst not leave me. Still 

Let me entwine thee surer, surer — now 

How can we part ? Elysium ! Who art thou ? 

Who, that thou canst not be for ever here, 

Or lift me with thee to some starry sphere ? 

Enchantress ! tell me by this soft embrace, 

By the most soft complexion of thy face. 

Those lips, O slippery blisses ! twinkling eyes. 

And by these tenderest, milky sovereignties — 

These tenderest, and by the nectar-wine, 

The passion" "0 loved Ida the divine! 

Endymion ! dearest ! Ah, unhappy me ! 

His soul will 'scape us — felicity ! 

How he does love me ! His poor temples beat 

To the very tune of love — how sweet, sweet, sweet ! 

Revive, dear youth, or I shall faint and die ; 

Revive, or these soft hours will hurry by 

In tranced dullness ; speak, and let that spell 

Affright this lethargy ! I cannot quell 

Its heavy pressure, and will press at least 

My lips to thine, that they may richly feast 

Until we taste the life of love again. 

What ! dost thou move ? dost kiss ? O bliss ! O pain 

I love thee, youth, more than I can conceive; 

And so long absence from thee doth bereave 

u 



74 



ENDYMION. 



My soul of any rest ; yet must I hence : 
Yet, can I not to starry eminence 
Uplift thee ; nor for very shame can own 
Myself to thee. Ah, dearest ! do not groan, 
Or thou wilt force me from this secresy, 
And I must blush in heaven. that I 
Had done it already ! that the dreadful smiles 
At my lost brightness, my impassion'd wiles, 
Had waned from Olympus' solemn height, 
And from all serious Gods ; that our delight 
Was quite forgotten, save of us alone ! 
And wherefore so ashamed ? 'Tis but to atone 
For endless pleasure, by some coward blushes : 
Yet must I be a coward ! Horror rushes 
Too palpable before me — the sad look 
Of Jove — Minerva's start — no bosom shook 
With awe of purity — no Cupid pinion 
In reverence veil'd — my crystalline dominion 
Half lost, and all old hymns made nullity ! 
But what is this to love ? Oh ! I could fly ■ 
With thee into the ken of heavenly powers, 
So thou wouldst thus, for many sequent hours. 
Press me so sweetly. Now I swear at once 
That I am wise, that Pallas is a dunce — 
Perhaps her love like mine is but unknown — 



ENDYMION. 



75 



Oh ! I do think that I have been alone 
In chastity! yes, Pallas has been sighing, 
While every eye saw me my hair uptying 
With fingers cool as aspen leaves. Sweet love ! 
I was as vague as solitary dove, 

Nor knew that nests were built. Now a soft kiss — 

Ay, by that kiss, I vow an endless bliss. 

An immortality of passion 's thine : 

Ere long I will exalt thee to the shine 

Of heaven ambrosial ; and we will shade 

Ourselves whole summers by a river glade ; 

And I will tell thee stories of the sky. 

And breathe thee whispers of its minstrelsy ; 

My happy love will overwing all bounds ! 

let me melt into thee ! let the sounds 

Of our close voices marry at their birth ; 

Let us entwine hoveringly ! dearth 

Of human words ! roughness of mortal speech ! 

Lispings empyrean will I sometimes teach 

Thine honey'd tongue — lute-breathings which 1 gasp 

To have thee understand, now while I clasp 

Thee thus, and weep for fondness — I am pain'd, 

Endymion : woe ! woe ! is grief contain'd 

In the very deeps of pleasure, my sole life?" — 

Hereat, with many sobs, her gentle strife 



76 ENDYMION. 

Melted into a languor. He returned 
Entranced vows and tears. 

Ye who have yearn'd 
With too much passion, will here stay and pity, 
For the mere sake of truth ; as 'tis a ditty 
Not of these days, but long ago 'twas told 
By a cavern wind unto a forest old ; 
And then the forest told it in a dream 
To a sleeping lake, whose cool and level gleam 
A poet caught as he was journeying 
To Phoebus' shrine ; and in it he did fling 
His weary limbs, bathing an hour's space. 
And after, straight in that inspired place 
He sang the story up into the air. 
Giving it universal freedom. There 
Has it been ever sounding for those ears 
Whose tips are glowing hot. The legend cheers 
Yon sentinel stars ; and he who listens to it 
Must surely be self-doom'd or he will rue it : 
For quenchless burnings come upon the heart. 
Made fiercer by a fear lest any part 
Should be engulfed in the eddying wind. 
As much as here is penn'd doth always find 
A resting-place, thus much comes clear and plain. 



ENDYMION. 



Anon the strange voice is upon the wane — 
And 'tis but echoed from departing sound, 
That the fair visitant at last unwound 
Her gentle limbs, and left the youth asleep. — 
Thus the tradition of the gusty deep. 

Now turn we to our former chroniclers. — 
Endymion awoke, that grief of hers 
Sweet paining on his ear: he sickly guess'd 
How lone he was once more, and sadly press'd 
His empty arms together, hung his head, 
And most forlorn upon that widow'd bed 
Sat silently. Love's madness he had known : 
Often with more than tortur'd lion's groan 
Moanings had burst from him ; but now that rage 
Had pass'd away : no longer did he wage 
A rough-voiced war against the dooming stars. 
No, he had felt too much for such harsh jars : 
The lyre of his soul ^olian tuned 
Forgot all violence, and but communed 
With melancholy thought : O he had swoon'd 
Drunken from pleasure's nipple ! and his love 
Henceforth was dove-like. — Loth was he to move 
From the imprinted couch, and when he did, 
'Twas with slow, languid paces, and face hid 



78 



ENDYMION. 



In muffling hands. So temper'd, out he stray'd 

Half seeing visions that might have dismay'd 

Alecto's serpents ; ravishments more keen 

Than Hermes' pipe, when anxious he did lean 

Over eclipsing eyes : and at the last 

It was a sounding grotto, vaulted, vast, 

O'erstudded with a thousand, thousand pearls. 

And crimson-mouthed shells with stubborn curls. 

Of every shape and size, even to the bulk 

In which whales harbour close, to brood and sulk 

Against an endless storm. Moreover too, 

Fish-semblances, of green and azure hue. 

Ready to snort their streams. In this cool wonder 

Endymion sat down, and 'gan to ponder 

On all his life : his youth, up to the day 

When 'mid acclaim, and feasts, and garlands gay 

He stepp'd upon his shepherd throne : the look 

Of his white palace in wild forest nook. 

And all the revels he had lorded there : 

Each tender maiden whom he once thought fair, 

With every friend and fellow-woodlander — 

Pass'd like a dream before him. Then the spur 

Of the old bards to mighty deeds ; his plans 

To nurse the golden age 'mong shepherd clans : 

That wondrous night : the great Pan-festival : 



ENDYMION. 



His sister's sorrow ; and his wanderings all, 

Until into the earth's deep maw he rush'd : 

Then all its buried magic, till it flush'd 

High with excessive love. " And now," thought he 

" How long must I remain in jeopardy 

Of blank amazements that amaze no more ? 

Now I have tasted her sweet soul to the core. 

All other depths are shallow ; essences, 

Once spiritual, are like muddy lees, 

Meant but to fertilise my earthly root. 

And make my branches lift a golden fruit 

Into the bloom of heaven : other light. 

Though it be quick and sharp enough to blight, 

The Olympian eagle's vision, is dark. 

Dark as the parentage of chaos. Hark! 

My silent thoughts are echoing from these shells; 

Or they are but the ghosts, the dying swells 

Of noises far away? — list!" — Hereupon 

He kept an anxious ear. The humming tone 

Came louder, and behold, there as he lay, 

On either side outgush'd, with misty spray, 

A copious spring; and both together dash'd 

Swift, mad, fantastic round the rocks, and lash'd 

Among the conchs and shells of the lofty grot, 

Leaving a trickling dew. At last they shot 



8o 



ENDYMION. 



Down from the ceiling's height, pouring a noise 
As of some breathless racers whose hopes poise 
Upon the last few steps, and with spent force 
Along the ground they took a winding course. 
Endymion foUow'd — for it seem'd that one 
Ever pursued, the other strove to shun — 
Followed their languid mazes, till wellnigh 
He had left thinking of the mystery, — 
And was now rapt in tender hoverings 
Over the vanished bliss. Ah ! what is it sings 
His dream away ? What melodies are these ? 
They sound as through the whispering of trees, 
Not native in such barren vaults. Give ear! 

" O Arethusa, peerless nymph ! why fear 
Such tenderness as mine ? Great Dian, why, 
Why didst thou hear her prayer ? O that I 
Were rippling round her dainty fairness now, 
Circling about her waist, and striving how 
To entice her to a dive ! then stealing in 
Between her luscious lips and eyelids thin. 
that her shining hair was in the sun. 
And I distilling from it thence to run 
In amorous rillets down her shrinking form ! 
To linger on her lily shoulders, warm 



ENDYMION. 



Between her kissing breasts, and every charm 

Touch raptured ! — See how painfully I flow : 

Fair maid, be pitiful to my great woe. 

Stay, stay thy weary course, and let me lead 

A happy wooer, to the flowery mead 

Where all that beauty snared me." — Cruel god, 

Desist ! or my offended mistress' nod 

Will stagnate all thy fountains : — tease me not 

With syren words — Ah, have I really got 

Such power to madden thee ? And is it true — 

Away, away, or I shall dearly rue 

My very thoughts : in mercy then away. 

Kindest Alpheus, for should I obey 

My own dear will, 'twould be a deadly bane." — 

0, Oread-Queen ! would that thou hadst a pain 
Like this of mine, then would I fearless turn 
And be a criminal." — Alas, I burn, 
I shudder — gentle river, get thee hence. 
Alpheus ! thou enchanter ! every sense 
Of mine was once made perfect in these woods. 
Fresh breezes, bowery lavv^ns, and innocent floods, 
Ripe fruits, and lonely couch, contentment gave ; 
But ever since I heedlessly did lave 
In thy deceitful stream, a panting glow 
Grew strong within me : wherefore serve me so. 



82 



ENDYMION. 



And call it love ? Alas ! 'twas cruelty. 
Not once more did I close my happy eyes 
Amid the thrush's song. Away ! avaunt ! 

'twas a cruel thing." — " Now thou dost taunt 
So softly, Arethusa, that I think 

If thou wast playing on my shady brink, 

Thou wouldst bathe once again. Innocent maid ! 

Stifle thine heart no more ; — nor be afraid 

Of angry powers : there are deities 

Will shade us with their wings. Those fitful sighs 

'Tis almost death to hear: let me pour 

A dewy balm upon them ! — fear no more, 

Sweet Arethusa ! Dian's self must feel. 

Sometimes, these very pangs. Dear maiden, steal 

Blushing into my soul, and let us fly 

These dreary caverns for the open sky. 

1 will delight thee all my winding course. 
From the green sea up to my hidden source 
About Arcadian forests ; and will show 
The channels where my coolest waters flow 
Through mossy rocks ; where 'mid exuberant green, 
I roam in pleasant darkness, more unseen 

Than Saturn in his exile ; where I brim 
Round flowery islands, and take thence a skim 
Of mealy sweets, which myriads of bees 



ENDYMION. 



83 



Buzz from their honey'd wings : and thou shouldst 
please 

Thyself to choose the richest, where we might 

Be incense-pillow'd every summer night. 

Doff all sad fears, thou white deliciousness. 

And let us be thus comforted ; unless 

Thou couldst rejoice to see my hopeless stream 

Hurry distracted from Sol's temperate beam, 

And pour to death along some hungry sands." — 

" What can I do, Alpheus ? Dian stands 

Severe before me : persecuting fate ! 

Unhappy Arethusa ! thou wast late 

A huntress free in — " At this, sudden fell 

Those two sad streams adown a fearful dell. 

The Latmian listen'd, but he heard no more, 

Save echo, faint repeating o'er and o'er 

The name of Arethusa. On the verge 

Of that dark gulf he wept, and said : I urge 

Thee, gentle Goddess of my pilgrimage, 

By our eternal hopes, to soothe, to assuage. 

If thou art powerful, these lovers' pains; 

And make them happy in some happy plains." 

He turn'd — there was a w^helming sound — he stept. 
There was a cooler light ; and so he kept 



84 



ENDYMION. 



Towards it by a sandy path, and lo ! 
More suddenly than doth a moment go, 
The visions of the earth were gone and 
He saw the giant sea above his head. 



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, 



86 



ENDYMION. 



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, unconfined. 

Can make a ladder of the eternal wind, 

And poise about in cloudy thunder-tents 

To watch the abysm-birth of elements. 

Ay, '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. 



ENDYMION. 



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 minist'ring 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 everywhere, with silver lip 

Kissing dead things to life. The sleeping kine, 

Couch'd 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, 



88 



ENDYMION. 



The monstrous sea is thine — the myriad sea ! 
Moon ! far spooming Ocean bows to thee, 
And Tellus feels her 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 changed, 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 oif yon cape of trees, 
Dancing upon the waves, as if to please 
The curly foam with amorous influence. 
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 unaccustom'd lightning. 
Where will the splendour be content to reach ? 
O love ! how potent hast thou been to teach 



ENDYMION. 



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 gavest 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 soothed 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, 
Lash'd 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 



go 



ENDYMION. 



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, breastplates 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 chased away that heaviness. 



ENDYMION. 



gi 



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 smiled. 
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 every spake romance. 
But when my eyes with thine thereon could dance : 
No woods were green enough, no bower divine. 
Until thou lifted'st 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 blithely sing 
And mesh my dewy flowers all the night. 
No melody was like a passing spright 
If it went not to solemnise 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 



92 



ENDYMION. 



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 harmonised 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 : 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 surprised start 



ENDYMION. 



Frosted he springing verdure of his heart; 

For as he Hfted 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 wrapped 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 pictured 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, 

2 B 



94 



ENDYMION. 



And in his lap a book, the which he conn'd 

So steadfastly, that the new denizen 

Had time to keep him in amazed ken. 

To mark these shadowings, and stand in awe. 

The old man raised 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 withered 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 
Eased in one accent his o'erburden'd soul, 
Even to the trees. He rose : he grasp'd his stole, 
With convulsed clenches waving it abroad. 
And in a voice of solemn joy, that awed 
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 



ENDYMION. 



O Jove! I shall be young again, be young! 

shell-borne Neptune, I am pierced 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 swee 

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, 

1 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. 



g6 



ENDYMION. 



And leave a black memorial on the sand ? 
Or tear me piecemeal with a bony saw, 
And keep me as a chosen food to draw 
His magian fish through hated fire and flame ? 

misery of hell ! resistless, tame, 

Am I to be burn'd up ? No, I will shout. 

Until the gods through heaven's blue look out ! — 

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, farewell ! 
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 

1 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 



ENDYMION. 



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 faltering spake : 

Arise, good youth, for sacred Phcebus' 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 oppressed 
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 : 
Ay, hadst thou never loved 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 displayed 
Now as we speed towards our joyous task." 



g8 ENDYMION. 

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 jewelPd 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 danced 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. 
Ay, 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 oif a crystal pool, to see its deep. 
And one's own image from the bottom peep ? 



ENDYMION. 



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 seamews' 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, gulf'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 ! 



100 



ENDYMION. 



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 ^thon 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 plunged for life or death. To interknit 



ENDYMION. 



lOI 



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-fledged bird that first doth show 

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 loved 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, 

2 D 



102 



ENDYMION. 



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 

yF^asa'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 vSweeter! 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 fiower'd Elysium. Thus did fall 
The dew of her rich speech : * Ah ! art awake ? 



ENDYMION. 



let me hear thee speak, for Cupid's sake ! 

1 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 Hnk'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? 



104 ENDYMION. 

" 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 moved, 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 apparelling 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 



ENDYMION. 



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 pathj 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 glared 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 cursed the haggard scene — 
The banquet of my arms, my arbour queen. 
Seated upon an uptorn forest root ; 



io6 



ENDYMION. 



And all around her shapes, wizard and brute, 
Laughing, and wailing, grovelling, serpenting. 
Showing 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 fantasied. Fierce, wan, 
And tyrannising 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 suing 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 , 



ENDYMION. 



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 

Antagonising 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 : 



io8 



ENDYMION. 



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 prepared to flee 
Into the dungeon core of that wild wood : 
I fled three days — when lo ! before me stood 
Glaring the angry witch. 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 thistle-down, express. 
To cradle thee, my sweet, and lull thee : yes, 
I am too flinty-hard for thy nice touch : 



ENDYMION. 



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 '11 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 



no ENDYMION. 

Thy fragile bones to unknown burial. 

Adieu, sweet love, adieu ! ' — As shot stars fall, 

She fled ere I could groan for mercy. Stung 

And poison'd 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 



ENDYMION. 



Ill 



Because I loved 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 ceased 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. 



112 



ENDYMION. 



" 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 resumed in spite of hindering force — 
So vanish'd : and not long, before arose 
Dark clouds, and muttering of winds morose. 
Old ^olus 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 gulfing ; the poor struggling souls : 
I heard their cries amid loud thunder-rolls. 
O they had all been saved 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 emerged an old man's hand. 



ENDYMION. 



Grasping this scroll, and this same slender wand. 

I knelt with pain — reach'd out my hand — had grasp'd 

These treasures — touch'd the knuckles — they unclasp'd. 

I caught a linger: but the downward weight 

O'erpower'd 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 wellnigh won 

Into forgetfulness : when, stupified, 

I read these words, and read again, and tried 

My eyes against the heavens, and read again. 

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 loathed existence through ten centuries, 
And then to die alone. Who can devise 
A total opposition ? No one. So 



114 



ENDYMION. 



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 loved 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 destroyed.' " 

" Then," cried the young Endymion, overjoy'd, 
We are twin brothers in this destiny ! 
Say, I entreat thee, what achievement high 
Is, in this restless world, for me reserved : 
What ! if from thee my wandering feet had swerved, 
Had we both perish'd ? " — Look ! " the sage replied. 



ENDYMION. 



Dost thou not mark a gleaming through the tide, 
Of divers brilHances ? '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 unobscured 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, traced 
Such thousands of shut eyes in order placed ; 
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 ; 



ii6 



ENDYMION. 



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, trembHng Hke 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." 



ENDYMION. 

'Twas done : and straight with sudden swell and 
Sweet music breathed 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 upturned 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 passed, 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 persevered along, and thus 
All were reanimated. There arose 

2 H 



ii8 



ENDYMION. 



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 gazed 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 oozed 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. 

"Away!'' 

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. 



ENDYMION. 



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 
Moved 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 surprised them. Glaucus cried, 
" Behold ! behold, the palace of his pride ! 
God Neptune's palaces !" With noise increased, 
They shoulder'd on towards that brightening east. 
At every onward step proud domes arose 



120 



ENDYMION, 



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 show 
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 



ENDYMION. 



121 



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, 
Awed from the throne aloof ; — and when storm-rent 
Disclosed the thunder-gloomings in Jove's air; 
But soothed 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 

2 I 



122 



ENDYMION. 



Of deep-seen wondens 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 danced; 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 kiss'd 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 smiled 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 
Escaped from dull mortality's harsh net ? 



ENDYMION. 



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. 

Ay, 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 da 

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' 
New growth about each shell and pendent lyre; 
The which, in entangling for their fire 
PuU'd down fresh foliage and coverture 
For dainty toy. Cupid, empire-sure. 



124 



ENDYMION. 



Flutter'd and laugh'd, and oft-times through the throng 
Made a deHghted 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 iEolus thy foe 



ENDYMION. 



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 

Gulfs 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-born 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 ! vain, O vain ! 
Not flowers budding in an April rain, 
Nor breath of sleeping dove, nor river's flow — 
No, nor the ^^^olian twang of Love's own bow. 
Can mingle music fit for the soft ear 
Of goddess Cytherea ! 

2 K 



126 



ENDYMION. 



Yet deign, white Queen of Beauty, thy fair eyes 
On our souls' sacrifice. 

"Bright-winged Child! 
Who has another care when thou hast smiled ? 
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 I 
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 
Open'd 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, 



ENDYMION. 



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 here far strayed from mortality. 
He could not bear it — shut his eyes in vain ; 
Imagination gave a dizzier pain. 
"01 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 purposed to convey 
Towards a crystal bower far away. 

Lo ! while slow carried through the pitying crowd. 



128 



ENDYMION. 



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 wonder he had seen, 
Luird with its simple song his fluttering breast. 
How happy once again in grassy nest ! 



ENDYMION. 



129 



BOOK IV. 



Muse of my native land! loftiest Muse! 

first-born on the mountains ! By the hues 

Of heaven on the spiritual air begot : 

Long didst thou sit alone in northern grot, 

While yet our England was a wolfish den ; 

Before our forests heard the talk of men ; 

Before the first of Druids was a child ; — 

Long didst thou sit amid our regions wild, 

Rapt in a deep prophetic solitude. 

There came an eastern voice of solemn mood : — 

Yet wast thou patient. Then sang forth the Nine, 

Apollo's garland : — yet didst thou divine 

Such home-bred glory, that they cried in vain, 

" Come hither, Sister of the Island ! " Plain 

Spake fair Ausonia; and once more she spake 

A higher summons : — still didst thou betake 

Thee to thy native hopes. O thou hast won 

A full accomplishment! The thing is done, 

2 L 



130 



ENDYMION. 



Which undone, these our latter days had risen 

On barren souls. Great Muse, thou know'st what prison 

Of flesh and bone, curbs, and confines, and frets 

Our spirits' wings : despondency besets 

Our pillows; and the fresh to-morrow morn 

Seems to give forth its light in very scorn 

Of our dull, uninspired, snail-paced lives. 

Long have I said, how happy he who shrives 

To thee ! But then I thought on poets gone. 

And could not pray : — nor can I now — so on 

I move to the end in lowliness of heart. — 

Ah, woe is me ! that I should fondly part 
From my dear native land ! Ah, foolish maid ! 
Glad was the hour, when, with thee, myriads bade 
Adieu to Ganges and their pleasant fields ! 
To one so friendless the clear freshet yields 
A bitter coolness; the ripe grape is sour: 
Yet I would have, great gods ! but one short hour 
Of native air — let me but die at home." 

Endymion to heaven's airy dome 
Was offering up a hecatomb of vows. 
When these words reach'd him. Whereupon he bows 
His head through thorny-green entanglement 



ENDYMION. 



Of underwood, and to the sound is bent, 
Anxious as hind towards her hidden fawn. 

" Is no one near to help me ? No fair dawn 
Of Hfe from charitable voice ? No sweet saying 
To set my dull and sadden'd spirit playing! 
No hand to toy with mine ? No lips so sweet 
That I may worship them ? No eyelids meet 
To twinkle on my bosom ? No one dies 
Before me, till from these enslaving eyes 
Redemption sparkles ! — I am sad and lost." 

Thou, Carian lord, hadst better have been tost 
Into a whirlpool. Vanish into air, 
Warm mountaineer! for canst thou only bear 
A woman's sigh alone and in distress ? 
See not her charms! Is Phoebe passionless? 
Phcebe is fairer far — O gaze no more : — 
Yet if thou wilt behold all beauty's store. 
Behold her panting in the forest grass ! 
Do not those curls of glossy jet surpass 
For tenderness the arms so idly lain 
Amongst them ? Feelest not a kindred pain. 
To see such lovely eyes in swimming search 
After some warm delight, that seems to perch 



132 



ENDYMION. 



Dovelike in the dim cell lying beyond 
Their upper lids? — Hist! 

O for Hermes' wand, 
To touch this flower into human shape ! 
That woodland Hyacinthus could escape 
From his green prison, and here kneeling down 
Call me his queen, his second life's fair crown ! 
Ah me, how I could love ! — My soul doth melt 
For the unhappy youth — Love ! I have felt 
So faint a kindness, such a meek surrender 
To what my own full thoughts had made too tender. 
That but for tears my life had fled away ! — 
Ye deaf and senseless minutes of the day, 
And thou, old forest, hold ye this for true, 
There is no lightning, no authentic dew 
But in the eye of love : there's not a sound, 
Melodious howsoever, can confound 
The heavens and earth in one to such a death 
As doth the voice of love : there 's not a breath 
Will mingle kindly with the meadow air. 
Till it has panted round, and stolen a share 
Of passion from the heart ! " — 

Upon a bough 



ENDYMION. 



He leant, wretched. He surely cannot now 

Thirst for another love : impious, 

That he can even dream upon it thus ! 

Thought he, " Why am I not as are the dead. 

Since to a woe like this I have been led 

Through the dark earth, and through the wondrous sea ? 

Goddess ! I love thee not the less : from thee 

By Juno's smile I turn not — no, no, no — 

While the great waters are at ebb and flow, — 

I have a triple soul ! O fond pretence — 

For both, for both my love is so immense, 

I feel my heart is cut in twain for them." 

And so he groan'd, as one by beauty slain. 
The lady's heart beat quick, and he could see 
Her gentle bosom heave tumultuously. 
He sprang from his green covert : there she lay. 
Sweet as a musk-rose upon new-made hay; 
With all her limbs on tremble, and her eyes 
Shut softly up alive. To speak he tries : 

Fair damsel, pity me ! forgive that I 
Thus violate thy bower's sanctity ! 
pardon me, for I am full of grief — 
Grief born of thee, young angel ! fairest thief ! 
Who stolen hast away the wings wherewith 

2 M 



134 



ENDYMION. 



I was to top the heavens. Dear maid, sith 

Thou art my executioner, and I feel 

Loving and hatred, misery and weal, 

Will in a few short hours be nothing to me, 

And all my story that much passion slew me ; 

Do smile upon the evening of my days ; 

And, for my tortured brain begins to craze, 

Be thou my nurse ; and let me understand 

How dying I shall kiss that lily hand. — 

Dost weep for me ! Then should I be content. 

Scowl on, ye fates ! until the firmament 

Outblackens Erebus, and the full-cavern'd earth 

Crumbles into itself. By the cloud-girth 

Of Jove, those tears have given me a thirst 

To meet oblivion." — As her heart would burst 

The maiden sobb'd awhile, and then replied : 

" Why must such desolation betide 

As that thou speakest of? Are not these green nooks 

Empty of all misfortune ? Do the brooks 

Utter a gorgon voice ? Does yonder thrush, 

Schooling its half-fledged little ones to brush 

About the dewy forest, whisper tales ? — 

Speak not of grief, young stranger, or cold snails 

Will slime the rose to-night. Though if thou wilt, 

Methinks 'twould be a guilt — a very guilt — 



ENDYMION. 



Not to companion thee, and sigh away 

The light — the dusk — the dark — till break of day ! " 

Dear lady," said Endymion, " 'tis past : 
I love thee ! and my days can never last. 
That I may pass in patience still speak : 
Let me have music dying, and I seek 
No more delight — I bid adieu to all. 
Didst thou not after other climates call, 
And murmur about Indian streams?" — Then she. 
Sitting beneath the midmost forest tree. 
For pity sang this roundelay — — 

" O Sorrow ! 
Why dost borrow 

The natural hue of health, from vermeil lips ? — 
To give maiden blushes 
To the white rose bushes ? 

Or is it thy dewy hand the daisy tips ? 

" O Sorrow ! 

Why dost borrow 
The lustrous passion from a falcon-eye ? — 

To give the glow-worm light ? 

Or, on a moonless night, 
To tinge, on syren shores, the salt sea-spry ? 



136 



ENDYMION. 



" O Sorrow ! 

Why dost borrow 
The mellow ditties from a mourning tongue ? — 

To give at evening pale 

Unto the nightingale, 
That thou mayst listen the cold dews among ? 

" O Sorrow ! 

Why dost borrow 
Heart's lightness from the merriment of May ? 

A lover would not tread 

A cowslip on the head, 
Though he should dance from eve till peep of day — 

Nor any drooping flower 

Held sacred for thy bower, 
Wherever he may sport himself and play. 

" To Sorrow, 

I bade good morrow, 
And thought to leave her far away behind ; 

But cheerly, cheerly, 

She loves me dearly; 
She is so constant to me, and so kind : 

I would deceive her. 

And so leave her, 
But ah ! she is so constant and so kind. 



ENDYMION. 



Beneath my palm-trees, by the river side, 
I sat a weeping : in the whole world wide 
There was no one to ask me why I wept — 

And so I kept 
Brimming the water-lily cups with tears 
Cold as my fears. 

" Beneath my palm-trees, by the river side 
I sat a weeping : what enamour'd bride. 
Cheated by shadowy wooer from the clouds. 

But hides and shrouds 
Beneath dark palm-trees by a river side ? 

And as I sat, over the light blue hills 
There came a noise of revellers : the rills 
Into the wide stream came of purple hue — 

'Twas Bacchus and his. crew ! 
The earnest trumpet spake, and silver thrills 
From kissing cymbals made a merry din — 

'Twas Bacchus and his kin ! 
Like to a moving vintage down they came, 
Crown'd with green leaves, and faces all on flame 
All madly dancing through the pleasant valley, 

To scare thee, Melancholy ! 
O then, then, thou wast a simple name ! 

2 N 



138 ENDYMION. 

And I forgot thee, as the berried holly 
By shepherds is forgotten, when in June, 
Tall chesnuts keep away the sun and moon : — 
I rush'd into the folly ! 

" Within his car, aloft, young Bacchus stood. 
Trifling his ivy-dart, in dancing mood, 

With sidelong laughing ; 
And little rills of crimson wine imbrued 
His plump white arms, and shoulders, enough white 

For Venus' pearly bite ; 
And near him rode Silenus on his ass, 
Pelted with flowers as he on did pass 

Tipsily quaffing. 

"Whence came ye, merry Damsels! whence came ye. 
So many, and so many, and such glee ? 
Why have ye left your bowers desolate. 

Your lutes, and gentler fate ? 
' We follow Bacchus ! Bacchus on the wing, 

A conquering ! 
Bacchus, young Bacchus ! good or ill betide. 
We dance before him thorough kingdoms wide : — 
Come hither, lady fair, and joined be 

To our wild minstrelsy ! * 



ENDYMION. 



" Whence came ye, jolly Satyrs ! whence came ye, 
So many, and so many, and such glee ? 
Why have ye left your forest haunts, why left 

Your nuts in oak-tree cleft ? — 
* For wine, for wine we left our kernel tree ; 
For wine we left our heath, and yellow brooms, 

And cold mushrooms ; 
For wine we follow Bacchus through the earth ; 
Great god of breathless cups and chirping mirth ! 
Come hither, lady fair, and joined be 

To our mad minstrelsy ! ' 

" Over wide streams and mountains great we went. 
And, save when Bacchus kept his ivy tent, 
Onward the tiger and the leopard pants, 

With Asian elephants : 
Onward these myriads — with song and dance, 
With zebras striped, and sleek Arabians' prance. 
Web-footed alligators, crocodiles. 
Bearing upon their scaly backs, in files. 
Plump infant laughers mimicking the coil 
Of seamen, and stout galley-rowers' toil : 
With toying oars and silken sails they glide. 

Nor care for wind and tide. 



140 



ENDYMION. 



Mounted on panthers' furs and lions' manes, 
From rear to van they scour about the plains ; 
A three days' journey in a moment done ; 
And always, at the rising of the sun. 
About the wilds they hunt with spear and horn. 
On spleenful unicorn. 

^' I saw Osirian Egypt kneel adown 

Before the vine-wreath crown ! 
I saw parch'd Abyssinia rouse and sing 

To the silver cymbals' ring ! 
I saw the whelming vintage hotly pierce 

Old Tartary the fierce ! 
The kings of Ind their jewel-sceptres vail. 
And from their treasures scatter pearled hail ; 
Great Brahma from his mystic heaven groans. 

And all his priesthood moans. 
Before young Bacchus' eye-wink turning pale 
Into these regions came I, following him. 
Sick-hearted, weary — so I took a whim 
To stray away into these forests drear. 

Alone, without a peer: 
And I have told thee all thou mayest hear. 



ENDYMION. 

" Young Stranger ! 
I've been a ranger 

In search of pleasure throughout every cHme ; 
Alas ! 'tis not for me : 
Bewitch'd I sure must be, 

To lose in grieving all my maiden prime. 



" Come then, Sorrow, 

Sweetest Sorrow ! 
Like an own babe I nurse thee on my breast 

I thought to leave thee. 

And deceive thee. 
But now of all the world I love thee best. 



^' There is not one. 

No, no, not one 
But thee to comfort a poor lonely maid ; 

Thou art her mother. 

And her brother. 
Her playmate, and her wooer in the shade." 

O what a sigh she gave in finishing, 
And look, quite dead to every worldly thing! 
Endymion could not speak, but gazed on her: 
And listen'd to the wind that now did stir 

2 o 



142 



ENDYMION. 



About the crisped oaks full drearily, 

Yet with as sweet a softness as might be 

Remember'd from its velvet summer song. 

At last he said : Poor lady ! how thus long 

Have I been able to endure that voice ? 

Fair Melody! kind Syren! I've no choice; 

I must be thy sad servant evermore : 

I cannot choose but kneel here and adore. 

Alas, I must not think — by Phcebe, no ! 

Let me not think, soft Angel ! shall it be so ? 

Say, beautifullest, shall I never think ? 

O thou couldst foster me beyond the brink 

Of recollection ! make my watchful care 

Close up its bloodshot eyes, nor see despair ! 

Do gently murder half my soul, and I 

Shall feel the other half so utterly ! — 

I'm giddy at that cheek so fair and smooth ; 

let it blush so ever: let it soothe 

My madness ! let it mantle rosy-warm 

With the tinge of love, panting in safe alarm. 

This cannot be thy hand, and yet it is ; 

And this is sure thine other softling — this 

Thine own fair bosom, and I am so near! 

Wilt fall asleep? let me sip that tear! 

And whisper one sweet word that I may know 



ENDYMION. 



I 



This is this world — sweet dewy blossom ! " — Woe ! 

Woe ! woe to that Endymion ! Where is he ? — 

Even these words went echoing dismally 

Through the wide forest — a most fearful tone, 

Like one repenting in his latest moan ; 

And while it died away a shade pass'd by, 

As of a thunder-cloud. When arrows fly 

Through the thick branches, poor ring-doves sleek forth 

Their timid necks and tremble ; so these both 

Leant to each other trembling, and sat so 

Waiting for some destruction — when lo ! 

Foot-feather'd Mercury appear'd sublime 

Beyond the tall tree tops ; and in less time 

Than shoots the slanted hail-storm, down he dropp'd 

Towards the ground ; but rested not, nor stopp'd 

One moment from his home : only the sward 

He with his wand light touch'd, and heavenward 

Swifter than sight was gone — even before 

The teeming earth a sudden witness bore 

Of his swift magic. Diving swans appear 

Above the crystal circlings white and clear; 

And catch the cheated eye in wild surprise, 

How they can dive in sight and unseen rise — 

So from the turf outsprang two steeds jet-black. 

Each with large dark blue wings upon his back. 



144 



ENDYMION. 



The youth of Caria placed the lovely dame 

On one, and felt himself in spleen to tame 

The other's fierceness. Through the air they flew, 

High as the eagles. Like two drops of dew 

Exhaled to Phcebus' lips, away they are gone, 

Far from the earth away — unseen, alone 

Among cool clouds and winds, but that the free 

The buoyant life of song can floating be 

Above their heads, and follow them untired. 

Muse of my native land ! am I inspired ? 

This is the giddy air, and I must spread 

Wide pinions to keep here : nor do I dread 

Or height, or depth, or width, or any chance 

Precipitous : I have beneath my glance 

Those towering horses and their mournful freight. 

Could I thus sail, and see, and thus await 

Fearless for power of thought, without thine aid ? 

There is a sleepy dusk, an odorous shade 

From some approaching wonder, and behold 

Those winged steeds, with snorting nostrils bold 

Snufl" at its faint extreme, and seem to tire, 

Dying to embers from their native fire ! 

There curl'd a purple mist around them ; soon. 
It seem'd as when around the pale new moon 



ENDYMION. 



Sad 2^ephyr droops the clouds like weeping willow 

'Twas Sleep slow journeying with head on pillow, 

For the first time, since he came nigh dead-born 

From the old womb of night, his cave forlorn 

Had he left more forlorn ; for the first time. 

He felt aloof the day and morning's prime — 

Because into his depth Cimmerian 

There came a dream, showing how a young man, 

Ere a lean bat could plump its wintry skin. 

Would at high Jove's empyreal footstool win 

An immortality, and how espouse 

Jove's daughter, and be reckon'd of his house. 

Now was he slumbering towards heaven's gate. 

That he might at the threshold one hour wait 

To hear the marriage melodies, and then 

Sink downward to his dusky cave again ; 

His litter of smooth semilucent mist, 

Diversely tinged with rose and amethyst. 

Puzzled those eyes that for the centre sought ; 

And scarcely for one moment could be caught 

His sluggish form reposing motionless. 

Those two on winged steeds, with all the stress 

Of vision search'd for him, as one would look 

Athwart the sallows of a river nook 

To catch a glance at silver-throated eels, — 



146 



ENDYMION. 



Or from old Skiddaw's top, when fog conceals 
His rugged forehead in a mantle pale, 
With an eye-guess towards some pleasant vale, 
Descry a favourite hamlet faint and far. 

These raven horses, though they foster'd are 
Of earth's splenetic fire, dully drop 
Their full-veined ears, nostrils blood wide, and stop; 
Upon the spiritless mist have they outspread 
Their ample feathers, are in slumber dead, — 
And on those pinions, level in mid-air, 
Endymion sleepeth and the lady fair. 
Slowly they sail, slowly as icy isle 
Upon a calm sea drifting: and meanwhile 
The mournful wanderer dreams. Behold ! he walks 
On heaven's pavement, brotherly he talks 
To divine powers : from his hand full fain 
Juno's proud birds are pecking pearly grain: 
He tries the nerve of Phoebus' golden bow. 
And asketh where the golden apples grow : 
Upon his arm he braces Pallas' shield. 
And strives in vain to unsettle and wield 
A Jovian thunderbolt: arch Hebe brings 
A full-brimm'd goblet, dances lightly, sings 
And tantalises long; at last he drinks, 



ENDYMION. 



And lost in pleasure, at her feet he sinks, 

Touching with dazzled lips her star-light hand, 

He blows a bugle, — an ethereal band 

Are visible above ; the Seasons four, — 

Green-kirtled Spring, flush Summer, golden store 

In Autumn's sickle, Winter frosty hoar. 

Join dance with shadowy Hours ; while still the blast. 

In swells unmitigated, still doth last 

To sway their floating morris. Whose is this ? 

Whose bugle ? " he inquires : they smile — " O Dis ! 

Why is this mortal here ? Dost thou not know 

Its mistress' lips ? Not thou ? — 'Tis Dian's : lo ! 

She rises crescented 1 " He looks, 'tis she, 

His very goddess : good-bye earth, and sea. 

And air, and pains, and care, and suffering; 

Good-bye to all but love ! Then doth he spring 

Towards her, and awakes — and, strange, o'erhead. 

Of those same fragrant exhalations bred. 

Beheld awake his very dream : the gods 

Stood smiling; merry Hebe laughs and nods; 

And Phoebe bends towards him crescented. 

O state perplexing! On the pinion bed, 

Too well awake, he feels the panting side 

Of his delicious lady. He who died 

For soaring too audacious in the sun. 



148 



ENDYMION. 



Where that same treacherous wax began to run, 

Felt not more tongue-tied than Endymion. 

His heart leapt up as to its rightful throne, 

To that fair-shadow'd passion pulsed its way — 

Ah, what perplexity ! Ah, well a-day ! 

So fond, so beauteous was his bed-fellow 

He could not help but kiss her : then he grew 

Awhile forgetful of all beauty save 

Young Phoebe's, golden-haired ; and so 'gan crave 

Forgiveness : yet he turn'd once more to look 

At the sweet sleeper, — all his soul was shook, — 

She press'd his hand in slumber; so once more 

He could not help but kiss her and adore. 

At this the shadow wept, melting away. 

The Latmian started up : " Bright goddess, stay ! 

Search my most hidden breast ! By truth's own tongue, 

I have no dsedale heart; why is it wrung 

To desperation ? Is there nought for me. 

Upon the bourne of bliss, but misery ? " 

These words awoke the stranger of dark tresses : 
Her dawning love-look rapt Endymion blesses 
With 'haviour soft. Sleep yawn'd from underneath. 

Thou swan of Ganges, let us no more breathe 
This murky phantasm ! thou contented seem'st 



ENDYMION. 



Pillow'd in lovely idleness, nor dream'st 

What horrors may discomfort thee and me. 

Ah, shouldst thou die from my heart-treachery ! — 

Yet did she merely weep — her gentle soul 

Hath no revenge in it; as it is whole 

In tenderness, would I were whole in love ! 

Can I prize thee, fair maid, all price above, 

Even when I feel as true as innocence ! 

I do, I do. — What is this soul then ? Whence 

Came it ? It does not seem my own, and I 

Have no self-passion or identity. 

Some fearful end must be ; where, where is it ? 

By Nemesis ! I see my spirit flit 

Alone about the dark — Forgive me, sweet ! 

Shall we away ? " He roused the steeds ; they beat 

Their wings chivalrous into the clear air. 

Leaving old Sleep within his vapoury lair. 

The good-night blush of eve was waning slow, 
And Vesper, risen star, began to throe 
In the dusk heavens silvery, when they 
Thus sprang direct towards the Galaxy. 
Nor did speed hinder converse soft and strange — 
Eternal oaths and vows they interchange. 
In such wise, in such temper, so aloof 

2 Q 



ENDYMION 



Up in the winds, beneath a starry roof, 

So witless of their doom, that verily 

'Tis wellnigh past man's search their hearts to see ; 

Whether they wept, or laugh'd, or griev'd, or toy'd — 

Most like with joy gone mad, with sorrow cloy'd. 

Full facing their swift flight, from ebon streak, 
The moon put forth a little diamond peak, 
No bigger than an unobserved star. 
Or tiny point of fairy scimetar; 
Bright signal that she only stoop'd to tie 
Her silver sandals, ere deliciously 
She bow'd into the heavens her timid head. 
Slowly she rose, as though she would have fled. 
While to his lady meek the Carian turn'd. 
To mark if her dark eyes had yet discern'd 
This beauty in its birth — Despair ! despair ! 
He saw her body fading gaunt and spare 
In the cold moonshine. Straight he seized her wrist; 
It melted from his grasp ; her hand he kiss'd, 
And, horror! kiss'd his own — he was alone. 
Her steed a little higher soar'd, and then 
Dropt hawk-wise to the earth. 



There lies a den. 



ENDYMION. 



Beyond the seeming confines of the space 
Made for the soul to wander in and trace 
Its own existence, of remotest glooms. 
Dark regions are around it, where the tombs 
Of buried griefs the spirit sees, but scarce 
One hour doth linger weeping, for the pierce 
Of new-born woe it feels more inly smart : 
And in these regions many a venom'd dart 
At random flies ; they are the proper home 
Of every ill : the man is yet to come 
Who hath not journey'd in this native hell. 
But few have ever felt how calm and well 
Sleep may be had in that deep den of all. 
There anguish does not sting, nor pleasure pall ; 
Woe-hurricanes beat ever at the gate. 
Yet all is still within and desolate. 
Beset with painful gusts, within ye hear 
No sound so loud as when on curtain'd bier 
The death-watch tick is stifled. Enter none 
Who strive therefore ; on the sudden it is won. 
Just when the sufferer begins to burn, 
Then it is free to him ; and from an urn. 
Still fed by melting ice, he takes a draught — 
Young Semele such richness never quaff'd 
In her maternal longing. Happy gloom ! 



ENDYMION. 



Dark Paradise ! where pale becomes the bloom 
Of health by due ; where silence dreariest 
Is most articulate; where hopes infest; 
Where those eyes are the brightest far that keep 
Their lids shut longest in a dreamless sleep. 
O happy spirit-home ! O wondrous soul ! 
Pregnant with such a den to save the whole 
In thine own depth. Hail, gentle Carian ! 
For, never since thy griefs and woes began, 
Hast thou felt so content: a grievous feud 
Hath led thee to this Cave of Quietude. 
Ay, his luird soul was there, although upborne 
With dangerous speed : and so he did not mourn 
Because he knew not whither he was going. 
So happy was he, not the aerial blowing 
Of trumpets at clear parley from the east 
Could rouse from that fine relish, that high feast. 
They stung the feather'd horse ; with fierce alarm 
He flapped towards the sound. Alas ! no charm 
Could lift Endymion's head, or he had view'd 
A skyey mask, a pinion'd multitude, — 
And silvery was its passing : voices sweet 
Warbling the while as if to lull and greet 
The wanderer in his path. Thus warbled they, 
While past the vision went in bright array. 



ENDYMION. 



Who, who from Dian's feast would be away ? 
For all the golden bowers of the day 
Are empty left? Who, who away would be 
From Cynthia's wedding and festivity ? 
Not Hesperus: lo ! upon his silver wings 
He leans away for highest heaven and sings, 
Snapping his lucid fingers merrily ! — 
Ah, Zephyrus ! art here, and Flora too ? 
Ye tender bibbers of the rain and dew, 
Young playmates of the rose and daffodil. 
Be careful, ere ye enter in, to fill 

Your baskets high 
With fennel green, and balm, and golden pines. 
Savory, latter-mint, and columbines. 
Cool parsley, basil sweet, and sunny thyme ; 
Yea, every flower and leaf of every clime, 
All gather'd in the dewy morning : hie 

Away ! fly, fly ! — 
Crystalline brother of the belt of heaven, 
Aquarius! to whom king Jove has given 
Two liquid pulse streams 'stead of feather'd wings, 
Two fanlike fountains — thine illuminings 

For Dian play; 
Dissolve the frozen purity of air; 
Let thy white shoulders silvery and bare 

2 R 



154 



ENDYMION. 



Show cold through watery pinions; make more bright 
The Star-Queen's crescent on her marriage night: 

Haste, haste away ! 
Castor has tamed the planet Lion, see ! 
And of the Bear has Pollux mastery: 
A third is in the race ! who is the third. 
Speeding away swift as the eagle bird ? 

The ramping Centaur ! 
The Lion's mane 's on end : the Bear how fierce ! 
The Centaur's arrow ready seems to pierce 
Some enemy : far forth his bow is bent 
Into the blue of heaven. He '11 be shent. 

Pale unrelentor, 
When he shall hear the wedding lutes a playing. — 
Andromeda ! sweet woman ! why delaying 
So timidly among the stars : come hither ! 
Join this bright throng, and nimbly follow whither 

They all are going. 
Danae's Son, before Jove newly bow'd, 
Has wept for thee, calling to Jove aloud. 
Thee, gentle lady, did he disenthral : 
Ye shall for ever live and love, for all 

Thy tears are flowing. — 
By Daphne's fright, behold Apollo!" — 



ENDYMION. 



More 

Endymion heard not : down his steed him bore, 
Prone to the green head of a misty hill. 

His first touch of the earth went nigh to kill. 
Alas ! " said he, " were I but always borne 
Through dangerous winds, had but my footsteps worn 
A path in hell, for ever would I bless 
Horrors which nourish an uneasiness 
For my own sullen conquering; to him 
Who lives beyond earth's boundary, grief is dim, 
Sorrow is but a shadow : now I see 
The grass ; I feel the solid ground — Ah, me ! 
It is thy voice — divinest ! Where ? — who ? who 
Left thee so quiet on this bed of dew ? 
Behold upon this happy earth we are ; 
Let us aye love each other; let us fare 
On forest-fruits, and never, never go 
Among the abodes of mortals here below, 
Or be by phantoms duped. destiny! 
Into a labyrinth now my soul would fly. 
But with thy beauty will I deaden it. 
Where didst thou melt to ? By thee will I sit 
For ever: let our fate stop here — a kid 
I on this spot will offer : Pan will bid 



ENDYMION. 



Us live in peace, in love and peace among 

His forest wildernesses. I have clung 

To nothing, loved a nothing, nothing seen 

Or felt but a great dream ! Oh, I have been 

Presumptuous against love, against the sky. 

Against all elements, against the tie 

Of mortals each to each, against the blooms 

Of flowers, rush of rivers, and the tombs 

Of heroes gone ! Against his proper glory 

Has my own soul conspired: so my story 

Will I to children utter, and repent. 

There never lived a mortal man, who bent 

His appetite beyond his natural sphere. 

But starved and died. My sweetest Indian, here, 

Here will I kneel, for thou redeemed hast 

My life from too thin breathing : gone and past 

Are cloudy phantasms. Caverns lone, farewell ! 

And air of visions, and the monstrous swell 

Of visionary seas ! No, never more 

Shall airy voices cheat me to the shore 

Of tangled wonder, breathless and aghast. 

Adieu, my daintiest Dream ! although so vast 

My love is still for thee. The hour may come 

When we shall meet in pure elysium. 

On earth I may not love thee, and therefore 



ENDYMION. 



Doves will I offer up, and sweetest store 
All through the teeming year: so thou wilt shine 
On me, and on this damsel fair of mine. 
And bless our simple lives. My Indian bliss ! 
My river-lily bud ! one human kiss ! 
One sigh of real breath — one gentle squeeze, 
Warm as a dove's nest among summer trees, 
And warm with dew at ooze from living blood ! 
Whither didst melt? Ah, what of that! — all good 
We '11 talk about — no more of dreaming. — Now, 
Where shall our dwelling be ? Under the brow 
Of some steep mossy hill, where ivy dun 
Would hide us up, although spring leaves were none 
And where dark yew-trees, as we rustle through, 
Will drop their scarlet-berry cups of dew ! 
thou wouldst joy to live in such a place ! 
Dusk for our loves, yet light enough to grace 
•Those gentle limbs on mossy bed reclined: 
For by one step the blue sky shouldst thou find, 
And by another, in deep dell below, 
See, through the trees, a little river go 
All in its mid-day gold and glimmering. 
Honey from out the gnarled hive I '11 bring, 
And apples, wan with sweetness, gather thee, — 
Cresses that grow where no man may them see, 



158 



ENDYMION. 



And sorrel untorn by the dew-claw'd stag: 

Pipes will I fashion of the syrinx flag, 

That thou mayst always know whither I roam, 

When it shall please thee in our quiet home 

To listen and think of love. Still let me speak; 

Still let me dive into the joy I seek, — 

For yet the past doth prison me. The rill, 

Thou haply mayst delight in, will I fill 

With fairy fishes from the mountain tarn. 

And thou shalt feed them from the squirrel's barn. 

Its bottom will I strew with amber shells, 

And pebbles blue from deep enchanted wells. 

Its sides I'll plant with dew sweet eglantine, 

And honeysuckles full of clear bee-wine. 

I will entice this crystal rill to trace 

Love's silver name upon the meadow's face. 

I'll kneel to Vesta, for a flame of fire; 

And to god Phoebus, for a golden lyre ; 

To Empress Dian, for a hunting-spear ; 

To Vesper, for a taper silver-clear. 

That I may see thy beauty through the night; 

To Flora, and a nightingale shall light 

Tame on thy finger; to the River-gods, 

And they shall bring thee taper fishing-rods 

Of gold, and lines of naiads' long bright tress. 



7 



ENDYMION. 159 

Heaven shield thee for thine utter loveHness ! 

Thy mossy footstool shall the altar be 

'Fore which I '11 bend, bending, dear love, to thee": 

Those lips shall be my Delphos, and shall speak 

Laws to my footsteps, colour to my cheek, 

Trembling or steadfastness to this same voice, 

And of three sweetest' pleasurings the choice: 

And that affectionate light, those diamond things, 

Those eyes, those passions, those supreme pearl springs 

Shall be my grief, or twinkle me to pleasure. 

Say, is not bliss within our perfect seizure ? 

that I could not doubt!" 

The mountaineer 
Thus strove by fancies vain and crude to clear 
His brier'd path to some tranquillity. 
It gave bright gladness to his lady's eye. 
And yet the tears she wept were tears of sorrow; 
Answering thus, just as the golden morrow 
Beam'd upward from the valleys of the east: 
" O that the flutter of his heart had ceased, 
Or the sweet name of love had pass'd away! 
Young feather'd tyrant ! by a swift decay 
Wilt thou devote this body to the earth : 
And I do think that at my very birth 



i6o 



ENDYMION. 



I lisp'd thy blooming titles inwardly; 

For at the first, first dawn and thought of thee, 

With uplift hands I bless'd the stars of heaven. 

Art thou not cruel ? ever have I striven 

To think thee kind, but ah, it will not do ! 

When yet a child, I heard that kisses drew 

Favour from thee, and so I kisses gave 

To the void air, bidding them find out love : 

But when I came to feel how far above 

All fancy, pride, and fickle maidenhood. 

All earthly pleasure, all imagined good. 

Was the warm tremble of a devout kiss, — 

Even then that moment, at the thought of this, 

Fainting I fell into a bed of flowers. 

And languished there three days. Ye milder powers. 

Am I not cruelly wrong'd ? Believe, believe 

Me, dear Endymion, were I to weave 

With my own fancies garlands of sweet life. 

Thou shouldst be one of all. Ah, bitter strife ! 

I may not be thy love : I am forbidden — 

Indeed I am — thwarted, affrighted, chidden. 

By things I trembled at, and gorgon wrath. 

Twice hast thou ask'd whither I went : henceforth 

Ask me no more ! I may not utter it, 

Nor may I be thy love. We might commit 



ENDYMION. 



Ourselves at once to vengeance ; we might die ; 

We might embrace and die : voluptuous thought ! 

Enlarge not to my hunger, or I 'm caught 

In trammels of perverse deliciousness. 

No, no, that shall not be : thee will I bless, 

And bid a long adieu." 

The Carian 

No word return'd ; both lovelorn, silent, wan, 
Into the valleys green together went. 
Far wandering, they were perforce content 
To sit beneath a fair lone beechen tree ; 
Nor at each other gazed, but heavily 
Pored on its hazel cirque of shedded leaves. 

Endymion ! unhappy ! it nigh grieves 
Me to behold thee thus in last extreme : 
Enskied ere this, but truly that I deem 
Truth the best music in a first-born song. 
Thy lute-voiced brother will I sing ere long, 
And thou shalt aid — hast thou not aided me ? 
Yes, moonlight Emperor ! felicity 
Has been thy meed for many thousand years. 
Yet often have I, on the brink of tears, 
Mourn'd as if yet thou wert a forester; — 



l62 



ENDYMION. 



Forgetting the old tale. 

He did not stir 
His eyes from the dead leaves, or one small pulse 
Of joy he might have felt. The spirit culls 
Unfaded amaranth, when wild it strays 
Through the old garden-ground of boyish days. 
A little onward ran the very stream 
By which he took his first soft poppy dream ; 
And on the very bark 'gainst which he leant 
A crescent he had carved, and round it spent 
His skill in little stars. The teeming tree 
Had swoll'n and green'd the pious charactery, 
But not ta'en out. Why, there was not a slope 
Up which he had not fear'd the antelope ; 
And not a tree, beneath whose rooty shade 
He had not with his tamed leopards played ; 
Nor could an arrow light, or javelin. 
Fly in the air where his had never been — 
And yet he knew it not. 

treachery ! 
Why does his lady smile, pleasing her eye 
With all his sorrowing? He sees her not. 
But who so stares on him ? His sister sure ! 



ENDYMION. 



Peona of the woods ! — Can she endure ? — 
Impossible — how dearly they embrace ! 
His lady smiles; delight is in her face; 
It is no treachery. 

" Dear brother mine ! 
Endymion, weep not so ! Why shouldst thou pine 
When all great Latmos so exalt will be ? 
Thank the great gods, and look not bitterly; 
And speak not one pale word, and sigh no more. 
Sure I will not believe thou hast such store 
Of grief, to last thee to my kiss again. 
Thou surely canst not bear a mind in pain, 
Come hand in hand with one so beautiful. 
Be happy both of you ! for I will pull 
The flowers of autumn for your coronals. 
Pan's holy priest for young Endymion calls ; 
And when he is restored, thou, fairest dame, 
Shalt be our queen. Now, is it not a shame 
To see ye thus, — not very, very sad ? 
Perhaps ye are too happy to be glad : 
feel as if it were a common day; 
Free-voiced as one who never was away 
No tongue shall ask, whence come ye ? but ye shall 
Be gods of your own rest imperial. 



l54 ENDYMION. 

Not even I, for one whole month, will pry 

Into the hours that have pass'd us by, 

Since in my arbour I did sing to thee. 

O Hermes ! on this very night will be 

A hymning up to Cynthia, queen of light ; 

For the soothsayers old saw yesternight 

Good visions in the air, — whence will befal. 

As say these sages, health perpetual 

To shepherds and their flocks ; and furthermore 

In Dian's face they read the gentle lore: 

Therefore for her these vesper-carols are. 

Our friends will all be there from nigh and far. 

Many upon thy death have ditties made ; 

And many, even now, their foreheads shade 

With cypress, on a day of sacrifice. 

New singing for our maids shalt thou devise, 

And pluck the sorrow from our huntsmen's brows, 

Tell me, my lady-queen, how to espouse 

This wayward brother to his rightful joys ! 

His eyes are on thee bent, as thou didst poise 

His fate most goddess-like. Help me, I pray, 

To lure — Endymion, dear brother, say 

What ails thee ? " He could bear no more, and so 

Bent his soul fiercely like a spiritual bow. 

And twang'd it inwardly, and calmly said : 



ENDYMION. 



I would have thee my only friend, sweet maid ! 
My only visitor! not ignorant though, 
That those deceptions which for pleasure go 
'Mong men, are pleasures real as real may be: 
But there are higher ones I may not see, 
If impiously an earthly realm I take. 
Since I saw thee, I have been wide awake 
Night after night, and day by day, until 
Of the empyrean I have drunk my fill. 
Let it content thee. Sister, seeing me 
More happy than betides mortality. 
A hermit young, I '11 live in mossy cave, 
Where thou alone shalt come to me, and lave 
Thy spirit in the wonders I shall tell. 
Through me the shepherd realm shall prosper well ; 
For to thy tongue will I all health confide. 
And for my sake, let this young maid abide 
With thee as a dear sister. Thou alone, 
Peona, mayst return to me. I own 
This may sound strangely : but when, dearest girl, 
Thou seest it for my happiness, no pearl 
Will trespass down those cheeks. Companion fair ! 
Wilt be content to dwell with her, to share 
This sister s love with me ? " Like one resign'd 
And bent by circumstances, and thereby blind 

2 U 



i66 



ENDYMION. 



In self-commitment, thus, that meek unknown : 

Ay, but a buzzing by my ears has flown. 
Of jubilee to Dian : — truth I heard ! 
Well then, I see there is no little bird. 
Tender soever, but is Jove's own care. 
Long have I sought for rest, and unaware, 
Behold I find it ! so exalted too ! 
So after my own heart ! I knew, I knew 
There was a place untenanted in it ; 
In that same void white Chastity shall sit. 
And monitor me nightly to lone slumber. 
With sanest lips I vow me to the number 
Of Dian's sisterhood ; and kind lady. 
With thy good help, this very night shall see 
My future days to her fane consecrate." 

As feels a dreamer what doth most create 
His own particular fright, so these three felt : 
Or like one who, in after ages, knelt 
To Lucifer or Baal, when he 'd pine 
After a little sleep : or when in mine 
Far under-ground, a sleeper meets his friends 
Who know him not. Each diligently bends 
Towards common thoughts and things for very fear; 
Striving their ghastly malady to cheer. 



ENDYMION. 



By thinking it a thing of yes and no, 
That housewives talk of. But the spirit-blow 
Was struck, and all were dreamers. At the last 
Endymion said : Are not our fates all cast ? 
Why stand we here ? Adieu, ye tender pair ! 
Adieu ! " Whereat those maidens, with wild stare, 
Walk'd dizzily away. Pained and hot 
His eyes went after them, until they got 
Near to a cypress grove, whose deadly maw. 
In one swift moment, would what then he saw 
Engulf for ever. Stay ! " he cried, " ah, stay ! 
Turn, damsels ! hist ! one word I have to say : 
Sweet Indian, I would see thee once again. 
It is a thing I dote on : so I 'd fain, 
Peona, ye should hand in hand repair. 
Into those holy groves that silent are 
Behind great Dian's temple. I '11 be yon, 
At vesper's earliest twinkle — they are gone — 
But once, once, once again — " At this he prest 
His hands against his face, and then did rest 
His head upon a mossy hillock green. 
And so remain'd as he a corpse had been 
All the long day; save when he scantly lifted 
His eyes abroad, to see how shadows shifted 
With the slow move of time, — sluggish and weary 



i68 



ENDYMION. 



Until the poplar tops, in journey dreary, 

Had reach'd the river's brim. Then up he rose, 

And, slowly as that very river flows, 

Walk'd towards the temple-grove with this lament : 

Why such a golden eve ? The breeze is sent 
Careful and soft, that not a leaf may fall 
Before the serene father of them all 
Bows down his summer head below the west. 
Now am I of breath, speech, and speed possest, 
But at the setting I must bid adieu 
To her for the last time. Night will strew 
On the damp grass myriads of lingering leaves. 
And with them shall I die ; nor much it grieves 
To die, when summer dies on the cold sward. 
Why, I have been a butterfly, a lord 
Of flowers, garlands, love-knots, silly posies. 
Groves, meadows, melodies, and arbour-roses; 
My kingdom 's at its death, and just it is 
That I should die with it: so in all this 
We miscal grief, bale, sorrow, heart-break, woe. 
What is there to plain of? By Titan's foe 
I am but rightly served." So saying, he 
Tripp'd lightly on, in sort of deathful glee; 
Laughing at the clear stream and setting sun, 
As though they jests had been : nor had he done 



ENDYMION. 



His laugh at nature's holy countenance, 
Until that grove appeared, as if perchance, 
And then his tongue with sober seemlihed 
Gave utterance as he enter d : " Ha ! " he said, 
" King of the butterflies ; but by this gloom, 
And by old Rhadamanthus' tongue of doom, 
This dusk religion, pomp of solitude. 
And the Promethean clay by thief endued, 
By old Saturnus' forelock, by his head 
Shook with eternal palsy, I did wed 
Myself to things of light from infancy; 
And thus to be cast out, thus lorn to die. 
Is sure enough to make a mortal man 
Grow impious." So he inwardly began 
On things for which no wording can be found : 
Deeper and deeper sinking, until drown'd 
Beyond the reach of music : for the choir 
Of Cynthia he heard not, though rough brier 
Nor muffling thicket interposed to dull 
The vesper hymn, far swollen, soft and full. 
Through the dark pillars of those sylvan aisles. 
He saw not the two maidens, nor their smiles. 
Wan as primroses gathered at midnight 
By chilly-finger'd spring. Unhappy wight! 
Endymion ! " said Peona, " we are here ! 



170 



ENDYMION. 



What wouldst thou ere we all are laid on bier ? " 

Then he embraced her, and his lady's hand 

Press'd, saying : Sister, I would have command. 

If it were heaven's will, on our sad fate." 

At which that dark-eyed stranger stood elate 

And said, in a new voice, but sweet as love. 

To Endymion's amaze : By Cupid's dove, 

And so thou shalt ! and by the lily truth 

Of my own breast thou shalt, beloved youth!" 

And as she spake, into her face there came 

Light, as reflected from a silver flame : 

Her long black hair swell'd ampler, in display 

Full golden ; in her eyes a brighter day 

Dawn'd blue, and full of love. Aye, he beheld 

Phoebe, his passion ! joyous she upheld 

Her lucid bow, continuing thus : Drear, drear 

Has our delaying been; but foolish fear 

Withheld me first ; and then decrees of fate ; 

And then 'twas fit that from this mortal state 

Thou shouldst, my love, by some unlook'd-for change 

Be spiritualised. Peona, we shall range 

These forests, and to thee they safe shall be 

As was thy cradle; hither shalt thou flee 

To meet us many a time." Next Cynthia bright 

Peona kiss'd, and bless'd with fair good night: 



ENDYMION. 



171 



Her brother kiss'd her too, and knelt adown 

Before his goddess, in a bhssful swoon. 

She gave her fair hands to him, and behold, 

Before three swiftest kisses he had told. 

They vanish'd far away! — Peona went 

Home through the gloomy wood in wonderment. 




LONDON : SWIFT AND CO., REGENT PRESS, KING STREET, REGENT STREET, W. 



7 






1 



?R Xeats, John 

^83^ Endymion 

1873 



PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE 
CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET 



UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LIBRARY