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Full text of "Eros & Psyche; a poem in twelve measures"

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Esce di mano a Lul che la vagheggia 
Prima che sia^ a guisa di fanciulla 
Che plangendo e ridendo pargoleggia, 
Uanlma semplicetta che sa nulla, 
Salvo che, mossa da lieto Fattore^ 
Volentier torna a do che la trastulla. 












Tov jttev eyuv u> |e? 




N midmost length of hundred-citied 


The land that cradled Zeus^of old renown; 
Where first Demeter nurseried her wheat, 
And Minos fashioned Law, ere he went down 
To judge the shrinking hordes of Hell's domain ; 
There dwelt a King on the Omphalian plain 
Eastward of Ida, in a little town. 


Three daughters had this King, of whom my tale 
Time hath preserved, that loveth to despise 
The wealth which men misdeem of much avail, 
Their glories for themselves that they devise ; 
For clerkly is he, old hard-featured Time, 
And poets' fabled song, and lovers' rhyme 
He storeth on his shelves to please his eyes. 


2 Eros and Psyche. 


These three princefses all were fairest fair ; 
And of the elder twain 'tis truth to say 
That if they stood not quite above compare, 
Yet in their prime they bore the palm away, 
Outwards of lovelinefs ; but Nature's mood. 
Gracious to make, had grudgingly endued 
And marred by gifting ill the beauteous clay. 


And being in honour they were well content 
To feed on lovers' looks and courtly smiles, 
To hang their necks with jewelled ornament, 
And gold, that vanity in vain beguiles, 
And live in gaze, and take their praise for due, 
To be the peerlefs fairest then to view 
Within the shores of Greece and all her isles. 

But of that youngest one, the third princefs, 

There is no likenefs ; since she was as far 
Removed from beauty as is uglinefs, 

Measure I. 3 

Though on the side where heavenly wonders are. 
Ideals out of being and above, 
Which music worships, but if love should love, 
'Tis, as the poet saith, to love a star. 


Her vision rather drave from pafsion's heart 

What earthly soil it had afore pofsefsed ; 

Since to man's purer unsubstantial part 

The brightnefs of her presence was addrefsed : 

And such as scoffed at God, when once they saw 

Her heavenly glance were shamed and stood in awe, 

And turned to things unseen and praised the Best. 


And so before her, wheresoever she went, 

Stilling the crowd a sacred whisper ran ; 

And voices hushed, heads bowed, and knees were bent, 

And hands upraised ; and thence this tale began, 

That Love's own mother had come down on earth, 

Sweet Cytherea, or a wondrous birth 

Had given an equal Goddefs unto man. 

4 Eros and Psyche. 


Then Aphrodite's statue in its place 
Stood clear of worshippers ; if Cretans prayed 
For beauty or for children, love or grace, 
Their vows and prayers were offered to the maid ; 
Unto the maid their hymns of praise were sung, 
Their victims bled for her, for her were hung 
Their garlands, heaped their gifts, and none forbade. 

And thence opinion spread beyond the shores, 

From isle to isle the wonder flew, it came 
Acrofs the ^Egaean on a thousand oars, 
And furthest lands echoed the virgin's fame ; 
Until throughout all Greece the foamborn queen 
Was scarce adored, or paid with rites so mean 
As rather served the more to seal her shame. 


No longer to high Paphos now 'twas sailed ; 
The fragrant altar by the Graces served 
Was nigh of men forsaken ; pilgrims failed 

Measure I. 5 

The rocky island to her name reserved, 

Proud Ephyra, and Meropis renowned ; 

J Twas all for Crete her votaries were bound 

To swell the allegiance from her rule that swerved. 


Which when in heaven great Aphrodite saw, 
Who is the breather of the year's bright morn, 
Fount of desire and beauty without flaw, 
And doth the life that she creates adorn ; 
Seeing that without her generative might 
Nothing can spring upon the shores of light, 
Nor aught that tastes of joy or love be born ; 


She, when she saw the insult, did not hide 
Her anger, but impatient in her rage 
Pondered what punishment might best override 
The mimic minion of her heritage. 
For still her beauty, though 'twas known the first 
Of beauty was with jealousy accurst ; 
And well she loved revenge, and thus gan chide. 

6 Eros and Psyche. 


fc Not long, I wot, shall that poor girl of Crete 
God it in my despite : I soon will bring 
Such mischief on the sickly counterfeit 
As quite shall cure her tribe of worshipping ; 
For I will smite her in the way which most 
Shall cast to shameful scorn her beauty's boast 
And leave her long alive to feel the sting." 


With that she calls to her her comely boy, 
The limber scion of the God of War, 
The fruit adulterous, which for man's annoy 
To that fierce partner Cytherea bore, 
Eros, the ever young, who only grew 
In mischief, and was Cupid named anew 
In westering aftertime of poets' lore. 

What the first dawn of manhood is, the time 
Of flush and juice, the bursting-ripe content 
Of full growth lusty on the goal of prime, 

Measure I. 7 

That onward ecstasy the gods forwent ; 
Such Eros seemed in years, and is portrayed, 
Trifler for lack of sorrow, joy delayed 
Upon the brink of spending, never spent. 


His skin is brilliant with the ichorous flood 
That swiftly to his veins leaps from his heart, 
Hotter than fire and redder far than blood ; 
From out his eyes small flames in flashes dart. 
His head is thick with curls of golden hair ; 
His tongue as honey, and his face most fair, 
But wantonnefs betrays in every part. 

He goeth naked, but with sprightly wings 

Red iridescent are his shoulders fledged. 

His weapons are a bow he deftly strings, 

And little arrows barbed and keenly edged ; 

And these he shooteth true ; but else the youth 

For all his seeming recketh nought of truth, 

And most deceives where most he standeth pledged. 

8 Eros and Psyche. 


He 'tis that makes of love a bitter strife, 
Using the eager joys of men's desire 
For baits and lures, until their silly life 
Consumed away, of folly they expire. 
For all he promiseth is aye denied ; 
Nor truest tears have ever satisfied 
The cruel boy, nor quenched his kindled fire. 


'Tis he who frights kind sleep from lovers' eyes, 
And prints the early wrinkles on their brows ; 
And in their hearts unnumbered jealousies, 
And all contrary pafsions will arouse. 
And night and day, unseen in every town 
From house to house he flitteth up and down, 
And turns to sport the seal of wifely vows. 


Him then she called, and gravely kifsing told 
The strange dishonour to her godhead done ; 
And how, if he from that in heaven would hold, 

Measure I. 9 

On earth he must maintain it as her son : 
The rather that his weapons were most fit. 
As was his skill most rare to champion it ; 
And flattering thus his ready zeal she won. 


Whereon she quickly led him down on earth, 
And showed him Psyche, thus the maid was named ; 
Whom when she showed, but could not hide her worth, 
She grew with anger tenfold more enflamed. 
"But if" she cried "thou smite her as I bid, 
Our glory soon shall of this stain be rid, 
And she and all her likes for ever shamed. 


" Make her to love the loathliest, basest wretch, 
Deformed in body, and of moonstruck mind, 
A hideous brute and vicious, born to fetch 
Anger from dogs and cursing from the blind. 
And let her pafsion for the monster be 
As shamelefs and detestable as he 
Is most extreme and vile of humankind." 

I o Eros and Psyche. 

Which said, when "he agreed, she spake no more, 

But left him to his task, and took her way 
Beside the ripples of the shell-strewn shore, 
The southward stretching margin of a bay, 
Whose sandy curves she pafsed, and taking stand 
Upon its taper horn of furthest land, 
Looked left and right to rise and set of day. 


Fair was the sight ; for now though full an hour 
The sun had sunk she saw a wondrous light 
In shifting colour to the zenith tower, 
And grow more gorgeous ever and more bright. 
Bathed in the warm and comfortable glow, 
The fair delighted queen forgot her woe, 
And watched the unwonted pageant of the night. 

Broad and low down, where last the sun had been, 

A wealth of orange gold was thickly shed, 
And touching that a curtain pale of green, 

Measure I. 1 1 

Like apples are before their rinds grow red : 
Then to the height the variable hue 
Of rose and pink and crimson freaked with blue, 
And olive-bordered clouds o'er lilac led. 


High in the opposed west the wondering moon 
All silvery green in flying green was fleeced ; 
And round the blazing South the splendour soon 
Caught all the heaven, and ran to North and East ; 
And Aphrodite knew this thing was wrought 
By great Poseidon, and she took the thought 
She would go see with whom he kept his feast. 


Swift to her wish came swimming on the waves 
His lovely ocean nymphs, her guides to be, 
The Nereids all, who live among the caves 
And valleys of the deep, Cymodoce, 
Agave, blue-eyed Hallia and Nesasa 
Speio, and Thoe, Glauce and Aclaea, 
laira, Melite and Amphinome, 

1 2 Eros and Psyche. 


Apseudes and Nemertes, Callianafsa, 
Cymothoe, Thaleia, Limnorrhaea, 
Clymene, laneira and lanafsa, 
Doris and Panope and Galatasa, 
Dynamene, Dexamene and Maira, 
Ferusa, Doto, Proto, Callianeira, 
Amphithoe, Oreithuia and Amathasa. 


And after them sad Melicertes drave 
His chariot, that with swift unfellied wheel, 
By his two dolphins drawn along the wave, 
Flew as they plunged, yet did not dip nor reel, 
But like a plough that sheers the heavy land 
Stood on the flood, and back on either hand 
Overturned the briny furrow with its keel. 

Behind came Tritons, that their conches blew, 

Greenbearded, tailed like fish, all sleek and stark ; 
And hippocampi tamed, a bristly crew, 

Measure I. 13 

The browzers of old Proteus* weedy park ; 
And certain Tritons brought a shell for boat, 
And setting void its hollow fan afloat, 
Pushed it to shore and bade the queen embark : 

And then the goddefs stepped upon the shell 
Which took her weight ; and others drew a train 
Of soft silk over her, which soon gan swell 
In sails, at breath of flying zephyrs twain ; 
And all her way with foam in laughter strewn, 
With stir of music and of conches blown, 
Was Aphrodite launched upon the main. 



UT in the house of Psyche there was woe, 
Such as displeasure of the Gods will 

When they spy cause for jealousy, although 
Man's foolish heart be witlefs of the thing. 
For Psyche's cheer fell, swifter than decline 
Of lovelorn maids, when out of cure they pine ; 
And melancholy fastened on the King. 


Already in good time her sisters both, 

Whose honest charms were never framed as hers, 

Had unto royal lovers plighted troth, 

Measure II. 1 5 

The noblest of a crowd of courtiers ; 
But she, the more that she was praised above 
Them whom men loved, lacked yet the more their love, 
And gained but number to her worshippers. 


To see her sisters' joy had been her lot, 

And now that they were gone her heart would brood 

Upon the blifs her greater grace o'ershot, 

Prisoned at home in peerlefs solitude. 

Nay, if her beauty could have been the price 

Of some plain peasant's love, such sacrifice 

She not had shunned, nor scorned the boon so rude. 


" For what is beauty if it doth not fire 
The loving answer of man's eager soul ? 
Since 'tis the native food of fond desire, 
Which doth for good our various world control, 
And if it failed, life hath no other source, 
No perpetuity, no stir, no force, 
No bettering rivalry, nor aim, nor goal. 

1 6 Eros and Psyche. 

c< And though there yet be things, whose matchlefs 


And heavenly function writ above our sense, 
Lie waste and disregarded on the earth 
By reason of our grofs intelligence ; 
These things man calls not beauteous now, although 
It live in nature's scheme that he should grow 
In time to gather satisfaction thence. 


" But to be praised for beauty and denied 
The meed of beauty, this was yet unknown : 
Since men were men, the best have ever vied 
To win the fairest women for their own ; 
And though their coveting hath oft reversed 
The hope of nature's dower, I yet am first 
Whom beauty hath procured to live alone." 


Thus would she reason, to soft tears and sighs 
Then falling, while she moaned her joylefs state ; 
Whom when her sire, in such distracted guise 

Measure II. 17 

Saw, nor himself was inscient of fate, 
Then of his sorrow he the Gods accused, 
And sought if remedy might yet be used 
To avert their anger or propitiate. 


For round his palace like ill-omened birds 
He might see gathered soothsayers and seers, 
Whose omens, auguries, and riddling words, 
Reached in unwelcome whisper to his ears, 
With portents happed, and prodigies that shewed 
Strange fates, and aye some heaven-sent ill to bode 
Unto his house ; whereat grew fixed his fears. 


So forth himself he set, and journeying went 

To great Apollo's shrine, the Pythian ; 

Where when the god he questioned if 'twas meant 

That Psyche should be wed, and to what man, 

The tripod shook, and o'er the vaporous well 

The chaunting Pythonefs gave oracle, 

And thus in measured verse the sentence ran : 

1 8 Eros and Psyche. 


High on the topmost rocks with funeral feast 
Convey and leave the maid nor look to find 
A mortal husband, but a savage beast, 
The viperous scourge of gods and humankind; 
Who shames and vexes all, and as he flies 
With sword and fire Zeus trembles in the skies. 
And groans arise from souls to hell consigned. 


Which words at heart, in travel slow and sad 

The King returned ; nor yet could understand 

The bitter bidding he for answer had, 

Nor yet make question of the plain command. 

And all his mournful council day by day 

Sat unresolved, fearing to disobey, 

And still in fear to take the woe in hand. 


Some said that she to Talos was devote, 
The metal giant, who with mile-long stride 
Covered the isle, walking around by rote 

Measure II. 1 9 

Thrice every day at his appointed tide ; 
Who shepherded the sea-goats on the coast, 
And as he pafsed caught up, and live would roast, 
Prefsing them 'gainst his burning ribs and side : 

Whose head was made of fine gold beaten work, 
Of silver pure his arms and gleaming chest, 
Thence of green-bloomed bronze far as the fork, 
Of iron weather-rusted all the rest. 
One single vein he had, which pafsing down 
From head to foot was open in his crown, 
And closed by a nail ; such was this pest. 


But when no longer fate might be delayed, 
And solemnly her sire began ordain 
The pomp of death for bridal of the maid, 
The torches, garlands and funereal wain, 
With which must Psyche go by fate compelled 
To meet that demon spouse, and she beheld 
The fearful ceremony put in train, 

2O Eros and Psyche. 


Then spake she to the King and said " O Sire, 

Why wilt thou veil those venerable eyes 
With piteous tears, which must of me require 
More tears again than for myself arise ? 
Then, on the day my beauty first o'erstepped 
Its mortal place it had been well to have wept ; 
But now the fault beyond our ruing lies. 


u That was my crime ; the sentence is decreed, 

And wherefore should we shrink from the award, 

Or shun this bridegroom of immortal breed, 

If none escape him with his fire and sword ? 

Rather, if I be willing, it may be 

He will be generous ; as 'tis sure that he 

In being my only lover, is my lord. 

" As to be worshipped was my whole undoing, 

So my submifsion must the forfeit pay : 

And welcome were the morning of my wooing, 

Measure II. 21 

Tho' after it should dawn no other day. 
Up to the mountains ! for I heard the voice 
Of my deliverance on the winds, Rejoice, 
Rejoice, arise, my Psyche, and come away I " 


With such distempered speech, which little cheered 
Her mourning house, she went to choose with care 
The raiment for her day of wedlock weird 
Her body as for burial to prepare ; 
Nor spared her sire in pious hope to make 
The sacrifice, if yet for pity's sake 
Or Zeus or Hera might attend his prayer. 


After whose marriage, as the perfe6b rite, 
Were Cretans wedded : and from out the stream 
Where Hera bathed Tethrys or Theron hight 
Upon the evening of her fate supreme, 
Thence fetched they water for the bride, and more 
In funeral urns stood by her father's door," 
Joining with nuptial rites the rites extreme. 

22 Eros and Psyche. 


They set on high upon the bridal wain 

Her bed for bier, and yet no corpse thereon ; 

But like as when unto a warrior slain 

And not brought home the ceremonies done 

Are empty, for afar his body brave 

Lies lost, deep buried by the wandering wave, 

Or neath the foes his fury fell upon, 


So was her hearse : and with it went afore, 
Singing the solemn dirge that moves to tears, 
The singers ; and behind, clad as for war, 
The nobles of the isle, princes and peers, 
All neath their armour robed in linen white ; 
And in their left were shields, and in their right 
Torches they bore aloft instead of spears. 


With them the father, his grey head bent low, 
Followed uncrowned, like one condemned to die, 
That braves at heart his being's overthrow, 

Measure If. 23 

While slavishly his feet thereto comply, 
And willing seem for only lack of will : 
But life, with all he loved and loveth still, 
Melts as a dream doth on an open eye. 

And next the virgin tribe in white forth sailed, 
With flowery wreaths in hand ; and midst of those 
Went Psyche, all in lily-whitenefs veiled, 
With chaplet of the white Cydonian rose. 
And last the common folk, a weeping crowd, 
Far as the city gates with wailings loud 
Followed, and filled the sad procefsion's close. 


Thus forth and up the mount they went, until 
The funeral chariot must be left behind, 
Since road was none for steepnefs of the hill ; 
And slowly by the narrow path they wind : 
All afternoon their white and scattered file 
Toiled on distinct, ascending many a mile 
Over the long brown slopes and crags unkind. 

24 Eros and Psyche. 

But ere unto the snowy peak they came 

Of that stormshapen pyramid so high, 

'Twas evening, and with footsteps slow and lame 

They gathered up their lagging company : 

And then her sire, even as Apollo bade, 

Set on the topmost rock the haplefs maid, 

With trembling hands and melancholy cry. 


There left they her, turning with sad farewells 
To haste their homeward course, as best they might : 
But night was crowding up the barren fells, 
And hid full soon their rocky path from sight ; 
And each unto his stumbling foot to hold 
His torch was fain, for o'er the moon was rolled 
A mighty cloud from heaven, to blot her light. 


And through the darknefs for long while was seen 
That armoured train with waving fires to thread 
Downwards, by pafs, defile, and black ravine, 

Measure II. 25 

Each leading on the way that he was led. 
Slowly they gained the plain, and one by one 
Into the shadows of the woods were gone, 
Or in the clinging mists were quenched and fled. 


But unto Psyche, pondering o'er her doom 
In tearful silence on her stony chair, 
A zephyr straying out of heaven's wide room 
Rushed down, and gathering round her unaware 
Seized her deep-bosomed vesture fast in hold 
And, like a ship, when its white sails unfold, 
Wafted her forth upon the tranquil air. 


Swiftly he sped her off, with swimming brain 
And airy joy, along the mountain side, 
Till, hid from earth by ridging summits twain, 
They came upon a valley deep and wide : 
Where the strong Zephyr with his burden sank, 
And laid her down upon a grafsy bank, 
Mong thyme and violets and daisies pied. 

26 Eros and Psyche. 


And straight upon the touch of that sweet bed 
Both woe and wonder melted fast away : 
And sleep with gentle strefs her sense overspread, 
Gathering as darknefs doth on drooping day. 
And nestling to the ground, she slowly drew 
Her wearied limbs together, and, ere she knew, 
Wrapt in forgetfulnefs and slumber lay. 


FTER longs leep when Psyche first 


A smile delayed the opening of her eyes, 
Fed from the comfort of her spirit, that spoke 
Delighted invitation to arise. 
But soon the encompafsment of sights so strange 
Rebuffed her mood, nor could she piece the change, 
But lay awhile embarrafsed with surprise. 


Anon her quickening thought took up its task, 
And all came back as it had happed o'ernight ; 
The sad procefsion of the wedding mask, 
The melancholy toiling up the height, 
The solitary rocks where she was left ; 
And thence in dark and airy waftage reft, 
How on the flowers she had been disburdened light. 

28 Eros and Psyche. 


Thereafter she would rise and see what place 
That voyage had its haven in, and found 
She stood upon a little hill, whose base 
Shelved off into the valley all around ; 
And all round that the steep cliffs rose away, 
Save on one side where to the break of day 
The widening dale withdrew in falling ground. 


There, out from over sea, and scarce so high 
As she, the sun above his watery blaze 
Upbroke the grey dome of the morning sky, 
And struck the island with his level rays ; 
Sifting his gold thro' lazy mists, that still 
Climbed on the shadowy roots of every hill, 
And in the tree-tops breathed their silvery haze. 

At hand on either side there was a wood ; 

And on the upward lawn, that sloped between, 
Not many paces back a temple stood, 

Measure III. 29 

By even steps ascending from the green ; 
With shafts and pediments of marble made, 
It filled the pafsage of the rising glade, 
And there withstayed the sun in dazzling sheen. 


Too fair for human art, so Psyche thought, 
It might the fancy of some god rejoice ; 
Like to those halls which lame Hephaestos wrought, 
Original, for each god to his choice, 
In high Olympus ; where his matchlefs lyre 
Apollo wakes, and the responsive choir 
Of Muses sing alternate with sweet voice. 


Wondering she drew anigh, and in a while 
Went up the steps as she would entrance win, 
And faced her shadow 'neath the peristyle 
Upon the golden gate, whose flanges twin 
As there she stood, irresolute at heart 
To try swung to her of themselves apart ; 
Whereat she pafsed between and stood within. 

30 Eros and Psyche. 


A foursquare court it was with marble floored, 
Enclosed about with pillared porticoes. 
That echoed in a somnolent accord 
The music of a fountain, which arose 
Sparkling in air, and splashing in its tank ; 
Whose note of pleasure, as it swelled or sank, 
Gave idle voice to silence and repose. 

Thro* doors beneath the further colonnade, 

Panelled with pictured bronze and burnished gold, 
The riches of the chambers were displayed : 
And, standing in the court, she might behold 
Cedar, and silk, and silver ; and that all 
The pargeting of ceiling and of wall 
Was frescoed o'er with figures manifold. 


Then making bold to go within, she heard 
A gentle speech of welcome in her ear ; 
And seeing none that could have spoken word, 

Measure III. 31 

She waited : when again Lady, draw near ; 
Enter ! was cried ; and now more voices came 
From all the air around calling her name. 
And bidding her rejoice and have no fear. 


And one, if she would rest, would show her bed, 
Made fresh for sleep with fragrant linen fine ; 
One, were she hungry, had a table spread 
Like as the high gods have it when they dine : 
Or, would she bathe, were those would heat the bath ; 
The joyous cries contending in her path, 
Psyche they said, What wilt thou ? all is thine. 


Then Psyche would have thanked their service true, 
But that she feared her echoing words might scare 
Those sightlefs tongues; and well by dream she knew 
The voices of the mefsengers of prayer, 
Which fly upon the gods' commandment, when 
They answer the supreme desires of men, 
Or for a while in pity hush their care. 

32 Eros and Psyche. 

'Twas fancy's consummation, and because 

She would do joy no curious despite, 

She made not question how the wonder was ; 

Only concerned to take her full delight. 

So to the bath, finding the best excuse 

For eyelefs ministry in such a use, 

She followed with the voice she heard invite. 


There being deliciously refreshed, from soil 
Of earth made pure by water, fire, and air, 
They clad her in soft robes of Asian toil, 
Scented, that in her queenly wardrobe were ; 
And led her forth to dine, and all around 
Sang as they served, the while the choral sound 
Of strings unseen and reeds the burden bare. 

Pathetic strains and pafsionate they wove, 
Urgent in ecstasies of heavenly sense ; 
Responsive rivalries, that, while they strove, 

Measure III. 3 3 

Combined in full harmonious suspense, 
Entrancing wild desire, then fell at last 
Lulled in soft closes, and with gay contrast 
Launched forth their fresh unwearied excellence. 


Now Psyche, when her twofold feast was o'er, 
Would feed her eye ; and choosing for her guide 
A low- voiced singer, bade her come explore 
The wondrous house ; until on every side 
As surfeited with beauty, and seeing nought 
But what was rich and fair beyond her thought, 
And all her own, thus to the voice she cried : 

" Am I indeed a goddefs, or is this 

But to be dead ; and through the gates of death 

Pafsing unwittingly doth man not mifs 

Body nor memory nor living breath ; 

Nor by demerits of his deeds is cast, 

But, paid with the desire he holdeth fast, 

Is holp with all his heart imagineth ? " 

34 Eros and Psyche. 


But her for all reply the wandering tongue 
Called to the chamber where her bed was laid, 
With broidered coverlets, and curtains hung : 
And round the walls were everywhere displayed, 
Between the gold pilasters laurel-crowned, 
Each in its place, Love's vi&ories renowned 
Over the Gods, with wondrous art portrayed. 

Here Zeus, in likenefs of a tawny bull, 
Stooped on the Cretan shore his mighty knee, 
While off his back Europa beautiful 
Stepped pale against the blue Carpathian sea. 
And here Apollo, as he caught amazed 
Daphne, for lo ! her hands shot forth upraised 
With leaves, her feet were rooted like a tree. 


Here Dionysos, springing from his car 
At sight of Ariadne ; here upleapt 
Adonis to the chase, breaking the bar 

Measure III. 35 

Of Aphrodite's arm for love who wept : 

He spear in hand with leashed dogs at strain ; 

A marvellous work. But Psyche soon grown fain 

Of rest, betook her to her bed and slept. 


Nor long had slept, when at a sudden stir 
She woke; and one, that through the dark made way, 
Was through the chamber door, and over her 
The curtains rustled round her where she lay. 
Then Psyche feared and trembled above need, 
For 'twas her husband, by the fates decreed, 
Who called her now by name, and kifsed in play. 


His face and figure though she could not see, 
She wished not then nor asked what night denied : 
He was the lover she had lacked, and she, 
Loving his loving, was his willing bride. 
O'erjoyed she slept again ; but when anon 
She woke at break of morning, he was gone ; 
Only his empty place lay by her side. 

36 Eros and Psyche. 

So all that day she spent in company 

Of those soft voices ; and Of right y they said, 
Art thou our Lady now. Be happily 
^hy bridal morrow by thy servants sped. 
But she but longed for night, again to taste 
Her lover's lips ; and he in self-same haste 
Came with the dark, and in the darknefs fled. 


And thus the time went by ; for every night 
He came, and though his name she never learned, 
Nor was his image yielded to her sight 
At morn or eve, she neither looked nor yearned 
Beyond the joy she had : and custom brought 
An ease to pleasure ; nor would Psyche's thought 
Have ever to her earthly home returned, 

But that one night he said " Psyche, my soul, 

Sad danger threatens us : thy sisters twain 
Come to the mountain top, whence I thee stole, 

Measure III. 37 

And thou wilt hear their voices thence complain. 
Answer them not : for know 'twill end our love 
If they should hear or spy thee from above.'' 
And Psyche said " Their cry shall be in vain." 


But being again alone, she thought 'twas hard 
On her own blood ; and blamed her joy as thief 
Of theirs, her comfort which their comfort barred; 
When she their care should be their care's relief. 
All day she brooded on her father's woe, 
And when at night her lover kifsed her, lo ! 
Her tender face was wet with tears of grief. 


Then questioned why she wept, she all confefsed ; 
And begged of him she might but once go nigh 
To set her sire's and sisters' fears at rest. 
Till he for pity could not but comply : 
" Only if they should ask thee of thy love 
Discover nothing to their ears above." 
And Psyche said u In vain shall be their cry." 

38 Eros and Psyche. 


And yet next day no sooner was alone, 
Than she for lonelinefs her promise rued : 
That having so much pleasure for her own, 
'Twas all unshared and spent in solitude. 
And when at night her love flew to his place, 
More than afore she shamed his fond embrace, 
And piteously with tears her plaint renewed. 


The more he now denied, the more she wept ; 
Nor would in anywise be comforted, 
Unlefs her sisters, on the Zephyr swept, 
Should in those halls be one day bathed and fed, 
And see themselves the palace where she reigned. 
And he by force of tears at last constrained, 
Granted her wish unwillingly, and said : 


f c Much to our peril hast thou won thy will ; 
Thy sisters' love, seeing thee honoured so, 
Will sour to envy, and with jealous skill 

Measure III. 39 

Will pry to learn the thing thou must not know. 
Answer not, nor enquire ; for know that I 
The day thou seest my face far hence shall fly, 
And thou anew to bitterest fate must go." 

But Psyche said " Thy love is more than life, 
Having thee thus leaves nothing to be won : 
For should the noonday prove me to be wife 
Even of the beauteous Eros, who is son 
Of Cypris, I could never love thee more." 
Whereat he fondly kifsed her o'er and o'er, 
And peace was 'twixt them till the night was done. 



ND truly need there was to that old King 
For consolation : since the mournful day 
Of Psyche's fate he took no comforting ; 
But while for speedy death he still would pray 
He hasted to his end ; his hair grew white, 
His body withered, and with sorrow's blight 
His sense decayed, and so he pined away. 

Which when his daughters learnt, they both were 
Comfort and solace to their sire to lend. [quick 
But as not seldom they who nurse the sick 

Measure IV. 41 

Will take the malady from them they tend, 
So happed it now ; for they who failed to cheer 
Grew sad themselves, and in that palace drear 
Confirmed the misery they came to mend. 


And them their sire then bade that place go seek 
Where Psyche had been left, if they might find 
What monster held her on the savage peak, 
Or if she there had died of hunger pined ; 
And, by wild eagles stripped, her scattered bones 
Might still be gathered from the barren stones, 
Or if her fate had left no trace behind. 


So just upon this time her sisters both 
Climbed on the cliff that hung o'er Psyche's vale ; 
And finding there no sign, to leave were loth 
Ere well afsured she lurked not within hail. 
So calling loud her name " Psyche ! " they cried, 
" Psyche, O Psyche!" and when none replied 
They sank upon the rocks to weep and wail. 

42 Eros and Psyche. 

But Psyche heard their voices where she sat, 

And summoning the Zephyr bade him fleet 
Those mourners down unto the grafsy plat 
Midst of her garden, where she had her seat. 
Then from the dizzy steep the wondering pair 
Came swiftly sinking on his buoyant air, 
And stood upon the terrace at her feet. 


Upsprang she then, and kifsed them and embraced, 
And said cc Lo, here am I, I whom ye mourn. 
I am not dead, nor tortured, nor disgraced, 
But blest above all days since I was born. 
Here is my home. Enter, that ye may see 
How little cause has been to grieve for me, 
And my desertion on the rocks forlorn." 


So entering by the golden gate, or e'er 
The marvel of their hither flight had waned, 
Fresh wonder took them now, for everywhere 

Measure IV. 43 

Their eyes that lit on beauty were enchained ; 
And Psyche's airy service, as she bade, 
Performed its magic office, and displayed 
The riches of the palace where she reigned. 


And through the perfumed chambers they were led, 
And bathed therein ; and after, set to sup, 
Were upon dreamlike delicacies fed, 
And wine more precious than its golden cup. 
Till seeing nothing lacked, and nought was theirs, 
Their happinefs fell from them unawares, 
And bitter envy in their hearts sprang up. 


And last, one said u Psyche, since not alone 

Thou livest here in joy, as well we wot, 

Who is the man who should these wonders own, 

Or god, I say, and still appeareth not ? 

What is his name ? What rank and guise hath he, 

Whom winds and spirits serve, who honoureth thee 

Above all others in thy blifsful lot ?" 

44 Eros and Psyche. 


But Psyche when that wistful speech she heard 
Was ware of all her spouse had warned her of : 
And uttering a disingenuous word, 
Said " A youth yet unbearded is my love. 
He goeth hunting on the plains to-day, 
And with his dogs hath wandered far away ; 
And not till eve can he return above." 


Then fearing to be nearer plied, she rose 

And brought her richest jewels one by one, 

Bidding them choose and take whate'er they chose ; 

And beckoning the Zephyr spake anon 

That he should waft her sisters to the peak ; 

The which he did, and, ere they more could speak, 

They rose on high, and in the wind were gone. 


Nor till again they came upon the road, 

Which from the mountain shoulder o'er the plain 

Led to the city of their sire's abode, 

Measure IV. 45 

Found they their tongues, though full of high disdain 
Their hearts were, but kept silence, till the strength 
Of pride and envious hatred burst at length 
In speech, and thus the elder gan complain : 

" Cruel and unjust fortune ! that of three 
Sisters, whose being from one fountain welled 
Exalts the last so high from her degree, 
And leaves the first to be so far excelled. 
My husband is a poor and niggard churl 
To him, whoe'er he be, that loves the girl. 
Oh ! in what godlike state her house is held!" 


" Ay," said the other, " to a gouty loon 
Am I not wedded ? See thy hurt is mine. 
But never call me woman more, if soon 
I cannot lure her from her height divine. 
Nay, she shall need her cunning wit to save 
The wealth of which so grudgingly she gave ; 
Wherefore thy hand and heart with me combine. 

46 Eros and Psyche. 

f< She but received us out of pride, to show 
Her state, well deeming that her happinefs 
Was little worth while there was none to know ; 
So is our lot uninjured if none guefs. 
Reveal we nothing therefore, but the while 
Together scheme this wanton to beguile, 
And bring her boasting godhead to distrefs." 


So fresh disordering their drefs and hair, 
With loud lament they to their sire return, 
Telling they found not Psyche anywhere, 
And of her sure mischance could nothing learn. 
Whereat he sank apace ; but they had shent 
Their piety, and straightway home they went, 
Nor longer let his grief their hearts concern. 

Meanwhile her unknown lover did not cease 
To warn poor Psyche how her sisters planned 
To undermine her love and joy and peace : 

Measure IV. 47 

And urged how well she might their wiles withstand, 

By keeping them from her delight aloof: 

For better is security than proof, 

And malice held afar than near at hand. 


" And, dearest wife " he said, " since 'tis not long 
Ere one will come to share thy secresy, 
And be thy babe and mine ; let nothing wrong 
The happy months of thy maternity. 
If thou keep trust, then shalt thou see thy child 
A god ; but if to pry thou be beguiled, 
The lot of both is death and misery." 


Then Psyche's simple heart was filled with joy, 
And counting up the months and hours and days, 
Looked for the time, when she should bear a boy 
To be her growing stay and godlike praise. 
And cc O be sure " she said, " be sure, my pride 
Having so rich a promise cannot slide, 
Even though my love could fail which thee obeys." 

48 Eros and Psyche. 


And so most happily her life went by, 
In thoughts of love dear to her new estate ; 
Until at length the evil day drew nigh, 
When now her sisters, joined in jealous hate, 
Together were set forth upon their way, 
Plotting how best to make her speech betray 
Her secret, and how lure her by what bait. 


That night her husband spake to her, and said 
" Psyche, thy sisters come : and when they climb 
The peak they will not tarry to be sped 
Down by the Zephyr, as that other time, 
But fond in confidence will cast themselves 
Into the air, and on the rocky shelves 
Be dashed, and pay the penalty of crime. 


" So let it be, and so shall we be saved/' 
Which meditated vengeance of his fear 
When Psyche heard, now for their life she craved, 

Measure IF. 49 

Whose mere distrefs erewhile had touched her near. 
Around her lover's neck her arms she threw, 
And pleaded for them by her faith so true. 
Although they went on doom in judgment clear. 


In terror of bloodguiltinefs she now 
Forgot all other danger, she adjured, 
Or using playfulnefs deep sobs would plow 
Her soft entreaties, not to be endured ; 
Till he at last was fain once more to grant 
The service of. the Zephyr to enchant 
That wicked couple from their fate afsured. 


So ere 'twas noon were noises at the door 
Of knocking loud and voices high in glee ; 
Such as within that vale never before 
Had been, and now seemed most unmeet to be. 
And Pysche blushed, though being alone, and rose 
To meet her sisters and herself unclose 
The gate that made them of her palace free. 

50 Eros and Psyche. 


Fondly she kifsed them, and with kindly cheer 
Sought to amuse; and they with outward smile 
O'ermasked their hate, and called her sweet and dear, 
Finding affection easy to beguile: 
And all was smooth, until at last one said 
" Tell us, I pray, to whom 'tis thou art wed ; 
Mong gods or men, what is his rank and style? 


" Thou^ canst not think to hide the truth from us, 
Who knew thy peevish sorrows when a maid, 
And see thee now so glad and rapturous, 
As changed from what thou wert as light from shade ; 
Thy jewels too, the palace of a king, 
Nor least the serviceable spiriting, 
By all these things thy secret is betrayed : 


cc And yet thou talkest of thy wondrous man 
No more than if his face thou didst not know/' 
At which incontinently she began, 

Measure IV. 5 1 

Forgetful of her words a month ago, 
Answering u A merchant rich, of middle age, 
My husband is ; and o'er his features sage 
His temples are already touched with snow. 


"But 'gainst his wish since hither ye were brought 
'Twere best depart." Then her accustomed spell 
Sped them upon the summit quick as thought ; 
And being alone her doing pleased her well : 
So was she vexed to find her love at night 
More sad than ever, of her sisters' spite 
Speaking as one that could the end foretell. 


" To-morrow " said he <c will they spy again, 
Let them be dashed upon the rocks and die ; 
'Tis they must come to death or thou to pain, 
To separation, Psyche, thou and I ; 
Nay, and our babe to ill. I therefore crave 
Thou wilt not even once more these vipers save, 
Nor to thy love his only boon deny." 

52 'Eros and Psyche. 


But Psyche would not think her sisters' crime 
So grofs and strange, nor could her danger see ; 
Since 'twere so easy if at any time 
They showed the venom of their hearts, that she 
Should fan them off upon the willing gust. 
So she refused, and claiming truer trust 
Would in no wise unto their death agree. 



HAT think you, sister:" thus one en- 
vious fiend 
To other spake upon their homeward 


" What think you of the knowledge we have gleaned 
Of this mysterious lover, who can shoot 
In thirty days from beardlefs youth to prime, 
With wisdom in his face before his time, 
And snowy locks upon his head to boot ? " 


" Ay," said the other, " true, she lied not well ; 
And thence I gather knows no more than we : 
For surely 'tis a spirit insensible 
To whom she is wedded, one she cannot see. 
'Tis that I fear ; for if 'tis so, her child 
Will be a god, and she a goddefs styled, 
Which, though I die to let it, shall not be. 

54 Eros and Psyche. 


" Lament we thus no longer. Come, consult 
What may be done." And home they came at night, 
Yet not to rest, but of their plots occult 
Sat whispering on their beds ; and ere 'twas light 
Resolved, but could not so the deed defer, 
But roused the house ere dawn with sudden stir 
And sallied forth in haste to work their spite. 


And with the day were climbed upon the peak, 
And swam down on the Zephyr as before ; 
But now with piercing cry and doleful shriek 
They force their entrance through the golden door, 
Feigning the urgency of bitter truth ; 
Such as deforms a friendly face with ruth, 
When kindnefs may not hide ill tidings more. 


Then Psyche when she heard their wailful din, 
And saw their countenances wan and worn 
With travel, vigil, and disfiguring sin, 

Measure V. 55 

Their hair dishevelled and their habits torn, 
For trembling scarce could ask what ill had happed ; 
And they alert with joy to see her trapped, 
Launched forth amain, and on their drift were borne. 


<( O Psyche, happiest certainly and blest 

Up to this hour " they said cc thou surely wert, 

Being of thy fearful peril unpofsefsed, 

Which now we would not tell but to avert. 

But we for firm and solemn truth have found 

Thy spouse to be a dragon wide-renowned, 

Who holds thee here to work thy shame and hurt. 

cc As yesternight we rode upon the wind 

He ifsued to pursue us from the wood ; 

We saw his back, that through the tree-tops finned, 

His fiery eyes glared from their wrinkled hood. 

Lo, now betimes the oracle, which said 

How to the savage beast thou should'st be wed, 

Is plainly for thy safety understood. 

56 Eros and Psyche. 


" Long time hath he been known to all that dwell 
Upon the plain ; but now his secret lair 
Have we discovered, which none else could tell : 
Though many women fallen in his snare 
Hath he enchanted ; who, tradition saith, 
Taste love awhile, ere to their cruel death 
They pafs in turn upon the summits bare. 

" Fly with us while thou mayst : no more delay; 

Renounce the spells of this accursed vale. 
We come to save thee, but we dare not stay ; 
Among these sightlefs spirits our senses quail. 
Fly with us, fly ! " Then Psyche, for her soul 
Was soft and simple, lost her self control, 
And, thinking only of the horrid tale, 


" Dear Sisters" said she, and her sobbing speech 
Was broken by her terror, " it is true 
That much hath happed to stablish what ye teach; 

Measure V. 57 

For ne'er hath it been granted me to view 
My husband ; and, for aught I know, he may- 
Be even that cruel dragon, which ye say 
Sprang on you from the forest to pursue. 

1 1. 

" 'Tis sure that scarcely can I win his grace 
To see you here ; and still he mischief vows 
If ever I should ask to see his face, 
Which, coming in the dark, he ne'er allows. 
Therefore, if ye can help, of pity show, 
Since doubt I must, how I may come to know 
What kind of spirit it is that is my spouse." 


Then to her cue the younger was afore : 
" Hide thou a razor " cried she " near thy bed ; 
And have a lamp prepared, but whelm thereo'er 
Some cover, that no light be from it shed. 
And when securely in first sleep he lies, 
Look on him well, and ere he can arise, 
Gashing his throat, cut off his hideous head." 

58 Eros and Psyche. 

Which both persuading, off they flew content, 

Divining that the thing she was forbid 
Was by her lover for her safety meant, 
Which only could be sure while he was hid. 
But Psyche, to that miserable deed 
Being now already in her mind agreed, 
Wandered alone, and knew not what she did. 


Now she would trust her lover, now in turn 
Made question of his bidding as unjust; 
Nor could it do him injury to learn 
That he was not that monster of disgust 
Whose horrid cruelty her heart had scared. 
But fear at length o'ercame ; and she prepared 
The mean contrivance of her blind mistrust. 


She set the lamp beneath a chair, and cloked 
Thickly its rebel lustre from the eye : 
And laid the knife, to mortal keennefs stroked, 

Measure V. 59 

Within her reach, near where she wont to lie: 
And took her place full early ; but her heart 
Beat fast, and stayed her breath with sudden start, 
Feeling her lover's arm laid fond thereby. 


But when at last he slept, then she arose, 

All faint and tremulous : and though it be 

That wrong to such sheer innocence hath shews 

Of novelty, its guilt from shame to free, 

Yet 'twas for shame her hand so strangely shook 

That held the steel, and from the cloke that took 

The lamp, and raised it o'er the bed to see. 

She had some fear she might not well discern 
By that small flame a monster in the gloom, 
When lo ! the air about her seemed to burn, 
And bright celestial radiance filled the room. 
Too plainly O she saw, O fair to see ! 
Eros, 'twas Eros' self, her lover, he 
The God of love, revealed in deathlefs bloom. 

60 Eros and Psyche. 


Her fainting strength forsook her ; on her knees 
Down by the bed she sank ; the shamelefs knife 
Fell flashing, and her heart took thought to seize 
Its desperate haft, and end her wicked life. 
Yet not could she her amorous eyes withdraw 
From off her lover, now whom first she saw 
Only to know she was no more his wife. 


O treasure of all treasures, late her own ! 
O lofs above all lofses, lost for aye ! 
Since there was no repentance could atone 
For her dishonour, nor her fate withstay. 
But yet 'twas joy to have her love in sight ; 
And, yielding to the rapture while she might, 
She gazed upon his body where he lay. 


Above all mortal beauty, as was hers, 
She saw a rival ; but if pafsion's heart 
Be rightly read by subtle questioners, 

Measure V. 61 

It owns a wanton and a gentler part. 
And Psyche smiled, noting each outward sign 
By which the immortal God, her spouse divine, 
Confefsed the type which blinds our earthlier art ; 


His thickly curling hair, his ruddy cheeks, 
And pouting lips, his soft and dimpled chin, 
The full and cushioned eye, that ever speaks 
Of self-content and thoughtlefsnefs within, 
The forward, froward ear, and smooth to touch 
His body sleek, but rounded overmuch 
For dignity of mind and pride akin. 


She noted that the small irradiant wings, 
That down his shoulders lay spread out at rest, 
Were yet disturbed with gentle quiverings, 
As if some wakeful spirit his blood pofsest, 
She feared he was awaking, but they kept 
Their sweet commotion still, and still he slept, 
And still she gazed with never-tiring zest. 

62 Eros and Psyche. 


And now the colour of her pride and joy 
Outflushed the hue of Eros ; she, so cold, 
To have fired the pafsion of the heartlefs boy, 
Whom none in heaven or earth were found to hold ! 
Psyche, the earthborn, to be prized above 
The heavenly Graces by the God of love, 
And worshipped by his wantonnefs untold ! 


Nay, for that very thing she loved him more, 
More than herself her sweet self's complement: 
Until the sight of him again upbore 
Her courage, and renewed her vigour spent. 
And looking now around, she first espied 
Where at the bed's foot, cast in haste aside, 
Lay his full quiver, and his bow unbent. 


One of those darts, of which she had heard so oft, 
She took to try if 'twas so very keen ; 
And held its point against her finger soft 

Measure V. 63 

So gently, that to touch it scarce was seen ; 
Yet was she sharply pricked, and felt the fire 
Run through her veins ; and now a strange desire 
Troubled her heart, which ne'er before had been : 


Straight sprang she to her lover on the bed, 
And kifsed his cheek, and was not satisfied : 
When, oh ! the lamp, held ill- balanced overhead, 
One drop of burning oil spilled from its side 
On Eros' naked shoulder as he slept, 
Who wakened by the sudden smart upleapt 
Upon the floor, and all the mischief eyed. 


With nervous speed he seized his DOW, and pafsed 
Out of the guilty chamber at a bound ; 
But Psyche, following his flight as fast, 
Caught him, and crying threw her arms around. 
Till coming to the court he rose in air ; 
And she, close clinging in her last despair, 
Was dragged, and then lost hold and fell to ground. 

64 Eros and Psyche. 


Wailing she fell ; but he, upon the roof 
Staying his feet, awhile his flight delayed : 
And turning to her as he stood aloof 
Beside a cyprefs, whose profoundest shade 
Drank the reflections of the dreamy night 
In its stiff pinnacle, the nimble light 
Of million stars upon his body played. 


" O simple-hearted Psyche," thus he spake, 
And she upraised her piteous eyes and hands, 
" O simple-hearted Psyche, for thy sake 
Dared I to break my mother's stern commands ; 
And gave thee godlike marriage in the place 
Of vilest shame ; and, not to hurt thy grace, 
Spared thee my arrows, which no heart withstands. 


" But thou, for doubt I was some evil beast, 
Hast mocked the warning of my love, to spy 
Upon my secrets, which concerned thee least, 

Measure V. 65 

Seeing that thy joy was never touched thereby. 
By faithlefs prying thou hast worked thy fall, 
And, even as I foretold thee, losest all 
For looking on thy happinefs too nigh. 

" Which lofs may be thine ample punishment. 
But to those fiends, by whom thou wert misled, 
Go tell each one in turn that I have sent 
This mefsage, that I love her in thy stead ; 
And bid them by their love haste hither soon." 
Whereat he fled ; and Psyche in a swoon 
Fell back upon the marble floor as dead. 



HEN from the lowest ebbingsof her blood 
The fluttering pulses thrilled and swelled 


Her stricken heart recovering force to flood 
With life the sunken conduits of her brain, 
Then Psyche, where she had fallen, numb and cold 
Arose, but scarce her quaking sense controlled, 
Seeing the couch where she that night had lain. 


The level sunbeams searched the grafsy ground 
For diamond dewdrops. Ah ! was this the place ? 
Where was the court, her home ? She looked around 

Measure VI. 67 

And questioned with her memory for a space. 
There was the cyprefs, there the well-known wood, 
That walled the spot : 'twas here her palace stood, 
As surely as 'twas vanished without trace. 


Was all a dream ? To think that all was dreamt 

Were now the happier thought ; but arguing o'er 
That dream it was, she fell from her attempt, 
Feeling the wifely burden that she bore. 
Nay, true, 'twas true. She had had all and lost ; 
The joy, the rec kiefs wrong, the heavy cost 
Were hers, the dead end now, and woe in store. 


What to be done ? Fainting and shelterlefs 
Among the mountains was no place to bide : 
And harbour knew she none, where her distrefs 
Might comfort find, or love's dishonour hide ; 
Nor now felt any dread like that of home : 
Yet forth she must, albeit to rove and roam 
An outcast o'er the country far and wide. 

6 8 Eros and Psyche. 

Anon she marvelled noting from the vale 

A path lead downward to the plain below, 

Crofsing the very site, whereon the pale 

Of all her joy had stood few hours ago ; 

A run of mountain beasts, that keep their track 

Through generations, and for ages back 

Had trod the self-same footing to and fro. 


That would she try : so forth she took her way, 
Turning her face from the dishonoured dell, 
Adown the broadening eastward lawns, which lay 
In gentle slant, till suddenly they fell 
In sheer cliff; whence the path that went around, 
Clomb by the bluffs or e'er it downward wound 
Beneath that precipice impafsable. 

There once she turned, and gazing up the slope 

She bid the scene of all her joys adieu ; 

" Ay, and farewell " she cried, c< farewell to hope, 

Measure VI. 69 

Since there is none will rescue me anew, 
Who have killed God's perfection with a doubt." 
Which said, she took the path that led about, 
And hid the upland pleasance from her view. 


But soon it left her, entering neath the shades 
Of cedar old and rufseted tall pine, 
Whose mighty tops, seen from the thorny glades 
Belted the hills about ; and now no sign 
Had she to guide her, save the slow descent. 
But swiftly o'er the springy floor she went, 
And drew the odorous air like draughts of wine. 


Then next she pafsed a forest thick and dark 

With heavy ilexes and platanes high, 
And came to long lush grafs ; and now could mark 
By many a token that the plain was nigh. 
When, lo ! a river : to whose brink at last 
Being come, upon the bank her limbs she cast, 
And through her sad tears watched the stream go by. 

70 Eros and Psyche. 


And now the thought came o'er her that in death 
There was a cure for sorrow, that before 
Her eyes ran Lethe, she might take one breath 
Of water and be freed for evermore. 
Leaning to look into her tomb, thereon 
She saw the horror of her image wan, 
And up she rose at height to leap from shore. 


When .suddenly a mighty voice, that fell 
With fury on her ears, their sense to scare, 
That bounding from the tree trunks like the yell 
Of hundred brazen trumpets, cried " Forbear ! 
Forbear, fond maid, that froward step to take, 
For life can cure the ills that love may make; 
But for the harm of death is no repair/* 


Then looking up she saw an uncouth form 
Perched on the further bank, whose parted lips 
Volleyed their friendly warning in a storm: 

Measure VI. 

A man he might have been, but for the tips 
Of horns appearing from his shaggy head ; 
For o'er his matted beard his face was red, 
And all his shape was manlike to the hips. 

In forehead low, keen eye, and nostril flat 

He bore the human grace in mean degree, 

But, set beneath his body squat and fat, 

Legs like a goat's, and from the hairy knee 

The shank fell spare ; and, though crofswise he put 

His limbs in easeful posture, for the foot 

The beast's divided hoof was plain to see. 

Him then she knew the mighty choric God, 
The great hill-haunting and tree-loving Pan ; 
Whom Zeus had laughed to see when first he trod 
Olympus, neither god nor beast nor man : 
Who every rocky peak and snow-capped crest 
Of the Aspran mountains for his own pofsest, 
And all their wastes with bacchic rout o'erran. 

J2 Eros and Psyche. 

Whom, when his pipe he plays on loud and sweet, 

And o'er the fitted reeds his moist lip flees, 
Around in measured step with nimble feet 
Dance water-nymphs and Hamadryades : 
And all the woodland's airy folk, who shun 
Man's presence, to his frolic pastime run 
From their perennial wells and sacred trees. 

1 6. 

Now on his knee his pipe laid by, he spoke 
With flippant tongue, wounding unwittingly 
The heart he sought to cheer with jest and joke. 
cc And what hast thou to do with misery " 
He said, cc who hast such beauty as might gain 
The love of Eros? Cast away thy pain, 
And give thy soul to mirth and jollity. 

" Thy mortal life is but a brittle vase, 
But as thee list with wine or tears 'tis filled 
For all the drops therein are Ohs and Ahs 

Measure VI. 73 

Of woe or pleasure as thy wit hath willed ; 
And shouldst thou learn of me my merry way, 
I'd teach thee change thy lover every day, 
And prize the precious cup thouwouldst have spilled. 


" Nay, if thou plunge thou shalt not drown nor sink, 
For I will to thee o'er the stream afloat, 
And bear thee safe ; and oh ! I know a drink 
For care, that makes sweet music in the throat. 
Come live with me, my love ; I'll cure thy chance : 
For I can laugh and quaff, and pipe and dance, 
Swim like a fish, and caper like a goat." 

Speaking, his brute divinity explored 

The secret of her silence ; and old Pan 

In kindnefs told her of a shallow ford 

Where lower down the stream o'er pebbles ran, 

And one might pafs at ease with ankles dry : 

Whither she went, and crofsing o'er thereby, 

Her lonely wanderings through the isle began. 

74 E ros and Psyche. 


But none could tell, no, nor herself had told 

Where food she found, or shelter through the land 

By day or night ; until by fate controlled 

She came by steep ways to the southern strand, 

Where, sacred to the Twins and Britomart, 

Pent in its rocky theatre apart, 

A little town stood on the level sand. 


'Twas where her younger sister's husband reigned : 
And Psyche to the palace gate drew near, 
Helplefsly still by Eros' hest constrained, 
And knocking begged to see her sister dear ; 
But when in state stepped down that haughty queen, 
And saw the wan face spent with tears and teen, 
She smiled, and said cc Psyche, what dost thou here?" 


Then Psyche told how, having well employed 
Their means, and done their bidding not amifs, 
Looking on him her hand would have destroyed, 

Measure VI. 75 

'Twas Eros ; whom in love leaning to kifs, 
Even as she kifsed, a drop of burning oil 
Fall'n from the lamp had served her scheme to foil, 
Discovering her in vision of her blifs ; 

Wherewith the god stung, like a startled bird 

Arose in air, and she fell back in swoon ; 
"But ere he parted " said she, cc he conferred 
On thee the irrecoverable boon 
My prying lost to me : Go tell he said 
Thy sister that I love her in thy stead. 
And bid her by her love haste hither soon" 


Which when that heart of malice heard, it took 
The jealous fancy of her silly lust : 
And pitilefsly with triumphant look 
She drank the flattery, and gave full trust ; 
And leaving Psyche ere she more could tell, 
Ran off to bid her spouse for aye farewell, 
And in his ear this ready lie she thrust : 

76 Eros and Psyche. 

tc My dearest sister Psyche, she whose fate 

We mourned, hath reappeared alive and hale, 
But brings sad news ; my father dies : full late 
These tidings come, but love may yet avail ; 
Let me be gone." And stealing blind consent, 
Forth on that well-remembered road she went, 
And climbed upon the peak above the dale. 


There on the topmost rocks, where Psyche first 
Had by her weeping sire been left to die, 
She stood a moment, in her hope accurst 
Being happy ; and the cliffs took up her cry 
With chuckling mockery from her tongue above, 
Zephyr y sweet Zephyr, waft me to my love ! 
When off she leapt upon his wings to fly. 

2 7- 
But as a dead stone, from a height let fall, 

Silent and straight is gathered by the force 
Of earth's vast mafs upon its weight so small, 

Measure VI. 77 

In speed increasing as it nears its source 
Of motion by which law all things soe'er 
Are clutched and dragged and held so fell she there, 
Like a dead stone, down, in her headlong course. 


The disregardful silence heard her strike 
Upon the solid crags ; her dismal shriek 
Rang on the rocks and died out laughter-like 
Along the vale in hurried trebles weak ; 
And soon upon her, from their skiey haunt 
Fell to their feast the great birds bald and gaunt, 
And gorged on her fair flesh with bloody beak. 


But Psyche, when her sister was gone forth, 
Went out again her wandering way to take : 
And following a stream that led her north, 
After some days she pafsed the Corian Lake, 
Whereby Athena's temple stands, and he 
Who traverses the isle from sea to sea 
May by the plain his shortest journey make. 

78 Eros and Psyche. 

Till on the northern coast arrived she came 

Upon a city built about a port, 

The which she knew, soon as she heard the name, 

Was where her eldest sister held her court ; 

To whom, as Eros had commanded her, 

She now in turn became the mefsenger 

Of vengeful punishment, that fell not short. 

For she too hearing gan her heart exalt, 
Nor pity felt for Psyche's tears and moans, 
But, fellowed with that other in her fault, 
Followed her to her fate upon the stones ; 
And from the peak leaping like her below 
The self-same way unto the self-same woe, 
Lay dashed to death upon her sister's bones. 



ESIDE the Hellenic board of Crete's fair 


Westward of Drepanon, along a reach 
Which maisy Cyamum for many a mile 
Jutting to sea delivers from the breach 
Of North and East, returning to embay 
The favoured shore an ancient city lay, 
Aptera, which is Winglefs in our speech. 


And hence the name ; that here in rocky cove, 
Thence called Museion, was the contest waged 
What day the Sirens with the Muses strove, 
By jealous Hera in that war engaged : 
Wherein the daughters of Mnemosyne 
Overcame the chauntrefses who vexed the sea, 
Nor vengeance spared them by their pride enraged. 

80 Eros and Psyche. 


For those strange creatures, who with women's words 

And wiles made ravenous prey of pafsers-by, 
Were throated with the liquid pipe of birds : 
Of love they sang ; and none, who sailed anigh 
Through the grey hazes of the cyanine sea, 
Had wit the whirlpool of that song to flee, 
Nor feared the talon hooked and feathered thigh. 


But them the singers of the gods o'ercame, 
And plucked them of their plumage, where in fright 
They flew to scape their punishment and shame, 
Upon two rocks that lie within the bight, 
Under the headland, barren and alone ; 
Which, being with the scattered feathers strewn, 
Were by the folk named Leukae, which is White. 

Thereon about this time the snowy gull, 

Minion of Aphrodite, being come, 

Plumed himself, standing on the sea- wrack dull, 

Measure VII. 81 

That drifted from the foot of Cyamum ; 

And 'twas his thought, that had the goddefs learnt 

The tale of Psyche loved and Eros burnt, 

She ne'er so long had kept aloof and dumb. 


Wherefore that duteous gofsip of Love's queen 
Devised that he the mefsenger would be ; 
And rising from the rock, he skimmed between 
The chasing waves such grace have none but he ; 
Into the middle deep then down he dived, 
And rowing with his glistening wings, arrived 
At Aphrodite's bower beneath the sea. 


The eddies from his silver pinions swirled 
The crimson, green, and yellow flofs, that grew 
About the caves, and at his pafsing curled 
Its graceful silk, and gently waved anew : 
Till, oaring here and there, the queen he found 
Strayed from her haunt unto a sandy ground, 
Dappled with eye-rings in the sunlight blue. 


8 2 Eros and Psyche. 


She, as he came upon her from above, 
With Hora played ; Hora, her herald fair, 
That lays the soft necefsity of Love 
On maidens' eyelids, and with sweetest care 
Marketh the hour, as in all works is fit ; 
And happy they in love who time outwit, 
Fondly constrained in her season rare. 

But he with garrulous and laughing tongue 

Broke up his news ; how Eros, fallen sick, 

Lay tofsing on his bed, to frenzy stung 

By such a burn as did but barely prick : 

A little bleb, no bigger than a pease, 

Upon his shoulder 'twas, that killed his ease, 

Fevered his heart, and made his breathing thick. 


cc For which disaster hath he not been seen 

This many a day at all in any place : 

And thou, dear mistrefs," said he cc hast not been 

Measure VIL 83 

Thyself amongst us now a dreary space : 
And pining mortals suffer from a dearth 
Of love ; and for this sadnefs of the earth 
Thy family is darkened with disgrace. 


" Now on the secret paths of dale and wood, 
Where lovers walked, lovers are none to find : 
And friends, besworn to closest brotherhood, 
Forget their faith, and part with words unkind : 
By latest married folk thy bond is loathed : 
And I could tell even of the new-betrothed 
That fly o'erseas, and leave their loves behind. 


C{ Summer is over, but the merry pipe, 
That wont to cheer the harvesting, is mute : 
And in the vineyards, where the grape is ripe, 
No voice is heard of them that take the fruit. 
No workman sings at eve nor maidens dance : 
All joy is dead, and with the year's advance 
The signs of woe increase on man and brute. 

84 Eros and Psyche. 

cc 'Tis plain that if thy pleasure longer pause 

Thy mighty rule on earth has seen its day : 
The race must come to perish, and no cause 
But that thou sittest with thy nymphs at play, 
While on the Cretan hills thy truant boy 
Has with his pretty mistrefs turned to toy, 
And lefs for pain than love now pines away." 

"Ha! Mistrefs! "cried she; "Hathmybeardlefsson 

Been hunting for himself his lovely game ? 

Some young Orestiad hath his fancy won ? 

Some Naiad ? say ; or is a Grace his flame ? 

Or maybe Muse, and then 'tis Erato ; 

She aye was wanton. Tell, if thou dost know, 

Woman or goddefs is she? and her name." 

Then said the snowy gull " O heavenly queen, 
What is my knowledge, who am but a bird ? 
Yet is she only mortal, as I ween, 

Measure VII. 85 

And named Psyche, if I rightly heard." 
But Aphrodite's look daunted his cheer, 
Screaming he fled away, scared even by fear 
To see the wrath his simple tale had stirred. 

1 6. 

He flashed his pens, and sweeping widely round 
Towered to air ; so swift in all his way, 
That whence he dived he there again was found 
As soon as if he had but dipped for prey : 
And now, or e'er he joined his sacred flock, 
Once more he stood upon the Sirens' rock, 
And pruned his ruffled quills for fresh display. 

But as ill tidings have their truth afsured 
Without more witnefs than their fatal sense, 
So, since was nought she lefs could have endured, 
The injured goddefs guefsed the full offence : 
And doubted only whether first to smite 
Or Psyche for her new presumptuous flight, 
Or Eros for his disobedience. 

86 Eros and Psyche. 

1 8. 

But full of anger to her son she went, 
And found him in his golden chamber laid, 
And with him sweet Euphrosyne, attent 
Upon his murmured wants, aye as he bade 
Shifted the pillows with each fretful whim ; 
But scornfully his mother looked at him, 
And recklefs of his pain gan thus upbraid : 


" O worthy deeds, I say, and true to blood, 

The crown and pledge of promise ! thou that wast 

In estimation my perpetual bud, 

Now fruiting thus untimely to my cost ; 

Backsliding from commandment, ay, and worse, 

With blifs to favour one I bade thee curse, 

And save the life I left with thee for lost ! 


" Thou too to burn with love, and love of her 
Whom I did hate ; and to thy bed to take 
My rival, that my trusted officer 

Measure VII. 87 

Might of mine enemy my daughter make ! 
Dost thou then think my love for thee so fond, 
And miserably doting, that the bond 
By such dishonour strained will not break ? 


u Or that I cannot bear another son 

As good as thou ; or, if I choose not bear, 

Not beg a lusty boy of any one 

Of all my nymphs, and some have boys to spare, 

One I might train, to whom thine arms made o'er 

Should do me kinder service than before, 

To smite my foes and keep my honour fair? 


" For thou hast ever mocked me, and beguiled 
In amours strange my God thy valiant sire : 
And having smirched our fame while yet a child, 
Wilt further foul it now with earthly fire. 
But I do as thou mayst have vowed to kill 
Thy fancied girl, whether thou love her still, 
Or of her silly charms already tire. 

88 Eros and Psyche. 


"Tell me but where she hides." And Eros now, 
Proud in his woe, boasted his happy theft : 
Confefsing he had loved her well, and how 
By her own doing she was lost and left ; 
And homelefs in such sorrow as outwent 
The utmost pains of other punishment, 
Was wandering of his love and favour reft. 


By which was Cypris gladdened, not appeased, 
But hid her joy and spake no more her threat : 
And left with face like one that much displeased 
First bending deigns a sign he may forget. 
When lo ! as swiftly she came stepping down 
From her fair house into the heavenly town, 
The Kronian sisters on the way she met. 

Hera the Wife of Zeus, her placid front 

Dark with the shadow of his troubled reign, 
And tall Demeter, who with men once wont, 

Measure VII. 89 

Holding the high Olympians in disdain 
For Persephafsa's rape ; which now forgiven, 
She was returned unto the courts of Heaven, 
And 'mong the immortals lived at peace again. 


Whose smile told Aphrodite that they knew 
The meaning of her visit ; and a flush 
Of anger answered them, while hot she grew. 
But Hera laughed outright : " Why thou dost blush! 
Now see we modest manners on my life ! 
And all thy little son has got a wife 
Can make the crimson to thy forehead rush. 


" Didst think he, whom thou madest pafsion's prince, 
No privy dart then for himself would poise? 
Nay, by the cuckoo on my sceptre, since 
'Twas love made thee the mother of his joys, 
Art thou the foremost to his favour bound ; 
As thou shouldst be the last to think to sound 
The heart, and least of all thy wanton boy's/' 

90 Eros and Psyche. 


But her Demeter, on whose stalwart arm 
She leaned, took up : cc If thou wilt list to me, 
This Psyche " said she " hath the heavenly charm, 
And will become immortal. And maybe 
To marry with a woman is as well 
As wed a god and live below in Hell : 
As 'twas my lot in child of mine to see." 


Which things they both said, fearing in their hearts 
That savage Eros, if they mocked his case, 
Would kill their peace with his revengeful darts, 
And bring them haply to a worse disgrace : 
But Aphrodite, saying " Good ! my dames ; 
Behind this smoke I see the spite that flames," 
Left them, and on her journey went apace. 


For having purposed she would hold no truce 
With Psyche or her son, 'twas in her mind 
To go forthwith unto the house of Zeus, 

Measure VII. 

And beg that Hermes might be sent to find 
The wanderer ; and secure that in such quest 
He would not fail, she pondered but how best 
She might inflict the vengeance she designed. 



EAVY meanwhile at heart, with bruised 

Was Psyche wandering many nights and 


Upon the paths of hundred-citied Crete, 
And chose to step the most deserted ways ; 
Being least unhappy when she went unseen ; 
Since else her secret sorrow had no screen 
From the plain question of men's idle gaze. 

Yet wheresoever she went one hope she had ; 
Like mortal mourners, who 'gainst reason strong 
Hope to be unexpectedly made glad 

Measure Fill. 93 

With sight of their dead friends, so much they long ; 
So she for him, whom lofs a thousandfold 
Endeared and made desired ; nor could she hold 
He would not turn and quite forgive her wrong. 


Wherefore her eager eyes in every place 
Looked for her lover; and 'twixt hope and fear 
She followed off afar some form of grace, 
In pain alike to lose or venture near. 
And still this thought cheered her fatigue, that he, 
Or on some hill, or by some brook or tree, 
But waited for her coming to appear. 


And then for comfort many an old love-crofsed 
And doleful ditty would she gently sing, 
Writ by sad poets of a lover lost, 
Now sounding sweeter for her sorrowing : 
Echo, sweet Echo, watching up on high. 
Say hast thou seen to-day my love go by, 
Or where thou sit test by tby mojsy spring ? 

94 Eros and Psyche. 

Or say ye nymphs y that from the crystal rills, 

When ye have bathed your limbs from morn till eve, 
Flying at midnight to the bare-topped hills, 
Beneath the stars your mazy dances weave, 
Say, my deserter, whom ye well may know 
By his small wings, his quiver, and his bow. 
Say, have ye seen my love, whose lofs I grieve ? 


Till climbed one evening on a rocky steep 
Above the plain of Cisamos, that lay, 
Robbed of its golden harvest, in the deep 
Mountainous shadows of the dying day, 
She saw a temple, whose tall columns fair 
Recalled her home ; and cc O if thou be there, 
My love/ 7 she cried, "fly not again away." 


Swiftly she ran, and entering by the door 
She stood alone within an empty fane 
Of great Demeter : and, behold ! the floor 

Measure Fill. 95 

Was thickly strewn about with scattered grain, 
And ears of wheat and bearded barley heaped, 
The first fruits thither borne of them that reaped 
The goddefs' plenteous gifts upon the plain, 

And on the tithe the tackle of the tithe 
Thrown by in such confusion, as are laid 
Upon the swath sickle, and hook, and scythe, 
When midday drives the reapers to the shade. 
And Psyche, since had come no priestefs there 
To trim the temple, in her pious care 
Forgat herself, and lent her duteous aid. 


She drew the offerings from the midst aside, 

And piled the stocks at every pillar's base; 
And sweeping therebetween a pafsage wide, 
Made clear of corn and chaff the temple space : 
Even as when countrymen bring wheat to mart, 
They set their show along the walls apart 
By their allotted stations, each in place, 

96 Eros and Psyche. 


Thus she, and felt no wearinefs ; such strength 
Hath duty to support our feeble frame ; 
Till all was set in order, and at length 
Up to the threshold of the Shrine she came : 
When lo ! before her face with friendly smile, 
Tall as a pillar of the peristyle, 
The goddefs stood revealed, and called her name. 

1 1. 

" Unhappy Psyche/' said she, " knowst thou not 

How Aphrodite to thy hurt is sworn ? 

And thou, thy peril and her wrath forgot, 

Spendest thy thought my temple to adorn. 

Take better heed ! " And Psyche, at the voice 

Even of so little comfort, gan rejoice, 

And at her feet poured out this prayer forlorn. 


" O Gracious giver of the golden grain, 

Hide me, I pray thee, from her wrath unkind ; 

For who can pity, as canst thou my pain, 

Measure Fill. 97 

Who wert thyself a wanderer, vexed in mind 
For lofs of thy sweet Core once, whenas, 
Ravished to hell by fierce Agesilas, 
Thou soughtest her on earth and couldst not find. 

" How could thy feet bear thee to western night, 

And where swart Libyans watch the sacred tree, 

And thrice to ford o'er Achelous bright, 

And all the streams of beauteous Sicily ? 

And thrice to Enna cam'st thou, thrice, they tell, 

Satest by Callichorus' sacred well, 

Nor tookest of its spring to comfort thee. 

" By that remembered anguish of thine heart, 

Lady, have pity even on me, and show 
Where I may find my love ; and take my part 
For peace, beseech thee, 'gainst my cruel foe : 
Or if thou canst not from her anger shield, 
Here let me lie among the sheaves concealed 
Such time till forth I may in safety go." 


98 Eros and Psyche. 

Demeter answered "Nay, though thou constraint 

My favour with thy plea, my help must still 

Be secret, for I may not move against 

A sister goddefs, whatsoe'er her will. 

Thou must fly hence : Yet though I not oppose, 

Less will I aid her ; and if now I close 

My temple doors to thee, take it not ill." 


Then Psyche's hope foundered ; as when a ship, 
The morrow of the tempest, scarcely rides 
The swollen seas, fetching a deeper dip 
At every wave, and through her gaping sides 
And o'er her shattered bulwarks ever drinks, 
Till plunging in the watery toils she sinks, 
To swim all undersea the sightlefs tides : 

So with each word her broken spirit drank 
Its doom ; and overwhelmed with deep despair 
She turned away, and coming forth she sank 

Measure VIII. 99 

Silently weeping on the temple stair, 
In midmost night, forspent with long turmoil : 
But sleep, the gracious pursuivant of toil, 
Came swiftly down, and nursed away her care. 


And when the sun awaked her with his beams 
She found new hope, that still her sorrow's cure 
Lay with the gods, who in her morning dreams 
Had sent her comfort in a vision sure ; 
Wherein the Cretan-born, almightiest god, 
Cloud-gathering Zeus himself had -seemed to nod, 
And bid her with good heart her woes endure, 


So coming that same day unto a shrine 
Of Hera, she took courage and went in : 
And like to one that to the cell divine 
For favour ventures or a suit to win, 
She drew anigh the altar, from her face 
Wiping the tears, ere to the heavenly grace, 
As thus she prayed, she would her prayer begin. 

i oo Eros and Psyche. 


" Most honoured Lady, who from ancient doom 
Wert made heaven's wife, and art on earth besought 
With gracious happinefs of all to whom 
Thy sacred wedlock hath my burden brought, 
Save me from Aphrodite's fell pursuit, 
And guard unto the birth Love's haplefs fruit, 
Which she for cruel spite would bring to nought. 

" As once from her thou wert not shamed to take 
Her beauty's zone, thy beauty to enhance; 
For which again Zeus loved thee, to forsake 
His warlike ire in faithful dalliance ; 
Show me what means may win my Love to me, 
Or how that I may come, if so may be, 
Within the favour of his countenance. 


" If there be any place for tears or prayer, 
If there be need for succour in distrefs, 
Now is the very hour of all despair, 

Measure Fill. 101 

Here is the heart of grief and bitternefs. 
Motherly pity, bend thy face and grant 
One beam of ruth to thy poor suppliant, 
Nor turn me from thine altar comfortlefs." 

Even as she prayed a cloud spread through the cell, 

And mid the wreathings of the vapour dim 

The goddefs grew in glory visible, 

Like some barbaric queen in festal trim ; 

Such the attire and ornaments she wore, 

When o'er the forged threshold of the floor 

Of Zeus's house she stepped to visit him. 


From either ear, ringed to its pierced lobe 
A triple jewel hung, with gold enchased; 
And o'er her breasts her wide ambrosial robe 
With many a shining golden clasp was braced ; 
The flowering on its smooth embroidered lawn 
Gathered to colour where the zone was drawn 
In fringe of golden tafsels at her waist. 

IO2 Eros and Psyche. 


Her curling hair with plaited braid and brail, 
Pendant or looped about her head divine, 
Lay hidden half beneath a golden veil, 
Bright as the rippling ocean in sunshine : 
And on the ground, flashing whene'er she stepped, 
Beneath her feet the dazzling lightnings leapt 
From the gold network of her sandals fine. 


Thus Hera stood in royal guise bedecked 
Before poor Psyche on the stair that knelt, 
Whose new-nursed hope at that display was checked, 
And all her happier thoughts gan fade and melt. 
She saw no kindnefs in such haughty mien, 
And venturing not to look upon the queen, 
Bowed down in woe to hear her sentence dealt. 


And thus the goddefs spake, " In vain thou suest, 
Most miserable Psyche ; though my heart 
Be full of hate for her whose hate thou ruest, 

Measure VIII. 103 

And pride and pity move me to thy part : 
Yet not till Zeus make known his will, could I, 
Least of the blamelefs gods that dwell on high, 
Afsist thee, wert thou worthier than thou art. 


" But know if Eros love thee, that thy hopes 
Should rest on him ; and I would bid thee go 
To where within his mother's house he mopes 
Apart for lofs of thee in secret woe : 
For should he take thee back there is no power 
In earth or heaven will hurt thee from that hour, 
Nay, not if Zeus himself should prove thy foe.'' 


Thus saying she was gone, and Psyche now 
Surprised by comfort rose and went her way, 
Resolved in heart, and only wondering how 
'Twas pofsible to come where Eros lay ; 
Since that her feet, however she might roam, 
Could never travel to the heavenly home 
Of Love, beyond the bounds of mortal day : 

IO4 Eros and Psyche. 


Yet must she come to him. And now 'twas proved 
How that to Lovers, as is told in song, 
Seeking the way no place is far removed ; 
Nor is there any obstacle so strong, 
Nor bar so fixed that it can hinder them : 
And how to reach heaven's gate by stratagem 
Vexed not the venturous heart of Psyche long. 


To face her enemy might well avail : 
Wherefore to Cypris' shrine her steps she bent, 
Hoping the goddefs in her hate might hale 
Her body to the skies for punishment, 
Whatever to be ; yet now her fiercest wrath 
Seemed happiest fortune, seeing 'twas the path 
Whereby alone unto her love she went. 



UT Aphrodite to the house of Zeus 
Being bound, bade now call out her 

milkwhite steeds, 
Four doves, that ready to her royal use 
In golden cages stood and pecked the seeds : 
Best of the hundred prisoned birds she broke, 
That wore with pride the markings of her yoke, 
And cooed in envy of her gentle needs. 


These drew in turn her chariot, when in state 
Along the heaven with all her train she fared ; 
And oft in journeying to the skiey gate 
Of Zeus's palace high their flight had dared, 
Which darkest vapour and thick glooms enshroud 
Above all else in the perpetual cloud, 
Wherethro' to mount again they stood prepared, 

106 Eros and Psyche. 


In twin pairs yoked to her shining car ; 
The same Hephaestos wrought for her, when he, 
Bruised in his hideous fall from heaven afar, 
Was nursed by Thetis, and Eurynome, 
The daughter of the ever- refluent main ; 
With whom he dwelt till he grew sound again, 
Down in a hollow cave beside the sea : 


And them for kindnefs done was prompt to serve, 
Forging them brooches rich in make and mode, 
Earrings, and supple chains of jointed curve, 
And other trinkets, while he there abode : 
And none of gods or men knew of his home, 
But they two only ; and the salt sea foam 
To and fro past his cavern ever flowed. 

'Twas then he wrought this work within the cave, 

Embofsed with rich design, a mooned car ; 
And when returned to heaven to Cypris gave, 

Measure IX. 1 07 

In form imagined like her crescent star ; 
Which circling nearest earth, maketh at night 
To wakeful mortal men shadow and light 
Alone of all the stars in heaven that are. 


Two slender wheels it had, with fretted tires 
Of biting adamant, to take firm hold 
Of cloud or ether ; and their whirling fires 
Threw off the air in mist where'er they rolled : 
And either nave that round the axle turned 
A ruby was, whose steady crimson burned 
Betwixt the twin speed-mingling fans of gold. 

And now the goddefs stood thereon, and shook 

The reins ; whereat the doves their wings outspread, 
And rising high their flight to heaven they took : 
And all the birds, that in those courts were bred, 
Of her broad eaves the nested families, 
Sparrows and Swallows joined their companies 
Awhile and twittered to her overhead. 

io8 Eros and Psyche. 


But onward she with fading tracks of flame 
Sped swiftly, till she reached her journey's end : 
And when within the house of Zeus she came, 
She prayed the Sire of Heaven that he would lend 
Hermes, the Argus-slayer, for her hest ; 
And he being granted her at her request, 
She went forthwith to seek him and to send. 


Who happed within the palace then to wait 

Upon his master's pleasure ; and her tale 
Was quickly told, and he made answer straight 
That he would find the truant without fail ; 
Asking the goddefs by what signs her slave 
Might best be known, and what the price she gave 
For capture, or admitted for the bail. 


All which he took his silver stile to write 
In letters large upon a waxed board ; 
Her name and colour, features, age, and height, 

Measure IX. 1 09 

Her home, and parentage, and the reward : 
And then read o'er as 'twas to be proclaimed. 
And she took oath to give the price she named, 
Without demur, when Psyche was restored. 

1 1. 

Then on his head he closely set his cap 
With eared wings erect, and o'er his knee 
He crofsed each foot in turn to prove the strap 
That bound his winged sandals, and shook free 
His chlamys, and gat up, and in his hand 
Taking his fair white-ribboned herald's wand, 
Leapt forth on air, accoutred cap-a-pe. 


And piloting along the mid-day skies 
Held southward, till the narrow map of Crete 
Lay like a fleck in azure 'neath his eyes ; 
When down he came, and as an eagle fleet 
Drops in some combe, and not till lowest stoop 
Spreads wing for check, skimming in level swoop 
To strike the bleating quarry with its feet, 

1 1 o Eros and Psyche. 


Thus he alighted ; and in every town 

In all the isle before the close of day 

Had cried the mefsage, which he carried down, 

Of Psyche, Aphrodite's runaway ; 

That whosoever found the same and caught, 

And by such time unto her temple brought, 

To him the goddefs would this guerdon pay : 


Six honied kifses from her rosy mouth 
Would Cytherea give, and one beside 
To quench at heart for aye love's mortal drouth : 
But unto him that hid her, Woe betide ! 
Which now was on all tongues, and Psyche's name 
Herself o'erheard, or ever nigh she came 
To Aphrodite's temple where she hied. 

When since she found her way to heaven was safe, 
She only wished to make it soon and sure ; 
Nor feared to meet the goddefs in her chafe, 

Measure IX. 1 1 1 

So she her self-surrender might secure, 
And not be given of other for the price ; 
Nor was her temper apt to use device 
Of wit or prudence to conceal her lure. 


But now so changed she was by heavy woe, 

As not to fear her true description, nor 

That such as once had known her now would know ; 

And wTien within the fane she stood before 

The priestefs and in full herself betrayed, 

Scarce could she then with prayer or oath persuade 

She was that Psyche known so well of yore. 

But when to Hermes she was shown and given, 
He took no doubt, but eager to be quit, 
And proud of speed, returned with her to heaven, 
And left her with the proclamation writ, 
Hung at her neck, the board with letters large, 
At Aphrodite's gate with those in charge ; 
And up whence first he came made haste to flit. 

112 Eros and Psyche. 


But haplefs Psyche fell, for so it chanced, 
To moody Synethea's care, the one 
Of Aphrodite's train whom she advanced 
To try the work abandoned by her son. 
Who by perpetual presence made ill end 
Of good or bad ; though she could both amend, 
And shewed her skill in work by her begun. 

But she to such kind thoughts her heart had shut, 
And proved she had a spite beyond compare : 
Nor could the keenest taunts her anger glut, 
Which she when soured was never wont to spare : 
But mocking Psyche's shame and pain and grief, 
She beat her cruelly, and to her chief 
Along the courtyard dragged her by the hair. 


Nor now was Aphrodite kinder grown ; 
But, seeing her she hated in her power, 
She laughed for joy, and in triumphant tone 

Measure IX. 113 

Bade her a merry welcome to her bower : 
"' Tis fit indeed daughters-in-law should wait 
Upon their mothers ; but thou comest late, 
Psyche ; I looked for thee before this hour. 


"And yet," thus gave she rein to jeer and gibe, 

" Forgive me if I held thee negligent, 

Or if accustomed vanity ascribe 

An honour to myself was never meant. 

Thy lover is it, who so dearly prized 

The pretty soul, then left her and despised ? 

To him more like thy heavenward steps were bent. 


" Nor without reason : Zeus, I tell thee, swooned 

To hear the story of the drop of oil, 

The revelation and the ghastly wound : 

My merriment is but my fear's recoil. 

But if my son was unkind, thou shalt see 

How kind a goddefs can his mother be 

To bring thy tainted honour clear of soil." 

1 1 4 Eros and Psyche. 

23 \ 
And so, to match her promise with her mirth, 

Two of her ministers she called in ken, 
That work the melancholy of the earth ; 
Merimna that with care perplexes, when 
The hearts of mortals have the gods forgot, 
And Lype, that her sorrow spares them not, 
When mortals have forgot their fellow men. 


These, like twin sharks that in a fair ship's wake 
Swim constant, showing 'bove the water blue 
Their shearing fins, and hasty ravin make 
Of overthrow or offal, so these two 
On Aphrodite's pafsing follow hard ; 
And now she offered to their glut's regard 
Sweet Psyche, with command their wont to do. 


But in what secret chamber their foul task 
These soul-tormentors plied, or what their skill, 
Pity of tender nature may not ask, 

Measure IX. 1 1 5 

Nor poet stain his rhyme with such an ill. 

But they at last themselves turned from their rack, 

Weary of cruelty, and led her back, 

Saying that further torture were to kill. 


Then when the goddefs saw her, more she mocked, 
cc Art thou the woman of the earth," she said, 
That hast in sorceries mine Eros locked, 
And stood thyself for worship in my stead ? 
Looking that I should pity thee, or care 
For what illicit offspring thou mayst bear ; 
Or let thee to that god my son be wed ? 


tc I know thy trick ; and thou art one of them 
Who steal love's favour in the gentle way, 
Wearing submifsion for a diadem, 
Patience and suffering for thy rich array : 
Thou wilt be modest, kind, implicit, so 
To rest thy wily spirit out of shew, 
That it may leap the livelier into play : 

1 1 6 Eros and Psyche. 


" Devout at doing nothing, if so be 
The grace become thee well ; but active yet 
Above all others be there none to see 
Thy businefs, and thine eager face asweat. 
Lo ! I will prove thy talent : thou mayst live, 
And all thou now desirest will I give, 
If thou perform the task which I shall set." 


She took her then aside, and bade her heed 
A heap of grains piled high upon the floor, 
Millet and mustard, hemp and poppy seed, 
And fern-bloom's undistinguishable spore, 
All kinds of pulse, of grafses, and of spice, 
Clover and linseed, rape, and corn, and rice, 
Dodder, and sesame, and many more. 


cc Sort me these seeds " she said, c< it now is night, 
I will return at morning ; if I find 
That thou hast separated all aright, 

Measure IX. 


Each grain from other grain after its kind, 
And set them in unmingled heaps apart, 
Then shall thy wish be granted to thine heart." 
Whereat she turned, and closed the door behind. 



SINGLE lamp there stood beside the 

And shed thereon its mocking golden 


Such as might tempt the weary eye to sleep 
Rather than prick the sense of tasked sight. 
Yet Psyche, not to fail for lack of zeal, 
With good will set her down to her ordeal, 
Sorting the larger seeds as best she might. 


When lo ! upon the wall, a shadow pafsed 
Of doubtful shape, acrofs the chamber dim 
Moving with speed : and seeing nought that cast 

Measure X. 119 

The shade, she bent her down the flame to trim ; 
And there the beast itself, a little ant. 
Climbed up in compafs of the lustre scant, 
Upon the bowl of oil ran round the rim. 


Smiling to see the creature of her fear 
So dwarfed by truth, she watched him where he 
For mere distraction telling in his ear [crept, 

What straits she then was in, and telling wept. 
Whereat he stood and trimmed his horns ; but ere 
Her tale was done resumed his manner scare, 
Ran down, and on his way in darknefs kept. 


But she intent drew forth with dextrous hand 
The larger seeds, or pushed the smaller back, 
Or light from heavy with her breathing fanned. 
When suddenly she saw the floor grow black, 
And troops of ants, flowing in noiselefs train, 
Moved to the hill of seeds, as o'er a plain 
Armies approach a city for attack ; 

12O Eros and Psyche. 

And gathering on the grain, began to strive 

With grappling horns ; and each from out the heap 
His burden drew, and all their motion live 
Struggled and slid upon the surface steep. 
And Psyche wondered, watching them, to find 
The creatures separated kind from kind : 
Till dizzied with the sight she fell asleep . 


And when she woke 'twas with the morning sound 
Of Aphrodite's anger at the door, 
Whom high amaze stayed backward, as she found 
Her foe asleep with all her trouble o'er : 
And round the room beheld, in order due, 
The piles arranged distinct and sorted true, 
Grain with grain, seed with seed, and spore with spore. 

She fiercely cried cc Thou shalt not thus escape ; 

For to this marvel dar'st thou not pretend. 
There is but one that could this order shape, 

Measure X. 1 2 1 

Demeter, but I knew her not thy friend. 
Therefore another trial will I set, 
In which she cannot aid thee nor abet, 
But thou thyself must bring it fair to end." 


Thereon she sped her to the bounds of Thrace, 
And set her by a river deep and wide, 
And said " To east beyond this stream, a race 
Of golden-fleeced sheep at pasture bide. 
Go seek them out; and this thy task, to pull 
But one lock for me of their precious wool, 
And give it in my hands at eventide : 

a This do and thou shalt have thy heart's desire." 

Which said, she fled and left her by the stream : 
And Psyche then, with courage still entire 
Had plunged therein ; but now of great esteem 
Her life she rated, while it lent a spell 
Wherein she yet might hope to quit her well, 
And in one winning all her woes redeem. 

1 2 2 Eros and Psyche. 


There as she stood in doubt, a fluting voice 
Rose from the flood, " Psyche, be not afraid 
To hear a reed give tongue, for 'twas of choice 
That I from mortal flesh a plant was made. 
My name is Syrinx ; once from mighty Pan 
Into the drowning river as I ran 
The change I begged my steps for ever stayed. 


"But for that change in many climes I live; 
And Pan, my lover, who to me alone 
Is true and does me honour, I forgive ~ 
Nor if I speak in sorrow is't my own : 
Rather for thee my voice I now uplift 
To warn thee plunge not in the river swift, 
Nor seek the golden sheep to men unknown. 


" If thou shouldst crofs the stream, which may not be, 
Thou couldst not climb upon the hanging rocks, 
Nor ever, as the goddefs bade thee, see 

Measure X. 123 

The pastures of the yellow-fleeced flocks : 
Or if thou couldst, their herded horns would gore 
And slay thee on the crags, or thrust thee o'er 
Ere thou couldst rob them of their golden locks. 

"The goddefs means thy death. But I can show 

How thy pbedience yet may thwart her will. 

At noon the golden flocks descend below, 

Leaving the scented herbage of the hill, 

And where the shelving banks to shallows fall, 

Drink at the rippling waters one and all, 

Nor back return till they have drawn their fill. 


u I will command a thornbush, that it stoop 
Over some ram that steppeth by in peace, 
And him in all its prickles firmly coop, 
Making thee seizure of his golden fleece ; 
So without peril of his angry horns 
Shall thou be quit : for he upon the thorns 
Must leave his ransom ere he win release/* 

1 24 Eros and Psyche. 

Then Psyche thanked her for her kind befriending, 

And hid among the rushes looking east ; 

And when noon came she saw the flock descending 

Out of the hills ; and, lo ! one golden beast 

Caught in a thornbush ; and the mighty brute 

Struggled and tore it from its twisted root 

Into the stream, or e'er he was released. 


And when they watered were and gone, the breeze 
Floated the freighted thorn where Psyche lay : 
Whence she unhooked the golden wool at ease, 
And back to heaven for pafsage swift gan pray. 
And Hermes, who was sent to be her guide 
Ifso she lived, came down at eventide, 
And bore her thither ere the close of day. 

But when the goddefs saw the locks of gold 
Held to her hands, her heart with wrath o'erran : 
" Most desperate thou, and by abetting bold, 

Measure X. 125 

That dost outwit me prove thee as I can. 
Yet this work is not thine: there is but one 
Of all the gods who could the thing have done. 
Hast thou a friend too in the lusty Pan ? 


cc I'll give thee trial where he cannot aid." 
Which said, she led her to a torrid land, 
Level and black, but not with flood or shade, 
For nothing could the mighty heat withstand, 
Which aye from morn till eve the naked sun 
Poured on that plain, where never foot had run, 
Nor any herb sprung on its molten sand. 

Far off a gloomy mountain rose alone : 

And Aphrodite, thither pointing, said 

" There lies thy task. Out of the topmost stone 

Of yonder hill upwells a fountain head. 

Take thou this goblet ; brimming must thou bring 

Its cup with water from that sacred spring, 

If ever to my son thou wouldst be wed." 

i 26 Eros and Psyche. 


Saying, she gave into her hands a bowl 
Cut of one crystal, open broad and fair ; 
And bade her at all hazard keep it whole, 
For heaven held nought beside so fine or rare. 
Then was she gone ; and Psyche on the plain 
Now doubted if she ever should regain 
The love of Eros, strove she howsoe'er. 


Yet as a helmsman, at the word to tack, 
Swiftly without a thought puts down his helm, 
So Psyche turned to tread that desert black, 
Since was no fear that could her heart o'erwhelm ; 
Nor yet she knew the fount she went to seek 
Was cold Cocytus, springing to the peak, 
Secretly from his source in Pluto's realm. 


All night and day she journeyed, and at last 
Come to the rock gazed up in vain around: 
For nought she saw but precipices vast 

Measure X. 127 

O'er ruined scarps, with rugged ridges crowned, 
And sitting down to rest her in the shade, 
Or e'er the desperate venture she afsayed, 
She fell asleep upon the stony ground. 


A dream came to her, thus : she stood alone 
Within her palace in the high ravine ; 
Where nought but she was changed, but she to stone. 
Worshippers thronged the court, and still were seen 
Folk flying from the peak, who, ever more 
Flying and flying, lighted on the floor, 
Hail ! cried they, wife of Eros, adored queen ! 


A hurtling of the battled air disturbed 
Her sunken sense, and waked her eyes to meet 
The kingly bird of Zeus, himself that curbed 
His swooping course, alighting at her feet ; 
With motion gentle, his far darting eye 
In kindnefs dimmed upon her, he drew nigh, 
And thus in words unveiled her foe's deceit : 

128 Eros and Psyche. 

" In vain, poor Psyche, has thou hither striven, 

Acrofs the fiery plain toiling so well ; 

Cruelly to destruction art thou driven 

By her, whose hate thou canst not quit nor quell. 

No mortal foot may scale this horrid mount, 

And those black waters of its topmost fount 

Are guarded by the horned snakes of hell. 


cc Its little rill is an upleaping jet 
Of cold Cocytus, which for ever licks 
Earth's base, and when with Acheron 'tis met, 
Its waters with that other cannot mix, 
Which holds the elemental air difsolved : 
But with it in its ceaselefs course revolved 
Ifsues unmingled in the lake of Styx. 


a The souls of murderers, in guise of fish, 
Scream as they swim therein and wail for cold, 
Their times of vtoe determined bv the wish 

Measure X. 129 

Of them they murdered on the earth of old : 
Whom each five years they see, whene'er they make 
Their pafsage to the Acherusian lake. 
And there release may win from pains condoled. 


" For if the pitying ear of them they slew 
Be haply pierced by their voices spare, 
Then are they freed from pain ; as are some few ; 
But for the most again they forward fare 
To Tartarus obscene, and outcast thence 
Are hurried back into the cold intense, 
And with new company their torments share. 


" Its biting lymph may not be touched of man 
Or god, unlefs the Fates have so ordained ; 
Nor could I in thy favour break the ban, 
Nor pafs the dragons that thereby are chained 
Didst thou not bear the sacred cup of Zeus ; 
Which, for thy peril lent, shall turn to use, 
And truly do the service which it feigned." 


130 Eros and Psyche. 

Thus as he spake his talons made he ring 

Around the crystal bowl, and soaring high 
Descended as from heaven upon the spring : 
Nor dared the horned snakes of hell deny 
The minister of Zeus, that bore his cup, 
To fill it with their trusted water up, 
Thence to the King of heaven therewith to fly, 

But he to Psyche bent his gracious speed, 
And bidding her to mount his feathered back 
Bore her aloft as once young Ganymede ; 
Nor ever made his steady flight to slack, 
Ere that he set her down beside her goal, 
And gave into her hands the crystal bowl 
Unspilled, overbrimming with the water black. 



UT Eros now recovered from his hurt, 
Felt other pangs ; for who would not 


Weighing the small crime and unmatched desert 
Of Psyche with her cruel punishment ? 
And shamed he grew to be so near allied 
To her, who by her taunts awoke his pride, 
As his compafsion by her spite unspent. 


Which Aphrodite seeing waxed more firm 
That he should never meet with Psyche more ; 
And had in thought already set the term 
To their communion with that trial sore, 
Which sent her forth upon a quest accursed, 
And not to be accomplished, that of thirst 
She there might perish on hell's torrid shore. 

i 3 2 Eros and Psyche. 


And now it chanced that she had called her son 
Into her presence-chamber, to unfold 
Psyche's destruction, that her fate might stun 
What love remained by duty uncontrolled ; 
And he to hide his tears' rebellious storm 
Was fled ; when in his place another form 
Rose 'neath the golden lintel ; and behold 


Psyche herself, in slow and balanced strain, 
Poising the crystal bowl with fearful heed, 
Her eyes at watch upon the steadied plane, 
And whole soul gathered in the single deed. 
Onward she came, and stooping to the floor 
Set down the cup unspilled and brimming o'er 
At Aphrodite's feet, and rose up freed. 

Surprise overcame the goddefs, and she too 

Stood like a statue, but with pafsion pale : 
Till, when her victim nothing spake, she threw 

Measure XI. i 3 3 

Some kindnefs in her voice, and bade her hail ; 
But in the smiling judge 'twas plain to see 
Saying " What water bringst thou here to me ? "- 
That justice over hate should not prevail. 


Then Psyche said " This is the biting flood 
Of black Cocytus, silvered with the gleam 
Of souls, that guilty of another's blood 
Are pent therein, and as they swim they scream. 
The horned snakes of hell, upon the mount 
Enchained, for ever guard the livid fount : 
And but the Fates can grant to touch the stream." 


" Wherefore " the goddefs cried " 'tis plain that none 
But one I wot of could this thing have wrought. 
That which another doth may well be done 
Nor thou the nearer to my promise brought. 
Thou buildest on a hope to be destroyed, 
If thou accept conditions, and avoid 
Thy parcel, nor thyself accomplish aught. 

1 34 Eros and Psyche. 


" Was it not kindnefs in me, being averse 
To all thy wish, to yield me thus to grant 
Thy heart's desire, and nothing loathe I worse,- 
If thou wouldst only work as well as want ? 
See, now I will not yet be all denial, 
But offer thee one last determining trial ; 
And let it be a mutual covenant : 

" This box," and in her hands she took a pyx 

Square-cut, of dark obsidian's rarest green, 
c< Take ; and therewith beyond Tartarean Styx 
Go thou, and entering Hades' house obscene, 
Say to Persephone, If 'tis thy will 
To show me so much favour , prithee fill 
This little vase with beauty for Love's queen. 


" She begs but what shall well oerlast a day ; 
For of her own was much of late outspent 
In nursing of her son, in bed who lay 

Measure XL 135 

Wounded by me, who for the gift am sent. 
Then bring me what she gives, and with all speed ; 
For truth to say I stand, thou seest, in need 
Of some such charm in my disparagement. 


" If thou return to me with that acquist, 

Having thyself the journey made, I swear 

That day to give thee whatsoe'er thou list, 

And be it my son. Now, Psyche, wilt thou dare?" 

And Psyche said Cf If this thou truly mean, 

I will go down to Tartarus obscene, 

And beg of Hades 1 queen thy beauty there. 


" Show me the way." But Aphrodite said, 

" That mayst thou find. Yet I will place thee whence 

A way there is : mortals have on it sped ; 

Ay, and returned thereby : so let us hence." 

Then swift to earth her willing prey she bore, 

And left her on the wide Laconian shore, 

Alone, at midnight, in the darknefs dense. 

1 36 Eros and Psyche. 


'Twas winter ; and as shivering Psyche sat 
Waiting for morn, she questioned in her mind 
What place the goddefs meant, arrived whereat 
She might descend to hell, or how should find 
The way which Gods to living men deny. 
" No Orpheus, nay, nor Heracles am I," 
Said she, "to loosen where the great Gods bind." 


And when at length the long delaying dawn 
Broke on the peaks of huge Taygetus, 
And Psyche through the skirts of dark withdrawn 
Looked on that promontory mountainous, 
And saw high-crested Taleton in snow, 
Her heart sank, and she wept with head bent low 
The malice of her foe dispiteous. 

And seeing near at hand an ancient tower, 

Deserted now, but once a hold of men, 

She came thereto, and, though 'twas all her power, 

Measure XL 137 

Mounted its steep unbroken stair again. 
" Surely," she said, for now a second time 
She thought to die " this little height I climb 
Will prove my shortest road to Pluto's den. 

1 6. 

" Hence must I come to Tartarus ; once there 
Turn as I may," and straight to death had sprung; 
When in the mofsy tower the imprisoned air 
Was shaken, and its hoary stones gave tongue, 
"Stand firm! stand firm!" that rugged voice outcried; 
4C Of such as choose despondency for guide 
Hast thou not heard what bitterest fate is sung ? 

<c Hearken ; for I the road and means can teach 
How thou mayst come to hell and yet escape. 
And first must thou, that upper gate to reach, 
Along these seagirt hills thy journey shape, 
To where the land in sea dips furthest South 
At Taenarus and Hades' earthly mouth, 
Hard by Poseidon's temple at the cape. 

I 38 Eros and Psyche. 


<c Thereby may one descend : but they that make 
That pafsage down must go provided well. 
So take in either hand a honey-cake 
Of pearled barley mixed and hydromel ; 
And in thy mouth two doits, first having bound 
The pyx beneath thy robe enwrapped around : 
Thus set thou forth ; and mark what more I tell. 


" When thou hast gone alone some half thy road 
Thou wilt overtake a lame outwearied afs ; 
And one that beats him, tottering 'neath his load 
Of logs, and beats in vain, will cry, Alas ; 
Help me, kind friend \ my faggots to adjust ! 
But thou that silly cripple's words mistrust ; 
'Tis planted for thy death. Note it and pafs. 


<c And when thy road the Stygian river joins, 
Where woolly Charon ferries o'er the dead, 
He will demand his fare : one of thy coins 

Measure XL 139 

Force with thy tongue between thy teeth, thy head 

Offering instead of hand to give the doit. 

His fingers in this custom are adroit, 

And thine must not set down the barleybread. 


c< Then in his crazy bark as, ferrying o'er 
The stream, thou sittest, one that seems to float 
Rather than swim, midway 'twixt shore and shore, 
Will stretch his fleshlefs hand upon the boat, 
And beg thee of thy pity take him in. 
Shut thy soft ear unto his clamour thin, 
Nor for a phantom deed thyself devote. 


" Next, on the further bank when thou art stepped, 
Three wizened women weaving at the woof 
Will stop, and pray thee in their art adept 
To free their tangled threads. Hold thou aloof; 
For this and other traps thy foe hath planned 
To make thee drop the cakes from out thy hand, 
Putting thy prudence to perpetual proof. 

1 40 Eros and Psyche. 

" For by one cake thou comest into Hell, 

And by one cake departest ; since the hound 

That guards the gate is ever pleased well 

To taste man's meal, or sweetened grain unground. 

Cast him a cake ; for that thou mayst go free 

Even to the mansion of Persephone, 

Without more stay or peril, safe and sound. 

" She will receive thee kindly ; thou decline 

Her courtesies, and make the floor thy seat ; 
Refusing all is offered, food or wine ; 
Save only beg a crust of bread to eat. 
Then tell thy mifsion, and her present take ; 
Which when thou hast, set forth with pyx and cake, 
One in each hand, while yet thou mayst retreat. 

" Giving thy second cake to Cerberus, 

The coin to Charon, and that way whereby 
Thou earnest following, thou comest thus 

Measure XI. 141 

To see again the starry choir on high. 
But guard thou well the pyx, nor once uplift 
The lid to look on Persephafsa's gift ; 
Else 'tis in vain I bid thee now not die." 

Then Psyche thanked the tower, and stooped her 


To kifs the stones upon his rampart hoary ; 
And coming down his stair went hasting south, 
Along the steep Taenarian promontory : 
And found the cave and temple by the cape, 
And took the cakes and coins, and made escape 
Beneath the earth, according to his story. 


And overtook the afs, but lent no aid ; 
And offered Charon with her teeth his fee ; 
And pafsed the floating ghost, in vain who prayed ; 
And turned her back upon the weavers three : 
And threw the cake he loved to that hell-hound 
Three-headed Cerberus ; and safe and sound, 
Came to the mansion of Persephone. 

1 42 Eros and Psyche. 


Kindly received she courtesy declined ; 
Sat on the ground ; ate not, save where she lay 
A crust of bread ; revealed the goddefs' mind ; 
The gift took ; and returned upon her way : 
Gave Cerberus his cake, Charon his fare, 
And saw through HelPs mouth to the purple air 
And one by one the keen stars melt in day. 


Awhile from so long journeying in the shades 
Resting at Taenarus she came to know 
How, on the eastern coast, some forty stades, 
There stood a temple of her goddefs foe. 
There would she make her offering, there reclaim 
The prize, which now 'twas happinefs to name, 
The joy that should redeem all pafsed woe. 


And wending by the sunny shore at noon, 
She with her pyx, and wondering what it hid, 
Of what kind, what the fashion of the boon 

Measure XI. 143 

She carried, but to look on was forbid, 
Alas for Innocence so hard to teach ! 
At fancy's prick she sat her on the beach. 
And to content desire lifted the lid. 

She saw within nothing : But o'er her sight 

That looked on nothing gan a darknefs creep. 

A cloudy poison, mixed of Stygian night, 

Rapt her to deadly and infernal sleep. 

Backward she fell, like one when all is o'er, 

And lay outstretched, as lies upon the shore 

A drowned corpse cast up by the murmuring deep. 



HILE Eros in his chamber hid his tears, 
Mourning the lofs of Psyche and her fate, 
The rumour of her safety reached hisears 

And how she came to Aphrodite's gate : 
Whereat with hope returned his hardihood, 
And secretly he purposed while he could 
Himself to save her from the goddefs' hate. 


Then learning what he might and guefsing more, 
His ready wit came soon to understand 
The journey to the far Laconian shore ; 

Measure XII. 145 

Whither to fly and seek his love he planned : 
And making good escape in dark of night, 
Ere the sun crofsed his true meridian flight 
He by Teuthrone struck the southern strand. 


There as it chanced he found that snowy bird 

Of Crete, that late made mischief with his queen, 
And now along the cliffs with wings unstirred 
Sailed, and that morn had crofsed the sea between : 
Whom as he pafsed he hailed, and questioned thus, 
<f O snowy gull, if thou from Tasnarus 
Be come, say, hast thou there my Psyche seen ? " 


The gull replied " Thy Psyche have I seen ; 
Walking beside the sea she joys to bear 
A pyx of dark obsidian's rarest green, 
Wherein she gazes on her features fair. 
She is not hence by now six miles at most." 
Then Eros bade him speed, and down the coast 
Held on his pafsage through the buoyant air. 


1 46 Eros and Psyche. 

With eager eye he searched the salty marge. 

Boding all mischief from his mother's glee ; 
And wondering of her wiles, and what the charge 
Shut in the dark obsidian pyx might be. 
And lo ! at last, outstretched beside the rocks, 
Psyche as lifelefs ; and the open box 
Laid with the weedy refuse of the sea. 


He guefsed all, flew down, and beside her knelt, 
With both his hands stroking her temples wan ; 
And for the poison with his fingers felt, 
And drew it gently from her ; and anon 
She slowly from those Stygian fumes was freed; 
Which he with magic handling and good heed 
Replaced in pyx, and shut the lid thereon. 


<c O Psyche," thus, and kifsing her he cried, 
" O simple-hearted Psyche, once again 
Hast thou thy foolish longing gratified, 

Measure XII. 147 

A second time hath prying been thy bane. 
But lo ! I, love, am come, for I am thine : 
Nor ever more shall any fate malign, 
Or spite of goddefs smite our love in twain. 


" Let now that I have saved thee twice outweigh 
The once that I deserted thee : and thou 
Hast much obeyed for once to disobey, 
And wilt no more my bidding disallow. 
Take up thy pyx ; to Aphrodite go, 
And claim the promise of thy mighty foe ; 
Maybe that she will grant it to thee now. 


" If she refuse, and still from pity lean, 

Despair not yet." Then swiftly to the sky 
He sped with Psyche, setting her unseen 
At Aphrodite's golden gate, whereby 
They came as night was close on twilight dim : 
But Eros, bidding her speak nought of him, 
Flew to the house of Zeus on purpose high. 

1 48 Eros and Psyche. 


There winning audience of the heavenly sire, 
Who well disposed to him was used to be, 
He told the story of his strong desire ; 
And boldly begged that Zeus would grant his plea, 
That he might have sweet Psyche for his wife, 
And she be dowered with immortal life, 
Since she was worthy, by his firm decree. 


And great Zeus smiled ; and at the smile of Zeus 
All heaven was glad, and on the earth below 
Was calm and peace awhile and sorrow's truce : 
The sun shone forth and smote the winter snow, 
The flowers sprang, the birds gan sing and pair, 
And mortals, as they drew the brightened air 
Marvelled, and quite forgot their common woe. 


Yet gave the Thunderer not his full consent 
Without some words : "At length is come the day/ 
Thus spake he, cc when for all thy youth milspent, 

Measure XII. 149 

Thy mischief-making and thy wanton play 
Thou art tipgrown to taste the sweet and sour. 
Good shall it work upon thee : from this hour 
Look we for better things. And this I say, 

" That since thy birth, which all we took for blifs, 
Thou hast but mocked us ; and no lefs on me 
Hast brought disfavour and contempt ywifs, 
Than others that have had to do with thee : 
Till only such as vowed themselves aloof 
From thee and thine were held in good aproof ; 
And few there were, who thus of shame went free. 

Cf That punishment is shapen as reward 
Is like thy fortune : but our good estate 
We honour, while we sit to be adored : 
And thus 'twas written in the book of Fate. 
Not for thy pleasure, but the general weal 
Grant I the grace for which thou here dost kneel ; 
And that which I determine shall not wait." 

1 50 Eros and Psyche. 

So winged Hermes through the heaven he sped, 

To warn the high celestials to his hall, 
Where they should Eros see with Psyche wed, 
And keep the day with feast ambrosial. 
And Hermes, flying through the skiey ways 
Of high Olympus, spread sweet Psyche's praise, 
And bade the mighty gods obey his call. 


Then all the Kronian gods and goddefses 
Afsembled at his cry, and now 'twas known 
Why Zeus had smiled, the lefser majesties 
Attending them before his royal throne. 
Athena, mistrefs good of them that know, 
Came, and Apollo, warder off of woe, 
Who had to Psyche r s sire her fate foretold, 

Demeter, giver of the golden corn, 

Fair Hebe, honoured at her Attic shrine, 

And Artemis with hunting spear and horn, 

Measure XII. 1 5 1 

And Dionysos, planter of the vine 
With old Poseidon from the barren sea, 
And Leto, and the lame Hephestos, he 
Himself who built those halls with skill divine. 

1 8. 

And ruddy Pan with many a quip and quirk 
Aired mong those lofty gods his mirth illbred, 
Bearing a mighty bowl of Cretan work, 
Stern Ares with his crisp hair helmeted, 
And grave retired Hestia, and the god 
Hermes, with winged cap and ribboned rod, 
By whom the company was heralded. 


And Hera sat by Zeus, and all around 
The Muses, that of learning make their choice; 
Who, when Apollo struck his strings to sound, 
Sang in alternate music with sweet voice : 
And righteous Themis, and the Graces three 
Followed, and Aphrodite last, for she 
Alone of all were there might not rejoice. 

152 Eros and Psyche. 


But at the banquet ere they sat to feast 
Zeus spake, and said u This marriage here to make 
Stays, from one hindrance first to be released, 
For Ares' and for Aphrodite's sake, 
Nay, for our common honour, lest their son, 
Who is as one of us, should mate with one 
That doth not of our heavenly life partake. 


(f Wherefore my purpose is that Psyche drink 
The cup ambrosial of immortal life, 
Which if we grant, the goddefs, as I think, 
Will not forbid her then for Eros' wife. 
Thus the mislike and discord, which had birth 
From too great honour, paid the bride on earth, 
May end, and therewithal all further strife." 


Then Aphrodite said "So let it be." 
And Psyche was brought in, with such a flush 
Of joy upon her face, as there to see 

Measure XII. 153 

Was fairer to love's eye than beauty's blush. 
And then she drank the eternal wine, whose draught 
Can Terror cease : which flesh hath never quaffed, 
Nor doth it flow from grapes that mortals crush. 


And next stood Eros forth, and took her hand, 
And kifsed her happy face before them all : 
And Zeus proclaimed them married, and outbanned 
From heaven whoever should that word miscall. 
And then all sat to feast, and one by one 
Pledged Psyche ere they drank and cried Well done ! 
And merry laughter rang throughout the hall. 


So thus was Eros unto Psyche wed, 
The heavenly bridegroom to his earthly bride, 
Who won his love, in simple maidenhead : 
And by her love herself she glorified, 
And him from wanton wildnefs disinclined ; 
Since in his love for her he came to find 
A joy unknown through all Olympus wide. 

154 E ros an d Psyche. 

And Psyche for her fall was quite forgiven, 

Since 'gainst herself when tempted to rebel, 
By others' malice on her ruin driven, 
Only of sweet simplicity she fell : 
Wherein who fall may fall unto the skies ; 
And being foolish she was yet most wise, 
And took her trials patiently and well. 


And Aphrodite since her full defeat 
Is kinder and lefs jealous than before, 
And smiling on them both, calls Psyche sweet ; 
But thinks her son lefs manly than of yore : 
Though still she holds his arm of some renown, 
When he goes smiting mortals up and down, 
Piercing their marrow with his weapons sore. 


So now in steadfast love and happy state 
They hold for aye their mansions in the sky, 
And kindly look on those in love who mate, 

Measure XII. 155 

And seek the peace themselves have won thereby : 
Whom gently Eros shooteth, and apart 
Keepeth for them from all his sheaf that dart 
Which Psyche in his chamber picked to try. 


Now in that same month Psyche bare a child, 
Who straight in heaven was named Hedone 
In mortal tongues by other letters styled ; 
Whom all to love, however named, agree : 
Whom in our noble English JOY we call, 
And honour them among us most of all, 
Whose happy children are as fair as she. 


It is my prayer that she may smile on all 
Who read my tale as she hath smiled on me. 


June 30, 1884. 


The foregoing poem pretends neither to originality 
nor loftinejs. The beautiful story is well known, and 
the version of Apuleius has been simply followed. Such 
variations and ornament as are introduced perhaps fall 
short of what a poetic reader might expefffrom a poet 
of this time. The location of the fable, a gentler 
handling of motive, and the substitution of Hellenism 
for latin vulgarity are examples of these liberties, 
which will be readily allowed; and this last in spite 
of matter in the story which would support the opinion 
that the Greek mind can have mingled but little in 
the authorship. If the consequent inconsistency should 
offend scholars they are requested to consider the in- 
sipidity of the alternative. The introduction of art 
into the palace of Eros is not intended to imply that 
he himself had delight in it, or understanding of it ; 
the palace was for Psyche s satisfaction : but it may 

Note. 157 

be doubted whether the works described are proper 
creations of Olympian or supermundane intelligence. 
The alternative is again insipid; and the dull furni- 
ture of Apuleius is probably an accident of the oriental 
source of the story ; but the addition made to Homer's 
description of Hera's drejs is an orientalism of the 
present writer. On the other hand, a reader unac- 
quainted with the clafsics is warned that many beau- 
ties of the poem are borrowed plumes ; and in the 
absence of notes .it may be well to refer generally to 
Father Homer, Pindar, Plato, Moschus, Callimachus, 
the Greek anthology, Lucian, Lucretius, Virgil, Dante 
(but let the reader of ~D ante observe that XI. 25. 4 
is a literal translation of Apuleius\ Petrarch, Botti- 
celli, 'Titian, Rafael, Spenser (from whom the first 
line of XII. 27 is transcribed in homage to his account 
of " Cupid and Psyche " in the Fairy gtueen), Wyatt, 
the mighty Shakespeare and others. The author has 
never read any English version of the story. The 
metre he has used before ; it is in his opinion the most 
pleasing form of the seven-line stanza, though hitherto 
neglected. 'The prosody is in the inconsistent manner 

158 Note. 

of the seventeenth century. As for the mediocrity of 
the verses attributed to Apollo, the responsibility lies 
with the god, the Pythonefs, Apuleius, or his old 
woman, ^he present translator may claim to have 
done them all a good turn by reducing their oracle from 
eight to seven lines. 

He has lastly to acknowledge the kindnefs of friends., 
some of whom have criticized and some amended his 
poem, while others now have persuaded him to allow 
them to publish it. For his own legion faults he begs 
the reader's indulgence. 

October, 1885. 

By ROBERT BRIDGES. Foolscap 8vo, hand-made 
paper. Price 4^. 


POEMS. A selection of Lyrical Poems from the press 
of the Rev. H. Daniel, Oxford. Price Ss. One 
hundred copies, all numbered. Sold by Mr. Gee, 
Bookseller, High Street, Oxford. A few copies for 





PR Bridges, Robert Seymour 
4161 Eros & Psyche