Page images
PDF
EPUB

The wind sounds like a silver wire,
And from beyond the noon a fire
Is pour'd upon the hills, and nigher
The skies stoop down in their desire;
And, isled in sudden seas of light,

My heart, pierced thro' with fierce delight,
Bursts into blossom in his sight.
My whole soul waiting silently,
All naked in a sultry sky,

Droops blinded with his shining eye:
I will possess him or will die.

(1853)

I will grow round him in his place,
Grow, live, die looking on his face,
Die, dying clasp'd in his embrace.

LXXII

CENONE

THERE lies a vale in Ida, lovelier
Than all the valleys of Ionian hills.

The swimming vapour slopes athwart the glen,
Puts forth an arm, and creeps from pine to pine,
And loiters, slowly drawn. On either hand
The lawns and meadow-ledges midway down
Hang rich in flowers, and far below them roars
The long brook falling thro' the clov'n ravine
In cataract after cataract to the sea.
Behind the valley topmost Gargarus

Stands up and takes the morning: but in front
The gorges, opening wide apart, reveal

Troas and Ilion's column'd citadel,

The crown of Troas.

Hither came at noon

Mournful Enone, wandering forlorn

Of Paris, once her playmate on the hills.

Her cheek had lost the rose and round her neck
Floated her hair or seem'd fo float in rest.

She, leaning on a fragment twined with vine,
Sang to the stillness, till the mountain-shade
Sloped downward to her seat from the upper cliff.

“O mother Ida, many-fountain'd Ida, Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.

[ocr errors]

1.) addition

For now the noonday quiet holds the hill:,
The grasshopper is silent in the grass:
The lizard, with his shadow on the stone,
Rests like a shadow, and the cicala sleeps.
The purple flowers droop: the golden bee
Is lily-cradled: I alone awake.

My eyes are full of tears, my heart of love,
My heart is breaking, and my eyes are dim,
And I am all aweary of my life.

"O mother Ida, many-fountain'd Ida, Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.

Hear me O Earth, hear me O Hills, O Caves

[ocr errors]

That house the cold crown'd snake! O mountain brooks,

I am the daughter of a River-God,

Hear me, for I will speak, and build up all
My sorrow with my song, as yonder walls
Rose slowly to a music slowly breathed,
A cloud that gather'd shape: for it may be
That, while I speak of it, a little while
My heart may wander from its deeper woe.

"O mother Ida, many-fountain'd Ida,
Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.
I waited underneath the dawning hills,)
Aloft the mountain lawn was dewy-dark,
And dewy-dark aloft the mountain pine:
Beautiful Paris, evil-hearted Paris,

[ocr errors]

Leading a jet-black goat white-horn'd, white-hooved,
Came up from reedy Simois all alone.

"O mother Ida, harken ere I die. Far-off the torrent call'd me from the cleft: Far up the solitary morning smote

The streaks of virgin snow. With down-dropt eyes

I sat alone: white-breasted like a star

Fronting the dawn he moved; a leopard skin
Droop'd from his shoulder, but his sunny hair
Cluster'd about his temples like a God's ;

And his cheek brighten'd as the foam-bow brightens
When the wind blows the foam, and all my heart
Went forth to embrace him coming ere he came.

"Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.

He smiled, and opening out his milk-white palm

[ocr errors]

33

Disclosed a fruit of pure Hesperian gold,
That smelt ambrosially, and while I look'd
And listen'd, the full-flowing river of speech
Came down upon my heart.

"My own none, Beautiful-brow'd Enone, my own soul,

Behold this fruit, whose gleaming rind ingrav’n
"For the most fair," would seem to award it thine,
As lovelier than whatever Oread haunt
The knolls of Ida, loveliest in all grace
Of movement, and the charm of married brows.'

"Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die. He prest the blossom of his lips to mine, And added 'This was cast upon the board, When all the full-faced presence of the Gods Ranged in the halls of Peleus; whereupon Rose feud, with question unto whom 'twere due: But light-foot Iris brought it yester-eve, Delivering, that to me, by common voice Elected umpire, Herè comes to-day, Pallas and Aphrodite, claiming each This meed of fairest. Thou, within the cave Behind yon whispering tuft of oldest pine, Mayst well behold them unbeheld, unheard Hear all, and see thy Paris judge of Gods.'

"Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die. It was the deep midnoon: one silvery cloud Had lost his way between the piney sides

Of this long glen.

Then to the bower they came, Naked they came to that smooth-swarded bower,

And at their feet the crocus brake like fire,
Violet, amaracus, and asphodel,

Lotos and lilies: and a wind arose,

And overhead the wandering ivy and vine,

This way and that, in many a wild festoon

Ran riot, garlanding the gnarled boughs

With bunch and berry and flower thro' and thro'.

"O mother Ida, harken ere I die.

On the tree-tops a crested peacock lit,
And o'er him flow'd a golden cloud, and lean'd
Upon him, slowly dropping fragrant dew.
Then first I heard the voice of her, to whom

Coming thro' Heaven, like a light that grows
Larger and clearer, with one mind the Gods
Rise up for reverence. She to Paris made
Proffer of royal power, ample rule
Unquestion'd, overflowing revenue

Wherewith to embellish state, 'from many a vale
And river-sunder'd champaign clothed with corn,
Or labour'd mines undrainable of ore.

Honour,' she said, 'and homage, tax and toll,
From many an inland town and haven large,
Mast-throng'd beneath her shadowing citadel
In glassy bays among her tallest towers.'

"O mother Ida, harken ere I die.

Still she spake on and still she spake of power,
'Which in all action is the end of all;
Power fitted to the season; wisdom-bred

And throned of wisdom-from all neighbour crowns
Alliance and allegiance, till thy hand

Fail from the sceptre-staff. Such boon from me,
From me, Heaven's Queen, Paris, to thee king-born,
A shepherd all thy life but yet king-born,
Should come most welcome, seeing men, in power
Only, are likest gods, who have attain'd
Rest in a happy place and quiet seats
Above the thunder, with undying bliss
In knowledge of their own supremacy.'

"Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die. She ceased, and Paris held the costly fruit. Out at arm's-length, so much the thought of power Flatter'd his spirit; but Pallas where she stood Somewhat apart, her clear and bared limbs O'erthwarted with the brazen-headed spear Upon her pearly shoulder leaning cold, The while, above, her full and earnest eye Over her snow-cold breast and angry cheek Kept watch, waiting decision, made reply.

"Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control,
These three alone lead life to sovereign power.
Yet not for power, (power of herself
Would come uncall'd for) but to live by law,
Acting the law we live by without fear;

And, because right is right, to follow right
Were wisdom in the scorn of consequence.'

"Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.
Again she said: 'I woo thee not with gifts.
Sequel of guerdon could not alter me
To fairer. Judge thou me by what I am,
So shalt thou find me fairest.

If gazing on divinity disrobed

Yet, indeed,

Thy mortal eyes are frail to judge of fair,
Unbiass'd by self-profit, oh! rest thee sure
That I shall love thee well and cleave to thee,
So that my vigour, wedded to thy blood,
Shall strike within thy pulses, like a God's,
To push thee forward thro' a life of shocks,
Dangers, and deeds, until endurance grow
Sinew'd with action, and the full-grown will,
Circled thro' all experiences, pure law,
Commeasure perfect freedom.'

"Here she ceased,
And Paris ponder'd, and I cried, 'O Paris,
Give it to Pallas!' but he heard me not,
Or hearing would not hear me, woe is me!

"O mother Ida, many-fountain'd Ida, Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die. Idalian Aphrodite beautiful,

Fresh as the foam, new-bathed in Paphian wells,
With rosy slender fingers backward drew

From her warm brows and bosom her deep hair
Ambrosial, golden round her lucid throat
And shoulder: from the violets her light foot
Shone rosy-white, and o'er her rounded form
Between the shadows of the vine-bunches
Floated the glowing sunlights, as she moved.

"Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die. She with a subtle smile in her mild eyes, The herald of her triumph, drawing nigh Half-whisper'd in his ear, 'I promise thee The fairest and most loving wife in Greece.' She spoke and laugh'd: I shut my sight for fear: But when I look'd, Paris had raised his arm, And I beheld great Here's angry eyes,

« PreviousContinue »