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She saw the inner form most bright and fair
And then,-she had a charm of strange device, Which, murmured on mute lips with tender tone, Could make that spirit mingle with her own.
For such a charm, when Tithon became gray ? Or how much, Venus, of thy silver heaven
Wouldst thou have yielded, ere Proserpina Had half (oh! why not all?) the debt forgiven Which dear Adonis had been doomed to pay,
witch who would have taught you it? The Heliad doth not know its value yet.
'Tis said in after times her spirit free
Knew what love was, and felt itself alone But holy Dian could not chaster be
Before she stooped to kiss Endymion, Than now this lady-like a sexless bee
Tasting all blossoms, and confined to none Among those mortal forms, the wizard-maiden Passed with an eye serene and heart unladen.
To those she saw most beautiful, she gave
Strange panacea in a crystal bowl. They drank in their deep sleep of that sweet wave,
And lived thenceforward as if some control,
Mightier than life, were in them; and the grave
Of such, when death oppressed the weary soul, Was as a green and over-arching bower Lit by the gems of many a starry flower.
For on the night that they were buried, she
Restored the embalmers' ruining and shook The light out of the funeral lamps, to be
A mimic day within that deathy nook ; And she unwound the woven imagery
Of second childhood's swaddling bands, and took The coffin, its last cradle, from its niche, And threw it with contempt into a ditch.
And there the body lay, age after
age, Mute, breathing, beating, warm, and undecaying, Like one asleep in a green hermitage,
With gentle sleep about its eyelids playing, And living in its dreams beyond the rage
Of death or life; while they were still arraying In liveries ever new the rapid, blind, And fleeting generations of mankind.
LXXII. And she would write strange dreams upon the brain
Of those who were less beautiful, and make All harsh and crooked purposes more vain
Than in the desert is the serpent's wake
Which the sand covers,—all his evil gain
The miser in such dreams would rise and shake Into a beggar's lap;—the lying scribe Would his own lies betray without a bribe.
The priests would write an explanation full,
Translating hieroglyphics into Greek, How the god Apis really was a bull,
And nothing more; and bid the herald stick The same against the temple doors, and pull
The old cant down; they licensed all to speak Whate'er they thought of hawks, and cats and geese, By pastoral letters to each diocese.
The king would dress an ape up in his crown
And robes, and seat him on his glorious seat, And on the right hand of the sunlike throne
Would place a gaudy mock-bird to repeat The chatterings of the monkey.--Every one
Of the prone courtiers crawled to kiss the feet Of their great Emperor when the morning came; And kissed—alas, how many kiss the same !
LXXV. The soldiers dreamed that they were blacksmiths,
and Walked out of quarters in somnambulism, Round the red anvils you might see them stand
Like Cyclopses in Vulcan's sooty abysm, Beating their swords to ploughshares ;-in a band
The gaolers sent those of the liberal schism Free through the streets of Memphis; much, I wis, To the annoyance of king Amasis.
And timid lovers who had been so coy,
They hardly knew whether they loved or not, Would rise out of their rest, and take sweet joy,
To the fulfilment of their inmost thought; And when next day the maiden and the boy
Met one another, both, like sinners caught, Blushed at the thing which each believed was done Only in fancy_till the tenth moon shone ;
And then the Witch would let them take no ill: Of
many thousand schemes which lovers find The Witch found one,—and so they took their fill
Of happiness in marriage warm and kind. Friends who, by practice of some envious skill,
Were torn apart, a wide wound, mind from mind! She did unite again with visions clear Of deep affection and of truth sincere.
These were the pranks she played among the cities
Of mortal men, and what she did to sprités And Gods, entangling them in her sweet ditties,
To do her will, and show their subtle slights, I will declare another time; for it is
A tale more fit for the weird winter nightsThan for these garish summer days, when we Scarcely believe much more than we can see.
TO THE MOON.
ART thou pale for weariness Of climbing heaven, and gazing on the earth,
Wandering companionless Among the stars that have a different birth, And ever-changing, like a joyless eye That finds no object worth its constancy?