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Thy spheres, and as thy silver proxy shine ?
So sweetly to these ravish'd ears of mine
Came thy sweet greeting, that if thou shouldst fade
Thy memory will waste me to a shade.
For pity do not melt!” “If I should stay,"
Said Lamia, "here, upon this floor of clay,
And pain my steps upon these flowers too rough,
What canst thou say or do of charm enough
To dull the nice remembrance of my home?
Thou canst not ask me with thee here to roam
Over these hills and vales, where no joy is,-
Empty of immortality and bliss !
Thou art a scholar, Lycius, and must know
That finer spirits cannot breathe below
In human climes, and live. Alas! poor youth,
What taste of purer air hast thou to soothe
My essence? What serener palaces,
Where I may all my many senses please
And by mysterious sleights a hundred thirsts
It cannot be — adieu !” So said, she rose
Tiptoe, with white arms spread. He, sick to lose
The amorous promise of her lone complain,
Swoon'd murmuring of love and pale with pain.
The cruel lady, without any show
Of sorrow for her tender favourite's woe,
But rather, if her eyes could brighter be,
With brighter eyes and slow amenity,
Put her new lips to his, and gave afresh
The life she had so tangled in her mesh :
And as he from one trance was wakening
Into another, she began to sing,
Happy in beauty, life, and love, and everything,
A song of love, too sweet for earthly lyres,
While, like held breath, the stars drew in their
And then she whisper'd in such trembling tone
As those who, safe together met alone
For the first time through many anguish'd days,
Use other speech than looks; bidding him raise
His drooping head, and clear his soul of doubt,
For that she was a woman, and without
Any more subtle fluid in her veins
Than throbbing blood, and that the self-same pains
Inhabited her frail-strung heart as his.
And next she wonder'd how his eyes could miss
Her face so long in Corinth, where, she said,
She dwelt but half retired, and there had led
Days happy as the gold coin could invent
Without the aid of love; yet in content,
Till she saw him, as once she pass'd him by
Where 'gainst a column he leant thoughtfully
At Venus' temple porch, 'mid baskets heap'd
Of amorous herbs and flowers, newly reap'd
Late on that eve, as 'twas the night before
The Adonian feast; whereof she saw no more,
But wept alone those days,- for why should she
Lycius from death awoke into amaze
To see her still, and singing so sweet lays;
Then from amaze into delight he fell
To hear her whisper woman's lore so well;
And every word she spake enticed him on
To unperplex'd delight and pleasure known.
Let the mad poets say whate'er they please
Of the sweets of Fairies, Peris, Goddesses,
There is not such a treat among them all —
Haunters of cavern, lake, and waterfall -
As a real women, lineal indeed
From Pyrrha's pebbles or old Adam's seed.
Thus gentle Lamia judged, and judged aright,
That Lycius could not love in half a fright,
So threw the goddess off, and won his heart
More pleasantly by playing woman's part,
With no more awe than what her beauty gave,
That, while it smote, still guaranteed to save.
Lycius to all made eloquent reply,
Marrying to every word a twin-born sigh;
And last, pointing to Corinth, ask'd her sweet,
If 'twas too far that night for her soft feet.
The way was short, for Lamia's eagerness
Made, by a spell, the triple league decrease
To a few paces; not at all surmised
By blinded Lycius. So, in her comprised,
They pass'd the city gates, he knew not how,
So noiseless, and he never thought to know.
As men talk in a dream, so Corinth all, Throughout her palaces imperial, And all her populous streets and temples lewd, Mutter'd, like tempest in the distance brew'd, To the widespreaded night above her towers. Men, women, rich and poor, in the cool hours, Shuffled their sandals o'er the pavement white, Companion'd or alone; while many á light Flared, here and there, from wealthy festivals, And threw their moving shadows on the walls, Or found them cluster'd in the corniced shade Of some arch'd temple door or dusky colonnade.
Muffling his face, of greeting friends in fear, Her fingers he press'd hard, as one came near With curl'd grey beard, sharp eyes, and smooth
bald crown. Slow-stepp'd, and robed in philosophic gown: Lycius shrank closer, as they met and past, Into his mantle, adding wings to haste, While hurried Lamia trembled. “Ah!” said he, “Why do you shudder, love, so ruefully? Why does your tender palm dissolve in dew ?"“I'm wearied,” said fair Lamia: “tell me who Is that old man ? I cannot bring to mind His features :- Lycius! wherefore did you blind Yourself from his quick eyes ?” Lycius replied, “ 'Tis Apollonius sage, my trusty guide And good instructor; but to-night he seems The ghost of Folly haunting my sweet dreams."
While yet he spake they had arrived before A pillar'd porch, with lofty portal door, Where hung a silver lamp, whose phosphor glow Reflected in the slabbed steps below, Mild as a star in water; for so new And so unsullied was the marble hue, So through the crystal polish, liquid fine, Ran the dark veins, that none but feet divine Could e'er have touch'd there. Sounds Æolian Breathed from the hinges, as the ample span Of the wide doors disclosed a place unknown Some time to any but those two alone, And a few Persian mutes, who that same year Were seen about the markets: none knew where They could inhabit; the most curious
Were foil'd, who watch'd to trace them to their house:
And but the flitter-winged verse must tell,
For truth's sake what woe afterwards befell,
'Twould humour many a heart to leave them thus,
Shut from the busy world of more incredulous.
OVE in a hut, with water and a crust,
Is-Love, forgive us !--cinders, ashes, dust; Love in a palace is perhaps at last More grievous torment than a hermit's fast :That is a doubtful tale from faery land, Hard for the non-elect to understand. Had Lycius lived to hand his story down, He might have given the moral a fresh frown, Or clench'd it quite: but too short was their bliss To breed distrust and hate, that make the soft voice
hiss. Besides, there, nightly, with terrific glare, Love, jealous grown of so complete a pair, Hover'd and buzz'd his wings, with fearful roar, Above the lintel of their chamber door, And down the passage cast a glow upon the floor.
For all this came a ruin : side by side
They were enthroned, in the even tide,
Upon a couch, near to a curtaining
Whose airy texture, from a golden string,
Floated into the room, and let appear
Unveil'd the summer heaven, blue and clear,