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The engines of her pain, the tools
That shaped her sorrow, rocks and pools,
And airs that gently stir
The vernal leaves, she loved them still,
Nor ever taxed them with the ill
Which had been done to her.
A Barn her winter bed supplies ;
But, till the warmth of summer skies
And summer days is gone,
(And all do in this tale agree)
She sleeps beneath the greenwood tree,
And other home hath none.
An innocent life, yet far astray!
And Ruth will, long before her day,
Be broken down and old :
Sore aches she needs must have! but less
Of mind, than body's wretchedness,
From damp, and rain, and cold.
If she is prest by want of food,
She from her dwelling in the wood
Repairs to a road-side ;
And there she begs at one steep place
and down with easy pace The horsemen-travellers ride.
That oaten Pipe of hers is mute,
Or thrown away; but with a flute
Her loneliness she cheers :
This flute, made of a hemlock stalk,
At evening in his homeward walk
The Quantock Woodman hears.
I, too, have passed her on the hills
Setting her little water-mills
By spouts and fountains wild -
Such small machinery as she turned
Ere she had wept, ere she had mourned,
A young and happy Child !
Farewell! and when thy days are told,
Ill-fated Ruth! in hallowed mould
Thy corpse shall buried be;
For thee a funeral bell shall ring,
And all the congregation sing
A Christian psalm for thee.
“ With sacrifice before the rising morn
Vows have I made by fruitless hope inspired ;
And from the infernal Gods, mid shades forlorn
Of night, my slaughtered Lord have I required :
Celestial pity I again implore;
Restore him to my sight - great Jove, restore !”
So speaking, and by fervent love endowed
With faith, the Suppliant heavenward lifts her hands;
While, like the Sun emerging from a Cloud,
Her countenance brightens — and her eye expands ;
Her bosom heaves and spreads, her stature grows;
And she expects the issue in repose.
O terror! what hath she perceived? - O joy!
What doth she look on? — whom doth she behold?
Her hero slain upon the beach of Troy?
His vital presence
his corporeal mould ? It is — if sense deceive her not - 'tis He ! And a God leads him — winged Mercury!
Mild Hermes spake — and touched her with his wand
That calms all fear, “Such grace hath crowned thy prayer,
Laodamía! that at Jove's command
Thy Husband walks the paths of upper air:
He comes to tarry with thee three hours' space;
Accept the gift, behold him face to face !"
Forth sprang the impassioned Queen her Lord to clasp ;
Again that consummation she essayed ;
But unsubstantial Form eludes her grasp
As often as that eager grasp was made.
The Phantom parts — but parts to re-unite,
And re-assume his place before her sight.
“ Protesiláus, lo! thy guide is gone!
Confirm, I pray, the Vision with thy voice:
This is our Palace, - yonder is thy throne;
Speak, and the floor thou tread'st on will rejoice.
Not to appal me have the Gods bestowed
This precious boon, and blest a sad Abode."
“Great Jove, Laodamía! doth not leave
His gifts imperfect: — Spectre though I be,
I am not sent to scare thee or deceive;
But in reward of thy fidelity.
And something also did my worth obtain ;
For fearless virtue bringeth boundless gain.
“ Thou knowest, the Delphic oracle foretold
That the first Greek who touched the Trojan strand
Should die ; but me the threat could not withhold;
A generous cause a Victim did demand ;
And forth I leapt upon the sandy plain ;
A self-devoted chief — by Hector slain.'
“Supreme of Heroes – bravest, noblest, best!
Thy matchless courage I bewail no more,
Which then, when tens of thousands were deprest
By doubt, propelled thee to the fatal shore;
Thou found'st - and I forgive thee - here thou art
A nobler counsellor than my poor heart.
“But thou, though capable of sternest deed,
Wert kind as resolute, and good as brave;
And he, whose power restores thee, hath decreed
That thou should'st cheat the malice of the grave;
Redundant are thy locks, thy lips as fair
As when their breath enriched Thessalian air.
“ No Spectre greets me, - no vain Shadow this;
Come, blooming Hero, place thee by my side !
Give, on this well known couch, one nuptial kiss
To me, this day, a second time thy bride!”
Jove frowned in heaven: the conscious Parcæ threw
Upon those roseate lips a Stygian hue.
“ This visage tells thee that my doom is past :
Know, virtue were not virtue if the joys
Of sense were able to return as fast
And surely as they vanish. — Earth destroys
Those raptures duly Erebus disdains :
Calm pleasures there abide majestic pains.
“ Be taught, O faithful Consort, to control
Rebellious passion : for the Gods approve
The depth, and not the tumult, of the soul ;
A fervent, not ungovernable love.
Thy transports moderate; and meekly mourn
When I depart, for brief is my sojourn
“ Ah, wherefore ? — Did not Hercules by force
Wrest from the guardian Monster of the tomb
Alcestis, a reanimated Corse,
Given back to dwell on earth in vernal bloom?
Medea's spells dispersed the weight of years,
And Æson stood a Youth 'mid youthful peers.
“ The Gods to us are merciful — and they
Yet further may relent: for mightier far
Than strength of nerve and sinew, or the sway
Of magic potent over sun and star,
Is love, though oft to agony distrest,
And though his favourite seat be feeble Woman's breast.
“ But if thou goest, I follow — " “ Peace !” he said
She looked upon him and was calmed and cheered ;
The ghastly colour from his lips had fled ;
In his deportment, shape, and mien, appeared
Elysian beauty, melancholy grace,
Brought from a pensive though a happy place.
He spake of love, such love as Spirits feel
In worlds whose course is equable and pure;
No fears to beat away no strife to heal
The past unsighed for, and the future sure ;
Spake of heroic arts in graver mood
Revived, with finer harmony pursued ;