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Sal. Go, feed on icicles, while we
Bedded in tongue-flames will be.
Dus. Lead me to these feverous glooms,
Sprite of Fire !
Me to the blooms,
Blue-eyed Zephyr, of those flowers
Far in the west where the May-cloud lowers :
And the beams of still Vesper, when winds are all
Are shed thro' the rain and the milder mist,
And twilight your floating bowers.
ONE morn before me were three figures seen,
With bowed necks, and joined hands, side-faced ;
And one behind the other stepp'd serene,
In placid sandals, and in white robes graced ;
They pass’d, like figures on a marble urn,
When shifted round to see the other side ;
They came again; as when the urn once more
Is shifted round, the first seen shades return; And they were strange to me, as may betide With vases, to one deep in Phidian lore.
How is it, Shadows ! that I knew ye not ?
How came ye muffled in so hush a mask ?
Was it a silent deep-disguised plot
To steal away, and leave without a task
My idle days ? Ripe was the drowsy hour;
The blissful cloud of summer-indolence Benumb’d my eyes; my pulse grew less and less ;
Pain had no sting, and pleasure's wreath no flower: O, why did ye not melt, and leave my sense Unhaunted quite of all but-nothingness ?
A third time pass'd they by, and, passing, turn'd
Each one the face a moment whiles to me;
Then faded, and to follow them I burn'd
And ached for wings, because I knew the three;
The first was a fair Maid, and Love her name;
The second was Ambition, pale of cheek,
And ever watchful with fatigued eye;
The last, whom I love more, the more of blame
Is heap'd upon her, maiden most unmeek,–
I knew to be my demon Poesy.
They faded, and, forsooth! I wanted wings :
O folly! What is Love? and where is it?
And for that poor Ambition ! it springs
From a man's little heart's short fever-fit;
For Poesy !-10,--she has not a joy,-
At least for me, -So sweet as drowsy noons,
And evenings steep'd in honied indolence;
O, for an age so shelter'd from annoy,
That I may never know how change the moons,
Or hear the voice of busy common-sense!
And once more came they by ;-alas ! wherefore ?
My sleep had been embroider'd with dim dreams; My soul had been a lawn besprinkled o'er With flowers, and stirring shades, and baffled beams :
The morn was clouded, but no shower fell,
Tho' in her lids hung the sweet tears of May ; The open casement press'd a new-leaved vine, Let in the budding warmth and throstle's lay ;
O Shadows! 'twas a time to bid farewell ! Upon your skirts had fallen no tears of mine.
So, ye three Ghosts, adieu! Ye cannot raise
My head cool-bedded in the flowery grass ;
For I would not be dieted with praise,
A pet-lamb in a sentimental farce !
Fade softly from my eyes, and be once more In masque-like figures on the dreamy urn; Farewell! I yet have visions for the night,
And for the day faint visions there is store ; Vanish, ye Phantoms! from my idle spright, Into the clouds, and never more return !
Upon a Sabbath-day it fell ;
Twice holy was the Sabbath-bell,
That call'd the folk to evening prayer;
The city streets were clean and fair
From wholesome drench of April rains,
And, on the western window panes,
The chilly sunset faintly told
Of unmatured green, valleys cold,
Of the green thorny bloomless hedge,
Of rivers new with spring-tide sedge,
Of primroses by shelter'd rills,
And dasies on the aguish hills.
Twice holy was the Sabbath-bell:
The silent streets were crowded well
With staid and pious companies,
Warm from their fireside orat’ries;
And moving, with demurest air,
vesper prayer. Each arched porch, and entry low, Was fill’d with patient folk and slow, With whispers hush, and shuffling feet, While play'd the organ loud and sweet.
The bells had ceased, the prayers begun,
And Bertha had not yet half done
A curious volume, patch'd and torn,
That all day long, from earliest morn,
Had taken captive her two eyes,
Among its golden broideries ;
Perplex'd her with a thousand things,-
The stars of Heaven, and angels' wings,
Martyrs in a fiery blaze,
Azure saints and silver rays,
Moses' breastplate, and the seven
Candlesticks John saw in Heaven,
The winged Lion of Saint Mark,
And the Covenantal Ark,
With its many mysteries,
Cherubim and golden mice.
Bertha was a maiden fair,
Dwelling in th’ old Minster-square ;
From her fireside she could see,
Sidelong, its rich antiquity,
Far as the Bishop's garden-wall;
Where sycamores and elm-trees tall,
Full-leaved, the forest had outstript,
By no sharp north-wind ever nipt,
So shelter'd by the mighty pile,
Bertha arose, and read awhile,
With forehead 'gainst the window-pane.
Again she tried, and then again,
Until the dusk eve left her dark
Upon the legend of St. Mark.
From plaited lawn-frill, fine and thin,
She lifted up her soft warm chin,
With aching neck and swimming eyes
And dazed with saintly imag'ries.
All was gloom, and silent all,
Save now and then the still foot-fall
Of one returning homewards late,
Past the echoing minster-gate.
The clamorous daws, that all the day
Above tree-tops and towers play,
Pair by pair had gone to rest,
Each in its ancient belfry-nest,
Where asleep they fall betimes,
To music and the drowsy chimes.
All was silent, all was gloom,
Abroad and in the homely room:
Down she sat, poor cheated soul !
And struck a lamp from the dismal coal;
Leaned forward, with bright drooping hair
And slant book, full against the glare.
Her shadow, in uneasy guise,
Hover'd about, a giant size,
On ceiling-beam and old oak chair,
The parrot's cage, and panel square;
And the warm angled winter-screen,
On which were many monsters seen,
Call'd doves of Siam, Lima mice,
And legless birds of Paradise,
Macaw, and tender Av’davat,
And silken-furr'd Angora cat.
Untired she read, her shadow still
Glower'd about, as it would fill