Front Page Titles (by Subject) THE WITCH OF ATLAS. - Posthumous Poems
THE WITCH OF ATLAS. - Percy Bysshe Shelley, Posthumous Poems 
Posthumous Poems (London: John and Henry L. Hunt, 1824).
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THE WITCH OF ATLAS.
- Before those cruel Twins, whom at one birth
- Incestuous Change bore to her father Time,
- Error and Truth, bad hunted from the earth
- All those bright natures which adorned its prime,
- And left us nothing to believe in, worth
- The pains of putting into learned rhyme,
- A lady-witch there lived on Atlas’ mountain
- Within a cavern by a secret fountain.
- Her mother was one of the Atlantides:
- The all-beholding Sun had ne’er beholden
- In his wide voyage o’er continents and seas
- So fair a creature, as she lay enfolden
- In the warm shadow of her loveliness;—
- He kissed her with his beams, and made all golden
- The chamber of grey rock in which she lay—
- She, in that dream of joy, dissolved away.
- ’Tis said, she was first changed into a vapour,
- And then into a cloud, such clouds as flit,
- Like splendour-winged moths about a taper,
- Round the red west when the sun dies in it:
- And then into a meteor, such as caper
- On hill-tops when the moon is in a fit;
- Then, into one of those mysterious stars
- Which hide themselves between the Earth and Mars.
- Ten times the Mother of the Months had bent
- Her bow beside the folding-star, and bidden
- With that bright sign the billows to indent
- The sea-deserted sand: like children chidden,
- At her command they ever came and went:—
- Since in that cave a dewy splendour hidden,
- Took shape and motion: with the living form
- Of this embodied Power, the cave grew warm.
- A lovely lady garmented in light
- From her own beauty—deep her eyes, as are
- Two openings of unfathomable night
- Seen through a tempest’s cloven roof—her hair
- Dark—the dim brain whirls dizzy with delight,
- Picturing her form; her soft smiles shone afar,
- And her low voice was heard like love, and drew
- All living things towards this wonder new.
- And first the spotted cameleopard came,
- And then the wise and fearless elephant;
- Then the sly serpent, in the golden flame
- Of his own volumes intervolved;—all gaunt
- And sanguine beasts her gentle looks made tame.
- They drank before her at her sacred fount;
- And every beast of beating heart grew bold,
- Such gentleness and power even to behold.
- The brinded lioness led forth her young,
- That she might teach them how they should forego
- Their inborn thirst of death; the pard unstrung
- His sinews at her feet, and sought to know
- With looks whose motions spoke without a tongue
- How he might be as gentle as the doe.
- The magic circle of her voice and eyes
- All savage natures did imparadise.
- And old Silenus, shaking a green stick
- Of lilies, and the wood-gods in a crew
- Came, blithe, as in the olive copses thick
- Cicadæ are, drunk with the noonday dew:
- And Driope and Faunus followed quick,
- Teazing the God to sing them something new,
- Till in this cave they found the lady lone,
- Sitting upon a seat of emerald stone.
- And Universal Pan, ’tis said, was there,
- And though none saw him,—through the adamant
- Of the deep mountains, through the trackless air,
- And through those living spirits, like a want
- He past out of his everlasting lair
- Where the quick heart of the great world doth pant,
- And felt that wondrous lady all alone,—
- And she felt him, upon her emerald throne.
- And every nymph of stream and spreading tree,
- And every shepherdess of Ocean’s flocks,
- Who drives her white waves over the green sea;
- And Ocean, with the brine on his grey locks,
- And quaint Priapus with his company
- All came, much wondering how the enwombed rocks
- Could have brought forth so beautiful a birth;—
- Her love subdued their wonder and their mirth.
- The herdsmen and the mountain maidens came,
- And the rude kings of pastoral Garamant—
- These spirits shook within them, as a flame
- Stirred by the air under a cavern gaunt:
- Pigmies, and Polyphemes, by many a name,
- Centaurs and Satyrs, and such shapes as haunt
- Wet clefts,—and lumps neither alive nor dead,
- Dog-headed, bosom-eyed and bird-footed.
- For she was beautiful: her beauty made
- The bright world dim, and every thing beside
- Seemed like the fleeting image of a shade:
- No thought of living spirit could abide,
- Which to her looks had ever been betrayed,
- On any object in the world so wide,
- On any hope within the circling skies,
- But on her form, and in her inmost eyes.
- Which when the lady knew, she took her spindle
- And twined three threads of fleecy mist, and three
- Long lines of light, such as the dawn may kindle
- The clouds and waves and mountains with, and she
- As many star-beams, ere their lamps could dwindle
- In the belated moon, wound skilfully;
- And with these threads a subtle veil she wove—
- A shadow for the splendour of her love.
- The deep recesses of her odorous dwelling
- Were stored with magic treasures—sounds of air,
- Which had the power all spirits of compelling,
- Folded in cells of chrystal silence there;
- Such as we hear in youth, and think the feeling
- Will never die—yet ere we are aware,
- The feeling and the sound are fled and gone,
- And the regret they leave remains alone.
- And there lay Visions swift, and sweet, and quaint,
- Each in its thin sheath like a chrysalis;
- Some eager to burst forth, some weak and faint
- With the soft burthen of intensest bliss;
- It is its work to bear to many a saint
- Whose heart adores the shrine which holiest is,
- Even Love’s—and others white, green, grey and black,
- And of all shapes—and each was at her beck.
- And odours in a kind of aviary
- Of ever-blooming Eden-trees she kept,
- Clipt in a floating net, a love-sick Fairy
- Had woven from dew-beams while the moon yet slept;
- As bats at the wired window of a dairy,
- They beat their vans; and each was an adept,
- When loosed and missioned, making wings of winds,
- To stir sweet thoughts or sad in destined minds.
- And liquors clear and sweet, whose healthful might
- Could medicine the sick soul to happy sleep,
- And change eternal death into a night
- Of glorious dreams—or if eyes needs must weep,
- Could make their tears all wonder and delight,
- She in her chrystal vials did closely keep:
- If men could drink of those clear vials, ’tis said
- The living were not envied of the dead.
- Her cave was stored with scrolls of strange device,
- The works of some Saturnian Archimage,
- Which taught the expiations at whose price
- Men from the Gods might win that happy age
- Too lightly lost, redeeming native vice;
- And which might quench the earth-consuming rage
- Of gold and blood—till men should live and move
- Harmonious as the sacred stars above.
- And how all things that seem untameable,
- Not to be checked and not to be confined,
- Obey the spells of wisdom’s wizard skill;
- Time, Earth and Fire—the Ocean and the Wind,
- And all their shapes—and man’s imperial will;
- And other scrolls whose writings did unbind
- The inmost lore of Love—let the prophane
- Tremble to ask what secrets they contain.
- And wondrous works of substances unknown,
- To which the enchantment of her father’s power
- Had changed those ragged blocks of savage stone,
- Were heaped in the recesses of her bower;
- Carved lamps and chalices, and phials which shone
- In their own golden beams—each like a flower,
- Out of whose depth a fire-fly shakes his light
- Under a cypress in a starless night.
- At first she lived alone in this wild home,
- And her own thoughts were each a minister,
- Clothing themselves or with the ocean-foam,
- Or with the wind, or with the speed of fire,
- To work whatever purposes might come
- Into her mind; such power her mighty Sire
- Had girt them with, whether to fly or run,
- Through all the regions which he shines upon.
- The Ocean-nymphs and Hamadryades,
- Oreads and Naiads with long weedy locks,
- Offered to do her bidding through the seas,
- Under the earth, and in the hollow rocks,
- And far beneath the matted roots of trees,
- And in the gnarled heart of stubborn oaks,
- So they might live forever in the light
- Of her sweet presence—each a satellite.
- “This may not be,” the wizard maid replied;
- “The fountains where the Naiades bedew
- Their shining hair, at length are drained and dried;
- The solid oaks forget their strength, and strew
- Their latest leaf upon the mountains wide;
- The boundless ocean, like a drop of dew
- Will be consumed—the stubborn centre must
- Be scattered, like a cloud of summer dust.
- “And ye with them will perish one by one:
- If I must sigh to think that this shall be,
- If I must weep when the surviving Sun
- Shall smile on your decay—Oh, ask not me
- To love you till your little race is run;
- I cannot die as ye must—over me
- Your leaves shall glance—the streams in which ye dwell
- Shall be my paths henceforth, and so, farewell!”
- She spoke and wept: the dark and azure well
- Sparkled beneath the shower of her bright tears,
- And every little circlet where they fell,
- Flung to the cavern-roof inconstant spheres
- And intertangled lines of light:—a knell
- Of sobbing voices came upon her ears
- From those departing Forms, o’er the serene
- Of the white streams and of the forest green.
- All day the wizard lady sat aloof
- Spelling out scrolls of dread antiquity
- Under the cavern’s fountain-lighted roof;
- Or broidering the pictured poesy
- Of some high tale upon her growing woof,
- Which the sweet splendour of her smiles could dye
- In hues outshining heaven—and ever she
- Added some grace to the wrought poesy.
- While on her hearth lay blazing many a piece
- Of sandal wood, rare gums and cinnamon;
- Men scarcely know how beautiful fire is,
- Each flame of it is as a precious stone
- Dissolved in ever moving light, and this
- Belongs to each and all who gaze upon.
- The Witch beheld it not, for in her hand
- She held a woof that dimmed the burning brand.
- This lady never slept, but lay in trance
- All night within the fountain—as in sleep.
- Its emerald crags glowed in her beauty’s glance:
- Through the green splendour of the water deep
- She saw the constellations reel and dance
- Like fire-flies—and withal did ever keep
- The tenour of her contemplations calm,
- With open eyes, closed feet and folded palm.
- And when the whirlwinds and the clouds descended
- From the white pinnacles of that cold hill,
- She past at dewfall to a space extended,
- Where in a lawn of flowering asphodel
- Amid a wood of pines and cedars blended,
- There yawned an inextinguishable well
- Of crimson fire, full even to the brim
- And overflowing all the margin trim.
- Within the which she lay when the fierce war
- Of wintry winds shook that innocuous liquor
- In many a mimic moon and bearded star,
- O’er woods and lawns—the serpent heard it flicker
- In sleep, and dreaming still, he crept afar—
- And when the windless snow descended thicker
- Than autumn leaves, she watched it as it came
- Melt on the surface of the level flame.
- She had a Boat which some say Vulcan wrought
- For Venus, as the chariot of her star;
- But it was found too feeble to be fraught
- With all the ardours in that sphere which are,
- And so she sold it, and Apollo bought,
- And gave it to this daughter: from a car
- Changed to the fairest and the lightest boat
- Which ever upon mortal stream did float.
- And others say, that when but three hours old,
- The first-born Love out of his cradle leapt,
- And clove dun Chaos with his wings of gold,
- And like an horticultural adept,
- Stole a strange seed, and wrapt it up in mould,
- And sowed it in his mother’s star, and kept
- Watering it all the summer with sweet dew,
- And with his wings fanning it as it grew.
- The plant grew strong and green—the snowy flower
- Fell, and the long and gourd-like fruit began
- To turn the light and dew by inward power
- To its own substance; woven tracery ran
- Of light firm texture, ribbed and branching, o’er
- The solid rind, like a leaf’s veined fan,
- Of which Love scooped this boat, and with soft motion
- Piloted it round the circumfluous ocean.
- This boat she moored upon her fount, and lit
- A living spirit within all its frame,
- Breathing the soul of swiftness into it.
- Couched on the fountain like a panther tame,
- One of the twain at Evan’s feet that sit;
- Or as on Vesta’s sceptre a swift flame,
- Or on blind Homer’s heart a winged thought,—
- In joyous expectation lay the boat.
- Then by strange art she kneaded fire and snow
- Together, tempering the repugnant mass
- With liquid love—all things together grow
- Through which the harmony of love can pass;
- And a fair Shape out of her hands did flow
- A living Image, which did far surpass
- In beauty that bright shape of vital stone
- Which drew the heart out of Pygmalion.
- A sexless thing it was, and in its growth
- It seemed to have developed no defect
- Of either sex, yet all the grace of both,—
- In gentleness and strength its limbs were decked;
- The bosom swelled lightly with its full youth,
- The countenance was such as might select
- Some artist that his skill should never die,
- Imaging forth such perfect purity.
- From its smooth shoulders hung two rapid wings,
- Fit to have borne it to the seventh sphere,
- Tipt with the speed of liquid lightnings,
- Dyed in the ardours of the atmosphere:
- She led her creature to the boiling springs
- Where the light boat was moored,—and said—“Sit here!”
- And pointed to the prow, and took her seat
- Beside the rudder with opposing feet.
- And down the streams which clove those mountains vast
- Around their inland islets, and amid
- The panther-peopled forests, whose shade cast
- Darkness and odours, and a pleasure hid
- In melancholy gloom, the pinnace past;
- By many a star-surrounded pyramid
- Of icy crag cleaving the purple sky,
- And caverns yawning round unfathomably.
- The silver noon into that winding dell,
- With slanted gleam athwart the forest tops,
- Tempered like golden evening, feebly fell;
- A green and glowing light, like that which drops
- From folded lilies in which glowworms dwell,
- When earth over her face night’s mantle wraps;
- Between the severed mountains lay on high
- Over the stream, a narrow rift of sky.
- And ever as she went, the Image lay
- With folded wings and unawakened eyes;
- And o’er its gentle countenance did play
- The busy dreams, as thick as summer flies,
- Chasing the rapid smiles that would not stay,
- And drinking the warm tears, and the sweet sighs
- Inhaling, which, with busy murmur vain,
- They had aroused from that full heart and brain.
- And ever down the prone vale, like a cloud
- Upon a stream of wind, the pinnace went:
- Now lingering on the pools, in which abode
- The calm and darkness of the deep content
- In which they paused; now o’er the shallow road
- Of white and dancing waters all besprent
- With sand and polished pebbles:—mortal boat
- In such a shallow rapid could not float.
- And down the earthquaking cataracts which shiver
- Their snow-like waters into golden air,
- Or under chasms unfathomable ever
- Sepulchre them, till in their rage they tear
- A subterranean portal for the river,
- It fled—the circling sunbows did upbear
- Its fall down the hoar precipice of spray,
- Lighting it far upon its lampless way.
- And when the wizard lady would ascend
- The labyrinths of some many winding vale,
- Which to the inmost mountain upward tend—
- She called “Hermaphroditus!” and the pale
- And heavy hue which slumber could extend
- Over its lips and eyes, as on the gale
- A rapid shadow from a slope of grass,
- Into the darkness of the stream did pass.
- And it unfurled its heaven-coloured pinions,
- With stars of fire spotting the stream below;
- And from above into the Sun’s dominions
- Flinging a glory, like the golden glow
- In which spring clothes her emerald-winged minions,
- All interwoven with fine feathery snow
- And moonlight splendour of intensest rime,
- With which frost paints the pines in winter time.
- And then it winnowed the Elysian air
- Which ever hung about that lady bright,
- With its ethereal vans—and speeding there,
- Like a star up the torrent of the night,
- Or a swift eagle in the morning glare
- Breasting the whirlwind with impetuous flight;
- The pinnace, oared by those enchanted wings,
- Clove the fierce streams towards their upper springs.
- The water flashed like sunlight, by the prow
- Of a noon-wandering meteor flung to Heaven;
- The still air seemed as if its waves did flow
- In tempest down the mountains,—loosely driven
- The lady’s radiant hair streamed to and fro:
- Beneath, the billows having vainly striven
- Indignant and impetuous, roared to feel
- The swift and steady motion of the keel.
- Or, when the weary moon was in the wane,
- Or in the noon of interlunar night,
- The lady-witch in visions could not chain
- Her spirit; but sailed forth under the light
- Of shooting stars, and bade extend amain
- His storm-outspeeding wings, th’ Hermaphrodite;
- She to the Austral waters took her way,
- Beyond the fabulous Thamondocona.
- Where, like a meadow which no scythe has shaven,
- Which rain could never bend, or whirl-blast shake
- With the Antarctic constellations haven,
- Canopus and his crew, lay th’ Austral lake—
- There she would build herself a windless haven
- Out of the clouds whose moving turrets make
- The bastions of the storm, when through the sky
- The spirits of the tempest thundered by.
- A haven, beneath whose translucent floor
- The tremulous stars sparkled unfathomably,
- And around which, the solid vapours hoar,
- Based on the level waters, to the sky
- Lifted their dreadful crags; and like a shore
- Of wintry mountains, inaccessibly
- Hemmed in with rifts and precipices grey,
- And hanging crags, many a cove and bay.
- And whilst the outer lake beneath the lash
- Of the winds’ scourge, foamed like a wounded thing;
- And the incessant hail with stony clash
- Ploughed up the waters, and the flagging wing
- Of the roused cormorant in the lightning flash
- Looked like the wreck of some wind-wandering
- Fragment of inky thundersmoke—this haven
- Was as a gem to copy Heaven engraven.
- On which that lady played her many pranks,
- Circling the image of a shooting star,
- Even as a tyger on Hydaspes’ banks
- Outspeeds the Antelopes which speediest are,
- In her light boat; and many quips and cranks
- She played upon the water; till the car
- Of the late moon, like a sick matron wan,
- To journey from the misty east began.
- And then she called out of the hollow turrets
- Of those high clouds, white, golden and vermilion,
- The armies of her ministering spirits—
- In mighty legions million after million
- They came, each troop emblazoning its merits
- On meteor flags; and many a proud pavilion,
- Of the intertexture of the atmosphere,
- They pitched upon the plain of the calm mere.
- They framed the imperial tent of their great Queen
- Of woven exhalations, underlaid
- With lambent lightning-fire, as may be seen
- A dome of thin and open ivory inlaid
- With crimson silk—cressets from the serene
- Hung there, and on the water for her tread,
- A tapestry of fleece-like mist was strewn,
- Dyed in the beams of the ascending moon.
- And on a throne o’erlaid with starlight, caught
- Upon those wandering isles of aëry dew,
- Which highest shoals of mountain shipwreck not,
- She sate, and heard all that had happened new
- Between the earth and moon since they had brought
- The last intelligence—and now she grew
- Pale as that moon, lost in the watery night—
- And now she wept, and now she laughed outright.
- These were tame pleasures.—She would often climb
- The steepest ladder of the crudded rack
- Up to some beaked cape of cloud sublime,
- And like Arion on the dolphin’s back
- Ride singing through the shoreless air. Oft time
- Following the serpent lightning’s winding track,
- She ran upon the platforms of the wind,
- And laughed to hear the fire-balls roar behind.
- And sometimes to those streams of upper air,
- Which whirl the earth in its diurnal round,
- She would ascend, and win the spirits there
- To let her join their chorus. Mortals found
- That on those days the sky was calm and fair,
- And mystic snatches of harmonious sound
- Wandered upon the earth where’er she past,
- And happy thoughts of hope, too sweet to last.
- But her choice sport was, in the hours of sleep,
- To glide adown old Nilus, when he threads
- Egypt and Æthiopia, from the steep
- Of utmost Axumè, until he spreads,
- Like a calm flock of silver-fleeced sheep,
- His waters on the plain: and crested heads
- Of cities and proud temples gleam amid
- And many a vapour-belted pyramid.
- By Mæris and the Mareotid lakes,
- Strewn with faint blooms like bridal chamber floors;
- Where naked boys bridling tame water-snakes,
- Or charioteering ghastly alligators,
- Had left on the sweet waters mighty wakes
- Of those huge forms:—within the brazen doors
- Of the great Labyrinth slept both boy and beast,
- Tired with the pomp of their Osirian feast.
- And where within the surface of the river
- The shadows of the massy temples lie,
- And never are erased—but tremble ever
- Like things which every cloud can doom to die,
- Through lotus-pav’n canals, and wheresoever
- The works of man pierced that serenest sky
- With tombs, and towers, and fanes, ’twas her delight
- To wander in the shadow of the night.
- With motion like the spirit of that wind
- Whose soft step deepens slumber, her light feet
- Past through the peopled haunts of human kind,
- Scattering sweet visions from her presence sweet,
- Through fane and palace-court and labyrinth mined
- With many a dark and subterranean street
- Under the Nile; through chambers high and deep
- She past, observing mortals in their sleep.
- A pleasure sweet doubtless it was to see
- Mortals subdued in all the shapes of sleep.
- Here lay two sister-twins in infancy;
- There, a lone youth who in his dreams did weep;
- Within, two lovers linked innocently
- In their loose locks which over both did creep
- Like ivy from one stem;—and there lay calm,
- Old age with snow-bright hair and folded palm.
- But other troubled forms of sleep she saw,
- Not to be mirrored in a holy song,
- Distortions foul of supernatural awe,
- And pale imaginings of visioned wrong,
- And all the code of custom’s lawless law
- Written upon the brows of old and young:
- “This,” said the wizard maiden, “is the strife,
- Which stirs the liquid surface of man’s life.”
- And little did the sight disturb her soul—
- We, the weak mariners of that wide lake
- Where’er its shores extend or billows roll,
- Our course unpiloted and starless make
- O’er its wild surface to an unknown goal—
- But she in the calm depths her way could take,
- Where in bright bowers immortal forms abide,
- Beneath the weltering of the restless tide.
- And she saw princes couched under the glow
- Of sunlike gems; and round each temple-court
- In dormitories ranged, row after row,
- She saw the priests asleep,—all of one sort,
- For all were educated to be so.—
- The peasants in their huts, and in the port
- The sailors she saw cradled on the waves,
- And the dead lulled within their dreamless graves.
- And all the forms in which those spirits lay,
- Were to her sight like the diaphanous
- Veils, in which those sweet ladies oft array
- Their delicate limbs, who would conceal from us
- Only their scorn of all concealment: they
- Move in the light of their own beauty thus.
- But these, and all now lay with sleep upon them,
- And little thought a Witch was looking on them.
- She all those human figures breathing there
- Beheld as living spirits—to her eyes
- The naked beauty of the soul lay bare,
- And often through a rude and worn disguise
- 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.
- Alas, Aurora! what wouldst thou have given
- For such a charm, when Tithon became grey?
- 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,
- To any 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 chrystal bowl.
- They drank in their deep sleep of that sweet wave,
- And lived thenceforth as if some controul
- Mightier than life, were in them; and the grave
- Of such, when death oppressed the weary soul,
- Was as a green and overarching 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.
- 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 desart 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 hieroglyphies 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!
- 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 jailors 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 sprites
- And Gods, entangling them in her sweet ditties
- To do her will, and shew their subtle slights,
- I will declare another time; for it is
- A tale more fit for the weïrd winter nights—
- Than for these garish summer days, when we
- Scarcely believe much more than we can see.