Front Page Titles (by Subject) TRANSLATIONS. - Posthumous Poems
TRANSLATIONS. - Percy Bysshe Shelley, Posthumous Poems 
Posthumous Poems (London: John and Henry L. Hunt, 1824).
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HYMN TO MERCURY.
TRANSLATED FROM THE GREEK OF HOMER
- Sing, Muse, the son of Maia and of Jove,
- The Herald-child, king of Arcadia
- And all its pastoral hills, whom in sweet love
- Having been interwoven, modest May
- Bore Heaven’s dread Supreme—an antique grove
- Shadowed the cavern where the lovers lay
- In the deep night, unseen by Gods or Men,
- And white-armed Juno slumbered sweetly then.
- Now, when the joy of Jove had its fulfiling,
- And Heaven’s tenth moon chronicled her relief,
- She gave to light a babe all babes excelling,
- A schemer subtle beyond all belief;
- A shepherd of thin dreams, a cow-stealing,
- A night-watching, and door-waylaying thief,
- Who mongst the Gods was soon about to thieve
- And other glorious actions to achieve.
- The babe was born at the first peep of day;
- He began playing on the lyre at noon,
- And the same evening did he steal away
- Apollo’s herds;—the fourth day of the moon
- On which him bore the venerable May,
- From her immortal limbs he leaped full soon,
- Nor long could in the sacred cradle keep,
- But out to seek Apollo’s herds would creep.
- Out of the lofty cavern wandering
- He found a tortoise, and cried out—“A treasure!”
- (For Mercury first made the tortoise sing)
- The beast before the portal at his leisure
- The flowery herbage was depasturing,
- Moving his feet in a deliberate measure
- Over the turf. Jove’s profitable son
- Eyeing him laughed, and laughing thus begun:—
- “A useful god-send are you to me now,
- King of the dance, companion of the feast,
- Lovely in all your nature! Welcome, you
- Excellent plaything! Where, sweet mountain beast,
- Got you that speckled shell? Thus much I know,
- You must come home with me and be my guest;
- You will give joy to me, and I will do
- All that is in my power to honour you.
- “Better to be at home than out of door;—
- So come with me, and though it has been said
- That you alive defend from magic power,
- I know you will sing sweetly when you’re dead.”
- Thus having spoken, the quaint infant bore,
- Lifting it from the grass on which it fed,
- And grasping it in his delighted hold,
- His treasured prize into the cavern old.
- Then scooping with a chisel of grey steel
- He bored the life and soul out of the beast—
- Not swifter a swift thought of woe or weal
- Darts through the tumult of a human breast
- Which thronging cares annoy—not swifter wheel
- The flashes of its torture and unrest
- Out of the dizzy eyes—than Maia’s son
- All that he did devise hath featly done.
- And through the tortoise’s hard strong skin
- At proper distances small holes he made,
- And fastened the cut stems of reeds within,
- And with a piece of leather overlaid
- The open space and fixed the cubits in,
- Fitting the bridge to both, and stretched o’er all
- Symphonious cords of sheep gut rhythmical.
- When he had wrought the lovely instrument,
- He tried the chords, and made division meet
- Preluding with the plectrum, and there went
- Up from beneath his hand a tumult sweet
- Of mighty sounds, and from his lips he sent
- A strain of unpremeditated wit
- Joyous and wild and wanton—such you may
- Hear among revellers on a holiday.
- He sung how Jove and May of the bright sandal
- Dallied in love not quite legitimate;
- And his own birth, still scoffing at the scandal,
- And naming his own name, did celebrate;
- His mother’s cave and servant maids he planned all
- In plastic verse, her household stuff and state,
- Perennial pot, trippet, and brazen pan,—
- But singing he conceived another plan.
- Seized with a sudden fancy for fresh meat,
- He in his sacred crib deposited
- The hollow lyre, and from the cavern sweet
- Rushed with great leaps up to the mountain’s head,
- Revolving in his mind some subtle feat
- Of thievish craft, such as a swindler might
- Devise in the lone season of dun night.
- Lo! the great Sun under the ocean’s bed has
- Driven steeds and chariot—the child meanwhile strode
- O’er the Pierian mountains clothed in shadows,
- Where the immortal oxen of the God
- Are pastured in the flowering unmown meadows,
- And safely stalled in a remote abode—
- The archer Argicide, elate and proud,
- Drove fifty from the herd, lowing aloud.
- He drove them wandering o’er the sandy way,
- But, being ever mindful of his craft,
- Backward and forward drove he them astray,
- So that the tracks which seemed before, were aft;
- His sandals then he threw to the ocean spray,
- And for each foot he wrought a kind of raft
- Of tamarisk, and tamarisk-like sprigs,
- And bound them in a lump with withy twigs.
- And on his feet he tied these sandals light,
- The trail of whose wide leaves might not betray
- His track; and then, a self-sufficing wight,
- Like a man hastening on some distant way,
- He from Piera’s mountain bent his flight;
- But an old man perceived the infant pass
- Down green Onchestus heaped like beds with grass.
- The old man stood dressing his sunny vine:
- “Halloo! old fellow with the crooked shoulder!
- You grub those stumps? before they will bear wine
- Methinks even you must grow a little older:
- Attend, I pray, to this advice of mine,
- As you would ’scape what might appal a bolder—
- Seeing, see not—and hearing, hear not—and—
- If you have understanding—understand.”
- So saying, Hermes roused the oxen vast;
- O’er shadowy mountain and resounding dell,
- And flower-paven plains, great Hermes past;
- Till the black night divine, which favouring fell
- Around his steps, grew grey, and morning fast
- Wakened the world to work, and from her cell
- Sea-strewn, the Pallantean Moon sublime
- Into her watch-tower just began to climb.
- Now to Alpheus he had driven all
- The broad-foreheaded oxen of the Sun;
- They came unwearied to the lofty stall
- And to the water troughs which ever run
- Through the fresh fields—and when with rushgrass tall,
- Lotus and all sweet herbage, every one
- Had pastured been, the great God made them move
- Towards the stall in a collected drove.
- A mighty pile of wood the God then heaped,
- And having soon conceived the mystery
- Of fire, from two smooth laurel branches stript
- The bark, and rubbed them in his palms,—on high
- Suddenly forth the burning vapour leapt,
- And the divine child saw delightedly—
- Mercury first found out for human weal
- Tinder-box, matches, fire-irons, flint and steel.
- And fine dry logs and roots innumerous
- He gathered in a delve upon the ground—
- And kindled them—and instantaneous
- The strength of the fierce flame was breathed around:
- And whilst the might of glorious Vulcan thus
- Wrapt the great pile with glare and roaring sound,
- Hermes dragged forth two heifers, lowing loud,
- Close to the fire—such might was in the God.
- And on the earth upon their backs he threw
- The panting beasts, and rolled them o’er and o’er,
- And bored their lives out. Without more ado
- He cut up fat and flesh, and down before
- The fire, on spits of wood he placed the two,
- Toasting their flesh and ribs, and all the gore
- Pursed in the bowels; and while this was done
- He stretched their hides over a craggy stone.
- We mortals let an ox grow old, and then
- Cut it up after long consideration,—
- But joyous-minded Hermes from the glen
- Drew the fat spoils to the more open station
- Of a flat smooth space, and portioned them; and when
- He had by lot assigned to each a ration
- Of the twelve Gods, his mind became aware
- Of all the joys which in religion are.
- For the sweet savour of the roasted meat
- Tempted him though immortal. Nathelesse
- He checked his haughty will and did not eat,
- Though what it cost him words can scarce express,
- And every wish to put such morsels sweet
- Down his most sacred throat, he did repress;
- But soon within the lofty portalled stall
- He placed the fat and flesh and bones and all.
- And every trace of the fresh butchery
- And cooking, the God soon made disappear,
- As if it all had vanished through the sky;
- He burned the hoofs and horns and head and hair,
- The insatiate fire devoured them hungrily;—
- And when he saw that everything was clear,
- He quenched the coals and trampled the black dust,
- And in the stream his bloody sandals tossed.
- All night he worked in the serene moonshine—
- But when the light of day was spread abroad
- He sought his natal mountain peaks divine.
- On his long wandering, neither man nor god
- Had met him, since he killed Apollo’s kine,
- Nor house-dog had barked at him on his road;
- Now he obliquely through the key-hole past,
- Like a thin mist, or an autumnal blast.
- Right through the temple of the spacious cave
- He went with soft light feet—as if his tread
- Fell not on earth; no sound their falling gave;
- Then to his cradle he crept quick, and spread
- The swaddling-clothes about him; and the knave
- Lay playing with the covering of the bed
- With his left hand about his knees—the right
- Held his beloved tortoise-lyre tight.
- There he lay innocent as a new born child,
- As gossips say; but though he was a god,
- The goddess, his fair mother, unbeguiled
- Knew all that he had done being abroad:
- “Whence come you, and from what adventure wild,
- You cunning rogue, and where have you abode
- All the long night, clothed in your impudence?
- What have you done since you departed hence?
- “Apollo soon will pass within this gate
- And bind your tender body in a chain
- Inextricably tight, and fast as fate,
- Unless you can delude the God again,
- Even when within his arms—ah, runagate!
- A pretty torment both for gods and men
- Your father made when he made you!”—“Dear mother,”
- Replied sly Hermes, “Wherefore scold and bother?
- “As if I were like other babes as old,
- And understood nothing of what is what;
- And cared at all to hear my mother scold.
- I in my subtle brain a scheme have got,
- Which whilst the sacred stars round Heaven are rolled
- Will profit you and me—nor shall our lot
- Be as you counsel, without gifts or food,
- To spend our lives in this obscure abode.
- “But we will leave this shadow-peopled cave
- And live among the Gods, and pass each day
- In high communion, sharing what they have
- Of profuse wealth and unexhausted prey;
- And from the portion which my father gave
- To Phœbus, I will snatch my share away,
- Which if my father will not—nathelesse I,
- Who am the king of robbers, can but try.
- “And, if Latona’s son should find me out,
- I’ll countermine him by a deeper plan;
- I’ll pierce the Pythian temple-walls, though stout,
- And sack the fane of every thing I can—
- Cauldrons and tripods of great worth no doubt,
- Each golden cup and polished brazen pan,
- All the wrought tapestries and garments gay.”—
- So they together talked;—meanwhile the Day
- Ætherial born arose out of the flood
- Of flowing Ocean, bearing light to men.
- Apollo past toward the sacred wood,
- Which from the inmost depths of its green glen
- Echoes the voice of Neptune,—and there stood
- On the same spot in green Onchestus then
- That same old animal, the vine-dresser,
- Who was employed hedging his vineyard there.
- Latona’s glorious Son began:—“I pray
- Tell, ancient hedger of Onchestus green,
- Whether a drove of kine has past this way,
- All heifers with crooked horns? for they have been
- Stolen from the herd in high Pieria,
- Where a black bull was fed apart, between
- Two woody mountains in a neighbouring glen,
- And four fierce dogs watched there, unanimous as men.
- “And, what is strange, the author of this theft
- Has stolen the fatted heifers every one,
- But the four dogs and the black bull are left:—
- Stolen they were last night at set of sun,
- Of their soft beds and their sweet food bereft—
- Now tell me, man born ere the world begun,
- Have you seen any one pass with the cows?”—
- To whom the man of overhanging brows:
- “My friend, it would require no common skill
- Justly to speak of everything I see:
- On various purposes of good or ill
- Many pass by my vineyard,—and to me
- ’Tis difficult to know the invisible
- Thoughts, which in all those many minds may be:—
- Thus much alone I certainly can say,
- I tilled these vines till the decline of day.
- “And then I thought I saw, but dare not speak
- With certainty of such a wondrous thing,
- A child, who could not have been born a week,
- Those fair-horned cattle closely following,
- And in his hand he held a polished stick:
- And, as on purpose, he walked wavering
- From one side to the other of the road,
- And with his face opposed the steps he trod.”
- Apollo hearing this, past quickly on—
- No winged omen could have shown more clear
- That the deceiver was his father’s son.
- So the God wraps a purple atmosphere
- Around his shoulders, and like fire is gone
- To famous Pylos, seeking his kine there,
- And found their track and his, yet hardly cold,
- And cried—“What wonder do mine eyes behold!
- “Here are the footsteps of the horned herd
- Turned back towards their fields of asphodel;—
- But these! are not the tracks of beast or bird,
- Grey wolf, or bear, or lion of the dell,
- Or maned Centaur—sand was never stirred
- By man or woman thus! Inexplicable!
- Who with unwearied feet could e’er impress
- The sand with such enormous vestiges?
- “That was most strange—but this is stranger still!”
- Thus having said, Phœbus impetuously
- Sought high Cyllene’s forest-cinctured hill,
- And the deep cavern where dark shadows lie,
- And where the ambrosial nymph with happy will
- Bore the Saturnian’s love-child, Mercury—
- And a delightful odour from the dew
- Of the hill pastures, at his coming, flew.
- And Phœbus stooped under the craggy roof
- Arched over the dark cavern:—Maia’s child
- Perceived that he came angry, far aloof,
- About the cows of which he had been beguiled,
- And over him the fine and fragrant woof
- Of his ambrosial swaddling clothes he piled—
- As among fire-brands lies a burning spark
- Covered, beneath the ashes cold and dark.
- There, like an infant who had sucked his fill
- And now was newly washed and put to bed,
- Awake, but courting sleep with weary will,
- And gathered in a lump hands, feet, and head,
- He lay, and his beloved tortoise still
- He grasped and held under his shoulder-blade.
- Phœbus the lovely mountain-goddess knew,
- Not less her subtle, swindling baby, who
- Lay swathed in his sly wiles. Round every crook
- Of the ample cavern, for his kine, Apollo
- Looked sharp; and when he saw them not, he took
- The glittering key, and opened three great hollow
- Recesses in the rock—where many a nook
- Was filled with the sweet food immortals swallow,
- And mighty heaps of silver and of gold
- Were piled within—a wonder to behold!
- And white and silver robes, all overwrought
- With cunning workmanship of tracery sweet—
- Except among the Gods there can be nought
- In the wide world to be compared with it.
- Latona’s offspring, after having sought
- His herds in every corner, thus did greet
- Great Hermes:—“Little cradled rogue, declare
- Of my illustrious heifers, where they are!
- “Speak quickly! or a quarrel between us
- Must rise, and the event will be, that I
- Shall hawl you into dismal Tartarus,
- In fiery gloom to dwell eternally;
- Nor shall your father nor your mother loose
- The bars of that black dungeon—utterly
- You shall be cast out from the light of day,
- To rule the ghosts of men, unblest as they.”
- To whom thus Hermes slily answered:—“Son
- Of great Latona, what a speech is this!
- Why come you here to ask me what is done
- With the wild oxen which it seems you miss?
- I have not seen them, nor from any one
- Have heard a word of the whole business;
- If you should promise an immense reward,
- I could not tell more than you now have heard.
- “An ox-stealer should be both tall and strong,
- And I am but a little new-born thing,
- Who, yet at least, can think of nothing wrong:—
- My business is to suck, and sleep, and fling
- The cradle-clothes about me all day long,—
- Or half asleep, hear my sweet mother sing,
- And to be washed in water clean and warm,
- And hushed and kissed and kept secure from harm.
- “O, let not e’er this quarrel be averred!
- The astounded Gods would laugh at you, if e’er
- You should allege a story so absurd,
- As that a new-born infant forth could fare
- Out of his home after a savage herd.
- I was born yesterday—my small feet are
- Too tender for the roads so hard and rough:—
- And if you think that this is not enough,
- “I swear a great oath, by my father’s head,
- That I stole not your cows, and that I know
- Of no one else, who might, or could, or did.—
- Whatever things cows are, I do not know,
- For I have only heard the name.”—This said,
- He winked as fast as could be, and his brow
- Was wrinkled, and a whistle loud gave he,
- Like one who hears some strange absurdity.
- Apollo gently smiled and said:—“Aye, aye,—
- You cunning little rascal, you will bore
- Many a rich man’s house, and your array
- Of thieves will lay their siege before his door,
- Silent as night, in night; and many a day
- In the wild glens rough shepherds will deplore
- That you or yours, having an appetite,
- Met with their cattle, comrade of the night!
- “And this among the Gods shall be your gift,
- To be considered as the lord of those
- Who swindle, house-break, sheep-steal, and shop-lift;—
- But now if you would not your last sleep dose,
- Crawl out!”—Thus saying, Phœbus did uplift
- The subtle infant in his swaddling clothes,
- And in his arms, according to his wont,
- A scheme devised the illustrious Argiphont.
- * * * * *
- * * * *
- And sneezed and shuddered—Phœbus on the grass
- Him threw, and whilst all that he had designed
- He did perform—eager although to pass,
- Apollo darted from his mighty mind
- Towards the subtle babe the following scoff:—
- “Do not imagine this will get you off,
- “You little swaddled child of Jove and May!”
- And seized him:—“By this omen I shall trace
- My noble herds, and you shall lead the way.”—
- Cyllenian Hermes from the grassy place,
- Like one in earnest haste to get away,
- Rose, and with hands lifted towards his face
- Roused both his ears—up from his shoulders drew
- His swaddling clothes, and—“What mean you to do
- “With me, you unkind God?”—said Mercury:
- “Is it about these cows you teize me so?
- I wished the race of cows were perished!—I
- Stole not your cows—I do not even know
- What things cows are. Alas! I well may sigh,
- That since I came into this world of woe,
- I should have ever heard the name of one—
- But I appeal to the Saturnian’s throne.”
- Thus Phœbus and the vagrant Mercury
- Talked without coming to an explanation,
- With adverse purpose. As for Phœbus, he
- Sought not revenge, but only information,
- And Hermes tried with lies and roguery
- To cheat Apollo—But when no evasion
- Served—for the cunning one his match had found—
- He paced on first over the sandy ground.
- He of the Silver Bow the child of Jove
- Followed behind, till to their heavenly Sire
- Came both his children—beautiful as Love,
- And from his equal balance did require
- A judgment in the cause wherein they strove.
- O’er odorous Olympus and its snows
- A murmuring tumult as they came arose,—
- And from the folded depths of the great Hill,
- While Hermes and Apollo reverent stood
- Before Jove’s throne, the indestructible
- Immortals rushed in mighty multitude;
- And whilst their seats in order due they fill,
- The lofty Thunderer in a careless mood
- To Phœbus said:—“Whence drive you this sweet prey,
- This herald-baby, born but yesterday?—
- “A most important subject, trifler, this
- To lay before the Gods!”—“Nay, father, nay,
- When you have understood the business,
- Say not that I alone am fond of prey.
- I found this little boy in a recess
- Under Cyllene’s mountains far away—
- A manifest and most apparent thief,
- A scandal-monger beyond all belief.
- “I never saw his like either in heaven
- Or upon earth for knavery or craft:—
- Out of the field my cattle yester-even,
- By the low shore on which the loud sea laughed,
- He right down to the river-ford had driven;
- And mere astonishment would make you daft
- To see the double kind of footsteps strange
- He has impressed wherever he did range.
- “The cattle’s track on the black dust, full well
- Is evident, as if they went towards
- The place from which they came—that asphodel
- Meadow, in which I feed my many herds,—
- His steps were most incomprehensible—
- I know not how I can describe in words
- Those tracks—he could have gone along the sands
- Neither upon his feet nor on his hands;—
- “He must have had some other stranger mode
- Of moving on: those vestiges immense,
- Far as I traced them on the sandy road,
- Seemed like the trail of oak-toppings:—but thence
- No mark or track denoting where they trod
- The hard ground gave:—but, working at his fence,
- A mortal hedger saw him as he past
- To Pylos, with the cows, in fiery haste.
- “I found that in the dark he quietly
- Had sacrificed some cows, and before light
- Had thrown the ashes all dispersedly
- About the road—then, still as gloomy night,
- Had crept into his cradle, either eye
- Rubbing, and cogitating some new sleight.
- No eagle could have seen him as he lay
- Hid in his cavern from the peering day.
- “I tax’d him with the fact, when he averred
- Most solemnly that he did neither see
- Or even had in any manner heard
- Of my lost cows, whatever things cows be;
- Nor could he tell, though offered a reward,
- Not even who could tell of them to me.”
- So speaking, Phœbus sate; and Hermes then
- Addressed the Supreme Lord of Gods and Men:—
- “Great Father, you know clearly before hand
- That all which I shall say to you is soothe;
- I am a most veracious person, and
- Totally unacquainted with untruth.
- At sunrise, Phœbus came, but with no band
- Of Gods to bear him witness, in great wrath,
- To my abode, seeking his heifers there,
- And saying that I must show him where they are,
- “Or he would hurl me down the dark abyss.
- I know, that every Apollonian limb
- Is clothed with speed and might and manliness,
- As a green bank with flowers—but unlike him
- I was born yesterday, and you may guess
- He well knew this when he indulged the whim
- Of bullying a poor little new-born thing
- That slept, and never thought of cow-driving.
- “Am I like a strong fellow who steals kine?
- Believe me, dearest Father, such you are,
- This driving of the herds is none of mine;
- Across my threshhold did I wander ne’er,
- So may I thrive! I reverence the divine
- Sun and the Gods, and I love you, and care
- Even for this hard accuser—who must know
- I am as innocent as they or you.
- “I swear by these most gloriously-wrought portals—
- (It is, you will allow, an oath of might)
- Through which the multitude of the Immortals
- Pass and repass forever, day and night,
- Devising schemes for the affairs of mortals—
- That I am guiltless; and I will requite,
- Although mine enemy be great and strong,
- His cruel threat—do thou defend the young!”
- So speaking, the Cyllenian Argiphont
- Winked, as if now his adversary was fitted:—
- And Jupiter according to his wont,
- Laughed heartily to hear the subtle-witted
- Infant give such a plausible account,
- And every word a lie. But he remitted
- Judgment at present—and his exhortation
- Was, to compose the affair by arbitration.
- And they by mighty Jupiter were bidden
- To go forth with a single purpose both,
- Neither the other chiding nor yet chidden:
- And Mercury with innocence and truth
- To lead the way, and show where he had hidden
- The mighty heifers.—Hermes, nothing loth,
- Obeyed the Ægis-bearer’s will—for he
- Is able to persuade all easily.
- These lovely children of Heaven’s highest Lord
- Hastened to Pylos and the pastures wide
- And lofty stalls by the Alphean ford,
- Where wealth in the mute night is multiplied
- With silent growth. Whilst Hermes drove the herd
- Out of the stony cavern, Phœbus spied
- The hides of those the little babe had slain,
- Stretched on the precipice above the plain.
- “How was it possible,” then Phœbus said,
- “That you, a little child, born yesterday,
- A thing on mother’s milk and kisses fed,
- Could two prodigious heifers ever flay?
- Even I myself may well hereafter dread
- Your prowess, offspring of Cyllenian May,
- When you grow strong and tall.”—He spoke, and bound
- Stiff withy bands the infant’s wrists around.
- He might as well have bound the oxen wild;
- The withy bands, though starkly interknit,
- Fell at the feet of the immortal child,
- Loosened by some device of his quick wit.
- Phœbus perceived himself again beguiled,
- And stared—while Hermes sought some hole or pit,
- Looking askance and winking fast as thought,
- Where he might hide himself and not be caught.
- Sudden he changed his plan, and with strange skill
- Subdued the strong Latonian, by the might
- Of winning music, to his mightier will;
- His left hand held the lyre, and in his right
- The plectrum struck the chords—unconquerable
- Up from beneath his hand in circling flight
- The gathering music rose—and sweet as Love
- The penetrating notes did live and move
- Within the heart of great Apollo—he
- Listened with all his soul, and laughed for pleasure.
- Close to his side stood harping fearlessly
- The unabashed boy; and to the measure
- Of the sweet lyre, there followed loud and free
- His joyous voice; for he unlocked the treasure
- Of his deep song, illustrating the birth
- Of the bright Gods and the dark desart Earth:
- And how to the Immortals every one
- A portion was assigned of all that is;
- But chief Mnemosyne did Maia’s son
- Clothe in the light of his loud melodies;—
- And as each God was born or had begun
- He in their order due and fit degrees
- Sung of his birth and being—and did move
- Apollo to unutterable love.
- These words were winged with his swift delight:
- “You heifer-stealing schemer, well do you
- Deserve that fifty oxen should requite
- Such minstrelsies as I have heard even now.
- Comrade of feasts, little contriving wight,
- One of your secrets I would gladly know,
- Whether the glorious power you now show forth
- Was folded up within you at your birth,
- “Or whether mortal taught or God inspired
- The power of unpremeditated song?
- Many divinest sounds have I admired,
- The Olympian Gods and mortal men among;
- But such a strain of wondrous, strange, untired,
- And soul-awakening music, sweet and strong,
- Yet did I never hear except from thee,
- Offspring of May, impostor Mercury!
- “What Muse, what skill, what unimagined use,
- What exercise of subtlest art, has given
- Thy songs such power?—for those who hear may choose
- From three, the choicest of the gifts of Heaven,
- Delight, and love, and sleep,—sweet sleep, whose dews
- Are sweeter than the balmy tears of even:—
- And I, who speak this praise, am that Apollo
- Whom the Olympian Muses ever follow:
- “And their delight is dance, and the blithe noise
- Of song and overflowing poesy;
- And sweet, even as desire, the liquid voice
- Of pipes, that fills the clear air thrillingly;
- But never did my inmost soul rejoice
- In this dear work of youthful revelry,
- As now I wonder at thee, son of Jove;
- Thy harpings and thy song are soft as love.
- “Now since thou hast, although so very small,
- Science of arts so glorious, thus I swear,
- And let this cornel javelin, keen and tall,
- Witness between us what I promise here,—
- That I will lead thee to the Olympian Hall,
- Honoured and mighty, with thy mother dear,
- And many glorious gifts in joy will give thee,
- And even at the end will ne’er deceive thee.”
- To whom thus Mercury with prudent speech:—
- “Wisely hast thou enquired of my skill:
- I envy thee no thing I know to teach
- Even this day:—for both in word and will
- I would be gentle with thee; thou canst reach
- All things in thy wise spirit, and thy sill
- Is highest in heaven among the sons of Jove,
- Who loves thee in the fulness of his love.
- “The Counsellor Supreme has given to thee
- Divinest gifts, out of the amplitude
- Of his profuse exhaustless treasury;
- By thee, ’tis said, the depths are understood
- Of his far voice; by thee the mystery
- Of all oracular fates,—and the dread mood
- Of the diviner is breathed up, even I—
- A child—perceive thy might and majesty—
- “Thou canst seek out and compass all that wit
- Can find or teach;—yet since thou wilt, come take
- The lyre—be mine the glory giving it—
- Strike the sweet chords, and sing aloud, and wake
- Thy joyous pleasure out of many a fit
- Of tranced sound—and with fleet fingers make
- Thy liquid-voiced comrade talk with thee,
- It can talk measured music eloquently.
- “Then bear it boldly to the revel loud,
- Love-wakening dance, or feast of solemn state,
- A joy by night or day—for those endowed
- With art and wisdom who interrogate
- It teaches, babbling in delightful mood
- All things which make the spirit most elate,
- Soothing the mind with sweet familiar play,
- Chasing the heavy shadows of dismay.
- “To those who are unskilled in its sweet tongue,
- Though they should question most impetuously
- Its hidden soul, it gossips something wrong—
- Some senseless and impertinent reply.
- But thou who art as wise as thou art strong
- Can compass all that thou desirest. I
- Present thee with this music-flowing shell,
- Knowing thou canst interrogate it well.
- “And let us two henceforth together feed
- On this green mountain slope and pastoral plain,
- The herds in litigation—they will breed
- Quickly enough to recompense our pain,
- If to the bulls and cows we take good heed;—
- And thou, though somewhat over fond of gain,
- Grudge me not half the profit.”—Having spoke,
- The shell he proffered, and Apollo took.
- And gave him in return the glittering lash,
- Installing him as herdsman;—from the look
- Of Mercury then laughed a joyous flash.
- And then Apollo with the plectrum strook
- The chords, and from beneath his hands a crash
- Of mighty sounds rushed up, whose music shook
- The soul with sweetness, as of an adept
- His sweeter voice a just accordance kept.
- The herd went wandering o’er the divine mead,
- Whilst these most beautiful Sons of Jupiter
- Won their swift way up to the snowy head
- Of white Olympus, with the joyous lyre
- Soothing their journey; and their father dread
- Gathered them both into familiar
- Affection sweet,—and then, and now, and ever,
- Hermes must love Him of the Golden Quiver,
- To whom he gave the lyre that sweetly sounded,
- Which skilfully he held and played thereon.
- He piped the while, and far and wide rebounded
- The echo of his pipings; every one
- Of the Olympians sat with joy astounded,
- While he conceived another piece of fun,
- One of his old tricks—which the God of Day
- Perceiving, said:—“I fear thee, Son of May;—
- “I fear thee and thy sly camelion spirit,
- Lest thou should steal my lyre and crooked bow;
- This glory and power thou dost from Jove inherit,
- To teach all craft upon the earth below;
- Thieves love and worship thee—it is thy merit
- To make all mortal business ebb and flow
- By roguery:—now, Hermes, if you dare,
- By sacred Styx a mighty oath to swear
- “That you will never rob me, you will do
- A thing extremely pleasing to my heart.”
- Then Mercury sware by the Stygian dew,
- That he would never steal his bow or dart,
- Or lay his hands on what to him was due,
- Or ever would employ his powerful art
- Against his Pythian fane. Then Phœbus swore
- There was no God or man whom he loved more.
- “And I will give thee as a good-will token,
- The beautiful wand of wealth and happiness;
- A perfect three-leaved rod of gold unbroken,
- Whose magic will thy footsteps ever bless;
- And whatsoever by Jove’s voice is spoken
- Of earthly or divine from its recess,
- It, like a loving soul to thee will speak,
- And more than this, do thou forbear to seek.
- “For, dearest child, the divinations high
- Which thou requirest, ’tis unlawful ever
- That thou, or any other deity
- Should understand—and vain were the endeavour;
- For they are hidden in Jove’s mind, and I
- In trust of them, have sworn that I would never
- Betray the counsels of Jove’s inmost will
- To any God—the oath was terrible.
- “Then, golden-wanded brother, ask me not
- To speak the fates by Jupiter designed;
- But be it mine to tell their various lot
- To the unnumbered tribes of human kind.
- Let good to these, and ill to those be wrought
- As I dispense—but he who comes consigned
- By voice and wings of perfect augury
- To my great shrine, shall find avail in me.
- “Him will I not deceive, but will assist;
- But he who comes relying on such birds
- As chatter vainly, who would strain and twist
- The purpose of the Gods with idle words,
- And deems their knowledge light, he shall have mist
- His road—whilst I among my other hoards
- His gifts deposit. Yet, O son of May,
- I have another wondrous thing to say.
- “There are three Fates, three virgin Sisters, who
- Rejoicing in their wind-outspeeding wings,
- Their heads with flour snowed over white and new,
- Sit in a vale round which Parnassus flings
- Its circling skirts—from these I have learned true
- Vaticinations of remotest things.
- My father cared not. Whilst they search out dooms,
- They sit apart and feed on honeycombs.
- “They, having eaten the fresh honey, grow
- Drunk with divine enthusiasm, and utter
- With earnest willingness the truth they know;
- But if deprived of that sweet food, they mutter
- All plausible delusions;—these to you
- I give;—if you inquire, they will not stutter;
- Delight your own soul with them:—any man
- You would instruct, may profit, if he can.
- “Take these and the fierce oxen, Maia’s child—
- O’er many a horse and toil-enduring mule,
- O’er jagged-jawed lions, and the wild
- White-tusked boars, o’er all, by field or pool,
- Of cattle which the mighty Mother mild
- Nourishes in her bosom, thou shalt rule—
- Thou dost alone the veil of death uplift—
- Thou givest not—yet this is a great gift.”
- Thus king Apollo loved the child of May
- In truth, and Jove covered them with love and joy.
- Hermes with Gods and men even from that day
- Mingled, and wrought the latter much annoy,
- And little profit, going far astray
- Through the dun night. Farewell, delightful Boy,
- Of Jove and Maia sprung,—never by me,
- Nor thou, nor other songs shall unremembered be.
A SATYRIC DRAMA.
TRANSLATED FROM THE GREEK OF EURIPIDES.
Chorus of Satyrs.
- O, Bacchus, what a world of toil, both now
- And ere these limbs were overworn with age,
- Have I endured for thee! First, when thou fled’st
- The mountain-nymphs who nurst thee, driven afar
- By the strange madness Juno sent upon thee;
- Then in the battle of the sons of Earth,
- When I stood foot by foot close to thy side,
- No unpropitious fellow combatant,
- And driving through his shield my winged spear,
- Slew vast Enceladus. Consider now,
- Is it a dream of which I speak to thee?
- By Jove it is not, for you have the trophies!
- And now I suffer more than all before.
- For when I heard that Juno had devised
- A tedious voyage for you, I put to sea
- With all my children quaint in search of you,
- And I myself stood on the beaked prow
- And fixed the naked mast, and all my boys
- Leaning upon their oars, with splash and strain
- Made white with foam the green and purple sea,—
- And so we sought you, king. We were sailing
- Near Malea, when an eastern wind arose,
- And drove us to this wild Ætnean rock;
- The one-eyed children of the Ocean God,
- The man-destroying Cyclopses inhabit,
- On this wild shore, their solitary caves,
- And one of these, named Polypheme, has caught us
- To be his slaves; and so, for all delight
- Of Bacchic sports, sweet dance and melody,
- We keep this lawless giant’s wandering flocks.
- My sons indeed, on far declivities,
- Young things themselves, tend on the youngling sheep,
- But I remain to fill the water casks,
- Or sweeping the hard floor, or ministering
- Some impious and abominable meal
- To the fell Cyclops. I am wearied of it!
- And now I must scrape up the littered floor
- With this great iron rake, so to receive
- My absent master and his evening sheep
- In a cave neat and clean. Even now I see
- My children tending the flocks hitherward.
- Ha! what is this? are your Sicinnian measures
- Even now the same, as when with dance and song
- You brought young Bacchus to Athæa’s halls?
- * * * * *
chorus of satyrs.
- Where has he of race divine
- Wandered in the winding rocks?
- Here the air is calm and fine
- For the father of the flocks;—
- Here the grass is soft and sweet,
- And the river-eddies meet
- In the trough beside the cave,
- Bright as in their fountain wave.—
- Neither here, nor on the dew
- Of the lawny uplands feeding?
- Oh, you come!—a stone at you
- Will I throw to mend your breeding;—
- Get along, you horned thing,
- Wild, seditious, rambling!
- An Iacchic melody
- To the golden Aphrodite
- Will I lift, as erst did I
- Seeking her and her delight
- With the Mænads, whose white feet
- To the music glance and fleet.
- Bacchus, O beloved, where,
- Shaking wide thy yellow hair,
- Wanderest thou alone, afar?
- To the one-eyed Cyclops, we,
- Who by right thy servants are,
- Minister in misery,
- In these wretched goat-skins clad,
- Far from thy delights and thee.
- Be silent, sons; command the slaves to drive
- The gathered flocks into the rock-roofed cave.
- Go! But what needs this serious haste, O father?
- I see a Greek ship’s boat upon the coast,
- And thence the rowers with some general
- Approaching to this cave. About their necks
- Hang empty vessels, as they wanted food,
- And water-flasks.—O, miserable strangers!
- Whence come they, that they know not what and who
- My master is, approaching in ill hour
- The inhospitable roof of Polypheme,
- And the Cyclopian jaw-bone, man-destroying?
- Be silent, Satyrs, while I ask and hear
- Whence coming, they arrive the Ætnean hill.
- Friends, can you show me some clear water spring,
- The remedy of our thirst? Will any one
- Furnish with food seamen in want of it?
- Ha! what is this? We seem to be arrived
- At the blithe court of Bacchus. I observe
- This sportive band of Satyrs near the caves.
- First let me greet the elder.—Hail!
- Hail thou,
- O, Stranger! tell thy country and thy race.
- The Ithacan Ulysses and the king:
- Of Cephalonia.
- Oh! I know the man,
- Wordy and shrewd, the son of Sisyphus.
- I am the same, but do not rail upon me.—
- Whence sailing do you come to Sicily?
- From Ilion, and from the Trojan toils.
- How, touched you not at your paternal shore?
- The strength of tempests bore me here by force.
- The self-same accident occurred to me.
- Were you then driven here by stress of weather?
- Following the Pirates who had kidnapped Bacchus.
- What land is this, and who inhabit it?—
- Ætna, the loftiest peak in Sicily.
- And are there walls, and tower-surrounded towns?
- There are not;—These lone rocks are bare of men.
- And who possess the land? the race of beasts?
- Cyclops, who live in caverns, not in houses.
- Obeying whom? Or is the state popular?
- Shepherds: no one obeys any in aught.
- How live they? do they sow the corn of Ceres?
- On milk and cheese, and on the flesh of sheep.
- Have they the Bromian drink from the vine’s stream?
- Ah! no; they live in an ungracious land.
- And are they just to strangers?—hospitable?
- They think the sweetest thing a stranger brings
- Is his own flesh.
- What! do they eat man’s flesh?
- No one comes here who is not eaten up.
- The Cyclops now—Where is he? Not at home?
- Absent on Ætna, hunting with his dogs.
- Know’st thou what thou must do to aid us hence?
- I know not: we will help you all we can.
- Provide us food, of which we are in want.
- Here is not anything, as I said, but meat.
- But meat is a sweet remedy for hunger.
- Cow’s milk there is, and store of curdled cheese.
- Bring out:—I would see all before I bargain.
- But how much gold will you engage to give?
- I bring no gold, but Bacchic juice.
- O, joy!
- ’Tis long since these dry lips were wet with wine.
- Maron, the son of the God, gave it me.
- Whom I have nursed a baby in my arms.
- The son of Bacchus, for your clearer knowledge.
- Have you it now?—or is it in the ship?
- Old man, this skin contains it, which you see.
- Why this would hardly be a mouthful for me.
- Nay, twice as much as you can draw from thence.
- You speak of a fair fountain, sweet to me.
- Would you first taste of the unmingled wine?
- ’Tis just—tasting invites the purchaser.
- Here is the cup, together with the skin.
- Pour: that the draught may fillip my remembrance.
- Papaiapæx! what a sweet smell it has!
- By Jove, no! but I smell it.
- Taste, that you may not praise it in words only.
- Babai! Great Bacchus calls me forth to dance!
- Joy! joy!
- Did it flow sweetly down your throat?
- So that it tingled to my very nails.
- And in addition I will give you gold.
- Let gold alone! only unlock the cask.
- Bring out some cheeses now, or a young goat.
- That will I do, despising any master.
- Yes, let me drink one cup, and I will give
- All that the Cyclops feed upon their mountains.
- * * * * *
- Ye have taken Troy and laid your hands on Helen?
- And utterly destroyed the race of Priam.
- * * * * *
- The wanton wretch! she was bewitched to see
- The many-coloured anklets and the chain
- Of woven gold which girt the neck of Paris,
- And so she left that good man Menclaus.
- There should be no more women in the world
- But such as are reserved for me alone.—
- See, here are sheep, and here are goats, Ulysses,
- Here are unsparing cheeses of pressed milk;
- Take them; depart with what good speed ye may;
- First leaving my reward, the Bacchic dew
- Of joy-inspiring grapes.
- Ah me! Alas!
- What shall we do? the Cyclops is at hand!
- Old man, we perish! whither can we fly?
- Hide yourselves quick within that hollow rock.
- ’Twere perilous to fly into the net.
- The cavern has recesses numberless;
- Hide yourselves quick.
- That will I never do!
- The mighty Troy would be indeed disgraced
- If I should fly one man. How many times
- Have I withstood, with shield immoveable,
- Ten thousand Phrygians!—if I needs must die,
- Yet will I die with glory;—if I live,
- The praise which I have gained will yet remain.
- What, ho! assistance, comrades, haste assistance!
TheCyclops, Silenus, Ulysses; Chorus.
- What is this tumult? Bacchus is not here,
- Nor tympanies nor brazen castanets.
- How are my young lambs in the cavern? Milking
- Their dams or playing by their sides? And is
- The new cheese pressed into the bull-rush baskets?
- Speak! I’ll beat some of you till you rain tears—
- Look up, not downwards when I speak to you.
- See! I now gape at Jupiter himself,
- I stare upon Orion and the stars.
- Well, is the dinner fitly cooked and laid?
- All ready, if your throat is ready too.
- Are the bowls full of milk besides?
- O’er brimming;
- So you may drink a tunful if you will.
- Is it ewe’s milk or cow’s milk, or both mixed?—
- Both, either; only pray don’t swallow me.
- By no means.—
- * * *
- What is this crowd I see beside the stalls?
- Outlaws or thieves? for near my cavern-home,
- I see my young lambs coupled two by two
- With willow bands; mixed with my cheeses lie
- Their implements; and this old fellow here
- Has his bald head broken with stripes.
- Ah me!
- I have been beaten till I burn with fever.
- By whom? Who laid his first upon your head?
- Those men, because I would not suffer them
- To steal your goods.
- Did not the rascals know
- I am a God, sprung from the race of heaven?
- I told them so, but they bore off your things,
- And ate the cheese in spite of all I said,
- And carried out the lambs—and said, moreover,
- They’d pin you down with a three cubit collar,
- And pull your vitals out through your one eye,
- Torture your back with stripes, then binding you,
- Throw you as ballast into the ship’s hold,
- And then deliver you, a slave, to move
- Enormous rocks, or found a vestibule.
- In truth? Nay, haste, and place in order quickly
- The cooking knives, and heap upon the hearth,
- And kindle it, a great faggot of wood—
- As soon as they are slaughtered, they shall fill
- My belly, broiling warm from the live coals,
- Or boiled and seethed within the bubbling cauldron.
- I am quite sick of the wild mountain game,
- Of stags and lions I have gorged enough,
- And I grow hungry for the flesh of men.
- Nay, master, something new is very pleasant
- After one thing for ever, and of late
- Very few strangers have approached our cave.
- Hear, Cyclops, a plain tale on the other side.
- We, wanting to buy food, came from our ship
- Into the neighbourhood of your cave, and here
- This old Silenus gave us in exchange
- These lambs for wine, the which he took and drank,
- And all by mutual compact, without force.
- There is no word of truth in what he says,
- For slily he was selling all your store.
- I? May you perish, wretch—
- Cyclops, I swear by Neptune who begot thee,
- By mighty Triton and by Nereus old,
- Calypso and the glaucous ocean Nymphs,
- The sacred waves and all the race of fishes—
- Be these the witnesses, my dear sweet master,
- My darling little Cyclops, that I never
- Gave any of your stores to these false strangers:—
- If I speak false may those whom most I love,
- My children, perish wretchedly!
- There stop!
- I saw him giving these things to the strangers,
- If I speak false, then may my father perish,
- But do not thou wrong hospitality.
- You lie! I swear that he is juster far
- Than Rhadamanthus—I trust more in him.
- But let me ask, whence have ye sailed, O strangers?
- Who are you? And what city nourished ye?
- Our race is Ithacan—having destroyed
- The town of Troy, the tempests of the sea
- Have driven us on thy land, O Polypheme.
- What, have ye shared in the unenvied spoil
- Of the false Helen, near Scamander’s stream?
- The same, having endured a woful toil.
- O, basest expedition! sailed ye not
- From Greece to Phrygia for one woman’s sake?
- ’Twas the God’s work—no mortal was in fault.
- But, O great offspring of the ocean-king,
- We pray thee and admonish thee with freedom,
- That thou dost spare thy friends who visit thee,
- And place no impious food within thy jaws.
- For in the depths of Greece we have upreared
- Temples to thy great father, which are all
- His homes. The sacred bay of Tœnarus
- Remains inviolate, and each dim recess
- Scooped high on the Malean promontory,
- And aery Sunium’s silver-veined crag,
- Which divine Pallas keeps unprofaned ever,
- The Gerastian asylums, and whate’er
- Within wide Greece our enterprise has kept
- From Phrygian contumely; and in which
- You have a common care, for you inhabit
- The skirts of Grecian land, under the roots
- Of Ætna and its crags, spotted with fire.
- Turn then to converse under human laws,
- Receive us shipwrecked suppliants, and provide
- Food, clothes, and fire, and hospitable gifts;
- Nor fixing upon oxen-piercing spits
- Our limbs, so fill your belly and your jaws.
- Priam’s wide land has widowed Greece enough;
- And weapon-winged murder heaped together
- Enough of dead, and wives are husbandless,
- And ancient women and grey fathers wail
- Their childless age;—if you should roast the rest,
- And ’tis a bitter feast that you prepare,
- Where then would any turn? Yet be persuaded;
- Forego the lust of your jaw-bone; prefer
- Pious humanity to wicked will:
- Many have bought too dear their evil joys.
- Let me advise you, do not spare a morsel
- Of all his flesh. If you should eat his tongue
- You would become most eloquent, O Cyclops?
- Wealth, my good fellow, is the wise man’s God,
- All other things are a pretence and boast.
- What are my father’s ocean promontories,
- The sacred rocks whereon he dwells, to me?
- Stranger, I laugh to scorn Jove’s thunderbolt,
- I know not that his strength is more than mine.
- As to the rest I care not:—When he pours
- Rain from above, I have a close pavilion
- Under this rock, in which I lie supine,
- Feasting on a roast calf or some wild beast,
- And drinking pans of milk, and gloriously
- Emulating the thunder of high heaven.
- And when the Thracian wind pours down the snow,
- I wrap my body in the skins of beasts,
- Kindle a fire, and bid the snow whirl on.
- The earth, by force, whether it will or no,
- Bringing forth grass, fattens my flocks and herds,
- Which, to what other God but to myself
- And this great belly, first of deities,
- Should I be bound to sacrifice? I well know
- The wise man’s only Jupiter is this,
- To eat and drink during his little day,
- And give himself no care. And as for those
- Who complicate with laws the life of man,
- I freely give them tears for their reward.
- I will not cheat my soul of its delight,
- Or hesitate in dining upon you:—
- And that I may be quit of all demands,
- These are my hospitable gifts;—fierce fire
- And you ancestral cauldron, which o’er bubbling
- Shall finely cook your miserable flesh.
- Creep in!—
- * * * *
- Ay! ay! I have escaped the Trojan toils,
- I have escaped the sea, and now I fall
- Under the cruel grasp of one impious man.
- O Pallas, mistress, Goddess, sprung from Jove,
- Now, now, assist me! Mightier toils than Troy
- Are these;—I totter on the chasms of peril;—
- And thou who inhabitest the thrones
- Of the bright stars, look, hospitable Jove,
- Upon this outrage of thy deity,
- Otherwise be considered as no God!
- For your gaping gulph, and your gullet wide
- The ravine is ready on every side,
- The limbs of the strangers are cooked and done,
- There is boiled meat, and roast meat, and meat from the coal,
- You may chop it, and tear it, and gnash it for fun,
- An hairy goat’s-skin contains the whole.
- Let me but escape, and ferry me o’er
- The stream of your wrath to a safer shore.
- The Cyclops Ætnean is cruel and bold,
- He murders the strangers
- That sit on his hearth,
- And dreads no avengers
- To rise from the earth.
- He roasts the men before they are cold,
- He snatches them broiling from the coal,
- And from the cauldron pulls them whole,
- And minces their flesh and gnaws their bone
- With his cursed teeth, till all begone.
- Farewell, foul pavilion!
- Farewell, rites of dread!
- The Cyclops vermilion,
- With slaughter uncloying,
- Now feasts on the dead,
- In the flesh of strangers joying!
- O Jupiter! I saw within the cave
- Horrible things; deeds to be feigned in words,
- But not believed as being done.
- What sawest thou the impious Polypheme
- Feasting upon your loved companions now?
- Selecting two, the plumpest of the crowd,
- He grasped them in his hands.—
- Soon as we came into this craggy place,
- Kindling a fire, he cast on the broad hearth
- The knotty limbs of an enormous oak,
- Three waggon loads at least, and then he strewed
- Upon the ground, beside the red fire light,
- His couch of pine leaves; and he milked the cows,
- And pouring forth the white milk, filled a bowl
- Three cubits wide and four in depth, as much
- As would contain four amphoræ, and bound it
- With ivy wreaths; then placed upon the fire
- A brazen pot to boil, and made red hot
- The points of spits, not sharpened with the sickle,
- But with a fruit tree bough, and with the jaws
- Of axes for Ætnean slaughterings.
- And when this God-abandoned cook of hell
- Had made all ready, he seized two of us
- And killed them in a kind of measured manner;
- For he flung one against the brazen rivets
- Of the huge cauldron, and seized the other
- By the foot’s tendon, and knocked out his brains
- Upon the sharp edge of the craggy stone:
- Then peeled his flesh with a great cooking knife
- And put him down to roast. The other’s limbs
- He chopped into the cauldron to be boiled.
- And I, with the tears raining from my eyes,
- Stood near the Cyclops, ministering to him;
- The rest, in the recesses of the cave,
- Clung to the rock like bats, bloodless with fear.
- When he was filled with my companions flesh,
- He threw himself upon the ground and sent
- A loathsome exhalation from his maw.
- Then a divine thought came to me. I filled
- The cup of Maron, and I offered him
- To taste, and said:—“Child of the Ocean God,
- Behold what drink the vines of Greece produce,
- The exultation and the joy of Bacchus.”
- He, satiated with his unnatural food,
- Received it, and at one draught drank it off,
- And taking my hand, praised me:—“Thou hast given
- A sweet draught after a sweet meal, dear guest.”
- And I perceiving that it pleased him, filled
- Another cup, well knowing that the wine
- Would wound him soon and take a sure revenge.
- And the charm fascinated him, and I
- Plied him cup after cup, until the drink
- Had warmed his entrails, and he sang aloud
- In concert with my wailing fellow-seamen
- A hideous discord—and the cavern rung.
- I have stolen out, so that if you will
- You may achieve my safety and your own.
- But say, do you desire, or not, to fly
- This uncompanionable man, and dwell
- As was your wont among the Grecian Nymphs
- Within the fanes of your beloved God?
- Your father there within agrees to it,
- But he is weak and overcome with wine,
- And caught as if with bird-lime by the cup,
- He claps his wings and crows in doting joy.
- You who are young escape with me, and find
- Bacchus your ancient friend; unsuited he
- To this rude Cyclops.
- Oh my dearest friend,
- That I could see that day, and leave for ever
- The impious Cyclops.
- * * * *
- Listen then what a punishment I have
- For this fell monster, how secure a flight
- From your hard servitude.
- Oh sweeter far
- Than is the music of an Asian lyre
- Would be the news of Polypheme destroyed.
- Delighted with the Bacchic drink he goes
- To call his brother Cyclops—who inhabit
- A village upon Ætna not far off.
- I understand, catching him when alone
- You think by some measure to dispatch him,
- Or thrust him from the precipice.
- O no;
- Nothing of that kind; my device is subtle.
- How then? I heard of old that thou wert wise.
- I will dissuade him from this plan, by saying
- It were unwise to give the Cyclopses
- This precious drink, which if enjoyed alone
- Would make life sweeter for a longer time.
- When vanquished by the Bacchic power, he sleeps,
- There is a trunk of olive wood within,
- Whose point having made sharp with this good sword
- I will conceal in fire, and when I see
- It is alight, will fix it, burning yet,
- Within the socket of the Cyclops’ eye
- And melt it out with fire—as when a man
- Turns by its handle a great auger round,
- Fitting the frame work of a ship with beams,
- So will I, in the Cyclops’ fiery eye
- Turn round the brand and dry the pupil up.
- Joy! I am mad with joy at your device.
- And then with you, my friends, and the old man,
- We’ll load the hollow depth of our black ship,
- And row with double strokes from this dread shore.
- May I, as in libations to a God,
- Share in the blinding him with the red brand?
- I would have some communion in his death.
- Doubtless: the brand is a great brand to hold.
- Oh! I would lift an hundred waggon loads,
- If like a wasp’s nest I could scoop the eye out
- Of the detested Cyclops.
- Silence now!
- Ye know the close device—and when I call,
- Look ye obey the masters of the craft.
- I will not save myself and leave behind
- My comrades in the cave: I might escape
- Having got clear from that obscure recess,
- But ’twere unjust to leave in jeopardy
- The dear companions who sailed here with me.
- Come! who is first, that with his hand
- Will urge down the burning brand
- Through the lids, and quench and pierce
- The Cyclops’ eye so fiery fierce?
- Song within.
- Listen! listen! he is coming,
- A most hideous discord humming,
- Drunken, museless, awkward, yelling,
- Far along his rocky dwelling;
- Let us with some comic spell
- Teach the yet unteachable.
- By all means he must be blinded,
- If my council be but minded.
- Happy those made odorous
- With the dew which sweet grapes weep,
- To the village hastening thus,
- Seek the vines that soothe to sleep,
- Having first embraced thy friend,
- There in luxury without end,
- With the strings of yellow hair,
- Of thy voluptuous leman fair,
- Shalt sit playing on a bed!—
- Speak what door is opened?
- Ha! ha! ha! I’m full of wine,
- Heavy with the joy divine,
- With the young feast oversated,
- Like a merchant’s vessel freighted
- To the waters edge, my crop
- Is laden to the gullet’s top.
- The fresh meadow grass of spring
- Tempts me forth thus wandering
- To my brothers on the mountains,
- Who shall share the wine’s sweet fountains.
- Bring the cask, O stranger, bring!
- One with eyes the fairest
- Cometh from his dwelling;
- Some one loves thee, rarest,
- Bright beyond my telling.
- In thy grace thou shinest
- Like some nymph divinest,
- In her caverns dewy:—
- All delights pursue thee,
- Soon pied flowers, sweet-breathing,
- Shall thy head be wreathing.
- Listen, O Cyclops, for I am well skilled
- In Bacchus, whom I gave thee of to drink.
- What sort of God is Bacchus then accounted?
- The greatest among men for joy of life.
- I gulpt him down with very great delight.
- This is a God who never injures men.
- How does the God like living in a skin?
- He is content wherever he is put.
- Gods should not have their body in a skin.
- If he gives joy, what is his skin to you?
- I hate the skin, but love the wine within.
- Stay here, now drink, and make your spirit glad.
- Should I not share this liquor with my brothers?
- Keep it yourself, and be more honoured so.
- I were more useful, giving to my friends.
- But village mirth breeds contests, broils, and blows.
- When I am drunk none shall lay hands on me.—
- A drunken man is better within doors.
- He is a fool, who drinking, loves not mirth.
- But he is wise, who drunk, remains at home.
- Whall shall I do, Silenus? Shall I stay?
- Stay—for what need have you of pot companions?
- Indeed this place is closely carpeted
- With flowers and grass.
- And in the sun-warm noon
- ’Tis sweet to drink. Lie down beside me now,
- Placing your mighty sides upon the ground.
- What do you put the cup behind me for?
- That no one here may touch it.
- Thievish one!
- You want to drink;—here place it in the midst.
- And thou, O stranger, tell how art thou called?
- My name is Nobody. What favour now
- Shall I receive to praise you at your hands?
- I’ll feast on you the last of your companions.
- You grant your guest a fair reward, O Cyclops.
- Ha! what is this? Stealing the wine, you rogue!
- It was this stranger kissing me because
- I looked so beautiful.
- You shall repent
- For kissing the coy wine that loves you not.
- By Jupiter! you said that I am fair.
- Pour out, and only give me the cup full.
- How is it mixed? let me observe.
- Not till I see you wear
- That coronal, and taste the cup to you.
- But the wine is sweet.
- Aye, you will roar if you are caught in drinking.
- See now, my lip is clean and all my beard.
- Now put your elbow right and drink again.
- As you see me drink— * * * *
- Ye Gods, what a delicious gulp!
- Guest, take it;—you pour out the wine for me.
- The wine is well accustomed to my hand.
- Silence is a hard task to him who drinks.
- Take it and drink it off; leave not a dreg.
- O, that the drinker died with his own draught!
- Papai! the wine must be a sapient plant.
- If you drink much after a mighty feast,
- Moistening your thirsty maw, you will sleep well;
- If you leave aught, Bacchus will dry you up.
- Ho! ho! I can scarce rise. What pure delight!
- The heavens and earth appear to whirl about
- Confusedly. I see the throne of Jove
- And the clear congregation of the Gods.
- Now if the Graces tempted me to kiss
- I would not, for the loveliest of them all
- I would not leave this Ganymede.
- I am the Ganymede of Jupiter.
- By Jove you are; I bore you off from Dardanus.
- Come boys of Bacchus, children of high race,
- This man within is folded up in sleep,
- And soon will vomit flesh from his fell maw;
- The brand under the shed thrusts out its smoke,
- No preparation needs, but to burn out
- The monster’s eye;—but bear yourselves like men.
- We will have courage like the adamant rock,
- All things are ready for you here; go in,
- Before our father shall perceive the noise.
- Vulcan, Ætnean king! burn out with fire
- The shining eye of this thy neighbouring monster!
- And thou, O Sleep, nursling of gloomy night,
- Descend unmixed on this God-hated beast,
- And suffer not Ulysses and his comrades,
- Returning from their famous Trojan toils,
- To perish by this man, who cares not either
- For God or mortal; or I needs must think
- That Chance is a supreme divinity,
- And things divine are subject to her power.
- Soon a crab the throat will seize
- Of him who feeds upon his guest,
- Fire will burn his lamp-like eyes
- In revenge of such a feast!
- A great oak stump now is lying
- In the ashes yet undying.
- Come, Maron, come!
- Raging let him fix the doom,
- Let him tear the eyelid up,
- Of the Cyclops—that his cup
- May be evil!
- O, I long to dance and revel
- With sweet Bromian, long desired,
- In loved ivy-wreathes attired;
- Leaving this abandoned home—
- Will the moment ever come?
- Be silent, ye wild things! Nay, hold your peace,
- And keep your lips quite close; dare not to breathe,
- Or spit, or e’en wink, lest ye wake the monster,
- Until his eye be tortured out with fire.
- Nay, we are silent, and we chaw the air.
- Come now, and lend a hand to the great stake
- Within—it is delightfully red hot.
- You then command who first should seize the stake
- To burn the Cyclops’ eye, that all may share
- In the great enterprise.
- We are too few,
- We cannot at this distance from the door
- Thrust fire into his eye.
- And we just now
- Have become lame; cannot move hand or foot.
- The same thing has occurred to us,—our ancles
- Are sprained with standing here, I know not how.
- What, sprained with standing still?
- And there is dust
- Or ashes in our eyes, I know not whence.
- Cowardly dogs! ye will not aid me then?
- With pitying my own back and my back bone,
- And with not wishing all my teeth knocked out,
- This cowardice comes of itself—but stay,
- I know a famous Orphic incantation
- To make the brand stick of its own accord
- Into the skull of this one-eyed son of Earth.
- Of old I knew ye thus by nature; now
- I know ye better.—I will use the aid
- Of my own comrades—yet though weak of hand
- Speak cheerfully, that so ye may awaken
- The courage of my friends with your blithe words.
- This I will do with peril of my life,
- And blind you with my exhortations, Cyclops.
- Hasten and thrust,
- And parch up to dust,
- The eye of the beast,
- Who feeds on his guest.
- Burn and blind
- The Ætnean hind!
- Scoop and draw,
- But beware lest he claw
- Your limbs near his maw.
- Ah me! my eye-sight is parched up to cinders.
- What a sweet pæan! sing me that again!
- Ah me! indeed, what woe has fallen upon me!
- But wretched nothings, think ye not to flee
- Out of this rock; I, standing at the outlet,
- Will bar the way and catch you as you pass.
- What are you roaring out, Cyclops?
- What, did you fall into the fire when drunk?
- ’Twas Nobody destroyed me.
- Why then no one
- Can be to blame.
- I say ’twas Nobody
- Who blinded me.
- Why then you are not blind.
- I wish you were as blind as I am.
- It cannot be that no one made you blind.
- You jeer me; where, I ask, is Nobody?
- No where, O Cyclops * * *
- It was that stranger ruined me:—the wretch
- First gave me wine and then burnt out my eyes,
- For wine is strong and hard to struggle with.
- Have they escaped, or are they yet within?
- They stand under the darkness of the rock
- And cling to it.
- At my right hand or left?
- Near the rock itself.
- You have them.
- Oh, misfortune on misfortune!
- I’ve cracked my skull.
- Now they escape you there.
- Not there, although you say so.
- They creep about you on your left.
- Ah! I am mocked! They jeer me in my ills.
- Not there! he is a little there beyond you.
- Detested wretch! where are you?
- Far from you
- I keep with care this body of Ulysses.
- What do you say? You proffer a new name.
- My father named me so; and I have taken
- A full revenge for your unnatural feast;
- I should have done ill to have burned down Troy
- And not revenged the murder of my comrades.
- Ai! ai! the ancient oracle is accomplished;
- It said that I should have my eyesight blinded
- By you coming from Troy, yet it foretold
- That you should pay the penalty for this
- By wandering long over the homeless sea.
- I bid thee weep—consider what I say,
- I go towards the shore to drive my ship
- To mine own land, o’er the Sicilian wave.
- Not so, if whelming you with this huge stone
- I can crush you and all your men together;
- I will descend upon the shore, though blind,
- Groping my way adown the steep ravine.
- And we, the shipmates of Ulysses now,
- Will serve our Bacchus all our happy lives.
TRANSLATION FROM MOSCHUS.
- Pan loved his neighbour Echo—but that child
- Of Earth and Air pined for the Satyr leaping;
- The Satyr loved with wasting madness wild
- The bright nymph Lyda,—and so three went weeping.
- As Pan loved Echo, Echo loved the Satyr;
- The Satyr, Lyda—and thus love consumed them.—
- And thus to each—which was a woful matter—
- To bear what they inflicted, justice doomed them;
- For inasmuch as each might hate the lover,
- Each loving, so was hated.—Ye that love not
- Be warned—in thought turn this example over,
- That when ye love, the like return ye prove not.
FROM THE “MAGICO PRODIGIOSO” OF CALDERON.
Cyprianas a Student;ClarinandMosconas poor Scholars, with books.
- In the sweet solitude of this calm place,
- This intricate wild wilderness of trees
- And flowers and undergrowth of odorous plants,
- Leave me; the books you brought out of the house
- To me are ever best society.
- And whilst with glorious festival and song
- Antioch now celebrates the consecration
- Of a proud temple to great Jupiter,
- And bears his image in loud jubilee
- To its new shrine, I would consume what still
- Lives of the dying day, in studious thought,
- Far from the throng and turmoil. You, my friends,
- Go and enjoy the festival; it will
- Be worth the labour, and return for me
- When the sun seeks its grave among the billows,
- Which among dim grey clouds on the horizon
- Dance like white plumes upon a hearse;—and here
- I shall expect you.
- I cannot bring my mind,
- Great as my haste to see the festival
- Certainly is, to leave you, Sir, without
- Just saying some three or four hundred words.
- How is it possible that on a day
- Of such festivity, you can bring your mind
- To come forth to a solitary country
- With three or four old books, and turn your back
- On all this mirth?
- My master’s in the right;
- There is not any thing more tiresome
- Than a procession day, with troops of men,
- And dances, and all that.
- From first to last,
- Clarin, you are a temporizing flatterer;
- You praise not what you feel but what he does;—
- You lie—under a mistake—
- For this is the most civil sort of lie
- That can be given to a man’s face. I now
- Say what I think.
- Enough, you foolish fellows.
- Puffed up with your own doting ignorance,
- You always take the two sides of one question.
- Now go, and as I said, return for me
- When night falls, veiling in its shadows wide
- This glorious fabric of the universe.
- How happens it, although you can maintain
- The folly of enjoying festivals,
- That yet you go there?
- Nay, the consequence
- Is clear:—who ever did what he advises
- Others to do?—
- Would that my feet were wings,
- So would I fly to Livia. [Exit.
- To speak truth,
- Livia is she who has surprised my heart;
- But he is more than half way there.—Soho!
- Livia, I come; good sport, Livia, Soho! [Exit.
- Now, since I am alone, let me examine
- The question which has long disturbed my mind
- With doubt; since first I read in Plinius
- The words of mystic import and deep sense
- In which he defines God. My intellect
- Can find no God with whom these marks and signs
- Fitly agree. It is a hidden truth
- Which I must fathom. [Reads.
Enter theDevil,as a fine Gentleman.
- Search even as thou wilt,
- But thou shalt never find what I can hide.
- What noise is that among the boughs? Who moves?
- What art thou?—
- ’Tis a foreign gentleman.
- Even from this morning I have lost my way
- In this wild place, and my poor horse at last
- Quite overcome, has stretched himself upon
- The enamelled tapestry of this mossy mountain,
- And feeds and rests at the same time. I was
- Upon my way to Antioch upon business
- Of some importance, but wrapt up in cares
- (Who is exempt from this inheritance)
- I parted from my company, and lost
- My way, and lost my servants and my comrades.
- ’Tis singular, that even within the sight
- Of the high towers of Antioch, you could lose
- Your way. Of all the avenues and green paths
- Of this wild wood there is not one but leads
- As to its centre, to the walls of Antioch;
- Take which you will you cannot miss your road.
- And such is ignorance! Even in the sight
- Of knowledge it can draw no profit from it.
- But as it still is early, and as I
- Have no acquaintances in Antioch,
- Being a stranger there, I will even wait
- The few surviving hours of the day,
- Until the night shall conquer it. I see
- Both by your dress and by the books in which
- You find delight and company, that you
- Are a great student;—for my part, I feel
- Much sympathy with such pursuits.
- No,—and yet I know enough
- Not to be wholly ignorant.
- Pray, Sir,
- What science may you know?—
- Much pains must we expend on one alone,
- And even then attain it not;—but you
- Have the presumption to assert that you
- Know many without study.
- And with truth.
- For in the country whence I come, sciences
- Require no learning,—they are known.
- Oh, would
- I were of that bright country! for in this
- The more we study, we the more discover
- Our ignorance.
- It is so true that I
- Had so much arrogance as to oppose
- The chair of the most high Professorship,
- And obtained many votes, and though I lost,
- The attempt was still more glorious, than the failure
- Could be dishonourable: if you believe not,
- Let us refer it to dispute respecting
- That which you know best, and although I
- Know not the opinion you maintain, and though
- It be the true one, I will take the contrary.
- The offer gives me pleasure. I am now
- Debating with myself upon a passage
- Of Plinius, and my mind is racked with doubt
- To understand and know who is the God
- Of whom he speaks.
- It is a passage, if
- I recollect it right, couched in these words:
- “God is one supreme goodness, one pure essence,
- One substance, and one sense, all sight, all hands.”
- What difficulty find you here?
- I do not recognise among the Gods
- The God defined by Plinius; if he must
- Be supreme goodness, even Jupiter
- Is not supremely good; because we see
- His deeds are evil, and his attributes
- Tainted with mortal weakness; in what manner
- Can supreme goodness be consistent with
- The passions of humanity?
- The wisdom
- Of the old world masked with the names of Gods,
- The attributes of Nature and of Man;
- A sort of popular philosophy.
- This reply will not satisfy me, for
- Such awe is due to the high name of God
- That ill should never be imputed. Then,
- Examining the question with more care,
- It follows, that the gods should always will
- That which is best, were they supremely good.
- How then does one will one thing—one another?
- And you may not say that I allege
- Poetical or philosophic learning:—
- Consider the ambiguous responses
- Of their oracular statues; from two shrines
- Two armies shall obtain the assurance of
- One victory. Is it not indisputable
- That two contending wills can never lead
- To the same end? And being opposite,
- If one be good is not the other evil?
- Evil in God is inconceivable;
- But supreme goodness fails among the gods
- Without their union.
- I deny your major.
- These responses are means towards some end
- Unfathomed by our intellectual beam.
- They are the work of providence, and more
- The battle’s loss may profit those who lose,
- Than victory advantage those who win.
- That I admit, and yet that God should not
- (Falsehood is incompatible with deity)
- Assure the victory; it would be enough
- To have permitted the defeat; if God
- Be all sight,—God, who beheld the truth,
- Would not have given assurance of an end
- Never to be accomplished; thus, although
- The Deity may according to his attributes
- Be well distinguished into persons, yet,
- Even in the minutest circumstance,
- His essence must be one.
- To attain the end
- The affections of the actors in the scene
- Must have been thus influenced by his voice.
- But for a purpose thus subordinate
- He might have employed genii, good or evil,—
- A sort of spirits called so by the learned,
- Who roam about inspiring good or evil,
- And from whose influence and existence we
- May well infer our immortality:—
- Thus God might easily, without descending
- To a gross falsehood in his proper person,
- Have moved the affections by this mediation
- To the just point.
- These trifling contradictions
- Do not suffice to impugn the unity
- Of the high gods; in things of great importance
- They still appear unanimous; consider
- That glorious fabric—man,—his workmanship,
- Is stamped with one conception.
- Who made man
- Must have, methinks, the advantage of the others.
- If they are equal, might they not have risen
- In opposition to the work, and being
- All hands, according to our author here,
- Have still destroyed even as the other made?
- If equal in their power, and only unequal
- In opportunity, which of the two
- Will remain conqueror?
- On impossible
- And false hypothesis there can be built
- No argument. Say, what do you infer
- From this?
- That there must be a mighty God
- Of supreme goodness and of highest grace,
- All sight, all hands, all truth, infallible,
- Without an equal and without a rival;
- The cause of all things and the effect of nothing,
- One power, one will, one substance, and one essence.
- And in whatever persons, one or two,
- His attributes may be distinguished, one
- Sovereign power, one solitary essence,
- One cause of all cause. [They rise.
- How can I impugn
- So clear a consequence?
- Who but regrets a check
- In rivalry of wit? I could reply
- And urge new difficulties, but will now
- Depart, for I hear steps of men approaching,
- And it is time that I should now pursue
- My journey to the city.
- Remain in peace! Since thus it profits him
- To study, I will wrap his senses up
- In sweet oblivion of all thought, but of
- A piece of excellent beauty; and as I
- Have power given me to wage enmity
- Against Justina’s soul, I will extract
- From one effect two vengeances. [Exit.
- I never
- Met a more learned person. Let me now
- Revolve this doubt again with careful mind. [He reads.
- Here stop. These toppling rocks and tangled boughs,
- Impenetrable by the noonday beam,
- Shall be sole witnesses of what we —
- If there were words, here is the place for deeds.
- Thou needest not instruct me; well I know
- That in the field the silent tongue of steel
- Speaks thus. [They fight.
- Ha! what is this? Lelio, Floro,
- Be it enough that Cyprian stands between you,
- Although unarmed.
- Whence comest thou, to stand
- Between me and my vengeance?
- From what rocks
- And desart cells?
- Run, run! for where we left my master
- We hear the clash of swords.
- I never
- Run to approach things of this sort, but only
- To avoid them. Sir! Cyprian! sir!
- Be silent, fellows! What! two friends who are
- In blood and fame the eyes and hope of Antioch;
- One of the noble men of the Colatti,
- The other son of the Governor, adventure
- And cast away, on some slight cause no doubt,
- Two lives the honour of their country?
- Although my high respect towards your person
- Holds now my sword suspended, thou canst not
- Restore it to the slumber of its scabbard.
- Thou knowest more of science than the duel;
- For when two men of honour take the field,
- No [[ ]] or respect can make them friends,
- But one must die in the pursuit.
- I pray
- That you depart hence with your people, and
- Leave us to finish what we have begun
- Without advantage.
- Though you may imagine
- That I know little of the laws of duel,
- Which vanity and valour instituted,
- You are in error. By my birth I am
- Held no less than yourselves to know the limits
- Of honour and of infamy, nor has study
- Quenched the free spirit which first ordered them;
- And thus to me, as one well experienced
- In the false quicksands of the sea of honour,
- You may refer the merits of the case;
- And if I should perceive in your relation
- That either has the right to satisfaction
- From the other, I give you my word of honour
- To leave you.
- Under this condition then
- I will relate the cause, and you will cede
- And must confess th’ impossibility
- Of compromise; for the same lady is
- Beloved by Floro and myself.
- It seems
- Much to me that the light of day should look
- Upon that idol of my heart—but he—
- Leave us to fight, according to thy word.
- Permit one question further: is the lady
- Impossible to hope or not?
- She is
- So excellent, that if the light of day
- Should excite Floro’s jealousy, it were
- Without just cause, for even the light of day
- Trembles to gaze on her.
- Would you for your
- Part marry her?
- O, would that I could lift my hope
- So high? for though she is extremely poor,
- Her virtue is her dowry.
- And if you both
- Would marry her, is it not weak and vain,
- Culpable and unworthy, thus beforehand
- To slur her honour. What would the world say
- If one should slay the other, and if she
- Should afterwards espouse the murderer?
[The rivals agree to refer their quarrel toCyprian;who in consequence visitsJustina,and becomes enamoured of her: she disdains him, and he retires to a solitary sea-shore.
- Oh, memory! permit it not
- That the tyrant of my thought
- Be another soul that still
- Holds dominion o’er the will,
- That would refuse, but can no more,
- To bend, to tremble, and adore.
- Vain idolatry!—I saw,
- And gazing, became blind with error;
- Weak ambition, which the awe
- Of her presence bound to terror!
- So beautiful she was—and I,
- Between my love and jealousy,
- Am so convulsed with hope and fear,
- Unworthy as it may appear;—
- So bitter is the life I live,
- That, hear me, Hell! I now would give
- To thy most detested spirit
- My soul, for ever to inherit,
- To suffer punishment and pine,
- So this woman may be mine.
- Hear’st thou, Hell! dost thou reject it?
- My soul is offered!
[Tempest, with thunder and lightning.
- What is this? ye heavens for ever pure,
- At once intensely radiant and obscure!
- Athwart the etherial halls
- The lightning’s arrow and the thunder-balls
- The day affright.
- As from the horizon round,
- Burst with earthquake sound,
- In mighty torrents the electric fountains;—
- Clouds quench the sun, and thunder smoke
- Strangles the air, and fire eclipses heaven.
- Philosophy, thou canst not even
- Compel their causes underneath thy yoke,
- From yonder clouds even to the waves below
- The fragments of a single ruin choke
- Imagination’s flight;
- For, on flakes of surge, like feathers light,
- The ashes of the desolation cast
- Upon the gloomy blast,
- Tell of the footsteps of the storm.
- And nearer see the melancholy form
- Of a great ship, the outcast of the sea,
- Drives miserably!
- And it must fly the pity of the port,
- Or perish, and its last and sole resort
- Is its own raging enemy.
- The terror of the thrilling cry
- Was a fatal prophesy
- Of coming death, who hovers now
- Upon that shattered prow,
- That they who die not may be dying still.
- And not alone the insane elements
- Are populous with wild portents,
- But that sad ship is as a miracle
- Of sudden ruin, for it drives so fast
- It seems as if it had arrayed its form
- With the headlong storm.
- It strikes—I almost feel the shock,—
- It stumbles on a jagged rock,—
- Sparkles of blood on the white foam are cast.
A Tempest—All exclaim within,
- Now from this plank will I
- Pass to the land and thus fulfil my scheme.
- As in contempt of the elemental rage
- A man comes forth in safety, while the ship’s
- Great form is in a watery eclipse
- Obliterated from the Ocean’s page,
- And round its wreck the huge sea-monsters sit,
- A horrid conclave, and the whistling wave
- Are heaped over its carcase, like a grave.
TheDæmonenters, as escaped from the sea.
- It was essential to my purposes
- To wake a tumult on the sapphire ocean,
- That in this unknown form I might at length
- Wipe out the blot of the discomfiture
- Sustained upon the mountain, and assail
- With a new war the soul of Cyprian,
- Forging the instruments of his destruction
- Even from his love and from his wisdom.—Oh!
- Beloved earth, dear mother, in thy bosom
- I seek a refuge from the monster who
- Precipitates itself upon me.
- Collect thyself; and be the memory
- Of thy late suffering, and thy greatest sorrow
- But as a shadow of the past,—for nothing
- Beneath the circle of the moon, but flows
- And changes, and can never know repose.
- And who art thou, before whose feet my fate
- Has prostrated me?
- One who moved with pity,
- Would soothe its stings.
- Oh! that can never be!
- No solace can my lasting sorrows find.
- Because my happiness is lost.
- Yet I lament what has long ceased to be
- The object of desire or memory,
- And my life is not life.
- Now, since the fury
- Of this earthquaking hurricane is still,
- And the crystalline heaven has reassumed
- Its windless calm so quickly, that it seems
- As if its heavy wrath had been awakened
- Only to overwhelm that vessel,—speak,
- Who art thou, and whence comest thou?
- Far more
- My coming hither cost, than thou hast seen
- Or I can tell. Among my misadventures
- This shipwreck is the least. Wilt thou hear?
- Since thou desirest, I will then unveil
- Myself to thee;—for in myself I am
- A world of happiness and misery;
- This I have lost, and that I must lament
- For ever. In my attributes I stood
- So high and so heroically great,
- In lineage so supreme, and with a genius
- Which penetrated with a glance the world
- Beneath my feet, that won by my high merit
- A king—whom I may call the king of kings,
- Because all others tremble in their pride
- Before the terrors of his countenance,
- In his high palace roofed with brightest gems
- Of living light—call them the stars of Heaven—
- Named me his counsellor. But the high praise
- Stung me with pride and envy, and I rose
- In mighty competition, to ascend
- His seat and place my foot triumphantly
- Upon his subject thrones. Chastised, I know
- The depth to which ambition falls; too mad
- Was the attempt, and yet more mad were now
- Repentance of the irrevocable deed:—
- Therefore I chose this ruin with the glory
- Of not to be subdued, before the shame
- Of reconciling me with him who reigns
- By coward cession.—Nor was I alone,
- Nor am I now, nor shall I be alone;
- And there was hope, and there may still be hope,
- For many suffrages among his vassals
- Hailed me their lord and king, and many still
- Are mine, and many more, perchance shall be.
- Thus vanquished, though in fact victorious,
- I left his seat of empire, from mine eye
- Shooting forth poisonous lightning, while my words
- With inauspicious thunderings shook Heaven,
- Proclaiming vengeance, public as my wrong,
- And imprecating on his prostrate slaves
- Rapine, and death, and outrage. Then I sailed
- Over the mighty fabric of the world,
- A pirate ambushed in its pathless sands,
- A lynx crouched watchfully among its caves
- And craggy shores; and I have wandered over
- The expanse of these wide wildernesses
- In this great ship, whose bulk is now dissolved
- In the light breathings of the invisible wind,
- And which the sea has made a dustless ruin,
- Seeking ever a mountain, through whose forests
- I seek a man, whom I must now compel
- To keep his word with me. I came arrayed
- In tempest, and although my power could well
- Bridle the forest winds in their career,
- For other causes I forbore to soothe
- Their fury to Favonian gentleness,
- I could and would not; (thus I wake in him [Aside.
- A love of magic art.) Let not this tempest,
- Nor the succeeding calm excite thy wonder;
- For by my art the sun would turn as pale
- As his weak sister with unwonted fear.
- And in my wisdom are the orbs of Heaven
- Written as in a record; I have pierced
- The flaming circles of their wondrous spheres
- And know them as thou knowest every corner
- Of this dim spot. Let it not seem to thee
- That I boast vainly; wouldst thou that I work
- A charm over this waste and savage wood,
- This Babylon of crags and aged trees,
- Filling its leafy coverts with a horror
- Thrilling and strange? I am the friendless guest
- Of these wild oaks and pines—and as from thee
- I have received the hospitality
- Of this rude place, I offer thee the fruit
- Of years of toil in recompense; whate’er
- Thy wildest dream presented to thy thought
- As object of desire, that shall be thine.
- * * * *
- And thenceforth shall so firm an amity
- ’Twixt thou and me be, that neither fortune,
- The monstrous phantom which pursues success,
- That careful miser, that free prodigal,
- Who ever alternates with changeful hand,
- Evil and good, reproach and fame; nor Time,
- That loadstar of the ages, to whose beam
- The winged years speed o’er the intervals
- Of their unequal revolutions; nor
- Heaven itself, whose beautiful bright stars
- Rule and adorn the world, can ever make
- The least division between thee and me,
- Since now I find a refuge in thy favour.
TheDæmontemptsJustina,who is a Christian.
- Abyss of Hell! I call on thee,
- Thou wild misrule of thine own anarchy!
- From thy prison-house set free
- The spirits of voluptuous death,
- That with their mighty breath
- They may destroy a world of virgin thoughts;
- Let her chaste mind with fancies thick as motes
- Be peopled from thy shadowy deep,
- Till her guiltless phantasy
- Full to overflowing be!
- And with sweetest harmony,
- Let birds, and flowers, and leaves, and all things move
- To love, only to love.
- Let nothing meet her eyes
- But signs of Love’s soft victories;
- Let nothing meet her ear
- But sounds of love’s sweet sorrow,
- So that from faith no succour she may borrow,
- But, guided by my spirit blind
- And in a magic snare entwined,
- She may now seek Cyprian.
- Begin, while I in silence bind
- My voice, when thy sweet song thou hast began.
a voice within.
- What is the glory far above
- All else in human life?
[While these words are sung, theDæmongoes out at one door, andJustinaenters at another.
the first voice.
- There is no form in which the fire
- Of love its traces has impressed not.
- Man lives far more in love’s desire
- Than by life’s breath, soon possessed not.
- If all that lives must love or die,
- All shapes on earth, or sea, or sky,
- With one consent to Heaven cry
- That the glory far above
- All else in life is—
- Thou melancholy thought which art
- So fluttering and so sweet, to thee
- When did I give the liberty
- Thus to afflict my heart?
- What is the cause of this new power
- Which doth my fevered being move,
- Momently raging more and more?
- What subtle pain is kindled now
- Which from my heart doth overflow
- Into my senses?—
- ’Tis that enamoured nightingale
- Who gives me the reply;
- He ever tells the same soft tale
- Of passion and of constancy
- To his mate, who rapt and fond
- Listening sits, a bough beyond.
- Be silent, Nightingale—no more
- Make me think, in hearing thee
- Thus tenderly thy love deplore,
- If a bird can feel his so,
- What a man would feel for me.
- And, voluptuous vine, O thou
- Who seekest most when least pursuing,—
- To the trunk thou interlacest
- Art the verdure which embracest,
- And the weight which is its ruin,—
- No more, with green embraces, vine,
- Make me think on what thou lovest,—
- For whilst thou thus thy boughs entwine,
- I fear lest thou should’st teach me, sophist,
- How arms might be entangled too.
- Light-enchanted sunflower, thou
- Who gazest ever true and tender
- On the sun’s revolving splendour!
- Follow not his faithless glance
- With thy faded countenance,
- Nor teach my beating heart to fear,
- If leaves can mourn without a tear,
- How eyes must weep! O Nightingale,
- Cease from thy enamoured tale,—
- Leafy vine, unwreathe thy bower,
- Restless sunflower, cease to move,—
- Or tell me all, what poisonous power
- Ye use against me—
- It cannot be!—Whom have I ever loved?
- Trophies of my oblivion and disdain,
- Floro and Lelio did I not reject?
- And Cyprian?—
[She becomes troubled at the name of Cyprian.
- Did I not requite him
- With such severity, that he has fled
- Where none has ever heard of him again?—
- Alas! I now begin to fear that this
- May be the occasion whence desire grows bold,
- As if there were no danger. From the moment
- That I pronounced to my own listening heart,
- Cyprian is absent, O me miserable!
- I know not what I feel! [More calmly.
- It must be pity
- To think that such a man, whom all the world
- Admired, should be forgot by all the world,
- And I the cause. [She again becomes troubled.
- And yet if it were pity,
- Floro and Lelio might have equal share,
- For they are both imprisoned for my sake. [Calmly.
- Alas! what reasonings are these? it is
- Enough I pity him, and that, in vain,
- Without this ceremonious subtlety.
- And woe is me! I know not where to find him now,
- Even should I seek him through this wide world.
- Follow, and I will lead thee where he is.
- And who art thou, who hast found entrance hither,
- Into my chamber through the doors and locks?
- Art thou a monstrous shadow which my madness
- Has formed in the idle air?
- No. I am one
- Called by the thought which tyrannizes thee
- From his eternal dwelling; who this day
- Is pledged to bear thee unto Cyprian.
- So shall thy promise fail. This agony
- Of passion which afflicts my heart and soul
- May sweep imagination in its storm,
- The will is firm.
- Already half is done
- In the imagination of an act.
- The sin incurred, the pleasure then remains,
- Let not the will stop half-way on the road.
- I will not be discouraged, nor despair,
- Although I thought it, and although ’tis true,
- That thought is but a prelude to the deed:—
- Thought is not in my power, but action is:
- I will not move my foot to follow thee.
- But far a mightier wisdom than thine own
- Exerts itself within thee, with such power
- Compelling thee to that which it inclines
- That it shall force thy step; how wilt thou then
- Resist, Justina?
- It is invincible;
- It were not free if thou hadst power upon it.
[He draws, but cannot move her.
- Come, where a pleasure waits thee.
- ’Twill soothe thy heart to softest peace.
- ’Tis shame, ’tis torment, ’tis despair.
- But how
- Canst thou defend thyself from that or me,
- If my power drags thee onward?
- My defence
- Consists in God.
[He vainly endeavours to force her, and at last releases her.
- Woman, thou hast subdued me,
- Only by not owning thyself subdued.
- But since thou thus findest defence in God,
- I will assume a feigned form, and thus
- Make thee a victim of my baffled rage.
- For I will mask a spirit in thy form
- Who will betray thy name to infamy,
- And doubly shall I triumph in thy loss,
- First by dishonouring thee, and then by turning
- False pleasure to true ignominy. [Exit.
- Appeal to Heaven against thee; so that Heaven
- May scatter thy delusions, and the blot
- Upon my fame vanish in idle thought,
- Even as flame dies in the envious air,
- And as the flowret wanes at morning frost,
- And thou shouldst never—But, alas! to whom
- Do I still speak?—Did not a man but now
- Stand here before me?—No, I am alone,
- And yet I saw him. Is he gone so quickly?
- Or can the heated mind engender shapes
- From its own fear? Some terrible and strange
- Peril is near. Lisander! father! lord!
- Saw you
- A man go forth from my apartment now?—
- I scarce sustain myself!
- ’Tis impossible; the doors
- Which led to this apartment were all locked.
- I dare say it was Moscon whom she saw,
- For he was locked up in my room.
- It must
- Have been some image of thy phantasy.
- Such melancholy as thou feedest, is
- Skilful in forming such in the vain air
- Out of the motes and atoms of the day.
- My master’s in the right.
- O, would it were
- Delusion; but I fear some greater ill.
- I feel as if out of my bleeding bosom
- My heart were torn in fragments; aye,
- Some mortal spell is wrought against my frame;
- So potent was the charm, that had not God
- Shielded my humble innocence from wrong,
- I should have sought my sorrow and my shame
- With willing steps.—Livia, quick bring my cloak,
- For I must seek refuge from these extremes
- Even in the temple of the highest God
- Which secretly the faithful worship.
justina(putting on her cloak).
- In this, as in a shroud of snow, may I
- Quench the consuming fire in which I burn,
- Wasting away!
- When I once see them safe out of the house
- I shall breathe freely.
- So do I confide
- In thy just favour, Heaven!
- Thine is the cause, great God! turn for my sake,
- And for thine own, mercifully to me!
FROM THE FAUST OF GOËTHE.
PROLOGUE IN HEAVEN.
The Lord and the Host of Heaven. Enter three Archangels.
- The sun makes music as of old
- Amid the rival spheres of Heaven,
- On its predestined circle rolled
- With thunder speed: the Angels even
- Draw strength from gazing on its glance,
- Though none its meaning fathom may:—
- The world’s unwithered countenance
- Is bright as at creation’s day.
- And swift and swift, with rapid lightness,
- The adorned Earth spins silently,
- Alternating Elysian brightness
- With deep and dreadful night; the sea
- Foams in broad billows from the deep
- Up to the rocks, and rocks and ocean,
- Onward, with spheres which never sleep,
- Are hurried in eternal motion.
- And tempests in contention roar
- From land to sea, from sea to land;
- And, raging, weave a chain of power,
- Which girds the earth, as with a band.—
- A flashing desolation there,
- Flames before the thunder’s way;
- But thy servants, Lord, revere
- The gentle changes of thy day.
chorus of the three.
- The Angels draw strength from thy glance,
- Though no one comprehend thee may;—
- Thy world’s unwithered countenance
- Is bright as on creation’s day.
- As thou, O Lord, once more art kind enough
- To interest thyself in our affairs—
- And ask, “How goes it with you there below?”
- And as indulgently at other times
- Thou tookedst not my visits in ill part,
- Thou seest me here once more among thy household.
- Though I should scandalize this company,
- You will excuse me if I do not talk
- In the high style which they think fashionable;
- My pathos would certainly make you laugh too,
- Had you not long since given over laughing.
- Nothing know I to say of suns and worlds;
- I observe only how men plague themselves;—
- The little god o’ the world keeps the same stamp,
- As wonderful as on creation’s day:—
- A little better would he live, hadst thou
- Not given him a glimpse of heaven’s light
- Which he calls reason, and employs it only
- To live more beastlily than any beast.
- With reverence to your Lordship be it spoken,
- He’s like one of those long-legged grasshoppers,
- Who flits and jumps about, and sings for ever
- The same old song i’ the grass. There let him lie,
- Burying his nose in every heap of dung.
- Have you no more to say? Do you come here
- Always to scold, and cavil, and complain?
- Seems nothing ever right to you on earth?
- No, Lord! I find all there, as ever, bad at best.
- Even I am sorry for man’s days of sorrow;
- I could myself almost give up the pleasure
- Of plaguing the poor things.
- In truth
- He serves you in a fashion quite his own;
- And the fool’s meat and drink are not of earth.
- His aspirations bear him on so far
- That he is half aware of his own folly,
- For he demands from Heaven its fairest star,
- And from the earth the highest joy it bears,
- Yet all things far, and all things near, are vain
- To calm the deep emotions of his breast.
- Though he now serves me in a cloud of error,
- I will soon lead him forth to the clear day.
- When trees look green full well the gardener knows
- That fruits and blooms will deck the coming year.
- What will you bet?—now I am sure of winning—
- Only, observe you give me full permission
- To lead him softly on my path.
- As long
- As he shall live upon the earth, so long
- Is nothing unto thee forbidden—Man
- Must err till he has ceased to struggle.
- And that is all I ask; for willingly
- I never make acquaintance with the dead.
- The full fresh cheeks of youth are food for me,
- And if a corpse knocks, I am not at home.
- For I am like a cat—I like to play
- A little with the mouse before I eat it.
- Well, well! it is permitted thee. Draw thou
- His spirit from its springs; as thou find’st power,
- Seize him and lead him on thy downward path;
- And stand ashamed when failure teaches thee
- That a good man, even in his darkest longings,
- Is well aware of the right way.
- Well and good.
- I am not in much doubt about my bet,
- And if I lose, then ’tis your turn to crow;
- Enjoy your triumph then with a full breast.
- Aye; dust shall he devour, and that with pleasure,
- Like my old paramour, the famous Snake.
- Pray come here when it suits you; for I never
- Had much dislike for people of your sort.
- And, among all the Spirits who rebelled,
- The knave was ever the least tedious to me.
- The active spirit of man soon sleeps, and soon
- He seeks unbroken quiet; therefore I
- Have given him the Devil for a companion,
- Who may provoke him to some sort of work,
- And must create for ever.—But ye, pure
- Children of God, enjoy eternal beauty;—
- Let that which ever operates and lives
- Clasp you within the limits of its love;
- And seize with sweet and melancholy thoughts
- The floating phantoms of its loveliness.
[Heaven closes; the Archangels exeunt.
- From time to time I visit the old fellow,
- And I take care to keep on good terms with him.
- Civil enough is this same God Almighty,
- To talk so freely with the Devil himself.
FROM THE FAUST OF GOËTHE.
Scene—The Hartz Mountain, a desolate Country.
- Would you not like a broomstick? As for me
- I wish I had a good stout ram to ride;
- For we are still far from th’ appointed place.
- This knotted staff is help enough for me,
- Whilst I feel fresh upon my legs. What good
- Is there in making short a pleasant way?
- To creep along the labyrinths of the vales,
- And climb those rocks, where ever-babbling springs
- Precipitate themselves in waterfalls,
- Is the true sport that seasons such a path.
- Already Spring kindles the birchen spray,
- And the hoar pines already feel her breath:
- Shall she not work also within our limbs?
- Nothing of such an influence do I feel.
- My body is all wintry, and I wish
- The flowers upon our path were frost and snow.
- But see, how melancholy rises now,
- Dimly uplifting her belated beam,
- The blank unwelcome round of the red moon,
- And gives so bad a light, that every step
- One stumbles ’gainst some crag. With your permission,
- I’ll call an Ignis-fatuus to our aid:
- I see one yonder burning jollily.
- Halloo, my friend! may I request that you
- Would favour us with your bright company?
- Why should you blaze away there to no purpose?
- Pray be so good as light us up this way.
- With reverence be it spoken, I will try
- To overcome the lightness of my nature;
- Our course, you know, is generally zig-zag.
- Ha, ha! your worship thinks you have to deal
- With men. Go strait on, in the Devil’s name,
- Or I shall puff your flickering life out.
- I see you are the master of the house;
- I will accommodate myself to you.
- Only consider, that to-night this mountain
- Is all enchanted, and if Jack-a-lantern
- Shows you his way, though you should miss your own,
- You ought not to be too exact with him.
faust, mephistopheles,andignis-fatuus,in alternate Chorus.
- The limits of the sphere of dream,
- The bounds of true and false, are past.
- Lead us on, thou wandering Gleam,
- Lead us onward, far and fast,
- To the wide, the desart waste.
- But see, how swift advance and shift,
- Trees behind trees, row by row,—
- How, clift by clift, rocks bend and lift
- Their frowning foreheads as we go.
- The giant-snouted crags, ho! ho!
- How they snort, and how they blow!
- Through the mossy sods and stones,
- Stream and streamlet hurry down
- A rushing throng! A sound of song
- Beneath the vault of Heaven is blown!
- Sweet notes of love, the speaking tones
- Of this bright day, sent down to say
- That Paradise on Earth is known,
- Resound around, beneath, above.
- All we hope and all we love
- Finds a voice in this blithe strain,
- Which wakens hill and wood and rill,
- And vibrates far o’er field and vale,
- And which Echo, like the tale
- Of old times, repeats again.
- To whoo! to whoo! near, nearer now
- The sound of song, the rushing throng!
- Are the screech, the lapwing, and the jay,
- All awake as if ’twere day?
- See, with long legs and belly wide,
- A salamander in the brake!
- Every root is like a snake,
- And along the loose hill side,
- With strange contortions through the night,
- Curls, to seize or to affright;
- And, animated, strong, and many,
- They dart forth polypus-antennæ,
- To blister with their poison spume
- The wanderer. Through the dazzling gloom
- The many-coloured mice, that thread
- The dewy turf beneath our tread,
- In troops each other’s motions cross,
- Through the heath and through the moss;
- And, in legions intertangled,
- The fire-flies flit, and swarm, and throng,
- Till all the mountain depths are spangled.
- Tell me, shall we go or stay?
- Shall we onward? Come along!
- Everything around is swept
- Forward, onward, far away!
- Trees and masses intercept
- The sight, and wisps on every side
- Are puffed up and multiplied.
- Now vigorously seize my skirt, and gain
- This pinnacle of isolated crag.
- One may observe with wonder from this point,
- How Mammon glows among the mountains.
- And strangely through the solid depth below
- A melancholy light, like the red dawn,
- Shoots from the lowest gorge of the abyss
- Of mountains, lightning hitherward: there rise
- Pillars of smoke, here clouds float gently by;
- Here the light burns soft as the enkindled air,
- Or the illumined dust of golden flowers;
- And now it glides like tender colours spreading;
- And now bursts forth in fountains from the earth;
- And now it winds, one torrent of broad light,
- Through the far valley with a hundred veins;
- And now once more within that narrow corner
- Masses itself into intensest splendour.
- And near us, see, sparks spring out of the ground,
- Like golden sand scattered upon the darkness;
- The pinnacles of that black wall of mountains
- That hems us in, are kindled.
- Rare, in faith!
- Does not Sir Mammon gloriously illuminate
- His palace for this festival—it is
- A pleasure which you had not known before.
- I spy the boisterous guests already.
- The children of the wind rage in the air!
- With what fierce strokes they fall upon my neck!
- Cling tightly to the old ribs of the crag.
- Beware! for if with them thou warrest
- In their fierce flight towards the wilderness,
- Their breath will sweep thee into dust, and drag
- Thy body to a grave in the abyss.
- A cloud thickens the night.
- Hark! how the tempest crashes through the forest!
- The owls fly out in strange affright;
- The columns of the evergreen palaces
- Are split and shattered;
- The roots creak, and stretch, and groan;
- And ruinously overthrown,
- The trunks are crushed and shattered
- By the fierce blast’s unconquerable stress.
- Over each other crack and crash they all
- In terrible and intertangled fall;
- And through the ruins of the shaken mountain
- The airs hiss and howl—
- It is not the voice of the fountain,
- Nor the wolf in his midnight prowl.
- Dost thou not hear?
- Strange accents are ringing
- Aloft, afar, anear;
- The witches are singing!
- The torrent of a raging wizard song
- Streams the whole mountain along.
chorus of witches.
- The stubble is yellow, the corn is green,
- Now to the Brocken the witches go;
- The mighty multitude here may be seen
- Gathering, wizard and witch, below.
- Sir Urean is sitting aloft in the air;
- Hey over stock! and hey over stone!
- ’Twixt witches and incubi, what shall be done?
- Tell it who dare! tell it who dare!
- Upon a sow-swine, whose farrows were nine,
- Old Baubo rideth alone.
- Honour her, to whom honour is due,
- Old mother Baubo, honour to you!
- An able sow, with old Baubo upon her,
- Is worthy of glory, and worthy of honour!
- The legion of witches is coming behind,
- Darkening the night, and outspeeding the wind—
- Over Ilsenstein;
- The owl was awake in the white moon-shine;
- I saw her at rest in her downy nest,
- And she stared at me with her broad, bright eye.
- And you may now as well, take your course on to Hell,
- Since you ride by so fast, on the headlong blast.
- She dropt poison upon me as I past.
- Here are the wounds—
chorus of witches.
- Come away! come along!
- The way is wide, the way is long,
- But what is that for a Bedlam throng?
- Stick with the prong, and scratch with the broom,
- The child in the cradle lies strangled at home,
- And the mother is clapping her hands.—
semi-chorus of wizards i.
- We glide in
- Like snails when the women are all away;
- And from a house once given over to sin
- Woman has a thousand steps to stray.
- A thousand steps must a woman take,
- Where a man but a single spring will make.
- Come with us, come with us, from Felunsee.
- With what joy would we fly, through the upper sky!
- We are washed, we are ’nointed, stark naked are we;
- But our toil and our pain, is for ever in vain.
- The wind is still, the stars are fled,
- The melancholy moon is dead;
- The magic notes, like spark on spark,
- Drizzle, whistling through the dark.
- Come away!
- Out of the crannies of the rocks,
- Who calls?
- Oh, let me join your flocks!
- I, three hundred years have striven
- To catch your skirt and mount to Heaven,—
- And still in vain. Oh, might I be
- With company akin to me!
- Some on a ram and some on a prong,
- On poles and on broomsticks we flutter along;
- Forlorn is the wight, who can rise not to-night.
a half-witch below.
- I have been tripping this many an hour:
- Are the others already so far before?
- No quiet at home, and no peace abroad!
- And less methinks is found by the road.
chorus of witches.
- Come onward away! aroint thee, aroint!
- A witch to be strong must anoint—anoint—
- Then every trough, will be boat enough;
- With a rag for a sail we can sweep through the sky,
- Who flies not to-night, when means he to fly?
- We cling to the skirt, and we strike on the ground;
- Witch-legions thicken around and around;
- Wizard-swarms cover the heath all over.
- What thronging, dashing, raging, rustling;
- What whispering, babbling, hissing, bustling;
- What glimmering, spurting, stinking, burning,
- As Heaven and Earth were overturning.
- There is a true witch element about us,
- Take hold on me, or we shall be divided:—
- Where are you?
faust(from a distance.)
- I must exert my authority in the house.
- Place for young Voland! pray make way, good people.
- Take hold on me, doctor, and with one step
- Let us escape from this unpleasant crowd:
- They are too mad for people of my sort.
- Just there shines a peculiar kind of light—
- Something attracts me in those bushes. Come
- This way: we shall slip down there in a minute.
- Spirit of Contradiction! Well, lead on—
- ’Twere a wise feat indeed to wander out
- Into the Brocken upon May-day night,
- And then to isolate oneself in scorn,
- Disgusted with the humours of the time.
- See yonder, round a many-coloured flame
- A merry club is huddled altogether:
- Even with such little people as sit there
- One would not be alone.
- Would that I were
- Up yonder in the glow and whirling smoke,
- Where the blind million rush impetuously
- To meet the evil ones; there might I solve
- Many a riddle that torments me!
- Many a riddle there is tied anew
- Inextricably. Let the great world rage!
- We will stay here safe in the quiet dwellings.
- ’Tis an old custom. Men have ever built
- Their own small world in the great world of all.
- I see young witches naked there, and old ones
- Wisely attired with greater decency.
- Be guided now by me, and you shall buy
- A pound of pleasure with a dram of trouble.
- I hear them tune their instruments—one must
- Get used to this damned scraping. Come, I’ll lead you
- Among them; and what there you do and see,
- As a fresh compact ’twixt us two shall be.
- How say you now? this space is wide enough—
- Look forth, you cannot see the end of it—
- An hundred bonfires burn in rows, and they
- Who throng around them seem innumerable:
- Dancing and drinking, jabbering, making love,
- And cooking, are at work. Now tell me, friend,
- What is there better in the world than this?
- In introducing us, do you assume
- The character of wizard or of devil?
- In truth, I generally go about
- In strict incognito; and yet one likes
- To wear one’s orders upon gala days.
- I have no ribbon at my knee; but here
- At home, the cloven foot is honourable.
- See you that snail there?—she comes creeping up,
- And with her feeling eyes hath smelt out something,
- I could not, if I would, mask myself here.
- Come now, we’ll go about from fire to fire:
- I’ll be the pimp, and you shall be the lover.
[To some Old Women, who are sitting round a heap of glimmering coals.
- Old gentlewomen, what do you do out here?
- You ought to be with the young rioters
- Right in the thickest of the revelry—
- But every one is best content at home.
- Who dare confide in right or a just claim?
- So much as I had done for them! and now—
- With women and the people ’tis the same,
- Youth will stand foremost ever,—age may go
- To the dark grave unhonoured.
- People assert their rights: they go too far;
- But as for me, the good old times I praise;
- Then we were all in all, ’twas something worth
- One’s while to be in place and wear a star;
- That was indeed the golden age on earth.
- We too are active, and we did and do
- What we ought not, perhaps; and yet we now
- Will seize, whilst all things are whirled round and round,
- A spoke of Fortune’s wheel, and keep our ground.
- Who now can taste a treatise of deep sense
- And ponderous volume? ’tis impertinence
- To write what none will read, therefore will I
- To please the young and thoughtless people try.
(Who at once appears to have grown very old).
- I find the people ripe for the last day,
- Since I last came up to the wizard mountain;
- And as my little cask runs turbid now,
- So is the world drained to the dregs.
- Look here,
- Gentlemen; do not hurry on so fast
- And lose the chance of a good pennyworth.
- I have a pack full of the choicest wares
- Of every sort, and yet in all my bundle
- Is nothing like what may be found on earth;
- Nothing that in a moment will make rich
- Men and the world with fine malicious mischief—
- There is no dagger drunk with blood; no bowl
- From which consuming poison may be drained
- By innocent and healthy lips; no jewel,
- The price of an abandoned maiden’s shame;
- No sword which cuts the bond it cannot loose,
- Or stabs the wearer’s enemy in the back;
- Gossip, you know little of these times.
- What has been, has been; what is done, is past.
- They shape themselves into the innovations
- They breed, and innovation drags us with it.
- The torrent of the crowd sweeps over us,
- You think to impel, and are yourself impelled.
- Mark her well. It is
- Lilith, the first wife of Adam.
- Beware of her fair hair, for she excels
- All women in the magic of her locks;
- And when she winds them round a young man’s neck,
- She will not ever set him free again.
- There sit a girl and an old woman—they
- Seem to be tired with pleasure and with play.
- There is no rest to-night for any one:
- When one dance ends another is begun;
- Come, let us to it; We shall have rare fun.
[Faust dances and sings with a Girl, and Mephistopheles with an Old Woman.
- What is this cursed multitude about?
- Have we not long since proved to demonstration
- That ghosts move not on ordinary feet?
- But these are dancing just like men and women.
- What does he want then at our ball?
- Oh! he
- Is far above us all in his conceit:
- Whilst we enjoy, he reasons of enjoyment;
- And any step which in our dance we tread,
- If it be left out of his reckoning.
- Is not to be considered as a step.
- There are few things that scandalize him not:
- And when you whirl round in the circle now,
- As he went round the wheel in his old mill,
- He says that you go wrong in all respects,
- Especially if you congratulate him
- Upon the strength of the resemblance.
- Vanish! Unheard of impudence! What, still there!
- In this enlightened age too, since you have been
- Proved not to exist!—But this infernal brood
- Will hear no reason and endure no rule.
- Are we so wise, and is the pond still haunted?
- How long have I been sweeping out this rubbish
- Of superstition, and the world will not
- Come clean with all my pains!—it is a case
- Unheard of!
- Then leave off teazing us so.
- I tell you, spirits, to your faces now,
- That I should not regret this despotism
- Of spirits, but that mine can wield it not.
- To-night I shall make poor work of it,
- Yet I will take a round with you, and hope
- Before my last step in the living dance
- To beat the poet and the devil together.
- At last he will sit down in some foul puddle;
- That is his way of solacing himself;
- Until some leech, diverted with his gravity,
- Cures him of spirits and the spirit together.
[ToFaust,who has seceded from the dance.
- Why do you let that fair girl pass from you,
- Who sung so sweetly to you in the dance?
- A red mouse in the middle of her singing
- Sprung from her mouth.
- That was all right, my friend,
- Be it enough that the mouse was not grey.
- Do not disturb your hour of happiness
- With close consideration of such trifles.
- Seest thou not a pale
- Fair girl, standing alone, far, far away?
- She drags herself now forward with slow steps,
- And seems as if she moved with shackled feet:
- I cannot overcome the thought that she
- Is like poor Margaret.
- Let it be—pass on—
- No good can come of it—it is not well
- To meet it—it is an enchanted phantom,
- A lifeless idol; with its numbing look,
- It freezes up the blood of man; and they
- Who meet its ghastly stare are turned to stone,
- Like those who saw Medusa.
- Oh, too true!
- Her eyes are like the eyes of a fresh corpse
- Which no beloved hand has closed, alas!
- That is the heart which Margaret yielded to me—
- Those are the lovely limbs which I enjoyed!
- It is all magic, poor deluded fool;
- She looks to every one like his first love.
- Oh, what delight! what woe! I cannot turn
- My looks from her sweet piteous countenance.
- How strangely does a single blood-red line,
- Not broader than the sharp edge of a knife,
- Adorn her lovely neck!
- Aye, she can carry
- Her head under her arm upon occasion;
- Perseus has cut it off for her. These pleasures
- End in delusion.—Gain this rising ground,
- It is as airy here as in a 
- And if I am not mightily deceived,
- I see a theatre—What may this mean?
- Quite a new piece, the last of seven, for ’tis
- The custom now to represent that number.
- ’Tis written by a Dilettante, and
- The actors who perform are Dilettanti;
- Excuse me, gentleman; but I must vanish,
- I am a Dilettante curtain-lifter.
- The sun sounds, according to ancient custom,
- In the song of emulation of his brother-spheres.
- And its fore-written circle
- Fulfills with a step of thunder.
- Its countenance gives the Angels strength
- Though no one can fathom it.
- The incredible high works
- Are excellent as at the first day.
- And swift, and inconceivably swift
- The adornment of earth winds itself round,
- And exchanges Paradise-clearness
- With deep dreadful night.
- The sea foams in broad waves
- From its deep bottom, up to the rocks,
- And rocks and sea are torn on together
- In the eternal swift course of the spheres.
- And storms roar in emulation
- From sea to land, from land to sea,
- And make, raging, a chain
- Of deepest operation round about.
- There flames a flashing destruction
- Before the path of the thunderbolt.
- But thy servants, Lord, revere
- The gentle alternations of thy day.
- Thy countenance gives the Angels strength,
- Though none can comprehend thee:
- And all thy lofty works
- Are excellent as at the first day.