printed by c. h. reynell, broad street, golden square.
It had been my wish, on presenting the public with the Posthumous Poems of Mr. Shelley, to have accompanied them by a biographical notice; as it appeared to me, that at this moment, a narration of the events of my husband’s life would come more gracefully from other hands than mine, I applied to Mr. Leigh Hunt. The distinguished friendship that Mr. Shelley felt for him, and the enthusiastic affection with which Mr. Leigh Hunt clings to his friend’s memory, seemed to point him out as the person best calculated for such an undertaking. His absence from this country, which prevented our mutual explanation, has unfortunately rendered my scheme abortive. I do not doubt but that on some other occasion he will pay this tribute to his lost friend, and sincerely regret that the volume which I edit has not been honoured by its insertion.
The comparative solitude in which Mr. Shelley lived, was the occassion that he was personally known to few; and his fearless enthusiasm in the cause, which he considered the most sacred upon earth, the improvement of the moral and physical state of mankind, was the chief reason why he, like other illustrious reformers, was pursued by hatred and calumny. No man was ever more devoted than he, to the endeavour of making those around him happy; no man ever possessed friends more unfeignedly attached to him. The ungrateful world did not feel his loss, and the gap it made seemed to close as quickly over his memory as the murderous sea above his living frame. Hereafter men will lament that his transcendant powers of intellect were extinguished before they had bestowed on them their choicest treasures. To his friends his loss is irremediable: the wise, the brave, the gentle, is gone for ever! He is to them as a bright vision, whose radiant track, left behind in the memory, is worth all the realities that society can afford. Before the critics contradict me, let them appeal to any one who had ever known him: to see him was to love him; and his presence, like Ithuriel’s spear, was alone sufficient to disclose the falsehood of the tale, which his enemies whispered in the ear of the ignorant world.
His life was spent in the contemplation of nature, in arduous study, or in acts of kindness and affection. He was an elegant scholar and a profound metaphysician: without possessing much scientific knowledge, he was unrivalled in the justness and extent of his observations on natural objects; he knew every plant by its name, and was familiar with the history and habits of every production of the earth; he could interpret without a fault each appearance in the sky, and the varied phœnomena of heaven and earth filled him with deep emotion. He made his study and reading-room of the shadowed copse, the stream, the lake and the waterfall. Ill health and continual pain preyed upon his powers, and the solitude in which we lived, particularly on our first arrival in Italy, although congenial to his feelings, must frequently have weighed upon his spirits; those beautiful and affecting “Lines, written in dejection at Naples,” were composed at such an interval; but when in health, his spirits were buoyant and youthful to an extraordinary degree.
Such was his love for nature, that every page of his poetry is associated in the minds of his friends with the loveliest scenes of the countries which he inhabited. In early life he visited the most beautiful parts of this country and Ireland. Afterwards the Alps of Switzerland became his inspirers. “Prometheus Unbound” was written among the deserted and flower-grown ruins of Rome, and when he made his home under the Pisan hills, their roofless recesses harboured him as he composed “The Witch of Atlas,” “Adonais” and “Hellas.” In the wild but beautiful Bay of Spezia, the winds and waves which he loved became his playmates. His days were chiefly spent on the water; the management of his boat, its alterations and improvements, were his principal occupation. At night, when the unclouded moon shone on the calm sea, he often went alone in his little shallop to the rocky caves that bordered it, and sitting beneath their shelter wrote “The Triumph of Life,” the last of his productions. The beauty but strangeness of this lonely place, the refined pleasure which he felt in the companionship of a few selected friends, our entire sequestration from the rest of the world, all contributed to render this period of his life one of continued enjoyment. I am convinced that the two months we passed there were the happiest he had ever known: his health even rapidly improved, and he was never better than when I last saw him, full of spirits and joy, embark for Leghorn, that he might there welcome Leigh Hunt to Italy. I was to have accompanied him, but illness confined me to my room, and thus put the seal on my misfortune. His vessel bore out of sight with a favourable wind, and I remained awaiting his return by the breakers of that sea which was about to engulph him.
He spent a week at Pisa, employed in kind offices towards his friend, and enjoying with keen delight the renewal of their intercourse. He then embarked with Mr. Williams, the chosen and beloved sharer of his pleasures and of his fate, to return to us. We waited for them in vain; the sea by its restless moaning seemed to desire to inform us of what we would not learn:—but a veil may well be drawn over such misery. The real anguish of these moments transcended all the fictions that the most glowing imagination ever pourtrayed: our seclusion, the savage nature of the inhabitants of the surrounding villages, and our immediate vicinity to the troubled sea, combined to embue with strange horror our days of uncertainty. The truth was at last known,—a truth that made our loved and lovely Italy appear a tomb, its sky a pall. Every heart echoed the deep lament, and my only consolation was in the praise and earnest love that each voice bestowed and each countenance demonstrated for him we had lost,—not, I fondly hope, for ever: his unearthly and elevated nature is a pledge of the continuation of his being, although in an altered form. Rome received his ashes; they are deposited beneath its weed-grown wall, and “the world’s sole monument” is enriched by his remains.
I must add a few words concerning the contents of this volume. “Julian and Maddalo,” “The Witch of Atlas,” and most of the Translations, were written some years ago, and, with the exception of “The Cyclops,” and the Scenes from the “Magico Prodigioso,” may be considered as having received the author’s ultimate corrections. “The Triumph of Life” was his last work, and was left in so unfinished a state, that I arranged it in its present form with great difficulty. All his poems which were scattered in periodical works are collected in this volume, and I have added a reprint of “Alastor, or the Spirit of Solitude:”—the difficulty with which a copy can be obtained, is the cause of its republication. Many of the Miscellaneous Poems, written on the spur of the occasion, and never retouched, I found among his manuscript books, and have carefully copied: I have subjoined, whenever I have been able, the date of their composition.
I do not know whether the critics will reprehend the insertion of some of the most imperfect among these; but I frankly own, that I have been more actuated by the fear lest any monument of his genius should escape me, than the wish of presenting nothing but what was complete to the fastidious reader. I feel secure that the Lovers of Shelley’s Poetry (who know how more than any other poet of the present day every line and word he wrote is instinct with peculiar beauty) will pardon and thank me: I consecrate this volume to them.
The size of this collection has prevented the insertion of any prose pieces. They will hereafter appear in a separate publication.
Mary W. Shelley.
London, June 1st, 1824.
JULIAN AND MADDALO;
- The meadows with fresh streams, the bees with thyme,
- The goats with the green leaves of budding spring,
- Are saturated not—nor Love with tears.
JULIAN AND MADDALO.
Count Maddalo is a Venetian nobleman of ancient family and of great fortune, who, without mixing much in the society of his countrymen, resides chiefly at his magnificent palace in that city. He is a person of the most consummate genius; and capable, if he would direct his energies to such an end, of becoming the redeemer of his degraded country. But it is his weakness to be proud: he derives, from a comparison of his own extraordinary mind with the dwarfish intellects that surround him, an intense apprehension of the nothingness of human life. His passions and his powers are incomparably greater than those of other men, and instead of the latter having been employed in curbing the former, they have mutually lent each other strength. His ambition preys upon itself, for want of objects which it can consider worthy of exertion. I say that Maddalo is proud, because I can find no other word to express the concentered and impatient feelings which consume him; but it is on his own hopes and affections only that he seems to trample, for in social life no human being can be more gentle, patient, and unassuming than Maddalo. He is cheerful, frank, and witty. His more serious conversation is a sort of intoxication; men are held by it as by a spell. He has travelled much; and there is an inexpressible charm in his relation of his adventures in different countries.
Julian is an Englishman of good family, passionntely attached to those philosophical notions which assert the power of man over his own mind, and the immense improvements of which, by the extinction of certain moral superstitions, human society may be yet susceptible. Without concealing the evil in the world, he is for ever speculating how good may be made superior. He is a complete infidel, and a scoffer at all things reputed holy; and Maddalo takes a wicked pleasure in drawing out his taunts against religion. What Maddalo thinks on these matters is not exactly known. Julian, in spite of his heterodox opinions, is conjectured by his friends to possess some good qualities. How far this is possible, the pious reader will determine. Julian is rather serious.
Of the Maniac I can give no information. He seems by his own account to have been disappointed in love. He was evidently a very cultivated and amiable person when in his right senses. His story, told at length, might be like many other stories of the same kind: the unconnected exclamations of his agony will perhaps be found a sufficient comment for the text of every heart.
- I rode one evening with Count Maddalo
- Upon the bank of land which breaks the flow
- Of Adria towards Venice: a bare strand
- Of hillocks, heaped from ever-shifting sand,
- Matted with thistles and amphibious weeds,
- Such as from earth’s embrace the salt ooze breeds,
- Is this; an uninhabited sea-side,
- Which the lone fisher, when his nets are dried,
- Abandons; and no other object breaks
- The waste, but one dwarf tree and some few stakes
- Broken and unrepaired, and the tide makes
- A narrow space of level sand thereon,
- Where ’twas our wont to ride while day went down.
- This ride was my delight. I love all waste
- And solitary places; where we taste
- The pleasure of believing what we see
- Is boundless, as we wish our souls to be:
- And such was this wide ocean, and this shore
- More barren than its billows; and yet more
- Than all, with a remembered friend I love
- To ride as then I rode;—for the winds drove
- The living spray along the sunny air
- Into our faces; the blue heavens were bare,
- Stripped to their depths by the awakening north;
- And, from the waves, sound like delight broke forth
- Harmonising with solitude, and sent
- Into our hearts aërial merriment.
- So, as we rode, we talked; and the swift thought,
- Winging itself with laughter, lingered not,
- But flew from brain to brain,—such glee was ours,
- Charged with light memories of remembered hours,
- None slow enough for sadness: till we came
- Homeward, which always makes the spirit tame.
- This day had been cheerful but cold, and now
- The sun was sinking, and the wind also.
- Our talk grew somewhat serious, as may be
- Talk interrupted with such raillery
- As mocks itself, because it cannot scorn
- The thoughts it would extinguish:—’twas forlorn,
- Yet pleasing; such as once, so poets tell,
- The devils held within the dales of hell,
- Concerning God, freewill, and destiny.
- Of all that Earth has been, or yet may be;
- All that vain men imagine or believe,
- Or hope can paint, or suffering can achieve,
- We descanted; and I (for ever still
- Is it not wise to make the best of ill?)
- Argued against despondency; but pride
- Made my companion take the darker side.
- The sense that he was greater than his kind
- Had struck, methinks, his eagle spirit blind
- By gazing on its own exceeding light.
- Meanwhile the sun paused ere it should alight
- Over the horizon of the mountains—Oh!
- How beautiful is sunset, when the glow
- Of heaven descends upon a land like thee,
- Thou paradise of exiles, Italy!
- Thy mountains, seas, and vineyards, and the towers
- Of cities they encircle!—It was ours
- To stand on thee, beholding it: and then,
- Just where we had dismounted, the Count’s men
- Were waiting for us with the gondola.
- As those who pause on some delightful way,
- Tho’ bent on pleasant pilgrimage, we stood,
- Looking upon the evening and the flood,
- Which lay between the city and the shore,
- Paved with the image of the sky: the hoar
- And aery Alps, towards the north, appeared,
- Thro’ mist, an heaven-sustaining bulwark, reared
- Between the east and west; and half the sky
- Was roofed with clouds of rich emblazonry,
- Dark purple at the zenith, which still grew
- Down the steep west into a wondrous hue
- Brighter than burning gold, even to the rent
- Where the swift sun yet paused in his descent
- Among the many folded hills—they were
- Those famous Euganean hills, which bear,
- As seen from Lido thro’ the harbour piles,
- The likeness of a clump of peaked isles—
- And then, as if the earth and sea had been
- Dissolved into one lake of fire, were seen
- Those mountains towering, as from waves of flame,
- Around the vaporous sun, from which there came
- The inmost purple spirit of light, and made
- Their very peaks transparent. “Ere it fade,”
- Said my companion, “I will show you soon
- A better station.” So, o’er the lagune
- We glided; and from that funereal bark
- I leaned, and saw the city, and could mark
- How from their many isles, in evening’s gleam,
- Its temples and its palaces did seem
- Like fabrics of enchantment piled to heav’n.
- I was about to speak, when—“We are even
- Now at the point I meant,” said Maddalo,
- And bade the gondolieri cease to row.
- “Look, Julian, on the west, and listen well
- If you hear not a deep and heavy bell.”
- I looked, and saw between us and the sun
- A building on an island, such an one
- As age to age might add, for uses vile,—
- A windowless, deformed and dreary pile;
- And on the top an open tower, where hung
- A bell, which in the radiance swayed and swung,
- We could just hear its hoarse and iron tongue:
- The broad sun sank behind it, and it tolled
- In strong and black relief.—“What we behold
- Shall be the madhouse and its belfry tower;”—
- Said Maddalo, “and even at this hour,
- Those who may cross the water hear that bell,
- Which calls the maniacs, each one from his cell,
- To vespers.”—“As much skill as need to pray,
- In thanks or hope for their dark lot have they,
- To their stern maker,” I replied.—“O, ho!
- You talk as in years past,” said Maddalo.
- “ ’Tis strange men change not. You were ever still
- Among Christ’s flock a perilous infidel,
- A wolf for the meek lambs: if you can’t swim,
- Beware of providence.” I looked on him,
- But the gay smile had faded from his eye.
- “And such,” he cried, “is our mortality;
- And this must be the emblem and the sign
- Of what should be eternal and divine;
- And like that black and dreary bell the soul,
- Hung in an heav’n-illumined tower, must toll
- Our thoughts and our desires to meet below
- Round the rent heart, and pray—as madmen do;
- For what? they know not, till the night of death,
- As sunset that strange vision, severeth
- Our memory from itself, and us from all
- We sought, and yet were baffled.” I recall
- The sense of what he said, although I mar
- The force of his expressions. The broad star
- Of day meanwhile had sunk behind the hill;
- And the black bell became invisible;
- And the red tower looked grey; and all between,
- The churches, ships, and palaces, were seen
- Huddled in gloom; into the purple sea
- The orange hues of heaven sunk silently.
- We hardly spoke, and soon the gondola
- Conveyed me to my lodging by the way.
- The following morn was rainy, cold, and dim:
- Ere Maddalo arose I called on him,
- And whilst I waited, with his child I played;
- A lovelier toy sweet Nature never made;
- A serious, subtle, wild, yet gentle being;
- Graceful without design, and unforeseeing;
- With eyes—Oh! speak not of her eyes! which seem
- Twin mirrors of Italian Heaven, yet gleam
- With such deep meaning as we never see
- But in the human countenance. With me
- She was a special favourite: I had nursed
- Her fine and feeble limbs, when she came first
- To this bleak world; and she yet seemed to know
- On second sight, her ancient playfellow,
- Less changed than she was by six months or so.
- For, after her first shyness was worn out,
- We sate there, rolling billiard balls about,
- When the Count entered. Salutations past:
- “The words you spoke last night might well have cast
- A darkness on my spirit:—if man be
- The passive thing you say, I should not see
- Much harm in the religions and old saws,
- (Though I may never own such leaden laws)
- Which break a teachless nature to the yoke:
- Mine is another faith.”—Thus much I spoke,
- And, noting he replied not, added—“See
- This lovely child; blithe, innocent and free;
- She spends a happy time, with little care;
- While we to such sick thoughts subjected are,
- As came on you last night. It is our will
- Which thus enchains us to permitted ill.
- We might be otherwise; we might be all
- We dream of, happy, high, majestical.
- Where is the love, beauty, and truth we seek,
- But in our minds? And, if we were not weak,
- Should we be less in deed than in desire?”—
- —“Aye, if we were not weak,—and we aspire,
- How vainly! to be strong,” said Maddalo:
- “You talk Utopia”—
- “It remains to know,”
- I then rejoined, “and those who try, may find
- How strong the chains are which our spirit bind:
- Brittle perchance as straw. We are assured
- Much may be conquered, much may be endured,
- Of what degrades and crushes us. We know
- That we have power over ourselves to do
- And suffer—what, we know not till we try;
- But something nobler than to live and die:
- So taught the kings of old philosophy,
- Who reigned before religion made men blind;
- And those who suffer with their suffering kind,
- Yet feel this faith, religion.”
- “My dear friend,”
- Said Maddalo, “my judgment will not bend
- To your opinion, though I think you might
- Make such a system refutation-tight,
- As far as words go. I knew one like you,
- Who to this city came some months ago,
- With whom I argued in this sort,—and he
- Is now gone mad—and so he answered me,
- Poor fellow!—But if you would like to go,
- We’ll visit him, and his wild talk will shew
- How vain are such aspiring theories.”—
- “I hope to prove the induction otherwise,
- And that a want of that true theory still,
- Which seeks a soul of goodness in things ill,
- Or in himself or others, has thus bow’d
- His being:—there are some by nature proud,
- Who, patient in all else, demand but this—
- To love and be beloved with gentleness:—
- And being scorned, what wonder if they die
- Some living death? This is not destiny,
- But man’s own wilful ill.”—
- As thus I spoke,
- Servants announced the gondola, and we
- Through the fast-falling rain and high-wrought sea
- Sailed to the island where the madhouse stands.
- We disembarked. The clap of tortured hands,
- Fierce yells, and howlings, and lamentings keen,
- And laughter where complaint had merrier been,
- Accosted us. We climbed the oozy stairs
- Into an old court-yard. I heard on high,
- Then, fragments of most touching melody,
- But looking up saw not the singer there.—
- Thro’ the black bars in the tempestuous air
- I saw, like weeds on a wreck’d palace growing,
- Long tangled locks flung wildly forth and flowing,
- Of those who on a sudden were beguiled
- Into strange silence, and looked forth and smiled,
- Hearing sweet sounds. Then I:—
- “Methinks there were
- A cure of these with patience and kind care,
- If music can thus move. But what is he,
- Whom we seek here?”
- “Of his sad history
- I know but this,” said Maddalo: “he came
- To Venice a dejected man, and fame
- Said he was wealthy, or he had been so.
- Some thought the loss of fortune wrought him woe;
- But he was ever talking in such sort
- As you do,—but more sadly;—he seem’d hurt,
- Even as a man with his peculiar wrong,
- To hear but of the oppression of the strong,
- Or those absurd deceits (I think with you
- In some respects, you know) which carry thro’
- The excellent impostors of this earth
- When they outface detection. He had worth,
- Poor fellow! but a humourist in his way.”—
- —“Alas, what drove him mad!”
- “I cannot say:
- A lady came with him from France, and when
- She left him and returned, he wander’d then
- About yon lonely isles of desart sand,
- Till he grew wild. He had no cash or land
- Remaining:—the police had brought him here—
- Some fancy took him, and he would not bear
- Removal, so I fitted up for him
- Those rooms beside the sea, to please his whim;
- And sent him busts, and books, and urns for flowers,
- Which had adorned his life in happier hours,
- And instruments of music. You may guess
- A stranger could do little more or less
- For oneso gentle and unfortunate—
- And those are his sweet strains which charm the weight
- From madmen’s chains, and make this hell appear
- A heaven of sacred silence, hushed to hear.”
- “Nay, this was kind of you,—he had no claim,
- As the world says.”
- “None but the very same
- Which I on all mankind, were I, as he,
- Fall’n to such deep reverse. His melody
- Is interrupted now; we hear the din
- Of madmen, shriek on shriek, again begin:
- Let us now visit him: after this strain,
- He ever communes with himself again,
- And sees and hears not any.”
- Having said
- These words, we called the keeper, and he led
- To an apartment opening on the sea.—
- There the poor wretch was sitting mournfully
- Near a piano, his pale fingers twined
- One with the other; and the ooze and wind
- Rushed thro’ an open casement, and did sway
- His hair, and starred it with the brackish spray;
- His head was leaning on a music book,
- And he was muttering; and his lean limbs shook;
- His lips were pressed against a folded leaf
- In hue too beautiful for health, and grief
- Smiled in their motions as they lay apart,
- As one who wrought from his own fervid heart
- The eloquence of passion: soon he raised
- His sad meek face, and eyes lustrous and glazed,
- And spoke,—sometimes as one who wrote, and thought
- His words might move some heart that heeded not,
- If sent to distant lands;—and then as one
- Reproaching deeds never to be undone,
- With wondering self-compassion;—then his speech
- Was lost in grief, and then his words came each
- Unmodulated and expressionless,—
- But that from one jarred accent you might guess
- It was despair made them so uniform:
- And all the while the loud and gusty storm
- Hissed thro’ the window, and we stood behind,
- Stealing his accents from the envious wind,
- Unseen. I yet remember what he said
- Distinctly, such impression his words made.
- “Month after month,” he cried, “to bear this load,
- And, as a jade urged by the whip and goad,
- To drag life on—which like a heavy chain
- Lengthens behind with many a link of pain,
- And not to speak my grief—O, not to dare
- To give a human voice to my despair;
- But live, and move, and, wretched thing! smile on,
- As if I never went aside to groan,
- And wear this mask of falsehood even to those
- Who are most dear—not for my own repose—
- Alas! no scorn, or pain, or hate, could be
- So heavy as that falsehood is to me—
- But that I cannot bear more altered faces
- Than needs must be, more changed and cold embraces,
- More misery, disappointment, and mistrust
- To own me for their father. Would the dust
- Were covered in upon my body now!
- That the life ceased to toil within my brow!
- And then these thoughts would at the last be fled:
- Let us not fear such pain can vex the dead.
- “What Power delights to torture us? I know
- That to myself I do not wholly owe
- What now I suffer, though in part I may.
- Alas! none strewed fresh flowers upon the way
- Where, wandering heedlessly, I met pale Pain,
- My shadow, which will leave me not again.
- If I have erred, there was no joy in error,
- But pain, and insult, and unrest, and terror;
- I have not, as some do, bought penitence
- With pleasure, and a dark yet sweet offence;
- For then if love, and tenderness, and truth
- Had overlived Hope’s momentary youth,
- My creed should have redeemed me from repenting;
- But loathed scorn and outrage unrelenting
- Met love excited by far other seeming
- Until the end was gained:—as one from dreaming
- Of sweetest peace, I woke, and found my state
- Such as it is.—
- “O, thou, my spirit’s mate!
- Who, for thou art compassionate and wise,
- Wouldst pity me from thy most gentle eyes
- If this sad writing thou shouldst ever see,
- My secret groans must be unheard by thee;
- Thou wouldst weep tears, bitter as blood, to know
- Thy lost friend’s incommunicable woe.
- Ye few by whom my nature has been weighed
- In friendship, let me not that name degrade,
- By placing on your hearts the secret load
- Which crushes mine to dust. There is one road
- To peace, and that is truth, which follow ye!
- Love sometimes leads astray to misery.
- Yet think not, tho’ subdued (and I may well
- Say that I am subdued)—that the full hell
- Within me would infect the untainted breast
- Of sacred nature with its own unrest;
- As some perverted beings think to find
- In scorn or hate a medicine for the mind
- Which scorn or hate hath wounded.—O, how vain!
- The dagger heals not, but may rend again.
- Believe that I am ever still the same
- In creed as in resolve; and what may tame
- My heart, must leave the understanding free,
- Or all would sink under this agony.—
- Nor dream that I will join the vulgar eye,
- Or with my silence sanction tyranny,
- Or seek a moment’s shelter from my pain
- In any madness which the world calls gain;
- Ambition, or revenge, or thoughts as stern
- As those which make me what I am, or turn
- To avarice or misanthrophy or lust.
- Heap on me soon, O grave, thy welcome dust!
- Till then the dungeon may demand its prey;
- And Poverty and Shame may meet and say,
- Halting beside me in the public way,—
- ‘That love-devoted youth is ours: let’s sit
- Beside him: he may live some six months yet.’—
- Or the red scaffold, as our country bends,
- May ask some willing victim; or ye, friends!
- May fall under some sorrow, which this heart
- Or hand may share, or vanquish, or avert;
- I am prepared, in truth, with no proud joy,
- To do or suffer aught, as when a boy
- I did devote to justice, and to love,
- My nature, worthless now.
- “I must remove
- A veil from my pent mind. ’Tis torn aside!
- O! pallid as Death’s dedicated bride,
- Thou mockery which art sitting by my side,
- Am I not wan like thee? At the grave’s call
- I haste, invited to thy wedding-ball,
- To meet the ghastly paramour, for whom
- Thou hast deserted me,—and made the tomb
- Thy bridal bed. But I beside thy feet
- Will lie, and watch ye from my winding-sheet
- Thus—wide awake tho’ dead—Yet stay, O, stay!
- Go not so soon—I know not what I say—
- Hear but my reasons—I am mad, I fear,
- My fancy is o’erwrought—thou art not here.
- Pale art thou, ’tis most true—but thou art gone—
- Thy work is finished; I am left alone.
- * * * * * * *
- “Nay, was it I who wooed thee to this breast,
- Which like a serpent thou envenomest
- As in repayment of the warmth it lent?
- Didst thou not seek me for thine own content?
- Did not thy love awaken mine? I thought
- That thou wert she who said ‘You kiss me not
- Ever; I fear you do not love me now.’
- In truth I loved even to my overthrow
- Her, who would fain forget these words; but they
- Cling to her mind, and cannot pass away.
- * * * * * * *
- “You say that I am proud; that when I speak,
- My lip is tortured with the wrongs, which break
- The spirit it expresses.—Never one
- Humbled himself before, as I have done!
- Even the instinctive worm on which we tread
- Turns, tho’ it wound not—then, with prostrate head,
- Sinks in the dust, and writhes like me—and dies:
- —No:—wears a living death of agonies!
- As the slow shadows of the pointed grass
- Mark the eternal periods, its pangs pass,
- Slow, ever-moving, making moments be
- As mine seem,—each an immortality!
- * * * * * * *
- “That you had never seen me! never heard
- My voice! and, more than all, had ne’er endured
- The deep pollution of my loathed embrace!
- That your eyes ne’er had lied love in my face!
- That, like some maniac monk, I had torn out
- The nerves of manhood by their bleeding root
- With mine own quivering fingers! so that ne’er
- Our hearts had for a moment mingled there,
- To disunite in horror! These were not
- With thee like some suppressed and hideous thought,
- Which flits athwart our musings, but can find
- No rest within a pure and gentle mind—
- Thou sealed’st them with many a bare broad word,
- And seard’st my memory o’er them,—for I heard
- And can forget not—they were ministered,
- One after one, those curses. Mix them up
- Like self-destroying poisons in one cup;
- And they will make one blessing, which thou ne’er
- Didst imprecate for on me—death!
- “It were
- A cruel punishment for one most cruel,
- If such can love, to make that love the fuel
- Of the mind’s hell—hate, scorn, remorse, despair:
- But me, whose heart a stranger’s tear might wear,
- As water-drops the sandy fountain stone;
- Who loved and pitied all things, and could moan
- For woes which others hear not, and could see
- The absent with the glass of phantasy,
- And near the poor and trampled sit and weep,
- Following the captive to his dungeon deep;
- Me, who am as a nerve o’er which do creep
- The else-unfelt oppressions of this earth,
- And was to thee the flame upon thy hearth,
- When all beside was cold:—that thou on me
- Shouldst rain these plagues of blistering agony—
- Such curses are from lips once eloquent
- With love’s too partial praise! Let none relent
- Who intend deeds too dreadful for a name
- Henceforth, if an example for the same
- They seek:—for thou on me lookedst so and so,
- And didst speak thus and thus. I live to shew
- How much men bear and die not.
- * * * * * * *
- “Thou wilt tell,
- With the grimace of hate, how horrible
- It was to meet my love when thine grew less;
- Thou wilt admire how I could e’er address
- Such features to love’s work. . . . This taunt, tho’ true,
- (For indeed nature nor in form nor hue
- Bestowed on me her choicest workmanship)
- Shall not be thy defence: for since thy life
- Met mine first, years long past,—since thine eye kindled
- With soft fire under mine,—I have not dwindled,
- Nor changed in mind, or body, or in aught
- But as love changes what it loveth not
- After long years and many trials.
- * * * * * * *
- “How vain
- Are words! I thought never to speak again,
- Not even in secret, not to my own heart—
- But from my lips the unwilling accents start,
- And from my pen the words flow as I write,
- Dazzling my eyes with scalding tears—my sight
- Is dim to see that charactered in vain,
- On this unfeeling leaf, which burns the brain
- And eats into it, blotting all things fair,
- And wise and good, which time had written there.
- Those who inflict must suffer, for they see
- The work of their own hearts, and that must be
- Our chastisement or recompense.—O, child!
- I would that thine were like to be more mild
- For both our wretched sakes,—for thine the most,
- Who feel’st already all that thou hast lost,
- Without the power to wish it thine again.
- And, as slow years pass, a funereal train,
- Each with the ghost of some lost hope or friend
- Following it like its shadow, wilt thou bend
- No thought on my dead memory?
- * * * * * * *
- “Alas, love!
- Fear me not: against thee I’d not move
- A finger in despite. Do I not live
- That thou mayst have less bitter cause to grieve?
- I give thee tears for scorn, and love for hate;
- And, that thy lot may be less desolate
- Than his on whom thou tramplest, I refrain
- From that sweet sleep which medicines all pain.
- Then—when thou speakest of me—never say,
- ‘He could forgive not’—Here I cast away
- All human passions, all revenge, all pride;
- I think, speak, act no ill; I do but hide
- Under these words, like embers, every spark
- Of that which has consumed me. Quick and dark
- The grave is yawning:—as its roof shall cover
- My limbs with dust and worms, under and over;
- So let oblivion hide this grief—The air
- Closes upon my accents, as despair
- Upon my heart—let death upon despair!”
- He ceased, and overcome, leant back awhile;
- Then rising, with a melancholy smile,
- Went to a sopha, and lay down, and slept
- A heavy sleep, and in his dreams he wept,
- And muttered some familiar name, and we
- Wept without shame in his society.
- I think I never was impress’d so much;
- The man who were not, must have lack’d a touch
- Of human nature.—Then we linger’d not,
- Although our argument was quite forgot;
- But, calling the attendants, went to dine
- At Maddalo’s:—yet neither cheer nor wine
- Could give us spirits, for we talked of him,
- And nothing else, till daylight made stars dim.
- And we agreed it was some dreadful ill
- Wrought on him boldly, yet unspeakable,
- By a dear friend; some deadly change in love
- Of one vow’d deeply which he dreamed not of;
- For whose sake he, it seemed, had fixed a blot
- Of falsehood in his mind, which flourish’d not
- But in the light of all-beholding truth;
- And having stamped this canker on his youth,
- She had abandoned him:—and how much more
- Might be his woe, we guessed not:—he had store
- Of friends and fortune once, as we could guess
- From his nice habits and his gentleness:
- These now were lost—it were a grief indeed
- If he had changed one unsustaining reed
- For all that such a man might else adorn.
- The colours of his mind seemed yet unworn;
- For the wild language of his grief was high—
- Such as in measure were called poetry.
- And I remember one remark, which then
- Maddalo made: he said—“Most wretched men
- Are cradled into poetry by wrong:
- They learn in suffering what they teach in song.”
- If I had been an unconnected man,
- I, from this moment, should have form’d some plan
- Never to leave sweet Venice: for to me
- It was delight to ride by the lone sea:
- And then the town is silent—one may write,
- Or read in gondolas by day or night,
- Having the little brazen lamp alight,
- Unseen, uninterrupted:—books are there,
- Pictures, and casts from all those statues fair
- Which were twin-born with poetry—and all
- We seek in towns, with little to recal
- Regret for the green country:—I might sit
- In Maddalo’s great palace, and his wit
- And subtle talk would cheer the winter night,
- And make me know myself:—and the fire light
- Would flash upon our faces, till the day
- Might dawn, and make me wonder at my stay.
- But I had friends in London too. The chief
- Attraction here was that I sought relief
- From the deep tenderness that maniac wrought
- Within me—’twas perhaps an idle thought,
- But I imagined that if, day by day,
- I watched him, and seldom went away,
- And studied all the beatings of his heart
- With zeal, as men study some stubborn art
- For their own good, and could by patience find
- An entrance to the caverns of his mind,
- I might reclaim him from his dark estate.
- In friendships I had been most fortunate,
- Yet never saw I one whom I would call
- More willingly my friend;—and this was all
- Accomplish’d not;—such dreams of baseless good
- Oft come and go, in crowds or solitude,
- And leave no trace!—but what I now design’d,
- Made, for long years, impression on my mind.
- —The following morning, urged by my affairs,
- I left bright Venice.—
- After many years,
- And many changes, I returned; the name
- Of Venice, and its aspect, was the same;
- But Maddalo was travelling, far away,
- Among the mountains of Armenia.
- His dog was dead: his child had now become
- A woman, such as it has been my doom
- To meet with few; a wonder of this earth,
- Where there is little of transcendent worth,—
- Like one of Shakspeare’s women. Kindly she,
- And with a manner beyond courtesy,
- Receiv’d her father’s friend; and, when I ask’d
- Of the lorn maniac, she her memory task’d,
- And told, as she had heard, the mournful tale:
- “That the poor sufferer’s health began to fail,
- Two years from my departure; but that then
- The lady, who had left him, came again.
- Her mien had been imperious, but she now
- Look’d meek; perhaps remorse had brought her low.
- Her coming made him better; and they stayed
- Together at my father’s,—for I played,
- As I remember, with the lady’s shawl;
- I might be six years old:—But, after all,
- She left him.”—
- “Why, her heart must have been tough;
- How did it end?”
- “And was not this enough?
- They met, they parted.”
- “Child, is there no more?”
- “Something within that interval, which bore
- The stamp of why they parted, how they met;—
- Yet if thine aged eyes disdain to wet
- Those wrinkled cheeks with youth’s remember’d tears,
- Ask me no more; but let the silent years
- Be clos’d and cered over their memory,
- As yon mute marble where their corpses lie.”
- I urged and questioned still: she told me how
- All happen’d—but the cold world shall not know.
Rome, May, 1819.
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.