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- In Divers Tones - 4/14 -
Walled from the world forever under a vapor of dreams,-- Hid by the shadows of dreams, not found by the curious footstep, Sacred and secret forever, Tempe, vale of the gods. How, through the cleft of its bosom, goes sweetly the water PenŽus! How by PenŽus the sward breaks into saffron and blue! How the long slope-floored beech-glades mount to the wind-wakened uplands, Where, through flame-berried ash, troop the hoofed Centaurs at morn! Nowhere greens a copse but the eye-beams of Artemis pierce it. Breathes no laurel her balm but Phoebus' fingers caress. Springs no bed of wild blossom but limbs of dryad have pressed it. Sparkle the nymphs, and the brooks chime with shy laughter and calls.
Here is a nook. Two rivulets fall to mix with PenŽus, Loiter a space, and sleep, checked and choked by the reeds. Long grass waves in the windless water, strown with the lote-leaf; Twist thro' dripping soil great alder roots, and the air Glooms with the dripping tangle of leaf-thick branches, and stillness Keeps in the strange-coiled stems, ferns, and wet-loving weeds. Hither comes Pan, to this pregnant earthy spot, when his piping Flags; and his pipes outworn breaking and casting away, Fits new reeds to his mouth with the weird earth-melody in them, Piercing, alive with a life able to mix with the god's. Then, as he blows, and the searching sequence delights him, the goat-feet Furtive withdraw; and a bird stirs and flutes in the gloom Answering. Float with the stream the outworn pipes, with a whisper,-- "What the god breathes on, the god never can wholly evade!" God-breath lurks in each fragment forever. Dispersed by PenŽus Wandering, caught in the ripples, wind-blown hither and there, Over the whole green earth and globe of sea they are scattered, Coming to secret spots, where in a visible form Comes not the god; though he come declared in his workings. And mortals Straying in cool of morn, or bodeful hasting at eve, Or in the depths of noonday plunged to shadiest coverts, Spy them, and set to their lips; blow, and fling them away!
Ay, they fling them away,--but never wholly! Thereafter Creeps strange fire in their veins, murmur strange tongues in their brain, Sweetly evasive; a secret madness takes them,--a charm-struck Passion for woods and wild life, the solitude of the hills. Therefore they fly the heedless throngs and traffic of cities, Haunt mossed caverns, and wells bubbling ice-cool; and their souls Gather a magical gleam of the secret of life, and the god's voice Calls to them, not from afar, teaching them wonderful things.
BEFORE THE BREATH OF STORM.
Before the breath of storm. While yet the long, bright afternoons are warm, Under this stainless arch of azure sky The air is filled with gathering wings for flight; Yet with the shrill mirth and the loud delight Comes the foreboding sorrow of this cry-- "Till the storm scatter and the gloom dispel, Farewell! Farewell! Farewell!"
Why will ye go so soon, In these soft hours, this sweeter month than June? The liquid air floats over field and tree A veil of dreams;--where do ye find the sting? A gold enchantment sleeps upon the sea And purple hills;--why have ye taken wing? But faint, far-heard, the answers fall and swell-- "Farewell! Farewell! Farewell!"
OUT OF POMPEII.
Save what the night-wind woke of sweet And solemn sound, I heard alone The sleepless ocean's ceaseless beat, The surge's monotone.
Low down the south a dreary gleam Of white light smote the sullen swells, Evasive as a blissful dream, Or wind-borne notes of bells.
The water's lapping whispers stole Into my brain, and there effaced All human memories from my soul,-- An atom in a shifting waste.
Weird fingers, groping, strove to raise Some numbing horror from my mind; And ever, as it met my gaze, The sharp truth struck me blind.
The keen edged breath of the salt sea Stung, but a faint, swift, sulphurous smell Blew past, and I reeled dizzily As from the blink of hell,
One moment; then the swan-necked prow Sustained me, and once more I scanned The unfenced flood, against my brow Arching my lifted hand.
O'er all the unstable vague expanse I towered the lord supreme, and smiled; And marked the hard, white sparkles glance, The dark vault wide and wild.
Again that faint wind swept my face-- With hideous menace swept my eyes. I cowered back in my straitened place And groped with dim surmise,
Not knowing yet. Not knowing why, I turned, as one asleep might turn, And noted with half curious eye The figure crouched astern.
On heaped-up leopard skins she crouched, Asleep, and soft skins covered her, And scarlet stuffs where she was couched, Sodden with sea-water,
Burned lurid with black stains, and smote My thought with waking pangs; I saw The white arm drooping from the boat, Round-moulded, pure from flaw;
The yellow sandals even-thonged; The fair face, wan with haunting pain;-- Then sudden, crowding memories thronged Like unpent sudden rain.
Clear-stamped, as by white lightning when The swift flame rends the night, wide-eyed I saw dim streets, and fleeing men, And walls from side to side
Reeling, and great rocks fallen; a pall Above us, an encumbering shroud About our feet, and over all The awful Form that bowed
Our hearts, the fiery scourge that smote The city,--the red Mount. Clear, clear I saw it,--and this lonely boat, And us two drifting here!
With one sharp cry I sprang and hid My face among the skins beside Her feet, and held her safe, and chid The tumult till it died.
And crouched thus at her rescued feet Save her low breath, I heard alone The sleepless ocean's ceaseless beat, The surge's monotone.
TO FREDERICTON IN MAY-TIME.
This morning, full of breezes and perfume, Brimful of promise of midsummer weather, When bees and birds and I are glad together, Breathes of the full-leaved season, when soft gloom Chequers thy streets, and thy close elms assume Round roof and spire the semblance of green billows; Yet now thy glory is the yellow willows, The yellow willows, full of bees and bloom.
Under their dusty blossoms blackbirds meet, And robins pipe amid the cedars nigher. Thro' the still elms I hear the ferry's beat. The swallows chirp about the towering spire; The whole air pulses with its weight of sweet, Yet not quite satisfied is my desire!
This windy, bright September afternoon My heart is wide awake, yet full of dreams. The air, alive with hushed confusion, teems With scent of grain-fields, and a mystic rune, Foreboding of the fall of Summer soon, Keeps swelling and subsiding, till there seems O'er all the world of valleys, hills, and streams, Only the wind's inexplicable tune.
My heart is full of dreams, yet wide awake. I lie and watch the topmost tossing boughs Of tall elms, pale against the vaulted blue; But even now some yellowing branches shake, Some hue of death the living green endows:--
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