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- Old Spookses' Pass - 5/37 -


In the wild flow of the wine:

XVII.

Still had reel'd the yellow haze: Still had puls'd the sun pierc'd sod Still had throbb'd the vine clad days: To the pulses of their God.

XVIII.

Fierce the dry lips of the earth Quaff'd the subtle Bacchic soul: Felt its rage and felt its mirth, Wreath'd as for the banquet bowl.

XIX.

Sapphire-breasted Bacchic priest Stood the sky above the lands; Sun and Moon at East and West, Brazen cymbals in his hands.

XX.

Temples, altars, smote no more, Sharply white as brows of Gods: From the long, sleek, yellow shore, Oliv'd hill or dusky sod,

XXI.

Gaz'd the anger'd Gods, while he, Bacchus, made their temples his; Flushed their marble silently With the red light of his kiss.

XXII.

Red the arches of his feet Spann'd grape-gleaming vales; the earth Reel'd from grove to marble street, Mad with echoes of his mirth.

XXIII.

Nostrils widen'd to the air, As above the wine brimm'd bowl: Men and women everywhere Breath'd the fierce, sweet Bacchic soul.

XXIV.

Flow'd the vat and roar'd the beam, Laugh'd the must; while far and shrill, Sweet as notes in Pan-born dream, Loud pipes sang by vale and hill.

XXV.

Earth was full of mad unrest, While red Bacchus held his state; And her brown vine-girdl'd breast Shook to his wild joy and hate.

XXVI.

Strife crouch'd red ey'd in the vine In its tendrils Eros strayed; Anger rode upon the wine; Laughter on the cup-lip play'd.

XXVII.

Day was at her chief unrest-- Red the light on plain and wood Slavish ey'd and still of breast, Vast the Helot herdsman stood:

XXVIII.

Wide his hairy nostrils blew, Maddning incense breathing up; Oak to iron sinews grew, Round the rich Caecuban cup.

XXIX.

"Drink, dull slave!" the Spartan said, "Drink, until the Helot clod "Feel within him subtly bred "Kinship to the drunken God!

XXX.

"Drink, until the leaden blood "Stirs and beats about thy brain: "Till the hot Caecuban flood "Drown the iron of thy chain.

XXXI.

"Drink, till even madness flies "At the nimble wine's pursuit; "Till the God within thee lies "Trampled by the earth-born brute.

XXXII.

"Helot drink--nor spare the wine; "Drain the deep, the madd'ning bowl, "Flesh and sinews, slave, are mine, "Now I claim thy Helot soul.

XXXIII.

"Gods! ye love our Sparta; ye "Gave with vine that leaps and runs "O'er her slopes, these slaves to be "Mocks and warnings to her sons!

XXXIV.

"Thou, my Hermos, turn thy eyes, "(God-touch'd still their frank, bold blue) "On the Helot--mark the rise "Of the Bacchic riot through

XXXV.

"Knotted vein, and surging breast: "Mark the wild, insensate, mirth: "God-ward boast--the driv'ling jest, "Till he grovel to the earth.

XXXVI.

"Drink, dull slave," the Spartan cried: Meek the Helot touch'd the brim; Scented all the purple tide: Drew the Bacchic soul to him.

XXXVII.

Cold the thin lipp'd Spartan smiled: Couch'd beneath the weighted vine, Large-ey'd, gaz'd the Spartan child, On the Helot and the wine.

XXXVIII.

Rose pale Doric shafts behind, Stern and strong, and thro' and thro', Weaving with the grape-breath'd wind, Restless swallows call'd and flew.

XXXIX.

Dropp'd the rose-flush'd doves and hung, On the fountains murmuring brims; To the bronz'd vine Hermos clung-- Silver-like his naked limbs

XL.

Flash'd and flush'd: rich copper'd leaves, Whiten'd by his ruddy hair; Pallid as the marble eaves, Aw'd he met the Helot's stare.

XLI.

Clang'd the brazen goblet down; Marble-bred loud echoes stirr'd: With fix'd fingers, knotted, brown, Dumb, the Helot grasp'd his beard.


Old Spookses' Pass - 5/37

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