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Fierce, wan, And tyrannizing was the lady's look, As over them a gnarlèd staff she shook. Ofttimes upon the sudden she laugh'd out, And from a basket emptied to the rout Clusters of grapes, the which they raven’d quick And roard for more, with many a hungry lick About their shaggy jaws. Avenging, slow, Anon she took a branch of misletoe, And emptied on 't a black dull-gurgling phial: Groan'd one and all, as if some piercing trial. Were sharpening for their pitiable bones. She lifted up the charm : appealing groans From their poor breasts went suing to her ear In vain: remorseless as an infanťs bier, She whisk'd against their eyes the sooty oil ; Whereat was heard a noise of painful toil, Increasing gradual to a tempest rage, Shrieks, yells, and groans, of torture pilgrimage.
A BETTER ENCHANTRESS IMPRISONED IN THE SHAPE
OF A SERPENT.
She was a gordian shape of dazzling hue,
Vermilion-spotted, golden, green, and blue,
Striped like a zebra, speckled like a pard,
Eyed like a peacock, and all crimson-barrd,
And full of silver moons, that as she breath'd
Dissolv'd or brighter shone, or interwreath'd
Their lustres with the gloomier tapestries.
So, rainbow-sided, full of miseries,
See seem’d, at once, some penanc'd lady elf,
Some demon's mistress, or the demon's self.
Upon her crest she wore a wannish fire
Sprinkled with stars, like Ariadne's tiar;
Her head was serpent; but ah, bitter sweet !
She had a woman's mouth, with all its pearls complete
Deep in the shady sadness of a vale,
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
Far from the fiery noon, and eve's one star,
Sat grey-haird Saturn, quiet as a stone,
Still as the silence round about his lair;
Forest on forest hung about his head,
Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there,
Not so much life as on a summer's day
Robs not one light seed from the feather'd grass,
But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.
A stream went voiceless by, still deaden’d more
By reason of his fallen divinity
Spreading a shade : the Naiad, ʼmid her reeds,
Press'd her cold finger closer to her lips.
Along the margin sand large footmarks went,
Nor further than to where his feet had stray'd,
And slept there since. Upon the sodden ground
His old right hand lay nerveless, listless, dead,
Unsceptred; and his realmless eyes were closed.
THE VOICE OF A MELANCHOLY GODDESS SPEAKING
As when upon a trancèd summer-night
Those green-robed senators of mighty woods,
Tall oaks, branch-charmed by the earnest stars,
Dream, and so dream all night without a stir,
Save from one gradual solitary gust,
Which comes upon the silence, and dies off,
As if the ebbing air had but one wave :
So came these words, and went.
The bright Titan, frenzied with new woes,
Unus’d to bend, by hard compulsion, bent
His spirit to the sorrow of the time;
And all along a dismal rack of clouds,
Upon the boundaries of day and night,
He stretch'd himself, in grief and radiance faint.
Scarce images of life, one here, one there,
Lay vast and edgeways ; like a dismal cirque
Of Druid stones, upon a forlorn moor,
When the chill rain begins at shut of eve
In dull November, and their chancel vault,
The heaven itself, is blinded throughout night
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk.
'T is not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thy happiness,
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,
In some melodious plot
Of beeches green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
O for a draught of vintage, that hath been
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delvèd earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country-green,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sun-burnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stainèd mouth ;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit, and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last grey hairs;
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies,
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs;
Where beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Or new love pine at them beyond to-morrow.
But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways. I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmèd darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild ;
White-hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine ;
Fast-fading violets, cover'd up in leaves ;
And mid-May's eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.
Darkling I listen; and, for many a time,
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Calld him soft names in many a musèd rhyme
To take into the air my quiet breath ;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstacy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain-
To thy high requiem become a sod.
Thou wast not born for death, immortal bird !
No hungry generations tread thee down : The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown;
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that ofttimes hath
Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn. 19
Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is fam’d to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu ! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill side ; and now't is buried deep
In the next valley-glades ?
Was it a vision, or a waking-dream!
Fled is that music? Do I wake or sleep?