Page images

Violet, amaracus, and asphodel,
Lotos and lilies : and a wind arose,
And overhead the wandering ivy and vine,
This way and that, in many a wild festoon.
Ran riot, garlanding the gnarled boughs
With bunch and berry and flower thro' and thro'.

“O mother Ida, harken ere I die. On the tree-tops a crested peacock lit, And o'er him flow'd a golden cloud, and lean'd Upon him, slowly dropping fragrant dew. Then first I heard the voice of her, to whom Coming thro' Heaven, like a light that grows Larger and clearer, with one mind the Gods Rise up for reverence. / She to Paris made Proffer of royal power, ample rule Unquestion’d, overflowing revenue Wherewith to embellish state, ‘from many a vale And river-sunder'd champaign clothed with corn, Or labour'd mines undrainable of ore. Honour,' she said, “and homage, tax and toll, From many an inland town and haven large, Mast-throng'd beneath her shadowing citadel In glassy bays among her tallest towers.'

“O mother Ida, harken ere I die. Still she spake on and still she spake of power, • Which in all action is the end of all;

Power fitted to the season ; wisdom-bred
And throned of wisdom—from all neighbour crowns
Alliance and allegiance, till thy hand
Fail from the sceptre-staff. Such boon from me,
From me, Heaven's Queen, Paris, to thee king-born,
A shepherd all thy life but yet king-born,
Should come most welcome, seeing men, in power
Only, are likest gods, who have attain'd
Rest in a happy place and quiet seats
Above the thunder, with undying bliss
In knowledge of their own supremacy.'

“ Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die. She ceased, and Paris held the costly fruit Out at arm's-length, so much the thought of power Flatter'd his spirit; but Pallas where she stood Somewhat apart, her clear and bared limbs O’erthwarted with the brazen-headed spear Upon her pearly shoulder leaning cold, The while, above, her full and earnest eye Over her snow-cold breast and angry cheek Kept watch, waiting decision, made reply.

“Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control,
These three alone lead life to sovereign power.
Yet not for power, (power of herself
Would come uncall'd for) but to live by law,
Acting the law we live by without fear;

And, because right is right, to follow right
Were wisdom in the scorn of consequence.'

“Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.
Again she said: 'I woo thee not with gifts
Sequel of guerdon could not alter me
To fairer. Judge thou me by what I am,
So shalt thou find me fairest.

Yet, indeed,
If gazing on divinity disrobed
Thy mortal eyes are frail to judge of fair,
Unbiass’d by self-profit, oh! rest thee sure
That I shall love thee well and cleave to thee,
So that my vigour, wedded to thy blood,
Shall strike within thy pulses, like a God's,
To push thee forward thro' a life of shocks,
Dangers, and deeds, until endurance grow
Sinew'd with action, and the full-grown will,
Circled thro' all experiences, pure law,
Commeasure perfect freedom.'

“ Here she ceased,
And Paris ponder'd, and I cried, “O Paris,
Give it to Pallas !' but he heard me not,
Or hearing would not hear me, woe is me!

“O mother Ida, many-fountain'd Ida, Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die. Idalian Aphrodite beautiful

Fresh as the foam, new-bathed in Paphian wells,
With rosy slender fingers backward drew
From her warm brows and bosom her deep hair
Ambrosial, golden round her lucid throat
And shoulder : from the violets her light foot
Shone rosy-white, and o'er her rounded form
Between the shadows of the vine-bunches
Floated the glowing sunlights, as she moved.

“Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die. She with a subtle smile in her mild eyes, The herald of her triumph, drawing nigh Half-whisper'd in his ear, “I promise thee The fairest and most loving wife in Greece,' She spoke and laugh'd : I shut my sight for fear : But when I look’d, Paris had raised his arm, And I beheld great Here's angry eyes, As she withdrew into the golden cloud, And I was left alone within the bower ; And from that time to this I am alone, And I shall be alone until I die.

“Yet, mother Ida, harken ere I die. Fairest—why fairest wife ? am I not fair ? My love hath told me so a thousand times. Methinks I must be fair, for yesterday, When I past by, a wild and wanton pard, Eyed like the evening star, with playful tail

Crouch'd fawning in the weed. Most loving is she ?
Ah me, my mountain shepherd, that my arms
Were wound about thee, and my hot lips prest
Close, close to thine in that quick-falling dew
Of fruitful kisses, thick as Autumn rains
Flash in the pools of whirling Simois.

“O mother, hear me yet before I die. They came, they cut away my tallest pines, My dark tall pines, that plumed the craggy ledge High over the blue gorge, and all between The snowy peak and snow-white cataract Foster'd the callow eaglet—from beneath Whose thick mysterious boughs in the dark morn The panther's roar came muffled, while I sat Low in the valley. Never, never more Shall lone Enone see the morning mist Sweep thro' them; never see them overlaid With narrow moon-lit slips of silver cloud, Between the loud stream and the trembling stars

“O mother, hear me yet before I die.
I wish that somewhere in the ruin’d folds,
Among the fragments tumbled from the glens,
Or the dry thickets, I could meet with her,
The Abominable, that uninvited came
Into the fair Peleñan banquet-hall,
And cast the golden fruit upon the board,

« PreviousContinue »