« PreviousContinue »
The shadow from the substance, and that one Then laughing “what, if these weird seizures come
To point you out the shadow from the truth!
I grate on rusty hinges here:” but “No!"
Will crush her pretty maiden fancies dead
But when the council broke, I rose and past
In the green gleam of dewy-tassell'd trees : Half-canonized by all that look'd on her,
What were those fancies ? wherefore break her troth! So gracious was her tact and tenderness;
Proud look'd the lips : but while I meditated But my good father thought a king a king :
A wind arose and rush'd upon the South, He cared not for the affection of the house; And shook the songs, the whispers, and the shrieks He held his sceptre like a pedant's wand
of the wild woods together; and a Voice
Then, ere the silver sickle of that month
Cat-footed thro' the town and half in dread
To bear my father's clamor at our backs At eight years old ; and still from time to time With Ho! from some bay-window shake the night; Came murmurs of her beauty from the South, But all was quiet: from the bastion'd walls And of her brethren, youths of puissance ;
Like threaded spiders, one by one, we dropt, And still I wore her picture by my heart,
And flying reach'd the frontier : then we crost And one dark tress; and all around them both To a livelier land; and so by tilth and grange, Sweet thoughts would swarm as bees about their And vines, and blowing bosks of wilderness, queen.
We gaind the mother-city thick with towers,
And in the imperial palace found the king.
His name was Gama; crack'd and small his voice,
On glassy water drove his cheek in lines; And therewithal an answer vague as wind :
A little dry old man, without a star, Besides, they saw the king; he took the gifts, Not like a king: three days he feasted ns, He said there was a compact ; that was true :
And on the fourth I spake of why we came, But then she had a will; was he to blame !
And my betroth'd. “You do us, Prince," he said, And maiden fancies ; loved to live alone
Airing a snowy hand and signet gem, Among her women; certain, would not wed. "All honor. We remember love ourselves
In our sweet youth: there did a compact pass That morning in the presence-room I stood Long summers back, a kind of ceremonyWith Cyril and with Florian, my two friends : I think the year w which our olives fail'd. The first, gentleman of broken means
I would you had her, Prince, with all my heart, (His father's fault) but given to starts and bursts With my full beart: but there were widows here, of revel; and the last, my other heart,
Two widows, Lady Psyche, Lady Blanche And almost my half-self, for still we moved
They fed her theories, in and out of place Together, twinn'd as horse's ear and eye.
Maintaining that with equal husbandry
The woman were an equal to the man. Now, while they spake, I saw my father's face They harp'd on this; with this our banquets rangi Grow long and troubled like a rising moon,
Our dances broke and buzz'd in knots of talk;
As children ; they must lose the child, assume
But all she is and does is awful; odes
About this losing of the child; and rhymes
And dismal lyrics, prophesying change At last I spoke. “My father, let me go.
Beyond all reason: these the women sang: It cannot be but some gross error lies
And they that know such things—I sought but peace; In this report, this answer of a king,
No critic I --would call them masterpieces ; Whom all men . Ite as kind and hospitable: They master'd me. At last she begg'd a boon Or, maybe, I myself, my bride once seen,
A certain summer-palace which I have
All wild to found an University
We know not, -only this: they see no men,
Not ev'n her brother Arac, nor the twins The lady of three castles in that land:
Her brethren, tho' they love her, look upon her Thro' her this matter might be sifted clean." As on a kind of paragon; and I And Cyril whisperid : " Take me with you too." (Pardon me saying it) were much loath to breed
Dispute betwixt myself and mine: but since
In laurel : her we ask'd of that and this, (And I confess with right) you think me bound And who were tutors. “Lady Blanche," she said, In some sort, I can give you letters to her;
"And Lady Psyche.” “Which was prettiest, And, yet, to speak the truth, I rate your chance Best-natured ?" * Lady Psyche." “ Hers are we," Almost at naked nothing."
One voice, we cried ; and I sat down and wrote, Thus the king;
In such a hand as when a field of corn And I, tho' nettled that he seem'd to slur
Bows all its ears before the roaring East : With garrulous ease and oily courtesies
"Three ladies of the Northern empire pray Our formal compact, yet, not less (all frets But chatiug me on fire to find my bride)
Your Highuess would enroll them with your own, Went forth again with both my friends. We rode
As Lady Psyche's pupils."
This I seal'd:
The seal was Cupid bent above a scroll,
And o'er his head Uranian Venus hung, Set in a gleaming river's crescent-curve,
And raised the blinding bandage from his eyes : Close at the bonndary of the liberties :
I gave the letter to be sent with dawn: There enter'd an old hostel, callid mine host
And then to bed, where half in doze I seem'd To council, plied him with his richest wines,
To float about a glimmering nighi, and watch And show'd the late-writ letters of the king.
A full sea glazed with muilled moonlight, swell
On some dark shore just seen that it was rich. He with a long low sibilation, stared As blank as death in marble; then exclaim'd
As thro' the land at eve we went, Averring it was clear against all rules
And pluck'd the ripen'd ears, For any man to go: but as his brain
We fell out, my wife and I, Began to mellow, "If the king," he said,
O we fell out I know not why, "Had given us letters, was he bound to speak !
And kiss'd again with tears. The king would bear him out;” and at the last
For when we came where lies the child The summer of the vine in all his veins
We lost in other years, "No doubt that we might make it worth his while.
There above the little grave,
O there above the little grave,
We kiss'd again with tears.
She brought us Academic silks, in hue
And zoned with gold; and now when these were on
She, curtseying her obeisance, let us know
I first, and following thro' the porch that sang In masqne or pageant at my father's court.
All round with laurel, issued in a court
Betwixt the pillars, and with great urns of flowers. To lace us up, till each, in maiden plumes
The Muses and the Graces, group'd in threes, We rustled: him we gave a costly bribe
Enringd a billowing fountain in the midst; To guerdon silence, mounted our good steeds,
And here and there on lattice edges lay and boidly ventured on the liberties.
Or book or lute; but hastily we past,
And up a flight of stairs into the hall. We follow'd up the river as we rode,
There at a board by tome and paper sat, And rode till midnight when the college lights
With two tame leopards couch'd beside her throne, Began to glitter firefly-like in copse
All beauty compass d in a female form, And linden alley: then we past an arch,
The Princess ; liker to the inhabitant Whereon a woman-statue rose with wings
Of some clear planet close upon the Sun, From four wing'd horses dark against the stars ;
Than our man's earth; such eyes were in her head, And some inscription ran along the front,
And so much grace and power, breathing down But deep in shadow: further on we gain'd
From over her arch'd brows, with every turn A little street half garden and half house ;
Lived thro' her to the tips of her long hands, But scarce could hear each other speak for noise
And to her feet. She rose her height, and said: Of clocks and chimes, like silver hammers falling On silver anvils, and the splash and stir
“We give you welcome. not without redound Of fountains spouted up and showering down Of use and glory to yourselves ye come, In meshes of the jasmine and the rose :
The first-fruits of the stranger: aftertime, And all about us peal'd the nightingale,
And that full voice which circles round the grave Rapt in her song, and careless of the snare. Will rank yon nobly, mingled up with me.
What! are the ladies of your land so tall ?" There stood a bust of Pallas for a sign,
“We of the court,” said Cyril. “From the court," By two sphere lamps blazon'd like Heaven and She answerd, “then ye know the Prince ?” and he:
“The climax of his age! as tho' there were With constellation and with continent,
One rose in all the world, your Highness that, Above an entry: riding in, we call’d;
He worships your ideal.” She replied: A plump-arm'à Ostleress and a stable wench • We scarcely thought in our own hall to hear Caine running at the call, an
help'd us down. This barren verbiage, current among men, Phen stept a buxom hostess forth, and sail'd, Like coin, the tinsel clink of compliment. Full blown, before us into rooms which gave Your flight from out your bookless wilds would seem Upon a pillar'd porch, the bases lost
As arguing love of knowledge and of power;
Your language proves you still the child. Indeed, She fulmined out her scorn of laws Salique
When some respect, however slight, was paid
To woman, superstition all awry:
Had slanted forward, falling in a land
To leap the rotten pales of prejudice, · At those high words, we, conscious of ourselves, Disyoke their necks from custom, and assert Perused the matting; then an officer
None lordlier than themselves but that which mare Rose up, and read the statutes, such as these: Woman and man. She had founded ; they must build. Not for three years to correspond with home; Here might they learn whatever men were taught : Not for three years to cross the liberties :
Let them not fear: some said their heads were less: Not for three years to speak with any men;
Some men's were small; not they the least of meu : And many more, which hastily subscribed,
For often fiueness compensated size: We enter'd on the boards : and “Now," she cried, Besides the brain was like the hand, and grew “Ye are green wood, see ye warp not. Look, our With using; thence the man's, if more, was more ; hall!
He took advantage of his strength to be Our statues ! -not of those that men desire,
First in the field: some ages had been lost;
But woman ripen'd earlier, and her life
The highest is the measure of the man,
And not the Kaffir, Hottentot, Malay, The Rhodope, that built the pyramid,
Nor those horn-handed breakers of the glebe,
But Homer, Plato, Verulam; even so
Elizabeth and others; arts of war
The peasant Joan and others; arts of grace Makes noble thro’ the sensuous organism
Sappho and others vied with any man : That which is higher. O lift your natures up: And, last not least, she who had left her place, Embrace our aims: work out your freedom. Girls, And bow'd her state to them, that they mig gros Knowledge is now no more a fountain seald: To use and power on this Oasis, lapt Drink deep, until the habits of the slave,
In the arms of leisure, sacred from the blight The sins of emptiness, gossip and spite
Of ancient influence and scorn."
Dilating on the future; "everywhere
Two heads in council, two beside the hearth, For they press in from all the provinces,
Two in the langled busivess of the world, And fill the hive."
Two in the liberal offices of life, She spoke, and howing waved Two plummets dropt for one to sound the abyss Dismissal: back again we crost the court
Of science, and the secrets of the mind: To Lady Psyche's: as we enter'd in,
Musician, painter, sculptor, critic, more: There sat along the forms, like morning doves And everywhere the broad and bounteous Earth That sun their milky bosoms on the thatch, Should bear a double growth of those rare souls, A patient range of pupils ; she herself
Poets, whose thoughts enrich the blood of the world.” Erect behind a desk of satin-wood, A quick brunette, well-moulded, falcon-eyed,
She ended here, and beckon'd us: the rest And on the hither side, or so she look'd,
Parted; and, glowing full-faced welcome, she of twenty summers. At her left, a child,
Began to address us, and was moving on In shining draperies, headed like a star,
In gratulation, till as when a boat Her maiden babe, a double April old,
Tacks, and the slacken'd sail flaps, all her voice Aglaia slept. We eat: the Lady glanced :
Faltering and fluttering in her throat, she cried, Then Florian, but no livelier than the dame
“My brother !” “Well, my sister." “0," she said, That whisper'd “Asses' ears" among the sedge, “What do you here? and in this dress and these ? “My sister." " Comely too by all that's fair," Why who are these ? a wolf within the fold! Said Cyrii. “O hush, hush !" and she began. A pack of wolves! the Lord be gracious to me!
A plot, a plot, a plot to ruin all!" " This world was once a fluid haze of light, "No plot, no plot," he answer'd. “Wretched boy, Till toward the centre set the starry tides,
How saw you not the inscription on the gate, And eddied into suns, that wheeling cast
LET NO MAN ENTER IN ON PAIN OF DEATII" The planets: then the monster, then the man; “And if I had," he answer'd, “who could think Tattoo'd or woaded, winter-clad in skins,
The softer Adams of your Academe, Raw from the prime, and crushing down his mate: O sister, Sirens tho' they be, were such As yet we find in barbarous isles, and here
As chanted on the blanching bones of men 8" Among the lowest."
“But you will find it otherwise," she said. Thereupon she took
“You jest: ill jesting with edge-tools ! my vow A bird's-eye view of all the ungracious past; Binds me to speak, and O that iron will, Glanced at the legendary Amazon
That axelike edge unturnable, our Head, As emblematic of a nobler age :
The Princess." “Well then, Psyche, take my life, Appraised the Lycian custom, spoke of those
And nail me like a weasel on a grange That lay at wine with Lar and Lucumo;
For warning: bury me beside the gate,
Here lice a brother by a sister slain,
“Let me die too," said Cyril, "having seen As I might slay this child, if good need were, And heard the Lady Psyche."
Slew both his sons: and I, shall I, on whom
The secular emancipation turns “ Albeit so mask'd, Madam, I love the truth; Of half this world, be swerved from right to save Receive it : aud in me behold the Prince
A prince, a brother! a little will I yield. Your countryman, affianced years ago
Best so, perchance, for us, and well for you. To the Lady Ida: here, for here she was,
O hard, when love and duty clash! I fear And thus (what other way was left?) I came.” My conscience will not count me fleckless; yet“0 Sir, O Prince, I have no country; noue ;
Hear my conditions: promise (otherwise If any, this; but none. Whate'er I was
You perish) as you came to slip away, Disrooted, what I am is grafted here.
To-day, to-morrow, soon: it shall be said, Allianced, Sir! love-whispers may not breathe These women are too barbarous, would not learn ; Within this vestal limit, and how should I,
They fled, who might have shamed us: promise, all." Who am not mine, say, live: the thunderbolt Hangs silent; but prepare: I speak; it falls." What could we else, we promised each; and she, “Yet pause,” I said: “for that inscription there, Like some wild creature newly caged, commenced I think no more of deadly lurks therein,
A to-and-fro, so pacing till she paused Than in a clapper clapping in a garth,
By Florian; holding out her lily arms To scare the fowl from fruit: if more there be, Took both his hands, and smiling faintly said: If more and acted on, what follows ? war;
"I knew you at the first; tho' you have grown Your own work marr'd: for this your Academe, You scarce have alter'd: I am sad and glad Whichever side be Victor, in the halloo
To see you, Florian. I give thee to death, Will topple to the trumpet down, and pass
My brother! it was duty spoke, not I.
My needful seeming harshness, pardon it.
With that she kiss'd I shudder at the sequel, but I go."
His forehead, then, a moment after, clung
About him, and betwixt them blossom'd up " Are you that Lady Psyche," I rejoin'd,
From out a common vein of memory "The fifth in line from that old Florian,
Sweet household talk, and phrases of the hearth, Yet hangs his portrait in my father's hall
And far allusion, till the gracious dews (The gaunt old Baron with his beetle brow
Began to glisten and to fall: and while San-shaded in the heat of dusty fights)
They stood, so rapt, we gazing, came a voice, As he bestrode my Grandsire, when he sell,
"I brvught a message here from Lady Blanche." And all else fled: we point to it, and we say, Back started she, and turning round we saw The loyal warmth of Florian is not cold,
The Lady Blanche's daughter where she stood, Bat branches current yet in kindred veins.'
Melissa, with her hand upon the lock.
So stood that same fair creature at the door. That brother-sister Psyche, both in one?
Then Lady Psyche, “Ah-Melissa-you! You were that Psyche, but what are you now?" Yon heard us !" and Melissa, “O pardon me! “You are that Psyche," Cyril said, "for whom I heard, I could not help it, did not wish: I would be that forever which I seem,
But, dearest Lady, pray you fear me not, Woman, if I might sit beside your feet,
Nor think I bear that heart within my breast, And glean your scatter'd sapience."
To give three gallant gentlemen to death."
Then once more, “I trust you," said the other," for we two " Are you that Lady Psyche,” I began,
Were always friends, noue closer, elm and vine: “That on her bridal morn before she past
But yet your mother's jealous temperamentFrom all her old companions, when the king Let not your prudence, dearest, drowse, or prove Kiss'd her pale cheek, declared that ancient ties The Danaid of a leaky vase, for fear Would still be dear beyond the southern hills; This whole foundation ruin, and I lose That were there any of our people there
My honor, these their lives." " Ah, fear me not," In want or peril, there was one to hear
Replied Melissa; “no-I would not tell, And help them: look! for such are these and I.” No, not for all Aspasia's cleverness, "Are you that Psyche,” Florian ask'd, “ to whom, No, not to answer, Madam, all those hard things In gentler days, your arrow-wounded fawn
That Sheba came to ask of Solomon," Came flying while you sat beside the well?
“Be it so," the other, “that we still may lead The creature laid his muzzle on your lap,
The new light up, and culminate in peace,
Of Lebanonian cedar: nor should you You were that Psyche, and what are you now?" (Tho' Madam you should answer, we would ask) “You are that Psyche," Cyril said again,
Less welcome find among us, if you came "The mother of the sweetest little maid,
Among us, debtors for our lives to you, That ever crow'd for kisses."
Myself for something more.” He said not what,
"Out upon it!" But “Thanks," she answer'd, "go: we have beer. She answer'd, "peace! and why should I not play too long The Spartan Mother with emotion, be
Together: keep your hoods about the face; The Lucius Junius Brutus of my kind ?
They do so that affect abstraction here. Him you call great: he for the common weai, Speak little; mix not with the rest; and hold The fading politics of mortal Rome,
Your promise : all, I trust, inay yet be well."
We turn'd to go, but Cyril took the child,
How might a man not wander from his wits And held her round the knees against his waist, Pierced thro' with eyes, but that I kept mine own And blew the swoll'n cheek of a trumpeter,
Intent on her, who rapt in glorious dreams, While Psyche watch'd them, smiling, and the child The second-sight of some Astræan age, Push'd her flat hand against his face and laugh'd ; Sat compass'd with professors: they, the while, And thus our conference closed.
Discuss'd a doubt and tost it to and fro:
And then we strolled A clamor thicken'd, mixt with inmost terms For half the day thro' stately theatres
Of art and science: Lady Blanche alone Bench'd crescent-wise. In each we sat, we heard of faded form and hanghtiest lineaments, The grave Professor. On the lecture slate
With all her Autumn tresses falsely brown, The circle rounded under female hands
Sbot sidelong daggers at us, a tiger-cat With flawless demonstration : follow'd then
In act to spring. A classic lecture, rich in sentiment,
At last a solemn grace With scraps of thunderous Epic lilted out
Concluded, and we songht the gardens: there By violet-hooded Doctors, elegies
One walk'd reciting by herself, and one And quoted odes, and jewels tive-words-long In this hand held a volume as to read, That on the stretch'd foretinger of all Time And smoothed a petted peacock down with that: Sparkle forever : then we dipt in all
Some to a low song oar'd a shallop by, That treats of whatsoever is, the state,
Or under arches of the marble bridge The total chronicles of man, the mind,
Hung, shadow'd from the heat: some hid and sought The morals, something of the frame, the rock, In the orange thickets : others tost a ball The star, the bird, the fish, the shell, the flower, Above the fountain-jets, and back again Electric, chemic laws, and all the rest,
With laughter: others lay about the lawns, And whatsoever can be taught and known;
Of the older sort, and murmur'd that their May Till like three horses that have broken fence, Was passing: what was learning unto them? And glutted all night long breast-deep in corn, They wish’d to marry; they could rule a house ; We issued gorged with knowledge, and I spoke : Men hated learned women : but we three “Why, Sirs, they do all this as well as we.”
Sat muffled like the Fates; and often came *" They hunt old trails," said Cyril, “ very well; Melissa hitting all we saw with shafts But when did woman ever yet invent!"
Of gentle satire, kin to charity, “Ungracious !" answer'd Florian, “have you learnt That harm'd not: then day droopt; the chapel bells No more from Psyche's lecture, you that talk'd Call'd us: we left the walks ; we mixt with those The trash that made me sick, and almost sad ?" Six hundred maidens clad in purest white, "O trash," he said, “but with a kernel in it. Before two streams of light from wall to wall, Should I not call her wise, who made me wise ? While the great organ almost burst his pipes, And learnt! I learnt more from her in a flash, Groaning for power, and rolling thro' the court Than if my brainpan were an empty hull,
A long melodious thunder to the sound And every Muse tumbled a science in.
Of solemn psalms, and silver litanies,
The work of Ida, to call down from Heaven
Sweet and low, sweet and low,
Wind of the western sea,
Low, low, breathe and blow,
Wind of the western sea !
Over the rolling waters go,
Come from the dying moon, and blow,
Blow him again to me;
While my little one, while my pretty one, sleeps.
Sleep and rest, sleep and rest,
Father will come to thee soon ;
Rest, rest, on mother's breast,
Father will come to thee soon;
Father will come to his babe in the nest,
Silver sails all ont of the west
Under the silver moon:
Sleep, my little one, sleep, my pretty one, sleep. Unmann'd me: then the Doctors! O to hear
Morn in the white wake of the morning star To break my chain, to shake my mane: but thou, Came furrowing all the orient into gold. Modulate me, Soul of mincing mimicry!
We rose, and each by other drest with care Make liquid treble of that bassoon, my throat; Descended to the court that lay three parts Abase those eyes that ever loved to meet
In shadow, but the Muses' heads were touch'd Star-sisters answering under crescent brows; Above the darkness from their native East. Abate the stride, which speaks of man, and loose A flying charm of blushes o'er this cheek,
There while we stood beside the fount, and watch'd Where they like swallows coming out of time Or seem'd to watch the dancing bubble, approach'd Will wonder why they came ; but hark the hell Melissa, tinged with wan from lack of sleep, For dinner, iet us go !"
Or grief, and glowing round her dewy eyes And in we stream'd The circled Iris of a night of tears ; Among the columns, pacing staid and still
"And fly," she cried, “O fly, while yet you may ! By twos and threes, till all from end to end
My mother knows:" and when I ask'd her "how," With beauties every shade of brown and fair, "My fault," she wept, "my fault! and yet not mine : In colors gayer than the morning mist,
Yet mine in part. O hear me, pardon me. The long hall glitter'd like a bed of flowers. My mother, 't is her wont from night to night