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THE EGYPTIAN MAID

OE

THE ROMANCE OP THE WATER LILT.

For the names and persons in the following poem see the "History of the renowned Prince Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table;" for the rest the Author is answerable; only it may be proper to add that the Lotus, with the bust of the Goddess appearing to rise out of the full-blown flower, was suggested by the beautiful work of ancient art, once included among the Townley Marbles, and now in the British Museum.

While Merlin paced the Cornish sands,
Forth-looking toward the rocks of Scilly,
The pleased Enchanter was aware
Of a bright Ship that seemed to hang in air,
Yet was she work of mortal hands, 5

And took from men her name—The Water
Lily.

Soft was the wind, that landward blew;
And, as the Moon, o'er some dark hill

ascendant, Grows from a little edge of light To a full orb, this Pinnace bright 10

Became, as nearer to the coast she drew, More glorious, with spread sail and streaming pendant.

Upon this winged Shape so fair
Sage Merlin gazed with admiration:
Her lineaments, thought he, surpass 15

Aught that was ever shown iu magic glass;
Was ever built with patient care;
Or, at a touch, produced by happiest trans-
formation.

Now, though a Mechanist, whose skill Shames the degenerate grasp of modern

science, 20

Grave Merlin (and belike the more For practising occult and perilous lore) Was subject to a freakish will That sapped good thoughts, or scared them with

defiance.

Provoked to envious spleen, he cast 15

An altered look upon the advancing Stranger Whom he had hailed with joy, and cried, "My Art shall help to tame her pride—" Anon the breeze became a blast, And the waves rose, and sky portended danger.

With thrilling word, and potent sign 31

Traced on the beach, his work the Sorcerer

urges; The clouds in blacker clouds are lost, Like spiteful Fiends that vanish, crossed By Fiends of aspect more malign; 35

And the winds roused the Deep with fiercer

scourges.

But worthy of the name she bore

Was this Sea-flower, this buoyant Galley;

Supreme in loveliness and grace

Of motion, whether in the embrace 40

Of trusty anchorage, or scudding o'er
The main flood roughened into hill and valley.

Behold, how wantonly she laves
Her sides, the Wizard's craft confounding;
Like something out of Ocean sprung 45

To be for ever fresh and young,
Breasts the sea-flashes, and huge waves
Top-gallant high, rebounding and rebounding!

But Ocean under magic heaves, 49

And cannot spare the Thing he cherished: Ah! what avails that she was fair, Luminous, blithe, and debonair? The storm has stripped her of her leaves; The Lily floats no longer!—She hath perished.

Grieve for her, she deserves no less; 55

So like, yet so unlike, a living Creature!
No heart had she, no busy brain;
Though loved, she could not love again;
Though pitied, feel her own distress; 59

Nor aught that troubles us, the fools of Nature.

Yet is there cause for gushing tears;
So richly was this Galley laden,
A fairer than herself she bore,
And, in her struggles, cast ashore;
A lovely One, who nothing hears 65

Of wind or wave—a meek and guileless Maiden.

Into a cave had Merlin fled

From mischief, caused by spells himself had

muttered; And while, repentant all too late, In inoody posture there he sate, 70

He heard a voice, and saw, with half-raised head, A Visitant by whom these words were uttered;

"On Christian service this frail Bark Sailed" (hear me, Merlin !) "under high protection, 74

Though on her prow a sign of heathen power Was carved—a Goddess with a Lily flower, The old Egyptian's emblematic mark Of joy immortal and of pure affection.

"Her course was for the British strand; Her freight, it was a Damsel peerless; 80 God reigns above, and Spirits strong May gather to avenge this wrong Done to the Princess, and her Land Which she in duty left, sad but not cheerless.

"And to Caerleon's loftiest tower 85

Soon will the Knights of Arthur's Table
A cry of lamentation send;
And all will weep who there attend,
To grace that Stranger's bridal hour,
For whom the sea was made unnavigable. 90

"Shame! should a Child of royal line
Die through the blindness of thy malice?"
Thus to the Necromancer spake
Nina, the Lady of the Lake,
A gentle Sorceress, and benign, 95

Who ne'er embittered any good man's chalice.

"What boots," continued she, "to mourn? To expiate thy sin endeavour: From the bleak isle where she is laid,

Fetched by our art, the Egyptian Maid 100 May yet to Arthur's court be borne Cold as she is, ere life be fled for ever.

"My pearly Boat, a shining Light, That brought me down that sunless river, Will bear me on from wave to wave, 105 And back with her to this sea-cave;—. Then Merlin! for a rapid flight Through air, to thee my Charge will I deliver.

"The very swiftest of thy cars Must, when my part is done, be ready; no Meanwhile, for further guidance, look Into thy own prophetic book; And, if that fail, consult the Stars To learn thy course; farewell! be prompt and steady."

This scarcely spoken, she again n5

Was seated in her gleaming shallop, That, o'er the yet-distempered Deep, Pursued its way with bird-like sweep, Or like a steed, without a rein, Urged o'er the wilderness in sportive gallop. 120

Soon did the gentle Nina reach
That Isle without a house or haven;
Landing, she found not what she sought,
Nor saw of wreck or ruin aught
But a carved Lotus cast upon the beach 125
By the fierce waves, a flower in marble graven.

Sad relique, but how fair the while!
For gently each from each retreating
With backward curve, the leaves revealed
The bosom half, and half concealed, 130

Of a Divinity, that seemed to smile
On Nina, as she passed, with hopeful greeting.

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