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THE EGYPTIAN MAID
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,
And took from men her name—The Water
Soft was the wind, that landward blew;
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
Aught that was ever shown iu magic glass;
Now, though a Mechanist, whose skill Shames the degenerate grasp of modern
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
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
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
Behold, how wantonly she laves
To be for ever fresh and young,
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!
Nor aught that troubles us, the fools of Nature.
Yet is there cause for gushing tears;
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
"Shame! should a Child of royal line
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
Sad relique, but how fair the while!
Of a Divinity, that seemed to smile