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I saw with half-unconscious eye

She wore the colors I approved.

I

III
She took the little ivory chest,

With half a sigh she turn'd the key, Then raised her head with lips comprest,

And gave my letters back to me; And gave the trinkets and the rings, My gifts, when gifts of mine could

please. As looks a father on the things

Of his dead son, I look'd on these.

I HAD a vision when the night was late;
A youth came riding toward a palace-gate.
He rode a horse with wings, that would

bave flown,
But that his heavy rider kept him down.
And from the palace came a child of sin,
And took him by the curls, and led him

in, Where sat a company with heated eyes, Expecting when a fountain should arise. A sleepy light upon their brows and lips — As when the sun, a crescent of eclipse, Dreams over lake and lawn, and isles and

capes Suffused" them, sitting, lying, languid

shapes, By heaps of gourds, and skins of wine, and

piles of grapes.

.

10

IV She told me all her friends had said;

I raged against the public liar; She talk'd as if her love were dead,

But in my words were seeds of fire. •No more of love, your sex is known;

I never will be twice deceived. Henceforth I trust the man alone,

The woman cannot be believed.

II

V

•Thro' slander, meanest spawn of hell, –

And women's slander is the worst, And

you, wbom once I loved so well, Thro' you my life will be accurst.' I spoke with heart and heat and force,

I shook her breast with vagne alarms Like torrents from a mountain source

We rush'd into each other's arms.

20

VI

We parted; sweetly gleam'd the stars,

And sweet the vapor-braided blue; Low breezes fann'd the belfry bars,

As homeward by the church I drew. The very graves appear'd to smile,

So fresh they rose in shadow'd swells; • Dark porch,' I said, “and silent aisle,

There comes a sound of marriage bells.'

Then methought I heard a mellow sound, Gathering up from all the lower ground; Narrowing in to where they sat assem

bled, Low voluptuous music winding trembled, Woven in circles. They that heard it sigh’d, Panted hand-in-hand with faces pale, Swung themselves, and in low tones re

plied; Till the fountain spouted, showering wide Sleet of diamond-drift and pearly hail. Then the music touch'd the gates and died, Rose again from where it seem'd to fail, Stormd in orbs of song, a growing gale; Till thronging in and in, to where they

waited, As 't were a hundred-throated nightingale, The strong tempestuous treble throbb’d

and palpitated; Ran into its giddiest whirl of sound, Caught the sparkles, and in circles, Purple gauzes, golden hazes, liquid mazes, Flung the torrent rainbow round. Then they started from their places, Moved with violence, changed in hue, Caught each other with wild grimaces, Hall-invisible to the view, Wheeling with precipitate paces To the melody, till they flew, Hair and eyes and limbs and faces, Twisted hard in fierce embraces, Like to Furies, like to Graces, Dash'd together in blinding dew;

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30

THE VISION OF SIN

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First printed in 1842. Lines 97, 98, 121, 122 at first had 'minute' for 'moment'; 106, 'in' for 'by'; 128, 'the' for 'a'; 188,

or' for 'nor'; 208, `Again' for ‘Once more '; and 213, said' for 'spake.' In the Selections' of 1865 (but only there) the following couplet appears after line 214:

Another answer'd : But a crime of sense ?
Give him new nerves with old experience.'

Till, kill'd with some luxurious agony,
The nerve-dissolving melody
Flutter'd headlong froin the sky.

When the rotten woodland drips,

And the leaf is stamp'd in clay.

III

Sit thee down, and have no shame,

Cheek by jowl, and knee by knee; What care I for any name ?

What for order or degree ?

Let me screw thee up a peg;

Let me loose thy tongue with wine; Callest thou that thing a leg ?

Which is thinnest ? thine or mine?

• Thou shalt not be saved by works,

Thou hast been a sinner too; Ruin'd trunks on withez'd forks,

Empty scarecrows, I and you !

And then I look'd up toward a mountain

tract, That girt the region with high cliff and

lawn. I saw that every morning, far withdrawn Beyond the darkness and the cataract, God made Himself an awful rose of dawn, Unbeeded; and detaching, fold by fold, si From those still heights, and, slowly draw

ing near, A vapor heavy, hueless, formless, cold, Came floating on for many a month and

year, Unheeded; and I thought I would have

spoken, And warn'd that madman ere it grew too

late, But, as in dreams, I could not. Mine was

broken, When that cold vapor touch'd the palace

gate, And link'd again. I saw within my head A gray and gap-tooth'd man as lean as

death, Who slowly rode across a wither'd heath, And lighted at a ruin'd inn, and said

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And slowly quickening into lower forms; By shards and scurf of salt, and scum of

dross, Old plash of rains, and refuse patch'd with

• Proclaim the faults he would not show;

Break lock and seal, betray the trust; Keep nothing sacred, 't is but just The many-headed beast should know.'

moss.

Ah, shameless ! for he did but sing
А.

song that pleased us from its worth; No public life was his on earth, No blazou'd statesman he, vor king.

6

Then some one spake: • Behold! it was a

crime Of sense avenged by sense that wore with

time.' Another said: “The crime of sense became The crime of malice, and is equal blame.' And one: “He had not wholly quench'd his

power; A little grain of conscience made him sour.' At last I heard a voice upon the slope Cry to the summit, “Is there any hope ?' To which an answer peal’d from that high

land, But in a tongue no man could understand; And on the glimmering limit far with

drawn God made Himself an awful rose of dawn.

He

gave the people of his best; His worst he kept, his best he gave. My Shakespeare's curse on clown and

kvave Who will not let his ashes rest!

219

Who make it seem more sweet to be

The little life of bank and brier,

The bird that pipes his lone desire And dies unheard within his tree,

Than he that warbles long and loud

And drops at Glory's temple-gates,

For whom the carrion vulture waits To tear his heart before the crowd !

TO

AFTER READING A LIFE AND LETTERS

Cursed be he that moves my bones.'

Shakespeare's Epitaph.

TO E. L., ON HIS TRAVELS IN

GREECE

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The poem was first published in 1847, but has since undergone many changes. In the second edition, issued in 1848, the dedication to Henry Lushington was added (omitted in the recent edisons), and the text was slightly revised. In the third (1850) the six intercalary songs were inverted, many additions and alterations were made in the body of the poem, and the Prologue and Conclusion were partially rewritten. The most important change in the fourth edition (1851) was the introduction of the passages relating to the weird seizures' of the Prince. In he fifth edition (1853) lines 35–49 of the Prologue (* O miracle of women,' etc.) first appeared, and the text was settled in the form which it has since preserved. For the various readings, etc., see the Notes.

PROLOGUE

The neighboring borough with their Insti

tute,
Of which he was the patron. I was there
From college, visiting the son,
A Walter too,

with others of our set, Five others; we

SIR WALTER VIVIAN all a summer's day
Gave his broad lawns until the set of sun
Up to the people; thither flock'd at noon
His tenants, wife and child, and thither

were seven at Vivian. place.

balf

the son

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