« PreviousContinue »
Mild Hermes! spake, and touched her with his wand, That calms all fear: “Such grace hath crowned thy
prayer, Laodamia, that at Jove's command
Thy husband walks the paths of upper air ; He comes to tarry with thee three hours' space : Accept the gift, behold him face to face !" Forth sprang the impassioned queen her lord to clasp;
Again that consummation she essayed ;
As often as that eager grasp was made.
Confirm, I pray, the vision with thy voice :
Speak, and the floor thou tread'st on will rejoice.
His gifts imperfect: spectre though I be,
But in reward of thy fidelity;
Thou know'st the Delphic? oracle foretold
That the first Greek who touched the Trojan strand Should die ;
but me the threat could not withhold: A generous cause a victim did demand ; And forth I leapt upon the sandy plain, A self-devoted chief, by Hector slain.” “Supreme of heroes, bravest, noblest, best!
Thy matchless courage I bewail no more,
The Greek name for Mercurius.
Which then, when tens of thousands were deprest
By doubt, propelled thee to the fatal shore;
Wert kind as resolute, and good as brave;
That thou should'st cheat the malice of the grave; Redundant are thy locks, thy lips as fair As when their breath enriched Thessalian air. No spectre greets me,-no vain shadow this:
Come, blooming hero, place thee by my side! Give, on this well-known couch, one nuptial kiss
To me, this day a second time thy bride !" Jove frowned in heaven; the conscious Parcæl threw Upon those roseate lips a Stygian hue. " This visage tells thee that my doom is past :
Know, virtue were not virtue if the joys
And surely as they vanish. Earth destroys
Rebellious passion : for the gods approve
A fervent, not ungovernable love.
Wrest from the guardian monster of the tomb
Given back to dwell on earth in vernal bloom?
i The Fates.
3 The wife of Hercules, whom he is said to have rescued by force from Hades.
Medea's spells dispersed the weight of years,
Yet further may relent: for mightier far
Of magic potent over sun and star, Is love, though oft to agony distrest, And though his favourite seat be feeble woman's breast. But if thou go'st, I follow—” “Peace !” he said.
She looked upon him, and was calmed and cheered ; The ghastly colour from his lips had fled ;
In his deportment, shape, and mien appeared
In worlds whose course is equable and pure ;
The past unsighed for, and the future sure ;
Of all that is most beauteous, imaged there
In happier beauty ; more pellucid streams,
And fields invested with purpureal gleams ;
That privilege by virtue. “ Ill,” said he, “ The end of man's existence I discerned,
Who from ignoble games and revelry
A sorceress. 2
Elysium, that part of Hades in which the souls of the blessed dwelt.
And while my youthful peers before my eyes
(Each hero following his peculiar bent) Prepared themselves for glorious enterprise
By martial sports ; or, seated in the tent,
The oracle upon the silent sea;
That of a thousand vessels mine should be
When of thy loss I thought, beloved wife; On thee too fondly did my memory hang,
And on the joys we shared in mortal life ; The paths which we had trod, these fountains, flowers, My new-planned cities and unfinished towers. But should suspense permit the foe to cry,
Behold, they tremble !-haughty their array,
In soul I swept the indignity away;
In reason, in self-government too slow;
Our blest re-union in the shades below.
Towards a higher object, -love was given,
For this the passion to excess was driven,
1 The fleet of the Grecian armament against Troy was long detained at Aulis, in Bæotia, by contrary winds.
That self might be annulled ; her bondage prove
Round the dear shade she would have clung: 'tis vain, The hours are past,—too brief had they been years,
And him no mortal effort can detain :
She who thus perished not without the crime
Was doomed to wander in a grosser clime,
Sonnet, to Sleep.
One after one; the sound of rain, and bees
Murmuring; the fall of rivers, winds and seas, Smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky, — By turns have all been thought of; yet I lie
Now called the Dardanelles, a narrow strait, near the shores of which Troy stood.
: A name for Troy.