Page images

Like one asleep in a green hermitage,
With gentle sleep about its eyelids playing,
And living in its dreams beyond the rage

Of death or life; while they were still arraying
In liveries ever new the rapid, blind,

And fleeting generations of mankind.

And she would write strange dreams upon the brain
Of those who were less beautiful, and make
All harsh and crooked purposes more vain
Than in the desert is the serpent's wake
Which the sand covers,-all his evil gain

The miser in such dreams would rise and shake
Into a beggar's lap ;-the lying scribe

Would his own lies betray with out a bribe.

The priests would write an explanation full,
Translating hieroglyphics into Greek,
How the god Apis really was a bull,

And nothing more; and bid the herald stick
The same against the temple doors, and pull

The old cant down; they licensed all to speak Whate'er they thought of hawks, and cats, and geese, By pastoral letters to each diocese,

The king would dress an ape up in his crown
And robes, and seat him on his glorious seat,
And on the right hand of the sunlike throne
Would place a gaudy mock-bird to repeat
The chatterings of the monkey.-Every one

Of the prone courtiers crawled to kiss the feet
Of their great Emperor when the morning came;
And kissed-alas, how many kiss the same!

The soldiers dreamed that they were blacksmiths, and
Walked out of quarters in somnambulism,
Round the red anvils you might see them stand
Like Cyclopses in Vulcan's sooty abysm,
Beating their swords to ploughshares;-in a band
The jailors sent those of the liberal schism
Free through the streets of Memphis; much, I wis,
To the annoyance of king Amasis.

And timid lovers who had been so coy,

They hardly knew whether they loved or not, Would rise out of their rest, and take sweet joy, To the fulfilment of their inmost thought; And when next day the maiden and the boy

Met one another, both, like sinners caught, Blushed at the thing which each believed was done Only in fancy-till the tenth moon shone;

And then the Witch would let them take no ill;
Of many thousand schemes which lovers find
The Witch found one,-and so they took their fill
Of happiness in marriage warm and kind.
Friends who, by practice of some envious skill,

Where torn apart, a wide wound, mind from mind! She did unite again with visions clear

Of deep affection and of truth sincere.

These where the pranks she played among the cities
Of mortal men, and what she did to sprites
And Gods, entangling them in her sweet ditties
To do her will, and show their subtle slights,
I will declare another time; for it is

A tale more fit for the weird winter nights-
Than for these garish summer days, when we
Scarcely believe much more than we can see.


Leghorn, July 1, 1820.

THE spider spreads her webs, whether she be
In poet's tower, cellar, or barn, or tree;
The silkworm in the dark green mulberry leaves
His winding sheet and cradle ever weaves;
So I, a thing whom moralists call worm,
Sit spinning still round this decaying form,
From the fine threads of rare and subtle thought-
No net of words in garish colours wrought

To catch the idle buzzers of the day

But a soft cell, where, when that fades away,
Memory may clothe in wings my living name
And feed it with the asphodels of fame,

Which in those hearts which most remember me
Grow, making love an immortality.

Whoever should behold me now, I wist,
Would think I were a mighty mechanist,
Bent with sublime Archimedean art
To breathe a soul into the iron heart

Of some machine portentous, or strange gin,
Which by the force of figured spells might win
Its way over the sea, and sport therein;
For round the walls are hung dread engines, such
As Vulcan never wrought for Jove to clutch
Ixion or the Titan:-or the quick

Wit of that man of God, St. Dominic,
To convince Atheist, Turk, or Heretic;

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Copter in this verse of me

preg me ta i a mne

dad wound not full of wise,

Faltenry than dew which the gnomes drais

sent the to auditerranean toil they swink,

Flidation this dimme of the earthquake, who

Reply to them in lava-cry, halloo !

And call out to the cities o'er their head,

Roofs, towns, and shrines,-the dying and the dead
Crash through the chinks of earth-and then all quaff
Another rouse, and hold their sides and laugh.
This quicksilver no gnome has drunk-within
The walnut bowl it lies, veined and thin,
In colour like the wake of light that stains

The Tuscan deep, when from the moist moon rains
The inmost shower of it's white fire-the breeze
Is still-blue heaven smiles over the pale seas.
And in this bowl of quicksilver—for I
Yield to the impulse of an infancy
Outlasting manhood-I have made to float
A rude idealism of a paper boat-

A hollow screw with cogs-Henry will know
The thing I mean and laugh at me,-if so
He fears not I should do more mischief.-Next
Lie bills and calculations much perplext,

With steam-boats, frigates, and machinery quaint
Traced over them in blue and yellow paint.
Then comes a range of mathematical
Instruments, for plans nautical and statical,
A heap of rosin, a green broken glass
With ink in it ;-a china cup that was
What it will never be again, I think,

A thing from which sweet lips were wont to drink
The liquor doctors rail at—and which I

Will quaff in spite of them--and when we die
We'll toss up who died first of drinking tea,
And cry out,-heads or tails? where'er we be.
Near that a dusty paint box, some old books,
A half burnt match, an ivory block, three books,
Where conic sections, spherics, logarithms,

« PreviousContinue »