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And all day long her slight spear devious flew,
And harmless swerved her arrows from their aim,
For ever, as the ivory bow she drew,
Before her ran the still unwounded game.
Then, at the last, a hunter's cry there came,
And, lo, a hart that panted with the chase;
Thereat her cheek was lightened as with flame,
And swift she gat her to a leafy place,
Thinking, "I yet may chance unseen to see his face."
Leaping he went, this hunter Cephalus,
Bent in his hand his cornel bow he bare,
Supple he was, round-limbed and vigorous,
Fleet as his dogs, a lean Laconian pair.
He, when he spied the brown of Procris' hair
Move in the covert, deeming that apart
Some fawn lay hidden, loosed an arrow there;
Nor cared to turn and seek the speeded dart,
Bounding above the fern, fast following up the hart.
But Procris lay among the white wind-flowers,
Shot in the throat. From out the little wound
The slow blood drained, as drops in autumn showers
Drip from the leaves upon the sodden ground.
None saw her die but Lelaps, the swift hound,
That watched her dumbly with a wistful fear,
Till, at the dawn, the hornèd wood-men found
And bore her gently on a sylvan bier,
To lie beside the sea,-with many an uncouth tear.
THE PRAYER OF THE SWINE TO
UDDLING they came, with shag sides caked of mire,
With hoofs fresh sullied from the troughs o'er
With wrinkling snouts,—yet eyes in which desire
Of some strange thing unutterably burned,
Unquenchable; and still where'er She turned
They rose about her, striving each o'er each,
With restless, fierce impórtuning that yearned
Through those brute masks some piteous tale to teach, Yet lacked the words thereto, denied the power of speech.
For these Eurylochus alone escaping
In truth, that small exploring band had been,
Whom wise Odysseus, dim precaution shaping,
Ever at heart, of peril unforeseen,
Had sent inland ;-whom then the islet-Queen,-
The fair disastrous daughter of the Sun,-
Had turned to likeness of the beast unclean,
With evil wand transforming one by one
To shapes of loathly swine, imbruted and undone.
But "the men's minds remained," and these for ever Made hungry suppliance through the fire-red eyes; Still searching aye, with impotent endeavour,
To find, if yet, in any look, there lies
A saving hope, or if they might surprise
In that cold face soft pity's spark concealed,
Which she, still scorning, evermore denies ;
Nor was there in her any ruth revealed
To whom with such mute speech and dumb words they appealed.
What hope is ours-what hope! To find no mercy
After much war, and many travails done?—-
Ah, kinder far than thy fell philtres, Circe,
The ravening Cyclops and the Læstrigon!
And O, thrice cursèd be Laertes' son,
By whom, at last, we watch the days decline
With no fair ending of the quest begun,
Condemned in styes to weary and to pine
And with men's hearts to beat through this foul front of swine!
For us not now,-for us, alas! no more
The old green glamour of the glancing sea;
For us not now the laughter of the oar,
The strong-ribbed keel wherein our comrades be;
Not now, at even, any more shall we,
By low-browed banks and reedy river places,
Watch the beast hurry and the wild fowl flee;
Or steering shoreward, in the upland spaces
Have sight of curling smoke and fair-skinned foreign faces.
Alas for us !-for whom the columned houses
We left afore-time, cheerless must abide;
Cheerless the hearth where now no guest carouses,—
No minstrel raises song at eventide;
And O, more cheerless than aught else beside,
The wistful hearts with heavy longing full ;—
The wife that watched us on the waning tide,—
The sire whose eyes with weariness are dull,—
The mother whose slow tears fall on the carded wool.
If swine we be,-if we indeed be swine,
Daughter of Persé, make us swine indeed,
Well-pleased on litter-straw to lie supine,—
Well-pleased on mast and acorn-shales to feed,
Stirred by all instincts of the bestial breed ;
But O Unmerciful! O Pitiless!
Leave us not thus with sick men's hearts to bleed!-
To waste long days in yearning, dumb distress
And memory of things gone, and utter hopelessness!
Leave us at least, if not the things we were,
At least consentient to the thing we be;
Not hapless doomed to loathe the forms we bear,
And senseful roll in senseless savagery;
For surely cursed above all cursed are we,
And surely this the bitterest of ill ;—
To feel the old aspirings fair and free,
Become blind motions of a powerless will
Through swine-like frames dispersed to swine-like issues still.
But make us men again, for that thou may'st!
Yea, make us men, Enchantress, and restore
These grovelling shapes, degraded and debased,
To fair embodiments of men once more;
Yea, by all men that ever woman bore ;—
Yea, e'en by him hereafter born in pain,
Shall draw sustainment from thy bosom's core,
O'er whom thy face yet kindly shall remain,
And find its like therein,―make thou us men again!
Make thou us men again,—if men but groping
That dark Hereafter which th' Olympians keep;
Make thou us men again,—if men but hoping
Behind death's doors security of sleep ;-
For yet to laugh is somewhat, and to weep ;—
To feel delight of living, and to plough
The salt-blown acres of the shoreless deep ;-
Better,-yea better far all these than bow
Foul faces to foul earth and yearn—as we do now!