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As daring not, for utter guiltiness,
To meet that angry voice and aspect joined.
His very heel-wings drooped; but yet, not less,
His backward hand the Sun-God's shafts purloined.
(The Song of Orpheus.)
THEN, on a Sardonyx, the man of Thrace,
The voice supreme that through Hell's portals stole,
With carved white lyre and glorious song-lit face,
(Too soon, alas! on Hebrus' wave to roll!)
Played to the beasts, from a great elm-tree bole.
And lo! with half-shut eyes the leopard spread
His lissome length; and deer with gentle tread
Came through the trees; and, from a nearer spring,
The prick-eared rabbit paused; while overhead
The stock-dove drifted downward, fluttering.
(The Crowning of Silenus.)
NEXT came an Amethyst,—the grape in hue.
On a mock throne, by fresh excess disgraced,
With heavy head, and thyrsus held askew,
The Youths, in scorn, had dull Silenus placed,
And o'er him "King of Topers" they had traced.
Yet but a King of Sleep he seemed at best,
With wine-bag cheeks that bulged upon his breast, And vat-like paunch distent from his carouse. Meanwhile, his ass, by no respect represt, Munched at the wreath upon her Master's brows.
LASTLY, with "Pleasure" was a Beryl graven,
Clear-hued,-divine. Thereon the Sirens sung.
What time, beneath, by rough rock-bases caven,
And jaw-like rifts where many a green bone clung,
The strong flood-tide, in-rushing, coiled and swung.
Then,-in the offing,-on the lift of the sea,
A tall ship drawing shoreward-helplessly.
For, from the prow, e'en now the rowers leap
Headlong, nor seek from that sweet fate to flee..
Ah me, those Women-witches of the Deep!
THE SICK MAN AND THE BIRDS.
'PRING,-art thou come, O Spring!
I am too sick for words;
How hast thou heart to sing,
O Spring, with all thy birds?
I sing for joy to see again
The merry leaves along the lane,
The little bud grown ripe;
And look, my love upon the bough!
Hark, how she calleth to me now,-
"Pipe ! pipe !"
Ah! weary is the sun :
Love is an idle thing;
But, Bird, thou restless one,
What ails thee, wandering?
By shore and sea I come and go
To seek I know not what; and lo!
On no man's eaves I sit
But voices bid me rise once more,
To flit again by sea and shore,-
Flit! Flit !
This is Earth's bitter cup :-
Only to seek, not know.
But Thou, that strivest up,
Why dost thou carol so?
A secret Spirit gifteth me
With song, and wing that lifteth me,— A Spirit for whose sake,
Striving amain to reach the sky,
Still to the old dark earth I cry,-
My hope hath lost its wing.
Thou, that to Night dost call,
How hast thou heart to sing
Thy tears made musical?
Alas for me! a dry desire
Is all my song,— -a waste of fire
That will not fade nor fail;
To me, dim shapes of ancient crime Moan through the windy ways of time, 66 Wail! wail!"
This is the sick man's song,-
Mournful, in sooth, and fit;
Unrest that cries "How long !"-
And the Night answers it.