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"Nay," said King Schoneus, "thus it shall not be, But rather shalt thou let a month go by, And weary with thy prayers for victory What god thou know'st the kindest and most nigh. So doing, still perchance thou shalt not die : And with my goodwill wouldst thou have the maid, For of the equal gods I grow afraid.
"And until then, O Prince, be thou my guest, And all these troublous things awhile forget." "Nay," said he, "couldst thou give my soul good rest, And on mine head a sleepy garland set,
Then had I 'scaped the meshes of the net,
Nor shouldst thou hear from me another word;
"Yet will I do what son of man may do, And promise all the gods may most desire, That to myself I may at least be true;
And on that day my heart and limbs so tire,
He went therewith, nor anywhere would bide,
Upon the shore of Argolis there stands A temple to the goddess that he sought, That, turned unto the lion-bearing lands, Fenced from the east, of cold winds hath no thought, Though to no homestead there the sheaves are brought, No groaning press torments the close-clipped murk, Lonely the fane stands, far from all men's work.
Pass through a close, set thick with myrtle trees, Through the brass doors that guard the holy place, And entering, hear the washing of the seas That twice a-day rise high above the base, And with the south-west urging them, embrace The marble feet of her that standeth there That shrink not, naked though they be and fair.
Small is the fane through which the seawind sings About Queen Venus' well-wrought image white, But hung around are many precious things, The gifts of those who, longing for delight, Have hung them there within the goddess' sight, And in return have taken at her hands
The living treasures of the Grecian lands.
And thither now has come Milanion,
And now before the Sea-born One he stands, By the sweet veiling smoke made dim and soft, And while the incense trickles from his hands, And while the odorous smoke-wreaths hang aloft, Thus doth he pray to her: "O Thou, who oft Hast holpen man and maid in their distress Despise me not for this my wretchedness!
"O goddess, among us who dwell below, Kings and great men, great for a little while, Have pity on the lowly heads that bow, Nor hate the hearts that love them without guile; Wilt thou be worse than these, and is thy smile A vain device of him who set thee here, An empty dream of some artificer ?
"O, great one, some men love, and are ashamed; Some men are weary of the bonds of love; Yea, and by some men lightly art thou blamed, That from thy toils their lives they cannot move, And 'mid the ranks of men their manhood prove. Alas! O goddess, if thou slayest me What new immortal can I serve but thee?
"Think then, will it bring honour to thy head If folk say, 'Everything aside he cast And to all fame and honour was he dead, And to his one hope now is dead at last, Since all unholpen he is gone and past: Ah, the gods love not man, for certainly, He to his helper did not cease to cry.'
"Nay, but thou wilt help; they who died before Not single-hearted as I deem came here, Therefore unthanked they laid their gifts before Thy stainless feet, still shivering with their fear, Lest in their eyes their true thought might appear, Who sought to be the lords of that fair town, Dreaded of men and winners of renown.
"O Queen, thou knowest I pray not for this: O set us down together in some place
Where not a voice can break our heaven of bliss, Where nought but rocks and I can see her face, Softening beneath the marvel of thy grace, Where not a foot our vanished steps can trackThe golden age, the golden age come back!
"O fairest, hear me now who do thy will,
"But none the less, this place will I not leave Until I needs must go my death to meet, Or at thy hands some happy sign receive That in great joy we twain may one day greet Thy presence here and kiss thy silver feet, Such as we deem thee, fair beyond all words, Victorious o'er our servants and our lords."
Then from the altar back a space he drew,
And there he stood when all the sun was down, Nor had he moved, when the dim golden light, Like the far lustre of a godlike town,
Had left the world to seeming hopeless night,
Nought noted he the shallow-flowing sea As step by step it set the wrack a-swim; The yellow torchlight nothing noted he Wherein with fluttering gown and half-bared limb The temple damsels sung their midnight hymn; And nought the doubled stillness of the fane When they were gone and all was hushed again.
But when the waves had touched the marble base, And steps the fish swim over twice a-day, The dawn beheld him sunken in his place Upon the floor; and sleeping there he lay, Not heeding aught the little jets of spray The roughened sea brought nigh, across him cast, For as one dead all thought from him had passed.