Page images

Then I remember'd one myself had made
What time I watch'd the swallow winging south
From mine own land, part made long since, and part
Now while I sang, and maidenlike as far
As I could ape their treble, did I sing.

• O Swallow, Swallow, flying, flying South, Fly to her, and fall upon her gilded eaves,

And tell her, tell her what I tell to thee.

O tell her, Swallow, thou that knowest each,

That bright and fierce and fickle is the South,

And dark and true and tender is the North.

* 0 Swallow, Swallow, if I could follow, and light Upon her lattice, I would pipe and trill, And cheep and twitter twenty million loves.

[ocr errors]

• O were I thou that she might take me in,

[ocr errors]

And lay me on her bosom, and her heart
Would rock the snowy cradle till I died.

• Why lingereth she to clothe her heart with love, Delaying as the tender ash delays To clothe herself, when all the woods are green ?

• O tell her, Swallow, that thy brood is flown : Say to her, I do but wanton in the South But in the North long since my nest is made.

• O tell her, brief is life but love is long,

And brief the sun of summer in the North,

And brief the moon of beauty in the South.

[ocr errors]

0 Swallow, flying from the golden woods, Fly to her, and pipe and woo her, and make her mine, And tell her, tell her, that I follow thee.'

I ceased and all the ladies, each at each,

Like the Ithacensian suitors in old time,

Stared with great eyes, and laugh'd with alien lips,
And knew not what they meant; for still my

voice Rang false : but smiling • Not for thee,' she said,

O Bulbul, any rose of Gulistan

Shall burst her veil : marsh-divers, rather, maid,

Shall croak thee sister, or the meadow-crake

Grate her harsh kindred in the grass : and this

A mere love-poem! O for such, my friend,
We hold them slight : they mind us of the time

When we made bricks in Egypt. Knaves are men,

That lute and flute fantastic tenderness,

And dress the victim to the offering up,

And paint the gates of Hell with Paradise,

And play the slave to gain the tyranny.

Poor soul! I had a maid of honour once ;

She wept her true eyes blind for such a one,

A rogue of canzonets and serenades.

I loved her. Peace be with her ! she is dead.

So they blaspheme the muse! but great is song

Used to great ends : ourself have often tried

Valkyrian hymns, or into rhythm have dash'd

The passion of the prophetess ; for song
Is duer unto freedom, force and growth

Of spirit than to junketing and love.

Love is it?

Would this same mock-love, and this

Mock-Hymen were laid up like winter bats,
Till all men grew to rate us at our worth,
Not vassals to be beat, nor pretty babes
To be dandled, no, but living wills, and sphered
Whole in ourselves and due to none. Enough!
But now to leaven play with profit, you,
Know you no song, the true growth of your soil,
That gives the manners of your countrywomen ??

[ocr errors]

She spoke and turn'd her sumptuous head with eyes
Of shining expectation fixt on mine.
Then while I dragg’d my brains for such a song,
Cyril, with whom the bell-mouth'd flask had wrought,
Or master'd by the sense of sport, began

To troll a careless, careless tavern-catch

Of Moll and Meg, and strange experiences

Unmeet for ladies. Florian nodded at him,

I frowning ; Psyche flush'd and wann'd and shook


The lilylike Melissa droop'd her brows ;
• Forbear 'the Princess cried ; 'Forbear, Sir’I;

[ocr errors]

And heated thro' and thro' with wrath and love,

I smote him on the breast; he started up;

There rose a shriek as of a city sack'd ;
Melissa clamour'd • Flee the death ; • To horse'

Said Ida ; home! to horse !' and fled, as flies

A troop


snowy doves athwart the dusk,

When some one batters at the dovecote-doors,

Disorderly the women.

Alone I stood

With Florian, cursing Cyril, vext at heart,
In the pavilion : there like parting hopes
I heard them passing from me: hoof by hoof,

every hoof a my desires, Clang'd on the bridge ; and then another shriek, • The Head, the Head, the Princess, O the Head !'

For blind with rage she miss'd the plank, and rollid In the river. Out I sprang from glow to gloom :

There whirl'd her white robe like a blossom’d branch

Rapt to the horrible fall : a glance I gave,

« PreviousContinue »