Page images

Howbeit he vanished in the forest shade,
Distantly heard as if some grumbling pard,
And, like Narcissus, to a sound decayed; —
Meanwhile the fays clustered the gracious Bard,
The darling centre of their dear regard :
Besides of sundry dances on the green,
Never was mortal man so brightly starred,
Or won such pretty homages, I ween.
“Nod to him, Elves !” cries the melodious queen.

“Nod to him, Elves, and flutter round about him,
And quite enclose him with your pretty crowd,
And touch him. lovingly, for that, without him,
The silk-worm now had spun our dreary shroud; —
But he hath all dispersed death's tearful cloud,
And Time's dread effigy scared quite away:
Bow to him, then, as though to me ye bowed,
And his dear wishes prosper and obey
Wherever love and wit can find a way!

“'Noint him with fairy dews of magic savors,
Shaken from orient buds still pearly wet,
Roses and spicy pinks, — and, of all favors,
Plant in his walks the purple violet,
And meadow-sweet under the hedges set,
To mingle breaths with dainty eglantine
And honeysuckles sweet, — nor yet forget
Some pastoral flowery chaplets to entwine,
To vie the thoughts about his brow benign

“Let no wild things astonish him or fear him,
But tell them all how mild he is of heart,
Till e’en the timid hares go frankly near him,
And cke the dappled does, yet never start;

Nor shall their fawns into the thickets dart,
Nor wrens forsake their nests among the leaves,
Nor speckled thrushes flutter far apart; —
But bid the sacred swallow haunt his eaves,
To guard his roof from lightning and from thieves.
“Or when he goes the nimble squirrel's visitor,
Let the brown hermit bring his hoarded nuts,
For, tell him, this is Nature's kind Inquisitor,—
Though man keeps cautious doors that conscience shuts,
For conscious wrong all curious quest rebuts, —
Nor yet shall bees uncase their jealous stings,
However he may watch their straw-built huts; —
So let him learn the crafts of all small things,
Which he will hint most aptly when he sings."
Here she leaves off, and with a graceful hand
Waves thrice three splendid circles round his head;
Which, though deserted by the radiant wand,
Wears still the glory which her waving shed,
Such as erst crowned the old Apostle's head;
To show the thoughts there harbored were divine,
And on immortal contemplations fed :-
Goodly it was to see that glory shine
Around a brow so lofty and benign ! —
Goodly it was to see the elfin brood
Contend for kisses of his gentle hand,
That had their mortal enemy withstood,
And stayed their lives, fast ebbing with the sand.
Long while this strife engaged the pretty band;
But now bold Chanticleer, from farm to farm,
Challenged the dawn creeping o’er eastern land,
And well the fairies knew that shrill alarm,
Which sounds the knell of every elfish charm.

And soon the rolling mist, that 'gan arise
From plashy mead and undiscovered stream,
Earth's morning incense to the early skies,
Crept o'er the failing landscape of my dream.
Soon faded then the Phantom of my theme —
A shapeless shade, that fancy disavowed,
And shrank to nothing in the mist extreme.
Then flew Titania, — and her little crowd,
Like flocking linnets, vanished in a cloud.


« PreviousContinue »