Page images


She was a phantom of delight
When first she gleamed upon my sight;
A lovely apparition, sent
To be a moment's ornament;
Her eyes as stars of twilight fair;
Like twilight's, too, her dusky hair;
But all things else about her drawn
From May-time and the cheerful dawn;
A dancing shape, an image gay,
To haunt, to startle, and waylay.

I saw her upon nearer view,
A spirit, yet a woman too!
Her household motions light and free,
And steps of virgin liberty ;
A countenance in which did meet
Sweet records, promises as sweet;
A creature not too bright or good
For human nature's daily food :
For transient sorrows, simple wiles,
Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smilen.
And now I see with eye serene
The very pulse of the machine;
A being breathing thoughtful breath,
A traveller betwixt life and death ;
The reason firm, the temperate will,
Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill,
A perfect woman, nobly planned,
To warn, to comfort, and armmand;
And yet a spirit still, and bright
With something of an angel light.




(Scene from Christabel.)

THE lovely lady, Christabel,
Whom her father loves so well,
What makes her in the wood so late,
A furlong from the castle gate ?
She had dreams all yesternight
Of her own betrothed knight;
And she in the midnight wood will pray
For the weal of her lover that's far away.

She stole along, she nothing spoke,
The sighs she heaved were soft and low,
And nought was green upon the oak
But moss and rarest misletoe :
She kneels beneath the huge oak-tree,
And in silence prayeth she.

The lady sprang up suddenly,
The lovely lady, Christabel !
It moaned as near, as near can be,
But what it is, she cannot tell.-
On the other side it seems to be,
Of the huge, broad-breasted, old oak-tree.

The night is chill; the forest bare;
Is it the wind that moaneth bleak ?
There is not wind enough in the air
To move away the ringlet curl
From the lovely lady's cheek ;
There is not wind enough to twirl
The one red leaf, the last of its clan,
That dances as often as dance it can,
Hanging so light, and hanging so high,
On the topmost twig that looks up at the sky.

Hush, beating heart of Christabel !
Jesu Maria shield her well !
She folded her arms beneath her cloak,
And stole to the other side of the oak.

What sees she there?
There she sees a damsel bright,
Dressed in a silken robe of white,
That shadowy in the moonlight shone:
The neck that made that white robe
Her stately neck and arms were bare;
Her blue-veined feet unsandalled were ;
And wildly glittered here and there
The gems entangled in her hair.

guess 't was frightful there to see A lady so richly clad as she – Beautiful exceedingly!


29 *


Oh! it is pleasant, with a heart at ease,

Just after sunset, or by moonlight skies,
To make the shifting clouds be what you please,

Or let the easily persuaded eyes
Own each quaint likeness issuing from the mould

Of a friend's fancy; or, with head bent low
And cheek aslant, see rivers flow of gold

'Twixt crimson banks: and then, a traveller, go From mount to mount through Cloudland, gorgeous land !

Or, listening to the tide with closed sight,
Be that blind bard who, on the Chian strand,
By those deep sounds possessed, with inward light

Beheld the Iliad and the Odyssey
Rise to the swelling of the voiceful sea.




Fan other light than that of day there shone
Upon the travellers, entering Padalon.
They, too, in darkness entering on their way,

But far before the car
A glow, as of a fiery furnace light,
Filled all before them. 'Twas a light that made

Darkness itself appear
A thing of comfort; and the sight, dismayed,
Shrank inward from the molten atmosphere.
Their way was through the adamantine rock
Which girt the world of woe: on either side
Its massive walls arose, and overhead
Arched the long passage; onward as they ride;
With stronger glare the light around them spread

And, lo! the regions dread —
The world of woe before them opening wide,

There rolls the fiery flood,
Girding the realms of Padalon around,

A sea of flame, it seemed to be

Sea without bound;

For neither mortal nor immortal sight Could pierce across through that intensest light.

« PreviousContinue »