« PoprzedniaDalej »
XLIX. "My name is Pestilence. This bosom dry
Once fed two babes a sister and a brother.
Of three death-wounds--the flames had ate the other !
I flit about, that I may slay and smother ;
“What seek'st thou here? the moonlight comes in flashes,
The dew is rising dankly from the dell; 'Twill moisten her! and thou shalt see the gashes
In my sweet boy-now full of worms——But tell First what thou seek'st.”—“I seek for food.”—“'Tis well, Thou shalt have food; Famine, my paramour,
Waits for us at the feast-cruel and fell Is Famine, but he drives not from his door Those whom these lips have kissed, alone. No more, no more !"
As thus she spake, she grasped me with the strength
Of madness, and by many a ruined hearth She led, and over many a corpse. At length
We came to a lone hut, where, on the earth
Which made its floor, she in her ghastly mirth,
Had piled three heaps of loaves, making a dearth
Her mad looks to the lightning, and cried : “Eat !
Towards her bloodless guests. That sight to meet,
Who loved me did with absent looks defeat
. LIII. And, vainly having with her madness striven
If I might win her to return with me,
The lightning now grew pallid-rapidly
Soon echoed to his hoofs, and I could see
Famished, and wet, and weary; so I cast
As to our home we went, and, thus embraced, Her full heart seemed a deeper joy to taste Than e'er the prosperous know. The steed behind
Trod peacefully along the mountain waste. We reached our home ere morning could unbind Night's latest veil, and on our bridal couch reclined.
Her chilled heart having cherished in my bosom,
And sweetest kisses passed, we two did share Our peaceful meal. As an autumnal blossom
Which spreads its shrunk leaves in the sunny air
After cold showers, like rainbows woven there, Thus in her lips and cheeks the vital spirit
Mantled, and in her eyes an atmosphere Of health and hope ; and sorrow languished near it, And fear, and all that dark despondence doth inherit.
So we sate joyous as the morning ray
Which fed upon the wrecks of night and storm Now lingering on the winds ; light airs did play
Among the dewy weeds, the sun was warm,
And we sate linked in the inwoven charm Of converse and caresses sweet and deep,
Speechless caresses, talk that might disarm
Time, though he wield the darts of death and sleep, And those thrice mortal barbs in his own poison steep.
11. I told her of my sufferings and my madness;
And how, awakened from that dreamy mood By liberty's uprise, the strength of gladness
Came to my spirit in my solitude;
And all that now I was; while tears pursued Each other down her fair and listening cheek
Fast as the thoughts which fed them, like a flood From sunbright dales ;-and, when I ceased to speak, Her accents soft and sweet the pausing air did wake.
Like broken memories of many a heart
She said that not a tear did dare to start
When from all mortal hope she did depart, Borne by those slaves across the ocean's term; And that she reached the port without one fear infirm.
One was she among many there, the thralls
Of the cold tyrant's cruel lust : and they
But she was calm and sad, musing alway
A wild and sad and spirit-thrilling lay,
v. Even when he saw her wondrous loveliness,
One moment to great Nature's sacred power He bent, and was no longer passionless
But, when he bade her to his secret bower
Be borne a loveless victim, and she tore
And mightier looks availed not; then he bore
She told me what a loathsome agony
Is that when selfishness mocks love's delight, Foul as in dream's most fearful imagery
To dally with the mowing dead. That night
All torture, fear, or horror, made seem light
Shone on her awful frenzy, from the sight,
Which dawned through the rent soul; and words it gave, Gestures, and looks, such as in whirlwinds bore,
Which might not be withstood, whence none could save
All who approached their sphere, like some calm wave Vexed into whirlpools by the chasms beneath.
And sympathy made each attendant slave
At night two slaves he to her chamber sent.
From human shape into an instrument
Of all things ill—distorted, bowed, and bent :-
Made dumb by poison, who nought knew or meant
They bore her to a bark, and the swift stroke
Of silent rowers clove the blue moonlight seas, Until upon their path the morning broke.
They anchored then where, be there calm or breeze,
The gloomiest of the drear Symplegades
Wound his long arms around her, and with knees
Of morning light into some shadowy wood,
Through many a cavern which the eternal flood
And among mightier shadows which pursued
“A stunning clang of massive bolts redoubling
Beneath the deep—a burst of waters driven
Through which there shone the emerald beams of heaven, Shot through the lines of many waves inwoven
Like sunlight through acacia woods at even, Through which his way the diver having cloven Passed like a spark sent up out of a burning oven.
“And then,” she said, “he laid me in a cave
Above the waters, by that chasm of sea,
Imprisoned, boiled and leaped perpetually,
Down which, one moment resting, he did flee, Winning the adverse depth; that spacious cell
Like an hupaithric temple wide and high, Whose aëry dome is inaccessible,
[fell. Was pierced with one round cleft through which the sunbeams
With the deep's wealth, coral and pearl, and sand .
Left there when, thronging to the moon's command,
Of mountains; and on such bright floor did stand