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While hurried Lamia trembled : “Ah,” said he,
While yet he spake they had arrived before A pillar'd porch, with lofty portal door, Where hung a silver lamp, whose phosphor glow Reflected in the slabbed steps below, Mild as a star in water; for so new, And so unsullied was the marble hue, So through the crystal polish, liquid fine, Ran the dark veins, that none but feet divine Could e'er have touch'd there. Sounds AFolian Breathed from the hinges, as the ample span Of the wide doors disclosed a place unknown Some time to any, but those two alone, And a few Persian mutes, who that same year
Were seen about the markets: none knew where
They could inhabit; the most curious
Were foil'd, who watch'd to trace them to their house :
And but the flitter-winged verse must tell, For truth's sake, what woe afterwards befell,
"Twould humor many a heart to leave them thus,
Shut from the busy world of more incredulous.
Love in a hut, with water and a crust,
To breed distrust and hate, that make the soft voice
hiss. Besides, there, nightly, with terrific glare, Love, jealous grown of so complete a pair, Hover'd and buzz'd his wings, with fearful roar, Above the lintel of their chamber-door,
And down the passage cast a glow upon the floor.
For all this came a ruin: side by side They were enthroned, in the eventide, Upon a couch, near to a curtaining Whose airy texture, from a golden string, Floated into the room, and let appear Unveil'd the summer heaven, blue and clear,
Betwixt two marble shafts —there they reposed, Where use had made it sweet, with eyelids closed,
Saving a tythe which love still open kept,
That they might see each other while they almost
slept; When from the slope side of a suburb hill, Deafening the swallow's twitter, came a thrill Of trumpets–Lycius started—the sounds fled, But left a thought, a buzzing in his head.
For the first time, since first he harbor'd in
Sepulchred, where no kindled incense burns,
Seeing all their luckless race are dead, save me,
It was the custom then to bring away The bride from home at blushing shut of day, Weil'd, in a chariot, heralded along By strewn flowers, torches, and a marriage song, With other pageants; but this fair unknown Had not a friend. So being left alone (Lycius was gone to summon all his kin), And knowing surely she could never win His foolish heart from its mad pompousness, She set herself, high-thoughted, how to dress The misery in fit magnificence. She did so, but 'tis doubtful how and whence Came, and who were her subtle servitors. About the halls, and to and from the doors, There was a noise of wings, till in short space The glowing banquet-room shone with wide-arched grace. A haunting music, sole perhaps and lone Supportress of the fairy-roof, made moan Throughout, as fearful the whole charm might fade. Fresh carved cedar, mimicking a glade Of palm and plantain, met from either side, High in the midst, in honor of the bride: Two palms and then two plantains, and so on, From either side their stems branch'd one to one All down the aisled palace; and beneath all There ran a stream of lamps straight on from wall to wall. So canopied, lay an untasted feast Teeming with odors. Lamia, regal drest, Silently paced about, and as she went, In pale contented sort of discontent, Mission'd her viewless servants to enrich The fretted splendor of each nook and niche. Between the tree-stems, marbled plain at first, Came jasper panels; then, anon, there burst Forth creeping imagery of slighter trees, And with the larger wove in small intricacies. Approving all, she faded at self-will, And shut the chamber up, close, hush'd and still, Complete and ready for the revels rude, When dreaded guests would come to spoil her solitude.
The day appear'd, and all the gossip rout. O senseless Lycius' Madman' wherefore flout The silent-blessing fate, warm cloister'd hours, And show to common eyes these secret bowers ? The herd approach'd; each guest, with busy brain, Arriving at the portal, gazed amain, And enter'd marvelling : for they knew the street, Remember'd it from childhood all complete Without a gap, yet ne'er before had seen That royal porch, that high-built fair demesne; So in they hurried all, mazed, curious and keen: Save one, who look'd thereon with eye severe, And with calm-planted steps walk'd in austere;
"Twas Apollonius: something too he laugh’d. As though some knotty problem, that had dafi His patient thought, had now begun to thaw, And solve and melt: 't was just as he foresaw
He met within the murmurous vestibule His young disciple. “Tis no common rule. Lycius,” said he, “for uninvited guest To force himself upon you, and infest With an unbidden presence the bright throng Of younger friends; yet must I do this wrong, And you forgive me." Lycius blush'd, and led The old man through the inner doors broad spread: With reconciling words and courteous mien Turning into sweet milk the sophist's spleen.
Of wealthy lustre was the banquet-room. Fill'd with pervading brilliance and perfume: Before each lucid panel fuming stood A censer fed with myrrh and spiced wood, Each by a sacred tripod held aloft, Whose slender feet wide-swerved upon the soft Wool-woofed carpets: fifty wreaths of smoke From fifty censers their light voyage took To the high roof, still mimick'd as they rose Along the mirror'd walls by twin-clouds odorous Twelve sphered tables, by silk seats insphered, High as the level of a man's breast rear'd On libbard's paws, upheld the heavy gold Of cups and goblets, and the store thrice told Of Ceres' horn, and, in huge vessels, wine Came from the gloomy tun with merry shine Thus loaded with a feast, the tables stood. Each shrining in the midst the image of a God.
When in an antechamber every guest Had felt the cold full sponge to pleasure press'd By ministring slaves, upon his hands and feet. And fragrant oils with ceremony meet Pour'd on his hair, they all moved to the feast In white robes, and themselves in order placed Around the silken couches, wondering Whence all this mighty cost and blaze of wealth
Soft went the music that soft air along. While fluent Greek a vowell'd under-song Kept up among the guests discoursing low At first, for scarcely was the wine at flow; But when the happy vintage touch'd their brains. Louder they talk, and louder come the strains Of powerful instruments:—the gorgeous dyes, The space, the splendor of the draperies, The roof of awful richness, nectarous cheer, Beautiful slaves, and Lamia's self, appear, Now, when the wine has done its rosy deed, And every soul from human trammels freed, No more so strange : for merry wine. sweet wine. Will make Elysian shades not too fair, too divine. Soon was God Bacchus at meridian height; Flush'd were their cheeks, and bright eyes double
bright: Garlands of every green, and every scent From vales deflower'd, or forest trees, branch-tent. In baskets of bright osier'd gold were brought High as the handles heap'd, to suit the thought
Of every guest; that each, as he did please, Might fancy-fit his brows, silk-pillow'd at his ease.
What wreath for Lamia? What for Lycius What for the sage, old Apollonius' Upon her aching forehead be there hung The leaves of willow and of adder's tongue; And for the youth, quick, let us strip for him The thyrsus, that his watching eyes may swim Into forgetfulness; and, for the sage, Let spear-grass and the spiteful thistle wage War on his temples. Do not all charms fly At the mere touch of cold philosophy? There was an awful rainbow once in heaven: We know her woof, her texture; she is given In the dull catalogue of common things. Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings, Conquer all mysteries by rule and line, Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine— Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made The tender-person'd Lamia melt into a shade.
By her glad Lycius sitting, in chief place, Scarce saw in all the room another face, Till, checking his love trance, a cup he took Full-brimm'd, and opposite sent forth a look 'Cross the broad table, to beseech a glance From his old teacher's wrinkled countenance, And pledge him. The bald-head philosopher Had fix'd his eye, without a twinkle or stir Full on the alarmed beauty of the bride, Browbeating her fair form, and troubling her sweet
Lycius then press'd her hand, with devout touch,
Wander'd on fair-spaced temples; no soft bloom Misted the cheek; no passion to illume The deep-recessed vision —all was blight; Lamia, no longer fair, there sat a deadly white. “Shut, shut those juggling eyes, thou ruthless man! Turn them aside, wretch! or the righteous ban Of all the Gods, whose dreadful images Here represent their shadowy presences, May pierce them on the sudden with the thorn Of painful blindness; leaving thee forlorn, In trembling dotage to the feeblest fright Of conscience, for their long-offended might, For all thine impious proud-heart sophistries, Unlawful magic, and enticing lies. Corinthians' look upon that gray-beard wretch! Mark how, possess'd, his lashless eyelids stretch Around his demon eyes! Corinthians, see! My sweet bride withers at their potency." “Fool'” said the sophist, in an under-tone Gruff with contempt; which a death-nighing moan From Lycius answer'd, as heart-struck and lost, He sank supine beside the aching ghost. “Fool! Fool" repeated he, while his eyes still Relented not, nor moved; “from every ill Of life have I preserved thee to this day, And shall I see thee made a serpent's prey?" Then Lamia breathed death-breath; the sophist's eye, Like a sharp spear, went through her utterly, Keen, cruel, perceant, stinging: she, as well As her weak hand could any meaning tell, Motion'd him to be silent; vainly so, He look'd and look'd again a level—No! “A Serpent" echoed he ; no sooner said, Than with a frightful scream she vanished : And Lycius' arms were empty of delight, As were his limbs of life, from that same night. On the high couch he lay!—his friends came round– Supported him—no pulse, or breath they found, And, in its marriage robe, the heavy body wound.”
* “Philostratus, in his fourth book de Pita Apollonii, hath a memorable instance in this kind, which I may not omit, of one Menippus Lycius, a young man twenty-five years of age. that going betwixt Cenchreas and Corinth, met such a phantasin in the habit of a fair gentlewoman, which taking him by the land, carried him home to her house, in the suburbs of Corinth, and told him she was a Phoenician by birth, and if he would tarry with her, he should hear her sing and play, and drink such wine as never any drank, and no man should inolest him; but she, being fair and lovely, would die with him, that was fair and lovely to behold. The young man, a philosopher, otherwise staid and discreet, able to moderate his passions, though not this of love, tarried with her a while to his great content, and at last married her, to whose wedding, amongst other guests, came Apollonius; who, by some probable conjectures, found her out to be a serpent, a lamia; and that all her furniture was, like Tantalus' gold, described by Homer, no substance but mere illusions. When she saw herself descried, she wept, and desired Apollonius to be silent, but he would not be moved, and thereupon she, plate, house, and all that was in it, vanished in an instant: many thousands took notice of this fact, for it was done in the inidst of Greece.”—BURTox's Jonatomy of Melancholy, Part 3, Sect. 2, Memb. I, Subs. I.