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To harm the thing that trusts him, and to shame
That which he says he loves: for Cyril, howe'er
He deal in frolic, as to-night — the song
Might have been worse and sinn'd in grosser lips
Beyond all pardon — as it is, I hold
These flashes on the surface are not he.
He has a solid base of temperament:
But as the waterlily starts and slides
Upon the level in little puffs of wind,
Tho' anchor'd to the bottom, such is he.”
Scarce had I ceas'd, when from a tamarisk near Two Proctors leapt upon us, crying, ‘Names.’ He, standing still, was clutch'd; but I began To thrid thro' all the musky mazes, wind And double in and out the boles, and race By all the fountains: fleet I was of foot: Before me shower'd the rose in flakes; behind I heard the puff'd pursuer; at mine ear
Bubbled the nightingale and heeded not,
And secret laughter tickled all my soul.
At last I took my ankle in a vine,
That claspt the feet of a Mnemosyne,
And falling on my face was caught and known.
They haled us to the Princess, where she sat High in the hall: above her droop'd a lamp, And made the single jewel on her brow Burn like the mystic fire on a mast-head, Prophet of storm : a handmaid on each side Bow'd toward her, combing out her long black hair Damp from the river; and close behind her stood Eight daughters of the plough, stronger than men, Huge women blowzed with health, and wind, and rain, And labour. Each was like a Druid rock; Or like a spire of land that stands apart
Cleft from the main, and clang'd about with mews.
Then, as we came, the crowd dividing clove
An advent to the throne; and therebeside,
Half-naked as if caught at once from bed,
And tumbled on the purple footcloth, lay
The lily-shining child; and on the left,
Bow'd on her palms and folded up from wrong,
Her round white shoulder shaken with her sobs,
Melissa knelt; but Lady Blanche, erect,
Stood up and spake, an affluent orator :
“It was not thus, O Princess, in the old days: You prized my counsel, lived upon my lips: I led you then to all the Castalies; I fed you with the milk of every Muse; I loved you like this kneeler, and you me, Your second mother : those were gracious times. Then came your new friend: you began to change— I saw it and grieved — to slacken and to cool ; Till taken with her seeming openness You turn’d your warmer currents all to her, You froze to me: this was my meed for all.
Yet I bore up in part from ancient love,
And partly that I hoped to win you back,
And partly conscious of my own deserts,
And partly that you were my civil head,
And chiefly you were born for something great
In which I might your fellow-worker be,
When time should serve; and thus a noble scheme
Grew up from seed we two long since had sown;
In us true growth, in her a Jonah's gourd,
Up in one night and due to sudden sun :
We took this palace; but even from the first
You stood in your own light and darken'd mine.
What student came but that you planed her path
To Lady Psyche, younger, not so wie,
A foreigner, and I your countrywoman,
I your old friend and tried, she new in all !
But still her lists were swell'd and mine were lean ;
Yet I bore up in hope she would be known:
Then came these wolves: they knew her: they endured,
Long-closeted with her the yestermorn,
To tell her what they were, and she to hear :
And me none told : not less to an eye like mine,
A lidless watcher of the public weal, ,
Last night, their mask was patent, and my foot
Was to you: but I thought again: I fear'd
To meet a cold ‘We thank you, we shall hear of it
From Lady Psyche:’ you had gone to her,
She told, perforce; and winning easy grace,
No doubt, for slight delay, remain’d among us
In our young nursery still unknown, the stem
Less grain than touchwood, while my honest heat
Were all miscounted as malignant haste
To push my rival out of place and power.
But public use required she should be known;
And since my oath was ta'en for public use,
I broke the letter of it to keep the sense.
I spoke not then at first, but watch'd them well,
Saw that they kept apart, no mischief done;
And yet this day (tho' you should hate me for it)
I judged it best to speak; but you had gone,
Ridden to the hills, she likewise: now, I thought,