[Of the Translations that follow a few were published by Shelley himself, others by Mrs. Shelley in the “Posthumous Poems”, 1824, or the “Poetical Works”, 1839, and the remainder by Medwin (1834, 1847), Garnett (1862), Rossetti (1870), Forman (1876) and Locock (1903) from the manuscript originals. Shelley’s “Translations” fall between the years 1818 and 1822.]
Sing, Muse, the son of Maia and of Jove,
The Herald-child, king of Arcadia
And all its pastoral hills, whom in sweet love
Having been interwoven, modest May
Bore Heaven’s dread Supreme. An antique grove
Shadowed the cavern where the lovers lay
In the deep night, unseen by Gods or Men,
And white-armed Juno slumbered sweetly then.
Now, when the joy of Jove had its fulfilling,
And Heaven’s tenth moon chronicled her relief,
She gave to light a babe all babes excelling,
A schemer subtle beyond all belief;
A shepherd of thin dreams, a cow-stealing,
A night-watching, and door-waylaying thief,
Who ‘mongst the Gods was soon about to thieve,
And other glorious actions to achieve.
The babe was born at the first peep of day;
He began playing on the lyre at noon,
And the same evening did he steal away
Apollo’s herds; — the fourth day of the moon
On which him bore the venerable May,
From her immortal limbs he leaped full soon,
Nor long could in the sacred cradle keep,
But out to seek Apollo’s herds would creep.
Out of the lofty cavern wandering
He found a tortoise, and cried out —‘A treasure!’
(For Mercury first made the tortoise sing)
The beast before the portal at his leisure
The flowery herbage was depasturing,
Moving his feet in a deliberate measure
Over the turf. Jove’s profitable son
Eying him laughed, and laughing thus begun:—
‘A useful godsend are you to me now,
King of the dance, companion of the feast,
Lovely in all your nature! Welcome, you
Excellent plaything! Where, sweet mountain-beast,
Got you that speckled shell? Thus much I know,
You must come home with me and be my guest;
You will give joy to me, and I will do
All that is in my power to honour you.
‘Better to be at home than out of door,
So come with me; and though it has been said
That you alive defend from magic power,
I know you will sing sweetly when you’re dead.’
Thus having spoken, the quaint infant bore,
Lifting it from the grass on which it fed
And grasping it in his delighted hold,
His treasured prize into the cavern old.
Then scooping with a chisel of gray steel,
He bored the life and soul out of the beast. —
Not swifter a swift thought of woe or weal
Darts through the tumult of a human breast
Which thronging cares annoy — not swifter wheel
The flashes of its torture and unrest
Out of the dizzy eyes — than Maia’s son
All that he did devise hath featly done.
. . .
And through the tortoise’s hard stony skin
At proper distances small holes he made,
And fastened the cut stems of reeds within,
And with a piece of leather overlaid
The open space and fixed the cubits in,
Fitting the bridge to both, and stretched o’er all
Symphonious cords of sheep-gut rhythmical.
When he had wrought the lovely instrument,
He tried the chords, and made division meet,
Preluding with the plectrum, and there went
Up from beneath his hand a tumult sweet
Of mighty sounds, and from his lips he sent
A strain of unpremeditated wit
Joyous and wild and wanton — such you may
Hear among revellers on a holiday.
He sung how Jove and May of the bright sandal
Dallied in love not quite legitimate;
And his own birth, still scoffing at the scandal,
And naming his own name, did celebrate;
His mother’s cave and servant maids he planned all
In plastic verse, her household stuff and state,
Perennial pot, trippet, and brazen pan —
But singing, he conceived another plan.
. . .
Seized with a sudden fancy for fresh meat,
He in his sacred crib deposited
The hollow lyre, and from the cavern sweet
Rushed with great leaps up to the mountain’s head,
Revolving in his mind some subtle feat
Of thievish craft, such as a swindler might
Devise in the lone season of dun night.
Lo! the great Sun under the ocean’s bed has
Driven steeds and chariot — the child meanwhile strode
O’er the Pierian mountains clothed in shadows,
Where the immortal oxen of the God
Are pastured in the flowering unmown meadows,
And safely stalled in a remote abode. —
The archer Argicide, elate and proud,
Drove fifty from the herd, lowing aloud.
He drove them wandering o’er the sandy way,
But, being ever mindful of his craft,
Backward and forward drove he them astray,
So that the tracks which seemed before, were aft;
His sandals then he threw to the ocean spray,
And for each foot he wrought a kind of raft
Of tamarisk, and tamarisk-like sprigs,
And bound them in a lump with withy twigs.
And on his feet he tied these sandals light,
The trail of whose wide leaves might not betray
His track; and then, a self-sufficing wight,
Like a man hastening on some distant way,
He from Pieria’s mountain bent his flight;
But an old man perceived the infant pass
Down green Onchestus heaped like beds with grass.
The old man stood dressing his sunny vine:
‘Halloo! old fellow with the crooked shoulder!
You grub those stumps? before they will bear wine
Methinks even you must grow a little older:
Attend, I pray, to this advice of mine,
As you would ‘scape what might appal a bolder —
Seeing, see not — and hearing, hear not — and —
If you have understanding — understand.’
So saying, Hermes roused the oxen vast;
O’er shadowy mountain and resounding dell,
And flower-paven plains, great Hermes passed;
Till the black night divine, which favouring fell
Around his steps, grew gray, and morning fast
Wakened the world to work, and from her cell
Sea-strewn, the Pallantean Moon sublime
Into her watch-tower just began to climb.
Now to Alpheus he had driven all
The broad-foreheaded oxen of the Sun;
They came unwearied to the lofty stall
And to the water-troughs which ever run
Through the fresh fields — and when with rushgrass tall,
Lotus and all sweet herbage, every one
Had pastured been, the great God made them move
Towards the stall in a collected drove.
A mighty pile of wood the God then heaped,
And having soon conceived the mystery
Of fire, from two smooth laurel branches stripped
The bark, and rubbed them in his palms; — on high
Suddenly forth the burning vapour leaped
And the divine child saw delightedly. —
Mercury first found out for human weal
Tinder-box, matches, fire-irons, flint and steel.
And fine dry logs and roots innumerous
He gathered in a delve upon the ground —
And kindled them — and instantaneous
The strength of the fierce flame was breathed around:
And whilst the might of glorious Vulcan thus
Wrapped the great pile with glare and roaring sound,
Hermes dragged forth two heifers, lowing loud,
Close to the fire — such might was in the God.
And on the earth upon their backs he threw
The panting beasts, and rolled them o’er and o’er,
And bored their lives out. Without more ado
He cut up fat and flesh, and down before
The fire, on spits of wood he placed the two,
Toasting their flesh and ribs, and all the gore
Pursed in the bowels; and while this was done
He stretched their hides over a craggy stone.
We mortals let an ox grow old, and then
Cut it up after long consideration —
But joyous-minded Hermes from the glen
Drew the fat spoils to the more open station
Of a flat smooth space, and portioned them; and when
He had by lot assigned to each a ration
Of the twelve Gods, his mind became aware
Of all the joys which in religion are.
For the sweet savour of the roasted meat
Tempted him though immortal. Natheless
He checked his haughty will and did not eat,
Though what it cost him words can scarce express,
And every wish to put such morsels sweet
Down his most sacred throat, he did repress;
But soon within the lofty portalled stall
He placed the fat and flesh and bones and all.
And every trace of the fresh butchery
And cooking, the God soon made disappear,
As if it all had vanished through the sky;
He burned the hoofs and horns and head and hair —
The insatiate fire devoured them hungrily; —
And when he saw that everything was clear,
He quenched the coal, and trampled the black dust,
And in the stream his bloody sandals tossed.
All night he worked in the serene moonshine —
But when the light of day was spread abroad
He sought his natal mountain-peaks divine.
On his long wandering, neither Man nor God
Had met him, since he killed Apollo’s kine,
Nor house-dog had barked at him on his road;
Now he obliquely through the keyhole passed,
Like a thin mist, or an autumnal blast.
Right through the temple of the spacious cave
He went with soft light feet — as if his tread
Fell not on earth; no sound their falling gave;
Then to his cradle he crept quick, and spread
The swaddling-clothes about him; and the knave
Lay playing with the covering of the bed
With his left hand about his knees — the right
Held his beloved tortoise-lyre tight.
There he lay innocent as a new-born child,
As gossips say; but though he was a God,
The Goddess, his fair mother, unbeguiled,
Knew all that he had done being abroad:
‘Whence come you, and from what adventure wild,
You cunning rogue, and where have you abode
All the long night, clothed in your impudence?
What have you done since you departed hence?
‘Apollo soon will pass within this gate
And bind your tender body in a chain
Inextricably tight, and fast as fate,
Unless you can delude the God again,
Even when within his arms — ah, runagate!
A pretty torment both for Gods and Men
Your father made when he made you!’—‘Dear mother,’
Replied sly Hermes, ‘wherefore scold and bother?
‘As if I were like other babes as old,
And understood nothing of what is what;
And cared at all to hear my mother scold.
I in my subtle brain a scheme have got,
Which whilst the sacred stars round Heaven are rolled
Will profit you and me — nor shall our lot
Be as you counsel, without gifts or food,
To spend our lives in this obscure abode.
‘But we will leave this shadow-peopled cave
And live among the Gods, and pass each day
In high communion, sharing what they have
Of profuse wealth and unexhausted prey;
And from the portion which my father gave
To Phoebus, I will snatch my share away,
Which if my father will not — natheless I,
Who am the king of robbers, can but try.
‘And, if Latona’s son should find me out,
I’ll countermine him by a deeper plan;
I’ll pierce the Pythian temple-walls, though stout,
And sack the fane of everything I can —
Caldrons and tripods of great worth no doubt,
Each golden cup and polished brazen pan,
All the wrought tapestries and garments gay.’—
So they together talked; — meanwhile the Day
Aethereal born arose out of the flood
Of flowing Ocean, bearing light to men.
Apollo passed toward the sacred wood,
Which from the inmost depths of its green glen
Echoes the voice of Neptune — and there stood
On the same spot in green Onchestus then
That same old animal, the vine-dresser,
Who was employed hedging his vineyard there.
Latona’s glorious Son began:—‘I pray
Tell, ancient hedger of Onchestus green,
Whether a drove of kine has passed this way,
All heifers with crooked horns? for they have been
Stolen from the herd in high Pieria,
Where a black bull was fed apart, between
Two woody mountains in a neighbouring glen,
And four fierce dogs watched there, unanimous as men.
‘And what is strange, the author of this theft
Has stolen the fatted heifers every one,
But the four dogs and the black bull are left:—
Stolen they were last night at set of sun,
Of their soft beds and their sweet food bereft. —
Now tell me, man born ere the world begun,
Have you seen any one pass with the cows?’—
To whom the man of overhanging brows:
‘My friend, it would require no common skill
Justly to speak of everything I see:
On various purposes of good or ill
Many pass by my vineyard — and to me
’Tis difficult to know the invisible
Thoughts, which in all those many minds may be:—
Thus much alone I certainly can say,
I tilled these vines till the decline of day,
‘And then I thought I saw, but dare not speak
With certainty of such a wondrous thing,
A child, who could not have been born a week,
Those fair-horned cattle closely following,
And in his hand he held a polished stick:
And, as on purpose, he walked wavering
From one side to the other of the road,
And with his face opposed the steps he trod.’
Apollo hearing this, passed quickly on —
No winged omen could have shown more clear
That the deceiver was his father’s son.
So the God wraps a purple atmosphere
Around his shoulders, and like fire is gone
To famous Pylos, seeking his kine there,
And found their track and his, yet hardly cold,
And cried —‘What wonder do mine eyes behold!
‘Here are the footsteps of the horned herd
Turned back towards their fields of asphodel; —
But THESE are not the tracks of beast or bird,
Gray wolf, or bear, or lion of the dell,
Or maned Centaur — sand was never stirred
By man or woman thus! Inexplicable!
Who with unwearied feet could e’er impress
The sand with such enormous vestiges?
‘That was most strange — but this is stranger still!’
Thus having said, Phoebus impetuously
Sought high Cyllene’s forest-cinctured hill,
And the deep cavern where dark shadows lie,
And where the ambrosial nymph with happy will
Bore the Saturnian’s love-child, Mercury —
And a delightful odour from the dew
Of the hill pastures, at his coming, flew.
And Phoebus stooped under the craggy roof
Arched over the dark cavern:— Maia’s child
Perceived that he came angry, far aloof,
About the cows of which he had been beguiled;
And over him the fine and fragrant woof
Of his ambrosial swaddling-clothes he piled —
As among fire-brands lies a burning spark
Covered, beneath the ashes cold and dark.
There, like an infant who had sucked his fill
And now was newly washed and put to bed,
Awake, but courting sleep with weary will,
And gathered in a lump, hands, feet, and head,
He lay, and his beloved tortoise still
He grasped and held under his shoulder-blade.
Phoebus the lovely mountain-goddess knew,
Not less her subtle, swindling baby, who
Lay swathed in his sly wiles. Round every crook
Of the ample cavern, for his kine, Apollo
Looked sharp; and when he saw them not, he took
The glittering key, and opened three great hollow
Recesses in the rock — where many a nook
Was filled with the sweet food immortals swallow,
And mighty heaps of silver and of gold
Were piled within — a wonder to behold!
And white and silver robes, all overwrought
With cunning workmanship of tracery sweet —
Except among the Gods there can be nought
In the wide world to be compared with it.
Latona’s offspring, after having sought
His herds in every corner, thus did greet
Great Hermes:—‘Little cradled rogue, declare
Of my illustrious heifers, where they are!
‘Speak quickly! or a quarrel between us
Must rise, and the event will be, that I
Shall hurl you into dismal Tartarus,
In fiery gloom to dwell eternally;
Nor shall your father nor your mother loose
The bars of that black dungeon — utterly
You shall be cast out from the light of day,
To rule the ghosts of men, unblessed as they.
To whom thus Hermes slily answered:—‘Son
Of great Latona, what a speech is this!
Why come you here to ask me what is done
With the wild oxen which it seems you miss?
I have not seen them, nor from any one
Have heard a word of the whole business;
If you should promise an immense reward,
I could not tell more than you now have heard.
‘An ox-stealer should be both tall and strong,
And I am but a little new-born thing,
Who, yet at least, can think of nothing wrong:—
My business is to suck, and sleep, and fling
The cradle-clothes about me all day long —
Or half asleep, hear my sweet mother sing,
And to be washed in water clean and warm,
And hushed and kissed and kept secure from harm.
‘O, let not e’er this quarrel be averred!
The astounded Gods would laugh at you, if e’er
You should allege a story so absurd
As that a new-born infant forth could fare
Out of his home after a savage herd.
I was born yesterday — my small feet are
Too tender for the roads so hard and rough:—
And if you think that this is not enough,
I swear a great oath, by my father’s head,
That I stole not your cows, and that I know
Of no one else, who might, or could, or did. —
Whatever things cows are, I do not know,
For I have only heard the name.’— This said
He winked as fast as could be, and his brow
Was wrinkled, and a whistle loud gave he,
Like one who hears some strange absurdity.
Apollo gently smiled and said:—‘Ay, ay —
You cunning little rascal, you will bore
Many a rich man’s house, and your array
Of thieves will lay their siege before his door,
Silent as night, in night; and many a day
In the wild glens rough shepherds will deplore
That you or yours, having an appetite,
Met with their cattle, comrade of the night!
‘And this among the Gods shall be your gift,
To be considered as the lord of those
Who swindle, house-break, sheep-steal, and shop-lift; —
But now if you would not your last sleep doze;
Crawl out!’— Thus saying, Phoebus did uplift
The subtle infant in his swaddling clothes,
And in his arms, according to his wont,
A scheme devised the illustrious Argiphont.
. . .
. . .
And sneezed and shuddered — Phoebus on the grass
Him threw, and whilst all that he had designed
He did perform — eager although to pass,
Apollo darted from his mighty mind
Towards the subtle babe the following scoff:—
‘Do not imagine this will get you off,
‘You little swaddled child of Jove and May!
And seized him:—‘By this omen I shall trace
My noble herds, and you shall lead the way.’—
Cyllenian Hermes from the grassy place,
Like one in earnest haste to get away,
Rose, and with hands lifted towards his face
Round both his ears up from his shoulders drew
His swaddling clothes, and —‘What mean you to do
‘With me, you unkind God?’— said Mercury:
‘Is it about these cows you tease me so?
I wish the race of cows were perished! — I
Stole not your cows — I do not even know
What things cows are. Alas! I well may sigh
That since I came into this world of woe,
I should have ever heard the name of one —
But I appeal to the Saturnian’s throne.’
Thus Phoebus and the vagrant Mercury
Talked without coming to an explanation,
With adverse purpose. As for Phoebus, he
Sought not revenge, but only information,
And Hermes tried with lies and roguery
To cheat Apollo. — But when no evasion
Served — for the cunning one his match had found —
He paced on first over the sandy ground.
. . .
He of the Silver Bow the child of Jove
Followed behind, till to their heavenly Sire
Came both his children, beautiful as Love,
And from his equal balance did require
A judgement in the cause wherein they strove.
O’er odorous Olympus and its snows
A murmuring tumult as they came arose —
And from the folded depths of the great Hill,
While Hermes and Apollo reverent stood
Before Jove’s throne, the indestructible
Immortals rushed in mighty multitude;
And whilst their seats in order due they fill,
The lofty Thunderer in a careless mood
To Phoebus said:—‘Whence drive you this sweet prey,
This herald-baby, born but yesterday? —
‘A most important subject, trifler, this
To lay before the Gods!’—‘Nay, Father, nay,
When you have understood the business,
Say not that I alone am fond of prey.
I found this little boy in a recess
Under Cyllene’s mountains far away —
A manifest and most apparent thief,
A scandalmonger beyond all belief.
‘I never saw his like either in Heaven
Or upon earth for knavery or craft:—
Out of the field my cattle yester-even,
By the low shore on which the loud sea laughed,
He right down to the river-ford had driven;
And mere astonishment would make you daft
To see the double kind of footsteps strange
He has impressed wherever he did range.
‘The cattle’s track on the black dust, full well
Is evident, as if they went towards
The place from which they came — that asphodel
Meadow, in which I feed my many herds —
HIS steps were most incomprehensible —
I know not how I can describe in words
Those tracks — he could have gone along the sands
Neither upon his feet nor on his hands; —
‘He must have had some other stranger mode
Of moving on: those vestiges immense,
Far as I traced them on the sandy road,
Seemed like the trail of oak-toppings:— but thence
No mark nor track denoting where they trod
The hard ground gave:— but, working at his fence,
A mortal hedger saw him as he passed
To Pylos, with the cows, in fiery haste.
‘I found that in the dark he quietly
Had sacrificed some cows, and before light
Had thrown the ashes all dispersedly
About the road — then, still as gloomy night,
Had crept into his cradle, either eye
Rubbing, and cogitating some new sleight.
No eagle could have seen him as he lay
Hid in his cavern from the peering day.
‘I taxed him with the fact, when he averred
Most solemnly that he did neither see
Nor even had in any manner heard
Of my lost cows, whatever things cows be;
Nor could he tell, though offered a reward,
Not even who could tell of them to me.’
So speaking, Phoebus sate; and Hermes then
Addressed the Supreme Lord of Gods and Men:—
‘Great Father, you know clearly beforehand
That all which I shall say to you is sooth;
I am a most veracious person, and
Totally unacquainted with untruth.
At sunrise Phoebus came, but with no band
Of Gods to bear him witness, in great wrath,
To my abode, seeking his heifers there,
And saying that I must show him where they are,
‘Or he would hurl me down the dark abyss.
I know that every Apollonian limb
Is clothed with speed and might and manliness,
As a green bank with flowers — but unlike him
I was born yesterday, and you may guess
He well knew this when he indulged the whim
Of bullying a poor little new-born thing
That slept, and never thought of cow-driving.
‘Am I like a strong fellow who steals kine?
Believe me, dearest Father — such you are —
This driving of the herds is none of mine;
Across my threshold did I wander ne’er,
So may I thrive! I reverence the divine
Sun and the Gods, and I love you, and care
Even for this hard accuser — who must know
I am as innocent as they or you.
‘I swear by these most gloriously-wrought portals
(It is, you will allow, an oath of might)
Through which the multitude of the Immortals
Pass and repass forever, day and night,
Devising schemes for the affairs of mortals —
I am guiltless; and I will requite,
Although mine enemy be great and strong,
His cruel threat — do thou defend the young!’
So speaking, the Cyllenian Argiphont
Winked, as if now his adversary was fitted:—
And Jupiter, according to his wont,
Laughed heartily to hear the subtle-witted
Infant give such a plausible account,
And every word a lie. But he remitted
Judgement at present — and his exhortation
Was, to compose the affair by arbitration.
And they by mighty Jupiter were bidden
To go forth with a single purpose both,
Neither the other chiding nor yet chidden:
And Mercury with innocence and truth
To lead the way, and show where he had hidden
The mighty heifers. — Hermes, nothing loth,
Obeyed the Aegis-bearer’s will — for he
Is able to persuade all easily.
These lovely children of Heaven’s highest Lord
Hastened to Pylos and the pastures wide
And lofty stalls by the Alphean ford,
Where wealth in the mute night is multiplied
With silent growth. Whilst Hermes drove the herd
Out of the stony cavern, Phoebus spied
The hides of those the little babe had slain,
Stretched on the precipice above the plain.
‘How was it possible,’ then Phoebus said,
‘That you, a little child, born yesterday,
A thing on mother’s milk and kisses fed,
Could two prodigious heifers ever flay?
Even I myself may well hereafter dread
Your prowess, offspring of Cyllenian May,
When you grow strong and tall.’— He spoke, and bound
Stiff withy bands the infant’s wrists around.
He might as well have bound the oxen wild;
The withy bands, though starkly interknit,
Fell at the feet of the immortal child,
Loosened by some device of his quick wit.
Phoebus perceived himself again beguiled,
And stared — while Hermes sought some hole or pit,
Looking askance and winking fast as thought,
Where he might hide himself and not be caught.
Sudden he changed his plan, and with strange skill
Subdued the strong Latonian, by the might
Of winning music, to his mightier will;
His left hand held the lyre, and in his right
The plectrum struck the chords — unconquerable
Up from beneath his hand in circling flight
The gathering music rose — and sweet as Love
The penetrating notes did live and move
Within the heart of great Apollo — he
Listened with all his soul, and laughed for pleasure.
Close to his side stood harping fearlessly
The unabashed boy; and to the measure
Of the sweet lyre, there followed loud and free
His joyous voice; for he unlocked the treasure
Of his deep song, illustrating the birth
Of the bright Gods, and the dark desert Earth:
And how to the Immortals every one
A portion was assigned of all that is;
But chief Mnemosyne did Maia’s son
Clothe in the light of his loud melodies; —
And, as each God was born or had begun,
He in their order due and fit degrees
Sung of his birth and being — and did move
Apollo to unutterable love.
These words were winged with his swift delight:
‘You heifer-stealing schemer, well do you
Deserve that fifty oxen should requite
Such minstrelsies as I have heard even now.
Comrade of feasts, little contriving wight,
One of your secrets I would gladly know,
Whether the glorious power you now show forth
Was folded up within you at your birth,
‘Or whether mortal taught or God inspired
The power of unpremeditated song?
Many divinest sounds have I admired,
The Olympian Gods and mortal men among;
But such a strain of wondrous, strange, untired,
And soul-awakening music, sweet and strong,
Yet did I never hear except from thee,
Offspring of May, impostor Mercury!
‘What Muse, what skill, what unimagined use,
What exercise of subtlest art, has given
Thy songs such power? — for those who hear may choose
From three, the choicest of the gifts of Heaven,
Delight, and love, and sleep — sweet sleep, whose dews
Are sweeter than the balmy tears of even:—
And I, who speak this praise, am that Apollo
Whom the Olympian Muses ever follow:
‘And their delight is dance, and the blithe noise
Of song and overflowing poesy;
And sweet, even as desire, the liquid voice
Of pipes, that fills the clear air thrillingly;
But never did my inmost soul rejoice
In this dear work of youthful revelry
As now. I wonder at thee, son of Jove;
Thy harpings and thy song are soft as love.
‘Now since thou hast, although so very small,
Science of arts so glorious, thus I swear —
And let this cornel javelin, keen and tall,
Witness between us what I promise here —
That I will lead thee to the Olympian Hall,
Honoured and mighty, with thy mother dear,
And many glorious gifts in joy will give thee,
And even at the end will ne’er deceive thee.’
To whom thus Mercury with prudent speech:—
‘Wisely hast thou inquired of my skill:
I envy thee no thing I know to teach
Even this day:— for both in word and will
I would be gentle with thee; thou canst reach
All things in thy wise spirit, and thy sill
Is highest in Heaven among the sons of Jove,
Who loves thee in the fulness of his love.
‘The Counsellor Supreme has given to thee
Divinest gifts, out of the amplitude
Of his profuse exhaustless treasury;
By thee, ’tis said, the depths are understood
Of his far voice; by thee the mystery
Of all oracular fates — and the dread mood
Of the diviner is breathed up; even I—
A child — perceive thy might and majesty.
‘Thou canst seek out and compass all that wit
Can find or teach; — yet since thou wilt, come take
The lyre — be mine the glory giving it —
Strike the sweet chords, and sing aloud, and wake
Thy joyous pleasure out of many a fit
Of tranced sound — and with fleet fingers make
Thy liquid-voiced comrade talk with thee —
It can talk measured music eloquently.
‘Then bear it boldly to the revel loud,
Love-wakening dance, or feast of solemn state,
A joy by night or day — for those endowed
With art and wisdom who interrogate
It teaches, babbling in delightful mood
All things which make the spirit most elate,
Soothing the mind with sweet familiar play,
Chasing the heavy shadows of dismay.
‘To those who are unskilled in its sweet tongue,
Though they should question most impetuously
Its hidden soul, it gossips something wrong —
Some senseless and impertinent reply.
But thou who art as wise as thou art strong
Canst compass all that thou desirest. I
Present thee with this music-flowing shell,
Knowing thou canst interrogate it well.
‘And let us two henceforth together feed,
On this green mountain-slope and pastoral plain,
The herds in litigation — they will breed
Quickly enough to recompense our pain,
If to the bulls and cows we take good heed; —
And thou, though somewhat over fond of gain,
Grudge me not half the profit.’— Having spoke,
The shell he proffered, and Apollo took;
And gave him in return the glittering lash,
Installing him as herdsman; — from the look
Of Mercury then laughed a joyous flash.
And then Apollo with the plectrum strook
The chords, and from beneath his hands a crash
Of mighty sounds rushed up, whose music shook
The soul with sweetness, and like an adept
His sweeter voice a just accordance kept.
The herd went wandering o’er the divine mead,
Whilst these most beautiful Sons of Jupiter
Won their swift way up to the snowy head
Of white Olympus, with the joyous lyre
Soothing their journey; and their father dread
Gathered them both into familiar
Affection sweet — and then, and now, and ever,
Hermes must love Him of the Golden Quiver,
To whom he gave the lyre that sweetly sounded,
Which skilfully he held and played thereon.
He piped the while, and far and wide rebounded
The echo of his pipings; every one
Of the Olympians sat with joy astounded;
While he conceived another piece of fun,
One of his old tricks — which the God of Day
Perceiving, said:—‘I fear thee, Son of May; —
‘I fear thee and thy sly chameleon spirit,
Lest thou should steal my lyre and crooked bow;
This glory and power thou dost from Jove inherit,
To teach all craft upon the earth below;
Thieves love and worship thee — it is thy merit
To make all mortal business ebb and flow
By roguery:— now, Hermes, if you dare
By sacred Styx a mighty oath to swear
‘That you will never rob me, you will do
A thing extremely pleasing to my heart.’
Then Mercury swore by the Stygian dew,
That he would never steal his bow or dart,
Or lay his hands on what to him was due,
Or ever would employ his powerful art
Against his Pythian fane. Then Phoebus swore
There was no God or Man whom he loved more.
‘And I will give thee as a good-will token,
The beautiful wand of wealth and happiness;
A perfect three-leaved rod of gold unbroken,
Whose magic will thy footsteps ever bless;
And whatsoever by Jove’s voice is spoken
Of earthly or divine from its recess,
It, like a loving soul, to thee will speak,
And more than this, do thou forbear to seek.
‘For, dearest child, the divinations high
Which thou requirest, ’tis unlawful ever
That thou, or any other deity
Should understand — and vain were the endeavour;
For they are hidden in Jove’s mind, and I,
In trust of them, have sworn that I would never
Betray the counsels of Jove’s inmost will
To any God — the oath was terrible.
‘Then, golden-wanded brother, ask me not
To speak the fates by Jupiter designed;
But be it mine to tell their various lot
To the unnumbered tribes of human-kind.
Let good to these, and ill to those be wrought
As I dispense — but he who comes consigned
By voice and wings of perfect augury
To my great shrine, shall find avail in me.
‘Him will I not deceive, but will assist;
But he who comes relying on such birds
As chatter vainly, who would strain and twist
The purpose of the Gods with idle words,
And deems their knowledge light, he shall have missed
His road — whilst I among my other hoards
His gifts deposit. Yet, O son of May,
I have another wondrous thing to say.
‘There are three Fates, three virgin Sisters, who
Rejoicing in their wind-outspeeding wings,
Their heads with flour snowed over white and new,
Sit in a vale round which Parnassus flings
Its circling skirts — from these I have learned true
Vaticinations of remotest things.
My father cared not. Whilst they search out dooms,
They sit apart and feed on honeycombs.
‘They, having eaten the fresh honey, grow
Drunk with divine enthusiasm, and utter
With earnest willingness the truth they know;
But if deprived of that sweet food, they mutter
All plausible delusions; — these to you
I give; — if you inquire, they will not stutter;
Delight your own soul with them:— any man
You would instruct may profit if he can.
‘Take these and the fierce oxen, Maia’s child —
O’er many a horse and toil-enduring mule,
O’er jagged-jawed lions, and the wild
White-tusked boars, o’er all, by field or pool,
Of cattle which the mighty Mother mild
Nourishes in her bosom, thou shalt rule —
Thou dost alone the veil from death uplift —
Thou givest not — yet this is a great gift.’
Thus King Apollo loved the child of May
In truth, and Jove covered their love with joy.
Hermes with Gods and Men even from that day
Mingled, and wrought the latter much annoy,
And little profit, going far astray
Through the dun night. Farewell, delightful Boy,
Of Jove and Maia sprung — never by me,
Nor thou, nor other songs, shall unremembered be.
[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Posthumous Poems”, 1824. This alone of the “Translations” is included in the Harvard manuscript book. ‘Fragments of the drafts of this and the other Hymns of Homer exist among the Boscombe manuscripts’ (Forman).]
_13 cow-stealing]qy. cattle-stealing?
_57 stony Boscombe manuscript. Harvard manuscript; strong edition 1824.
_252 neighbouring]neighbour Harvard manuscript.
_336 hurl Harvard manuscript, editions 1839; haul edition 1824.
_402 Round]Roused edition 1824 only.
_488 wrath]ruth Harvard manuscript.
_580 heifer-stealing]heifer-killing Harvard manuscript.
_673 and like 1839, 1st edition; as of edition 1824, Harvard manuscript.
_713 loving]living cj. Rossetti.
_761 from Harvard manuscript; of editions 1824, 1839.
_764 their love with joy Harvard manuscript; them with love and joy, editions 1824, 1839.
_767 going]wandering Harvard manuscript.
Ye wild-eyed Muses, sing the Twins of Jove,
Whom the fair-ankled Leda, mixed in love
With mighty Saturn’s Heaven-obscuring Child,
On Taygetus, that lofty mountain wild,
Brought forth in joy: mild Pollux, void of blame,
And steed-subduing Castor, heirs of fame.
These are the Powers who earth-born mortals save
And ships, whose flight is swift along the wave.
When wintry tempests o’er the savage sea
Are raging, and the sailors tremblingly
Call on the Twins of Jove with prayer and vow,
Gathered in fear upon the lofty prow,
And sacrifice with snow-white lambs — the wind
And the huge billow bursting close behind,
Even then beneath the weltering waters bear
The staggering ship — they suddenly appear,
On yellow wings rushing athwart the sky,
And lull the blasts in mute tranquillity,
And strew the waves on the white Ocean’s bed,
Fair omen of the voyage; from toil and dread
The sailors rest, rejoicing in the sight,
And plough the quiet sea in safe delight.
[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 2nd edition; dated 1818.]
_6 steed-subduing emend. Rossetti; steel-subduing 1839, 2nd edition.
Daughters of Jove, whose voice is melody,
Muses, who know and rule all minstrelsy
Sing the wide-winged Moon! Around the earth,
From her immortal head in Heaven shot forth,
Far light is scattered — boundless glory springs;
Where’er she spreads her many-beaming wings
The lampless air glows round her golden crown.
But when the Moon divine from Heaven is gone
Under the sea, her beams within abide,
Till, bathing her bright limbs in Ocean’s tide,
Clothing her form in garments glittering far,
And having yoked to her immortal car
The beam-invested steeds whose necks on high
Curve back, she drives to a remoter sky
A western Crescent, borne impetuously.
Then is made full the circle of her light,
And as she grows, her beams more bright and bright
Are poured from Heaven, where she is hovering then,
A wonder and a sign to mortal men.
The Son of Saturn with this glorious Power
Mingled in love and sleep — to whom she bore
Pandeia, a bright maid of beauty rare
Among the Gods, whose lives eternal are.
Hail Queen, great Moon, white-armed Divinity,
Fair-haired and favourable! thus with thee
My song beginning, by its music sweet
Shall make immortal many a glorious feat
Of demigods, with lovely lips, so well
Which minstrels, servants of the Muses, tell.
[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 2nd edition; dated 1818.]
Offspring of Jove, Calliope, once more
To the bright Sun, thy hymn of music pour;
Whom to the child of star-clad Heaven and Earth
Euryphaessa, large-eyed nymph, brought forth;
Euryphaessa, the famed sister fair
Of great Hyperion, who to him did bear
A race of loveliest children; the young Morn,
Whose arms are like twin roses newly born,
The fair-haired Moon, and the immortal Sun,
Who borne by heavenly steeds his race doth run
Unconquerably, illuming the abodes
Of mortal Men and the eternal Gods.
Fiercely look forth his awe-inspiring eyes,
Beneath his golden helmet, whence arise
And are shot forth afar, clear beams of light;
His countenance, with radiant glory bright,
Beneath his graceful locks far shines around,
And the light vest with which his limbs are bound,
Of woof aethereal delicately twined,
Glows in the stream of the uplifting wind.
His rapid steeds soon bear him to the West;
Where their steep flight his hands divine arrest,
And the fleet car with yoke of gold, which he
Sends from bright Heaven beneath the shadowy sea.
[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 2nd edition; dated 1818.]
O universal Mother, who dost keep
From everlasting thy foundations deep,
Eldest of things, Great Earth, I sing of thee!
All shapes that have their dwelling in the sea,
All things that fly, or on the ground divine
Live, move, and there are nourished — these are thine;
These from thy wealth thou dost sustain; from thee
Fair babes are born, and fruits on every tree
Hang ripe and large, revered Divinity!
The life of mortal men beneath thy sway
Is held; thy power both gives and takes away!
Happy are they whom thy mild favours nourish;
All things unstinted round them grow and flourish.
For them, endures the life-sustaining field
Its load of harvest, and their cattle yield
Large increase, and their house with wealth is filled.
Such honoured dwell in cities fair and free,
The homes of lovely women, prosperously;
Their sons exult in youth’s new budding gladness,
And their fresh daughters free from care or sadness,
With bloom-inwoven dance and happy song,
On the soft flowers the meadow-grass among,
Leap round them sporting — such delights by thee
Are given, rich Power, revered Divinity.
Mother of gods, thou Wife of starry Heaven,
Farewell! be thou propitious, and be given
A happy life for this brief melody,
Nor thou nor other songs shall unremembered be.
[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 2nd edition; dated 1818.]
I sing the glorious Power with azure eyes,
Athenian Pallas! tameless, chaste, and wise,
Tritogenia, town-preserving Maid,
Revered and mighty; from his awful head
Whom Jove brought forth, in warlike armour dressed,
Golden, all radiant! wonder strange possessed
The everlasting Gods that Shape to see,
Shaking a javelin keen, impetuously
Rush from the crest of Aegis-bearing Jove;
Fearfully Heaven was shaken, and did move
Beneath the might of the Cerulean-eyed;
Earth dreadfully resounded, far and wide;
And, lifted from its depths, the sea swelled high
In purple billows, the tide suddenly
Stood still, and great Hyperion’s son long time
Checked his swift steeds, till, where she stood sublime,
Pallas from her immortal shoulders threw
The arms divine; wise Jove rejoiced to view.
Child of the Aegis-bearer, hail to thee,
Nor thine nor others’ praise shall unremembered be.
[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 2nd edition; dated 1818.]
Muse, sing the deeds of golden Aphrodite,
Who wakens with her smile the lulled delight
Of sweet desire, taming the eternal kings
Of Heaven, and men, and all the living things
That fleet along the air, or whom the sea,
Or earth, with her maternal ministry,
Nourish innumerable, thy delight
All seek . . . O crowned Aphrodite!
Three spirits canst thou not deceive or quell:—
Minerva, child of Jove, who loves too well
Fierce war and mingling combat, and the fame
Of glorious deeds, to heed thy gentle flame.
Diana . . . golden-shafted queen,
Is tamed not by thy smiles; the shadows green
Of the wild woods, the bow, the . . .
And piercing cries amid the swift pursuit
Of beasts among waste mountains — such delight
Is hers, and men who know and do the right.
Nor Saturn’s first-born daughter, Vesta chaste,
Whom Neptune and Apollo wooed the last,
Such was the will of aegis-bearing Jove;
But sternly she refused the ills of Love,
And by her mighty Father’s head she swore
An oath not unperformed, that evermore
A virgin she would live mid deities
Divine: her father, for such gentle ties
Renounced, gave glorious gifts — thus in his hall
She sits and feeds luxuriously. O’er all
In every fane, her honours first arise
From men — the eldest of Divinities.
These spirits she persuades not, nor deceives,
But none beside escape, so well she weaves
Her unseen toils; nor mortal men, nor gods
Who live secure in their unseen abodes.
She won the soul of him whose fierce delight
Is thunder — first in glory and in might.
And, as she willed, his mighty mind deceiving,
With mortal limbs his deathless limbs inweaving,
Concealed him from his spouse and sister fair,
Whom to wise Saturn ancient Rhea bare.
but in return,
In Venus Jove did soft desire awaken,
That by her own enchantments overtaken,
She might, no more from human union free,
Burn for a nursling of mortality.
For once amid the assembled Deities,
The laughter-loving Venus from her eyes
Shot forth the light of a soft starlight smile,
And boasting said, that she, secure the while,
Could bring at Will to the assembled Gods
The mortal tenants of earth’s dark abodes,
And mortal offspring from a deathless stem
She could produce in scorn and spite of them.
Therefore he poured desire into her breast
Of young Anchises,
Feeding his herds among the mossy fountains
Of the wide Ida’s many-folded mountains —
Whom Venus saw, and loved, and the love clung
Like wasting fire her senses wild among.
[Published by Garnett, “Relics of Shelley”, 1862; dated 1818.]
[VERSES 1-55, WITH SOME OMISSIONS.]
CHORUS OF SATYRS.
O Bacchus, what a world of toil, both now
And ere these limbs were overworn with age,
Have I endured for thee! First, when thou fled’st
The mountain-nymphs who nursed thee, driven afar
By the strange madness Juno sent upon thee;
Then in the battle of the Sons of Earth,
When I stood foot by foot close to thy side,
No unpropitious fellow-combatant,
And, driving through his shield my winged spear,
Slew vast Enceladus. Consider now,
Is it a dream of which I speak to thee?
By Jove it is not, for you have the trophies!
And now I suffer more than all before.
For when I heard that Juno had devised
A tedious voyage for you, I put to sea
With all my children quaint in search of you,
And I myself stood on the beaked prow
And fixed the naked mast; and all my boys
Leaning upon their oars, with splash and strain
Made white with foam the green and purple sea —
And so we sought you, king. We were sailing
Near Malea, when an eastern wind arose,
And drove us to this waste Aetnean rock;
The one-eyed children of the Ocean God,
The man-destroying Cyclopses, inhabit,
On this wild shore, their solitary caves,
And one of these, named Polypheme. has caught us
To be his slaves; and so, for all delight
Of Bacchic sports, sweet dance and melody,
We keep this lawless giant’s wandering flocks.
My sons indeed on far declivities,
Young things themselves, tend on the youngling sheep,
But I remain to fill the water-casks,
Or sweeping the hard floor, or ministering
Some impious and abominable meal
To the fell Cyclops. I am wearied of it!
And now I must scrape up the littered floor
With this great iron rake, so to receive
My absent master and his evening sheep
In a cave neat and clean. Even now I see
My children tending the flocks hitherward.
Ha! what is this? are your Sicinnian measures
Even now the same, as when with dance and song
You brought young Bacchus to Althaea’s halls?
CHORUS OF SATYRS:
Where has he of race divine
Wandered in the winding rocks?
Here the air is calm and fine
For the father of the flocks; —
Here the grass is soft and sweet,
And the river-eddies meet
In the trough beside the cave,
Bright as in their fountain wave. —
Neither here, nor on the dew
Of the lawny uplands feeding?
Oh, you come! — a stone at you
Will I throw to mend your breeding; —
Get along, you horned thing,
Wild, seditious, rambling!
An Iacchic melody
To the golden Aphrodite
Will I lift, as erst did I
Seeking her and her delight
With the Maenads, whose white feet
To the music glance and fleet.
Bacchus, O beloved, where,
Shaking wide thy yellow hair,
Wanderest thou alone, afar?
To the one-eyed Cyclops, we,
Who by right thy servants are,
Minister in misery,
In these wretched goat-skins clad,
Far from thy delights and thee.
Be silent, sons; command the slaves to drive
The gathered flocks into the rock-roofed cave.
Go! But what needs this serious haste, O father?
I see a Grecian vessel on the coast,
And thence the rowers with some general
Approaching to this cave. — About their necks
Hang empty vessels, as they wanted food,
And water-flasks. — Oh, miserable strangers!
Whence come they, that they know not what and who
My master is, approaching in ill hour
The inhospitable roof of Polypheme,
And the Cyclopian jaw-bone, man-destroying?
Be silent, Satyrs, while I ask and hear
Whence coming, they arrive the Aetnean hill.
Friends, can you show me some clear water-spring,
The remedy of our thirst? Will any one
Furnish with food seamen in want of it?
Ha! what is this? We seem to be arrived
At the blithe court of Bacchus. I observe
This sportive band of Satyrs near the caves.
First let me greet the elder. — Hail!
O Stranger! tell thy country and thy race.
The Ithacan Ulysses and the king
Oh! I know the man,
Wordy and shrewd, the son of Sisyphus.
I am the same, but do not rail upon me. —
Whence sailing do you come to Sicily?
From Ilion, and from the Trojan toils.
How, touched you not at your paternal shore?
The strength of tempests bore me here by force.
The self-same accident occurred to me.
Were you then driven here by stress of weather?
Following the Pirates who had kidnapped Bacchus.
What land is this, and who inhabit it? —
Aetna, the loftiest peak in Sicily.
And are there walls, and tower-surrounded towns?
There are not. — These lone rocks are bare of men.
And who possess the land? the race of beasts?
Cyclops, who live in caverns, not in houses.
Obeying whom? Or is the state popular?
Shepherds: no one obeys any in aught.
How live they? do they sow the corn of Ceres?
On milk and cheese, and on the flesh of sheep.
Have they the Bromian drink from the vine’s stream?
Ah! no; they live in an ungracious land.
And are they just to strangers? — hospitable?
They think the sweetest thing a stranger brings
Is his own flesh.
What! do they eat man’s flesh?
No one comes here who is not eaten up.
The Cyclops now — where is he? Not at home?
Absent on Aetna, hunting with his dogs.
Know’st thou what thou must do to aid us hence?
I know not: we will help you all we can.
Provide us food, of which we are in want.
Here is not anything, as I said, but meat.
But meat is a sweet remedy for hunger.
Cow’s milk there is, and store of curdled cheese.
Bring out:— I would see all before I bargain.
But how much gold will you engage to give?
I bring no gold, but Bacchic juice.
Tis long since these dry lips were wet with wine.
Maron, the son of the God, gave it me.
Whom I have nursed a baby in my arms.
The son of Bacchus, for your clearer knowledge.
Have you it now? — or is it in the ship?
Old man, this skin contains it, which you see.
Why, this would hardly be a mouthful for me.
Nay, twice as much as you can draw from thence.
You speak of a fair fountain, sweet to me.
Would you first taste of the unmingled wine?
’Tis just — tasting invites the purchaser.
Here is the cup, together with the skin.
Pour: that the draught may fillip my remembrance.
Papaiapax! what a sweet smell it has!
You see it then? —
By Jove, no! but I smell it.
Taste, that you may not praise it in words only.
Babai! Great Bacchus calls me forth to dance!
Did it flow sweetly down your throat?
So that it tingled to my very nails.
And in addition I will give you gold.
Let gold alone! only unlock the cask.
Bring out some cheeses now, or a young goat.
That will I do, despising any master.
Yes, let me drink one cup, and I will give
All that the Cyclops feed upon their mountains.
. . .
Ye have taken Troy and laid your hands on Helen?
And utterly destroyed the race of Priam.
. . .
The wanton wretch! she was bewitched to see
The many-coloured anklets and the chain
Of woven gold which girt the neck of Paris,
And so she left that good man Menelaus.
There should be no more women in the world
But such as are reserved for me alone. —
See, here are sheep, and here are goats, Ulysses,
Here are unsparing cheeses of pressed milk;
Take them; depart with what good speed ye may;
First leaving my reward, the Bacchic dew
Of joy-inspiring grapes.
Ah me! Alas!
What shall we do? the Cyclops is at hand!
Old man, we perish! whither can we fly?
Hide yourselves quick within that hollow rock.
’Twere perilous to fly into the net.
The cavern has recesses numberless;
Hide yourselves quick.
That will I never do!
The mighty Troy would be indeed disgraced
If I should fly one man. How many times
Have I withstood, with shield immovable.
Ten thousand Phrygians! — if I needs must die,
Yet will I die with glory; — if I live,
The praise which I have gained will yet remain.
What, ho! assistance, comrades, haste, assistance!
[THE CYCLOPS, SILENUS, ULYSSES; CHORUS.]
What is this tumult? Bacchus is not here,
Nor tympanies nor brazen castanets.
How are my young lambs in the cavern? Milking
Their dams or playing by their sides? And is
The new cheese pressed into the bulrush baskets?
Speak! I’ll beat some of you till you rain tears —
Look up, not downwards when I speak to you.
See! I now gape at Jupiter himself;
I stare upon Orion and the stars.
Well, is the dinner fitly cooked and laid?
All ready, if your throat is ready too.
Are the bowls full of milk besides?
So you may drink a tunful if you will.
Is it ewe’s milk or cow’s milk, or both mixed? —
Both, either; only pray don’t swallow me.
By no means. —
. . .
What is this crowd I see beside the stalls?
Outlaws or thieves? for near my cavern-home
I see my young lambs coupled two by two
With willow bands; mixed with my cheeses lie
Their implements; and this old fellow here
Has his bald head broken with stripes.
I have been beaten till I burn with fever.
By whom? Who laid his fist upon your head?
Those men, because I would not suffer them
To steal your goods.
Did not the rascals know
I am a God, sprung from the race of Heaven?
I told them so, but they bore off your things,
And ate the cheese in spite of all I said,
And carried out the lambs — and said, moreover,
They’d pin you down with a three-cubit collar,
And pull your vitals out through your one eye,
Furrow your back with stripes, then, binding you,
Throw you as ballast into the ship’s hold,
And then deliver you, a slave, to move
Enormous rocks, or found a vestibule.
In truth? Nay, haste, and place in order quickly
The cooking-knives, and heap upon the hearth,
And kindle it, a great faggot of wood. —
As soon as they are slaughtered, they shall fill
My belly, broiling warm from the live coals,
Or boiled and seethed within the bubbling caldron.
I am quite sick of the wild mountain game;
Of stags and lions I have gorged enough,
And I grow hungry for the flesh of men.
Nay, master, something new is very pleasant
After one thing forever, and of late
Very few strangers have approached our cave.
Hear, Cyclops, a plain tale on the other side.
We, wanting to buy food, came from our ship
Into the neighbourhood of your cave, and here
This old Silenus gave us in exchange
These lambs for wine, the which he took and drank,
And all by mutual compact, without force.
There is no word of truth in what he says,
For slyly he was selling all your store.
I? May you perish, wretch —
If I speak false!
Cyclops, I swear by Neptune who begot thee,
By mighty Triton and by Nereus old,
Calypso and the glaucous Ocean Nymphs,
The sacred waves and all the race of fishes —
Be these the witnesses, my dear sweet master,
My darling little Cyclops, that I never
Gave any of your stores to these false strangers; —
If I speak false may those whom most I love,
My children, perish wretchedly!
I saw him giving these things to the strangers.
If I speak false, then may my father perish,
But do not thou wrong hospitality.
You lie! I swear that he is juster far
Than Rhadamanthus — I trust more in him.
But let me ask, whence have ye sailed, O strangers?
Who are you? And what city nourished ye?
Our race is Ithacan — having destroyed
The town of Troy, the tempests of the sea
Have driven us on thy land, O Polypheme.
What, have ye shared in the unenvied spoil
Of the false Helen, near Scamander’s stream?
The same, having endured a woful toil.
Oh, basest expedition! sailed ye not
From Greece to Phrygia for one woman’s sake?
’Twas the Gods’ work — no mortal was in fault.
But, O great Offspring of the Ocean-King,
We pray thee and admonish thee with freedom,
That thou dost spare thy friends who visit thee,
And place no impious food within thy jaws.
For in the depths of Greece we have upreared
Temples to thy great Father, which are all
His homes. The sacred bay of Taenarus
Remains inviolate, and each dim recess
Scooped high on the Malean promontory,
And aery Sunium’s silver-veined crag,
Which divine Pallas keeps unprofaned ever,
The Gerastian asylums, and whate’er
Within wide Greece our enterprise has kept
From Phrygian contumely; and in which
You have a common care, for you inhabit
The skirts of Grecian land, under the roots
Of Aetna and its crags, spotted with fire.
Turn then to converse under human laws,
Receive us shipwrecked suppliants, and provide
Food, clothes, and fire, and hospitable gifts;
Nor fixing upon oxen-piercing spits
Our limbs, so fill your belly and your jaws.
Priam’s wide land has widowed Greece enough;
And weapon-winged murder leaped together
Enough of dead, and wives are husbandless,
And ancient women and gray fathers wail
Their childless age; — if you should roast the rest —
And ’tis a bitter feast that you prepare —
Where then would any turn? Yet be persuaded;
Forgo the lust of your jaw-bone; prefer
Pious humanity to wicked will:
Many have bought too dear their evil joys.
Let me advise you, do not spare a morsel
Of all his flesh. If you should eat his tongue
You would become most eloquent, O Cyclops.
Wealth, my good fellow, is the wise man’s God,
All other things are a pretence and boast.
What are my father’s ocean promontories,
The sacred rocks whereon he dwells, to me?
Stranger, I laugh to scorn Jove’s thunderbolt,
I know not that his strength is more than mine.
As to the rest I care not. — When he pours
Rain from above, I have a close pavilion
Under this rock, in which I lie supine,
Feasting on a roast calf or some wild beast,
And drinking pans of milk, and gloriously
Emulating the thunder of high Heaven.
And when the Thracian wind pours down the snow,
I wrap my body in the skins of beasts,
Kindle a fire, and bid the snow whirl on.
The earth, by force, whether it will or no,
Bringing forth grass, fattens my flocks and herds,
Which, to what other God but to myself
And this great belly, first of deities,
Should I be bound to sacrifice? I well know
The wise man’s only Jupiter is this,
To eat and drink during his little day,
And give himself no care. And as for those
Who complicate with laws the life of man,
I freely give them tears for their reward.
I will not cheat my soul of its delight,
Or hesitate in dining upon you:—
And that I may be quit of all demands,
These are my hospitable gifts; — fierce fire
And yon ancestral caldron, which o’er-bubbling
Shall finely cook your miserable flesh.
Creep in! —
. . .
Ai! ai! I have escaped the Trojan toils,
I have escaped the sea, and now I fall
Under the cruel grasp of one impious man.
O Pallas, Mistress, Goddess, sprung from Jove,
Now, now, assist me! Mightier toils than Troy
Are these; — I totter on the chasms of peril; —
And thou who inhabitest the thrones
Of the bright stars, look, hospitable Jove,
Upon this outrage of thy deity,
Otherwise be considered as no God!
For your gaping gulf and your gullet wide,
The ravin is ready on every side,
The limbs of the strangers are cooked and done;
There is boiled meat, and roast meat, and meat from the coal,
You may chop it, and tear it, and gnash it for fun,
An hairy goat’s-skin contains the whole.
Let me but escape, and ferry me o’er
The stream of your wrath to a safer shore.
The Cyclops Aetnean is cruel and bold,
He murders the strangers
That sit on his hearth,
And dreads no avengers
To rise from the earth.
He roasts the men before they are cold,
He snatches them broiling from the coal,
And from the caldron pulls them whole,
And minces their flesh and gnaws their bone
With his cursed teeth, till all be gone.
Farewell, foul pavilion:
Farewell, rites of dread!
The Cyclops vermilion,
With slaughter uncloying,
Now feasts on the dead,
In the flesh of strangers joying!
O Jupiter! I saw within the cave
Horrible things; deeds to be feigned in words,
But not to be believed as being done.
What! sawest thou the impious Polypheme
Feasting upon your loved companions now?
Selecting two, the plumpest of the crowd,
He grasped them in his hands. —
. . .
Soon as we came into this craggy place,
Kindling a fire, he cast on the broad hearth
The knotty limbs of an enormous oak,
Three waggon-loads at least, and then he strewed
Upon the ground, beside the red firelight,
His couch of pine-leaves; and he milked the cows,
And pouring forth the white milk, filled a bowl
Three cubits wide and four in depth, as much
As would contain ten amphorae, and bound it
With ivy wreaths; then placed upon the fire
A brazen pot to boil, and made red hot
The points of spits, not sharpened with the sickle
But with a fruit tree bough, and with the jaws
Of axes for Aetnean slaughterings.
And when this God-abandoned Cook of Hell
Had made all ready, he seized two of us
And killed them in a kind of measured manner;
For he flung one against the brazen rivets
Of the huge caldron, and seized the other
By the foot’s tendon, and knocked out his brains
Upon the sharp edge of the craggy stone:
Then peeled his flesh with a great cooking-knife
And put him down to roast. The other’s limbs
He chopped into the caldron to be boiled.
And I, with the tears raining from my eyes,
Stood near the Cyclops, ministering to him;
The rest, in the recesses of the cave,
Clung to the rock like bats, bloodless with fear.
When he was filled with my companions’ flesh,
He threw himself upon the ground and sent
A loathsome exhalation from his maw.
Then a divine thought came to me. I filled
The cup of Maron, and I offered him
To taste, and said:—‘Child of the Ocean God,
Behold what drink the vines of Greece produce,
The exultation and the joy of Bacchus.’
He, satiated with his unnatural food,
Received it, and at one draught drank it off,
And taking my hand, praised me:—‘Thou hast given
A sweet draught after a sweet meal, dear guest.’
And I, perceiving that it pleased him, filled
Another cup, well knowing that the wine
Would wound him soon and take a sure revenge.
And the charm fascinated him, and I
Plied him cup after cup, until the drink
Had warmed his entrails, and he sang aloud
In concert with my wailing fellow-seamen
A hideous discord — and the cavern rung.
I have stolen out, so that if you will
You may achieve my safety and your own.
But say, do you desire, or not, to fly
This uncompanionable man, and dwell
As was your wont among the Grecian Nymphs
Within the fanes of your beloved God?
Your father there within agrees to it,
But he is weak and overcome with wine,
And caught as if with bird-lime by the cup,
He claps his wings and crows in doting joy.
You who are young escape with me, and find
Bacchus your ancient friend; unsuited he
To this rude Cyclops.
Oh my dearest friend,
That I could see that day, and leave for ever
The impious Cyclops.
. . .
Listen then what a punishment I have
For this fell monster, how secure a flight
From your hard servitude.
O sweeter far
Than is the music of an Asian lyre
Would be the news of Polypheme destroyed.
Delighted with the Bacchic drink he goes
To call his brother Cyclops — who inhabit
A village upon Aetna not far off.
I understand, catching him when alone
You think by some measure to dispatch him,
Or thrust him from the precipice.
Nothing of that kind; my device is subtle.
How then? I heard of old that thou wert wise.
I will dissuade him from this plan, by saying
It were unwise to give the Cyclopses
This precious drink, which if enjoyed alone
Would make life sweeter for a longer time.
When, vanquished by the Bacchic power, he sleeps,
There is a trunk of olive wood within,
Whose point having made sharp with this good sword
I will conceal in fire, and when I see
It is alight, will fix it, burning yet,
Within the socket of the Cyclops’ eye
And melt it out with fire — as when a man
Turns by its handle a great auger round,
Fitting the framework of a ship with beams,
So will I, in the Cyclops’ fiery eye
Turn round the brand and dry the pupil up.
Joy! I am mad with joy at your device.
And then with you, my friends, and the old man,
We’ll load the hollow depth of our black ship,
And row with double strokes from this dread shore.
May I, as in libations to a God,
Share in the blinding him with the red brand?
I would have some communion in his death.
Doubtless: the brand is a great brand to hold.
Oh! I would lift an hundred waggon-loads,
If like a wasp’s nest I could scoop the eye out
Of the detested Cyclops.
Ye know the close device — and when I call,
Look ye obey the masters of the craft.
I will not save myself and leave behind
My comrades in the cave: I might escape,
Having got clear from that obscure recess,
But ’twere unjust to leave in jeopardy
The dear companions who sailed here with me.
Come! who is first, that with his hand
Will urge down the burning brand
Through the lids, and quench and pierce
The Cyclops’ eye so fiery fierce?
SEMICHORUS 1 [SONG WITHIN]:
Listen! listen! he is coming,
A most hideous discord humming.
Drunken, museless, awkward, yelling,
Far along his rocky dwelling;
Let us with some comic spell
Teach the yet unteachable.
By all means he must be blinded,
If my counsel be but minded.
Happy thou made odorous
With the dew which sweet grapes weep,
To the village hastening thus,
Seek the vines that soothe to sleep;
Having first embraced thy friend,
Thou in luxury without end,
With the strings of yellow hair,
Of thy voluptuous leman fair,
Shalt sit playing on a bed! —
Speak! what door is opened?
Ha! ha! ha! I’m full of wine,
Heavy with the joy divine,
With the young feast oversated;
Like a merchant’s vessel freighted
To the water’s edge, my crop
Is laden to the gullet’s top.
The fresh meadow grass of spring
Tempts me forth thus wandering
To my brothers on the mountains,
Who shall share the wine’s sweet fountains.
Bring the cask, O stranger, bring!
One with eyes the fairest
Cometh from his dwelling;
Some one loves thee, rarest
Bright beyond my telling.
In thy grace thou shinest
Like some nymph divinest
In her caverns dewy:—
All delights pursue thee,
Soon pied flowers, sweet-breathing,
Shall thy head be wreathing.
Listen, O Cyclops, for I am well skilled
In Bacchus, whom I gave thee of to drink.
What sort of God is Bacchus then accounted?
The greatest among men for joy of life.
I gulped him down with very great delight.
This is a God who never injures men.
How does the God like living in a skin?
He is content wherever he is put.
Gods should not have their body in a skin.
If he gives joy, what is his skin to you?
I hate the skin, but love the wine within.
Stay here now: drink, and make your spirit glad.
Should I not share this liquor with my brothers?
Keep it yourself, and be more honoured so.
I were more useful, giving to my friends.
But village mirth breeds contests, broils, and blows.
When I am drunk none shall lay hands on me. —
A drunken man is better within doors.
He is a fool, who drinking, loves not mirth.
But he is wise, who drunk, remains at home.
What shall I do, Silenus? Shall I stay?
Stay — for what need have you of pot companions?
Indeed this place is closely carpeted
With flowers and grass.
And in the sun-warm noon
’Tis sweet to drink. Lie down beside me now,
Placing your mighty sides upon the ground.
What do you put the cup behind me for?
That no one here may touch it.
You want to drink; — here place it in the midst.
And thou, O stranger, tell how art thou called?
My name is Nobody. What favour now
Shall I receive to praise you at your hands?
I’ll feast on you the last of your companions.
You grant your guest a fair reward, O Cyclops.
Ha! what is this? Stealing the wine, you rogue!
It was this stranger kissing me because
I looked so beautiful.
You shall repent
For kissing the coy wine that loves you not.
By Jupiter! you said that I am fair.
Pour out, and only give me the cup full.
How is it mixed? let me observe.
Give it me so.
Not till I see you wear
That coronal, and taste the cup to you.
Thou wily traitor!
But the wine is sweet.
Ay, you will roar if you are caught in drinking.
See now, my lip is clean and all my beard.
Now put your elbow right and drink again.
As you see me drink — . . .
Ye Gods, what a delicious gulp!
Guest, take it; — you pour out the wine for me.
The wine is well accustomed to my hand.
Pour out the wine!
I pour; only be silent.
Silence is a hard task to him who drinks.
Take it and drink it off; leave not a dreg.
Oh that the drinker died with his own draught!
Papai! the vine must be a sapient plant.
If you drink much after a mighty feast,
Moistening your thirsty maw, you will sleep well;
If you leave aught, Bacchus will dry you up.
Ho! ho! I can scarce rise. What pure delight!
The heavens and earth appear to whirl about
Confusedly. I see the throne of Jove
And the clear congregation of the Gods.
Now if the Graces tempted me to kiss
I would not — for the loveliest of them all
I would not leave this Ganymede.
I am the Ganymede of Jupiter.
By Jove, you are; I bore you off from Dardanus.
. . .
[ULYSSES AND THE CHORUS.]
Come, boys of Bacchus, children of high race,
This man within is folded up in sleep,
And soon will vomit flesh from his fell maw;
The brand under the shed thrusts out its smoke,
No preparation needs, but to burn out
The monster’s eye; — but bear yourselves like men.
We will have courage like the adamant rock,
All things are ready for you here; go in,
Before our father shall perceive the noise.
Vulcan, Aetnean king! burn out with fire
The shining eye of this thy neighbouring monster!
And thou, O Sleep, nursling of gloomy Night,
Descend unmixed on this God-hated beast,
And suffer not Ulysses and his comrades,
Returning from their famous Trojan toils,
To perish by this man, who cares not either
For God or mortal; or I needs must think
That Chance is a supreme divinity,
And things divine are subject to her power.
Soon a crab the throat will seize
Of him who feeds upon his guest,
Fire will burn his lamp-like eyes
In revenge of such a feast!
A great oak stump now is lying
In the ashes yet undying.
Come, Maron, come!
Raging let him fix the doom,
Let him tear the eyelid up
Of the Cyclops — that his cup
May be evil!
Oh! I long to dance and revel
With sweet Bromian, long desired,
In loved ivy wreaths attired;
Leaving this abandoned home —
Will the moment ever come?
Be silent, ye wild things! Nay, hold your peace,
And keep your lips quite close; dare not to breathe,
Or spit, or e’en wink, lest ye wake the monster,
Until his eye be tortured out with fire.
Nay, we are silent, and we chaw the air.
Come now, and lend a hand to the great stake
Within — it is delightfully red hot.
You then command who first should seize the stake
To burn the Cyclops’ eye, that all may share
In the great enterprise.
We are too far;
We cannot at this distance from the door
Thrust fire into his eye.
And we just now
Have become lame! cannot move hand or foot.
The same thing has occurred to us — our ankles
Are sprained with standing here, I know not how.
What, sprained with standing still?
And there is dust
Or ashes in our eyes, I know not whence.
Cowardly dogs! ye will not aid me then?
With pitying my own back and my back-bone,
And with not wishing all my teeth knocked out,
This cowardice comes of itself — but stay,
I know a famous Orphic incantation
To make the brand stick of its own accord
Into the skull of this one-eyed son of Earth.
Of old I knew ye thus by nature; now
I know ye better. — I will use the aid
Of my own comrades. Yet though weak of hand
Speak cheerfully, that so ye may awaken
The courage of my friends with your blithe words.
This I will do with peril of my life,
And blind you with my exhortations, Cyclops.
Hasten and thrust,
And parch up to dust,
The eye of the beast
Who feeds on his guest.
Burn and blind
The Aetnean hind!
Scoop and draw,
But beware lest he claw
Your limbs near his maw.
Ah me! my eyesight is parched up to cinders.
What a sweet paean! sing me that again!
Ah me! indeed, what woe has fallen upon me!
But, wretched nothings, think ye not to flee
Out of this rock; I, standing at the outlet,
Will bar the way and catch you as you pass.
What are you roaring out, Cyclops?
For you are wicked.
And besides miserable.
What, did you fall into the fire when drunk?
’Twas Nobody destroyed me.
Why then no one
Can be to blame.
I say ’twas Nobody
Who blinded me.
Why then you are not blind.
I wish you were as blind as I am.
It cannot be that no one made you blind.
You jeer me; where, I ask, is Nobody?
Nowhere, O Cyclops.
It was that stranger ruined me:— the wretch
First gave me wine and then burned out my eye,
For wine is strong and hard to struggle with.
Have they escaped, or are they yet within?
They stand under the darkness of the rock
And cling to it.
At my right hand or left?
Close on your right.
Near the rock itself.
You have them.
Oh, misfortune on misfortune!
I’ve cracked my skull.
Now they escape you — there.
Not there, although you say so.
Not on that side.
They creep about you on your left.
Ah! I am mocked! They jeer me in my ills.
Not there! he is a little there beyond you.
Detested wretch! where are you?
Far from you
I keep with care this body of Ulysses.
What do you say? You proffer a new name.
My father named me so; and I have taken
A full revenge for your unnatural feast;
I should have done ill to have burned down Troy
And not revenged the murder of my comrades.
Ai! ai! the ancient oracle is accomplished;
It said that I should have my eyesight blinded
By your coming from Troy, yet it foretold
That you should pay the penalty for this
By wandering long over the homeless sea.
I bid thee weep — consider what I say;
I go towards the shore to drive my ship
To mine own land, o’er the Sicilian wave.
Not so, if, whelming you with this huge stone,
I can crush you and all your men together;
I will descend upon the shore, though blind,
Groping my way adown the steep ravine.
And we, the shipmates of Ulysses now,
Will serve our Bacchus all our happy lives.
[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Posthumous Poems”, 1824; dated 1819. Amongst the Shelley manuscripts at the Bodleian there is a copy, ‘practically complete,’ which has been collated by Mr. C.D. Locock. See “Examination”, etc., 1903, pages 64-70. ‘Though legible throughout, and comparatively free from corrections, it has the appearance of being a first draft’ (Locock).]
_23 waste B.; wild 1824; ‘cf. 26, where waste is cancelled for wild’ (Locock).
_216 Furrow B.; Torture (evidently misread for Furrow) 1824.
_344 ravin Rossetti; spelt ravine in B., editions 1824, 1839.
_369 not to be believed B.; not believed 1824.
_382 ten cj. Swinburne; four 1824; four cancelled for ten (possibly) B.
_387 I confess I do not understand this. —[SHELLEY’S NOTE.]
_416 take]grant (as alternative) B.
_446 by some measure 1824; with some measures B.
_495 thou cj. Swinburne, Rossetti; those 1824; ‘the word is doubtful in B.’ (Locock).
_500 Thou B.; There 1824.
_508 merchant’s 1824; merchant B.
_537 Stay here now, drink B.; stay here, now drink 1824.
_606 God-hated 1824; God-hating (as an alternative) B.
_693 So B.; Now they escape you there 1824.
Thou wert the morning star among the living,
Ere thy fair light had fled; —
Now, having died, thou art as Hesperus, giving
New splendour to the dead.
Kissing Helena, together
With my kiss, my soul beside it
Came to my lips, and there I kept it —
For the poor thing had wandered thither,
To follow where the kiss should guide it,
Oh, cruel I, to intercept it!
Eagle! why soarest thou above that tomb?
To what sublime and star-ypaven home
Floatest thou? —
I am the image of swift Plato’s spirit,
Ascending heaven; Athens doth inherit
His corpse below.
_5 doth Boscombe manuscript; does edition 1839.
A man who was about to hang himself,
Finding a purse, then threw away his rope;
The owner, coming to reclaim his pelf,
The halter found; and used it. So is Hope
Changed for Despair — one laid upon the shelf,
We take the other. Under Heaven’s high cope
Fortune is God — all you endure and do
Depends on circumstance as much as you.
[These four Epigrams were published — numbers 2 and 4 without title — by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 1st edition.]
I mourn Adonis dead — loveliest Adonis —
Dead, dead Adonis — and the Loves lament.
Sleep no more, Venus, wrapped in purple woof —
Wake violet-stoled queen, and weave the crown
Of Death — ’tis Misery calls — for he is dead.
The lovely one lies wounded in the mountains,
His white thigh struck with the white tooth; he scarce
Yet breathes; and Venus hangs in agony there.
The dark blood wanders o’er his snowy limbs,
His eyes beneath their lids are lustreless,
The rose has fled from his wan lips, and there
That kiss is dead, which Venus gathers yet.
A deep, deep wound Adonis . . .
A deeper Venus bears upon her heart.
See, his beloved dogs are gathering round —
The Oread nymphs are weeping — Aphrodite
With hair unbound is wandering through the woods,
‘Wildered, ungirt, unsandalled — the thorns pierce
Her hastening feet and drink her sacred blood.
Bitterly screaming out, she is driven on
Through the long vales; and her Assyrian boy,
Her love, her husband, calls — the purple blood
From his struck thigh stains her white navel now,
Her bosom, and her neck before like snow.
Alas for Cytherea — the Loves mourn —
The lovely, the beloved is gone! — and now
Her sacred beauty vanishes away.
For Venus whilst Adonis lived was fair —
Alas! her loveliness is dead with him.
The oaks and mountains cry, Ai! ai! Adonis!
The springs their waters change to tears and weep —
The flowers are withered up with grief . . .
Ai! ai! . . . Adonis is dead
Echo resounds . . . Adonis dead.
Who will weep not thy dreadful woe. O Venus?
Soon as she saw and knew the mortal wound
Of her Adonis — saw the life-blood flow
From his fair thigh, now wasting — wailing loud
She clasped him, and cried . . . ‘Stay, Adonis!
Stay, dearest one, . . .
and mix my lips with thine —
Wake yet a while, Adonis — oh, but once,
That I may kiss thee now for the last time —
But for as long as one short kiss may live —
Oh, let thy breath flow from thy dying soul
Even to my mouth and heart, that I may suck
That . . . ’
[Published by Forman, “Poetical Works of P. B. S.”, 1876.]
_23 his Rossetti, Dowden, Woodberry; her Boscombe manuscript, Forman.
Ye Dorian woods and waves, lament aloud —
Augment your tide, O streams, with fruitless tears,
For the beloved Bion is no more.
Let every tender herb and plant and flower,
From each dejected bud and drooping bloom,
Shed dews of liquid sorrow, and with breath
Of melancholy sweetness on the wind
Diffuse its languid love; let roses blush,
Anemones grow paler for the loss
Their dells have known; and thou, O hyacinth,
Utter thy legend now — yet more, dumb flower,
Than ‘Ah! alas!’— thine is no common grief —
Bion the [sweetest singer] is no more.
[Published from the Hunt manuscripts by Forman, “Poetical Works of P. B. S.”, 1876.]
_2 tears]sorrow (as alternative) Hunt manuscript.
Tan ala tan glaukan otan onemos atrema Balle — k.t.l.
When winds that move not its calm surface sweep
The azure sea, I love the land no more;
The smiles of the serene and tranquil deep
Tempt my unquiet mind. — But when the roar
Of Ocean’s gray abyss resounds, and foam
Gathers upon the sea, and vast waves burst,
I turn from the drear aspect to the home
Of Earth and its deep woods, where, interspersed,
When winds blow loud, pines make sweet melody.
Whose house is some lone bark, whose toil the sea,
Whose prey the wandering fish, an evil lot
Has chosen. — But I my languid limbs will fling
Beneath the plane, where the brook’s murmuring
Moves the calm spirit, but disturbs it not.
[Published with “Alastor”, 1816.]
Pan loved his neighbour Echo — but that child
Of Earth and Air pined for the Satyr leaping;
The Satyr loved with wasting madness wild
The bright nymph Lyda — and so three went weeping.
As Pan loved Echo, Echo loved the Satyr,
The Satyr, Lyda; and so love consumed them. —
And thus to each — which was a woful matter —
To bear what they inflicted Justice doomed them;
For, inasmuch as each might hate the lover,
Each, loving, so was hated. — Ye that love not
Be warned — in thought turn this example over,
That when ye love, the like return ye prove not.
[Published (without title) by Mrs. Shelley, “Posthumous Poems”, 1824. There is a draft amongst the Hunt manuscripts.]
_6 so Hunt manuscript; thus 1824.
_11 So 1824; This lesson timely in your thoughts turn over, The moral of this song in thought turn over (as alternatives) Hunt manuscript.
Melodious Arethusa, o’er my verse
Shed thou once more the spirit of thy stream:
Who denies verse to Gallus? So, when thou
Glidest beneath the green and purple gleam
Of Syracusan waters, mayst thou flow
Unmingled with the bitter Doric dew!
Begin, and, whilst the goats are browsing now
The soft leaves, in our way let us pursue
The melancholy loves of Gallus. List!
We sing not to the dead: the wild woods knew
His sufferings, and their echoes . . .
Young Naiads, . . . in what far woodlands wild
Wandered ye when unworthy love possessed
Your Gallus? Not where Pindus is up-piled,
Nor where Parnassus’ sacred mount, nor where
Aonian Aganippe expands . . .
The laurels and the myrtle-copses dim.
The pine-encircled mountain, Maenalus,
The cold crags of Lycaeus, weep for him;
And Sylvan, crowned with rustic coronals,
Came shaking in his speed the budding wands
And heavy lilies which he bore: we knew
Pan the Arcadian.
. . .
‘What madness is this, Gallus? Thy heart’s care
With willing steps pursues another there.’
[Published by Rossetti, “Complete Poetical Works of P. B. S.”, 1870, from the Boscombe manuscripts now in the Bodleian. Mr. Locock (“Examination”, etc., 1903, pages 47-50), as the result of his collation of the same manuscripts, gives a revised and expanded version which we print below.]
(As revised by Mr. C.D. Locock.)
Melodious Arethusa, o’er my verse
Shed thou once more the spirit of thy stream:
(Two lines missing.)
Who denies verse to Gallus? So, when thou
Glidest beneath the green and purple gleam
Of Syracusan waters, mayest thou flow
Unmingled with the bitter Dorian dew!
Begin, and whilst the goats are browsing now
The soft leaves, in our song let us pursue
The melancholy loves of Gallus. List!
We sing not to the deaf: the wild woods knew
His sufferings, and their echoes answer . . .
Young Naiades, in what far woodlands wild
Wandered ye, when unworthy love possessed
Our Gallus? Nor where Pindus is up-piled,
Nor where Parnassus’ sacred mount, nor where
Aonian Aganippe spreads its . . .
(Three lines missing.)
The laurels and the myrtle-copses dim,
The pine-encircled mountain, Maenalus,
The cold crags of Lycaeus weep for him.
(Several lines missing.)
‘What madness is this, Gallus? thy heart’s care,
Lycoris, mid rude camps and Alpine snow,
With willing step pursues another there.’
(Some lines missing.)
And Sylvan, crowned with rustic coronals,
Came shaking in his speed the budding wands
And heavy lilies which he bore: we knew
Pan the Arcadian with. . . .
. . . and said,
‘Wilt thou not ever cease? Love cares not.
The meadows with fresh streams, the bees with thyme,
The goats with the green leaves of budding spring
Are saturated not — nor Love with tears.’
And the cloven waters like a chasm of mountains
Stood, and received him in its mighty portal
And led him through the deep’s untrampled fountains
He went in wonder through the path immortal
Of his great Mother and her humid reign
And groves profaned not by the step of mortal
Which sounded as he passed, and lakes which rain
Replenished not girt round by marble caves
‘Wildered by the watery motion of the main
Half ‘wildered he beheld the bursting waves
Of every stream beneath the mighty earth
Phasis and Lycus which the . . . sand paves,
[And] The chasm where old Enipeus has its birth
And father Tyber and Anienas[?] glow
And whence Caicus, Mysian stream, comes forth
And rock-resounding Hypanis, and thou
Eridanus who bearest like empire’s sign
Two golden horns upon thy taurine brow
Thou than whom none of the streams divine
Through garden-fields and meads with fiercer power,
Burst in their tumult on the purple brine
[VERSES 360 ET SEQ.]
[Published by Locock, “Examination”, etc., 1903.]
DANTE ALIGHIERI TO GUIDO CAVALCANTI:
Guido, I would that Lapo, thou, and I,
Led by some strong enchantment, might ascend
A magic ship, whose charmed sails should fly
With winds at will where’er our thoughts might wend,
So that no change, nor any evil chance
Should mar our joyous voyage; but it might be,
That even satiety should still enhance
Between our hearts their strict community:
And that the bounteous wizard then would place
Vanna and Bice and my gentle love,
Companions of our wandering, and would grace
With passionate talk, wherever we might rove,
Our time, and each were as content and free
As I believe that thou and I should be.
[Published with “Alastor”, 1816; reprinted, “Posthumous Poems”, 1824.]
_5 So 1824; And 1816.
Ye who intelligent the Third Heaven move,
Hear the discourse which is within my heart,
Which cannot be declared, it seems so new.
The Heaven whose course follows your power and art,
Oh, gentle creatures that ye are! me drew,
And therefore may I dare to speak to you,
Even of the life which now I live — and yet
I pray that ye will hear me when I cry,
And tell of mine own heart this novelty;
How the lamenting Spirit moans in it,
And how a voice there murmurs against her
Who came on the refulgence of your sphere.
A sweet Thought, which was once the life within
This heavy heart, man a time and oft
Went up before our Father’s feet, and there
It saw a glorious Lady throned aloft;
And its sweet talk of her my soul did win,
So that I said, ‘Thither I too will fare.’
That Thought is fled, and one doth now appear
Which tyrannizes me with such fierce stress,
That my heart trembles — ye may see it leap —
And on another Lady bids me keep
Mine eyes, and says — Who would have blessedness
Let him but look upon that Lady’s eyes,
Let him not fear the agony of sighs.
This lowly Thought, which once would talk with me
Of a bright seraph sitting crowned on high,
Found such a cruel foe it died, and so
My Spirit wept, the grief is hot even now —
And said, Alas for me! how swift could flee
That piteous Thought which did my life console!
And the afflicted one . . . questioning
Mine eyes, if such a Lady saw they never,
And why they would . . .
I said: ‘Beneath those eyes might stand for ever
He whom . . . regards must kill with . . .
To have known their power stood me in little stead,
Those eyes have looked on me, and I am dead.’
‘Thou art not dead, but thou hast wandered,
Thou Soul of ours, who thyself dost fret,’
A Spirit of gentle Love beside me said;
For that fair Lady, whom thou dost regret,
Hath so transformed the life which thou hast led,
Thou scornest it, so worthless art thou made.
And see how meek, how pitiful, how staid,
Yet courteous, in her majesty she is.
And still call thou her Woman in thy thought;
Her whom, if thou thyself deceivest not,
Thou wilt behold decked with such loveliness,
That thou wilt cry [Love] only Lord, lo! here
Thy handmaiden, do what thou wilt with her.
My song, I fear that thou wilt find but few
Who fitly shall conceive thy reasoning
Of such hard matter dost thou entertain.
Whence, if by misadventure chance should bring
Thee to base company, as chance may do,
Quite unaware of what thou dost contain,
I prithee comfort thy sweet self again,
My last delight; tell them that they are dull,
And bid them own that thou art beautiful.
[Published by Garnett, “Relics of Shelley”, 1862; dated 1820.]
NOTE: C5. Published with “Epispychidion”, 1821. — ED.
And earnest to explore within — around —
The divine wood, whose thick green living woof
Tempered the young day to the sight — I wound
Up the green slope, beneath the forest’s roof,
With slow, soft steps leaving the mountain’s steep,
And sought those inmost labyrinths, motion-proof
Against the air, that in that stillness deep
And solemn, struck upon my forehead bare,
The slow, soft stroke of a continuous . . .
In which the . . . leaves tremblingly were
All bent towards that part where earliest
The sacred hill obscures the morning air.
Yet were they not so shaken from the rest,
But that the birds, perched on the utmost spray,
Incessantly renewing their blithe quest,
With perfect joy received the early day,
Singing within the glancing leaves, whose sound
Kept a low burden to their roundelay,
Such as from bough to bough gathers around
The pine forest on bleak Chiassi’s shore,
When Aeolus Sirocco has unbound.
My slow steps had already borne me o’er
Such space within the antique wood, that I
Perceived not where I entered any more —
When, lo! a stream whose little waves went by,
Bending towards the left through grass that grew
Upon its bank, impeded suddenly
My going on. Water of purest hue
On earth, would appear turbid and impure
Compared with this, whose unconcealing dew,
Dark, dark, yet clear, moved under the obscure
Eternal shades, whose interwoven looms
The rays of moon or sunlight ne’er endure.
I moved not with my feet, but mid the glooms
Pierced with my charmed eye, contemplating
The mighty multitude of fresh May blooms
Which starred that night, when, even as a thing
That suddenly, for blank astonishment,
Charms every sense, and makes all thought take wing —
A solitary woman! and she went
Singing and gathering flower after flower,
With which her way was painted and besprent.
‘Bright lady, who, if looks had ever power
To bear true witness of the heart within,
Dost bask under the beams of love, come lower
Towards this bank. I prithee let me win
This much of thee, to come, that I may hear
Thy song: like Proserpine, in Enna’s glen,
Thou seemest to my fancy, singing here
And gathering flowers, as that fair maiden when
She lost the Spring, and Ceres her, more dear.
Up a green slope, beneath the starry roof,
With slow, slow steps — 1834.
Like the sweet breathing of a child asleep:
Already I had lost myself so far
Amid that tangled wilderness that I
Perceived not where I ventured, but no fear
Of wandering from my way disturbed, when nigh
A little stream appeared; the grass that grew
Thick on its banks impeded suddenly
My going on. 1834.
My feet were motionless, but mid the glooms
Darted my charmed eyes — 1834.
[Published in part (lines 1-8, 22-51) by Medwin, “The Angler in Wales”, 1834, “Life of Shelley”, 1847; reprinted in full by Garnett, “Relics of Shelley”, 1862.]
_2 The 1862; That 1834.
_4, _5 So 1862;
_6 inmost 1862; leafy 1834.
_9 So 1862; The slow, soft stroke of a continuous sleep cj. Rossetti, 1870.
_9-_28 So 1862;
_13 the 1862; their cj. Rossetti, 1870.
_26 through]the cj. Rossetti.
_28 hue 1862; dew 1834.
_30 dew 1862; hue 1834.
_32 Eternal shades 1862; Of the close boughs 1834.
_33 So 1862; No ray of moon or sunshine would endure 1834.
_34, _35 So 1862;
_37 Which 1834; That 1862.
_39 So 1834; Dissolves all other thought . . . 1862.
_40 So 1862; Appeared a solitary maid — she went 1834.
_46 Towards 1862; Unto 1834.
_47 thee, to come 1862; thee O come 1834.
What Mary is when she a little smiles
I cannot even tell or call to mind,
It is a miracle so new, so rare.
[Published by Forman, “Poetical Works of P. B. S.”, 1876.]
(Published by Medwin, “Life of Shelley”, 1847, with Shelley’s corrections in italics [’’]. — ED.)
Now had the loophole of that dungeon, still
Which bears the name of Famine’s Tower from me,
And where ’tis fit that many another will
Be doomed to linger in captivity,
Shown through its narrow opening in my cell
‘Moon after moon slow waning’, when a sleep,
‘That of the future burst the veil, in dream
Visited me. It was a slumber deep
And evil; for I saw, or I did seem’
To see, ‘that’ tyrant Lord his revels keep
The leader of the cruel hunt to them,
Chasing the wolf and wolf-cubs up the steep
Ascent, that from ‘the Pisan is the screen’
Of ‘Lucca’; with him Gualandi came,
Sismondi, and Lanfranchi, ‘bloodhounds lean,
Trained to the sport and eager for the game
Wide ranging in his front;’ but soon were seen
Though by so short a course, with ‘spirits tame,’
The father and ‘his whelps’ to flag at once,
And then the sharp fangs gored their bosoms deep.
Ere morn I roused myself, and heard my sons,
For they were with me, moaning in their sleep,
And begging bread. Ah, for those darling ones!
Right cruel art thou, if thou dost not weep
In thinking of my soul’s sad augury;
And if thou weepest not now, weep never more!
They were already waked, as wont drew nigh
The allotted hour for food, and in that hour
Each drew a presage from his dream. When I
‘Heard locked beneath me of that horrible tower
The outlet; then into their eyes alone
I looked to read myself,’ without a sign
Or word. I wept not — turned within to stone.
They wept aloud, and little Anselm mine,
Said —’twas my youngest, dearest little one —
“What ails thee, father? Why look so at thine?”
In all that day, and all the following night,
I wept not, nor replied; but when to shine
Upon the world, not us, came forth the light
Of the new sun, and thwart my prison thrown
Gleamed through its narrow chink, a doleful sight,
‘Three faces, each the reflex of my own,
Were imaged by its faint and ghastly ray;’
Then I, of either hand unto the bone,
Gnawed, in my agony; and thinking they
Twas done from sudden pangs, in their excess,
All of a sudden raise themselves, and say,
“Father! our woes, so great, were yet the less
Would you but eat of us — twas ‘you who clad
Our bodies in these weeds of wretchedness;
Despoil them’.” Not to make their hearts more sad,
I ‘hushed’ myself. That day is at its close —
Another — still we were all mute. Oh, had
The obdurate earth opened to end our woes!
The fourth day dawned, and when the new sun shone,
Outstretched himself before me as it rose
My Gaddo, saying, “Help, father! hast thou none
For thine own child — is there no help from thee?”
He died — there at my feet — and one by one,
I saw them fall, plainly as you see me.
Between the fifth and sixth day, ere twas dawn,
I found ‘myself blind-groping o’er the three.’
Three days I called them after they were gone.
Famine of grief can get the mastery.
[Translated by Medwin and corrected by Shelley.]
GUIDO CAVALCANTI TO DANTE ALIGHIERI:
Returning from its daily quest, my Spirit
Changed thoughts and vile in thee doth weep to find:
It grieves me that thy mild and gentle mind
Those ample virtues which it did inherit
Has lost. Once thou didst loathe the multitude
Of blind and madding men — I then loved thee —
I loved thy lofty songs and that sweet mood
When thou wert faithful to thyself and me
I dare not now through thy degraded state
Own the delight thy strains inspire — in vain
I seek what once thou wert — we cannot meet
And we were wont. Again and yet again
Ponder my words: so the false Spirit shall fly
And leave to thee thy true integrity.
[Published by Forman (who assigns it to 1815), “Poetical Works of P. B. S.”, 1876.]
SCENE 1: ENTER CYPRIAN, DRESSED AS A STUDENT; CLARIN AND MOSCON AS POOR SCHOLARS, WITH BOOKS.
In the sweet solitude of this calm place,
This intricate wild wilderness of trees
And flowers and undergrowth of odorous plants,
Leave me; the books you brought out of the house
To me are ever best society.
And while with glorious festival and song,
Antioch now celebrates the consecration
Of a proud temple to great Jupiter,
And bears his image in loud jubilee
To its new shrine, I would consume what still
Lives of the dying day in studious thought,
Far from the throng and turmoil. You, my friends,
Go, and enjoy the festival; it will
Be worth your pains. You may return for me
When the sun seeks its grave among the billows
Which, among dim gray clouds on the horizon,
Dance like white plumes upon a hearse; — and here
I shall expect you.
Hid among dim gray clouds on the horizon
Which dance like plumes — transcr., Forman.
I cannot bring my mind,
Great as my haste to see the festival
Certainly is, to leave you, Sir, without
Just saying some three or four thousand words.
How is it possible that on a day
Of such festivity, you can be content
To come forth to a solitary country
With three or four old books, and turn your back
On all this mirth?
My master’s in the right;
There is not anything more tiresome
Than a procession day, with troops, and priests,
And dances, and all that.
From first to last,
Clarin, you are a temporizing flatterer;
You praise not what you feel but what he does; —
You lie — under a mistake —
For this is the most civil sort of lie
That can be given to a man’s face. I now
Say what I think.
Enough, you foolish fellows!
Puffed up with your own doting ignorance,
You always take the two sides of one question.
Now go; and as I said, return for me
When night falls, veiling in its shadows wide
This glorious fabric of the universe.
How happens it, although you can maintain
The folly of enjoying festivals,
That yet you go there?
Nay, the consequence
Is clear:— who ever did what he advises
Others to do? —
Would that my feet were wings,
So would I fly to Livia.
To speak truth,
Livia is she who has surprised my heart;
But he is more than half-way there. — Soho!
Livia, I come; good sport, Livia, soho!
Now, since I am alone, let me examine
The question which has long disturbed my mind
With doubt, since first I read in Plinius
The words of mystic import and deep sense
In which he defines God. My intellect
Can find no God with whom these marks and signs
Fitly agree. It is a hidden truth
Which I must fathom.
[CYPRIAN READS; THE DAEMON, DRESSED IN A COURT DRESS, ENTERS.]
Search even as thou wilt,
But thou shalt never find what I can hide.
What noise is that among the boughs? Who moves?
What art thou? —
’Tis a foreign gentleman.
Even from this morning I have lost my way
In this wild place; and my poor horse at last,
Quite overcome, has stretched himself upon
The enamelled tapestry of this mossy mountain,
And feeds and rests at the same time. I was
Upon my way to Antioch upon business
Of some importance, but wrapped up in cares
(Who is exempt from this inheritance?)
I parted from my company, and lost
My way, and lost my servants and my comrades.
’Tis singular that even within the sight
Of the high towers of Antioch you could lose
Your way. Of all the avenues and green paths
Of this wild wood there is not one but leads,
As to its centre, to the walls of Antioch;
Take which you will, you cannot miss your road.
And such is ignorance! Even in the sight
Of knowledge, it can draw no profit from it.
But as it still is early, and as I
Have no acquaintances in Antioch,
Being a stranger there, I will even wait
The few surviving hours of the day,
Until the night shall conquer it. I see
Both by your dress and by the books in which
You find delight and company, that you
Are a great student; — for my part, I feel
Much sympathy in such pursuits.
No — and yet I know enough
Not to be wholly ignorant.
What science may you know? —
Much pains must we expend on one alone,
And even then attain it not; — but you
Have the presumption to assert that you
Know many without study.
And with truth.
For in the country whence I come the sciences
Require no learning — they are known.
I were of that bright country! for in this
The more we study, we the more discover
It is so true, that I
Had so much arrogance as to oppose
The chair of the most high Professorship,
And obtained many votes, and, though I lost,
The attempt was still more glorious, than the failure
Could be dishonourable. If you believe not,
Let us refer it to dispute respecting
That which you know the best, and although I
Know not the opinion you maintain, and though
It be the true one, I will take the contrary.
The offer gives me pleasure. I am now
Debating with myself upon a passage
Of Plinius, and my mind is racked with doubt
To understand and know who is the God
Of whom he speaks.
It is a passage, if
I recollect it right, couched in these words
‘God is one supreme goodness, one pure essence,
One substance, and one sense, all sight, all hands.’
What difficulty find you here?
I do not recognize among the Gods
The God defined by Plinius; if he must
Be supreme goodness, even Jupiter
Is not supremely good; because we see
His deeds are evil, and his attributes
Tainted with mortal weakness; in what manner
Can supreme goodness be consistent with
The passions of humanity?
Of the old world masked with the names of Gods
The attributes of Nature and of Man;
A sort of popular philosophy.
This reply will not satisfy me, for
Such awe is due to the high name of God
That ill should never be imputed. Then,
Examining the question with more care,
It follows, that the Gods would always will
That which is best, were they supremely good.
How then does one will one thing, one another?
And that you may not say that I allege
Poetical or philosophic learning:—
Consider the ambiguous responses
Of their oracular statues; from two shrines
Two armies shall obtain the assurance of
One victory. Is it not indisputable
That two contending wills can never lead
To the same end? And, being opposite,
If one be good, is not the other evil?
Evil in God is inconceivable;
But supreme goodness fails among the Gods
Without their union.
I deny your major.
These responses are means towards some end
Unfathomed by our intellectual beam.
They are the work of Providence, and more
The battle’s loss may profit those who lose,
Than victory advantage those who win.
That I admit; and yet that God should not
(Falsehood is incompatible with deity)
Assure the victory; it would be enough
To have permitted the defeat. If God
Be all sight — God, who had beheld the truth,
Would not have given assurance of an end
Never to be accomplished: thus, although
The Deity may according to his attributes
Be well distinguished into persons, yet
Even in the minutest circumstance
His essence must be one.
To attain the end
The affections of the actors in the scene
Must have been thus influenced by his voice.
But for a purpose thus subordinate
He might have employed Genii, good or evil —
A sort of spirits called so by the learned,
Who roam about inspiring good or evil,
And from whose influence and existence we
May well infer our immortality.
Thus God might easily, without descent
To a gross falsehood in his proper person,
Have moved the affections by this mediation
To the just point.
These trifling contradictions
Do not suffice to impugn the unity
Of the high Gods; in things of great importance
They still appear unanimous; consider
That glorious fabric, man — his workmanship
Is stamped with one conception.
Who made man
Must have, methinks, the advantage of the others.
If they are equal, might they not have risen
In opposition to the work, and being
All hands, according to our author here,
Have still destroyed even as the other made?
If equal in their power, unequal only
In opportunity, which of the two
Will remain conqueror?
And false hypothesis there can be built
No argument. Say, what do you infer
That there must be a mighty God
Of supreme goodness and of highest grace,
All sight, all hands, all truth, infallible,
Without an equal and without a rival,
The cause of all things and the effect of nothing,
One power, one will, one substance, and one essence.
And, in whatever persons, one or two,
His attributes may be distinguished, one
Sovereign power, one solitary essence,
One cause of all cause.
How can I impugn
So clear a consequence?
Do you regret
Who but regrets a check
In rivalry of wit? I could reply
And urge new difficulties, but will now
Depart, for I hear steps of men approaching,
And it is time that I should now pursue
My journey to the city.
Go in peace!
Remain in peace! — Since thus it profits him
To study, I will wrap his senses up
In sweet oblivion of all thought but of
A piece of excellent beauty; and, as I
Have power given me to wage enmity
Against Justina’s soul, I will extract
From one effect two vengeances.
[ASIDE AND EXIT.]
Met a more learned person. Let me now
Revolve this doubt again with careful mind.
[FLORO AND LELIO ENTER.]
Here stop. These toppling rocks and tangled boughs,
Impenetrable by the noonday beam,
Shall be sole witnesses of what we —
If there were words, here is the place for deeds.
Thou needest not instruct me; well I know
That in the field, the silent tongue of steel
Speaks thus —
Ha! what is this? Lelio — Floro,
Be it enough that Cyprian stands between you,
Whence comest thou, to stand
Between me and my vengeance?
From what rocks
And desert cells?
[ENTER MOSCON AND CLARIN.]
Run! run! for where we left
My master. I now hear the clash of swords.
I never run to approach things of this sort
But only to avoid them. Sir! Cyprian! sir!
Be silent, fellows! What! two friends who are
In blood and fame the eyes and hope of Antioch,
One of the noble race of the Colalti,
The other son o’ the Governor, adventure
And cast away, on some slight cause no doubt,
Two lives, the honour of their country?
Although my high respect towards your person
Holds now my sword suspended, thou canst not
Restore it to the slumber of the scabbard:
Thou knowest more of science than the duel;
For when two men of honour take the field,
No counsel nor respect can make them friends
But one must die in the dispute.
No [ . . . ] or 1824; No reasoning or transcr.
That you depart hence with your people, and
Leave us to finish what we have begun
Without advantage. —
Though you may imagine
That I know little of the laws of duel,
Which vanity and valour instituted,
You are in error. By my birth I am
Held no less than yourselves to know the limits
Of honour and of infamy, nor has study
Quenched the free spirit which first ordered them;
And thus to me, as one well experienced
In the false quicksands of the sea of honour,
You may refer the merits of the case;
And if I should perceive in your relation
That either has the right to satisfaction
From the other, I give you my word of honour
To leave you.
Under this condition then
I will relate the cause, and you will cede
And must confess the impossibility
Of compromise; for the same lady is
Beloved by Floro and myself.
Much to me that the light of day should look
Upon that idol of my heart — but he —
Leave us to fight, according to thy word.
Permit one question further: is the lady
Impossible to hope or not?
So excellent, that if the light of day
Should excite Floro’s jealousy, it were
Without just cause, for even the light of day
Trembles to gaze on her.
Would you for your
Part, marry her?
Such is my confidence.
Oh! would that I could lift my hope
So high, for though she is extremely poor,
Her virtue is her dowry.
And if you both
Would marry her, is it not weak and vain,
Culpable and unworthy, thus beforehand
To slur her honour? What would the world say
If one should slay the other, and if she
Should afterwards espouse the murderer?
[THE RIVALS AGREE TO REFER THEIR QUARREL TO CYPRIAN; WHO IN CONSEQUENCE VISITS JUSTINA, AND BECOMES ENAMOURED OF HER; SHE DISDAINS HIM, AND HE RETIRES TO A SOLITARY SEA-SHORE.]
[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Posthumous Poems”, 1824; dated March, 1822. There is a transcript of Scene 1 among the Hunt manuscripts, which has been collated by Mr. Buxton Forman.]
_14 So transcr.; Be worth the labour, and return for me 1824.
_16, _17 So 1824;
_21 thousand transcr.; hundred 1824.
_23 be content transcr.; bring your mind 1824.
_28 and priests transcr.; of men 1824.
_36 doting ignorance transcr.; ignorance and pride 1824.
_57 Stage Direction: So transcr. Reads. Enter the Devil as a fine
_87 in transcr.; with 1824.
_95 come the sciences]come sciences 1824.
_106 the transcr.; wanting, 1824.
_133 would transcr.; should 1824.
_157 had transcr.; wanting, 1824.
_172 descent transcr.; descending 1824.
_186 unequal only transcr.; and only unequal 1824.
_197 And]query, Ay?
_200 all cause 1824; all things transcr.
_214 Stage direction So transcr.; Exit 1824.
_228 I now hear transcr.; we hear 1824.
_227-_229 lines of otherwise arranged, 1824.
_233 race transcr.; men 1824. Colalti]Colatti 1824.
_239 of the transcr.; of its 1824.
_242 No counsel nor 1839, 1st edition;
_243 dispute transcr. pursuit 1824.
_253 well omit, cj. Forman.
O memory! permit it not
That the tyrant of my thought
Be another soul that still
Holds dominion o’er the will,
That would refuse, but can no more,
To bend, to tremble, and adore.
Vain idolatry! — I saw,
And gazing, became blind with error;
Weak ambition, which the awe
Of her presence bound to terror!
So beautiful she was — and I,
Between my love and jealousy,
Am so convulsed with hope and fear,
Unworthy as it may appear; —
So bitter is the life I live,
That, hear me, Hell! I now would give
To thy most detested spirit
My soul, for ever to inherit,
To suffer punishment and pine,
So this woman may be mine.
Hear’st thou, Hell! dost thou reject it?
My soul is offered!
I accept it.
[TEMPEST, WITH THUNDER AND LIGHTNING.]
What is this? ye heavens for ever pure,
At once intensely radiant and obscure!
Athwart the aethereal halls
The lightning’s arrow and the thunder-balls
The day affright,
As from the horizon round,
Burst with earthquake sound,
In mighty torrents the electric fountains; —
Clouds quench the sun, and thunder-smoke
Strangles the air, and fire eclipses Heaven.
Philosophy, thou canst not even
Compel their causes underneath thy yoke:
From yonder clouds even to the waves below
The fragments of a single ruin choke
For, on flakes of surge, like feathers light,
The ashes of the desolation, cast
Upon the gloomy blast,
Tell of the footsteps of the storm;
And nearer, see, the melancholy form
Of a great ship, the outcast of the sea,
And it must fly the pity of the port,
Or perish, and its last and sole resort
Is its own raging enemy.
The terror of the thrilling cry
Was a fatal prophecy
Of coming death, who hovers now
Upon that shattered prow,
That they who die not may be dying still.
And not alone the insane elements
Are populous with wild portents,
But that sad ship is as a miracle
Of sudden ruin, for it drives so fast
It seems as if it had arrayed its form
With the headlong storm.
It strikes — I almost feel the shock —
It stumbles on a jagged rock —
Sparkles of blood on the white foam are cast.
ALL EXCLAIM [WITHIN]:
We are all lost!
Now from this plank will I
Pass to the land and thus fulfil my scheme.
As in contempt of the elemental rage
A man comes forth in safety, while the ship’s
Great form is in a watery eclipse
Obliterated from the Oceans page,
And round its wreck the huge sea-monsters sit,
A horrid conclave, and the whistling wave
Is heaped over its carcase, like a grave.
[THE DAEMON ENTERS, AS ESCAPED FROM THE SEA.]
It was essential to my purposes
To wake a tumult on the sapphire ocean,
That in this unknown form I might at length
Wipe out the blot of the discomfiture
Sustained upon the mountain, and assail
With a new war the soul of Cyprian,
Forging the instruments of his destruction
Even from his love and from his wisdom. — O
Beloved earth, dear mother, in thy bosom
I seek a refuge from the monster who
Precipitates itself upon me.
Collect thyself; and be the memory
Of thy late suffering, and thy greatest sorrow
But as a shadow of the past — for nothing
Beneath the circle of the moon, but flows
And changes, and can never know repose.
And who art thou, before whose feet my fate
Has prostrated me?
One who, moved with pity,
Would soothe its stings.
Oh, that can never be!
No solace can my lasting sorrows find.
Because my happiness is lost.
Yet I lament what has long ceased to be
The object of desire or memory,
And my life is not life.
Now, since the fury
Of this earthquaking hurricane is still,
And the crystalline Heaven has reassumed
Its windless calm so quickly, that it seems
As if its heavy wrath had been awakened
Only to overwhelm that vessel — speak,
Who art thou, and whence comest thou?
My coming hither cost, than thou hast seen
Or I can tell. Among my misadventures
This shipwreck is the least. Wilt thou hear?
Since thou desirest, I will then unveil
Myself to thee; — for in myself I am
A world of happiness and misery;
This I have lost, and that I must lament
Forever. In my attributes I stood
So high and so heroically great,
In lineage so supreme, and with a genius
Which penetrated with a glance the world
Beneath my feet, that, won by my high merit,
A king — whom I may call the King of kings,
Because all others tremble in their pride
Before the terrors of His countenance,
In His high palace roofed with brightest gems
Of living light — call them the stars of Heaven —
Named me His counsellor. But the high praise
Stung me with pride and envy, and I rose
In mighty competition, to ascend
His seat and place my foot triumphantly
Upon His subject thrones. Chastised, I know
The depth to which ambition falls; too mad
Was the attempt, and yet more mad were now
Repentance of the irrevocable deed:—
Therefore I chose this ruin, with the glory
Of not to be subdued, before the shame
Of reconciling me with Him who reigns
By coward cession. — Nor was I alone,
Nor am I now, nor shall I be alone;
And there was hope, and there may still be hope,
For many suffrages among His vassals
Hailed me their lord and king, and many still
Are mine, and many more, perchance shall be.
Thus vanquished, though in fact victorious,
I left His seat of empire, from mine eye
Shooting forth poisonous lightning, while my words
With inauspicious thunderings shook Heaven,
Proclaiming vengeance, public as my wrong,
And imprecating on His prostrate slaves
Rapine, and death, and outrage. Then I sailed
Over the mighty fabric of the world —
A pirate ambushed in its pathless sands,
A lynx crouched watchfully among its caves
And craggy shores; and I have wandered over
The expanse of these wide wildernesses
In this great ship, whose bulk is now dissolved
In the light breathings of the invisible wind,
And which the sea has made a dustless ruin,
Seeking ever a mountain, through whose forests
I seek a man, whom I must now compel
To keep his word with me. I came arrayed
In tempest, and although my power could well
Bridle the forest winds in their career,
For other causes I forbore to soothe
Their fury to Favonian gentleness;
I could and would not;
(thus I wake in him
A love of magic art). Let not this tempest,
Nor the succeeding calm excite thy wonder;
For by my art the sun would turn as pale
As his weak sister with unwonted fear;
And in my wisdom are the orbs of Heaven
Written as in a record; I have pierced
The flaming circles of their wondrous spheres
And know them as thou knowest every corner
Of this dim spot. Let it not seem to thee
That I boast vainly; wouldst thou that I work
A charm over this waste and savage wood,
This Babylon of crags and aged trees,
Filling its leafy coverts with a horror
Thrilling and strange? I am the friendless guest
Of these wild oaks and pines — and as from thee
I have received the hospitality
Of this rude place, I offer thee the fruit
Of years of toil in recompense; whate’er
Thy wildest dream presented to thy thought
As object of desire, that shall be thine.
. . .
And thenceforth shall so firm an amity
‘Twixt thee and me be, that neither Fortune,
The monstrous phantom which pursues success,
That careful miser, that free prodigal,
Who ever alternates, with changeful hand,
Evil and good, reproach and fame; nor Time,
That lodestar of the ages, to whose beam
The winged years speed o’er the intervals
Of their unequal revolutions; nor
Heaven itself, whose beautiful bright stars
Rule and adorn the world, can ever make
The least division between thee and me,
Since now I find a refuge in thy favour.
_146 wide glassy wildernesses Rossetti.
_150 Seeking forever cj. Forman.
_154 forest]fiercest cj. Rossetti.
SCENE 3. THE DAEMON TEMPTS JUSTINA, WHO IS A CHRISTIAN.
Abyss of Hell! I call on thee,
Thou wild misrule of thine own anarchy!
From thy prison-house set free
The spirits of voluptuous death,
That with their mighty breath
They may destroy a world of virgin thoughts;
Let her chaste mind with fancies thick as motes
Be peopled from thy shadowy deep,
Till her guiltless fantasy
Full to overflowing be!
And with sweetest harmony,
Let birds, and flowers, and leaves, and all things move
To love, only to love.
Let nothing meet her eyes
But signs of Love’s soft victories;
Let nothing meet her ear
But sounds of Love’s sweet sorrow,
So that from faith no succour she may borrow,
But, guided by my spirit blind
And in a magic snare entwined,
She may now seek Cyprian.
Begin, while I in silence bind
My voice, when thy sweet song thou hast began.
A VOICE [WITHIN]:
What is the glory far above
All else in human life?
[WHILE THESE WORDS ARE SUNG, THE DAEMON GOES OUT AT ONE DOOR, AND JUSTINA ENTERS AT ANOTHER.]
THE FIRST VOICE:
There is no form in which the fire
Of love its traces has impressed not.
Man lives far more in love’s desire
Than by life’s breath, soon possessed not.
If all that lives must love or die,
All shapes on earth, or sea, or sky,
With one consent to Heaven cry
That the glory far above
All else in life is —
Love! oh, Love!
Thou melancholy Thought which art
So flattering and so sweet, to thee
When did I give the liberty
Thus to afflict my heart?
What is the cause of this new Power
Which doth my fevered being move,
Momently raging more and more?
What subtle Pain is kindled now
Which from my heart doth overflow
Into my senses? —
Love! oh, Love!
’Tis that enamoured Nightingale
Who gives me the reply;
He ever tells the same soft tale
Of passion and of constancy
To his mate, who rapt and fond,
Listening sits, a bough beyond.
Be silent, Nightingale — no more
Make me think, in hearing thee
Thus tenderly thy love deplore,
If a bird can feel his so,
What a man would feel for me.
And, voluptuous Vine, O thou
Who seekest most when least pursuing —
To the trunk thou interlacest
Art the verdure which embracest,
And the weight which is its ruin —
No more, with green embraces, Vine,
Make me think on what thou lovest —
For whilst thus thy boughs entwine
I fear lest thou shouldst teach me, sophist,
How arms might be entangled too.
Light-enchanted Sunflower, thou
Who gazest ever true and tender
On the sun’s revolving splendour!
Follow not his faithless glance
With thy faded countenance,
Nor teach my beating heart to fear,
If leaves can mourn without a tear,
How eyes must weep! O Nightingale,
Cease from thy enamoured tale —
Leafy Vine, unwreathe thy bower,
Restless Sunflower, cease to move —
Or tell me all, what poisonous Power
Ye use against me —
Love! Love! Love!
It cannot be! — Whom have I ever loved?
Trophies of my oblivion and disdain,
Floro and Lelio did I not reject?
And Cyprian? —
[SHE BECOMES TROUBLED AT THE NAME OF CYPRIAN.]
Did I not requite him
With such severity, that he has fled
Where none has ever heard of him again? —
Alas! I now begin to fear that this
May be the occasion whence desire grows bold,
As if there were no danger. From the moment
That I pronounced to my own listening heart,
‘Cyprian is absent!’— O me miserable!
I know not what I feel!
It must be pity
To think that such a man, whom all the world
Admired, should be forgot by all the world,
And I the cause.
[SHE AGAIN BECOMES TROUBLED.]
And yet if it were pity,
Floro and Lelio might have equal share,
For they are both imprisoned for my sake.
Alas! what reasonings are these? it is
Enough I pity him, and that, in vain,
Without this ceremonious subtlety.
And, woe is me! I know not where to find him now,
Even should I seek him through this wide world.
Follow, and I will lead thee where he is.
And who art thou, who hast found entrance hither,
Into my chamber through the doors and locks?
Art thou a monstrous shadow which my madness
Has formed in the idle air?
No. I am one
Called by the Thought which tyrannizes thee
From his eternal dwelling; who this day
Is pledged to bear thee unto Cyprian.
So shall thy promise fail. This agony
Of passion which afflicts my heart and soul
May sweep imagination in its storm;
The will is firm.
Already half is done
In the imagination of an act.
The sin incurred, the pleasure then remains;
Let not the will stop half-way on the road.
I will not be discouraged, nor despair,
Although I thought it, and although ’tis true
That thought is but a prelude to the deed:—
Thought is not in my power, but action is:
I will not move my foot to follow thee.
But a far mightier wisdom than thine own
Exerts itself within thee, with such power
Compelling thee to that which it inclines
That it shall force thy step; how wilt thou then
By my free-will.
Must force thy will.
It is invincible;
It were not free if thou hadst power upon it.
[HE DRAWS, BUT CANNOT MOVE HER.]
Come, where a pleasure waits thee.
It were bought
’Twill soothe thy heart to softest peace.
’Tis dread captivity.
’Tis joy, ’tis glory.
’Tis shame, ’tis torment, ’tis despair.
Canst thou defend thyself from that or me,
If my power drags thee onward?
Consists in God.
[HE VAINLY ENDEAVOURS TO FORCE HER, AND AT LAST RELEASES HER.]
Woman, thou hast subdued me,
Only by not owning thyself subdued.
But since thou thus findest defence in God,
I will assume a feigned form, and thus
Make thee a victim of my baffled rage.
For I will mask a spirit in thy form
Who will betray thy name to infamy,
And doubly shall I triumph in thy loss,
First by dishonouring thee, and then by turning
False pleasure to true ignominy.
Appeal to Heaven against thee; so that Heaven
May scatter thy delusions, and the blot
Upon my fame vanish in idle thought,
Even as flame dies in the envious air,
And as the floweret wanes at morning frost;
And thou shouldst never — But, alas! to whom
Do I still speak? — Did not a man but now
Stand here before me? — No, I am alone,
And yet I saw him. Is he gone so quickly?
Or can the heated mind engender shapes
From its own fear? Some terrible and strange
Peril is near. Lisander! father! lord!
[ENTER LISANDER AND LIVIA.]
Oh, my daughter! What?
A man go forth from my apartment now? —
I scarce contain myself!
A man here!
Have you not seen him?
JUSTINA: I saw him.
LISANDER: ’Tis impossible; the doors
Which led to this apartment were all locked.
I daresay it was Moscon whom she saw,
For he was locked up in my room.
Have been some image of thy fantasy.
Such melancholy as thou feedest is
Skilful in forming such in the vain air
Out of the motes and atoms of the day.
My master’s in the right.
Oh, would it were
Delusion; but I fear some greater ill.
I feel as if out of my bleeding bosom
My heart was torn in fragments; ay,
Some mortal spell is wrought against my frame;
So potent was the charm that, had not God
Shielded my humble innocence from wrong,
I should have sought my sorrow and my shame
With willing steps. — Livia, quick, bring my cloak,
For I must seek refuge from these extremes
Even in the temple of the highest God
Where secretly the faithful worship.
JUSTINA [PUTTING ON HER CLOAK]:
In this, as in a shroud of snow, may I
Quench the consuming fire in which I burn,
And I will go with thee.
When I once see them safe out of the house
I shall breathe freely.
So do I confide
In thy just favour, Heaven!
Let us go.
Thine is the cause, great God! turn for my sake,
And for Thine own, mercifully to me!
_18 she may]may she 1824.
_36 flattering Boscombe manuscript; fluttering 1824.
_58 To]Who to cj. Rossetti.
_63 whilst thus Rossetti, Forman, Dowden; whilst thou thus 1824.
_89 me miserable]miserable me editions 1839.
_123 inclines]inclines to cj. Rossetti.
_179 Where Rossetti; Which 1824.
Hast thou not seen, officious with delight,
Move through the illumined air about the flower
The Bee, that fears to drink its purple light,
Lest danger lurk within that Rose’s bower?
Hast thou not marked the moth’s enamoured flight
About the Taper’s flame at evening hour;
‘Till kindle in that monumental fire
His sunflower wings their own funereal pyre?
My heart, its wishes trembling to unfold.
Thus round the Rose and Taper hovering came,
‘And Passion’s slave, Distrust, in ashes cold.
Smothered awhile, but could not quench the flame,’—
Till Love, that grows by disappointment bold,
And Opportunity, had conquered Shame;
And like the Bee and Moth, in act to close,
‘I burned my wings, and settled on the Rose.’
[Published by Medwin, “Life of Shelley”, 1847, with Shelley’s corrections in ‘’.]
SCENE 1. — PROLOGUE IN HEAVEN. THE LORD AND THE HOST OF HEAVEN. ENTER THREE ARCHANGELS.
The sun makes music as of old
Amid the rival spheres of Heaven,
On its predestined circle rolled
With thunder speed: the Angels even
Draw strength from gazing on its glance,
Though none its meaning fathom may:—
The world’s unwithered countenance
Is bright as at Creation’s day.
And swift and swift, with rapid lightness,
The adorned Earth spins silently,
Alternating Elysian brightness
With deep and dreadful night; the sea
Foams in broad billows from the deep
Up to the rocks, and rocks and Ocean,
Onward, with spheres which never sleep,
Are hurried in eternal motion.
And tempests in contention roar
From land to sea, from sea to land;
And, raging, weave a chain of power,
Which girds the earth, as with a band. —
A flashing desolation there,
Flames before the thunder’s way;
But Thy servants, Lord, revere
The gentle changes of Thy day.
CHORUS OF THE THREE:
The Angels draw strength from Thy glance,
Though no one comprehend Thee may; —
Thy world’s unwithered countenance
Is bright as on Creation’s day.
The sun sounds, according to ancient custom,
In the song of emulation of his brother-spheres.
And its fore-written circle
Fulfils with a step of thunder.
Its countenance gives the Angels strength
Though no one can fathom it.
The incredible high works
Are excellent as at the first day.
And swift, and inconceivably swift
The adornment of earth winds itself round,
And exchanges Paradise-clearness
With deep dreadful night.
The sea foams in broad waves
From its deep bottom, up to the rocks,
And rocks and sea are torn on together
In the eternal swift course of the spheres.
And storms roar in emulation
From sea to land, from land to sea,
And make, raging, a chain
Of deepest operation round about.
There flames a flashing destruction
Before the path of the thunderbolt.
But Thy servants, Lord, revere
The gentle alternations of Thy day.
Thy countenance gives the Angels strength,
Though none can comprehend Thee:
And all Thy lofty works
Are excellent as at the first day.
As thou, O Lord, once more art kind enough
To interest Thyself in our affairs,
And ask, ‘How goes it with you there below?’
And as indulgently at other times
Thou tookest not my visits in ill part,
Thou seest me here once more among Thy household.
Though I should scandalize this company,
You will excuse me if I do not talk
In the high style which they think fashionable;
My pathos certainly would make You laugh too,
Had You not long since given over laughing.
Nothing know I to say of suns and worlds;
I observe only how men plague themselves; —
The little god o’ the world keeps the same stamp,
As wonderful as on creation’s day:—
A little better would he live, hadst Thou
Not given him a glimpse of Heaven’s light
Which he calls reason, and employs it only
To live more beastlily than any beast.
With reverence to Your Lordship be it spoken,
He’s like one of those long-legged grasshoppers,
Who flits and jumps about, and sings for ever
The same old song i’ the grass. There let him lie,
Burying his nose in every heap of dung.
Have you no more to say? Do you come here
Always to scold, and cavil, and complain?
Seems nothing ever right to you on earth?
No, Lord! I find all there, as ever, bad at best.
Even I am sorry for man’s days of sorrow;
I could myself almost give up the pleasure
Of plaguing the poor things.
Knowest thou Faust?
Ay; My servant Faust.
He serves You in a fashion quite his own;
And the fool’s meat and drink are not of earth.
His aspirations bear him on so far
That he is half aware of his own folly,
For he demands from Heaven its fairest star,
And from the earth the highest joy it bears,
Yet all things far, and all things near, are vain
To calm the deep emotions of his breast.
Though he now serves Me in a cloud of error,
I will soon lead him forth to the clear day.
When trees look green, full well the gardener knows
That fruits and blooms will deck the coming year.
What will You bet? — now am sure of winning —
Only, observe You give me full permission
To lead him softly on my path.
As he shall live upon the earth, so long
Is nothing unto thee forbidden — Man
Must err till he has ceased to struggle.
And that is all I ask; for willingly
I never make acquaintance with the dead.
The full fresh cheeks of youth are food for me,
And if a corpse knocks, I am not at home.
For I am like a cat — I like to play
A little with the mouse before I eat it.
Well, well! it is permitted thee. Draw thou
His spirit from its springs; as thou find’st power
Seize him and lead him on thy downward path;
And stand ashamed when failure teaches thee
That a good man, even in his darkest longings,
Is well aware of the right way.
Well and good.
I am not in much doubt about my bet,
And if I lose, then ’tis Your turn to crow;
Enjoy Your triumph then with a full breast.
Ay; dust shall he devour, and that with pleasure,
Like my old paramour, the famous Snake.
Pray come here when it suits you; for I never
Had much dislike for people of your sort.
And, among all the Spirits who rebelled,
The knave was ever the least tedious to Me.
The active spirit of man soon sleeps, and soon
He seeks unbroken quiet; therefore I
Have given him the Devil for a companion,
Who may provoke him to some sort of work,
And must create forever. — But ye, pure
Children of God, enjoy eternal beauty; —
Let that which ever operates and lives
Clasp you within the limits of its love;
And seize with sweet and melancholy thoughts
The floating phantoms of its loveliness.
[HEAVEN CLOSES; THE ARCHANGELS EXEUNT.]
From time to time I visit the old fellow,
And I take care to keep on good terms with Him.
Civil enough is the same God Almighty,
To talk so freely with the Devil himself.
[Published in part (Scene 2) in “The Liberal”, No. 1, 1822; in full, by Mrs. Shelley, “Posthumous Poems”, 1824.]
_28 (RAPHAEL: Such is a literal translation of this astonishing chorus; it is impossible to represent in another language the melody of the versification; even the volatile strength and delicacy of the ideas escape in the crucible of translation, and the reader is surprised to find a caput mortuum. —[SHELLEY’S NOTE.])
_38 certainly would editions 1839; would certainly 1824.
_47 beastlily 1824; beastily editions 1839.
SCENE 2. — MAY-DAY NIGHT. THE HARTZ MOUNTAIN, A DESOLATE COUNTRY. FAUST, MEPHISTOPHELES.
Would you not like a broomstick? As for me
I wish I had a good stout ram to ride;
For we are still far from the appointed place.
This knotted staff is help enough for me,
Whilst I feel fresh upon my legs. What good
Is there in making short a pleasant way?
To creep along the labyrinths of the vales,
And climb those rocks, where ever-babbling springs,
Precipitate themselves in waterfalls,
Is the true sport that seasons such a path.
Already Spring kindles the birchen spray,
And the hoar pines already feel her breath:
Shall she not work also within our limbs?
Nothing of such an influence do I feel.
My body is all wintry, and I wish
The flowers upon our path were frost and snow.
But see how melancholy rises now,
Dimly uplifting her belated beam,
The blank unwelcome round of the red moon,
And gives so bad a light, that every step
One stumbles ‘gainst some crag. With your permission,
I’ll call on Ignis-fatuus to our aid:
I see one yonder burning jollily.
Halloo, my friend! may I request that you
Would favour us with your bright company?
Why should you blaze away there to no purpose?
Pray be so good as light us up this way.
With reverence be it spoken, I will try
To overcome the lightness of my nature;
Our course, you know, is generally zigzag.
Ha, ha! your worship thinks you have to deal
With men. Go straight on, in the Devil’s name,
Or I shall puff your flickering life out.
I see you are the master of the house;
I will accommodate myself to you.
Only consider that to-night this mountain
Is all enchanted, and if Jack-a-lantern
Shows you his way, though you should miss your own,
You ought not to be too exact with him.
FAUST, MEPHISTOPHELES, AND IGNIS-FATUUS, IN ALTERNATE CHORUS:
The limits of the sphere of dream,
The bounds of true and false, are past.
Lead us on, thou wandering Gleam,
Lead us onward, far and fast,
To the wide, the desert waste.
But see, how swift advance and shift
Trees behind trees, row by row —
How, clift by clift, rocks bend and lift
Their frowning foreheads as we go.
The giant-snouted crags, ho! ho!
How they snort, and how they blow!
Through the mossy sods and stones,
Stream and streamlet hurry down —
A rushing throng! A sound of song
Beneath the vault of Heaven is blown!
Sweet notes of love, the speaking tones
Of this bright day, sent down to say
That Paradise on Earth is known,
Resound around, beneath, above.
All we hope and all we love
Finds a voice in this blithe strain,
Which wakens hill and wood and rill,
And vibrates far o’er field and vale,
And which Echo, like the tale
Of old times, repeats again.
To-whoo! to-whoo! near, nearer now
The sound of song, the rushing throng!
Are the screech, the lapwing, and the jay,
All awake as if ’twere day?
See, with long legs and belly wide,
A salamander in the brake!
Every root is like a snake,
And along the loose hillside,
With strange contortions through the night,
Curls, to seize or to affright;
And, animated, strong, and many,
They dart forth polypus-antennae,
To blister with their poison spume
The wanderer. Through the dazzling gloom
The many-coloured mice, that thread
The dewy turf beneath our tread,
In troops each other’s motions cross,
Through the heath and through the moss;
And, in legions intertangled,
The fire-flies flit, and swarm, and throng,
Till all the mountain depths are spangled.
Tell me, shall we go or stay?
Shall we onward? Come along!
Everything around is swept
Forward, onward, far away!
Trees and masses intercept
The sight, and wisps on every side
Are puffed up and multiplied.
Now vigorously seize my skirt, and gain
This pinnacle of isolated crag.
One may observe with wonder from this point,
How Mammon glows among the mountains.
And strangely through the solid depth below
A melancholy light, like the red dawn,
Shoots from the lowest gorge of the abyss
Of mountains, lightning hitherward: there rise
Pillars of smoke, here clouds float gently by;
Here the light burns soft as the enkindled air,
Or the illumined dust of golden flowers;
And now it glides like tender colours spreading;
And now bursts forth in fountains from the earth;
And now it winds, one torrent of broad light,
Through the far valley with a hundred veins;
And now once more within that narrow corner
Masses itself into intensest splendour.
And near us, see, sparks spring out of the ground,
Like golden sand scattered upon the darkness;
The pinnacles of that black wall of mountains
That hems us in are kindled.
Rare: in faith!
Does not Sir Mammon gloriously illuminate
His palace for this festival? — it is
A pleasure which you had not known before.
I spy the boisterous guests already.
The children of the wind rage in the air!
With what fierce strokes they fall upon my neck!
Cling tightly to the old ribs of the crag.
Beware! for if with them thou warrest
In their fierce flight towards the wilderness,
Their breath will sweep thee into dust, and drag
Thy body to a grave in the abyss.
A cloud thickens the night.
Hark! how the tempest crashes through the forest!
The owls fly out in strange affright;
The columns of the evergreen palaces
Are split and shattered;
The roots creak, and stretch, and groan;
And ruinously overthrown,
The trunks are crushed and shattered
By the fierce blast’s unconquerable stress.
Over each other crack and crash they all
In terrible and intertangled fall;
And through the ruins of the shaken mountain
The airs hiss and howl —
It is not the voice of the fountain,
Nor the wolf in his midnight prowl.
Dost thou not hear?
Strange accents are ringing
Aloft, afar, anear?
The witches are singing!
The torrent of a raging wizard song
Streams the whole mountain along.
CHORUS OF WITCHES:
The stubble is yellow, the corn is green,
Now to the Brocken the witches go;
The mighty multitude here may be seen
Gathering, wizard and witch, below.
Sir Urian is sitting aloft in the air;
Hey over stock! and hey over stone!
‘Twixt witches and incubi, what shall be done?
Tell it who dare! tell it who dare!
Upon a sow-swine, whose farrows were nine,
Old Baubo rideth alone.
Honour her, to whom honour is due,
Old mother Baubo, honour to you!
An able sow, with old Baubo upon her,
Is worthy of glory, and worthy of honour!
The legion of witches is coming behind,
Darkening the night, and outspeeding the wind —
Which way comest thou?
The owl was awake in the white moonshine;
I saw her at rest in her downy nest,
And she stared at me with her broad, bright eyne.
And you may now as well take your course on to Hell,
Since you ride by so fast on the headlong blast.
She dropped poison upon me as I passed.
Here are the wounds —
CHORUS OF WITCHES:
Come away! come along!
The way is wide, the way is long,
But what is that for a Bedlam throng?
Stick with the prong, and scratch with the broom.
The child in the cradle lies strangled at home,
And the mother is clapping her hands. —
SEMICHORUS OF WIZARDS 1:
We glide in
Like snails when the women are all away;
And from a house once given over to sin
Woman has a thousand steps to stray.
A thousand steps must a woman take,
Where a man but a single spring will make.
Come with us, come with us, from Felsensee.
Felumee 1822; Felunsee editions 1824, 1839.
With what joy would we fly through the upper sky!
We are washed, we are ‘nointed, stark naked are we;
But our toil and our pain are forever in vain.
The wind is still, the stars are fled,
The melancholy moon is dead;
The magic notes, like spark on spark,
Drizzle, whistling through the dark. Come away!
Stay, Oh, stay!
Out of the crannies of the rocks
Oh, let me join your flocks!
I, three hundred years have striven
To catch your skirt and mount to Heaven —
And still in vain. Oh, might I be
With company akin to me!
Some on a ram and some on a prong,
On poles and on broomsticks we flutter along;
Forlorn is the wight who can rise not to-night.
A HALF-WITCH BELOW:
I have been tripping this many an hour:
Are the others already so far before?
No quiet at home, and no peace abroad!
And less methinks is found by the road.
CHORUS OF WITCHES:
Come onward, away! aroint thee, aroint!
A witch to be strong must anoint — anoint —
Then every trough will be boat enough;
With a rag for a sail we can sweep through the sky,
Who flies not to-night, when means he to fly?
We cling to the skirt, and we strike on the ground;
Witch-legions thicken around and around;
Wizard-swarms cover the heath all over.
What thronging, dashing, raging, rustling;
What whispering, babbling, hissing, bustling;
What glimmering, spurting, stinking, burning,
As Heaven and Earth were overturning.
There is a true witch element about us;
Take hold on me, or we shall be divided:—
Where are you?
FAUST [FROM A DISTANCE]:
I must exert my authority in the house.
Place for young Voland! pray make way, good people.
Take hold on me, doctor, an with one step
Let us escape from this unpleasant crowd:
They are too mad for people of my sort.
Just there shines a peculiar kind of light —
Something attracts me in those bushes. Come
This way: we shall slip down there in a minute.
Spirit of Contradiction! Well, lead on —
’Twere a wise feat indeed to wander out
Into the Brocken upon May-day night,
And then to isolate oneself in scorn,
Disgusted with the humours of the time.
See yonder, round a many-coloured flame
A merry club is huddled altogether:
Even with such little people as sit there
One would not be alone.
Would that I were
Up yonder in the glow and whirling smoke,
Where the blind million rush impetuously
To meet the evil ones; there might I solve
Many a riddle that torments me.
Many a riddle there is tied anew
Inextricably. Let the great world rage!
We will stay here safe in the quiet dwellings.
’Tis an old custom. Men have ever built
Their own small world in the great world of all.
I see young witches naked there, and old ones
Wisely attired with greater decency.
Be guided now by me, and you shall buy
A pound of pleasure with a dram of trouble.
I hear them tune their instruments — one must
Get used to this damned scraping. Come, I’ll lead you
Among them; and what there you do and see,
As a fresh compact ‘twixt us two shall be.
How say you now? this space is wide enough —
Look forth, you cannot see the end of it —
An hundred bonfires burn in rows, and they
Who throng around them seem innumerable:
Dancing and drinking, jabbering, making love,
And cooking, are at work. Now tell me, friend,
What is there better in the world than this?
In introducing us, do you assume
The character of Wizard or of Devil?
In truth, I generally go about
In strict incognito; and yet one likes
To wear one’s orders upon gala days.
I have no ribbon at my knee; but here
At home, the cloven foot is honourable.
See you that snail there? — she comes creeping up,
And with her feeling eyes hath smelt out something.
I could not, if I would, mask myself here.
Come now, we’ll go about from fire to fire:
I’ll be the Pimp, and you shall be the Lover.
[TO SOME OLD WOMEN, WHO ARE SITTING ROUND A HEAP OF GLIMMERING COALS.]
Old gentlewomen, what do you do out here?
You ought to be with the young rioters
Right in the thickest of the revelry —
But every one is best content at home.
Who dare confide in right or a just claim?
So much as I had done for them! and now —
With women and the people ’tis the same,
Youth will stand foremost ever — age may go
To the dark grave unhonoured.
People assert their rights: they go too far;
But as for me, the good old times I praise;
Then we were all in all —’twas something worth
One’s while to be in place and wear a star;
That was indeed the golden age on earth.
We too are active, and we did and do
What we ought not, perhaps; and yet we now
Will seize, whilst all things are whirled round and round,
A spoke of Fortune’s wheel, and keep our ground.
Who now can taste a treatise of deep sense
And ponderous volume? ’tis impertinence
To write what none will read, therefore will I
To please the young and thoughtless people try.
MEPHISTOPHELES [WHO AT ONCE APPEARS TO HAVE GROWN VERY OLD]:
find the people ripe for the last day,
Since I last came up to the wizard mountain;
And as my little cask runs turbid now,
So is the world drained to the dregs.
Gentlemen; do not hurry on so fast;
And lose the chance of a good pennyworth.
I have a pack full of the choicest wares
Of every sort, and yet in all my bundle
Is nothing like what may be found on earth;
Nothing that in a moment will make rich
Men and the world with fine malicious mischief —
There is no dagger drunk with blood; no bowl
From which consuming poison may be drained
By innocent and healthy lips; no jewel,
The price of an abandoned maiden’s shame;
No sword which cuts the bond it cannot loose,
Or stabs the wearer’s enemy in the back;
Gossip, you know little of these times.
What has been, has been; what is done, is past,
They shape themselves into the innovations
They breed, and innovation drags us with it.
The torrent of the crowd sweeps over us:
You think to impel, and are yourself impelled.
What is that yonder?
Mark her well. It is
Lilith, the first wife of Adam.
Beware of her fair hair, for she excels
All women in the magic of her locks;
And when she winds them round a young man’s neck,
She will not ever set him free again.
There sit a girl and an old woman — they
Seem to be tired with pleasure and with play.
There is no rest to-night for any one:
When one dance ends another is begun;
Come, let us to it. We shall have rare fun.
[FAUST DANCES AND SINGS WITH A GIRL, AND MEPHISTOPHELES WITH AN OLD WOMAN.]
I had once a lovely dream
In which I saw an apple-tree,
Where two fair apples with their gleam
To climb and taste attracted me.
She with apples you desired
From Paradise came long ago:
With you I feel that if required,
Such still within my garden grow.
. . .
What is this cursed multitude about?
Have we not long since proved to demonstration
That ghosts move not on ordinary feet?
But these are dancing just like men and women.
What does he want then at our ball?
Is far above us all in his conceit:
Whilst we enjoy, he reasons of enjoyment;
And any step which in our dance we tread,
If it be left out of his reckoning,
Is not to be considered as a step.
There are few things that scandalize him not:
And when you whirl round in the circle now,
As he went round the wheel in his old mill,
He says that you go wrong in all respects,
Especially if you congratulate him
Upon the strength of the resemblance.
Vanish! Unheard-of impudence! What, still there!
In this enlightened age too, since you have been
Proved not to exist! — But this infernal brood
Will hear no reason and endure no rule.
Are we so wise, and is the POND still haunted?
How long have I been sweeping out this rubbish
Of superstition, and the world will not
Come clean with all my pains! — it is a case
Then leave off teasing us so.
I tell you, spirits, to your faces now,
That I should not regret this despotism
Of spirits, but that mine can wield it not.
To-night I shall make poor work of it,
Yet I will take a round with you, and hope
Before my last step in the living dance
To beat the poet and the devil together.
At last he will sit down in some foul puddle;
That is his way of solacing himself;
Until some leech, diverted with his gravity,
Cures him of spirits and the spirit together.
[TO FAUST, WHO HAS SECEDED FROM THE DANCE.]
Why do you let that fair girl pass from you,
Who sung so sweetly to you in the dance?
A red mouse in the middle of her singing
Sprung from her mouth.
That was all right, my friend:
Be it enough that the mouse was not gray.
Do not disturb your hour of happiness
With close consideration of such trifles.
Then saw I—
Seest thou not a pale,
Fair girl, standing alone, far, far away?
She drags herself now forward with slow steps,
And seems as if she moved with shackled feet:
I cannot overcome the thought that she
Is like poor Margaret.
Let it be — pass on —
No good can come of it — it is not well
To meet it — it is an enchanted phantom,
A lifeless idol; with its numbing look,
It freezes up the blood of man; and they
Who meet its ghastly stare are turned to stone,
Like those who saw Medusa.
Oh, too true!
Her eyes are like the eyes of a fresh corpse
Which no beloved hand has closed, alas!
That is the breast which Margaret yielded to me —
Those are the lovely limbs which I enjoyed!
It is all magic, poor deluded fool!
She looks to every one like his first love.
Oh, what delight! what woe! I cannot turn
My looks from her sweet piteous countenance.
How strangely does a single blood-red line,
Not broader than the sharp edge of a knife,
Adorn her lovely neck!
Ay, she can carry
Her head under her arm upon occasion;
Perseus has cut it off for her. These pleasures
End in delusion. — Gain this rising ground,
It is as airy here as in a . . .
And if I am not mightily deceived,
I see a theatre. — What may this mean?
Quite a new piece, the last of seven, for ’tis
The custom now to represent that number.
’Tis written by a Dilettante, and
The actors who perform are Dilettanti;
Excuse me, gentlemen; but I must vanish.
I am a Dilettante curtain-lifter.
_33 shall puff 1824; will blow 1822.
_48 frowning]fawning 1822.
_70 brake 1824; lake 1822.
_117 How 1824; Now 1822.
_132 shattered]scattered Rossetti.
_150 Urian]Urean editions 1824, 1839.
_165 eyne 1839, 2nd edition; eye 1822, 1824, 1839, 1st edition.
_180 Felsensee 1862 (“Relics of Shelley”, page 96);
_183 are editions 1839; is 1822, 1824.
_217 What! wanting, 1822.
_254 An 1824; A editions 1839.
_264 my wanting, 1822.
_275 right editions 1824, 1839; night 1822.
_285 Parvenu: (Note) A sort of fundholder 1822, editions 1824, 1839.
_290 ponderous 1824; wonderous 1822.
_327-_334 So Boscombe manuscript (“Westminster Review”, July, 1870); wanting, 1822, 1824, 1839.
_335 Procto-Phantasmist]Brocto-Phantasmist editions 1824, 1839.
_355 pond wanting in Boscombe manuscript.
_392 breast editions 1839; heart 1822, 1824.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00