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Is sure enough to make a mortal man

Grow impious." So he inwardly began

On things for which no wording can be found;

Deeper and deeper sinking, until drown'd

Beyond the reach of music : for the choir

Of Cynthia he heard not, though rough brier

Nor muffling thicket interposed to dull

The vesper hymn, far swollen, soft and full,

Through the dark pillars of those sylvan aisles.

He saw not the two maidens, nor their smiles,

Wan as primroses gather'd at midnight

By chilly-finger'd spring. Unhappy wight!

"Endymion !" said Peona, "we are here!

What wouldst thou ere we all are laid on bier?"

Then he embraced her, and his lady's hand

Press'd, saying: "Sister, I would have command,

If it were heaven's will, on our sad fate."

At which that dark-eyed stranger stood elate

And said, in a new voice, but sweet as love,

To Endymion's amaze : "By Cupid's dove,

And so thou shalt! and by the lily truth

Of my own breast thou shalt, beloved youth!"

And as she spake, into her face there came

Light, as reflected from a silver flame:

Her long black hair swell'd ampler, in display

Full golden ; in her eyes a brighter day

Dawn'd blue, and full of love. Aye, he beheld

Phoebe, his passion! joyous she upheld

Her lucid bow, continuing thus: "Drear, drear

Has our delaying been ; but foolish fear

Withheld me first; and then decrees of fate;

And then 't was fit that from this mortal state

Thou shouldst, my love, by some unlook'd-for change

Be spiritualised. Peona, we shall range

These forests, and to thee they safe shall be

As was thy cradle ; hither shalt thou flee

To meet us many a time." Next Cynthia bright

Peona kiss'd, and bless'd with fair good night:

Her brother kissed her too, and knelt adown

Before his goddess, in a blissful swoon.

She gave her fair hands to him, and behold,

Before three swiftest kisses he had told,

They vanish'd far away !—Peona went

Home through the gloomy wood in wonderment.



Upon a time, before the faery broods

Drove Nymph and Satyr from the prosperous woods,

Before King Oberon's bright diadem,

Sceptre, and mantle, clasp'd with dewy gem,

Frighted away the Dryads and the Fauns

From rushes green, and brakes, and cowslipp'd lawns,

The ever-smitten Hermes empty left

His golden throne, bent warm on amorous theft:

From high Olympus had he stolen light,

On this side of Jove's clouds, to escape the sight

Of his great summoner, and made retreat

Into a forest on the shores of Crete.

For somewhere in that sacred island dwelt

A nymph, to whom all hoofed Satyrs knelt;

At whose white feet the languid Tritons pour'd

Pearls, while on land they wither'd and adored.

Fast by the springs where she to bathe was wont,

And in those meads where sometimes she might haunt,

Were strewn rich gifts, unknown to any Muse,

Though Fancy's casket were unlock'd to choose.

Ah, what a world of love was at her feet!

So Hermes thought, and a celestial heat

Burn'd from his winged heels to either ear,

That from a whiteness, as the lily clear,

Blush'd into roses 'mid his golden hair,

Fallen in jealous curls about his shoulders bare.

From vale to vale, from wood to wood, he flew,

Breathing upon the flowers his passion new,

And wound with many a river to its head,

To find where this sweet nymph prepared her secret bed:

In vain; the sweet nymph might nowhere be found,

And so he rested, on the lonely ground,

Pensive, and full of painful jealousies

Of the Wood-Gods, and even the very trees.

There as he stood, he heard a mournful voice,

Such as once heard, in gentle heart, destroys

All pain but pity : thus the lone voice spake:

"When from this wreathed tomb shall I awake!

When move in a sweet body fit for life,

And love, and pleasure, and the ruddy strife

Of hearts and lips ! Ah, miserable me I"

The God, dove-footed, glided silently

Round bush and tree, soft-brushing, in his speed,

The taller grasses and full-flowering weed,

Until he found a palpitating snake,

Bright, and cirque-couchant in a dusky brake.

She was a gordian shape of dazzling hue, Vermilion-spotted, golden, green, and blue; Striped like a zebra, freckled like a pard, Eyed like a peacock, and all crimson barr'd; And full of silver moons, that, as she breathed, Dissolved, or brighter shone, or interwreathed Their lustres with the gloomier tapestries— So rainbow-sided, touch'd with miseries, She seem'd at once, some penanced lady elf, Some demon's mistress, or the demon's self. Upon her crest she wore a wannish fire Sprinkled with stars, like Ariadne's tiar: Her head was serpent, but ah, bitter-sweet! She had a woman's mouth with all its pearls complete: And for her eyes—what could such eyes do there But weep, and weep, that they were born so fair? As Proserpine still weeps for her Sicilian air. Her throat was serpent, but the words she spake Came, as through bubbling honey, for Love's sake, And thus ; while Hermes on his pinions lay, Like a stoop'd falcon ere he takes his prey:

"Fair Hermes! crown'd with feathers, fluttering light, I had a splendid dream of thee last night: I saw thee sitting, on a throne of gold, Among the Gods, upon Olympus old, The only sad one ; for thou didst not hear The soft, lute-finger'd Muses chanting clear, Nor even Apollo when he sang alone, Deaf to his throbbing throat's long, long melodious moan.

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