Imagens da página
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

The night seemed long, and long the twilight | With something like to hope, and all that day seemed,

Some tender words he ever found to say ; A vain thing seemed his flowery garden fair ; Though through the night still of his work he And still he felt as something heard him speak ; dreamed,

Sometimes he praised her beauty, and sometimes And though his smooth-stemmed trees so nigh it Reproached her in a feeble voice and weak,

And at the last drew forth a book of rhymes, were, That thence he could behold the marble hair ;

| Wherein were writ the tales of many climes, Naught was enough, until with steel in hand

And read aloud the sweetness hid therein He came before the wondrous stone to stand.

Of lovers' sorrows and their tangled sin.

And when the sun went down, the frankincense Blinded with tears, his chisel up he caught,

Again upon the altar-flame he cast · And, drawing near, and sighing, tenderly

That through the open window floating thence Upon the marvel of the face he wrought,

O'er the fresh odors of the garden passed ; E'en as he used to pass the long days by ;

And so another day was gone at last, But his sighs changed to sobbing presently,

And he no more his lovelorn watch could keep, And on the floor the useless steel he flung,

But now for utter weariness must sleep. And, weeping loud, about the image clung.

But the next morn, e'en while the incense-smoke "Alas!” he cried, “why have I made thee then, At sunrising curled round about her head, That thus thou mockest me? I know indeed Sweet sound of songs the wonted quiet broke That many such as thou are loved of men, Down in the street, and he by something led, Whose passionate eyes poor wretches still will lead He knew not what, must leave his prayer unsaid, Into their net, and smile to see them bleed; And through the freshness of the morn must see But these the Gods made, and this hand made thee The folk who went with that sweet minstrelsy ; Who wilt not speak one little word to me."

Damsels and youths in wonderful attire, Then from the image did he draw aback

And in their midst upon a car of gold To gaze on it through tears : and you had said,

ears. and you had aaid. An image of the Mother of Desire, Regarding it, that little did it lack

Wrought by his hands in days that seemed grown To be a living and most lovely maid;

old, Naked it was, its unbound locks were laid

Though those sweet limbs a garment did enfold. Over the lovely shoulders ; with one hand Colored like flame, enwrought with precious Reached out, as to a lover, did it stand,

things,

Most fit to be the prize of striving kings. The other held a fair rose over-blown ;

Then he remembered that the manner was No smile was on the parted lips, the eyes That fair-clad priests the lovely Queen should take Seemed as if even now great love had shown

Thrice in the year, and through the city pass, Unto them something of its sweet surprise,

And with sweet songs the dreaming folk awake ; Yet saddened them with half-seen mysteries,

And through the clouds a light there seemed to And still midst passion maiden-like she seemed,

break As though of luve unchanged for aye she dreamed. When he remembered all the tales well told

About her glorious kindly deeds of old.
Reproachfully beholding all her grace,
Pyginalion stood, until he grew dry-eyed,

So his unfinished prayer he finished not,
And then at last he turned away his face But, kneeling, once more kissed the marble feet,
As if from her cold eyes his grief to hide ; And, while his heart with many thoughts waxed
And thus a weary while did he abide,

hot, With nothing in his heart but vain desire, He clad himself with fresh attire and meet The ever-burning, unconsuming fire.

For that bright service, and with blossoms sweet

Entwined with tender leaves he crowned his head, No word indeed the moveless image said, And followed after as the goddess led. But with the sweet grave eyes his hands had wrought

So there he stood, that help from her to gain, Still gazed down on his bowed imploring head, Bewildered by that twilight midst of day; Yet his own words some solace to him brought, Downcast with listening to the joyous strain Gilding the net wherein his soul was caught He had no part in, hopeless with delay

Of all the fair things he had meant to say: 10 dear companion of my new-found life,
Yet, as the incense on the flame he cast,

For I am called thy lover and thy wife?
From stammering lips and pale these words there
passed, —

She reached her hand to him, and with kind eyes

Gazed into his ; but he the fingers caught “O thou forgotten help, dost thou yet know And drew her to him, and midst ecstasies What thing it is I need, when even 1,

Passing all words, yea, wellnigh passing thought, Bent down before thee in this shame and woe, Felt that sweet breath that he so long had sought, Can frame no set of words to tell thee why Felt the warm life within her heaving breast I needs must pray, O help me or I die! As in his arms his living love he pressed. Or slay me, and in slaying take from me Even a dead man's feeble memory.

But as his cheek touched hers he heard her say,

“Wilt thou not speak, Olove? why dost thou weep? Yet soon, indeed, before his door he stood, | Art thou then sorry for this long-wished day, And, as a man awaking from a dream,

Or dost thou think perchance thou wilt not keep Seemed waked from his old folly; naught seemed This that thou holdest, but in dreamy sleep! good

Nay, let us do the bidding of the Queen, In all the things that he before had deemed | And hand in hand walk through thy garden green; At least worth life, and on his heart there streamed Cold light of day, — he found himself alone,

“Then shalt thou tell me, still beholding me, Reft of desire, all love and madness gone.

Full many things whereof I wish to know,
And as we walk from whispering tree to tree

Still more familiar to thee shall I grow,
Thus to his chamber at the last he came,

And such things shalt thou say unto me now And, pushing through the still half-opened door, He stood within ; but there, for very shame

As when thou deemedst thou wast quite alone, Of all the things that he had done before,

A madman kneeling to a thing of stone." Still kept his eyes bent down upon the floor,

But at that word a smile lit up his eyes Thinking of all that he had done and said

And therewithal he spake some loving word, Since he had wrought that luckless marble maid. And she at first looked up in grave surprise

When his deep voice and musical she heard, Yet soft his thoughts were, and the very place

| And clung to him as somewhat grown afеard ; Seemed perfumed with some nameless heavenly air.

air. Then cried aloud and said, “O mighty one! So gaining courage, did he raise his face

What joy with thee to look upon the sun!” Unto the work his hands had made so fair, And cried aloud to see the niche all bare

Then into that fair garden did they pass, Of that sweet form, while through his heart again And all the story of his love he told, There shot a pang of his old yearning pain.

And as the twain went o'er the dewy grass,

Beneath the risen moon could he behold Yet while he stood, and knew not what to do the bright tears trickling down, then, waxen bold, With yearning, a strange thrill of hope there came, He stopped and said, “Ah, love, what meaneth A shaft of new desire now pierced him through,

this? And therewithal a soft voice called his name, Seest thou how tears still follow earthly bliss ?" And when he turned, with eager eyes aflame, He saw betwixt him and the setting sun

Then both her white arms round his neck she The lively image of his loved one.

, threw,

And sobbing said, “O love, what hurteth me! He trembled at the sight, for though her eyes, When first the sweetness of my life I knew, Her very lips, were such as he had made, Not this I felt, but when I first saw thee And though her tresses fell but in such guise A little pain and great felicity As he had wrought them, now was she arrayed Rose up within me, and thy talk e'en now In that fair garment that the priests had laid

Made pain and pleasure ever greater grow.” Upon the goddess on that very morn,

“O sweet,” he said, “ this thing is even love, Dyed like the setting sun upon the corn.

Whereof I told thee; that all wise men fear, Speechless he stood, but she now drew anear, But yet escape not; nay, to gods above, Simple and sweet as she was wont to be,

Unless the old tales lie, it draweth near. And once again her silver voice rang clear, | But let my happy ears, I pray thee, hear Filling his soul with great felicity,

Thy story too, and how thy blessed birth And thus she spoke, “Wilt thou not come to me, Has made a heaven of this once lonely earth.”

“My sweet,” she said, “as yet I am not wise, Have wrought for him this long-desired day; Or stored with words, aright the tale to tell, In sign whereof, these things that pass away, But listen : when I opened first mine eyes | Wherein mine image men have well arrayed, I stood within the niche thou knowest well, I give thee for thy wedding gear, O maid.' And from mine hand a heavy thing there fell

| “Therewith her raiment she put off from her, Carved like these flowers, nor could I see things

And laid bare all her perfect loveliness, clear,

And, smiling on me, came yet more anear, And but a strange confused noise could hear.

And on my mortal lips her lips did press, "At last mine eyes could see a woman fair, And said, “Now herewith shalt thou love no less But awful as this round white moon o'erhead, Than Psyche loved my son in days of old ; So that I trembled when I saw her there, Farewell, of thee shall many a tale be told.' For with my life was born some touch of dread,

“ And even with that last word was she gone, And therewithal I heard her voice that said,

How, I know not, and I my limbs arrayed "Come down, and learn to love and be alive,

In her fair gifts, and waited thee alone For thee, a well-prized gift, to-day I give.

| Ah, love, indeed the word is true she said, “Then on the floor I stepped, rejoicing much, For now I love thee so, I grow afraid Not knowing why, not knowing aught at all, of what the gods upon our heads may send -Till she reached out her hand my breast to touch, I love thee so, I think upon the end.” And when her fingers thereupon did fall,

What words he said ? How can I tell again Thought came unto my life, and therewithal

What words they said beneath the glimmering I knew her for a goddess, and began

light, To murmur in some tongue unknown to man.

Some tongue they used unknown to loveless men "And then indeed not in this guise was I, As each to each they told their great delight, No sandals had I, and no saffron gown,

Until for stillness of the growing night But naked as thou knowest utterly,

Their soft sweet murmuring words seemed grow. E'en as my limbs beneath thine hand had grown, ing loud, And this fair perfumed robe then fell adown And dim the moon grew, hid by fleecy cloud. Over the goddess' feet and swept the ground,

WILLIAM MORRIS. And round her loins a glittering belt was bound. “But when the stammering of my tongue she JAMES FITZ-JAMES AND ELLEN. heard

FROM "THE LADY OF THE LAKE."
Upon my trembling lips her hand she laid,

A FOOTSTEP struck her ear,
And spoke again, Nay, say not any word,
All that thine heart would say I know unsaid,

And Snowdoun's graceful Knight was near.

She turned the hastier, lest again
Who even now thine heart and voice have made;
But listen rather, for thou knowest now

The prisoner should renew his strain.
What these words mean, and still wilt wiser grow.

O welcome, brave Fitz-James !” she said;

“How may, an almost orphan maid “ Thy body, lifeless till I gave it life,

Pay the deep debt" — “0, say not so ! A certain man, my servant, well hath wrought, To me no gratitude you owe. I give thee to him as his love and wife,

Not mine, alas! the boon to give,
With all thy dowry of desire and thought,

And bid thy noble father live ;
Since this his yearning heart hath ever sought ; I can but be thy guide, sweet maid,
Now from my temple is he on the way,

With Scotland's King thy suit to aid.
Deeming to find thee e'en as yesterday;

No tyrant he, though ire and pride " " Bide thou his coming by the bed-head there,

May lead his better mood aside. And when thou seest him set his eyes upon

Come, Ellen, come ; 't is more than time,

He holds his court at morning prime." Thine empty niche, and hear'st him cry for care, Then call him by his name, Pygmalion,

With beating heart and bosom wrung,

As to a brother's arm she clung.
And certainly thy lover hast thou won ;
But when he stands before thee silently.

Gently he dried the falling tear,
Say all these words that I shall teach to thee.'

And gently whispered hope and cheer;

Her faltering steps half led, half stayed, “With that she said what first I told thee, love, Through gallery fair and high arcade, And then went on, Moreover thou shalt say Till; at his touch, its wings of pride That I, the daughter of almighty Jove,

A portal arch unfolded wide.

Within 't was brilliant all and light,
A thronging scene of figures bright;
It glowed on Ellen's dazzled sight,
As when the setting sun has given
Ten thousand hues to summer even,
And from their tissue fancy frames
Aerial knights and fairy dames.
Still by Fitz-James her footing stayed ;
A few faint steps she forward made,
Then slow her drooping head she raised,
And fearful round the presence gazed :
For him she sought who owned this state,
The dreaded prince whose will was fate !
She gazed on many a princely port
Might well have ruled a royal court;
On many a splendid garb she gazed, —
Then turned bewildered and amazed,
For all stood bare ; and in the room
Fitz-James alone wore cap and plume.
To him each lady's look was lent,
On him each courtier's eye was bent,
Midst furs and silks and jewels sheen
He stood, in simple Lincoln green,
The centre of the glittering ring, —
And Snowdoun's Knight is Scotland's King!

As wreath of snow, on mountain breast,
Slides from the rock that gave it rest,
Poor Ellen glided from her stay,
And at the Monarch's feet she lay;
No word her choking voice commands:
She showed the ring, she clasped her hands.
0, not a moment could he brook,
The generous prince, that suppliant look!
Gently he raised her, and the while
Checked with a glance the circle's smile;
Graceful, but grave, her brow he kissed,
And bade her terrors be dismissed :-
“Yes, fair ; the wandering poor Fitz-James
The fealty of Scotland claims.
To him thy woes, thy wishes bring;
He will redeem his signet-ring.
Ask naught for Douglas ; yester even
His prince and he have much forgiven :
Wrong hath he had from slanderous tongue,
I, from his rebel kinsmen, wrong.
We would not to the vulgar crowd
Yield what they craved with clamor loud;
Calmly we heard and judged his cause,
Our council aided and our laws.
I stanched thy father's death-feud stern,
With stout De Vaux and gray Glencairn ;
And Bothwell's Lord henceforth we own
The friend and bulwark of our Throne.
But, lovely infidel, how now?
What clouds thy misbelieving brow ?
Lord James of Douglas, lend thine aid ;
Thou must confirm this doubting maid."

Then forth the noble Douglas sprung, And on his neck his daughter hung. The Monarch drank, that happy hour, The sweetest, holiest draught of Power, ~ When it can say, with godlike voice, Arise, sad Virtue, and rejoice! Yet would not James the general eye On nature's raptures long should pry: He stepped between — “Nay, Douglas, nay. Steal not my proselyte away! The riddle 't is my right to read, That brought this happy chance to speed. Yes, Ellen, when disguised I stray In life's more low but happier way. 'T is under name which veils my power, Nor falsely veils, — for Stirling's tower Of yore the name of Snowdoun claims, And Normans call me James Fitz-James, Thus watch I o'er insulted laws, Thus learn to right the injured cause." Then, in a tone apart and low, Ah, little trait'ress ! none must know What idle dream, what lighter thought, What vanity full dearly bought, Joined to thine eye's dark witchcraft, drew My spell-bound steps to Benvenue, In dangerous hour, and all but gave Thy Monarch's life to mountain glaive !" Aloud he spoke, — “Thou still dost hold That little talisman of gold, Pledge of my faith, Fitz-James's ring; What seeks fair Ellen of the King ?”. Full well the conscious maiden guessed, He probed the weakness of her breast; But with that consciousness there came A lightening of her fears for Græme, . And more she deemed the monarch's ire Kindled 'gainst him, who, for her sire, Rebellious broadsword boldly drew; And, to her generous feeling true, She craved the grace of Roderick Dhu. “Forbear thy suit; the King of kings Alone can stay life's parting wings. I know his heart, I know his hand, Have shared his cheer, and proved his brand; My fairest earldom would I give To bid Clan-Alpine's Chieftain live ! Hast thou no other boon to crave ? No other captive friend to save ?” Blushing, she turned her from the King, And to the Douglas gave the ring, As if she wished her sire to speak The suit that stained her glowing cheek. Nay, then, my pledge has lost its force, And stubborn justice holds her course.

[merged small][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »