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She all those human figures breathing there
The naked beauty of the soul lay bare,
And often through a rude and worn disguise
She saw the inner form most bright and fair— And then she had a charm of strange device,
Which, murmured on mute lips with tender tone,
Could make that spirit mingle with her own.
Alas! Aurora, what wouldst thou have given For such a charm when Tithon became grey?
Or how much, Venus, of thy silver Heaven Wouldst thou have yielded, ere Proserpina
Had half (oh! why not all ?) the debt forgiven Which dear Adonis had been doomed to pay,
To any witch who would have taught you it?
The Heliad doth not know its value yet.
'Tis said in after times her spirit free
Knew what love was, and felt itself alone—
But holy Dian could not chaster be,
Than now this lady—like a sexless bee
Tasting all blossoms, and confined to none,
Among those mortal forms, the wizard-maiden
Passed with an eye serene and heart unladen.
To those she saw most beautiful, she gave
They drank in their deep sleep of that sweet
Mightier than life, were in them; and the grave
For on the night when they were buried, she
The light out of the funeral lamps, to be
And she unwound the woven imagery
Of second childhood's swaddling bands, and took
The coffin, its last cradle, from its niche,
And threw it with contempt into a ditch.
And there the body lay, age after age,
Mute, breathing, beating, warm and undecaying,
Like one asleep in a green hermitage,
With gentle smiles about its eyelids playing,
And living in its dreams beyond the rage
In liveries ever new the rapid, blind
And fleeting generations of mankind.
And she would write strange dreams upon the brain
Of those who were less beautiful, and make All harsh and crooked purposes more vain
Than in the desert is the serpent's wake Which the sand covers,—all his evil gain
The miser in such dreams would rise and shake Into a beggar's lap ;—the lying scribe Would his own lies betray without a bribe.
The priests would write an explanation full,
How the god Apis really was a bull,
And nothing more; and bid the herald stick
The same against the temple doors, and pull The old cant down; they licensed all to speak
Whate'er they thought of hawks, and cats, and geese,
By pastoral letters to each diocese.
The king would dress an ape up in his crown And robes, and seat him on his glorious seat,
And on the right hand of the sunlike throne
The chatterings of the monkey.—Every one
Of their great Emperor, when the morning came,
And kissed—alas, how many kiss the same!
The soldiers dreamed that they were black-
Like Cyclopses in Vulcan's sooty abysm,
wis To the annoyance of king Amasis.
And timid lovers who had been so coy
They hardly knew whether they loved or not
Would rise out of their rest, and take sweet joy, To the fulfilment of their inmost thought;
And when next day the maiden and the boy Met one another, both, like sinners caught,
Blushed at the thing which each believed was done
Only in fancy—till the tenth moon shone;
And then the Witch would let them take no ill: Of many thousand schemes which lovers find,
The Witch found one,—and so they took their fill Of happiness in marriage warm and kind.
Friends who, by practice of some envious skill, Were torn apart,—a wide wound, mind from mind!—
She did unite again with visions clear
Of deep affection and of truth sincere.
These were the pranks she played among the cities..
Of mortal men, and what she did to sprites And Gods, entangling them in her sweet ditties
To do her will, and show their subtle slights, I will declare another time; for it is
A tale more fit for the weird winter nights, Than for these garish summer days, when we Scarcely believe much more than we can see.
FRAGMENTS OF AN UNFINISHED DRAMA.1
Scene, before the Cavern of the Indian Enchantress. The Enchantress comes forth.
He fled like a shadow before its noon;
1 Mrs. Shelley records that the unfinished drama of which these are the fragments was undertaken for the amusement of their Pisa intimates of 1822. Trelawny's adventures, afterwards published to the world in his hook, The Adventures of a Younger Son, must be reckoned among the sources of suggestion. The scheme of the drama is thus described by Mrs. Shelley:—"An Enchantress, living in one of the islands of the Indian Archipelago, saves the life of a Pirate, a man of savage but noble nature. She becomes enamoured of him ; and he, inconstant to his mortal love, for a while returns her passion: but at lmgth, recalling the memory of her whom he left, and who laments his loss, he escapes from the enchanted island, and returns to his lady. His mode of life makes him again go to sea; and the Enchantress seizes the opportunity to bring him, by a spiritbrewed tempest, back to her island." The first 27