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She passed at dewfall to a space extended,
Where, in a lawn of flowering asphodel Amid a wood of pines and cedars blended,
There yawned an inextinguishable well Of crimson fire, full even to the brim, And overflowing all the margin trim;
Within the which she lay when the fierce war Of wintry winds shook that innocuous liquor
mimic moon and bearded star, O'er woods and lawns—the serpent heard
flicker In sleep, and dreaming still, he crept afarAnd when the windless snow descended
thicker Than autumn leaves, she watched it as it came Melt on the surface of the level flame.
She had a boat which some say Vulcan
wrought For Venus, as the chariot of her star; But it was found too feeble to be fraught With all the ardours in that sphere which
are, And so she sold it, and Apollo bought
And gave it to his daughter,—from a car Changed to the fairest and the lightest boat Which ever upon mortal stream did float.
And others say, that, when but three hours old,
The first-born Love out of his cradle leapt, And clove dun Chaos with his wings of gold,
And like a horticultural adept, Stole a strange seed, and wrapt it up in mould,
And sowed it in his mother's star, and kept Watering it all the summer with sweet dew, And with his wings fanning it as it grew.
The plant grew strong and green--the snowy
flower Fell, and the long and gourd-like fruit began To turn the light and dew by inward power
To its own substance: woven tracery ran Of light firm texture, ribbed and branching, o'er
The solid rind, like a leaf's veined fan; Of which Love scooped this boat, and with soft
motion Piloted it round the circumfluous ocean.
A living spirit within all its frame,
Couched on the fountain like a panther tame, One of the twain at Evan's feet that sit;
Or as on Vesta’s sceptre a swift flame, Or on blind Homer's heart a winged thought, In joyous expectation lay the boat.
XXXV. Then by strange art she kneaded fire and snow
Together, tempering the repugnant mass With liquid love-all things together grow
Through which the harmony of love can pass ; And a fair Shape out of her hands did flow
A living Image, which did far surpass In beauty that bright shape of vital stone Which drew the heart out of Pygmalion.
It seemed to have developed no defect
In gentleness and strength its limbs were decked; The bosom lightly swelled with its full youth,
The countenance was such as might select Some artist that his skill should never die, Imaging forth such perfect purity.
From its smooth shoulders hung two rapid wings,
Fit to have borne it to the seventh sphere,
Dyed in the ardours of the atmosphere.
XXXVIII. And down the streams which clove those moun.
tains vast, Around their inland islets, and amid The panther-peopled forests, whose shade cast
Darkness and odours, and a pleasure hid
By many a star-surrounded pyramid
The silver inoon into that winding dell,
With slanted gleam athwart the forest tops, Tempered like golden evening, feebly fell;
A green and glowing light, like that which drops From folded lilies in which glow-worms dwell,
When earth over her face night's mantle wraps ; Between the severed mountains lay on high Over the stream, a narrow rift of sky.
And ever as she went, the Image lay
With folded wings and unawakened eyes ; Aud o'er its gentle countenance did play
The busy dreams, as thick as summer flies, Cl.asing the rapid smiles that would not stay,
And drinking the warm tears, and the sweet sighs Inhaling, which, with busy murmur vain, They had aroused from that full heart and brain.
And ever down the prone vale, like a cloud
Upon a stream of wind, the pinnace went : Now lingering on the pools, in which abode
The calm and darkness of the deep, content In which they paused; now o'er the shallow road
Of white and dancing waters, all besprent With sand and polished pebbles :-mortal boat In such a shallow rapid could not float.
And down the earthquaking cataracts, which
shiver Their snow-like waters into golden air, Or under chasms unfathomable ever
Sepulchre them, till in their rage they tear A subterranean portal for the river,
It fled-the circling sunbows did upbear Its fall down the hoar precipice of spray, Lighting it far upon its lampless way.
And when the wizard lady would ascend
The labyrinths of some many-winding vale, Which to the inmost mountain upward tend,
She called “ Hermaphroditus !” and the pale And heavy hue which slumber could extend
Over its lips and eyes, as on the gale
rapid shadow from a slope of grass, into the darkness of the stream did pass ;