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She stood: he pass'd, shut up in mysteries, His mind wrapp'd like his mantle, while her eyes Follow'd his steps, and her neck regal white Turn’d—syllabling thus, “Ah, Lycius bright! And will you leave me on the hills alone 7 Lycius, look back! and be some pity shown.” He did; not with cold wonder fearingly, But Orpheus-like at an Eurydice; For so delicious were the words she sung It seem'd he had loved them a whole summer long: And soon his eyes had drunk her beauty up, Leaving no drop in the bewildering cup. And still the cup was full,—while he, afraid Lest she should vanish ere his lip had paid Due adoration, thus began to adore; Her soft look growing coy, she saw his chain so sure : “Leave thee alone! Look back! Ah, Goddess, see Whether my eyes can ever turn from thee! For pity do not this sad heart belie— Even as thou vanishest so I shall die. Stay! though a Naiad of the rivers, stay! To thy far wishes will thy streams obey: Stay! though the greenest woods be thy domain, Alone they can drink up the morning rain : Though a descended Pleiad, will not one Of thine harmonious sisters keep in tune Thy spheres, and as thy silver proxy shine? So sweetly to these ravish'd ears of mine Came thy sweet greeting, that if thou shouldst fade Thy memory will waste me to a shade :For pity do not melt ("—“If I should stay,” Said Lamia, “here, upon this floor of clay, And pain my steps upon these flowers too rough, What canst thou say or do of charm enough To dull the nice remembrance of my home Thou canst not ask me with thee here to roam Over these hills and vales, where no joy is Empty of immortality and bliss' Thou art a scholar, Lycius, and must know That finer spirits cannot breathe below In human climes, and live: Alas! poor youth, , What taste of purer air hast thou to soothe My essence What serener palaces, Where I may all my many senses please, And by mysterious sleights a hundred thirsts appease? It cannot be—Adieu !” So said, she rose Tiptoe with white arms spread. He, sick to lose The amorous promise of her lone complain, Swoon'd murmuring of love, and pale with pain. The cruel lady, without any show Of sorrow for her tender favorite's woe, But rather, if her eyes could brighter be, With brighter eyes and slow amenity, Put her new lips to his, and gave afresh The life she had so tangled in her mesh: And as he from one trance was wakening Into another, she began to sing, Happy in beauty, life, and love, and every thing, A song of love, too sweet for earthly lyres, While, like held breath, the stars drew in their panting fires. And then she whisper'd in such trembling tone, As those who, safe together met alone For the first time through many anguish'd days, Use other speech than looks; bidding him raise His drooping head, and clear his soul of doubt, For that she was a woman, and without
Any more subtle fluid in her veins
As men talk in a dream, so Corinth all, Throughout her palaces imperial, And all her populous streets and temples lewd, Mutter'd, like tempest in the distance brew’d, To the wide-spreaded night above her towers. Men, women, rich and poor, in the cool hours, Shuffled their sandals o'er the pavement white, Companion'd or alone; while many a light Flared, here and there, from wealthy festivals, And threw their moving shadows on the walls, Or found them cluster'd in the corniced shade Of some arch'd temple door, or dusky colonnade.
Muffling his face, of greeting friends in fear, Her fingers he press'd hard, as one came near With curl’d gray beard, sharp eyes, and smooth bald Crown, Slow-stepp'd, and robed in philosophic gown: Lycius shrank closer, as they met and past, Into his mantle, adding wings to haste,
While hurried Lamia trembled : “Ah,” said he,
While yet he spake they had arrived before A pillar'd porch, with lofty portal door, Where hung a silver lamp, whose phosphor glow Reflected in the slabbed steps below, Mild as a star in water; for so new, And so unsullied was the marble hue, So through the crystal polish, liquid fine, Ran the dark veins, that none but feet divine Could e'er have touch'd there. Sounds /Eolian Breathed from the hinges, as the ample span Of the wide doors disclosed a place unknown Some time to any, but those two alone, And a few Persian mutes, who that same year Were seen about the markets: none knew where They could inhabit; the most curious Were foil'd, who watch'd to trace them to their house: And but the flitter-winged verse must tell, For truth's sake, what woe afterwards befell, 'Twould humor many a heart to leave them thus, Shut from the busy world of more incredulous.
LovE in a hut, with water and a crust,
For all this came a ruin: side by side They were enthroned, in the eventide, Upon a couch, near to a curtaining Whose airy texture, from a golden string, Floated into the room, and let appear Unveil'd the summer heaven, blue and clear, Betwixt two marble shafts —there they reposed, Where use had made it sweet, with eyelids closed, Saving a tythe which love still open kept, That they might see each other while they almost slept; When from the slope side of a suburb hill, Deafening the swallow's twitter, came a thrill Of trumpets—Lycius started—the sounds fled, But left a thought, a buzzing in his head. 3 W.
For the first time, since first he harbor'd in
Seeing all their luckless race are dead, save me,
It was the custom then to bring away The bride from home at blushing shut of day, Weil'd, in a chariot, heralded along By strewn flowers, torches, and a marriage song, With other pageants; but this fair unknown Had not a friend. So being left alone (Lycius was gone to summon all his kin), And knowing surely she could never win His foolish heart from its mad pompousness, She set herself, high-thoughted, how to dress The misery in fit magnificence. She did so, but 'tis doubtful how and whence Came, and who were her subtle servitors. About the halls, and to and from the doors, There was a noise of wings, till in short space The glowing banquet-room shone with wide-arched grace. A haunting music, sole perhaps and lone Supportress of the fairy-roof, made moan Throughout, as fearful the whole charm might fade. Fresh carved cedar, mimicking a glade Of palm and plantain, met from either side, High in the midst, in honor of the bride: Two palms and then two plantains, and so on, From either side their stems branch'd one to one All down the aisled palace; and beneath all There ran a stream of lamps straight on from wall to wall. So canopied, lay an untasted feast Teeming with odors. Lamia, regal drest, Silently paced about, and as she went, In pale contented sort of discontent, Mission'd her viewless servants to enrich The fretted splendor of each nook and niche. Between the tree-stems, marbled plain at first, Came jasper panels; then, anon, there burst Forth creeping imagery of slighter trees, And with the larger wove in small intricacies. Approving all, she faded at self-will. And shut the chamber up, close, hush'd and still, Complete and ready for the revels rude, When dreaded guests would come to spoil her solitude.
The day appear'd, and all the gossip rout. O senseless Lycius: Madman! wherefore flout The silent-blessing fate, warm cloister'd hours, And show to common eyes these secret bowers The herd approach'd; each guest, with busy brain, Arriving at the portal, gazed amain. And enter'd marvelling: for they knew the street, Remember'd it from childhood all complete Without a gap, yet ne'er before had seen That royal porch, that high-built fair demesne: So in they hurried all, mazed, curious and keen: Save one, who look'd thereon with eye severe, And with calm-planted steps walk'd in austere;
"Twas Apollonius: something too he laugh'd, As though some knotty problem, that had daft His patient thought, had now begun to thaw. And solve and melt: 't was just as he foresaw.
He met within the murmurous vestibule His young disciple. “Tis no common rule, Lycius,” said he, “for uninvited guest To force himself upon you, and infest With an unbidden presence the bright throng Of younger friends; yet must I do this wrong. And you forgive me." Lycius blush'd, and led The old man through the inner doors broad spreau, With reconciling words and courteous mien Turning into sweet milk the sophist's spleen.
Of wealthy lustre was the banquet-room, Fill'd with pervading brilliance and perfume: Before each lucid panel fuming stood A censer fed with myrrh and spiced wood, Each by a sacred tripod held aloft. Whose slender feet wide-swerved upon the soft Wool-woofed carpets: fifty wreaths of smoke From fifty censers their light voyage took To the high roof, still mimick'd as they rose Along the mirror'd walls by twin-clouds odorous. Twelve sphered tables, by silk seats insphered, High as the level of a man's breast reard On libbard's paws, upheld the heavy gold Of cups and goblets, and the store thrice told Of Ceres' horn, and, in huge vessels, wine Came from the gloomy tun with merry shine. Thus loaded with a feast, the tables stood. Each shrining in the midst the image of a God.
When in an antechamber every guest Had felt the cold full sponge to pleasure press'd, By ministring slaves, upon his hands and feet, And fragrant oils with ceremony meet Pour'd on his hair, they all moved to the feast In white robes, and themselves in order placed Around the silken couches, wondering Whence all this mighty cost and blaze of wealth
Soft went the music that soft air along, While fluent Greek a vowell'd under-song Kept up among the guests discoursing low At first, for scarcely was the wine at flow : But when the happy vintage touch'd their brains, Louder they talk, and louder come the strains Of powerful instruments —the gorgeous dyes, The space, the splendor of the draperies, The roof of awful richness, nectarous cheer, Beautiful slaves, and Lamia's self, appear. Now, when the wine has done its rosy deed, And every soul from human trammels freed, No more so strange: for merry wine, sweet wine Will make Elysian shades not too fair, too divine. Soon was God Bacchus at meridian height; Flush'd were their cheeks, and bright eyes double
Garlands of every green, and every scent
High as the handles heap'd, to suit the thought
Of every guest; that each, as he did please, Might fancy-fit his brows, silk-pillow'd at his ease.
What wreath for Lamia? What for Lycius What for the sage, old Apollonius: Upon her aching forehead be there hung The leaves of willow and of adder's tongue; And for the youth, quick, let us strip for him The thyrsus, that his watching eyes may swim Into forgetfulness; and, for the sage, Let spear-grass and the spiteful thistle wage War on his temples. Do not all charms fly At the mere touch of cold philosophy? There was an awful rainbow once in heaven: We know her woof, her texture; she is given In the dull catalogue of common things. Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings, Conquer all mysteries by rule and line, Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine— Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made The tender-person'd Lamia melt into a shade.
By her glad Lycius sitting, in chief place, Scarce saw in all the room another face, Till checking his love trance, a cup he took Full-brimm'd, and opposite sent forth a look 'Cross the broad table, to beseech a glance From his old teacher's wrinkled countenance, And pledge him. The bald-head philosopher Had fix'd his eye, without a twinkle or stir Full on the alarmed beauty of the bride, Browbeating her fair form, and troubling her sweet
Lycius then press'd her hand, with devout touch,
Wander'd on fair-spaced temples; no soft bloom
* “Philostratus, in his fourth book de Pita Apollonii, ath a memorable instance in this kind, which I may not omit, of one Menippus Lycius, a young man twenty-five years of age, that going betwixt Cenchreas and Corinth, met such a phantasm in the habit of a fair gentlewoman, which taking him by the hand, carried him home to her house, in the suburbs of Corinth, and told him she was a Phoenician by birth, and if he would tarry with her, he should hear her sing and play, and drink such wine as never any drank, and no man should molest him; but she, being fair and lovely, would die with him, that was fair and lovely to behold. The young man, a philosopher, otherwise staid and discreet, able to moderate his passions, though not this of love, tarried with her a while to his great content, and at last married her, to whose wedding, amongst other guests, came Apollonius; who, by some probable conjectures, found her out to be a serpent, a lamia; and that all her furniture was like Tantalus' gold, described by Homer, no substance but mere illusions. When she saw herself descried, she wept, and desired Apollonius to be silent, but he would not be moved, and thereupon she, plate, house, and all that was in it, vanished in an instant: many thousands took notice of this fact, for it was done in the midst of Greece.”—Burton's