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John Taylor, Anacreon Poems on Various Subjects


TO SIR ROGER GRESLEY (age 21), Bart. On His Marriage With Lady SOPHIA COVENTRY, Youngest Daughter Of The EARL OF COVENTRY (age 63).

JUNE 2, 1821

IF mortals bliss can gain below,

Thou, GRESLEY, must the blessing know;

Nature at first to thee was kind,

She gave a shrewd and pregnant mind,

By taste and learning since refin'd.

Fortune, not less her pow'r to shew,

Has deign'd her favours to bestow;

Of riches an abundant store,

And, what thou now wilt value more,

To heighten ev'ry charm of life,

A nobler treasure in a wife,

Surpassing all in Plutus' pow'r,

Were e'en Peru his added dow'r;

A wife in manners, form, and mind,

The proudest would rejoice to find,

Possessing ev'ry gentler grace

That best adorns the female race.

Oh! still may Fortune prove thy friend,

And bliss on all thy course attend,

Till Nature, in a late decay,

Shall softly steal your lives away,

And angels then be hov'ring near

To waft ye to a happier sphere.

Alexander Pope Poems

The Affairs of State

The Affairs of State Volume 3

1705. The Affairs of State Volume 3 was published.

The Affairs of State Volume 3 The Town Life

Once how I doated on this Jilting Town,

Thinking no Heaven was out of London known;

Till I her Beauties artificial found,

Her Pleasure's but a short and giddy round

Like one who has his Phillis long enjoy'd,

Grown with the fulsom Repetition cfoy'd

Love's Mists, then vanish from before his Eyes,

And all the Ladies Frailties he descries:

Quite surfeited with Joy, I now retreat

To the fresh Air, a homely Country Seat;

Good Hours, Books, harmless Sports, & wholsom Meat.

And now at last I Ve chose my proper Sphere,

Where Men are plain and rustick, but sincere.

I never was for Lies nor Fawning made,

But call a Wafer Bread, and Spade a Spade:

I tell what Merits got Lord [....] his Place,

And laugh at marry'd M[...]ve to his Face.

I cannot keep with every Change of State;

Nor flatter Villans, tho' at Court they're great:

Nor will I prostitute my Pen for Hire,

Praise Cromwell damn him, write the Spanish Fryar.

A Papist now, if next the Turk should reign,

Then piously transverse the Alcoran.

Methinks I hear one of the Nation cry,

Be-Crist, this is a Whiggish Calumny,

All Vertues are compriz'd in Loyalty,

Might I dispute with him, I'd change his Note,

I'd silence him, that is, he'd cut my Throat.

This powerful way of reasoning never mist,

None are so positive, but then desist

As I will, e'er it come to that extreme;

Our Eolly, not our Misery, is our Theme.

Well may we wonder what strange Charm, what Spell,

What mighty Pleasures in this London dwell,

That Men renounce their Ease, Estates and Fame,

And drudge it here to get a Fopling's Name.

That one of seeming Sense advanc'd in Years,

Like a Sir Courtly Nice in Town appears:

Others exchange their Land for tawdry Clothes

And will in spite of Nature pass for Beaus.

Indulgent Heaven, who ne'er made ought in Vain

Each Man for sommething proper did ordain

Yet most againft their Genius blindly run

The wrong they chuse,and what they're made for shun.

Thus Ar[...]n thinks for State-Affairs he's fit;

Hewit for Ogling, Chomly for Wit:

But 'tis vain, so wife, these Men to teach,

Besides the King's learn'd Priests should only preach.

We'll see how Sparks the tedious Day employ,

And trace them in their warm pursuit of Joy

If they get dreft (with much ado) by Noon,

In quiet of Beauty to the Mall they run,

Where (like, young Boys) with Hat in Hand they try

To catch some flutt'ring gawdy Butterfly.

Thus Gray pursues the Lady with a Face,

Like forty more, and with the same Success,

Whose Jilting Conduct in her Beauty's spite

Loses her Fame, and gets no Pleasure by't.

The secret Joys of an Intrigue she flights,

And in an Equipage of Fools delights:

So some vain Heroes for a vain Command,

Forfeit their Conscience, Liberty and Land.

But see high Mass is done, in Crowds they go?

What, all these Irish and Moll Howard too?

'Tis very late, to Lockets let's away,

The Lady Frances comes, I will not flay.

Expecting Dinner, to discourse they fall?

Without Respect of Morals, censuring all:

The Nymph they lov'd, the Friend they hug'd before

He's a vain Coxcomb, shes a common Whore:

No Obligation can their Jests prevent;

Wit, like unruly Wind in Bowels pent,

Torments the Bearer till he gives it vent

Tho' this offends the Ear, as that the Nose,

No matter, 'tis for Ease, and out it goes.

But what they talk ( too naufeous to rehearse )

I leave for the late Ballad-writers Verse.

After a dear-bought Meal, they haste away.

To a Desart of Ogling at the Play.

What's here which in the Box's Front I see!

Deform'd old Age, Diseases, Infamy!

Warwick, North, Paget, Hinton, Martin, Willis,

And that Eqitome of Lewdness, Ellys:

I'll not turn that way, but obferve the Play

Pox, 'tis a tragick Farce of Banks to Day:

Besides, some Irish Wits the Pit invade

With a worse Din than Cat-call Serenade.

I must be gone, let's to Hide-Park repair,

If not good Company, we'll find good Air.

Here with affected Bow and Side-Glass look,

The self-conceited Fool is eas'ly took.

There comes a Spark with fix inTarsels drest,

Charming the Ladies Hearts with dint of Beast

Like Scullers on the Themes with frequent Bow,

They labour, tug, and in their Coaches row;

To meet some fair one, still they wheel about, Till he retires, and then they hurry out.

But next we'll visit where the Beaus in order come,

(Tis yet too early for the drawing-room)

Here Nowels and Olivio's abound;

But one plain Manly is not to be found:

Flatt'ring the present, the absent they abuse,

And vent their Spleen and Lies, pretending News:

Why, such a Lady's pale and wou'd not Dance

This to the Country gone, and that to France

Who's marry'd, flipp'd away, or mist at Court;

Others Misfortunes thus afford them sport.

A new Song is produced, the Author guest,

The Verses and the Poet made a Jest.

Live Laureat E[...]er, in whom we see

The English can excel Antiquity.

Dryden writes Epick, Woosly Odes in vain

Virgil and Horace still the cheif maintain:

He with his mathless Poems has alone, Bavins and Mivius in their way out-done.

But new for Cards and Play they all propofe,

While I who never in good breeding lose

Who cannot civilly sit still and see

The Ladies pick the Purse, and laugh at me,

Pretending earnest Business, drive to Court,

Where those who can do nothing esle retort

The Fuglish must not seek Preferment there

For Mack's and O's all Places destin'd are

No more we'll fend our Youth to Paris now,

French Principles and Breeding one wou'd do

They for Improvement must to Ireland fail

The Irish Wit and Language now prevail.

But soft my Pen, with care this Subjeft touch

Stop where you are, you soon may write too much

Quite weary with the Hurry of the Day:

I to my peaceful Home direct my way;

While some in Hack, and Habit of Fatigue,

May have (but oft pretend) a close Intrigue

Others more open to the Tavern scow'r,

Calling for Wine, and every Man his Whore,

As safe as those with Quality perhaps,

For N[...]rgh says great Ladies can give Claps:

Some where they're kept, and many where they keep,

Most see an easy Mistrefs e'er they sleep,

Thus Sparks may dress, dance, play, write, fight, get drunk,

But all the mighty Pother ends in Punk.

Byron Poems


Between 1816 and 1817 George "Lord Byron" 6th Baron Byron (age 28) wrote the dramatic poem Manfred.

Manfred Scene II

The Mountain of the Jungfrau. Time, Morning. MANFRED alone upon the Cliffs.

MANFRED. The spirits I have raised abandon me,

The spells which I have studied baffled me,

The remedy I reck'd of tortured me;

I lean no more on super-human aid,

It hath no power upon the past, and for

The future, till the past be gulf'd in darkness,

It is not of my search. -- My mother Earth!

And thou fresh breaking Day, and you, ye Mountains,

Why are ye beautiful? I cannot love ye.

And thou, the bright eye of the universe

That openest over all, and unto all

Art a delight -- thou shin'st not on my heart.

And you, ye crags, upon whose extreme edge

I stand, and on the torrent's brink beneath

Behold the tall pines dwindled as to shrubs

In dizziness of distance; when a leap,

A stir, a motion, even a breath, would bring

My breast upon its rocky bosom's bed

To rest forever -- wherefore do I pause?

I feel the impulse--yet I do not plunge;

I see the peril -- yet do not recede;

And my brain reels -- and yet my foot is firm.

There is a power upon me which withholds,

And makes it my fatality to live;

If it be life to wear within myself

This barrenness of spirit, and to be

My own soul's sepulchre, for I have ceased

To justify my deeds unto myself --

The last infirmity of evil. Ay,

Thou winged and cloud-cleaving minister, [An eagle passes].

Whose happy flight is highest into heaven,

Well may'st thou swoop so near me -- I should be

Thy prey, and gorge thine eaglets; thou art gone

Where the eye cannot follow thee; but thine

Yet pierces downward, onward, or above,

With a pervading vision. -- Beautiful!

How beautiful is all this visible world!

How glorious in its action and itself!

But we, who name ourselves its sovereigns, we,

Half dust, half deity, alike unfit

To sink or soar, with our mix'd essence make

A conflict of its elements, and breathe

The breath of degradation and of pride,

Contending with low wants and lofty will,

Till our mortality predominates,

And men are what they name not to themselves,

And trust not to each other. Hark! the note,

[The Shepherd's pipe in the distance is heard.]

The natural music of the mountain reed

(For here the patriarchal days are not

A pastoral fable) pipes in the liberal air,

Mix'd with the sweet bells of the sauntering herd;

My soul would drink those echoes. -- Oh, that I were

The viewless spirit of a lovely sound,

A living voice, a breathing harmony,

A bodiless enjoyment -- born and dying

With the blessed tone which made me!

Enter from below a CHAMOIS HUNTER.


This way the chamois leapt: her nimble feet

Have baffled me; my gains to-day will scarce

Repay my break-neck travail. -- What is here?

Who seems not of my trade, and yet hath reach'd

A height which none even of our mountaineers

Save our best hunters, may attain: his garb

Is goodly, his mien manly, and his air

Proud as a freeborn peasant's, at this distance --

I will approach him nearer.

MANFRED (not perceiving the other). To be thus--

Gray--hair'd with anguish, like these blasted pines,

Wrecks of a single winter, barkless, branchless,

A blighted trunk upon a cursèd root

Which but supplies a feeling to decay --

And to be thus, eternally but thus,

Having been otherwise! Now furrowed o'er

With wrinkles, plough'd by moments, not by years

And hours -- all tortured into ages -- hours

Which I outlive! -- Ye toppling crags of ice!

Ye avalanches, whom a breath draws down

In mountainous o'erwhelming, come and crush me!

I hear ye momently above, beneath,

Crash with a frequent conflict, but ye pass,

And only fall on things that still would live;

On the young flourishing forest, or the hut

And hamlet of the harmless villager.

CHAMOIS HUNTER. The mists begin to rise from up the valley;

I'll warn him to descend, or he may chance

To lose at once his way and life together.

MANFRED. The mists boil up around the glaciers; clouds

Rise curling fast beneath me, white and sulphury,

Like foam from the roused ocean of deep Hell,

Whose every wave breaks on a living shore

Heap'd with the damn'd like pebbles.-- I am giddy.

CHAMOIS HUNTER. I must approach him cautiously; if near

A sudden step will startle him, and he

Seems tottering already.

MANFRED. Mountains have fallen,

Leaving a gap in the clouds, and with the shock

Rocking their Alpine brethren; filling up

The ripe green valleys with destruction's splinters;

Damming the rivers with a sudden dash,

Which crush'd the waters into mist, and made

Their fountains find another channel-- thus,

Thus, in its old age, did Mount Rosenberg--

Why stood I not beneath it?

CHAMOIS HUNTER. Friend! have a care,

Your next step may be fatal!-- for the love

Of him who made you, stand not on that brink!

MANFRED. (not hearing him). Such would have been for me a fitting tomb;

My bones had then been quiet in their depth;

They had not then been strewn upon the rocks

For the wind's pastime-- as thus-- thus they shall be--

In this one plunge.-- Farewell, ye opening heavens!

Look not upon me thus reproachfully--

Ye were not meant for me-- Earth! take these atoms!

[As MANFRED is in act to spring from the cliff, the CHAMOIS HUNTER seizes and retains him with a sudden grasp.]

CHAMOIS HUNTER. Hold, madman!-- though aweary of thy life,

Stain not our pure vales with thy guilty blood!

Away with me-- I will not quit my hold.

MANFRED. I am most sick at heart-- nay, grasp me not--

I am all feebleness-- the mountains whirl

Spinning around me-- I grow blind-- What art thou?

CHAMOIS HUNTER. I'll answer that anon.-- Away with me!

The clouds grow thicker-- there-- now lean on me--

Place your foot here-- here, take this staff, and cling

A moment to that shrub-- now give me your hand,

And hold fast by my girdle-- softly-- well--

The Chalet will be gain'd within an hour.

Come on, we'll quickly find a surer footing,

And something like a pathway, which the torrent

Hath wash'd since winter.-- Come, 'tis bravely done;

You should have been a hunter.-- Follow me.

[As they descend the rocks with difficulty, the scene closes.]

1842. Ford Madox Brown (age 20). "Manfred on the Jungfrau". Inspired by Scene II of the poem Manfred by George "Lord Byron" 6th Baron Byron.

Dante Poems

Sestina of the Lady Pietra degli Scrovigni

Sestina of the Lady Pietra degli Scrovigni is a poem by Dante Alighieri translated by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

To the dim light and the large circle of shade

I have clomb, and to the whitening of the hills,

There where we see no color in the grass.

Natheless my longing loses not its green,

It has so taken root in the hard stone

Which talks and hears as though it were a lady.

Utterly frozen is this youthful lady,

Even as the snow that lies within the shade;

For she is no more moved than is the stone

By the sweet season which makes warm the hills

And alters them afresh from white to green

Covering their sides again with flowers and grass.

When on her hair she sets a crown of grass

The thought has no more room for other lady,

Because she weaves the yellow with the green

So well that Love sits down there in the shade,-

Love who has shut me in among low hills

Faster than between walls of granite-stone.

She is more bright than is a precious stone;

The wound she gives may not be healed with grass:

I therefore have fled far o'er plains and hills

For refuge from so dangerous a lady;

But from her sunshine nothing can give shade,-

Not any hill, nor wall, nor summer-green.

A while ago, I saw her dressed in green,-

So fair, she might have wakened in a stone

This love which I do feel even for her shade;

And therefore, as one woos a graceful lady,

I wooed her in a field that was all grass

Girdled about with very lofty hills.

Yet shall the streams turn back and climb the hills

Before Love's flame in this damp wood and green

Burn, as it burns within a youthful lady,

For my sake, who would sleep away in stone

My life, or feed like beasts upon the grass,

Only to see her garments cast a shade.

How dark soe'er the hills throw out their shade,

Under her summer green the beautiful lady

Covers it, like a stone cover'd in grass.

Swinburne Poems

Laus Veneris

In 1866 Algernon Charles Swinburne (age 28) wrote Laus Veneris, or The Praise of Venus:

Asleep or waking is it? for her neck,

Kissed over close, wears yet a purple speck

Wherein the pained blood falters and goes out;

Soft, and stung softly - fairer for a fleck.

But though my lips shut sucking on the place,

There is no vein at work upon her face;

Her eyelids are so peaceable, no doubt

Deep sleep has warmed her blood through all its ways.

Lo, this is she that was the world's delight;

The old grey years were parcels of her might;

The strewings of the ways wherein she trod

Were the twain seasons of the day and night.

Lo, she was thus when her clear limbs enticed

All lips that now grow sad with kissing Christ,

Stained with blood fallen from the feet of God,

The feet and hands whereat our souls were priced.

Alas, Lord, surely thou art great and fair.

But lo her wonderfully woven hair!

And thou didst heal us with thy piteous kiss;

But see now, Lord; her mouth is lovelier.

She is right fair; what hath she done to thee?

Nay, fair Lord Christ, lift up thine eyes and see;

Had now thy mother such a lip - like this?

Thou knowest how sweet a thing it is to me.

Inside the Horsel here the air is hot;

Right little peace one hath for it, God wot;

The scented dusty daylight burns the air,

And my heart chokes me till I hear it not.

Behold, my Venus, my soul's body, lies

With my love laid upon her garment-wise,

Feeling my love in all her limbs and hair

And shed between her eyelids through her eyes.

She holds my heart in her sweet open hands

Hanging asleep; hard by her head there stands,

Crowned with gilt thorns and clothed with flesh like fire,

Love, wan as foam blown up the salt burnt sands -

Hot as the brackish waifs of yellow spume

That shift and steam - loose clots of arid fume

From the sea's panting mouth of dry desire;

There stands he, like one labouring at a loom.

The warp holds fast across; and every thread

That makes the woof up has dry specks of red;

Always the shuttle cleaves clean through, and he

Weaves with the hair of many a ruined head.

Love is not glad nor sorry, as I deem;

Labouring he dreams, and labours in the dream,

Till when the spool is finished, lo I see

His web, reeled off, curls and goes out like steam.

Night falls like fire; the heavy lights run low,

And as they drop, my blood and body so

Shake as the flame shakes, full of days and hours

That sleep not neither weep they as they go.

Ah yet would God this flesh of mine might be

Where air might wash and long leaves cover me,

Where tides of grass break into foam of flowers,

Or where the wind's feet shine along the sea.

Ah yet would God that stems and roots were bred

Out of my weary body and my head,

That sleep were sealed upon me with a seal,

And I were as the least of all his dead.

Would God my blood were dew to feed the grass,

Mine ears made deaf and mine eyes blind as glass,

My body broken as a turning wheel,

And my mouth stricken ere it saith Alas!

Ah God, that love were as a flower or flame,

That life were as the naming of a name,

That death were not more pitiful than desire,

That these things were not one thing and the same!

Behold now, surely somewhere there is death:

For each man hath some space of years, he saith,

A little space of time ere time expire,

A little day, a little way of breath.

And lo, between the sundawn and the sun,

His day's work and his night's work are undone;

And lo, between the nightfall and the light,

He is not, and none knoweth of such an one.

Ah God, that I were as all souls that be,

As any herb or leaf of any tree,

As men that toil through hours of labouring night,

As bones of men under the deep sharp sea.

Outside it must be winter among men;

For at the gold bars of the gates again

I heard all night and all the hours of it

The wind's wet wings and fingers drip with rain.

Knights gather, riding sharp for cold; I know

The ways and woods are strangled with the snow;

And with short song the maidens spin and sit

Until Christ's birthnight, lily-like, arow.

The scent and shadow shed about me make

The very soul in all my senses ache;

The hot hard night is fed upon my breath,

And sleep beholds me from afar awake.

Alas, but surely where the hills grow deep,

Or where the wild ways of the sea are steep,

Or in strange places somewhere there is death,

And on death's face the scattered hair of sleep.

There lover-like with lips and limbs that meet

They lie, they pluck sweet fruit of life and eat;

But me the hot and hungry days devour,

And in my mouth no fruit of theirs is sweet.

No fruit of theirs, but fruit of my desire,

For her love's sake whose lips through mine respire;

Her eyelids on her eyes like flower on flower,

Mine eyelids on mine eyes like fire on fire.

So lie we, not as sleep that lies by death,

With heavy kisses and with happy breath;

Not as man lies by woman, when the bride

Laughs low for love's sake and the words he saith.

For she lies, laughing low with love; she lies

And turns his kisses on her lips to sighs,

To sighing sound of lips unsatisfied,

And the sweet tears are tender with her eyes.

Ah, not as they, but as the souls that were

Slain in the old time, having found her fair;

Who, sleeping with her lips upon their eyes,

Heard sudden serpents hiss across her hair.

Their blood runs round the roots of time like rain:

She casts them forth and gathers them again;

With nerve and bone she weaves and multiplies

Exceeding pleasure out of extreme pain.

Her little chambers drip with flower-like red,

Her girdles, and the chaplets of her head,

Her armlets and her anklets; with her feet

She tramples all that winepress of the dead.

Her gateways smoke with fume of flowers and fires,

With loves burnt out and unassuaged desires;

Between her lips the steam of them is sweet,

The languor in her ears of many lyres.

Her beds are full of perfume and sad sound,

Her doors are made with music, and barred round

With sighing and with laughter and with tears,

With tears whereby strong souls of men are bound.

There is the knight Adonis that was slain;

With flesh and blood she chains him for a chain;

The body and the spirit in her ears

Cry, for her lips divide him vein by vein.

Yea, all she slayeth; yea, every man save me;

Me, love, thy lover that must cleave to thee

Till the ending of the days and ways of earth,

The shaking of the sources of the sea.

Me, most forsaken of all souls that fell;

Me, satiated with things insatiable;

Me, for whose sake the extreme hell makes mirth,

Yea, laughter kindles at the heart of hell.

Alas thy beauty! for thy mouth's sweet sake

My soul is bitter to me, my limbs quake

As water, as the flesh of men that weep,

As their heart's vein whose heart goes nigh to break.

Ah God, that sleep with flower-sweet finger-tips

Would crush the fruit of death upon my lips;

Ah God, that death would tread the grapes of sleep

And wring their juice upon me as it drips.

There is no change of cheer for many days,

But change of chimes high up in the air, that sways

Rung by the running fingers of the wind;

And singing sorrows heard on hidden ways.

Day smiteth day in twain, night sundereth night,

And on mine eyes the dark sits as the light;

Yea, Lord, thou knowest I know not, having sinned,

If heaven be clean or unclean in thy sight.

Yea, as if earth were sprinkled over me,

Such chafed harsh earth as chokes a sandy sea,

Each pore doth yearn, and the dried blood thereof

Gasps by sick fits, my heart swims heavily,

There is a feverish famine in my veins;

Below her bosom, where a crushed grape stains

The white and blue, there my lips caught and clove

An hour since, and what mark of me remains?

I dare not always touch her, lest the kiss

Leave my lips charred. Yea, Lord, a little bliss,

Brief bitter bliss, one hath for a great sin;

Nathless thou knowest how sweet a thing it is.

Sin, is it sin whereby men's souls are thrust

Into the pit? yet had I a good trust

To save my soul before it slipped therein,

Trod under by the fire-shod feet of lust.

For if mine eyes fail and my soul takes breath,

I look between the iron sides of death

Into sad hell where all sweet love hath end,

All but the pain that never finisheth.

There are the naked faces of great kings,

The singing folk with all their lute-playings;

There when one cometh he shall have to friend

The grave that covets and the worm that clings.

There sit the knights that were so great of hand,

The ladies that were queens of fair green land,

Grown grey and black now, brought unto the dust,

Soiled, without raiment, clad about with sand.

There is one end for all of them; they sit

Naked and sad, they drink the dregs of it,

Trodden as grapes in the wine-press of lust,

Trampled and trodden by the fiery feet.

I see the marvellous mouth whereby there fell

Cities and people whom the gods loved well,

Yet for her sake on them the fire gat hold,

And for their sakes on her the fire of hell.

And softer than the Egyptian lote-leaf is,

The queen whose face was worth the world to kiss,

Wearing at breast a suckling snake of gold;

And large pale lips of strong Semiramis,

Curled like a tiger's that curl back to feed;

Red only where the last kiss made them bleed;

Her hair most thick with many a carven gem,

Deep in the mane, great-chested, like a steed.

Yea, with red sin the faces of them shine;

But in all these there was no sin like mine;

No, not in all the strange great sins of them

That made the wine-press froth and foam with wine.

For I was of Christ's choosing, I God's knight,

No blinkard heathen stumbling for scant light;

I can well see, for all the dusty days

Gone past, the clean great time of goodly fight.

I smell the breathing battle sharp with blows,

With shriek of shafts and snapping short of bows;

The fair pure sword smites out in subtle ways,

Sounds and long lights are shed between the rows

Of beautiful mailed men; the edged light slips,

Most like a snake that takes short breath and dips

Sharp from the beautifully bending head,

With all its gracious body lithe as lips

That curl in touching you; right in this wise

My sword doth, seeming fire in mine own eyes,

Leaving all colours in them brown and red

And flecked with death; then the keen breaths like sighs,

The caught-up choked dry laughters following them,

When all the fighting face is grown a flame

For pleasure, and the pulse that stuns the ears,

And the heart's gladness of the goodly game.

Let me think yet a little; I do know

These things were sweet, but sweet such years ago,

Their savour is all turned now into tears;

Yea, ten years since, where the blue ripples blow,

The blue curled eddies of the blowing Rhine,

I felt the sharp wind shaking grass and vine

Touch my blood too, and sting me with delight

Through all this waste and weary body of mine

That never feels clear air; right gladly then

I rode alone, a great way off my men,

And heard the chiming bridle smite and smite,

And gave each rhyme thereof some rhyme again,

Till my song shifted to that iron one;

Seeing there rode up between me and the sun

Some certain of my foe's men, for his three

White wolves across their painted coats did run.

The first red-bearded, with square cheeks - alack,

I made my knave's blood turn his beard to black;

The slaying of him was a joy to see:

Perchance too, when at night he came not back,

Some woman fell a-weeping, whom this thief

Would beat when he had drunken; yet small grief

Hath any for the ridding of such knaves;

Yea, if one wept, I doubt her teen was brief.

This bitter love is sorrow in all lands,

Draining of eyelids, wringing of drenched hands,

Sighing of hearts and filling up of graves;

A sign across the head of the world he stands,

An one that hath a plague-mark on his brows;

Dust and spilt blood do track him to his house

Down under earth; sweet smells of lip and cheek,

Like a sweet snake's breath made more poisonous

With chewing of some perfumed deadly grass,

Are shed all round his passage if he pass,

And their quenched savour leaves the whole soul weak,

Sick with keen guessing whence the perfume was.

As one who hidden in deep sedge and reeds

Smells the rare scent made where a panther feeds,

And tracking ever slotwise the warm smell

Is snapped upon by the sweet mouth and bleeds,

His head far down the hot sweet throat of her -

So one tracks love, whose breath is deadlier,

And lo, one springe and you are fast in hell,

Fast as the gin's grip of a wayfarer.

I think now, as the heavy hours decease

One after one, and bitter thoughts increase

One upon one, of all sweet finished things;

The breaking of the battle; the long peace

Wherein we sat clothed softly, each man's hair

Crowned with green leaves beneath white hoods of vair;

The sounds of sharp spears at great tourneyings,

And noise of singing in the late sweet air.

I sang of love too, knowing nought thereof;

"Sweeter," I said, "the little laugh of love

Than tears out of the eyes of Magdalen,

Or any fallen feather of the Dove.

"The broken little laugh that spoils a kiss,

The ache of purple pulses, and the bliss

Of blinded eyelids that expand again -

Love draws them open with those lips of his,

"Lips that cling hard till the kissed face has grown

Of one same fire and colour with their own;

Then ere one sleep, appeased with sacrifice,

Where his lips wounded, there his lips atone."

I sang these things long since and knew them not;

"Lo, here is love, or there is love, God wot,

This man and that finds favour in his eyes,"

I said, "but I, what guerdon have I got?

"The dust of praise that is blown everywhere

In all men's faces with the common air;

The bay-leaf that wants chafing to be sweet

Before they wind it in a singer's hair."

So that one dawn I rode forth sorrowing;

I had no hope but of some evil thing,

And so rode slowly past the windy wheat

And past the vineyard and the water-spring,

Up to the Horsel. A great elder-tree

Held back its heaps of flowers to let me see

The ripe tall grass, and one that walked therein,

Naked, with hair shed over to the knee.

She walked between the blossom and the grass;

I knew the beauty of her, what she was,

The beauty of her body and her sin,

And in my flesh the sin of hers, alas!

Alas! for sorrow is all the end of this.

O sad kissed mouth, how sorrowful it is!

O breast whereat some suckling sorrow clings,

Red with the bitter blossom of a kiss!

Ah, with blind lips I felt for you, and found

About my neck your hands and hair enwound,

The hands that stifle and the hair that stings,

I felt them fasten sharply without sound.

Yea, for my sin I had great store of bliss:

Rise up, make answer for me, let thy kiss

Seal my lips hard from speaking of my sin,

Lest one go mad to hear how sweet it is.

Yet I waxed faint with fume of barren bowers,

And murmuring of the heavy-headed hours;

And let the dove's beak fret and peck within

My lips in vain, and Love shed fruitless flowers.

So that God looked upon me when your hands

Were hot about me; yea, God brake my bands

To save my soul alive, and I came forth

Like a man blind and naked in strange lands

That hears men laugh and weep, and knows not whence

Nor wherefore, but is broken in his sense;

Howbeit I met folk riding from the north

Towards Rome, to purge them of their souls' offence,

And rode with them, and spake to none; the day

Stunned me like lights upon some wizard way,

And ate like fire mine eyes and mine eyesight;

So rode I, hearing all these chant and pray,

And marvelled; till before us rose and fell

White cursed hills, like outer skirts of hell

Seen where men's eyes look through the day to night,

Like a jagged shell's lips, harsh, untunable,

Blown in between by devils' wrangling breath;

Nathless we won well past that hell and death,

Down to the sweet land where all airs are good,

Even unto Rome where God's grace tarrieth.

Then came each man and worshipped at his knees

Who in the Lord God's likeness bears the keys

To bind or loose, and called on Christ's shed blood,

And so the sweet-souled father gave him ease.

But when I came I fell down at his feet,

Saying, "Father, though the Lord's blood be right sweet,

The spot it takes not off the panther's skin,

Nor shall an Ethiop's stain be bleached with it.

"Lo, I have sinned and have spat out at God,

Wherefore his hand is heavier and his rod

More sharp because of mine exceeding sin,

And all his raiment redder than bright blood

"Before mine eyes; yea, for my sake I wot

The heat of hell is waxen seven times hot

Through my great sin." Then spake he some sweet word,

Giving me cheer; which thing availed me not;

Yea, scarce I wist if such indeed were said;

For when I ceased - lo, as one newly dead

Who hears a great cry out of hell, I heard

The crying of his voice across my head.

"Until this dry shred staff, that hath no whit

Of leaf nor bark, bear blossom and smell sweet,

Seek thou not any mercy in God's sight,

For so long shalt thou be cast out from it."

Yea, what if dried-up stems wax red and green,

Shall that thing be which is not nor has been?

Yea, what if sapless bark wax green and white,

Shall any good fruit grow upon my sin?

Nay, though sweet fruit were plucked of a dry tree,

And though men drew sweet waters of the sea,

There should not grow sweet leaves on this dead stem,

This waste wan body and shaken soul of me.

Yea, though God search it warily enough,

There is not one sound thing in all thereof;

Though he search all my veins through, searching them

He shall find nothing whole therein but love.

For I came home right heavy, with small cheer,

And lo my love, mine own soul's heart, more dear

Than mine own soul, more beautiful than God,

Who hath my being between the hands of her -

Fair still, but fair for no man saving me,

As when she came out of the naked sea

Making the foam as fire whereon she trod,

And as the inner flower of fire was she.

Yea, she laid hold upon me, and her mouth

Clove unto mine as soul to body doth,

And, laughing, made her lips luxurious;

Her hair had smells of all the sunburnt south,

Strange spice and flower, strange savour of crushed fruit,

And perfume the swart kings tread underfoot

For pleasure when their minds wax amorous,

Charred frankincense and grated sandal-root.

And I forgot fear and all weary things,

All ended prayers and perished thanksgivings,

Feeling her face with all her eager hair

Cleave to me, clinging as a fire that clings

To the body and to the raiment, burning them;

As after death I know that such-like flame

Shall cleave to me for ever; yea, what care,

Albeit I burn then, having felt the same?

Ah love, there is no better life than this;

To have known love, how bitter a thing it is,

And afterward be cast out of God's sight;

Yea, these that know not, shall they have such bliss

High up in barren heaven before his face

As we twain in the heavy-hearted place,

Remembering love and all the dead delight,

And all that time was sweet with for a space?

For till the thunder in the trumpet be,

Soul may divide from body, but not we

One from another; I hold thee with my hand,

I let mine eyes have all their will of thee,

I seal myself upon thee with my might,

Abiding alway out of all men's sight

Until God loosen over sea and land

The thunder of the trumpets of the night.

Between 1873 and 1878. Edward Coley Burne-Jones 1st Baronet (age 39). "Laus Veneris" or "The Praise of Venus". From the poem Laus Veneris by Algernon Charles Swinburne (age 35).

Tennyson Poems

Mariana in the Moated Grange

In 1830 Alfred Tennyson 1st Baron Tennyson (age 20) published .

With blackest moss the flower-plots

Were thickly crusted, one and all:

The rusted nails fell from the knots

That held the pear to the gable-wall.

The broken sheds look'd sad and strange:

Unlifted was the clinking latch;

Weeded and worn the ancient thatch

Upon the lonely moated grange.

She only said, "My life is dreary,

He cometh not," she said;

She said, "I am aweary, aweary,

I would that I were dead!"

Her tears fell with the dews at even;

Her tears fell ere the dews were dried;

She could not look on the sweet heaven,

Either at morn or eventide.

After the flitting of the bats,

When thickest dark did trance the sky,

She drew her casement-curtain by,

And glanced athwart the glooming flats.

She only said, "The night is dreary,

He cometh not," she said;

She said, "I am aweary, aweary,

I would that I were dead!"

Upon the middle of the night,

Waking she heard the night-fowl crow:

The cock sung out an hour ere light:

From the dark fen the oxen's low

Came to her: without hope of change,

In sleep she seem'd to walk forlorn,

Till cold winds woke the gray-eyed morn

About the lonely moated grange.

She only said, "The day is dreary,

He cometh not," she said;

She said, "I am aweary, aweary,

I would that I were dead!"

About a stone-cast from the wall

A sluice with blacken'd waters slept,

And o'er it many, round and small,

The cluster'd marish-mosses crept.

Hard by a poplar shook alway,

All silver-green with gnarled bark:

For leagues no other tree did mark

The level waste, the rounding gray.

She only said, "My life is dreary,

He cometh not," she said;

She said "I am aweary, aweary

I would that I were dead!"

And ever when the moon was low,

And the shrill winds were up and away,

In the white curtain, to and fro,

She saw the gusty shadow sway.

But when the moon was very low

And wild winds bound within their cell,

The shadow of the poplar fell

Upon her bed, across her brow.

She only said, "The night is dreary,

He cometh not," she said;

She said "I am aweary, aweary,

I would that I were dead!"

All day within the dreamy house,

The doors upon their hinges creak'd;

The blue fly sung in the pane; the mouse

Behind the mouldering wainscot shriek'd,

Or from the crevice peer'd about.

Old faces glimmer'd thro' the doors

Old footsteps trod the upper floors,

Old voices called her from without.

She only said, "My life is dreary,

He cometh not," she said;

She said, "I am aweary, aweary,

I would that I were dead!"

The sparrow's chirrup on the roof,

The slow clock ticking, and the sound

Which to the wooing wind aloof

The poplar made, did all confound

Her sense; but most she loathed the hour

When the thick-moted sunbeam lay

Athwart the chambers, and the day

Was sloping toward his western bower.

Then said she, "I am very dreary,

He will not come," she said;

She wept, "I am aweary, aweary,

Oh God, that I were dead!"

1850 to 1851. John Everett Millais 1st Baronet (age 20). "Mariana". The character in the Shakepeare play Measure for Measure and Tennyson's peom Mariana in the Moated Grange.

The Idylls of the King

Merlin and Vivien

A storm was coming, but the winds were still,

And in the wild woods of Broceliande,

Before an oak, so hollow, huge and old

It looked a tower of ivied masonwork,

At Merlin's feet the wily Vivien lay.

For he that always bare in bitter grudge

The slights of Arthur and his Table, Mark

The Cornish King, had heard a wandering voice,

A minstrel of Caerleon by strong storm

Blown into shelter at Tintagil, say

That out of naked knightlike purity

Sir Lancelot worshipt no unmarried girl

But the great Queen herself, fought in her name,

Sware by her-vows like theirs, that high in heaven

Love most, but neither marry, nor are given

In marriage, angels of our Lord's report.

He ceased, and then-for Vivien sweetly said

(She sat beside the banquet nearest Mark),

"And is the fair example followed, Sir,

In Arthur's household?"-answered innocently:

"Ay, by some few-ay, truly-youths that hold

It more beseems the perfect virgin knight

To worship woman as true wife beyond

All hopes of gaining, than as maiden girl.

They place their pride in Lancelot and the Queen.

So passionate for an utter purity

Beyond the limit of their bond, are these,

For Arthur bound them not to singleness.

Brave hearts and clean! and yet-God guide them-young."

Then Mark was half in heart to hurl his cup

Straight at the speaker, but forbore: he rose

To leave the hall, and, Vivien following him,

Turned to her. "Here are snakes within the grass;

And you methinks, O Vivien, save ye fear

The monkish manhood, and the mask of pure

Worn by this court, can stir them till they sting."

And Vivien answered, smiling scornfully,

"Why fear? because that fostered at thy court

I savour of thy-virtues? fear them? no.

As Love, if Love is perfect, casts out fear,

So Hate, if Hate is perfect, casts out fear.

My father died in battle against the King,

My mother on his corpse in open field;

She bore me there, for born from death was I

Among the dead and sown upon the wind-

And then on thee! and shown the truth betimes,

That old true filth, and bottom of the well

Where Truth is hidden. Gracious lessons thine

And maxims of the mud! 'This Arthur pure!

Great Nature through the flesh herself hath made

Gives him the lie! There is no being pure,

My cherub; saith not Holy Writ the same?'-

If I were Arthur, I would have thy blood.

Thy blessing, stainless King! I bring thee back,

When I have ferreted out their burrowings,

The hearts of all this Order in mine hand-

Ay-so that fate and craft and folly close,

Perchance, one curl of Arthur's golden beard.

To me this narrow grizzled fork of thine

Is cleaner-fashioned-Well, I loved thee first,

That warps the wit."

Loud laughed the graceless Mark,

But Vivien, into Camelot stealing, lodged

Low in the city, and on a festal day

When Guinevere was crossing the great hall

Cast herself down, knelt to the Queen, and wailed.

"Why kneel ye there? What evil hath ye wrought?

Rise!" and the damsel bidden rise arose

And stood with folded hands and downward eyes

Of glancing corner, and all meekly said,

"None wrought, but suffered much, an orphan maid!

My father died in battle for thy King,

My mother on his corpse-in open field,

The sad sea-sounding wastes of Lyonnesse-

Poor wretch-no friend!-and now by Mark the King

For that small charm of feature mine, pursued-

If any such be mine-I fly to thee.

Save, save me thou-Woman of women-thine

The wreath of beauty, thine the crown of power,

Be thine the balm of pity, O Heaven's own white

Earth-angel, stainless bride of stainless King-

Help, for he follows! take me to thyself!

O yield me shelter for mine innocency

Among thy maidens!

Here her slow sweet eyes

Fear-tremulous, but humbly hopeful, rose

Fixt on her hearer's, while the Queen who stood

All glittering like May sunshine on May leaves

In green and gold, and plumed with green replied,

"Peace, child! of overpraise and overblame

We choose the last. Our noble Arthur, him

Ye scarce can overpraise, will hear and know.

Nay-we believe all evil of thy Mark-

Well, we shall test thee farther; but this hour

We ride a-hawking with Sir Lancelot.

He hath given us a fair falcon which he trained;

We go to prove it. Bide ye here the while."

She past; and Vivien murmured after "Go!

I bide the while." Then through the portal-arch

Peering askance, and muttering broken-wise,

As one that labours with an evil dream,

Beheld the Queen and Lancelot get to horse.

"Is that the Lancelot? goodly-ay, but gaunt:

Courteous-amends for gauntness-takes her hand-

That glance of theirs, but for the street, had been

A clinging kiss-how hand lingers in hand!

Let go at last!-they ride away-to hawk

For waterfowl. Royaller game is mine.

For such a supersensual sensual bond

As that gray cricket chirpt of at our hearth-

Touch flax with flame-a glance will serve-the liars!

Ah little rat that borest in the dyke

Thy hole by night to let the boundless deep

Down upon far-off cities while they dance-

Or dream-of thee they dreamed not-nor of me

These-ay, but each of either: ride, and dream

The mortal dream that never yet was mine-

Ride, ride and dream until ye wake-to me!

Then, narrow court and lubber King, farewell!

For Lancelot will be gracious to the rat,

And our wise Queen, if knowing that I know,

Will hate, loathe, fear-but honour me the more."

Yet while they rode together down the plain,

Their talk was all of training, terms of art,

Diet and seeling, jesses, leash and lure.

"She is too noble" he said "to check at pies,

Nor will she rake: there is no baseness in her."

Here when the Queen demanded as by chance

"Know ye the stranger woman?. "Let her be,"

Said Lancelot and unhooded casting off

The goodly falcon free; she towered; her bells,

Tone under tone, shrilled; and they lifted up

Their eager faces, wondering at the strength,

Boldness and royal knighthood of the bird

Who pounced her quarry and slew it. Many a time

As once-of old-among the flowers-they rode.

But Vivien half-forgotten of the Queen

Among her damsels broidering sat, heard, watched

And whispered: through the peaceful court she crept

And whispered: then as Arthur in the highest

Leavened the world, so Vivien in the lowest,

Arriving at a time of golden rest,

And sowing one ill hint from ear to ear,

While all the heathen lay at Arthur's feet,

And no quest came, but all was joust and play,

Leavened his hall. They heard and let her be.

Thereafter as an enemy that has left

Death in the living waters, and withdrawn,

The wily Vivien stole from Arthur's court.

She hated all the knights, and heard in thought

Their lavish comment when her name was named.

For once, when Arthur walking all alone,

Vext at a rumour issued from herself

Of some corruption crept among his knights,

Had met her, Vivien, being greeted fair,

Would fain have wrought upon his cloudy mood

With reverent eyes mock-loyal, shaken voice,

And fluttered adoration, and at last

With dark sweet hints of some who prized him more

Than who should prize him most; at which the King

Had gazed upon her blankly and gone by:

But one had watched, and had not held his peace:

It made the laughter of an afternoon

That Vivien should attempt the blameless King.

And after that, she set herself to gain

Him, the most famous man of all those times,

Merlin, who knew the range of all their arts,

Had built the King his havens, ships, and halls,

Was also Bard, and knew the starry heavens;

The people called him Wizard; whom at first

She played about with slight and sprightly talk,

And vivid smiles, and faintly-venomed points

Of slander, glancing here and grazing there;

And yielding to his kindlier moods, the Seer

Would watch her at her petulance, and play,

Even when they seemed unloveable, and laugh

As those that watch a kitten; thus he grew

Tolerant of what he half disdained, and she,

Perceiving that she was but half disdained,

Began to break her sports with graver fits,

Turn red or pale, would often when they met

Sigh fully, or all-silent gaze upon him

With such a fixt devotion, that the old man,

Though doubtful, felt the flattery, and at times

Would flatter his own wish in age for love,

And half believe her true: for thus at times

He wavered; but that other clung to him,

Fixt in her will, and so the seasons went.

Then fell on Merlin a great melancholy;

He walked with dreams and darkness, and he found

A doom that ever poised itself to fall,

An ever-moaning battle in the mist,

World-war of dying flesh against the life,

Death in all life and lying in all love,

The meanest having power upon the highest,

And the high purpose broken by the worm.

So leaving Arthur's court he gained the beach;

There found a little boat, and stept into it;

And Vivien followed, but he marked her not.

She took the helm and he the sail; the boat

Drave with a sudden wind across the deeps,

And touching Breton sands, they disembarked.

And then she followed Merlin all the way,

Even to the wild woods of Broceliande.

For Merlin once had told her of a charm,

The which if any wrought on anyone

With woven paces and with waving arms,

The man so wrought on ever seemed to lie

Closed in the four walls of a hollow tower,

From which was no escape for evermore;

And none could find that man for evermore,

Nor could he see but him who wrought the charm

Coming and going, and he lay as dead

And lost to life and use and name and fame.

And Vivien ever sought to work the charm

Upon the great Enchanter of the Time,

As fancying that her glory would be great

According to his greatness whom she quenched.

There lay she all her length and kissed his feet,

As if in deepest reverence and in love.

A twist of gold was round her hair; a robe

Of samite without price, that more exprest

Than hid her, clung about her lissome limbs,

In colour like the satin-shining palm

On sallows in the windy gleams of March:

And while she kissed them, crying, "Trample me,

Dear feet, that I have followed through the world,

And I will pay you worship; tread me down

And I will kiss you for it;" he was mute:

So dark a forethought rolled about his brain,

As on a dull day in an Ocean cave

The blind wave feeling round his long sea-hall

In silence: wherefore, when she lifted up

A face of sad appeal, and spake and said,

"O Merlin, do ye love me?" and again,

"O Merlin, do ye love me?" and once more,

"Great Master, do ye love me?" he was mute.

And lissome Vivien, holding by his heel,

Writhed toward him, slided up his knee and sat,

Behind his ankle twined her hollow feet

Together, curved an arm about his neck,

Clung like a snake; and letting her left hand

Droop from his mighty shoulder, as a leaf,

Made with her right a comb of pearl to part

The lists of such a board as youth gone out

Had left in ashes: then he spoke and said,

Not looking at her, "Who are wise in love

Love most, say least," and Vivien answered quick,

"I saw the little elf-god eyeless once

In Arthur's arras hall at Camelot:

But neither eyes nor tongue-O stupid child!

Yet you are wise who say it; let me think

Silence is wisdom: I am silent then,

And ask no kiss;" then adding all at once,

"And lo, I clothe myself with wisdom," drew

The vast and shaggy mantle of his beard

Across her neck and bosom to her knee,

And called herself a gilded summer fly

Caught in a great old tyrant spider's web,

Who meant to eat her up in that wild wood

Without one word. So Vivien called herself,

But rather seemed a lovely baleful star

Veiled in gray vapour; till he sadly smiled:

"To what request for what strange boon," he said,

"Are these your pretty tricks and fooleries,

O Vivien, the preamble? yet my thanks,

For these have broken up my melancholy."

And Vivien answered smiling saucily,

"What, O my Master, have ye found your voice?

I bid the stranger welcome. Thanks at last!

But yesterday you never opened lip,

Except indeed to drink: no cup had we:

In mine own lady palms I culled the spring

That gathered trickling dropwise from the cleft,

And made a pretty cup of both my hands

And offered you it kneeling: then you drank

And knew no more, nor gave me one poor word;

O no more thanks than might a goat have given

With no more sign of reverence than a beard.

And when we halted at that other well,

And I was faint to swooning, and you lay

Foot-gilt with all the blossom-dust of those

Deep meadows we had traversed, did you know

That Vivien bathed your feet before her own?

And yet no thanks: and all through this wild wood

And all this morning when I fondled you:

Boon, ay, there was a boon, one not so strange-

How had I wronged you? surely ye are wise,

But such a silence is more wise than kind."

And Merlin locked his hand in hers and said:

"O did ye never lie upon the shore,

And watch the curled white of the coming wave

Glassed in the slippery sand before it breaks?

Even such a wave, but not so pleasurable,

Dark in the glass of some presageful mood,

Had I for three days seen, ready to fall.

And then I rose and fled from Arthur's court

To break the mood. You followed me unasked;

And when I looked, and saw you following me still,

My mind involved yourself the nearest thing

In that mind-mist: for shall I tell you truth?

You seemed that wave about to break upon me

And sweep me from my hold upon the world,

My use and name and fame. Your pardon, child.

Your pretty sports have brightened all again.

And ask your boon, for boon I owe you thrice,

Once for wrong done you by confusion, next

For thanks it seems till now neglected, last

For these your dainty gambols: wherefore ask;

And take this boon so strange and not so strange."

And Vivien answered smiling mournfully:

"O not so strange as my long asking it,

Not yet so strange as you yourself are strange,

Nor half so strange as that dark mood of yours.

I ever feared ye were not wholly mine;

And see, yourself have owned ye did me wrong.

The people call you prophet: let it be:

But not of those that can expound themselves.

Take Vivien for expounder; she will call

That three-days-long presageful gloom of yours

No presage, but the same mistrustful mood

That makes you seem less noble than yourself,

Whenever I have asked this very boon,

Now asked again: for see you not, dear love,

That such a mood as that, which lately gloomed

Your fancy when ye saw me following you,

Must make me fear still more you are not mine,

Must make me yearn still more to prove you mine,

And make me wish still more to learn this charm

Of woven paces and of waving hands,

As proof of trust. O Merlin, teach it me.

The charm so taught will charm us both to rest.

For, grant me some slight power upon your fate,

I, feeling that you felt me worthy trust,

Should rest and let you rest, knowing you mine.

And therefore be as great as ye are named,

Not muffled round with selfish reticence.

How hard you look and how denyingly!

O, if you think this wickedness in me,

That I should prove it on you unawares,

That makes me passing wrathful; then our bond

Had best be loosed for ever: but think or not,

By Heaven that hears I tell you the clean truth,

As clean as blood of babes, as white as milk:

O Merlin, may this earth, if ever I,

If these unwitty wandering wits of mine,

Even in the jumbled rubbish of a dream,

Have tript on such conjectural treachery-

May this hard earth cleave to the Nadir hell

Down, down, and close again, and nip me flat,

If I be such a traitress. Yield my boon,

Till which I scarce can yield you all I am;

And grant my re-reiterated wish,

The great proof of your love: because I think,

However wise, ye hardly know me yet."

And Merlin loosed his hand from hers and said,

"I never was less wise, however wise,

Too curious Vivien, though you talk of trust,

Than when I told you first of such a charm.

Yea, if ye talk of trust I tell you this,

Too much I trusted when I told you that,

And stirred this vice in you which ruined man

Through woman the first hour; for howsoe'er

In children a great curiousness be well,

Who have to learn themselves and all the world,

In you, that are no child, for still I find

Your face is practised when I spell the lines,

I call it,-well, I will not call it vice:

But since you name yourself the summer fly,

I well could wish a cobweb for the gnat,

That settles, beaten back, and beaten back

Settles, till one could yield for weariness:

But since I will not yield to give you power

Upon my life and use and name and fame,

Why will ye never ask some other boon?

Yea, by God's rood, I trusted you too much."

And Vivien, like the tenderest-hearted maid

That ever bided tryst at village stile,

Made answer, either eyelid wet with tears:

"Nay, Master, be not wrathful with your maid;

Caress her: let her feel herself forgiven

Who feels no heart to ask another boon.

I think ye hardly know the tender rhyme

Of 'trust me not at all or all in all.'

I heard the great Sir Lancelot sing it once,

And it shall answer for me. Listen to it.

'In Love, if Love be Love, if Love be ours,

Faith and unfaith can ne'er be equal powers:

Unfaith in aught is want of faith in all.

'It is the little rift within the lute,

That by and by will make the music mute,

And ever widening slowly silence all.

'The little rift within the lover's lute

Or little pitted speck in garnered fruit,

That rotting inward slowly moulders all.

'It is not worth the keeping: let it go:

But shall it? answer, darling, answer, no.

And trust me not at all or all in all.'

O Master, do ye love my tender rhyme?"

And Merlin looked and half believed her true,

So tender was her voice, so fair her face,

So sweetly gleamed her eyes behind her tears

Like sunlight on the plain behind a shower:

And yet he answered half indignantly:

"Far other was the song that once I heard

By this huge oak, sung nearly where we sit:

For here we met, some ten or twelve of us,

To chase a creature that was current then

In these wild woods, the hart with golden horns.

It was the time when first the question rose

About the founding of a Table Round,

That was to be, for love of God and men

And noble deeds, the flower of all the world.

And each incited each to noble deeds.

And while we waited, one, the youngest of us,

We could not keep him silent, out he flashed,

And into such a song, such fire for fame,

Such trumpet-glowings in it, coming down

To such a stern and iron-clashing close,

That when he stopt we longed to hurl together,

And should have done it; but the beauteous beast

Scared by the noise upstarted at our feet,

And like a silver shadow slipt away

Through the dim land; and all day long we rode

Through the dim land against a rushing wind,

That glorious roundel echoing in our ears,

And chased the flashes of his golden horns

Till they vanished by the fairy well

That laughs at iron-as our warriors did-

Where children cast their pins and nails, and cry,

'Laugh, little well!' but touch it with a sword,

It buzzes fiercely round the point; and there

We lost him: such a noble song was that.

But, Vivien, when you sang me that sweet rhyme,

I felt as though you knew this cursed charm,

Were proving it on me, and that I lay

And felt them slowly ebbing, name and fame."

And Vivien answered smiling mournfully:

"O mine have ebbed away for evermore,

And all through following you to this wild wood,

Because I saw you sad, to comfort you.

Lo now, what hearts have men! they never mount

As high as woman in her selfless mood.

And touching fame, howe'er ye scorn my song,

Take one verse more-the lady speaks it-this:

"'My name, once mine, now thine, is closelier mine,

For fame, could fame be mine, that fame were thine,

And shame, could shame be thine, that shame were mine.

So trust me not at all or all in all.'

"Says she not well? and there is more-this rhyme

Is like the fair pearl-necklace of the Queen,

That burst in dancing, and the pearls were spilt;

Some lost, some stolen, some as relics kept.

But nevermore the same two sister pearls

Ran down the silken thread to kiss each other

On her white neck-so is it with this rhyme:

It lives dispersedly in many hands,

And every minstrel sings it differently;

Yet is there one true line, the pearl of pearls:

'Man dreams of Fame while woman wakes to love.'

Yea! Love, though Love were of the grossest, carves

A portion from the solid present, eats

And uses, careless of the rest; but Fame,

The Fame that follows death is nothing to us;

And what is Fame in life but half-disfame,

And counterchanged with darkness? ye yourself

Know well that Envy calls you Devil's son,

And since ye seem the Master of all Art,

They fain would make you Master of all vice."

And Merlin locked his hand in hers and said,

"I once was looking for a magic weed,

And found a fair young squire who sat alone,

Had carved himself a knightly shield of wood,

And then was painting on it fancied arms,

Azure, an Eagle rising or, the Sun

In dexter chief; the scroll 'I follow fame.'

And speaking not, but leaning over him

I took his brush and blotted out the bird,

And made a Gardener putting in a graff,

With this for motto, 'Rather use than fame.'

You should have seen him blush; but afterwards

He made a stalwart knight. O Vivien,

For you, methinks you think you love me well;

For me, I love you somewhat; rest: and Love

Should have some rest and pleasure in himself,

Not ever be too curious for a boon,

Too prurient for a proof against the grain

Of him ye say ye love: but Fame with men,

Being but ampler means to serve mankind,

Should have small rest or pleasure in herself,

But work as vassal to the larger love,

That dwarfs the petty love of one to one.

Use gave me Fame at first, and Fame again

Increasing gave me use. Lo, there my boon!

What other? for men sought to prove me vile,

Because I fain had given them greater wits:

And then did Envy call me Devil's son:

The sick weak beast seeking to help herself

By striking at her better, missed, and brought

Her own claw back, and wounded her own heart.

Sweet were the days when I was all unknown,

But when my name was lifted up, the storm

Brake on the mountain and I cared not for it.

Right well know I that Fame is half-disfame,

Yet needs must work my work. That other fame,

To one at least, who hath not children, vague,

The cackle of the unborn about the grave,

I cared not for it: a single misty star,

Which is the second in a line of stars

That seem a sword beneath a belt of three,

I never gazed upon it but I dreamt

Of some vast charm concluded in that star

To make fame nothing. Wherefore, if I fear,

Giving you power upon me through this charm,

That you might play me falsely, having power,

However well ye think ye love me now

(As sons of kings loving in pupilage

Have turned to tyrants when they came to power)

I rather dread the loss of use than fame;

If you-and not so much from wickedness,

As some wild turn of anger, or a mood

Of overstrained affection, it may be,

To keep me all to your own self,-or else

A sudden spurt of woman's jealousy,-

Should try this charm on whom ye say ye love."

And Vivien answered smiling as in wrath:

"Have I not sworn? I am not trusted. Good!

Well, hide it, hide it; I shall find it out;

And being found take heed of Vivien.

A woman and not trusted, doubtless I

Might feel some sudden turn of anger born

Of your misfaith; and your fine epithet

Is accurate too, for this full love of mine

Without the full heart back may merit well

Your term of overstrained. So used as I,

My daily wonder is, I love at all.

And as to woman's jealousy, O why not?

O to what end, except a jealous one,

And one to make me jealous if I love,

Was this fair charm invented by yourself?

I well believe that all about this world

Ye cage a buxom captive here and there,

Closed in the four walls of a hollow tower

From which is no escape for evermore."

Then the great Master merrily answered her:

"Full many a love in loving youth was mine;

I needed then no charm to keep them mine

But youth and love; and that full heart of yours

Whereof ye prattle, may now assure you mine;

So live uncharmed. For those who wrought it first,

The wrist is parted from the hand that waved,

The feet unmortised from their ankle-bones

Who paced it, ages back: but will ye hear

The legend as in guerdon for your rhyme?

"There lived a king in the most Eastern East,

Less old than I, yet older, for my blood

Hath earnest in it of far springs to be.

A tawny pirate anchored in his port,

Whose bark had plundered twenty nameless isles;

And passing one, at the high peep of dawn,

He saw two cities in a thousand boats

All fighting for a woman on the sea.

And pushing his black craft among them all,

He lightly scattered theirs and brought her off,

With loss of half his people arrow-slain;

A maid so smooth, so white, so wonderful,

They said a light came from her when she moved:

And since the pirate would not yield her up,

The King impaled him for his piracy;

Then made her Queen: but those isle-nurtured eyes

Waged such unwilling though successful war

On all the youth, they sickened; councils thinned,

And armies waned, for magnet-like she drew

The rustiest iron of old fighters' hearts;

And beasts themselves would worship; camels knelt

Unbidden, and the brutes of mountain back

That carry kings in castles, bowed black knees

Of homage, ringing with their serpent hands,

To make her smile, her golden ankle-bells.

What wonder, being jealous, that he sent

His horns of proclamation out through all

The hundred under-kingdoms that he swayed

To find a wizard who might teach the King

Some charm, which being wrought upon the Queen

Might keep her all his own: to such a one

He promised more than ever king has given,

A league of mountain full of golden mines,

A province with a hundred miles of coast,

A palace and a princess, all for him:

But on all those who tried and failed, the King

Pronounced a dismal sentence, meaning by it

To keep the list low and pretenders back,

Or like a king, not to be trifled with-

Their heads should moulder on the city gates.

And many tried and failed, because the charm

Of nature in her overbore their own:

And many a wizard brow bleached on the walls:

And many weeks a troop of carrion crows

Hung like a cloud above the gateway towers."

And Vivien breaking in upon him, said:

"I sit and gather honey; yet, methinks,

Thy tongue has tript a little: ask thyself.

The lady never made unwilling war

With those fine eyes: she had her pleasure in it,

And made her good man jealous with good cause.

And lived there neither dame nor damsel then

Wroth at a lover's loss? were all as tame,

I mean, as noble, as the Queen was fair?

Not one to flirt a venom at her eyes,

Or pinch a murderous dust into her drink,

Or make her paler with a poisoned rose?

Well, those were not our days: but did they find

A wizard? Tell me, was he like to thee?

She ceased, and made her lithe arm round his neck

Tighten, and then drew back, and let her eyes

Speak for her, glowing on him, like a bride's

On her new lord, her own, the first of men.

He answered laughing, "Nay, not like to me.

At last they found-his foragers for charms-

A little glassy-headed hairless man,

Who lived alone in a great wild on grass;

Read but one book, and ever reading grew

So grated down and filed away with thought,

So lean his eyes were monstrous; while the skin

Clung but to crate and basket, ribs and spine.

And since he kept his mind on one sole aim,

Nor ever touched fierce wine, nor tasted flesh,

Nor owned a sensual wish, to him the wall

That sunders ghosts and shadow-casting men

Became a crystal, and he saw them through it,

And heard their voices talk behind the wall,

And learnt their elemental secrets, powers

And forces; often o'er the sun's bright eye

Drew the vast eyelid of an inky cloud,

And lashed it at the base with slanting storm;

Or in the noon of mist and driving rain,

When the lake whitened and the pinewood roared,

And the cairned mountain was a shadow, sunned

The world to peace again: here was the man.

And so by force they dragged him to the King.

And then he taught the King to charm the Queen

In such-wise, that no man could see her more,

Nor saw she save the King, who wrought the charm,

Coming and going, and she lay as dead,

And lost all use of life: but when the King

Made proffer of the league of golden mines,

The province with a hundred miles of coast,

The palace and the princess, that old man

Went back to his old wild, and lived on grass,

And vanished, and his book came down to me."

And Vivien answered smiling saucily:

"Ye have the book: the charm is written in it:

Good: take my counsel: let me know it at once:

For keep it like a puzzle chest in chest,

With each chest locked and padlocked thirty-fold,

And whelm all this beneath as vast a mound

As after furious battle turfs the slain

On some wild down above the windy deep,

I yet should strike upon a sudden means

To dig, pick, open, find and read the charm:

Then, if I tried it, who should blame me then?"

And smiling as a master smiles at one

That is not of his school, nor any school

But that where blind and naked Ignorance

Delivers brawling judgments, unashamed,

On all things all day long, he answered her:

"Thou read the book, my pretty Vivien!

O ay, it is but twenty pages long,

But every page having an ample marge,

And every marge enclosing in the midst

A square of text that looks a little blot,

The text no larger than the limbs of fleas;

And every square of text an awful charm,

Writ in a language that has long gone by.

So long, that mountains have arisen since

With cities on their flanks-thou read the book!

And ever margin scribbled, crost, and crammed

With comment, densest condensation, hard

To mind and eye; but the long sleepless nights

Of my long life have made it easy to me.

And none can read the text, not even I;

And none can read the comment but myself;

And in the comment did I find the charm.

O, the results are simple; a mere child

Might use it to the harm of anyone,

And never could undo it: ask no more:

For though you should not prove it upon me,

But keep that oath ye sware, ye might, perchance,

Assay it on some one of the Table Round,

And all because ye dream they babble of you."

And Vivien, frowning in true anger, said:

"What dare the full-fed liars say of me?

They ride abroad redressing human wrongs!

They sit with knife in meat and wine in horn!

They bound to holy vows of chastity!

Were I not woman, I could tell a tale.

But you are man, you well can understand

The shame that cannot be explained for shame.

Not one of all the drove should touch me: swine!"

Then answered Merlin careless of her words:

"You breathe but accusation vast and vague,

Spleen-born, I think, and proofless. If ye know,

Set up the charge ye know, to stand or fall!"

And Vivien answered frowning wrathfully:

"O ay, what say ye to Sir Valence, him

Whose kinsman left him watcher o'er his wife

And two fair babes, and went to distant lands;

Was one year gone, and on returning found

Not two but three? there lay the reckling, one

But one hour old! What said the happy sire?"

A seven-months' babe had been a truer gift.

Those twelve sweet moons confused his fatherhood."

Then answered Merlin, "Nay, I know the tale.

Sir Valence wedded with an outland dame:

Some cause had kept him sundered from his wife:

One child they had: it lived with her: she died:

His kinsman travelling on his own affair

Was charged by Valence to bring home the child.

He brought, not found it therefore: take the truth."

"O ay," said Vivien, "overtrue a tale.

What say ye then to sweet Sir Sagramore,

That ardent man? 'to pluck the flower in season,'

So says the song, 'I trow it is no treason.'

O Master, shall we call him overquick

To crop his own sweet rose before the hour?"

And Merlin answered, "Overquick art thou

To catch a loathly plume fallen from the wing

Of that foul bird of rapine whose whole prey

Is man's good name: he never wronged his bride.

I know the tale. An angry gust of wind

Puffed out his torch among the myriad-roomed

And many-corridored complexities

Of Arthur's palace: then he found a door,

And darkling felt the sculptured ornament

That wreathen round it made it seem his own;

And wearied out made for the couch and slept,

A stainless man beside a stainless maid;

And either slept, nor knew of other there;

Till the high dawn piercing the royal rose

In Arthur's casement glimmered chastely down,

Blushing upon them blushing, and at once

He rose without a word and parted from her:

But when the thing was blazed about the court,

The brute world howling forced them into bonds,

And as it chanced they are happy, being pure."

"O ay," said Vivien, "that were likely too.

What say ye then to fair Sir Percivale

And of the horrid foulness that he wrought,

The saintly youth, the spotless lamb of Christ,

Or some black wether of St Satan's fold.

What, in the precincts of the chapel-yard,

Among the knightly brasses of the graves,

And by the cold Hic Jacets of the dead!"

And Merlin answered careless of her charge,

"A sober man is Percivale and pure;

But once in life was flustered with new wine,

Then paced for coolness in the chapel-yard;

Where one of Satan's shepherdesses caught

And meant to stamp him with her master's mark;

And that he sinned is not believable;

For, look upon his face!-but if he sinned,

The sin that practice burns into the blood,

And not the one dark hour which brings remorse,

Will brand us, after, of whose fold we be:

Or else were he, the holy king, whose hymns

Are chanted in the minster, worse than all.

But is your spleen frothed out, or have ye more?"

And Vivien answered frowning yet in wrath:

"O ay; what say ye to Sir Lancelot, friend

Traitor or true? that commerce with the Queen,

I ask you, is it clamoured by the child,

Or whispered in the corner? do ye know it?"

To which he answered sadly, "Yea, I know it.

Sir Lancelot went ambassador, at first,

To fetch her, and she watched him from her walls.

A rumour runs, she took him for the King,

So fixt her fancy on him: let them be.

But have ye no one word of loyal praise

For Arthur, blameless King and stainless man?"

She answered with a low and chuckling laugh:

"Man! is he man at all, who knows and winks?

Sees what his fair bride is and does, and winks?

By which the good King means to blind himself,

And blinds himself and all the Table Round

To all the foulness that they work. Myself

Could call him (were it not for womanhood)

The pretty, popular cause such manhood earns,

Could call him the main cause of all their crime;

Yea, were he not crowned King, coward, and fool."

Then Merlin to his own heart, loathing, said:

"O true and tender! O my liege and King!

O selfless man and stainless gentleman,

Who wouldst against thine own eye-witness fain

Have all men true and leal, all women pure;

How, in the mouths of base interpreters,

From over-fineness not intelligible

To things with every sense as false and foul

As the poached filth that floods the middle street,

Is thy white blamelessness accounted blame!"

But Vivien, deeming Merlin overborne

By instance, recommenced, and let her tongue

Rage like a fire among the noblest names,

Polluting, and imputing her whole self,

Defaming and defacing, till she left

Not even Lancelot brave, nor Galahad clean.

Her words had issue other than she willed.

He dragged his eyebrow bushes down, and made

A snowy penthouse for his hollow eyes,

And muttered in himself, "Tell her the charm!

So, if she had it, would she rail on me

To snare the next, and if she have it not

So will she rail. What did the wanton say?

'Not mount as high;' we scarce can sink as low:

For men at most differ as Heaven and earth,

But women, worst and best, as Heaven and Hell.

I know the Table Round, my friends of old;

All brave, and many generous, and some chaste.

She cloaks the scar of some repulse with lies;

I well believe she tempted them and failed,

Being so bitter: for fine plots may fail,

Though harlots paint their talk as well as face

With colours of the heart that are not theirs.

I will not let her know: nine tithes of times

Face-flatterer and backbiter are the same.

And they, sweet soul, that most impute a crime

Are pronest to it, and impute themselves,

Wanting the mental range; or low desire

Not to feel lowest makes them level all;

Yea, they would pare the mountain to the plain,

To leave an equal baseness; and in this

Are harlots like the crowd, that if they find

Some stain or blemish in a name of note,

Not grieving that their greatest are so small,

Inflate themselves with some insane delight,

And judge all nature from her feet of clay,

Without the will to lift their eyes, and see

Her godlike head crowned with spiritual fire,

And touching other worlds. I am weary of her."

He spoke in words part heard, in whispers part,

Half-suffocated in the hoary fell

And many-wintered fleece of throat and chin.

But Vivien, gathering somewhat of his mood,

And hearing "harlot" muttered twice or thrice,

Leapt from her session on his lap, and stood

Stiff as a viper frozen; loathsome sight,

How from the rosy lips of life and love,

Flashed the bare-grinning skeleton of death!

White was her cheek; sharp breaths of anger puffed

Her fairy nostril out; her hand half-clenched

Went faltering sideways downward to her belt,

And feeling; had she found a dagger there

(For in a wink the false love turns to hate)

She would have stabbed him; but she found it not:

His eye was calm, and suddenly she took

To bitter weeping like a beaten child,

A long, long weeping, not consolable.

Then her false voice made way, broken with sobs:

"O crueller than was ever told in tale,

Or sung in song! O vainly lavished love!

O cruel, there was nothing wild or strange,

Or seeming shameful-for what shame in love,

So love be true, and not as yours is-nothing

Poor Vivien had not done to win his trust

Who called her what he called her-all her crime,

All-all-the wish to prove him wholly hers."

She mused a little, and then clapt her hands

Together with a wailing shriek, and said:

"Stabbed through the heart's affections to the heart!

Seethed like the kid in its own mother's milk!

Killed with a word worse than a life of blows!

I thought that he was gentle, being great:

O God, that I had loved a smaller man!

I should have found in him a greater heart.

O, I, that flattering my true passion, saw

The knights, the court, the King, dark in your light,

Who loved to make men darker than they are,

Because of that high pleasure which I had

To seat you sole upon my pedestal

Of worship-I am answered, and henceforth

The course of life that seemed so flowery to me

With you for guide and master, only you,

Becomes the sea-cliff pathway broken short,

And ending in a ruin-nothing left,

But into some low cave to crawl, and there,

If the wolf spare me, weep my life away,

Killed with inutterable unkindliness."

She paused, she turned away, she hung her head,

The snake of gold slid from her hair, the braid

Slipt and uncoiled itself, she wept afresh,

And the dark wood grew darker toward the storm

In silence, while his anger slowly died

Within him, till he let his wisdom go

For ease of heart, and half believed her true:

Called her to shelter in the hollow oak,

"Come from the storm," and having no reply,

Gazed at the heaving shoulder, and the face

Hand-hidden, as for utmost grief or shame;

Then thrice essayed, by tenderest-touching terms,

To sleek her ruffled peace of mind, in vain.

At last she let herself be conquered by him,

And as the cageling newly flown returns,

The seeming-injured simple-hearted thing

Came to her old perch back, and settled there.

There while she sat, half-falling from his knees,

Half-nestled at his heart, and since he saw

The slow tear creep from her closed eyelid yet,

About her, more in kindness than in love,

The gentle wizard cast a shielding arm.

But she dislinked herself at once and rose,

Her arms upon her breast across, and stood,

A virtuous gentlewoman deeply wronged,

Upright and flushed before him: then she said:

"There must now be no passages of love

Betwixt us twain henceforward evermore;

Since, if I be what I am grossly called,

What should be granted which your own gross heart

Would reckon worth the taking? I will go.

In truth, but one thing now-better have died

Thrice than have asked it once-could make me stay-

That proof of trust-so often asked in vain!

How justly, after that vile term of yours,

I find with grief! I might believe you then,

Who knows? once more. Lo! what was once to me

Mere matter of the fancy, now hath grown

The vast necessity of heart and life.

Farewell; think gently of me, for I fear

My fate or folly, passing gayer youth

For one so old, must be to love thee still.

But ere I leave thee let me swear once more

That if I schemed against thy peace in this,

May yon just heaven, that darkens o'er me, send

One flash, that, missing all things else, may make

My scheming brain a cinder, if I lie."

Scarce had she ceased, when out of heaven a bolt

(For now the storm was close above them) struck,

Furrowing a giant oak, and javelining

With darted spikes and splinters of the wood

The dark earth round. He raised his eyes and saw

The tree that shone white-listed through the gloom.

But Vivien, fearing heaven had heard her oath,

And dazzled by the livid-flickering fork,

And deafened with the stammering cracks and claps

That followed, flying back and crying out,

"O Merlin, though you do not love me, save,

Yet save me!" clung to him and hugged him close;

And called him dear protector in her fright,

Nor yet forgot her practice in her fright,

But wrought upon his mood and hugged him close.

The pale blood of the wizard at her touch

Took gayer colours, like an opal warmed.

She blamed herself for telling hearsay tales:

She shook from fear, and for her fault she wept

Of petulancy; she called him lord and liege,

Her seer, her bard, her silver star of eve,

Her God, her Merlin, the one passionate love

Of her whole life; and ever overhead

Bellowed the tempest, and the rotten branch

Snapt in the rushing of the river-rain

Above them; and in change of glare and gloom

Her eyes and neck glittering went and came;

Till now the storm, its burst of passion spent,

Moaning and calling out of other lands,

Had left the ravaged woodland yet once more

To peace; and what should not have been had been,

For Merlin, overtalked and overworn,

Had yielded, told her all the charm, and slept.

Then, in one moment, she put forth the charm

Of woven paces and of waving hands,

And in the hollow oak he lay as dead,

And lost to life and use and name and fame.

Then crying "I have made his glory mine,"

And shrieking out "O fool!" the harlot leapt

Adown the forest, and the thicket closed

Behind her, and the forest echoed "fool."

1863. Frederick Sandys (age 33). "Vivien". The subject of the picture is Vivien, also known as the Lady of the Lake, the enchantress of Merlin from Alfred Tennyson's (age 53) poetic work Idylls of the King. The model was Keomi aka Keytumas Gray (age 21).

The Beggar Maid

In 1833 Alfred Tennyson 1st Baron Tennyson (age 23) wrote The Beggar Maid:

Her arms across her breast she laid;

She was more fair than words can say:

Bare-footed came the beggar maid

Before the king Cophetua.

In robe and crown the king stept down,

To meet and greet her on her way;

"It is no wonder," said the lords,

"She is more beautiful than day".

As shines the moon in clouded skies,

She in her poor attire was seen:

One praised her ancles, one her eyes,

One her dark hair and lovesome mien:

So sweet a face, such angel grace,

In all that land had never been:

Cophetua sware a royal oath:

"This beggar maid shall be my queen!"

1884. Edward Coley Burne-Jones 1st Baronet (age 50). "King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid". Model probably the artists wife Georgiana Macdonald Lady Burne-Jones (age 43). Inspired by Tennyson's (age 74) poem The Beggar Maid. The painting was purchased Edward Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie 1st Earl Wharncliffe (age 56).

Wordsworth Poems

The Monument Commonly Called Long Meg And Her Daughters, Near The River Eden

The Monument Commonly Called Long Meg and Her Daughters [Map], Near The River Eden

A weight of awe, not easy to be borne,

Fell suddenly upon my Spirit cast

From the dread bosom of the unknown past,

When first I saw that family forlorn.

Speak Thou, whose massy strength and stature scorn

The power of years pre-eminent, and placed

Apart, to overlook the circle vast

Speak, Giant-mother! tell it to the Morn

While she dispels the cumbrous shades of Night;

Let the Moon hear, emerging from a cloud;

At whose behest uprose on British ground

That Sisterhood, in hieroglyphic round

Forth-shadowing, some have deemed, the infinite

The inviolable God, that tames the proud!

XXXX Suggested by the Foregoing, Monument of Mrs Howard

Tranquility! the sovereign aim wert thou

In heathen schools of philosophic lore;

Heart-stricken by stern destiny of yore

The Tragic Muse thee served with thoughtful vow;

And what of hope Elysium could allow

Was fondly seized by Sculpture, to restore

Peace to the Mourner. But when He who wore

The crown of thorns around his bleeding brow

Warmed our sad being with celestial light,

'Then' Arts which still had drawn a softening grace

From shadowy fountains of the Infinite,

Communed with that Idea face to face:

And move around it now as planets run,

Each in its orbit round the central Sun.

John Keats Poems

Isabella and the Pot of Basil

In 1818 John Keats (age 22) adapted the story of Decameron Day Four Story Five to create the poem Isabella and the Pot of Basil. It was published in 1820.


Fair Isabel, poor simple Isabel!

Lorenzo, a young palmer in Love's eye!

They could not in the self-same mansion dwell

Without some stir of heart, some malady;

They could not sit at meals but feel how well

It soothed each to be the other by;

They could not, sure, beneath the same roof sleep

But to each other dream, and nightly weep.


With every morn their love grew tenderer,

With every eve deeper and tenderer still;

He might not in house, field, or garden stir,

But her full shape would all his seeing fill;

And his continual voice was pleasanter

To her, than noise of trees or hidden rill;

Her lute-string gave an echo of his name,

She spoilt her half-done broidery with the same.


He knew whose gentle hand was at the latch,

Before the door had given her to his eyes;

And from her chamber-window he would catch

Her beauty farther than the falcon spies;

And constant as her vespers would he watch,

Because her face was turn'd to the same skies;

And with sick longing all the night outwear,

To hear her morning-step upon the stair.


A whole long month of May in this sad plight

Made their cheeks paler by the break of June:

"To morrow will I bow to my delight,

"To-morrow will I ask my lady's boon."-

"O may I never see another night,

"Lorenzo, if thy lips breathe not love's tune."-

So spake they to their pillows; but, alas,

Honeyless days and days did he let pass;


Until sweet Isabella's untouch'd cheek

Fell sick within the rose's just domain,

Fell thin as a young mother's, who doth seek

By every lull to cool her infant's pain:

"How ill she is," said he, "I may not speak,

"And yet I will, and tell my love all plain:

"If looks speak love-laws, I will drink her tears,

"And at the least 'twill startle off her cares."


So said he one fair morning, and all day

His heart beat awfully against his side;

And to his heart he inwardly did pray

For power to speak; but still the ruddy tide

Stifled his voice, and puls'd resolve away-

Fever'd his high conceit of such a bride,

Yet brought him to the meekness of a child:

Alas! when passion is both meek and wild!


So once more he had wak'd and anguished

A dreary night of love and misery,

If Isabel's quick eye had not been wed

To every symbol on his forehead high;

She saw it waxing very pale and dead,

And straight all flush'd; so, lisped tenderly,

"Lorenzo!"-here she ceas'd her timid quest,

But in her tone and look he read the rest.


"O Isabella, I can half perceive

"That I may speak my grief into thine ear;

"If thou didst ever any thing believe,

"Believe how I love thee, believe how near

"My soul is to its doom: I would not grieve

"Thy hand by unwelcome pressing, would not fear

"Thine eyes by gazing; but I cannot live

"Another night, and not my passion shrive.


"Love! thou art leading me from wintry cold,

"Lady! thou leadest me to summer clime,

"And I must taste the blossoms that unfold

"In its ripe warmth this gracious morning time."

So said, his erewhile timid lips grew bold,

And poesied with hers in dewy rhyme:

Great bliss was with them, and great happiness

Grew, like a lusty flower in June's caress.


Parting they seem'd to tread upon the air,

Twin roses by the zephyr blown apart

Only to meet again more close, and share

The inward fragrance of each other's heart.

She, to her chamber gone, a ditty fair

Sang, of delicious love and honey'd dart;

He with light steps went up a western hill,

And bade the sun farewell, and joy'd his fill.


All close they met again, before the dusk

Had taken from the stars its pleasant veil,

All close they met, all eves, before the dusk

Had taken from the stars its pleasant veil,

Close in a bower of hyacinth and musk,

Unknown of any, free from whispering tale.

Ah! better had it been for ever so,

Than idle ears should pleasure in their woe.


Were they unhappy then?-It cannot be-

Too many tears for lovers have been shed,

Too many sighs give we to them in fee,

Too much of pity after they are dead,

Too many doleful stories do we see,

Whose matter in bright gold were best be read;

Except in such a page where Theseus' spouse

Over the pathless waves towards him bows.


But, for the general award of love,

The little sweet doth kill much bitterness;

Though Dido silent is in under-grove,

And Isabella's was a great distress,

Though young Lorenzo in warm Indian clove

Was not embalm'd, this truth is not the less-

Even bees, the little almsmen of spring-bowers,

Know there is richest juice in poison-flowers.


With her two brothers this fair lady dwelt,

Enriched from ancestral merchandize,

And for them many a weary hand did swelt

In torched mines and noisy factories,

And many once proud-quiver'd loins did melt

In blood from stinging whip;-with hollow eyes

Many all day in dazzling river stood,

To take the rich-ored driftings of the flood.


For them the Ceylon diver held his breath,

And went all naked to the hungry shark;

For them his ears gush'd blood; for them in death

The seal on the cold ice with piteous bark

Lay full of darts; for them alone did seethe

A thousand men in troubles wide and dark:

Half-ignorant, they turn'd an easy wheel,

That set sharp racks at work, to pinch and peel.


Why were they proud? Because their marble founts

Gush'd with more pride than do a wretch's tears?-

Why were they proud? Because fair orange-mounts

Were of more soft ascent than lazar stairs?-

Why were they proud? Because red-lin'd accounts

Were richer than the songs of Grecian years?-

Why were they proud? again we ask aloud,

Why in the name of Glory were they proud?


Yet were these Florentines as self-retired

In hungry pride and gainful cowardice,

As two close Hebrews in that land inspired,

Paled in and vineyarded from beggar-spies,

The hawks of ship-mast forests-the untired

And pannier'd mules for ducats and old lies-

Quick cat's-paws on the generous stray-away,-

Great wits in Spanish, Tuscan, and Malay.


How was it these same ledger-men could spy

Fair Isabella in her downy nest?

How could they find out in Lorenzo's eye

A straying from his toil? Hot Egypt's pest

Into their vision covetous and sly!

How could these money-bags see east and west?-

Yet so they did-and every dealer fair

Must see behind, as doth the hunted hare.


O eloquent and famed Boccaccio!

Of thee we now should ask forgiving boon,

And of thy spicy myrtles as they blow,

And of thy roses amorous of the moon,

And of thy lilies, that do paler grow

Now they can no more hear thy ghittern's tune,

For venturing syllables that ill beseem

The quiet glooms of such a piteous theme.


Grant thou a pardon here, and then the tale

Shall move on soberly, as it is meet;

There is no other crime, no mad assail

To make old prose in modern rhyme more sweet:

But it is done-succeed the verse or fail-

To honour thee, and thy gone spirit greet;

To stead thee as a verse in English tongue,

An echo of thee in the north-wind sung.


These brethren having found by many signs

What love Lorenzo for their sister had,

And how she lov'd him too, each unconfines

His bitter thoughts to other, well nigh mad

That he, the servant of their trade designs,

Should in their sister's love be blithe and glad,

When 'twas their plan to coax her by degrees

To some high noble and his olive-trees.


And many a jealous conference had they,

And many times they bit their lips alone,

Before they fix'd upon a surest way

To make the youngster for his crime atone;

And at the last, these men of cruel clay

Cut Mercy with a sharp knife to the bone;

For they resolved in some forest dim

To kill Lorenzo, and there bury him.


So on a pleasant morning, as he leant

Into the sun-rise, o'er the balustrade

Of the garden-terrace, towards him they bent

Their footing through the dews; and to him said,

"You seem there in the quiet of content,

"Lorenzo, and we are most loth to invade

"Calm speculation; but if you are wise,

"Bestride your steed while cold is in the skies.


"To-day we purpose, ay, this hour we mount

"To spur three leagues towards the Apennine;

"Come down, we pray thee, ere the hot sun count

"His dewy rosary on the eglantine."

Lorenzo, courteously as he was wont,

Bow'd a fair greeting to these serpents' whine;

And went in haste, to get in readiness,

With belt, and spur, and bracing huntsman's dress.


And as he to the court-yard pass'd along,

Each third step did he pause, and listen'd oft

If he could hear his lady's matin-song,

Or the light whisper of her footstep soft;

And as he thus over his passion hung,

He heard a laugh full musical aloft;

When, looking up, he saw her features bright

Smile through an in-door lattice, all delight.


"Love, Isabel!" said he, "I was in pain

"Lest I should miss to bid thee a good morrow:

"Ah! what if I should lose thee, when so fain

"I am to stifle all the heavy sorrow

"Of a poor three hours' absence? but we'll gain

"Out of the amorous dark what day doth borrow.

"Good bye! I'll soon be back."-"Good bye!" said she:-

And as he went she chanted merrily.


So the two brothers and their murder'd man

Rode past fair Florence, to where Arno's stream

Gurgles through straiten'd banks, and still doth fan

Itself with dancing bulrush, and the bream

Keeps head against the freshets. Sick and wan

The brothers' faces in the ford did seem,

Lorenzo's flush with love.-They pass'd the water

Into a forest quiet for the slaughter.


There was Lorenzo slain and buried in,

There in that forest did his great love cease;

Ah! when a soul doth thus its freedom win,

It aches in loneliness-is ill at peace

As the break-covert blood-hounds of such sin:

They dipp'd their swords in the water, and did tease

Their horses homeward, with convulsed spur,

Each richer by his being a murderer.


They told their sister how, with sudden speed,

Lorenzo had ta'en ship for foreign lands,

Because of some great urgency and need

In their affairs, requiring trusty hands.

Poor Girl! put on thy stifling widow's weed,

And 'scape at once from Hope's accursed bands;

To-day thou wilt not see him, nor to-morrow,

And the next day will be a day of sorrow.


She weeps alone for pleasures not to be;

Sorely she wept until the night came on,

And then, instead of love, O misery!

She brooded o'er the luxury alone:

His image in the dusk she seem'd to see,

And to the silence made a gentle moan,

Spreading her perfect arms upon the air,

And on her couch low murmuring, "Where? O where?"


But Selfishness, Love's cousin, held not long

Its fiery vigil in her single breast;

She fretted for the golden hour, and hung

Upon the time with feverish unrest-

Not long-for soon into her heart a throng

Of higher occupants, a richer zest,

Came tragic; passion not to be subdued,

And sorrow for her love in travels rude.


In the mid days of autumn, on their eves

The breath of Winter comes from far away,

And the sick west continually bereaves

Of some gold tinge, and plays a roundelay

Of death among the bushes and the leaves,

To make all bare before he dares to stray

From his north cavern. So sweet Isabel

By gradual decay from beauty fell,


Because Lorenzo came not. Oftentimes

She ask'd her brothers, with an eye all pale,

Striving to be itself, what dungeon climes

Could keep him off so long? They spake a tale

Time after time, to quiet her. Their crimes

Came on them, like a smoke from Hinnom's vale;

And every night in dreams they groan'd aloud,

To see their sister in her snowy shroud.


And she had died in drowsy ignorance,

But for a thing more deadly dark than all;

It came like a fierce potion, drunk by chance,

Which saves a sick man from the feather'd pall

For some few gasping moments; like a lance,

Waking an Indian from his cloudy hall

With cruel pierce, and bringing him again

Sense of the gnawing fire at heart and brain.


It was a vision.-In the drowsy gloom,

The dull of midnight, at her couch's foot

Lorenzo stood, and wept: the forest tomb

Had marr'd his glossy hair which once could shoot

Lustre into the sun, and put cold doom

Upon his lips, and taken the soft lute

From his lorn voice, and past his loamed ears

Had made a miry channel for his tears.


Strange sound it was, when the pale shadow spake;

For there was striving, in its piteous tongue,

To speak as when on earth it was awake,

And Isabella on its music hung:

Languor there was in it, and tremulous shake,

As in a palsied Druid's harp unstrung;

And through it moan'd a ghostly under-song,

Like hoarse night-gusts sepulchral briars among.


Its eyes, though wild, were still all dewy bright

With love, and kept all phantom fear aloof

From the poor girl by magic of their light,

The while it did unthread the horrid woof

Of the late darken'd time,-the murderous spite

Of pride and avarice,-the dark pine roof

In the forest,-and the sodden turfed dell,

Where, without any word, from stabs he fell.


Saying moreover, "Isabel, my sweet!

"Red whortle-berries droop above my head,

"And a large flint-stone weighs upon my feet;

"Around me beeches and high chestnuts shed

"Their leaves and prickly nuts; a sheep-fold bleat

"Comes from beyond the river to my bed:

"Go, shed one tear upon my heather-bloom,

"And it shall comfort me within the tomb.


"I am a shadow now, alas! alas!

"Upon the skirts of human-nature dwelling

"Alone: I chant alone the holy mass,

"While little sounds of life are round me knelling,

"And glossy bees at noon do fieldward pass,

"And many a chapel bell the hour is telling,

"Paining me through: those sounds grow strange to me,

"And thou art distant in Humanity.


"I know what was, I feel full well what is,

"And I should rage, if spirits could go mad;

"Though I forget the taste of earthly bliss,

"That paleness warms my grave, as though I had

"A Seraph chosen from the bright abyss

"To be my spouse: thy paleness makes me glad;

"Thy beauty grows upon me, and I feel

"A greater love through all my essence steal."


The Spirit mourn'd "Adieu!"-dissolv'd, and left

The atom darkness in a slow turmoil;

As when of healthful midnight sleep bereft,

Thinking on rugged hours and fruitless toil,

We put our eyes into a pillowy cleft,

And see the spangly gloom froth up and boil:

It made sad Isabella's eyelids ache,

And in the dawn she started up awake;


"Ha! ha!" said she, "I knew not this hard life,

"I thought the worst was simple misery;

"I thought some Fate with pleasure or with strife

"Portion'd us-happy days, or else to die;

"But there is crime-a brother's bloody knife!

"Sweet Spirit, thou hast school'd my infancy:

"I'll visit thee for this, and kiss thine eyes,

"And greet thee morn and even in the skies."


When the full morning came, she had devised

How she might secret to the forest hie;

How she might find the clay, so dearly prized,

And sing to it one latest lullaby;

How her short absence might be unsurmised,

While she the inmost of the dream would try.

Resolv'd, she took with her an aged nurse,

And went into that dismal forest-hearse.


See, as they creep along the river side,

How she doth whisper to that aged Dame,

And, after looking round the champaign wide,

Shows her a knife.-"What feverous hectic flame

"Burns in thee, child?-What good can thee betide,

"That thou should'st smile again?"-The evening came,

And they had found Lorenzo's earthy bed;

The flint was there, the berries at his head.


Who hath not loiter'd in a green church-yard,

And let his spirit, like a demon-mole,

Work through the clayey soil and gravel hard,

To see skull, coffin'd bones, and funeral stole;

Pitying each form that hungry Death hath marr'd,

And filling it once more with human soul?

Ah! this is holiday to what was felt

When Isabella by Lorenzo knelt.


She gaz'd into the fresh-thrown mould, as though

One glance did fully all its secrets tell;

Clearly she saw, as other eyes would know

Pale limbs at bottom of a crystal well;

Upon the murderous spot she seem'd to grow,

Like to a native lily of the dell:

Then with her knife, all sudden, she began

To dig more fervently than misers can.


Soon she turn'd up a soiled glove, whereon

Her silk had play'd in purple phantasies,

She kiss'd it with a lip more chill than stone,

And put it in her bosom, where it dries

And freezes utterly unto the bone

Those dainties made to still an infant's cries:

Then 'gan she work again; nor stay'd her care,

But to throw back at times her veiling hair.


That old nurse stood beside her wondering,

Until her heart felt pity to the core

At sight of such a dismal labouring,

And so she kneeled, with her locks all hoar,

And put her lean hands to the horrid thing:

Three hours they labour'd at this travail sore;

At last they felt the kernel of the grave,

And Isabella did not stamp and rave.


Ah! wherefore all this wormy circumstance?

Why linger at the yawning tomb so long?

O for the gentleness of old Romance,

The simple plaining of a minstrel's song!

Fair reader, at the old tale take a glance,

For here, in truth, it doth not well belong

To speak:-O turn thee to the very tale,

And taste the music of that vision pale.


With duller steel than the Persèan sword

They cut away no formless monster's head,

But one, whose gentleness did well accord

With death, as life. The ancient harps have said,

Love never dies, but lives, immortal Lord:

If Love impersonate was ever dead,

Pale Isabella kiss'd it, and low moan'd.

'Twas love; cold,-dead indeed, but not dethroned.


In anxious secrecy they took it home,

And then the prize was all for Isabel:

She calm'd its wild hair with a golden comb,

And all around each eye's sepulchral cell

Pointed each fringed lash; the smeared loam

With tears, as chilly as a dripping well,

She drench'd away:-and still she comb'd, and kept

Sighing all day-and still she kiss'd, and wept.


Then in a silken scarf,-sweet with the dews

Of precious flowers pluck'd in Araby,

And divine liquids come with odorous ooze

Through the cold serpent pipe refreshfully,-

She wrapp'd it up; and for its tomb did choose

A garden-pot, wherein she laid it by,

And cover'd it with mould, and o'er it set

Sweet Basil, which her tears kept ever wet.


And she forgot the stars, the moon, and sun,

And she forgot the blue above the trees,

And she forgot the dells where waters run,

And she forgot the chilly autumn breeze;

She had no knowledge when the day was done,

And the new morn she saw not: but in peace

Hung over her sweet Basil evermore,

And moisten'd it with tears unto the core.


And so she ever fed it with thin tears,

Whence thick, and green, and beautiful it grew,

So that it smelt more balmy than its peers

Of Basil-tufts in Florence; for it drew

Nurture besides, and life, from human fears,

From the fast mouldering head there shut from view:

So that the jewel, safely casketed,

Came forth, and in perfumed leafits spread.


O Melancholy, linger here awhile!

O Music, Music, breathe despondingly!

O Echo, Echo, from some sombre isle,

Unknown, Lethean, sigh to us-O sigh!

Spirits in grief, lift up your heads, and smile;

Lift up your heads, sweet Spirits, heavily,

And make a pale light in your cypress glooms,

Tinting with silver wan your marble tombs.


Moan hither, all ye syllables of woe,

From the deep throat of sad Melpomene!

Through bronzed lyre in tragic order go,

And touch the strings into a mystery;

Sound mournfully upon the winds and low;

For simple Isabel is soon to be

Among the dead: She withers, like a palm

Cut by an Indian for its juicy balm.


O leave the palm to wither by itself;

Let not quick Winter chill its dying hour!-

It may not be-those Baalites of pelf,

Her brethren, noted the continual shower

From her dead eyes; and many a curious elf,

Among her kindred, wonder'd that such dower

Of youth and beauty should be thrown aside

By one mark'd out to be a Noble's bride.


And, furthermore, her brethren wonder'd much

Why she sat drooping by the Basil green,

And why it flourish'd, as by magic touch;

Greatly they wonder'd what the thing might mean:

They could not surely give belief, that such

A very nothing would have power to wean

Her from her own fair youth, and pleasures gay,

And even remembrance of her love's delay.


Therefore they watch'd a time when they might sift

This hidden whim; and long they watch'd in vain;

For seldom did she go to chapel-shrift,

And seldom felt she any hunger-pain;

And when she left, she hurried back, as swift

As bird on wing to breast its eggs again;

And, patient as a hen-bird, sat her there

Beside her Basil, weeping through her hair.


Yet they contriv'd to steal the Basil-pot,

And to examine it in secret place:

The thing was vile with green and livid spot,

And yet they knew it was Lorenzo's face:

The guerdon of their murder they had got,

And so left Florence in a moment's space,

Never to turn again.-Away they went,

With blood upon their heads, to banishment.


O Melancholy, turn thine eyes away!

O Music, Music, breathe despondingly!

O Echo, Echo, on some other day,

From isles Lethean, sigh to us-O sigh!

Spirits of grief, sing not your "Well-a-way!"

For Isabel, sweet Isabel, will die;

Will die a death too lone and incomplete,

Now they have ta'en away her Basil sweet.


Piteous she look'd on dead and senseless things,

Asking for her lost Basil amorously:

And with melodious chuckle in the strings

Of her lorn voice, she oftentimes would cry

After the Pilgrim in his wanderings,

To ask him where her Basil was; and why

'Twas hid from her: "For cruel 'tis," said she,

"To steal my Basil-pot away from me."


And so she pined, and so she died forlorn,

Imploring for her Basil to the last.

No heart was there in Florence but did mourn

In pity of her love, so overcast.

And a sad ditty of this story born

From mouth to mouth through all the country pass'd:

Still is the burthen sung-"O cruelty,

"To steal my Basil-pot away from me!"

1868. William Holman Hunt (age 40). "Isabella, or the Pot of Basil" from the Keats Poem "Isabella and the Pot of Basil" from the Decameron Day Four Story Five. Model Annie Miller (age 33) and/or Fanny Waugh although she, Fanny, died in 1866.

Isabella: Decameron Day Four Story Five. Summary. Lisabetta's brothers murder her lover. He appears to her in a dream and shows her where he is buried. She secretly disinters the head and places it in a pot of basil, over which she weeps for a long time every day. In the end her brothers take it away from her, and shortly thereafter she dies of grief.

1849. John Everett Millais 1st Baronet (age 19). "Isabella". From the poem Isabella and the Pot of Basil and the book Decameron Day Four Story Five. Note the initials PRB on the bottom of the table leg. The painting is on display at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.

The models are believed to be:

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (age 20): Far right drinking from glass.

William Michael Rossetti (age 19): Lorenzo, offering an orange to Isabella.

1907. John William Waterhouse (age 57). "Isabella and the Pot of Basil" from the Keats Poem from the Decameron Day Four Story Five.

La Belle Dame Sans Merci by John Keats

In 1819 John Keats (age 23) wrote La Belle Dame Sans Merci. The poem is simple in structure with twelve stanzas of four lines each in an ABCB rhyme scheme. The original 1819 version ...

O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,

Alone and palely loitering?.

The sedge has withered from the lake,

And no birds sing!

O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,

So haggard and so woe-begone?.

The squirrel's granary is full,

And the harvest's done.

I see a lily on thy brow,

With anguish moist and fever-dew,

And on thy cheeks a fading rose

Fast withereth too.

I met a lady in the meads,

Full beautiful, a faery's child;

Her hair was long, her foot was light,

And her eyes were wild.

I made a garland for her head,

And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;

She looked at me as she did love,

And made sweet moan.

I sat her on my pacing steed,

And nothing else saw all day long,

For sidelong would she bend, and sing

A faery's song.

She found me roots of relish sweet,

And honey wild, and manna-dew,

And sure in language strange she said

'I love thee true'.

She took me to her Elfin grot.

And there she wept and sighed full sore,

And there I shut her wild, wild eyes

With kisses four.

And there she lullèd me asleep,

And there I dreamed-Ah! woe betide!

The latest dream I ever dreamt

On the cold hill side.

I saw pale kings and princes too,

Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;

They cried-'La Belle Dame sans Merci

Hath thee in thrall!'.

I saw their starved lips in the gloam,

With horrid warning gapèd wide,

And I awoke and found me here,

On the cold hill's side.

And this is why I sojourn here,

Alone and palely loitering,

Though the sedge is withered from the lake,

And no birds sing.

Around 1901. Frank Bernard Dicksee (age 47). "La Belle Dame Sans Merci by John Keats".

1893. John William Waterhouse (age 43). "La Belle Dame Sans Merci by John Keats".

1865. Walter Crane (age 19). "La Belle Dame Sans Merci by John Keats".

1897. Arthur Hughes (age 64). "La Belle Dame Sans Merci".

Shelley Poems

Adonais by Percy Bysshe Shelley

In Apr 1821 Percy Bysshe Shelley composed his elegy to John Keats. The poem is a 495 line pastoral elegy in 55 Spenserian stanzas.


I weep for Adonais-he is dead!

Oh, weep for Adonais! though our tears

Thaw not the frost which binds so dear a head!

And thou, sad Hour, selected from all years

To mourn our loss, rouse thy obscure compeers,

And teach them thine own sorrow, say: "With me

Died Adonais; till the Future dares

Forget the Past, his fate and fame shall be

An echo and a light unto eternity!"


Where wert thou, mighty Mother, when he lay,

When thy Son lay, pierc'd by the shaft which flies

In darkness? where was lorn Urania

When Adonais died? With veiled eyes,

'Mid listening Echoes, in her Paradise

She sate, while one, with soft enamour'd breath,

Rekindled all the fading melodies,

With which, like flowers that mock the corse beneath,

He had adorn'd and hid the coming bulk of Death.


Oh, weep for Adonais-he is dead!

Wake, melancholy Mother, wake and weep!

Yet wherefore? Quench within their burning bed

Thy fiery tears, and let thy loud heart keep

Like his, a mute and uncomplaining sleep;

For he is gone, where all things wise and fair

Descend-oh, dream not that the amorous Deep

Will yet restore him to the vital air;

Death feeds on his mute voice, and laughs at our despair.


Most musical of mourners, weep again!

Lament anew, Urania! He died,

Who was the Sire of an immortal strain,

Blind, old and lonely, when his country's pride,

The priest, the slave and the liberticide,

Trampled and mock'd with many a loathed rite

Of lust and blood; he went, unterrified,

Into the gulf of death; but his clear Sprite

Yet reigns o'er earth; the third among the sons of light.


Most musical of mourners, weep anew!

Not all to that bright station dar'd to climb;

And happier they their happiness who knew,

Whose tapers yet burn through that night of time

In which suns perish'd; others more sublime,

Struck by the envious wrath of man or god,

Have sunk, extinct in their refulgent prime;

And some yet live, treading the thorny road,

Which leads, through toil and hate, to Fame's serene abode.


But now, thy youngest, dearest one, has perish'd,

The nursling of thy widowhood, who grew,

Like a pale flower by some sad maiden cherish'd,

And fed with true-love tears, instead of dew;

Most musical of mourners, weep anew!

Thy extreme hope, the loveliest and the last,

The bloom, whose petals nipp'd before they blew

Died on the promise of the fruit, is waste;

The broken lily lies-the storm is overpast.


To that high Capital, where kingly Death

Keeps his pale court in beauty and decay,

He came; and bought, with price of purest breath,

A grave among the eternal.-Come away!

Haste, while the vault of blue Italian day

Is yet his fitting charnel-roof! while still

He lies, as if in dewy sleep he lay;

Awake him not! surely he takes his fill

Of deep and liquid rest, forgetful of all ill.


He will awake no more, oh, never more!

Within the twilight chamber spreads apace

The shadow of white Death, and at the door

Invisible Corruption waits to trace

His extreme way to her dim dwelling-place;

The eternal Hunger sits, but pity and awe

Soothe her pale rage, nor dares she to deface

So fair a prey, till darkness and the law

Of change shall o'er his sleep the mortal curtain draw.


Oh, weep for Adonais! The quick Dreams,

The passion-winged Ministers of thought,

Who were his flocks, whom near the living streams

Of his young spirit he fed, and whom he taught

The love which was its music, wander not-

Wander no more, from kindling brain to brain,

But droop there, whence they sprung; and mourn their lot

Round the cold heart, where, after their sweet pain,

They ne'er will gather strength, or find a home again.


And one with trembling hands clasps his cold head,

And fans him with her moonlight wings, and cries,

"Our love, our hope, our sorrow, is not dead;

See, on the silken fringe of his faint eyes,

Like dew upon a sleeping flower, there lies

A tear some Dream has loosen'd from his brain."

Lost Angel of a ruin'd Paradise!

She knew not 'twas her own; as with no stain

She faded, like a cloud which had outwept its rain.


One from a lucid urn of starry dew

Wash'd his light limbs as if embalming them;

Another clipp'd her profuse locks, and threw

The wreath upon him, like an anadem,

Which frozen tears instead of pearls begem;

Another in her wilful grief would break

Her bow and winged reeds, as if to stem

A greater loss with one which was more weak;

And dull the barbed fire against his frozen cheek.


Another Splendour on his mouth alit,

That mouth, whence it was wont to draw the breath

Which gave it strength to pierce the guarded wit,

And pass into the panting heart beneath

With lightning and with music: the damp death

Quench'd its caress upon his icy lips;

And, as a dying meteor stains a wreath

Of moonlight vapour, which the cold night clips,

It flush'd through his pale limbs, and pass'd to its eclipse.


And others came . . Desires and Adorations,

Winged Persuasions and veil'd Destinies,

Splendours, and Glooms, and glimmering Incarnations

Of hopes and fears, and twilight Phantasies;

And Sorrow, with her family of Sighs,

And Pleasure, blind with tears, led by the gleam

Of her own dying smile instead of eyes,

Came in slow pomp; the moving pomp might seem

Like pageantry of mist on an autumnal stream.


All he had lov'd, and moulded into thought,

From shape, and hue, and odour, and sweet sound,

Lamented Adonais. Morning sought

Her eastern watch-tower, and her hair unbound,

Wet with the tears which should adorn the ground,

Dimm'd the aëreal eyes that kindle day;

Afar the melancholy thunder moan'd,

Pale Ocean in unquiet slumber lay,

And the wild Winds flew round, sobbing in their dismay.


Lost Echo sits amid the voiceless mountains,

And feeds her grief with his remember'd lay,

And will no more reply to winds or fountains,

Or amorous birds perch'd on the young green spray,

Or herdsman's horn, or bell at closing day;

Since she can mimic not his lips, more dear

Than those for whose disdain she pin'd away

Into a shadow of all sounds: a drear

Murmur, between their songs, is all the woodmen hear.


Grief made the young Spring wild, and she threw down

Her kindling buds, as if she Autumn were,

Or they dead leaves; since her delight is flown,

For whom should she have wak'd the sullen year?

To Phoebus was not Hyacinth so dear

Nor to himself Narcissus, as to both

Thou, Adonais: wan they stand and sere

Amid the faint companions of their youth,

With dew all turn'd to tears; odour, to sighing ruth.


Thy spirit's sister, the lorn nightingale

Mourns not her mate with such melodious pain;

Not so the eagle, who like thee could scale

Heaven, and could nourish in the sun's domain

Her mighty youth with morning, doth complain,

Soaring and screaming round her empty nest,

As Albion wails for thee: the curse of Cain

Light on his head who pierc'd thy innocent breast,

And scar'd the angel soul that was its earthly guest!


Ah, woe is me! Winter is come and gone,

But grief returns with the revolving year;

The airs and streams renew their joyous tone;

The ants, the bees, the swallows reappear;

Fresh leaves and flowers deck the dead Seasons' bier;

The amorous birds now pair in every brake,

And build their mossy homes in field and brere;

And the green lizard, and the golden snake,

Like unimprison'd flames, out of their trance awake.


Through wood and stream and field and hill and Ocean

A quickening life from the Earth's heart has burst

As it has ever done, with change and motion,

From the great morning of the world when first

God dawn'd on Chaos; in its stream immers'd,

The lamps of Heaven flash with a softer light;

All baser things pant with life's sacred thirst;

Diffuse themselves; and spend in love's delight,

The beauty and the joy of their renewed might.


The leprous corpse, touch'd by this spirit tender,

Exhales itself in flowers of gentle breath;

Like incarnations of the stars, when splendour

Is chang'd to fragrance, they illumine death

And mock the merry worm that wakes beneath;

Nought we know, dies. Shall that alone which knows

Be as a sword consum'd before the sheath

By sightless lightning?-the intense atom glows

A moment, then is quench'd in a most cold repose.


Alas! that all we lov'd of him should be,

But for our grief, as if it had not been,

And grief itself be mortal! Woe is me!

Whence are we, and why are we? of what scene

The actors or spectators? Great and mean

Meet mass'd in death, who lends what life must borrow.

As long as skies are blue, and fields are green,

Evening must usher night, night urge the morrow,

Month follow month with woe, and year wake year to sorrow.


He will awake no more, oh, never more!

"Wake thou," cried Misery, "childless Mother, rise

Out of thy sleep, and slake, in thy heart's core,

A wound more fierce than his, with tears and sighs."

And all the Dreams that watch'd Urania's eyes,

And all the Echoes whom their sister's song

Had held in holy silence, cried: "Arise!"

Swift as a Thought by the snake Memory stung,

From her ambrosial rest the fading Splendour sprung.


She rose like an autumnal Night, that springs

Out of the East, and follows wild and drear

The golden Day, which, on eternal wings,

Even as a ghost abandoning a bier,

Had left the Earth a corpse. Sorrow and fear

So struck, so rous'd, so rapt Urania;

So sadden'd round her like an atmosphere

Of stormy mist; so swept her on her way

Even to the mournful place where Adonais lay.


Out of her secret Paradise she sped,

Through camps and cities rough with stone, and steel,

And human hearts, which to her aery tread

Yielding not, wounded the invisible

Palms of her tender feet where'er they fell:

And barbed tongues, and thoughts more sharp than they,

Rent the soft Form they never could repel,

Whose sacred blood, like the young tears of May,

Pav'd with eternal flowers that undeserving way.


In the death-chamber for a moment Death,

Sham'd by the presence of that living Might,

Blush'd to annihilation, and the breath

Revisited those lips, and Life's pale light

Flash'd through those limbs, so late her dear delight.

"Leave me not wild and drear and comfortless,

As silent lightning leaves the starless night!

Leave me not!" cried Urania: her distress

Rous'd Death: Death rose and smil'd, and met her vain caress.


"Stay yet awhile! speak to me once again;

Kiss me, so long but as a kiss may live;

And in my heartless breast and burning brain

That word, that kiss, shall all thoughts else survive,

With food of saddest memory kept alive,

Now thou art dead, as if it were a part

Of thee, my Adonais! I would give

All that I am to be as thou now art!

But I am chain'd to Time, and cannot thence depart!


"O gentle child, beautiful as thou wert,

Why didst thou leave the trodden paths of men

Too soon, and with weak hands though mighty heart

Dare the unpastur'd dragon in his den?

Defenceless as thou wert, oh, where was then

Wisdom the mirror'd shield, or scorn the spear?

Or hadst thou waited the full cycle, when

Thy spirit should have fill'd its crescent sphere,

The monsters of life's waste had fled from thee like deer.


"The herded wolves, bold only to pursue;

The obscene ravens, clamorous o'er the dead;

The vultures to the conqueror's banner true

Who feed where Desolation first has fed,

And whose wings rain contagion; how they fled,

When, like Apollo, from his golden bow

The Pythian of the age one arrow sped

And smil'd! The spoilers tempt no second blow,

They fawn on the proud feet that spurn them lying low.


"The sun comes forth, and many reptiles spawn;

He sets, and each ephemeral insect then

Is gather'd into death without a dawn,

And the immortal stars awake again;

So is it in the world of living men:

A godlike mind soars forth, in its delight

Making earth bare and veiling heaven, and when

It sinks, the swarms that dimm'd or shar'd its light

Leave to its kindred lamps the spirit's awful night."


Thus ceas'd she: and the mountain shepherds came,

Their garlands sere, their magic mantles rent;

The Pilgrim of Eternity (age 33), whose fame

Over his living head like Heaven is bent,

An early but enduring monument,

Came, veiling all the lightnings of his song

In sorrow; from her wilds Ierne sent

The sweetest lyrist of her saddest wrong,

And Love taught Grief to fall like music from his tongue.


Midst others of less note, came one frail Form,

A phantom among men; companionless

As the last cloud of an expiring storm

Whose thunder is its knell; he, as I guess,

Had gaz'd on Nature's naked loveliness,

Actaeon-like, and now he fled astray

With feeble steps o'er the world's wilderness,

And his own thoughts, along that rugged way,

Pursu'd, like raging hounds, their father and their prey.


A pardlike Spirit beautiful and swift-

A Love in desolation mask'd-a Power

Girt round with weakness-it can scarce uplift

The weight of the superincumbent hour;

It is a dying lamp, a falling shower,

A breaking billow; even whilst we speak

Is it not broken? On the withering flower

The killing sun smiles brightly: on a cheek

The life can burn in blood, even while the heart may break.


His head was bound with pansies overblown,

And faded violets, white, and pied, and blue;

And a light spear topp'd with a cypress cone,

Round whose rude shaft dark ivy-tresses grew

Yet dripping with the forest's noonday dew,

Vibrated, as the ever-beating heart

Shook the weak hand that grasp'd it; of that crew

He came the last, neglected and apart;

A herd-abandon'd deer struck by the hunter's dart.


All stood aloof, and at his partial moan

Smil'd through their tears; well knew that gentle band

Who in another's fate now wept his own,

As in the accents of an unknown land

He sung new sorrow; sad Urania scann'd

The Stranger's mien, and murmur'd: "Who art thou?"

He answer'd not, but with a sudden hand

Made bare his branded and ensanguin'd brow,

Which was like Cain's or Christ's-oh! that it should be so!


What softer voice is hush'd over the dead?

Athwart what brow is that dark mantle thrown?

What form leans sadly o'er the white death-bed,

In mockery of monumental stone,

The heavy heart heaving without a moan?

If it be He, who, gentlest of the wise,

Taught, sooth'd, lov'd, honour'd the departed one,

Let me not vex, with inharmonious sighs,

The silence of that heart's accepted sacrifice.


Our Adonais has drunk poison-oh!

What deaf and viperous murderer could crown

Life's early cup with such a draught of woe?

The nameless worm would now itself disown:

It felt, yet could escape, the magic tone

Whose prelude held all envy, hate and wrong,

But what was howling in one breast alone,

Silent with expectation of the song,

Whose master's hand is cold, whose silver lyre unstrung.


Live thou, whose infamy is not thy fame!

Live! fear no heavier chastisement from me,

Thou noteless blot on a remember'd name!

But be thyself, and know thyself to be!

And ever at thy season be thou free

To spill the venom when thy fangs o'erflow;

Remorse and Self-contempt shall cling to thee;

Hot Shame shall burn upon thy secret brow,

And like a beaten hound tremble thou shalt-as now.


Nor let us weep that our delight is fled

Far from these carrion kites that scream below;

He wakes or sleeps with the enduring dead;

Thou canst not soar where he is sitting now.

Dust to the dust! but the pure spirit shall flow

Back to the burning fountain whence it came,

A portion of the Eternal, which must glow

Through time and change, unquenchably the same,

Whilst thy cold embers choke the sordid hearth of shame.


Peace, peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep,

He hath awaken'd from the dream of life;

'Tis we, who lost in stormy visions, keep

With phantoms an unprofitable strife,

And in mad trance, strike with our spirit's knife

Invulnerable nothings. We decay

Like corpses in a charnel; fear and grief

Convulse us and consume us day by day,

And cold hopes swarm like worms within our living clay.


He has outsoar'd the shadow of our night;

Envy and calumny and hate and pain,

And that unrest which men miscall delight,

Can touch him not and torture not again;

From the contagion of the world's slow stain

He is secure, and now can never mourn

A heart grown cold, a head grown gray in vain;

Nor, when the spirit's self has ceas'd to burn,

With sparkless ashes load an unlamented urn.


He lives, he wakes-'tis Death is dead, not he;

Mourn not for Adonais. Thou young Dawn,

Turn all thy dew to splendour, for from thee

The spirit thou lamentest is not gone;

Ye caverns and ye forests, cease to moan!

Cease, ye faint flowers and fountains, and thou Air,

Which like a mourning veil thy scarf hadst thrown

O'er the abandon'd Earth, now leave it bare

Even to the joyous stars which smile on its despair!


He is made one with Nature: there is heard

His voice in all her music, from the moan

Of thunder, to the song of night's sweet bird;

He is a presence to be felt and known

In darkness and in light, from herb and stone,

Spreading itself where'er that Power may move

Which has withdrawn his being to its own;

Which wields the world with never-wearied love,

Sustains it from beneath, and kindles it above.


He is a portion of the loveliness

Which once he made more lovely: he doth bear

His part, while the one Spirit's plastic stress

Sweeps through the dull dense world, compelling there

All new successions to the forms they wear;

Torturing th' unwilling dross that checks its flight

To its own likeness, as each mass may bear;

And bursting in its beauty and its might

From trees and beasts and men into the Heaven's light.


The splendours of the firmament of time

May be eclips'd, but are extinguish'd not;

Like stars to their appointed height they climb,

And death is a low mist which cannot blot

The brightness it may veil. When lofty thought

Lifts a young heart above its mortal lair,

And love and life contend in it for what

Shall be its earthly doom, the dead live there

And move like winds of light on dark and stormy air.


The inheritors of unfulfill'd renown

Rose from their thrones, built beyond mortal thought,

Far in the Unapparent. Chatterton

Rose pale, his solemn agony had not

Yet faded from him; Sidney, as he fought

And as he fell and as he liv'd and lov'd

Sublimely mild, a Spirit without spot,

Arose; and Lucan, by his death approv'd:

Oblivion as they rose shrank like a thing reprov'd.


And many more, whose names on Earth are dark,

But whose transmitted effluence cannot die

So long as fire outlives the parent spark,

Rose, rob'd in dazzling immortality.

"Thou art become as one of us," they cry,

"It was for thee yon kingless sphere has long

Swung blind in unascended majesty,

Silent alone amid a Heaven of Song.

Assume thy winged throne, thou Vesper of our throng!"


Who mourns for Adonais? Oh, come forth,

Fond wretch! and know thyself and him aright.

Clasp with thy panting soul the pendulous Earth;

As from a centre, dart thy spirit's light

Beyond all worlds, until its spacious might

Satiate the void circumference: then shrink

Even to a point within our day and night;

And keep thy heart light lest it make thee sink

When hope has kindled hope, and lur'd thee to the brink.


Or go to Rome, which is the sepulchre,

Oh, not of him, but of our joy: 'tis nought

That ages, empires and religions there

Lie buried in the ravage they have wrought;

For such as he can lend-they borrow not

Glory from those who made the world their prey;

And he is gather'd to the kings of thought

Who wag'd contention with their time's decay,

And of the past are all that cannot pass away.


Go thou to Rome-at once the Paradise,

The grave, the city, and the wilderness;

And where its wrecks like shatter'd mountains rise,

And flowering weeds, and fragrant copses dress

The bones of Desolation's nakedness

Pass, till the spirit of the spot shall lead

Thy footsteps to a slope of green access

Where, like an infant's smile, over the dead

A light of laughing flowers along the grass is spread;


And gray walls moulder round, on which dull Time

Feeds, like slow fire upon a hoary brand;

And one keen pyramid with wedge sublime,

Pavilioning the dust of him who plann'd

This refuge for his memory, doth stand

Like flame transform'd to marble; and beneath,

A field is spread, on which a newer band

Have pitch'd in Heaven's smile their camp of death,

Welcoming him we lose with scarce extinguish'd breath.


Here pause: these graves are all too young as yet

To have outgrown the sorrow which consign'd

Its charge to each; and if the seal is set,

Here, on one fountain of a mourning mind,

Break it not thou! too surely shalt thou find

Thine own well full, if thou returnest home,

Of tears and gall. From the world's bitter wind

Seek shelter in the shadow of the tomb.

What Adonais is, why fear we to become?


The One remains, the many change and pass;

Heaven's light forever shines, Earth's shadows fly;

Life, like a dome of many-colour'd glass,

Stains the white radiance of Eternity,

Until Death tramples it to fragments.-Die,

If thou wouldst be with that which thou dost seek!

Follow where all is fled!-Rome's azure sky,

Flowers, ruins, statues, music, words, are weak

The glory they transfuse with fitting truth to speak.


Why linger, why turn back, why shrink, my Heart?

Thy hopes are gone before: from all things here

They have departed; thou shouldst now depart!

A light is pass'd from the revolving year,

And man, and woman; and what still is dear

Attracts to crush, repels to make thee wither.

The soft sky smiles, the low wind whispers near:

'Tis Adonais calls! oh, hasten thither,

No more let Life divide what Death can join together.


That Light whose smile kindles the Universe,

That Beauty in which all things work and move,

That Benediction which the eclipsing Curse

Of birth can quench not, that sustaining Love

Which through the web of being blindly wove

By man and beast and earth and air and sea,

Burns bright or dim, as each are mirrors of

The fire for which all thirst; now beams on me,

Consuming the last clouds of cold mortality.


The breath whose might I have invok'd in song

Descends on me; my spirit's bark is driven,

Far from the shore, far from the trembling throng

Whose sails were never to the tempest given;

The massy earth and sphered skies are riven!

I am borne darkly, fearfully, afar;

Whilst, burning through the inmost veil of Heaven,

The soul of Adonais, like a star,

Beacons from the abode where the Eternal are.

Poems by Lady Manners

Catherine Rebecca Gray Lady Manners. Second edition. London: John Bell, 1793. 126p.

In 1793 Catherine Rebecca Gray Lady Manners (age 27) published Poems by Lady Manners.

Poems by Lady Manners: Albert and Cecilia

1 A fairer form than fiction ever feign'd;

2 A bloom surpassing far the opening rose;

3 Eyes where with softness animation reign'd;

4 A heart that sympathiz'd in others' woes:

5 Such was Cecilia - ere a father's pride

6 Clouded the noon-tide of a morn so bright;

7 Condemn'd each feeling nature sanctified,

8 And clos'd each beauty in eternal night.

9 The haughty Anselm, of his riches vain -

10 Vain of his ancestry and high estate -

11 View'd unassuming merit with disdain,

12 Or thought it only centred in the Great,

13 Each day, to win the young Cecilia's smiles,

14 The neighb'ring barons to his castle throng,

15 And boast their ancient sires, whose warlike toils

16 Still crown the historian's page, and poet's song.

17 But vain the boast of each contending peer -

18 Vainly to win Cecilia's smiles they try;

19 No voice but Albert's gains her pensive ear -

20 No form but Albert's charms her down-cast eye.

21 Oft she forsakes her father's splendid halls,

22 And hastes impatient to the waving shade;

23 Where Albert, while the tear of pity falls,

24 Unfolds his hopeless passion to the maid.

25 No sounding title favour'd Albert's claim;

26 Fortune to him her gifts did ne'er impart:

27 But kinder Nature gave the loveliest frame,

28 And gave (much more) the most unblemish'd heart.

29 What hours of happiness the lovers prov'd

30 While in soft converse pass'd the livelong day;

31 While each confess'd how ardently they lov'd,

32 And vow'd no time their passion should allay!

33 O Sensibility! how truly blest

34 Is the fond mind in thy sensations lost!

35 More dear the pang that rends the feeling breast,

36 Than all that calm, dull apathy can boast.

37 Long did Cecilia nurse the rising flame,

38 And Albert's tender vows in secret hear;

39 Nor yet had envy, or censorious fame,

40 Divulg'd the tale to Anselm's watchful ear.

41 When, as mild Evening o'er the varying sky

42 Dispers'd rich clouds of gold and purple hue;

43 And panting flocks along the meadows lie,

44 Cool'd by the freshness of the falling dew -

45 With cautious steps Cecilia sought the bower,

46 Whose shade encircled all her soul held dear;

47 While anxious Albert counts the tedious hour,

48 Now cheer'd by hope, and now deprest by fear:

49 But, when he saw his lov'd Cecilia nigh,

50 Each gloomy care forsook his boding breast;

51 And gay delight beam'd sparkling from his eye,

52 Blest in her presence, in her kindness blest.

53 The heart's emotions in each face appear;

54 The glow of transport brightens on each cheek -

55 The glance of joy, the sympathetic tear,

56 More than a thousand words, their passion speak.

57 The youth enraptur'd kneeling thank'd the maid;

58 Then both renew'd their vows of endless love:

59 Unhappy pair! your passion is betray'd -

60 Fatal to both those vows must shortly prove:

61 For, as it chanc'd, in that ill-fated hour

62 Near the green arbour Anselm musing pass'd;

63 Heard their discourse, and, entering in the bower,

64 The trembling lovers sunk confus'd, aghast!

65 "Degenerate girl!" the angry father cried,

66 "Who thus canst stoop to this ignoble choice;

67 "And dare to wound a Norman baron's pride,

68 "Unmov'd by Duty's ties, or Honour's voice!

69 "No more I own thee as my fortune's heir;

70 "Thy boasted charms to me no joys impart:

71 "For, shock'd by thy ingratitude, I tear

72 "Parental fondness from this injur'd heart.

73 "And thou, presuming youth! who durst aspire

74 "Proudly to join thy humble name with mine,

75 "Take the detested object you desire - -

76 "Thy lov'd Cecilia shall be ever thine,

77 "If to the summit of yon verdant hill,

78 "Whose lofty brow o'erlooks this ample plain,

79 "You bear the maid; nor rest a moment, till

80 "Ev'n to the top thy venturous steps attain. "

81 What mighty task will daring love refuse,

82 The object of its fond pursuits to gain?

83 Who in delusion's flattering mirror views

84 And grasps at shadows it can ne'er obtain.

85 The youth undaunted clasps the trembling fair,

86 Nor thinks the dangerous trial to decline:

87 "This happy hour," he cries, "ends all my care,

88 "And makes thee, dear Cecilia! ever mine. "

89 With eager haste he pass'd the level green,

90 And rapidly he climbs the steep ascent;

91 While numerous vassals throng'd to view the scene,

92 And prayers to Heaven for their deliverance sent.

93 Sadly prophetic of impending woe,

94 Cecilia's bosom heav'd with many a sigh;

95 And, while the tears of bitter anguish flow,

96 She fix'd on Albert an attentive eye.

97 "Alas!" she cried, and half suppress'd a tear,

98 "Yon fatal summit distant still I view."

99 "Chase, my Cecilia!" he replied, "each fear;

100 "Love shall his votary with new strength endue. "

101 But Albert now no longer can conceal

102 His vigour lost: he climbs the hill with pain;

103 His fainting limbs a death-like languor feel,

104 And scarce his arms their lovely load sustain.

105 "Speak, my Cecilia! tell me that you love;

106 "Your voice can energetic force impart:

107 "Smile, and your lover shall triumphant prove."

108 She forc'd a smile, and press'd him to her heart.

109 Mute the spectators stand with anxious fear:

110 When Albert falters every cheek turns pale;

111 And smiles of gladness on each face appear

112 When love still strives where human efforts fail.

113 At length their hearts with generous transports thrill,

114 Shouts of applause from every side arise:

115 Albert has gain'd the summit of the hill,

116 And breathless falls beneath his lovely prize.

117 Cecilia's circling arms around him thrown,

118 Her eyes behold him with exulting pride:

119 She cries, "My Albert, I am thine alone;

120 "No human force can now our fates divide. "

121 His clay-cold hand with fervency she press'd,

122 She gaz'd enamour'd on his faded cheek;

123 "Say, dost thou love like me, like me art blest?

124 "Confirm my happiness - O Albert, speak! "

125 At length, essay'd in vain each tender care

126 Her lover's slumbering senses to restore,

127 By disappointment pierc'd and chill despair,

128 She sunk, and cried - "My Albert is no more!"

129 The fatal accents reach'd the listening crowd,

130 Sorrowing the mournful tidings they relate;

131 "Albert is dead!" they weeping cry aloud -

132 "Albert, whose worth deserv'd a better fate.

133 "May curses light on that unfeeling heart

134 "Which could the blossom of thy youth destroy!

135 "No comfort may his boasted wealth impart,

136 "But keen repentance blast each rising joy! "

137 Such were the words that with discordant sound

138 Whisper'd remorse to Anselm's wounded ear:

139 He felt their force; he heav'd a sigh profound,

140 And pitying dropp'd too late a fruitless tear.

141 With hasty steps he seeks the fatal height,

142 Anxious his yet-lov'd daughter's life to save;

143 That injur'd daughter, once his sole delight,

144 Now by himself devoted to the grave.

145 Mean time, awaken'd by Cecilia's tears,

146 And the sad accent of her piercing cries,

147 His languid head the fainting Albert rears,

148 While Death's dim shadows darken o'er his eyes.

149 "'Tis past, Cecilia! soon approaching Death

150 "Shall steal thy form for ever from my view:

151 "Soon, soon shall I resign this mortal breath,

152 "And, dearer far than life, bid thee adieu.

153 "O grant thy dying Albert's last request:

154 "Be our sad fate engrav'd upon my stone;

155 "That, when the grave at length shall yield me rest,

156 "Our love may be to future ages known!

157 "And thou, dear source of all my grief and joy!

158 "Ne'er let my image from thy thought depart:

159 "When mouldering time shall this weak frame destroy,

160 "Still let me live in my Cecilia's heart! "

161 Faint the last accents falter'd on his tongue;

162 Heavy and dim his closing eyeballs roll;

163 Angels of death around his spirit hung,

164 And opening heaven receiv'd his parting soul.

165 Anselm just then, with pausing steps and slow,

166 Had climb'd the hill, and reach'd its airy brow;

167 Cold round his breast the rustling breezes blow,

168 While birds of night sing plaintive from each bough.

169 Imprest with secret horror, low he bends

170 O'er the sad spot where poor Cecilia lay;

171 Around her form his trembling arms extends,

172 With unknown pity fill'd and deep dismay.

173 He feels her hand has lost its vital heat;

174 He sees her balmy lips no more are red;

175 He finds her icy breast no longer beat;

176 His only child, his dear Cecilia's dead.

177 The wretched father rais'd his eyes to Heaven,

178 In which alone repenting sin can trust;

179 Bewail'd his error, pray'd to be forgiven,

180 And own'd in all his ways the Almighty just.

181 Like lilies cropt by an untimely storm,

182 Fair even in death the hapless lovers lay;

183 Love still appear'd to animate each form,

184 And o'er each visage shed a brightening ray.

185 To both one common tomb the father gave;

186 And, to preserve them in immortal fame,

187 He rais'd a chapel o'er the sacred grave,

188 Which still of the Two Lovers bears the name.

Poems by Lady Manners: The Child Of Sorrow

1 As 'mid romantic Vecta's paths I stray'd,

2 Where clear Medina rolls its silver wave,

3 Beneath a solitary willow's shade,

4 Whose pendent boughs the lucid waters lave,

5 A Child of Sorrow caught my wandering eye;

6 Loose her attire, dishevell'd was her hair,

7 Pallid her cheek, and oft a bursting sigh

8 Proclaim'd her breast the dwelling of Despair.

9 Yet peerless beauty with unconquer'd sway

10 Resistless shone in her neglected form,

11 As the effulgence of the god of day

12 Gleams through the darkness of the wintry storm.

13 Oft o'er the waves she cast a wistful view,

14 As oft the torrent of her tears did flow;

15 Then to the shore her streaming eyes withdrew,

16 And in disorder'd words thus spoke her woe:

17 "Dash, dash, ye waves, against the sounding shore,

18 "Your rage no longer can my bosom move;

19 "Louder, ye winds, and yet still louder roar,

20 "You can no more destroy my only love.

21 "Victim of sorrow from the dawn of life,

22 "I can no more admit new joy or grief;

23 "Perfidious Fortune, freed from all thy strife,

24 "Even in despair my soul shall find relief. "

25 Touch'd with compassion at these plaintive sounds,

26 Slow I approach'd, and to the Stranger said:

27 "What deep afflictions cause such heart-felt wounds?

28 "What storms of Fortune bow thy youthful head?

29 "Could I alleviate?" - "Never," she replied,

30 "Can human power my mind from anguish save:

31 "Never, oh! never can my woes subside,

32 "But 'mid the shadows of the darksome grave.

33 "Yet since soft Pity seems to touch thy heart,

34 "And the big tear stands trembling in thine eye,

35 "The story of my grief I will impart,

36 "Then leave me to my hapless destiny.

37 "Where proud Augusta rears her lofty head,

38 "My childhood pass'd in affluence and ease:

39 "Far from my paths the train of Sorrow fled,

40 "While gay I bask'd in Fortune's brightest blaze.

41 "But short those joys; for scarce had fifteen years

42 "Taught me my happiness to know and prize,

43 "When swift the splendid vision disappears,

44 "And pale Adversity's dun clouds arise.

45 "Misfortunes unforeseen depriv'd my sire

46 "In little time of his abounding wealth:

47 "To highest views accustom'd to aspire,

48 "He lost his wonted cheerfulness and health.

49 "I saw Despair o'ercast his manly brow,

50 "While silent Grief sat rankling at his breast;

51 "I saw his head with Disappointment bow,

52 "Till an untimely death restor'd his rest.

53 "Long time I mourn'd - nor did I mourn alone -

54 "A virtuous mother shar'd in all my woe;

55 "A husband and a father we bemoan,

56 "And for his loss our tears alternate flow.

57 "But Time, whose lenient hand can oft assuage

58 "The sharpest wounds of unrelenting Fate,

59 "Had soften'd by degrees Affliction's rage

60 "To fond Remembrance and Concern sedate.

61 "Together we forsook the venal crowd,

62 "And in this island found a still retreat,

63 "Far from the gay, the thoughtless, and the proud,

64 "For Poverty and Resignation meet.

65 "Contented here we liv'd, nor e'er repin'd

66 "At memory of what we once possess'd;

67 "But grateful own'd, that the unsullied mind

68 "In its own conscious rectitude is blest.

69 "Hard by our cottage, on a rising ground,

70 "In simple state Ardelio's mansion stood -

71 "Ardelio lov'd by all the country round,

72 "Friend to the poor, the artless, and the good.

73 "Large was his fortune, liberal his heart,

74 "Faultless his manners, undefil'd his mind:

75 "Free from ambition, avarice, or art,

76 "His only study was to serve mankind.

77 "By chance conducted to our lone abode,

78 "He found me friendless, pitied me, and lov'd:

79 "His bounteous hand a quick relief bestow'd,

80 "And soon each trace of indigence remov'd.

81 "The day was fix'd, when at the sacred shrine

82 "Attested Heaven should hear our mutual vows;

83 "And sprightly Pleasure seem'd once more to twine

84 "Her freshest roses for my favour'd brows.

85 "But, ah! those roses bloom'd but to decay;

86 "For, like the bud before the eastern wind,

87 "Their beauties faded immature away,

88 "But fading left a lasting thorn behind.

89 "Oblig'd to leave me for a little space,

90 Presaging tears his fatal absence mourn;

91 "But the kind youth, my rising grief to chase,

92 "At parting promis'd he would soon return.

93 "Mean time a fever's unremitting rage

94 "Invaded all my parent's trembling frame;

95 "No remedy its fury can assuage,

96 "Her frantic cries in vain my succour claim.

97 "A thousand times I kiss'd her pallid cheek,

98 "And with my tears bedew'd her burning hand,

99 "While with officious care I vainly seek

100 "Those cures which unavailing Science plann'd.

101 "Clasp'd in these arms she died: no friend was near,

102 "In whom this sad, this breaking heart could trust,

103 "When I beheld her on the sable bier,

104 "And heard the solemn sentence, Dust to dust!

105 "Frantic with sorrow, to the rocky shore

106 "With an uncertain course my steps I bend:

107 "Unheeded round me the deep thunders roar,

108 "And the blue lightning's lurid flames descend.

109 "Yet one dread object my attention drew:

110 "Near the rude cliffs a vessel I espied,

111 "And heard the clamours of its frighted crew,

112 "Who vainly tried to stem the billowy tide.

113 "For, by the fury of the tempest tost,

114 "Against the rocks its severing planks rebound;

115 "The floating wreck is driven towards the coast,

116 "With seamen's lifeless bodies scatter'd round.

117 "New anguish seiz'd my grief-devoted mind:

118 "While I survey'd the horrors of the storm,

119 "I thought, perhaps ev'n now, to death consign'd,

120 "Floats 'mid those waves my lov'd Ardelio's form.

121 "Pierc'd with the thought, adown the craggy steep

122 "I hasten to explore the fatal strand:

123 "Just then, emerging from the raging deep,

124 "A breathless corse is thrown upon the sand.

125 "Shuddering I look with half-averted eye -

126 "Ah me, my dread forebodings were too true! "

127 She paus'd - then utter'd, with a bursting sigh,

128 "Ardelio's torn for ever from my view! "

Poems by Lady Manners: Eugenio and Eliza

1 THE rising Sun had ting'd the east with gold,

2 And scarce a cloud obscur'd his azure reign -

3 (That Sun, whose fatal beams did first unfold

4 The dreadful scene of Naseby's sanguine plain;

5 Where Charles, misguided monarch, wise too late,

6 Saw the last efforts of his party fail;

7 Saw Rupert's luckless triumph urge his fate,

8 And Cromwell's rising destiny prevail) -

9 When young Eliza left her lonely shed,

10 And wander'd pensive amid heaps of slain,

11 Not by a base desire of plunder led,

12 But hope to sooth some dying Warrior's pain.

13 Though mean her parents, and obscure her lot,

14 Each nobler feeling to her heart was known;

15 And, though the humble inmate of a cot,

16 Her form and mind had grac'd the proudest throne.

17 But hopeless passion o'er each opening grace

18 Had cast a tender, melancholy air;

19 Eliza lov'd a youth of noble race,

20 And from the first she languish'd in despair.

21 Twelve months had pass'd since o'er Eugenio's form

22 With fond surprise her wondering eyes had stray'd;

23 But, while his charms her artless bosom warm,

24 By him unnoted pass'd the blooming maid.

25 From that sad hour a stranger to repose,

26 She shunn'd the wake, she shunn'd the festive green;

27 And still where'er Affliction calls she goes,

28 A pale attendant at each mournful scene.

29 At every step with horror she recoil'd,

30 While her moist eyes the dreadful carnage view'd

31 Of hostile kindred upon kindred pil'd,

32 And British fields with British blood imbu'd.

33 But as, advancing o'er the dismal field,

34 Where devastation sadden'd all around,

35 She view'd those lids in endless darkness seal'd,

36 And heard of dying groans the plaintive sound -

37 A form of grace superior drew her eyes,

38 Bending to view the Warrior's face she stood;

39 O fatal sight! her lov'd Eugenio lies

40 On earth extended, and deform'd with blood.

41 Struck at the view, awhile in silent grief

42 She stood, nor yet a sigh confess'd her pain;

43 Nor yet her bursting tears could bring relief,

44 While her chill blood ran cold through ev'ry vein.

45 At length, adown her cheek and snowy breast

46 The pearly tears in quick succession ran;

47 And with a voice by sorrow half suppress'd,

48 In broken accents, thus the fair began:

49 "O thou, whom lovely and belov'd in vain,

50 "Unpitying Fate has snatch'd in early bloom,

51 "Is this the meed thy patriot virtues gain?

52 "Dearer than life, is this thy hapless doom?

53 "When last I saw thee, o'er thy manly cheek

54 "Health's orient glow a mantling lustre cast;

55 "Enamour'd Glory seem'd thy paths to seek,

56 "Fortune in thee her favourite child embrac'd.

57 "Now cold on earth thou liest - no weeping friend

58 "With pious tears receiv'd thy parting breath;

59 "No kindred round thy bleeding corse attend,

60 "With grief like mine to mourn thy early death.

61 "Ah! what avail'd the virtues of thy youth,

62 "The mind that dar'd Rebellion's fury brave,

63 "Thy constant loyalty, thy matchless truth?

64 "Those very virtues sunk thee to the grave. "

65 Kneeling as thus she spoke, his hand she press'd,

66 And view'd his form with ev'ry charm replete;

67 But what emotions fill'd her raptur'd breast

68 When still she found his languid pulses beat!

69 Some neighbouring peasants led by chance that way,

70 Touch'd by the sorrows of the weeping fair,

71 With pitying eyes the fainting youth survey,

72 And to Eliza's well-known cottage bear.

73 There, with a Leech's care, her hands applied

74 Some lenient herbs to every rankling wound;

75 Herbs, by the test of long experience tried,

76 Of sovereign virtue in each trial found.

77 While anxious Love its lavish care supplies,

78 Eugenio's face resumes a fresher hue;

79 And on the maid he fix'd his opening eyes,

80 While tears of joy her polish'd cheeks bedew.

81 The dawn of gratitude, and wonder join'd,

82 With varying thoughts distract his labouring breast;

83 And, anxious to relieve his dubious mind,

84 In faltering words he thus the fair address'd:

85 "O say, what friend, solicitous to save,

86 "Procur'd for me your hospitable care?

87 "For, when at Naseby the last sigh I gave,

88 "Nor Friendship nor Humanity was there. "

89 Blushing, the maid with down-cast looks replied,

90 "To Heaven alone thy gratitude is due:

91 "That God, whose angels round the good preside,

92 "To thy relief my feeble succour drew.

93 "I found thee senseless 'mid a heap of slain;

94 "I bore thee here, and Heaven thy life has spar'd:

95 "That life restor'd, I ask nor thanks nor gain;

96 "A virtuous action is its own reward. "

97 With mute surprise th' attentive youth admir'd,

98 'Mid scenes so rude, a form so passing fair;

99 But more he wonder'd, when, by Heaven inspir'd,

100 Her words bespoke a guardian angel's care,

101 And every day new beauties caught his view,

102 And every hour new virtues charm'd his mind,

103 Till admiration into passion grew,

104 By pure esteem and gratitude refin'd.

105 In vain, to change the purpose of his heart,

106 Ambition frown'd contemptuous on the maid;

107 Pride urg'd him from her humble cot to part,

108 And martial ardour call'd him from the shade.

109 He saw his country, in subjection led,

110 Pay servile homage to a zealot's nod,

111 Who sternly claim'd his captive Sovereign's head,

112 And thought by anarchy to serve his God.

113 He knew his single efforts would be vain,

114 His Prince from factious thousands to support,

115 And scorn'd to mingle with the abject train

116 Who, led by interest, swell'd a guilty Court.

117 Since Virtue's cause no more his arms could claim,

118 And hope of conquest could no longer move,

119 Fix'd, he resolves to wed the beauteous dame,

120 And consecrate his future life to love.

121 Fast by the cot a spreading linden grew,

122 Whose boughs o'ershadow'd a fantastic seat,

123 Where the pale primrose and the violet blue

124 Breath'd from the verdant turf a mingled sweet.

125 There, with Eliza often by his side,

126 Eugenio shunn'd the scorching heats of noon;

127 Amid night's stillness there he often hied,

128 And solitary watch'd the silver moon.

129 Perusing there the philosophic page,

130 Untir'd the livelong day he would remain,

131 Or for the Poet quit the graver Sage,

132 And raptur'd glance through Fancy's airy reign.

133 Beneath the branches of this silent shade,

134 By hours of past tranquillity endear'd,

135 He vow'd his passion to the blushing maid,

136 Whose timid love his loss each moment fear'd.

137 Untaught in the pernicious schools of Art,

138 Which curb the genuine feelings as they rise,

139 She own'd the sentiments that fill'd a heart

140 Whose conscious purity contemn'd disguise.

141 The sacred rites perform'd, with festive state

142 To his high dome Eugenio led the fair:

143 'Mid lofty woods, arose the ancient seat,

144 Whose solid, grandeur time could not impair.

145 There unperceiv'd life's current flow'd away,

146 Nor could old age their constant love destroy;

147 And often they deplor'd, yet bless'd that day,

148 To others source of grief, to them of joy.

149 They liv'd to see the artful Cromwell die,

150 And from their transient power his offspring driven,

151 And then beheld th' imperial dignity

152 Once more to the inglorious Stuarts given.

153 Charles they survey'd, in luxury, and ease,

154 And sensual pleasures, pass life's ill-spent day;

155 And bigot James an injur'd nation raise,

156 Then coward shun the battle's dread array.

157 Next Nassau, crown'd by policy and arms,

158 In early youth for matchless prudence known,

159 Unmov'd in dangers, fearless in alarms,

160 With royal Mary shar'd the British throne.

161 Last Anna's prosperous reign in age they view'd,

162 And Marlborough glorious from Germania's war -

163 Marlborough, for councils as for fight endued,

164 Who with his own spread England's fame afar:

165 Then, pleas'd their country's triumphs to behold,

166 In youthful verdure while her laurels bloom,

167 Their aged lids in Death's soft sleep they fold,

168 And not unwilling sink into the tomb.

Poems by Lady Manners: Gertrude

1 ARISE, kind Sun! with brighter rays

2 "Illumine all the grove;

3 "Tune every voice to grateful praise,

4 "To harmony and love.

5 "Give to the pink a fresher die,

6 "New sweetness to the rose;

7 "Let jessamine with lilies vie,

8 "And rival charms oppose.

9 "The gaudy pink shall lose its pride,

10 "Compar'd to Henry's cheek;

11 "The lily its dull whiteness hide,

12 "A browner hue to take.

13 "But not the charms of shape or face

14 "Have caus'd a transient love:

15 "Such passions with each youthful grace

16 "Shall suddenly remove.

17 "'Tis honour binds my lasting chain,

18 "'Tis goodness wins my heart;

19 "'Tis pity that feels mental pain

20 "From every sufferer's smart.

21 "'Tis Virtue's self, to gain the mind,

22 "My Henry's form assumes:

23 "Virtue, with beauty there combin'd,

24 "In bright perfection blooms.

25 "To-day the indissoluble knot

26 "Shall be by Hymen tied,

27 "When happy Gertrude's envied lot

28 "Shall make her Henry's bride. "

29 The gentle Gertrude quick arose,

30 Her busy maids attend:

31 The richest robes with care they chose,

32 The richest gems commend.

33 But Gertrude, scorning foreign aid,

34 Is clad in simple white;

35 She shuns the pomp and vain parade

36 Which vulgar eyes delight.

37 Her auburn hair falls unconfin'd

38 But by a myrtle crown;

39 Her veil flows loosely in the wind,

40 And low her robe hangs down.

41 She now ascends a lofty tower,

42 To see if Henry's near:

43 Far as the eye extends its power,

44 She seeks for Henry there.

45 No Henry glads her longing eye,

46 No festive throng advance;

47 No maidens flowerets strew hard by,

48 Or lead the lively dance.

49 The glowing crimson leaves her cheek,

50 A deadly pale succeeds:

51 Her Henry still resolv'd to seek,

52 She wanders o'er the meads.

53 She sought him through the cypress grove,

54 She sought him o'er the plain;

55 Sad by the crystal stream did rove,

56 The woodland search'd in vain,

57 Whilst anxious thus she view'd around

58 To find her promis'd lord,

59 She sees him breathless on the ground,

60 Pierc'd by his rival's sword.

61 Around his neck she throws her arms,

62 Her lips to his are join'd;

63 Sure Gertrude's lips have potent charms

64 To animate the mind!

65 But Henry's frozen heart no more

66 Can transport feel or pain:

67 The voice that gave delight before,

68 Now calls the youth in vain.

69 Clos'd are those eyes that beam'd so bright,

70 His rosy bloom is fled;

71 In happier climes, in purer light,

72 He joins the tranquil dead.

73 Distraction seiz'd the wretched maid:

74 With agony opprest,

75 Frantic she grasp'd the sanguine blade

76 That gor'd her Henry's breast.

77 The fatal sword perform'd too well,

78 It pierc'd her tender side;

79 Without a sigh fair Gertrude fell,

80 And by her Henry died.

Poems by Lady Manners: Lines Addressed to a Mother in Ireland

1 WILL she, whose kind maternal care

2 Enlighten'd my untutor'd mind,

3 Who all her joys with me did share,

4 But to her breast each grief confin'd,

5 Accept these tears that freely flow -

6 Accept this tributary lay?

7 'Tis all that friendship can bestow,

8 Or weeping gratitude repay.

9 Whether constraint my footsteps lead

10 Amid a hated world, or free

11 I wander o'er the russet mead,

12 My constant thoughts are fix'd on thee.

13 On Lehena's enchanting scene,

14 I muse, where we delighted stray'd;

15 The sloping hill, the valley green,

16 The lawn in brightest flowers array'd.

17 Say, dost thou in those meadows rove,

18 Where Taste with Nature is combin'd?

19 Or dost thou haunt that silent grove,

20 That charm'd so oft my pensive mind?

21 O may those scenes a bliss bestow

22 Which rural life alone can boast;

23 And thou, dear friend, each comfort know,

24 Which by thine absence I have lost.

25 May sprightly Health, with rosy lip

26 Breathe rich vermilion o'er thy cheek!

27 Light round thy paths may Pleasure trip,

28 And young Content with aspect meek!

29 May Science gild each tedious hour,

30 And spread her stores before thine eye:

31 And Friendship with resistless power,

32 Repress each sad intruding sigh!

33 May Peace around thine honour'd head

34 Her fairest olive wreath entwine;

35 Soft Slumbers guard thy downy bed,

36 And Hope, fond charmer, still be thine!

37 May Truth and Innocence descend,

38 Their purer blessings to impart;

39 Blessings that on thyself depend,

40 Unknown but to the virtuous heart!

41 Yet, when thy circling friends appear,

42 And greet thee on Ierne's shore,

43 Devote one sympathetic tear

44 To her who sees thee now no more!