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Full text of "The princess. With illustr. from drawings by D. Maclise"

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Flowers of all heaTens, and lovelier than their nameB, 
Grew side by side ; and on the pavement lay 
Carved stonea of the Abbey-rain in the park. 
Huge AmmoniteB, and the first hones of Time ; 
And on the tables every clime and age 
Jnmhled together ; celts and calumets. 
Claymore and snowshoe, toys in lava, fans 
Of sandal, amber, ancient rosaries, 
Laborions orient ivory sphere in sphere, 
The cnrsed Malayan crease, and battle-clubs 
From the isles of palm : and higher on the walls. 
Betwixt the monstrous horns of elk and deer, 
Kis own forejathers' arms and armour hung. 

And ' this ' he said ' was Hugh's at Agincoart ; 
And Lhat was old Sir Ralph's at Ascalon : 
A good knight he ! we keep a chronicle 
With all about him ' — which he brought, and I 
Dived in a hoard of tales that dealt with knights 
Half-legend, half-historic, counts and kings 


Her own fair head, and sallying thro' the gate, 
Had beat her foes with slaughter from her walls. 

' miracle of women,' said the book, 
' noble heart who, being strait-besieged 
By this wild king to force her to his wish, 
Nor bent, nor broke, nor shunn'd a soldier's death. 
But now when all was lost or seem'd as lost — 
Her stature more than mortal in the burst 
Of sunrise, her arm lifted, eyes on fire — 
Brake with a blast of trumpets from the gate. 
And, falling on them like a thunderbolt, 


She trampled some beneath her horses' heels. 
And some were whelm'd with missiles of the wall. 
And some were push'd with lances from the rock. 
And part were drown'd within the whirling brook : 
miracle of noble womanhood ! ' 

So sang the gallant glorious chronicle ; 
And, I all wrapt in this, * Come out,' he said, 
' To the Abbey : there is Aunt Elizabeth 
And sister Lilia with the rest.' We went 

B 2 


(I kept the book and had my finger in it) 

Down thro* the park : strange was the sight to me ; 

For all the sloping pasture murmured, sown 

With happy faces and with holiday. 

There moved the mnltitude, a thousand heads : 

The patient leaders of their Institute 

Taught them with facts. One reared a font of stone 

And drew, from butts of water on the slope, 

The fountain of the moment, playing now 

A twisted snake, and now a rain of pearls, 

Or steep-up spout whereon the gilded ball 

Danced like a wisp : and somewhat lower down 

A man with knobs and wires and vials fired 

A cannon : Echo answer'd in her sleep 

From hollow fields : and here were telescopes 

For azure views ; and there a group of girls 

In circle waited, whom the electric shock 

Dislink*d with shrieks and laughter : round the lake 

A little clock-work steamer paddling plied 

And shook the lilies : perch'd about the knolls 

A dozen angry models jetted steam : 

A petty railway ran : a fire-balloon 


Rose gem-like up before the dusky groves 
And dropt a fairy parachute and past : 
And there thro' twenty posts of telegraph 
They flashed a saucy message to and fro 
Between the mimic stations ; so that sport 
Went hand in hand with Science ; otherwhere 
Pure sport : a herd of boys with clamour bowl'd 
And stump'd the wicket ; babies rolled about 
Like tumbled fruit in grass ; and men and maids 
Arranged a country dance, and flew thro' light 
And shadow, while the twangling violin 
Struck up with Soldier-laddie, and overhead 
The broad ambrosial aisles of lofty lime 
Made noise with bees and breeze from end to end. 

Strange was the sight and smacking of the time ; 
And long we gazed, but satiated at length 
Came to the ruins. High-arch'd and ivy-claspt. 
Of finest Gothic lighter than a fire, 
Thro' one wide chasm of time and frost they gave 
The park, the crowd, the house ; but all within 
The sward was trim as any garden lawn : 


And here we lit on Aunt Elizabeth, 

And Lilia with the rest, and lady friends 

From neighbour seats : and there was Balph himself, 

A broken statue propt against the wall, 

As gay as any. Lilia, wild with sport, 

Half child half woman as she was, had wound 

A scarf of orange round the stony helm. 

And robed the shoulders in a rosy silk. 

That made the old warrior from his ivied nook 

Glow like a sunbeam : near his tomb a feast 

Shone, silver-set ; about it lay the guests. 

And there we join*d them : then the maiden Aunt 

Took this fair day for text, and from it preach*d 

An universal culture for the crowd. 

And all things great ; but we, unworthier, told 

Of college : he had climb'd across the spikes. 

And he had squeezed himself betwixt the bars, 

And he had breathed the Proctor's dogs ; and one 

Discussed his tutor, rough to conmion men. 

But honeying at the whisper of a lord ; 

And one the Master, as a rogue in grain 

Veneered with sanctimonious theory. 

But while they tallc'd, above their heads I saw 
The feudal warrior lady-clad ; which brought 
My book to mind : and opening this I read 

Of old Sir Ralph a page or two that rang 
With tilt and tourney ; then the tale of her 
That drove her foes with slaughter from her walla, 
And much I praised her Doblenese, and ' Where,' 
Aak'd Walter, patting Lilia'a head (she lay 
Beside him) ' lives there such a woman now ? ' 

Quick answer'd Lilia ' There are thousands now 
Such women, bdt convention beats them down : 
It is but bringing up ; do more than that : 
You men have done it : how I hate you all ! 
Ah, were I something great ! I wish I were 
Some mighty poetess, I would shame you then, 
That love to keep ue children ! I wish 
That I were some great Princess, I would build 
Far off from men a college like a man's. 
And I would teach them all that men are taught ; 
We are tvrice as quick I ' And here she shook aside 
The hand that play'd the patron with her curls. 



With prudes for proctors, dowagers for deans, 
And sweet girl-graduates in their golden hair. 
I think they should not wear our rusty gowns, 
But move as rich as Emperor-moths, or Balph 
Who shines so in the comer ; yet I fear, 
If there were many Lilias in the brood, 
However deep you might embower the nest, 
Some boy would spy it/ 

At this upon the sward 
She tapt her tiny silken-sandal'd foot : 
' That's your light way ; but I would make it death 
For any male thing but to peep at us.' 

Petulant she spoke, and at herself she laugh'd ; 
A rosebud set with little wilful thorns, 
And sweet as English air could make her, she : 
But Walter hail'd a score of names upon her, 
And * petty Ogress,' and ' ungrateful Puss,' 
And swore he long'd at college, only long'd. 
All else was well, for she-society. 
They boated and they cricketed ; they talk'd 
At wine, in clubs, of art, of politics ; 



They lost their weeks ; they vext the souls of deans ; 
They rode ; they hetted ; made a hundred friends, 
And caught the hlossom of the flying terms, 
But miss'd the mignonette of Vivian-place, 
The little hearth-flower Lilia. Thus he spoke. 
Part banter, part a£fection. 

* True,' she said, 
' We doubt not that. O yes, you miss'd us much. 


I'll stake my ruby ring upon it you did.' 

She held it out ; and as a parrot turns 
Up thro' gilt wires a crafty loving eye. 
And takes a lady's finger with all care, 
And bites it for true heart and not for harm, 
So he with Lilia's. Daintily she shriek'd 
And wTung it. ' Doubt my word again ! ' he said. 
* Come, listen ! here is proof that you were miss'd : 
We seven stay'd at Christmas up to read ; 
And there we took one tutor as to read : 
The hard-grain'd Muses of the cube and square 
Were out of season : never man, I think, 
So moulder'd in a sinecure as he : 


For while our cloisters echo*d frosty feet, 

And onr long walks were stript as bare as brooms, 

We did but talk you over, pledge you all 

In wassail ; often, like as many girls — 

Sick for the hollies and the yews of home — 

As many little trifling Lilias — ^play'd 

Charades and riddles as at Christmas here. 

And what's my thought and when and where and fiow, 

And often told a tale from mouth to mouth 

As here at Christmas.' 

She remembered that : 
A pleasant game, she thought : she liked it more 
Than magic music, forfeits, all the rest. 
But these — ^what kind of tales did men tell men. 
She wonder'd, by themselves ? 

A half-disdain 
Perch'd on the pouted blossom of her lips : 
And Walter nodded at me ; ' He began, 
The rest would follow, each in turn ; and so 
We forged a sevenfold story. Kind? what kind? 
Chimeras, crotchets, Christmas solecisms. 
Seven-headed monsters only made to lull 


Time by the fire in winter. 

' Kill him now, 
The tyrant ! kill him in the summer too/ 
Said Lilia ; ' Why not now/ the maiden Aunt. 

* Why not a summer's as a winter's tale ? 
A tale for summer as befits the time, 

And something it should be to suit the place, 
Heroic, for a hero lies beneath, 
Grave, solemn ! ' 

Walter warp'd his mouth at this 
To something so mock-solemn, that I laugh'd 
And Lilia woke with sudden-shrilling mirth 
An echo like a ghostly woodpecker, 
Hid in the ruins ; till the maiden Aunt 
(A little sense of wrong had touch'd her face 
With colour) tum'd to me with * As you will ; 
Heroic if you will, or what you will, 
Or be yourself your hero if you will.' 

* Take Lilia, then, for heroine ' clamour'd he, 

* And make her some great Princess, six feet high, 
Grand, epic, homicidal ; and be you 


The Prince to win her! ' 

* Then follow me, the Prince,' 
I answered, ' each be hero in his turn ! 
Seven and yet one, like shadows in a dream. — 
Heroic seems our Princess as required. — 
But something made to suit with Time and place, 
A Gothic ruin and a Grecian house, 
A talk of college and of ladies' rights, 
A feudal knight in silken masquerade, 
And, yonder, shrieks and strange experiments 
For which the good Sir Balph had burnt them all — 
This were a medley ! we should have him back 
Who told the ' Winter's tale ' to do it for us. 
No matter : we will say whatever comes. 
And let the ladies sing us, if they will. 
From time to time, some ballad or a song 
To give us breathing-space.' 

So I began. 
And the rest follow'd : and the women sang 
Between the rougher voices of the men, 

Jiike linnets in the pauses of the wind : 
And here I give the story and the songs. 



A Prince I was, blue-eyed, and fair in face, 
Of temper amorous, as the first of May, 
With lengths of yellow ringlet, like a girl, 
For on my cradle shone the Northern star. 

There lived an ancient legend in our house. 
Some sorcerer, whom a far-off grandsire burnt 
Because he cast no shadow, had foretold. 
Dying, that none of all our blood should know 
The shadow from the substance, and that one 
Should come to fight with shadows and to fall. 
For so, my mother said, the story ran. 
And, truly, waking dreams were, more or less, 
An old and strange affection of the house. 
Myself too had weird seizures, Heaven knows what: 
On a sudden in the midst of men and day, 


And while I walk'd and talk'd as heretofore, 
I seem'd to move among a world of ghosts, 
And feel myself the shadow of a dream. 
Our great court-Galen poised his gilt-head cane, 
And paw'd his heard, and mutter'd ' catalepsy.' 
My mother pitying made a thousand prayers ; 
My mother was as mild as any saint^ 
Half-canonized hy all that look'd on her. 
So gracious was her tact and tenderness : 
But my good father thought a king a king ; 
He cared not for the a£fection of the house ; 
He held his sceptre like a pedant's wand 
To lash offence, and with long arms and hands 
Beach'd out, and pick'd offenders from the mass 
For judgment. 

Now it chanced that I had been. 
While life was yet in bud and blade, betroth'd 
To one, a neighbouring Princess : she to me 
Was proxy- wedded with a bootless calf 
At eight years old ; and still from time to time 
Came murmurs of her beauty from the South, 
And of her brethren, youths of puissance ; 



And still I wore her picture by my heart, 

And one dark tress ; and all around them both 

Sweet thoughts would swarm as bees about their queen. 

But when the days drew nigh that I should wed, 
My father sent ambassadors with furs 
And jewels, gifts, to fetch her : these brought back 
A present, a great labour of the loom ; 
And therewithal an answer vague as wind : 
Besides, they saw the king ; he took the gifts ; 
He said there was a compact; that was true : 
But then she had a will ; was he to blame ? 
And maiden fancies ; loved to live alone 
Among her women ; certain, would not wed. 

That morning in the presence room I stood 
With Cyril and with Florian, my two friends : 
The first, a gentleman of broken means 
(His father's fault) but given to starts and bursts 
Of revel ; and the last, my other heart, 
And almost my half-self, for still we moved 
Together, twinn'd as horse's ear and eye. 

Now, while they spake, I saw my father's face 
Grow long and troubled like a rising moon, 
Inflamed with wrath : he started on his feet, 


Tore the king's letter, snow'd it down, and rent 
The wonder of the loom thro' warp and woof 
From skirt to skirt ; and at the last he swaro 
That he would «end a hundred thousand men, 
And bring her in a whirlwind : then he chew'd 
The thrice-tum'd cud of wTath, and cook'd his spleen, 
Communing with his captains of the war. 

At last I spoke. * My father, let me go. 
It cannot be but some gross error lies 
In this report, this answer of a king. 
Whom all men rate as kind and hospitable : 
Or, maybe, I myself, my bride once seen, 
Whatever my grief to find her less than fame, 
May rue the bargain made.' And Florian said: 
' I have a sister at the foreign court. 
Who moves about the Princess ; she, you know, 
Who wedded with a nobleman from thence : 
He, dying lately, left her, as I hear, 
The lady of three castles in that land : 
Thro' her this matter might be sifted clean.' 
And Cyril whisper'd : * Take me with you too,' 


Then laughing * what, if these weird seizures come 
Upon you in those lands, and no one near 
To point you out the shadow from the truth ! 
Take me : I'll serve you better in a strait ; 
I grate on rusty hinges here : ' but * No ! ' 
Boar'd the rough king, ' you shall not ; we ourself 
Will crush her pretty maiden fancies dead 
In iron gauntlets : break the council up/ 

But when the council broke, I rose and past 
Thro' the wild woods that hung about the town ; 
Found a still place, and plucked her likeness out ; 
Laid it on flowers, and watch'd it lying bathed 
In the green gleam of dewy-tassell'd trees : 
What were those fancies ? wherefore break her troth ? 
Proud looked the lips : but while I meditated 
A wind arose and rush*d upon the South, 
And shook the songs, the whispers, and the shrieks 
Of the wild woods together ; and a Voice 
Went with it * Follow, follow, thou shalt win/ 

Then, ere the silver sickle of that month 

Became her golden shield, I stole from court 
With Cyril and with Florian, uui»erceivfd, 
Cat'footed thro' the town and half in dread 


To hear my father's clamour at our backs 
With Ho ! from some bay-window shake the night ; 
But all was quiet : from the bastion*d walls 
Like threaded spiders, one by one, we dropt, 
And flying reached the frontier : then we crost 
To a livelier land ; and so by tilth and grange, 
And Tines, and blowing bosks of wilderness, 
We gain'd the mother-city thick with towers. 
And in the imperial palace found the king. 

His name was Oama ; crack'd and small his voice. 
But bland the smile that like a wrinkling wind 
On glassy water drove his cheek in lines ; 
A little dry old man, without a star. 
Not like a king : three days he feasted us. 
And on the fourth I spake of why we came, 
And my betroth'd. * You do us. Prince,' he said, 
Airing a snowy hand and signet gem, 
* All honour. We remember love ourselves 
In our sweet youth : there did a compact pass 
Long summers back, a kind of ceremony — 
I think the year in which our olives fail'd. 


I would yoa Iiad her. Prince, with all mv Iteart, 
With my full heart : but there were widows here, 

Two widows, Lady Psyche, Lady Blanche ; 
They fed her theories, in and out of place 


Maintaining that with equal husbandry 

The woman were an equal to the man. 

They harp'd on this ; with this our banquets rang ; 

Our dances broke and buzz'd in knots of talk ; 

Nothing but this ; my very ears were hot 

To hear them : knowledge, so my daughter held, 

Was all in all ; they had but been, she thought. 

As children ; they must lose the child, assume 

The woman : then. Sir, awful odes she wrote, 

Too awful, sure, for what they treated of. 

But all she is and does is awful ; odes 

About this losing of the child ; and rhymes 

And dismal lyrics, prophesying change 

Beyond all reason : these the women sang ; 

And they that know such things — I sought but peace ; 

No critic I — would call them masterpieces : 

They mastered me. At last she begg*d a boon 

A certain summer-palace which I have 

Hard by your father's frontier : I said no, 

Yet being an easy man, gave it ; and there, 

All wild to found an University 

For maidens, on the spur she fled ; and more 


We know not, — only this : they see no men, 
Not ey*n her brother Arac, nor the twins 
Her brethren, tho' they love her, look upon her 
As on a kind of paragon ; and I 
(Pardon me saying it) were much loth to breed 
Dispute betwixt mySelf and mine : but since 
(And I confess with right) you think me bound 
In some sort, I can give you letters to her ; 
And yet, to speak the truth, I rate your chance 
Almost at naked nothing.* 

Thus the king ; 
And I, tho' nettled that he seem*d to slur 
With garrulous ease and oily courtesies 
Our formal compact, yet, not less (all frets 
But chafing me on fire to find my bride) 
Went forth again with both my friends. We rode 
Many a long league back to the North. At last 
From hills, that look'd across a land of hope, 
We dropt with evening on a rustic town 
Set in a gleaming river's crescent-curve. 
Close at the boundary of the liberties ; 
There, enter*d an old hostel, called mine host 


To council, plied him with his richest wines. 
And show'd the late-writ letters of the king. 

He with a long low sibilation, stared 
As blank as death in marble ; then exclaimed 
Averring it was dear against all roles 
For any man to go : bat as his brain 
Began to mellow, ' If the king,' he said, 
' Had given ns letters, was he bonnd to speak ? 
The king would bear him oat ;' and at the last — 
The summer of the vine in all his veins — 
' No donbt that we might make it worth his while. 
She once had past that way ; he heard her speak ; 
She scared him ; life ! he never saw the like ; 
She look'd as grand as doomsday and as grave : 
And he, he reverenced his Uege-lady there ; 
He always made a point to post with mares ; 
His daughter and his housemaid were the boys : 
The land, he understood, for miles about 
Was till'd by women ; all the swine were sows, 
And all the dogs ' — 

But while he jested thus, 



A thought flash'd thro' me which I clothed in act, 
Rememberiug liow we three presented Mftid 
Or Njmph, or Goddess, &t high tide of feast. 


In masque or pageant at my father's court. 
We sent mine host to purchase female gear ; 


He brought it, and himself, a sight to shake 
The midriff of despair with laughter, holp 
To lace us up, till, each, in maiden plumes 
We rustled : him we gave a costly bribe 
To guerdon silence, mounted our good steeds, 
And boldly yentured on the liberties. 

We foUow'd up the river as we rode, 
And rode till midnight when the college lights 
Began to glitter firefly-like in copse 
And linden alley : then we past an arch. 
Whereon a woman-statue rose with wings 
From four wing*d horses dark against the stars ; 
And some inscription ran along the front. 
But deep in shadow : further on we gained 
A little street half garden and half house ; 
But scarce could hear each other speak for noise 
Of clocks and chimes, like silver hammers falling 
On silver anvils, and the splash and stir 
Of fountains spouted up and showering down 


In meshes of the jasmine and the rose : 
And aU about ns pealed the ni^tingale. 
Rapt in her song, and careless of the snare. 

There stood a bust of PaDas for a sign. 
By two sphere himps Uazon'd like Heaven and Earth 
With constellation and with continent. 
Above an entry : riding in, we call'd ; 
A plnmp-arm'd Ostleress and a stable wench 
Came running at the call, and help*d ns down. 
Then stept a bnxom hostess forth, and sailM, 
Fall-blown, before ns into rooms which gave 
Upon a pillared porch, the bases lost 
In laurel : her we ask*d of that and this. 
And who were tutors. ' Lady Blanche ' she said, 
• And Lady Psyche.' ' WTiich was prettiest, 
Best-natured ? ' * Ladv Psvche.* * Hers are we/ 
One voice, we cried ; and I sat down and wroto. 
In such a hand as when a field of com 
Bows all its ears before the roaring East ; 

* Three ladies of the Nortliorn empire pray 

Your Highness would enroll tliem with your own, 
As Lady Psyche's pupils.' 

This I seal'd : 


The seal was Cupid bent above a scroll, 

And o'er his head Uranian Venus hung, 

And raised the blinding bandage from his eyes : 

I gave the letter to be sent with dawn ; 

And then to bed, where half in doze I seem'd 

To float about a glimmering night, and watch 

A full sea glazed with muffled moonlight, swell 

On some dark shore just seen that it was rich. 


As thro' tho laud at eve we went. 

And pluck'd Ihe ripen'd cars, 
We fell out. luy wife and I, 
O we fell out I know not why. 

And kiss'd again with tears. 

For when we came where Les the child 

We lost in other years. 
There above the htUe grave, ^ 

O tlierc above the little grave. 

Wc kisB'd ngaiu with tearK. 



At break of day the College Portress came : 

She brought us Academic silks, in hue 

The lilac, with a silken hood to each. 

And zoned with gold ; and now when these were on, 

And we as rich as moths from dusk cocoons. 

She, curtseying her obeisance, let us know 

The Princess Ida waited : out we paced, 

I first, and following thro' the porch that sang 

All round with laurel, issued in a court 

Compact of lucid marbles, boss'd with lengths 

Of classic frieze, with ample awnings gay 

Betwixt the pillars, and with great urns of flowers. 

The Muses and the Graces, group*d in threes, 

Enring^d a billowing fountain in the midst ; 

And here and there on lattice edges lay 

Or book or lute ; but hastily we past. 


And up a flight of stairs into the ball. 

There at a board by tome and paper sat, 
With two tame leopards couch*d beside her throne, 
All beauty compass'd in a female form, 
The Princess ; liker to the inhabitant 
Of some clear planet close upon the Sun, 
Than our man's earth ; such eyes were in her head, 
And so much grace and power, breathing down 
From over her arch*d brows, with every turn 
Lived thro* her to the tips of her long hands. 
And to her feet. She rose her height, and said : 

* We give you welcome : not without redound 
Of use and glory to yourselves ye come, 
The first-fruits of the stranger : aftertime, 
And that full voice which circles round the grave, 
Will rank you nobly, mingled up with me. 
What ! are the ladies of your land so tall ?' 
' We of the court ' said Cyril. ' From the court ' 
She answer'd, ' then ye know the Prince ? ' and he : 
* The climax of his age ! as tho' there were 


One rose in all the world, your Highness that, 
He worships your ideal : ' she replied : 

' We scarcely thonght in our own hall to hear 
This barren Terbiage, current among men. 

A MEDLEY. ;j5 

Light coin, the tinsel clink of compliment. 
Your flight from out your bookless wilds would seem 
As arguing love of knowledge and of power ; 
Your language proves you still the child. Indeed, 
We dream not of him : when we set our hand 
To this great work, we purposed with ourselves 
Never to wed. You likewise will do well, 
Ladies, in entering here, to cast and fling 
The tricks, which make us toys of men, that so, 
Some future time, if so indeed you will. 
You may with those self-styled our lords ally 
Your fortunes, justlier balanced, scale with scale.' 

At those high words, we conscious of ourselves. 
Perused the matting ; then an officer 
Rose up, and read the statutes, such as these : 
Not for three years to correspond with home ; 
Not for three years to cross the liberties ; 
Not for three years to speak with any men ; 
And many more, which hastily subscribed, 
We enter'd on the boards : and * Now ' she cried 
* Ye are green wood, see ye warp not. Look, our hall ! 


Our statues ! — ^not of those that men desire, 

Sleek Odalisques, or oracles of mode, 

Nor stunted squaws of West or East ; but she 

That taught the Sabine how to rule, and she 

The foundress of the Babylonian wall, 

The Carian Artemisia strong in war. 

The Rhodope, that built the pyramid, 

Clelia, Cornelia, with the Palmyrene 

That fought Aurelian, and the Soman brows 

Of Agrippina. Dwell with these, and lose 

Convention, since to look on noble forms 

Makes noble thro* the sensuous organism 

That which is higher. O lift your natures up : 

Embrace our aims : wor]^ out your freedom. Girls, 

Knowledge is now no more a fountain seal'd : 

Drink deep, until the habits of the slave. 

The sins of emptiness, gossip and spite 

And slander, die. Better not be at all 

Than not be noble. Leave us : you may go : 

To-day t^e Lady Psyche will harangue 

The fresh arrivals of the week before ; 

For they press in from all the provinces, 


And fiU the hive.' 

She spoke, and bowing waved 
Dismissal : back again we crost the court 
To Lady Psyche's : as we enter'd in, 
There sat along the forms, like morning doves 
That sun their milky bosoms on the thatch, 
A patient range of pupils ; she herself 
Erect behind a desk of satin-wood, 
A quick brunette, well-moulded, falcon-eyed, 
And on the hither side, or so she look'd. 
Of twenty sunmiers. At her left, a child, 
In shining draperies, headed like a star, 
Her maiden babe, a double April old, 
AglaXa slept. We sat : the Lady glanced : 
Then Florian, but no livelier than the dame 
That whisper'd ' Asses* ears ' among the sedge, 
« My sister.' * Comely too by all that's fair ' 
Said Cyril. ' hush, hush ! ' and she began. 

* This world was once a fluid haze of light, 
Till toward the centre set the starry tides. 
And eddied into suns, that wheeling cast 

The planets : tbeo the monstor, tbon the man ; 

Tattoo'd or woaded, wint«r-clad io skiue, 

Raw from tlie prime, and cruHLing dawu bis mate ; 


As yet we find in barbarous isles, and here 
Among the lowest.' 

Thereupon she took 
A bird*8-eye-view of all the ungracious past ; 
Glanced at the legendary Amazon 
As emblematic of a nobler age ; 
Appraised the Lycian custom, spoke of those 
That lay at wine with Lar and Lucumo ; 
Ban down the Persian, Grecian, Roman lines 
Of empire, and the woman's state in each, 
How far from just ; till warming wdth her theme 
She fulmined out her scorn of laws Salique 
And little-footed China, touched on Mahomet 
With much contempt, and came to chivalry : 
When some respect, however slight, was paid 
To woman, superstition all awry : 
However then commenced the dawn : a beam 
Had slanted forward, falling in a land 
Of promise ; fruit would follow. Deep, indeed, 
Their debt of thanks to her who first had dared 
To leap the rotten pales of prejudice, 
Disyoke their necks from custom, and assert 


None lordlier than themselyes bat that which made 

Woman and man. She had founded ; they must baild. 

Here might they learn whatever men were taught : 

Let them not fear : some said their heads were less : 

Some men's were small ; not they the least of men ; 

For often fineness compensated size : 

Besides the brain was like the hand, and grew 

With using ; thence the man's, if more was more ; 

He took advantage of his strength to be 

First in the field : some ages had been lost ; 

But woman ripen'd earlier, and her life 

Was longer ; and albeit their glorious names 

Were fewer, scatter'd stars, yet since in truth 

The highest is the measure of the man, 

And not the Kaffir, Hottentot, Malay, 

Nor those horn-handed breakers of the glebe, 

But Homer, Plato, Verulam ; even so 

With woman : and in arts of government 

Elizabeth and others ; arts of war 

The peasant Joan and others ; arts of grace 

Sappho and others vied with any man : 

And, last not least, she who had left her place, 


And bow'd her state to them, that they might grow 
To use and power on this Oasis, lapt 
In the arms of leisure, sacred from the blight 
Of ancient influence and scorn. 

At last 
She rose upon a wind of prophecy 
Dilating on the future ; * everywhere 
Two heads in council, two beside the hearth, 
Two in the tangled business of the world, 
Two in the liberal offices of life, 
Two plummets dropt for one to sound the abyss 
Of science, and the secrets of the mind : 
Musician, painter, sculptor, critic, more : 
And ever}^here the broad and bounteous Earth 
Should bear a double growth of those rare souls. 
Poets, whose thoughts enrich the blood of the world.* 

She ended here, and beckon'd us : the rest 
Parted ; and, glowing full-faced welcome, she 
Began to address us, and was moving on 
In gratulation, till as when a boat 
Tacks, and the slackened sail flaps, all her voice 


Faltering and fluttering in her throat, she cried 
' My brother ! ' * Well, my sister.' * ' she said 
' What do you here ? and in this dress ? and these ? 
Why who are these ? a wolf within the fold ! 
A pack of wolves ! the Lord be gracious to me ! 
A plot, a plot, a plot to ruin all ! * 

* No plot, no plot,' he answer'd. 'Wretched boy, 
How saw you not the inscription on the gate. 
Let no man enter in on pain of death?' 

* And if I had ' he answer'd * who could think 
The softer Adams of your Academe, 

sister, Sirens tho' they be, were such 

As chanted on the blanching bones of men ? ' 

* But you will find it otherwise' she said. 

* You jest : ill jesting with edge-tools ! my vow 
Binds me to speak, and that iron will, 

That axelike edge untumable, our Head, 

The Princess.' 'Well then, Psyche, take my life, 

And nail me like a weasel on a grange 

For warning : bury me beside the gate, 

And cut this epitaph above my bones ; 

Here lies a brother by a sister slain^ 


All for the common good of womankind,' 
' Let me die too ' said Cyril * haTing seen 
And heard the Lady Psyche.' 

I struck in : 
* Albeit so mask'd, Madam, I love the truth ; 
Beceive it ; and in me behold the Prince 
Your countryman, affianced years ago 
To the Lady Ida : here, for here she was, 
And thus (what other way was left) I came.' 
' Sir, Prince, I have no country ; none ; 
If any, this ; but none. Whate'er I was 
Disrooted, what I am is grafted here. 
Affianced, Sir ? love-whispers may not breathe 
Within this vestal Umit, and how should I, 
Who am not mine, say, live : the thunderbolt 
Hangs silent ; but prepare : I speak ; it falls.' 
' Yet pause,' I said : * for that inscription there, 
I think no more of deadly lurks therein. 
Than in a clapper clapping in a garth. 
To scare the fowl from fruit : if more there be, 
If more and acted on, what follows ? war ; 
Your own work marr'd : for this your Academe, 



Whichever side be Victor, in the halloo 

Will topple to the trumpet down, and pass 

With all fair theories only made to gild 

A stormless summer.' ' Let the Princess judge 

Of that * she said : * farewell Sir — and to you. 

I shudder at the sequel, but I go.' 

' Are you that Lady Psyche ' I rejoin'd, 
* The fifth in line from that old Florian, 
Yet hangs his portrait in my father's hall 
(The gaunt old Baron with his beetle brow 
Sun-shaded in the heat of dusty fights) 
As he bestrode my Grandsire, when he fell, 
And all else fled : we point to it, and we say, 
The loyal warmth ot Florian is not cold, 
But branches current yet in kindred veins.' 
' Are you that Psyche ' Florian added ' she 
With whom I sang about the morning hills, 
Flung ball, flew kite, and raced the purple fly, 
And snared the squirrel of the glen ? are you 
That Psyche, wont to bind my throbbing brow. 
To smoothe my pillow, mix the fo( 


Of fever, tell me pleasant tales, and read 
My sickness down to happy dreams ? are you 
That brother-sister Psyche, both in one ? 
You were that Psyche, but what are you now?' 

* You are that Psyche,' Cyril said, * for whom 
I would be that for ever which I seem 
Woman, if I might sit beside your feet, 
And glean your scattered sapience.' 

Then once more, 

* Are you that Lady Psyche ' I began, 

' That on her bridal morn before she past 

From all her old companions, when the king 

Kiss*d her pale cheek, declared that ancient ties 

Would still be dear beyond the southern hills ; 

That were there any of our people there 

In want or peril, there was one to hear 

And help them : look ! for such are these and I.' 

* Are you that Psyche ' Florian ask'd * to whom, 
In gentler days, your arrow-wounded fawn 
Game fljing while you sat beside the well ? 
The creature laid his muzzle on your lap, 

And sobb'd, and you sobb'd with it, and the blood 


Was sprinkled on your kirtle, and you wept. 

That was fawn's blood, not brother's, yet you wept. 

by the bright head of my little niece, 

You were that Psyche, and what are you now ? * 

* You are that Psyche * Cyril said again, 

' The mother of the sweetest little maid, 

That ever crow'd for kisses.' 

' Out upon it ! ' 
She answer'd, * peace ! and why should I not play 
The Spartan Mother with emotion, be 
The Lucius Junius Brutus of my kind ? 
Him you call great : he for the common weal, 
The fading politics of mortal Home, 
As I might slay this child, if good need were, 
Slew both his sons : and I, shall I, on whom 
The secular emancipation turns 
Of half this world, be swerved from right to save 
A prince, a brother ? a little will I yield. 
Best so, perchance, for us, and well for you. 
hard, when love and duty clash ! I fear 
My conscience will not count me fleckless ; yet — 
Hear my conditions : promise (otherwise 


You perish) as you came to slip away, 

To-day, to-morrow, soon : it shall be said. 

These women were too barbarous, would not learn ; 

They fled, who might have shamed us : promise, all/ 

What could we else, we promised each; and she. 
Like some wild creature newly-caged, commenced 
A to-and-fro, so pacing tiU she paused 
By Florian; holding out her lily arms 
Took both his hands, and smiling faintly said : 
* I knew you at the first : tho* you have grown 
You scarce have alter'd : I am sad and glad 
To see you, Florian. I give thee to death 
My brother ! it was duty spoke, not I. 
My needful seeming harshness, pardon it. 
Our mother, is she well?' 

With that she kiss'd 
His forehead, then, a moment after, clung 
About him, and betwixt them blossom'd up 
From out a common vein of memory 
Sweet household talk, and phrases of the hearth. 
And far allusion, till the gracious dews 


BogSD to glieten and to fall : and while 
They stood, so rapt, wo gazing, came a voice. 


The Lady Blanche's daughter where she stood, 
Melissa, with her hand upon the lock, 
A rosy blonde, and in a college gown, 
That clad her like an April daffodilly 
(Her mother's colour) with her lips apart, 
And all her thoughts as fair within her eyes, 
As bottom agates seen to wave and float 
In crystal currents of clear morning seas. 

So stood that same fair creature at the door. 
Then Lady Psyche * Ah — ^Melissa — you ! 
You heard us ? ' and Melissa, * pardon me ! 
I heard, I could not help it, did not wish : 
But, dearest Lady, pray you fear me not. 
Nor think I bear that heart within my breast, 
To give three gallant gentlemen to death.' 
* I trust you ' said the other ' for we two 
Were always friends, none closer, elm and vine : 
But yet your mother's jealous temperament — 
Let not your prudence, dearest, drowse, or prove 
The Danaid of a leaky vase, for fear 
This whole foundation ruin, and I lose 



My honour, these their lives/ * Ah, fear me not ' 

Replied Melissa ' no — I would not tell, 

No, not for all Aspasia's cleverness, 

No, not to answer, Madam, all those hard things 

That Sheba came to ask of Solomon.' 

* Be it so ' the other ' that we still may lead 

The new light up, and culminate in peace, 

For Solomon may come to Sheba yet.' 

Said Cyril ' Madam, he the wisest man 

Feasted the woman wisest then, in halls 

Of Lebanonian cedar : nor should you 

(Tho' madam you should answer, we would ask) 

Less welcome find among us, if you came 

Among us, debtors for our lives to you. 

Myself for something more.' He said not what, 

But * Thanks,' she answer'd * go : we have been too long 

Together : keep your hoods about the face ; 

They do so that affect abstraction here. 

Speak little ; mix not with the rest ; and hold 

Your promise : all, I trust, may yet be well.' 

Wo turn'd to go, but Cyril took the ci 


And held her round the knees against his waist, 
And blew the swoll'n cheek of a trumpeter, 
While Psyche watched them, smiling, and the child 
Push'd her flat hand against his face and laugh'd ; 
And thus our conference closed. 

And then we stroll'd 
For half the day thro* stately theatres 
Bench'd crescent-wise. In each we sat, we heard 
The grave Professor. On the lecture slate 
The circle rounded under female hands 
With flawless demonstration : foUow'd then 
A classic lecture, rich in sentiment, 
With scraps of thundrous Epic lilted out 
By violet-hooded Doctors, elegies 
And quoted odes, and jewels five-words-long 

That on the stretch'd forefinger of all Time 

Sparkle for ever : then we dipt in all 

That treats of whatsoever is, the state. 

The total chronicles of man, the mind. 

The morals, something of the frame, the rock, 

The star, the bird, the fish, the shell, the flower. 

Electric, chemic laws, and all the rest, 

H 2 


And whatsoeyer can be taught and known ; 
Till like three horses that have broken fence, 
And glutted all night long breast-deep in com, 
We issued gorged with knowledge, and I spoke : 

* Why, Sirs, they do all this as well as we.' 

' They hunt old trails * said Cyril ' very well ; 
But when did woman ever yet invent ? ' 
' Ungracious ! ' answer'd Florian, ' have you learnt 
No more from Psyche's lecture, you that talk'd 
The trash that made me sick, and almost sad ? ' 

* trash ' he said * but with a kernel in it. 
Should I not call her wise, who made me wise ? 
And learnt ? I learnt more from her in a flash, 
Than if my brainpan were an empty hull. 

And every Muse tumbled a science in. 
A thousand hearts lie fallow in these halls, 
And round these halls a thousand baby loves 
Fly twanging headless arrows at the hearts. 
Whence follows many a vacant pang; but 
With me. Sir, enter'd in the bigger boy, 
The Head of all the golden-shafted firm, 
The long-limb'd lad that had a Psyche too ; 


He cleft me thro' the stomacher ; and now 
What think you of it, Florian ? do I chase 
The substance or the shadow ? will it hold ? 
I have no sorcerer's malison on me, 
No ghostly hauntings like his Highness. I 
Flatter myself that always everywhere 
I know the substance when I see it. Well, 
Are castles shadows ? Three of them ? Is she 
The sweet proprietress a shadow ? If not. 
Shall those three castles patch my tatter'd coat ? 
For dear are those three castles to my wants. 
And dear is sister Psyche to my heart. 
And two dear things are one of double worth, 
And much I might have said, but that my zone 
Unmann'd me : then the Doctors ! to hear 
The Doctors ! to watch the thirsty plants 
Imbibing ! once or twice I thought to roar. 
To break my chain, to shake my mane : but thou, 
Modulate me. Soul of mincing mimicry ! 
Made liquid treble of that bassoon, my throat ; 
Abase those eyes that ever loved to meet 
Star-sisters answering under crescent brows ; 


Abate the stride, which speaks of man, and loose 
A flying charm of blushes o'er this cheek, 
Where they like swallows coming out of time 
"Will wonder why they came : but hark the bell 
For dinner, let us go ! ' 

And in we streamed 
Among the columns, pacing staid and still 
By twos and threes, till all from end to end 
With beauties every shade of brown and fair, 
In colours gayer than the morning mist, 
The long hall gUtter'd like a bed of flowers. 
How might a man not wander from his wits 
Pierced thro' with eyes, but that I kept mine own 
Intent on her, who rapt in glorious dreams, 
The second-sight of some Astrsean age. 
Sat compass'd with professors : they, the while, 
Discuss'd a doubt and tost it to and fro : 
A clamour thicken'd, mixt mtii inmost terms 
Of art and science : Lady Blanche alone 
Of faded form and haughtiest lineaments, 
With all her Autumn tresses falsely brown. 
Shot sidelong daggers at us, a tiger-cat 

In act to Rpring. 

At laet 8 solemn grace 
Concluded, and wc sought the gardens : there 


One walked reciting by herself, and one 

In this hand held a volume as to read, 

And smoothed a petted peacock down with that : 

Some to a low song oar'd a shallop by, 

Or under arches of the marble bridge 

Hung, shadowed from the heat : some hid and sought 

In the orange thickets : others tost a ball 

Above the fountain-jets, and back again 

With laughter : others lay about the lawns. 

Of the older sort, and murmur'd that their May 

Was passing : what was learning unto them ? 

They wish*d to marry ; they could rule a house ; 

Men hated learned women : but we three 

Sat muffled like the Fates ; and often came 

Melissa hitting all we saw with shafts 

Of gentle satire, kin to charity, 

That harm'd not : then day droopt ; the chapel bells 

Called us : we left the walks ; we mixt with those 

Six hundred maidens clad in purest white, 

Before two streams of light from wall to wall. 

While the great organ almost burst his pipes. 

Groaning for power, and rolling thro' the court 


A long melodious thunder to the sound 
Of solemn psalms, and silver litanies, 
The work of Ida, to call down from Heaven 
A blessing on her labours for the world. 


Sweet and low, sweet and low. 

Wind of the western sea, 
Low, low, breathe and blow, 

Wind of the western sea I 
Over the rolling waters go, 
Come from the djring moon, and blow. 

Blow him again to me ; 
While my little one, while my pretty one, sleeps. 

Sleep and rest, sleep and rest. 

Father will come to thee soon ; 
Rest, rest, on mother's breast. 

Father will come to thee soon ; 
Father will come to his babe in the nest. 
Silver sails all out of the west 

Under the silver moon : 
Sleep, my little one, sleep, my pretty one, sleep. 



Morn in tho white wake of the morning star 
Came furrowing all the orient into gold. 
We rose, and each by other drest with care 
Descended to the court that lay three parts 
In shadow, but the Muses' heads were touch'd 
Above the darkness from their native East. 

There while we stood beside the fount, and watch'd 
Or seem'd to watch the dancing bubble, approach'd 
Melissa, tinged with wan from lack of sleep, 
Or grief, and glowing round her dewy eyes 
The circled Iris of a night of tears ; 

* And fly * she cried, * O fly, while yet you may ! 
!My mother knows : ' and when I ask'd her * how * 

* My fault * she wept * my fault ! and yet not mine ; 
Yet mine in part. hear me, pardon me. 


My mother, 'tis her wont from night to night 

To rail at Lady Psyche and her side. 

She says the Princess should have been the Head, 

Herself and Lady Psyche the two arms ; 

And so it was agreed when first they came ; 

But Lady Psyche was the right hand now, 

And she the left^ or not^ or seldom used ; 

Hers more than half the students, all the love. 

And so last night she fell to canvass you : 

Iler country women ! she did not envy her. 

" Who over saw such wild barbarians ? 

Girls ? — ^more like men ! " and at these words the snake, 

My secret, seem'd to stir within my breast ; 

And oh, Sirs, could I help it, but my cheek 

Began to bum and burn, and her lynx eye 

To fix and make me hotter, till she laugh'd : 

** marvellously modest maiden, you ! 

Men ! girls, like men ! why, if they had been men 

You need not set your thoughts in rubric thus 

For wholesale comment." Pardon, I am shamed 

That I must needs repeat for my excuse 

What looks so little graceful : *' men " (for still 


My mother went revolving on the word) 

*' And so they are, — very like men indeed — 

And with that woman closeted for hours ! " 

Then came these dreadful words out one by one, 

"Why — ^these — are — men : " I shuddered : " and you knowit." 

" ask me nothing/' I said : " And she knows too. 

And she conceals it.'* So my mother clutch'd 

The truth at once, but with no word from me ; 

And now thus early risen she goes to inform 

The Princess : Lady Psyche will be crush'd ; 

But you may yet be saved, and therefore fly : 

But heal me with your pardon ere you go.' 

' What pardon, sweet Melissa, for a blush ? ' 
Said Cyril : ' Pale one, blush again : than wear 
Those lilies, better blush our lives away. 
Yet let us breathe for one hour more in Heaven ' 
He added, ' lest some classic Angel speak 
In scorn of us, ''they mounted, Ganymedes, 
To tumble, Vulcans, on the second mom." 
But I will melt this marble into wax 
To yield us farther furlough : ' and he went. 


Melissa shook her doubtful curls, and thought 
He scarce would prosper. ' Tell us/ Florian ask^d, 
* How grew this feud betwixt the right and left.' 
' long ago/ she said, ' betwixt these two 
Division smoulders hidden ; 'tis my mother, 
Too jealous, often fretful as the wind 
Pent in a crevice : much I bear with her : 
I never knew my father, but she says 
(Ood help her) she was wedded to a fool ; 
And still she rail'd against the state of things. 
She had the care of Lady Ida's youth, 
And from the Queen's decease she brought her up. 
But when your sister came she won the heart 
Of Ida : they were still together, grew 
(For so they said themselves) inosculated ; 
Consonant chords that shiver to one note ; 
One mind in all things : yet my mother still 
Affirms your Psyche thieved her theories, 
And angled with them for her pupil's love : 
She calls her plagiarist ; I know not what : 
But I must go : I dare not tarry ' and light. 
As flies the shadow of a bird, she fled. 


Then murmur'd Florian gazing after her. 
' An open-hearted maiden, true and pure. 
If I could love, why this were she : how pretty 
• Her blushing was, and how she blush'd again, 
As if to close with Cyril's random wish : 
Not like your Princess cramm'd with erring pride. 
Nor like poor Psyche whom she drags in tow.' 

' The crane,' I said, ' may chatter of the crane. 
The dove may murmur of the dove, but I 
An eagle clang an eagle to the sphere. 
My princess, my princess ! true she errs, 
But in her own grand way : being herself 
Three times more noble than threescore of men. 
She sees herself in every woman else, 
And so she wears her error like a crown 
To blind the truth and me : for her, and her, 
Hebes are they to hand ambrosia, mix 
The nectar ; but — ah she — ^whene'er she moves 
The Samian Here rises and she speaks 
A Menmon smitten with the morning Sun.' 


So saying from the court we paced, and gain'd 
The terrace ranged along the Northern front. 
And leaning there on those balusters, high 
Above the empurpled champaign, drank the gale 
That blown about the foliage underneath. 
And sated with the innumerable rose. 
Beat balm upon our eyelids. Hither came 
Cyril, and yawning * hard task,' he cried ; 
' No fighting shadows here ! I forced a way 
Thro' solid opposition crabb'd and gnarl'd. 
Better to clear prime forests, heave and thump 
A league of street in summer solstice down. 
Than hammer at this reverend gentlewoman. 
I knock'd and, bidden, enter'd ; found her there 
At point to move, and settled in her eyes 
The green malignant light of coming storm. 
Sir, I was courteous, every phrase well-oil'd, 
As man's could be ; yet maiden-meek I pray'd 
Concealment : she demanded who we were, 
And why we came ? I fabled nothing fair, 
But, your example pilot, told her all. 
Up went the hush'd amaze of hand and eye. 



But when I dwelt upon your old affiance, 

She answered sharply that I talked astray. 

I urged the fierce inscription on the gate. 

And our three lires. True — ^we had limed ourselves 

With open eyes, and we must take the chance. 

But such extremes, I told her, well might harm 

The woman's cause. " Not more than now," she said, 

'* So puddled as it is with favouritism." 

I tried the mother's heart. Shame might befal 

Melissa, knowing, saying not she knew : 

Her answer was " Leave me to deal wdth that." 

I spoke of war to come and many deaths. 

And she replied, her duty was to speak, 

And duty duty, clear of consequences. 

I grew discouraged. Sir ; but since I knew 

No rock so hard but that a little wave 

May beat admission in a thousand years, 

I recommenced ; " Decide not ere you pause. 

I find you here but in the second place. 

Some say the third — the authentic foundress you. 

I offer boldly : we will seat you highest : 

Wink at our advent : help my prince to gain 

His rightful bride, aud here I promise you 
Some palace in out land, where yoa shall reign 
The head and heart of all our fair she-world, 
And ;our great name flow on with broadening time 
For ever." Well, she balanced this a little, 
And told me she woold answer as to-day, 
Meantime be mute : thus much, nor more I gain'd.' 

He ceasing, came a message from the Head. 
' That afternoon the Princess rode to take 
The dip of certain strata to the North. 
Would we go with her ? we should find the land 
Worth seeing ; and the river made a fall 
Out yonder : ' then she pointed on to where 
A doable hiU ran up his furrowy forks 
Beyond the thick-leaved platans of the vale. 

Agreed to, this, the day fled on thro' all 
ItB range of duties to the appointed hour. 
Then sammon'd to the porch we went. She stood 
Among her maidens, higher by the head. 
Her back against a pillar, her foot on one 


Of those tame leopards. Kittenlike he rolled 
And paw*d about her sandal. I drew near ; 
I gazed. On a sudden my strange seizure came 
Upon me, the weird vision of our house : 
The Princess Ida 8eem*d a hollow show, 
Her gaj-furr'd cats a painted fantasy. 
Her coUege and her maidens, empty masks. 
And I myself the shadow of a dream. 
For all things were and were not. Yet I felt 
My heart beat thick with passion and with' awe ; 
Then from my breast the involuntary sigh 
Brake, as she smote me with the light of eyes 
That lent my knee desire to kneel, and shook 
My pulses, till to horse we got, and so 
Went forth in long retinue following up 
The river as it narrow'd to the hills. 

I rode beside her and to me she said : 
* friend, we trust that you esteem'd us not 
Too harsh to your companion yestermorn ; 
Unwillingly we spake.' ' No — not to her,' 
I answer'd, * but to one of whom we spake 


Your Highness might have seem'd the thing yon say.' 
' Again ? * she cried ' are you ambassadresses 
From him to me ? we give you, being strange, 
A license : speak, and let the topic die.* 

I stammer'd that I knew him — could have wish'd — 
* Our king expects — was there no precontract ? 
There is no truer-hearted — ah, you seem 
All he prefigured, and he could not see 
The bird of passage flying south but long'd 
To follow : surely, if your Highness keep 
Your purport, you will shock him ev'n to death, 
Or baser courses, children of despair.' 

* Poor boy ' she said * can he not read — no books ? 
Quoit, tennis, ball — no games ? nor deals in that 
Which men delight in, martial exercise ? 
To nurse a blind ideal like a girl, 
Methinks he seems no better than a girl ; 
As girls were once, as we ourselves have been : 
We had our dreams ; perhaps he mixt with them : 
We touch on our dead self, nor shun to do it, 


Being other-since we learnt our meaning here, 
To lift the woman's /all'n divinity 
Upon an even pedestal with man/ 

She paused, and added with a haughtier smile 
' And as to precontracts, we move, my friend. 
At no man's beck, but know ourselves and thee, 
Yashti, noble Yashti ! Summon'd out 
She kept her state, and left the drunken king 
To brawl at Shushan underneath the palms.' 

' Alas your Highness breathes full East,' I said, 
' On that which leans to you. I know the Prince, 
I prize his truth : and then how vast a work 
To assail this gray preeminence of man ! 
You grant me license ; might I use it ? think ; 
Ere half be done perchance your life may fail ; 
Then comes the feebler heiress of your plan. 
And takes and ruins all ; and thus your pains 
May only make that footprint upon sskud 
Which old-recurring waves of prejudice 
Besmooth to nothing : might I dread that you, 


With only Fame for spouse and your great deeds 
For issue, yet may live in vain, and miss, 
Meanwhile, what every woman counts her due, 
LoYe, children, happiness ? ' 

And she exclaimed, 
* Peace, you young savage of the Northern wild ! 
What ! tho* your Prince's love were like a God's, 
Have we not made ourself the sacrifice ? 
You are bold indeed : we are not talk'd to thus : 
Yet will we say for children, would they grew 
Like field-flowers everywhere ! we like them well : 
But children die ; and let me tell you, girl, 
Howe'er you babble, great deeds cannot die : 
They with the sun and moon renew their light 
For ever, blessing those that look on them. 
Children — ^that men may pluck them from our hearts. 
Kill us with pity, break us with ourselves — 
— children — there is nothing upon earth 
More miserable than she that has a son 
And sees him err : nor would we work for fame ; 
Tho' she perhaps might reap the applause of Great, 
Who learns the one pou sto whence after-hands 


May move the world, tho' she herself effect 

But little : wherefore up and act, nor shrink 

For fear our solid aim he dissipated 

B31 frail successors. Would, indeed, we had heen, 

In lieu of many mortal flies, a race 

Of giants living, each, a thousand years. 

That we might see our own work out, and watch 

The sandy footprint harden into stone.' 

I answered nothing, doubtful in myself 
If that strange Poet-princess with her grand 
Imaginations might at all be won. 
And she broke out interpreting my thoughts 

* No doubt we seem a kind of monster to you ; 
We are used to that : for women, up till this 
Cramp*d under worse than South- sea-isle taboo. 
Dwarfs of the gynieceum, fail so far 
In high desire, they know not, cannot guess 
How much their welfare is a passion to us. 
If we could give them surer, quicker proof — 
Oh if our end were less achievable 


By slow approaches, than by single act 

OF immolation, any phase of death. 

We were as prompt to spring against the pikes. 

Or down the fiery galf as talk of it, 

To compass our dear sister's Uberties.' 

She bow'd as if to veil a noWe tear ; 
And up we came to where the river sloped 
To plunge in cataract, shattering on black blocks 
A breadth of thunder. O'er it shook the woods. 
And danced the colour, and, below, stuck out 
The bones of some vast bulk that lived and roar'd 
Before man was. She gazed awhile and said, 
' As these rude bones to us, are wo to her 
That will be.' ' Dare we dream of that,' I aak'd, 
' Which wrought us, as the workman and his work. 
That practice betters ? ' 'How,' she cried, 'yoniove 
The metaphysics ! read and earn our prize, 
A golden broach : beneath an emerald piano 
Sits Diotima, teaching him that died 
Of hemlock ; our device ; wrought to the life ; 
She rapt upon her subject, he on her : 


For there are schools for all.* ' And yet ' I said 

' Methinks I have not found among them all 

One anatomic* * Nay, we thought of that/ 

She answered, ' but it pleased us not : in truth 

We shudder but to dream our maids should ape 

Those monstrous males that carve the living hound, 

And cram him with the fragments of the grave, 

Or in the dark dissolving human heart, 

And holy secrets of this microcosm. 

Dabbling a shameless hand with shameful jest, 

Encamalize their spirits : yet we know 

Knowledge is knowledge, and this matter hangs : 

Howbeit ourself^ foreseeing casualty, 

Nor willing men should come among us, learnt, 

For many weary moons before we came. 

This craft of healing. Were you sick, ourself 

Would tend upon you. To your question now, 

Which touches on the workman and his work. 

Let there be light and there was light : 'tis so ; 

For was, and is, and will be, are but is ; 

And all creation is one act at once. 

The birth of light : but we that are not all. 


As parts, can see but parts, now this, now that, 

And live, perforce, from thought to thought, and make 

One act a phantom of succession : thus 

Our weakness somehow shapes the shadow, Time ; 

But in the shadow will we work, and mould 

The woman to the fuller day.' 

She spake 
With kindled eyes : we rode a league beyond, 
And o*er a bridge of pinewood crossing, came 
On flowery levels underneath the crag. 
Full of all beauty. ' how sweet ' I said 
(For I was half-oblivious of my mask) 
* To linger here with one that loved us.' * Yea ' 
She answer'd * or with fair philosophies 
That lift the fancy ; for indeed these fields 
Are lovely, lovelier not the Elysian lawns. 
Where paced the Demigods of old, and saw 
The soft white vapour streak the crowned towers 
Built to the Sun : ' then, turning to her maids, 
' Pitch our pavilion here upon the sward ; 
Lay out the viands.' At the word, they raised 
A tent of satin, elaborately wrought 


The bearded Victor of ten-thousand hymns, 
And all the men moam*d at his side : bat we 
Set forth to climb ; then, climbing, Cyril kept 
With Psyche, with Melissa Florian, I 
With mine affianced. Many a little hand 
Glanced like a touch of sunshine on the rocks, 
Many a light foot shone like a jewel set 
In the dark crag : and then we tum'd, we wound 
About the cliffs, the copses, out and in, 
Hammering and clinking, chattering stony names 
Of shale and hornblende, rag and trap and tuff. 
Amygdaloid and trachyte, till the Sun 
Grew broader toward his death and fell, and all 
The rosy heights came out above the lawns. 


The Bplendoni blla on caatle walls 

And snony Bimuuita old m wtorj : 

The long li^t eltakes scross the lakes. 

And the vild cataract leaps in gloiy. 

Blow, bogle, blow, set the wild eohciea flying. 

Blow, bogle ; answer, echoes, djing, djing, djing. 

O hark, O hear ! how thin and clear. 
And tliianer. clearer, farther going ! 
O sweet and far bom cliff and scar 
The horns of Elfiand family blowing ! 
Blow, let us hear the purple glena replying : 
Blow, bogle ; snswer, echoes, dying, dying, dying. 


O love, thej die in yon rich sky. 

They foint on hU) or field or river : 
Our echoes roll from soul to soul. 
And grow forever and for ever. 
Blow, bugle, blow, set tlie wild echoes flying. 
And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying. 



* There sinks the nebulous star we call the Sun, 
If that hypothesis of theirs bo sound ' 
Said Ida ; ' let us down and rest ; ' and we 
Down from the lean and wrinkled precipices, 
By every coppice-feather*d chasm and cleft, 
Dropt thro' the ambrosial gloom to where below 
No bigger than o glow-worm shone the tent 
Lamp-lit from the inner. Once she lean'd on me, 
Descending ; once or twice she lent her hand, 
And blissful palpitations in the blood, 
Stirring a sudden transport rose and fell. 

But when we planted level feet, and dipt 
Beneath the satin dome and entered in, 
There leaning deep in broider'd doTvn we sank 
Our elbows : on a tripod in the midst 


A fragrant flame rose, and before us glow*d 
Fruit, blossom, viand, amber wine, and gold. 

Then she * Let some one sing to ns : lightlier move 
The minutes fledged with music : ' and a maid, 
Of those beside her, smote her harp, and sang. 

" Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean, 
Tears from the depth of some divine despair 
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes, 
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields, 
And thinking of the days that are no more. 

*' Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail, 
That brings our friends up from the underworld, 
Sad as the last which reddens over one 
That sinks with all we love below the verge ; 
So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more. 

'' Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns 
The earliest pipe of half-awaken'd birds 
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes 



The casement slowly grows a glimmering square ; 
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more. 

'' Dear as remembered kisses after death. 
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned 
On lips that are for others ; deep as love, 
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret ; 
Death in Life, the days that are no more.*' 

She ended with such passion that the tear. 
She sang of, shook and fell, an erring pearl 
Lost in her bosom : but with some disdain 
Answer'd the Princess * If indeed there haunt 
About the moulder*d lodges of the Past 
So sweet a voice and vague, fatal to men. 
Well needs it we should cram our ears with wool 
And so pace by : but thine are fancies hatched 
In silken-folded idleness ; nor is it 
Wiser to weep a true occasion lost. 
But trim our sails, and let old bygones be, 
AMiile down the streams that float us each and all 
To the issue, goes, like glittering bergs of ice, 


Throne after throne, and molten on the waste 
Becomes a cloud : for all things serve their time 
Toward that great year of equal mights and rights, 
Nor would I fight with iron laws, in the end 
Found golden : let the past be past ; let be 
Their cancelFd Babels : tho' the rough kex break 
The starred mosaic, and the wild goat hang 
Upon the shaft, and the wild figtree split 
Their monstrous idols, care not while we hear 
A trumpet in the distance pealing news 
Of better, and Hope, a poising eagle, bums 
Above the unrisen morrow : ' then to me ; 
* Know you no song of your own land,' she said, 
' Not such as moans about the retrospect. 
But deals with the other distance and the hues 
Of promise ; not a death's-head at the wine.' 

Then I remember'd one myself had made, 
What time I watch'd the swallow winging south 
From mine own land, part made long since, and part 
Now while I sang, and maidenlike as far 
As I could ape their treble, did I sing. 

M 2 

TEZ ?iiy:z^^ 

• U >Ti_:T. >t4^:t. Itih^, ^tit^ >:=::-^ 

« _ * « 

FIv :o "i-rr, AT.! li^ -p:r. r.-fr zi^I't^i €ATe5- 
And U:Ii her, \kZ L-er. wL*: I tcll lo ihee. 

* O t*^II her. SwaKow, thoa ihat knowes: each, 
ThAt bright acd fierce and fickle is the Soatb, 
And dark acd true and tender is the North. 

' O Swallow, Swallow, if I could follow, and light 
Upon her lattice, I would pipe and trill. 
And cheep and twitter twenty million lores. 

' O were I thon that she might take me in. 
And lay me on her bosom, and her heart 
Would rock the snowy cradle till I died. 

* Why lingereth she to clothe her heart with love. 
Delaying as the tender ash delays 
To clothe herself, when all the woods are green ? 

* tell her, Swallow, that thy brood is flown 
Say to her, I do but wanton in the South, 


But in the North long since my nest is made. 

* tell her, brief is life but love is long, 
And brief the sun of sunmier in the North, 
And brief the moon of beauty in the South. 

* Swallow, flying from the golden woods, 
Fly to her, and pipe and woo her, and make her mine. 
And tell her, tell her, that I follow thee.' 

I ceased, and all the ladies, each at each. 
Like the Ithacensian suitors in old time. 
Stared with great eyes, and laugh'd with alien lips. 
And knew not what they meant ; for still my voice 
Bang false : but smiling ' Not for thee,' she said, 
' Bulbul, any rose of Gulistan 
Shall burst her veil : marsh-divers, rather, maid. 
Shall croak thee sister, or the meadow-crake 
Grate her harsh kindred in the grass : and this 
A mere love-poem ! for such, my friend, 
We hold them slight : they mind us of the time 
When we made bricks in Egypt. Knaves are men, 


Tbat lute and flute fantastic tenderness, 

And dress the victim to the oflfering up, 

And paint the gates of Hell with Paradise, 

And play the slave to gain the tyranny. 

Poor soul ! I had a maid of honour once ; 

She wept her true eyes blind for such a one, 

A rogue of canzonets and serenades. 

I loved her. Peace be with her. She is dead. 

So they blaspheme the muse ! But great is song 

Used to great ends : ourself have often tried 

Valkyrian hjmns, or into rhythm have dash'd 

The passion of the prophetess ; for song 

Is duer unto freedom, force and growth 

Of spirit than to junketing and love. 

Love is it ? Would this same mock-love, and this 

Mock-Hymen were laid up like winter bats. 

Till all men grew to rate us at our worth. 

Not vassals to be beat, nor pretty babes 

To be dandled, no, but living wills, and sphered 

Whole in ourselves and owed to none. Enough ! 

But now to leaven play with profit, you, 

Know you no song, the true growth of your soil. 


That gives the manners of your countrywomen ? ' 

She spoke and torn'd her sumptuous head with eyes 
Of shining expectation fixt on mine. 
Then while I dragg'd my brains for such a song, 
Cyril, with whom the bell-mouth'd flask had wrought, 
Or mastered by the sense of sport, began 
To troll a careless, careless tavern-catch 
Of Moll and Meg, and strange experiences 
Unmeet for ladies. Florian nodded at him, 
I frowning ; Psyche flushed and wann'd and shook ; 
The lilylike Melissa droop*d her brows ; 
* Forbear ' the Princess cried ; * Forbear, Sir ' I ; 
And heated thro* and thro' with wrath and love, 
I smote him on the breast ; he started up ; 
There rose a shriek as of a city sack'd ; 
Melissa claipour'd * Flee the death ; ' ' To horse ' 
Said Ida ; ' home ! to horse ! ' and fled, as flies 
A troop of snowy doves athwart the dusk, 
When some one batters at the dovecote-doors, 
Disorderly the women. Alone I stood 
With Florian, cursing Cyril, vext at heart, 


In the pavilion : there Uke pEtrting hopes 

I heard them pasBing from me : hoof by hoof, 

And everjr boof a knell to mj desires, 


Clanged on the bridge ; and then another shriek, 

' The Head, the Head, the Princess, the Head ! * 

For blind with rage she miss*d the plank, and roll'd 

In the river. Out I sprang from glow to gloom : 

There whirFd her white robe like a blossomed branch 

Rapt to the horrible fiedl : a glance I gave. 

No more ; but woman-vested as I was 

Plunged ; and the flood drew ; yet I caught her ; then 

Oaring one arm, and bearing in my left 

The weight of all the hopes of half the world, 

Strove to bufifet to land in vain. A tree 

Was half-disrooted from his place and stoop'd 

To drench his dark locks in the gurgling wave 

Mid-channel. Right on this we drove and caught, 

And grasping down the boughs I gain*d the shore. 

There stood her maidens glimmeringly grouped 
In the hollow bank. One reaching forward drew 
My burthen from mine arms ; they cried * she lives ! ' 
They bore her back into the tent : but I, 
So much a kind of shame within me wrought. 
Not yet endured to meet her opening eyes. 


Nor found my frieudtt ; but push'd alone on foot 
(For Bince her liorBO waa lost I left her mine) 
AcroHH the woods, and less from Indian craft 


Than beelike instinct hiveward, found at lenp^tli 
The garden portals. Two great statues, Art 
And Science, Caryatids, lifted up 
A weight of emblem, and betwixt were valves 
Of open-work in which the hunter rued 
His rash intrusion, manlike, but his brows 
Had sprouted, and the branches thereupon 
Spread out at top, and grimly spiked the gates. 

A little space was left between the horns. 
Thro' which I clamber'd o'er at top with pain, 
Dropt on the sward, and up the linden walks, 
And, tost on thoughts that changed from hue to hue. 
Now poring on the glowworm, now the star, 
I paced the terrace, till the bear had wheel'd 
Thro' a great arc his seven slow suns. 

A step 
Of lightest echo, then a loftier form 
Than female, moving thro' the uncertain gloom, 
Disturb'd me with the doubt * if this were she.' 
But it was Florian. ' Hist hist,' he said, 
' They seek us : out so late is out of rules. 


Moreover " seize the Rtraii|;er8" is the cry. 
How come you here ? ' I told him : ' I ' said he, 
' Last of the train, a moral leper, I, 


To whom none spake, half-sick at heart, retum'd. 

Arriving all confused among the rest 

With hooded brows I crept into the hall, 

And, couch'd behind a Judith, underneath 

The head of Holofemes peep'd and saw. 

Girl after girl was call'd to trial : each 

Disclaimed all knowledge of us : last of all 

Melissa : trust me. Sir, I pitied her. 

She, questioned if she knew us men, at first 

Was silent ; closer prest, denied it not : 

And then, demanded if her mother knew. 

Or Psyche, she affirm'd not, or denied : 

From whence the Boyal mind, familiar with her. 

Easily gather'd either guilt. She sent 

For Psyche, but she was not there ; she call'd 

For Psyche's child to cast it from the doors ; 

She sent for Blanche to accuse her face to face ; 

And I slipt out : but whither will you now ? 

And where are Psyche, Cyril ? both are fled : 

What, if together ? that were not so well. 

Would rather we had never come ! I dread 

His wildness, and the chances of the dark.* 


* And yet,' I said, * you wrong him more than I 

That Btrnck him : this is proper to the clown, 

Tho' smock'd, or furr'd and purpled, still the clown, 

To harm the thing that trusts him, and to shame 

That which he says he loves : for Cyril, however 

He deal in frolic, as to-night — ^the song 

Might have been worse and sinn*d in grosser lips 

Beyond all pardon — as it is, I hold 

These flashes on the surface are not he. 

He has a solid base of temperament : 

But as the waterlily starts and slides 

Upon the level in little pufifs of wind, 

Tho' anchor'd to the bottom, such is he.' 

Scarce had I ceased when from a tamarisk near 
Two Proctors leapt upon us, crying, * Names : ' 
He, standing still, was clutch'd ; but I began 
To thrid the musky-circled mazes, wind 
And double in and out the boles, and race 
By all the fountains : fleet I was of foot : 
Before me shower'd the rose in flakes ; behind 
I heard the pufTd pursuer ; at mine ear 


Bubbled the nightingale and heeded not. 

And secret laughter tickled all my soul. 

At last I hook'd my ancle in a vine, 

That claspt the feet of a Mnemosyne, 

And falling on my face was caught and known. 

They haled us to the Princess where she sat 

High in the hall : above her droop'd a lamp, 
And made the single jewel on her brow 

Bum like the mystic fire on a mast-head. 

Prophet of storm : a handmaid on each side 

Bow'd toward her, combing out her long black hair 

Damp from the river ; and close behind her stood 

Eight daughters of the plough, stronger than men, 

Huge women blowzed with health, and wind, and rain. 

And labour. Each was like a Druid rock ; 

Or like a spire of land that stands apart 

Cleft from the main, and wail*d about with mews. 

Then, as wo came, the crowd dividing clove 
An advent to the throne ; and therebeside. 
Half-naked as if caught at once from bed 


And tumbled on the purple footcloth, lay 
The lily-shining child ; and on the left, 
Bow'd on her palms and folded up from wrong, 
Her round white shoulder shaken with her sobs, 
Melissa knelt ; but Lady Blanche erect 
Stood up and spake, an affluent orator. 

' It was not thus, Princess, in old days : 
You prized my counsel, lived upon my lips : 
I led you then to all the Castalies ; 
I fed you with the milk of every Muse ; 
I loved you like this kneeler, and you me 
Your second mother : those were gracious times. 
Then came your new friend : you began to change — 
I saw it and grieved — ^to slacken and to cool ; 
Till taken with her seeming openness 
You tum*d your warmer currents all to her. 
To me you froze : this was my meed for all. 
Yet I bore up in part from ancient love. 
And partly that I hoped to win you back. 
And partly conscious of my own deserts. 
And partly that you were my civil head, 

And chiefly you were bom for something great, 

Id which I might your fellow-worker be. 

When time shonld eerre ; and thus a nohle scheme 


Grew up from seed we two long since had sown ; 

In us true growth, in her a Jonah's gourd, 

Up in one night and due to sudden sun : 

We took this palace ; but even from the first 

You stood in your own light and darkened mine. 

What student came but that you planed her path 

To Lady Psyche, younger, not so wise, 

A foreigner, and I your countrywoman, 

I your old friend and tried, she new in aU ? 

But still her lists were swell'd and mine were lean ; 

Yet I bore up in hope she would be known : 

Then came these wolves : they knew her : they endured, 

Long-closeted with her the yestermom, 

To tell her what they were, and she to hear : 

And me none told : not less to an eve like mine, 

A lidless watcher of the public weal. 

Last night, their mask was patent, and my foot 

Was to you : but I thought again : I fear*d 

To meet a cold " We thank you, we shall hear of it 

From Ladv Psvche : '* you had gone to her. 

She told, perforce ; and winning easy grace. 

No doubt, for sliirht delay, remam'd anion j: us 


In our young nursery still unknown, the stem 

Less grain than touchwood, while my honest heat 

Were all miscounted as malignant haste 

.To push my rival out of place and power. 

But public use required she should be known ; 

And since my oath was ta'en for public use, 

I broke the letter of it to keep the sense. 

I spoke not then at first, but watch'd them well. 

Saw that they kept apart, no mischief done ; 

And yet this day (tho* you should hate me for it) 

I came to tell you ; found that you had gone, 

Ridd'n to the hills, she likewise : now, I thought. 

That surely she will speak ; if not, then I : 

Did she ? These monsters blazon'd what they were, 

According to the coarseness of their kind. 

For thus I hear ; and known at last (my work) 

And full of cowardice and guilty shame, 

I grant in her some sense of shame, she flies ; 

And I remain on whom to wreak your rage, 

I, that have lent my life to build up yours, 

I that have wasted here health, wealth, and time, 

And talents, I — ^you know it — I will not boast : 

u 2 


Dismiss me, and I prophesy your plan, 
Divorced from my experience, will be chaff 
For every gust of chance, and men will say 
We did not know the real light, but chased 
The wisp that flickers where no foot can tread.' 

She ceased : the Princess answered coldly * Good 
Your oath is broken : we dismiss you : go. 
For this lost lamb (she pointed to the child) 
Our mind is changed : we take it to ourselves,* 

Thereat the Lady stretch'd a vulture throat, 

And shot from crooked lips a haggard smile. 

' The plan was mine. I built the nest ' she said 

' To hatch the cuckoo. Rise ! * and stoop*d to updrag 

Melissa : she, half on her mother propt, 

Half-drooping from her, turn'd her face, and cast 

A liquid look on Ida, full of prayer. 

Which melted Florian's fancy as she hung, 

A Niobean daughter, one arm out, 

Appealing to the bolts of Heaven ; and while 
We gazed upon her came a little stir 

A MEDLEY. 101 

About the doors, and on a sudden rush'd 

Among uSy out of breath, as one pursued, 

A woman-post in flying raiment. Fear 

Stared in her eyes, and chalk'd her face, and wing'd 

Her transit to the throne, whereby she fell 

Delivering seal'd dispatches which the Head 

Took half-amazed, and in her lion*s mood 

Tore open, silent we with blind surmise 

Regarding, while she read, till over brow 

And cheek and bosom brake the wrathful bloom 

As of some fire against a stormy cloud. 

When the wild peasant rights himself, the rick 

Flames, and his anger reddens in the heavens ; 

For anger most it seem*d, while now her breast. 

Beaten with some great passion at her heart, 

Palpitated, her hand shook, and we heard 

In the dead hush the papers that she held 

Bustle : at once the lost lamb at her feet 

Sent out a bitter bleating for its dam ; 

The plaintive cry jarr'd on her ire ; she crushed 

The scrolls together, made a sudden turn 

As if to speak, but, utterance failing her. 


She whirrd them on to me, as who should say 
* Read * and I read — ^two letters — one her sire's. 

* Fair daughter, when we sent the Prince your way 
We knew not your ungracious laws, which learnt, 
We, conscious of what temper you are built, 
Came all in haste to hinder wrong, but fell 
Into his father's hands, who has this night, 
You lying close upon his territory, 
Slipt round and in the dark invested you, 
And here he keeps me hostage for his son.' 

The second was my father's running thus : 
* You have our son : touch not a hair of his head : 
Bender him up unscathed : give him your hand : 
Cleave to your contract : tho' indeed we hear 
You hold the woman is the better man ; 
A rampant heresy, such as if it spread 
Would make all women kick against their Lords 
Thro' all the world, and which might well deserve 
That we this night should pluck your palace down ; 
And we will do it, unless you send us back 

A MEDLEY. 103 

Oar son, on the instant, whole.* 

So far I read ; 
And then stood up and spoke impetuously. 

* not to pry and peer on your reserve, 
But led by golden wishes, and a hope 
The child of regal compact, did I break 
Your precinct ; not a scomer of your sex 
But venerator, zealous it should be 
All that it might be : hear me, for I bear, 
Tho' man, yet human, whatsoe'er your wrongs, 
From the flaxen curl to the gray lock a life 
Less mine than yours : my nurse would tell me of you ; 
I babbled for you, as babies for the moon. 
Vague brightness ; when a boy, you stoop'd to me 
From all high places, lived in all fair lights. 
Came in long breezes rapt from inmost south 
And blown to inmost north ; at eve and dawn 
With Ida, Ida, Ida, rang the woods ; 
The leader wildswan in among the stars 
Would clang it, and lapt in wreaths of glowworm light 
The meUow breaker murmur'd Ida. Now, 


Because I would have reach'd you, had you been 
Sphered up with Cassiopeia, or the enthroned 
Persephone in Hades, now at length, 
Those winters of abeyance all worn out, 
A man I came to see you : but, indeed, 
Not in this frequence can I lend fall tongue, 

noble Ida, to those thoughts that wait 
On you, their centre : let me say but this, 
That many a famous man and woman, town 
And landskip, have I heard of, after seen 

The dwarfs of presage ; tho' when known, there grew 
Another kind of beauty in detail 
Made them worth knowing ; but in you I found 
My boyish dream involved and dazzled down 
And mastered, while that after-beauty makes 
Such head from act to act, from hour to hour. 
Within me, that except you slay me here, 
According to your bitter statute-book, 

1 cannot cease to follow you, as they say 
The seal does music ; who desire you more 
Than growing boys their manhood ; dying lips. 
With many thousand matters left to do, 





A MBDLEY. 105 

The breath of life ; more than poor men wealth, 

Than sick men health — ^yours, yours, not mine — ^but half 

Without you ; with you, whole ; and of those halves 

You worthiest ; and howe'er you block and bar 

Your heart with system out from mine, I hold 

That it becomes no man to nurse despair, 

But in the teeth of clenched antagonisms 

To follow up the worthiest till he die : 

Yet that I came not all unauthorized 

Behold your father's letter.' 

On one knee 
Kneeling, I gave it, which she caught, and dash'd 
Unopen'd at her feet : a tide of fierce 
Invectiye seem'd to wait behind her lips, 
As waits a river level with the dam 
Ready to burst and flood the world with foam : 
And so she would have spoken, but there rose 
A hubbub in the court of half the maids 
Gathered together : from the illumined hall 
Long lanes of splendour slanted o'er a press 
Of snowy shoulders, thick as herded ewes, 
And rainbow robes, and gems and gemlike eyes. 


And gold and golden heads ; they to and fro 

Fluctuated, as flowers in storm, some red, some pale, 

All open-mouth'd, all gazing to the light. 

Some crying there was an army in the land. 

And some that men were in the very walls, 

And some they cared not ; till a clamour grew 

As of a new-world Babel, woman-built. 

And worse-confounded : high above them stood 

The placid marble Muses, looking peace. 

Not peace she looked, the Head : but rising up 
Bobed in the long night of her deep hair, so 
To the open window moved, remaining there 
Fixt like a beacon-tower above the waves 
Of tempest, when the crimson-rolling eye 
Glares ruin, and the wild birds on the light 
Dash themselves dead. She stretched her arms and call'd 
Across the tumult and the tumult fell. 

* What fear ye brawlers ? am not I your Head ? 
On me, me, me, the storm first breaks : / dare 
All these male thunderbolts : what is it ye fear ? 

A MEDLET. 107 

Peace ! there are those to avenge us and they come : 
If not, — myself were like enough, girls. 
To unfurl the maiden banner of our rights, 
And clad in iron burst the ranks of war. 
Or, falling, protomartyr of our cause. 
Die : yet I blame ye not so much for fear ; 
Six thousand years of fear have made ye that 
From which I would redeem ye : but for those 
That stir this hubbub — ^you and you— I know 
Your faces there in the crowd — to-morrow morn 
We hold a great convention : then shall they 
That love their voices more than duty, learn 
With whom they deal, dismissed in shame to live 
No wiser than their mothers, household 8tu£f, 
Live chattels, mincers of each other's fame, 
Full of weak poison, turnspits for the clown. 
The drunkard's football, laughing-stocks of Time, 
Whose brains are in their hands and in their heels, 
But fit to flaunt, to dress, to dance, to thrum. 
To tramp, to scream, to burnish, and to scour, 
For ever slaves at home and fools abroad.' 

p 2 


She, ending, waved her hands : thereat the crowd 
Muttering, dissolved : then with a smile, that look'd 
A stroke of cruel sunshine on the clifif. 
When all the glens are drown'd in azure gloom 
Of thunder-shower, she floated to us and said : 

' You have done well and like a gentleman, 
And like a prince : you have our thanks for all : 
And you look well too in your woman's dress : 
Well have you done and like a gentleman. 
You saved our life : we owe you hitter thanks : 
Better have died and spilt our bones in the flood — 
Then men had said — ^but now — ^What hinders me 
To take such bloody vengeance on you both ? — 
Yet since our father — Wasps in our good hive. 
You would-be quenchers of the light to be. 
Barbarians, grosser than your native bears — 
would I had his sceptre for one hour ! 
You that have dared to break our bound, and gull*d 
Our servants, wrong'd and lied and thwarted us — 
/ wed with thee ! / bound by precontract 
Your bride, your bondslave ! not tho' all the gold 

A KBDLEY. 109 

That veins the world were packed to make your crown, 

And every spoken tongue should lord you. Sir, 

Your falsehood and yourself are hateful to us : 

I trample on your offers and on you : 

Begone : we will not look upon you more. 

Here, push them out at gates.' 

In wrath she spake. 

Then those eight mighty daughters of the plough 

Bent their broad faces toward us and addressed 

Their motion : twice I sought to plead my cause, 

But on my shoulder hung their heavy hands, 

The weight of destiny : so from her face 

They push'd us, down the steps, and thro' the court. 

And with grim laughter thrust us out at gates. 

We cross'd the street and gain'd a petty mound 
Beyond it, whence we saw the lights and heard 
The voices murmuring. While I listen'd, came 
On a sudden the weird seizure and the doubt : 
I seem'd to move among a world of ghosts ; 
The Princess with her monstrous woman-guard, 
The jest and earnest working side by side. 


She, ending, waved her hands : thereat the crowd 
Muttering, disBolved : then with a smile, that look'd 
A stroke of cruel sunshine on the cliflF, 
When all the glens are drown'd in azure gloom 
Of thunder-shower, she floated to us and said : 

' You have done well and like a gentleman, 
And like a prince : you have our thanks for all : 
And you look well too in your woman's dress : 
Well haye you done and like a gentleman. 
You saved our life : we owe you bitter thanks : 
Better have died and spilt our bones in the flood — 
Then men had said — but now — ^What hinders me 
To take such bloody vengeance on you both ? — 
Yet since our father — Wasps in our good hive. 
You would-be quenchers of the light to be. 
Barbarians, grosser than your native bears — 

would I had his sceptre for one hour ! 

You that have dared to break our bound, and gull'd 
Our servants, wrong'd and lied and thwarted us — 

1 wed with thee ! I bound by precontract 

Your bride, your bondslave ! not tho* all the gold 



A MEDLEY. 109 

That Yeins the world were pack'd to make your crown, 

And every spoken tongue should lord you. Sir, 

Your falsehood and yourself are hateful to us : 

I trample on your offers and on you : 

Begone : we will not look upon you more. 

Here, push them out at gates.' 

In wrath she spake. 

Then those eight mighty daughters of the plough 

Bent their broad faces toward us and address'd 

Their motion : twice I sought to plead my cause, 

But on my shoulder hung their heavy hands, 

The weight of destiny : so from her face 

They push'd us, down the steps, and thro' the court, 

And with grim laughter thrust us out at gates. 

We cross'd the street and gain'd a petty mound 
Beyond it, whence we saw the lights and heard 
The voices murmuring. While I listen'd, came 
On a sudden the weird seizure and the doubt : 
I seem'd to move among a world of ghosts ; 
The Princess with her monstrous woman-guard. 
The jest and earnest working side by side. 


The raillery, or grotesque, or false sablime — 
Like one that wishes at a dance to change 
The music — clapt her hands and cried for war, 
Or some grand fight to kill and make an end : 
And he that next inherited the tale 
Half turning to the broken statue, said, 

* Sir Balph has got your colours : if I prove 
Your knight, and fight your battle, what for me ? * 
It chanced, her empty glove upon the tomb 

Lay by her like a model of her hand. 

She took it and she flung it. ' Fight ' she said, 

* And make us all we would be, great and good.* 
He knightlike in his cap instead of casque, 

A cap of Tyrol borrowed from the hall, 
Arranged the favour, and assumed the Prince. 

A MEDLEY. 118 


Now, scarce three paces measured firom the mound, 
We stumbled on a stationary voice, 
And ' Stand, who goes ? ' ' Two from the palace ' I. 
' The second two : they wait,' he said, ' pass on ; 
EUs Highness wakes : ' and one, that clash'd in arms, 
By glimmering lanes and walls of canvas, led 
Threading the soldier-city, till we heard 
The drowsy folds of our great ensign shake 
From blazon'd lions o'er the imperial tent 
Whispers of war. 

Entering, the sudden light 
Dazed me half-blind : I stood and seem'd to hear. 
As in a poplar grove when a light wind wakes 
A lisping of the innumerous leaf and dies. 
Each hissing in his neighbour's ear ; and then 
A strangled titter, out of which there brake 


On all sides, clamouring etiquette to death 
Unmeasured mirth ; while now the two old kings 
Began to wag their baldness up and down, 
The fresh young captains flashed their glittering teeth ^ 
The huge bush-bearded Barons heaved and blew, 
And slain with laughter roll'd the gilded Squire. 

At length my Sire, his rough cheek wet with tears. 
Panted from weary sides * King, you are free ! 
We did but keep you surety for our son. 
If this be he, — or a draggled mawkin, thou, 
That tends her bristled grunters in the sludge : ' 
For I was drench'd with ooze, and torn with briers. 
More crumpled than a poppy from the sheath, 
And all one rag, disprinced from head to heel. 
Then some one sent beneath his vaulted palm 
A whispered jest to some one near him * Look, 
He has been among his shadows.' * Satan take 
The old women and their shadows ! (thus the King 
Soared) make yourself a man to fight with men. 
Go : Cyril told us all.* 

As boys that slink 

A MEDLEY. 115 

From ferule and the trespass-chiding eye, 
Away we stole, and transient in a trice 
From what was left of faded woman-slough 
To sheathing splendours and the golden scale 
Of harness, issued in the sun, that now 
Leapt from the dewy shoulders of the Earth, 
And hit the northern hills. Here Cyril met us, 
A little shy at first, but by and by 
We twain, with mutual pardon ask'd and giyen 
For stroke and song, resolder*d peace, whereon 
Followed his tale. Amazed he fled away 
Thro' the dark land, and later in the night 
Had come on Psyche weeping : ' then we fell 
Into your fathcr*s hand, and there she lies. 
But will not speak, nor stir.* 

He show'd a tent 
A stone-shot off: we enter'd in, and there 
Among piled arms and rough accoutrements. 
Pitiful sight, wrapped in a soldier*s cloak. 
Like some sweet sculpture draped from head to foot, 
And pushed by rude hands from its pedestal. 
All her fair length upon the ground she lay : 

Q 2 


She, ending, waved her hands : thereat the crowd 
Muttering, dissolved : then with a snule, that look'd 
A stroke of cruel sunshine on the cliff, 
When all the glens are drown'd in azure gloom 
Of thunder-shower, she floated to us and said : 

' You have done well and like a gentleman. 
And like a prince : you have our thanks for all : 
And you look well too in your woman's dress : 
Well have you done and like a gentleman. 
You saved our life : we owe you bitter thanks : 
Better have died and spUt our bones in the flood — 
Then men had said — but now — ^What hinders me 
To take such bloody vengeance on you both ? — 
Yet since our father — Wasps in our good hive, 
You would-be quenchers of the light to be, 
Barbarians, grosser than your native bears — 

would I had his sceptre for one hour ! 

You that have dared to break our bound, and gull'd 
Our servants, wrong'd and lied and thwarted us — 

1 wed with thee ! / bound by precontract 

Your bride, your bondslave ! not tho' all the gold 

A MEDLEY. 109 

That veins the world were pack'd to make your crown, 

And every spoken tongne should lord you. Sir, 

Your falsehood and yourself are hateful to us : 

I trample on your offers and on you : 

Begone : we will not look upon you more. 

Here, push them out at gates.' 

In wrath she spake. 

Then those eight mighty daughters of the plough 

Bent their broad faces toward us and addressed 

Their motion : twice I sought to plead my cause. 

But on my shoulder hung their heavy hands, 

The weight of destiny : so from her face 

They push'd us, down the steps, and thro' the court, 

And with grim laughter thrust us out at gates. 

We cross'd the street and gain'd a petty mound 
Beyond it, whence we saw the lights and heard 
The voices murmuring. While I listened, came 
On a sudden the weird seizure and the doubt : 
I seem'd to move among a world of ghosts ; 
The Princess with her monstrous woman-guard, 
The jest and earnest working side by side. 


For DOW will cruel Ida keep her back ; 

And either she will die from want of care. 

Or sicken with ill usage, when they say 

The child is hers — for every little fault, 

The child is hers ; and they will beat my girl 

Remembering her mother : my flower ! 

Or they will take her, they will make her hard. 

And she will pass me by in after-life 

With some cold reverence worse than were she dead. 

Ill mother that I was to leave her there. 

To lag behind, scared by the cry they made, 

The horror of the shame among them all : 

But I will go and sit beside the doors. 

And make a wild petition night and day, 

Until they hate to hear me like a wind 

Wailing for ever, till they open to me. 

And lay my little blossom at my feet. 

My babe, my sweet Aglal'a, my one child : 

And I will take her up and go my way. 

And satisfy my soul with kissing her : 

Ah ! what might that man not deserve of mc, 

Who gave me back my child ?' * Be comforted ' 

A MEDLEY. . 119 

Said Cyril * you shall have it : ' but again 
She veil'd her brows, and prone she sank, and so 
Like tender things that being caught feign death, 
Spoke not, nor stirr'd. 

By this a murmur ran 
Thro' all the camp and inward raced the scouts 
With rumour of Prince Arac hard at hand. 
We left her by the woman, and without 
Found the gray kings at parle : and ' Look you' cried 
My father ' that our compact be fulfilled : 
You have spoilt this child ; she laughs at you and man : 
She wrongs herself, her sex, and me, and him : 
But red-faced war has rods of steel and fire ; 
She yields, or war.* 

Then Gama tum'd to me : 
' We fear, indeed, you spent a stormy time 
With our strange girl : and yet they say that still 
You love her. Give us, then, your mind at large : 
How say you, war or not?' 

* Not war, if possible, 
king,' I said, ' lest from the abuse of war. 
The desecrated shrine, the trampled year. 


The smoiildermg homestead, and the household flower 

Tom from the lintel — ^all the common wrong — 

A smoke go up thro' which I loom to her 

Three times a monster : now she lightens scorn 

At him that mars her plan, hat then would hate 

(And every voice she talk*d with ratify it. 

And every face she look'd on justify it) 

The general foe. More soluble is this knot. 

By gentleness than war. I want her love. 

What were I nigher this altho' we dash'd 

Your cities into shards with catapults. 

She would not love ; — or brought her chain'd, a slave. 

The lifting of whose eyelash is my lord, 

Not ever would she love ; but brooding turn 

The book of scorn, till all my little chance 

Were caught within the record of her wrongs, 

And crush'd to death : and rather. Sire, than this 

I would the old God of war himself were dead. 

Forgotten, rusting on his iron hills, 

Botting on some wild shore with ribs of wreck. 

Or like an old-world mammoth bulk*d in ice. 

Not to be molten out.' 

A MBDLBY. 121 

And roaghly spake 
My father, * Tat, yoa know them not, the girls. 
Boy, when I hear yoa prate I almost think 
That idiot legend credible. Look you. Sir ! 
Man is the hanter ; woman is his game : 
The sleek and shining creatures of the chase. 
We hunt them for the beauty of their skins ; 
They love us for it, and we ride them down. 
Wheedling and siding with them ! Out ! for shame ! 
Boy, there's no rose that's half so dear to them 
As he that does the thing they dare not do, 
Breathing and sounding beauteous battle, comes 
With the air of the trumpet round him, and leaps in 
Among the women, snares them by the score 
Flatter'd and fluster*d, wins, tho' dash*d with death 
He reddens what he kisses : thus I won 
Your mother, a good mother, a good wife, 
Worth winning ; but this firebrand — gentleness 
To such as her ! if Cyril spake her true. 
To catch a dragon in a cherry net, 
To trip a tigress with a gossamer. 
Were wisdom to it.* 


* Yea but Sire/ I cried, 
' Wild natures need wise curbs. The soldier ? No 
What dares not Ida do that she should prize 
The soldier ? I beheld her, when she rose 
The yesternight, and storming in extremes 
Stood for her cause, and flung defiance down 
Gagelike to man, and had not shunn'd the death, 
No, not the soldier's : yet I hold her, king. 
True woman : but you clash them all in one. 
That have as many differences as we. 
The violet varies from the lily as far 
As oak from elm : one loves the soldier, one 
The silken priest of peace, one this, one that, 
And some unworthily ; their sinless faith, 
A maiden moon that sparkles on a sty, 
Glorifying clown and satyr ; whence they need 
More breadth of culture : is not Ida right ? 
They worth it ? truer to the law within ? 
Severer in the logic of a life ? 
Twice as magnetic to sweet influences 
Of earth and heaven ? and she of whom you speak, 
My mother, looks as whole as some serene 

A MBDLET. 123 

Creation minted in the golden moods 
Of sovereign artists ; not a thoaght, a toach, 
Bat pure as lines of green that streak the white 
Of the first snowdrop's inner leaves ; I say, 
Not like the piebald miscellany, man, 
Bursts of great heart and slips in sensual mire, 
But whole and one : and take them all-in-all. 
Were we ourselves but half as good, as kind, 
As truthful, much that Ida claims as right 
Had ne'er been mooted, but as frankly theirs 
As dues of Nature. To our point : not war : 
Lest I lose all.' 

' Nay, nay, you spake but sense ' 
Said Oama. ' We remember love ourselves 
In our sweet youth ; we did not rate him then 
This red-hot iron to be shaped with blows. 
You talk almost like Ida : she can talk ; 
And there is something in it as you say : 
But you talk kindlier : we esteem you for it. — 
He seems a gracious and a gallant Prince, 
I would he had our daughter : for the rest. 
Our own detention, why, the causes weigh'd. 

124 THB FB1NCB3S ; 

Fatherly fears — ^yoa ased ub courteously — 

We would do much to gratify your Prince — 

We pardon it ; and for your ingress here 

Upon the skirt and fringe of our fEiir land, 

You did bat come as goblins in the night. 

Nor in the furrow broke the ploughman's head. 

Nor burnt the grange, nor buss'd the milHng-maid, 

Kor robb'd the &rmer of his bowl of cream : 

But let your Prince {our royal word upon it. 

He comes back safe) ride with ub to our lines, 

And speak with Arac : Arac's word is thrice 

As ours with Ida ; something may be done — 

I know not what — and ours shall aee na friends. 

You, likewise, our late guestB, if so you will, 

oUow ua : who knows ? we four may buUd some plan 

I'oursquare to opposition.' 

Here he reach'd 

^"^ l^^ds of farewell to my sire, who gT.>wrd 

•^-^-er which, half-muffled in his beard, 
^t so much out » 

""■ »a gave us leave to go. 

A MEDLEY. 125 

Beneath huge trees, a thousand rings of Spring 

In every bole, a song on every spray 

Of birds that piped their Valentines, and woke 

Desire in me to infuse my tale of love 

In the old king's ears, who promised help, and oozed 

All o'er with honey'd answer as we rode ; 

And blossom-fragrant slipt the heavy dews 

Gather*d by night and peace, with each light air 

On our mail'd heads : but other thoughts than Peace 

Burnt in us, when we saw the embattled squares. 

And squadrons of the Prince, trampling the flowers 

With clamour : for among them rose a cry 

As if to greet the king ; they made a halt ; 

The horses yell'd ; they clash'd their arms ; the drum 

Beat ; merrily-blowing shrill'd the martial fife ; 

And in the blast and bray of the long horn 

And serpent-throated bugle, undulated 

The banner : anon to meet us lightly pranced 

Three captains out ; nor ever had I seen 

Such thews of men : the midmost and the highest 

Was Arac : all about his motion clung 

The shadow of his sister, as the beam 


Of the East, that play'd upon them, made them glance 

Like those three stars of the aiiy Giant's zone, 

That glitter bomish'd by the firosty dark ; 

And as the fiery Sirias alters hue. 

And bickers into red and emerald, shone 

Their morions, wash'd with morning, as they came. 

And I that prated peace, when first I heard 
War-masic, felt the blind wildbeast of force, 
Whose home is in the sinews of a man. 
Stir in me as to strike : then took the king 
His three broad sons ; with now a wandering hand 
And now a pointed finger, told them all : 
A common light of smiles at oar disgoise 
Broke from their lips, and, ere the windy jest 
Had laboar*d down within his ample lungs, 
The genial giant, Arac, roU'd himself 
Thrice in the saddle, then burst out in words. 

' Our land invaded, 'sdeath ! and he himself 
Your captive, yet my father wills not war : 
And, 'sdoath ! myself, what care I, war or no ? 

A MBDLEY. 127 

Bnt then this question of your troth remains : 
And there's a downright honest meaning in her ; 
She flies too high, she flies too high ! and yet 
She ask'd bnt space and fairplay for her scheme ; 
She prest and prest it on me— I myself, 
What know I of these things ? bat, life and sonl ! 
I thought her half-right talking of her wrongs ; 
I say she flies too high, *sdeath ! what of that ? 
I take her for the flower of womankind. 
And so I often told her, right or wrong, 
And, Prince, she can be sweet to those she loves. 
And, right or wrong, I care not : this is all, 
I stand upon her side : she made me swear it — 
'Sdeath — and with solenm rites by candle-light — 
Swear by St. something — ^I forget her name — 
Her that talk'd down the fifty wisest men ; 
She was a princess too ; and so I swore. 
Come, this is all ; she will not : waive your claim : 
If not, the foughten field, what else, at once 
Decides it, 'sdeath ! against my father's will.' 

I lagg'd in answer loth to render up 


My precontract, and loth by brainless war 

To cleave the rift of difference deeper yet ; 

Till one of those two brothers, half aside 

And fingering at the hair about his lip. 

To prick us on to combat * Like to like ! 

The woman's garment hid the woman's heart.' 

A taunt that clench'd his purpose like a blow ! 

For fiery-short was Cyril's counter-scoff, 

And sharp I answer'd,. touch'd upon the point 

Where idle boys are cowards to their shame, 

* Decide it here : why not ? we are three to three.' 

Then spake the third ' But three to three ? no more ? 
No more, and in our noble sister's cause ? 
More, more, for honour : every captain waits 
Hungry for honour, angry for his king. 
More, more, some fifty on a side, that each 
May breathe himself, and quick ! by overthrow 
Of these or those, the question settled die.' 

* Yea' answer'd I * for this wild wreath of air. 
This flake of rainbow flying on the highest 

A MEDLBT. 129 

Foam of men^s deeds — this honour, if ye will. 
It needs must be for honour if at all : 
Since, what decision ? if we fail, we fail. 
And if we win, we fail : she would not keep 
Her compact.' * 'Sdeath ! but we will send to her,' 
Said Arac, ' worthy reasons why she should 
Bide by this issue : let our missive thro'. 
And you shall have her answer by the word.' 

* Boys I ' shrieked the old king, but vainlier than a hen 
To her false daughters in the pool ; for none 
Begarded ; neither seem'd there more to say : 
Back rode we to my father's camp, and found 
He thrice had sent a herald to the gates. 
To learn if Ida yet would cede our claim. 
Or by denial flush her babbling wells 
With her own people's life : three times he went : 
The first, he blew and blew, but none appear'd : 
He batter'd at the doors ; none came : the next. 
An awful voice within had wam'd him thence : 
The third, and those eight daughters of the plough 
Came sallying thro' the gates, and caught his hair. 



And 80 belaboor'd him on rib and cheek 

They made him wild : not less one glance he caught 

Thro' open doors of Ida 8tation*d there 

Unshaken, clinging to her purpose, firm 

Tho' compass'd by two armies and the noise 

Of arms ; and standing like a stately Pine 

Set in a cataract on an island-crag. 

When storm is on the heights, and right and left 

Suck'd from the dark heart of the long hills roll 

The torrents, dash*d to the vale : and yet her will 

Bred will in me to overcome it or fall. 

But when I told the king that I was pledged 
To fight in tourney for my bride, he clash'd 
His iron palms together with a cry ; 
Himself would tilt it out among the lads : 
But overborne by aU his bearded lords 
With reasons drawn from age and state, perforce 
Ho yielded, wroth and red, with fierce demur : 
And many a bold knight started up in heat, 
And sware to combat for my claim till death. 

A MEDLEY. 181 

All on this side the palace ran the field 
Flat to the garden- wall : and likewise here. 
Above the garden's glowing blossom-belts, 
A column'd entry shone and marble stairs, 
And great bronze valves, emboss'd with Tomyris 
And what she did to Cyrus after fight^ 
But now fast barr'd : so here upon the flat 
All that long mom the lists were hammer'd up, 
And all that mom the heralds to and fro. 
With message and defiance, went and came ; 
Last, Ida's answer, in a royal hand. 
But shaken here and there, and rolling words 
Oration-like. I kiss'd it and I read. 

* brother, you have known the pangs we felt, 
What heats of indignation when we heard 
Of those that iron-cramp'd their women's feet ; 
Of lands in which at the altar the poor bride 
Oives her harsh groom for bridal-gift a scourge ; 
Of living hearts that crack within the fire 
Where smoulder their dead despots ; and of those,- 
Mothers, — ^that, all prophetic pity, fling 


Their pretty maids in the running flood, and swoops 

The Yultore, beak and talon, at the heart 

Made for all noble motion : and I saw 

That equal baseness lived in sleeker times 

With smoother men : the old leaven leaven'd all : 

Millions of throats would bawl for civil rights, 

No woman named : therefore I set my face 

Against all men, and lived but for mine own. 

Far off from men I built a fold for them : 

I stored it full of rich memorial : 

I fenced it round with gallant institutes. 

And biting laws to scare the beasts of prey. 

And prosper'd ; till a rout of saucy boys 

Brake on us at our books, and marr'd our peace, 

Mask'd like our maids, blustering I know not what 

Of insolence and love, some pretext held 

Of baby troth, invalid, since my will 

Seal'd not the bond — the striplings ! — ^for their sport ! 

I tamed my leopards : shall I not tame these ? 

Or you ? or I ? for since you think me touched 

In honour — what, I would not aught of falsi 

Is not our cause pure ? and whereas I know 

A MBDLEY. 188 

Yonr prowess, Arac, and what mother's blood 

You draw from, fight ; you failing, I abide 

What end soever : fail you will not. Still 

Take not his life : he risk'd it for my own ; 

His mother lives : yet whatsoe'er you do, 

Fight and fight well ; strike and strike home. dear 

Brothers, the woman's Angel guards you, you 

The sole men to be mingled with our cause. 
The sole men we shall prize in the after-time. 

Your very armour hallow'd, and your statues 

Bear'd, sung to, when this gad-fly brush'd aside. 

We plant a solid foot into the Time, 

And mould a generation strong to move 

With claim on claim firom right to right, till she 

Whose name is yoked with children's, know herself; 

And Knowledge in our own land make her free. 

And, ever following those two crowned twins. 

Commerce and conquest, shower the fiery grain 

Of freedom broadcast over all that orbs 

Between the Northern and the Southern mom.' 

Then came a postscript dash'd across the rest. 


' See that there be no traitors in your camp : 

We seem a nest of traitors — none to trast 

Since our arms fail'd — ^this Egypt-plague of men ! 

Ahnost our maids were better at their homes. 

Than thus man-girdled here : indeed I think 

Our chiefest comfort is the little child 

Of one unworthy mother ; which she left : 

She shall not have it back : the child shall grow 

To prize the authentic mother of her mind. 

I took it for an hour in mine own bed 

This morning : there the tender orphan hands 

Felt at my heart, and seem*d to charm from thence 

The wrath I nursed against the world : farewell.' 

I ceased ; he said : ' Stubborn, but she may sit 
Upon a king's right hand in thunder-storms, 
And breed up warriors ! See now, tho' yourself 
Be dazzled by the wildfire Love to sloughs 
That swallow common sense, the spindling king. 
This Gama swamp'd in lazy tolerance. 
When the man wants weight, the woman takes it up. 
And topples down the scales ; but this is fixt 

A MRDLKY. 135 

As are the roots of earth and base of all ; 
Man for the field and woman for the hearth : 
Man for the sword and for the needle she : 
Man with the head and woman with the heart : 
Man to command and woman to obey ; 
All else confusion. Look you ! the gray mare 
Is ill to Uve with, when her whinny shrills 
From tile to scullery, and her small goodman 
Shrinks in his arm-chair while the fires of Hell 
Mix with his hearth : but you — she 's yet a colt — 

Take, break her : strongly groom'd and straitly curb'd 

She might not rank with those detestable 

That let the bantling scald at home, and brawl 

Their rights or wrongs like potherbs in the street. 

They say she's comely; there's the fairer chance : 

I like her none the less for rating at her ! 

Besides, the woman wed is not as we, 

But suffers change of frame. A lusty brace 

Of twins may weed her of her folly. Boy, 

The bearing and the training of a child 

Is woman's wisdom.' 

Thus the hard old king : 


I took my leaye, for it was nearly noon : 

I pored npon her letter which I held, 

And on the little clause ' take not his life : * 

I mused on that wild morning in the woodSy 

And on the * Follow, follow, thou shalt win : * 

I thought on all the wrathful king had said. 

And how the strange betrothment was to end : 

Then I remember'd that burnt sorcerer's curse 

That one should fight with shadows and should fiedl ; 

And like a flash the weird affection came : 

King, camp and college tum*d to hollow shows ; 

I seem'd to move in old memorial tilts. 

And doing battle with forgotten ghosts. 

To dream myself the shadow of a dream : 

And ere I woke it was the point of noon. 

The lists were ready. Empanoplied and plumed 

We enter'd in, and waited, fifty there 

Opposed to fifty, till the trumpet blared 

At the barrier like a wild horn in a land 

Of echoes, and a moment, and once more 

The trumpet, and again : at which the storm 

Of galloping hoofs bare on the ridge of spears 

A MEDLEY. 137 

And riders front to front, until they closed 

In conflict with the crash of shivering points, 

And thunder. Yet it seem'd a dream, I dream'd 

Of fighting. On his haunches rose the steed. 

And into fiery splinters leapt the lance, 

And out of stricken helmets sprang the fire. 

Part sat like rocks : part reel'd but kept their seats : 

Part rolled on the earth and rose again and drew : 

Part stumbled mixt with floundering horses. Down 

From those two bulks at Arac*s side, and down 

From Arac's arm, as from a giant's flail. 

The large blows rain'd, as here and everywhere 

He rode the mellay, lord of the ringing lists, 

And all the plain, — brand, mace, and shaft, and shield — 

Shocked, like an iron-clanging anvil bang*d 

With hammers ; till I thought, can this be he 

From Gama's dwarfish loins ? if this be so. 

The mother makes us most — and in my dream 

I glanced aside, and saw the palace-front 

Alive with fluttering scarfs and ladies' eyes. 

And highest, among the statues, statuelike. 

Between a cymbal'd Miriam and a Jael, 


With Psyche*s babe, was Ida watching us, 

A single band of gold about her hair, 

Like a Saint* s gloiy np in heaven : but she 

No saint — inexorable — no tenderness — 

Too hard, too croel : yet she sees me fight, 

Yea, let her see me faU ! with that I drave 

Among the thickest and bore down a Prince, 

And Cyril, one. Yea, let me make my dream 

All that I would. But that large-moulded man. 

His visage all agrin as at a wake, 

Made at me thro' the press, and, staggering back 

With stroke on stroke the horse and horseman, came 

As comes a pillar of electric cloud, 

Flaying the roofs and sucking up the drains. 

And shadowing*down the champain till it strikes 

On a wood, and takes, and breaks, and cracks, and splits. 

And twists the grain with such a roar that Earth 

Reels, and the herdsmen cry ; for everything 

Gave way before him : only Florian, he 

That loved me closer than his own right eye. 

Thrust in between ; but Arac rode him down : 

And Cyril seeing it, push'd against the Prince, 

With PHyche's colour round his helmet, tonfrh, 
Strong, supple, Binew-corded, apt at anns ; 
Bnt ton^her, heavier, stronger, he that smote 


And threw him : last I spurr'd ; I felt my yeins 
Stretch with fierce heat ; a moment hand to hand, 
And sword to sword, and horse to horse we hung, 
Till I struck out and shonted ; the blade glanced ; 
I did but shear a feather, and dream and truth 
Flowed from me ; darkness closed me ; and I fell. 

Hume they brought her warrior dend : 
She nor swoon'd, nor utter'd cry: 

All her maidens, watching, said, 
' She must weep or she will die' 

Then they praised him, soft and low, 
Call'd him worthy to be loved, 

Tmest friend and noblest foe ; 
Yet she neither spoke nor moved. 

Stole A maiden from her place. 
Lightly to the wanioc slept. 

Took the foce'cloth from the face ; 
Yet she neither moved nor wept. 


Rose a nurse of ninety years. 
Set his child upon her knee- 

Like summer tempest came her tears- 
* Sweet my child, I live for thee.' 



My dream had never died or lived again. 
As in some mystic middle state I lay ; 
Seeing I saw not, hearing not I heard : 
Tho\ if I saw not, yet they told me all 
So often that I speak as having seen. 

For so it seem'd, or so they said to me, 
That all things grew more tragic and more strange ; 
That when our side was vanquish*d and my cause 
For ever lost, there went up a great cry, 
The Prince is slain. My father heard and ran 
In on the lists, and there unlaced my casque 
And grovell'd on my body, and after him 
Came Psyche, sorrowing for Aglafo. 

But high upon the palace Ida stood 


JL.I r 1^^ — "■: rrr ^n. Z. kSLL ir*r 3i^ X T.:r*'TT-'^feL'~'eg 

L— -J. •*! 

A:,/l ^r-A;>^ it pla-k Ai.d fc^Am f^r roof and floor, 
Ahd Wa*^^ an'l hMu/^ for the use of men. 

Our <aMmii(JH huvo falFn, have falFn : they struck; 

A MEDLEY. 145 

With their own blows they hurt themselves, nor knew 
There dwelt an iron nature in the grain : 
The guttering axe was broken in their arms, 
Their arms were shattered to the shoulder blade. 

' Our enemies have fall'n, but this shall grow 
A night of Summer from the heat, a breadth 
Of Autumn, dropping fruits of power ; and roU'd 
With music in the growing breeze of Time, 
The tops shall strike from star to star, the fangs 

Shall move the stony bases of the world. 

' And now, maids, behold our banctuaiy 
Is violate, our laws broken : fear we not 
To break them more in their behoof, whose arms 
Ghampion'd our cause and won it with a day 
Blanch'd in our annals, and perpetual feast. 
When dames and heroines of the golden year 
Shall strip a hundred hollows bare of Spring, 
To rain an April of ovation round 
Their statues, borne aloft, the three : but come. 
We will be liberal, since our rights are won. 


Let them not lie in the tents with coarse mankind, 
HI nurses ; but descend, and proffer these 
The brethren of our blood and cause, that there 
Lie bruised and maim*d, the tender ministries 
Of female hands and hospitality.* 

She spoke, and with the babe yet in her arms, 
Descending, burst the great bronze yalyes, and led 
A hundred maids in train across the Park. 
Some cowFd, and some bare-headed, on they came, 
Their feet in flowers, her loyeliest : by them went 
The enamour'd air sighing, and on their curls 
From the high tree the blossom wavering fell. 
And over them the tremulous isles of light 
Slided, they moving under shade : but Blanche 
At distance followed : so they came : anon 
Thro' open field into the lists they wound 
Timorously ; and as the leader of the herd 

That holds a stately fretwork to the Sun, 
And followed up by a hundred airy does, 
Steps with a tender foot, light as on air. 
The lovely, lordly creature floated on 

A MEDLEY. 147 

To where her wounded brethren lay ; there stayed ; 

Knelt on one knee, — the child on one, — and prest 

Their hands, and calFd them dear deliverers, 

And happy warriors, and immortal names, 

And said ' You shall not lie in the tents but here. 

And nursed by those for whom you fought, and served 

With female hands and hospitality.' 

Then, whether moved by this, or was it chance, 
She past my way. Up started from my side 
The old lion, glaring with his whelpless eye, 
Silent ; but when she saw me lying stark, 
Dishelm*d and mute, and motionlessly pale, 
Cold ev*n to her, she sigh'd ; and when she saw 
The haggard father's face and reverend beard 
Of grisly twine, all dabbled with the blood 
Of his own son, shudder'd, a twitch of pain 
Tortured her mouth, and o'er her forehead past 
A shadow, and her hue changed, and she said : 
' He saved my life : my brother slew him for it' 
No more : at which the king in bitter scorn 
Drew from my neck the painting and the tress. 

u 2 


And held them up : she saw them, and a day 

Rose from the distance on her memory. 

When the good Qaeen, her mother, shore the tress 

With kisses, ere the days of Lady Bhmche : 

And then once more she look*d at my pale face : 

Till understanding all the foolish work 

Of Fancy, and the bitter close of all, 

Her iron will was broken in her mind ; 

Her noble heart was molten in her breast ; 

She bow'd, she set the child on the earth ; she laid 

A feeling finger on my brows, and presently 

' Sire,' she said, ' he lives : he is not dead : 

let me have him with my brethren here 

In our own palace : we will tend on him 

Like one of these ; if so, by any means, 

To lighten this great clog of thanks, that make 

Our progress falter to the woman's goal.' 

She said : but at the happy word ' he lives ' 
My father stoop'd, re-father'd o'er my wounds. 
So those two foes above my fallen life. 
With brow to brow like night and evening mixt 

Their dark and gray, while Psyche ever stole 
A little nearer, till the babe that by as, 


HalMapt in glowing gauze and golden brede. 

Lay like a new-fall'n meteor on the grass, 

Uucared for, spied its mother and began 

A blind and babbling laughter, and to dance 

Its body, and reach its fatling innocent arms 

And lazy lingering fingers. She the appeal 

Brook'd not, but clamouring out * Mine — mine — not yours. 

It is not yours, but mine : give me the child' 

Ceased all on tremble : piteous was the cry : 

So stood the unhappy mother open-mouth'd, 

And turned each face her way : wan was her cheek 

With hollow watch, her blooming mantle torn, 

Red grief and mother's hunger in her eye. 

And down dead-heavy sank her curls, and half 

The sacred mother's bosom, panting, burst 

The laces toward her babe ; but she nor cared 

Nor knew it, clamouring on, till Ida heard, 

Look'd up, and rising slowly from me, stood 

Erect and silent, striking with her glance 

The mother, me, the child ; but he that lay 

Beside us, Cyril, batter'd as he was, 

Traird himself up on one knee : then he drew 

A MEDLEY. 151 

Her robe to meet his lips, and down she look'd 

At the arm'd man sideways, pitying, as it seem'd. 

Or self-inyolved ; but when she learnt his face, 

Remembering his iU-omen'd song, arose 

Once more thro' all her height, and o'er him grew 

Tall as a figure lengthen'd on the sand 

When the tide ebbs in sunshine, and he said : 

' fair and strong and terrible ! Lioness 
That with your long locks play the Lion's mane ! 
But Love and Nature, these are two more terrible 
And stronger. See, your foot is on our necks, 
We yanquish'd, you the Victor of your will. 
What would you more ? give her the child ! remain 
Orb'd in your isolation : he is dead, 
Or all as dead : henceforth we let you be : 
Win you the hearts of women ; and beware 
Lest, where you seek the common love of these. 
The common hate with the reyolving wheel 
Should drag you down, and some great Nemesis 
Break from a darken'd future, crown'd with fire, 
And tread you out for ever : but howsoe'er 


■»- Ji»« 

rr r :XT 

J* j^: 

2 A ji.T?v 2^7 "iJ 3e 71'. n<* aKW*ii 

Htqi IDS JJUTl THflll Iff Itf H lUw 

A MEDLEY. 153 

We two mnst part : and yet how fain was I 
To dream thy cause embraced in mine^ to think 
I might be something to thee, when I felt 
Thy helpless warmth about my barren breast 
In the dead prime : but may thy mother prove 
As true to thee as false, false, false to me ! 
And, if thou needs must bear the yoke, I wish it 
Gentle as freedom ' — ^here she kiss'd it : then — 
' All good go with thee ! take it Sir ' and so 
Laid the soft babe in his hard-mailed hands, 
Who tum'd half-round to Psyche as she sprang 
To meet it, with an eye that swum in thanks ; 
Then felt it sound and whole from head to foot. 
And hugg'd and never hugg'd it close enough. 
And in her hunger mouth'd and mumbled it, 
And hid her bosom with it ; after that 
Put on more calm and added suppliantly ; 

* We two were friends : I go to mine own land 
For ever : find some other : as for me 
I scarce am fit for your great plans : yet speak to mo. 
Say one soft word and let me part forgiven.* 


'■^ _^__ •-» _.— 


- -* -ZLz' Ir T" J. ir-l. rr* 

'r- " t* Xi»^ ^ -— - 

.- a-*-»* 

>: I 

2«:1 T-r i- * X:: one word; 

A MKDLKY. 155 

No ! tbo' yonr father snes : see bow you stand 

Stiff as Lot's wife, and all the good knights maim*d, 

I trust that there is no one hurt to death, 

For your wild whim : and was it then for this, 

Was it for this we gave our palace up, 

Where we withdrew from summer heats and state, 

And had our wine and chess beneath the planes. 

And many a pleasant hour with her that's gone. 

Ere you were bom to vex us ? Is it kind ? . 

Speak to her I say : is this not she of whom, 

When first she came, all flushed you said to me 

Now had you got a friend of your own age. 

Now could you share your thought ; now should men see 

Two women faster welded in one love 

Than pairs of wedlock ; she you walk'd with, she 

You talk*d with, whole nights long, up in the tower, 

Of sine and arc, spheroid and azimuth, 

And right ascension, Heaven knows what ; and now 

A word, but one, one little kindly word. 

Not one to spare her : out upon you, flint ! 

You love nor her, nor me, nor any ; nay, 

You shame your mother's judgement too. Not one ? 

Yx, wZI z.: ? wc3 — ni> heart have jou, or sneli 

Jl5 ^" *-'■=< like UM Tonin in a not 

Hi^ frti:^ aH u> d:i>t anJ bittoness.* 

>. svii tlr: >^..iT. kin* m-jTed bevond his wont. 

? i: I 1a ^•-..•.•i ZL .-r sjoke, drain'd of her force 
F T " i-T A vxn-lz^ iid-cnce and so lon^. 
r^:'rt Cr " Lr:* Iir:i':> a dnxiping languor wept : 
Kir 1-i.i % l::tir *:-:-; : anl on her month 
A i- ::' :f^ fr-.jg ixrl: like a cloaded moon 
In a >:l1I -ajkrcr: tit in Iraiktr oat my sire 
Lf:.::^ Ll> jrlzi rt^i fr."*Ei iht wounds. ' O von, 
V". niin. ^ w^c il-Tijl: woman even now, 
Aiu: ^.rv lil: :\^l\i u l^: v^'U t^-nd our son, 
Ixviu-^*: Ix* i;i:^l: Iay^ wisli'd it — l»iit we see 
n.o avXMv.'l::^* vf v,ur ni-iuiitss unfonriven, 
Ar.xl :I.:v.k :l.i: \ . u ni:_:lt mix his draught with death, 
NV*ur» Av^ur skit 5 *^e i-r.*ia : the rou<jher hand 
U ^^tVr: ou u* ;l.t tturs: t^kv up the Prince/ 

Ho \v^v\ ,>ir.a tv\.> i^ivh oar %vas prick'd to attend 
V K twjvs.^ o.^,' f;;^x ol.^ud thAt dimm'd her broke 

A MEDLEY. 157 

A genial warmth and light once more, and shone 
Thro' glittering drops on her sad friend. 

' Come hither, 

Psyche/ she cried oat, ' embrace me, come^ 
Quick while I melt ; make reconcilement sure 
With one that cannot keep her mind an hour : 
Gome to the hollow heart they slander so ! 
Kiss and be friends, like children being chid ! 
/ seem no more : / want forgiveness too : 

1 should have had to do with none but maids. 
That have no links with men. Ah false but dear, 
Dear traitor, too much loved, why ? — ^why ? — ^Yet see, 
Before these kings we embrace you yet once more 
With all forgiveness, all oblivion. 

And trust, not love, you less. 

And now, Sire, 
Grant me your son, to nurse, to wait upon him. 
Like mine own brother. For my debt to him. 
This nightmare weight of gratitude, I know it ; 
Taunt me no more : yourself and yours shall have 
Free adit ; we will scatter all our maids 
Till happier times each to her proper hearth : 


What use to keep them here now ? gmnt niv prayer. 

Help, father, brother, help ; speak to the king : 

Thaw this male nature to some touch of that 

Which kills me with myself, and drags me down 

From mj fixt height to mob me up with all 

The soft and milky rabble of womankind. 

Poor weakling ey'n as they are/ 

Passionate tears 

FoUow'd : the king replied not : Cyril said : 

* Your brother, Lady, — Florian, — ask for him 
Of your great head — for he is wounded too — 
That you may tend upon him with the prince.' 

* Ay so,* said Ida with a bitter smile, 

* Our laws are broken : let him enter too/ 
Then Violet, she that sang the mournful song. 
And had a cousin tumbled on the plain. 
Petitioned too for him. * Ay so,' she said, 

* I statgger in the stream : I cannot keep 
My hoart an eddy from the brawling hour : 
Wo Uit>iik our laws with ease, but let it be.' 

* A^Y 5^^ ?* ^d Blanche : ' Amazed am I to hear 
Wmr UiVhnoss: but vour Highness breaks with ease 

A MRDLKY. 159 

The law your Highness did not make : 'twas I. 
I had been wedded wife, I knew mankind, 
And blocked them oat ; but these men came to woo 
Your Highness — ^verily I think to win.' 

So she, and tum'd askance a wintry eye : 
But Ida with a voice, that like a bell 
ToU'd by an earthquake in a trembling tower, 
Bang ruin, answer'd full of grief and scorn. 

' Fling our doors wide ! all, all, not one, but all, 
Not only he, but by my mother's soul. 
Whatever man lies wounded, friend or foe, 
Shall enter, if he will. Let our girls flit, 
Till the storm die ! but had you stood by us. 
The roar that breaks the Pharos from his base 
Had left us rock. She fain would sting us too, 
But shall not. Pass, and mingle with your likes. 
We brook no further insult but are gone.' 

She turn'd ; the very nape of her white neck 
Was rosed with indignation : but the Prince 

Brt InMltm^ cmiatr : ih^ kmg her 
E-r »..Tizidcrd *..&-■ will wt.nfc: m 

>-.jwl.; to ti* drtars : to them the < 
or.*:.:!.;. »id in the Vft5t»J entfr shriet'd 
Tirf Tirrir tt'- ^ > nuder £iod heeJs : 
.t i ..:: U.-.T mc.v*^ «,d p»il.-d the lull, «id there 
I:,<.-3 : 1=1 trrwt tLff «TOsh »«s. "d egch base, 
T.. «ft »Ld rk-hi. of tbos« tall eolonms drowu'd 
In silkts C^rtcation mod the swarm 
of r,E;»k whispeitre: st the farther end 
Wis 1^ tv the throce, the two great cats 
Cl.-?r 1-T her. like snpporters od m shield, 
B^.w-limf k'd with fear : but in the centre stood 
The ci'immoD men with rollliig eyes ; amawa 
Tbej glared apoD the women, and aghast 
The women stared at these, all silent, save 
When aimonr clash'd or jingled, while the dav, 
IVseending. stmck athwart the hall, and shot 
A flving splendour ont of brass and steel, 

A MEDLEY. 161 

That o'er the statues leapt from head to head, 

Now fired an angry Pallas on the helm, 

Now set a wrathful Dian's moon on flame, 

And now and then an teho started up, 

And shuddering fled from room to room, and died 

Of fright in far apartments. 

Then the voice 
Of Ida sounded, issuing ordinance : 
And me they bore up the broad stairs, and thro* 
The long-laid galleries past a hundred doors 
To one deep chamber shut from sound, and due 
To languid limbs and sickness ; left me in it ; 
And others otherwhere they laid ; and all 
That afternoon a sound arose of hoof 
And chariot, many a maiden passing home 
Till happier times ; but some were left of those 
Held sagest, and the great lords out and in, 
From those two hosts that lay beside the walls, 
Walk'd at their will, and eyerything was changed. 

THK P11>._-ESS ; 

Ask me no more : the moon ma; draw the sea ; 
The clond nuj- stoop Erom heaven and tnke the shape- 
With fold lo fold, of mooDluu or of cape : 

Bnt O too fond, when hare I anawer'd thee ? 

Ask me no more : what answer should I give ? 
I love not hollow cheek or faded eye : 
Yot, my &4end, I will not have thee die ! 

Auk me no more, lest I shonld bid thee live : 
Aak me no more. 



Ask me no more : thy fate and mine are seal'd 
I strove against the stream and all in vain : 
Let the great river take me to the main : 

No more, dear love, for at a touch I yield ; 
Ask me no more. 




Y 2 



So was their sanctuary violated. 

So their fair college turned to hospital ; 

At first with aU confusion : by and bje 

Sweet order lived again with other laws : 

A kindlier influence reign'd ; and eTeiywhere 

Low voices with the ministering hand 

Hung round the sick : the maidens came, they talk'd, 

They sang, they read : till she not fair, began 

To g&ther light, and she that was, became 

Hor former beauty treble ; and to and fix) 

AVi:h Kvks, with flowers, with Angel offices, 

l.iKe crx^tun^ native unto gracious act, 

AuJ iu Uioir own clear element, they moved. 

^^u '^ 5-0^ v\n the soul of Ida fell, • • 
^^^^ ^^:txsI of h,.,. wt^^ess. Went with shame. 
"*•• xt : s^eKUun she spoke ; but oft 

A MBDLBY. 165 

Clomb to the roofs, and gazed alone for hours 
On that disastrous leaguer, swarms of men 
Darkening her female field : Toid was her use ; 
And she as one that climbs a peak to gaze 
0*er land and main, and sees a great black cloud 
Drag inward from the deeps, a wall of night. 
Blot out the slope of sea from verge to shore. 
And suck the blinding splendour from the sand, 
And quenching lake by lake and tarn by tarn 
Expunge the world : so fared she gazing there ; 
So blacken'd all her world in secret, blank 
And waste it seem'd and vain ; till down she came, 
And found fair peace once more among the sick. 

And twilight dawn*d ; and mom by mom the lark 
Shot up and shrill'd in flickering gyres, but I 
Lay silent in the muffled cage of life : 
And twilight gloom*d ; and broader-grown the bowers 
Drew the great night into themselves, and Heaven, 
Star after star, arose and fell ; but I, 
Deeper than those weird doubts could reach me, lay 
Quite 8under*d from the moving Universe, 

:m thk 


Xor knew what ere wms on me, nor the hand 
That nursed me« more than in&nts in their sleep. 

But PsTche tended Fk»ian : with her oft 


Melissa eame ; for Blanche had gone, hnt left 

Her child among ns, willing she shoold keep 

Coiut-CiToar : here and there the small hrigfat head, 

A light of healing, glanced about the eonch. 

Or thro* the parted silks the tender fitee 

Peep*d, shining in npon the wounded man 

With blush and smile, a medicine in themselres 

To wile the length from languorous hours, and draw 

The sting from pain ; nor seem*d it strange that soon 

He rose up whole, and those fiur charities 

Joined at her side ; nor stranger seem'd that hearts 

So gentle, so enipIov*d, should dose in Ioto, 

Than when two dewdrops on the petal shake 

To the same sweet air, and tremble deeper down, 

And slip at once all^fragrant into one. 

Less prosperously the second suit obtained 
^ first with Psvehe. Not tho* Blanche had sworn 

A MBDLKT. 167 

That after that dark night among the fields, 
She needs mnst wed him for her own good name ; 
Not tho* he bnilt npon the babe restored ; 
Nor tho' she liked him, yielded she, but fear*d 
To incense the Head once more ; till on a day 
When Cyril pleaded, Ida came behind 
Seen but of Psyche : on her foot she hung 
A moment, and she heard, at which her face 
A little flush'd, and she past on ; but each 
Assumed from thence a half-consent involved 
In stillness, plighted troth, and were at peace. 

Nor only these : Love in the sacred halls 
Held carnival at will, and flying struck 
With showers of random sweet on maid and man. 
Nor did her father cease to press my claim, 
Nor did mine own now reconciled ; nor yet 
Did those twin brothers, risen again and whole ; 
Nor Arac, satiate with his victory. 

But I lay still, and with me oft she sat : 
Then came a change ; for sometimes I would catch 


Her hand in wild delirium, gripe it hard. 

And fling it like a viper off, and shriek 

' You are not Ida ; ' clasp it once again. 

And call her Ida, tho* I knew her not. 

And call her sweet, as if in irony. 

And call her hard and cold which seem'd a trath : 

And still she fear*d that I should lose my mind. 

And often she believed that I should die : 

Till out of long frustration of her care. 

And pensive tendance in the all-weary noons. 

And watches in the dead, the dark, when clocks 

Throbb'd thunder thro' the palace floors, or call*d 

On flying Time from all their silver tongues — 

And out of memories of her kindlier days. 

And sidelong glances at my father^s grief, 

And at the happy lovers heart in heart — 

And out of hauntings of my spoken love. 

And lonely listenings to my mutter'd dream, 

And often feeling of the helpless hands, 

And wordless broodings on the wasted cheek — 

Vvonx all a closer interest flourished up, 

TondoruoHH touch by touch, and last, to these, 

A MEDLEY. 169 

Love, like an Alpine harebell hung with tears 
By some cold morning glacier ; frail at first 
And feeble, all onconscious of itself, 
But such as gathered colour day by day. 

Last I woke sane, but well-nigh close to death 
For weakness : it was evening : silent light 
Slept on the painted walls, wherein were wrought 
Two grand designs ; for on one side arose 
The women up in wild revolt, and storm*d 
At the Oppian law. Titanic shapes, they cramm*d 
The forum, and half-crush'd among the rest 
A dwarflike Cato cower'd. On the other side 
Hortensia spoke against the tax ; behind, 
A train of dames : by axe and eagle sat. 
With all their foreheads drawn in Roman scowls, 
And half the wolf's-milk curdled in their veins, 
The fierce triumvirs ; and before them paused 
Hortensia, pleading : angry was her face. 

I saw the forms : I knew not where I was : 
They did but look like hollow shows ; nor more 

ITii THE PRIXCft?8; 

Sweet Ida : palm to palm she sat : the dew 

Dwelt in her eyes, and softer all her shape 

And rounder seem'd : I moved : I sighed : a tonch 

Came round mj wrist, and tears upon mj hand : 

Then all for Unguor and self-pity ran 

Mine down mj bee, and with what life I had. 

And like a flower that cannot aU unfold. 

So drench'd it is with tempest, to the sun. 

Yet, as it may, turns toward him, I on her 

Fixt my faint eyes, and uttered whisperingly : 

* If you be, what I think you, some sweet dream, 
I would but ask you to fulfil yourself: 
But if you l^ that Ida whom I knew, 
I a<k you nothinir : only, if a dream, 
Swtxt drvam, be perfect. I shall die to-night. 
Stvx^p vlv»wn and set-m to kiss me ere I die.* 

1 vvuM no niv^r^, but lay like one in trance, 
V:\i: i-vcir> lii< burial talk'd of by his friends, 
Vvxl v\ivr,o; sivoik. tv^r move, nor make one sign, 
H ;; '.\vx Ava arxcids h > .Kvm. She tum'd ; she paused : 

A MEDLEY. 171 

She stoop'd ; and out of languor leapt a cry ; 
Leapt fiery Passion from the brinks of death ; 
And I believed that in the living world 
My spirit closed with Ida's at the lips ; 
Till back I fell, and from mine arms she rose 
Glowing all over noble shame ; and all 
Her falser self slipt from her like a robe, 
And left her woman, lovelier in her mood 
Than in her mould that other, when she came 
From barren deeps to conquer all with love ; 
And down the streaming crystal dropt ; and she 
Far-fleeted by the purple island-sides, 
Naked, a double light in air and wave. 
To meet her Graces, where they deck'd her out 
For worship without end ; nor end of mine. 
Stateliest, for thee ! but mute she glided forth, 
Nor glanced behind her, and I sank and slept, 
Fill'd thro' and thro' with Love, a happy sleep. 

Deep in the night I woke : she, near me, held 
A volume of the Poets of her land : 
There to herself, all in low tones, she read. 

% 2 

en V 

L--^ ■•"•t-i "0.1' HH- 

?^ ▼ -il ]t^ list sZi-:ir Skt'S^^r 'c;, mud 

Ai.i -L;« ii-V ilir Ki>.'Ti. of iLe hkke : 
S- f . i il j?iclf. CT denTPSt, thoo. and slip 
I:.v> C-T l>:»*-c»m and l»e lost in me.' 

I lii'ard ber tnm the page ; she found a small 
Hw<u*t Idyl, and once more, as low, she read : 


' Come down, maid, from yonder mountain heigh' 
What pleasure lives in height (the shepherd sang) 
In height and cold, the splendour of the hills ? 


Bot eemae to more so oetr the Heavens, and 
To glide a sunbeam by the blasted Pine, 
To sit m star apon the sparkling spire; 
And come, for Lore is of the ndley, come 
For Lore is of the TmUev, oome then down 
And find him ; by the happy threshold, he, 
Or hand in hand with Plenty in the maiae, 
Or red with spirited purple of the raU, 
Or foxlike in the Tine ; nor cares to walk 
With Death and Morning on the silrer horns, 
Nor wilt thon snare him in the white ravine, 
Nor find him dropt upon the firths of ice, 
That huddling slant in furrow-cloTeu Ms 
To roll the torrent out of dusky doors : 
But follow ; let the torrent dance thee doini 
To find him in the valley ; lei the wild 
Lean-headed Eagles yelp alone, and leave 
The monstrous ledges there to slope, «xii spill 
Their thousand wreaths of dangling water-sffl^*^' 
That like a broken purpose waste in air : 
So waste not thou ; but come ; for ail the vales 
Await thee ; azure pillars of the hearth 

A MEDLEY. 175 

Arise to thee ; the children call, and I 
Thy shepherd pipe, and sweet is every soand, 
Sweeter thy voice, hut every soand is sweet ; 
Myriads of rivulets hurrying thro* the lawn. 
The moan of doves in immemorial elms, 
And murmuring of innumerable bees.' 

So she low-toned ; while with shut eyes I lay 
Listening ; then look'd. Pale was the perfect face : 
The bosom with long sighs laboured ; and meek 
Seem'd the full lips, and mild the luminous eyes, 
And the voice trembled and the hand. She said 
Brokenly, that she knew it, she had faiPd 
In sweet humility ; had fail'd in all ; 
That all her labour was but as a block 
Left in the quarry ; but she still were loth, 
She still were loth to yield herself to one, 
That wholly scom*d to help their equal rights 
Against the sons of men, and barbarous laws. 
She pray*d me not to judge their cause from her 
That wrong'd it, sought far less for truth than power 
In knowledge : something wild within her breast. 

A MEDLEY. 177 

The woman's cause is man's : they rise or sink 

Together, dwarf' d or godlike, hond or free : 

For she that out of Lethe scales with man 

The shining steps of Nature, shares with man 

His nights, his days, moves with him to one goal, 

Stays all the fair young planet in her hands — 

If she be small, slight-natured, miserable, 

How shall men grow ? but work no more alone ! 

Our place is much : as far as in us lies 

"We two will serve them both in aiding her — 

Will clear away the parasitic forms 

That seem to keep her up but drag her down — 

Will leave her space to burgeon out of all 

Within her — let her make herself her own 

To give or keep, to live and learn and be 

All that not harms distinctive womanhood. 

For woman is not undevelopt man. 

But diverse : could we make her as the man. 

Sweet Love were slain : his dearest bond is this, 

Not like to like, but like in difference. 

Yet in the long years liker must they grow ; 

The man be more of woman, she of man ; 

A A 

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A MBDLBY. 179 

Nor equal, nor onequal : each fulfils 

Defect in each, and always thought in thought, 

Purpose in purpose, will in will, they grow, 

The single pure and perfect animal, 

The two-cell'd heart beating, with one full stroke. 


And again sighing she spoke : ' A dream 
That once was mine ' what woman taught you this V 

' Alone' I said ' from earlier than I know. 
Immersed in rich foreshadowings of the world, 
I loved the woman : he, that doth not, lives 
A drowning life, besotted in sweet self. 
Or pines in sad experience worse than death. 
Or keeps his wing'd affections cUpt with crime : 
Yet was there one thro' whom I loved her, one 
Not learned, save in gracious household ways, 
Not perfect, nay, but full of tender wants, 
No Angel, but a dearer being, aU dipt 
In Angel instincts, breathing Paradise, 
Interpreter between the Gods and men. 
Who look'd all native to her place, and yet 


A MEDLEY. 181 

<leed I love : the new day comes, the light 
liarer for night, as dearer thoa for faults 
^ived over: lift thine eyes ; my doubts are dead, 
My haunting sense of hollow shows : the change, 
Tliis truthful change in thee has kill*d it. Dear, 
Look up, and let thy nature strike on mine, 
Like yonder morning on the blind half-world ; 
Approach and fear not ; breathe upon my brows ; 
In that fine air I tremble, all the past 
Melts xoist-like into this bright hour, and this 
Is mom to more, and all the rich to-come 


ICbels, as the golden Autumn woodland reels 
'Athwart the smoke of burning weeds. Forgive me, 
I waste my heart in signs : let be. My bride. 
My wife, my life. we will walk this world. 
Yoked in all exercise of noble end. 
And so thro' those dark gates across the wild 
That no man knows. Indeed I love thee : come. 
Yield thyself up : my hopes and thine are one : 
Accomplish thou my manhood and thyself ; 
Lay thy sweet hands in mine and trust to me.* 


-J^^ :€ ^iiiri: I jrfi^ tv= aH 

Tlitrr*: sftziii % ZL^^ic's 7«^se« azhI Wfther said* 
* I vise. s£ie Lfei rx Tielisd ! * then to me. 

if T c ircsi r: ^p *wv-"^^*Tx- • 

tm^. . -^j:: c? 

Tt« b:v ;^ :^i ibe seani^'d srheme of sexen 
Tjotil-rr ii: cue sbetf ? What strle eoold suit ? 
Tbe 2ier re-^-iired liaU I should gn« throu^oat 
Tzmz sen cf Ejc^k-herok gigmntesqne, 
Wlih vti.^h wt iMnter'd Cttle LOim fiisl : 
Tbe v^j'-Den — And poliaps thev felt their power, 
For so^netLing in the hdlmds which thej sang. 
Or in th^ir silent inflnenee ms they sat, 
^^^^ erer seemed to wrestle with burlesque. 

And drove qb, last, to quite s solemn doBe — 

They hated banter, vish'd for flomethtng real, 

A gallant fight, a noble princess — why 

Not make her tme-heroic — tme-sablime ? 

Or all, the; said, as earnest as the close ? 

Wliich yet with such a framework scarce conld be. 

Then rose a little fend betwixt the two, 

Betwixt the mockers and the realists : 

And I, betwixt them both, to please them both. 

And yet to give the stoty as it rose, 

I moved as in a strange diagonal, 

And maybe neither pleased myself nor them. 

Bnt Lilia pleased me, for she took no part 
In oar dispate : the seqnel of the tale 
Had tooch'd her ; and she sat, she pinck'd the grass. 
She flung it &om her, thinking : last, she fixt 
A showery glance upon her aont, and said, 
' Yoa — ^tell as what we are ' who might have told. 
For she was cramm'd with theories ont of books, 
Dot that there rose a shout : the gates were closed 
At aanset, and the crowd were swarming now, 

1-4 TUB FtaXCE.^^ 

To take their I«ave, aboat the gmrdeo rails. 

So I and some went oat to these -. we climb'tl 
Tbtf slope to ViriaD-pIafe, and toraiiig sa,w 
The twppv TmlleT?. half in light, mud half 
Fsr-aludowiiig from the west, a land of peace : 
Gray halls alone among their massiTe glares : 
Trim hamlets ; here and there a mstic tower 
Half-lost in belts of hop and breadths of wheat ; 
The Bhimmering glimpses of a stream ; the seas ; 
A red sail, or a white ; and fiu- berond. 
Imagined more than seen, the skirts of Fiance. 

' Look there, a garden ! ' said my college frieod, 
The Tory member's elder son ' and there ! 
God bless the narrow sea which keeps her off. 
And keeps our Britain, whole within herself, 
A nation yet, the rnlera and the raled— 
Some sense of dnty, something of a faith. 
Some rererenoe for the laws oorselTes have made. 

A KEDLBY. 185 

!But yonder, whiff ! there comes a sudden heat, 
The gravest citizen seems to lose his head, 
The king is scared, the soldier will not fight, 
The little boys begin to shoot and stab, 
A kingdom topples over with a shriek 
Like an old woman, and down rolls the world 
In mock heroics stranger than our own ; 
Revolts, republics, revolutions, most 
No graver than a schoolboys' barring out ; 
Too comic for the solenm things they are. 
Too solenm for the comic touches in them, 
Like our wUd Princess with as wise a dream 
As some of theirs — God bless the narrow seas ! 
I wish they were a whole Atlantic broad.* 

' Have patience,' I replied, * ourselves are full 
Of social wrong ; and maybe wildest dreams 
Are but the needful preludes of the truth : 
For me, the genial day, the happy crowd. 
The sport half-science, fill me with a faith. 
This fine old world of ours is but a child 
Yet in the go-cart. Patience ! give it time 

B B 

Bejoiid the boam of suunet ; 0, a ahont 
More joj'ftil thau the city-roar that bails 


Premier or king ! VThy abould not these great Sirs 
Give ap their parks some dozen times a year 
To let the people breathe ? So thrice thej cried, 
I likewise, and in groups thej- stream 'd away. 

But we went back to the Abbey, sod sat on, 
So much the gathering darkness charm'd : we sat 
But g)K>ke not, rapt in nameless reverie. 
Perchance upon the future man : the Trails 
Blackeo'd about us, bats wheel'd, and owls whoop 'd. 
And gradually the powers of the night. 
That range above tho region of the wind. 
Deepening tho courts of twilight broke theui up 
Thro* all the silent spaces of the worlds. 
Beyond all thought into the Heaven of Heavens. 

Last httle Lilia, rising qoietly. 
Disrobed the glimmering statue of Sir Ralph