1829

 

SONNET TO SCIENCE

 
Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art!
     Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
Why preyest thou thus upon the poets heart,
    Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?
How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise,
     Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering
To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies,
     Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?
Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car,
     And driven the Hamadryad from the wood
To seek a shelter in some happier star?
     Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood,
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?

  

AL AARAAF


PART I
 

O! nothing earthly save the ray
(Thrown back from flowers) of Beautys eye,
As in those gardens where the day
Springs from the gems of Circassy
O! nothing earthly save the thrill
Of melody in woodland rill
Or (music of the passion‑hearted)
Joys voice so peacefully departed
That, like the murmur in the shell,
Its echo dwelleth and will dwell
Oh, nothing of the dross of ours
Yet all the beauty all the flowers
That list our Love, and deck our bowers
Adorn yon world afar, afar
The wandering star.

    ’T was a sweet time for Nesace for there
Her world lay lolling on the golden air,
Near four bright suns a temporary rest
An oasis in desert of the blest.
Away awaymid seas of rays that roll
Empyrean splendor oer thunchained soul
The soul that scarce (the billows are so dense)
Can struggle to its destind eminence
To distant spheres, from time to time, she rode,
And late to ours, the favord one of God
But, now, the ruler of an anchord realm,
She throws aside the sceptre leaves the helm,
And, amid incense and high spiritual hymns,
Laves in quadruple light her angel limbs.

    Now happiest, loveliest in yon lovely Earth,
Whence sprang the Idea of Beauty into birth
(Falling in wreaths thromany a startled star,
Like woman's hairmid pearls, until, afar,
It lit on hills Achaian, and there dwelt)
She lookd into Infinityand knelt.
Rich clouds, for canopies, about her curled
Fit emblems of the model of her world
Seen but in beautynot impeding sight
Of other beauty glittering thro the light
A wreath that twined each starry form around,
And all the opald air in color bound.

     All hurriedly she knelt upon a bed
Of flowers: of lilies such as reard the head
On the fair Capo Deucato, and sprang
So eagerly around about to hang
Upon the flying footsteps of deep pride
Of her who lovd a mortal and so died.
The Sephalica, budding with young bees,
Upreard its purple stem around her knees:
And gemmy flower, of Trebizond misnamd
Inmate of highest stars, where erst it shamd
All other loveliness: its honied dew
(The fabled nectar that the heathen knew)
Deliriously sweet, was droppd from Heaven,
And fell on gardens of the unforgiven
In Trebizond and on a sunny flower
So like its own above, that, to this hour,
It still remaineth, torturing the bee
With madness, and unwonted reverie:
In Heaven, and all its environs, the leaf
And blossom of the fairy plant, in grief
Disconsolate linger grief that hangs her head,
Repenting follies that full long have fled,
Heaving her white breast to the balmy air,
Like guilty beauty, chastend, and more fair:
Nyctanthes too, as sacred as the light
She fears to perfume, perfuming the night:
And Clytia pondering between many a sun,
While pettish tears adown her petals run:
And that aspiring flower that sprang on Earth
And died, ere scarce exalted into birth,
Bursting its odorous heart in spirit to wing
Its way to Heaven, from garden of a king:
And Valisnerian lotus thither flown
From struggling with the waters of the Rhone:
And thy most lovely purple perfume, Zante!
Isola d’oro! Fior di Levante!
And the Nelumbo bud that floats for ever
With Indian Cupid down the holy river
Fair flowers, and fairy! to whose care is given
To bear the Goddesssong, in odors, up to Heaven:

         “Spirit! that dwellest where,
                    In the deep sky,
         The terrible and fair,
                    In beauty vie!
         Beyond the line of blue
                    The boundary of the star
         Which turneth at the view
                    Of thy barrier and thy bar
         Of the barrier overgone
                    By the comets who were cast
         From their pride, and from their throne,
                    To be drudges till the last
         To be carriers of fire
                    (The red fire of their heart)
         With speed that may not tire
                    And with pain that shall not part
         Who livestthat we know
                    In Eternity we feel
         But the shadow of whose brow
                    What spirit shall reveal?
         Tho the beings whom thy Nesace,
                    Thy messenger, hath known,
         Have dreamd for thy Infinity
                    A model of their own
         Thy will is done, Oh, God!
                    The star hath ridden high
         Thro many a tempest, but she rode
                    Beneath thy burning eye;
         And here, in thought, to thee
                    In thought that can alone
         Ascend thy empire and so be
                    A partner of thy throne
         By winged Fantasy,
                    My embassy is given,
         ’Till secrecy shall knowledge be
                    In the environs of Heaven.

    She ceasd and buried then her burning cheek
Abash'd, amid the lilies there, to seek
A shelter from the fervour of His eye;
For the stars trembled at the Deity.
She stirrd not breathd not for a voice was there
How solemnly pervading the calm air!
A sound of silence on the startled ear
Which dreamy poets name the music of the sphere.
Ours is a world of words: Quiet we call
Silence which is the merest word of all.
All Nature speaks, and evn ideal things
Flap shadowy sounds from visionary wings
But ah! not so when, thus, in realms on high
The eternal voice of God is passing by,
And the red winds are withering in the sky!

    “What tho in worlds which sightless cycles run,
Linkd to a little system, and one sun
Where all my love is folly and the crowd
Still think my terrors but the thunder cloud,
The storm, the earthquake, and the ocean wrath
(Ah! will they cross me in my angrier path?)
What thoin worlds which own a single sun
The sands of Time grow dimmer as they run,
Yet thine is my resplendency, so given
To bear my secrets thro the upper Heaven.

Leave tenantless thy crystal home, and fly,
With all thy train, athwart the moony sky
Apart like fire‑flies in Sicilian night,
And wing to other worlds another light!
Divulge the secrets of thy embassy
To the proud orbs that twinkle and so be
To evry heart a barrier and a ban
Lest the stars totter in the guilt of man!

     Up rose the maiden in the yellow night,
The single‑mooned eve! on Earth we plight
Our faith to one love and one moon adore
The birth‑place of young Beauty had no more.
As sprang that yellow star from downy hours
Up rose the maiden from her shrine of flowers,
And bent oer sheeny mountain and dim plain
Her way but left not yet her Therasaean reign.


PART II
 

High on a mountain of enamelld head
Such as the drowsy shepherd on his bed
Of giant pasturage lying at his ease,
Raising his heavy eyelid, starts and sees
With many a mutterd hope to be forgiven
What time the moon is quadrated in Heaven
Of rosy head, that towering far away
Into the sunlit ether, caught the ray
Of sunken suns at eve at noon of night,­
While the moon dancd with the fair stranger light
Upreard upon such height arose a pile
Of gorgeous columns on thunburthend air,
Flashing from Parian marble that twin smile
Far down upon the wave that sparkled there,
And nursled the young mountain in its lair.
Of molten stars their pavement, such as fall
Throthe ebon air, besilvering the pall
Of their own dissolution, while they die
Adorning then the dwellings of the sky.
A dome, by linked light from Heaven let down,
Sat gently on these columns as a crown
A window of one circular diamond, there,
Lookd out above into the purple air,
And rays from God shot down that meteor chain
And hallowd all the beauty twice again,
Save when, between th Empyrean and that ring,
Some eager spirit flappd his dusky wing.
But on the pillars Seraph eyes have seen
The dimness of this world: that greyish green
That Nature loves the best for Beautys grave
Lurkd in each cornice, round each architrave
And every sculpturd cherub thereabout
That from his marble dwelling peeréd out,
Seemd earthly in the shadow of his niche
Achaian statues in a world so rich!
Friezes from Tadmor and Persepolis
From Balbec, and the stilly, clear abyss
Of beautiful Gomorrah! O, the wave
Is now upon thee but too late to save!

   Sound loves to revel in a summer night:
Witness the murmur of the grey twilight
That stole upon the ear, in Eyraco,
Of many a wild star-gazer long ago
That stealeth ever on the ear of him
Who, musing, gazeth on the distance dim,
And sees the darkness coming as a cloud
Is not its form its voice most palpable and loud?

    But what is this? it cometh and it brings
A music with it 't is the rush of wings
A pause and then a sweeping, falling strain,
And Nesace is in her halls again.
From the wild energy of wanton haste
    Her cheeks were flushing, and her lips apart;
And zone that clung around her gentle waist
   Had burst beneath the heaving of her heart.
Within the centre of that hall to breathe
She pausd and panted, Zanthe! all beneath,
The fairy light that kissd her golden hair
And longd to rest, yet could but sparkle there!

   Young flowers were whispering in melody
To happy flowers that night and tree to tree;
Fountains were gushing music as they fell
In many a star‑lit grove, or moon‑lit dell;
Yet silence came upon material things
Fair flowers, bright waterfalls, and angel wings
And sound alone, that from the spirit sprang
Bore burthen to the charm the maiden sang:

         “Neath blue‑bell or streamer
            Or tufted wild spray
         That keeps from the dreamer
            The moonbeam away
         Bright beings! that ponder,
            With half closing eyes,
         On the stars which your wonder
            Hath drawn from the skies,
         Till they glance thro the shade, and
            Come down to your brow
         Like eyes of the maiden
            Who calls on you now
         Arise! from your dreaming
            In violet bowers,
         To duty beseeming
            These star‑litten hours
         And shake from your tresses
            Encumberd with dew,
         The breath of those kisses
            That cumber them too
         (O, how, without you, Love!
            Could angels be blest?)
         Those kisses of true love
            That lulld ye to rest!
         Up! shake from your wing
            Each hindering thing:
         The dew of the night
            It would weigh down your flight,
         And true love caresses
            O! leave them apart!
         They are light on the tresses,
            But lead on the heart.

         Ligeia! Ligeia!
            My beautiful one!
         Whose harshest idea
            Will to melody run,
         O! is it thy will
            On the breezes to toss?
         Or, capriciously still,
            Like the lone Albatross,
         Incumbent on night
            (As she on the air)
         To keep watch with delight
            On the harmony there?

         “Ligeia! wherever
            Thy image may be,
         No magic shall sever
            Thy music from thee.
         Thou hast bound many eyes
            In a dreamy sleep
         But the strains still arise
            Which thy vigilance keep
         The sound of the rain
            Which leaps down to the flower,
         And dances again
            In the rhythm of the shower
         The murmur that springs
            From the growing of grass
         Are the music of things
            But are modelld, alas!
         Away, then, my dearest,
            O! hie thee away
         To springs that lie clearest
            Beneath the moon‑ray
         To lone lake that smiles,
            In its dream of deep rest,
         At the many star‑isles
            That enjewel its breast
         Where wild flowers, creeping,
            Have mingled their shade,
         On its margin is sleeping
            Full many a maid
         Some have left the cool glade, and
            Have slept with the bee
         Arouse them, my maiden,
            On moorland and lea
         Go! breathe on their slumber,
            All softly in ear,
         The musical number
            They slumberd to hear
         For what can awaken
            An angel so soon
         Whose sleep hath been taken
            Beneath the cold moon,
         As the spell which no slumber
            Of witchery may test,
         The rhythmical number
            Which lulld him to rest?

     Spirits in wing, and angels to the view,
A thousand seraphs burst th Empyrean thro,
Young dreams still hovering on their drowsy flight
Seraphs in all but Knowledge, the keen light
That fell, refracted, thro thy bounds, afar,
Oh Death! from eye of God upon that star:
Sweet was that error sweeter still that death
Sweet was that error evn with us the breath
Of Science dims the mirror of our joy
To themt were the Simoom, and would destroy
For what (to them) availeth it to know
That Truth is Falsehood or that Bliss is Woe?
Sweet was their death with them to die was rife
With the last ecstasy of satiate life
Beyond that death no immortality
But sleep that pondereth and is not to be
And there oh! may my weary spirit dwell
Apart from Heavens Eternity and yet how far from Hell!

    What guilty spirit, in what shrubbery dim,
Heard not the stirring summons of that hymn?
But two: they fell: for Heaven no grace imparts
To those who hear not for their beating hearts.
A maiden‑angel and her seraph‑lover
O! where (and ye may seek the wide skies over)
Was Love, the blind, near sober Duty known?
Unguided Love hath fallenmid tears of perfect moan.

    He was a goodly spirit he who fell:
A wanderer by moss‑y‑mantled well
A gazer on the lights that shine above
A dreamer in the moonbeam by his love:
What wonder? for each star is eye‑like there,
And looks so sweetly down on Beauty's hair;
And they, and evry mossy spring were holy
To his love‑haunted heart and melancholy.
The night had found (to him a night of wo)
Upon a mountain crag, young Angelo
Beetling it bends athwart the solemn sky,
And scowls on starry worlds that down beneath it lie.
Here sate he with his love his dark eye bent
With eagle gaze along the firmament:
Now turnd it upon her but ever then
It trembled to the orb of EARTH again.

    “Ianthe, dearest, see! how dim that ray!
How lovely t is to look so far away!
She seemed not thus upon that autumn eve
I left her gorgeous halls nor mournd to leave.
That eve that eve I should remember well
The sun‑ray droppd, in Lemnos, with a spell
On th Arabesque carving of a gilded hall
Wherein I sate, and on the draperied wall
And on my eyelids O the heavy light!
How drowsily it weighd them into night!
On flowers, before, and mist, and love they ran
With Persian Saadi in his Gulistan:
But O that light! I slumberd Death, the while,
Stole oer my senses in that lovely isle
So softly that no single silken hair
Awoke that slept or knew that he was there.

    “The last spot of Earths orb I trod upon
Was a proud temple calld the Parthenon
 More beauty clung around  her columnd wall
Than evn thy glowing bosom beats withal,
And when old Time my wing did disenthral
Thence sprang I as the eagle from his tower,
And years I left behind me in an hour.
What time upon her airy bounds I hung,
One half the garden of her globe was flung,
Unrolling as a chart unto my view
Tenantless cities of the desert too!
Ianthe, beauty crowded on me then,
And half I wishd to be again of men.

    “My Angelo! and why of them to be?
A brighter dwelling‑place is here for thee
And greener fields than in yon world above,
And womans loveliness and passionate love.

    “But, list, Ianthe! when the air so soft
Faild, as my pennond spirit leapt aloft,
Perhaps my brain grew dizzy but the world
I left so late was into chaos hurld
Sprang from her station, on the winds apart,
And rolld, a flame, the fiery Heaven athwart.
Methought, my sweet one, then I ceased to soar
And fell not swiftly as I rose before,
But with a downward, tremulous motion thro
Light, brazen rays, this golden star unto!
Nor long the measure of my falling hours,
For nearest of all stars was thine to ours
Dread star! that came, amid a night of mirth,
A red Daedalion on the timid Earth.

  We came and to thy Earth but not to us
Be given our lady's bidding to discuss:
We came, my love; around, above, below,
Gay fire‑fly of the night we come and go,
Nor ask a reason save the angel‑nod
She grants to us, as granted by her God
But, Angelo, than thine grey Time unfurld
Never his fairy wing oer fairier world!
Dim was its little disk, and angel eyes
Alone could see the phantom in the skies,
When first Al Aaraaf knew her course to be
Headlong thitherward oer the starry sea
But when its glory swelld upon the sky,
As glowing Beautys bust beneath mans eye,
We paus'd before the heritage of men,
And thy star trembled as doth Beauty then!

    Thus, in discourse, the lovers whiled away
The night that waned and waned and brought no day.
They fell: for Heaven to them no hope imparts
Who hear not for the beating of their hearts.


ROMANCE

 

Romance, who loves to nod and sing,
With drowsy head and folded wing,
Among the green leaves as they shake
Far down within some shadowy lake,
To me a painted paroquet
Hath been a most familiar bird
Taught me my alphabet to say
To lisp my very earliest word
While in the wild wood I did lie,
A child with a most knowing eye.

Of late, eternal Condor years
So shake the very Heaven on high
With tumult as they thunder by,
I have no time for idle cares
Through gazing on the unquiet sky.
And when an hour with calmer wings
Its down upon my spirit flings
That little time with lyre and rhyme
To while away forbidden things!
My heart would feel to be a crime
Unless it trembled with the strings.


TO

 

The bowers whereat, in dreams, I see
     The wantonest singing birds,
Are lips and all thy melody
    Of lip‑begotten words

Thine eyes, in Heaven of heart enshrined
    Then desolately fall,
O God! on my funereal mind
    Like starlight on a pall

Thy heartthy hearth! I wake and sigh,
   And sleep to dream till day
Of the truth that gold can never buy
   Of the baubles that it may.


TO THE RIVER

 

 Fair river! in thy bright, clear flow
      Of crystal, wandering water,
Thou art an emblem of the glow
         Of beauty the unhidden heart
         The playful maziness of art
     In old Albertos daughter;

But when within thy wave she looks
    Which glistens then, and trembles
Why, then, the prettiest of brooks
    Her worshipper resembles;
For in his heart, as in thy stream,
    Her image deeply lies
His heart which trembles at the beam
   Of her soul‑searching eyes.


TO


  I heed not that my earthly lot
   Hath little of Earth in it
That years of love have been forgot
   In the hatred of a minute:
I mourn not that the desolate
   Are happier, sweet, than I,
But that you sorrow for my fate
   Who am a passer by.



FAIRY-LAND

 

Dim vales and shadowy floods
And cloudy‑looking woods,
Whose forms we cant discover
For the tears that drip all over.
Huge moons there wax and wane
Again again again
Every moment of the night
Forever changing places
And they put out the star‑light
With the breath from their pale faces.
About twelve by the moon‑dial
One more filmy than the rest
(A kind which, upon trial,
They have found to be the best)
Comes down still down and down
With its centre on the crown
Of a mountains eminence,
While its wide circumference
In easy drapery falls
Over hamlets, over halls,
Wherever they may be
Oer the strange woods oer the sea
Over spirits on the wing
Over every drowsy thing
And buries them up quite
In a labyrinth of light
And then, how, deep! O, deep,
Is the passion of their sleep.
In the morning they arise,
And their moony covering
Is soaring in the skies,
With the tempests as they toss,
Like almost any thing
Or a yellow Albatross.
They use that moon no more
For the same end as before
Videlicet a tent
Which I think extravagant:
Its atomies, however,
Into a shower dissever,
Of which those butterflies,
Of Earth, who seek the skies,
And so come down again
(Never‑contented things!)
Have brought a specimen
Upon their quivering wings.