Book II
O SOVEREIGN power of love! O grief! O balm!  
All records, saving thine, come cool, and calm,  
And shadowy, through the mist of passed years:  
For others, good or bad, hatred and tears  
Have become indolent; but touching thine,           5
One sigh doth echo, one poor sob doth pine,  
One kiss brings honey—dew from buried days.  
The woes of Troy, towers smothering o’er their blaze,  
Stiff—holden shields, far—piercing spears, keen blades,  
Struggling, and blood, and shrieks—all dimly fades           10
Into some backward corner of the brain;  
Yet, in our very souls, we feel amain  
The close of Troilus and Cressid sweet.  
Hence, pageant history! hence, gilded cheat!  
Swart planet in the universe of deeds!           15
Wide sea, that one continuous murmur breeds  
Along the pebbled shore of memory!  
Many old rotten—timber’d boats there be  
Upon thy vaporous bosom, magnified  
To goodly vessels; many a sail of pride,           20
And golden keel’d, is left unlaunch’d and dry.  
But wherefore this? What care, though owl did fly  
About the great Athenian admiral’s mast?  
What care, though striding Alexander past  
The Indus with his Macedonian numbers?           25
Though old Ulysses tortured from his slumbers  
The glutted Cyclops, what care?—Juliet leaning  
Amid her window—flowers,—sighing,—weaning  
Tenderly her fancy from its maiden snow,  
Doth more avail than these: the silver flow           30
Of Hero’s tears, the swoon of Imogen,  
Fair Pastorella in the bandit’s den,  
Are things to brood on with more ardency  
Than the death—day of empires. Fearfully  
Must such conviction come upon his head,           35
Who, thus far, discontent, has dared to tread,  
Without one muse’s smile, or kind behest,  
The path of love and poesy. But rest,  
In chaffing restlessness, is yet more drear  
Than to be crush’d, in striving to uprear           40
Love’s standard on the battlements of song.  
So once more days and nights aid me along,  
Like legion’d soldiers.
                       Brain—sick shepherd—prince,  
What promise hast thou faithful guarded since  
The day of sacrifice? Or, have new sorrows           45
Come with the constant dawn upon thy morrows?  
Alas! ’tis his old grief. For many days,  
Has he been wandering in uncertain ways:  
Through wilderness, and woods of mossed oaks;  
Counting his woe—worn minutes, by the strokes           50
Of the lone woodcutter; and listening still,  
Hour after hour, to each lush—leav’d rill.  
Now he is sitting by a shady spring,  
And elbow—deep with feverous fingering  
Stems the upbursting cold: a wild rose tree           55
Pavilions him in bloom, and he doth see  
A bud which snares his fancy: lo! but now  
He plucks it, dips its stalk in the water: how!  
It swells, it buds, it flowers beneath his sight;  
And, in the middle, there is softly pight           60
A golden butterfly; upon whose wings  
There must be surely character’d strange things,  
For with wide eye he wonders, and smiles oft.  
 Lightly this little herald flew aloft,  
Follow’d by glad Endymion’s clasped hands:           65
Onward it flies. From languor’s sullen bands  
His limbs are loos’d, and eager, on he hies  
Dazzled to trace it in the sunny skies.  
It seem’d he flew, the way so easy was;  
And like a new—born spirit did he pass           70
Through the green evening quiet in the sun,  
O’er many a heath, through many a woodland dun,  
Through buried paths, where sleepy twilight dreams  
The summer time away. One track unseams  
A wooded cleft, and, far away, the blue           75
Of ocean fades upon him; then, anew,  
He sinks adown a solitary glen,  
Where there was never sound of mortal men,  
Saving, perhaps, some snow—light cadences  
Melting to silence, when upon the breeze           80
Some holy bark let forth an anthem sweet,  
To cheer itself to Delphi. Still his feet  
Went swift beneath the merry—winged guide,  
Until it reached a splashing fountain’s side  
That, near a cavern’s mouth, for ever pour’d           85
Unto the temperate air: then high it soar’d,  
And, downward, suddenly began to dip,  
As if, athirst with so much toil, ’twould sip  
The crystal spout—head: so it did, with touch  
Most delicate, as though afraid to smutch           90
Even with mealy gold the waters clear.  
But, at that very touch, to disappear  
So fairy—quick, was strange! Bewildered,  
Endymion sought around, and shook each bed  
Of covert flowers in vain; and then he flung           95
Himself along the grass. What gentle tongue,  
What whisperer disturb’d his gloomy rest?  
It was a nymph uprisen to the breast  
In the fountain’s pebbly margin, and she stood  
’Mong lilies, like the youngest of the brood.           100
To him her dripping hand she softly kist,  
And anxiously began to plait and twist  
Her ringlets round her fingers, saying: “Youth!  
Too long, alas, hast thou starv’d on the ruth,  
The bitterness of love: too long indeed,           105
Seeing thou art so gentle. Could I weed  
Thy soul of care, by heavens, I would offer  
All the bright riches of my crystal coffer  
To Amphitrite; all my clear—eyed fish,  
Golden, or rainbow—sided, or purplish,           110
Vermilion—tail’d, or finn’d with silvery gauze;  
Yea, or my veined pebble—floor, that draws  
A virgin light to the deep; my grotto—sands  
Tawny and gold, ooz’d slowly from far lands  
By my diligent springs; my level lilies, shells,           115
My charming rod, my potent river spells;  
Yes, every thing, even to the pearly cup  
Meander gave me,—for I bubbled up  
To fainting creatures in a desert wild.  
But woe is me, I am but as a child           120
To gladden thee; and all I dare to say,  
Is, that I pity thee; that on this day  
I’ve been thy guide; that thou must wander far  
In other regions, past the scanty bar  
To mortal steps, before thou cans’t be ta’en           125
From every wasting sigh, from every pain,  
Into the gentle bosom of thy love.  
Why it is thus, one knows in heaven above:  
But, a poor Naiad, I guess not. Farewel!  
I have a ditty for my hollow cell.”           130
 Hereat, she vanished from Endymion’s gaze,  
Who brooded o’er the water in amaze:  
The dashing fount pour’d on, and where its pool  
Lay, half asleep, in grass and rushes cool,  
Quick waterflies and gnats were sporting still,           135
And fish were dimpling, as if good nor ill  
Had fallen out that hour. The wanderer,  
Holding his forehead, to keep off the burr  
Of smothering fancies, patiently sat down;  
And, while beneath the evening’s sleepy frown           140
Glow—worms began to trim their starry lamps,  
Thus breath’d he to himself: “Whoso encamps  
To take a fancied city of delight,  
O what a wretch is he! and when ’tis his,  
After long toil and travelling, to miss           145
The kernel of his hopes, how more than vile:  
Yet, for him there’s refreshment even in toil;  
Another city doth he set about,  
Free from the smallest pebble—bead of doubt  
That he will seize on trickling honey—combs:           150
Alas, he finds them dry; and then he foams,  
And onward to another city speeds.  
But this is human life: the war, the deeds,  
The disappointment, the anxiety,  
Imagination’s struggles, far and nigh,           155
All human; bearing in themselves this good,  
That they are sill the air, the subtle food,  
To make us feel existence, and to shew  
How quiet death is. Where soil is men grow,  
Whether to weeds or flowers; but for me,           160
There is no depth to strike in: I can see  
Nought earthly worth my compassing; so stand  
Upon a misty, jutting head of land—  
Alone? No, no; and by the Orphean lute,  
When mad Eurydice is listening to ’t;           165
I’d rather stand upon this misty peak,  
With not a thing to sigh for, or to seek,  
But the soft shadow of my thrice—seen love,  
Than be—I care not what. O meekest dove  
Of heaven! O Cynthia, ten—times bright and fair!           170
From thy blue throne, now filling all the air,  
Glance but one little beam of temper’d light  
Into my bosom, that the dreadful might  
And tyranny of love be somewhat scar’d!  
Yet do not so, sweet queen; one torment spar’d,           175
Would give a pang to jealous misery,  
Worse than the torment’s self: but rather tie  
Large wings upon my shoulders, and point out  
My love’s far dwelling. Though the playful rout  
Of Cupids shun thee, too divine art thou,           180
Too keen in beauty, for thy silver prow  
Not to have dipp’d in love’s most gentle stream.  
O be propitious, nor severely deem  
My madness impious; for, by all the stars  
That tend thy bidding, I do think the bars           185
That kept my spirit in are burst—that I  
Am sailing with thee through the dizzy sky!  
How beautiful thou art! The world how deep!  
How tremulous—dazzlingly the wheels sweep  
Around their axle! Then these gleaming reins,           190
How lithe! When this thy chariot attains  
Is airy goal, haply some bower veils  
Those twilight eyes? Those eyes!—my spirit fails—  
Dear goddess, help! or the wide—gaping air  
Will gulph me—help!”—At this with madden’d stare,           195
And lifted hands, and trembling lips he stood;  
Like old Deucalion mountain’d o’er the flood,  
Or blind Orion hungry for the morn.  
And, but from the deep cavern there was borne  
A voice, he had been froze to senseless stone;           200
Nor sigh of his, nor plaint, nor passion’d moan  
Had more been heard. Thus swell’d it forth: “Descend,  
Young mountaineer! descend where alleys bend  
Into the sparry hollows of the world!  
Oft hast thou seen bolts of the thunder hurl’d           205
As from thy threshold, day by day hast been  
A little lower than the chilly sheen  
Of icy pinnacles, and dipp’dst thine arms  
Into the deadening ether that still charms  
Their marble being: now, as deep profound           210
As those are high, descend! He ne’er is crown’d  
With immortality, who fears to follow  
Where airy voices lead: so through the hollow,  
The silent mysteries of earth, descend!”  
 He heard but the last words, nor could contend           215
One moment in reflection: for he fled  
Into the fearful deep, to hide his head  
From the clear moon, the trees, and coming madness.  
 ’Twas far too strange, and wonderful for sadness;  
Sharpening, by degrees, his appetite           220
To dive into the deepest. Dark, nor light,  
The region; nor bright, nor sombre wholly,  
But mingled up; a gleaming melancholy;  
A dusky empire and its diadems;  
One faint eternal eventide of gems.           225
Aye, millions sparkled on a vein of gold,  
Along whose track the prince quick footsteps told,  
With all its lines abrupt and angular:  
Out—shooting sometimes, like a meteor—star,  
Through a vast antre; then the metal woof,           230
Like Vulcan’s rainbow, with some monstrous roof  
Curves hugely: now, far in the deep abyss,  
It seems an angry lightning, and doth hiss  
Fancy into belief: anon it leads  
Through winding passages, where sameness breeds           235
Vexing conceptions of some sudden change;  
Whether to silver grots, or giant range  
Of sapphire columns, or fantastic bridge  
Athwart a flood of crystal. On a ridge  
Now fareth he, that o’er the vast beneath           240
Towers like an ocean—cliff, and whence he seeth  
A hundred waterfalls, whose voices come  
But as the murmuring surge. Chilly and numb  
His bosom grew, when first he, far away,  
Descried an orbed diamond, set to fray           245
Old darkness from his throne: ’twas like the sun  
Uprisen o’er chaos: and with such a stun  
Came the amazement, that, absorb’d in it,  
He saw not fiercer wonders—past the wit  
Of any spirit to tell, but one of those           250
Who, when this planet’s sphering time doth close,  
Will be its high remembrancers: who they?  
The mighty ones who have made eternal day  
For Greece and England. While astonishment  
With deep—drawn sighs was quieting, he went           255
Into a marble gallery, passing through  
A mimic temple, so complete and true  
In sacred custom, that he well nigh fear’d  
To search it inwards, whence far off appear’d,  
Through a long pillar’d vista, a fair shrine,           260
And, just beyond, on light tiptoe divine,  
A quiver’d Dian. Stepping awfully,  
The youth approach’d; oft turning his veil’d eye  
Down sidelong aisles, and into niches old.  
And when, more near against the marble cold           265
He had touch’d his forehead, he began to thread  
All courts and passages, where silence dead  
Rous’d by his whispering footsteps murmured faint:  
And long he travers’d to and fro, to acquaint  
Himself with every mystery, and awe;           270
Till, weary, he sat down before the maw  
Of a wide outlet, fathomless and dim  
To wild uncertainty and shadows grim.  
There, when new wonders ceas’d to float before,  
And thoughts of self came on, how crude and sore           275
The journey homeward to habitual self!  
A mad—pursuing of the fog—born elf,  
Whose flitting lantern, through rude nettle—briar,  
Cheats us into a swamp, into a fire,  
Into the bosom of a hated thing.           280
 What misery most drowningly doth sing  
In lone Endymion’s ear, now he has caught  
The goal of consciousness? Ah, ’tis the thought,  
The deadly feel of solitude: for lo!  
He cannot see the heavens, nor the flow           285
Of rivers, nor hill—flowers running wild  
In pink and purple chequer, nor, up—pil’d,  
The cloudy rack slow journeying in the west,  
Like herded elephants; nor felt, nor prest  
Cool grass, nor tasted the fresh slumberous air;           290
But far from such companionship to wear  
An unknown time, surcharg’d with grief, away,  
Was now his lot. And must he patient stay,  
Tracing fantastic figures with his spear?  
“No!” exclaimed he, “why should I tarry here?”           295
No! loudly echoed times innumerable.  
At which he straightway started, and ’gan tell  
His paces back into the temple’s chief;  
Warming and glowing strong in the belief  
Of help from Dian: so that when again           300
He caught her airy form, thus did he plain,  
Moving more near the while. “O Haunter chaste  
Of river sides, and woods, and heathy waste,  
Where with thy silver bow and arrows keen  
Art thou now forested? O woodland Queen,           305
What smoothest air thy smoother forehead woos?  
Where dost thou listen to the wide halloos  
Of thy disparted nymphs? Through what dark tree  
Glimmers thy crescent? Wheresoe’er it be,  
’Tis in the breath of heaven: thou dost taste           310
Freedom as none can taste it, nor dost waste  
Thy loveliness in dismal elements;  
But, finding in our green earth sweet contents,  
There livest blissfully. Ah, if to thee  
It feels Elysian, how rich to me,           315
An exil’d mortal, sounds its pleasant name!  
Within my breast there lives a choking flame—  
O let me cool it among the zephyr—boughs!  
A homeward fever parches up my tongue—  
O let me slake it at the running springs!           320
Upon my ear a noisy nothing rings—  
O let me once more hear the linnet’s note!  
Before mine eyes thick films and shadows float—  
O let me ’noint them with the heaven’s light!  
Dost thou now lave thy feet and ankles white?           325
O think how sweet to me the freshening sluice!  
Dost thou now please thy thirst with berry—juice?  
O think how this dry palate would rejoice!  
If in soft slumber thou dost hear my voice,  
Oh think how I should love a bed of flowers!—           330
Young goddess! let me see my native bowers!  
Deliver me from this rapacious deep!”  
 Thus ending loudly, as he would o’erleap  
His destiny, alert he stood: but when  
Obstinate silence came heavily again,           335
Feeling about for its old couch of space  
And airy cradle, lowly bow’d his face  
Desponding, o’er the marble floor’s cold thrill.  
But ’twas not long; for, sweeter than the rill  
To its old channel, or a swollen tide           340
To margin sallows, were the leaves he spied,  
And flowers, and wreaths, and ready myrtle crowns  
Up heaping through the slab: refreshment drowns  
Itself, and strives its own delights to hide—  
Nor in one spot alone; the floral pride           345
In a long whispering birth enchanted grew  
Before his footsteps; as when heav’d anew  
Old ocean rolls a lengthened wave to the shore,  
Down whose green back the short—liv’d foam, all hoar,  
Bursts gradual, with a wayward indolence.           350
 Increasing still in heart, and pleasant sense,  
Upon his fairy journey on he hastes;  
So anxious for the end, he scarcely wastes  
One moment with his hand among the sweets:  
Onward he goes—he stops—his bosom beats           355
As plainly in his ear, as the faint charm  
Of which the throbs were born. This still alarm,  
This sleepy music, forc’d him walk tiptoe:  
For it came more softly than the east could blow  
Arion’s magic to the Atlantic isles;           360
Or than the west, made jealous by the smiles  
Of thron’d Apollo, could breathe back the lyre  
To seas Ionian and Tyrian.  
 O did he ever live, that lonely man,  
Who lov’d—and music slew not? ’Tis the pest           365
Of love, that fairest joys give most unrest;  
That things of delicate and tenderest worth  
Are swallow’d all, and made a seared dearth,  
By one consuming flame: it doth immerse  
And suffocate true blessings in a curse.           370
Half—happy, by comparison of bliss,  
Is miserable. ’Twas even so with this  
Dew—dropping melody, in the Carian’s ear;  
First heaven, then hell, and then forgotten clear,  
Vanish’d in elemental passion.           375
 And down some swart abysm he had gone,  
Had not a heavenly guide benignant led  
To where thick myrtle branches, ’gainst his head  
Brushing, awakened: then the sounds again  
Went noiseless as a passing noontide rain           380
Over a bower, where little space he stood;  
For as the sunset peeps into a wood  
So saw he panting light, and towards it went  
Through winding alleys; and lo, wonderment!  
Upon soft verdure saw, one here, one there,           385
Cupids a slumbering on their pinions fair.  
 After a thousand mazes overgone,  
At last, with sudden step, he came upon  
A chamber, myrtle wall’d, embowered high,  
Full of light, incense, tender minstrelsy,           390
And more of beautiful and strange beside:  
For on a silken couch of rosy pride,  
In midst of all, there lay a sleeping youth  
Of fondest beauty; fonder, in fair sooth,  
Than sighs could fathom, or contentment reach:           395
And coverlids gold—tinted like the peach,  
Or ripe October’s faded marigolds,  
Fell sleek about him in a thousand folds—  
Not hiding up an Apollonian curve  
Of neck and shoulder, nor the tenting swerve           400
Of knee from knee, nor ankles pointing light;  
But rather, giving them to the filled sight  
Officiously. Sideway his face repos’d  
On one white arm, and tenderly unclos’d,  
By tenderest pressure, a faint damask mouth           405
To slumbery pout; just as the morning south  
Disparts a dew—lipp’d rose. Above his head,  
Four lily stalks did their white honours wed  
To make a coronal; and round him grew  
All tendrils green, of every bloom and hue,           410
Together intertwin’d and trammel’d fresh:  
The vine of glossy sprout; the ivy mesh,  
Shading its Ethiop berries; and woodbine,  
Of velvet leaves and bugle—blooms divine;  
Convolvulus in streaked vases flush;           415
The creeper, mellowing for an autumn blush;  
And virgin’s bower, trailing airily;  
With others of the sisterhood. Hard by,  
Stood serene Cupids watching silently.  
One, kneeling to a lyre, touch’d the strings,           420
Muffling to death the pathos with his wings;  
And, ever and anon, uprose to look  
At the youth’s slumber; while another took  
A willow—bough, distilling odorous dew,  
And shook it on his hair; another flew           425
In through the woven roof, and fluttering—wise  
Rain’d violets upon his sleeping eyes.  
 At these enchantments, and yet many more,  
The breathless Latmian wonder’d o’er and o’er;  
Until, impatient in embarrassment,           430
He forthright pass’d, and lightly treading went  
To that same feather’d lyrist, who straightway,  
Smiling, thus whisper’d: “Though from upper day  
Thou art a wanderer, and thy presence here  
Might seem unholy, be of happy cheer!           435
For ’tis the nicest touch of human honour,  
When some ethereal and high—favouring donor  
Presents immortal bowers to mortal sense;  
As now ’tis done to thee, Endymion. Hence  
Was I in no wise startled. So recline           440
Upon these living flowers. Here is wine,  
Alive with sparkles—never, I aver,  
Since Ariadne was a vintager,  
So cool a purple: taste these juicy pears,  
Sent me by sad Vertumnus, when his fears           445
Were high about Pomona: here is cream,  
Deepening to richness from a snowy gleam;  
Sweeter than that nurse Amalthea skimm’d  
For the boy Jupiter: and here, undimm’d  
By any touch, a bunch of blooming plums           450
Ready to melt between an infant’s gums:  
And here is manna pick’d from Syrian trees,  
In starlight, by the three Hesperides.  
Feast on, and meanwhile I will let thee know  
Of all these things around us.” He did so,           455
Still brooding o’er the cadence of his lyre;  
And thus: “I need not any hearing tire  
By telling how the sea—born goddess pin’d  
For a mortal youth, and how she strove to bind  
Him all in all unto her doting self.           460
Who would not be so prison’d? but, fond elf,  
He was content to let her amorous plea  
Faint through his careless arms; content to see  
An unseiz’d heaven dying at his feet;  
Content, O fool! to make a cold retreat,           465
When on the pleasant grass such love, lovelorn,  
Lay sorrowing; when every tear was born  
Of diverse passion; when her lips and eyes  
Were clos’d in sullen moisture, and quick sighs  
Came vex’d and pettish through her nostrils small.           470
Hush! no exclaim—yet, justly mightst thou call  
Curses upon his head.—I was half glad,  
But my poor mistress went distract and mad,  
When the boar tusk’d him: so away she flew  
To Jove’s high throne, and by her plainings drew           475
Immortal tear—drops down the thunderer’s beard;  
Whereon, it was decreed he should be rear’d  
Each summer time to life. Lo! this is he,  
That same Adonis, safe in the privacy  
Of this still region all his winter—sleep.           480
Aye, sleep; for when our love—sick queen did weep  
Over his waned corse, the tremulous shower  
Heal’d up the wound, and, with a balmy power,  
Medicined death to a lengthened drowsiness:  
The which she fills with visions, and doth dress           485
In all this quiet luxury; and hath set  
Us young immortals, without any let,  
To watch his slumber through. ’Tis well nigh pass’d,  
Even to a moment’s filling up, and fast  
She scuds with summer breezes, to pant through           490
The first long kiss, warm firstling, to renew  
Embower’d sports in Cytherea’s isle.  
Look! how those winged listeners all this while  
Stand anxious: see! behold!”—This clamant word  
Broke through the careful silence; for they heard           495
A rustling noise of leaves, and out there flutter’d  
Pigeons and doves: Adonis something mutter’d,  
The while one hand, that erst upon his thigh  
Lay dormant, mov’d convuls’d and gradually  
Up to his forehead. Then there was a hum           500
Of sudden voices, echoing, “Come! come!  
Arise! awake! Clear summer has forth walk’d  
Unto the clover—sward, and she has talk’d  
Full soothingly to every nested finch:  
Rise, Cupids! or we’ll give the blue—bell pinch           505
To your dimpled arms. Once more sweet life begin!”  
At this, from every side they hurried in,  
Rubbing their sleepy eyes with lazy wrists,  
And doubling overhead their little fists  
In backward yawns. But all were soon alive:           510
For as delicious wine doth, sparkling, dive  
In nectar’d clouds and curls through water fair,  
So from the arbour roof down swell’d an air  
Odorous and enlivening; making all  
To laugh, and play, and sing, and loudly call           515
For their sweet queen: when lo! the wreathed green  
Disparted, and far upward could be seen  
Blue heaven, and a silver car, air—borne,  
Whose silent wheels, fresh wet from clouds of morn,  
Spun off a drizzling dew,—which falling chill           520
On soft Adonis’ shoulders, made him still  
Nestle and turn uneasily about.  
Soon were the white doves plain, with necks stretch’d out,  
And silken traces lighten’d in descent;  
And soon, returning from love’s banishment,           525
Queen Venus leaning downward open arm’d:  
Her shadow fell upon his breast, and charm’d  
A tumult to his heart, and a new life  
Into his eyes. Ah, miserable strife,  
But for her comforting! unhappy sight,           530
But meeting her blue orbs! Who, who can write  
Of these first minutes? The unchariest muse  
To embracements warm as theirs makes coy excuse.  
 O it has ruffled every spirit there,  
Saving love’s self, who stands superb to share           535
The general gladness: awfully he stands;  
A sovereign quell is in his waving hands;  
No sight can bear the lightning of his bow;  
His quiver is mysterious, none can know  
What themselves think of it; from forth his eyes           540
There darts strange light of varied hues and dyes:  
A scowl is sometimes on his brow, but who  
Look full upon it feel anon the blue  
Of his fair eyes run liquid through their souls.  
Endymion feels it, and no more controls           545
The burning prayer within him; so, bent low,  
He had begun a plaining of his woe.  
But Venus, bending forward, said: “My child,  
Favour this gentle youth; his days are wild  
With love—he—but alas! too well I see           550
Thou know’st the deepness of his misery.  
Ah, smile not so, my son: I tell thee true,  
That when through heavy hours I used to rue  
The endless sleep of this new—born Adon’,  
This stranger ay I pitied. For upon           555
A dreary morning once I fled away  
Into the breezy clouds, to weep and pray  
For this my love: for vexing Mars had teaz’d  
Me even to tears: thence, when a little eas’d,  
Down—looking, vacant, through a hazy wood,           560
I saw this youth as he despairing stood:  
Those same dark curls blown vagrant in the wind:  
Those same full fringed lids a constant blind  
Over his sullen eyes: I saw him throw  
Himself on wither’d leaves, even as though           565
Death had come sudden; for no jot he mov’d,  
Yet mutter’d wildly. I could hear he lov’d  
Some fair immortal, and that his embrace  
Had zoned her through the night. There is no trace  
Of this in heaven: I have mark’d each cheek,           570
And find it is the vainest thing to seek;  
And that of all things ’tis kept secretest.  
Endymion! one day thou wilt be blest:  
So still obey the guiding hand that fends  
Thee safely through these wonders for sweet ends.           575
’Tis a concealment needful in extreme;  
And if I guess’d not so, the sunny beam  
Thou shouldst mount up to with me. Now adieu!  
Here must we leave thee.”—At these words up flew  
The impatient doves, up rose the floating car,           580
Up went the hum celestial. High afar  
The Latmian saw them minish into nought;  
And, when all were clear vanish’d, still he caught  
A vivid lightning from that dreadful bow.  
When all was darkened, with Etnean throe           585
The earth clos’d—gave a solitary moan—  
And left him once again in twilight lone.  
 He did not rave, he did not stare aghast,  
For all those visions were o’ergone, and past,  
And he in loneliness: he felt assur’d           590
Of happy times, when all he had endur’d  
Would seem a feather to the mighty prize.  
So, with unusual gladness, on he hies  
Through caves, and palaces of mottled ore,  
Gold dome, and crystal wall, and turquois floor,           595
Black polish’d porticos of awful shade,  
And, at the last, a diamond balustrade,  
Leading afar past wild magnificence,  
Spiral through ruggedest loopholes, and thence  
Stretching across a void, then guiding o’er           600
Enormous chasms, where, all foam and roar,  
Streams subterranean tease their granite beds;  
Then heighten’d just above the silvery heads  
Of a thousand fountains, so that he could dash  
The waters with his spear; but at the splash,           605
Done heedlessly, those spouting columns rose  
Sudden a poplar’s height, and ’gan to enclose  
His diamond path with fretwork, streaming round  
Alive, and dazzling cool, and with a sound,  
Haply, like dolphin tumults, when sweet shells           610
Welcome the float of Thetis. Long he dwells  
On this delight; for, every minute’s space,  
The streams with changed magic interlace:  
Sometimes like delicatest lattices,  
Cover’d with crystal vines; then weeping trees,           615
Moving about as in a gentle wind,  
Which, in a wink, to watery gauze refin’d,  
Pour’d into shapes of curtain’d canopies,  
Spangled, and rich with liquid broideries  
Of flowers, peacocks, swans, and naiads fair.           620
Swifter than lightning went these wonders rare;  
And then the water, into stubborn streams  
Collecting, mimick’d the wrought oaken beams,  
Pillars, and frieze, and high fantastic roof,  
Of those dusk places in times far aloof           625
Cathedrals call’d. He bade a loth farewel  
To these founts Protean, passing gulph, and dell,  
And torrent, and ten thousand jutting shapes,  
Half seen through deepest gloom, and griesly gapes,  
Blackening on every side, and overhead           630
A vaulted dome like Heaven’s, far bespread  
With starlight gems: aye, all so huge and strange,  
The solitary felt a hurried change  
Working within him into something dreary,—  
Vex’d like a morning eagle, lost, and weary,           635
And purblind amid foggy, midnight wolds.  
But he revives at once: for who beholds  
New sudden things, nor casts his mental slough?  
Forth from a rugged arch, in the dusk below,  
Came mother Cybele! alone—alone—           640
In sombre chariot; dark foldings thrown  
About her majesty, and front death—pale,  
With turrets crown’d. Four maned lions hale  
The sluggish wheels; solemn their toothed maws,  
Their surly eyes brow—hidden, heavy paws           645
Uplifted drowsily, and nervy tails  
Cowering their tawny brushes. Silent sails  
This shadowy queen athwart, and faints away  
In another gloomy arch.
                         Wherefore delay,  
Young traveller, in such a mournful place?           650
Art thou wayworn, or canst not further trace  
The diamond path? And does it indeed end  
Abrupt in middle air? Yet earthward bend  
Thy forehead, and to Jupiter cloud—borne  
Call ardently! He was indeed wayworn;           655
Abrupt, in middle air, his way was lost;  
To cloud—borne Jove he bowed, and there crost  
Towards him a large eagle, ’twixt whose wings,  
Without one impious word, himself he flings,  
Committed to the darkness and the gloom:           660
Down, down, uncertain to what pleasant doom,  
Swift as a fathoming plummet down he fell  
Through unknown things; till exhaled asphodel,  
And rose, with spicy fannings interbreath’d,  
Came swelling forth where little caves were wreath’d           665
So thick with leaves and mosses, that they seem’d  
Large honey—combs of green, and freshly teem’d  
With airs delicious. In the greenest nook  
The eagle landed him, and farewel took.  
 It was a jasmine bower, all bestrown           670
With golden moss. His every sense had grown  
Ethereal for pleasure; ’bove his head  
Flew a delight half—graspable; his tread  
Was Hesperean; to his capable ears  
Silence was music from the holy spheres;           675
A dewy luxury was in his eyes;  
The little flowers felt his pleasant sighs  
And stirr’d them faintly. Verdant cave and cell  
He wander’d through, oft wondering at such swell  
Of sudden exaltation: but, “Alas!           680
Said he, “will all this gush of feeling pass  
Away in solitude? And must they wane,  
Like melodies upon a sandy plain,  
Without an echo? Then shall I be left  
So sad, so melancholy, so bereft!           685
Yet still I feel immortal! O my love,  
My breath of life, where art thou? High above,  
Dancing before the morning gates of heaven?  
Or keeping watch among those starry seven,  
Old Atlas’ children? Art a maid of the waters,           690
One of shell—winding Triton’s bright—hair’d daughters?  
Or art, impossible! a nymph of Dian’s,  
Weaving a coronal of tender scions  
For very idleness? Where’er thou art,  
Methinks it now is at my will to start           695
Into thine arms; to scare Aurora’s train,  
And snatch thee from the morning; o’er the main  
To scud like a wild bird, and take thee off  
From thy sea—foamy cradle; or to doff  
Thy shepherd vest, and woo thee mid fresh leaves.           700
No, no, too eagerly my soul deceives  
Its powerless self: I know this cannot be.  
O let me then by some sweet dreaming flee  
To her entrancements: hither sleep awhile!  
Hither most gentle sleep! and soothing foil           705
For some few hours the coming solitude.”  
 Thus spake he, and that moment felt endued  
With power to dream deliciously; so wound  
Through a dim passage, searching till he found  
The smoothest mossy bed and deepest, where           710
He threw himself, and just into the air  
Stretching his indolent arms, he took, O bliss!  
A naked waist: “Fair Cupid, whence is this?”  
A well—known voice sigh’d, “Sweetest, here am I!”  
At which soft ravishment, with doating cry           715
They trembled to each other.—Helicon!  
O fountain’d hill! Old Homer’s Helicon!  
That thou wouldst spout a little streamlet o’er  
These sorry pages; then the verse would soar  
And sing above this gentle pair, like lark           720
Over his nested young: but all is dark  
Around thine aged top, and thy clear fount  
Exhales in mists to heaven. Aye, the count  
Of mighty Poets is made up; the scroll  
Is folded by the Muses; the bright roll           725
Is in Apollo’s hand: our dazed eyes  
Have seen a new tinge in the western skies:  
The world has done its duty. Yet, oh yet,  
Although the sun of poesy is set,  
These lovers did embrace, and we must weep           730
That there is no old power left to steep  
A quill immortal in their joyous tears.  
Long time in silence did their anxious fears  
Question that thus it was; long time they lay  
Fondling and kissing every doubt away;           735
Long time ere soft caressing sobs began  
To mellow into words, and then there ran  
Two bubbling springs of talk from their sweet lips.  
“O known Unknown! from whom my being sips  
Such darling essence, wherefore may I not           740
Be ever in these arms? in this sweet spot  
Pillow my chin for ever? ever press  
These toying hands and kiss their smooth excess?  
Why not for ever and for ever feel  
That breath about my eyes? Ah, thou wilt steal           745
Away from me again, indeed, indeed—  
Thou wilt be gone away, and wilt not heed  
My lonely madness. Speak, my kindest fair!  
Is—is it to be so? No! Who will dare  
To pluck thee from me? And, of thine own will,           750
Full well I feel thou wouldst not leave me. Still  
Let me entwine thee surer, surer—now  
How can we part? Elysium! who art thou?  
Who, that thou canst not be for ever here,  
Or lift me with thee to some starry sphere?           755
Enchantress! tell me by this soft embrace,  
By the most soft completion of thy face,  
Those lips, O slippery blisses, twinkling eyes,  
And by these tenderest, milky sovereignties—  
These tenderest, and by the nectar—wine,           760
The passion”————“O lov’d Ida the divine!  
Endymion! dearest! Ah, unhappy me!  
His soul will ’scape us—O felicity!  
How he does love me! His poor temples beat  
To the very tune of love—how sweet, sweet, sweet.           765
Revive, dear youth, or I shall faint and die;  
Revive, or these soft hours will hurry by  
In tranced dulness; speak, and let that spell  
Affright this lethargy! I cannot quell  
Its heavy pressure, and will press at least           770
My lips to thine, that they may richly feast  
Until we taste the life of love again.  
What! dost thou move? dost kiss? O bliss! O pain!  
I love thee, youth, more than I can conceive;  
And so long absence from thee doth bereave           775
My soul of any rest: yet must I hence:  
Yet, can I not to starry eminence  
Uplift thee; nor for very shame can own  
Myself to thee. Ah, dearest, do not groan  
Or thou wilt force me from this secrecy,           780
And I must blush in heaven. O that I  
Had done it already; that the dreadful smiles  
At my lost brightness, my impassion’d wiles,  
Had waned from Olympus’ solemn height,  
And from all serious Gods; that our delight           785
Was quite forgotten, save of us alone!  
And wherefore so ashamed? ’Tis but to atone  
For endless pleasure, by some coward blushes:  
Yet must I be a coward!—Horror rushes  
Too palpable before me—the sad look           790
Of Jove—Minerva’s start—no bosom shook  
With awe of purity—no Cupid pinion  
In reverence veiled—my crystaline dominion  
Half lost, and all old hymns made nullity!  
But what is this to love? O I could fly           795
With thee into the ken of heavenly powers,  
So thou wouldst thus, for many sequent hours,  
Press me so sweetly. Now I swear at once  
That I am wise, that Pallas is a dunce—  
Perhaps her love like mine is but unknown—           800
O I do think that I have been alone  
In chastity: yes, Pallas has been sighing,  
While every eve saw me my hair uptying  
With fingers cool as aspen leaves. Sweet love,  
I was as vague as solitary dove,           805
Nor knew that nests were built. Now a soft kiss—  
Aye, by that kiss, I vow an endless bliss,  
An immortality of passion’s thine:  
Ere long I will exalt thee to the shine  
Of heaven ambrosial; and we will shade           810
Ourselves whole summers by a river glade;  
And I will tell thee stories of the sky,  
And breathe thee whispers of its minstrelsy.  
My happy love will overwing all bounds!  
O let me melt into thee; let the sounds           815
Of our close voices marry at their birth;  
Let us entwine hoveringly—O dearth  
Of human words! roughness of mortal speech!  
Lispings empyrean will I sometime teach  
Thine honied tongue—lute—breathings, which I gasp           820
To have thee understand, now while I clasp  
Thee thus, and weep for fondness—I am pain’d,  
Endymion: woe! woe! is grief contain’d  
In the very deeps of pleasure, my sole life?”—  
Hereat, with many sobs, her gentle strife           825
Melted into a languor. He return’d  
Entranced vows and tears.
                         Ye who have yearn’d  
With too much passion, will here stay and pity,  
For the mere sake of truth; as ’tis a ditty  
Not of these days, but long ago ’twas told           830
By a cavern wind unto a forest old;  
And then the forest told it in a dream  
To a sleeping lake, whose cool and level gleam  
A poet caught as he was journeying  
To Phoebus’ shrine; and in it he did fling           835
His weary limbs, bathing an hour’s space,  
And after, straight in that inspired place  
He sang the story up into the air,  
Giving it universal freedom. There  
Has it been ever sounding for those ears           840
Whose tips are glowing hot. The legend cheers  
Yon centinel stars; and he who listens to it  
Must surely be self—doomed or he will rue it:  
For quenchless burnings come upon the heart,  
Made fiercer by a fear lest any part           845
Should be engulphed in the eddying wind.  
As much as here is penn’d doth always find  
A resting place, thus much comes clear and plain;  
Anon the strange voice is upon the wane—  
And ’tis but echo’d from departing sound,           850
That the fair visitant at last unwound  
Her gentle limbs, and left the youth asleep.—  
Thus the tradition of the gusty deep.  
 Now turn we to our former chroniclers.—  
Endymion awoke, that grief of hers           855
Sweet paining on his ear: he sickly guess’d  
How lone he was once more, and sadly press’d  
His empty arms together, hung his head,  
And most forlorn upon that widow’d bed  
Sat silently. Love’s madness he had known:           860
Often with more than tortured lion’s groan  
Moanings had burst from him; but now that rage  
Had pass’d away: no longer did he wage  
A rough—voic’d war against the dooming stars.  
No, he had felt too much for such harsh jars:           865
The lyre of his soul Eolian tun’d  
Forgot all violence, and but commun’d  
With melancholy thought: O he had swoon’d  
Drunken from pleasure’s nipple; and his love  
Henceforth was dove—like.—Loth was he to move           870
From the imprinted couch, and when he did,  
’Twas with slow, languid paces, and face hid  
In muffling hands. So temper’d, out he stray’d  
Half seeing visions that might have dismay’d  
Alecto’s serpents; ravishments more keen           875
Than Hermes’ pipe, when anxious he did lean  
Over eclipsing eyes: and at the last  
It was a sounding grotto, vaulted, vast,  
O’er studded with a thousand, thousand pearls,  
And crimson mouthed shells with stubborn curls,           880
Of every shape and size, even to the bulk  
In which whales arbour close, to brood and sulk  
Against an endless storm. Moreover too,  
Fish—semblances, of green and azure hue,  
Ready to snort their streams. In this cool wonder           885
Endymion sat down, and ’gan to ponder  
On all his life: his youth, up to the day  
When ’mid acclaim, and feasts, and garlands gay,  
He stept upon his shepherd throne: the look  
Of his white palace in wild forest nook,           890
And all the revels he had lorded there:  
Each tender maiden whom he once thought fair,  
With every friend and fellow—woodlander—  
Pass’d like a dream before him. Then the spur  
Of the old bards to mighty deeds: his plans           895
To nurse the golden age ’mong shepherd clans:  
That wondrous night: the great Pan—festival:  
His sister’s sorrow; and his wanderings all,  
Until into the earth’s deep maw he rush’d:  
Then all its buried magic, till it flush’d           900
High with excessive love. “And now,” thought he,  
“How long must I remain in jeopardy  
Of blank amazements that amaze no more?  
Now I have tasted her sweet soul to the core  
All other depths are shallow: essences,           905
Once spiritual, are like muddy lees,  
Meant but to fertilize my earthly root,  
And make my branches lift a golden fruit  
Into the bloom of heaven: other light,  
Though it be quick and sharp enough to blight           910
The Olympian eagle’s vision, is dark,  
Dark as the parentage of chaos. Hark!  
My silent thoughts are echoing from these shells;  
Or they are but the ghosts, the dying swells  
Of noises far away?—list!”—Hereupon           915
He kept an anxious ear. The humming tone  
Came louder, and behold, there as he lay,  
On either side outgush’d, with misty spray,  
A copious spring; and both together dash’d  
Swift, mad, fantastic round the rocks, and lash’d           920
Among the conchs and shells of the lofty grot,  
Leaving a trickling dew. At last they shot  
Down from the ceiling’s height, pouring a noise  
As of some breathless racers whose hopes poize  
Upon the last few steps, and with spent force           925
Along the ground they took a winding course.  
Endymion follow’d—for it seem’d that one  
Ever pursued, the other strove to shun—  
Follow’d their languid mazes, till well nigh  
He had left thinking of the mystery,—           930
And was now rapt in tender hoverings  
Over the vanish’d bliss. Ah! what is it sings  
His dream away? What melodies are these?  
They sound as through the whispering of trees,  
Not native in such barren vaults. Give ear!           935
 “O Arethusa, peerless nymph! why fear  
Such tenderness as mine? Great Dian, why,  
Why didst thou hear her prayer? O that I  
Were rippling round her dainty fairness now,  
Circling about her waist, and striving how           940
To entice her to a dive! then stealing in  
Between her luscious lips and eyelids thin.  
O that her shining hair was in the sun,  
And I distilling from it thence to run  
In amorous rillets down her shrinking form!           945
To linger on her lily shoulders, warm  
Between her kissing breasts, and every charm  
Touch raptur’d!—See how painfully I flow:  
Fair maid, be pitiful to my great woe.  
Stay, stay thy weary course, and let me lead,           950
A happy wooer, to the flowery mead  
Where all that beauty snar’d me.”—“Cruel god,  
Desist! or my offended mistress’ nod  
Will stagnate all thy fountains:—tease me not  
With syren words—Ah, have I really got           955
Such power to madden thee? And is it true—  
Away, away, or I shall dearly rue  
My very thoughts: in mercy then away,  
Kindest Alpheus for should I obey  
My own dear will, ’twould be a deadly bane.”—           960
“O, Oread—Queen! would that thou hadst a pain  
Like this of mine, then would I fearless turn  
And be a criminal.”—“Alas, I burn,  
I shudder—gentle river, get thee hence.  
Alpheus! thou enchanter! every sense           965
Of mine was once made perfect in these woods.  
Fresh breezes, bowery lawns, and innocent floods,  
Ripe fruits, and lonely couch, contentment gave;  
But ever since I heedlessly did lave  
In thy deceitful stream, a panting glow           970
Grew strong within me: wherefore serve me so,  
And call it love? Alas, ’twas cruelty.  
Not once more did I close my happy eyes  
Amid the thrush’s song. Away! Avaunt!  
O ’twas a cruel thing.”—“Now thou dost taunt           975
So softly, Arethusa, that I think  
If thou wast playing on my shady brink,  
Thou wouldst bathe once again. Innocent maid!  
Stifle thine heart no more;—nor be afraid  
Of angry powers: there are deities           980
Will shade us with their wings. Those fitful sighs  
’Tis almost death to hear: O let me pour  
A dewy balm upon them!—fear no more,  
Sweet Arethusa! Dian’s self must feel  
Sometimes these very pangs. Dear maiden, steal           985
Blushing into my soul, and let us fly  
These dreary caverns for the open sky.  
I will delight thee all my winding course,  
From the green sea up to my hidden source  
About Arcadian forests; and will shew           990
The channels where my coolest waters flow  
Through mossy rocks; where, ’mid exuberant green,  
I roam in pleasant darkness, more unseen  
Than Saturn in his exile; where I brim  
Round flowery islands, and take thence a skim           995
Of mealy sweets, which myriads of bees  
Buzz from their honied wings: and thou shouldst please  
Thyself to choose the richest, where we might  
Be incense—pillow’d every summer night.  
Doff all sad fears, thou white deliciousness,           1000
And let us be thus comforted; unless  
Thou couldst rejoice to see my hopeless stream  
Hurry distracted from Sol’s temperate beam,  
And pour to death along some hungry sands.”—  
“What can I do, Alpheus? Dian stands           1005
Severe before me: persecuting fate!  
Unhappy Arethusa! thou wast late  
A huntress free in”—At this, sudden fell  
Those two sad streams adown a fearful dell.  
The Latmian listen’d, but he heard no more,           1010
Save echo, faint repeating o’er and o’er  
The name of Arethusa. On the verge  
Of that dark gulph he wept, and said: “I urge  
Thee, gentle Goddess of my pilgrimage,  
By our eternal hopes, to soothe, to assuage,           1015
If thou art powerful, these lovers pains;  
And make them happy in some happy plains.  
 He turn’d—there was a whelming sound—he stept,  
There was a cooler light; and so he kept  
Towards it by a sandy path, and lo!           1020
More suddenly than doth a moment go,  
The visions of the earth were gone and fled—  
He saw the giant sea above his head.

l. 34–38 Keats here alludes to the ill-success of his volume of 1817.

l. 39 “chaffing”: chafing.

l. 60 “pight”: placed.

l. 318 “zephyr-boughs among,” the common reading here, was probably in the mind of Keats. But with a poet of literary training so incomplete, so unconventional, and of such imaginative force, conjectural emendation, to which his abnormal phrases and rhythms tempt, is even more than ordinarily uncertain and undesirable.—The verbal peculiarities of Keats I have hence, also, in general left unnoticed. He copied much, no doubt, from our elder poets: but he also invents with the freedom which is one of the prerogatives of all Poetry, and of all language in a vital condition.

l. 400 tenting: perhaps, (it has been suggested to me), referring to the drapery of Adonis, stretched from knee to knee.

l. 443 Since Ariadne became companion to Dionysos.

l. 445 Vertumnus: This name, with Pomona, after the fashion of the Italian Renaissance, carries us abruptly from Hellenic to Graeco-Roman mythology.—The Cupid picture (l. 506) is classical, but in a similar vein.

l. 761 In this amorous extravagance,—which reminds us of the conceits of Lovelace, rather than of the Ancients,—it is probably idle to enquire why Ida is introduced.

l. 876 Hermes’ pipe: Argus was thus lulled to sleep as he was guarding Io, and slain by Hermes at command of Zeus.


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