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Forth sprang the impassioned queen
Again that consummation she essayed;
But unsubstantial form eludes her grasp
As often as that eager grasp was made.
The phantom parts-but parts to reunite,
And reassume his place before her sight.
"Protesilaus, lo! thy guide is gone!
Confirm, I pray, the vision with thy voice:
This is our palace,―yonder is thy throne;
Speak! and the floor thou tread'st on will rejoicc.
Not to appal me have the gods bestowed
This precious boon, and blest a sad abode."
"Great Jove, Laodamia, doth not leave
His gifts imperfect:-spectre though I be,
I am not sent to scare thee or deceive;
But in reward of thy fidelity.
And something also did my worth obtain;
For fearless virtue bringeth boundless gain.
"Thou know'st, the Delphic oracle foretold
That the first Greek who touched the Trojan strand Should die; but me the threat could not withhold
A generous cause a victim did demand;
And forth I leapt upon the sandy plain-
A self-devoted chief, by Hector slain."
"Supreme of heroes! bravest, noblest, best!
Thy matchless courage I bewail no more,
Which then, when tens of thousands were deprest
By doubt, propelled thee to the fatal shore;
Thou found'st—and I forgive thee—here thou art-—-
A nobler counsellor than my poor heart.
"But thou, though capable of sternest deed,
Wert kind as resolute, and good as brave;
And he whose power restores thee hath decreed
Thou shouldst elude the malice of the grave;
Redundant are thy locks, thy lips as fair
As when their breath enriched 'Thessalian air.
"No spectre greets me,—no vain shadow this;
Come, blooming hero, place thee by my side!
Give, on this well-known couch, one nuptial kiss
To me, this day a second time thy bride!"
Jove frowned in heaven; the conscious Parcæ threw
Upon those roseate lips a Stygian hue.
"This visage tells thee that
Nor should the change be mourned, even if the joys Of sense were able to return as fast
And surely as they vanish.
Those raptures duly-Erebus disdains;
Calm pleasures there abide-majestic pains.
"Be taught, O faithful consort, to control
Rebellious passion: for the gods approve
The depth, and not the tumult, of the soul;
A fervent, not ungovernable, love.
Thy transports moderate; and meekly mourn
When I depart, for brief is my sojourn "
Ah, wherefore ?-Did not Hercules by force
Wrest from the guardian monster of the tomb
Alcestis, a reanimated corse,
Given back to dwell on earth in vernal bloom?
Medea's spells dispersed the weight of years,
And Æson stood a youth 'mid youthful peers.
"The gods to us are merciful, and they
Yet further may relent; for mightier far
Than strength of nerve and sinew, or the sway
Of magic potent over sun and star,
Is love, though oft to agony distrest,
And though his favourite seat be feeble woman's breast.
"But if thou goest, I follow- "Peace!" he said ;
She looked upon him and was calmed and cheered; The ghastly colour from his lips had fled;
In his deportment, shape, and mien appeared Elysian beauty, melancholy grace,
Brought from a pensive, though a happy place.
He spake of love, such love as spirits feel
In worlds whose course is equable and pure;
No fears to beat away—no strife to heal—
The past unsighed for, and the future sure;
Spake of heroic arts in graver mood
Revived, with finer harmony pursued;
Of all that is most beauteous, imaged there
In happier beauty; more pellucid streams,
An ampler ether, a diviner air,
And fields invested with purpureal gleams;
Climes which the sun, who sheds the brightest day
Earth knows, is all unworthy to survey.
Yet there the soul shall enter which hath earned
That privilege by virtue.-" Ill," said he,
“The end of man's existence I discerned,
Who from ignoble games and revelry
Could draw, when we had parted, vain delight,
While tears were thy best pastime, day and night;
" And while my youthful peers before my eyes (Each hero following his peculiar bent) Prepared themselves for glorious enterprise
By martial sports, or, seated in the tent, Chieftains and kings in council were detained, What time the fleet at Aulis lay enchained.
"The wished-for wind was given ;-I then revolved
The oracle, upon the silent sea;
And, if no worthier led the way, resolved
That, of a thousand vessels, mine should be
The foremost prow in pressing to the strand-
Mine the first blood that tinged the Trojan sand.
"Yet bitter, ofttimes bitter, was the pang
When of thy loss I thought, beloved wife!
On thee too fondly did my memory hang,
And on the joys we shared in mortal life— The paths which we had trod—these fountains, flowers—— My new-planned cities, and unfinished towers.
"But should suspense permit the foe to cry,
Behold they tremble !—haughty their array,
Yet of their number no one dares to die?'
In soul I swept th' indignity away.
Old frailties then recurred;—but lofty thought,
In act embodied, my deliverance wrought.
"And thou, though strong in love, art all too weak
In reason, in self-government too slow;
I counsel thee by fortitude to seek
Our blest reunion in the shades below.
Th' invisible world with thee hath sympathized:
Be thy affections raised and solemnized.
"Learn, by a mortal yearning, to ascend,—
Seeking a higher object. Love was given,
Encouraged, sanctioned, chiefly for that end;
For this the passion to excess was driven,—
That self might be annulled-her bondage prove
The fetters of a dream, opposed to love."
Aloud she shrieked! for Hermes reappears!
Round the dear shade she would have clung,-'tis vain ; The hours are past,—too brief had they been years;
And him no mortal effort can detain.
Swift, toward the realms that know not earthly day,
He through the portal takes his silent way,
And on the palace floor a lifeless corse she lay.
Thus, all in vain exhorted and reproved,
She perished; and, as for a wilful crime,
By the just gods, whom no weak pity moved,
Was doomed to wear out her appointed time,
Apart from happy ghosts, that gather flowers
Of blissful quiet 'mid unfading bowers.
-Yet tears to human suffering are due;
And mortal hopes defeated and o'erthrown
Are mourned by man, and not by man alone,
As fondly he believes.—Upon the side
Of Hellespont (such faith was entertained)
A knot of spiry trees for ages grew
From out the tomb of him for whom she died;
And ever, when such stature they had gained
That Ilium's walls were subject to their view,
The trees' tall summits withered at the sight;
A constant interchange of growth and blight.