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For there was Milton like a seraph strong,
And there the Ionian father of the rest;
A million wrinkles carved his skin;
Above, the fair hall-ceiling stately-set
Many an arch high up did lift,
Below was all mosaic choicely planned
With cycles of the human tale
The people here, a beast of burden slow, ^
Toiled onward, pricked with goads and stmgs; Here played, a tiger, rolling to and fro The heads and crowns of kings;
Here rose, an athlete, strong to break or bind
All force in bonds that might endure, And here once more like some sick man declined, And trusted any cure.
But over these she trod: and those great bells
Began to chime. She took her throne:
And through the topmost Oriels' colored flame
Two godlike faces gazed below:
And all those names, that in their motion were
Full-welling fountain-heads of change, Betwixt the slender shafts were blazoned fair In diverse raiment strange:
Through which the lights, rose, amber, emerald, blue
Flushed in her temples and her eyes, And from her lips, as morn from Memnon, drew Rivers of melodies.
No nightingale delighteth to prolong
Her low preamble all alone,
Singing and murmuring in her feastful mirth,
Joying to feel herself alive,
Communing with herself: "All these are mine,
And let the world have peace or wars,
Making sweet close of his delicious toils—
To mimic heaven; and clapt her hands and cried,
"I marvel if my still delight
"O all things fair to sate my various eyes!
"O God-like isolation which art mine,
I can but count thee perfect gain,
"In filthy sloughs they roll a prurient skin,
Then of the moral instinct would she prate,
And of the rising from the dead,
"I take possession of man's mind and deed.
I care not what the sects may brawl. I sit as God, holding no form of creed, But contemplating all."
* * * *
* * * *
Full oft the riddle of the painful earth
And so she throve and prospered: so three years
She prospered: on the fourth she fell, Like Herod, when the shout was in his ears, Struck through with pangs of hell.
Lest she should fail and perish utterly,
God, before whom ever lie bare The abysmal deeps of Personality, Plagued her with sore despair.
When she would think,where'er she turnedJier sight,
The airy hand confusion wrought, Wrote "Mene, mene," and divided quite The kingdom of her thought.
Deep dread and loathing of her solitude
Fell on her, from which mood was born Scorn of herself,* again, from out that mood Laughter at her self-scorn.
u What! is not this my place of strength," she said,
"My spacious mansion built for me, Whereof the strong foundation-stones were laid Since my first memory?"
But in dark corners of her palace stood
Uncertain shapes; and unawares On white-eyed phantasms weeping tears of blood, And horrible nightmares,
And hollow shades enclosing hearts of flame,
And, with dim fretted foreheads all,
A spot of dull stagnation, without light
Or power of movement, seemed my soul, 'Mid onward-sloping motions infinite Making for one sure goal.
A still salt pool, locked in with bars of sand;
Left on the shore; that hears all night The plunging seas draw backward from the land Their moon-led waters white.
A star that with the choral starry dance
Joined not, but stood, and standing saw The hollow orb of moving Circumstance Rolled round by one fixed law.
Back on herself her serpent pride had curled."No voice," she shrieked in that lone hall, "No voice breaks through the stillness ofthis world, One deep, deep silence all!"
She, mouldering with the dull earth's mouldering
And death and life she hated equally,
And nothing saw, for her despair,
Remaining utterly confused with fears,
Shut up as in a crumbling tomb, girt round
With blackness as a solid wall,
As in strange lands a traveller walking slow,
In doubt and great perplexity,
And knows not if it be thunder or a sound
She howled aloud, " I am on fire within.
There comes no murmur of reply. What is it that will take away my sin, And save me lest I die?"
So when four years were wholly finished,
She threw her royal robes away. "Make me a cottage in the vale," she said. "Where I may mourn and pray.