Works of Annie Fields
UNDER THE OLIVE
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co.
"The great of old!
The dead, but sceptred sovereigns, who still rule
Our spirits from their urns"
Image of the original cover from the Hathi Trust.
TO THE LYRIC MUSE
TO THE POETESS
THE LAST CONTEST OF ÆSCHYLUS
THE LANTERN OF SESTOS
APHRODITE OF MELOS
AT THE FORGE
ELEGY TO DAPHNIS
THE RETURN OF PERSEPHONE
NOT BY WILL AND NOT IN STRIVING
[ Contents ] [ Notes ]
FRAGRANCE of youth,
With thy light and thy joy,
Thy rapture and truth;
Thou art not man's toy,
Thou shalt break not nor vanish,
Nor thee shall any destroy
Youth must ever endure
In the heart of the pure,
And the leaves be uncurled
That sleep in the bosom of spring;
And the banners unfurled
Of the flower de luce;
They bring truce
To winter and labor, they sing
The tale of the garden,
Where after the heat of the day man may rest.
But the world has grown old,
And forgets to be blest,
And to laugh in the garden at noon;
He is gray,
He remembers the passions of men;
For their sake
He is sad, he is cold,
And cries, "Behold death cometh soon."
O youth of the world,
Thou wert sweet!
In thy bud
Slept nor canker nor pain;
In the blood
Of thy grape was no frost and no rain;
I love thee!
I follow thy feet!
The youth of my heart,
And the deathless fire
Leap to embrace thee;
And nigher, and nigher,
Through the darkness of grief and the smart,
Thy form do I see.
But the tremulous hand of the years
Has brought me a friend.
Beautiful gift beyond price!
Beyond loss, beyond tears!
Hither she stands, clad in a veil.
O thou youth of the world!
She was a stranger to thee,
Thou didst fear her and flee.
Sorrow is her name;
And the face of Sorrow is pale;
But her heart is aflame
With a fire no winter can tame.
Her love will not bend
To the storm,
To the voices of pleasure,
Nor faint in the arms of the earth;
But she followeth ever the form
Of the Master whose promise is sure,
Who knows both our death and our birth.
Sorrow, thou gift of time!
What were man's day without thee!
Thou art his prime, and nought
Can sever his thought
Utterly from this earthly sea,
Till thy hand be laid within his,
And thy tender lips
Give to thine own, thy chosen, the sacred kiss.
Fear her not!
Stilly the bird slips
Into the heart of the tree;
We had forgot,
Save for her,
Love is less brief than the spring.
She is the worshipper!
Every green thing,
The passing of clouds,
The shadow of birds,
And wandering in the garden-land that lies
Between the pinnacles of fame and the great sea,
Are dear to her.
Dear to her eyes
Are the white-breasted youth,
And clear-cut shadows of the olive boughs;
The slender maid,
White oxen with calm brows,
And grace that shrouds
The hero unafraid.
But ah! they loved her not and they have passed.
Weeping they struggled with resistless waves:
Then in the vast unknown abysm they cast
Their mighty limbs,
And sank to wander in dark caves.
If, Sorrow, we have loved thee over well,
And have forgot to frame the sacred hymns
To the young year or the late ripening vine,
And learned instead some piteous tale to tell,
Thou wilt forgive the hearts that must repine.
Thy heart is brave!
Thou dost not waste thyself in tears,
But standest on the hillock of the grave
To point us higher with the greatening years.
TO THE LYRIC MUSE.
WRITTEN IN AUTUMN.
[ Contents ] [ Notes ]
WHY dost thou linger, now the lamps are out!
Why dost thou stay, the roses being dead!
What is thy joy, now the white swan is fled
To southern gardens lapped by southern seas!
No more for thee the laughter and the shout,
Nor youthful forms outstretched in summer ease.
No more, and yet thy pallid figure roams
Adown the alleys, over faded leaves,
And where through misty beams the grape still weaves
A broken tracery on the faded grass;
Over what unseen bed of amaranth comes
Odor to thee, our sense knows not, alas!
Thy darkling passion now doth seem to feed
On briny perfumes of the eastern gale;
Vapors of morning fold thee in their veil;
And in the noonday silently rain down
Out of bright skies the acorn and the seed;
Yet dost thou breathe a rapture all thine own.
Wilt thou not show me where thy spirit feeds,
And where the roses of thy desire still bloom,
The swan indeed being fled, and earth a tomb!
Wilt thou not bring me where the wondrous voice,
Hiding with spring-time in the falling seeds,
May bid the heart of dying men rejoice!
TO THE POETESS.
TO THE POETESS.
[ Contents ] [ Notes ]
DAUGHTER of Love! Out of the flowing river,
Bearing the tide of life upon its billow,
Down to that gulf where love and song together
Sink and must perish:
Out of that fatal and resistless current,
One little song of thine to thy great mother,
Treasured upon the heart of earth forever,
Alone is rescued.
Yet when spring comes, and weary is the spirit,
When love is here, but absent is the lover,
And life is here, and only love is dying,
Then turn we, longing,
Singer to thee! Through acres unforgotten;
Where beats the heart of one who in her loving
Sang, all for love, and gave herself in singing
To the sea's bosom.
THE LAST CONTEST OF ÆSCHYLUS.
[ Contents ] [ Notes ]
SILENCE from out the arch of measureless heaven
Looked down upon the foaming sea of men,
Where grace and beauty and the strength of earth
Filled Athens' amphitheatre to its verge.
The limitless horizon of her pride
Widened that day in Greece, when there returned
Kimon, and brought the bones of Theseus home.
Then many a singer offered up his song;
But Æschylus, with weight of many years
O'erladen, master of the tragic art,
Wearing both age and honor in one crown,
Green laurel, but o'ersilvered, led the way.
The myriad-braided voices sprang like one,
Up to the stillness as the poet trod
That stage once more, where glory oft had stooped
From the bright heaven and kissed him as her child.
The leaves of glory's crown were still the same,
From spring-time round through all the seasons' change,
Or grown more beautiful after summers' past.
Now in the falling autumn, while the winds
Of winter blew across his scanty days,
He gathered up life's embers, laid thereto
The fires of slow experience, till uprose
Again therefrom the poet's magic forms,
Beckoning the eye of fame once more to earth.
Proudly he bore a scroll, though heavy age
Delayed his feet, and proudly laid it down
Before the judges; then he passed as one
Whose duty done turns him to other thoughts.
But in the train that followed, as must be
Forever in the footsteps of the great,
Came a long line of weaklier aspirants,
Who make desire co-equal with the deed,
Or gazing at the sun of self, see blots
Where the great sun should be! These also passed
Before the patient judges, with their scrolls.
Last in the train came one, the youngest form
And noblest, moving in true harmony
To the glad sound of music still prolonged,
And wearing on his brow the light that shines
From the first coming star, ere sunset dies.
And Æschylus loved the boy, whom, when be heard
The people greet, he turned and smiled on him;
He saw not that the youth had laid a scroll,
Even he, and proudly, at the judges' feet.
But now the games succeeded, then a pause,
And after came the judges with the scrolls;
Two scrolls, not one, as in departed years.
And this saw none but the youth, Sophocles,
Who stood with head erect and shining eyes,
As if the beacon of some promised land
Caught his strong vision and entranced it there.
Then while the earth made mimicry of heaven
With stillness, calmly spake the mightiest judge:
"O Æschylus! The father of our song!
Athenian master of the tragic lyre
Thou the incomparable! Swayer of strong hearts!
Immortal minstrel of immortal deeds!
The autumn grows apace, and all must die;
Soon winter comes, and silence. Æschylus!
After that silence laughs the tuneful spring!
Read'st thou our meaning through this slender veil
Of nature's weaving? Sophocles, stand forth!
Behold fame calls thee to her loftiest seat,
And bids thee wear her crown. Stand forth, I say! "
Then, like a fawn, the youthful poet sprang
From the dark thicket of new crowding friends,
And stood, a straight, lithe form with gentle mien,
Crowned first with light of happiness and youth.
But Æschylus, the old man, bending lower
Under this new chief weight of all the years,
Turned from that scene, turned from the shouting crowd,
Whose every voice wounded his dying soul
With arrows poison-dipped, and walked alone,
Forgotten, under plane-trees, by the stream.
"The last! The last! Have I no more to do
With this sweet world! Is the bright morning now
No longer fraught for me with crowding song!
Will evening bring no unsought fruitage home!
Must the days pass and these poor lips be dumb,
While strewing leaves sing falling through the air,
And autumn gathers in her richest fruit!
Where is my spring departed! Where, O gods!
Within my spirit still the building birds
I hear, with voice more tender than when, leaves
Are budding and the happy earth is gay.
Am I, indeed, grown dumb for evermore!
Take me, O bark! Take me thou flowing stream!
Who knowest nought of death save when thy waves
Rush to new life upon the ocean's breast.
Bear thou me singing to the under world!
From earth's lone pastures to the changeless sea
Beyond the caves of death, where life is young.
[ Contents ] [ Notes ]
Enter the son and grandson of Sophocles, IOPHON and the YOUNG SOPHOCLES.
I AM the elder!
And I the latest born!
Therefore, perchance, of all the best beloved.
Yet right is mine, I am the lawful heir.
Is it not right to give what is our own
As we would list?
No! Always the first-born
Holds a just claim.
Indeed I know that well,
But thou dost claim the whole or largest part.
And justly, too! Thou art a bastard son.;
Better be that and dutiful, than as thou.
Ha! What sayest thou? Is it, then, come to this!
[They seize their weapons.
SOPHOCLES enters, bowed with years. He speaks.
Children, I pray, if still ye love me, hold!
Go, Iophon, they call thee in the courts!
To thy book, Sophocles, and the sounding rhyme.
[They go out.
What shall be done with these two braggart boys?
In their first youth I joyed in their warm blood,
And took too little heed lest want of love
Might breed an angry discord at the last;
And now behold they have reached man's estate,
But in the garden of their hearts is found
No fruit or blossom of fraternal good.
MESSENGER enters and speaks.
Sophocles, thou art summoned to the courts.
Upon what plea am I thus hither called?
To prove how old thou art, and how unfit
Justly to give away the goods thou hast.
This, Iophon, alas! must be thy deed!
Hath jealousy thee taught to hate thy sire?
The gods give strength and arm me with their love!
Must the world seek to find the ravages,
The rents and fissures of these wintry years,
Young love should cover with the leaves of spring!
Do men seek these! Then come, my dipus!
Thou shalt with me, companion of my age!
[He takes tenderly in his hand the scroll containing his dipus Coloneus. They go out.
SCENE: The Court Room. Judges, a large concourse of people, and the son and grandson of SOPHOCLES. Enter Messenger, followed by the aged poet who bears the scroll.
Bowed half with age and half with reverence thus,
I, Sophocles, now answer to your call;
Questioned have I the cause and the reason learned.
Lo, I am here that all the world may see
These feeble limbs that signal of decay!
But, know ye, ere the aged oak must die,
Long after the strong years have bent his form,
The spring still gently weaves a leafy crown,
Fresh as of yore to deck his wintry head.
And now, O people mine, who have loved my song,
Ye shall be judges if the spring have brought
Late unto me, the aged oak, a crown.
Hear ye once more, ere yet the river of sleep
Bear me away far on its darkening tide,
The music breathed upon me from these fields.
If to your ears, alas! the shattered strings
No longer sing, but breathe a discord harsh,
I will return and draw this mantle close
About my head and lay me down to die.
But if ye hear the wonted spirit call,
Framing the natural song that fills this world
To a diviner form, then shall ye all believe
The love I bear to those most near to me
Is living still, and living cannot wrong;
To me, it seems, the love I bear to thee,
Athens, blooms fresh as violets in yon wood,
Making new spring within this aged breast.
[He reads the chorus in praise of the sacred grove of Colonus.
"Stranger! The station of stallions,
Fairest of spots hast thou chosen,
Colonus the glistening.
Here in fresh blooming thickets
The nightingale hides her;
And pours her sweet sorrow
'Mid thick-growing ivy and shadows the gods love;
Here trees with fruit laden,
By storm-winds untouched,
And by mortals unshaken;
Here Bacchus the reveller,
Chief loves to wander,
By nymph-gods encircled."
"And here on this spot dews of heaven
Have watered and fed fair Narcissus,
Each day freshly blooming,
For time-honored wreaths of two goddesses;
And here is the golden-leaved crocus,
And here are unsealed the sleepless
Streams of Kephissos,
That fail not, but ever are rippling
Through plains and rich pastures,
Gathering the unsullied rain drops
From wide-breasted hill-sides,
Scorned by no choir of the Muses,
Nor yet by gold-reined Aphrodite."
"Here marvel unknown unto Asia,
Or unto the famed isle, the Dorian,
Grows unnursed of the gardener;
Blue-green olive grove,
Blest of her children,
Terror of the enemy,
Of this green earth the glory!
Never in blossom,
Nor in fading of autumn,
Shall command slay thy beauty;
For Zeus the protector
Of fruits watches ever,
And blue-eyed Athene."
"Praise all others excelling
I bring for thy chief pride, thy greatest,
Gift of our father, the sea-god;
Taming of horses and waters,
These are the pride of our mother,
Granted our home and our city,
Poseidon, by thee;
Thou, the bridle subduing,
First brought to these waysides,
And the oar too, shapely, foam-flinging,
Beckoning the crowd, hundred-footed,
Of Nereids following ever,
And dancing around in the billows."
Land of all lands, with loftiest praises crowned,
Prove now if thou deserve this shining wreath.
He is silent. The people shout.
Sophocles, Child of Athens! The deathless one!
[He is borne away triumphant upon the shoulders of the people.
[ Contents ] [ Notes ]
BEHOLD I am the third!
Third comer and third choice!
The godliest one hath passed! yet the blue dome of heaven
Echoes his word repeated through the unmeasured air,
Bidding the people bow and worship the gods and their deeds.
Is there one to lead them now and bring them forth to the seats,
Circle on circle filled with a nation waiting to hear!
Æschylus gone, -- who else may interpret the gods to men!
Time is less long than his fame, yet do men ask a new thing.
I could not do the work of my master, of Æschylus, no!
But my heart is stirred for the heart of a people waiting for song,
Waiting to hear of beauty and joy and a love divine
Which sleep in the darkest ways and wake to a master's wand.
Patience, my heart! Have I not said that I was the third!
Sophocles now is king, and royally weareth the crown.
See how the people follow, see how they crowd to the seats,
Breathing the breath of Colonus brought on his picturing words.
See how they weep with Antigone, noblest sister and child,
Awed, by her presence enchanted, and dipus god-smitten, old.
Is there no place for me! Why with a breast grown warm,
Warm with desire to answer their thoughts and questioning eyes,
That turn to the east and west, and ask of the north and south,
Turning no more to their gods but keeping aloof in their dread,
Is there no room for another, for me, whose spirit hath known
Sorrow of life and sorrow of death and the hero's soul?
One who hath known the sweetness of woman, her glory and crown?
One who hath known of her shame, deepest blackness of earth?
Hear me, hear me, ye people! Long have I wrought for your love,
Leading you into the clear bright air from the noise of the courts,
Telling you nought of the gods, for what can I know of their ways!
But the ways of our brothers we see, we feel both their sadness and pain.
Polyxena dying for freedom, and they who have died for truth,
Others, those glad bright spirits, who died for love,
These are of us! Ah, brothers and sisters, our joy and our pain
Are like unto theirs! Hear ye the music, see but the light
Breathed from these living words, or kindled by death's dim torch.
Suddenly was he still; closed were those pleading lips:
Ended the long desire, ended laborious days;
Silent the fountain of song from rivulet and from fell.
Sophocles came, the master, the old man, leaving a tear
Ages have loved to treasure there on Euripides' grave.
Latest born of the three! Who shall dare name the most great!
Poet whose air repeated saved the Athenian walls,
Grieving for sad Electra, still do thy warm tears fall!
Gods of Greece! ye are cold and old as marble and clay;
Songs of Euripides! young are ye, fresh as the shade of Cithæron.
THE LANTERN OF SESTOS
[ Contents ] [ Notes ]
ALL for my guilt and his deed, Zeus gives us a doom that is dreadful,
Ever to live in the songs and to be a theme for the minstrels.
ILIAD. -- E. Arnold.
ICH fühle mich so fern und doch so nah,
Und sage nur zu geen: da bin ich! da!
Ich scheine mir verlebt und doch so neu
In dich verwebt, dem Unbekannten treu.
HELENA. -- Second Part of Faust.
I AM Helen of Argos,
I am Helen of Sparta,
I, the daughter of Egypt,
I, the inflamer of Troy;
See me, Helen, still shining,
There where shines great Achilles;
Blossoms of summer I bring ye
Born not of shadows nor dreams.
Early from Argos he bore me,
Theseus, inconstant of lovers;
Early in Argos he bound me,
He, Menelaus the King;
Queen of the court and of feasting,
Queen of the hearth and the temple,
Goddess and priestess and mother,
Holding Hermione's hand.
There in the chambers of purple,
Fair as the statues he gathered,
Worshipped by great Menelaus,
I, his Helen, remained;
Pure as when Theseus snatched me,
First from the temple of Dian,
Dancing the dances of childhood,
Bare to her ivory floors.
Theseus snatched me and held me,
Hiding me far in Aphidnai;
Quickly I slipped from his covert,
I, no longer enslaved.
Ah! Menelaus the gentle,
Gently but strongly he bound me;
Lo! with the ships I departed, --
Ships that were sailing for Troy.
Paris had beckoned me hither;
Waves were leaping around me,
Whispering of freedom and gladness,
Paris whispered of love;
Thus in the meshes entangled
Woven by hard Aphrodite,
Lost was I, slave to her service,
She, the compeller of men.
There on the turrets of Troia,
Watching the combat of heroes,
There in the eye of the noble,
Sent she a woman to me;
Calling me hence to serve Paris,
He, the lascivious, the perfumed,
She, the compeller, she drove me
Hence in the faces of all.
Slave was I, bound was I, Helen!
Once the queen of the hearth-side;
Bond was I, scorned, yet the mother,
Queen of Hermione's heart;
Gazing on Hector the princely, --
Dead, and Andromache weeping,
Tears were not mine! Alas deeper
Lay my smart and my pain.
Hector, my brother belovèd!
Dear to me, far above others,
Here on thy body lamenting
I, too, echo thy praise!
Listen, Andromache, listen!
Out of the deepness of silence
Calleth a voice unto thee:
"Calm, O belovèd, O dear one,
Calm are the valleys of Orcus,
Restful the streams and dim alleys
Shut from the clamor of men;
Restful to him who has labored,
Labored and loved and is waiting, --
Waiting to hold in his bosom
Child and mother again."
Hear me, Andromache; listen!
This is for thee, but for Helen
All is voiceless and barren,
Silent the valley of shades;
Faded her joy with the blossoms,
Dead on the heart of the summer!
Kypris, goddess, ah! free me,
Slave and child of thy will.
Long through the ages I suffered,
Suffered the calling of lovers;
Down through the ages I followed,
Won by the bidding of Faust;
Strong, unsubdued, and immortal,
I, the young mother of Sparta,
Stand here and bring ye these blossoms,
Fresh as the children of spring.
Down to the ships went the captives,
Unwilling procession of sorrow,
Cassandra behind Agamemnon,
Andromache bound with the rest.
I, Helen, walked with my husband;
Level my glance of pure azure,
Rosy my checks, lest the Spartans
Think less well of their king.
Helen, that years could not alter,
Nor bees that deflower the lilies, --
Helen, child of immortals,
Holding the reins of his steed;
Thus through the gateway of Sparta,
When the fires of Troy ware extinguished,
Proud in his gladness and glory,
Proudly I brought them their king.
One sang, "Base was their Helen;"
I, standing far above splendor,
Calm in the circle of godhead,
Moved not by striving of men,
Heard thus Stesichorus the singer,
Mad raver, a poet, a mortal,
While the gods and the heroes immortal
Struck the perjurer blind with their glance.
No longer he seeth where beauty
Abideth untouched of the earth-stained;
No more shall he mark in her coming
Persephone's noiseless feet;
No more, when Helen approacheth,
Shall he know the star of her forehead,
And Helen the false shall decoy him
With wiles and tales of her own.
Lovers, ah lovers inconstant!
Ye have slain but the form and the semblance,
Know ye your Helen has vanished
And sleeps on a hero's breast.
Hers is the fire undying,
The light and the flame of the singer,
The mariner's lamp and his beacon,
His harbor of home and his rest.
Half proudly ended thus the queen her tale,
And ere the listener knew her notes were stilled
Behold another singer took the strain.
This other was a youth who once had loved,
Or thought he loved, a maid who loved him not,
And here he told the story of his love,
Which was not love, alas! the lady said;
She sat and sang thus to him in the dusk,
And still at dusk he ever hears her song.
"'T was in dim ages of the world;
(The tale is true, too true!)
When first the fires of passion curled
The leaf-buds of the heart, and whirled
Their ashes to the blue.
"In Dian's temple danced a child;
(The tale is true, too true!)
Brave Theseus there, with passion wild,
Stole, stole away the dancing child,
(The tale no more is new.)
"Her brothers captured her again;
(Too old the tale, too old!)
She was their joy, she was their pain,
Of Helen was their only strain;
(Thus is the old tale told.)
"The king of Sparta sought her hand;
(Too old the tale, too old!)
No prince her beauty could withstand,
Her fame was spread through every land;
(The tale has not grown cold.)
"The king of Sparta bore her home;
(Too true the tale, too true!)
Through his vast halls her footsteps roam,
And hearts are glad where'er she come;
(O yes, the tale is true!)
"Upon Mount Ida there was one
(The tale said) feeding sheep;
The goddess whispered him alone,
He left her home of leaf and stone
And sought the clouded deep.
"He came by day to Sparta's walls;
(Ah me! where was the king!)
A welcome guest throughout the halls,
And Helen, the fair queen, he calls,
Her women dainties bring.
"Thou shalt away with me, he said;
(In the tale, be whispered low.)
A silver veil on the sea was spread,
A snowy mantle about her head;
(Alas! he whispered low.)
"Silent the glimmering statues stand;
(The tale has all come true!)
Silent the lovely Grecian land,
Speechless the softly murmuring sand,
And the waves the ship sailed through.
"What is fair, if false be fair!
(The tale was never false.)
Never hath faded the golden hair,
Beauty of Helen unchanged and rare,
Not false, nor faded, nor pale.
"Never to Troy did Helen go;
(Say, canst thou read the song!)
Never unfaith true Helen know;
False Helen! Away! She is white as snow,
Helen the queen of my song."
The low mysterious wail wherewith he voiced
The mystery of his singing scarce had ceased,
When lo! another brought a little plaint
Of love and death, and love that cannot die.
"Ah, lonely, lonely is the wide blue sea,
And lonely are the summer fields at noon,
Yet the waves dance, and the fields laugh in glee,
Though nought be left for me!
"Life may be joy to such as know not love!
But we who know, know that our joy must die,
And dying, carry onward, far above,
The light by which we move.
"Love is not less that may not all be seen;
But, watched for like the planet of the dawn,
It beckons us behind a cloudy screen,
While the waves roll between."
And still another singer, with eyes bent
Afar, as on that beacon light he gazed,
Seen by the warder who, for ten long years,
Swept the horizon toward the Trojan plains,
Till the great day when rising into heaven
The mountain tops rehearsed the flames of Troy, --
Such was his gaze, as one who knew the light
Were waiting to appear, and he could wait,
Assured of victory and the day of peace:
And thus he sang his song of Helena: --
"I follow thee,
Run to thee, as the streamlet to the main!
What green repose for me!
No music and no luring sun or shade
Can still the beat of my desire, O maid,
Or my fond heart detain.
"Thou lead'st me on!
I struggle and forever I aspire,
Till days and years be done.
After thy feet how beautiful the vales!
How beautiful, beyond Arabian tales,
Apollo's golden fire!
"I grasp, I fail!
I cannot seize the crystal cup she holds;
I hear her sweet 'All hail!'
Then faint and fall, and senseless lie and blind,
Till waking, but her empty robe I find,
Which my weak arm enfolds."
Impatient for the end then lastly spake
A carver in his pride: "Better than all
Your shifting notes of love that cannot die
The marble where the form of truth endures.
There shall man's eye forever see her shape
Uplifted to the gaze of hurrying crowds
Who press down toward the ships to see her pass;
Not of the weeping company of those
Who follow at the conqueror's nod is she,
But with eyes downward bent and reddening blush
She walks, revolving many a sombre thought.
Then, in his house of wood, with flaxen sails,
She floats a queen across the fateful seas,
Until the king restore her to her home.
Thus ever to the future Helen stands,
Carven triumphant in her chariot,
Entering anew the unbarred Spartan gates."*
He ceased; but as the fluttering swallows meet
In earliest autumn near some cove, nor hear
Nor see intruders, learning busily
Their future, or rehearsing happy days,
Twittering of joys remembered ere they go
Into the silence, whither we know not!
So did this murmuring ring of singers fail,
Perchance, to hear the carver, but still sang,
In music half unheard for falling leaves,
Of Helen, Helen, Helen, through the dale,
And Helen, Helen, Helen, on the hills,
Till with the winds the undying murmur slept.
* See bas-relief in the Campana Museum.
[ Contents ] [ Notes ]
MORNING'S blue heaven wherein birds rest and float
And rise to levels of new life! a note
Of joy dropping by chance as in a dream
To one who wanders by a sunlit stream,
And heard by him as he who waits and hears
At length, amid the falling of his tears,
The voice of love; and while his heart is strained
To bear joy's fullness, even then is pained
By the loud moaning of prophetic seas,
Drowning the pleasant laughter of the trees,
And weaving in his bliss a thread of woe;
Such is our day, such is our morning hour!
A gladness none can measure, heaven must know;
A sadness that no season and no balm
May heal, nor sun that follows any shower;
Nor, after tempest, the great golden calm.
Nothing may heal save the unaided might
Of him who scorns not labor; he who bears
Scorn unto labor ever shall be slave;
But he who finds no dark in labor's night
He shall be king, and the bright crown he wears
Will shine with stars above the sluggard's grave[.]
Herakles, brother of men and child of Jove,
Greatened apace; his beauty was a strength
And his strength beauty; and the spirit of rest
Loved to alight upon his shining brow.
But chiefly on his lips and forehead shone
Endeavor, and a wish to succor all,
And his were hands to grasp and hold at need.
When through Nemean woods the lion raged
Shouted the people, "Bring us Herakles,
He only may deliver the race of men."
Prometheus from his place in Hades heard
That cry, and like a last keen vulture shaft,
Keenest of all, his wounds it tore afresh:
"Have I not also served this mortal race,"
He cried; "I, bearer of the torch, who gave
Light and deliverance from the hate of Jove.
Why am I thus forgot! Why do they cry,
And Herakles their sole deliverer call!
Why do they love me not, nor give me room,
As highest good and therefore highest god;
Why amid shadows must I ever stray,
When I have loved and labored among men!
And now the fickle race, for whom, through years
Uncounted, I more pangs than mortals have
Endured within this frame of godlike mould,
Cries out to Herakles, nor thinks again
On him who raised and made them what they are."
This, with an ear bent ever to the ills
Of others, heard and answered Herakles:
"Prometheus, my brother! Thou who hast
The temper and the nature of a god,
Heed thou my counsel who have felt thy pain!
"First in the courts of heaven and fields of earth
One king may reign, -- one only! Nor may gods,
Doing great deeds, think that themselves are king;
But, doing greatly, thus may learn how great
The father Jove, who may transcend in all
What all have done. He may delay to send
Fire on earth, yet fire was his to send,
And thou didst steal it. Thou didst waken earth
From morning into day, from child to man,
From dream to action, while the Lord of heaven
Lingered to watch his children at their play.
Then wert thou punished, and to me remained
To help the children in their tasks and toils,
The new-born labors of these later days.
But, now again, the Lord demands of thee
To render up the secret thou hast learned,
Or else return to suffer; what thou hast heard
By earth's new-kindled fires that should'st thou give
Into Jove's keeping, lest insurgent man,
Joined by thine aid with the insurgent gods,
Bring death to earth and anarchy to heaven.
Lo! while I speak the dreadful Caucasus
Again awaits thy coming, and the dark bird
Of death sharpens for thee afresh his beak.
My brother, O my brother, thou must go!
But I will follow thee and watch thy pangs,
More dreaded than to bear them, till I hear
Wrought, not by all these centuries of pain,
But by the light of truth I bring to thee,
And by the love I ever bear to thee,
Until I hear thee whisper, 'It is done;
The will I cherish, lo! is cherished first
In the vast cradle of obedience, --
Obedience to law, and to his name
Who stands and holds the law within his hand.'
Then with a mighty joy this might of strength
To quicken, and, with a blow sharpened by all
Thy pain, I smite the gorging vulture dead.
Behold! I hear the voice of Jove in heaven!
Perchance, if one could hear thee say, ''T is well,
Obedience in a god is god-like. Lo!
My sin and weakness sting me deeper now
Than doth the vulture; now at last I learn
He shall be greatest who shall know one law
Governs each moving star and the courts of Jove;
And who would stay one planet in his flight,
By the delaying of that car, is flung
Into eternal dark and boundless space,
Where nor his name nor fame lives evermore.'
Perchance, O brother, if thy heart should now
Thus whisper unto mine, the infinite Love
Would give thee peace and bid thee come up higher.
Lo! now I hear the music of the courts!
Bend thou thine ear, and, listening, bow thy will."
"Heaven is their home,
But dark is the passing,
And half-gods are many,
Who climb to the sheep-fold,
Nor follow my teaching.
Prometheus the daring,
Hiding his counsels.
"Bitter his fate!
I, Jove, the ruler,
May not subdue him;
Yet there remaineth
Still my forgiveness.
"Conquered at last
By love and by longing,
By Herakles' striving, --
His greatest of labors,--
Thus the night endeth.
"Gods hold him fast!
Gird ye his armor,
Sharpen the arrow,
Speed to its hiding
In the heart of the vulture."
"The music of the upper world is borne
Like a vast light which points me out the way
Nor syllables nor voices do I hear;
But as the flight of fiery orbs through space
Makes music in the heavens, so do I see
A light which is all melody, and hear
A voice unfolding clear the higher path.
"Twelve mighty labors have these hands performed
Lest the night come and find no trace of good,
No difficult way made easier to the feet,
Because these days have been, and this hard life.
But now past toils are all as nought to me,
Who, climbing still new heights, must still aspire;
O father, give me power to save thy child!
What were all other joy compared to this!
What were all other victories, and what
All other labor, if the endless nights
Be counted, and the darkened dreadful days
Beside that sickening couch on the unveiled mount.
I go, I go, O guard and strengthen me;
Behold all fear is past, all sense of pain,
Save the divine unrest, the ceaseless flight
Of spirit winging toward the eternal peace."
VOICE FROM ON HIGH.
Since on earth there is prayer and desire,
And the love of a brother mounteth higher
Than flames or than temples and towers,
And fairer than fanes or than flowers;
In the court of my temple immortal,
And sheltered within the bright portal,
Prometheus, the god-like, forgiven,
Is seeking the service of heaven.
And rescued afar in his dying,
For new griefs of men and their sighing,
Comes Herakles, he who delivers;
The son of the gods, who are givers.
On the right hand of majesty seated,
Crowned with grace of his labors completed,
As one who but now were beginning
To succor earth's children from sinning;
He follows their feet in their failing,
He stills their wild cries and their wailing,
And leaves the bright trail of his story
To lead their sad hearts unto glory.
[ Contents ] [ Notes ]
OVER dusky fields afar,
Guided by the shepherd star,
When the sun hath sunk to rest,
And birds are hurrying toward their nest, --
See athwart the silvery night
Where Artemis pursues her flight.
Goddess of the shining bow,
Teach my willing feet to know
Paths across thy woodland glen
Where thou shun'st the face of men;
Yet where thou call'st thy love to thee,
However far his feet may be!
Night can wear no pall so dark
To hide from him thy glistering mark;
Nor the cavern's deepest shade
Ever shall make him afraid:
His lowly, glad, persistent tread
Follows where thy footsteps lead.
Troops of maidens thee attend,
Thou, their earliest, truest friend!
Beckoning them through dawn and dew
Where the world is ever new.
Encompassed is thy form by them,
As the gold enspheres the gem.
In the noontide's fiery glow
Limbs they stretch of purest snow,
Where the beechen branches cool
Shadow some white-lilied pool.
But if rude feet profane the way,
Or curious eyes unloving stray,
Darkly plotting that to find
Which shall please the baser mind,
Thou shalt bid his form to wear,
Actæon-like, the horns and hair.
But for him who is thy love
Untold joys are thine to prove;
Unto him thy maidens give
Mountain-honey from the hive,
And the sacred draught that falls
Down from icy cavern walls;
Thou dost lull his limbs to rest
With music from thy mother's breast;
Waters round thy dreadful steep
Murmur ever through his sleep,
That he may wake and smile to know
Thine the harmonious ebb and flow.
When the sun this darksome frame
Touches first with spear of flame,
Bidding beacon lights expire,
And night to die on peaks of fire,
Artemis calls her lover then
From the dusty haunts of men.
Swift from his couch he seeks her side,
With kindling glance and joyous pride,
But stoops to bathe him in the stream
That gurgled in his vanished dream.
Lo! ere he rises she is gone!
All her trooping maidens flown!
Now he searcheth far and near,
Up and down this grassy sphere;
Hearing now her jocund horn
And following, till at length forlorn,
Fain would he rest his limbs and sink
Drowsy on some mossy brink.
There through the still noontide hour,
Calming every restless power,
Artemis herself shall brood,
Unseen genius of the wood.
Happy sleeper who can rest
Thus on the great mother's breast!
While the ripening apple-bough
Shadows thy earth-weary brow,
And, ere Morpheus venture nigh,
Can see above the tender sky,
Through green tracery gazing down,
Fairer than night with gem and crown.
And what waking bliss is thine!
Hid behind yon skirting pine,
Thou canst seem to see her move,
Mighty goddess of thy love!
Up and away! New strength succeeds,
She beckons thee to dewy meads,
And where children love to dwell,
Healed by her balsamic spell;
Or, perchance, to some dim nook
By the feet of man forsook,
Where the fount of song doth run,
Undiscovered of the sun;
There she bids thee drink, and learn
Henceforward when the lilies burn,
Or when first her paths are green,
Or latest fruit in orchard seen,
Thou, her worshipper, may'st bring
Dearer songs than woodbirds sing.
Still thou shalt not see her face,
Tireless and brave howe'er thy chase;
Strange the way her steps may lure,
Yet many sorrows she will cure,
If thou ever faithful seek
Though the fainting sense grow weak.
Canst thou not, O lover, twine
Remembering garlands of the vine,
And hang them on an altar where
They who pant for heaven's air
May see them, and may follow her,
When thou art past, her worshipper!
Weave the olive and the grape,
And after mould their faultless shape
Worthy of her; then, for my sake,
Weave fern and bayberry, and the brier take,
That I may know she will not fail
To find me in my woodland pale.
Lover, do this, and wintry storm
Never shall despoil their form!
Thought and memory shall shoot
Issues from their living root.
Thus these garlands of thy verse
Other lovers may rehearse.
[ Contents ] [ Notes ]
STRETCHED on the happy fields that view the sea,
Pillowed on beds of cyclamen, violet, rosemary,
Or treading with cool feet the balmy herb,
Freely I drink the morning and high noon,
And couch above the kine at eventide.
"The perfect blossom of the fig has fallen,
The perfect rounding of the fruit succeeds!
How lately have I seen a grain of corn
Laid lightly in the bosom of the earth, and now
The sheaf stands high as stands this pillared throat!
Above the gleam and clash of lusty spears,
And swaying downward with the oak-tree branch,
Like a white lyre of ivory played upon
By heaven-sent airs, I float and rest and live.
Far rather this than music of the feast
Sung by the white-robed boys to carven lute;
Far rather, lying on the springing grass,
To breathe and listen to the braided notes
From gardens ripening now toward their decay.
My rounding limbs thus seem to grow and curve
Into more perfect life; these eyes to swim
With languor born of music; and these silent lips
To rest in joys beyond the realm of thought.
"Here in these fields are heard the harmonies
Born ere the listening ear of man was framed;
And ever still the melody survives,
Though the fields bloom and die, and none may know.
For man who thinketh not on days to come,
How shall he love to quit the busy mart,
And all the works and ways of other men,
And listen to the voices of the gods!
He cannot think this glory is for him,
Which rose before his morrow, and after his day
Shall still endure when he is lost in night.
"But I -- 't is mine to hear the spheral notes
Borne by the winds across the sleeping seas,
The messengers of Love to me, his child;
They rest amid the trees, and fragrant thence
Call to me with each little breeze at noon;
Or on the tempest ride with dreadful tones,
Speaking the will of Him who works our good.
And ever, in each form, the leaf, the bud,
The fruit, the flower, there sleeps the hidden voice,
Which I would lie unmoved and listening hear
Clothed thus with youth, watching the eager bee,
Half drowned in his own bliss, while sleepy birds
Are calling drowsily in the summer noon.
"Yet do I feel 't were sweeter far to die
And give this little life for one we love!
What joy with this great joy can be compared;
Poor, to give infinite riches to our love!
More sacred and more beautiful than all
Wealth of the East or glories of the West,
This life which is all the East and all the West.
The jewel of my youth is mine to give;
Behold I bend me to the yellow stream,
And offer up this gift to my belovèd."
Thus in those far off ages of the world
The waters parted and the deep received
Into its untried bosom this young life;
Nor yet the morning sun of Galilee
On valley and mount greeted the waking eye.
He nothing knew, save that his life was sweet
And death was bitter, -- save that one he loved
The gods had said must part from this fair youth,
His chosen joy, ere Hadrian's fame he won.
What were love worth, if love could not lay down
Fairest possession for the one belovèd!
Therefore he clove the darksome wave and sank
Never again to breathe this summer air.
Lo the swift river of time that ever sweeps
Emperors and cities, monuments and kings,
Loveliness, luxury, and all earthly joys
Down to the black gulf of oblivion, --
Has safely brought these beautiful white limbs,
Fair crownèd head, and tender dreaming eyes
Back to our gaze, and the story of his fate.
He could not know Love, the immortal child,
Would put his arms about him and so keep
Undimmed the lofty beauty of his youth!
Vast cities, built to shrine his memory,
Have vanished in the stream; only remains
The undying vision of Antinous,
Who knew the gift he gave was great indeed.
[ Contents ] [ Notes ]
LO! in the dawn of the morning the funeral pyre,
That all night long bore to the heaven of desire
Prayers of Achilles, smiting with black-winged smoke
Purple summits of Jove, loftier than towering oak, --
Lo! when the morning broke into roses, wave upon wave,
Only a smouldering ash lay white on Patroklos' grave.
Then the hero Achilles, wearing pale sorrow's crown,
Slept in the brightening dawn; and there where he lay down,
Covering his face, came in a dream the form of his friend
Bending over him, as in the past he was wont to bend,
But in his hand those tawny curls untouched of the flame,
Signal of love and of death, signal of life and of fame.
Sorrow, the mother and teacher, what can she do for earth's child!
Lover of pleasure! thy morning was fair and thy sheaves were piled!
Youth was dear, and dear was summer and pride of strength,
High has he builded the altar, all have vanished at length.
Loved was he of the gods, yet his people were exiled in vain;
Wisdom was his, and he knew giving of life was death's gain.
Why then should he yield the sweetness of days to walk with the shades!
Fairer to wander in woodlands, where shadow with sunshine braids;
Better to join in the games, and rest in a white-walled tent,
Than live in the dust of battles till youth be spent.
Yet was there one who was dearer to him than the days, --
One who suffered for those who suffer in darkened ways, --
One who prayed to his friend, "Leave thy inglorious rest;
Strive and conquer, strive and fail, to strive is the best."
Achilles listened, then answered with laughter loud:
"Go, I will watch thee conquer the slavish crowd;
All the spoils and all the glory gladly be thine,
I will stay in my tent and pledge thee in wine."
"What," he murmured, "is life but the rising and setting of suns!
Why should we struggle and fret when gaily the streamlet runs!
What is glory but noise and death, and a faded wreath!
Why for a shadow give to the shades this sweet young breath!"
Glory ye could not decoy him, nor white-winged fame!
Hero of heroes, he fought neither for life nor for name;
Only the face of his dear dead friend, of Patroklos his own,
Out of the land of shadows forever beckoned him on.
"Watch, my belovèd," the hero cried, "and listen for me!
Lean from thy darkened shore over the restless sea!
Hear the trampling of horses, hear the victorious shout,
See the white fires of Troy, and the dust and the rout!
Music unto thine ear sweeter than pipe or than flute,
When the towers crackle in flame and the people grow mute!
Listen, belovèd, again, and lean from thy shore!
Hear thou the chariot and horses drive o'er the darkened floor!
Down to the kingdom they hasten, where thou art waiting alone, --
Waiting these wreaths that I bear to tell thee thy labor is done."
APHRODITE OF MELOS.
[ Contents ] [ Notes ]
FAR had I wandered from this northern shore,
Far from the bare heights and the wintry seas,
Dreaming of these
Soft was the vale,
And silver-pointed were the olive-trees;
And pale, how pale!
Narcissus and the tall anemones;
Where should I choose
To lay me down and rest!
Where to unloose
The sandals from my feet!
For all was sweet.
But lo! a dusky cave,
Where no faint breeze bade even the aspen wave,
Unvisited of the sun,
Unhaunted by earth's labor never done,
Offered me her calm breast.
There entering, I espied
The flowery bed
Where Pan had lain his head:
'T was as if Ocean swept a snow-white billow
Thitherward for his pillow!
So drifted, side by side,
Lay the dim crocus and the lily bell.
He, the god, had gone!
Long ago dead and gone!
But near where he had lain,
Above his head,
There stood the marble form
Of Aphrodite the victorious;
Safe from all storm,
Safe from earth's pain,
Supreme and glorious!
Fearful I gazed, then whispered,
"Sleep is fled! Why did she vanish not with the ancient world,
Where love and beauty lie with garlands furled,
Floating together down oblivion's tide!
How useless are they all, what joy or pride
Lives now for us in antique god or fane!"
Long, long I gazed upon that wondrous shape;
I could not sleep, she would not let me stay,
But ever whispered to my soul, "Away,
New heights for thee to climb;
Linger not thus to ape
The longing and the honey-dropping tones
Of that forgotten time!
"I bid my lover flee
Back to those shores where moments fill the hours,
And hours the day; by his bold sea,
Never shall he forget
When first we met.
To fill the measure of my lofty pride,
He shall stretch unknown powers;
And when he dreams that I would smile on him,
Let him pursue his way,
Farther and farther up the mountain side,
Until with labor every sense grows dim;
Then as from some strange dream he shall awake,
To find the rolling sphere
Beneath my feet;
The past and present here
Mingled as one;
And he shall slake
His living endless thirst
At fountains where no restless billows moan.
"This latest; first,
The dawning mist, and then the happy sun.
Thou, O my lover, with longing shalt not greet,
Nor think a sister unto me,
That young sweet woman stepping from the bath,
Nor she who holds a mirror to her face,
Nor that fair creature feigning modesty.
"There is another path.
Why didst thou find me in my hiding-place,
And knowing nothing, fall and worship here,
As great men worshipped in the vanished time,
If thou wert not my chosen, set apart,
Guiltless of fear!
"Fold, therefore, close within thine heart
The secret I shall give thee: know, thus far,
All men have sought in vain my lineage and my birth;
But, as on sunny afternoons there lie
Upon the bosom of the heavens' blue sea,
Mountains of cloud thoughts climb, scaling the sky,
Beautiful and impalpable, and remote from earth,
Keen, unattainable, crowned with white fire;
So shall it be with thee!
The footless fancy ever climbeth higher
Than when the senses prey
Upon her sweet companionship;
Thou hast a vision from thy mountain top
Built all of cloud, which shall not waste nor slip
Into the waters of forgetfulness;
Such is thy bliss!
Nor, till the unending flight of rivers stop
Their journeys to the main,
Shall my love cease to be thy midnight star."
She is dumb, no longer a voice,
Only a presence is she!
Beautiful presence ever remain,
Holding me true to my choice!
Glad with a joy supreme which cannot pale,
Proud in the love supreme which struggles and will not fail!
Welcome the winter wind!
The barren shore and the bleak blowing sands!
Ye who bid the spirit his armor bind,
I follow ye!
Break and cast away these nerveless bands,
Bid me strive till all striving cease,
And I find my love!
She who waiteth the conquering one,
Him whose labor is never done,
Till sorrow no longer call,
Nor on his ear the music of waters fall.
[ Contents ]
AY! Unto thee belong
The pipe and song, Theocritus, --
Loved by the satyr and the faun!
To thee the olive and the vine,
To thee the Mediterranean pine,
And the soft lapping sea!
Thine, the blood-red revels,
Thine, the bearded goat!
Soft valleys unto thee,
And Aphrodite's shrine,
And maidens veiled in falling robes of lawn!
But unto us, to us,
The stalwart glories of the North;
Ours is the sounding main,
And ours the voices uttering forth
By midnight round these cliffs a mighty strain;
A tale of viewless islands in the deep
Washed by the waves' white fire;
Of mariners rocked asleep
In the great cradle, far from Grecian ire
Of Neptune and his train;
To us, to us,
The dark-leaved shadow and the shining birch,
The flight of gold through hollow woodlands driven,
Soft dying of the year with many a sigh,
These, all, to us are given!
And eyes that eager evermore shall search
The hidden seed, and searching find again
Unfading blossoms of a fadeless spring;
These, these, to us!
The sacred youth and maid,
Coy and half afraid;
The sorrowful earthly pall,
Winter and wintry rain,
And Autumn's gathered grain,
With whispering music in their fall;
These unto us!
And unto thee, Theocritus,
The immortal childhood of the world,
The laughing waters of an inland sea,
And beckoning signal of a sail unfurled!
AT THE FORGE.
AT THE FORGE.
[ Contents ]
GO! lull yourselves
In sweet illusions of the summer fields,
Ye children of Pandora; rock beneath
Old apple boughs and listen to the waves,
The same that Æschylus and Alæeus heard,
And later brethren of the singing band;
Where they have gone, perchance your summers go,
And in the stainless blue of the past days
May dwell together in some leafy waste.
I am Hephaistos, and forever here
Stand at the forge and labor, while I dream
Of those who labor not and are not lame.
I hear the early and the late birds call,
Hear winter whisper to the coming spring,
And watch the feet of summer dancing light
For joy across the bosom of the earth.
Labor endures, but all of these must pass!
And ye who love them best, nor are condemned
To beat the anvil through the summer day,
May learn the secret of their sudden flight;
No mortal tongue may whisper where they hide,
But to her love, half nestled in the grass,
Earth has been known to whisper low yet clear
Strange consolation for the wintry days.
O listen then ye singers! learn and tell
Those who must labor by the dusty way!
ELEGY TO DAPHNIS.
ELEGY TO DAPHNIS.
ON A BAS-RELIEF IN THE FLORENTINE MUSEUM.
[ Contents ] [ Notes ]
THE shepherd fleeth not and hath no fear,
He lifteth slowly up his languid gaze,
The dancing phantom surely draweth near!
But still his pleasant pipe the shepherd plays;
Death cannot choose, the pipe and he are one,
The fields elysian will but mend the tone.
Brief ceasing of the music may perchance
Succeed, and Silence place the double flute
Between his folded hands, and rest enhance
The joy which holier melodies shall suit;
Therefore the fleeting shepherd playeth on,
Though death soon bid the merry sound be done.
Unstirred the shepherd's heart, for are not fields
Fresh-blooming ever dear to childlike eyes,
Ere yet one thought of youth to manhood yields,
Or earth's ambition veil those happier skies!
Our budding fields must fade and man decay!
Thou shalt waste not but in fresh meadows stray.
O marble shepherd! happy evermore
Thus with thy pipe to keep remembrance true,
To that far time and the far golden shore,
When sleep or death, twin children, gently drew
Thee to lie down in peace in their embrace,
And thy companions piped if death might win the race.
Morning with all her splendors hast thou seen,
Wearing her jewel-stars and faded moon;
Nor lovelier evening, nor a world more green
Could ages show to thee than thou hast known!
Blest art thou, therefore, -- who dost fluting go
Where in new pastures fadeless blossoms blow.
Thou lift'st thy languid eyes and follow'st him,
The shadow, toward the kingdom of the Shades;
Nor stills thy melody although grows dim
Earth's vision, and the leaf thou look'st on fades;
O happy youth, thou hast not lost thy pipe!
Thy bud is fresh though fruits hang over-ripe.
Life is all youth to thee, and Death the hand
Leading thee gently into meadows, where
The sun of summer always clothes the land,
And tender leaves dance in the shining air;
Companioned by young heroes listening mute,
Thou stretchest thy fair limbs and ever tun'st thy flute.
In the white dawn behold a silver flame
Leap and grow ruddy ere Aurora's ray
Touches with color all the world's dark frame!
Upon that fiery tip, far, far away,
Is borne the dreaming shepherd: why should he
Linger with age when Death would set him free!
[ Contents ]
Gewaltsam schilttle Helios die Lockengluth:
Doch Menschenfade zu erhellen sind sie nicht.
THROUGH the blackness of night I can see,
Through the thickness of darkness light comes,
A gleam where no starlight can be,
A glance where no meteor roams;
When the feet of the morning are dark,
And the lamp of her eye is but dim,
And the flower of the field a dead spark,
The old glint of the wavelet a whim, --
When a mist hides the earth from the sky,
When a sound of bells tolling is heard,
A warning to ships that are nigh,
A silence of beast and of bird, --
When the sad waves lament on the shore,
Or hurry and rush to the sand,
In wild waste, and tumult, and roar,
A purposeless, riotous band, --
Then over the night of my soul,
And over the tolling of death,
New fires of ecstasy roll
With the coming of Love, which is breath;
The green hollows whisper of birds,
The silences break into song,
And my spirit pours out into words,
That to gladness and morning belong.
But alas! for the glory of Dawn,
For his coming in fragrance and might,
Red roses and billowy lawn,
With the full patient moon in his sight!
If in vain do we wait for Love's feet,
And listen while the hours long delay,
And know that the lilies are sweet,
And the month is the month of May!
In vain would my spirit be glad,
If Love hath forgotten his way;
Or if slow he linger and sad,
In vain is the gladness of day.
THE RETURN OF PERSEPHONE
NOT BY WILL AND NOT BY STRIVING.
NOT BY WILL, AND NOT IN STRIVING.
[ Contents ]
NOT by will and not in striving
Came the voices to the singer, --
Came the strange lamp of the dawning, --
Nor the tears that fell at sundown;
Not in framing tuneful measures,
Nor because of light or darkness,
Nor of silence nor of noises,
Leaped the music that subdued him.
Lost in some forgotten dream-land,
Moving over fields unplanted,
Waving golden sheaves of glory,
Such as spring beside the fountains
Of the lands beyond Kambala, --
Thus his song would come unto him,
Find the singer, who, obedient,
Labored on the dusty highway,
Waiting till the voice should call him
To the lofty steeps of song-land,
Where death is not nor to-morrow.
TRANSLATIONS FROM GOETHE.
NOTES by Annie Fields
[Page numbers refer to the print edition; notes for longer sections appear with those pieces.]
PRELUDE. (Page 3)
"I compared the Greek world with the period of adolescence, not in the sense, that youth bears within it a serious anticipative destiny, and consequently, by the very conditions of its culture, urges towards an ulterior aim, presenting thus an inherently incomplete and immature form, and being the most defective when it would deem itself perfect, -- but in the sense, that youth does not yet present the activity of work -- does not yet exert itself for a definite intelligent aim, -- but rather exhibits the concrete freshness of the soul's life.'' -- HEGEL'S Philosophy of History.
THE LYRIC MUSE. (Page 11.)
"Où trouver les anciens Grecs? Ce n'est pas dans le coin obscur d'une vaste bibliotheque et courbé sur des pupitres mobiles chargès d'une longue suite de manuscrits poudreux: mais un fusil à la main, dans les forêts d'Amerique, chassant avec les sauvages de l'Ouabache. Le climat est moins heureux, mais voilà où sont aujourd'hui les Achilles et les Hercules." -- D. STENDHAL.
"Es wird ein Frühling kommen,
Der bringt teas ward genommen,
Die Blumen und den Kranz.
Sei freudig, sei geschmüket.
Die unschuld is ein Glanz!
Und kömmt der ernste Winter,
Dann sei wie andre Kinder,
An meiner Wiege froh."
Da sprach das Kind ergeben;
"Ja Kind, das will ich so!
"All, was du mir bescheret,
Hab ich von dir begehret,
Mit Liedes Flug und Fall,
Drum will ich dir lobsinger,
Trotz Lerch, trotz Nachtigall."
PATER FREIDRICH SPEE
TO THE POETESS. (Page 15. )
Among the ancients Sappho was called "The Poetess" and Homer "The Poet."
"Chaste Sappho, with thy dark tresses and thy gentle smile, fain would I speak, but awe restrains me" -- ALCÆUS.
Plato calls her the tenth muse. The most important and only perfect poem preserved to us is a magnificent Ode to the Goddess of Love. See version of this Ode, by Mr. J. A. Symonds, in an appendix to his first series of the Greek poets; also one by Mr. Edwin Arnold in "Poems" (1880). "There is enough of heart-devouring passion in Sappho's own verse," writes Mr. Symonds, "without the legends of Phaon and the cliff of Leucas. These dazzling fragments -
"'Which still, like sparkles of Greek fire,
Burn on through time and ne'er expire' --
are the ultimate and finished forms of passionate utterance." Every vestige that is left of her is shrined in Bergk, pp. 874, 924.
"O poet -- woman! none foregoes
The leap, attaining the repose!"
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.
ÆSCHYLUS. (Page 17.)
"Old age and decay lay hold of the body, the senses, the memory, the mind, -- never of the self, the looker-on"-- Max MÜLLER, Upanished.
From the time of his first tragic victory -- (Olymp.73, 4; B.C. 485), Æschylus wrought with all the energy and patience of a great genius at his art. According to the most credible account he won thirteen tragic victories. Yet he is reported to have been exceedingly hurt at
the success of Sophocles in tragedy, by whom he was defeated in 468, B.C. See MAHAFFY.
"To be the centre of a living multitude, the heart of their hearts, the brain from which thoughts as waves pass through them, this is the best and purest joy which a human being can know." -- DOWDEN'S Essays.
"Aischulos' bronze-throat eagle-bark at blood
Has somehow spoilt my taste for twitterings."
R. BROWNING, Arist. Ap. p. 94.
"Je ne puis m'empêcher de faire un triste retour de ce grand empire de France sur un petit peuple, le peuple d'Athènes. Où est ici la gravité, la sainteté du théatre antique? Savez vous bien qui occupait la scène, qui portait la drame du théatre? Le plus vaillant soldat Eschyle; le vainqueur, après la victoire, venait la raconter lui même. Et savez-vous qui jouait, quels etaient les acteurs? C'etaient souvent les premiers magistrats; quand il s'agissait de reproduire les héros ou -- les dieux, ils n'hésitaient pas à paraître sur la scène, regardant comme une fonction publique d'élever, d'agrandir l'âme du peuple. Et dans la circonstance la plus grave du monde, après Marathon, cette merveilleuse victoire de la civilization sur la barbarie, lorsqu' Athènes voulut remercier les dieux de la patrie d'avoir sauvé la ville, les magistrats ne furent pas assez, personne ne parut assez digne; on chercher dans tout le peuple, ou trouva une créature virginale, marquée du sceau des dieux, rayonnante de jeunesse, de beauté, de génie; ce fut le jeune Sophocle qui fut chargé de paraître seul devant les dieux pour la ville d'Athènes. Il avait quinze ans alors, et de quinze ans à quatre-vingts, par une production non interrompus, dont rien dans nos ecrivains modernes peut donner l'idée, il fit representer cent drames et fut pendant tout un siécle l'interprète du génie d'Athènes et le médiateur entre les dieux et le peuple.["] --MICHELET, L'Etudiant.
"Athens, -- a city such as vision
Builds from we purple crags and silver towers
Of battlemented cloud, as in derision
Of kingliest masonry."
SHELLEY'S Ode to Liberty.
SOPHOCLES. (Page 27.)
With that king's look."
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.
"In Sophocles, tragedy has long since broadened from its source, and the strictly religious motive is veiled under the free handling of triumphant art. Hardly any of his subjects are taken immediately -- from the Dionysiac legend. The gods seldom come upon the scene, and their several attributes are less distinct than in Æschylus. Their absolute control of human things appears indirectly. They work through the passions of men. But the Bacchic fire still springs forth un bidden." -- Sophocles, by LEWIS CAMPBELL, M. A., LL. D., Professor of Greek in the University of St. Andrew.
"The audience of Æschylus and Sophocles were, in fact, the Athenian citizens, en masse, assembled in the spirit of Dionysus at moments of high solemnity, and finding in his observance an outlet for profound emotions which stirred them individually and socially. They were a people who had lately learned that political freedom is an excellent thing, but knew not yet all that it meant, or into what struggles and dangers it might hereafter carry them; a people who had learned and had taught mankind that national independence is a thing worth fighting for, but had too weak a hold of the other lesson which they had also taught by their example, that the federation of free peoples is nobler than any form of tyranny; a people with glorious memories and boundless possibilities, but surrounded with unknown dangers. This people gave their whole attention to tragic performances for days together, year after year. Was there ever such an opportunity? And never was great opportunity more grandly met." --THE SAME.
"The primary aim of tragedy is to excite universal sympathy for an ideal sorrow, and to give expression and relief to human emotion. In a great community, there is a mass of grief and care which, in the common daylight of the market-place assembly, is conveniently ignored. Thus each heart is left to a knowledge of its own bitterness, and pines in isolation. But when men are drawn together to a spectacle of imagined woe, placed vividly before the faithful witness of the eye, the fountain of tears within them is unlocked, and society of grief is gained without confession. Feeling is at once consoled by communion, and sheltered in the privacy of a crowd. For all who have any depth in them, however habitually light-hearted, such an occasional overflow is tranquillizing, while those whose burden presses heavily are eased and comforted. They are rapt from the narrow contemplation of their own destiny into a world where all private trouble is annihilated, and yet is typified so as to give an excuse for tears.... A direct result of tragic representation is the enlargement of sympathy. The poet sets before the spectators a life different from and yet akin to theirs, which, however strange to them, powerfully stirs their hearts." -- THE SAME.
"Is there in all philosophy a thing more dignified, more holy, or more lofty, than well ordered tragedy; more effective for the concentrated contemplation of the catastrophes and revolutions of human life?"-- JOHN MILTON.
"In the Periclean age, reflecting persons, for the first time, formed a clear conception of Human Nature. It is his firm grasp of this idea from the intellectual side that above all else gives permanent value to the work of Thucydides. The same thought is not less clearly apprehended by Sophocles in the form of feeling, although in his mind it is never dissociated from the recognition of powers above humanity, of a 'divinity that shapes our ends.' Less speculative than Æschylus, less skeptical than Euripides, he acknowledges in each event a revelation of the divine will, which he regards as just even when inscrutable. But his strongest lights are thrown upon the human figures themselves, which appear out of the darkness and go into darkness again. So far as this can be achieved by art, the predestined catastrophe is brought about by the natural effect of circumstances on character, according to the saying of Heraclitus in the previous century, 'Man's character is his destiny.' The gods are, for the most part, withdrawn to their unseen Olympus, whilst their will is done on earth by seemingly accidental means. The tradition of a fore-determined doom is used by the poet as an instrument for evoking fear and pity: the blindness of the agents makes us feel doubly for their fate, and gives a deeper impression of the feebleness and nothingness of man. And yet this Man, who is nothing, a shadow passing away, is the central object of our sympathies; and this life of his, so feeble in the sight of heaven, yet seems with every drama of Sophocles that is seen or read, more rich in noble possibilities." -- LEWIS CAMPBELL.
"The dipus Coloneus is a sublime religious poem; but, as compared with the two other Theban plays, it must be acknowledged to have less of concentrated tragic power. The dramatic structure is still most admirable, but more scope is given to lyrical and rhetorical effects." -- THE SAME.
"In the heroes of his extant plays, Sophocles presents five 'ages of man,' -- the boy, the full-grown warrior, the established ruler, the afflicted solitary, the time-worn wanderer whose end is peace." -- THE SAME.
"The most typical and regular in structure of the choral odes are those which hold a central place in each of the great tragedies, where the action pauses for a moment before hurrying to its consummation: in the Ajax, 'O isle of glory;' in the Antigone, 'of wonders without end, most wonderful is man;' in the dipus Tyrannus, 'May it be mine to keep the unwritten laws;' in the Coloneus, 'Friend, in this land of noblest steeds thou art come,' etc. In each of these we have a lyric poem of the highest beauty, which at the same time holds a distinct place in the economy of the drama." -- THE SAME.
"Who saw life steadily and saw it whole."
"The close of Sophocles' life was troubled with family dissensions. Iophon, his son by an Athenian wife, and therefore his legitimate heir, was jealous of the affection manifested by his father for his grandson Sophocles, the offspring of another son, Ariston, whom he had had by a Sicyonian woman. Fearing lest his father should bestow a great part of his property upon his favorite, Iophon summoned him before the Phratores, or tribesmen, on the ground that his mind was affected. The old man's only, reply was, 'If I am Sophocles, I am not beside myself; and if I am beside myself, I am not Sophocles.'
Then taking up his dipus at Colonus, which he had lately written, but had not yet brought out, he read from it the beautiful choral ode, with which the judges were so struck they at once dismissed the case. He died shortly afterward, in B. C. 406, in his ninetieth year." -- SMITH'S History of Greece -- FELTON.
"Alcman first gave artistic form to the choral lyric by arranging that the chorus, while singing, should execute alternately a movement to the right (strophê, 'turning'), and a movement to the left (antistrophe); and he composed the songs which the chorus was to sing in couples of stanzas called strophe and antistrophe, answering to these balanced movements..... Stesichorus 'marshal of choruses,' completed the form of the choral lyric.... by adding the epode sung by the chorus while it remained stationary after the movements to right and left." -- R. C. JEBB, M.A., Greek Literature.
"As an artist, as a perfect exponent of that intensely Attic development which in architecture tempered Doric strength with Ionic sweetness, which in sculpture passed from archaic stiffness to majestic action, which in all the arts found the mean between antique repose and modern vividness, as the poet of Athens, in the heyday of Athens, Sophocles stands without an equal. His plots are more ethical than those of Euripides; his skepticism is more reverent or reticent.".... -- MAHAFFY'S History of Classical Greek Literature.
"In that elaborate piece of dramatic criticism.... the Frogs, it is extremely interesting to notice both the respectful reserve with which Sophokles is treated as if he were almost above criticism, and the particular force of the few passages in which Aristophanes more expressly refers to him..... 'Even-tempered alike in life and death, -- in the world above and in the world below,' is the brief but expressive phrase in which his character is summed up." -- PHILIP SMITH, inClass. Dict.
"Sophocles was born in the deme Colonos, within half an hour's walk of Athens, in the scenery which he describes in his famous chorus of the Second dipus, and which has hardly altered up to the present day, amid all the sad changes which have seamed and scarred the fair features of Attica. I know not, indeed, why he calls it the white Colonos, for it was then, as now, hidden in deep and continuous green. The dark ivy and the golden crocus, the white poplar and the gray olive, are still there. The silvery Cephissus still feeds the pleasant rills, with which the husbandman waters his thickly wooded cornfields; and in the deep shade the nightingales have not yet ceased their plaintive melody. -- MAHAFFY'S History of Classical Greek Literature.
"The skill of Sophocles as a dramatic poet is displayed in all its splendor by the new light thrown upon the central figure of dipus..... In his new phase the man of haste and wrath is no longer heedless of oracles; nor does he let their words lie idle in his mind. It is, therefore, with a strong presentiment of approaching death that he discovers early in this play that his feet, led by Antigone, have rested in the grove of the Furies at Colonos. The place itself is fair. There are here no Harpy-gorgons with blood-shot eyes, and vipers twining in their matted hair. The meadows are dewy with crocus-flowers and narcissus; in the thickets of olive and laurel nightingales keep singing, and rivulets spread coolness in the midst of summer heat. The whole wood is hushed, and very fresh and wild. A solemn stillness broods there; for the feet of the profane keep far away, and none may tread the valley-lawns but those who have been purified. The ransomed of the Lord walk there. This solemnity of peace pervades the whole play, forming, to borrow a phrase from painting, the silver-gray harmony of the picture. In thus bringing dipus to die among the unshowered meadows of those Dread Ladies, whom in his troubled life he found so terrible, but whom, in his sublime passage from the world, he is about to greet resignedly, we may trace peculiar depth of meaning. The thought of death, calm but austere, tempers every scene in the drama. We are in the presence of one whose life is ended, who is about to merge the fever of existence in the tranquillity beyond. This impression of solemnity is heightened when we remember that the poet wrote the Coloneus in extreme old age. Over him, too, the genius of everlasting repose already spread wings in the twilight; and the mysteries of the grave were nearer to him and more daily present than to other men. -- J. ADDINGTON SYMONDS, Studies of the Greek Poets.
"Let there be light! said Liberty,
And like sunrise from the sea,
Athens arose! Around her born,
Shone like mountains in the morn
Glorious states; and are they now
Ashes, wrecks, oblivion? Go
Where Thermæ and Asopus swallowed
Persia, as the sand does foam.
Deluge upon deluge followed, --
Discord, Macedon, and Rome.
And lastly thou! temples and towers,
Citadels and marts, and they
Who live and die there have been ours
And may be thine and must decay;
But Greece and her foundations are
Built below the tide of war,
Based on the crystalline sea
Of thought and its eternity;
Her citizens, imperial spirits,
Rule the present from the past,
On all this world of men inherits
Their seal is set."
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY.
EURIPIDES. (Page 37.)
"Euripides was all his life," says Mahaffy, "a prolific [proific] and popular, though not a successful poet. He was known to have won the first prize only five times, though he may have written ninety tragedies.
"He has been well called 'der Prophet des Weltschmerzes.'"
"Triumphant play, wherein our poet first
Dared bring the grandeur of the tragic two
Down to the level of our common life,
Close to the beating of our common heart."
ROBERT BROWNING, Aristophanes' Apology.
"The lyrics of Euripides are among the choicest treasures of Greek poetry: they flow like mountain rivulets, flashing with sunbeams, eddying in cool, shady places, rustling through leaves of mint, forget-me-not, marsh-marigold, and dock." -- SYMONDS, Greek Tragedy and Euripides.
"Every Greek poet (I might indeed say every poet) is strictly the child of his day, the exponent of a national want, the preacher of a national aspiration, at once the outcome and the leader of a literary public, or, at least, of a public which craves after spiritual sustenance..... But in no case are these considerations more important than in that of Euripides, the poet who has bequeathed to us the largest and most varied materials to estimate his age; while, on the other hand, his age -- the age of Thucydides and of Aristophanes, of Pericles and of Alkibiades, of Phidias and of Alkamenes -- is the best known and most brilliant epoch in Athenian history. He was indeed no public man, but a confirmed student, a lover of books and of solitude; but yet certainly the personal friend of Pericles and Socrates, his elder and younger contemporaries, the hearer of Anaxagoras and Prodicus; if not the active promoter, at least the close observer, of all that was great and brilliant in Athens, then the Hellas of Hellas, the inmost and purest shrine of all the national culture." -- MAHAFFY, Euripides.
"When Euripides produced his first play Æschylus was just dead, and though Sophocles was in the zenith of his fame, and the delight of all Athens, men must have looked anxiously for the appearance of a new poet, who would succeed to the place left vacant by the veteran dramatist. To such Euripides must have been indeed disappointing.
"His last plays came out about the time of Sophocles' death, when men despaired of seeing any worthy heir of either in tragedy, for the younger generation had tried in vain to rival these poets even in their old age, as Aristophanes plainly informs us. Thus our poet's life extended from the noon to the sunset of Greek tragedy. His posthumous plays were the rich afterglow when that glorious day was gone..... We willingly believe the story that the aged Sophocles showed deep sorrow at the death of the rival from whom he learned so much; but, by way of painful contrast, we find Aristophanes composing upon the death of Euripides, his bitter and unsparing onslaught in the Frogs. For at this time, as we shall see in the sequel, the play-going world at Athens was rapidly veering round in favor of the much-abused and oft-slighted poet; and Aristophanes must have felt with disappointment, that the matchless brilliancy of his satire was, after all, powerless against the spirit of the times and the genius of his opponent..... Far deeper than the personal griefs of Euripides, there lay upon his spirit the constant melancholy of unsolved doubts, of unsettled problems, of seeking for the light in vain, and of hoping against hope for the moral reformation of mankind. Hence our beautiful extant busts and statues represent hint worthily as the 'poet of the world's grief,' gentle, subdued, and full of sorrowing sympathy. Nor is there any authentic portrait left us from the great days of Athens so interesting, or so thoroughly cosmopolitan as that of the poet Euripides..... The continued rivalry with Sophocles, the most successful of all tragic poets, the darling of Athens, the most consummate artist of his day, must have powerfully affected him. The two poets indeed differed widely in their conception of the drama. When they treated the same subjects (as they often did) they appealed to different interests, and seem never to have copied, seldom to have criticised one another. But we find that Euripides, the more conscious and theoretical artist, showed the stronger character even in his art; for the latest extant drama of Sophocles (the Philocletes) shows a striking likeness to the plays of Euripides, while the reverse is anything but true; the latest plays of Euripides (the Bacchæ and Aulid lphigenia) show no traces of an increased influence from the side of Sophocles.
"Yet, broadly speaking, it is plain that our poet was no originator in the external appliances, or even in the general internal plan of the Greek drama. His great predecessors had introduced him to the Muse of Tragedy, as it were dwelling in a splendid temple, and honored with an established worship..... No Greek poet ever received more constant and unsparing adverse criticism, and from the ablest possible critic. To have outlived, nay, to have conquered such attacks, is in my mind an astonishing proof of genius..... The present century, while correcting the antipathies of Schlegel's school, has nevertheless not reinstated Euripides completely into his former position.
"We understand Æschylus at last, and see in him a giant genius, without parallel in the history of Greek literature. We find in Sophocles a more perfect artist, in complete harmony with his materials, and justifying the uniform favor of the Attic public. But many recent editors and historians, and one of our greatest poets, Mr. Browning, have set themselves to assert for Euripides his true and independent position beside those rivals, who have failed to obscure or displace him. The Germans, indeed, still infected by Schlegel, talk of Euripides as the poet of the ochlocracy, that debased democracy which they have invented at Athens, after the suggestion of Thucydides. But a sounder art criticism, based upon the results of English and French. scholarship, which does not spoil its delicacy and blunt its edge by the weight of erudition, has turned with renewed affection to the sympathetic genius, who delighted the wild Parthian chiefs with his Bacchic revels, who supplied the patient monk with sorrows for his suffering Christ, who witnessed (in truth a very martyr) to truth and nature in the stilted rhetoric of the Roman stage, iii the studied pomp of the French court; who fed the youth of Racine and of Voltaire; who revived the slumbering flame of Alfieri's genius; who even in these latter days has occupied great and original poets of many lands -- Schiller, Shelley, Alfieri, Browning -- with the task of reproducing in their tongues his pathos and his power." -- MAHAFFY On Euripides.
"Our Euripides the human,
With his droppings of warm tears,
And his touches of things common,
Till they rose to touch the spheres."
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.
"Loved by Sokrates."
"The intimacy of Euripides with Socrates is beyond a doubt, and it is said that the latter never entered the theatre unless when the plays of his friend were acted." SMITH'S Classical Dictionary.
"Lucian, at the beginning of his treatise on the manner in which history ought to be written, says that the people of Abdera, a city in Thrace, during the reign of Lysimachus, were so affected by the performance of the Andromede of Euripides that they ran raving about the streets, repeating from it the 'Invocation of Love.'
"'Tyrant of gods and men, O Love, forbear,' etc.,
till a severe winter restored them to their senses." -- WOODHULL'S Translation, quoted from unpublished notes on Aristophanes' Apology of Robert Browning, by L. L. Thaxter.
HELENA. (Page 6I. )
"Was this the face that launched a thousand ships
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?"
"The tragic poet who deceived was juster than he who deceived not, and he that was deceived was wiser than he who was not deceived." -- PLATO'S Gorgias.
"'A theme for the minstrel.' The Odyssey gives us a lively picture of the minstrel (aoidos) by whom such songs were sung in the halls of princes. A king is going to make a great feast, and bids his herald, the chamberlain of his court, to invite 'the god-like singer; for to him the god has given song abundantly, to gladden us.' So the chamberlain brings 'the welcome minstrel, whom the muse loved exceedingly, and to whom she gave both evil and good; she took away his eyesight, but she gave him sweet song;' he sets a chair for the minstrel, studded with silver nails, in the midst of the feasters, firm against a tall pillar, and hangs a clear-toned harp on a peg just above his head, and guides the blind man's hands to touch it; then he puts a table beside him, with food and wine. When the banquet is over, the minstrel sings to his harp 'the glories of men.' Such a minstrel was not looked upon simply as an artist; he was thought to be inspired by the gods. And so, naturally, he had a sacred character. When King Agamemnon was going away to the war at Troy (the story said) he charged the minstrel of his house to watch over the honor of the Queen, Clytemnestra; and at first the wicked Ægisthus was baffled, 'for the lady was discreet; and, besides, the minstrel was present.'["] -- R. C. JEBB, Primer of Greek Literature.
"O beauty! how fatal art thou to mortals! how precious to those who possess thee! Helen is always the woman who has been!"-- EURIPIDES, The Orestes.
"La vicillesse même ne peut flétrir cette femme marveilleuse; le temps n'ose point l'attaquer. Elle parcourt 1'espace d' un siècle dans le cycle de la poésie antique, toujours jeune, toujours désirable. Vivante image de la Béauté idéale, l'homme peut souiller ses formes éphémères, il n'atteint pas son type eternel." PAUL DE SAINT-VICTOR, Hommes et Dieux.
Stesichorus differed especially from Homer with regard to the siege of Troy, and his famous palinodia about Helen gave rise to the most celebrated story concerning him. He had in the opening of a poem spoken disparagingly of the heroine, who struck him with blindness. Plato is our earliest authority for this legend. See MAHAFFY'S History of Classical Greek Literature.
"The identification of Demeter with Rhea Cybele is the motive which has inspired a beautiful chorus in the Helena, -- the new Helena, of Euripides, -- that great lover of all subtle refinements and modernisms, who, in this play, has worked on a strange version of the older story, which relates that only the phantom of Helen had really gone to Troy, herself remaining in Egypt all the time, at the court of King Proteus, where. she is found at last by her husband Menelaus." -- W. H. PATER.
HERAKLES. (Page 77.)
"Herakles is among the Hellenes that Spiritual Humanity which, by native energy, attains Olympus through the twelve far-famed labors." -- HEGEL'S Philosophy of History.
"Nay, never falter: no great deed is done
By falterers who ask for certainty.
No good is certain, but the steadfast mind,
The undivided will to seek the good:
'T is that compels the elements, and wrings
A human music from the indifferent air.
The greatest gift the hero leaves his race
Is to have been a hero. Say we fail! --
We feed the high tradition of the world."
GEORGE ELIOT, The Spanish Gypsey.
"Humanity is erroneously counted among commonplace virtues. If it deserved such a place, there would be less urgent need than, alas, there is for its daily exercise among us. In its pale shape of kindly sentiment and bland pity it is common enough, and is always the portion of the cultivated; but humanity, armed, aggressive, and alert, never slumbering and never wearying, moving like ancient hero over the land to slay monsters, is the rarest of virtues." -- JOHN MORLEY'S Voltaire.
"Prometheus is unbound by Hercules, the power by which the divine reason in the fullness of time rends the fetters of the creative force; and the new nuptials of Prometheus and Asia give birth to the new world, fairer than the old. This is the ever-renewed drama of creation." -- J. TODHUNTER, Shelley, a Study.
"Herakles is, in the Greek conception of the type of those who work for others, one condemned by his destiny to achieve great, difficult, and unrewarded exploits at the bidding of another." -- GROTE, vol. viii., chap. lxvii.
ARTEMIS. (Page 91.)
"Honoring Apollo's sister Artemis,
The first of heavenly ones in his esteem;
And ever roams he in her virgin train,
In intercourse too close for mortal man,
Through the pale-yellow woods, with fleetest hounds,
Scaring the wild beasts that infest the land."
EURIPIDES, The Crowned Hippolytus. Translated into English verse by MAURICE PURCELL FITZ-GERALD.
"La Mythologie fait de Diane la fille de Latone, mais le sein qui 1'a portée est plus vaute, sa conception plus divine encore. C'est du courant des sources, de la profondeur des ombrages. den bruits du vent, des mysterès de la solitude que Diane est sortie. Tous les éléments chastes de la nature, toutes les puretés du corps et de l'âme se personnifient dans la grande vierge dorienne..... De quels prestiges devait remplir les bois sa présence secrète! Elle sanctifiait tous leurs sites, elle divinisait tous leurs bruits. La brise qui troublait le feuillage etait peut-être sa divine haleine. Peut-être le lac, frémissant encore, venait-il de recevoir son corps virginal. Sa chasse merveilleuse enchantait la forêt: elle se mêlait à toutes ses rumeurs..... Fuis, téméraire, sans retourner la tête! déjà tes chiens te regardent d'un oeil soupçonneux." -- PAUL DE SAINT-VICTOR, Hommes et Dieux.
ANTINOUS. (Page 99)
"The Natural, as explained by men, -- i. e., its internal element, -- is as a universal principle the beginning of the Divine." -- HEGEL'S Philosophy of History.
"In Greek beauty the Sensuous is only a sign, an expression, an envelope, in which Spirit manifests it self." --THE SAME.
"Nothing that is truly beautiful externally is internally deformed. For everything which is externally beautiful is so in consequence of the domination of inward beauty." -- PLOTINUS.
Fichte says: "All culture must proceed from the will, not from the understanding;.... Man does not consist of two beings; he is absolutely one;.... as is the heart of the individual, so is his knowledge."
"Ich halte nichts von dem, der von sich denkt,
Wie ihn das Volk vielleicht erheben möchte.
Allein, O Jungling, danke du den Göttern,
Dass sie so früh lurch dich so viel gethan."
"Aime et tu renaîtras: fais-toi fleur pour éclore."
ALFRED DE MUSSET.
"Antinous, as he appears in sculpture, is a young man of eighteen or nineteen years, almost faultless in his form. His beauty is not of a pure Greek type. Though perfectly proportioned and developed by gymnastic exercises to the true athletic fullness, his limbs are round and florid, suggesting the possibility of early overripeness..... The whole body combines Greek beauty of structure with something of Oriental voluptuousness. The same fusion of diverse elements may be traced in the head. It is not too large, though more than usually broad, and is nobly set upon a massive throat, slightly inclined forward, as though this posture were habitual; the hair lies thick in clusters, which only form curls at the tips. The forehead is low and somewhat square; the eyebrows are level, of a peculiar shape, and very thick, converging so closely as almost to meet above the deep-cut eyes. The nose is straight, but blunter than is consistent with the Greek ideal. Both cheeks and chin are delicately formed, but fuller than a severe taste approves; one might trace in their rounded contours either a survival of infantine innocence and immaturity, or else the sign of rapidly approaching over-bloom. The mouth is one of the loveliest ever carved; but here, again, the blending of the Greek and Oriental types is visible. The lips, half parted, seem to pout; and the distance between mouth and nostrils is exceptionally short. The undefinable expression of the lips, together with the weight of the brows and slumberous half-closed eyes, gives a look of sulkiness or voluptuousness to the whole face. This, I fancy, is the first impression which the portraits of Antinous produce; and Shelley has well conveyed it by placing the two following phrases, 'eager and impassioned tenderness' and 'effeminate sullenness' in close juxtaposition. But after long familiarity with the whole range of Antinous's portraits, and after study of his life, we are brought to read the peculiar expression of his face and form somewhat differently. A prevailing melancholy, sweetness of temperament, overshadowed by resignation, brooding reverie, the innocence of youth touched and saddened by a calm resolve or an accepted doom, -- such are the sentences we form to give distinctness to a still vague and uncertain impression..... One thing, however, is certain; we have before us no figment of the artistic imagination, but a real youth of incomparable beauty, just as nature made him, with all the inscrutableness of undeveloped character, with all the pathos of a most untimely doom, with the almost imperceptible imperfections that render choice reality more permanently charming than the ideal.....
"But who was Antinous, and what is known of him?.... He first appears upon the scene as Hadrian's friend. Whether the emperor met with him during his travels in Asia Minor, whether he found him among the students of the university at Athens, or whether the boy had been sent to Rome in his childhood, must remain matter of the merest conjecture..... After journeying through Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, and Arabia, Hadrian, attended by Antinous, came to Egypt..... When he had arrived near an ancient city named Besa, on the right bank of the river, he lost his friend. Antinous was drowned in the Nile. He had thrown himself, it was believed, into the water; seeking thus by a voluntary death to substitute his own life for Hadrian's, and to avert predicted perils from the Roman Empire." -- J. ADDINGTON SYMONDS, Sketches and Studies in Southern Europe.
"Let me feel that I am to be a lover. I am to see to it that the world is better for me and to find my reward in the act. Love would put a new face on this weary old world, in which we dwell as pagans and enemies too long; and it would warm the heart to see how fast the vain diplomacy of statesmen, the impotence of armies, and navies, and lines of defense, would be superseded by this unarmed child." -- R. W. EMERSON.
"Life, I repeat, is energy of love
Divine or human; exercised in pain,
In strife and tribulation; and ordained,
If so approved and sanctified, to pass
Through shades and silent rest, to endless joy."
"Call it Truth or Summer going forth; seeming to walk miraculously on the surface, but supported by a power which has reached firm footing; balancing himself gracefully, maybe a long, long time; but never getting anywhere until he has made his dive into the unknown. -- A ripple closes over us." -- From a letter by WILLIAM M. HUNT, describing his picture called "The Bather."
ACHILLES. (Page 107.)
"The Iliad has for its whole subject the 'Passion of Achilles' -- that ardent energy of the hero which displayed itself first as anger against Agamemnon, and afterwards as love for the lost Patroclus. The truth of this was perceived by one of the greatest poets and profoundest critics of the modern world, Dante. When Dante, in the Inferno, wished to describe Achilles he wrote, with characteristic brevity: --
Che per amore al fine combatteo.'
"The wrath of Achilles against Agamemnon which prevented him from fighting; the love of Achilles, passing the love of women, for Patroclus, which induced him to forego his anger and to fight at last; these are the two poles on which the Iliad turns." -- J. ADDINGTON SYMONDS.
"The highest form that floated before the Greek imagination was Achilles, the son of the poet, the Homeric youth of the Trojan war. Homer is the element in which the Greek world lives as man does in the air. The Greek life is a truly youthful achievement. Achilles, the ideal youth of poetry, began it; Alexander the Great, the ideal youth of reality, concluded it. Both appear in contest with Asia." -- HEGEL'S Philosophy of History.
"Wem die Himmlischen viel Verwirrung zugedacht haben, wem sie erschütternde, schnelle Wechsel der Freude und des Schmerzens bereiten, dem geben sie kein höher Geschenk als einen ruhigen Freund." -- GOETHE'S Iphegenie.
"Parl avec confiance;
Le sevère Dieu silence
Est un des frères de la Mort;
En se plaignant on se console,
Et quelquefois une parole
Nous a délivré d'un remords."
ALFRED DE MUSSET.
"In the world secular business demands accomplishment, and ultimately the discovery is made that spirit finds the goal of its struggle and its harmonization in that very sphere which it made the object of its resistance, -- it finds that secular pursuits are a spiritual occupation." -- HEGEL'S Philosophy of History.
"What is it that gives to each individual the peculiar character of his particular life? I answer, it is the love of this particular and individual life. Show me what thou truly lovest, what thou seekest and strivest for with thy whole heart when thou wouldst attain to true enjoyment of thyself, and thou hast thereby shown me thy life.... That to many men it may be no easy matter to answer such a question, since they do not even know what they love, proves only that they do not in reality love anything; and just on that account do they not live because they do not love." FICHTE, The Blessedness of life.
APHRODITE OF MELOS. (Page 115.)
"Volge sua sfera e beata si gode."
"And in thy face
I see, astonied, that severe content
Which comes of thought and musing."
"My daughter, Venus is not Love alone,
But many a title 'longs to her beside.
She is deep Hades; she is deathless Force,
And she is maddening Frenzy; she's Desire
Unmingled; she is Mourning; all's in her
That's eager, that is tranquil, that's perverse.
For she invades each bosom that hath lodged
A soul. What heart is not this goddess' prey?"
Attributed to EURIPIDES.
"Piety is no end or aim, it is a means by which, through the purest tranquillity of mind, the highest culture is attained." -- GOETHE'S Sprüche in Prosa.
"O Beauty, old, yet ever new!
Eternal Voice and inward Word,
The Logos of the Greek and Jew,
The old sphere-music which the Samian heard!
"Nor bounds, nor clime, nor creed thou know'st,
Wide as our need thy favors fall;
The white wings of the Holy Ghost
Stoop seen or unseen, o'er the heads of all."
"Nothing so lifts a man from all his mean imprisonments, were it but for moments, as true admiration."
"The love of beauty is nothing different from that first and leading motive in all minds to the pursuit of everything, namely, that motive whence the philosopher sets out in his inquiry after wisdom, the desire of good. Thus the perfection of man consists in his similitude to this supreme beauty; and in his union with it is found his supreme good." -- FLOYER SYDENHAM.
"It is not the transient breath of poetic license that women want; each can receive that from a lover..... It is the birthright of every being capable to receive it, -- the freedom, the religious, intelligent freedom, of the universe, to use its means, to learn its secrets as far as nature has enabled them, with God alone for their guide and their judge..... We would have every arbitrary barrier thrown down. We would have every path thrown open as freely to woman as to man. Were this done, and the slight temporary fermentation allowed to subside, we believe that the divine would ascend into nature to a height unknown in the history of past ages: and nature, thus instructed, would regulate the spheres, not only so as to avoid collision, but to bring forth ravishing harmony." -- MARGARET FULLER.
"Cette Vénus n'est pas la Cypris frivole d'Anacréon et d'Ovide, celle qui forme l'Amour aux ruses érotiques, et à laquelle on immole les oiseaux lascifs. C'est la Vénus Céleste, la Vénus Victorieuse, toujours désirée, jamais possédée, absolue comme la vie, dont le feu centrale réside dans son sein; invincible comme l'attrait des sexes auquel elle préside, chaste comme l'Eternelle Beauté qu'elle personifie. C'est la Vénus qu'adorait Platon, et dont César donnait le nom -- Vénus Victrix -- pour mot d'ordre à son armée, la veille de Pharsale. Elle est le flamme qui crée et qui conserve, l'instigatrice des grandes choses et des projets héròiques. Ce qu'il y a de pur dans les affections terrestres, l âme des sens, l'étincelle créatrice, la particule sublime mêlée à l'alliage des passions grossières, tout cela lui appartient de plein droit. Le reste revient aux Vénus vulgaires, copies profanées de son type qui se parent de ses attributs et usurpent son piédestal. Quelques-uns croient que son pied mutilé reposait sur un globe; ce symbole compléterait sa grandeur. Les astres gravitent en cadence autour de la Vénus céleste, et le monde roule harmonieusement sous son pied." -- PAUL DE SAINT-VICTOR, Hommes et Dieux.
ELEGY TO DAPHNIS. (Page 131.)
"True enjoyment consists in those pure delights which do not arise after pain, but which the soul experiences when filled with the contemplation of true being." -- PLATO'S Republic.
"When we proximately accede to that which cannot be impelled, then we shall imitate the soul of the universe, and the soul of the stars, and, becoming near through similitude, we shall hasten to be one and the same with them." -- PLOTINUS.
"Nothing, which is comprehended in being, perishes." -- PLOTINUS.
"This, therefore, is the life of the gods and of divine and happy men, a liberation from all terrene concerns, a life unaccompanied with human pleasures, and a flight of the alone to the alone." -- PLOTINUS.
"Bards of Passion and of Mirth,
Ye have left your souls on earth!
Ye have souls in heaven too,
Double-lived in regions new!"
Works of Annie Fields