Before thou leav'st me. â On my bed I lay,
And dreamed I fared within the Lycian land.
And still about me there on either hand
Were nought but poisonous serpents, yet no dread
I had of them, for soothly in my head
BELLEROPHON IN L YCIA. 243
The thought was, that my kith and kin they were ;
But as I went methought I saw thee there
Coming on toward me, and thou mad'st as though
No whit about those fell worms thou didst know ;
And then in vain I strove to speak to thee,
And bid thee get thee down unto the sea.
Where bode thy men ready at bench and mast ;
But in my dream thou cam'st unto me fast,
And unto speech we fell of e'en such things
As please the sons and daughters of great kings ;
And I must smile and talk, and talk and smile.
Though I beheld a serpent all the while
Draw nigh to strike thee : then â then thy lips came
Close unto mine; and while with joy and shame
I trembled, in my ears a dreadful cry
Rang, and thou fellest from me suddenly
And layst dead at my feet : and then I spake
Unto myself, ' Would God that I could wake,'
But woke not, though my dream changed utterly,
Except that thou wert laid stark dead anigh.
Then in this palace were we, and the noise
Of many folk I heard, and a great voice
Rang o'er it ever and again, and said,
Bellerophon who would not love is dead.
But I â I moved not from thee, but I saw
Through the fixir windows many people draw
Unto the lists, until withal it seemed
As though I never yet had slept or dreamed.
That all the games went on, where yesterday
244 THE EARTHL Y PARADISE.
Thou like a god amidst of men didst play :
But yet through all, the great voice cried and said,
Bdlcrophon li'lio luould not love is dead.
This is the dream â ah, hast thou heard me, then?
Abide no more, I say, among these men :
Think'st thou the world without thy life can thrive,
More than my heart without thy heart can live?"
Almost before her lips the words could say,
She turned her eager glittering eyes away.
And hurried past, and as her feet did bear
Her loveliness away, he seemed to hear
A sob come from her ; but for him, he felt
As in some fair heaven all his own he dwelt,
As though he ne'er of any woe had known.
So happy and triumphant had he grown.
But when he thus a little while had stood
With this new pleasure stirring all his blood,
He 'gan to think how that she was not there,
And 'thwart the glory of delight came care,
As uttermost desire so wrought in him.
That now in strange new tears his eyes did swim,
He scarce knew if for pleasure or for pain.
Of other things he strove to think in Aain â
Nought seemed they; â the strange threatening of the
Nay the maid's dream â it seemed a little thing
That he should read their meaning more than this :
' Here in the land of Lycia dwells thy bliss ;
BELLEROPHON IN L YCIA. 245
So much she loved thee that she wished thee gone,
That thou mightst hve, though she were left alone ;
Or else she had not left thee ; failing not'
To see how all the heart in thee waxed hot
To cast thine arms about her and to press
Her heart to thine and heal its loneliness.'
Pity grew in him as he thought thereof,
And with its sweet content fed burning love.
Till all his life was swallowed by its flame,
And dead and past away were fear and shame,
Nor might he think that he could ever die.
But now at last he with a passionate sigh
Turned from the place where he had seen her feet.
And murmured as he went, " O sweet, O sweet,
O sweet the fair morn that thou breathest in,
When thou, awakening lone, dost first begin
For one more day the dull blind world to bless
With sight of thine unmeasured loveliness."
So speaking, through a low door did he gain
A little garden ; the fair morn did wane,
The day grew to its hottest, the warm air
Was little stirred, the o'er-sweet lily there
With unbowed stem let fall upon tlie ground
Its fainting leaves ; full was the air of sound
Of restless bees ; from high elms far away
Came the doves' moan about the lost si)ring day,
And Venus' sparrows twittered in the eaves
346 THE EARTHL Y PARADISE.
Above his head. There 'twixt the languid leaves
And o'er-blown blossoms he awhile did go,
Nursing his love till faint he 'gan to grow
For very longing, and love, bloomed an hour.
Began to show the thorn about the flower,
Yet sweet and sweet it was, until the thought
Of that departing to his mind was brought,
And though he laughed aloud with scorn of it,
Yet images of pain and death would flit
Across his love, until at last anew
He 'gan to think that deeds there were to do
In his old way, if there he still would bide.
Deeds must have birth from hope ; grief must he hide,
And into hard resolve his longing chill,
If he would be god-loved and conquering still :
So back he turned into the house, in mind,
Whatso might hap, the King once more to find,
And crave for leave to sen-e him ; for he deemed,
Whate'er the King had warned or his love dreamed,
That he and youth 'gainst death were fellows twain
For years yet, whoso in the end should gain.
Deep buried in his thoughts he Avent, but when
He drew anigh the hall a crowd of men
Were round about it ; armed they were, indeed,
But rent and battered was their warlike weed.
And some lacked wounding weapons ; some men leant
Weakly 'gainst pillars ; some were so much spent
They wept for weariness and pain ; no few
BELLEROPHON IN L YCIA. 247
E'en such they seemed, the hero thought, as folk
That erst before his Argive spears had broke,
And at his feet their vain arms down had cast :
So, wondering thereat, through these folk he passed
Into the hall, where on the ivory throne
Jobates sat, with flushed face, gazing down
Upon the shrinking captains ; therewithal
E'en as he entered did the King's eyes fall
Upon him, and the King somewhat did start
At first, but then, as minding not the part
That he had played that morn, a gracious smile
Came o'er his face; then spake he in a while :
" Look upon these, O wise Bellerophon,
And ask of them what glory they have won â
Or ask them not, but listen unto me :
Over the mountain-passes that men see
Herefrom, a town there is, and therein dwell
Folk baser and more vile than men can tell ;
A godless folk, without a law or priest ;
A thankless folk, who at high-tide and feast
Remember not the Gods ; no image there
Makes glad men's eyes, no painted story fair
Tells of past days ; alone, unhelped they live,
And nought but curses unto any give :
A rude folk, nothing worth, without a head
To lead them forth, â and this morn had I said
A feeble folk and bondsmen of mine own.
But now behold from this same borel town
248 THE EARTHL V PARADISE.
Are these men empty-handed now come back,
And midst these Solymi is little lack
This morn of well-wrought swords and silk attire
And gold that seven times o'er has felt the fire.
" Lo now, thou spak'st of wandering forth again â
Rather be thou my man, and 'gainst these men
Lead thou mine army ; nay, nor think to win
But Httle praise if thou dost well herein,
For these by yesterday are grown so great
That if thou winnest them, midst this red heat
Of victory, a great deed shalt thou do.
And great will thy reward be ; wilt thou go ?
Methought thou hadst a mind to serve me here."
So, as Bellerophon drew more anear,
He thought within his heart, " Ah, then, I know
From all these things why he would have me go ;
Yet since indeed I may not quite depart
From Lycia now, because my new-smitten heart
Is bound with bonds of love unto the land,
Safer am I in armour, sword in hand,
Than midst these silken hangings and fair things,
That well I wot hide many poison-stings :
The Gods are great, nor midst of men am I
Of such as, once being threatened, quickly die."
Then he spake out : " O King, wilt thou then pray
To all the Gods to give me a good day ?
For when I was a youth and dwelt at home
BELLE R OPHON LN L YCIA. 249
Men deemed I knew somewhat of things to come,
And now methinks more dangers I foresee
Than any that have yet been forged for me."
The King frowned at that word, and flushed blood-
As if against his will ; but quickly said.
In a mild voice : " Be of good cheer, O son ;
For if the Gods help not Bellerophon
They will not have to say, that in this land
I prayed their good-will for thee with close hand.
No god there is that hath an altar here
That shall not smoke with something he holds dear
While thou art absent from us â but these men,
Worn as they are, are fain to try again.
As swiftly as may be, what from the Fates
In bloody fields the Lycian name awaits ;
Mine armoury is not empty, yet there are
Unwounded men to furnish forth the war â
Yea, and mine household-folk shall go with thee,
And none but women in mine house shall be.
Until the Lycian shield once more is clean
Through thee, as though no stain had ever been.
Canst thou be ready by the second day
Unto the Solymi to take thy way?"
" So be it," said the wise Corinthian ;
" And here, O King, I make myself tliy man â
May the Gods make us faithful ; but if worse
250 THE EARTHL V PARADISE.
Must happen, on his head fall all the curse
Who does the Avrong ! â Now for thy part see thou
That we who go have everything enow ;
Nor think to hear too soon of victory,
For though a spliced staff e'en as strong may be
As one ne'er broken, lean thou not thereon
Till o'er the narrow way thy feet have won
And thou ma/st try it on the level grass.
Now give me leave, for I am fain to pass
Thy men in order by me, and to find
How best thy wounded honour I may bind."
When first the hero's hand the King's hand took,
But ill belike Jobates that did brook,
And well-nigh drew it back ; yet still it lay
And moved not, and the King made haste to say :
" May the Gods bless us both, as I bless thee,
Who at this tide givest good help to me !
Depart, brave man ; and, doing but thy best,
Howe'er fate goes, by me shalt thou be blest."
Then went Bellerophon, and laboured sore
To give the Lycian folk good heart once more.
Till day passed into night, and in fair dream
And hopeful waking, happy love did gleam.
E'en like the young sun, on the hero's head.
But when the next bright day was well-nigh dead,
SELLER OPHON LN L YCLA. 2 5 1
Within the brazen porch Bellerophon
Stood thinking o'er all things that had been done.
Alone he was, and yearning for his love,
And longing for some deed the truth to prove
Of A 'hat seemed dreamlike now, midst all the stir
Of i-ien and clash of arms ; and wearier
He felt than need was, as the evening breeze
Raised up his hair. But while sweet images
His heart made now of what he once had seen,
There in the dusk, across the garden green,
A white thing fluttered \ nor was steadier
His heart within him, as he thought of her,
And that perchance she came ; and soon anigh
A woman drew, but stopping presently
Over against him, he could see her now
To be a handmaid, and, with knitted brow,
'Was going thence, but through the dusk she cried :
" O fair my lord Bellerophon, abide
And hearken â here my lady sendeth me,
And saith these words withal :
Born of the Lycian King, doth give thee this
Fair blade, and prayeth for thee health and bliss ;
Saying, moreover ; as for this same sword,
Draw it not forth before base man or lord,
But be alone when first it leaves the sheath ;
Yet since upon it lieth life and death,
Surely thou luilt not long delay to see
The face of that bright friend I give to thee."
2 5 2 THE EARTHL V PARADISE.
He felt the cold hilt meet his outstretched hand,
And she was gone, nor longer did he stand
Than but to look if any stood thereby,
Then gat him gone therefrom, and presently
Was lone ^vithin his chamber ; there awhile
He stood regarding %nth a lovesome smile
The well-wrought sword, and fairly was it dight
With gold and gems ; then by the taper's light
He drew it from the sheath, and, sooth to tell.
E'en that he hoped for there\nthal befel.
Because a letter lay 'twixt blade and sheath,
Which straight he opened, and nigh held his breath
For very eagerness, the while he read :
Short is the time, and yet enoiv, it said.
Night-fall it will be when thou readest this.
If thou wouldst live yet, for the weal and bliss
Of many, gird this sword to thee, and go
Down to the quay, and there zvalk to and fro.
Until a seafarer thou meetcst there,
With two behind him 7vho shall torches bear ;
He shall behold the sword, afid say to thee,
'â Is it drawji forth V and say ' Yea, verily.
And the wound healed. ' Then shall he bring thee straight
Unto his keel, which with loose sails doth wait
Thy coming, and shall give thee gold good store,
Nor bide the morn to leave the Lycian shore. â
Farewell ; I would have seen thee, but I feared â
â I feared two things ; first, that we mi^ht be heard
BELLEROPHON IN L YCIA. 253
By green trees and by waHs, and thus should I
Have brought the death on thee I bid thee fly ;
The first â but for the second, since I speak
Now for the hist time â Love has made me weak ;
I feared my heart made base by sudden bliss â
I feared â wilt thou be wroth who readest this ? â
Mijie eyes I saw in thine that other tide;
I thought perchance that here thou mightst abide,
Constrained by Love.
Now if I have said ill,
Shall not my soul of sorrow have its fill
1 sin, but bitter death shall pay therefor.
He read the piteous letter o'er and o'er,
Till fell the tears thereon like sudden rain,
For he was young, and might not love again
With so much pleasure, such sweet bitterness,
Such hope amid that new-born sharp distress
Of longing ; half-content to love and yearn.
Until perchance the fickle wheel might turn.
The well-kissed sword witliin his belt he set.
But ye may well deem was more minded yet
To bide his fortune in the Lycian land,
What fear soe'er before his path might stand ;
And great his soul grew, thinking of the tide
When every hindrance should be thrust aside.
And love should greet him ; calm, as though the dcatli.
He knew so nigh him, on some distant heath
Were sitting, flame-bound, waiting for the word
254 THE EARTHLY PARADISE.
Himself should give ; with hand upon his sword,
Unto the hall he took his way : therein
Was growing great and greater joyful din,
For there they drank unto the coming day ;
And as through all that crowd he made his way,
The shouts rose higher round him, and his name
Beat hard about the stony ears of Fame.
So then beside the Lycian King he sat
A little while, and spake of this and that.
E'en as a man grown mighty ; and at last
Some few words o'er that feasting folk he cast,
Proud, mingling sharp rebuke with confidence.
And bade them feast no more, but going thence
Make ready straight to live or die like men.
And therewithal did he depart again
Amidst them, and for half the night he went
Hither and thither, on such things intent
As fit the snatcher-forth of victory ;
And then, much wondering how such things could be,
That aught but love could move a man at all,
Into a dreamless slumber did he fall,
Wherefrom the trumpet roused him in the morn,
Almost before the summer sun was born ;
And midst the new-born longings of his heart,
From that fair place now must he needs depart
Unguarded and unholpen to his fate.
Nought happed to him 'twixt palace-court and gate
BELLEROPHON IN L YCIA. 2 5 5
Of the fair city ] thronged it was e'en then
With anxious, weeping women and pale men,
But unto him all faces empty were
But one, that nowise might he noAv see there :
Or ere he passed the great gate back he gazed
To where the palace its huge pile upraised
Unto the fresh and windy morning sky,
As seeking if he might e'en now espy
That which he durst not raise his eyes unto
When 'neath its walls he went a while ago.
So through the gate the last man strode, and they
Who in the city seemed so great a stay
Unto that people, as the country-side
About their moving ranks spread bleak and wide.
Showed like a handful, and the town no less
Seemed given up to utter helplessness.
SEVEN days of fear wore by ; Philonoe
Must vex her heart with all that yet might be.
And oft would curse herself that she it was
Through whom such death as his should come to pass.
And weep to think of all her life made lone.
But on the eighth day, at the stroke of noon,
A little band of stained and battered men
256 THE EAR THL V PA RADISE.
Passed through the gate into the town again,
And left glad hearts as well as anxious ones
Behind them, as they clattered o'er the stones
Unto the palace : there the King they found
Set on his throne, with ancient lords around,
And cried to him, "O King, rejoice ! at last
Raised is thy banner, that ill men had cast
Unto the ground ; as safely mayst thou lie
^^'ithin the city of the Solymi
As in this house thou buildedst for thy bliss,
For all things there are thine now, e'en as this."
Then the King rose, and filled a cup â ndth wine,
And said, " All praise be unto things divine !
Yet ere I pour, \\o\\ goes it â \\'ith our folk ?
Did many die before they laid the yoke
On these proud necks ? when will they come again ? '"
" O King," they said, " though they fell not in vain,
Yet many fell ; but now upon the way
Our fellows are : I think on the third day
They wall be here, and needs must they be slow.
Because they have with them a goodly show ;
Wains full of spoil, anus, and most fair attire.
Wrought gold that seven times o'er has felt the fire ;
And men and women of thy stubborn foes
E'en as thou wilt their lives to keep or lose."
" What sayst thou next about Bellerophon,"
BELLEROPHON IN L YCIA. 2 5 7
The King said, " that this day for me hath won ?
Is he ahve yet?"
Then the man waxed pale,
And said, " He Uveth, and of small avail
Man's weapons are against him ; on the wall
He stood alone, for backward did we fall
Before the fury of the Solymi,
Because we deemed ourselves brought there to die,
And might not bear it : then it was as though
A clear bright light about his head did glow
Amidst the darts and clamour, and he turned
A face to us that with such glory burned
That those behind us drave us back again,
And cried aloud to die there in the pain
Rather than leave him, and with such a wave
Of desperate war swept up, they scarce could save
Their inmost citadel from us that tide.
Who at the first with mocks had bidden us bide
A little longer in a freeman's land,
Until their slaves had got their whips in hand
To drive us thence."
Now as he spake, at first
The King like one, who heareth of the worst.
And must not heed it, hearkened, but when he
Had heard his servant's tale out, suddenly
The wine he poured, and cried, "Jove, take thou tliis
In token of the greatness of our bliss,
In earnest of the gifts that thou slmlt have,
Who thus our name, our noble friends didst save."
2 58 THE EARTHLY PARADISE.
So spake he, looking downward, and his heart
In what his hps said, had perchance, some part,
However, driven on by long-sworn oath,
He dealt in things that sore he needs must loathe :
And he who erst had told him of the thing
Seemed fain to linger, as if yet the King
Had something more to say ; but no fresh word
He had for him, but with great man and lord
Made merry, praising wind and wave
That brought Bellerophon their fame to save.
But joyous was the town to hear of this.
For in that place, midst all that men call bliss.
Cold fear was mingled ; such a little band
They seemed, but clinging to a barbarous land,
With strange things round about them ; if the earth
Should open not to swallow up their mirth
And them together, they must deem it good ;
Or if the kennels ran not with their blood,
While a poor remnant, driven forth with whips,
Must sit beneath the hatchways of strange ships.
Of such account as beasts. So there dwelt they,
Trembling amidst their wealth from day to day.
Afraid of god and man, and earth and sky.
Judge, therefore, if they thought not joyously
Of this one fallen amongst them, who could make
The rich man risk his life for honour's sake,
The trembling slave remember what he was,
The poor man hope for what might come to pass.
SELLER OPHON LN L YCTA. 2 5 9
So when the day came when the gates v.-ere flung
Back on their hinges, and the people hung
About the pageant of their folk returned,
And many an eager face about him burned
With new and high desires they scarce could name,
He wondered how such glory on him came,
And why folk gazed upon him as a god.
And would have kissed the ground whereon he trod.
A little thing it seemed to him to fight
Against hard things, that he might see the light
A little longer and rejoice therein,
A little thing that he should strive to win
More time for love ; and even therewithal
Into a dreamy musing did he fall
Amidst the shouts and glitter, and scarce knew
What things they were that he that day did do,
Only the time seemed long and long and long,
The noise and many men still seemed to wrong
The daintiness of his heart-piercing love, â
As through a world of shadows did he move.
Think then how fared his love Philonoe
Amid the din of that festivity !
For if while joy hung betwixt hope and fear
Life seemed a hateful thing to her and drear.
And all men hateful ; if herself she cursed,
The hatefullest of all things and the worst ;
If rest had grown a name for something gone
And not remembered ; if herself alone
2 6o THE EA R THL V PARADISE.
Seemed no more one, but made of many things
All wretched and at strife ; if sudden stings
Of fresh pain made her start up from her place,
And set to some strange unknown goal her face,
And she must stifle wails with bitterest pain â
If all this was, ought she not now to gain
A little rest ? now, when she heard the voice
Of triumph and the people's maddening noise
Round her retuniing love ; still did she bear
Her grinding dread if with a wearier,
Yet with a calmer face, than now she bore
Desire so quickened by that fear past o'er.
She in her garden wandered through the day.
And heavy seemed the hours to pass away.
Her colour came and went, she trembled when
She heard some louder shout of joyous men ;
She could not hear the things her maidens spake.
Nor aught could she seem gracious for their sake ;
The sweetest snatch of some familiar song
She might not hearken ; she abode not long
Within the shadow ; weary of the sun
She grew full soon ; the glassy brook did run
In vain across her feet ; the ice-cold well
Quenched not her thirst ; the half-blown roses' smell
Was not yet sweet enough : the sun sank low,
And then she murmured that the day must go
That should have been so happy : wearily
She laid her down that night, but nought slept she ;
Yet in the morn the new sun seemed to bring
SELLER OPHON LN L YCLA. 2 6 1
A joy to her, and some unnamed dear thing
Better than rest or peace ; for in her heart
She knew that he in all her thoughts had part ;
Yea, and she thought how dreamlike he would ride
Amidst his glory, and how ill abide
The clamour of the feast ; yea, and would not
That night to him belike be dull and hot.
And that dawn hopeful ?
'Neath the wall there was
A place where dewy was the daisied grass
E'en nigh the noon ; a high tower great and round
Cast a long shadow o'er that spot of gi'ound.
And blind it was of window or of door,
For, wrought by long-dead men of ancient lore,
No part it was of that stone panoply
That girt the town ; so lilies grew thereby.
And woodbine, and the odorous virgin' s-bower
Hung in great heaps about that undyked tower,
And lone and silent was the pleasance there.
Thither Love led Philonoe the fair.
And well she knew of him, and still her heart
At every little sound and sight would start.
And still her palms were tingling for the touch
Of other hands, and ever over-much
Her feet seemed light.
But when the bushes gleamed
With something more than the low sun that streamed
Athwart their blossoms, and a clear voice rung
Above the ousel's ; then with terror stung.
2 6 2 THE EAR THL V PA RADISE.
She leaned her sHm and perfect dauitiness
'Gainst the grey tower, and even like distress
Her great joy seemed. Green clad he was that morn,
And to his side there hung a glittering horn,
A mighty unbent bow was in his hand,
And o'er his shoulders did the feathers stand
Of his long arrows ; in his gleaming eyes
Such joy there was as he beheld the prize.
That in that shadow now he seemed to be
A piece of sunlight fallen down suddenly.
So face to yearning face they stood awhile.