Before the sun of that day grew acold
Whereon thou Icft'st me, all that heap was gone
342 THE EARTHLY PARADISE.
Thou sawest there, both hair and flesh and bone :
So when this da\vn I mounted my good steed,
I looked to thee to show forth that my deed,
Lest all should seem a feigned tale or a dream."
" Master," the other said, " thou well mayst deem,
That what thy ^\^ll loosed, my will might not hold ;
E'en as thy tale, so must my tale be told,
And nought is left to show of that dread thing."
E'en as he spake did folk cr}' on the King,
And now to right and left fell back the crowd.
And Aowvl the lane of folk gold raiment glowed,
And blare of silver trumpets smote the roof.
Then said the captain :
" Certes, no more proof
The King will ask, to show that thou hast done
The glorious deed that was for thee alone ;
Be glad, thy day is come, and all is well ! "
But on his sword the hero's left hand fell,
And he looked down and muttered 'neath his breath,
" Trust slayeth many a man, the Avise man saith ;
Yet must I trust perforce." He stood and heard
The joyful people's many-voiced word
Change into a glad shout ; the feet of those
Who drew anear came closer and more close,
Till their sound ceased, and silence filled the hall ;
BELLEROPHON IN L YCIA. 343
And then a soft voice on his ears did fall,
That seemed the echo to his yearning thought :
" Look up, look up ! the change of days hath
Sweet end to our desires, and made thee mine !"
He raised his eyes, and saw gold raiment shine
Before him in the low sun ; but a face
Above it made the murmuring crowded place
Silent and lone ; for there she stood, indeed,
His troublous scarce-kept life's last crown and meed :
Her sweet lips trembled, her dear eyes 'gan swim
In tears that fell not, as she reached to him
One hand in greeting, while a little raised
And restless was the other, as she gazed
Into his eyes, and lowly was her mien ;
But yet a little forward did she lean.
As though she looked for sudden close embrace,
Yet feared it 'neath the strange eyes of that place.
But though his heart was melted utterly
Within him, he but drew a little nigh,
And took her hand, and said :
" What hour is this
That brings so fair a thing to crown my bliss ?
What land far off from that which first I knew ?
How shall I know that such a thing is true,
344 THE EARTHLY PARADISE.
Unless some pain yet falls on thee and me ?
Rather this hour is called eternity,
This land the land of heaven, and we have died
That thus at last we might go side by side
For ever, in the flower-strcAvn happy place."
Then closer to her drew his bright flushed face ;
Well-nigh their lips met, when Jobates cried :
" Good hap, Corinthian ! for thou hast not died ;
The pale land holds no joy like thou wAX. have
If yet awhile the Gods thy dear life save.
Yet mayst thou fear, indeed, for such thou art,
That yet the Gods will have thee play thy part
In heaven and not on earth â€” But come on now.
And see if this my throne be all too low
For thy great heart ; sit here mth me to-day,
And in the shrines of the Immortals pray,
With many offerings, lest they envy thee,
And on the morrow wed Philonoe,
And live thy life thereafter."
So he spake.
Smiling, and yet a troubled look did break
Across the would-be frankness of his smile.
But still the hero stood a little while
And watched Philonoe, as she turned and went
Adown the hall, and then a sigh he sent
From out his heart, and turned unto the King
As one who had no thought that anything
Of guile clung round him, and said :
BELLEROPHON IN L YCIA. 345
" Deem thou not,
O King, that ruin from me thou hast got,
Although I take from thee my due reward ;
For still for thee my hand shall hold the sword,
Nor will I claim more than thou givest me,
And great is that, though a king's son I be."
So on the throne was set Bellerophon,
And on his head was laid the royal crown
Instead of helm ; and just as safe he felt
As though mid half-fed savage beasts he dwelt.
Yet when he went out through the crowded street,
Shouting because of him, when blossoms sweet
Faint with the autumn fell upon his head.
When his feet touched the silken carpet spread
Over the temple-steps ; when the priests' hymn
Rang round him in the inner temple dim,
He smiled for pleasure once or twice, and said :
" So many dangers, yet I am not dead ;
So many fears, yet sweet is longing grown.
Because to-morrow morn I gain my own !
So much desire, and but a night there is
Betwixt me and the perfecting of bliss !"
346 THE EARTHLY PARADISE.
SO fell the noisy day to feastful night,
For sleep was slow to hush the new delight
Of the freed folk ; and in the royal house
Loud did the revellers grow, and clamorous,
And yet that too must have an end at last,
And to their sleeping-places all folk passed
Not long before the shepherds' sleep grew thin.
But listening to the changing of the din,
Philonoe lay long upon her bed.
Nor would sweet sleep come down to bless her head,
No, not when all was still again ; for she,
Oppressed with her new-found felicity,
Had fallen to thoughts of life and death and change,
And through strange lands her wearied heart did range,
And knew no peace ; therefore at last she rose
When all was utter stillness and stood close
Unto the mndow. Such a night it was
That a thin wind swept o'er the garden-grass
And loosened the sick leaves upon the trees ;
Promise of rain there was within the breeze,
Yet was the sky not wholly overcast,
But o'er the moon yet high the grey drift passed,
And with a watery gleam at whiles she shone,
And cast strange wavering shadows do^\â– n upon
The trembling beds of autumn blossoms tall.
And made the dusk of the white garden wall
Gleam like another land against the sky.
BELLEROPHON IN L YCIA. 347
She turned her from the window presently,
And went unto her dainty bed once more ;
But as she touched its silk a change came o'er
Her anxious heart, and listening there she stood.
Counting the eager throbbing of her blood ;
But nought she heard except the night's dim noise ;
Then did she whisper (and her faint, soft voice
Seemed hoarse and loud to her) â€” " Yet will I go
To Pallas' shrine, for fain I am to know
If all things even yet may go aright.
For my heart fails me."
To the blind dusk night
She showed her loveliness awhile half-veiled,
When she had spoke, as though her purpose failed ;
Then softly did she turn and take to her
A dusky cloak, and hid her beauty rare
In its dark folds, and turned unto the door;
But ere she passed its marble threshold o'er
Stayed pondering, and she said :
"Alas, alas !
To-morrow must I say that all this was
And is not â€” this sweet longing? â€” what say men â€”
It cometh once and cometh not again,
This first love for another ? holds the earth
Within its circle aught that is of worth
When it is dead? â€” and this is part of it.
This measureless sweet longing that doth flit.
Never to come again, when all is won.
And is our first desire so soon foredone,
348 THE EARTHLY PARADISE.
Like to the rose-bud, that through day and night
In early summer strives to meet the Hght,
And in some noon-tide of the June, bursts sheath.
And ere the eve is past away in death ?
BeHke love dies then like the rest of life ?
â€” Or falls asleep until it mix with strife
And fear and grief? â€” and then we call it pain,
And curse it for its labour lost in vain.
" Sweet pain ! be kind to me and leave me not I
Leave me not cold, with all my grief forgot.
And all the joy consumed I thought should fill
jMy changing troubled days of life, until
Death turned all measuring of the days to nought !
"And thou, O death, when thou my life hast caught
Within thy net, what wilt thou with my love.
That now I deem no lapse of time can move }
O death, maybe that though I seem to pass
And come to nought, with all that once I was.
Yet love shall live I called a part of me.
And hold me in his heart despite of thee,
And call me part of him, when I am dead
As the world talks of dying."
So she said.
But scarcely heard her voice, and through the door
Of her own chamber passed ; light on the floor
Her white feet fell, her soft clothes rustled nought,
As slowly, \\Tapped in many a changing thought,
Unto the Maiden's shrine she took her way
That midmost of the palace precincts lay ;
BELLEROPHON IN L YCIA. 349
But in a chamber that was hard thereby,
Although she knew it not, that night did he
Her love that was, her lord that was to be.
Through the dark pillared precinct, silently
She went now, pausing every now and then
To listen, but heard little sound of men ;
Though far off in the hill-side homesteads crowed
The waking fowl, or restless milch-kine lowed
In the fair pastures that her love had saved ;
And from the haven, as the shipmen heaved
Their sail aloft, a mingled strange voice came.
So as she went, across her flitted shame
Of her own loneliness, and eager love
That shut the world out so, and she 'gan move
With quicker steps unto the temple-stead,
Scarce knowing what her soft feet thither led.
Within an open space the temple was,
And dark-stemmed olives rose up from the grass
About it, but a marble path passed o'er
The space betwixt the cloister and its door
Of some ten yards ; there on its brink she stayed,
And from the cloister watched the black trees swayed
In the night breeze. E'en as a bather might
Shrink from the water, from the naked night
She shrank a little â€” the wind wailed within
3 5 o THE EAR THL V PARADISE.
The cloister walls, the clouds were gotten thin
About the moon, and the night 'gan to wane â€”
Then, even as she raised her skirts again
And put her foot forth, did she hear arms clash.
And feat and shame her heart did so abash,
She shrank behind a pillar ; then the sound
Of footsteps smote upon the hardened ground.
And 'gainst the white steps of the shrine she saw
From out the trees a tall dark figure draw
Unto the holy place : the moon withal
Ran from a cloud now, and her light did fall
Upon a bright steel helm : she trembled then.
But her first thought was not of sons of men ;
Of the armed goddess, rather, did she think,
And closer in her hiding-place did shrink.
Then though the moon grew dull again, yet she
Ten shapes of armed men at the last could see
Steal up the steps and vanish from the night.
And a sharp pang shot through her ; but affright
She felt not now of gods : she murmured low ;
" What do these men-at-arms in such guise now
Amidst the feast ? God help me, we are caught
Within a brazen net !"
And with that thought
No more delay she made, but girt her gown
Unto her, and with swift feet went adown
The marble steps, and so from tree to tree,
Through all the darkest shadow, silently
SELLER OPHON IN L YCIA. 3 5 1
Gained the dark side of the brass temple door ;
And through its chink she saw the marble floor
Just feebly lit by some small spark of light
She saw not, and the gleam of armour white,
And knew that she unto the men was close.
E'en as some sound that loud and louder grows
Within our dreams and yet is nought at all
She heard her heart, as clinging to the wall
She strove to listen vainly ; but at last
All feebleness from out her did she cast
With thought of love â€” and death that drew anearâ€”
And therewithal a low voice did she hear,
She thought she knew.
" Milo the Colchian ?"
It said as asking, and another man
Said " Here" in a hoarse voice and low; once more
The first voice said; "The Clearer of the Shore,
Known by no other name the people say.
Art thou here too?" a new voice muttered " Yea."
And then again the first :
" My tale told o'er
And none found wanting â€” since ye know wherefore
We here are met, few words are best to-night :
Within the ivory chamber, called the White,
Lies the ill monster's bane, asleep belike.
Or, at the worst without a sword to strike.
Or shield to ward withal ; his wont it is
To have few by him ; on this night of bliss
3 5 2 THE EAR THL Y PARADISE.
Those few of night-cropped herbs enow have drunk,
And deep in shnnber like short death are sunk :
So light our work is ; yet let those who lack
Heart thereunto e'en at this hour go back ;
Though â€” let these take good heed that whatsoe'er
We risk hereafter they in likewise share,
Except the risk of dying by his sword."
He ceased awhile, and a low muttered word
Seemed to say, " We are ready :" then he said :
" When he is slain, then shall ye bear his bed
Into this shrine, and bum what burned may be
In little space ; but into the deep sea
Thou Clearer of the Shore, ^\â€¢ith thy two men
Shalt bear him forth. â€” Fellows, what say we then,
When on the mom the city wakes to find
Its saviour gone ? This : â€” ' Men are fools and blind,
And the Gods all-wise ; this man born on earth
By some strange chance, yet was of too great worth
To live, and go as common men may go ;
Therefore the Gods, who set him work to do,
\VTien that was done, had no more will to see
His head grow white ; or with man's frailty
Bum out his heart ; they might not hear him curse
His latter days, as unto worse and worse
He fell at last ; therefore they took him hence
To make him sharer in omnipotence.
And crown him with their immortality,
BELLEROPHON IN L YCIA. 353
Nor may ye hope his body more to see.
These ashes of the web wherein last lay
His godlike limbs that took your fear away,
(Limbs now a very god's), this fire-stained gold
That, unharmed, very god might nowise hold,
Are left for certain signs â€” so shall ye rear
A temple to him nigh the gate; and bear
Gifts of good things unto the one who wTought
Deliverance for you, when ye e'en were brought
Unto the very gate of death and hell.'
" Fellows, spread vaguely this tale that I tell !
But thou, O Chremes, when the work is done
Get straight unto the forest all alone.
And with some slaughtered beast come back again
Ere noon, as though of hearers thou wert fain ;
Folk know thee for a wanderer through the wood,
So make thy tale up as thou deemest good
Of voices heard by thee at dead of night ;
So shall our words live and all things be right.
" Come, then ; the night is changing ; good it were
That dawn's first glimmer did not find us here !"
So spake he, and then opened wide the door,
And all seemed lonely there as heretofore ;
So one by one adown the steps they stole.
Setting their anxious faces to the goal
Of the White Chamber.
Fair-footed, tender-limbed, and where was she?
4 A A
354 THE EARTHLY PARADISE.
Her sick heart did but note the name and place
They spoke of, ere she moved her woe-worn face
From the cold brass, and stayed to hear no more.
But stole away as silent as before,
Keeping love back till all were lost or won ;'
Nor knew she what she set her feet upon
Till, panting, through his chamber-door she passed ;
There through the dusk a quick glance round she cast
And saw his men asleep, nor knew if they
Were dead, or if in sleep indeed they lay ;
Then wath such haste as a spent man, borne down
A swift stream, catches at some bare bough broAvn,
From off the wall she took sword, shield, and spear,
Hauberk and helm, and drew his bed anear,
And stayed not now, nor thought, but on his breast,
Laid bare before her, a light hand she pressed,
And as he started upright in the bed
Beneath her touch, bowed down to him and said :
" Speak not, but listen to Philonoe,
Thy love, and save thy life for thee and me !
Thy foes are on thee ! make no more delay
As thou art wise ! â€” needs must I go away;
I do my part â€” one minute more shall show,
If love in death or life we are to know."
His lips yet trembled, yet his heart did ache
With longing, ere he felt he was awake
And knew that she was gone, and knew not where :
BELLEROPHON IN L YCIA. 3 5 5
So driving back desire he armed him there
Over his nakedness, and hastily
Caught up his weapons, and turned round to see
What help was nigh : and when he saw his men
Lie on the floor as dead, well deemed he then
His hour was come ; and yet he felt as though
He scarce might tell if it were hard to go,
So short all life seemed that must end at last ;
But therewith nowise hope from him he cast,
But on the golden bed he took his stand,
And poised the well-steeled spear in his right hand.
And waited listening.
Mid the fallen leaves' sound,
Driven by the autumn wind along the ground.
Footfalls of stealthy men he seemed to hear ;
Yet nowise might that minute teach him fear,
Who life-long had not learned to Â§peak the name ;
Calm to his lips his steady breath still came.
Well-nigh he smiled ; wide open were his eyes,
As though they looked to see life's mysteries
Unfolded soon before them ; as he gazed
Through the dusk room, he heard the light latch
And saw the door move.
A gleam of bright light from the sky did fall,
As from a fleecy cloud the white moon ran.
And smiling, stern, unlike the face of man,
His helmed head high o'er the black-shadowed floor
3S6 THE EARTHLY PARADISE.
Showed strange and dreadful, as the ivory door
Swung back on well-oiled hinges silently.
Silence a little space yet, â€” then a cry
Burst from his lips, and through the chamber rang
A shriek of fear therewith, and a great clang
Of falling arms, and the bright glittering brand
Instead of the long spear was in his hand.
But for his foes, across the threshold lay
Their leader slain, and those his fellows, they
Hung wavering by the door, and feared the night,
And feared the godlike man, who in his might
Seemed changed indeed according to the tale
They were to tell : but as with faces pale
And huddled spears they hung there, in their doubt
If he were God or man, a mighty shout
Came from his lips ag&in, and there was cast
Across the windy night a huge horn's blast.
Hoarse, loud, and long-enduring ; and they fled
This way and that, pursued by nought but dread.
But strange tales of that night of fear they told
In after days. Some said they did behold,
As through the mighty outer door they ran,
A woman greater than a child of man.
All armed and helmed : some told of a bright flame
Glowing about the hero, when they came
Unto the door, and said that his one word
Had slain their leader swifter than a sword.
BELLEROPHON IN L YCIA. 3 5 7
But for Bellerophon, awhile he stood
Nigh to the door until his wrathful mood
Changed into scorn ; and then the moonlight wan
With kindled light he helped, and then the man
His spear had reached in strong arms he upraised ;
But when he saw the eyes that on him gazed
With dead stare, then he knew the captain's face.
" Fool," said he, " fear hath brought thee to this case,
Long hadst thou lived for me â€” but is this all ?
Will not the voice of Sthenoboea call
O'er the green waves to ghosts of lovers dead,
Ere yet the bridal wreath is on my head ?"
E'en as he spake he heard the horn once more,
And then a sound as if on a low shore
The sea were breaking, then a swelling shout
That louder grew, till his own name leapt out
From midst of it, and then he smiled and cried :
" Proetus, thy casket held a goodly bride,
A noble realm for me ! O love, I come \
Surely thine heart has won me a fair home.
Instead of that straight house I should have had
If these eyes had not made thy dear heart glad."
Therewith he sheathed his sword, and stepping o'er
His cumbered threshold, made for the great door,
Whither the wakened house now thronging ran :
358 THE EARTHLY PARADISE.
Men armed and unarmed, child and ancient man ;
For death it was to wind that mighty horn,
But when in dangerous battle it was borne
By the king's hand. Now nigher as he drew
Unto the door he 'gan to see therethrough
The points of steel tossing amid the light
Of torches, and the wind of waning night
Bore sound of many men on it ; but dim
The pillared hall was yet. Then close to him
A slim close-mantled woman came and said :
" Go forth and speak â€” we twain are not yet dead.
I think we shall not die at all, dear heart ;
Farewell ! "
His soul and body seemed to part,
As swiftly, shadow-like, she passed him by,
And toward her chamber went : unmttingly
He gained the great door's platform, and looked down
Upon the tumult of the gathering town.
While at his back a dark mass clustered now.
With helmet on the head, and spear and bow ;
So, gathering earthly thoughts, he stood and cried :
" WTiat ^\^ll ye, good men, that ye make this tide
More noisy than the day ? ^Vhat will ye do ?
Speak out, that we may rest, some one of you !"
Then stood a man forth, clad in armour bright.
BELLEROPHON IN L YCIA. 359
And cried aloud : " O, well betide the night
That hides thee not from us, Bellerophon !
Surely we deemed some horror had been done,
And deemed the Gods had ta'en thee from our hands ;
Because the horn, the terror of far lands,
The gift of Neptune, did we seem to hear."
Then said the hero : " Ah, then all the fear
The beast divine brought with it is not gone !
Masters, ye dreamed belike â€” nor dreamed alone
Strange dreams; for I dreamed too, â€” that all-armed
Beset my door to take my life ; and when
I went therefrom e'en now, why yet I dreamed
E'en as I went upright â€” because meseemed
Over my threshold lay a man new slain.
Be merry, O my masters ; go again
Unto your well-hung beds ; to-morrow comes.
Whereon ye praise the Gods for your saved homes
With great rejoicings, and raise hands for me
And my beloved midst your festivity."
He ceased, and a great shout the twilight rent.
And one by one unto their homes they went.
Then turned the Prince unto the palace band,
..A.nd saw a certain one on his right hand.
Making as he would speak, and knew him straight
To be the man who had the heart to wait
The beast now slain. Smiling on him, he said :
36o THE EARTHLY PARADISE.
" What, hast thou dreamed the monster was not dead ?
Good is it that the grain is gathered in,
Else should men dream that they the crop did win
Last week, and let it stand afield to rot I "
" Nay," said the man, " O master, I dreamed not ;
But from yon flanking tower, waking, I saw
A shadowy figure toward the great horn draw,
And blow a blast thereon, then vanish quite,
Not like a mortal thing, into the night."
Then spake a grey old man : " Yea, think thereon
As of a portent, O Bellerophon,
Of wondrous things to come, that thou shalt see.
As showing forth how great thy days shall be ;
For doubt not this was Pallas, who would show
How great a gift she gives the city now."
Again from these there rang a joyous shout ;
But the Prince hung his head, as if in doubt
Of the new time with hidden lies begun.
At last he said :
" Go, friends, ere yet the sun
Has slain the stars outright ; what things soe'er
May hap, the Gods will have of me good care.
This night at least'"
So through the house they went
Each to his place, when nigh the night was spent.
BELLEROPHON IN L YCIA. 3 6 1
But when to his own door Bellerophon
Was come, the captain's body was clean gone,
And the drugged men were waking. Then he thought,
' Was it a dream, indeed, that these things brought
Before mine eyes ? Nay, my Hps tremble yet
With that sweet touch. My breast may more forget
This hauberk's weight, than that sweet clinging hand.
I dreamed not, and this haunted Lycian land
Holds for me good and evil infinite.
So be it, and the new returning light
Shall bring new rede to guard my troubled ways.
May the Gods give beginning of good days ! "
Then on the bed he sat to think of her,
But ere the end of the grey time was there
His head had fallen aside ; sleeping he lay,
And let the bright sun bring about the day.
HE woke at last, and fresh and joyous felt.
As forth he went ; no sword within his belt
He set that morn ; he bore no biting spear ;
But clad he was in gold and royal gear,
Such as a King might bear in Saturn's reign ;
And in such wise the great hall did he gain.
And on the ivory throne he sat him down,
3 6 2 THE EARTHL Y PARADISE.
And felt the golden circle of the crown,
But light as yet, upon his unused head.
Then to his presence were strange people led ;
Hunters from far-oft" corners of the realm,
Shipmen with hands well hardened by the helm,
Merchants who in strange tongues must bid him thrive,
And dainty cherished things unto him give :
And still he wearied, and their words forgot.
And wondered why the other King came not.
But yet, before the ending of the morn,
The casket that his own hands once had borne,
Was brought unto him by a man, who spake
In this wise :
"King Jobates bids thee take,
O King Bellerophon, what lies herein.