Charles Wharton Stork.

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The thanks of the Author are due to the Board o
Graduate Trustees of Han>ard University for permission
to reprint " THE SCULPTOR OF MELOS," printed in the
Thir.l Volume of " Verses from the Harvard Advocate."







" Das Land der Griechen mit der Seele suchend.








I. To ZEUS 9




To Zeus

Written in the Vale of Tempe

Ah no, thou art not dead. The dimming years
Have cast no shadow on thy tranquil brow,
Although perchance our eyes are blinded now

By swirling dust of sophist doubts and fears.

Yet here to me thy form serene appears
Majestic as of old, when on the prow
Of chafing Argo Jason made his vow

To thee amid the Greeks resounding cheers.

There stands thy dais with its mantle white,

These plane trees are thy flowing garment s hem,

And thou art here. The creature of a day
Looks and believes. Time s veil before his sight
Sweeps back ; he sees thy robe, thy diadem,
And feels that thou hast never passed away.


The Sculptor of Melos

Finished at last for all the world to see,

My statue stands. A statue did I say ?

Nay, rather a goddess fair as Venus self,

When from her seashell in Cythera s foam

She stepped in virgin freshness. O ye gods,

Receive a sister in your high domain

To share your royal banquet. What long years

I ve toiled to coax from out this stubborn block

Its mystery of beauty. Night on night

I spent in sleepless visions, day by day

I plied my chisel, guided by the hand

Of great Apollo, god of all the arts.

Now it is done ; then what remains to do ?

Behold her ! Is she not perfection s self ?
Her forehead smooth with hair in ample folds


Drawn back above the temples, her pure brow
And profile cleanly cut in classic line ;
Then see the supple neck how softly curved,
Those breasts where Mars might lay his warlike head,
That yielding waist, those round limbs moulded


Their clinging robes Ah, Zeus, but she is fair !
Withal so noble. Would you care to know
How first I saw her ? There was once a maid,
Her name lone, and her beauty more
Than mortal dared to dream of. She it was,
Who kindled in my eager brain the thought
That I should form this Venus. She it was,
In the first glow of girlish innocence,
Who stood as model for me. I had loved her,
But that my dreams were more to me than life ;
And loving more my art, I told her not,
Lest, grown self-conscious, all her virgin charm
Should vanish in a blush ; and when I feared
That love might touch her heart too soon, I spoke
Of our great purpose till her languid eyes
Would light to think that she should be immortal,
And she would never sigh for earthly love.



So we lived on till yesterday, for then

I struck the last stroke, and the statue stood

Even as you see it now. But when I turned

To fold the girl in my victorious arms,

My heart misgave me. For she was so pure

With newly ripened beauty, that it seemed

As if she too deserved to win the gift

Of everlasting youth, just as the statue.

That moment s loveliness could never last

Above a month or two, and then would come

The withering summer days of dust and heat,

Marring those perfect lines. How could I keep


Forever young and fair ? At last I spoke.
" lone, now you stoop a thought too far.
See ! I must set you right/ And where her heart
Was beating proud and guileless, there I drove
My dagger and she sank into my arms.
Ah ! then I kissed her wildly, pressed her close
My own lone, mine forevermore !
And both forever deathless, for above
The statue gazed upon us, and I knew
Thai Venus could not perish, and our souls



Were both transfused throughout the marble there.

And for myself this life, what matters it ?

It may be I shall hie me to the wars,

Or take the lover s leap. Why should I care ?

When death begins my immortality.


I wonder why it seems so long ago

Since I was with my sheep on Ida s slope

That fateful day. Where was I when I saw

The eagle ? I remember clearer now.

Twas on a languid summer afternoon,

I lay beneath a cedar by a stream,

And watched the westering sunlight glinting through

The misty foliage. My sheep grazed near,

And I was leaning back with eyes half-closed

When, like a gold-rimmed mote against the blue,

I saw the bird of Jove. Idly at first

I followed as he fell, and grew, and spread,

Winging his lonely and portentous way

With mighty sweep and long, majestic poise,

Till straight above my flock he stayed his flight.


Like some dark pirate from the Lesbian shore,
Marring the Hellespont with sable sail
And menacing a white-walled fishing town,
Defenceless ; so above his helpless prey
The eagle hung, then sudden, sheer as fate,
Dropped. But by this I started to my feet
And ran all weaponless to save my lambs.
The bird had pounced on one, my youngest ; I,
Desperate, thoughtless, leaped upon his back.
When, strange to tell, I felt his body grow
Beneath me, and he rose into the air.
I dug my fingers deep into the down
And clung as to a crumbling cliff, while up
And ever up we mounted. First, my eyes
Were blind with flapping wings ; but as we rose,
The beats came seldomer, for one strong waft
Sufficed to send us far upon our way.
Then I looked down. Already my poor sheep,
Scattered in terror at their master s fate,
Were specks diminishing against the green.
A slow, relentless sweep of buoyant wings,
And when I looked again I saw proud Troy,
Her thread-fine streets most like a spider s web


Which centred in the thronging market-place.
Beyond to westward swam the purple sea,
Dotted with silver sails and rocky isles.
On o er the strait we held our steady course
Toward barren Thrace and rugged Macedon
Where, I had heard men say, Olympus raised
His hoary citadel, the home of Jove.
But now the coast was curtained by a mass
Of storm-piled cloud that swung above the sea ;
While lashing gusts, like bending charioteers,
Urged on ten thousand tossmg-crested steeds
Shaking the salt foam from their bitted lips.
Sudden the wind blew dinning round my ears
And flung my hair across my fear-moist brow.
Deep plumage warmed my breast, but round my


The cold air eddied like a snow-chilled spring.
The glaring light grew faint. Great ragged shapes
Had flaunted o er the sky and dimmed the sun,
While from their depths the distant thunder spoke.
Came a wild rush of tempest-loosened air,
And now the plashy rain-drops stung my back

Harder and faster in a sluicing stream.



Then lightning quivered like a brandished spear

Full at my shrinking eyes. I held my breath

Till with a crash the thunder smote my ears

And rolled away in distant resonance.

But on as through the jaws of Tartarus

The eagle bore me through the storm, now black,

Now blazing. Then I closed my eyes and prayed

To Pan, the shepherd s go.l, to bring me back

To Ida s slope to shield my helpless lambs

Unshepherded beneath the savage gale.

So as I prayed, meseemed I lay once more

On Ida s smiling slope amid the thyme

And bright anemones, purple and scarlet,

With all around my frisking lambs at play,

When a harsh roar as of a splitting crag

Awoke me, and I sank down limp with fright

To know I still was on the eagle s back

In the storm s heart, but nigh had slipped my hold

While vainly dreaming. Yet, great Pan be

thanked !

That awful clap of thunder was the last.
Quickly the tempest fled, the light streamed down
Upon me, till through wisps of thinning cloud


The great sun glowed, and I looked out at him.
Now from his bronze-gilt wings the eagle shook
Bright pearly drops that sparkled rainbow hues,
While I tossed back my dripping locks to bathe
My face in light I had not hoped to see.
Over my shoulder flew the last torn shred
Of cloud, and all the sky and air was clear.
Below were Thracian herdsmen driving home
Their pygmy creeping flocks through freshened


Towards cottages whence curling smoke arose.
Bare hills stood gold-crowned in the mellow light,.
Until upon a far-off rim of black
The red, slow sun melted away and sank.
Stillness came o er me then with such relief
That, clasping tense arms round the eagle s neck,.
I sank my head and let my senses swim

I wakened in this wide Olympus hall,
Where as my nightly task I bear the bowl
Of nectar to the gods, their kingly slave.
But when the glitter of the feast grows pale



And the great guests have parted one by one,
I come and stand here on the mountain s brink
And gize away toward my own native shore,
Wondering who tends my sheep on Ida s slope
Now I am gone, and if they miss me there.


The Wanderings of Psyche

" Oh latest-born and loveliest vision far
Of all Olympus faded hierarchy ! "


To R. C.


FAR in the blue perspective of lost years
When Greece was young and the immortal gods
Still walked with men, there lived a mighty king,.
The father of three daughters. Two were fair,
As human fairness goes, but ah ! the third
Seemed not of earth, but like a sylph composed
All of the nobler elements ; some flower,
Pure as the air and golden as the sun,
To catch the joy of springtide in its cup.
She moved as lightly as a summer cloud
That floats on high in white tranquility.


Her name was Psyche, and she scarce had reached
Her maiden blossom-time when all the shrines
Of Venus were neglected, for the folk
Thronged to the palace for a glimpse of her,
Saying, " This goddess we are bid to serve,
We have not seen nor yet are like to see.
Tis better we should worship what we know."
From cold, deserted shrines the priests sent up
Their prayers to slighted Venus, till she frowned,
And summoning her purple-winged son,
She thus addressed him, " See st thou, heedless boy,
How thy once honoured mother now is scorned
All for a mortal girl ? Thou carest not.
Nay, if thou dost, revenge her. In my court,
As well thou knowest, two bright fountains play
Of sorrow one to lovers, one of joy.
Fill thou these flasks, fly to the maid, make sure
That she no more shall prank her insolence
In colours won from me." Cupid obeyed.
Entering the court, he watched the silver founts
Spout forth their glittering, fateful drops that

Into one marble basin for a type



Of mingled joy and bitterness in love
Then filled his bubbling flasks and flew away.

Swiftly did Cupid wing the radiant air,
Until as Phoebus chariot neared the sea,
A light wind bore her to the rose-wreathed bower
Where Psyche slept. The westering sunlight stole
On tip-toe in to touch her parted lips,
And dwell in breathless rapture with a soft
Caress upon the tangled skein of gold
That crowned her queenly brow. Then Cupid came
As noiseless as the sunlight and as rapt.
Revenge, unfed by anger, smouldered low ;
And he who came to punish, stayed to gaze.
A shadow of her future passing o er
Psyche s unconscious eyes half frighted off
The slumber weighing softly on the lids.
She stirred a blue-veined hand, while Cupid gazed
Tremorous with hope and fear, but she awoke not.
Her cheek, part pillowed on her bended arm,
Was smooth as alabaster and as cool.
The slight warm-tinted throat lay bare, her robe
Rose lightly with her breath and lightly fell.
Long Cupid looked and sighed unconsciously ;


But love is half caprice. Just then his eyes,

Sinking bedazzled, fell upon the flask

Of his stored vengeance. This, then, was the


That shamed his mother. Ere a second thought
He poured the baneful stream on Psyche s lips.

With stifling sobs she struggled from her sleep,
Her violet eyes o erbrimmed with trembling tears.
He, all amazement at the sudden change
Wrought by his deed, let slip the barbed dart
He just had drawn to fix a restless love
In Psyche s bosom; and the treacherous point,
Turning against the archer, smote him deep
How deep he knew not then, but full of pity
And soft remorse, he took the flask of joy
And bathed the maiden s face with balmy drops.
Then, in sweet terror of he knew not what,
He fled her glance which pierced him through



As fluttering petals from the apple-bough
Detached by listless summer s languid hand,
So Psyche s girlhood pleasures at the touch
Of feverish longing, vague and undefined,
Fell off and floated from her. Now no more
She mingled with her maidens in the dance
Where once her slender form swayed gracefulest.
She fled the ball-play and the festal songs
To muse in solitude. Her elder sisters
Were wooed and wedded both ; but Psyche still,
Worshipped by all but never loved by one,
Charmed with her lute the silence of her bower.
At length the good king, anxious for his last
And best-beloved, sent to Delphi s shrine
Wherein Apollo s voice oracular
Darkly foretells the doubtful fate of men.
Thus spoke the Pythoness, " On such a day
Prepare the feast, for Psyche then must wed



That creature dreaded most by all the gods ;
Before whose might grim Pluto s self has bowed,
And wrathful Neptune, shaker of the earth,
Nay, even Jove admits his sovereignty.
Perform the sacred rites and send her forth
To meet her husband on Mount Eremos."
With deepest grief the old king read the scroll
He could not but obey ; and at the time
Appointed, all the festal rites fulfilled,
Her handmaids led their white-veiled mistress

With mournful marriage hymn. No flowers were


No torches burned, but on the fatal mount
The pale bride, cowering like a frightened dove
Beneath the falcon menace of her fate,
Raised up her tear-sad face to kiss her sire,
While he, embracing her in silence, turned
Away his eyes from the ill-omened sight.
The long procession solemnly withdrew,
And Psyche sank down prostrate to the ground.

The sunset sent no ray of hope to her,
The wan stars looked down coldly on her grief,


Till at the last, outwearied with suspense,
She raised her body from the cruel earth
And prayed for pity to the western breeze !

4< O Zephyr, gray-winged Zephyr, wind of even,
That bearest dew to all the drooping flowers,
And quiet to the birds and folded flocks,
That waftest sleep across the weary eyes
Of men and lullest every care to rest,
Have mercy, too, on me and comfort me.
Stoop down and bear me from this hateful spot,
Although thou dash me on the rocks below."

And Zephyr, hearing, gently took her up,
Soothing her anguish with his tender touch,
And bore her from the mount, she knew not



With the first saffron glow, ere yet the dawn
Or consciousness burst flooding on her mind,
While dreams of girlish days in flowery fields
Still drifted through her slumber, Psyche thought
To wake and find herself as heretofore
Safe in her little bed whence oft the sun,
Her playfellow, had roused her, peeping in
Beneath her eyelashes as if to say,
" Come, little sister. See ! I wait for you."
But no, the room wherein she found herself
Was large and dim, with gold-wrought arras hung,,
The wood-work richly carved, the whole more


Than any chamber of her father s house.
Half awed, half frightened by such stateliness,
She rose, and putting on her wedding robes,
Fled out into the daylight. There the sun
Greeted her gladly as of old and made


Familiar even the strange walks and groves
Mid which she found herself. Above her arched
Great fountain-strays of palm that seemed to bow
Like giant servitors along her path.
Beyond, an ordered grove of orange trees,
Their dark green branches hung with golden fruit,
WHS spread. And there were meadows flecked

with flowers ;

The pink-veined white of slender asphodels,
Languid Narcissi by the waterside,
And wind-flowers, crimson dots against the grass.
Nor was the garden silent. From the trees,
Where in the dimness flitted gorgeous birds,
Blue, red and orange as from tropic climes,
A stream of intermittent melody
Poured rippling down, each bird with rill-like


Swelling the flood of song, while from the fields
The tremulous chirping of the cicada
Shrilled like the audible quivering of the heat.
A sandy glade o ergrown with lowly thyme
Was vocal witn the grumbling of the bees.
The livelong day did Psyche wander there,


Tasting the fruit or listening to the birds,

Or resting in the shadow of the palms

To quaff the fragrant air deliciously,

Forgetful of her grief ; until at last,

Wearied and lonely, as the dusk drew down

Across the shining sky, she turned about

And sought the palace. In the festal hall

A hundred torches burned and in the midst

Was spread a sumptuous banquet, but most

strange !

No human face had Psyche yet beheld.
Her heart was timid, but in all these scenes
Of varied loveliness a guardian hand
Seemed still to guide and soothe her lightest


Reclining at the feast, she heard from far
Sweet voices mingling with the dove-toned lyre.
Nearer the music drew till she could hear
The words by those aerial minstrels sung,
Of ancient kings, of love and warlike deeds.
Touched by the plaintive sorrow of the songs,
Psyche lay wondering till night closed down
And it was time to seek her bridal bed.


Through the low casement full-orbed Dian

glowed ;

To her the maiden prayed, " O Virgin pure,
Sailing serenely on through straits of cloud,
Hear and protect thy helpless votaress
From all the fears of darkness and of doubt.
Beam from thy sovereign height ethereal
And shed a benediction on my couch.
Ah, guard me." Here a floating shadow veiled
The casement s light, faint rustling stirred the air.
A scent more sweet than winds o er southern seas
Was wafted in. All trembling Psyche stood
With lips apart, the quick breath quivering through,
Half faint with terror, yet not all afraid.
The form bent down, two warm, soft arms stretched


And took her gently ; then a tender mouth
Was pressed to hers, she felt the dim star-shine
Of two great eyes, lovingly luminous.
Her lord had come to claim her for his wife.



Psyche awoke to find that it was day,

And all her formless cloudy memories

Were as a dream of folding arms and kisses

That melted in the light ; but yet her heart

Grew passionate in denial, for she knew

By all the wisdom of her new-born self

The wondrous dream was true. So passed the


In hope and hushed expectancy of night.
Again her unseen husband came to her,
And Psyche sank into his yielding arms.
So followed countless days and countless nights.

Ah, restless race of mortals, ever prone
To seek the cause of happiness and net
To thank the gods for happiness itself !
Who then, of womankind had been more blest
Than Psyche had she trusted in her fate ?


A feverish, inquisitive discontent

Impelled her to transgress her lord s command

And seek to see his face. That very night

Gravely and tenderly he spoke to her :

* Psyche, my sweetest, art thou not at peace ?

Is not my love enough for thee, do not

Obedient hands fulfil they every wish ?

Why this distrust ? " And Psyche was ashamed.

Then he continued, " Know, my gentle bride,

Thou may st not look upon my face as yet.

See thou attempt it not, else ruin dire

Will straightway fall on us and blight our love.

But tell me, hast though any other wish ?

Tis granted with the asking." She replied

And said, " I pray thee let my sisters come

And visit me. Tis lonely all day long

While tfcou are absent."

" This I feared," he sighed,

" And would I might dissuade thee from thy will."
But Psyche s heart was stubborn and she said,
" I wish it," till he answered, " Be it so."

On the next day her sisters came to her.
They feigned to marvel much, but envy stirred


Their shallow hearts till the black hate rose up.
Swift is the sympathy of evil minds,
As from an ugly cloud the lightning-flash
Darts to the next. The snare was quickly laid.
41 Come hither Psyche, child, and tell us of
The princely bridegroom." Guileless, she replied,
" I never see him, for he comes at night,
And ere the eager ringers of the dawn
Uncurtain day, he kisses me farewell."
" What," cried the sister, " can it really be
That you have never seen him ? Fine, forsooth !
A pretty marriage ! Know you not the doom
That you should wed some monster feared by all
The gods ? And now be sure he fattens you
To make the better feast, or keeps you slave
To his vile lust. But we ll frustrate him yet.
Prepare a lamp to-night to place beneath
Your pillow ere he comes, then whet a knife
To the keenest. Nerve your spirit for the deed,
And when he sleeps, steal slyly from his arms,
Light your lamp, strike, sever your loathsome


They parted, but the words in Psyche s heart


Rankled and poisoned it with dire mistrust.
Who was her lord, and why this secrecy
With her he feigned to love ? Too soon forgot
The gentle words of warning tenderness.
Unceasing rang the jangling oracle:
" That creature dreaded most by all the gods."
She trimmed her lamp and made the dagger keen.
That night he did not speak to her or kiss her
As he was wont to do, but turned away
And after a little slept. She listened close
To hear his breath soft-drawn and regular.
Almost she had relented but almost.
Hardened by her bad purpose, she drew forth
The lamp and knife, stifling her struggling gasps.
Quickly she struck the flint and stood prepared
To kill.

At first the sudden flame flared up,
Dazzling her deadly purpose ; then she saw,
Head upon arm the fairest of the gods
And youngest. Ivory was that arm, the cheek
It pillowed rosy as a sunset cloud.
Loose o er the brow ambrosial ringlets strayed,
Fluttering with the breeze how trustfully !



Behind his head the folded wings shone white
As those of Venus doves. While Psyche leaned,
The sleeper stirred, and she in shrinking back
Let fall a burning drop of oil upon
His smooth, bare shoulder.

Waking in pain, he sent one sorrowing look
To Psyche s soul, then spread his gleaming wings
And bird-like slipped from her detaining arms.
Reeling to the window, helpless, desperate,
She saw him rise and vanish in the night.



Dull throbbed the pain in Psyche s breast. Before
Her eyes unclosed, while yet her mind was dark,
She felt the leaden weight of dull despair.
Gone was the palace, vanished was the grove
And she was lying prostrate in the dust,
Alone once more upon the lonely mount.
Yet, like the bright-winged hope Pandora found
Within the box whence all her troubles came,
This secret joy whispered in Psyche s breast :
Her husband was a god and he had loved her.
Loved her, at last she understood, she drank
The bitter drops of Venus bitter fountain.
Then purpose, like a god, inspired each nerve
With sudden strength. She raised herself, then


Her dusty robe and smoothed it decently,
For she was now resolved to seek the shrine
Of Venus, there to kneel and own her fault,
Not knowing Venus was her enemy.



That day she started forth upon her quest
O er the rough hills and sunny dales of Greece.
At dawn the dew-drenched hunter saw her pass,
At sultry noon she paused to quench her thirst
Among the reapers sprawled amid the stubble,
And timidly at even she would seek
A friendly shelter from the chill of night,
At day-break forth again upon the quest.
All helped, all pitied in that kindly age
Of peasant hospitality, but no one
Could ease her of her load of self-reproach.
Along the yellow highway deep with dust
Her journey lay, then through the bustling streets
Of market towns she went as one apart,
Or, passing o er a bridge of rough-hewn stone,
She paused to watch the waters gallop by ;
Breasted a steep ascent and from the crest
Beheld the valley with her empty eyes.


Online LibraryCharles Wharton StorkDay dreams of Greece → online text (page 1 of 2)