Keats' Poems By John Keats Lamia

    Whither fled Lamia, now a lady bright,
  A full-born beauty new and exquisite?
  She fled into that valley they pass o'er
  Who go to Corinth from Cenchreas' shore;
  And rested at the foot of those wild hills,
  The rugged founts of the Peraean rills,
  And of that other ridge whose barren back
  Stretches, with all its mist and cloudy rack,
  South-westward to Cleone. There she stood
  About a young bird's flutter from a wood,
  Fair, on a sloping green of mossy tread,
  By a clear pool, wherein she passioned
  To see herself escap'd from so sore ills,
  While her robes flaunted with the daffodils.

    Ah, happy Lycius! — for she was a maid
  More beautiful than ever twisted braid,
  Or sigh'd, or blush'd, or on spring-flowered lea
  Spread a green kirtle to the minstrelsy:
  A virgin purest lipp'd, yet in the lore
  Of love deep learned to the red heart's core:
  Not one hour old, yet of sciential brain
  To unperplex bliss from its neighbour pain;
  Define their pettish limits, and estrange
  Their points of contact, and swift counterchange;
  Intrigue with the specious chaos, and dispart
  Its most ambiguous atoms with sure art;
  As though in Cupid's college she had spent
  Sweet days a lovely graduate, still unshent,
  And kept his rosy terms in idle languishment.

    Why this fair creature chose so fairily
  By the wayside to linger, we shall see;
  But first 'tis fit to tell how she could muse
  And dream, when in the serpent prison-house,
  Of all she list, strange or magnificent:
  How, ever, where she will'd, her spirit went;
  Whether to faint Elysium, or where
  Down through tress-lifting waves the Nereids fair
  Wind into Thetis' bower by many a pearly stair;
  Or where God Bacchus drains his cups divine,
  Stretch'd out, at ease, beneath a glutinous pine;
  Or where in Pluto's gardens palatine
  Mulciber's columns gleam in far piazzian line.
  And sometimes into cities she would send
  Her dream, with feast and rioting to blend;
  And once, while among mortals dreaming thus,
  She saw the young Corinthian Lycius
  Charioting foremost in the envious race,
  Like a young Jove with calm uneager face,
  And fell into a swooning love of him.
  Now on the moth-time of that evening dim
  He would return that way, as well she knew,
  To Corinth from the shore; for freshly blew
  The eastern soft wind, and his galley now
  Grated the quaystones with her brazen prow
  In port Cenchreas, from Egina isle
  Fresh anchor'd; whither he had been awhile
  To sacrifice to Jove, whose temple there
  Waits with high marble doors for blood and incense rare.
  Jove heard his vows, and better'd his desire;
  For by some freakful chance he made retire
  From his companions, and set forth to walk,
  Perhaps grown wearied of their Corinth talk:
  Over the solitary hills he fared,
  Thoughtless at first, but ere eve's star appeared
  His phantasy was lost, where reason fades,
  In the calm'd twilight of Platonic shades.
  Lamia beheld him coming, near, more near —
  Close to her passing, in indifference drear,
  His silent sandals swept the mossy green;
  So neighbour'd to him, and yet so unseen
  She stood: he pass'd, shut up in mysteries,
  His mind wrapp'd like his mantle, while her eyes
  Follow'd his steps, and her neck regal white
  Turn'd — syllabling thus, "Ah, Lycius bright,
  And will you leave me on the hills alone?
  Lycius, look back! and be some pity shown."
  He did; not with cold wonder fearingly,
  But Orpheus-like at an Eurydice;
  For so delicious were the words she sung,
  It seem'd he had lov'd them a whole summer long:
  And soon his eyes had drunk her beauty up,
  Leaving no drop in the bewildering cup,
  And still the cup was full, — while he, afraid
  Lest she should vanish ere his lip had paid
  Due adoration, thus began to adore;
  Her soft look growing coy, she saw his chain so sure:
  "Leave thee alone! Look back! Ah, Goddess, see
  Whether my eyes can ever turn from thee!
  For pity do not this sad heart belie —
  Even as thou vanishest so I shall die.
  Stay! though a Naiad of the rivers, stay!
  To thy far wishes will thy streams obey:
  Stay! though the greenest woods be thy domain,
  Alone they can drink up the morning rain:
  Though a descended Pleiad, will not one
  Of thine harmonious sisters keep in tune
  Thy spheres, and as thy silver proxy shine?
  So sweetly to these ravish'd ears of mine
  Came thy sweet greeting, that if thou shouldst fade
  Thy memory will waste me to a shade: —
  For pity do not melt!" — "If I should stay,"
  Said Lamia, "here, upon this floor of clay,
  And pain my steps upon these flowers too rough,
  What canst thou say or do of charm enough
  To dull the nice remembrance of my home?
  Thou canst not ask me with thee here to roam
  Over these hills and vales, where no joy is, —
  Empty of immortality and bliss!
  Thou art a scholar, Lycius, and must know
  That finer spirits cannot breathe below
  In human climes, and live: Alas! poor youth,
  What taste of purer air hast thou to soothe
  My essence? What serener palaces,
  Where I may all my many senses please,
  And by mysterious sleights a hundred thirsts appease?
  It cannot be — Adieu!" So said, she rose
  Tiptoe with white arms spread. He, sick to lose
  The amorous promise of her lone complain,
  Swoon'd, murmuring of love, and pale with pain.
  The cruel lady, without any show
  Of sorrow for her tender favourite's woe,
  But rather, if her eyes could brighter be,
  With brighter eyes and slow amenity,
  Put her new lips to his, and gave afresh
  The life she had so tangled in her mesh:
  And as he from one trance was wakening
  Into another, she began to sing,
  Happy in beauty, life, and love, and every thing,
  A song of love, too sweet for earthly lyres,
  While, like held breath, the stars drew in their panting
  And then she whisper'd in such trembling tone,
  As those who, safe together met alone
  For the first time through many anguish'd days,
  Use other speech than looks; bidding him raise
  His drooping head, and clear his soul of doubt,
  For that she was a woman, and without
  Any more subtle fluid in her veins
  Than throbbing blood, and that the self-same pains
  Inhabited her frail-strung heart as his.
  And next she wonder'd how his eyes could miss
  Her face so long in Corinth, where, she said,
  She dwelt but half retir'd, and there had led
  Days happy as the gold coin could invent
  Without the aid of love; yet in content
  Till she saw him, as once she pass'd him by,
  Where 'gainst a column he leant thoughtfully
  At Venus' temple porch, 'mid baskets heap'd
  Of amorous herbs and flowers, newly reap'd
  Late on that eve, as 'twas the night before
  The Adonian feast; whereof she saw no more,
  But wept alone those days, for why should she adore?
  Lycius from death awoke into amaze,
  To see her still, and singing so sweet lays;
  Then from amaze into delight he fell
  To hear her whisper woman's lore so well;
  And every word she spake entic'd him on
  To unperplex'd delight and pleasure known.
  Let the mad poets say whate'er they please
  Of the sweets of Fairies, Peris, Goddesses,
  There is not such a treat among them all,
  Haunters of cavern, lake, and waterfall,
  As a real woman, lineal indeed
  From Pyrrha's pebbles or old Adam's seed.
  Thus gentle Lamia judg'd, and judg'd aright,
  That Lycius could not love in half a fright,
  So threw the goddess off, and won his heart
  More pleasantly by playing woman's part,
  With no more awe than what her beauty gave,
  That, while it smote, still guaranteed to save.
  Lycius to all made eloquent reply,
  Marrying to every word a twinborn sigh;
  And last, pointing to Corinth, ask'd her sweet,
  If 'twas too far that night for her soft feet.
  The way was short, for Lamia's eagerness
  Made, by a spell, the triple league decrease
  To a few paces; not at all surmised
  By blinded Lycius, so in her comprized.
  They pass'd the city gates, he knew not how,
  So noiseless, and he never thought to know.

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