Keats' Poems By John Keats Lamia

    It was the custom then to bring away
  The bride from home at blushing shut of day,
  Veil'd, in a chariot, heralded along
  By strewn flowers, torches, and a marriage song,
  With other pageants: but this fair unknown
  Had not a friend. So being left alone,
  (Lycius was gone to summon all his kin)
  And knowing surely she could never win
  His foolish heart from its mad pompousness,
  She set herself, high-thoughted, how to dress
  The misery in fit magnificence.
  She did so, but 'tis doubtful how and whence
  Came, and who were her subtle servitors.
  About the halls, and to and from the doors,
  There was a noise of wings, till in short space
  The glowing banquet-room shone with wide-arched grace.
  A haunting music, sole perhaps and lone
  Supportress of the faery-roof, made moan
  Throughout, as fearful the whole charm might fade.
  Fresh carved cedar, mimicking a glade
  Of palm and plantain, met from either side,
  High in the midst, in honour of the bride:
  Two palms and then two plantains, and so on,
  From either side their stems branch'd one to one
  All down the aisled place; and beneath all
  There ran a stream of lamps straight on from wall to wall.
  So canopied, lay an untasted feast
  Teeming with odours. Lamia, regal drest,
  Silently paced about, and as she went,
  In pale contented sort of discontent,
  Mission'd her viewless servants to enrich
  The fretted splendour of each nook and niche.
  Between the tree-stems, marbled plain at first,
  Came jasper pannels; then, anon, there burst
  Forth creeping imagery of slighter trees,
  And with the larger wove in small intricacies.
  Approving all, she faded at self-will,
  And shut the chamber up, close, hush'd and still,
  Complete and ready for the revels rude,
  When dreadful guests would come to spoil her solitude.

    The day appear'd, and all the gossip rout.
  O senseless Lycius! Madman! wherefore flout
  The silent-blessing fate, warm cloister'd hours,
  And show to common eyes these secret bowers?
  The herd approach'd; each guest, with busy brain,
  Arriving at the portal, gaz'd amain,
  And enter'd marveling: for they knew the street,
  Remember'd it from childhood all complete
  Without a gap, yet ne'er before had seen
  That royal porch, that high-built fair demesne;
  So in they hurried all, maz'd, curious and keen:
  Save one, who look'd thereon with eye severe,
  And with calm-planted steps walk'd in austere;
  'Twas Apollonius: something too he laugh'd,
  As though some knotty problem, that had daft
  His patient thought, had now begun to thaw,
  And solve and melt: — 'twas just as he foresaw.

    He met within the murmurous vestibule
  His young disciple. "'Tis no common rule,
  Lycius," said he, "for uninvited guest
  To force himself upon you, and infest
  With an unbidden presence the bright throng
  Of younger friends; yet must I do this wrong,
  And you forgive me." Lycius blush'd, and led
  The old man through the inner doors broad-spread;
  With reconciling words and courteous mien
  Turning into sweet milk the sophist's spleen.

    Of wealthy lustre was the banquet-room,
  Fill'd with pervading brilliance and perfume:
  Before each lucid pannel fuming stood
  A censer fed with myrrh and spiced wood,
  Each by a sacred tripod held aloft,
  Whose slender feet wide-swerv'd upon the soft
  Wool-woofed carpets: fifty wreaths of smoke
  From fifty censers their light voyage took
  To the high roof, still mimick'd as they rose
  Along the mirror'd walls by twin-clouds odorous.
  Twelve sphered tables, by silk seats insphered,
  High as the level of a man's breast rear'd
  On libbard's paws, upheld the heavy gold
  Of cups and goblets, and the store thrice told
  Of Ceres' horn, and, in huge vessels, wine
  Come from the gloomy tun with merry shine.
  Thus loaded with a feast the tables stood,
  Each shrining in the midst the image of a God.

    When in an antichamber every guest
  Had felt the cold full sponge to pleasure press'd,
  By minist'ring slaves, upon his hands and feet,
  And fragrant oils with ceremony meet
  Pour'd on his hair, they all mov'd to the feast
  In white robes, and themselves in order placed
  Around the silken couches, wondering
  Whence all this mighty cost and blaze of wealth could spring.

    Soft went the music the soft air along,
  While fluent Greek a vowel'd undersong
  Kept up among the guests, discoursing low
  At first, for scarcely was the wine at flow;
  But when the happy vintage touch'd their brains,
  Louder they talk, and louder come the strains
  Of powerful instruments: — the gorgeous dyes,
  The space, the splendour of the draperies,
  The roof of awful richness, nectarous cheer,
  Beautiful slaves, and Lamia's self, appear,
  Now, when the wine has done its rosy deed,
  And every soul from human trammels freed,
  No more so strange; for merry wine, sweet wine,
  Will make Elysian shades not too fair, too divine.
  Soon was God Bacchus at meridian height;
  Flush'd were their cheeks, and bright eyes double bright:
  Garlands of every green, and every scent
  From vales deflower'd, or forest-trees branch-rent,
  In baskets of bright osier'd gold were brought
  High as the handles heap'd, to suit the thought
  Of every guest; that each, as he did please,
  Might fancy-fit his brows, silk-pillow'd at his ease.

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