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570                             Corinna, from Athens, to Tanagra

Tanagra! think not I forget
   Thy beautifully-storey’d streets;
Be sure my memory bathes yet
   In clear Thermodon, and yet greets
  The blythe and liberal shepherd boy,
  Whose sunny bosom swells with joy
  When we accept his matted rushes
Upheaved with sylvan fruit; away he bounds, and blushes.
I promise to bring back with me
   What thou with transport wilt receive,
The only proper gift for thee,
   Of which no mortal shall bereave
  In later times thy mouldering walls,
  Until the last old turret falls;
  A crown, a crown from Athens won!
A crown no god can wear, beside Latona’s son.
There may be cities who refuse
   To their own child the honours due,
And look ungently on the Muse;
   But ever shall those cities rue
  The dry, unyielding, niggard breast,
  Offering no nourishment, no rest,
  To that young head which soon shall rise
Disdainfully, in might and glory, to the skies.
Sweetly where cavern’d Dirce flows
   Do white-arm’d maidens chaunt my lay,
Flapping the while with laurel-rose
   The honey-gathering tribes away;
  And sweetly, sweetly, Attick tongues
  Lisp your Corinna’s early songs;
  To her with feet more graceful come
The verses that have dwelt in kindred breasts at home.
O let thy children lean aslant
   Against the tender mother’s knee,
And gaze into her face, and want
   To know what magic there can be
  In words that urge some eyes to dance,
  While others as in holy trance
  Look up to heaven; be such my praise!
Why linger? I must haste, or lose the Delphick bays.

571                                          The Maid’s Lament

I LOVED him not; and yet now he is gone,
         I feel I am alone.
I check’d him while he spoke; yet, could he speak,
         Alas! I would not check.
For reasons not to love him once I sought,
         And wearied all my thought
To vex myself and him; I now would give
         My love, could he but live
Who lately lived for me, and when he found
         ’Twas vain, in holy ground
He hid his face amid the shades of death.
         I waste for him my breath
Who wasted his for me; but mine returns,
         And this lorn bosom burns
With stifling heat, heaving it up in sleep,
         And waking me to weep
Tears that had melted his soft heart: for years
        Wept he as bitter tears.
Merciful God!’ such was his latest prayer,
         ‘These may she never share!’
Quieter is his breath, his breast more cold
         Than daisies in the mould,
Where children spell, athwart the churchyard gate,
         His name and life’s brief date.
Pray for him, gentle souls, whoe’er you be,
         And, O, pray too for me!

572                                            Rose Aylmer

AH, what avails the sceptred race!
   Ah, what the form divine!
What every virtue, every grace!
   Rose Aylmer, all were thine.
Rose Aylmer, whom these wakeful eyes
   May weep, but never see,
A night of memories and sighs
   I consecrate to thee.

573                                                    Ianthe

FROM you, Ianthe, little troubles pass
   Like little ripples down a sunny river;
Your pleasures spring like daisies in the grass,
   Cut down, and up again as blithe as ever.

574                                           Ianthe’s Question

‘DO you remember me? or are you proud?’
   Lightly advancing thro’ her star-trimm’d crowd,
   Ianthe said, and look’d into my eyes.
‘A yes, a yes to both: for Memory
Where you but once have been must ever be,
   And at your voice Pride from his throne must rise.’

575                                                       Verse

PAST ruin’d Ilion Helen lives,
   Alcestis rises from the shades;
Verse calls them forth; ’tis verse that gives
   Immortal youth to mortal maids.
Soon shall Oblivion’s deepening veil
   Hide all the peopled hills you see,
The gay, the proud, while lovers hail
   These many summers you and me.

576                                   Proud Word you never spoke

PROUD word you never spoke, but you will speak
Four not exempt from pride some future day.
Resting on one white hand a warm wet cheek,
Over my open volume you will say,
‘This man loved me’—then rise and trip away.

577                              Mother, I cannot mind my Wheel

MOTHER, I cannot mind my wheel;
   My fingers ache, my lips are dry:
O, if you felt the pain I feel!
   But O, who ever felt as I?
No longer could I doubt him true—
   All other men may use deceit;
He always said my eyes were blue,
   And often swore my lips were sweet.

578                                            Of Clementina

IN Clementina’s artless mien
   Lucilla asks me what I see,
And are the roses of sixteen
                    Enough for me?
Lucilla asks, if that be all,
   Have I not cull’d as sweet before:
Ah yes, Lucilla! and their fall
                    I still deplore.
I now behold another scene,
   Where Pleasure beams with Heaven’s own light,
More pure, more constant, more serene,
                    And not less bright.
Faith, on whose breast the Loves repose,
   Whose chain of flowers no force can sever,
And Modesty who, when she goes,
                    Is gone for ever.

579                                        Alciphron and Leucippe

AN ancient chestnut’s blossoms threw
Their heavy odour over two:
Leucippe, it is said, was one;
The other, then, was Alciphron.
‘Come, come! why should we stand beneath?’
This hollow tree’s unwholesome breath?’
Said Alciphron, ‘here’s not a blade
Of grass or moss, and scanty shade.
Come; it is just the hour to rove
In the lone dingle shepherds love;
There, straight and tall, the hazel twig
Divides the crookàed rock-held fig,
O’er the blue pebbles where the rill
In winter runs and may run still.
Come then, while fresh and calm the air,
And while the shepherds are not there.’

Leucippe.   But I would rather go when they
                   Sit round about and sing and play.
                   Then why so hurry me? for you
                   Like play and song, and shepherds too.

Alciphron.   I like the shepherds very well,
                   And song and play, as you can tell.
                   But there is play, I sadly fear,
                    And song I would not have you hear.

Leucippe.    What can it be? What can it be?

Alciphron.   To you may none of them repeat
                   The play that you have play’d with me,
                   The song that made your bosom beat.

Leucippe.    Don’t keep your arm about my waist.

Alciphron.   Might you not stumble?

Leucippe.                           Well then, do.
                   But why are we in all this haste?

Alciphron.   To sing.

Leucippe.                    Alas! and not play too?

580                                                  Dirce

STAND close around, ye Stygian set,
   With Dirce in one boat convey’d!
Or Charon, seeing, may forget
   That he is old and she a shade.

581                                               On Catullus

TELL me not what too well I know
   About the bard of Sirmio.
   Yes, in Thalia’s son
Such stains there are—as when a Grace
Sprinkles another’s laughing face
   With nectar, and runs on.

582                                             The Dragon-fly

LIFE (priest and poet say) is but a dream;
     I wish no happier one than to be laid
     Beneath a cool syringa’s scented shade,
Or wavy willow, by the running stream,
     Brimful of moral, where the dragon-fly,
     Wanders as careless and content as I.
Thanks for this fancy, insect king,
Of purple crest and filmy wing,
Who with indifference givest up
The water-lily’s golden cup,
To come again and overlook
What I am writing in my book.
Believe me, most who read the line
Will read with hornier eyes than thine;
And yet their souls shall live for ever,
And thine drop dead into the river!
God pardon them, O insect king,
Who fancy so unjust a thing!

583                                                Years

YEARS, many parti-colour’d years,
   Some have crept on, and some have flown
Since first before me fell those tears
   I never could see fall alone.
Years, not so many, are to come,
   Years not so varied, when from you
One more will fall: when, carried home,
   I see it not, nor hear Adieu.

584                                                Finis

I STROVE with none, for none was worth my strife.
Nature I loved and, next to Nature, Art:
I warm’d both hands before the fire of life;
It sinks, and I am ready to depart.


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