A LOVELY VALE IN THE INDIAN CAUCASUS.
ASIA: From all the blasts of heaven thou hast descended: Yes, like a spirit, like a thought, which makes Unwonted tears throng to the horny eyes, And beatings haunt the desolated heart, Which should have learnt repose: thou hast descended Cradled in tempests; thou dost wake, O Spring! O child of many winds! As suddenly Thou comest as the memory of a dream, Which now is sad because it hath been sweet; Like genius, or like joy which riseth up As from the earth, clothing with golden clouds The desert of our life. This is the season, this the day, the hour; At sunrise thou shouldst come, sweet sister mine, Too long desired, too long delaying, come! How like death-worms the wingless moments crawl! The point of one white star is quivering still Deep in the orange light of widening morn Beyond the purple mountains: through a chasm Of wind-divided mist the darker lake Reflects it: now it wanes: it gleams again As the waves fade, and as the burning threads Of woven cloud unravel in pale air: 'Tis lost! and through yon peaks of cloud-like snow The roseate sunlight quivers: hear I not The Aeolian music of her sea-green plumes Winnowing the crimson dawn?
PANTHEA [ENTERS]: I feel, I see Those eyes which burn through smiles that fade in tears, Like stars half quenched in mists of silver dew. Beloved and most beautiful, who wearest The shadow of that soul by which I live, How late thou art! the sphered sun had climbed The sea; my heart was sick with hope, before The printless air felt thy belated plumes.
PANTHEA: Pardon, great Sister! but my wings were faint With the delight of a remembered dream, As are the noontide plumes of summer winds Satiate with sweet flowers. I was wont to sleep Peacefully, and awake refreshed and calm Before the sacred Titan's fall, and thy Unhappy love, had made, through use and pity, Both love and woe familiar to my heart As they had grown to thine: erewhile I slept Under the glaucous caverns of old Ocean Within dim bowers of green and purple moss, Our young Ione's soft and milky arms Locked then, as now, behind my dark, moist hair, While my shut eyes and cheek were pressed within The folded depth of her life-breathing bosom: But not as now, since I am made the wind Which fails beneath the music that I bear Of thy most wordless converse; since dissolved Into the sense with which love talks, my rest Was troubled and yet sweet; my waking hours Too full of care and pain.
ASIA: Lift up thine eyes, And let me read thy dream.
PANTHEA: As I have said With our sea-sister at his feet I slept. The mountain mists, condensing at our voice Under the moon, had spread their snowy flakes, From the keen ice shielding our linked sleep. Then two dreams came. One, I remember not. But in the other his pale wound-worn limbs Fell from Prometheus, and the azure night Grew radiant with the glory of that form Which lives unchanged within, and his voice fell Like music which makes giddy the dim brain, Faint with intoxication of keen joy: 'Sister of her whose footsteps pave the world With loveliness—more fair than aught but her, Whose shadow thou art—lift thine eyes on me.' I lifted them: the overpowering light Of that immortal shape was shadowed o'er By love; which, from his soft and flowing limbs, And passion-parted lips, and keen, faint eyes, Steamed forth like vaporous fire; an atmosphere Which wrapped me in its all-dissolving power, As the warm ether of the morning sun Wraps ere it drinks some cloud of wandering dew. I saw not, heard not, moved not, only felt His presence flow and mingle through my blood Till it became his life, and his grew mine, And I was thus absorbed, until it passed, And like the vapours when the sun sinks down, Gathering again in drops upon the pines, And tremulous as they, in the deep night My being was condensed; and as the rays Of thought were slowly gathered, I could hear His voice, whose accents lingered ere they died Like footsteps of weak melody: thy name Among the many sounds alone I heard Of what might be articulate; though still I listened through the night when sound was none. Ione wakened then, and said to me: 'Canst thou divine what troubles me to-night? I always knew, what I desired before, Nor ever found delight to wish in vain. But now I cannot tell thee what I seek; I know not; something sweet, since it is sweet Even to desire; it is thy sport, false sister; Thou hast discovered some enchantment old, Whose spells have stolen my spirit as I slept And mingled it with thine: for when just now We kissed, I felt within thy parted lips The sweet air that sustained me, and the warmth Of the life-blood, for loss of which I faint, Quivered between our intertwining arms.' I answered not, for the Eastern star grew pale, But fled to thee.
ASIA: Thou speakest, but thy words Are as the air: I feel them not: Oh, lift Thine eyes, that I may read his written soul!
PANTHEA: I lift them though they droop beneath the load Of that they would express: what canst thou see But thine own fairest shadow imaged there?
ASIA: Thine eyes are like the deep, blue, boundless heaven Contracted to two circles underneath Their long, fine lashes; dark, far, measureless, Orb within orb, and line through line inwoven.
PANTHEA: Why lookest thou as if a spirit passed?
ASIA: There is a change: beyond their inmost depth I see a shade, a shape: 'tis He, arrayed In the soft light of his own smiles, which spread Like radiance from the cloud-surrounded moon. Prometheus, it is thine! depart not yet! Say not those smiles that we shall meet again Within that bright pavilion which their beams Shall build o'er the waste world? The dream is told. What shape is that between us? Its rude hair Roughens the wind that lifts it, its regard Is wild and quick, yet 'tis a thing of air, For through its gray robe gleams the golden dew Whose stars the noon has quenched not.
DREAM Follow! Follow!
PANTHEA: It is mine other dream.
ASIA: It disappears.
PANTHEA: It passes now into my mind. Methought As we sate here, the flower-infolding buds Burst on yon lightning-blasted almond tree, When swift from the white Scythian wilderness A wind swept forth wrinkling the Earth with frost: I looked, and all the blossoms were blown down; But on each leaf was stamped, as the blue bells Of Hyacinth tell Apollo's written grief, O, FOLLOW, FOLLOW!
ASIA: As you speak, your words Fill, pause by pause, my own forgotten sleep With shapes. Methought among these lawns together We wandered, underneath the young gray dawn, And multitudes of dense white fleecy clouds Were wandering in thick flocks along the mountains Shepherded by the slow, unwilling wind; And the white dew on the new-bladed grass, Just piercing the dark earth, hung silently; And there was more which I remember not: But on the shadows of the morning clouds, Athwart the purple mountain slope, was written FOLLOW, O, FOLLOW! as they vanished by; And on each herb, from which Heaven's dew had fallen, The like was stamped, as with a withering fire; A wind arose among the pines; it shook The clinging music from their boughs, and then Low, sweet, faint sounds, like the farewell of ghosts, Were heard: O, FOLLOW, FOLLOW, FOLLOW ME! And then I said, 'Panthea, look on me.' But in the depth of those beloved eyes Still I saw, FOLLOW, FOLLOW!
ECHO: Follow, follow!
PANTHEA: The crags, this clear spring morning, mock our voices As they were spirit-tongued.
ASIA: It is some being Around the crags. What fine clear sounds! O, list!
ECHOES, UNSEEN: Echoes we: listen! We cannot stay: As dew-stars glisten Then fade away— Child of Ocean!
ASIA: Hark! Spirits speak. The liquid responses Of their aereal tongues yet sound.
PANTHEA: I hear.
ECHOES: Oh, follow, follow, As our voice recedeth Through the caverns hollow, Where the forest spreadeth; [MORE DISTANT.] Oh, follow, follow! Through the caverns hollow, As the song floats thou pursue, Where the wild bee never flew, Through the noontide darkness deep, By the odour-breathing sleep Of faint night-flowers, and the waves At the fountain-lighted caves, While our music, wild and sweet, Mocks thy gently falling feet, Child of Ocean!
ASIA: Shall we pursue the sound? It grows more faint And distant.
PANTHEA: List! the strain floats nearer now.
ECHOES: In the world unknown Sleeps a voice unspoken; By thy step alone Can its rest be broken; Child of Ocean!
ASIA: How the notes sink upon the ebbing wind!
ECHOES: Oh, follow, follow! Through the caverns hollow, As the song floats thou pursue, By the woodland noontide dew; By the forests, lakes, and fountains, Through the many-folded mountains; To the rents, and gulfs, and chasms, Where the Earth reposed from spasms, On the day when He and thou Parted, to commingle now; Child of Ocean!
ASIA: Come, sweet Panthea, link thy hand in mine, And follow, ere the voices fade away.