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BEFORE those cruel Twins, whom at one birth

Incestuous Change bore to her father Time, Error and Truth, had hunted from the Earth

All those bright natures which adorned its prime, And left us nothing to believe in, worth

The pains of putting into learned rhyme, A lady-witch there lived on Atlas' mountain Within a cavern, by a secret fountain.


Her mother was one of the Atlantides :

The all-beholding Sun had ne'er beholden In his wide voyage o'er continents and seas

So fair a creature, as she lay enfolden In the warm shadow of her loveliness ;

He kissed her with his beams, and made all golden The chamber of grey rock in which she layShe, in that dream of joy, dissolved away,




"Tis said, she first was changed into a vapour,

And then into a cloud, such clouds as flit, Like splendow-winged moths about a taper,

Round the red west when the sun dies in it: And then into a meteor, such as caper

On hill-tops when the moon is in a fit: Then, into one of those mysterious stars Which hide themselves between the Earth and Mars.

Ten times the Mother of the Months had bent

Her bow beside the folding-star, and bidden
With that bright sign the billows to indent

The sea-deserted sand — like children chidden, At her command they ever came and went

Since in that cave a dewy splendour hidden Took shape and motion : with the living form Of this embodied Power, the cave grew warm.

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A lovely lady garmented in light

From her own beauty-deep her eyes, as are Two openings of unfathomable night Seen through a Temple's cloven roof - her hair

Dark — the dim brain whirls dizzy with delight,
Picturing her form ; her soft smiles shone afar,

And her low voice was heard like love, and drew
All living things towards this wonder new.


And first the spotted cameleopard came,

And then the wise and fearless elephant ; Then the sly serpent, in the golden flame

Of his own volumes intervolved ; — all gaunt And sanguine beasts her gentle looks made tame.

They drank before her at her sacred fount; And every beast of beating heart grew bold, Such gentleness and power even to behold.


The brinded lioness led forth her young,

That she might teach them how they should forego Their inborn thirst of death; the pard unstrung

His sinews at her feet, and sought to know With looks whose motions spoke without a tongue

How he might be as gentle as the doe. The magic circle of her voice and eyes All savage natures did imparadise.


And old Silenus, shaking a green stick

Of lilies, and the wood-gods in a crew Came, blithe, as in the olive copses thick

Cicadæ are, drunk with the noonday dew:
And Dryope and Faunus followed quick,

Teazing the God to sing them something new;
Till in this cave they found the lady lone,
Sitting upon a seat of emerald stone.


And universal Pan, 'tis said, was there,

And though none saw him, — through the adamant Of the deep mountains, through the trackless air,

And through those living spirits, like a want He past out of his everlasting lair

Where the quick heart of the great world doth pant, And felt that wondrous lady all alone, And she felt him, upon her emerald throne.


And every nymph of stream and spreading tree,

And every shepherdess of Ocean's flocks, Who drives her white waves over the green sea, And Ocean with the brine on his grey locks,

And quaint Priapus with his company,

All came, much wondering how the enwombed rocks Could have brought forth so beautiful a birth; — Her love subdued their wonder and their mirth.



The herdsmen and the mountain maidens came,

And the rude kings of pastoral Garamant — Their spirits shook within them, as a flame

Stirred by the air under a cavern gaunt: Pigmies, and Polyphemes, by many a name,

Centaurs and Satyrs, and such shapes as haunt Wet clefts, — and lumps neither alive nor dead, Dog-headed, bosom-eyed, and bird-footed.


For she was beautiful her beauty made

The bright world dim, and every thing beside Seemed like the fleeting image of a shade :

No thought of living spirit could abide, Which to her looks had ever been betrayed,

On any object in the world so wide, On any hope within the circling skies, But on her form, and in her inmost eyes.

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