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Of syllabubs and jellies and mince-pies,
THE WITCH OF ATLAS.
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 vapow,
And then into a cloud, such clouds as flit, Like splendour-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.
Her bow beside the folding-star, and bidden
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.
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:
Teazing the God to sing them something new;
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,