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And intertangled lines of light :- a knell
Of sobbing voices came upon her ears From those departing Forms, o'er the serene Of the white streams and of the forest green.
All day the wizard lady sate aloof,
Spelling out scrolls of dread antiquity,
Or broidering the pictured poesy
Which the sweet splendour of her smiles could dye
While on her hearth lay blazing many a piece
Of sandal wood, rare gums and cinnamon ; Men scarcely know how beautiful fire is —
Each flame of it is as a precious stone
Belongs to each and all who gaze upon.
This lady never slept, but lay in trance
All night within the fountain - as in sleep.
Through the green splendour of the water deep
Like fire-flies and withal did ever keep
And when the whirlwinds and the clouds descended
From the white pinnacles of that cold hill, She past at dewfall to a space extended,
Where in a lawn of flowering asphodel Amid a wood of pines and cedars blended,
There yawned an inextinguishable well Of crimson fire - full even to the brim, And overflowing all the margin trim.
Within the which she lay when the fierce war
Of wintry winds shook that innocuous liquor In many a mimic moon and bearded star O'er woods and lawns ; — the serpent heard it flicker In sleep, and dreaming still, he crept afar
And when the windless snow descended thicker Than autumn leaves, she watched it as it came Melt on the surface of the level flame.
She had a Boat, which some say Vulcan wrought
For Venus, as the chariot of her star ; But it was found too feeble to be fraught
With all the ardours in that sphere which are, And so she sold it, and Apollo bought
And gave it to this daughter : from a car Changed to the fairest and the lightest boat Which ever upon mortal stream did float.
And others say, that, when but three hours old,
The first-born Love out of his cradle leapt,
And like an horticultural adept,
And sowed it in his mother's star, and kept
The plant grew strong and green, the snowy flower
Fell, and the long and gourd-like fruit began
To its own substance ; woven tracery ran
The solid rind, like a leaf's veinèd fan-
This boat she moored upon her fount, and lit
A living spirit within all its frame, Breathing the soul of swiftness into it.
Couched on the fountain like a panther tame,
Or as on Vesta's sceptre a swift flame
Then by strange art she kneaded fire and snow
Together, tempering the repugnant mass
And a fair Shape out of her hands did flow
A living Image, which did far surpass In beauty that bright shape of vital stone Which drew the heart out of Pygmalion.
A sexless thing it was, and in its growth
It seemed to have developed no defect Of either sex, yet all the grace of both,
In gentleness and strength its limbs were decked ; The bosom swelled lightly with its full youth,
The countenance was such as might select Some artist that his skill should never die Imaging forth such perfect purity.
From its smooth shoulders hung two rapid wings,
Fit to have borne it to the seventh sphere, Tipt with the speed of liquid lightnings,
Dyed in the ardours of the atmosphere : She led her creature to the boiling springs Where the light boat was moored, and said : “Sit
here!" And pointed to the prow, and took her seat Beside the rudder, with opposing feet.