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“ Let no false dimpling whirlpools suck him in,
Nor slimy quicksands smother his sweet breath;
Let no jagg’d corals tear his tender skin,
Nor mountain billows bury him in death ;”
And with that thought forestalling her own fears,
She drown'd his painted image in her tears.
By this, the climbing sun, with rest repair’d, Look'd through the gold embrasures of the sky, And ask'd the drowsy world how she had far'd ; The drowsy world shone brighten'd in reply ; And smiling off her fogs, his slanting beam Spied young Leander in the middle stream.
His face was pallid, but the hectic morn
Had hung a lying crimson on his cheeks,
And slanderous sparkles in his eyes forlorn ;
So death lies ambush'd in consumptive streaks ;
But inward grief was writhing o'er its task,
As heart-sick jesters weep behind the mask.
He thought of Hero and the lost delight,
Her last embracings, and the space between ;
He thought of Hero and the future night,
Her speechless rapture and enamour'd mien,
When, lo! before him, scarce two galleys' space,
His thought's confronted with another face !
Her aspect's like a moon divinely fair,
But makes the midnight darker that it lies on;
'Tis so beclouded with her coal-black hair
That densely skirts her luminous horizon,
Making her doubly fair, thus darkly set,
As marble lies advantag'd upon jet.
She's all too bright, too argent, and too pale,
To be a woman;
but a woman's double,
Reflected on the wave so faint and frail,
She tops the billows like an air-blown bubble;
Or dim creation of a morning dream,
Fair as the wave-bleach'd lily of the stream.
The very rumour strikes his seeing dead :
Great beauty like great fear first stuns the sense :
He knows not if her lips be blue or red,
Nor of her eyes can give true evidence :
Like murder's witness swooning in the court,
His sight falls senseless by its own report.
Anon resuming, it declares her eyes
Are tinct with azure, like two crystal wells
That drink the blue complexion of the skies,
Or pearls outpeeping from their silvery shells :
Her polish'd brow, it is an ample plain,
To lodge vast contemplations of the main.
Her lips might corals seem, but corals near,
Stray through her hair like blossoms on a bower ;
And o'er the weaker red still domineer,
And make it pale by tribute to more power ;
Her rounded cheeks are of still paler hue,
Touch'd by the bloom of water, tender blue.
Thus he beholds her rocking on the water,
Under the glossy umbrage of her hair,
Like pearly Amphitrite's fairest daughter
Naiad, or Nereid, - or Syren fair,
Mislodging music in her pitiless breast,
A nightingale within a falcon's nest.
They say there be such maidens in the deep,
Charming poor mariners, that all too near
By mortal lullabies fall dead asleep,
As drowsy men are poison'd through the ear ;
Therefore Leander's fears begin to urge,
This snowy swan is come to sing his dirge.
At which he falls into a deadly chill,
And strains his eyes upon her lips apart;
Fearing each breath to feel that prelude shrill,
Pierce through his marrow, like a breath-blown dart.
Shot sudden from an Indian's hollow cane,
With mortal venom fraught, and fiery pain.
Here then, poor wretch, how he begins to crowd
A thousand thoughts within a pulse's space ;
There seem'd so brief a pause of life allow'd,
His mind stretch'd universal, to embrace
The whole wide world, in an extreme farewell, -
A moment's musing - but an age to tell.
For there stood Hero, widow'd at a glance,
The foreseen sum of many a tedious fact,
Pale cheeks, dim eyes, and wither'd countenance,
A wasted ruin that no wasting lack'd;
Time's tragic consequents ere time began,
A world of sorrow in a tear-drop's span.
A moment's thinking, is an hour in words, -
An hour of words is little for some woes ;
Too little breathing a long life affords,
For love to paint itself by perfect shows;
Then let his love and grief unwrong'd lie dumb,
Whilst Fear, and that it fears, together come.