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(ON HER OBJECting to the following poeM, UPON THE Score of its CONTAINING NO HUMAN INTerest.)


How, my dear Mary, are you critic-bitten,

(For vipers kill, though dead) by some review,— That you condemn these verses I have written, Because they tell no story, false or true?

What though no mice are caught by a young kitten?
May it not leap and play as grown cats do,
Till its claws come? Prithee, for this one time,
Content thee with a visionary rhyme.


What hand would crush the silken-winged fly,
The youngest of inconstant April's minions,
Because it cannot climb the purest sky,

Where the swan sings amid the sun's dominions?
Not thine. Thou knowest 'tis its doom to die
When Day shall hide within her twilight pinions
The lucent eyes and the eternal smile,

Serene as thine, which lent it life awhile.


To thy fair feet a winged Vision came,

Whose date should have been longer than a day,
And o'er thy head did beat its wings for fame,
And in thy sight its fading plumes display;
The watery bow burned in the evening flame;

But the shower fell, the swift Sun went his way—
And that is dead.-Oh let me not believe

That any thing of mine is fit to live!


Wordsworth informs us he was nineteen years
Considering and re-touching Peter Bell;
Watering his laurels with the killing tears

Of slow dull care, so that their roots to hell

Might pierce, and their wide branches blot the spheres
Of heaven, with dewy leaves and flowers: this well
May be, for heaven and earth conspire to foil
The over-busy gardener's blundering toil.


My Witch indeed is not so sweet a creature
As Ruth or Lucy, whom his graceful praise
Clothes for our grandsons-but she matches Peter,
Though he took nineteen years, and she three days,
In dressing. Light the vest of flowing metre

She wears he, proud as dandy with his stays,
Has hung upon his wiry limbs a dress

Like King Lear's looped and windowed raggedness.


If you strip Peter, you will see a fellow

Scorched by hell's hyperequatorial climate Into a kind of a sulphureous yellow;

A lean mark, hardly fit to fling a rhyme at;
In shape a Scaramouch, in hue Othello.

If you unveil my Witch, no priest nor primate
Can shrive you of that sin,-if sin there be
In love when it becomes idolatry.



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 lay. She, in that dream of joy, dissolved away.


'Tis said she was first changed into a vapour;
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.


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.


A lovely Lady garmented in light

From her own beauty: deep her eyes as are Two openings of unfathomable night

Seen through a tempest'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 camelopard 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

Cicada 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 passed 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 : Pygmies 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 everything 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.


Which when the Lady knew, she took her spindle, And twined three threads of fleecy mist, and three Long lines of light, such as the dawn may kindle

The clouds and waves and mountains with, and she
As many starbeams, ere their lamps could dwindle
In the belated moon, wound skilfully;

And with these threads a subtle veil she wove-
A shadow for the splendour of her love.


The deep recesses of her odorous dwelling

Were stored with magic treasures :-sounds of air Which had the power all spirits of compelling, Folded in cells of crystal silence there;

Such as we hear in youth, and think the feeling
Will never die—yet, ere we are aware,
The feeling and the sound are fled and gone,
And the regret they leave remains alone.


And there lay Visions swift and sweet and quaint,
Each in its thin sheath like a chrysalis ;—
Some eager to burst forth; some weak and faint
With the soft burthen of intensest bliss

It is their work to bear to many a saint

Whose heart adores the shrine which holiest is,

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