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THE WITCH OF ATLAS.
(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?
What hand would crush the silken-winged fly,
Where the swan sings amid the sun's dominions?
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,
But the shower fell, the swift Sun went his way—
That any thing of mine is fit to live!
Wordsworth informs us he was nineteen years
Of slow dull care, so that their roots to hell
Might pierce, and their wide branches blot the spheres
My Witch indeed is not so sweet a creature
She wears he, proud as dandy with his stays,
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;
If you unveil my Witch, no priest nor primate
THE WITCH OF ATLAS.
BEFORE those cruel twins whom at one birth
The pains of putting into learned rhyme,
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;
On hill-tops when the Moon is in a fit;
Which hide themselves between the Earth and Mars.
Ten times the Mother of the Months had bent
The sea-deserted sand-(like children chidden,
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;
Of his own volumes intervolved. All gaunt
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,
And old Silenus, shaking a green stick
Cicada are, drunk with the noonday dew;
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 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,
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
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
And with these threads a subtle veil she wove-
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
And there lay Visions swift and sweet and quaint,
It is their work to bear to many a saint
Whose heart adores the shrine which holiest is,