Psyche [Canto I.][Page ]
Proem — Psyche introduced — Her royal origin — Envy of Venus — Her instructions to Cupid — The island of Pleasure — The fountains of Joy and of Sorrow — The appearance of Love — Psyche asleep — Mutually wounded — Psyche reveals her dream to her Mother — The Oracle consulted — Psyche abandoned on the Rock by its decree — Carried by Zephyrs to the island of Pleasure — The Palace of Love — Banquet of Love — Marriage of Cupid and Psyche — Psyche's daily solitude — Her request to her Lover — His reluctant consent.
1 LET not the rugged brow the rhymes accuse,
2 Which speak of gentle knights and ladies fair,
3 Nor scorn the lighter labours of the muse,
4 Who yet, for cruel battles would not dare
5 The low-strung chords of her weak lyre prepare;
6 But loves to court repose in slumbery lay,
7 To tell of goodly bowers and gardens rare,
8 Of gentle blandishments and amorous play,
9 And all the lore of love, in courtly verse essay.
10 And ye whose gentle hearts in thraldom held
11 The power of mighty Love already own,
12 When you the pains and dangers have beheld,
13 Which erst your lord hath for his Psyche known,
14 For all your sorrows this may well atone,
15 That he you serve the same hath suffered;
16 And sure, your fond applause the tale will crown
17 In which your own distress is pictured,
18 And all that weary way which you yourselves must tread.
19 Most sweet would to my soul the hope appear,
20 That sorrow in my verse a charm might find,
21 To smooth the brow long bent with bitter cheer,
22 Some short distraction to the joyless mind
23 Which grief, with heavy chain, hath fast confined
24 To sad remembrance of its happier state;
25 For to myself I ask no boon more kind
26 Than power another's woes to mitigate,
27 And that soft soothing art which anguish can abate.
28 And thou, sweet sprite, whose sway doth far extend,
29 Smile on the mean historian of thy fame!
30 My heart in each distress and fear befriend,
31 Nor ever let it feel a fiercer flame
32 Than innocence may cherish free from blame,
33 And hope may nurse, and sympathy may own;
34 For, as thy rights I never would disclaim,
35 But true allegiance offered to thy throne,
36 So may I love but one, by one beloved alone.
[Page ][Page ]
37 That anxious torture may I never feel,
38 Which, doubtful, watches o'er a wandering heart.
39 Oh! who that bitter torment can reveal,
40 Or tell the pining anguish of that smart!
41 In those affections may I ne'er have part,
42 Which easily transferred can learn to rove:
43 No, dearest Cupid! when I feel thy dart,
44 For thy sweet Psyche's sake may no false love
45 The tenderness I prize lightly from me remove!
1 MUCH wearied with her long and dreary way,
2 And now with toil and sorrow well nigh spent,
3 Of sad regret and wasting grief the prey,
4 Fair Psyche through untrodden forests went,
5 To lone shades uttering oft a vain lament.
6 And oft in hopeless silence sighing deep,
7 As she her fatal error did repent,
8 While dear remembrance bade her ever weep,
9 And her pale cheek in ceaseless showers of sorrow steep.
10 'Mid the thick covert of that woodland shade,
11 A flowery bank there lay undressed by art,
12 But of the mossy turf spontaneous made;
13 Here the young branches shot their arms athwart,
14 And wove the bower so thick in every part,
15 That the fierce beams of Phoebus glancing strong
16 Could never through the leaves their fury dart;
17 But the sweet creeping shrubs that round it throng,
18 Their loving fragrance mix, and trail their flowers along.
19 And close beside a little fountain played,
20 Which through the trembling leaves all joyous shone,
21 And with the cheerful birds sweet music made,
22 Kissing the surface of each polished stone
23 As it flowed past: sure as her favourite throne
24 Tranquillity might well esteem the bower,
25 The fresh and cool retreat have called her own,
26 A pleasant shelter in the sultry hour,
27 A refuge from the blast, and angry tempest's power.
28 Wooed by the soothing silence of the scene
29 Here Psyche stood, and looking round, lest aught
30 Which threatened danger near her might have been,
31 Awhile to rest her in that quiet spot
32 She laid her down, and piteously bethought
33 Herself on the sad changes of her fate,
34 Which in so short a space so much had wrought,
35 And now had raised her to such high estate,
36 And now had plunged her low in sorrow desolate.
37 Oh! how refreshing seemed the breathing wind
38 To her faint limbs! and while her snowy hands
39 From her fair brow her golden hair unbind,
40 And of her zone unloose the silken bands,
41 More passing bright unveiled her beauty stands;
42 For faultless was her form as beauty's queen,
43 And every winning grace that Love demands,
44 With mild attempered dignity was seen
45 Play o'er each lovely limb, and deck her angel mien.
46 Though solitary now, dismayed, forlorn,
47 Without attendant through the forest rude,
48 The peerless maid of royal lineage born
49 By many a royal youth had oft been wooed;
50 Low at her feet full many a prince had sued,
51 And homage paid unto her beauty rare;
52 But all their blandishments her heart withstood;
53 And well might mortal suitor sure despair,
54 Since mortal charms were none which might with hers compare.
55 Yet nought of insolence or haughty pride
56 Found ever in her gentle breast a place;
57 Though men her wondrous beauty deified,
58 And rashly deeming such celestial grace
59 Could never spring from any earthly race,
60 Lo! all forsaking Cytherea's shrine,
61 Her sacred altars now no more embrace,
62 But to fair Psyche pay those rites divine,
63 Which, Goddess! are thy due, and should be only thine.
64 But envy of her beauty's growing fame
65 Poisoned her sisters' hearts with secret gall,
66 And oft with seeming piety they blame
67 The worship which they justly impious call;
68 And oft, lest evil should their sire befal,
69 Besought him to forbid the erring crowd
70 Which hourly thronged around the regal hall,
71 With incense, gifts, and invocations loud,
72 To her whose guiltless breast, ne'er felt elation proud.
73 For she was timid as the wintry flower;
74 That, whiter than the snow it blooms among,
75 Droops its fair head submissive to the power
76 Of every angry blast which sweeps along
77 Sparing the lovely trembler, while the strong
78 Majestic tenants of the leafless wood
79 It levels low. But, ah! the pitying song
80 Must tell how, than the tempest's self more rude,
81 Fierce wrath and cruel hate their suppliant prey pursued.
82 Indignant quitting her deserted fanes,
83 Now Cytherea sought her favourite isle,
84 And there from every eye her secret pains
85 'Mid her thick myrtle bowers concealed awhile;
86 Practised no more the glance, or witching smile,
87 But nursed the pang she never felt before,
88 Of mortified disdain; then to beguile
89 The hours which mortal flattery soothed no more,
90 She various plans revolved her influence to restore.
91 She called her son with unaccustomed voice;
92 Not with those thrilling accents of delight
93 Which bade so oft enchanted Love rejoice,
94 Soft as the breezes of a summer's night:
95 Now choked with rage its change could Love affright;
96 As all to sudden discontent a prey,
97 Shunning the cheerful day's enlivening light,
98 She felt the angry power's malignant sway,
99 And bade her favourite boy her vengeful will obey.
100 Bathed in those tears which vanquish human hearts,
101 "Oh, son beloved!" (the suppliant goddess cried,)
102 If e'er thy too indulgent mother's arts
103 Subdued for thee the potent deities
104 Who rule my native deep, or haunt the skies;
105 Or if to me the grateful praise be due,
106 That to thy sceptre bow the great and wise,
107 Now let thy fierce revenge my foe pursue,
108 And let my rival scorned her vain presumption rue.
109 For what to me avails my former boast
110 That, fairer than the wife of Jove confest,
111 I gained the prize thus basely to be lost?
112 With me the world's devotion to contest
113 Behold a mortal dares; though on my breast
114 Still vainly brilliant shines the magic zone.
115 Yet, yet I reign: by you my wrongs redrest,
116 The world with humbled Psyche soon shall own
117 That Venus, beauty's queen, shall be adored alone.
118 "Deep let her drink of that dark, bitter spring,
119 Which flows so near thy bright and crystal tide;
120 Deep let her heart thy sharpest arrow sting,
121 Its tempered barb in that black poison dyed.
122 Let her, for whom contending princes sighed,
123 Feel all the fury of thy fiercest flame
124 For some base wretch to foul disgrace allied,
125 Forgetful of her birth and her fair fame,
126 Her honours all defiled, and sacrificed to shame."
127 Then, with sweet pressure of her rosy lip,
128 A kiss she gave bathed in ambrosial dew;
129 The thrilling joy he would for ever sip,
130 And his moist eyes in ecstasy, imbrue.
131 But she whose soul still angry cares pursue,
132 Snatched from the soft caress her glowing charms;
133 Her vengeful will she then enforced anew,
134 As she in haste dismissed him from her arms,
135 The cruel draught to seek of anguish and alarms.
136 'Mid the blue waves by circling seas embraced
137 A chosen spot of fairest land was seen;
138 For there with favouring hand had Nature placed
139 All that could lovely make the varied scene:
140 Eternal Spring there spread her mantle green;
141 There high surrounding hills deep-wooded rose
142 O'er placid lakes; while marble rocks between
143 The fragrant shrubs their pointed heads disclose,
144 And balmy breathes each gale which o'er the island blows.
145 Pleasure had called the fertile lawns her own,
146 And thickly strewed them with her choicest flowers;
147 Amid the quiet glade her golden throne
148 Bright shone with lustre through o'erarching bowers:
149 There her fair train, the ever downy Hours,
150 Sport on light wing with the young Joys entwined;
151 While Hope delighted from her full lap showers
152 Blossoms, whose fragrance can the ravished mind
153 Inebriate with dreams of rapture unconfined.
154 And in the grassy centre of the isle,
155 Where the thick verdure spreads a damper shade,
156 Amid their native rocks concealed awhile,
157 Then o'er the plains in devious streams displayed,
158 Two gushing fountains rise; and thence conveyed,
159 Their waters through the woods and vallies play,
160 Visit each green recess and secret glade,
161 With still unmingled, still meandering way,
162 Nor widely wandering far, can each from other stray.
163 But of strange contrast are their virtues found,
164 And oft the lady of that isle has tried
165 In rocky dens and caverns under ground,
166 The black deformed stream in vain to hide;
167 Bursting all bounds her labours it defied;
168 Yet many a flowery sod its course conceals
169 Through plains where deep its silent waters glide,
170 Till secret ruin all corroding steals,
171 And every treacherous arch the hideous gulph reveals.
172 Forbidding every kindly prosperous growth,
173 Where'er it ran, a channel bleak it wore;
174 The gaping banks receded, as though loth
175 To touch the poison which disgraced their shore:
176 There deadly anguish pours unmixed his store
177 Of all the ills which sting the human breast,
178 The hopeless tears which past delights deplore,
179 Heart-gnawing jealousy which knows no rest,
180 And self-upbraiding shame, by stern remorse opprest.
181 Oh, how unlike the pure transparent stream,
182 Which near it bubbles o'er its golden sands!
183 The impeding stones with pleasant music seem
184 Its progress to detain from other lands;
185 And all its banks, inwreathed with flowery bands,
186 Ambrosial fragrance shed in grateful dew:
187 There young Desire enchanted ever stands,
188 Breathing delight and fragrance ever new,
189 And bathed in constant joys of fond affection true.
190 But not to mortals is it e'er allowed
191 To drink unmingled of that current bright;
192 Scarce can they taste the pleasurable flood,
193 Defiled by angry Fortune's envious spite;
194 Who from the cup of amorous delight
195 Dashes the sparkling draught of brilliant joy,
196 Till, with dull sorrow's stream despoiled quite,
197 No more it cheers the soul nor charms the eye,
198 But 'mid the poisoned bowl distrust and anguish lie.
199 Here Cupid tempers his unerring darts,
200 And in the fount of bliss delights to play;
201 Here mingles balmy sighs and pleasing smarts,
202 And here the honied draught will oft allay
203 With that black poison's all-polluting sway,
204 For wretched man. Hither, as Venus willed,
205 For Psyche's punishment he bent his way:
206 From either stream his amber vase he filled,
207 For her were meant the drops which grief alone distilled.
208 His quiver, sparkling bright with gems and gold,
209 From his fair plumed shoulder graceful hung,
210 And from its top in brilliant chords enrolled
211 Each little vase resplendently was slung:
212 Still as he flew, around him sportive clung
213 His frolic train of winged Zephyrs light,
214 Wafting the fragrance which his tresses flung:
215 While odours dropped from every ringlet bright,
216 And from his blue eyes beamed ineffable delight.
217 Wrapt in a cloud unseen by mortal eye,
218 He sought the chamber of the royal maid;
219 There, lulled by careless soft security,
220 Of the impending mischief nought afraid,
221 Upon her purple couch was Psyche laid,
222 Her radiant eyes a downy slumber sealed;
223 In light transparent veil alone arrayed,
224 Her bosom's opening charms were half revealed,
225 And scarce the lucid folds her polished limbs concealed.
226 A placid smile plays o'er each roseate lip,
227 Sweet severed lips! while thus your pearls disclose,
228 That slumbering thus unconscious she may sip
229 The cruel presage of her future woes?
230 Lightly, as fall the dews upon the rose,
231 Upon the coral gates of that sweet cell
232 The fatal drops he pours; nor yet he knows,
233 Nor, though a God, can he presaging tell
234 How he himself shall mourn the ills of that sad spell!
235 Nor yet content, he from his quiver drew,
236 Sharpened with skill divine, a shining dart:
237 No need had he for bow, since thus too true
238 His hand might wound her all-exposed heart;
239 Yet her fair side he touched with gentlest art,
240 And half relenting on her beauties gazed;
241 Just then awaking with a sudden start
242 Her opening eye in humid lustre blazed,
243 Unseen he still remained, enchanted and amazed.
244 The dart which in his hand now trembling stood,
245 As o'er the couch he bent with ravished eye,
246 Drew with its daring point celestial blood
247 From his smooth neck's unblemished ivory:
248 Heedless of this, but with a pitying sigh
249 The evil done now anxious to repair,
250 He shed in haste the balmy drops of joy
251 O'er all the silky ringlets of her hair;
252 Then stretched his plumes divine, and breathed celestial air.
253 Unhappy Psyche! soon the latent wound
254 The fading roses of her cheek confess,
255 Her eyes bright beams, in swimming sorrows drowned,
256 Sparkle no more with life and happiness
257 Her parents fond exulting heart to bless;
258 She shuns adoring crowds, and seeks to hide
259 The pining sorrows which her soul oppress,
260 Till to her mother's tears no more denied,
261 The secret grief she owns, for which she lingering sighed.
262 A dream of mingled terror and delight
263 Still heavy hangs upon her troubled soul,
264 An angry form still swims before her sight,
265 And still the vengeful thunders seem to roll;
266 Still crushed to earth she feels the stern control
267 Of Venus unrelenting, unappeased:
268 The dream returns, she feels the fancied dole;
269 Once more the furies on her heart have seized,
270 But still she views the youth who all her sufferings eased.
271 Of wonderous beauty did the vision seem,
272 And in the freshest prime of youthful years;
273 Such at the close of her distressful dream
274 A graceful champion to her eyes appears;
275 Her loved deliverer from her foes and fears
276 She seems in grateful transport still to press;
277 Still his soft voice sounds in her ravished ears;
278 Dissolved in fondest tears of tenderness
279 His form she oft invokes her waking eyes to bless.
280 Nor was it quite a dream, for as she woke,
281 Ere heavenly mists concealed him from her eye,
282 One sudden transitory view she took
283 Of Love's most radiant bright divinity;
284 From the fair image never can she fly,
285 As still consumed with vain desire she pines;
286 While her fond parents heave the anxious sigh,
287 And to avert her fate seek holy shrines
288 The threatened ills to learn by auguries and signs.
289 And now, the royal sacrifice prepared,
290 The milk-white bull they to the altar lead,
291 Whose youth the galling yoke as yet had spared,
292 Now destined by the sacred knife to bleed:
293 When lo! with sudden spring his horns he freed,
294 And head-long rushed amid the frighted throng:
295 While from the smoke-veiled shrine such sounds Proceed
296 As well might strike with awe the soul most strong;
297 And thus divinely spoke the heaven inspired tongue.
298 "On nuptial couch, in nuptial vest arrayed,
299 On a tall rock's high summit Psyche place:
300 Let all depart, and leave the fated maid
301 Who never must a mortal Hymen grace:
302 A winged monster of no earthly race
303 Thence soon shall bear his trembling bride away;
304 His power extends o'er all the bounds of space,
305 And Jove himself has owned his dreaded sway,
306 Whose flaming breath sheds fire, whom earth and heaven obey."
307 With terror, anguish, and astonishment
308 The oracle her wretched father hears;
309 Now from his brow the regal honours rent,
310 And now in frantic sorrow wild appears,
311 Nor threatened plagues, nor punishment he fears,
312 Refusing long the sentence to obey,
313 Till Psyche, trembling with submissive tears,
314 Bids them the sacrifice no more delay,
315 Prepare the funeral couch, and leave the destined prey.
316 Pleased by the ambiguous doom the Fates promulge,
317 The angry Goddess and enamoured Boy
318 Alike content their various hopes indulge;
319 He, still exploring with an anxious eye
320 The future prospect of uncertain joy,
321 Plans how the tender object of his care
322 He may protect from threatened misery;
323 Ah sanguine Love! so oft deceived, forbear
324 With flattering tints to paint illusive hope so fair.
325 But now what lamentations rend the skies!
326 In amaracine wreaths the virgin choir
327 With Io Hymen mingle funeral cries:
328 Lost in the sorrows of the Lydian lyre
329 The breathing flutes' melodious notes expire;
330 In sad procession pass the mournful throng
331 Extinguishing with tears the torches' fire,
332 While the mute victim weeping crowds among,
333 By unknown fears oppressed, moves silently along.
334 But on such scenes of terror and dismay
335 The mournful Muse delights not long to dwell;
336 She quits well pleased the melancholy lay,
337 Nor vainly seeks the parents' woes to tell:
338 But what to wondering Psyche then befel
339 When thus abandoned, let her rather say,
340 Who shuddering looks to see some monster fell
341 Approach the desert rock to seize his prey,
342 With cruel fangs devour, or tear her thence away.
343 When lo! a gentle breeze began to rise,
344 Breathed by obedient Zephyrs round the maid,
345 Fanning her bosom with its softest sighs
346 Awhile among her fluttering robes it strayed,
347 And boldly sportive latent charms displayed:
348 And then, as Cupid willed, with tenderest care
349 From the tall rock, where weeping she was laid,
350 With gliding motion through the yielding air
351 To Pleasure's blooming isle their lovely charge they bear.
352 On the green bosom of the turf reclined,
353 They lightly now the astonished virgin lay,
354 To placid rest they sooth her troubled mind;
355 Around her still with watchful care they stay,
356 Around her still in quiet whispers play;
357 Till lulling slumbers bid her eyelids close,
358 Veiling with silky fringe each brilliant ray,
359 While soft tranquillity divinely flows
360 O'er all her soul serene, in visions of repose.
361 Refreshed she rose, and all enchanted gazed
362 On the rare beauties of the pleasant scene.
363 Conspicuous far a lofty palace blazed
364 Upon a sloping bank of softest green;
365 A fairer edifice was never seen;
366 The high ranged columns own no mortal hand,
367 But seem a temple meet for Beauty's queen.
368 Like polished snow the marble pillars stand
369 In grace attempered majesty sublimely grand.
370 Gently ascending from a silvery flood,
371 Above the palace rose the shaded hill,
372 The lofty eminence was crowned with wood,
373 And the rich lawns, adorned by nature's skill,
374 The passing breezes with their odours fill;
375 Here ever blooming groves of orange glow,
376 And here all flowers which from their leaves distil
377 Ambrosial dew in sweet succession blow,
378 And trees of matchless size a fragrant shade bestow.
379 The sun looks glorious mid a sky serene,
380 And bids bright lustre sparkle o'er the tide;
381 The clear blue ocean at a distance seen
382 Bounds the gay landscape on the western side,
383 While closing round it with majestic pride,
384 The lofty rocks mid citron groves arise;
385 "Sure some divinity must here reside,"
386 As tranced in some bright vision, Psyche cries,
387 And scarce believes the bliss, or trusts her charmed eyes.
388 When lo! a voice divinely sweet she hears,
389 From unscen lips proceeds the heavenly sound;
390 "Psyche approach, dismiss thy timid fears,
391 At length his bride thy longing spouse has found,
392 And bids for thee immortal joys abound;
393 For thee the palace rose at his command,
394 For thee his love a bridal banquet crowned;
395 He bids attendant nymphs around thee stand
396 Prompt every wish to serve, a fond obedient band."
397 Increasing wonder filled her ravished soul,
398 For now the pompous portals opened wide,
399 There, pausing oft, with timid foot she stole
400 Through halls high domed, enriched with sculptured pride,
401 While gay saloons appeared on either side
402 In splendid vista opening to her sight;
403 And all with precious gems so beautified,
404 And furnished with such exquisite delight,
405 That scarce the beams of heaven emit such lustre bright.
406 The amethyst was there of violet hue,
407 And there the topaz shed its golden ray,
408 The chrysoberyl, and the sapphire blue
409 As the clear azure of a sunny day,
410 Or the mild eyes where amorous glances play;
411 The snow white jasper, and the opal's flame,
412 The blushing ruby, and the agate grey,
413 And there the gem which bears his luckless name
414 Whose death by Phoebus mourned ensured him deathless fame.
415 There the green emerald, there cornelians glow,
416 And rich carbuncles pour eternal light,
417 With all that India and Peru can shew,
418 Or Labrador can give so flaming bright
419 To the charmed mariner's half dazzled, sight:
420 The coral paved baths with diamonds blaze:
421 And all that can the female heart delight
422 Of fair attire, the last recess displays,
423 And all that Luxury can ask, her eye surveys.
424 Now through the hall melodious music stole,
425 And self-prepared the splendid banquet stands,
426 Self-poured the nectar sparkles in the bowl,
427 The lute and viol touched by unseen hands
428 Aid the soft voices of the choral bands;
429 O'er the full board a brighter lustre beams
430 Than Persia's monarch at his feast commands:
431 For sweet refreshment all inviting seems
432 To taste celestial food, and pure ambrosial streams.
433 But when meek Eve hung out her dewy star,
434 And gently veiled with gradual hand the sky,
435 Lo! the bright folding doors retiring far,
436 Display to Psyche's captivated eye
437 All that voluptuous ease could e'er supply
438 To sooth the spirits in serene repose:
439 Beneath the velvet's purple canopy
440 Divinely formed a downy couch arose,
441 While alabaster lamps a milky light disclose.
442 Once more she hears the hymeneal strain;
443 Far other voices now attune the lay;
444 The swelling sounds approach, awhile remain,
445 And then retiring faint dissolved away:
446 The expiring lamps emit a feebler ray,
447 And soon in fragrant death extinguished lie:
448 Then virgin terrors Psyche's soul dismay,
449 When through the obscuring gloom shenought can spy,
450 But softly rustling sounds declare some Being nigh.
451 Oh, you for whom I write! whose hearts can melt
452 At the soft thrilling voice whose power you prove,
453 You know what charm, unutterably felt,
454 Attends the unexpected voice of Love:
455 Above the lyre, the lute's soft notes above,
456 With sweet enchantment to the soul it steals
457 And bears it to Elysium's happy grove;
458 You best can tell the rapture Psyche feels
459 When Love's ambrosial lip the vows of Hymen seals.
460 "'Tis he, 'tis my deliverer! deep imprest
461 Upon my heart those sounds I well recal,"
462 The blushing maid exclaimed, and on his breast
463 A tear of trembling ecstasy let fall.
464 But, ere the breezes of the morning call
465 Aurora from her purple, humid bed,
466 Psyche in vain explores the vacant hall,
467 Her tender lover from her arms is fled,
468 While sleep his downy wings had o'er her eye-lids spread.
469 Again the band invisible attend,
470 And female voices sooth the mournful bride;
471 Light hands to braid her hair assistance lend,
472 By some she sees the glowing bracelet tied,
473 Others officious hover at her side,
474 And each bright gem for her acceptance bring,
475 While some, the balmy air diffusing wide,
476 Fan softer perfumes from each odorous wing
477 Than the fresh bosom sheds of earliest, sweetest spring.
478 With songs divine her anxious soul they cheer,
479 And woo her footsteps to delicious bowers,
480 They bid the fruit more exquisite appear
481 Which at her feet its bright profusion showers:
482 For her they cull unknown, celestial flowers;
483 The gilded car they bid her fearless guide,
484 Which at her wish self-moved with wondrous powers,
485 The rapid bird's velocity defied,
486 While round the blooming isle it rolled with circuit wide.
487 Again they spread the feast, they strike the lyre,
488 But to her frequent questions nought reply,
489 Her lips in vain her lover's name require,
490 Or wherefore thus concealed he shuns her eye.
491 But when reluctant twilight veils the sky,
492 And each pale lamp successively expires;
493 Again she trembling hears the voice of joy,
494 Her spouse a tender confidence inspires,
495 But with a fond embrace ere dawn again retires.
496 To charm the languid hours of solitude
497 He oft invites her to the Muse's lore,
498 For none, have vainly e'er the Muse pursued,
499 And those whom she delights, regret no more
500 The social, joyous hours, while rapt they soar
501 To worlds unknown, and live in fancy's dream:
502 Oh, Muse divine! thee only I implore,
503 Shed on my soul thy sweet inspiring beams,
504 And pleasure's gayest scene insipid folly seems!
505 Silence and solitude the Muses love,
506 And whom they charm they can alone suffice;
507 Nor ever tedious hour their votaries prove:
508 This solace now the lonely Psyche tries,
509 Or, while her hand the curious needle plies,
510 She learns from lips unseen celestial strains;
511 Responsive now with their soft voice she vies,
512 Or bids her plaintive harp express the pains
513 Which absence sore inflicts where Love all potent reigns.
514 But melancholy poisons all her joys,
515 And secret sorrows all her hopes depress,
516 Consuming languor every bliss destroys,
517 And sad she droops repining, comfortless.
518 Her tender lover well the cause can guess,
519 And sees too plain inevitable fate
520 Pursue her to the bowers of happiness.
521 "Oh, Psyche! most beloved, ere yet too late,
522 Dread the impending ills and prize thy tranquil state."
523 In vain his weeping love he thus advised;
524 She longs to meet a parent's sweet embrace,
525 Oh, were their sorrowing hearts at least apprised
526 How Psyche's wondrous lot all fears may chase;
527 For whom thy love prepared so fair a place!
528 Let but my bliss their fond complaints repress,
529 Let me but once behold a mother's face,
530 Oh, spouse adored! and in full happiness
531 This love-contented heart its solitude shall bless.
532 Oh, by those beauties I must ne'er behold!
533 The spicy-scented ringlets of thine hair:
534 By that soft neck my loving arms enfold,
535 Crown with a kind consent thy Psyche's prayer!
536 Their dear embrace, their blessing let me share;
537 So shall I stain our couch with tears no more:
538 But, blest in thee, resign each other care,
539 Nor seek again thy secret to explore,
540 Which yet, denied thy sight, I ever must deplore. "
541 Unable to resist her fond request,
542 Reluctant Cupid thus at last complied,
543 And sighing clasped her closer to his breast.
544 "Go then, my Psyche! go, my lovely bride!
545 But let me in thy faith at least confide,
546 That by no subtle, impious arts betrayed,
547 Which, ah! too well I know will all be tried,
548 Thy simply trusting heart shall e'er be swayed
549 The secret veil to rend which fate thy screen hath made.
550 For danger hovers o'er thy smiling days,
551 One only way to shield thee yet, I know;
552 Unseen, I may securely guard thy ways
553 And save thee from the threatened storm of woe;
554 But forced, if known, my Psyche to forego,
555 Thou never, never must again be mine!
556 What mutual sorrows hence must ceaseless flow!
557 Compelled thy dear embraces to resign,
558 While thou to anguish doomed for lost delights shalt pine.
559 Solace thy mind with hopes of future joy!
560 In a dear infant thou shalt see my face;
561 Blest mother soon of an immortal boy,
562 In him his father's features thou shalt trace!
563 Yet go! for thou art free, the bounds of space
564 Are none for thee: attendant Zephyrs stay,
565 Speak but thy will, and to the wished for place
566 Their lovely mistress swift they shall convey:
567 Yet hither, ah! return, ere fades the festive day. "
568 "Light of my soul, far dearer than the day!"
569 (Exulting Psyche cries in grateful joy)
570 Me all the bliss of earth could ill repay
571 For thy most sweet, divine society;
572 To thee again with rapture will I fly,
573 Nor with less pleasure hail the star of eve
574 Than when in tedious solitude I sigh;
575 My vows of silent confidence believe,
576 Nor think thy Psyche's faith will e'er thy love deceive. "
[Page ][Page ]
577 Her suit obtained, in full contentment blest,
578 Her eyes at length in placid slumbers close.
579 Sleep, hapless fair! sleep on thy lover's breast!
580 Ah, not again to taste such pure repose!
581 Till thy sad heart by long experience knows
582 How much they err, who to their interest blind,
583 Slight the calm peace which from retirement flows;
584 And while they think their fleeting joys to bind,
585 Banish the tranquil bliss which heaven for man designed!