[Psyche] Canto III.[Page ]
Praise of Love — Psyche's Champion, with his attendant Constance, described — The Knight assumes the command of Passion, who appears as a Lion — Psyche proceeds under the protection of the Knight — Persuaded to repose in the Bower of loose Delight — Her escape from thence — Led by Innocence to Retirement — Psyche meets Vanity and Flattery — Betrayed by them into the power of Ambition — Rescued by her Knight.
1 On, who art thou who darest of Love complain?
2 He is a gentle spirit and injures none!
3 His foes are ours; from them the bitter pain,
4 The keen, deep anguish, the heart-rending groan,
5 Which in his milder reign are never known.
6 His tears are softer than the April showers,
7 White-handed Innocence supports his throne,
8 His sighs are sweet as breath of earliest flowers,
9 Affection guides his steps, and peace protects his bowers.
10 But scarce admittance he on earth can find,
11 Opposed by vanity, by fraud ensnared,
12 Suspicion frights him from the gloomy mind,
13 And jealousy in vain his smiles has shared,
14 Whose sullen frown the gentle godhead scared;
15 From passion's rapid blaze in haste he flies,
16 His wings alone the fiercer flame has spared;
17 From him ambition turns his scornful eyes,
18 And avarice, slave to gold, a generous lord denies.
19 But chief Inconstancy his power destroys;
20 To mock his lovely form, an idle train
21 With magic skill she dressed in transient toys,
22 By these the selfish votaries she can gain
23 Whom Love's more simple bands could ne'er detain.
24 Ah! how shall Psyche through such mortal foes
25 The fated end of all her toils attain?
26 Sadly she ponders o'er her hopeless woes,
27 Till on the pillowy turf she sinks to short repose.
28 But, as the careless lamb whom playful chance
29 Thoughtless of danger has enticed to rove,
30 Amidst her gambols casts a sudden glance
31 Where lurks her wily foe within the grove,
32 Anxious to fly, but still afraid to move,
33 All hopeless of escape — so looks the maid,
34 Such dread her half-awakened senses prove,
35 When roused from sleep before her eyes dismayed
36 A knight all armed appears close mid the embowering shade.
37 Trembling she gazed, until the stranger knight
38 Tempering with mildest courtesy, the awe
39 Which majesty inspired, low in her sight
40 Obeisance made; nor would he nearer draw,
41 Till, half subdued surprise and fear, he saw
42 Pale terror yielding to the rosy grace,
43 The pure congealed blood begin to thaw,
44 And flowing through her crystal veins apace
45 Suffuse with mantling blush her mild celestial face.
46 Gently approaching then with fairest speech
47 He proffered service to the lonely dame,
48 And prayed her that she might not so impeach
49 The honour of his youth's yet spotless fame,
50 As aught to fear which might his knighthood shame;
51 But if her unprotected steps to guard,
52 The glory of her champion he might claim,
53 He asked no other guerdon or reward,
54 Than what bright honour's self might to his deeds awards.
55 Doubting, and musing much within her mind,
56 With half suspicious, half confiding eye,
57 Awhile she stood; her thoughts bewildered find
58 No utterance, unwilling to deny
59 Such proffered aid, yet bashful to reply
60 With quick assent, since though concealed his face
61 Beneath his helm, yet might she well espy
62 And in each fair proportion plainly trace
63 The symmetry of form, and perfect youthful grace.
64 Hard were it to describe the nameless charm
65 That o'er each limb, in every action played,
66 The softness of that voice, which could disarm
67 The hand of fury of its deadly blade:
68 In shining armour was the youth arrayed,
69 And on his shield a bleeding heart he bore,
70 His lofty crest light plumes of azure shade,
71 There shone a wounded dragon bathed in gore,
72 And bright with silver beamed the silken scarf he wore.
73 His milk-white steed with glittering trappings blazed,
74 Whose reins a beauteous boy attendant held,
75 On the fair squire with wonder Psyche gazed,
76 For scarce he seemed of age to bear the shield,
77 Far less a ponderous lance, or sword to wield;
78 Yet well this little page his lord had served,
79 His youthful arm had many a foe repelled,
80 His watchful eye from many a snare preserved,
81 Nor ever from his steps in any danger swerved.
82 Graced with the gift of a perpetual youth,
83 No lapse of years had power his form to change;
84 Constance was named the boy, whose matchless truth
85 Though oft inticed with other lords to range
86 Nor fraud, nor force could from that knight estrange;
87 His mantle of celestial blue was made,
88 And its bright texture wrought with art so strange
89 That the fresh brilliant gloss could never fade,
90 And lustre yet unknown to Psyche's eyes displayed.
91 Thus while she gazed, behold with horrid roar
92 A lion from the neighbouring forest rushed,
93 A golden chain around his neck he bore,
94 Which richly glowing with carbuncles blushed,
95 While his fierce eye-balls fiery rage had flushed:
96 Forth steps the youth before the affrighted fair,
97 Who in his mighty paw already crushed
98 Seems in the terrors of her wild despair,
99 And her mute quivering lips a death-like paleness wear.
100 But scarce the kingly beast the knight beheld,
101 When crouching low, submissive at his feet,
102 His wrath extinguished, and his valour quelled,
103 He seemed with reverence and obeisance sweet
104 Him as his long acknowledged lord to greet.
105 While, in acceptance of the new command,
106 Well pleased the youth received the homage meet,
107 Then seized the splendid chain with steady hand
108 Full confident to rule, and every foe withstand.
109 And, when at length recovered from her fear
110 The timid Psyche mounts his docile steed,
111 Much prayed, she tells to his attentive ear
112 (As on her purposed journey they proceed)
113 The doubtful course the oracle decreed:
114 And how observant of her friendly guide,
115 She still pursued its flight, with all the speed
116 Her fainting strength had hitherto supplied:
117 What pathless wilds she crossed! What forests darkling wide!
118 Which having heard, the courteous knight began
119 With counsel sweet to sooth her wounded heart;
120 Divinely eloquent, persuasion ran
121 The herald of his words ere they depart
122 His lips, which well might confidence impart,
123 As he revealed how he himself was bound
124 By solemn vow, that neither force nor art
125 His helmet should unloose, till he had found
126 The bower of happiness, that long sought fairy ground.
127 I too (he said) divided from my love,
128 The offended power of Venus deprecate,
129 Like thee, through paths untrodden, sadly rove
130 In search of that fair spot prescribed by fate,
131 The blessed term of my afflicted state,
132 Where I the mistress of my soul shall find,
133 For whose dear sake no toil to me seems great,
134 Nor any dangers to my search assigned
135 Can from its purpose fright my ardent longing mind.
136 "Psyche! thy soft and sympathising heart
137 Shall share the rapture of thy loyal knight;
138 He too, in thy content shall bear a part,
139 Blest witness of thy new restored delight;
140 My vows of true allegiance here I plight,
141 Ne'er to forsake thee till thy perils end,
142 Thy steps to guard, in thy protection fight,
143 By counsel aid, and by my arm defend,
144 And prove myself in all, thy champion and thy friend."
145 So on they went, her cheerless heart revived
146 By promised succour in her doubtful way;
147 And much of hope she to herself derived,
148 From the warm eagerness his lips display
149 In their pursuit to suffer no delay:
150 "And sure, (she softly sighed) my dearest Lord,
151 Thy watchful love still guides me as I stray,
152 Not chance alone could such an aid afford,
153 Lo! beasts of prey confess the heaven-assisted sword."
154 Now from his crystal urn, with chilling hand,
155 Vesper had sprinkled all the earth with dew,
156 A misty veil obscured the neighbouring land,
157 And shut the fading landscape from their view;
158 A beaten path they eagerly pursue,
159 (For now refreshment and repose they need
160 As Psyche weary of long travel grew)
161 Where by a river's bank it seemed to lead,
162 Along its sinuous course they heedlessly proceed.
163 At length the lordly beast that bore the knight
164 Explored the river's depth, with sudden bound:
165 Psyche, who heard the plunge with strange affright,
166 Her champion re-assured with welcome sound,
167 That he the other bank had safely found;
168 And, while he spoke, emerging from the shade,
169 A joyous goodly train appear around,
170 Of many a gallant youth and white robed maid,
171 Who grateful, welcome gave, and courteous greeting paid.
172 Quick through the trees a thousand torches blazed
173 The gloom to banish, and the scene disclose
174 To Psyche all irresolute, amazed:
175 A bridge with stately arch at distance rose,
176 Thither at once the gay assembly goes,
177 Not unattended by the charmed knight,
178 Inviting Psyche to partake repose,
179 Pointing where shone their bower illumined bright,
180 Their bower so passing fair, the bower of loose Delight.
181 At length with timid foot the bridge she past,
182 And to her guardian knight clung fearfully,
183 While many a doubting glance around she cast,
184 If still her watchful dove she might espy;
185 Feebly it seemed on labouring wing to fly,
186 Till, dazzled by the sudden glare around,
187 In painful trance it closed its dizzy eye,
188 And had it not fair Psyche's bosom found,
189 Its drooping pinion soon had touched the unhallowed ground.
190 Hence there arose within her heart sore dread
191 Which no alluring pleasure could dispel;
192 The splendid hall with luscious banquet spread,
193 The soft-breathed flutes which in sweet concert swell,
194 With melody of song unspeakable;
195 Nor the light dancing troop in roses drest,
196 Could chase the terrors which she dared not tell,
197 While fondly cherished in her anxious breast
198 She strove in vain to sooth the fluttering bird to rest.
199 On a soft downy couch the guests are placed,
200 And close behind them stands their watchful page,
201 But much his strict attendance there disgraced,
202 And much was scorned his green and tender age,
203 His calm fixed eye, and steady aspect sage:
204 But him nor rude disdain, nor mockery,
205 Nor soothing blandishments could e'er engage
206 The wanton mazes of their sports to try,
207 Or from his lord to turn his firm adhering eye.
208 White bosomed nymphs around with loosened zones
209 All on the guests obsequiously tend,
210 Some sing of love with soft expiring tones,
211 While Psyche's melting eyes the strain commend;
212 Some o'er their heads the canopy suspend,
213 Some hold the sparkling bowl, while some with skill
214 Ambrosial showers and balmy juices blend,
215 Or the gay lamps with liquid odours fill
216 Whose many coloured fires divinest sweets distil.
217 And now a softer light they seemed to shed,
218 And sweetest music ushered in their queen:
219 Her languid steps by winged boys are led,
220 Who in their semblance might have Cupids been;
221 Close wrapt in veils her following train was seen;
222 Herself looked lovely in her loose attire,
223 Her smiling eyes gave lustre to the scene,
224 And still, where'er they turned their wanton fire,
225 Each thrilling nerve confessed the rapture they inspire.
226 The stranger guests she viewed with welcome glad,
227 And crowned the banquet with reception sweet,
228 To fill the glowing bowl her nymphs she bad,
229 And graceful rising from her splendid seat
230 She would herself present the sparkling treat;
231 When lo! the dove alarmed with sudden start,
232 Spurned the bright cup and dashed it at her feet,
233 For well he knew 'twas mixed with treacherous art
234 To sting his Psyche's breast with agonizing smart.
235 Regardless of her supplicating tears
236 Each eye with vengeful rage the insult sees,
237 Her knight's protection now in vain appears;
238 The offended sovereign anxious to appease,
239 A thousand hands prepare the dove to seize:
240 Nor was this all, for as the tumult rose,
241 Sudden more thick than swarm of summer bees,
242 The secret dens their venomed hoards disclose,
243 And horror at the sight her vital spirits froze.
244 Hissing aloud with undulations dire,
245 Their forked tongues unnumbered serpents show,
246 Their tainted breath emitting poisonous fire,
247 All turn on Psyche as their mortal foe;
248 But he, whose arm was never weak or slow,
249 Now rushed before her with resistless spring,
250 On either side the oft-repeated blow
251 Repulsed the malice of their deadly sting,
252 While sparks of wrathful fire from their fierce jaws they fling.
253 "Fly, Psyche! these are slander's hellish brood!
254 Contest I know is vain," her champion cried.
255 Her passage now the opposing train withstood;
256 Struck with disgust their hideous forms she spied,
257 For lo! each silken veil is thrown aside,
258 And foul deformity, and filth obscene,
259 With monstrous shapes appear on every side;
260 But vanished is their fair and treacherous queen,
261 And with her every charm that decked the enchanted scene.
262 Meanwhile the dove had soared above their reach,
263 But hovered still in anxious Psyche's sight,
264 Precursor of escape, it seemed to teach
265 Whither she safest might direct her flight,
266 And find a passport in her foes' despite;
267 One rugged path there lay with briars o'ergrown,
268 Then dark and dismal with the shades of night,
269 Thither the dove on rapid wing had flown,
270 Conspicuous mid the gloom its silver plumage shone.
271 Yet she delayed, o'ercome by terror's power,
272 And scarce her fainting form the knight could shield,
273 When lo! still active in the trying hour,
274 Constance rushed fearless through the dreadful field,
275 With breast-plate firm invulnerably steeled,
276 He heeded not the storms which round him press,
277 To any perils he disdained to yield,
278 Endued with prudence as with hardiness,
279 And ever skilled to bring due succour in distress.
280 Lo! swift returning on his master's steed,
281 In his right hand he held the lion's chain,
282 The mighty beast his gentleness could lead,
283 Though little used to bear the curb or rein,
284 And mid those groves accustomed to remain,
285 Yet now prepared, with sweet submissive grace,
286 He ready stands the knight to bear again,
287 While trembling Psyche on the steed they place,
288 Which swift as lightning flies far from the dreadful chase.
289 Rough was the rude wild way, and many a thorn
290 Tore her loose garments in their rapid flight,
291 O'er many a league the panting fair is borne,
292 Till now, emerging from the shades of night,
293 The grey-eyed morn stole forth her pallid light.
294 Then first she paused, unable to proceed,
295 Exhausted with fatigue, and pain, and fright.
296 "Turn, Psyche," cried the youth, "relax thy speed,
297 And see thyself at length from thy pursuers freed."
298 Mid the thick forest was a lonely dell,
299 Where foot of man was seldom known to tread,
300 The sloping hills all round in graceful swell
301 The little green with woods environed;
302 Hither the dove their passive course had led:
303 Here the thin smoke blue rising mid the trees,
304 Where broad and brown the deepest umbrage spread,
305 Spoke the abode of safe retired ease,
306 And Psyche gladly there her dove descending sees.
307 In lowly cottage, walled with mossy sod,
308 Close by a little spring's perpetual rill,
309 A hermit dwelt, who many a year had trod
310 With sacred solitude that pine-clad hill,
311 And loved with holy images to fill
312 His soul enrapt; yet courteous then besought
313 A while secluded here to rest; and still
314 Replete with kind and hospitable thought,
315 To a sequestered bower the wearied [Psyche] brought.
316 Skilled in the virtue of each healing flower,
317 And the wild fruit's restoring juice to blend,
318 He spreads the frugal fare of wholesome power,
319 And heedfully his cares their wants attend;
320 A docile ear to his advice they lend,
321 And sage instruction from his precepts take,
322 Which much their future journey may befriend;
323 Wisdom with soothing eloquence he spake,
324 Pleased to resolve their doubts, and all their cares partake.
325 In those sweet placid scenes awhile they rest,
326 Till Psyche finds her fainting strength revive;
327 And here her dove, as in a quiet nest,
328 Delighted seems to sportive joy alive;
329 And hence they surest confidence derive.
330 He plumes his wings, and through his swelling throat
331 (No more a ruffled, fearful fugitive)
332 In gentle murmurs pours his dulcet note,
333 While Psyche listening sits in some still vale remote.
334 Oh! have you never known the silent charm
335 That undisturbed retirement yields the soul,
336 Where no intruder might your peace alarm,
337 And tenderness hath wept without control,
338 While melting fondness o'er the bosom stole?
339 Did fancy never, in some lonely grove,
340 Abridge the hours which must in absence roll?
341 Those pensive pleasures did you never prove,
342 Oh, you have never loved! you know not what is love!
343 They do not love who can to these prefer
344 The tumult of the gay, or folly's roar;
345 The Muse they know not; nor delight in her
346 Who can the troubled soul to rest restore,
347 Calm contemplation: Yes, I must deplore
348 Their joyless state, even more than his who mourns
349 His love for ever lost; delight no more
350 Unto his widowed heart indeed returns,
351 Yet, while he weeps, his soul their cold indifference spurns.
352 But if soft hope illumines fancy's dream,
353 Assuring him of love and constancy,
354 How exquisite do then the moments seem,
355 When he may hide himself from every eye,
356 And cherish the dear thought in secrecy!
357 While sweet remembrance sooths his thrilling heart,
358 And brings once more past hours of kindness nigh,
359 Recals the look of love when forced to part,
360 And turns to drops of joy the tears that sadly start.
361 Forgetful of the dangers of her way,
362 Imagination oft would Psyche bear
363 To her long travel's end, and that blest day
364 When Love unveiled should to her eyes appear;
365 When she might view his charms exempt from fear,
366 Taste his pure kisses, feel his balmy sighs,
367 Rest in the fond embrace of arms so dear,
368 Gaze with soft rapture on his melting eyes,
369 And hear his voice divine, the music of the skies!
370 Their destined course impatient to achieve,
371 The knight is urgent onward to proceed:
372 Cheered with recruited strength they take their leave
373 Of their kind host, and pay their grateful meed
374 Of warmest thanks sincere; onward they speed
375 Their sunless journey long through forests green,
376 And tangled thickets rank with many a weed;
377 And When at closing day a hut is seen,
378 They seek the humble roof, nor scorn its welcome mean.
379 It happened once that early roused from sleep,
380 (Ere her damp veil the virgin morn had cast
381 From her pale face, not yet with blushes deep
382 Lovely suffused, as when approaching fast
383 His herald star proclaims her spouse at last)
384 Psyche forsaking soon her homely bed,
385 Alone had fearless the low threshold past,
386 And, to beguile the hours which lingering fled,
387 Light o'er the dewy plain walked forth with nimble tread.
388 Yet though the knight close wrapt in slumber lay,
389 Her steps, at distance, still the page pursued,
390 Fearful that danger might befal her way,
391 Or lest, entangled in the mazy wood,
392 Returning she should miss the pathway rude.
393 The lark now hails the sun with rapturous song,
394 The cheerful earth resounds with gratitude,
395 O'er the guy scene, as Psyche tript along,
396 She felt her spirits rise, her lightened heart grow strong.
397 And hark, soft music steals upon the ear!
398 'Tis woman's voice most exquisitely sweet!
399 Behold two female forms approaching near
400 Arrest with wonder Psyche's timid feet;
401 On a gay car, by speckled panthers fleet
402 Is drawn in gallant state a seeming queen,
403 And at her foot on low but graceful seat
404 A gentle nymph of lovely form is seen,
405 In robe of fairest white, with scarf of pleasant green.
406 In strains of most bewitching harmony,
407 And still adapted to her sovereign's praise,
408 She filled the groves with such sweet melody,
409 That, quite o'ercome with rapture and amaze,
410 Psyche stood listening to the warbled lays;
411 Yet with a sullen, scarce approving ear
412 Her mistress sits, but with attentive gaze,
413 Her eyes she fixes on a mirror clear
414 Where still by fancy's spell unrivalled charms appear.
415 And, as she looked with aspect ever new,
416 She seemed on change and novel grace intent,
417 Her robe was formed of ever varying hue,
418 And whimsically placed each ornament;
419 On her attire, with rich luxuriance spent,
420 The treasures of the earth, the sea, the air,
421 Are vainly heaped her wishes to content;
422 Yet were her arms and snowy bosom bare,
423 And both in painted pride shone exquisitely fair.
424 Her braided tresses in profusion drest,
425 Circled with diadem, and nodding plumes,
426 Sported their artful ringlets o'er her breast,
427 And to the breezes gave their rich perfumes;
428 Her cheek with tint of borrowed roses blooms:
429 Used to receive from all rich offerings,
430 She quaffs with conscious right the fragrant fumes
431 Which her attendant from a censer flings,
432 Who graceful feeds the flame with incense while she sings.
433 Soon as her glance fair Psyche's form had caught,
434 Her soft attendant smiling she addressed:
435 "Behold, Lusinga! couldst thou e'er have thought
436 That these wild woods were so in beauty blest?
437 Let but that nymph in my attire be drest
438 And scarce her loveliness will yield to mine!
439 At least invite her in our bower to rest,
440 Before her eyes let all my splendor shine,
441 Perhaps to dwell with us her heart we may incline."
442 With softest smile applauding all she heard,
443 Lusinga bowing left her golden seat,
444 And Psyche, who at first in doubt had feared
445 While listening to the lay so silver sweet,
446 Now passive followed with unconscious feet;
447 Till Constance, all alarmed, impatient flew,
448 And soft his whispers of the maid entreat
449 To fly the Syren's song, for well he knew
450 What lurking dangers hence would to his Lord ensue.
451 "Oh, do not trust her treacherous lips," he cried,
452 "She is the subtle slave of Vanity,
453 Her queen, the child of folly, and of pride,
454 To lure thee to her power each art will try,
455 Nor ever will release thee peaceably."
456 He spoke, but spoke in vain, for lo! from far,
457 Of giant port they fast approaching spy
458 A knight, high mounted on a glittering car,
459 From whose conspicuous crest flames wide a dazzling star.
460 "Psyche, escape! Ambition is at hand!"
461 The page exclaims: while swift as thought he flies;
462 She would have followed, but with parley bland
463 Lusinga soon her terrors pacifies.
464 "Fair nymph, ascend my car," the sovereign cries,
465 I will convey thee where thy wishes lead,
466 Haply the safest course I may advise
467 How thou thy journey mayst perform with speed;
468 For ne'er in woods to dwell such beauty was decreed. "
469 So gently urgent her consent they wooed
470 With much persuasion of the stranger knight,
471 That yielding Psyche now no more withstood,
472 But pointing out to her observant sight
473 The humble cot where she had passed the night,
474 She prayed her kind conductress there to turn,
475 And promised to herself what vast delight
476 Her wondering knight would feel at her return,
477 And with what blushing shame the timid page would burn.
478 But scarcely had she climbed the fatal car
479 When swifter than the wind the panthers flew,
480 The traversed plains and woods, receding far,
481 Soon shut from trembling Psyche's anxious view
482 The spot where she had left her guardian true;
483 With desperate efforts, all in vain she tries
484 To escape the ills which how too sure she knew
485 Must from her ill-placed confidence arise:
486 Betrayed — Ah! self-betrayed, a wretched sacrifice.
487 She strove to quit the car with sudden bound,
488 Ah, vain attempt! she now perceived too late
489 A thousand silken trammels, subtly wound
490 O'er her fair form, detained her as she sate:
491 Lost in despair she yields to her sad fate,
492 And silent, hears but with augmented fright
493 The queen describe her brother's splendid state,
494 Who now outstripped them by his rapid flight,
495 And prest his foaming steeds to gain the arduous
496 High o'er the spacious plain a mountain rose,
497 A stately castle on its summit stood:
498 Huge craggy cliffs behind their strength oppose
499 To the rough surges of the dashing flood;
500 The rocky shores a boldly rising wood
501 On either side conceals; bright shine the towers
502 And seem to smile upon the billows rude.
503 In front the eye, with comprehensive powers,
504 Sees wide extended plains enriched with splendid bowers.
505 Hither they bore the sad reluctant fair,
506 Who mounts with dizzy eye the awful steep;
507 The blazing structure seems high poised in air,
508 And its light pillars tremble o'er the deep:
509 As yet the heavens are calm, the tempests sleep,
510 She knows not half the horrors of her fate:
511 Nor feels the approaching ruin's whirlwind sweep:
512 Yet with ill-boding fears she past the gate,
513 And turned with sickening dread from scenes of gorgeous state.
514 In vain the haughty master of the hall
515 Invites her to partake his regal throne,
516 With cold indifference she looks on all
517 The gilded trophies, and the well-wrought stone
518 Which in triumphal arches proudly shone:
519 And as she casts around her timid eye,
520 Back to her knight her trembling heart is flown,
521 And many an anxious wish, and many a sigh
522 Invokes his gallant arm protection to supply.
523 Sudden the lurid heavens obscurely frown,
524 And sweeping gusts the coming storm proclaim;
525 Flattery's soft voice the howling tempests drown,
526 While the roofs catch the greedy lightning's flame.
527 Loud in their fears, the attendant train exclaim
528 The light built fabric ne'er can stand the blast,
529 And all its insecure foundations blame:
530 Tumultuously they rush: the chief aghast
531 Beholds his throne o'erturned, his train dispersing fast.
532 Psyche dismayed, yet thoughtful of escape,
533 In anxious silence to the portal prest;
534 And freedom would have hailed in any shape
535 Though seen in death's tremendous colours drest:
536 But ah! she feels the knight's strong grasp arrest
537 Her trembling steps. "Think not," he cries, "to fly
538 With yon false crowd who by my favours blest,
539 Can now desert me when with changeful eye
540 Inclement fortune frowns from yon dark angry sky."
541 While yet he spoke loud bursts the groaning hall,
542 With frightful peal the thundering domes resound,
543 Disjointed columns in wild ruin fall,
544 While the huge arches tremble to the ground.
545 Yet unappalled amid the crush is found
546 The daring chief: his hold he firm maintains
547 Though hideous devastation roars around;
548 Plunged headlong down his prey he still sustains,
549 Who in his powerful grasp in death-like swoon remains.
550 Down sinks the palace with its mighty lord,
551 Hurled from the awful steep with vehemence
552 Even to the floods below, which angry roared
553 And gaping wide received the weight immense:
554 Indignant still, with fearless confidence
555 He rose, high mounting o'er the heaving waves;
556 Against their rage one arm is his defence,
557 The other still his lovely burden saves,
558 Though strong the billows beat, and fierce the tempest raves.
559 The blazing star yet shone upon his brow,
560 And flamed triumphant o'er the dashing main;
561 He rides secure the watery waste, and now
562 The sheltering shore he might in safety gain;
563 The sheltering shore he shuns with proud disdain,
564 And breasts the adverse tide. Ah, rash resource!
565 Yon vessel, Prince, thou never shalt attain!
566 For plunging 'mid the deep, with generous force,
567 See where the lion's lord pursues thy hardy course!
568 Psyche a well known voice to life restores,
569 Once more her eyes unclosing view the light,
570 But not the waters, nor receding shores,
571 One only object can arrest her sight,
572 High o'er the flood she sees her valiant knight,
573 And sudden joy, and hopes scarce trusted cheer
574 Even in that awful moment's dread affright;
575 Her feeble cry indeed he cannot hear,
576 But sees her out-stretched arms, and seems already near.
577 In vain the giant knight exerts his strength;
578 Urged by the impetuous youth the lion prest,
579 And gaining fast upon his flight, at length
580 Prepared his daring progress to arrest,
581 And seized with furious jaw his struggling breast;
582 Gasping he loosed his hold — and Psyche lost
583 The o'erwhelming wave with ruin had opprest,
584 But Constance, ever near when needed most,
585 The sinking beauty caught and bore her to the coast.
586 Stung with the shame of the relinquished prey,
587 Mad with revenge, and hate, and conscious pride,
588 The knight, recovered from his short dismay,
589 Dashes resistless through the foaming tide;
590 The billows yielding to his arm divide,
591 As rushing on the youth he seeks the shore;
592 But now a combat strange on either side
593 Amid the waves begins; each hopes no more
594 The engulphing deep his foe shall e'er to light restore.
595 Beside the cold inhospitable lands
596 Where suns long absent dawn with lustre pale,
597 Thus on his bark the bold Biscayen stands,[*] [*]
The whale fishery, on the coast of Greenland, was first carried on by the sailors of the Bay of Biscay. See Goldsmith's Animated Nature, vol. vi.
598 And bids his javelin rouse the parent whale:
599 Fear, pain, and rage at once her breast assail,
600 The agitated ocean foams around
601 Lashed by the sounding fury of her tail,
602 Or as she mounts the surge with frightful bound,
603 Wide echoing to her cries the bellowing shores resound
604 Fierce was the contest, but at length subdued,
605 The youth exulting sees his giant foe.
606 With wonder still the enormous limbs he viewed
607 Which lifeless now the waves supporting show;
608 His starred helm, that now was first laid low,
609 He seized as trophy of the wonderous fight,
610 And bade the sparkling gem on Constance glow,
611 While Psyche's eyes, soft beaming with delight,
612 Through tears of grateful praise applaud her gallant knight.