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“Shalt with thy life-blood pay the debt of both,”
And so drew sword, and on Euryalus
Was rushing. Then indeed, with terror mad,
Nisus shrieks wildly, nor can shroud himself
Longer in darkness, or such anguish bear:
“Here, here am I, the doer, on me, on me
Turn all your steel, O Rutules! Mine the fault,
Mine only: he nor dared, nor could have done it;
This heaven, these stars, be witness, that know all!
He only loved his hapless friend too well."
So spake he; but the sword, with strength driven home,
Has pierced the ribs, and rends the snowy breast.
Euryalus rolls in death; the blood runs o’er
His beauteous limbs, and on his shoulder sinks
The faint neck: as a bright flower, by the plow
Shorn through, droops dying, or poppies weary-necked,
By a chance shower o'er-weighted, bow the head.
But Nisus leaps amidst them, seeks through all
Volscens alone, for none but Volscens stays.
The foe, massed round him close on either side,
Beat him aback. Nathless he presses on,
And whirls his lightning blade, till, plunging it
Full in the shouting Rutule's face, he reft,
Dying, the foeman's life, then, pierced with wounds,
Flung him upon his lifeless friend, and there
At last lay pillowed calm in death's repose.

Ah! happy pair! if aught my verse avail,
No lapse of hours from time's recording page
Shall e’er erase you, while Æneas' house
Dwells on the Capitol's unshaken rock,
And the great Roman sire holds sovereignty.

Virgil

40

A DREAM OF FAIR WOMEN

I

READ, before my eyelids dropped their shade,

“The Legend of Good Women,” long ago Sung by the morning star of song, who made

His music heard below;

Dan Chaucer, the first warbler, whose sweet breath

Preluded those melodious bursts that fill The spacious times of great Elizabeth

With sounds that echo still.

And, for a while, the knowledge of his art

Held me above the subject, as strong gales Hold swollen clouds from raining, tho' my heart,

Brimful of those wild tales,

Charged both mine eyes with tears. In every land

I saw, wherever light illumineth,
Beauty and anguish walking hand in hand

The downward slope to death.

Those far-renowned brides of ancient song

Peopled the hollow dark, like burning stars, And I heard sounds of insult, shame, and wrong,

And trumpets blown for wars;

And clattering flints battered with clanging hoofs;

And I saw crowds in columned sanctuaries, And forms that passed at windows and on roofs Of marble palaces;

Corpses across the threshold, heroes tall

Dislodging pinnacle and parapet Upon the tortoise creeping to the wall, Letude ! anest

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And high shrine-doors burst thro' with heated blasts

That run before the fluttering tongues of fire; White surf wind-scattered over sails and masts,

And ever climbing higher;

Squadrons and squares of men in brazen plates,

Scaffolds, still sheets of water, divers woes, Ranges of glimmering vaults with iron grates,

And hushed seraglios.

So shape chased shape as swift as, when to land

Bluster the winds and tides the self-same way, Crisp foam-flakes scud along the level sand,

Torn from the fringe of spray.

I started once, or seemed to start in pain,

Resolved on noble things, and strove to speak, As when a great thought strikes along the brain

And flushes all the cheek.

And once my arm was lifted to hew down

A cavalier from off his saddle-bow, That bore a lady from a leaguered town;

And then, I know not how,

All those sharp fancies, by down-lapsing thought

Streamed onward, lost their edges, and did creep Rolled on each other, rounded, smoothed, and brought

Into the gulfs of sleep.

At last methought that I had wandered far

In an old wood; fresh-washed in coolest dew The maiden splendors of the morning star

Shook in the steadfast blue.

Enormous elm-tree boles did stoop and lean

Upon the dusky brushwood underneath
Their broad curved branches, fledged with clearest green,

New from its silken sheath.

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The dim red Morn had died, her journey done,

And with dead lips smiled at the twilight plain, Half-fallen across the threshold of the sun,

Never to rise again.

There was no motion in the dumb dead air,
Not

any song of bird or sound of rill; Gross darkness of the inner sepulcher

Is not so deadly still

As that wide forest. Growths of jasmine turned

Their humid arms festooning tree to tree, And at the root thro’ lush green grasses burned

The red anemone.

I knew the flowers, I knew the leaves, I knew

The tearful glimmer of the languid dawn
On those long, rank, dark wood-walks drenched in dew,

Leading from lawn to lawn.

The smell of violets, hidden in the green,

Poured back into my empty soul and frame The times when I remember to have been

Joyful and free from blame.

And from within me a clear undertone

Thrilled thro’mine ears in that unblissful clime, “Pass freely thro'; the wood is all thine own

Until the end of time.”

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At length I saw a lady within call,

Stiller than chiseled marble, standing there;
A daughter of the gods, divinely tall,

And most divinely fair.

Her loveliness with shame and with surprise

Froze my swift speech; she turning on my face
The star-like sorrows of immortal eyes,

Spoke slowly in her place:

“I had great beauty; ask thou not my name:

No one can be more wise than destiny.
Many drew swords and died. Where'er I came

I brought calamity.”

“No marvel, sovereign lady: in fair field

Myself for such a face had boldly died,”
I answered free; and turning I appealed

To one that stood beside:

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But she, with sick and scornful looks averse,

To her full height her stately stature draws:
“My youth,” she said, “was blasted with a curse:

This woman was the cause.

“I was cut off from hope in that sad place

Which men called Aulis in those iron years:
My father held his hand upon his face;

I, blinded with my tears,

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