I Where the wings of a sunny Dome expand I saw a Banner in gladsome air— Starry, like Berenice's Hair— Afloat in broadened bravery there; With undulating long-drawn flow, As rolled Brazilian billows go Voluminously o'er the Line. The Land reposed in peace below; The children in their glee Were folded to the exulting heart Of young Maternity. II Later, and it streamed in fight When tempest mingled with the fray, And over the spear-point of the shaft I saw the ambiguous lightning play. Valor with Valor strove, and died: Fierce was Despair, and cruel was Pride; And the lorn Mother speechless stood, Pale at the fury of her brood. III Yet later, and the silk did wind Her fair cold for; Little availed the shining shroud, Though ruddy in hue, to cheer or warm A watcher looked upon her low, and said— She sleeps, but sleeps, she is not dead. But in that sleep contortion showed The terror of the vision there— A silent vision unavowed, Revealing earth's foundation bare, And Gorgon in her hidden place. It was a thing of fear to see So foul a dream upon so fair a face, And the dreamer lying in that starry shroud. IV But from the trance she sudden broke— The trance, or death into promoted life; At her feet a shivered yoke, And in her aspect turned to heaven No trace of passion or of strife— A clear calm look. It spake of pain, But such as purifies from stain— Sharp pangs that never come again— And triumph repressed by knowledge meet, Power delicate, and hope grown wise, And youth matured for age's seat— Law on her brow and empire in her eyes. So she, with graver air and lifted flag; While the shadow, chased by light, Fled along the far-brawn height, And left her on the crag.
In a Bye-Canal
A swoon of noon, a trance of tide,
The hushed siesta brooding wide
Like calms far off Peru;
No floating wayfarer in sight,
Dumb noon, and haunted like the night
When Jael the wiled one slew.
A languid impulse from the oar
Plied by my indolent gondolier
Tinkles against a palace hoar,
And, hark, response I hear!
A lattice clicks; and lo, I see
Between the slats, mute summoning me,
What loveliest eyes of scintillation,
What basilisk glance of conjuration!
Fronted I have, part taken the span
Of portents in nature and peril in man.
I have swum—I have been
’Twixt the whale’s black flukes and the white shark’s fin;
The enemy’s desert have wandered in,
And there have turned, have turned and scanned,
Following me how noiselessly,
Envy and Slander, lepers hand in hand.
All this. But at the latticed eye—
“Hey! Gondolier, you sleep, my man;
Wake up!” And, shooting by, we ran;
The while I mused, This, surely now,
Confutes the Naturalists, allow!
Sirens, true sirens verily be,
Sirens, waylayers in the sea.
Well, wooed by these same deadly misses,
Is it shame to run?
No! flee them did divine Ulysses,
Brave, wise, and Venus’ son.