The Sphinx is drowsy, The wings are furled; Her ear is heavy, She broods on the world. "Who'll tell me my secret, The ages have kept?-- I awaited the seer, While they slumbered and slept;-- "The fate of the man-child; The meaning of man; Known fruit of the unknown; Daedalian plan; Out of sleeping a waking, Out of waking a sleep; Life death overtaking; Deep underneath deep? "Erect as a sunbeam, Upspringeth the palm; The elephant browses, Undaunted and calm; In beautiful motion The thrush plies his wings; Kind leaves of his covert, Your silence he sings. "The waves, unashamed, In difference sweet, Play glad with the breezes, Old playfellows meet; The journeying atoms, Primordial wholes, Firmly draw, firmly drive, By their animate poles. "Sea, earth, air, sound, silence, Plant, quadruped, bird, By one music enchanted, One deity stirred,-- Each the other adorning, Accompany still; Night veileth the morning, The vapor the hill. "The babe by its mother Lies bathed in joy; Glide its hours uncounted,-- The sun is its toy; Shines the peace of all being, Without cloud, in its eyes; And the sum of the world In soft miniature lies. "But man crouches and blushes, Absconds and conceals; He creepeth and peepeth, He palters and steals; Infirm, melancholy, Jealous glancing around, An oaf, an accomplice, He poisons the ground. "Outspoke the great mother, Beholding his fear;-- At the sound of her accents Cold shuddered the sphere:-- 'Who has drugged my boy's cup? Who has mixed my boy's bread? Who, with sadness and madness, Has turned the man-child's head?'" I heard a poet answer, Aloud and cheerfully, "Say on, sweet Sphinx! thy dirges Are pleasant songs to me. Deep love lieth under These pictures of time; They fad in the light of Their meaning sublime. "The fiend that man harries Is love of the Best; Yawns the pit of the Dragon, Lit by rays from the Blest. The Lethe of nature Can't trace him again, Whose soul sees the perfect, Which his eyes seek in vain. "Profounder, profounder, Man's spirit must dive; To his aye-rolling orbit No goal will arrive; The heavens that now draw him With sweetness untold, Once found,--for new heavens He spurneth the old. "Pride ruined the angels, Their shame them restores; And the joy that is sweetest Lurks in stings of remorse. Have I a lover Who is noble and free?-- I would he were nobler Than to love me. "Eterne alternation Now follows, now flied; And under pain, pleasure,-- Under pleasure, pain lies. Love works at the centre, Heart-heaving alway; Forth speed the strong pulses To the borders of day. "Dull Sphinx, Jove keep thy five wits! Thy sight is growing blear; Rue, myrrh, and cummin for the Sphinx-- Her muddy eyes to clear!"-- The old Sphinx bit her thick lip,-- Said, "Who taught thee me to name? I am thy spirit, yoke-fellow, Of thine eye I am eyebeam. "Thou art the unanswered question; Couldst see they proper eye, Alway it asketh, asketh; And each answer is a lie. So take thy quest through nature, It through thousand natures ply; Ask on, thou clothed eternity; Time is the false reply." Uprose the merry Sphinx, And crouched no more in stone; She melted into purple cloud, She silvered in the moon; She spired into a yellow flame; She flowered in blossoms red; She flowed into a foaming wave; She stood Monadnoc's head. Through a thousand voices Spoke the universal dame: "Who telleth one of my meanings, Is master of all I am."
Thee, dear friend, a brother soothes,
Not with flatteries, but truths,
Which tarnish not, but purify
To light which dims the morning's eye.
I have come from the spring-woods,
From the fragrant solitudes;
Listen what the poplar tree,
And murmuring waters counselled me.
If with love thy heart has burned,
If thy love is unreturned,
Hide thy grief within thy breast,
Though it tear thee unexpressed.
For, when love has once departed
From the eyes of the false-hearted,
And one by one has torn off quite
The bandages of purple light,
Though thou weft the loveliest
Form the Soul had ever drest,
Thou shalt seem in each reply
A vixen to his altered eye;
Thy softest pleadings seem too bold,
Thy praying lute shall seem to scold.
Though thou kept the straightest road,
Yet thou errest far and broad.
But thou shalt do as do the gods
In their cloudless periods:
For of this lore be thou sure,
Though thou forget, the gods secure
Forget never their command,
But make the statute of this land:
As they lead, so follow all,
Ever have done, ever shall.
Warning to the blind and deaf,
'Tis written on the iron leaf,
Who drinks of Cupid's nectar cup
Loveth downward and not up;
Therefore who loves, of gods or men,
Shall not by the same be loved again;
His sweetheart's idolatry
Falls in turn a new degree.
When a god is once beguiled
By beauty of a mortal child,
And by her radiant youth delighted,
He is not fooled, but warily knoweth,
His love shall never be requited;
And thus the wise Immortal doeth.
'Tis his study and delight
To bless that creature, day and night,
From all evils to defend her,
In her lap to pour all splendor,
To ransack earth for riches rare,
And fetch her stars to deck her hair;
He mixes music with her thoughts,
And saddens her with heavenly doubts;
All grace, all good his great heart knows,
Profuse in love the king bestows,
Saying, Hearken, Earth! Sea! Air!
This monument of my despair
Build I to the All-Good, All-Fair.
Not for a private good,
But I from my beatitude,
Albeit scorned as none was scorned,
Adorn her as was none adorned.
I make this maiden an ensample
To nature through her kingdoms ample,
Whereby to model newer races,
Statelier forms, and fairer faces,
To carry man to new degrees
Of power, and of comeliness.
These presents be the hostages
Which I pawn for my release;
See to thyself, O universe!
Thou art better and not worse. —
And the god having given all,
Is freed forever from his thrall.