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To the tolling of the bells
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells —
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells !
When Music, heavenly maid! was young,
While yet in early Greece she sung,
The Passions oft, to hear her shell,
Thronged around her magic cell ;
Exulting, trembling, raging, fainting,
Possessed beyond the Muse's painting ;
By turns they felt the glowing mind
Disturb’d, delighted, raised, refined ;
Till once, 't is said, when all were fired,
Fill’d with fury, rapt, inspired,
From the supporting myrtles round
They snatched her instruments of sound;
And as they oft had heard apart
Sweet lessons of her forceful art,
Each, for madness ruled the hour,
Would prove his own expressive power.
First, Fear, his hand, its skill to try,
Amid the chords, bewilder'd laid,
And back recoil’d, he knew not why,
E’en at the sound himself had made.
Next, Anger rush’d, his eyes on fire,
In lightnings own’d his secret stings ;
In one rude clash he struck the lyre,
And swept, with hurried hand, the stringe.
But thou, Oh Hope! with eyes so fair,
What was thy delighted measure ?
Still it whispered promised pleasure,
And bade the lovely scene at distance hail!
Still would her touch the strain prolong;
And, from the rocks, the woods, the vale,
She call’d on Echo still through all the song ;
And, where her sweetest theme she chose,
A soft, responsive voice was heard at every close;
And Hope enchanted smiled, and waved her golden hair.
And longer had she sung, but, with a frown,
Revenge impatient rose ;
He threw his blood-stained sword in thunder down,
And with a withering look,
The war-denouncing trumpet took,
And blew a blast so loud and dread,
Were ne'er prophetic sounds so full of woe;
And ever and anon he heat
The doubling drum, with furious heat;
And though, sometimes, each dreary pause between,
Dejected Pity at his side
Her soul-subduing voice applied,
Yet still he kept his wild, unalter'd mien, While each strain’d ball of sight seem'd bursting from his head.
Thy numbers, Jealousy, to nought were fix'd;
Sad proof of thy distressful state;
Of differing themes the veering song was mix'd,
And now it courted Love, now raving call’d on Hate.
With eyes upraised, as one inspired,
Pale Melancholy sat retired,
And from her wild, sequestered seat,
In notes by distance made more sweet,
Pour'd through the mellow horn her pensive soul;
And clashing soft from rocks around,
Bubbling runnels join’d the sound;
Through glades and glooms the mingled measure stole;
Or o’er some haunted streams, with fond delay,
Round a holy calm diffusing,
Love of peace, and lonely musing,
In hollow murmurs died away.
But, oh! how alter'd was its sprightlier tone,
When Cheerfulness, a nymph of healthiest hue,
Her bow across her shoulder flung,
Her buskins gemm’d with morning dew,
Blew an inspiring air, that dale and thicket rung,
The hunter's call, to Faun and Dryad known;
The oak-crowned sisters, and their chaste-eyed queen,
Satyrs and sylvan boys, were seen
Peeping from forth their alleys green;
Brown Exercise rejoiced to hear,
And Sport leapt up, and seized his beechen spear.
Last came Joy's ecstatic trial;
He, with viny crown advancing,
First to the lively pipe his hand addressed ;
But soon he saw the brisk, awakening viol,
Whose sweet entrancing voice he loved the best.
They would have thought, who heard the strain,
They saw, in Tempe's vale, her native maids,
Amidst the festal sounding shades,
To some unwearied minstrel dancing ;
While, as his flying fingers kiss'd the strings,
Love framed with Mirth, a gay fantastic round :
Loose were her tresses seen, her zone unbound;
And he, amidst his frolic play,
As if he would the charming air repay,
Shook thousand odors from his dewy wings.
I waited for the train at Coventry ;
I hung with grooms and porters on the bridge,
To watch the three tall spires; and there I shaped
The city's ancient legend into this :
Not only we, the latest seed of Time,
New men, that in the flying of a wheel
Cry down the past, not only we, that prate
Of rights and wrongs, have loved the people well,
And loathed to see them overtaxed; but she
Did more, and underwent, and overcame,
The woman of a thousand summers back,
Godiva, wife to that grim Earl, who ruled
In Coventry: for when he laid a tax
Upon his town, and all the mothers brought
Their children, clamoring, “If we pay, we starve !
She sought her lord, and found him, where he strode
About the hall, among his dogs, alone,
His beard a foot before him, and his hair
A yard behind. She told him of their tears,
And prayed him, “If they pay this tax, they starve."
Whereat he stared, replying half-amazed,
“You would not let your little finger ache
For such as these ?" “ But I would die,” said she..
He laughed, and swore by Peter and by Paul :
Then filliped at the diamond in her ear;
“O ay, ay, ay, you talk!” - “Alas!” she said,
“ But prove me what it is I would not do.”
And from a heart as rough as Esau's hand,
He answer’d, “Ride you naked through the town,
And I repeal it ;” and nodding, as in scorn,
He parted, with great strides among his dogs.
So left alone, the passions of her mind,
As winds from all the compass shift and blow,
Made war upon each other for an hour,
Till pity won. She sent a herald forth,
And bade him cry, with sound of trumpet, all
The hard condition ; but that she would loose
The people: therefore, as they loved her well,
From then till noon no foot should pace the street,
No eye look down, she passing; but that all
Should keep within, door shut, and window barred.
Then fled she to her inmost bower, and there
Unclasped the wedded eagles of her belt,
The grim Earl's gift; but ever at a breath
She lingered, looking like a summer moon
Half-dipt in cloud: anon she shook her head,
And showered the rippled ringlets to her knee;
Unclad herself in haste; adown the stair
Stole on; and, like a creeping sunbeam, slid
From pillar unto pillar, until she reached
The gateway; there she found her palfrey trapt
In purple blazoned with armorial gold.
Then she rode forth, clothed on with chastity:
The deep air listened round her as she rode,
And all the low wind hardly breathed for fear.
The little wide-mouthed heads upon the spout
Had cunning eyes to see: the barking cur
Made her cheek flame: her palfrey's footfall shot
Light horrors through her pulses: the blind walls
Were full of chinks and holes; and overhead
Fantastic gables, crowding, stared: but she
Not less through all bore up, till, last, she saw
The white-flowered elder thicket from the field
Gleam through the Gothic archways in the wall.
Then she rode back, clothed on with chastity:
And one low churl, compact of thankless earth,
The fatal by word of all years to come,
Boring a little auger-hole in fear,
Peeped – but his eyes, before they had their will,
Were shrivelled into darkness in his head,
And dropt before him. So the Powers, who wait
On noble deeds, cancelled a sense misused;
And she, that knew not, passed : and all at once,
With twelve great shocks of sound, the shameless noon
Was clashed and hammered from a hundred towers,
One after one: but even then she gained
Her bower; whence reissuing, robed and crowned,
To meet her lord, she took the tax away,
And built herself an everlasting name.
EXTRACT FROM “THE PRINCESS.”
The woman's cause is man's: they rise or sink
Together, dwarfed or godlike, bond or free:
For she that out of Lethe scales with man
The shining steps of Nature, shares with man
His nights, his days, moves with him to one goal,
Stays all the fair young planet in her hands
If she be small, slight-natured, miserable,
How shall men grow ? but work no more alone!
Our place is much: as far as in us lies
We two will serve them both in aiding her -
Will clear away the parasitic forms
That seem to keep her up, but drag her down –
Will leave her space to burgeon out of all
Within her - let her make herself her own
To give or keep, to live and learn and be
All that not harms distinctive womanhood.
For woman is not undeveloped man,
But diverse : could we make her as the man,
Sweet love were slain : his dearest bond is this,
Not like to like, but like in difference.