XII. EROS AND PSYCHE.
’Love, I heard tell of thee so oft!
Yea, thrice my face and bosom flush’d with heat
Of sudden wings,
Through delicatest ether feathering soft
Their solitary beat.
Long did I muse what service or what charms
Might lure thee, blissful Bird, into mine arms;
And nets I made,
But not of the fit strings.
At last, of endless failure much afraid,
To-night I would do nothing but lie still,
And promise, wert thou once within my window-sill,
Thine unknown will.
In nets’ default,
Finch-like me seem’d thou might’st be ta’en with salt;
And here—and how thou mad’st me start!—
‘O Mortal, by Immortals’ cunning led,
Who shew’d you how for Gods to bait your bed?
Ah, Psyche, guess’d you nought
I craved but to be caught?
Wanton, it was not you,
But I that did so passionately sue;
And for your beauty, not unscath’d, I fought
With Hades, ere I own’d in you a thought!’
’O, heavenly Lover true,
Is this thy mouth upon my forehead press’d?
Are these thine arms about my bosom link’d?
Are these thy hands that tremble near my heart,
Where join two hearts, for juncture more distinct?
By thee and by my maiden zone caress’d,
What dim, waste tracts of life shine sudden, like moonbeams
On windless ocean shaken by sweet dreams!
Ah, stir not to depart!
Kiss me again, thy Wife and Virgin too!
O Love, that, like a rose,
Deckest my breast with beautiful repose,
Kiss me again, and clasp me round the heart,
Till fill’d with thee am I
As the cocoon is with the butterfly!
—Yet how ’scape quite
Nor pluck pure pleasure with profane delight?
How know I that my Love is what he seems!
Give me a sign
That, in the pitchy night,
Comes to my pillow an immortal Spouse,
And not a fiend, hiding with happy boughs
Of palm and asphodel
The pits of hell!’
I make the childless to keep joyful house.
Below your bosom, mortal Mistress mine,
Immortal by my kiss,
Leaps what sweet pain?
A fiend, my Psyche, comes with barren bliss,
A God’s embraces never are in vain.’
A life not mine within my golden zone.
’Tis easier grown
Thine arduous rule to don
Than for a Bride to put her bride-dress on!
Nay, rather, now
’Tis no more service to be borne serene,
Whither thou wilt, thy stormful wings between.
Can I endure
This flame, yet live for what thou lov’st me, pure?’
’Himself the God let blame
If all about him bursts to quenchless flame!
My Darling, know
Your spotless fairness is not match’d in snow,
But in the integrity of fire.
Whate’er you are, Sweet, I require.
A sorry God were he
That fewer claim’d than all Love’s mighty kingdoms three!’
’Much marvel I