The Tale of Archais - The Collected Works of Aleister Crowley, Vol I

 

THE TALE OF ARCHAIS.

A ROMANCE IN VERSE.

1898.

TO

THE WHITE MAIDENS OF ENGLAND

THIS TALE OF GREECE IS DEDICATED.

 

THE AUTHOR'S BALLADE OF
HIS TALE.

Go to the woodlands, English maid,

Or where the downs to seaward bend,

When autumn is in gold arrayed,

Or spring is green, or winters send

A frosty sun, or summers blend

Their flowers in every dainty dye,

And take, as you would take a friend,

This pleasant tale of Thessaly.

Lie on the greensward, while the shade

Shortens as morning doth ascend

The gates of Heaven, and bud and blade

Laugh at the dawn, while breezes lend

Their music, till you comprehend

The meaning of the world, and sigh –

Yet love makes happy in the end

This pleasant tale of Thessaly.

Turn from my book, the poet prayed,

And look to Heaven, an hour to spend

Before His throne who spake and bade

The fountains of the deep descend

And bade the earth uproot and rend

To pitch like tents the mountains high,

And gave him language who hath penned

This pleasant tale of Thessaly.

ENVOI.

Fair maiden, who hast rightly weighed

The message of the morning sky,

Think kindly of the man who made

This pleasant tale of Thessaly. {7A}

THE TALE OF ARCHAIS.

PART I.

SHE lay within the water, and the sun

Made golden with his pleasure every one

Of small cool ripples that surrounded her throat,

Mix with her curls, and catch the hands that float

Like water-lilies on the wave; she lay

And watched the silver fishes leap and play,

And almost slept upon the soughing breast

That murmured gentle melodies of rest,

And touched her tiny ear, and made her dream

Of sunny woods above the sacred stream

Where she abode (her home was cool and dark

That no small glow-worm with his tender spark

Might lighten till the moon was down, a nook

Far from the cool enticements of the brook,

And hidden in the boskage close and green.)

So dreamed she, smiling like a faery queen;

So the bright feet and forehead of the breeze

Lured her to sleep, and shook the morning trees

Clear of the dewfall, and disturbed the grass,

So that no rustle, should a serpent pass,

Might rouse her reverie. So then, behold,

Chance leant from Heaven with feet and face of gold,

And hid the iron of her body bare

With such warm cloudlets as the morning air {7B}

Makes to conceal the fading of the stars:

Chance bowed herself across the sunny bars,

And watched where through the silence of the lawn

Came Charicles, the darling of the dawn,

Slowly, and to his steps took little heed;

He came towards the pool, his god-wrought reed

Shrilling dim visions of things glorious,

And saw the maiden, that disported thus,

And worshipped. Then in doubt he stood, grown white

And wonderful, with passion's perfect might

Firing his veins and tinging in his brain,

He stood and whitened, and waxed red again.

His oat1 unheeded glanced beneath the wave,

His eyes grew bright and burning, his lips clave –

A sudden cry broke from him: from the height

His swift young body, like a ray of light,

Divides the air, a moment, and the pool

Flings up the spray like dew, divinely cool:

A moment, and he flashed towards her side

And caught her trembling, as a tender bride

At the first kiss; he caught her, and compelled

Her answer, in his arms securely held.

And she no word might say; her red lips quailed,

Her perfect eyelids drooped, her warm cheek paled,

A tear stole over it. His lips repent

With vain weak words – O iron firmament!

How vain, how cold are words! – his lips repeat

Their faint sweet savour, but her rosy feet

Held in his hands and touched with reverent lips

Revived her soul more perfectly. Soon slips

Her gentle answer; now her timid eyes

So tender with the lifted lashes rise

To meet his gaze.

He spoke: "Have pity on me

Who wronged thee for my perfect love of thee, {8A}

My perfect love, O love! for strange and dread

Delights consume me; I am as one dead

Beating at Heaven's gate with nerveless wing,

Wailing because the song the immortals sing

Is so fast barred behind the iron sky.

Speak but thine anger quickly; let me die!"

"But I forgive thee, thou art good and kind."

"O love! O love! O mistress of my mind,

You love me!" "Nay, I was a while afraid,

Being so white and tender; for a maid

I lived alone with flower and brook, nor guessed

Another dwelt within the quiet nest

That these woods build me; hold my trembling hand,

Teach me to love; I do not understand."

He clasped her to him, but no word might say,

And led her from the pool a little way,

And there he laid her on the flowery mead,

And watched her weeping. His forgotten reed

Floated away, a ship for fairy folk,

Along the limpid rivulet. Then broke

From smitten heart and ravished lips the tongue

Of fire that clad its essence with the robe of song.

 

SONG OF CHARICLES.

MAN'S days are dim, his deeds are dust,

His span is but a little space,

He lusts to live, he lives to lust,

His soul is barren of love or trust,

His heart is hopeless, seeing he must

Perish, and leave no trace;

With impious rage he mocks the bounds

Of earth, albeit so wholly base;

His ears are dead to subtle sounds,

His eyes are blind, for Zeus confounds

His vain irreverence, and astounds

High Heaven with wrathful face. {8B}

But I am born of gods, and turn

My eyes to thee, thyself divine.

My vigorous heart and spirit yearn

With love, my cheeks with passion burn –

As thy clear eyes may well discern

By gazing into mine.

Thy heart is cool, thy cheeks are pale,

Nor blush with shame like winter wine

To understand my amorous tale,

For words and looks of Love must fail

To touch thee, since a snowy veil

Is 'twixt my mind and thine.

Dear goddess, at whose early breast

I drank in all desires and woes;

Most reverend god, who oft caressed

Her pale chaste wifehood, and who pressed

Upon my forehead kisses blest;

Bid blossom out this rose,

This fair white bud whose heart is pure,

Whose bosom fears not, neither knows

The long vague mysteries that endure

Of life uncertain, of love sure.

Teach her the mystic overture

To Love's transcendant throes.

He ceased: but out of Heaven no sound of might,

No tongue of flame gave answer. Still as night,

Silence and sunlight, stream and mead, possessed

The whole wide world. The maid's reluctant breast

Heaved with soft passion nowise understood,

And her pulse quickened. Through the quiet wood

Her answer rang: "My voice with thine shall break

The woodland stillness, for the fountain's sake.

I'll sing to thee – Lamia! mother, I obey!"

In vain the desperate boy pursued the way

With awful eyes; no bruised flower betrayed

The tender footsteps of a goddess maid;

No butterfly flew frightened; on the pool

No ripple spoke of her; the streamlet cool {9A}

Had no small wreath of amber mist to mark

Her flight; she was not there, the silver spark

Had flashed and faded; all the field was bare,

No wave of wing bestirred the sultry air,

Save only where the noontide lark rose high

To chant his liberty. The vaulted sky

Was one blue cupola of rare turquoise

That shimmered with the heat.

His pulses pause

For his despair ineffable. Her name

He called; she was not, and the piercing flame

Of love struck through him, till his tortured mind

Drove his young limbs, the wolf that hunts the hind,

Far through the forest. Lastly sleep, like death,

With strong compulsion of his labouring breath

Came on him dreamless.

When he woke, the day

Stooped toward the splendour of the western bay,

And he remembered. Like a wild bird's cry

The song within him flamed, a melody

Dreadful and beautiful. The sad sea heard

And echoed over earth its bitter word.

 

SONG.

Ere the grape of joy is golden

With the summer and the sun,

Ere the maidens unbeholden

Gather one by one,

To the vineyard comes the shower,

No sweet rain to fresh the flower.

But the thunder rain that cleaves,

Rends and ruins tender leaves.

Ere the wine of perfect pleasure

From a perfect chalice poured,

Swells the veins with such a measure

As the garden's lord

Makes his votaries dance to, death

Draws with soft delicious breath

To the maiden and the man.

Love and life are both a span. {9B}

Ere the crimson lips have planted

Paler roses, warmer grapes,

Ere the maiden breasts have panted,

And the sunny shapes

Flit around to bless the hour,

Comes men know not what false flower:

Ere the cup is drained, the wine

Grows unsweet, that was divine.

All the subtle airs are proven

False at dewfall, at the dawn

Sin and sorrow, interwoven,

Like a veil are drawn

Over love and all delight;

Grey desires invade the white.

Love and life are but a span;

Woe is me! and woe is man!

The sound stood trembling in the forest dim

Lingering a little, yet there taketh him

A strong man's one short moment of despair.

He fell, the last of Titans, his loose hair

Tangled in roses; while his heart and mind

Broken and yet imperishable, blind,

Hateful, desire they know not what, and turn

Lastly to pray for death; his wild eyes burn,

And bitter tears divide his doubtful breath.

So grew his anguish to accomplish death,

Had not the goddess with the rosy shoon2

Stoop'd o'er the silver surface of the moon

To touch his brow with slumber, like a kiss

Whose dreams perfused the name of Archais,

Till the sweet odour dulled his brain, and sleep

Loosened his limbs, most dreamless and most deep.

The mosses serve him for a bed; the trees

Wave in the moonlight, daughters of the breeze;

Hardly the pleasant waters seem to shake,

And only nightingales, for slumber's sake,

Lull the soft stars and seas, and matchless music make.

And now the sun is risen above the deep;

The mists pass slowly on the uplands steep;

Far snows are luminous with rosy flecks

Of lambent light, and shadow tints and decks {10A}

Their distant hollows with black radiance,

While the delivered fountains flash and glance

Adown the hills and through the woods of pine

And stately larch, with cadences divine

And trills and melodies instinct with light and wine.

The sun, arising, sees the sleeping youth

And lumes his locks with evanescent gold,

While birds and breezes, watching, hold them mute,

And light an silence, the twin-born of truth,

Reign o‘er the meadow, and possess the wold.

The poet bows his head, and lays aside his lute.

 

PART II.

WHEN God bethought Him, and the world began,

He made moist clay, and breathed on it, that man

Might be most frail and feeble, and like earth

Shrink at Death's finger from the hour of birth;

And like the sea by limits of pale sand

Be utterly confined; but so He planned

To vivify the body with the soul,

That fire and air were wedded to control

The heavy bulk beneath them, so His breath

Touched the warm clay and violated death,

Gave to the spirit wings and bade it rise

To seek its Maker with aspiring eyes,

Gave to the body strength to hold awhile

The spirit, till the passions that defile

Should waste and wither, and the free soul soar.

But evil lusted with the soul, and bore

A thousand children deadlier than death;

The sin that enters with the eager breath

Of perfect love; the sin that seeks it home

In lights and longings frailer than the foam;

The sin that loves the hollows of the night,

The sin that fears; the sin that hates the light;

The sin that looks with wistful eyes; the sin

That trembles on the olive of the skin; {10B}

The sin that slumbers; these divide the day

And all the darkness, and deceive, and slay.

And these regather in the womb of hell

To marry and increase, and by the spell

Of their own wickedness discover sin

Unguessed at, but slow treason creeping in,

To spread corruption, and destroy the earth.

But in the holy hour and happy birth

That swam through stars propitious, meadows white,

And fresh with newer flowers of the night

In the pale fields supernal, when his sire

Took from the nurse the child of his desire,

A man, the prayers of many maidens sent

So sweet a savour through the firmament

That no false spirit might draw nigh. And still

His angel ministers defend from ill

The head they nurtured. Evil dreams and spells,

Cast at the dimmest hour, the sword repels

And drives them down the steep of Hell. But dim

Sweet faces of dead maidens drew to him;

Quiet woods and streams and all the mountains tall,

Cool valleys, silver-streaked with waterfall,

Came in his slumbers, chaste and musical,

While through their maze his mind beheld afar

Dim and divine, Archais, like a star.

It was no dream, or else the growing dawn

Deepened the glory of the misted lawn,

For to his eyes, half open now, there seems

A figure, fairer than his dearest dreams.

He sprang, he caught her to his breast, the maid

Smiled and lay back to look at him. He laid

Her tender body on the sloping field,

And felt her sighs in his embraces yield

A sweeter music than all birds. But she,

Lost in the love she might not know, may see

No further than his face, and yet, aware

Of her own fate, resisted like a snare {11A}

Her own soft wishes. As she looked and saw

His eager face, the iron rod of law

Grew like a misty pillar in the sky.

In all her veins the blood's desires die,

And then – O sudden ardour! – all her mind

And memory faded, and looked outward, blind,

Beyond their bitterness. Her arms she flung

Around him, and with amorous lips and tongue

Tortured his palate with extreme desire,

And like a Maenad maddened; equal fire

Leapt in his veins; locked close for love they lie,

The heart's dumb word exprest without a sigh

In the strong magic of a lover's kiss,

And the twin light of love; but Archais

Felt through her blood a sudden chill; her face

Blanched and besought a moment's breathing space;

Her heart's desire welled up, and then again

Whitened her cheeks with the exceeding pain

Of uttermost despair. At last her strength

Failed, and she flung her weary body at length

Amid the bruised flowers; while from her eyes

Surged the salt tears; low moans she multiplies

Because her love is blasphemous; the wind

Signs for all answer, sobs and wails behind

Among the trees; the streams grows deadly pale

Hearing her weep, and like a silver sail

The fading moon drifts sorrowful above.

Then Charicles must ask his weeping love

To lead him to the fountain of her tears.

But she, possessed by vague and violent fears,

Spake not a little while, and then began:

"O thou, a child of Heaven, and a man,

Even so my lover, shall my woeful song

So move thy spirit for my bitter wrong

(Got-nurtured through thou be) against the rods

Laid on me by my mother, whom the gods {11B}

Righteous in anger, doomed, for fiery sin

Kindled by hell-flames, cherished within

Her lustful heart, for sin most damnable,

To suffer torment in remotest hell,

Where the grim fiend grinds down with fiery stones

The unrepentant marrow of men's bones,

Or chills their blood with poisonous vials of death,

Or dooms them to the tooth and venomous breath

Of foul black worms; and on the earth to dwell

For long space, and there (most terrible!)

To change her shape at times, and on her take

The fierce presentment of a loathly snake to the3

To wander curst and lonely through the dire black brake.

And this thing is my mother, whose foul tomb

Is a black serpent, spotted with the gloom

Of venomous red flecks, and poisonous sweat,

While on her flat lewd head the mark is set

Of utter loathsomeness; and I, her child

Born of incestuous lust, and sore defiled

With evil parentage, am now (Most just

Unpitying Zeus!) condemned with her, I must

The hated semblance of a serpent wear

When noon rides forth upon the crystal air."

While yet she spake, the dwindling shadow ran

Beneath the feet of Charicles, the wan

Waste water glinted free, and to the deep

Cool pebbles did the kiss of sunshine creep;

The busy lark forgot for joy to sing,

And all the woods with fairy voices ring;

The hills in dreamy langour seem to swoon

Through the blue haze! behold, the hour of noon!

And lo! there came to pass the dreadful fate

Her lips had shuddered out her pulses bate

Their quick sweet movement; on the ground she lies

Struggling, and rending Heaven with her cries. {12A}

Like light, in one convulsive pang the snake

Leapt in the sunlight, and its body brake

With glistening scales that golden skin of hers,

And writing with pure shame, the long grass whirrs

With her sharp flight of fury and despair.

Then Charicles at last became aware

Of the fell death that had him by the throat

To mar his music; like one blind he smote

The quivering air with cries of sorrow; then,

Disdaining fear and sorrow, cried to men

And gods to help him; then, resolved to dare

All wrath and justice, he rose up to swear

(Lifting his right hand to the sky, that glowed

Deadly vermilion, like the poisonous toad

That darts an angry red from out its eye,)

By sword and spear, by maze and mystery,

By Zeus' high house, and by his godhead great,

By his own soul, no ardour to abate

Until he freed Archais. Like a star

Rebellious, thrust beyond the morning's bar,

Erect, sublime, he swore so fierce an oath

That the sea flashed with blasphemy, and loath

Black thunder broke from out the shuddering deep.

He swore again, and from its century's sleep

Earthquake arose, and rocked and raved and roared.

He swore the third time. But that Heaven's Lord

Curbed their black wrath, the stars of Heaven's vault

Had rushed to whelm the sun with vehement assault.

The heavens stood still, but o'er the quaking earth,

That groaned and shrank with the untimely birth

Of fury and freedom, Charicles strode on

With fervid foot, to Aphrodite's throne

In seagirt Paphos, to exact her aid –

The sun stood still, creation grew afraid

At his firm step and mien erect and undismayed. {12B}

Strident the godlike hero called aloud

Blaspheming, while that sombre bank of cloud

Witnessed the wrath of Zeus; the thunder broke

From purple flashes vanished into smoke

That rolled unceasingly through heaven; the youth

Cried out against high Zeus, "The cause of Truth,

Freedom, and Justice!" and withal strode on

To the vast margin of the waters wan

That barred him from his goal; his cloak he stripped,

Then in the waves his sudden body dipped

And with his strenuous hands the emerald water gripped.

Long had he struggled (for Poseidon's hand

Heaped foam against him) toward the seemly strand,

But that Love's Mother,4 journeying from Rome,

Passed in her car the swimmer, while her home

Scarce yet was glimmering o'er the waste wide sea

Against whose wrath he strove so silently;

Whom now beholding, checked her eager team,

Dipped to the foam from which she sprang whose gleam

Bore the sweet mirage of her eyes, and bent

Over the weary Charicles. Content

With him she spake, and he, still buffeting

The waves, looked never up, but with the swing

Of strong fierce limbs, clove through the water gray.

Hearing her voice, he answered, "Ere the day

Has fallen from his pinnacle must I

Reach sea-girt Paphos, with a bitter cry

To clasp the knees of Cytherea, and pray

That she will aid me." Then the billows lay {13A}

Fondly quiescent while she answered him:

"Yea, are thine eyes with weeping grown so dim

Thou canst not see who hovers over thee?

For I am she thou seekest. Come with me

And tell me all thy grief; thy prayer is heard

Before thy spirit clothes in wintry word

The fire it throbs with." So her eager doves

Waited. From seas grown calm the wanton loves

Lifted the hero to the pearly car,

Whose floor was azure and whose front a star

Set in seven jewels girt with ivory.

Then the light rein the goddess left to lie

Unheeded, and the birds flew on apace,

Until the glint and glory of the place

Grew o'er the blue dim line of ocean.

It was a temple never built of man,

Being of marble white, and all unhewn,

Above a cliff, about whose base were strewn

Boulders of amethyst or malachite.

Save these the cliffs rose sheer, a dazzling white,

Six hundred feet from ocean; so divine

Was the tall precipice, that from the shrine

A child might fling a stone and splash it in the brine.

Within whose silver courts and lily bowers

The Queen of Love led Charicles; white flowers

Blushed everywhere to scarlet, as her feet,

Themselves more white, did touch them. On a seat

White with strewn rose, and leaves of silver birch,

Remote from courts profane, and vulgar search,

They rested, till the hero's tale was told.

Then Aphrodite loosed a snake of gold

From her arm's whiteness, and upon his wrist

Clasped it. Its glittering eyes of amethyst

Fascinate him. "Even so," the goddess cried,

"I will bind on thy arm the serpent bride {13A}

Free from her fate, and promise by this kiss

The warmer kisses of thy Archais."

She spake, and on his brow, betwixt her hands

Pressed softly, as a maid in bridal bands,

Kissed him a mother's kiss. Then Charicles

Gave her due thanks, and bent his ear to seize

Here further words. And she: "Not many days

Shall flame and flicker into darkened ways

Before the wings of night, ere Hermes fly

Hither, the messenger of Zeus. But I

Bid thee remain beneath the temple gate

While I consider our war on Fate.

Till then, and I will tell thee everything

That thou must do; but now let song take wing

Till the pale air swoon with the deep delight

That makes cool noontide from the sultry night.

What are your dreams, my maidens? Your young dreams?

Are they of passion, or of rocks and streams,

Of purple mountains, clad about with green,

Or do their lamps grow dim in the unseen?

Sing to his hero; sing, lure slumber to your queen."

 

SONG OF APHRODITE'S HANDMAIDENS.

My dreams are sweet, because my heart is free,

Because our locks still mingle and lips meet,

Because thine arms still hold me tenderly,

My dreams are sweet.

Visions of waters rippling by my feet,

Trees that re-weave their branches lovingly,

Birds that pass passionate on pinions fleet:

Such quiet joys my eyes in slumber see –

Let death's keen sickle wander through the wheat!

I love not life o'ermuch; since loving thee

My dreams are sweet. {14A}

Sing, little bird, it is dawn;

Cry! with the day the woods ring;

Now in the blush of the morn

Sing!

Love doth enchain me and cling,

Love, of the breeze that is born,

Love, with the breeze that takes wing.

Love that is lighter than scorn,

Love, that is strong as a king,

Love, through the gate that is horn,5

Sing!

Then Charicles rejoicing quickly ran

And chose a lyre, and thus his song began

Rippling through melodies unheard of man.

 

SONG OF CHARICLES.

Wake, fairy maid, for the day

Blushes our curtain to shake;

Summer and blossoms of May

Wake!

Lilies drink light on the lake,

Laughter drives dreamland away,

Kisses shall woo thee, and slake

Passion with amorous play,

Clip thee and love, for Love's sake.

Wake and caress me, I pray,

Wake!

Snow-hills and streams, dew-diamonded,

Call us from silvery dreams

To where the morning kindles red

Snow-hills and streams.

See, breezes whisper, sunlight gleams

With gentle kissings; flowers shed

Pale scents, the whole sweet meadow steams.

Forth, glittering shoulders, golden head,

And tune our lutes to tender themes

Among the lost loves of the dead,

Snow-hills and streams. {14A}

The queen clapped dainty hands, caressed of dew,

And bade the love-lorn wanderer sing anew.

His muse came trembling, soon through starry air it flew.

 

SONG OF CHARICLES.

Within the forest gloom

There lies a lover's bower,

A lotus-flower

In bloom.

O lotus-flower too white,

Starred purple, round and sweet,

Rich golden wheat

Of night!

I'll kiss thee, lotus-flower,

I'll pluck thee, yellow grain,

Once and again

This hour.

There coos a dove to me

Across the waves of space;

O passionate face

To see!

I'll woo thee, silver dove,

Caress thee, lotus-flower;

It is the hour

Of Love.

Cypris blushed deep; albeit for love did swoon

At the song's sweetness, while the cold dead moon

Was still and pale; her nymphs are fain to sigh

With sudden longing filled, and like to die

For vain delight,for still across the sea

Stole sensuous breaths of Sapphic melody

From the far strand of Lesbos; then there came

Into their eyes a new and awful flame

Suddenly burning; now upon the beach

The waves kept tune in unexpressive speech

As sad voice drew night; the hero shrank

Like one in awe; the flame shot up and sank {15A}

From the crimson-vestured altar; then the song

Found in the wavering breeze from over sea a tongue.

Here, on the crimson stand of blood-red waters,

We, Cypris, not thy daughters,

Clad in bright flame, filled with unholy wine,

O Cypris, none of thine! –

Here, kissing in the dim red dusk, we linger,

Striking with amorous finger

Our lyres, whose fierce delights are all divine –

O Cypris, none of thine!

Quenchless, insatiable, the unholy fire

Floods our red lips' desire;

Our kisses sting, as barren as the brine –

O Cypris, none of thine!

Our songs are awful, that the heavens shrink back

Into their void of black.

We worship at a sad insatiate shrine –

O Cypris, none of thine!

Scarcely the song did cease when out of heaven

A little cloud grew near, all thunder-riven,

Scarred by the lightning, torn of ravaging wind;

Upon it sate the herald, who should find

The home of Aphrodite, and should bring

A message from high Zeus. The mighty king

Had bidden him to speed. His wings drew nigh

And hushed the last faint echoed melody

With silver waving. As the messenger

Of mighty Zeus descending unto her

He stood before her, and called loud her name,

Wrapped in a cloud of amber-scented flame

Befitting his high office; but his word,

Too terrible for mortals, passed unheard {15A}

To Cypris' ear alone. She bowed her head

And bade her nymphs prepare a royal bed

Where he should rest awhile; and, being gone,

Cypris and Charicles were left alone.

An aureole of purple round her brow

Flames love no more; but fierce defiance now

Knotted the veins, suffused them with rich blood,

And wrath restrained from sight the torrid flood

Of tears; her eyes were terrible; she spake:

"Rise for thy life, and flee. Arise, awake,

And hide thee in the temple; Zeus hath spoken

To me – me, Queen of Love – O sceptre broken! –

O vainest of all realms! that thou must die.

This only chance is left thee yet, to fly

Within that sanctity even he not dares

To touch with impious hand; thus unawares

Creep in among the columns to a gate

My hand shall show thee; it will open straight

And thou must lie forgotten till his rage

Have lost its first excess – then may we wage

A more successful war against his power."

But Charicles: "Shall I for one short hour

Fly from his tyranny? Am I such man

As should flee from him? Let the pale and wan

Women have fear – in strength of justice, I

His vain fierce fury do this hour defy!"

There shot through Heaven an awful tongue of fire,

Attended by its minister, the dire

Black thunder. In clear accents, cold and chill,

There sounded: "Boldest mortal, have thy will!

I do reverse the doom of Archais

And lay it on thyself; nor ever this

Shall lift its curse from off thee, this I swear."

And Cypris looked upon him and was ware

His form did change, and, writing from her clasp,

Fled hissing outward, a more hateful asp {16A}

Than India breeds to-day, so terrible

Was his despair, so venomous as hell

The sudden hate that filled him. So away,

Knowing not whither, did he flee, till day

Dropped her blue pinions, and the night drew on,

And sable clouds banked out the weary sun.

 

PART III.

LONG days and nights succeeded in despair.

Each noon beheld his doom – too proud for prayer,

And scorning Aphrodite's help – he strayed

Through swamps and weary bogs, nor yet betrayed

His anguished countenance to mortal men.

There was so keen an hour of sorrow, when

He had destroyed himself; but Heaven's hand,

Stretched out in vengeance, held him back. The land,

Where rest is made eternal, slipped his clutch;

He wandered through the world and might not touch

The sceptre of King Death. In vain he sought

Those fierce embraces, nor availed him aught

To numb the aching of his breast. The maid

He loved, now freed from doom, no longer prayed

For anything but to discover him,

And her large eyes with weeping grew more dim

Than are the mists of Autumn on the hills.

She sought him far and near; the rocks and rills

Could tell he nought; the murmur of the trees

Told her their pity and no more; the breeze

That cooled its burning locks within the sea,

And dared not pass o'er the dank swamps where he

Was hid, knew nothing; nor the sloughing waves,

Through all the desolation of those caves {16A}

The sea-nymphs haunt, could say a word of him;

No stars, to whom she looked, had seen the grim

Abodes of Charicles, for deadly shade

Lowered o'er their top, nor any light betrayed

The horror of their core. Despairing then

Of nature's prophets, and of gods and men,

She cast her arms wide open to the sky,

Cried loud, and wept, and girt herself to die.

It was a pinnacle of ivory

Whereon she stood, the loftiest of three fangs

Thrust up by magic, in the direst pangs

Of Earth, when Earth was yet a whirling cloud

Of fire and adamant, a ceaseless crowd

Of rushing atoms roaring into space,

Driven by demons from before the Face.

And these gleamed white, while Helios lit the heaven,

Like tusks; but at the coming of the even

Were visions wonderful with indigo;

And in the glory of the afterglow

Were rosy with its kiss; and in the night

Were crowned with that unutterable light

That is a brilliance of solemn black,

Glistening wide across the ocean track

Of white-sailed ships and many mariners.

So, on the tallest spire, where wakes and whirrs

The eagle when dawn strikes his eyrie, came

The maiden, clad in the abundant flame

Of setting sun, with shapely shoulders bare,

And even the glory of her midday hair

Was bound above her head; so, naked pure,

Fixed in that purpose, which the gods endure

With calm despair, the purpose to be passed

Into the circle, that, serene and vast,

Girds all, and is itself the All – to die –

So stood she there, with eyes of victory

Fixed on the sun, about to sink his rays

Beneath the ocean, that the pallid bays

Fringed with white foam. But, as in pity, yet

The sun forgot his chariot, nor would set, {17A}

Since as he sank the maiden thought to leap

Within the bosom of the vaulted deep

From that high pedestal. And seeing this,

That yet an hour was left her, Archais

Lift up her voice and prayed with zeal divine

To Aphrodite, who from her far shrine

Heard and flew fast to aid over the night-clad brine.

 

PRAYER OF ARCHAIS.

O Mother of Love,

By whom the earth and all its fountains move

In harmony,

Hear thou the bitter overwhelming cry

Of me, who love, who am about to die

Because of love.

O Queenliest Shrine,

Keeper of keys of heaven, most divine

Yet Queen of Pain,

Since Hell's gates open, and close fast again

Behind some servants of thy barren and vain

Though queenliest shrine.

I am of those

Who hear their brazen clanging as they close

Fastward on life.

I wane to-night, wearied with endless strife,

A lover alway, never yet a wife,

Lost in love's woes.

Not unperceived of Cypris did her song

Die fitfully upon her tremulous tongue,

Nor fell the melody on cruel ears:

The bright-throat goddess sped through many spheres

Of sight, beyond the world, and flamed across

All space, on wings that not the albatross

Might match for splendour, stretch, or airy speed,

From cluster unto cluster at her need

Of stars, wide waving, and from star to star

Extended, in whose span the heavens are.

So came she to the maiden, and unseen

Gazed on her rapt. So sighed the amorous queen {17A}

"For her indeed might Charicles despair!"

Yet of her presence was the maiden 'ware,

Although her mortal eyes might see her not;

So she knelt down upon that holy spot

And greeted her with tears; for now at last

The fountains of her sorrow, vague and vast,

Burst from the strong inexorable chain

Of too great passion, and a mortal pain

Beyond belief, and so in sudden waves

Tears welled impatient from their crystal caves.

(Men say those barren pinnacles are set

Since then with jewels; the white violet

Was born of those pure tears; the snowdrop grew

Where waking hope her agony shot through,

And where the Queen of Love had touched her tears,

The new-born lily evermore appears.)

So Cypris comforts here with tender words

That pierce her bosom, like dividing swords,

With hopes and loves requickened, and her breath

Grew calm as worship's, though as dark as death

Her soul had been for weary days no few;

Now, lightened by the spirit thrust anew

As into a dead body breath of life,

She gave sweet thanks with gentle lips that ope,

Like buds of roses on the sunny slope

Of lily gardens falling toward a stream

That flashes back the intolerable beam

Of sunlight with light heart.

They fled away

At Cypris' word, beyond the bounds of day

Into the awful caverns of the night,

Eerie with ghosts imagined, and the might

Of strange spells cast upon them by the dead.

So, ere the dying autumn-tide was fled,

There, in a lonely cleft of riven rock,

Whose iron fastnesses disdain and mock

Fury and fire with impassivity,

Archais rested, there alone must she

Wait the event of Aphrodite's wiles.

There, like a statue, 'mid the massy piles {18A}

Of thunder-smitten stone, as motionless

As Fate she sat, in manifold distress,

Awaiting and awaiting aye the same

One strong desire of life, that never came.

For Aphrodite sought in vain the woods,

The silent mountains, and impetuous floods

In all the world, nor had she knowledge of

Such dens as him concealed; (for what should Love

Know of such vile morasses?) in despair

Waved angry wings, and, floating through the air,

Came unto Aphaca, lewd citadel

Of strange new lusts and devilries of hell,

Where god Priapus dwelt; to him she came –

She, Love! – and, hiding her fair face for shame,

Nor showing aught the quivering scorn that glowed

Through all her body, her desire showed

In brief sharp words, and the lewd god gave ear

(For he shook terribly with bastard fear

Of being cast beneath the hoof of Time)

And answered her: "O mightiest, O sublime

White deity of heaven, a swamp is know

To me, so vile, so more than venomous grown

With filthy weeds; yea, all lewd creatures swarm

Its airless desolation through; and warm

Sick vapours of disease do putrefy

Its feverish exhalations; yet do I

With some fond band of loyal worshippers

Often draw thither; and black ministers

Of mine therein do office; I have seen

This being cursed of Zeus, a snake unclean

With its unholy neighbourhood; at morn

A fair bright youth, whose large eyes well might scorn

The wanton eyes of Ganymede, whose tongue

Reiterates ill curses idly strung

In circles meaningless high Zeus to move,

Yet has twain other cries; the one is 'Love!'

The other 'Archais!'" The Paphian lips

Smiled with a splendour potent to eclipse {18A}

The large-lipped drawn-out grinning of that court

That mouthed and gibbered in their swinish sport.

So with meet words of gratitude the dame

That rules our lives withdrew, triumphant flame

Kindling in her bright eyes and sunwarmed hair,

Burning in dawny cheeks as the fresh air

Kissed, cleansing them from that infested den

Of obscene deities and apish men,

Rivalling their gods in petty filthiness.

So Love's white-bosomed Queen gat full success

In the first season of her sojourning.

Then, on the verge of night, she went a-wing

To that most damned pestilence-rid marsh,

And, changing her bright shape, she donned the harsh

Vile form of woman past the middle age,

Who hath not virtue that may charm the sage

When the desire of folly is gone by,

And wrinkles yield to no false alchemy.

So, lewd of countenance, dressed all in rags,

She waited, fit mate of hell's filthiest hags,

Within a little hut upon the marge

Extreme of that bad swamp, whereby a barge,

Rotted with years and pestilence, lay moored.

The rusty chain men meant to have secured

Its most unwieldy hulk was eaten through

Of sharp-tongued serpents, and the poisonous dew

That the foul damp let fall at evening

Rotted it even to its core. A ring

Of silver girt it to the landing-stage,

Yet brimstone joined in wedlock with foul age

To burn into its vitals; thus the breath

Of Satyrs wantoning at noon with Death

Strained it, and all but cast it loose; the night

Drew on the outer world; no change of light

Was known within those depths, but vermin knew

By some strange instinct; forth the unholy crew {19A}

Of vampires and swamp-adders drew them out.

Alone amid the pestilential rout

Charicles' crest did glimmer red with wrath,

And, stealing from the barge, he drew him forth

And writhed into the hut, for latterly

So dark his soul had grown that never he

For shame and sorrow wore the form of man.

So to the hut on writing coils he ran

With angry head erect, and passed within

Its rotten doorway. Then the thing of Sin

That mocked the name of woman fondled him,

Stroked his flat head, his body curved and slim,

And from the fire brought milk. He drank it up

From the coarse pewter of the borrowed cup

And cried: "In eating, swear. I have vowed to make

The gods infernal on their couches quake

With fear before I die; I have vowed to live

With one aim only; never to forgive

The wrong the gods do me, and in my form

Love his high self, by whom the earth is warm

To-day, by whose defiance the universe

Would crash in one inextricable curse

To primal chaos. Hear me, I have sworn."

Then, suddenly, more glorious than the morn

Tipping the golden tops of autumn hills

With light, more countless than the myriad rills

Of bright dew running off the bracken leaves,

With gold more saturated than the sheaves

In the red glow that promises the day

Shall glory when the night is fled away

In bonds, a captive; so more glorious

Than the supreme ideal dreams of us

Mortals, he sprang forth suddenly a man.

Wherefore the hag, triumphant, then began

Likewise to change. The writhled visage grew

Fouler and fiercer, blacker in its hue;

The skewed deformities became more vile,

The rags more rotten, till a little while, {19A}

And all was changed to a putrescent heap

Of oily liquid on the floor asleep,

Like poisonous potency of mandragore

Ready to strike. And then a change came o'er

Its turbid mass, that shook, and grew divine,

A million-twinkling ocean of bright brine

That seemed to spread beyond the horizon,

Whence, stirred by strange emotions of the sun,

Waves rolled upon it, and a wind arose

And lashed it with insatiable blows

Into a surging labyrinth of foam,

Boiling up into heaven's unchanging dome

Of brightest aether; then, its womb uncloses

To bring to birth a garden of white roses,

Whence, on a mystic shell of pearl, is borne

A goddess, bosomed like the sea at morn,

Glittering in all the goodlihead and grace

Of maiden magic; her delicious face

Grew more and more upon the hero's sight,

Till all the hut was filled with rosy light,

And Charicles' grey eyes were luminous

With love-reflections multitudinous

As lilies in the spring. Again was seen

As in a mirror, like the ocean green,

The admirable birth of Love's eternal Queen.

So Charicles a moment was amazed.

A moment; then, contemptuous, he gazed

With curling lip on her, and sourly scorns

Her petty miracle: "The deed adorns

Too well a queen whose promises are foam."

And she, indignant, would have hied her home

And left him to despair, but pitying

His soul struck through with darts: "A bitter thing"

(She cried) "thou sayest, yet perchance my power

Is not as great as thine, for while I cower

Under the lash of Zeus, stand thou upright,

And laugh him to his beard for all his spite."

"I, even now beneath his doom?" "Even thou!

For learn this law, writ large upon the brow

Of white Olympus, writ by him who made

Thee, yea and Zeus, of whom is Zeus afraid, {20A}

Graven by Him with an eternal pen,

The first law in the destiny of men:

"He whom Zeus wrongfully once injures may not be

Hurt by his power again in the most small degree."

Thus, thy Archais" – "Mine! ah nevermore!"

"Peace, doubter! – is made free from all the sore

Oppressions of the past, nor may again

Zeus lay on her the shadow of a pain."

"But I, but I" – "Yea, verily, fear not

But stratagem may lift thy bitter lot

From thy worn shoulders. Thus for half the day

Thou art as free as air, as woodland fay

Treading the circle of unearthly green,

By maiden eyes at summer midnight seen.

These hours of freedom thy may'st use to free

Love from his toils, and joy and goodly gree6

Shall be thy guerdon. Listen! I have power

To change thy semblance in thy happier hour;

Thou shall assume the countenance of Love's

Divinest maiden in the darkling groves

Of Ida. There shall thou meet happily

With Zeus himself. I leave the scheme to thee."

----

The flash of her desire within his brain

Came as a meteor through the wildered train

Of solemn spheres of night's majestic court.

He kissed the extended hand, and lastly sought

A blessing from the kindly Queen of Love.

Then, smiling, she was bountiful thereof,

And bade him haste away, when at the gate –

Twin witch-oaks that presided o'er the state

Of that detested realm – he felt a change,

Half pleasant, only beyond wonder strange,

A change as from a joy to a delight,

As from broad sunshine to the fall of night,

As from strong action to endurance strong,

As from desire to the power to long. {20A}

From man to woman with a strange swift motion,

Like tide and ebb upon a summer ocean.

Thus he went forth a girl; his steps he presses

Through sickly wastes and burning wildernesses

To the lascivious shade of Ida's deep recesses.

 

PART IV.

FAIRER than woman blushing at the kiss

Of young keen Phoibos, whose lips' nectar is

More fresh than lilies, whose divine embrace

Flushes the creamy pallor of her face,

And, even in those depths of azure sea

Where her eyes dwell, bids them glint amorously,

While the intense hushed music of his breath

Sighs, till her longing grows divine as death –

So, fairer far, drew dawn on Ida's grove.

The young sun rose, whose burning lips of love

Kissed the green steeps, whose royal locks of flame

Brushed o'er the dewy pastures, with acclaim

Of tuneful thrushes shrill with mountain song,

And noise of nightingales, and murmur long –

A sigh half-sad, as if remembering earth

And all the massy pillars of her girth;

Half-jubilant, as if foreseeing a world

Fresher with starlight and with waters pearled,

Sunnier days and rivers calm and clear,

And music for four seasons of the year

And pleasant people with glad throat and voice

To wise to grieve, too happy to rejoice.

So came the dawn on Ida to disclose

Within her confines a delicious rose

Lying asleep, a-dreaming, white of brow,

Stainless and splendid. Yea, and fair enow

To tempt the lips of Death to kiss her eyes

And bid her waken in the sad surprise

Of seeing round her the iron gates of hell

In gloomy strength: so sweet, so terrible,

So fair, her image in the brook might make

A passionless old god his hunger slake {21A}

By plunging in the waters, though he knew

His drowning body drowned her image too.

Yet she seemed gentle. Never thorn assailed

The tender finger that would touch, nor failed

The strong desire of Zeus, who wisely went,

As was his wont, with amorous intent

Among those pastures, and fresh fragrant lawns,

And dewy wonder of new woods, where dawns

A new flower every day, a perfect flower,

Each queenlier than her sister, though the shower

Of early dew begemmed them all with stars,

Diamond and pearl, between the pleasant bars

Of cool green trees that avenued the grove.

Zeus wandered through their bounds, and dreamt of love.

Weary of women's old lascivious breed,

The large luxurious lips of Ganymede,

He, weary of tainted kiss and feverish lust,

Esteeming love a desert of dry dust

Because he found no freshness, no restraint,

No virgin bosom, lips without a taint

Of lewd imagining, yet passed not by

With scorn of curled lip and contempt of eye

The chaste abandon of the sleeping maid,

But looked upon her lips, checked course, and stayed,

And noted all the virginal fresh air

Of Charicles, the maiden head half bare

To Phoibos' kiss, half veiled by dimpled arms

Within whose love it rested, all her charms

Half-shown, half-hidden, amorous but chaste.

And so, between the branches interlaced

And all the purple white-starred undergrowth,

Zeus crept beside the maid, little loath

To waken her caresses, and let noon

Fade into midnight in the amorous swoon

Of long delight, and so with gentle kiss

Touched the maid's cheek, and broke her dream of bliss.

And she, more startled than the yearling fawn

As the rude sun breaks golden out of dawn, {21A}

One swift sharp beam of glory, leapt aside

And made as if to flee, but vainly plied

Her tender feet amid the tangled flowers.

For Zeus, enraptured, put forth all his powers,

And caught her panting, timid, tremulous.

And he with open lips voluptuous

Closed her sweet mouth with kisses, and so pressed

Her sobbing bosom with a manlier breast

That she was silent; next, with sudden force,

Implacable, unshamed, without remorse,

Would urge his further suit; but so she strove

That even the power of Zeus, made weak for love,

Found its last limit, and, releasing her,

Prayed for her grace, a raptured worshipper,

Where but a moment earlier had he striven

A sacrilegious robber. And all heaven

Seemed open to his eyes as she looked down

Into their love, half smiling, with a frown

Coquetting with her forehead. Then a change,

Angry and wonderful, began to range

Over her cheeks; she bitterly began:

"I will not yield to thee – a mortal man

Alone shall know my love. No God shall come

From his high place and far immortal home

To bend my will by force. Freeborn, I live

In freedom, and the love that maidens give

To men I give to one, but thou, most high,

(For woman's wits through your deceptions spy

And know ye for Olympians) shall know

A maiden's heart no lover may win so.

Farewell, and find a fairer maid to love!

Farewell!" But he: "Through all the silent grove

I sought thee sighing – for thy love would I

Consent to be a man, consent to die,

Put off my godhead." "If thou sayest sooth,

Any thy fair words bedew the flowers of truth

Nor wander in the mazy groves of lying,

I will be thine – speak not to me of dying

Or abdication, sith I deem so far

To tempt thee were unwise – we mortals are {22A}

Chary to ask too much – didst thou refuse

Either my honour or thy love to lose

Were a hard portion, for in sooth I Love."

"Ah happy hour, sweet moment! Fairest grove

Of all fair Ida, thou hast sealed my bliss!"

Then with one long intense unpitying kiss

Pressed on her bosom, he arose and swore

By heaven and earth and all the seas that roar

And stars that sing, by rivers and fresh flood,

By his own essence, by his body and blood,

To lay his godhead down, till night drew nigh,

To be a mortal till the vesper cry

Of dying breezes. So the morning past

And found them linked inexorably fast

Each in the other's arms. Their lips are wed

To drink the breezes from the fountainhead

Of lovers' breath. Now Zeus half rises up,

Sips once again from that moon-curved cup.

And, in his passion gazing on the flower,

Darker and riper for Love's perfect hour,

His clear voice through the silent atmosphere

Burst rich and musical upon her ear.

 

SONG OF ZEUS.

O rosy star

Within thy sky of ebony shot through

With hints of blue

More golden and more far

Than earthly stars and flowers

That beam lasciviously through night's empurpled hours!

O well of fire!

O fountain of delicious spurting flame

Grown sad with shame,

Whose imminent desire

Drinks in the dew of earth,

Gives its own limpid streams to quench man's deathly dearth. {22A}

O gardened rose!

The fern-fronds gird thy fragrant beauty round.

Thy ways are bound

With petals that unclose

When the sun seeks his way

Through night and sleep and love to all the dreams of day.

Love, sleep, and death!

The three that melt together, mingle so

Man may not know

The little change of breath

(Caught sigh that love desires,)

When love grows sleep, and sleep at last in death expires.

O lamp of love!

The hissing spray shall jet thee with desire

And foaming fire,

And fire from thee shall move

Her spirit to devour,

And fuse and mingle us in one transcendent hour.

Godhead is less

Than mortal love, the garland of the spheres,

Than those sweet tears

That yield no bitterness

To the luxurious cries

That love shrills out in death, that murmur when love dies.

Love dies in vain.

For breezes hasten from the summer south

To touch his mouth

And bid him rise again,

Till, ere the dawn-star's breath,

Love kisses into sleep, Sleep swoons away to Death.

So Zeus in her sweet arms slept daintily

Till the sun crept into the midmost sky,

And his own curse came back to sleep with him.

Through the noon's haze the world was vast and dim, {23A}

The streams and trees and air were shimmering

With summer heat and earth's cool vapouring,

When, round his limbs entwined, a fiery snake

Hissed in his frightened ear the call "Awake."

And Zeus arisen strives vainly to release

His valiant body from the coils, nor cease

His angry struggles in their cruel hold.

But all implacable, unyielding, cold,

Their sinuous pressure on his breast and thighs,

The white teeth sharp and ready otherwise

In one fierce snap to slay. There hissed "Beware!"

Fear Charicles avenging, and despair!"

And Zeus beheld the springe his foot was in,

And, once more wise, being out of love, would win

His freedom on good terms. His liberty

For Charicles' he bartered. Willingly

The boy accepts, yet in his eye remains

A tender woman-feeling, and his pains,

And even Archais' woes he did forget

In the sweep Lethe, that his lip had set

To their ripe brim, that he had drained. But now,

Freedom regained, more manly grows the brow;

He is again the free, the bold, the lover!

Far o'er the green his new-starred eyes discover

A kirtle glancing in the breeze, a foot

That lightly dances, though the skies be mute

Of music. Forth she flies, the distant dove,

And calls the woodland birds to sing of love;

Forth leaps the stag and calls his mates; the stream

Flashes a silver sunbeam, a gold gleam

Of leaping laughter, that the fish may know

The goodly tidings; all the woodlands glow

With olive and pure silver and red gold,

And all sweet nature's marvels manifold

Combine together in the twilight dim

To harmonize in the thalamic hymn. {23A}

 

HYMN.

O Lord our God!

O woodland king! O thou most dreadful God!

Who chasest thieves and smitest with thy rod,

That fearful rod, too sharp, too strong

For thy weak worshippers to bear!

Hear thou their murmured song

Who cry for pardon; pity, and prepare

For pain's delight thy votaries who kiss thy rod,

O high Lord God!

O Lord our God!

God of green gardens! O imperious god!

Who as a father smitest with thy rod

Thine erring children who aspire

In vain the the high mysteries

Of thy most secret fire.

Beat us and burn with nameless infamies!

We suffer, and are proud and glad, and kiss thy rod,

O high Lord God!

O Lord our God!

O despot of the fields! O silent god!

Who hidest visions underneath thy rod,

And hast all dreams and all desires and fears,

All secrets and all loves and joys

Of all the long vague years

For lightsome maidens and desire-pale boys

Within thy worship. We desire thy bitter rod,

O high Lord God!

Thus that most reverend sound through all the vale

Pealed in low cadences that rise and fail,

And all the augurs promise happy days,

And all the men for Archais have praise,

And all maids' eyes are fixed on Charicles.

Then, to the tune of musical slow seas,

The wind began to murmur on the mead,

And he, unconscious, drew his eager reed {24A}

From the loose tunic; not they seat themselves

On moss worn smooth by feet of many elves

Dancing at midnight through them, and their voice

Bids all the woodland echoes to rejoice

Because the lovers are made one at last.

Then Charicles began to play; they cast

Tunic and snood and sandal, and began

To foot a happy measure for a span,

While still Archais at his feet would sit,

Gaze in his eyes, by love and triumph lit,

And listen to the music. And the fire

Of his light reed so kindled her desire

That she with new glad confidence would quire

A new song exquisite, whose tender tune

Was nurtured at the bosom of the moon

And kissed on either cheek by sun and rain.

She trembled and began. The troop was fain

To keep pure silence while her notes resound

Over the forest and the marshy ground.

 

ARCHAIS.

Green and gold the meadows lie

In the sunset's eye.

Green and silver the woods glow

When the sun is low,

And the moon sails up like music on a sea of breathing snow.

Chain and curse are passed away;

Love proclaims the day.

Dawned his sunrise o'er the sea,

Changing olive waves to be

Founts of emerald and sapphire; he is risen, we are free.

Light and dark are wed together

Into golden weather;

Sun and moon have kissed, and built

Palaces star-gilt

Whence a crystal stream of joy, love's eternal wine, is spilt. {24A}

 

CHARICLES.

Join our chorus, tread the turf

To the beating of the surf.

Dance together, ere we part,

And Selene's dart

Give the signal for your slumber and the rapture of our heart.

 

"Semi-Chorus of Men."

Exalted with immeasurable gladness;

Bonds touched with tears and melted like the snow: –

Wake the song loudly; loose the leash of madness,

Beat the loud drum, and bid the trumpet blow!

 

"Semi-Chorus of Women."

Let the lute thrill divinely low,

Let the harp strike a tender note of sadness;

Louder and louder, till the full song flow,

One earth-dissolving stream of utter gladness!

CHORUS.

Free! ye are free! Delight, thou Moon, to hear us!

Smile, Artemis, thy virgin leaves thy fold!

Star of the morning, fling thy blossom near us!

Phoibos, re-kindle us with molten gold!

Starbeams and woven tresses of the ocean,

Flowers of the rolling mountains and the lea,

Trees, and innumerable flocks and herds,

Wild cattle and bright birds,

Tremble above the sea

With song more noble, the divinest potion

Of poet's wonder and bard's melody.

 

ARCHAIS.

Cold is the kiss of the stars to the sea,

The kiss of the earth to the orient grey

That heralds the day;

Warmer the kiss of a love that is free

As the wind of the sea,

Quick and resurgent and splendid. {25A}

 

CHARICLES.

Night her bright bow-string has bended;

Fast flies her arrow unsparing

Through the beech-leaves,

Aether it cleaves

Rapid and daring.

Ah! how it strikes as with silver! how the sun's laughter is ended!

 

ARCHAIS.

How the moon's arms are extended!

 

"Semi-Chorus of Men."

Rejoicing, inarticulate with pleasure,

Joy streams a comet in the strong control

Of the sun's love; weave, weave the eager measure,

Fill the sea's brim from pleasure's foaming bowl!

 

"Semi-Chorus of Women."

Weave, weave the dance; the stars are not your goal.

Freed slaves of Fortune, love's your only treasure.

While the gold planets toward the sunlight roll,

Weave, weave the dance! Weave, weave the eager measure!

CHARICLES.

Of your revels I'll be king.

 

ARCHAIS.

I the queen of your array.

Foot it nimbly in the ring,

 

CHARICLES.

Strewn with violet and may.

 

ARCHAIS.

Apple-blossom pile on high,

Till the bridal bed is duly

Panoplied with blooms that sigh. {25A}

 

CHARICLES.

Not a flower of them shall die,

Every one shall blossom newly;

Stars shall lend them of their beauty,

Rain and sunshine know their duty.

 

ARCHAIS.

Not a flower of them shall die

That compose our canopy;

Beech and chestnut, poplar tall,

Birch and elm shall flourish all

Dewed with ever-living spring.

Song and dance shall close the day,

 

CHORUS

Close this happy, happy day.

 

CHARICLES.

Of your revels I'll be king,

 

ARCHAIS.

I the queen of your array.

 

"Both."

Foot it nimbly in the ring!

 

CHORUS.

Stay, stars, and dance with us! Our songs compel

The very gods to tremble,

Banish the ill ghosts of hell,

Make fiends their shape dissemble.

Freedom forbids their tyrannous reign here,

Flee to their prison must they, nor deceive;

Love had a lightning that shall strip them clear,

Truth through the curtain of the dark shall reave.

Ye love, O happy ones and chaste,

Ye love, and light indwells your eyes;

Truth is the girdle of your waist,

Ye play before the gates of pearl of Paradise.

Happy lovers, dwell together

In the isles of golden weather,

Free of tyranny and tether,

Roam the world, linked hand in hand, {26A}

Moonlight for your sleep, and breezes

Fresh from where the Ocean freezes,

And the cold Aurora stands

With new lilies in her hands.

Happy lovers, twilight falls.

Let us leave you for a while,

Guarding all the golden walls

With the weapon of a smile.

Silver arrows from the maiden

With new labours laden

Shall be shot at bold intruders who would violate your peace;

Lightning shall keep watch and warden through the sea-born isles of Greece.

Sleep! Sleep!

Sleep, ye happy lovers, sleep,

Soft and dreamless, sweet and deep,

Sleep! Sleep!

 

We will steal away

Till the break of day.

 

ARCHAIS.

In the arms of love at last

Love is anchored fast,

Firm beyond the rage of Heaven, safe beyond the ocean blast.

 

CHARICLES.

In the arms of love close prest!

O thy tender breast

Pillows now my happy head; softly breezes from the west

 

"Both."

Stir the ring-dove's nest.

In the arms of love we lie;

Music from the sky

Tunes the hymenael lyre that will echo till we die.

God we feel is very nigh;

Soft, breeze, sigh

While we kiss at last to slumber,

And the varied number

Of the forest songsters cry:

This is immortality; this is happiness for aye. {26A}

Hush! the music swells apace,

Rolls its silver billows up

Through the void demesne of space

To the heavens' azure cup!

Hush, my love, and sleep shall sigh

This is immortality!

 

EPILOGUE

IN HOLLOW STONES, SCAWFELL.

BLIND the iron pinnacles edge the twilight;

Blind and black the ghylls of the mountain clefted,

Crag and snow-clad slope in a distant vision

Rise as before me.

Here (it seems) my feet by a tiny torrent

Press the moss with a glad delight of being:

Here my eyes look up to the riven mountain

Split by the thunder.

Rent and rifted, shattered of wind and lightning,

Smitten, Scarred, and stricken of sun and tempest,

Seamed with wounds, like adamant, shod with iron,

Torn by the earthquake.

Still through all the stresses of doubtful weather

Hold the firm old pinnacles, sky-defying;

Still the icy feet of the wind relentless

Walk in their meadows.

Fields that flower not, blossom in no new spring-tide;

Fields where grass nor herb nor abounding darnel

Flourish; fields more barren, devoid, than ocean's

Pasture ungarnered. {27A}

Deserts, stone as arid as sand, savannahs7

Black with wrecks, a wilderness evil, fruitless;

Still, to me, a land of the bluest heaven

Studded with silver.

Castles bleak and bare as the wrath of ocean,

Wasted wall and tower, as the blast had risen,

Taken keep and donjon, and hurled them earthward,

Rent and uprooted.

Such rock-ruins people me tribes and nations,

Kings and queens and princes as pure as dawning,

Brave as day and true; and a happy people

Lulled unto freedom;

Nations past the stormier times of tyrants,

Past the sudden spark of a great rebellion,

Past the iron gates that are thrust asunder

Not without bloodshed:

Past the rule of might and the rule of lying,

Free from gold's illusion, and free to cherish

Joys of life diviner than war and passion –

Falsest of phantoms.

Only now true love, like a sun of molten

Glory, surging up from a sea of liquid

Silver, golden, exquisite, overflowing,

Soars into starland.

Sphere on sphere unite in the chant of wonder;

Star to star must add to the glowing chorus;

Sun and moon must mingle and speed the echo

Flaming through heaven.

Night and day divide, and the music strengthens,

Gathers roar of seas and the dirge of moorlands;

Tempest, thunder, birds, and the breeze of summer

Join to augment it. {27A}

So the sound-world, filled of the fire of all things,

Rolls majestic torrents of mighty music

Through the stars where dwell the avenging spirits

Bound in the whirlwind ...

So the cliffs their Song ... For the mist regathers,

Girds them bride-like, fit for the sun to kiss them;

Darkness falls like dewfall about the hillsides;

Night is upon me. {end col. A}

Now to me remain in the doubtful twilight

Stretches bare of flower, but touched with whispers,

Grey with huddled rocks, and a space of woodland,

Pine-tree and poplar.

Now a stream to ford and a stile to clamber;

Last the inn, a book, and a quiet corner ...

Fresh as Spring, there kisses me on the forehead

Sleep, like a sister. {end col. A}

{full page below}

 

NOTE: - With the exception of this epilogue, and one or two of the lyrics, Crowley wished to suppress the whole of "The Tale of Archais." But it was thought inadvisable to form a precedent of this kind, as the book was regularly published. On the other hand, by adhering to this rule any poem not appearing in this edition may be definitely discarded as spurious.

1. Panpipe.

2. WEH NOTE: shoe.

3. WEH NOTE: This inconvenience is not unlike that reported of Melusine, wife of the Angevin Raymond de Lusignan. Melusine had a little problem of turning to a blue and white serpent from the waist down every Saturday. After her death following discovery of this complaint, she was said "to haunt the Lusignan castle, causing much fear by the sound of her swishing tail". Thus the ancestors of the English kings!

4. Aphrodite.

5. The gate through which true dreams are perceived.

6. Gladness.

7. Spanish term for wide, grassy plains.