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There was Ixion turned on a wheele,

for daring tempt the queene of heaven to sin; and Sisyphus an huge round stone did reele against an hill, ne might from labour lin; there thirsty Tantalus hong by the chin; and Tityus fed a vultur on his maw; Typhoeus ioynts were stretched on a gin; Theseus condemnd to endlesse slouth by law: and fifty sisters water in leke vessels draw.


1292 THE Redcross kniGHT AND THE dragon


Y this, the dreadful Beast drew nigh to hand, halfe flying and half footing in his haste, that with his largenesse measured much land, and made wide shadow under his huge waste; as mountaine doth the valley overcaste. Approching nigh, he reared high afore

his body monstrous, horrible, and vaste; which, to increase his wondrous greatnes more, was swoln with wrath and poyson, and with bloody gore;

and over all with brasen scales was armd,
like plated cote of steele, so couchéd neare

that nought mote perce; ne might his corse be harmd
with dint of swerd, nor push of pointed speare;

which, as an eagle, seeing pray appeare,

his aery plumes doth rouze full rudely dight;
so shaked he, that horror was to heare;
for, as the clashing of an armor bright,

such noyse his rouzed scales did send unto the Knight.

His flaggy winges, when forth he did display, were like two sayles, in which the hollow wynd is gathered full, and worketh speedy way: and eke the pennes, that did his pinions bynd, were like mayne-yardes with flying canvas lynd; with which whenas him lift the ayre to beat, and there by force unwonted passage fynd, the cloudes before him fledd for terror great, and all the hevens stood still amazed with his threat. E. SPENSER




AIL, holy light, offspring of Heaven first-born, or of the Eternal co-eternal beam

may I express thee unblamed? since God is light,
and never but in unapproachéd light

dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee,
bright effluence of bright essence, increate!
Or hearest thou rather pure ethereal stream,
whose fountain who shall tell? before the sun,
before the heavens thou wert, and at the voice
of God, as with a mantle didst invest
the rising world of waters dark and deep,
won from the void and formless Infinite.
Thee I revisit now with bolder wing,

escaped the Stygian pool, though long detained
in that obscure sojourn, while in my flight,

through utter and through middle darkness borne,
with other notes than to the Orphéan lyre,

I sung of Chaos and eternal Night;

taught by the heavenly Muse to venture down the dark descent, and up to re-ascend, though hard and rare:-thee I revisit safe, and feel thy sovran vital lamp; but thou revisitest not these eyes, that roll in vain to find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn; so thick a drop serene hath quenched their orbs, 1294 or dim suffusion veiled. Yet not the more cease I to wander where the Muses haunt clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill, smit with the love of sacred song; but chief thee, Sion, and the flowery brooks beneath, that wash thy hallowed feet, and warbling flow, nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget

those other two equalled with me in fate,
so were I equalled with them in renown,
blind Thamyris and blind Mæonides,
and Tiresias and Phineus, prophets old:
then feed on thoughts, that voluntary move
harmonious numbers: as the wakeful bird
sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid
tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the year
seasons return; but not to me returns


day or the sweet approach of even or morn,
or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
but clouds instead and ever-during dark
surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
cut off, and, for the book of knowledge fair,
presented with a universal blank

of Nature's works to me expunged and rased,
and wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
So much the rather thou, celestial Light,

shine inward, and the mind through all her powers irradiate, there plant eyes, all mist from thence purge and disperse, that I may see and tell

of things invisible to mortal sight.


T little profits that an idle king,



by this still hearth, among these barren crags, matched with an agéd wife, I mete and dole unequal laws unto a savage race,

that hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me. I cannot rest from travel: I will drink

life to the lees: all times I have enjoyed

greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
that loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
for always roaming with a hungry heart
much have I seen and known; cities of men
and manners, climates, councils, governments,
myself not least, but honour'd of them all;
and drunk delight of battle with my peers,
far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
yet all experience is an arch wherethro'

gleams that untravell'd world, whose margin fades
for ever and for ever when I move.

How dull it is to pause, to make an end,

to rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!

as tho' to breathe were life. Life piled on life

were all too little, and of one to me

little remains: but every hour is saved

from that eternal silence, something more,
a bringer of new things; and vile it were
for some three suns to store and hoard myself,
and this gray spirit yearning in desire

to follow knowledge, like a sinking star, beyond the utmost bound of human thought. 1296 There lies the port: the vessel puffs her sail : there gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners, souls that have toil'd and wrought, and thought with me

that ever with a frolic welcome took

the thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
free hearts, free foreheads-you and I are old;
old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
death closes all: but something ere the end,
some work of noble note, may yet be done,
not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
the long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
the sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
to sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
of all the western stars, until I die.

It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
it may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
and see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
we are not now that strength which in old days
moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
one equal temper of heroic hearts,

made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

1297 EVEN as a flower,


poppy or hyacinth, on its broken stem, languidly raises its encumbered head, and turns it to the gentle evening sun, so feebly rose, so turned that Boy his face unto the well-known voice: twice raised his head, twice it fell back in powerless heaviness;


even at that moment from the dark wood came
his chariot coursers, heavily behind
dragging the vacant car. Caswallon knew,
and he leaped up; the Boy his bloodless lips
with a long effort opened. Was it well,
father, at this my first, my earliest fight,
to mock me with a baffled hope of fame?
well was it, to defraud me of my right

to noble death?—and speaking thus he died.
-Awhile above him leaned the Father, then
leaped up, within the chariot placed the corpse,
and with his lash fierce rent the steeds: swift on
as with their master's ire instinct they flew,
making a wide road through the hurtling fray.
Kinsman or stranger, friend or foe alike,
one undistinguishing lust of carnage filled
the Master and the Horses; so wild groans
followed where'er he moved, 'twas all to him,
slaughter dripped and reeked from the chok'd

I' the Eastern wars as under his broad tower
moves stately the huge Elephant, a shaft
haply casts down his friendly rider, wont
to lead him to the tank: awhile he droops
affectionate his loose and moaning trunk:
then in his grief and vengeance bursts, and bears
in his feet's trampling rout and disarray

to either host, and shakes the sandy plain.



ALL night he worked in the serene moonshine

but when the light of day was spread abroad
he sought again Cyllene's peaks divine.
On his long wandering, neither man nor God
had met him, since he killed Apollo's kine,
nor housedog had barked at him on his road:
now he obliquely through the keyhole passed,
like a thin mist or an autumnal blast.

Right through the temple of the spacious cave
he went with soft light feet-as if his tread
fell not on Earth; no sound their falling gave;
then to his cradle he crept quick, and spread
the swaddling-clothes about him; and the knave

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