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The three-formed dreadful one who reigns
Lo, now thine upraised crest let fall,
And we are far upon our way.”
Then lightly from her soft side Jason stept, While still upon the beast her foot she kept, Still murmuring softly many an unknown word, As when through half-shut casements the brown bird We hearken, when the night is come in June, And thick-leaved woods are 'twixt us and his tune.
Therewith he threw the last door open wide, Whose hammered iron did the marvel hide, And shut his dazzled eyes, and stretched his hands Out towards the sea-born wonder of all lands, And buried them deep in the locks of gold, Grasping the fleece within his mighty hold.
Which when Medea saw, her gown of grey She caught up from the ground, and drew away Her wearied foot from off the rugged beast, And, while from her soft strain she never ceased, In the dull folds she hid her silk from sight, And then, as bending 'neath the burden bright, Jason drew nigh, joyful, yet still afraid, She met him, and her wide grey mantle laid Over the fleece, whispering, “Make no delay; He sleeps who never slept by night or day Till now; nor will his charmed sleep be long. Light-foot am I, and sure thine arms are strong; Haste, then! no word! nor turn about to gaze At me, as he who in the shadowy ways Turned round to see once more the twice-lost face.”
Then swiftly did they leave the dreadful place, Turping no look behind, and reached the street, That with familiar look and kind did greet Those wanderers, mazed with marvels and with fear. And so, unchallenged, did they draw anear The long white quays, and at the street's end now Beheld the ships' masts standing row by row Stark black against the stars. Then cautiously Peered Jason forth, ere they took heart to try The open starlit place; but nought he saw Except the night-wind twitching the loose straw From half-unloaded keels, and nought he heard But the strange twittering of a caged green bird Within an Indian ship, and from the hill A distant baying; yea, all was so still, Somewhat they doubted, natheless forth they passed, And Argo's painted sides they reached at last.
Then saw Medea men like shadows grey Rise from the darksome decks, who took straightway With murmured joy, from Jason's outstretched hands, The conquered fleece, the wonder of all lands, While with strong arms he took the royal maid, And in their hold the precious burthen laid; And scarce her dainty feet could touch the deck, Ere down he leapt, and little now did reck That loudly clanged his armor therewithal.
But, turning townward, did Medea call, “ ( noble Jason, and ye heroes strong, To sea! to sea! nor pray ye loiter long; For surely shall ye see the beacons flare Ere in mid stream ye are, and running fair On toward the sea with tide and oar and sail. My father wakes, nor bides he to bewail His loss and me; I see his turret gleam As he goes toward the beacon, and down stream Absyrtus lurks before the sandy bar In mighty keel well-manned and dight for war.”
Now swift beneath the oar-strokes Argo flew, While the sun rose behind them, and they drew Unto the river's mouth, nor failed to see Absyrtus' galley waiting watchfully Betwixt them and the white-topped turbid bar. Therefore they gat them ready now for war, With joyful hearts, for sharp they sniffed the sea, And saw the great waves tumbling green and free Outside the bar upon the way to Greece, The rough green way to glory and sweet peace.
Then to the prow gat Jason, and the maid
Then Jason cried, “ Absyrtus, will ye stop
Now on the other prow Absyrtus stood,
Then Jason wrathfully threw up his head, But ere the shout came, fair Medea said, In trembling whisper thrilling through his ear,
Haste, quick upon them! if before is fear,
Behind is death.” Then Jason, turning, saw
Then lifted he his hand, and with a cry
Then joyful felt all men as now at last From hill to green hill of the sea they passed; But chiefly joyed Medea, as now grew The Colchian hills behind them faint and blue, And like a white speck showed the following ship. There 'neath the canopy, lip pressed to lip, They sat and told their love, till scarce he thought What precious burden back to Greece he brought Besides the maid, nor for his kingdom cared, As on her beauty with wet eyes he stared, And heard her sweet voice soft as in a dream, Where all seems gained, and trouble dead does seem.
LESSON 67. AMERICAN POETRY.—WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT was born at Cummington, N. H., 1794; entered Williams College, 1810; admitted to the bar, 1815; became connected with the Evening Post, 1826, and afterwards was its editor-in-chief. Wrote Thanatopsis at the age of eighteen; published his first volume of poems, 1821; the first complete collection, 1832; and an additional volume, 1864. His translation of the Iliad appeared 1870; and of the Odyssey, 1871. He died in 1878.
“The poetry of Bryant is not great in amount, but it represents a great deal of work, as few men are more finished artists than he, or more patient in shaping and polishing their productions. No piece of verse ever left his hands till it had received the last touch demanded by the most correct judgment and the most fastidious taste. Thus the style of his poetry is always admirable. Nowhere can one find in what he has written a careless or slovenly expression, an awkward phrase, or an illchosen word. He never puts in an epithet to fill out a line, and never uses one which could be improved by substituting another.
The range within which he moves is not wide. He has not written narrative or dramatic poems; he has not painted poetical portraits; he has not aspired to the honors of satire, of wit, or of humor; he has made no contributions to the poetry of passion. His poems may be divided into two great classes —those which express the moral aspect of humanity, and those which interpret the language of Nature; though it may be added that in not a few of his productions these two elements are combined.
Those of the former class are not so remarkable for originality of treatment as for the beauty and truth with which they express the reflections of the general mind and the emotions of the general heart. In these poems we see our own experience returned to us, touched with the lights and colored with the hues of the most exquisite poetry.
In his study of Nature he combines the faculty and the vision, the eye of the naturalist and the imagination of the poet. No man observes the outward shows of earth and sky more accurately; no man feels them more vividly; no man describes them more beautifully.”—G. S. Hillard.