'Twas on a day
When the immortals at their banquet lay;
Sparkled with starry dew,
The weeping of those myriad urns of light,
Within whose orbs, the Almighty Power,
At nature's dawning hour,
Stored the rich fluid of ethereal soul.
Soft odorous clouds, that upward wing their flight
From eastern isles
(Where they have bathed them in the orient ray,
And with rich fragrance all their bosoms filled).
In circles flew, and, melting as they flew,
A liquid daybreak o'er the board distilled.
All, all was luxury!
All must be luxury, where Lyaeus smiles.
His locks divine
With a bright meteor-braid,
Which, like an ever-springing wreath of vine,
Shot into brilliant leafy shapes,
And o'er his brow in lambent tendrils played:
While mid the foliage hung,
Like lucid grapes,
A thousand clustering buds of light,
Culled from the garden of the galaxy.
Upon his bosom Cytherea's head
Lay lovely, as when first the Syrens sung
Her beauty's dawn,
And all the curtains of the deep, undrawn,
Revealed her sleeping in its azure bed.
The captive deity
Hung lingering on her eyes and lip,
With looks of ecstasy.
Now, on his arm,
In blushes she reposed,
And, while he gazed on each bright charm,
To shade his burning eyes her hand in dalliance stole.
And now she raised her rosy mouth to sip
The nectared wave
And from her eyelids, half-way closed,
Sent forth a melting gleam,
Which fell like sun-dew in the bowl:
While her bright hair, in mazy flow
Of gold descending
Adown her cheek's luxurious glow,
Hung o'er the goblet's side,
And was reflected in its crystal tide,
Like a bright crocus flower,
Whose sunny leaves, at evening hour
With roses of Cyrene blending,
Hang o'er the mirror of some silvery stream.
The Olympian cup
Shone in the hands
Of dimpled Hebe, as she winged her feet
The empyreal mount,
To drain the soul-drops at their stellar fount;
As the resplendent rill
Gushed forth into the cup with mantling heat,
Her watchful care
Was still to cool its liquid fire
With snow-white sprinklings of that feathery air
The children of the Pole respire,
In those enchanted lands.
Where life is all a spring, and
north winds never blow.
Bright Hebe, what a tear,
And what a blush were thine,
When, as the breath of every Grace
Wafted thy feet along the studded sphere,
With a bright cup for Jove himself to drink,
Some star, that shone beneath thy tread,
Raising its amorous head
To kiss those matchless feet,
Checked thy career too fleet,
And all heaven's host of eyes
Entranced, but fearful all,
Saw thee, sweet Hebe, prostrate fall
Upon the bright floor of the azure skies;
Where, mid its stars, thy beauty lay,
As blossom, shaken from the spray
Of a spring thorn,
Lies mid the liquid sparkles of the morn.
Or, as in temples of the Paphian shade,
The worshippers of Beauty's queen behold
An image of their rosy idol, laid
Upon a diamond shrine.
The wanton wind,
Which had pursued the flying fair,
And sported mid the tresses unconfined
Of her bright hair,
Now, as she fell,--oh wanton breeze!
Ruffled the robe, whose graceful flow
Hung o'er those limbs of unsunned snow,
Purely as the Eleusinian veil
Hangs o'er the Mysteries!
The brow of Juno flushed--
Love blest the breeze!
The Muses blushed;
And every cheek was hid behind a lyre,
While every eye looked laughing through the strings.
But the bright cup? the nectared draught
Which Jove himself was to have quaffed?
Alas, alas, upturned it lay
By the fallen Hebe's side;
While, in slow lingering drops, the ethereal tide,
As conscious of its own rich essence, ebbed away.
Who was the Spirit that remembered Man,
In that blest hour,
And, with a wing of love,
Brushed off the goblet's scattered tears,
As, trembling near the edge of heaven they ran,
And sent them floating to our orb below?
Essence of immortality!
Fell glowing through the spheres;
While all around new tints of bliss,
New odors and new light,
Enriched its radiant flow.
Now, with a liquid kiss,
It stole along the thrilling wire
Of Heaven's luminous Lyre,
Stealing the soul of music in its flight:
And now, amid the breezes bland,
That whisper from the planets as they roll,
The bright libation, softly fanned
By all their sighs, meandering stole.
They who, from Atlas' height,
Beheld this rosy flame
Descending through the waste of night,
Thought 'twas some planet, whose empyreal frame
Had kindled, as it rapidly revolved
Around its fervid axle, and dissolved
Into a flood so bright!
The youthful Day,
Within his twilight bower,
Lay sweetly sleeping
On the flushed bosom of a lotos-flower;
When round him, in profusion weeping,
Dropt the celestial shower,
The rosy clouds, that curled
About his infant head,
Like myrrh upon the locks of Cupid shed.
But, when the waking boy
Waved his exhaling tresses through the sky,
O morn of joy!
The tide divine,
All glorious with the vermil dye
It drank beneath his orient eye,
Distilled, in dews, upon the world,
And every drop was wine, was heavenly WINE!
Blest be the sod, and blest the flower
On which descended first that shower,
All fresh from Jove's nectareous springs;--
Oh far less sweet the flower, the sod,
O'er which the Spirit of the Rainbow flings
The magic mantle of her solar God!