Ad harmoniam canere mundum.
CICERO "de Nat. Deor." lib. iii.
There lies a shell beneath the waves,
In many a hollow winding wreathed,
Such as of old
Echoed the breath that warbling sea-maids breathed;
This magic shell,
From the white bosom of a syren fell,
As once she wandered by the tide that laves
Sicilia's sands of gold.
Upon its shining side the mystic notes
Of those entrancing airs,
The genii of the deep were wont to swell,
When heaven's eternal orbs their midnight music rolled!
Oh! seek it, wheresoe'er it floats;
And, if the power
Of thrilling numbers to thy soul be dear,
Go, bring the bright shell to my bower,
And I will fold thee in such downy dreams
As lap the Spirit of the Seventh Sphere,
When Luna's distant tone falls faintly on his ear!
And thou shalt own,
That, through the circle of creation's zone,
Where matter slumbers or where spirit beams;
From the pellucid tides, that whirl
The planets through their maze of song,
To the small rill, that weeps along
Murmuring o'er beds of pearl;
From the rich sigh
Of the sun's arrow through an evening sky,
To the faint breath the tuneful osier yields
On Afric's burning fields;
Thou'lt wondering own this universe divine
That I respire in all and all in me,
One mighty mingled soul of boundless harmony.
Welcome, welcome, mystic shell!
Many a star has ceased to burn,
Many a tear has Saturn's urn
O'er the cold bosom of the ocean wept,
Since thy aerial spell
Hath in the waters slept.
Now blest I'll fly
With the bright treasure to my choral sky,
Where she, who waked its early swell,
The Syren of the heavenly choir.
Walks o'er the great string of my Orphic Lyre;
Or guides around the burning pole
The winged chariot of some blissful soul:
Oh son of earth, what dreams shall rise for thee!
Beneath Hispania's sun,
Thou'll see a streamlet run,
Which I've imbued with breathing melody;
And there, when night-winds down the current die,
Thou'lt hear how like a harp its waters sigh:
A liquid chord is every wave that flows,
An airy plectrum every breeze that blows.
There, by that wondrous stream,
Go, lay thy languid brow,
And I will send thee such a godlike dream,
As never blest the slumbers even of him,
Who, many a night, with his primordial lyre,
Sate on the chill Pangaean mount,
And, looking to the orient dim,
Watched the first flowing of that sacred fount,
From which his soul had drunk its fire.
Oh think what visions, in that lonely hour,
Stole o'er his musing breast;
What pious ecstasy
Wafted his prayer to that eternal Power,
Whose seal upon this new-born world imprest
The various forms of bright divinity!
Or, dost thou know what dreams I wove,
Mid the deep horror of that silent bower,
Where the rapt Samian slept his holy slumber?
From every earthly chain,
From wreaths of pleasure and from bonds of pain,
His spirit flew through fields above,
Drank at the source of nature's fontal number,
And saw, in mystic choir, around him move
The stars of song, Heaven's burning minstrelsy!
Such dreams, so heavenly bright,
By the great diadem that twines my hair,
And by the seven gems that sparkle there,
Mingling their beams
In a soft iris of harmonious light,
Oh, mortal! such shall be thy radiant dreams.
* * * * *
I found her not--the chamber seemed
Like some divinely haunted place
Where fairy forms had lately beamed,
And left behind their odorous trace!
It felt as if her lips had shed
A sigh around her, ere she fled,
Which hung, as on a melting lute,
When all the silver chords are mute,
There lingers still a trembling breath
After the note's luxurious death,
A shade of song, a spirit air
Of melodies which had been there.
I saw the veil, which, all the day,
Had floated o'er her cheek of rose;
I saw the couch, where late she lay
In languor of divine repose;
And I could trace the hallowed print
Her limbs had left, as pure and warm,
As if 'twere done in rapture's mint,
And Love himself had stamped the form.
Oh my sweet mistress, where wert thou?
In pity fly not thus from me;
Thou art my life, my essence now,
And my soul dies of wanting thee.