Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

I had forestalled this dear and deep rebuke,
Ere you with grief had spoke, and I had heard
The course of it so far. There is your crown;
And He that wears the crown immortally
Long guard it yours! If I affect it more,
Than as your honor, and as your renown,
Let me no more from this obedience rise,
Which my most true and inward duteous spirit
Teacheth this prostrate and exterior bending.
Heaven witness with me, when I here came in,
And found no course of breath within your majesty,
How cold it struck my heart !

2. If I do feign,
0, let me in my present wildness die,
And never live to show the incredulous world
The noble change that I have purposéd!
Coming to look on you, thinking you dead
(And dead almost, my liege, to think you were),
I spake unto the crown as having sense,
And thus upbraided it: — The care on thee depending
Hath fed upon the body of my father,
Therefore thou best of gold art worst of gold;
Other, less fine in carat, is more precious,
Preserving life in medicine potable ;*
But thou, most fine, most honored, most renowned.
Hast eat thy bearer up.

3. Thus, royal liege,
Accusing it, I put it on my head, .
To try with it.(as with an enemy,
That had before my face murdered my father)
The quarrel of a true inheritor.
But if it did affect my blood with joy, .
Or swell my thoughts to any strain of pride,
If any rebel or vain spirit of mine
Did with the least affection of a welcome
Give entertainment to the might of it,
Let Heaven forever keep it from my head,
And make me as the poorest vassal is,
That doth with awe and terror kneel to it!

* An opinion long prevailed that gold has medicinal virtues, and that when taken into the system it communicates its own incorruptibility. So current was this belief, that the charlatans of old pretended, among other frauds, to make gold potable.

LESSON CLXVI.

The Paint King. — W. Allston... 1. Fair Ellen was long the delight of the young, No damsel could with her compare ; Her charms were the theme of the heart and the tongue,

And bards without number in ecstasies sung · The beauties of Ellen the fair.

2. Yet cold was the maid"; and, though legions advanced,
All drilled by Ovidean art,
And languished and ogled, protested and danced,
Like shadows they came, and like shadows they glanced
From the hard, polished ice of her heart.

3. Yet still did the heart of fair Ellen implore
A something that could not be found;
Like a sailor she seemed on a desolate shore,
With nor house nor a tree, nor a sound but the roar'
Of breakers high dashing around.

4. From object to object, still, still would she veer,
Though nothing, alas ! could she find;
Like the moon, without atmosphere, brilliant and clear,
Yet doomed, like the moon, with no being to cheer.
The bright barren waste of her mind.

5. But, rather than sit like a statue so still,
When the rain made her mansion a pound,
Up and down would she go, like the sails of a mill,
And pat every stair, like a wood-pecker's bill,
From the tiles of the roof to the ground.

6. One morn, as the maid from her casement inclined;
Passed a youth, with a frame in his hand.
The casement she closed, not the eye of her mind,
For, do all she could, no, she could not be blind;
Still before her she saw the youth stand.

7. “Ah, what can he do ?said the languishing maid “Ah, what with that frame can he do?And she knelt to the goddess of secrets, and prayed, When the youth passed again, and again he displayed The frame and a picture to view.

8. “0, beautiful picture !” the fair Ellen cried, “I must see thee again, or I die.” Then under her chin her white bonnet she tied, And after the youth and the picture she hied, When the youth, looking back, met her eye.

9. “Fair damsel,” said he (and he chuckled the wh; “ This picture, I see, you admire : Then take it, I pray you ; perhaps 't will beguile Some moments of sorrow (nay; pardon my smile), Or at least, keep you home by the fire.”

10. Then Ellen the gift, with delight and surprise, From the cunning young stripling received. But she knew not the poison that entered her eyes, When, sparkling with rapture, they gazed on her prize ; Thus, alas, are fair maidens deceived !

11. ’T was a youth o'er the form of a statue inclined, And the sculptor he seemed of the stone; Yet he languished as though for its beauty he pined, And gazed, as the eyes of the statue so blind Reflected the beams of his own.

12. 'T was the tale of the sculptor Pygmalion * of old, Fair Ellen remembered, and sighed : “Ah, could'st thou but lift from that marble, so cold, Thine eyes too imploring, thine arms should enfold, And press me this day as thy bride."

13. She said : when, behold, from the canvas arose
The youth, and he stepped from the frame,
With a furious transport his arms did enclose
The love-plighted Ellen; and, clasping, he froze i
The blood of the maid with his flame.

14. She turned, and beheld on each shoulder a wing. “O heaven!” cried she, “ who art thou?" From the roof to the ground did his fierce answer ring, As frowning, he thundered, “I am the Paint King ! And mine, lovely maid, thou art now!”

* This was not Pygmalion the brother of Dido, the founder of Carthage, but a celebrated statuary of Cyprus. The licentious conduct of his country-women gave him so great an aversion to the sex, that he resolved never to marry. He afterwards became enamored of a beautiful statue of marble, which he himself had made, and which, according to the mythologists, was changed by Venus, the goddess of beauty, into a woman, whom he married.

+ It is a good rule, that a poet should ever bear in mind, that poetry is, in fact, mental painting; and that no such mixture of metaphors, or of plain and figurative language, can be allowed, as cannot fairly and legitimately be represented to the eye. Mr. Allston, the author of this piece, was one of the most distinguished historical painters of his age; but, how he could picture to his own mind, to say nothing of those of his readers, “a flame" as " freezing," or the means of freezing, cannot easily be seen. If, however, this, and other expressions in the piece, may legitimately be obnoxious to criticism, there are other points about it which make it valuable as an exercise in reading.

15. Then high from the ground did the grim monster lift The loud-screaming maid like a blast; And he sped through the air like a meteor swift, While the clouds, wandering by him, did fearfully drift To the right and the left, as he passed.

16. Now suddenly sloping his hurricane flight, With an eddying whirl he descends; The air all below him becomes black as night, And the ground where he treads, as if moved with affright, Like the surge of the Caspian bends.

17. “I am here!” said the fiend, and he thundering knocked At the gates of a mountainous cave; The gates open flew, as by magic unlocked, While the peaks of the mount, reeling to and fro, rocked Like an island of ice on the wave.

18. "O, mercy!” cried Ellen, and swooned in his arms : But the Paint King, he scoffed at her pain. “Prithee, love," said the monster, “what mean these alarms 2' She hears not, she sees not, the terrible charms That work her to horror again.

19. She opens her lids, but no longer her eyes
Behold the fair youth she would woo :
Now appears the Paint King in his natural guise :
His face like a palette of villainous dyes,
Black and white, red and yellow, and blue.

20. On the skull of a Titan, that Heaven defied,
Sat the fiend like the grim giant Gog,
While aloft to his mouth a huge pipe he applied,
Twice as big as the Eddystone light-house, descried
As it looms through an easterly fog.

21. And anon, as he puffed, the vast volumes were seen,'
In horrid festoons on the wall,
Legs, arms, heads, and bodies, emerging between,
Like the drawing-room grim of a Scotch Sawney Beane,
By cannibals dressed for a ball.

22. “Ah me!” cried the damsel, and fell at his feet,
“Must I hang on these walls to be dried ?" —
“O, no,” said the fiend, while he sprang from his seat;
“A far nobler fortune thy person shall meet;
Into paint will I grind thee, my bride!”

23. Then seizing the maid by her dark auburn hair,
An oil-jug he plunged her within.
Seven days, seven nights, with the shrieks of despair,
Did Ellen in torment convulse the dun air,
All covered with oil to the chin.

24. On the morn of the eighth, on a huge sable stone,
Then Ellen, all reeking, he laid ; -
With a rock for his muller,* he crushed every bone,
But, though ground to jelly, still, still did she groan;
For life had forsook not the maid.

25. Now reaching his palette,f with masterly care,
Each tint on its surface he spread;
The blue of her eyes, and the brown of her hair,
And the pearl and the white of her forehead so fair,
And her lips' and her cheeks' rosy red.

26. Then, stamping his foot, did the monster exclaim,
“Now I brave, cruel fairy, thy scorn!”
When, lo! from a chasm wide-yawning, there came
A light tiny chariot of rose-colored flame,
By a team of ten glow-worms upborne.

27. Enthroned in the midst, on an emerald bright,
Fair Geraldine sat without peer;
Her robe was a gleam of the first blush of light,
And her mantle the fleece of a noon-cloud so white,
And a beam of the moon was her spear.

28. In an accent that stole on the still charméd air,
Like the first gentle language of Eve,
Thus spake from her chariot the fairy so fair :
“I come at thy call, but, oh Paint King, beware,
Beware, if again you deceive."

29. “'T is true," said the monster, “thou queen of my heart, Thy portrait I oft have essayed ; Yet ne'er to the canvas could I with my art The least of thy wonderful beauties impart, And my failure with scorn you repaid.

30. “Now I * * by the light of the Comet King's tail,” And he towered with pride as he spoke, “ If again with these magical colors I fail, The crater of Etna shall hence be my jail, And my food shall be sulphur and smoke.

31. “But if I succeed, then, oh fair Geraldine,
Thy promise with justice I claim,
And thou, queen of fairies, shalt ever be mine, •
The bride of my bed, and thy portrait divine
Shall fill all the earth with my flame."

[ocr errors]

* Muller, a stone used by painters for grinding paint. It is used also by apothecaries for mixing their drugs.

+ An oval board, which painters hold in their hand, on which they inix their paints, as they are wanted, to obtain any particular hue or shade.

« AnteriorContinuar »