The Life and Death of Jason

4. BOOK IV.

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The quest begun. The loss of Hylas and Hercules.

BUT through the town few eyes were sealed by sleep
When the sun rose; yea, and the upland sheep
Must guard themselves, for that one morn at least,
Against the wolf; and wary doves may feast
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Unscared that morning on the ripening corn.
Nor did the whetstone touch the scythe that morn;
And all unheeded did the mackerel shoal
Make green the blue waves, or the porpoise roll
Through changing hills and valleys of the sea.
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For 'twixt the thronging people solemnly
The heroes went afoot along the way
That led unto the haven of the bay,
And as they went the roses rained on them
From windows glorious with the well-wrought hem
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Of many a purple cloth; and all their spears
Were twined with blossoms that the fair earth bears;
And round their ladies' token-gifts were set
About their helmets, flowery wreaths, still wet
With beaded dew of the scarce vanished night.
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So as they passed, the young men at the sight
Shouted for joy, and their hearts swelled with pride;
But scarce the elders could behold dry-eyed
The glorious show, remembering well the days
When they were able too to win them praise,
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And in their hearts was hope of days to come.

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Nor could the heroes leave their fathers' home
Unwept of damsels, who henceforth must hold
The empty air unto their bosoms cold,
And make their sweet complainings to the night.
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That heedeth not soft eyes and bosoms white.
And many such an one was there that morn,
Who, with lips parted and grey eyes forlorn,
Stood by the window and forgot to cast
Her gathered flowers as the heroes passed,
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But held them still within her garment's hem,
Though many a winged wish she sent to them.
But on they went, and as the way they trod,
His swelling heart nigh made each man a god;
While dashed their armour to the minstrelsy
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That went before them to the doubtful sea.
THEY passed the streets, they reached the salt-sea bight,
Where lay long Argo by the quay-head white;
With all her gold sun-litten, and ablaze;
Loud cried the heroes, and began to raise
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The song of bossy shield and brazen spear.
And as along the quays they drew a-near,
Faster they strode and faster, till a cry
Again burst from them, and right eagerly
Into swift running did they break at last,
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Till all the wind-swept quay being overpast,
They pressed across the gangway, and filled up
The hollow ship as wine a golden cup.
But Jason, standing by the helmsman's side
High on the poop, lift up his voice and cried:
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Look landward, heroes, once, before ye slip

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The tough well-twisted hawser from the ship,
And set your eager hands to rope or oar;
For now, behold, the king stands on the shore
Beside a new-built altar, while the priests
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Lead up a hecatomb of spotless beasts,
White bulls and coal-black horses, and my sire
Lifts up the barley-cake above the fire;
And in his hand a cup of ruddy gold
King Pelias takes; and now may ye behold
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The broad new-risen sun light up the God,
Who, holding in his hand the crystal rod
That rules the sea, stands by Dædalian art
Above his temple, set right far apart
From other houses, nigh the deep green sea.
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And now, O fellows, from no man but me
These gifts come to the God, that, ere long years
Have drowned our laughter and dried up our tears,
We may behold that glimmering brazen God
Against the sun bear up his crystal rod
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Once more, and once more cast upon this land
This cable, severed by my bloodless brand.
SO spake he, and raised up the glittering steel,
That fell, and seaward straight did Argo reel,
Set free, and smitten by the western breeze,
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And raised herself against the ridgy seas,
With golden eyes turned toward the Colchian land,
Made heedful of wise Tiphys' skilful hand.
But silent sat the heroes by the oar,
Hearkening the sounds borne from the lessening shore;
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The lowing of the doomed and flower-crowned beasts,
The plaintive singing of the ancient priests,

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Mingled with blare of trumpets, and the sound
Of all the many folk that stood around
Altar and temple and its brazen Lord.
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So sat they pondering much and spake no word,
Till all the landward noises died away,
And, midmost now of the green sunny bay,
They heard no sound but washing of the seas
And piping of the following western breeze,
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And heavy measured beating of the oars:
So left the Argo the Thessalian shores.
NOW Neptune, joyful of the sacrifice
Beside the seal and all the gifts of price
That Jason gave him, sent them wind at will,
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And swiftly Argo climbed each changing hill,
And ran through rippling valleys of the sea;
Nor toiled the heroes unmelodiously,
For by the mast sat great Oeager's son,
And through the harp-strings let his fingers run
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Nigh soundless, and with closed lips for a while;
But soon across his face there came a smile,
And his glad voice brake into such a song
That swiftlier sped the eager ship along.
O BITTER sea, tumultuous sea,
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Full many an ill is wrought by thee!
Unto the wasters of the land
Thou holdest out thy wrinkled hand;
And when they leave the conquered town,
Whose black smoke makes thy surges brown,
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Driven betwixt thee and the sun,
As the long day of blood is done,

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From many a league of glittering waves
Thou smilest on them and their slaves.
The thin bright-eyed Phœnician
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Thou drawest to thy waters wan:
With ruddy eve and golden morn
Thou temptest him, until, forlorn,
Unburied, under alien skies,
Cast up ashore his body lies.
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Yea, whoso sees thee from his door,
Must ever long for more and more;
Nor will the beechen bowl suffice,
Or homespun robe of little price,
Or hood well-woven of the fleece
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Undyed, or unspiced wine of Greece;
So sore his heart is set upon
Purple, and gold, and cinnamon;
For as thou cravest, so he craves,
Until he rolls beneath thy waves.
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Nor in some landlocked unknown bay
Can satiate thee for one day.
Now, therefore, O thou bitter sea,
With no long words we pray to thee,
But ask thee, hast thou felt before
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Such strokes of the long ashen oar?
And hast thou yet seen such a prow
Thy rich and niggard waters plough?
Nor yet, O sea, shall thou be cursed,
If at thy hands we gain the worst,
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And, wrapt in water, roll about
Blind-eyed, unheeding song or shout,
Within thine eddies far from shore,
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Warmed by no sunlight any more.
Therefore, indeed, we joy in thee,
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And praise thy greatness, and will we
Take at thy hands both good and ill,
Yea, what thou wilt, and praise thee still,
Enduring not to sit at home,
And wait until the last days come,
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When we no more may care to hold
White bosoms under crowns of gold,
And our dulled hearts no longer are
Stirred by the clangorous noise of war,
And hope within our souls is dead,
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And no joy is remembered.
So, if thou hast a mind to slay,
Fair prize thou hast of us to-day;
And if thou hast a mind to save,
Great praise and honour shalt thou have:
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But whatso thou wilt do with us,
Our end shall not be piteous,
Because our memories shall live
When folk forget the way to drive
The black keel through the heaped-up sea,
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And half dried up thy waters be.
THEN shouted all the heroes, and they drove
The good ship forth, so that the birds above,
With long white wings, scarce flew so fast as they.
And so they laboured well-nigh all the day,
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And ever in their ears divine words rung,
For 'midmost of them still the Thracian sung
Stories of Gods and men; the bitter life
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Pandora brought to luckless men; the strife
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The theft of Bacchus, and the wondrous birth
Of golden Venus. Natheless, when the sun
To fall adown the heavens had now begun,
They trimmed the sails, and drew the long oars up,
And, having poured wine from a golden cup
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Unto the Gods, gladdened their hearts with food;
Then, having feasted as they thought it good,
Set hands upon the oars again, and so
Toiled on, until the broad sun, growing low,
Reddened the green sea; then they held their hands
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Till he should come again from unknown lands,
And fell to meat again, and sat so long
Over the wine-cups, cheered with tale and song,
That night fell on them, and the moon rose high,
And the fair western wind began to die,
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Though to the eastward still they drifted on;
Then for all others waking-tide was done,
Save Tiphys and the leader of the rest,
Who watched till drew the round moon to the west,
And Jason could behold beneath her light,
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Far off at first, a little speck of white,
Which, as the grey dawn stole across the sea,
And the wind freshened, grew at last to be
Grey rocks and great, and when they nigher drew,
The skilful helmsman past all doubting knew
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The land of Lemnos; therefore from their sleep
They roused their fellows, bidding them to keep
The good ship from that evil rocky shore.
So each man set his hand unto the oar,
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And, striking sail, along the coast they crept,
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Till the sun rose, and birds no longer slept;
Then as they went they saw a sandy beach
Under the cliff, that no high wave could reach,
And in the rock a deep cave cut, whereby
A man was standing, gazing earnestly
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Upon their ship, and shouting words that, tost
Hither and thither by the wind, were lost
Amid the tumbling of the ridgy sea:
Natheless, they deemed that sore he prayed to be
Their fellow, and to leave those rocky shores;
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Therefore, with backing of the ashen oars,
They stayed the ship, and beckoned unto him
To try the sea, if so be he could swim;
Because, indeed, they doubted there might be
A-nigh the place some hidden enemy;
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Nor cared they much to trust their oaken keel
Too near those rocks, as deadly as the steel,
That lay upon their lee; but with a shout
He sprang into the sea, and beat about
The waters bravely, till he reached the ship;
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And clambering up, let the salt water drip
From off his naked limbs, nor spoke he aught
Until before the fair prince he was brought.
But Jason, when he set his eyes on him,
And saw him famished and so gaunt of limb,
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Bade them to give him food and wine enow
Before he told his tale; and still to row
Along the high cliffs eastward, nor to stay
For town or tower, or haven or deep bay,
So then being clothed and fed, the island man
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Came back to Jason, and his tale began:
O LORD, or Prince, or whatso name thou hast,
Great thanks I give thee; let the past be past,
Nor ask my name; for surely ere this day
Both name, and house, and friends have past away.
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A Lemnian am I, who within the town
Had a fair house, and on the thymy down
Full many a head of sheep; and I had too
A daughter, old enough for men to woo,
A wife and three fair sons; of whom the first
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For love and gold had now begun to thirst:
Full rich I was, and led a pleasant life,
Nor did I long for more, or doubt for strife.
Know that in Lemnos were the Gods well served,
And duly all their awful rites observed,
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Save only that no temple Venus had,
And from no altars was her heart made glad;
Wherefore for us she wove a bitter fate,
For by her power she set an evil hate
Of man, like madness, in each woman's heart,
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And heavy sleep on us men, for our part,
From which few woke, or woke in time to feel
Against their throats the pitiless sharp steel.
But that there might be one to tell the thing,
Nigh dawn I woke, and turning, thought to cling
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Unto the warm side of my well-loved wife,
But found nought there but a keen two-edged knife.
So, wondering much, I gat me from the bed,
And going thence, found all the floor be-bled
In my son's sleeping place, and nigh the door
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His body, hacked and hewn, upon the floor:
Naked he was, but in his clenched right hand
Held tufts of woman's hair. Then did I stand
As in a dream a man stands, when draws nigh
The thing he fears with such wild agony,
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Yet dares not flee from; but the golden sun
Came forth at last, and daylight was begun;
Then trembling I took heart to leave at last
The lonely house, but, as I slowly passed
Into the porch, a dreadful noise I heard,
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Nor shall I be again by aught so feared,
How long soe'er I live, as I was then,
Because that shout was worse than cries of men
Drunken with blood; but yet as in a dream
I went to meet it, and heard many a scream
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From dying men; but, as I gained the street,
Men flying for their dear lives did I meet,
And turned and fled with them, I knew not why,
But looking back in running, could espy,
With shrinking horror, what kept up the chase.
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Because, indeed, the old familiar place,
From house-wall unto house-wall, was now filled
With frantic women, whose thin voices shrilled
With unknown war-cries; little did they heed,
If as they tore along, their flesh did bleed,
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So that some man were slain, nor feared they now
If they each other smote with spear or bow,
For all were armed in some sort, and had set
On head or breast what armour they might get;
And some were naked else, and some were clad
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In such-like raiment as the slain men had,

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And some, their kirtles were looped up or rent.
So ever at us shafts and spears they sent,
And through the street came on like a huge wave,
Until at last against the gates they drave,
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And we gained on them, till some two or three,
As still the others strove confusedly,
Burst from the press, and heading all the rest,
Ran mightily, and the last men, hard pressed,
Turned round upon them, and straightway were slain,
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Unarmed and faint, and 'gan the crowd to gain
Upon the fleeing men, till one by one
They fell, and looked their last upon the sun,
And I alone was held in chase, until
I reached the top of a high thymy hill
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Above the sea, bleeding from arm and back,
Wherein two huntsmen's arrows lightly stack,
Shot by no practised hands; but nigh my death
I was indeed, empty of hope and breath.
Yet, ere their changed hands could be laid on me,
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I threw myself into the boiling sea,
And they turned back, nor doubted I was dead;
But I, though fearing much to show my head,
Got me by swimming to yon little beach,
And scarce the cavern's mouth made shift to reach,
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And lay there fainting till the sun was high.
Then I awoke, and rising fearfully,
Gat into the dark cave, and there have been,
How long I know not, and no man have seen;
And as for food and drink, within the cave
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Good store of sweet clear water did I have,
And in the nights I went along the strand

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And got me shell-fish whiles, and whiles laid hand
On seafowls' eggs; but natheless, misery
Must soon have slain me, had not the kind sea
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Sent you, O lords, to give me life again;
Therefore, I pray ye may not wish in vain
For aught, and that with goods and happiness
The Father of all folk your lives may bless.
THEN said the prince: And be thou strong of heart,
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For after all thy woes, shalt thou have part
In this our quest, if so thou willest it;
But if so be that thou wouldst rather sit
In rest and peace within a fair homestead,
That shall some king give to thee by my head,
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For love of me; or else for very fear
Shall some man give thee what thou countest dear.
And if thou askest of us, know that we
Are children of the conquering Minyæ,
And make for Colchis o'er the watery plain,
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And think we shall not fail to bring again
The Fleece of Neptune's ram to Thessaly.
Prince, said the Lemnian, I will go with thee
Whereso thou willest, neither have I will
To wait again for ruin, sitting still
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Among such goods as grudging fate will give,
Even at the longest, only while I live.
Then Jason bade them bring him arms well wrought
And robes of price; and when all these were brought,
And he was armed, he seemed a goodly man.
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MEANWHILE, along the high cliffs Argo ran
Until a fresh land-wind began to rise
Then did they set sail, and in goodly wise
Draw off from Lemnos, and at close of day
Again before them a new country lay,
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Which when they neared, the helmsman Tiphys knew
To be the Mysian land; being come thereto,
They saw a grassy shore and trees enow,
And a sweet stream that from the land did flow:
Therefore they thought it good to land thereon
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And get them water; but the day being gone,
They waited for the dawn anigh the beach,
Till the sea's rim the golden sun did reach.
But when the day dawned, most men left the ship,
Some hasting the glazed water-jars to dip
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In the fresh water; others among these
Who had good will beneath the murmuring trees
To sit awhile, forgetful of the sea.
And with the sea-farers there landed three
Amongst the best; Alcmena's godlike son,
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Hylas the fair, and that half-halting one,
Great Polyphemus. Now both Hercules
And all the others lay beneath the trees,
When all the jars were filled, nor wandered far;
But Hylas, governed by some wayward star,
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Strayed from them, and up stream he set his face,
And came unto a tangled woody place,
From when the stream welled, and within that wood
Along its bank wandered in heedless mood,
Nor knew it haunted of the sea-nymphs fair;
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Whom on that morn the heroes’ noise did scare

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From their abiding-place anigh the bay;
But these now hidden in the water lay'
Within the wood, and thence could they behold
The fair-limbed Hylas, with his hair of gold,
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And mighty arms down-swinging carelessly,
And fresh face, ruddy from the wind-swept sea;
Then straight they loved him, and being fain to have
His shapely body in the glassy wave,
And taking counsel there, they thought it good
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That one should meet him in the darksome wood,
And by her wiles should draw him to some place
Where they his helpless body might embrace,
So from the water stole a fair nymph forth;
And by her art so wrought that from the north
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You would have thought her come, from where a queen
Rules over lands summer alone sees green;
For she in goodly raiment, furred, was clad,
And on her head a golden fillet had,
Strange of its fashion, and about her shone
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Many a fair jewel and outlandish stone.
There in the wood, anigh the river side,
The coming of the Theban did she bide,
Nor waited long, for slowly pushing through
The close-set saplings, o'er the flowers blue
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He drew nigh, singing, free from any care;
But when he saw her glittering raiment fair
Betwixt the green tree-trunks, he stayed a space,
For she, with fair hands covering up her face,
Was wailing loud, as though she saw him not,
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And to his mind came old tales half forgot,
Of women of the woods, the huntsman's bane.
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Yet with his fate indeed he strove in vain;
For going further forward warily,
From tree-trunk unto tree-trunk, he could see
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Her ivory hands, with wrist set close to wrist,
Her cheek as fair as any God has kissed,
Her lovely neck and wealth of golden hair,
That from its fillet straggled here and there,
And all her body writhing in distress,
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Wrapped in the bright folds of her golden dress.
Then forthwith he drew near her eagerly,
Nor did she seem to know that he was nigh,
Until almost his hand on her was laid;
Then, lifting up a pale wild face, she said,
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Struggling with sobs and shrinking from his hand:
O, fair young warrior of a happy land,
Harm not a queen, I pray thee, for I come
From the far northland, where yet sits at home
The king, my father, who, since I was wooed
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By a rich lord of Greece, had thought it good
To send me to him with a royal train,
But they, their hearts being changed by hope of gain,
Seized on my goods, and left me while I slept;
Nor do I know, indeed, what kind God kept
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Their traitorous hands from slaying me outright;
And surely yet, the lion-haunted night
Shall make an end of me, who erewhile thought
That unto lovelier lands my soul was brought,
To live a happier life than heretofore.
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But why think I of past times any more,
Who, a king's daughter once, am now grown fain
Of poorest living, through all toil and pain,
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If so I may but live: and thou, indeed,
Perchance art come, some God, unto my need;
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For nothing less thou seemest, verily.
But if thou art a man, let me not die,
But take me as thy slave, that I may live.
For many a gem my raiment has to give,
And these weak fingers surely yet may learn
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To turn the mill, and carry forth the urn
Unto the stream, nor shall nay feet unshod,
Shrink from the flinty road and thistly sod.
SHE ceased; but he stooped down, and stammering said:
Mayst thou be happy, O most lovely maid,
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And thy sweet life yet know a better day:
And I will strive to bring thee on thy way,
Who am the well-loved son of a rich man
Who dwells in Thebes, beside Ismenus wan.
Therewith he reached his hand to her, and she
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Let her slim palm fall in it daintily;
But with that touch he felt as through his blood
Strange fire ran, and saw not the close wood,
Nor tangled path, nor stream, nor aught but her
Crouching before him in her gold and fur,
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With kind appealing eyes raised up to his,
And red lips trembling for the coming kiss.
But ere his lips met hers did she arise,
Reddening with shame, and from before his eyes
Drew her white hand, wherewith the robe of gold
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She gathered up and from her feet did hold,
Then through the tangled wood began to go,
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Not looking round; but he cared not to know
Whither they went, so only she were nigh.
So to her side he hurried fearfully,
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She nought gainsaying, but with eyes downcast
Still by his side betwixt the low boughs past,
Following the stream, until a space of green
All bare of trees they reached, and there-between
The river ran, grown broad and like a pool,
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Along whose bank a flickering shade and cool,
Grey willows made, and all about they heard
The warble of the small brown river-bird.
And from both stream and banks rose up a haze
Quivering and glassy; for of summer days
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This was the chiefest day and crown of all.
There did the damsel let her long skirts fall
Over her feet, but as her hand dropped down,
She felt it stopped by Hylas' fingers brown,
Whereat she trembled and began to go
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Across the flowery grass with footsteps slow,
As though she grew aweary, and she said,
Turning about her fair and glorious head:
Soft is the air in your land certainly,
But under foot the way is rough and dry
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Unto such feet as mine, more used to feel
The dainty stirrup wrought of gold and steel,
Or tread upon the white bear's fell, or pass
In spring and summer o'er such flowery grass
As this, that soothly mindeth me too much
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Of that my worshipped feet were wont to touch,
When I was called a queen; let us not haste
To leave this sweet place for the tangled waste,
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I pray thee therefore prince, but let us lie
Beneath these willows while the wind goes by,
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And set our hearts to think of happy things,
Before the morrow pain and trouble brings.
She faltered somewhat as she spoke, but he
Drew up before her and took lovingly
Her other hand, nor spoke she more to him,
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Nor he to her awhile, till from the rim
Of his great shield broke off the leathern band
That crossed his breast, whether some demon's hand
Snapped it unseen, or some sharp rugged bough
Within the wood had chafed it even now;
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But clattering fell the buckler to the ground,
And, startled at the noise, he turned him round.
Then, grown all bold within that little space,
He set his cheek unto her blushing face,
And smiling, in a low voice said: O sweet,
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Call it an omen that this, nowise meet
For deeds of love, has left me by its will,
And now by mine these toys that cumber still
My arms shall leave me. And therewith he threw
His brass-bound spear upon the grass, and drew
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The Theban blade from out its ivory sheath,
And loosed his broad belt's clasp, that like a wreath
His father's Indian serving-man had wrought,
And cast his steel coat off, from Persia brought;
And so at last being freed of brass and steel,
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Upon his breast he laid her hand to feel
The softness of the fine Phœenician stuff
That clad it still, nor yet could toy enough
With that fair hand; so played they for a space,
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Till softly did she draw him to a place
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Anigh the stream, and they being set, he said:
And what dost thou, O love? art thou afraid
To cast thine armour off, as I have done,
Within this covert where the fiery sun
Scarce strikes upon one jewel of thy gown?
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Then she spake, reddening, with her eyes cast down
O prince, behold me as I am to-day,
But if o'er many a rough and weary way
It hap unto us both at last to come
Unto the happy place that is thine home,
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Then let me be as women of thy land
When they before the sea-born goddess stand,
And not one flower hides them from her sight.
But with that word she set her fingers white
Upon her belt, and he said amorously:
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Ah, God, whatso thou wilt must surely be,
But would that I might die or be asleep
Till we have gone across the barren deep,
And you and I together, hand in hand,
Some day ere sunrise lights the quiet land,
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Behold once more the seven fair-gleaming gates.
O love, she said, and such a fair time waits
Both thee and me; but now to give thee rest
Here in the noontide, were it not the best
To soothe thee with some gentle murmuring song,
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Sung to such notes as to our folk belong;
Such as my maids awhile ago would sing
When on my bed a-nights I lay waking?
Sing on, he said, but let me dream of bliss
If I should sleep, nor yet forget thy kiss.
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She touched his lips with hers, and then began
A sweet song sung not yet to any man.
I KNOW a little garden-close
Set thick with lily and red rose,
Where I would wander if I might
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From dewy dawn to dewy night,
And have one with me wandering.
And though within it no birds sing,
And though no pillared house is there,
And though the apple boughs are bare
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Of fruit and blossom, would to God,
Her feet upon the green grass trod,
And I beheld them as before.
There comes a murmur from the shore,
And in the place two fair streams are,
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Drawn from the purple hills afar,
Drawn down unto the restless sea;
The hills whose flowers ne'er fed the bee,
The shore no ship has ever seen,
Still beaten by the billows green,
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Whose murmur comes unceasingly
Unto the place for which I cry.
For which I cry both day and night,
For which I let slip all delight,
That maketh me both deaf and blind,
600
Careless to win, unskilled to find,
And quick to lose what all men seek.
Yet tottering as I am, and weak,
Still have I left a little breath
To seek within the jaws of death
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605
An entrance to that happy place
To seek the unforgotten face
Once seen, once kissed, once reft from me
Anigh the murmuring of the sea.
She ceased her song, that lower for a while
610
And slower too had grown, and a soft smile
Grew up within her eyes as still she sung.
Then she rose up, and over Hylas hung,
For now he slept; wherewith the God in her
Consumed the northern robe done round with fur
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That hid her beauty, and the light west wind
Played with her hair no fillet now did bind,
And through her faint grey garment her limbs seemed
Like ivory in the sea, and the sun gleamed
In the strange gems about her middle sweet,
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And in the jewelled sandals on her feet.
So stood she murmuring, till a rippling sound
She heard, that grew until she turned her round
And saw her other sisters of the deep
Her song had called while Hylas yet did sleep,
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Come swimming in a long line up the stream,
And their white dripping arms and shoulders gleam
Above the dark grey water as they went,
And still before them a great ripple sent.
But when they saw her, toward the bank they drew,
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And landing, felt the grass and flowers blue
Against their unused feet; then in a ring
Stood gazing with wide eyes, and wondering
At all his beauty they desired so much.
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And then with gentle hands began to touch
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His hair, his hands, his closed eyes; and at last
Their eager naked arms about him cast,
And bore him, sleeping still, as by some spell,
Unto the depths where they were wont to dwell;
Then softly down the reedy bank they slid,
640
And with small noise the gurgling river hid
The flushed nymphs and the heedless sleeping man.
But ere the water covered them, one ran
Across the mead and caught up from the ground
The brass-bound spear, and buckler bossed and round,
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The ivory-hilted sword, and coat of mail,
Then took the stream; so what might tell the tale,
Unless the wind should tell it, or the bird
Who from the reed these things had seen and heard?
MEANWHILE, the ship being watered, and the day
650
Now growing late, the prince would fain away;
So from the ship was blown a horn to call
The stragglers back, who mustered one and all,
Save Theban Hylas; therefore, when they knew
That he was missing, Hercules withdrew
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From out the throng, if yet perchance his voice
Hylas might hear, and all their hearts rejoice
With shout well-known in answer thereunto:
With him must Polyphemus likewise go,
To work out the wise counsel of the fates:
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Unhappy! who no more would see the gates
Of white-wailed fair Larissa, or the plain
Burdened by many an overladen wain.
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FOR while their cries and shouts rang through the wood,
The others reached the ship, and thought it good
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To weigh the anchor, and anigh the shore,
With loosened sail, and run-out ready oar,
To trim the ship for leaving the fair bay;
And therefore, Juno, waiting for that day,
And for that hour, had gathered store of wind
670
Up in the hills to work out all her mind,
Which, from the Mysian mountains now let slip,
Tearing along the low shore, smote the ship
In blinding clouds of salt spray mixed with rain.
Then vainly they struck sail, and all in vain
675
The rowers strove to keep her head to wind,
And still they drifted seaward, drenched and blind.
BUT, 'mid their struggling, suddenly there shone
A light from Argo's high prow, and thereon
Could their astonished fearful eyes behold
680
A figure standing, with wide wings of gold,
Upright, amid the weltering of the sea,
Calm 'midst the noise and cries, and presently
To all their ears a voice pierced, saying: No more,
O Jove-blessed heroes, strive to reach the shore,
685
Nor seek your lost companions; for of these
Jove gives you not the mighty Hercules
To help you forward on your happy way,
But wills him in the Greek land still to stay;
Where many a thing he has for him to do,
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With whom awhile shall Polyphemus go,
Then build in Mysia a fair merchant-town,
And when long years have passed, there lay him down:
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And as for Hylas, never think to see
His body more, who yet lies happily
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Beneath the green stream where ye were this morn,
And there he praises Jove that he was born,
Forgetting the rough world, and every care;
Not 'dead, nor living, among faces fair,
White limbs, and wonders of the watery world.
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And now I bid ye spread the sail ye furled,
And make on towards the straits while Juno sends
Fair wind behind you, calling you her friends.
THEREWITH the voice ceased, and the storm was still,
And afterward they had good wind at will,
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To help them toward the straits, but all the rest,
Rejoicing at the speeding of their quest,
Yet wondered much whence that strange figure came,
That on the prow burnt like a harmless flame;
Yea, some must go and touch the empty space
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From whence those words flew from the godlike face;
But Jason and the builder, Argus, knew
Whereby the prow foretold things strange and new,
Nor wondered aught, but thanked the Gods therefore,
As far astern they left the Mysian shore. Notes Book IV


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