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Poem by Bayard Taylor
Ariel in the Cloven Pine
NOW the frosty stars are gone: I have watched them one by one, Fading on the shores of Dawn. Round and full the glorious sun Walks with level step the spray, Through this vestibule of Day, While the wolves that late did howl Slink to dens and converts foul, Guarded by the demon owl, Who, last night, with mocking croon, Wheeled athwart the chilly moon, And with eyes that blankly glared On my direful torment stared. The lark is flickering in the light; Still he nightingale doth sing;— All the isle, alive with Spring, Lies, a jewel of delight, On the blue sea’s heaving breast; Not a breath from out the west, But some balmy smell doth bring From the sprouting myrtle buds, Or from meadowy vales that lie Like a green inverted sky, Which the yellow cowslip stars, And the bloomy almond woods, Cloud-like, cross with roseate bars. All is life that I can spy, To the farthest sea and sky, And my own the only pain Within this ring of Tyrrhene main. In the gnarled and cloven Pine Where that hell-born hag did chain me, All this orb of cloudless shine, All this youth in Nature’s veins Tingling with the season’s wine, With a sharper torment pain me. Pansies in soft April rains Fill their stalks with honeyed sap Drawn from Earth’s prolific lap; But the sluggish blood she brings To the tough Pine’s hundred rings, Closer locks their cruel hold, Closer draws the scaly bark Round the crevice, damp and cold, Where my useless, damp and cold, Sealing me in iron dark. By this coarse and alien state Is my dainty essence wronged; Finer senses, that belonged To my freedom, chafe at Fate, Till the happier elves I hate, Who in moonlight dances turn Underneath the palmy fern, Or in light and twinkling bands Follow on with linkëd hands To the ocean’s yellow sands. Primrose-eyes each morning ope In their cool, deep beds of grass; Violets make the airs that pass Telltales of their fragrant slope. I can see them where they spring Never brushed by fairy wing. All those corners I can spy In the island’s solitude, Where the dew is never dry, Nor the miser bees intrude. Cups of rarest hue are there, Full of perfumed wine undrained,— Mushroom banquets, ne’er profaned Canopied by maiden-hair. Pearls I see upon the sands, Never touched by other hands, And the rainbow bubbles shine On the ridged and frothy brine, Tenantless of voyager Till they burst in vacant air. Oh, the song that sung might be, And the mazy dances woven, Had that witch ne’er crossed the sea And the Pine been never cloven! Many years my direst pain Has made the wave-rocked isle complain Winds that from the Cyclades Came to blow in wanton riot Round its shore’s enchanted quiet, Bore my wailings on the seas: Sorrowing birds in autumn West Through the world with my lament. Still the bitter fate is mine, All delight unshared to see, Smarting in the cloven Pine, While I wait the tardy axe Which, perchance, shall set me free From the demand witch Sycorax.
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