« PreviousContinue »
THE DIVINING CUP.
BY THE AUTHOR OF FESTUS.'
• Tyrannus exul, moribundus, filium adloquitur.'
• Is not this the cup in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth ?'— Gen. xl. 6.
RE the shadows of time overstep me too fast;
Bring thou forth from the shrine where it bideth alone,
The cup of the kingdom that once was our own.
For 'tis linked with the life that still breatnes through my breast;
And in hap, good or ill, with my race shall it rest;
It descended to me. I transmit it-to whom?
Thou, if last of our line, hold it thine in the tomb.
'Tis the cup of our fate, child; far, far, from the east,
Kings brought it-our fathers-ere magic had ceased.
Lo! the concave all studded with jewels star-bright,
Each gem* to the orb of its consecrate light.
Here, the horoscope mark of the head of our race;
There, the road of the gods † to their heavenly place:
Here, the sun's living belt past and future unite,
While the wine is as, what? in this globelet of light.
'Tis the cup of our sires; see there, round the rim,
The dates of our lineage, distant and dim.
There is room for one other;—I leave that for thee;
But in mercy, sweet son, mark thou nothing for me.
For the crown of destruction was wrought for my brow;
And the sceptre of ages is wrung from us now;
And the star of our destiny darkens for aye
As it sets in the dawn of thy desolate day.
In this globelet of gold I now poise in my hand,
Let the wine, dearest son, with the lip level stand;
So shall memory fill, from the fountain of truth-
My mind with the years, the bright years of my youth.
With the wine-blood it loves, my fair son, fill it high;
Let it shine like the star-cup † that shines in the sky;
While for thee I unloose, ere my spirit depart,
All the whirlwind that raves round the clefts of my heart.
According to the Orphic and other systems these were, to Saturn, Carbuncle and Sapphire; to Jupiter, Sapphire and Amethyst; to Mars, Diamond and Ruby; to the Sun, Topaz and Carbuncle; to Venus, Emerald and Jasper ; to Mercury, Chrysolith and Agate; to the Moon, Crystal and Selenite.
† Hâc iter est superis ad magni tecta Tonantis,
Regalemque domum.'-OVID. Met. i. 60.
The constellation Crater,' in Hydra.
VOL. II.NO. XI.
'Tis the cup of prediction; nor vainly it spoke;
Ah! who can escape from the fate they invoke ?
This goblet, forgotten through many a reign,
I brought back to use, though to use were profane.
For an ancient enchantment in soothsaying verse,
'Twas here graven-denounced on its owner a curse,
If for joy filled, or triumph; at festival placed,
Or for aught save divining :—that curse I erased.
But a ban, in abeyance though never so long,
Still works; retribution writes ruin for wrong.
On the day when betrothal first brought me my bride;
On the day when she first stepped, a Queen, by my side;
In the hour when thou first to my longing wast given;
I pledged in this goblet each earnest of Heaven.
Little thought I, elate, 'mid the banquet of kings,
I should lose, e'er, or ruin those dearest of things.
'Tis the cup of temptation; men told me my throne
Stood firm as my father's: I held it thine own.
I was proud of my heir; my dominions; nor wist
They would fade from his grasp, as a mountainous mist.
I had wealth, I had love; I had honour and fame:
They have left me their value in full—'twas a name;
A name that now seeks in all silence its home,
As a wave dies at sea; dies in luminous foam.
We were kings; we had realms; fought for greater, and won:
And high flowed the feast when the foe was fordone.
In this goblet of gold, as the hall it went round,
Was the pride of a people and dynasty drowned.
It was drowned; but years after, it rose from its grave,
Like the seed of the lily, though whelmed 'neath the wave.
We fell; oh! this fortune's a passable thing;
But it's fate that's eternal, and worthy a king.
'Tis the cup of my passion; when cast down to earth;
When hurled from the God-given land of my birth;
As I rushed, in despair, to the succouring sea,
'Twas a slave of my house saved me this,—saved me thee.
While the yell of the million still harrowed mine ear;
While the sack—and the burning-slew all I held dear;
While I saw-but it means not; this soon will be thine,
Sole and silent,-nay, drink! 'tis my funeral wine.
And the blind-headed multitude dreamed for an hour,
That the mantle they mocked was the pall of all power;
And the thoughts of their hearts shot up, sanguine and high,
Like the night's flaring streamers of ominous dye.
And the kings of the earth shook, astounded to see;
But the hands that moved empires were moveless for me.
Yet neither should kings—the gods cannot-forget,
That we all rose together,-together, we set.
'Tis the cup of repentance. He ne'er can restore,
Who unhallows. Boy, grave thou the curse as before.
If the thought of a crown the usurper now wears,
Ever rise on thy soul, shroud it o'er with thy prayers.
Should our rebels e'er sue thee some grace to impart,
Oh! forgive. Their elect hath his heel on their heart.
If neither, nor ever,--that spell still restore;
With the threat Fate may yet be content, as of yore.
'Tis the cup of thy future. Could I, to thy gaze,
Fling back the dark gates of Time's on-coming days,
Thou wouldst find in these words, as the lees of my life,
A prediction more sure—for with sorrow more rife-
Than in all the weird emblems, moon, mountain, and tree,
Star, wood, rose, or serpent, here wizard might see.
Still, though evil o'ercome, be not hopeless of soul;
In the cup of creation ILL peers o'er the pole.*
'Tis the cup of my life: I have drained it at last;
And the spirit prophetic drinks deep of the past.
'Tis the cup of my life; shall I crown it again,
In its mystical mirror some sign to attain ?
Ah! no ;—though I called on the stars by their name,
Knew I whither they wend, knew I wherefore they came;
In the scroll of the future man vainly divines
The Creator's unseen but indelible lines.
For the danger that's nearest he never can tell;
And the world reapeth ill where the soul soweth well;
And the cup of divining shall fall from his hand,
Ere he learn what he lives for-his fate to command.
'Tis the cup then of doom. If I drink of it yet,
'Tis to teach thee what knowing, that known, to forget.
'Tis my woe, that my woe is not perfectly mine;
I have trodden the grape; we both drink of the wine.
'Tis the cup of my death, child. The ends of the world,
As the banners of war round the vanquished are furled,
Float low o'er my spirit: eyes fail while I speak;
And my tongue, as the tongue of an echo, is weak.
Lift my hand to thy lips. Let me feel, ere I fall,
Thou hast loved me, my darling, my blessing, my all.
For of all that came down from our fathers of old,
There is nothing now thine but this goblet of gold. * An allegorical allusion to the Draconic constellation in the pole of the world. VOL, II, NO. XI.
DREAMING LOVE AND WAKING DUTY.
• Othello. But there, where I have garnered up my heart;
Where either I must live, or bear no life;
The fountain from the which my current runs,
Or else dries up, to be discarded thence !
Iago. Beware, my lord, of jealousy.'
• Our life is twofold : sleep hath its own world.'
THE DREAM, BY LORD BYROX.
Wedded thus, she moves unswerving;
Bids her nature to forget;
All her present spends in nerving
All her future 'gainst regret.
And if she have read her story
Written of another name,
Say not that her transitory
Sleeping sigh is due to shame.
Start not, husband, from her mutterings;
Frown not at her gentle tone;
Trust her wifely, wakeful utterings
Are of truth and thee alone.
Little cause is there for shrinking:
If thy chalice poisoned seem,
Take the antidote of thinking
That thy rival is a dream.
THE LAST OF THE GREAT INTERNATIONAL. N Saturday, the first of Novem the western limit of the Strand pro
per-on thus far, and I have not wandering in the fog, like some un seen a friendly spectre to speak to. easy spectre that had got a half-holi I have not been spoken to, save, inday, and did not know how to spend deed, by the human spider near it. I had left off groaning and clank Exeter Hall, who has twice invited ing my chains for the day and for me to walk in and have my photothe week, and had come out to meet, graph taken. Why does he not ask and hold friendly converse with, me to walk in and have my head other spectres that had similarly dis shaved or my throat cut? What is burdened themselves. But on this the matter with the Strand to-day? particular Saturday I do not en Usually on a Saturday afternoon I counter a single known face. I wan cannot walk the length of three der on and on, from St. Clement's shops without meeting some one to to St. Mary-le-Strand; on to the fish stop and have a few minutes' gossip shop, where hangs the portrait of a with-to-day I meet no one. I look popular dramatist, enshrined in a in at the clubs-yes; there are clubs frame of lobsters, and crowned with in the Strand, magnificent, palatial endive—the popular dramatist appa- places, with marble pillars and gilt rently turning up his nose at a rather cornices, where the members never fat leg of mutton; on to the um drink anything but champagne, and brella-shop, where the proprietor make a rule of blackballing all dukes, pops out upon you suddenly, and marquises, and bishops-and I find suggests comparison between him the gorgeous saloons deserted-deself and the head of Punch, which serted by all save the Bore. There adorns one of his sticks; on to that he sits solus, patiently waiting for seductive corner where you are in an opportunity to be disquisitive on vited to partake of a sandwich and a the American war, or the revolution bumper of burgundy' for four in Greece, or the rate of discount, or pence, and where you invariably say, anything else, confound him. No, * No, thank you, I'd rather not;' on no, I am not going to be caught by to the lamps which mock you with his poor chaff, miserable as I am. I the idea of a dairy ever having ex withdraw my head from the door isted in the Strand; on to that great like a flash of lightning, for fear that gap in the pavement, with a family he should see me, and pounce upon tea-shop straight ahead, where you me, and make my life a torment unto invariably feel that you have reached me for the rest of that dreary day.