William Wordsworth

Here you will find the Long Poem Laodamia of poet William Wordsworth


. "With sacrifice before the rising morn
 Vows have I made by fruitless hope inspired;
 And from the infernal Gods, 'mid shades forlorn
 Of night, my slaughtered Lord have I required:
 Celestial pity I again implore;--
 Restore him to my sight--great Jove, restore!"
 So speaking, and by fervent love endowed
 With faith, the Suppliant heavenward lifts her hands;
 While, like the sun emerging from a cloud,
 Her countenance brightens--and her eye expands;
 Her bosom heaves and spreads, her stature grows;
 As she expects the issue in repose.

 O terror! what hath she perceived?--O joy!
 What doth she look on?--whom doth she behold?
 Her Hero slain upon the beach of Troy?
 His vital presence? his corporeal mould?
 It is--if sense deceive her not--'tis He!
 And a God leads him, wingèd Mercury!

 Mild Hermes spake--and touched her with his wand
 That calms all fear; "Such grace hath crowned thy prayer,
 Laodamía! that at Jove's command
 Thy husband walks the paths of upper air:
 He comes to tarry with thee three hours'space;
 Accept the gift, behold him face to face!"

 Forth sprang the impassioned Queen her Lord to clasp;
 Again that consummation she essayed;
 But unsubstantial Form eludes her grasp
 As often as that eager grasp was made.
 The Phantom parts--but parts to re-unite,
 And re-assume his place before her sight.

 "Protesiláus, lo! thy guide is gone!
 Confirm, I pray, the vision with thy voice:
 This is our palace,--yonder is thy throne;
 Speak, and the floor thou tread'st on will rejoice.
 Not to appal me have the gods bestowed
 This precious boon; and blest a sad abode."

 "Great Jove, Laodamía! doth not leave
 His gifts imperfect:--Spectre though I be,
 I am not sent to scare thee or deceive;
 But in reward of thy fidelity.
 And something also did my worth obtain;
 For fearless virtue bringeth boundless gain.

 "Thou knowest, the Delphic oracle foretold
 That the first Greek who touched the Trojan strand
 Should die; but me the threat could not withhold:
 A generous cause a victim did demand;
 And forth I leapt upon the sandy plain;
 A self-devoted chief--by Hector slain."

 "Supreme of Heroes--bravest, noblest, best!
 Thy matchless courage I bewail no more,
 Which then, when tens of thousands were deprest
 By doubt, propelled thee to the fatal shore;
 Thou found'st--and I forgive thee--here thou art--
 A nobler counsellor than my poor heart.

 "But thou, though capable of sternest deed,
 Wert kind as resolute, and good as brave;
 And he, whose power restores thee, hath decreed
 Thou should'st elude the malice of the grave:
 Redundant are thy locks, thy lips as fair
 As when their breath enriched Thessalian air.

 "No spectre greets me,--no vain Shadow this;
 Come, blooming Hero, place thee by my side!
 Give, on this well-known couch, one nuptial kiss
 To me, this day a second time thy bride!"
 Jove frowned in heaven: the conscious Parcæ threw
 Upon those roseate lips a Stygian hue.

 "This visage tells thee that my doom is past:
 Nor should the change be mourned, even if the joys
 Of sense were able to return as fast
 And surely as they vanish. Earth destroys
 Those raptures duly---Erebus disdains:
 Calm pleasures there abide--majestic pains.

 "Be taught, O faithful Consort, to control
 Rebellious passion: for the Gods approve
 The depth, and not the tumult, of the soul;
 A fervent, not ungovernable love.
 Thy transports moderate; and meekly mourn
 When I depart, for brief is my sojourn--"

 "Ah wherefore?--Did not Hercules by force
 Wrest from the guardian monster of the tomb
 Alcestis, a reanimated corse,
 Given back to dwell on earth in vernal bloom?
 Medea's spells dispersed the weight of years,
 And Æson stood a youth 'mid youthful peers.

 "The Gods to us are merciful--and they
 Yet further may relent: for mightier far
 Than strength of nerve and sinew, or the sway
 Of magic potent over sun and star,
 Is love, though oft to agony distrest,
 And though his favourite seat be feeble woman's breast.

 "But if thou goest, I follow--" "Peace!" he said,--
 She looked upon him and was calmed and cheered;
 The ghastly colour from his lips had fled;
 In his deportment, shape, and mien, appeared
 Elysian beauty, melancholy grace,
 Brought from a pensive though a happy place.

 He spake of love, such love as Spirits feel
 In worlds whose course is equable and pure;
 No fears to beat away--no strife to heal--
 The past unsighed for, and the future sure;
 Spake of heroic arts in graver mood
 Revived, with finer harmony pursued;

 Of all that is most beauteous--imaged there
 In happier beauty; more pellucid streams,
 An ampler ether, a diviner air,