Enallos and Cymodameia

A vision came o'er three young men at once,
A vision of Apollo: each had heard
The same command; each followed it; all three
Assembled on one day before the God
In Lycia, where he gave his oracle.
Bright shone the morning; and the birds that build
Their nests beneath the column-heads of fanes
And eaves of humbler habitations, dropt
From under them and wheeled athwart the sky,
When, silently and reverently, the youths
Marcht side by side up the long steps that led
Toward the awful God who dwelt within.
Of those three youths fame hath held fast the name
Of one alone; nor would that name survive
Unless Love had sustain'd it, and blown off
With his impatient breath the mists of time.
" Ye come," the God said mildly, " of one will
To people what is desert in the isle
Of Lemnos. But strong men possess its shores;
Nor shall you execute the brave emprize
Unless, on the third day from going forth,
To him who rules the waters ye devote
A virgin, cast into the sea alive."
They heard, and lookt in one another's face,
And then bent piously before the shrine
With prayer and praises and thanksgiving hymn,
And, after a short silence, went away,
Taking each other's hand and swearing truth,
Then to the ship in which they came, return'd.
Two of the youths were joyous, one was sad;
Sad was Enallos; yet those two by none
Were loved; Enallos had already won
Cymodameia, and the torch was near.
By night, by day, in company, alone,
The imagine of the maiden fill'd his breast
To the heart's brim. Ah! therefore did that heart
So sink within him.
They have sail'd; they reach
Their home again. Sires, matrons, maidens, throng
The plashing port, to watch the gather'd sail,
And who springs first and farthest upon shore.
Enallos came the latest from the deck.
Swift ran the rumour what the God had said,
And fearful were the maidens, who before
Had urged the sailing of the youths they loved,
That they might give their hands, and have their homes,
And nurse their children; and more thoughts perhaps
Led up to these, and even ran before.
But they persuaded easily their wooers
To sail without them, and return again
When they had seiz'd the virgin on the way.
Cymodameia dreamt three nights, the three
Before their fresh departure, that her own
Enallos had been cast into the deep,
And she had saved him. She alone embarkt
Of all the maidens, and unseen by all,
And hid herself before the break of day
Among the cloaks and fruits piled high aboard.
But when the noon was come, and the repast
Was call'd for, there they found her. Not quite stern,
But more than sad, Enallos lookt upon her.
Forebodings shook him: hopes rais'd her , and love
Warm'd the clear cheek while she wiped off the spray.
Kindly were all to her and dutiful;
And she slept soundly mid the leaves of figs
And vines, and far as far could be apart.
Now the third morn had risen, and the day
Was dark, and gusts of wind and hail and fogs
Perplext them: land they saw not yet, nor knew
Where land was lying. Sudden lightnings blaz'd,
Thunder-claps rattled round them. The pale crew
Howled for the victim. " Seize her, or we sink."
O maid of Pindus! I would linger here
To lave my eyelids at the nearest rill,
For thou hast made me weep, as oft thou hast,
Where thou and I, apart from living men,
And two or three crags higher, sate and sang.
Ah! must I, seeing ill my way, proceed?
And thy voice too, Cymodameia! thine
Comes back upon me, helpless as thyself
In this extremity. Sad words! sad words!
" O save me! save! Let me not die so young!
Loving you so! Let me not cease to see you!"
Thou claspedest the youth who would have died
To have done less than save thee. Thus he prayed.
" O God! who givest light to all the world,
Take not from me what makes that light most blessed!
Grant me, if 'tis forbidden me to save
This hapless helpless sea-devoted maid,
To share with her (and bring no curses up
From outraged Neptune) her appointed fate!"
They wrung her from his knee; they hurl'd her down
(Clinging in vain at the hard slippery pitch)
Into the whitening wave. But her long hair
Scarcely had risen up again, before
Another plunge was heard, another form
Clove the straight line of bubbling foam, direct
As ringdove after ringdove. Groans from all
Burst, for the roaring sea ingulpht them both.
Onward the vessel flew; the skies again
Shone bright, and thunder roll'd along, not wroth,
But gently murmuring to the white-wing'd sails.
Lemnos at close of evening was in sight.
The shore was won; the fields markt out; and roofs
Collected the dun wings that seek house-fare;
And presently the ruddy-bosom'd guest
Of winter, knew the doors: then infant cries
Were heard within; and lastly, tottering steps
Pattered along the image-stationed hall,
Ay, three full years had come and gone again,
And often, when the flame on windy nights
Suddenly flicker'd from the mountain-ash
Piled high, men pusht almost from under them
The bench on which they talkt about the dead.
Meanwhile beneficent Apollo saw
With his bright eyes into the sea's calm depth,
And there he saw Enallos, there he saw
Cymodameia. Gravely-gladsome light
Environed them with its eternal green:
And many nymphs sate round: one blew aloud
The spiral shell; one drew bright chords across
Shell more expansive; tenderly a third
With cowering lip hung o'er the flute, and stopt
At will its dulcet sob, or waked to joy;
A fourth took up the lyre and pincht the strings,
Invisible by trembling: many rais'd
Clear voices. Thus they spent their happy hours.
I know them all; but all with eyes downcast,
Conscious of loving, have entreated me
I would not utter now their names above.
Behold, among these natives of the sea
There stands but one young man: how fair! how fond!
Ah! were he fond to them! not be!
Yet did they tend him morn and eve; by night
They also watcht his slumbers: then they heard
His sighs, nor his alone; for there were two
To whom the watch was hateful. In despair
Upward he rais'd his arms, and thus he prayed,
" O Phaebus! on the higher world alone
Showerest thou all thy blessings? Great indeed
Hath been thy favour to me, great to her;
But she pines inly, and calls beautiful
More than herself the Nymphs she sees around,
And asks me " Are they not more beautiful? "
Be all more beautiful, be all more blest,
But not with me! Release her from the sight;
Restore her to a happier home, and dry
With thy pure beams, above, her bitter tears!"
She saw him in the action of his prayer,
Troubled, and ran to soothe him. From the ground,
Ere she had claspt his neck, her feet were borne.
He caught her robe; and its white radiance rose
Rapidly, all day long, through the green sea.
Enallos loost not from that robe his grasp,
But spann'd one ancle too. The swift ascent
Had stunn'd them into slumber, sweet, serene,
Invigorating her, nor letting loose
The lover's arm below; albeit at last
It closed those eyes intensely fixt thereon,
And still as fixt in dreaming. Both were cast
Upon an island till'd by peaceful men
And few (no port nor road accessible)
Fruitful and green as the abode they left,
And warm with summer, warm with love and song.
'Tis said that some, whom most Apollo loves,
Have seen that island, guided by his light;
And others have gone near it, but a fog
Rose up between them and the lofty rocks;
Yet they relate they saw it quite as well,
And shepherd-boys and credulous hinds believe.
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