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Into his father's hands, who has this night,
You lying close upon his territory,

Slipt round and in the dark invested you,

And here he keeps me hostage for his son.'

The second was my father's running thus: "You have our son touch not a hair of his head: Deliver him up unscathed give him your hand: Cleave to your contract: tho' indeed we hear

You hold the woman is the better man ;

A rampant heresy, such as if it spread

Would make all women kick against their Lords Thro' all the world, and which might well deserve That we this night should pluck your palace down ; And we will do it, unless you send us back

Our son, on the instant, whole.'

So far I read ;

And then stood up and spoke impetuously.

O not to pry and peer on your reserve

But led by golden wishes and a hope

The child of regal compact, did I break
Your precinct; not a seorner of your sex
But venerator, and willing it should be

All that it might be hear me, for I bear,
Tho' man, yet human, whatsoe'er your wrongs,

From the flaxen curl to the gray lock a life

Less mine than yours: my nurse would tell me of you; I babbled for you, as babies for the moon,

Vague brightness; when a boy, you stoop'd to me

From all high places, lived in all fair lights,

Came in long breezes rapt from the inmost south

And blown to the inmost north; at eve and dawn

With Ida, Ida, Ida, rang the woods ;

The leader wildswan in among the stars

Would clang it and lapt in wreaths of glowworm light

The mellow breaker murmur'd Ida. Now,

Because I would have reach'd you, tho' you had been

Sphered up with Cassiopeia, or the enthroned

Persephone in Hades, now at length,

Those winters of abeyance all worn out,
A man I came to see you: but, indeed,
Not in this frequence can I lend full tongue,
O noble Ida, to those thoughts that wait
On you, their centre: let me say but this,
That many a famous man and woman, town
And landskip, have I heard of, after seen

The dwarfs of presage; tho' when known, there grew

Another kind of beauty in detail

Made them worth knowing; but in you I found

Mine old ideal involved and dazzled down

And master'd, while that after-beauty makes
Such head from act to act, from hour to hour,
Within me, that except you slay me here,
According to your bitter statute-book,

I cannot cease to follow you as they say

The seal does music; who desire you more

Than growing boys their manhood; dying lips,
With many thousand matters left to do,

The breath of life; O more than poor men wealth,

Than sick men health-yours, yours, not mine—but half

Without you, with you, whole; and of those halves

You worthiest ; and howe'er you block and bar

Your heart with system out from mine, I hold

That it becomes no man to nurse despair,

But in the teeth of clench'd antagonisms

To follow up the worthiest till he die :
Yet that I came not all unauthorized

Behold your father's letter.'

On one knee

Kneeling, I gave it, which she caught, and dash'd

Unopen'd on the marble: a tide of fierce

Invective seem'd to wait behind her lips,

As waits a river level with the dam

Ready to burst and flood the world with foam :
And so she would have spoken, but there rose
A hubbub in the court of half the maids
Gather'd together; from the illumin'd hall

Long lanes of splendour slanted o'er a press

Of snowy shoulders, thick as herded ewes,

And rainbow robes, and gems and gemlike eyes,

And gold and golden heads; they to and fro
Fluctuated, as flowers in storm, some red, some pale,
All open-mouth'd, all gazing to the light,
Some crying there was an army in the land,
And some that men were in the very walls,
And some they cared not; till a clamour grew
As of a new-world Babel, woman-built,

And worse-confounded: high above them stood
The placid marble Muses, looking peace.

Not peace, she look'd, the Head : but rising up
Robed in the long night of her deep hair, so
To the open window moved, remaining there
Fixt like a beacon-tower above the waves

Of tempest, when the crimson-rolling eye

Glares ruin, and the wild birds on the light

Dash themselves dead. She stretch'd her arms and call'd

Across the tumult and the tumult fell.

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