Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. IV. Wordsworth to Rossetti
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. IV. The Nineteenth Century: Wordsworth to Rossetti
Extracts from Rhododaphne: The Vengeance of Bacchus
By Thomas Love Peacock (1785–1866)
  BACCHUS by the lonely ocean
Stood in youthful semblance fair:
Summer winds, with gentle motion,
Waved his black and curling hair.
Streaming from his manly shoulders        5
Robes of gold and purple dye
Told of spoil to fierce beholders
In their black ship sailing by.
On the vessel’s deck they placed him
Strongly bound in triple bands;        10
But the iron rings that braced him
Melted, wax-like from his hands.
Then the pilot spake in terror:
  ‘’Tis a god in mortal form!
Seek the land; repair your error        15
Ere his wrath invoke the storm.’
  ‘Silence!’ cried the frowning master,
‘Mind the helm, the breeze is fair:
Coward! cease to bode disaster:
Leave to men the captive’s care.’        20
While he speaks, and fiercely tightens
In the full free breeze the sail,
From the deck wine bubbling lightens,
Winy fragrance fills the gale.
Gurgling in ambrosial lustre        25
Flows the purple-eddying wine:
O’er the yard-arms trail and cluster
Tendrils of the mantling vine:
Grapes, beneath the broad leaves springing,
Blushing as in vintage-hours,        30
Droop, while round the tall mast clinging
Ivy twines its buds and flowers,
Fast with graceful berries blackening:—
Garlands hang on every oar:
Then in fear the cordage slackening,        35
One and all, they cry, ‘To shore!’
Bacchus changed his shape, and glaring
With a lion’s eye-balls wide,
Roared: the pirate-crew, despairing,
Plunged amid the foaming tide.        40
Through the azure depths they flitted
Dolphins by transforming fate:
But the god the pilot pitied,
Saved, and made him rich and great.

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