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 Gebir: Tamar and the Nymph
By Walter Savage Landor (1775–1864)
[From Book VI.]

‘OH seek not destin’d evils to divine,
Found out at last too soon! cease here the search,
’Tis vain, ’tis impious, ’tis no gift of mine;
I will impart far better, will impart
What makes, when Winter comes, the Sun to rest        5
So soon on Ocean’s bed his paler brow,
And Night to tarry so at Spring’s return.
And I will tell sometimes the fate of men
Who loos’d from drooping neck the restless arm
Adventurous, ere long nights had satisfied        10
The sweet and honest avarice of love;
How whirlpools have absorb’d them, storms o’erwhelm’d,
And how amid their struggles and their prayers
The big wave blacken’d o’er the mouth supine:
Then, when my Tamar trembles at the tale,        15
Kissing his lips half open with surprise,
Glance from the gloomy story, and with glee
Light on the fairer fables of the Gods.
—Thus we may sport at leisure when we go
Where, loved by Neptune and the Naiad, loved        20
By pensive Dryad pale, and Oread
The sprightly nymph whom constant Zephyr woos,
Rhine rolls his beryl-colour’d wave; than Rhine
What river from the mountains ever came
More stately? most the simple crown adorns        25
Of rushes and of willows intertwined
With here and there a flower: his lofty brow
Shaded with vines and mistleto and oak
He rears, and mystic bards his fame resound.
Or gliding opposite, th’ Illyrian gulf        30
Will harbour us from ill.’ While thus she spake,
She toucht his eyelashes with libant lip,
And breath’d ambrosial odours, o’er his cheek
Celestial warmth suffusing: grief dispersed,
And strength and pleasure beam’d upon his brow.        35
Then pointed she before him: first arose
To his astonisht and delighted view
The sacred ile that shrines the queen of love.
It stood so near him, so acute each sense,
That not the symphony of lutes alone        40
Or coo serene or billing strife of doves,
But murmurs, whispers, nay the very sighs
Which he himself had utter’d once, he heard.
Next, but long after and far off, appear
The cloudlike cliffs and thousand towers of Crete,        45
And further to the right, the Cyclades:
Phoebus had rais’d and fixt them, to surround
His native Delos and aerial fane.
He saw the land of Pelops, host of Gods,
Saw the steep ridge where Corinth after stood        50
Beckoning the serious with the smiling Arts
Into the sunbright bay; unborn the maid
That to assure the bent-up hand unskilled
Lookt oft, but oftener fearing who might wake.
He heard the voice of rivers; he descried        55
Pindan Peneus and the slender nymphs
That tread his banks but fear the thundering tide;
These, and Amphrysos and Apidanus
And poplar-crown’d Spercheus, and reclined
On restless rocks Enipeus, where the winds        60
Scatter’d above the weeds his hoary hair.
Then, with Pirene and with Panope
Evenus, troubled from paternal tears,
And last was Achelous, king of iles.
Zacynthus here, above rose Ithaca,        65
Like a blue bubble floating in the bay.
Far onward to the left a glimm’ring light
Glanced out oblique, nor vanisht; he inquired
Whence that arose, his consort thus replied.
‘Behold the vast Eridanus! ere long        70
We may again behold him and rejoice.
Of noble rivers none with mightier force
Rolls his unwearied torrent to the main.’
And now Sicanian Etna rose to view:
Darkness with light more horrid she confounds,        75
Baffles the breath and dims the sight of day.
Tamar grew giddy with astonishment
And, looking up, held fast the bridal vest;
He heard the roar above him, heard the roar
Beneath, and felt it too, as he beheld,        80
Hurl, from Earth’s base, rocks, mountains, to the skies.

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