BETA

DION.

(SEE PLUTARCH.)

I.

Fair is the Swan, whose majesty, prevailing1
O’er breezeless water, on Locarno’s lake,2
Bears him on while proudly sailing3
He leaves behind a moon-illumined wake :4
Behold ! the mantling spirit of reserve5
Fashions his neck into a goodly curve ;6
An arch thrown back between luxuriant
wings
7
Of whitest garniture, like fir-tree boughs8
To which, on some unruffl’d morning, clings9
A flaky weight of winter’s purest snows !10
Behold !—as with a gushing impulse
heaves
11
That downy prow, and softly cleaves12
The mirror of the crystal flood,13
Vanish inverted hill, and shadowy wood,14
And pendant rocks, where’er, in gliding
state,
15
Winds the mute Creature, without visible
Mate
16
Or rival, save the Queen of night17
Showering down. a silyer light,18
From heaven, upon her chosen favourite !19

II.

So pure, so bright, so fitted to embrace,20
Where’er he turn’d, a natural grace21
Of haughtiness without pretence,22
And to unfold a still magnificence,23
Was princely Dion, in the power24
And beauty of his happier hour.25
Nor less the homage that was seen to wait26
On Dion’s virtues, when the lunar beam27
Of Plato’s genius, from its lofty sphere,28
Fell round him in the grove of Academe,29
Softening their inbred dignity austere ; —30
That he, not too elate31
With self-sufficing solitude,32
But with majestic lowliness endued,33
Might in the universal bosom reign,34
And from affectionate observance gain,35
Help, under every change of adverse fate.36

III.

Five thousand warriors—O the rapturous
day ;
37
Each crown’d with flowers, and arm’d with
spear and shield,
38
Or ruder weapon which their course might
yield,
39
To Syracuse advance in bright array.40
Who leads them on ? -—The anxious People
see
41
Long-exil’d Dion marching at their head,42
He also crown’d with flowers of Sicily,43
And in a white, far-beaming, corslet clad !44
Pure transport undisturb’d by doubt or
fear
45
The Gazers feel ; and, rushing to the plain,46
Salute those Strangers as a holy train47
Or blest procession (to the Immortals dear)48
That brought their precious liberty again.49
Lo ! when the gates are enter’d, on each
hand,
50
Down the long street, rich goblets fill’d with
wine
51
In seemly order stand,52
On tables set, as if for rites divine ; —53
And, wheresoe’er the great Deliverer pass’d,54
Fruits were strewn before his eye,55
And flowers upon his person cast56
In boundless prodigality :57
Nor did the general voice abstain from
prayer,
58
Invoking Dion’s tutelary care,59
As if a very Deity he were !60

IV.

Mourn, hills and groves of Attica! and
mourn
61
Illyssus, bending o’er thy classic urn !62
Mourn, and lament for him whose spirit
dreads
63
Your once sweet memory, studious walks
and shades !
64
For him who to divinity aspir’d,65
Not on the breath of popular applause,66
But through dependance on the sacred laws67
Framed in the schools where Wisdom dwelt
retir’d,
68
Intent to trace the ideal path of right69
(More fair than heaven’s broad causeway
pav’d with stars)
70
Which Dion learn’d to measure with de-
light ;
71
But he hath overleap’d the eternal bars ;72
And, following guides whose craft holds no
consent
73
With aught that breathes the ethereal ele-
ment,
74
Hath stained the robes of civil power with
blood,
75
Unjustly shed, though for the public good.76
Whence doubts that came too late, and
wishes vain,
77
Hollow excuses—and triumphant pain ;78
And oft his cogitations sink as low79
As, through the abysses of a joyless heart,80
The heaviest plummet of despair can go81
But whence that sudden check ? —that fear-
ful start !
82
He hears an uncouth sound83
Anon his lifted eyes84
Saw at a long-drawn gallery’s dusky bound,85
A Shape, of more than mortal size86
And hideous aspect, stalking round and
round !
87
A woman’s garb the phantom wore,88
And fiercely swept the marble floor,—89
Like Auster whirling to and fro,90
His force on Caspian foam to try ;91
Or Boreas when he scours the snow92
That skins the plains of Thessaly,93
Or when aloft on Mænalus he stops94
His flight, mid eddying pine-tree tops !95

V.

So, but from toil less sign of profit reaping,96
The sullen Spectre to her purpose bowed,97
Sweeping—vehemently sweeping98
No pause admitted—no design avowed !99
Avaunt, inexplicable Guest ! —avaunt100
Intrusive Presence ! —Let me rather see101
The coronal that coiling vipers make ;102
The torch that flames with many a lurid
flake,
103
And the long train of doleful pageantry104
Which they behold, whom vengeful Furies
haunt.
105
Who, while they struggle from the scourge
to flee,
106
Move where the blasted soil is not unworn,107
And, in their anguish, bear what other
minds have borne !
108

VI.

But Shapes that come not at an earthly call,109
Will not depart when mortal voices bid ;110
Lords of the visionary Eye whose lid,111
Once raised, remains aghast and will not
fall !
112
Ye Gods, thought He, that servile Imple-
ment
113
Obeys a mystical intent !114
Your Minister would brush away115
The spots that to my soul adhere ;116
But should she labour night and day,117
They will not, cannot disappear.—118
Whence angry perturbations,—and that
look
119
Which no Philosophy can brook !120

VII.

Ill-fated Chief ! there are whose hopes are
built
121
Upon the ruins of thy glorious name ;122
Who, through the portal of one moment’s
guilt,
123
Pursue thee with their deadly aim !124
O matchless perfidy ! portentous lust125
Of monstrous crime ! —that horror-striking
blade,
126
Drawn in defiance of the Gods, hath laid127
The noble Syracusan low in dust !128
Shudder the walls—the marble city wept129
And sylvan places heaved a pensive sigh ;130
But in calm peace the appointed Victim
slept,
131
As he had fallen in magnanimity ;132
Of spirit too capacious to require133
That Destiny her course should change ;
too just
134
To his own native greatness to desire135
That wretched boon, days lengthened by
mistrust.
136
So were the hopeless troubles, that involved137
The soul of Dion, instantly dissolv’d.138
Releas’d from life and cares of princely
state,
139
He left this moral grafted on his Fate,140
Him only pleasure leads, and peace at-
tends ;
141
Him, only him, the shield of Jove defends,142
Whose means are fair and spotless as his
ends.”
143