Lucretius



Lucilla, wedded to Lucretius, found
          Her master cold; for when the morning flush
          Of passion and the first embrace had died
          Between them, tho' he loved her none the less,
          Yet often when the woman heard his foot
          Return from pacings in the field, and ran
          To greet him with a kiss, the master took
          Small notice, or austerely, for his mind
          Half buried in some weightier argument,
          Or fancy-borne perhaps upon the rise
          And long roll of the hexameter -- he past
          To turn and ponder those three hundred scrolls
          Left by the Teacher, whom he held divine.
          She brook'd it not, but wrathful, petulant
          Dreaming some rival, sought and found a witch
          Who brew'd the philtre which had power, they said
          To lead an errant passion home again.
          And this, at times, she mingled with his drink,
          And this destroy'd him; for the wicked broth
          Confused the chemic labor of the blood,
          And tickling the brute brain within the man's
          Made havoc among those tender cells, and check'd
          His power to shape. He loathed himself, and once
          After a tempest woke upon a morn
          That mock'd him with returning calm, and cried:

          "Storm in the night! for thrice I heard the rain
          Rushing; and once the flash of a thunderbolt --
          Methought I never saw so fierce a fork --
          Struck out the streaming mountain-side, and show'd
          A riotous confluence of watercourses
          Blanching and billowing in a hollow of it,
          Where all but yester-eve was dusty-dry.

          "Storm, and what dreams, ye holy Gods, what dreams!
          For thrice I waken'd after dreams. Perchance
          We do but recollect the dreams that come
          Just ere the waking. Terrible: for it seem'd
          A void was made in Nature, all her bonds
          Crack'd; and I saw the flaring atom-streams
          And torrents of her myriad universe,
          Ruining along the illimitable inane,
          Fly on to clash together again, and make
          Another and another frame of things
          For ever. That was mine, my dream, I knew it --
          Of and belonging to me, as the dog
          With inward yelp and restless forefoot plies
          His function of the woodland; but the next!
          I thought that all the blood by Sylla shed
          Came driving rainlike down again on earth,
          And where it dash'd the reddening meadow, sprang
          No dragon warriors from Cadmean teeth,
          For these I thought my dream would show to me,
          But girls, Hetairai, curious in their art,
          Hired animalisms, vile as those that made
          The mulberry-faced Dictator's orgies worse
          Than aught they fable of the quiet Gods.
          And hands they mixt, and yell'd and round me drove
          In narrowing circles till I yell'd again
          Half-suffocated, and sprang up, and saw --
          Was it the first beam of my latest day?

          "Then, then, from utter gloom stood out the
          The breasts of Helen, and hoveringly a sword
          Now over and now under, now direct,
          Pointed itself to pierce, but sank down shamed
          At all that beauty; and as I stared, a fire,
          The fire that left a roofless Ilion,
          Shot out of them, and scorch'd me that I woke.

          "Is this thy vengeance, holy Venus, thine,
          Because I would not one of thine own doves,
          Not even a rose, were offered to thee? thine,
          Forgetful how my rich proemion makes
          Thy glory fly along the Italian field,
          In lays that will outlast thy deity?

          "Deity? nay, thy worshippers. My tongue
          Trips, or I speak profanely. Which of these
          Angers thee most, or angers thee at all?
          Not if thou be'st of those who, far aloof
          From envy, hate and pity, and spite and scorn,
          Live the great life which all our greatest fain
          Would follow, centred in eternal calm.

          "Nay, if thou canst,
 Goddess, like ourselves
          Touch, and be touch'd, then would I cry to thee
          To kiss thy Mavors, roll thy tender arms
          Round him, and keep him from the lust of blood
          That makes a steaming slaughter-house of Rome.
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on May 03, 2023

3:21 min read
184

Quick analysis:

Scheme AXBCXDXXEFXXGEXHIXXJXKXLB MXXXCNX OXXXXOPMXXNXFXHXXXQXXPXXIXX XXKXXDX GXGXXQ XXXXLMX AXQXJXQ
Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 4,424
Words 656
Stanzas 7
Stanza Lengths 25, 7, 27, 7, 6, 7, 7

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson, FRS was Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria's reign and remains one of the most popular British poets.  more…

All Alfred Lord Tennyson poems | Alfred Lord Tennyson Books

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