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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.

The Masque of Pandora

V. The House of Epimetheus

Beautiful apparition! go not hence!

Surely thou art a Goddess, for thy voice

Is a celestial melody, and thy form

Self-poised as if it floated on the air!

No Goddess am I, nor of heavenly birth,

But a mere woman fashioned out of clay

And mortal as the rest.

Thy face is fair;

There is a wonder in thine azure eyes

That fascinates me. Thy whole presence seems

A soft desire, a breathing thought of love.

Say, would thy star like Merope’s grow dim

If thou shouldst wed beneath thee?

Ask me not;

I cannot answer thee. I only know

The Gods have sent me hither.

I believe,

And thus believing am most fortunate.

It was not Hermes led thee here, but Eros,

And swifter than his arrows were thine eyes

In wounding me. There was no moment’s space

Between my seeing thee and loving thee.

Oh, what a telltale face thou hast! Again

I see the wonder in thy tender eyes.

They do but answer to the love in thine,

Yet secretly I wonder thou shouldst love me.

Thou knowest me not.

Perhaps I know thee better

Than had I known thee longer. Yet it seems

That I have always known thee, and but now

Have found thee. Ah, I have been waiting long.

How beautiful is this house! The atmosphere

Breathes rest and comfort, and the many chambers

Seem full of welcomes.

They not only seem,

But truly are. This dwelling and its master

Belong to thee.

Here let me stay forever!

There is a spell upon me.

Thou thyself

Art the enchantress, and I feel thy power

Envelop me, and wrap my soul and sense

In an Elysian dream.

Oh, let me stay.

How beautiful are all things round about me,

Multiplied by the mirrors on the walls!

What treasures hast thou here! Yon oaken chest,

Carven with figures and embossed with gold,

Is wonderful to look upon! What choice

And precious things dost thou keep hidden in it?

I know not. ’T is a mystery.

Hast thou never

Lifted the lid?

The oracle forbids.

Safely concealed there from all mortal eyes

Forever sleeps the secret of the Gods.

Seek not to know what they have hidden from thee,

Till they themselves reveal it.

As thou wilt.

Let us go forth from this mysterious place.

The garden walks are pleasant at this hour;

The nightingales among the sheltering boughs

Of populous and many-nested trees

Shall teach me how to woo thee, and shall tell me

By what resistless charms or incantations

They won their mates.

Thou dost not need a teacher.
They go out.

What the Immortals

Confide to thy keeping,

Tell unto no man;

Waking or sleeping,

Closed be thy portals

To friend as to foeman.

Silence conceals it;

The word that is spoken

Betrays and reveals it;

By breath or by token

The charm may be broken.

With shafts of their splendors

The Gods unforgiving

Pursue the offenders,

The dead and the living!

Fortune forsakes them,

Nor earth shall abide them,

Nor Tartarus hide them;

Swift wrath overtakes them.

With useless endeavor,

Forever, forever,

Is Sisyphus rolling

His stone up the mountain!

Immersed in the fountain,

Tantalus tastes not

The water that wastes not!

Through ages increasing

The pangs that afflict him,

With motion unceasing

The wheel of Ixion

Shall torture its victim!