Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Asia: Vols. XXI–XXIII. 1876–79.

Asia Minor: Ida, the Mountain


By Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)

THERE lies a vale in Ida, lovelier

Than all the valleys of Ionian hills.

The swimming vapor slopes athwart the glen,

Puts forth an arm, and creeps from pine to pine,

And loiters, slowly drawn. On either hand

The lawns and meadow ledges midway down

Hang rich in flowers, and far below them roars

The long brook falling through the cloven ravine

In cataract after cataract to the sea.

Behind the valley topmost Garfiarus

Stands up and takes the morning; but in front

The gorges, opening wide apart, reveal

Troas and Ilion’s columned citadel,

The crown of Troas.

Hither came at noon

Mournful Œnone, wandering forlorn

Of Paris, once her playmate on the hills.

Her cheek had lost the rose, and round her neck

Floated her hair or seemed to float in rest.

She, leaning on a fragment twined with vine,

Sang to the stillness, till the mountain-shade

Sloped downward to her seat from the upper cliff.

“O mother Ida, many-fountained Ida,

Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.

For now the noonday quiet holds the hill:

The grasshopper is silent in the grass:

The lizard, with his shadow on the stone,

Rests like a shadow, and the cicala sleeps.

The purple flowers droop; the golden bee

Is lily-cradled: I alone awake.

My eyes are full of tears, my heart of love,

My heart is breaking, and my eyes are dim,

And I am all aweary of my life.

“O mother Ida, many-fountained Ida,

Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.

Hear me, O Earth, hear me, O Hills, O Caves,

That house the cold crowned snake! O mountain brooks,

I am the daughter of a River-God;

Hear me, for I will speak, and build up all

My sorrow with my song, as yonder walls

Rose slowly to a music slowly breathed,

A cloud that gathered shape: for it may be

That, while I speak of it, a little while

My heart may wander from its deeper woe.

“O mother Ida, many-fountained Ida,

Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.

I waited underneath the dawning hills,

Aloft the mountain lawn was dewy-dark,

And dewy-dark aloft the mountain-pine:

Beautiful Paris, evil-hearted Paris,

Leading a jet-black goat white-horned, white-hoofed,

Came up from reedy Simois all alone.

“O mother Ida, harken ere I die.

Far off the torrent called me from the cleft:

Far up the solitary morning smote

The streaks of virgin snow. With down-dropt eyes,

I sat alone: white-breasted like a star

Fronting the dawn he moved; a leopard skin

Drooped from his shoulder, but his sunny hair

Clustered about his temples like a god’s;

And his cheek brightened as the foam-bow brightens

When the wind blows the foam, and all my heart

Went forth to embrace him coming ere he came.

“Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.

He smiled, and opening out his milk-white palm

Disclosed a fruit of pure Hesperian gold,

That smelt ambrosially, and while I looked

And listened, the full-flowing river of speech

Came down upon my heart.

“‘My own Œnone,

Beautiful-browed Œnone, my own soul,

Behold this fruit, whose gleaming rind engraven

“For the most fair,” would seem to award it thine.

As lovelier than whatever Oread haunt

The knolls of Ida, loveliest in all grace

Of movement, and the charm of married brows.’

“Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.

He prest the blossom of his lips to mine,

And added, ‘This was cast upon the board,

When all the full-faced presence of the Gods

Ranged in the halls of Peleus; whereupon

Rose feud, with question unto whom ’t were due.

But light-foot Iris brought it yester-eve,

Delivering that to me, by common voice

Elected umpire, Herè comes to-day

Pallas and Aphrodite, claiming each

This meed of fairest. Thou, within the cave

Behind yon whispering tuft of oldest pine,

Mayst well behold them unbeheld, unheard

Hear all, and see thy Paris judge of gods.’

“Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.

It was the deep midnoon: one silvery cloud

Had lost his way between the piny sides

Of this long glen. Then to the bower they came,

Naked they came to that smooth-swarded bower,

And at their feet the crocus brake like fire,

Violet, amaracus, and asphodel,

Lotos and lilies: and a wind arose,

And overhead the wandering ivy and vine,

This way and that, in many a wild festoon

Ran riot, garlanding the gnarled boughs

With bunch and berry and flower through and through.

“O mother Ida, harken ere I die.

On the tree-tops a crested peacock lit,

And o’er him flowed a golden cloud, and leaned

Upon him, slowly dropping fragrant dew.

Then first I heard the voice of her, to whom

Coming through Heaven, like a light that grows

Larger and clearer, with one mind the gods

Rise up for reverence. She to Paris made

Proffer of royal power, ample rule

Unquestioned, overflowing revenue

Wherewith to embellish state, ‘from many a vale

And river-sundered champaign clothed with corn,

Or labored mines, undrainable of ore.

Honor,’ she said, ‘and homage, tax and toll,

From many an inland town and haven large,

Mast-thronged beneath her shadowing citadel

In glassy bays among her tallest towers.’

“O mother Ida, harken ere I die.

Still she spake on, and still she spake of power,

‘Which in all action is the end of all:

Power fitted to the season; wisdom-bred

And throned of wisdom,—from all neighbor crowns

Alliance and allegiance, till thy hand

Fail from the sceptre-staff. Such boon from me,

From me, heaven’s queen, Paris, to thee king-born,

A shepherd all thy life, but yet king-born,

Should come most welcome, seeing men, in power

Only, are likest gods, who have attained

Rest in a happy place and quiet seats

Above the thunder, with undying bliss,

In knowledge of their own supremacy.’

“Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.

She ceased, and Paris held the costly fruit

Out at arm’s length, so much the thought of power

Flattered his spirit; but Pallas where she stood

Somewhat apart, her clear and bared limbs

O’erthwarted with the brazen-headed spear

Upon her pearly shoulder leaning cold,

The while, above, her full and earnest eye

Over her snow-cold breast and angry cheek

Kept watch, waiting decision, made reply.

“‘Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control,

These three alone lead life to sovereign power.

Yet not for power, (power of herself

Would come uncalled for,) but to live by law,

Acting the law we live by without fear;

And because right is right, to follow right

Were wisdom in the scorn of consequence.’

“Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.

Again she said: ‘I woo thee not with gifts.

Sequel of guerdon could not alter me

To fairer. Judge thou me by what I am,

So shalt thou find me fairest.

Yet, indeed,

If gazing on divinity disrobed,

Thy mortal eyes are frail to judge of fair,

Unbiased by self-profit, O, rest thee sure

That I shall love thee well and cleave to thee,

So that my vigor, wedded to thy blood,

Shall strike within thy pulses, like a god’s,

To push thee forward through a life of shocks,

Dangers and deeds, until endurance grow

Sinewed with action, and the full-grown will,

Circled through all experiences, pure law,

Commeasure perfect freedom.’
“Here she ceased,

And Paris pondered, and I cried, ‘O Paris,

Give it to Pallas!’ but he heard me not,

Or hearing would not hear me, woe is me!

“O mother Ida, many-fountained Ida,

Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.

Idalian Aphrodite beautiful,

Fresh as the foam, new-bathed in Paphian wells,

With rosy slender fingers backward drew

From her warm brows and bosom her deep hair

Ambrosial, golden round her lucid throat

And shoulder: from the violets her light foot

Shone rosy-white, and o’er her rounded form

Between the shadows of the vine bunches

Floated the glowing sunlights, as she moved.

“Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.

She with a subtle smile in her mild eyes,

The herald of her triumph, drawing nigh,

Half whispered in his ear, ‘I promise thee

The fairest and most loving wife in Greece.’

She spoke and laughed: I shut my sight for fear:

But when I looked, Paris had raised his arm,

And I beheld great Herè’s angry eyes,

As she withdrew into the golden cloud,

And I was left alone within the bower;

And from that time to this I am alone,

And I shall be alone until I die.”