Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. IV. Wordsworth to Rossetti
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. IV. The Nineteenth Century: Wordsworth to Rossetti
 
Extracts from Rhododaphne: The Spell of the Laurel-Rose
By Thomas Love Peacock (1785–1866)
 
OH youth, beware! that laurel-rose
Around Larissa’s evil walls
In tufts of rank luxuriance grows,
’Mid dreary valleys, by the falls
Of haunted streams; and magic knows        5
No herb or plant of deadlier might,
When impious footsteps wake by night
The echoes of those dismal dells,
What time the murky midnight dew
Trembles on many a leaf and blossom,        10
That draws from earth’s polluted bosom
Mysterious virtue, to imbue
The chalice of unnatural spells.
Oft, those dreary rocks among,
The murmurs of unholy song,        15
Breathed by lips as fair as hers
By whose false hands that flower was given,
The solid earth’s firm breast have riven,
And burst the silent sepulchres,
And called strange shapes of ghastly fear,        20
To hold, beneath the sickening moon,
Portentous parle, at night’s deep noon,
With beauty skilled in mysteries drear.
Oh, youth! Larissa’s maids are fair;
But the dæmons of the earth and air        25
Their spells obey, their councils share,
And wide o’er earth and ocean bear
Their mandates to the storms that tear
The rock-enrooted oak, and sweep
With whirlwind wings the labouring deep.        30
Their words of power can make the streams
Roll refluent on their mountain-springs,
Can torture sleep with direful dreams,
And on the shapes of earthly things,
Man, beast, bird, fish, with influence strange,        35
Breathe foul and fearful interchange,
And fix in marble bonds the form
Erewhile with natural being warm,
And give to senseless stones and stocks
Motion, and breath, and shape that mocks,        40
As far as nicest eye can scan,
The action and the life of man.
Beware! yet once again beware!
Ere round thy inexperienced mind,
With voice and semblance falsely fair,        45
A chain Thessalian magic bind,
Which never more, oh youth! believe,
Shall either earth or heaven unweave.
 
 
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