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
 
Extract from Kehama
By Robert Southey (1774–1843)
 
O FORCE of faith! O strength of virtuous will!
    Behold him in his endless martyrdom,
              Triumphant still!
The Curse still burning in his heart and brain,
          And yet doth he remain        5
Patient the while, and tranquil, and content!
    The pious soul hath framed unto itself
      A second nature, to exist in pain
        As in its own allotted element.
 
  Such strength the will reveal’d had given        10
    This holy pair, such influxes of grace,
      That to their solitary resting place
      They brought the peace of Heaven.
  Yea, all around was hallow’d! Danger, Fear,
    Nor thought of evil ever enter’d here.        15
  A charm was on the Leopard when he came
      Within the circle of that mystic glade;
  Submiss he crouch’d before the heavenly maid,
    And offer’d to her touch his speckled side;
  Or with arch’d back erect, and bending head,        20
And eyes half-closed for pleasure, would he stand
    Courting the pressure of her gentle hand.
 
  Trampling his path through wood and brake,
And canes which crackling fall before his way,
  And tassel-grass, whose silvery feathers play        25
          O’ertopping the young trees,
        On comes the Elephant, to slake
  His thirst at noon in yon pellucid springs.
  Lo! from his trunk upturn’d, aloft he flings
        The grateful shower; and now        30
      Plucking the broad-leaved bough
  Of yonder plane, with wavey motion slow,
            Fanning the languid air,
            He moves it to and fro.
But when that form of beauty meets his sight,        35
    The trunk its undulating motion stops,
From his forgetful hold the plane-branch drops,
  Reverent he kneels, and lifts his rational eyes
            To her as if in prayer;
  And when she pours her angel voice in song        40
    Entranced he listens to the thrilling notes,
Till his strong temples, bathed with sudden dews,
    Their fragrance of delight and love diffuse.
 
  Lo! as the voice melodious floats around,
          The Antelope draws near,        45
  The Tigress leaves her toothless cubs to hear;
The Snake comes gliding from the secret brake,
      Himself in fascination forced along
          By that enchanting song;
  The antic Monkeys, whose wild gambols late,        50
When not a breeze waved the tall jungle grass,
Shook the whole wood, are hush’d, and silently
          Hang on the cluster’d tree.
  All things in wonder and delight are still;
    Only at times the Nightingale is heard,        55
  Not that in emulous skill that sweetest bird
          Her rival strain would try,
  A mighty songster, with the Maid to vie;
She only bore her part in powerful sympathy.
 
Well might they thus adore that heavenly Maid!        60
          For never Nymph of Mountain,
          Or Grove, or Lake, or Fountain,
      With a diviner presence fill’d the shade.
            No idle ornaments deface
              Her natural grace,        65
    Musk-spot, nor sandal-streak, nor scarlet stain,
      Ear-drop nor chain, nor arm nor ankle-ring,
      Nor trinketry on front, or neck, or breast,
    Marring the perfect form: she seem’d a thing
    Of Heaven’s prime uncorrupted work, a child        70
            Of early nature undefiled,
        A daughter of the years of innocence.
And therefore all things loved her. When she stood
      Beside the glassy pool, the fish, that flies
      Quick as an arrow from all other eyes,        75
    Hover’d to gaze on her. The mother bird,
          When Kailyal’s step she heard,
    Sought not to tempt her from her secret nest,
      But hastening to the dear retreat, would fly
        To meet and welcome her benignant eye.        80
 
 
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