Verse > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow > Complete Poetical Works
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882).  Complete Poetical Works.  1893.
 
The Masque of Pandora
V. The House of Epimetheus
 
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!
 
PANDORA.
No Goddess am I, nor of heavenly birth,
        5
But a mere woman fashioned out of clay
And mortal as the rest.

EPIMETHEUS.
                    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.        10
Say, would thy star like Merope’s grow dim
If thou shouldst wed beneath thee?

PANDORA.
                            Ask me not;
I cannot answer thee. I only know
The Gods have sent me hither.

EPIMETHEUS.
                                I believe,
And thus believing am most fortunate.        15
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        20
I see the wonder in thy tender eyes.
 
PANDORA.
They do but answer to the love in thine,
Yet secretly I wonder thou shouldst love me.
Thou knowest me not.

EPIMETHEUS.
                Perhaps I know thee better
Than had I known thee longer. Yet it seems        25
That I have always known thee, and but now
Have found thee. Ah, I have been waiting long.
 
PANDORA.
How beautiful is this house! The atmosphere
Breathes rest and comfort, and the many chambers
Seem full of welcomes.

EPIMETHEUS.
                        They not only seem,
        30
But truly are. This dwelling and its master
Belong to thee.

PANDORA.
                Here let me stay forever!
There is a spell upon me.

EPIMETHEUS.
                        Thou thyself
Art the enchantress, and I feel thy power
Envelop me, and wrap my soul and sense        35
In an Elysian dream.

PANDORA.
                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,        40
Is wonderful to look upon! What choice
And precious things dost thou keep hidden in it?
 
EPIMETHEUS.
I know not. ’T is a mystery.

PANDORA.
                        Hast thou never
Lifted the lid?

EPIMETHEUS.
                The oracle forbids.
Safely concealed there from all mortal eyes        45
Forever sleeps the secret of the Gods.
Seek not to know what they have hidden from thee,
Till they themselves reveal it.

PANDORA.
                                As thou wilt.
 
EPIMETHEUS.
Let us go forth from this mysterious place.
The garden walks are pleasant at this hour;        50
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.

PANDORA.
                Thou dost not need a teacher.
They go out.
        55
 
CHORUS OF THE EUMENIDES.
    What the Immortals
    Confide to thy keeping,
    Tell unto no man;
    Waking or sleeping,
    Closed be thy portals        60
    To friend as to foeman.
 
    Silence conceals it;
    The word that is spoken
    Betrays and reveals it;
    By breath or by token        65
    The charm may be broken.
 
    With shafts of their splendors
    The Gods unforgiving
    Pursue the offenders,
    The dead and the living!        70
    Fortune forsakes them,
    Nor earth shall abide them,
    Nor Tartarus hide them;
    Swift wrath overtakes them.
 
    With useless endeavor,        75
    Forever, forever,
    Is Sisyphus rolling
    His stone up the mountain!
    Immersed in the fountain,
    Tantalus tastes not        80
    The water that wastes not!
    Through ages increasing
    The pangs that afflict him,
    With motion unceasing
    The wheel of Ixion        85
    Shall torture its victim!
 
 
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