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Clytie
by [?]


Hearken, O passers, what thing
Fortuned in Hellas. A maid,
Lissom and white as the roe,
Lived recess’d in a glade.
Clytie, Hamadryad,
She was called that I sing–
Flower so fair, so frail, that to bring her a woe,
Surely a pitiful thing!

A wild bright creature of trees,
Brooks, and the sun among leaves,
Clytie, grown to be maid:
Ah, she had eyes like the sea’s
Iris of green and blue!
White as sea-foam her brows,
And her hair reedy and gold:
So she grew and waxt supple and fit to be spouse
In a king’s palace of old.

All in a kirtle of green,
With her tangle of red-gold hair,
In the live heart of an oak,
Clytie, harbouring there,
Throned there as a queen,
Clytie wondering woke:
Ah, child, what set thee too high for thy sweet demesne,
And who ponder’d the doleful stroke?

For the child that was maiden grown,
The queen of the forest places,
Clytie, Hamadryad,
Tired of the joy she had,
And the kingdom that was her own;
And tired of the quick wood-races,
And joy of herself in the pool when she wonder’d down,
And tired of her budded graces.

And the child lookt up to the Sun
And the burning track of his car
In the broad serene above her:
“O King Sun, be thou my lover,
For my beauty is just begun.
I am fresh and fair as a star;
Come, lie where the lilies are:
Behold, I am fair and dainty and white all over,
And I waste in the wood unknown!”

Rose-flusht, daring, she strain’d
Her young arms up, and she voiced
The wild desire of her heart.
The woodland heard her, the faun,
The satyr, and things that start,
Peering, heard her; the dove, crooning, complain’d
In the pine-tree by the lawn.
Only the runnel rejoiced
In his rushy hollow apart
To see her beauty flash up
White and red as the dawn.

Sorrow, ye passers-by,
The quick lift of her word,
The crimson blush of her pride!
Heard her the heavens’ lord
In his flaming seat in the sky:
“Overbold of her years that will not be denied;
She would be the Sun-God’s bride!”
His brow it was like the flat of a sword,
And levin the glance of his side.

And he bent unto her, and his mouth
Burnt her like coals of fire;
He gazed with passionate eyes,
Like flame that kindles and dries,
And his breath suckt hers as the white rage of the South
Draws life; his desire
Was like to a tiger’s drouth.
What shall the slim maiden avail?
Alas, and alas for her youth!

Tremble, O maids, that would set
Your love-longing to the Sun!
For Clytie mourn, and take heed
How she loved her king and did bleed
Ere kissing had yet begun.
For lo! one shaft from his terrible eyes she met,
And it burnt to her soul, and anon
She paled, and the fever-fret
Did bite to her bones; and wan
She fell to rueing the deed.

Mark ye, maidens, and cower!
Lo, for an end of breath,
Clytie, hardy and frail,
Anguisht after her death.
For the Sun-flower droops and is pale
When her king hideth his power,
And ever draggeth the woe of her piteous tale,
As a woman that laboureth
Yet never reacheth the hour:
So Clytie yearns to the Sun, for her wraith
Moans in the bow’d sunflower.

Clytie, Hamadryad,
Called was she that I sing:
Flower so fair and frail that to work her this woe,
Surely a pitiful thing!

1894.