**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Poem.

Enjoy this? Share it!


Hero And Leander
by [?]


They say there be such maidens in the deep,
Charming poor mariners, that all too near
By mortal lullabies fall dead asleep,
As drowsy men are poison’d through the ear;
Therefore Leander’s fears begin to urge,
This snowy swan is come to sing his dirge.


At which he falls into a deadly chill,
And strains his eyes upon her lips apart;
Fearing each breath to feel that prelude shrill,
Pierce through his marrow, like a breath-blown dart
Shot sudden from an Indian’s hollow cane,
With mortal venom fraught, and fiery pain.


Here then, poor wretch, how he begins to crowd
A thousand thoughts within a pulse’s space;
There seem’d so brief a pause of life allow’d,
His mind stretch’d universal, to embrace
The whole wide world, in an extreme farewell,–
A moment’s musing–but an age to tell.


For there stood Hero, widow’d at a glance,
The foreseen sum of many a tedious fact,
Pale cheeks, dim eyes, and wither’d countenance,
A wasted ruin that no wasting lack’d;
Time’s tragic consequents ere time began,
A world of sorrow in a tear-drop’s span.


A moment’s thinking is an hour in words,–
An hour of words is little for some woes;
Too little breathing a long life affords
For love to paint itself by perfect shows;
Then let his love and grief unwrong’d lie dumb,
Whilst Fear, and that it fears, together come.


As when the crew, hard by some jutty cape,
Struck pale and panick’d by the billow’s roar,
Lay by all timely measures of escape,
And let their bark go driving on the shore;
So fray’d Leander, drifting to his wreck,
Gazing on Scylla, falls upon her neck.


For he hath all forgot the swimmer’s art,
The rower’s cunning, and the pilot’s skill,
Letting his arms fall down in languid part,
Sway’d by the waves, and nothing by his will,
Till soon he jars against that glossy skin,
Solid like glass, though seemingly as thin.


Lo! how she startles at the warning shock,
And straightway girds him to her radiant breast,
More like his safe smooth harbor than his rock;
Poor wretch, he is so faint and toil-opprest,
He cannot loose him from his grappling foe,
Whether for love or hate, she lets not go.


His eyes are blinded with the sleety brine,
His ears are deafen’d with the wildering noise;
He asks the purpose of her fell design,
But foamy waves choke up his struggling voice;
Under the ponderous sea his body dips,
And Hero’s name dies bubbling on his lips.


Look how a man is lower’d to his grave,–
A yearning hollow in the green earth’s lap;
So he is sunk into the yawning wave,–
The plunging sea fills up the watery gap;
Anon he is all gone, and nothing seen
But likeness of green turf and hillocks green.


And where he swam, the constant sun lies sleeping,
Over the verdant plain that makes his bed;
And all the noisy waves go freshly leaping.
Like gamesome boys over the churchyard dead;
The light in vain keeps looking for his face:–
Now screaming sea-fowl settle in his place.


Yet weep and watch for him, though all in vain!
Ye moaning billows, seek him as ye wander!
Ye gazing sunbeams, look for him again!
Ye winds, grow hoarse with asking for Leander!
Ye did but spare him for more cruel rape,
Sea-storm and ruin in a female shape!


She says ’tis love hath bribed her to this deed,
The glancing of his eyes did so bewitch her.
O bootless theft! unprofitable meed!
Love’s treasury is sack’d, but she no richer;
The sparkles of his eyes are cold and dead,
And all his golden looks are turn’d to lead!