Littell's Living Age/Volume 148/Issue 1916/Et tu in Arcadia Vixisti
Et tu in Arcadia Vixisti
In ancient tales, O friend, thy spirit dwelt; There, from of old, thy childhood passed; and there High expectation, high delights and deeds, Thy fluttering heart with hope and terror moved. And thou hast heard of yore the Blatant Beast, And Roland’s horn, and that war-scattering shout Of all-unarmed Achilles, ægis-crowned. And perilous lands thou sawest, sounding shores And seas and forests drear, island and dale And mountain dark. For thou with Tristram rode Or Bedevere, in farthest Lyonesse. Thou hadst a booth in Samarcand, whereat Side-looking Magians trafficked; thence, by night, An Afreet snatched thee, and with wings upbore Beyond the Aral mount; or, hoping gain, Thou, with a jar of money, didst embark, For Balsorah, by sea. But chiefly thou In that clear air took life, in Arcady The haunted, land of song; and by the wells Where most the gods frequent. There Chiron old, In a vast mountain antre, taught thee lore: The plants he taught, and by the shining stars In forests dim to steer. There hast thou seen Immortal Pan dance secret in a glade, And, dancing, roll his eyes; these, where they fell, Shed glee, and through the congregated oaks A flying horror winged; while all the earth To the god’s pregnant footing thrilled within. Or whiles, beside the sobbing stream, he breathed, In his clutched pipe, unformed and wizard strains, Divine yet brutal; which the forest heard, And thou, with awe; and far upon the plain The unthinking ploughman started and gave ear.
Now things there are that, upon him who sees, A strong vocation lay; and strains there are That whoso hears shall hear for evermore. Forevermore thou hear’st immortal Pan And those melodious godheads, ever young And ever quiring, on the mountains old.
What was this earth, child of the gods, to thee? Forth from thy dreamland thou, a dreamer, cam’st, And in thine ears the olden music rang, And in thy mind the doings of the dead, And those heroic ages long forgot. To a so fallen earth, alas! too late, Alas! in evil days, thy steps return, To list at noon for nightingales, to grow A dweller on the beach till Argo come That came long since, a lingerer by the pool Where that desirèd angel bathes no more. As when the Indian to Dakota comes, Or farthest Idaho, and where he dwelt, He with his clan, a humming city finds; Thereon awhile, amazed, he stares, and then To right and leftward, like a questing dog, Seeks first the ancestral altars, then the hearth Long cold with rains, and where old terror lodged, And where the dead. So thee undying Hope, With all her pack, hunts screaming through the years: Here, there, thou fleëst; but nor here nor there The pleasant gods abide, the glory dwells.
That, that was not Apollo, not the god. This was not Venus, though she Venus seemed A moment. And though fair yon river move, She, all the way, from disenchanted fount To seas unhallowed runs; the gods forsook Long since her trembling rushes; from her plains Disconsolate, long since adventure fled: And now although the inviting river flows, And every poplared cape, and every bend Or willowy islet, win upon thy soul And to thy hopeful shallop whisper speed, Yet hope not thou at all; hope is no more; And oh, long since the golden groves are dead, The faery cities vanished from the land!