Poems of Home and Travel/Taurus

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The Scorpion's stars crawl down behind the sun,
And when he drops below the verge of day,
The glittering fangs, their fervid courses run,
Cling to his skirts and follow him away.
Then, ere the heels of flying Capricorn
Have touched the western mountain's fading rim,
I mark, stern Taurus, through the twilight gray
The glinting of thy horn,
And sullen front, uprising large and dim,
Bent to the starry hunter's sword, at bay.

Thy hoofs, unwilling, climb the sphery vault;
Thy red eye trembles with an angry glare,
When the hounds follow, and in fierce assault
Bay through the fringes of the lion's hair.
The stars that once were mortal in their love,
And by their love are made immortal now,
Cluster like golden bees upon thy mane,
When thou, possessed with Jove,
Bore sweet Europa's garlands on thy brow
And stole her from the green Sicilian plain.

Type of the stubborn force that will not bend
To loftier art,—soul of defiant breath
That blindly stands and battles to the end,
Nerving resistance with the throes of death,—
Majestic Taurus! when thy wrathful eye
Flamed brightest, and thy hoofs a moment stayed
Their march at Night's meridian, I was born:
But in the western sky,
Like sweet Europa, Love's fair star delayed,
To hang her garland on thy silver horn.

Thou giv'st that temper of enduring mould,
That slights the wayward bent of Destiny,—
Such as sent forth the shaggy Jarls of old
To launch their dragons on the unknown sea:
Such as kept strong the sinews of the sword,
The proud, hot blood of battle,—welcome made
The headsman's axe, the rack, the martyr-fire,
The ignominious cord,
When but to yield, had pomps and honors laid
On heads that moulder in ignoble mire.

Night is the summer when the soul grows ripe
With Life's full harvest: of her myriad suns,
Thou dost not gild the quiet herdsman's pipe,
Nor royal state, that royal action shuns.
But in the noontide of thy ruddy stars
Thrive strength, and daring, and the blood whence springs
The Heraclidean seed of heroes; then
Were sundered Gaza's bars;
Then, 'mid the smitten Hydra's loosened rings,
His slayer rested, in the Lernean fen.

Thine is the subtle element that turns
To fearless act the impulse of the hour,—
The secret fire, whose flash electric burns
To every source of passion and of power.
Therefore I hail thee, on thy glittering track:
Therefore I watch thee, when the night grows dark,
Slow-rising, front Orion's sword along
The starry zodiac,
And from thy mystic beam demand a spark
To warm my soul with more heroic song.