Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE GROTTO OF EGERIA, by WILLIAM S. SOTHEBY



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THE GROTTO OF EGERIA, by            
First Line: Can I forget that beauteous day
Last Line: Mysterious truths divine to earthly ear recount.
Subject(s): Pilgrimages & Pilgrims


CAN I forget that beauteous day,
When, shelter'd from the burning beam,
First in thy haunted grot I lay,
And loosed my spirit to its dream,
Beneath the broken arch, o'erlaid
With ivy, dark with many a braid,
That clasp'd its tendrils to retain
The stone its roots had writhed in twain?
No zephyr on the leaflet play'd,
No bent grass bow'd its slender blade,
The coiled snake lay slumber-bound;
All mute, all motionless around,
Save, livelier, while others slept,
The lizard on the sunbeam leapt;
And louder, while the groves were still,
The unseen cigali, sharp and shrill,
As if their chirp could charm alone
Tired noontide with its unison.

Stranger! that roam'st in solitude!
Thou, too, 'mid tangling bushes rude,
Seek in the glen, yon heights between,
A rill more pure than Hippocrene,
That from a sacred fountain fed
The stream that fill'd its marble bed.
Its marble bed long since is gone,
And the stray water struggles on,
Brawling through weeds and stones its way
There, when o'erpower'd at blaze of day,
Nature languishes in light,
Pass within the gloom of night,
Where the cool grot's dark arch o'ershades
Thy temples, and the waving braids
Of many a fragment brier that weaves
Its blossom through the ivy leaves.
Thou, too, beneath that rocky roof,
Where the moss mats its thickest woof,
Shalt hear the gather'd ice-drops fail
Regular, at interval,
Drop after drop, one after one,
Making music on the stone,
While every drop, in slow decay,
Wears the recumbent nymph away.
Thou, too, if e'er thy youthful ear
Thrill'd the Latian lay to hear,
Lull'd to slumber in that cave,
Shalt hail the nymph that held the wave;
A goddess, who there deigned to meet
A mortal from Rome's regal seat,
And, o'er the gushing of her fount,
Mysterious truths divine to earthly ear recount.





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