By John Byrne Leicester Warren, Lord De Tabley
This the house of Circe, queen of charms,—
A kind of beacon-cauldron pois’d on high,
Hoop’d round with ember-clasping iron bars,
Sways in her palace porch, and smoulderingly
Drips out in blots of fire and ruddy stars:
But out behind that trembling furnace air
The lands are ripe and fair,
Hush are the hills and quiet to the eye.
The river’s reach goes by
With lamb and holy tower and squares of corn,
And shelving interspace
Of holly bush and thorn
And hamlets happy in an Alpine morn,
And deep-bower’d lanes with grace
Of woodbine newly born.
But inward o’er the hearth a torch-head stands
Inverted, slow green flames of fulvous hue,
Echoed in wave-like shadows over her.
A censer’s swing-chain set in her fair hands
Dances up wreaths of intertwisted blue
In clouds of fragrant frankincense and myrrh.
A giant tulip head and two pale leaves
Grew in the midmost of her chamber there.
A flaunting bloom, naked and undivine,
Rigid and bare,
Gaunt as a tawny bond-girl born to shame,
With freckled cheeks and splotch’d side serpentine,
A gipsy among flowers,
Unmeet for bed or bowers,
Virginal where pure-handed damsels sleep:
Let it not breathe a common air with them,
Lest when the night is deep,
And all things have their quiet in the moon,
Some birth of poison from its leaning stem
Waft in between their slumber-parted lips,
And they cry out or swoon,
Deeming some vampire sips
Where riper Love may come for nectar boon!
And near this tulip, rear’d across a loom,
Hung a fair web of tapestry half done,
Crowding with folds and fancies half the room:
Men eyed as gods, and damsels still as stone,
Pressing their brows alone,
In amethystine robes,
Or reaching at the polish’d orchard globes,
Or rubbing parted love-lips on their rind,
While the wind
Sows with sere apple-leaves their breast and hair.
And all the margin there
Was arabesqued and border’d intricate
With hairy spider things,
That catch and clamber,
And salamander in his dripping cave
Blind worm, and asp, and eft of cumbrous gait,
And toads who love rank grasses near a grave,
And the great goblin moth, who bears
Between his wings the ruin’d eyes of death;
And the enamell’d sails
Of butterflies, who watch the morning’s breath,
And many an emerald lizard with quick ears
Asleep in rocky dales;
And for outer fringe, embroider’d small,
A ring of many locusts, horny-coated,
A round of chirping tree-frogs merry-throated,
And sly, fat fishes sailing, watching all.
We went to the Cherry Blossom Festival, a day after the parade but still a perfect afternoon -- about 70 degrees without a cloud in the sky. We picked up older son directly from Hebrew school and took a picnic downtown with us, eating in the shade on the Mall beneath a tree not far from the Washington Monument; then we walked down to the Tidal Basin and around, past the Jefferson and Roosevelt Memorials. There were thousands of people but it never felt packed, and everyone was quite nice about stopping to let people take photos and get their kids where they could see. There was a jazz band playing on the stage at the Jefferson Memorial when we got over there and lots of impromptu frisbee and soccer being played.
After we circled back to the Smithsonian, we went into the Museum of American History for a little while. I wanted to see the Philadelphia, America's earliest warship, which was salvaged complete with the British shot that sunk her several hours into her last battle, though her mast is gone. We had to get home by 4 p.m. for younger son's soccer practice, so we didn't have much time in the museum, but after being terribly nostalgic for England it was nice to get a reminder of the fabulous museums we have in DC, absolutely free.
The evening was quiet -- after soccer we had dinner and watched Supervolcano on Discovery, which was reasonably entertaining, particularly since we saw the Pompeii special not long ago and the footage of what they think would happen at Yellowstone looked so much like the footage of what they think did happen at Vesuvius. I tend not to like end of the world disaster scenarios very much, Day After Tomorrow-type stuff (okay, that Armageddon Harry Potter fic notwithstanding *g*), but we figured this had to be an improvement over the Book of Revelation miniseries, and the Tom Brokaw report on the Norris Geyser Basin afterward was very interesting.
And now we interrupt your virtual tour of Britain for some images of a Washington, DC spring, by request for sparowe...
And the monument to another favorite president, Thomas Jefferson, with crowds on the steps listening to the band on the stage in front.
Despite the large numbers of people the blooms were looking very healthy.
This is the only week all year when views like this are possible.
And while I am glorifying the city named for the man for whom this monument was raised...
...I will post one photo from England, from the wall by the cloisters at Durham Cathedral, also in his honor.