787. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [c. 27 May 1803]

787. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [c. 27 May 1803] ⁠* 

Ereenia lifted Kalyal from the bank,
He placed her in the Vessel of the Gods.
The Vessel animate with thought
Spreads like a Nautilus its living sail
And glides along the sky.
Aright, aloft, in wavy tide
The clouds of morning roll away,
The winds that swept in wild career
Grow calm along the path.
The winds that loitering laggd in heaven
Revive before the living bark
And swell & sing beneath the sail.

That living Bark was shaped
Like the Primeval Egg
When Brama self existent, from its womb
Issuing had hung its arch aloft
To form the vault of heaven.
A milky white its hue.
The dews that stood unsullied on its side
Seemd there as pearls opaque.
From end to end the living sail
Oercanopied the Maid,
Thin as a bubble, clear & colourless
Save where it caught & tinged the rays of morn.
Smooth as the Swan when not a breeze
Raises one wrinkle on the glassy lake,
Thro air & sunshine saild
The Vessel of the Gods.
Recumbent there the Maiden glides along,
How swift she feels not, tho the Eagles wing
Had flaggd in flight behind.
No fear had Kalyal, for the gales
Which wander oer the heights of Hemacost,
So heald & tranquillized her heart
Fear could not enter there.
For sure she deemd the pang of death was past,
And that most beautiful of forms
Who saild beside her was her guide to heaven.

Eye hath not seen nor thought conceived
More perfect shape, more lovely beautiful
Than he who floats beside on steady wing.
Ereenias form was as the form of man,
His wings were plumeless, from the neck
Down to the ankle spread their long expanse,
Their colour like the dark blue sky
When the Moon shines serene.
Or like the azure deep
Beneath the blaze of day.
The pliant bone that thro the membrane branchd
Like veins of interwoven silver shone,
Or shells of pearly hue.
Now with soft stroke he fans the buoyant air
Now glides with wings that move not
Yet swift he speeds along
As the Suns Chariot Wheels career thro heaven.

Thro air & sunshine sails
The Vessel of the Gods.
Far far beneath her lies
The gross & heavy atmosphere of earth.
She breathes the Sorgon gales,
And every breath is joy.
Swift to its haven speeds the living Bark,
Swift as the falling meteor it alights
And gently as evening dews
The bend not the hair-bell-stem.
Daughter of Earth alight, Ereenia cried,
Lo here thy place of rest!

He furld his azure wings,
The happy Kalyal knew not where to gaze.
Her eyes in restless pleasure roam,
Now fixd upon the lovely Grenthuver
Now on that fair abode.
It was a marble cavern, high above
The rocky mountain rose,
The floor was marble, marble were the side
Here veind with silver, here with growing gold.

Here rest in peace! Ereenia cried,
And I will guard thee; feeble as I am
I trust the Rajah will not harm thee here.

Alas thou fearest him,
Immortal as thou art thou fearest him!
I thought that death had saved me from his power.
Not even the dead are safe!

Long years of life & happiness
Fair maiden yet be thine!
From death have I preserved thee, so from ills
Dwell here by me secured.

Not me alone O gentle Deveta!
I have a Father suffering upon earth,
A persecuted, wretched, poor, good man,
For whose strange misery
There is no human help.
And none but I dare comfort him
Beneath Kehamas curse.
O gentle Deveta
Have mercy upon him!

That boon I dare not answer as I would,
Plead thou thyself to Indra.

Then to the Garden of the Sorgon God
Ereenia led the Maid.
In the mid garden towered one giant Tree
Whose thousand boughs at every leaf
Imbibed the dews of Heaven.
Its root was in the rock.
A Lake spread round beneath
The thousand branches of its parent Tree.
For still in one perpetual shower,
Like diamond drops from every leaf
Etherial waters fell
Forth winding from that wonderous Lake
A thousand rivers watered Paradise.
Full to the brim, yet never overflown,
They coold the gales that curld
Their silver surface, & the gales bore back
Their vapours to the Tree.
And thus the etherial Rivers ran
For ever renovate, yet still the same. [1] 

x x x x x x x x x x

The remainder of the Book is still in the World of Ideas. up in some ganglion or chamber of this poor medullary substance of mine – which aches most damnably at this present writing – So God help you –

R S.

You tell me nothing of your fathers removal – as if I did not want to know something of his local habitation & its name.

I am exceedingly delighted with the jealousy displayed by his Majesty [2]  for the Liberty of the Press! [3]  God a mercy what an odd world do we live in! Huzza! God save the King! the Liberty of the Press <forever> & no Popery nor Wooden Shoes [4]  – By the by the Press Gang lately have abused the Liberty of the Press sadly.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ 28. Gerrard Street/ Soho/ London
Stamped: BRISTOL
Postmark: B/ MAY 27/ 1803
MS: Houghton Library, bMS Eng 265.1 (11). ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] An early draft of part of Book 3 of The Curse of Kehama. BACK

[2] George III (1738-1820, King of Great Britain 1760-1820). BACK

[3] This may refer to Jean-Gabriel Peltier (1760-1825; DNB), a French émigré journalist, who published anti-Napoleonic articles in the British press. French diplomatic pressure during the peace of 1802-1803 led to his conviction for criminal libel on 21 February 1803. The renewal of Anglo-French hostilities in May 1803 ensured that Peltier was not sentenced. BACK

[4] ‘No Popery, no wooden shoes’ was a favourite cry of the London mob throughout the eighteenth century, and a mantra for the political and religious agitator Lord George Gordon (1751-1793; DNB). BACK

People mentioned

Bedford family (mentioned 1 time)