A Morean Tale

Mr Elliott

Stepanopoli and Dimitri

“Golden treasury of charms
Pearl of price in rapture’s bower,
Hush! ah hush, thy fond alarms!
Give, ah give the happy hour!

“Not the lofty cypress shows,
More of majesty and grace,
Fades the vainly pleasing rose,
When my love unveils her face!

“Eyes of diamond, how your glance
Shames the sun’s meridian light!
Beam ye on the lover’s trance
And he dies in wild delight!”

Young Stepanopoli thus sung
As the responsive lyre he rung
And critic ears might seek in vain
To banquet on a sweeter straing.
Though ’twas St. George’s festal day
And many a Greek from Corinth’s bay
Pogliesi’s mount, Nemea’s wood,
Steno, or Stymphalus thy flood,
With blithe Arcadia’s shepherds came
To celebrate their patron’s fame.
The gentle South the air perfumes,
The sun Taygetus’ tops illumes,
When from the chapel’s holy cell
The notes of praise symphonious swell
And silently the crowd without
Bend to the earth with awe devout,
But soon, the holy service done
The sports and feasting are begun;
Beneath the high o’erarching shade,
In groups the rustic banquet’s laid;
To measured tones the nymphs advance
To Caudian or Romaic dance
And notes of love or joy prolong
To many a lyire the choral song.
But Stepanopoli, apart
With Dimitri who shared his heart
On roasted lamb luxurious feasted
And generous wine and converse tasted.
The banquet past, the friends prolong
Their pleasure in alternate song.

“’Tis sweet to view the flowing meads
 Reclining under jasmine bowers
 Inhaling balm from thousand flowers
But what’s the joy that this exceeds?

“’Tis sweet to fill our mantling glasses
 Near a cool and crystal fountain,
 Shaded by yon woody mountain,
But what joy this joy surpasses?

“The miser loves to count his treasure,
 Deep within a secret cave
 Whose dark recess all eyes may brave
But what give us livelier pleasure?

“What charms all earthly joy above?
 What to the prince or peasant’s heart
 The grave or gay, can bliss impart?
Joy of all joys, all powerful love!”

Here when the master of the feast
His various harmony had ceased
Dimitri rais’d his grateful lays
His friend to thank — his friend to praise.
He wished him centuries of health,
A round of pleasures, hoards of wealth — 
He paus’d — but e’er he sang again
Woke Philomela’s dulcet strain And Stepanopoli exclaims
“List! Music’s triumph she proclaims — 
How doth the nightingale rejoice
To imitate my ductile voice!”
“Nay,” cries Dimitri, “I opine
Since last I sung, she copies mine!”
“Thy croaking voice!” — “Thy languid strain!”
“Thou guest ungrateful!” — “Songster vain!”
Louder their angry words arose
Till ends the fierce dispute in blows,
And each before the Cadi goes
Sage Mustaphi in awful state
Heard and reviewed the sharp debate;
Nay, e’ev their mutual songs he heard,
Twirling his whiskers and his beard.
Impartial justice then to show,
He fined them both, for every blow
And gravely said, “It now remains
To say, for whom the bulbul’s strains:
Then go your ways, learn to agree,
For, infidels, she sang for me.”