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The fresh arrivals of the week before;
For they press in from all the provinces,
And fill the hive."

She spoke, and, bowing, waved
Dismissal back again we crost the court
To Lady Psyche's: as we enter'd in,

There sat along the forms, like morning doves
That sun their milky bosoms on the thatch,
A patient range of pupils; she herself
Erect behind a desk of satin-wood,

A quick brunette, well-moulded, falcon-eyed,
And on the hither side, or so she look'd,
Of twenty summers. At her left, a child,
In shining draperies, headed like a star,
Her maiden babe, a double April old,
Aglaïa slept. We sat the Lady glanced :
Then Florian, but no livelier than the dame
That whisper'd "Asses' ears," among the sedge,


My sister." "Comely, too, by all that's fair," Said Cyril. "O hush, hush!" and she began.


"This world was once a fluid haze of light, Till toward the centre set the starry tides, And eddied into suns, that wheeling cast



87. Forms, benches. The picture, the first of several such, though beautiful, has a touch of the condescension noticeable throughout the poem; one easily sees in it “ The hand that played the patron with her curls" (Prologue, 138).

90. Notice the feminine tastes displayed in all the material furniture of the palace, and associate it as a general trait with that noted in line 61 above.

93. A child. Notice the introduction of the child, an important element in the plot. See the Introduction.

97. The dame, the wife of Midas, who, unable to keep the secret confided to her by her husband, that he had asses' ears, told it to the water by the sedge. Rolfe quotes Chaucer, Wife of Bath's Tale, as the authority followed by Tennyson.

101-104. A brief statement of the theory of the evolution of the universe out of a nebular state.

The planets then the monster, then the man ;
Tattoo'd or woaded, winter-clad in skins,

Raw from the prime, and crushing down his mate;
As yet we find in barbarous isles, and here
Among the lowest."

Thereupon she took

A bird's-eye-view of all the ungracious past;
Glanced at the legendary Amazon
As emblematic of a nobler age;

Appraised the Lycian custom, spoke of those
That lay at wine with Lar and Lucumo;
Ran down the Persian, Grecian, Roman lines
Of empire, and the woman's state in each,
How far from just; till warming with her theme
She fulmined out her scorn of laws Salique
And little-footed China, touch'd on Mahomet
With much contempt, and came to chivalry:


104. Monster, the vast animals of the early ages of the earth. 105. Woaded, dyed with the blue of the woad-plant, as the ancient Britons were.

106. Raw from the prime, just come into being, and untouched by any civility, the primitive barbarian; the underlying suggestion is that this is man's true and original nature, fundamentally rude and brutal. 110. Amazon, a nation of female warriors of Asia Minor, celebrated in Greek legendary history.

112. Appraised, estimated or weighed; cf. (of a babe), Enoch Arden, "appraised his weight."

Lycian custom, that of tracing descent by the female instead of the male line, in accordance with which family names were taken from the mother instead of the father.

113. The Etruscan women are represented in wall paintings as feasting with their lords. Lucumo was the title of an Etruscan noble, the head of his family; Lar, that of his eldest son.

117. Laws Salique. The Salic law excluded women from inheritance in land, and more particularly from the throne, in France. 118. Little-footed. The feet of Chinese women are artificially dwarfed. Mahomet, the prophet of Islam, or the Mahometans, in whose religion the place of women is low.

119. Chivalry, the times of the medieval knights, when the respect paid to women became devotion.

When some respect, however slight, was paid
To woman, superstition all awry:

However then commenced the dawn: a beam
Had slanted forward, falling in a land

Of promise; fruit would follow. Deep, indeed,
Their debt of thanks to her who first had dared
To leap the rotten pales of prejudice,

Disyoke their necks from custom, and assert



None lordlier than themselves but that which made
Woman and man. She had founded; they must build.
Here might they learn whatever men were taught:
Let them not fear: some said their heads were less :
Some men's were small; not they the least of men ;
For often fineness compensated size:

Besides the brain was like the hand, and grew
With using; thence the man's, if more was more;
He took advantage of his strength to be
First in the field: some ages had been lost;
But woman ripen'd earlier, and her life
Was longer; and albeit their glorious names.
Were fewer, scatter'd stars, yet since in truth
The highest is the measure of the man,
And not the Kaffir, Hottentot, Malay,
Nor those horn-handed breakers of the glebe,


126. Pales, fence: the word suggests also the sense of inclosure or bound, and the force of the metaphor is to break the bounds of convention.

131. The heads of some men, and those not the least in intellectual power, were small; the fineness of the brain fibre and the intricacy of its convolutions make up for the mere size and weight of the brain; and hence the smallness of women's heads does not necessarily imply inferiority of intellect. A second consideration is that the brain grows with use, and man had the advantage derived from earlier and greater use; but as women come to maturity earlier than men, and live longer, that lost time may be made up. This argument does not invite much consideration. The third point in favor of woman's mental equality with man is that her capacity is to be measured by that of the greatest of the sex, as man's is.

143. Horn-handed breakers of the glebe, peasants, clod-breakers.

But Homer, Plato, Verulam; even so
With woman and in arts of government,
Elizabeth and others; arts of war,

The peasant Joan and others; arts of grace,
Sappho and others vied with any man :

And, last not least, she who had left her place,

And bow'd her state to them, that they might grow 150 To use and power on this Oasis, lapt

In the arms of leisure, sacred from the blight

Of ancient influence and scorn.

She rose upon a wind of prophecy

At last

Dilating on the future; "everywhere

Two heads in council, two beside the hearth,
Two in the tangled business of the world,
Two in the liberal offices of life,

Two plummets dropt for one to sound the abyss
Of science, and the secrets of the mind:
Musician, painter, sculptor, critic, more:
And everywhere the broad and bounteous Earth
Should bear a double growth of those rare souls,
Poets, whose thoughts enrich the blood of the world."

She ended here, and beckon'd us the rest
Parted; and, glowing full-faced welcome, she
Began to address us, and was moving on
In gratulation, till as when a boat

Tacks, and the slacken'd sail flaps, all her voice


144. Verulam, Bacon. Homer is here the measure of poetic power; Plato, of speculative philosophy; and Bacon, of experimental philosophy.

146. Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth of England (1558–1603).

147. Joan, Joan of Arc (1412-1431).

148. Sappho, a Greek poetess (circa 600 B.c.).

149. Place, her position in the court.

156. Two heads, man and woman, instead of man alone.

166. Parted, departed.

168. Gratulation, congratulation.

Faltering and fluttering in her throat, she cried,

"My brother!" "Well, my sister." "O," she said, "What do you here? and in this dress? and these ? Why, who are these? a wolf within the fold!

A pack of wolves! the Lord be gracious to me!
A plot, a plot, a plot, to ruin all !"

"No plot, no plot," he answer'd.

"Wretched boy,

How saw you not the inscription on the gate,


"And if I had," he answer'd, "who could think The softer Adams of your Academe,

O sister, Sirens tho' they be, were such

As chanted on the blanching bones of men ?"
"But you will find it otherwise," she said.
"You jest ill jesting with edge-tools! my vow
Binds me to speak, and O that iron will,
That axelike edge unturnable, our Head,
The Princess." "Well then, Psyche, take my life,
And nail me like a weasel on a grange

For warning: bury me beside the gate,
And cut this epitaph above my bones;
Here lies a brother by a sister slain,

All for the common good of womankind."
"Let me die, too," said Cyril, "having seen
And heard the Lady Psyche."

I struck in:
"Albeit so mask'd, Madam, I love the truth;

178. Cf. I., 209.




180. Softer Adams, the women who were trying to be all that men


Academe, academy: the name suggests, in this form, Plato's academy, the source and pattern of the schools for higher instruction and learning in ancient days.

181. Sirens, sea-nymphs who, by their singing, fascinated sailors and drew them to shipwreck on the island rocks.

188. Weasel on a grange. It was formerly a custom to nail on the barn-door any of the small wild creatures that commit petty depredations about a farm, as a warning to others of the species.

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