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Dating Demographics – Who’s In Charge?

[Note: There are many links in the post. Some of those links connect to more articles and essays about this subject. The subsequent reader comments in such articles are many and interesting. This is a swiftly developing rabbit hole but worth exploring and furthering the discussion often and widely.]

There have been some very recent public discussion on the ‘Net and in the mainstream media about the demographics of dating and how the impacts dating and mating behavior between the sexes. The release of the book, Date-onomics, is motivating the discussion. It’s no surprise that Evan Marc Katz, successful dating coach for professional women, published a blog post that has motivated over 180 comments from his readers. Those comments are worth reading because he attracts a thoughtful blog audience.

Other media content has also been produced in the past couple of weeks about Date-onomics including Time, the New York Post, Good Morning America, the Chicago Tribune, Glamour Magazine, Huffington Post, public radio and private radio station interviews with the author, John Birger (his blog). Naturally, the Manosphere has chimed in as well. This book and the subject it raises must be discussed often and everywhere, especially in big cities where the author accurately describes the realities of dating demographics. These realities are even more acute for the post-divorce crowd of singles.

There is a not-so-curious oversight of a key concept in all this coverage of dating demographics and the shortage of college-educated single men. Manosphere and Red Pill observers will immediately see hypergamy as the biggest hurdle that college-educated women face. This word, however, will seldom be used outside of the ‘sphere because such nomenclature acknowledges basic biological behavior that might work against the feminine imperative. The ideology of the human “blank slate” is still too strong for the mainstream media to accept, much less openly question it.

Hypergamy in women is so strong that otherwise intelligent and thoughtful single women will rationalize their inability to find men with whom to meet their relationship goal(s). The rationalizing results in some very predictable female responses to the stark reality of dating demographics and the dating market place:

1. Men are intimidated by my education and career.

2. There’s a man out there for me and I just have to wait and prince charming will show up.

3. I’m happy being single so I refuse to “settle”.

The reason for such strong rationalizing is that hypergamy is hard-wired into a woman’s DNA. Men rightfully raise an enormous hew and cry about women’s dating and relationship choices. We want women to make the first move. We want them to be willing to date or marry “down”. Jon Birger talks about “mixed collar” relationships. This will actually happen but such relationships will be the rare exception.

The mixed-collar relations will receive a huge and massively disproportionate amount of media attention, much like the stay at home dad phenomenon. The reality will be that the majority of women will quietly accept their hypergamous fate by being part of a man’s soft harem or filling their time with enthusiasms or an active social life with other single women. What will not happen is the reduction of a woman’s pickiness. Sorry guys, women would rather be unfulfilled in their relationship goals than accept anything less than they feel they deserve. Their biological need for security – emotional, physical, and financial – prevents the eradication of hypergamy through social expectations. Social expectations simply can’t erase this through facts and shame. Women have too much emotional investment in their perception of their own desirability.

As has been pointed out in many of the dating demographic articles and essays, online dating completely distorts the dating market place for women. The wide “availability” of men doing online dating means that a woman can easily reject a guy because there’s another incoming message from sexually or relationally thirsty guy who’s cranking out the messages. What women ignore, however, is that only the most physically attractive women are getting the online attention. This is especially true for the over-40 female demographic. Women quietly drop out of the online dating marketplace when the men they desire aren’t messaging them or, worse, the messages the women send out to desirable men are simply ignored. It’s easier to stop trying than work on one’s self to be more attractive to men.

There is also a variation in dating demographics based on geography. Jon Birgen points this out in his book. New York City is a terrible place for college-educated, career-focused single women looking for a relationship. That also holds for here in South Florida. In Fort Lauderdale, for every 100 college-educated single men there are 171 college-educated single women. But out West, things are a better for single women. Birgen mentions Silicon Valley as a particular geography where there are more single, college-educated men. But would a woman move there to date nerds? I don’t see it. The lure of Manhattan or Fort Lauderdale is simply too great despite the shortage of suitable men.

With all this attention being focused on dating demographics, this question becomes very important: For college-educated, post-divorce singles, who is in charge of the dating market place, men or women? Demographically speaking for the large metropolitan areas, men are in charge. After all, men are the gatekeepers to commitment. We do the asking and the proposing. However, there is one huge caveat to this, it’s only the most attractive men who call the shots in the post-divorce dating market place. The majority of essentially invisible men aren’t in charge of anything related to dating, they are the leftovers for women, unworthy of even a “hello” and only worth a quick “no way!” when displayed as an online dating profile.

Hypergamy will continue to be the order of day for women and men must deal with it realistically. Hypergamy is the oxygen in the air of the dating market place. It frustrates, depresses, but ultimately motivates women. Without it, women wouldn’t constantly looking for the bigger, better deal in a man. For guys in the top 20% or the ones actively bettering themselves to become part of that 20%, hypergamy keeps women sexually and relationally active. Men must adapt or lose out of the dating and relationship game.

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27 thoughts on “Dating Demographics – Who’s In Charge?

  1. rugby11ljh on said:

    1. Men are intimidated by my education and career.

    I’m not but I got a lot of self work to do.

  2. Pingback: Dating Demographics – Who’s In Charge? | Manosphere.com

  3. honeycomb on said:


    1. Men are intimidated by my education and career.
    2. There’s a man out there for me and I just have to wait and prince charming will show up.
    3. I’m happy being single so I refuse to “settle”.

    1. ROFL
    2. Keep dreaming
    3. Well this one I agree with .. ANY MAN will be in this category .. regardless of the man. At some point you will feel like you settled. Welcome to your pretty little lie.

    You wimminz are easy marks for EMK.

  4. http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/evanmarckatz.com

    Scroll down to the audience demographics. Tells you all you need to know about EMK.

    Between EMK is just a better looking Hugo Schwytzer.
    http://therationalmale.com/2012/11/27/boys-will-be-boys/

    • I’ve read some of his stuff and seen some of his videos. I think his coaching work in private is a careful (and profitable) delivery of essentially Red Pill truths. If he was giving bad advice, he wouldn’t be in business very long. Of course his website’s audience is mostly women because his entire market is mostly post-divorce, college-educated, career women.

      In the beginning of his coaching efforts, he did try to market to men. At that time, the men weren’t interested. I know he reads several Manosphere blogs, certainly mine and likely yours, too. I stand by my assertion that successful dating coaches are working quietly to sort out the madness that is the contemporary conflict between the sexes in the context of attraction and dating. By the way, I know little of Schwytzer.

  5. A comment about Silicon Valley. Karen Strahan recently desciribed, accurately, that many of the men in tech fields are socially awkward, neuro-atypical males. Very true. And we are hated and loathed by modern feminists for not being George Cloony (who also couldn’t manage to stay married).

  6. Jon Birger talks about “mixed collar” relationships. This will actually happen but such relationships will be the rare exception.

    These types of relationships are common where I live. Even when I lived in Toronto and Vancouver I knew plenty of mixed collar couples. But, the culture treats the trades differently than in the States. Schools are competitive to get into and the programs are rigorous. Many upper class parents have no qualms sending their children to trade institutes over university. In many cases, it’s more profitable, and respectable. I get the impression from reading blogs from the States that the trades are stigmatized and the rout people without options are forced into. Or at least that’s the impression that I get.

    • The trades are not stigmatized so much in a general social context. However, the trades here in the United States are certainly part of an attraction and dating hierarchy as it relates to hypergamy. As you have read, the vast majority of college-educated women here simply won’t get into a long-term relationship with a man without the stereotypical college education.

      There may come a time when the trades here in the U.S. are far more respected. This may indeed happen because many trade workers are getting close to retirement and next generation (not enough of them here!) must indeed attend some type of vocational school and take tests to receive the appropriate certification(s). Are these trade institutes competitive here to advance the social stature of such work in the eyes of potential paramours? I don’t know this. I do know that quite a few trades in this country pay quite well.

    • Gilbert on said:

      I would agree that in the States, a tradesman is not considered particularly “high class” as a mate choice for the college educated. That could be partly because a lot of people get into it without any formal training, e.g. the trade institutes you mentioned. Certification standards also vary from state to state, and many contractors in some less regulated places do things like plumbing and electrical work without any formal certifications.

      Hopefully at some point people will realize that a competent solo contractor can make very good money. The ones I hire, when I can squeeze onto their schedule, probably average better yearly income than some of the lawyers I’ve hired. Less per billed hour, but they can bill as many hours as they want to work, most lawyers are really struggling for billable hours these days.

  7. “Men must adapt or lose out of the dating and relationship game.”

    More tradcon nonsense. Opt out, watch the decline, enjoy your life without taking on the constant threat of utter destruction that today’s “modern woman” represents in marriage (or live-in relationship). There is NO victory through self-immolation.

  8. The Old Codger on said:

    The ONLY relationship a man needs is an occasional hit in the sack or even just a make out, with the accompanying date for dinner or just drinks.

    No need to further burden yourself dealing with the half-crazed, selfish, security-minded creatures divorced, post-40 American women have become. ( A too common trait expressed by these women on dating sites is the desire to “travel”, a very expensive and mostly bothersome exercise for most men. Dead giveaway that they’re looking for that ATM to help them travel in comfort!)

    For the most part, leave them to their cats and girlfriends and “travel”, while you enjoy the occasional sortie into their world of “crazy”.

  9. If you ever hear a woman asking “where have all the good men gone”, just say “same place as all the good women.” It will take her exactly eight milliseconds to realise you’re onto her act and give you That Sharp Look.

    You’re right. Men need to get with the program. Learn to live well on your own and enjoy what you female company you can get when you can get it. Women don’t validate us, and they don’t complete us. The most they can do is let us live a slightly more varied life than we do on our own, because we have to entertain them.

  10. I think it’s definitely possible to overcome hypergamy, but it requires tremendous government intervention and strong social reinforcement. In saner times, most societies were well aware of hypergamy and attempted to restrict it as much as possible. Men were placed at the head of the household and well regarded in society. Women were subordinate and took on nurturing tasks. Divorce was prevented legally, and when it did occur, there were tremendous social costs in order to discourage it. Women would refer to this time as oppressive, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s true that women were subordinate in the household, and some restrictions were placed on their potentially destructive actions, but there are countless exceptions of women during this period who owned property and ran successful businesses.

    For the majority of women, they lived happier, more fulfilling lives. Even after hollywood, there were much less depictions of unrealistic super alphas for women to fantasize about. By being subordinate to their husbands and elevating men in society, it was much easier for men to fulfill the hypergamous need of women to find a man who is higher status and worthy of their respect. By removing the incentives for divorce, more attractive people were progressively taken off the market, and stayed off. Whoever was left in the dating pool was their best option, and people had much more realistic expectations of who they could get in a relationship. There would no longer be hundreds of women chasing the same guy under the illusion that the guy that will sleep with her might also commit to her. There would no longer be the searing resentment of women who had wasted their youth chasing after a guy who wouldn’t commit. There would no longer be nearly as many women putting off marriage until her biological clock has almost run out, or until she dies alone. Being raised in households of nurturing mothers and chaste women gave men tremendous respect for women, which still has yet to subside even after they have largely debased themselves. Greater alphas suffered slightly, as their sexual variety was curtailed, but they weren’t subject to million dollar divorces at least. Though for most people this system benefited everyone. Nearly every man had a stake in the posterity of their children, and their society, and worked tirelessly to provide everything for their families and their future. The fruits of their labors were felt by everyone in that society. Children grew up in stable homes and were less likely to turn to crime. Most women ended up married, with large, loving families, and relatives to look after them when they grew old.

    A small group of unmarried, hateful women were jealous of the majority of women with their happy, healthy families. Feminism grew from a radical movement and reached mainstream. At first, they demanded equality in everything. When men were happy to oblige, women found they were no longer entitled to the resources of hardworking men, and they were terrified at their new-found independence. All pretense of equality was swiftly quashed. To women, their idea of equality did not mean greater freedom while accepting the consequences of their actions, rather it meant greater freedom while forcing the consequences of their actions on others. The laws were quietly changed so that women could now destroy their families for any reason, while demanding decades of slavery from the men, on pain of jail. In a process that is still evolving, men have adapted to understand the totalitarian nature of the regime, and began withdrawing their participation. As awareness of the injustice of this system grows, it’s only a matter of time before that rebellion reaches critical mass.

    Men have largely realized it’s pointless to work hard for anyone else, so they earn just enough to spend their free time cruising for easy hook ups on Tinder, or drinking craft beers and playing video games. Women are already starting to grow frustrated with the lack of commitment from men and their lack of ability to find suitable husbands. I suspect there are millions of women who find themselves alone and childless at the end of their lives that are quietly furious from following the flawed advice pushed by hateful feminists. As more men turn away, women will be forced to offer more and more to make marriage attractive to men again. As men no longer have any incentive to produce, governments will watch in fear as their tax revenues dry up. In time, the pendulum will reverse. But by then, the wool will have been lifted from the eyes of countless men. We will have come to fully understand the nature of hypergamy, and our role in the bait and switch game. By then, will it be too late? We will have already tasted freedom. What could they possibly offer to change the minds of millions of men? I suspect the unquestioned trust and respect that men cultivated towards women for centuries will be shattered in the fallout from a few generations of radical feminism. Society will be unstable, brutish, and dangerous. Governments will once again want productive citizens and intact families who aren’t a burden on the limited resources of the state. They will come to the same conclusion that great civilizations have come to for millenia: patriarchal marriage. And the cycle repeats.

    • Marriage will sort itself out. I doubt that we will see a return to marriage 1,0. unless society collapses. And even then, resentfully. If people really wanted it, they;d have it, Deep down, marriage 1.0 is need based, And need is based on fear, not love. Doesn’t mean love doesn’t exist in those relationships, but need is the foundation. The world was a dangerous place to raise children to adulthood.

      2.0 is a transition. The vision is there, but the map isn’t, Humans are wired to push against adversity, which for millenia, was survival. That same wiring is being directed inward toward the marriage. (drama , divorce and the dividing of resources.)

      Deep down, we know we’re past it. We just aren’t ready for the courage and self responsibility required for marriage 3.0 If we get there as a society, the same wiring can be directed for something very wonderful. Success over survival. Love over need. We’re at a point in time were it can transition forward or backward.

      • How do you envision marriage 3.0? How will it reconcile the sexual needs of men and security needs of women?

      • We’re at a point in time were it can transition forward or backward.

        By backward I assume that means a return to Marriage 1.0. If that is the case in your opinion, what do you envision as the future of marriage? I’m not particularly optimistic unless family law is seriously reformed and incentives are created that serve to encourage long term, committed relationships. This might be marriage or another type of public commitment between a man and a woman.

      • I think that marriage 3.0 would have little tolerance for government or legal interference. Again, fear based. The less fear based, the less need for legal controls. But that requires a society of self actualized people.

        Entitlement issues toward another person to demand sex or security have no place in marriage 3.0. That’s scarcity mentality. A healthy relationship would give both freely and abundantly. And that means that marriage was entered into knowing that you are capable of meeting your sexual or security needs with or without marriage. It’s two whole people coming together in love. As oppossed to the “you complete me” ideal that is popular in today’s culture.

        Drama vs passion, Marriage 3.0 would require growth over drama. And that’s where our wiring would require success over survival and love over need. That requires courage, self responsibility, honouring differences and risk.

        I don’t think that society is there yet, And that we will see a lot of different arrangements along the way. Some beneficial, others destructive. Ultimately, even if we get to the point of marriage 3.0, we would see less marriage.

      • GeminiXcX on said:

        Real love requires “need”, SV, you are quite mistaken.
        Your posts remind me of the foolishness found in women’s dating profiles: “I don’t need a man, but I want one!”

        No thanks; if you only “want” something/someone, then they are easily discarded when you decide you just want someone else.

        Your “Marriage 3.0” sounds like universal hippie-philosophy, which would be less than 1.0. It would be a return to the animal kingdom with the most base instincts. No “love”, just “lust” and endless feral offspring.

        Some devolving people may, indeed, not want marriage1.0, but we need it. Unfortunately, the arrogance of “modern” thinkers like yourself has always led to the destruction of the empire.

        Only the “old” ways work; the disappearing/forgotten lesson will be realized again — that is if any surface life survives the next “reset”. The past was swords and clubs; now buttons can set off thermo-nuclear warheads.

        Humans, they’re stupid creatures.

        Oh well, just give me a good seat and some last bags o’ munchies for the final show!

        -GXcX

      • rugby11ljh on said:

        Endymion, Book I, [A thing of beauty is a joy for ever]
        John Keats, 1795 – 1821

        Book I

        A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
        Its loveliness increases; it will never
        Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
        A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
        Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
        Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
        A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
        Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
        Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
        Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkened ways
        Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
        Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
        From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
        Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon
        For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
        With the green world they live in; and clear rills
        That for themselves a cooling covert make
        ‘Gainst the hot season; the mid forest brake,
        Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
        And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
        We have imagined for the mighty dead;
        All lovely tales that we have heard or read:
        An endless fountain of immortal drink,
        Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink.

        Nor do we merely feel these essences
        For one short hour; no, even as the trees
        That whisper round a temple become soon
        Dear as the temple’s self, so does the moon,
        The passion poesy, glories infinite,
        Haunt us till they become a cheering light
        Unto our souls, and bound to us so fast,
        That, whether there be shine, or gloom o’ercast,
        They alway must be with us, or we die.

        Therefore, ’tis with full happiness that I
        Will trace the story of Endymion.
        The very music of the name has gone
        Into my being, and each pleasant scene
        Is growing fresh before me as the green
        Of our own vallies: so I will begin
        Now while I cannot hear the city’s din;
        Now while the early budders are just new,
        And run in mazes of the youngest hue
        About old forests; while the willow trails
        Its delicate amber; and the dairy pails
        Bring home increase of milk. And, as the year
        Grows lush in juicy stalks, I’ll smoothly steer
        My little boat, for many quiet hours,
        With streams that deepen freshly into bowers.
        Many and many a verse I hope to write,
        Before the daisies, vermeil rimm’d and white,
        Hide in deep herbage; and ere yet the bees
        Hum about globes of clover and sweet peas,
        I must be near the middle of my story.
        O may no wintry season, bare and hoary,
        See it half finished: but let Autumn bold,
        With universal tinge of sober gold,
        Be all about me when I make an end.
        And now at once, adventuresome, I send
        My herald thought into a wilderness:
        There let its trumpet blow, and quickly dress
        My uncertain path with green, that I may speed
        Easily onward, thorough flowers and weed.

        Upon the sides of Latmos was outspread
        A mighty forest; for the moist earth fed
        So plenteously all weed-hidden roots
        Into o’er-hanging boughs, and precious fruits.
        And it had gloomy shades, sequestered deep,
        Where no man went; and if from shepherd’s keep
        A lamb strayed far a-down those inmost glens,
        Never again saw he the happy pens
        Whither his brethren, bleating with content,
        Over the hills at every nightfall went.
        Among the shepherds, ’twas believed ever,
        That not one fleecy lamb which thus did sever
        From the white flock, but pass’d unworried
        By angry wolf, or pard with prying head,
        Until it came to some unfooted plains
        Where fed the herds of Pan: ay great his gains
        Who thus one lamb did lose. Paths there were many,
        Winding through palmy fern, and rushes fenny,
        And ivy banks; all leading pleasantly
        To a wide lawn, whence one could only see
        Stems thronging all around between the swell
        Of turf and slanting branches: who could tell
        The freshness of the space of heaven above,
        Edg’d round with dark tree tops? through which a dove
        Would often beat its wings, and often too
        A little cloud would move across the blue.

        Full in the middle of this pleasantness
        There stood a marble altar, with a tress
        Of flowers budded newly; and the dew
        Had taken fairy phantasies to strew
        Daisies upon the sacred sward last eve,
        And so the dawned light in pomp receive.
        For ’twas the morn: Apollo’s upward fire
        Made every eastern cloud a silvery pyre
        Of brightness so unsullied, that therein
        A melancholy spirit well might win
        Oblivion, and melt out his essence fine
        Into the winds: rain-scented eglantine
        Gave temperate sweets to that well-wooing sun;
        The lark was lost in him; cold springs had run
        To warm their chilliest bubbles in the grass;
        Man’s voice was on the mountains; and the mass
        Of nature’s lives and wonders puls’d tenfold,
        To feel this sun-rise and its glories old.

        Now while the silent workings of the dawn
        Were busiest, into that self-same lawn
        All suddenly, with joyful cries, there sped
        A troop of little children garlanded;
        Who gathering round the altar, seemed to pry
        Earnestly round as wishing to espy
        Some folk of holiday: nor had they waited
        For many moments, ere their ears were sated
        With a faint breath of music, which ev’n then
        Fill’d out its voice, and died away again.
        Within a little space again it gave
        Its airy swellings, with a gentle wave,
        To light-hung leaves, in smoothest echoes breaking
        Through copse-clad vallies,—ere their death, oer-taking
        The surgy murmurs of the lonely sea.

        And now, as deep into the wood as we
        Might mark a lynx’s eye, there glimmered light
        Fair faces and a rush of garments white,
        Plainer and plainer shewing, till at last
        Into the widest alley they all past,
        Making directly for the woodland altar.
        O kindly muse! let not my weak tongue faulter
        In telling of this goodly company,
        Of their old piety, and of their glee:
        But let a portion of ethereal dew
        Fall on my head, and presently unmew
        My soul; that I may dare, in wayfaring,
        To stammer where old Chaucer used to sing.

        Leading the way, young damsels danced along,
        Bearing the burden of a shepherd song;
        Each having a white wicker over brimm’d
        With April’s tender younglings: next, well trimm’d,
        A crowd of shepherds with as sunburnt looks
        As may be read of in Arcadian books;
        Such as sat listening round Apollo’s pipe,
        When the great deity, for earth too ripe,
        Let his divinity o’er-flowing die
        In music, through the vales of Thessaly:
        Some idly trailed their sheep-hooks on the ground,
        And some kept up a shrilly mellow sound
        With ebon-tipped flutes: close after these,
        Now coming from beneath the forest trees,
        A venerable priest full soberly,
        Begirt with ministring looks: alway his eye
        Stedfast upon the matted turf he kept,
        And after him his sacred vestments swept.
        From his right hand there swung a vase, milk-white,
        Of mingled wine, out-sparkling generous light;
        And in his left he held a basket full
        Of all sweet herbs that searching eye could cull:
        Wild thyme, and valley-lilies whiter still
        Than Leda’s love, and cresses from the rill.
        His aged head, crowned with beechen wreath,
        Seem’d like a poll of ivy in the teeth
        Of winter hoar. Then came another crowd
        Of shepherds, lifting in due time aloud
        Their share of the ditty. After them appear’d,
        Up-followed by a multitude that rear’d
        Their voices to the clouds, a fair wrought car,
        Easily rolling so as scarce to mar
        The freedom of three steeds of dapple brown:
        Who stood therein did seem of great renown
        Among the throng. His youth was fully blown,
        Shewing like Ganymede to manhood grown;
        And, for those simple times, his garments were
        A chieftain king’s: beneath his breast, half bare,
        Was hung a silver bugle, and between
        His nervy knees there lay a boar-spear keen.
        A smile was on his countenance; he seem’d,
        To common lookers on, like one who dream’d
        Of idleness in groves Elysian:
        But there were some who feelingly could scan
        A lurking trouble in his nether lip,
        And see that oftentimes the reins would slip
        Through his forgotten hands: then would they sigh,
        And think of yellow leaves, of owlets cry,
        Of logs piled solemnly.—Ah, well-a-day,
        Why should our young Endymion pine away!

        Soon the assembly, in a circle rang’d,
        Stood silent round the shrine: each look was chang’d
        To sudden veneration: women meek
        Beckon’d their sons to silence; while each cheek
        Of virgin bloom paled gently for slight fear.
        Endymion too, without a forest peer,
        Stood, wan, and pale, and with an awed face,
        Among his brothers of the mountain chase.
        In midst of all, the venerable priest
        Eyed them with joy from greatest to the least,
        And, after lifting up his aged hands,
        Thus spake he: “Men of Latmos! shepherd bands!
        Whose care it is to guard a thousand flocks:
        Whether descended from beneath the rocks
        That overtop your mountains; whether come
        From vallies where the pipe is never dumb;
        Or from your swelling downs, where sweet air stirs
        Blue hare-bells lightly, and where prickly furze
        Buds lavish gold; or ye, whose precious charge
        Nibble their fill at ocean’s very marge,
        Whose mellow reeds are touch’d with sounds forlorn
        By the dim echoes of old Triton’s horn:
        Mothers and wives! who day by day prepare
        The scrip, with needments, for the mountain air;
        And all ye gentle girls who foster up
        Udderless lambs, and in a little cup
        Will put choice honey for a favoured youth:
        Yea, every one attend! for in good truth
        Our vows are wanting to our great god Pan.
        Are not our lowing heifers sleeker than
        Night-swollen mushrooms? Are not our wide plains
        Speckled with countless fleeces? Have not rains
        Green’d over April’s lap? No howling sad
        Sickens our fearful ewes; and we have had
        Great bounty from Endymion our lord.
        The earth is glad: the merry lark has pour’d
        His early song against yon breezy sky,
        That spreads so clear o’er our solemnity.”

        Thus ending, on the shrine he heap’d a spire
        Of teeming sweets, enkindling sacred fire;
        Anon he stain’d the thick and spongy sod
        With wine, in honour of the shepherd-god.
        Now while the earth was drinking it, and while
        Bay leaves were crackling in the fragrant pile,
        And gummy frankincense was sparkling bright
        ‘Neath smothering parsley, and a hazy light
        Spread greyly eastward, thus a chorus sang:

        “O THOU, whose mighty palace roof doth hang
        From jagged trunks, and overshadoweth
        Eternal whispers, glooms, the birth, life, death
        Of unseen flowers in heavy peacefulness;
        Who lov’st to see the hamadryads dress
        Their ruffled locks where meeting hazels darken;
        And through whole solemn hours dost sit, and hearken
        The dreary melody of bedded reeds—
        In desolate places, where dank moisture breeds
        The pipy hemlock to strange overgrowth;
        Bethinking thee, how melancholy loth
        Thou wast to lose fair Syrinx—do thou now,
        By thy love’s milky brow!
        By all the trembling mazes that she ran,
        Hear us, great Pan!

        “O thou, for whose soul-soothing quiet, turtles
        Passion their voices cooingly ‘mong myrtles,
        What time thou wanderest at eventide
        Through sunny meadows, that outskirt the side
        Of thine enmossed realms: O thou, to whom
        Broad leaved fig trees even now foredoom
        Their ripen’d fruitage; yellow girted bees
        Their golden honeycombs; our village leas
        Their fairest-blossom’d beans and poppied corn;
        The chuckling linnet its five young unborn,
        To sing for thee; low creeping strawberries
        Their summer coolness; pent up butterflies
        Their freckled wings; yea, the fresh budding year
        All its completions—be quickly near,
        By every wind that nods the mountain pine,
        O forester divine!

        “Thou, to whom every fawn and satyr flies
        For willing service; whether to surprise
        The squatted hare while in half sleeping fit;
        Or upward ragged precipices flit
        To save poor lambkins from the eagle’s maw;
        Or by mysterious enticement draw
        Bewildered shepherds to their path again;
        Or to tread breathless round the frothy main,
        And gather up all fancifullest shells
        For thee to tumble into Naiads’ cells,
        And, being hidden, laugh at their out-peeping;
        Or to delight thee with fantastic leaping,
        The while they pelt each other on the crown
        With silvery oak apples, and fir cones brown—
        By all the echoes that about thee ring,
        Hear us, O satyr king!

        “O Hearkener to the loud clapping shears,
        While ever and anon to his shorn peers
        A ram goes bleating: Winder of the horn,
        When snouted wild-boars routing tender corn
        Anger our huntsman: Breather round our farms,
        To keep off mildews, and all weather harms:
        Strange ministrant of undescribed sounds,
        That come a swooning over hollow grounds,
        And wither drearily on barren moors:
        Dread opener of the mysterious doors
        Leading to universal knowledge—see,
        Great son of Dryope,
        The many that are come to pay their vows
        With leaves about their brows!

        Be still the unimaginable lodge
        For solitary thinkings; such as dodge
        Conception to the very bourne of heaven,
        Then leave the naked brain: be still the leaven,
        That spreading in this dull and clodded earth
        Gives it a touch ethereal—a new birth:
        Be still a symbol of immensity;
        A firmament reflected in a sea;
        An element filling the space between;
        An unknown—but no more: we humbly screen
        With uplift hands our foreheads, lowly bending,
        And giving out a shout most heaven rending,
        Conjure thee to receive our humble Paean,
        Upon thy Mount Lycean!

        Even while they brought the burden to a close,
        A shout from the whole multitude arose,
        That lingered in the air like dying rolls
        Of abrupt thunder, when Ionian shoals
        Of dolphins bob their noses through the brine.
        Meantime, on shady levels, mossy fine,
        Young companies nimbly began dancing
        To the swift treble pipe, and humming string.
        Aye, those fair living forms swam heavenly
        To tunes forgotten—out of memory:
        Fair creatures! whose young children’s children bred
        Thermopylæ its heroes—not yet dead,
        But in old marbles ever beautiful.
        High genitors, unconscious did they cull
        Time’s sweet first-fruits—they danc’d to weariness,
        And then in quiet circles did they press
        The hillock turf, and caught the latter end
        Of some strange history, potent to send
        A young mind from its bodily tenement.
        Or they might watch the quoit-pitchers, intent
        On either side; pitying the sad death
        Of Hyacinthus, when the cruel breath
        Of Zephyr slew him,—Zephyr penitent,
        Who now, ere Phoebus mounts the firmament,
        Fondles the flower amid the sobbing rain.
        The archers too, upon a wider plain,
        Beside the feathery whizzing of the shaft,
        And the dull twanging bowstring, and the raft
        Branch down sweeping from a tall ash top,
        Call’d up a thousand thoughts to envelope
        Those who would watch. Perhaps, the trembling knee
        And frantic gape of lonely Niobe,
        Poor, lonely Niobe! when her lovely young
        Were dead and gone, and her caressing tongue
        Lay a lost thing upon her paly lip,
        And very, very deadliness did nip
        Her motherly cheeks. Arous’d from this sad mood
        By one, who at a distance loud halloo’d,
        Uplifting his strong bow into the air,
        Many might after brighter visions stare:
        After the Argonauts, in blind amaze
        Tossing about on Neptune’s restless ways,
        Until, from the horizon’s vaulted side,
        There shot a golden splendour far and wide,
        Spangling those million poutings of the brine
        With quivering ore: ’twas even an awful shine
        From the exaltation of Apollo’s bow;
        A heavenly beacon in their dreary woe.
        Who thus were ripe for high contemplating,
        Might turn their steps towards the sober ring
        Where sat Endymion and the aged priest
        ‘Mong shepherds gone in eld, whose looks increas’d
        The silvery setting of their mortal star.
        There they discours’d upon the fragile bar
        That keeps us from our homes ethereal;
        And what our duties there: to nightly call
        Vesper, the beauty-crest of summer weather;
        To summon all the downiest clouds together
        For the sun’s purple couch; to emulate
        In ministring the potent rule of fate
        With speed of fire-tailed exhalations;
        To tint her pallid cheek with bloom, who cons
        Sweet poesy by moonlight: besides these,
        A world of other unguess’d offices.
        Anon they wander’d, by divine converse,
        Into Elysium; vieing to rehearse
        Each one his own anticipated bliss.
        One felt heart-certain that he could not miss
        His quick gone love, among fair blossom’d boughs,
        Where every zephyr-sigh pouts and endows
        Her lips with music for the welcoming.
        Another wish’d, mid that eternal spring,
        To meet his rosy child, with feathery sails,
        Sweeping, eye-earnestly, through almond vales:
        Who, suddenly, should stoop through the smooth wind,
        And with the balmiest leaves his temples bind;
        And, ever after, through those regions be
        His messenger, his little Mercury.
        Some were athirst in soul to see again
        Their fellow huntsmen o’er the wide champaign
        In times long past; to sit with them, and talk
        Of all the chances in their earthly walk;
        Comparing, joyfully, their plenteous stores
        Of happiness, to when upon the moors,
        Benighted, close they huddled from the cold,
        And shar’d their famish’d scrips. Thus all out-told
        Their fond imaginations,—saving him
        Whose eyelids curtain’d up their jewels dim,
        Endymion: yet hourly had he striven
        To hide the cankering venom, that had riven
        His fainting recollections. Now indeed
        His senses had swoon’d off: he did not heed
        The sudden silence, or the whispers low,
        Or the old eyes dissolving at his woe,
        Or anxious calls, or close of trembling palms,
        Or maiden’s sigh, that grief itself embalms:
        But in the self-same fixed trance he kept,
        Like one who on the earth had never stept.
        Aye, even as dead-still as a marble man,
        Frozen in that old tale Arabian.

        Who whispers him so pantingly and close?
        Peona, his sweet sister: of all those,
        His friends, the dearest. Hushing signs she made,
        And breath’d a sister’s sorrow to persuade
        A yielding up, a cradling on her care.
        Her eloquence did breathe away the curse:
        She led him, like some midnight spirit nurse
        Of happy changes in emphatic dreams,
        Along a path between two little streams,—
        Guarding his forehead, with her round elbow,
        From low-grown branches, and his footsteps slow
        From stumbling over stumps and hillocks small;
        Until they came to where these streamlets fall,
        With mingled bubblings and a gentle rush,
        Into a river, clear, brimful, and flush
        With crystal mocking of the trees and sky.
        A little shallop, floating there hard by,
        Pointed its beak over the fringed bank;
        And soon it lightly dipt, and rose, and sank,
        And dipt again, with the young couple’s weight,—
        Peona guiding, through the water straight,
        Towards a bowery island opposite;
        Which gaining presently, she steered light
        Into a shady, fresh, and ripply cove,
        Where nested was an arbour, overwove
        By many a summer’s silent fingering;
        To whose cool bosom she was used to bring
        Her playmates, with their needle broidery,
        And minstrel memories of times gone by.

        So she was gently glad to see him laid
        Under her favourite bower’s quiet shade,
        On her own couch, new made of flower leaves,
        Dried carefully on the cooler side of sheaves
        When last the sun his autumn tresses shook,
        And the tann’d harvesters rich armfuls took.
        Soon was he quieted to slumbrous rest:
        But, ere it crept upon him, he had prest
        Peona’s busy hand against his lips,
        And still, a sleeping, held her finger-tips
        In tender pressure. And as a willow keeps
        A patient watch over the stream that creeps
        Windingly by it, so the quiet maid
        Held her in peace: so that a whispering blade
        Of grass, a wailful gnat, a bee bustling
        Down in the blue-bells, or a wren light rustling
        Among seer leaves and twigs, might all be heard.

        O magic sleep! O comfortable bird,
        That broodest o’er the troubled sea of the mind
        Till it is hush’d and smooth! O unconfin’d
        Restraint! imprisoned liberty! great key
        To golden palaces, strange minstrelsy,
        Fountains grotesque, new trees, bespangled caves,
        Echoing grottos, full of tumbling waves
        And moonlight; aye, to all the mazy world
        Of silvery enchantment!—who, upfurl’d
        Beneath thy drowsy wing a triple hour,
        But renovates and lives?—Thus, in the bower,
        Endymion was calm’d to life again.
        Opening his eyelids with a healthier brain,
        He said: “I feel this thine endearing love
        All through my bosom: thou art as a dove
        Trembling its closed eyes and sleeked wings
        About me; and the pearliest dew not brings
        Such morning incense from the fields of May,
        As do those brighter drops that twinkling stray
        From those kind eyes,—the very home and haunt
        Of sisterly affection. Can I want
        Aught else, aught nearer heaven, than such tears?
        Yet dry them up, in bidding hence all fears
        That, any longer, I will pass my days
        Alone and sad. No, I will once more raise
        My voice upon the mountain-heights; once more
        Make my horn parley from their foreheads hoar:
        Again my trooping hounds their tongues shall loll
        Around the breathed boar: again I’ll poll
        The fair-grown yew tree, for a chosen bow:
        And, when the pleasant sun is getting low,
        Again I’ll linger in a sloping mead
        To hear the speckled thrushes, and see feed
        Our idle sheep. So be thou cheered sweet,
        And, if thy lute is here, softly intreat
        My soul to keep in its resolved course.”

        Hereat Peona, in their silver source,
        Shut her pure sorrow drops with glad exclaim,
        And took a lute, from which there pulsing came
        A lively prelude, fashioning the way
        In which her voice should wander. ‘Twas a lay
        More subtle cadenced, more forest wild
        Than Dryope’s lone lulling of her child;
        And nothing since has floated in the air
        So mournful strange. Surely some influence rare
        Went, spiritual, through the damsel’s hand;
        For still, with Delphic emphasis, she spann’d
        The quick invisible strings, even though she saw
        Endymion’s spirit melt away and thaw
        Before the deep intoxication.
        But soon she came, with sudden burst, upon
        Her self-possession—swung the lute aside,
        And earnestly said: “Brother, ’tis vain to hide
        That thou dost know of things mysterious,
        Immortal, starry; such alone could thus
        Weigh down thy nature. Hast thou sinn’d in aught
        Offensive to the heavenly powers? Caught
        A Paphian dove upon a message sent?
        Thy deathful bow against some deer-herd bent,
        Sacred to Dian? Haply, thou hast seen
        Her naked limbs among the alders green;
        And that, alas! is death. No, I can trace
        Something more high perplexing in thy face!”

        Endymion look’d at her, and press’d her hand,
        And said, “Art thou so pale, who wast so bland
        And merry in our meadows? How is this?
        Tell me thine ailment: tell me all amiss!—
        Ah! thou hast been unhappy at the change
        Wrought suddenly in me. What indeed more strange?
        Or more complete to overwhelm surmise?
        Ambition is no sluggard: ’tis no prize,
        That toiling years would put within my grasp,
        That I have sigh’d for: with so deadly gasp
        No man e’er panted for a mortal love.
        So all have set my heavier grief above
        These things which happen. Rightly have they done:
        I, who still saw the horizontal sun
        Heave his broad shoulder o’er the edge of the world,
        Out-facing Lucifer, and then had hurl’d
        My spear aloft, as signal for the chace—
        I, who, for very sport of heart, would race
        With my own steed from Araby; pluck down
        A vulture from his towery perching; frown
        A lion into growling, loth retire—
        To lose, at once, all my toil breeding fire,
        And sink thus low! but I will ease my breast
        Of secret grief, here in this bowery nest.

        “This river does not see the naked sky,
        Till it begins to progress silverly
        Around the western border of the wood,
        Whence, from a certain spot, its winding flood
        Seems at the distance like a crescent moon:
        And in that nook, the very pride of June,
        Had I been used to pass my weary eves;
        The rather for the sun unwilling leaves
        So dear a picture of his sovereign power,
        And I could witness his most kingly hour,
        When he doth lighten up the golden reins,
        And paces leisurely down amber plains
        His snorting four. Now when his chariot last
        Its beams against the zodiac-lion cast,
        There blossom’d suddenly a magic bed
        Of sacred ditamy, and poppies red:
        At which I wondered greatly, knowing well
        That but one night had wrought this flowery spell;
        And, sitting down close by, began to muse
        What it might mean. Perhaps, thought I, Morpheus,
        In passing here, his owlet pinions shook;
        Or, it may be, ere matron Night uptook
        Her ebon urn, young Mercury, by stealth,
        Had dipt his rod in it: such garland wealth
        Came not by common growth. Thus on I thought,
        Until my head was dizzy and distraught.
        Moreover, through the dancing poppies stole
        A breeze, most softly lulling to my soul;
        And shaping visions all about my sight
        Of colours, wings, and bursts of spangly light;
        The which became more strange, and strange, and dim,
        And then were gulph’d in a tumultuous swim:
        And then I fell asleep. Ah, can I tell
        The enchantment that afterwards befel?
        Yet it was but a dream: yet such a dream
        That never tongue, although it overteem
        With mellow utterance, like a cavern spring,
        Could figure out and to conception bring
        All I beheld and felt. Methought I lay
        Watching the zenith, where the milky way
        Among the stars in virgin splendour pours;
        And travelling my eye, until the doors
        Of heaven appear’d to open for my flight,
        I became loth and fearful to alight
        From such high soaring by a downward glance:
        So kept me stedfast in that airy trance,
        Spreading imaginary pinions wide.
        When, presently, the stars began to glide,
        And faint away, before my eager view:
        At which I sigh’d that I could not pursue,
        And dropt my vision to the horizon’s verge;
        And lo! from opening clouds, I saw emerge
        The loveliest moon, that ever silver’d o’er
        A shell for Neptune’s goblet: she did soar
        So passionately bright, my dazzled soul
        Commingling with her argent spheres did roll
        Through clear and cloudy, even when she went
        At last into a dark and vapoury tent—
        Whereat, methought, the lidless-eyed train
        Of planets all were in the blue again.
        To commune with those orbs, once more I rais’d
        My sight right upward: but it was quite dazed
        By a bright something, sailing down apace,
        Making me quickly veil my eyes and face:
        Again I look’d, and, O ye deities,
        Who from Olympus watch our destinies!
        Whence that completed form of all completeness?
        Whence came that high perfection of all sweetness?
        Speak, stubborn earth, and tell me where, O Where
        Hast thou a symbol of her golden hair?
        Not oat-sheaves drooping in the western sun;
        Not—thy soft hand, fair sister! let me shun
        Such follying before thee—yet she had,
        Indeed, locks bright enough to make me mad;
        And they were simply gordian’d up and braided,
        Leaving, in naked comeliness, unshaded,
        Her pearl round ears, white neck, and orbed brow;
        The which were blended in, I know not how,
        With such a paradise of lips and eyes,
        Blush-tinted cheeks, half smiles, and faintest sighs,
        That, when I think thereon, my spirit clings
        And plays about its fancy, till the stings
        Of human neighbourhood envenom all.
        Unto what awful power shall I call?
        To what high fane?—Ah! see her hovering feet,
        More bluely vein’d, more soft, more whitely sweet
        Than those of sea-born Venus, when she rose
        From out her cradle shell. The wind out-blows
        Her scarf into a fluttering pavilion;
        ‘Tis blue, and over-spangled with a million
        Of little eyes, as though thou wert to shed,
        Over the darkest, lushest blue-bell bed,
        Handfuls of daisies.”—”Endymion, how strange!
        Dream within dream!”—”She took an airy range,
        And then, towards me, like a very maid,
        Came blushing, waning, willing, and afraid,
        And press’d me by the hand: Ah! ’twas too much;
        Methought I fainted at the charmed touch,
        Yet held my recollection, even as one
        Who dives three fathoms where the waters run
        Gurgling in beds of coral: for anon,
        I felt upmounted in that region
        Where falling stars dart their artillery forth,
        And eagles struggle with the buffeting north
        That balances the heavy meteor-stone;—
        Felt too, I was not fearful, nor alone,
        But lapp’d and lull’d along the dangerous sky.
        Soon, as it seem’d, we left our journeying high,
        And straightway into frightful eddies swoop’d;
        Such as ay muster where grey time has scoop’d
        Huge dens and caverns in a mountain’s side:
        There hollow sounds arous’d me, and I sigh’d
        To faint once more by looking on my bliss—
        I was distracted; madly did I kiss
        The wooing arms which held me, and did give
        My eyes at once to death: but ’twas to live,
        To take in draughts of life from the gold fount
        Of kind and passionate looks; to count, and count
        The moments, by some greedy help that seem’d
        A second self, that each might be redeem’d
        And plunder’d of its load of blessedness.
        Ah, desperate mortal! I ev’n dar’d to press
        Her very cheek against my crowned lip,
        And, at that moment, felt my body dip
        Into a warmer air: a moment more,
        Our feet were soft in flowers. There was store
        Of newest joys upon that alp. Sometimes
        A scent of violets, and blossoming limes,
        Loiter’d around us; then of honey cells,
        Made delicate from all white-flower bells;
        And once, above the edges of our nest,
        An arch face peep’d,—an Oread as I guess’d.

        “Why did I dream that sleep o’er-power’d me
        In midst of all this heaven? Why not see,
        Far off, the shadows of his pinions dark,
        And stare them from me? But no, like a spark
        That needs must die, although its little beam
        Reflects upon a diamond, my sweet dream
        Fell into nothing—into stupid sleep.
        And so it was, until a gentle creep,
        A careful moving caught my waking ears,
        And up I started: Ah! my sighs, my tears,
        My clenched hands;—for lo! the poppies hung
        Dew-dabbled on their stalks, the ouzel sung
        A heavy ditty, and the sullen day
        Had chidden herald Hesperus away,
        With leaden looks: the solitary breeze
        Bluster’d, and slept, and its wild self did teaze
        With wayward melancholy; and r thought,
        Mark me, Peona! that sometimes it brought
        Faint fare-thee-wells, and sigh-shrilled adieus!—
        Away I wander’d—all the pleasant hues
        Of heaven and earth had faded: deepest shades
        Were deepest dungeons; heaths and sunny glades
        Were full of pestilent light; our taintless rills
        Seem’d sooty, and o’er-spread with upturn’d gills
        Of dying fish; the vermeil rose had blown
        In frightful scarlet, and its thorns out-grown
        Like spiked aloe. If an innocent bird
        Before my heedless footsteps stirr’d, and stirr’d
        In little journeys, I beheld in it
        A disguis’d demon, missioned to knit
        My soul with under darkness; to entice
        My stumblings down some monstrous precipice:
        Therefore I eager followed, and did curse
        The disappointment. Time, that aged nurse,
        Rock’d me to patience. Now, thank gentle heaven!
        These things, with all their comfortings, are given
        To my down-sunken hours, and with thee,
        Sweet sister, help to stem the ebbing sea
        Of weary life.”

        Thus ended he, and both
        Sat silent: for the maid was very loth
        To answer; feeling well that breathed words
        Would all be lost, unheard, and vain as swords
        Against the enchased crocodile, or leaps
        Of grasshoppers against the sun. She weeps,
        And wonders; struggles to devise some blame;
        To put on such a look as would say, Shame
        On this poor weakness! but, for all her strife,
        She could as soon have crush’d away the life
        From a sick dove. At length, to break the pause,
        She said with trembling chance: “Is this the cause?
        This all? Yet it is strange, and sad, alas!
        That one who through this middle earth should pass
        Most like a sojourning demi-god, and leave
        His name upon the harp-string, should achieve
        No higher bard than simple maidenhood,
        Singing alone, and fearfully,—how the blood
        Left his young cheek; and how he used to stray
        He knew not where; and how he would say, nay,
        If any said ’twas love: and yet ’twas love;
        What could it be but love? How a ring-dove
        Let fall a sprig of yew tree in his path;
        And how he died: and then, that love doth scathe,
        The gentle heart, as northern blasts do roses;
        And then the ballad of his sad life closes
        With sighs, and an alas!—Endymion!
        Be rather in the trumpet’s mouth,—anon
        Among the winds at large—that all may hearken!
        Although, before the crystal heavens darken,
        I watch and dote upon the silver lakes
        Pictur’d in western cloudiness, that takes
        The semblance of gold rocks and bright gold sands,
        Islands, and creeks, and amber-fretted strands
        With horses prancing o’er them, palaces
        And towers of amethyst,—would I so tease
        My pleasant days, because I could not mount
        Into those regions? The Morphean fount
        Of that fine element that visions, dreams,
        And fitful whims of sleep are made of, streams
        Into its airy channels with so subtle,
        So thin a breathing, not the spider’s shuttle,
        Circled a million times within the space
        Of a swallow’s nest-door, could delay a trace,
        A tinting of its quality: how light
        Must dreams themselves be; seeing they’re more slight
        Than the mere nothing that engenders them!
        Then wherefore sully the entrusted gem
        Of high and noble life with thoughts so sick?
        Why pierce high-fronted honour to the quick
        For nothing but a dream?” Hereat the youth
        Look’d up: a conflicting of shame and ruth
        Was in his plaited brow: yet his eyelids
        Widened a little, as when Zephyr bids
        A little breeze to creep between the fans
        Of careless butterflies: amid his pains
        He seem’d to taste a drop of manna-dew,
        Full palatable; and a colour grew
        Upon his cheek, while thus he lifeful spake.

        “Peona! ever have I long’d to slake
        My thirst for the world’s praises: nothing base,
        No merely slumberous phantasm, could unlace
        The stubborn canvas for my voyage prepar’d—
        Though now ’tis tatter’d; leaving my bark bar’d
        And sullenly drifting: yet my higher hope
        Is of too wide, too rainbow-large a scope,
        To fret at myriads of earthly wrecks.
        Wherein lies happiness? In that which becks
        Our ready minds to fellowship divine,
        A fellowship with essence; till we shine,
        Full alchemiz’d, and free of space. Behold
        The clear religion of heaven! Fold
        A rose leaf round thy finger’s taperness,
        And soothe thy lips: hist, when the airy stress
        Of music’s kiss impregnates the free winds,
        And with a sympathetic touch unbinds
        Eolian magic from their lucid wombs:
        Then old songs waken from enclouded tombs;
        Old ditties sigh above their father’s grave;
        Ghosts of melodious prophecyings rave
        Round every spot where trod Apollo’s foot;
        Bronze clarions awake, and faintly bruit,
        Where long ago a giant battle was;
        And, from the turf, a lullaby doth pass
        In every place where infant Orpheus slept.
        Feel we these things?—that moment have we stept
        Into a sort of oneness, and our state
        Is like a floating spirit’s. But there are
        Richer entanglements, enthralments far
        More self-destroying, leading, by degrees,
        To the chief intensity: the crown of these
        Is made of love and friendship, and sits high
        Upon the forehead of humanity.
        All its more ponderous and bulky worth
        Is friendship, whence there ever issues forth
        A steady splendour; but at the tip-top,
        There hangs by unseen film, an orbed drop
        Of light, and that is love: its influence,
        Thrown in our eyes, genders a novel sense,
        At which we start and fret; till in the end,
        Melting into its radiance, we blend,
        Mingle, and so become a part of it,—
        Nor with aught else can our souls interknit
        So wingedly: when we combine therewith,
        Life’s self is nourish’d by its proper pith,
        And we are nurtured like a pelican brood.
        Aye, so delicious is the unsating food,
        That men, who might have tower’d in the van
        Of all the congregated world, to fan
        And winnow from the coming step of time
        All chaff of custom, wipe away all slime
        Left by men-slugs and human serpentry,
        Have been content to let occasion die,
        Whilst they did sleep in love’s elysium.
        And, truly, I would rather be struck dumb,
        Than speak against this ardent listlessness:
        For I have ever thought that it might bless
        The world with benefits unknowingly;
        As does the nightingale, upperched high,
        And cloister’d among cool and bunched leaves—
        She sings but to her love, nor e’er conceives
        How tiptoe Night holds back her dark-grey hood.
        Just so may love, although ’tis understood
        The mere commingling of passionate breath,
        Produce more than our searching witnesseth:
        What I know not: but who, of men, can tell
        That flowers would bloom, or that green fruit would swell
        To melting pulp, that fish would have bright mail,
        The earth its dower of river, wood, and vale,
        The meadows runnels, runnels pebble-stones,
        The seed its harvest, or the lute its tones,
        Tones ravishment, or ravishment its sweet,
        If human souls did never kiss and greet?

        “Now, if this earthly love has power to make
        Men’s being mortal, immortal; to shake
        Ambition from their memories, and brim
        Their measure of content; what merest whim,
        Seems all this poor endeavour after fame,
        To one, who keeps within his stedfast aim
        A love immortal, an immortal too.
        Look not so wilder’d; for these things are true,
        And never can be born of atomies
        That buzz about our slumbers, like brain-flies,
        Leaving us fancy-sick. No, no, I’m sure,
        My restless spirit never could endure
        To brood so long upon one luxury,
        Unless it did, though fearfully, espy
        A hope beyond the shadow of a dream.
        My sayings will the less obscured seem,
        When I have told thee how my waking sight
        Has made me scruple whether that same night
        Was pass’d in dreaming. Hearken, sweet Peona!
        Beyond the matron-temple of Latona,
        Which we should see but for these darkening boughs,
        Lies a deep hollow, from whose ragged brows
        Bushes and trees do lean all round athwart,
        And meet so nearly, that with wings outraught,
        And spreaded tail, a vulture could not glide
        Past them, but he must brush on every side.
        Some moulder’d steps lead into this cool cell,
        Far as the slabbed margin of a well,
        Whose patient level peeps its crystal eye
        Right upward, through the bushes, to the sky.
        Oft have I brought thee flowers, on their stalks set
        Like vestal primroses, but dark velvet
        Edges them round, and they have golden pits:
        ‘Twas there I got them, from the gaps and slits
        In a mossy stone, that sometimes was my seat,
        When all above was faint with mid-day heat.
        And there in strife no burning thoughts to heed,
        I’d bubble up the water through a reed;
        So reaching back to boy-hood: make me ships
        Of moulted feathers, touchwood, alder chips,
        With leaves stuck in them; and the Neptune be
        Of their petty ocean. Oftener, heavily,
        When love-lorn hours had left me less a child,
        I sat contemplating the figures wild
        Of o’er-head clouds melting the mirror through.
        Upon a day, while thus I watch’d, by flew
        A cloudy Cupid, with his bow and quiver;
        So plainly character’d, no breeze would shiver
        The happy chance: so happy, I was fain
        To follow it upon the open plain,
        And, therefore, was just going; when, behold!
        A wonder, fair as any I have told—
        The same bright face I tasted in my sleep,
        Smiling in the clear well. My heart did leap
        Through the cool depth.—It moved as if to flee—
        I started up, when lo! refreshfully,
        There came upon my face, in plenteous showers,
        Dew-drops, and dewy buds, and leaves, and flowers,
        Wrapping all objects from my smothered sight,
        Bathing my spirit in a new delight.
        Aye, such a breathless honey-feel of bliss
        Alone preserved me from the drear abyss
        Of death, for the fair form had gone again.
        Pleasure is oft a visitant; but pain
        Clings cruelly to us, like the gnawing sloth
        On the deer’s tender haunches: late, and loth,
        ‘Tis scar’d away by slow returning pleasure.
        How sickening, how dark the dreadful leisure
        Of weary days, made deeper exquisite,
        By a fore-knowledge of unslumbrous night!
        Like sorrow came upon me, heavier still,
        Than when I wander’d from the poppy hill:
        And a whole age of lingering moments crept
        Sluggishly by, ere more contentment swept
        Away at once the deadly yellow spleen.
        Yes, thrice have I this fair enchantment seen;
        Once more been tortured with renewed life.
        When last the wintry gusts gave over strife
        With the conquering sun of spring, and left the skies
        Warm and serene, but yet with moistened eyes
        In pity of the shatter’d infant buds,—
        That time thou didst adorn, with amber studs,
        My hunting cap, because I laugh’d and smil’d,
        Chatted with thee, and many days exil’d
        All torment from my breast;—’twas even then,
        Straying about, yet, coop’d up in the den
        Of helpless discontent,—hurling my lance
        From place to place, and following at chance,
        At last, by hap, through some young trees it struck,
        And, plashing among bedded pebbles, stuck
        In the middle of a brook,—whose silver ramble
        Down twenty little falls, through reeds and bramble,
        Tracing along, it brought me to a cave,
        Whence it ran brightly forth, and white did lave
        The nether sides of mossy stones and rock,—
        ‘Mong which it gurgled blythe adieus, to mock
        Its own sweet grief at parting. Overhead,
        Hung a lush screen of drooping weeds, and spread
        Thick, as to curtain up some wood-nymph’s home.
        “Ah! impious mortal, whither do I roam?”
        Said I, low voic’d: “Ah whither! ‘Tis the grot
        Of Proserpine, when Hell, obscure and hot,
        Doth her resign; and where her tender hands
        She dabbles, on the cool and sluicy sands:
        Or ’tis the cell of Echo, where she sits,
        And babbles thorough silence, till her wits
        Are gone in tender madness, and anon,
        Faints into sleep, with many a dying tone
        Of sadness. O that she would take my vows,
        And breathe them sighingly among the boughs,
        To sue her gentle ears for whose fair head,
        Daily, I pluck sweet flowerets from their bed,
        And weave them dyingly—send honey-whispers
        Round every leaf, that all those gentle lispers
        May sigh my love unto her pitying!
        O charitable echo! hear, and sing
        This ditty to her!—tell her”—so I stay’d
        My foolish tongue, and listening, half afraid,
        Stood stupefied with my own empty folly,
        And blushing for the freaks of melancholy.
        Salt tears were coming, when I heard my name
        Most fondly lipp’d, and then these accents came:
        ‘Endymion! the cave is secreter
        Than the isle of Delos. Echo hence shall stir
        No sighs but sigh-warm kisses, or light noise
        Of thy combing hand, the while it travelling cloys
        And trembles through my labyrinthine hair.”
        At that oppress’d I hurried in.—Ah! where
        Are those swift moments? Whither are they fled?
        I’ll smile no more, Peona; nor will wed
        Sorrow the way to death, but patiently
        Bear up against it: so farewel, sad sigh;
        And come instead demurest meditation,
        To occupy me wholly, and to fashion
        My pilgrimage for the world’s dusky brink.
        No more will I count over, link by link,
        My chain of grief: no longer strive to find
        A half-forgetfulness in mountain wind
        Blustering about my ears: aye, thou shalt see,
        Dearest of sisters, what my life shall be;
        What a calm round of hours shall make my days.
        There is a paly flame of hope that plays
        Where’er I look: but yet, I’ll say ’tis naught—
        And here I bid it die. Have not I caught,
        Already, a more healthy countenance?
        By this the sun is setting; we may chance
        Meet some of our near-dwellers with my car.”

        This said, he rose, faint-smiling like a star
        Through autumn mists, and took Peona’s hand:
        They stept into the boat, and launch’d from land.

      • Well. I have to admit that it’s the first time I’ve been accussed of being hippie like, lol.

        I’m going to presume that by need and want you are speaking of love and lust. That need means love and want means lust. Because you’re a man.

        Those words have opposite meanings to women. Need has nothing to do with love or even lust. It’s base, material and survivalist. This is where women feck up when they say things like “I don’t need a man, I want a man.” The male brain doesn’t process it the same way that ours does. Male survival didn’t require that element in their relationships.

        Hypergamy is tied into that. And like all human instincts, it can’t be supressed. But it can be channelled. Positively or negatively. We don’t live in survivalist conditions, so hypergamy is going to have to find positive outlets. That’s going to require growing up and facing survival/greed /fear issues. Hypergamy can be channelled toward growth,

        Men and women in love will still be significant and special to each other. They’ll give and be given too on all levels. I would disagree about the animalistic nature assigned to that. But I’m not utopian either. Such marriages would require a great deal of emotional maturity. We may very well cling to the devil’s we know.

        .

      • JV, your version of marriage 3.0 doesn’t sound like marriage at all. What you describe is basically what we already have outside of marriage in western societies. It would be a free for all which would benefit a small number of men, and harm everyone else. We have needs, full stop. That doesn’t make us weak and it doesn’t necessarily mean they control our lives. I have a need to eat food, so I should just adopt an abundance mindset and I won’t need food. And then I would be dead in a few weeks. Men have always wanted sex as they produce billions of sperm for every egg a woman does, and women have always been controlled by hypergamy. Some societies have attempted to control it and ended up producing civilizations that everyone wanted to live and work in. It is hubris to think that we’re so much smarter than all the great societies that came before us.

      • Emotional and physical needs are being met in the marriage. I didn’t say otherwise. Nor do I suggest that the couple are impervious to emotional vulnerability to one another.You’re right if you detect a lack of manipulating male sexuality or female security. Or a legal authority chaining the two together. But that’s making the assumption that two emotionally competent people would require it. Or that if we took away scarcity mentality, fear based foundations wound meshing and big daddy government that marriage would cease to exist. In which case, marriage is just socially acceptable co dependance to one another and to the government. A form of addiction and enslavement. 3.0 would require love and personal responsibility. It would require self actualized people. Passion over drama.

      • I’m having trouble understanding exactly what you mean. Am I correct in assuming that you are essentially saying that marriage 1.0 is immoral because it forces people into codependent need based relationships? And that if we were able to overcome our needs, we wouldn’t require government intervention?

        If that is so, I would have to disagree. Even among the most ascetic people who have attempted to extinguish their desires, their underlying needs are still there. Bhuddist monks and Catholic Priests are human, and they do occasionally give in to their desires. There may be a minority of people with unbelievable levels of self control who can overcome their human nature, but for the vast majority of people this would be almost impossible. In an environment where there is no enforcement of certain mores, those with the greatest strengths will always outcompete the lesser players and create larger monopolies of power and resources at the expense of others. It is a zero sum game, and the only way to change the outcome is to change the rules. You get what you incentivize, and you lose what you discourage.

  11. Not suggesting extinguishing human desires. Not sure how I gave that impression.
    Marriage 1.0 is survivalist, and works in survivalist situations. Do I think that there’s a lot of dysfunction that went with it. Yes. But survival isn’t about success. It’s about survival.

    2.0 is dysfunctional in that it is transitional. It applies high minded ideals, but is lacking in personal responsibility, understanding of human wiring, or self actualized individuals. Government is heavily involved.

    3.0 require self actualized individuals. As a society, we aren’t there yet. And we might never get there. But we’re at a time and place where it;s a possibility..

    You speak of incentives. Love and respect are pretty powerful incentives on their own. But incentives to bribe or manipulate usually indicate that something requires a closer look. I would suggest that self actualized people would have resilliance to a lot of that. I would also suggest that there would fewer marriages.

  12. I disagree that marriage 1.0 is survivalist. The most advanced civilizations in history practiced marriage 1.0 because it gave men a stake in their posterity. The most primitive societies place no restrictions on male/female relations. This creates environments like sub-saharan Africa where no one has any stake in greater society, and most people only seek to maximize personal gain. It is much closer to a survival scenario, and predates marriage 1.0.

    Can you define love and respect? The modern conception of love is purposely abstract and idealistic. It is designed to appeal to a man’s desire to be needed and fulfilled by a fictional sole mate for which they must sacrifice everything for and demand nothing of. It is part of the feminine imperative to manipulate men into disarming the logical side of their brains and chase false hopes and dreams in order to serve womens’ security needs. Millions of men have tried to fulfill a role of love and respect, and failed miserably. When men try to give love and respect and demand nothing, they are fulfilling the role that society has taught them they are supposed to. It fails to acknowledge the hypergamous needs of women and what ends up happening is it repulses women. It’s this reason why women initiate the majority of divorces.

    Can you specifically describe in terms of the legal and social expectations, without using abstract ideas, what marriage 3.0 would look like?

    • I’m repeating myself in the comments. I’m not sure how much clearer I can be. My version of love and respect require personal responsibility, courage, honouring differences and risk.

      Legal expectations.and social expectations would change as society changes, with the expectation that competent human beings are competent.

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