Spring of Castalia

Nicholas Michell

But yielding mystic interest ne'er to die,
Charm of the scene, Castalia's fount draw nigh
That limpid spring which years nor crush nor dint,
Still bubbling forth, o'erflows its basin's rim;
The temple falls, the gods forsake their cave,
Empires decay, but lo! that gushing wave! —
Peace-breathing spot! the tall rocks frown above,
A fig-tree bends close by, as if in love,
Chequering with shade the fountain's silver face,
Where azure skies and jutting crags ye trace,
While flowers that hang their petals 'mid the calm,
Rise banked in moss, and fill the air with balm.
Drop — drop — soft-gurgling, forth the crystal flows,
Lulling the sense, inviting to repose,
Then forms a stream, whose pale blue waters creep
Through trembling flags to join the neighbouring deep
No scene to which enchantment e'er gave birth,
In beauty rivalled this small spot of earth.

The Spring of Castalia was sacred because Apollo slew the monster Python there. It was where all visitors to Delphi's Oracle came to ritually purify themselves before visiting the temple.