Lastly, there are scattered throughout the play not a few graphic touches, as when Mercury at sight of Oenone exclaims: Dare wage my wings the lass doth love, she looks so bleak and thin!
The alterations which converted a beautiful but faulty into a beautiful and flawless poem perhaps obscure the significance of OEnone's "I will not die alone," which in the earlier volume directly refers to the foreseen end of all as narrated in Tennyson's late piece, The Death of OEnone.
He tried in vain to construe Oenone, and to make sense of Lamia. Ulysses he could understand; but what were these prodigious laudations bestowed on it? And that reverence for Mr. Wordsworth, what did it mean? Had he not written Peter Bell, and been turned into deserved ridicule by all the reviews?
'All I shall say is this: Give me the prize, and you shall have for your wife the most beautiful woman in the world. "The heart of Oenone stood still as Paris placed the apple in Aphrodite's hand; and a nameless dread came over her, as if the earth were sinking beneath her feet.
The boy became as beautiful, for a boy, as Helen was for a girl, and was the best runner, and hunter, and archer among the country people. He was loved by the beautiful OEnone, a nymph that is, a kind of fairy who dwelt in a cave among the woods of Ida.
Far away in the purple distance stands the Mount of Ida. There dwelt Paris, content with the love of Oenone, until he knew himself to be the son of a king, for whom Argive Helen alone was found worthy; for his eyes had rested once upon immortal charms, of which the green eternal pines of Ida are still whispering the story. See how the people of this village of Athos flock together!
It was believed that she had the magical power of healing wounded men, however sorely they were hurt. Paris and OEnone lived most happily together in the forest; but one day, when the servants of Priam had driven off a beautiful bull that was in the herd of Paris, he left the hills to seek it, and came into the town of Troy.
This is the story which the poet rehandled in his old age, completing the work of his happy youth when he walked with Hallam in the Pyrenean hills, that were to him as Ida. The romance of OEnone and her death condone, as even Homer was apt to condone, the sins of beautiful Paris, whom the nymphs lament, despite the evil that he has wrought.
OEnone, remembering the wrongs she had suffered, refused to heal the wound, and Paris went back to Troy and died. There was in Troy a celebrated statue of Minerva called the Palladium. It was said to have fallen from heaven, and the belief was that the city could not be taken so long as this statue remained within it.
In the fourth or fifth century of our era a late poet, Quintus Smyrnaeus, described Paris's journey, in quest of a healing spell, to the forsaken OEnone, and her refusal to aid him; her death on his funeral pyre. Quintus is a poet of extraordinary merit for his age, and scarcely deserves the reproach of laziness affixed on him by Lord Tennyson.