WHITE Rose of Bourbon's branch, so early faded!
When thou wert carried to thy silent rest,
And every brow with heavy gloom was shaded,
And every heart with fond regret oppress'd,--
Sweet was the thought thy brother gave to him
Who, far away on Ocean's restless wave,
Could not behold those fair eyes closed and dim,
Nor see thee laid in thy untimely grave!
And, pitying him who yet thy loss must hear,--
Whose absent breast a later pang must feel,--
Murmur'd, with touching sadness, by thy bier,
'Adieu for me! Adieu for Joinville!'
Sweet was the thought, and tender was the heart
Which thus remember'd all who in its love had part.
The Greek Girl’s Lament For Her Lover
IMRA! thy form is vanished
From the proud and patriot band;
Imra! thy voice is silent,
'Mongst the voices of the land.
And bravely hast thou fallen;
In joy didst thou depart;
Their chains shall never bind thee,
Young hero of my heart!
But with thee the dream is over
That bound my soul so long;
And the words of fame and glory
Have vanished from my song:
My heart which bounded proudly
Is as sad as sad can be;
I thought it beat for freedom,
But I feel it beat--for thee.
I thought the victory's triumph
Would have made my soul rejoice,
But that was when I listened
To the music of thy voice.
The dreams of fame and conquest,
Of my country being free;
What love were they to Zoë,
But most blessed dreams of thee?
It is past--thy voice may never
Speak of triumph, or of love;
And the bright hope that was burning
Hath flown with thee above.
This earth contains no dwelling,
No land of rest for me;
When Hellas was my country,
I dwelt in it with thee!
As When From Dreams Awaking
AS when from dreams awaking
The dim forms float away
Whose visioned smiles were making
Our darkness bright as day;
We vainly strive, while weeping,
From their shining spirit track,
(Where they fled while we were sleeping,)
To call those dear ones back!
Like the stars, some power divides them
From a world of want and pain;
They are there, but daylight hides them,
And we look for them in vain.
For a while we dwell with sadness,
On the beauty of that dream,
Then turn, and hail with gladness
The light of morning's beam.
So, when memory's power is wringing
Our lonely hearts to tears,
Dim forms around us bringing
That brightened former years:
Fond looks and low words spoken,
Which those dreamy days could boast,
Rise; till the spell be broken,
We forget that they are lost!
But when the hour of darkness rolls
Like heavy night away;
And peace is stealing o'er our souls,
Like the dawn of summer day:
The dim sweet forms that used to bless,
Seem stealing from us too;
We loved them-but joy's sunniness
Hath hid them from our view!
Oh could day beam eternally,
And Memory's power cease,
This world, a world of light would be,
Our hearts were worlds of peace:
But dreams of joy return with night,
And dwell upon the past-
And every grief that clouds our light,
Reminds us of the last!
The Lament For Shuil Donald’s Daughter
IN old Shuil Donald's cottage there are many voices weeping,
And stifled sobs, and murmurings of sorrow wild and vain,
For the old man's cherish'd blessing on her bed of death lies sleeping,--
The sleep from which no human wish can rouse her soul again.
Oh, dark are now those gentle eyes which shone beneath their lashes
So full of laughter and of love--it seems but yesterday--
Well may Shuil Donald mourn beside his hearth's forsaken ashes,
His lily of the valley is wither'd away!
The spring shall come to other hearts with breezes and with showers,
But lonely winter still shall reign in old Shuil Donald's home;
Others may raise the song of joy, and laugh away the hours,
But he--oh! never more may joy to his lone dwelling come.
Her name shall be an empty sound, in idle converse spoken,
Forgotten shall she be by those who mourn her most to-day--
All, all but one, who wanders with his Highland spirit broken,
His lily of the valley is wither'd away!
And he--long, long, at even-tide, when sunset rays are gleaming,
That sad old man shall sit within his lonely cottage door,
Desolate, desolate shall sit, and muse with idle dreaming
On days when her returning step came quick across the moor.
Oh! never more her quiet smile, her cheerful voice of greeting,
Shall rouse to warmth his aged heart, when darkly sinks the day--
Never, oh! never more on earth those loved ones may be meeting--
His lily of the valley is wither'd away!
They Loved One Another
THEY loved one another! young Edward and his wife,
And in their cottage-home they dwelt, apart from sin and strife.
Each evening Edward weary came from a day of honest toil,
And Mary made the fire blaze, and smiled a cheerful smile.
Oh! what was wealth or pomp to them, the gaudy glittering show,
Of jewels blazing on the breast, where heaves a heart of woe!
The merry laugh, the placid sleep, were theirs; they hated sloth,
And all the little that they had, belonged alike to both,
For they loved one another!
They loved one another; but one of them is gone,
And by that vainly cheerful hearth poor Edward sits alone.
He gazes round on all which used to make his heart rejoice,
And he misses Mary's gentle smile, he misses Mary's voice.
There are many in this chilly world who would not care to part,
Tho' they dwell together in one home, and ought to have one heart,
And yet they live! while never more those happy ones may meet;
And the echo from her home is gone of Mary's busy feet:
And they loved one another!
They loved one another! but she hath past away,
And taken with her all the light, the sunshine of his day;
And Edward makes no loud lament, nor idly sits and mourns,
But quietly goes forth at morn, and quietly returns.
The cottage now is still and dark, no welcome bids him home,
He passes it and wanders on, to sit by Mary's tomb.
Oh! weep my friends-for very sad and bitter it must be
To yearn for some familiar face we never more may see-
When we loved one another!
LOW she lies, who blest our eyes
Through many a sunny day;
She may not smile, she will not rise--
The life hath past away!
Yet there is a world of light beyond,
Where we neither die nor sleep--
She is there, of whom our souls were fond--
Then wherefore do we weep?
The heart is cold, whose thoughts were told
In each glance of her glad bright eye;
And she lies pale, who was so bright,
She scarce seemed made to die.
Yet we know that her soul is happy now,
Where the saints their calm watch keep;
That angels are crowning that fair young brow--
Then wherefore do we weep?
Her laughing voice made all rejoice,
Who caught the happy sound;
There was gladness in her very step,
As it lightly touched the ground.
The echoes of voice and step are gone;
There is silence still and deep:
Yet we know she sings by God's bright throne--
Then wherefore do we weep?
The cheek's pale tinge, the lid's dark fringe;
That lies like a shadow there,
Were beautiful in the eyes of all--
And her glossy golden hair!
But though that lid may never wake
From its dark and dreamless sleep,
She is gone where young hearts do not break--
Then wherefore do we weep?
That world of light with joy is bright,
This is a world of woe:
Shall we grieve that her soul hath taken flight,
Because we dwell below?
We will bury her under the mossy sod,
And one long bright tress we'll keep;
We have only given her back to God--
Ah! wherefore do we weep?
WITH none to heed or mark
The prisoner in his cell,
In a dungeon, lone and dark,
He tuned his wild farewell.
The harp whose strings might never breathe again
The joyous sounds it gave to Freedom's strain,
With hurried chords, his trembling fingers woke;
And thus the brave, but captive rebel spoke :--
Farewell! mine own dear land!
That I have loved thee well,
This faint, but blood-red hand,
These iron fetters tell:
And if I weep, it is not for the breeze,
At summer evenings whispered thro' the trees;
Though I would die to breathe that air again--
I weep, to think upon my country's chain!
Farewell to those I loved,
Whom I no more shall see;
And, oh! in sorrow proved,
To those who once loved me,
With whom beneath the chesnut's spreading shade
In happy days of infancy, I played;
Who never more will hear the rebel's name
Without a blush, a crimson blush, of shame.
Oh! I am young to die,
Forsaken thus by all:
With none to hear me sigh,
With none to weep my fall.
How my heart yearns for joys for ever flown--
My mother's hand--my sister's gentle tone!
And wishes wild within my bosom swell,
In sorrow's broken tones to bid farewell!
Land of untrodden hills!
Where still, in happy dreams,
I hear the mountain rills,
Leap forth in gushing streams:
I love thee so, that fearfully I shrink
From death, whose power will burst each galling link;
And sigh to live, though life no more be free,
Lest, in the grave, I dream no more of thee!
The Lost One
COME to the grave--the silent grave! and dream
Of a light, happy voice--so full of joy,
That those who heard her laugh, would laugh again,
Echoing the mirth of such an innocent spirit;
And pause in their own converse, to look round,
Won by the witchery of that gleesome tone.
Come to the grave--the lone dark grave! and dream
Of eyes whose brilliancy was of the soul,
Eyes which, with one bright flash from their dark lids,
Seemed at a glance to read the thoughts of others;
Or, with a full entire tenderness,
The pure expression of all-perfect love,
(Of woman's love, which is for you alone,
While your's is for yourself)--gave in that look
The promise of a life of meek affection.
Come to the grave--the mouldering grave! and dream
Of a fair form that glided over earth
One of its happiest creatures:--to her cheek
The lightest word might bring the blushing blood
In pure carnation;--down her graceful neck,
The long rich curls of jet hung carelessly,
Untortured by the cunning hand of art:
And on her brow, bright purity and joy,
Twin sisters, sate,--as on a holy throne.
Come yet unto the grave--the still, damp grave!
And dream of a young heart that beat with life,
And all life's best affections; of a heart
Where sorrow never came, nor fear, nor sin--
Nor aught save innocence, and perfect love:
And, having dreamed of such a lovely being--
So gay, so bright, so pure, so fond, so meek--
Having thus conjured up a form of love
In thine own pausing and regretful mind;--
A vision will be present to thy soul,
A faint, but faithful portraiture, of one
Most dearly loved, and now for ever lost!
The Pilgrim Of Life.
PILGRIM, who toilest up life's weary steep,
To reach the summit still with pleasure crowned;
Born but to sigh and smile; to sin and weep,
Dost mark the busy multitudes around?
Dost mourn, with those who tread with fainting feet,
And blighted worn-out heart, the self same road?
Dost laugh with those who think their travel sweet,
And deem existence no unwelcome load?-
Ah, no! unconscious of their joy or woe,
Quick hurrying onward still, or gazing back,
With feeble lustre round their planet glow
A few beloved, connected with thy track;
Dear links of life, for whom to toil is bliss;
Circlet of stars in young hope's diadem;
Gay lightsome hearts who know no joy but this-
To be together is enough for them.
Thou pausest on thy way-one light is set-
No power of love relumes the torch of life;
Whate'er it was, 'tis lost-and vain regret
Pursues the rosy babe, or faithful wife.
'Tis past-'tis gone-the brightness of those eyes
Can cheer no more thy melancholy home:
But grief may not endure-new joys arise;
The past is not-but thou hast years to come!
New joys arise-eager thou pressest on,
Hope's brilliant mockery deceiving still.
And now thou weepest o'er delusions gone,
Now hail'st with transport days devoid of ill.
Yet ever as thou goest on thy way,
However bright may be the present hour,
Clings to thy mind with brightest, purest ray,
The joy thou could'st not hold, the faded flower-
Still dearest seems the past; and as each light,
Extinguished, leaves thee lone, through memory's tears
More dim the future rises to thy sight,
More bright the visions of thine early years.
Pilgrim of Life! why slackenest thou thy speed?
Why is that brow of eager hope o'ercast?
A pause-a struggle-and the hour decreed
Mingles for aye the present with the past!
OH! treasured thus by passion's slave,
Dear relic of the bygone year;
Say, what remains of her who gave?
The vain regret--the useless tear.
The clasping hands--the throbbing brow--
The murmuring of that shadowy word,
To which had answered once--oh! now,
Why is that light quick step unheard?
What in those syllables is found,
That such a start of woe can claim?
A word is but an empty sound,--
Alas! it is--it was--her name!
It was--yes, she was once! as gay,
As full of life, as aught that lives;
The breath--the life--hath passed away,
But not the pang her memory gives.
Bright tress! thy beauty bringeth now
A thousand dreams of rapture gone;
Her sunny eyes, her radiant brow,
The low, light laughter of her tone.
Gazing on thee, again she stands
Before me, as in days of old;
With all her young head's shining bands,
And all its wavy curls of gold.
Till as I view thee, silken tress,
I feel within my suffering heart,--
'Tis all which now my sight can bless,
All that of her will not depart.
Oh! thou that wert life's dearest prize,
That now art but a thought of pain;
Why do thy tones--thy laughing eyes--
Rise up to wring my soul again?
I roam in vain:--the sun that beams
Is still the sun we looked upon;
My hand, my lonely hand, in dreams,
Seeks still for thine to clasp its own.
My heart resists all time--all change,
And finds no other form so dear.
My memory, wheresoe'er I range,
Clings to the spot where thou wert near.
Change!--thou wert all life's scenery:
To me, the billowy, bounding wave--
The wide green earth--the far blue sky,
Form but the landscape of thy grave!
Oh! bitter is their boon of life
Who cannot hope--who may not die--
I linger in a world of strife,
Whilst thou art in the happy sky!
I envy thee the peace thou hast,
And, but 'tis sin, the knee would bow,
That He who made thee all thou wast,
Would make me all--that thou art now!
The Visionary Portrait
As by his lonely hearth he sate,
The shadow of a welcome dream
Pass'd o'er his heart,--disconsolate
His home did seem;
Comfort in vain was spread around,
For something still was wanting found.
Therefore he thought of one who might
For ever in his presence stay;
Whose dream should be of him by night,
Whose smile should be for him by day;
And the sweet vision, vague and far,
Rose on his fancy like a star.
'Let her be young, yet not a child,
Whose light and inexperienced mirth
Is all too wingéd and too wild
For sober earth,--
Too rainbow-like such mirth appears,
And fades away in misty tears.
'Let youth's fresh rose still gently bloom
Upon her smooth and downy cheek,
Yet let a shadow, not of gloom,
But soft and meek,
Tell that some sorrow she hath known,
Tho' not a sorrow of her own.
'And let her eyes be of the grey,
The soft grey of the brooding dove,
Full of the sweet and tender ray
Of modest love;
For fonder shows that dreamy hue
Than lustrous black or heavenly blue.
'Let her be full of quiet grace,
No sparkling wit with sudden glow
Bright'ning her purely chisell'd face
And placid brow;
Not radiant to the stranger's eye,--
A creature easily pass'd by;
'But who, once seen, with untold power
For ever haunts the yearning heart,
Raised from the crowd that self-same hour
To dwell apart,
All sainted and enshrined to be
The idol of our memory!
'And oh! let Mary be her name
It hath a sweet and gentle sound
At which no glories dear to fame
Come crowding round,
But which the dreaming heart beguiles
With holy thoughts and household smiles
'With peaceful meetings, welcomes kind,
And love, the same in joy and tears,
And gushing intercourse of mind
Thro' faithful years;
Oh! dream of something half divine,
Be real--be mortal--and be mine!'
To Ferdinand Seymour
ROSY child, with forehead fair,
Coral lip, and shining hair,
In whose mirthful, clever eyes
Such a world of gladness lies;
As thy loose curls idly straying
O'er thy mother's cheek, while playing,
Blend her soft lock's shadowy twine
With the glittering light of thine,--
Who shall say, who gazes now,
Which is fairest, she or thou?
In sweet contrast are ye met,
Such as heart could ne'er forget:
Thou art brilliant as a flower,
Crimsoning in the sunny hour;
Merry as a singing-bird,
In the green wood sweetly heard;
Restless as if fluttering wings
Bore thee on thy wanderings;
Ignorant of all distress,
Full of childhood's carelessness.
She is gentle; she hath known
Something of the echoed tone
Sorrow leaves, where'er it goes,
In this world of many woes.
On her brow such shadows are
As the faint cloud gives the star,
Veiling its most holy light,
Tho' it still be pure and bright;
And the colour in her cheek
To the hue on thine is weak,
Save when flush'd with sweet surprise,
Sudden welcomes light her eyes;
And her softly chisel'd face
(But for living, moving grace)
Looks like one of those which beam
In th' Italian painter's dream,--
Some beloved Madonna, bending
O'er the infant she is tending;
Holy, bright, and undefiled
Mother of the Heaven-born child;
Who, tho' painted strangely fair,
Seems but made for holy prayer,
Pity, tears, and sweet appeal,
And fondness such as angels feel;
Baffling earthly passion's sigh
With serenest majesty!
Oh! may those enshrouded years
Whose fair dawn alone appears,--
May that brightly budding life,
Knowing yet not sin nor strife,--
Bring its store of hoped-for joy,
Mother, to thy laughing boy!
And the good thou dost impart
Lies deep-treasured in his heart,
That, when he at length shall strive
In the bad world where we live,
THY sweet name may still be blest
As one who taught his soul true rest!
The Picture Of Sappho
THOU! whose impassion'd face
The Painter loves to trace,
Theme of the Sculptor's art and Poet's story--
How many a wand'ring thought
Thy loveliness hath brought,
Warming the heart with its imagined glory!
Yet, was it History's truth,
That tale of wasted youth,
Of endless grief, and Love forsaken pining?
What wert thou, thou whose woe
The old traditions show
With Fame's cold light around thee vainly shining?
Didst thou indeed sit there
In languid lone despair--
Thy harp neglected by thee idly lying--
Thy soft and earnest gaze
Watching the lingering rays
In the far west, where summer-day was dying--
While with low rustling wings,
Among the quivering strings
The murmuring breeze faint melody was making,
As though it wooed thy hand
To strike with new command,
Or mourn'd with thee because thy heart was breaking?
Didst thou, as day by day
Roll'd heavily away,
And left thee anxious, nerveless, and dejected,
Wandering thro' bowers beloved--
Roving where he had roved--
Yearn for his presence, as for one expected?
Didst thou, with fond wild eyes
Fix'd on the starry skies,
Wait feverishly for each new day to waken--
Trusting some glorious morn
Might witness his return,
Unwilling to believe thyself forsaken?
And when conviction came,
Chilling that heart of flame,
Didst thou, O saddest of earth's grieving daughters !
From the Leucadian steep
Dash, with a desperate leap,
And hide thyself within the whelming waters?
Yea, in their hollow breast
Thy heart at length found rest!
The ever-moving waves above thee closing--
The winds, whose ruffling sigh
Swept the blue waters by,
Disturb'd thee not!--thou wert in peace reposing!
Such is the tale they tell!
Vain was thy beauty's spell--
Vain all the praise thy song could still inspire--
Though many a happy band
Rung with less skilful hand
The borrowed love-notes of thy echoing lyre.
FAME, to thy breaking heart
No comfort could impart,
In vain thy brow the laurel wreath was wearing;
One grief and one alone
Could bow thy bright head down--
Thou wert a WOMAN, and wert left despairing!
MAY-DAY is come!--While yet the unwillng Spring
Checks with capricious frown the opening year,
Onward, where bleak winds have been whispering,
The punctual Hours their ancient playmate bear;
But those who long have look'd for thee, stand by,
Like men who welcome back a friend bereaved,
And camnot smile, because his sadden'd eye
Doth mutely tell them how his soul is grieved.
Even thus too greet thine alter'd face to-day,
Thou friend in mourning garb!--chill, melancholy May!
To thee the first and readiest smiles of Earth,
Lovely with life renew'd, were always given,--
To thee belong'd the sunshine and the mirth
Which bathed all Nature with a glow from Heaven,--
To thee the joy of Childhood's earnest heart,
His shouting song, and light elastic tread,
His brows high arch'd, and laughing lips apart,
Bright as the wreath that bound his rosy head.--
Thou wert of Innocence the holiday,
Thou garlanded and glad!--thou ever-blooming May!
Yet will I not reproach thee for thy change:
Closed be the flower, and leafless be the tree!
Smile not as thou wert wont; but sad, and strange,
And joyless, let thy tardy coming be!
So shall I miss those infant voices less,
Calling each other through the garden bowers,
Meeting and parting in wild happiness,
Leading a light dance thro' the sunny hours;
Those little mirthful hearts, who, far away,
Breathe, amid cloud-capp'd hills, a yet more wintry May!
Ah, boys! your play-ground is a desert spot,
Revisited alone, and bathed with tears;
And where ye pass your May-day, knoweth not
The mother who hath watch'd your dawning years.
Mine is no more the joy to see ye come,
And deem each step hath some peculiar grace!
Yours is no more the mother's welcome home,
Smiling at each beloved, familiar face!
And I an thankfiul that this dreary May
Recals not, save by name, that brighter, happier day!
I should have felt more mock'd, if there had been
More peace and sunshine round me,--had the grove,
Clad in transparent leaves of tender green,
Been full of murm'ring sounds of Nature's love;
I should have wept more bitterly beneath
The frail laburnum trees, so faint and fair,--
I should have sicken'd at the lilac's breath,
Thrown by the warm sun on the silent air;
But now, with stern regret I wend my way--
I know thee not,--thou cold, and unfamiliar May!
SHE is standing by her loved one's side,
A young and a fair and a gentle bride,
But mournfulness hath crost her face
Like shadows in a sunny place,
And wistfully her eye doth strain
Across the blue and distant main.
My home! my home!-I would I were
Again in joyous gladness there!
My home! my home!-I would I heard
The singing voice, like some small bird,
Of him, our mother's youngest child,
With light soft step, and features mild.-
I would I saw that dear one now,
With the proud eye and noble brow,
Whose very errors were more loved
Than all our reason most approved.
And she, my fairy sister, she,
Who was the soul of childish glee;
Who loved me so-oh, let me hear
Once more those tones familiar, dear,
Which haunt my rest; and I will smile
Even as I used to do erewhile.
I know that some have fall'n asleep-
I know that some have learnt to weep-
But my heart never feels the same
As when those light steps round me came:
And sadness weighs my heavy eye
Beneath this cheerless stranger sky:
Tho' fewer now might round me come-
It is my home-my own old home!
She is back again in her sunny home,
And thick and fast the beatings come
Of that young heart, as round she sees
The same sweet flowers, the same old trees;
But they, the living flowers she loved,
Are they the same? are they unmoved?-
No-time which withers leaf and stem
Hath thrown his withering change o'er them.
Where there was mirth, is silence now-
Where there was joy, a darkened brow-
The bounding step hath given place
To the slow stealing mournful pace;
The proud bright eye is now less proud,
By time, and thought, and sickness bowed.
And the light singing voice no more
Its joyful carols echoes o'er,
But whispers; fearful some gay tone
May wake the thought of pleasures gone.
It is her home-but all in vain
Some lingering things unchanged remain:
The present wakes no smile-the past
Hath tears to bid its memory last.
She knew that some were gone-but oh!
She knew not-youth can never know
How furrowed o'er with silent thought
Are brows which grief and time have taught.
The murmuring of some shadowy word,
Which was a name-which now, unheard,
May wander thro' the clear cold sky,
Or wake the echo for reply:
The lingering pause in some bright spot
To dream of those who now are not:
The gaze that vainly seeks to trace
Lost feelings beaming on a face
Where time and sorrow, guilt and care,
Have past and left their withering there:-
These are her joys; and she doth roam
Around her dear but desert home;
Peopling the vacant seats, till tears arise,
And blot the dim sweet vision from her eyes.
The Wanderer Looking Into Other Homes
A LONE, wayfaring wretch I saw, who stood
Wearily pausing by the wicket gate;
And from his eyes there streamed a bitter flood,
Contrasting his with many a happier fate.
Bleak howled the wind, the sleety shower fell fast
On his bare head, and scanty-covered breast;
As through the village with quick step I past,
To find sweet shelter in my home of rest.
'Oh! that I too could call a home my own!'
Said the lone wanderer, as he wistful gazed
Through the clear lattice, on the hearth's wide stone,
Where cheerily the jocund fire blazed.
'Oh! that I too, in such a cot might dwell!
Where the bright homefire blazeth clear and high:
Where joy alone my grateful heart might swell,
And children's children bless me when I die!'
Little he deemed what bitterness was there,
Who murmured thus his aspirations vain,--
Little he deemed that one as fond as fair
Lay faintly sighing on a bed of pain:
And by her side, a restless vigil keeping,
One who had deeply wronged that gentle heart--
Knelt with clasped hands; now praying, and now weeping;
Dreading, each hour, to see the soul depart.
They were two sisters jealous love had twained;
And one had slandered he who faded lay,
Because she deemed her slighted love disdained:
And he they both had loved was far away:
And from that hour, the younger drooped and pined,
Like a pale snowdrop bowing down her head;
Joyless of life--to slow disease resigned--
The heart within her was already dead.
Here, for her sake, they woo the mountain gale,
If, haply, change may yet prevent her fate.
But he, the wanderer, knew not of this tale,
And humbly sues admittance at their gate.
He enters--what hath met his eager eyes?
Pale as the white-fringed drapery spread beneath,
His early loved, his sorely slandered, lies,
Heaving with pain her faint and quickened breath.
O'er her soft arm her long, dark, glossy hair,
Floats in unbraided beauty,--and her cheek,--
Ah, me! the deeply-crimsoned tinge is there,
That of sharp woe and early death doth speak.
How beautiful, beneath her drooping eye,
The glowing hectic of that cheek appears,
Where the long lashes like soft shadows lie,
Seeking in vain to prison back her tears.
She gazes--shrieks--'tis he! at length 'tis he,
Whom dreams and waking thoughts have brought in vain!
And must she die, e'er yet from sorrow free,
Her head hath rested on his heart again?
A few slow, bitter words of wild appeal--
Of earnest explanation faintly given--
A pressure, which his hand can scarcely feel,
And her freed soul is on its way to heaven!
So, wanderers in the world may pausing gaze
Upon some radiant form with smiles of light,
And seeing but the outward beam that plays,
Envy their joys--and deem that all is bright.
The homes of other hearts! oh! yet beware,
Ye, who with friendly guise would enter in,
Lest all be false,--and ye be doomed to share
Their guilt or woe--their sadness or their sin!
The Mother’s Last Watch
Written on the occasion of the death of the infant daughter of Her Grace the Duchess of Sutherland.
HARK, through the proudly decorated halls,
How strangely sounds the voice of bitter woe,
Where steps that dread their echo as it falls
Steal silently and sadly to and fro.
There, wither'd lies the bud so lately given,
And, beautiful in grief as when she smiled,
Bow'd 'neath the unexpected stroke of Heaven,
The mourning Mother watches o'er her Child.
'Tis her last Watch! Sleep seals those infant lids,
Dark fall the lashes on that roseleaf cheek-
But oh!--the look is there, which Hope forbids;
Of Death--of Death those heavy eyelids speak!--
'Tis her last Watch!--no more that gentle hand
With cautious love shall curtain out the light--
No more that graceful form shall mutely stand
And bless thy slumbers thro' the shadowy night.
Hush'd is the innocent heart which throbbing pain,
Vain hope, and vain regret had never moved.
The God who gave hath claim'd his gift again,
And angels welcome her, on earth so loved.
Yet still of hope and fear the endless strife
Within that Mother's bosom faintly swells,
Still, still she gazes on, and dreams of life,
Though the fond falsehood Reason's pow'r repels.
Unheard each word of comfort faintly falls
From lips whose tones in other days were dear,
Her infant's smile is all her heart recalls,--
Her infant's voice is all her heart can hear;--
She clasps its hand, the feverish glow of hers
Wakes into warmth the freezing current's flow;
She bends,--her sobbing breath a ringlet stirs
With mimic life upon its pallid brow.
Oh! what a mournful thing is human love!
In happier days of hope and bliss gone by
The Mother's heart with pitying throb would move
If but a teardrop dimm'd that laughing eye:
And now she prays that Heaven the boon may give
To hear from those pale lips a cry of pain--
Aught that could bid her sinking soul revive,
And tell the mourner thou wert hers again!
Ah ! never more that dream of hope may be!--
The summer breeze among the boughs shall wave,
The summer sun beam bright o'er land and lea,
But thou, no spring shall wake thee from the grave!
No more those little rosy lips shall greet
With brightly sudden smile her look of pride;
No more with falt'ring steps those fairy feet
Shall totter onward to her cherish'd side.
All, all is over! See, with painful start
She wakens from her trance to feel the whole,
And know the pang even from thy corse to part--
Thou vainly guarded treasure of her soul!
The hand that, ah! so often hath caress'd,
Aids now to place thee in thy narrow bed!
The last wild kiss upon thy cheek is press'd--
The last fond tear upon thy coffin shed!
And all is hush'd: but oft thro' Life's dull track
(When time her present sorrow hath beguiled)
That pale, sweet brow shall dimly bring us back
The Mother's last Watch o'er her fairy Child!
On The Purple And White Carnation
'TWAS a bright May morn, and each opening flower
Lay sunning itself in Flora's bower;
Young Love, who was fluttering round, espied
The blossoms so gay in their painted pride;
And he gazed on the point of a feathered dart,
For mischief had filled the boy-god's heart;
And laughed as his bowstring of silk he drew,
And away that arrow at random flew:
Onward it sped like a ray of light,
And fell on a flower of virgin white,
Which glanced all snowy and pure at the sun,
And wept when his glorious course was run:
Two little drops on its pale leaves lay
Pure as pearls, but with diamond ray,
(Like the tear on Beauty's lid of snow,
Which waits but Compassion to bid it flow
It rested, that dart; and its pointed tip
Sank deep where the bees were wont to sip;
And the sickening flower gazed with grief
On the purple stains which dimmed each leaf,
And the crystal drops on its leaves that stood
Blushed with sorrow and shame till they turned to blood.
It chanced that Flora, wandering by,
Beheld her flow'ret droop and die;
And Love laughed in scorn at the flower-queen's woe,
As she vainly shook its leaves of snow.
Fled from her lip was the smile of light :--
'Oh! who hath worked thee this fell despite!
Thou who did'st harm, alas! to none,
But joyed'st all day in the beams of the sun!'
''Twas Love!' said the flower, and a scented sigh
Loaded the gale that murmured by.
'Twas Love! and the dew-drops that blushed on the wound
Sank slow and sad to the pitying ground.
''Twas Love!' said Flora: 'accursed be the power
That could blight the bloom of so fair a flower.
With whispers and smiles he wins Beauty's ears,
But he leaves her nothing save grief and tears.
Ye gods! shall he bend with such tyranny still
The weak and the strong to his wanton will?
No! the hearts that he joins may rude discord sever;
Accursed be his power for ever and ever.'
She spoke, and wept; and the echo again
Repeated the curse, but all in vain--
The tyrant laughed as he fluttered away,
Spreading his rainbow wings to the day,
And settling at random his feathered darts
To spoil sweet flowers, or break fond hearts.
He fled--and the queen o'er her flower in vain
Poured the evening dew and the April rain,
The purple spots on her heart still were.
And she said, as she wept her fruitless care,
'The blight and the stain may be washed away,
But what Love hath ruined must sink in decay.'
And she sent it on earth, to dwell below
In the autumn fog and the winter snow.
And even, 'tis said, on summer eves
O'er that sad lost flower she wails and grieves;
And the drops that by mortals as dew are seen
Are the tears of the mourning flower-queen.
And when men are gazing with fond delight
On its varied leaves, and call them bright,
And praise the velvet tints, and say
There never was flower more pure and gay:
That flow'ret says, as it droops its head,
'Alas! for the day when by love I bled;
When my feathery flowers were pure and white,
And my leaves had no earthly stain or blight,
When no chilling blasts around me blew,
And in Flora's garden of light I grew.
Oh! the blight and the stain may be washed away,
But what Love hath ruined must sink in decay.'
The Lady Of La Garaye - Conclusion
PEACE to their ashes! Far away they lie,
Among their poor, beneath the equal sky.
Among their poor, who blessed them ere they went
For all the loving help and calm content.
Oh! happy beings, who have gone to hear
'Well done, ye faithful servants,' sounding clear;
How easy all your virtues to admire;
How hard, alas! to copy and aspire.
Servant of God, well done! They serve God well
Who serve His creatures: when the funeral bell
Tolls for the dead, there's nothing left of all
That decks the scutcheon and the velvet pall
Save this. The coronet is empty show:
The strength and loveliness are hid below:
The shifting wealth to others hath accrued:
And learning cheers not the grave' solitude:
What's DONE, is what remains! Ah, blessed they
Who leave completed tasks of love to stay
And answer mutely for them, being dead,
Life was not purposeless, though Life be fled.
Even as I write, before me seem to rise,
Like stars in darkness, well remembered eyes
Whose light but lately shone on earth's endeavour,
Now vanished from this troubled world for ever.
Oh! missed and mourned by many,--I being one,--
HERBERT, not vainly thy career was run;
Nor shall Death's shadow, and the folding shroud,
Veil from the future years thy worth allowed.
Since all thy life thy single hope and aim
Was to do good,--not make thyself a name,--
'Tis fit that by the good remaining yet,
Thy name be one men never can forget.
Oh! eyes I first knew in our mutual youth.
So full of limpid earnestness and truth;
Eyes I saw fading still, as day by day
The body, not the spirit's strength, gave way;
Eyes that I last saw lifting their farewell
To the now darkened windows where I dwell,--
And wondered, as I stood there sadly gazing,
If Death were brooding in their faint upraising;
If never more thy footstep light should cross
My threshold stone--but friends bewail thy loss,
And She bewidowed young, who lonely trains
Children that boast thy good blood in their veins;
Fair eyes,--your light was quenched while men still thought
To see those tasks to full perfection brought!
But GOOD is not a shapeless mass of stone,
Hewn by man's hands and worked by him alone;
It is a seed God suffers One to sow,--
Many to reap; and when the harvests grow,
GOD giveth increase through all coming years,--
And lets us reap in joy, seed that was sown in tears.
Brave heart! true soldier's son; set at thy post,
Deserting not till life itself was lost;
Thou faithful sentinel for others' weal,
Clad in a surer panoply than steel,
A resolute purpose,--sleep, as heroes sleep,--
Slain, but not conquered! We thy loss must weep,
And while our sight the mist of sorrow dims,
Feel all these comforting words die down like hymns
Hushed after service in cathedral walls;
But proudly on thy name thy country calls,
By thee raised higher than the highest place
Yet won by any of thy ancient race.
Be thy sons like thee! Sadly as I bend
Above the page, I write thy name, lost friend!
With a friend's name this brief book did begin,
And a friend's name shall end it: names that win
Happy remembrance from the great and good;
Names that shall sink not in oblivion's flood,
But with clear music, like a church-bell's chime,
Sound through the river's sweep of onward rushing Time!
The Dying Hour
OH! watch me; watch me still
Thro' the long night's dreary hours,
Uphold by thy firm will
Worn Nature's sinking powers!
While yet thy face is there
(The loose locks round it flying),
So young, and fresh, and fair,
I feel not I am dying!
Stoop down, and kiss my brow!
The shadows round me closing
Warn me that dark and low
I soon shall be reposing.
But while those pitying eyes
Are bending thus above me,
In vain the death-dews rise,--
Thou dost regret and love me!
Then watch me thro' the night,
Thro' my broken, fitful slumber;
By the pale lamp's sickly light
My dying moments number!
Thy fond and patient smile
Shall soothe my painful waking;
Thy voice shall cheer me while
The slow grey dawn is breaking!
The battle-slain, whose thirst
No kindly hand assuages,
Whose low faint farewells burst
Unheard, while combat rages,--
The exiled, near whose bed
Some vision'd form seems weeping,
Whose steps shall never tread
The land where he lies sleeping,--
The drown'd, whose parting breath
Is caught by wild winds only,--
Theirs is the bitter death,
Beloved, for they die lonely!
But thus, tho' rack'd, to lie,
Thou near, tho' full of sadness,
Leaves still, e'en while I die,
A lingering gleam of gladness!
I feel not half my pain
When to mine thy fond lip presses,--
I warm to life again
Beneath thy soft caresses!
Once more, oh! yet once more
Fling, fling thy white arms round me,
As oft in days of yore
Their gentle clasp hath bound me;
And hold me to that breast
Which heaves so full with sorrow--
Who knows where I may rest
In the dark and blank to-morrow?
Ah! weep not--it shall be
An after-thought to cheer thee,
That while mine eyes could see,
And while mine ears could hear thee--
Thy voice and smile were still
The spells on which I doated,
And thou, through good and ill,
To me and mine devoted!
And calmly by my tomb,
When the low bright day declineth,
And athwart the cypress gloom
The mellow sunset shineth,--
Thou'lt sit and think of Him,
Who, of Heaven's immortal splendour,
Had a dream on earth, though dim,
In thy love so pure and tender,--
Who scarcely feels thy touch,--
Whom thy voice can rouse no longer,--
But whose love on earth was such,
That only death was stronger.
Yes, sit, but not in tears!
Thine eyes in faith uplifting,
From thy lot of changeful years,
To the Heaven where naught is shifting.
From this world, where all who love
Are doomed alike to sever,
To the glorious realms above,
Where they dwell in peace for ever!
And then such hope shall beam
From the grave where I lie sleeping,
This bitter hour shall seem
Too vague and far for weeping--
And grief--ah! hold me now!
My fluttering pulse is failing,--
The death-dews chill my brow,--
The morning light is paling!
I seek thy gaze in vain,--
Earth reels and fades before me;
I die!--but feel no pain,--
Thy sweet face shining o'er me!
The Widow To Her Son’s Betrothed
AH, cease to plead with that sweet cheerful voice,
Nor bid me struggle with a weight of woe,
Lest from the very tone that says 'rejoice'
A double bitterness of grief should grow;
Those words from THEE convey no gladdening thought,
No sound of comfort lingers in their tone,
But by their means a haunting shade is brought
Of love and happiness for ever gone!
My son!--alas, hast thou forgotten him,
That thou art full of hopeful plans again?
His heart is cold--his joyous eyes are dim,--
For him THE FUTURE is a word in vain!
He never more the welcome hours may share,
Nor bid Love's sunshine cheer our lonely home,--
How hast thou conquer'd all the long despair
Born of that sentence--He is in the tomb?
How can thy hand with cheerful fondness press
The hands of friends who still on earth may stay--
Remembering his most passionate caress
When the LONG PARTING summon'd him away?
How can'st thou keep from bitter weeping, while
Strange voices tell thee thou art brightly fair--
Remembering how he loved thy playful smile,
Kiss'd thy smooth cheek, and praised thy burnish'd hair?
How can'st thou laugh? How can'st thou warble songs?
How can'st thou lightly tread the meadow-fields,
Praising the freshness which to spring belongs,
And the sweet incense which the hedge-flower yields?
Does not the many-blossom'd spring recal
Our pleasant walks through cowslip-spangled meads,--
The violet-scented lanes--the warm south-wall,
Where early flow'rets rear'd their welcome heads?
Does not remembrance darken on thy brow
When the wild rose a richer fragrance flings--
When the caressing breezes lift the bough,
And the sweet thrush more passionately sings;--
Dost thou not, then, lament for him whose form
Was ever near thee, full of earnest grace?
Does not the sudden darkness of the storm
Seem luridly to fall on Nature's face?
It does to ME! The murmuring summer breeze,
Which thou dost turn thy glowing cheek to meet,
For me sweeps desolately through the trees,
And moans a dying requiem at my feet!
The glistening river which in beauty glides,
Sparkling and blue with morn's triumphant light,
All lonely flows, or in its bosom hides
A broken image lost to human sight!
But THOU!--Ah! turn thee not in grief away;
I do not wish thy soul as sadly wrung--
I know the freedom of thy spirit's play,
I know thy bounding heart is fresh and young:
I know corroding Time will slowly break
The links which bound most fondly and most fast,
And Hope will be Youth's comforter, and make
The long bright Future overweigh the Past.
Only, when full of tears I raise mine eyes
And meet thine ever full of smiling light,
I feel as though thy vanish'd sympathies
Were buried in HIS grave, where all is night;
And when beside our lonely hearth I sit,
And thy light laugh comes echoing to my ear,
I wonder how the waste of mirth and wit
Hath still the power thy widow'd heart to cheer!
Bear with me yet! Mine is a harsh complaint!
And thy youth's innocent lightheartedness
Should rather soothe me when my spirits faint
Than seem to mock my age's lone distress.
But oh! the tide of grief is swelling high,
And if so soon forgetfulness must be--
If, for the DEAD, thou hast no further sigh,
Weep for his Mother!--Weep, young Bride, for ME!
The Lady Of La Garaye - Dedication
FRIEND of old days, of suffering, storm, and strife,
Patient and kind through many a wild appeal;
In the arena of thy brilliant life
Never too busy or too cold to feel:
Companion from whose ever teeming store
Of thought and knowledge, happy memory brings
So much of social wit and sage's lore,
Garnered and gleaned by me as precious things:
Kinsman of him whose very name soon grew
Unreal as music heard in pleasant dreams,
So vain the hope my girlish fancy drew,
So faint and far his vanished presence seems.
To thee I dedicate this record brief
Of foreign scenes and deeds too little known;
This tale of noble souls who conquered grief
By dint of tending sufferings not their own.
Thou hast known all my life: its pleasant hours,
(How many of them have I owed to thee!)
Its exercise of intellectual powers,
With thoughts of fame and gladness not to be.
Thou knowest how Death for ever dogged my way,
And how of those I loved the best, and those
Who loved and pitied me in life's young day,
Narrow, and narrower still, the circle grows.
Thou knowest--for thou hast proved--the dreary shade
A first-born's loss casts over lonely days;
And gone is now the pale fond smile, that made
In my dim future, yet, a path of rays.
Gone, the dear comfort of a voice whose sound
Came like a beacon-bell, heard clear above
The whirl of violent waters surging round;
Speaking to shipwrecked ears of help and love.
The joy that budded on my own youth's bloom,
When life wore still a glory and a gloss,
Is hidden from me in the silent tomb;
Smiting with premature unnatural loss,
So that my very soul is wrung with pain,
Meeting old friends whom most I love to see.
Where are the younger lives, since these remain?
I weep the eyes that should have wept for me!
But all the more I cling to those who speak
Like thee, in tones unaltered by my change;
Greeting my saddened glance, and faded cheek,
With the same welcome that seemed sweet and strange
In early days: when I, of gifts made proud,
That could the notice of such men beguile,
Stood listening to thee in some brilliant crowd,
With the warm triumph of a youthful smile.
Oh! little now remains of all that was!
Even for this gift of linking measured words,
My heart oft questions, with discouraged pause,
Does music linger in the slackening chords?
Yet, friend, I feel not that all power is fled,
While offering to thee, for the kindly years,
The intangible gift of thought, whose silver thread
Heaven keeps untarnished by our bitterest tears.
So, in the brooding calm that follows woe,
This tale of LA GARAYE I fain would tell,--
As, when some earthly storm hath ceased to blow,
And the huge mounting sea hath ceased to swell;
After the maddening wrecking and the roar,
The wild high dash, the moaning sad retreat,
Some cold slow wave creeps faintly to the shore,
And leaves a white shell at the gazer's feet.
Take, then, the poor gift in thy faithful hand;
Measure its worth not merely by my own,
But hold it dear as gathered from the sand
Where so much wreck of youth and hope lies strown.
So, if in years to come my words abide--
Words of the dead to stir some living brain--
When thoughtful readers lay my book aside,
Musing on all it tells of joy and pain,
Towards thee, good heart, towards thee their thoughts shall roam,
Whose unforsaking faith time hath not riven;
And to their minds this just award shall come,
'Twas a TRUE friend to whom such thanks were given!
The Hunting Horn Of Chalemagne
SOUND not the Horn!--the guarded relic keep:
A faithful sharer of its master's sleep:
His life it gladden'd--to his life belong'd,--
Pause--ere thy lip the royal dead hath wrong'd.
Its weary weight but mocks thy feeble hand;
Its desolate note, the shrine wherein we stand.
Not such the sound it gave in days of yore,
When that rich belt a monarch's bosom wore,--
Not such the sound! Far over hill and dell
It waked the echoes with triumphant swell;
Heard midst the rushing of the torrent's fall,
From castled crag to roofless ruin'd hall,
Down the ravine's precipitous descent,
Thro' the wild forest's rustling boughs it went,
Upon the lake's blue bosom linger'd fond,
And faintly answer'd from the hills beyond:
Pause!--the free winds that joyous blast have borne:--
Dead is the hunter!--silent be the horn!
Sound not the horn! Bethink thee of the day
When to the chase an Emperor led the way;
In all the pride of manhood's noblest prime,
Untamed by sorrow, and untired by time,
Life's pulses throbbing in his eager breast,
Glad, active, vigorous,--who is now at rest:--
How he gazed round him with his eagle eye,
Leapt the dark rocks that frown against the sky,
Grasp'd the long spear, and curb'd the panting steed
(Whose fine nerves quiver with his headlong speed),
At the wild cry of danger smiled in scorn,
And firmly sounded that re-echoing horn!
Ah! let no touch the ivory tube profane
Which drank the breath of living Charlemagne;
Let not like blast by meaner lips be blown,
But by the hunter's side the horn lay down!
Or, following to his palace, dream we now
Not of the hunter's strength, or forest bough,
But woman's love! HER offering this, perchance,--
This, granted to each stranger's casual glance,
This, gazed upon with coldly curious eyes,
Was giv'n with blushes, and received with sighs!
We see her not;--no mournful angel stands
To guard her love-gift from our careless hands;
But fancy brings a vision to our view--
A woman's form, the trusted and the true:
The strong to suffer, tho' so weak to dare
Patient to watch thro' many a day of care,
Devoted, anxious, generous, void of guile,
And with her whole heart's welcome in her smile;
Even such I see! Her maidens, too, are there,
And wake, with chorus sweet, some native air;
But tho' her proud heart holds her country dear,
And tho' she loves those happy songs to hear,
She bids the tale be hush'd, the harp be still,
For one faint blast that dies along the hill.
Up, up, she springs; her young head backward thrown;
'He comes! my hunter comes!--Mine own--mine own!'
She loves, and she is loved--her gift is worn--
'Tis fancy, all!--And yet--lay down the horn!
Love--life--what are ye?--since to love and live
No surer record to our times can give!
Low lies the hero now, whose spoken name
Could fire with glory, or with love inflame;
Low lies the arm of might, the form of pride,
And dim tradition dreameth by his side.
Desolate stand those painted palace-halls,
And gradual ruin mines the massy walls,
Where frank hearts greeted many a welcome guest,
And loudly rang the beaker and the jest;--
While here, within this chapel's narrow bound,
Whose frozen silence startles to the sound
Of stranger voices ringing thro' the air,
Of faintly echoes many a humble prayer;
Here, where the window, narrow arch'd, and high,
With jealous bars shuts out the free blue sky,--
Where glimmers down, with various-painted ray,
A prison'd portion of God's glorious day,--
Where never comes the breezy breath of morn,
Here, mighty hunter, feebly wakes thy horn!
(Of my Brother's infant Son, February 21, 1839.)
THERE is a sound of laughter light and gay,
And hurried welcomes, as of joyful greeting;
The stir and murmur of a holiday,
The grouping of glad friends each other meeting:
And in the midst art THOU--thou tiny flower,
Whose coming hath so cheer'd this wintry hour!
Helpless thou liest, young blossom of our love!
The sunshine of fond smiles around thee beaming,
Blessings call'd down on thee from Heaven above,
And every heart about thy future dreaming:--
Meek peace and utter innocence are now
The sole expression of thy baby brow.
Helpless thou liest, thy little waxen face
Eagerly scann'd by our inquiring glances,
Hoping some lovely likeness there to trace,
Which fancy finds, and so thy worth enhances;
Clothing with thought mature, and power of mind,
Those infant features, yet so faintly lined.
And still thy youthful mother bendeth down
Her large, soft, loving eyes, brimful of gladness,
Her cheek almost as waxen as thine own,
Her heart as innocently free from sadness:
And still a brighter smile her red lip wears,
As each her young son's loveliness declares.
And sometimes as we gaze a sigh is heard,
(Though from the happy group all grief seems banished,)
As thou recallest, little nestling bird,
Some long familiar face whose light hath vanish'd;
Some name, which yet hath power our hearts to thrill--
Some smile, whose buried beauty haunts us still!
Ah! most to Her, the early widow'd, come
Thoughts of the blossoms that from earth have perish'd;
Lost to her lone and solitary home,
Though in her brooding memory fondly cherish'd:--
Her little grandson's baby-smiles recall
Not one regretted hope of youth, but all!
Her Son's son lies upon her cradling knee,
And bids her heart return, with mournful dreaming,
To her own first-born's helpless infancy,
When hope-youth's guiding star-was brightly beaming;
And He, who died too soon, stood by and smiled,
And bless'd alike the mother and her child.
Since then, how many a year hath fleeted past!
What unforeseen events, what joys, what sorrows,
With sunshine or with clouds have overcast
The long succession of her lonely morrows;
Ere musing o'er this fair and new-born face,
A fresh link carried on her orphan'd Race!
Fair child, that race is not by man's award
Ennobled,--but by God; no titles sounded
By herald's trump, or smooth and flattering bard,
Proclaim within what lines thy rank is bounded:--
Thy power hereditary none confine,
The gift of Genius, boy, by right is thine!
Be humble, for it is an envied thing;
And men whose creeping hearts have long submitted
Around the column'd height to clasp and cling
Of Titled Pride--by man to man transmitted,--
Will grudge the power they have less cause to dread,
Oppose thee living, and malign when dead.
One of thy lineage served his country well
(Though with her need her gratitude departed);
What in her memory now is left to dwell?
The faults of him who died half broken-hearted:--
And those, whose envious hands ne'er stretch'd to save,
Pluck down the laurels springing from his grave.
Yet hush! it is a solemn hour; and far
Be human bitterness and vain upbraiding;
With hope we watch thy rising, thou young star,
Hope not all earthly, or it were too fading;
For we are met to usher in thy life,
With Prayer,--which lifteth hearts, and quelleth strife!
Hush'd is the busy group, and still as death;
All at the sacred altar meekly kneeling;
For thy sake, who so lately drew thy breath,
All unto Heaven with earnest heart appealing.
A solemn voice addresses the Most High,
And with a murmuring echo we reply.
All holy be the hour! and, oh! may Heaven
Look down and bless the anxious mother's part,
As meekly she confides the treasure given
So lately to her young and hoping heart;
And pleads that God's great love may be his stay,
And guide her little Wanderer on his way.
So let it be! and when the noble head
Of thy true-hearted father, babe beloved,
Now glossy dark, is silver-gray instead,
And thy young birth-day far away removed;
Still may'st thou be a comfort and a joy,--
Still welcome as this day, unconscious boy!
The Winter’s Walk
MARK'D--as the hours should be, Fate bids us spend
With one illustrious, or a cherish'd friend--
Rich in the value of that double claim,
Since Fame allots the friend a Poet's name,--
My 'Winter's Walk' asserts its right to live
Amongst the brightest thoughts my life can give,
And leaves a track of light on Memory's way
Which oft shall gild the future Summer's day.
Gleam'd the red sun athwart the misty haze
Which veil'd the cold earth from its loving gaze,
Feeble and sad as Hope in Sorrow's hour,
But for THY soul it still had warmth and power;
Not to its cheerless beauty wert thou blind,
To the keen eye of thy poetic mind
Beauty still lives, tho' nature's flow'rets die,
And wintry sunsets fade along the sky!
And nought escaped thee as we stroll'd along,
Nor changeful ray, nor bird's faint chirping song;
Bless'd with a fancy easily inspired,
All was beheld, and nothing unadmired;
Not one of all God's blessings giv'n in vain,
From the dim city to the clouded plain.
And many an anecdote of other times,--
Good earnest deeds,--quaint wit,--and polished rhymes,--
Many a sweet story of remembered years
Which thrilled the listening heart with unshed tears,--
Unweariedly thy willing tongue rehearsed,
And made the hour seem brief as we conversed.
Ah! who can e'er forget, who once hath heard,
The gentle charm that dwells in every word
Of thy calm converse? In its kind allied
To some fair river's bright abundant tide,
Whose silver gushing current onward goes,
Fluent and varying; yet with such repose
As smiles even through the flashings of thy wit,
In every eddy that doth ruffle it.
Who can forget, who at thy social board
Hath sat,--and seen the pictures richly stored,
In all their tints of glory and of gloom,
Brightening the precincts of thy quiet room;
With busts and statues fall of that deep grace
Which modern hands have lost the skill to trace,
(Fragments of beauty--perfect as thy song
On that sweet land to which they did belong,)
Th' exact and classic taste bv thee displayed;
Not with a rich man's idle fond parade,
Not with the pomp of some vain connoisseur
Proud of his bargains, of his judgment sure,
But with the feelings kind and sad, of one
Who thro' far countries wandering hath gone,
And brought away dear keepsakes, to remind
His heart and home of all he left behind.
But wherefore these, in feeble rhyme recal?
Thy taste, thy wit, thy verse, are known to all;
Such things are for the World, and therefore doth
The World speak of them; loud, and nothing loth
To fancy that the talent stamped by Heaven
Is nought unless their echoed praise be given,
A worthless ore not yet allowed to shine,
A diamond darkly buried in its mine.
These are thy daylight qualities, whereon
Beams the full lustre of their garish sun,
And the keen point of many a famed reply
Is what they would not 'willingly let die.'
But by a holier light thy angel reads
The unseen records of more gentle deeds,--
And by a holier light thy angel sees
The tear oft shed for humble miseries,--
The alms dropp'd gently in the beggar's hand,
(Who in his daily poverty doth stand
Watching for kindness on thy pale calm brow,
Ignorant to whom he breathes his grateful vow).
Th' indulgent hour of kindness stol'n away
From the free leisure of thy well-spent day,
For some poor struggling Son of Genius, bent
Under the weight of heart-sick discontent;
Whose prayer thou hearest, mindful of the schemes
Of thine own youth;--the hopes, the fever-dreams
Of Fame and Glory which seemed hovering then,
(Nor only seemed) upon thy magic pen;
And measuring not how much beneath thine own
Is the sick mind thus pining to be known,
But only what a wealth of hope lies hushed
As in a grave,--when men like these are crushed!
And by that light's soft radiance I review
Thy unpretending kindness, calm and true,
Not to me only,--but in bitterest hours
To one whom Heaven endowed with varied powers;
To one who died, e'er yet my childish heart
Knew what Fame meant, or Slander's fabled dart!
Then was the laurel green upon his brow,
And they could flatter then, who judge him now;
Who, when the fickle breath of fortune changed,
With equal falsehood held their love estranged;
Nay, like mean wolves, from whelp-hood vainly nurst,
Tore at the easy hand that fed them first.
Not so didst THOU the ties of friendship break--
Not so didst THOU the saddened man forsake;
And when at length he laid his dying head
On the hard rest of his neglected bed,
He found,--(tho' few or none around him came
Whom he had toiled for in his hour of Fame;--
Though by his Prince, unroyally forgot,
And left to struggle with his altered lot;--)
By sorrow weakened,--by disease unnerved,--
Faithful at least the friend he had not served:
For the same voice essayed that hour to cheer,
Which now sounds welcome to his grandchild's ear;
And the same hand, to aid that Life's decline,
Whose gentle clasp so late was linked in mine!
The Faithful Friend
O, FRIEND! whose heart the grave doth shroud from human joy or woe,
Know'st thou who wanders by thy tomb, with footsteps sad and slow?
Know'st thou whose brow is dark with grief? whose eyes are dim with tears?
Whose restless soul is sinking with its agony of fears?
Whose hope hath fail'd, whose star hath sunk, whose firmest trust deceived,
Since, leaning on thy faithful breast, he loved and believed?
'Tis I!--Return and comfort me, for old remembrance' sake,--
From the long silence of the tomb--the cheerless tomb--awake!
I listen--all is still as death--no welcome step is nigh,--
I call thee, but thou answerest not--the grave hath no reply!
But mournfully the strange bright sun shines on thy funeral stone,
And sadly, in the cypress bough, the wild wind makes her moan.
When we were young, and cheerfully the promised future glow'd,
I little thought to stand alone by this thy last abode;
I little thought, in early days, O generous and kind!
That THOU, the first, shouldst quit the earth, and leave me, wreck'd, behind.
Thine was the pure unjealous love! I know they told us then
That Genius's gifts divided me from dull and common men;
That thou wert slow to science; that the chrat and letter'd page
Had in them no deep spell whereby thy spirit to engage;
But rather thou wouldst sail thy boat, or sound thy bugle horn,
Or track the sportsman's triumph thro' the fields of waving corn,
Than o'er the pond'rous histories of other ages bend,
And it was true! Our minds were cast as pleased the will of Heaven,
And different powers unto me, and unto thee, were given!
No trick of talent deck'd thy speech and glorified thy youth,--
Its simple spell of eloquence lay in its earnest truth;
Nor was the gladsome kindliness which brighten'd on thy brow,
The beauty which in fiction wins Love's fond romantic vow;
But gazing on thine honest face, intelligently bold,
Oft have I doubted of the gifts which men so precious hold,--
Wit, learning, wealth, seem'd overprized, since thou, dear friend, couldst be
So closely knit unto my heart by thy simplicity.
The worldly-wise may sneer at this, and scorn thee, if they will,--
THY judgment was not sharpen'd by the cunning of their skill;
No deep and calculating thoughts lay buried in thy breast,
To chill and vex thy honest heart, and startle it from rest;
No dream of cold philosophy, to make thee doubt and sigh,
And fawn and flatter half thy kind, and pass the others by!
And there thou liest forgotten--thou faithful friend, and true--
Thy resting-place beneath the cold damp shadow of the yew;
And quietly within the tomb's dark precincts wert thou laid,
As a faded leaf unnoticed drops within the forest's shade.
How should the world have tears for thee!--the world hath nothing lost--
No parent's high ambitious hope THY early death hath crost;
No sculptured falsehood gives to fame thy monumental stone,--
From the glory of our Senate-house, nor orator is gone:
Science hath lost no well-known name,--no soldier's heart shall bound,
Linking old England's victories with that inglorious sound;
No jealous and tomb-trampling foe shall find it worth his while,
With a false history of thy acts, thy country to beguile;
No mercenary hand in haste prepare the letter'd tome,
And publicly reveal the fond small weaknesses of Home;
Not some vainglorious friend (who yet hath lov'd thee to the last)
Permit all men to buy and sell his records of the past;
Nor give thy living letters up, nor print thy dying words;
Nor sweep with sacrilegious hand Affection's holy chords;
Nor with a frozen after-thought dissect thy generous heart,
And count each pulse that bid thy blood gush with a quicker start.
No! Blest OBSCURITY was thine! In sacred darkness dwells
The mem'ry of THY last fond looks and faltering farewells;
And none shall drag thy actions forth, for Slander or for Praise,
To that broad light which never glowed round thy unnoticed days.
At times a recollected jest, or snatch of merry song,
Which was so thine, that still to thee its ringing notes belong,
To boon companions back again thy image may recal,--
But lightly sits thy memory, oh Faithful Friend, on all!
The old house still hath echoes glad; tho' silent be thy voice,
Thy empty place at bed and board forbids not to rejoice!
Still with its white and gleaming sail, by strangers launch'd to float
Across the blue lake in the sun, glides on thy little boat;
Thy steed another rider backs,--thy dogs new masters find,
But I,--I mourn thy absence still, thou generous and kind:
Since I have lost thy pleasant smile, and voice of ringing mirth,
A silence and a darkness seems come down upon the earth;
A weight sits heavy on my heart, and clogs my weary feet,
For, wander where I will, thy glance I never more shall meet.
I cannot knit my soul again; my thoughts are wide astray
When others by my side would wile an hour or two away;
My door flings wide to welcome in some less familiar face,
And my heart struggles hard to fill thy ever vacant place;
But all is vain! Dim thoughts of THEE across my bosom steal,
And still, the louder mirth around, the lonelier I feel;
Yea, even that should make me proud, the laurel wreath of Fame
But brings me back our early days, and the echo of thy name;
But brings me back thy cheerful smile, when yet a careless boy,
Mine was the toil, but thou didst share the glory and the joy;
And bright across the awarded prize thy kind eye answer'd mine,
As full of triumph and delight as though that prize were thine.
Yes! all is vain! I want not Wit, I want not Learning's power,
I want THY hand, I want THY smile to pass the cheerless hour;
I want thy earnest, honest voice, whose comfort never fail'd;
I want thy kindly glance, whose light no coldness ever veil'd;
I feel at every turn of life thy loss hath left me lone,
And I mourn the friend of boyhood's years, the friend for ever gone!
IT is the twilight hour,
The daylight toil is done,
And the last rays are departing
Of the cold and wintry sun.
It is the time when Friendship
Holds converse fair and free,
It is the time when children
Dance round the mother's knee.
But my soul is faint and heavy,
With a yearning sad and deep,
By the fireside lone and dreary
I sit me down and weep!
Where are ye, merry voices,
Whose clear and bird-like tone,
Some other ear now blesses,
Less anxious than my own?
Where are ye, steps of lightness,
Which fell like blossom-showers?
Where are ye, sounds of laughter,
That cheer'd the pleasant hours?
Thro' the dim light slow declining,
Where my wistful glances fall,
I can see your pictures hanging
Against the silent wall;--
They gleam athwart the darkness,
With their sweet and changeless eyes,
But mute are ye, my children!
No voice to mine replies.
Where are ye? Are ye playing
By the stranger's blazing hearth;
Forgetting in your gladness,
Your old home's former mirth?
Are ye dancing? Are ye singing?
Are ye full of childish glee?
Or do your light hearts sadden
With the memory of me?
Round whom, oh! gentle darlings,
Do your young arms fondly twine,
Does she press you to her bosom
Who hath taken you from mine?
Oh! boys, the twilight hour
Such a heavy time hath grown,--
It recalls with such deep anguish
All I used to call my own,--
That the harshest word that ever
Was spoken to me there,
Would be trivial--would be welcome--
In the depth of my despair!
Yet no! Despair shall sink not,
While Life and Love remain,--
Tho' the weary struggle haunt me,
And my prayer be made in vain:
Tho' at times my spirit fail me,
And the bitter tear-drops fall,
Tho' my lot be hard and lonely,
Yet I hope--I hope thro' all!
When the mournful Jewish mother
Laid her infant down to rest,
In doubt, and fear, and sorrow,
On the water's changeful breast;
She knew not what the future
Should bring the sorely-tried:
That the High Priest of her nation,
Was the babe she sought to hide.
No! in terror wildly flying,
She hurried on her path;
Her swoln heart full to bursting
Of woman's helpless wrath;
Of that wrath so blent with anguish,
When we seek to shield from ill
Those feeble little creatures
Who seem more helpless still!
Ah! no doubt, in such an hour,
Her thoughts were harsh and wild;
The fiercer burned her spirit,
The more she loved her child;
No doubt, a frenzied anger
Was mingled with her fear,
When that prayer arose for justice
Which God hath sworn to hear.
He heard it! From His Heaven,
In its blue and boundless scope,
He saw that task of anguish,
And that fragile ark of hope;
When she turn'd from that lost infant,
Her weeping eyes of love,
And the cold reeds bent beneath it--
His angels watch'd above!
She was spared the bitter sorrow
Of her young child's early death,
Or the doubt where he was carried
To draw his distant breath;
She was call'd his life to nourish
From the well-springs of her heart,
God's mercy re-uniting
Those whom man had forced apart!
Nor was thy woe forgotten,
Whose worn and weary feet
Were driven from thy homestead,
Through the red sand's parching heat;
Poor Hagar! scorn'd and banish'd,
That another's son might be
Sole claimant on that father,
Who felt no more for thee.
Ah! when thy dark eye wander'd,
Forlorn Egyptian slave!
Across that lurid desert,
And saw no fountain wave,--
When thy southern heart, despairing,
In the passion of its grief,
Foresaw no ray of comfort,
No shadow of relief;
But to cast the young child from thee,
That thou might'st not see him die,
How sank thy broken spirit--
But the Lord of Hosts was nigh!
He (He, too oft-forgotten,
In sorrow as in joy)
Had will'd they should not perish--
The outcast and her boy:
The cool breeze swept across them
From the angel's waving wing,--
The fresh tide gush'd in brightness
From the fountain's living spring,--
And they stood--those two--forsaken
By all earthly love or aid,
Upheld by God's firm promise,
Serene and undismay'd!
And thou, Nain's grieving widow!
Whose task of life seem'd done,
When the pale corse lay before thee
Of thy dear and only son;
Though Death, that fearful shadow,
Had veil'd his fair young eyes,
There was mercy for thy weeping,
There was pity for thy sighs!
The gentle voice of Jesus,
(Who the touch of sorrow knew)
The grave's cold claim arrested
E'er it hid him from thy view;
And those loving orbs re-open'd
And knew thy mournful face,--
And the stiff limbs warm'd and bent them
With all life's moving grace,--
And his senses dawn'd and waken'd
From the dark and frozen spell,
Which death had cast around him
Whom thou did'st love so well;
Till, like one return'd from exile
To his former home of rest,
Who speaks not, while his mother
Falls sobbing on his breast;
But with strange bewilder'd glances
Looks round on objects near,
To recognise and welcome
All that memory held dear,--
Thy young son stood before thee
All living and restored,
And they who saw the wonder
Knelt down to praise the Lord!
The twilight hour is over!
In busier homes than mine
I can see the shadows crossing
Athwart the taper's shine;
I hear the roll of chariots
And the tread of homeward feet,
And the lamps' long rows of splendor
Gleam through the misty street.
No more I mark the objects
In my cold and cheerless room;
The fire's unheeded embers
Have sunk--and all is gloom;
But I know where hang your pictures
Against the silent wall,
And my eyes turn sadly towards them,
Tho' I hope--I hope thro' all.
By the summons to that mother,
Whose fondness fate beguiled,
When the tyrant's gentle daughter
Saved her river-floating child;--
By the sudden joy which bounded
In the banish'd Hagar's heart,
When she saw the gushing fountain
From the sandy desert start;--
By the living smile which greeted
The lonely one of Nain,
When her long last watch was over
And her hope seem'd wild and vain;--
By all the tender mercy
God hath shown to human grief,
When fate or man's perverseness
Denied and barr'd relief,--
By the helpless woe which taught me
To look to him alone,
From the vain appeals for justice
And wild efforts of my own,--
By thy light--thou unseen future,
And thy tears--thou bitter past,
I will hope--tho' all forsake me,
In His mercy to the last!
The Rock Of The Betrayed
IT was a Highland chieftain's son
Gazed sadly from the hill:
And they saw him shrink from the autumn wind,
As its blast came keen and chill.
His stately mother saw,--and spoke
With the heartless voice of pride;
''T is well I have a stouter son
The border wars to ride.'
His jealous brother saw, and stood,
Red-hair'd, and fierce, and tall,
Muttering low words of fiendish hope
To be the lord of all.
But sickly Allan heard them not,
As he look'd o'er land and lea;
He was thinking of the sunny climes
That lie beyond the sea.
He was thinking of the native land
Whose breeze he could not bear;
Whose wild free beauty he must leave,
To breathe a warmer air.
He was dreaming of his childhood's haunts,
And his grey-hair'd father's praise;
And the chance of death which hung so near
And darken'd his young days.
So he turn'd, and bade them both farewell,
With a calm and mournful smile;
And he spoke of dwelling far away,
But only for a while.
And if a pang of bitter grief
Shot wildly through his heart,
No man heard Allan Douglas sigh,
Nor saw the tear-drop start:
For he left in Scotland none who cared
If e'er he should return,
In castle hall, or cottage low,
By river or by burn.
Only upon the heather brae
His quivering lip he press'd;
And clasp'd the senseless birchen tree,
And strain'd it to his breast;
Because the human heart is full
Of love that must be given,
However check'd, estranged, and chill'd,
To something under Heaven.
And these things had been friends to him
Thro' a life of lonely hours--
The blue lake, and the waving birch,
And the low broom's scented flowers.
Twice had the snow been on the hills,
And twice the soft spring rain,
When Allan Douglas bent his way
To his native land again.
More healthful glow'd his hollow cheek,
His step was firm and free,
And he brought a fair Italian girl
His bonny bride to be.
But darkly sneer'd his brother cold,
When he saw that maiden fair,
'Is a foreign minion come to wed
The Highland chieftain's heir?'
And darkly gloom'd the mother's brow
As she said, 'Am I so old,
That a stranger must so soon come here
The castle keys to hold?'
Then spoke the young Italian girl
With a sweet and modest grace,
As she lifted upi her soft black eyes
And look'd them in the face:
'A stranger and an orphan comes
To Allan's native land,
And she needs the mother's welcome smile,
And the brother's friendly hand.
'Be thine! oh, stately lady--thine--
The rule that thou dost crave,
For Allan's love is all I earn'd,
And all I seek to have.
'And trust me, brother, tho' my words
In foreign accents fall,
The heart is of no country born,
And my heart will love you all.'
But vain the music of her tongue
Against the hate they bore;
And when a babe her love had bless'd
They hated her the more.
They hated her the more because
That babe must be the heir,
And his dark and lovely eyes at times
His mother's look would wear.
But lo! the keen cold winter came
With many a bitter blast:
It pierced thro' sickly Allan's frame,--
He droop'd and died at last!
Oh! mournfully at early morn
That young wife sat and wept,--
And mournfully, when day was done,
To her widow'd couch she crept,--
And mournfully at noon she rock'd
The baby on her knee;
'There is no pity in their hearts,
My child, for thee and me.
'There was no pity in their hearts
For him who is at rest:
How should they feel for his young son
Who slumbers at my breast?'
The red-hair'd brother saw her tears,
And said, 'Nay, cease thy moan--
Come forth into the morning air,
And weep. no more alone!'
The proud stepmother chid her woe;--
'Even for thy infant's sake
Go forth into the morning air,
And sail upon the lake!'
There seem'd some feeling for her state;
Their words were fair and mild;
Yet she shudder'd as she whisper'd low,
'God shield me and my child!'
'Come!' said dead Allan's brother stern,
'Why dost thou tremble so?
'Come!'--and with doubt and fear perplex'd,
The lady rose to go.
They glided over the glassy lake,
'Till its lulling murmur smote,
With a death-like omen, to and fro',
Against the heaving boat.
And no one spoke;--that brother still
His face averted kept,
And the lady's tears fell fast and free
O'er her infant as it slept.
The cold faint evening breeze sprang up
And found them floating on;
They glided o'er the glassy lake
Till the day's last streak was gone--
Till the day's last streak had died away
From the chill and purple strand,
And a mist was on the water's face
And a damp dew on the land;
Till you could not trace the living hue
Of lip, or cheek, or eye,
But the outline of each countenance
Drawn dark against the sky.
And all things had a ghastly look,
An aspect strange and drear;--
The lady look'd to the distant shore
And her heart beat wild with fear.
There is a rock whose jutting height
Stands frowning o'er that lake,
Where the faintest call of the bugle horn
The echo's voice will wake:--
And there the water lifts no wave
To the breeze, so fresh and cool,
But lies within the dark rock's curve,
Like a black and gloomy pool.
Its depth is great,--a stone thrown in
Hath a dull descending sound,
The plummet hath not there been cast
Which resting-place hath found.
And scatter'd firs and birch-trees grow
On the summit, here and there--
Lonely and joylessly they wave,
Like an old man's thin grey hair.
But not to nature's hand it owes
Its mournfulness alone,
For vague tradition gives the spot
A horror of its own.
The boatman doffs his cap beneath
Its dark o'er-hanging shade,
And whispers low its Gaelic name,--
'THE ROCK OF THF BETRAY'D.'
And when the wind, which never curls
That pool, goes sweeping by,
Bending the firs and birchen trees
With a low and moaning sigh,--
He'll tell you that the sound which comes
So strange, and faint, and dim,
Is only heard at one set hour,
And call'd 'THE LADY'S HYMN.'
THERE was a lady, who had early wed
One whom she saw and lov'd in her bright youth,
When life was yet untried--and when he said
He, too, lov'd her, he spoke no more than truth;
He lov'd as well as baser natures can,--
But a mean heart and soul were in that man.
And they dwelt happily, if happy be
Not with harsh words to breed unnatural strife:
The cold world's Argus-watching failed to see
The flaw that dimm'd the lustre of their life;
Save that he seem'd tyrannical, tho' gay,
Restless and selfish in his love of sway.
The calm of conscious power was not in him;
But rather, struggling into broader light,
The secret sense, they feel, however dim,
Whose chance position gives a sort of right
(As from the height of a prescriptive throne,)
To govern natures nobler than their own.
And as her youth waned slowly on, there fell
A nameless shadow on that lady's heart;
And those she lov'd the best (and she lov'd well),
Had of her confidence nor share, nor part;
Her thoughts lay folded from Life's lessening light,
Like the sweet flowers which close themselves at night.
And men began to whisper evil things
Against the honour of her wedded mate;
That which had pass'd for youth's wild wanderings,
Showed more suspicious in his settled state;
Until at length,--he stood, at some chance game,
Discover'd,--branded with a Cheater's name.
Out, and away he slunk, with felon air;
Then, calling to him one who was his friend,
Bid him to that unblemish'd wife repair
And tell her what had chanced, and what the end;
How they must leave the country of their birth,
And hide,--in some more distant spot of earth.
It was a coward's thought: he could not bear
Himself to be narrator of his shame;
He that had trampled oft, now felt in fear
Of her who still must keep his blighted name,--
And shrank in fancy from that steadfast eye,
The window to a soul so pure and high.
She heard it. O'er her brow there pass'd a flush
Of sunset red; and then so white a hue,
So deadly pale, it seem'd as if no blush
Through that transparent cheek should shine anew;
As if the blood had frozen in that hour,
And her check'd pulse for ever lost its power.
And twice and once did she essay to speak;
And with a gesture almost of command,
(Though in its motion it was deadly weak)
She faintly lifted up her graceful hand:--
But then her soul came back to her, strength woke,
And with a low but even voice, she spoke:
'Go! say to him who dream'd of other chance,
That HERE none sit in judgment on his sin;
That to his door the world's scorn may advance,
And cloud his path, but doth not enter in.
Here dwell his Own: to share, to soothe disgrace;'--
Which having said, she cover'd up her face,
And, as he left her, sank in bitter prayer,--
If prayer that may be term'd which comes to all,
That sudden gushing of our vain despair,
When none but God can hear or heed our call;
And the wreck'd soul feels, in its helpless hour,
Where only dwells full mercy with full power.
And he came home, a crush'd and humbled wretch;
Whom when she saw, she but this comfort found,
In her kind arms that shrinking form to catch,
Which tenderly about his neck she wound,
As in the first proud days of love and trust,
E'er yet his reckless head was bow'd in dust!
And they departed to a distant shore;
But wheresoe'er they dwelt, however lone,
Shame, like a marble statue at his door,
Flung her 'thwart shadow o'er his threshold stone;
Still darken'd all their daylight hours, and kept
Cold watch above them even while they slept.
And there was no more love between those two!
It died not in the shock of that dark hour--
Such shocks destroy not love, whose purple hue
Fades rather, like some autumn-wither'd flower,
Which day by day along the ruin'd walk
We see--then miss it from the sapless stalk;
And, while it fadeth, oft with gentle hand
Doth memory turn to life's dark journal-book;
And, passing foul misdeeds, intently stand
On its first page of glorious hope to look;
Weeping she reads,--and, seeing all so fair,
Pleads hard for what we are, by what we were!
So through that hour love lived; and, though in part
'Twas one of most unutterable pain,
It had its sweetness too, and told her heart
All she could do, and all she could sustain;
The holy love of woman buoy'd her up,
And God gave strength to drink the bitter cup.
But when, as days crept on, she saw him still
Less grateful than abash'd beneath her eye,
And studying not how best to banish ill,
But what he might conceal and what deny,
Her soul revolted, and conceived a scorn,
Sinful and harsh, although of virtue born.
And oft she pray'd, with earnestness and pain,
That heaven would bid that proud contempt depart,
And wept to find the prayer and effort vain,
Though it was breathed in agony of heart--
Vain as the murmur of 'Thy will be done,'
Breathed by the death-bed of an only son!
For when her children err'd (as children will)
A sickening terror smote her heart with fears,
And scarce she measured the degree of ill,
Or made indulgence for their tender years;
They were HIS children; and the chance of shame
Kept watch for those who bore that father's name.
And, thinking thus, reproof would take a tone
So strangely passionate, severe, and wild--
So deeply alter'd,--so unlike her own,--
It stung and terrified her startled child,
Whose innate sense of justice seem'd to show
Him over-chidden, being chidden so.
And then a gush of mother's love would swell
Her grieving heart,--and she would fondly press
The young offending head she loved so well
Close to her own, with many a soft caress,
Whose reconciling sweetness all in vain
Stopp'd her boy's tears, while her's ran down like rain.
The world (which still pronounces from the show
Of outward things) whisper'd and talk'd of this;
Erring and obstinate, its crowds ne'er know
How much in judging they may judge amiss,
Or how much agony and broken peace
May lie beneath the seeming of caprice!
But he, her husband (for he was not dull),
Saw through these workings of a troubled mind,
And, that her cup of sorrow might be full,
He taunted her with words and looks unkind,
Which with a patient bowing of the heart
She took--like one resolved to do her part.
And years stole on (for years go by like days,
Leaving but scatter'd hours to mark their course),
And brightness faded from that lady's gaze,
And her cheek hollow'd, and her step lost force,
Till it was plain to even a careless eye
That she was doom'd, before her time, to die.
She died, as she had lived, her secret soul
Shut from the sweet communion of true friends;
Her words, though not her thoughts, she could control,
And still with calm respect his name she blends:
They all stood round her whom she call'd her Own,
And saw her die--yet was that death-bed lone!
But in its darkest hour her thoughts were stirr'd,
And something falter'd from her dying tongue,
Mournful and tender--half pronounced, half heard--
For which he was too base--his boys too young;
So whatso'er the warning faintly given,
It lay between her parting soul and Heaven.
He wept for her--ah! who would not have wept
To see that worn face in its pallid shroud,
Proving how much she suffer'd ere she slept
At peace for ever! Violent and loud
Was the outbreaking of his sudden grief,
And, like all feelings in that heart, 'twas brief.
And something strange pass'd o'er his soul instead,
When thinking upon her whom he had lost,
Almost like a relief that she was dead:--
She, whose high nature scorn'd his fault the most,
And show'd it least,--had vanish'd from the earth,
And none could check his sin, or shame his mirth.
So he return'd to many an evil way,
Like one who strays when guiding light is gone;
And mid the profligate, miscall'd 'the gay,'
Crept to a slippery place--his tale half known--
Ill look'd on, yet endured--the useful tool
Of every bolder knave, or richer fool.
And his two sons in careless beauty grew,
Like wild-flowers in his path: he mark'd them not,
Nor reck'd he what they needed, learnt, or knew,
Or what might be on earth their future lot;
But they died young--which is a thought of rest!
Unscorn'd, untempted, undefiled--so best.
Recollections Of A Faded Beauty
AH! I remember when I was a girl
How my hair naturally used to curl,
And how my aunt four yards of net would pucker,
And call the odious thing, 'Diana's tucker.'
I hated it, because although, you see,
It did for her, it didn't do for me.
(Popkins said I should wear a low corsage,
But this I know was merely badinage.)
I recollect the gaieties of old--
Ices when hot, and punch when we were cold!
Race-balls, and county-balls, and balls where you,
For seven shillings, got dance and supper too.
Oh! I remember all the routs and plays--
'But words are idle,' as Lord Byron says;
And so am I, and therefore can spare time,
To put my recollections into rhyme.
I recollect the man who did declare
When I was at the fair, myself was fair:
(I had it in my album for three years,
And often looked, and shed delicious tears.)
I didn't fall in love, however, then,
Because I never saw that man again.
And I remember Popkins--ah! too well!
And all who once in love with Chloë fell.
They called me Chloë for they said my grace
Was nymph-like; as was also half my face.
My mouth was wide, but then I had a smile
Which might a demon of its tears beguile.--
As Captain Popkins said, or rather swore,
He liked me, (ah! my Popkins!) all the more.
He couldn't bear a little mouth, for when
It laughed, 'twas like a long slit in a pen;
Or button-hole stretched on too big a button;
Or little cut for gravy in boiled mutton.
(Popkins was clever)--but I must proceed
More regularly, that my friends may read.
I didn't marry, for I couldn't get
A man I liked; I havn't got one yet;
But I had handsome lovers by the score:
Alas! alas! I always sighed for more.
First came young Minton, of the ninth Hussars,
His eyes were bright and twinkling as the stars.
There was, indeed, a little little cast,
But he assured me that it would not last;
And only came, when he, one cold bivouac,
Gazed on the foe, and could not turn it back--
The chill was so intense! Poor Minton, I
Really did think he certainly would die.
He gave me of himself a little print;
The painter did not see or heed the squint.
Squint it was not--but one eye sought the other
With tenderness, as 'twere a young twin brother.
He gave it, and he sighed: oh! often after
The memory of that sigh hath chill'd my laughter.
I'm sure I might have married him, but then
I never did enough encourage men:
And somehow he made love to Anna Budge;
I never owed the ugly minx a grudge,
Though, God knows, she was cross and plain enough.
The things he us'd to say to her--such stuff!
Then came young Frederic Mortimer de Veaux:
A cruel, faithless wretch, that work'd me woe.
But such a man! so tall, so straight--he took
A lady's heart away at every look.
Such a hooked nose, such loads of curly hair--
Such a pale, wild, intense, Byronic air;
And his whole soul, (as he himself has said,)
'Wandering about among the mighty dead.'
He had read books, and rather liked to show it,
And always spoke like an inspired poet.
Last time we met, my heart prophetic drew
A mournful omen from his wild adieu:
I wrote it down, when he had closed the door.
All I remembered--would it had been more!--
'Allah hu! shall I ever behold thee again,
Sweet cause of my transport--dear cause of my pain?
Al, hamdu il Illah! what place can be fair,
My Rose of the Desert, if thou art not there?
Yet I go--for stern duty compels me to do so--
From the world where my heart is, like far-banished Crusoe.
Gul's gardens invite me, but Fate says, depart,
Bismillah! farewell, young Haidee of my heart!'
Was it not beautiful? it was--ah, me!--
Who would have thought such lips could traitors be?
Who could have thought, who saw his bright eye burn,
He spoke--intending never to return?
Then Mr. Humley asked aunt's leave to wed,
And winked, and asked if love was in my head,
Or heart; and then proceeding things to settle,
(Helping my aunt the while to lift the kettle,)--
Said, 'you shall have a cozy home, my dear,
And fifty pounds (to buy you clothes) a year.
And we must get your aunt, or some kind fairy
To teach you how to churn and mind the dairy.'
'A cozy home!' why, did one ever hear
Of such a man? and, to call me 'my dear:'
Me--I was Frederick Mortimer's heart's Haidee;
Young Minton's star of hope and gladness--me!
But I refused him; though my aunt did say
'That it was an advantage thrown away;'--
(He an advantage!)--'that she'd make me rue it--
Make me a nun--' I'd like to see her do it!
Down, down, rebellious heart! I am a nun,
At least, the same as if I had been one.
I do repent I thought myself too comely;
I do repent I am not Mrs. Humley!
Then, cold and cautious, came young Archy Campbell.
Full many a sunset walk, and pleasant ramble,
I took with him; but I grew weary soon,
Because, instead of turning from the moon
To gaze on me, he bade me look with him,
And wondered when her light would grow more dim,
And the world fade away. I should have tired
Before our honey-moon had half expired.
Oh! loved when first I met thee, and for ever,
Thou, from whom cold caprice hath made me sever--
Where art thou, Popkins?--Captain Popkins! oh!
Dear recollection and delicious woe!
Most generous, most genteel. Oh! thou, alas!
'Of the best class, and better than thy class,'
Where art thou? Ah! it matters not to me;
By Chloë's side thou never more shalt be!
How sweetly didst thou sing 'Those Evening Bells'--
Still the dear echo in my bosom swells:
How gaily didst thou dance, how clearly whistle!
How neatly fold each elegant epistle!
How thin thy pumps were, and how bright thy boot,
('Twas that brought 'Warren's blacking' in repute.)
How nameless was thy majesty of form,
Making each man look like a wriggling worm,
That dared beside thy shoulders' broad expanse
To venture his lank shape. By what sweet chance
Did all, that would have been defects in others,
(Whom yet you deemed your fellow-men and brothers,)
Turn to perfection when beheld in you;
Tho' short, yet graceful; fat, but active too!
He wrote, adored, proposed--but some curst power
Bade me nip off his young Hope's budding flower:
I did not even answer that sweet letter,
Because I thought, perhaps, I'd get a better.
Oh! Chloë, tear thy hair, and beat thy breast;
How couldst thou get a better than the best?
'Tis over now--the agony, despair,
With which I beat that breast, and tore that hair;
When one unmeaning note of cold adieu,
Mixed with reproach, was all my silence drew.
Gone, and for ever!--I could scarce believe it:
Surely he wrote, and I did not receive it!
Vain hope! he went--he was my heart's one love;
All other men, all other loves, above.
I would have married him without a penny,
Each lover after him was one too many!
There was a certain Irishman, indeed,
Who borrowed Cupid's darts to make me bleed.
My aunt said he was vulgar; he was poor,
And his boots creaked, and dirtied her smooth floor.
She hated him; and when he went away,
He wrote--I have the verses to this day:--
Wirasthru! then, my beautiful jewel,
I'm quite tired out of my life.
I can't fight with Fortune a duel,
I cannot have you for a wife.
The beauties of nature adorning
No longer afford me delight:
In the night, och! I wish it were morning,
In the morning I wish it were night!
For your aunt, she has writ me a letter,
(Och, den, she's a sad dirty rogue!)
Does she think other men love you better,
Becase I've a bit of the brogue?
In regard to the fighting and swearing,
Sure, jewel, it's all for the best;
Just to drown all the grumbling and tearing,
That gives my poor stomach no rest.
Small work I've had late at the carvin',
Less than none I can't have, any how;
And ye wouldn't deny, when he's starvin',
Your Danny a bit of a row?
Then, good night to you, love, or good morrow;
Sure, it's all just the same which I say,
For the differ is small, to my sorrow,
When one gets neither breakfast, nor tay!
Now was this vulgar, which was'said or sung?'
Or but the ling'ring of his native tongue
In ears which thought it music; being such
As he had known in childhood's early years,
What time we suffer little, and hope much;
And oft turn back to gaze upon with tears!
I liked him, and I liked his verses; but
In some vile squabble, as to where he put
His walking-stick, and whether sticks were stronger
For being cut on Irish ground, or longer,
He lost his life; and I my last real love:
For though a few still round me used to rove,
Whether they had not half his sense and merit--
I never have loved since with any spirit!
The Child Of The Islands - Conclusion
MY lay is ended! closed the circling year,
From Spring's first dawn to Winter's darkling night;
The moan of sorrow, and the sigh of fear,
The ringing chords of triumph and delight
Have died away,--oh, child of beauty bright,--
And all unconscious of my song art thou:
With large blue eyes of Majesty and might,
And red full lips, and fair capacious brow,
No Leader of the World,--but Life's Beginner, now!
Oh, tender human blossom, thou art fair,
With such a beauty as the eye perceives
Watching a bud of promise rich and rare
In the home-shadow of surrounding leaves.
THOUGHT, the great Dream-bringer, who joys and grieves
Over the visions of her own creating,
Resting by Thee, a sigh of pleasure heaves;
The fever of her rapid flight abating
Amid the golden hopes around thy cradle waiting.
Thou--thou, at least, art happy! For thy sake
Heaven speaks reversal of the doom of pain,
Set on our Nature when the Demon-Snake
Hissed the first lie, a woman's ear to gain,
And Eden was lamented for in vain!
THOU art not meant, like other men, to thirst
For benefits no effort can attain:
To struggle on, by Hope's deceiving nurst,
And linger still the last, where thou wouldst fain be first.
The royal canopy above thy head
Shall charm away the griefs that others know:--
Oh! mocking dream! Thy feet Life's path must tread:
The Just God made not Happiness to grow
Out of condition: fair the field-flowers blow,
Fair as the richer flowers of garden ground;
And far more equally are joy and woe
Divided,--than they dream, who, gazing round,
See but that narrow plot, their own life's selfish bound.
True,--in thy Childhood's Spring thou shalt not taste
The bitter toil of factory or mine:
Nor the Strong Summer of thy manhood waste
In labour vain, and want that bids thee pine:
The mellow Autumn of thy calm decline--
The sheltered Winter of thy happy Age--
Shall see home-faces still around thee shine--
No Workhouse threatening, where the heart's sick rage
Mopes like a prisoned bird within a cheerless cage.
True, that, instead of all this weary grief,
This cutting off what joy our life affords,
This endless pining for denied relief,
All Luxury shall hail thee! music's chords
Shall woo thee,--and sweet utterance of words
In Minstrel singing: Painting shall beguile
Thine eye with mimic battles, dark with swords,--
Green sylvan landscapes,--beauty's imaged smile,--
And books thy leisure hours from worldly cares shall wile.
There ends the sum of thy Life's holiday!
WANT shall not enter near thee,--PLEASURE shall:
But Pomp hath wailed when Poverty looked gay,
And SORROW claims an equal tax from all:
Tears have been known from Royal eyes to fall
When harvest-trudging clowns went singing by:
Sobs have woke echoes in the gilded hall:
And, by that pledge of thine Equality,
Men hail thee BROTHER still, though thou art set so high.
DEATH, too, who heeds not poorer men's regret,
Neither is subject to the will of Kings;
All Thrones, all Empires of the Earth are set
Under the vaulted shadow of his wings:
He blights our Summers, chills our fairest springs,
Nips the fresh bloom of some uncertain flower,
Yea, where the fragile tendril closest clings,
There doth his gaunt hand pluck, with sudden power,
Leaving green burial-mounds, where stood Affection's bower.
Where is young Orleans? that fair Prince of France,
Who 'scaped a thousand threatening destinies
Only to perish by a vulgar chance?
Lost is the light of the most lovely eyes
That ever imaged back the summer skies!
Widowed the hapless Wife, who seeks to train
Childhood's frail thread of broken memories,
So that her Orphan may at least retain
The haunting shadow of a Father's face,--in vain!
Oh! Summer flowers, which happy children cull,
How were ye stained that year by bitter weeping,
When he, the stately and the beautiful,
Wrapped in his dismal shroud lay coldly sleeping!
The warm breeze through the rustling woods went creeping,
The birds with gladdening notes sang overhead:
The peasant groups went laughing to their reaping,
But, in the gorgeous Palace, rose instead,
Sobs,--and lamenting Hymns,--and Masses for the Dead!
Where, too, is She, the loved and lately wived,
The fair-haired Daughter of an Emperor,
Born in the time of roses, and who lived
A rose's life; one Spring, one Summer more,
Dating from Girlhood's blushing days of yore,--
Fading in Autumn,--lost in Winter's gloom,--
And with the opening year beheld no more?
She and her babe lie buried in the tomb,
The green bud on the stem,--both withered in the bloom!
Then, RUSSIA wept! Then, bowing to the dust
That brow whereon proud Majesty and Grace
Are chiselled as in some ideal bust,--
All vain appeared his power, his realm's wide space,
And the high blood of his imperial race!
He sank,--a grieving man,--a helpless Sire,--
Who could not call back to a pale sweet face
By might of rule, or Love's intense desire,
The light that quivering sank, in darkness to expire.
Where is the angel sent as Belgium's heir?
Renewing hopes so linked with bitter fears,
When our own Charlotte perished young and fair,--
The former love of long departed years!
That little One is gone from earth's cold tears
To smile in Heaven's clear sunshine with the Blest,
And in his stead another bud appears.
But when his gentle head was laid to rest,
Came there not boding dreams to sting his Father's breast?
Of Claremont? of that dark December night,
When, pale with weary vigils vainly kept,--
Crushed by the destiny that looked so bright,--
Dark-browed and beautiful, he stood and wept
By one who heard him not, but dumbly slept!
By one who loved him so, that evermore
Her young heart with a fervent welcome leapt
To greet his presence! But those pangs are o'er,
And Heaven in mercy keeps more smiling days in store.
God hath built up a bridge 'twixt man and man,
Which mortal strength can never overthrow;
Over the world it stretches its dark span,--
The keystone of that mighty arch is WOE!
Joy's rainbow glories visit earth, and go,
Melting away to Heaven's far-distant land;
But Grief's foundations have been fixed below:
PLEASURE divides us:--the Divine command
Hath made of SORROW'S links a firm connecting band.
In the clear morning, when I rose from sleep,
And left my threshold for the fresh'ning breeze,
There I beheld a grieving woman weep;
The shadow of a child was on her knees,
The worn heir of her many miseries:
'Save him!' was written in her suppliant glance:
But I was weaker than its fell disease,
And ere towards noon the Dial could advance
Death indeed saved her babe from Life's most desperate chance.
The sunset of that day,--in splendid halls--
Mourning a little child of Ducal race
(How fair the picture Memory recalls!)
I saw the sweetest and the palest face
That ever wore the stamp of Beauty's grace,
Bowed like a white rose beat by storms and rain,
And on her countenance my eyes could trace,
And on her soft cheek, marked with tearful stain,
That she had prayed through many a midnight watch in vain.
In both those different homes the babe was dead:
Life's early morning closed in sudden night:
In both, the bitter tears were freely shed,
Lips pressed on lids for ever closed from light,
And prayers sobbed forth to God the Infinite.
From both, the little one was borne away
And buried in the earth with solemn rite.
One, in a mound where no stone marked the clay,
One, in a vaulted tomb, with funeral array.
It was the last distinction of their lot!
The same dull earth received their mortal mould:
The same high consecration marked the spot
A Christian burying-place, for young and old:
The same clear stars shone out all calmly cold
When on those graves the sunset hour grew dim:
And the same God in glory they behold,--
For Life's diverging roads all lead to Him
Who sits enthroned in light among the Cherubim!
None could revoke the weeping Beggar's loss,--
None could restore that lovely Lady's child,--
Else untold sums had been accounted dross
To buy, for one, the life that moved and smiled:
Else had my heart, by false regret beguiled,
Recalled the other from his blest abode:
One only power was left by Mercy mild,
Leave to give alms,--which gladly I bestowed
Where the lone tears had fall'n, half freezing while they flowed.
Beautiful Royal Child, that art to me
Only the sculptured image of a thought:
A type of this world's rank and luxury
Through whom the Poet's lesson may be taught:
The deeds which are by this world's mercy wrought,
Lie in the compass of a narrow bound;
Our Life's ability,--which is as nought,--
Our Life's duration,--which is but a sound,--
And then an echo, heard still faintly lingering round!
The sound being sweet, the echo follows it;
And noble deeds should hallow noble names:
The very Ancestry that points a right
To all the old hereditary claims,
With a true moral worldly triumph tames.
What vanity Earth's riches to amass,--
What folly to incur its thousand shames,--
When bubble generations rise and pass,
So swiftly, by the sand in Time's returning glass!
Pilgrims that journey for a certain time--
Weak Birds of Passage crossing stormy seas
To reach a better and a brighter clime--
We find our parallels and types in these!
Meanwhile since Death, and Sorrow, and Disease,
Bid helpless hearts a barren pity feel;
Why, to the POOR, should checked compassion freeze?
BROTHERS, be gentle to that ONE appeal,--
WANT is the only woe God gives you power to heal!
The Lady Of La Garaye - Part Iii
NEVER again! When first that sentence fell
From lips so loth the bitter truth to tell,
Death seemed the balance of its burdening care,
The only end of such a strange despair.
To live deformed; enfeebled; still to sigh
Through changeless days that o'er the heart go by
Colourless,--formless,--melting as they go
Into a dull and unrecorded woe,--
Why strive for gladness in such dreary shade?
Why seek to feel less cheerless, less afraid?
What recks a little more or less of gloom,
When a continual darkness is our doom?
But custom, which, to unused eyes that dwell
Long in the blankness of a prison cell,
At length shows glimmerings through some ruined hole,--
Trains to endurance the imprisoned soul;
And teaching how with deepest gloom to cope,
Bids patience light her lamp, when sets the sun of hope.
And e'en like one who sinks to brief repose
Cumbered with mournfulness from many woes;
Who, restless dreaming, full of horror sleeps,
And with a worse than waking anguish weeps,
Till in his dream some precipice appear
Which he must face, however great his fear:
Who stepping on those rocks, then feels them break
Beneath him,--and, with shrieks, leaps up awake;
And seeing but the grey unwelcome morn,
And feeling but the usual sense forlorn,
Of loss and dull remembrance of known grief,
Melts into tears that partly bring relief,
Because, though misery holds him, yet his dreams
More dreadful were than all around him seems:--
So, in the life grown real of loss and woe,
She woke to crippled days; which, sad and slow
And infinitely weary as they were,
At first, appeared less hard than fancy deemed, to bear.
But as those days rolled on, of grinding pain,
Of wild untamed regrets, and yearnings vain,
Sad Gertrude grew to weep with restless tears
For all the vanished joys of blighted years.
And most she mourned with feverish piteous pining,
When o'er the land the summer sun was shining;
And all the volumes and the missals rare,
Which Claud had gathered with a tender care,
Seemed nothing to the book of nature, spread
Around her helpless feet and weary head.
Oh! woodland paths she ne'er again may see,
Oh! tossing branches of the forest tree,
Oh! loveliest banks in all the land of France,
Glassing your shadows in the silvery Rance;
Oh! river with your swift yet quiet tide,
Specked with white sails that seem in dreams to glide;
Oh! ruddy orchards, basking on the hills,
Whose plenteous fruit the thirsty flagon fills;
And oh! ye winds, which, free and unconfined,
No sickness poisons, and no heart can bind,--
Restore her to enjoyment of the earth!
Echo again her songs of careless mirth,
Those little Breton songs so wildly sweet,
Fragments of music strange and incomplete,
Her small red mouth went warbling by the way
Through the glad roamings of her active day.
It may not be! Blighted are summer hours!
The bee goes booming through the plats of flowers,
The butterfly its tiny mate pursues
With rapid fluttering of its painted hues,
The thin-winged gnats their transient time employ
Reeling through sunbeams in a dance of joy,
The small field-mouse with wide transparent ears
Comes softly forth, and softly disappears,
The dragon-fly hangs glittering on the reed,
The spider swings across his filmy thread,
And gleaming fishes, darting to and fro,
Make restless silver in the pools below.
All these poor lives--these lives of small account,
Feel the ethereal thrill within them mount;
But the great human life,--the life Divine,--
Rests in dull torture, heavy and supine,
And the bird's song, by Garaye's walls of stone,
Crosses, within, the irrepressible moan!
The slow salt tears, half weakness and half grief,
That sting the eyes before they bring relief,
And which with weary lids she strives in vain
To prison back upon her aching brain,
Fall down the lady's cheek,--her heart is breaking:
A mournful sleep is hers; a hopeless waking;
And oft, in spite of Claud's beloved rebuke,
When first the awful wish her spirit shook,--
She dreams of DEATH,--and of that quiet shore
In the far world where eyes shall weep no more,
And where the soundless feet of angels pass,
With floating lightness o'er the sea of glass.
Nor is she sole in gloom. Claud too hath lost
His power to soothe her,--all his thoughts are tost
As in a storm of sadness: shall he speak
To her, who lies so faint, and lone, and weak,
Of pleasant walks and rides? or yet describe
The merry sayings of that careless tribe
Of friends and boon companions now unseen,--
Or the wild beauty of the forest green,--
Or daring feats and hair-breadth 'scapes, which they
Who are not crippled, think a thing for play?
He dare not:--oft without apparent cause
He checks his speaking with a faltering pause;
Oft when she bids him, with a mournful smile,
By stories such as these the hour beguile,
And he obeys--only because she bids--
He sees the large tears welling 'neath the lids.
Or if a moment's gaiety return
To his young heart that scarce can yet unlearn
Its habits of delight in all things round,
And he grows eager on some subject found
In their discourse, linked with the outward world,
Till with a pleasant smile his lip is curled,--
Even with her love she smites him back to pain!
Upon his hand her tears and kisses rain;
And with a suffocated voice she cries,
'O Claud!--the old bright days!'
And then he sighs,
And with a wistful heart makes new endeavour
To cheer or to amuse;--and so for ever,
Till in his brain the grief he tries to cheat,
A dreary mill-wheel circling seems to beat,
And drive out other thoughts--all thoughts but one:
That he and she are both alike undone,--
That better were their mutual fate, if when
That leap was taken in the fatal glen,
Both had been found, released from pain and dread,
In the rough waters of the torrent's bed,
And greeted pitying eyes, with calm smiles of the Dead!
A spell is on the efforts each would make,
With willing spirit, for the other's sake:
Through some new path of thought he fain would move,--
And she her languid hours would fain employ,--
But bitter grows the sweetness of their love,--
And a lament lies under all their joy.
She, watches Claud,--bending above the page;
Thinks him grown pale, and wearying with his care;
And with a sigh his promise would engage
For happy exercise and summer air:
He, watches her, as sorrowful she lies,
And thinks she dreams of woman's hope denied;
Of the soft gladness of a young child's eyes,
And pattering footsteps on the terrace wide,--
Where sunshine sleeps, as in a home for light,
And glittering peacocks make a rainbow show,--
But which seems sad, because that terrace bright
Must evermore remain as lone as now.
And either tries to hide the thoughts that wring
Their secret hearts; and both essay to bring
Some happy topic, some yet lingering dream,
Which they with cheerful words shall make their theme;
But fail,--and in their wistful eyes confess
All their words never own of hopelessness.
Was then DESPAIR the end of all this woe?
Far off the angel voices answer, No!
Devils despair, for they believe and tremble;
But man believes and hopes. Our griefs resemble
Each other but in this. Grief comes from Heaven;
Each thinks his own the bitterest trial given;
Each wonders at the sorrows of his lot;
His neighbour's sufferings presently forgot,
Though wide the difference which our eyes can see
Not only in grief's kind, but its degree.
God grants to some, all joys for their possession,
Nor loss, nor cross, the favoured mortal mourns;
While some toil on, outside those bounds of blessing,
Whose weary feet for ever tread on thorns.
But over all our tears God's rainbow bends;
To all our cries a pitying ear He lends;
Yea, to the feeble sound of man's lament
How often have His messengers been sent!
No barren glory circles round His throne,
By mercy's errands were His angels known;
Where hearts were heavy, and where eyes were dim,
There did the brightness radiate from Him;
God's pity,--clothed in an apparent form,--
Starred with a polar light the human storm,
Floated o'er tossing seas man's sinking bark,
And for all dangers built one sheltering ark.
When a slave's child lay dying, parched with thirst,
Till o'er the arid waste a fountain burst,--
When Abraham's mournful hand upheld the knife
To smite the silver cord of Isaac's life,--
When faithful Peter in his prison slept,--
When lions to the feet of Daniel crept,--
When the tried Three walked through the furnace glare,
Believing God was with them, even there,--
When to Bethesda's sunrise-smitten wave
Poor trembling cripples crawl'd their limbs to lave;--
In all the various forms of human trial,
Brimming that cup, filled from a bitter vial,
Which even the suffering Christ with fainting cry
Under God's will had shudderingly past by:--
To hunger, pain, and thirst, and human dread;
Imprisonment; sharp sorrow for the dead;
Deformed contraction; burdensome disease;
Humbling and fleshly ill!--to all of these
The shining messengers of comfort came,--
God's angels,--healing in God's holy name.
And when the crowning pity sent to earth
The Man of Sorrows, in mysterious birth;
And the angelic tones with one accord
Made loving chorus to proclaim the Lord;
Was Isaac's guardian there, and he who gave
Hagar the sight of that cool gushing wave?
Did the defender of the youthful Three,
And Peter's usher, join that psalmody?
With him who at the dawn made healing sure,
Troubling the waters with a freshening cure;
And those, the elect, to whom the task was given
To offer solace to the Son of Heaven,
When,--mortal tremors by the Immortal felt,--
Pale, 'neath the Syrian olives, Jesu knelt,
Alone,--'midst sleeping followers warned in vain;
Alone with God's compassion, and His pain!
Cease we to dream. Our thoughts are yet more dim
Than children's are, who put their trust in Him.
All that our wisdom knows, or ever can,
Is this: that God hath pity upon man;
And where His Spirit shines in Holy Writ,
The great word COMFORTER comes after it.
The Child Of The Islands - Opening
OF all the joys that brighten suffering earth,
What joy is welcomed like a new-born child?
What life so wretched, but that, at its birth,
Some heart rejoiced--some lip in gladness smiled?
The poorest cottager, by love beguiled,
Greets his new burden with a kindly eye;
He knows his son must toil as he hath toiled;
But cheerful Labour, standing patient by,
Laughs at the warning shade of meagre Poverty!
The pettiest squire who holds his bounded sway
In some far nook of England's fertile ground,
Keeps a high jubilee the happy day
Which bids the bonfires blaze, the joybells sound,
And the small tenantry come flocking round,
While the old steward triumphs to declare
The mother's suffering hour with safety crowned;
And then, with reverent eyes, and grey locks bare,
Falters--'GOD bless the Boy!' his Master's Son and Heir!
The youthful couple, whose sad marriage-vow
Received no sanction from a haughty sire,
Feel, as they gaze upon their infant's brow,
The angel, Hope, whose strong wings never tire--
Once more their long discouraged hearts inspire;
Surely, they deem, the smiles of that young face,
Shall thaw the frost of his relentless ire!
Homeward they turn in thought; old scenes retrace;
And, weeping, yearn to meet his reconciled embrace!
Yea, for this cause, even SHAME will step aside,
And cease to bow the head and wring the heart;
For she that is a mother, but no bride,
Out of her lethargy of woe will start,
Pluck from her side that sorrow's barbéd dart,
And, now no longer faint and full of fears,
Plan how she best protection may impart
To the lone course of those forsaken years
Which dawn in Love's warm light, though doomed to set in tears!
The dread exception--when some frenzied mind,
Crushed by the weight of unforeseen distress,
Grows to that feeble creature all unkind,
And Nature's sweetest fount, through grief's excess,
Is strangely turned to gall and bitterness;
When the deserted babe is left to lie,
Far from the woeful mother's lost caress,
Under the broad cope of the solemn sky,
Or, by her shuddering hands, forlorn, condemned to die:
Monstrous, unnatural, and MAD, is deemed,
However dark life's Future glooms in view,
An act no sane and settled heart had dreamed,
Even in extremity of want to do!
And surely WE should hold that verdict true,
Who, for men's lives--not children's--have thought fit
(Though high those lives were valued at their due)
The savage thirst of murder to acquit,
By stamping cold revenge an error of crazed wit!
She--after pains unpitied, unrelieved--
Sate in her weakness, lonely and forlorn,
Listening bewildered, while the wind that grieved,
Mocked the starved wailing of her newly born;
Racking her brain from weary night till morn
For friendly names, and chance of present aid;
Till, as she felt how this world's crushing scorn,
Passing the Tempter, rests on the Betrayed,--
Hopeless, she flung to Death the life her sin had made!
Yes, deem her mad! for holy is the sway
Of that mysterious sense which bids us bend
Toward the young souls new clothed in helpless clay,--
Fragile beginnings of a mighty end,--
Angels unwinged,--which human care must tend
Till they can tread the world's rough path alone,
Serve for themselves, or in themselves offend.
But God o'erlooketh all from His high throne,
And sees, with eyes benign, their weakness--and our own!
Therefore we pray for them, when sunset brings
Rest to the joyous heart and shining head;
When flowers are closed, and birds fold up their wings,
And watchful mothers pass each cradle-bed
With hushed soft steps, and earnest eyes that shed
Tears far more glad than smiling! Yea, all day
We bless them; while, by guileless pleasure led,
Their voices echo in their gleesome play,
And their whole careless souls are making holiday.
And if, by Heaven's inscrutable decree,
Death calls, and human skill be vain to save;
If the bright child that clambered to our knee,
Be coldly buried in the silent grave;
Oh! with what wild lament we moan and rave!
What passionate tears fall down in ceaseless shower!
There lies Perfection!--there, of all life gave--
The bud that would have proved the sweetest flower
That ever woke to bloom within an earthly bower!
For, in this hope our intellects abjure
All reason--all experience--and forego
Belief in that which only is secure,
Our natural chance and share of human woe.
The father pitieth David's heart-struck blow,
But for himself, such augury defies:
No future Absalom his love can know;
No pride, no passion, no rebellion lies
In the unsullied depth of those delightful eyes!
Their innocent faces open like a book,
Full of sweet prophecies of coming good;
And we who pore thereon with loving look,
Read what we most desire, not what we should;
Even that which suits our own Ambition's mood.
The Scholar sees distinction promised there,--
The Soldier, laurels in the field of blood,--
The Merchant, venturous skill and trading fair,--
None read of broken hope--of failure--of despair!
Nor ever can a Parent's gaze behold
Defect of Nature, as a Stranger doth;
For these (with judgment true, severe, and cold)
Mark the ungainly step of heavy Sloth,--
Coarseness of features,--tempers quickly wroth:
But those, with dazzled hearts such errors spy,
(A halo of indulgence circling both
The plainest child a stranger passes by,
Shews lovely to the sight of some enamoured eye!
The Mother looketh from her latticed pane--
Her Children's voices echoing sweet and clear:
With merry leap and bound her side they gain,
Offering their wild field-flow'rets: all are dear,
Yet still she listens with an absent ear:
For, while the strong and lovely round her press,
A halt uneven step sounds drawing near:
And all she leaves, that crippled child to bless,
Folding him to her heart, with cherishing caress.
Yea, where the Soul denies illumined grace,
(The last, the worst, the fatallest defect
SHE, gazing earnest in that idiot face,
Thinks she perceives a dawn of Intellect:
And, year by year, continues to expect
What Time shall never bring, ere Life be flown:
Still loving, hoping,--patient, though deject,--
Watching those eyes that answer not her own,--
Near him,--and yet how far! with him,--but still alone!
Want of attraction this love cannot mar:
Years of Rebellion cannot blot it out:
The Prodigal, returning from afar,
Still finds a welcome, giv'n with song and shout!
The Father's hand, without reproach or doubt,
Clasps his,--who caused them all such bitter fears:
The Mother's arms encircle him about:
That long dark course of alienated years,
Marked only by a burst of reconciling tears!
CHILD OF THE ISLANDS! if the watch of love
To even the meanest of these fates belong,
What shall THINE be, whose lot is far above
All other fortunes woven in my song?
To guard THY head from danger and from wrong,
What countless voices lift their prayers to Heaven!
Those, whose own loves crowd round, (a happy throng!)
Those, for whom Death the blessed tie hath riven;
And those to whose scathed age no verdant branch is given!
There's not a noble matron in the land,
Whose christen'd heir in gorgeous robes is drest,--
There's not a cottage mother, whose fond hand
Rocks the low cradle of her darling's rest,--
By whom THOU art not thought upon and blest!
Blest for thyself, and for HER lineage high
Who lull'd thee on her young maternal breast;
The Queenly Lady, with the clear blue eye,
Through whom thou claimest love, and sharest loyalty!
They pray for THEE, fair child, in Gothic piles,
Where the full organ's deep reverberate sound
Rolls echoing through the dim cathedral aisles,
Bidding the heart with inward rapture bound,
While the bent knee sinks trembling to the ground.
Till, at the signal of some well-known word,
The white-robed choristers rise circling round;
Mingling clear voices with divine accord,
In Hallelujahs loud, that magnify the Lord!
They pray for THEE in many a village church,
Deep in the shade of its sequester'd dell,
Where, scarcely heard beyond the lowly porch,
More simple hymns of praise less loudly swell;
Oft led by some fair form,--remember'd well
In after years among the grateful poor--
Whose lot it is in lordly halls to dwell,
Thence issuing forth to seek the cotter's door,
Or tread with gentle feet the sanded schoolhouse floor.
They pray for THEE, in floating barks that cleave
Their compass-guided path along the sea;
While through the topmast shrouds the keen winds grieve,
As through the branches of some giant tree;
And the surf sparkles in the vessel's lee.
Par from thine Albion's cliffs and native home,
Each crew of loyal mariners may be,
But, mingling with the dash of Ocean's foam,
That prayer shall rise, where'er their trackless course they roam.
And where, all newly on some foreign soil
Transplanted from the o'erpeopled Fatherland,
(Where hardy enterprise and honest toil
Avail'd them not) the Emigrant's thin band,
Gather'd for English worship, sadly stand;
Repressing wandering thoughts, which vainly crave
The Sabbath clasp of some familiar hand,
Or yearn to pass the intervening wave
And wet with Memory's tears some daisy-tufted grave:--
There, even there, THY name is not forgot--
Child of the land where they were children too!
Though sever'd ties and exile be their lot,
And Fortune now with different aspect woo,--
Still to their country and religion true,
From them the Indian learns, in broken phrase,
To worship Heaven as his converters do;
Simply he joins their forms of prayer and praise,
And, in Thy native tongue, pleads for Thy valued days.
Yea, even Earth, the dumb and beautiful,
Would seem to bid Thee welcome--in her way;
Since from her bosom thou shalt only cull,
Choice flowers and fruits, from blossom and from spray.
Spring--Summer--Autumn--Winter--day by day,
Above thy head in mystery shall brood;
And every phase of glory or decay,
And every shift of Nature's changeful mood,
To THEE shall only bring variety of good!
No insufficient harvest's poverty,
One grain of plenty from thy store can take;
No burning drought that leaves green meadows dry,
And parches all the fertile land, shall make
The fountains fail, where thou thy thirst shalt slake!
The hardest winter that can ever bind
River, and running rill, and heaving lake,
With its depressing chain of ice, shall find
An atmosphere round THEE, warm as the summer wind!
From woes which deep privations must involve,
Set in luxurious comfort far aloof,
THOU shalt behold the vanishing snow dissolve,
From the high window and the shelter'd roof;
Or, while around thee, webs of richest woof
On gilded pillars hang in many a fold;
Read, in wise books, writ down for thy behoof,
(Sounding like fables in the days of old!)
What meaner men endure from want and pinching cold.
Oh, since this is, and must be, by a law
Of God's own holy making, shall there not
Fall on thy heart a deep, reflecting awe,
When thou shalt contemplate the adverse lot
Of those by men, but not by Heaven, forgot?
Bend to the lowly in their world of care;
Think, in thy Palace, of the labourer's cot;
And justify the still unequal share
By all they power to aid, and willingness to spare!
The Creole Girl; Or, The Physician’s Story
SHE came to England from the island clime
Which lies beyond the far Atlantic wave;
She died in early youth--before her time--
'Peace to her broken heart, and virgin grave!'
She was the child of Passion, and of Shame,
English her father, and of noble birth;
Though too obscure for good or evil fame,
Her unknown mother faded from the earth.
And what that fair West Indian did betide,
None knew but he, who least of all might tell,--
But that she lived, and loved, and lonely died,
And sent this orphan child with him to dwell.
Oh! that a fair and innocent young face
Should have a poison in its looks alone,
To raise up thoughts of sorrow and disgrace
And shame most bitter, although not its own!
Cruel were they who flung that heavy shade
Across the life whose days did but begin;
Cruel were they who crush'd her heart, and made
Her youth pay penance for his youth's wild sin;
Yet so it was;--among her father's friends
A cold compassion made contempt seem light,
But, in 'the world,' no justice e'er defends
The victims of their tortuous wrong and right:--
And 'moral England,' striking down the weak,
And smiling at the vices of the strong,
On her, poor child! her parent's guilt would wreak,
And that which was her grievance, made her wrong.
The world she understood not; nor did they
Who made that world,--her, either, understand;
The very glory of her features' play
Seem'd like the language of a foreign land;
The shadowy feelings, rich and wild and warm,
That glow'd and mantled in her lovely face,--
The slight full beauty of her youthful form,
Its gentle majesty, its pliant grace,--
The languid lustre of her speaking eye,
The indolent smile of that bewitching mouth,
(Which more than all betray'd her natal sky,
And left us dreaming of the sunny South,)--
The passionate variation of her blood,
Which rose and sank, as rise and sink the waves,
With every change of her most changeful mood,
Shock'd sickly Fashion's pale and guarded slaves.
And so in this fair world she stood alone,
An alien 'mid the ever-moving crowd,
A wandering stranger, nameless and unknown,
Her claim to human kindness disallow'd.
But oft would Passion's bold and burning gaze,
And Curiosity's set frozen stare,
Fix on her beauty in those early days,
And coarsely thus her loveliness declare;
Which she would shrink from, as the gentle plant,
Fern-leaved Mimosa folds itself away;
Suffering and sad;--for easy 'twas to daunt
One who on earth had no protecting stay.
And often to her eye's transparent lid
The unshed tears would rise with sudden start,
And sink again, as though by Reason chid,
Back to their gentle home, her wounded heart;
Even as some gushing fountain idly wells
Up to the prison of its marble side,
Whose power the mounting wave for ever quells,--
So rose her tears--so stemm'd by virgin pride.
And so more lonely each succeeding day,
As she her lot did better understand,
She lived a life which had in it decay,
A flower transplanted to too cold a land,--
Which for a while gives out a hope of bloom,
Then fades and pines, because it may not feel
The freedom and the warmth which gave it room
The beauty of its nature to reveal.
For vainly would the heart accept its lot
And rouse its strength to bear avow'd contempt;
Scorn will be felt as scorn,--deserved or not,--
And from its bitter spell none stand exempt.
There is a basilisk power in human eyes
When they would look a fellow-creature down,
'Neath which the faint soul fascinated lies,
Struck by the cold sneer, or the with'ring frown.
But one there was, among that cruel crowd,
Whose nature half rebell'd against the chain
Which fashion flung around him; though too proud
To own that slavery's weariness and pain.
Too proud; perhaps too weak; for Custom still
Curbs with an iron bit the souls born free;
They start and chafe, yet bend them to the will
Of this most nameless ruler,--so did he.
And even unto him the worldly brand
Which rested on her, half her charm effaced;
Vainly all pure and radiant did she stand,--
Even unto him she was a thing disgraced.
Had she been early doom'd a cloister'd nun,
To Heaven devoted by a holy vow--
His union with that poor deserted one
Had seem'd not more impossible than now.
He could have loved her--fervently and well;
But still the cold world, with its false allure,
Bound his free liking in an icy spell,
And made its whole foundation insecure.
But not like meaner souls, would he, to prove
A vulgar admiration, her pursue;
For though his glances after her would rove,
As something beautiful, and strange, and new,
They were withdrawn if but her eye met his,
Or, for an instant if their light remain'd,
They soften'd into gentlest tenderness,
As asking pardon that his look had pain'd.
And she was nothing unto him,--nor he
Aught unto her; but each of each did dream
In the still hours of thought, when we are free
To quit the real world for the things which seem.
When in his heart Love's folded wings would stir,
And bid his youth choose out a fitting mate,
Against his will his thoughts roam'd back to her,
And all around seem'd blank and desolate.
When, in his worldly haunts, a smother'd sigh
Told he had won some lady of the land,
The dreaming glances of his earnest eye
Beheld far off the Creole orphan stand;
And to the beauty by his side he froze,
As though she were not fair, nor he so young,
And turn'd on her such looks of cold repose
As check'd the trembling accents of her tongue,
And bid her heart's dim passion seek to hide
Its gathering strength, although the task be pain,
Lest she become that mock to woman's pride--
A wretch that loves unwoo'd, and loves in vain.
So in his heart she dwelt,--as one may dwell
Upon the verge of a forbidden ground;
And oft he struggled hard to break the spell
And banish her, but vain the effort found;
For still along the winding way which led
Into his inmost soul, unbidden came
Her haunting form,--and he was visited
By echoes soft of her unspoken name,
Through the long night, when those we love seem near,
However cold, however far away,
Borne on the wings of floating dreams, which cheer
And give us strength to meet the struggling day.
And when in twilight hours she roved apart,
Feeding her love-sick soul with visions fair,
The shadow of his eyes was on her heart,
And the smooth masses of his shining hair
Rose in the glory of the evening light,
And, where she wander'd, glided evermore,
A star which beam'd upon her world's lone night,
Where nothing glad had ever shone before.
But vague and girlish was that love,--no hope,
Even of familiar greeting, ever cross'd
Its innocent, but, oh! most boundless scope;
She loved him,--and she knew her love was lost.
She gazed on him, as one from out a bark,
Bound onward to a cold and distant strand,
Some lovely bay, some haven fair may mark,
Stretching far inward to a sunnier land;
Who, knowing he must still sail on, turns back
To watch with dreaming and most mournful eyes
The ruffling foam which follows in his track,
Or the deep starlight of the shoreless skies.
Oh! many a hopeless love like this may be,--
For love will live that never looks to win;
Gems rashly lost in Passion's stormy sea,
Not to be lifted forth when once cast in!
So time roll'd on, till suddenly that child
Of southern clime and feelings, droop'd and pined
Her cheek wax'd paler, and her eye grew wild,
And from her youthful form all strength declined.
'Twas then I knew her; late and vainly call'd,
To 'minister unto a mind diseased,'--
When on her heart's faint sickness all things pall'd,
And the deep inward pain was never eased:
Her step was always gentle, but at last
It fell as lightly as a wither'd leaf
In autumn hours; and wheresoe'er she pass'd
Smiles died away, she look'd so full of grief.
And more than ever from that world, where still
Her father hoped to place her, she would shrink;
Loving to be alone, her thirst to fill
From the sweet fountains where the dreamers drink.
One eve, beneath the acacia's waving bough,
Wrapt in these lonely thoughts she sate and read;
Her dark hair parted from her sunny brow,
Her graceful arm beneath her languid head;
And droopingly and sad she hung above
The open page, whereon her eyes were bent,
With looks of fond regret and pining love;
Nor heard my step, so deep was she intent.
And when she me perceived, she did not start,
But lifted up those soft dark eyes to mine,
And smiled, (that mournful smile which breaks the heart!)
Then glanced again upon the printed line.
'What readest thou?' I ask'd. With fervent gaze,
As though she would have scann'd my inmost soul,
She turn'd to me, and, as a child obeys
The accustom'd question of revered control,
She pointed to the title of that book,
(Which, bending down, I saw was 'Coralie,')
Then gave me one imploring piteous look,
And tears, too long restrain'd, gush'd fast and free.
It was a tale of one, whose fate had been
Too like her own to make that weeping strange;
Like her, transplanted from a sunnier scene;
Like her, all dull'd and blighted by the change.
No further word was breathed between us two;--
No confidence was made to keep or break;--
But since that day, which pierced my soul quite thro',
My hand the dying girl would faintly take,
And murmur, as its grasp (ah! piteous end!)
Return'd the feeble pressure of her own,
'Be with me to the last,--for thou, dear friend,
Hast all my struggles, all my sorrow known!'
She died!--The pulse of that untrammell'd heart
Fainted to stilness. Those most glorious eyes
Closed on the world where she had dwelt apart,
And her cold bosom heaved no further sighs.
She died!--and no one mourn'd, except her sire,
Who for a while look'd out with eyes more dim;
Lone was her place beside his household fire,
Vanish'd the face that ever smiled on him.
And no one said to him--'Why mournest thou?'
Because she was the unknown child of shame;
(Albeit her mother better kept the vow
Of faithful love, than some who keep their fame.)
Poor mother, and poor child!--unvalued lives!
Wan leaves that perish'd in obscurest shade!
While round me still the proud world stirs and strives,
Say, shall I weep that ye are lowly laid?
Shall I mourn for ye? No!--and least for thee,
Young dreamer, whose pure heart gave way before
Thy bark was launch'd upon Love's stormy sea,
Or treachery wreck'd it on the farther shore.
Least, least of all for thee! Thou art gone hence!
Thee never more shall scornful looks oppress,
Thee the world wrings not with some vain pretence,
Nor chills thy tears, nor mocks at thy distress.
From man's injustice, from the cold award
Of the unfeeling, thou hast pass'd away;
Thou'rt at the gates of light, where angels guard
Thy path to realms of bright eternal day.
There shall thy soul its chains of slavery burst,
There, meekly standing before God's high throne,
Thou'lt find the judgments of our earth reversed,
And answer for no errors but thine own.
The Lady Of La Garaye - Part I
ON Dinan's walls the morning sunlight plays,
Gilds the stern fortress with a crown of rays,
Shines on the children's heads that troop to school,
Turns into beryl-brown the forest pool,
Sends diamond sparkles over gushing springs,
And showers down glory on the simplest things.
And many a young seigneur and damsel bold
See with delight those beams of reddening gold,
For they are bid to join the hunt to-day
By Claud Marot, the lord of La Garaye;
And merry is it in his spacious halls;
Cheerful the host, whatever sport befalls,
Cheerful and courteous, full of manly grace,
His heart's frank welcome written in his face;
So eager, that his pleasure never cloys,
But glad to share whatever he enjoys;
Rich, liberal, gaily dressed, of noble mien,
Clear eyes,--full curving mouth,--and brow serene;
Master of speech in many a foreign tongue,
And famed for feats of arms, although so young;
Dexterous in fencing, skilled in horsemanship--
His voice and hand preferred to spur or whip;
Quick at a jest and smiling repartee,
With a sweet laugh that sounded frank and free,
But holding Satire an accursèd thing,
A poisoned javelin or a serpent's sting;
Pitiful to the poor; of courage high;
A soul that could all turns of fate defy
Gentle to women: reverent to old age:
What more, young Claud, could men's esteem engage?
What more be given to bless thine earthy state,
Save Love,--which still must crown the happiest fate!
Love, therefore, came. That sunbeam lit his life
And where he wooed, he won, a gentle wife
Born, like himself, of lineage brave and good;
And, like himself, of warm and eager mood;
Glad to share gladness, pleasure to impart,
With dancing spirits and a tender heart.
Pleased too to share the manlier sports which made
The joy of his young hours. No more afraid
Of danger, than the seabird, used to soar
From the high rocks above the ocean's roar,
Which dips its slant wing in the wave's white crest,
And deems the foamy undulations, rest.
Nor think the feminine beauty of her soul
Tarnished by yielding to such joy's control;
Nor that the form which, like a flexile reed,
Swayed with the movements of her bounding steed,
Took from those graceful hours a rougher force,
Or left her nature masculine and coarse.
She was not bold from boldness, but from love;
Bold from gay frolic; glad with him to rove
In danger or in safety, weal or woe,
And where he ventured, still she yearned to go.
Bold with the courage of his bolder life,
At home a tender and submissive wife;
Abroad, a woman, modest,--ay, and proud;
Not seeking homage from the casual crowd.
She remained pure, that darling of his sight,
In spite of boyish feats, and rash delight;
Still the eyes fell before an insolent look,
Or flashed their bright and innocent rebuke;
Still the cheek kept its delicate youthful bloom,
And the blush reddened through the snow-white plume.
He that had seen her, with her courage high,
First in the chase where all dashed rapid by;
He that had watched her bright impetuous look
When she prepared to leap the silver brook,--
Fair in her Springtime as a branch of May,--
Had felt the dull sneer feebly die away,
And unused kindly smiles upon his cold lips play!
God made all pleasure innocent; but man
Turns them to shame, since first our earth began
To shudder 'neath the stroke of delving tools
When Eve and Adam lost,--poor tempted fools,--
The sweet safe shelter of their Eden bowers,
Its easy wealth of sun-ripe fruits and flowers,
For some forbidden zest that was not given,
Some riotous hope to make a mimic heaven,
And sank,--from being wingless angels,--low
Into the depths of mean and abject woe.
Why should the sweet elastic sense of joy
Presage a fault? Why should the pleasure cloy,
Or turn to blame, which Heaven itself inspires,
Who gave us health and strength and all desires?
The children play, and sin not;--let the young
Still carol songs, as others too have sung;
Still urge the fiery courser o'er the plain,
Proud of his glossy sides and flowing mane;
Still, when they meet in careless hours of mirth,
Laugh, as if Sorrow were unknown to earth;
Prattling sweet nothings, which, like buds of flowers,
May turn to earnest thoughts and vigilant hours.
What boys can suffer, and weak women dare,
Let Indian and Crimean wastes declare:
Perchance in that gay group of laughers stand
Guides and defenders for our native land;--
Folly it is to see a wit in woe,
And hold youth sinful for the spirits' flow.
As thro' the meadow lands clear rivers run,
Blue in the shadow--silver in the sun--
Till, rolling by some pestilential source,
Some factory work whose wheels with horrid force
Strike the pure waters with their dripping beams,
Send poison gushing to the crystal streams,
And leave the innocent things to whom God gave
A natural home in that translucent wave
Gasping strange death, and floating down to show
The evil working in the depths below,--
So man can poison pleasure at its source;
Clog the swift sparkle of its rapid course,
Mix muddy morbid thoughts in vicious strife,
Till to the surface floats the death of life;--
But not the less the stream itself was pure--
And not the less may blameless joy endure.
Careless,--but not impure,--the joyous days
Passed in a rapturous whirl; a giddy maze,
Where the young Count and lovely Countess drew
A new delight from every pleasure new.
They woke to gladness as the morning broke;
Their very voices kept, whene'er they spoke,
A ring of joy, a harmony of life,
That made you bless the husband and the wife.
And every day the careless festal throng,
And every night the dance and feast and song,
Shared with young boon companions, marked the time
As with a carillon's exulting chime;
Where those two entered, gloom passed out of sight,
Chased by the glow of their intense delight.
So, till the day when over Dinan's walls
The Autumn sunshine of my story falls;
And the guests bidden, gather for the chase,
And the smile brightens on the lovely face
That greets them in succession as they come
Into that high and hospitable home.
Like a sweet picture doth the Lady stand,
Still blushing as she bows; one tiny hand,
Hid by a pearl-embroidered gauntlet, holds
Her whip, and her long robe's exuberant folds.
The other hand is bare, and from her eyes
Shades now and then the sun, or softly lies,
With a caressing touch, upon the neck
Of the dear glossy steed she loves to deck
With saddle-housings worked in golden thread,
And golden bands upon his noble head.
White is the little hand whose taper fingers
Smooth his fine coat,--and still the lady lingers,
Leaning against his side; nor lifts her head,
But gently turns as gathering footsteps tread;
Reminding you of doves with shifting throats,
Brooding in sunshine by their sheltering cotes.
Under her plumèd hat her wealth of curls
Falls down in golden links among her pearls,
And the rich purple of her velvet vest
Slims the young waist, and rounds the graceful breast.
So, till the latest joins the happy Meet;
Then springs she gladly to her eager feet;
And, while the white hand from her courser's side
Slips like a snow-flake, stands prepared to ride.
Then lightly vaulting to her seat, she seems
Queen of some fair procession seen in dreams;
Queen of herself, and of the world; sweet Queen!
Her crown the plume above her brow serene,
Her jewelled whip a sceptre, and her dress
The regal mantle worn by loveliness.
And well she wears such mantle: swift the horse,
But firm her seat throughout the rapid course;
No rash unsteadiness, no shifting pose
Disturbs that line of beauty as she goes:
She wears her robe as some fair sloop her sails,
Which swell and flutter to the rising gales,
But never from the cordage taut and trim
Slacken or swerve away. The evening dim
Sees her return, unwearied and unbent,
The fair folds falling smooth as when she went;
The little foot no clasping buckle keeps,
She frees it, and to earth untrammelled leaps.
Alas! look well upon that picture fair!
The face--the form--the smile--the golden hair;
The agile beauty of each movement made,--
The loving softness of her eyes' sweet shade,
The bloom and pliant grace of youthful days,
The gladness and the glory of her gaze.
If we knew when the last time was the last,
Visions so dear to straining eyes went past;
If we knew when the horror and the gloom
Should overcast the pride of beauty's bloom;
If we knew when affection nursed in vain
Should grow to be but bitterness and pain;
It were a curse to blight all living hours
With a hot dust, like dark volcano showers.
Give thanks to God who blinded us with Hope;
Denied man skill to draw his horoscope;
And, to keep mortals of the present fond,
Forbid the keenest sight to pierce beyond!
Falsehood from those we trusted; cruel sneers
From those whose voice was music to our ears;
Lonely old age; oppressed and orphaned youth;
Yearning appeals to hearts that know no ruth;
Ruin, that starves pale mouths we loved to feed;
A friend's forsaking in our utmost need;
These come,--and sting,--and madden; ay, and slay;
But not the less our joy hath had its day;
No little cloud first flecked our tranquil skies,
Presaging shipwreck to the prophet eyes;
No hand came forth upon the walls of home
With vanishing radiance writing darkest doom;
No child-soul called us in the dead of night,
Thrilled with a message from a God of might;
No shrouded Seer, by some enforcing spell,
Rose from Death's rest, Life's restless chance to tell;
The lightning smote us--shivering stem and bough:
All was so green: all lies so blighted now!
They ride together all that sunny day,
Claud and the lovely Lady of Garaye;
O'er hill and dale,--through fields of late reaped corn,
Through woods,--wherever sounds the hunting horn,
Wherever scour the fleet hounds, fast they follow,
Through tufted thickets and the leaf-strewn hollow;
And thrice,--the game secured,--they rest awhile,
And slacken bridle with a breathless smile:
And thrice, with joyous speed, off, off they go,--
Like a fresh arrow from a new-strung bow!
But now the ground is rough with boulder stones,
Where, wild beneath, the prisoned streamlet moans,
The prisoned streamlet strugggling to be free,
Baring the roots of many a toppling tree,
Breaking the line where smooth-barked saplings rank,
And undermining all the creviced bank;
Till gushing out at length to open space,
Mad with the effort of its desperate race,
It pauses, swelling o'er the narrow ridge
Where fallen branches make a natural bridge,
Leaps to the next desent, and, balked no more,
Foams to a waterfall, whose ceaseless roar
Echoes far down the banks, and through the forest hoar!
Across the water full of peakèd stones--
Across the water where it chafes and moans--
Across the water at its widest part--
Which wilt thou leap,--oh, lady of brave heart?
Their smiling eyes have met--those eager two:
She looks at Claud, as questioning which to do:
He rides--reins in --looks down the torrent's course,--
Pats the sleek neck of his sure-footed horse,--
Stops,--measures spaces with his eagle eye,
Tries a new track, and yet returns to try.
Sudden, while pausing at the very brink,
The damp leaf-covered ground appears to sink,
And the keen instinct of the wise dumb brute
Escapes the yielding earth, the slippery root;
With a wild effort as if taking wing
The monstrous gap he clears with one safe spring;
Reaches--(and barely reaches)--past the roar
Of the wild stream, the further lower shore,--
Scrambles--recovers,--rears--and panting stands
Safe 'neath his master's nerveless trembling hands.
Oh! even while he leapt, his horrid thought
Was of the peril to that lady brought;
Oh! even while he leapt, her Claud looked back,
And shook his hand to warn her from the track.
In vain: the pleasant voice she loved so well
Feebly re-echoed through that dreadful dell,
The voice that was the music of her home
Shouted in vain across that torrent's foam.
He saw her, pausing on the bank above;
Saw,--like a dreadful vision of his love,--
That dazzling dream stand on the edge of death:
Saw it--and stared--and prayed--and held his breath.
Bright shone the Autumn sun on wood and plain;
On the steed's glossy flanks and flowing mane;
On the wild silver of the rushing brook;
On his wife's smiling and triumphant look;
Bright waved against the sky her wind-tost plume,
Bright on her freshened cheek the healthy bloom,--
Oh! all bright things, how could ye end in doom?
Forward they leaped! They leaped--a coloured flash
Of life and beauty. Hark! a sudden crash,--
Blent with that dreadful sound, a man's sharp cry,--
Prone,--'neath the crumbling bank,--the horse and lady lie!
The heart grows humble in an awe-struck grief;
Claud thinks not, dreams not, plans not her relief.
Strengthen him but, O God! to reach the place,
And let him look upon her dying face!
Let him but say farewell! farewell, sweet love!
And once more hear her speak, and see her move,--
And ask her if she suffers where she lies,--
And kiss the lids down on her closing eyes,--
And he will be content.
He climbs and strives:
The strength is in his heart of twenty lives;
Across the leaf-strewn gaps he madly springs;
From branch to branch like some wild ape he swings;
Breasts, with hot effort, that cold rushing source
Of death and danger. With a giant's force
His bleeding hands and broken nails have clung
Round the gnarled slippery roots above him hung,
And now he's near,--he sees her through the leaves;
But a new horrid fear his mind receives:
The steed! his hoofs may crush that angel head!
No, Claud,--her favourite is already dead,
One shivering gasp thro' limbs that now stretch out like lead.
He's with her! is he dying too? his blood
Beats no more to and fro; his abstract mood
Weighs like a nightmare; something, well he knows,
Is horrible,--and still the horror grows;
But what it is, or how it came to pass,
Or why he lies half fainting on the grass,
Or what he strove to clutch at in his fall,
Or why he had no power for help to call,
This is confused and lost.
But Claud has heard
A sound like breathings from a sleeping bird
New-caged that day,--a weak distrubing sigh,
The whisper of a grief that cannot cry,--
Repeated, and then still; and then again
Repeated,--and a long low moan of pain.
The hunt is passing; through the arching glade
The hounds sweep on in flickering light and shade,
The cheery huntsman winds his rallying horn,
And voices shouting from his guests that morn
Keep calling, calling, 'Claud, the hunt is o'er,
Return we to the merry halls once more!'
Claud hears not; heeds not;--all is like a dream
Except that lady lying by the stream;
Above all tumult of uproarious sound
Comes the faint sigh that breathes along the ground,
Where pale as death in her returning life
Writhes the sweet angel whom he still calls wife.
He parts the masses of her golden hair,
He lifts her, helpless, with a shudderng care,
He looks into her face with awe-struck eyes;--
She dies--the darling of his soul--she dies!
You might have heard, through that thought's fearful shock,
The beating of his heart like some huge clock;
And then the strong pulse falter and stand still,
When lifted from that fear with sudden thrill
He bent to catch faint murmurs of his name,
Which from those blanched lips low and trembling came:
'Oh! Claud!' she said: no more--
But never yet,
Through all the loving days since first they met,
Leaped his heart's blood with such a yearning vow
That she was all in all to him, as now.
'Oh! Claud--the pain!'
'Oh! Gertrude, my beloved!'
Then faintly o'er her lips a wan smile moved,
Which dumbly spoke of comfort from his tone,
As though she felt half saved, not so to die alone.
Ah! happy they who in their grief or pain
Yearn not for some familiar face in vain;
Who in the sheltering arms of love can lie
Till human passion breathes its latest sigh;
Who, when words fail to enter the dull ear,
And when eyes cease from seeing forms most dear,
Still the fond clasping touch can understand,--
And sink to death from that detaining hand!
He sits and watches; and she lies and moans;
The wild stream rushes over broken stones;
The dead leaves flutter to the mossy earth;
Far-away echoes bring the hunters' mirth;
And the long hour creeps by--too long--too long;
Till the chance music of a peasant' song
Breaks the hard silence with a human hope,
And Claud starts up and gazes down the slope;
And from a wandering herdsman he obtains
The help whose want has chilled his anxious veins.
Into a simple litter then they bind
Thin cradling branches deftly intertwined;
And there they lay the lady as they found her,
With all her bright hair streaming sadly round her;
Her white lips parted o'er the pearly teeth
Like pictured saints', who die a martyr's death,--
And slowly bear her, like a corse of clay,
Back to the home she left so blithe to-day.
The starry lights shine forth from tower and hall,
Stream through the gateway, glimmer on the wall,
And the loud pleasant stir of busy men
In courtyard and in stable sounds again.
And through the windows, as that death-bier passes,
They see the shining of the ruby glasses
Set at brief intervals for many a guest
Prepared to share the laugh, the song, the jest;
Prepared to drink, with many a courtly phrase,
Their host and hostess--'Health to the Garayes!'
Health to the slender, lithe, yet stalwart frame
Of Claud Marot--Count of that noble name;
Health to his lovely Countess: health--to her!
Scarce seems she now with faintest breath to stir:
Oh! half-shut eyes--oh! brow with torture damp,--
Will life's oil rise in that expiring lamp?
Are there yet days to come, or does he bend
Over a hope of which this is the end?
He shivers, and hot tears shut out the sight
Of that dear home for feasting made so bright;
The golden evening light is round him dying,
The dark rooks to their nests are slowly flying,
As underneath the portal, faint with fear,
He sees her carried, now so doubly dear;
'Save her!' is written in his anxious glances,
As the quick-summoned leech in haste advances.
'Save her!'--and through the gloom of midnight hours,
And through the hot noon, shut from air and flowers,
Young Claud sits patient--waiting day by day
For health for that sweet lady of Garaye.
The Lady Of La Garaye - Part Iv
SILENT old gateway! whose two columns stand
Like simple monuments on either hand;
No trellised iron-work, with pleasant view
Of trim-set flowery gardens shining through;
No bolts to bar unasked intruders out;
No well-oiled hinge whose sound, like one low note
Of music, tells the listening hearts that yearn,
Expectant of dear footsteps, where to turn;
No ponderous bell whose loud vociferous tone
Into the rose-decked lodge hath echoing gone,
Bringing the porter forth with brief delay,
To spread those iron wings that check the way;
Nothing but ivy-leaves, and crumbling stone;
Silent old gateway,--even thy life is gone!
But ere those columns, lost in ivvied shade,
Black on the midnight sky their forms portrayed;
And ere thy gate, by damp weeds overtopped,
Swayed from its rusty fastenings and then dropped,--
When it stood portal to a living home,
And saw the living faces go and come,
What various minds, and in what various moods,
Crossed the fair paths of these sweet solitudes!
Old gateway, thou hast witnessed times of mirth,
When light the hunter's gallop beat the earth;
When thy quick wakened echo could but know
Laughter and happy voices, and the flow
Of jocund spirits, when the pleasant sight
Of broidered dresses (careless youth's delight,)
Trooped by at sunny morn, and back at falling night.
And thou hast witnessed triumph,--when the Bride
Passed through,--the stately Bridegroom at her side;
The village maidens scattering many a flower,
Bright as the bloom of living beauty's dower,
With cheers and shouts that bid the soft tears rise
Of joy exultant, in her downcast eyes.
And thou hadst gloom, when,--fallen from beauty's state,--
Her mournful litter rustled through the gate,
And the wind waved its branches as she past,--
And the dishevelled curls around her cast,
Rose on that breeze and kissed, before they fell,
The iron scroll-work with a wild farewell!
And thou hast heard sad dirges chanted low,
And sobbings loud from those who saw with woe
The feet borne forward by a funeral train,
Which homeward never might return again,
Nor in the silence of the frozen nights
Reclaim that dwelling and its lost delights;
But lowly lie, however wild love's yearning,
The dust that clothed them, unto dust returning.
Through thee, how often hath been borne away
Man's share of dual life--the senseless clay!
Through thee how oft hath hastened, glad and bold,
God's share--the eager spirit in that mould;
But neither life nor death hath left a trace
On the strange silence of that vacant place.
Not vacant in the day of which I write!
Then rose thy pillared columns fair and white;
Then floated out the odorous pleasant scent
Of cultured shrubs and flowers together blent,
And o'er the trim-kept gravel's tawny hue
Warm fell the shadows and the brightness too.
Count Claud is at the gate, but not alone:
Who is his friend?
They pass, and both are gone.
Gone, by the bright warm path, to those sad halls
Where now his slackened step in sadness falls;
Sadness of every day and all day long,
Spite of the summer glow and wild bird's song.
Who is that slow-paced Priest to whom he bows
Courteous precedence, as he sighing shows
The oriel window where his Gertrude dwells,
And all her mournful story briefly tells?
Who is that friend whose hand with gentle clasp
Answers his own young agonizing grasp,
And looks upon his burst of passionate tears
With calmer grieving of maturer years?
Oh! well round that friend's footsteps might be breathed
The blessing which the Italian poet wreathed
Into a garland gay of graceful words,
As full of music as a lute's low chords;
'Blessed be the year, the time, the day, the hour,'
When He passed through those gates, whose gentle power
Lifted with ministrant zeal the leaden grief,
Probed the soul's festering wounds and brought relief,
And taught the sore vexed spirits where to find
Balm that could heal, and thoughts that cheered the mind.
Prior of Benedictines, did thy prayers
Bring down a blessing on them unawares,
While yet their faces were to thee unknown,
And thou wert kneeling in thy cell alone,
Where thy meek litanies went up to Heaven,
That ALL who suffered might have comfort given,
And thy heart yearned for all thy fellow-men,
Smitten with sorrows far beyond thy ken?
He sits by Gertrude's couch, and patient listens
To her wild grieving voice;--his dark eye glistens
With tearful sympathy for that young wife,
Telling the torture of her broken life;
And when he answers her she seems to know
The peace of resting by a river's flow.
Tender his words, and eloquently wise;
Mild the pure fervour of his watchful eyes;
Meek with serenity of constant prayer
The luminous forehead, high and broad and bare;
The thin mouth, though not passionless, yet still;
With a sweet calm that speaks an angel's will,
Resolving service to his God's behest,
And ever musing how to serve Him best.
Not old, nor young; with manhood's gentlest grace;
Pale to transparency the pensive face,
Pale not with sickness, but with studious thought,
The body tasked, the fine mind overwrought;
With something faint and fragile in the whole,
As though 'twere but a lamp to hold a soul.
Such was the friend who came to La Garaye,
And Claud and Gertrude lived to bless the day!
There is a love that hath not lover's wooing,
Love's wild caprices, nor love's hot pursuing;
But yet a clinging and persistent love,
Tenderly binding, most unapt to rove;
As full of fervent and adoring dreams,
As the more gross and earthlier passion seems,
But far more single-hearted; from its birth,
With humblest notions of unequal worth!
Guided and guidable; with thankful trust;
Timid, lest all complaint should be unjust;
Circling,--a lesser orb,--around its star
With tributary love, that dare not war.
Such is the love which aged men inspire;
Priests, whose pure hearts are full of sacred fire;
And friends of dear friends dead,--whom trembling we admire.
A touch of mystery lights the rising morn
Of love for those who lived ere we were born;
Whose eyes the eyes of ancestors have seen;
Whose voice hath answered voices that have been;
Whose words show wisdom gleaned in days gone by,
As glory flushes from a sunset sky.
Our judgment leans upon them, feeling weak;
Our hearts lift yearning towards them as they speak,
And silently we listen, lest we lose
Some teaching truth, and benefits refuse.
With such a love did Gertrude learn to greet
The gentle Prior; whose slow-pacing feet
Each day of her sad life made welcome sound
Across the bright path of her garden ground.
And ere the golden summer past away,
And leaves were yellowing with a pale decay;
Ere, drenched by sweeping storms of autumn rain,
In turbulent billows lay the beaten grain;
Ere Breton orchards, ripening, turned to red
All the green freshness which the spring-time shed,
Mocking the glory which the sunset fills
With stripes of crimson o'er the painted hills,--
Her thoughts submitted to his thoughts' control,
As 'twere an elder brother of her soul.
Well she remembered how that soul was stirred,
By the rebuking of his gentle word,
When in her faltering tones complaint was given,
'What had I done; to earn such fate from Heaven?'
'Oh, Lady! here thou liest, with all that wealth
Or love can do to cheer thee back to health;
With books that woo the fancies of thy brain,
To happier thoughts than brooding over pain;
With light, with flowers, with freshness, and with food,
Dainty and chosen, fit for sickly mood:
With easy couches for thy languid frame,
Bringing real rest, and not the empty name;
And silent nights, and soothed and comforted days;
And Nature's beauty spread before thy gaze:--
'What have the Poor done, who instead of these
Suffer in foulest rags each dire disease,
Creep on the earth, and lean against the stones,
When some disjointing torture racks their bones;
And groan and grope throughout the wearying night,
Denied the rich man's easy luxury,--light?
What has the Babe done,--who, with tender eyes,
Blinks at the world a little while, and dies;
Having first stretched, in wild convulsive leaps,
His fragile limbs, which ceaseless suffering keeps
In ceaseless motion, till the hour when death
Clenches his little heart, and stops his breath?
What has the Idiot done, whose half-formed soul
Scarce knows the seasons as they onward roll;
Who flees with gibbering cries, and bleeding feet,
From idle boys who pelt him in the street!
What have the fair girls done, whose early bloom
Wasting like flowers that pierce some creviced tomb,
Plants that have only known a settled shade,
Lives that for others' uses have been made,--
Toil on from morn to night, from night to morn,
For those chance pets of Fate, the wealthy born;
Bound not to murmur, and bound not to sin,
However bitter be the bread they win?
What hath the Slandered done, who vainly strives
To set his life among untarnished lives?
Whose bitter cry for justice only fills
The myriad echoes lost among life's hills;
Who hears for evermore the self-same lie
Clank clog-like at his heel when he would try
To climb above the loathly creeping things
Whose venom poisons, and whose fury stings,
And so slides back; for ever doomed to hear
The old witch, Malice, hiss with serpent leer
The old hard falsehood to the old bad end,
Helped, it may be, by some traducing friend,
Or one rocked with him on one mother's breast,--
Learned in the art of where to smite him best.
'What we must suffer, proves not what was done:
So taught the God of Heaven's anointed Son,
Touching the blind man's eyes amid a crowd
Of ignorant seething hearts who cried aloud
The blind, or else his parents, had offended;
That was Man's preaching; God that preaching mended.
But whatsoe'er we suffer, being still
Fixed and appointed by the heavenly will,
Behoves us bear with patience as we may
The Potter's moulding of our helpless clay.
Much, Lady, hath He taken, but He leaves
What outweighs all for which thy spirit grieves;
No greater gift lies even in God's control
Than the large love that fills a human soul.
If taking that, He left thee all the rest,
Would not vain anguish wring thy pining breast?
If, taking all, that dear love yet remains,
Hath it not balm for all thy bitter pains?
'Oh, Lady! there are lonely deaths that make
The heart that thinks upon them burn and ache;
And such I witnessed on the purple shore
Where scorched Vesuvius rears his summit hoar,
And Joan's gaunt palace, with its skull-like eyes,
And barbarous and cruel memories,
For ever sees the blue wave lap its feet,
And the white glancing of the fishers' fleet.
The death of the FORSAKEN! lone he lies,
His sultry noon, fretted by slow black flies,
That settle on pale cheek and quivering brow
With a soft torment. The increasing glow
Brings the full shock of day; the hot air grows
Impure alike from action and repose;
Bruised fruit, and faded flowers, and dung and dust,
The rich man's stew-pan, and the beggar's crust,
Poison the faint lips opening hot and dry,
Loathing the plague they breathe with gasping sigh,
The thick oppression of its stifling heat,
The busy murmur of the swarming street,
The roll of chariots and the rush of feet;
With the tormenting music's nasal twang
Distorting melodies his loved ones sang!
'Then comes a change--not silence, but less sound,
Less echo of hard footsteps on the ground,
Less rolling thunder of vociferous words,
As though the clang struck out in crashing chords
Fell into single notes, that promise rest
To the wild fever of the labouring breast.
'Last cometh on the night--the hot, bad night,
With less of all--of heat, of dust, of light;
And leaves him watching, with a helpless stare,--
The theme of no one's hope and no one's care!
The cresset lamp, that stands so grim and tall,
Widens and wavers on the upper wall;
And calming down from day's perpetual storm
His thoughts' dark chaos takes some certain form,
And he begins to pine for joys long lost,
Or hopes unrealized;--till bruised and tost
He sends his soul vain journeys through the gloom
For radiant eyes that should have wept his doom.
Then clasps his hands in prayer, and for a time,
Gives aspirations unto things sublime:
But sinking to some speck of sorrow found,
Some point which, like a little festering wound,
Holds all his share of pain,--he gazes round,
Seeking some vanished form, some hand whose touch
Would almost cure him; and he yearns so much,
That passionate painful sobs his breathing choke,
And the thin bubble of his dream hath broke!
'So, still again; and all alone again;
Not even a vision present with his pain.
The hot real round him; the forsaken bed;
The tumbled pillow, and the restless head.
The drink so near his couch, and yet too far
For feeble hands to reach; the cold fine star
That glitters through the unblinded window-pane,
And with slow gliding leaves it blank again;
Till morning flushing through the world once more,
Brings the dull likeness of the day before,--
The first vague freshness of new wings unfurled,
As though Hope lighted, somewhere, in the world;
The heat of noon; the fading down of light;
The glimmering evening, and the restless night.
And then again the morning; and the noon;
The evening and the morning;--till a boon
Of double weakness sinks him, and he knows
One or two other days shall end his woes:
One or two mournful evenings, glimmering grey,
One or two hopeless risings of new day.
One or two noons too weak to brush off flies,
One or two nights of flickering feeble sighs,
One or two shivering breaks of helpless tears,
One or two yearnings for forgotten years,--
And then the end of all, then the great change,
When the freed soul, let loose at length to range,
Leaves the imprisoning and imprisoned clay,
And soars far out of reach of sorrow and decay!'
Then Claud, who watched the faint and pitying flush
Tint her transparent cheek; with sudden gush
Of manly ardour, spoke of soldier deaths;
Of scattered slain who lay on cold bleak heaths:
Of prisoners pining for their native land
After the battle's vain and desperate stand;
Brave hearts in dungeons,--rusting like their swords;
And wounded men,--midst whom the rifling hordes
Of spoil-desiring searchers crept and smote,--
Who vainly heard the rallying bugle's note,
Or the quick march of their companions pass;
Sunk, dumb and dying, on the trampled grass.
Then also, the meek anxious Prior told
Of war's worst horrors,--when in freezing cold,
Or in the torrid heat, men lay and groaned,
With none to hear or heed them when they moaned;
Or, with half-help,--borne in a comrade's arms
To where, all huddled up in feverish swarms,
The dying numbers mocked the scanty skill
Of wearied surgeons,--crowding, crowding still,
With different small degrees of lingering breath,
Asking for instant aid, or choked in death.
Order, and cleanliness, and thought, and care,
The hush of quiet, or the sound of prayer,
These things were not:--nor, from the exhausted store,
Medicines and balms, to help the troubling sore;
Nor soft cool lint, like dew on parched-up ground,
Clothing the weary, burning, festering wound;
Nor delicate linen; nor fresh cooling drinks
To woo the fever-cracking lip which shrinks
Even from such solace; nor the presence blest
Of holy women watching broken rest,
And gliding past them through the wakeful night,
Like her whose Shadow made the soldier's light.
And as the three discoursed of things like these,
Sweet Gertrude felt her mind grow ill at ease.
The words of Claud,--that God took what was given
To teach their hearts to turn from earth to heaven;
The Prior's words, of tender mild appeal,
Teaching her how for others' woes to feel;
Weighed on her heart; till all the past life seemed
Thankless and thoughtless: and the lady dreamed
Of succour to the helpless, and of deeds
Pious and merciful, whose beauty breeds
Good deeds in others, copying what is done,
And ending all by earnest thought begun.
Nor idly dreamed. Where once the shifting throng
Of merry playmates met, with dance and song,--
Long rows of simple beds the place proclaim
A Hospital, in all things but the name.
In that same castle where the lavish feast
Lay spread, that fatal night, for many a guest,
The sickly poor are fed! Beneath that porch
Where Claud shed tears that seemed the lids to scorch,
Seeing her broken beauty carried by
Like a crushed flower that now has but to die,
The self-same Claud now stands and helps to guide
Some ragged wretch to rest and warmth inside.
But most to those, the hopeless ones, on whom
Early or late her own sad spoken doom,
Hath been pronounced; the Incurables; she spends
Her lavish pity, and their couch attends.
Her home is made their home; her wealth their dole;
Her busy courtyard hears no more the roll
Of gilded vehicles, or pawing steeds,
But feeble steps of those whose bitter needs
Are their sole passport. Through that gateway press
All varying forms of sickness and distress,
And many a poor worn face that hath not smiled
For years,--and many a feebled crippled child,--
Blesses the tall white portal where they stand,
And the dear Lady of the liberal hand.
Not in a day such happy change was brought;
Not in a day the works of mercy wrought:
But in God's gradual time. As Winter's chain
Melts from the earth and leaves it green again:
As the fresh bud a crimsoning beauty shows
From the black briars of a last year's rose:
So the full season of her love matures,
And her one illness breeds a thousand cures.
Her soft eyes looking into other eyes,
Bleared, and defaced to blinding cavities,
Weary not in their task; nor turn away
With a sick loathing from their glimmering ray.
Her small white comforting hand,--no longer hid
In pearl-embroidered gauntlet,--lifts the lid
Outworn with labour in the bitter fields,
And with a tender skill some healing yields;
Bathes the swoln redness,--shades unwelcome light;--
And into morning turns their threatening night.
And Claud, her eager Claud, with fervent heart,
Earnest in all things, nobly does his part;
His high intelligence hath mastered much
That baffled science: with a surgeon's touch
He treats,--himself,--the hurts from many a wound,
And, by deep study, novel cures hath found.
But good and frank and simple he remains,
Though a King's notice lauds successful pains;
And, echoing through his grateful country, fame
Sends to far nations noble Garaye's name.
Oh! loved and reverenced long that name shall be,
Though, crumbled on the soil of Brittany,
No stone, at last, of that pale Ruin shows
Where stood the gateway of his joys and woes.
For, in the Breton town, the good deeds done
Yield a fresh harvest still, from sire to son:
Still thrives the noble Hospital that gave
Shelter to those whom none from pain could save;
Still to the schools the ancient chiming clock
Calls the poor yeanlings of a simple flock:
Still the calm Refuge for the fallen and lost
(Whom love a blight and not a blessing crost,)
Sends out a voice to woo the grieving breast,--
Come unto me, ye weary, and find rest!
And still the gentle nurses,--vowed to give
Their aid to all who suffer and yet live,--
Go forth in show-white cap and sable gown,
Tending the sick and hungry in the town,
And show dim pictures on their quiet walls
Of those who dwelt in Garaye's ruined halls!
The Lady Of La Garaye - Part Ii
A FIRST walk after sickness: the sweet breeze
That murmurs welcome in the bending trees,
When the cold shadowy foe of life departs,
And the warm blood flows freely through our hearts:
The smell of roses,--sound of trickling streams,
The elastic turf cross-barred with golden gleams,
That seems to lift, and meet our faltering tread;
The happy birds, loud singing overhead;
The glorious range of distant shade and light,
In blue perspective, rapturous to our sight,
Weary of draperied curtains folding round,
And the monotonous chamber's narrow bound;
With,--best of all,--the consciousness at length,
In every nerve of sure returning strength:--
Long the dream stayed to cheer that darkened room,
That this should be the end of all that gloom!
Long, as the vacant life trained idly by,
She pressed her pillow with a restless sigh,--
'To-morrow, surely, I shall stronger feel!'
To-morrow! but the slow days onward steal,
And find her still with feverish aching head,
Still cramped with pain; still lingering in her bed;
Still sighing out the tedium of the time;
Still listening to the clock's recurring chime,
As though the very hours that struck were foes,
And might, but would not, grant complete respose.
Until the skilled physician,--sadly bold
From frequent questioning,--her sentence told!
That no good end could come to her faint yearning,--
That no bright hour should see her health returning,--
That changeful seasons,--not for one dark year,
But on through life,--must teach her how to bear:
For through all Springs, with rainbow-tinted showers,
And through all Summers, with their wealth of flowers,
And every Autumn, with its harvest-home,
And all white Winters of the time to come,--
Crooked and sick for ever she must be:
Her life of wild activity and glee
Was with the past, the future was a life
Dismal and feeble; full of suffering; rife
With chill denials of accustomed joy,
Continual torment, and obscure annoy.
Blighted in all her bloom,--her withered frame
Must now inherit age; young but in name.
Never could she, at close of some long day
Of pain that strove with hope, exulting lay
A tiny new-born infant on her breast,
And, in the soft lamp's glimmer, sink to rest,
The strange corporeal weakness sweetly blent
With a delicious dream of full content;
With pride of motherhood, and thankful prayers,
And a confused glad sense of novel cares,
And peeps into the future brightly given,
As though her babe's blue eyes turned earth to heaven!
Never again could she, when Claud returned
After brief absence, and her fond heart yearned
To see his earnest eyes, with upward glancing,
Greet her known windows, even while yet advancing,--
Fly with light footsteps down the great hall-stair,
And give him welcome in the open air
As though she were too glad to see him come,
To wait till he should enter happy home,
And there, quick-breathing, glowing, sparkling stand,
His arm round her slim waist; hand locked in hand;
The mutual kiss exchanged of happy greeting,
That needs no secrecy of lovers' meeting;
While, giving welcome also in their way,
Her dogs barked rustling round him, wild with play;
And voices called, and hasty steps replied,
And the sleek fiery steed was led aside,
And the grey seneschal came forth and smiled,
Who held him in his arms while yet a child;
And cheery jinglings from unfastened doors,
And vaulted echoes through long corridors,
And distant bells that thrill along the wires,
And stir of logs that heap up autumn fires,
Crowned the glad eager bustle that makes known
The Master's step is on his threshold-stone!
Never again those rides so gladly shared,
So much enjoyed,--in which so much was dared
To prove no peril from the gate or brook,--
Need bring the shadow of an anxious look,
To mar the pleasant ray of proud surprise
That shone from out those dear protecting eyes.
No more swift hurrying through the summer rain,
That showered light silver on the freshened plain,
Hung on the tassels of the hazel bough,
And plashed the azure of the river's flow.
No more glad climbing of the mountain height,
From whence a map, drawn out in lines of light,
Showed dotting villages, and distant spires,
And the red rows of metal-burning fires,
And purple covering woods, within which stand
White mansions of the nobles of the land.
No more sweet wanderings far from tread of men,
In the deep thickets of the sunny glen,
To see the vanished Spring bud forth again;
Its well remembered tufts of primrose set
Among the sheltered banks of violet;
Or in thatched summer-houses sit and dream,
Through gurgling gushes of the woodland stream;
Then, rested rise, and by the sunset ray
Saunter at will along the homeward way;
Pausing at each delight,--the singing loud
Of some sweet thrush, e'er lingering eve be done;
Or the pink shining of some casual cloud
That blushes deeper as it nears the sun.
The rough woodpath; the little rocky burn;
Nothing of this can ever now return.
The life of joy is over: what is left
Is a half life; a life of strength bereft;
The body broken from the yearning soul,
Never again to make a perfect whole!
Helpless desires, and cravings unfulfilled;
Bitter regret, in stormy weepings stilled;
Strivings whose easy effort used to bless,
Grown full of danger and sharp weariness;
This is the life whose dreadful dawn must rise
When the night lifts, within whose gloom she lies:
Hope, on whose lingering help she leaned so late,
Struck from her clinging by the sword of fate--
That wild word NEVER, to her shrinking gaze,
Seems written on the wall in fiery rays.
Never!--our helpless changeful natures shrink
Before that word as from the grave's cold brink!
Set us a term whereto we must endure,
And you shall find our crown of patience sure;
But the irrevocable smites us down;--
Helpless we lie before the eternal frown;
Waters of Marah whelm the blinded soul,
Stifle the heart, and drown our self-control.
So, when she heard the grave physician speak,
Horror crept through her veins, who, faint and weak,
And tortured by all motion, yet had lain
With a meek cheerfulness that conquered pain,
Hoping,--till that dark hour. Give back the hope,
Though years rise sad with intervening scope!
Scarce can those radiant eyes with sickly stare
Yet comprehend that sentence of despair:
Crooked and sick for ever! Crooked and sick!
She, in whose veins the passionate blood ran quick
As leaps the rivulet from the mountain height,
That dances rippling into Summer light;
She, in whose cheek the rich bloom always stayed,
And only deepened to a lovelier shade;
She, whose fleet limbs no exercise could tire,
When wild hill-climbing wooed her spirit higher!
Knell not above her bed this funeral chime;
Bid her be prisoner for a certain time;
Tell her blank years must waste in that changed home,
But not for ever,--not for life to come;
Let infinite torture be her daily guest,
But set a term beyond which shall be rest.
In vain! she sees that trembling fountain rise,
Tears of compassion in an old man's eyes;
And in low pitying tones, again he tells
The doom that sounds to her like funeral bells.
Long on his face her wistful gaze she kept;
Then dropped her head, and wildly moaned and wept;
Shivering through every limb, as lightning thought
Smote her with all the endless ruin wrought.
Never to be a mother! Never give
Another life beyond her own to live,
Never to see her husband bless their child,
Thinking (dear blessèd thought!) like him it smiled:
Never again with Claud to walk or ride,
Partake his pleasures with a playful pride,
But cease from all companionship so shared,
And only have the hours his pity spared.
His pity--ah! his pity, would it prove
As warm and lasting as admiring love?
Or would her petty joys' late-spoken doom
Carry the great joy with them to joy's tomb?
Would all the hopes of life at once take wing?
The thought went through her with a secret sting,
And she repeated, with a moaning cry,
'Better to die, O God! 'Twere best to die!'
But we die not by wishing; in God's hour,
And not our own, do we yield up the power
To suffer or enjoy. The broken heart
Creeps through the world, encumbered by its clay;
While dearly loved and cherished ones depart,
Though prayer and sore lamenting clog their way.
She lived: she left that sick room, and was brought
Into the scenes of customary thought:
The banquet-room, where lonely sunshine slept,
Saw her sweet eyes look round before she wept;
The garden heard the slow wheels of her chair,
When noon-day heat had warmed the untried air;
The pictures she had smiled upon for years,
Met her gaze trembling through a mist of tears;
Her favourite dog, his long unspoken name
Hearing once more, with timid fawning came;
It seemed as if all things partook her blight,
And sank in shadow like a spell of night.
And she saw Claud,--Claud in the open day,
Who through dim sunsets, curtained half away,
And by the dawn, and by the lamp's pale ray
So long had watched her!
And Claud also saw,
That beauty which was once without a flaw;
And flushed,--but strove to hide the sense of shock,--
The feelings that some witchcraft seemed to mock.
Are those her eyes, those eyes so full of pain?
Her restless looks that hunt for ease in vain?
Is that her step, that halt uneven tread?
Is that her blooming cheek, so pale and dead?
Is that,--the querulous anxious mind that tells
Its little ills, and on each ailment dwells,--
The spirit alert which early morning stirred
Even as it rouses every gladsome bird,
Whose chorus of irregular music goes
Up with the dew that leaves the sun-touched rose?
Oh! altered, altered; even the smile is gone,
Which, like a sunbeam, once exulting shone!
Smiles have returned; but not the smiles of yore;
The joy, the youth, the triumph, are no more.
An anxious smile remains, that disconnects
Smiling from gladness; one that more dejects,
Than floods of passionate weeping, for it tries
To contradict the question of our eyes:
We say, 'Thou'rt pained, poor heart, and full of woe?'
It drops that shining veil, and answers 'No;'
Shrinks from the touch of unaccepted hands,
And while it grieves, a show of joy commands.
Wan shine such smiles;--as evening sunlight falls
On a deserted house whose empty walls
No longer echo to the children's play
Or voice of ruined inmates fled away;
Where wintry winds alone, with idle state,
Move the slow swinging of its rusty gate.
But something sadder even than her pain
Torments her now; and thrills each languid vein.
Love's tender instinct feels through every nerve
When love's desires, or love itself doth swerve.
All the world's praise re-echoed to the sky
Cancels not blame that shades a lover's eye;
All the world's blame, which scorn for scorn repays,
Fails to disturb the joy of lover's praise.
Ah! think not vanity alone doth deck
Wtih rounded pearls the young girl's innocent neck,
Who in her duller days contented tries
The homely robe that with no rival vies,
But on the happy night she hopes to meet
The one to whom she comes with trembling feet,
With crimson roses decks her bosom fair,
Warm as the thoughts of love all glowing there,
Because she must his favourite colours wear;
And all the bloom and beauty of her youth
Can scarce repay, she thinks, her lover's truth.
Vain is the argument so often moved,
'Who feels no jealousy hath never loved;'
She whose quick fading comes before her tomb,
Is jealous even of her former bloom.
Restless she pines; because, to her distress,
One charm the more is now one claim the less
On his regard whose words are her chief treasures,
And by whose love alone her worth she measures.
Gertrude of La Garaye, thy heart is sore;
A worm is gnawing at the rose's core,
A doubt corrodeth all thy tender trust,
The freshness of thy day is choked in dust.
Not for the pain--although the pain be great,
Not for the change--though changed be all thy state;
But for a sorrow dumb and unrevealed,
Most from its cause with mournful care concealed--
From Claud--who goes and who returns with sighs
And gazes on his wife with wistful eyes,
And muses in his brief and cheerless rides
If her dull mood will mend; and inly chides
His own sad spirit, that sinks down so low,
Instead of lifting her from all her woe;
And thinks if he but loved her less, that he
Could cheer her drooping soul with gaiety--
But wonders evermore that Beauty's loss
To such a soul should seem so sore a cross.
Until one evening in that quiet hush
That lulls the falling day, when all the gush
Of various sounds seem buried with the sun,
He told his thought.
As winter streamlets run,
Freed by some sudden thaw, and swift make way
Into the natural channels where they play,
So leaped her young heart to his tender tone,
So, answering to his warmth, resumed her own;
And all her doubt and all her grief confest,
Leaning her faint head on his faithful breast.
'Not always, Claud, did I my beauty prize;
Thy words first made it precious in my eyes,
And till thy fond voice made the gift seem rare,
Nor tongue nor mirror taught me I was fair.
I recked no more of beauty in that day
Of happy girlishness and childlike play,
Than some poor woodland bird who stays his flight
On some low bough when summer days are bright,
And in that pleasant sunshine sits and sings,
And breaks the plumage of his glistening wings,
Recks of the passer-by who stands to praise
His feathered smoothness and his thrilling lays.
But now, I make my moan--I make my moan--
I weep the brightness lost, the beauty gone;
Because, now, fading is to fall from thee,
As the dead fruit falls blighted from the tree;
For thee,--not vanished loveliness,--I weep;
My beauty was a spell, thy love to keep;
For I have heard and read how men forsake
When time and tears that gift of beauty take,
Nor care although the heart they leave may break!'
A husband's love was there--a husband's love,--
Strong, comforting, all other loves above;
On her bowed neck he laid his tender hand,
And his voice steadied to his soul's command:
'Oh! thou mistaken and unhappy child,
Still thy complainings, for thy words are wild.
Thy beauty, though so perfect, was but one
Of the bright ripples dancing to the sun,
Which, from the hour I hoped to call thee wife,
Glanced down the silver stream of happy life.
Whatever change Time's heavy clouds may make,
Those are the waters which my thirst shall slake;
River of all my hopes thou wert and art;
The current of thy being bears my heart;
Whether it sweep along in shine or shade,
By barren rocks, or banks in flowers arrayed,
Foam with the storm, or glide in soft repose,--
In that deep channel, love unswerving flows!
How canst thou dream of beauty as a thing
On which depends the heart's own withering?
Lips budding red wth tints of vernal years,
And delicate lids of eyes that shed no tears,
And light that falls upon the shining hair
As though it found a second sunbeam there,--
These must go by, my Gertrude, must go by;
The leaf must wither and the flower must die;
The rose can only have a rose's bloom;
Age would have wrought thy wondrous beauty's doom;
A little sooner did that beauty go--
A little sooner--Darling, take it so;
Nor add a strange despair to all this woe;
And take my faith, by changes unremoved,
To thy last hour of age and blight, beloved!'
But she again,--'Alas! not from distrust
I mourn, dear Claud, nor yet to thee unjust.
I love thee: I believe thee: yea, I know
Thy very soul is wrung to see my woe;
The earthquake of compassion trembles still
Within its depths, and conquers natural will.
But after,--after,--when the shock is past,--
When cruel Time, who flies to change so fast,
Hath made my suffering an accustomed thing,
And only left me slowly withering;
Then will the empty days rise chill and lorn,
The lonely evening, the unwelcome morn,
Until thy path at length be brightly crost
By some one holding all that I have lost;
Some one with youthful eyes, enchanting, bright,
Full as the morning of a liquid light;
And while my pale lip stiff and sad remains,
Her smiles shall thrill like sunbeams through thy veins:
I shall fade down, and she, with simple art,
All bloom and beauty, dance into thy heart!
Then, then, my Claud, shall I--at length alone--
Recede from thee with an unnoticed moan,
Sink where none heed me, and be seen no more,
Like waves that fringe the Netherlandish shore,
Which roll unmurmuring to the flat low land,
And sigh to death in that monotonous sand.'
Again his earnest hand on hers he lays,
With love and pain and wonder in his gaze.
'Oh, darling! bitter word and bitter thought
What dæmon to thy trusting heart hath brought?
It may be thus within some sensual breast,
By passion's fire, not true love's power possest;
The creature love, that never lingers late,
A springtide thirst for some chance-chosen mate.
Oh! my companion, 'twas not so with me;
Not in the days long past, nor now shall be.
The drunken dissolute hour of Love's sweet cup,
When eyes are wild, and mantling blood is up,
Even in my youth to me was all unknown:
Until I truly loved, I was alone.
I asked too much of intellect and grace,
To pine, though young, for every pretty face,
Whose passing brightness to quick fancies made
A sort of sunshine in the idle shade;
Beauties who starred the earth like common flowers,
The careless eglantines of wayside bowers.
I lingered till some blossom rich and rare
Hung like a glory on the scented air,
Enamouring at once the heart and eye,
So that I paused, and could not pass it by.
Then woke the passionate love within my heart,
And only with my life shall that depart;
'Twas not so sensual strong, so loving weak,
To ebb when ebbs the rose-tinge on thy cheek;
Fade with thy fading, weakening day by day
Till thy locks silver with a dawning grey:
No, Gertrude, trust me, for thou may'st believe,
A better faith is that which I receive;
Sacred I'll hold the sacred name of wife,
And love thee to the sunset verge of life!
Yea, shall so much of empire o'er man's soul
Live in a wanton's smile, and no control
Bind down his heart to keep a steadier faith,
For links that are to last from life to death?
Let those who can, in transient love rejoice,--
Still to new hopes breathe forth successive sighs,--
Give me the music of the accustomed voice,
And the sweet light of long familiar eyes!'
He ceased. But she, for all her fervent speech,
Sighed as she listened. 'Claud, I cannot reach
The summit of the hope where thou wouldst set me,
And all I crave is never to forget me!
Wedded I am to pain and not to thee,
Thy life's companion I no more can be,
For thou remainest all thou wert--but I
Am a fit bride for Death, and long to die.
Yea, long for death; for thou wouldst miss me then
More even than now, in mountain and in glen;
And musing by the white tomb where I lay,
Think of the happier time and earlier day,
And wonder if the love another gave
Equalled the passion buried in that grave.'
Then with a patient tenderness he took
That pale wife in his arms, with yearning look:
'Oh! dearer now than when thy girlish tongue
Faltered consent to love while both were young,
Weep no more foolish tears, but lift thy head;
Those drops fall on my heart like molten lead;
And all my soul is full of vain remorse,
Because I let thee take that dangerous course,
Share in the chase, pursue with horn and hound,
And follow madly o'er the roughened ground.
Not lightly did I love, nor lightly choose;
Whate'er thou losest I will also lose;
If bride of Death,--being first my chosen bride,--
I will await death, lingering by thy side;
And God, He knows, who reads all human thought,
And by whose will this bitter hour was brought,
How eagerly, could human pain be shifted,
I would lie low, and thou once more be lifted
To walk in beauty as thou didst before,
And smile upon the welcome world once more.
Oh! loved even to the brim of love's full fount,
Wilt thou set nothing to firm faith's account?
Choke back thy tears which are thy bitter smart,
Lean thy dear head upon my aching heart;
It may be God, who saw our careless life,
Not sinful, yet not blameless, my sweet wife,
(Since all we thought of, in our youth's bright May,
Was but the coming joy from day to day
Hath blotted out all joy to bid us learn
That this is not our home; and make us turn
From the enchanted earth, where much was given,
To higher aims, and a forgotten heaven.'
So spoke her love--and wept in spite of words;
While her heart echoed all his heart's accords,
And leaning down, she said with whispering sigh,
'I sinned, my Claud, in wishing so to die.'
Then they, who oft in Love's delicious bowers
Had fondly wasted glad and passionate hours,
Kissed with a mutual moan:--but o'er their lips
Love's light passed clear, from under Life's eclipse.
A Voice From The Factories
WHEN fallen man from Paradise was driven,
Forth to a world of labour, death, and care;
Still, of his native Eden, bounteous Heaven
Resolved one brief memorial to spare,
And gave his offspring an imperfect share
Of that lost happiness, amid decay;
Making their first approach to life seem fair,
And giving, for the Eden past away,
CHILDHOOD, the weary life's long happy holyday.
Sacred to heavenly peace, those years remain!
And when with clouds their dawn is overcast,
Unnatural seem the sorrow and the pain
(Which rosy joy flies forth to banish fast,
Because that season's sadness may not last).
Light is their grief! a word of fondness cheers
The unhaunted heart; the shadow glideth past;
Unknown to them the weight of boding fears,
And soft as dew on flowers their bright, ungrieving tears.
See the Stage-Wonder (taught to earn its bread
By the exertion of an infant skill),
Forsake the wholesome slumbers of its bed,
And mime, obedient to the public will.
Where is the heart so cold that does not thrill
With a vexatious sympathy, to see
That child prepare to play its part, and still
With simulated airs of gaiety
Rise to the dangerous rope, and bend the supple knee?
Painted and spangled, trembling there it stands,
Glances below for friend or father's face,
Then lifts its small round arms and feeble hands
With the taught movements of an artist's grace:
Leaves its uncertain gilded resting-place--
Springs lightly as the elastic cord gives way--
And runs along with scarce perceptible pace--
Like a bright bird upon a waving spray,
Fluttering and sinking still, whene'er the branches play.
Now watch! a joyless and distorted smile
Its innocent lips assume; (the dancer's leer!)
Conquering its terror for a little while:
Then lets the TRUTH OF INFANCY appear,
And with a stare of numbed and childish fear
Looks sadly towards the audience come to gaze
On the unwonted skill which costs so dear,
While still the applauding crowd, with pleased amaze,
Ring through its dizzy ears unwelcome shouts of praise.
What is it makes us feel relieved to see
That hapless little dancer reach the ground;
With its whole spirit's elasticity
Thrown into one glad, safe, triumphant bound?
Why are we sad, when, as it gazes round
At that wide sea of paint, and gauze, and plumes,
(Once more awake to sense, and sight, and sound,)
The nature of its age it re-assumes,
And one spontaneous smile at length its face illumes?
Because we feel, for Childhood's years and strength,
Unnatural and hard the task hath been;--
Because our sickened souls revolt at length,
And ask what infant-innocence may mean,
Thus toiling through the artificial scene;--
Because at that word, CHILDHOOD, start to birth
All dreams of hope and happiness serene--
All thoughts of innocent joy that visit earth--
Prayer--slumber--fondness--smiles--and hours of rosy mirth.
And therefore when we hear the shrill faint cries
Which mark the wanderings of the little sweep;
Or when, with glittering teeth and sunny eyes,
The boy-Italian's voice, so soft and deep,
Asks alms for his poor marmoset asleep;
They fill our hearts with pitying regret,
Those little vagrants doomed so soon to weep--
As though a term of joy for all was set,
And that their share of Life's long suffering was not yet.
Ever a toiling child doth make us sad:
'T is an unnatural and mournful sight,
Because we feel their smiles should be so glad,
Because we know their eyes should be so bright.
What is it, then, when, tasked beyond their might,
They labour all day long for others' gain,--
Nay, trespass on the still and pleasant night,
While uncompleted hours of toil remain?
Poor little FACTORY SLAVES--for You these lines complain!
Beyond all sorrow which the wanderer knows,
Is that these little pent-up wretches feel;
Where the air thick and close and stagnant grows,
And the low whirring of the incessant wheel
Dizzies the head, and makes the senses reel:
There, shut for ever from the gladdening sky,
Vice premature and Care's corroding seal
Stamp on each sallow cheek their hateful die,
Line the smooth open brow, and sink the saddened eye.
For them the fervid summer only brings
A double curse of stifling withering heat;
For them no flowers spring up, no wild bird sings,
No moss-grown walks refresh their weary feet;--
No river's murmuring sound;--no wood-walk, sweet
With many a flower the learned slight and pass;--
Nor meadow, with pale cowslips thickly set
Amid the soft leaves of its tufted grass,--
Lure them a childish stock of treasures to amass.
Have we forgotten our own infancy,
That joys so simple are to them denied?--
Our boyhood's hopes--our wanderings far and free,
Where yellow gorse-bush left the common wide
And open to the breeze?--The active pride
Which made each obstacle a pleasure seem;
When, rashly glad, all danger we defied,
Dashed through the brook by twilight's fading gleam,
Or scorned the tottering plank, and leapt the narrow stream?
In lieu of this,--from short and bitter night,
Sullen and sad the infant labourer creeps;
He joys not in the glow of morning's light,
But with an idle yearning stands and weeps,
Envying the babe that in its cradle sleeps:
And ever as he slowly journeys on,
His listless tongue unbidden silence keeps;
His fellow-labourers (playmates hath he none)
Walk by, as sad as he, nor hail the morning sun.
Mark the result. Unnaturally debarred
All nature's fresh and innocent delights,
While yet each germing energy strives hard,
And pristine good with pristine evil fights;
When every passing dream the heart excites,
And makes even guarded virtue insecure;
Untaught, unchecked, they yield as vice invites:
With all around them cramped, confined, impure,
Fast spreads the moral plague which nothing new shall cure.
Yes, this reproach is added; (infamous
In realms which own a Christian monarch's sway!)
Not suffering only is their portion, thus
Compelled to toil their youthful lives away:
Excessive labour works the SOUL'S decay--
Quenches the intellectual light within--
Crushes with iron weight the mind's free play--
Steals from us LEISURE purer thoughts to win--
And leaves us sunk and lost in dull and native sin.
Yet in the British Senate men rise up,
(The freeborn and the fathers of our land!)
And while these drink the dregs of Sorrow's cup,
Deny the sufferings of the pining band.
With nice-drawn calculations at command,
They prove--rebut--explain--and reason long;
Proud of each shallow argument they stand,
And prostitute their utmost powers of tongue
Feebly to justify this great and glaring wrong.
So rose, with such a plausible defence
Of the unalienable RIGHT OF GAIN,
Those who against Truth's brightest eloquence
Upheld the cause of torture and of pain:
And fear of Property's Decrease made vain,
For years, the hope of Christian Charity
To lift the curse from SLAVERY'S dark domain,
And send across the wide Atlantic sea
The watchword of brave men--the thrilling shout, 'BE FREE!'
What is to be a slave? Is't not to spend
A life bowed down beneath a grinding ill?--
To labour on to serve another's end,--
To give up leisure, health, and strength, and skill--
And give up each of these against your will?
Hark to the angry answer:--'Theirs is not
A life of slavery; if they labour,--still
We pay their toil. Free service is their lot;
And what their labour yields, by us is fairly got.'
Oh, Men! blaspheme not Freedom! Are they free
Who toil until the body's strength gives way?
Who may not set a term for Liberty,
Who have no time for food, or rest, or play,
But struggle through the long unwelcome day
Without the leisure to be good or glad?
Such is their service--call it what you may.
Poor little creatures, overtasked and sad,
Your Slavery hath no name,--yet is its Curse as bad!
Again an answer. ''T is their parents' choice.
By some employ the poor man's child must earn
Its daily bread; and infants have no voice
In what the allotted task shall be: they learn
What answers best, or suits the parents' turn.'
Mournful reply! Do not your hearts inquire
Who tempts the parents' penury? They yearn
Toward their offspring with a strong desire,
But those who starve will sell, even what they most require.
We grant their class must labour--young and old;
We grant the child the needy parents' tool:
But still our hearts a better plan behold;
No bright Utopia of some dreaming fool,
But rationally just, and good by rule.
Not against TOIL, but TOIL'S EXCESS we pray,
(Else were we nursed in Folly's simplest school);
That so our country's hardy children may
Learn not to loathe, but bless, the well apportioned day.
One more reply! The last reply--the great
Answer to all that sense or feeling shows,
To which all others are subordinate:--
'The Masters of the Factories must lose
By the abridgement of these infant woes.
Show us the remedy which shall combine
Our equal gain with their increased repose--
Which shall not make our trading class repine,
But to the proffered boon its strong effects confine.'
Oh! shall it then be said that TYRANT acts
Are those which cause our country's looms to thrive?
That Merchant England's prosperous trade exacts
This bitter sacrifice, e'er she derive
That profit due, for which the feeble strive?
Is her commercial avarice so keen,
That in her busy multitudinous hive
Hundreds must die like insects, scarcely seen,
While the thick-thronged survivors work where they have been?
Forbid it, Spirit of the glorious Past
Which gained our Isle the surname of 'The Free,'
And made our shores a refuge at the last
To all who would not bend the servile knee,
The vainly-vanquished sons of Liberty!
Here ever came the injured, the opprest,
Compelled from the Oppressor's face to flee--
And found a home of shelter and of rest
In the warm generous heart that beat in England's breast.
Here came the Slave, who straightway burst his chain,
And knew that none could ever bind him more;
Here came the melancholy sons of Spain;
And here, more buoyant Gaul's illustrious poor
Waited the same bright day that shone before.
Here rests the Enthusiast Pole! and views afar
With dreaming hope, from this protecting shore,
The trembling rays of Liberty's pale star
Shine forth in vain to light the too-unequal war!
And shall REPROACH cling darkly to the name
Which every memory so much endears?
Shall we, too, tyrannise,--and tardy Fame
Revoke the glory of our former years,
And stain Britannia's flag with children's tears?
So shall the mercy of the English throne
Become a by-word in the Nation's ears,
As one who pitying heard the stranger's groan,
But to these nearer woes was cold and deaf as stone.
Are there not changes made which grind the Poor?
Are there not losses every day sustained,--
Deep grievances, which make the spirit sore?
And what the answer, when these have complained?
'For crying evils there hath been ordained
The REMEDY OF CHANGE; to obey its call
Some individual loss must be disdained,
And pass as unavoidable and small,
Weighed with the broad result of general good to all.'
Oh! such an evil now doth cry aloud!
And CHANGE should be by generous hearts begun,
Though slower gain attend the prosperous crowd;
Lessening the fortunes for their children won.
Why should it grieve a father, that his son
Plain competence must moderately bless?
That he must trade, even as his sire has done,
Not born to independent idleness,
Though honestly above all probable distress?
Rejoice! Thou hast not left enough of gold
From the lined heavy ledger, to entice
His drunken hand, irresolutely bold,
To squander it in haggard haunts of vice:--
The hollow rattling of the uncertain dice
Eats not the portion which thy love bestowed;--
Unable to afford that PLEASURE'S price,
Far off he slumbers in his calm abode,
And leaves the Idle Rich to follow Ruin's road.
Happy his lot! For him there shall not be
The cold temptation given by vacant time;
Leaving his young and uncurbed spirit free
To wander thro' the feverish paths of crime!
For him the Sabbath bell's returning chime
Not vainly ushers in God's day of rest;
No night of riot clouds the morning's prime:
Alert and glad, not languid and opprest,
He wakes, and with calm soul is the Creator blest.
Ye save for children! Fathers, is there not
A plaintive magic in the name of child,
Which makes you feel compassion for their lot
On whom Prosperity hath never smiled?
When with your OWN an hour hath been beguiled
(For whom you hoard the still increasing store),
Surely, against the face of Pity mild,
Heart-hardening Custom vainly bars the door,
For that less favoured race--THE CHILDREN OF THE POOR.
'The happy homes of England!'--they have been
A source of triumph, and a theme for song;
And surely if there be a hope serene
And beautiful, which may to Earth belong,
'T is when (shut out the world's associate throng,
And closed the busy day's fatiguing hum),
Still waited for with expectation strong,
Welcomed with joy, and overjoyed to come,
The good man goes to seek the twilight rest of home.
There sits his gentle Wife, who with him knelt
Long years ago at God's pure altar-place;
Still beautiful,--though all that she hath felt
Hath calmed the glory of her radiant face,
And given her brow a holier, softer grace.
Mother of SOULS IMMORTAL, she doth feel
A glow from Heaven her earthly love replace;
Prayer to her lip more often now doth steal,
And meditative hope her serious eyes reveal.
Fondly familiar is the look she gives
As he returns, who forth so lately went,--
For they together pass their happy lives;
And many a tranquil evening have they spent
Since, blushing, ignorantly innocent,
She vowed, with downcast eyes and changeful hue,
To love Him only. Love fulfilled, hath lent
Its deep repose; and when he meets her view,
Her soft look only says,--'I trust--and I am true.'
Scattered like flowers, the rosy children play--
Or round her chair a busy crowd they press;
But, at the FATHER'S coming, start away,
With playful struggle for his loved caress,
And jealous of the one he first may bless.
To each, a welcoming word is fondly said;
He bends and kisses some; lifts up the less;
Admires the little cheek, so round and red,
Or smooths with tender hand the curled and shining head.
Oh! let us pause, and gaze upon them now.
Is there not one--beloved and lovely boy!
With Mirth's bright seal upon his open brow,
And sweet fond eyes, brimful of love and joy?
He, whom no measure of delight can cloy,
The daring and the darling of the set;
He who, though pleased with every passing toy,
Thoughtless and buoyant to excess, could yet
Never a gentle word or kindly deed forget?
And one, more fragile than the rest, for whom--
As for the weak bird in a crowded nest--
Are needed all the fostering care of home
And the soft comfort of the brooding breast:
One, who hath oft the couch of sickness prest!
On whom the Mother looks, as it goes by,
With tenderness intense, and fear supprest,
While the soft patience of her anxious eye
Blends with 'God's will be done,'--'God grant thou may'st not die!'
And is there not the elder of the band?
She with the gentle smile and smooth bright hair,
Waiting, some paces back,--content to stand
Till these of Love's caresses have their share;
Knowing how soon his fond paternal care
Shall seek his violet in her shady nook,--
Patient she stands--demure, and brightly fair--
Copying the meekness of her Mother's look,
And clasping in her hand the favourite story-book.
Wake, dreamer!--Choose;--to labour Life away,
Which of these little precious ones shall go
(Debarred of summer-light and cheerful play)
To that receptacle for dreary woe,
The Factory Mill?--Shall He, in whom the glow
Of Life shines bright, whose free limbs' vigorous tread
Warns us how much of beauty that we know
Would fade, when he became dispirited,
And pined with sickened heart, and bowed his fainting head?
Or shall the little quiet one, whose voice
So rarely mingles in their sounds of glee,
Whose life can bid no living thing rejoice,
But rather is a long anxiety;--
Shall he go forth to toil? and keep the free
Frank boy, whose merry shouts and restless grace
Would leave all eyes that used his face to see,
Wistfully gazing towards that vacant space
Which makes their fireside seem a lone and dreary place?
Or, sparing these, send Her whose simplest words
Have power to charm,--whose warbled, childish song,
Fluent and clear and bird-like, strikes the chords
Of sympathy among the listening throng,--
Whose spirits light, and steps that dance along,
Instinctive modesty and grace restrain:
The fair young innocent who knows no wrong,--
Whose slender wrists scarce hold the silken skein
Which the glad Mother winds;--shall She endure this pain?
Away! The thought--the thought alone brings tears!
THEY labour--they, the darlings of our lives!
The flowers and the sunbeams of our fleeting years;
From whom alone our happiness derives
A lasting strength, which every shock survives;
The green young trees beneath whose arching boughs
(When failing Energy no longer strives,)
Our wearied age shall find a cool repose;--
THEY toil in torture!--No--the painful picture close.
Ye shudder,--nor behold the vision more!
Oh, Fathers! is there then one law for these,
And one for the pale children of the Poor,--
That to their agony your hearts can freeze;
Deny their pain, their toil, their slow disease;
And deem with false complaining they encroach
Upon your time and thought? Is yours the Ease
Which misery vainly struggles to approach,
Whirling unthinking by, in Luxury's gilded coach?
Examine and decide. Watch through his day
One of these little ones. The sun hath shone
An hour, and by the ruddy morning's ray,
The last and least, he saunters on alone.
See where, still pausing on the threshold stone,
He stands, as loth to lose the bracing wind;
With wistful wandering glances backward thrown
On all the light and glory left behind,
And sighs to think that HE must darkly be confined!
Enter with him. The stranger who surveys
The little natives of that dreary place
(Where squalid suffering meets his shrinking gaze),
Used to the glory of a young child's face,
Its changeful light, its coloured sparkling grace,
(Gleams of Heaven's sunshine on our shadowed earth!)
Starts at each visage wan, and bold, and base,
Whose smiles have neither innocence nor mirth,--
And comprehends the Sin original from birth.
There the pale Orphan, whose unequal strength
Loathes the incessant toil it must pursue,
Pines for the cool sweet evening's twilight length,
The sunny play-hour, and the morning's dew:
Worn with its cheerless life's monotonous hue,
Bowed down, and faint, and stupefied it stands;
Each half-seen object reeling in its view--
While its hot, trembling, languid little hands
Mechanically heed the Task-master's commands.
There, sounds of wailing grief and painful blows
Offend the ear, and startle it from rest;
(While the lungs gasp what air the place bestows
Or misery's joyless vice, the ribald jest,
Breaks the sick silence: staring at the guest
Who comes to view their labour, they beguile
The unwatched moment; whispers half supprest
And mutterings low, their faded lips defile,--
While gleams from face to face a strange and sullen smile.
These then are his Companions: he, too young
To share their base and saddening merriment,
Sits by: his little head in silence hung;
His limbs cramped up; his body weakly bent;
Toiling obedient, till long hours so spent
Produce Exhaustion's slumber, dull and deep.
The Watcher's stroke,--bold--sudden--violent,--
Urges him from that lethargy of sleep,
And bids him wake to Life,--to labour and to weep!
But the day hath its End. Forth then he hies
With jaded, faltering step, and brow of pain;
Creeps to that shed,--his HOME,--where happy lies
The sleeping babe that cannot toil for Gain;
Where his remorseful Mother tempts in vain
With the best portion of their frugal fare:
Too sick to eat--too weary to complain--
He turns him idly from the untasted share,
Slumbering sinks down unfed, and mocks her useless care.
Weeping she lifts, and lays his heavy head
(With a woman's grieving tenderness)
On the hard surface of his narrow bed;
Bends down to give a sad unfelt caress,
And turns away;--willing her God to bless,
That, weary as he is, he need not fight
Against that long-enduring bitterness,
The VOLUNTARY LABOUR of the Night,
But sweetly slumber on till day's returning light.
Vain hope! Alas! unable to forget
The anxious task's long, heavy agonies,
In broken sleep the victim labours yet!
Waiting the boding stroke that bids him rise,
He marks in restless fear each hour that flies--
Anticipates the unwelcome morning prime--
And murmuring feebly, with unwakened eyes,
'Mother! Oh Mother! is it yet THE TIME?'--
Starts at the moon's pale ray--or clock's far distant chime.
Such is his day and night! Now then return
Where your OWN slumber in protected ease;
They whom no blast may pierce, no sun may burn;
The lovely, on whose cheeks the wandering breeze
Hath left the rose's hue. Ah! not like these
Does the pale infant-labourer ask to be:
He craves no tempting food--no toys to please--
Not Idleness,--but less of agony;
Not Wealth,--but comfort, rest, CONTENTED POVERTY.
There is, among all men, in every clime,
A difference instinctive and unschooled:
God made the MIND unequal. From all time
By fierceness conquered, or by cunning fooled,
The World hath had its Rulers and its Ruled:--
Yea--uncompelled--men abdicate free choice,
Fear their own rashness, and, by thinking cooled,
Follow the counsel of some trusted voice;--
A self-elected sway, wherein their souls rejoice.
Thus, for the most part, willing to obey,
Men rarely set Authority at naught:
Albeit a weaker or a worse than they
May hold the rule with such importance fraught:
And thus the peasant, from his cradle taught
That some must own, while some must till the land,
Rebels not--murmurs not--even in his thought.
Born to his lot, he bows to high command,
And guides the furrowing plough with a contented hand.
But, if the weight which habit renders light
Is made to gall the Serf who bends below--
The dog that watched and fawned, prepares to bite!
Too rashly strained, the cord snaps from the bow--
Too tightly curbed, the steeds their riders throw--
And so, (at first contented his fair state
Of customary servitude to know,)
Too harshly ruled, the poor man learns to hate
And curse the oppressive law that bids him serve the Great.
THEN first he asks his gloomy soul the CAUSE
Of his discomfort; suddenly compares--
Reflects--and with an angry Spirit draws
The envious line between his lot and theirs,
Questioning the JUSTICE of the unequal shares.
And from the gathering of this discontent,
Where there is strength, REVOLT his standard rears;
Where there is weakness, evermore finds vent
The sharp annoying cry of sorrowful complaint.
Therefore should Mercy, gentle and serene,
Sit by the Ruler's side, and share his Throne:--
Watch with unerring eye the passing scene,
And bend her ear to mark the feeblest groan;
Lest due Authority be overthrown,
And they that ruled perceive (too late confest!)
Permitted Power might still have been their own,
Had they but watched that none should be opprest--
No just complaint despised--no WRONG left unredrest.
Nor should we, Christians in a Christian land,
Forget who smiled on helpless infancy,
And blest them with divinely gentle hand.--
'Suffer that little children come to me:'
Such were His words to whom we bow the knee!
These to our care the Saviour did commend;
And shall we His bequest treat carelessly,
Who yet our full protection would extend
To the lone Orphan child left by an Earthly Friend?
No! rather what the Inspired Law imparts
To guide our ways, and make our path more sure;
Blending with Pity (native to our hearts),
Let us to these, who patiently endure
Neglect, and penury, and toil, secure
The innocent hopes that to their age belong:
So, honouring Him, the Merciful and Pure,
Who watches when the Oppressor's arm grows strong,--
And helpeth them to right--the Weak--who suffer wrong!
The Child Of The Islands - Spring
WHAT shalt THOU know of Spring? A verdant crown
Of young boughs waving o'er thy blooming head:
White tufted Guelder-roses, showering down
A fairy snow-path where thy footsteps tread:
Fragrance and balm,--which purple violets shed:
Wild-birds,--sweet warbling in commingled song:
Brooklets,--thin murmuring down their pebbly bed;
Or more abundant rivers,--swept along
With shoals of tiny fish, in many a silver throng!
To THEE shall be unknown that weary pain,
The feverish thirsting for a breath of air,--
Which chokes the heart of those who sigh in vain
For respite, in their round of toil and care:
Who never gaze on Nature fresh and fair,
Nor in sweet leisure wile an hour away;
But, like caged creatures, sullenly despair,
As day monotonously follows day,
Till youth wears on to age, and strength to faint decay.
A feeble girl sits working all alone!
A ruined Farmer's orphan; pale and weak;
Her early home to wealthier strangers gone,
No rural beauty lingers on her cheek;
Her woe-worn looks a woeful heart bespeak;
Though in her dull, and rarely lifted eye,
(Whose glances nothing hope, and nothing seek,)
Those who have time for pity, might descry
A thousand shattered gleams of merriment gone by!
Her window-sill some sickly plants adorn,
(Poor links to memories sweet of Nature's green!)
There to the City's smoke-polluted morn
The primrose lifts its leaves, with buds between,
'Minished and faint, as though their life had been
Nipped by long pining and obscure regret;
Torn from the sunny bank where erst were seen
Lovely and meek companions, thickly set,--
The cowslip, rich in scent, and humble violet!
Too fanciful! the plant but pines, like her,
For purer air; for sunbeams warm and kind;
Th' enlivening joy of nature's busy stir,
The rural freedom, long since left behind!
For the fresh woodlands,--for the summer wind,--
The open fields with perfumed clover spread;--
The hazel copse,--whose branches intertwined
Made natural bow'rs and arches overhead,
With many a narrow path, where only two could tread.
Never, oh! never more, shall these afford
Her stifled heart their innocent delight!
Never, oh! never more, the rich accord
Of feathered songsters make her morning bright!
Earning scant bread, that finds no appetite,
The sapless life she toils for, lingers on;
And when at length it sinks in dreary night,
A shallow, careless grave is dug,--where none
Come round to bless her rest, whose ceaseless tasks are done!
And now, the devious threads her simple skill
Wove in a quaint device and flowery line,
Adorn some happier maid, whose wayward will
Was struck with wishing for the fair design:
Some 'curléd darling' of a lordly line,
Whose blooming cheek, through veils of texture rare,
Mantling with youth's warm blood is seen to shine;
While her light garments, draped with modest care,
Soft as a dove's white wings, float on the breezy air.
Oh, there is need for permanent belief
In the All-Equal World of Joy to come!
Need for such solace to the restless grief
And heavy troubles of our earthly home!
Else might our wandering reason blindly roam,
And ask, with all a heathen's discontent,
Why Joy's bright cup for some should sparkling foam,
While others, not less worthy, still lament,
And find the cup of tears the only portion sent!
But for the Christian's hope, how hard, how cold,
How bitterly unjust, our lot would seem!
How purposeless and sad, to young and old!
How like the struggles of a torturing dream,
When ghastly midnight bids us strive and scream!
All fades--all fleets--of which our hearts grow fond;
Pain presses on us to the last extreme,--
When lo! the dawn upriseth, clear beyond,
And, radiant from the East, forbids us to despond.
And many a crippled child, and aged man,
And withered crone, who once saw 'better days,'
With just enough of intellect to scan
This gracious truth; uncheered by human praise,
Patient plods through the thorn-encumbered ways:
Oh, trust God counts the hours through which they sigh,
While His green Spring eludes their suffering gaze,
And flowers along Earth's spangled bosom lie,
Whose barren bloom, for them, must unenjoyed pass by!
So lives the little Trapper underground;
No glittering sunshine streaks the oozy wall;
Not e'en a lamp's cold glimmer shineth round
Where he must sit (through summer days and all,
While in warm upper air the cuckoos call,)
For ever listening at the weary gate
Where echoes of the unseen footsteps fall.
Early he comes, and lingers long and late,
With savage men, whose blows his misery aggravate.
Yet sometimes, (for the heart of childhood is
A thing so pregnant with joy's blessed sun,
That all the dismal gloom that round him lies
Can scarce suffice to bid its rays begone)
In lieu of vain complaint, or peevish moan,
A feeble SONG the passing hour will mark!
Poor little nightingale! that sing'st alone,
Thy cage is very low, and bitter dark;
But God hears thee, who hears the glad upsoaring lark.
God seeth thee, who sees the prosperous proud
Into the sunshine of their joy go forth:
God marks thee, weak one, in the human crowd,
And judgeth all thy grief, (as all their mirth,)
Bird with the broken wing that trails on earth!
His angels watch thee, if none watch beside,
As faithfully--despite thy lowly birth--
As the child-royal of the queenly bride,
Or our belief is vain in Christ the Crucified!
In Christ! who made young children's guileless lives
The cherished objects of His love and care;
Who bade each sinner that for pardon strives,
Low, at Heaven's feet, a child-like heart lay bare;
Opening the world's great universal prayer
With these meek words: 'Our Father!' Strange, that we
The common blessings of His earth and air
Deny to those who, circling round His knee,
Embraced, in mortal life, His immortality!
Those 'common blessings!' In this chequered scene
How scant the gratitude we shew to God!
Is it, in truth, a privilege so mean
To wander with free footsteps o'er the sod,
See various blossoms paint the valley clod,
And all things into teeming beauty burst?
A miracle as great as Aaron's rod,
But that our senses, into dulness nurst,
Recurring Custom still with Apathy hath curst.
They who have rarest joy, know Joy's true measure;
They who most suffer, value Suffering's pause;
They who but seldom taste the simplest pleasure,
Kneel oftenest to the Giver and the Cause.
Heavy the curtains feasting Luxury draws,
To hide the sunset and the silver night;
While humbler hearts, when Care no longer gnaws,
And some rare holiday permits delight,
Lingering, with love would watch that earth-enchanting sight.
So sits the pallid weaver at his loom,
Copying the wreaths the artist-pencil drew;
In the dull confines of his cheerless room
Glisten those tints of rich and living hue.
The air is sweet, the grass is fresh with dew,
And feverish aches are throbbing in his veins,
But his are work-day Springs, and Summers too;
And if he quit his loom, he leaves his gains--
That gorgeous, glistering silk, designed with so much pains!
It shall be purchased as a robe of state
By some great lady, when his toil is done;
While on her will obsequious shopmen wait,
To shift its radiance in the flattering sun:
And as she, listless, eyes its beauty, none
Her brow shall darken, or her smile shall shade,
By a strange story--yet a common one--
Of tears that fell (but not on her brocade,)
And misery weakly borne while it was slowly made.
For while that silk the weaver's time beguiled,
His wife lay groaning on her narrow bed,
The suffering mother of a new-born child,
Without a cradle for its weakly head,
Or future certainty of coarsest bread;
Not, in that hour of Nature's sore affright,
A fire, or meal that either might be fed;
So, through the pauses of the dreadful night,
Patient they lay, and longed for morning's blessed light.
Not patient--no; I over-rate his strength
Who listened to the infant's wailing cry,
And mother's weary moan, until at length
He gave them echo with a broken sigh!
Daylight was dawning, and the loom stood nigh:
He looked on it, as though he would discern
If there was light enough to labour by.
What made his heart's-blood leap, and sink, in turn?
What, in that cold gloom caused his pallid cheek to burn?
What made him rise, with wild and sudden start?
Alas! the poor are weak, when they are tried!
(Can the rich say, that they, with steadfast heart,
Have all temptations constantly defied?)
He counts the value of that robe of pride;
And while the dawn clears up, that ushers in
His child's first morn on life's uncertain tide,
He keeps its birthday with a deed of sin,
And pawns his master's silk, bread for his wife to win.
Let none excuse the deed, for it was wrong:--
And since 'twas ruin to the wretch employed,
No doubt the hour's despair was wild and strong
Which left that loom of silken splendours void:
Let Virtue trust their meal was unenjoyed,
Eaten in trembling, drenched with bitterness,--
And that the faint uncertain hope which buoyed
His heart awhile, to hide his guilt's excess,
And get that silk redeemed, was vain, from his distress:
So that true Justice might pursue her course;
And the silk, finished by 'a different hand,'
Might in good time (delayed awhile perforce)
Be brought to clothe that lady of the land
Whom I behold as in a vision stand.
Lo! in my vision, on its folds are laid
The turquoise-circled fingers of her hand;
While by herself, and her attendant maid,
Its texture, soft and rich, is smiled on and surveyed.
Indifferent to her, the heavy cost
Of that rich robe, first pawned for one poor meal;
She that now wears it, and her lord, may boast
No payment made,--yet none dare say THEY steal!
No, not if future reckoning-hours reveal
Debts the encumbered heir can never pay;
But whose dishonest weight his heart shall feel
Through many a restless night and bitter day,
Hearing what cheated men of the bad dead will say.
Onward she moves, in Fashion's magic glass,
Half-strut, half-swim, she slowly saunters by:
A self-delighting, delicate, pampered mass
Of flesh indulged in every luxury
Folly can crave, or riches can supply:
Spangled with diamonds--head, and breast, and zone,
Scorn lighting up her else most vacant eye,
Careless of all conditions but her own,
She sweeps that stuff along, to curtsey to the throne.
That dumb woof tells no story! Silent droops
The gorgeous train, voluminously wide;
And while the lady's knee a moment stoops
(Mocking her secret heart, which swells with pride,)
No ragged shadow follows at her side
Into that royal presence, where her claim
To be admitted, is to be allied
To wealth, and station, and a titled name,--
No warning voice is heard to supplicate or blame.
Nor,--since by giving working hands employ,
Her very vanity must help their need
Whom, in her life of cold ungenerous joy,
She never learned to pity or to heed,--
Would sentence harsh from thoughtful minds proceed;
But that the poor man, dazzled, sees encroach
False lights upon his pathway, which mislead
Those who the subject of his wrongs would broach,
Till Rank a bye-word seems,--and Riches a reproach.
How oft some friendly voice shall vainly speak
The sound true lessons of Life's holier school;--
How much of wholesome influence prove weak,
Because one tinselled, gaudy, selfish fool,
Hath made the exception seem the practiced rule!
In Luxury, so prodigal of show,--
In Charity, so wary and so cool,--
That wealth appeared the poor man's open foe,
And all, of high estate, this language to avow:--
'A life of self-indulgence is for Us,
'A life of self-denial is for them;
'For Us the streets, broad-built and populous,
'For them, unhealthy corners, garrets dim,
'And cellars where the water-rat may swim!
'For Us, green paths refreshed by frequent rain,
'For them, dark alleys where the dust lies grim!
'Not doomed by Us to this appointed pain,--
'God made us, Rich and Poor--of what do these complain?'
Of what? Oh! not of Heaven's great law of old,
That brightest light must fall by deepest shade;
Not that they wander hungry, gaunt, and cold,
While others in smooth splendours are arrayed;
Not that from gardens where they would have strayed
You shut them out, as though a miser's gem
Lay in the crystal stream or emerald glade,
Which they would filch from Nature's diadem;
But that you keep no thought, no memory of THEM.
That, being gleaners in the world's large field
(And knowing well they never can be more,)
Those unto whom the fertile earth must yield
Her increase, will not stand like him of yore,
Large-hearted Boaz, on his threshing-floor,
Watching that weak ones starve not on their ground.
How many sills might frame a beggar's door,
For any love, or help, or pity found,
In rich men's hearts and homes, to help the needy round!
Meanwhile, enjoy your Walks, your Parks, your Drives,
Heirs of Creation's fruits, this world's select!
Bask in the sunshine of your idle lives,
And teach your poorer brother to expect
Nor share, nor help! Rouse up the fierce-toned sect
To grudge him e'en the breeze that once a-week
Might make him feel less weary and deject;
And stand, untouched, to see how thankful-meek
He walks that day, his child close nestling at his cheek.
Compel him to your creed; force him to think;
Cut down his Sabbath to a day of rest
Such as the beasts enjoy,--to eat, and drink,
And drone away his time, by sleep opprest:--
But let 'My lady' send, at her behest,
A dozen different servants to prepare,
Grooms, coachmen, footmen, in her livery drest,
And shining horses, fed with punctual care,
To whirl her to Hyde Park, that she may 'take the air.'
Yet, even with her, we well might moralise;
(No place too gay, if so the heart incline!)
For dark the Seal of Death and Judgment lies
Upon thy rippling waters, Serpentine!
Day after day, drawn up in linkèd line,
Your lounging beauties smile on idle men,
Where Suicides have braved the Will Divine,
Watched the calm flood that lay beneath their ken,
Dashed into seeming peace, and never rose again!
There, on the pathway where the well-groomed steed
Restlessly paws the earth, alarmed and shy;
While his enamoured rider nought can heed
Save the soft glance of some love-lighted eye;
There, they dragged out the wretch who came to die
There was he laid--stiff, stark, and motionless,
And searched for written signs to notify
What pang had driv'n him to such sore excess,
And who should weep his loss, and pity his distress!
Cross from that death-pond to the farther side,
Where fewer loiterers wander to and fro,
There,--buried under London's modern pride,
And ranges of white buildings,--long ago
Stood Tyburn Gate and gallows! Scenes of woe,
Bitter, heart-rending, have been acted here;
While, as he swung in stifling horrid throe,
Hoarse echoes smote the dying felon's ear,
Of yells from fellow-men, triumphant in his fear!
Not always thus. At times a Mother knelt,
And blest the wretch who perished for his crime;
Or a young wife bowed down her head, and felt
Her little son an orphan from that time;
Or some poor frantic girl, whose love sublime
In the coarse highway robber could but see
Her heart's ideal, heard Death's sullen chime
Shivering and weeping on her fainting knee,
And mourned for him who hung high on the gallows-tree.
Nowhere more deeply stamped the trace of gloom
Than in this light haunt of the herding town;
Marks of the world's Forgotten Ones, on whom
The eye of God for ever looketh down,
Still pitiful, above the human frown,
As Glory o'er the Dark! Earth's mercy tires!
But Heaven hath stored a mercy of its own,
Watching the feet that tread among the briars,
And guiding fearful eyes, when fainter light expires.
Yet no such serious thoughts their minds employ,
Who lounge and wander 'neath the sunshine bright,
But how to turn their idleness to joy,
Their weariness to pleasure and delight;
How best with the ennui of life to fight
With operas, plays, assemblies, routs, and balls--
The morning passed in planning for the night
Feastings and dancings in their lighted halls;
And still, as old ones fade, some newer pleasure calls.
Betwixt the deathly stream and Tyburn Gate
Stand withered trees, whose sapless boughs have seen
Beauties whose memory now is out of date,
And lovers, on whose graves the moss is green!
While Spring, for ever fresh, with smile serene,
Woke up grey Time, and drest his scythe with flowers,
And flashed sweet light the tender leaves between,
And bid the wild-bird carol in the bowers,
Year after year the same, with glad returning hours.
Oh, those old trees! what see they when the beam
Falls on blue waters from the bluer sky?
When young Hope whispers low, with smiles that seem
Too joyous to be answered with a sigh?
The scene is then of prosperous gaiety,
Thick-swarming crowds on summer pleasure bent,
And equipages formed for luxury;
While rosy children, young and innocent,
Dance in the onward path, and frolic with content.
But when the scattered leaves on those wan boughs
Quiver beneath the night wind's rustling breath;
When jocund merriment, and whispered vows,
And children's shouts, are hushed; and still as Death
Lies all in heaven above and earth beneath;
When clear and distant shine the steadfast stars
O'er lake and river, mountain, brake, and heath,--
And smile, unconscious of the woe that mars
The beauty of earth's face, deformed by Misery's scars;
What see the old trees THEN? Gaunt, pallid forms
Come, creeping sadly to their hollow hearts,
Seeking frail shelter from the winds and storms,
In broken rest, disturbed by fitful starts;
There, when the chill rain falls, or lightning darts,
Or balmy summer nights are stealing on,
Houseless they slumber, close to wealthy marts
And gilded homes:--there, where the morning sun
That tide of wasteful joy and splendour looked upon!
There the man hides, whose 'better days' are dropped
Round his starvation, like a veil of shame;
Who, till the fluttering pulse of life hath stopped,
Suffers in silence, and conceals his name:--
There the lost victim, on whose tarnished fame
A double taint of Death and Sin must rest,
Dreams of her village home and Parents' blame,
And in her sleep by pain and cold opprest,
Draws close her tattered shawl across her shivering breast.
Her history is written in her face;
The bloom hath left her cheek, but not from age;
Youth, without innocence, or love, or grace,
Blotted with tears, still lingers on that page!
Smooth brow, soft hair, dark eyelash, seem to wage
With furrowed lines a contradiction strong;
Till the wild witchcraft stories, which engage
Our childish thoughts, of magic change and wrong,
Seem realised in her--so old, and yet so young!
And many a wretch forlorn, and huddled group
Of strangers met in brotherhood of woe,
Heads that beneath their burden weakly stoop,--
Youth's tangled curls, and Age's locks of snow,--
Rest on those wooden pillows, till the glow
Of morning o'er the brightening earth shall pass,
And these depart, none asking where they go;
Lost in the World's confused and gathering mass,--
While a new slide fills up Life's magic-lantern glass.
CHILD OF THE ISLANDS! in thy royal bowers,
Calm THOU shalt slumber, set apart from pain;
Thy spring-day spent in weaving pendent flowers,
Or watching sun-bows glitter through the rain,
Spanning with glorious arch the distant plain;
Or listening to the wood-bird's merry call;
Or gathering sea-shells by the surging main;
And, wheresoe'er thy joyous glances fall,
The wise shall train thy mind, to glean delight from all.
But most thou'lt love all young and tender things,
And open wide and bright, in pleased surprise,
When the soft nestling spreads its half-fledged wings,
Thy innocent and wonder-loving eyes,
To see him thus attempt the sunny skies!
Thou shalt enjoy the kitten's frolic mood,
Pursue in vain gay-painted butterflies,
Watch the sleek puppy lap its milky food,
And fright the clucking hen, with all her restless brood.
Eager thou'lt gaze, where, down the river's tide,
The proud swan glides, and guards its lonely nest;
Or where the white lambs spot the mountain's side,
Where late the lingering sunshine loves to rest;
Midst whom, in frock of blue and coloured vest,
Lies the young shepherd boy, who little heeds
(The livelong day by drowsy dreams opprest)
The nibbling, bleating flock that round him feeds,
But to his faithful dog leaves all the care it needs.
In time, less simple sights and sounds of Earth
Shall yield thy mind a pleasure not less pure:
Mighty beginnings--schemes of glorious birth--
In which th' Enthusiast deems he may secure,
By rapid labour, Fame that shall endure;
Complex machines to lessen human toil,
Fair artist-dreams, which Beauty's forms allure,
New methods planned to till the fertile soil,
And marble graven works, which time forbears to spoil.
For, like the Spring, Man's heart hath buds and leaves,
Which, sunned upon, put forth immortal bloom;
Gifts, that from Heaven his nascent soul receives,
Which, being heavenly, shall survive the tomb.
In its blank silence, in its narrow gloom,
The clay may rest which wrapped his human birth;
But, all unconquered by that bounded doom,
The Spirit of his Thought shall walk the earth,
In glory and in light, midst life, and joy, and mirth.
Thou'rt dead, oh, Sculptor--dead! but not the less
(Wrapped in pale glory from th' illumined shrine)
Thy sweet St. Mary stands in her recess,
Worshipped and wept to, as a thing divine:
Thou'rt dead, oh, Poet!--dead, oh, brother mine!
But not the less the curbèd hearts stoop low
Beneath the passion of thy fervent line:
And thou art dead, oh, Painter! but not so
Thy Inspiration's work, still fresh in living glow.
These are the rulers of the earth! to them
The better spirits due allegiance own;
Vain is the might of rank's proud diadem,
The golden sceptre, or the jewelled crown;
Beyond the shadow of a mortal frown
Lofty they soar! O'er these, pre-eminent,
God only, Sovran regnant, looketh down,
God! who to their intense perception lent
All that is chiefest good and fairest excellent.
Wilt thou take measure of such minds as these,
Or sound, with plummet-line, the Artist-Heart?
Look where he meditates among the trees--
His eyelids full of love, his lips apart
With restless smiles; while keen his glances dart,
Above--around--below--as though to seek
Some dear companion, whom, with eager start,
He will advance to welcome, and then speak
The burning thoughts for which all eloquence is weak.
How glad he looks! Whom goeth he to meet?
Whom? God:--there is no solitude for him.
Lies the earth lonely round his wandering feet?
The birds are singing in the branches dim,
The water ripples to the fountains' brim,
The young lambs in the distant meadows bleat;
And he himself beguiles fatigue of limb
With broken lines, and snatches various sweet,
Of ballads old, quaint hymns for Nature's beauty meet!
Love is too earthly-sensual for his dream;
He looks beyond it, with his spirit-eyes!
His passionate gaze is for the sunset-beam,
And to that fainting glory, as it dies,
Belongs the echo of his swelling sighs.
Pale wingèd Thoughts, the children of his Mind,
Hover around him as he onward hies;
They murmur to him 'Hope!' with every wind,
Though to their lovely Shapes our grosser sight is blind.
But who shall tell, when want and pain have crost
The clouded light of some forsaken day,
What germs of Beauty have been crushed and lost,
What flashing thoughts have gleamed to fade away?
Oh! since rare flowers must yet take root in clay,
And perish if due culture be denied;
Let it be held a Royal boast to say,
For lack of aid, no heaven-born genius died;
Nor dwindled withering down, in desert-sands of Pride!
The lily-wand is theirs! the Angel-gift!
And, if the Earthly one with failing hand
Hold the high glory, do Thou gently lift,
And give him room in better light to stand.
For round THEE, like a garden, lies the land
His pilgrim feet must tread through choking dust;
And Thou wert born to this world's high command,
And he was born to keep a Heavenly Trust;
And both account to ONE, the Merciful and Just.
Youth is the spring-time of untarnished life!
Spring, the green youth of the unfaded year!
We watch their promise, midst the changeful strife
Of storms that threaten and of skies that clear,
And wait, until the harvest-time appear.
CHILD OF THE ISLANDS, may those springs which shed
Their blossoms round thee, give no cause for fear;
And may'st thou gently bend, and meekly tread,
Thy garlanded glad path, till summer light be fled!
The Undying One - Canto Iv
'TIS done--the night has pass'd away;
And, basking in the sunny day,
The laughing fountain's waters bear
No record of each burning tear;--
The silent echoes give no sound
Of shriek or moan; and nothing round
Can tell what breaking hearts have been
So lately in that quiet scene.
But ere the evening falls again,
Many a step o'er mount and glen
Shall hurry far and wide, to seek
Her of the pallid brow and cheek.
Proud is the eye of the bridegroom lord!
He hath girt him round with a trusty sword,
And the horse that hath borne him to battle for years,
Gladly his angry summons hears.
His red nostrils snuffing the morning air,
Nothing he heeds their heavy care,
But waits till his high curving neck shall be freed,
To bound o'er the hills with an arrow's speed.
He is gone--full swiftly he dashes by--
And many a bright and beautiful eye
Follows the rider's form;--and dreams
Of pleasant walks by the dancing streams,
Of moonlight whisperings in the grove,
Of looks of ardour, and vows of love,
Fill those young hearts: and they wonder why
Visions so happy should make them sigh:
And more they wonder, that any one
Of the numberless forms their eyes have known,
Should have stolen a heart which Carlos woo'd
By the fount, and the lone wood's solitude.
Oh! love--real love! intoxicating dream
Of beauty and of happiness! how vain
Are our aspirings after thee, which seem
To bring thee near us!--doubt and causeless pain,
And jealousies, and most unconstant sighs
For something fairer than this world supplies;
And fondness which doth end in faint disgust;
And airy hopes that crumble down to dust ;--
These are not love,--though these too oft impart
A false excitement to the swelling heart.
To look upon the fairy one, who stands
Before you, with her young hair's shining bands,
And rosy lips half parted;--and to muse,
Not on the features which you now peruse,
Not on the blushing bride,--but look beyond
Unto the aged wife, nor feel less fond:
To feel, that while thy arm can strike them dead,
No breathing soul shall harm that gentle head:
To know, that none with fierce and sudden strife
Shall tear thee from her, save with loss of life:
To keep thee but to one, and let that one
Be to thy home what warmth is to the sun;
To gaze, and find no change, when time hath made
Youth's dazzling beauty darken into shade,
But fondly--firmly--cling to her, nor fear
The fading touch of each declining year:--
This is true love, when it hath found a rest
In the deep home of manhood's faithful breast.
To worship silently at some heart's shrine,
And feel, but paint not, all its fire in thine:
To pray for that heart's hopes, when thine are gone,
Nor let its after coldness chill thine own:
To hold that one, with every fault, more dear
Than all who whisper fondness in thine ear:
To joy thee in his joy, and silently
Meet the upbraiding of his angry eye:
To bear unshrinking all the blows of fate,
Save that which leaves thy sorrow desolate:
Nor deem that woe, which thou canst feel is still
Borne with him, and for him; through every ill
To smile on him,--nor weep, save when apart,
God, and God only; looks into thy heart:
To keep unchanged thy calm, pure, quiet love,
If he, inconstant, doth a new one prove;
To love all round him as a part of him,
Ev'n her he worships:--though thine eye be dim
With weeping for thyself--to pray that not
One cloud may darken o'er their earthly lot:
With the affection of true hearts, to see
His happiness, which doth not hang on thee :--
Oh! this is woman's love--its joy--its pain;
And this--it hath been felt--and felt in vain.
They are dancing again, by the misty veil
Of the star-lit sky and the moonlight pale.
Laughing and murmuring voices rise
With their gladsome tones, to the peaceful skies:
And no one voice hath a sadder tone
For the sake of her whose form is gone,
Though her step was light in the dance, and her brow
Fairer than any which gleam there now.
Yet after the dance is done, and faint
Each languid limb on the turf is thrown,
Their gathering voices strive to paint
The stranger-heart that Linda won.
And still, as his wasted form, pale brow,
And mournful looks to their thoughts appear;
With his deep, sad voice, they wonder how
He hath pleaded his tale in Linda's ear.
And some dream wildly of wizard bower
Which hath tempted those fair young feet to stray:
And some of the sweet and charmed power
Which lies in the moonlight's holy ray:
And some who love--oh! they fondly feel,
In the hopeful heart of the promised bride,
That her soul may be bound in the woe or weal
Of the stranger by the fountain's side:
And none be able to know, or tell,
How such a love in her young heart grew--
Till the charm have bound their souls as well,
And the flame burn bright in their bosoms too.
They travel fast--the bridegroom lord,
With his prancing steed and his trusty sword;
And the brother-tyrant by his side,
With marble brow and heart of pride.
But vainly they follow o'er vale and hill,
Through the tufted heath, or the cool clear rill;
That mournful pair are far before,
Where the bleak sands lie, and the billows roar.
Far from the smiling land of her birth,
Her early home on the boundless earth,
Hath Linda, with tears, resolved to go,
For her mother's son is her deadly foe.
Stern as he was when she watch'd each look,
And obey'd ere he spoke--oh! how shall he brook
That her heart hath swerved, and her vows are naught
For the sake of the love which a stranger brought?
Oh! far may her white foot seek, and reach,
A home on Erin's shingled beach!
Where Miriam dwelt--in their bless'd land
Of the free warm heart, and the open hand;
Where no hypocrite sneer their wrath disguises,
But the sword springs out as the heart's blood rises;
There hath she chosen her home to be:
And their bark bounds over the foaming sea.
Silently watching by Isbal's side,
Sadly she looks on the curling tide;
And, gloomily as it roams o'er all,
His eye is a guide where hers shall fall.
Sudden a light shot o'er that eye,
And a quivering through him came;
And Linda, though she knows not why,
Clings trembling to his frame.
Hurriedly he spoke,
As the deep flush broke
O'er his face:
'There is a vessel--would it were a wreck!--
I know it by the flag; and on that deck
Are forms my soul can trace.
Though yet I see them not, I know
That, could we meet, a bitter woe
Were thine, their power beneath:
Though yet I hear them not, I feel
Each voice would tear the polish'd steel
From out its idle sheath.
Curse on the sails, whose lagging speed
Doth leave us in our hour of need!
Is there no wind in heaven?
They come--oh! Linda, cling to me:
Come closer yet: more strength will be
To love and vengeance given!'
Vain wrath! Young Linda gazes on the sight
Which thus hath conjured up a desperate fight;
And, in the distance she doth spy a sail,
With its flag fluttering gently on the gale,
White, calm, and peaceful:--strange in truth it seems,
That such a sight hath power to wake such dreams.
Yet doth she shudder, as with vehement force
He clasps her round, and views the vessel's course.
It nears--it nears--and through the signal glass,
The distant forms of crew and captain pass.--
'Tis they! 'tis they! Her brother's haughty form,
Proudly erect, defies the coming storm:
And, seated near him, in his mantle clad,
With brow almost as haughty, but more sad,
Is he who woo'd her heart, when love was yet
A dream--which those who wake, strive vainly to forget!
She sees them, but all unconscious they,
Who tracks them thus on their distant way.
They hail the vessel, then turn to gaze
Upon the sunset's parting rays;
And veering in their course, they sever,
Careless if they should part for ever!
But Isbal hath fix'd his straining sight
On the gleamy look of her canvas white,
And with impatient glance on high
Chides the full sails that hide the sky;
And yearns, till that distant land be won,
For spirits' wings to bear him on.
Bounds the light ship on her foamy track,
With her crimson pennant floating back:
Onward impell'd by the steady gales,
That are firmly pressing the swelling sails.
On she goes, and the waves are dashing
Under her stern, and under her prow;
Oh! pleasant the sound of the waters splashing
To those who the heat of the desert know.
On she goes--and the light is breaking
In a narrow streak o'er the distant sea;
And the shouts confused of the crew are waking
The silent air with an echo free.
On she goes--and the moon hath risen--
The holy moon that her veil doth shroud;
And like a mournful face from prison,
She looketh out of her watery cloud.
Graceful as earth's most gentle daughters,
That good ship sails through the gleaming spray--
Like a beautiful dream on the darken'd waters,
Till she anchors in Killala bay.
Erin!--be hush'd, my lyre! Oh! thou,
With ardent mind and eager brow;
With heart and harp together strung,
The hero's soul, the poet's tongue;
Who shall attempt the chorded shell
Which thou hast breathed upon so well?
Or who shall seek that land to praise,
Nor seem to echo back thy lays?
That land, 'the land that bore thee;' never
Shall aught thy name from Erin's sever--
Nor dream of Erin's beauty be,
That doth not also breathe of thee.
And if perchance, in after years,
Some other harp shall wake our tears;
Or, with a burst of glorious song,
Bear our rapt souls in dreams along:
The songs they sing, the lays they pour,
Shall bring us back thy genius--Moore!
Oh! yes--by all that others feel,
When from thy lip the low words steal:
By many an unregarded sigh
The winds have caught in passing by:
By wild far dreams of light divine,
That come not, save to souls like thine:
By the heart-swelling thou hast wrought:
By thy deep melody of thought:
By tear, and song, and ardour won--
The harp of Erin is thine own!
A storm is in the sky; a storm on earth;
And terror pale hath hush'd the voice of mirth.
And strong determination gleams forth now
From the deep lines of many a careless brow.
A storm is on the sea; a storm in heaven;
And wildly on the vessel's course is driven.
Forth rushes lightning from the lurid skies,
And ere the pilot's lips can pray,--he dies!
Aghast they stand;--the blacken'd corse lies there,
Sickening their helpless hearts with deep despair:
While Isbal waves his vainly lifted hand,
And shouts in deafen'd ears his proud command:
'Each to his post! Myself will take the helm,
Though lightnings dart, and billows overwhelm.
Why dream ye thus? Is death so dreadful then
To shrinking things that boast the name of men?
Will ye be daunted that one soul hath gone
Ere he had time to say, 'I go alone!'
Struggle for life! for soon the yawning tide,
Which howls and dashes o'er the good ship's side,
Shall come to claim its prey:--each to his post,
And strain and labour, or the ship is lost!'
Alarm, and shame, and wonder fill their hearts;
And then his fiery speech some warmth imparts.
All hands aboard with silent strength obey,
And the strain'd vessel ploughs her labour'd way.
A bark--a bark comes tossing o'er the wave,
(On the dark face of heaven, more darkly seen)
Right on the vessel's course,--while ev'n the brave
Shudder for breath;--what doth the helmsman mean?
Onward she comes--by raging wave and wind
Helplessly driven with a meteor's speed:
Almost she touches:--is the helmsman blind,
That of such danger he doth take no heed?
Well doth he know that ship, whose eye hath watch'd
All the long day; and now doth glaring stand,
His only fear that heaven perchance hath snatch'd
His deep revenge from out his desperate hand.
She comes!--a shock--a hollow whiffing sound--
A wail that o'er the troubled waters went
Of many howling voices;--a harsh sound
Of the keel grating o'er that bark's descent;
And all was over!--Oh! in those few words
How much of agony, and hope, and fear,
And yearnings after life, and treasured hoards
Of young hearts' feelings, cease and disappear!
All--all was over! what, we may not know;
But, looking back, in our own breasts we feel
Much perish'd, with the separate all of those
Who sank beneath that vessel's grating keel.
And with them perish'd Linda's brother stern,
And the young bridegroom in his hour of youth:
And Linda feels her brain and bosom burn--
Oh! it had madden'd her to know the truth!
The murderous truth, that he she loved--for whom
And for whose love she broke her plighted troth,
With strong and ruthless hand prepared the doom,
Which sickens her to dream upon--for both.
But as it was, she gazed into his face,
And round upon the black and empty space,
And then with shudderings cold she bow'd her head,
And gazed upon the waters.--
Have the dead
Power to rise? She sees a single form
All impotently struggling with the storm,
And tossing high his arm, as if to crave
A rescue from his comrades' watery grave.
Oh! save him!--save him! Swift a rope is thrown,
And on the deck, with an exhausted groan,
The half-drown'd wretch is laid. With greedy glare
Doth Isbal watch him for a moment there;
And then with faded glance draws calmly back,
And seems to watch the vessel's furrow'd track.
Meanwhile full many a rough but hearty grasp
Greets the lone stranger; but his hand the clasp
Returns not--and their words of welcome seem
Spoken to one who hears not, but doth dream.
Wistfully gazing up into their eyes,
As though he understood them not--awhile
All motionless he stands; then to the skies,
Then on the sea, with a most bitter smile.
And thus he spoke, but whom he loved, or why,
Is in His book who suffer'd them to die:--
'It was a pleasant dream--possessing thee,
Albeit thy stay was very short on earth:
And still my hopes and heart are blessing thee,
Thou of the glad bright eyes and voice of mirth.
It was a pleasant dream--but thou art gone,
By many a billow cover'd from my sight:
Thou'lt come no more to cheer me when alone--
Thy lips are mute--thine eyes no more are bright.
Oh! thou in whom my life was all bound up,
What is that life without thee? Long ere now
I deem'd that I had drain'd pale sorrow's cup--
Alas! I had not seen death on thy brow.
'Oft, when with boding fears I've sat to watch
For thy dear coming, with dim weary gaze,
Or wander'd out thine eye's first glance to catch,
Fancy hath painted them with fading rays.
I've dream'd of danger and of death; and when
Thine answering look hath met my anxious eye;
When I have clasp'd thee to my heart again--
That heart's full joy hath strain'd to agony.
But it hath come at last--the long dark day,
The cheerless absence which hath no return;
And what is left to me? where lies thy clay--
There--there, beloved, doth my beacon burn!'
Wildly he gazed upon the green deep wave,
As if he sought a spot to be his grave;
Then turning him where Isbal stood aside,
'My curse upon thee, helmsman!' loud he cried.
He leapt--the waters closed, and murmur'd o'er:
The heart that beat to suffer--felt no more.
And Isbal started, and young Linda wept;
And the heavens brighten'd, and the loud winds slept.
The cold pale moon began once more to shine,
And the tall vessel sped athwart the brine.
'Tis deep blue midnight--many a star
Is twinkling in the heavens afar.
The autumn winds are blowing keen
The straight and steady masts between;
And motionless the vessel lies,
As she were traced upon the skies.
Within that anchor'd ship are some
Fond simple hearts who dream of home;
And murmuring in their sleep, they hear
Far distant voices whispering near.
Within that anchor'd ship are many
Whose careless dreams (if they have any)
Bring back some lightly-utter'd jest,
To brighten o'er their lonely rest.
Within that anchor'd ship are none
Who sleep not, save the watch--and one
Who may not rest--who dares not dream;
And he--whence glows that sudden beam
That shot along his pallid brow?
Again--again--'tis brighter now--
Awake! awake! 'tis danger--death!--
The flames are round, above, beneath;
Fire! on the lonely waste of sea--
Fire! where no human help can be!
Wild, breathless, and aghast, the crew
Crowd the scorch'd deck. A busy few,
With the rude instinct that doth make
Man struggle for existence' sake,
Lower the boats:--one after one
Those frail light barks are landward gone,
Ere Isbal from his vision'd trance
Is roused.--What meets his hurried glance?
Half burnt, half drown'd, around him dying,
Are wretches on the waters lying.
He gazes on all with shivering start--
''Tis the curse--'tis the curse of that broken heart!'
He hails the last boat--'Oh! not for my life
Do I ask you to brave the element's strife;
But for her who is dearer than life'--in vain!
A hoarse voice answers him again:
'When thou wert helmsman, the ship went down,
And the heavens look'd out with an angry frown.
How know we who or what thou art,
A man in form, but a fiend in heart!
Thou didst not shudder, nor quail, nor shrink,
When we heard the waves their death-sob drink;
Though brave men held their breath, to see
Their fellows die so suddenly!
The wrath of Heaven is on thy head,
And a cry is come up from the early dead--
It hath wrought on us this awful sign;
And we will not perish for thee or thine!'
It was over now!--and alone they stood
In that fiery ship, on the glowing flood;
With a woman's love, and a woman's fear,
She clung to that bosom, now doubly dear;
And she look'd up into his death-like face,
From the eager clasp of his firm embrace,
With a strange wild smile, which seem'd to say,
'Let us die together.' He turn'd away,
And he gazed far out on the lonely sea,
Where the billows are raging desperately;
He gazed far out to the utmost verge,
But the sickening sound of the booming surge,
And the dashing waves, with their ceaseless strife,
Coursing each other like things of life--
And a howl through the lighted firmament,
As the boat, and the boat's crew downward went--
Sounds of sorrow, and sights of fear,
Were all which struck on his eye and ear.
He look'd around him:--the fiery blaze
Mocking the pale moon's quiet rays;
The red flames licking the top-mast high,
As if climbing to reach the cool clear sky;
And the waters which came with a hissing,
On the side of the burning ship to dash;
The fire-tinged sails, and the lonely deck,
Which must soon be a black and helpless wreck;
The perishing fragments of all which lay
So proudly bright at the close of day;
And the memory of that grating sound,
When the keel pass'd over the wretches drown'd:
These, and the thoughts such scenes impart,
Were all that struck on his eye and heart.
All--was it all? Was there no pale form,
Shining amid the element's storm,
With her lip compress'd, and her dark eye proud,
While the flames rose high, and the blast blew loud?
Feeling that now no earthly power
Could sever their hearts for one short hour,
And careless of death, because she knew
That where he sank, she must perish too!
He look'd on her, and his heart grew sick,
And his filmy glance was dull and thick,
As wildly earnest he gazed once more
From the rolling sea to the distant shore.
A wild light shot o'er his gloomy brow;
'Oh! Heaven, dear Linda, is with us now!
Amid these scenes of fear and dread,
Thy Isbal, still secure, might tread:
The floating wave would bear him on
To live--but he would live alone.
Oh! by the love thou bear'st me still,
Though to me thou owest all earthly ill;
By the hours, and days, and years of bliss
Which made thy dreams, ere life sank to this;
By the hope that hath been, and that still may be,
Plunge into the waves, beloved, with me.'
Wildly she gazes, and shrouds her eyes
From the dark confusion of sea and skies.
Oh! woman's heart! to die by his side
Less fearful seems than to stem that tide;
Those roaring, raging, horrible waves,
Which are rolling o'er her shipmates' graves.
Onward--onward--and Isbal draws
His labour'd breath with a gasping pause;
The curse is light
On his soul that night;
For a heart is beating against his breast,
Where his lonely thoughts have found sweet rest,
And a calm delight.
Onward--onward--she faints not yet--
Though her cheek be cold, and her long hair wet;
And Isbal yearns,
As her fond eye turns
To search for hope in his eager face;
For land, and a mossy resting-place,
Where nothing burns.
Onward--onward--for weary miles
Through the lone chill waters, where nothing smiles,
And the light hath shrunk--
And the wave hath drunk
The last dull, cheerless, ruddy gleam,
And naught remains but an awful dream
Of the good ship sunk.
Onward--onward--in darkness now,
And the dew is standing on Isbal's brow;
And his soul is wrung,
As the arms which clung
Confidingly, droop in their beauty there
On the nervous strength of his shoulder bare,
Where her long hair hung.
Onward--onward--he hears once more
Murmurs and sounds from the blessed shore.
He heedeth not
His long dark lot,
But strains that form in a long embrace,
And tenderly kisses her cold pale face,
And his toil is forgot.
'Thou'rt saved, my Linda! See, the land is won--
The pleasant land where we may live alone:
The deep firm land, where we may stand and gaze
Upon the ocean in its stormiest days.
Linda, my beautiful! oh, blessed be
That day of well-remember'd agony
Which stamp'd the brand of darkness on my brow--
Since I have lived, beloved, to save thee now.'
He hath lifted her and laid her down,
And taken her soft hand in his own,
And wrung the brine from out her hair,
And raised its weight from her bosom fair,
Its cold damp weight, that her breath may come
Free from its pure and lovely home.
He hath press'd his cheek close, close to hers,
To feel when the first pulsation stirs,
And now he watches with patient love
Till that fainting form begin to move.
Long may he watch. Oh! never more
By the rolling sea, or the pleasant shore,
Shall her mournful voice with its gentle sigh
Whisper soft words of melody.
Never, oh! never more, her form
With faithful step, through sun and storm,
Shall follow him from land to land
Or like his guardian spirit stand.
Long may he watch for that head to rise,
For the gentle glance of those waking eyes:
Cold and pale as she lieth now--
With her weary limbs, and her faded brow,
So must she lie for evermore--
She hath pass'd her trials, and reach'd the shore!
Ah! who shall tell their agonized despair,
Who, after watchful nights of ceaseless prayer,
And days of toil, and hours of bitter tears,
And agony that does the work of years--
Stand by the bed of death with whirling brain,
And feel they toil'd, and loved, and pray'd, in vain.
Sadly and fearfully they shrink from those
Whose looks confirm the story of their woes,
And seek with visionary words to buoy
Their spirits up with prophecies of joy:
Ev'n while their blanch'd lips quiver in their dread,
The faint tongue murmurs, 'No, they are not dead!'
And yet we feel they are. So Isbal stood
By the deep, rolling, and eternal flood;
And so he sought some comfort to impart
With a fond falsehood to his conscious heart;
And still repeated, 'Lo, she breathes! she stirs!'
When his own breath had waved a tress of hers.
The oft repeated echo died away
Of those vain words; and as the ocean spray
With its light snow-shower drenches her again,
His lip gives forth uncertain sounds of pain.
In his wrung heart he seeks to guess
When perish'd so much of loveliness;
And in Fancy's dream her arms again
Cling, as they clung around him then.
Which of the mountain waves that rose,
Bade her meek eyes for ever close?
Was it her corpse that he bore for miles,
When he gladly dreamt of her grateful smiles?
Or did her white feet touch the shore,
Ere her spirit departed for evermore?
With a straining force his deep thoughts dwell
On each murmur that rose 'mid the ocean's swell.
Was it, when feebly her young arms sank,
That the dashing waters her spirit drank,
And her breath pass'd out on the billows high
With a faint and an unremember'd sigh?
But no--for long after he spoke to cheer,
And her sweet voice answer'd in his ear.
Was it when darkness fell around,
And the red ship sank with a gurgling sound--
That her angel soul to its haven past
On the unseen wings of the midnight blast?
Did she yearn for the far land hopelessly,
As her stiff limbs shrank from the foaming sea:
Or did she yield her up to death,
With a weary moan, and a gasping breath?
Vainly he searches his tortured brain
For a farewell word, or a sigh of pain;
Silently as he bore her on,
Her soul from its gentle frame hath gone,
And never on earth shall his heart discover
The moment her love and her life were over;
Only this much shall the lost one know--
Where she hath departed, he may not go!
With sternly folded arms, and indrawn breath,
He stands and gazes on that form of death.
The deep--the sickening certainty is there,
The doom eternal of his long despair.
O'er the dim wave he flung his desperate arm,
Forgetful in his anguish of the charm
That bound his life. With effort wild and vain
He plunges headlong in the treacherous main;
While the lone sea, with melancholy sound,
Returns him groaning to the mossy ground.
Again he leaps the tide-wash'd bank, which late
He deem'd a shelter from the storms of fate:
The dashing waters yield, and then divide;
But still he sinks not in the whelming tide.
Proudly he stemm'd the billows, when his arms
Bore the faint burden of his Linda's charms:
Proudly he gazed upon the waters high,
Whose strength contain'd no power to bid him die:
But now he curses, with a bitter voice,
The ocean, which doth triumph and rejoice,
As the green billows, heaving in the day,
Greedily roar around that lifeless clay.
Hark! the wild howl that echoes through the land,
As his foot spurns the smooth and glittering sand.
That wave its floating weight on shore hath thrown;
And 'the Undying One' is left alone.