Sonnet Xliv: Here Droops The Muse
Here droops the muse! while from her glowing mind,
Celestial Sympathy, with humid eye,
Bids the light Sylph capricious Fancy fly,
Time's restless wings with transient flowr's to bind!
For now, with folded arms and head inclin'd,
Reflection pours the deep and frequent sigh,
O'er the dark scroll of human destiny,
Where gaudy buds and wounding thorns are twin'd.
O! Sky-born VIRTUE! sacred is thy name!
And though mysterious Fate, with frown severe,
Oft decorates thy brows with wreaths of Fame,
Bespangled o'er with sorrow's chilling tear!
Yet shalt thou more than mortal raptures claim,
The brightest planet of th' ETERNAL SPHERE!
The Faded Bouquet
FAIR was this blushing ROSE of May,
And fresh it hail'd morn's breezy hour,
When ev'ry spangled leaf look'd gay,
Besprinkled with the twilight show'r;
When to its mossy buds so sweet,
The BUTTERFLY enamour'd flew,
And hov'ring o'er the fragrant treat,
Oft bath'd its silken wings in dew.
SWEET was this PRIMROSE of the dale,
When on its native turf it grew;
And deck'd with charms this LILY pale,
And rich this VIOLET'S purple hue;
This od'rous WOODBINE fill'd the grove
With musky gales of balmy pow'r;
When with the MYRTLE interwove
It hung luxuriant round my bow'r.
AH ! ROSE, forgive the hand severe,
That snatch'd thee from thy scented bed;
Where, bow'd with many a pearly tear,
Thy widow'd partner droops its head;
And thou, sweet VI'LET, modest flow'r,
O! take my sad, relenting sigh;
Nor stain the breast whose glowing pow'r,
With too much fondness bade thee die.
SWEET LILY had I never gaz'd
With rapture on your gentle form;
You might have dy'd, unknown, unprais'd,
The victim of some ruthless storm;
Where fickle LOVE his altar rears,
Your little bells had learnt to wave;
Or sadly gemm'd with kindred tears,
Had deck'd some hapless MAIDEN's grave.
Inconstant WOODBINE, wherefore rove
With gadding stem about my bow'r?
Why, with my darling MYRTLE wove,
In bold defiance mock my pow'r?
Why quit thy native, lonely vale,
To flaunt thy buds, thy odours fling;
And idly greet the passing gale,
On ev'ry wanton zephyr's wing?
Yet, yet, repine not, tho' stern FATE
Hath nipp'd thy leaves of varying hue;
Since all that's lovely, soon or late,
Shall sick'ning, fade,and die like you.
The fire of YOUTHthe frost of AGE,
Nor WISDOM S voicenor BEAUTY'S bloom,
Th' insatiate tyrant can assuage,
Or stop the hand that seal'd YOUR DOOM.
Rinaldo To Laura Maria
THOU! whose sublime poetic art
Can pierce the pulses of the heart,
Can force the treasur'd tear to flow
In prodigality of woe;
Or lure each jocund bliss to birth
Amid the sportive bow'rs of mirth:
LAURA DIVINE! I call thee now
To yonder promontory's brow
That props the skies; while at its feet
With fruitless ire the billows beat,
There let my fainting sense behold
Those sapphire orbs their heaven unfold,
While from thy lips vermilion bow
Sweet melody her shafts shall throw
Yet do not, do not yield delight,
Nor with dear visions bless my sight.
Grant me despair, thou mightiest Muse!
O'er the vast scene thy spells diffuse,
And with a mad terrific strain
Conjure up demons from the main:
Storms upon storms indignant heap,
Bid Ocean howl, and Nature weep;
'Till the Creator blush to see
How horrible His World can be;
While I will glory to blaspheme,
And make the joys of hell my theme.
Hah! check this frenzy, spare my soul,
O'er my parch'd cheek soft sorrows roll,
Subdue this vain impassion'd rage,
An atom's energies assuage;
Nor let a mortal wretch presume
To invocate so dire a doom.
What tho' the EAGLE sits forlorn
And swoln and sad awaits the morn,
When he may wave his golden wing,
From Night's detested gloom to spring,
And with the Sun's advancement fly,
In full meridian blaze to die:
Yet shall the chirping FINCH decay,
Upon the hedgerow's wither'd spray,
Ere the first beam of light is found,
And drop unnotic'd to the ground.
So I alas! shall never see
The dawn of hope awake for me,
Still as I turn, new storms appear,
And darker lours this mental sphere.
Ah, who shall one short comfort give,
Or teach my struggling thought to live;
What hand my bleeding bosom bind,
What MOSELEY medicate my mind?
What Star disperse the thick'ning shade,
That bids my restless Being fade?
Yet I have seen the Lord of Day
Dart from his car the burning ray,
And rush a hero to the fight,
Across the pendant plains of light:
I've seen the bashful Moon aspire
To bind her brow with mimic fire,
And o'er the calm translucent air
Diffusive shake her silver hair.
I've paus'd enraptur'd at the tone
That from the Evening Copse is thrown
By the wild Poet of the glade,
Who rests his wing beneath the shade,
And I have prov'd th' unequal bliss
That burns upon the crimson kiss,
When true adoring souls unite
To perish in the proud delight.
These now are lost to meI stand
Alone in ev'ry peopled land,
No pleasure now my cold heart cheers,
The future points a vale of tears
Love rends my name from his bright page,
And yields it to approaching age
Then lead me, LAURA! to the bow'r
Where sadly droops each with'ring flow'r,
Where pois'nous shrubs disease exhale,
And fev'rish vapours load the gale;
There sink me to the sordid grief
That meanly supplicates relief;
There tell me I am most despis'd,
E'en by thyself, whom most I priz'd,
So shall I gladly welcome fate,
And perish in thy perfect hate:
So shall I better bear th' eternal pain,
Never to see thy Form, or hear thy Voice again.
Deborah's Parrot, A Village Tale
'Twas in a little western town
An ancient Maiden dwelt:
Her name was MISS, or MISTRESS, Brown,
Or DEBORAH, or DEBBY: She
Was doom'd a Spinster pure to be,
For soft delights her breast ne'er felt:
Yet, she had watchful Ears and Eyes
For ev'ry youthful neighbour,
And never did she cease to labour
A tripping female to surprize.
And why was she so wond'rous pure,
So stiff, so solemn--so demure?
Why did she watch with so much care
The roving youth, the wand'ring fair?
The tattler, Fame, has said that she
A Spinster's life had long detested,
But 'twas her quiet destiny,
Never to be molested !--
And had Miss DEBBY'S form been grac'd,
Fame adds,--She had not been so chaste;--
But since for frailty she would roam,
She ne'er was taught--to look at home .
Miss DEBBY was of mien demure
And blush'd, like any maid !
She could not saucy man endure
Lest she should be betray'd!
She never fail'd at dance or fair
To watch the wily lurcher's snare;
At Church, she was a model Godly!
Though sometimes she had other eyes
Than those, uplifted to the skies,
Leering most oddly!
And Scandal, ever busy, thought
She rarely practic'd--what she taught.
Her dress was always stiff brocade,
With laces broad and dear;
Fine Cobwebs ! that would thinly shade
Her shrivell'd cheek of sallow hue,
While, like a Spider, her keen eye,
Which never shed soft pity's tear,
Small holes in others geer could spy,
And microscopic follies, prying view.
And sorely vex'd was ev'ry simple thing
That wander'd near her never-tiring sting!
Miss DEBBY had a PARROT, who,
If Fame speaks true,
Could prate, and tell what neighbours did,
And yet the saucy rogue was never chid!
Sometimes, he talk'd of roving Spouses
Who wander'd from their quiet houses:
Sometimes, he call'd a Spinster pure
By names, that Virtue can't indure!
And sometimes told an ancient Dame
Such tales as made her blush with shame!
Then gabbled how a giddy Miss
Would give the boist'rous Squire a kiss!
But chiefly he was taught to cry,
Who with the Parson toy'd? O fie! "
This little joke, Miss DEBBY taught him,
To vex a young and pretty neighbour;
But by her scandal-zealous labour
To shame she brought him!
For, the Old PARROT, like his teacher
Was but a false and canting preacher,
And many a gamesome pair had sworn
Such lessons were not to be borne.
At last, Miss DEBBY sore was flouted
And by her angry neighbours scouted;
She never knew one hour of rest,
Of ev'ry Saucy Boor, the jest:
The young despis'd her, and the Sage
Look'd back on Time's impartial page;
They knew that youth was giv'n to prove
The season of extatic joy,
That none but Cynics would destroy,
The early buds of Love.
They also knew that DEBBY sigh'd
For charms that envious Time deny'd;
That she was vex'd with jealous Spleen
That Hymen pass'd her by, unseen.
For though the Spinster's wealth was known,
Gold will not purchase Love--alone .
She, and her PARROT, now were thought
The torments of their little Sphere;
He, because mischievously taught,
And She, because a maid austere !--
In short, she deem'd it wise to leave
A Place, where none remain'd, to grieve.
Soon, to a distant town remov'd,
Miss DEBBY'S gold an husband bought;
And all she had her PARROT taught,
(Her PARROT now no more belov'd,)
Was quite forgotten. But, alas!
As Fate would have it come to pass,
Her Spouse was giv'n to jealous rage,
For, both in Person and in Age ,
He was the partner of his love,
Ordain'd her second Self to prove!
One day, Old JENKINS had been out
With merry friends to dine,
And, freely talking, had, no doubt
Been also free with wine.
One said, of all the wanton gay
In the whole parish search it round,
None like the PARSON could be found,
Where a frail Maid was in the way.
Another thought the Parson sure
To win the heart of maid or wife;
And would have freely pledg'd his life
That young, or old, or rich or poor
None could defy
The magic of his roving eye!
JENKINS went home, but all the night
He dream'd of this strange tale!
Yet, bless'd his stars ! with proud delight,
His partner was not young, nor frail.
Next morning, at the breakfast table.
The PARROT, loud as he was able,
Was heard repeatedly to cry,
Who with the Parson toy'd? O fie!"
Old JENKINS listen'd, and grew pale,
The PARROT then, more loudly scream'd,
And MISTRESS JENKINS heard the tale
And much alarm'd she seem'd!
Trembling she tried to stop his breath,
Her lips and cheek as pale as death!
The more she trembled, still the more
Old JENKINS view'd her o'er and o'er;
And now her yellow cheek was spread
With blushes of the deepest red.
And now again the PARROT'S Tale
Made his old Tutoress doubly pale;
For cowardice and guilt, they say
Are the twin brothers of the soul;
So MISTRESS JENKINS, her dismay
Could not controul!
While the accuser, now grown bold,
Thrice o'er, the tale of mischief told.
Now JENKINS from the table rose,
"Who with the Parson toy'd? " he cried.
"So MISTRESS FRAILTY, you must play,
"And sport, your wanton hours away.
"And with your gold, a pretty joke,
"You thought to buy a pleasant cloak;
"A screen to hide your shame--but know
"I will not blind to ruin go.--
"I am no modern Spouse , dy'e see,
"Gold will not gild disgrace, with me!"
Some say he seiz'd his fearful bride,
And came to blows!
Day after day, the contest dire
Augmented, with resistless ire!
And many a drubbing DEBBY bought
For mischief, she her PARROT taught!
Thus, SLANDER turns against its maker;
And if this little Story reaches
A SPINSTER, who her PARROT teaches,
Let her a better task pursue,
And here, the certain VENGEANCE view
Which surely will, in TIME, O'ERTAKE HER.
The Fortune-Teller, A Gypsy Tale
LUBIN and KATE, as gossips tell,
Were Lovers many a day;
LUBIN the damsel lov'd so well,
That folks pretend to say
The silly, simple, doting Lad,
Was little less than loving mad:
A malady not known of late--
Among the little-loving Great!
KATE liked the youth; but woman-kind
Are sometimes giv'n to range.
And oft, the giddy Sex, we find,
(They know not why)
When most they promise, soonest change,
And still for conquest sigh:
So 'twas with KATE; she, ever roving
Was never fix'd, though always loving!
STEPHEN was LUBIN'S rival; he
A rustic libertine was known;
And many a blushing simple She,
The rogue had left,--to sigh alone!
KATE cared but little for the rover,
Yet she resolv'd to have her way,
For STEPHEN was the village Lover,
And women pant for Sov'reign sway.
And he, who has been known to ruin,--
Is always sought, and always wooing.
STEPHEN had long in secret sigh'd;
And STEPHEN never was deny'd:
Now, LUBIN was a modest swain,
And therefore, treated with disdain:
For, it is said, in Love and War ,--
The boldest, most successful are!
Vows, were to him but fairy things
Borne on capricious Fancy's wings;
And promises, the Phantom's Airy
Which falsehood form'd to cheat th' unwary;
For still deception was his trade,
And though his traffic well was known,
Still, every trophy was his own
Which the proud Victor, Love, display'd.
In short, this STEPHEN was the bane
Of ev'ry maid,--and ev'ry swain!
KATE had too often play'd the fool,
And now, at length, was caught;
For she, who had been pleas'd to rule,
Was now, poor Maiden, taught!
And STEPHEN rul'd with boundless sway,
The rustic tyrant of his day.
LUBIN had giv'n inconstant KATE,
Ten pounds , to buy her wedding geer:
And now, 'tis said, tho' somewhat late,
He thought his bargain rather dear.
For, Lo ! The day before the pair
Had fix'd, the marriage chain to wear,
A GYPSY gang, a wand'ring set,
In a lone wood young LUBIN met.
All round him press with canting tale,
And, in a jargon, well design'd
To cheat the unsuspecting mind,
His list'ning ears assail.
Some promis'd riches; others swore
He should, by women, be ador'd;
And never sad, and never poor--
Live like a Squire, or Lord;--
Do what he pleas'd, and ne'er be brought
To shame,--for what he did, or thought;
Seduce mens wives and daughters fair,
Spend wealth, while others toil'd in vain,
And scoff at honesty, and swear,--
And scoff, and trick, and swear again!
ONE roguish Girl, with sparkling eyes,
To win the handsome LUBIN tries;
She smil'd, and by her speaking glance,
Enthrall'd him in a wond'ring trance;
He thought her lovelier far than KATE,
And wish'd that she had been his mate;
For when the FANCY is on wing,
VARIETY'S a dangerous thing:
And PASSIONS, when they learn to stray
Will seldom seldom keep the beaten way.
The gypsy-girl, with speaking eyes,
Observ'd her pupil's fond surprize,
She begg'd that he her hand would cross,
With Sixpence; and that He should know
His future scene of gain and loss,
His weal and woe.--
LUBIN complies. And straight he hears
That he had many long, long years;
That he a maid inconstant, loves,
Who, to another slyly roves.
That a dark man his bane will be--
"And poison his domestic hours;
"While a fair woman, treach'rously--
"Will dress his brow--with thorns and flow'rs!"
It happen'd, to confirm his care--
STEPHEN was dark ,--and KATE was fair!
Nay more that "home his bride would bring
"A little, alien, prattling thing
"In just six moons!" Poor LUBIN hears
All that confirms his jealous fears;
Perplex'd and frantic, what to do
The cheated Lover scarcely knew.
He flies to KATE, and straight he tells
The wonder that in magic dwells!
Speaks of the Fortune-telling crew,
And how all things the Vagrants knew;
KATE hears: and soon determines, she
Will know her future destiny.
Swift to the wood she hies, tho' late
To read the tablet of her Fate.
The Moon its crystal beam scarce shew'd
Upon the darkly shadow'd road;
The hedge-row was the feasting-place
Where, round a little blazing wood,
The wand'ring, dingy, gabbling race,
Crowded in merry mood.
And now she loiter'd near the scene.
Now peep'd the hazle copse between;
Fearful that LUBIN might be near
The story of her Fate to hear.--
She saw the feasting circle gay
By the stol'n faggot's yellow light;
She heard them, as in sportive play,
They chear'd the sullen gloom of night.
Nor was sly KATE by all unseen
Peeping, the hazle copse between.
And now across the thicket side
A tatter'd, skulking youth she spied;
He beckon'd her along, and soon,
Hid safely from the prying moon,
His hand with silver, thrice she crosses--
"Tell me," said she, "my gains and losses?"
"You gain a fool ," the youth replies,
"You lose a lover too."
The false one blushes deep, and sighs,
For well the truth she knew!
"You gave to STEPHEN, vows; nay more
"You gave him favors rare:
"And LUBIN is condemn'd to share
"What many others shar'd before!
"A false, capricious, guilty heart,
"Made up of folly, vice, and art,
"Which only takes a wedded mate
"To brand with shame, an husband's fate."
"Hush! hush!" cried KATE, for Heav'n's sake be
"As secret as the grave--
"For LUBIN means to marry me--
"And if you will not me betray,
"I for your silence well will pay;
"Five pounds this moment you shall have."--
"I will have TEN!" the gypsy cries--
"The fearful, trembling girl complies.
But, what was her dismay, to find
That LUBIN was the gypsy bold;
The cunning, fortune-telling hind
Who had the artful story told--
Who thus, was cur'd of jealous pain,--
"And got his TEN POUNDS back again!
Thus, Fortune pays the LOVER bold!
But, gentle Maids, should Fate
Have any secret yet untold,--
Remember, simple KATE!
Ah! wherefore by the Church-yard side,
Poor little LORN ONE, dost thou stray?
Thy wavy locks but thinly hide
The tears that dim thy blue-eye's ray;
And wherefore dost thou sigh, and moan,
And weep, that thou art left alone?
Thou art not left alone, poor boy,
The Trav'ller stops to hear thy tale;
No heart, so hard, would thee annoy!
For tho' thy mother's cheek is pale
And withers under yon grave stone,
Thou art not, Urchin, left alone.
I know thee well ! thy yellow hair
In silky waves I oft have seen;
Thy dimpled face, so fresh and fair,
Thy roguish smile, thy playful mien
Were all to me, poor Orphan, known,
Ere Fate had left thee--all alone!
Thy russet coat is scant, and torn,
Thy cheek is now grown deathly pale!
Thy eyes are dim, thy looks forlorn,
And bare thy bosom meets the gale;
And oft I hear thee deeply groan,
That thou, poor boy, art left alone.
Thy naked feet are wounded sore
With thorns, that cross thy daily road;
The winter winds around thee roar,
The church-yard is thy bleak abode;
Thy pillow now, a cold grave stone--
And there thou lov'st to grieve--alone!
The rain has drench'd thee, all night long;
The nipping frost thy bosom froze;
And still, the yewtree-shades among,
I heard thee sigh thy artless woes;
I heard thee, till the day-star shone
In darkness weep--and weep alone!
Oft have I seen thee, little boy,
Upon thy lovely mother's knee;
For when she liv'd--thou wert her joy,
Though now a mourner thou must be!
For she lies low, where yon grave-stone
Proclaims, that thou art left alone.
Weep, weep no more; on yonder hill
The village bells are ringing, gay;
The merry reed, and brawling rill
Call thee to rustic sports away.
Then wherefore weep, and sigh, and moan,
A truant from the throng--alone?
"I cannot the green hill ascend,
"I cannot pace the upland mead;
"I cannot in the vale attend,
"To hear the merry-sounding reed:
"For all is still, beneath yon stone,
"Where my poor mother's left alone!
"I cannot gather gaudy flowers
"To dress the scene of revels loud--
"I cannot pass the ev'ning hours
"Among the noisy village croud--
"For, all in darkness, and alone
"My mother sleeps, beneath yon stone.
"See how the stars begin to gleam
"The sheep-dog barks, 'tis time to go;--
"The night-fly hums, the moonlight beam
"Peeps through the yew-tree's shadowy row--
"It falls upon the white grave-stone,
"Where my dear mother sleeps alone.--
"O stay me not, for I must go
"The upland path in haste to tread;
"For there the pale primroses grow
"They grow to dress my mother's bed.--
"They must, ere peep of day, be strown,
"Where she lies mould'ring all alone.
"My father o'er the stormy sea
"To distant lands was borne away,
"And still my mother stay'd with me
"And wept by night and toil'd by day.
"And shall I ever quit the stone
"Where she is, left, to sleep alone.
"My father died; and still I found
"My mother fond and kind to me;
"I felt her breast with rapture bound
"When first I prattled on her knee--
"And then she blest my infant tone
"And little thought of yon grave-stone.
"No more her gentle voice I hear,
"No more her smile of fondness see;
"Then wonder not I shed the tear
"She would have DIED, to follow me!
"And yet she sleeps beneath yon stone
"And I STILL LIVE--to weep alone.
"The playful kid, she lov'd so well
"From yon high clift was seen to fall;
"I heard, afar, his tink'ling bell--
"Which seem'd in vain for aid to call--
"I heard the harmless suff'rer moan,
"And grieved that he was left alone.
"Our faithful dog grew mad, and died,
"The lightning smote our cottage low--
"We had no resting-place beside
"And knew not whither we should go,--
"For we were poor,--and hearts of stone
"Will never throb at mis'ry's groan.
"My mother still surviv'd for me,
"She led me to the mountain's brow,
"She watch'd me, while at yonder tree
"I sat, and wove the ozier bough;
"And oft she cried, "fear not, MINE OWN!
"Thou shalt not, BOY, be left ALONE."
"The blast blew strong, the torrent rose
"And bore our shatter'd cot away;
"And, where the clear brook swiftly flows--
"Upon the turf at dawn of day,
"When bright the sun's full lustre shone,
"I wander'd, FRIENDLESS--and ALONE!"
Thou art not, boy, for I have seen
Thy tiny footsteps print the dew,
And while the morning sky serene
Spread o'er the hill a yellow hue,
I heard thy sad and plaintive moan,
Beside the cold sepulchral stone.
And when the summer noontide hours
With scorching rays the landscape spread,
I mark'd thee, weaving fragrant flow'rs
To deck thy mother's silent bed!
Nor, at the church-yard's simple stone,
Wert, thou, poor Urchin, left alone.
I follow'd thee, along the dale
And up the woodland's shad'wy way:
I heard thee tell thy mournful tale
As slowly sunk the star of day:
Nor, when its twinkling light had flown,
Wert thou a wand'rer, all alone.
"O! yes, I was! and still shall be
"A wand'rer, mourning and forlorn;
"For what is all the world to me--
"What are the dews and buds of morn?
"Since she, who left me sad, alone
"In darkness sleeps, beneath yon stone!
"No brother's tear shall fall for me,
"For I no brother ever knew;
"No friend shall weep my destiny
"For friends are scarce, and tears are few;
"None do I see, save on this stone
"Where I will stay, and weep alone!
"My Father never will return,
"He rests beneath the sea-green wave;
"I have no kindred left, to mourn
"When I am hid in yonder grave!
"Not one ! to dress with flow'rs the stone;--
"Then--surely , I AM LEFT ALONE!"