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June 8, 2007
PRINTED BY JOHN STARK, EDINBURGH.
BY FELICIA HEMANS.
They tell but dreams—a lonely spirit's dreams—
Yet ever through their fleeting imagery
Wanders a vein of melancholy love,
An aimless thought of home:—as in the song
Of the caged skylark ye may deem there dwells
A passionate memory of blue skies and flowers,
And living streams—far off!
This is to be a mortal,
And seek the things beyond mortality!
THY voice prevails; dear Friend, my gentle Friend!
This long-shut heart for thee shall be unseal'd,
And though thy soft eye mournfully will bend
Over the troubled stream, yet once reveal'd
Shall its freed waters flow; then rocks must close
For evermore, above their dark repose.
Come while the gorgeous mysteries of the sky
Fused in the crimson sea of sunset lie;
Thou knew'st me not in life's fresh vernal noon—
I would thou hadst!—for then my heart on thine
Had pour'd a worthier love; now, all o'erworn
By its deep thirst for something too divine,
It hath but fitful music to bestow,
Echoes of harp-strings, broken long ago.
Yet even in youth companionless I stood,
As a lone forest-bird midst ocean's foam;
For me the silver cords of brotherhood
Were early loosed;—the voices from my home
But, with the fulness of a heart that burn'd
For the deep sympathies of mind, I turn'd
From that unanswering spot, and fondly sought
In all wild scenes with thrilling murmurs fraught,
In every still small voice and sound of power,
And flute-note of the wind through cave and bower,
A perilous delight!—for then first woke
My life's lone passion, the mysterious quest
Of secret knowledge; and each tone that broke
From the wood-arches or the fountain's breast,
Making my quick soul vibrate as a lyre,
But minister'd to that strange inborn fire.
Midst the bright silence of the mountain-dells,
In noontide-hours or golden summer-eves,
My thoughts have burst forth as a gale that swells
Into a rushing blast, and from the leaves
I woke from those high fantasies, to know
My kindred with the Earth—I woke to love:—
O, gentle Friend! to love in doubt and woe,
Shutting the heart the worshipp'd name above,
Hath not thy love been victory, O, my soul?
Hath not its conflict won a voice to shake
Death's fastnesses?—a magic to control
Worlds far removed?—from o'er the grave to thee
Love hath made answer; and thy tale should be
Sung like a lay of triumph!—Now return,
And take thy treasure from its bosom'd urn,
And lift it once to light!
In fear, in pain,
I said I loved—but yet a heavenly strain
Of sweetness floated down the tearful stream,
A joy flash'd through the trouble of my dream!
I knew myself beloved!—we breathed no vow,
No mingling visions might our fate allow,
As unto happy hearts; but still and deep,
Like a rich jewel gleaming in a grave,
Like golden sand in some dark river's wave,
So did my soul that costly knowledge keep
So jealously!—a thing o'er which to shed,
When stars alone beheld the drooping head,
But, oh! sweet Friend! we dream not of love's might
Till Death has robed with soft and solemn light
The image we enshrine!—Before that hour,
We have but glimpses of the o'ermastering power
Within us laid!—then doth the spirit-flame
With sword-like lightning rend its mortal frame;
The wings of that which pants to follow fast
Shake their clay-bars, as with a prison'd blast,—
The sea is in our souls!
He died, he died,
On whom my lone devotedness was cast!
I might not keep one vigil by his side,
I, whose wrung heart watch'd with him to the last!
I might not once his fainting head sustain,
Nor bathe his parch'd lips in the hour of pain,
Hast thou been told that from the viewless bourne,
The dark way never hath allow'd return?
I sat beneath that planet,—I had wept
My woe to stillness; every night-wind slept;
A hush was on the hills; the very streams
Went by like clouds, or noiseless founts in dreams,
And the dark tree o'ershadowing me that hour,
Stood motionless, even as the grey church-tower
Whereon I gazed unconsciously;—there came
A low sound, like the tremor of a flame,
Or like the light quick shiver of a wing,
Flitting through twilight woods, across the air;
And I looked up!—Oh! for strong words to bring
Conviction o'er thy thought!—Before me there,
He, the Departed, stood!—Aye, face to face—
So near, and yet how far!—his form, his mien,
Gave to remembrance back each burning trace
Within:—Yet something awfully serene,
Pure,—sculpture-like,—on the pale brow, that wore
Of the once beating heart no token more;
And stillness on the lip—and o'er the hair
A gleam, that trembled through the breathless air;
And an unfathom'd calm, that seem'd to lie
In the grave sweetness of the illumined eye;
Told of the gulfs between our being set,
And, as that unsheathed spirit-glance I met,
Made my soul faint:—with fear?—Oh! not with fear!
With the sick feeling that in his far sphere
My love could be as nothing!—But he spoke—
How shall I tell thee of the startling thrill
In that low voice, whose breezy tones could fill
My bosom's infinite?—O Friend, I woke
Then first to heavenly life!—Soft, solemn, clear,
Breathed the mysterious accents on mine ear,
Yet strangely seem'd as if the while they rose
From depths of distance, o'er the wide repose
Dost thou not rejoice,
When the spring sends forth an awakening voice
Through the young woods?—Thou dost!—And in that birth
Of early leaves, and flowers, and songs of mirth,
Thousands, like thee, find gladness!—Couldst thou know
How every breeze then summons me to go!
How all the light of love and beauty shed
By those rich hours, but woos me to the Dead!
The only beautiful that change no more,
The only loved!—the dwellers on the shore
Of spring fulfill'd!—The Dead!—whom call we so?
They that breathe purer air, that feel, that know
Things wrapt from us!—Away!—within me pent,
That which is barr'd from its own element
Still droops or struggles!—But the day will come—
Over the deep the free bird finds its home,
Courage was cast about her like a dress
Of solemn comeliness,
A gather'd mind and an untroubled face
Did give her dangers grace.
THE war-note of the Saracen
Was on the winds of France;
It had still'd the harp of the Troubadour,
And the clash of the tourney's lance.
The sounds of the sea, and the sounds of the night,
And the hollow echoes of charge and flight,
Founded on an incident in the early French history.
Were around Clotilde, as she knelt to pray
In a chapel where the mighty lay,
On the old Provençal shore;
Many a Chatillon beneath,
Unstirr'd by the ringing trumpet's breath,
His shroud of armour wore.
And the glimpses of moonlight that went and came
Through the clouds, like bursts of a dying flame,
Gave quivering life to the slumber pale
Of stern forms couch'd in their marble mail,
At rest on the tombs of the knightly race,
The silent throngs of that burial-place.
They were imaged there with helm and spear,
As leaders in many a bold career,
And haughty their stillness look'd and high,
Like a sleep whose dreams were of victory:
But meekly the voice of the lady rose
Through the trophies of their proud repose;
Meekly, yet fervently, calling down aid,
Under their banners of battle she pray'd;
With her pale fair brow, and her eyes of love,
Upraised to the Virgin's pourtray'd above,
And her hair flung back, till it swept the grave
Of a Chatillon with its gleamy wave.
And her fragile frame, at every blast,
That full of the savage war-horn pass'd,
Trembling, as trembles a bird's quick heart,
When it vainly strives from its cage to part,—
So knelt she in her woe;
A weeper alone with the tearless dead—
Oh! they reck not of tears o'er their quiet shed,
Or the dust had stirred below!
Hark! a swift step! she hath caught its tone,
Through the dash of the sea, through the wild wind's moan;—
Is her lord return'd with his conquering bands?
No! a breathless vassal before her stands!
—A change o'er her mien and her spirit past;
She ruled the heart which had beat so fast,
She dash'd the tears from her kindling eye,
With a glance, as of sudden royalty:
The proud blood sprang in a fiery flow,
Quick o'er bosom, and cheek, and brow,
And her young voice rose till the peasant shook
At the thrilling tone and the falcon-look:
—"Dost thou stand by the tombs of the glorious dead,
And fear not to say, that their son hath fled?
The shadows of the forest
Are about the lady now;
She is hurrying through the midnight on,
Beneath the dark pine bough.
There's a murmur of omens in every leaf,
There's a wail in the stream like the dirge of a chief;
The branches that rock to the tempest-strife,
Are groaning like things of troubled life;
The wind from the battle seems rushing by
With a funeral march through the gloomy sky;
The pathway is rugged, and wild, and long,
But her frame in the daring of love is strong,
And her soul as on swelling seas upborne,
And girded all fearful things to scorn.
And fearful things were around her spread,
When she reach'd the field of the warrior-dead;
Silently, with lips compress'd,
Pale hands clasp'd above her breast,
Stately brow of anguish high,
Deathlike cheek, but dauntless eye;
Silently, o'er that red plain,
Moved the lady 'midst the slain.
Sometimes it seem'd as a charging cry,
Or the ringing tramp of a steed, came nigh;
Sometimes a blast of the Paynim horn,
Sudden and shrill from the mountains borne;
And her maidens trembled;—but on her ear
No meaning fell with those sounds of fear;
They had less of mastery to shake her now,
Than the quivering, erewhile, of an aspen bough.
She search'd into many an unclosed eye,
That look'd, without soul, to the starry sky;
She bow'd down o'er many a shatter'd breast,
She lifted up helmet and cloven crest—
Not there, not there he lay!
"Lead where the most hath been dared and done,
Where the heart of the battle hath bled,—lead on!"
And the vassal took the way.
He turn'd to a dark and lonely tree
That waved o'er a fountain red;
Thickest there the spear-heads gleam'd,
And the scatter'd plumage stream'd,
And the broken shields were toss'd,
And the shiver'd lances cross'd,
And the mail-clad sleepers round
Made the harvest of that ground.
He was there! the leader amidst his band,
Where the faithful had made their last vain stand;
He was there! but affection's glance alone
The darkly-changed in that hour had known;
With the falchion yet in his cold hand grasp'd,
And a banner of France to his bosom clasp'd,
And the form that of conflict bore fearful trace,
And the face—oh! speak not of that dead face!
As it lay to answer love's look no more,
Yet never so proudly loved before!
She quell'd in her soul the deep floods of woe,
The time was not yet for their waves to flow;
She felt the full presence, the might of death,
Yet there came no sob with her struggling breath,
And a proud smile shone o'er her pale despair,
As she turn'd to his followers—"Your Lord is there!
Look on him! know him by scarf and crest!—
Bear him away with his sires to rest!"
Another day—another night—
And the sailor on the deep
Hears the low chant of a funeral rite
From the lordly chapel sweep:
It comes with a broken and muffled tone,
As if that rite were in terror done;
Yet the song 'midst the seas hath a thrilling power,
And he knows 'tis a chieftain's burial hour.
Hurriedly, in fear and woe,
Through the aisle the mourners go;
There is no plumed head o'er the bier to bend,
No brother of battle, no princely friend;
No sound comes back like the sounds of yore,
Unto sweeping swords from the marble floor;
By the red fountain the valiant lie,
The flower of Provençal chivalry,
But one free step, and one lofty heart,
Bear through that scene, to the last, their part.
She hath led the death-train of the brave
To the verge of his own ancestral grave;
She hath held o'er her spirit long rigid sway,
But the struggling passion must now have way.
In the cheek, half seen through her mourning veil,
By turns does the swift blood flush and fail;
The pride on the lip is lingering still,
But it shakes as a flame to the blast might thrill;
Anguish and Triumph are met at strife,
Rending the chords of her frail young life;
And she sinks at last on her warrior's bier,
Lifting her voice, as if Death might hear.—
"I have won thy fame from the breath of wrong,
My soul hath risen for thy glory strong!
Now call me hence, by thy side to be,
The world thou leav'st has no place for me.
The light goes with thee, the joy, the worth—
Faithful and tender! Oh! call me forth!
Give me my home on thy noble heart,—
Well have we loved, let us both depart!"—
And pale on the breast of the Dead she lay,
The living cheek to the cheek of clay;
The living cheek!—Oh! it was not vain,
That strife of the spirit to rend its chain;
She is there at rest in her place of pride,
In death how queen-like—a glorious bride!
Joy for the freed One!—she might not stay
When the crown had fallen from her life away;
She might not linger—a weary thing,
A dove, with no home for its broken wing,
Thrown on the harshness of alien skies,
That know not its own land's melodies.
From the long heart-withering early gone;
She hath lived—she hath loved—her task is done!
THERE was music on the midnight;—
From a royal fane it roll'd,
And a mighty bell, each pause between,
Sternly and slowly toll'd.
Strange was their mingling in the sky,
It hush'd the listener's breath;
For the music spoke of triumph high,
The lonely bell, of death.
There was hurrying through the midnight—
A sound of many feet;
But they fell with a muffled fearfulness,
Along the shadowy street:
And softer, fainter, grew their tread,
As it near'd the minster-gate,
Whence a broad and solemn light was shed
From a scene of royal state.
Full glow'd the strong red radiance,
In the centre of the nave,
Where the folds of a purple canopy
Swept down in many a wave;
Loading the marble pavement old
With a weight of gorgeous gloom,
For something lay 'midst their fretted gold,
Like a shadow of the tomb.
And within that rich pavilion,
High on a glittering throne,
But a peal of lordly music
Shook e'en the dust below,
When the burning gold of the diadem
Was set on her pallid brow!
Then died away that haughty sound,
And from the encircling band
Stept Prince and Chief, 'midst the hush profound,
With homage to her hand.
Why pass'd a faint, cold shuddering
Over each martial frame,
As one by one, to touch that hand,
Noble and leader came?
Death! Death! canst thou be lovely
Unto the eye of Life?
Is not each pulse of the quick high breast
With thy cold mien at strife?
—It was a strange and fearful sight,
The crown upon that head,
The glorious robes, and the blaze of light,
All gather'd round the Dead!
And beside her stood in silence
One with a brow as pale,
And white lips rigidly compress'd,
Lest the strong heart should fail:
King Pedro, with a jealous eye,
Watching the homage done,
But on the face he look'd not,
Which once his star had been;
To every form his glance was turn'd,
Save of the breathless queen:
Though something, won from the grave's embrace,
Of her beauty still was there,
Its hues were all of that shadowy place,
It was not for him to bear.
Alas! the crown, the sceptre,
The treasures of the earth,
And the priceless love that pour'd those gifts,
Alike of wasted worth!
The rites are closed:—bear back the Dead
Unto the chamber deep!
Lay down again the royal head,
Dust with the dust to sleep!
There is music on the midnight—
A requiem sad and slow,
As the mourners through the sounding aisle
In dark procession go;
And the ring of state, and the starry crown,
And all the rich array,
Are borne to the house of silence down,
With her, that queen of clay!
And tearlessly and firmly
King Pedro led the train,—
But his face was wrapt in his folding robe,
When they lower'd the dust again.
'Tis hush'd at last the tomb above,
Hymns die, and steps depart:
Who call'd thee strong as Death, O Love?
Mightier thou wast and art.
O sanctissima, o purissima!
Dulcis Virgo Maria,
Mater amata, intemerata,
Ora, ora pro nobis.
IN the deep hour of dreams,
Through the dark woods, and past the moaning sea,
And by the star-light gleams,
Mother of Sorrows! lo, I come to thee.
Unto thy shrine I bear
Night-blowing flowers, like my own heart, to lie
All, all unfolded there,
Beneath the meekness of thy pitying eye.
For thou, that once didst move,
In thy still beauty, through an early home,
Thou know'st the grief, the love,
The fear of woman's soul;—to thee I come!
Many, and sad, and deep,
Were the thoughts folded in thy silent breast;
Thou, too, couldst watch and weep—
Hear, gentlest mother! hear a heart opprest!
There is a wandering bark
Bearing one from me o'er the restless waves;
Oh! let thy soft eye mark
His course;—be with him, Holiest, guide and save!
My soul is on that way;
My thoughts are travellers o'er the waters dim
Through the long weary day,
I walk, o'ershadow'd by vain dreams of him.
Aid him,—and me, too, aid!
Oh! 'tis not well, this earthly love's excess!
On thy weak child is laid
The burden of too deep a tenderness.
Too much o'er him is pour'd
My being's hope—scarce leaving Heaven a part:
Too fearfully adored,
Oh! make not him the chastener of my heart!
I tremble with a sense
Of grief to be;—I hear a warning low—
Sweet mother! call me hence!
This wild idolatry must end in woe.
The troubled joy of life,
Love's lightning happiness, my soul hath known;
And, worn with feverish strife,
Would fold its wings;—take back, take back thine own!
Hark! how the wind swept by!
The tempest's voice comes rolling o'er the wave—
Hope of the sailor's eye,
And maiden's heart, blest mother, guide and save!
FROM the bright stars, or from the viewless air,
Or from some world unreach'd by human thought,
Spirit, sweet spirit! if thy home be there,
And if thy visions with the past be fraught,
Answer me, answer me!
Have we not communed here of life and death?
Have we not said that love, such love as ours,
Was not to perish as a rose's breath,
To melt away, like song from festal bowers?
Answer, oh! answer me!
Thine eye's last light was mine—the soul that shone
Intensely, mournfully, through gathering haze—
Thy voice—its low, soft, fervent, farewell tone
Thrill'd through the tempest of the parting strife,
Like a faint breeze:—oh! from that music flown,
Send back one sound, if love's be quenchless life,
But once, oh! answer me!
In the still noontide, in the sunset's hush,
In the dead hour of night, when thought grows deep,
When the heart's phantoms from the darkness rush,
Fearfully beautiful, to strive with sleep—
Spirit! then answer me!
By the remembrance of our blended pray'r;
By all our tears, whose mingling made them sweet;
By our last hope, the victor o'er despair;—
Speak! if our souls in deathless yearnings meet;
Answer me, answer me!
The grave is silent:—and the far-off sky,
And the deep midnight—silent all, and lone!
Oh! if thy buried love make no reply,
What voice has Earth?—Hear, pity, speak, mine own!
Answer me, answer me!
For all his wildness and proud fantasies,
I love him!
THY heart is in the upper world, where fleet the Chamois bounds,
Thy heart is where the mountain-fir shakes to the torrent-sounds;
And where the snow-peaks gleam like stars, through the stillness of the air,
And where the Lauwine's∗ peal is heard—Hunter! thy heart is there!
Lauwine, the avalanche.
I know thou lov'st me well, dear Friend! but better, better far,
Thou lov'st that high and haughty life, with rocks and storms at war;
In the green sunny vales with me, thy spirit would but pine—
And yet I will be thine, my Love! and yet I will be thine!
And I will not seek to woo thee down from those thy native heights,
With the sweet song, our land's own song, of pastoral delights;
For thou must live as eagles live, thy path is not as mine—
And yet I will be thine, my Love! and yet I will be thine.
And I will leave my blessed home, my Father's joyous hearth,
With all the voices meeting there in tenderness and mirth,
With all the kind and laughing eyes, that in its firelight shine,
To sit forsaken in thy hut,—yet know that thou art mine!
It is my youth, it is my bloom, it is my glad free heart,
That I cast away for thee—for thee—all reckless as thou art!
With tremblings and with vigils lone, I bind myself to dwell
Yet, yet I would not change that lot—oh no! I love too well!
A mournful thing is love which grows to one so wild as thou,
With that bright restlessness of eye, that tameless fire of brow!
Mournful!—but dearer far I call its mingled fear and pride,
And the trouble of its happiness, than aught on earth beside.
To listen for thy step in vain, to start at every breath,
To watch through long long nights of storm, to sleep and dream of death,
To wake in doubt and loneliness—this doom I know is mine,—
And yet I will be thine, my Love! and yet I will be thine!
That I may greet thee from thine Alps, when thence thou com'st at last,
That I may hear thy thrilling voice tell o'er each danger past,
That I may kneel and pray for thee, and win thee aid divine,—
For this I will be thine, my Love! for this I will be thine!
IN the silence of the midnight
I journey with my dead;
In the darkness of the forest-boughs,
A lonely path I tread.
But my heart is high and fearless,
As by mighty wings upborne;
An Indian, who had established himself in a township of Maine, feeling indignantly the want of sympathy evinced towards him by the white inhabitants, particularly on the death of his only child, gave up his farm soon afterwards, dug up the body of his child, and carried it with him two hundred miles through the forests to join the Canadian Indians.—See Tudor's Letters on the Eastern States of America.
The mountain eagle hath not plumes
So strong as Love and Scorn.
I have raised thee from the grave-sod,
By the white man's path defiled;
On to th' ancestral wilderness,
I bear thy dust, my child!
I have ask'd the ancient deserts
To give my dead a place,
Where the stately footsteps of the free
Alone should leave a trace.
And the tossing pines made answer—
"Go, bring us back thine own!"
And the streams from all the hunters' hills,
Rush'd with an echoing tone.
Thou shalt rest by sounding waters
That yet untamed may roll;
In the silence of the midnight
I journey with the dead,
Where the arrows of my father's bow
Their falcon flight have sped.
I have left the spoiler's dwellings,
For evermore, behind;
Unmingled with their household sounds,
For me shall sweep the wind.
Alone, amidst their hearth-fires,
I watch'd my child's decay,
Uncheer'd, I saw the spirit-light
From his young eyes fade away.
When his head sank on my bosom,
When the death-sleep o'er him fell,
To the forests, to the cedars,
To the warrior and his bow,
Back, back!—I bore thee laughing thence,
I bear thee slumbering now!
I bear thee unto burial
With the mighty hunters gone;
I shall hear thee in the forest-breeze,
Thou wilt speak of joy, my son!
In the silence of the midnight
I journey with the dead;
But my heart is strong, my step is fleet,
My father's path I tread.
THERE was heard a song on the chiming sea,
A mingled breathing of grief and glee;
Man's voice, unbroken by sighs, was there,
Filling with triumph the sunny air;
Of fresh green lands, and of pastures new,
It sang, while the bark through the surges flew.
But ever and anon
A murmur of farewell
Told, by its plaintive tone
That from woman's lip it fell.
"Away, away o'er the foaming main!"
—This was the free and the joyous strain—
"But alas! that we should go"
—Sang the farewell voices then—
"From the homesteads, warm and low,
By the brook and in the glen!"
"We will rear new homes under trees that glow,
As if gems were the fruitage of every bough;
O'er our white walls we will train the vine,
And sit in its shadow at day's decline;
And watch our herds, as they range at will
Through the green savannas, all bright and, still."
"But woe for that sweet shade
Of the flowering orchard-trees,
"All, all our own shall the forests be,
As to the bound of the roebuck free!
None shall say, 'Hither, no further pass!'
We will track each step through the wavy grass
We will chase the elk in his speed and might,
And bring proud spoils to the hearth at night."
"But, oh! the grey church-tower,
And the sound of Sabbath-bell,
And the shelter'd garden-bower,—
We have bid them all farewell!"
"We will give the names of our fearless race
To each bright river whose course we trace;
We will leave our memory with mounts and floods,
And the path of our daring in boundless woods!
"But who shall teach the flowers,
Which our children loved, to dwell
In a soil that is not ours?
—Home, home and friends, farewell!"
If I could see him, it were well with me!
THERE were lights and sounds of revelling in the vanquish'd city's halls,
As by night the feast of victory was held within its walls;
The grief of Ferdinand, King of Arragon, for the loss of his brother, Don Pedro, who was killed during the siege of Naples, is affectingly described by the historian Mariana. It is also the subject of one of the old Spanish Ballads in Lockhart's beautiful collection.
And the conquerors fill'd the wine cup high, after years of bright blood shed;
But their Lord, the King of Arragon, 'midst the triumph, wail'd the dead.
He look'd down from the fortress won, on the tents and towers below,
The moon-lit sea, the torch-lit streets,—and a gloom came o'er his brow:
The voice of thousands floated up, with the horn and cymbal's tone;
But his heart, 'midst that proud music, felt more utterly alone.
And he cried, "Thou art mine, fair city! thou city of the sea!
But, oh! what portion of delight is mine at last in thee?
"My brother! oh! my brother! thou art gone,—the true and brave,
And the haughty joy of victory hath died upon thy grave;
There are many round my throne to stand, and to march where I lead on;
There was one to love me in the world,—my brother! thou art gone!
"In the desert, in the battle, in the ocean-tempest's wrath,
We stood together, side by side; one hope was ours,—one path;
"I see the festive lights around;—o'er a dull sad world they shine;
I hear the voice of victory—my Pedro! where is thine?
The only voice in whose kind tone my spirit found reply!—
Oh! brother! I have bought too dear this hollow pageantry!
"I have hosts, and gallant fleets, to spread my glory and my sway,
And chiefs to lead them fearlessly;—my friend hath pass'd away!
"I have made thy blood, thy faithful blood, the offering for a crown;
With love, which earth bestows not twice, I have purchased cold renown;
How often will my weary heart 'midst the sounds of triumph die,
When I think of thee, my brother! thou flower of chivalry!
"I am lonely—I am lonely! this rest is even as death!
Let me hear again the ringing spears, and the battle-trumpet's breath;
And louder swell'd the songs of joy through that victorious night,
And faster flow'd the red wine forth, by the stars' and torches' light;
But low and deep, amidst the mirth, was heard the conqueror's moan—
"My brother! oh! my brother! best and bravest! thou art gone!"
"HAST thou come with the heart of thy childhood back?
The free, the pure, the kind?"
—So murmur'd the trees in my homeward track,
As they play'd to the mountain-wind.
"Hath thy soul been true to its early love?"
Whisper'd my native streams;
"Hath the spirit nursed amidst hill and grove,
Still revered its first high dreams?"
"Hast thou borne in thy bosom the holy prayer
Of the child in his parent-halls?"
—Thus breathed a voice on the thrilling air,
From the old ancestral walls.
"Hast thou kept thy faith with the faithful dead,
Whose place of rest is nigh?
With the father's blessing o'er thee shed,
With the mother's trusting eye?"
—Then my tears gush'd forth in sudden rain,
As I answer'd—"O, ye shades!
I bring not my childhood's heart again
To the freedom of your glades.
"I have turn'd from my first pure love aside,
O bright and happy streams!
Light after light, in my soul have died
The day-spring's glorious dreams.
"And the holy prayer from my thoughts hath pass'd—
The prayer at my mother's knee;
Darken'd and troubled I come at last,
Home of my boyish glee!
"But I bear from my childhood a gift of tears,
To soften and atone;
And oh! ye scenes of those blessed years
They shall make me again your own."
Clasp me a little longer, on the brink
Of fate! while I can feel thy dear caress:
And when this heart hath ceased to beat, oh! think—
And let it mitigate thy woe's excess—
That thou to me hast been all tenderness,
And friend, to more than human friendship just.
Oh! by that retrospect of happiness,
And by the hopes of an immortal trust,
God shall assuage thy pangs, when I am laid in dust.
THY voice is in mine ear, beloved!
Thy look is in my heart,
The wife of a Vaudois leader, in one of the attacks made on the Protestant hamlets, received a mortal wound, and died in her husband's arms, exhorting him to courage and endurance.
Thy bosom is my resting-place,
And yet I must depart.
Earth on my soul is strong—too strong—
Too precious is its chain,
All woven of thy love, dear friend,
Yet vain—though mighty—vain!
Thou see'st mine eye grow dim, beloved!
Thou see'st my life-blood flow.—
Bow to the chastener silently,
And calmly let me go!
A little while between our hearts
The shadowy gulf must lie,
Yet have we for their communing
Still, still Eternity!
Alas! thy tears are on my cheek,
My spirit they detain;
I know that from thine agony
Is wrung that burning rain.
But calm thee! Let the thought of death
A solemn peace restore!
The voice that must be silent soon,
Would speak to thee once more,
That thou mayst bear its blessing on
Through years of after life—
A token of consoling love,
Even from this hour of strife.
I bless thee for the noble heart,
The tender, and the true,
Where mine hath found the happiest rest
That e'er fond woman's knew;
I bless thee, faithful friend and guide,
For my own, my treasured share,
I bless thee for kind looks and words
Shower'd on my path like dew,
For all the love in those deep eyes,
A gladness ever new!
For the voice which ne'er to mine replied
But in kindly tones of cheer;
For every spring of happiness
My soul hath tasted here!
I bless thee for the last rich boon
Won from affection tried,
The right to gaze on death with thee,
To perish by thy side!
And yet more for the glorious hope
Even to these moments given—
Did not thy spirit ever lift
The trust of mine to Heaven?
Now be thou strong! Oh! knew we not
Our path must lead to this?
A shadow and a trembling still
Were mingled with our bliss!
We plighted our young hearts when storms
Were dark upon the sky,
In full, deep knowledge of their task
To suffer and to die!
Be strong! I leave the living voice
Of this, my martyr'd blood,
With the thousand echoes of the hills,
With the torrent's foaming flood,—
A spirit 'midst the caves to dwell,
A token on the air,
To rouse the valiant from repose,
The fainting from despair.
Hear it, and bear thou on, my love!
Aye, joyously endure!
All my pretty ones!
Did you say all?
— — — —
Let us make medicine of this great revenge,
To cure this deadly grief!
MY battle vow!—no minster walls
Gave back the burning word,
Nor cross nor shrine the low deep tone
Of smother'd vengeance heard:
But the ashes of a ruin'd home
Thrill'd, as it sternly rose,
With the mingling voice of blood that shook
The midnight's dark repose.
I breathed it not o'er kingly tombs,
But where my children lay,
And the startled vulture at my step,
Soar'd from their precious clay.
I stood amidst my dead alone—
I kiss'd their lips—I pour'd,
In the strong silence of that hour,
My spirit on my sword.
The roof-tree fall'n, the smouldering floor,
The blacken'd threshold-stone,
The bright hair torn, and soil'd with blood,
Whose fountain was my own;
These, and the everlasting hills,
Bore witness that wild night;
Before them rose th' avenger's soul,
In crush'd affection's might.
The stars, the searching stars of heaven,
With keen looks would upbraid,
And other eyes are on my soul,
That never, never close,
The sad, sweet glances of the lost—
They leave me no repose.
Haunting my night-watch 'midst the rocks,
And by the torrent's foam,
Through the dark-rolling mists they shine,
Full, full of love and home!
Alas! the mountain eagle's heart,
When wrong'd, may yet find rest;
Scorning the place made desolate,
He seeks another nest.
Thither where he lies buried!
That single spot is the whole world to me.
THY voice was in my soul! it call'd me on;
O my lost friend! thy voice was in my soul:
From the cold, faded world, whence thou art gone,
To hear no more life's troubled billows roll,
I come, I come!
Now speak to me again! we loved so well—
We loved! oh! still, I know that still we love!
I have left all things with thy dust to dwell,
Through these dim aisles in dreams of thee to rove:
This is my home!
See Wallenstein, Act 6th.
Speak to me in the thrilling minster's gloom!
Speak! thou hast died, and sent me no farewell!
I will not shrink;—oh! mighty is the tomb,
But one thing mightier, which it cannot quell,
This woman's heart!
This lone, full, fragile heart!—the strong alone
In love and grief—of both the burning shrine!
Thou, my soul's friend! with grief hast surely done,
But with the love which made thy spirit mine,
Say, couldst thou part?
I hear the rustling banners; and I hear
The wind's low singing through the fretted stone;
I hear not thee; and yet I feel thee near—
What is this bound that keeps thee from thine own?
Breathe it away!
I wait thee—I adjure thee! hast thou known
How I have loved thee? couldst thou dream it all?
Thou canst not come! or thus I should not weep!
Thy love is deathless—but no longer free!
Soon would its wing triumphantly o'ersweep
The viewless barrier, if such power might be,
Soon, soon, and fast!
But I shall come to thee! our souls' deep dreams,
Our young affections, have not gush'd in vain;
Soon in one tide shall blend the sever'd streams,
The worn heart break its bonds—and death and pain
Be with the past!
As are our hearts, our way is one,
And cannot be divided. Strong affection
Contends with all things, and o'ercometh all things.
Will I not live with thee? will I not cheer thee?
Wouldst thou be lonely then? wouldst thou be sad?
"SISTER, sweet Sister! let me weep awhile!
Bear with me—give the sudden passion way!
Thoughts of our own lost home, our sunny isle,
Come, as a wind that o'er a reed hath sway;
Till my heart dies with yearnings and sick fears;—
Oh! could my life melt from me in these tears!
"Our father's voice, our mother's gentle eye,
Our brother's bounding step—where are they, where?
Desolate, desolate our chambers lie!
—How hast thou won thy spirit from despair?
O'er mine swift shadows, gusts of terror, sweep;—
I sink away—bear with me—let me weep!"
"Yes! weep, my Sister! weep, till from thy heart
The weight flow forth in tears; yet sink thou not!
I bind my sorrow to a lofty part,
For thee, my gentle one! our orphan lot
To meet in quenchless trust; my soul is strong—
Thou, too, wilt rise in holy might ere long.
"A breath of our free heavens and noble sires,
A memory of our old victorious dead,—
These mantle me with power! and though their fires
In a frail censer briefly may be shed,
Yet shall they light us onward, side by side;—
Have the wild birds, and have not we, a guide?
"Cheer, then, beloved! on whose meek brow is set
Our mother's image—in whose voice a tone,
A faint sweet sound of hers is lingering yet,
An echo of our childhood's music gone;—
Cheer thee! thy Sister's heart and faith are high;
Our path is one—with thee I live and die!"
The celebrated Spanish champion, Bernardo del Carpio, having made many ineffectual efforts to procure the release of his father, the Count Saldana, who had been imprisoned by King Alfonso of Asturias, almost from the time of Bernardo's birth, at last took up arms in despair. The war which he maintained proved so destructive, that the men of the land gathered round the King, and united in demanding Saldana's liberty. Alfonso, accordingly, offered Bernardo immediate possession of his father's person, in exchange for his castle of Carpio. Bernardo, without hesitation, gave up his stronghold, with all his captives; and being assured that his father was then on his way from prison, rode forth with the king to meet him. "And when he saw his father approaching, he exclaimed," says the ancient chronicle, " 'Oh, God! is the Count of Saldana indeed coming?'—'Look where he is,' replied the cruel King, 'and now go and greet him whom you have so long desired to see.' " The remainder of the story will be found related in the ballad. The chronicles and romances leave us nearly in the dark as to Bernardo's history after this event.
THE warrior bow'd his crested head, and tamed his heart of fire,
And sued the haughty king to free his long-imprison'd sire;
"Rise, rise! even now thy father comes, a ransom'd man this day;
Mount thy good horse, and thou and I will meet him on his way."
Then lightly rose that loyal son, and bounded on his steed,
And urged, as if with lance in rest, the charger's foamy speed.
And lo! from far, as on they press'd, there came a glittering band,
With one that 'midst them stately rode, as a leader in the land;
His dark eye flash'd, his proud breast heaved, his cheek's blood came and went;
He reach'd that grey-hair'd chieftain's side, and there, dismounting, bent;
A lowly knee to earth he bent, his father's hand he took,—
What was there in its touch that all his fiery spirit shook?
That hand was cold—a frozen thing—it dropp'd from his like lead,—
He look'd up to the face above—the face was of the dead!
Up from the ground he sprung, and gazed, but who could paint that gaze?
They hush'd their very hearts, that saw its horror and amaze;
They might have chain'd him, as before that stony form he stood,
For the power was stricken from his arm, and from his lip the blood.
"Father!" at length he murmur'd low—and wept like childhood then,—
Talk not of grief till thou hast seen the tears of warlike men!—
Then covering with his steel-gloved hands his darkly mournful brow,
"No more, there is no more," he said, "to lift the sword for now.—
My king is false, my hope betray'd, my Father—oh! the worth,
The glory, and the loveliness, are pass'd away from earth!
"I thought to stand where banners waved, my sire! beside thee yet,
I would that there our kindred blood on Spain's free soil had met,—
Then, starting from the ground once more, he seized the monarch's rein,
Amidst the pale and wilder'd looks of all the courtier train;
And with a fierce, o'ermastering grasp, the rearing war-horse led,
And sternly set them face to face,—the king before the dead!—
"Came I not forth upon thy pledge, my father's hand to kiss?—
Be still, and gaze thou on, false king! and tell me what is this!
"Into these glassy eyes put light,—be still! keep down thine ire,—
Bid these white lips a blessing speak—this earth is not my sire!
Give me back him for whom I strove, for whom my blood was shed,—
Thou canst not—and a king?—His dust be mountains on thy head!"
He loosed the steed; his slack hand fell,—upon the silent face
He cast one long, deep, troubled look,—then turn'd from that sad place:
To a mysteriously consorted pair
This place is consecrate; to death and life,
And to the best affections that proceed
From this conjunction.
HOW many hopes were borne upon thy bier,
O bride of stricken love! in anguish hither!
Like flowers, the first and fairest of the year
Pluck'd on the bosom of the dead to wither;
At Hindelbank, near Berne, she is represented as bursting from the sepulchre, with her infant in her arms, at the sound of the last trumpet. An inscription on the tomb concludes thus:— "Here am I, O God! with the child whom thou hast given me."
Hopes, from their source all holy, tho' of earth,
All brightly gathering round affection's hearth,
Of mingled prayer they told; of Sabbath hours;
Of morn's farewell, and evening's blessed meeting;
Of childhood's voice, amidst the household bowers;
And bounding step, and smile of joyous greeting;—
But thou, young mother! to thy gentle heart
Didst take thy babe, and meekly so depart.
How many hopes have sprung in radiance hence!
Their trace yet lights the dust where thou art sleeping!
A solemn joy comes o'er me, and a sense
Of triumph, blent with nature's gush of weeping,
As, kindling up the silent stone, I see
The glorious vision, caught by faith, of thee.
Slumberer! love calls thee, for the night is past;
Put on the immortal beauty of thy waking!
Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
Nor the furious Winter's rages,
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages.
THERE went a dirge through the forest's gloom.
—An exile was borne to a lonely tomb.
Published in the Winter's Wreath for 1830.
"Brother!" (so the chant was sung
In the slumberer's native tongue,)
"Friend and brother! not for thee
Shall the sound of weeping be:—
Long the Exile's woe hath lain
On thy life a withering chain;
Music from thine own blue streams,
Wander'd through thy fever-dreams;
Voices from thy country's vines,
Met thee 'midst the alien pines,
And thy true heart died away;
And thy spirit would not stay."
So swell'd the chant; and the deep wind's moan
Seem'd through the cedars to murmur—"Gone!"
"Brother! by the rolling Rhine,
Stands the home that once was thine—
Brother! now thy dwelling lies
Where the Indian arrow flies!
"The Fatherland!"—with that sweet word
A burst of tears 'midst the strain was heard.
"Brother! were we there with thee
Rich would many a meeting be!
Many a broken garland bound,
Many a mourn'd and lost one found!
But our task is still to bear,
Still to breathe in changeful air;
And the requiem died in the forest's gloom;—
They had reach'd the Exile's lonely tomb.
Alas! what kind of grief should thy years know?
Thy brow and cheek are smooth as waters be
When no breath troubles them.
AND is there sadness in thy dreams, my boy?
What should the cloud be made of?—blessed child!
Thy spirit, borne upon a breeze of joy,
All day hath ranged through sunshine, clear, yet mild:
And now thou tremblest!—wherefore?—in thy soul
There lies no past, no future.—Thou hast heard
No sound of presage from the distance roll,
Thy heart bears traces of no arrowy word.
From thee no love hath gone; thy mind's young eye
Hath look'd not into Death's, and thence become
A questioner of mute Eternity,
A weary searcher for a viewless home:
Nor hath thy sense been quicken'd unto pain,
By feverish watching for some step beloved;
Free are thy thoughts, an ever-changeful train,
Glancing like dewdrops, and as lightly moved.
Yet now, on billows of strange passion toss'd,
How art thou wilder'd in the cave of sleep!
My gentle child! 'midst what dim phantoms lost,
Thus in mysterious anguish dost thou weep?
Awake! they sadden me—those early tears,
First gushings of the strong dark river's flow,
That must o'ersweep thy soul with coming years
Th' unfathomable flood of human woe!
Awful to watch, ev'n rolling through a dream,
Forcing wild spray-drops but from childhood's eyes!
Wake, wake! as yet thy life's transparent stream
Should wear the tinge of none but summer skies.
Come from the shadow of those realms unknown,
Where now thy thoughts dismay'd and darkling rove;
Come to the kindly region all thine own,
The home, still bright for thee with guardian love.
Happy, fair child! that yet a mother's voice
Can win thee back from visionary strife!—
Oh! shall my soul, thus waken'd to rejoice,
Start from the dreamlike wilderness of life?
Oh! that those lips had language!—Life hath pass'd
With me but roughly since I saw thee last.
THINE eyes are charm'd—thine earnest eyes—
Thou image of the dead!
A spell within their sweetness lies,
A virtue thence is shed.
Oft in their meek blue light enshrined,
A blessing seems to be,
And sometimes there my wayward mind
A still reproach can see:
And sometimes Pity—soft and deep,
And quivering through a tear;
Even as if Love in Heaven could weep,
For Grief left drooping here.
And oh! my spirit needs that balm,
Needs it 'midst fitful mirth;
And in the night-hour's haunted calm,
And by the lonely hearth.
Look on me thus, when hollow praise
Hath made the weary pine
For one true tone of other days,
One glance of love like thine!
Look on me thus, when sudden glee
Bears my quick heart along,
On wings that struggle to be free,
As bursts of skylark song.
In vain, in vain!—too soon are felt
The wounds they cannot flee;
Better in childlike tears to melt,
Pouring my soul on thee!
Sweet face, that o'er my childhood shone,
Whence is thy power of change,
Thus ever shadowing back my own,
The rapid and the strange?
Whence are they charm'd—those earnest eyes?
—I know the mystery well!
In mine own trembling bosom lies
The spirit of the spell!
Of Memory, Conscience, Love, 'tis born—
Oh! change no longer, thou!
For ever be the blessing worn
On thy pure thoughtful brow!
more, and I am free.
LEAVE me, oh! leave me!—unto all below
Thy presence binds me with too keep a spell;
Thou mak'st those mortal regions, whence I go,
Too mighty in their loveliness—farewell,
That I may part in peace!
Leave me!—thy footstep, with its lightest sound,
The very shadow of thy waving hair,
Wakes in my soul a feeling too profound,
Too strong for aught that loves and dies, to bear—
Oh! bid the conflict cease!
I hear thy whisper—and the warm tears gush
Into mine eyes, the quick pulse thrills my heart;
Thou bid'st the peace, the reverential hush,
The still submission, from my thoughts depart;
Dear one! this must not be.
The past looks on me from thy mournful eye,
The beauty of our free and vernal days;
Our communings with sea, and hill, and sky—
Oh! take that bright world from my spirit's gaze!
Thou art all earth to me!
Shut out the sunshine from my dying room,
The jasmine's breath, the murmur of the bee;
Let not the joy of bird-notes pierce the gloom!
They speak of love, of summer, and of thee,
Too much—and death is here!
Doth our own spring make happy music now,
From the old beech-roots flashing into day?
If I could but draw courage from the light
Of thy clear eye, that ever shone to bless!
—Not now! 'twill not be now!—my aching sight
Drinks from that fount a flood of tenderness,
Bearing till strength away!
Leave me!—thou com'st between my heart and Heaven!
I would be still, in voiceless prayer to die!
—Why must our souls thus love, and then be riven?
—Return! thy parting wakes mine agony!
—Oh, yet awhile delay!
THOU'RT passing hence, my brother!
Oh! my earliest friend, farewell!
Thou'rt leaving me, without thy voice,
In a lonely home to dwell;
And from the hills, and from the hearth,
And from the household-tree,
With thee departs the lingering mirth,
The brightness goes with thee.
"Messages from the living to the dead are not uncommon in the Highlands. The Gael have such a ceaseless consciousness of immortality, that their departed friends are considered as merely absent for a time, and permitted to relieve the hours of separation by occasional intercourse with the objects of their earliest affections."—See the Notes to Mrs Brunton's Works.
But thou, my friend, my brother!
Thou'rt speeding to the shore
Where the dirgelike tone of parting words
Shall smite the soul no more!
And thou wilt see our holy dead,
The lost on earth and main;
Into the sheaf of kindred hearts,
Thou wilt be bound again!
Tell, then, our friend of boyhood,
That yet his name is heard
On the blue mountains, whence his youth
Pass'd like a swift bright bird.
The light of his exulting brow,
The vision of his glee,
Are on me still—Oh! still I trust
That smile again to see.
And tell our fair young sister,
The rose cut down in spring,
And tell our white-hair'd father,
That in the paths he trode,
The child he loved, the last on earth,
Yet walks and worships God.
Say, that his last fond blessing yet
Rests on my soul like dew,
And by its hallowing might I trust
Once more his face to view.
And tell our gentle mother,
That on her grave I pour
The sorrows of my spirit forth,
As on her breast of yore.
Oh! if the soul immortal be,
Is not its love immortal too?
SEEST thou my home?—'tis where yon woods are waving,
In their dark richness, to the summer air;
Where yon blue stream, a thousand flower-banks laving,
Leads down the hills a vein of light,—'tis there!
'Midst those green wilds how many a fount lies gleaming,
Fringed with the violet, colour'd with the skies!
My home! the spirit of its love is breathing
In every wind that plays across my track;
From its white walls the very tendrils wreathing,
Seem with soft links to draw the wanderer back.
There am I loved—there pray'd for—there my mother
Sits by the hearth with meekly thoughtful eye;
There my young sisters watch to greet their brother
—Soon their glad footsteps down the path will fly.
There, in sweet strains of kindred music blending,
All the home-voices meet at day's decline;
One are those tones, as from one heart ascending,—
There laughs my home—sad stranger! where is thine?
Ask'st thou of mine?—In solemn peace 'tis lying,
Far o'er the deserts and the tombs away;
'Tis where I, too, am loved with love undying,
And fond hearts wait my step—But where are they?
Ask where the earth's departed have their dwelling;
Ask of the clouds, the stars, the trackless air!
I know it not, yet trust the whisper, telling
My lonely heart, that love unchanged is there.
And what is home, and where, but with the loving?
Happy thou art, that so canst gaze on thine!
My spirit feels but, in its weary roving,
That with the dead, where'er they be, is mine.
Go to thy home, rejoicing son and brother!
Bear in fresh gladness to the household scene!
For me, too, watch the sister and the mother,
I well believe—but dark seas roll between.
LIKE thee to die, thou sun!—My boyhood's dream
Was this; and now my spirit, with thy beam,
Ebbs from a field of victory!—yet the hour
Bears back upon me, with a torrent's power,
Nature's deep longings:—Oh! for some kind eye,
Wherein to meet love's fervent farewell gaze;
Some breast to pillow life's last agony,
Some voice, to speak of hope and brighter days,
True, indeed, it is,
That they whom death has hidden from our sight,
Are worthiest of the mind's regard; with them
The future cannot contradict the past—
Mortality's last exercise and proof
The love where death has set his seal,
Nor age can chill, nor rival steal,
Nor falsehood disavow.
I CALL thee blest!—though now the voice be fled,
Which, to thy soul, brought dayspring with its tone,
And o'er the gentle eyes though dust be spread,
Eyes that ne'er look'd on thine but light was thrown
Far through thy breast:
And though the music of thy life be broken,
Or changed in every chord, since he is gone,
Feeling all this, even yet, by many a token,
O thou, the deeply, but the brightly lone!
I call thee blest!
For in thy heart there is a holy spot,
As 'mid the waste an Isle of fount and palm,
For ever green!—the world's breath enters not,
The passion-tempests may not break its calm;
'Tis thine, all thine!
Thither, in trust unbaffled, mayst thou turn,
From bitter words, cold greetings, heartless eyes,
Quenching thy soul's thirst at the hidden urn,
That, fill'd with waters of sweet memory, lies
In its own shrine.
Thou hast thy home!—there is no power in change
To reach that temple of the past;—no sway,
And oh! that glorious image of the dead!
Sole thing whereon a deathless love may rest,
And in deep faith and dreamy worship shed
Its high gifts fearlessly!—I call thee blest,
If only there!
Blest, for the beautiful within thee dwelling,
Never to fade!—a refuge from distrust,
A spring of purer life, still freshly welling,
To clothe the barrenness of earthly dust
With flowers divine.
And thou hast been beloved!—it is no dream,
No false mirage for thee, the fervent love,
The rainbow still unreach'd, the ideal gleam,
That ever seems before, beyond, above,
Far off to shine.
But thou, from all the daughters of the earth
Singled and mark'd, hast known its home and place;
And the high memory of its holy worth,
To this our life a glory and a grace
For thee hath given.
And art thou not still fondly, truly loved?
Thou art!—the love his spirit bore away,
Was not for death!—a treasure but removed,
A bright bird parted for a clearer day,—
Thine still in Heaven!
And dreams, in their developement, have breath,
And tears, and tortures, and the touch of joy;
They leave a weight upon our waking thoughts,
They make us what we were not—what they will,
And shake us with the vision that's gone by.
O SPIRIT-LAND! thou land of dreams!
A world thou art of mysterious gleams,
Of startling voices, and sounds at strife,—
A world of the dead in the hues of life.
Like a wizard's magic glass thou art,
When the wavy shadows float by, and part:
Visions of aspects, now loved, now strange,
Glimmering and mingling in ceaseless change.
Thou art like a city of the past,
With its gorgeous halls into fragments cast,
Amidst whose ruins there glide and play
Familiar forms of the world's to-day.
Thou art like the depths where the seas have birth,
Rich with the wealth that is lost from earth,—
All the sere flowers of our days gone by,
And the buried gems in thy bosom lie.
Yes! thou art like those dim sea-caves,
A realm of treasures, a realm of graves!
And the shapes through thy mysteries that come and go,
Are of beauty and terror, of power and woe.
But for me, O thou picture-land of sleep!
Thou art all one world of affections deep,—
And wrung from my heart is each flushing dye,
That sweeps o'er thy chambers of imagery.
And thy bowers are fair—even as Eden fair;
All the beloved of my soul are there!
The forms my spirit most pines to see,
The eyes, whose love hath been life to me:
They are there,—and each blessed voice I hear,
Kindly, and joyous, and silvery clear;
But under-tones are in each, that say,—
"It is but a dream; it will melt away!"
I walk with sweet friends in the sunset's glow;
I listen to music of long ago;
But one thought, like an omen, breathes faint through the lay,—
"It is but a dream; it will melt away!"
I sit by the hearth of my early days;
All the home-faces are met by the blaze,—
And the eyes of the mother shine soft, yet say,
"It is but a dream; it will melt away!"
And away, like a flower's passing breath, 'tis gone,
And I wake more sadly, more deeply lone!
Oh! a haunted heart is a weight to bear,—
Bright faces, kind voices! where are ye, where?
Shadow not forth, O thou land of dreams,
The past, as it fled by my own blue streams!
Make not my spirit within me burn
For the scenes and the hours that may ne'er return!
Call out from the future thy visions bright,
From the world o'er the grave, take thy solemn light,
And oh! with the loved, whom no more I see,
Show me my home, as it yet may be!
As it yet may be in some purer sphere,
No cloud, no parting, no sleepless fear;
So my soul may bear on through the long, long day,
Till I go where the beautiful melts not away!
Where hath not woman stood,
Strong in affection's might? a reed, upborne
By an o'ermastering current!
GENTLE and lovely form,
What didst thou here,
When the fierce battle-storm
Bore down the spear?
Banner and shiver'd crest,
Beside thee strown,
Tell, that amidst the best,
Thy work was done!
Yet strangely, sadly fair,
O'er the wild scene,
Gleams, through its golden hair,
That brow serene.
Low lies the stately head,—
Earth-bound the free;
How gave those haughty dead
A place to thee?
Slumberer! thine early bier
Friends should have crown'd,
Many a flower and tear
Soft voices, clear and young,
Mingling their swell,
Should o'er thy dust have sung
Earth's last farewell.
Sisters, above the grave
Of thy repose,
Should have bid violets wave
With the white rose.
Now must the trumpet's note,
Savage and shrill,
For requiem o'er thee float,
Thou fair and still!
And the swift charger sweep,
In full career,
Trampling thy place of sleep,—
Why camest thou here?
Why?—ask the true heart why
Woman hath been
Ever, where brave men die,
Unto this harvest ground
Proud reapers came,—
Some, for that stirring sound,
A warrior's name;
Some, for the stormy play
And joy of strife;
And some, to fling away
A weary life;—
But thou, pale sleeper, thou,
With the slight frame,
And the rich locks, whose glow
Death cannot tame;
Only one thought, one power,
Thee could have led,
So, through the tempest's hour,
To lift thy head!
Only the true, the strong,
The love, whose trust
Woman's deep soul too long
Pours on the dust!
GLOOM is upon thy lonely hearth,
O silent house! once fill'd with mirth;
Sorrow is in the breezy sound
Of thy tall poplars whispering round.
The shadow of departed hours
Hangs dim upon thine early flowers;
Even in thy sunshine seems to brood
Something more deep than solitude.
Fair art thou, fair to a stranger's gaze,
Mine own sweet home of other days!
My children's birth-place! yet for me,
It is too much to look on thee.
Too much! for all about thee spread,
I feel the memory of the dead,
And almost linger for the feet
That never more my step shall meet.
The looks, the smiles, all vanish'd now,
Follow me where thy roses blow;
The echoes of kind household-words
Are with me 'midst thy singing birds.
Till my heart dies, it dies away
In yearnings for what might not stay;
For love which ne'er deceived my trust,
For all which went with "dust to dust!"
What now is left me, but to raise
From thee, lorn spot! my spirit's gaze,
To lift, through tears, my straining eye
Up to my Father's house on high?
Oh! many are the mansions there,∗
But not in one hath grief a share!
No haunting shade from things gone by,
May there o'ersweep the unchanging sky.
And they are there, whose long-loved mien
In earthly home no more is seen;
Whose places, where they smiling sate,
Are left unto us desolate.
We miss them when the board is spread;
We miss them when the prayer is said;
Upon our dreams their dying eyes
In still and mournful fondness rise.
But they are where these longings vain
Trouble no more the heart and brain;
In my father's house there are many mansions.JOHN, chap. xiv.
The sadness of this aching love
Dims not our Father's house above.
Ye are at rest, and I in tears,∗
Ye dwellers of immortal spheres!
Under the poplar boughs I stand,
And mourn the broken household band.
But, by your life of lowly faith,
And by your joyful hope in death,
Guide me, till on some brighter shore,
The sever'd wreath is bound once more!
Holy ye were, and good, and true!
No change can cloud my thoughts of you;
Guide me, like you to live and die,
And reach my Father's house on high!
From an ancient Hebrew dirge:
"Mourn for the mourner, and not for the dead;
For he is at rest, and we in tears!"
THE stranger's heart! Oh! wound it not!
A yearning anguish is its lot!
In the green shadow of thy tree,
The stranger finds no rest with thee.
Thou think'st the vine's low rustling leaves
Glad music round thy household eaves;
To him that sound hath sorrow's tone—
The stranger's heart is with his own.
Thou think'st thy children's laughing play
A lovely sight at fall of day;—
Then are the stranger's thoughts oppress'd—
His mother's voice comes o'er his breast.
Thou think'st it sweet when friend with friend
Beneath one roof in prayer may blend;
Then doth the stranger's eye grow dim—
Far, far are those who pray'd with him.
Thy hearth, thy home, thy vintage land—
The voices of thy kindred band—
Oh! 'midst them all when blest thou art,
Deal gently with the stranger's heart!
COME home!—there is a sorrowing breath
In music since ye went,
And the early flower-scents wander by,
With mournful memories blent.
The tones in every household voice
Are grown more sad and deep,
And the sweet word—brother—wakes a wish
To turn aside and weep.
O ye Beloved! come home!—the hour
Of many a greeting tone,
The time of hearth-light and of song,
Returns—and ye are gone!
And darkly, heavily it falls
On the forsaken room,
Where finds it you, ye wandering ones?
With all your boyhood's glee
Untamed, beneath the desert's palm,
Or on the lone mid-sea?
By stormy hills of battles old?
Or where dark rivers foam?
—Oh! life is dim where ye are not—
Back, ye beloved, come home!
Come with the leaves and winds of spring,
And swift birds, o'er the main!
Our love is grown too sorrowful—
Bring us its youth again!
Bring the glad tones to music back!
Still, still your home is fair,
The spirit of your sunny life
Alone is wanting there!
ONE draught, kind Fairy! from that fountain deep,
To lay the phantoms of a haunted breast,
And lone affections, which are griefs, to steep
In the cool honey-dews of dreamless rest;
And from the soul the lightning-marks to lave—
One draught of that sweet wave!
Quoted from a letter of Lord Byron's. He describes the impression produced upon him by some tombs at Bologna, bearing this simple inscription, and adds, "When I die, I could wish that some friend would see these words, and no other, placed above my grave— 'Implora pace.' "
Yet, mortal, pause!—within thy mind is laid
Wealth, gather'd long and slowly; thoughts divine
Heap that full treasure-house; and thou hast made
The gems of many a spirit's ocean thine;
—Shall the dark waters to oblivion bear
A pyramid so fair?
Pour from the fount! and let the draught efface
All the vain lore by memory's pride amass'd,
So it but sweep along the torrent's trace,
And fill the hollow channels of the past;
And from the bosom's inmost folded leaf,
Rase the one master-grief!
Yet pause once more!—all, all thy soul hath known,
Loved, felt, rejoiced in, from its grasp must fade!
Is there no voice whose kind awakening tone
A sense of spring-time in thy heart hath made?
No eye whose glance thy day-dreams would recall?
—Think—wouldst thou part with all?
Fill with forgetfulness!—there are, there are
Voices whose music I have loved too well;
Eyes of deep gentleness—but they are far—
Never! oh—never, in my home to dwell!
Take their soft looks from off my yearning soul—
Fill high th' oblivious bowl!
Yet pause again!—with memory wilt thou cast
The undying hope away, of memory born?
Hope of re-union, heart to heart at last,
No restless doubt between, no rankling thorn?
Wouldst thou erase all records of delight
That make such visions bright?
Fill with forgetfulness, fill high!—yet stay—
—'Tis from the past we shadow forth the land
Where smiles, long lost, again shall light our way,
And the soul's friends be wreath'd in one bright band;
—Pour the sweet waters back on their own rill,
I must remember still.
For their sake, for the dead—whose image nought
May dim within the temple of my breast—
For their love's sake, which now no earthly thought
May shake or trouble with its own unrest,
Though the past haunt me as a spirit,—yet
I ask not to forget.
We bear her home! we bear her home!
Over the murmuring salt sea's foam;
One who has fled from the war of life,
From sorrow, pain, and the fever strife.
BRIDE! upon thy marriage day,
When thy gems in rich array
Made the glistening mirror seem
As a star-reflecting stream;
Bride! when through the stately lane,
'Circled with thy nuptial train,
'Midst the banners hung on high
By thy warrior-ancestry,
There were sounds of weeping o'er thee,
Bride! as forth thy kindred bore thee,
Shrouded in thy gleaming veil,
Deaf to that wild funeral wail.
Yet perchance a chastening thought,
In some deeper spirit wrought,
A long war disturb'd your mind—
Here your perfect peace is sign'd;
'Tis now full tide 'twixt night and day,
End your moan, and come away!
THERE were faint sounds of weeping;—fear and gloom
And midnight vigil in a stately room
Of Lusignan's old halls:—rich odours there
Fill'd the proud chamber as with Indian air,
And soft light fell, from lamps of silver thrown,
On jewels that with rainbow lustre shone
Over a gorgeous couch:—there emeralds gleam'd,
And deeper crimson from the ruby stream'd
Come, come, come!
Long thy fainting soul hath yearn'd
For the step that ne'er return'd;
Long thine anxious ear hath listen'd,
And thy watchful eye hath glisten'd
From the quenchless thoughts that burn
In the seal'd heart's lonely urn;
From the coil of memory's chain
Wound about the throbbing brain;
From the veins of sorrow deep,
Winding through the world of sleep;
From the haunted halls and bowers,
Throng'd with ghosts of happier hours!
Come, come, come!
On our dim and distant shore
Aching love is felt no more!
We have loved with earth's excess—
Past is now that weariness!
Weary heart that long hast bled,
Languid spirit, drooping head,
Restless memory, vain regret,
Pining love whose light is set,
Come away!—'tis hush'd, 'tis well!
Where by shadowy founts we dwell,
All the fever-thirst is still'd,
All the air with peace is fill'd,—
Come, come, come!
And with her spirit rapt in that wild lay,
She pass'd, as twilight melts to night, away!
How lived, how loved, how died they?
"THE Dead! the glorious Dead!—And shall they rise?
Shall they look on thee with their proud bright eyes?
Thou ask'st a fearful spell!
Yet say, from shrine or dim sepulchral hall,
What kingly vision shall obey my call?
The deep grave knows it well!
"Wouldst thou behold earth's conquerors? shall they pass
Before thee, flushing all the Magic Glass
With triumph's long array?
"Or wouldst thou look upon the lords of song?—
O'er the dark mirror that immortal throng
Shall waft a solemn gleam!
Passing, with lighted eyes and radiant brows,
Under the foliage of green laurel-boughs,
But silent as a dream."
"Not these, O mighty master!—Though their lays
Be unto man's free heart, and tears, and praise,
Hallow'd for evermore!
And not the buried conquerors! Let them sleep,
And let the flowery earth her Sabbaths keep
In joy, from shore to shore!
"But, if the narrow house may so be moved,
Call the bright shadows of the most beloved,
Back from their couch of rest!
"Away, fond youth!—An idle quest is thine;
These have no trophy, no memorial shrine;
I know not of their place!
'Midst the dim valleys, with a sacred flow,
Their lives, like shepherd reed-notes, faint and low,
Have pass'd and left no trace.
"Haply, begirt with shadowy woods and hills,
And the wild sounds of melancholy rills,
Their covering turf may bloom;
But ne'er hath Fame made relics of its flowers,—
Never hath pilgrim sought their household bowers,
Or poet hail'd their tomb."
"Adieu, then, master of the midnight spell!
Some voice, perchance, by those lone graves may tell
That which I pine to know!
Originally published in the Literary Souvenir for 1830.
DAUGHTER of th' Italian heaven!
Thou, to whom its fires are given,
Joyously thy car hath roll'd
Where the conqueror's pass'd of old;
And the festal sun that shone,
O'er three∗ hundred triumphs gone,
Makes thy day of glory bright,
With a shower of golden light.
The trebly hundred triumphs.—BYRON.
Now thou tread'st th' ascending road,
Freedom's foot so proudly trode;
While, from tombs of heroes borne,
From the dust of empire shorn,
Flowers upon thy graceful head,
Chaplets of all hues, are shed,
In a soft and rosy rain,
Touch'd with many a gemlike stain.
Thou hast gain'd the summit now!
Music hails thee from below;—
Music, whose rich notes might stir
Ashes of the sepulchre;
Shaking with victorious notes
All the bright air as it floats.
Well may woman's heart beat high
Unto that proud harmony!
Now afar it rolls—it dies—
And thy voice is heard to rise
All the spirit of thy sky
Now hath lit thy large dark eye,
And thy cheek a flush hath caught
From the joy of kindled thought;
And the burning words of song
From thy lip flow fast and strong,
With a rushing stream's delight
In the freedom of its might.
Radiant daughter of the sun!
Now thy living wreath is won.
Crown'd of Rome!—Oh! art thou not
Happy in that glorious lot?—
Oh! 'tis the heart that magnifies this life,
Making a truth and beauty of its own.
Birth has gladden'd it: Death has sanctified it.
NO dower of storied song is thine,
O desolate abode!
Forth from thy gates no glittering line
Of lance and spear hath flow'd.
Banners of knighthood have not flung
Proud drapery o'er thy walls,
Nor bugle notes to battle rung
Through thy resounding halls.
Nor have rich bowers of pleasaunce here
By courtly hands been dress'd,
For Princes, from the chase of deer,
Under green leaves to rest:
Only some rose, yet lingering bright
Beside thy casements lone,
Tells where the spirit of delight
Hath dwelt, and now is gone.
Yet minstrel tale of harp and sword,
And sovereign beauty's lot,
House of quench'd light and silent board
For me thou needest not.
It is enough to know that here,
Where thoughtfully I stand,
Sorrow and love, and hope and fear,
Have link'd one kindred band.
Thou bindest me with mighty spells!
—A solemnizing breath,
Thou hast heard many sounds, thou hearth!
Deserted now by all!
Voices at eve here met in mirth
Which eve may ne'er recall.
Youth's buoyant step, and woman's tone,
And childhood's laughing glee,
And song and prayer, have all been known,
Hearth of the dead! to thee.
Thou hast heard blessings fondly pour'd
Upon the infant head,
As if in every fervent word
The living soul were shed;
Here, by the restless bed of pain,
The vigil hath been kept,
Till sunrise, bright with hope in vain,
Burst forth on eyes that wept:
Here hath been felt the hush, the gloom,
The breathless influence, shed
Through the dim dwelling, from the room
Wherein reposed the dead.
The seat left void, the missing face,
Have here been mark'd and mourn'd,
And time hath fill'd the vacant place,
And gladness hath return'd;
Till from the narrowing household chain
The links dropp'd one by one!
Is there not cause, then—cause for thought,
Fix'd eye and lingering tread,
Where, with their thousand mysteries fraught,
Ev'n lowliest hearts have bled?
Where, in its ever-haunting thirst
For draughts of purer day,
Man's soul, with fitful strength, hath burst
The clouds that wrapt its way?
Holy to human nature seems
The long-forsaken spot;
To deep affections, tender dreams,
Hopes of a brighter lot!
Therefore in silent reverence here,
Hearth of the dead! I stand,
Where joy and sorrow, smile and tear,
Have link'd one household band.
A fit abode, wherein appear enshrined
Our hopes of immortality.
SPEAK low!—the place is holy to the breath
Of awful harmonies, of whisper'd prayer;
Tread lightly!—for the sanctity of death
Broods with a voiceless influence on the air;
Stern, yet serene!—a reconciling spell,
Each troubled billow of the soul to quell.
Leave me to linger silently awhile!
—Not for the light that pours its fervid streams
Not for rich music, though in triumph pealing,
Mighty as forest sounds when winds are high;
Nor yet for torch, and cross, and stole, revealing
Through incense-mists their sainted pageantry:—
Though o'er the spirit each hath charm and power,
Yet not for these I ask one lingering hour.
But by strong sympathies, whose silver cord
Links me to mortal weal, my soul is bound;
Thoughts of the human hearts, that here have pour'd
Their anguish forth, are with me and around;—
I look back on the pangs, the burning tears,
Known to these altars of a thousand years.
Send up a murmur from the dust, Remorse!
That here hast bow'd with ashes on thy head;
No voice, no breath!—of conflicts past, no trace!
—Doth not this hush give answer to my quest?
Surely the dread religion of the place
By every grief hath made its might confest!
—Oh! that within my heart I could but keep
Holy to Heaven, a spot thus pure, and still, and deep!
And storm, and darkness! ye are wondrous strong
Yet lovely in your strength!
I COME to thee, O Earth!
With all my gifts!—for every flower sweet dew,
In bell, and urn, and chalice, to renew
The glory of its birth.
Not one which glimmering lies
Far amidst folding hills, or forest leaves,
But, through its veins of beauty, so receives
A spirit of fresh dyes.
I come with every star;
Making thy streams, that on their noon-day track,
Give but the moss, the reed, the lily back,
Mirrors of worlds afar.
I come with peace;—I shed
Sleep through thy wood-walks, o'er the honey-bee,
The lark's triumphant voice, the fawn's young glee,
The hyacinth's meek head.
On my own heart I lay
The weary babe; and sealing with a breath
Its eyes of love, send fairy dreams, beneath
The shadowing lids to play.
I come with mightier things!
Who calls me silent? I have many tones—
The dark skies thrill with low, mysterious moans,
Borne on my sweeping wings.
I waft them not alone
From the deep organ of the forest shades,
Or buried streams unheard amidst their glades,
Till the bright day is done;
But in the human breast
A thousand still small voices I awake,
Strong, in their sweetness, from the soul to shake
The mantle of its rest.
I bring them from the past:
From true hearts broken, gentle spirits torn,
From crush'd affections, which, though long o'er-borne,
Make their tones heard at last.
I bring them from the tomb:
O'er the sad couch of late repentant love
They pass—though low as murmurs of a dove—
Like trumpets through the gloom.
I come with all my train:
Who calls me lonely?—Hosts around me tread,
The intensely bright, the beautiful,—the dead,—
Phantoms of heart and brain!
Looks from departed eyes—
These are my lightnings!—fill'd with anguish vain,
Or tenderness too piercing to sustain,
They smite with agonies.
I, that with soft control,
Shut the dim violet, hush the woodland song,
I am the avenging one! the arm'd—the strong,
The searcher of the soul!
I, that shower dewy light
Through slumbering leaves, bring storms!—the tempest-birth
Of memory, thought, remorse:—Be holy, earth!
I am the solemn night!∗
Originally published in the Winter's Wreath for 1880.
Where of ye, O tempests! is the goal?
Are ye like those that shake the human breast?
Or do ye find at length, like eagles, some high nest?
MIDNIGHT, and silence deep!
—The air is fill'd with sleep,
With the stream's whisper, and the citron's breath;
Pietro Mulier, called Il Tempesta, from his surprising pictures of storms. "His compositions," says Lanzi, "inspire a real horror, presenting to our eyes death-devoted ships overtaken by tempests and darkness; fired by lightning; now rising on the mountain-wave, and again submerged in the abyss of ocean." During an imprisonment of five years in Genoa, the pictures which he painted in his dungeon were marked by additional power and gloom.—See Lanzi's History of Painting, translated by Roscoe.
The fix'd and solemn stars
Gleam through my dungeon bars—
Wake, rushing winds! this breezeless calm is death!
Ye watch-fires of the skies!
The stillness of your eyes
Looks too intensely through my troubled soul:
I feel this weight of rest
An earth-load on my breast—
Wake, rushing winds, awake! and, dark clouds, roll!
I am your own, your child,
O ye, the fierce and wild
And kingly tempests I—will ye not arise?
Hear the bold spirit's voice,
That knows not to rejoice
But in the peal of your strong harmonies.
By sounding ocean-waves,
And dim Calabrian caves,
And flashing torrents, I have been your mate;
Your lightnings were as rods,
That smote the deep abodes
Of thought and vision—and the stream gush'd free;
Come, that my soul again
May swell to burst its chain—
Bring me the music of the sweeping sea!
Within me dwells a flame,
An eagle caged and tame,
Till call'd forth by the harping of the blast:
Then is its triumph's hour,
It springs to sudden power,
As mounts the billow o'er the quivering mast.
Then, then, the canvass o'er,
With hurried hand I pour
The lava-waves and gusts of my own soul!
Wake, rise! the reed may bend,
The shivering leaf descend,
The forest branch give way before your might;
But I, your strong compeer,
Call, summon, wait you here,—
Answer, my spirit!—answer, storm and night!
"AY, Warrior, arm! and wear thy plume
On a proud and fearless brow!
I am the lord of the lonely tomb,
And a mightier one than thou!
"Bid thy soul's love farewell, young chief,
Bid her a long farewell!
Like the morning's dew shall pass that grief—
Thou comest with me to dwell!
"Thy bark may rush through the foaming deep,
Thy steed o'er the breezy hill;
But they bear thee on to a place of sleep,
Narrow, and cold, and chill!"
"Was the voice I heard, thy voice, oh Death?
And is thy day so near?
Then on the field shall my life's last breath
Mingle with victory's cheer!
"Banners shall float, with the trumpet's note,
Above me as I die!
And the palm-tree wave o'er my noble grave,
Under the Syrian sky.
"High hearts shall burn in the royal hall,
When the minstrel names that spot;
And the eyes I love shall weep my fall,—
Death, Death! I fear thee not!"
"Warrior! thou bearest a haughty heart;
But I can bend its pride!
How shouldst thou know that thy soul will part
In the hour of victory's tide?
"It may be far from thy steel-clad bands,
That I shall make thee mine;
It may be lone on the desert sands,
Where men for fountains pine!
"It may deep amidst heavy chains,
In some strong Paynim hold;—
I have slow dull steps and lingering pains,
Wherewith to tame the bold!"
"Death, Death! I go to a doom unblest,
If this indeed must be;
But the cross is bound upon my breast,
And I may not shrink for thee!
"Sound, clarion, sound!—for my vows are given
To the cause of the holy shrine;
I bow my soul to the will of Heaven,
O Death!—and not to thine!"
TWO solemn Voices, in a funeral strain,
Met as rich sunbeams and dark bursts of rain
Meet in the sky:
"Thou art gone hence!" one sang; "Our light is flown,
Our beautiful, that seem'd too much our own,
Ever to die!
"Thou art gone hence!—our joyous hills among
Never again to pour thy soul in song,
When spring-flowers rise!
"Thou art gone home, gone home!" then, high and clear,
Warbled that other Voice: "Thou hast no tear
Again to shed.
Never to fold the robe o'er secret pain,
Never, weigh'd down by Memory's clouds, again
To bow thy head.
"Thou art gone home! oh! early crown'd and blest!
Where could the love of that deep heart find rest
With aught below?
Thou must have seen rich dream by dream decay,
All the bright rose-leaves drop from life away—
Thrice blest to go!"
Yet sigh'd again that breeze-like Voice of grief—
"Thou art gone hence! alas! that aught so brief,
So loved should be!
Thou tak'st our summer hence!—the flower, the tone,
The music of our being, all in one,
Depart with thee!
"Fair form, young spirit, morning vision fled!
Canst thou be of the dead, the awful dead?
The dark unknown?
Yet! to the dwelling where no footsteps fall,
Never again to light up hearth or hall,
Thy smile is gone!"
"Home, home!" once more th' exulting Voice arose:
"Thou art gone home! from that divine repose
Never to roam!
Never to say farewell, to weep in vain,
To read of change, in eyes beloved, again—
Thou art gone home!
"By the bright waters now thy lot is cast,—
Joy for thee, happy friend! thy bark hath past
The rough sea's foam!
Now the long yearnings of thy soul are still'd,—
Home! home!—thy peace is won, thy heart is fill'd.
—Thou art gone home!"
A glittering ship that hath the plain
Of ocean for her own domain.
GO, in thy glory, o'er the ancient sea,
Take with thee gentle winds thy sails to swell;
Sunshine and joy upon thy streamers be,—
Fare thee well, bark! farewell!
Proudly the flashing billow thou hast cleft,
The breeze yet follows thee with cheer and song;
Who now of storms hath dream or memory left?
And yet the deep is strong!
But go thou triumphing, while still the smiles
Of summer tremble on the water's breast!
Thou shalt be greeted by a thousand isles,
In lone, wild beauty drest.
To thee a welcome, breathing o'er the tide,
The genii groves of Araby shall pour;
Waves that enfold the pearl shall bathe thy side,
On the old Indian shore.
Oft shall the shadow of the palm-tree lie
O'er glassy bays wherein thy sails are furl'd,
And its leaves whisper, as the wind sweeps by,
Tales of the elder world.
Oft shall the burning stars of Southern skies,
On the mid-ocean see thee chain'd in sleep,
A lonely home for human thoughts and ties,
Between the heavens and deep.
Blue seas that roll on gorgeous coasts renown'd,
By night shall sparkle where thy prow makes way;
Strange creatures of the abyss that none may sound,
In thy broad wake shall play.
From hills unknown, in mingled joy and fear,
Free dusky tribes shall pour, thy flag to mark;—
Blessings go with thee on thy lone career!
Hail, and farewell, thou bark!
A long farewell!—Thou wilt not bring us back,
All whom thou bearest far from home and hearth;
Many are thine, whose steps no more shall track
Their own sweet native earth!
Some wilt thou leave beneath the plantain's shade,
Where through the foliage Indian suns look bright;
Some, in the snows of wintry regions laid,
By the cold northern light.
And some, far down below the sounding wave,—
Still shall they lie though tempests o'er them sweep;
Never may flower be strewn above their grave,
Never may sister weep!
And thou—the billow's queen—even thy proud form
On our glad sight no more perchance may swell;
Yet God alike is in the calm and storm—
Fare thee well, bark! farewell!
WHISPER, thou Tree, thou lonely Tree,
One, where a thousand stood!
Well might proud tales be told by thee,
Last of the solemn wood!
Dwells there no voice amidst thy boughs,
With leaves yet darkly green?
Stillness is round, and noontide glows—
Tell us what thou hast seen.
"I have seen the forest shadows lie
Where men now reap the corn;
I have seen the kingly chase rush by,
Through the deep glades at morn.
"With the glance of many a gallant spear,
And the wave of many a plume,
And the bounding of a hundred deer,
It hath lit the woodland's gloom.
"I have seen the knight and his train ride past,
With his banner borne on high;
O'er all my leaves there was brightness cast
From his gleaming panoply.
"The Pilgrim at my feet hath laid
His palm branch 'midst the flowers,
And told his beads, and meekly pray'd,
Kneeling, at vesper-hours.
"And the merry-men of wild and glen,
In the green array they wore
Have feasted here with the red wine's cheer,
And the hunter's song of yore.
"And the minstrel, resting in my shade,
Hath made the forest ring
With the lordly tales of the high Crusade,
Once loved by chief and king.
"But now the noble forms are gone,
That walk'd the earth of old;
The soft wind hath a mournful tone,
The sunny light looks cold.
"There is no glory left us now,
Like the glory with the dead:—
I would that where they slumber low
My latest leaves were shed!"
Oh! thou dark Tree, thou lonely Tree,
That mournest for the past!
A peasant's home in thy shades I see,
Embower'd from every blast.
A lovely and a mirthful sound
Of laughter meets mine ear;
For the poor man's children sport around
On the turf, with nought to fear.
And roses lend that cabin's wall
A happy summer-glow;
And the open door stands free to all,
For it recks not of a foe.
And the village bells are on the breeze,
That stirs thy leaf, dark Tree!
How can I mourn, 'midst things like these,
For the stormy past, with thee?
The power, the beauty, and the majesty,
That had their haunts in dale or piny mountain,
Or forest by slow stream, or pebbly spring,
Or chasms and watery depths; all those have vanish'd!
They live no longer in the faith of heaven,
But still the heart doth need a language!
YE have been holy, O founts and floods!
Ye of the ancient and solemn woods,
Ye that are born of the valleys deep,
With the water-flowers on your breast asleep,
And ye that gush from the sounding caves—
Hallow'd have been your waves.
Hallow'd by man, in his dreams of old,
Unto beings not of this mortal mould
Viewless, and deathless, and wondrous powers,
Whose voice he heard in his lonely hours,
And sought with its fancied sound to still
The heart earth could not fill.
Therefore the flowers of bright summers gone
O'er your sweet waters, ye streams! were thrown
Thousand of gifts, to the sunny sea
Have ye swept along in your wanderings free,
And thrill'd to the murmur of many a vow—
Where all is silent now!
Nor seems it strange that the heart hath been
So link'd in love to your margins green;
That still, though ruin'd, your early shrines
In beauty gleam through the southern vines,
And the ivyed chapels of colder skies,
On your wild banks arise.
For the loveliest scenes of the glowing earth,
Are those, bright streams! where your springs have birth;
Whether their cavern'd murmur fills,
With a tone of plaint, the hollow hills,
Or the glad sweet laugh of their healthful flow
Is heard 'midst the hamlets low.
Or whether ye gladden the desert-sands,
With a joyous music to Pilgrim bands,
And a flash from under some ancient rock,
Where a shepherd-king might have watch'd his flock,
Where a few lone palm-trees lift their heads,
And a green Acacia spreads.
Or whether, in bright old lands renown'd,
The laurels thrill to your first-born sound,
And the shadow, flung from the Grecian pine,
Sweeps with the breeze o'er your gleaming line,
And the tall reeds whisper to your waves,
Beside heroic graves.
There sucks the bee, for the richest flowers
Are all your own through the summer-hours;
There the proud stag his fair image knows,
Traced on your glass beneath alder-boughs,
And the Halcyon's breast, like the skies array'd,
Gleams through the willow-shade.
But the wild sweet tales, that with elves and fays
Peopled your banks in the olden days,
And the memory left by departed love,
To your antique founts in glen and grove,
And the glory born of the poet's dreams—
These are your charms, bright streams!
Now is the time of your flowery rites,
Gone by with its dances and young delights:
From your marble urns ye have burst away,
From your chapel-cells to the laughing day;
Low lie your altars with moss o'ergrown,
—And the woods again are lone.
Yet holy still be your living springs,
Haunts of all gentle and gladsome things!
Holy, to converse with nature's lore,
That gives the worn spirit its youth once more,
And to silent thoughts of the love divine,
Making the heart a shrine!
OH! many a voice is thine, thou Wind! full many a voice is thine,
From every scene thy wing o'ersweeps thou bear'st a sound and sign;
A minstrel wild and strong thou art, with a mastery all thine own,
And the spirit is thy harp, O Wind! that gives the answering tone.
Thou hast been across red fields of war, where shiver'd helmets lie,
And thou bringest thence the thrilling note of a clarion in the sky;
A rustling of proud banner-folds, a peal of stormy drums,—
All these are in thy music met, as when a leader comes.
Thou hast been o'er solitary seas, and from their wastes brought back
Each noise of waters that awoke in the mystery of thy track;
The chime of low soft southern waves on some green palmy shore,
The hollow roll of distant surge, the gather'd billows roar.
Thou art come from forests dark and deep, thou mighty rushing Wind!
And thou bearest all their unisons in one full swell combined;
The restless pines, the moaning streams, all hidden things and free,
Of the dim old sounding wilderness, have lent their soul to thee.
Thou art come from cities lighted up for the conqueror passing by,
Thou art wafting from their streets a sound of haughty revelry;
The rolling of triumphant wheels, the harpings in the hall,
The far-off shout of multitudes, are in thy rise and fall.
Thou art come from kingly tombs and shrines, from ancient minsters vast,
Through the dark aisles of a thousand years thy lonely wing hath pass'd;
Thou hast caught the anthem's billowy swell, the stately dirge's tone,
For a chief, with sword, and shield, and helm, to his place of slumber gone.
Thou art come from long-forsaken homes, wherein our young days flew,
Thou hast found sweet voices lingering there, the loved, the kind, the true;
Thou callest back those melodies, though now all changed and fled,—
Be still, be still, and haunt us not with music from the dead!
Are all these notes in thee, wild Wind? these many notes in thee?
Far in our own unfathom'd souls their fount must surely be;
Yes! buried, but unsleeping, there Thought watches, Memory lies,
From whose deep urn the tones are pour'd through all Earth's harmonies.
A SOUNDING step was heard by night
In a church where the mighty slept,
As a mail-clad youth, till morning's light,
Midst the tombs his vigil kept.
He walk'd in dreams of power and fame,
He lifted a proud, bright eye,
For the hours were few that withheld his name
From the roll of chivalry.
Down the moon-lit aisles he paced alone,
With a free and stately tread;
The candidate for knighthood was under the necessity of keeping watch, the night before his inauguration, in a church, and completely armed. This was called "the Vigil of Arms."
And the floor gave back a muffled tone
From the couches of the dead:
The silent many that round him lay,
The crown'd and helm'd that were,
The haughty chiefs of the war-array—
Each in his sepulchre!
But no dim warning of time or fate
That youth's flush'd hopes could chill,
He moved through the trophies of buried state
With each proud pulse throbbing still.
He heard, as the wind through the chancel sung,
A swell of the trumpet's breath;
He look'd to the banners on high that hung,
And not to the dust beneath.
And a royal masque of splendour seem'd
Before him to unfold;
Through the solemn arches on it stream'd,
With many a gleam of gold:
But there the still and shadowy might
Of the monumental stone,
And the holy sleep of the soft lamp's light,
That over its quiet shone,
And the image of that sire, who died
In his noonday of renown—
These had a power unto which the pride
Of fiery life bow'd down.
And a spirit from his early years
Came back o'er his thoughts to move,
Till his eye was fill'd with memory's tears,
And his heart with childhood's love!
And he look'd, with a change in his softening glance,
To the armour o'er the grave,—
And the sword of many a field was there,
With its cross for the hour of need,
When the knight's bold war-cry hath sunk in prayer
And the spear is a broken reed!
—Hush! did a breeze through the armour sigh?
Did the folds of the banners shake?
Not so!—from the tomb's dark mystery
There seem'd a voice to break!
He had heard that voice bid clarions blow,
He had caught its last blessing's breath,—
'Twas the same—but its awful sweetness now
Had an under tone of death!
And it said,—"The sword hath conquer'd kings,
And the spear through realms hath pass'd;
But the cross, alone, of all these things,
Might aid me at the last."
HEART! that didst press forward still,∗
Where the trumpets note ran shrill,
Where the knightly swords were crossing,
And the plumes like sea-foam tossing,
Leader of the charging spear,
Fiery heart!—and liest thou here?
May this narrow spot inurn
Aught that so could beat and burn?
"Now pass thou forward, as thou were wont, and Douglas will follow thee or die!" With these words Douglas threw from him the heart of Bruce, into mid-battle against the Moors of Spain.
Heart! that lovedst the clarion's blast,
Silent is thy place at last;
Silent,—save when early bird
Sings where once the mass was heard;
Silent—save when breeze's moan
Comes through flowers or fretted stone;
And the wild-rose waves around thee,
And the long dark grass hath bound thee,—
—Sleep'st thou, as the swain might sleep,
In his nameless valley deep?
No! brave heart!—though cold and lone,
Kingly power is yet thine own!
Feel I not thy spirit brood
O'er the whispering solitude?
Lo! at one high thought of thee,
Fast they rise, the bold, the free,
Sweeping past thy lowly bed,
With a mute, yet stately tread.
Is the noble Douglas nigh,
Arm'd to follow thee, or die?
Now, true heart, as thou wert wont,
Pass thou to the peril's front!
Where the banner-spear is gleaming,
And the battle's red wine streaming,
Till the Paynim quail before thee,
Till the cross wave proudly o'er thee;—
—Dreams! the falling of a leaf
Wins me from their splendours brief;
Dreams, yet bright ones! scorn them not,
Thou that seek'st the holy spot;
Nor, amidst its lone domain,
Call the faith in relics vain!
The beautiful is vanish'd, and returns not.
A YOUTH rode forth from his childhood's home,
Through the crowded paths of the world to roam,
And the green leaves whisper'd, as he pass'd,
"Wherefore, thou dreamer, away so fast?
"Knew'st thou with what thou are parting here,
Long wouldst thou linger in doubt and fear;
Thy heart's light laughter, thy sunny hours,
Thou hast left in our shades with the spring's wild flowers.
"Under the arch by our mingling made,
Thou and thy brother have gaily play'd;
Ye may meet again where ye roved of yore,
But as ye have met there—oh! never more!"
On rode the youth—and the boughs among,
Thus the free birds o'er his pathway sung:
"Wherefore so fast unto life away?
Thou art leaving for ever thy joy in our lay!
"Thou mayst come to the summer woods again,
And thy heart have no echo to greet their strain;
Afar from the foliage its love will dwell—
A change must pass o'er thee—farewell, farewell!"
On rode the youth:—and the founts and streams
Thus mingled a voice with his joyous dreams:
—"We have been thy playmates through many a day,
Wherefore thus leave us!—oh! yet delay!
"Listen but once to the sound of our mirth!
For thee 'tis a melody passing from earth.
Never again wilt thou find in its flow,
The peace it could once on thy heart bestow.
"Thou wilt visit the scenes of thy childhood's glee,
With the breath of the world on thy spirit free;
Passion and sorrow its depth will have stirr'd,
And the singing of waters be vainly heard.
"Thou wilt bear in our gladsome laugh no part—
What should it do for a burning heart?
Thou wilt bring to the banks of our freshest rill,
Thirst which no fountain on earth may still.
"Farewell!—when thou comest again to thine own,
Thou wilt miss from our music its loveliest tone;
Mournfully true is the tale we tell—
Yet on, fiery dreamer! farewell, farewell!"
And a something of gloom on his spirit weigh'd,
As he caught the last sounds of his native shade;
But he knew not, till many a bright spell broke,
How deep were the oracles Nature spoke!
The beings of the mind are not of clay;
Essentially immortal, they create
And multiply in us a brighter ray,
And more beloved existence; that which Fate
Prohibits to dull life, in this our state
Of mortal bondage.
COME to me with your triumphs and your woes,
Ye forms, to life by glorious poets brought!
I sit alone with flowers, and vernal boughs,
In the deep shadow of a voiceless thought;
'Midst the glad music of the spring alone,
And sorrowful for visions that are gone!
Come to me! make your thrilling whispers heard,
Ye, by those masters of the soul endow'd
With life, and love, and many a burning word,
That bursts from grief, like lightning from a cloud,
And smites the heart, till all its chords reply,
As leaves make answer when the wind sweeps by.
Come to me I visit my dim haunt!—the sound
Of hidden springs is in the grass beneath;
The stock-dove's note above; and all around,
The poesy that with the violet's breath
Floats through the air, in rich and sudden streams,
Mingling, like music, with the soups deep dreams.
Friends, friends!—for such to my lone heart ye are—
Unchanging ones! from whose immortal eyes
The glory melts not as a waning star,
And the sweet kindness never, never dies;
Imogen! fair Fidele! meekly blending
In patient grief, "a smiling with a sigh;"∗
And thou, Cordelia! faithful daughter, tending
That sire, an outcast to the bitter sky;
Thou of the soft low voice!—thou art not gone!
Still breathes for me its faint and flute-like tone.
And come to me!—sing me thy willow-strain,
Sweet Desdemona! with the sad surprise
In thy beseeching glance, where still, though vain,
Undimm'd, unquenchable affection lies;
Come, bowing thy young head to wrong and scorn,
As a frail hyacinth, by showers o'erborne.
Nobly he yokes
A smiling with a sigh.
And thou, too, fair Ophelia! flowers are here,
That well might win thy footstep to the spot—
Pale cowslips, meet for maiden's early bier,
And pansies for sad thoughts,∗ —but needed not!
Come with thy wreaths, and all the love and light
In that wild eye still tremulously bright.
And Juliet, vision of the south! enshrining
All gifts that unto its rich heaven belong;
The glow, the sweetness, in its rose combining,
The soul its nightingales pour forth in song!
Thou, making death deep joy!—but couldst thou die?
No!—thy young love hath immortality!
From earth's bright faces fades the light of morn,
From earth's glad voices drops the joyous tone;
Here's pansies for you—that's for thoughts.Hamlet.
But ye, the children of the soul, were born
Deathless, and for undying love alone;
And, oh! ye beautiful! 'tis well, how well,
In the soul's world, with you, where change is not, to dwell!
A DEEP-TONED Lyre hung murmuring
To the wild wind of the sea:
"O melancholy wind," it sigh'd,
"What would thy breath with me?
"Thou canst not wake the spirit
That in me slumbering lies,
Thou strikest not forth th' electric fire
Of buried melodies,
"Wind of the dark sea-waters!
Thou dost but sweep my strings
Into wild gusts of mournfulness,
With the rushing of thy wings.
"But the spell—the gift—the lightning—
Within my frame conceal'd,
Must I moulder on the rock away,
With their triumphs unreveal'd?
"I have power, high power, for freedom
To wake the burning soul!
I have sounds that through the ancient hills
Like a torrent's voice might roll.
"I have pealing notes of victory
That might welcome kings from war;
I have rich deep tones to send the wail
For a hero's death afar.
"I have chords to lift the pæan
From the temple to the sky,
Full as the forest-unisons
When sweeping winds are high.
"And Love—for Love's lone sorrow
I have accents that might swell
Through the summer air with the rose's breath,
Or the violet's faint farewell:
Sighs in each note enshrined—
But who shall call that sweetness forth?
Thou canst not, ocean-wind!
"I pass without my glory,
Forgotten I decay—
Where is the touch to give me life?
—Wild fitful wind, away!"
So sigh'd the broken music
That in gladness had no part—
How like art thou, neglected Lyre,
To many a human heart!
A crown of victory! a triumphal song!
Oh! call some friend, upon whose pitying heart
The weary one may calmly sink to rest:
Let some kind voice, beside his lowly couch,
Pour the last prayer for mortal agony!
A TRUMPET'S note is in the sky, in the glorious Roman sky,
Whose dome hath rung, so many an age, to the voice of victory;
There is crowding to the capitol, the imperial streets along,
For again a conqueror must be crown'd,—a kingly child of song:
Tasso died at Rome on the day before that appointed for his Coronation in the Capitol.
Yet his chariot lingers,
Yet around his home
Broods a shadow silently,
'Midst the joy of Rome.
A thousand thousand laurel boughs are waving wide and far,
To shed out their triumphal gleams around his rolling car;
A thousand haunts of olden gods have given their wealth of flowers,
To scatter o'er his path of fame bright hues in gem-like showers.
Peace! within his chamber
Low the mighty lies;
With a cloud of dreams on his noble brow,
And a wandering in his eyes.
Sing, sing for him, the lord of song, for him, whose rushing strain
In mastery o'er the spirit sweeps, like a strong wind o'er the main!
Whose voice lives deep in burning hearts, for ever there to dwell,
As full-toned oracles are shrined in a temple's holiest cell.
Yes! for him, the victor,
Sing,—but low, sing low!
A soft sad miserere chant
For a soul about to go!
The sun, the sun of Italy is pouring o'er his way,
Where the old three hundred triumphs moved, a flood of golden day;
Streaming through every haughty arch of the Cæsars' past renown—
Bring forth, in that exulting light, the conqueror for his crown!
Shut the proud bright sunshine
From the fading sight!
There needs no ray by the bed of death,
Save the holy taper's light.
The wreath is twined,—the way is strewn—the lordly train are met—
The streets are hung with coronals—why stays the minstrel yet?
Shout! as an army shouts in joy around a royal chief—
Bring forth the bard of chivalry, the bard of love and grief!
Silence! forth we bring him,
In his last array;
From love and grief the freed, the flown—
Way for the bier—make way!
"I HEAR thee speak of the better land,
Thou callest its children a happy band;
Mother! oh where is that radiant shore?
Shall we not seek it, and weep no more?
Is it where the flower of the orange blows,
And the fire-flies glance through the myrtle boughs?"
—"Not there, not there, my child!"
"Is it where the feathery palm-trees rise,
And the date grows ripe under sunny skies?
Or 'midst the green islands of glittering- seas.
Where fragrant forests perfume the breeze,
And strange, bright birds, on their starry wings,
Bear the rich hues of all glorious things?"
—"Not there, not there, my child!"
"Is it far away, in some region old,
Where the rivers wander o'er sands of gold?—
Where the burning rays of the ruby shine,
And the diamond lights up the secret mine,
And the pearl gleams forth from the coral strand?—
Is it there, sweet mother, that better land?"
—"Not there, not there, my child!
"Eye hath not seen it, my gentle boy!
Ear hath not heard its deep songs of joy;
Dreams cannot picture a world so fair—
Sorrow and death may not enter there;
Time doth not breathe on its fadeless bloom,
For beyond the clouds, and beyond the tomb,
—It is there, it is there, my child!"
EAGLE! this is not thy sphere!
Warrior bird! what seek'st thou here?
Wherefore by the fountain's brink
Doth thy royal pinion sink?
Wherefore on the violet's bed
Lay'st thou thus thy drooping head?
Thou, that hold'st the blast in scorn,
Thou, that wear'st the wings of morn!
Eagle! wilt thou not arise?
Look upon thine own bright skies!
Lift thy glance! the fiery sun
There his pride of place hath won!
Eagle, Eagle! thou hast bow'd
From thine empire o'er the cloud!
Thou, that hadst ethereal birth,
Thou hast stoop'd too near the earth,
And the hunter's shaft hath found thee,
And the toils of death have bound thee!
—Wherefore didst thou leave thy place,
Creature of a kingly race?
Wert thou weary of thy throne?
Was thy sky's dominion lone?
Chill and lone it well might be,
Yet that mighty wing was free!
Nay, these wild fits of uncurbed laughter
Athwart the gloomy tenor of your mind,
As it has lower'd of late, so keenly cast,
Unsuited seem, and strange.
Oh! nothing strange!
Didst thou ne'er see the swallow's veering breast,
Winging the air beneath some murky cloud,
In the sunn'd glimpses of a troubled day,
Shiver in silvery brightness?
Or boatman's oar, as vivid lightning flash
In the faint gleam, that like a spirit's path,
Tracks the still waters of some sullen lake?
O, gentle friend!
Chide not her mirth, who yesterday was sad,
And may be so to-morrow!
YE met at the stately feasts of old,
Where the bright wine foam'd over sculptured gold,
Sadness and Mirth!—ye were mingled there
With the sound of the lyre in the scented air;
For there hung o'er those banquets of yore a gloom,
A thought and a shadow of the tomb;
It gave to the flute-notes an under-tone,
To the rose a colouring not its own,
To the breath of the myrtle a mournful power—
Sadness and Mirth! ye had each your dower!
Ye met when the triumph swept proudly by,
With the Roman eagles through the sky!
I know that ev'n then, in his hour of pride,
The soul of the mighty within him died;
That a void in his bosom lay darkly still,
Which the music of victory might never fill!
Thou wert there, oh! Mirth! swelling on the shout,
Till the temples, like echo-caves, rang out;
Thine were the garlands, the songs, the wine,
All the rich voices in air were thine,
Ye meet at the bridal with flower and tear;
Strangely and wildly ye meet by the bier!
As the gleam from a sea-bird's white wing shed,
Crosses the storm in its path of dread;
As a dirge meets the breeze of a summer sky—
Sadness and Mirth! so ye come and fly!
Ye meet in the poet's haunted breast,
Darkness and rainbow, alike its guest!
When the breath of the violet is out in spring,
When the woods with the wakening of music ring,
O'er his dreamy spirit your currents pass,
Like shadow and sunlight o'er mountain grass.
When will your parting be, Sadness and Mirth?
Bright stream and dark one!—oh! never on earth;
Never while triumphs and tombs are so near,
While Death and Love walk the same dim sphere,
But there smiles a land, oh! ye troubled pair!
Where ye have no part in the summer air.
Far from the breathings of changeful skies,
Over the seas and the graves it lies;
Where the day of the lightning and cloud is done,
And joy reigns alone, as the lonely sun!
Willst du nach den Nachtigallen fragen,
Die mit seelenvollen melodie
Dich entzückten in des Lenzes Tagen?
—Nur so lang sie liebten, waren sie.
MOURNFULLY, sing mournfully,
And die away, my heart!
The rose, the glorious rose is gone,
And I, too, will depart.
The skies have lost their splendour,
The waters changed their tone,
And wherefore, in the faded world,
Should music linger on?
Where is the golden sunshine,
And where the flower-cup's glow?
And where the joy of the dancing leaves,
And the fountain's laughing flow?
A voice, in every whisper
Of the wave, the bough, the air,
Comes asking for the beautiful,
And moaning, "Where, oh! where?"
Tell of the brightness parted,
Thou bee, thou lamb at play!
Thou lark, in thy victorious mirth!
—Are ye, too, pass'd away?
Mournfully, sing mournfully!
The royal rose is gone.
Melt from the woods, my spirit, melt
In one deep farewell tone!
Not so!—swell forth triumphantly,
The full, rich, fervent strain!
Hence with young love and life I go,
In the summer's joyous train.
With sunshine, with sweet odour,
With every precious thing,
Upon the last warm southern breeze
My soul its flight shall wing.
Alone I shall not linger,
When the days of hope are past,
To watch the fall of leaf by leaf,
To wait the rushing blast.
Sing to the woods, I go
For me, perchance, in other lands,
The glorious rose may blow.
The sky's transparent azure,
And the greensward's violet breath,
And the dance of light leaves in the wind,
May there know nought of death.
No more, no more sing mournfully!
Swell high, then break, my heart
With love, the spirit of the woods,
With summer I depart!
They learn in suffering what they teach in song.
THOU hast been where the rocks of coral grow,
Thou hast fought with eddying waves;—
Thy cheek is pale, and thy heart beats low,
Thou searcher of ocean's caves!
Thou hast look'd on the gleaming wealth of old,
And wrecks where the brave have striven;
The deep is a strong and a fearful hold,
But thou its bar hast riven!
A wild and weary life is thine;
A wasting task and lone,
Though treasure-grots for thee may shine,
To all besides unknown!
A weary life! but a swift decay
Soon, soon shall set thee free;
Thou'rt passing fast from thy toils away,
Thou wrestler with the sea!
In thy dim eye, on thy hollow cheek,
Well are the death-signs read—
Go! for the pearl in its cavern seek,
Ere hope and power be fled!
And bright in beauty's coronal
That glistening gem shall be;
A star to all in the festive hall—
But who will think on thee?
None!—as it gleams from the queen-like head,
Not one 'midst throngs will say,
"A life hath been like a rain-drop shed,
For that pale quivering ray."
Woe for the wealth thus dearly bought!
—And are not those like thee,
Who win for earth the gems of thought?
O wrestler with the sea!
Down to the gulfs of the soul they go,
Where the passion-fountains burn,
Gathering the jewels far below
From many a buried urn:
Wringing from lava-veins the fire,
That o'er bright words is pour'd;
Learning deep sounds, to make the lyre
A spirit in each chord.
But, oh! the price of bitter tears,
Paid for the lonely power
That throws at last, o'er desert years,
A darkly-glorious dower!
Like flower-seeds, by the wild wind spread,
So radiant thoughts are strew'd;
—The soul whence those high gifts are shed,
May faint in solitude!
And who will think, when the strain is sung,
Till a thousand hearts are stirr'd,
What life-drops, from the minstrel wrung,
Have gush'd with every word?
None, none!—his treasures live like thine,
He strives and dies like thee;
—Thou, that hast been to the pearl's dark shrine,
O wrestler with the sea!
NO tears for thee!—though light be from us gone
With thy soul's radiance, bright, yet restless one!
No tears for thee!
They that have loved an exile, must not mourn
To see him parting for his native bourne
O'er the dark sea.
All the high music of thy spirit here,
Breathed but the language of another sphere,
And strange, though sweet, as 'midst our weeping skies
Some half-remember'd strain of paradise
Might sadly sound.
Hast thou been answer'd? thou, that from the night
And from the voices of the tempest's might,
And from the past,
Wert seeking still some oracle's reply,
To pour the secrets of man's destiny
Forth on the blast!
Hast thou been answer'd?—thou, that through the gloom,
And shadow, and stern silence of the tomb,
A cry didst send,
So passionate and deep? to pierce, to move,
To win back token of unburied love
From buried friend!
And hast thou found where living waters burst?
Thou, that didst pine amidst us, in the thirst
Of fever dreams!
Are the true fountains thine for evermore?
Oh! lured so long by shining mists, that wore
The light of streams!
Speak! is it well with thee?—We call, us thou
With thy lit eye, deep voice, and kindled brow,
Wert wont to call
On the departed! Art thou blest and free?
—Alas! the lips earth covers, even to thee,
Were silent all!
Yet shall our hope rise fann'd by quenchless faith,
As a flame, foster'd by some warm wind's breath,
In light upsprings:
Freed soul of song! yes, thou hast found the sought;
Borne to thy home of beauty and of thought,
On morning's wings.
And we will dream it is thy joy we hear,
When life's young music, ringing far and clear,
O'erflows the sky:
—No tears for thee! the lingering gloom is ours—
Thou art for converse with all glorious powers,
Never to die!
Tacete, tacete, O suoni trionfanti!
Risvegliate in vano 'l cor che non può liberarsi.
WHEREFORE and whither bear'st thou up my spirit,
On eagle wings, through every plume that thrill?
It hath no crown of victory to inherit—
Be still, triumphant harmony! be still!
Thine are no sounds for earth, thus proudly swelling
Into rich floods of joy:—it is but pain
To mount so high, yet find on high no dwelling,
To sink so fast, so heavily again!
No sounds for earth?—Yes, to young chieftain dying
On his own battle-field, at set of sun,
With his freed country's banner o'er him flying,
Well mightst thou speak of fame's high guerdon won.
No sounds for earth?—Yes, for the martyr leading
Unto victorious death serenely on,
For patriot by his rescued altars bleeding,
Thou hast a voice in each majestic tone.
But speak not thus to one whose heart is beating
Against life's narrow bound, in conflict vain!
For power, for joy, high hope, and rapturous greeting,
Thou wak'st lone thirst—be hush'd, exulting strain!
Be hush'd, or breathe of grief!—of exile yearnings
Under the willows of the stranger-shore;
Breathe of deep love—a lonely vigil keeping
Through the night-hours, o'er wasted wealth to pine;
Rich thoughts and sad, like faded rose-leaves heaping,
In the shut heart, at once a tomb and shrine.
Or pass as if thy spirit-notes came sighing
From worlds beneath some blue Elysian sky;
Breathe of repose, the pure, the bright, th' undying—
Of joy no more—bewildering harmony!
Ne'er err'd the prophet heart that grief inspired,
Though joy's illusions mock their votarist.
A MOURNFUL gift is mine, O friends!
A mournful gift is mine!
A murmur of the soul which blends
With the flow of song and wine.
An eye that through the triumph's hour,
Beholds the coming woe,
And dwells upon the faded flower
'Midst the rich summer's glow.
Ye smile to view fair faces bloom
Where the father's board is spread;
I see the stillness and the gloom
Of a home whence all are fled.
I see the wither'd garlands lie
Forsaken on the earth,
While the lamps yet burn, and the dancers fly
Through the ringing hall of mirth.
I see the blood-red future stain
On the warrior's gorgeous crest;
And the bier amidst the bridal train
When they come with roses drest.
I hear the still small moan of Time,
Through the ivy branches made,
Where the palace, in its glory's prime,
With the sunshine stands array'd
The thunder of the seas I hear,
The shriek along the wave,
When the bark sweeps forth, and song and cheer
Salute the parting brave.
With every breeze a spirit sends
To me some warning sign:—
A mournful gift is mine, O friends!
A mournful gift is mine!
Oh! prophet heart! thy grief, thy power,
To all deep souls belong;
The shadow in the sunny hour,
The wail in the mirthful song.
Their sight is all too sadly clear—
For them a veil is riven:
Their piercing thoughts repose not here,
Their home is but in Heaven.
Thy path is not as mine;—where thou art blest,
My spirit would but wither: mine own grief
Is in mine eyes a richer, holier thing,
Than all thy happiness.
HATH the summer's breath, on the south-wind borne,
Met the dark seas in their sweeping scorn?
Hath it lured thee, Bird! from their sounding caves,
To the river-shores, where the osier waves?
Or art thou come on the hills to dwell,
Where the sweet-voiced echoes have many a cell?
Where the moss bears print of the wild-deer's tread,
And the heath like a royal robe is spread?
Published first in the Edinburgh Literary Journal.
Thou hast done well, O thou bright sea-bird!
There is joy where the song of the lark is heard,
With the dancing of waters through copse and dell,
And the bee's low tune in the fox-glove's bell.
Thou hast done well:—Oh! the seas are lone,
And the voice they send up hath a mournful tone;
A mingling of dirges and wild farewells,
Fitfully breathed through its anthem-swells.
—The proud bird rose as the words were said—
The rush of his pinion swept o'er my head,
And the glance of his eye, in its bright disdain,
Spoke him a child of the haughty main.
He hath flown from the woods to the ocean's breast,
To his throne of pride on the billow's crest
—Oh! who shall say to a spirit free,
"There lies the pathway of bliss for thee?"
For sleep is awful.
OH! lightly, lightly tread!
A holy thing is sleep,
On the worn spirit shed,
And eyes that wake to weep.
A holy thing from Heaven,
A gracious dewy cloud,
A covering mantle given
The weary to enshroud.
Oh! lightly, lightly tread!
Revere the pale still brow,
The meekly-drooping head,
The long hair's willowy flow.
Ye know not what ye do,
That call the slumberer back,
From the world unseen by you
Unto life's dim faded track.
Her soul is far away,
In her childhood's land, perchance,
Where her young sisters play,
Where shines her mother's glance.
Some old sweet native sound
Her spirit haply weaves;
A harmony profound
Of woods with all their leaves;
A murmur of the sea,
A laughing tone of streams:—
Long may her sojourn be
In the music-land of dreams!
Each voice of love is there,
Each gleam of beauty fled,
Each ost one still more fair—
Oh! lightly, lightly tread!
O, DIM, forsaken mirror!
How many a stately throng
Hath o'er thee gleam'd, in vanish'd hours
Of the wine-cup and the song!
The song hath left no echo;
The bright wine hath been quaff'd;
And hush'd is every silvery voice
That lightly here hath laugh'd.
Oh! mirror, lonely mirror,
Thou of the silent hall!
Thou hast been flush'd with beauty's bloom—
Is this, too, vanish'd all?
It is, with the scatter'd garlands
Of triumphs long ago;
With the melodies of buried lyres;
With the faded rainbow's glow.
And for all the gorgeous pageants,
For the glance of gem and plume,
For lamp, and harp, and rosy wreath,
And vase of rich perfume.
Now, dim, forsaken mirror,
Thou givest but faintly back
The quiet stars, and the sailing moon,
On her solitary track.
And thus with man's proud spirit
Thou tellest me 'twill be,
When the forms and hues of this world fade
From his memory, as from thee;
And his heart's long-troubled waters
At last in stillness lie,
Reflecting but the images
Of the solemn world on high.