Part 4 out of 5
And oh! for ever must its efforts sleep,
May none the mystic sceptre e'er regain?
Oh, yes, 'tis his! Thy other son!
He throws thy dark-wrought tunic on,
Fuesslin waves thy wand,--again they rise,
Again thy wildering forms salute our ravish'd eyes.
Him didst thou cradle on the dizzy steep
Where round his head the vollied lightnings flung,
And the loud winds that round his pillow rung
Woo'd the stern infant to the arms of sleep.
Or on the highest top of Teneriffe
Seated the fearless boy, and bade him look
Where far below the weather-beaten skiff
On the gulf bottom of the ocean strook.
Thou mark'dst him drink with ruthless ear
The death-sob, and, disdaining rest,
Thou saw'st how danger fired his breast,
And in his young hand couch'd the visionary spear.
Then, Superstition, at thy call,
She bore the boy to Odin's Hall,
And set before his awe-struck sight
The savage feast and spectred fight;
And summoned from his mountain tomb
The ghastly warrior son of gloom,
His fabled runic rhymes to sing,
While fierce Hresvelger flapp'd his wing;
Thou show'dst the trains the shepherd sees,
Laid on the stormy Hebrides,
Which on the mists of evening gleam,
Or crowd the foaming desert stream;
Lastly her storied hand she waves,
And lays him in Florentian caves;
There milder fables, lovelier themes,
Enwrap his soul in heavenly dreams,
There pity's lute arrests his ear,
And draws the half reluctant tear;
And now at noon of night he roves
Along the embowering moonlight groves,
And as from many a cavern'd dell
The hollow wind is heard to swell,
He thinks some troubled spirit sighs,
And as upon the turf he lies,
Where sleeps the silent beam of night,
He sees below the gliding sprite,
And hears in Fancy's organs sound
AŽrial music warbling round.
Taste lastly comes and smooths the whole,
And breathes her polish o'er his soul;
Glowing with wild, yet chasten'd heat,
The wondrous work is now complete.
The Poet dreams:--The shadow flies,
And fainting fast its image dies.
But lo! the Painter's magic force
Arrests the phantom's fleeting course;
It lives--it lives--the canvas glows,
And tenfold vigour o'er it flows.
The Bard beholds the work achieved,
And as he sees the shadow rise
Sublime before his wondering eyes,
Starts at the image his own mind conceived.
TO THE EARL OF CARLISLE, K. G.
Retired, remote from human noise,
An humble Poet dwelt serene;
His lot was lowly, yet his joys
Were manifold, I ween.
He laid him by the brawling brook
At eventide to ruminate,
He watch'd the swallow skimming round,
And mused, in reverie profound,
On wayward man's unhappy state,
And ponder'd much, and paused on deeds of ancient date.
"Oh, 'twas not always thus," he cried,
"There was a time, when genius claim'd
Respect from even towering pride,
Nor hung her head ashamed:
But now to wealth alone we bow,
The titled and the rich alone
Are honour'd, while meek merit pines,
On penury's wretched couch reclines,
Unheeded in his dying moan,
As, overwhelmed with want and woe, he sinks unknown.
"Yet was the muse not always seen
In poverty's dejected mien,
Not always did repining rue,
And misery her steps pursue.
Time was, when nobles thought their titles graced
By the sweet honours of poetic bays,
When Sidney sung his melting song,
When Sheffield join'd the harmonious throng,
And Lyttelton attuned to love his lays.
Those days are gone--alas, for ever gone!
No more our nobles love to grace
Their brows with anadems, by genius won,
But arrogantly deem the muse as base;
How differently thought the sires of this degenerate race!"
Thus sang the minstrel:--still at eve
The upland's woody shades among
In broken measures did he grieve,
With solitary song.
And still his shame was aye the same,
Neglect had stung him to the core;
And he with pensive joy did love
To seek the still congenial grove,
And muse on all his sorrows o'er,
And vow that he would join the abjured world no more.
But human vows, how frail they be!
Fame brought Carlisle unto his view,
And all amazed, he thought to see
The Augustan age anew.
Fill'd with wild rapture, up he rose,
No more he ponders on the woes
Which erst he felt that forward goes,
Regrets he'd sunk in impotence,
And hails the ideal day of virtuous eminence.
Ah! silly man, yet smarting sore
With ills which in the world he bore,
Again on futile hope to rest,
An unsubstantial prop at best,
And not to know one swallow makes no summer!
Ah! soon he'll find the brilliant gleam,
Which flash'd across the hemisphere,
Illumining the darkness there,
Was but a single solitary beam,
While all around remained in custom'd night.
Still leaden ignorance reigns serene,
In the false court's delusive height,
And only one Carlisle is seen
To illume the heavy gloom with pure and steady light.
Come, pensive sage, who lovest to dwell
In some retired Lapponian cell,
Where, far from noise and riot rude,
Besides sequester'd solitude.
Come, and o'er my longing soul
Throw thy dark and russet stole,
And open to my duteous eyes
The volume of thy mysteries.
I will meet thee on the hill,
Where, with printless footsteps still,
The morning in her buskin gray
Springs upon her eastern way;
While the frolic zephyrs stir,
Playing with the gossamer,
And, on ruder pinions borne,
Shake the dewdrops from the thorn.
There, as o'er the fields we pass,
Brushing with hasty feet the grass,
We will startle from her nest
The lively lark with speckled breast,
And hear the floating clouds among
Her gale-transported matin song,
Or on the upland stile, embower'd
With fragrant hawthorn snowy flower'd,
Will sauntering sit, and listen still
To the herdsman's oaten quill,
Wafted from the plain below;
Or the heifer's frequent low;
Or the milkmaid in the grove,
Singing of one that died for love.
Or when the noontide heats oppress,
We will seek the dark recess,
Where, in the embower'd translucent stream,
The cattle shun the sultry beam,
And o'er us on the marge reclined,
The drowsy fly her horn shall wind,
While echo, from her ancient oak,
Shall answer to the woodman's stroke;
Or the little peasant's song,
Wandering lone the glens among,
His artless lip with berries dyed,
And feet through ragged shoes descried.
But oh! when evening's virgin queen
Sits on her fringed throne serene,
And mingling whispers rising near
Steal on the still reposing ear;
While distant brooks decaying round,
Augment the mix'd dissolving sound,
And the zephyr flitting by
Whispers mystic harmony,
We will seek the woody lane,
By the hamlet, on the plain,
Where the weary rustic nigh
Shall whistle his wild melody,
And the croaking wicket oft
Shall echo from the neighbouring croft;
And as we trace the green path lone,
With moss and rank weeds overgrown,
We will muse on penbive lore?
Till the full soul, brimming o'er,
Shall in our upturn'd eyes appear,
Embodied in a quivering tear.
Or else, serenely silent, sit
By the brawling rivulet,
Which on its calm unruffled breast
Rears the old mossy arch impressed,
That clasps its secret stream of glass,
Half hid in shrubs and waving grass,
The wood-nymph's lone secure retreat,
Unpress'd by fawn or sylvan's feet,
We'll watch in eve's ethereal braid
The rich vermilion slowly fade;
Or catch, faint twinkling from afar
The first glimpse of the eastern star;
Fair vesper, mildest lamp of light,
That heralds in imperial night:
Meanwhile, upon our wondering ear,
Shall rise, though low, yet sweetly clear,
The distant sounds of pastoral lute,
Invoking soft the sober suit
Of dimmest darkness--fitting well
With love, or sorrow's pensive spell,
(So erst did music's silver tone
Wake slumbering chaos on his throne).
And haply then, with sudden swell,
Shall roar the distant curfew bell,
While in the castle's mouldering tower
The hooting owl is heard to pour
Her melancholy song, and scare
Dull silence brooding in the air.
Meanwhile her dusk and slumbering car
Black-suited night drives on from far,
And Cynthia, 'merging from her rear,
Arrests the waxing darkness drear,
And summons to her silent call,
Sweeping, in their airy pall,
The unshrived ghosts, in fairy trance,
To join her moonshine morris-dance;
While around the mystic ring
The shadowy shapes elastic spring,
Then with a passing shriek they fly,
Wrapt in mists, along the sky,
And oft are by the shepherd seen
In his lone night-watch on the green.
Then, hermit, let us turn our feet
To the low abbey's still retreat,
Embower'd in the distant glen,
Far from the haunts of busy men,
Where as we sit upon the tomb,
The glowworm's light may gild the gloom,
And show to fancy's saddest eye
Where some lost hero's ashes lie.
And oh, as through the mouldering arch,
With ivy fill'd and weeping larch,
The night gale whispers sadly clear,
Speaking dear things to fancy's ear,
We'll hold communion with the shade
Of some deep wailing, ruin'd maid--
Or call the ghost of Spenser down,
To tell of woe and fortune's frown;
And bid us cast the eye of hope
Beyond this bad world's narrow scope.
Or if these joys, to us denied,
To linger by the forest's side;
Or in the meadow, or the wood,
Or by the lone, romantic flood;
Let us in the busy town,
When sleep's dull streams the people drown,
Far from drowsy pillows flee,
And turn the church's massy key;
Then, as through the painted glass
The moon's faint beams obscurely pass,
And darkly on the trophied wall
Her faint, ambiguous shadows fall,
Let us, while the faint winds wail
Through the long reluctant aisle,
As we pace with reverence meet,
Count the echoings of our feet,
While from the tombs, with confess'd breath,
Distinct responds the voice of death.
If thou, mild sage, wilt condescend
Thus on my footsteps to attend,
To thee my lonely lamp shall burn
By fallen Genius' sainted urn,
As o'er the scroll of Time I pore,
And sagely spell of ancient lore,
Till I can rightly guess of all
That Plato could to memory call,
And scan the formless views of things;
Or, with old Egypt's fetter'd kings,
Arrange the mystic trains that shine
In night's high philosophic mine;
And to thy name shall e'er belong
The honours of undying song.
TO THE GENIUS OF ROMANCE.
Oh! thou who, in my early youth,
When fancy wore the garb of truth,
Wert wont to win my infant feet
To some retired, deep fabled seat,
Where, by the brooklet's secret tide,
The midnight ghost was known to glide;
Or lay me in some lonely glade,
In native Sherwood's forest shade,
Where Robin Hood, the outlaw bold,
Was wont his sylvan courts to hold;
And there, as musing deep I lay,
Would steal my little soul away,
And all my pictures represent,
Of siege and solemn tournament;
Or bear me to the magic scene,
Where, clad in greaves and gabardine,
The warrior knight of chivalry
Made many a fierce enchanter flee;
And bore the high-born dame away,
Long held the fell magician's prey.
Or oft would tell the shuddering tale
Of murders, and of goblins pale,
Haunting the guilty baron's side
(Whose floors with secret blood were dyed),
Which o'er the vaulted corridor
On stormy nights was heard to roar,
By old domestic, waken'd wide
By the angry winds that chide:
Or else the mystic tale would tell
Of Greensleeve, or of Blue-Beard fell.
* * * * *
Season of general rest, whose solemn still
Strikes to the trembling heart a fearful chill,
But speaks to philosophic souls delight;
Thee do I hail, as at my casement high,
My candle waning melancholy by,
I sit and taste the holy calm of night.
Yon pensive orb, that through the ether sails,
And gilds the misty shadows of the vales,
Hanging in thy dull rear her vestal flame;
To her, while all around in sleep recline,
Wakeful I raise my orisons divine,
And sing the gentle honours of her name;
While Fancy lone o'er me, her votary, bends,
To lift my soul her fairy visions sends,
And pours upon my ear her thrilling song,
And Superstition's gentle terrors come,--
See, see yon dim ghost gliding through the gloom!
See round yon churchyard elm what spectres throng!
Meanwhile I tune, to some romantic lay,
My flageolet--and as I pensive play,
The sweet notes echo o'er the mountain scene:
The traveller late journeying o'er the moors,
Hears them aghast,--(while still the dull owl pours
Her hollow screams each dreary pause between).
Till in the lonely tower he spies the light,
Now faintly flashing on the glooms of night,
Where I, poor muser, my lone vigils keep,
And, 'mid the dreary solitude serene,
Cast a much-meaning glance upon the scene,
And raise my mournful eye to Heaven, and weep.
WRITTEN AT MIDNIGHT.
Hence, away, vindictive thought;
Thy pictures are of pain;
The visions through thy dark eye caught,
They with no gentle charms are fraught,
So pr'y thee back again.
I would not weep,
I wish to sleep,
Then why, thou busy foe, with me thy vigils keep?
Why dost o'er bed and couch recline?
Is this thy new delight?
Pale visitant, it is not thine
To keep thy sentry through the mine,
The dark vault of the night:
'Tis thine to die,
While o'er the eye
The dews of slumber press, and waking sorrows fly.
Go thou, and bide with him who guides
His bark through lonely seas;
And as reclining on his helm,
Sadly he marks the starry realm,
To him thou mayst bring ease:
But thou to me
So pr'ythee, pr'ythee, plume thy wings, and from my pillow flee.
And, memory, pray what art thou?
Art thou of pleasure born?
Does bliss untainted from thee flow?
The rose that gems thy pensive brow,
Is it without a thorn?
With all thy smiles,
And witching wiles,
Yet not unfrequent bitterness thy mournful sway defiles.
The drowsy night-watch has forgot
To call the solemn hour;
Lull'd by the winds, he slumbers deep,
While I in vain, capricious sleep,
Invoke thy tardy power;
And restless lie,
With unclosed eye,
And count the tedious hours as slow they minute by.
Many there be, who, through the vale of life,
With velvet pace, unnoticed, softly go,
While jarring discord's inharmonious strife
Awakes them not to woe.
By them unheeded, carking care,
Green-eyed grief and dull despair;
Smoothly they pursue their way,
With even tenor and with equal breath,
Alike through cloudy and through sunny day,
Then sink in peace to death.
But, ah! a few there be whom griefs devour,
And weeping woe, and disappointment keen,
Repining penury, and sorrow sour,
And self-consuming spleen.
And these are Genius' favourites: these
Know the thought-throned mind to please,
And from her fleshy seat to draw
To realms where Fancy's golden orbits roll,
Disdaining all but 'wildering rapture's law,
The captivated soul.
Genius, from thy starry throne,
High above the burning zone,
In radiant robe of light array'd,
Oh! hear the plaint by thy sad favourite made,
His melancholy moan.
He tells of scorn, he tells of broken vows,
Of sleepless nights, of anguish-ridden days,
Pangs that his sensibility uprouse
To curse his being and his thirst for praise.
Thou gavest to him with treble force to feel
The sting of keen neglect, the rich man's scorn,
And what o'er all does in his soul preside
Predominant, and tempers him to steel,
His high indignant pride.
Lament not ye, who humbly steal through life.
That Genius visits not your lowly shed;
For, ah, what woes and sorrows ever rife
Distract his hapless head!
For him awaits no balmy sleep,
He wakes all night, and wakes to weep;
Or by his lonely lamp he sits
At solemn midnight, when the peasant sleeps,
In feverish study, and in moody fits
His mournful vigils keeps.
And, oh! for what consumes his watchful oil?
For what does thus he waste life's fleeting breath?
'T is for neglect and penury he doth toil,
'Tis for untimely death.
Lo! where dejected pale he lies,
Despair depicted in his eyes,
He feels the vital flame decrease,
He sees the grave wide yawning for its prey,
Without a friend to soothe his soul to peace,
And cheer the expiring ray.
By Sulmo's bard of mournful fame,
By gentle Otway's magic name,
By him, the youth, who smiled at death,
And rashly dared to stop his vital breath,
Will I thy pangs proclaim;
For still to misery closely thou'rt allied,
Though gaudy pageants glitter by thy side,
And far resounding Fame.
What though to thee the dazzled millions bow,
And to thy posthumous merit bend them low;
Though unto thee the monarch looks with awe,
And thou at thy flash'd car dost nations draw,
Yet, ah! unseen behind thee fly
Corroding Anguish, soul-subduing Pain,
And Discontent that clouds the fairest sky,
A melancholy train.
Yes, Genius, thee a thousand cares await,
Mocking thy derided state;
Thee chill Adversity will still attend,
Before whose face flies fast the summer's friend
And leaves thee all forlorn;
While leaden Ignorance rears her head and laughs,
And fat Stupidity shakes his jolly sides,
And while the cup of affluence he quaffs
With bee-eyed Wisdom, Genius derides,
Who toils, and every hardship doth outbrave,
To gain the meed of praise when he is mouldering in his grave.
FRAGMENT OF AN ODE TO THE MOON.
Mild orb, who floatest through the realm of night,
A pathless wanderer o'er a lonely wild,
Welcome to me thy soft and pensive light,
Which oft in childhood my lone thoughts beguiled.
Now doubly dear as o'er my silent seat,
Nocturnal study's still retreat,
It casts a mournful melancholy gleam,
And through my lofty casement weaves,
Dim through the vine's encircling leaves,
An intermingled beam.
These feverish dews that on my temples hang,
This quivering lip, these eyes of dying flame;
These the dread signs of many a secret pang,
These are the meed of him who pants for fame!
Pale Moon, from thoughts like these divert my soul;
Lowly I kneel before thy shrine on high;
My lamp expires;--beneath thy mild control
These restless dreams are ever wont to fly.
Come, kindred mourner, in my breast
Soothe these discordant tones to rest,
And breathe the soul of peace;
Mild visitor, I feel thee here,
It is not pain that brings this tear,
For thou hast bid it cease.
Oh! many, a year has pass'd away
Since I, beneath thy fairy ray,
Attuned my infant reed;
When wilt thou, Time, those days restore,
Those happy moments now no more--
* * * * *
When on the lake's damp marge I lay,
And mark'd the northern meteor's dance,
Bland Hope and Fancy, ye were there
To inspirate my trance.
Twin sisters, faintly now ye deign
Your magic sweets on me to shed,
In vain your powers are now essay'd
To chase superior pain.
And art thou fled, thou welcome orb!
So swiftly pleasure flies,
So to mankind, in darkness lost,
The beam of ardour dies.
Wan Moon, thy nightly task is done,
And now, encurtain'd in the main,
Thou sinkest into rest;
But I, in vain, on thorny bed
Shall woo the god of soft repose--
* * * * *
TO THE MUSE.
WRITTEN AT THE AGE OF FOURTEEN.
Ill-fated maid, in whose unhappy train
Chill poverty and misery are seen,
Anguish and discontent, the unhappy bane
Of life, and blackener of each brighter scene.
Why to thy votaries dost thou give to feel
So keenly all the scorns--the jeers of life?
Why not endow them to endure the strife
With apathy's invulnerable steel,
Of self-content and ease, each torturing wound to heal?
Ah! who would taste your self-deluding joys,
That lure the unwary to a wretched doom,
That bid fair views and flattering hopes arise,
Then hurl them headlong to a lasting tomb?
What is the charm which leads thy victims on
To persevere in paths that lead to woe?
What can induce them in that route to go,
In which innumerous before have gone,
And died in misery poor and woe-begone?
Yet can I ask what charms in thee are found;
I, who have drunk from thine ethereal rill,
And tasted all the pleasures that abound
Upon Parnassus' loved Aonian hill?
I, through whose soul the Muse's strains aye thrill!
Oh! I do feel the spell with which I'm tied;
And though our annals fearful stories tell,
How Savage languish'd, and how Otway died,
Yet must I persevere, let whate'er will betide.
Why should I blush to own I love?
'Tis Love that rules the realms above.
Why should I blush to say to all,
That Virtue holds my heart in thrall?
Why should I seek the thickest shade,
Lest Love's dear secret be betray'd?
Why the stern brow deceitful move,
When I am languishing with love?
Is it weakness thus to dwell
On passion that I dare not tell?
Such weakness I would ever prove;
'Tis painful, though 'tis sweet to love.
Hark! how the merry bells ring jocund round,
And now they die upon the veering breeze
Anon they thunder loud
Full on the musing ear.
Wafted in varying cadence, by the shore
Of the still twinkling river, they bespeak
A day of jubilee,
An ancient holiday.
And lo! the rural revels are begun,
And gaily echoing to the laughing sky,
On the smooth shaven green
Resounds the voice of Mirth.
Alas! regardless of the tongue of Fate,
That tells them 'tis but as an hour since they
Who now are in their graves
Kept up the Whitsun dance.
And that another hour, and they must fall
Like those who went before, and sleep as still
Beneath the silent sod,
A cold and cheerless sleep.
Yet why should thoughts like these intrude to scare
The vagrant Happiness, when she will deign
To smile upon us here,
A transient visitor?
Mortals! be gladsome while ye have the power,
And laugh and seize the glittering lapse of joy;
In time the bell will toll
That warns ye to your graves.
I to the woodland solitude will bend
My lonesome way--where Mirth's obstreperous shout
Shall not intrude to break
The meditative hour.
There will I ponder on the state of man,
Joyless and sad of heart, and consecrate
This day of jubilee
To sad reflection's shrine;
And I will cast my fond eye far beyond
This world of care, to where the steeple loud
Shall rock above the sod,
Where I shall sleep in peace.
TO THE WIND, AT MIDNIGHT.
Not unfamiliar to mine ear,
Blasts of the night! ye howl as now
My shuddering casement loud
With fitful force ye beat.
Mine ear has dwelt in silent awe,
The howling sweep, the sudden rush;
And when the passing gale
Pour'd deep the hollow dirge.
* * * * *
TO THE HARVEST MOON.
Cum ruit imbriferum ver:
Spicea jam campis cum messis inhorruit, et cum
Frumenta in viridi stipula lactentia turgent.
Cuncta tibi Cererem pubes agrestis adoret.
Moon of Harvest, herald mild
Of plenty rustic labour's child,
Hail! oh hail! I greet thy beam,
As soft it trembles o'er the stream,
And gilds the straw-thatch'd hamlet wide,
Where Innocence and Peace reside!
'Tis thou that gladd'st with joy the rustic throng,
Promptest the tripping dance, the exhilarating song.
Moon of Harvest, I do love
O'er the uplands now to rove,
While thy modest ray serene
Gilds the wide surrounding scene;
And to watch thee riding high
In the blue vault of the sky,
Where no thin vapour intercepts thy ray,
But in unclouded majesty thou walkest on thy way.
Pleasing 'tis, oh! modest Moon!
Now the night is at her noon,
'Neath thy sway to musing lie,
While around the zephyrs sigh,
Fanning soft the sun-tann'd wheat,
Ripen'd by the summer's heat;
Picturing all the rustic's joy
When boundless plenty greets his eye,
And thinking soon,
Oh, modest Moon!
How many a female eye will roam
Along the road,
To see the load,
The last dear load of harvest home.
Storms and tempests, floods and rains,
Stern despoilers of the plains,
Hence, away, the season flee,
Foes to light-heart jollity:
May no winds careering high
Drive the clouds along the sky,
But may all nature smile with aspect boon,
When in the heavens thou show'st thy face, oh Harvest Moon!
'Neath yon lowly roof he lies,
The husbandman, with deep-seal'd eyes:
He dreams of crowded barns, and round
The yard he hears the flail resound;
Oh! may no hurricane destroy
His visionary views of joy!
God of the winds! oh, hear his humble prayer,
And while the Moon of Harvest shines, thy blustering whirlwind spare.
Sons of luxury, to you
Leave I sleep's dull power to woo;
Press ye still the downy bed,
While feverish dreams surround your head;
I will seek the woodland glade,
Penetrate the thickest shade,
Wrapp'd in contemplation's dreams,
Musing high on holy themes,
While on the gale
Shall softly sail
The nightingale's enchanting tune,
And oft my eyes
Shall grateful rise
To thee, the modest Harvest Moon!
TO THE HERB ROSEMARY.
Sweet scented flower! who art wont to bloom
On January's front severe,
And o'er the wintry desert drear
To waft thy waste perfume!
Come, thou shalt form my nosegay now,
And I will bind thee round my brow;
And as I twine the mournful wreath,
I'll weave a melancholy song;
And sweet the strain shall be, and long,
The melody of death.
Come, funeral flower! who lovest to dwell
With the pale corse in lonely tomb,
And throw across the desert gloom
A sweet decaying smell.
Come, press my lips, and lie with me
Beneath the lowly alder tree,
And we will sleep a pleasant sleep,
And not a care shall dare intrude
To break the marble solitude,
So peaceful and so deep.
And hark! the wind god, as he flies,
Moans hollow in the forest trees,
And sailing on the gusty breeze,
Mysterious music dies.
Sweet flower! that requiem wild is mine,
It warns me to the lonely shrine,
The cold turf altar of the dead:
My grave shall be in yon lone spot,
Where as I lie, by all forgot,
A dying fragrance thou wilt o'er my ashes shed.
 The Rosemary buds in January. It is the flower commonly put in
the coffins of the dead.
TO THE MORNING.
WRITTEN DURING ILLNESS.
Beams of the daybreak faint! I hail
Your dubious hues, as on the robe
Of night, which wraps the slumbering globe,
I mark your traces pale.
Tired with the taper's sickly light,
And with the wearying, number'd night,
I hail the streaks of morn divine:
And lo! they break between the dewy wreaths
That round my rural casement twine;
The fresh gale o'er the green lawn breathes,
It fans my feverish brow,--it calms the mental strife,
And cheerily re-illumes the lambent flame of life.
The lark has her gay song begun,
She leaves her grassy nest,
And soars till the unrisen sun
Gleams on her speckled breast.
Now let me leave my restless bed,
And o'er the spangled uplands tread;
Now through the custom'd wood walk wend;
By many a green lane lies my way,
Where high o'er head the wild briers bend,
Till on the mountain's summit gray,
I sit me down, and mark the glorious dawn of day.
Oh Heaven! the soft refreshing gale
It breathes into my breast!
My sunk eye gleams; my cheek, so pale,
Is with new colours dress'd.
Blithe Health! thou soul of life and ease!
Come thou, too, on the balmy breeze,
Invigorate my frame:
I'll join with thee the buskin'd chase,
With thee the distant clime will trace
Beyond those clouds of flame.
Above, below, what charms unfold
In all the varied view!
Before me all is burnish'd gold,
Behind the twilight's hue.
The mists which on old Night await,
Far to the west they hold their state,
They shun the clear blue face of Morn;
Along the fine cerulean sky
The fleecy clouds successive fly,
While bright prismatic beams their shadowy folds adorn.
And hark! the thatcher has begun
His whistle on the eaves,
And oft the hedger's bill is heard
Among the rustling leaves.
The slow team creaks upon the road,
The noisy whip resounds,
The driver's voice, his carol blithe,
The mower's stroke, his whetting scythe
Mix with the morning's sounds.
Who would not rather take his seat
Beneath these clumps of trees,
The early dawn of day to greet,
And catch the healthy breeze,
Than on the silken couch of Sloth
Luxurious to lie;
Who would not from life's dreary waste
Snatch, when he could, with eager haste,
An interval of joy!
To him who simply thus recounts
The morning's pleasures o'er,
Fate dooms, ere long, the scene must close
To ope on him no more.
Yet Morning! unrepining still,
He'll greet thy beams awhile;
And surely thou, when o'er his grave
Solemn the whispering willows wave,
Wilt sweetly on him smile:
And the pale glowworm's pensive light
Will guide his ghostly walks in the drear moonless night.
Come, Disappointment, come!
Not in thy terrors clad:
Come, in thy meekest, saddest guise;
Thy chastening rod but terrifies
The restless and the bad.
But I recline
Beneath thy shrine,
And round my brow resign'd thy peaceful cypress twine.
Though Fancy flies away
Before thy hollow tread,
Yet Meditation, in her cell,
Hears with faint eye the lingering knell
That tells her hopes are dead;
And though the tear
By chance appear,
Yet she can smile, and say, My all was not laid here.
Come, Disappointment, come!
Though from Hope's summit hurl'd,
Still, rigid Nurse, thou art forgiven,
For thou severe wert sent from heaven
To wean me from the world;
To turn my eye
And point to scenes of bliss that never, never die.
What is this passing scene?
A peevish April day!
A little sun--a little rain,
And then night sweeps along the plain.
And all things fade away.
Man (soon discuss'd)
Yields up his trust,
And all his hopes and fears lie with him in the dust.
Oh, what is Beauty's power?
It flourishes and dies;
Will the cold earth its silence break,
To tell how soft, how smooth a cheek
Beneath its surface lies?
Mute, mute is all
O'er Beauty's fall;
Her praise resounds no more when mantled in her pall.
The most beloved on earth
Not long survives to-day;
So music past is obsolete,
And yet 'twas sweet, 'twas passing sweet,
But now 'tis gone away.
Thus does the shade
In memory fade,
When in forsaken tomb the form beloved is laid.
Then since this world is vain,
And volatile, and fleet,
Why should I lay up earthly joys,
Where rust corrupts, and moth destroys,
And cares and sorrows eat?
Why fly from ill
With anxious skill,
When soon this hand will freeze, this throbbing heart be still.
Come, Disappointment, come!
Thou art not stern to me;
Sad Monitress! I own thy sway,
A votary sad in early day,
I bend my knee to thee.
From sun to sun
My race will run,
I only bow, and say, My God, thy will be done!
On another paper are a few lines, written probably in the
freshness of his disappointment.
I dream no more--the vision flies away,
There fell my hopes--I lost my all in this,
My cherish'd all of visionary bliss.
Now hope farewell, farewell all joys below;
Now welcome sorrow, and now welcome woe.
Plunge me in glooms....
ON THE DEATH OF DERMODY THE POET.
Child of Misfortune! Offspring of the Muse!
Mark like the meteor's gleam his mad career;
With hollow cheeks and haggard eye,
Behold he shrieking passes by:
I see, I see him near:
That hollow scream, that deepening groan;
It rings upon mine ear.
Oh come, ye thoughtless, ye deluded youth,
Who clasp the syren pleasure to your breast,
Behold the wreck of genius here,
And drop, oh drop the silent tear
For Dermody at rest:
His fate is yours, then from your loins
Tear quick the silken vest.
Saw'st thou his dying bed! Saw'st thou his eye,
Once flashing fire, despair's dim tear distil;
How ghastly did it seem;
And then his dying scream:
Oh God! I hear it still:
It sounds upon my fainting sense,
It strikes with deathly chill.
Say, didst thou mark the brilliant poet's death;
Saw'st thou an anxious father by his bed,
Or pitying friends around him stand:
Or didst thou see a mother's hand
Support his languid head:
Oh none of these--no friend o'er him
The balm of pity shed.
Now come around, ye flippant sons of wealth,
Sarcastic smile on genius fallen low;
Now come around who pant for fame,
And learn from hence, a poet's name
Is purchased but by woe:
And when ambition prompts to rise,
Oh think of him below.
For me, poor moralizer, I will run,
Dejected, to some solitary state:
The muse has set her seal on me,
She set her seal on Dermody,
It is the seal of fate:
In some lone spot my bones may lie,
Secure from human hate.
Yet ere I go I'll drop one silent tear,
Where lies unwept the poet's fallen head:
May peace her banners o'er him wave;
For me in my deserted grave
No friend a tear shall shed:
Yet may the lily and the rose
Bloom on my grassy bed.
SONNET TO THE RIVER TRENT.
WRITTEN ON RECOVERY FROM SICKNESS.
Once more, O Trent! along thy pebbly marge
A pensive invalid, reduced and pale,
From the close sick-room newly set at large,
Woos to his wan worn cheek the pleasant gale.
O! to his ear how musical the tale
Which fills with joy the throstle's little throat!
And all the sounds which on the fresh breeze sail,
How wildly novel on his senses float!
It was on this that many a sleepless night,
As lone he watch'd the taper's sickly gleam,
And at his casement heard, with wild affright,
The owl's dull wing, and melancholy scream,
On this he thought, this, this, his sole desire,
Thus once again to hear the warbling woodland choir.
Give me a cottage on some Cambrian wild,
Where far from cities I may spend my days;
And, by the beauties of the scene beguiled,
May pity man's pursuits and shun his ways.
While on the rock I mark the browsing goat,
List to the mountain-torrent's distant noise,
Or the hoarse bittern's solitary note,
I shall not want the world's delusive joys;
But with my little scrip, my book, my lyre,
Shall think my lot complete, nor covet more;
And when, with time, shall wane the vital fire,
I'll raise my pillow on the desert shore,
And lay me down to rest where the wild wave
Shall make sweet music o'er my lonely grave.
SUPPOSED TO HAVE BEEN ADDRESSED BY A FEMALE LUNATIC TO A LADY.
Lady, thou weepest for the Maniac's woe,
And thou art fair, and thou, like me, art young;
Oh! may thy bosom never, never know
The pangs with which my wretched heart is wrung.
I had a mother once--a brother too--
(Beneath yon yew my father rests his head:)
I had a lover once, and kind and true,
But mother, brother, lover, all are fled!
Yet, whence the tear which dims thy lovely eye?
Oh! gentle lady--not for me thus weep,
The green sod soon upon my breast will lie,
And soft and sound will be my peaceful sleep.
Go thou, and pluck the roses while they bloom--
My hopes lie buried in the silent tomb.
 This Quatorzain had its rise from an elegant Sonnet, "occasioned by
seeing a young female Lunatic," written by Mrs. Lofft, and published in
the Monthly Mirror.
Supposed to be written by the unhappy Poet Dermody in
Storm, while on board a Ship in his Majesty's service.
Lo! o'er the welkin the tempestuous clouds
Successive fly, and the loud piping wind
Rocks the poor sea-boy on the dripping shrouds,
While the pale pilot, o'er the helm reclined,
Lists to the changeful storm: and as he plies
His wakeful task, he oft bethinks him, sad,
Of wife, and little home, and chubby lad,
And the half strangled tear bedews his eyes;
I, on the deck, musing on themes forlorn,
View the drear tempest, and the yawning deep,
Nought dreading in the green sea's caves to sleep,
For not for me shall wife or children mourn,
And the wild winds will ring my funeral knell,
Sweetly as solemn peal of pious passing-bell.
SONNET. THE WINTER TRAVELLER.
God help thee, Traveller, on thy journey far;
The wind is bitter keen,--the snow o'erlays
The hidden pits, and dangerous hollow ways,
And darkness will involve thee. No kind star
To-night will guide thee, Traveller,--and the war
Of winds and elements on thy head will break,
And in thy agonizing ear the shriek
Of spirits howling on their stormy car
Will often ring appalling--I portend
A dismal night--and on my wakeful bed
Thoughts, Traveller, of thee will fill my head,
And him who rides where winds and waves contend,
And strives, rude cradled on the seas, to guide
His lonely bark through the tempestuous tide.
BY CAPEL LOFFT, ESQ.
This Sonnet was addressed to the Author of this volume, and
was occasioned by several little Quatorzains, misnomered
Sonnets, which he published in the Monthly Mirror. He begs
leave to return his thanks to the much respected writer, for
the permission so politely granted to insert it here, and for the
good opinion he has been pleased to express of his productions.
Ye whose aspirings court the muse of lays,
"Severest of those orders which belong,
Distinct and separate, to Delphic song,"
Why shun the sonnet's undulating maze?
And why its name, boast of Petrarchian days,
Assume, its rules disown'd? whom from the throng
The muse selects, their ear the charm obeys
Of its full harmony:--they fear to wrong
The sonnet, by adorning with a name
Of that distinguish'd import, lays, though sweet,
Yet not in magic texture taught to meet
Of that so varied and peculiar frame.
O think! to vindicate its genuine praise
Those it beseems, whose lyre a favouring impulse sways.
RECANTATORY, IN REPLY TO THE FOREGOING ELEGANT
Let the sublimer muse, who, wrapp'd in night,
Rides on the raven pennons of the storm,
Or o'er the field, with purple havoc warm,
Lashes her steeds, and sings along the fight;
Let her, whom more ferocious strains delight,
Disdain the plaintive sonnet's little form,
And scorn to its wild cadence to conform,
The impetuous tenor of her hardy flight.
But me, far lowest of the sylvan train,
Who wake the wood-nymphs from the forest shade
With wildest song;--me, much behoves thy aid
Of mingled melody, to grace my strain,
And give it power to please, as soft it flows
Through the smooth murmurs of thy frequent close.
SONNET ON HEARING THE SOUNDS OF AN ∆OLIAN HARP.
So ravishingly soft upon the tide
Of the infuriate gust, it did career,
It might have soothed its rugged charioteer,
And sunk him to a zephyr; then it died,
Melting in melody;--and I descried,
Borne to some wizard stream, the form appear
Of Druid sage, who on the far-off ear
Pour'd his lone song, to which the surge replied:
Or thought I heard the hapless pilgrim's knell,
Lost in some wild enchanted forest's bounds,
By unseen beings sung; or are these sounds
Such as, 'tis said, at night are known to swell
By startled shepherd on the lonely heath,
Keeping his night-watch sad, portending death?
What art thou, Mighty One! and where thy seat?
Thou broodest on the calm that cheers the lands.
And thou dost bear within thine awful hands
The rolling thunders and the lightnings fleet.
Stern on thy dark-wrought car of cloud and wind,
Thou guidest the northern storm at night's dead noon,
Or, on the red wing of the fierce monsoon,
Disturb'st the sleeping giant of the Ind.
In the drear silence of the polar span
Dost thou repose? or in the solitude
Of sultry tracts, where the lone caravan
Hears nightly howl the tiger's hungry brood?
Vain thought! the confines of his throne to trace,
Who glows through all the fields of boundless space.
SONNET TO CAPEL LOFFT, ESQ.
Lofft, unto thee one tributary song
The simple Muse, admiring, fain would bring;
She longs to lisp thee to the listening throng,
And with thy name to bid the woodlands ring.
Fain would she blazon all thy virtues forth,
Thy warm philanthropy, thy justice mild,
Would say how thou didst foster kindred worth,
And to thy bosom snatch'd Misfortune's child:
Firm she would paint thee, with becoming zeal,
Upright, and learned, as the Pylian sire,
Would say how sweetly thou couldst sweep the lyre,
And show thy labours for the public weal,
Ten thousand virtues tell with joys supreme,
But ah! she shrinks abash'd before the arduous theme.
SONNET TO THE MOON.
WRITTEN IN NOVEMBER.
Sublime, emerging from the misty verge
Of the horizon dim, thee, Moon, I hail,
As, sweeping o'er the leafless grove, the gale
Seems to repeat the year's funereal dirge.
Now Autumn sickens on the languid sight,
And leaves bestrew the wanderer's lonely way,
Now unto thee, pale arbitress of night,
With double joy my homage do I pay.
When clouds disguise the glories of the day,
And stern November sheds her boisterous blight,
How doubly sweet to mark the moony ray
Shoot through the mist from the ethereal height,
And, still unchanged, back to the memory bring
The smiles Favonian of life's earliest spring.
SONNET WRITTEN AT THE GRAVE OF A FRIEND.
Fast from the west the fading day-streaks fly,
And ebon Night assumes her solemn sway,
Yet here alone, unheeding time, I lie,
And o'er my friend still pour the plaintive lay.
Oh! 'tis not long since, George, with thee I woo'd
The maid of musings by yon moaning wave;
And hail'd the moon's mild beam, which, now renew'd,
Seems sweetly sleeping on thy silent grave!
The busy world pursues its boisterous way,
The noise of revelry still echoes round,
Yet I am sad while all beside is gay;
Yet still I weep o'er thy deserted mound.
Oh! that, like thee, I might bid sorrow cease,
And 'neath the greensward sleep the sleep of peace.
SONNET TO MISFORTUNE.
Misfortune, I am young, my chin is bare,
And I have wonder'd much when men have told.
How youth was free from sorrow and from care,
That thou shouldst dwell with me, and leave the old.
Sure dost not like me!--Shrivel'd hag of hate,
My phiz, and thanks to thee, is sadly long;
I am not either, beldame, over strong;
Nor do I wish at all to be thy mate,
For thou, sweet Fury, art my utter hate.
Nay, shake not thus thy miserable pate;
I am yet young, and do not like thy face;
And, lest thou shouldst resume the wild-goose chase,
I'll tell thee something all thy heat to assuage,
--Thou wilt not hit my fancy in my age.
As thus oppressed with many a heavy care
(Though young yet sorrowful), I turn my feet
To the dark woodland, longing much to greet
The form of Peace, if chance she sojourn there;
Deep thought and dismal, verging to despair,
Fills my sad breast; and, tired with this vain coil,
I shrink dismay'd before life's upland toil.
And as, amid the leaves, the evening air
Whispers still melody,--I think ere long,
When I no more can hear, these woods will speak;
And then a sad smile plays upon my cheek,
And mournful phantasies upon me throng,
And I do ponder, with most strange delight,
On the calm slumbers of the dead man's night.
SONNET TO APRIL.
Emblem of life! see changeful April sail
In varying vest along the shadowy skies,
Now bidding summer's softest zephyrs rise,
Anon recalling winter's stormy gale,
And pouring from the cloud her sudden hail;
Then, smiling through the tear that dims her eyes,
While Iris with her braid the welkin dyes,
Promise of sunshine, not so prone to fail.
So, to us, sojourners in life's low vale,
The smiles of fortune flatter to deceive,
While still the fates the web of misery weave.
So Hope exultant spreads her aŽry sail,
And from the present gloom the soul conveys
To distant summers and far happier days.
Ye unseen spirits, whose wild melodies,
At evening rising slow, yet sweetly clear,
Steal on the musing poet's pensive ear,
As by the wood-spring stretch'd supine he lies;
When he, who now invokes you, low is laid,
His tired frame resting on the earth's cold bed;
Hold ye your nightly vigils o'er his head,
And chant a dirge to his reposing shade!
For he was wont to love your madrigals;
And often by the haunted stream, that laves
The dark sequester'd woodland's inmost caves,
Would sit and listen to the dying falls,
Till the full tear would quiver in his eye,
And his big heart would heave with mournful ecstasy.
SONNET TO A TAPER.
'Tis midnight. On the globe dead slumber sits,
And all is silence--in the hour of sleep;
Save when the hollow gust, that swells by fits,
In the dark wood roars fearfully and deep.
I wake alone to listen and to weep,
To watch my taper, thy pale beacon burn;
And, as still Memory does her vigils keep,
To think of days that never can return.
By thy pale ray I raise my languid head,
My eye surveys the solitary gloom;
And the sad meaning tear, unmix'd with dread,
Tells thou dost light me to the silent tomb.
Like thee I wane;--like thine my life's last ray
Will fade in loneliness, unwept, away.
SONNET TO MY MOTHER.
And canst thou, Mother, for a moment think
That we, thy children, when old age shall shed
Its blanching honours on thy weary head,
Could from our best of duties ever shrink?
Sooner the sun from his high sphere should sink
Than we, ungrateful, leave thee in that day,
To pine in solitude thy life away,
Or shun thee, tottering on the grave's cold brink.
Banish the thought!--where'er our steps may roam,
O'er smiling plains, or wastes without a tree,
Still will fond memory point our hearts to thee,
And paint the pleasures of thy peaceful home;
While duty bids us all thy griefs assuage,
And smooth the pillow of thy sinking age.
Yes, 'twill be over soon.--This sickly dream
Of life will vanish from my feverish brain;
And death my wearied spirit will redeem
From this wild region of unvaried pain.
Yon brook will glide as softly as before,
Yon landscape smile, yon golden harvest grow.
Yon sprightly lark on mountain wing will soar
When Henry's name is heard no more below.
I sigh when all my youthful friends caress,
They laugh in health, and future evils brave;
Them shall a wife and smiling children bless,
While I am mouldering in the silent grave.
God of the just, Thou gavest the bitter cup;
I bow to thy behest, and drink it up.
SONNET TO CONSUMPTION.
Gently, most gently, on thy victim's head.
Consumption, lay thine hand!--let me decay
Like the expiring lamp, unseen, away,
And softly go to slumber with the dead.
And if 'tis true what holy men have said,
That strains angelic oft foretell the day
Of death to those good men who fall thy prey,
O let the aŽrial music round my bed,
Dissolving sad in dying symphony,
Whisper the solemn warning in mine ear;
That I may bid my weeping friends good-by
Ere I depart upon my journey drear:
And, smiling faintly on the painful past,
Compose my decent head, and breathe my last.
TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH OF M. DESBARREAUX.
Thy judgments, Lord, are just; thou lovest to wear
The face of pity and of love divine;
But mine is guilt--thou must not, canst not spare,
While heaven is true, and equity is thine.
Yes, oh my God!--such crimes as mine, so dread,
Leave but the choice of punishment to thee;
Thy interest calls for judgment on my head,
And even thy mercy dares not plead for me!
Thy will be done, since 'tis thy glory's due,
Did from mine eyes the endless torrents flow;
Smite--it is time--though endless death ensue,
I bless the avenging hand that lays me low.
But on what spot shall fall thine anger's flood,
That has not first been drench'd in Christ's atoning blood?
When I sit musing on the chequer'd past
(A term much darken'd with untimely woes),
My thoughts revert to her, for whom still flows
The tear, though half disown'd; and binding fast
Pride's stubborn cheat to my too yielding heart,
I say to her she robb'd me of my rest,
When that was all my wealth. 'Tis true my breast
Received from her this wearying, lingering smart;
Yet, ah! I cannot bid her form depart;
Though wrong'd, I love her--yet in anger love,
For she was most unworthy.--Then I prove
Vindictive joy; and on my stern front gleams,
Throned in dark clouds, inflexible....
The native pride of my much injured heart.
Sweet to the gay of heart is Summer's smile,
Sweet the wild music of the laughing Spring;
But ah! my soul far other scenes beguile,
Where gloomy storms their sullen shadows fling.
Is it for me to strike the Idalian string--
Raise the soft music of the warbling wire,
While in my ears the howls of furies ring,
And melancholy waste the vital fire?
Away with thoughts like these--To some lone cave
Where howls the shrill blast, and where sweeps the wave,
Direct my steps; there, in the lonely drear,
I'll sit remote from worldly noise, and muse
Till through my soul shall Peace her balm infuse,
And whisper sounds of comfort in mine ear.
Quick o'er the wintry waste dart fiery shafts--
Bleak blows the blast--now howls--then faintly dies--
And oft upon its awful wings it wafts
The dying wanderer's distant, feeble cries.
Now, when athwart the gloom gaunt Horror stalks,
And midnight hags their damned vigils hold,
The pensive poet 'mid the wild waste walks,
And ponders on the ills life's paths unfold.
Mindless of dangers hovering round, he goes,
Insensible to every outward ill;
Yet oft his bosom heaves with rending throes,
And oft big tears adown his worn cheeks trill.
Ah! 'tis the anguish of a mental sore,
Which gnaws his heart, and bids him hope no more.
BALLADS, SONGS, AND HYMNS.
The night it was still, and the moon it shone
Serenely on the sea,
And the waves at the foot of the rifted rock
They murmur'd pleasantly,
When Gondoline roam'd along the shore,
A maiden full fair to the sight;
Though love had made bleak the rose on her cheek,
And turn'd it to deadly white.
Her thoughts they were drear, and the silent tear
It fill'd her faint blue eye,
As oft she heard, in fancy's ear,
Her Bertrand's dying sigh.
Her Bertrand was the bravest youth
Of all our good king's men,
And he was gone to the Holy Land
To fight the Saracen.
And many a month had pass'd away,
And many a rolling year,
But nothing the maid from Palestine
Could of her lover hear.
Full oft she vainly tried to pierce
The ocean's misty face;
Full oft she thought her lover's bark
She on the wave could trace.
And every night she placed a light
In the high rock's lonely tower,
To guide her lover to the land,
Should the murky tempest lower.
But now despair had seized her breast,
And sunken in her eye;
"Oh tell me but if Bertrand live,
And I in peace will die."
She wander'd o'er the lonely shore,
The curlew scream'd above,
She heard the scream with a sickening heart,
Much boding on her love.
Yet still she kept her lonely way,
And this was all her cry.
"Oh! tell me but if Bertrand live,
And I in peace shall die."
And now she came to a horrible rift
All in the rock's hard side,
A bleak and blasted oak o'erspread
The cavern yawning wide.
And pendant from its dismal top
The deadly nightshade hung;
The hemlock and the aconite
Across the mouth was flung.
And all within was dark and drear,
And all without was calm;
Yet Gondoline enter'd, her soul upheld
By some deep-working charm.
And as she enter'd the cavern wide,
The moonbeam gleamed pale,
And she saw a snake on the craggy rock,
It clung by its slimy tail.
Her foot it slipp'd, and she stood aghast,
She trod on a bloated toad;
Yet, still upheld by the secret charm,
She kept upon her road.
And now upon her frozen ear
Mysterious sounds arose;
So, on the mountain's piny top
The blustering north wind blows.
Then furious peals of laughter loud
Were heard with thundering sound,
Till they died away in soft decay,
Low whispering o'er the ground.
Yet still the maiden onward went,
The charm yet onward led,
Though each big glaring ball of sight
Seem'd bursting from her head.
But now a pale blue light she saw,
It from a distance came;
She follow'd, till upon her sight
Burst full a flood of flame.
She stood appall'd; yet still the charm
Upheld her sinking soul;
Yet each bent knee the other smote,
And each wild eye did roll.
And such a sight as she saw there
No mortal saw before,
And such a sight as she saw there
No mortal shall see more.
A burning cauldron stood in the midst,
The flame was fierce and high,
And all the cave so wide and long
Was plainly seen thereby.
And round about the cauldron stout
Twelve withered witches stood;
Their waists were bound with living snakes,
And their hair was stiff with blood.
Their hands were gory too; and red
And fiercely flamed their eyes:
And they were muttering indistinct
Their hellish mysteries.
And suddenly they join'd their hands,
And utter'd a joyous cry,
And round about the cauldron stout
They danced right merrily.
And now they stopp'd; and each prepared
To tell what she had done,
Since last the lady of the night
Her waning course had run.
Behind a rock stood Gondoline,
Thick weeds her face did veil,
And she lean'd fearful forwarder,
To hear the dreadful tale.
The first arose: She said she'd seen
Rare sport since the blind cat mew'd,
She'd been to sea in a leaky sieve,
And a jovial storm had brew'd.
She'd called around the winged winds,
And raised a devilish rout;
And she laugh'd so loud, the peals were heard
Full fifteen leagues about.
She said there was a little bark
Upon the roaring wave,
And there was a woman there who'd been
To see her husband's grave.
And she had got a child in her arms,
It was her only child,
And oft its little infant pranks
Her heavy heart beguiled.
And there was too in that same bark
A father and his son:
The lad was sickly, and the sire
Was old and woe-begone.
And when the tempest waxed strong,
And the bark could no more it 'bide,
She said it was jovial fun to hear
How the poor devils cried.
The mother clasp'd her orphan child
Unto her breast and wept;
And sweetly folded in her arms
The careless baby slept.
And she told how, in the shape of the wind,
As manfully it roar'd,
She twisted her hand in the infant's hair,
And threw it overboard.
And to have seen the mother's pangs,
'Twas a glorious sight to see;
The crew could scarcely hold her down
From jumping in the sea.
The hag held a lock of her hair in her hand,
And it was soft and fair:
It must have been a lovely child,
To have had such lovely hair.
And she said the father in his arms
He held his sickly son,
And his dying throes they fast arose,
His pains were nearly done.
And she throttled the youth with her sinewy hands,
And his face grew deadly blue;
And the father he tore his thin gray hair,
And kiss'd the livid hue.
And then she told how she bored a hole
In the bark, and it fill'd away:
And 'twas rare to hear how some did swear,
And some did vow and pray.
The man and woman they soon were dead,
The sailors their strength did urge;
But the billows that beat were their winding-sheet,
And the winds sung their funeral dirge.
She threw the infant's hair in the fire,
The red flame flamed high,
And round about the cauldron stout
They danced right merrily.
The second begun: She said she had done
The task that Queen Hecate had set her,
And that the devil, the father of evil,
Had never accomplished a better.
She said, there was an aged woman,
And she had a daughter fair,
Whose evil habits fill'd her heart
With misery and care.
The daughter had a paramour,
A wicked man was he,
And oft the woman him against
Did murmur grievously.
And the hag had work'd the daughter up
To murder her old mother,
That then she might seize on all her goods,
And wanton with her lover.
And one night as the old woman
Was sick and ill in bed.
And pondering solely on the life
Her wicked daughter led,
She heard her footstep on the floor,
And she raised her pallid head,
And she saw her daughter, with a knife,
Approaching to her bed.
And said, My child, I'm very ill,
I have not long to live,
Now kiss my cheek, that ere I die
Thy sins I may forgive.
And the murderess bent to kiss her cheek,
And she lifted the sharp bright knife,
And the mother saw her fell intent,
And hard she begg'd for life.
But prayers would nothing her avail,
And she scream'd aloud with fear,
But the house was lone, and the piercing screams
Could reach no human ear
And though that she was sick, and old,
She struggled hard, and fought;
The murderess cut three fingers through
Ere she could reach her throat.
And the hag she held her fingers up,
The skin was mangled sore,
And they all agreed a nobler deed
Was never done before.
And she threw the fingers in the fire,
The red flame flamed high,
And round about the cauldron stout
They danced right merrily.
The third arose: She said she'd been
To holy Palestine;
And seen more blood in one short day
Than they had all seen in nine.
Now Gondoline, with fearful steps,
Drew nearer to the flame,
For much she dreaded now to hear
Her hapless lover's name.
The hag related then the sports
Of that eventful day,
When on the well contested field
Full fifteen thousand lay.
She said that she in human gore
Above the knees did wade,
And that no tongue could truly tell
The tricks she there had play'd.
There was a gallant featured youth,
Who like a hero fought;
He kiss'd a bracelet on his wrist,
And every danger sought.
And in a vassal's garb disguised,
Unto the knight she sues,
And tells him she from Britain comes,
And brings unwelcome news.
That three days ere she had embark'd
His love had given her hand
Unto a wealthy Thane:--and thought
Him dead in Holy Land.
And to have seen how he did writhe
When this her tale she told,
It would have made a wizard's blood
Within his heart run cold.
Then fierce he spurr'd his warrior steed,
And sought the battle's bed;
And soon all mangled o'er with wounds
He on the cold turf bled.
And from his smoking corse she tore
His head, half clove in two.
She ceased, and from beneath her garb
The bloody trophy drew.
The eyes were starting from their socks,
The mouth it ghastly grinn'd,
And there was a gash across the brow,
The scalp was nearly skinn'd.