Part 1 out of 11
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THE WORKS OF CHARLES AND MARY LAMB
IV. POEMS AND PLAYS
[Illustration: Charles Lamb (aged 23)
From a drawing by Robert Hancock]
POEMS AND PLAYS
CHARLES AND MARY LAMB
The earliest poem in this volume bears the date 1794, when Lamb was
nineteen, the latest 1834, the year of his death; so that it covers an
even longer period of his life than Vol. I.--the "Miscellaneous Prose."
The chronological order which was strictly observed in that volume has
been only partly observed in the following pages--since it seemed better
to keep the plays together and to make a separate section of Lamb's
epigrams. These, therefore, will be found to be outside the general
scheme. Such of Lamb's later poems as he did not himself collect in
volume form will also be found to be out of their chronological
position, partly because it has seemed to me best to give prominence to
those verses which Lamb himself reprinted, and partly because there is
often no indication of the year in which the poem was written.
Another difficulty has been the frequency with which Lamb reprinted some
of his earlier poetry. The text of many of his earliest and best poems
was not fixed until 1818, twenty years or so after their composition. It
had to be decided whether to print these poems in their true order as
they were first published--in Coleridge's _Poems on Various Subjects_,
1796; in Charles Lloyd's _ems on the Death of Priscilla Farmer_, 1796;
in Coleridge's _Poems_, second edition, 1797; in _Blank Verse_ by
Charles Lloyd and Charles Lamb, 1798; and in John Woodvil, 1802--with
all their early readings; or whether to disregard chronological
sequence, and wait until the time of the _Works_--1818--had come, and
print them all together then. I decided, in the interests of their
biographical value, to print them in the order as they first appeared,
particularly as Crabb Robinson tells us that Lamb once said of the
arrangement of a poet's works: "There is only one good order--and that
is the order in which they were written--that is a history of the poet's
mind." It then had to be decided whether to print them in their first
shape, which, unless I repeated them later, would mean the relegation of
Lamb's final text to the Notes, or to print them, at the expense of a
slight infringement upon the chronological scheme, in their final 1818
state, and relegate all earlier readings to the Notes. After much
deliberation I decided that to print them in their final 1818 state was
best, and this therefore I did in the large edition of 1903, to which
the student is referred for all variorum readings, fuller notes and many
illustrations, and have repeated here. In order, however, that the
scheme of Lamb's 1818 edition of his _Works_ might be preserved, I have
indicated in the text the position in the _Works_ occupied by all the
poems that in the present volume have been printed earlier.
The chronological order, in so far as it has been followed, emphasises
the dividing line between Lamb's poetry and his verse. As he grew older
his poetry, for the most part, passed into his prose. His best and
truest poems, with few exceptions, belong to the years before, say,
1805, when he was thirty. After this, following a long interval of
silence, came the brief satirical outburst of 1812, in _The Examiner_,
and the longer one, in 1820, in _The Champion_; then, after another
interval, during which he was busy as Elia, came the period of album
verses, which lasted to the end. The impulse to write personal prose,
which was quickened in Lamb by the _London Magazine_ in 1820, seems to
have taken the place of his old ambition to be a poet. In his later and
more mechanical period there were, however, occasional inspirations, as
when he wrote the sonnet on "Work," in 1819; on "Leisure," in 1821; the
lines in his own Album, in 1827, and, pre-eminently, the poem "On an
Infant Dying as Soon as Born," in 1827.
This volume contains, with the exception of the verse for children,
which will be found in Vol. III. of this edition, all the accessible
poetical work of Charles and Mary Lamb that is known to exist and
several poems not to be found in the large edition. There are probably
still many copies of album verses which have not yet seen the light. In
the _London Magazine_, April, 1824, is a story entitled "The Bride of
Modern Italy," which has for motto the following couplet:--
My heart is fixt:
This is the sixt.--_Elia_.
but the rest of what seems to be a pleasant catalogue is missing. In a
letter to Coleridge, December 2, 1796, Lamb refers to a poem which has
apparently perished, beginning, "Laugh, all that weep." I have left in
the correspondence the rhyming letters to Ayrton and Dibdin, and an
epigram on "Coelebs in Search of a Wife." I have placed the dedication
to Coleridge at the beginning of this volume, although it belongs
properly only to those poems that are reprinted from the _Works_ of
1818, the prose of which Lamb offered to Martin Burney. But it is too
fine to be put among the Notes, and it may easily, by a pardonable
stretch, be made to refer to the whole body of Lamb's poetical and
dramatic work, although _Album Verses_, 1830, was dedicated separately
to Edward Moxon.
In Mr. Bedford's design for the cover of this edition certain Elian
symbolism will be found. The upper coat of arms is that of Christ's
Hospital, where Lamb was at school; the lower is that of the Inner
Temple, where he was born and spent many years. The figures at the bells
are those which once stood out from the facade of St. Dunstan's Church
in Fleet Street, and are now in Lord Londesborough's garden in Regent's
Park. Lamb shed tears when they were removed. The tricksy sprite and the
candles (brought by Betty) need no explanatory words of mine.
CONTENTS TEXT NOTE
Dedication 1 307
Lamb's earliest poem, "Mille viae mortis" 3 307
Poems in Coleridge's _Poems on Various Subjects_, 1796:--
"As when a child ..." 4 308
"Was it some sweet device ..." 4 309
"Methinks how dainty sweet ..." 5 311
"Oh! I could laugh ..." 5 311
From Charles Lloyd's _Poems on the Death of Priscilla
The Grandame 6 312
Poems from Coleridge's _Poems_, 1797:--
"When last I roved ..." 8 315
"A timid grace ..." 8 315
"If from my lips ..." 9 315
"We were two pretty babes ..." 9 315
Childhood 9 315
The Sabbath Bells 10 316
Fancy Employed on Divine Subjects 10 316
The Tomb of Douglas 11 316
To Charles Lloyd 12 316
A Vision of Repentance 13 317
Poems Written in the Years 1795-98, and not Reprinted by
"The Lord of Life ..." 16 317
To the Poet Cowper 16 317
Lines addressed to Sara and S.T.C. 17 318
Sonnet to a Friend 18 318
To a Young Lady 18 319
Living Without God in the World 19 319
Poems from _Blank Verse_, by Charles Lloyd and Charles
To Charles Lloyd 21 320
Written on the Day of My Aunt's Funeral 21 320
Written a Year After the Events 22 321
Written Soon After the Preceding Poem 24 322
Written on Christmas Day, 1797 25 322
The Old Familiar Faces 25 322
Composed at Midnight 26 323
Poems at the End of _John Woodvil_, 1802:--
Helen. By Mary Lamb 28 323
Ballad. From the German 29 324
Hypochondriacus 29 324
A Ballad Noting the Difference of Rich and Poor 30 324
Poems in Charles Lamb's _Works_, 1818, not Previously
Printed in the Present Volume:--
Hester 32 325
Dialogue Between a Mother and Child. By Mary Lamb 33 325
A Farewell to Tobacco 34 325
To T.L.H. 38 326
Salome. By Mary Lamb 39 ---
Lines Suggested by a Picture of Two Females by
Lionardo da Vinci. By Mary Lamb 41 327
Lines on the Same Picture being Removed. By Mary Lamb 41 327
Lines on the Celebrated Picture by Lionardo da Vinci,
called "The Virgin of the Rocks" 42 327
On the Same. By Mary Lamb 42 327
To Miss Kelly 43 328
On the Sight of Swans in Kensington Garden 43 328
The Family Name 44 328
To John Lamb, Esq 44 329
To Martin Charles Burney, Esq 45 329
_Album Verses_, 1830:--
In the Album of a Clergyman's Lady 46 332
In the Autograph Book of Mrs. Sergeant W---- 46 332
In the Album of Lucy Barton 47 332
In the Album of Miss ---- 48 332
In the Album of a very Young Lady 48 332
In the Album of a French Teacher 49 332
In the Album of Miss Daubeny 49 333
In the Album of Mrs. Jane Towers 50 333
In My Own Album 50 333
Angel Help 51 333
The Christening 52 333
On an Infant Dying as Soon as Born 53 333
To Bernard Barton 55 334
The Young Catechist 56 334
She is Going 57 335
To a Young Friend 57 335
To the Same 58 335
Harmony in Unlikeness 58 336
Written at Cambridge 59 336
To a Celebrated Female Performer in the "Blind Boy" 59 336
Work 59 336
Leisure 60 336
To Samuel Rogers, Esq. 60 337
The Gipsy's Malison 61 337
To the Author of Poems Published under the Name
of Barry Cornwall 61 338
To R.S. Knowles, Esq. 62 338
To the Editor of the _Every-Day Book_ 63 338
To Caroline Maria Applebee 63 339
To Cecilia Catherine Lawton 64 339
Acrostic, to a Lady who Desired Me to Write Her
Epitaph 65 339
Another, to Her Youngest Daughter 65 339
Translations from the Latin of Vincent Bourne:--
On a Sepulchral Statue of an Infant Sleeping 66 340
The Rival Bells 66 340
Epitaph on a Dog 67 340
The Ballad Singers 67 340
To David Cook 69 340
On a Deaf and Dumb Artist 70 340
Newton's Principia 71 340
The House-keeper 71 340
The Female Orators 72 340
Pindaric Ode to the Tread Mill 72 341
Going or Gone 75 341
New Poems in _The Poetical Works of Charles Lamb_, 1836:--
In the Album of Edith S---- 78 343
To Dora W---- 78 343
In the Album of Rotha Q---- 79 344
In the Album of Catherine Orkney 79 ---
To T. Stothard, Esq. 80 344
To a Friend on His Marriage 80 344
The Self-Enchanted 81 344
To Louisa M----, whom I used to call "Monkey" 82 344
Cheap Gifts: a Sonnet 82 344
Free Thoughts on Several Eminent Composers 83 344
Miscellaneous Poems not collected by Lamb:--
Dramatic Fragment 85 345
Dick Strype; or, The Force of Habit 86 345
Two Epitaphs on a Young Lady 88 346
The Ape 89 346
In tabulam eximii pictoris B. Haydoni 90 347
Translation of Same 90 347
Sonnet to Miss Burney 91 347
To My Friend the Indicator 91 348
On seeing Mrs. K---- B----, aged upwards of eighty,
nurse an infant 92 348
To Emma, Learning Latin, and Desponding 93 349
Lines Addressed to Lieut. R.W.H. Hardy, R.N. 93 349
Lines for a Monument 94 349
To C. Aders, Esq. 94 349
Hercules Pacificatus 95 349
The Parting Speech of the Celestial Messenger
to the Poet 98 349
Existence, Considered in Itself, no Blessing 99 350
To Samuel Rogers, Esq. 100 350
To Clara N---- 101 350
The Sisters 101 350
Love Will Come 102 351
To Margaret W---- 102 351
Additional Album Verses and Acrostics:--
What is an Album? 104 351
The First Leaf of Spring 105 352
To Mrs. F---- 105 352
To M. L---- F---- 106 352
To Esther Field 106 352
To Mrs. Williams 107 352
To the Book 107 353
To S.F. 108 353
To R.Q. 108 353
To S.L. 109 353
To M.L. 109 353
An Acrostic Against Acrostics 109 353
On Being Asked to Write in Miss Westwood's Album 110 353
In Miss Westwood's Album. By Mary Lamb 110 353
Un Solitaire. To Sarah Lachlan 111 353
To S. T 111 354
To Mrs. Sarah Robinson 111 354
To Sarah 112 354
To Joseph Vale Asbury 112 354
To D.A. 113 354
To Louisa Morgan 113 354
To Sarah James of Beguildy 113 354
To Emma Button 114 354
Written upon the Cover of a Blotting Book 114 354
Political and Other Epigrams:--
To Sir James Mackintosh 115 357
Twelfth Night Characters:--
Mr. A---- 115 358
Messrs. C----g and F----e 115 358
Count Rumford 116 358
On a Late Empiric of "Balmy" Memory 116 358
"Princeps his rent ..." 116 359
"Ye Politicians, tell me, pray ..." 116 359
The Triumph of the Whale 116 359
Sonnet. St. Crispin to Mr. Gifford 118 360
The Godlike 118 360
The Three Graves 119 360
Sonnet to Mathew Wood, Esq. 119 361
On a Projected Journey 120 361
Song for the C-----n 120 362
The Unbeloved 120 362
On the Arrival in England of Lord Byron's Remains 121 362
Lines Suggested by a Sight of Waltham Cross 121 363
For the _Table Book_ 122 363
The Royal Wonders 122 363
"Brevis Esse Laboro" 122 363
Suum Cuique 123 363
On the Literary Gazette 123 365
On the Fast-Day 123 365
Nonsense Verses 123 365
On Wawd 124 366
Six Epitaphs 124 366
Time and Eternity 126 366
From the Latin 126 366
Satan in Search of a Wife 127 366
Part 1 128 ---
Part II 133 ---
Prologues and Epilogues:--
Epilogue to Godwin's Tragedy of "Antonio" 138 368
Prologue to Godwin's Tragedy of "Faulkener" 140 369
Epilogue to Henry Siddons' Farce, "Time's a Tell-Tale" 140 369
Prologue to Coleridge's Tragedy of "Remorse" 142 369
Epilogue to Kenney's Farce, "Debtor and Creditor" 143 371
Epilogue to an Amateur Performance of "Richard II." 145 371
Prologue to Sheridan Knowles' Comedy, "The Wife" 146 372
Epilogue to Sheridan Knowles' Comedy, "The Wife" 147 372
John Woodvil 149 372
The Witch 199 392
Mr. H------ 202 392
The Pawnbroker's Daughter 238 397
The Wife's Trial 273 ---
Poems in the Notes:--
Lines to Dorothy Wordsworth. By Mary Lamb 328
Lines on Lamb's Want of Ear. By Mary Lamb 345
A Lady's Sapphic. By Mary Lamb (?) 356
An English Sapphic. By Charles Lamb (?) 357
Two Epigrams. By Charles Lamb (?) 359
The Poetical Cask. By Charles Lamb (?) 363
INDEX OF FIRST LINES 409
CHARLES LAMB (AGE 23)
From the Drawing by Robert Hancock, now in the National Portrait
DEDICATION (1818) TO S.T. COLERIDGE, ESQ.
My Dear Coleridge,
You will smile to see the slender labors of your friend designated by
the title of _Works_; but such was the wish of the gentlemen who have
kindly undertaken the trouble of collecting them, and from their
judgment could be no appeal.
It would be a kind of disloyalty to offer to any one but yourself a
volume containing the _early pieces_, which were first published among
your poems, and were fairly derivatives from you and them. My friend
Lloyd and myself came into our first battle (authorship is a sort of
warfare) under cover of the greater Ajax. How this association, which
shall always be a dear and proud recollection to me, came to be broken,
--who snapped the three-fold cord,--whether yourself (but I know that
was not the case) grew ashamed of your former companions,--or whether
(which is by much the more probable) some ungracious bookseller was
author of the separation,--I cannot tell;--but wanting the support of
your friendly elm, (I speak for myself,) my vine has, since that time,
put forth few or no fruits; the sap (if ever it had any) has become, in
a manner, dried up and extinct; and you will find your old associate, in
his second volume, dwindled into prose and _criticism_.
Am I right in assuming this as the cause? or is it that, as years come
upon us, (except with some more healthy-happy spirits,) Life itself
loses much of its Poetry for us? we transcribe but what we read in the
great volume of Nature; and, as the characters grow dim, we turn off,
and look another way. You yourself write no Christabels, nor Ancient
Some of the Sonnets, which shall be carelessly turned over by the
general reader, may happily awaken in you remembrances, which I should
be sorry should be ever totally extinct--the memory
Of summer days and of delightful years--
even so far back as to those old suppers at our old ****** Inn,--when life
was fresh, and topics exhaustless,--and you first kindled in me, if not
the power, yet the love of poetry, and beauty, and kindliness.--
What words have I heard
Spoke at the Mermaid!
The world has given you many a shrewd nip and gird since that time, but
either my eyes are grown dimmer, or my old friend is the _same_, who
stood before me three and twenty years ago--his hair a little confessing
the hand of time, but still shrouding the same capacious brain,--his
heart not altered, scarcely where it "alteration finds."
One piece, Coleridge, I have ventured to publish in its original form,
though I have heard you complain of a certain over-imitation of the
antique in the style. If I could see any way of getting rid of the
objection, without re-writing it entirely, I would make some sacrifices.
But when I wrote John Woodvil, I never proposed to myself any distinct
deviation from common English. I had been newly initiated in the
writings of our elder dramatists; Beaumont and Fletcher, and Massinger,
were then a _first love_; and from what I was so freshly conversant in,
what wonder if my language imperceptibly took a tinge? The very _time_,
which I have chosen for my story, that which immediately followed the
Restoration, seemed to require, in an English play, that the English
should be of rather an older cast, than that of the precise year in
which it happened to be written. I wish it had not some faults, which I
can less vindicate than the language.
My dear Coleridge,
With unabated esteem,
LAMB'S EARLIEST POEM
MILLE VIAE MORTIS
What time in bands of slumber all were laid,
To Death's dark court, methought I was convey'd;
In realms it lay far hid from mortal sight,
And gloomy tapers scarce kept out the night.
On ebon throne the King of Terrors sate;
Around him stood the ministers of Fate;
On fell destruction bent, the murth'rous band
Waited attentively his high command.
Here pallid Fear & dark Despair were seen.
And Fever here with looks forever lean,
Swoln Dropsy, halting Gout, profuse of woes,
And Madness fierce & hopeless of repose,
Wide-wasting Plague; but chief in honour stood
More-wasting War, insatiable of blood;
With starting eye-balls, eager for the word;
Already brandish'd was the glitt'ring sword.
Wonder and fear alike had fill'd my breast,
And thus the grisly Monarch I addrest--
"Of earth-born Heroes why should Poets sing,
And thee neglect, neglect the greatest King?
To thee ev'n Caesar's self was forc'd to yield
The glories of Pharsalia's well-fought field."
When, with a frown, "Vile caitiff, come not here,"
Abrupt cried Death; "shall flatt'ry soothe my ear?"
"Hence, or thou feel'st my dart!" the Monarch said.
Wild terror seiz'd me, & the vision fled.
POEMS IN COLERIDGE'S POEMS ON
VARIOUS SUBJECTS, 1796
(_Written late in 1794. Text of 1797_)
As when a child on some long winter's night
Affrighted clinging to its Grandam's knees
With eager wond'ring and perturb'd delight
Listens strange tales of fearful dark decrees
Mutter'd to wretch by necromantic spell;
Or of those hags, who at the witching time
Of murky midnight ride the air sublime,
And mingle foul embrace with fiends of Hell:
Cold Horror drinks its blood! Anon the tear
More gentle starts, to hear the Beldame tell
Of pretty babes, that lov'd each other dear,
Murder'd by cruel Uncle's mandate fell:
Ev'n such the shiv'ring joys thy tones impart,
Ev'n so thou, SIDDONS! meltest my sad heart!
(_Probably 1795. Text of 1818_)
Was it some sweet device of Faery
That mocked my steps with many a lonely glade,
And fancied wanderings with a fair-hair'd maid?
Have these things been? or what rare witchery,
Impregning with delights the charmed air,
Enlighted up the semblance of a smile
In those fine eyes? methought they spake the while
Soft soothing things, which might enforce despair
To drop the murdering knife, and let go by
His foul resolve. And does the lonely glade
Still court the foot-steps of the fair-hair'd maid?
Still in her locks the gales of summer sigh?
While I forlorn do wander reckless where,
And 'mid my wanderings meet no Anna there.
(_Probably_ 1795. _Text of_ 1818)
Methinks how dainty sweet it were, reclin'd
Beneath the vast out-stretching branches high
Of some old wood, in careless sort to lie,
Nor of the busier scenes we left behind
Aught envying. And, O Anna! mild-eyed maid!
Beloved! I were well content to play
With thy free tresses all a summer's day,
Losing the time beneath the greenwood shade.
Or we might sit and tell some tender tale
Of faithful vows repaid by cruel scorn,
A tale of true love, or of friend forgot;
And I would teach thee, lady, how to rail
In gentle sort, on those who practise not
Or love or pity, though of woman born.
(1794. _Text of_ 1818)
O! I could laugh to hear the midnight wind,
That, rushing on its way with careless sweep,
Scatters the ocean waves. And I could weep
Like to a child. For now to my raised mind
On wings of winds comes wild-eyed Phantasy,
And her rude visions give severe delight.
O winged bark! how swift along the night
Pass'd thy proud keel! nor shall I let go by
Lightly of that drear hour the memory,
When wet and chilly on thy deck I stood,
Unbonnetted, and gazed upon the flood,
Even till it seemed a pleasant thing to die,--
To be resolv'd into th' elemental wave,
Or take my portion with the winds that rave.
FROM CHARLES LLOYD'S POEMS ON THE DEATH OF PRISCILLA FARMER, 1796
(Summer, 1796. Text of 1818)
On the green hill top,
Hard by the house of prayer, a modest roof,
And not distinguish'd from its neighbour-barn,
Save by a slender-tapering length of spire,
The Grandame sleeps. A plain stone barely tells
The name and date to the chance passenger.
For lowly born was she, and long had eat,
Well-earned, the bread of service:--her's was else
A mounting spirit, one that entertained
Scorn of base action, deed dishonorable,
Or aught unseemly. I remember well
Her reverend image: I remember, too,
With what a zeal she served her master's house;
And how the prattling tongue of garrulous age
Delighted to recount the oft-told tale
Or anecdote domestic. Wise she was,
And wondrous skilled in genealogies,
And could in apt and voluble terms discourse
Of births, of titles, and alliances;
Of marriages, and intermarriages;
Relationship remote, or near of kin;
Of friends offended, family disgraced--
Maiden high-born, but wayward, disobeying
Parental strict injunction, and regardless
Of unmixed blood, and ancestry remote,
Stooping to wed with one of low degree.
But these are not thy praises; and I wrong
Thy honor'd memory, recording chiefly
Things light or trivial. Better 'twere to tell,
How with a nobler zeal, and warmer love,
She served her _heavenly master_. I have seen
That reverend form bent down with age and pain
And rankling malady. Yet not for this
Ceased she to praise her maker, or withdrew
Her trust in him, her faith, and humble hope--
So meekly had she learn'd to bear her cross--
For she had studied patience in the school
Of Christ, much comfort she had thence derived,
And was a follower of the NAZARENE.
POEMS FROM COLERIDGE'S _POEMS_, 1797
(_Summer_, 1795. _Text of_ 1818)
When last I roved these winding wood-walks green,
Green winding walks, and shady pathways sweet,
Oft-times would Anna seek the silent scene,
Shrouding her beauties in the lone retreat.
No more I hear her footsteps in the shade:
Her image only in these pleasant ways
Meets me self-wandering, where in happier days
I held free converse with the fair-hair'd maid.
I passed the little cottage which she loved,
The cottage which did once my all contain;
It spake of days which ne'er must come again,
Spake to my heart, and much my heart was moved.
"Now fair befall thee, gentle maid!" said I,
And from the cottage turned me with a sigh.
(1795 _or_ 1796. _Text of_ 1818)
A timid grace sits trembling in her eye,
As both to meet the rudeness of men's sight,
Yet shedding a delicious lunar light,
That steeps in kind oblivious ecstasy
The care-crazed mind, like some still melody:
Speaking most plain the thoughts which do possess
Her gentle sprite: peace, and meek quietness,
And innocent loves, and maiden purity:
A look whereof might heal the cruel smart
Of changed friends, or fortune's wrongs unkind;
Might to sweet deeds of mercy move the heart
Of him who hates his brethren of mankind.
Turned are those lights from me, who fondly yet
Past joys, vain loves, and buried hopes regret.
(_End of 1795. Text of 1818_)
If from my lips some angry accents fell,
Peevish complaint, or harsh reproof unkind,
'Twas but the error of a sickly mind
And troubled thoughts, clouding the purer well,
And waters clear, of Reason; and for me
Let this my verse the poor atonement be--
My verse, which thou to praise wert ever inclined
Too highly, and with a partial eye to see
No blemish. Thou to me didst ever shew
Kindest affection; and would oft-times lend
An ear to the desponding love-sick lay,
Weeping my sorrows with me, who repay
But ill the mighty debt of love I owe,
Mary, to thee, my sister and my friend.
(_1795. Text of 1818_)
We were two pretty babes, the youngest she,
The youngest, and the loveliest far, I ween,
And INNOCENCE her name. The time has been,
We two did love each other's company;
Time was, we two had wept to have been apart.
But when by show of seeming good beguil'd,
I left the garb and manners of a child,
And my first love for man's society,
Defiling with the world my virgin heart--
My loved companion dropped a tear, and fled,
And hid in deepest shades her awful head.
Beloved, who shall tell me where thou art--
In what delicious Eden to be found--
That I may seek thee the wide world around?
(_Summer, 1796. Text of 1818_)
In my poor mind it is most sweet to muse
Upon the days gone by; to act in thought
Past seasons o'er, and be again a child;
To sit in fancy on the turf-clad slope,
Down which the child would roll; to pluck gay flowers,
Make posies in the sun, which the child's hand,
(Childhood offended soon, soon reconciled,)
Would throw away, and strait take up again,
Then fling them to the winds, and o'er the lawn
Bound with so playful and so light a foot,
That the press'd daisy scarce declined her head.
THE SABBATH BELLS
(_Summer, 1796. Text of 1818_)
The cheerful sabbath bells, wherever heard,
Strike pleasant on the sense, most like the voice
Of one, who from the far-off hills proclaims
Tidings of good to Zion: chiefly when
Their piercing tones fall _sudden_ on the ear
Of the contemplant, solitary man,
Whom thoughts abstruse or high have chanced to lure
Forth from the walks of men, revolving oft,
And oft again, hard matter, which eludes
And baffles his pursuit--thought-sick and tired
Of controversy, where no end appears,
No clue to his research, the lonely man
Half wishes for society again.
Him, thus engaged, the sabbath bells salute
_Sudden!_ his heart awakes, his ears drink in
The cheering music; his relenting soul
Yearns after all the joys of social life,
And softens with the love of human kind.
FANCY EMPLOYED ON DIVINE SUBJECTS
(_Summer, 1796. Text of 1818_)
The truant Fancy was a wanderer ever,
A lone enthusiast maid. She loves to walk
In the bright visions of empyreal light,
By the green pastures, and the fragrant meads,
Where the perpetual flowers of Eden blow;
By chrystal streams, and by the living waters,
Along whose margin grows the wondrous tree
Whose leaves shall heal the nations; underneath
Whose holy shade a refuge shall be found
From pain and want, and all the ills that wait
On mortal life, from sin and death for ever.
THE TOMB OF DOUGLAS
_See the Tragedy of that Name_
When her son, her Douglas died,
To the steep rock's fearful side
Fast the frantic Mother hied--
O'er her blooming warrior dead
Many a tear did Scotland shed,
And shrieks of long and loud lament
From her Grampian hills she sent.
Like one awakening from a trance,
She met the shock of Lochlin's lance;
On her rude invader foe
Return'd an hundred fold the blow,
Drove the taunting spoiler home;
Mournful thence she took her way
To do observance at the tomb
Where the son of Douglas lay.
Round about the tomb did go
In solemn state and order slow,
Silent pace, and black attire,
Earl, or Knight, or good Esquire;
Whoe'er by deeds of valour done
In battle had high honours won;
Whoe'er in their pure veins could trace
The blood of Douglas' noble race.
With them the flower of minstrels came,
And to their cunning harps did frame
In doleful numbers piercing rhymes,
Such strains as in the older times
Had sooth'd the spirit of Fingal,
Echoing thro' his father's hall.
"Scottish maidens, drop a tear
O'er the beauteous Hero's bier!
Brave youth, and comely 'bove compare,
All golden shone his burnish'd hair;
Valour and smiling courtesy
Play'd in the sun-beams of his eye.
Clos'd are those eyes that shone so fair,
And stain'd with blood his yellow hair.
Scottish maidens, drop a tear
O'er the beauteous Hero's bier!"
"Not a tear, I charge you, shed
For the false Glenalvon dead;
Unpitied let Glenalvon lie,
Foul stain to arms and chivalry!"
"Behind his back the traitor came,
And Douglas died without his fame.
Young light of Scotland early spent,
Thy country thee shall long lament;
And oft to after-times shall tell,
In Hope's sweet prime my Hero fell."
[Footnote 1: Denmark.]
TO CHARLES LLOYD
_An Unexpected Visitor_
(_January, 1797. Text of 1818_)
Alone, obscure, without a friend,
A cheerless, solitary thing,
Why seeks, my Lloyd, the stranger out?
What offering can the stranger bring
Of social scenes, home-bred delights,
That him in aught compensate may
For Stowey's pleasant winter nights,
For loves and friendships far away?
In brief oblivion to forego
Friends, such as thine, so justly dear,
And be awhile with me content
To stay, a kindly loiterer, here:
For this a gleam of random joy
Hath flush'd my unaccustom'd cheek;
And, with an o'er-charg'd bursting heart,
I feel the thanks I cannot speak.
Oh! sweet are all the Muses' lays,
And sweet the charm of matin bird;
'Twas long since these estranged ears
The sweeter voice of friend had heard.
The voice hath spoke: the pleasant sounds
In memory's ear in after time
Shall live, to sometimes rouse a tear,
And sometimes prompt an honest rhyme.
For, when the transient charm is fled,
And when the little week is o'er,
To cheerless, friendless, solitude
When I return, as heretofore,
Long, long, within my aching heart
The grateful sense shall cherish'd be;
I'll think less meanly of myself,
That Lloyd will sometimes think on me.
A VISION OF REPENTANCE
(_1796? Text of 1818_)
I saw a famous fountain, in my dream,
Where shady path-ways to a valley led;
A weeping willow lay upon that stream,
And all around the fountain brink were spread
Wide branching trees, with dark green leaf rich clad,
Forming a doubtful twilight-desolate and sad.
The place was such, that whoso enter'd in
Disrobed was of every earthly thought,
And straight became as one that knew not sin,
Or to the world's first innocence was brought;
Enseem'd it now, he stood on holy ground,
In sweet and tender melancholy wrapt around.
A most strange calm stole o'er my soothed sprite;
Long time I stood, and longer had I staid,
When, lo! I saw, saw by the sweet moon-light,
Which came in silence o'er that silent shade,
Where, near the fountain, SOMETHING like DESPAIR
Made, of that weeping willow, garlands for her hair.
And eke with painful fingers she inwove
Many an uncouth stem of savage thorn--
"The willow garland, _that_ was for her love,
And _these_ her bleeding temples would adorn."
With sighs her heart nigh burst, salt tears fast fell,
As mournfully she bended o'er that sacred well.
To whom when I addrest myself to speak,
She lifted up her eyes, and nothing said;
The delicate red came mantling o'er her cheek,
And, gath'ring up her loose attire, she fled
To the dark covert of that woody shade,
And in her goings seem'd a timid gentle maid.
Revolving in my mind what this should mean,
And why that lovely lady plained so;
Perplex'd in thought at that mysterious scene,
And doubting if 'twere best to stay or go,
I cast mine eyes in wistful gaze around,
When from the shades came slow a small and plaintive sound:
"PSYCHE am I, who love to dwell
In these brown shades, this woody dell,
Where never busy mortal came,
Till now, to pry upon my shame.
"At thy feet what thou dost see
The waters of repentance be,
Which, night and day, I must augment
With tears, like a true penitent,
"If haply so my day of grace
Be not yet past; and this lone place,
O'er-shadowy, dark, excludeth hence
All thoughts but grief and penitence."
_"Why dost thou weep, thou gentle maid!
And wherefore in this barren shade
Thy hidden thoughts with sorrow feed?
Can thing so fair repentance need?"_
"O! I have done a deed of shame,
And tainted is my virgin fame,
And stain'd the beauteous maiden white,
In which my bridal robes were dight."
"_And who the promised spouse, declare:
And what those bridal garments were._"
"Severe and saintly righteousness
Compos'd the clear white bridal dress;
JESUS, the son of Heaven's high king,
Bought with his blood the marriage ring.
"A wretched sinful creature, I
Deem'd lightly of that sacred tie,
Gave to a treacherous WORLD my heart,
And play'd the foolish wanton's part.
"Soon to these murky shades I came,
To hide from the sun's light my shame.
And still I haunt this woody dell,
And bathe me in that healing well,
Whose waters clear have influence
From sin's foul stains the soul to cleanse;
And, night and day, I them augment
With tears, like a true penitent,
Until, due expiation made,
And fit atonement fully paid,
The lord and bridegroom me present,
Where in sweet strains of high consent,
God's throne before, the Seraphim
Shall chaunt the extatic marriage hymn."
"Now Christ restore thee soon "--I said,
And thenceforth all my dream was fled.
POEMS WRITTEN IN THE YEARS 1795-98,
AND NOT REPRINTED BY LAMB
The Lord of Life shakes off his drowsihed,
And 'gins to sprinkle on the earth below
Those rays that from his shaken locks do flow;
Meantime, by truant love of rambling led,
I turn my back on thy detested walls,
Proud City! and thy sons I leave behind,
A sordid, selfish, money-getting kind;
Brute things, who shut their ears when Freedom calls.
I pass not thee so lightly, well-known spire,
That minded me of many a pleasure gone,
Of merrier days, of love and Islington;
Kindling afresh the flames of past desire.
And I shall muse on thee, slow journeying on
To the green plains of pleasant Hertfordshire.
TO THE POET COWPER
_On his Recovery from an Indisposition.
Written some Time Back
Cowper, I thank my God, that thou art heal'd.
Thine was the sorest malady of all;
And I am sad to think that it should light
Upon the worthy head: but thou art heal'd,
And thou art yet, we trust, the destin'd man,
Born to re-animate the lyre, whose chords
Have slumber'd, and have idle lain so long;
To th' immortal sounding of whose strings
Did Milton frame the stately-paced verse;
Among whose wires with lighter finger playing
Our elder bard, Spencer, a gentler name,
The lady Muses' dearest darling child,
Enticed forth the deftest tunes yet heard
In hall or bower; taking the delicate ear
Of the brave Sidney, and the Maiden Queen.
Thou, then, take up the mighty epic strain,
Cowper, of England's bards the wisest and the best!
_December 1, 1796._
_Addressed, from London, to Sara and S.T.C. at Bristol,
in the Summer of 1796._
Was it so hard a thing? I did but ask
A fleeting holiday, a little week.
What, if the jaded steer, who, all day long,
Had borne the heat and burthen of the plough,
When ev'ning came, and her sweet cooling hour,
Should seek to wander in a neighbour copse,
Where greener herbage wav'd, or clearer streams
Invited him to slake his burning thirst?
The man were crabbed who should say him nay;
The man were churlish who should drive him thence.
A blessing light upon your worthy heads,
Ye hospitable pair! I may not come
To catch, on Clifden's heights, the summer gale;
I may not come to taste the Avon wave;
Or, with mine eye intent on Redcliffe tow'rs,
To muse in tears on that mysterious youth,
Cruelly slighted, who, in evil hour,
Shap'd his advent'rous course to London walls!
Complaint, be gone! and, ominous thoughts, away!
Take up, my Song, take up a merrier strain;
For yet again, and lo! from Avon's vales,
Another Minstrel cometh. Youth endear'd,
God and good Angels guide thee on thy road,
And gentler fortunes 'wait the friends I love!
[Footnote 2: "From vales where Avon winds, the Minstrel came."
COLERIDGE'S _Monody on Chatterton._]
SONNET TO A FRIEND
_(End of 1796)_
Friend of my earliest years and childish days,
My joys, my sorrows, thou with me hast shar'd
Companion dear, and we alike have far'd
(Poor pilgrims we) thro' life's unequal ways.
It were unwisely done, should we refuse
To cheer our path as featly as we may,
Our lonely path to cheer, as trav'llers use,
With merry song, quaint tale, or roundelay;
And we will sometimes talk past troubles o'er,
Of mercies shewn, and all our sickness heal'd,
And in his judgments God rememb'ring love;
And we will learn to praise God evermore,
For those glad tidings of great joy reveal'd
By that sooth Messenger sent from above.
TO A YOUNG LADY
Hard is the heart that does not melt with ruth,
When care sits, cloudy, on the brow of youth;
When bitter griefs the female bosom swell,
And Beauty meditates a fond farewell
To her lov'd native land, prepar'd to roam,
And seek in climes afar the peace denied at home.
The Muse, with glance prophetic, sees her stand
(Forsaken, silent lady) on the strand
Of farthest India, sick'ning at the roar
Of each dull wave, slow dash'd upon the shore;
Sending, at intervals, an aching eye
O'er the wide waters, vainly, to espy
The long-expected bark, in which to find
Some tidings of a world she left behind.
At such a time shall start the gushing tear,
For scenes her childhood lov'd, now doubly dear.
At such a time shall frantic mem'ry wake
Pangs of remorse, for slighted England's sake;
And for the sake of many a tender tie
Of love, or friendship, pass'd too lightly by.
Unwept, unhonour'd, 'midst an alien race,
And the _cold_ looks of many a _stranger_ face,
How will her poor heart bleed, and chide the day,
That from her country took her far away.
LIVING WITHOUT GOD IN THE WORLD
Mystery of God! thou brave and beauteous world,
Made fair with light and shade and stars and flowers,
Made fearful and august with woods and rocks,
Jagg'd precipice, black mountain, sea in storms,
Sun, over all, that no co-rival owns,
But thro' Heaven's pavement rides as in despite
Or mockery of the littleness of man!
I see a mighty arm, by man unseen,
Resistless, not to be controul'd, that guides,
In solitude of unshared energies,
All these thy ceaseless miracles, O world!
Arm of the world, I view thee, and I muse
On Man, who, trusting in his mortal strength,
Leans on a shadowy staff, a staff of dreams.
We consecrate our total hopes and fears
To idols, flesh and blood, our love, (heaven's due)
Our praise and admiration; praise bestowed
By man on man, and acts of worship done
To a kindred nature, certes do reflect
Some portion of the glory and rays oblique
Upon the politic worshipper,--so man
Extracts a pride from his humility.
Some braver spirits of the modern stamp
Affect a Godhead nearer: these talk loud
Of mind, and independent intellect,
Of energies omnipotent in man,
And man of his own fate artificer;
Yea of his own life Lord, and of the days
Of his abode on earth, when time shall be,
That life immortal shall become an art,
Or Death, by chymic practices deceived,
Forego the scent, which for six thousand years
Like a good hound he has followed, or at length
More manners learning, and a decent sense
And reverence of a philosophic world,
Relent, and leave to prey on carcasses.
But these are fancies of a few: the rest,
Atheists, or Deists only in the name,
By word or deed deny a God. They eat
Their daily bread, and draw the breath of heaven
Without or thought or thanks; heaven's roof to them
Is but a painted ceiling hung with lamps,
No more, that lights them to their purposes.
They wander "loose about," they nothing see,
Themselves except, and creatures like themselves,
Short-liv'd, short-sighted, impotent to save.
So on their dissolute spirits, soon or late,
Destruction cometh "like an armed man,"
Or like a dream of murder in the night,
Withering their mortal faculties, and breaking
The bones of all their pride.
POEMS FROM _BLANK VERSE_, BY
CHARLES LLOYD AND CHARLES LAMB, 1798
TO CHARLES LLOYD
A stranger, and alone, I past those scenes
We past so late together; and my heart
Felt something like desertion, when I look'd
Around me, and the well-known voice of friend
Was absent, and the cordial look was there
No more to smile on me. I thought on Lloyd;
All he had been to me. And now I go
Again to mingle with a world impure,
With men who make a mock of holy things
Mistaken, and of man's best hope think scorn.
The world does much to warp the heart of man,
And I may sometimes join its ideot laugh.
Of this I now complain not. Deal with me,
Omniscient Father! as thou judgest best,
And in thy season _tender_ thou my heart.
I pray not for myself; I pray for him
Whose soul is sore perplex'd: shine thou on him,
Father of Lights! and in the difficult paths
Make plain his way before him. His own thoughts
May he not think, his own ends not pursue;
So shall he best perform thy will on earth.
Greatest and Best, thy will be ever ours!
WRITTEN ON THE DAY OF MY AUNT'S FUNERAL
Thou too art dead, ----! very kind
Hast thou been to me in my childish days,
Thou best good creature. I have not forgot
How thou didst love thy Charles, when he was yet
A prating schoolboy: I have not forgot
The busy joy on that important day,
When, child-like, the poor wanderer was content
To leave the bosom of parental love,
His childhood's play-place, and his early home,
For the rude fosterings of a stranger's hand,
Hard uncouth tasks, and school-boy's scanty fare.
How did thine eye peruse him round and round,
And hardly know him in his yellow coats,
Red leathern belt, and gown of russet blue!
Farewell, good aunt!
Go thou, and occupy the same grave-bed
Where the dead mother lies.
Oh my dear mother, oh thou dear dead saint!
Where's now that placid face, where oft hath sat
A mother's smile, to think her son should thrive
In this bad world, when she was dead and gone;
And when a tear hath sat (take shame, O son!)
When that same child has prov'd himself unkind.
One parent yet is left--a wretched thing,
A sad survivor of his buried wife,
A palsy-smitten, childish, old, old man,
A semblance most forlorn of what he was,
A merry cheerful man. A merrier man,
A man more apt to frame matter for mirth,
Mad jokes, and anticks for a Christmas eve;
Making life social, and the laggard time
To move on nimbly, never yet did cheer
The little circle of domestic friends.
[Footnote 3: The dress of Christ's Hospital,]
WRITTEN A YEAR AFTER THE EVENTS
Alas! how am I chang'd! Where be the tears,
The sobs, and forc'd suspensions of the breath,
And all the dull desertions of the heart,
With which I hung o'er my dead mother's corse?
Where be the blest subsidings of the storm
Within, the sweet resignedness of hope
Drawn heavenward, and strength of filial love
In which I bow'd me to my father's will?
My God, and my Redeemer! keep not thou
My soul in brute and sensual thanklessness
Seal'd up; oblivious ever of that dear grace,
And health restor'd to my long-loved friend,
Long-lov'd, and worthy known. Thou didst not leave
Her soul in death! O leave not now, my Lord,
Thy servants in far worse, in spiritual death!
And darkness blacker than those feared shadows
Of the valley all must tread. Lend us thy balms,
Thou dear Physician of the sin-sick soul,
And heal our cleansed bosoms of the wounds
With which the world has pierc'd us thro' and thro'.
Give us new flesh, new birth. Elect of heav'n
May we become; in thine election sure
Contain'd, and to one purpose stedfast drawn,
Our soul's salvation!
Thou, and I, dear friend,
With filial recognition sweet, shall know
One day the face of our dear mother in heaven;
And her remember'd looks of love shall greet
With looks of answering love; her placid smiles
Meet with a smile as placid, and her hand
With drops of fondness wet, nor fear repulse.
Be witness for me, Lord, I do not ask
Those days of vanity to return again
(Nor fitting me to ask, nor thee to give),
Vain loves and wanderings with a fair-hair'd maid,
Child of the dust as I am, who so long
My captive heart steep'd in idolatry
And creature-loves. Forgive me, O my Maker!
If in a mood of grief I sin almost
In sometimes brooding on the days long past,
And from the grave of time wishing them back,
Days of a mother's fondness to her child,
Her little one.
O where be now those sports,
And infant play-games? where the joyous troops
Of children, and the haunts I did so love?
O my companions, O ye loved names
Of friend or playmate dear; gone are ye now;
Gone diverse ways; to honour and credit some,
And some, I fear, to ignominy and shame!
I only am left, with unavailing grief
To mourn one parent dead, and see one live
Of all life's joys bereft and desolate:
Am left with a few friends, and one, above
The rest, found faithful in a length of years,
Contented as I may, to bear me on
To the not unpeaceful evening of a day
Made black by morning storms!
WRITTEN SOON AFTER THE PRECEDING POEM
Thou should'st have longer liv'd, and to the grave
Have peacefully gone down in full old age!
Thy children would have tended thy gray hairs.
We might have sat, as we have often done,
By our fireside, and talk'd whole nights away,
Old times, old friends, and old events recalling;
With many a circumstance, of trivial note,
To memory dear, and of importance grown.
How shall we tell them in a stranger's ear?
A wayward son ofttimes was I to thee;
And yet, in all our little bickerings,
Domestic jars, there was, I know not what,
Of tender feeling, that were ill exchang'd
For this world's chilling friendships, and their smiles
Familiar, whom the heart calls strangers still.
A heavy lot hath he, most wretched man!
Who lives the last of all his family.
He looks around him, and his eye discerns
The face of the stranger, and his heart is sick.
Man of the world, what canst thou do for him?
Wealth is a burden, which he could not bear;
Mirth a strange crime, the which he dares not act;
And wine no cordial, but a bitter cup.
For wounds like his Christ is the only cure,
And gospel promises are his by right,
For these were given to the poor in heart.
Go, preach thou to him of a world to come,
Where friends shall meet, and know each other's face.
Say less than this, and say it to the winds.
WRITTEN ON CHRISTMAS DAY, 1797
I am a widow'd thing, now thou art gone!
Now thou art gone, my own familiar friend,
Companion, sister, help-mate, counsellor!
Alas! that honour'd mind, whose sweet reproof
And meekest wisdom in times past have smooth'd
The unfilial harshness of my foolish speech,
And made me loving to my parents old,
(Why is this so, ah God! why is this so?)
That honour'd mind become a fearful blank,
Her senses lock'd up, and herself kept out
From human sight or converse, while so many
Of the foolish sort are left to roam at large,
Doing all acts of folly, and sin, and shame?
Thy paths are mystery!
Yet I will not think,
Sweet friend, but we shall one day meet, and live
In quietness, and die so, fearing God.
Or if _not_, and these false suggestions be
A fit of the weak nature, loth to part
With what it lov'd so long, and held so dear;
If thou art to be taken, and I left
(More sinning, yet unpunish'd, save in thee),
It is the will of God, and we are clay
In the potter's hands; and, at the worst, are made
From absolute nothing, vessels of disgrace,
Till, his most righteous purpose wrought in us,
Our purified spirits find their perfect rest.
THE OLD FAMILIAR FACES
(_January_, 1798. _Text of_ 1818)
I have had playmates, I have had companions,
In my days of childhood, in my joyful school-days,
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.
I have been laughing, I have been carousing,
Drinking late, sitting late, with my bosom cronies,
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.
I loved a love once, fairest among women;
Closed are her doors on me, I must not see her--
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.
I have a friend, a kinder friend has no man;
Like an ingrate, I left my friend abruptly;
Left him, to muse on the old familiar faces.
Ghost-like, I paced round the haunts of my childhood.
Earth seemed a desart I was bound to traverse,
Seeking to find the old familiar faces.
Friend of my bosom, thou more than a brother,
Why wert not thou born in my father's dwelling?
So might we talk of the old familiar faces--
How some they have died, and some they have left me,
And some are taken from me; all are departed;
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.
COMPOSED AT MIDNIGHT
(1797? _Text of_ 1818)
From broken visions of perturbed rest
I wake, and start, and fear to sleep again.
How total a privation of all sounds,
Sights, and familiar objects, man, bird, beast,
Herb, tree, or flower, and prodigal light of heaven.
'Twere some relief to catch the drowsy cry
Of the mechanic watchman, or the noise
Of revel reeling home from midnight cups.
Those are the moanings of the dying man,
Who lies in the upper chamber; restless moans,
And interrupted only by a cough
Consumptive, torturing the wasted lungs.
So in the bitterness of death he lies,
And waits in anguish for the morning's light.
What can that do for him, or what restore?
Short taste, faint sense, affecting notices,
And little images of pleasures past,
Of health, and active life--health not yet slain,
Nor the other grace of life, a good name, sold
For sin's black wages. On his tedious bed
He writhes, and turns him from the accusing light,
And finds no comfort in the sun, but says
"When night comes I shall get a little rest."
Some few groans more, death comes, and there an end.
'Tis darkness and conjecture all beyond;
Weak Nature fears, though Charity must hope,
And Fancy, most licentious on such themes
Where decent reverence well had kept her mute,
Hath o'er-stock'd hell with devils, and brought down,
By her enormous fablings and mad lies,
Discredit on the gospel's serious truths
And salutary fears. The man of parts,
Poet, or prose declaimer, on his couch
Lolling, like one indifferent, fabricates
A heaven of gold, where he, and such as he,
Their heads encompassed with crowns, their heels
With fine wings garlanded, shall tread the stars
Beneath their feet, heaven's pavement, far removed
From damned spirits, and the torturing cries
Of men, his breth'ren, fashioned of the earth,
As he was, nourish'd with the self-same bread,
Belike his kindred or companions once--
Through everlasting ages now divorced,
In chains and savage torments to repent
Short years of folly on earth. Their groans unheard
In heav'n, the saint nor pity feels, nor care,
For those thus sentenced--pity might disturb
The delicate sense and most divine repose
Of spirits angelical. Blessed be God,
The measure of his judgments is not fixed
By man's erroneous standard. He discerns
No such inordinate difference and vast
Betwixt the sinner and the saint, to doom
Such disproportion'd fates. Compared with him,
No man on earth is holy called: they best
Stand in his sight approved, who at his feet
Their little crowns of virtue cast, and yield
To him of his own works the praise, his due.
Poems at the End of _John Woodvil_,
_By Mary Lamb_
(_Summer_, 1800. _Text of_ 1818)
High-born Helen, round your dwelling
These twenty years I've paced in vain:
Haughty beauty, thy lover's duty
Hath been to glory in his pain.
High-born Helen, plainly telling
Stories of thy cold disdain;
I starve, I die, now you comply,
And I no longer can complain.
These twenty years I've lived on tears.
Dwelling for ever on a frown;
On sighs I've fed, your scorn my bread;
I perish now you kind are grown.
Can I, who loved my beloved
But for the scorn "was in her eye,"
Can I be moved for my beloved,
When she "returns me sigh for sigh?"
In stately pride, by my bed-side,
High-born Helen's portrait's hung;
Deaf to my praise, my mournful lays
Are nightly to the portrait sung.
To that I weep, nor ever sleep,
Complaining all night long to her--
_Helen, grown old, no longer cold_,
_Said_, "you to all men I prefer."
_From the German_
(_Spring, 1800. Text of 1818_)
The clouds are blackening, the storms threatening,
And ever the forest maketh a moan:
Billows are breaking, the damsel's heart aching,
Thus by herself she singeth alone,
Weeping right plenteously.
"The world is empty, the heart is dead surely,
In this world plainly all seemeth amiss:
To thy breast, holy one, take now thy little one,
I have had earnest of all earth's bliss,
Living right lovingly."
(_October, 1800. Text of 1818_)
By myself walking,
To myself talking,
When as I ruminate
On my untoward fate,
Scarcely seem I
Black thoughts continually
Crowding my privacy;
They come unbidden,
Like foes at a wedding,
Thrusting their faces
In better guests' places,
Peevish and malecontent,
Dashing the merriment:
So in like fashions
Follow and haunt me,
Striving to daunt me.
In my heart festering,
In my ears whispering,
"Thy friends are treacherous,
Thy foes are dangerous,
Thy dreams ominous."
What scared St. Anthony,
Dreams of Antipodes,
Troubling the fantasy,
All dire illusions
Abaddon vexeth me,
Mahu perplexeth me,
Lucifer teareth me----
_Jesu! Maria! liberate nos ab his diris tentationibus Inimici_.
_Noting the Difference of Rich and Poor, in the Ways of a
Rich Noble's Palace and a Poor Workhouse_
_To the tune of the "Old and Young Courtier"_
(_August, 1800. Text of 1818_)
In a costly palace Youth goes clad in gold;
In a wretched workhouse Age's limbs are cold:
There they sit, the old men by a shivering fire,
Still close and closer cowering, warmth is their desire.
In a costly palace, when the brave gallants dine,
They have store of good venison, with old canary wine,
With singing and music to heighten the cheer;
Coarse bits, with grudging, are the pauper's best fare.
In a costly palace Youth is still carest
By a train of attendants which laugh at my young Lord's jest;
In a wretched workhouse the contrary prevails:
Does Age begin to prattle?--no man heark'neth to his tales.
In a costly palace if the child with a pin
Do but chance to prick a finger, strait the doctor is called in;
In a wretched workhouse men are left to perish
For want of proper cordials, which their old age might cherish,
In a costly palace Youth enjoys his lust;
In a wretched workhouse Age, in corners thrust,
Thinks upon the former days, when he was well to do,
Had children to stand by him, both friends and kinsmen too.
In a costly palace Youth his temples hides
With a new devised peruke that reaches to his sides;
In a wretched workhouse Age's crown is bare,
With a few thin locks just to fence out the cold air.
In peace, as in war, 'tis our young gallants' pride,
To walk, each one i' the streets, with a rapier by his side,
That none to do them injury may have pretence;
Wretched Age, in poverty, must brook offence.
POEMS IN CHARLES LAMB'S _WORKS_ 1818,
NOT PREVIOUSLY PRINTED IN THE PRESENT VOLUME;
TOGETHER WITH REFERENCES TO THOSE POEMS
THAT HAVE BEEN PREVIOUSLY PRINTED
When maidens such as Hester die,
Their place ye may not well supply,
Though ye among a thousand try,
With vain endeavour.
A month or more hath she been dead,
Yet cannot I by force be led
To think upon the wormy bed,
And her together.
A springy motion in her gait,
A rising step, did indicate
Of pride and joy no common rate,
That flush'd her spirit.
I know not by what name beside
I shall it call:--if 'twas not pride,
It was a joy to that allied,
She did inherit.
Her parents held the Quaker rule,
Which doth the human feeling cool,
But she was train'd in Nature's school,
Nature had blest her.
A waking eye, a prying mind,
A heart that stirs, is hard to bind,
A hawk's keen sight ye cannot blind,
Ye could not Hester.
My sprightly neighbour, gone before
To that unknown and silent shore,
Shall we not meet, as heretofore,
Some summer morning,
When from thy cheerful eyes a ray
Hath struck a bliss upon the day,
A bliss that would not go away,
A sweet fore-warning?
* * * * *
_Here came "To Charles Lloyd" See page 12.
Here came "The Three Friends" followed by "To a River in which a Child
was drowned," first printed in "Poetry for Children" 1809. See vol. iii.
of this edition, page 416.
Here came "The Old Familiar Faces." See page 25.
Here came "Helen" by Mary Lamb. See page 28.
Here came "A Vision of Repentance." See page 13._
* * * * *
DIALOGUE BETWEEN A MOTHER AND CHILD
(_By Mary Lamb. 1804_)
"O Lady, lay your costly robes aside,
No longer may you glory in your pride."
"Wherefore to-day art singing in mine ear
Sad songs, were made so long ago, my dear;
This day I am to be a bride, you know,
Why sing sad songs, were made so long ago?"
"O, mother, lay your costly robes aside,
For you may never be another's bride.
_That_ line I learn'd not in the old sad song."
"I pray thee, pretty one, now hold thy tongue,
Play with the bride-maids, and be glad, my boy,
For thou shall be a second father's joy."
"One father fondled me upon his knee.
One father is enough, alone, for me."
* * * * *
_Here came "Queen Oriana's Dream" from "Poetry for Children" See vol.
iii. page 480.
Here came "A Ballad Noting the Difference of Rich and Poor." See page
Here came "Hypochondriacus." See page 29._
* * * * *
A FAREWELL TO TOBACCO
May the Babylonish curse
Strait confound my stammering verse,
If I can a passage see
In this word-perplexity,
Or a fit expression find,
Or a language to my mind,
(Still the phrase is wide or scant)
To take leave of thee, GREAT PLANT!
Or in any terms relate
Half my love, or half my hate:
For I hate, yet love, thee so,
That, whichever thing I shew,
The plain truth will seem to be
A constrain'd hyperbole,
And the passion to proceed
More from a mistress than a weed.
Sooty retainer to the vine,
Bacchus' black servant, negro fine;
Sorcerer, that mak'st us dote upon
Thy begrimed complexion,
And, for thy pernicious sake,
More and greater oaths to break
Than reclaimed lovers take
'Gainst women: thou thy siege dost lay
Much too in the female way,
While thou suck'st the lab'ring breath
Faster than kisses or than death.
Thou in such a cloud dost bind us,
That our worst foes cannot find us,
And ill fortune, that would thwart us,
Shoots at rovers, shooting at us;
While each man, thro' thy height'ning steam,
Does like a smoking Etna seem,
And all about us does express
(Fancy and wit in richest dress)
A Sicilian fruitfulness.
Thou through such a mist dost shew us,
That our best friends do not know us,
And, for those allowed features,
Due to reasonable creatures,
Liken'st us to fell Chimeras,
Monsters that, who see us, fear us;
Worse than Cerberus or Geryon,
Or, who first lov'd a cloud, Ixion.
Bacchus we know, and we allow
His tipsy rites. But what art thou,
That but by reflex can'st shew
What his deity can do,
As the false Egyptian spell
Aped the true Hebrew miracle?
Some few vapours thou may'st raise,
The weak brain may serve to amaze,
But to the reigns and nobler heart
Can'st nor life nor heat impart.
Brother of Bacchus, later born,
The old world was sure forlorn,
Wanting thee, that aidest more
The god's victories than before
All his panthers, and the brawls
Of his piping Bacchanals.
These, as stale, we disallow,
Or judge of _thee_ meant; only thou
His true Indian conquest art;
And, for ivy round his dart,
The reformed god now weaves
A finer thyrsus of thy leaves.
Scent to match thy rich perfume
Chemic art did ne'er presume
Through her quaint alembic strain,
None so sov'reign to the brain.
Nature, that did in thee excel,
Fram'd again no second smell.
Roses, violets, but toys
For the smaller sort of boys,
Or for greener damsels meant;
Thou art the only manly scent.
Stinking'st of the stinking kind,
Filth of the mouth and fog of the mind,
Africa, that brags her foyson,
Breeds no such prodigious poison,
Henbane, nightshade, both together,
Plant divine, of rarest virtue;
Blisters on the tongue would hurt you.
'Twas but in a sort I blam'd thee;
None e'er prosper'd who defam'd thee;
Irony all, and feign'd abuse,
Such as perplext lovers use,
At a need, when, in despair
To paint forth their fairest fair,
Or in part but to express
That exceeding comeliness
Which their fancies doth so strike,
They borrow language of dislike;
And, instead of Dearest Miss,
Jewel, Honey, Sweetheart, Bliss,
And those forms of old admiring,
Call her Cockatrice and Siren,
Basilisk, and all that's evil,
Witch, Hyena, Mermaid, Devil,
Ethiop, Wench, and Blackamoor,
Monkey, Ape, and twenty more;
Friendly Trait'ress, loving Foe,--
Not that she is truly so,
But no other way they know
A contentment to express,
Borders so upon excess,
That they do not rightly wot
Whether it be pain or not.
Or, as men, constrain'd to part
With what's nearest to their heart,
While their sorrow's at the height,
Lose discrimination quite,
And their hasty wrath let fall,
To appease their frantic gall,
On the darling thing whatever
Whence they feel it death to sever,
Though it be, as they, perforce,
Guiltless of the sad divorce.
For I must (nor let it grieve thee,
Friendliest of plants, that I must) leave thee.
For thy sake, TOBACCO, I
Would do any thing but die,
And but seek to extend my days
Long enough to sing thy praise.
But, as she, who once hath been
A king's consort, is a queen
Ever after, nor will bate
Any tittle of her state,
Though a widow, or divorced,
So I, from thy converse forced,
The old name and style retain,
A right Katherine of Spain;
And a seat, too,'mongst the joys
Of the blest Tobacco Boys;
Where, though I, by sour physician,
Am debarr'd the full fruition
Of thy favours, I may catch
Some collateral sweets, and snatch
Sidelong odours, that give life
Like glances from a neighbour's wife;
And still live in the by-places
And the suburbs of thy graces;
And in thy borders take delight,
An unconquer'd Canaanite.
Model of thy parent dear,
Serious infant worth a fear:
In thy unfaultering visage well
Picturing forth the son of TELL,
When on his forehead, firm and good,
Motionless mark, the apple stood;