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The vale, with its deep, fountains, is their choice,
And gentle hearts rejoice
Around their steps ; till silently they die,
As a stream shrinks from summer's burning eye.
And these-of whose abode,
'Midst her green valleys, earth retain'd no trace,
Save a flower springing from their burial-sod,
A shade of sadness on some kindred face,
A dim and vacant place
In some sweet home ;-thou hadst no wreaths for these,
Thou sunny land! with all thy deathless trees!
The peasant at his door
Might sink to die when vintage feasts were spread,
And songs on every wind! From thy bright shore
No lovelier vision Hoated round his head
Thou wert for nobler dead!
He heard the bounding steps which round him fell,
And sigh'd to bid the festal sun farewell !
The slave, whose very tears
Were a forbidden luxury, and whose breast
Kept the mute woes and burning thoughts of years,
As embers in a burial-urn compress'd;
He might not be thy guest!
No gentle breathings from thy distant sky
Came o'er his path, and whisper'd “Liberty!"
Calm, on its leaf-strewn bier,
Unlike a gift of Nature to Decay,
Too rose-like still, too beautiful, too dear,
The child at rest before the mother lay,
E'en so to pass away,
With its bright smile Elysium! what wert thou
To her, who wept o'er that young slumb’rer's brow?
Thou hadst no home, green land !
For the fair creature from her bosom gone,
With life's fresh flowers just opening in its hand,
And all the lovely thoughts and dreams unknown
Which, in its clear eye, shone
Like spring's first wakening! but that light was past
Where went the dewdrop swept before the blast?
Not where tra soft winds play'd,
Not where thy waters lay in glassy sleep!
Fade with thy bowers, thou Land of Visions, fade!
From thee no voice came o'er the gloomy deep,
And bade man cease to weep!
Fade, with the amaranth plain, the myrtle grove,
Which could not yield one hope to sorrowing love !*
“ Debout, couronné de fleurs, les bras élevés et posés sur sa tête, et le dos appuyé contre un pin, ce génie semble exprimer par son attitude le répos des morts. Les bas-reliefs des tombeaux offrent souvent des figures semblables."-VISCONTI, Description des Antiques du Musée Royal. Thou shouldst be look'd on when the starlight falls Through the blue stillness of the summer-air, Not by the torch-fire wavering on the wallsIt hath too fitful and too wild a glare! And thou !-thy rest, the soft, the lovely, seems To ask light steps, that will not break its dreams. Flowers are upon thy brow; for so the dead Were crown'd of old, with pale spring flowers like these. Sleep on thine eye hath sunk; yet softly shed, As from the wing of some faint southern breeze : And the pine-boughs o'ershadow thee with gloom Which of the grove seems breathing—not the tomb. They fear'd not death, whose calm and gracious thought Of the last hour, hath settled thus in thee! They who thy wreath of pallid roses wrought, And laid thy head against the forest tree, As that of one by music's dreamy close, On the wood-violets lull'd to deep repose.
* The form of this poem was a good deal altered by Mrs. Hemans sonie years after its first publication, and, though done so perhaps to advantage, one verse was omitted. As originally written, the two following stanzas concluded the piece :
For the most loved are they
Of whom Fame speaks not with her clarion voice,
In regal halls! the shades o'erhang their way,
The vale, with its deep fountains, is their choice,
And gentle hearts rejoice
Around their steps; ull silently they die,
As a streams shrinks from summer's burning eye.
And the world knows not then,
Not then, nor ever, what pure thoughts are filed!
Yet these are they, who on the souls of men
Come back, when night her folding veil hath spread,
The long-remember'd dead!
But not with thee might aught save glory dwell-
Fade, fade away, thou shore of asphodel!
They fear'd not death!-yet who shall say his touch
Thus lighty falls on gentle things and fair ?
Doth he bestow, or will he leave so much
Of tender beauty as thy features wear?
Thou sleeper of the bower! on whose young eyes
So still a night, a night of summer, lies!
Had they seen aught like thee ?-Did some fair boy
Thus, with his graceful hair, before them rest ?
-His gracesul hair, no more to wave in joy,
But drooping, as with heavy dews oppressd:
And his eye veil'd so softly by its fringe,
And his lip faded to the white-rose tinge!
Oh! happy, if to them the one dread hour
Made known its lessons from a brow like thine!
If all their knowledge of the spoiler's power
Came by a look so tranquilly divine !
-Let him, who thus hath seen the lovely part,
Hold well that image to his thoughtful heart!
But thou, fair slumberer! was there less of woe,
Or love, or terror, in the days of old,
Thai men pour’d out their gladdening spirit's flow,
Like sunshine, on the desolate and cold,
And gave thy semblance to the shadowy king,
Who for deep souls had then a deeeper sting?
In the dark bosom of the earth they laid
Far more than we-for loftier faith is ours !
Their gems were lost in ashes yet they made
The grave a place of beauty and of flowers,
With fragrant wreaths, and summer boughs array'd,
And lovely sculpture gleaming through the shade.
Is it for us a darker gloom to shed
O’er its dim precincts ?-do we not intrust
But for a time, its chambers with our dead,
And strew immortal seed upon the dust?
-Why should we dwell on that which lies beneath,
When living light hath touch'd the brow of death?
FROM A PAINTING BY WILLIAMS.
AND there they sleep!-the men who stood
In arms before th' exulting sun,
And bathed their spears in Persian blood.
And taught the earth how freedom might be won.
They sleep!-th' Olympic wreaths are dead,
Th’ Athenian lyres are hushid and gone;
The Dorian voice of song is fled-
Slumber, ye mighty! slumber deeply on.
They sleep, and seems not all around
As hallow'd unto glory's tomb?
Silence is on the battle ground,
The heavens are loaded with a breathless gloom.
And stars are watching on their height,
But dimly seen through mist and cloud,
And still and solemn is the light
Which folds the plain, as with a glimmering shroud.
And thou, pale night-queen! here thy beams
Are not as those the shepherd loves,
Nor look they down on shining streams,
By Naiads haunted in their laurel groves :
Thou seest no pastoral hamlet sleep,
In shadowy quiet, ʼmidst its vines
No temple gleaming from the steep,
'Midst the grey olives, or the mountain pines :
But o'er a dim and boundless waste,
Thy rays, e'en like a tomb-lamp's, brood,
Where man's departed steps are traced
But by his dust, amidst the solitude.
And be it thus !- What slave shall tread
O’er freedom's ancient battle-plains ?
Let deserts wrap the glorious dead,
When their bright Land sits weeping o'er her chains:
Here, where the Persian clarion rung,
And where the Spartan sword flash'd high,
And where the pæan strains were sung,
From year to year swellid on by liberty!
Here should no voice, no sound, be heard,
Until the bonds of Greece be riven,
Save of the leader's charging word,
Or the shrill trumpet pealing up through heaven!
Rest in your silent homes, ye brave !
No vines festoon your lonely tree !*
No harvest o'er your war-field wave,
Till rushing winds proclaimthe land is free!
* A single tree appears in Mr. Williams' impressive picture.
THE VIEW FROM CASTRI.
FROM A PAINTING BY WILLIAMS
THERE have been bright and glorious pageants here,
Where now grey stones and moss-grown columns lie;
There have been words, which earth grew pale to hear,
Breath'd from the cavern's misty chambers nigh:
There have been voices, through the sunny sky,
And the pine-woods, their choral hymn-notes sending,
And reeds and lyres, their Dorian melody,
With incense-clouds around the temple blending,
And throngs with laurel-boughs, before the altar bending.
There have been treasures of the seas and isles
Brought to the day-god's now-forsaken throne;
Thunders have peal'd along the rock-defiles,
When the far-echoing battle-horn made known
That foes were on their way!-the deep-wind's moan
Hath chill'd th' invader's heart with secret fear,
And from the Sybil-grottos, wild and lone,
Storms have gone forth, which, in their fierce career, From his bold hand have struck the banner and the spear.
The shrine hath sunk Sbut thou unchanged art there !
Mount of the voice and vision, robed with dreams!
Unchanged, and rushing through the radiant air,
With thy dark waving pines, and flashing streams,
And all thy founts of song! their bright course teems
With inspiration yet ; and each dim haze,
Or golden cloud which floats around thee, seems
As with its mantle veiling from our gaze
The mysteries of the past, the gods of elder days!
Away, vain phantasies?-doth less of power
Dwell round thy summit, or thy cliffs invest,
Though in deep stillness now, the ruin's flower
Wave o'er the pillars mouldering on thy breast?
-Lift through the free blue heavens thine arrowy crest!
Let the great rocks their solitude regain!
No Delphian lyres now break thy noontide rest
With their full chords :--but silent be the strain !
Thou hast a mightier voice to speak th' Eternal's reign !*
* This, with the preceding, and several of the following pieces Srst appeared in the Edinburgh Magazine.