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It was despair made them so uniform:
"Month after month," he cried, M to bear this
embraces, Mure misery, disappointment, and mistrust, To own me for their father. Would the dust Were covered in upon my body now! That the life ceased to toil within my brow! And then these thoughts would at the last be fled: Let us not fear such pain can vex the dead.
"What Power delights to torture us? I know That to myself I do not wholly owe What now I suffer, though in part I may. Alas! none strewed fresh flowers upon the way Where, wandering heedlessly, I met pale Pain, My shadow, which will leave me not again. If I have erred, there was no joy in error, But pais, and insult, and unrest, and terror; I hare not, as some do, bought penitence With pleasure, and a dark yet sweet offence; For then if love, and tenderness, and truth, Had overlived Hope's momentary youth, My creed should have redeemed me from repenting; But loathed scorn and outrage unrelenting Met love excited by far other seeming Until the end was gained:—as one from dreaming Of sweetest peace, I woke, and found my state Such as it is—
"0 thou, my spirit's mate! Who, for thou art compassionate and wise, Wouldst pity me from thy most gentle eyes If this sad writing thou shouldst ever see; My secret groans must be unheard by thee; Thou wouldst weep tears, bitter as blood, to know Thy lost friend's incommunicable woe. Ye few by whom my nature has been weighed In friendship, let me not that name degrade, By placing on your hearts the secret load Which crushes mine to dust. There is one road To peace, and that is truth, which follow ye! Lore sometimes leads astray to misery. Yet think not, though subdued (and I may well Say that I am subdued)—that the full lull Within me would infect the untainted breast Of sacred nature with its own unrest; As some perverted beings think to find In scorn or hate a medicine for the mind Which scorn or hate hath wounded.—0, how vain! The dagger heals not, but may rend again.
Believe that I am ever still the same
In creed as in resolve ; and what may tame
My heart, must leave the understanding free,
Or all would sink under this agony.—
Nor dream that I will join the vulgar lie,
Or with my silence sanction tyranny,
Or seek a moment's shelter from my pain
In any madness which the world calls gain;
Ambition, or revenge, or thoughts as stern
As those which make me what I am, or turn
To avarice, or misanthropy, or lust:
Heap on me soon, 0 grave, thy welcome dust!
Till then the dungeon may demand its prey;
And Poverty and Shame may meet and say,
Halting beside me in the public way,—
'That love-devoted youth is ours: let's sit
Beside him: he may live some six months yet.'—
Or the red scaffold, as our country bends,
May ask some willing victim; or ye, friends,
May fall under some sorrow, which this heart
Or hand may share, or vanquish, or avert;
I am prepared, in truth, with no proud joy,
To do or suffer aught, as when a boy
I did devote to justice, and to love,
My nature, worthless now.
■ I must remove A veil from my pent mind. 'Tis torn aside! O! pallid as death's dedicated bride, Thou mockery which art sitting by my side, Am I not wan like thee? At the grave's call I haste, invited to thy wedding-ball, To meet the ghastly paramour, for whom Thou hast deserted me,—and made the tomb Thy bridal bed. But I beside thy feet Will lie, and watch ye from my winding-sheet Thus—wideawake though dead—Yet stay, O, stay! Go not so soon—I know not what I say— Hear but my reasons—I am mad, I fear, My fancy is o'erwrought—thou art not here,
Pale art thou 'tis most true but thou art gone—
Thy work is finished; I am left alone.
"Nay was it I who woo'd thee to this breast,
"You say that I am proud; that when I speak,
head, Sinks in the dust, and writhes like me—and dies:
No:—wears a living death of agonies;
As the slow shadows of the pointed grass
"That you had never seen me! never heard
"Thou wilt tell, With the grimace of hate, how horrible It was to meet my love when thine grew less; Thou wilt admire how I could e'er address Such features to love's work .... This taunt,
though true, (For indeed Nature nor in form nor hue Bestowed on me her choicest workmanship) Shall not be thy defence: for since thy lip Met mine first, years long past,—since thine eye
kindled With soft fire under mine,—I have not dwindled, Nor changed in mind, or body, or in aught But as love changes what it loveth not After long years and many trials.
"How vain Are words; I thought never to speak again, Not even in secret, not to my own heart— But from my lips the unwilling accents start, And from my pen the words flow as I write, Dazzling my eyes with scalding tears—my sight
Is dim to see that (charactered in vain
He ceased, and overcome, leant back awhile; Then rising, with a melancholy smile, Went to a sofa, and lay down, and slept A heavy sleep, and in his dreams he wept, And muttered some familiar name, and we Wept without shame in his society. I think I never was impressed so much! The man, who was not, must have lacked a touch Of human nature.—Then we lingered not, Although our argument was quite forgot; But, calling the attendants, went to dine At Maddalo's;—yet neither cheer nor wine Could give us spirits, for we talked of him, And nothing else, till daylight made stars dim. And we agreed it was some dreadful ill Wrought on him boldly, yet unspeakable, By a dear friend; some deadly change in love Of one vowed deeply which he dreamed not of; For whose sake he, it seemed, had fixed a blot Of falsehood in his mind, which flourished not But in the light of all-beholding truth; And having stamped this canker on his youth, She had abandoned him:—and how much morv Might be his woe, we guessed not:—he had sUire Of friends and fortune once, as we could guess From his nice habits and lib gentleness: These now were lost—it were a grief indeed If he had changed one unsustaining reed For all that such a man might else adorn. The colours of his mind seemed yet unworn; For the wild language of his grief was high— Such as in measure were called poetry. And I remember one remark, which then Maddalo made: he said—" Most wretched men
Are cradled into poetry by wrong:
They learn in suffering what they teach in song."
If I had been an unconnected man,
I, from the moment, should have formed some
plan Never to leave sweet Venice: for to me It was delight to ride by the lone sea: And then the town is silent—one may write Or read in gondolas, by day or night, Having the little brazen lamp alight, Unseen, uninterrupted:—books are there, Pictures, and casts from all those statues fair Which were twin-born with poetry!—and all We seek in towns, with little to recall Regret for the green country:—I might sit In Maddalo's great palace, and his wit And subtle talk would cheer the winter night, And make me know myself:—and the fire light Would flash upon our faces, till the day Slight dawn, and make me wonder at my stay. But I had friends in London too. The chief Attraction here was that I sought relief From the deep tenderness that maniac wrought Within me—'twas perhaps an idle thought, But I imagined that if, day by day, I watched him, and seldom went away, And studied all the beatings of his heart With zeal, as men Btudy some stubborn art For their own good, and could by patience find An entrance to the caverns of his mind, I might reclaim him from his dark estate. In friendships I had been most fortunate, Yet never saw I one whom I would call More willingly my friend :—and this was all Accomplished not;—such dreams of baseless good Oft come and go, in crowds or solitude, And leave no trace!—but what I now designed Made, for long years, impression on my mind. The following morning, urged by my affairs, I left bright Venice.
After many years,
"Why, her heart must have been tough; How did it end 1"
"And was not this enough % They met, they parted."
"Child, is there no more V
"Something within that interval which bore The stamp of why they parted, how they met ;— Yet, if thine aged eyes disdain to wet Those wrinkled cheeks with youth's remembered Ask me no more; but let the silent years [tears, Be closed and cered over their memory, As yon mute marble where their corpses lie." I urged and questioned still: she told me how All happened—but the cold world shall not know.
PASSAGE OF THE APENNINES.
Listes, listen, Mary mine,
To the whisper of the Apennine,
It bursts on the roof like the thunder's roar,
Or like the sea on a northern shore,
Heard in its raging ebb and flow
By the captives pent in the cave below.
The Apennine in the light of day
Is a mighty mountain dim and grey,
Which between the earth and sky doth lay;
But when night comes, a chaos dread
On the dim starlight then is spread,
And the Apennine walks abroad with the storm.
May «M, 1818.
Wilt thou forget the happy hours
Forget the dead, the past? 0 yet
There are ghosts that may take revenge for it;
Memories that make the heart a tomb,
Regrets which glide through the spirit's gloom,
And with ghastly whispers tell
That joy, once lost, is pain.
THE WOODMAN AND THE NIGHTINGALE.
A Woodman, whose rough heart was out of tune
One nightingale in an interfluous wood
Or as the moonlight fills the open sky
Like clouds above the flower from which they rose,
Of evening till the star of dawn may fail,
Heard her within their slumbers, the abyss
Of the circumfluous waters,—every sphere
And every beast stretched in its rugged cave,
Which is its cradle—ever from below
Of one serene and unapproached star,
Itself how low, how high, beyond all height
The heaven where it would perish !—andeveryform
That worshipped in the temple of the night
Was awed into delight, and by the charm
Girt as with an interminable zone,
Whilst that sweet bird, whose music was a storm
Of sound, shook forth the dull oblivion
And so this man returned with axe and saw At evening close from killing the tall treen, The soul of whom by nature's gentle law
Was each a wood-nymph, and kept ever green The pavement and the roof of the wild copse, Chequering the sunlight of the blue serene
With jagged leaves,—and from the forest tops Singing the winds to sleep—or weeping oft Fast showers of aerial water drops
Into their mother's bosom, sweet and soft, Nature's pure tears which have no bitterness ;— Around the cradles of the birds aloft
They spread themselves into the loveliness
Of fan-like leaves, and over pallid flowers
Hang like moist clouds: or, where high branches kiss,
Make a green space among the silent bowers,
All overwrought with branch-like traceries
Odours and gleams and murmurs, which the lute
Of the blind pilot-spirit of the blast
Stirs as it sails, now grave and now acute,
Wakening the leaves and waves ere it has past
To such brief unison as on the brain
One tone, which never can recur, has cast,
One accent never to return again.
0 Mart dear, that you were here
In the ivy bower disconsolate;
1 am not well whilst thou art far;
0 Mary dear, that you were here!
Ests, September, 1818'
ON A FADED VIOLET.
The colour from the flower is gone,
Which like thy sweet eyes smiled on me;
The odour from the flower is flown,
A withered, lifeless, vacant form,
And mocks the heart which yet is warm
I weep—my tears revive it not.
I sigh—it breathes no more on me; Its mute and uncomplaining lot
Is Buch as mine should be.
Come, be happy !—sit near me,
Come, be happy I—sit near me:
Misery! we have known each other,
'Tis an evil lot, and yet
Let us make the best of it;
If love can live when pleasure dies,
We two will love, till in our eyes
This heart's Hell seem Paradise.
Come, be happy !—lie thee down
There our tent shall bo the willow,
Ha ! thy frozen pulses flutter
Kiss me ;—oh ! thy Iipa are cold;
Hasten to the bridal bed—
Clasp me, till our hearts be grown
We may dream in that long sleep,
Let us laugh, and make our mirth,
AU the wide world, beside us
WRITTEN IN DEJECTION, NEAR NAPLES.
The sun is warm, the sky is clear,
The waves are dancing fast and bright, Blue isles and snowy mountains wear
The purple noon's transparent light: The breath of the moist air is light,
Around its unexpanded buds; Like many a voice of one delight,
The winds, the birds, the ocean floods, The City's voice itself is soft like Solitude's.
I see the Deep's untrampled floor
With green and purple sea-weeds strown; I see the waves upon the shore,
Like light dissolved in star-showers, thrown: I sit upon the sands alone,
The lightning of the noon-tide ocean Is flashing round me, and a tone
Arises from its measured motion, How sweet! did any heart now share in my emotion.
Alas! I have nor hope nor health,
Nor peace within nor calm around,
The sage in meditation found,
Nor fame, nor power, nor love, nor leisure. Others I see whom these surround
Smiling they live, and call life pleasure; To me that cup has been dealt in another measure.
Yet now despair itself is mild,
Even as the winds and waters are;
And weep away the life of care
Till death like sleep might steal on me,
My cheek grow cold, and hear the sea
Some might lament that I were cold,
Insults with this untimely moan;
Whom men love not,—and yet regret, Unlike this day, which, when the sun Shall on its stainless glory Bet, Will linger, though enjoyed, like joy in memory
[yet. Drcmtxr, lUia