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Could I embody and unbosom now
That which is most within me,—could I wreak
My thoughts upon expression, and thus throw
Soul, heart, mind, passion, feelings, strong or weak,
All that I would have sought, and all I seek,
Bear, know, feel, and yet breathe_into one word,
And that one word were lightning, I would speak;
But as it is, I live and die unheard,
With a most voiceless thought, sheathing it as a sword.
The morn is up again, the dewy morn,
With breath all incense, and with cheek all bloom,
Laughing the clouds away with playful scorn,
And living as if earth contained no tomb,—
And glowing into day : we may resume
The march of our existence: and thus I,
Still on thy shores, fair Leman! may find room
And food for meditation, nor pass by
Much that may give us pause, if pondered fittingly.
SONNET TO GENEVRA. Thy cheek is pale with thought, but not from woe,
And yet so lovely, that if Mirth could flush
Its rose of whiteness with the brightest blush, My heart would wish away that ruder glow: And dazzle not thy deep blue eyes but oh!
While gazing on them sterner eyes will gush,
And into mine my mother's weakness rush,
Soft as the last drops round heaven's airy bow.
For, through thy long dark lashes low depending,
The soul of melancholy gentleness
Gleams like a seraph from the sky descending,
Above all pain, yet pitying all distress ;
At once such majesty with sweetness blending
I worship more, but cannot love thee less.
How name ye yon lone Caloyer ?
His features I have scanned before
In mine own land : 'tis many a year,
Since, dashing by the lonely shore,
I saw him urge as fleet a steed
As ever served a horseman's need.
But once I saw that face, yet then
It was so marked with inward pain,
I could not pass it by again ;
It breathes the same dark spirit now
As death were stamp'd upon his brow."
“ 'Tis twice three years at summer tide
Since first among our freres he came;'
And here it soothes him to abide
For some dark deed he will not name. But never at our vesper prayer, Nor e'er before confession chair Kneels he, nor recks he when arise Incense or anthem to the skies, But broods within his cell alone, His faith and race alike unknown. The sea from Paynim land he crost, And here ascended from the coast; Yet seems he not of Othman race, But only Christian in his face: I'd judge him some stray renegade, Repentant of the change he made, Save that he shuns our holy shrine, Nor tastes the sacred bread and wine. Great largess to these walls he brought, And thus our abbot's favour bought;
But were I Prior, not a day
Should brook such stranger's further stay,
Or pent within our penance cell
Should doom him there for aye to dwell.
Much in his visions mutters he
Of maiden whelmed beneath the sea;
Of sabres clashing, foemen flying,
Wrongs avenged, and Moslem dying.
On cliff he hath been known to stand,
And rave as to some bloody hand
Fresh sever'd from its parent limb,
Invisible to all but him,
Which beckons onward to his grave,
And lures to leap into the wave.
Dark and unearthly is the scowl
That glares beneath his dusky cowl:
The flash of that dilating eye
Reveals too much of times gone by;
Though varying, indistinct its hue,
Oft will his glance the gazer rue,
For in it lurks that nameless spell
Which speaks, itself unspeakable,
A spirit yet unquell'd and high,
That claims and keeps ascendancy ;
And, like the bird whose pinions quake,
But cannot fly the gazing snake,
Will others quail beneath his look,
Nor 'scape the glance they scarce can brook.
From him the half-affrighted Friar
When met alone could fain retire,
As if that eye and bitter smile
Transferred to others fear and guile :
Nor oft to smile descendeth he,
And when he doth 'tis sad to see
That he but mocks at misery.
How that pale lip will curl and quiver !
Then fix once more as if for ever ;
As if his sorrow or disdain
Forbade him e'er to smile again.
Well were it so such ghastly mirth
From joyaunce ne'er derived its birth.
But sadder still it were to trace
What once were feelings in that face:
Time hath not yet the features fix'd,
But brighter traits with evil mix’d;
And there are hues not always faded,
Which speak a mind not all degraded
Even by the crimes through which it waded :
The common crowd but see the gloom
Of wayward deeds, and fitting doom ;
The close observer can espy
A noble soul, and lineage high :
Alas! though both bestowed in vain,
Which grief could change, and guilt could stain,
It was no vulgar tenement
To which such lofty gifts were lent,
And still with little less than dread
On such the sight is riveted.
The roofless cot decayed and rent,
Will scarce delay the passer by ;
The tower by war or tempest bent,
While yet may frown one battlement
Demands and daunts the stranger's eye;
Each ivied arch, and pillar lone,
Pleads haughtily for glories gone !
His floating robe around him folding,
Slow sweeps he through the column'd aisle ; With dread beheld, with gloom beholding
The rites that sanctify the pile. But when the anthem shakes the choir, And kneel the monks, his steps retire; By yonder lone and wavering torch His aspect glares within the porch ; There will he pause till all is done. And hear the prayer, but utter none. See by the half-illumined wall His hood fly back, his dark hair fall, That pale brow wildly wreathing round, As if the Gorgon there had bound The sablest of the serpent-braid That o'er her fearful forehead stray'd : For he declines the convent oath, And leaves those locks' unhallowed growth, But wears out garb in all beside ; And, not from piety but pride, Gives wealth to walls that never heard Of his one holy vow or word. Lo!_mark ye, as the harmony Peals louder praises to the sky, That livid cheek, that stony air Of mixed defiance and despair ! Saint Francis, keep him from the shrine ; Else may we dread the wrath divine Made manifest by awful sign. If ever evil angel bore The form of mortal, such he wore : By all my hope of sins forgiven, Such looks are not of earth nor heaven !"