« AnteriorContinuar »
Oh! ever loving, lovely, and beloved !
How selfish sorrow ponders on the past,
And clings to thoughts now better far removed !
But Time shall tear thy shadow from me last.
All thou couldst have of mine, stern Death! thou
hast; The parent, friend, and now the more than friend : Ne'er yet for one thine arrows flew so fast;
And grief with grief continuing still to blend, Hath snatched the little joy that life had yet to lend.
Then must I plunge again into the crowd,
And follow all that Peace disdains to seek ?
Where Revel calls, and Laughter, vainly loud,
False to the heart, distorts the hollow cheek,
To leave the flagging spirits doubly weak;
Still o'er the features, which perforce they cheer,
To feign the pleasure or conceal the pique;
Smiles form the channel of a future tear,
Or raise the writhing lip with ill-dissembled sneer.
What is the worst of woes that wait on age ?
What stamps the wrinkle deeper on his brow?
To view each loved one blotted from life's page,
And be alone on earth, as I am now.
Before the Chastener humbly let me bow,
O'er hearts divided and o'er hopes destroyed :
Roll on, vain days ! full reckless may ye flow,
Since time hath reft whate'er my soul enjoyed, And with the ills of eld mine earlier years alloy’d.
He lives, nor yet is past his manhood's prime, Though seared by toil, and something touched by time;
His faults, whate'er they were, if scarce forgot,
Might be untaught him by his varied lot;
Nor good or ill of late were known, his name
Might yet uphold his patrimonial fame:
His soul in youth was haughty, but his sins
No more than pleasure from the stripling wins ;
And such, if not yet hardened in their course,
Might be redeemed, nor ask a long remorse.
And they indeed were changed—'tis quickly seen
Whate'er he be, 'twas not what he had been.
That brow in furrow'd lines had fixed at last,
And spake of passions, but of passion past :
The pride, but not the fire, of early days,
Coldness of mien, and carelessness of praise :
A high demeanor, and a glance that took
Their thoughts from others by a single look ;
And that sarcastic levity of tongue,
The stinging of a heart the world hath stung,
That darts in seeming playfulness around,
And makes those feel that will not own the wound;
All these seem'd his, and something more beneath,
Than glance could well reveal, or accent breathe,
Ambition, glory, love, the common aim,
That some can conquer, and that all would claim,
Within his breast appeared no more to strive,
Yet seem'd as lately they had been alive;
And some deep feeling it were vain to trace
At moments lighten'd o'er his livid face.
Not much he loved long question of the past, Nor told of wondrous wilds, and deserts vast, In those far lands where he had wandered lone, And as himself would have it seem-unknown. Yet these in vain his eye could scarcely scan, Nor glean experience from his fellow man;
But what he had beheld he shunned to show,
As hardly worth a stranger's care to know;
If still more prying such inquiry grew,
His brow fell darker, and his words more few.
Not unrejoiced to see him once again,
Warm was his welcome to the haunts of men ;
Born of high lineage, link'd in high command,
He mingled with the magnates of his land;
Join’d the carousals of the great and gay,
And saw them smile or sigh their hours away ;
But still he only saw, and did not share
The common pleasure or the general care;
He did not follow what they all pursued,
With hope still baffled still to be renew'd,
Nor shadowy honour, nor substantial gain,
Nor beauty's preference, and the rival's pain :
Around him some mysterious circle thrown
Repelled approach, and showed him still alone;
Upon his eye sate something of reproof,
That kept at least frivolity aloof;
And things more timid that beheld him near,
In silence gazed, or whisper'd mutual fear ;
And they the wiser, friendlier few confest
They deemed him better than his air exprest.
'Twas strange-in youth all action and all life, Burning for pleasure, not averse from strife; Woman— the field-the ocean all that gave Promise of gladness, peril of a grave, In turn he tried_he ransacked all below, And found his recompense in joy or woe, No tame, trite medium ; for his feelings sought In that intenseness an escape from thought : The tempest of his heart in scorn had gazed On that the feebler elements hath raised ;
The rapture of his heart had look'd on high,
And ask'd if greater dwelt beyond the sky:
Chain'd to excess, the slave of each extreme,
How woke he from the wildness of that dream?
Alas! he told not-but he did awake
To curse the wither'd heart that would not break.
Books, for his volume heretofore was Man,
With eye more curious he appear'd to scan,
And oft, in sudden mood, for many a day
From all communion he would start away :
And then, his rarely call'd attendants said, [tread
Through night's long hours would sound his hurricd
O’er the dark gallery, where his fathers frown'd
In rude but antique portraiture around :
They heard, but whisper'd — “ that must not be
knownThe sound of words less earthly than his own. Yes, they who chose might smile, but some had seen They scarce knew what, but more than should have Why gazed he so upon the ghastly head [been. Which hands profane had gather'd from the dead, That still beside his open volume lay, As if to startle all save him away? Why slept he not when others were at rest ? Why heard no music, and received no guest ? All was not well they deem'd_but where the wrong? Some knew perchance--but 'twere a tale too long; And such besides were too discreetly wise, To more than hint their knowledge in surmise ; But if they would-they could”-around the board, Thus Lara's vassals prattled of their Lord.
In him inexplicably mix'd appear'd
Much to be loved and hated, sought and fear'd;
Opinion, varying o'er his hidden lot,
In praise or railing ne'er his name forgot;
His silence formed a theme for others' prate [fate.
They guess'd—they gazed_they fain would know his
What had he been ? what was he thus unknown,
Who walked this world, his lineage only known ?
A hater of his kind ? Yet some would say,
With them he could seem gay amidst the gay ;
But own'd that smile, if oft observed and near,
Waned in its mirth, and wither'd to a sneer;
That smile might reach his lip, but pass'd not by,
None e'er could trace its laughter to his eye:
Yet there was softness too in his regard
At times, a heart as not by nature hard,
But once perceived, his spirit seem'd to chide
Such weakness as unworthy of its pride,
And steel'd itself, as scorning to redeem
One doubt from others' half withheld esteem;
In self-inflicted penance of a breast
Which tenderness might once have wrung from rest;
In vigilance of grief that would compel
The soul to hate for having loved too well.
There was in him a vital scorn of all :
As if the worst had fallen which could befall,
He stood a stranger in this breathing world,
An erring spirit from another hurl'd;
A thing of dark imaginings, that shaped
By choice the perils he by chance escaped ;
But ’scaped in vain, for in their memory yet
His mind would half exult and half regret :
With more capacity for love than earth
Bestows on most of mortal mould and birth,
His early dreams of good outstripped the truth,
And troubled manhood follow'd baffled youth;