Aesthetic Papers/The Favorite
I would not have thee criticized
By vain or vulgar eyes;
I would not have thee eulogized
By one who could not prize
That maiden purity and calm
Which form thy most especial charm.
I want a poet's heart, to read
Thy soft, appealing glance,
Who, for his pains, should have the meed,
While watching thy sweet countenance,
Of sunny smiles, that sudden spread
Across thy lips, and, passing thence,
Upon thy brow their light dispense.
Half child, half woman! the pure faith,
That every thing was made for love,
Which saved our childish days from scathe,
Still bears thy floating feet above
The thorns and briars which must tear
Those who find no such path of air.
And, surely, natural to thee
Such confidence must prove,
Stealing from every treasury
Thy proper hoard of love;
For at the first sound of thy voice
The closest stores unlock their choice.
Almost I weep to let thee go:
Fain would I watch above thy path,
The least approaching shade to know,
That thy unventured Future hath,
To lead thee in Life's sweetest ways,
And feed thee on Love's heartfelt praise.
I watch'd the rose-clouds rise around the scene
Wherein thy life's fair pageant on did glide,
And every hour, with iris-colored sheen,
Tinging thy loveliness and girlish pride.
Fond lingering on childhood's fairy isle,
Thy innocent feet yet press'd its dewy flowers;
But joys of youth impatient strove to wile
Thy half-waked soul to more entrancing bowers.
The sternest eyes dropp'd gentlest looks of love,
The coldest hands strewed incense at thy feet;
And, in the cloudless zenith arch'd above,
Not one dark shade thy fearless gaze could meet.
Yet still thine unsuspicious, placid glance
Found nothing strange in such a beauteous lot,
But saw the coming years, like dreams, advance,
And of their solemn meaning question'd not.
Nor fear'd I for thee,—but bewilder'd, charm'd,
Lured by a magic never felt before,
I never dream'd mine idol could be harm'd,
And careless flung for thee one perfume more.
I saw thy head grow giddy in the breath
Of adulation, fanning out the air
Common and pure, and with a subtle death
Poisoning and making false thine atmosphere.
Oh! perishing of too much love and praise!
Oh! foolish mortals, spoiling all their best!
Who now our floweret—too much forced—can raise,
Or from its bloom exotic bravely wrest?