The Complete Poems of Emily Brontë/Privately Printed Poems
PRIVATELY PRINTED POEMS
Of these 67 poems, the copyright of the Editors, 110 copies were Privately Printed by Dodd, Mead and Company of New York in 1902.
PRIVATELY PRINTED POEMS
O God of heaven! The dream of horror,
The frightful dream is over now;
The sickened heart, the blasting sorrow,
The ghastly night, the ghastlier morrow,
The aching sense of utter woe.
The burning tears that would keep welling,
The groan that mocked at every tear,
That burst from out their dreary dwelling,
As if each gasp were life expelling,
But life was nourished by despair.
The tossing and the anguished pining,
The grinding teeth and starting eye;
The agony of still repining,
When not a spark of hope was shining
From gloomy fate's relentless sky.
The impatient rage, the useless shrinking
From thoughts that yet could not be borne;
The soul that was for ever thinking,
Till nature maddened, tortured, sinking,
At last refused to mourn.
It's over now—and I am free,
And the ocean wind is caressing me,
The wild wind from the wavy main
I never thought to see again.
Bless thee, bright Sea, and glorious dome,
And my own world, my spirit's home;
Bless thee, bless all—I cannot speak;
My voice is choked, but not with grief,
And salt drops from my haggard cheek
Descend like rain upon the heath.
How long they've wet a dungeon floor,
Falling on flagstones damp and grey:
I used to weep even in my sleep;
The night was dreadful like the day.
I used to weep when winter's snow
Whirled through the grating stormily;
But then it was a calmer woe,
For everything was drear to me.
The bitterest time, the worst of all,
Was that in which the summer sheen
Cast a green lustre on the wall
That told of fields of lovelier green.
Often I've sat down on the ground,
Gazing up to the flush scarce seen,
Till, heedless of the darkness round,
My soul has sought a land serene.
It sought the arch of heaven divine,
The pure blue heaven with clouds of gold;
It sought thy father's home and mine
As I remembered it of old.
Oh, even now too horribly
Come back the feelings that would swell,
When with my face hid on my knee,
I strove the bursting groans to quell.
I flung myself upon the stone;
I howled, and tore my tangled hair;
And then, when the first gust had flown,
Lay in unspeakable despair.
Sometimes a curse, sometimes a prayer,
Would quiver on my parchèd tongue;
But both without a murmur there
Died in the breast from whence they sprung.
And so the day would fade on high,
And darkness quench that lonely beam,
And slumber mould my misery
Into some strange and spectral dream,
Whose phantom horrors made me know
The worst extent of human woe.
But this is past, and why return
O'er such a path to brood and mourn?
Shake off the fetters, break the chain,
And live and love and smile again.
The waste of youth, the waste of years,
Departed in that dungeon thrall;
The gnawing grief, the hopeless tears,
Forget them—oh, forget them all!
August 7, 1834, E. J. B.
Lord of Elbe, on Elbe hill
The mist is thick and the wind is chill;
And the heart of thy friend from the dawning of day
Has sighed for sorrow that thou wert away.
Lord of Elbe, how pleasent to me
The sound of thy blithesome step would be,
Rustling the heath that only now
Moans as the night gusts over it blow.
Bright are the fires in thy noble home;
I see them far off, and it deepens the gloom;
Shining like stars through the high forest boughs,
Gladder they grow in the park's repose.
O Alexander! when I return,
Warm as those hearths thy heart would burn;
Light as thine own my step would fall,
If I might hear thy voice in the hall.
But thou art now on the desolate sea,
thinking of Gondal and grieving for me;
Longing to be in sweet Elbe again,
Thinking and grieving and longing in vain.
August 19, 1834.
Cold, clear, and blue the morning heaven
Expands its arch on high;
Cold, clear, and blue Lake Werna's water
Reflects that winter sky:
The moon has set, but Venus shines,
A silent, silvery star.
Will the day be bright or cloudy?
Sweetly has its dawn begun;
But the heaven may shake with thunder
Ere the settling sun.
Lady, watch Apollo's journey;
Thus thy first hour's course shall be;
If his beams through summer vapours
Warm the earth all placidly,
Her days shall pass like a pleasant dream in sweet tranquility.
If it darken, if a shadow
Quench his rays and summon rain,
Flowers may open, buds may blossom,
Bud and flower alike are vain;
Her days shall pass like a mournful story in care and tears and pain.
If the wind be fresh and free,
The wide skies clear and cloudless blue,
The woods and fields and golden flowers
Sparkling in sunshine and in dew,
Her days shall pass in Glory's light the world's drear desert through.
July 12, 1836.
Tell me, tell me, smiling child,
What the past is like to thee?
An Autumn evening, soft and mild,
With a wind that sighs mournfully.
Tell me what is the present hour?
A green and flowery spray,
Where a young bird sits gathering its power
To mount and fly away.
And what is the future, happy one?
A sea beneath a cloudless sun;
A mighty, glorious, dazzling sea,
Stretching into infinity.
The inspiring music's thrilling sound,
The glory of the festal day,
The glittering splendour rising round,
Have passed like all earth's joys away.
Forsaken by that lady fair,
She glides unheeding through them all;
Covering her brow to hide the tear
That still, though checked, trembles to fall.
She hurries through the outer hall,
And up the stairs through galleries dim,
That murmur to the breezes' call
The night-wind's lonely vesper hymn.
High waving heather 'neath stormy blasts bending,
Midnight and moonlight and bright shining stars;
Darkness and glory rejoicingly blending,
Each rising to heaven and heaven descending;
Man's spirit away from the drear dungeon sending,
Bursting the fetters and breaking the bars.
All down the mountain-sides wild forests lending
The mighty voice to the life-giving wind;
Rivers their banks in the jubilee bending,
Fast through the valleys a reckless course wending,
Wilder and deeper their waters extending,
Leaving a desolate desert behind.
Shining and lowering, and swelling and dying,
Changing for ever from midnight to noon;
Roaring like thunder, like soft music sighing,
Shadows on shadows advancing and flying;
Lightning-bright flashes the deep gloom defying,
Coming as swiftly and fading as soon.
Woods, you need not frown on me;
Spectral trees, that so dolefully
Shake your heads in the dreary sky,
You need not mock so bitterly.
December 13, 1836.
The night of storms has past;
The sunshine bright and clear
Gives glory to the verdant waste,
And warms the breezy air.
And I would leave my bed,
Its cheering smile to see,
To chase the visions from my head,
Whose forms have toubled me.
In all the hours of gloom
My soul was rapt away;
I stood by a marble tomb
Where royal corpses lay.
It was just the time of eve,
When parted ghosts might come,
Above their prisoned dust to grieve
And wail their woeful doom.
And truly at my side
I saw a shadowy thing,
Most dim, and yet its presence there
Curdled my blood with ghastly fear
And ghastlier wondering.
My breath I could not draw,
The air seemed uncanny;
But still my eyes with maddening gaze
Were fixed upon its fearful face,
And its were fixed on me.
I fell down on the stone,
But could [not] turn away;
My words died a voiceless moan
When I began to pray.
And still it bent above,
Its features full in view;
It seemed close by and yet more far
Than this world from the farthest star
That tracks the boundless blue.
Indeed 'twas not the space
Of earth or time between,
But the sea of deep eternity,
The gulf o'er which mortality
Has never, never been.
Oh, bring not back again
The horror of that hour!
When its lips opened and a sound
Awoke the stillness reigning round,
Faint as a dream, but the earth shrank,
And heaven's lights shivered 'neath its power.
Woe for the day! Regina's pride,
Regina's hope is in the grave;
And who shall rule my land beside,
And who shall save?
Woe for the day! with gory tears
My countless sons this day shall rue;
Woe for the day! a thousand years
Cannot repair what one shall do.
Woe for the day! 'twixt rain and wind
That sad lament was ringing;
It almost broke my heart to hear
Such dreamy, dreary singing.
June 10, 1837, E. J. Brontë.
I saw thee, child, one summer day
Suddenly leave thy cheerful play,
And in the green grass lowly lying
I listened to thy mournful sighing.
I knew the wish that waked that wail,
I knew the source whence sprung those tears;
You longed for fate to raise the veil
That darkened over coming years.
The anxious prayer was heard, and power
Was given me in that silent hour
To open to an infant's eye
The portals of futurity.
But, child of dust, the fragrant flowers,
The bright blue flowers and velvet sod,
Were strange conductors to the bowers
Thy daring footsteps must have trod.
I watched my time, and summer passed,
And autumn waning fleeted by,
And doleful winter nights at last
In cloudy morning clothed the sky.
And now it's come. This evening fell
Not stormily, but stilly drear;
A sound sweeps o'er thee like a knell
To banish joy and welcome care.
A fluttering blast that shakes the leaves
And whistles round the gloomy wall,
And lingering long, and thinking grieves,
For 'tis the spectre's call.
He hears me: what a sudden start
Sent the blood icy to the heart;
He wakens, and how gastly white
That face looks in the dim lamp-light.
Those tiny hands in vain essay
To brush the shadowy fiend away;
There is a horror on his brow,
An anguish in his bosom now;
A fearful anguish in his eyes,
Fixed strainedly on the vacant air;
Hoarsely bursts in long-drawn sighs,
His panting breath enchained by fear.
Poor child! if spirits such as I
Could weep o'er human misery,
A tear might flow, ay, many a tear,
To see the head that lies before,
To see the sunshine disappear;
And hear the stormy waters roar,
Breaking upon a desolate shore,
Cut off from hope in early day,
From earth and glory cut away.
But it is doomed, and Morning's light
Must image forth the scowl of night,
And childhood's flower must waste its bloom
Beneath the shadow of the tomb.
The battle had passed from the height,
And still did evening fall;
While heaven with its restful night
Gloriously canopied all.
The dead around were sleeping
On heath and granite grey,
And the dying their last watch were keeping
In the closing of the day.
How golden bright from earth and heaven
The summer day declines!
How gloriously o'er land and sea
The parting sunbeam shines!
There is a voice in the wind that waves
Those bright rejoicing trees.
Not a vapour had stained the breezeless blue,
Not a cloud had dimmed the sun,
From the time of morning's earliest dew
Till the summer day was done.
And all as pure and all as bright
The sun of evening died,
And purer still its parting light
Shone on Lake Elnor's tide.
Waveless and calm lies that silent deep
In its wilderness of moors,
Solemn and soft the moonbeams sleep
Upon its heathy shores.
The deer are gathered to their rest,
The wild sheep seek the fold.
Only some spires of bright green grass
Transparently in sunshine quivering.
The sun has set, and the long grass now
Waves dreamily in the evening wind;
And the wild bird has flown from that old grey stone,
In some warm nook a couch to find.
In all the lonely landscape round
I see no light and hear no sound,
Except the wind that far away
Comes sighing o'er the healthy sea.
Lady, in thy palace hall,
Once perchance thy face was seen;
Can no memory now recall
Thought again to what has been?
Alone I sat; the summer day
Had died in smiling light away;
I saw it die, I watched it fade
From the misty hill and breezeless glade.
And thoughts in my soul were rushing,
And my heart bowed beneath their power;
And tears within my eyes were gushing
Because I could not speak the feeling,
The solemn joy around me stealing,
In that divine, untroubled hour.
I asked myself, O why has Heaven
Denied the precious gift to me,
The glorious gift to many given,
To speak their thoughts in poetry?
Dreams have encircled me, I said,
From careless childhood's sunny time;
Visions by ardent fancy fed
Since life was in its morning prime.
But now, when I had hoped to sing,
My fingers strike a tuneless string;
And still the burden of the strain—
I strive no more, 'tis all in vain.
The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me
And I cannot, cannot go.
The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow,
And the storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.
Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me—
I will not, cannot go.
I'll come when thou art saddest,
Bring light to the darkened room,
When the rude day's mirth has vanished,
And the smile of joy is banished
From evening's chilly gloom.
I'll come when the heart's worst feeling
Has enitre, unbiassed sway,
And my influence o'er thee stealing,
Grief deepening, joy congealing,
Shall bear thy soul away.
Listen! 'tis just the hour,
The awful time for thee.
Dost thou not feel upon thy soul
A flood of strange sensations roll,
Forerunners of a sterner power,
Heralds of me?
I would have touched the heavenly key
That spoke alike of bliss and thee;
I would have woke the evening song,
But its words died upon my tongue.
But then I knew that he stood free,
Would never speak of joy again,
And then I felt . . . [unfinished].
Now trust a heart that trusts in you,
And firmly say the word adieu;
Be sure, wherever I may roam,
My heart is with your heart at home;
Unless there be no truth on earth,
And vows most true are nothing worth,
And mortal man have no control
Over his own unhappy soul;
Unless I change in every thought,
And memory will restore me nought,
And all I have of virtue die
Beneath far Gondal's foreign sky.
The mountain peasant loves the heath
Better than richest plains beneath;
He would not give one moorland wild
For all the fields that ever smiled.
And whiter brows than yours may be,
And rosier cheeks my eyes may see,
And lightning looks from orbs divine
About my pathway burn and shine.
But that pure light, changeless and strong,
Cherished and watched and nursed so long;
That love that first its glory gave,
Shall be my pole-star to the grave.
Sleep brings no joy to me,
Remembrance never dies,
My soul is given to mystery,
And lives in sighs.
Sleep brings no rest to me;
The shadows of the dead,
My wakening eyes may never see,
Surround my bed.
Sleep brings no hope to me,
In soundest sleep they come,
And with their doleful imag'ry
Deepen the gloom.
Sleep brings no strength to me,
No power renewed to brave;
I only sail a wilder sea,
A darker wave.
Sleep brings no friend to me
To soothe and aid to bear;
They all gaze on how scornfully,
And I despair.
Sleep brings no wish to fret
My harassed heart beneath;
My only wish is to forget
In endless sleep of death.
Strong I stand, though I have borne
Anger, hate, and bitter scorn;
Strong I stand, and laugh to see
How mankind have fought with me.
Shade of history, I condemn
All the puny ways of men;
Free my heart, my spirit free,
Beckon, and I'll follow thee.
False and foolish mortal know,
If you scorn the world's disdain,
Your mean soul is far below
Other worms, however vain.
Thing of Dust, with boundless pride,
Dare you ask me for a guide?
With the humble I will be;
Haughty men are naught to me.
O mother! I am not regretting
To leave this wretched world below,
If there be nothing but forgetting
In that dark land to which I go.
Yet though 'tis wretched now to languish,
Deceived and tired and hopeless here,
No heart can quite repress the anguish
Of leaving things that once were dear.
Twice twelve short years and all is over,
And day and night to rise no more,
And never more to be a rover
Along the fields, the woods, the shore.
And never more at early dawning
To watch the stars of midnight wane,
To breathe the breath of summer morning,
And see its sunshine ne'er again.
I hear the abbey bells are ringing;
Methinks their chime sounds faint and drear,
Or else the wind is adverse winging,
And wafts its music from my ear.
The wind the winter night is speaking
Of thoughts and things that should not stay:
Mother, come near, my heart is breaking;
I cannot bear to go away.
And I must go whence no returning
To soothe your grief or calm your care;
Nay, do not weep; that bitter mourning
Tortures my soul with wild despair.
No; tell me that when I am lying
In the old church beneath the stone,
You'll dry your tears and check your sighing,
And soon forget the spirit gone.
You've asked me long to tell what sorrow
Has blanched my cheek and quenched my eye;
And we shall never cry to-morrow,
So I'll confess before I die.
Ten years ago in last September
Fernando left his home and you,
And still I think you must remember
The anguish of that last adieu.
And well you know how wildly pining
I longed to see his face again,
Through all the Autumn drear deceiving
Its stormy nights and days of rain.
Down on the skirts of Areon's Forest
There lies a lone and lovely glade,
And there the hearts together nourished,
Their first, their fatal parting made.
The afternoon in softened glory
Bathed each green swell and waving tree,
And the broad park spread before me
Stretched towards the boundless sea.
And there I stood when he had left me,
With ashy cheek and tearless eye,
Watching the ship whose sail bereft me
Of life and hope, and love and joy.
It past: that night I sought a pillow
Of sleepless woe and grieving lone;
My soul still bounded o'er the billow,
And mourned a love for ever flown.
Yet smiling bright in recollection
One blissful hour returns to me;
The letter told of firm affection,
Of safe deliverance from the sea.
But not another; fearing, hoping,
Spring, winter, harvest glided o'er;
And time at length brought power for coping
With thoughts I could not once endure.
And I would seek in summer evening
The place that saw our last farewell,
And there a chain of visions weaving,
I'd linger till the curfew bell.
December 14, 1837.
Awake, awake! how loud the stormy morning
Calls up to life the nation's resting round;
Arise, arise! it is the voice of mourning
That breaks our slumber with so wild a sound.
The voice of mourning; listen to its pealing;
That shout of triumph drowns the sigh of woe;
Each tortured heart forgets its wonted feeling,
Each faded cheek resumes its long lost glow.
Our souls are full of gladness; God has given
Our arms to victory, our foes to death;
The crimson ensign waves its sheet in heaven,
The sea-green standard lies in dust beneath.
Patriots, the stain is on your country's glory;
Soldiers, preserve that glory bright and free;
Let Almedore in peace and battle gory
Be still another name for victory.
This poem in the original manuscript is entitled 'Song by Julius Angora.'
O wander not so far away!
O love, forgive this selfish tear;
It may be sad for thee to stay,
But how can I live lonely here?
The still May morn is warm and bright,
Young flowers are fresh, and grass is green,
And in the haze of glorious light
Our long low hills are scarcely seen.
Our woods—e'en now their young leaves hide
Where blackbird and the throstle dwell;
And high in heaven so blue and wide
A thousand strains of Music swell.
He looks on all with eyes that speak
So deep, so drear a woe to me!
There is a faint red on his cheek
Unlike the bloom I like to see.
Call Death—yes Death he is mine own,
The grave must close those limbs around,
And hush, for ever hush the tone,
I loved above all earthly sound.
Well! pass away with the other flowers;
Too dark for them, too dark for thee
Are the hours to come, the joyless hours,
That time is treasuring up for me.
If thou hast sinned in this world of woe,
'Twas but the dust of thy drear abode;
Thy soul was pure when it entered here
And pure it will go again to God.
February 20, 1838.
Why do I hate that lone green dell?
Buried in moors and mountains wild,
That is a spot I had loved too well,
Had I but seen it when a child.
There are bones whitening there in the summer heat;
But it is not for that, and none can tell,
None but one can the secret repeat,
Why I hate that lone green dell.
Noble foe, I pardon thee
All thy cold and scornful pride,
For thou wast a priceless friend to me
When my sad heart had none beside.
And leaning on thy generous arm,
A breath of old times over me came;
The earth shone round with a long-lost charm:
Alas! I forgot I was not the same.
Before a day, an hour, passed by,
My spirit knew itself once more;
I saw the gilded visions fly
And leave me as I was before.
May 9, 1838.
Tell me, whether is it winter?
Say how long my sleep has been?
Have the woods, I left so lovely,
Lost their robes of tender green?
Is the morning slow in coming?
Is the night-time loth to go?
Tell me, are the dreary mountains
Drearier still with drifted snow?
'Captive, since thou sawest the frost,
All its leaves have died away;
And another March has woven
Garlands for another May.
'Ice has barred the Arctic waters,
Soft southern winds have set it free;
And once more to deep green valley
Golden flowers might welcome thee.'
Watching in this lonely prison,
Shut from joy and kindly air,
Heaven, descending in a vision,
Taught my soul to do and bear.
It was night, a night of winter;
I lay on the dungeon floor,
And all other sounds were silent,
All, except the river's roar.
Over Death, and Desolation,
Fireless hearths, and lifeless homes;
Over orphans' heartsick sorrows,
Patriot fathers' bloody tombs;
Over friends, that my arms never
Might embrace in love again;
Memory pondered until madness
Struck its poniard in my brain.
Deepest slumbers followed raving,
Yet, methought, I brooded still;
Still I saw my country bleeding,
Dying for a tyrant's will.
Not because my bliss was blasted,
Burned within the avenging flame:
Not because my scattered kindred
Died in woe, or lived in shame.
God doth know I would have given
Every bosom dear to me,
Could that sacrifice have purchased
Tortured Gondal's liberty!
But that at Ambition's bidding,
All her cherished hopes should wane,
That her noblest sons should muster,
Strive and fight and fall in vain;
Hut and castle, hall and cottage,
Roofless, crumbling to the ground;
Mighty heaven, a glad avenger
Thy eternal Justice found!
Yes, the arm that once would shudder,
Even to grieve a wounded deer,
I beheld it, unrelenting,
Clothe in blood its sovereign's prayer.
Glorious Dream! I saw the city,
Blazing in imperial shine;
And among adoring thousands
Stood a man of form divine.
None need point the princely victim,
Now he smiles with royal pride!
Now his glance is bright as lightning,
Now the knife is in his side!
Ha! I saw how death could darken,
Darken that triumphant eye!
His red heart's blood drenched my dagger;
My ear drank his dying sigh.
Shadows came! what means this midnight?
O my God, I know it all!
Know the fever-dream is over,
Unavenged, the Avenger's fall!
May 21, 1838.
It's over now; I've known it all;
I'll hide it in my heart no more,
But back again that night recall,
And think the fearful vision o'er.
The evening sun in cloudless shine
Has passed from summer's heaven divine,
And dark the shades of twilight grew,
And stars were in the depth of blue,
And in the heath or mountain far
From human eye and human care,
With thoughtful thought and tearful eye,
I sadly watched that solemn sky.
The wide cathedral Isles are lone,
The vast crowds vanished every one;
There can be naught beneath that dome
But the cold tenants of the tomb.
O look again, for still on high
The lamps are burning gloriously;
And look again, for still beneath
A thousand thousand live and breathe.
All mute as death beyond the shrine
That gleams in lustre so divine
Were Gondal's monarchs bending low,
After the hour of silent prayer,
Take in heaven's sight their awful vow,
And never-dying union swear.
King Julius lifts his impious eye
From the dark marble to the sky,
Blasts with that oath his perjured soul,
And changeless is his cheek the while,
Though burning thoughts that spurn control,
Kindle a short and bitter smile,
As face to face the King's men stand,
His false hand clasped in Gerald's hand.
May 22, 1838.
This shall be thy lullaby,
Rocking on the stormy sea;
Though it roar in thunder wild,
Sleep, stilly sleep, thou bright-haired child.
When our shuddering boat was crossing
Eldern's lake so rudely tossing,
Then 'twas first my nursling smiled;
Sleep, softly sleep, my fair-browed child.
Waves above thy cradle break,
Foamy tears are on thy cheek,
Yet the ocean's self grows mild
When it bears my slumbering child.
'Twas one of those dark, cloudy days
That sometimes come in summer blaze,
When heaven drops not, when earth is still,
And deeper green is on the hill.
Lonely at her window sitting
While the evening steals away,
Fitful winds foreboding, flitting
Through a sky of cloudy grey.
There are two trees in a lonely field,
They breathe a spell to me;
A dreary thought their dark boughs yield,
All waving solemnly.
What is that smoke that ever still
Comes rolling down the dark brown hill?
Still as she spoke the ebon clouds
Would part and sunlight shone between,
But dreary, strange, and pale and cold.
Away, away, resign thee now
To scenes of gloom and thoughts of fear;
I trace the figure on thy brow,
Welcome at last, though once so drear.
It will not shine again,
Its sad course is done;
I have seen the last ray wane
Of the cold, bright sun.
None but me beheld him dying,
Parting with the parting day;
Wind of evening, sadly sighing,
Bore his soul from earth away.
Coldly, bleakly, dreamily
Evening died on Elbe's shore;
Winds were in the cloudy sky,
Sighing, mourning ever more.
Old hall of Elbe, ruined, lonely now,
Home to which the voice of life shall never more return;
Chambers roofless, desolate, where weeds and ivy grow;
Windows through whose broken panes the night-winds coldly mourn—
Home of the departed, the long-departed dead.
Well narrower draw the circle round,
And hush that music's solemn sound,
And quench the lamp and stir the fire,
To rouse its flickering radiance higher;
Toss up the window's velvet veil,
That we may hear the night-wind wail,
For wild those gusts, and well their chimes
Blend with a song of troubled times.
July 11, 1838.
What rider up Gobeloin's glen
Has spurred his straining steed,
And fast and far from living men
Has passed with maddening speed?
I saw his hoof-prints mark the rock,
When swift he left the plain;
I heard deep down the echoing shock
Re-echo back again.
From cliff to cliff, thro' rock and heath,
That coal-black courser bounds;
Nor heeds the river pent beneath,
Nor marks how fierce it sounds.
With streaming hair, and forehead bare
And mantle waving wide
His master rides; the eagle there
Soars up on every side;
The goats fly by with timid cry,
Their realm rashly won;
They pause—he still ascends on high—
They gaze, but he is gone.
O gallant horse, hold on thy course;
The road is tracked behind.
Spur, rider, spur or vain thy force—
Death comes on every wind.
Roared thunder loud from that pitchy cloud?
From it the torrents flow?
Or wakes the breeze in the swaying trees
That frown so dark below?
He breathes at last, when the valley is past,
He rests on the grey rock's brow;
What ails thee, steed? At thy master's need,
Wilt thou prove faithless now?
No; hardly checked, with ears erect,
The charger champed his rein;
Ere his quivering limbs, all foam-flecked,
Were off like light again.
Hark! through the pass with threatening crash
Comes on the increasing roar!
But what shall brave the deep, deep waves
The deadly pass before?
Their feet are dyed in a darker tide,
Who dare those dangers drear.
Their breasts have burst through the battle's worst,
And why should they tremble here?
Strong hearts they bear and arms as good,
To conquer or to fall;
They dash into the boiling flood,
They gain the rock's steep wall.
'Now, my brave men, this one pass more,
This narrow chasm of stone,
And Douglas for our sovereign's gore
Shall yield us back his own.'
I hear their ever-rising tread
Sound through the granite glen;
There is a tall pine overhead
Held by the mountain men.
That dizzy bridge which no horse could track
Has checked the outlaw's way;
There like a wild beast turns he back,
And grimly stands at bay.
Why smiles he so, when far below
He spies the toiling chase?
The pond'rous tree sways heavily,
And totters from its place.
They raise their eyes, for the sunny skies
Are lost in sudden shade;
But Douglas neither shrinks nor flies,
He need not fear the dead.
Geraldine, the moon is shining
With so soft, so bright a ray;
Seems it not that eve's declining
Ushered in a fairer day?
While the wind is whispering only,
Fair across the water borne;
Let us in this silence lonely
Sit beneath the ancient thorn.
Wild the road, and rough and dreary;
Barren all the moorland round;
Rude the couch that rests us weary;
Mossy stone and heathy ground.
But when winter storms were meeting
In the moonless midnight dome,
Did we heed the tempests beating,
Howling round our spirits' home?
No; that tree with branches riven
Whitening in the whirl of snow,
As it tossed against the heaven,
Sheltered happy hearts below.
And at Autumn's mild returning
Shall our feet forget the way?
And in Cynthia's silvan morning,
Geraldine, wilt thou delay?
October 17, 1838.
Where were ye all? and where wert thou?
I saw an eye that shone like thine,
But dark curls waved around his brow,
And his star-glance was strange to mine.
And yet a dreamlike comfort came
Into my heart and anxious eye,
And trembling yet to hear his name,
I bent to listen watchfully.
This voice, though never heard before,
Still spoke to me of years gone by;
It seemed a vision to restore,
That brought the hot tears to my eye.
I paused on the threshold, I turned to the sky;
I looked to the heaven and the dark mountains round;
The full moon sailed bright through that ocean on high,
And the wind murmured past with a wild eerie sound.
And I entered the walls of my dark prison-house;
Mysterious it rose from the billowy moor.
O come with me, thus ran the song,
The moon is bright in Autumn's sky,
And thou hast toiled and laboured long,
With aching head and weary eye.
Light up thy halls! 'Tis closing day;
I'm drear and lone and far away.
Cold blows on my breast the Northwind's bitter sigh,
And, oh! my couch is bleak, beneath the rainy sky!
Light up thy halls! think not of me;
Absent is that face which thou hast hated so to see;
Bright be thine eyes, undimmed their dazzling shine,
For never, never more shall they encounter mine!
The desert moor is dark, there is tempest in the air;
I have breathed my only wish in one last, one burning prayer;
A prayer that would come forth altho' it lingered long;
That set on fire my heart, but froze upon my tongue.
And now, it shall be done before the morning rise;
I will not watch the sun arise in yonder skies.
One task alone remains—thy pictured face to view,
And then I go to prove if God, at least, be true!
Do I not see thee now? Thy black resplendent hair;
The glory-beaming brow; and smile how heavenly fair!
Thine eyes are turned away—those eyes I would not see;
Their dark, their deadly ray would more than madden me.
Then, go, deceiver, go! My hair is streaming wet;
My heart's blood flows to buy the blessing—to forget!
Oh! could that heart give back—give back again to thine,
One tenth part of the pain that clouds my dark decline.
Oh! could I see thy lids weighed down in cheerless woe;
Too full to hide their tears, too stern to overflow;
Oh! could I know thy soul with equal grief was torn,
This fate might be endured—this anguish might be borne.
How gloomy grows the night! 'Tis Gondal's wind that blows;
I shall not tread again the deep glens where it rose.
I feel it on my face— Where, wild blast! dost thou roam?
What do we, wanderer! here, so far away from home?
I do not need thy breath to cool my death-cold brow;
But go to that far land, where she is shining now;
Tell her my latest wish, tell her my dreary doom;
Say that my pangs are past, but hers are yet to come.
Vain words, vain, frenzied thoughts! No ear can hear my call.
Lost in the desert air my frantic curses fall.
And could she see me now, perchance her lip would smile,
Would smile in careless pride and utter scorn the while!
But yet for all her hate, each parting glance would tell
A stronger passion breathed, burned in this last farewell—
Unconquered in my soul the Tyrant rules me still:
Life bows to my control, but Love I cannot kill!
November 1, 1838.
O dream, where art thou now?
Long years have passed away
Since cast from off thine angel brow
I saw the light decay.
Alas! alas for me!
Thou wert so bright and fair,
I could not think thy memory
Would yield me nought but care!
The moonbeam and the storm,
The summer eve divine,
The silent night of solemn calm,
The full moon's cloudless shine,
Were once entwined with thee,
But now with weary pain.
Lost vision! 'tis enough for me
Thou canst not shine again.
November 3, 1838.
How still, how happy! These are words
That once would scarce agree together;
I loved the splashing of the surge,
The changing heaven, the breezy weather,
More than smooth seas and cloudless skies
And solemn, soothing, softened airs,
That in the forest woke no sighs
And from the green spray shook no tears.
How still, how happy! now I feel
Where silence dwells is sweeter far
Than laughing mirth with joyous swell,
However pure its raptures are.
Come, sit down on this sunny stone;
'Tis wintry light o'er flowless moors;
But sit, for we are all alone,
And clear expand heaven's breathless shores.
I could think in the withered grass
Spring's budding wreaths we might discern;
The violet's eye might shyly flash,
And young leaves shoot among the fern.
It is but thought—full many a night
The snow shall clothe these hills afar,
And storms shall add a drearier blight
And winds shall wage a wilder war,
Before the lark may herald in
Fresh foliage twined with blossoms fair,
And summer days again begin
Their glory-haloed crown to wear.
Yet my heart loves December's smile
As much as July's golden gleam!
Then let me sit and watch the while
The blue ice curdling on the stream.
December 7, 1838.
The night was dark, yet winter breathed
With softened sighs on Gondal's shore;
And though its wind repining grieved,
It chained the snow-swollen streams no more.
How deep into the wilderness
My horse had strayed, I cannot say;
But neither morsel nor caress
Would urge him farther on the way.
So loosening from his neck the rein,
I set my worn companion free,
And billowy hill and boundless plain
Full soon divided him from me.
The sullen clouds lay all unbroken
And blackening round the horizon drear,
But still they gave no certain token
Of heavy rain or tempest near.
I paused, confounded and distracted,
Down in the heath my limbs I threw;
But wilder as I longed for rest,
More wakeful heart and eyelids grew.
It was about the middle night
And under such a starless dome,
When gliding from the mountains height,
I saw a shadowy spirit come.
Her wavy hair on her shoulders bare,
It shone like soft clouds round the moon;
Her noiseless feet, like melting sleet,
Gleamed white a moment, then were gone.
'What seek you now on this bleak moor brow,
Where wanders that form from heaven descending?'
It was thus I said as her graceful head
The spirit above my couch was bending.
'This is my home where whirlwinds blow,
Where snowdrifts round my path are swelling;
'Tis many a year, 'tis long ago,
Since I beheld another dwelling.
'When thick and fast the smothering blast
I've welcomed the winter on the plain,
If my cheek grew pale in its loudest gale,
May I never tread the hills again.
'The shepherd had died on the mountain-side,
But my ready aid was near him then;
I led him back o'er the hidden track
And gave him to his native glen.
'When tempests roar on the lonely shore
I light my beacon with seaweeds dry,
And it flings its fire through the darkness dire
And gladdens the sailor's hopeless eye.
'And the sea-birds noisy I love to keep,
Their timid forms to guard from harm;
I have a spell, and they know it well,
And I save them with a powerful charm.
'Thy own good steed on his friendless bed
A few hours since you left to die;
But I knelt by his side and the saddle untied,
And life returned to his glazing eye.
'To a silent home thy feet may come,
And years may follow of toilsome pain;
But yet I swear by that burning tear,
The loved shall meet on its hearth again.'
January 12, 1839.
THE ABSENT ONE
From our evening fireside now
Merry laugh and cheerful tone,
Smiling eye and cloudless brow,
Mirth and music all are flown.
Yet the grass before the door
Grows as green in April rain,
And as blithely as of yore
Larks have poured their daylong strain.
Is it fear or is it sorrow
Checks the frequent stream of joy?
Do we tremble that to-morrow
May our present peace destroy?
For past misery are we weeping?
What is past can hurt no more;
And the gracious heavens are keeping
Aid for that which lies before.
One is absent, and for one,
Cheerless, chill is our hearthstone.
One is absent, and for him
Cheeks are pale and eyes are dim.
Arthur, brother, Gondal's shore
Rested from the battle's roar;
Arthur, brother, we returned
Back to Desmond lost and mourned.
Thou didst purchase by thy fall
Home for us and peace for all;
Yet, how darkly dawned that day!
Dreadful was the price to pay!
Just as once, through sun and mist
I have climbed the mountain's breast,
Still my gun with certain aim
Brought to earth the fluttering game:
But the very dogs repined;
Though I called with whistle shrill,
Tay and Carlo lagged behind,
Looking backward o'er the hill.
Sorrow was not vocal then;
Mute their woe and my despair;
But the joy of life was flown—
He was gone, and we were lone.
So it is by morn and eve;
So it is in field and hall;
For the absent one we grieve;
One being absent, saddens all.
April 19, 1839.
TO A BLUEBELL
Sacred watcher, wave thy bells!
Fair hill flowers and woodland child,
Dear to me in deep green dells,
Dearest on the mountains wild.
Bluebell, even as all divine
I have seen my darling shine;
Bluebell, even as fair and frail
I have seen my darling fail.
Lift thy head and speak to me,
Soothing thoughts are breathed by thee.
Thus they whisper, 'Summer's sun
Lights me till my life is done;
Would I rather choose to die
Under winter's stormy sky?
Glad I bloom, and calm I fade,
Dews of heaven are round me staid
Mourner, mourner, dry thy tears,
Sorrow comes with lengthened years.'
May 7, 1839.
The busy day has hurried by,
And hearts greet kindred hearts once more;
And swift the evening hours should fly,
But, what turns every gleaming eye
So often to the door?
And then so quick away?—And why
Does sudden silence chill the room?
And laughter sink into a sigh,
And merry words to whispers die,
And gladness change to gloom?
Oh, we are listening for a sound,
We know, shall ne'er be heard again;
Sweet voices in the halls resound,
Fair forms, fond faces gather round,
But all in vain, in vain.
Their feet shall never waken more
The echoes in those galleries wide,
Nor dare the snow on mountain's brow,
Nor skim the river's frozen flow,
Nor wander down its side.
They who have been our life, our soul,
Through summer youth from childhood's spring,
Who bound us in one vigorous whole
To stand 'gainst Tyranny's control
For ever triumphing:
Who bore the brunt of battle's fray,
The first to fight, the last to fall,
Whose mighty minds with kindred lay,
Still led the van in glory's way
The idol chiefs of all.
They, they are gone! Not for a while,
As golden suns at night decline,
And e'en in death our grief beguile,
Foretelling with a rose-red smile
How bright the morn will shine.
No; these dark towers are lone and lorn;
This very crowd is vacancy;
And we must watch and wait and mourn
And half look out for their return;
And think their forms we see.
And fancy music in our ear,
Such as their lips could only pour,
And think we feel their presence near,
And start to find they are not here;
And never shall be more!
June 14, 1839.
And now the house-dog stretched once more
His limbs upon the glowing floor;
The children half resume their play,
Though from the warm hearth scared away;
The goodwife left her spinning-wheel
And spread with smiles the evening meal;
The shepherd placed a seat and pressed
To their poor fare his unknown guest,
And he unclasped his mantle now,
And raised the covering from his brow,
Said, voyagers by land and sea
Were seldom feasted daintily,
And cheered his host by adding stern
He'd no refinement to unlearn.
A silence settled on the room,
The cheerful welcome sank to gloom;
But not those words, though cold or high,
So froze their hospitable joy.
No—there was something in his face,
Some nameless thing which hid not grace,
And something in his voice's tone
Which turned their blood as chill as stone.
The ringlets of his long black hair
Fell o'er a cheek most ghastly fair.
Youthful he seemed—but worn as they
Who spend too soon their youthful day.
When his glances dropped, 'twas hard to quell
Unbidden feelings' hidden swell;
And Pity scarce her tears could hide,
So sweet that brow with all its pride.
But when upraised his eye would dart
An icy shudder through the heart,
Compassion changed to horror then,
And fear to meet that gaze again.
It was not hatred's tiger-glare,
Nor the wild anguish of despair;
It was not either misery
Which quickens friendship's sympathy;
No—lightning all unearthly shone
Deep in that dark eye's circling zone,
Such withering lightning as we deem
None but a spirit's look may beam;
And glad were all when he turned away
And wrapt him in his mantle grey,
And hid his head upon his arm,
And veiled from view his basilisk charm.
July 12, 1839, E. J. Brontë.
Come hither, child; who gifted thee
With power to touch that string so well?
How darest thou wake thoughts in me,
Thoughts that I would—but cannot quell!
Nay, chide not, lady; long ago
I heard those notes in Elbe Hall,
And had I known they'd waken woe,
I'd weep their music to recall.
But thus it was one festal night,
When I was hardly six years old,
I stole away from crowds and light
And sought a chamber dark and cold.
I had no one to love me there,
I knew no comrade and no friend,
And so I went to sorrow where
Heaven only heaven could me fend.
Loud blew the wind. 'Twas sad to stay
From all that splendour round away.
I imaged in the lonely room
A thousand forms, a fearful gloom;
And with my wet eyes raised on high,
I prayed to God that I might die.
Suddenly in the silence drear
A sound of music reached my ear:
And then a voice—I hear it yet—
So full of soul, so deeply sweet;
I thought that Gabriel's self had come
To take me to my father's home.
Three times it rose, that solemn strain,
Then died away, nor came again;
And still the words and still the tone
Dwell in their might when all alone.
July 19, 1839.
How long will you remain? The midnight hour
Has tolled its last stroke from the minster tower.
Come, come; the fire is dead, the lamp burns low;
Your eyelids droop, a weight is on your brow;
Your cold hands hardly hold the weary pen:
Come; morn will give recovered strength again.
No; let me linger; leave me, let me be
A little longer in this reverie:
I'm happy now; and would you tear away
My blissful thought that never comes with day.
A vision dear, though false, for well my mind
Knows what a bitter waking waits behind.
Can there be pleasure in this shadowy room,
With windows yawning on intenser gloom,
And such a dreary wind so bleakly sweeping
Round walls where only you are vigil keeping?
Besides, your face has not a sign of joy,
And more than tearful sorrow fills your eye.
Look on those woods, look on that mountain lorn,
And think how changed they'll be to-morrow morn:
The doors of heaven expanding bright and blue;
The leaves, the green grass, sprinkled with the dew;
And white mists rising on the river's breast,
And wild birds bursting from their songless nest,
And your own children's merry voices chasing
The phantom ghost that pleasure has been raising.
Aye speak of these; but can you tell me why
Day breathes such beauty over earth and sky,
And waking sounds revive, restore again
To hearts that all night long have throbbed with pain?
Is it not that the sunshine and the wind
Lure from itself the woe-worn mind,
And all the joyous music breathing by,
And all the splendours of that cloudless sky,
Regive him shadowy gleams of infancy
And draw his tired gaze from futurity?
August 12, 1839.
Fair sinks the summer evening now
In scattered glory round;
The sky upon its holy brow
Wears not a cloud that speaks of gloom.
The old tower, shrined in golden light,
Looks down on the descending sun;
So softly evening blends with night,
You scarce can say when day is done.
And this is just the joyous hour
When we were wont to burst away
T' escape from labour's tyrant power
And cheerfully go out to play.
Then why is all so sad and lone?
No merry footstep on the stair,
No laugh, no heart-awaking tone,
But voiceless silence everywhere.
I've wandered round our garden ground,
And still it seemed at every turn
That I should greet approaching feet,
And words upon the breezes hung.
In vain, they will not come to-day,
And morning's beams will rise as drear.
Then tell me, are they gone for aye,
Or gleams the sun amongst the mists of care?
Be still, reviving hope doth say,
Departed joys 'tis fond to mourn,
Think every storm that rides its way
Prepared a more divine return.
August 30, 1839.
The wind I hear it sighing
With autumn's saddest sound;
Withered leaves all thick are lying
As spring-flowers on the ground.
This dark night has won me
To wander far away;
Old feelings gather fast upon me,
Like vultures round their prey.
Kind were they once and cherished,
But cold and cheerless now.
I would their lingering shades had perished
When their light left my brow.
'Tis like old age pretending
The softness of a child,
My altered, hardened spirit bending
To meet their fancies wild.
Yet could I with past pleasures
Past woe's oblivion buy,
That by the death of my dearest treasures
My deadliest pains might die;
O then another daybreak
Might haply dawn above;
Another summer gild my cheek,
My soul, another love.
October 23, 1839.
That wind, I used to hear it swelling
With joy divinely deep;
You might have seen my hot tears welling,
But rapture made me weep.
I used to love on winter nights
To lie and dream alone
Of all the hopes and real delights
My early years had known.
And oh! above the best of those
That coming time should bear,
Like heaven's own glorious stars they rose,
Still beaming bright and fair.
November 28, 1839.
Thy sun is near meridian height,
And my sun sinks in endless night;
But if that night bring only sleep,
Then I shall rest, while thou wilt weep.
And say not that my early tomb
Will give me to a darker doom;
Shall these long agonising years
Be punished by eternal tears?
No: that I feel can never be;
A God of hate could hardly bear
To watch through all eternity,
His own creation's dread despair!
The pangs that wring my mortal breast,
Must claim from Justice lasting rest;
Enough, that this departing breath
Will pass in anguish worse than death.
If I have sinned; long, long ago
That sin was purified by woe.
I have suffered on thro' night and day;
I've trod a dark and frightful way.
Earth's wilderness was round me spread,
Heaven's tempests beat my naked head;
I did not kneel; in vain would prayer
Have sought one gleam of mercy there!
How could I ask for pitying love,
When that grim concave frowned above,
Hoarding its lightnings to destroy
My only and my priceless joy?
They struck—and long may Eden shine
Ere I would call its glories mine;
All Heaven's undreamt felicity
Could never blot the past from me.
No! Years may cloud and death may sever,
But what is done, is done for ever.
And thou false friend and treacherous guide
Go sate thy cruel heart with pride.
Go, load my memory with shame;
Speak but to curse my hated name;
My tortured limbs in dungeons bind,
And spare my life to kill my mind.
Leave me in chains and darkness now,
And when my very soul is worn,
When reason's light has left my brow,
And madness cannot feel thy scorn,
Then come again; thou wilt not shrink—
I know thy soul is free from fear—
The last full cup of triumph drink,
Before the blank of death be there.
The raving, dying victim see,
Lost, cursed, degraded all for thee!
Gaze on the wretch—recall to mind
His golden days left long behind.
Does Memory sleep in Lethean rest?
Or wakes its whisper in thy breast?
O Memory wake! Let scenes return,
That e'en her haughty heart must mourn!
Reveal; where o'er a lone green wood
The moon of summer pours
Far down from heaven its silver flood
On deep Eldenna's shores;
There, lingering in the wild embrace
Youth's warm affections gave,
She sits and fondly seems to trace
His features in the wave.
And while on that reflected face
Her eyes intently dwell;
'Fernando, sing to-night,' she says,
'The lays I love so well.'
He smiles and sings, through every air
Betrays the faith of yesterday;
His soul is glad to cast for her
Virtue and faith and Heaven away.
Well, thou hast paid me back my love!
But, if there be a God above,
Whose arm is strong, whose word is true,
This hell shall wring thy spirit too!
January 6, 1840.
Far, far is mirth withdrawn;
'Tis three long hours before the morn,
And I watch lonely, drearily;
So come, thou shade, commune with me.
Deserted one! thy corpse lies cold
And mingled with a foreign mould.
Year after year the grass grows green
Above the dust where thou hast been.
I will not name thy blighted name,
Tarnished by unforgotten shame,
Though not because my bosom torn
Joins the mad world in all its scorn.
Thy phantom face is dark with woe,
Tears have left ghastly traces there,
Those ceaseless tears! I wish their flow
Could quench thy wild despair.
They deluge my heart like the rain
On cursed Zamornah's howling plain.
Yet when I hear thy foes deride,
I must cling closely to thy side.
Our mutual foes! They will not rest
From trampling on thy buried breast.
Glutting their hatred with the doom,
They picture thine beyond the tomb.
But God is not like human kind,
Man cannot read the Almighty mind;
Vengeance will never tortue thee,
Nor hunt thy soul eternally.
Then do not in this night of grief,
This time of overwhelming fear,
O do not think that God can leave
Forget, forsake, refuse to hear!
What have I dreamt? He lies asleep,
With whom my heart would vainly weep;
He rests, and I endure the woe,
That left his spirit long ago.
It is too late to call thee now,
I will not nurse that dream again;
For every joy that lit my brow
Would bring its after-storm of pain.
Besides the mist is half withdrawn,
The barren mountain-side lies bare,
And sunshine and awaking morn
Paint no more golden visions there.
Yet ever in my grateful breast
Thy darling shade shall cherished be;
For God alone doth know how blessed
My early years have been in thee!
If grief for grief can touch thee,
If answering woe for woe,
If any ruth can melt thee,
Come to me now!
I cannot be more lonely,
More drear I cannot be!
My worn heart throbs so wildly
'Twill break for thee.
And when the world despises,
When Heaven repels my prayer,
Will not mine angel comfort?
Mine idol hear?
Yes, by the tears I've poured,
By all my hours of pain,
O I shall surely win thee,
May 18, 1840.
'Twas night, her comrades gathered all
Within their city's rocky wall;
When flowers were closed and day was o'er
Their joyous hearts awoke the more.
But lonely in her distant cave
She heard the river's restless wave
Chafing its banks with dreamy flow,
Music for mirth and wail for woe.
Palm trees and cedars towering high
Deepened the gloom of evening's sky,
And thick did raven ringlets veil
Her forehead, drooped like lily pale.
Yet I could hear my lady sing;
I knew she did not mourn;
For never yet from sorrow's spring
Such witching notes were born.
Thus poured she in that cavern wild
The voice of feelings warm,
As bending o'er her beauteous child
She clasped its sleeping form.
'Why sank so soon the summer sun
From our Zedona's skies?
I was not tired, my darling one,
Of gazing in thine eyes.
'Methought the heaven, whence thou hast come,
Was lingering there awhile;
And earth seemed such an alien home
They did not dare to smile.
'Methought each moment, something strange
Within their circles shone,
And yet, through every magic change,
They were my darling's own.
'Methought—what thought I not, sweet love?
My whole heart centred there;
I breathed not but to send above
One gush of ardent prayer.
'Bless it! My gracious God!' I cried.
'Preserve Thy mortal shrine,
For Thine own sake, be Thou its guide,
And keep it still divine—
'Say, sin shall never blanch that cheek,
Nor suffering change that brow.
Speak, in Thy mercy, Maker, speak,
And seal it safe from woe.
'Why did I doubt? In God's control
Our mutual fates remain,
And pure as now, my Angel's soul
Must go to heaven again.'
The revellers in the city slept,
My lady in her woodland bed;
I watching o'er her slumber wept,
As one who mourns the dead.
August 17 1841.
I see around me piteous tombstones grey
Stretching their shadows far away.
Beneath the turf my footsteps tread
Lie low and lone the silent dead;
Beneath the turf, beneath the mould,
Forever dark, forever cold.
And my eyes cannot hold the tears
That memory hoards from vanished years.
For time and Death and mortal pain
Give wounds that will not heal again.
Let me remember half the woes
I've seen and heard and felt below,
And heaven itself, so pure and blest,
Could never give my spirit rest.
Sweet land of light! Thy children fair
Know nought akin to our despair;
Nor have they felt, nor can they tell
What tenants haunt each mortal cell,
What gloomy guests we hold within,
Torments and madness, tear and sin!
Well, may they live in ectasy
Their long eternity of joy;
At least we would not bring them down
With us to weep, with us to groan.
No, Earth would wish no other sphere
To taste her cup of suffering drear;
She turns from heaven with a tearless eye
And only mourns that we must die!
Ah mother, what shall comfort thee
In all this boundless misery?
To cheer our eager eyes awhile
We see thee smile, how fondly smile!
But who reads not through the tender glow
Thy deep, unutterable woe?
Indeed no darling land above
Can cheat thee of thy children's love.
We all in life's departing shine,
Our last dear longings blend with thine,
And struggle still and strive to trace
With clouded gaze thy darling face.
We would not leave our nature home
For any world beyond the tomb.
No, mother, on thy kindly breast
Let us be laid in lasting rest,
Or waken but to share with thee
A mutual immortality.
Weeks of wild delirium past,
Weeks of fevered pain;
Rest from suffering comes at last;
Reason dawns again.
It was a pleasant April day
Declining to the afternoon;
Sunshine upon her pillow lay
As warm as middle June.
It told her unconsciously
Early spring had hurried by;
'Ah! Time has not delayed for me,'
She murmured with a sigh.
'Angora's hills have heard their tread,
The crimson flag is planted there;
Eldenna's waves are rolling red,
While I lie fettered here!
'Nay, rather, Gondal's shaken throne
Is now secure and free;
And my king Julius reigns alone
Debtless, alas! to me.'
Loud was the sudden gust of woe
From those who watch around;
Rosina turned and sought to know
Why burst that boding sound.
'What then, my dreams are false,' she said,
Come, maidens, answer me;
Has Almadore in battle bled!
Have slaves subdued the free?
'I know it all; he could not bear
To leave me dying far away;
He fondly, madly lingered here
And we have lost the day!
But check those coward sobs, and bring
My robes, and smooth my tangled hair;
A noble victory you shall sing
For every hour's despair!
'When will he come? 'Twill soon be night;
We'll come when evening falls;
Oh! I shall weary for the light
To leave my lonely halls!'
She turned her pallid face aside,
As she would seek repose;
But dark Ambition's thwarted pride
Forbade her lips to close.
And still on all who waited by
Oppressive mystery hung;
And swollen with grief was every eye,
And chained was every tongue.
They whispered nought, but, ' Lady, sleep,
Dear lady, slumber now!
Had we not bitter cause to weep
While you were laid so low?
'And hope can hardly deck the cheek
With sudden signs of cheer,
When it has worn through many a week
The sting of anguish drear.'
Fierce grew Rosina's gloomy gaze;
She cried, 'Dissembler, own
Erina's arms in victory blaze,
Brenzaida's crest is down.'
'Well, since it must be told, Lady,
Brenzaida's crest is down;
Brenzaida's sun is set, Lady,
His empire overthrown!
'He died beneath his palace dome,
True heart on every side;
Among his guards, within his home
Our glorious monarch died.
'I saw him fall, I saw the gore
From his heart's fountain swell,
And mingling on the marble floor
His murderer's life-blood fell.
'And now, 'mid northern mountains lone
His desert grave is made;
And, Lady, of your love alone
Remains a mortal shade!'
September 1, 1841.
In the same place, when nature wore
The same celestial glow,
I'm sure I've seen these forms before
But many springs ago;
But only he had locks of light
And she had raven hair;
While now, his curls are dark as night
And hers as morning fair.
Besides, I've dreamt of tears whose traces
Will never more depart;
Of agony that fast effaces
The verdure of the heart.
I dreamt one sunny day like this,
In this peerless month of May,
I saw her give th' unanswered kiss
As his spirit passed away.
Those young eyes that so sweetly shine
Then looked their last adieu,
And pale death changed that cheek divine
To his unchanging hue.
And earth was cast above the breast
That once beat warm and true,
Where her heart found a living rest
That moved responsively.
Then she, upon the covered grave,
The grass-grown grave, did lie,
A tomb not girt by English wave
Nor arched by English sky.
The sod was sparkling bright with dew,
But brighter still with tears;
That welled from mortal grief, I knew
Which never heals with years.
And if he came not for her woe,
He would not now return;
He would not leave his sleep below,
When she had ceased to mourn.
O Innocence, that cannot live
With heart-wrung anguish long,
Dear childhood's innocence forgive,
For I have done thee wrong!
The bright rosebuds, those hawthorn shrouds
Within their perfumed bower,
Have never closed beneath a cloud,
Nor bent beneath a shower.
Had darkness once obscured their sun
Or kind dew turned to rain,
No storm-cleared sky that ever shone
Could win such bliss again.
May 17, 1842.
How do I love on summer night
To sit within this Norman door,
Whose sombre portal hides the light,
Thickening above me evermore.
How do I love to hear the flow
Of Aspin's water murmuring low,
And hours long listen to the breeze
That sighs in Beckden's waving trees.
To-night there is no wind to wake
One ripple in the lovely lake;
To-night the clouds, subdued and grey,
Starlight and moonlight shut away.
'Tis calm and still and almost drear,
So utter is the solitude;
But still I love to linger here,
And form my mood to Nature's mood.
There's a wild walk beneath the rocks
Following the bend of Aspin's side,
Tis worn by feet of mountain-flocks
That wander down to drink the tide.
Never by cliff and gnarlèd tree
Wound fairy path so sweet to me;
Yet of the native shepherds none,
In open day and cheerful sun,
Will tread its labyrinths alone.
Far less when evening's pensive hour
Hushes the bird and shuts the flower,
And gives to fancy magic power
O'er each familiar tower.
For round their hearths they'll tell this tale,
And every listener swears it true;
How wanders there a phantom pale
With spirit-eyes of dreamy blue.
It always walks with head declined,
The long curls wave not in the wind;
Its face is fair—divinely fair;
But always on that angel brow
Rests such a shade of deep despair,
As nought divine could ever know.
How oft in twilight lingering lone,
I've stood to watch that phantom rise,
And seen in mist and moonlit stone,
Its gleaming hair and solemn eyes.
The ancient men in secret say
'Tis the first chief of Aspin grey
That haunts his feudal home;
But why around that alien grave,
Three thousand miles beyond the wave,
Where his exiled ashes lie,
Under the cope of England's sky,
Doth he not rather roam?
I've seen his picture in the hall,
It hangs upon an eastern wall;
And often when the sun declines
That picture like an angel shines.
And when the moonbeam still and blue
Streams the spectral windows through
That picture's like a spectral too.
The hall is full of portraits rare,
Beauty and mystery mingle there;
At his right hand an infant fair
Looks from its golden frame;
And just like his its ringlets bright,
Its large dark eyes of shadowy light,
Its cheek's pure hue, its forehead white,
And like its noble name.
Daughter divine! and could his gaze
Fall coldly on thy peerless face?
And did he never smile to see
Himself restored to infancy?
Never put back that golden flow
Of curls; and kiss that pearly brow,
And feel no other earthly bliss
Was equal to that parent's kiss?
No; turn towards the western side.
There stands Sidonia's deity!
In all her glory, all her pride!
And truly like a god she seems,
Some lad of wild enthusiast's dream.
And this is she for whom he died!
For whom his spirit unforgiven
Wanders unsheltered, shut from heaven,
An outcast for eternity.
Those eyes are dust, those lips are clay,
That form is mouldered all away;
Nor thought, nor sense, nor pulse, nor breath;
The whole devoured and lost in death!
There is no worm however mean,
That living, is not nobler now
Than she—Lord Alfred's idol queen,
So loved—so worshipped long ago.
O come away! The Norman door
Is silenced with a sudden shine;
Come, leave these dreams o'er things of yore,
And turn to Nature's face divine.
O'er wood and wold—o'er flood and fell,
O'er flashing lake and gleaming dell,
The harvest-moon looks down;
When Heaven smiles with love and light,
And earth looks back so dazzling bright
On such a scene, on such a night
Earth's children should not frown.
February 6, 1843.
ON THE FALL OF ZALONA
All blue and bright in golden light
The morn comes marching on,
And now Zalona's steeples white
Glow golden in the sun.
This day might be a festal day;
The streets are crowded all,
And emerald flags stream broad and gay
From turret, tower and wall.
And hark! how music evermore
Is sounding in the sky;
The deep bells boom, the cannon roar,
The trumpets sound on high.
The deep bells boom, the deep bells clash,
Upon the reeling air,
The cannon with unceasing crash
Make answer far and near.
What do these brazen tongues proclaim?
What joyous fête begun,
What offering to our country's fame,
What noble victory won?
Go, ask that solitary sire
Laid in his house alone;
His silent hearth without a fire,
His sons and daughters gone.
Go, ask those children in the street
Beside their mother's door;
Waiting to hear the lingering feet
That they shall hear no more.
Ask those pale soldiers round the gate
With famine-kindled eye.
They say, ' Zalona celebrates
The day that she must die.'
The charger by his manger tied
Has wasted many a day;
Yet ere the spur hath touched his side,
Behold he sinks away!
And hungry dogs with wolflike cry
Unburied corpses tear,
While their gaunt masters gaze and sigh
And scarce the feast forbear.
Now, look down from Zalona's wall;
There war the unwearied foe;
If ranks beneath the cannon fall,
New ranks for ever grow.
And many a week, unbroken thus
Their troops our ramparts hem;
And for each man that fights for us
A hundred fights for them!
Courage and right and spotless Truth
Were pitched 'gainst traitorous crime;
We offered all, our age, our youth,
Our brave men in their prime.
And all have failed! the fervent prayers,
The trust in heavenly aid;
Valour and Faith and sealèd tears,
That would not mourn the dead.
Lips, that did breathe no murmuring word;
Hearts, that did ne'er complain;
Though vengeance held a sheathèd sword
And martyrs bled in vain.
Alas, alas, the myrtle bowers
By blighting blasts destroyed!
Alas, the lily's withered flowers
That leave our garden void!
Unfolds o'er tower, and waves o'er height,
A sheet of crimson sheen,
Is it the setting sun's red light
That stains our standard green?
Heaven help us in this awful hour!
For now might Faith decay.
Now might we doubt God's guardian power
And curse instead of pray.
He will not even let us die,
Not let us die at home;
The foe must see our soldiers fly
As they had feared the tomb!
Because we dare not stay to gain
Those longed-for, glorious graves,
We dare not shrink from slavery's chain
To leave our children slaves!
But when this scene of awful woe
Has neared its final close,
As God forsook our armies, so
May He forsake our foes!
February 24, 1843.
GRAVE IN THE OCEAN
Where beams the sun the brightest
In the hours of sweet July?
Where falls the snow the lightest
From bleak December's sky?
Where can the weary lay his head,
And lay it soft the while;
In a grave that never shuts its dead
From heaven's benignant smile?
Upon the earth is sunlight;
Spring grass grows green and fair;
But beneath the earth is midnight—
Eternal midnight there.
Then why lament that those we love
Escape earth's dungeon tomb?
As if the flowers that blow above
Could charm its undergloom.
From morning's faintest dawning
Till evening's deepest shade,
Thou wilt not cease thy mourning
To know where she is laid.
But if to weep above her grave
Be such a priceless boon,
Go, shed thy tears in Ocean's wave
And they will reach it soon.
Yet midst thy wild repining,
Mad though that anguish be,
Think heaven on her is shining
Even as it shines on thee.
With thy mind's vision pierce the deep,
Look now she rests below,
And tell me, why such blessed sleep
Should cause such bitter woe?
May 1, 1843.
Thy Guardians are asleep,
So I'm come to bid thee rise;
Thou hast a holy vow to keep,
Ere yon crescent quit the skies.
Though clouds careering wide
Will hardly let her gleam,
She's bright enough to be our guide
Across the mountain stream.
O waken, dearest, wake!
What means this long delay?
Say, wilt thou not for true love's sake
Chase idol fears away?
Think not of future grief
Entailed on present joy;
An age of woe were only brief
Its memory to destroy.
And neither Hell nor Heaven,
Though both conspire at last,
Can take the bliss that has been given,
Can rob us of the past.
Then waken, Mary, wake,
How canst thou linger now?
For true love's and for honour's sake
Arise and keep thy vow.
May 4, 1843.
At such a time, in such a spot,
The world seems made of light,
Our blissful hearts remember not
How surely follows night.
I cannot, Alfred, dream of aught,
That casts a shade of woe;
That heaven is reigning in my thought,
Which wood and wave and earth have caught
From skies that ever flow.
That heaven which my sweet lover's brow
Has won me to adore,
Which from his blue eyes beaming now
Reflects a still intenser glow
Than Native's heaven can pour.
I know our souls are all divine,
I know that when we die
What seems the vilest, even like thine
A part of God himself shall shine
In perfect purity.
But coldly breaks November's day;
Its changes, charmless all,
Unmarked, unloved, they pass away:
We do not wish one hour to stay
Nor sigh at evening's fall.
And glorious is the gladsome rise
Of June's rejoicing morn;
And who with unregretful eyes
Can watch the lustre leave its skies
To twilight's shade forlorn?
Then art thou not my golden June,
All mist and tempest free?
As shines earth's sun in summer noon
So heaven's sun shines in thee.
Let others seek its beams divine
In cell and cloister drear;
But I have found a fairer shrine
And happier worship here.
By dismal rites they win their bliss,
By penance, fasts and fears;
I have one rite—a gentle kiss;
One penance—tender tears.
O could it thus for ever be,
That I might so adore;
I'd ask for all eternity,
To make a paradise for me,
My love and nothing more.
July 28, 1843.
Lie down and rest, the fight is done,
Thy comrades to the camp retire;
Gaze not so earnestly upon
The far gleam of the beacon fire.
O list not to the wind-born sounds,
Of music and of soldiers' cheer;
Thou canst not go—remember wounds
Exhaust thy life and hold thee here.
Had that hand power to raise the sword
Which since this morn laid many low;
Had that tongue strength to speak the word,
That urged thy followers on the foe;
Were that warm blood within thy veins
Which now upon the earth is flowing,
Splashing its sod with crimson stains,
Redding the pale heath round thee growing;
Then Roderic, thou mightst still be turning
With eager eye and anxious breast
To where those signal lights are burning,
To where thy war-worn comrades rest.
But never more—look up and see
The twilight fading from the skies,
That last dim beam that sets for thee,
Roderic, for thee shall never rise!
December 18, 1843.
'Twas yesterday at early dawn
I watched the falling snow;
A drearier scene on winter morn
Was never stretched below.
I could not see the mountains round,
But I knew by the wind's wild roar,
How every drift in their glens profound
Was deepening ever more.
And then I thought of Ula's bowers,
Beyond the southern sea,
Her tropic prairies bright with flowers,
And rivers wandering free.
I thought of many a happy day
Spent in her Eden Isle
With my dear comrades young and gay,
All scattered now so far away,
But not forgot the while!
Who, that has breathed that heavenly air,
To northern climes would come,
To Gondal's mists and moorlands drear,
And sleet and frozen gloom?
Spring brings the swallow and the lark,
But what will winter bring?
Its twilight hours and evenings dark
To match the gift of spring?
No, look with me o'er that swollen main;
If my spirit's eye can see,
There are brave ships floating back again
That no calm southern port can chain
From Gondal's stormy sea.
Oh! how the hearts of voyagers beat
To feel the frost-wind blow!
What follows in Ula's garden sweet
Is worth one flake of snow.
The blast which almost rends their sail
Is welcome as a friend;
It brings them home, that thundering gale,
Home to their journey's end;
Home to our souls whose wearying sighs
Lament their absence drear;
And oh, how bright even winter skies
Would shine if they were here!
December 19, 1843.
This summer wind with thee and me
Roams in the dawn of day;
But thou must be, when it shall be,
Ere evening—far away.
The farewell's echo from thy soul
Should not depart before
Hills rise and distant rivers roll
Between us evermore.
I know that I have done thee wrong,
Have wronged both thee and Heaven;
And I may mourn my lifetime long
And may not be forgiven.
Repentant tears will vainly fall
To cover deeds untrue,
For by no grief can I recall
The dreary word adieu!
Yet thou a future peace shalt win,
Because thy soul is clear;
And I who had the heart to sin
Will find a heart to bear.
Till far beyond earth's frenzied strife,
That makes destruction joy,
Thy perished faith shall spring to life,
And my remorse shall die.
March 2, 1844.
Were they shepherds, who sat all day
On that brown mountain's side?
But neither staff nor dog had they,
Nor woolly flock to guide.
They were clothed in savage attire;
Their locks were dark and long;
And at each belt a weapon dire,
Like bandit-knife was hung.
One was a woman tall and fair;
A princess she might be
From her stately form and her features rare,
And her look of Majesty.
But, oh! she had a sullen frown,
A lip of cruel scorn;
As sweet tears never melted down
Her cheeks since she was born.
'Twas well she had no sceptre to wield,
No subject land to sway;
Fear might have made her vassals yield,
But love had been far away.
Yet love was ever at her feet
In his most burning mood;
That love, which will the wicked greet
As kindly as the good.
And he was noble too, who bowed
So humbly by her side;
Entreating, till his eyes o'erflowed,
Her spirits icy proud.
'Angelica, from my very birth
I have been nursed in strife;
And lived upon this weary Earth
A wanderer, all my life.
'The baited tiger could not be
So much athirst for gore,
For men and laws have tortured me,
Till I can bear no more.
'The guiltless blood upon my hands
Will shut me out from heaven,
And here, and even in foreign lands,
I cannot find a haven.
'And in all space and in all clime,
And through eternity,
To aid a spirit lost in crime,
I have no hope but thee.
'Yet I will swear, no saint on high
A truer faith could prove;
No angel from that holy sky
Could give thee purer love.
'For thee thro' never-ending years
I'd suffer endless pain;
But only give me back my tears,
Return my love again!'
Many a time, unheeded, thus
The reckless man would pray;
But something woke an answering flush
On his lady's brow to-day;
And her eye flashed flame, as she turned to speak
In concord with her reddening cheek.
'I've known a hundred kinds of love;
All made the loved one rue;
And what is thine that it should prove
Than other love, more true?
'Listen! I've known a burning heart,
To which my own was given;
Nay, not with passion, do not start,
Our love was love from heaven:
At least if heavenly love be born
In the pure light of childhood's morn,
Long ere the poison-tainted air
From this world's plague—few rises there;
That heart was a tropic sun,
That kindles all it shines upon;
And never Fejian devotee
Gave worship half so warm as I;
And never radiant bow could be
So welcome in a stormy sky.
'My soul dwelt with me day and night,
She was my all-sufficient light;
My childhood's mate, my girlhood's guide,
My only blessing, only Pride.
'But cursèd be the very earth
That gave that friend her fatal birth!
With her own hand she bent the bow,
That laid my best affections low,
Then mocked my grief and scorned my prayers,
And drowned my bloom of youth in tears.
Warnings, reproaches, both were vain;
What recked she of another's pain?
My dearer self she would not spare;
From Honour's voice she turned his ear;
First made her love his only stay,
And then snatched the treacherous prop away.
'Douglas, he pleaded bitterly,
He pleaded, as you plead to me,
For lifelong chains, or timeless tomb,
Or any, but an exile's doom.
We both were scorned, both sternly driven
To shelter 'neath a foreign heaven;
And darkens o'er that dreary time
A wildering dream of frenzied crime.
'I would not now those days recall;
The oath within that caverned hall,
And its fulfilment; these you know,
We both together struck the blow;
But you can never know the pain
That my lost heart did then sustain,
When, severed wide by guiltless gore,
I felt that one could live no more!
Back maddening thought! the grave is deep
Where my Amedeus lies asleep,
And I have long forgot to weep.
'Now hear me; in these regions wild
I saw to-day my enemy.
Unarmed, as helpless as a child,
She slumbered on a sunny lea;
Two friends; no other guard had she;
And they were wandering on the braes;
And chasing, in regardless glee,
The wild goat o'er his dangerous ways.
'My hand was raised, my knife was bare;
With stealthy tread I stole along,
But a wild bird sprang from his hidden lair,
And woke her with a sudden song;
'Yet moved she not; she only raised
Her lids and on the bright sun gazed,
And uttered such a dreary sigh;
I thought just then she should not die,
Since misery was such misery.
'Now Douglas, for our hunted band,
For future joy and former woe,
Assist me with thy heart and hand
To send to hell my mortal foe.
Her friends fade first, that she may drain
A deeper cup of bitterer pain;
Yonder they stand and watch the waves
Dash in among the echoing caves.
Their farewell sight of earth and sea;
Come, Douglas, rise and go with me.'
The lark sang clearly overhead,
And sweetly hummed the bee;
And softly round their dying bed
The wind blew from the sea.
Fair Surry would have raised her eyes
To see that water shine;
To see once more in mountain skies
The summer sun decline;
But ever on her fading cheek
The languid lid would close,
As weary that such sight should break
Its much-desired repose.
And she was waning fast away—
Even Memory's voice grew dim;
Her former life's eventful day
Had dwindled to a dream;
And hardly could her mind recall
The thought of joy or pain;
That cloud was gathering over all
Which never clears again;
In vain—in vain—you need not gaze
Upon those features now!
That sinking head you need not raise,
Nor kiss that pulseless brow.
Let out the grief that shakes your breath;
Lord Lesley, let it free;
The sternest eye for such a death
Might fill with sympathy.
The tresses, o'er her bosom spread,
Were by a faint breeze blown;
'Her heart is beating,' Lesley said,
'She is not really gone.'
And still that form he fondly pressed,
And still of hope he dreamed,
Nor marked how from his own young breast
Life's crimson current streamed.
At last the sunshine left the ground,
The laden bee flew home,
The deep-down sea with sudden sound
Impelled its waves to foam.
The corse grew heavy on his arm,
The starry heaven grew dim,
The summer night so mild and warm
Felt wintry chill to him.
A troubled shadow o'er his eye
Came down, and rested there;
The moors and sky went swimming by,
Confused and strange and drear.
He faintly prayed, 'O Death, delay
Thy last fell dart to throw,
Till I can hear my sovereign say
The traitors' heads are low!
'God! guard her life, since not to me
That dearest boon was given;
God! bless her sun with victory,
Or bless not me with heaven!'
Then came the cry of agony,
The pang of parting pain;
And he had overpassed the sea,
That none can pass again.
Heather banks around him rose;
Bright and warm the sunshine fell
On that spot of sweet repose.
With the blue heaven bending o'er
And the soft wind singing by,
And the clear stream evermore
On the shady side reclined
He watched its waters play,
And sound and sight had well combined
To banish gloom away.
A voice spoke near. 'She'll come,' it said,
And, Douglas! thou shalt be
My love, altho' the very dead
Should rise to rival thee!
'Now only let thine arm be true,
And nerved, like mine, to kill;
And Gondal's royal race shall rue
This day on Elmor Hill!!!'
They wait not long, the rustling heath
Betrays their royal foe;
With hurried step and panting breath,
And cheek almost as white as death,
Augusta sprang below.
Yet marked she not where Douglas lay,
She only saw the well;
The tiny fountain, churning spray
Within its mossy cell.
'Oh! I have wrongs to pay,' she said;
'Give life, give vigour now.'
And stooping by the water's side
She drank the crystal flow.
And brightly with that draught came back
The glory of her matchless eye
As glancing o'er the moorland track,
She shook her head impatiently.
Nor shape—nor shade—the mountain flocks
Quietly fed in grassy dells;
Nor sound, except the distant rocks
Echoing to their bells.
She turns—she meets the murderer's gaze;
Her own is scorched with a sudden blaze.
The blood streams down her brow;
The blood streams through her coal-black hair,
She strikes it off with little care;
She scarcely feels the flow;
For she has marked and known him too,
And his own heart's ensanguined dew
Must slake her vengeance now!
False friend! no tongue save thine can tell
The mortal strife that then befell;
But, ere night darkened down
The stream in silence sang once more
And on its green bank, bathed in gore,
Augusta lay alone!
False Love! no earthly eye did see,
Yet heaven's pure eye regarded thee,
Where thy own Douglas bled;
How thou didst turn in mockery
From his last hopeless agony,
And leave the hungry hawk to be
Sole watcher of the dead!
Was it a deadly swoon?
Or was her spirit really gone?
And the cold corse beneath the moon
Laid like another mass of dust and stone?
The moon was full that night,
The sky was almost light like day;
You might have seen the pulses play
Upon her forehead white;
You might have seen the dear, dear light of life
In her uncovered eye;
And her cheek changing in the mortal strife
Betwixt the pain to live and agony to die.
But nothing mutable was there!
The face, all deadly fair,
Showed a fixed impress of keen suffering past,
And the raised lids did show
No wandering gleam below
But a dark anguish, self-destroyed at last.
Long he gazed and held his breath,
Kneeling on the blood-stained heath;
Long he gazed those lids beneath,
Looking into Death!
Not a word from his followers fell;
They stood by mute and pale;
That black treason uttered well
Its own heart-harrowing tale.
But earth was bathed in other gore;
There were crimson drops across the moor,
And Lord Eldred glancing round,
Saw those tokens on the ground.
'Bring him back!' he hoarsely said;
'Wounded is the traitor fled;
Vengeance may hold but minutes brief
And you have all your lives for grief.'
He is left alone—he sees the stars
Their quiet course continuing:
And, far away, down Elmor scars
He hears the stream its waters fling;
That lulling monotone did sing
Of broken rock and shaggy glen;
Of welcome for the moorcock's wing,
But not of wail for men!
Nothing of heaven or earth to show
One sign of sympathising woe,
And nothing but that agony
In her now unconscious eye,
To weigh upon the labouring breast
And prove she did not pass at rest.
But he who watched in thought had gone,
Retracing back her lifetime flown;
Like sudden ghosts, to memory came
Full many a face, and many a name,
Full many a heart, that in the tomb,
He almost deemed, might have throbbed again
Had they but known her dreary doom,
Had they but seen their idol then,
A wreck of desolate despair,
Left to the wild birds of the air,
And mountain winds and rain!
For him—no tear his stern eye shed
As he looked down upon the dead.
'Wild morn,' he thought, 'and doubtful noon;
But yet it was a glorious sun,
Though comet-like its course was run;
That sun should never have been given
To burn and dazzle in the heaven
Or night has quenched it far too soon!
And thou art gone—with all thy pride;
Thou, so adored, so dignified!
Cold as the earth, unweeting now
Of love, or joy, or mortal woe.
'For what thou wert I would not grieve,
But much for what thou wert to be;
That life so stormy and so brief,
That death has wronged us more than thee.
'Thy passionate youth was nearly past,
The opening sea seemed smooth at last;
Yet vainly flowed the calmer wave
Since fate had not decreed to save.
'And vain too must the sorrow be
Of those who live to mourn for thee;
But Gondal's foe shall not complain
That thy dear blood was poured in vain.'
Rosina, this had never been
Except for you, my dearest queen!
Except for you the billowy sea
Would now be tossing under me.
The wind's wild voice my bosom thrill
And my glad heart bound wilder still.
Flying before the rapid gale,
Those wondrous southern Isles to hail,
Which wait for my companions free,
But thank your passion—not for me!
You know too well—and so do I,
Your naughty beauty's sovereignty,
Yet have I read these falcon eyes,
Have dived into their mysteries,
Have studied long their glance and feel
It is not love those eyes reveal.
They flash, they beam with lightning shine,
But not with such fond fire as mine;
The tender star fades faint and wan
Before Ambition's scorching sun.
So deem I now—and time will prove
If I have wronged Rosina's love.
November 11, 1844.
I know that to-night the wind it is sighing,
The soft August wind, over forest and moor;
While I in a grave-like chill am lying
On the damp black flags of my dungeon floor.
I know that the harvest-moon is shining;
She neither will soar nor wane for me;
Yet I weary, weary, with vain repining,
One gleam of her heaven-bright face to see.
For this constant darkness is wasting the gladness,
Fast wasting the gladness of life away;
It gathers up thoughts akin to madness,
That never would cloud the world of day.
I chide with my soul—I bid it cherish
The feelings it lived on when I was free,
But sighing it murmurs, 'Let memory perish,
Forget, for my friends have forgotten me.'
Alas! I did think that they were weeping
Such tears as I weep—it is not so!
Their careless young eyes are closed in sleeping;
Their brows are unshadowed, undimmed by woe.
Might I go to their beds, I'd rouse that slumber,
My spirit should startle their rest and tell,
How hour after hour, I wakefully number,
Deep buried from light in my lonely cell!
Yet let them dream on; tho' dreary dreaming
Would haunt my pillow if they were here;
And I were laid warmly under the gleaming
Of that guardian moon and her comrade star.
Better that I my own fate mourning,
Should pine alone in this prison gloom;
Then waken free on the summer morning
And feel they were suffering this awful doom.
A thousand sounds of happiness
And only one of real distress,
One hardly uttered groan;
But that has hushed all vocal joy,
Eclipsed the glory of the sky,
And made me think that misery
Rules in our world alone!
About his face the sunshine glows,
And in his hair the south wind blows,
And violet and wild woodrose
Are sweetly breathing near;
Nothing without suggests dismay,
If he could force his mind away
From tracking farther day by day,
The desert of despair.
Too truly agonised to weep,
His eyes are motionless as sleep;
His frequent sighs, long-drawn and deep,
Are anguish to my ear.
And I would soothe—but can I call
The cold corpse from its funeral pall,
And cause a gleam of hope to fall
With my consoling tear?
O Death! So many spirits driven
Through this false world, their all had given
To win the everlasting haven
For sufferers so divine:
Why didst thou smite the loved, the blest,
The ardent, and the happy breast,
That full of life desired not rest,
And shrank appalled from thine?
At least, since thou wilt not restore,
In mercy launch one arrow more;
Life's conscious death it wearies sore,
It tortures worse than thee.
Enough if storms have bowed his head,
Grant him at last a quiet bed
Beside his early stricken dead;
Even where he yearns to be!
April 22, 1845
Come, walk with me,
There's only thee,
To bless my spirit now.
We used to love on winter nights
To wander through the snow.
Can we not woo back old delights?
The clouds rush dark and wild;
They fleck with shade our mountains bright
The same as long ago,
And on the horizon rest at last
In looming masses piled;
While moonbeams flash and fly so fast
We scarce can say they smiled.
Come walk with me, come walk with me,
We were not once so few;
But Death has stolen our company,
As sunshine steals the dew.
He took them one by one and we
Are left, the only two;
So closer would my feelings twine
Because they have no stay but thine.
'Nay call me not; it may not be;
Is human love so true?
Can friendship's flower droop for years
And then revive anew?
No; though the soil be wet with tears,
How fair soe'er it grew;
The vital sap once perished
Will never flow again.
And surer than that dwelling dread,
The narrow dungeon of the dead,
Time parts the heart of men.
I'm standing in the forest now,
The place, the hour the same;
And here the green leaves shed a glow,
And there, down in that lake below,
The tiny ripples flame.
The breeze sings like a summer breeze
Should sing in summer skies,
And heavenlike wide and tentlike trees
In mingled glory rise.
The murmur of their boughs and leaves
Speaks pride as well as bliss,
And that blue heaven expanding seems
The circling hills to kiss.
But where is he to-day, to-day?
No whisper, not to me;
I will not question, only say
Where may thy lover be?
Is he upon some distant shore,
Or is he on the sea?
Or is the heart thou dost adore
A faithless heart to thee?
The heart I love and you deride
Is changeless as the grave,
And neither foreign lands divide,
Nor yet the ocean's wave.
Then why should trouble cloud that brow
And tears those eyes bedim?
Reply this once—is it that thou
Hast faithless been to him?
I dreamt one dark and stormy night
When winter winds were wild . . .
O hinder me by no delay!
My horse is weary of the way,
And still his breast must stem the tide
Whose waves are foaming far and wide.
Leagues off I heard their thundering roar,
As fast they burst upon the shore;
A stronger steed than mine might dread
To brave them in their boiling bed.
Thus spoke the traveller, but in vain;
The stranger would not turn away,
Still clung she to his bridle rein
And still entreated him to stay.
Here with my knee upon the stone
I bid adieu to feelings gone;
I leave with thee my tears and pain,
And rush into the world again.
O come again! what chains withhold
The steps that used so fleet to be?
Come, leave thy dwelling dark and cold,
Once more to visit me.
Was it with the fields of green,
Blowing flower and budding tree,
With the summer heaven serene,
That thou didst visit me?
No; 'twas not the flowery plain:
No; 'twas not the fragrant air:
Summer skies will come again,
But thou wilt not be there.
How loud the storm sounds round the hall!
From arch to arch, from door to door,
Pillar and roof and granite wall
Rock like a cradle in its roar.
The elm-tree by the haunted well
Greets no returning summer skies;
Down with a rush the giant fell
And stretched across the path it lies.
Hardly had passed the funeral train,
So long delayed by wind and snow;
And how they'll reach the house again
To-morrow's sun perhaps will show.
What use is it to slumber here,
Though the heart be sad and weary?
What use is it to slumber here,
Though the day rise dark and dreary?
For that mist may break when the sun is high,
And this soul forget its sorrow,
And the rosy ray of the closing day
May promise a brighter morrow.
Why is the sun's last ray so cold?
Hush! our smile is as ever glad,
But my heart is growing old.
It was night, and on the mountains
Fathoms deep the snowdrifts lay;
Streams and waterfalls and fountains
Down the darkness stole away.
Long ago the hopeless peasant
Left his sheep all buried there,
Sheep that through the summer pleasant
He had watched with tend'rest care.
Now no more a cheerful ranger
Following pathways known of yore
Sad he stood, a wild-eyed stranger,
On his own unbounded moor.
And first an hour of mournful musing,
And then a gush of bitter tears;
And then a dreary calm diffusing
Its deadly mist o'er joys and cares.
And then a throb and then a lightening,
And then a wakening from above;
And then a star in heaven brightening
The star, the glorious star of love.
Wind, sink to rest in the heather,
Thy wild voice suits not me;
I would have dreary weather,
But all devoid of thee.
Sun set from that evening heaven,
Thy glad smile wins not mine;
If light at all is given,
O give me Cynthia's shine!
Long neglect has worn away
Half the sweet, the haunting smile;
Time has turned the bloom to grey,
Mould and damp the face defile.
But that lock of silky hair,
Still beneath the picture twined,
Tells what once those features were,
Paints her image on the mind.
Fair the hand that traced that line,
'Dearest, ever deem me true';
Swiftly flew the fingers fine
When the pen that motto drew.
Awaking morning laughs from heaven
On golden summer's forests green,
And what a gust of song is given
To welcome in that light serene!
A fresh wind waves the clustering roses
And through the open window sighs
Around the couch where she reposes,
The lady with the dovelike eyes;
With dovelike eyes and shining hair,
And velvet cheek so sweetly moulded;
And hands so white and soft and fair
Above her snowy bosom folded.
Her sister's and her brother's feet
Are brushing off the scented dew,
And she springs up in haste to greet
The grass and flowers and sunshine too.
Had there been falsehood in my breast
No doubt had marr'd my word;
This spirit had not lost its rest,
These tears had never flowed.
I gazed upon the cloudless moon
And loved her all the night,
Till morning came and radiant noon,
And I forgot her light.
No, not forgot eternally
Beneath its mighty glare:
But could the day seem dark to me
Because the night was fair?
July 26, 1843.
Yes, holy be thy resting-place
Wherever thou mayst lie;
The sweetest winds breathe on thy face
The softest of the sky.
And will not guardian angels send
Kind dreams and thoughts of love,
Though I no more may watchful bend
Thy loved repose above?
And will not heaven itself bestow
A beam of glory there,
That summer's grass more green may grow,
And summer's flowers more fair?
Farewell, farewell; 'tis hard to part,
Yet, loved one, it must be:
I would not rend another heart,
Not even with blessing thee.
Go! we must break affection's chain,
Forget the hopes of years:
Nay, grieve not—wouldest thou remain
To waken wilder tears?
This heart burns with thee and me,
Loves it the dreaming day:
But thou shouldst be where it shall be
Ere evening, far away.
- Stanzas 5 and 6 have been crossed out in the manuscript.