The Complete Poems of Emily Brontë/Unpublished Poems
These Poems, the copyright of the Editors, have never before been printed.
Gods of the old mythology
Arise in gloom and storm;
Adramalec, bow down thy head,
Reveal, dark fiend, thy form,
The giant sons of Anakim
Bowed lowest at thy shrine,
And thy temple rose in Argola,
With its hallowed groves of vine;
And there was eastern incense burnt,
And there were garments spread,
With the fine gold decked and broidered,
And tinged with radiant red,
With the radiant red of furnace flames
That through the shadows shone
As the full moon when on Sinai's top
Her rising light is thrown.
Its faded buds already lie
To deck my coffin when I die.
Bring them here—'twill not be long,
'Tis the last line of the woeful song;
And the final and dying words are sung
To the discord of lute-strings all unstrung.
O Adrian, do not harshly sweep
The chords that are quivering to voiceless sleep.
No; but I'd string them once more to a sound
That should startle the nations that rest around.
I'd call forth the glorious chorus again
Which flooded the earth with a bloody main.
Have I crushed you, Percy? I'd raise once more
The beacon-light on the rocky shore.
Percy, my love is so true and deep,
That though kingdoms should wail and worlds should weep,
I'd fling the brand in the hissing sea,
The brand that must burn unquenchably.
Your rose is mine; when the sweet leaves fade,
They must be the chaplet to wreathe my head,
The blossoms to deck my home with the dead.
I repent not—that which my hand has done
Is as fixed as the orb of the burning sun;
But I swear by Heaven and the mighty sea
That wherever I wander, my heart is with thee.
Bitterly, deeply I've drunk of thy woe;
When thy stream was troubled, did mine calmly flow?
And yet I repent not; I'd crush thee again
If our vessels sailed adverse on life's stormy main.
But listen! The earth is our campaign of war,
Her children are rank and her kingdom's spread far.
Who shall say Hah! to the mingling star?
Is there not havoc and carnage for thee
Unless thou couchest thy lance at me?
The heart in my bosom beats high at the thought
Of the deeds which by blended strength may be wrought.
Then might thy Mary bloom blissfully still,
This hand should ne'er work her sorrow or ill,
No fear of grief in her bright eyes should quiver;
I'd love her and guard her for ever and ever.
What! shall Zamorna go down to the dead
With blood on his hand that he wept to have shed?
What! shall they carve on his tomb with the sword
The slayer of Percy, the scourge of the Lord?
Bright flashed the fire in the young Duke's eye
As he spoke in the tones of the trumpet swelling;
Then he stood still and watched earnestly
How these tones were on Percy's spirit telling;
Nothing was heard but his quick short breath
And his fiery heart aroused panting.
The dark wood lay as hushed as death,
Nor drum nor murmur its valley haunting;
Then the low voice of Percy woke,
And thus in strange response he spoke.
Companions all day long we've stood
The wild winds restless blowing,
All day we've watched the darkened flood
Around our vessel flowing.
Sunshine has never smiled since morn,
And clouds have gathered drear,
And heavier hearts would feel forlorn
And weaker minds would fear.
But look in each young shipmate's eyes
Lit by the evening flame,
And see how little stormy skies
Our joyous blood can tame.
No face one same expression wears,
No lip the same soft smile;
Yet kindness warms and courage cheers,
Nerves every breast the while.
It is the hour of dreaming now,
With blue and ghostly gleams,
And sweetest in a reddened glow
The hour of dreaming seems.
I may not trace the thoughts of all,
But some I read so well,
As I can hear the ocean's fall
And sudden surging swell.
The swifter soul is gone before,
It treads a forest wide,
Where bowers are bending to the shore
And gazing on the tide.
And one is there—I know the voice,
The thrilling, stirring tone,
That makes his bounding pulse rejoice,
Yet makes not his alone.
Mine own hand longs to clasp her hand,
Mine eye to meet her eye;
The white sails win Zorayda's strand,
And flout against her sky.
September 17, 1840, E.J. Brontë.
Oh, all the cares these noontide airs
Might seem to drive away,
So glad and bright each sight appears,
Each sound so soft and gay;
And through the shade of yonder glade,
Where thick the leaves are dancing,
While jewels rare and flow'rets rare
A hundred plumes are glancing.
For there the palace portals rise
Beyond its myrtle grove,
Catching the whitest, brightest dyes
From the deep blue dome above.
But has this little lonely spot,
No place among its trees,
By all unknown, by all forgot,
Save sunshine and the breeze?
There's something in this glorious hour
That fills the soul with heavenly power,
And dims our eyes with sudden tears
That centre all the joys of years.
For we feel at once that there lingers still,
Like summer's sunshine o'er a hill,
A glory round life's pinnacle;
And we know, though we be yet below,
That we may not always linger so,
For still Ambition beckons on,
Is this a height that may be won?
And Hope still whispers in our ear,
'Others have been—thou mayst be there.'
Land of the west! Thy glorious skies,
Their dreamy depths of azure blue,
Their sunlit isles of paradise,
That float in golden glory through.
These depths of azure o'er my sight
Their musing moments seem to expand,
Revealing all their radiance bright
In cloud and gorgeous land.
Land of the west! thine evening sun
Brings thousand voiceless thoughts to mind
Of what I've said and seen and done
In years by time long left behind;
And forms and faces lost for ever
Seem arising round me now
As if to bid farewell for ever
Before my spirit go.
Oh! how they gush upon my heart
And overflow my eyes.
I must not keep, I cannot part
With such wild sympathies.
I know it's called a sin and shame
To mourn o'er what I mourn.
Aware her last hour approaching fast,
Upon her dying bed she lies;
Are her wild dreams of western skies,
The shallow wrecks of memories
That glitter through the gloom
Cast o'er them in the cold decay
Which signs the sickening soul away
To meet its early tomb?
What pleasant airs upon her face
With freshening fondness play,
As they would kiss each transient grace
Before it fades away!
And backward rolled each deep red fold,
Begilt with tasselled cords of gold,
The open arch displays;
O'er bower and trees that orb divine
His own unclouded lights decline
Before her glistening gaze.
Sleep, mourner, sleep! I cannot sleep,
My weary mind still wanders on;
Then silent weep—I cannot weep,
For eyes and tears are turned to stone.
O might my footsteps find a rest!
O might my eyes with tears run o'er!
O could the wound but leave my breast
To lapse in days that are no more!
And if I could in silence mourn
Apart from lying sympathy,
And man's remarks or sighs or scorn,
I should be where I wish to be.
For nothing nearer paradise
Ought for a moment to be mine:
I've far outlived such real joys—
I could not bear so bright a shine;
For I've been consecrate to grief—
I should not be if that were gone—
And all my prospect of relief
On earth would be to grieve alone!
To live in sunshine now would be
To live in every sweetest thought;
What I have been and seen below
Must first be utterly forgot.
And I can not forget the years
Gone by as if they'd never been;
Yet if I will remember—tears
Must always dim the dreary scene.
So there's no choice. However bright
May beam the blaze of July's sun,
'Twill only yield another sight
Of scenes and times for ever gone.
However young and lovely round
Fair forms may meet my cheerless eye,
They'll only hover o'er the ground
Where fairer forms in darkness lie;
And voices tuned to music's thrill,
And laughter light as marriage strain,
Will only wake a ghostly chill,
As if the buried spoke again.
All—all is over, friend or lover
Cannot awaken gladness here;
Though sweep the strings their music over,
No sound will rouse the stirless air.
I am dying away in dull decay,
I feel and know the sands are down,
And evening's latest, lingering ray
And last from my wild heaven is flown.
Not now I speak of things whose forms
Are hid by intervening years,
Not now I fear departed storms
For bygone griefs and dried-up tears.
I cannot weep as once I wept
Over my western beauty's grave,
Nor wake the word that long has slept
By Gambier's towers and trees and wave.
I am speaking of a later stroke,
A death the dream of yesterday;
I am thinking of my latest shock,
A noble friendship torn away.
I feel and say that I am cast
From hope, and peace, and power, and pride—
A withered leaf on Autumn blast;
A shattered wreck on ocean's tide,
Without a voice to speak to you
Save that deep gong which tolled my doom
And made my dread iniquity
Look darker than my deepest gloom;
Without companion save the light,
For ever present to my eye,
Of that tempestuous winter's night
That saw my angel Mary die.
How Edenlike seem palace walls
When youth and beauty join
To waken up their lighted Halls
With looks and smiles divine!
How free from care the perfumed air
About them seems to play!
How glad and bright appears each sight,
Each sound how soft and gay!
'Tis like the heaven which parting days
In summer's pride imbue
With beams of such impartial blaze,
And yet so tender too.
Oh, memory brings a scene to mind
Beneath whose noble dome
Rank, beauty, wealth, and power combine
To light their lordly home.
Yet parting day, however bright,
It still is parting day—
The herald of approaching night,
The trappings of decay.
Now—but one moment—let me stay
One moment, ere I go
To join the ranks whose bugles play
On Eversham's woody brow.
One calm hour on the brink of life
Before I dash amid the strife
That sounds upon my ear;
That sullen sound whose sullen roll
Bursts over many a parting soul—
That deep-mouthed voice of war!
Here am I standing lonely 'neath
The shade of quiet trees,
That scarce can catch a single breath
Of this sweet evening breeze.
And nothing in the twilight sky
Except its veil of clouds on high,
All sleeping calm and grey;
And nothing on the summer gale
But the sweet trumpet's solemn wail
Slow sounding far away.
That and the strange, uncertain sound
Scarce heard, yet heard by all;
A trembling through the summer ground,
A murmuring round the wall.
O let me be alone awhile!
No human form is nigh;
And I may sing and muse aloud,
No mortal ear is by.
Away! ye dreams of earthly bliss,
Ye earthly cares begone!
Depart! ye restless, wandering thoughts,
And let me be alone!
One hour, my spirit, stretch thy wings
And quit this joyless sod;
Bask in the sunshine of the sky,
And be alone with God!
Sunday, December 13, 1840.
I have gone backward in the work,
The labour has not sped,
Drowsy and dark my spirit lies,
Heavy and dull as lead.
How can I rouse my sinking soul
From such a lethargy?
How can I break these iron chains,
And set my spirit free?
There have been times when I have mourned,
In anguish o'er the past;
And raised my suppliant hands on high,
While tears fell thick and fast.
And prayed to have my sins forgiven,
With such a fervent zeal,
An earnest grief—a strong desire
That now I cannot feel!
And vowed to trample on my sins,
And called on Heaven to aid
My spirit in her firm resolves
And hear the vows I made.
And I have felt so full of love,
So strong in spirit then,
As if my heart would never cool,
Or wander back again.
And yet, alas! how many times
My feet have gone astray;
How oft have I forgot my God,
How greatly fallen away!
My sins increase, my love grows cold,
And Hope within me dies,
And Faith itself is wavering now;
O how shall I arise!
I cannot weep, but I can pray,
Then let me not despair;
Lord Jesus, save me lest I die,
And hear a wretch's prayer.
December 20, 1841.
IN MEMORY OF A HAPPY DAY IN FEBRUARY
Blessed be Thou for all the joy
My soul has felt to-day!
O let its memory stay with me
And never pass away!
I was alone, for those I loved
Were far away from me;
The sun shone on the withered grass,
The wind blew fresh and free.
Was it the smile of early spring
That made my bosom glow?
'Twas sweet, but neither sun nor wind
Could raise my spirit so.
Was it some feeling of delight,
All vague and undefined?
No, 'twas a rapture deep and strong,
Expanding in my mind!
Was it a sanguine view of life
And all its transient bliss—
A hope of bright prosperity?
O no, it was not this!
It was a glimpse of truths divine
Unto my spirit given,
Illumined by a ray of light
That shone direct from Heaven!
I knew there was a God on high
By whom all things were made;
I saw His wisdom and His power
In all His works displayed.
But most throughout the moral world
I saw His glory shine;
I saw His wisdom infinite,
His mercy all divine.
Deep secrets of His Providence
In darkness long concealed,
Were brought to my delighted eyes
And graciously revealed.
And while I wondered and adored
His wisdom so divine,
I did not tremble at His power—
I felt that God was mine.
I knew that my Redeemer lived,
I did not fear to die;
I felt that I should rise again
I longed to view that bliss divine
Which eye hath never seen,
To see the glories of His face
Without the veil between.
Begun in February—finished November 10, 1842.
My God! O let me call Thee mine!
Weak, wretched sinner though I be,
My trembling soul would fain be Thine,
My feeble faith still clings to Thee.
Not only for the past I grieve,
The future fills me with dismay;
Unless Thou hasten to relieve,
I know my heart will fall away.
I cannot say my faith is strong,
I have not hope my love is great;
But strength and love to Thee belong:
O do not leave me desolate!
I know I owe my all to Thee;
O take the heart I cannot give;
Do Thou my Strength, my Saviour be,
And make me to Thy glory live!
October 13, 1844.
Oppressed with sin and woe,
A burdened heart I bear,
Opposed by many a mighty foe;
But I will not despair.
With this polluted heart,
I dare to come to Thee,
Holy and mighty as Thou art;
For Thou wilt pardon me.
I feel that I am weak,
And prone to every sin;
But Thou who giv'st to those who seek,
Wilt give me strength within.
Far as this earth may be
From yonder starry skies,
Remoter still am I from Thee;
Yet Thou wilt not despise.
I need not fear my foes,
I need not yield to care,
I need not sink beneath my woes;
For Thou wilt answer prayer.
In my Redeemer's name
I give myself to Thee;
And all unworthy as I am,
My God will cherish me.
O make me wholly Thine!
Thy love to me impart,
And let Thy holy Spirit shine
For ever on my heart!
June 1, 1845.
There let thy bleeding branch atone
For every torturing tear.
Shall my young sins, my sins alone,
Be everlasting here?
Who bade thee keep that carvèd name
A pledge for memory?
As if oblivion ever came
To breathe its bliss on me;
As if through all the 'wildering maze
Of mad hours left behind
I once forgot the early days
That thou wouldst call to mind.
I am the only being whose doom
No tongue would ask, no eye would mourn;
I've never caused a thought of gloom,
A smile of joy, since I was born.
In secret pleasure, secret tears,
This changeful life has slipped away,
As friendless after eighteen years,
As lone as on my natal day.
There have been times I cannot hide,
There have been times when this was drear,
When my sad soul forgot its pride
And longed for one to love me here.
But those were in the early glow
Of feelings that subdued by care,
And they have died so long ago,
I hardly now believe they were.
First melted off the hope of youth,
Then fancy's rainbow fast withdrew;
And then experience told me truth
In mortal bosoms never grew.
'Twas grief enough to think mankind
All hollow, servile, insincere;
But worse to trust to my own mind
And find the same Corruption there.
May 17, 1839.
'Tis moonlight, summer moonlight,
All soft, and still, and fair;
The silent time of midnight
Shines sweetly everywhere.
But most where trees are sending
Their breezy boughs on high,
Or stooping low are lending
A shelter from the sky.
And there in those wild bowers
A lovely form is laid,
Green grass and dew-steeped flowers
Wave gently round her head.
May 13, 1840.
A sudden chasm of ghastly light
Yawned in the city's reeling wall,
And a long thundering through the night
Proclaimed our triumph—Tyrdarum's fall.
The shrieking wind sank mute and mild,
The smothering snow-clouds rolled away;
And cold—how cold! wan moonlight smiled
Where those black ruins smouldering lay.
'Twas over—all the battle's madness,
The bursting fires, the cannon's roar,
The yells, the groans, the frenzied gladness,
The death the danger warmed no more.
In plundered churches piled with dead
The heavy charger neighed for food,
The wounded soldier laid his head
'Neath roofless chambers splashed with blood.
I could not sleep through that wild siege,
My heart had fiercely burned and bounded;
The outward tumult seemed to assuage
The inward tempest it surrounded.
But dreams like this I cannot bear,
And silence whets the fang of pain;
I felt the full flood of despair
Returning to my breast again.
My couch lay in a ruined Hall,
Whose windows looked on the minster-yard,
Where chill, chill whiteness covered all,
Both stone and urn and withered sward.
The shattered glass let in the air
And with it came a wandering moan,
A sound unutterably drear,
That made me shrink to be alone.
One black yew-tree grew just below—
I thought its boughs so sad might wail;
Their ghostly fingers flecked with snow,
Rattled against an old vault's rail.
I listened—no; 'twas life that still
Lingered in some deserted heart:
O God! what caused the shuddering shrill,
That anguished, agonising start?
An undefined, an awful dream,
A dream of what had been before;
A memory whose blighting beam
Was flitting o'er me evermore.
A frightful feeling frenzy born—
I hurried down the dark oak stair;
I reached the door whose hinges torn
Flung streaks of moonshine here and there.
I pondered not, I drew the bar,
An icy glory caught mine eye,
From that wide heaven where every star
Stared like a dying memory.
And there the great Cathedral rose,
Discrowned but most majestic so,
It looked down in serene repose
On its own realm of buried woe.
'Tis evening now, the sun decends
In golden glory down the sky;
The city's murmur softly blends
With zephyrs breathing gently by.
And yet it seems a dreary moor,
A dark, October moor to me;
And black the piles of rain-clouds lour
Athwart heaven's stormy canopy.
October 14, 1837.
AT CASTLE WOOD
The day is done, the winter sun
Is setting in its sullen sky,
And drear the course that has been run,
And dim the hearts that slowly die.
No star will light my coming night,
No morn of hope for me will shine;
I mourn not Heaven would blast my sight
And I never longed for joys divine.
Through life's hard task I did not ask
Celestial aid, celestial cheer;
I saw my fate without its mask,
And met it too without a tear.
The grief that prest my aching breast
Was heavier far than earth can be;
And who would dread eternal rest
When labour's hour was agony?
Dark falls the fear of this despair
On spirits born of happiness;
But I was bred the mate of care,
The foster-child of sore distress.
No sighs for me, no sympathy,
No wish to keep my soul below;
The heart is dead in infancy,
Unwept for let the body go.
February 2, 1844.
On its bending stalk a bonny flower
In a yeoman's home-close grew;
It had gathered beauty from sunshine and shower,
From moonlight and silent dew,
Till the tufted leaves of the garden bower
Like a star it sparkled through.
It was a little budding rose,
Round like a fairy globe,
And shyly did its leaves unclose
Hid in their mossy robe,
But sweet was the slight and spicy smell
It breathed from its heart invisible.
Keenly his flower the yeoman guarded,
He watched it grow both day and night;
From the frost, from the wind, from the storm he warded
That flush of roseate light,
And ever it glistened bonnilie
Under the shade of the old roof-tree.
The morning sunshine had called him forth,
His garden was full of dew,
And green light slept on the happy earth,
And the sky was calm and blue.
The yeoman looked for his lovely flower;
There were leaves, but no buds, in the sheltering bower.
The rose was borne to another land,
And grew in another bed;
It was cultured by another hand,
And it sprung and flourishèd;
And fair it budded day by day
Beneath a new sun's cheering ray.
But long lies the dew on its crimson leaves,
It almost looks like tears;
The flower for the yeoman's home-close grieves
Amid a King's parterres.
Little moss-rose, cease to weep,
Let regret and sorrow sleep.
The rose is blasted, withered, blighted,
Its root has felt a worm,
And like a heart beloved and slighted,
Failed, faded, shrunk its form.
Bud of beauty, bonnie flower,
I stole thee from thy natal bower.
I was the worm that withered thee,
Thy tears of dew all fell for me;
Leaf and stalk and rose are gone,
Exile earth they died upon.
Yes, that last breath of balmy scent
With alien breezes sadly blent.
And like myself lone, wholly lone,
It sees the day's long sunshine glow;
And like myself it makes its moan
In unexhausted woe.
Give we the hills our equal prayer,
Earth's breezy hills and heaven's blue sea;
I ask for nothing further here
But my own heart and liberty.
Ah! could my hand unlock its chain,
How gladly would I with it soar;
And ne'er regret and ne'er complain
To see its shining eyes no more.
But let me think, that if to-day
It pines in cold captivity,
To-morrow both shall soar away,
Eternally, entirely free.
Methinks this heart should rest awhile,
So stilly round the evening falls;
The veiled sun shone no parting smile,
Nor mirth, nor music wakes my halls.
I have sat lonely all the day,
Watching the drizzly mist descend,
And first conceal the hills in grey,
And then along the valleys wend.
And I have sat and watched the trees,
And the sad flowers, how drear they blew;
Those flowers were formed to feel the breeze
Wave their light heads in summer's glow.
Yet their lives passed in gloomy woe,
And hopeless comes its dark decline,
And I lament because I know
That cold departure pictures mine.
February 27, 1841.
TO THE HORSE BLACK EAGLE
WHICH I RODE AT THE BATTLE OF ZAMORNA
Swart steed of night, thou hast charged thy last
O'er the red war-trampled plain;
Now fall'n asleep is the battle blast,
It is stilled above the slain.
Now hushed is the clang of armour bright;
Thou wilt never bear me more
To the deadliest press of the gathering fight
Through seas of noble gore.
And the cold eyes of midnight skies
Shall not pour their light on thee,
When the wearied host of the conqueror lies
On a field of victory.
Rest now in thy glory, noble steed;
Rest! all thy wars are done;
True is the love and high the meed
Thou from thy lord hast won.
In daisied lawns sleep peacefully,
Dwell by the quiet wave,
Till death shall sound his signal cry,
And call thee to thy grave.
All her tresses backward strayed
Look golden in the gleam,
But her wan lips and sunken cheek
And full eyes eloquently speak
Of sorrows gathering near,
Till those dark orbs o'erflowing fast
Are shadowed by her hand at last
To hide the streaming tear.
Oh! say not that her vivid dreams
Are but the shattered glass
Which but because more broken gleams
Move brightly in the grass.
Her spirit is the unfathomed lake
Whose face the sudden tempests break
To one tormented roar;
But as the wild winds sink in peace
All those disturbèd waves decrease
Till each far-down reflection is
As lifelike as before.
She thought when that confession crossed
Upon her dying mind,
'Twas sense and soul and memory lost,
Though feeling burned behind.
But that bright heaven has touched a chord
And that wide west has waked a word
Can still the spirit's storm;
Till all the griefs that brought her here,
Each gushing with a bitterer tear,
Round her returning sight appear
In more tremendous form.
In glimpses of a spirit shore
The strength of eyesight to restore
Which coming death denied;
That while the world was lost to her
Her soul might rove a wanderer
Through visional wonders wide.
And strange it is how oft in death,
When reason leaves the brain,
What sudden power the fancy hath
To seize the falling rein.
It cannot hold a firm control,
But it can guide the parting soul,
Half leading and half led,
Through dreams where startling imagery
Hide with their feigned reality
The tossed and fevered bed.
It seems as to the bleeding heart
With dying torments riven
A quickened life in every part
By fancy's force was given.
And all these dim, disjointed dreams
Wherewith the failing memory beams
Are but the bright reflection
Flashed upward from the scattered glass
Of mirror broken on the grass,
Which shapeless figures on each piece
Reveals without connection.
And is her mirror broke at last
Who motionless is laid . . .
The wind was rough which tore
That leaf from its parent tree;
The fate was cruel which bore
The withering corpse to me.
We wander and we have no rest,
It is a dreary way.
What shadow is it
That ever hovers before my eyes?
It has a brow of ghostly whiteness.
November 23, 1839.
His land may burst the galling chain,
His people may be free again,
For them a thousand hopes remain,
But hope is dead for him.
Soft falls the moonlight on the sea
Whose wild waves play at liberty,
And Gondal's wind sings solemnly
Its hollow midnight hymn.
Around his prison walls it sings,
His heart is stirred through all its strings,
Because that sound remembrance brings
Of scenes that once have been.
His soul has felt the storm below,
And walked a realm of sunless snow,
Dire region of most mighty woe,
Made voiceless by despair.
And Harold's land may burst its chain,
His subjects may be free again,
For them a thousand hopes remain,
But hope is dead for him.
Set is his sun of liberty;
Fixed is his earthly destiny;
A few years of captivity,
And then a captive's tomb.
Start not! upon the minster wall
Sunshine is shed in holy calm,
And lonely though my footsteps fall,
The saints shall shelter thee from harm.
Shrink not if it be summer noon,
This shadow should night's welcome be;
These stairs are steep, but landed soon
We'll rest us long and quietly.
What though our path be o'er the dead,
They slumber soundly in the tomb;
And why should mortals fear to tread
The pathway to their future home?
Redbreast, early in the morning,
Dark and cold and cloudy grey,
Wildly tender is thy music,
Chasing angry thought away.
My heart is not enraptured now,
My eyes are full of tears,
And constant sorrow on my brow
Has done the work of years.
It was not hope that wrecked at once
The spirit's calm in storm,
But a long life of solitude,
Hopes quenched, and rising thoughts subdued,
A bleak November's calm.
What woke it then? A little child
Strayed from its father's cottage door,
And in the hour of moonlight wild
Laid lonely on the desert moor.
I heard it then, you heard it too,
And seraph sweet it sang to you;
But like the shriek of misery
That wild, wild music wailed to me.
Through the hours of yesternight
Hall and gallery blazed with light,
Every lamp its lustre showered
On the adorer and the adored.
None were sad that entered there,
All were loved and all were fair;
Some were dazzling like the sun;
Some shining down at summer noon.
Some were sweet as amber even,
Living in the depth of Heaven;
Some were soft, and kind, and gay,
Morning's face not more divine;
Some were like Diana's day,
Midnight moonlight's holy shrine.
Darkness was overtraced on every face,
Around clouded with storm and ominous gloom;
In hut or hall smiled out no resting-place;
There was no resting-place but one—the tomb!
All our hearths were the mansions of distress,
And no one laughed, and none seemed free from care;
Our children felt their fathers' wretchedness;
Our homes, one, all were shadowed with despair:
It was not fear that made the land so sad.
Harp of wild and dream-like strain,
When I touch thy strings,
Why dost thou repeat again
Harp, in other earlier days
I could sing to thee,
And not one of all my lays
Vexed my memory.
But now if I awake a note
That gave me joy before,
Sounds of sorrow from thee float,
Yet still steeped in memory's dyes
They come sailing on,
Darkening all my summer skies,
Shutting out my sun.
The old church tower and garden wall
Are black with autumn rain,
And dreary winds foreboding call
The darkness down again.
I watched how evening took the place
Of glad and glorious day;
I watched a deeper gloom efface
The evening's lingering ray;
And as I gazed on the cheerless sky,
Sad thoughts rose in my mind.
There swept adown that dreary glen
A wider sound than mountain wind—
The thrilling shouts of fighting men,
With something sadder far behind.
The thrilling shouts they died away
Before the night came greyly down,
But closed not with the closing day
The choking sob, the tortured moan.
Down in a hollow sunk in shade,
Where dark forms waved in secret gloom,
A ruined, bleeding form was laid,
Waiting the death that was to come.
In dungeons dark I cannot sing,
In sorrow's thrall 'tis hard to smile;
What bird can soar with broken wing?
What heart can bleed and joy the while?
When days of beauty deck the vale,
Or stormy nights descend,
How well my spirit knows the path
On which it ought to wend.
It seeks the consecrated spot
Beloved in childhood's years;
The space between is all forgot,
Its sufferings and its tears.
Still beside that dreary water
Stood beneath the cold moon's ray,
Thinking on the deed of slaughter
On his heart that darkly lay.
Soft the voice that broke his dreaming,
Stealing through the silent air,
Yet before the raven's screaming,
He had heard regardless there.
Once his name was sweetly uttered,
Then the echo died away;
But each pulse in horror fluttered,
As the life would pass away.
The evening sun was sinking down
On low green hills and clustered trees;
It was a scene as fair and lone
As ever felt the soothing breeze
That cools the grass when day is gone,
And gives the waves a brighter blue,
And marks the soft white clouds sail on
Like spirits of ethereal dew;
Which all the morn had hovered o'er
The azure flowers where they were nursed,
And now return to Heaven once more,
Where their bright glories shone at first.
September 23, 1836.
Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me,
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night's decay
Ushers in a drearier day.
Loud without the wind was roaring
Through the wan autumnal sky;
Drenching wet the cold rain pouring,
Spoke of stormy winter nigh.
All too like that dreary eve
Sighed without repining grief,
Sighed at first, but sighed not long;
Sweet, how softly sweet it came—
Wild words of an ancient song,
Undefined, without a name.
All day I've toiled, but not with pain,
In learning's golden wine;
And now at eventide again
The moonbeams softly shine.
There is no snow upon the ground,
No frost on wind or wave;
The south wind blew with gentlest sound
And broke their icy grave.
'Tis sweet to wander here at night,
To watch the winter die,
With heart as summer sunshine light
And warm as summer sky.
O may I never lose the peace
That lulls me gently now,
Though time should change my youthful face,
And years should shade my brow!
True to myself, and true to all,
May I be healthful still,
And turn away from passion's call,
And curb my own wild will.
There was a time when my cheek burned
To give such scornful words the lie,
Ungoverned nature madly spurned
The law that bade it not defy.
Oh, in the days of ardent youth
I would have given my life for truth.
For truth, for right, for liberty,
I would have gladly, freely died;
And now I calmly bear and see
The vain man smile, the fool deride,
Though not because my heart is tame,
Though not for fear, though not for shame.
My soul still chokes at every tone
Of selfish and self-clouded error;
My breast still braves the world alone,
Steeled as it ever was to terror.
Only I know, howe'er I frown,
The same world will go rolling on.
Mild the mist upon the hill,
Telling not of storms to-morrow;
No, the day has wept its fill,
Spent its store of silent sorrow.
Oh, I'm gone back to the days of youth,
I am a child once more,
And 'neath my father's sheltering roof
And near the old hall door,
I watch this cloudy evening fall,
After a day of rain;
Blue mists, sweet mists of summer pall
The horizon's mountain chain.
The damp stands in the long, green grass
As thick as morning's tears;
And dreamy scents of fragrance pass
That breathe of other years.
July 27, 1839.
The starry night shall tidings bring,
Go out upon the breezy moor;
Watch for a bird with sable wing,
And beak and talons dropping gore.
Look not around, look not beneath,
But mutely trace its airy way,
Mark where it lights upon the heath;
Then, wanderer, kneel thee down, and pray.
What fortune may await thee there,
I will not, and I dare not tell;
But Heaven is moved by fervent prayer,
And God is mercy—fare thee well!
It is not pride, it is not shame,
That makes her leave the gorgeous hall;
And though neglect her heart might tame,
She mourns not for her sudden fall.
'Tis true she stands among the crowd,
An unmarked and an unloved child,
While each young comrade, blithe and proud,
Glides through the maze of pleasure wild.
And all do homage to their will,
And all seem glad their voice to hear;
She heeds not that, but hardly still
Her eye can hold the quivering tear.
What made her weep, what made her glide
Out to the park this dreary day,
And cast her jewelled chains aside,
And seek a rough and lonely way;
And down beneath a cedar's shade,
On the wet grass regardless lie,
With nothing but its gloomy head
Between her and the showering sky?
I saw her stand in the gallery long,
Watching those little children there,
As they were playing the pillars among
And bounding down the marble stair.
August 13, 1839.
The organ swells, the trumpets sound,
The lamps in triumph glow,
And none of all those thousand round
Regard who sleeps below.
Those haughty eyes that tears should fill
Glance clearly, cloudlessly;
Those bounding breasts that grief should thrill
From thought of grief are free.
His subjects and his soldiers there
They blessed his rising bloom,
But none a single sigh can spare
To breathe above his tomb.
Comrades in arms, I've looked to mark
One shade of feeling swell,
As your feet stood above the dark
Recesses of his cell.
September 30, 1837.
What winter floods, what streams of spring
Have drenched the grass by night and day,
And yet beneath that speeding ring
Unmoved and undiscovered lay.
Mute remembrancer of crime,
Long lost, concealed, forgot for years,
It comes at last to cancel time,
And waken unavailing tears.
March 27, 1832.
None of my kindred now can tell
The features once beloved so well
Those dark brown locks that used to deck
A snowy brow in ringlets small,
Now wildly shade my sunburnt neck,
And streaming down my shoulders fall.
The pure, bright red of noble birth
Has deepened to a gipsy glow,
And care is quenched the smile of mirth,
And tuned my heart to welcome woe.
Yet you must know in infancy
Full many an eye watched over me,
Sweet voices to my slumber sung,
My downy couch with silk was hung.
And music soothed me when I cried,
And when I laughed they all replied;
And 'rosy Blanche,' how oft was heard
In hall and bower that well-known word.
Through gathering summers still caress'd,
In kingly courts a favourite guest,
A Monarch's hand would pour for me
The richest gifts of royalty.
But clouds will come: too soon they came;
For not through age, and not through crime,
Is Blanche a now forgotten name;
True heart and brow unmarked by time,
These treasured blessings still are mine.
Ladybird! ladybird! fly away home,
Night is approaching, and sunset is come;
The Herons are flown to their trees by the Hall;
Felt, but unseen, the damp dewdrops fall.
This is the close of a still summer day;
Ladybird! ladybird! haste! fly away!
The grand old Hall is wrapped in shade,
The woodland park around it spread,
In gathering gloom in every glade,
This is the moment, this the hour,
To feel romance in all her power.
Is there not something in a name?
In noble blood, and ancient fame,
Something in that ancestral pride
Which brings the memory of the dead
Sailing adown times hoary tide,
With sacred halos round it shed?
Halos! O far too bright to shine
Round ought whose home is still below,
The starlight thoughts, the dreams divine,
From man's creative soul that flow,
And stream upon the Idols bright
He forms through all his earthly way,
As if grown weary of the light
That smiles upon his own dull clay,
That clay he feels will not for ever
'Cumber the spirit that would soar
To that deep and swelling river
Which bears the life tree on its shore;
And he the hour would still foresee
That sets his inward angel free.
This Hall and park might wake such dreams,
They speak of pride, of ancestry;
Yes! every fading ray which gleams
On antique roof and hoary tree,
Shows in gnarled bough and mossy slate
The grand remains of ancient state.
And thinks he of Patrician pride,
He who sits lonely there,
Where oaks and elms spread dark and wide
Their huge arms in the air?
He wanders in the world of thought,
He's left this world behind;
On that high brow are clearly wrought
A thousand dreams of mind.
And are they dreams of bliss or bale,
Of happiness or woe?
Methinks that face is all too pale
For pleasure's rosy glow.
Methinks the mellowing haze of years
Is over that tall form spread,
And time has poured her smiles and tears
Full freely round that head.
He must have once been beautiful,
The relics still remain;
Though wasted sore with sorrow,
And darkened much with pain.
At morn he sought this lone retreat,
When the sun first crowned the hill,
And now the twilight calm and sweet
Beholds him lingering still.
Yet not to reveries of woe
Clings Percy's wounded spirit so:
Scarce bound by its worn chains of clay,
The soul has almost soared away.
Lightened and soothed insensibly
By the lone home of wind and tree,
Where now his mental broodings dwell,
Vainly would man divine or tell.
His upward look, his earnest eyes,
Seem gazing e'en beyond the skies.
Who calls him back to earth again,
Will bring a wild revulse of pain.
And so thought he who glided now,
With step as light as falling snow,
Forth from the bowery arch of trees,
That whispered in the gloaming breeze.
That step he might have used before
When stealing on to lady's bower,
Forth at the same still twilight hour,
For the moon now beaming mild above
Showed him a son of war and love.
His eye was full of that sinful fire
Which oft unhallowed passions light.
It spoke of quickly kindled ire,
Of love too warm, and wild, and bright.
Bright, but yet sullied, love which could never
Bring good in rising, leave peace in decline,
Woe to the gifted, crime to the giver,
Wherever reposed all the light of its shine.
Beauty had lavished her treasures upon him,
Youth's early sunshine was poured on his brow:
Alas! that the magic of sin should have won him;
But he is her slave, and her chained victim now.
Now from his curled and shining hair,
Circling the brow of marble fair,
His dark, keen eyes on Percy gaze
With stern, and yet repenting rays.
Sometimes they shimmer through the haze
Of sadly gushing tears,
And then a sudden flash of flame,
Speaking wild feelings none could tame,
The dim suffusion clears.
Young savage! how he bends above
The object of his wrath and love,
How tenderly his fingers press
The hand that shrinks from their caress,
And from his lips in Percy's ear
Flow tones his blood congeals to hear.
Those tones were softer than the moan
Of echo when the sound is flown,
And sweeter than a flute's reply
To skylark's song, or wild wind's sigh.
Yet Percy heard them as they fell,
Like the dull toll of a passing bell.
Sternly they summoned him back again
To a dark world of woe and pain.
The blood from his visage fell away
And left it as pallid as coffined clay.
Like clouds the charmèd visions broke,
From his daylong dream at once he woke;
He woke to feel and see at his side
The very man who dared to roll
This dark unsounded briny tide
Over the Eden of his soul;
Who dared to pluck his last fair flower,
To quench his last star's cheering beam,
The last sweet drop of bliss to sour
That mingled with his being's stream.
Up rose he, and stretched forth his hand,
In mingled menace and command;
With voice subdued and steady look,
Thus to the man of sin he spoke:
'What brought you hear? I called you not;
You've tracked me to a lonely spot.
Are you a hawk to follow the prey,
When mangled it flutters feebly away?
A sleuthhound to track the deer by his blood,
When wounded he wins to the darkest wood,
There if he can to die alone?'
Unsought by the archer whose shaft has flown
So right and true to its living mark
That it quenches e'en now the vital spark,
Zamorna is this nobly done,
To triumph o'er your Consort's sire,
Gladly to see his gory sun
Quench in the sea of tears its fire?
But haply you have news to tell,
Tidings that yet may cheer me well;
You've crushed at last my rose's bloom,
And scattered its leaves on her mother's tomb.
I've been wandering in the greenwoods,
And 'mid flowery, smiling plains;
I've been listening to the dark floods,
To the thrush's thrilling strains.
I have gathered the pale primrose,
And the purple violet sweet;
I've been where the asphodel grows,
And where lives the red deer fleet.
I've been to the distant mountain,
To the silver singing rill,
By the crystal murm'ring fountain,
And the shady, verdant hill.
I've been where the poplars springing
From the fair enamelled ground,
While the nightingale is singing
With a solemn, plaintive sound.
December 14, 1839.
May flowers are opening,
And leaves unfolding free;
There are bees in every blossom,
And birds on every tree.
The sun is gladly shining,
The stream sings merrily;
And lonely I am pining,
And all is dark to me.
O cold, cold is my heart!
It will not, cannot rise;
It feels no sympathy
With those refulgent skies.
Dead, dead is my joy,
I long to be at rest;
I wish the damp earth covered
This desolated breast.
If I were quite alone,
It might not be so drear,
When all hope was gone;
At least I could not fear.
But the glad eyes around me
Must weep as mine have done,
And I must see the final gloom
Eclipse their morning sun.
If heaven would rain on me
That future storm of care,
So their fond hearts were free,
I'd be content to bear.
Alas! as lightning withers
The young and aged tree,
Both they and I shall fall beneath
The fate we cannot flee.
January 25, 1839, E.J. Brontë.
That dreary lake, that moonlight sky,
That wan moon struggling through the cloud,
That sullen murmur whispering by
As if it dared not speak aloud,
Fall on my heart so sadly now,
Whither my joys so lonely flow.
Touch them not, they bloom and smile,
But their roots are withering all the while.
Heaven's glory shone where he was laid
In life's decline!
I turned me from that young saint's bed
To gaze on thine.
It was a summer day that saw
His spirit's flight;
Thine parted in a time of awe,
A winter's night.
Upon her soothing breast
She lulled her little child,
A winter sunset in the west
A heavy glory smiled.
I gazed within thine earnest eyes
And read the sorrow brooding there;
I heard thy young breast torn with sighs,
And envied such despair.
Go to the grave in youth's bare woe!
That dream was written long ago.
December 19, 1839.
THAT WORD 'NEVER'
Not many years but long enough to see
No ten can deal such deadly misery
As the dear friend untimely called away;
And still the more beloved, the greater still
Must be the aching void, the withering chill
Of each dark night and dim, beclouded day.
December 23 .
I know not how it falls on me,
This summer evening hushed and lone;
Yet the faint wind comes soothingly
With something of an olden tone.
Forgive me if I've shunned so long
Your gentle greeting, earth and air!
But sorrow withers e'en the strong,
And who can fight against despair?
The busy day has glided by,
And hearts greet kindred hearts once more;
And swift the evening hour should fly,
But what turns every gleaming eye
So often to the unopened door?
June 3, 1831.
Month after month, year after year,
My harp has poured a dreary strain;
At length a livelier note shall cheer,
And pleasure tune its chords again.
What though the stars and fair moonlight
Are quenched in morning dull and grey?
They are but tokens of the night,
And this, my soul, is day.
June 18, 1839.
She dried her tears and they did smile
To see her cheek's returning glow;
Nor did discern how all the while
That full heart throbbed to overflow.
With that sweet look and lively tone,
And bright eye shining all the day,
They could not guess at midnight lone
How she would weep the time away.
I'm happiest now when most away
I can tear my soul from its mould of clay,
On a windy night when the moon is bright,
And my eye can wander through worlds of light.
When I am not, and none beside,
Nor earth, nor sea, nor cloudless sky,
But only spirit wandering wide
Through infinite immensity.
Weaned from life and flown away
In the morning of thy day,
Bound in everlasting gloom,
Buried in a hapless tomb.
Yet upon thy bended knee
Thank the power that banished thee;
Chain and bar and dungeon wall
Saved thee from a deadlier thrall.
Thank the power that made thee part
Ere that parting broke thy heart.
Wildly rushed the mountain spring
From its source of fern and ling;
How invincible its roar,
Had its waters worn the shore.
All hushed and still within the house;
Without, all wind and driving rain;
But something whispers to my mind,
Wrought up in rain and wailing wind:
Never again? Why not again? Never again;
Memory has power as well as wind.
But the hearts that once adored me
Have long forgot their vow;
And the friends that mustered round me,
Have all forsaken now.
'Twas in a dream revealed to me,
But not a dream of sleep;
A dream of watchful agony,
Of guilt that would not weep.
The sunshine of a summer sun
On the proud domes of Elrington
Glows with a beam divinely bright
In one unquenched, unvarying light,
And high its archèd windows rise,
As if to invite the smiling skies;
And proud its mighty columns show
Between them ranked in haughty row;
And sweet and soft the solemn shade
By the o'erarching portals made.
The starry halls of Elrington
May glisten in that glorious sun,
For fêtes and feasts are given to-day
To noble Lords and Ladies gay;
And that vast city of the sea
Which round us lies so endlessly
Has hither sent its proudest train
To worship mirth and fly from pain.
The sunshine of a summer's sun
Glows o'er the graves of Elrington,
Where city walls spread wide around
The flower and foliage laden ground.
All round the hot and glaring sky
Bespeaks a mighty city nigh;
And through each opening in the shade
Palace and temple crown the glade.
So here an oasis stands
'Mid the wide wastes of Egypt's sands.
This glorious vision of a grove,
With flowers beneath and fruits above,
Lies in that city's human sea
Whose streets stretch round so ceaselessly.
Oh! who could pass unnoticed by
This scene of nature's royalty?
Instead of birds to warble there,
Ethereal music fills the air,
Breathed from these halls thrown open wide
To admit the ever-changing tide
Of Earth and Afric's hope and pride.
My ancient ship upon my ancient sea
Begins another voyage—nay, they're gone;
And whither wending? who is gone with thee?
Since parted from thee I am left alone,
Unknowing what my river's fate may be,
Into its native world of tempests thrown.
Lost like the spectres once my eye before,
Which wilder visions muster'd to my mind;
Lost and unnoticed far away the roar
Of southern waters breaking to the wind,
With thunder volleys rolling on before
As the wild gale sweeps wilder on behind,
And every vision of old Afric's shore
As much forgot and vanished out of mind
As the wild track thou makest so long ago
From those eternal waves that surge below.
Gone!—'tis a word which through life's troubled waste
Seems always coming, and the only one
Which can be called the present. Hope is past,
And hate and strife, and love and peace are gone
Before we think them, for their rapid haste
Scarce gives us time for one short smile or groan
Ere that thought dies and new ones come between
It, and our senses like to fleeting suns.
And yet there is—or seems at least to be—
A general scheme of thought that colours all;
So though each one be different, all agree
In the same melancholy shade-like pall;
Even as the shadows look the same to me,
Though cast, I know, from many a varying wall
In this vast city—hut and temple sharing
In the same light, and the same darkness wearing.
Not that I deem all life a course of shade,
Nor all the world a waste of streets like these:
From youth to age a mighty change is made
As from this city to the southern seas.
For years through youthful hope our course is laid,
For years in sloth a sea without a breeze,
For years within some silent, shapeless cave,
Changing, and still the same, yet swiftly passing.
'Tis here 'tis there, 'tis nowhere oh! my soul,
Is there no rest from such a fruitless chasing
Of the wild dreams that ever round me roll?
Each as it comes the parting thought defacing,
Yet all still hurrying to the self-same goal.
Gone! Can I catch them?—but their path alone
Stretching afar toward one for ever gone!
What have I now? The star that brightly shone
Now seems as nothing in the single cloud
That shadows it and long has seemed to hover
O'er all the crossing thoughts that overflowed.
In this wrecked spirit, oh! my ocean,
Well may'st thou plough the deep so free and proud:
Thou bear'st the dim tie of ceaseless dreams,
The fount, the confluence of a thousand streams.
I do not see myself again
A wanderer o'er the Atlantic main;
I do not backward turn my eye
T'wards sleepless sea and stormy sky.
Oh no; these brighter visions vast
To woodlands of the west have past;
And there shall Hesperus arise
To watch my treasure where it lies.
The present lands, the present clime,
Forbid the dreams of olden time;
The present thoughts, the present hour,
Are rife with deeds of sterner power:
And who shall be my leading star
Amid the howling storm of war?
Hark! listen to the distant gun
From the battlefield of Edwordston;
It breaks upon the awful roar
Which stuns my ears around,
And makes the shout of victory
Strike with a hollow sound.
My struggles all are crowned with power,
And Fortune gives a glorious hour.
Men who hate me kneel before me,
Men who kneel are forced t'adore me;
My name is on a million tongues,
The million babble on my wrongs;
And twenty years of tyrant pride
Which strove this modern God to hide,
At last have vanished in the rays
Of his unquenched, unclouded blaze,
Oh! is not Jesus come again
Over his thousand saints to reign?
To free the world from tyrant's chain,
While sin and hatred vainly spit
Their venomed fury, as they sit.
Their reign is past, their power is gone,
For fallen is mighty Babylon.
Through the hoarse howling of the storm
I saw, but did I truly see
One glimpse of that unearthly form
Whose very form is Victory?
'Twas but a glance, and all seems past,
For cares like clouds again return,
And I'll forget him till the blast
For ever from my soul has flown—
That vision of a mighty host
Crushed helpless into earth and Dust!
Forget him! In the cannon's smoke
How dense it thickens, till on high,
By the wild storm blasts roughly broke,
It parts in volumes through the sky
That hurriedly are drifting by,
'Till the dread burst breaks forth once more
With whitening clouds which seem to fly
Affrightened from that ceaseless roar.
And there it lightens! Dashed with gore
The thick of battle rends in twain,
While their rough ranks of bristling steel
Flashing afar, while armed men
In mighty masses loud and vast,
Like the wild waters of the main
Lashed into foam.—When, there again
Yet o'er his face a solemn light
Comes smiling from the sky,
And shows to sight the lustre bright
Of his uplifted eye;
The aimless, heedless carelessness
Of happy infancy
O'er such a solemn fearfulness
Commingling with his glee,
The parted lips, the golden hair;
Oh who so blest as thee!
Memory! how thy magic fingers,
With a wild and passing thrill,
Wake the cord whose spirit lingers,
Sleeping silently and still,
Fast asleep and almost dying,
Through my days of changeless pain,
Till I dream the strings are lying,
Never to be waked again.
Winds have blown, but all unknown;
Nothing could arouse a tone
In that heart which like a stone
Senselessly has lain.
All seemed over—friend and lover
Strove to waken music there;
Flow the strings their fingers over,
Still in silence swept the air.
Memory! Memory comes at last,
Memory of feelings past,
And with an Æolian blast
Strikes the strings resistlessly.
TO A WREATH OF SNOW
O transient voyager of heaven!
O silent sign of winter skies!
What adverse wind thy sail has driven
To dungeons where a prisoner lies?
Methinks the hands that shut the sun
So sternly from this morning's brow
Might still their rebel task have done
And checked a thing so frail as thou.
They would have done it had they known
The talisman that dwelt in thee,
For all the suns that ever shone
Have never been so kind to me!
For many a week and many a day
My heart was weighed with sinking gloom
When morning rose in mourning grey
And faintly lit my prison room.
But angel like, when I awoke,
Thy silvery form, so soft and fair,
Shining through darkness, sweetly spoke
Of cloudy skies and mountains bare;
The dearest to a mountaineer
Who all life long has loved the snow
That crowned his native summits drear,
Better than greenest plains below.
And voiceless, soulless, messenger,
Thy presence waked a thrilling tone
That comforts me while thou art here,
And will sustain when thou art gone.
December 1837, Emily Jane Brontë.
King Julius left the south country,
His banners all bravely flying;
His followers went out with Jubilee,
But they shall return with sighing.
Loud arose the triumphal hymn,
The drums were loudly rolling;
Yet you might have heard in distant din
How a passing bell was tolling.
The sward so bright from battles won,
With unseen rust is fretting;
The evening comes before the noon,
The scarce risen sun is setting.
While princes hang upon his breath
And nations round are fearing,
Close by his side a daggered death
With sheathless point stands sneering.
That Death he took a certain aim,
For Death is stony-hearted;
And in the zenith of his fame
Both power and life departed.
April 20, 1839.
I die, but when the grave shall press
The heart so long endeared to thee,
When earthly cares no more distress
And earthly joys are nought to me,
Weep not, but think that I have passed
Before thee o'er a sea of gloom,
Have anchored safe, and rest at last
Where tears and mourning cannot come.
'Tis I should weep to leave thee here
On that dark ocean sailing drear,
With storms around and fears before,
And no kind light to point the shore.
But long or short though life may be,
'Tis nothing to eternity:
We part below to meet on high,
Where blissful ages never die.
O between distress and pleasure
Fond affection cannot be!
Wretched hearts in vain would treasure
Friendship's joys when others flee.
Well I know thine eye would never
Smile when mine grieved willingly;
Yet I know thine eye for ever
Could not weep in sympathy.
Let us part; the time is over
When I thought and felt like thee;
I will be an ocean rover,
I will sail the desert sea.
Isles there are beyond its billow,
Lands where woe may wander free;
And beloved, thy midnight pillow
Will be soft unwatched by me.
Not on each returning morrow,
When thy heart bounds ardently,
Needst thou then dissemble sorrow,
Marking my despondency.
Day by day some dreary token
Will forsake thy memory,
Till at last, all old links broken,
I shall be a dream to thee.
October 15, 1839.
Shed no tears o'er that tomb,
For there are angels weeping;
Mourn not him whose doom
Heaven itself is mourning.
Look how in sable gloom
The clouds are earthward yearning;
And earth receives them home,
Even darker clouds returning.
Is it when good men die
That sorrow wakes above?
Grieve Saints when other spirits fly
To swell their choir of love?
Ah! no: with louder sound
The golden harp strings quiver
When good men gain the happy ground
Where they must dwell for ever.
But he who slumbers there
His bark will strive no more
Across the waters of despair
To reach that glorious shore.
The time of grace is past,
And mercy, scorned and tried,
Forsakes to utter wrath at last
The soul so steeled by pride.
That wrath will never spare,
Will never pity know;
Will mock its victims maddened prayer,
Will triumph in his woe.
Shut from his Maker's smile
The accursed man shall be;
For mercy reigns a little while,
But hate eternally.
Sleep not, dream not; this bright day
Will not, cannot last for aye;
Bliss like thine is bought by years
Dark with torment and with tears.
Sweeter far than placid pleasure
Purer higher beyond measure
Yet, alas! the sooner turning
Into hopeless, endless mourning.
I love thee, boy, for all divine,
All full of God thy features shine.
Darling enthusiast, holy child,
Too good for this world's warring wild;
Too heavenly now, but doomed to be,
Hell-like in heart and misery.
And what shall change that angel brow,
And quench that spirit's glorious glow?
Relentless laws that disallow
True virtue and true joy below.
I too depart, I too decline,
And make thy path no longer mine.
'Tis thus that human minds will turn,
All doomed alike to sin and mourn;
Yet all with long gaze fixed afar,
Adoring virtue's distant star.
July 26, 1837.
LINES BY CLAUDIA
I did not sleep; 'twas noon of day;
I saw the burning sunshine fall,
The long grass bending where I lay,
The blue sky brooding over all.
I heard the mellow hum of bees,
And singing birds and sighing trees,
And far away in woody dell
The music of the Sabbath bell.
I did not dream remembrance still
Clasped round my heart its fetter chill;
But I am sure the soul is free
To leave its clay a little while,
Or how in exile misery
Could I have seen my country smile?
In English fields my limbs were laid,
With English turf beneath my head;
My spirit wandered o'er that shore
Where nought but it may wander more.
Yet if the soul can thus return,
I need not, and I will not mourn;
And vainly did you drive me far
With leagues of ocean stretched between:
My mortal flesh you might debar,
But not the eternal fire within.
My monarch died to rule for ever
A heart that can forget him never,
And dear to me, aye doubly dear,
Thoughts shut within the silent tomb,
His name shall be for whoso bear
This long sustained and hopeless doom.
And brighter in the hour of woe
Than in the blaze of victory's pride
That glory-shedding star shall glow
For which we fought and bled and died.
May 28, 1839.
Far away is the land of rest—
Thousand miles are stretched between,
Many a mountain's stormy crest,
Many a desert void of green.
Wasted, worn is the traveller,
Dark his heart and dim his eye;
Without hope or comforter,
Faltering, faint, and ready to die.
Often he looks to the ruthless sky,
Often he looks o'er his dreary road,
Often he wishes down to lie
And render up life's tiresome load.
But yet faint not, mournful man;
Leagues on leagues are left behind
Since your endless course began;
Then go on, to toil resigned.
If you still despair, control,
Hush its whispers in your breast;
You shall reach the final goal,
You shall win the land of rest.
The soft unclouded blue of air,
The earth as golden, green, and fair,
And bright as Eden's used to be,
That air and earth have rested me,
Laid on the grass I lapsed away,
Sank back again to childhood's day;
All harsh thoughts perished, memory mild
Subdued both grief and passion wild.
But did the sunshine even now
That bathed his stern and swarthy brow,
Oh did it wake—I long to know—
One whisper, one sweet dream in him,
One lingering joy that years ago
Had faded—lost in distance dim?
That iron man was born like me,
And he was once an ardent boy;
He must have felt in infancy
The glory of a summer sky.
Though storms untold his mind has tossed,
He cannot utterly have lost
Remembrance of his early home—
So lost that not a gleam may come.
No vision of his mother's face
When she so fondly mild set free
Her darling child from her embrace
To roam till eve at liberty.
Nor of his haunts, nor of the flowers,
His tiny hand would grateful bear,
Returning from the darkening bowers,
To weave into her glossy hair.
I saw the light breeze kiss his cheek,
His fingers 'mid the roses twined;
I watched to mark one transient streak
Of pensive softness shade his mind.
The open window showed around
A glowing park and glorious sky,
And thick woods swelling with the sound
Of nature's mingled harmony.
Silent he sat. That stormy breast
At length I said has deigned to rest;
At length above that spirit flows
The waveless ocean of repose.
Let me draw near, 'twill soothe to view
His dark eyes dimmed with holy dew;
Remorse even now may wake within
And half unchain his soul from sin.
Perhaps this is the destined hour
When Hell shall lose its fatal power,
And Heaven itself shall bend above
To hail the soul redeemed by love.
Unmarked I gazed, my idle thought
Passed with the ray whose shine it caught ;
One glance revealed how little care
He felt for all the beauty there.
Oh ! crime can make the heart grow old
Sooner than years of wearing woe,
Can turn the warmest bosom cold
As winter wind or polar snow.
April 28, 1839.
Printed by T. and A. Constable, Printers to His Majesty at the Edinburgh University Press
- An alternative in the author's manuscript runs:—
'Compassion smiles a little while,