Sibylline Leaves (Coleridge)/Lewti

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LEWTI,

OR

THE CIRCASSIAN LOVE-CHANT.

 

At midnight by the stream I roved,
To forget the form I loved.
Image of Lewti! from my mind
Depart; for Lewti is not kind.

The Moon was high, the moonlight gleam
And the shadow of a star
Heaved upon Tamaha's stream;
But the rock shone brighter far,
The rock half sheltered form my view
By pendent boughs of tressy yew.—
So shines my Lewti's forehead fair,
Gleaming through her sable hair.
Image of Lewti! from my mind
Depart; for Lewti is not kind.

I saw a cloud of palest hue,
Onward to the Moon it passed.
Still brighter and more bright it grew,
With floating colours not a few,
Till it reached the Moon at last;
Then the cloud was wholly bright,
With a rich and amber light!
And so with many a hope I seek
And with such joy I find my Lewti;
And even so my pale wan cheek
Drinks in as deep a flush of beauty!
Nay, treacherous image! leave my mind,
If Lewti never will be kind.

The little cloud—it floats away,
Away it goes; away so soon?
Alas! it has no power to stay:
Its hues are dim, its hues are grey—
Away it passes from the Moon!
How mournfully it seems to fly,
Ever fading more and more,
To joyless regions of the sky—
And now 'tis whiter than before!
As white as my poor cheek will be,

When, Lewti! on my couch I lie,
A dying man for love of thee.
Nay, treacherous Image! leave my mind—
And yet, thou dids't not look unkind.

I saw a vapour in the sky,
Thin, and white, and very high:
I ne'er beheld so thin a cloud.
Perhaps the breezes that can fly
Now below and now above,
Have snatch'd aloft the lawny shroud
Of Lady fair—that died for love.
For maids, as well as youths, have perish'd
From fruitless love too fondly cherish'd.
Nay, treach'rous image! leave my mind—
For Lewti never will be kind.

Hush[errata 1]! my heedless feet from under
Slip the crumbling banks for ever:
Like echoes to a distant thunder,
They plunge into the gentle river.
The river-swans have heard my tread,
And startle from their reedy bed.
O beauteous Birds! methinks ye measure
Your movements to some heavenly tune!

O beauteous Birds! 'tis such a pleasure
To see you move beneath the Moon,
1 would it were your true delight
To sleep by day and wake all night.

I know the place where Lewti lies.
When silent night has closed her eyes—
It is a breezy jasmine-bower.
The Nightingale sings o'er her head:
Voice of the Night! had I the power
That leafy labyrinth to thread,
And creep, like thee, with soundless tread,
I then might view her bosom white
Heaving lovely to my sight,
As these two swans together heave
On the gently swelling wave.

Oh! that she saw me in a dream,
And dreamt that I had died for care!
All pale and wasted I would seem,
Yet fair withal, as spirits are!
I'd die indeed, if I might see
Her bosom heave, and heave for me!
Soothe, gentle image! soothe my mind!
To-morrow Lewti may be kind.

(From the Morning Post, 1795.)

Errata

  1. Original: Slush was amended to Hush: detail