Her Island Home
The Authoress Affectionately
The First and Simple Effusions
St. Bride’s Rectory, Isle of Man,
Old King Death
The Fallen Shrine
The Guerilla’s Tale
The Novice of St. Germaine’s
The Rival Minstrels
A Legend of the Isle
The Eastern Grave
The Festal Hour
The Beloved One
The Island Penitent
My Childhood’s Prayer
Lines written in a Church-yard
My Island Home
The Young Consumptive
My Brother’s Grave
Dreams of the Past
To my Sister
The Wandering Bee
The Broken Spell
That Mild Blue Eye
The Lost One
The Worshipped One
The Young Mother
The Young Mourner
The Dying Girl
To the Dead
The Returned Missionaries
A Merry New Year
Old King Death
Leaves have their time to fall,
And flowers to wither at the north wind’s breath,
And stars to set; — but all
Thou hast, all seasons, for thine own, O Death!
Old King Death made a grand promenade
Over the billows and over the earth,
With a spear in one hand, in the other a spade,
He clang’d them together in boisterous mirth;
And he laughed in his glee at the stricken souls
Whom his spear had sped to their destin’d goals;
And he shouted, — “Hurra, hurra, hurra!
Hurra: for old King Death!”
Old King Death held a revel one night,
And he bade to his hall the ghastly train
Of ruthless cohorts, whose power and might
Swell’d his kingdom and lauded his reign;
And he told them all of his wild promenade,
And how he had gather’d from every grade:
And they shouted, — “Hurra, hurra, hurra!
Hurra! for Old King Death!”
Old King Death made a glorious speech,
And he told them all, as now I tell, —
How he had cheated the solemn leech,
And how he had pull’d at the old church bell,
And how he had wrought for the hungry grave,
And how he had brought it the fair and brave:
And he shouted, — “Hurra, hurra, hurra!
Hurra! for Old King Death!”
“I’ve been to the festal hall,” quoth he,
“And pointed my spear at the bounding breast
Of one, in her girlhood’s felicity,
Amid jewels and gems, — and lov’d the best;
And I stole the light from her bright blue eye,
And now she is gone to her home to die!”
Then they shouted, — “Hurra, hurra, hurra!
Hurra! for Old King Death!”
“I’ve won from revels a glorious host! —
I’ve look’d on the laughing, the young, the proud; —
Beautiful things that were priz’d the most
The soonest were snatch’d to the pallid shroud;
And the eye grew dim, and the heart grew cold —
O, mine are the lovely, the brave, the bold!”
And he shouted, — “Hurra, hurra, hurra!
Hurra, for Old King Death!”
“A nation was roaring in horrible sort.
Deafening my ear with a bridal’peal,
Like host of mad devils let out for sport,
Thinking Death had no care for their Charlotte’s weal:
They shouted, and worship’d their future Queen.
But with fatherly forethought I step’d between,
And chaunted, — ‘Hurra, hurra, hurra!
I’ll save her– that will Death!’
“It tortured my car, that turbulent joy,
And mocking, I muttered, ‘O boasted Isle!
One breath of mine will your revels destroy;
Mad mortals! tho’ how ye securely smile,
I hover for ever on sleepless wing,
And I am your Monarch — your despot-King!’
And I shouted, — ‘Hurra, hurra, hurra!
Ye smile! — Hah!’ so does Death!’
“The bride still bloom’d, and the months flew by.
And the bridegroom’s soul was a depth of bliss —
Aye, a world of untroubled ecstacy!
Thinks I, ‘ ‘Twill but heighten the contrast– this:
Tho’ Hope suspendeth her garlanded crown,
One brush of my dark wing will smite her down:’
And I shouted, — ‘Hurra, hurra, hurra!
Proud Hope, retreat from Death!’
“Aye, the months flew by, and the dark hour came
When the nation’s soul on one breathing hung;
Then I gave the mandate that none may name;
And the great nation’s hope-drunk heart was wrung;
For I blighted the bud, and I smote the flower!
Aha, aha! ’twas Death’s revelling hour!
And I chaunted, — ‘Hurra, hurra, hurra!
Your heir is won by Death!’
“Then I smote the pride of the world of song;
I seized my victim in Fame’s proud hour,
And Silence reign’d o’er the vocal throng,
For their syren lay hush’d in my icy bower;
And they plac’d a wreath on that marble brow.
But said I, ‘ What heedeth your songstress now?’
And I chaunted, — ‘Hurra, hurra, hurra!
‘Tis prime good sport for Death!’
“I stole the rose-bloom from a gentle bride,
And wreath’d my pale lilies ‘mid her dark hair,
And carried her off from her lover’s side —
How the poor mad dotard did rave and swear!
But I froze my ice o’er her gurgling breath,
And I made her my own — the Bride of Death!”
Then he shouted, — “Hurra, hurra, hurra!
Hurra! for Old King Death!”
“I journeyed to peaceful household homes,
Where I threw my spear ‘mid old and young:
Hurra, my brave boys! — in the island domes
Such requiem to Death was never sung.
But where hearts were weary, and pin’d to die,
O think ye not there we were more than shy?”
And lie shouted, — “Hurra, hurra, hurra!
Hurra! for wily Death!”
“I went to a cottage among green hills
Where ten young urchins were busy at play,
Undreaming of life’s distracting ills,
But deeming it all a fair holiday:
So says I, ‘ Young imps, I seek your mother:
I’m not King Death, if she rears another!’
And he shouted, — “Hurra, hurra, hurra!
Hurra! for bold King Death!”
“I marked her well for the coming hour;
And when that she gave them another babe
I level’d my spear with desperate power,
And quickly had work for my good old spade;
And I bade the sexton make goodly room,
For I had resolved on the baby’s doom:”
Then all shouted, — “Hurra, hurra, hurra!
Hurra! for Old King Death!”
“Poor soul! she had fixed the bridal day
Of her first born daughter. Aha! I ween
She thought it hard to be snatched away,
And faith! such another is seldom seen:
But I mock’d the grief of the meek blue eye,
And says I, ‘ Old Death, she’s your’s by-and-bye!’
Then they shouted, — “Hurra, hurra, hurra!
Hurra! for courtier Death!”
“I saw an old couple, O doting fond
Of a goodly stripling — a noble boy;
And they seemed to heed not ought beyond
That beautiful clay, that most brittle toy;
So I said to myself, ‘ ‘Tis worse than bad;
Why I myself will take charge of the lad.’
And I shouted,– ‘Hurra, hurra, hurra!
Ho! yield your boy to Death!’
“And I tip’ d him a touch. — How he did shrink!
And how they writh’d as I made him my own!
O, how they did wail then! — and, only think,
Upbraided your Monarch upon his throne,
Daring to ask, — ‘Why come for another?
Afric’s earth is just laid o’er his brother.’
But I shouted, — ‘Hurra, hurra, hurra!
Not half enough for Death!’
“Then I next made friends with a widow’s son,
An idolised being — an only one,
Whilst she was dreaming her sorrowings done —
Aye, dreaming that sorrow would soon be gone
And past, — in his promise; her hope, her joy;
So I took good aim at the widow’s boy;
And I shouted, — ‘Hurra, hurra, hurra!
Good speed to Old King Death!’
A youth came back from the far-off seas
To his native isle, for an island bride,
(Oh, I revel to plague such folks as these!)
And his heart was hounding in hope and pride:
But thinks I, ‘Oh, ho! he’ll go wailing hack
With a sadder brew o’er his ocean track;’
And I shouted, — ‘Hurra, hurra, hurra ‘
Who’ll conquer? — You or Death?’
“He came to his childhood’s cherish’d love,
And he won the vows and the love of years;
But I knew marriage was made above —
For him there was nothing writ there but tears;
so I crept to her heart on evening’s air,
And the lovely betroth’ d grew still more fair,
As I chaunted, — ‘ Hurra, hurra, hurra!
Hurra! you must be Death’s!’
“Then, loveliest, fly not, for you are mine;
Lover, to thy breast hope not to press her; —
dream not, fond lover, to call her thine; —
Priest, at the altar thou shalt not bless her; —
Banners, your gayest float; — bright pennons wave;-
I bear her my bride to our home — the grave!’
And I shouted, — ‘Hurra, hurra, hurra!
Hurra! who’ll cope with Death?’
“Then they laid her low, — aye, they laid her low;
And did I not glory over my prize
As they placed the earth o’er her breast of snow,
And envied my throne in her radiant eyes!
But I bade the youth from my treasure depart,
So he turn’d and fled with a broken heart,
Whilst I shouted, — ‘Hurra, hurra, hurra!
Hurra! for conquering Death!’
“Then I marked two unrivall’d queens of song,
Whose beautiful harpings enthrall’ d the world;
So thinks I, ‘ This doth me a grievous wrong;
Am I unheeded, despised, hurled
From my ancient realm, and by woman’s verse?
I shall give them a grave and a plumed hearse!’
So I shouted, — ‘Hurra, hun; a, hurra!
Sweethearts, sing loud for Death!’
“So I bade the Sorrows do well their part.
As they chuckl’d in glee to hear them sing;
And I planted my minions in each true heart,
For woman’s breast is a delicate thing:
And I, their lover, stood fondly by,
And I read my hopes in each lightning eye:
And I chaunted, — ‘Hurra, hurra, hurra!
This trio pleaseth Death!’
“They pass’d, — they faded! I heard the last sigh:
‘ Affection’s harp’ grew a desolate thing;
Then all earth’s children, with watery eye.
Took desperate draughts from grief’s bitter spring.
How I laugh’d o’er Felicia’s broken spell!
O, my cohorts had done my bidding well!
So I shouted, — ‘Hurra, hurra, hurra!
Success to ye and Death I
“And then the other — the weaker heart,
‘Neath the fiery sun of a burning sky, —
Men dream’d not that she should soon depart
So suddenly into eternity.
I mocked the deep anguish, the wond’ring grief;
Ha, ha! — Wot ye not that the ‘bright are brief?’
O, I shouted, — ‘Hurra, hurra, hurra!
The secret is Old Death’s!’
“Then off I went to the dark blue seas,
To gambol awhile with the winds and waves;
But lots of ridiculous things like these
One sees in the depths of old Ocean’s caves.
Where oft I’ve lurk’d in a comical sort,
Like a school-boy lying in wait for sport; —
Aye, shouting — ‘ Hurra, hurra, hurra!
Here’s prime good sport for Death!’
“But I bid ye all, on the morrow’s night.
To revel with me in my kingly hall,
And then shall ye hear the refin’d delight
Of your monarch’s mad ocean festival.
Good sooth, had ye heard the exquisite groans,
And the poor drowning wretches’ bubbling moans.
Ye would shout for ever, — ‘Hurra, hurra!
And laud me, prime Old Death!’
Tho’, — would ye believe it? — a woman dared
To brave me upon my old ocean throne:
Fearless she faced me, undaunted, unscared,
And bore off the prize I had deem’d my own.
Most astounded, I let go my prey, good friends,
But think ye not Death shall have large amends?
chaunt me a loud and long Hurra!
Ye shall not blush for Death!”
Good sooth, but the hideous things grew proud
To think they were lords of all human breath;
And they chorus’d like mad fiends, long and loud,
Dancing in rings round the old monster Death:
And away they went hobbling round and round.
Till the dry bones rattle and skulls rebound,
Shouting, — “Hurra, hurra, hurra!
We laud thee, prime Old Death!”
The Fallen Shrine
Telling a tale of eld, — a cold, true tale
Of time. — Sad fugitive!
A stranger came unto the roofless walls
And mouldering aisles of that deserted shrine,
What time the sun was sinking to its couch
In the deep crimson’d west; when the calm eve,
The summer Sabbath eve, was pouring forth
Its floods of parting incense to the soul
Of Nature’s worshipper; and balmiest hymn
Of fervent adoration rose to heaven,
And earth was bright with mellow’ d radiance,
The gorgeous splendour of that sunset hour.
The holy hush of Sabbathean calm.
That intense breathlessness, pervaded all
With a most breathless feeling, so profound.
That earth’s cold thoughts were blasphemies too dull
To mingle with its worship. And the soul
Flew beyond earthly things, — aye, far beyond
The realm of planets, to the Almighty’s throne,
And conjured up the buried forms of old
To meet its mad pulsations in the skies.
O, there is gladness in a summer’s eve,
A silent homage, redolent of heaven,
Which stirreth up within the earth-bound heart
Its principles of never-dying thought, —
Aye, waketh up its heavenly origin,
Its fervent aspirations for a home
Where Sabbaths are eternal. Lovely home!
Beautiful, shadowy in thy far-off bliss.
* * * * * * *
There came a stranger, on this Sabbath eve,
To gaze upon that shatter’d monument
Of the old days gone by; but it was lone,
Deserted, fallen, — utter solitude!
There were no worshippers where once glad hearts
Were pealing Hallelujahs. Silence now
Dwelt with the solitude! The old gray man1
Was gather’d to his fathers, — aye, he slept
Calmly amid his household. One by one,
He laid them in the churchyard. The gay hand
Of young rejoicing beings they did pass
Briefly and uncomplainingly away,
Unto an early grave amid the plains.
Consumption smil’d with her death lightnings
From the blue sparkling eye, and the pale cheek
Vermeil’d beneath them as the ocean shell. —
Yea, those young spirits in their purity
Flash’ d forth such cornseations ere their close,
As made hearts dream of years of blessedness.
But the Invisible had even then raised
Death’s cold extinguisher, and they went out
In their bright spring of glory. Human hopes
And flowers have a brief lifetime: — and the power
That withers violets had breath’d on them,
And they were laid in their unshadow’d youth
Beside their own dear moss-clad sanctuary.
So slept their sainted mother far away
Amid the uplands of another home,
Resting in hope to rise at God’s right hand.
The pious man — that old bereaved gray man,
Liv’d on in thankfulness amid his flock.
Time-worn and shatter’d as that temple was
In its decaying glory, ’twas to him
A dear companion in life’s wilderness,
A link which bound him to the present hour
With memories of the past; and there came hope
That he would fall and pass with it away.
The old church moulder’d, and the wintry winds
In warring o’er it shook its feeble strength;
That hoary record of primeval times .
Totter’d for very age, — yea, the bright day
Stream’d thro’ its naked roof; yet the old man
Pray’d in the ruin’d temple of his heart.
A new fane rose. Proudly it tower’d on high
For a new generation; proudly smil’d
Above the fallen. The old man died then, —
Died, full of years and grace; for ’twas not meet
That he should linger on, and that gray shrine
Deserted, desolated, and forgot!
The stranger gaz’d, and ponder’d musingly
O’er those old memories of buried things,
Till fancy’s car could conjure up past tones,
And fancy’s eye could conjure up past forms
Where venomous weeds were rampant, and where shone
Sunset o’er desolation!
There did come
A solitary mavis from its nest
Amid the hazels of the darkening glen.
And perch’d upon that ruin’d pinnacle. —
It did attune its little mellow throat
To such a flood of liquid minstrelsy,
A hymn of adoration so intense,
That human hearts could not but blend with it
In fervent worship and humility.
Beautiful emblem of the Christian’s hope,–
Beautiful emblem of the Christian’s soul
Soaring to heaven on the strong wings of Faith,
From out the valley of deep shadowing;
The set of earthly suns, the very graves
Of earthly happiness, the very stake,
The prize of martyrs; — aye, there Faith could hymn
Amid the ashes of the blazing pyre!
The stranger turned, and went his wanderings,
That scene engraven deeply on his heart.
He pass’d away, far o’er the channel wave;
Yet, when he wakes to watch with memory
In the deep silent caverns of the brain,
They hold a high and holy festival
O’er the departed glories of the earth;
And in the magic mirror of the past
Rises that simple, old Manks Rectory,2
With its deserted shrine!
1 The late Rev. Hugh Stowell, the revered and lamented biographer of Bishop Wilson.
THE GUERILLA’S TALE
The seven-fold shield of Ajax cannot keep
The battery from my heart. O, cleave my sides,
Heart; once be stronger than thy continent;
Crack thy frail case!
What recks it that my brain doth burn!
What recks it that my heart is broken!
To me hope never may return —
Such the dark sentence fate hath spoken:
My all is centred in the grave,
My lov’d — “my beautiful — my brave!”
But, gen’rous Briton, were that all,
I’d bless tin’ turf that they lie under
Had they but died on peaceful bed, —
Had pure affection fondly shed
Its holiesl tears above their slumber, —
Had friendship’s hand but borne the pall, —
Oh! I hail ask’d no dearer lot
Than gazing on their resting spot,
Deeming my most belov’d were given
A spotless offering unto heaven.
But, stranger, — Oh! my whirling brain! —
I feel the frightful past again;
I feel — Oh! yes, I feel too sadly
Conflicting passions burning madly,
And vengeance ever hurrying on
To riot in the foeman’s blood:
Oh! can I ever shrink from one
Deep vow pledg’d in Portalgre’s wood?
Pledg’d? — ay, by every streaming vein,
And scenes that never quit my brain!
They had no mercy — not for me:
My vow! — aha! — ’tis full of glee
To revel on their dying groans; —
The richest music hath not tones
More sweet to my devouring ear;
Nor sigh, nor groan, nor prayer, nor tear
Shall blunt my firm resolve; — for I
Am sworn to vengeance till I die.
Briton, — nay, blench not! — mine’s a tale
So very madly frenzy-fraught,
That manhood’s bosom should not quail
To give my foe the wreck I wrought.
And. if for me those big tears start.
Oh! “nerve thy arm and steel thine heart.”
And rush like tiger on the foe,
For he hath wrought me deathless woe!
Once, but — God sooth me! — now ’tis o’er, —
That heaven on earth is mine no more.
Yet, stranger, once a home had I,
Beneath our bright and beauteous sky,
So very blest, so calm, so sweet, —
Oh! ’twas a holy, happy shrine,
With terrac’d roof and trellis’ d vine —
A mountain valley’s lone retreat:
There were delicious orangeries
And avenues of pale cork trees,
And all fruits of our sunny clime,
With bowers of orange, citron, lime,
And sparkling fountains in the shade
By ever-fragrant myrtle made.
And oh! there was one myrtle bower
Where we have linger’d many an hour,
Forgetful that beneath the sky
Others there breath’d save she and I.
Be still, rebellious heart, be still!–
I have a work to do, — and will!
In that sweet home a couple smil’d
Upon their only, happy child.
Oh! for that young son’s weal, fond prayers
Wore daily offer’d; him their cares,
Their Tears, hopes, wishes centred on.
Parents, I live! — and ye are gone!
And there, beneath their fost’ring shade,
Bloom’d an angelic Spanish maid,
A sweet and gentle orphan, whom
Their love had rescued from the tomb.
And shelter’d in their peaceful bower,
Watching her beauties hour to hour
Richly and tranquilly expand:
I know that Britain’s maids are fair,
With soft blue eyes and golden hair, —
Vet, stranger, in my warmer land
Their dark eyes glow with deeper feeling;
And the dear blush of love will break
Thro’ the clear olive of each cheek,
Most irresistibly appealing
To every heart that is not stone —
And such — Oh! such was mine — my own!
Ay, loveliest of Spain’s noble race,
Bright queen of every Love and grace,
With every trace of lineage high,
From high heart and sweet dignity,
And glance and bearing stately proud,
And the dear fairy fool and hand,
All spake the race born to command,
Pure and beyond the common crowd.
The lustre of her rich dark eye
Was of the spirit world on high, —
Such brilliance, such intensity,
Such passion — warmth — ay. fervency
And she for years bloom’d by my side.
My lov’d — my chosen one — my bride!
My very soul to her was given,
And earth with her seem’d more than heaven
Oh! in that eye’s pure pearly tear
Read I a tale to lovers dear; —
But what avails it now to tell
Of joys that have rung out their knell
Of more than human, faith and trust.
And love and hope enshrined in dust!
That idol was a thing of clay; —
Those joys– what was more false than they?
Oh! bitterest of mortal woe
Is their’s who make their heaven below
And tenfold bitterness was mine!
But now I am alone on earth,
The last of an unsullied line,
To weep above my country’s shrine,
And desecrate my very birth!
Oh God! if there be woes that wring
Forgiveness from an angry heaven,
Forgive — forgive a guilty thing
To the last verge of madness driven;
And grant me, in thy radiant sphere,
A place where mine own murder’d arc!
But briefly, stranger, she was mine;
Our parents blessed at holy shrine
And gave — Oh! with unbounded charms —
Their angel Inez to my arms.
I ask’d of heaven no more below.
Oh, too sincerely blest was I!
If bliss must diminution know —
If days must bring to true hearts woe —
If pleasures must grow dim and die,
None, none could be so blest in life —
I had my parents — had my wife!
A day of sore bereavement came
To sear my breast and blast my name.
Great heaven, explain! — What power of hell
Despatch’d the murderers, fierce and fell,
To waste our lands and wreck our homes,
And revel in our sacred domes?
Alas, ill-fated Portugal
Fell crush’d within their fiendish thrall!
On, on the ruffians came to blast
Each guardian Sierra they pass’d.
Our force was small, our hearts were brave;
We dearly held us to the slave —
The monster — demon Corsican.
Our homes were trampled to the earth,
The fair proud freeholds of our birth;
Our blood in gushing torrents ran;
Yet dealt we vengeance on the foe,
And laid full many a craven low.
What boots it now of that to speak! —
They thousands strong — we few and weak;
They drag’d my worship’d father bound,
And bade him kneel on his own ground; —
(A goodly mark, Senhor, was he
To prove the Frenchman’s musketry;)
They bade him kneel — the hounds of blood!
As proudly in his home they stood.
My father kneel to them! ‘Twas vain;
He stood erect among his slain.
I saw the level’d musketry,
I heard the exulting burst of glee,
I heard — Great heaven! where slept thy thunders?
Oh! madness! — agony! — my brain
Burn’d with distraction; — but ’twas vain!
I was enchained, yet wrought I wonders;
I gnashed my teeth, I rav’d, I swore
A gentle breeze began to play,
And swept the curling smoke away;
I saw him writhing in his gore —
His gray hair soil’d ‘– I saw no more!
* * * * * *
From a long, deep, and blessed swoon
I raised my bruised and bleeding head;
But conscious horror came too soon,
I lived alone amid the dead.
The brutal monsters all were gone
O’er their black path of murder on;
And not a sound and not a breeze
Came sighing thro’ the myrtle trees.
With stiffening wounds, and racking pain,
I sought my threshold once again;
I sought my mother — sought my bride —
My Inez! — my ador’d — my pride!
Briton, then came the deadliest thrust
That e’er laid sinner in the dust.
* * * * * *
I dug a grave, the moon shone bright,
I made it deep, and long, and wide,
And there, alone at dead midnight.
Beneath that pure and lovely light,
I laid wife — mother — side by side!
There was no trace, no bloody token,
Whereby to read my mother’s fate;
Her gentle heart had quickly broken
When that she was so desolate; —
Ay, heaven to yield its woes relief
Permitted it to burst with grief.
But Inez! — her, my gentle one!
Oh, Inez! — art thou ever gone?
Oh, Inez! — beautiful and good —
Last flower of brave Don Carlos’ blood —
Oh, Inez! — my own lovely wife —
Sole joy — sole treasure of my life —
And wilt thou come no more to me?
And must my path in darkness be?
Oh! Inez, Inez! — sweet — mine own! —
Pure spirit that from me hast flown!
* * * * *
I drew the poniard from her breast,
My lips unto that wound I prest;
And with the same cold cruel steel
I cross’d my brow with blood, and swore
By mine own soul’s immortal weal,
To riot in the murderer’s gore!
And from her high proud brow, so pale,
Reft I a tress of raven hair: —
Oh! Briton, Briton! thou wouldst quail
To know of all I pledg’d her there!
But in her blood that braid deep dyed
Now rests upon this throbbing side,
Upon my torn, my weary heart,
From whence it never more shall part.
I cover’d them with myrtles there,
And laurels and all shrubs that were
Uptorn from each beloved bower —
Torn as my heart’s sweet blighted flower:
And then I placed the earth above
Over each pure and pallid brow, —
My only earthly all of love, —
And bade death’s portals faithful prove
As I should to my blood-sworn vow;
And well, .Senhor, the clay I prest
Upon my darling’s bleeding breast,
Lest that the blood-hounds should rush back
Upon their mad insatiate track.
And tear them from the very grave:
And not one burning tear I gave
Nor sigh, nor groan, nor human token
Whereby to read a true heart broken.
My father! — Oh! ’twas very vain
To seek for his dear honour’ d clay;
He sleeps amid his warriors slain,
And with their high hearts must remain
Until the great avenging day.
Be still, rebellious heart! — thy hour
For doom and suffering comes with power:
Full dearly shall the foeman pay
The horrors of that dismal day.
Oh, trust me, I shall well make good
The vow of dark Portalgre’s wood!
Ay, stranger, thou mayst deem I rave —
In very sooth my brain is burning.
Oh! wretched country! to your grave
A glorious, precious boon I gave —
Gave to your bosom’s cold inurning.
And am I not a wond’rous man
To live beneath so black a ban,
To move with such a cheerful bearing,
Fresh from a fate so madly searing?
Trust me, altho’ perchance grown pale,
Mine is not craven brow to quail:
This arm is sinewy yet, and strong;
Vengeance must prove its force ere long!
Vengeance? — ay, vengeance! I have chosen
A trusty band of iron men,
Whose each relenting pulse is frozen —
And brief must be their ciders reposing.
My gallant band, I hail ye, then!
Now for the Sierra afar,
Where my unshrinking brethren are.
Briton, thy landsmen all are brave;
Dar’st thou the dangers of our cave
Whence the fierce fiery dart speeds flying?
Dar’st thou to gaze on thousands dying?
Dar’st thou the den unknown to all,
Save the proud band within its portal,
Which every night becomes the pall
Of hundreds? — and the flying ball
That ploughs them down is deem’d immortal
And should our rich success be o’er,
And we be conquerors no more —
Should Destiny’s resistless power
Lead them unto our stronghold lower,
Oh! little reck they of the brave
And warlike welcome they shall have;
For our proud eagle home shall be
Meet tomb for warriors such as we.
For that we are a kingly race,.
Who never may of vengeance tire
Till thousands of the foe expire.
And thousands more our dying grace.
Nay, worthy Briton, never start; —
Lik’st not the ardour of my heart?
Lik’st not Alvarez should make good
The vow pledg’d in his Inez’ blood?
Oh, mark me! Ere with life I part
I’ll trace my ruin on thy heart —
Thy thirsty heart, Napoleon!
Till it shall bleed at every pore;
Ay, I shall calmly murder on
Till that I deem my calling done —
My vow washed out by floods of gore.
Oh, Inez, Inez! — bleeding shade! —
Thy wrongs shall be tenfold repaid!
Oh, Inez! — my belov’d — mine own! —
Pure angel of my bosom’s throne,
Could — could I press thee to its burning,
Or clasp thee in a last embrace, —
Thou, who art wrapt in death’s inurning —
Thou, in that bourne of no returning.
Oh, Inez! in thy resting place
Would I might lay me down, and deem
That thou hadst only been a dream!
But hold, fond heart! a truce to love!
That is for purer worlds above.
Stranger, my tale is said. I go
To hold communion with the foe.
Bethink thee, in thine own cold land,
Of that heroic mountain band
Led by a desperate chieftain on
To deeds from which they shrink not one.
Bethink thee, when love’s dearest tones
Come like heav’n-harpings o’er thy soul,
Of woe and ruth and bitter moans.
Bethink thee of the patriot’s goal:
Ay, in the proud and princely domes
Of thine own Albion’s stately homes,
Remember, men are sometimes not
What they would choose; — -but ’tis their lo
And Alvarez of Portugal
Lurks to avenge his household blood;
Firm purpos’d to extinguish all
The demons of Portalgre’s wood; —
A true Guerilla of the land,
With dauntless heart and trusty band.
Then on, Guerilla! — bravest, on!
Until thy work of death be done;
For oceans of Gaul’s blood shall flow
To sweep the Corsican below —
To hurl him from his despot throne:
Oh! by each never-dying moan.
We’ll hurl him from his crime-won height
To shades of everlasting night!
Then on, Guerilla! — firmly on,
Till that thy work of death be done!
THE NOVICE OF ST. GERMAINE’S.
The heart — the gifted heart,
Who may reveal its depths to human sight!
‘Twas midnight’s hour.– midnight, intense and deep;
And deepest silence overwhelmingly
Fell on the startled soul. Silence as dread
As that which reigns.– Oh! how oppressively!–
In the dim chamber where the sheeted dead
Pass the first night of their eternal sleep;
Whilst flickering tapers shed a sickly glare,
Like to the corpse-lights amid Stygian tens
Showing lost souls the depths of Erebus
So did dark silence reign. Not one pule star
Hung out its beacon o’er a slumbering world;
Not one pale ray lit the far distant barque;
Not one faint beam cheered the lone mariner,
Or warned him from the rock which made his fate;
Not one wild gust came drear or sobbingly
In sighing whispers: — all the world was still,
In slumber deep, in undisturbed repose.
The world! — the world! There is one stormy world
That sleeps not ever — ever! ‘Tis the world
Within the human breast; ’tis the wild thoughts
Which ceaselessly revolve; the hopes, the fears,
And untold feverings! The world! Alas,
What is the visible world to that within
The feeble precincts of the human breast!
The busy strife, confliction that destroys
Conflicts more fierce than elemental shocks!
Storms of the passions! Oh! how much more fierce
Tempests that desolate eternally!
What storms may rage like those within the soul!
* * * * * * *
Holm Peel! gray glory of the Kings of Mann,
Where hoary Germaine’s mantles o’er the deep,
In proud enthronement o’er the billowy surge.
Abode of ocean princes! In that vault,
Where day nor human comfort enters in
To lighten its mysterious cavernings, —
Death-bed of hope, and key-stone of despair, —
Where groans of anguish combat evermore
With the wild tempest’s howl and ocean’s din.
There, at dead midnight’s hour, a mourner knelt —
A fair and fragile form of loveliness,
Fair as a being of the spirit world —
With her pale brow uprais’d, and white hands clasp’d
Upon a throbless breast Knelt! ay, she knelt
Upon the cold coarse earth, the hard damp earth,
With her white garments floating wildlily,
And her long tresses, ebon as night’s brow,
Streaming dishevell’dly around her form.
* * * * * * *
There was deep silence. Silently the father rose,
And, bending o’er the fainting Adelaide,
That monument of eld blessed the pale girl
In accents deep and fervent; blessed her,
And bade her soul take comfort; blessed her,
And in that kind calm “Benedicte!”
Nature and habit strove for mastery.
Feeling, not yet subdued, spake from his eye:
Passion! — Oh! who can lay that dream to rest!
Passion! — Alas! the father well had proved
The might of exquisite feeling; and his mind
Still, still would roam — schooled tho’ it long had been —
Still would it wander to the fair young hours
Of first — last — deathless love.
Cold years went by,
And made the passionate youth a joyless man,
Withered in heart and soul: his dearest hopes
Had smiled to mock him, and he altered then.
Then he grew fearful in his spirit’s strife
For power and mastery o’er his evil fate,
Until the ministers of destiny,
Appalled, fled, and quailed beneath the might
Of man’s celestial nature — never lost
Whilst he resists the impulse which would hurl
Him downward, downward to the dread abyss.
* * * * * * *
There be some smouldering ruins that will wake
From out the ashes of the blacken’d pyre,
And bursting into gusts of withering flame
Shed desolation round their last fierce fight,
locking the feeble breath that fanned them first
Into destruction’s fiery minister;
And then amid the wreck, the fearful wreck,
Die with a hiss of triumph, like the yell
Of fiends in mockery; — some will burn
Silently, silently into nothingness.
* * * * * * *
He, that gray father, rose; and blessing her,
Bade her look up to heaven; ay, bade her raise
Her wild and waste affections from the earth
Unto the only Changeless. Then she wept.
“My child! — my Adelaide! Oh, is it thus
We meet again? Thou — thou so young
To be the jest of ruthless misery?
Look up, look up to heaven, my meekest lamb;
Believe — confess — relieve thy gentle breast;
The bitter rod of anguish beareth hopes
That shine and brighten to eternal day;
Sorrow hath spirit-healing on its wings;
The teaching is of God. My child! — my child!
Relieve thy weary heart, and be at rest;
Meekly and patiently abide His will,
Whose mandates all are love, — yea, truest love.
Mother of God, be with us! — we confess!”
* * * * * * *
One long convulsive sob, one heavy pause,
One audible shudder, and poor Adelaide
Back from her marble brow cast the thick veil,
Pure in its snowy lawn as her young heart,
And supplicating — deeply, silently —
Strength, and support, and comfort from above,
She gathered in her quick spasmodic breath
With a stern resolution, and her heart
Grew still as death with her determin’d thought:
True it did throb as one dark miniature
Pressed it in anguish; but ’twas still — grew still —
When that one gem, her sacred crucifix,
Replaced it o’er the throbbing; — ay, ’twas still:
And then — then Adelaide told her sad tale.
* * * * * * *
“Father! in life’s young smiling morn,
Heaven willed it I should meet with one
To weave for me a wreath of thorn,
And place the searing chaplet on
A brow whose gaiety is gone;
But who, or where, or when, or how
He did become my destiny
I know not, need not, care not, now: —
Father, I speak my soul to thee;
Absolve me of my misery!
“He had come to my girlhood’s home,
A nameless stranger from afar;
Alas, why did he ever roam
My simple happiness to mar!
Why lightest where the fickle are!
Did he not dwell, and love, and rove?
Alas! he did become my star,
My life — my joy — my hope — my love!
The dearest earthly thing to me,
Whose love was deep idolatry.
“He had come to my summer bower
When blithe young birds were on the wing;
Where never since saw I one flower
But gave of him some shadowing —
Some wild and sad imagining:
Alas, it was a fatal hour,
The herald of approaching fate!
And came it — came it not with power,
The stroke that made me desolate?
And turned my laughing day to night,
To ever, everlasting blight?
“I had known much of happiness,
The tranquil happiness of home;
There, there all smiled to soothe and bless,
And love and be beloved! — my own!
There I had caught my spirit’s tone
From the sweet echoes of the wild;
There my warm feelings all had grown:
A free, fair, proud, untroubled child,
The world was all unknown to me
Save as a troubled history.
“I thought there were no darker hours,
I dreamed not of the evil days,
Amid the birds, the streams, the flowers,
The sunbeams, and the bright moon rays;
I had no thought of worldly ways,
Nor of the wiles of worldly men,
Nor of the meteor that betrays —
Oh no! — I feared not, dreamed not then
Life should be ought but fair and free,
All shadowless felicity.
” I was so joyous, that my heart
Bounded like young bird on the wing,
In whose wild song earth had no part
Save its bright spring, its rich green spring,
With not one note of sorrowing:
All warmth, all ardency, all bliss,
Methought no future year might bring
Ought to blight this — to sadden this:
Alas! that dream so pure, so bright,
Should meet with everlasting blight!
“He came in sorrow. There was grief
Upon his manly brow; deep care,
The secret care which shims relief
Had traced its deepest furrows there;
A something that outdid despair
Convulsed him wildly; he was one
Moody and strange, and if there were
Some fitful bursts of mirth, ’twas gone
Sudden as sunlight from the grave,
Which shrines the all we pine to save.
“He came in sadness. No one knew
The tenor of his history;
Yet, in his eye of intense blue
Was shadowed some cold mystery —
Some tale of dark adversity;
And the deep palor of his cheek
Was such any corpse might be;
Some fearful pang he might not speak
Seemed haunting his futurity;
They said it was some untold crime
Had made him old before his time.
“They spake in darkness; — but I knew
He was alone upon the earth;
And my wild girlhood’s feelings grew
Unto his sorrows from my mirth:
To such I felt that there was dearth
Of slightest kindness, word, or token;
Whate’er his fate, whate’er his birth,
I, only, felt his heart seem’d broken;
And oh! more need there might be one
To soothe, and bless and lean upon.
“He knew I loved him! — and my love
Was like the tendrils of the vine,
Clasping and clinging as they rove —
So was their clinging like to mine;
So did elastically twine
My best pure feelings round and round
Him whom I almost made divine,
And worship’d with a love profound:
Like moonrays o’er a midnight sea,
He was a guiding light to me.
“He knew I loved him! — there were none
I yet had ever loved beside;
He knew he was the only one
With whom my feelings were allied, —
For whom, in girlhood’s laughing pride,
I would have braved the rude world’s breath,
And sailed along its troubled tide
Firmly and fondly on — to death;
My love was not the love of earth;
Oh, no! it claimed a higher birth.
“He came unto my home; — he came
To hearts that he was cherish’d in;
Oh! dearer than the brightest fame
Which our mortality can win
Was that lone stranger: ay, to sin”
Was my idolatry — of what?
Of dust — of earth — corruption — him!
This breast has anguish now for that;
But oh! when the first serpent smiled
Was not — say, was not Eve beguiled?
“He sate beside me at the hearth;
His accents ever echoed mine;
Oh! in the dance, the song, the mirth,
Our very souls would intertwine —
They mingled at the household shrine;
And where the bright Laburnum showers
Its golden bloom at day’s decline,
We wandered to the starry hours:
Enthusiastic from my birth,
I sought not, hoped not more from earth.
“He told me of the gay great world,
He told me of the lands afar;
With him I gazed on skies empearl’d
With many a bright and holy star;
With him I watched the silvery ear
Of gentle Luna gliding high;
With him I roved to glens afar,
And watched the streamlet rippling by:
There was nor bush, nor stream, nor flower,
But became hallowed from that hour.
“I, who had been so gay, so gay,
Grew sad and tearful for his sake;
All girlhood’s mirth had passed away;
I schooled me, that I might partake
His troubled destiny, and make
My very being — shadow — his:
All, all the live long night to wake
And muse and think of him was bliss:
Yes! I who had been all of glee,
Grew mingled with his destiny.
“He wreathed my spirit with his own;
Existence hung upon his smile;
Now, spectres of those past hours moan
Within the heart’s deserted pile,
Which every dark deluding wile
Combined to overthrow; and I —
Father, how could I deem ’twas guile I
How could I gaze on that blue eye,
And — Oh! I feared not, dreamed not this;
I thought him what no mortal is.
“He knew I loved him! — and he seemed
To dote upon my simple truth;
Oh, traitor! traitor! — well he deemed
The thoughtless innocence of youth,
The passions of a girl, in sooth,
Rare toy for him to wreck — to break:
And well he wove them, warp and woof,
No other love to bear, to seek:
Oh! I grew changed! — life’s light grew dim!-
And all for him! — oh! all for him!
“There was no chord within my breast
But echoed to his tenderness;
Alas! unto his bosom prest,
Earth, air, and ocean seemed to bless;
How could a simple rustic guess
Such burning tears were feignings vile?
Who, in that manly tenderness
Could turn and trace hell’s deepest guile?
Who, in those blissful heart-warm tears
Could read the misery of years?
“He knew I loved him! — there were none
He bore to see me look upon;
Alas, too deeply had he won
Upon an unsuspecting one!
And if by chance I seemed to shun
The thrilling radiance of his look,
Then was his mood of darkness on —
His very spirit inly shook;
Then would he frown, and start, and rave,
And bear him darkly as the grave.
“Why did he dupe me? — Why ensnare
A heart he thus would cease to prize?
Why did he render to despair
A bosom that could not disguise
The love that never, never dies?
Why did he thus — ay, thus repay
The kindness of a virtuous few
With grief, and anguish, and dismay,
And break the flow’ret where it grew?
And plunge into a gulph of tears
The hopes, the happiness of years?
“’Tis o’er! When that the forest oak,
Round which the tender woodbine clung,
Is reft away by ruthless stroke,
The woodbine to the earth is flung,
With all its gentle verdure wrung
From out its feeble life! it lies
Crushed to the earth; — how fair, how young!
Its ‘tale is told;’ — it dies, it dies!
Its only being torn away,
Its life’s support; — why should it stay?
“Father! so was my being bound
In that dark, strange, and fearful man;
So warped my feelings round and round;
So fell I, crush’d beneath the ban:
So did I wither, wretched, wan,
Without another stay on earth;
So, so since that mad love began
Grew I an alien in the mirth;
And so for him I weary grew
Of the bright earth, while yet ’twas new.
“‘Tis vain — how vain! — to dwell on such
Departed dreamings, or to tell
How wildly, sinfully, how much
I loved him! — Loved him? ay, too well!
Or how I gave up all to dwell
With his cold griefs, and firmly bear
His darkest mood without rebel,
And shape my youthful brow to care;
Or how the world grew cold and dark,
And I became a shatter’d barque.
“‘Tis o’er! ’tis o’er! — the broken chain
Lies in the ashes; words were weak
To speak its history; ay, ’tis vain;
Such wretched feelings may not speak
Of why the rose forsook the cheek,
Or why the lustre fled the eye,
Or why the truest heart did break;
And nought remains but it to die
And shrine within an early rest
A bosom too — oh! too unblest.
“Nay, holy father, it was vain
To turn me and repel the dart;
An everlasting age of pain
Lay woe and weary on my heart —
A curse that never might depart:
‘Twas all in vain; — I strove to flee,
And in earth’s toilings bear my part,
And rouse me from my misery.
The shaft hath been too truly sped
Which lays me with the early dead.”
* * * * * *
She had told her tale: but its intensity
Of fearful memories forced up from her heart
What yet remained of life to her pale cheek:
Her eyes burned strangely with unearthly light,
Till, with one fearful gasp, poor Adelaide
Fell to the altar’s base; — fell to the earth,
A lovely, wretched, shattered thing! ay, fell
Like a pale lily blighted by rude storms,
Broken and crushed, and never more to rise.
Oh! that is overwhelming which destroys
The heart’s first deep enchantment! ‘Tis a breath
Which desolates a world of gaudy hopes;
Ay, wrecks the fairy barque and glittering freight
Amid the billows of a mad despair.
Would that each human breast might seek the love,
The only love that knoweth no decay!
Love to repay the most devoted faith,
Most ardent worship, and unshrinking trust!
The cradled winds maintained their sluggish sleep
In sullen lethargy: and there alone
Watch’d the gray father by the stricken girl:
There was no sound to break the solitude,
But surges round that drear confessional
And their retreating murmurs: but no word
Of healing consolation reached her ear,
For heart and hopes were still: there was no throb,
No fetter’d breathing: — Nature could no more:
She slept eternally! — and the old man
Bent o’er “the early dead,” and wept, — ay, wept.
“Cold, my child! — cold, cold, my Adelaide! —
And silent, silent! — Oh! it must be death!
Death? — Dead? — Could aught so fair yield to decay?
* * * * * * *
“Castle of Peel! within thy sturdy walls
Seemest thou to keep the court of misery!
When shall thy dooms of evil be fulfilled?
When shall the groans of anguish cease to swell
Thro’ thy wave-girdled dens of agony?
When shall fair Glo’ster’s troubled spirit rest?
When shall pale Margaret’s wrongs be all repaid?
When shall thy many scathed and broken hearts
Betake them to their graves untroubledly?
Oh, thou most dark and drear confessional! —
Thou vault of terrible dreamings! — thy black roof
Is arched with horror ne’er to be forgot!
The groans of all thy victims shall be strong!
The midnight screams of anguish, on fierce wings,
Shall burst thy prisonings and lay thee low,
Thou bane of gentle woman’s happiness!
And yet — I rave! — thou killed’st not Adelaide!
My child! — my child! My own! — my sleeping one!
Do I in truth remember years when thou
Wert wont to chase the young and joyous hours
With dance and song away — and lightsome laugh
Betokening lighter heart and peaceful breast —
The blythest elf that ever crossed the wold —
With playful taunt and jest and bounding step?
Alas! thou wast a dreamer, even in mirth!
Thy thoughts were ever as the rainbow’s wing,
Coloured by heaven tints and embalmed in tears:
Life could not furnish forth the perfect one
That thy sweet vision shrined: ’twas all thine own;
A bright reflection of thy purity,
Flashing its richest haloes round one form;
Robing its idol in the hues of heaven:
‘Twas not ‘earth’s love,’ or meet for earthly shrine:
Few on life’s prose ground can imagine love!
And fewer still can feel its holiness,
Its overpowering, overwhelming might!
* * * * * * *
“Why shrunkest thou so soon unto decay —
Thy lovely sin unshriven — my gentle child?
Pale, pale, dead Adelaide! couldst thou not meet
Thine old gray father’s gaze of agony
And truest sympathy and deepest trust?
Girl– girl! he listened most greedily
Unto the pure — but oh! how torturing tale
Of thy sweet natural feelings in decay!
Ay, witheringly he felt, and own’d, the truth,
The bitter truth of thy unsophist words!
And such is man! — the vaunted hero, man!
A stern destroyer of earth’s brightest hopes!
A blighting monster! Whatsoe’er is fair,
Or young, or excellent, or happy, there — .
There is his field of glory! Broken hearts
And groans that live to curse him, tell the tale!
* * * * * * *
Oh, woman! woman! — tender, feeble thing!
When that thy heart hath made unto itself
Its Iris-world of gay and gorgeous hues —
With one dear idol round whom its best hopes
Elastically twine — it radiates
With its dream-colourings each varied shade
In that adored one’s earthly destiny!
However dark, or wayward, or despised,
When woman loves, she loves thro’ good or ill,
Thro’ storms or sunshine, sickness or decay,
Evil or good report; — ’tis woman’s love!
Who, what, or whence, or wherefore, heeds she not-
Altho’ perchance a very poison tree,
The upas amid mortals; the world’s jest;
The sneer of relatives; the scorn of friends: —
Tear every tortured feeling from its stay —
Twist, wrench the delicate fibres from the stem-
Sear with the sirroe of ten thousand pangs —
‘Tis vain! ’tis all in vain! — for woman’s love,
Where that it clings, will cling till life be gone.
* * * * * * *
THE RIVAL MINSTRELS
The soft sounds of music arose: gladness brightened in the hall: the voice of Ullin was heard: Utha rejoiced in his presence, and demanded the Song of Grief. The big tears hung in her eye, when the soft Crimora spoke: Crimora, the daughter of Rinval, who dwelt at Latha’s roaring stream.
Sweet ladye! wouldst thou bid me sing?
Alas! mine is a rustic lyre,
A lonely and neglected thing,
Of mournful sound and broken string;
And may such to thine ear aspire?
It shall — it will: but ill may I
Repay thy gentle courtesy.
Marvel not, ladye! if my harp.
My island harp, hath lost a spell
And wails, as for some fated barque
Wails the sad sighing ocean shell:
Fate hath her webs of dark enwreathing,
And hearts and harps have wild bereaving.
Marvel not, ladye! if I weep
When other eyes are lit with gladness;
Eyes may be bright, smiles may be deep,
Yet silent breasts may be all madness;
Sweet ladye! as thy sunny clime,
Bright be thy gentle spirit ever;
May’st thou not know the chilling time
When dear and priz’d affections sever:
Oh! cloudless as thy southern skies,
And tearless, be thy pleading eyes!
Yes — I have dreamings; it may be
That like all else they may be vain;
Yet — that fair land of chivalry,
Thy land, doth ever haunt my brain;
And if that mortal coil might be
Like to the spirit wing’d and free,
Oh! I would seek those fairy bowers
In that rich clime of holiday,
Where sadness doth not shade the hours,
Where every heart is toujour gaie’
I would — but oh! ’tis vain– ’tis vain!
Chain’d, chain’d and earthly as my strain,
Sweet lady! ’tis in vain! But oh!
When thou art far from Mannin’s Isle,
My heart’s cold isle, where tempests blow
And skies are seldom seen to smile —
But yet — where hearts are true and warm,
Despite dark skies or howling storm —
Remember me! remember me!
The Island minstrel who doth pine
For wings, to burst away and flee
Where no deluding glories shine;
Sweet ladye! deem me not too wild,
For I am nature’s mountain child.
I’m weary, I’m weary,
Weary of earth,
Weary of laughter,
Weary of mirth,
Weary of weeping
O’er happier years,
Weary of steeping
My couch with my tears.
I’m weary, I’m weary,
Weary of all;
The verdure is blighted,
The sweetness doth pall;
Weary of sighing,
Weary of heart,
Weary of drying
The tears as they start.
Weep for the weary heart
Shatter’d and lonely,
Which in no joy hath part
Save of grief only: —
For whom earth’s smiling face
Weareth but sorrow,
To whom comes weariness
With every morrow.
Oh, simple is my song, ladye!
Oh, simple is my song;
It tells but of earth’s woes, ladye!
Of bitterness and wrong,
Of secret griefs that pass not,
Of thoughts that madly burn,
For dear and buried memories,
For joys which ne’er return: —
I shall but sad thine heart, ladye!
I shall but make thee sigh
With my poor melancholy song
Of doom and destiny:
Oh, take my lonely harp, ladye!
To other hearts than mine,
Where earth’s hopes are not dead, ladye!
Within a hollow shrine.
But ask song not of me, ladye!
For whom the world’s cold breath
Hath nothing to bestow, ladye!
But weariness and death:
Ay, false the smiling face, ladye!
And feign’d the warm embrace,
And empty every seeming joy,
With but one resting place;
And that is in the quiet grave
Where thought cannot intrude;
Oh! I would lay me down and be
For the poor earthworms food;
I would be food for them, ladye!
Not Cur malignant, vile,
Pesiferous, unholy hearts
That can, in wounding, smile, ladye!
But ladye, feel for me, for now
My spirit chafeth thru’ much wrong;
Behold! its trace is on my brow,
Its bitterness is in my song; —
Oh, rise thee, Percy! rise, I pray,
And grace the festal board, for I
Cannot — ’tis vain that I essay
To sue for aught but sympathy.
Then, ladye! here let me resign
The harp to other hands than mine.”
Young Percy rose; and from his brow
Shook back a cloud of glorious hair —
An Alpine brow that rival’d snow,
A brow where no one withering care
Had press’d its signet; — ay, he rose,
And gaily glancing round the hall —
That speaking glance, which unto those
On whom its fondest beam might fall —
Spoke, — oh! a world of witchery!
Such as young hearts alone can feel
Ere time hath taught them mastery
Of miseries time cannot heal.
The Percy rose; and bending o’er
The weary Ethil’s sad sweet verse,
He bade his soul essay to pour,
Like summer blossoms o’er a hearse,
A world of northern minstrelsy,
A wild, old ballad of the border,
Of days when Scotia’s sons were free,
And lion-hearts ” march’ d in good order.”
He sung — and every sound was mute —
Of days and deeds of chivalry;
He sung — oh’ sweet as lover’s lute,
Ay, sweeter than ought else might be,
Came those soft wild bewitching notes,
Soft as the sigh of evening floats
In odours from the gay parterre,
Where bloom the beautifully fair
Rejoicing creatures of few hours,
The perishing but lovely flowers.
And then the liquid measure died
Like evening’s breath o’er summer’s tide.
The Percy’s wild lament was o’er;
The song had ceas’d; his harp was hush’d;
That harp which could so well restore
The memory of brave hearts crush’d,
And high hopes wither’d, and the days
Of Caledonia’s brightest story,
When fame was prodigal of bays,
And fate was prodigal of glory.
The measure ceased; but every heart
Thrilled to the minstrel’s witching art,
And every pulse and every brain
Felt kindling at the wild sad strain.
The ladye rose, and gave the lyre
Into the hand of Rosabel,
And bade the Island girl aspire
To sing as sweetly and as well.
A simple girl was she, and wild
As the young breeze on Crogga’s hill;
Rude nature’s own enthusiast child,
With feelings like the bursting rill
Which nought could fetter, save the frost
Of cold despair. Yet well she knew
That all her hopes of fame were lost;
So deeply in those eyes of blue
Beamed the pure feelings of the soul,
The eloquence hearts might not brook.
She gave her musings to control,
And tremblingly the lyre she took
And touch’d the strings. A low faint sound,
A deeply melancholy strain
Fell on the listening ears around; —
Poor Rosabel! ’twas all in vain.
“Alas!” she sigh’d, “I cannot sing,
My heart and lyre have lost a string;
“Oh ladye! no, I cannot sing;
My lyre is tuneless, and my heart
Is hut a silent chordless thing;
I cannot sing; for thou, thou art
The very soul of mirthful glee,
A dancing, warbling, merrie fairy; —
Such may’st thou ever, ever be,
Nor ever feel of life aweary:
Weary? — oh, no! to thee ’tis bright
And beautiful and fair and gay;
Long may the cloudless spirit’s light
Shed all its lustre o’er thy way.
No, no! I may not sing, for thou
Art happy! — Happy? — There is not
One shadow, ladye, o’er thy brow.
Then, be thy minstrel’s grief forgot;
It shall not taint thee. Rest, my heart!
Cast by thy weariness awhile:
Yes — I must tax my minstrel art
Fur the dear sake of Mona’s Isle.
Yet, ladye! ’tis a very pain
To feel that I must sing in vain.”
That eye is brightly beautiful,
That brow is free from care,
There is no sorrow in that heart,
And life to him is fair;
His young free soul is bounding now
With hopes and thoughts that burn,
And he bursts away in manhood’s might —
But when will he return?
Oh! when will he return, ladye?
Oh! when will he return?
That voice is like wild melody,
That heart is gay and free,
And that hyacinthine hair, ladye!
Waves like a silken sea:
That voice will pass away from us —
But long in hope’s deep urn
Shall rest the cherish’d memories: —
Oh! when shall he return?
Oh! when shall he return, ladye?
Oh! when shall he return?
The battle field is far, ladye!
The gory field is cold;
And many a gallant bosom there
Shall rest beneath the mould —
The young, the brave, the gay, the free! —
Give me a glorious urn
To shrine the dust of those young hearts
That never may return:
That never may return, ladye!
That never may return.
And must — oh! must he fall, ladye?
Oh! say not he must die;
Oh! say not that cold death must dull
The light of that blue eye:
Shall he not come again, ladye?
Shall he not come again,
With the wreath of glory on his brow,
And — but my song is vain!
For when shall he return, ladye?
Oh! when shall he return?
Go forth, go forth, young minstrel!
Unto the fearful fight;
Nerved be thy arm with giant strength;
Strong be thy spirit’s might;
And the thousand hearts that love thee
Shall breathe one fervent prayer;
Oh! thro’ the shield of that strong love
Nothing can blight thee there.
He will — he must return, ladye!
He must — he must return.
“Ladye! my simple song is done;
Thy heart untouch’d, my wreath unwon;
Oh! I was vain to touch the lyre,
And vainer, vainer to aspire
To think to wake one feeble tone;
I should have felt, I should have known
That woman’s weakness could not raise
One tone to win the meed of praise.
Oh, fatal dream of poesy!
Fly — fly away afar from me; —
I must not yield me to thy spells; —
In thy enchanted empire dwells
But sorrow and intense regret; —
Their seal is o’er my spirit set:
Oh, fatal dreams of poesy!
Ye do but blight my destiny;
Ye bid me hope, ye bid me sing,
And such strange glamour o’er me fling,
As fires my soul and racks my brain; —
And it is mockery — bitter — vain!”
She ceased her melancholy song,
And bent her pale brow o’er her lyre,
Whilst the fair sadden’d spell-bound throng
Kept silence reverend and long,
Without a feeling or desire
Beyond regarding Rosabel
As mistress of some mystic spell.
At length the ladye kindly said, —
“Thine be the meed of fame, sweet maid;
The laurel’d wreath of song be thine;
But let not mournful ivy twine
Its fibres with thine Island songs:
Forget the memory of wrongs: —
We know that we must suffer here; —
There is but one unsorrowing sphere —
And there, when earth’s turmoil is done,
A brighter wreath and lyre are won, —
A lusting fame which nought can shade, —
An amaranth wreath which ne’er will fade, —
A happiness no care can dull,
With hopes for ever beautiful.
Rise, pensive drooping Rosabel!
Thou dost despond, and ’tis not well;
I know thy feelings — know each thought
That arc to almost frenzy wrought; —
I know thou broodest overmuch; —
But there is misery for such.
A misery unshar’d, unf’elt
By few indeed; — and there is woe
For those who have so deeply dwelt
O’er griefs that unto poison grow:
And Rosabel! I’d have thee note
That to the upas’ tainted breast
There is but one true antidote —
One balm — one never failing rest.
Look up and smile, dear Rosabel!
For the strange sadness of thy spell
Hath cast a shadow over all,
And silence holds the festal hall!
Come forth, young mirthful Isadore!
And bring thy merry bosom here: —
Come, let thy joyous tones restore
The merriment and festive cheer: —
Come, touch thy lute; — be glad — be gay;-
A right enlivening roundelay.
Young Isadore step’d gaily forth: —
She was a rare and lovely thing;
A blossom from the cold bleak North,
Like snowdrop of the early spring.
And Isadore threw back the tresses
That waved in light profusion down
Her neck, where such fond chaste caresses
Were courted by the snowy down; —
For softer than the cygnet’s breast,
And prouder, was that envied rest.
A mirthful girl was Isadore; —
With exquisitely sweet blue eyes; —
And while murmuring softly o’er
Her favourite songs and symphonies,
She look’d like being not of earth,
So strange that mood amid her mirth.
At length some sweet and happy thought
Brought her a vision of the Isle, —
Some dear remembrance finely wrought:
There gleam’d one soul-pervading smile: —
And the fair creature o’er the throng
Pour’d the full soul of Island song.
“Knowest thou that green spot ‘mid the billows of ocean,
Whose valleys are wild, and whose mountains are bare,
The shrine of my heart’s deep undying devotion, —
The lone lovely mist-gem of Mannin Mac Lear?1
Knowest thou where Holm Peel’s proud ruins rise hoary,
Whore ghosts of the princely at dead midnight moan?
Knowest thou where Rushen still frowneth in glory?
Hast thou heard where the death-shot laid low Illiam Dhoane?
Knowest thou the glens which the elf race inhabit,
Where brightly their tiny lamps burn as of yore?
Knowest thou “Quocunque jeceris stabit?”
Or the dread Moddey Doo of the wild western shore?
Knowest thou the spot where the rose and the thistle
The leek and the shamrock are lovelily blent.
Where shrill on the hills is the hollow wind’s whistle,
Where fairies by moonlight dance over the bent?
‘Tis Mona the lone! where the silver mist gathers — .
Pale shroud whence our wizard-chief watches unseen —
O’er the breezy, the bright, the lov’d home of my fathers;
Oh Mannin, my graih my cree! Mannin veg veen!
‘Tis Mona the lone! thro’ whose wild Curraghts roaming,
I’ve lingered to list to the oaten pipe’s strain; —
Where enchanted I’ve gazed on the rustics at gloaming,
Bedight in dear simple keeir lheah and karane.
‘Tis the spot where my spirit exultingly wander’d
‘Mid nature’s own solitudes, breezy, and bare; —
Where shrin’d in Glenaldyn’s recesses I’ve ponder’d,
Enraptured o’er legends of Mannin Mac Lear.
And gentle and kind are its brilliant-eyed daughters —
My vision ne’er brought me one other more fair;
Tho’ lovely and noble have come o’er the waters,
Give me the Manks maid with the dark flowing hair.
Then hail to thee, happy home! — gem of the ocean!
Oh, thine are the youths honest-hearted and free; —
Ever free in each generous soul-felt emotion
As the wing of the eagle, or foam of the sea.
Then hail to thee, happy home! — land of my fathers! —
Proud nest of fam’d chieftains! — blest isle of the fair!–
The hills, the wild hills, where the fairy mist gathers —
Oh Mannin, my graih my cree! Mannin Mac Lear!
With the patriot’s fire my bosom is beating; —
All my soul’s with my lute; — then, wise critic, forbear! —
Deem not your rude minstrel barbaric, unweeting,
But smile on a scion of Mannin Mac Lear.
“Kind smiles be thine, young; Isadore!
Kind smiles from all be ever thine; —
Sooth, but thou canst full-well restore
Mona’s proud days of “auld lang syne:”
Sing on, young minstrel of the isle!
Thine by thy country’s brightest smile.
Come round us, spirits of the dead! —
Come to your mist-clad island home; —
And all a spirit’s blessing shed
On your lone dwelling ‘mid the foam.
Their holiest smiles be thine, sweet one!
Those mightiest masters of the spell —
The glorious host of warriors gone —
They who fought bravely and died well
Ay, be their spirit-blessings thine; —
And may sweet flowers for ever twine
Their richest blossoms round thy brow,
And oh! be ever gay as now.”
The lady rose. * * * *
1 Monan or Manninan Mac Lear, king of Ulster. Him the Manks believe their founder and legislator, and have him in great reputation for his wisdom. – [Sacheveril.]
A LEGEND OF THE ISLE.
There is no chord of human life,
Whose natural tone breathes not of woe!
I rede ye beware of the Carrasdoo men
As ye come up the wold! —
Oh, I rede ye beware of the Curragh glen!
For he that will dare it comes not again;
In whispers his fate is told.
In Yorby glen the peat lies deep;
In Yorby glen dark secrets sleep;
In Yorby glen the pools are black;
But dead men’s spirits will come back,
And, shrieking, point to far beneath
Where the dark men hurl’d them unto death.
Above that dismal stygian swamp
Glooms the red willow dark and damp;
And well I ween the peasant tells
Soon as a footstep wanders near:
With fearful whoop and hideous yells,
Those demons of an hundred hells
Assail the soul with deadly fear.
Well may he rue the path that led —
Whilst missiles hurl around his head —
His luckless footstep so to stray
So near unto their dismal den;
And deeply vow that night or day
He ne’er shall tempt the strath again.
The Carrasdoo men were a fearful race; —
A band of borderers none might trace;
Whose land or lineage no one knew
In the wild lone isle wherein they grew;
But in the empire of old Mac Lear
None could in vice with them compare.
In Yorby Curragh they dwelt alone
By dark peat bogs where the willows moan:
Down in a gloomy and lonely glen
Those gloomy, savage, and unknown men
Passed long, long ages in vice and sin —
And the dark pits swallow’d the victims in.
There lay a lone hut by a lone wayside,
A publican’s hovel; — but woe betide
The wretch whom thirst or weariness led
Into the dark and pestiferous shed; —
For to drink there once was to drink no more;
And there came no tales from the dark trap-door.
It was vain to murmur, or vain to seek; —
The assassin’s steel none saw to reek;
None saw of murder one fearful trace;
No screams were heard in that lonely place;
The potion was potent, — the trap-door sure, —
And the deep peat bogs were a shrine secure.
Who has not heard of the pedlar boy? —
Who has not heard of the child’s decoy
Into that murky murder pit,
With his lightsome heart and his hard-earned pack?
Alas! he never return’d from it! —
And ere the shadows of midnight flit,
He is lying down deep in the pool so black.
The potion thro’ every vein work’d well;
There were none to warn him, or none to tell; —
So down he went, in that hour of gloom,
Into a horrid unrecked-of tomb
The monsters’ lemans were comely to sec
In their keeir lheeah,1 o’ashyr’yn,2 and stout linsey;3
But comely in o’ashyr’yn and good keeir lheeah: —
What! — were they bedecked in the pedlar’s gear?
Ugh cha nee!4 for the pedlar boy!
Two bright gold guineas were all his store; —
But that little store was a fund of joy;
Alas, for him! — they are his no more.
If the Carrasdoo women were comely to see,
With their wild dark eyes and unbraided hair,
And the corkan pinnings, — oh, what would they be
With the golden brooch and the ribbons fair?
Ugh cha nee! for the pedlar child! —
With his guineas bright and his little pack:
His mother blessed him, and fondly smiled; —
She blessed him, — but oh! he never came back!
Alas! what must that lone widow do,
Bereft, bereft of her only Lhian-noo?5
Alas, alas! for the pedlar boy!
Six weary nights did she watch and weep; —
For how — how could the poor mother sleep
While her cherished darling — her only joy —
Was wandering, wandering — oh, how far!
But she knew not he slept ‘neath the Ullymar.6
Oh, I rede ye beware of the Carrasdoo men
As ye come up the wold! —
I rede ye beware of the haunted glen,
Be ye ever so brave and bold! —
For the Carrasdoo man hath a stony heart,
And he acteth a terrible, horrible part; —
And he smileth — Oh heavens! so he smiled on the boy! —
When the potion is working his will to destroy.
Beware! oh, beware of the haunted glen! —
Oh, I rede ye beware of the Carrasdoo men!
Who has not heard of the young Adair?
Who has not heard of the Irish youth?
Who does not know that his face was fair?
Who does not know that his soul was truth?
Come with me to that gloomy lair; —
Look on the pale face and clotted hair:
Whoso is the corpse with the cloven skull? —
Whose? — for it still is beautiful;
Ask not: — Adair may return no more
To his Irish cot and his cabin door.
There was not a maid in the whole Northside
But glad would have been to be Adair’s bride; —
And sooth, it is nothing but just to tell,
No Manninagh7 knew him but loved him well:
Alas! it is sin and shame to say
That Adair did become the dark men’s prey.
Vain all men’s thoughts and conjectures were; —
There were none to track them, or none to tell
But crime was afloat on each midnight air,
Tho’ none could discover the how or where,
Or seek out the dens where the dark men dwell; —
But those dismal haunts were all secresy.
Who so bold as would venture there to see,
Or breathe suspicion? The slightest word
Sighed unto silence, or scarcely spoken,
Had gathered around him the bandit horde; —
For there was no trace, and there was no token.
Then who so bold as would venture there? —
Who, but the beautiful, brave Adair?
Armed bands had been up the glen; —
Armed bands had defied the danger;
But all was fair in the fiendish den, —
Ay, fair spake the wily dark men to the stranger; —
But ere they were clear from the gloomy strath,
There was blood, — ay, blood on their fated path.
It was not a weapon — it was not a dart,
Nor a gunshot wound, nor a flying ball; —
But death smote the bravest: — his manly heart
Beat once: — ’twas over: — they saw him fall: —
He died without murmur or dying moan: —
There was buried deep in his brow a stone.
Sooth, it was fearful and strange to tell,
So truly, fearfully worked the spell; —
How the pebble was winged with such fatal power
None knew, or may know till their dying hour; —
None saw it hurl’d, and none saw it strike; —
The Manninagh never had known the like; —
Tin- Manninagh never had known such doom,
For all seemed marked for the Curragh tomb.
Adair, like a lion, was strong and fierce; —
Adair, like a lion, was proud and free; —
His brave heart panted to seek — to pierce
The secret dens of their savagery.
Boldly the youth defied the crew;
He sought the haunts where the Tuigyn8 grew:
Dark shadows the Tuigy-yeeigey9 cast;
White vapours from the black bog curl’d fast.
What did it matter? — or what did he heed?
Ugh cha nee! he made haste, but no good speed.
The Carrasdoo women were passing fair;
Bright was the eye of most piercing black;
Black as night was the floating hair; —
Sooth, there was nothing without to lack;
For the tongue was smooth as oil may be.
And the accents all were silvery; —
And the smile was bland, and the bearing meek:
And rich was the glow on each clear cheek:
Ugh cha nee! for the stranger, whom
Each tongue betrayed to an early doom.
The Carrasdoo lemans did speak him mild; —
In innocence he was all a child; —
The Carrasdoo lemans did – gently speak:
Adair was brave, and a man, but weak; —
Adair was all too noble and good
To come athwart the murderer’s brood.
They seem’d to him — oh! so free from guile,
Rather he’d doubted his mother’s smile:
They show’d to him so passing pure,
Little recked he of the dark trap-door!
Pure and beautiful — gentle — good,
So judged he of the serpent brood.
Ugh cha nee! — for the youth that sleeps
Down where the bitter Ullymar weeps!
Ugh cha nee! — for the best of men
Lost in the Tuigey-yeeigey glen!
Ugh cha nee! — that a woman’s tongue
Ever and ever hath done such wrong!
So did Adam, beguiled, eat; —
So did Adam turn out a fool;
The one of Paradise did it cheat; —
The other turned into a loathsome pool.
Ugh cha nee! — for the Irish youth,
He may never return to his cabin home!
Never confide in a smooth tongue’s truth! —
Oh, I rede ye beware it where’er ye roam!
False as the leman’s beamy smiles
Is earth, and earth’s pestiferous wiles;
False — false! Oh! there is not a face
That is not as false as the hearts we trace!
Oh! there is a bright but a fatal star
That shines o’er the feathery Ullymar;
And when that cold star hath height and power,
Grim death is abroad, and fate hath her hour: —
That star presides o’er the dark Tuigey glen,
It hath brought success to the Carrasdoo men;
Its image upon the black pool is gleaming —
And then there is sleep that hath no dreaming.
I rede ye beware of the Carrasdoo men,
As ye come up the wold! —
Beware of the Tuigey-yeeigey glen! —
Fly away — fly away from the loathsome den,
Be ye ever so brave and bold.
For the Ullymar bogs have a hideous slime,
And the Ullymar bogs wear the hue of crime.
And tho’ the lemans may speak ye fair,
Who hath not heard of the young Adair?
Beware! oh, beware of the haunted den!
Beware of the Tuigey-yeeigey glen!
Oh! I rede ye beware of the cold night star
That shines o’er the fatal Ullymar!
1 Two colours, so called, woven into cloth worn by the Manks.
3 The stuff usually worn by the Manks female peasantry.
4 Woe is me!
7 The Manks– a Manksman.
8 Twig of the ditch.
9 Dwarf willow.
Those days are gone — but beauty still is here;
States fall — arts fade — but nature doth not die.
Yes! it is still the same as when of yore
I stray’d thro’ those lov’d vistas of the past,
Ev’n in my spring of childhood, when my heart
Beat high with exultation. I have sate
Beneath those old yew trees — gray sentinels —
That mark the flight of that grim spoiler, Time:
And then the chesnut boughs spread their young leaves,
Green-branching, palm-like, o’er their mother earth
In grateful love, — a beauty and a shade;
And the laburnums then in golden show’rs
Burst from their graceful foldings — bright abodes —
Whence gentle linnets warbled their first lays,
And the young roses and the Eglantine
Twin’d emulously round the ancient porch
In fond and fervent claspings; whilst the gray
And very venerable mansion smiled
From out a robe of time-swept evergreen,
In such a proud and seemly majesty,
As to the mimic domes of yesterday —
The smooth’d and cleanly-shaven stucco things —
Spake in right taunting terms, and bade them yield
Homage unto its hoary heraldry, —
Child of an hundred winters! — Ballafreer!
Yes, thou art still the same, sweet Ballafreer! —
Still is thine air as pure, thy sky as blue; —
Still doth the young lark warble in their depths,
Careering far above the cloudlet’s fold,
And peering — (would my soul were with its wing!) —
In at heaven’s golden gates. Oh, gentle bird! —
Companion of the star — “the morning star!”
Would I were with thee in thy joyous flight
Beyond “the pass of shadows,” — far beyond
The upas influence of this dark cold earth!
Yes, it is still the same; — the flowers as sweet; —
The blooms as radiant on each dancing spray; —
Still young birds warble in the old yew trees: —
But moss is stealing o’er each hallow’d stem,
Telling a tale of eld — a cold true tale
Of time — sad fugitive! — since last I look’d.
Still the laburnums shower their “yellow hair”
Over a sea of clear and cloudless blue; —
Ev’n where the heathbells flourish, there they wave.
By that old dial on the dewy lawn
I’ve watch’d the shadows flying o’er the hill
Like spectres waltzing; — things all mystery
And shade and sunshine — dear — delicious– wild.
Beneath those spreading shrubs I’ve laid me down,
Fann’d by the flirting breeze’s balmiest sighs,
Lull’d by the music of the gay wild birds,
And the blithe humming of the honey-bees,
And the low silvery murmurs of the rill.
Tell me, cold worldlings! was not this wild hymn —
Was not this glorious anthem, nature’s own?
Did not the floods of balm from myriad flow’rs,
Rising with that sweet melody to heaven,
Render deep homage to the Lord of all?
And thou, pure fountain! — oh! how I have watch’ d
Fair foam-pearls dancing o’er thee in the sun,
That did look glorious with their many tints —
And gorgeous flies pursued them in their flight —
And then they burst! — oh! very emptiness!
Life, life! why art thou so? — thy joys as vain,
As false as fleeting bubbles in the sun!
And still the primrose bends above thee, fount!
Kissing thy bosom with its fragrant breath; —
Why art thou still the same? canst thou not change?
Why wilt thou ever flow rejoicing on?
Wilt not thy murmurs yield one sadden’d tone
In answer to my heart? — my heart! alas!
That fount of gladness hath been strangely swept
By the dark wing of swerveless destiny!
No flow’rs bloom now on that deserted soil
No music echoes from its lonely shrine —
No sunshine enters to its cold recess —
But bitter weeds are rampant in its gloom,
And desolation — ever grimly there —
Smiles from its chosen throne; — ay, smiles to see
The world become a waste and weariness —
“Blackness of darkness” — ev’n at every step.
To one to whom that world is almost new.
* * * * * * *
There, where yon ancient temple rests its site
Upon a splendid couch of heather-bell, —
There, too, I’ve mus’d, when moonbeams gem’d the lea,
O’er wond’rous legends of our fairy isle: —
Legends, by gentle rustics firmly held
A horror, and deep credence:– sweet belief.
Bright world of fancy! in thy radiant clime
I, too, have wander’d wildly; and my heart
Still worships — veriest votary at thy shrine:
And there, within thy fitting sanctuary,
Hast thou been with my spirit in its fight
O’er time and space into the misty depths
Of years departed, seeking out a world–
A fearful world of days and deeds profane:
Ay, — there with elfins on the moonlight wold,
And spectres wailing o’er the fallen shrine,
There– there I’ve worship’d thee, till each high-wrought
Thought — vision — sound, became reality:
And there, where lowing kine now meekly browse
O’er that old pasturage, St. Patrick stray’d,
With pious mission charg’d, to Trolaby. —
Sweet Ballafreer! ev’n to thy hallow’ d shades
St. Patrick came. Alas! that even saint
Walks not this world unpierced of its thorns! —
That brambles should deform a saintly toe! —
Yea, even Patrick’s toe an envious thorn
Pierced most malignantly, and drew the blood —
The gen’rous blood, from Patrick’s honest heart;
Wherefore he breath’d a right good fervent curse —
A hearty, downright curse. I marvel me
To think how Erin’s saint could such achieve.
He bade the spot be blasted; — bid the shrubs,
The flow’rs, the brambles, shun the unholy spot.
Forthwith they wither’d, and that path is bare: —
The malediction holds unto this hour.
And there, where those most hallow’d Trammon’s wave —
Old mystic things to peasants passing dear —
The homes of household fairies — in their shade
The merry elves held revellings, — and thence
Came trooping to the ingle to receive
The customary benzeance — barley cake,
And water from the spring: then to acquit
The debt of gratitude, they would disperse,
Some to the dairy hied, some to the brook;
The cream was churn’d — the whole week’s baking baked —
Fresh water drawn, — the chairs in order set;
And the gray elfin train in merry troops
Mount their invisible coursers, and career
Back to their chosen haunt — the Trammon glen.
Dear legendary lore! how much my heart
Cherish’d your rich delusions! — how my mind
Still hastens back to those untroubled years
When that your magic mysteries were so priz’d, —
When e’en a tale of fairy had power
To charm a breast more strange and fanciful
Than ever reigned supreme in fairy land.
Dear days departed! there is mournful joy
In thus retracing ye! Beloved scenes!
It is an aching bosom which comes back
To your unsullied loveliness! Alas!
Would that I were as changeless — as unchang’d!
Would that ye still could make that early joy —
That pure, deep, holy rapture in my soul!
But those once exquisite chords — oh, they would now
Most harshly echo your sweet melodies
Beloved haunts! tho’ ye are still so fair,
The world hath scenes enough of misery,
And very troublous destinies, and deep
Draughts of unreck’d-of sorrows — bitter draughts —
E’en to the very dregs to be quaff’d up.
World! world! thou art indeed a wilderness —
A howling wilderness, of baneful soil!
Thou hast no oasis — no resting place —
No home of refuge — but the dark, dark grave!
Oh, memory! from thy too faithful realms
Why conjure up the ghosts of former joys?
Most beautiful phantoms! why come here to mock
Your blandish promisings? Too glorious hopes! —
Things of a summer hour! why come back
With your unfading brilliance to this time,
Making more black the darkness — more profound
And overwhelming the involving gloom?
Oh, mem’ry! mem’ry! were the world’s cold things
Faithful and fadeless — as thy loveliness —
Man might esteem his brother truly man; —
Hearts might no more mistrust, grow cold, or chang’d; —
Truth build her up a shrine here on this earth,
And faith an altar!
Yet — oh, let me rest
For a brief moment, friends, within your arms: —
Friends of the sunshine and the darker hour,
Ye, too, are changeless in your gentleness!
Peace be around ye in your calm abode! —
Long be your home a blessing and repose! —
Peace be around ye, friends! — an aching heart
Breathes the deep pray’r for your immortal weal. —
Blessings and peace be with ye!
Fare ye well!
THE EASTERN GRAVE.
I made to me an idol – worshipping,
Alas! not my Creator! –
And therefore are my heart-strings severed thus; –
My idol is for ever reft from me; –
The high proud shrine is broken, and I come
Before Thee humbly!
My child was dying; — yes, my child
That had been all the world to me —
A thing too sweetly fair and mild,
To light my wayward destiny: —
And I — I saw her stifling there
For one blest breath of English air.
My child was dying — and afar
Beneath dread India’s burning sky —
She who had been so much the star
Of my intense idolatry.
Oh! could I bear her o’er the wave,
To lay her in an English grave!
It might not be; — the hope was vain; —
For she was dying — withering! — yes; —
And there came madness o’er my brain,
And agony that none might guess; —
For that I could not bear to part
With the sole treasure of my heart.
My darling blessed me! — and her voice
Seemed ever of the world on high,
Bidding my sorrowing heart rejoice,
For that the spirit could not die, —
And was but seeking out a home
Where scorching suns might never come.
My darling blessed me! — for she knew
I was alone — alone — alone!
Until at length my feelings grew
Unto her gentle spirit’s tone; —
Yea, the meek faith of childhood’s prayer
Pierced the deep gloom of that despair.
My child departed, and in peace–
But there was madness on my brain:
Yet He who bids distraction cease
Had mercy on the mother’s pain; —
And I — I saw not she was Laid
Beneath the palm-tree’s bowery shade.
They bare me from it, while despair
Had shattered reason; — and I lay
Without a thought, or fear, or care
Upon that far wild ocean way.
Alas! remembrance came too soon
To tell my desolated doom!
I sought to pray — I sought to weep; —
But prayer seemed frozen on my tongue;
And no blest tear-drop came to steep
A mind distraught thro’ grief and wrong.
And render’d rebel to its God —
Bending — but not to “kiss the rod.”
I looked again on Albion’s shore,
I saw its stately mansions rise; —
My English home beheld once more,
And gazed upon its cold bright skies; —
But oh! my spirit was away
In the lone grave, — by far Bombay.
The day of darkness fled at last: —
Now I can calmly think upon
The bitter sorrows of the past,
And my beloved, departed one: —
Yes! I can raise a tearful eye
And prayer-soothed heart to God on high!
And I am calm; — for I shall meet
My blue-eyed seraph girl in bliss; —
And oh! that feeling is so sweet —
So precious to a heart like this:
Like this it needed chastisement; —
In mercy was the “angel sent.”
Yes, I am happy; — for my child
Hath passed from suffering away;
And I — oh! I am reconciled
To think her dust sleeps at Bombay.
Yes! for His sake, who did her save,
I yield her to her Indian grave!
THE FESTAL HOUR.
Thou hast lov’d, fair girl! thou hast lov’d too well;
Thou art mourning now o’er a broken spell;
Thou hast pour’d thy heart’s rich treasures forth,
And art unrepaid for their priceless worth: –
Oh! there is not one tone in our mirth for thee:
Home! home! with thy sorrows flee.
It was the festal hour in Carthon’s hall;
And the bright tapers stream’d down golden light
Upon the jewel’d brow and waving plumes
Of gay young triflers, whose inspiring eyes
Flash’d over the spirits of the gazing crowd
A dream of ecstacy — too passing sweet
To be so brief and yet so beautiful.
It was the festal hour — the hour of mirth;
And snowy bosoms with their fair fresh hopes
Were throbbing joyously beneath the folds
Of splendid gossamer, — and fairy feet
Were bounding buoyant as the heart-hopes
Beneath the gauze’s fold,– and the wild breath
Of melting melody blent rapturously
With the light spirits and elastic steps
Of those fair floating visions, beautiful
In youth and splendour and deep loveliness.
It was the festal hour; — and thro’ the halls
Of Carthon’s princely dwelling, gentle forms
Were gliding thro’ the mazes of the dance,–
And the proud roofs and fretted architraves
Reverberated to the thrilling bursts
Of festal melodies of heart and soul,–
And eyes were flashing to the speaking eyes
Of mutual destinies.–and joyaunce reign’d
All radiant and supreme o’er every heart;
Yet not o’er every heart,– oh no! not all: —
There came one mourner to the glittering shrine
Of the presiding deity, alone,–
A solitary ‘mid the smiling throng,
A dweller in the world of a sear’d heart,
Of crush’d affections, and most wither’d hopes.
Yes! such was in the crowd: — but oh! to her
It was the hour of sorrow, tho’ she smiled
With the unsorrowing ones, and thro’ the dance
Glided most gaylily; but — but within
Her bursting soul, regret’s consuming lire —
The fever of sick thought — burn’d witheringly,
Ay, madden’d her poor brain. Its frenzied flash
Burst wildly from her eye, and on her cheek
Mantled its crimson flushing; and to her
The music’s most intoxicating breath
Yell’d more like chorus of incarnate fiends
Above a lost soul’s torture. Harrowing
Is mirth in madness! when the hollow heart,
Like a cold sepulchre, echoes to the tones
Of reckless merriment, and wreathing smiles
Glare like the tinsel o’er the coffin’ d dead.
There was one whom she had once well lov’d —
Lov’d with the fervour of a girl’s first love,
And the young trusting spirit of a fond
Enthusiastic being; — ay, she lov’d.
So hath the ivy wreath’d it, and entwined
Its delicate fibres with the dead nightshade.
Alas! they ne’er entwine; but stretch and break
And wither, one by one, and yet live on.
Oh! she was doom’d beyond the common lot; —
A being too unlike the daily herd
Of pulseless bosoms: — for to her love was
An all-pervading influence, swallowing up
All others in its passionate excess, —
Its fervent, intense, strange idolatry.
Years pass’d and came, and now they met again —
Within the ball room’s magic circle met, —
But met as strangers, with cold careless glance
And calm deportment — passionlessly calm.
Yet she had brav’d the wonder of the crowd,
And sneer of icy bosoms, thus to look
Upon that idolised being once again.
He stood beside her in the merry dance; —
Her footsteps echoed his, — so did her heart;
His voice — his smile, they were the very same
As were deep register’d within her breast,
From years that had departed: and a low
Faint murmur from the long, long voiceless chords
Breath’d thro’ that cold lone shrine of wasted love
An echo of the past. Oh! it was strange,
When as the music peal’d that wild sad strain–
“We met — ’twas in a crowd,” — ’twas strange to see
How proudly stood the poor heart-stricken girl
To look upon her murderer whirling on,
Unmindful of her bitter agony,
Heartlessly thro’ the mazes of the waltz.
Oh! it was strange to see that pierced gazelle,
With the shaft rankling in her snowy side,
Smiling from her blue eye most meltingly
Upon her mad destroyer. — Deathless love!
And this was their first meeting since he learn’d
That love — ay, love was very valueless;
And hooted from the world of wit and sense
As a raw rustic, only food for fools —
Good, doting, worthy, upright, honest fools,
A simple few — God wot!– within earth’s sphere.
* * * * * * * * *
This was their first — since then — first meeting hour,
But not as they had met in former years
Amid the heath-clad hills and ferny braes
Of her own simple home, when the glad sun
Went dancing o’er the earth — the fair, green earth —
Glad with its bursting streams and birds and flowers
Not as they once had met, by the lone shore,
With its blue curling billows, far away
From the false, fevering intercourse of crowds —
Save the strange seabird and the gaudy troop
Of gay ephemeral beings on the wing,
And the blue sky above — apart and lone,
In their own world of visions, beautiful
As the ephemeral creatures — and as frail.
Not as they once had met within the bower
Where the wild ivy twin’d, and roses shed
Their perfum’d breathings, and laburnum boughs,
With waving gold dependent, droop’d around
In their fantastic shadings, and the moon
Shed its pervading influence o’er the scene,
The flowers, the foliage, and the beating hearts
Within that chosen solitude enshrin’d,
Lighting the depths of passionate blue eyes
That gazed into each other silently,
Mingling with their sweet converse, and for them
Holding on high its bright confessional.
Not as they once had met on the green hill
That marks the place of tombs, when the red sun
Was sinking to its couch in the west waves,
And shedding mildly its last parting rays
O’er the low daisied couch whereon they knelt
The grave of her young brother: — not as then.
Not as they once had met beside the hearth –
Altar of home affections! — ‘mid the band
Of sparkling dark eyes and young simple hearts,
When that the evening dance and pensive song
Taught hands and hearts to mingle: — not as then.
The world had come between them since those hours–
Between her and his heart — and sever’d them
For ever and for ever! — and a gulph
Wide, yawning, desperate, as the stygian pass
Was thrown between them, which they might not step
Unless to their perdition! Then the world
Was as a blank to her — a cheerless waste; —
And she was alter’d — chang’d — yea, fearfully;
A thing all lone, and crush’d and withered,
Without one hope to light her weary path; —
A very wreck — ay, wreck did she become,
To struggle with the waves of destiny.
* * * * * * * * *
Morning was dawning grayly o’er the room
Where knelt a weeping girl — praying alone.
The night of mad excitement had pass’d by,
And with it pass’d the flushing from her brow,
Which now was cold and pallid; and the throb-
The loud quick throbbing of a bursting heart
Painfully sounded thro’ the silent room;
Her dark hair was loosen’d from its braiding,
And swept down over her fairy form
Like the dim clouds which shrouded up her fate;
Her face -was buried in the yielding down
With frantic pressure; — her white slender arms
Were thrown across the couch convulsively,
And the deep melting voice of woman’s grief,
In its most intense anguish, rose to heaven.
But now she feign’d no longer; — thus she pray’d: —
Father! oh Father, hear me! for I faint
Beneath my spirit’s utter agony!
Oh! I have suffer’d madness this gay night —
Bitterness more than mortal — in my soul,
And all — all — all but for to look once more
Upon his face who was my very life!
Yet if that fond offence be sin, Oh God,
Forgive thy poor frail creature! for I love —
And I have lov’d with an undying love,
And made to me an idol — worshipping
Alas! not my Creator; — slighting Thee;
And therefore arc my heart-strings sever’d thus; —
That idol is for ever reft from me;
Its shrine is shatter’d — for ’twas very dust; —
The altar lies in ashes; — and I weep.
Oh ye bright perishable bygone hours!
Can I forget your moments of delight?
Oh! I do mourn me much, and school my heart
To wean me from your buried loveliness,
But that will not depart; — all, all returns.
The dearer that I know and feel too well
They have for ever gone — for ever gone!
Oh, no! I never, never can forget.
Are not his arms still round me whilst I kneel? —
Are not his lips still press’d upon my brow? —
Is not his breath still warm upon my cheek? —
Is not his heart still beating unto mine? —
Are not his accents breathing in mine ear? —
Are not his words engraven on my soul
In fire that dies not, while the feeble lamp
Of my poor desolated life burns on?
Yet — for that I am mortal, Father, bear
Gently with my braised spirit. I have err’d —
Oh! I have widely wandered from Thy fold,
And I am punish’d heavily — Oh God!
And I do own Thy bitter mandate just:
But oh! I pray for him — yes, I must pray
Such agony of soul may not be his.
I come before Thee humbly, — not as once,
In utter absence of all heavenward love,
One image in my heart, and on my lips
Cold careless words unmeaningly rehearsed,
With all of prayer that ever pass’d their bounds
For him — my idol, for his earthly weal.
Oh! it was dreadful mockery thus to bend
The knee to Heaven, with dust my deity!
Yet, not now crave I earth’s honours for him;
Give him more, Father! — Father, give him more!
Give him forgiveness for my broken heart! —
Give him a home in heaven, to be with Thee! —
Give him a conscience cleans’d and purified! —
And grant me calm endurance, with a hope
Of glorious immortality, Oh God!
* * * * * * * * *
When that the morn was flinging wide its gates,
A mourner mingled with the passing crowd, —
Her fair high brow was pale and passionless
And gentle and composed; — there was no trace
Of the dark world within her gentle breast;
Yet thro’ that live long night of agony
Her eyes had never slumber’d — never slept!
Oh woman! woman! how thy tender frame
Bends like the lily to the rude rough storms
That desolate thy world! grief is thy lot,
And silence and deep sufferance: yet thy love
Too oft, alas! is lavish’d upon those
The most unworthy; and thy tenderness
Becomes the heartless jest of knaves or fools —
Till, like the snow drop all untimely chill’d,
Thou sleepest ‘mid the dreamless slumberers
Until the day of doom– the dreadful day.
Hurl the destroyer down to deepest hell! —
The traitor’s portion in the dark abyss!
* * * * * *
This was one victim — there be many such,
Whom Destiny’s mad waves are whirling on
To what? and wherefore? — speak, Eternity!
THE BELOVED ONE.
We loved him; but he left us!
We loved him; — he was young and free,
And merry as May morn;
The very soul of festive glee,
A breast without a thorn;
A blyther being never yet
Stepp’d o’er the early dew, —
A creature whom no cold regret
Or dismal feeling knew;
And yet, we know that he is gone, —
Our own, our must beloved one.
His glance was beautiful as spring,
His step was like a fawn;
He bounded like some fairy thing,
He smiled like early dawn; —
His lips were like wild roses laid
Upon a bank of pearl, —
His brow no withering care could shade-
Time had no dart to hurl:
Oh, no! he was so free from care,
His very glance defied despair.
His voice was like the merriment
Of a young bird’s in June;
Light as the breeze that waves the bent,
His heart was still in tune,
Like a sweet tempered melody,
You could hear nought beside
But music — music, mirth and glee,
And then those sweet tones died.
He sate in silence by the hearth
Which had no dearer joy on earth.
There came a shadow o’er that brow,
That eye grew sunk and dim;
Oh! I can well remember now
The change that pass’d o’er him; —
His smile came sadly — seldom came,
His voice grew dull and low,
The eye of light — the soul of flame —
Burned down, — they ceased to glow.
And there was silence, deep and lone;
We lost our heart’s beloved one.
Yes, he was changed, — we knew not how.
But hourly he pined;
There came a languor o’er his brow
Intense, but undefined;
His very spirit seemed consumed
By some undying thought —
Some bitter memory exhumed —
Some grief to madness wrought.
Yes, he grew changed; — he drooped, he died; —
And for us — what had life beside?
I sometimes marvel, when despair
Relaxes her cold sway,
How being so intensely fair
So soon could pass away; —
How soul, etherially formed
As his, could bend beneath
Thoughts which have earthlier hearts deformed,
And yield it up to death: —
I sometimes marvel, even now,
The why? — the wherefore? — and the how?
We know not — we can never know
The dark, cold reason why
Such bounding bosoms are brought low,
Why such bright beings die;
Alas! the mind is shattered,
And the heart’s citadel
Hath all its fresh hopes scattered
Like Adam’s — when he fell;
With but the one undying thought,
There hath been deep destruction wrought!
And be it so! — yet it is bliss
To feel that hearts can live
True in a weary world like this,
Which no reward will give
For silent uncomplaining woe,
Save mockery’s cold breath: —
Yes! one reward — one gift, we know.
And that reward is — Death!
A happy boon to all that weep,
A dreamless — an eternal sleep.
He died! — our own beloved one died!
We missed him every day,
We missed him bounding by our side,
We were no longer gay;
We missed him in the household mirth
And in the household prayer;
There was no cherished scene on earth
But that we missed him there;
His place was lone, his smile was gone, —
We wept for our beloved one.
We wept — we mourned; and yet we knew
That happily we passed,
That cheerfully his spirit flew
Unto those joys amassed
By his young mind, ere icy death
Had fettered up its springs;
Oh! with that long, departing breath
Earth and all meaner things,
Its loves, its hopes, its fears were gone, —
Heaven welcomed our beloved one.
Tell me, ye wise — ye nobly virtuous, tell!
Is it a crime in heaven to love too well?
To bear too tender or too firm a heart?
To act a lover or a Roman’s part?
The freshness of life’s morn had pass’d away —
Its bloom was wither’d — its young sun had set; —
Sorrow o’ershadow’d it; — all had become
Deep desolation and unvarying gloom.
She had none to love her — none to yield one sigh
In sacred sympathy unto her fate.
She was alone in a cold cruel world,
Without a home — a friend — a single tie,
But that which desolates eternally, —
Even everlastingly destroys — destroys!
Fair as young morn, and mild as opening day,
Like some fair lily by the wandering breeze
Borne to a thistled desert, so she bloom’d
Amid the heartless crowd, and was alone —
Dependant on the endless fantasies
Of a capricious, griping, sordid few
For an existence — oh! how hardly earn’d!
She was an orphan — she was desolate!
To such there is lack of consolation.
She had no young brothers, tender and brave,
To shield her in life’s shocks. She had not one
Fair gentle sister to direct, or soothe,
Or share her destiny. She had no sire —
No doting mother — to point out the shoals
In life’s dark ocean She became a wreck!
There be griefs which naught can mitigate, —
There be woes spurning participation —
Woes — woes — deep, untold, weeping woes,
For which there is “no balm in Gilead!”
* * * * * * *
Reason fell prostrate ‘neath the blasting breath
Of the destroyer; — ‘neath that pestilence
Its powers all crumbl’d into nothingness.
The fiend had fled — the dastard and the fiend —
Far o’er the distant waves; — awhile deep slept
Heaven’s awful vengeance, or the sea had ‘whelmed
The dastard ruffian. But he lives to bear
The hell of conscience! — ay, the seventh hell!
What now had she to do with life? Alas!
Not long did she resist her destiny: —
Her heart was broken, — and oh! she was lost!
The waters clos’d above her, but less cold
Than the world’s breath, or scantily dol’d good.
Yet she had gone to her untimely doom
In the black darkness of intense despair.
The beautiful pale girl lay cold in death,
Her mild blue eye for ever, ever clos’d;
Her long fair hair floated amid the weeds;
She slept beneath the waters, cold — cold — cold.
Where must her waking be?
Tremble, oh man!
Man! — mad destroyer of the trusting heart! —
Behold the bitter deed of every day!
Weep for the Suicide! — ay, give her tears —
Tears — tears! blood-tears give the poor Suicide —
The victim of man’s love! — the lone pale girl,
Defenceless and an orphan!
If there be,
As creeds — (though uncongenial to our own,
Our proud, fair English faith) — as creeds aver,
A middle state, where unredeemed souls
In time atone for sin by penance drear,
And win a place in heaven, — if it be so,
Oh! may such faith, for the poor Suicide,
Be God’s own sacred Gospel!
Most just Judge
Of Earth and highest Heaven! do Thou look down
In wrath, rememb’ring mercy. She was dust —
Frail, feeble, sinful dust! Pardon, Oh God,
Our sister! — yea, our sister that hath err’d;
Yet — for that she was mortal, pardon her!
And — for that we are human and may fall,
Shield us from sin! — do Thou surround and save!
“How lovely is the world of dreams!”
Beautiful dreams! beautiful dreams!
Come to my soul with your exquisite gleams;
Gleams of the land of the shadowless hours,
Gleams of the regions of fadeless flowers,
Gleams of enchanted bowers, moonlighted streams;
Beautiful dreams! beautiful dreams!
Come to my weary heart, come to my slumbers;
Breathe to my bosom your fairy-like numbers;
Come to my waking hours, come to my sleeping,
Every sense in your anodyne steeping;
With your sweet whisperings ever be near me,
Let the light breath of your spirit -wings cheer me.
Ever flit round me, ever flit o’er me,
All the beloved– the departed, restore me;
Bring me the memories colour’d by gladness,
Bring me the feelings untainted by sadness,
Bring me the eyes with your own bright beams,
Beautiful dreams! beautiful dreams!
Bear to my bosom the light hearts of childhood,
The birds and young flowers of my own far wild wood, —
The hills and the glen where the clear brook is stealing,
Youth’s sunny visions, hope’s gay revealing,
All with which earth a pure paradise seems, —
Beautiful dreams! beautiful dreams!
Whence do ye come, dear mysterious things,
With the rich hues of your magical wings?
Where is your airy home? where have ye birth?
Oh! ye have might and power over the earth!
Beautiful, shadowy, exquisite things,
What is the spell which your potency flings?
Come to me, tell me earth gloweth with light;
Tell me its destinies ever are bright;
Tell me no wearying care preys on the heart —
Tell me its sweetest hopes never depart; —
Tell — till reality dull fancy seems,
Beautiful dreams! beautiful dreams!
Ay, let me dream — still let me dream
Chasing a rainbow, or wooing a beam,
So it beguileth the wearisome way;
Sad hearts do journey to shadowless day —
Beautiful dreams! with your rosiest smiles
Banish earth’s weariness, sorrow, and wiles.
Give to the memory — give to the breast
Iris-tinged visionings, places of rest,
Smiles all sincerity, words that are truth,
Pleasures that make them not wings with gay youth;
Oh! let me hope there is joy in your gleams,
Beautiful dreams! beautiful dreams!
THE ISLAND PENITENT
There is blood upon that hand!
Far ‘mid the rocks of Mann’s wild shore
An aged sinner dwelt;
But earthly tongue might never speak
The pangs that sinner felt.
Par in a cavern, by the shore
Of dark Castrooan’s flood.
A fearful voice wail’d evermore, —
“Old sinner blood for blood!”
Yet many a day had that old man mourn’d
Thro’ a weary pilgrimage;
But can hard fare or penance drear
Guilt’s burning pangs assuage?
The tears of heartfelt penitence
Are register’d in heaven;
But that gray man never shed a tear,
That old man was unshriven.
Oh! he bare a deadly sin, I ween;
The voice wail’d “Blood for blood!”
And the Islemen said, misdeeds had been
By dark Castrooan’s flood;
And that old man’s harp was the white, white bone,
Its strings were soft golden hair;
And the sinner in his sleep would moan,
“Dead! dead! altho’ so fair!”
And the simple Islemen many a day
Held marvel of the same, —
And many a mother bless’d herself
For thoughts she might not name, —
And many a maiden’s cheek was pale
To cross the gloomy strath;
Alas! there was a weary curse
Upon the old man’s path.
There is a headland bare and bold
By Mona’s lonely Isle,
And there the wanderer may behold
A solitary pile:
The hoary sinner rear’d that pile —
That time-worn cruciform,
And there full many a day mourn’d he
Above the mist and storm.
There is a cave within the rock
As dark as evil thought;
When winds howl’d loud, and waves dash’d high,
Its gloom the sinner sought;
When not a ray of heaven’s light
Could that wild temple pierce,
Oh! he would mock the mad tempest
With laughter loud and fierce!
Oh! what is elemental wrath
To the deep mental strife?
Alas! the sinner’s bitter laugh
With agony was rife;
It mock’d, yea, mock’d the elements,
It mock’d his own sad soul;
Woe and alas! for evil hearts
And minds that spurn control!
And years went by, and from his cave
The sinner pass’d away;
None knew the wherefore, when, or how, —
None know it to this day!
Where’er he went, whate’er his fate,
All dark Castrooan’s flood
Could never from his conscience cleanse
The memory of blood. —
Go, view those monuments of eld,
They tell a fearful tale
Of deeds that blanch the cheek, and make
The stoutest heart to quail;
Alas! there was doom for the sinner gray
That passeth not with time;
Oh, well may the Islemen shuddering pray,
“Lord, save us from all crime!”
MY CHILDHOOD’S PRAYER
“Oh! there is mildew in the lapse
Of a few miserable years!”
My childhood’s prayer! my childhood’s prayer!
‘Tis ringing ever in mine ear,
With memories of sweet days that were
When earth was new, and hope was dear;
When not a cloud, or sigh, or tear
Seemed traced within my horoscope, —
Nor bitter pang, nor burning fear,
But all things whispered hope, sweet hope!
Alas! there hath been sin and can’
Between me and my childhood’s prayer.
My childhood’s prayer! — its tones have died,
Time! ever o’er this sea of thine;
And deeds and days and thoughts of pride
Have traced a fearful fiery sign
Upon this fated heart of mine: —
Thank God, that desolating woe
Cannot efface from its cold shrine
The simple prayer of “long ago!” —
Oh! ever freshly, greenly there,
Is flourishing my childhood’s prayer.
My childhood’s prayer! — oh, not one flower
But minds me of its purity, —
The lowliest daisy in the bower
Brings back that gentle prayer to me,
With all the joys of infancy: —
I never look upon a star
But that its radiance seems to be
A beacon from the days afar —
A memory of joys that were
All fleeting — but my childhood’s prayer.
My childhood’s prayer! — each infant tone
Was lisped beside my mother’s knee:
Alas! my heart hath harder grown,
Beneath a chilling destiny;
Yet never from my memory
Shall fade the beautiful, the true; —
Sweet guardian of mine infancy,
This heart still fondly clings to you; —
Each snowy thread ‘mid thy dark hair
Seems murmuring of my childhood’s prayer.
My childhood’s prayer! — its tones have fled,
Its first fresh feelings all are flown;
My feelings now are cold and dead; —
Alas! the world seems darker grown: —
And that home circle — they — mine own —
Oh! they are scattered far and wide;
Their destinies are dim — unknown —
Their life is now a troubled tide;
They — they who were so free from care,
When murmuring our childhood’s prayer.
And she — that pale and gentle child,
With wavy locks of golden hair —
She that had eyes so blue, so mild, —
Oh, she was very, very fair,
Like what I’ve fancied angels were;
And then there was a black-eyed boy,
One whom methought we could not spare,
He was so much my father’s joy —
They slumber where the earthworms are,
They breathe no more our childhood’s prayer.
My childhood’s prayer! — the gentle dead,
The living bring it to my heart;
Tho’ time hath bleach’d each parent’s head
And sped forth many a withering dart,
And made the destinies apart
Of kindred souls that should have blended, —
And bade earth’s vanities depart,
And youth’s most gorgeous dreams be ended;
Yet all things holy, fresh, and fair
Seem murmuring of that early prayer.
Alone, at the deep, dead midnight,
Upon a tossed and weary bed, —
Or wandering by the pale moon’s light
Amid the slumberings of the dead, —
Or when day’s parting glory shed
A dreamy glow o’er earth and skies, —
Or when the mists of twilight spread,
Deceptive, o’er realities, —
Oh! every hour and every where
Hath haunted me that early prayer.
There have been hours of deep distress —
There have been years of grief and care —
There hath been utter wretchedness —
A darkness that could think no prayer;
Yet in the darkest days that were,
A gentle voice from bygone years
Thrilled to the brink of black despair,
And gave the sinner words and tears:
Yes, I have wept, and pleaded there
My childhood’s prayer! my childhood’s prayer!
LINES WRITTEN IN A CHURCH-YARD
Yet a few days and dream-perturbed nights,
And I shall slumber well — but where? — no matter.
Yes, it is tranquil here, amid the dead;
Hush’d is the breeze, and still each dewy bough
Where the young woodlarks nestle, — but they sleep:
Yes, all are sleepers here, upon the hill,
Where in their “narrow cells for ever laid”
The fathers of the hamlet rest in dust;
Where the bright, buoyant and unthinking host —
Fair young ephemerals of yesterday —
Are sleeping silently, and full as deep,
With the pale daisies and new springing grass
Decking the grave’s repose; — ay, there; — look — there!
Do they not slumber well? — they are gone home,
Unto the land where sorrow is no more.
Oh! it is sweet, alone, amid the dead,
With night and meditation, — holy night!
Its awful stillness and its host of stars,
And the intensity of cloudless blue —
Memory’s too faithful mirror — ay ’tis sweet
Here to retrace the visionary past,
To muse on life’s deluding vanities,
Its gilded mockeries, its baseless joys.
But some few fleeting years, and they who lie
Around so peacefully — ay, these — were all
Reckless, rejoicing beings; — ran their race,
And then gave place to others: — so it is.
I too shall fill my niche in death’s vast cell,
And years shall not elapse until I come
To claim a pillow of the quiet grave.
Yes. there is that within which telleth me
To wean my wild affections from the world,
For length of days or earthly happiness
May never come to me: — and it is well.
Life is a wilderness of arid soil,
And happiness is a celestial flower
That blooms not on its waste — blooms not for me.
Then, why should I repine? but lay me down
And wait the joys that never may decay.
And yet this heart burst from its infancy
With burning hopes and aspirations high,
And worlds of fetterless thought, and dreams of earth —
Vividly beautiful — without one shade.
Alas! the pinions of mind’s heavenward wing
Are pierced and drooping; — the bright colouring
Of life’s gay canvas hath a tarnish now;
And cold Reality — that hideous ghoul —
Steps in and mocks at my poor, wingless hope
And bids me bend to fate.
Oh! I have seen
The canker in the rose — the blossom fade–
The lily severed from its shielding nest —
The violet plucked — the humble daisy crushed —
The gay young carolling bird pierced on the wing —
The gorgeous butterfly, upon a flower
Sipping its meed of sweetness, shivered
Into a mass of atoms! — and can I
Marvel at the brief date of earthly joys?
I ask not aught of life: — I look not here
For that which satisfies a heart like mine.
True it had one wild wish, but — it is o’er:
Its beatings now are sounding like the clods
I sadly tread upon: — where it shall rest
I may not say — but oh! I know ’tis soon!
* * * * * * *
I feel so very strangely, whilst the moon
Glides brightly thro’ heaven’s cerulean arch
Tinging the channel with a silvery glow,
And the wave rushes ‘gainst the beaten rock
With mournful dash, and screams the boding owl
From yonder mouldering turret, sad and lone,
With note foretelling death! — ay, kind, cold death!
I have strange dreamings of an early grave,
As if I soon should pass to its repose, —
Wild, vagrant musings of an aching heart;
Yet, when these balmy zephyrs gently fan
The fevered glow of my poor burning cheek —
My head reclined upon tins peaceful mound —
I feel ’twere sweet to die, to lay me down
Within the shrining of an early grave.
And when my time does come, and I am laid
In a low grave on this mausoleum hill, —
When o’er my humble turf the willow waves
Its mournful whispers to the night wind’s breast, —
Let those who loved me come unto the spot
And weep some few true tears above my rest;
Ay, let them be in sad sincerity,
For one lone vigil o’er a weary heart.
* * * * * * *
Mine hath been other destiny than fair; —
Yet, in my utter wretchedness, I pray
That none beside may ever shadow forth
Aught that is dark in mine. I shall go home —
Unto the only rest for all who mourn.
World! thou hast wrecked a heart — (poor luckless thing!) —
That dreamed thee lovely thro’ a host of ill.
‘Tis useless now to speak of its repay,
Save that it merited not thy cold breath; —
It better held of thee. Nathless, ’tis well —
‘Tis better that its course is well nigh done:
There will be no disquiet in the grave; —
That is a very, very pleasant shrine
To wasted hopes and feelings all too warm
For the cold intercourse of this dark world.
Oh! ’twill be very free from aching breasts,
Such as will haunt us here.
Sweet pallid Moon!
Shroud not thy radiance from my ardent gaze
Yet awhile; — pour thy calm splendour to me:
Oh! shine, sweet Moon! for soon the time must come
When I shall gaze no longer on thy face, —
But thou wilt rise and shine upon my grave:
Guide, then, some hapless wanderer like to me
To hold lone watchings on the funeral hill —
To muse as I do o’er the fevered past,
The dark corroding weariness of heart,
That lays so many low — brings youthful heads
From their spring glory and their bursting hopes
To pillow with the worm. Oh happiness!
That thou shouldst be a dream — a sickly breath —
A transient vapour — fleeting as the breeze!
Oh misery! that thou shouldst riot on
The glowing cheek and laughter-loving eye,
And turn them wan and rayless! Human life!
What art thou? and what art thou, glorious Moon!
That thou shouldst be so bright, and I so sad?
Would I were some cold planet like to thee,
Pulseless and passionless and bright and cold,
Gazing down carelessly on bloodhound care
And griefs that waste men’s souls! Oh Moon! to think
Such lovely radiance should thus fall upon
All that is dark and drear and hideous
In this poor world of ours! — that thou shouldst hold
Thy high confessional for woes like mine!
* * * * * *
Yes! thy mild rays are resting on the graves,
Sparkling in dewy gems, — mild — ay, most mild,
And wan and pallid as the brow of Death!
Moon! thon canst never warm the sleeping dust!
Thy brightest glory will not enter there: —
I too so woo thy hallowed radiance: —
But Moon! thou never, never canst illume
The grave of hope — a chilled enthusiast breast!
MY ISLAND HOME
“Oh! what can sanctify the joys of home
Like one fond glance from off life’s troubled foam!”
My Island home! my Island home!
The lone — the loved — the fair — the free;
Pale emerald set in pearly foam,
One Island heart beats high for thee;
Amid the whirlwinds and the storms,
“Whate’er my fate, where’er I roam,”
The thought of thee my bosom warms,
My Island home! my Island home!
My Island home! this bounding breast
Swells with the patriot’s truest glow;
Oh! if here be one tranquil rest,
One home of refuge here below,
Thou art that rest, thou lonely star!
For thee the wanderers cease to roam;
To thee the warriors turn from far,
My Island home! my Island home!
Oh Mona! — daughter of the flood!
Oh Mona, Mona! — graih my cree!
The faithful heart — the pure — the good,
The brave — the wise — beat high for thee!
Genius of Mona! hear thy child
In thy fair temple’s glorious dome
Breathing her spirit to thy wild,
Sweet Island home! sweet Island home!
THE YOUNG CONSUMPTIVE
Ay! but to die,
This sensible warm motion to become
A kneaded clod: ’tis too horrible!
Alas, sweet sister, hope no more for me,
For I am dying — dying! Blessed God!
I would not murmur at my destiny,
But bend me to Thy will, and “kiss the rod.”
Yes, I am dying! Earth can do no more;
My life is ebbing rapidly away;
The parting struggle will be shortly o’er.
And I shall pass from the fair lace of day —
Unto an early grave amid the hills —
A sleep that shall be dreamless: — yet ’tis best; —
Mine no wrecked hope shall be — no pang that kills.
Oh God, ’tis just! — I bow to Thy behest!
Yes, I am dying! — Cling not as the vine
Unto my soul, sister! — I must depart: —
Oh ye beloved ones, do not seek to twine
Your earthly fetters closer round my heart! —
For I must leave ye, — tho’ the village bell
Is ringing out its most heart-cheering peal;
Gay, gloriously-triumphant doth it swell
On the young breeze to heaven; — yet, oh! I feel
Such bridal peal for me may never ring
Its joyous burden. I shall lay my head
Where the warm sunbeams ever gently fling
Their brightest haloes o’er the early dead.
Yet, I had dreams of happiness to come
Upon the laughing face of God’s fair earth —
Unmingled happiness and bliss with some
That will regret me at the board and hearth: —
Tell her I loved her to the last — the last!
True, I am young to love; yet so it is.
Oh, that this bitterness of death were past!
Oh, that my spirit were in heaven’s bliss!
And I am young to die! — ay, young to leave
The pleasant voices and the mountain streams; —
I who so vividly sweet dreams could weave
Of life and love and hope — (ay, they were dreams!)
And bless the God who gave me faculties
So to enjoy and hope, and to rejoice
In His most glorious earth By His decrees
The spell is broken, broken! — yea, the voice —
The voice you cannot hear hath whispered me,
And angel forms do beckon; yes, I go
Unto a home in blest eternity.
Sisters, I did not think to leave ye so,
In my young morn of manhood! Sisters, come
Nearer unto your brother; — he departs.
Ye will be lonely in your simple home,
But guard his memory within your hearts, —
And plant young roses o’er his early grave;
And, sisters — sisters! lead her to the spot,
And kneel together where the willows wave.
In death, in dust, I would not be forgot.
Farewell, my sisters! — oh, a long adieu! —
The day seems passing from me; — yet, come near; —
I still would cling to life to gaze on you
And her who made existence doubly dear.
And this is dying! — Oh! the agony
Of the departing spirit! — Sisters, now
Kneel in your sorrowing, and pray for me —
And wipe the cold, cold death-dew from my brow; —
Pray that the struggle may be quickly o’er; —
Pray!– Oh! I bless ye with my latest breath!
Weep not, my sisters! — I shall moan no more!
“Weep not! — I bless ye in the throes of — death!
MY BROTHER’S GRAVE
I weep, but not rebellious tears–
I mourn, but not in hopeless woe.
C. A. Bowles.
My brother’s grave! my brother’s grave!
Tis lowly in the shade,
Spring’s fragrant blossoms o’er it wave,
In early sweets arrayed;
Oh! ’tis not long since he who lies
So cold, so pale beneath,
Bloom’d like the laurel, which defies
Dread Winter’s blasting breath.
Come, view the spot where flow’rets wave;
There he does calmly rest
In the shroud, the coffin, in the grave,
With cold earth on his breast;
Yes, he has gained that last low bed
Which all the living must,
And there my own beloved dead
Mingles with kindred dust.
My brother’s grave! — and can it be? —
Those words do sound so strange;
He used to roam the hills with me —
The glens we used to range —
He used to mark the wild birds’ flight
Beside the rushing Lhaane;
I cannot think that eye of light
May never beam again!
I cannot think that that blythe boy
Hath ceased to roam the dell;
Could cold Death dim — could it destroy
The one we loved so well —
The bright black eye — the bounding breast?
Oh! be each doubt forgiven!
Is he not numbered with the blest? —
Is not his portion Heaven?
Oh! yes, he slumbers deeply there, —
The grave’s oblivious gloom
Shrineth a bud — more dear, more fair
Ne’er entered to the tomb!
Oh, childhood’s hours! — oh, other years!-
Ye visionary things! —
I’m borne into your smiles and tears
On memory’s mystic wings.
Your blissful dreams, oh, other years!
Come rushing o’er my soul,
Your host of joys, of hopes, of fears,
Of thoughts which spurn control;
Ye point to that calm holy shade
Where sweet pale violets wave,
To the green hill where he is laid —
My brother’s early grave.
” — Beautiful, beautiful childhood!
I weep your earthly glory; — ’tis a light
Lent to the new-born spirit, that goes out
With the first idle breath!”
My darling boy! my darling boy! —
My loved — my beautiful — my bright!
I hail thy natal day with joy
And thankfulness and deep delight!
Another year hath passed away,
My Willie! thou art old to-day.
Two fleeting years, and thou art now
As brightly-beautiful as Hope —
A being pure as Alpine snow,
Angelic as the forms that float
Over a lover’s doting dream,
At rest beside a woodland stream.
My gentle child! my gentle child!
Mine own sweet Willie! let me look
Into those eyes so darkly mild,
And in their pure and pensive book
Read every hope so fondly nursed,
When their blue beams unfolded first.
Bless thee, my darling! — bless thee! — bless!
Oh! that thou couldst but fathom now
The deep, undying tenderness
With which I gaze upon thy brow —
That gentle brow — so fair, so mild —
Yea, God Almighty bless my child!
Here, twine thy tiny arms around
My neck, thou little cherish’d one!
Can any other arms be found
To clasp thee so, and dote upon
Thy little stores of prattling mirth? —
Oh! none can love thee more on earth ‘
Those little toddling feet of thine
May totter to some other knee,
Those darling lips that have to mine
Grown from their earliest infancy,
Oh! they will press some other’s, boy!
But shall they yield them half the joy
Thy dear caresses gave to me,
Thro’ many a bygone weary hour?
Oh Willie! it is misery
To feel my weakness, and thy power:
My darling boy! from thee to part
Must prove a death-pang to this heart.
Ay, laugh, thou young bewitching sprite,
Thro’ those soft curls of sunny hair,
As the young threaded sunbeams bright:
Boy! boy! should ever murderous Care
Set his cold signet upon thee,
How it would blight my destiny!
Bless thee, my darling! I am sad
Whilst thou art peering curiously
Into my dismal face; but glad —
Right glad must I this morning be;
Yes, little love, we must be gay,
If ever, — on thy natal day!
Yet, my blest baby, in the hours
Of coming years, remember me!
For be it thorns, or be it flowers,
One heart blends with thy destiny, — .
One heart would burst if thou couldst prove
Forgetful of its early love.
“Dy banner jee shiu, Victoria!”*
* God bless thee, Victoria!
Like a young radiation of May dawn
Came she unto her people’s yearning gaze,
Our daughter of the Islands! Ay, she came
Fair and effulgent as the glowing beam
Of the young morning, or the ladye moon,
Chaste in her silvery car of holy light,
Far up amid the islands of the stars,
Supremely radiant! So shone she on
Assembled myriads in worship mute,
And dumb with ecstacy — and yet not dumb,
For when that peerless creature — that beloved —
Looked with the star -blaze of her glorious eyes,
Upon the spell-bound — when Victoria smiled
In native loveliness and queenly grace
On her assembled subjects, — then the shout
Of rapturous millions filled the glowing air
With loud devout acclaim and fervent prayer
For the young gentle one — their very own —
That heaven might shield her on the proud old throne
Of royal England — Sovereign of the free —
Queen of the Islands — Empress of the flood!
Yea, the spell burst before a mightier spell,
The magic of her presence: and she came
Unto a loud rejoicing of the brave —
A nation’s fealty– a world’s bright hope!
Amid her people went Victoria
To God’s high temple, and did kneel her down
Before the sovereign Lord of Earth and Heaven —
The God who gave her empire — He who gave
A nation — yea, a nation wonderful
Amid earth’s destinies, unto her hand.
She knelt amid her people, and did pray
For grace and guidance and support and faith.
And wisdom to discharge most righteously
The manifold duties of her awful trust.
Came there no answer to that intense prayer
Of royal innocence and artless youth?
Beloved one! thine own — thy father’s God —
The God who answereth, bcholdeth thee
Bending before his altar, laying low
Thine earthly crown before thy heavenly King,
For blessing and approval: take it up,
For He doth bless thee, maiden! — He will bless!
She bent her gentle head to God’s high priest,
And with the oil — the consecrated oil —
He did anoint the Princess; he did wed
That young bright being to the cares of state,
And he did place a crown of purest gold
On her fair regal brow, and blessed her;
And she arose a Queen most consecrate
By Heaven and earth, — unrivalled — uncontrolled.
And there was joy in Britain, joy — deep joy,
And thundering volleys startled the old hills
With their mad, roaring, joyous savagery:
The loud shrill clarion and the bugle note
Woke up the echoes from the silent caves
Of the old years departed, and the ghosts
Of sleeping ages came in snowy troops
Amid etherial cloudlets, to behold
Our young Britannia — our most worshipped Queen —
Amid her country’s hearts — her firmest throne.
The trumpets pealed loud notes of victory;
Ay, one deep hymn of gladness rent the air,
One most astounding paean rose to heaven,
And the proud roofs of that gray abbey rung
With the strong exultation of the proud —
The universal anthem of the free.
The plumes waved o’er many a noble brow
Radiant with joy and pearls, and the rich robes
Rustled imperially, and glittering gold
And sparkling diamonds paled in the sweet blaze
Of brighter eye-beams; — yea, they lent a glow,
A richer lustre to the jewellery
In the proud coronets round England’s throne:
And ‘mid that throng of England’s proudest fair,
Her noblest dames and her most stately peers,
And priests and elders, stood Victoria!
Supremely lovely in her youthfulness,
With her blue humid eye and fair high brow
And sun-brown braided tresses, and a form
Childlike and buoyant as celestial Hope, —
A Queen in very girlhood! How hearts beat
Tumultuously in the inspiring scene!
The brave of many lands, the choicest flower
Of foreign chivalry bent low before
Our daughter of the islands! — yea, they came
O’er the bine rolling wave to honour her
Called by the voice of God in early youth
To reign a Queen in princely Albion!
‘Twas beautiful to mark those kingly men —
Those lion-hearted chiefs of “hundred fights”
Bending before her girlhood’s gentleness,
Melting beneath her smile, and breathing prayers
On her most royal head! — ’twas beautiful!
No, not a heart but vowed deep fealty;
No, not one thought but blessed her; — not one sword
But would have leaped — ay, and most murderously —
From out its jewelled sheath, had one low word
Murmured disloyalty to one so dear!
Oh! it was rare, and very beautiful,
To mark the many and the motley hearts
Breathing, in unison most exquisite,
One fervent aspiration — “Bless the Queen!”
* * * * * * *
The spell is broken, and the dreamy host
Hath vanish’d as a vision, — ay ’tis done;
But there doth linger yet within my soul
A memory of beauty not to fade; —
Oh no! that must not fly me, tho’ the tones —
The thrilling tones of those remembered sounds
Will cease to echo through the dreariness
Of the dull silent heart, — tho’ that brow
Will grow so sorrowful — so changed — so sad
Beneath the pressure — ay, a very crown!
That memory is mine: — and yet, sweet one,
Methinks a time must come — oh! yes, will come —
The weary, weary apathetic hours,
When thou wilt cast that crown from off thy head,
And wish it were a wreath of gay wild flowers
Worn by a peasant girl within a cot.
“Oh! the crown of ever-glorious England
Sits not light upon the brow that wears it;”
Thorns, unseen thorns pierce, tho’ invisible;
Cares are the gems that stud it — heavy cares;
Woe for the sorrows of a royal breast —
The unshared — unparticipated grief!
There is a lonely island in the sea,
A simple little island of the mist,
Whose hills are bare and treeless, where the winds
Make wild, wild melody in warring o’er
The humble valleys where the willows wave: —
But Mona’s breasts are loyal — yea, devout
In their deep worship of our gentle Queen, —
Most true in their simplicity, and loud
In fervent homage and pure fealty
To the first Queen of Mann — Victoria!
The first young Sovereign within the wild
Old kingdom of Mac Lear! — the very first
For whom so joyously they rent the skies
With long reiteration, “Bless the Queen!”
The caves rang echoes back from fairy land,
And the old spirits of the many spells
Came to the happy day rejoicingly; —
Ay, the pale shades of the gray warriors
Came from their rocky beds on Dalby’s brow
At the loud summons of that revelry,
And the old Druids in Glendarraght’s caves
Flitted in airy shrouds; the fairies too
Came from their solitudes in fairy land —
Their verdant palaces, by the strong spell —
The magic of Victoria’s lauded name;
And all good angels of the fairy isle
Mingled with those lone children of the mist,
And loudly rose the long and fervent prayer,
And thus its intense burden swelled to heaven:–
“God save thee, maiden of a royal race!
May life to thee be ever freshly fair,
At evening as at morn! may no rude thorns
Serpent-like mingle with the many flowers
Scattered profusely in thy young career!
May happy, happy years of blessed peace
In calm unclouded sunshine pass o’er thee!
May bright eyes grow brighter for thy presence!
May hearts live on in still unbrokenness,
And earth’s dark destinies be purified,
Whilst our Victoria reigns!”
DREAMS OF THE PAST
Could I trace out that fabulous stream,
Which washes remembrance away!
Dreams of the past, repose — repose!
Ye do but mock my way
Like to the wild-fire light which glows
Whore pallid spectres play.
Dreams of the past! I feel your smiles
Play o’er my spirit yet —
A lovely memory that beguiles
The pangs of cold regret!
Dreams of the past! ’tis better far
Ye should not rise and shine
Like the pale radiance of a star
Above the gloomy mine!
Ye but reveal the cheerless gloom
Of an unhappy breast,
Where joy and hope have made a tomb —
A too untimely rest.
Dreams of the past! ye are too bright
To cross the present hours,
Like meteors to a wintry night,
Or birds to leafless bowers,
Or bursts of music ‘mid the knells
Toll’d for the early dead,
Or harp-notes amid maniac yells,
Or flowers o’er Death’s cold bed.
Dreams of the past! oh, mock me not
Ye send my soul astray,
Ye bid me murmur at my lot: —
I fain would soar away
Beyond the arrowy storms of fate,
Beyond this world of rare: —
Dreams of the past! ’tis all too late,
To mourn for joys that were.
Have ye one hope — have ye one ray
To light the depths of care —
Save from the rays long pass’d away
To heighten the despair?
Have ye no ray — no cheering gleam? —
Be the dark doubt forgiven! —
Oh! yes, there is one morning beam —
The blessed hope of Heaven.
Dreams of the past! more bright, more fair,
And yet more dear than ye —
That blessed hope dispels despair,
And leads to brighter day;
And oh! for every storm-toss’d barque
On rocks of sorrow riven,
Shall rise that day-beam to the dark —
That blessed hope of Heaven.
TO MY SISTER
ON HEARING HER SING “OH, LEAVE ME TO MY SORROW.”
Oh, ’tis the melody
I’ve heard in former years,
Each note recalls to me
Forgotten smiles and tears.
T. Haynes Bayly.
Touch, oh! touch those chords again,
Fling once more that deep spell o’er me,
Breathe, oh! breathe that mystic strain,
Bring the shadowy past before me;
Sing, do sing the song I love,
That wild minstrelsy of sadness,
Earthward breathed from Heaven above,
Just to soothe the brow of madness.
Anne! ’twas thus that thou didst sing; —
Oh, dost thou not remember when?
Years have passed on rapid wing,
Loved ones are laid low since then:
Yes, ’twas thus; and they who gazed,
Some are far on the rude billow;
They who listened, loved, and praised, —
Some are on the dreamless pillow.
But thy voice is still the sweet
Thrilling soul-deep melody,
Such as hearts of ages cheat;
Sing, — thou bringest tears to me.
Heed not, heed not requiem tears —
“Leave me to fond memory’s sorrow;
Let me weep o’er vanish’d years,
Griefs may pass away to-morrow.”
Sister, sing thy song once more,
Fling that deep enchantment o’er me,
Breathe, oh! breathe it o’er and o’er,
All my soul dissolves before thee.
THE WANDERING BEE
The spectres whom no exorcism can bind,
The cold — the changed — perchance the dead,
Whence art thou roaming, poor wandering bee?
To the boundless paths of the old blue sea,
From the flowery shores of the verdant earth,
To the ocean plains where rude storms have birth,
Where no heath-flower blows — where no roses bloom,
Nor is rest for thee on the golden broom.
Oh! why hast thou strayed from the sunny shore
To the cold sea breeze and the billows’ roar?
Or why dost thou roam from thy quiet cell
Where thine own beloved companions dwell,
Where the honey-flower blooms in golden showers
In those garden homes of the sunny hours?
Comest thou with tales of thine own green dells,
Where the young bees hum in the cowslip bells,
Toiling away with their low sweet song,
Heedless that earth hath a sorrow or wrong?
Comest thou with tales of those happy things,
With the merry buzz and the fairy wings?
Or comest thou weary and drooping here,
Mourning — (what mourns not in earthly sphere?) —
Mourning some loved — ay, some idolized thing
Gone like the dead in hope’s brightest spring?
Poor wandering bee!. return to the shore —
The dead are the happy — they mourn no more.
Or comest thou with tales of home to me?
Art thou the herald of Destiny?
Hath death been busy on yonder shore?
Would they bid me back from the water’s roar?
For thy pensive humming hath tone of grief,
Well may I tremble, — “the bright are brief!”
And the ocean is trackless, the world is dark,
There are sorrowful hearts in our lonely hark:
Oh! ’tis a sweet sorrow to hear thee sing,
Hovering perchance on a fated wing:
Go — go, thou art free — return to the shore —
But, messenger bee, — wander thence no more!
THE BROKEN SPELL
Broke is the spell — broke is the spell–
The dream is o’er!
We knew that he had sought her
In her own secluded home,
We knew that he had taught her
From his dark eye’s mystic tome,
We knew that far too fondly
She had learned to trust his smile —
Scorning all who bade her fear
His soft winning words of guile.
He told her she was singled
From the gentle of the earth,
As his silvery accents mingled
With her own in household mirth;
His place was still beside her,
And her’s was his sweetest tone,
And enwreathed with every fibre
Was his image — his alone.
They strayed thro’ her loved bowers
When summer heavens were fair;
He twin’d the dewy flowers
With her dark clustering hair,
He sung sweet songs unto her
Of his far, far distant home,
Till he spell-bound every feeling —
Fixed them — never more to roam.
Oh! he bound her sold unto him
By a mastery of art, —
His looks, his words were sorceries
To chain a simple heart;
Too deeply wrought the poison-spells
Of every liquid tone; —
The world had not one sound so dear,
She lived for him alone.
We heard weak woman’s sorrow
And deep anguish in those Lowers;
One place was lonely in the mirth,
Neglected were the flowers;
The spell of joy that lighted
Heart, bower, and hall was dim;
Each bursting hope was blighted —
She had but lived for him.
The poison-spell was broken,
Her lot was fixed as fate;
By every bitter token
Her path was desolate;
She mused in gloomy silence,
She looked up but to sigh,
And she was learning cold mistrust —
Seeking no sympathy!
The burning dream was over,
The warmest heart was cold;
There was but one undying pain
Of agony untold;
It had but one unchanging sense —
Of misery and doom,
And, in that wretched apathy,
Despair’s intensest gloom.
She shrined herself, and linger’d on
In sunshine or in mirth,
Mourning for the idolatry
She had bestowed on earth;
Oh! well she knew the chastisement,
Tho’ deeply dealt was just —
She knew we may not shrine our hearts’
Best hopes in sinful dust.
* * * * * *
There was music in the chambers,
And dancing in the hall —
Have ye not seen rare ‘broidery
Upon funereal pall? —
There were rich sparkling goblets,
And fair woman’s gayest tone —
But the unseen spirit whispered, —
“She weeps for thee alone!”
“Yet we know that she is happy now
Where saints their calm watch keep;
Angels are crowning that fair brow –
Then, wherefore should we weep?”
Yes, she was dying! earth could do no more:
In vain the gentle sunshine will’d to warm
The death-chill at her heart, and vain the breeze-
The young, invigorating, spring-tide breeze,
With all its birds and flowers, — for now to her
Earth had no further balm. Oh! beautiful
In her fast waning beauty — beautiful,
Pale, gentle, meek — she look’d a last farewell,
And the rich, dreamy languor of her eye
Gave most contentedly — most chasten’dly —
A parting glance on earth, and turn’d it thence
To greet the Spoiler in his dread approach —
The ruthless rider of the pallid steed
Careering onward from .the land of shade,
With aspect horribly grim — relentless,
And spear uplifted — murderously tip’d
Destin’d to pierce her heart; and fast, oh! last
Was she thus tending to the awful verge
Of the invisible world — the spirit land:
And yet she smil’d from off her dying couch
Upon the monster Death.
And must she die?
Alas! that aught so very gently fair,
So eloquently beautiful, must fade!
Oh! there was radiant softness in her eye —
And in its pensive blue-deep holiness,
Which spake of that fair land of her soul’s home,
Where shadows darken not, nor partings come:
And thus she pass’d — our loved Eliza pass’d
From earth’s vain loves — its very false, mad loves–
Ere that her heart was wrecked, or peace destroy’d,
Or fond hopes shattered on the shoals of life
she passed into her grave — oh! envied lot!
Weep not, oh! weep not, ye bereaved ones!
She is gone home, sick of this weary world.
Seek her in heaven, where all is shadeless bliss!
Mourn not her loss, but give her to her God!
”Ah, sister! desolation is a delicate thing!”
Alas! it is an evil thing
To lead young hearts astray,
To blight the promise of life’s spring,
And cloud its opening day;
Oh! little does the worldling ween
How words of idle breath
Fling darkness over every scene,
And misery, and death!
Oh! can such hope to lind on earth
Pure shadeless peace again,
Or be but alien in the mirth
Or in the festal train?
For will not conscience bear them still
The evil they have wrought?
And who may ever win them from
The goading despot — Thought?
Or, who may win them from the past
The love that could not die —
The voice — the glance — the every smile
Of their own perfidy?
Or, who may bring the sunshine back
To youth’s cold fading brow,
Or bring the bloom to its pale cheek,
Or wash out every vow?
* * * * * * *
Where is the vision she had once?
Her beautiful — her own!
The fated wildly woke to feel —
It was for ever flown!
To feel but that her spring of life
Was gone for ever by,
A withered world of wasted hopes,
Whose streams were all gone dry.
The dream was o’er; — and well she knew
Thus would its waking be;
She had a prophet’s prescience
Of her dark destiny.
Oh! in her soul, in hues of fire,
In colours ne’er to set,
Burned every memory of the past —
She hoped not to forget.
The dream was o’er — the tale was told; —
She prayed an angered Heaven
That all her mad idolatry
Of earth might be forgiven:
And much she strove to fling away
The poison-passion’s breath;
She might not, — ’twas a messenger
From the cold monarch — Death.
And he exulted in his prize,
That he should dim the soul
Which, proud in its own sympathies,
Defied the world’s control.
She cared not now, — for oh! to her
Life had no coming bliss;
If earth hath hell for woman’s peace,
Tis such a fate as this!
“Oh! take this fairy braid,
And wear it, love, for me.”
When the fingers that wove it lie still in the grave,
And the young brow that bare it is cold —
When the spirit that lov’d thee has ceased to rave,
And the tale of the fated is told —
When the green grass is springing up fresh o’er my rest,
And the mournings of many depart —
Oh! place thou my simple dark braid on thy breast,
And shrine me, sweet love, in thine heart!
When the dark eyes that shone with pure passion’s deep glow
Lie dim in death’s horrible cell —
“When the wild bounding bosom lies moveless and low,
With the worm and corruption to dwell —
Oh! remember me, then — oh! remember me, then —
Gone down from the bright face of day,
From the hearth, from the mirth, from bower and glen,
From the lov’d — the happy — the gay.
Ay! remember me, then — and remember me there
All mouldering beneath the cold sod;
And oh! in the depths of a bootless despair
â€¢ Ask pardon — not mine — but of God.
My heart strings were sever’d, but thou art forgiven,
My worst wish for thee is — ” be blest!”
And yet — yet I hope to behold thee in heaven,
Where the weary and wretched have rest.
“Man’s a stern hunter!”
Poor little bird! lie still within the brake
Where that the shade is deepest; — fly not yet
From the dear home of thy paternal tree;
Bird! there is Death upon the breath of morn —
Cold, cruel, calculating, bloody Death!
The fowler seeks thee; — mark him, where he lurks!
Treacherous and dark, and murderously bent
Upon thy little life! Lie still — lie still! —
Droop thy small head beneath that fairy wing,
And keep close covert in thy sheltering nest!
“Man’s a stern hunter!” — not alone, sweet bird!
No, not alone art thou that hunter’s prey —
Oh! not alone. Look, where some joyous breast
Bursts from its solitude on youth’s gay wing —
Look, where it revels ‘mid the many flowers
Of life’s fair promising, — undreaming thing! —
Thoughtless that life hath aught but sweets and flowers,
And melody and mirth. But, look again!
Behold that gorgeous phantom in the dust,
Bleeding and pierced and wounded to the core!
Alas! the stern, stern huntsman lay in wait
‘Mid all that loveliness, and from its depths
Came forth a shaft poison’d with power to kill.
Bird of the wilderness — sweet forest bird,
Hie to the shade of thine own happy tree,
And seek no world beyond that bowery home;
Carol thy jocund hym Alas! the stern, stern huntsman lay in wait
‘Mid all that loveliness, and from its depths
Came forth a shaft poison’d with power to kill. ns from morn to eve
Within the leafy palace of thy love; —
But rest thee there, oh, rest thee! There is not
One joy without the brake to tempt thee forth.
Bird, gentle bird, lie still within its shade!
“Man’s a stern hunter.”
THAT MILD BLUE EYE
How did this end?
And was not this enough –
They met — they parted!
He gazed upon that mild blue eye,
And chords which long had darkly slept
Breathed a low song from memory —
He turned away, and wept — and wept!
There came a murmur of the past
With the wild waving of her hair,
And Memory’s might before him cast
A form as bright — a face as fair.
He gazed upon her, and there came
A vision of his early youth —
That sacred era none may name
Save as the grave of love and truth.
He gazed upon her till his soul
Grew back to those departed years;
The feeling was beyond control —
He dash’d away hot gathering tears.
They were for one, alas! no more,
Whose early grave was far away;
She slept upon a distant shore
Where her own country’s children lay;
That gentle being, fond and true,
That fairy foot, that buoyant form,
That hair so bright, those eyes as blue,
That snowy bosom once as warm.
The stranger turned away and wept, —
His heart was in that lonely grave
Where youth and beauty deeply slept
Beyond the darkly-rolling wave;
He turn’d away with shuddering start,
To think how premature decay
Might wither up that fair girl’s heart,
And lay her in the loathsome clay.
Oh memory — mysterious power!
Give — give me up thy hallowed key,
Unfolding every bygone hour, —
The loved — the lost — I claim of thee!
How one faint smile, one fairy tone,
Wakes up the long-departed years
Ere bounding breasts have sadness known,
Or death, or misery, or tears!
Strange, how a flash from some sweet eye
Rekindles an expiring light —
Some beacon of the days gone by,
When all was beautiful and bright:
Strange, how the past before us throngs,
The beamy smile, the sunny brow,
The music tones, the twilight songs,
The all that were — but are not now.
“How do such loathe the laughter idly-loud,
And long to change the robe of revel for the shroud!”
Bid me rejoice? — oh, cruel thought!
Bid me rejoice? — oh, no!
Here — here destruction hath been wrought,
And agony and woe.
Hope never more may come to me,
My heart is like a grave
For happiness and memory,
For all that once could save.
Ye may rejoice, ye have light breasts,
Ye have no weary heart;
But there be thought that never rests,
And griefs that ne’er depart;
There is an eye that looks upon
All things with vacant gaze,
There is a breast that hopes not one
Fair hope for coming days.
Hope’s temple is deserted now, —
The spoliator, Time,
Hangs withered garlands on each bough
Within a desert clime;
The idol has been riven thence,
And grim Reality,
In its most dread omnipotence,
Frowns sternly upon me.
And let it frown! — for I am not
That which I once have been;
Shadows have deepened o’er my lot, —
Life’s vistas, once so green,
Are desolate and arid grown;
There is no resting-place
For the soul’s ark, — the dove has flown
Without a single trace —
Of home, of refuge: Can it find
Such on the darkened earth?
Oh, wing thee for the contest, Mind!
Thou art of heavenly birth!
Cast of all weary clayiness,
‘Tis unbefitting thee;
There is no doom or bitterness
Where thy repose would be.
Bid me rejoice? — but, oh! not here,
For every smile is pain;
I look on that too priz’d — too dear —
It looks not back again;
I look on an estranged brow,
A lip that wears no smile,
An eye all changed and dimmed now–
Oh! life hath much of guile —
And much to make the spirit hate
Its cold hypocrisy; —
We dream — and wake, alas! too late
To find Hope’s fallacy!
Then bid not me rejoice! ye may
Until each magic scene
Drops — and the actors pass away —
Ye feel but what hath been!
Silence and darkness — solemn sisters — twins!
Oh, holy Night! Oh, pensive Night!
Oh, sacred silence of the grave!
Now the rapt spirit wings her flight
To where the bowers immortal wave;
Now every fevered pulse is still
As the calm dead on yonder hill.
On yonder lull an angel sleeps,
The young, the lovely, and the good —
There, where the drooping willow weeps
The earth-worms have angelic food,
She knows no care, she fears no ill,
On yonder hill, on yonder hill.
On yonder lull, on yonder hill
My childhood’s playmate sleeps alone;
There, when a noisy world is still
I seek her low recording stone,
And, bidding life’s vain fancies fly,
I commune with my Jane on high.
On yonder hill, on yonder hill,
With darkness, silence, and the dead,
Oh! every maddening pulse is still,
And I can lay my weary head
Upon that sweet but humble rest,
The turf that clothes her gentle breast.
And I can pray alone — alone,
Far from the crowd, the toil, the strife,
The hollow smile, the bitter moan,
The waste, the weariness of life;
And there doth peace my bosom till
On yonder bill, on yonder lull.
Oh, holy Night– oh, holy Night!
Silence and darkness shrine the spot;
When festal halls are glittering bright,
And splendour gilds the worldling’s lot,
Be hut the zephyr and the rill
My music upon yonder hill.
And when the fitful dream is o’er,
And I be gathered to the dead,
Oh! teach the tree I loved of yore
To droop and blossom o’er my head;
For my freed soul shall hover still
O’er yonder hill, o’er yonder hill.
“But speak not thus to one whose heart is beating
Against life’s narrow bound in conflict vain.”
On! thou art like the beam which lingers
Pallidly o’er the desert waste,
And I am like the harp by fingers
Of fiery Desolation traced,
Whose chords no more reverberate
In that pale moonlight — -’tis too late I
My heart has now no cheering feeling,
Its once wild pulses slowly play —
Alas! its wounds may brook no healing,
‘Twere vain to think to chase away
The griefs which naught can mitigate; —
Tis now too late! — ’tis now too late!
Life has for me no summer gladness,
Altho’ thy gentle accents calm
And come like music o’er my sadness,
Each liquid sentence breathing balm;
Yet thou canst not alleviate
Life’s bitterness! — ’tis all too late!
Oh, no! — I feel thou lookest on me
As one whose madness thou hast known:
I care not — wish not pity from thee —
Thank God, my sorrows are my own!
I ask none to commisserate —
And ’twere too late! — ’twere all too late!
My heart is proud despite its sorrow,
And holds defiance for the crowd,
The consolation it would borrow, —
Would be a shroud — a silent shroud!
Let none such feelings desecrate,
‘Tis now too late! — ’tis now too late!
I have nor joy, nor hope, nor gladness,
But the deep grief of wasted years
And withered feelings with their sadness —
Give, if thou wilt, the meed of tears;
But hope for me no happier fate,
‘Tis now too late! — ’tis now too late!
The soul within those dark eyes gleaming
Hath much of faith and fervency;
But there were eyes whose intense beaming
Was the sole light of life to me —
The ignus fatuus of my fate;
‘Tis all too late — ’tis all too late!
I feel thy worth, I feel thy kindness,
Would I had felt them long ago!
But those were days of mental blindness
Whose memories I would forego —
Whose pangs none can participate
And ’tis too late! — oh, ’tis too late!
Then go! Heaven’s blessing be around thee!
Thou canst not know how much I feel;
My blighted spirit shall not wound thee
By its deep interest in thy weal;
Our destinies are separate,
And hope comes late — oh! yes, too late!
THE LOST ONE
“Loveliness was around her as light;
Her steps were like the music of songs;
She came in all her beauty like the moon from
The cloud of the East.”
She was fair, oh! fair as the Morning Star,
She was lovely as seraph of Eden,
She came from the land that was cold and far,
A bright and a gentle maiden;
And the tone of her voice and the glance of her eye
And her smile — oh! for such it were bliss to die.
Her exquisite form was a fitting shrine
For her beautiful bounding spirit;
And all the sublime of her land’s cold clime
Did her noble heart inherit; —
Intellectual — passionless — passing fair,
She was such as I’ve fancied angels were.
She lived in the world of her girlhood’s dreams
Unheeding of lovers’ pining,
Bright, cold, as the moon on the woods and streams
Of her highland home was shining;–
Scorning earth’s loves, she was happier far
With her own high musings and sweet guitar.
She was young, she was rich, and more than fair
She was gifted of all the Graces; —
There is grief– there is grief and cold despair,
Whilst memory the maid retraces. —
Alas! that such exquisite beings should be
Sure mark for the shatt’rings of Destiny!
Oh! well did fate mark her with keen true aim.
Its shadows around her hover;
And one came from their gloom with startling claim,
A cold and an icy lover;
And he breathed In- chill vows, and he urged his suit,
And he sped– for her heart and guitar grew mute. —
They hung her guitar in the ancient hall,
Where her high wild thought s were cherish’d;
They spread o’er her breast a sable pall —
The light of our souls had perish’d.
Oh glory! oh graces! oil gifts! what are ye,
When being like this fell a prize to decay?
This is to be alone; this — this is solitude.
Oh! bring my childhood back to me —
Where hath the vision flown?
I’m not as I was wont to be, —
Why am I thus alone?
Where are the forms that used to flit
Around our childhood’s tree?
Where are the cloudless orbs that lit
The paths of infancy?
Where are the rich, bright summer hours,
The smiles of long ago?
Where are tones, the looks, the flowers?
I would not one forego. —
Where are the haunts, the tangled dells,
The fairy bowers of yore?
Where are the thousand, thousand spells
Of mountain, rock, and shore?
Gone — gone are all the radiant host —
Those spells are powerless now;
The far too-fondly lov’d are lost,
The beautiful lie low;
The glens are silent, lone the bowers,
The fairy tones are mute, —
And withered, blighted are the flowers,
And chordless is the lute: —
And lone, lone is the gambol tree, —
And naught but spectres moan,
Where all was innocence and glee,
And I — I am alone! —
Can ye not bring to me one draught
From Lethe’s sacred wave?
THE WORSHIPPED ONE
And Rosalind — for when the living stem
Is canker’d in its heart, the tree must fall –
Died ere her time.
She worship’d him as the young flowers
Worship the early dew,
She worship’d him as the woodbine
Unto the trellis grew;
There was naught lovely in the earth,
In gaiety or gloom,
But with it thoughts of him had birth; —
Her love had such a doom
As all those fair, frail beings meet;
She felt it — knew it; but ’twas sweet.
Thus to love on in purity,
Her gentle heart was given
To him, with such deep fervency
As only lives in heaven;
She lov’d him, oh! so well, so deep,
It was idolatry —
Which hath too many years to weep
O’er what hath ceased to be
Oh! yes, her’s was indeed true love,
Whose cradle doth its cold bier prove.
He was her young heart’s only joy, —
Her hope, her life, her bliss:
Alas! why did stern Fate destroy
A love so fond as this?
She knew her part in life was done,
Yet never would repine,
So truly, deeply had he won
That pure and holy shrine.
Oh! yes, in that young breast — for him
Was love no sorrowing care could dim.
Alas! that such fond trusting hearts
Have ever early doom,
And sorrowing that not departs,
Save to the silent tomb!
Oh! many voices ‘mid the dead
Full bitterly could say —
“Alas for young hearts withered,
And hopes that meet decay! ”
And she — she worship’d him too much; —
Oh! there is death and doom for such!
She felt this — yet his beaming smile
Seem’d all that earth could give; —
The daughter of that southern Isle
But for that light could live:
She did not wish it otherwise,
She knew her fate was cast;
Her soul was form’d for happier skies —
She lov’d– lov’d to the last!
And then, when he was ever gone,
She died! — he was the worship’d one.
Yet am I changed, — tho’ still enough the same
In strength to bear what time cannot abate.
They tell me I am greatly changed,
They say my brow looks sad,
They ask me why on earth it is
I am no longer glad; —
They tell me — oh! such things, but then
I speak this not in blame,
For oh! too mournfully I feel
That I’m no more the same.
They say I was a joyous girl
In years for ever gone —
A gay, wild, chattering, laughing thing,
The happiest, merriest one;
But oh! whatever I have been
I cannot be again,
For grief hath darkened o’er my soul —
‘Tis all — ’tis all in vain.
Oh! yes, a change hath pass’d o’er me, —
The beautiful are gone,
The playmates of mine infancy
Have left me one by one;
Some sleep in quiet graves at home
And some where none may name, —
Would heaven, I too were laid in mine,
For oh! I’m not the same!
Yet I have striven fearfully
To hide from mortal eye
“Thoughts which may never sleep again,
And pangs that pass not by;”
Yet the hush’d spirit’s agony,
The anguish all was vain;
Alas! there is no veil can hide
The heart’s undying pain.
I cannot bear these marvellings,
My soul is bursting now;
Oh! earth hath bitter sorrowings
To dull the gayest brow.
World — cold world! cease to torture me,
‘Tis idle all to blame,
For well I feel that here on earth
I’ll never be the same.
She sleeps that calm and placid sleep,
For which the weary sigh in vain.
Proudly she mov’d thro’ the festival hall,
With her black eye flashing its spells o’er all;
And joyously soft were her tones of glee —
Oh! her spirit seem’d one with the melody!
And light as her heart was her bounding step —
The spells of her beauty are o’er me yet.
And a vision is flitting before me now,
With radiant pearls on a snowy brow;
Lovely is memory’s shadowy guest,
With the eloquent smile and gentle breast;
How gracefully fair doth it glide along
Like unto Peri of orient song!
And does it not lovely and exquisite seem
As the young enthusiast’s burning dream?
There, there, with the smile and the glance so bright,
The vision hath pass’d like a spirit of light —
The queenly of all in that stately room,
With the jewel’d bosom and dancing plume.
‘Tis past! — and the being who flitted there
With the white plume waving amid her hair,
May rejoice with the young bright throng no more,
For the heart’s pulsations are still’d and o’er, —
May mingle no more with the sparkling crowd,
For she sleeps — she sleepeth beneath a shroud!
‘Tis past! — she hath vanish’d! — but long shall dwell
With the soul’s deep memories each trancing spell,
Tho’ the bower of song be still and lone,
Faded the garlands, the revellers gone, —
Tho’ music and sweet bridal mirth be mute,
And silenced for ever the fairy lute —
She died! — The bright spirit hath pass’d from earth,
And hush’d is the voice of her gentle mirth;
And oh! there is wailing within the hall, —
But silence, deep silence beneath the pall;
And mad tears are wept o’er the youthful dead —
The requiem peal’d — and the prayer is said.
They have borne her hence to her shrine of rest,
To her last still chamber in earth’s cold breast:
Oh! would ye not seek that unbroken sleep
Where the weary and heart-sick cease to weep? —
Wot ye not the spirit will pine to flee
To the regions of immortality? —
THE YOUNG MOTHER
Alas! my lovely child, that thou shouldst die,
Thou who wert made so beautifully fair!
That Death should settle in thy glorious eye,
Or leave its stiffness in thy clustering hair!
How could he mark thee for the silent tomb?
A young mother gazed on the blue eye mild
And the sweet pale face of her first-born child,
For a spell of sadness around it hung —
Strange to o’ershadow a thing so young! —
And the mother sighed, but the reckless thing
Smiled like the earliest flowers of spring.
Oh! that smile it was one of mingled glee
And sadness and beauty of infancy;
And still as it chatted in fitful mirth
It seemed like a being too fair for earth,
For its simple thoughts and its pensive sighs
Blent like to celestial symphonies.
Yes, the mother sighed; — but the lovely child
Raised its pale face to the heavens, and smiled;
But the mother read in that upraised eye
A tale of untimely mortality;
And the mother heard in each lisping tone
A seraph greeting the heaven its own.
And the mother wept, for she loathed to part
With the babe whose beauty was o’er her heart —
The babe to its father’s heart life and light,
His joy by day and his vision by night,
Whose sweet voice still in his ear was ringing,
Whose image around his heart was clinging.
Must it go to the grave from his caress?
Must the earth defile each bright sunny tress?
Must the loathsome creature — the crawling worm
Revel upon that sweet dimpling form —
The fair babe she had cradled upon her breast?
And oh! must it go to a darker rest?
The young mother wept, for her thoughts were dark;
But heaven was wafting her cherish’ d bark
In mercy away from life’s troubled sea,
To an anchor in blest eternity —
To a safer home and a brighter shore
Where the storms were laid and the winds were o’er.
Weep, mother, weep! that the desolate tomb
Enshrines thy beloved within its gloom;
Yet smile, mother, smile! ’tis but dust is there,
The spirit hath fled to its own bright sphere, —
Returned to its Maker who lent it thee
To try thee, and show thee what dust could be.
Ay smile, mother, smile! ’tis a soul flown back
To show thee the beautiful heavenward track, —
To teach thee thy treasure must be above
With the God of Heaven, in his home of love!
Ay, smile! for when life and its toils are o’er
Thou shall meet it in glory to part no more.
“Oh! woman’s love’s a holy light,
And when ’tis kindled ne’er can die.”
He died! — she mourned him as some few
Will mourn the thing they prize;
He died! her lonely feelings grew
Unto him in the skies;
There was no image free from care,
But that she read his presence there. —
He died, as dies the young bright star
From out its path of light;
He died! — they buried him afar,
Where Eastern breezes blight;
And the bereft one wept alone,
Beside that white recording stone.
He died! — the world grew dark to her,
Her every step was sad,
Her gay, wild tones came sadlier —
They that were once so glad
And joyous as the young spring bird
In its first burst of music heard.
He died! — life had no future bliss, —
Her hopes were quench’d and o’er;
The only hope she held was this —
To meet on brighter shore,
Where love that hath so purely dwelt
In earthly shrine is known and felt.
He died! — No more let worldlings sneer
At woman’s deep, unchanging love!
Oh! woman’s breast ‘s a sumptuous bier
For hopes by youthful feelings wove:
He died! — his was that peerless rest —
A tomb in woman’s faithful breast.
And yet, fond woman, oh, how few
Can feel thy nature’s holiness!
Beneath that burning sky he knew
Thy priceless worth and matchlessness;
Oh! it was truly his to prove
Woman’s intense, unshrinking love. —
She pined in silence; — no one guessed
The secret ravagings of grief;
Prized as she was, beloved, caressed,
Her feelings had but one relief —
And that was kneeling o’er the spot
Where slept her own — her unforgot.
She pined in silence; — but she knew
Her rest would soon be very deep,
Where the cool palm-trees proudly grew
Above her own beloved one’s sleep;
Ay, when all hearts were glad and gay,
The faithful widow passed away!
They laid her ‘neath her chosen palms,
Beside her only, only love; —
And Eastern skies and orient balms
Shed light and incense sweet above;
And here was woman’s slighted faith,
Unchanging love, and early death.
THE YOUNG MOURNER
And what is death, my soul,
That thing so dark and dread?
My little darling sister,
Is this your grassy grave?
How could you fade, my sister,
And no kind being save?
You, who were made so lovely,
With bright blue tender eyes,
And hair like threaded sunbeams,
And smiles like dewy skies.
You, who were pure and gentle,
And oh, how passing fair! —
There stands your empty cradle
But you, oh! you are — where?
There lie your lonely garments,
And your pretty infant hat —
But where are you, my sister?
I may not think of that.
Alas! my darling sister,
When I went far away,
Your little cheek was blooming,
Your seraph eye was gay;
And oh! I kissed you madly
While feeling murmur’d this–
” Young lips, part now for ever,
It is your last — last kiss!”
I clasped you to my bosom,
My bursting heart grew wild;
Unconscious of that anguish,
You smiled, oh! yes, you smiled.
I tore me from you, sister.
And, weeping, turned to flee;
But now that I am come again,
You do not come to me!
They bring me to this hillock,
So daisy-pied and green,
They say it is your cradle —
I wonder what they mean!
Where are you, little sister?
I absent wept for you —
And long must I be weeping
If all they say be true!
Your mother’s breast is joyless.
Oh! every eye looks sad.
Where are you? for my heart aches,
My head seems growing mad.
They say you cannot hear me,
That you may come no more; —
Oh! it will be so lonely, —
Alas, my heart is sore!
I’m weary of this anguish,
I will lie down and weep,
For that I cannot see you,
Your bed is dark and deep.
They say that great good Being
Who lives above the sky
Has taken you, my sister,
Unto Himself on high.
Oh, darling sister, ask Him
To come and take me there,
For that it is so lonely
And sad — but where you are.
Till then I’ll come at morning,
And noon, and dewy eve,
And kneeling o’er you, sister,
My very heart shall grieve.
And I shall pray, sweet sister,
Unto Him whilst I kneel,
And tell that great Creator
The misery I feel.
I’ll come alone, sweet sister,
And sadly I shall pray
That He may lead me to you
And guide me in the way.
Weep not for those whom the veil of the tomb
In life’s happy morning hath hid from our eyes.
Ere sin threw a blight o’er their spirits’ young bloom,
Or earth had profaned what was born for the skies.
Slowly and silently came fell decay
To that young bud of beauty; and that eye
Beam’d with unearthly lustre, and a glow,
A delicate hectic glow, — Consumption’s own —
Tinged her pale cheek: — we saw, and turn’d to weep.
But she — the innocent, the fair Louise,
Saw not the King of Terrors in her dream —
That soul deluding dream — thy presage, Death! —
Which tells of laughing years no more to come —
Of loves and joys; — (oh, cruel mockery!)
She had no thought of dying or decay,
And ofttimes marvel’d at each sudden gaze —
Each fond but anxiously enquiring gaze —
Which flashed upon her in her hours of glee,
For she was joyous as the morning star;
Her voice was mirth and melody combin’d:
Yet, she was dying, and the cruel grave
Yawn’d to receive its prey.
And there was one,
With more — oh! more than e’en paternal love,
Hung o’er her form and gazed into her face —
Her lover once — a wretched mourner now.
Oh! say, what tongue may speak, or who may tell,
The more than mortal agony of soul —
The searing grief — the cherished hopes destroyed —
The setting of his star — the final scene.
All hallow’d be thy woe, bereaved one!
I may not speak of what hath chilled my blood.
Slowly and steadfastly the Monster came,
And setting suns and waning moons were past,
And spring came round — but never more to her.
Scarce had the pale primrose put forth its leaves
And breath’d its most delicate odours to the morn,
Scarce had the feather’d choir resumed their song,
Or hymn’d their earliest melody to heaven,
When she, the exquisitely fail Louise.
The young — the fond — the lov’d of many hearts —
Closed her mild eyes upon this passing’ scene.
Looked a last look on earth, and laid her down
To sleep the sleep of deep forgetfulness —
To fade — alas, to moulder into dust!
Spring came no more to her in this cold world,
Its earliest flowers were blooming o’er her grave!
THE DYING GIRL
Tell me, my soul, can this be death?
They told me she was dying,
That her gentle course was o’er,
That her fragile barque was hieing
To a brighter — better shore,
And that fleetly she was passing
To that undiscover’d bourne,
From whence earth’s wearied pilgrim
Might never more return.
They told me she was dying,
So I fear’d to look upon
A face whence earth’s best beauty,
Its loveliest tints, were gone.
Yes, my spirit inly fainted,
For ’twas haunted by the gaze
Of an eye all dim and glassy
With grim Death’s appalling haze.
I went unto the dying —
Oh! the beauty of that face —
The deep undying beauty,
The meek spirit’s fadeless grace,
The tresses in thick cluster,
Silken, beautiful and black,
The eyes of darkest lustre —
Woe! that ever such should lack!
Each word, each look was beauty,
Tho’ the lovely cheek was pale;
And that eye’s hectic flashing-
Spoke Consumption’s fearful tale:
Yet far more eloquently spake
The chasten’d spirit there —
Faith and hope and deathless peace,
Unsullied by a care.
No trace of death’s cold hideousness,
Oh! not one trait to shade
The pure, the deep serenity,
The hopes which might not fade, —
Oh! not one trait of death was there
To dull the lovely clay,
Whence life was ebbing certainly
And speedily away.
No sinking thought — no gloomy fear —
No tending to despond; —
Faith pierced the veil, and Hope perceived
Celestial forms beyond;
But peacefully and placidly
On earth she looked her last, —
And then I knew death’s bitterness
To her gentle heart was past.
Yet she was young and beautiful,
And beautiful as young —
Oh! fair as poet ever dream’d,
Or dreamy minstrel sung:
And wot ye not ’twas sorrowful
To yield her up a prey
To death — to deep forgetfulness —
To silence and decay, —
To give tier to the yawning tomb,
To the horrible dark grave? —
Was there no arm omnipotent
A thing; so fair to save?
But one look upon the dying,
And I check’d each murmuring moan,
I felt her — God had chosen her
For His beautiful — His own.
I turn’d me from her loveliness
And bade a long farewell,
And resign’ d her to her Maker
Who doeth all things well;
I turn’d me from the heaven-bound
To a miserable world,
Where that Maker’s blood-stain’d banner
To the vilest is unfurl’d!
And I pray’d in broken spirit
Oh! that her calm end were mine,
That the glories of the Godhead
Into my dark soul might shine,
That the gifts of faith and patience
Might disperse each midnight cloud, —
Whilst I pray’d, the lovely dying
Was the dead, and claim’ d a shroud.
TO THE DEAD
Dost thou think we shall know each other in another world?
Duchess of Malfi.
Margaret, awake! the winds sweep o’er thy grave,
In sullen dirge loud moans the heaving deep;
The moon glides swiftly thro’ the blue concave,
And cold bright stars their silent vigils keep.
Margaret, awake! pure spirit, come to me!
Come to the friend who loved thee passing well;
Yes, dear departed! for thy memory
Is twined with my existence as a spell.
Holy, must holy, not of earth, wert thou —
No, not of earth — not of a world like this:
Thou art gone home, thou of the spotless brow,
Gone home — gone home, to never ending bliss.
Loved of my childhood! in what radiant star
Is now thy dwelling? Loved one! from the wide
Realms of infinity, where spirits are,
Come to thy grave by Maughold’s stormy tide.
Answer me, for I loved thee! — and I pine
To join thy wanderings in celestial bowers,
To leave this faded earth for thee and thine,
For lasting joys, and never-fading flowers: —
Answer me! for I fain would soar away
Where no delusions are, nor sorrows come,
Where partings pain not; — Marg’ret, Marg’ret! say,
Is thine that blessed land — that glorious home?
And shalt thou welcome me unto thy rest?
And canst thou there with old affections glow?
And can such be the language of thy breast —
“My love shall never diminution know?”
And may I roam with thee thro’ highest heaven
Culling bright flowers from bowers of Paradise —
Of sin, of sorrow, and of suffering shriven,
Blest in the blessedness that never dies?
No voice respondeth! — and I am alone,
Beside thy wave-washed grave awaiting thee;
Oh! by the hours of childhood we have known —
Oh! by the buried memories, answer me!
Tell me that we shall wander hand in hand
Rejoicing ceaselessly within those portals,
Seeking our own amid each shining band,
And welcoming the new arrived immortals —
Hymning loud hymns before the Almighty’s throne,
Lauding and worshipping the Holy One: —
Oh! by the joys of childhood we have known,
Shall it be so? — or must I tarry on,
Sad and unanswered, ’till the dream is o’er —
Storm-tossed and shattered in a starless, dark —
Far from that cloudless clime, that smiling shore —
A landless drift — a most unanchored barque?
* * * * * * * * *
Oh! were bliss mine — mine, when I quit this form,
Where pain and weariness and sorrow dwell,
Then might I yield me gladly to the worm,
And sleep in dust and darkness — ay, sleep well.
Oh Marg’ret, Marg’ret! were my calling sure —
Were it past doubt that thou shouldst welcome me.
My earthly lot were lighter to endure, —
But doubts, misgivings, rule my destiny.
THE RETURNED MISSIONARIES
“Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, that when his glory shall be revealed ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”
They had come again, those noble men —
That simple sunburn’d few;
Oh! every bosom melted when,
With every impulse true,
They stood within that house of prayer
In the old familiar place,
With heads and hearts, o’er which withering Care
Had traced a fearful trace.
Ay, they stood amid the multitude
And dashed away hot tears,
For grief and change had passed o’er them
Since the unforgotten years,
When the loves of youth and the hopes of hearts
Blent with them in that place —
Away, away with the withering years! —
They never can efface
The memories of that early time
When the heart soars like a bird,
Fetterless, into hope’s cloudless clime
By no mad tempests stirred:
Away, away with the withering years,
For these are care-worn men,
These hear not the young unclouded breasts
That beat before ye then!
Away, away with the withering years!
There is many a vacant place
In the page of the true heart’s history,
As it vainly seeks to trace
The dear familiar forms of old
In that well remembered spot;
Away! some are wanderers far from this —
Away! some are — some are not!
We bless ye, we bless ye, ye toil-worn men!
We bless ye! — behold, Ave weep!
Ye have had our prayers, ye have had our tears
Par over the trackless deep,
And our hearts, they o’erflow with thankfulness
To behold ye living men:
Alas, for the grief and weariness
Ye have endured since then!
Was not this the voice of your agony,
Ye fearless sunbrown band,
‘Mid the horrors, the toil, and the pestilence
Of that far, dark heathen land?
Was not this, with the truest manliness
And the most unshrinking faith,
Your thought amid deep devotedness
In the face of sin and death?
“Oh, for dear Albion’s fair green hills!”
Did not fond longings come
For the music of her glistening rills,
From over the billows foam?
“Oh, for her cool refreshing showers!
For the desert’s burning heat
Withers the very springs of life,
And the wanderer’s life is sweet
“When the pleasant memories of home
Come strong upon the heart
With the freshness of the agony
That could only know — ‘we part ‘:’
Oh, for one soul-reviving breeze
From our far old English shore!
Oh, for the murmur of Albion’s trees!
Oh, for to gaze once more
“Oh the dear familiar things of youth,
The beloved of earlier years,
On the very dust of our household gods, —
Ay, to give but their ashes tears!
Oh, to mingle our prayers at the household shrine,
At our own, our childhood’s shrine!
And then, then to all the wilds of earth.
Lord, send us, — for we are Thine!”
Oh! were these your heart burnings, heroic men.
‘Mid the desert’s toil and grief,
‘Mid the agony that hath not tears.
And the woes that mock relief.”
Oh! fierce, tierce are Afric’s scorching suns
And wild is the desert’s track;
And yet from the howling wilderness
Your Shepherd hath led ye back
And was He not with ye in those dark years
Of danger and parted love?
Rejoice! for ye have a high reward,
A hope, yea, a home above!
Rejoice! for ye have possessed your souls
‘Mid Destruction’s darkest frown! —
And shall not the souls ye have snatch’d from death
Shine as gems in your heavenly crown?
Remember ye? — yes, with a yearning heart
And a deep and fervent prayer;
Remember ye? yes! — can we e’er forget
That do look upon ye there?
Remember ye? — oh! in the agony
Of another parting hour
We shall bless ye, and pray for your severed hearts, —
We shall pray that the healing power
Of God, whom ye serve, be with your souls.
Go forth, by his guiding hand;
Oh! strong be your faith, and your courage firm,
When you part from your own loved land;
Oh! strong be your faith in the agony,
For the anguish shall be deep;
But blessings be with ye, ye fearless men!
We bless ye! — behold, we weep!
A MERRY NEW YEAR
It is written on the brow,
Where the spirits ardent play,
Lives, burns, and triumphs now,
On, speak not thus — I cannot brook
To hear you welcome in the morrow;
Into the old year’s annals look,
What read ye but of doom and sorrow?
Yes! agonies untold, unknown,
And very worlds of bitter feeling,
Ami pathways thorn-strewn, darkened, lone.
And miseries that brook no healing —
That welcome it with many a teat —
Thru wish me not a merry year.
A merry year, a merry year —
Enthusiasts! all too overweening,
How can — how can I make mere clear
The stupid sadness of my meaning?
How can I tell ye that ’tis vain,
And mockery, your kind wish giving
To bosoms that live on in pain.
And feelings that are sick of living?
The young, the gay, may claim a bier,
But not another merry year.
Go, gaze upon the many hearts
That sadly, sadly hail the morrow,
The throned grief that not departs,
The anguish that in vain would borrow
One hope of earth’s cold mockery, —
The couch which bitter tears arc steeping.
The haunts of sin and poverty,
The starving wretches worn with weeping:
Lay the departed on their bier,
In silence meet the coming year.
The strong have fallen in their might,
And beauty’s breast hath earth above it;
And glorious eyes arc quench’d in night —
Merry? — right merry! — this doth prove il.
A merry year! — oh God! how few
Can think or feel that they are jesting
When wishing thus — they but renew
Dark memories that arc better resting;
The lov’d — the lost — the mourn’d — the dear: —
How could it be a merry year?
For every being I have priz’d,
And every dream that hath no sorrow,
And every hope by tears baptis’d,
And every feeling hope could borrow,
Come crowding at those words to me
To tell me they have fled for ever!
I thank them for the honesty,
Once dreamless that earth’s tics could sever;
I held its promising too dear —
Alas! earth has no merry year!
All years do bring the same, the same —
A mockery of every feeling,
The miseries that none may name,
The joys that are as music stealing
Over the solder’d corpse which Bleeps
Without one pulse to beat beneath it,
Or like the cold night flower which weeps
Amid the poison flowers which wreathe it
‘Tis vain! although we Linger here,
We cannot claim a merry year.
For oh! so tremblingly I live,
I feel as tho’ a traitor proving .
To all that this poor life can give,
Even nature’s holiest creed of loving;
I feel as though I dare not think
Or trust myself with one kind feeling;
But wearily, wearily I shrink
From time and all its dark revealing.
Aye, love me — bless me — call me dear,
But wish me not a merry year!
“We should not forget that true woman of genius, Esther Nelson”.
It was for the poems in her only collection of poetry, Island Minstrelsy, published in 1839, that T. E. Brown called Esther Nelson “that true woman of genius.” Delving into the poems today it is clear he was right and that Nelson deserves to be far better known than she is, both on and off the island, so strong is her poetic voice and vision.
On the surface, Esther Nelson was a Victorian spinster whose life was little more than following her father on his postings as vicar around the Island. And yet the poems undercut this apparently sedate life with vast depths of passion and pain perhaps unknown anywhere else in the poetry of the Isle of Man.
The poems of Island Minstrelsy come in many forms; from long narrative poems of revenge, murder and heart-break, to short contemplations of mortality, the passage of time and the fragility of happiness. They poems circle around the central idea of the inevitability of the loss of happiness and innocence in the onslaught of “of that grim spoiler, Time”. The collection includes poems with such memorable titles as ‘To the Dead’, ‘The Dying Girl’, ‘Despondency’, ‘Desolation’ and ‘The Suicide’. This central theme is, however, given wings to lift up from the miseries that it rests on, expressing a depth of emotion in such a beautiful and varied form that one can easily understand how T. E. Brown could wonder that such powerful poetry could spring from the hills of Bride.
Some of the key poems from this collection include Nelson’s telling of the legend of the Carradoo Men (in ‘A Legend of the Isle’) and her beautiful singing of the wonder of her Manx home in both ‘My Island Home’ and the closing section of ‘The Rival Minstrels.’ But even the beauty of the Isle of Man is only a distraction from the ultimate tragedy of human life:
Life is a wilderness of arid soil,
And happiness is a celestial flower
That blooms not on its waste — blooms not for me.
Esther Nelson was one of the Isle of Man’s greatest poets. Her beautiful and dark poems chime with her early death at the age of only 33 in 1843.