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The following poem is intended as the introduction to a somewhat longer one. The use of the old ballad word Ladie for Lady, is the only piece of obsoleteness in it; and as it is professedly a tale of ancient times, I trust that the affectionate lovers of venerable antiquity (as Camden says) will grant me their pardon, and perhaps may be induced to admit a force and propriety in it. A heavier objection may be adduced against the author, that in these times of fear and expectation, when novelties explode around us in all directions, he should presume to offer to the public a silly tale of old-fashioned love: and five years ago, I own I should have allowed and felt the force of this objection. But, alas! explosion has succeeded explosion so rapidly, that novelty itself ceases to appear new; and it is possible that now even a simple story, wholly uninspired with politics or personality, may find some attention amid the hubbub of revolutions, as to those who have remained a long time by the falls of Niagara, the lowest whispering becomes distinctly audible.-S. T. C. Dec. 21, 1799.
O LEAVE the lily on its stem;
O leave the rose upon the spray;
O leave the elder bloom, fair maids! And listen to my lay.
A cypress and a myrtle-bough
This morn around my harp you twined, Because it fashion'd mournfully
Its murmurs in the wind.
And now a tale of love and wo,
A woful tale of love I sing;
Hark, gentle maidens, hark! it sighs
And trembles on the string.
But most, my own dear Genevieve,
It sighs and trembles most for thee!
O come and hear what cruel wrongs
Befell the Dark Ladie.
Few sorrows hath she of her own,
My hope, my joy, my Genevieve ! She loves me best, whene'er I sing The songs that make her grieve.
All thoughts, all passions, all delights, Whatever stir this mortal frame,
All are but ministers of love,
And feed his sacred flame.
O! ever in my waking dreams,
I dwell upon that happy hour, When midway on the mount I sate, Beside the ruin'd tower.
The moonshine, stealing o'er the scene, Had blended with the lights of eve; And she was there, my hope, my joy,
My own dear Genevieve!
She lean'd against the armed man,
The statue of the armed knight; She stood and listen'd to my harp, Amid the lingering light.
I play'd a sad and doleful air,
I sang an old and moving storyAn old rude song that fitted well That ruin wild and hoary.
She listen'd with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes and modest grace; For well she knew, I could not choose But gaze upon her face.
I told her of the knight that wore
Upon his shield a burning brand; And how for ten long years he woo'd The ladie the land:
I told her how he pined: and ah!
The deep, the low, the pleading tone
With which I sung another's love,
Interpreted my own.
She listen'd with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes and modest grace; And she forgave me, that I gazed
Too fondly on her face!
But when I told the cruel scorn
That crazed this bold and lonely knight, And how he roam'd the mountain woods, Nor rested day or night;
And how he cross'd the woodman's paths,
Through briers and swampy mosses beat; How boughs rebounding scourged his limbs, And low stubs gored his feet;
That sometimes from the savage den,
And sometimes from the darksome shade,
And sometimes starting up at once
In green and sunny glade;
There came and look'd him in the face
An angel beautiful and bright;
And how he knew it was a fiend,
This miserable knight!
And how, unknowing what he did,
He leapt amid a lawless band,
And saved from outrage worse than death
The ladie of the land!
And how she wept, and clasp'd his knees;
And how she tended him in vain-
And meekly strove to expiate
The scorn that crazed his brain:
And how she nursed him in a cave;
And how his madness went away,
When on the yellow forest leaves
A dying man he lay:
His dying words-but when I reach'd That tenderest strain of all the ditty, My faltering voice and pausing harp Disturb'd her soul with pity!
All impulses of soul and sense
Had thrill'd my guiltless Genevieve; The music and the doleful tale,
The rich and balmy eve;
And hopes, and fears that kindle hope,
An undistinguishable throng,
And gentle wishes long subdued,
Subdued and cherish'd long!
She wept with pity and delight,
She blush'd with love and maiden shame; And, like the murmurs of a dream,
I heard her breathe my name.
I saw her bosom heave and swell,
Heave and swell with inward sighs--
I could not choose but love to see
Her gentle bosom rise.
Her wet cheek glow'd: she stept aside
As conscious of my look she stepp'd:
Then suddenly, with timorous eye,
She flew to me and wept.
She half-enclosed me with her arms,
She press'd me with a meek embrace; And bending back her head, look'd up, And gazed upon my face.
'Twas partly love, and partly fear, And partly 'twas a bashful art, That I might rather feel than see The swelling of her heart.
I calm'd her fears, and she was calm, And told her love with virgin pride; And so I won my Genevieve,
My bright and beauteous bride.
And now once more a tale of wo,
A woful tale of love I sing:
For thee, my Genevieve! it sighs,
And trembles on the string.
When last I sang the cruel scorn
That crazed this bold and lonely knight And how he roam'd the mountain woods, Nor rested day or night:
I promised thee a sister tale
Of man's perfidious cruelty: Come, then, and hear what cruel wrong Befell the Dark Ladie.
LEWTI, OR THE CIRCASSIAN LOVE
Ar midnight by the stream I roved,
To forget the form I loved.
Image of Lewti! from my mind
Depart; for Lewti is not kind.
The moon was high, the
And the shadow of a star
Heaved upon Tamaha's stream;
But the rock shone brighter far,
The rock half-shelter'd from my view
By pendent boughs of tressy yew-
So shines my Lewti's forehead fair,
Gleaming through her sable hair.
Image of Lewti! from my mind
Depart; for Lewti is not kind.
I saw a cloud of palest hue,
Onward to the moon it pass'd;
Still brighter and more bright it grew,
With floating colours not a few,
Till it reach'd the moon at last:
Then the cloud was wholly bright
With a rich and amber light!
And so with many a hope I seek,
And with such joy I find my Lewti:
And even so my pale wan cheek
Drinks in as deep a flush of beauty! Nay, treacherous image! leave my mind, If Lewti never will be kind.
The little cloud-it floats away,
Away it goes; away so soon?
Alas! it has no power to stay;
Its hues are dim, its hues are gray-
Away it passes from the moon!
How mournfully it seems to fly,
Ever fading more and more, To joyless regions of the sky
And now 'tis whiter than before! As white as my poor cheek will be,
When, Lewti! on my couch I lie, A dying man for love of thee.
Nay, treacherous image! leave my mindAnd yet thou didst not look unkind.
I saw a vapour in the sky, Thin, and white, and very high; I ne'er beheld so thin a cloud
Perhaps the breezes that can fly
Now below and now above,
Have snatch'd aloft the lawny shroud
Of lady fair-that died for love.
For maids, as well as youths, have perish'd
From fruitless love too fondly cherish'd.
Nay, treacherous image! leave my mind-
For Lewti never will be kind.
Hush my heedless feet from under Slip the crumbling banks for ever: Like echoes to a distant thunder,
They plunge into the gentle river. The river-swans have heard my tread, And startle from their reedy bed.
O beauteous birds! methinks ye measure
Your movements to some heavenly tune!
O beauteous birds! 'tis such a pleasure
To see you move beneath the moon,
I would it were your true delight
To sleep by day and wake all night.
I know the place where Lewti lies,
When silent night has closed her eyes:
It is a breezy jasmine bower,
The nightingale sings o'er her head:
Voice of the night! had I the power
That leafy labyrinth to thread,
And creep, like thee, with soundless tread,
I then might view her bosom white
Heaving lovely to my sight,
As these two swans together heave
On the gently swelling wave.
O! that she saw me in a dream,
And dreamt that I had died for care;
All pale and wasted I would seem,
Yet fair withal, as spirits are!
I'd die, indeed, if I might see
Her bosom heave, and heave for me!
Soothe, gentle image! soothe my mind!
To-morrow Lewti may be kind.
THE PICTURE, OR THE LOVER'S
Close by this river, in this silent shade,
As safe and sacred from the step of man
As an invisible world-unheard, unseen,
And listening only to the pebbly brook
That murmurs with a dead, yet tinkling sound;
Or to the bees, that in the neighbouring trunk
Make honey-hoards. The breeze that visits me
Was never love's accomplice, never raised
The tendril ringlets from the maiden's brow,
And the blue, delicate veins above her cheek;
Ne'er played the wanton-never half-disclosed
THROUGH Weeds and thorns, and matted under- The maiden's snowy bosom, scattering thence
Eye-poisons for some love-distemper'd youth,
Who ne'er henceforth may see an aspen grove
Shiver in sunshine, but his feeble heart
Shall flow away like a dissolving thing.
Sweet breeze! thou only, if I guess aright,
Liftest the feathers of the robin's breast,
That swells its little breast, so full of song,
Singing above me, on the mountain ash.
And thou too, desert stream! no pool of thine,
Though clear as lake in latest summer eve,
Did e'er reflect the stately virgin's robe,
The face, the form divine, the downcast look
Contemplative! Behold! her open palm
Presses her cheek and brow! her elbow rests
On the bare branch of half-uprooted tree,
That leans towards its mirror! Who erewhile
Had from her countenance turn'd, or look'd by
(For fear is true love's cruel nurse,) he now
With steadfast gaze and unoffending eye,
Worships the watery idol, dreaming hopes
Delicious to the soul, but fleeting, vain,
E'en as that phantom world on which he gazed,
But not unheeded gazed! for see, ah! see,
The sportive tyrant with her left hand plucks
The heads of tall flowers that behind her grow,
Lychnis, and willow-herb, and fox-glove bells:
And suddenly, as one that toys with time,
Scatters them on the pool! Then all the charm
Is broken-all that phantom world so fair
Vanishes, and a thousand circlets spread,
And each misshapes the other. Stay a while,
I force my way; now climb, and now descend
O'er rocks, or bare or mossy, with wild foot
Crushing the purple whorts; while oft unseen,
Hurrying along the drifted forest leaves,
The scared snake rustles. Onward still I toil,
I know not, ask not whither! A new joy,
Lovely as light, sudden as summer gust,
And gladsome as the first-born of the spring,
Beckons me on, or follows from behind,
Playmate, or guide! The master-passion quell'd,
I feel that I am free. With dun-red bark
The fir trees, and th' unfrequent slender oak,
Forth from this tangle wild of bush and brake
Soar up, and form a melancholy vault
High o'er me, murmuring like a distant sea.
Here wisdom might resort, and here remorse;
Here too the lovelorn man who, sick in soul,
And of this busy human heart aweary,
Worships the spirit of unconscious life
In tree or wild-flower. Gentle lunatic!
If so he might not wholly cease to be,
He would far rather not be that, he is;
But would be something that he knows not of,
In winds, or waters, or among the rocks!
But hence, fond wretch! breathe not contagion
Easily caught, ensnare him, O ye nymphs,
Ye Oreads chaste, ye dusky Dryades!
And you, ye earth-winds! you that make at morn
The dew-drops quiver on the spider's webs!
You, O ye wingless airs! that creep between
The rigid stems of heath and bitten furze,
Within whose scanty shade, at summer-noon
The mother-sheep hath worn a hollow bed-
Ye, that now cool her fleece with dropless damp,
Now pant and murmur with her feeding lamb.
Chase, chase him, all ye fays, and elfin gnomes!
With prickles sharper than his darts bemock
His little godship, making him perforce
Creep through a thorn-bush on yon hedgehog's
No myrtle-walks are these: these are no groves
Where love dare loiter! If in sullen mood
He should stray hither, the low stumps shall gore
His dainty feet, the brier and the thorn
Make his plumes haggard. Like a wounded bird
This is my hour of triumph! I can now
With my own fancies play the merry fool,
And laugh away worse folly, being free.
Here will I seat myself, beside this old,
Hollow, and weedy oak, which ivy-twine
Clothes as with network: here will I couch my
Poor youth, who scarcely darest lift up thine eyes!
The stream will soon renew its smoothness, soon
The visions will return! And lo! he stays:
And soon the fragments dim of lovely forms
Come trembling back, unite, and now once more
The pool becomes a mirror; and behold
Each wild-flower on the marge inverted there,
And there the half-uprooted tree-but where,
O where the virgin's snowy arm, that lean'd
On its bare branch? He turns, and she is gone!
Homeward she steals through many a woodland
Which he shall seek in vain. Ill-fated youth!
Go, day by day, and waste thy manly prime
In mad love-yearning by the vacant brook,
Till sickly thoughts bewitch thine eyes, and thou
Behold'st her shadow still abiding there,
The Naiad of the mirror!
Not to thee,
O wild and desert stream! belongs this tale:
Gloomy and dark art thou-the crowded firs
Spire from thy shores, and stretch across thy bed,
Making thee doleful as a cavern-well:
Save when the shy kingfishers build their nest
On thy steep banks, no loves hast thou, wild
This be my chosen haunt-emancipate From passion's dreams, a freeman, and alone, I rise and trace its devious course. O lead, Lead me to deeper shades and lonelier glooms. Lo stealing through the canopy of firs, How fair the sunshine spots that mossy rock, Isle of the river, whose disparted waves Dart off asunder with an angry sound,
How soon to reunite! And see! they meet,
Each in the other lost and found: and see
Placeless, as spirits, one soft water-sun
Throbbing within them, heart at once and eye!
With its soft neighbourhood of filmy clouds,
The stains and shadings of forgotten tears,
Dimness o'erswum with lustre! Such the hour
Of deep enjoyment, following love's brief feuds ;
And hark, the noise of a near waterfall!
I pass forth into light-I find myself
Beneath a weeping birch, (most beautiful
Of forest-trees, the lady of the woods,)
Hard by the brink of a tall weedy rock
That overbrows the cataract. How bursts
The landscape on my sight! Two crescent hills
Fold in behind each other, and so make
A circular vale, and land-lock'd, as might seem,
With brook and bridge, and gray stone cottages,
Half hid by rocks and fruit trees. At my feet
The whortleberries are bedewed with spray,
Dash'd upwards by the furious waterfall.
How solemnly the pendent ivy mass
Swings in its winnow: all the air is calm.
The smoke from cottage chimneys, tinged with
Rises in columns; from this house alone,
Close by the waterfall, the column slants,
And feels its ceaseless breeze. But what is this?
That cottage, with its slanting chimney smoke,
And close beside its porch a sleeping child,
His dear head pillow'd on a sleeping dog-
One arm between its fore-legs, and the hand
Holds loosely its small handful of wild-flowers,
Unfilleted, and of unequal lengths.
A curious picture, with a master's haste
Sketch'd on a strip of pinky-silver skin,
Peel'd from the birchen bark! Divinest maid!
Yon bark her canvass, and those purple berries
Her pencil! See, the juice is scarcely dried
On the fine skin! She has been newly here;
And lo! yon patch of heath has been her couch-
The pressure still remains! O blessed couch!
For this mayest thou flower early, and the sun,
Slanting at eve, rest bright, and linger long
Upon thy purple bells! O Isabel!
Daughter of genius! stateliest of our maids!
More beautiful than whom Alcæus woo'd,
The Lesbian woman of immortal song!
O child of genius! stately, beautiful,
And full of love to all, save only me,
And not ungentle e'en to me! My heart,
Why beats it thus? Through yonder coppice-wood
Needs must the pathway turn, that leads straight-
O! I were most base,
Not loving Oropeza. True, I woo'd her,
Hoping to heal a deeper wound; but she
Met my advances with impassion'd pride,
That kindled love with love. And when her sire,
Who in his dream of hope already grasp'd
The golden circlet in his hand, rejected
My suit with insult, and in memory
Of ancient feuds pour'd curses on my head,
Her blessings overtook and baffled them!
But thou art stern, and with unkindly countenance
Art inly reasoning whilst thou listenest to me.