The dead are in their silent graves,
And the dew is cold above,
And the living weep and sigh,
Over dust that once was love.
Once I only wept the dead,
But now the living cause my pain:
How couldst thou steal me from my tears,
To leave me to my tears again?
My Mother rests beneath the sod,—
Her rest is calm and very deep:
I wish'd that she could see our loves,—
But now I gladden in her sleep.
Last night unbound my raven locks,
The morning saw them turned to gray,
Once they were black and well beloved,
But thou art changed,—and so are they!
The useless lock I gave thee once,
To gaze upon and think of me,
Was ta'en with smiles,—but this was torn
In sorrow that I send to thee!
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The stars are with the voyager
Wherever he may sail;
The moon is constant to her time;
The sun will never fail;
But follow, follow round the world,
The green earth and the sea,
So love is with the lover's heart,
Wherever he may be.
Wherever he may be, the stars
Must daily lose their light;
The moon will veil her in the shade;
The sun will set at night.
The sun may set, but constant love
Will shine when he's away;
So that dull night is never night,
And day is brighter day.
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O Lady, leave thy silken thread
And flowery tapestrie:
There's living roses on the bush,
And blossoms on the tree;
Stoop where thou wilt, thy careless hand
Some random bud will meet;
Thou canst not tread, but thou wilt find
The daisy at thy feet.
'Tis like the birthday of the world,
When earth was born in bloom;
The light is made of many dyes,
The air is all perfume;
There's crimson buds, and white and blue—
The very rainbow showers
Have turn'd to blossoms where they fell,
And sown the earth with flowers.
There's fairy tulips in the east,
The garden of the sun;
The very streams reflect the hues,
And blossom as they run:
While Morn opes like a crimson rose,
Still wet with pearly showers;
Then, lady, leave the silken thread
Thou twinest into flowers!
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GOOD morrow to the golden morning,
Good morrow to the world's delight—
I've come to bless thy life's beginning,
Since it makes my own so bright!
I have brought no roses, sweetest,
I could find no flowers, dear,—
It was when all sweets were over
Thou wert born to bless the year.
But I've brought thee jewels, dearest,
In thy bonny locks to shine,—
And if love shows in their glances,
They have learn'd that look of mine!
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I LOVE THEE.
I LOVE thee—I love thee!
'Tis all that I can say;—
It is my vision in the night,
My dreaming in the day;
The very echo of my heart,
The blessing when I pray:
I love thee—I love thee!
Is all that I can say.
I love thee—I love thee!
Is ever on my tongue;
In all my proudest poesy
That chorus still is sung;
It is the verdict of my eyes,
Amidst the gay and young:
I love thee—I love thee!
A thousand maids among.
I love thee—I love thee!
Thy bright hazel glance,
The mellow lute upon those lips,
Whose tender tones entrance;
But most, dear heart of hearts, thy proofs
That still these words enhance,
I love thee—I love thee!
Whatever be thy chance.
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LET us make a leap, my dear,
In our love, of many a year,
And date it very far away,
On a bright clear summer day,
When the heart was like a sun
To itself, and falsehood none;
And the rosy lips a part
Of the very loving heart,
And the shining of the eye
But a sign to know it by;—
When my faults were all forgiven,
And my life deserved of Heaven.
Dearest, let us reckon so,
And love for all that long ago;
Each absence count a year complete,
And keep a birthday when we meet.
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FALSE POETS AND TRUE.
LOOK how the lark soars upward and is gone,
Turning a spirit as he nears the sky!
His voice is heard, but body there is none*
To fix the vague excursions of the eye.
So, poets' songs are with us, tho' they die
Obscured, and hid by death's oblivious shroud,
And Earth inherits the rich melody
Like raining music from the morning cloud.
Yet, few there be who pipe so sweet and loud
Their voices reach us through the lapse of space:
The noisy day is deafen'd by a crowd
Of undistinguished birds, a twittering race;
But only lark and nightingale forlorn
Fill up the silences of night and morn.
* These lines are repeated in the fourth verse of
"Hero and Leander."
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is an awful word
When that the quick do speak it to the dead;
For though 'tis brief upon the speaker's lips,
'Tis more than death can answer to, and hath
No living echo on the living ear.
'Tis awful to behold the midnight stars
They say do rule the destinies of men,
Gazing upon us from that point in space,
Where they were set even from their lustrous birth.
When a most sure foreknowledge of our doom
Watching its consummation.
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THE TWO SWANS.
A FAIRY TALE.
Immortal Imogen, crown'd queen above
The lilies of thy sex, vouchsafe to hear
A fairy dream in honour of true love—
True above ills, and frailty, and all fear,—
Perchance a shadow of his own career
Whose youth was darkly prison'd and long-twined
By serpent-sorrow, till white Love drew near,
And sweetly sang him free, and round his mind
A bright horizon threw, wherein no grief may wind.
I saw a tower builded on a lake,
Mock'd by its inverse shadow, dark and deep—
That seem'd a still intenser night to make,
Wherein the quiet waters sank to sleep,—
And, whatso'er was prison'd in that keep,
A monstrous Snake was warden:—round and round
In sable ringlets I beheld him creep
Blackest amid black shadows to the ground,
Whilst his enormous head, the topmost turret crown'd.
From whence he shot fierce light against the stars,
Making the pale moon paler with affright;
And with his ruby eye out-threaten'd Mars—
That blaz'd in the mid-heavens, hot and bright—
Nor slept, nor wink'd, but with a steadfast spite
Watch'd their wan looks and tremblings in the skies;
And that he might not slumber in the night,
The curtain-lids were pluck'd from his large eyes,
So he might never drowse, but watch his secret prize.
Prince or princess in dismal durance pent,
Victims of old Enchantment's love or hate,
Their lives must all in painful sighs be spent,
Watching the lonely waters soon and late,
And clouds that pass and leave them to their fate,
Or company their grief with heavy tears:—
Meanwhile that Hope can spy no golden gate
For sweet escapement, but in darksome fears
They weep and pine away as if immortal years.
No gentle bird with gold upon its wing
Will perch upon the grate—the gentle bird
Is safe in leafy dell, and will not bring
Freedom's sweet key-note and commission-word
Learn'd of a fairy's lips, for pity stirr'd—
Lest while he trembling sings, untimely guest!
Watch'd by that cruel Snake and darkly heard,
He leave a widow on her lonely nest,
To press in silent grief the darlings of her breast.
No gallant knight, adventurous, in his bark,
Will seek the fruitful perils of the place,
To rouse with dipping oar the waters dark
That bear that serpent image on their face.
And Love, brave Love! though he attempt the base,
Nerved to his loyal death, he may not win
His captive lady from the strict embrace
Of that foul Serpent, clasping her within
folds—like Eve enthrall'd by the old Sin.
But there is none—no knight in panoply,
Nor Love, intrench'd in his strong steely coat:
No little speck—no sail—no helper nigh,
No sign—no whispering—no plash of boat:—
The distant shores show dimly and remote,
Made of a deeper mist,—serene and gray,—
And slow and mute the cloudy shadows float
Over the gloomy wave, and pass away,
Chased by the silver beams that on their marges play.
And bright and silvery the willows sleep
Over the shady verge—no mad winds tease
Their hoary heads; but quietly they weep
Their sprinkling leaves—half fountains and half trees:
Their lilies be—and fairer than all these,
A solitary Swan her breast of snow
Launches against the wave that seems to freeze
Into a chaste reflection, still below
Twin shadow of herself wherever she may go.
And forth she paddles in the very noon
Of solemn midnight like an elfin thing,
Charm'd into being by the argent moon—
Whose silver light for love of her fair wing
Goes with her in the shade, still worshipping
Her dainty plumage:—all around her grew
A radiant circlet, like a fairy ring;
And all behind, a tiny little clue
Of light, to guide her back across the waters blue.
And sure she is no meaner than a fay,
Redeem'd from sleepy death, for beauty's sake,
By old ordainment:—silent as she lay,
Touched by a moonlight wand I saw her wake,
And cut her leafy slough, and so forsake
The verdant prison of her lily peers,
That slept amidst the stars upon the lake—
A breathing shape—restored to human fears,
And new-born love and
grief—self-conscious of her tears.
And now she clasps her wings around her heart,
And near that lonely isle begins to glide,
Pale as her fears, and oft-times with a start
Turns her impatient head from side to side
In universal terrors—all too wide
To watch; and often to that marble keep
Upturns her pearly eyes, as if she spied
Some foe, and crouches in the shadows steep
That in the gloomy wave go diving fathoms deep.
And well she may, to spy that fearful thing
All down the dusky walls in circlets wound;
Alas! for what rare prize, with many a ring
Girding the marble casket round and round?
His folded tail, lost in the gloom profound,
Terribly darkeneth the rocky base;
But on the top his monstrous head is crown'd
With prickly spears, and on his doubtful face
Gleam his unwearied eyes, red watchers of the place.
Alas! of the hot fires that nightly fall,
No one will scorch him in those orbs of spite,
So he may never see beneath the wall
That timid little creature, all too bright,
That stretches her fair neck, slender and white,
Invoking the pale moon, and vainly tries
Her throbbing throat, as if to charm the night
With song—but, hush—it perishes in sighs,
And there will be no dirge sad-swelling, though she dies!
She droops—she sinks—she leans upon the lake,
Fainting again into a lifeless flower;
But soon the chilly springs anoint and wake
Her spirit from its death, and with new power
She sheds her stifled sorrows in a shower
Of tender song, timed to her falling tears—
That wins the shady summit of that tower,
And, trembling all the sweeter for its fears,
Fills with imploring moan that cruel monster's ears.
And, lo! the scaly beast is all deprest,
Subdued like Argus by the might of sound—
What time Apollo his sweet lute addrest
To magic converse with the air, and bound
The many monster eyes, all slumber-drown'd:—
So on the turret-top that watchful Snake
Pillows his giant head, and lists profound,
As if his wrathful spite would never wake,
into sudden sleep for Love and Beauty's sake!
His prickly crest lies prone upon his crown,
And thirsty lip from lip disparted flies,
To drink that dainty flood of music down—
His scaly throat is big with pent-up sighs—
And whilst his hollow ear entranced lies,
His looks for envy of the charmed sense
Are fain to listen, till his steadfast eyes,
Stung into pain by their own impotence,
Distil enormous tears into the lake immense.
Oh, tuneful Swan! oh, melancholy bird!
Sweet was that midnight miracle of song,
Rich with ripe sorrow, needful of no word
To tell of pain, and love, and love's deep wrong—
Hinting a piteous tale—perchance how long
Thy unknown tears were mingled with the lake,
What time disguised thy leafy mates among—
And no eye knew what human love and ache
Dwelt in those dewy leaves, and heart so nigh to break.
Therefore no poet will ungently touch
The water-lily, on whose eyelids dew
Trembles like tears; but ever hold it such
As human pain may wander through and through,
Turning the pale leaf paler in its hue—
Wherein life dwells, transfigured, not entomb'd,
By magic spells.
Alas! who ever knew
Sorrow in all its shapes, leafy and plumed,
Or in gross husks of brutes eternally inhumed?
And now the winged song has scaled the height
Of that dark dwelling, builded for despair,
And soon a little casement flashing bright
Widens self-open'd into the cool air—
That music like a bird may enter there
And soothe the captive in his stony cage;
For there is nought of grief, or painful care,
But plaintive song may happily engage
From sense of its own ill, and tenderly assuage.
And forth into the light, small and remote,
A creature, like the fair son of a king,
Draws to the lattice in his jewell'd coat
Against the silver moonlight glistening,
And leans upon his white hand listening
To that sweet music that with tenderer tone
Salutes him, wondering what kindly thing
Is come to soothe him with so tuneful moan,
Singing beneath the walls as if for him alone!
And while he listens, the mysterious song,
Woven with timid particles of speech.
Twines into passionate words that grieve along
The melancholy notes, and softly teach
The secrets of true love,—that trembling reach
His earnest ear, and through the shadows dun
He missions like replies, and each to each
Their silver voices mingle into one,
Like blended streams that make one music as they run.
"Ah! Love, my hope is swooning in my heart,—"
"Ay, sweet, my cage is strong and hung full high—"
"Alas! our lips are held so far apart,
Thy words come faint,—they have so far to fly!—"
"If I may only shun that serpent-eye,—"
"Ah me! that serpent-eye doth never sleep;—"
"Then, nearer thee, Love's martyr, I will die!—"
"Alas, alas! that word has made me weep!
For pity's sake remain safe in thy marble keep!"
"My marble keep! it is my marble tomb—"
"Nay, sweet! but thou hast there thy living breath—"
"Aye to expend in sighs for this hard doom;—"
"But I will come to thee and sing beneath,"
"And nightly so beguile this serpent wreath;—"
"Nay, I will find a path from these despairs."
"Ah, needs then thou must tread the back of death,
Making his stony ribs thy stony stairs.—
Behold his ruby eye, how fearfully it
Full sudden at these words, the princely youth
Leaps on the scaly back that slumbers, still
Unconscious of his foot, yet not for ruth,
But numb'd to dulness by the fairy skill
Of that sweet music (all more wild and shrill
For intense fear) that charm'd him as he lay—
Meanwhile the lover nerves his desperate will,
Held some short throbs by natural dismay,
Then down the serpent-track begins his darksome way.
Now dimly seen—now toiling out of sight,
Eclipsed and cover'd by the envious wall;
Now fair and spangled in the sudden light,
And clinging with wide arms for fear of fall;
Now dark and shelter'd by a kindly pall
Of dusky shadow from his wakeful foe;
Slowly he winds adown—dimly and small,
Watch'd by the gentle Swan that sings below,
Her hope increasing, still, the larger he doth grow.
But nine times nine the serpent folds embrace
The marble walls about—which he must tread
Before his anxious foot may touch the base:
Long in the dreary path, and must be sped!
But Love, that holds the mastery of dread,
Braces his spirit, and with constant toil
He wins his way, and now, with arms outspread,
Impatient plunges from the last long coil;
So may all gentle Love ungentle Malice foil!
The song is hush'd, the charm is all complete,
And two fair Swans are swimming on the lake:
But scarce their tender bills have time to meet,
When fiercely drops adown that cruel Snake—
His steely scales a fearful rustling make,
Like autumn leaves that tremble and foretell
The sable storm;—the plumy lovers quake—
And feel the troubled waters pant and swell,
Heaved by the giant bulk of their pursuer fell.
His jaws, wide yawning like the gates of Death,
Hiss horrible pursuit—his red eyes glare
The waters into blood—his eager breath
Grows hot upon their plumes:—now, minstrel fair!
She drops her ring into the waves, and there
It widens all around, a fairy ring
Wrought of the silver light—the fearful pair
Swim in the very midst, and pant and cling
The closer for their fears, and tremble wing to wing.
Bending their course over the pale gray lake,
Against the pallid East, wherein light play'd
In tender flushes, still the baffled Snake
Circled them round continually, and bay'd
Hoarsely and loud, forbidden to invade
The sanctuary ring—his sable mail
Roll'd darkly through the flood, and writhed and made
A shining track over the waters pale,
Lash'd into boiling foam by his enormous tail.
And so they sail'd into the distance dim,
Into the very distance—small and white,
Like snowy blossoms of the spring that swim
Over the brooklets—follow'd by the spite
Of that huge Serpent, that with wild affright
Worried them on their course, and sore annoy,
Till on the grassy marge I saw them 'light,
And change, anon, a gentle girl and boy,
in embrace of sweet unutterable joy!
Then came the Morn, and with her pearly showers
Wept on them, like a mother, in whose eyes
Tears are no grief; and from his rosy bowers
The Oriental sun began to rise,
Chasing the darksome shadows from the skies;
Wherewith that sable Serpent far away
Fled, like a part of night—delicious sighs
From waking blossoms purified the day,
And little birds were singing sweetly from each spray.
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STANZAS TO TOM WOODGATE,
Tom;—are you still within this land
Of livers—still on Hastings' sand,
Or roaming on the waves?
Or has some billow o'er you rolled,
Jealous that earth should lap so bold
A seaman in her graves?
On land the rushlight lives of men
Go out but slowly; nine in ten,
By tedious long decline—
Not so the jolly sailor sinks,
Who founders in the wave, and drinks
The apoplectic brine!
Ay, while I write, mayhap your head
Is sleeping on an oyster-bed—
I hope 'tis far from truth!
With periwinkle eyes;—your bone
Beset with mussels, not your own,
And corals at your tooth!
Still does the Chance pursue the chance
The main affords—the Aidant dance
In safety on the tide?
Still flies that sign of my good-will*
A little bunting thing—but still
To thee a flag of pride?
Does that hard, honest hand now clasp
The tiller in its careful grasp—
With every summer breeze
When ladies sail, in lady-fear—
Or, tug the oar, a gondolier
On smooth Macadam seas?
Or are you where the flounders keep,
Some dozen briny fathoms deep,
Where sand and shells abound—
With some old Triton on your chest,
And twelve brave mermen for a 'quest,
To find that you are—drown'd?
Swift is the wave, and apt to bring
A sudden doom—perchance I sing
A mere funereal strain;
You have endured the utter strife—
And are—the same in death or life.
A good man "in the main!"
Oh, no—I hope the old brown eye
Still watches ebb, and flood, and sky;
That still the brown old shoes
Are sucking brine up—pumps indeed!—
Your tooth still full of ocean weed,
Or Indian—which you choose.
I like you, Tom! and in these lays
Give honest worth its honest praise,
No puff at honour's cost;
For though you met these words of mine,
All letter-learning was a line
You, somehow, never cross'd!
Mayhap we ne'er shall meet again,
Except on that Pacific main,
Beyond this planet's brink;
Yet, as we erst have braved the weather,
Still may we float awhile together,
As comrades on this ink!
Many a scudding gale we've had
Together, and, my gallant lad,
Some perils we have pass'd;
When huge and black the wave career'd,
And oft the giant surge appear'd
The master of our mast;—
'Twas thy example taught me how
To climb the billow's hoary brow,
Or cleave the raging heap—
To bound along the ocean wild,
With danger—only as a child
The waters rock'd to sleep.
Oh, who can tell that brave delight,
To see the hissing wave in might
Come rampant like a snake!
To leap his horrid crest, and feast
One's eyes upon the briny beast,
Left couchant in the wake!
The simple shepherd's love is still
To bask upon a sunny hill,
The herdsman roams the vale—
With both their fancies I agree;
Be mine the swelling, scooping sea,
That is both hill and dale!
I yearn for that brisk spray—I yearn
To feel the wave from stem to stern
Uplift the plunging keel;
That merry step we used to dance
On board the Aidant or the Chance,
The ocean "toe and heel."
I long to feel the steady gale
That fills the broad distended sail—
The seas on either hand!
My thought, like any hollow shell,
Keeps mocking at my ear the swell
Of waves against the land.
It is no fable—that old strain
Of syrens!—so the witching main
Is singing—and I sigh!
My heart is all at once inclined
To seaward—and I seem to find
The waters in my eye!
Methinks I see the shining beach;
The merry waves, each after each,
Rebounding o'er the flints;
I spy the grim preventive spy!
The jolly boatmen standing nigh!
The maids in morning chintz!
And there they float—the sailing craft!
The sail is up—the wind abaft—
The ballast trim and neat.
Alas! 'tis all a dream—a lie!
A printer's imp is standing by
To haul my mizen sheet!
My tiller dwindles to a pen—
My craft is that of bookish men—
My sail—let Longman tell!
Adieu, the wave, the wind, the spray!
Tom Woodgate, fare thee well!
* My father made Woodgate a present,
in the shape of a small flag.
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TIME, HOPE, AND MEMORY.
I heard a gentle maiden, in the spring,
Set her sweet sighs to music, and thus sing:
"Fly through the world, and I will follow thee,
Only for looks that may turn back on me;
"Only for roses that your chance may throw—
Though withered—Twill wear them on my brow,
To be a thoughtful fragrance to my brain,—
Warm'd with such love, that they will bloom again."
"Thy love before thee, I must tread behind,
Kissing thy foot-prints, though to me unkind;
But trust not all her fondness, though it seem,
Lest thy true love should rest on a false dream."
"Her face is smiling, and her voice is sweet;
But smiles betray, and music sings deceit;
And words speak false;—yet, if they welcome prove,
I'll be their echo, and repeat their love."
"Only if waken'd to sad truth, at last,
The bitterness to come, and sweetness past;
When thou art vext, then turn again, and see
Thou hast loved Hope, but Memory loved thee."
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I will not have the mad Clytie,
Whose head is turned by the sun;
The tulip is a courtly queen,
Whom, therefore, I will shun;
The cowslip is a country wench,
The violet is a nun;—
But I will woo the dainty rose,
The queen of every one.
The pea is but a wanton witch,
In too much haste to wed,
And clasps her rings on every hand;
The wolfsbane I should dread;
Nor will I dreary rosemarye,
That always mourns the dead;—
But I will woo the dainty rose,
With her cheeks of tender red.
The lily is all in white, like a saint,
And so is no mate for me—
And the daisy's cheek is tipped with a blush,
She is of such low degree;
Jasmine is sweet, and has many loves,
And the broom's betroth'd to the bee;—
But I will plight with the dainty rose,
For fairest of all is she.
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She's up and gone, the graceless girl,
And robb'd my failing years!
My blood before was thin and cold
But now 'tis turn'd to tears;—
My shadow falls upon my grave,
So near the brink I stand,
She might have stay'd a little yet,
And led me by the hand!
Aye, call her on the barren moor,
And call her on the hill:
'Tis nothing but the heron's cry,
And plover's answer shrill;
My child is flown on wilder wings
Than they have ever spread,
And I may even walk a waste
That widen'd when she fled.
Full many a thankless child has been,
But never one like mine;
Her meat was served on plates of gold,
Her drink was rosy wine;
But now she'll share the robin's food,
And sup the common rill,
Before her feet will turn again
To meet her father's will!
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THE TWO PEACOCKS OF BEDFONT.
Alas! That breathing Vanity should go
Where Pride is buried,—like its very ghost,
Uprisen from the naked bones below,
In novel flesh, clad in the silent boast
Of gaudy silk that flutters to and fro,
Shedding its chilling superstition most
On young and ignorant natures—as it wont
To haunt the peaceful churchyard of Bedfont!
Each Sabbath morning, at the hour of prayer,
Behold two maidens, up the quiet green
Shining, far distant, in the summer air
That flaunts their dewy robes and breathes between
Their downy plumes,—sailing as if they were
Two far-off ships,—until they brush between
The churchyard's humble walls, and watch and wait
On either side of the wide open'd gate,
And there they stand—with haughty necks before
God's holy house, that points towards the skies—
Frowning reluctant duty from the poor,
And tempting homage from unthoughtful eyes:
And Youth looks lingering from the temple door,
Breathing its wishes in unfruitful sighs,
With pouting lips,—forgetful of the grace,
Of health, and smiles, on the heart-conscious face;—
Because that Wealth, which has no bliss beside,
May wear the happiness of rich attire;
And those two sisters, in their silly pride,
May change the soul's warm glances for the fire
Of lifeless diamonds;—and for health denied,—
With art, that blushes at itself, inspire
Their languid cheeks—and flourish in a glory
That has no life in life, nor after-story.
The aged priest goes shaking his gray hair
In meekest censuring, and turns his eye
Earthward in grief, and heavenward in pray'r,
And sighs, and clasps his hands, and passes by,
Good-hearted man! what sullen soul would wear
Thy sorrow for a garb, and constantly
Put on thy censure, that might win the praise
Of one so gray in goodness and in days?
Also the solemn clerk partakes the shame
Of this ungodly shine of human pride,
And sadly blends his reverence and blame
In one grave bow, and passes with a stride
Impatient:—many a red-hooded dame
Turns her pain'd head, but not her glance, aside
From wanton dress, and marvels o'er again,
That heaven hath no wet judgments for the vain.
"I have a lily in the bloom at home,"
Quoth one, "and by the blessed Sabbath day
I'll pluck my lily in its pride, and come
And read a lesson upon vain array;—
And when stiff silks are rustling up, and some
Give place, I'll shake it in proud eyes and say—
Making my reverence,—'Ladies, an you please,
King Solomon's not half so fine as these,'"
Then her meek partner, who has nearly run
His earthly course,—"Nay, Goody, let your text
Grow in the garden.—We have only one—
Who knows that these dim eyes may see the next?
Summer will come again, and summer sun,
And lilies too,—but I were sorely vext
To mar my garden, and cut short the blow
Of the last lily I may live to grow,"
"The last!" quoth she, "and though the last it were—
Lo! those two wantons, where they stand so proud
With waving plumes, and jewels in their hair,
And painted cheeks, like Dagons to be bow'd
And curtsey'd to!—last Sabbath after pray'r,
I heard the little Tomkins ask aloud
If they were angels—but I made him know
God's bright ones better, with a bitter blow!"
So speaking, they pursue the pebbly walk
That leads to the white porch the Sunday throng,
Hand-coupled urchins in restrainëd talk,
And anxious pedagogue that chastens wrong,
And posied churchwarden with solemn stalk,
And gold-bedizen'd beadle flames along,
And gentle peasant clad in buff and green,
Like a meek cowslip in the spring serene;
And blushing maiden—modestly array'd
In spotless white,—still conscious of the glass;
And she, the lonely widow, that hath made
A sable covenant with grief,—alas!
She veils her tears under the deep, deep shade,
While the poor kindly-hearted, as they pass,
Bend to unclouded childhood, and caress
Her boy,—so rosy!—and so fatherless!
Thus, as good Christians ought, they all draw near
The fair white temple, to the timely call
Of pleasant bells that tremble in the ear.—
Now the last frock, and scarlet hood, and shawl
Fade into dusk, in the dim atmosphere
Of the low porch, and heav'n has won them all,
—Saving those two, that turn aside and pass,
In velvet blossom, where all flesh is grass.
Ah me! to see their silken manors trail'd
In purple luxuries—with restless gold,—
Flaunting the grass where widowhood has wail'd
In blotted black,—over the heapy mould
Panting wave-wantonly! They never quail'd
How the warm vanity abused the cold;
Nor saw the solemn faces of the gone
Sadly uplooking through transparent stone:
But swept their dwellings with unquiet light,
Shocking the awful presence of the dead;
Where gracious natures would their eyes benight,
Nor wear their being with a lip too red,
Nor move too rudely in the summer bright
Of sun, but put staid sorrow in their tread,
Meting it into steps, with inward breath,
In very pity to bereaved death.
Now in the church, time-sober'd minds resign
To solemn pray'r, and the loud chaunted hymn,—
With glowing picturings of joys divine
Painting the mist-light where the roof is dim;
But youth looks upward to the window shine,
Warming with rose and purple and the swim
Of gold, as if thought-tinted by the stains
Of gorgeous light through many-colour'd panes;
Soiling the virgin snow wherein God hath
Enrobed his angels,—and with absent eyes
Hearing of Heav'n, and its directed path,
Thoughtful of slippers—and the glorious skies
Clouding with satin,—till the preacher's wrath
Consumes his pity, and he glows and cries
With a deep voice that trembles in its might,
And earnest eyes grow eloquent in light:
"Oh, that the vacant eye would learn to look
On very beauty, and the heart embrace
True loveliness, and from this holy book
Drink the warm-breathing tenderness and grace
Of love indeed! Oh, that the young soul took
Its virgin passion from the glorious face
Of fair religion, and address'd its strife,
To win the riches of eternal life!"
"Doth the vain heart love glory that is none,
And the poor excellence of vain attire?
Oh go, and drown your eyes against the sun,
The visible ruler of the starry quire,
Till boiling gold in giddy eddies run,
Dazzling the brain with orbs of living fire;
And the faint soul down-darkens into night,
And dies a burning martyrdom to light."
Oh go, and gaze,—when the low winds of ev'n
Breathe hymns, and Nature's many forests nod
Their gold-crown'd heads; and the rich blooms of heav'n
Sun-ripen'd give their blushes up to God;
And mountain-rocks and cloudy steeps are riv'n
By founts of fire, as smitten by the rod
Of heavenly Moses,—that your thirsty sense
May quench its longings of magnificence!
"Yet suns shall perish—stars shall fade away—
Day into darkness—darkness into death—
Death into silence; the warm light of day,
The blooms of summer, the rich glowing breath
Of even—all shall wither and decay,
Like the frail furniture of dreams beneath
The touch of morn—or bubbles of rich dyes
That break and vanish in the aching eyes."
They hear, soul-blushing, and repentant shed
Unwholesome thoughts in wholesome tears, and pour
Their sin to earth,—and with low drooping head
Receive the solemn blessing, and implore
Its grace—then soberly with chasten'd tread,
They meekly press towards the gusty door
With humbled eyes that go to graze upon
The lowly grass—like him of Babylon.
The lowly grass!—O water-constant mind!
Fast-ebbing holiness!—soon-fading grace
Of serious thought, as if the gushing wind
Through the low porch had wash'd it from the face
For ever!—How they lift their eyes to find
Old vanities!—Pride wins the very place
Of meekness, like a bird, and flutters now
With idle wings on the curl-conscious brow!
And lo! with eager looks they seek the way
Of old temptation at the lowly gate;
To feast on feathers, and on vain array,
And painted cheeks, and the rich glistering state
Of jewel-sprinkled locks,—But where are they,
The graceless haughty ones that used to wait
With lofty neck, and nods, and stiffen'd eye?—
None challenge the old homage bending by.
In vain they look for the ungracious bloom
Of rich apparel where it glow'd before,—
For Vanity has faded all to gloom,
And lofty Pride has stiffen'd to the core,
For impious Life to tremble at its doom,—
Set for a warning token evermore,
Whereon, as now, the giddy and the wise
Shall gaze with lifted hands and wond'ring eyes.
The aged priest goes on each Sabbath morn,
But shakes not sorrow under his gray hair;
The solemn clerk goes lavender'd and shorn
Nor stoops his back to the ungodly pair;—
And ancient lips that pucker'd up in scorn,
Go smoothly breathing to the house of pray'r;
And in the garden-plot, from day to day,
The lily blooms its long white life away.
And where two haughty maidens used to be,
In pride of plume, where plumy Death had trod,
Trailing their gorgeous velvets wantonly,
Most unmeet pall, over the holy sod;—
There, gentle stranger, thou may'st only see
Two sombre Peacocks.—Age, with sapient nod
Marking the spot, still tarries to declare
How they once lived, and wherefore they are there.
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THE DEPARTURE OF SUMMER.
Summer is gone on swallows' wings,
And Earth has buried all her flowers:
No more the lark,—the linnet—sings,
But Silence sits in faded bowers.
There is a shadow on the plain
Of Winter ere he comes again,—
There is in woods a solemn sound
Of hollow warnings whisper'd round,
As Echo in her deep recess
For once had turn'd a prophetess.
Shuddering Autumn stops to list,
And breathes his fear in sudden sighs,
With clouded face, and hazel eyes
That quench themselves, and hide in mist.
Yes, Summer's gone like pageant bright;
Its glorious days of golden light
Are gone—the mimic suns that quiver,
Then melt in Time's dark-flowing river.
Gone the sweetly-scented breeze
That spoke in music to the trees;
Gone—for damp and chilly breath,
As if fresh blown o'er marble seas,
Or newly from the lungs of Death.
Gone its virgin roses' blushes,
Warm as when Aurora rushes
Freshly from the God's embrace,
With all her shame upon her face.
Old Time hath laid them in the mould;
Sure he is blind as well as old,
Whose hand relentless never spares
Young cheeks so beauty-bright as theirs!
Gone are the flame-eyed lovers now
From where so blushing-blest they tarried
Under the hawthorn's blossom-bough,
Gone; for Day and Night are married.
All the light of love is fled:—
Alas! that negro breasts should hide
The lips that were so rosy red,
At morning and at even-tide!
Delightful Summer! then adieu
Till thou shalt visit us anew:
But who without regretful sigh
Can say, adieu, and see thee fly?
Not he that e'er hath felt thy pow'r.
His joy expanding like a flow'r,
That cometh after rain and snow,
Looks up at heaven, and learns to glow:—
Not he that fled from Babel-strife
To the green sabbath-land of life,
To dodge dull Care 'mid clustered trees,
And cool his forehead in the breeze,—
Whose spirit, weary-worn perchance,
Shook from its wings a weight of grief,
And perch'd upon an aspen leaf,
For every breath to make it dance.
Farewell!—on wings of sombre stain,
That blacken in the last blue skies,
Thou fly'st; but thou wilt come again
On the gay wings of butterflies.
Spring at thy approach will sprout
Her new Corinthian beauties out,
Leaf-woven homes, where twitter-words
Will grow to songs, and eggs to birds;
Ambitious buds shall swell to flowers,
And April smiles to sunny hours,
Bright days shall be, and gentle nights
Full of soft breath and echo-lights,
As if the god of sun-time kept
His eyes half-open while he slept.
Roses shall be where roses were,
Not shadows, but reality;
As if they never perished there,
But slept in immortality:
Nature shall thrill with new delight,
And Time's relumined river run
Warm as young blood, and dazzling bright,
As if its source were in the sun!
But say, hath Winter then no charms?
Is there no joy, no gladness warms
His aged heart? no happy wiles
To cheat the hoary one to smiles?
Onward he comes—the cruel North
Pours his furious whirlwind forth
Before him—and we breathe the breath
Of famish'd bears that howl to death.
Onward he comes from the rocks that blanch
O'er solid streams that never flow:
His tears all ice, his locks all snow,
Just crept from some huge avalanche—
A thing half-breathing and half-warm,
As if one spark began to glow
Within some statue's marble form,
Or pilgrim stiffened in the storm.
Oh! will not Mirth's light arrows fail
To pierce that frozen coat of mail?
Oh! will not joy but strive in vain
To light up those glazed eyes again?
No! take him in, and blaze the oak,
And pour the wine, and warm the ale;
His sides shall shake to many a joke,
His tongue shall thaw in many a tale,
His eyes grow bright, his heart be gay,
And even his palsy charm'd away.
What heeds he then the boisterous shout
Of angry winds that scowl without,
Like shrewish wives at tavern door?
What heeds he then the wild uproar
Of billows bursting on the shore?
In dashing waves, in howling breeze,
There is a music that can charm him;
When safe, and sheltered, and at ease,
He hears the storm that cannot harm him.
But hark! those shouts! that sudden din
Of little hearts that laugh within.
Oh! take him where the youngsters play,
And he will grow as young as they!
They come! they come! each blue-eyed Sport,
The Twelfth-Night King and all his court—
'Tis Mirth fresh crown'd with misletoe!
Music with her merry fiddles,
Joy "on light fantastic toe,"
Wit with all his jests and riddles,
Singing and dancing as they go.
And Love, young Love, among the rest,
A welcome—nor unbidden guest.
But still for Summer dost thou grieve?
Then read our Poets—they shall weave
A garden of green fancies still,
Where thy wish may rove at will.
They have kept for after-treats
The essences of summer sweets,
And echoes of its songs that wind
In endless music through the mind:
They have stamp'd in visible traces
The "thoughts that breathe," in words that shine—
The flights of soul in sunny places—
To greet and company with thine.
These shall wing thee on to flow'rs—
The past or future, that shall seem
All the brighter in thy dream
For blowing in such desert hours.
The summer never shines so bright
As thought-of in a winter's night;
And the sweetest loveliest rose
Is in the bud before it blows;
The dear one of the lover's heart
Is painted to his longing eyes,
In charms she ne'er can realize—
But when she turns again to part.
Dream thou then, and bind thy brow
With wreath of fancy roses now,
And drink of Summer in the cup
Where the Muse hath mix'd it up;
The "dance, and song, and sun-burnt mirth,"
With the warm nectar of the earth:
Drink! 'twill glow in every vein,
And thou shalt dream the winter through:
Then waken to the sun again,
And find thy Summer Vision true!
[Top of page]
A LEGEND OF NAVARRE.
'TWAS in the reign of Lewis, call'd the Great,
As one may read on his triumphal arches,
The thing befel I'm going to relate,
In course of one of those "pomposo" marches
He lov'd to make, like any gorgeous Persian,
Partly for war, and partly for diversion.
Some wag had it put in the royal brain
To drop a visit at an old chateau,
Quite unexpected, with his courtly train;
The monarch lik'd it,—but it happened so,
That Death had got before them by a post,
And they were "reckoning without their host,"
Who died exactly as a child should die,
Without a groan or a convulsive breath
Closing without one pang his quiet eye,
Sliding composedly from sleep—to death;
A corpse so placid ne'er adorn'd a bed,
He had seem'd not quite—but only rather dead.
All night the widow'd Baroness contriv'd
To shed a widow's tears; but on the morrow
Some news of such unusual sort arriv'd,
There came strange alteration in her sorrow;
From mouth to mouth it pass'd, one common
Throughout the house—the King! the King is coming.
The Baroness, with all her soul and heart,
A loyal woman, (now called ultra royal,)
Soon thrust all funeral concerns apart,
And only thought about a banquet royal;
In short, by aid of earnest preparation,
The visit quite dismiss'd the visitation.
And, spite of all her grief for the ex-mate,
There was a secret hope she could not smother,
That some one, early, might replace "the late"—
It was too soon to think about another;
Yet let her minutes of despair be reckon'd
Against her hope, which was but for a second.
She almost thought that being thus bereft
Just then, was one of time's propitious touches;
A thread in such a nick so nick'd, it left
Free opportunity to be a duchess;
Thus all her care was only to look pleasant,
But as for tears—she dropp'd them—for the present.
Her household, as good servants ought to try,
Look'd like their lady—anything but sad,
And giggled even that they might not cry,
To damp fine company; in truth they had
No time to mourn, thro' choking turkeys' throttles,
Scouring old laces, and reviewing bottles.
Oh what a hubbub for the house of woe!
All, resolute to one irresolution,
Kept tearing, swearing, plunging to and fro
Just like another French mob revolution.
There lay the corpse that could not stir a muscle,
But all the rest seem'd Chaos in a hustle.
The Monarch came: oh! who could ever guess
The Baroness had been so late a weeper!
The kingly grace and more than graciousness,
Buried the poor defunct some fathoms deeper.—
Could he have had a glance—alas poor Being!
Seeing would certainly have led to D—ing.
For casting round about her eyes to find
Some one to whom her chattels to endorse.
The comfortable dame at last inclin'd
To choose the cheerful Master of the Horse;
He was so gay,—so tender,—the complete
Nice man,—the sweetest of the monarch's suite.
He saw at once and enter'd in the lists—
Glance unto glance made amorous replies;
They talk'd together like two egotists,
In conversation all made up of eyes:
No couple ever got so right consort-ish
Within two hours—a courtship rather shortish.
At last, some sleepy, some by wine opprest,
The courtly company began "nid noddin;"
The King first sought his chamber, and the rest
Instanter followed by the course he trod in.
I shall not please the scandalous by showing
The order, or disorder of their going.
The old Chateau, before that night, had never
Held half so many underneath its roof,
It task'd the Baroness's best endeavour,
And put her best contrivance to the proof,
To give them chambers up and down the stairs,
In twos and threes, by singles, and by pairs
She had just lodging for the whole—yet barely;
And some, that were both broad of back and tall,
Lay on spare beds that served them very sparely:
However, there were beds enough for all;
But living bodies occupied so many
She could not let the dead one take up any.
The act was, certainly, not over decent:
Some small respect, e'en after death, she ow'd him.
Considering his death had been so recent:
However, by command, her servants stow'd him,
(I am asham'd to think how he was slubber'd,)
Stuck bolt upright within a corner cupboard!
And there he slept as soundly as a post,
With no more pillow than an oaken shelf,
Just like a kind accommodating host,
Taking all inconvenience on himself.
None else slept in that room, except a stranger,
A decent man, a sort of Forest Ranger,
Who, whether he had gone too soon to bed,
Or dreamt himself into an appetite,
Howbeit he took a longing to be fed,
About the hungry middle of the night;
So getting forth, he sought some scrap to eat,
Hopeful of some stray pasty, or cold meat.
The casual glances of the midnight moon,
Bright'ning some antique ornaments of brass,
Guided his gropings to that corner soon,
Just where it stood, the coffin-safe, alas!
He tried the door—then shook it—and in course
Of time it open'd to a little force.
He put one hand in, and began to grope;
The place was very deep and quite as dark as,
The middle night;—when lo! beyond his hope,
He felt a something cold, in fact, the carcase;
Right overjoy'd, he laugh'd, and blest his luck
At finding, as he thought, this haunch of buck!
Then striding back for his couteau de chasse,
Determined on a little midnight lunching,
He came again and prob'd about the mass,
As if to find the fattest bit for munching;
Not meaning wastefully to cut it all up,
But only to abstract a little collop.
But just as he had struck one greedy stroke,
His hand fell down quite powerless and weak;
For when he cut the haunch it plainly spoke
As haunch of ven'son never ought to speak;
No wonder that his hand could go no further—
Whose could?—to carve cold meat that bellow'd, "
Down came the Body with a bounce, and down
The Ranger sprang, a staircase at a spring,
And bawl'd enough to waken up a town;
Some thought that they were murder'd, some, the
And, like Macduff, did nothing for a season,
But stand upon the spot and bellow, "Treason!"
A hundred nightcaps gather'd in a mob,
Torches drew torches, swords brought swords
It seem'd so dark and perilous a job;
The Baroness came trembling like a feather
Just in the rear, as pallid as a corse,
Leaning against the Master of the Horse.
A dozen of the bravest up the stair,
Well lighted and well watch'd, began to clamber
They sought the door—they found it—they were there,
A dozen heads went poking in the chamber
And lo! with one hand planted on his hurt,
There stood the body bleeding thro' his shirt,—
No passive corse—but like a duellist
Just smarting from a scratch—in fierce position,
One hand advanced, and ready to resist;
In fact, the Baron doff'd the apparition,
Swearing those oaths the French delight in most.
And for the second time "gave up the ghost!"
A living miracle!—for why?—the knife
That cuts so many off from grave gray hairs,
Had only carv'd him kindly into life:
How soon it chang'd the posture of affairs!
The difference one person more or less
Will make in families, is past all guess.
There stood the Baroness—no widow yet;
Here stood the Baron—"in the body" still;
There stood the Horses' Master in a pet,
Choking with disappointment's bitter pill,
To see the hope of his reversion fail,
Like that of riding on a donkey's tail.
The Baron liv'd, 'twas nothing but a trance:
The lady died—'twas nothing but a death:
The cupboard-cut serv'd only to enhance
This postscript to the old Baronial breath:
He soon forgave, for the revival's sake,
A little chop intended for a steak!
[Top of page]
ELEGY ON DAVID LAING, ESQ.*
BLACKSMITH AND JOINER (WITHOUT LICENSE)
AT GRETNA GREEN.
AH me! what causes such complaining breath,
Such female moans, and flooding tears to flow?
It is to chide with stern, remorseless Death,
For laying Laing low!
From Prospect House there comes a sound of woe—
A shrill and persevering loud lament,
Echoed by Mrs. J.'s Establishment
"For Six Young Ladies,
In a retired and healthy part of Kent."
All weeping, Mr. L—— gone down to Hades!
Thoughtful of grates, and convents, and the veil!
Surrey takes up the tale,
And all the nineteen scholars of Miss Jones
With the two parlour-boarders and th' apprentice—
So universal this mis-timed event is—
Are joining sobs and groans!
The shock confounds all hymeneal planners
And drives the sweetest from their sweet behaviours;
The girls at Manor House forget their manners,
And utter sighs like paviours!
Down—down through Devon and the distant shires
Travels the news of Death's remorseless crime;
And in all hearts, at once, all hope expires
Of matches against time!
Along the northern route
The road is water'd by postilions' eyes;
The topboot paces pensively about,
And yellow jackets are all strained with sighs;
There is a sound of grieving at the Ship,
And sorry hands are ringing at the Bell,
In aid of David's knell.
The postboy's heart is cracking—not his whip—
To gaze upon those useless empty collars
His way-worn horses seem so glad to slip—
And think upon the dollars
That used to urge his gallop-quicker! quicker!
All hope is fled,
For Laing is dead—
Vicar of Wakefield—Edward Gibbon's vicar!
The barristers shed tears
Enough to feed a snipe (snipes live on suction),
To think in after years
No suits will come of Gretna Green abduction,
Nor knaves inveigle
Young heiresses in marriage scrapes or legal.
The dull reporters
Look truly sad and seriously solemn
To lose the future column
On Hymen-Smithy and its fond resorters!
But grave Miss Daulby and the teaching brood
Rejoice at quenching the clandestine flambeau—
That never real beau of flesh and blood
Will henceforth lure young ladies from their Chambaud.
Sleep—David Laing sleep
In peace, though angry governesses spurn thee
Over thy grave a thousand maidens weep,
And honest postboys mourn thee!
Sleep, David!—safely and serenely sleep,
Be-wept of many a learned legal eye!
To see the mould above thee in a heap
Drowns many a lid that heretofore was dry!
Especially of those that, plunging deep
In love, would "ride and tie!"—
Had I command, thou shouldst have gone thy ways
In chaise and pair—and lain in Père-la-Chaise!
* On the 3d inst., died in Springfield, near Gretna Green,
David Laing, aged seventy-two, who had for thirty-five
years officiated as high-priest at Gretna Green.
cold on his way to Lancaster, to give evidence on the trial
of the Wakefields, from the effects of which he never
-Newspapers, July 1827.
[Top of page]
WRITTEN IN A VOLUME OF SHAKSPEARE.
How bravely Autumn paints upon the sky
The gorgeous fame of Summer which is fled!
Hues of all flow'rs, that in their ashes lie,
Trophied in that fair light whereon they fed,—
Tulip, and hyacinth, and sweet rose red,—
Like exhalations from the leafy mould,
Look here how honour glorifies the dead,
And warms their scutcheons with a glance of gold!—
Such is the memory of poets old,
Who on Parnassus' hill have bloom'd elate;
Now they are laid under their marbles cold,
And turned to clay, whereof they were create;
But god Apollo hath them all enroll'd,
And blazon'd on the very clouds of Fate!
[Top of page]
A RETROSPECTIVE REVIEW.
Oh, when I was a tiny boy,
My days and nights were full of joy,
My mates were blithe and kind!—
No wonder that I sometimes sigh,
And dash the tear-drop from my eye,
To cast a look behind!
A hoop was an eternal round
Of pleasure. In those days I found
A top a joyous thing;—
But now those past delights I drop,
My head, alas! is all my top,
And careful thoughts the string!
My marbles—once my bag was stored,—
Now I must play with Elgin's lord,
With Theseus for a taw!
My playful horse has slipt his string,
Forgotten all his capering,
And harness'd to the law!
My kite—how fast and far it flew!
Whilst I, a sort of Franklin, drew
My pleasure from the sky!
'Twas paper'd o'er with studious themes,
The tasks I wrote—my present dreams
Will never soar so high!
My joys are wingless all and dead;
My dumps are made of more than lead;—
My flights soon find a fall;
My fears prevail, my fancies droop,
Joy never cometh with a hoop,
And seldom with a call!
My football's laid upon the shelf;
I am a shuttlecock myself
The world knocks to and fro;—
My archery is all unlearn'd,
And grief against myself has turn'd
My arrows and my bow!
No more in noontide sun I bask;
My authorship's an endless task,
My head's ne'er out of school:
My heart is pain'd with scorn and slight,
I have too many foes to fight,
And friends grown strangely cool!
The very chum that shared my cake
Holds out so cold a hand to shake,
It makes me shrink and sigh:—
On this I will not dwell and hang,—
The changeling would not feel a pang
Though these should meet his eye!
No skies so blue or so serene
As then;—no leaves look half so green
As clothed the playground tree!
All things I loved are altered so,
Nor does it ease my heart to know
That change resides in me!
Oh for the garb that marked the boy,
The trousers made of corduroy,
Well ink'd with black and red;
The crownless hat, ne'er deem'd an ill—
It only let the sunshine still
Repose upon my head!
Oh for the riband round the neck!
The careless dogs-ears apt to deck
My book and collar both!
How can this formal man be styled
Merely an Alexandrine child,
A boy of larger growth?
Oh for that small, small beer anew!
And (heaven's own type) that mild sky-blue
That wash'd my sweet meals down;
The master even!—and that small Turk
That fagg'd me!—worse is now my work—
A fag for all the town!
Oh for the lessons learned by heart!
Ay, though the very birch's smart
Should mark those hours again;
I'd "kiss the rod," and be resign'd
Beneath the stroke, and even find
Some sugar in the cane!
The Arabian Nights rehearsed in bed!
The Fairy Tales in school-time read,
By stealth, 'twixt verb and noun!
The angel form that always walk'd
In all my dreams, and look'd and talk'd
Exactly like Miss Brown!
The omne bene—Christmas com!
The prize of merit, won for home—
Merit had prizes then!
But now I write for days and days,
For fame—a deal of empty praise,
Without the silver pen!
Then "home, sweet home!" the crowded coach—
The joyous shout—the loud approach—
The winding horns like rams'!
The meeting sweet that made me thrill,
The sweetmeats, almost sweeter still,
No 'satis' to the 'jams'!—
When that I was a tiny boy
My days and nights were full of joy,
My mates were blithe and kind!
No wonder that I sometimes sigh,
And dash the tear-drop from my eye,
To cast a look behind!