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At Christabel she look'd askance.
The maid devoid of guile and sin
That look of dull and treacherous hate. This is as exquisite in its knowledge of the fascinating tendencies of fear as it is in its description. And what can surpass a line quoted already in the Essay (but I must quote it again !) for very perfection of grace and sentiment?—the line in the passage where Christabel is going to bed, before she is aware that her visitor is a witch.
Quoth Christabel,—So let it be !
And lay down in her loveliness. Oh! it is too late now; and habit and self-love blinded me at the time, and I did not know (much as I admired him) how great a poet lived in that grove at Highgate; or I would have cultivated its walks more, as I might have done, and endeavoured to return him, with my gratitude, a small portion of the delight his verses have given me.
I must add, that I do not think Coleridge's earlier poems at all equal to the rest. Many, indeed, I do not care to read a second time; but there are some ten or a dozen, of which I never tire, and which will one day make a small and precious volume to put in the pockets of all enthusiasts in poetry, and endure with the language. Five of these are The Ancient Mariner, Christabel, Kubla Khan, Genevieve, and Youth and Age. Some, that more personally relate to the poet, will be added for the love of him, not omitting the Visit of the Gods, from Schiller, and the famous passage on the Heathen Mythology, also from Schiller. A short life, a portrait, and some other engravings perhaps, will complete the book, after the good old fashion of Cooke's and Bell's editions of the Poets; and then, like the contents of the Jew of Malta's casket, there will be
Infinite riches in a little room.
LOVE; OR, GENEVIEVE.
Whatever stirs this mortal frame,
And feed his sacred flame.
Live o'er again that happy hour,
Beside the ruin's tower.
The moonlight stealing o'er the scene,
Had blended with the lights of eve;
My own dear Genevieve !
She leant against the armed man,
The statue of the armed knight; She stood and listen’d to my lay,
Amid the lingering light.
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. I play'd a soft and doleful air,
I sang an old and moving storyAn old rude song, that suited 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 that for ten long years he woo'd
The lady of the land.
I told her how he pin'd, and—ah !
The deep, the low, the pleading tone With which I sang 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 gaz'd
Too fondly on her face !
But when I told the cruel scorn
That crazed that bold and lovely knight, And that he cross'd the mountain-woods,
Nor rested day nor night:
That sometimes from the savage den,
Aud 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 that he knew it was a fiend,
This miserable knight!
And that, unknowing what he did,
He leap'd amid a murderous band,
The lady of the land !
And how she wept and claspt his knees;
And how she tended him in vainAnd ever strove to expiate
The scorn that crazed his brain;
And that she nurs’d him in a cave;
And how his madness went away, Wben 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 thrillid my guileless 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 cherished long.
She wept with pity and delight,
She blush'd with love and virgin-shame;
I heard her breathe my name.
Her bosom beav'd-she stept aside,
As conscious of my look she stept-
She fled to me and wept.
She half enclos'd me in her arms,
She press’d me with a meek embrace ;
And gazed upon my face.
'Twas partly love and partly fear,
And partly ’t was a bashful art
The swelling of her heart.
I calm'd her fears, and she was calm,
And told her love with virgin pride,
My own, my beauteous bride !
I can hardly say a word upon this poem for very admiration. I must observe, however, that one of the charms of it consists in the numerous repetitions and revolvings of the words, one on the other, as if taking delight in their own beauty.