Page images
PDF

CXI. Buried in air, the deep blue sky of Rome, And looking to the stars: they had contain'd A spirit which with these would find a home, The last of those who o’er the whole earth reign'd, The Roman globe, for after none sustain'd, But yielded back his conquests :-he was more Than a mere Alexander, and, unstain'd

With household blood and wine, serenely wore His sovereign virtues--still we Trajan's name adore. (54)

CXII. Where is the rock of Triumph, the high place Where Rome embraced her heroes? where the steep Tarpeian? fittest goal of Treason's race, The promontory whence the Traitor's Leap Cured all ambition. Did the conquerors heap Their spoils here? Yes; and in yon field below, A thousand years of silenced factions sleep

The Forum, where the immortal accents glow, And still the eloquent air breathes--burns with Cicero!

CXIII.
The field of freedom, faction, fame, and blood:
Here a proud people's passions were exhaled,
From the first hour of empire in the bud
To that when further worlds to conquer fail'd;
But long before had Freedom's face been veild,
And Anarchy assumed her attributes ;
Till every lawless soldier who assail'd

Trod on the trembling senate's slavish mutes,
Or raised the venal voice of baser prostitutes.

!CXIV.
Then turn we to her latest tribune's name,
From her ten thousand tyrants turn to thee,
Redeemer of dark centuries of shame-
The friend of Petrarch-hope of Italy-
Rienzi! last of Romans! While the tree (55)
Of Freedom's wither'd trunk puts forth a leaf,
Even for thy tomb a garland let it be-

The forum's champion, and the people's chief
Her new-born Numa thou-with reign, alas ! too brief.

CXV.
Egeria! sweet creation of some heart (56)
Which found no mortal resting-place so fair
As thine ideal breast; whate'er thou art
Or wert,-a young Aurora of the air,
The nympholepsy of some fond despair ;
Or, it might be, a beauty of the earth,
Who found a more than common votary there

Too much adoring; whatsoe'er thy birth,
Thou wert a beautiful thought, and softly bodied forth.

CXVI. The mosses of thy fountain still are sprinkled With thine Elysian water-drops; the face Of thy cave-guarded spring, with years unwrinkled, Reflects the meek-eyed genius of the place, Whose green, wild margin now no more erase Art's works; nor must the delicate waters sleep, Prison'd in marble, bubbling from the base

Of the cleft statue, with a gentle leap The rill runs o’er, and round, fern, flowers, and ivy, creep CXVII. Fantastically tangled; the green hills Are clothed with early blossoms, through the grass The quick-eyed lizard rustles, and the bills Of summer-birds sing welcome as ye pass; Flowers fresh in hue, and many in their class, Implore the pausing step, and with their dyes Dance in the soft breeze in a fairy mass; · The sweetness of the violet's deep blue eyes, Kiss'd by the breath of heaven, seems coloured by its skies.

CXVIII.
Here didst thou dwell, in this enchanted cover,
Egeria! thy all heavenly bosom beating
For the far footsteps of thy mortal lover;
The purple Midnight veil'd that mystic meeting
With her most starry canopy, and seating
Thyself by thine adorer, what befel ?
This cave was surely shaped out for the greeting

Of an enamour'd Goddess, and the cell
Haunted by holy Love—the earliest oracle !

CXIX.
And didst thou not, thy breast to his replying,
Blend a celestial with a human heart;
And Love, which dies as it was born, in sighing,
Share with immortal transports ? could thine art
Make them indeed immortal, and impart
The purity of heaven to earthly joys,
Expel the venom and not blunt the dart-

The dull satiety which all destroys-
And root from out the soul the deadly weed which cloys:

cxx. Alas! our young affections run to waste, Or water but the desert; whence arise But weeds of dark luxuriance, tares of haste, Rank at the core, though tempting to the eyes, Flowers whose wild odours breathe but agonies, And trees whose gums are poison ; such the plants Which spring beneath her steps as Passion flies

O'er the world's wilderness, and vainly pants For some celestial fruit forbidden to our wants.

CXXI.
Oh Love! no habitant of earth thou art-
An unseen seraph, we believe in thee,
A faith whose martyrs are the broken heart,
But never yet hath seen, nor e'er shall see
The naked eye, thy form, as it should be;
The mind hath made thee, as it peopled heaven,
Even with its own desiring phantasy,

And to a thought such shape and image given, As haunts the unquench'd soul-parch'd-wearied -wrung-and riven.

CXXII. Of its own beauty is the mind diseased, And fevers into false creation:-where, Where are the forms the sculptor's soul hath seized ? In him alone. Can Nature show so fair ? Where are the charms and virtues which we dare Conceive in boyhood and pursue as men, The unreach'd paradise of our despair, Which o'er-informs the pencil and the pen, And overpowers the page where it would bloom again? CXXIII. Who loves, raves—'tis youth's frenzy—but the cure Is bitterer still; as charm by charm unwinds Which robed our idols, and we see too sure Nor worth nor beauty dwells from out the mind's Ideal shape of such; yet still it binds The fatal spell, and still it draws us on, Reaping the whirlwind from the oft-sown winds;

The stubborn heart its alchemy begun, Seems ever near the prize,-wealthiest when most undone.

CXXIV. We wither from our youth, we gasp awaySick-sick; unfound the boon--unslaked the thirst, Though to the last, in verge of our decay, Some phantom lures, such as we sought at firstBut all too late,--so are we doubly curst. Love, fame, ambition, avarice-'tis the same, Each idle—and all ill--and none the worst

For all are meteors with a different name, And Death the sable smoke where vanishes the flame.

CXXV. Few-none-find what they love or could have loved, Though accident, blind contact, and the strong Necessity of loving, have removed Antipathies--but to recur, ere long, Envenom'd with irrevocable wrong; And Circumstance, that unspiritual god And miscreator, makes and helps alongi Our coming evils with a crutch-like rod, "touch turns Hope to dust,--the dust we all

trod.

« PreviousContinue »