« PreviousContinue »
Watching the little tribes that had their world
Within its mossy bark; or laid me down
Beside the rivulet, whose murmuring
Was silence to my soul, and mark'd the swarm
Whose light edged shadows on the bedded sand
Mirror'd their many sports; the insect hum,
The flow of waters, and the song of birds,
Making a holy music to mine ear:
Oh! was it strange, if for such scenes as these,
Such deep devoutness, such intense delight
Of quiet adoration, I forsook
The house of worship?
As lamps burn silent, with unconscious light,
So modest ease in beauty shines most bright;
Unaiming charms with edge resistless fall,
And she who means no mischief, does it all.
The Lady-lover of Sebastian (who is affianced to his sister) takes the veil in despair-the picture is exquisite.
In the low echoes of the anthem's close
The murmurs of a distant chorus rose.
A portal open'd; in its shadow stood
A sable pomp, the hallow'd sisterhood.
They led a white-robed form, young, delicate,
Where life's delicious spring was opening yet;
Yet was she stately, and, as up the isle
She moved her proud, pale lip, half wore a smile:
Her eye was firm, yet those who saw it near,
Saw on its lash the glistening of a tear.
All to Sidonia's passing daughter bow'd,
And she return'd it gravely, like one vow'd
To loftier things. But once she paused, and press'd
With quick, strange force, her slight hand to her
And her wan cheek was redden'd with a glow
That spread its crimson to her forehead's snow,
As if the vestal felt the throes that wreak
Their stings upon young hearts about to break:
She struggled-sigh'd; her look of agony
Was calm'd, and she was at Sidonia's knee.
Her father's chasing tears upon her fell;
His gentle heart abhorr'd the convent cell;
Even now he bade her pause. She look’d to Heaven;
One long, wild pressure to his cheek was given,
Her pale lip quiver'd, would not say, “farewell !"
The bell gave one deep toll-it seem'd her knell;
She started, strove his strong embrace to sever,
Then rush'd within the gate that shuts for ever.
The final, fatal rite was duly done
The tress was shorn, the sable veil put on,
That shades like night the day of hope and youth-
The golden ring was given, the pledge of truth,
That bound on earth, grows firmer in the grave.
The affianced Bride of Sebastian, however, accidentally perishes, and Sebastian rushes to the field of battle to divert the melancholy of his thoughts. In various parts he is haunted by a fair half-visionary Pursuer, with whom he becomes deeply enamoured. At a masquerade, his Enchantress appears as a Moor, and sings. The effect which the fair stranger's singing produces on Sebastian, is thus beautifully described, “ Sebastian wander'd forth; the garden air Rush'd on his cheek, nor cool'd the fever there: He gasp'd for breath. A sparry fountain shot Its waters in the moonlight; by its grot
He stood, as if the sounds his heart would lull:
His face so sad, so pale, so beautiful,
Fix'd on the moon, that in her zenith height
Pour'd on his naked brow a flood of light;
Shrined, moveless, silent, in the splendid beam,
He look'd the marble Genius of the stream.
Silence all round: but when the night-wind sway'd,
Or some roused bird dash'd fluttering through the
For those he had no ear; the starry vault,
The grove, the fount, but fed one whelming thought;
Time, fate, the earth, the glorious heaven above,
Breathed but one mighty dream-that dream was
love. Sebastian had seen beauty, and his name Had lighted many a lady's cheek with flame. Rich, high-born, graceful: such may woo and win, While courteous words conceal the chill within. But with the warrior burning in his blood, He left the fair pursuers unpursued: Bound to Sidonia's daughter from his birth, Laugh'd at the little tyrant of the earth; Could talk, as others talk, of hope and fear, But never gave the god a sigh or tear. But now the world was changed, the die was cast ! How had he slept so long, to wake at last ? What hid the feelings that now shook his soul ? Where was the cloud that gave the thunder roll! This, this was life, at last he waked in light, The veil of years was rent before his sight. 'T was not her beauty, though the loveliest there Was lifeless, soulless, featureless to her; No, nor her melting voice, nor that slight hand That her sweet harp with such swift beauty fann'd,
To wake enchantment from the untouch'd string.
Had he not seen that face before? But where?
He knew not; 't was like music to his ear,
Familiar, but forgotten, frenzy all!
She was a Moor; nay, could he now recall
The features that had madden'd him? Not one.
All was a flash of splendour, dazzling, gone;
A haze of matchless beauty on his eye,
A sense confused, a vision, witchery.
Nature was charm'd to him. He could have talk'd
With every star that in its glory walk'd;
Hope had put life in all unliving things:
He hung above the fountain's rippling springs,
And heard them echo joy; the bud unbranch'd
That his light pressure on the streamlet launch'd
Bounded in joy; his deep and burning sigh
Rose through the vine-leaves, that gave sweet reply.
A sudden meteor sail'd across the Heaven,
He hail'd its sign; to him, to him 'twas given,
Omen of joy; bright promise of bright years,
“Let fear and folly have their · vale of tears,'
Let him be blest with that unequallid one,
Whoe'er she was, she should, she must be won;
Life would roll on, one calm and blossom'd spring :
But, if the tempest came, they would but cling
With arms and hearts the closer, till 't was o'er;
Life a long joy, and death a pang no more.”
Out burst in speech the lover's ecstasy,
A sudden bugle pierced the morning sky.
He started from his dream. The yellow dawn
Wander'd along night's borders, like the fawn,
First venturing from its dappled mother's side
A timid bound on darkness, swift withdrawn,
Then bolder tried again. The starlight died !
OH! the joy
Of young ideas painted on the mind,
In the warm glowing colours fancy spreads
On objects not yet known, when all is new,
And all is lovely.
RETIREMENT. But grant, in public, men sometimes are shown, A woman's seen in private life alone; Our bolder talents in full life display'd, Your virtues open fairest in the shade. Bred to disguise, in public 'tis you hide ; There, none distinguish 'twixt your shame or pride, Weakness or delicacy; all so nice, That each may seem a virtue or a vice.
To train the foliage o'er the snowy lawn;
To guide the pencil, turn the tuneful page;
To lend new favour to the fruitful year,
And heighten nature's dainties; in their race
To rear the graces into second life;
To give society its highest taste;
Well-order'd home man's best delight to make;
And by submissive wisdom, modest skill,
With every gentle care-eluding art,
To raise the virtues, animate the bliss,
And sweeten all the toils of human life :-
This be the female dignity and praise.
FAREWELL TO THE YEAR.
From the Spanish of Luis Baylon.
HARK, friends, it strikes! the year's last hour:
A solemn sound to hear :
Come, fill the cup, and let us pour
Our blessings on the parting year.