Page images
PDF
EPUB

Many an evening by the waters did we watch the

stately ships, And our spirits rushed together at the touching of

the lips.

O my cousin, shallow-hearted! O my Amy, mine

no more! O the dreary, dreary moorland! O the barren,

barren shore !

have sung,

Falser than all fancy fathoms, falser than all songs Puppet to a father's threat, and servile to a shrew

ish tongue !

Is it well to wish thee happy ?-having known

me—to decline On a range of lower feelings and a narrower heart

than mine!

Yet it shall be: thou shalt lower to his level day by

dav, What is fine within thee growing coarse to sympa

thize with clay.

As the husband is, the wife is; thou art mated with

à clown, And the grossness of his nature will have weight to

drag thee down.

He will hold thee, when his passion shall have spent

its novel force, Something better than his dog, a little dearer than

his horse.

What is this ? his eyes are heavy: think not they It may be my lord is weary, that his brain is over.

are glazed with wine. Go to him: it is thy duty: kiss him: take his hand

in thine.

wrought: Soothe him with thy finer fancies, touch him with

thy lighter thought. He will answer to the purpose, easy things to under

standBetter thou wert dead before me, though I slew thee with

my

hand!

Better thou and I were lying, hidden from the

heart's disgrace, Rolled in one another's arms, and silent in a last

embrace.

Cursed be the social wants that sin against the

strength of youth! Cursed be the social lies that warp us from the living

truth!

Cursed be the sickly forms that err from honest

Nature's rule!
Cursed be the gold that gilds the straitened forehead

of the fool!

Well,—'tis well that I should bluster !-Hadst thou

less unworthy provedWould to God-for I had loved thee more than ever

wife was loved.

[ocr errors]

Am I mad, that I should cherish that which bears

but bitter fruit? I will pluck it from my bosom, though my heart be

at the root.

Never, though my mortal summers to such length

of years should come . As the many-wintered crow that leads the clanging

rookery home.

Where is comfort ? in division of the records of the

mind ? Can I part her from herself, and love her, as I knew

her, kind ?

I remember one that perished: sweetly did she

speak and move: Such a one do I remember, whom to look at was to

love.

Can I think of her as dead, and love her for the

love she bore ? No—she never loved me truly: love is love forever

more.

Comfort ? comfort scorned of devils ! this is truth

the poet sings, That a sorrow's crown of sorrow is remembering

happier things.

Drug thy memories, lest thou learn it, lest thy heart

be put to proof, In the dead, unhappy night, and when the rain is

on the roof.

Like a dog, he hunts in dreams, and thou art staring

at the wall, Where the dying night-lamp flickers, and the

shadows rise and fall.

Then a hand shall pass before thee, pointing to his

drunken sleep, To thy widowed marriage-pillows, to the tears that

thou wilt weep. Thou shalt hear the “ Never, never," whispered by

the phantom years, And a song from out the distance in the ringing of And an eye shall vex thee, looking ancient kindness

thine ears

on thy pain. Turn thee, turn thee on thy pillow; get thee to tlıy

rest again. Nay, but Nature brings thee solace; for a tender

voice will cry 'Tis a purer life than thine; a lip to drain thy

trouble dry.

Baby lips will laugh me down: my latest rival

brings thee rest. Baby fingers, waxen touches, press me from the

mother's breast.

O, the child too clothes the father with a dearness

not his due. Half is thine and half is his : it will be worthy of

the two.

O, I see thee old and formal, fitted to thy petty

part, With a little hoard of maxims preaching down a

daughter's heart.

[ocr errors]

They were dangerous guides the feelingsshe

herself was not exemptTruly, she herself had suffered”—Perish in thy

self-contempt!
Overlive it-lower yet—be happy! wherefore should

I care ?
I myself must mix with action, lest I wither by

despair.
What is that which I should turn to, lighting upon

days like these ? Every door is barred with gold, and opens but to

golden keys.

Every gate is thronged with suitors, all the markets

overflow. I have but an angry fancy: what is that which I

should do ?

I had been content to perish, falling on the foeman's

ground, When the ranks are rolled in vapor, and the winds

are laid with sound.

But the jingling of the guinea helps the hurt that

Honor feels, And the nations do but murmur, snarling at each

other's heels.

Can I but relive in sadness? I will turn that earlier

page. Hide me from my deep emotion, oh thou wondrous

Mother-Age!

Make me feel the wild pulsation that I felt before

the strife, When I heard my days before me, and the tumult

of my life; Yearning for the large excitement that the coming

years would yield, Eager-hearted as a boy when first he leaves his

father's field,

And at night along the dusky highway near and

nearer drawn, Sees in heaven the light of London flaring like a

dreary dawn;

And his spirit leaps within him to be gone before

him then, Underneath the light he looks at, in among the

throngs of men;

« PreviousContinue »