« PreviousContinue »
A VISION. DEDICATED TO CHARLES LAMB.
Oh! not the Rainbow, flushing through the sky,
While in its span the bright lark singing soars,
So lifts the Poet's soul in ecstasy
To the blue brink of those ethereal shores,
As when, absorb'd in worship, he adores
The innocent spirit of a virgin's face
That silently its sweet enchantment pours
Through his heart's core, then fill'd with trembling rays
From eyes of dewy light, and locks of clustering grace.
Aurora! child of Heaven! such eyes are thine;
And such, when simply braided o'er thy brow
That noble brow where Genius, Power divine,
O'er thy high temples sheds a glorious glow
Thy dark hair shadowing that calm front of snow ;
Or loosen'd from its fillet, floating bright,
Enamour'd of thy neck, where lilies grow,
And of thy bosom's consecrated light,
Then like the radiant day bedimm'd by gentle night.
O Nature! Thou of love art prodigal
Unto thy chosen children; soon as born,
Thou on their favourite faces dost let fall
The essential light of heaven's own inner morn;
Rosebuds, whose blissful balm enfolds no thorn,
Thou bid’st grow on their bosoms, and such tresses
As by immortal brows in heaven are worn,
Dishevell’d lustre, under thy caresses
Their glorious foreheads crown that all earth's eyesight blesses !
And thou, Aurora ! wert such darling child
Of Nature; from the still skies at thy birth
Propitious Planets in conjunction mild
Diffused a blessing o'er thy life on earth;
Upon thine infant features in their mirth
The moonshine slept; and ere that thou could'st see,
Or know, or feel the faces round the hearth,
Where thou wert smiling on thy mother's knee,
The whole bright host of heaven in love look'd down on Thee!
Thy cradle was an Urn of Light! therein,
While guardian Angels gazed on thy repose,
Calm without shadow, sweetness without sin,
Blest in their breath lay that celestial Rose.
And when the buds their blossoms 'gan disclose
In dews baptismal, from that holy hour,
As into morning the dim dawning grows
Dreamlike beneath the gentle solar power,
Brighter and brighter wax'd the beauty of the Flower.
She walks ! she speaks! she sings! her eyes discern
The wonders of this world; her ears are filla
With constant music; and her soul doth learn,
Day after day with throbs mysterious thrill’d,
Divinest meanings in the words distill'd
From loving lips, and lights from loving eyes;
And from the moment that she first beheld,
And knew its name in heaven, the Sun uprise,
The fire within her claim'd alliance with the skies.
The radiant child comes bounding like a roe
From thicket startled, not by hunter's horn,
But flapping stock-dove, while the orient glow,
Bathing her glad cheeks in the hues of morn,
Dawns through the veil of clustering curls unshorni
That hang in streamers o'er her ivory breast,
Outshone by the white beauty they adorn!
Till suddenly by some sweet shame opprest,
Before all gazing eyes she stands in graceful rest,
Like some still image by the sculptor wrought,
Dreaming of Cherub near the throne on high !
And now impelld by some new happy thought,
Behold again the sportive creature fly
Birdlike away, as if 'tween earth and sky
Onwards she floated on air-woven wings;
A few hush'd moments hovering silently
Like lark above her nest, then up with springs
Like the same lyrist sweet when at heaven's gate she sings.
So beautiful her bliss that tears would fall
Sometimes, in sad forebodings, from love's eyes
Fix'd on her face in fear! Heaven might recall,
Her parents sigh'd to think, back to the skies
Ere long, to join the Choir of Harmonies,
A creature too ethereal to endure
Earth's cloudy clime, framed for the sanctities
Of amaranthine bowers, where all is sure,
And in perpetual youth abide the peaceful Puré.
But holy apprehensions all gave way
Before the wealth of life that overspread
Aurora's limbs, and like a garment lay
All over her sweet body, as if shed
By dewy sleep's soft hand, down from her head
To her white feet; and sweeter and more sweet
She rose, by happy dreams inspirited;
Her heart each day with bolder pulse did beat,
And health was in the glee that stirr'd those twinkling feet.
To tall slim girlhood grew the graceful child, And on the beauteous brink was standing now Of womanhood, when mirth, no longer wild, Softens to gladness on the maiden's brow, Who well her native dignity doth know; And grave thoughts mix with gay, within the light Of long-lash'd eyes that easily o’erflow With tears that blind not sacred Pity's sightOh! then the dim stars seem even lovelier than the bright!
And yet Aurora loved to shower her smiles
That sometimes into soft-toned laughter grew;
Nor was her innocence unskill'd in wiles
Of nature's blameless witchcraft; her eyes threw
Their lance-like glances dangerous in the dew
That tipt th'ethereal weapons darting round,
And ere the gazer rapt his peril knew,
For heaven's light travels faster far than sound,
His panting heart received th' immedicable wound.
Aye! many a heart, I ween, in secret burn'd
For her, the Incomparable! where'er her eyes,
That gave new sunsbine to the day, were turn'd,
At once that spot of earth was paradise ;
And at one smile of hers, a thousand sighs
Awoke from hearts that had nor fear nor hope,
But, as she glided by, such sacrifice
At such a shrine to pay entranced would stop-
Immaculate as snow upon the mountain top.
For of her wondrous beauty had the fame
Gone forth, and like the power of poetry,
A spell resided in Aurora's name.
All were her worshippers who once did see
But for a glance that young Divinity,
Forgotten nerer more, for like a strain
Was she, they felt, of heavenly melody
(Ah me! from bliss oft springeth dismal pain,) Too exquisite on earth e'er to be heard again.
O Few! thrice happy! privileged by Fate
For hours on hours by her sweet side to dwell,
A vestal in her white noviciate
The sacred fire of virtue guarding well;
Immured not nunlike in some cheerless cell,
But ministering joyful in the broad daylight
Of gracious heaven, within the Citadel
Of Life, called Home, where in God's guardian sight From morn till evening prayer that Seraph serred aright.
Leap up, my soul! and in Aurora's bliss
Scorn, as thou koowest she doth, thy miseries;
See! how the hurrying sunbeams crowd to kiss
Her face and frame all over their own skies
Forgetting for the fragrant heaven that lies
Around her virgin zone. See! there she stands
Most beautiful of all the Destinies,
Who, with one motion of her queenly hands,
Can waft o'er the wide earth Almighty Love's commands !
Yet knew she nought of love or lover's smart;
And if around her eyes a roseate blush
Did e'er betray the palpitating heart,
That through those violet veins a gentle gush
Of pure blood sent careering, such a rush
Of smiles came to her aid, that all serene
She in a moment stood amid the hush,
And raised her downcast eyes with bolder mien,
Simple as rural nymph, yet stately as a Queen!
Yes! by the way-side, dress'd by poverty,
All dust-besprent her mean apparelling,
Had she, on low bank sitting, met the eye
Of Prince or Noble-“ What a glorious thing
In girlhood's golden light here blossoming,"
He would have cried, at once enamoured,
“ Art Thou, who o'er the beauty-laden spring,
From balmy bosom and resplendent head,
By suffering unobscured, bast sweeter brightness shed ?"
That was a passing dream! Aurora breathed
Life's purest ether in domestic bowers;
A sister's hands around her ringlets wreathed,
From Joy's own garden cull’d, affection's flowers ;
And a wise mother, guardian of her hours
Waking or sleeping, still was by her side ;
And thus the gentle fall of suuny showers
Th’ unfailing fountain of her bliss supplied
And but for others' grief the happy maiden sigh’d.
O Grace! a divine mystery art thou ! Light, music, motion, softness, all in one! Sometimes in stainless robes of flowing snow Encircled mildly with cerulean zone, Like a faint rainbow when the rain is gone Yet dewy lingerings dim the fragrant air, For earthly bowers thou leav'st awhile thy throne In the blue sky-hush, and alighting there, The still Idea seem'st of Blessing and of Prayer!
From her pure bed arising, so the morn
Thought on the kneeler in her holiness;
But after orisons, behold her borne
Away upon the wings of happiness
Duly to meet again the close caress
Of kindred near and dear! The glad hours run;
And glorious is the vision's loveliness,
For other raiment Grace hath now put on,
And out Aurora walks as lustrous as the Sun!
Bright are her garments, bright and many-hued ;
Violets and Pinks and Roses all combine
Their tints Sidonian, and yet all subdued
By some soft breath, with mellow radiance shine.
And whose can be that breath, O Grace ! but thine?
Who, at thine own will, tamest th' ethereal dyes
Else splendid over much from heaven's own mine.
'Tis thou who suit'st the light to soothe all eyes, Till colours sink into the soul like Harmonies !
Whate'er her slender fingers touch'd, became
Graceful at once ; if o'er her breathing breast
She dropt a lucid veil of woven flame,
Rose-light on lilies, even its radiant rest
Heaved with new charms; and if upon the crest
Of her luxuriant hair she placed one gem
Starlike, that gem more queenly power possess'd
Over the souls of men, although for them
It shone not, than the blaze of jewell’d diadem.
And well Aurora knew the might of flowers,
Or single, or in wreaths, or garlanded,
Dropt on her temples, as through sunny showers
By Spring's own hand, or over all her head,
Líke Flora's then, profusely scattered,
Or from her fragrant bosom's warm caress
Borrowing a sweeter perfume than they shed,
Or fix'd where sunbeams loved the bloom to kiss Within her virgin zone, the very Bower of Bliss ! VOL, XXXY, NO. CCXXIII.
And with the waving grace of quivering plumes
Ta'en from the desert-bird, or Argus' eyes,
'Twas oft her gay delight the garden-blooms
To overshadow, till their gentler dyes
Grew dim below those gorgeous canopies,
Whose tints the still air slightly coloured ;
And lo ! to.night the Bird of Paradise,
His wings' full glory lovingly outspread,
From some celestial clime descends upon her bead!
Of her own beauty were such fancies born;
For by its lustre she was rapt, inspired,
Although she knew it not, even
as the morn,
Delights unconscious nature ; Genius fired
At her own eyes' reflected light, required
No other Font; and Taste, which is a name
For the pure Love of Beauty, ne'er desired
Aught fairer; while Imagination came
A spell divine to listen in Aurora's name,
So well it seem'd to breathe her character!
Clear, shining, serene, joyful as the moon
Spilling her own peace over earth and air
On May-day eve that almost looks like June,
With leaves among the buds; while a low tune,
And half-composed of echoes, circles round,
So friendly unto silence that you soon
In dreams itself inspired forget the sound,
And feel the heavens and earth in one sweet slumber bound !
Yet was Aurora's temper quick and high,
Oft breaking forth in momentary flashes,
Like harmless lightnings from a silent sky.
In unconsuming fire the silken lashes
Of her proud eyes then glisten'd; but fine dashes
Of scorn adorn'd her forehead at one word
Unlicensed, and the tempest that abashes
The shameless front, those kindled orbs outpour'd,
And cut th' offender down as with a seraph's sword.
Ah! how she wept, in penitential tears,
O'er the small sinnings of forgetfulness
Committed by her sweet self unawares !
By her felt greater when by others less;
Cold look or hasty word to Tenderness
Sometimes perhaps expecting sympathies
Not then obedient to some slight distress
Or trivial joy; but soon those dewy eyes
Again look'd full of love, like the relenting skies.
For Love it was her native element;
There only, might her spirit breathing free
Enjoy its musical being's sweet concent,
Or know the depth of its own harmony;
Even as the balcyon loves a waveless sea,
Where it may dip in calm its peaceful flight;
She loved domestic life's serenity;
And yet no dark disturbances of light
From their religious faith her fix'd eyes could affright!