LETTERS OF THE LOVERS.
I. TO ANNA.
1 THOU canst not fly me, dearest maid!
2 I haunt thee with the Evening's shade;
3 I see with thee "her golden glow
4 Fall on the silver lake below," —
5 The trees that paint them in the stream
6 Another earth and sky to seem, —
7 The self-same shades that tinge thy sky
8 Make the full circle of my eye.
9 When Night her mantle casts around,
10 With golden stars the border's bound;
11 Or when her crescent crowns her brow,
12 And glitters all the woodland through
13 With quivering beam, that oft deceives,
14 While spreading foil on spangl'd leaves;
15 Till some dark cloud comes sailing by
16 And drinks the lustre of the sky, —
17 Pours from her horn the watery store,
18 And leaves and flowers are bright no more:[Page 128]
19 When Morn stands tiptoe on yon hill,
20 And then first prints the cottage sill
21 And views her, blushing to be seen,
22 As if from bathing she had been;
23 Her golden locks yet scarcely dry,
24 And the dropp'd dew half in her eye;
25 Her sandals wet as wet can be,
26 Her robe still dripping from the sea,
27 Her car just waiting for her hand
28 To drive the coursers over land,
29 And, for the heats of sultry day,
30 To chase the sullen clouds away, —
31 Ah! thinkst thou not I see thee still,
32 And ever did and ever will?
33 Can absence tear thee from my sight?
34 My eyes' full joy — my soul's delight!
35 No; — in the soft and silken bower
36 Where slumber binds the drowsy hour,
37 And sweetest dreams in visions sends
38 To be the wretch's fancied friends,
39 Think'st thou that any form but thine
40 Can meet this ardent gaze of mine?
41 Or, when the blissful vision's o'er,
42 And I must grasp thy shade no more, —
43 When sorrowing drops my eyelids stain,
44 And wake me to my woes again;
45 Think'st thou fond memory will not bear
46 Thy image through the drowning tear?
47 The mind's eye then shall take the place,
48 And wander o'er thy much lov'd face, —[Page 129]
49 See every look and every thought
50 That feeling or that fancy wrought.
51 E'en now I see that starting tear;
52 Where lurks the anguish? tell me where?
53 Ah! my soul trembles while I see
54 That tear, alas! not dropp'd for me.
55 For me! ah, no; she knows I mourn,
56 Yet gives no sorrow in return; —
57 Has seen unmov'd my struggling sighs
58 Send a full deluge from my eyes, —
59 Nay, bade me, while the torrent fell,
60 A long, a sad, a last farewell!
61 All this I know; yet still that tear
62 Sheds a slow languid poison here;
63 The heart's full tubes are running o'er,
64 And the weak veins can hold no more.
65 No more! ah, would it were but so,
66 And death might end the pangs of woe;
67 For what are his to those I've here,
68 Whilst I but think I see that tear!
II. TO THE MOURNER.
1 THOU dost not know me, gentle friend;
2 Would I could make thy sorrows end!
3 Light as the breeze of early dawn,
4 When from Aurora newly blown,[Page 130]
5 As full of life thy heart should be,
6 Nor drop one dew-tear more for me.
7 Have I not known the pangs thou'st felt;
8 Knelt at the shrine where thou hast knelt;
9 With seeming smiles have bound my brow
10 To keep the anguish down below;
11 Nor suffer'd once the cloudy eye
12 To hold acquaintance with a sigh?
13 Your sex such griefs may frankly own,
14 But ours, alas! are ours alone;
15 The stricken deer the herd must fly,
16 Seek the lone shade and silent die!
17 I will not say I doubt thy flame,
18 For ah! I know I've felt the same,
19 The tender hopes and fears that dwell
20 In every breast that loves so well;
21 The warm solicitudes that keep
22 Their tyrant watch o'er banish'd sleep;
23 The pining thought that steals from home
24 With one lov'd object still to roam;
25 Despair that drinks the liquid tear,
26 The heart benumb'd by every fear;
27 Hope banish'd from the bosom's throne,
28 And the blank wishes left alone:
29 'Twas these that made me bid thee fly
30 To other scenes, to other sky.
31 Too well I know th' enchanting power
32 That lurks within the smallest flower;
33 If a lov'd eye its robes have seen,
34 Its coif of gold, and train of green;[Page 131]
35 A fancied charm fast binds the heart,
36 And with the flower we cannot part; —
37 "'Twas Anna's eye that dropp'd on thee,
38 Welcome then little friend to me!
39 'Twas here she prais'd thy soften'd hue,
40 'Twas there she sipp'd thy silver dew;
41 On this leaf bade me cast my eye;
42 On that she breath'd a tender sigh,
43 Which gave thy perfume to the air,
44 By far the sweetest incense there."
45 'Twas thus on scenes I lov'd so well
46 My fancy would for ever dwell,
47 Or know one moment's sweet repose
48 From the sad pangs of endless woes;
49 For memory walk'd the groves around,
50 I heard her voice in every sound,
51 That bade me in soft whispers see
52 Beside the brook — beneath the tree —
53 The object dear — so long deplor'd —
54 "Him whom I call'd my bosom's lord!"
55 You say I cannot fly you — no;
56 That I believe! for sure I know,
57 That Absence cannot guard the cell
58 Where wayward thoughts are doom'd to dwell;
59 Out from the bosom they will break,
60 And former joys for ever seek;
61 For ever tell the passing hour
62 'Tis not like that that's gone before!
63 Yet some remission may be found,
64 While treading o'er unhallow'd ground[Page 132]
65 Where Anna's form has never been,
66 But, like the vapour of a dream,
67 Painted alone for memory's eye,
68 In colours that were wont to fly.
69 But, trust me, if in groves among
70 Where thou hast heard her voice, her song;
71 If thou hast mark'd her watch the cloud,
72 While the hoarse brook kept speaking loud;
73 Or seen her pensive musing stand,
74 The wild flowers dropping from her hand;
75 Or wreathe the woodbine round the tree, —
76 Trust me, it is no place for thee.
77 Such scenes would ever hold her there,
78 And thou would'st meet her every where;
79 Nor e'er could Time around thy woe
80 His soften'd veil of sorrow throw,
81 Such as when Evening dews arise
82 And seem thin gauze before the eyes;
83 All objects then, but dimly seen,
84 Look dimly through th' enammell'd screen;
85 But yet the landscape charms the sight,
86 And gives the eye a meek delight.
III. TO ANNA.
1 THOU bidst me fly thee, and once more
2 I wander to a foreign shore;
3 A world half new before me lies,
4 "Another earth, and other skies;"
5 But ah, alas! e'en now I find
6 I cannot leave myself behind;
7 Nor bar the avenue of thought,
8 Nor drink one sweet oblivious draught,
9 E'en though from Lethe I should lave
10 The pure translucent silver wave.
11 Champagnia's sprightly juice I try,
12 And feel the spirits mantling high;
13 E'en then I see the vision rise
14 That ever swims before my eyes.
15 What if I snatch the tuneful lyre,
16 And rush my fingers 'cross the wire,
17 The gales too catch the mournful song,
18 Wafting the sweetest notes along;
19 Till Echo, sitting in her cell,
20 Resounds the notes she loves so well,
21 And, as I warble forth my woes,
22 "Lends her soft voice at every close;"
23 Such sympathy can never move
24 The settl'd pain of constant love.
25 To Echo yet my griefs I pour
26 At evening knell, or midnight hour;[Page 134]
27 For she, like me, has sorrow known,
28 And almost pin'd herself to stone;
29 Yet with an ear so quickly found, —
30 So sensible of every sound,
31 That not a sigh can swell the air
32 But what she slowly lengthens there;
33 Then, when her sympathy I've tried,
34 Her soothing voice in vain applied,
35 I throw away the useless lyre,
36 And other scenes and views require:
37 I fly to mountains wild and drear,
38 Where summer comes not all the year;
39 There Nature in full pomp behold,
40 Her silver snows, her rocks of gold.
41 For this the hardy Swiss I tend,
42 With him the frozen world descend,
43 And see the laughing valley spread
44 Of silken flowers a velvet bed;
45 See, too, the hamlets smiling round,
46 Of man now hear the cheerful sound;
47 Now mark the cot, with cheerful fire,
48 Amidst yon clump of elms retire;
49 It glads the heart-glow of my guide,
50 And mends the measure of his stride:
51 We near; his Sylvio runs before,
52 His children meet him at the door,
53 His modest dame with welcome air
54 Draws forth with haste the elbow chair,
55 And seats him in the warmest nook,
56 With heartfelt gladness in her look,[Page 135]
57 Think'st thou, when such a scene I see,
58 My thoughts will not revert to thee?
59 To thee! — that night! — but ah! 'tis o'er;
60 Th' unwelcome theme I'll urge no more;
61 No more, since thou hast sorrow felt,
62 And "bent the knee where I have knelt."
63 Italia's gales now bear my song
64 "In soft-link'd notes her woods among;"
65 There mouldering columns silent stand,
66 Bound up by many an osier band,
67 While arms of oak, enfolding all,
68 Keep the huge fragment from its fall:
69 I mark alike weak Tiber's flow,
70 And see his thirsty channel low;
71 I see, where temples used to stand,
72 One scatter'd ruin o'er the land;
73 Yet see the statues breathing still,
74 That once might live, as sure they will;
75 There sister Painting, too, I hear,
76 Almost gives whispers to my ear;
77 While Melody, surviving all,
78 Lets her sweet cadence ever fall,
79 And every voice in tuneful lay,
80 Bears the soft harmony away.
81 There love's soft blandishments entwine
82 Round every human heart but mine;
83 What though Italia's nymphs I find
84 More charming than half womankind;
85 Yet, as they are not like to thee,
86 Italia's nymphs are nought to me! [Page 136]
87 On Virgil's tomb I'll hang my lyre,
88 There shall the rust consume the wire;
89 Sigh to the winds in low return,
90 And o'er his sacred ashes mourn,
91 While one weak string is left to bear
92 The plaintive murmur through the air;
93 Nor poesy again be chose
94 The vehicle of bosom-woes.
95 Vain, vain's the skill, the trial's o'er,
96 And Italy shall charm no more;
97 No more shall France, in spirits wild,
98 Dress up the humours of her child;
99 Home I return to breathe with thee
100 The better air of Liberty;
101 To breathe near thee must have some power
102 O'er the dark demons of the hour!
103 Fear not, my Anna, I shall tell
104 How long I've lov'd, and ah! how well;
105 To this one wish my soul shall bend —
106 "To be alone thy bosom-friend!"