TO ANNA MATILDA.
1 ON the sea-shore with folded arms I stood,
2 The Sun, just sinking, shot a level ray,
3 Luxuriant crimson glow'd upon the flood,
4 And the curl'd surf was ting'd with golden spray.
5 Far of I faintly track'd the feath'ry sail;
6 When thy sweet numbers caught my yielded ear,
7 Borne on the bosom of the flutt'ring gale,
8 They struck my heart — and rous'd me to a tear.
9 Yet flow'd no bitter anguish from mine eye,
10 A while remembrance left my wayward state;
11 And the soft cadence of thy warbled sigh,
12 Pour'd healing balm into the wounds of Fate.
13 What tho' grim Winter's desolating frown,
14 The wild waves uproar when rough Eurus blows,
15 The tangled forest, and the desart down,
16 Be all the solace DELLA CRUSCA knows:
17 Yet from MATILDA's pure celestial fire,
18 One ruby spark shall to his gloom be given,
19 Lur'd by its light, his fancy may aspire,
20 And catch a ray of bliss — a glimpse of Heaven.
21 Vain in the morn of life, and thoughtless too,
22 He rush'd impetuous as strong passion drove,
23 But soon each flatt'ring prospect fled his view,
24 Deceived by Friendship much, but more by Love.
25 Yes, he has lov'd to Transport's dire excess,
26 Has felt the potent eye inflict the wound;
27 Has felt the female voice each pulse oppress,
28 And grown a breathless statue at the sound.
29 But why recall the moments that are fled?
30 For ever fled, like yonder sweeping blast;
31 With Love, each active principle is dead,
32 And all, except its sad regret, is past.
33 Ah! had he met thee in this happier hour,
34 Ere yet he languish'd in the gripe of Care,
35 Thy minstrel then had fondly own'd thy pow'r,
36 Thy minstrel then might have escap'd Despair.
37 O diff'rent lot! for he who daily grieves,
38 Then with thy beauty blest, and gen'rous mind,
39 Had not, like sallow Autumn's falling leaves,
40 Been shrunk, alas! and scatter'd in the wind.
41 Haply, he had not roam'd for ling'ring years
42 On many a rugged Alp, and foreign shore;
43 He ne'er had known the cause of all his tears,
44 The cherish'd cause, that bids him — hope no more.
45 He would have led thee with attentive gaze,
46 Where the brown hamlet's neighb'ring shades retire,
47 Have hung entranc'd upon thy living lays,
48 And swept with feebler hand a kindred lyre.
49 While the dear Songstress had melodious stole
50 O'er ev'ry sense, and charm'd each nerve to rest,
51 Thy Bard, in silent ecstacy of soul,
52 Had strain'd the dearer Woman to his breast.
53 Or had she said, that War's the worthiest grave,
54 He would have felt his proud heart burn the while;
55 Have dar'd, perhaps, to rush among the brave,
56 Have gain'd, perhaps, the glory — of a smile.
57 And 'tis most true, while Time's relentless hand,
58 With sickly grasp drags others to the tomb,
59 The Soldier scorns to wait the dull command,
60 But springs impatient to a nobler doom.
61 Tho' on the plain he lies, outstretch'd, and pale,
62 Without one friend his stedfast eyes to close;
63 Yet on his honour'd corse shall many a gale,
64 Waft the moist fragrance of the weeping rose.
65 O'er that dread spot, the melancholy Moon
66 Shall pause a while, a sadder beam to shed,
67 And starry Night, amidst her awful noon,
68 Sprinkle light dews upon his hallow'd head.
69 There too the solitary Bird shall swell
70 With long-drawn melody her plaintive throat;
71 While distant Echo from responsive cell,
72 Shall oft with fading force return the note.
73 Such recompense be Valour's due alone!
74 To me, no proffer'd meed must e'er belong;
75 To me, who trod the vale of life unknown,
76 Whose proudest boast was but an idle song.