ODE ON DESPAIR.
1 SAVE me! — What means you grisly shade,
2 Her stony eye-balls staring wide;
3 In soul, and tatter'd patches clad,
4 With dirt, and gore, and venom dy'd? [Page 199]
5 A burning brand she whirls around,
6 And stamps, and raves, and tears the ground,
7 And madly rends her clotted hair;
8 While thro' her canker'd breast are seen
9 Myriads of serpents bred within,
10 The cursed spawn of self consuming Care! —
11 'Twas thus,h
h Vide Musaeum〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. O poor enamour'd maid,
12 The Stygian fiend approach'd the sea-girt tower,
13 What time, in sad misfortune's evil hour,
14 The faithless lamp Love's cynosure decay'd.
15 "And why," the ghastly phantom cries,
16 "Wilt thou, deluded Hero, wait
17 " Leander's wish'd return, forbid by Fate?
18 "See floating on his watery bier he lies;
19 " Pale are his cheeks, where Love was wont to play,
20 "And clos'd those radiant eyes, that late out-shone the day."
21 The woe-foreboding voice she heard,
22 And wishing, trembling pray'd for morn —
23 When lo! the bleeding corse appear'd,
24 By savage rocks all rudely torn!
25 Where were ye, Nymphs, O tell me where,
26 Daughters of Nereus, fresh and fair?
27 And why, sweet silver-footed Queen,
28 Would'st thou not leave thy coral cave,
29 And sooth the rough remorseless wave,
30 Ere Death had seiz'd thy best, thy boldest swain? —
31 With haggard eyes, all-streaming blood,
32 Distracted Hero saw her lover slain,
33 And thrice indignant view'd the guilty main,
34 And thrice accus'd each merciless watry God.
35 Aye me in vain! — For "see, she cry'd,
36 " My dear Leander's beckoning shade!
37 "And canst thou live, O lost, O wretched maid?
38 " Shall envious Fate so fond a pair divide?
39 "Forbid it, Love!" — Then head-long from the tower
40 Deep in the ruthless flood she plung'd to rise no more!
41 With scenes of woe, O cursed Power,
42 How are thy greedy eyes regal'd?
43 How did thy heart exult of yore,
44 When heaven's vindictive rod assail'd
i See the account, which is given by Thucydides, of the plague at Athens. The Queen of arts? — With giant-stride
46 Contagion stalks, and lo the bride,
47 The virgin-bride unpity'd dies!
48 Claspt to his daughter's throbbing breast,
49 The father breathes his soul to rest,
50 And sorrowing sons compose the widow'd mother's eyes?
51 Scar'd by the Daemon's spotted hand,
52 The eagle scream'd, the famish'd vulture fled,
53 The hungry wolf forsook th' unburied dead,
54 And pale diseases shivering left the land! [Page 201]
55 What cries, and piercing shrieks resound
56 Thro' every street, at every fane?
57 Yet ah! they weep, they weary heaven in vain!
58 Death and Distraction stare on all around!
59 The wretched few, whom poisonous Pestilence spares,
60 Of moody madness die, and heart-distracting fears.
61 These are thy deeds, O fell Despair,
62 Thou tyrant of the tortur'd soul,
k According to the table of Cebes,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉is the Sister of〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Sister of pale-ey'd Grief, and Care,
64 At whose command impetuous roll
65 Passion's rough tides, and swelling high
66 Burst thro' each dear, and sacred tye,
67 And every pleasing thought o'erwhelm;
68 Anon the crazy bark is born,
69 Of winds, and waves, and rocks the scorn,
70 For Reason shrinks appall'd, and trembling quits the helm!
71 O fly, thou first born child of hell,
72 To some far distant, dreary, doleful plain,
73 Where starting Fear, and agonizing Pain,
74 And black Remorse, and sullen Sorrows dwell:
75 Where arm'd with poison, racks, and death,
76 Stern Horror rears his Gorgon head;
77 And writhing dreadful on the iron bed,
78 The purple Furies grind their canker'd teeth;[Page 202]
79 While percht on stubs of trees the shriek-owl sings,
80 And screaming deadly hoarse night-ravens flap their wings!
81 Thither embost with varied woe,
82 Misfortune's pallid slave retires —
83 Hark, hark, he raves! — Thy tablet shew,
84 Charg'd with damn'd ghosts, and sulphurous fires.
85 Oh mercy, heaven! — Upstarting stands
86 His grisly hair; his nerveless hands
87 Shake; o'er his face the curdled blood,
88 From his swoln heart, with tidings flies:
89 "Give me another horse," he cries,
90 "Oh! bring the poison'd bowl, let loose Life's crimson flood!"
91 Sad, sacred wretch! — Thou Power divine,
92 Whose god-like word from chaos dark and dread,
93 Bad Discord fly, and Light sweet-smiling spread
94 Her orient wing, controul this breast of mine!
95 And still when gloomy thoughts prevail,
96 Oh short, and partial be their sway!
97 And beam'd from thee, let Pleasure's gladsome ray
98 The mournful progeny of Grief dispel.
99 So shall the checquer'd scenes of Life delight,
100 As morning brighter peers preceded still by night.