"Avaunt! to-night my heart is light. No dirge will I upraise, But waft the angel on her flight with a paean of old days! Let no bell toll!—lest her sweet soul, amid its hallowed mirth, Should catch the note, as it doth float up from the damned Earth. To friends above, from fiends below, the indignant ghost is riven— From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven— From grief and groan to a golden throne beside the King of Heaven."
* * * * *
TO ONE IN PARADISE,
Thou wast that all to me, love, For which my soul did pine— A green isle in the sea, love, A fountain and a shrine, All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers, And all the flowers were mine.
Ah, dream too bright to last! Ah, starry Hope! that didst arise But to be overcast! A voice from out the Future cries, "On! on!"—but o'er the Past (Dim gulf!) my spirit hovering lies Mute, motionless, aghast!
For, alas! alas! with me The light of Life is o'er! "No more—no more—no more"— (Such language holds the solemn sea To the sands upon the shore) Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree, Or the stricken eagle soar!
And all my days are trances, And all my nightly dreams Are where thy dark eye glances, And where thy footstep gleams— In what ethereal dances, By what eternal streams!
Alas! for that accursed time They bore thee o'er the billow, From love to titled age and crime, And an unholy pillow! From me, and from our misty clime, Where weeps the silver willow!
* * * * *
Type of the antique Rome! Rich reliquary Of lofty contemplation left to Time By buried centuries of pomp and power! At length—at length—after so many days Of weary pilgrimage and burning thirst, (Thirst for the springs of lore that in thee lie,) I kneel, an altered and an humble man, Amid thy shadows, and so drink within My very soul thy grandeur, gloom, and glory!
Vastness! and Age! and Memories of Eld! Silence! and Desolation! and dim Night! I feel ye now—I feel ye in your strength— O spells more sure than e'er Judaean king Taught in the gardens of Gethsemane! O charms more potent than the rapt Chaldee Ever drew down from out the quiet stars!
Here, where a hero fell, a column falls! Here, where the mimic eagle glared in gold, A midnight vigil holds the swarthy bat! Here, where the dames of Rome their gilded hair Waved to the wind, now wave the reed and thistle! Here, where on golden throne the monarch lolled, Glides, spectre-like, unto his marble home, Lit by the wan light of the horned moon, The swift and silent lizard of the stones!
But stay! these walls—these ivy-clad arcades— These mouldering plinths—these sad and blackened shafts— These vague entablatures—this crumbling frieze— These shattered cornices—this wreck—this ruin— These stones—alas! these gray stones—are they all— All of the famed, and the colossal left By the corrosive Hours to Fate and me?
"Not all"—the Echoes answer me—"not all! Prophetic sounds and loud, arise forever From us, and from all Ruin, unto the wise, As melody from Memnon to the Sun. We rule the hearts of mightiest men—we rule With a despotic sway all giant minds. We are not impotent—we pallid stones. Not all our power is gone—not all our fame— Not all the magic of our high renown— Not all the wonder that encircles us— Not all the mysteries that in us lie— Not all the memories that hang upon And cling around about us as a garment, Clothing us in a robe of more than glory."
* * * * *
THE HAUNTED PALACE.
In the greenest of our valleys By good angels tenanted, Once a fair and stately palace— Radiant palace—reared its head. In the monarch Thought's dominion— It stood there! Never seraph spread a pinion Over fabric half so fair!
Banners yellow, glorious, golden, On its roof did float and flow, (This—all this—was in the olden Time long ago), And every gentle air that dallied, In that sweet day, Along the ramparts plumed and pallid, A winged odor went away.
Wanderers in that happy valley, Through two luminous windows, saw Spirits moving musically, To a lute's well-tuned law, Bound about a throne where, sitting (Porphyrogene!) In state his glory well befitting, The ruler of the realm was seen.
And all with pearl and ruby glowing Was the fair palace door, Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing, And sparkling evermore, A troop of Echoes, whose sweet duty Was but to sing, In voices of surpassing beauty, The wit and wisdom of their king.
But evil things, in robes of sorrow, Assailed the monarch's high estate. (Ah, let us mourn!—for never morrow Shall dawn upon him desolate !) And round about his home the glory That blushed and bloomed, Is but a dim-remembered story Of the old time entombed.
And travellers, now, within that valley, Through the red-litten windows see Vast forms, that move fantastically To a discordant melody, While, like a ghastly rapid river, Through the pale door A hideous throng rush out forever And laugh—but smile no more.
* * * * *
THE CONQUEROR WORM.
Lo! 'tis a gala night Within the lonesome latter years! An angel throng, bewinged, bedight In veils, and drowned in tears, Sit in a theatre, to see A play of hopes and fears, While the orchestra breathes fitfully The music of the spheres.
Mimes, in the form of God on high, Mutter and mumble low, And hither and thither fly— Mere puppets they, who come and go At bidding of vast formless things That shift the scenery to and fro, Flapping from out their Condor wings Invisible Wo!
That motley drama—oh, be sure It shall not be forgot! With its Phantom chased for evermore, By a crowd that seize it not, Through a circle that ever returneth in To the self-same spot, And much of Madness, and more of Sin, And Horror the soul of the plot.
But see, amid the mimic rout A crawling shape intrude! A blood-red thing that writhes from out The scenic solitude! It writhes!—it writhes!—with mortal pangs The mimes become its food, And the angels sob at vermin fangs In human gore imbued.
Out—out are the lights—out all! And, over each quivering form, The curtain, a funeral pall, Comes down with the rush of a storm, And the angels, all pallid and wan, Uprising, unveiling, affirm That the play is the tragedy, "Man," And its hero the Conqueror Worm.
* * * * *
There are some qualities—some incorporate things, That have a double life, which thus is made A type of that twin entity which springs From matter and light, evinced in solid and shade. There is a twofold Silence—sea and shore— Body and soul. One dwells in lonely places, Newly with grass o'ergrown; some solemn graces, Some human memories and tearful lore, Render him terrorless: his name's "No More." He is the corporate Silence: dread him not! No power hath he of evil in himself; But should some urgent fate (untimely lot!) Bring thee to meet his shadow (nameless elf, That haunteth the lone regions where hath trod No foot of man), commend thyself to God!
* * * * *
By a route obscure and lonely, Haunted by ill angels only, Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT, On a black throne reigns upright, I have reached these lands but newly From an ultimate dim Thule— From a wild weird clime that lieth, sublime, Out of SPACE—out of TIME.
Bottomless vales and boundless floods, And chasms, and caves, and Titan woods, With forms that no man can discover For the dews that drip all over; Mountains toppling evermore Into seas without a shore; Seas that restlessly aspire, Surging, unto skies of fire; Lakes that endlessly outspread Their lone waters—lone and dead, Their still waters—still and chilly With the snows of the lolling lily.
By the lakes that thus outspread Their lone waters, lone and dead,— Their sad waters, sad and chilly With the snows of the lolling lily,—
By the mountains—near the river Murmuring lowly, murmuring ever,— By the gray woods,—by the swamp Where the toad and the newt encamp,— By the dismal tarns and pools Where dwell the Ghouls,— By each spot the most unholy— In each nook most melancholy,—
There the traveller meets aghast Sheeted Memories of the past— Shrouded forms that start and sigh As they pass the wanderer by— White-robed forms of friends long given, In agony, to the Earth—and Heaven.
For the heart whose woes are legion 'Tis a peaceful, soothing region— For the spirit that walks in shadow 'Tis—oh, 'tis an Eldorado! But the traveller, travelling through it, May not—dare not openly view it; Never its mysteries are exposed To the weak human eye unclosed; So wills its King, who hath forbid The uplifting of the fringed lid; And thus the sad Soul that here passes Beholds it but through darkened glasses.
By a route obscure and lonely, Haunted by ill angels only.
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT, On a black throne reigns upright, I have wandered home but newly From this ultimate dim Thule.
* * * * *
Fair isle, that from the fairest of all flowers, Thy gentlest of all gentle names dost take! How many memories of what radiant hours At sight of thee and thine at once awake! How many scenes of what departed bliss! How many thoughts of what entombed hopes! How many visions of a maiden that is No more—no more upon thy verdant slopes!
No more! alas, that magical sad sound Transforming all! Thy charms shall please no more— Thy memory no more! Accursed ground Henceforward I hold thy flower-enamelled shore, O hyacinthine isle! O purple Zante! "Isola d'oro! Fior di Levante!"
* * * * *
At morn—at noon—at twilight dim— Maria! thou hast heard my hymn! In joy and wo—in good and ill— Mother of God, be with me still! When the Hours flew brightly by, And not a cloud obscured the sky, My soul, lest it should truant be, Thy grace did guide to thine and thee Now, when storms of Fate o'ercast Darkly my Present and my Past, Let my future radiant shine With sweet hopes of thee and thine!
* * * * *
"Lenore" was published, very nearly in its existing shape, in 'The Pioneer' for 1843, but under the title of "The Paean"—now first published in the POEMS OF YOUTH—the germ of it appeared in 1831.
* * * * *
21. TO ONE IN PARADISE
"To One in Paradise" was included originally in "The Visionary" (a tale now known as "The Assignation"), in July, 1835, and appeared as a separate poem entitled "To Ianthe in Heaven," in Burton's 'Gentleman's Magazine' for July, 1839. The fifth stanza is now added, for the first time, to the piece.
* * * * *
22. THE COLISEUM
"The Coliseum" appeared in the Baltimore 'Saturday Visitor' ('sic') in 1833, and was republished in the 'Southern Literary Messenger' for August 1835, as "A Prize Poem."
* * * * *
23. THE HAUNTED PALACE
"The Haunted Palace" originally issued in the Baltimore 'American Museum' for April, 1888, was subsequently embodied in that much admired tale, "The Fall of the House of Usher," and published in it in Burton's 'Gentleman's Magazine' for September, 1839. It reappeared in that as a separate poem in the 1845 edition of Poe's poems.
* * * * *
24. THE CONQUEROR WORM
"The Conqueror Worm," then contained in Poe's favorite tale of "Ligeia," was first published in the 'American Museum' for September, 1838. As a separate poem, it reappeared in 'Graham's Magazine' for January, 1843.
* * * * *
The sonnet, "Silence," was originally published in Burton's 'Gentleman's Magazine' for April, 1840.
* * * * *
The first known publication of "Dreamland" was in 'Graham's Magazine' for June, 1844.
* * * * *
37. TO ZANTE
The "Sonnet to Zante" is not discoverable earlier than January, 1837, when it appeared in the 'Southern Literary Messenger'.
* * * * *
The initial version of the "Catholic Hymn" was contained in the story of "Morella," and published in the 'Southern Literary Messenger' for April, 1885. The lines as they now stand, and with their present title, were first published in the 'Broadway Journal for August', 1845.
* * * * *
SCENES FROM "POLITIAN."
AN UNPUBLISHED DRAMA.
ROME.—A Hall in a Palace. ALESSANDRA and CASTIGLIONE
Alessandra. Thou art sad, Castiglione.
Castiglione. Sad!—not I. Oh, I'm the happiest, happiest man in Rome! A few days more, thou knowest, my Alessandra, Will make thee mine. Oh, I am very happy!
Aless. Methinks thou hast a singular way of showing Thy happiness—what ails thee, cousin of mine? Why didst thou sigh so deeply?
Cas. Did I sigh? I was not conscious of it. It is a fashion, A silly—a most silly fashion I have When I am very happy. Did I sigh? (sighing.)
Aless. Thou didst. Thou art not well. Thou hast indulged Too much of late, and I am vexed to see it. Late hours and wine, Castiglione,—these Will ruin thee! thou art already altered— Thy looks are haggard—nothing so wears away The constitution as late hours and wine.
Cas. (musing ). Nothing, fair cousin, nothing— Not even deep sorrow— Wears it away like evil hours and wine. I will amend.
Aless. Do it! I would have thee drop Thy riotous company, too—fellows low born Ill suit the like of old Di Broglio's heir And Alessandra's husband.
Cas. I will drop them.
Aless. Thou wilt—thou must. Attend thou also more To thy dress and equipage—they are over plain For thy lofty rank and fashion—much depends Upon appearances.
Cas. I'll see to it.
Aless. Then see to it!—pay more attention, sir, To a becoming carriage—much thou wantest In dignity.
Cas. Much, much, oh, much I want In proper dignity.
Aless. (haughtily). Thou mockest me, sir!
Cos. (abstractedly). Sweet, gentle Lalage!
Aless. Heard I aright? I speak to him—he speaks of Lalage? Sir Count! (places her hand on his shoulder) what art thou dreaming? He's not well! What ails thee, sir?
Cas.(starting). Cousin! fair cousin!—madam! I crave thy pardon—indeed I am not well— Your hand from off my shoulder, if you please. This air is most oppressive!—Madam—the Duke!
Enter Di Broglio.
Di Broglio. My son, I've news for thee!—hey! —what's the matter? (observing Alessandra). I' the pouts? Kiss her, Castiglione! kiss her, You dog! and make it up, I say, this minute! I've news for you both. Politian is expected Hourly in Rome—Politian, Earl of Leicester! We'll have him at the wedding. 'Tis his first visit To the imperial city.
Aless. What! Politian Of Britain, Earl of Leicester?
Di Brog. The same, my love. We'll have him at the wedding. A man quite young In years, but gray in fame. I have not seen him, But Rumor speaks of him as of a prodigy Pre-eminent in arts, and arms, and wealth, And high descent. We'll have him at the wedding.
Aless. I have heard much of this Politian. Gay, volatile and giddy—is he not, And little given to thinking?
Di Brog. Far from it, love. No branch, they say, of all philosophy So deep abstruse he has not mastered it. Learned as few are learned.
Aless. 'Tis very strange! I have known men have seen Politian And sought his company. They speak of him As of one who entered madly into life, Drinking the cup of pleasure to the dregs.
Cas. Ridiculous! Now I have seen Politian And know him well—nor learned nor mirthful he. He is a dreamer, and shut out From common passions.
Di Brog. Children, we disagree. Let us go forth and taste the fragrant air Of the garden. Did I dream, or did I hear Politian was a melancholy man?
ROME.—A Lady's Apartment, with a window open and looking into a garden. LALAGE, in deep mourning, reading at a table on which lie some books and a hand-mirror. In the background JACINTA (a servant maid) leans carelessly upon a chair.
Lalage. Jacinta! is it thou?
Jacinta (pertly). Yes, ma'am, I'm here.
Lal. I did not know, Jacinta, you were in waiting. Sit down!—let not my presence trouble you— Sit down!—for I am humble, most humble.
Jac. (aside). 'Tis time.
(Jacinta seats herself in a side-long manner upon the chair, resting her elbows upon the back, and regarding her mistress with a contemptuous look. Lalage continues to read.)
Lal. "It in another climate, so he said, Bore a bright golden flower, but not i' this soil!"
(pauses—turns over some leaves and resumes.)
"No lingering winters there, nor snow, nor shower— But Ocean ever to refresh mankind Breathes the shrill spirit of the western wind" Oh, beautiful!—most beautiful!—how like To what my fevered soul doth dream of Heaven! O happy land! (pauses) She died!—the maiden died! O still more happy maiden who couldst die! Jacinta!
(Jacinta returns no answer, and Lalage presently resumes.)
Again!—a similar tale Told of a beauteous dame beyond the sea! Thus speaketh one Ferdinand in the words of the play— "She died full young"—one Bossola answers him— "I think not so—her infelicity Seemed to have years too many"—Ah, luckless lady! Jacinta! (still no answer.) Here's a far sterner story— But like—oh, very like in its despair— Of that Egyptian queen, winning so easily A thousand hearts—losing at length her own. She died. Thus endeth the history—and her maids Lean over her and keep—two gentle maids With gentle names—Eiros and Charmion! Rainbow and Dove!—Jacinta!
Jac. (pettishly). Madam, what is it?
Lal. Wilt thou, my good Jacinta, be so kind As go down in the library and bring me The Holy Evangelists?
Lal. If there be balm For the wounded spirit in Gilead, it is there! Dew in the night time of my bitter trouble Will there be found—"dew sweeter far than that Which hangs like chains of pearl on Hermon hill."
(re-enter Jacinta, and throws a volume on the table.)
There, ma'am, 's the book. (aside.) Indeed she is very troublesome.
Lal. (astonished). What didst thou say, Jacinta? Have I done aught To grieve thee or to vex thee?—I am sorry. For thou hast served me long and ever been Trustworthy and respectful. (resumes her reading.)
Jac. (aside.) I can't believe She has any more jewels—no—no—she gave me all.
Lal. What didst thou say, Jacinta? Now I bethink me Thou hast not spoken lately of thy wedding. How fares good Ugo?—and when is it to be? Can I do aught?—is there no further aid Thou needest, Jacinta?
Jac. (aside.) Is there no further aid! That's meant for me. I'm sure, madam, you need not Be always throwing those jewels in my teeth.
Lal. Jewels! Jacinta,—now indeed, Jacinta, I thought not of the jewels.
Jac. Oh, perhaps not! But then I might have sworn it. After all, There's Ugo says the ring is only paste, For he's sure the Count Castiglione never Would have given a real diamond to such as you; And at the best I'm certain, madam, you cannot Have use for jewels now. But I might have sworn it.
(Lalage bursts into tears and leans her head upon the table—after a short pause raises it.)
Lal. Poor Lalage!—and is it come to this? Thy servant maid!—but courage!—'tis but a viper Whom thou hast cherished to sting thee to the soul! (taking up the mirror) Ha! here at least's a friend—too much a friend In earlier days—a friend will not deceive thee. Fair mirror and true! now tell me (for thou canst) A tale—a pretty tale—and heed thou not Though it be rife with woe. It answers me. It speaks of sunken eyes, and wasted cheeks, And beauty long deceased—remembers me, Of Joy departed—Hope, the Seraph Hope, Inurned and entombed!—now, in a tone Low, sad, and solemn, but most audible, Whispers of early grave untimely yawning For ruined maid. Fair mirror and true!—thou liest not! Thou hast no end to gain—no heart to break— Castiglione lied who said he loved—— Thou true—he false!—false!—false!
(While she speaks, a monk enters her apartment and approaches unobserved)
Monk. Refuge thou hast, Sweet daughter! in Heaven. Think of eternal things! Give up thy soul to penitence, and pray!
Lal. (arising hurriedly). I cannot pray!—My soul is at war with God! The frightful sounds of merriment below; Disturb my senses—go! I cannot pray— The sweet airs from the garden worry me! Thy presence grieves me—go!—thy priestly raiment Fills me with dread—thy ebony crucifix With horror and awe!
Monk. Think of thy precious soul!
Lal. Think of my early days!—think of my father And mother in Heaven! think of our quiet home, And the rivulet that ran before the door! Think of my little sisters!—think of them! And think of me!—think of my trusting love And confidence—his vows—my ruin—think—think Of my unspeakable misery!——begone! Yet stay! yet stay!—what was it thou saidst of prayer And penitence? Didst thou not speak of faith And vows before the throne?
Monk. I did.
Lal. 'Tis well. There is a vow 'twere fitting should be made— A sacred vow, imperative and urgent, A solemn vow!
Monk. Daughter, this zeal is well!
Lal. Father, this zeal is anything but well! Hast thou a crucifix fit for this thing? A crucifix whereon to register This sacred vow? (he hands her his own.) Not that—Oh! no!—no!—no (shuddering.) Not that! Not that!—I tell thee, holy man, Thy raiments and thy ebony cross affright me! Stand back! I have a crucifix myself,— I have a crucifix! Methinks 'twere fitting The deed—the vow—the symbol of the deed— And the deed's register should tally, father! (draws a cross-handled dagger and raises it on high.) Behold the cross wherewith a vow like mine Is written in heaven!
Monk. Thy words are madness, daughter, And speak a purpose unholy—thy lips are livid— Thine eyes are wild—tempt not the wrath divine! Pause ere too late!—oh, be not—be not rash! Swear not the oath—oh, swear it not!
Lal. 'Tis sworn!
An Apartment in a Palace. POLITIAN and BALDAZZAR.
Baldazzar. Arouse thee now, Politian! Thou must not—nay indeed, indeed, thou shalt not Give way unto these humors. Be thyself! Shake off the idle fancies that beset thee And live, for now thou diest!
Politian. Not so, Baldazzar! Surely I live.
Bal. Politian, it doth grieve me To see thee thus!
Pol. Baldazzar, it doth grieve me To give thee cause for grief, my honored friend. Command me, sir! what wouldst thou have me do? At thy behest I will shake off that nature Which from my forefathers I did inherit, Which with my mother's milk I did imbibe, And be no more Politian, but some other. Command me, sir!
Bal. To the field then—to the field— To the senate or the field.
Pol. Alas! alas! There is an imp would follow me even there! There is an imp hath followed me even there! There is—what voice was that?
Bal. I heard it not. I heard not any voice except thine own, And the echo of thine own.
Pol. Then I but dreamed.
Bal. Give not thy soul to dreams: the camp—the court Befit thee—Fame awaits thee—Glory calls— And her the trumpet-tongued thou wilt not hear In hearkening to imaginary sounds And phantom voices.
Pol. It is a phantom voice! Didst thou not hear it then?
Bal I heard it not.
Pol. Thou heardst it not!—Baldazzar, speak no more To me, Politian, of thy camps and courts. Oh! I am sick, sick, sick, even unto death, Of the hollow and high-sounding vanities Of the populous Earth! Bear with me yet awhile We have been boys together—school-fellows— And now are friends—yet shall not be so long— For in the Eternal City thou shalt do me A kind and gentle office, and a Power— A Power august, benignant, and supreme— Shall then absolve thee of all further duties Unto thy friend.
Bal. Thou speakest a fearful riddle I will not understand.
Pol. Yet now as Fate Approaches, and the Hours are breathing low, The sands of Time are changed to golden grains, And dazzle me, Baldazzar. Alas! alas! I cannot die, having within my heart So keen a relish for the beautiful As hath been kindled within it. Methinks the air Is balmier now than it was wont to be— Rich melodies are floating in the winds— A rarer loveliness bedecks the earth— And with a holier lustre the quiet moon Sitteth in Heaven.—Hist! hist! thou canst not say Thou hearest not now, Baldazzar?
Bal. Indeed I hear not.
Pol. Not hear it!—listen—now—listen!—the faintest sound And yet the sweetest that ear ever heard! A lady's voice!—and sorrow in the tone! Baldazzar, it oppresses me like a spell! Again!—again!—how solemnly it falls Into my heart of hearts! that eloquent voice Surely I never heard—yet it were well Had I but heard it with its thrilling tones In earlier days!
Bal. I myself hear it now. Be still!—the voice, if I mistake not greatly, Proceeds from younder lattice—which you may see Very plainly through the window—it belongs, Does it not? unto this palace of the Duke. The singer is undoubtedly beneath The roof of his Excellency—and perhaps Is even that Alessandra of whom he spoke As the betrothed of Castiglione, His son and heir.
Pol. Be still!—it comes again!
Voice (very faintly). "And is thy heart so strong  As for to leave me thus, That have loved thee so long, In wealth and woe among? And is thy heart so strong As for to leave me thus? Say nay! say nay!"
Bal. The song is English, and I oft have heard it In merry England—never so plaintively— Hist! hist! it comes again!
Voice (more loudly). "Is it so strong As for to leave me thus, That have loved thee so long, In wealth and woe among? And is thy heart so strong As for to leave me thus? Say nay! say nay!"
Bal. 'Tis hushed and all is still!
Pol. All is not still.
Bal. Let us go down.
Pol. Go down, Baldazzar, go!
Bal. The hour is growing late—the Duke awaits us,— Thy presence is expected in the hall Below. What ails thee, Earl Politian?
Voice (distinctly). "Who have loved thee so long, In wealth and woe among, And is thy heart so strong? Say nay! say nay!"
Bal. Let us descend!—'tis time. Politian, give These fancies to the wind. Remember, pray, Your bearing lately savored much of rudeness Unto the Duke. Arouse thee! and remember!
Pol. Remember? I do. Lead on! I do remember. (going). Let us descend. Believe me I would give, Freely would give the broad lands of my earldom To look upon the face hidden by yon lattice— "To gaze upon that veiled face, and hear Once more that silent tongue."
Bal. Let me beg you, sir, Descend with me—the Duke may be offended. Let us go down, I pray you.
Voice (loudly). Say nay!—say nay!
Pol. (aside). 'Tis strange!—'tis very strange—methought the voice Chimed in with my desires and bade me stay! (Approaching the window) Sweet voice! I heed thee, and will surely stay. Now be this fancy, by heaven, or be it Fate, Still will I not descend. Baldazzar, make Apology unto the Duke for me; I go not down to-night.
Bal. Your lordship's pleasure Shall be attended to. Good-night, Politian.
Pol. Good-night, my friend, good-night.
The Gardens of a Palace—Moonlight. LALAGE and POLITIAN.
Lalage. And dost thou speak of love To me, Politian?—dost thou speak of love To Lalage?—ah woe—ah woe is me! This mockery is most cruel—most cruel indeed!
Politian. Weep not! oh, sob not thus!—thy bitter tears Will madden me. Oh, mourn not, Lalage— Be comforted! I know—I know it all, And still I speak of love. Look at me, brightest, And beautiful Lalage!—turn here thine eyes! Thou askest me if I could speak of love, Knowing what I know, and seeing what I have seen Thou askest me that—and thus I answer thee— Thus on my bended knee I answer thee. (kneeling.) Sweet Lalage, I love thee—love thee—love thee; Thro' good and ill—thro' weal and woe, I love thee. Not mother, with her first-born on her knee, Thrills with intenser love than I for thee. Not on God's altar, in any time or clime, Burned there a holier fire than burneth now Within my spirit for thee. And do I love? (arising.) Even for thy woes I love thee—even for thy woes— Thy beauty and thy woes.
Lal. Alas, proud Earl, Thou dost forget thyself, remembering me! How, in thy father's halls, among the maidens Pure and reproachless of thy princely line, Could the dishonored Lalage abide? Thy wife, and with a tainted memory— My seared and blighted name, how would it tally With the ancestral honors of thy house, And with thy glory?
Pol. Speak not to me of glory! I hate—I loathe the name; I do abhor The unsatisfactory and ideal thing. Art thou not Lalage, and I Politian? Do I not love—art thou not beautiful— What need we more? Ha! glory! now speak not of it: By all I hold most sacred and most solemn— By all my wishes now—my fears hereafter— By all I scorn on earth and hope in heaven— There is no deed I would more glory in, Than in thy cause to scoff at this same glory And trample it under foot. What matters it— What matters it, my fairest, and my best, That we go down unhonored and forgotten Into the dust—so we descend together? Descend together—and then—and then perchance—
Lal. Why dost thou pause, Politian?
Pol. And then perchance Arise together, Lalage, and roam The starry and quiet dwellings of the blest, And still—
Lal. Why dost thou pause, Politian?
Pol. And still together—together.
Lal. Now, Earl of Leicester! Thou lovest me, and in my heart of hearts I feel thou lovest me truly.
Pol. O Lalage! (throwing himself upon his knee.) And lovest thou me?
Lal. Hist! hush! within the gloom Of yonder trees methought a figure passed— A spectral figure, solemn, and slow, and noiseless— Like the grim shadow Conscience, solemn and noiseless. (walks across and returns.) I was mistaken—'twas but a giant bough Stirred by the autumn wind. Politian!
Pol. My Lalage—my love! why art thou moved? Why dost thou turn so pale? Not Conscience self, Far less a shadow which thou likenest to it, Should shake the firm spirit thus. But the night wind Is chilly—and these melancholy boughs Throw over all things a gloom.
Lal. Politian! Thou speakest to me of love. Knowest thou the land With which all tongues are busy—a land new found— Miraculously found by one of Genoa— A thousand leagues within the golden west? A fairy land of flowers, and fruit, and sunshine,— And crystal lakes, and over-arching forests, And mountains, around whose towering summits the winds Of Heaven untrammelled flow—which air to breathe Is Happiness now, and will be Freedom hereafter In days that are to come?
Pol. Oh, wilt thou—wilt thou Fly to that Paradise—my Lalage, wilt thou Fly thither with me? There Care shall be forgotten, And Sorrow shall be no more, and Eros be all. And life shall then be mine, for I will live For thee, and in thine eyes—and thou shalt be No more a mourner—but the radiant Joys Shall wait upon thee, and the angel Hope Attend thee ever; and I will kneel to thee And worship thee, and call thee my beloved, My own, my beautiful, my love, my wife, My all;—oh, wilt thou—wilt thou, Lalage, Fly thither with me?
Lal. A deed is to be done— Castiglione lives!
Pol. And he shall die!
Lal. (after a pause). And—he—shall—die!—alas! Castiglione die? Who spoke the words? Where am I?—what was it he said?—Politian! Thou art not gone—thou art not gone, Politian! I feel thou art not gone—yet dare not look, Lest I behold thee not—thou couldst not go With those words upon thy lips—oh, speak to me! And let me hear thy voice—one word—one word, To say thou art not gone,—one little sentence, To say how thou dost scorn—how thou dost hate My womanly weakness. Ha! ha! thou art not gone— Oh, speak to me! I knew thou wouldst not go! I knew thou wouldst not, couldst not, durst not go. Villain, thou art not gone—thou mockest me! And thus I clutch thee—thus!—He is gone, he is gone— Gone—gone. Where am I?—'tis well—'tis very well! So that the blade be keen—the blow be sure, 'Tis well, 'tis very well—alas! alas!
The Suburbs. POLITIAN alone.
Politian. This weakness grows upon me. I am fain And much I fear me ill—it will not do To die ere I have lived!—Stay—stay thy hand, O Azrael, yet awhile!—Prince of the Powers Of Darkness and the Tomb, oh, pity me! Oh, pity me! let me not perish now, In the budding of my Paradisal Hope! Give me to live yet—yet a little while: 'Tis I who pray for life—I who so late Demanded but to die!—What sayeth the Count?
Baldazzar. That, knowing no cause of quarrel or of feud Between the Earl Politian and himself, He doth decline your cartel.
Pol. What didst thou say? What answer was it you brought me, good Baldazzar? With what excessive fragrance the zephyr comes Laden from yonder bowers!—a fairer day, Or one more worthy Italy, methinks No mortal eyes have seen!—what said the Count?
Bal. That he, Castiglione, not being aware Of any feud existing, or any cause Of quarrel between your lordship and himself, Cannot accept the challenge.
Pol. It is most true— All this is very true. When saw you, sir, When saw you now, Baldazzar, in the frigid Ungenial Britain which we left so lately, A heaven so calm as this—so utterly free From the evil taint of clouds?—and he did say?
Bal. No more, my lord, than I have told you: The Count Castiglione will not fight. Having no cause for quarrel.
Pol. Now this is true— All very true. Thou art my friend, Baldazzar, And I have not forgotten it—thou'lt do me A piece of service: wilt thou go back and say Unto this man, that I, the Earl of Leicester, Hold him a villain?—thus much, I pr'ythee, say Unto the Count—it is exceeding just He should have cause for quarrel.
Bal. My lord!—my friend!—
Pol. (aside). 'Tis he—he comes himself! (aloud.) Thou reasonest well. I know what thou wouldst say—not send the message— Well!—I will think of it—I will not send it. Now pr'ythee, leave me—hither doth come a person With whom affairs of a most private nature I would adjust.
Bal. I go—to-morrow we meet, Do we not?—at the Vatican.
Pol. At the Vatican.
Cas. The Earl of Leicester here!
Pol. I am the Earl of Leicester, and thou seest, Dost thou not, that I am here?
Cas. My lord, some strange, Some singular mistake—misunderstanding— Hath without doubt arisen: thou hast been urged Thereby, in heat of anger, to address Some words most unaccountable, in writing, To me, Castiglione; the bearer being Baldazzar, Duke of Surrey. I am aware Of nothing which might warrant thee in this thing, Having given thee no offence. Ha!—am I right? 'Twas a mistake?—undoubtedly—we all Do err at times.
Pol. Draw, villain, and prate no more!
Cas. Ha!—draw?—and villain? have at thee then at once, Proud Earl! (Draws.)
Pol. (drawing.) Thus to the expiatory tomb, Untimely sepulchre, I do devote thee In the name of Lalage!
Cas. (letting fall his sword and recoiling to the extremity of the stage.) Of Lalage! Hold off—thy sacred hand!—avaunt, I say! Avaunt—I will not fight thee—indeed I dare not.
Pol. Thou wilt not fight with me didst say, Sir Count? Shall I be baffled thus?—now this is well; Didst say thou darest not? Ha!
Cas. I dare not—dare not— Hold off thy hand—with that beloved name So fresh upon thy lips I will not fight thee— I cannot—dare not.
Pol. Now, by my halidom, I do believe thee!—coward, I do believe thee!
Cas. Ha!—coward!—this may not be! (clutches his sword and staggers towards Politian, but his purpose is changed before reaching him, and he falls upon hia knee at the feet of the Earl.) Alas! my lord, It is—it is—most true. In such a cause I am the veriest coward. Oh, pity me!
Pol. (greatly softened). Alas!—I do—indeed I pity thee.
Cas. And Lalage—
Pol. Scoundrel!—arise and die!
Cas. It needeth not be—thus—thus—Oh, let me die Thus on my bended knee. It were most fitting That in this deep humiliation I perish. For in the fight I will not raise a hand Against thee, Earl of Leicester. Strike thou home— (baring his bosom.) Here is no let or hindrance to thy weapon— Strike home. I will not fight thee.
Pol. Now's Death and Hell! Am I not—am I not sorely—grievously tempted To take thee at thy word? But mark me, sir: Think not to fly me thus. Do thou prepare For public insult in the streets—before The eyes of the citizens. I'll follow thee— Like an avenging spirit I'll follow thee Even unto death. Before those whom thou lovest— Before all Rome I'll taunt thee, villain,—I'll taunt thee, Dost hear? with cowardice—thou wilt not fight me? Thou liest! thou shalt!
Cas. Now this indeed is just! Most righteous, and most just, avenging Heaven!
[Footnote 1: By Sir Thomas Wyatt.—Ed.]
* * * * *
NOTE ON POLITIAN
20. Such portions of "Politian" as are known to the public first saw the light of publicity in the 'Southern Literary Messenger' for December 1835 and January 1836, being styled "Scenes from Politian; an unpublished drama." These scenes were included, unaltered, in the 1845 collection of Poems by Poe. The larger portion of the original draft subsequently became the property of the present editor, but it is not considered just to the poet's memory to publish it. The work is a hasty and unrevised production of its author's earlier days of literary labor; and, beyond the scenes already known, scarcely calculated to enhance his reputation. As a specimen, however, of the parts unpublished, the following fragment from the first scene of Act II. may be offered. The Duke, it should be premised, is uncle to Alessandra, and father of Castiglione her betrothed.
Duke. Why do you laugh?
Castiglione. Indeed. I hardly know myself. Stay! Was it not On yesterday we were speaking of the Earl? Of the Earl Politian? Yes! it was yesterday. Alessandra, you and I, you must remember! We were walking in the garden.
Duke. Perfectly. I do remember it—what of it—what then?
Cas. O nothing—nothing at all.
Duke. Nothing at all! It is most singular that you should laugh At nothing at all!
Cas. Most singular—singular!
Duke. Look yon, Castiglione, be so kind As tell me, sir, at once what 'tis you mean. What are you talking of?
Cas. Was it not so? We differed in opinion touching him.
Cas. Why, sir, the Earl Politian.
Duke. The Earl of Leicester! Yes!—is it he you mean? We differed, indeed. If I now recollect The words you used were that the Earl you knew Was neither learned nor mirthful.
Cas. Ha! ha!—now did I?
Duke. That did you, sir, and well I knew at the time You were wrong, it being not the character Of the Earl—whom all the world allows to be A most hilarious man. Be not, my son, Too positive again.
Cas. 'Tis singular! Most singular! I could not think it possible So little time could so much alter one! To say the truth about an hour ago, As I was walking with the Count San Ozzo, All arm in arm, we met this very man The Earl—he, with his friend Baldazzar, Having just arrived in Rome. Ha! ha! he is altered! Such an account he gave me of his journey! 'Twould have made you die with laughter—such tales he told Of his caprices and his merry freaks Along the road—such oddity—such humor— Such wit—such whim—such flashes of wild merriment Set off too in such full relief by the grave Demeanor of his friend—who, to speak the truth Was gravity itself—
Duke. Did I not tell you?
Cas. You did—and yet 'tis strange! but true, as strange, How much I was mistaken! I always thought The Earl a gloomy man.
Duke. So, so, you see! Be not too positive. Whom have we here? It cannot be the Earl?
Cas. The Earl! Oh no! Tis not the Earl—but yet it is—and leaning Upon his friend Baldazzar. Ah! welcome, sir! (Enter Politian and Baldazzar.) My lord, a second welcome let me give you To Rome—his Grace the Duke of Broglio. Father! this is the Earl Politian, Earl Of Leicester in Great Britain. [Politian bows haughtily.] That, his friend Baldazzar, Duke of Surrey. The Earl has letters, So please you, for Your Grace.
Duke. Ha! ha! Most welcome To Rome and to our palace, Earl Politian! And you, most noble Duke! I am glad to see you! I knew your father well, my Lord Politian. Castiglione! call your cousin hither, And let me make the noble Earl acquainted With your betrothed. You come, sir, at a time Most seasonable. The wedding—
Politian. Touching those letters, sir, Your son made mention of—your son, is he not?— Touching those letters, sir, I wot not of them. If such there be, my friend Baldazzar here— Baldazzar! ah!—my friend Baldazzar here Will hand them to Your Grace. I would retire.
Duke. Retire!—so soon?
Cas. What ho! Benito! Rupert! His lordship's chambers—show his lordship to them! His lordship is unwell.
Ben. This way, my lord!
(Exit, followed by Politian.)
Duke. Retire! Unwell!
Bal. So please you, sir. I fear me 'Tis as you say—his lordship is unwell. The damp air of the evening—the fatigue Of a long journey—the—indeed I had better Follow his lordship. He must be unwell. I will return anon.
Duke. Return anon! Now this is very strange! Castiglione! This way, my son, I wish to speak with thee. You surely were mistaken in what you said Of the Earl, mirthful, indeed!—which of us said Politian was a melancholy man?
* * * * *
POEMS OF YOUTH
* * * * *
INTRODUCTION TO POEMS.—1831.
LETTER TO MR. B—.
"WEST POINT, 1831
Believing only a portion of my former volume to be worthy a second edition—that small portion I thought it as well to include in the present book as to republish by itself. I have therefore herein combined 'Al Aaraaf' and 'Tamerlane' with other poems hitherto unprinted. Nor have I hesitated to insert from the 'Minor Poems,' now omitted, whole lines, and even passages, to the end that being placed in a fairer light, and the trash shaken from them in which they were imbedded, they may have some chance of being seen by posterity.
"It has been said that a good critique on a poem may be written by one who is no poet himself. This, according to your idea and mine of poetry, I feel to be false—the less poetical the critic, the less just the critique, and the converse. On this account, and because there are but few B——s in the world, I would be as much ashamed of the world's good opinion as proud of your own. Another than yourself might here observe, 'Shakespeare is in possession of the world's good opinion, and yet Shakespeare is the greatest of poets. It appears then that the world judge correctly, why should you be ashamed of their favorable judgment?' The difficulty lies in the interpretation of the word 'judgment' or 'opinion.' The opinion is the world's, truly, but it may be called theirs as a man would call a book his, having bought it; he did not write the book, but it is his; they did not originate the opinion, but it is theirs. A fool, for example, thinks Shakespeare a great poet—yet the fool has never read Shakespeare. But the fool's neighbor, who is a step higher on the Andes of the mind, whose head (that is to say, his more exalted thought) is too far above the fool to be seen or understood, but whose feet (by which I mean his every-day actions) are sufficiently near to be discerned, and by means of which that superiority is ascertained, which but for them would never have been discovered—this neighbor asserts that Shakespeare is a great poet—the fool believes him, and it is henceforward his opinion. This neighbor's own opinion has, in like manner, been adopted from one above him, and so, ascendingly, to a few gifted individuals who kneel around the summit, beholding, face to face, the master spirit who stands upon the pinnacle.
"You are aware of the great barrier in the path of an American writer. He is read, if at all, in preference to the combined and established wit of the world. I say established; for it is with literature as with law or empire—an established name is an estate in tenure, or a throne in possession. Besides, one might suppose that books, like their authors, improve by travel—their having crossed the sea is, with us, so great a distinction. Our antiquaries abandon time for distance; our very fops glance from the binding to the bottom of the title-page, where the mystic characters which spell London, Paris, or Genoa, are precisely so many letters of recommendation.
"I mentioned just now a vulgar error as regards criticism. I think the notion that no poet can form a correct estimate of his own writings is another. I remarked before that in proportion to the poetical talent would be the justice of a critique upon poetry. Therefore a bad poet would, I grant, make a false critique, and his self-love would infallibly bias his little judgment in his favor; but a poet, who is indeed a poet, could not, I think, fail of making a just critique; whatever should be deducted on the score of self-love might be replaced on account of his intimate acquaintance with the subject; in short, we have more instances of false criticism than of just where one's own writings are the test, simply because we have more bad poets than good. There are, of course, many objections to what I say: Milton is a great example of the contrary; but his opinion with respect to the 'Paradise Regained' is by no means fairly ascertained. By what trivial circumstances men are often led to assert what they do not really believe! Perhaps an inadvertent word has descended to posterity. But, in fact, the 'Paradise Regained' is little, if at all, inferior to the 'Paradise Lost,' and is only supposed so to be because men do not like epics, whatever they may say to the contrary, and reading those of Milton in their natural order, are too much wearied with the first to derive any pleasure from the second.
"I dare say Milton preferred 'Comus' to either—if so—justly.
"As I am speaking of poetry, it will not be amiss to touch slightly upon the most singular heresy in its modern history—the heresy of what is called, very foolishly, the Lake School. Some years ago I might have been induced, by an occasion like the present, to attempt a formal refutation of their doctrine; at present it would be a work of supererogation. The wise must bow to the wisdom of such men as Coleridge and Southey, but being wise, have laughed at poetical theories so prosaically exemplified.
"Aristotle, with singular assurance, has declared poetry the most philosophical of all writings—but it required a Wordsworth to pronounce it the most metaphysical. He seems to think that the end of poetry is, or should be, instruction; yet it is a truism that the end of our existence is happiness; if so, the end of every separate part of our existence, everything connected with our existence, should be still happiness. Therefore the end of instruction should be happiness; and happiness is another name for pleasure;—therefore the end of instruction should be pleasure: yet we see the above-mentioned opinion implies precisely the reverse.
"To proceed: ceteris paribus, he who pleases is of more importance to his fellow-men than he who instructs, since utility is happiness, and pleasure is the end already obtained which instruction is merely the means of obtaining.
"I see no reason, then, why our metaphysical poets should plume themselves so much on the utility of their works, unless indeed they refer to instruction with eternity in view; in which case, sincere respect for their piety would not allow me to express my contempt for their judgment; contempt which it would be difficult to conceal, since their writings are professedly to be understood by the few, and it is the many who stand in need of salvation. In such case I should no doubt be tempted to think of the devil in 'Melmoth,' who labors indefatigably, through three octavo volumes, to accomplish the destruction of one or two souls, while any common devil would have demolished one or two thousand.
"Against the subtleties which would make poetry a study—not a passion—it becomes the metaphysician to reason—but the poet to protest. Yet Wordsworth and Coleridge are men in years; the one imbued in contemplation from his childhood; the other a giant in intellect and learning. The diffidence, then, with which I venture to dispute their authority would be overwhelming did I not feel, from the bottom of my heart, that learning has little to do with the imagination—intellect with the passions—or age with poetry.
"'Trifles, like straws, upon the surface flow; He who would search for pearls must dive below,'
"are lines which have done much mischief. As regards the greater truths, men oftener err by seeking them at the bottom than at the top; Truth lies in the huge abysses where wisdom is sought—not in the palpable palaces where she is found. The ancients were not always right in hiding the goddess in a well; witness the light which Bacon has thrown upon philosophy; witness the principles of our divine faith—that moral mechanism by which the simplicity of a child may overbalance the wisdom of a man.
"We see an instance of Coleridge's liability to err, in his 'Biographia Literaria'—professedly his literary life and opinions, but, in fact, a treatise 'de omni scibili et quibusdam aliis'. He goes wrong by reason of his very profundity, and of his error we have a natural type in the contemplation of a star. He who regards it directly and intensely sees, it is true, the star, but it is the star without a ray—while he who surveys it less inquisitively is conscious of all for which the star is useful to us below—its brilliancy and its beauty.
"As to Wordsworth, I have no faith in him. That he had in youth the feelings of a poet I believe—for there are glimpses of extreme delicacy in his writings—(and delicacy is the poet's own kingdom—his 'El Dorado')—but they have the appearance of a better day recollected; and glimpses, at best, are little evidence of present poetic fire; we know that a few straggling flowers spring up daily in the crevices of the glacier.
"He was to blame in wearing away his youth in contemplation with the end of poetizing in his manhood. With the increase of his judgment the light which should make it apparent has faded away. His judgment consequently is too correct. This may not be understood,—but the old Goths of Germany would have understood it, who used to debate matters of importance to their State twice, once when drunk, and once when sober—sober that they might not be deficient in formality—drunk lest they should be destitute of vigor.
"The long wordy discussions by which he tries to reason us into admiration of his poetry, speak very little in his favor: they are full of such assertions as this (I have opened one of his volumes at random)—'Of genius the only proof is the act of doing well what is worthy to be done, and what was never done before;'—indeed? then it follows that in doing what is 'un'worthy to be done, or what 'has' been done before, no genius can be evinced; yet the picking of pockets is an unworthy act, pockets have been picked time immemorial, and Barrington, the pick-pocket, in point of genius, would have thought hard of a comparison with William Wordsworth, the poet.
"Again, in estimating the merit of certain poems, whether they be Ossian's or Macpherson's can surely be of little consequence, yet, in order to prove their worthlessness, Mr. W. has expended many pages in the controversy. 'Tantaene animis?' Can great minds descend to such absurdity? But worse still: that he may bear down every argument in favor of these poems, he triumphantly drags forward a passage, in his abomination with which he expects the reader to sympathise. It is the beginning of the epic poem 'Temora.' 'The blue waves of Ullin roll in light; the green hills are covered with day; trees shake their dusty heads in the breeze.' And this—this gorgeous, yet simple imagery, where all is alive and panting with immortality—this, William Wordsworth, the author of 'Peter Bell,' has 'selected' for his contempt. We shall see what better he, in his own person, has to offer. Imprimis:
"'And now she's at the pony's tail, And now she's at the pony's head, On that side now, and now on this; And, almost stifled with her bliss, A few sad tears does Betty shed.... She pats the pony, where or when She knows not ... happy Betty Foy! Oh, Johnny, never mind the doctor!'
"'The dew was falling fast, the—stars began to blink; I heard a voice: it said,—"Drink, pretty creature, drink!" And, looking o'er the hedge, before me I espied A snow-white mountain lamb, with a maiden at its side. No other sheep was near, the lamb was all alone, And by a slender cord was tether'd to a stone.'
"Now, we have no doubt this is all true: we will believe it, indeed we will, Mr, W. Is it sympathy for the sheep you wish to excite? I love a sheep from the bottom of my heart.
"But there are occasions, dear B——, there are occasions when even Wordsworth is reasonable. Even Stamboul, it is said, shall have an end, and the most unlucky blunders must come to a conclusion. Here is an extract from his preface:
"'Those who have been accustomed to the phraseology of modern writers, if they persist in reading this book to a conclusion (impossible!) will, no doubt, have to struggle with feelings of awkwardness; (ha! ha! ha!) they will look round for poetry (ha! ha! ha! ha!), and will be induced to inquire by what species of courtesy these attempts have been permitted to assume that title.' Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!
"Yet, let not Mr. W. despair; he has given immortality to a wagon, and the bee Sophocles has transmitted to eternity a sore toe, and dignified a tragedy with a chorus of turkeys.
"Of Coleridge, I cannot speak but with reverence. His towering intellect! his gigantic power! To use an author quoted by himself,
'J'ai trouve souvent que la plupart des sectes ont raison dans une bonne partie de ce qu'elles avancent, mais non pas en ce qu'elles nient;'
and to employ his own language, he has imprisoned his own conceptions by the barrier he has erected against those of others. It is lamentable to think that such a mind should be buried in metaphysics, and, like the Nyctanthes, waste its perfume upon the night alone. In reading that man's poetry, I tremble like one who stands upon a volcano, conscious from the very darkness bursting from the crater, of the fire and the light that are weltering below.
"What is Poetry?—Poetry! that Proteus-like idea, with as many appellations as the nine-titled Corcyra! 'Give me,' I demanded of a scholar some time ago, 'give me a definition of poetry.' 'Tres-volontiers;' and he proceeded to his library, brought me a Dr. Johnson, and overwhelmed me with a definition. Shade of the immortal Shakespeare! I imagine to myself the scowl of your spiritual eye upon the profanity of that scurrilous Ursa Major. Think of poetry, dear B——, think of poetry, and then think of Dr. Samuel Johnson! Think of all that is airy and fairy-like, and then of all that is hideous and unwieldy; think of his huge bulk, the Elephant! and then—and then think of the 'Tempest'—the 'Midsummer Night's Dream'—Prospero—Oberon—and Titania!
"A poem, in my opinion, is opposed to a work of science by having, for its immediate object, pleasure, not truth; to romance, by having, for its object, an indefinite instead of a definite pleasure, being a poem only so far as this object is attained; romance presenting perceptible images with definite, poetry with indefinite sensations, to which end music is an essential, since the comprehension of sweet sound is our most indefinite conception. Music, when combined with a pleasurable idea, is poetry; music, without the idea, is simply music; the idea, without the music, is prose, from its very definitiveness.
"What was meant by the invective against him who had no music in his soul?
"To sum up this long rigmarole, I have, dear B——, what you, no doubt, perceive, for the metaphysical poets as poets, the most sovereign contempt. That they have followers proves nothing:
"'No Indian prince has to his palace More followers than a thief to the gallows.'"
* * * * *
SCIENCE! true daughter of Old Time thou art! Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes. Why preyest thou thus upon the poet's heart, Vulture, whose wings are dull realities How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise, Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies, Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing! Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car? And driven the Hamadryad from the wood To seek a shelter in some happier star? Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood, The Elfin from the green grass, and from me The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?
* * * * *
Private reasons—some of which have reference to the sin of plagiarism, and others to the date of Tennyson's first poems —have induced me, after some hesitation, to republish these, the crude compositions of my earliest boyhood. They are printed 'verbatim'—without alteration from the original edition—the date of which is too remote to be judiciously acknowledged.—E. A. P. (1845).
[Footnote 1: This refers to the accusation brought against Edgar Poe that he was a copyist of Tennyson.—Ed.]
* * * * *
AL AARAAF. 
O! nothing earthly save the ray (Thrown back from flowers) of Beauty's eye, As in those gardens where the day Springs from the gems of Circassy— O! nothing earthly save the thrill Of melody in woodland rill— Or (music of the passion-hearted) Joy's voice so peacefully departed That like the murmur in the shell, Its echo dwelleth and will dwell— O! nothing of the dross of ours— Yet all the beauty—all the flowers That list our Love, and deck our bowers— Adorn yon world afar, afar— The wandering star.
'Twas a sweet time for Nesace—for there Her world lay lolling on the golden air, Near four bright suns—a temporary rest— An oasis in desert of the blest. Away away—'mid seas of rays that roll Empyrean splendor o'er th' unchained soul— The soul that scarce (the billows are so dense) Can struggle to its destin'd eminence— To distant spheres, from time to time, she rode, And late to ours, the favour'd one of God— But, now, the ruler of an anchor'd realm, She throws aside the sceptre—leaves the helm, And, amid incense and high spiritual hymns, Laves in quadruple light her angel limbs.
Now happiest, loveliest in yon lovely Earth, Whence sprang the "Idea of Beauty" into birth, (Falling in wreaths thro' many a startled star, Like woman's hair 'mid pearls, until, afar, It lit on hills Achaian, and there dwelt), She look'd into Infinity—and knelt. Rich clouds, for canopies, about her curled— Fit emblems of the model of her world— Seen but in beauty—not impeding sight— Of other beauty glittering thro' the light— A wreath that twined each starry form around, And all the opal'd air in color bound.
All hurriedly she knelt upon a bed Of flowers: of lilies such as rear'd the head On the fair Capo Deucato , and sprang So eagerly around about to hang Upon the flying footsteps of—deep pride— Of her who lov'd a mortal—and so died . The Sephalica, budding with young bees, Uprear'd its purple stem around her knees: And gemmy flower, of Trebizond misnam'd — Inmate of highest stars, where erst it sham'd All other loveliness: its honied dew (The fabled nectar that the heathen knew) Deliriously sweet, was dropp'd from Heaven, And fell on gardens of the unforgiven In Trebizond—and on a sunny flower So like its own above that, to this hour, It still remaineth, torturing the bee With madness, and unwonted reverie: In Heaven, and all its environs, the leaf And blossom of the fairy plant, in grief Disconsolate linger—grief that hangs her head, Repenting follies that full long have fled, Heaving her white breast to the balmy air, Like guilty beauty, chasten'd, and more fair: Nyctanthes too, as sacred as the light She fears to perfume, perfuming the night: And Clytia  pondering between many a sun, While pettish tears adown her petals run: And that aspiring flower that sprang on Earth — And died, ere scarce exalted into birth, Bursting its odorous heart in spirit to wing Its way to Heaven, from garden of a king: And Valisnerian lotus thither flown  From struggling with the waters of the Rhone: And thy most lovely purple perfume, Zante ! Isola d'oro!—Fior di Levante! And the Nelumbo bud that floats for ever  With Indian Cupid down the holy river— Fair flowers, and fairy! to whose care is given To bear the Goddess' song, in odors, up to Heaven :
"Spirit! that dwellest where, In the deep sky, The terrible and fair, In beauty vie! Beyond the line of blue— The boundary of the star Which turneth at the view Of thy barrier and thy bar— Of the barrier overgone By the comets who were cast From their pride, and from their throne To be drudges till the last— To be carriers of fire (The red fire of their heart) With speed that may not tire And with pain that shall not part— Who livest—that we know— In Eternity—we feel— But the shadow of whose brow What spirit shall reveal? Tho' the beings whom thy Nesace, Thy messenger hath known Have dream'd for thy Infinity A model of their own — Thy will is done, O God! The star hath ridden high Thro' many a tempest, but she rode Beneath thy burning eye; And here, in thought, to thee— In thought that can alone Ascend thy empire and so be A partner of thy throne— By winged Fantasy , My embassy is given, Till secrecy shall knowledge be In the environs of Heaven."
She ceas'd—and buried then her burning cheek Abash'd, amid the lilies there, to seek A shelter from the fervor of His eye; For the stars trembled at the Deity. She stirr'd not—breath'd not—for a voice was there How solemnly pervading the calm air! A sound of silence on the startled ear Which dreamy poets name "the music of the sphere." Ours is a world of words: Quiet we call "Silence"—which is the merest word of all.
All Nature speaks, and ev'n ideal things Flap shadowy sounds from the visionary wings— But ah! not so when, thus, in realms on high The eternal voice of God is passing by, And the red winds are withering in the sky! "What tho' in worlds which sightless cycles run , Link'd to a little system, and one sun— Where all my love is folly, and the crowd Still think my terrors but the thunder cloud, The storm, the earthquake, and the ocean-wrath (Ah! will they cross me in my angrier path?) What tho' in worlds which own a single sun The sands of time grow dimmer as they run, Yet thine is my resplendency, so given To bear my secrets thro' the upper Heaven. Leave tenantless thy crystal home, and fly, With all thy train, athwart the moony sky— Apart—like fire-flies in Sicilian night , And wing to other worlds another light! Divulge the secrets of thy embassy To the proud orbs that twinkle—and so be To ev'ry heart a barrier and a ban Lest the stars totter in the guilt of man!"
Up rose the maiden in the yellow night, The single-mooned eve!-on earth we plight Our faith to one love—and one moon adore— The birth-place of young Beauty had no more. As sprang that yellow star from downy hours, Up rose the maiden from her shrine of flowers, And bent o'er sheeny mountain and dim plain Her way—but left not yet her Therasaean reign .
High on a mountain of enamell'd head— Such as the drowsy shepherd on his bed Of giant pasturage lying at his ease, Raising his heavy eyelid, starts and sees With many a mutter'd "hope to be forgiven" What time the moon is quadrated in Heaven— Of rosy head, that towering far away Into the sunlit ether, caught the ray Of sunken suns at eve—at noon of night, While the moon danc'd with the fair stranger light— Uprear'd upon such height arose a pile Of gorgeous columns on th' uuburthen'd air, Flashing from Parian marble that twin smile Far down upon the wave that sparkled there, And nursled the young mountain in its lair. Of molten stars their pavement, such as fall  Thro' the ebon air, besilvering the pall Of their own dissolution, while they die— Adorning then the dwellings of the sky. A dome, by linked light from Heaven let down, Sat gently on these columns as a crown— A window of one circular diamond, there, Look'd out above into the purple air And rays from God shot down that meteor chain And hallow'd all the beauty twice again, Save when, between th' Empyrean and that ring, Some eager spirit flapp'd his dusky wing. But on the pillars Seraph eyes have seen The dimness of this world: that grayish green That Nature loves the best for Beauty's grave Lurk'd in each cornice, round each architrave— And every sculptured cherub thereabout That from his marble dwelling peered out, Seem'd earthly in the shadow of his niche— Achaian statues in a world so rich? Friezes from Tadmor and Persepolis — From Balbec, and the stilly, clear abyss Of beautiful Gomorrah! Oh, the wave  Is now upon thee—but too late to save! Sound loves to revel in a summer night: Witness the murmur of the gray twilight That stole upon the ear, in Eyraco , Of many a wild star-gazer long ago— That stealeth ever on the ear of him Who, musing, gazeth on the distance dim, And sees the darkness coming as a cloud— Is not its form—its voice—most palpable and loud?  But what is this?—it cometh—and it brings A music with it—'tis the rush of wings— A pause—and then a sweeping, falling strain, And Nesace is in her halls again. From the wild energy of wanton haste Her cheeks were flushing, and her lips apart; The zone that clung around her gentle waist Had burst beneath the heaving of her heart. Within the centre of that hall to breathe She paus'd and panted, Zanthe! all beneath, The fairy light that kiss'd her golden hair And long'd to rest, yet could but sparkle there!
Young flowers were whispering in melody  To happy flowers that night—and tree to tree; Fountains were gushing music as they fell In many a star-lit grove, or moon-light dell; Yet silence came upon material things— Fair flowers, bright waterfalls and angel wings— And sound alone that from the spirit sprang Bore burthen to the charm the maiden sang:
"Neath blue-bell or streamer— Or tufted wild spray That keeps, from the dreamer, The moonbeam away— Bright beings! that ponder, With half-closing eyes, On the stars which your wonder Hath drawn from the skies, Till they glance thro' the shade, and Come down to your brow Like—eyes of the maiden Who calls on you now— Arise! from your dreaming In violet bowers, To duty beseeming These star-litten hours— And shake from your tresses Encumber'd with dew
The breath of those kisses That cumber them too— (O! how, without you, Love! Could angels be blest?) Those kisses of true love That lull'd ye to rest! Up! shake from your wing Each hindering thing: The dew of the night— It would weigh down your flight; And true love caresses— O! leave them apart! They are light on the tresses, But lead on the heart.
Ligeia! Ligeia! My beautiful one! Whose harshest idea Will to melody run, O! is it thy will On the breezes to toss? Or, capriciously still, Like the lone Albatross,  Incumbent on night (As she on the air) To keep watch with delight On the harmony there?
Ligeia! wherever Thy image may be, No magic shall sever Thy music from thee. Thou hast bound many eyes In a dreamy sleep— But the strains still arise Which thy vigilance keep—
The sound of the rain Which leaps down to the flower, And dances again In the rhythm of the shower— The murmur that springs  From the growing of grass Are the music of things— But are modell'd, alas! Away, then, my dearest, O! hie thee away To springs that lie clearest Beneath the moon-ray— To lone lake that smiles, In its dream of deep rest, At the many star-isles That enjewel its breast— Where wild flowers, creeping, Have mingled their shade, On its margin is sleeping Full many a maid— Some have left the cool glade, and Have slept with the bee— Arouse them, my maiden, On moorland and lea—
Go! breathe on their slumber, All softly in ear, The musical number They slumber'd to hear— For what can awaken An angel so soon Whose sleep hath been taken Beneath the cold moon, As the spell which no slumber Of witchery may test, The rhythmical number Which lull'd him to rest?"
Spirits in wing, and angels to the view, A thousand seraphs burst th' Empyrean thro', Young dreams still hovering on their drowsy flight— Seraphs in all but "Knowledge," the keen light That fell, refracted, thro' thy bounds afar, O death! from eye of God upon that star; Sweet was that error—sweeter still that death— Sweet was that error—ev'n with us the breath Of Science dims the mirror of our joy— To them 'twere the Simoom, and would destroy— For what (to them) availeth it to know That Truth is Falsehood—or that Bliss is Woe? Sweet was their death—with them to die was rife With the last ecstasy of satiate life— Beyond that death no immortality— But sleep that pondereth and is not "to be"— And there—oh! may my weary spirit dwell— Apart from Heaven's Eternity—and yet how far from Hell! 
What guilty spirit, in what shrubbery dim Heard not the stirring summons of that hymn? But two: they fell: for heaven no grace imparts To those who hear not for their beating hearts. A maiden-angel and her seraph-lover— O! where (and ye may seek the wide skies over) Was Love, the blind, near sober Duty known? Unguided Love hath fallen—'mid "tears of perfect moan." 
He was a goodly spirit—he who fell: A wanderer by mossy-mantled well— A gazer on the lights that shine above— A dreamer in the moonbeam by his love: What wonder? for each star is eye-like there, And looks so sweetly down on Beauty's hair— And they, and ev'ry mossy spring were holy To his love-haunted heart and melancholy. The night had found (to him a night of wo) Upon a mountain crag, young Angelo— Beetling it bends athwart the solemn sky, And scowls on starry worlds that down beneath it lie. Here sate he with his love—his dark eye bent With eagle gaze along the firmament: Now turn'd it upon her—but ever then It trembled to the orb of EARTH again.
"Ianthe, dearest, see! how dim that ray! How lovely 'tis to look so far away! She seemed not thus upon that autumn eve I left her gorgeous halls—nor mourned to leave, That eve—that eve—I should remember well— The sun-ray dropped, in Lemnos with a spell On th' Arabesque carving of a gilded hall Wherein I sate, and on the draperied wall— And on my eyelids—O, the heavy light! How drowsily it weighed them into night! On flowers, before, and mist, and love they ran With Persian Saadi in his Gulistan: But O, that light!—I slumbered—Death, the while, Stole o'er my senses in that lovely isle So softly that no single silken hair Awoke that slept—or knew that he was there.
"The last spot of Earth's orb I trod upon Was a proud temple called the Parthenon;  More beauty clung around her columned wall Then even thy glowing bosom beats withal,  And when old Time my wing did disenthral Thence sprang I—as the eagle from his tower, And years I left behind me in an hour. What time upon her airy bounds I hung, One half the garden of her globe was flung Unrolling as a chart unto my view— Tenantless cities of the desert too! Ianthe, beauty crowded on me then, And half I wished to be again of men."
"My Angelo! and why of them to be? A brighter dwelling-place is here for thee— And greener fields than in yon world above, And woman's loveliness—and passionate love." "But list, Ianthe! when the air so soft Failed, as my pennoned spirit leapt aloft,  Perhaps my brain grew dizzy—but the world I left so late was into chaos hurled, Sprang from her station, on the winds apart, And rolled a flame, the fiery Heaven athwart. Methought, my sweet one, then I ceased to soar, And fell—not swiftly as I rose before, But with a downward, tremulous motion thro' Light, brazen rays, this golden star unto! Nor long the measure of my falling hours, For nearest of all stars was thine to ours— Dread star! that came, amid a night of mirth, A red Daedalion on the timid Earth."
"We came—and to thy Earth—but not to us Be given our lady's bidding to discuss: We came, my love; around, above, below, Gay fire-fly of the night we come and go, Nor ask a reason save the angel-nod She grants to us as granted by her God— But, Angelo, than thine gray Time unfurled Never his fairy wing o'er fairer world! Dim was its little disk, and angel eyes Alone could see the phantom in the skies, When first Al Aaraaf knew her course to be Headlong thitherward o'er the starry sea— But when its glory swelled upon the sky, As glowing Beauty's bust beneath man's eye, We paused before the heritage of men, And thy star trembled—as doth Beauty then!"
Thus in discourse, the lovers whiled away The night that waned and waned and brought no day. They fell: for Heaven to them no hope imparts Who hear not for the beating of their hearts.
[Footnote 1: A star was discovered by Tycho Brahe which appeared suddenly in the heavens—attained, in a few days, a brilliancy surpassing that of Jupiter—then as suddenly disappeared, and has never been seen since.]
[Footnote 2: On Santa Maura—olim Deucadia.]
[Footnote 3: Sappho.]
[Footnote 4: This flower is much noticed by Lewenhoeck and Tournefort. The bee, feeding upon its blossom, becomes intoxicated.]
[Footnote: Clytia—the Chrysanthemum Peruvianum, or, to employ a better-known term, the turnsol—which turns continually towards the sun, covers itself, like Peru, the country from which it comes, with dewy clouds which cool and refresh its flowers during the most violent heat of the day.—'B. de St. Pierre.']
[Footnote 6: There is cultivated in the king's garden at Paris, a species of serpentine aloe without prickles, whose large and beautiful flower exhales a strong odor of the vanilla, during the time of its expansion, which is very short. It does not blow till towards the month of July—you then perceive it gradually open its petals—expand them—fade and die.—'St. Pierre'.]
[Footnote 7: There is found, in the Rhone, a beautiful lily of the Valisnerian kind. Its stem will stretch to the length of three or four feet—thus preserving its head above water in the swellings of the river.]
[Footnote 8: The Hyacinth.]
[Footnote 9: It is a fiction of the Indians, that Cupid was first seen floating in one of these down the river Ganges, and that he still loves the cradle of his childhood.]
[Footnote 10: And golden vials full of odors which are the prayers of the saints.—'Rev. St. John.']
[Footnote 11: The Humanitarians held that God was to be understood as having really a human form.—'Vide Clarke's Sermons', vol. I, page 26, fol. edit.
The drift of Milton's argument leads him to employ language which would appear, at first sight, to verge upon their doctrine; but it will be seen immediately, that he guards himself against the charge of having adopted one of the most ignorant errors of the dark ages of the Church.—'Dr. Sumner's Notes on Milton's Christian Doctrine'.
This opinion, in spite of many testimonies to the contrary, could never have been very general. Andeus, a Syrian of Mesopotamia, was condemned for the opinion, as heretical. He lived in the beginning of the fourth century. His disciples were called Anthropomorphites.—'Vide du Pin'.
Among Milton's minor poems are these lines:
Dicite sacrorum praeesides nemorum Dese, etc., Quis ille primus cujus ex imagine Natura solers finxit humanum genus? Eternus, incorruptus, aequaevus polo, Unusque et universus exemplar Dei.
Non cui profundum Caecitas lumen dedit Dircaeus augur vidit hunc alto sinu, etc.]
Seltsamen Tochter Jovis Seinem Schosskinde Der Phantasie.
[Footnote 13: Sightless—too small to be seen.—'Legge'.]
[Footnote 14: I have often noticed a peculiar movement of the fire-flies; they will collect in a body and fly off, from a common centre, into innumerable radii.]
[Footnote 15: Therasaea, or Therasea, the island mentioned by Seneca, which, in a moment, arose from the sea to the eyes of astonished mariners.]
Some star which, from the ruin'd roof Of shak'd Olympus, by mischance did fall.
[Footnote 17: Voltaire, in speaking of Persepolis, says,
"Je connais bien l'admiration qu'inspirent ces ruines—mais un palais erige au pied d'une chaine de rochers steriles—peut-il etre un chef d'oeuvre des arts!"]
[Footnote 18: "Oh, the wave"—Ula Deguisi is the Turkish appellation; but, on its own shores, it is called Baliar Loth, or Al-motanah. There were undoubtedly more than two cities engulphed in the "dead sea." In the valley of Siddim were five—Adrah, Zeboin, Zoar, Sodom and Gomorrah. Stephen of Byzantium mentions eight, and Strabo thirteen (engulphed) —but the last is out of all reason. It is said (Tacitus, Strabo, Josephus, Daniel of St. Saba, Nau, Maundrell, Troilo, D'Arvieux), that after an excessive drought, the vestiges of columns, walls, etc., are seen above the surface. At 'any' season, such remains may be discovered by looking down into the transparent lake, and at such distance as would argue the existence of many settlements in the space now usurped by the "Asphaltites."]
[Footnote 19: Eyraco-Chaldea.]
[Footnote 20: I have often thought I could distinctly hear the sound of the darkness as it stole over the horizon.]
Fairies use flowers for their charactery.
'Merry Wives of Windsor'.]
[Footnote 22: In Scripture is this passage:
"The sun shall not harm thee by day, nor the moon by night."
It is, perhaps, not generally known that the moon, in Egypt, has the effect of producing blindness to those who sleep with the face exposed to its rays, to which circumstances the passage evidently alludes.]
[Footnote 23: The Albatross is said to sleep on the wing.]
[Footnote 24: I met with this idea in an old English tale, which I am now unable to obtain and quote from memory:
"The verie essence and, as it were, springe heade and origine of all musiche is the verie pleasaunte sounde which the trees of the forest do make when they growe."]
[Footnote 25: The wild bee will not sleep in the shade if there be moonlight. The rhyme in the verse, as in one about sixty lines before, has an appearance of affectation. It is, however, imitated from Sir W. Scott, or rather from Claud Halcro—in whose mouth I admired its effect:
O! were there an island, Tho' ever so wild, Where woman might smile, and No man be beguil'd, etc. ]
[Footnote 26: With the Arabians there is a medium between Heaven and Hell, where men suffer no punishment, but yet do not attain that tranquil and even happiness which they suppose to be characteristic of heavenly enjoyment.
Un no rompido sueno— Un dia puro—allegre—libre Quiera— Libre de amor—de zelo— De odio—de esperanza—de rezelo.
'Luis Ponce de Leon.'
Sorrow is not excluded from "Al Aaraaf," but it is that sorrow which the living love to cherish for the dead, and which, in some minds, resembles the delirium of opium.
The passionate excitement of Love and the buoyancy of spirit attendant upon intoxication are its less holy pleasures—the price of which, to those souls who make choice of "Al Aaraaf" as their residence after life, is final death and annihilation.]
There be tears of perfect moan Wept for thee in Helicon.
[Footnote 28: It was entire in 1687—the most elevated spot in Athens.]
Shadowing more beauty in their airy brows Than have the white breasts of the queen of love.
[Footnote 30: Pennon, for pinion.—'Milton'.]
* * * * *
Kind solace in a dying hour! Such, father, is not (now) my theme— I will not madly deem that power Of Earth may shrive me of the sin Unearthly pride hath revelled in— I have no time to dote or dream: You call it hope—that fire of fire! It is but agony of desire: If I can hope—O God! I can— Its fount is holier—more divine— I would not call thee fool, old man, But such is not a gift of thine.
Know thou the secret of a spirit Bowed from its wild pride into shame O yearning heart! I did inherit Thy withering portion with the fame, The searing glory which hath shone Amid the Jewels of my throne, Halo of Hell! and with a pain Not Hell shall make me fear again— O craving heart, for the lost flowers And sunshine of my summer hours! The undying voice of that dead time, With its interminable chime, Rings, in the spirit of a spell, Upon thy emptiness—a knell.
I have not always been as now: The fevered diadem on my brow I claimed and won usurpingly— Hath not the same fierce heirdom given Rome to the Caesar—this to me? The heritage of a kingly mind, And a proud spirit which hath striven Triumphantly with human kind. On mountain soil I first drew life: The mists of the Taglay have shed Nightly their dews upon my head, And, I believe, the winged strife And tumult of the headlong air Have nestled in my very hair.
So late from Heaven—that dew—it fell ('Mid dreams of an unholy night) Upon me with the touch of Hell, While the red flashing of the light From clouds that hung, like banners, o'er, Appeared to my half-closing eye The pageantry of monarchy; And the deep trumpet-thunder's roar Came hurriedly upon me, telling Of human battle, where my voice, My own voice, silly child!—was swelling (O! how my spirit would rejoice, And leap within me at the cry) The battle-cry of Victory!
The rain came down upon my head Unsheltered—and the heavy wind Rendered me mad and deaf and blind. It was but man, I thought, who shed Laurels upon me: and the rush— The torrent of the chilly air Gurgled within my ear the crush Of empires—with the captive's prayer— The hum of suitors—and the tone Of flattery 'round a sovereign's throne.
My passions, from that hapless hour, Usurped a tyranny which men Have deemed since I have reached to power, My innate nature—be it so: But, father, there lived one who, then, Then—in my boyhood—when their fire Burned with a still intenser glow (For passion must, with youth, expire) E'en then who knew this iron heart In woman's weakness had a part.
I have no words—alas!—to tell The loveliness of loving well! Nor would I now attempt to trace The more than beauty of a face Whose lineaments, upon my mind, Are—shadows on th' unstable wind: Thus I remember having dwelt Some page of early lore upon, With loitering eye, till I have felt The letters—with their meaning—melt To fantasies—with none.
O, she was worthy of all love! Love as in infancy was mine— 'Twas such as angel minds above Might envy; her young heart the shrine On which my every hope and thought Were incense—then a goodly gift, For they were childish and upright— Pure—as her young example taught: Why did I leave it, and, adrift, Trust to the fire within, for light?
We grew in age—and love—together— Roaming the forest, and the wild; My breast her shield in wintry weather— And, when the friendly sunshine smiled. And she would mark the opening skies, I saw no Heaven—but in her eyes. Young Love's first lesson is——the heart: For 'mid that sunshine, and those smiles, When, from our little cares apart, And laughing at her girlish wiles, I'd throw me on her throbbing breast, And pour my spirit out in tears— There was no need to speak the rest— No need to quiet any fears Of her—who asked no reason why, But turned on me her quiet eye!
Yet more than worthy of the love My spirit struggled with, and strove When, on the mountain peak, alone, Ambition lent it a new tone— I had no being—but in thee: The world, and all it did contain In the earth—the air—the sea— Its joy—its little lot of pain That was new pleasure—the ideal, Dim, vanities of dreams by night— And dimmer nothings which were real— (Shadows—and a more shadowy light!) Parted upon their misty wings, And, so, confusedly, became Thine image and—a name—a name! Two separate—yet most intimate things.
I was ambitious—have you known The passion, father? You have not: A cottager, I marked a throne Of half the world as all my own, And murmured at such lowly lot— But, just like any other dream, Upon the vapor of the dew My own had past, did not the beam Of beauty which did while it thro' The minute—the hour—the day—oppress My mind with double loveliness.
We walked together on the crown Of a high mountain which looked down Afar from its proud natural towers Of rock and forest, on the hills— The dwindled hills! begirt with bowers And shouting with a thousand rills.
I spoke to her of power and pride, But mystically—in such guise That she might deem it nought beside The moment's converse; in her eyes I read, perhaps too carelessly— A mingled feeling with my own— The flush on her bright cheek, to me Seemed to become a queenly throne Too well that I should let it be Light in the wilderness alone.
I wrapped myself in grandeur then, And donned a visionary crown— Yet it was not that Fantasy Had thrown her mantle over me— But that, among the rabble—men, Lion ambition is chained down— And crouches to a keeper's hand— Not so in deserts where the grand— The wild—the terrible conspire With their own breath to fan his fire.
Look 'round thee now on Samarcand!— Is she not queen of Earth? her pride Above all cities? in her hand Their destinies? in all beside Of glory which the world hath known Stands she not nobly and alone? Falling—her veriest stepping-stone Shall form the pedestal of a throne— And who her sovereign? Timour—he Whom the astonished people saw Striding o'er empires haughtily A diademed outlaw!
O, human love! thou spirit given, On Earth, of all we hope in Heaven! Which fall'st into the soul like rain Upon the Siroc-withered plain, And, failing in thy power to bless, But leav'st the heart a wilderness! Idea! which bindest life around With music of so strange a sound And beauty of so wild a birth— Farewell! for I have won the Earth.
When Hope, the eagle that towered, could see No cliff beyond him in the sky, His pinions were bent droopingly— And homeward turned his softened eye. 'Twas sunset: When the sun will part There comes a sullenness of heart To him who still would look upon The glory of the summer sun. That soul will hate the ev'ning mist So often lovely, and will list To the sound of the coming darkness (known To those whose spirits hearken) as one Who, in a dream of night, would fly, But cannot, from a danger nigh.
What tho' the moon—tho' the white moon Shed all the splendor of her noon, Her smile is chilly—and her beam, In that time of dreariness, will seem (So like you gather in your breath) A portrait taken after death. And boyhood is a summer sun Whose waning is the dreariest one— For all we live to know is known, And all we seek to keep hath flown— Let life, then, as the day-flower, fall With the noon-day beauty—which is all. I reached my home—my home no more— For all had flown who made it so. I passed from out its mossy door, And, tho' my tread was soft and low, A voice came from the threshold stone Of one whom I had earlier known— O, I defy thee, Hell, to show On beds of fire that burn below, An humbler heart—a deeper woe.
Father, I firmly do believe— I know—for Death who comes for me From regions of the blest afar, Where there is nothing to deceive, Hath left his iron gate ajar. And rays of truth you cannot see Are flashing thro' Eternity—— I do believe that Eblis hath A snare in every human path— Else how, when in the holy grove I wandered of the idol, Love,— Who daily scents his snowy wings With incense of burnt-offerings From the most unpolluted things, Whose pleasant bowers are yet so riven Above with trellised rays from Heaven No mote may shun—no tiniest fly— The light'ning of his eagle eye— How was it that Ambition crept, Unseen, amid the revels there, Till growing bold, he laughed and leapt In the tangles of Love's very hair!
* * * * *
Helen, thy beauty is to me Like those Nicean barks of yore, That gently, o'er a perfumed sea, The weary, wayworn wanderer bore To his own native shore.
On desperate seas long wont to roam, Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face, Thy Naiad airs have brought me home To the glory that was Greece, To the grandeur that was Rome.
Lo! in yon brilliant window niche, How statue-like I see thee stand, The agate lamp within thy hand! Ah, Psyche, from the regions which Are Holy Land!
* * * * *
THE VALLEY OF UNREST.
Once it smiled a silent dell Where the people did not dwell; They had gone unto the wars, Trusting to the mild-eyed stars, Nightly, from their azure towers, To keep watch above the flowers, In the midst of which all day The red sun-light lazily lay, Now each visitor shall confess The sad valley's restlessness. Nothing there is motionless— Nothing save the airs that brood Over the magic solitude. Ah, by no wind are stirred those trees That palpitate like the chill seas Around the misty Hebrides! Ah, by no wind those clouds are driven That rustle through the unquiet Heaven Unceasingly, from morn till even, Over the violets there that lie In myriad types of the human eye— Over the lilies that wave And weep above a nameless grave! They wave:—from out their fragrant tops Eternal dews come down in drops. They weep:—from off their delicate stems Perennial tears descend in gems.
* * * * *
In Heaven a spirit doth dwell "Whose heart-strings are a lute;" None sing so wildly well As the angel Israfel, And the giddy Stars (so legends tell), Ceasing their hymns, attend the spell Of his voice, all mute.
Tottering above In her highest noon, The enamoured Moon Blushes with love, While, to listen, the red levin (With the rapid Pleiads, even, Which were seven), Pauses in Heaven.
And they say (the starry choir And the other listening things) That Israfeli's fire Is owing to that lyre By which he sits and sings— The trembling living wire Of those unusual strings.
But the skies that angel trod, Where deep thoughts are a duty— Where Love's a grow-up God— Where the Houri glances are Imbued with all the beauty Which we worship in a star.