« PreviousContinue »
The Sibyl speaks, the dream is o'er,
Her touch unlocks the day-spring from above, The holy harpings charm no more.
And lo! it visits man with beams of light and love, In vain she checks the God's control;
His madding spirit fills her frame, And moulds the features of her soul,
VERSES Breathing a prophetic flame. The cavern frowns; its hundred mouths unclose! WRITTEN TO BE SPOKEN BY MRS. Siddons.' And in the thunder's voice, the fate of empire flows!
Yes, 't is the pulse of life! my fears were vain; III. 1.
I wake, I breathe, and am myself again. Mona, thy Druid-rites awake the dead!
Still in this nether world; no seraph yet! Rites thy brown oaks would never dare
Nor walks my spirit, when the sun is set, Even whisper to the idle air;
With troubled step to haunt the fatal board, Rites that have chain'd old Ocean on his bed.
Where I died last—by poison or the sword; Shiver'd by thy piercing glance
Blanching each honest cheek with deeds of night, Pointless falls the hero's lance.
Done here so oft by dim and doubttul light. Thy magic bids the imperial eagle fly,'
-To drop all metaphor, that little bell And blasts the laureate wreath of victory.
Callid back reality, and broke the spell. Hark, the bard's soul inspires the vocal string ! No heroine claims your tears with tragic tone; At every pause dread Silence hovers o'er:
A very woman-scarce restrains her own! While murky Night sails round on raven-wing, Can she, with fiction, charın the cheated mind, Deepening the tempest's howl, the torrent's roar; When to be grateful is the part assign'd? Chased by the Morn from Snowdon's awful brow,
Ah no! she scorns the trappings of her Art; Where late she sate and scowl'd on the black wave
No theme but truth, no prompter but the heart! below.
But, Ladies, say, must I alone unmask?
Is here no other actress ? let me ask.
Believe me, those, who best the heart dissect, The red-cross squadrons madly rage,?
Know every Woman studies stage-effect. And mow through infancy and age;
She moulds her manners to the part she fills, Then kiss the sacred dust and melt in lears.
As Instinct teaches, or as Humor wills; Veiling from the eye of day,
And, as the grave or gay her talent calls, Penance dreams her life away ;
Acts in the drama till the curtain falls. In cloister'd solitude she sits and sighs,
First, how her little breast with triumph swells, While from each shrine still, small responses rise.
When the red coral rings its golden bells ! Hear, with what heart-felt beat, the midnight-bell
To play in pantomime is then the rage, Swings its slow summons through the hollow pile!
Along the carpet's many-color'd stage; The weak, wan votarist leaves her twilight-cell,
Or lisp her merry thoughts with loud endeavor, To walk, with taper dim, the winding aisle; Now here, now there in noise and mischief ever! With choral chantings vainly to aspire,
A school-girl next, she curls her hair in papers, Beyond this nether sphere, on Rapture's wing of fire. And mimics father's gout, and mother's vapors ; III. 3.
Discards her doll, bribes Betty for romances ; Lord of each pang the nerves can feel,
Playful at church, and serious when she dances ; Hence with the rack and reeking wheel.
Tramples alike on customs and on toes, Faith lifts the soul above this little ball!
And whispers all she hears to all she knows; While gleams of glory open round,
Terror of caps, and wigs, and sober notions ! And circling choirs of angels call,
A romp! that longest of perpetual motions ! Canst thou, with all thy terrors crown'd,
-Till tamed and tortured into foreign graces, Hope to obscure that latent spark,
She sports her lovely face at public places; Destined to shine when suns are dark ?
And with blue, laughing eyes, behind her fan, Thy triumphs cense! through every land,
First acts her part with that great actor, Man. Hark! Truth proclaims, thy triumphs cease!
Too soon a flirt, approach her and she flies ! Her heavenly form, with glowing hand,
Frowns when pursued, and, when entreated, sighs! Benignly points to piety and peace.
Plays with unhappy men as cats with mice; Flush'd with youth her looks impart
Till fading beauty hints the late advice. Each fine feeling as it flows;
Her prudence dictates what her pride disdaind, Her voice the echo of a heart
And now she sues to slaves herself had chain'd! Pure as the mountain-snows:
Then comes that good old character, a Wife, Celestial transports round her play,
With all the dear distracting cares of life; And softly, sweetly die away.
A thousand cards a day at doors to leave, She smiles! and where is now the cloud
And, in return, a thousand cards receive; That blacken'd o'er thy baleful reign?
Rouge high, play deep, to lead the ton aspire, Grim darkness furls his leaden shroud,
With nightly blaze set Portland-place on fire; Shrinking from her glance in vain.
Snatch half a glimpse at Concert, Opera, Ball,
A meteor, traced by none, though seen by all ; I See Tacitus, I. viv, c. 20. ? Tu remarkable event happened at the siege and Hack of Jerusalem, in the last year of the eleventh century. Matth. 1 After a Tragedy, performed for her benefit, at the Theatre Parie, p. 34
Royal in Drury-lane, April 27, 1795.
FROM EURIPIDES. THERE is a streamlet issuing from a rock. The village-girls, singing wild madrigals, Dip their white vestments in its waters clear, And hang them to the sun. There first I saw her. Her dark and eloquent eyes, mild, full of fire, 'Twas heaven to look upon; and her sweet voice, As tunable as harp of many strings, At once spoke joy and sadness to my soul!
And, when her shatter'd nerves forbid to roam, In very spleen-rehearse the girls at home.
Last, the grey Dowager, in ancient flounces, With snuff and spectacles the age denounces; Boasts how the Sires of this degenerate Isle Knelt for a look, and duellid for a smile. The scourge and ridicule of Goth and Vandal, Her tea she sweetens, as she sips, with scandal ; With modern Belles eternal warfare wages, Like her own birds that clamor from their cages; And shuffles round to bear her tale to all, Like some old Ruin, “ nodding to its fall!"
Thus Woman makes her entrance and her exit;
-And she, whose first, best wish is your applause,
Dear is that valley to the murmuring bees;
CAPTIVITY. Caged in old woods, whose reverend echoes wake When the hern screams along the distant lake, Her little heart oft flutters to be free, Oft sighs to turn the unrelenting key. In vain! the nurse that rusted relic wears, Nor moved by gold-nor to be moved by tears; And terraced walls their black reflection throw On the green-mantled moat that sleeps below.
Oh, if you knew the pensive pleasure
But lo, at last he comes with crowded sail!
And hark, what mingled murmurs swell the gale!
-Tis she, 'tis she herself! she waves her hand! Yet has she fled the life of bliss below,
And now in joy she dwells, in glory moves!
(Glory and joy reserved for you to share.)
Than they, alas! unconscio of her care.
ON A TEAR.
Oh! that the Chemist's magic art Yet within thee, thyself a grove,
Could crystallize this sacred treasure !
Long should it glitter near my heart,
A secret source of pensive pleasure.
The little brilliant, ere it fell, His sable plumage tempest-toss'd;
Its lustre caught from Chloe's eye ; And, as the death-bell smote the wind,
Then, trembling, left its coral cell-
The spring of Sensibility!
Sweet drop of pure and pearly light!
In thee the rays of Virtue shine ; And village-sports, and garlands gay.
More calmly clear, more mildly bright,
Than any gem that gilds the mine.
Benign restorer of the soul !
Who ever fly'st to bring relief, Father of many a forest deep,
When first we feel the rude control
Of Love or Pity, Joy or Grief.
The sage's and the poet's theme,
In every clime, in every age;
Thou charm'st in Fancy's idle dream,
In Reason's philosophic page.
That very law' which moulds a tear,
And bids it trickle from its source, of human sacrifice!
That law preserves the earth a sphere,
And guides the planets in their course.
TO A VOICE THAT HAD BEEN LOST.
Vane, quid affectas faciem mibi ponere, pictor ?
Et, si vis similem pingere, pinge sonum. Ausonius.
ONCE more, Enchantress of the soul, Look in each other's face, and melt in tears.
Once more we hail thy soft control. Well may you shun all counsel, all relief.
-Yet whither, whither didst thou fly! Oh she was great in mind, though young in years ! To what bright region of the sky?
Say, in what distant star to dwell ? Changed is that lovely countenance, which shed (Of other worlds thou seem'st to tell) Light when she spoke, and kindled sweet surprise, Or trembling, fluttering here below, As o'er her frame each warm emotion spread,
Resolved and unresolved to go, Play'd round her lips, and sparkled in her eyes.
In secret didst thou still impart
Thy raptures to the pure in heart? Those lips 80 pure, that moved but to persuade
Perhaps to many a desert shore, Still to the last enliven'd and endear'd.
Thee, in his rage, the Tempest bore; Those eyes at once her secret soul convey'd,
Thy broken murmurs swept along, And ever beam'd delight when you appear'd.
'Mid Echoes yet untuned by song ;
1 On the death of a younger sister.
1 The law of gravitation.
2 In the winter of 1805.
Arrested in the realms of Frost,
Yet round her couch indulgent Fancy drew Or in the wilds of Ether lost.
The kindred forms her closing eye required. Far happier thou! 'twas thine to soar, There didst thou stand-there, with the smile she Careering on the winged wind.
knew, Thy triumphs who shall dare explore ? She moved her lips to bless thee, and expired. Suns and their systems left behind.
And now to thee she comes; still, still the same No tract of space, no distant star,
As in the hours gone unregarded by! No shock of elements at war,
To thee, how changed! comes as she ever came, Did thee detain. Thy wing of fire
Health on her cheek, and pleasure in her eye! Bore thee amidst the Cherub-choir ; And there awhile to thee 't was given Nor less, less oft, as on that day, appears, Once more that Voice' beloved to join, When lingering, as prophetic of the truth, Which taught thee first a flight divine, By the way-side she shed her parting tears And nursed thy infant years with many a strain For ever lovely in the light of Youth!
FROM A GREEK EPIGRAM.
WRITTEN IN A SICK CHAMBER.
Till through the shutter'd pane the morning streams,
TO THE FRAGMENT OF A STATUE OF HERCULES,
THE BOY OF EGREMOND.'
"Say, what remains when Hope is filed ?" (Thy giant limbs to night and chaos hurlid),
She answer'd, “ Endless weeping " Still sit as on the fragment of a world ;
For in the herdsman's eye she read
Who in his shroud lay sleeping.
At Embsay rung the matin-bell,
The stag was roused on Barden-fell ; Smote thee with fury, and thy headless trunk
The mingled sounds were swelling, dying, Deep in the dust 'mid tower and temple sunk;
And down the Wharfe a hern was flying ; Soon to subdue mankind 't was thine to rise, Still, still unquell'd thy glorious energies !
When near the cabin in the wood,
In tartan clad and forest-green, Aspiring minds, with thee conversing, caught?
With hound in leash and hawk in hood, Bright revelations of the Good they sought;
The Boy of Egremond was seen. By thee that long-lost spello in secret given,
Blithe was his song, a song of yore;
But where the rock is rent in two,
His voice was heard no more!
"T was but a step! the gulf he pass'd;
But that step—it was his last !
(A cloud that hovers night and day), When mountain-glens and caverns full of night The hound hung back, and back he drew O'er her young mind divine enchantment threw, The Master and his merlin too.
That narrow place of noise and strife That in her veins a secret horror slept,
Received their little all of Life!
There now the matin-bell is rung;
1 In the twelfth century William Fitz-Duncan laid waste the 1 Mrs. Sheridan's.
valleys of Craven with fire and sword; and was afterwards 2 In the gardens of the Vatican, where it was placed by Ju-established there by his uncle, David, King of Scotland. lius II. it was long the favorite study of those great men to of Egremond, dying before him in the manner here related ;
He was the last of the race; his son, commonly called the Boy whom we owe the revival of the arts, Michael Angelo, Raphael, when a Priory was removed from Embray to Bolton, that it and the Carracci. 3 Once in the possession of Praxiteles, if we may believe an happened. That place is still known by the name of the Strid:
might be as near as possible to the place where the accident ancient epigram on the Guidian Venus.-Analecta Vet. Poota- and the mother's answer, as given in the first stanzn, is to this rum, III. 200.
day often repcated in Wharfedale. -See Whitaker's Hist. of 4 On the death of her sister.
And holy men in cowl and hood
And while the torrent thunders loud, Are wandering np and down the wood.
And as the echoing cliffs reply, But what avail they? Ruthless Lord,
The huts peep o'er the morning-cloud,
Perch'd, like an eagle's nest, on high.
IMITATION OF AN ITALIAN SONNET. The child before thee is thy own.
Love, under Friendship’s vesture white, And she who wildly wanders there,
Laughs, his little limbs concealing ; The mother in her long despair,
And oft in sport, and oft in spite, Shall oft remind thee, waking, sleeping,
Like Pity meets the dazzled sight, Of those who by the Wharfe were weeping ; Smiles through his tears revealing. Of those who would not be consoled
But now as Rage the God appears !
He frowns, and tempests shake his frame !
'Tis Love; and Love is still the same. TO A FRIEND ON HIS MARRIAGE. Ox thee, blest youth, a father's hand confers
As through the hedge-row shade the violet steals, Thine be the joys to firm attachment due.
And the sweet air its modest leaf reveals ;
Her softer charms, but by their influence known, As on she moves with hesitating grace,
Surprise all hearts, and mould them to her own. She wins assurance from his soothing voice; And, with a look the pencil could not trace, Smiles through her blushes, and confirms the choice.
YOUNGEST DAUGHTER OF LADY **** Spare the fine tremors of her feeling frame! To thee she turns~ forgive a virgin's fears!
Ah! why with tell-tale tongue reveal To thee she turns with surest, tenderest claim :
What most her blushes would conceal? Weakness that charms, reluctance that endears!
Why lift that modest veil to trace
The seraph-sweetness of her face? At each response the sacred rite requires,
Some fairer, better sport prefer; From her full bosom bursts the unbidden sigh.
And feel for us, if not for her. A strange mysterious awe the scene inspires ;
For this presumption, soon or late, And on her lips the trembling accents die.
Know thine shall be a kindred fate.
Another shall in vengeance rise O'er her fair face what wild emotions play!
Sing Harriet’s cheeks, and Harriet's eyes ; What lights and shades in sweet confusion blend !
And, echoing back her wood-notes wild, Soon shall they fly, glad harbingers of day,
-Trace all the mother in the child! And settled sunshine on her soul descend !
AN EPITAPH 2 ON A ROBIN-REDBREAST.
A small note wakes from under-ground,
With ruffled wing and faded breast,
His friendless, homeless spirit roves ;
-Gone to the world where birds are blest! And line with light the mountain's brow:
Where never cat glides o'er the green, With hounds and horns the hunters rise,
Or school-boy's giant form is seen ; And chase the roe-buck through the snow.
But Love, and Joy, and smiling Spring
Inspire their little souls to sing !
TO THE GNAT.
When by the greenwood side, at summer eve, The goats wind slow their wonted way
Poetic visions charm my closing eye; Up craggy steeps and ridges rude ;
And fairy scenes, that Fancy loves to weave, Mark'd by the wild wolf for his prey,
Shift to wild notes of sweetest minstrelsy; From desert cave or hanging wood. 1 There are pasues in the Alps, where the guides tell you to
1 Alluding to some verscs which she had written on an elder
sister. move on with spoed, and say nothing, lest the agitation of the Bu should loosen the knows above.
2 Inscribed on an urn in the flower garden at Hafod.