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Return you me guilt, lethargy, despair ?
Make out the inventory; inspect, compare !
Then die—if die you dare !
STANZAS ADDRESSED TO A LADY ON HER RECOVERY WITH UNBLEMISHED LOOKS, FROM A SEVERE
ATTACK OF PAIN.
'TWAS my last waking thought, how it could be +
That thou, sweet friend, such anguish shouldst
endure ; When straight from Dreamland came a Dwarf,
and he Could tell the cause, forsooth, and knew the cure.
Methought he fronted me with peering look
Fix'd on my heart; and read aloud in game
The loves and griefs therein, as from a book ;
And utter'd praise like one who wish'd to blame.
In every heart (quoth he) since Adam's sin
Two Founts there are, of suffering and of cheer !
That to let forth, and this to keep within !
But she, whose aspect I find imaged here,
Of Pleasure only will to all dispense,
That Fount alone unlock, by no distress
Choked or turn'd inward, but still issue thence
Unconquerd cheer, persistent loveliness.
As on the driving cloud the shiny bow,
That gracious thing made up of tears and light,
Mid the wild rack and rain that slants below
Stands smiling forth, unmoved and freshly bright ;-
As though the spirits of all lovely flowers,
Inweaving each its wreath and dewy crown,
Or ere they sank to earth in vernal showers,
Had built a bridge to tempt the angels down.
Even so, Eliza ! on that face of thine,
On that benignant face, whose look alone
(The soul's translucence thro' her crystal shrine !)
Has power to soothe all anguish but thine own,
A beauty hovers still, and ne'er takes wing,
But with a silent charm compels the stern
And torturing * Genius of the bitter spring,
To shrink aback, and cower upon his urn.
Who then needs wonder, if (no outlet found
In passion, spleen, or strife, the fount of pain
O’erflowing beats against its lovely mound,
And in wild flashes shoots from heart to brain ?
Sleep, and the Dwarf with that unsteady gleam
On his raised lip, that aped a critic smile,
Had pass'd: yet I, my sad thoughts to beguile,
Lay weaving on the tissue of my dream;
* Fostering—1827-28 (probably a misprint). -Ed.
Till audibly at length I cried, as though
Thou hadst indeed been present to my eyes,
O sweet, sweet sufferer; if the case be so,
I pray thee, be less good, less sweet, less wise !
look a barbed arrow send,
On those soft lips let scorn and anger live !
Do any thing, rather than thus, sweet friend !
Hoard for thyself the pain thou wilt not give !
* Yes, yes ! that boon, life's richest treat,
He had, or fancied that he had;
Say, 'twas but in his own conceit-
The fancy made him glad !
Crown of his cup, and garnish of his dish,
The boon, prefigured in his earliest wish,
The fair fulfilment of his poesy,
When his young heart first yearn'd for sympathy !
But e’en the meteor offspring of the brain
Faith asks her daily bread,
And Fancy must be fed.
Now so it chanced—from wet or dry,
It boots not how—I know not why“
She miss'd her wonted food; and quickly
Poor Fancy stagger'd and grew sickly.
* Printed in The Amulet, 1828, at the end of a Dialogue in Prose.
Then came a restless state, 'twixt yea and nay,
His faith was fix’d, his heart all ebb and flow;
Or like a bark, in some half-shelter'd bay,
Above its anchor driving to and fro.
That boon, which but to have possest
In a belief, gave life a zest-
Uncertain both what it had been,
And if by error lost, or luck;
And what it was ;—an evergreen
Which some insidious blight had struck,
Or annual flower, which, past its blow,
No vernal spell shall e'er revive ;
Uncertain, and afraid to know,
Doubts toss'd him to and fro;
Hope keeping Love, Love Hope alive,
Like babes bewilder'd in the snow,
That cling and huddle from the cold
In hollow tree or ruin'd fold.
Those sparkling colours, once his boast,
Fading one by one away, Thin and hueless as a ghost,
Poor Fancy on her sick-bed lay; Ill at distance, worse when near, Telling her dreams to jealous Fear ! Where was it then, the sociable sprite That crown'd the Poet's cup and deck'd his dish ! Poor shadow cast from an unsteady wish, Itself a substance by no other right But that it intercepted Reason's light;
It dimm'd his eye, it darken'd on his brow,
A peevish mood, a tedious time, I trow !
Thank Heaven ! 'tis not so now.
O bliss of blissful hours !
The boon of Heaven's decreeing,
While yet in Eden's bowers
Dwelt the first husband and his sinless mate!
The one sweet plant, which, piteous Heaven
They bore with them thro' Eden's closing gate !
Of life’s gay summer tide the sovran rose !
Late autumn's amaranth, that more fragrant blows
When passion's flowers all fall or fade;
If this were ever his, in outward being,
Or but his own true love's projected shade,
Now that at length by certain proof he knows,
That whether real or a magic show,
Whate'er it was, it is no longer so;
Though heart be lonesome, hope laid low,
Yet, Lady! deem him not unblest :
The certainty that struck hope dead,
Hath left contentment in her stead :
And that is next to best !
THE GARDEN OF BOCCACCIO.*
OF late, in one of those most weary hours,
, When life seems emptied of all genial powers,
* Printed in The Keepsake, Lond., 1829, to accompany a drawing by Stothard.—ED.