MOONLIGHT is o’er the dim and heaving sea,–
Moonlight is on the mountain’s frowning brow,
And by their silvery fountains merrily
The maids of Castaly are dancing now.
Young hearts, bright eyes, and rosy lips are there,
And fairy steps, and light and laughing voices,
Ringing like welcome music through the air–
A sound at which the untroubled heart rejoices.
But there are hearts o’er which that dancing measure
And there are ears to which the voice of pleasure
Still vainly calls !
There’s not a scene on earth so full of lightness
That withering care
Sleeps not beneath the flowers, and turns their brightness
To dark despair!
Oh! Earth, dim Earth, thou canst not be our home;
Or wherefore look we still for joys to come?
The fairy steps are flown–the scene is still–
Nought mingles with the murmuring of the rill.
Nay, hush! it is a sound–a sigh–again!
It is a human voice–the voice of pain.
And beautiful is she, who sighs alone
Now that her young and playful mates are gone:
The dim moon, shining on her statue face,
Gives it a mournful and unearthly grace;
And she hath bent her gentle knee to earth;
And she hath raised her meek sad eyes to heaven–
As if in such a breast sin could have birth,
She clasps her hands, and sues to be forgiven.
Her prayer is over; but her anxious glance
Into the blue transparency of night
Seems as it fain would read the book of chance,
And fix the future hours, dark or bright.
A slow and heavy footstep strikes her ear–
What ails the gentle maiden?–Is it fear?
Lo! she hath lightly raised her from the ground,
And turn’d her small and stag-like head around;
Her pale cheek paler, and her lips apart,
Her bosom heaving o’er her beating heart:
And see, those thin white hands she raises now
To press the throbbing fever from her brow–
In vain–in vain! for never more shall rest
Find place in that young, fair, but erring breast!
He stands before her now–and who is he
Into whose outspread arms confidingly
She flings her fairy self?–Unlike the forms
That woo and win a woman’s love–the storms
Of deep contending passions are not seen
Darkening the features where they once have been,
Nor the bright workings of a generous soul,
Of feelings half conceal’d, explain the whole.
But there is something words cannot express–
A gloomy, deep, and quiet fixedness;
A recklessness of all the blows of fate–
A brow untouch’d by love, undimm’d by hate–
As if, in all its stores of crime and care,
Earth held no suffering now for him to bear.
Yes–all is passionless–the hollow cheek
Those pale thin lips shall never wreathe with smiles;
Ev’n now, ‘mid joy, unmoved and sad they speak
In spite of all his Linda’s winning wiles.
Yet can we read, what all the rest denies,
That he hath feelings of a mortal birth,
In the wild sorrow of those dark bright eyes,
Bent on that form–his one dear link to earth.
He loves–and he is loved! then what avail
The scornful words which seek to brand with shame?
Or bitterer still, the wild and fearful tale
Which couples guilt and horror with that name?
What boots it that the few who know him shun
To speak or eat with that unworthy one?
Were all their words of scorn and malice proved,
It matters not–he loves and he is loved!
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
‘Linda! my Linda!’ thus the silence broke,
And slow and mournfully the stranger spoke,
‘Seat we ourselves upon this mossy bed,
Where the glad airs of heaven wave o’er thy head,
And thou shalt hear the awful tale which ne’er
Hath yet been breathed, save once, to mortal ear.
And if, my Linda–nay, love, tremble not–
Thou shudder’st to partake so dark a lot–
Go–and be happy in forgetfulness,
And take–I’d bless thee if my tongue could bless,’
There was that sudden sinking of the tone
That lingers in our memory when alone,
And thrills the heart to think how deep the grief
Which sues no pity–looks for no relief.
Oh! deep, beyond the feeble power of tears,
Such scene will dwell within our souls for years;
And it will seem but yesterday we heard
The faltering pause–the calm but broken word;
Saw the averted head, where each blue vein
Swell’d in its agony of mental pain;
And heard the grief confess’d:–no, not confess’d,
But struggling burst convulsive from the breast!
‘Isbal,’ that gentle voice half-murmuring said,
As from his shoulder she upraised her head;
‘Thou knowest I love thee. When I came to-night
I had resolved thy future, dark or bright,
Should still be mine–Beloved–so must it be,
For I have broke a fearful vow for thee.
This morning he who calls himself my brother
(Oh! can he be the child of my sweet mother?)
Pleaded once more for him–that hated friend
Whose bride I was to be; I could but bend
To the cold earth my faint and trembling knee,
And supplicate, with woman’s agony,
That he would spare me–but an hour–a day–
I clasp’d my brother’s knees–that brother said me nay!
He held a poinard to my shrinking heart,
And bade me breathe the vow–
Never in life or death from him to part
Who is–my husband now.
Isbal, we were betrothed; my lips in fear
Pronounced those words–but oh! my heart was here-
Here–in the calm cold moonlight by thy side,
Here–where the dark blue waters gently glide,
Here–in my childhood’s haunts, now ev’n more dear.
Than in those happy days, for thou art near.
Yes–while the unheeded vow my faint lip spoke,
Recall’d the echo which thy tones awoke–
Thy image rose between me and the shrine;
Surely the vow before it breathed was thine.
To-morrow’s sun proud Carlos claims his wife;
To-morrow’s sun shall see my span of life
Devoted unto thee–thy tale can make
No lot I would not share for thy sweet sake;
No–Ere I hear it, let love’s fond vow be–
To have no earth–no heaven–no hope but thee!
Now tell me all.’–Again that gentle head
With dewy eyes and flushing cheek is laid
Upon his arm; and with a thrill of pain
The broken thread is thus renew’d again:
‘From the first hour I saw thee, on that night
When dancing in the moonbeam’s chequer’d light
With those young laughing ones who now are gone,
By this same fountain which is murmuring on;
When my deep groan burst through the music’s sound,
And that soft eye went glancing, startled, round–
From that sweet hour, when pity seem’d to move,
I loved thee–as the wretched only love.
Oft since, when in the darkness of my day
I sit, and dream my wretched life away;
In the deep silence of my night of tears,
When Memory wakes to mourn for vanish’d years;
Shunn’d–scorn’d–detested–friendless and alone,
I’ve thought of thee–and stifled back my groan!
I’ve come in daylight, and have flung me down
By the bright fountain’s side,
Chased with dear thoughts of thee each gloomy frown,
And bless’d my promised bride.
I’ve come when stormy winds have howl’d around
Over the yielding flowers,
Bending their gentle heads unto the ground,
And thought of thee for hours.
I’ve come–my Linda knows that I have come
When the soft starlight told
That she had left her haughty brother’s home,
And hearts, as dead and cold
As the chill waters of a moonless sea,
For the light dance and music’s revelry.
With gay and loving maids; and I have watch’d
Till one by one those soft steps have departed,
And my young mournful Linda hath been snatch’d
To the sear bosom of the broken-hearted!
Linda, there is a land–a far dark land,
Where on this head the red avenging hand
Fell with its heaviest bolts–When watching by
The bitter cross of Him of Calvary
They stood who loved and did believe in Him,
I said, while all around grew dark and dim–‘
‘Isbal, dear Isbal!’ shriek’d the affrighted maid,
‘For that dear Saviour’s sake–for him who said
He died for sinners–mock me not, I pray–
Oh! yet, beloved, those words of Death unsay!’
She hung upon his bosom, and look’d up
Into those dark wild eyes with grief and fear.
Alas! poor maiden, ’twas a bitter cup
To drink from hands which love had made so dear.
As a knell o’er the river
Flings its lingering tone,
Telling of joys for ever
Lost and gone:
As the murmuring sound
Of a slow deep stream,
Where the sullen shadows round
Reject each sunny beam:
So o’er the maiden’s spirit, like a moan,
Falls the deep sameness of that strange calm tone.
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
‘I tell thee centuries have pass’d away,
And that dark scene is still like yesterday;
The lurid clouds roll’d o’er each failing head,
The Godlike dying, and the guilty dead:
And awful signs were seen, and I was there–
Woman, I was–or wherefore my despair?
I’ll whisper thee–* * * *
* * * * * *
Linda, my Linda! start not thus away–
My brain is ‘wilder’d–what, love, did I say?
Forget the words–forget! Eternal God!
Is not this earth the same which then I trod?
Do not the stars gleam coldly from above,
Mocking the lips that dare to talk of love?
I know–I feel it cannot be forgot;
Yet, oh! forsake me not–forsake me not!
Didst thou not bid me tell thee all? oh! rest
Still on this worn and sad and guilty breast;
Whatever sins the eye of Heaven may see,
Its last faint throb alone will end its love for thee!
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
I stood awhile, stifling my gasping breath,
Fearfully gazing on that scene of death:
Then with a shuddering groan of pain I shrouded
My straining eyes, and turn’d, a cowering worm,
To either side where grimly death had clouded
The image of his maker in man’s form.
On one low cross a dark and fearful brow,
On which the dews of death are standing now,
Shows black despair:
And on the other, though the eye be dim,
And quivering anguish in each stiffening limb,
Mercy and hope are there!
Then rose the wailing sound of woman’s woe
Appealing unto Heaven,
And sinners bow’d their heads, and bent them low,
And howl’d to be forgiven–
And I glanced madly round–One after one
They stole away, and I was left alone–
I–the Undying One, in that dim night!
Oh! words can never tell my soul’s affright;
The sickening, thrilling, dark, and fainting fear
That rose within my breast:–I seem’d to hear
A thousand voices round; I could not pray,
But fled in solitary shame away.
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
Linda! thou wilt not think that after this
Dark hour of agony,
A day, a moment ev’n, of fever’d bliss
Could yet remain for me:
But so it was, a wild and sudden hope
Sprung in my heart–if that my life could cope
With sickness and with time, I yet might be
Happy through half an immortality.
I sat at festal boards, and quaff’d red wine,
And sang wild songs of merriment and mirth;
And bade young sparkling eyes around me shine,
And made a guilty paradise of earth.
I built me palaces, and loved to dwell
‘Mongst all which most the eager heart rejoices;
Bright halls, where silvery fountains rose and fell,
And where were ringing light and cheerful voices;
Gay gardens where the bowery trees around
Their leafy branches spread,
And rosy flowers upon the mossy ground
Their honey’d perfume shed.
But yet the curse was on me; and it came
Tainting my life with pains like hell’s dark flame.
The flowers withered:
One after one
Death’s cold hand gathered,
Till all were gone:
And the eyes that were sparkling
With pleasure’s ray,
Lay cold and darkling
Lonely and weeping
A few were left,
Of those who were sleeping
Too soon bereft ;
But they soon were lying
Beneath the sod–
And I, the Undying,
And the silvery fountains went murmuring on,
But the voices of music and pleasure were gone.
And I could not bear the banquet-room,
Reminding me ever of my doom;
When the purple goblet I tried to quaff,
In my ear there rang some forgotten laugh;
And when the lay I sought to pour,
Voices came round me which sang no more.
Yea! when I saw some lovely form,
I thought how soon it must feed the worm–
And shrank from the touch it left behind,
As if I were not of human kind;
Or that the thing I could not save
Were withering, then, in the cold dark grave.
I wandered through my halls
Is it my voice which calls
On the departed,
With that stern, sad tone?
Where are, beloved in vain,
Your countless numbers?
May you not wake again
From your dark slumbers?
Am I to be alone?
Oh! let but one return–
One fond one only;
Raise up the heavy urn,
Life is so lonely–
I ask no more of Heaven.
The mocking echoes round,
My words repeating
With their dim dreary sound,
Forbid our meeting–
I may not be forgiven!
Linda! my Linda! those, and those alone
Who have lived on, when more than life was gone;
And being yet young, look to the heavy years
Which are to come–a future all of tears–
Those only who have stood in some bright spot
With those beloved ones who shared their lot,
And stand again in that sweet fairy scene,
When those young forms are as they had not been;
When gazing wildly round, some fancied word
Strikes on the listening spirit, and it seems
As if again those gentle tones were heard
Which never more can sound except in dreams–
Those only who have started and awoke
In anguish’d pain,
And yearn’d (the gladsome vision being broke)
To dream again–
Can feel for me. It seem’d a little day
In which that generation pass’d away;
And others rose up round me, and they trod
In those same streets–upon the selfsame sod
They loved and were beloved: they ate–they laugh’d–
And the rich grape from ancient goblets quaff’d:
But I remain’d alone–a blighted thing,
Like one sere leaf amid the flowers of spring!
My sick worn heart refused to cling again
To dreams that pass away, and yearnings vain.
Thou canst not think how strange:–how horribly strange
It was to see all round me fade and change,
And I remain the same!–I sat within
My halls of light, a thing of care and sin;
The echoes gave me back the wild sad tone
Of every deep and solitary moan;
Fearful I gazed on the bright walls around,
And dash’d the mocking mirrors to the ground.
And when I wander’d through the desert crowd
Of all my fellow-men, I could have bow’d
And grovell’d in the dust to him who would
Have struck my breast, to slay me where I stood.
They shrank from me as from some venomous snake
Watchfully coil’d to spring from the dark brake
On the unwary. Fearful–fearful tales
Pass’d on from sire to son, link’d with my name,
With all the awful mystery which veils
A tale of guilt, and deepens its dark shame
They shrank from me, I say, as, gaunt and wild
I wander’d on through the long summer’s day
And every mother snatch’d her cowering child
With horror from my solitary way!
I fled from land to land, a hunted wretch;
From land to land those tales pursued me still:
Across the wide bright sea there seem’d to stretch
A long dark cloud my fairest hopes to kill.
I grew a wanderer: from Afric’s coast,
Where gaily dwelt the yet unfetter’d black,
To Iran, of her eager sons the boast,
I went along my dim and cheerless track.
O’er the blue Mediterranean, with its isles
And dancing waves, and wildly pleasing song,
By Lusitania’s land of sun and smiles,
My joyless bark in darkness sail’d along!
On many a soil my wandering feet have trod,
And heard the voice of nations worship God.
Where the dim-minded Heathen raised his prayer
To some bright spirit dwelling in mid-air,
I have stood by, and cursed the stiffen’d knee
Which would not bow like him to Deity.
Where the proud Ghebir, still at morning hour,
Confess’d a God of glory and of power
In the red sun that roll’d above his head,
There have I been, and burning tear-drops shed.
Where the Mahometan, through ages gone,
In his dark faith hath blindly wander’d on;
Where the incredulous Jew, yet unforgiven,
Still vainly waits the crucified of Heaven;
Where the meek Christian raises to the skies
His clasping hands, and his adoring eyes,
And prays that God–the All-seeing God–will bless
His heart with purity of holiness;
Where rosy infancy in smiles was kneeling,
With murmuring, half-imperfect word, appealing
Unto the giver of all good–where joy
Its tearful thanks return’d, and bless’d the day
When should be tasted bliss which cannot cloy,
And tears in heaven’s own light be dried away;
And where the frantic voice of love’s despair
Sends forth its thrilling sound, half wail, half prayer;
In every temple, and at every shrine
I’ve stood and wish’d the darkest worship mine–
So I might see, howe’er the beam mistaking,
Some smile from Heaven upon a heart that’s breaking!
”Twas on God’s glad and holy sabbath day,
When the wide world kneels down at once to pray,–
When every valley, every mountain sod,
Sends its faint tribute to the mighty God,
And the low murmurings of the voiceless airs
Waft on the echo of a thousand prayers–
I stood on England’s fresh and fairy ground.
All lay in dewy stillness far around,
Save the soft chiming of the village bell,
Which seem’d a tale of love and peace to tell.
I stood among the tombs–and saw the crowd
Of Christians enter in;
Each meek and humble head they gently bow’d,
And chased the thoughts of sin.
I watch’d them-one by one they onward pass’d
And from my sight were gone,
The welcome opening door received the last
And left me there alone.
The blood rush’d thickly to my panting heart,
And as I turn’d me sorrowing to depart,
An inward voice seem’d whispering–‘Sinner, go!
And with those meek adorers bend thee low.’
I trembled–hesitated–reach’d the door
Through which the pious crowd had ceased to pour:
A sudden faintness came upon me there,
And the relaxing limb refused to bear.
I sank upon a stone, and laid my head
Above the happy and unconscious dead;
And when I rose again, the doors were closed!
In vain I then my fearful thoughts opposed;
Some busy devil whisper’d at my heart
And tempted me to evil.–‘Shall the dart
Of pain and anguish (thus I wildly said,)
Fall only on my persecuted head?
Shall they kneel peaceful down, and I stand here
Oppress’d with horror’s sick and fainting fear?
Forbid it, Powers of Hell!’–A lowly cot
Stood near that calm and consecrated spot:
I enter’d it:–the morning sunshine threw
Its warm bright beams upon the flowers that grew
Around it and within it–’twas a place
So peaceful and so bright, that you might trace
The tranquil feelings of the dwellers there;
There was no taint of shame, or crime, or care.
On a low humble couch was softly laid
A little slumberer, whose rosy head
Was guarded by a watch-dog; while I stood
In hesitating, half-repentant mood,
My glance still met his large, bright, watchful eye,
Wandering from me to that sweet sleeper nigh.
Yes, even to that dumb animal I seem’d
A thing of crime: the murderous death-light gleam’d
Beneath my brow; the noiseless step was mine;
I moved with conscious guilt, and his low whine
Responded to my sigh, whose echo fell
Heavily–as ’twere loth within that cot to dwell.
My inmost heart grew sick–I turn’d me where
The smouldering embers of a fire still were;.
With shuddering hand I snatch’d a brand whose light
Appear’d to burn unnaturally bright;
And then with desperate step I bore that torch
Unto the chapel’s consecrated porch!
A moment more that edifice had fired
And all within in agony expired;
But, dimly swelling through my feverish soul,
A chorus as from heaven’s bright chancel came,
Dash’d from my madden’d lips Guilt’s venom’d bowl,
And quench’d in bitter tears my heart’s wild flame.
The pealing organ, with the solemn sound
Of countless voices, fill’d the air around;
And, as I leant my almost bursting brow
On the cold walls, the words came sad and slow
To me, the exiled one, who might not share
The joyfulness of their prayer.
Sadly I watch’d till through the open door
The crowd of worshippers began to pour;
The hour was over–they had pray’d to Heaven,
And now return’d to peaceful homes forgiven;
While I–one ‘wildering glance I gave around
Upon that sunny, consecrated ground;
The warbling birds, whose little songs of joy
The future and the past can ne’er alloy;
The rosy flowers, the warm and welcome breeze
Murmuring gently through the summer trees,
All–all to me was cursed–I could not die!
I stretch’d my yearning arms unto the sky,
I press’d my straining fingers on my brow,
(Nothing could cool its maddening pulses now,)
And flung me groaning by a tombstone there
To weep in my despair!
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
Long had I wept: a gentle sound of woe
Struck on my ear–I turn’d the cause to know.
I saw a young fair creature silently
Kneeling beside a stone,
A form as bright as man would wish to see,
Or woman wish to own;
And eyes, whose true expression should be gladness,
Beam’d forth in momentary tears of sadness,
Showing like sun-shine through a summer rain
How soon ’twill all be bright and clear again.
I loved her!–
* * * * * *
In truth she was a light and lovely thing,
Fair as the opening flower of early spring.
The deep rose crimson’d in her laughing cheek,
And her eyes seem’d without the tongue to speak;
Those dark blue glorious orbs!–oh! summer skies
Were nothing to the heaven of her eyes.
And then she had a witching art
To wile all sadness from the heart;
Wild as the half-tamed gazelle,
She bounded over hill and dell,
Breaking on you when alone
With her sweet and silvery tone,
Dancing to her gentle lute
With her light and fairy foot;
To our lone meeting-place
Stealing slow with gentle pace,
To hide among the feathery fern;
And, while waiting her return,
I wander’d up and down for hours–
She started from amid the flowers,
Wild, and fresh, and bright as they,
To wing again her sportive way.
‘And she was good as she was fair;
Every morn and every even
Kneeling down in meekness there
To the Holy One of Heaven;
While those bright and soul-fraught eyes
With an angel’s love seem’d burning,
All the radiance of blue skies
With an equal light returning.
The dream of guilt and misery
In that young soul had never enter’d;
Her hopes of Heaven–her love of me,
Were all in which her heart had centred:
Her longest grief, her deepest woe,
When by her mother’s tomb she knelt,
Whom she had lost too young to know
How deep such loss is sometimes felt.
‘It was not grief, but soft regret,
Such as, when one bright sun hath set
After a happy day, will come
Stealing within our heart’s gay home,
Yet leaves a hope (that heart’s best prize)
That even brighter ones may rise.
A tear, for hours of childhood wept;
A garland, wove for her who slept;
A prayer, that the pure soul would bless
Her child, and save from all distress;
A sigh, as clasp’d within her own
She held my hand beside that stone,
And told of many a virtue rare
That shone in her who slumber’d there–
Were all that clouded for a while
The brightness of her sunny smile.
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
It was a mild sweet evening, such
As thou and I have sometimes felt
When the soul feels the scene so much
That even wither’d hearts must melt;
We sat beside that sacred place–
Her mother’s tomb; her glorious head
Seem’d brightening with immortal grace,
As the impartial sun-light shed
Its beams alike on the cold grave,
Wandering o’er the unconscious clay,
And on the living eyes which gave
Back to those skies their borrow’d ray.
‘Isbal, beloved!’ ’twas thus my Edith spoke,
(And my worn heart almost to joy awoke
Beneath the thrill of that young silver tone
‘Isbal, before thou call’st me all thine own,
I would that I might know the whole
Of what is gloomy in thy soul.
Nay, turn not on me those dark eyes
With such wild anguish and surprise.
In spite of every playful wile,
Thou know’st I never see thee smile;
And oft, when, laughing by thy side
Thou think’st that I am always gay,
Tears which are hanging scarcely dried
By thy fond kiss are wiped away.
And deem me not a child; for though
A gay and careless thing I be,
Since I have loved, I feel that, oh!
I could bear aught–do aught for thee!’
‘What boots it to record each gentle tone
Of that young voice, when ev’n the tomb is gone
By which we sat and talk’d? that innocent voice,
So full of joy and hope, that to rejoice
Seem’d natural to those who caught the sound!
The rosy lips are moulder’d under ground:
And she is dead–the beautiful is dead!
The loving and the loved hath pass’d away,
And deep within her dark and narrow bed
All mutely lies what was but breathing clay.
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
Why did I tell the wildly horrible tale?–
Why did I trust the voice that told me she
Could bear to see beyond the lifted veil
A future life of hopeless misery?–
I told her all– * * * *
There was a long deep pause.
I dared not raise my eyes to ask the cause,
But waited breathlessly to hear once more
The gentle tones which I had loved of yore.
Was that her voice?–oh God!–was that her cry?
Were hers those smother’d tones of agony?
Thus she spoke; while on my brow
The cold drops stood as they do now :–
‘It is not that I could not bear
The worst of ills with thee to share:
It is not that thy future fate
Were all too dark and desolate:
Earth holds no pang–Hell shows no fear
I would not try at least to bear;
And if my heart too weak might be,
Oh! it would then have broke for thee!
No, not a pang one tear had cost
But this–to see thee, know thee, lost!’
‘My parch’d lips strove for utterance–but no,
I could but listen still, with speechless woe:
I stretch’d my quivering arms–‘Away! away!’
She cried, ‘and let me humbly kneel, and pray
For pardon; if, indeed, such pardon be
For having dared to love–a thing like thee!’
‘I wrung the drops from off my brow;
I sank before her, kneeling low
Where the departed slept.
I spoke to her of heaven’s wrath
That clouded o’er my desert path,
I raised my voice and wept!
I told again my heart’s dark dream,
The lighting of joy’s fever’d beam,
The pain of living on;
When all of fair, and good, and bright;
Sank from my path like heaven’s light
When the warm sun is gone.
But though ’twas pity shone within her eye,
‘Twas mingled with such bitter agony,
My blood felt chill.
Her round arms cross’d upon her shrinking breast,
Her pale and quivering lip in fear compress’d
Of more than mortal ill,
She stood.–‘My Edith!–mine!’ I frantic cried;
‘My Edith!–mine!’ the sorrowing hills replied;
And the familiar sound so dear erewhile,
Brought to her lip a wild and ghastly smile.
Then gazing with one long, long look of love,
She lifted up her eyes to heaven above,
And turned them on me with a gush of tears:
Those drops renew’d my mingled hopes and fears.
‘Edith!–oh! hear me!’ With averted face
And outspread arms she shrank from my embrace.
‘Away!–away!’–She bent her shuddering knee,
Bow’d her bright head–and Edith ceased to be!
She was so young, so full of life,
I linger’d o’er the mortal strife
That shook her frame, with hope–how vain!
Her spirit might return again.
Could she indeed be gone?–the love
Of my heart’s inmost core!–I strove
Against the truth.–That thing of smiles,
With all her glad and artless wiles–
She, who one hour ago had been
The fairy of that magic scene!–
She, whose fond playful eye such brilliance shed,
That laughter-loving thing–could she be cold and dead?–
I buried her, and left her there;
And turn’d away in my despair.
‘And Evening threw her shadows round
That beautiful and blessed ground,
And all the distant realms of light
Twinkled from out the dark blue night.
So calmly pure–so far away
From all Earth’s sorrows and her crimes,
The gentle scene before me lay;
So like the world of olden times,
That those who gazed on it might swear
Nothing but peace could enter there.
And yet there lay ungrown, untrod,
The fresh and newly turned-up sod,
Which cover’d o’er as fair a form
As ever fed the noxious worm.
There, but an hour ago–yea, less,
The agony and bitterness
Of human feelings, wrought so high
We can but writhe awhile and die,
Troubled the peace around; and sent
Wild shrieks into the firmament.
How strange the earth, our earth, should share
So little in our crime or care!
The billows of the treacherous main
Gape for the wreck, and close again
With dancing smiles, as if the deep
Had whelm’d not with eternal sleep
Many and many a warm young heart
Which swell’d to meet, and bled to part.
The battle plain its verdant breast
Will show in bright and sunny rest,
Although its name is now a word
Through sobs, and moans, and wailing heard;
And many, mourn’d for from afar,
There died the writhing death of war.
Yea, ev’n the stream, by whose cool side
Lay those who thirsted for its tide,
Yearning for some young hand of yore,
Wont in bright hours with smiles to pour
The mantling wine for him whose blood
Is mixing with the glassy flood–
Ev’n that pure fountain gushes by
With all its former brilliancy;
Nor bears with it one tint to show
How crimson it began to flow.
And thus an echo takes the tone
Of agony: and when ’tis gone,
Air, earth, and sea forget the sound,
And all is still and silent round.
And thus upon each cherish’d grave
The sunbeams smile, the branches wave;
And all our tears for those who now are not,
Sink in the flowery turf–and are forgot!
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
And I return’d again, and yet again,
To that remember’d scene of joy and pain:
And ev’n while sitting by the early tomb
Of her who had deserved a better doom,
Her laughing voice rang in my ear,
Her fairy step seem’d coming near,
Until I raised my heavy eyes:
Then on the lone and desert spot I bow’d,
And hid my groaning head, and wept aloud.’
The stranger paused–and Linda gently wept
For him who lived in pain–for her who slept;
And clung to him, as if she fear’d that fate
Would strike him there and leave her desolate.
He spoke–and deaf her ear to all below,
Save the deep magic of that voice of woe!