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What daughter of her beauties was the heir?
How lived-how loved-how died she? Was she not So honour'd-and conspicuously there,
Where meaner relics must not dare to rot, Placed to commemorate a more than mortal lot?
Was she as those who love their lords, or they
Who love the lords of others? such have been
Even in the olden time, Rome's annals say.
Was she a matron of Cornelia's mien,
Or the light air of Egypt's graceful queen,
Profuse of joy-or 'gainst it did she war,
Inveterate in virtue? Did she lean
To the soft side of the heart, or wisely bar
Love from amongst her griefs ?-for such the affections
Perchance she died in youth: it may be, bow'd
With woes far heavier than the ponderous tomb
That weigh'd upon her gentle dust, a cloud
Might gather o'er her beauty, and a gloom
In her dark eye, prophetic of the doom
Heaven gives its favourites-early death; yet shed
A sunset charm around her, and illume
With hectic light, the Hesperus of the dead,
Of her consuming cheek the autumnal leaf-like red.
Perchance she died in age-surviving all,
Charms, kindred, children-with the silver gray
On her long tresses, which might yet recal,
It may be, still a something of the day
When they were braided, and her proud array
And lovely form were envied, praised, and eyed
By Rome-but whither would Conjecture stray?
Thus much alone we know-Metella died,
The wealthiest Roman's wife: Behold his love or pride !
(CHILDE HAROLD, Canto iv. Stanzas 115-124.)
EGERIA! Sweet creation of some heart
Which found no mortal resting-place so fair
As thine ideal breast; whate'er thou art
—a young Aurora of the air,
The nympholepsy of some fond despair;
Or, it might be, a heauty of the earth,
Who found a more than common votary there
Too much adoring; whatsoe'er thy birth,
Thou wert a beautiful thought, and softly bodied forth.
The mosses of thy fountain still are sprinkled
With thine Elysian water-drops; the face
Of thy cave-guarded spring, with years unwrinkled,
Reflects the meek-eyed genius of the place,
Whose green, wild margin now no more erase
Art's works, nor must the delicate waters sleep,
Prison'd in marble; bubbling from the base
Of the cleft statue, with a gentle leap
The rill runs o'er, and round, fern, flowers, and ivy, creep
Fantastically tangled; the green hills
Are clothed with early blossoms, through the grass
The quick-eyed lizard rustles, and the bills
Of summer-birds sing welcome as ye pass;
Flowers fresh in hue, and many in their class,
Implore the pausing step, and with their dyes
Dance in the soft breeze in a fairy mass;
The sweetness of the violet's deep blue eyes,
Kiss'd by the breath of heaven, seems coloured by its skies.
Here didst thou dwell, in this enchanted cover,
Egeria! thy all heavenly boṣom beating
For the far footsteps of thy mortal lover;
The purple Midnight veiled that mystic meeting
With her most starry canopy, and seating
Thyself by thine adorer, what befell?
This cave was surely shaped out for the greeting
Of an enamoured Goddess, and the cell
Haunted by holy Love-the earliest oracle !
And didst thou not, thy breast to his replying,
Blend a celestial with a human heart;
And Love, which dies as it was born, in sighing,
Share with immortal transports? could thine art
Make them indeed immortal, and impart
The purity of heaven to earthly joys,
Expel the venom and not blunt the dart
The dull satiety which all destroys
And root from out the soul the deadly weed which cloys?
Alas! our young affections run to waste, Or water but the desert; whence arise But weeds of dark luxuriance, tares of haste, Rank at the core, though tempting to the eyes, Flowers whose wild odours breathe but agonies, And trees whose gums are poison; such the plants Which spring beneath her steps as Passion flies O'er the world's wilderness, and vainly pants For some celestial fruit forbidden to our wants.
Oh Love! no habitant of earth thou art—
An unseen seraph, we believe in thee,
A faith whose martyrs are the broken heart,
But never yet hath seen, nor e'er shall see
The naked eye, thy form, as it should be ;
The mind hath made thee, as it peopled heaven,
Even with its own desiring phantasy,
And to a thought such shape and image given, As haunts the unquench'd soul-parch'd-wearied— wrung-and riven.
Of its own beauty is the mind diseased,
And fevers into false creation ;—where,
Where are the forms the sculptor's soul hath seized?
In him alone. Can Nature show so fair?
Where are the charms and virtues which we dare
Conceive in boyhood and pursue as men,
The unreach'd Paradise of our despair,
Which o'er-informs the pencil and the pen, And overpowers the page where it would bloom again?
Who loves, raves-'tis youth's frenzy-but the cure
Is bitterer still: as charm by charm unwinds
Which robed our idols, and we see too sure
Nor worth nor beauty dwells from out the mind's
Ideal shape of such; yet still it binds
The fatal spell, and still it draws us on,
Reaping the whirlwind from the oft-sown winds;
The stubborn heart, its alchemy begun,
Seems ever near the prize-wealthiest when most undone.
We wither from our youth, we gasp away-
Sick-sick; unfound the boon-unslaked the thirst,
Though to the last, in verge of our decay,
Some phantom lures, such as we sought at first
But all too late,—so are we doubly curst.
Love, fame, ambition, avarice—'tis the same,
Each idle and all ill-and none the worst-
For all are meteors with a different name,
And Death the sable smoke where vanishes the flame.
ETERNAL Spirit of the chainless Mind!
Brightest in dungeons, Liberty! thou art,
For there thy habitation is the heart—
The heart which love of thee alone can bind ;
And when thy sons to fetters are consign'd-
To fetters, and the damp vault's dayless gloom,
Their country conquers with their martyrdom,
And Freedom's fame finds wings on every wind.
Chillon thy prison is a holy place,
And thy sad floor an altar-for 'twas trod, Until his very steps have left a trace
Worn, as if thy cold pavement were a sod, By Bonnivard !-May none those marks efface! For they appeal from tyranny to God.