Page images

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, ravestis 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.



LAKE Leman lies by Chillon's walls :
A thousand feet in depth below
Its massy waters meet' and flow;
Thus much the fathom-line was sent
From Chillon's snow-white battlement,

Which round about the wave inthrals :
A double dungeon wall and wave
Have made—and like a living grave.
Below the surface of the lake
The dark vault lies wherein we lay,
We heard it ripple night and day ;

Sounding o'er our heads it knock’d;
And I have felt the winter's spray
Wash through the bars when winds were high
And wanton in the happy sky ;

And then the very rock hath rock'd,

And I have felt it shake, unshock’d,
Because I could have smiled to see
The death that would have set me free.

I said my nearer brother pined,
I said his mighty heart declined,
He loathed and put away his food ;
It was not that 'twas coarse and rude,
For we were used to hunter's fare,
And for the like had little care :

The milk drawn from the mountain goat
Was changed for water from the moat,
Our bread was such as captive's tears
Have moisten'd many a thousand years,
Since man first pent his fellow men
Like brutes within an iron den ;
But what were these to us or him ?
These wasted not his heart or limb;
My brother's soul was of that mould
Which in a palace had grown cold,
Had his free breathing been denied
The range of the steep mountain's side ;
But why delay the truth ?-he died.
I saw, and could not hold his head,
Nor reach his dying hand-nor dead, -
Though hard I strove, but strove in vain,
To rend and gnash my bonds in twain.
He died-and they unlock'd his chain,
And scoop'd for him a shallow grave
Even from the cold earth of our cave.
I begg'd them, as a boon, to lay
His corse in dust whereon the day
Might shine—it was a foolish thought,
But then within my brain it wrought,
That even in death his freeborn breast
In such a dungeon could not rest.
I might have spared my idle prayer-
They coldly laugh'd—and laid him there :
The flat and turfless earth above
The being we so much did love ;
His empty chain above it leant,
Such murder's fitting monument !

But he, the favourite and the flower,
Most cherish'd since his natal hour,


His mother's image in fair face, The infant love of all his race, His martyr'd father's dearest thought, My latest care, for whom I sought To hoard my life, that his might be Less wretched now, and one day free ; He, too, who yet had held untired A spirit natural or inspiredHe, too, was struck, and day by day Was wither'd on the stalk away. Oh, God ! it is a fearful thing To see the human soul take wing In any shape, in any mood :I've seen it rushing forth in blood, I've seen it on the breaking ocean Strive with a swoln convulsive motion, I've seen the sick and ghastly bed Of Sin delirious with its dread; But these were horrors—this was woe Unmix'd with such—but sure and slow : He faded, and so calm and meek, So softly worn, so sweetly weak, So tearless, yet so tender-kind, And grieved for those he left behind ! With all the while a cheek whose bloom Was as a mockery of the tomb, Whose tints as gently sunk away As a departing rainbow's rayAn eye of most transparent light, That almost made the dungeon bright, And not a word of murmur—not A groan o'er his untimely lot,A little talk of better days, A little hope my own to raise, For I was sunk in silence-lost

« PreviousContinue »