Графични страници
PDF файл

Were statues, pale and finely shaped and

fair, As if all beauty save her life were there; And, like light clouds floating around each

room, The censers roll'd their -volumes of perfume; And scented waters mingled with the breath Of flowers, which died as if they joy'd in

death; And the white vases, white as mountainsnow, Loolc'd yet more delicate in the rich glow Of summer-blossoms hanging o'er each side, Hiike sunset-reddening o'er a silver tide. There was the tulip with its rainbow-globe; And, like the broidery on a silken robe Made for the beauty's festal midnight-hours, The sparkling jessamine shook its silver

showers; Like timid hopes the lily shrank from

sight; The rose leant as it languished with delight, Yet, bride-like, drooping in its crimson

shame; And the anemone, whose cheek of flame Is golden, as it were the flower the sun In his noon-hour most loved to look upon.

At first the pillar'd halls were still and lone, As if some fairy-palace all unknown To mortal eye or step. This was not long; Waken'd the lutes, and swell'd a burst of

song, And the vast mirrors glitter'd with the crowd Of changing shapes. The young, the fair,

the proud. Came thronging in; and the gay cavalier Took some fair flower from the fairest near, And gave it to the dark-eyed beauty's band, To mark his partner for the saraband; And graceful steps pass'd on. whose tender

tread Was as the rose-leaf in the autumn shed; And witching words, raising on the young

cheek Blushes that had no need of words to speak. Many were lovely there; but.of that many, Was one who shone the loveliest of any, The young Olympia. On her face the dyes "Were yet warm with the dance's exercise. The laugh upon her full red lip yet hung, And, arrow-like, flash'd light words from

her tongue. She had more loveliness than beauty: hers Was that enchantment which the heart

confers; A mouth sweet from its smiles, a glancing

eye, Which had o'er all expression mastery; Laughing its orb, but the long dark lash

made Somewhat of sadness with its twilight shade. And suiting well the upcast look which

seem'd At times as it of melancholy drcam'd;

Her cheek was as a rainbow, it so changed.
As each emotion o'er its surface ranged;
And every word had its companion blush,
But evanescent as the crimson flush
That tints the daybreak; and her step was

light As the gale passing o'er the leaves at night; In truth those snow-feet were too like the

wind. Too slight to leave a single trnce behind. She lean'd ngainst a pillar, and one hand Smooth'd back the curls that had escaped

the band Of wreathed red roses,—soft and fitting

chain In bondage such bright prisoners to retain. The other was from the white marble known But by the clasping of its emerald zone: And lighted up her brow, and flash'd her eye, As many that were wandering careless by Caught but a sound, and paused to hear

what more Her lip might utter of its honey-store. She had that sparkling wit which is like

light, Making all things touch'd with its radiance

bright; And a sweet voice, whose words would

chain all round. Although they had no other charm than

sound. And many named her name, and each with

praise; Some with her pnssionate beauty fill'd their

gaze, Some mark'd her graceful step, and others

spoke Of the so many hearts that nwn'd the yoke Of her bewildering smile; meantime, her

own Seem'd as that it no other love had known Than its sweet loves of nature, mnsic, song, Which as by right to woman's world belong, And make it lovely for Love's dwelling-place. Alas! that he should leave his fiery trace! But this bright creature's brow seem'd all

too fair, Too gay, for Love to be a dweller there; For Love brings sorrow: yet you might

descry A troubled flashing in that brilliant eye, A troubled colour on that varying cheek, A hurry in the tremulous lip to speak Avoidance of sad topics, as to shun Somewhat the spirit dared not rest npon; An unquiet feverishness, a change of place, A pretty pettishnrss, if on her face A look dwelt as in scrutiny to seek What hidden meanings from its change

might break.

[merged small][ocr errors]

One whose step mingled not with the gay

crowd That circled round her ns of right allow'd, Rut one who stood aloof with that lone pride Which ever to deep passion is allied. Half scorning, jet half envying the gay ring Thatgather'd round with gentle blandishing, He stood aloof; and, cold and stern and high, Looked as he mock'd at their idolatry: Yet long'd his knee to liend before the shrine Of the sweet image his heart own'd divine; While, half in anger that she had not known What even to himself he would not own. He knew not how a woman's heart will keep The mystery of itself, and like the deep Will shine beneath the sunbeam, Hash and

flow O'er the rich bark that perishes below. She felt he gazed upon her, and her cheek Wore added beauty in its crimson break; And softer smiles were on her lip, like those The summer-moonlight sheds upon the rose; And her eye sparkled, like the wine-cup's

brim, Mantling in light, though it turn'd not to

him. Again the dancers gather'd; from them one Took gaily her fair hand, and they are gone. Lroni follow 'd not, yet as they pass'd How could Oi/vMPit's light step be the last? Yet pass'd she quickly by him, and the haste Prom her wreathed hair one fragrant rose

displaced. Leoni saw it fall; he is alone, And he may make the fairy-gift his own. He took the flower, and to his lip 't was

prcss'd. One moment, and 't is safe within his breast; But while he linger'd dreaming o'er its

bloom, Olympic's step again is in the room With the young cavalier, who urged her

way, And said her rose beside the column lay. For there he iniss'd it, and some flattering

word Fill'd up the whisper which he only heard. Leoni flung it down in carelessness. As he had inark'd them not, and held it less From knowledge of his act than vacant

thought. While the mind on some other subject

wrought. In haste he left them both, but he could hear The pleading of the. gallant cavalier For that rose as a gift. He might not tell What answer from the maiden's lip then fell, Bnt when they met again he marl, 'il her hair Where it had wreathed,—the rose-bud was

not there. They pass'd and repass'd: he, cold, silently, As was his wont; bnt she, with flashing eye. And blush lit up to crimson, seem'd to wear More than accustom'd gladness in her air. Ah! the heart overacts its part; its mirth. Like light, will all too often take its birth

'Mid darkness and decay; those smile* tte

press, Like the gay crowd ronnd, are not happum For peace broods quiet on her dovrli

wings, And this false gaiety a radiance flings. Dazzling but hiding not; and some »l

dwelt Upon her meteor-beauty, sadness felt; Its very brilliance spoke the fercr'd bract Thus glitter not the waters when at rest

The scene is changed, the maiden is ilw To brood upon Hope's temple overthrsvi: The hue hns left her lip, the light her rye. And she has flung her down as if to dir. Back from her forehead was the rich hair

swept. Which yet its festal braid of roses kept She was in solitude: the silent room Was in the summer's sweet and shadow

gloom; The sole light from the oratory came. Where a small lamp sent forth its scratch

flame Beneath the Virgin's picture; bnt the wist Stole from the casement, for the jasrabx.

twined With its luxuriant bonghs, too thickly grew. To let the few dim star-beams 'wand.'

through. In her hand was a rose; she held the flown As if her eye were spell-bound by its power. It was spell-bound; coldly that flower

repress'd Sweet hopes,-—ay, hopes, albeit uneonfrss't Check'd, vainly check'd, the bitter grief

recurs— That rose flung down because that rose ww

hers! And at the thought paleness in blnshes flrs. Had he, then, read her heart, and scors d

when read? Oh! better perish, than endure that thought She started from her couch; when her eye

caught The Virgin's picture. Seem'd it that she task Part in her votary's suffering; the look Spoke mild reproof, touch'd with graft

tenderness, Pitying her grief, yet blaming her excess. Olympia turn'd away, she might not bear To meet such holy brow, such placid air. At least not yet; for she must teach her

breast A lesson of submission, if not rest, And still each throbbing pulse, ere she might

kneel And pray for peace she had not sought to


She sought the casement, lured by the soft light Of the young moon, now rising on the night.

The cool breeze kiss'd her, and a jasmine-
Caught in her tresses, as to woo her stay.
And there were sights and sounds that well

might fling
A charmed trance on deepest sull'ering.
For stood the palace close on the sea-shore;
Not like those northern ones, where breakers

roar, And rugged rocks and barren sands are

blent,— At once both desolate and magnificent; But there the beach had turf, and trees that

grew Down to the water-side, and made its blue Mirror for their dark shapes. Is nought so

fair But must there come somewhat of shadow

there? Whate'er thou touches! there must be sonic

shade. Fair earth, such destiny for thee is made.

It was a night to gaze upon the sea, Marvel, and envy its tranquillity; It was a night to gaze upon the earth, And feel mankind were not her favourite

birth; It was a night to gaze upon the sky, Pine for its loveliness, and pray to die. Olymfia felt the hour; from her cheek fled Passion's untrnnquil rose, she bow'd her head: For the thick tears like hasty childhood's

came; She hid her face, for tears arc shed with

shame. Her heart had spent its tempest, like the

cloud When summer-rain bursts from its stormy

shroud; Pale, sad, but calm, she turn'd, and bent

the knee, In meekest prayer, Madonna fair, to thee. Where might the maiden's soul, thus crush'd

and riven, Turn from its mortal darkness.hu t to Heaven? It is in vain to sny that love is not The life and colour of a woman's lot. It is her strength; for what, like love's caress, Will guard and guide her own weak tenderness? It is her pride, fleeting and false the while, To see her master suing for her smile. Calls it not all her best affections forth,— Pure faith,d«'votedness,whose fruitless worth Is all too little felt? Oh! man has power Of head and hand, — heart is a woman's


Youth, beauty, rank, and wealth, all these combined,— Can these be wretched? Mystery of the mind! Whose happiness is in itself, but still Has not that happiness at its own will.

And she was wretehed; she, the young,

the fair, The good, the kind, bow'd down in her

despair. Ay, bitterest of the bitter, this worst pain,— To know love's offering has been in vain; Rejected, senrn'd, and trampled under foot, Its bloom and leaves destroy'd,not so its root. He leu es me not,— no other word or sound An echo in Oimru's bosom found. She thought on many a look, and many a

tone, From which she gather'd hope,—now these

were gone. Life were too burthensome, save that it led To death; and peace, at least, was with the

dead. One pang remain'd: perchance, though uu

confrss'd, Some secret hope yet lingcr'd in her breast; But this too was destroy'd. She learn'd next

morn Sea-winds and waters had Leoni borne Afar to other lands; and she had now But only to her hapless fate to bow.

She changed, she faded, she the young,

the gay, Like the first rose Spring yields to pale decay. Still her lip wore the sweetness of a smile, But it forgot its gaiety the while. Her voice had ever a low gentle tone, But now 't was tremulous ns Sorrow's own; Her step fell softer as it were subdued To suit its motion to her altcr'd mood; As if her every movement, gesture, look, Their bearing from the spirit's sadness took; And yet there was no word which told that

grief Prey'd on the heart as blight preys on the

leaf. But meeker tenderness to those around, A soothing, sharing love, as if she found Her happiness in theirs; more mild, more

kind, As if a holier rule were on her mind. I cannot choose but marvel at the way In which our lives pass on, from day to day Learning strange lessons in the human heart, And yet like shadows letting them departIs misery so familiar that we bring Ourselves to view it as a usual thing? Thus is it; how regardless pass wc by The cheek to paleness worn, the heavy eye! We do too little feel each other's pain; We do relax too much the social chain That binds us to each other; slight the canThere is for grief in which we have no share.

Olympia felt all this; it loosed one more Of her hcart'i, ties, and earth's illusions

* wore The aspect of their truth,—a gloomy show, But what it well befits the soul to know.

It taught the lesson of how vain the toil To build our hopes upon earth's fragile soil. Oh! only those who suffer, those may know How much of piety will spring from woe.

Days, weeks, and months pass'd onwards, and once more

Lboni stood upon his native shore.

Slight change there was in him: perchance his brow

Wore somewhat of more settled shadow now;

Somewhat of inward grief, too, though repress'd.

Was in his scornful speech and bitter jest;

For misery, like a masquer, mocks at all

In which it has no part, or one of gall.

I will say that he loved her, but say not

That his, like hers, was an all-blighted lot;

For ever in man's bosom will man's pride

An equal empire with his love divide.

It was one glorious sunset, lone and mute, Save a young page who sometimes waked

his lute With snatches of sad song; Leoni paced His stately hall, and much might there be

traced What were the workings of its owner's mind. Kcd wine was in a silver vase enshrined, But rudely down the cup was flung.undrain'd, So hastily, the leaf below was stnin'd; For many an open'd volume lay beside, As each for solace had in vain been tried: And now, worn, wearied, with his solitude, He strode, half sad, half listless in his mood, Listening the lute or the deep ocean-wave, When an attendant enter'd in and gave A packet to his hand. Careless he gazed, And broke the seal. Why! the red flush

has raised

Its passion to his brow—what! is the name There written ? — from Olyhpia, then, it


"One word, Leoni, 't is my first and last, And never spoken but that life is past. It is earth's lingering dreaming, that I pine To know these lines will meet one look of

thine; If possible upon thy heart to fling One gentle memory, one soft thought to cling To thy more mournful hours; to bid thee take A pledge too dearly treasured for thy sake, And one of m'ne. Ah! this may be forgiven; 'T is the last weakness of the bride of Heaven, Which I shall be or ere this comes to tell How much thou hast been loved. Farewell,


He took her gift: well known the pledges

there, A withcr'd rose, a-tress of silken hair.

Sunny and blue was the minstrel's eye.
Like the lake when noontide is passing bj:
And his hair fell down in its golden ring*.
As bright and as soft as his own harp -s trior •
Yet with somewhat wild upon lip and chut
As forth the enthusiast spirit would br«ak
To wander at times through earth and air.
And feed upon all the wonders there.
A changeful prelude his light notes rung.
As remembering all they bad ever song.
Now the deep numbers rolled along.
Like the fiery sweep of a battle-song;
Now sad, yet bold, as those numbers gaTr
Their last farewell to the victor's grave;
Then was it soft and low, as it brought
The depths of the maiden's lovelorn

Harp of Erin! hath song a tone
Not to thy gifted numbers known ?—
But the latest touch was light and calm.
As the voice of a hymn, the night -fallinr

balm; Holy and sweet, as its music were givea Less from a vision of earth than of heaves



Rosb up the young moon; back she flung

The veil of clouds that o'er her hung:

Thus would fair maiden fling aside

Her bright curls in their golden pride;

On pass'd she through the sky of bine,

Lovelier as she pass'd it grew;

At last her gentle smiles awake

The silence of the azure lake.

Lighted to silver, waves arise,

As conscious of her radiant eyes.

Hark! floats around it music's tone,

Sweeter than mortal ear hath known:

Such, when the sighing night-wind grieves

Amid the rose's ruby leaves,

Conscious the nightingale is nigh,

That too soon his reluctant wing

Must rival song and rival sigh

To his own fair flower bring;

Such as the lute, touch'd by no hand

Save by an angel's, wakes and weeps;

Such is the sound that now to land

From the charmed water sweeps.

Around the snowy foam-wreaths break,

The spirit band are on the lake.

First, a gay train form'd of the hues

Of morning-skies and morning-dews:

A saffron-light around them play'd

As eve's last cloud with them delay'd;

Such tints, when gazing from afar,

The dazed eye sees in midnight-star.

They scatter'd flowers, and the stream

Grew like a garden, each small billow

Shining with the crimson gleam

The young rose flung upon its pillow;

And from their hands, and from their hair,
Blossoms and odours fill'd the air;
And some of them bore wreathed shells,
Blush-dyed, from their coral cells,
Whence the gale at twilight brought
The earliest lesson music caught:
And gave they now the sweetest tone,
That unto sea-born lyre was known;
For they were echoes to the song
That from spirit-lips was fleeting.
And the wind bears no charm along
Such as the shell and voices meeting.
On pass'd they to the lulling tune,
Meet pageant for' the lady moon.
A louder sweep the music gave:
The chieftain of the charmed wave,
Graceful upon his steed of snow,
Kises from his blue halls below;
And rode he like a victor knight
Thrice glorious in his arms of light-
But, oh! the look his features bear
"Was not what living warriors wear;
The glory of his piercing eye
"Wan not that of mortality;
Earth's cares may not such calm allow,
Man's toil is written on his brow:
But here the face was passionless,
The holy peace of happiness,
With that grave pity spirits feel
In watching over human weal;
An awful beauty round him shone
But for the good to look upon.
Close by his side a maiden rode,
Like spray her white robe round herflow'd;
No rainbow-hues about her clung,
Such as the other maidens flung;
And her hair hath no summer-crown,
But its long tresses floating down
Arc like a veil of gold which cast
A sunshine to each wave that past.
She was not like the rest: her cheek
Was pale and pure as moonlight snows;
Her lip had only the faint streak
The bee loves in the early rose;
And her dark eye had not the blue
The others had clear, wild, and bright;
But floating starry, as it drew
Its likeness from the radiant night.
And more she drew my raised eye
Than the bright shadows passing by;
A meeker air, a gentler smile,
A timid tenderness the while,
Held sympathy of heart, and told
The lady was of earthly mould.
Blush'd the first blush of coming day,
Faded the fairy-band away.
They pass'd, and only left behind
A lingering fragrance on the wind,'
And on the lake, their haunted home,
One long white wreath of silver foam.
Heard I in each surrounding vale
'What was that mortal maiden's tale:
Last of her race, a lonely flower,
She dwelt within their ruin'd tower.
Orphan without one link to bind
Nature's ail'ection to her kind;

She grew up a neglected child,

As pure, as beautiful, as wild

As the field-flowers which were for years

Her only comrades and compeers.

Time pass'd, and she, to woman grown,

Still, like a wood-bird, dwelt alone.

Save that, beside a peasant's hearth,

Tales of the race which gave her birth

Would sometimes win the maiden's ear;

And once, in a worst hour of fear,

When the red fever raged around,

Her place beside the couch was found

Of sickness, and her patient care,

And soothing look, and holy prayer,

And skill in herbs, had power sublimo

Upon the sufferer's weary time:

But, saving these, her winter-day

Was pass'd within the ruins gray;

And ever summer-noons were spent

Beside the charmed lake, and there

Her voice its silver sweetness sent

To mingle with the air.

Thus time pass'd on. At length, one day

Beside her favourite haunt she lay.

When rush'd some band who wish'd to

make Her prisoner for her beauty's sake.

She saw them ere they gain'd her scat. Ah! safety may she gain? Though mountain-deer be not more fleet, Yet here flight is in vain. The lake—oh, it is there to save! She plunges—is it to a grave? Moons waned; again is come the night When sprites are free for earthly sight. They see the mortal maiden ride In honour by the chieftain's side, So beautiful, so free from sin, Worthy was she such boon to win: The spirit-race that floated round Were not more pure, more stainless found; Her utmost loveliness and grace Were sole signs of her human race: Happy, thus freed from earthly thrall, She skims the lake, fairest of all.

Scarlet robe broider'd with gold;
A turban's snowy, but gem-set fold,
And its heron-plume fasten'd by diamond-
Rubies red on his dagger-hasp;
Eyes dark as a midnight-dream,
Yet flashing wild with starry beam;
Swarthy cheek untoueh'd by red,
Told far had Clkmbnza's summons sped:
Since the Moorish bard had brought his

claim, 'Mid these Northern halls, to the meed of fame.

« ПредишнаНапред »