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DARREL'S AISLE.*

Fortè fuit juxtà tumulus, quo cornea summo
Virgulta, et densis bastilibus horrida myrtus.

ÆNEID, lib. ii. 23.

I.
Time is not always what he seems;

His hand though stern, his step though sure,
He yet preserves Tradition's dreams,

Nay-lends them a tradition more.
I see before me Darrel's Aisle-

Its Gothic porch, and studded door;
Its dull old window, whence no smile
From sunbeam, hath dispell’d the shade
By outward alder-branches made,
Its cold and vapour fretted walls,
Whose dampness on the gazer falls :
Its massive monuments within:

Its stain upon the sculptur'd stone,

That peasants say is blood alone,
The red recording blood of Sin!
I see them still, the porch, the aisle,
The tomb, the blood, and deem the while,
Although swift change on change be wrought,
There never can be change to thought !

II.
Yet I am changed :-in joy, in strength,

In hope, in heart, and in desire ;
Desponding Care hath quench'd at length

The embers of the former fire
That young Ambition nursed within,

And bade me still, and still aspire
Some meed of proud renown to win :-
I look not to the future now,
But bend with meditative brow
O’er dreary shadows of the past,
Where all is dim, though not o'ercast:
Till every thought and every theme

Of Childhood's rosy-cinctured years
Hath grown into myself:-a dream

Too spiritualized for human tears !
O Spirit of the Past !-be mine!--
Behold, I gather for thy shrine
The choicest offerings boyhood knew

Of Fancy, and of Feeling's flowers :
Which have not lost their early hue,
Which still are odorous and true,

Though broken from their parent-bowers :
Which droop not, faint not, fall not :-see,
Sweet Spirit! what I cull for thee.
* See Notes to Rokeby, for the Legend of Littlecote Hall.

III.

Approach, Tradition !-give thy hand

Thou stern, old, melancholy seer;
By Darrel's tomb in thought we stand,

In thought dark Darrel's aspect near :
Approach, and whisper o'er thy tale,

It haply may awake a tear,
If Memory may aught prevail
Thy sleeping tenderness to thrill
With feeling unforgotten still!
Oh! if it be of broken vows,
That like the lonely forest boughs
Bewail 'midst each autumnal wind
The withered young leaves of their kind:
Or if it be of hopes departed,
Of Virtue pining broken-hearted,
Of Merit humbled, Meanness proud,
Or Genius starving in the crowd :
I would weep then, unsham’d to show
The weakness of a woman's woe!

IV.

'Tis none of these—the gloomy tale

That slumbers in your silent aisle ;
Yet will it blanche the fair cheek pale,

And tame the lightest-hearted smile :
For there Tradition cloked in guilt,

And crown'd by Parricide the while :
Points sternly where those blood-drops spilt,
Cry heaven wards with as loud a tongue,
As when, his exil'd paths among,
Mankind's primeval murderer cried,
A conscience-smitten fratricide!
O Boyhood !-in thy early spring
That crimson tale went whispering
Of her, whose love was quench'd in dust
By one who mock'd its purer trust:
And ill-repaid its offerings sweet

With fierce and unrelenting heart,
And crush'd its pledge beneath his feet,

Mad actor of a monstrous part!
A sweet pledge nipped, ere deepening day
Had laughed its infancy away!

V.

Of her th’unknown:-yet haply fair

And young too as the smiling morn,
With craving looks of fondness there

Towards her lovely eldest born:
Oh! deem ye not her sick despair

Rose shrill as bittern's cry forlorn,
When dark-browed Darrel madly tore
The child of her he loved no more,
And dash'd it in the dancing flame:

Enough:-his victim hath no name,
Dec. 1835,-VOL. XIV.NO. LVI.

DD

No record of her beauty, none
Of what her fate, or how was won
Her heart, that unconsider'd boon,
Nor when she died, or late, or soon,

No record save her shame!

VI.

Here Darrel sleeps: if he can sleep,

Whose crime yet bears th’ Avenger's seal,
Above whose head cold vapours weep,

And wakeful fiends on tiptoe steal
To watch beside their brother's tomb,

And ’mid their impious orgies reel !
Here Darrel sleeps : but Darrel's doom
Is still shriek'd forth when midnight throws
Her curtain o'er the Earth's repose,
By laughing fiends from wood and glen,
Where fir-trees wave, where stagnant fen
Or black morass with false fires gleam
O'er hill and dale, and tower and stream:
And years may go, as years have gone,
'Till Time his last stage lags upon;
And tears may fall, and sighs may break,
And hearts grow chill for Terror's sake;
And prayers may rise to Heaven again
To wipe from Darrel's tomb the stain,
But Time hath failed, and all is vain !

VII.

Sweet Spirit of the Past !—thy song
The vale of early hours along

Hath paus'd in one remember'd note!
As sweet as the melodious lay
That breaks amid the forest spray

From Philomela's throat !
And in that pause, upon that lay
Is borne the burthen of a day,
When Feeling's uncorrupted youth
Was fresh in hope, and fair in truth!
When Friendship sought thy rustic porch,
Thou dear, romantic Village Church'!
When Emulation led along
A laughing and a happy throng,
When Thought partook no deeper dye
Than pastime's rosy chivalry,
And Pleasure danced before the eye
In unforgotten Ramsbury !

W.G. T. Sept. 18th, 1835.

THOUGHTS ON THE POET TASSO.

BY MRS. CRAWFORD.

“ Con la penna e con la spada

Nessun val quanto Torquato."

Of all the Italian poets, nay, of all poets, Tasso appears to me the most interesting ; inasmuch as that genius, though it form the chief and most attractive charm in others, was in him but a bright jewel, blending with, but never outshining, the splendour of his bosom gems, religion, and morality. That divinity that breathed in the soul of Tasso, seemed to have touched, as with holy fire, every passion of his heart, making it like the genial spring, expand into the glowing promise of a future Eden.

Beyond the two characters, of a poet and a lover, Tasso has been too little appreciated : for when we contemplate the picture truth presents of this great man—when we see his humility in all that regards himself, his noble concedence of the palm to others, his generous forgiveness of enemies, and trusting confidence in friends, to which was added a perfect love of God, and submissive reliance on that allwise Providence that led him on his way to heaven, while yet captive in a cell at Ferrara—when, I say, we contemplate these rare gifts of a rare virtue, do not the great poet and the adoring lover form but bright reflections of his sun of mind, and instead of crowning Tasso, make him to crown them.

Some of the pleasantest excursions my fancy ever took, were to the sunny regions of poetic Italy, to accompany the melancholy Tasso from the myrtle bowers of his boyhood, to the dark precincts of his tomb-like cell. With what delight have we tarried at Sorrento, to witness the baptism of the boy Torquato, in whose fairy lineaments the all-searching eye of maternal love could not read the glory of the future man. When, disdaining ease, he follows the fortunes of his wandering sire, how sweetly do we trace the golden promise of the poet, in that early dedication of genius to nature, in which he so beautifully commemorates his first parting with that first friend, his mother.

“ Ma dal sen de la madre empia fortuna

Pargoletto divelse, ab di' que' baci
Ch'ella bagno di lagrime dolenti
Con sospir mi rimembra, e de gli ardenti
Preghi che sen portar l'aure fugaci,
Che i' non dovea giunger più volto à volto
Fra quelle braccia accolto
Con nodi cosi stretti, e si tenaci,
Lasso, e seguij con mal sicure piante

Qual' Ascanio, o Camilla il padre errante.”
Amid the academic shades of Padua we next see him, with the

youthful Scipio Gonzaga, * about his own age, discoursing of abstruse points, or bending an humble and attentive ear to others, older than his dear associate in mental labour. Sometimes his fair and elevated brow relaxes of its philosophic character ; and light, the light of heavenly poesy, puts to fight the logic of the law : and then his deep blue serious eye gathers into laughing sunshine ; and anon into tears, that gush, like healthful springs, cherishing the heart that yields them.

Again, what magic scenes of splendor and of gaiety have I conjured up, in my moonlight rambles to Ferrara! Its lighted halls echoing the music of a thousand dulcet strings, its paradisian gardens, storied temples, delicious fountains, and winding walks of myrtle, and of orange trees, whose golden fruitage realizes the fable of the sweet Hesperides. There Tasso sate, and loved the rosy hours away: there made close fellowship with nature, and whispered to the musky breeze that stole his sighs, the name of Leonora. There we behold him, that “prince of song,” sitting at the feet of his bright lady love, who was to him "a crystal-girded shrine," + yet who, with all her beauty, rank, and learning, owes immortality to Tasso's song. Oh, idle boast of human pride! what are all the proud array, the pageant pomp of meretricious greatness, to simple unattended genius ? The mighty duke, the regal Alphonso, with all the splendour of his state-his costly palaces, gay court, and kingly banquetings-- how inferior to the homeless, fortuneless, and untitled Tasso! who thinks of the prince when Tasso appears ? who listens to the ducal speaker, when the eloquent lips of the bard breathe upon the ear? Or who that could be Tasso, would be the Prince of Ferrara ?

Immortal genius! On thy buoyant wing,
Thou springest upward to the stars of light,
Transforming in thy flight the meanest thing
Thy keen eye glances on, to something bright,
And beautiful to fancy! thou canst fling
Elysium o'er the desert, and make gloom
Enamoured of her tears : who would not wear
Thy radiant coronal, and argent plume,
And count the kingly robe beyond compare,
Inferior to the Tyrian of thy loom?
Thou god-like attribute! celestial gift!
Linking our human nature to divine,
If, to the great high priest of all, we lift
The soul he kindled at his holy shrine,
And, like Italia's bard, awake the string

To strains supernal spirits love to sing ! When escaping from his prison at Ferrara, Tasso flies like another Bias," | with what pleasure we renew our pilgrimage; and accompany the fugitive in his flight over rugged plain and mountain steep, sometimes following the dizzy path of the wild chamois, at others travers. ing the rocky vale, where cloistered walls invite the bard to rest !

Afterwards cardinal ; with this nobleman Tasso contracted that early friendship which ended but with bis life. + Byron's “ Lament of Tasso."

Tasso's words.

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