« AnteriorContinuar »
Be scatteı'd like the April rains of Heaven ::
And may your tender words, whispered at even,
Be woven into music; and, as the wind
Leaves when it flies a sweetness still behind,
When distant, may each silver sounding tone
Weigh on the other's heart, and bring (tho' gone)
The absent back; and may no envy sever
Your joys, but may each love-be loved for ever.
Now, as I write, lo! thro' my window streams
The midnight moon-crescented Dian, who
'Tis said once wandered from her wastes of blue,
And all for love ; filling a shepherd's dreams
With beauty and delight. He slept, he slept,
And on his eyelids white the huntress wept
Till morning; and looked thro', on nights like this,
His lashes dark, and left her dewy kiss.
But never more upon the Latmos hill
May she descend to kiss that forest boy,
And give-receive gentle and innocent joy,
When clouds are distant far, and winds are still ::
Her bound is circumscribed, and curbed her will.
Those were immortal stories :-are they gone ?
The pale queen is dethroned. Endyinion
Hath vanished ; and the worship of this earth
Is bowed to golden gods of vulgar birth.' pp. 58–59. The succeeding and tragical part of the story is perhaps the least skilfully managed. Marcian, wandering one day, in his bridal joy, is appalled by the sudden apparition of Julia's first, husband, who turns out not to have been effectually drowned -and instantly flies with her in distraction from the Italian shore. The following description of their disastrous voyage is the most powerful piece of poetry that has yet proceeded from Mr Cornwall's pen-and might do honour to any name that now graces our literature.
-The day-light sank, and the winds wailed about
The barque wherein the luckless couple lay,
And from the distant cloud came scattering out
Rivers of fire ; it seemed as though the day
Had burst from out the billows, far away.
No pilot had they their small boat to steer
Aside from rocks, no sea-worn mariner
Who knew each creek and bay and sheltering steep.
- The storm continued, and no voice was heard,
Save that of some poor solitary bird,
Which sought a shelter on the quivering mast,
But soon borde off by the tremendous blast
Sank in the waters screaming. The great se
Bared like a grave its bosom silently;
Then sank and panted like an angry thing,
With its own strength at war: The vessel flew
Towards the land, and then the billows grew
Larger and white, and roared as triumphing,
Scattering afar and wide the heavy spray
That shone like loose snow as it passed away.
-At first the dolphin and the porpoise dark
Came rolling by them, and the hungry shark
Followed the boat, patient and eager-eyed,
And the gray curlew slanting dipped her side
And the hoarse gull his wing within the foam ;
But some had sank, the rest had hurried home.
And there pale Julia and her husband, clasped
Each in the other's arms, sate viewing Death:
She for his sake at times in terror gasped,
But he to cheer her kept his steady breath,
Talking of hope, and smiled like morning, There
They sate together in their sweet despair:
At times upon his breast she laid her head,
And he upon her silent beauty fed,
Hushing her fears-and 'tween her and the storm
Drew his embroidered cloak to keep her warm :
She thanked him with a look upturned to his,
The which he answered with a gentle kiss
Pressed and prolonged to pain. Her lip was cold ;
And all her love and terror mutely told.-
O thou vast Ocean! Ever sounding Sea !
Thou symbol of a drear immensity!
Thou thing that windest round the solid world
Like a huge animal, which, downward hurl'd
From the black clouds, lies weltering and alone,
Lashing and writhing till its strength be gone.
Thy voice is like the thunder, and thy sleep
Is as a giant's slumber, loud and deep.
Thou speakest in the East and in the West
At once, and on thy heavily laden breast
Fleets come and go, and shapes that have no life
Or motion yet are moved and meet in strife.
The earth hath nought of this : no chance nor change
Ruffles its surface, and no spirits dare
Give answer to the tempest-waken air;
But o'er its wastes the weakly tenants range
At will, and wound its bosom as they go :
Ever the same, it hath no ebb, no flow ;
But in their stated rounds the seasons come,
And pass like visions to their viewless home,
And come again, and vanish: the young Spring
Looks ever bright with leaves and blossoming,
And Winter always winds his sullen horn,
When the wild Autumn with a look forlorni
Dies in his stormy manhood; and the skies
Weep and flowers sicken when the Summer flies.
Oh! wonderful thou art, great element :
And fearful in thy spleeny humours bent,
And lovely in repose : thy summer form
Is beautiful, and when thy silver waves
Make music in earth's dark and winding caves,
I love to wander on thy pebbled beach,
Marking the sunlight at the evening hour,
And larken to the thoughts thy waters teach-
• Eternity, Eternity, and Power.'
And now-whither are gone the lovers now?
Colonna, wearest thou anguish on thy brow,
And is the valour of the moment gone ?
Fair Julia, thou art smiling now alone:
The hero and the husband weeps at last-
Alas, alas ! and lo! he stands aghast,
Bankrupt in every hope, and silently gasps
Like one who maddens. Hark! the timbers part
And the sea-billows come, and still he clasps
His pale pale beauty, closer to his heart,
The ship has struck. One kiss--the last--Love's own.
---They plunge into the waters and are gone.
The vessel sinks,-'tis vanished, and the sea
Rolls boiling o'er the wreck triumphantly,
And shrieks are heard and cries, and then short groans,
Which the waves stifle quick, and doubtful tones
Like the faint moanings of the wind pass by,
And horrid gurgling sounds rise op and die,
And noises like the choaking of man's breath
But why prolong the tale--it is of death.' pp. 70–76. But they do not die.-- They are succoured on the beach by fishermen-and Marcian becomes a fisherman himself, and lives for some time in happy lowliness, till a second vision of the former husband drives them again to an inland retreat near his old prison of Laverna. There poor Julia learns, somehow, for the first time, that this ill-sorted mate is still alive, and that she cannot be the lawful wife of Marcian; and rejects his society, and prays to be allowed to retire to a nunnery and die;but he, inflamed with love and madness and despair, administers poison to her, and watches her placid end, and then disappears, like the Corsair, for ever.
This longer poem is followed by three Dramatic Scenes—the first of which, on the death of Julian the Apostate, is the most dignified ;-- the second, called “ Amelia Wentworth,' the most
pathetic and poetical;--and the last, entitled “ The Rape of Proserpine,' a very spirited and beautiful imitation of the higher and more fanciful strains of the antient drama. Of this, as the more rare and difficult attempt, we shall give a short specimen. Proserpine is distributing her flowers very poetically to her attendant nymphs, in the florid vale of Enna, when the chariot of the grisly king comes rolling from the earth. The Semichorus then sings
Mark him as he moves along
Drawn by horses black and strong,
Such as may belong to Night
"Ere she takes her morning Alight.
Now the chariot stops : the god
On our grassy world hath trod :
Like a Titan steppeth he,
Yet full of his divinity.
On his mighty shoulders lie .
Raven locks, and in his eye
A cruel beauty, such as none
Of us may wisely look upon.
Proser. He comes indeed. How like a god he looks !
Terribly lovely-Shall I shun his eye
Which even here looks brightly beautiful?
What a wild leopard glance he has.--I am
Jove's daughter, and shall I then deign to fly? .
I will not : yet, methinks, I fear to stay.
Come, let us go, Cyane.
Pluto. Stay, oh! stay.
Proserpina, Proserpina, I come
From my Tartarean kingdom to behold you.
The brother of Jove am I. I come to say
Gently, beside this blue Sicilian stream,
How much I love you, fair Proserpina.
Think me not rude that thus at once I tell
My passion. I disarm me of all power;
And in the accents of a man I sue,
Bowing before your beauty. Brightest maid !
Let me-still unpresuning--say I have
Roamed through the earth, where many an eye hath smiled
In love upon me, tho' it knew me not;
But I have passed free from amongst them all,
To gaze on you alone. I might have clasped
Lovely and royal maids, and throned queens,
Sea nymphs, and airy shapes, that glide along
Like light across the hills, or those that make
Mysterious music in the desert woods,
Or lend a voice to fountains, or to caves,
Or answering hush the river's sweet reproach
Oh! I've escaped from all, to come and tell
How much I love you, sweet Proserpina.
Come with me, away, away,
Fair and young Proserpina.
You will die unless you flee,
Child of crowned Cybele.
Think not of his eyes of fire,
Nor his wily heart's desire,
Nor the locks that round his head
Run like wreathed snakes, and fling
A shadow o'er his eyes glancing ;
Nor, the dangerous whispers hung,
Like honey, roofing o'er his tongue.
But think of all thy Mother's glory-
Of her love of every story
Of the cruel Pluto told, i
And which grey Tradition old,
With all its weight of grief and crime,
Hath plucked from out the grave of Time.
Once again I bid thee flee,
Daughter of great Cybele.' pp. 150–153. The Miscellaneous Poems are full of beauty and feeling; and we should be tempted, if we had room, to extract the most of them. The following lines, on a remembered Voice, are very sweet and fanciful.
• Oh! what a voice is silent. It was soft
As mountain-echoes, when the winds aloft-
The gentle winds of summer meet in caves ;
Or when in sheltered places the white waves
Are 'wakened into music, as the breeze
Dimples and stems the current : or as trees
Shaking their green locks in the days of June :
Or Delphic girls when to the maiden moon
They sang harmonious pray’rs : or sounds that come
(However near) like a faint distant hum
Out of the grass, from which mysterious birth
We guess the busy secrets of the earth.
Like the low voice of Syrinx, when she ran
Into the forests from Arcadian Pan:
Or sad Enone's, when she pined away
For Paris, or (and yet ’twas not so gay)
As Helen's whisper when she came to Troy,
Half sham'd to wander with that blooming boy:
Like air-touch'd harps in flowery casements hung;
Like unto lovers' ears the wild words sung