[from Island Minstrelsy, 1839]
The hearttbe gifted heart,
Who may reveal its depths to human sight'.
'TWAS midnight's hourmidnight, intense and deep ;
And deepest silence overwhelmingly
Fell on the startled soul. Silence as dread
As that which reigns,Oh ! how oppressively!
In the dim chamber where the sheeted dead
Pass the first night of their eternal sleep ;
Whilst flickering tapers shed a sickly glare,
Like to the corpselights amid Stygian fens
Showing lost souls the depths of Erebus.
So did dark silence reign. Not one pale star
Hung out its beacon o'er a slumbering world;
Not one pale ray lit the far distant barque;
Not one faint beam cheered the lone mariner,
Or warned him from the rock which made his fate;
Not one wild gust came drear or sobbingly
In sighing whispers:all the world was still,
In slumber deep, in undisturbed repose.
The world !the world! There is one stormy world
That sleeps not everever! 'Tis the world
Within the human breast; 'tis the wild thoughts
Which ceaselessly revolve; the hopes, the fears,
And untold feverings ! The world! Alas,
What is the visible world to that within
The feeble precincts of the human breast!
The busy strife, confliction that destroys
Conflicts more fierce than elemental shocks !
Storms of the passions ! Oh ! how much more fierce
Tempests that desolate eternally!
What storms may rage like those within the soul !
* * * *
Holm Peel! gray glory of the Kings of Mann,
Where hoary Germaine's mantles o'er the deep,
In proud enthronement o'er the billowy surge.
Abode of ocean princes! In that vault,
Where day nor human comfort enters in
To lighten its mysterious cavernings,
Death-bed of hope, and key-stone of despair,
Where groans of anguish combat evermore
With the wild tempest's howl and ocean's din.
There, at dead midnight's hour, a mourner knelt
A fair and fragile form of loveliness,
Fair as a being of the spirit world
With her pale brow uprais'd, and white hands clasp'd
Upon a throbless breast.Knelt! ay, she knelt
Upon the cold coarse earth, the hard damp earth,
With her white garments floating wildlily,
And her long tresses, ebon as night's brow,
Streaming dishevell'dly around her form.
* * * *
There was deep silence. Silently the father rose,
And, bending o'er the fainting Adelaide,
That monument of eld blessed the pale girl
In accents deep and fervent ; blessed her,
And bade her soul take comfort; blessed her,
And in that kind calm " Benedicte!"
Nature and habit strove for mastery.
Feeling, not yet subdued, spake from his eye
Passion!Oh! who can lay that dream to rest!
Passion! Alas ! the father well had proved
The might of exquisite feeling; and his mind
Still, still would roamschooled the' it long had been
Still would it wander to the fair young hours
Of firstlastdeathless love.
Cold years went by,
And made the passionate youth a joyless man,
Withered in heart and soul: his dearest hopes
Had smiled to mock him, and he altered then.
Then he grew fearful in his spirit's strife
For power and mastery o'er his evil fate,
Until the ministers of destiny,
Appalled, fled, and quailed beneath the might
Of man's celestial naturenever lost
Whilst he resists the impulse which would hurl
Him downward, downward to the dread abyss.
* * * *
There be some smouldering ruins that will wake
From out the ashes of the blacken'd pyre,
And bursting into gusts of withering flame
Shed desolation round their last fierce fight;
Mocking the feeble breath that fanned them first
Into destruction's fiery minister;
And then amid the wreck, the fearful wreck,
Die with a hiss of triumph, like the yell
Of fiends in mockery;some will burn
Silently, silently into nothingness.
* * * *
He, that gray father, rose; and blessing her,
Bade her look up to heaven; ay, bade her raise
Her wild and waste affections from the earth
Unto the only Changeless. Then she wept.
"My child!my Adelaide ! Oh, is it thus
We meet again ? Thouthou so young
To be the jest of ruthless misery?
Look up, look up to heaven, my meekest lamb;
Believeconfessrelieve thy gentle breast ;
The bitter rod of anguish beareth hopes
That shine and brighten to eternal day;
Sorrow hath spirithealing on its wings;
The teaching is of God. My child !my child !
Relieve thy weary heart, and be at rest;
Meekly and patiently.abide His will,
Whose mandates all are love,yea, truest love.
Mother of God, be with us !we confess!"
* * * *
One long convulsive sob, one heavy pause,
One audible shudder, and poor Adelaide
Back from her marble brow cast the thick veil,
Pure in its snowy lawn as her young heart,
And supplicatingdeeply, silently
Strength, and support, and comfort from above,
She gathered in her quick spasmodic breath
With a stern resolution, and her heart
Grew still as death with her determin'd thought:
True it did throb as one dark miniature
Pressed it in anguish; but 'twas stillgrew still
When that one gem, her sacred crucifix,
Replaced it o'er the throbbing;ay, 'twas still
And thenthen Adelaide told her sad tale.
* * * *
" Father! in life's young smiling morn,
Heaven willed it I should meet with one
To weave for me a wreath of thorn,
And place the searing chaplet on
A brow whose gaiety is gone;
But who, or where, or when, or how
He did become my destiny
I know not, need not, care not, now :
Father, I speak my soul to thee;
Absolve me of my misery!
" He had come to my girlhood's home,
A nameless stranger from afar;
Alas, why did he ever roam
My simple happiness to may!
Why lightest where the fickle are !
Did he not dwell, and love, and rove ?
Alas! he did become my star,
My lifemy joymy hopemy love !
The dearest earthly thing to me,
Whose love was deep idolatry.
" He had come to my summer bower
When blithe young birds were on the wing;
Where never since saw I one flower
But gave of him some shadowing
Some wild and sad imagining
Alas, it was a fatal hour,
The herald of approaching fate!
And came itcame it not with power,
The stroke that made me desolate ?
And tnrlled my laughing day to night,
To ever, everlasting blight
" I had known much of happiness,
The tranquil happiness of home;
There, there all smiled to soothe and bless,
And love and be beloved!my own!
There I had caught my spirit's tone
From the sweet echoes of the wild;
There my warm feelings all had grown
A free, fair, proud, untroubled child,
The world was all unknown to me
Save as a troubled history.
" I thought there were no darker hours,
I dreamed not of the evil days,
Amid the birds, the streams, the flowers,
The sunbeams, and the bright moon rays;
I had no thought of worldly ways,
Nor of the wiles of worldly men,
Nor of the meteor that betrays
Oh no !I feared not, dreamed not then
Life should be ought but fair and free,
All shadowless felicity.
1 was so joyous, that my heart
Bounded like young bird on the wing,
In whose wild song earth had no part
Save its bright spring, its rich green spring,
With not one note of sorrowing
All warmth, all ardency, all bliss,
Methought no future year might bring
Ought to blight thisto sadden this
Alas! that dream so pure, so bright,
Should meet with everlasting blight!
He came in sorrow. There was grief
Upon his manly brow; deep care,
The secret care which shuns relief
Had traced its deepest furrows there ;
A something that outdid despair
Convulsed him wildly; he was one
Moody and strange, and if there were
Some fitful bursts of mirth, 'twas gone
Sudden as sunlight from the grave,
Which shrines the all we pine to save.
He came in sadness. No one knew
The tenor of his history;
Yet, in his eye of intense blue
Was shadowed some cold mystery
Some tale of dark adversity ;
And the deep palor of his cheek
Was such any corpse might be;
Some fearful pang he might not speak
Seemed haunting his futurity;
They said it was some untold crime
Had made him old before his time.
They spake in darkness;but I knew
He was alone upon the earth;
And my wild girlhood's feelings grew
Unto his sorrows from my mirth
To such I felt that there was dearth
Of slightest kindness, word, or token;
Whate'er his fate, whate'er his birth,
I, only, felt his heart seem'd broken;
And oh! more need there might be one
To soothe, and bless and lean upon.
He knew I loved him!and my love
Was like the tendrils of the vine,
Clasping and clinging as they rove
So was their clinging like to mine;
So did elastically twine
My best pure feelings round and round
Him whom I almost made divine,
And worship'd with a love profound
Like moonrays o'er a midnight sea,
He was a guiding light to me.
" He knew I loved him!there were none
I yet had ever loved beside;
He knew he was the only one
With whom my feelings were allied,
For whom, in girlhood's laughing pride,
I would have braved the rude world's breath,
And sailed along its troubled tide
Firmly and fondly onto death;
My love was not the love of earth;
Oh, no! it claimed a higher birth.
" He came unto my home;he came
To hearts that he was cherish'd in;
Oh ! dearer than the brightest fame
Which our mortality can win
Was that lone stranger: ay, to sin
Was my idolatryof what?
Of dustof earthcorruptionhim !
This breast has anguish now for that;
But oh! when the first serpent smiled
Was notsay, was not Eve beguiled?
" He sate beside me at the hearth;
His accents ever echoed mine;
Oh! in the dance, the song, the mirth,
Our very souls would intertwine
They mingled at the household shrine
And where the bright Laburnum showers
its golden bloom at day's decline,
We wandered to the starry hours:
Enthusiastic from my birth,
I sought not, hoped not more from earth.
" He told me of the gay great world,
He told me of the lands afar;
With him I gazed on skies empearl'd
With many a bright and holy star;
With him I watched the silvery car
Of gentle Luna gliding high;
With him I roved to glens afar,
And watched the streamlet rippling by
There was nor bush, nor stream, nor flower,
But became hallowed from that hour.
" I, who had been so gay, so gay,
Grew sad and tearful for his sake;
All girlhood's mirth had passed away;
I schooled me, that I might partake
His troubled destiny, and make
My very beingshadowhis
All, all the live long night to wake
And muse and think of him was bliss
Yes! I who had been all of glee,
Grew mingled with his destiny.
" He wreathed my spirit with his own;
Existence hung upon his smile;
Now, spectres of those past flours moan
Within the heart's deserted pile,
Which every dark deluding wile
Combined to overthrow; and I
Father, how could I deem 'twas guile!
How could I gaze on that blue eye,
AndOh ! I feared not, dreamed not this;
I thought him what no mortal is.
" He knew I loved him!and he seemed
To dote upon my simple truth;
Oh, traitor! traitor!well he deemed
The thoughtless innocence of youth,
The passions of a girl, in sooth,
Rare toy for him to wreckto break
And well he wove them, warp and woof,
No other love to bear, to seek: '
Oh! I grew changed!life's light grew dim !
And all for him!oh! all for him!
" There was no chord within my breast.
But echoed to his tenderness;
Alas! unto his bosom prest,
Earth, air, and ocean seemed to bless.;
How could a simple rustic guess
Such burning tears were feignings vile ?
Who, in that manly tenderness
Could turn and trace hell's deepest guile?
Who, in those blissful heartwarm tears
Could read the misery of years ?
" He knew I loved him !there were none
He bore to see me look upon;
Alas, too deeply had lie won
Upon an unsuspecting one !
And if by chance I seemed to shun
The thrilling radiance of his look,
Then was his mood of darkness on
His very spirit inly shook;
Then would he frown, and start, and rave,
And bear him darkly as the grave.
" Why did he dupe me ?Why ensnare
A heart he thus would cease to prize ?
Why did he render to despair
A bosom that could not disguise
The love that never, never dies ?
Why did he thusay, thus repay
The kindness of a virtuous few
With grief, and anguish, and dismay,
And break the flow'ret where it grew ?
And plunge into a gulph of tears
The hopes, the happiness of years ?
"'Tis o'er ! When that the forest oak,
Round which the tender woodbine clung,
Is reft away by ruthless stroke,
The woodbine to the earth is flung,
With all its gentle verdure wrung
From out its feeble life ! it lies
Crushed to the earth;how fair, how young !
Its 'tale is told;'it dies, it dies !
Its only being torn away,
Its life's support;why should it stay ?
[XXII headng missing - printers error on new page ?]
" Father! so was my being bound
In that dark, strange, and fearful man ;
So warped my feelings round and round;
So fell I, crush'd beneath the ban
So did I wither, wretched, wan,
Without another stay on earth;
So, so since that mad love began
Grew I an alien in the mirth;
And so for him I weary grew
Of the bright earth, while yet 'twas new.
"'Tis vainhow vain!to dwell on such
Departed dreamings, or to tell
How wildly, sinfully, how much
I loved him!Loved him ? ay, too well!
Or how I gave up all to dwell
With his cold griefs, and firmly bear
His darkest mood without rebel,
And shape my youthful brow to care ;
Or how the world grew cold and dark,
And I became a shatter'd barque.
"'Tis o'er! 'tis o'er!the broken chain
Lies in the ashes; words were weak
To speak its history; ay, 'tis vain;
Such ,vretched'feelings may not speak
Of why the rose forsook the cheek,
Or why the lustre fled the eye,
Or why the truest heart did break ;
And nought remains but it to die
And shrine within an early rest
A bosom toooh! too unblest.
" Nay, holy father, it was vain
To turn me and repel the dart;
An everlasting age of pain
Lay woe and weary on my heart
A curse that never might depart:
'Twas all in vain;I strove to flee,
And in earth's toilings bear my part,
And rouse me from my misery.
The shaft hath been too truly sped
Which lays me with the early dead."
* * * *
She had told her tale : but its intensity
Of fearful memories forced up from her heart
What yet remained of life to her pale check
Her eyes burned strangely with unearthly light,
Till, with one fearful gasp, poor Adelaide
Fell to the altar's base;fell to the earth,
A lovely, wretched, shattered thing! ay, fell
Like a pale lily blighted by rude storms,
Broken and crushed, and never more to rise.
Oh! that is overwhelming which destroys
The heart's first deep enchantment! 'Tis a breath
Which desolates a world of gaudy hopes;
Ay, wrecks the fairy barque and glittering freight
Amid the billows of a mad despair.
Would that each human breast might seek the love,
The only love that knoweth no decay!
Love to repay the most devoted faith,
Most ardent worship, and unshrinking trust!
The cradled winds maintained their sluggish sleep
In sullen lethargy: and there alone
Watch'd the gray father by the stricken girl
There was no sound to break the solitude,
But surges round that drear confessional
And their retreating murmurs : but no word
Of healing consolation reached her ear,
For heart and hopes were still: there was no throb,
No fetter'd breathing:Nature could no more
She slept eternally !and the old man
Bent o'er "the early dead," and wept,ay, wept.
"Cold, my child!cold, cold, my Adelaide!
And silent, silent!Oh! it must be death!
Death?Dead?Could aught so fair yield to decay?
* * * *
"Castle of Peel!
within thy sturdy walls
Seemest thou to keep the court of misery
When shall thy dooms of evil be fulfilled?
When shall the groans of anguish cease to swell
Thro' thy wavegirdled dens of agony?
When shall fair Glo'ster's troubled spirit rest?
When shall pale Margaret's wrongs be all repaid?
When shall thy many scathed and broken hearts
Betake them to their graves untroubledly ?
Oh, thou most dark and drear confessional !
Thou vault of terrible dreamings !thy black roof
Is arched with horror ne'er to be forgot!
The groans of all thy victims shall be strong!
The midnight screams of anguish, on fierce wings,
Shall burst thy prisonings and lay thee low,
Thou bane of gentle woman's happiness!
And yetI rave !thou killed'st not Adelaide!
My child!my child ! My own !my sleeping one !
Do I in truth remember years when thou
Wert wont to chase the young and joyous hours
With dance and song awayand lightsome laugh
Betokening lighter heart and peaceful breast
The blythest elf that ever crossed the wold
With playful taunt and jest and bounding step?
Alas! thou wast a dreamer, even in mirth!
Thy droughts were ever as the rainbow's wing,
Coloured by heaven tints and embalmed in tears
Life could not furnish forth the perfect one
That thy sweet vision shrined : 'twas all thine own ;
A bright reflection of thy purity,
Flashing its richest haloes round one form;
Robing its idol in the hues of heaven
'Twas not `earth's love,' or meet for earthly shrine
Few on life's prose ground can imagine love!
And fewer still can feel its holiness,
Its overpowering, overwhelming might!
* * * *
" Why shrunkest thou so soon unto decay
Thy lovely sin unshrivenmy gentle child?
Pale, pale, dead Adelaide! couldst thou not meet
Thine old gray father's gaze of agony
And truest sympathy and deepest trust '?
Girlgirl! he listened most greedily
Unto the purebut oh! how torturing tale
Of thy sweet natural feelings in decay!
Ay, witheringly he felt, and own'd, the truth,
The bitter truth of thy unsophist words!
And such is man !the vaunted hero, man!
A stern destroyer of earth's brighest hopes!
A blighting monster! Whatsoe'er is fair,
Or young, or excellent, or happy; there
There is his field of glory! Broken hearts
And groans that live to curse him, tell the tale!
* * * *
Oh, woman! woman!tender, feeble tiring!
When that thy heart hath made unto itself
Its Irisworld of gay and gorgeous hues
With one dear idol round whom its best hopes
Elastically twineit radiates
With its dreamcolourings each varied shade
In that adored one's earthly destiny!
However dark, or wayward, or despised,
When woman loves, she loves thro' good or ill,
Thro' storms or sunshine, sickness or decay,
Evil or good report;'tis woman's love!
Who, what, or whence, or wherefore, heeds she not
Altho' perchance a very poison tree,
The upas amid mortals; the world's jest;
The sneer of relatives ; the scorn of friends :
Tear every tortured feeling from its stay
Twist, wrench the delicate fibres from the stem
Sear with the sirroc of ten thousand pangs
'Tis vain! 'tis all in vain!for woman's love,
Where that it clings, will cling till life be gone.
* * * *