[from Island Minstrelsy, 1839]
Yet a few days and dream-perturbed nights,
And I shall slumber well-but where?-no matter.
YES, it is tranquil here, amid the dead;
Hush'd is the breeze, and still each dewy bough
Where the young woodlarks nestle, but they sleep
Yes, all are sleepers here, upon the hill,
Where in their " narrow cells for ever laid"
The fathers of the hamlet rest in dust;
Where the bright, buoyant and unthinking host-
Fair young ephemerals of yesterday-
Are sleeping silently, and full as deep,
With the pale daisies and new springing grass
Decking the grave's repose ;-ay, there ;-look-there !
Do they not slumber well ?-they are gone home,
Unto the land where sorrow is no more.
Oh! it is sweet, alone, amid the dead,
With night and meditation,-holy night!
Its awful stillness and its host of stars,
And the intensity of cloudless blue-
Memory's too faithful mirror-ay 'tis sweet
Here to retrace the visionary past,
To muse on life's deluding vanities,
Its gilded mockeries, its baseless joys.
But some few fleeting years, and they who lie
Around so peacefully-ay, these-were all
Reckless, rejoicingbeings;-ran their race,
And then gave place to others:-so it is.
I too shall fill my niche in death's vast cell,
And years shall not elapse until I come
To claim a pillow of the quiet grave.
Yes, there is that within which telleth me
To wean my wild affections from the world,
For length of days or earthly happiness
May never come to me:-and it is well.
Life is a wilderness of arid soil,
And happiness is a celestial flower
That blooms not on its waste-blooms not for me.
Then, why should I repine? but lay me down
And wait the joys that never may decay.
And yet this heart burst from its infancy
With burning hopes and aspirations high,
And worlds of fetterless thought, and dreams of earth-
Vividly beautiful-without one shade.
Alas! the pinions of mind's heavenward wing
Are pierced and drooping;-the bright colouring
Of life's gay canvas hath a tarnish now;
And cold Reality-that hideous ghoul-
Steps in and mocks at my poor, wingless hope
And bids me bend to fate.
Oh! I have seen
The canker in the rose-the blossom fade-
The lily severed from its shielding nest-
The violet plucked-the humble daisy crushed-
The gay young carolling bird pierced on the wing-
The gorgeous butterfly, upon a flower
Sipping its meed of sweetness, shivered
Into a mass of atoms !-and can I
Marvel at the brief date of earthly joys ?
I ask not aught of life :-I look not here
For that which satisfies a heart like mine.
True it had one wild wish, but-it is o'er
Its beatings now are sounding like the clods
I sadly tread upon:-where it shall rest
I may not say-but oh ! I know 'tis soon!
* * *
I feel so very strangely, whilst the moon
Glides brightly thro' heaven's cerulean arch
Tinging the channel with a silvery glow,
And the wave rushes 'gainst the beaten rock
With mournful dash, and screams the boding owl
From yonder mouldering turret, sad and lone,
With note foretelling death !-ay, kind, cold death
I have strange dreamings of an early grave,
As if I soon should pass to its repose,-
Wild, vagrant musings of an aching heart;
Yet, when these balmy zephyrs gently fan
The fevered glow of my poor burning cheek-
My head reclined upon this peaceful mound-
I feel 'twere sweet to die, to lay me down
Within the shrining of an early grave.
And when my time does come, and I am laid
In a low grave on this mausoleum hill,-
When o'er my humble turf the willow waves
Its mournful whispers to the night wind's breast,-
Let those who loved me come unto the spot
And weep some few true tears above my rest;
Ay, let them be in sad sincerity,
For one lone vigil o'er a weary heart.
* * *
Mine hath been other destiny than fair
Yet, in my utter wretchedness, I pray
That none beside may ever shadow forth
Aught that is dark in mine. I shall go home-
Unto the only rest for all who mourn.
World! thou hast wrecked a heart-(poor luckless thing!)-
That dreamed thee lovely thro' a host of ill.
'Tis useless now to speak of its repay,
Save that it merited not thy cold breath;-
It better held of thee. Nathless, 'tis well-
'Tis better that its course is well nigh done
There will be no disquiet in the grave;
That is a very, very pleasant shrine
To wasted hopes and feelings all too warm
For the cold intercourse of this dark world.
Oh! 'twill be very free from aching breasts,
Such as will haunt us here.
Sweet pallid Moon!
Shroud not thy radiance from my ardent gaze
Yet awhile;-pour thy calm splendour to me
Oh! shine, sweet Moon! for soon the time must come
When I shall gaze no longer on thy face,-
But thou wilt rise and shine upon my grave:
Guide, then, some hapless wanderer like to me
To hold lone watchings on the funeral hill-
To muse as I do o'er the fevered past,
The dark corroding weariness of heart,
That lays so many low-brings youthful heads
From their spring glory and their bursting hopes
To pillow with the worm. Oh happiness !
That thou shouldst be a dream-a sickly breath-
A transient vapour-fleeting as the breeze !
Oh misery! that thou shouldst riot on
The glowing cheek and laughter-loving eye,
And turn them wan and vayless! Human life!
What art thou? and what art thou, glorious Moon!
That then shouldst be so bright, and I so sad ?
Would I were some cold planet like to thee,
Pulseless and passionless and bright and cold,
Gazing down carelessly on bloodhound care
And griefs that waste men's souls! Oh Moon! to think
Such lovely radiance should thus fall upon
All that is dark and drear and hideous
In this poor world of ours!-that thou shouldst hold
Thy high confessional for woes like mine !
* * *
Yes! thy mild rays are resting on the graves,
Sparkling in dewy gems,-mild-ay, most mild,
And wan and pallid as the brow of Death!
Moon! thou canst never warm the sleeping dust !
Thy brightest glory will not enter there :-
I too so woo thy hallowed radiance:-
But Moon! thou never, never canst illume
The grave of hope-a chilled enthusiast breast !