« PreviousContinue »
FIVE times the earth swam round the sun,
Five years their ripening course had run,
And I, still travelling, clambering still,
Stood up at last on Manhood's hill;
Strengthened alike in mind and frame,
But marred with features still the same:
Still finding daily on my road,
The worth that Beauty's charm bestow'd:
Still feeling more, the more I grew,
The pains its want engenders too.
In crowdswhen eyes my form would scan,
I scarce could feel myself a man ;
And in the dance, whose joyous sight
I relished with a child's delight,
When eyes and jewels rivals shine,
When music's voice, and woman's join,
When senses and when satins swim,
When bounds the spirit with the limb,
And feet unconscious mark the strain,
Nor need a mandate from the brain;
For music's motion-giving thrill
Performs the office of the will;
Even there I seldom stirred, from fear
The light satiric laugh to hear.
Not oft I walked by woman's side,
Restrained if not by fear by pride:
Her choice of guides is ever shown
In forms more lofty than her own,
As if the spirit that defends,
On towering height alone attends.
'T was not alone from shame or fear
Of cold neglect, or bitter sneer,
That I would shun her glowing rays,
And softly tread her flowery ways,
But lest the serpent Love might spring,
And once again my bosom sting:
And most I feared the passions' might
In springs fresh morn of rosy light,
When all creation wears his hue,
And bathes in Love's delicious dew;
When courting birds throng every grove,
And flowers, far as they can, make love.
For then the heart's door stands ajar,
And entrance there is easier far;
For then by abstinence subdued,
The hungry heart looks out for food;
And oft in that impetuous hour,
Will crop the weed or poisonous flower,
Unsated, till the inward groan
Declares too late the mischief done.
So when the sun first warmed my blood,
As the young year began to bud,
And when the fair spring-softened throng
Shed round their glances, languid, long,
I ever shunned, by trial wise,
The dangerous bliss of woman's eyes;
And yet, despite my previous pain,
My heart at last was trapped again :
Drawn knowing, fearing, shrinking, tame
As silly moth, within the flame;
And that too not in spring's soft hour,
But when hot summer curls the flower.
Love grew, I scarce know how or where,
But first in church I felt the snare,
Which fastened by long gazing there:
Too much I gazed, for she was one
My reason loudly bade me shun.
Of queenly step, and form of grace,
An ever-breathing, joyous face,
With nostrils thin, lips loosely shut,
By Nature's chisel cleanly cut,
Which, when caprice turned playful out,
Would more than curl, yet scarce would
With dark-not dark as midnight-hair,
Her skin was more than lily fair,
Whose pearly veil would half reveal
The routes the truant veins would steal ;
Whence blushes scarcely dimmed would
Drowned roses through a crystal stream.
But oh! those eyes, those wondrous eyes!
Whose hue all mimic art defies:
Dark gray their tint by nature given,
But which through smiles seemed blue as
And when a frown-cloud rose to view,
Black as the car of thunder grew :
And wide and various as their hue
Would wander their expression too;
Which all unsteady in its range,
Seemed ever on the brink of change;
Still ready, even in anger's stress,
To tremble into tenderness.
Oh! she was glorious in a storm!
The lofty head, the heaving form,
The flash, the nostrils fluttering free,
All, all were fine yet dread to see:
And brilliant feil the glittering rain
That followed in the cloudy train,
And fairer still the peaceful bow
That spanned at last her arching brow. Though spoiled with pride and wayward will,
Her haughty heart was woman's still;
And 'neath the tempest lay asleep
A well of feeling, pure and deep,
O'errunning when the storm was gone,
To soothe the harms her wrath had done;
As though the very storm that rushed,
Had fed and filled the fount that gushed.
Else had I never learned to love,
Whom gentleness alone can move :
And oh! 't was in that tender hour,
She swayed me with resistless power;
How could she lift, and with a frown
As deeply, darkly cast me down!
How like a dog my mistress' will
I faithful watched, and followed still!
Content if only at her feet,
For even rebuke from her was sweet.
But pleasing more than outward sense,
She sparkled with intelligence;
Her mind so rare, her wit so smart,
She won my brain as well as heart:
Enough: the journal of my breast,
Kept at the time, must tell the rest.
As surely as the week rolls round,
Am I at church devoted found:
As surely as I take my seat,
My eyes with Julia's chance to meet :
If once it haps, 't will hap again,
What mortal nature can refrain
To watch, despite the sacred place,
That tempting sight, a lovely face?
Young hearts, beware! that dread a
For even the church is dangerous ground,
When placed athwart a vision fair,
Just seated within eye-shot there:
In neatest dress, with bonnet sweet,
Flung loose to chase the summer heat,
Leaving the glowing charms we see,
To wooing winds, and glances free:
While airs which fanning feathers make,
To waves the slumbering tresses wake;
And looks, meant for the desk, may stray
And light on you along their way.
'Tis flowery land; but oh! beware!
The mischief-maker may be there:
Should there he catch a poaching heart,
Poor trespasser! he'll make it smart;
For hid among the flowers 't will find
Set traps of most imprisoning kind;
And may be tangled ere aware,
Within the mesh of tresses there.
Those eye-darts shot by Cupid's bow,
Would soon to poisoned arrows grow:
Each hair dipped in Love's quickening
Would turn a waving snake, and sting.
Not only is the idle heart
Endangered by the toiler's art,
But even the serious mind may rove;
Devotion's self is kin to Love.
At solemn hymn, whose stream of praise
A thousand grateful voices raise,
The heart unfolds its portals wide,
Unconsciously, to join the tide:
Whatever passion opes the door,
Love, ever watchful, stands before,
Still seeking, in his strife to win,
Sly rogue! to slip unnoticed in."
I caution others; as for me,
My heart once seared, is safely free:
Yet thrilled I when her eyes like day
Would rest on mine though turned away;
For there are glances felt, not seen,
That burn as deep, and pierce as keen.
To-morrow I can meet her too -
A walking party; shall I go,
And stir the tide now calmly clear?
Pshaw! nonsense! what have I to fear?
The scars of previous wounds o'ergrow,
And make my bosom love-proof now!
A truce to your arts, pretty maidens! Your cunning I now can withstand: No more bite the lip till it reddens,
Nor press the pale cheek with the hand? I know what a bloom it discloses,
But ah! ye entice me in vain;
I've suffered so much from the roses,
They never shall tempt me again.
No more hang your long drooping lashes,
So modestly bent to the ground;
No more with a start shoot your flashes
So boldly and brilliantly round:
I know that the motion is brightening,
But ah! it assails me in vain;
My heart is so scarred with the lightning,
It shuns the encounter again.
No more, when the summer oppresses,
Uncover the light of the brow;
No more let the streams of your tresses
Run down on your shoulders of snow
I know that the contrast is pleasing,
But ah! it allures me in vain;
I've suffered so sadly from freezing
I'll ne'er brave the snow-storm again!
OVER the hills, a sun-bright day,
Our party took their rambling way:
Now the rough quarry's depths pervade,
And now the cooling woodland shade:
Now following brooks through deep ra-
Now climbing steeps for distant scenes;
And fair that eastern view appeared,
Which oft my boyhood's eye had cheered,
By fairer landscape never blest ;
White clouds in motion, hills at rest,
By passing shadows overrun!
Passaic basking in the sun;
Far city-spires that task the eye,
Pricking like needle-points the sky :
Beneath our feet our native town,
Though humble, bright, because our own.
Still westward lay our course again;
At length a grass-green, winding lane
Through sheltering woods our footsteps
To one of Nature's bounties, springs:
Here sit we down for rest and breath,
A knotty, spreading oak beneath,
Whose roots drank from the fount, and
The favor back with cooling shade:
At times, alarmed, some sudden frog
Plumped in the spring from neighboring
Without a sound the waters soft
Pushed up the clean red sand, and oft
A rising bubble from the spot,
Bright as a crystal jewel, shot.
From Julia's side I kept aloof,
Not feeling quite temptation-proof,
When from her head the hat she drew,
And to the breeze her tresses threw.
She leaned against the oak for rest,
With parted lips, and heaving breast;
Then laid those dangerous eyes to see,
Now languid with fatigue, on me:
Deep, deep their honied weight I felt
To sink within my heart, and melt.
I saw my peril, and alarmed
Drew back in hopes to 'scape unharmed:
Which she observing, bade me look
For wild-flowers by the running brook.
I went, for how could I refuse,
And plucked the rarest I could choose:
Odd gaping orchis, lilies too,
Jet spotted, in the marsh that grew;
And bright lobelia's flaming blaze,
That almost blinds the eyes that gaze:
And I was proud to see them placed
Within the folds that girt her waist.
O'er heaven now warning vapors dun Crept darkling, and put out the sun : Wrangled the clouds, and fell the fire, Struck from their rude collision, nigher. Escaping from the shower, we reach The sheltering tent of sloping beach There gathered close, we list the strain Played on the leaves by pattering rain, At times by voice of thunder drowned, When his tremendous bass rings round.
So close we grouped that tree beneath,
I touched her hand- I felt her breath;
I scanned her cheek so dainty fair,
But found no dimmest blemish there.
There is a power, a spell, a thrill,
A magnetism, or what you will,'
Whose creepings on the sense encroach,
At living Beauty's near approach:
How did her breath my life-blood seize,
And wake to billows like a breeze!
Returning, would her arm recline,
All frankly, cordially on mine:
How dear to manhood's fondest pride,
Confiding woman's steps to guide!
How flashed the overloaded flowers
With gems, a present from the showers!
I never landscape saw mere gay,
Nor bluer sky, nor brighter day:
Had Love been there, I might suppose,
Seen through his soft mist, all was rose;
Fudge! Love has had his ruling hour:
Thank Heaven! I now defy his power!
'T was fit enough, in school-boy days,
To sigh, and melt at beauty's blaze:
All that is past; yet was she sweet!
Well, so are many that I meet;
How flattering too! where'er I go,
Her eyes for mine a preference show:
Poor soul! 't were pity she should burn
With passion I can ne'er return:
I'll gaze, not love: my course is plain;
I'll reap the bliss, and leave the pain.
A pleasant life, to roam at will
On Beauty's walks attendant still,
Safe from all rubs that lovers chafe;
Pleasant indeed- but am I safe?
No! there is danger; all the night
I saw her like a starry light,
More lovely in my visions lone,
Than in my day-dream's truth she shone.
'Tis nought when on the sun we gaze,
If only dazzled by his rays;
But when our eyes his form retain,
Some wound to vision must remain.
So eyes at Beauty's presence thrill,
As ever at fair scenes they will,
But when 't is fixed by memory there,
Still brightly burning, then beware!
Yet I this very night agreed
To lend her promised books to read!
Well; I will leave them at the door,
But enter Peril's courts no more.
FOOL! madman! thus to venture nigh
The whirlpool of her dangerous eye:
I reached the door: herself was there;
Herself, with smiles all radiant fair:
She bade me enter: I declined;
Then stammering, stagger'd in half-blind.
There to the window we withdrew;
Oh, double fool! by moonlight too:
Deep, deep of love's insidious draught,
With reckless, quenchless thirst I quaffed,
Till midnight drove me home again,
So drunken, giddy, fired in brain,
That my bewildered, reeling head
Could scarcely find its sleepless bed.
"T WAS not, dear maid! thy noontide light
That won me with its flashings bright;
But thy sweet twilight hue that shone
Softly on me, and me alone!
'T was not thy song of music clear,
That rings to ravish all that hear;
But oh! thy gently breathing tone
Murmured to me and me alone!
All force, all dazzling, fails to move,
For softness is the soul of love.
Words that win, come softly flowing, Like the lulling song of streams. Vows of love and truth devoted,
Vainly at the bosom cast,
When on waves of music floated,
Ever reach their port at last!
All that moves must gently move:
Softness is the soul of love.
TO-NIGHT at Julia's house we meet :
Oh! hours to be, of rapture sweet!
How will I feast on love's repast,
And triumph, while her favors last!
And will she change? it cannot be;
Still will I dream in her I see
A mind too high, a heart too warm,
To spurn a lover for his form:
A breast with feeling gushing o'er,
That asks for love, and asks no more.
Away with pause! it is too late
To dread, to shrink, to hesitate;
My doom, my fate, I must abide,
And sink or swim, I'm on the tide!
Then let me revel on that brow,
Though mad the act, and worse than
I'll quaff the luscious poison now,
And leave to sober hours the pain!
I WENT; fair crowds my sight surprise:
The room was starry with their eyes;
But she was all surpassing fair:
One calla-flower ran round her hair,
And wreathed it like a hunter's horn:
The chaste, the only jewel worn.
Pure was her robe of virgin white,
Her eyes flashed round consuming light;
Yet oft on those she favored well,
Softly as mellow moonlight fell.
But scarce a solitary glance
Would light on me, unless by chance
Amid the flood she showered around,
Some straggling ray my features found,
And brilliant shone; but cold to me
As flash of phosphorescent sea:
Alas! those eyes with homage vain,
On others showered their sparkling rain.
Supreme my rival stood 'mid these,
Nor left untried all arts to please;
She sang his voice the praise supplied:
She danced and he was by her side
In pride of form and grace of limb:
What could I do to cope with him?
Hurt at the sight, but not depressed,
For trial roused, not sunk my breast;
I sought her hand when he resigned,
But she through feigned fatigue declined:
I told her, stung, I craved no more
Than others had received before :
Piqued, she replied all proudly then,
She danced with whom she pleased, and
The moon sailed high, and flowers and
Bent listening to the whispering breeze:
Dear Nature! ever pure as fair,
How soothing came thy gentle air!
Thy light, how chaster than the glare,
Thy murmuring voices, than the din
Of noisy mirth-I left within!
OE'R thy bosom's trackless snow
Love's light foot has never trod;
And should he once essay to go,
Its cold would freeze the little god.
Fool! fool! with all my previous pain,
To rush into the trap again,
But now, farewell to love and thee!
The world has nobler aims for me:
Enough, enough; henceforth we part -
I'll close my journal, and my heart;
Resolved no more to be beguiled
By such a wayward, peevish child.
IN vain!-six days of bitter pain
Have driven me back to love again :
Despite my stern resolve to burst
A bond so sweet, yet so accursed.
Alas! our eyes at church did meet ;
Oh! glance too ravishingly sweet!
My soul leaped to my eyes to see
One gaze of kindness bent on me :
It told of sorrow for my pain-
It told of wish for peace again;
It told beside of pride misused
That eyes might speak what lips refused.
It told enough to bring me back;
Oh! yes; come torture, flame, or rack,
Better thy glance, though raging bright,
Than absence' dull funereal night :
The one is life of painful breath,
The other, gloomy, chilly death;
And like the soul, the heart will cling
To life, however sharp its sting.
All lost my patience and command,
Last night I went, guitar in hand,
And 'neath her window, thus my wrong
Poured out upon the night, in song:
The heart no deeper gloom can know
Than absence' tomb-like solitude:
I better bore thine anger's glow,
Than the dull peace which has ensued.
Give back mine eyes thy form again-
Give but mine ears thy quickening
And though thy glances flash disdain,
And words speak daggers, I'll rejoice.
For oh! reproach I could forgive,
Howe'er it jarred my brain to hear; And even thy fury's rage outlive, [near.'
To know but this that thou wert
I must return - though doubly curst;
Though all thy lightnings scathe my
I care not- - I have known the worst-
For absence owns no master-pain.
WITH a cold eye, and burning brain,
I stiffly sought her doors again :
My presence smiles of favor sweet,
And kindly words resistless greet;
And though our quarrel and my pain
She ventured not to touch, 't was plain
She saw, and strove with smiles to heal
The wounds her pride had made me feel :
She begged me join, in her sweet way,
A party for the Falls to-day:
And did I yield? oh! yes oh! yes!
She smiled, and could I then do less?
Dear eyes! be cruel as ye will,
One kindly gaze secures me still!