Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

ness.

that she has not been able to extinguish But turn to me. Oh ! by this cherished in me the very power of delineating sad

token,

Of woven hair, which thou wilt not NAPLES, Dec. 20, 1818.

disown,

Turn, as 'twere but the memory of me, ROSALIND, HELEN AND HER CHILD

And not my scorned self who prayed to Scene, the Shore of the Lake of Como

thee.

HELEN

ROSALIND COME hither, my sweet Rosalind. 'Tis long since thou and I have met ;

Is it a dream, or do I see And yet methinks it were unkind And hear frail Helen? I would flee Those moments to forget.

Thy tainting touch ; but former years Come sit by me. I see thee stand Arise, and bring forbidden tears ; By this lone lake, in this far land, And my o'erburthened memory Thy loose hair in the light wind flying, Seeks yet its lost repose in thee. Thy sweet voice to each tone of even I share thy crime. I cannot choose United, and thine eyes replying But weep for thee : mine own strange To the hues of yon fair heaven.

grief Come, gentle friend : wilt sit by me? But seldom stoops to such relief : And be as thou wert wont to be

Nor ever did I love thee less, Ere we were disunited ?

Though mourning o'er thy wickedness None doth behold us now: the power

Even with a sister's woe. I knew
That led us forth at this lone hour What to the evil world is due,
Will be but ill requited

And therefore sternly did resuse
If thou depart in scorn : oh ! come,

To link me with the infamy And talk of our abandoned home. Of one so lost as Helen. Now Remember, this is Italy,

Bewildered by my dire despair,
And we are exiles. Talk with me Wondering I blush, and weep that thou
Of that our land, whose wilds and floods, Should'st love me still, -thou only !--
Barren and dark although they le,

There,
Were dearer than these chestnut woods : Let us sit on that gray stone,
Those heathy paths, that inland stream, Till our mournful talk be done.
And the blue mountains, shapes which

scem

HELEN

Like wrecks of childhood's sunny dream :
Which that we have abandoned now, Alas! not there ; I cannot bear
Weighs on the heart like that remorse The murmur of this lake to hear.
Which altered friendship leaves. I seek A sound from there, Rosalind dear,
No more our youthful intercourse. Which never yet I heard elsewhere
That cannot be ! Rosalind, speak,

But in our native land, recurs, Speak to me. Leave me not.— When Even here where now we meet. It stirs morn did come,

Too much of suffocating sorrow ! When evening fell upon our common in the dell of yon dark chestnut wood home,

Is a stone seat, a solitude When for one hour we parted,--do not Less like our own. The ghost of peace frown :

Will not desert this spot. To-morrow, I would not chide thee, though thy If thy kind feelings should not cease, faith is broken :

We may sit here.

ROSALIND

HENRY

that grow

HELEN

HENRY

see

It was a vast and antique wood,
Thou lead, my sweet,

Thro' which they took their way ;
And I will follow.

And the gray shades of evening
O'er that green wilderness did fling

Still deeper solitude.
'Tis Fenici's seat

Pursuing still the path that wound Where you are going? This is not the The vast and knotted trees around

Thro’ which slow shades were wandering, way, Mamma; it leads behind those trees

To a deep lawny dell they came,
To a stone seat beside a spring,

O'er which the columned wood did frame Close to the little river.

A roofless temple, like the fane
Where, ere new creeds could faith obtain,

Man's early race once knelt beneath
Yes : I know :

The overhanging deity. I was bewildered. Kiss me, and be gay, O'er this fair fountain hung the sky, Dear boy: why do you sob ?

Now spangled with rare stars. The

snake,

The pale snake, that with eager breath

I do not know : Creeps here his noontide thirst to slake, But it might break any one's heart to Is beaming with many a mingled hue,

Shed from yon dome's eternal blue, You and the lady cry so bitterly.

When he floats on that dark and lucid

flood

In the light of his own loveliness ; It is a gentle child, my friend. Go And the birds that in the fountain dip home,

Their plumes, with fearless fellowship

Above and round him wheel and hover.
Henry, and play with Lilla till I come.
We only cried with joy to see each other; The fitful wind is heard to stir
We are quite merry now : Good-night.

One solitary leaf on high ;
The boy

The chirping of the grasshopper
Listed a sudden look upon his mother,

Fills every pause.

There is emotion And in the gleam of forced and hollow In all that dwells at noontide here : joy

Then, thro' the intricate wild wood, Which lightened o'er her face, laughed A maze of life and light and motion with the glee

Is woven. But there is stillness now : Of light and unsuspecting infancy,

Gloom, and the trance of Nature now : And whispered in her ear, “ Bring home The snake is in his cave asleep ;

The birds are on the branches dreaming : That sweet strange lady.friend." Then Only the shadows creep : off he flew,

Only the glow-worm is gleaming : But stopt, and beckoned with a mean. Only the owls and the nightingales ing smile,

Wake in this dell when daylight fails, Where the road turned. Pale Rosalind And gray shades gather in the woods : the while,

And the owls have all fled far away Iliding her face, stood weeping silently. In a merrier glen to hoot and play,

For the moon is veiled and sleeping now. In silence then they took the way The accustomed nightingale still broods Beneath the forest's solitude.

On her accustomed bough,

HELEN

with you

But she is mute ; for her false mate Thro' tears of awe on the gay child, Has fied and left her desolate.

To think that a boy as fair as he,

In years which never more may be, This silent spot tradition old

By that same fount, in that same wood, Had peopled with the spectral dead.

The like sweet fancies had pursued; For the roots of the speaker's hair selt And that a mother, lost like her, cold

Had mournfully sate watching him. And stiff, as with tremulous lips he told Then all the scene was wont to swim That a hellish shape at midnight led Through the mist of a burning tear. The ghost of a youth with hoary hair, And sate on the seat beside him there,

For many months had Helen known Till a naked child came wandering by,

This scene; and now she thither turned When the fiend would change to a lady

Her footsteps, not alone. fair !

The friend whose falsehood she had A fearful tale! The truth was worse :

muurned, For here a sister and a brother

Sate with her on that seat of stone. Had solemnised a monstrous curse,

Silent they sate; for evening, Meeting in this fair solitude :

And the power its glimpses bring For beneath yon very sky,

Had, with one awful shadow, quelled Had they resigned to one another

The passion of their grief. They sate Body and soul. The multitude,

With linked hands, for unrepelled

Had Helen taken Rosalind's. Tracking them to the secret wood, Tore limb from limb their innocent child, Like the autumn wind, when it unbinds And stabbed and trampled on its mother; The tangled locks of the nightshade's But the youth, for God's most holy grace, which is twined in the sultry summer

hair, A priest saved to burn in the market.

air place.

Round the walls of an outworn sepulchre,

Did the voice of Helen, sad and sweet, Duly at evening Helen came To this lone silent spot,

And the sound of her heart that ever From the wrecks of a tale of wilder

beat,

As with sighs and words she breathed So much of sympathy to borrow

on her, As soothed her own dark lot.

Unbind the knots of her friend's despair, Duly each evening from her home,

Till her thoughts were free to float and With her fair child would Helen come

flow; To sit upon that antique seat,

And from her labouring bosom now, While the hues of day were pale;

Like the bursting of a prisoned flame, And the bright boy beside her feet

The voice of a long pent sorrow came. Now lay, listing at intervals

ROSALIND His broad blue eyes on her; Now, where some sudden impulse calls I saw the dark earth fall upon Following. He was a gentle boy The coffin; and I saw the stone And in all gentle sports took joy; Laid over him whom this cold breast Oft in a dry leaf for a boat,

llad pillowed to his nightly rest! With a small feather for a sail,

Thou knowest not, thou canst not know His fancy on that spring would float,

My agony.

Oh! I could not weep: If some invisible breeze might stir The sources whence such blessings flow Its marble calm : and Helen smiled Were not to be approached by me!

sorrow

fast :

But I could smile, and I could sleep, Or thought they heard upon the stair
Though with a self-accusing heart. His footstep, the suspended word
In morning's light, in evening's gloom, Died on my lips: we all grew pale:
I watched,—and would not thence de. The babe at my bosom was hushed with
depart-

fear
My husband's unlamented tomb. If it thought it heard its father near ;
My children knew their sire was gone, And my two wild boys would near my
But when I told them,-“he is dead,”-

knee They laughed aloud in frantic glee, Cling, cowed and cowering fearfully. They clapped their hands and leaped about,

I'll tell thee truth: I loved another. Answering each other's ecstasy

His name in my ear was ever ringing, With many a prank and merry shout. His form to my brain was ever clinging: But I sat silent and alone,

Yet if some stranger breathed that name, Wrapped in the mock of mourning My lips turned white, and my heart beat weed.

My nights were once haunted by dreams They laughed, for he was dead: but I

of flame, Sate with a hard and tearless eye, My days were dim in the shadow cast And with a heart which would deny By the memory of the same! The secret joy it could not quell, Day and night, day and night, Low muttering o'er his loathèd name; Ile was my breath and life and light, Till from that self-contention came For three short years, which soon were Remorse where sin was none; a hell

past. Which in pure spirits should not dwell. On the fourth, my gentle mother

Led me to the shrine, to be I'll tell thee truth. Ile was a man Ilis sworn bride eternally. Hard, sellish, loving only gold,

And now we stood on the altar stair, Yet full of guile: his pale eyes ran When my father came from a distant With tears, which each some falsehood

land, told,

And with a loud and fearsul cry And oft his smooth and bridled tongue Rushed between us suddenly. Would give the lie to his flushing cheek : I saw the stream of his thin gray hair, He was a coward to the strong:

I saw his lean and listed hand, He was a tyrant to the weak,

And heard his words,--and live! Oh On whom his vengeance he would wreak: God! For scorn, whose arrows search the heart, Wherefore do I live?__" Hold, hold !” From many a stranger's eye would dart, He cried, “I tell thee 'tis her brother ! And on his memory cling, and follow Thy mother, boy, beneath the sod His soul to its home so cold and hollow. Of yon churchyard rests in her shroud He was a tyrant to the weak,

so cold : And we were such, alas the day! I am now weak, and pale, and old: Oft, when my little ones at play, We were once dear to one another, Were in youth's natural lightness gay, I and that corpse! Thou art our child !” Or if they listened to some tale

Then with a laugh both long and wild Of travellers, or of fairy land, -- The youth upon the pavement fell: When the light from the wood - fire's They found him dead! All looked on

dying brand Flashed on their faces,-if they heard The spasms of my despair to see:

me,

o'er:

But I was calm.
I went away:

What was this pulse so warm and free? I was clammy-cold like clay!

Alas! I knew it could not be I did not weep: I did not speak : My own dull blood: 'twas like a thought But day by day, week after week, Of liquid love, that spread and wrought I walked about like a corpse alive! Under my bosom and in my brain, Alas! sweet friend, you must believe And crept with the blood through every This heart is stone: it did not break.

vein;

And hour by hour, day after day, My father lived a little while,

The wonder could not charm away, But all might see that he was dying, But laid in sleep, my wakeful pain, He smiled with such a woeful smile! Until I knew it was a child, When he was in the churchyard lying And then I wept. For long, long years Among the worms, we grew quite poor, These frozen eyes had shed no tears: So that no one would give us bread:

But now

_'twas the season fair and mild My mother looked at me, and said When April has wept itself to May: Faint words of cheer, which only meant I sate through the sweet sunny day That she could die and be content; By my window bowered round with So I went forth from the same church leaves, door

And down my cheeks the quick tears ran To another husband's bed.

Like twinkling rain-drops from the eaves, And this was he who died at last, When warm spring showers are passing When weeks and months and years had past,

O Helen, none can ever tell Through which I firmly did fulfil The joy it was to weep once more! My duties, a devoted wise, With the stern step of vanquished will, I wept to think how hard it were Walking beneath the night of life, To kill my babe, and take from it Whose hours extinguished, like slow The sense of light, and the warm air, rain

And my own fond and tender care, Falling for ever, pain by pain,

And love and smiles; ere I knew yet The very hope of death's dear rest; That these for it might, as for me, Which, since the heart within my breast Be the masks of a grinning mockery. Of natural life was dispossest,

And haply, I would dream, 'twere sweet It's strange sustainer there had been. To feed it from my faded breast,

Or mark my own heart's restless beat When flowers were dead, and grass was Rock it to its untroubled rest, green

And watch the growing soul beneath Upon my mother's grave,--that mother Dawn in faint smiles; and hear its Whom to outlive, and cheer, and make breath, My wan eyes glitter for her sake, Half interrupted by calm sighs, Was my vowed task, the single care And search the depth of its fair eyes Which once gave life to my despair, -- For long departed memories ! When she was a thing that did not stir And so I lived till that sweet load And the crawling worms were cradling Was lightened. Darkly forward flowed her

The stream of years, and on it bore To a sleep more deep and so more sweet Two shapes of gladness to my sight; Than a baby's rocked on its nurse's knee, Two other babes, delightful more I lived : a living pulse then beat In my lost soul's abandoned night, Beneath my heart that awakened me. Than their own country ships may be

« PredošláPokračovať »