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Poem by Philip James Bailey


Festus - 21.1


Time's lapse, who notes mid flights like this? Once more
In merry medley mixed, youth's liberal mirth,
Disport we; now, the natural luxuries taste
Of love, trust, amity, un--Circaean cups
Which change to loftier life, by virtuous charms,
The spirit, of joy enchanted; still immasked
Worldwards, in frivolous pleasures. These, one hour,
Our world--seer joins, soul solemnized, to renounce:
And, as of old, when in some sainted shrine,
By secular license, antic play perturbed,
Time and again, the dim--roofed vastnesses,
And dominant sanctities of the place, but passed
Harmless and soon; the hallowed solitude
Leaving, when gone, more grave; so here. Meanwhile,
Deserted long, it may be, the only love
Life sanctifying,--let wit adorn, or grace
Charm as they may,--too sensitive shows, to abide
Constant estrangement, and aye failing faith.
Summer--house and Pleasure--grounds. Groves, walks, fountains.
Marian, Helen, Edward, Charles, Sophia, and Others.
Edward. Again we meet in this fair scene;
Ah! might we be but ever young!
Harry. Helen! We pray thee be again our queen.
Helen. I prithee hold thy tongue:
A royal revolution 'twere, indeed,
That I should twice reign, and myself succeed.
Charles. No nay, no nay! it must be so:
Permit me.
Helen. Well, there needs no show
Of more reluctance than I feel;
Both kings and queens must court the commonweal.
Harry. A bumper at meeting, a bumper at parting!
As many you like be between;
But we will have a right ruddy brimmer at starting;
A health to our beautiful queen!
Long, long may she reign in our hearts and right arms,
And her all but omnipotence last!
She shall fear nothing rougher than love's light alarms;
There is nought in the coming can darken her charms;
There is nought can eclipse in the past.
A brimmer at sitting, a brimmer at starting,
As many you like be between;
But we will have a right ruddy bumper at parting;
A health to our beautiful queen!
Oh! while beauty shall live in the form of the fair,
And love in the heart of the brave,
The queen of our souls, she shall never despair,
For our hearts we would drain, and our deaths we would dare,
To avenge whom we love, or to save.
Helen. Born to exert the powers of my state,
Charles, I have named thee poet--laureate.
Harry. Kiss hands upon appointment.
Charles. Sovereign fair!
Behold thy grateful servant.
Helen. Sit thou there,
In all but full equality with me;
Love rules the heart, and the mind poesie:
In youth at least, and when in hours like this,
The rule is pleasure, the exception bliss.
Laurence. But where is Festus?
Helen. 'Tis to him we owe
The repetition of this scene of joy.
He bids me say he loves ye all ye know,
But deems his presence less attraction than annoy.
Whatever ye can name, and I command,
Is by his bidding welcome thus to all;
But pardon craves; high quests he hath in hand,
Which wait not on his own nor pleasure's call.
And though to me his presence be a power,
His every word with love's bright magic rife,
Yet he--nor him from that height would I lower--
Lives in the upper hemisphere of life;
Where angel thoughts and spiritual orbs
Roll in the majesty of mind profound;
Where Truth's bright disk, all doubt spots dark absorbs,
And inspiration's lightning beams abound.
Whether he e'er return to scenes like this,
I know not--much I question--but can trace
The tone, methinks, of that sad soul of his
Roll ever deepening down an endless bass,
Like an abyss of thunder. But, away!
These tears mine eyes have haunted all the day;
Now they are vanished. Let us change, I pray,
The matter of our converse.
Sophia. Ay, be gay!
Helen. Come, we will consecrate the passing hour,
With songs of love, and lays of beauty's power;
For when the tale of Time hath told
A thousand thousand years,
His purple pinions starred with gold,
Wherewith he doth the world enfold,
Will still be stained with dust, and tears;
And still life's sole brief Paradise, in sooth,
Be love and beauty in the hour of youth.
A song, a dance, one cup to beauty's name;
Music, a jest, or pleasant tale in rhyme;
Sufficient these, with mirth and gentle game,
Alternate with repose, to fill our time.
And first, a dance! for earth and heaven
Are both to choral influence given.
All things their nature that fulfil,
In harmlessness and joy, his will
Worship and do; though dumb and still;
For noteless, countless are the ways
Of nature practising his praise;
And dancing hath a sacred birth
Like all the happiest customs of the earth.
Charles. The sun in the centre turns solemnly round,
And the pale god of shades, the conductor of souls,
Seems to warm as he circles the glory profound,
Where the goddess of beauty all beamingly rolls;
While earth, with her sister, floats brilliantly by,
Her heart towards the sun, and her love in her eye.
Then Mars, like a warrior gloomy and red,
Impetuous wheels, ever glancing at one;
While nine sister goddesses mazily tread,
In the midst of a nonade each heavenly head,
The bright fields of air which encircle the sun;
And Jove the majestic, serene in his might,
Sweeps cloudy and thunderous aye to the light.
Then Saturn, old grey--bearded emblem of time,
Comes slowly and chilly to join with the rest;
And Ouranus next with young Eros sublime,
Move slowly as though they partook with the blest;
And each, his bright bevy of servitors round,
Complete the vast figure with harmony crowned.
Helen. This, Sir, is your inaugural ode?
Charles. If you, fair lady, think it so.
Your word imposes the sole code
Of law, or justice, we may know.
Helen. Then my authority is absolute.
Edward. As truth's my liege.
Helen. We'll soon see if it suit.
So like the stars which circle through the skies,
As Charles hath sung,
Let us too dance with choral harmonies
Ourselves among.
Marian,
apart. Again that name hath knelled upon mine ear,
Though I have never voiced it. 'Tis to me
Too deeply, yea unutterably dear.
How warmly too she loves him! Let it be.
Who most enjoy the light may best endure,
When come, the darkness; as it now is here.
Whatever his, may my troth--plight keep sure!
I have turned to thee, moon, from the glance
That in triumphing coldness was given;
And rejoiced, as I viewed thee all lonely advance,
There was something was lonely in heaven.
I have turned to thee, moon, as I lay
In thy silent and saddening brightness;
And rejoiced, as high heaven went shining away,
That the heart had its desolate lightness.
I have turned to thee, moon, from my love,
And from all that once blessed me, in sadness;
And can marvel no more that, abandoned above,
Thou should'st lend thy bright face to make madness.
I have turned to thee, moon, from my heart,
That in love hath long laboured and sorrowed;
And have hoped it might mix, as I watched thee depart,
Like thyself, with the morn which had morrowed.
Laurence. Can I behold the lady of my love
Mourning alone, from pleasure all apart?
Again I seek thee, though it be to hear
The sentence of destruction to my heart.
Yet if it be so, still one moment stay;
For so it haps whene'er I think of thee,
So blent is thought with love's anxiety,
My spirit doth invariably pray.
Any blessing God can give
Never be withheld from thee;
Nor will I desire to live
If that prayer be lost to me;
Else I were unworthy thee.
If e'er my hand doth aught of good
I do it in thy name;
For well I know thy kind heart would,
If with me, bid the same.
All mirth I check, for well I know
It is not meet for me;
No smile shall ever light this brow,
Nor ought, away from thee.
Marian. I thank thee, Laurence, and believe;
But this is all I can for thee,
Save grieve that thou should'st vainly grieve
I to another am as thou to me;
In this strange passion which pain sanctifies;
This folly sorrow makes sublime and wise.
Laurence. Oh! there is nothing in this world of ours
So sad to see,
As the dark worm which dwells wherever flowers
Our destiny;
Eating the heart out of youth's budding hours
Of glee.
Not oft in sunny beds, nor sheltered bowers,
Life's lot is cast;
But chiefly lost in shade, and chilled by showers,
Or the rude blast;
Till all its delicate and wholesome powers
Are past.
And this then is the end of all the bliss
Which love and beauty offered, and my soul
Made certain of in natural triumph; this
The heritage of life; and this, love's goal.
Marian. Peace! there is one I name not, came not here
Partly because of me. But think'st thou I
Came to indulge a wretched vanity
With thee, or pry into another's sphere?
With whom I grieve too; which is more unblest,
Whose love is shunned or sought, let time attest!
Lucy. In his thou lovest we see thy heart,
Engrossed exists but as a part
Of one essential; and there be
Who deem not that too wise in thee;
But as some unwary serpent who her soul's
Pride hath paid down for sweet sounds, and unrolls,
Or intertwines, her body's shining rings,
At his mere will who, touched the silver keys
Of ivory flutelet, opes and seals joy's springs
Within her; gently irritates at ease,
Or soothes; but charms her, wheresoe'er he please;
Until, translated for obedient skill,
Into his breast she, nestling there, lies still,
Pleased, nigh to death, with such dear harmonies;--
So we, more free, thy love confess
Hath more of faith than hopefulness.
Marian. It may be; mine it is, no less.
Helen. And now, for pastime, some one tell a tale;
Come, an adventure, Charles.
Charles. Oh, pray dispense
With my devoirs this time. I fain would try
If any wit be in the company;
By observation, not experience,
Of course I judge: for of my own
The world and I are cognizant alone.
Emma. Fatigued, no doubt, with over--admiration
Of your sweet self.
Helen. Well, all then, in rotation.
Walter. Now I know a delicious tale
Will suit you, Carrie to a T.
Caroline. Do tell me then, and I'll believe
It more than truth, if need should be.
Walter. Well; Love is the child of bliss and woe;
So, from his parents dear,
One eye is blinded with a smile,
One drownèd in a tear.
And on one lip there drops a kiss,
Like honey from the wild woodbine;
And that's the lip he had from bliss--
And that's the lip I will have mine;
But on the other hangs a lie,
And that--but that's 'tween you and I.
Caroline. How very odd!
Walter. Why, it's a fact,
And therefore needs no illustration;
But if you think its principle abstract
It is easily shown in operation.
Caroline. Oh dear! no, no! I'll vow it's true,
Rather than have it proved by you.
Lucy. How aught than truth can e'er be truer,
Is news than e'en the newest newer.
Edward. Who thinks to sever life's delights
From happiest duty, woe invites;
A fact which minstrels of all times
Have sanctioned, listen! in their rhymes:
Lucy sings.
As I stood by the lakelet of love, to my view,
Mid the moon's fairy glow, shone a soul--charming scene;
The clouds were all silver, the skies were all blue,
And the shores were all waving with woodlands of green.
In a boat--shell of pearl sailed a maid and a youth,
And the song that she sang sounded sweeter than truth;
But the youth sat all silent; and soon to my sight,
They sped through the gathering shadows of night.
While I watched them departing, the waves seemed to sigh,
And the faintest of halos encircled the moon;
And though love--light the gale, ever feigning to die,
There were signs of a change coming sudden and soon.
But the skies were still beaming, the stars were still bright,
And the lovers still steering their course of delight,
When the sound of the song on mine ear died away,
And the seal of sweet silence concluded the day.
When the sun to its woes first awakened the world,
What a scene! the tall forests lay prostrate and bare;
While the love--freighted bark into fragments was hurled,
And the youth and the maiden, alas! they were--where?
'Gainst the tempest that raged they had struggled in vain;
And the lake rolling wroth as the storm--stricken main;
Then the voice that was silent had shrieked round the shore;
And the song that seemed sweeter than truth was no more.
George. Well now, hear me, now this is true,
Although of love and the lyre too.
And since with couples wild as they
Who foundered in love's stormy bay,
Our sympathy, I dare say, is small;
For all must from the first expect,
Those reckless could not but be wrecked,
'Tis a good reason why we may
Replace them by a pair less dismal;
And, as it happened all to me,
I say but what I could but see.
I was with the maid I love,
We were happy and alone;
Eve's star just lit the grove,
And the day had been our own.
And my lyre lay by my side,
But no music from it came;
For as sure as e'er I tried
It was harsh or it was tame.
So I flung it to my feet,
And I feigned the while I said,
Thy love I cannot meet;
Thou must not love me, maid.
And more I might have feigned,
When there came a little boy,
And his step fell as light
As a laugh of joy;
And he laughed, and said, I'm Love!
Shall I teach you how to play?
And I said, My pretty boy,
Teach away, teach away!
So he lifted up the lyre,
And he fingered its strings,
Till I thought they did become
Like spiritual things;
And the gold chords shone,
From the music he clouded,
Like the links of the lightning,
When tempests come crowded;
And the strain rose and fell,
'Neath his pink little fingers,
Like a soul due to earth,
That in heaven still lingers.
He ceased; and all over
He smiled like the strain
Of the music he made me,
Nor made me in vain;
For I snatched at the lyre,
While yet it was ringing,
And I sang, it is love
Gives the poet his singing.
Then I turned to my beauty,
Who kissed her young bard,
As she said, Love and song
Shall have thus their reward.
He laughed till he cried;
I pretended to frown:
So my love made him hide
In her bosom of down;
Where at last he gasped out,
Oh, forgive me, I pray!
But I couldn't help laughing;
Boy, I said, get away!
Let none, then, who love not
Ever offer to sing;
Let none who say false
Ever strike the gold string;
He said! and I saw but the
Wave of his wing.
Lucy. These stories are delightful; I declare,
I never dreamed that love was to be seen,
More than a ghost in these enlightened days.
Laurence. Thrice wretched he to whom he comes, I ween.
Charles. I had a strange visit once from Love;
But when,--indeed I dread to date it.
It is so long since, I half forget;
But if it please you, I'll narrate it.
Laura. Oh do! a poet surely will have something
Pretty to say about the poor dear dumb thing.
Harry. Dumb! then you know but little of the tyrant!
He'd bellow down a fifth--rate actor by rant.
Charles. It is true I have met him once or twice
Since the event of which I tell;
He called I find the other day,
And left his card; but T.T.L.
So if we meet again, the little god
Will get the cut celestial, or a nod
At best. But as I fear I am wasting time,
For shortness sake I'll tell my tale in rhyme.
I nursed with care a favourite fire,
In secret and alone;
And oft I blew it with my breath;
And oft 'twas all but gone.
And not a soul beside myself
Cared for my flame or me;
It made me sad, it made me glad.
The very secresy.
At length my absence made me missed;
They sought me far and near,
With muttered scorn, with smile, with sigh;
With silence, and a tear;
And one said, Let the boy alone,
His flame will soon expire;
And others said, 'Tis nought to us;
And still I fed my fire.
And friends and kindred all condemned,
With stern and fixèd eye,
The love of folly which, they said,
Possessed me; spake not I.
So one by one they went away,
'Twere useless to remain;
Their presence or their absence nought:
I fanned my fire again.
And Beauty came, but blamed me not;
So sweetly did she ask,
Of life and peace, I half forgot
To tend my wayward task;
Till, while her eyes were lift above,
I spied it, as I turned;
Sprang like a bowstring to the bow,
And stirred it till it burned.
And pride, and world--ambition came,
And tried to tread it out;
But every ember found its nerve,
And each with pain did shout;
And Love came, not as he was wont,
With kiss and merry brow,
And eyes like two forget--me--nots,
Dipped in the stream below:--
But up he came with torrent tears,
And pale and reckless look,
And eye as cold as any stone,
In petrifying brook;
His shafts, his bow, he dashed on earth,
And swore he would expire;--
I took his bow and arrows both,
And burned them in my fire.
And all that all or aught could do,
Was useless to its end;
The flame, though fitful, flourished still,
In spite of foe or friend.
It warms me now; I feel it must
Respond to my desire;
For I have heaped both heart and soul
Upon that deathless fire.
Lucy. Poor thing! I think you served him very ill;
But it accounts for our distressed condition;
For without arms, nor wound can he nor kill:
I'm half afraid he'll die of inanition.
Will. With poets everything must deathless be;
Now it's the passingness of things that gives
Their most exciting charm to me;
Life has less beauty if it ever lives.
All loveliest things pass soonest; clouds and flowers,
Rainbows, heart--kindling glances, the sweet smile;
Because brief, we admire, or make them ours;
But we should slight them lived they longer while.
Charles. It is sweet to dream we are blessed at last with her
Who first made rapture in our bosom stir;
Whose heart was fiction's home, while pure romance
Came purer from her lips; or was't, perchance,
Her soul was music's shrine, whence with skilled key,
Each clear delicious tone the world of sound
Owns, as akin to airs celestial, she
At will drew forth, and radiated around?
Though fairer, kinder since we may have known,
That first most innocent vision sits her throne;
Still in our sleep plays o'er young passion's part;
As pleasure's ghost still haunts the ruined heart;
Where lie the buried loves of younger years,
Whose rites and requiems are as sighs and tears.
Sleep on, ye living dead, in day, nor rise,
But in night's shadowy shapes and dreamy eyes.
Then, fade not, stir not till the imagined scene,
Brain--wrought, with earliest joy the soul possess:
'Tis bliss to have known the vision that hath been;
To dream of happiness is happiness.
But dearer than that tone, and than the dream
Sweeter, of bliss, or long--remembered love,
It is to feel we shall be deathless, here;
That earth will speak of us, when gone above.
George. Sweeter and dearer still than all before,
Would be to hear some say, I'll say no more:
A blessing I can scarce expect to be
From those who are more near than dear to me;
You, Charles, for instance.
Charles. Why, you greedy elf,
Would you have all the nonsense to yourself?
Helen. Now let us have no argument, I pray.
Frank. Suppose we have a pretty lively song.
Emma. Suppose you sing it, then.
Frank. Well, never say
I don't intend to help you, right or wrong.
Will no one sing? then I'll essay
A song I learned but yesterday.
Oh gaze on her beautiful soft rolling eye,
And revel with bliss in its languishing love;
Oh gaze on its darkness and brightness, and sigh
That truth from that heaven should ever remove.
Oh gaze on her ringlets of raven black hair;
And her delicate eyebrow's soft pencilly line;
Would her heart were but true as her bosom is fair;
That the saint were as worthy of love as the shrine.
I have gazed, I have loved, I have worshipped; but fain
I now would declare it, my madness is past;
But pleasure no more in my heart will remain
Than the sparkle of spray on the sand--beach cast.
I loathe her, and love her; I never can rail;
It is passed, and I reck not; my fortune I dare:
Henceforward, the shroud of my hopes is my sail;
And the peace which I sought, I have found--in despair.
Caroline. If that's called lively, or in part or wholly,
The gods preserve me from your melancholy.
Helen. If aught additional, of this kind,
Within your memory you should find,
And feel, to sing or say, inclined;
Like mayors' addresses, never read,
We'll take it, please, as sung,--or said.
Harry. It is no use saying I adore you, Sophy;
For if I do you only cry out, oh fy!
Nathless, as some one else must sing;
Wait only till I screw this string.
I love not horse,
I love not wine;
Nor song, nor dance,
Be joys of mine.
And dull to me
Are the skies above;
I love not lore,
I love not love;
But thee I now
Love, and e'er will,
For love's the best
Point in me still;
And since my heart
Owns nought above thee,
It must be philo--
Sophy, to love thee.
Laurence. Hast thou got anything there for me?
For surely thou never shouldst bring me near thee,
Unless thou hast some gift with thee
To bribe me to hear thee.
Edward. I bring thee neither bribe nor boon,
I offer only flowers,
Which gathered thus the hope devise
Each other's hearts are ours.
Receive them lady, in that breast
With peace and purity to rest;
And oh, if not too much for prayer,
With them, my life my love be there.
Laura. Thou mayst be happy if thou wilt,
Nor envy these poor flowers their spot;
For close as in a clenchèd hand
Thy love within my heart hath lot.
Fanny. Who mentioned ghosts? In nothing I so glory
As a right thrilling, chilling, good ghost story.
Edward. But on a soft and fragrant summer eve,
With glistening flowers and flashing waters by,
One lacks the proper impulse to believe:--
But then, I don't believe them.
Will. Oh! nor I.
Lucy. They want a fireside and a howling storm;
Summer time seems too sensuous and warm.
Frederic. Oh! you are a parlous little infidel,
Or I could tell a tale; but I am not well.
My head seems wrong, and somehow, altogether,
Feels like a bullet on a peacock's feather.
Walter. Do you believe that spirits interfere
With men, events, or actions anywhere?
Charles. Let gold bagged priests, from Ganges to Bermudas,
The gospel preach, according to St. Judas;
It is my opinion, if the truth were known,
That earth pertains to man and beast alone;
And neither saint, nor fiend, nor bright nor dark angel,
Between the south pole and the port of Archangel,
Have any call, or leave, or will, or power
To meddle with a mortal for an hour.
Fanny. Oh! you're an unbeliever.
Charles. That is true,
So far as this--I don't believe in you.
Helen. Sir, you are rude. But since my faith's attacked,
What of immortals? Is it not a fact
That saints and demons ofttimes interact?
Such the belief at least in times of yore,
Which, if we share not, our disgrace is more.
Things sacred and supernal did we mind
More, and omit the meaner cares of life,
Our souls would grow like holy, like refined,
With loftier thoughts and nobler actions rife.
There is an ancient legend I have heard
About a saint, a demon, and a stone,
Which bears upon this matter word for word;
A marvel I myself have seen and known.
Harry. Enchant us, pray, still further. We will be
Moveless and mute to meet your wishes;
Yours the sole speech, your awful audience we;
Between us, Saint Antonio, and the fishes.
Helen. A stone stands in a rustic town,
Which once the neighbouring hill did crown;
Nigh to the house of God it lay
Before 'twas set where now it stands;
And how and why there gray--beards say
Was ne'er the work of mortal hands;
But list, and ye eftsoons shall know,
From runes translated into rhyme,
How saint and fiend would have it so
Far back within the olden time.
That village church stands fair and free;
Those village bells peal merrily,
As well they might and still they may,
On many a bright autumnal day,
When both in hostel, cot, and hall,
They hold the village festival.
The godly rustics on that day
At church had met to praise and pray,
And thank the Giver of all good,
By him that died upon the rood,
For harvest stored and daily food;
And, as Saint Wilfrid's care they claimed,
Oft in their prayers his name was named.
At morn, at noon, at eventide,
Their task the merry ringers plied,
Pealing each time, with joy increased,
A welcome to the rustic feast.
But it roused the wrath of the fell fiend,
As high o'er minster fane he leaned,
In the dim glooming of the day,
Blent with the moonlight's silvery gray.
Quoth he, `I hate that holy peal;
Yon village church my wrath shall feel;'
He said: and from the stately lands,
Whereon the high cathedral stands,
He heaved a huge gray granite stone,
Erst as a druid altar known:
And lifting it between his teeth,
And three times scantly drawing breath,
Wide on the air his arms he spread,
And dropped it on the minster's head:
E'en as an eagle drops a hare
Brought for her callow younglets' fare.
Upon the main tower straight he stands,
And as he glanced o'er field and fell,
He weighed the weapon in his hands,
And took his aim and distance well:
And when the moon's last glimmering ray
Died on the tall church spire away,
Three hours he gazed it through the dark,
Nor winked his eye once on the mark.
As midnight tolled--for mightiest then
Is all demoniac power o'er men--
The rock he raised--foul fiend forbear!
And hurled it, hurtling, through the air.
Saint Wilfrid, from his seat above,
Where with the blessed, whose deathless days
Are passed 'tween deeds of sacred love
And their adored redeemer's praise,
Cast on the house of praise and prayer,
The object of his hallowed care,
One glance, and marked the missile fly
Midway betwixt the earth and sky,
A momentary prayer he made,--
And there the mighty mass was stayed;
Aloft in air the altar hung,
As moveless as before 'twas flung.
Then spake Saint Wilfrid: `Baffled fiend,
What evil can from heaven be screened?
Though in the depth of midnight thou
Didst ween to crush yon pile below,
Yet know that to celestial eyes
Divinest daylight never dies;
And saints defend the things they love,
As God protects the saints above.
While men invoke their holy names,
And on their prayers for succour call,
So long shall saints fulfil their claims,
So long their shrines shall never fall.'
He ceased; the air--arrested rock
Fell earthwards with a harmless shock,
A long half mile beyond the bound
Of the good church's hallowed ground.
The demon balked made off in rage,
And the stone slept for many an age.
And still, a startling sight I ween,
The foul fiend's teeth--dents may be seen;
And still, though grey and wondrous old,
The stone itself is never cold,
But keeps within its fated form
A gust of the fiend's fire--breath warm.
Charles. Well, may we speak?
Helen. Oh, certainly. Give tongue.
Charles. I know not what is false if that be true;
Nor need we care or reckon what is wrong.
Helen. You are content to take the shallowest view.
Apollo laid his lyre upon a stone;
The stone was seized with music; and the touch
Of mortal could awake the god's own tone
For ever after. Marvel ye not much.
Wherever God may choose, or man may dwell,
This is an ever--acting miracle.
When once the gift of godlike poesy
Hath touched the heart, it answers everything
In its own tongue, but with a harmony
Instinct of heaven. Let the world then fling
Its arms of honour round the poet's breast,
And heaven may hear earth's music and have rest.
Now true it is the great earth knoweth not
That it is part of heaven and God's own lot;
But some there are who know it. So there be
Bards who affect much infidelity;
Although they never can abandon quite
Their loyal love to the pure Infinite.
Charles. True, my liege.
Helen. Hush! now Frederic we await
The story that you spoke of. Tell it straight.
Frederic. Please you, my liege, I'll try then and remember;
And for the rest--why, fancy it's December.
'Twas midnight, and a noble sat in his ancestral hall,
Where many a stern old portrait gloomed along the gilded wall;
And ivory, marble, ebony, and tapestries adorned
The seats he used, the floors he trode; for meaner things he scorned.
And youth, and fame, and might were his--the splendid might of mind;
His spirit swept and bowed all hearts as bending forests wind;
Yet youth and genius oft, too oft, in worship bow the knee,
At pleasure's shrine, in folly's fane; more madly none than he.
He sat, but not in solitude: a damsel by his side,
Of beauty bright and gay of heart, him with the wine cup plied;
Gazing on him with eye as though to him her soul were due:
Oh, nought 'neath heaven itself might match that eye's dark sunny blue!
From which, too, ever and anon smiles o'er her face would fly,
Like the electric flames which flit o'er summer's evening sky;
And pearls were beaded o'er her brow, and gems lit up her breast,
Like dew drops on the morning rose when wakening from rest,
`One parting goblet,' cried the youth, `ere I away to--night:
Bring me the old monk's skull--cup, girl; peace to his jovial sprite!'
She by the lofty window went,--where, in the moon's pale sheen,
The grey old cloisters arch about their fountain--centred green;
The statued satyrs seemed to grin and gibber 'neath her eye,
And as she looked, a death--like cloud came creeping up the sky,
And in one long and trembling moan the night gust strove to die;
Up to the ebon cabinet with flowery pearl inlaid,
And seized the goblet--skull, and laughed,--how laughed that merry maid!
He poured it full with bubbling wine, impatient to be quaffed,
Full to the silver--written rim, and drained it at a draught;
`Ah, would its owner were but here!' and gaily both they laughed.
`Again,' he cried,--`but what is that stirs in the far--off gloom?'
The lady looked, and shrieked, and rushed out of that royal room.
Enveloped in a sable cowl, and stole of sightless hue,
A ghostly figure glided swift that noble youth unto.
Why drops the goblet from his grasp? Why trembles he with dread?
The grave hath given birth;--he sees a spirit of the dead!
Another moment, unappalled, erectly still he stands;
Not he would quail to man nor fiend, for half his goodly lands.
Yet, like a tree by sudden gust, his soul was seized with fear
An instant--and his spirit shook as drew the spectre near;
His small white hand, veined like a leaf, close to his bosom clung,
And every nerve and sinew grew like to a bowstring strung,
As with a shadow's voice it said--`I am the Monk of old,
A fragment of whose mortal frame I at thy feet behold.
For that I plead not, reck not now; a thing of nobler fate
Hast thou perverted and defiled than aught of human state,
Than bone or body; sin, in truth, the soul doth desecrate.'
`Nay, holy father!' said the youth, `if thou hast left old Death
To preach to me at dead of night, waste not thy pious breath!
Pledge me in this! the night is cold, yet colder is the grave;
And wine will warm thee. Shrink not back: immortals should be brave.
Ah! knowst the cup? Well, heed it not! right welcome shalt thou be
To drain it with me every night, and--benedicite.'
With that he raised the cup to fill and quaff it as before,
Till fast as poured the wine became but dust encrusted gore;
He cast it on the fire,--the lake could not have quenched it more.
Again the spectre spake, and still in cold and tomb--like tone,
`Drink thou with whom thou wilt, with girls, with gallants, or alone;
I come to warn thee of thy fate; a fate to me made known.'
The old monk raised his cowl; nor face, nor feature was there there;
Nay, nothing but two eyes which burned like stars distinct in air.
`Thou in a foreign clime shalt die, and thy poor fleshly frame
Be borne across the seas to rest by theirs from whom it came.
Thy heart alone shall be inurned upon the spot where thou
Wilt pay the forfeit of thy life; where Death looks for thee now.
Embalmed, enshrined thy heart shall be, in gemmed and costly case,
And as a thing of worship set before a nation's face;
Till, in the lapse of coming years, some sacrilegious thief
Shall filch that relic, set at nought that weeping people's grief.
The sacred dust which dwelt within, the dust which now swells high
Within thy bosom, he shall strew abroad relentlessly.
And this in retribution, youth, for that thou there hast done.'
The voice, the vision ceased, and lo! that instant it was gone.
Again the night wind sweeps along those old and ivied halls;
Again o'er lake and fountain free the witching moonlight falls;
Chequering through the panes the dim old paintings round the walls.
But there was one who never went into that room again;
And prayers, and tears, and jeers were each alike essayed in vain.
That dark unearthly visitor was ever in her mind,
Like to the awe which filleth fanes where gods have once been shrined.
And morning met the youth all pale, and pacing to and fro:--
But ah! the goblet skull he touched never again, I trow.
Lucy. There; does not that convert you?
Charles. Not a whit.
I don't believe a single word of it;
Nor yet of summer fairies, winter ghosts,
Nor any other spiritual hosts.
Sophia. See then how inconsistent you must be
In the sad tale you told us about love.
Charles. The credit of my creed concerns but me,
Either in earth below or heaven above.
Helen. You speak more laxly, Charles, than I think prudent;
And quite forget your recent life as student.
Charles. But students, whatsoe'er their kind,
Must now and then unstring the mind.
In years gone by I have believed so much,--
My liege imperial knows I don't deceive her,
That as infinity does on nothing touch,
My next door neighbour's now an unbeliever;
And no one can imagine who has not
Tried incredulity, how blessed his lot.
Emma. Just now, Charles, you uncourteously named
The fairies.
Charles. I confess.
Emma. Then I propose,--
Of your impiety are we so ashamed,
A solemn censure on such loose opinions;
And strict expulsion from these free dominions.
Caroline. Have mercy!
Helen. What can be too bad for those
Who'll not believe their senses? I suppose
All here have seen the rings the fairies track
In dancing on the mead; and he must lack
Mere sense who doubts of their existence, when
Their footsteps are as marked as those of men?
Charles. Commandress of the beautiful! of these thrones
Supreme disposer! star incarnate, hear!
Thy sceptral lily no companion knows;
Thy flowery crown no rival in our sphere.
And though we all have doubtless, curious, viewed,--
While large o'erloaded wealthy looking wains,
Quietly swaggering home through leafy lanes,
In autumn evening's shadowy solitude,
Leave upon all low branches, as they come,
Straws for the birds, ears of the harvest home,--
Those dark green rings where fairies sit and sup,
Crushing the roseate dew in the acorn cup;
Where by his new made bride, the bridegroom sips,
The white round moon upon his longing lips
Shimmering; yet know, 'tis only by report,
By fiction, legend, by mistake, in short,
We smiling tell the old tradition;
And half affect to understand.
But while I grant your loftier position,
Ask any fiery proof which may demand
The fateful service of this loyal hand;
I'll not be reasoned into superstition.
Helen. Men! I give notice I am sitting here
To answer and console the sad in heart.
Who is in love?
Charles. I am, sweet judge, I fear,
And hope unbiassed you will take my part.
Helen. What do you wish?
Charles. Fair justice, if it please--
Helen. To mock our ears with your mock miseries?
Sit; we'll not hear them. You shall truly tell
That love does oftener than he says, farewell.
Charles. With truth I cannot; but I'll state my case.
Helen. May it bear out your miserable face!
Charles. I have lived on ladies' eyes,
Dined on kisses, supped on sighs;
I have warmed me with their smiles,
I have been wet through with tears;
They've half--slain me with their wiles--
Charming, cheating, pretty dears;
They have scratched me in their play,
Sighed and sucked the wound away;
They have squeezed me black and blue,
Roughed my hair and boxed my ears,
Laughed and looked me through and through:
Oh the cruel angel dears!
Fanny. Indeed you have been sadly treated.
Charles. Ah me! how I have been jilted, cheated;
It would move the passion of a stone;
And yet when not with ladies I'm alone.
I like the company of women most,
And after theirs my own:
Among men I feel always lost.
Ladies' society for me, or none.
Helen. Peace! say no more. We all agree in part.
This court thinks fit to confiscate your heart;
And, till the fine be paid, to one at least--
Some lady here--you cannot be released.
Begone! thank us that you escape so well
From what it is impossible to tell.
Charles. Oh! I appeal against my fate.
Helen. Just as a cur a coach may bait.
It nought avails.
Charles. But what am I to do?
The puzzling power of a pair of eyes!
One pair is black, one grey, another blue:
I am a sacrifice!
They are three--the sweet sisters I love in my heart,
And all so unlike and so fair;
When with all, I am longing to love them apart,
And apart, I would all of them there.
By the world, I dare say, I shall greedy be reckoned,
But my wish I can name in a word:
I would live with the first, I would die with the second,
And immortal I'd be with the third.
Helen. Go: we have pardoned you with like contrition,
As we condemned--without condition;
This point excepted--that you sing a song
In token your deliverance is wrong,
Though just my judgment. Pray don't keep us long;
Or banishment perhaps may be your lot.
Charles. Oh! I protest against it.
Others. Despot fair,
Your sentence is too cruel.
Helen. Hold slaves, what?
Dispute! I fine you each. So now, despair.
Thus We adopt first the most stringent measure;
Our taxes are your songs, your fines our pleasure.
These ladies will assist you now and then.
Laura. Oh, certainly.
Emma. Behave yourselves like men.
Charles. There's no escaping, it appears to me,
However nod and wink, etc., be.
I look on thee while singing,
Thou bright--eyed love of mine,
As misers while they're ringing
The gold they love to shine.
Then while on this poor earth,
Where pain and sorrow bound us,
We'll quaff the wine in mirth,
And music make around us;
We'll drink the wine--god, Bacchus,
And all our merry friends,
And if old Death attack us,
Why, then, the frolic ends.
Laurence. Pray, is that all? The moral, to my thought,
Is yet to come, as certainly it ought.
Frank. When a man asks for morals, it's a sign
That he is wanting either them or wine.
Charles. Let the young be glad! though cares in crowds
Leave scarce a break of blue,
Yet hope gives wings to morning clouds;
And while their shade the sky enshrouds--
By love and wine which through them shine,
They are turned to a golden hue.
Then give us wine, for we ought to shine
In the hour of dark and dew.
Helen. A broad hint truly. Pay the bard his fee.
I dare say he is thirsty.
Frank and Others. So are we!
Charles. What ho! a butt of sack!
Helen. But no butt here
Or sack you'll get another way I fear.
Remember that, within our sacred sight,
You should continue abstinent, to--night.
Indeed I don't approve that sort of song;
And think it very rude and rather wrong.
To make my subjects good is my main plan;
Let them be merry with it, if they can.
Mind, as it is, I am resolved almost,
To make you forfeit your important post.
Charles. Lady, I swear I never to offend meant.
Our next shall move you all as an amendment.
Helen. Now seriatim, gentles, if you please;
We are quite resolved to list your melodies.
Lucy. Come, no more flinching.
Frank, Walter, and Others,
apart. Let us sing a glee
And so by singing all at once, evade
The separate penalty.
Edward. Dost think that she,
The tyrant of this fair festivity,
Will bear to have her words so far bewrayed?
No more than ice bear blood--heat in the shade.
Walter. We can but try.
Charles. Remember what I told you,
And think upon the bright eyes that behold you.
The crow--the crow! the great black crow!
He cares not to meet us wherever we go;
He cares not for man, beast, friend, nor foe,
For nothing will eat him he well doth know.
Know--know! you great black crow!
It's a comfort to feel like a great black crow!
The crow--the crow! the great black crow!
He loves the fat meadow--his taste is low;
He loves the fat worms, and he dines in a row
With fifty fine cousins all black as a sloe.
Sloe--sloe! you great black crow!
But it's jolly to fare like a great black crow.
The crow--the crow! the great black crow!
He never gets drunk on the rain or snow;
He never gets drunk, but he never says no!
If you press him to tipple ever so.
So--so! you great black crow!
It's an honour to soak like a great black crow.
The crow--the crow! the great black crow!
He lives for a hundred years and mo';
He lives till he dies, and he dies as slow
As the morning mists down the hill that go.
Go--go! you great black crow;
But it's fine to live and die like a great black crow.
Helen. Your principles are purer, I perceive. You
Are much the same in practice.
Frank. I believe you.
Edward. Freedom, authority,--twin poles
Round which revolve all human souls,--
The many choose that easier state
Where others for them arbitrate;
These, stronger, liberty prefer,
With livelier pleasure, power to err;
But lest rebellion dare dispute the helm
With her, appointed over us, to be
The crownèd mistress of our joyous realm,
I here maintain her sacred sovereignty.
Firm to her throne, her crown, I stand,
And vouch her irresponsible command.
Helen. Thanks, Edward; I would knight you on the spot,
But, really, I'm afraid my sword's forgot.
However, take my verbal accolade!
Imagine I embrace you; and in proof
Of your high act of fealty just made,
Sing, sir, I charge you, on your own behoof.
Edward. Sing I cannot; but if you please to list
A fable, from a fine old moralist,
Whose name I have forgotten--but no matter--
Æsop, or some one--probably the latter--
Mark! In the silver age, ere guile had birth,
While beasts yet spake the mother tongue of earth,
Which the birds set to music, and each kind
Lived in pure order, and with friendlike mind,
The lion and the horse, the ass and mule,
Had shared the earth among them; but each grown
Ambitious to possess all power alone,
They therefore met to settle who should rule.
The eagle they petitioned to preside,
And swore by his decision to abide.
The bird of curvèd beak and radiant eye
Bowed wordlessly, and swept down from the sky.
Imprimis, said the ass, be it known that I,
Beside myself--though now being noon they sleep--
Speak for the beeves, and represent the sheep.
A pack, the lion cried, of lazy elves!
Take notice, that we represent ourselves.
The horse responded, true! The mule concurred.
Now, quoth the eagle, let the cause be heard.
My liege, the lion took him at the word.
He need not say he came of royal race;
His voice was thunder; most he loved the chase;
And hated aught was cowardly or base.
He for his magnanimity was famed;
And only what he killed he fairly claimed.
The deity beside had honoured him
And chose his countenance 'mid the cherubim.
The horse, too, claimed descent from noblest blood:
His fathers formed the sun--god's fiery stud;
Foremost in war, in peace, in use, in show,
The choicest he of all the brutes below.
The ass then; what you each have said is true
But hath an angel e'er appeared to you?
I trow not; humbly therefore I precede
Lion and horse, I think; both great indeed,
But ne'er have known the glory to be rode,
As I have, by the Son, on earth, of God;
In memory whereof, across my shoulders,
A cross may be beheld by all beholders.
At this the horse and lion jerked their manes;
Their mouths could boast of honours without reins;
Neither did glory in subjection lie.
I boast not, quoth the ass, heaven knows, not I;
But to be guided by a mightier mind
Than of your own, or man's, your master's kind,
Is honour. Said the horse, in pride self--schooled,
That only proves you fittest to be ruled.
The question now is--as I understand--
Which of us four is fittest to command.
That is the question, said the lion coldly.
Why, then, broke in the mule, a trifle boldly,
If in my own poor person I can prove
All your chief virtues, at but one remove,
Or those of two of you, at least, 'twere best
Choose me at once, and set the thing at rest.
'Tis true I do not roar, nor do I bray;
Some think my whinny very like a neigh;
And with good reason, I am proud to say.
To you, dear ass, upon the sire's side,
To you, sir steed, I'm on the dam's, allied;
Wherefore,--A fig for this vain pedigree,
Exclaimed the lion; what's all this to me?
Shall I my long--lived ancestry declare,
And tawny mothers in their Libyan lair?
My race preceded Adam's; that I swear.
Perhaps, you'll say next who's your son and heir.
His would--be majesty hung down his head.
Mark him! the mule's indulgent kindred said,
Go, child. Content you with an humbler rule.
Seek not the throne. Remember you're a mule.
Your many rare and virtuous parts we own;
But make no pretext to the bestial throne.
We all are sensible--The mule replied,
We are all too sensible, on our own side.
It goes against my nature to contend;
I never was called obstinate--with a friend.
From this dispute I henceforth hold aloof;
And here abjure,--but no, accept my hoof.
Good, said the eagle; on that view I base
My judgment in this all important case.
Let each competitor his natural place
Resume. The lion, monarchlike, alone
Hath sympathies with no race but his own;
And therefore may, impartial, fill the throne.
The rest, that with each other kindly blend,
And form one type of being, we commend
To labour and endure, this; that, to fend
The throne against the legioned herd, or those
'Gainst any that may chance to prove their foes.
And if aught hostile 'tween those twain should pass,
Let the great lion guard the burdened ass;
For labour is most honoured, as we see
The ass, by heaven's all working deity.
In rank though last, in honour first he stands,
Conscious of contact with divinest hands.
Let horse, ass, lion, thus to live agree,
Share and obey a mutual sovereignty;
And the fourth aid and mediate 'tween the three;
Intact in nature, ever furthering peace
And moderated temper. So shall cease
All strife among you, and supreme respect
Grace the pure power such good that can effect.
To this the four assented, and retired,
Well pleased. The eagle into heaven aspired.
Caroline. O happy days! but then, you must allow,
Brutes spoke as sensibly as men do now.
Edward. If all said square not wholly with the time
Firstly laid down, it matters not in rhyme;
Which, with an all--controlling care of things,
Gives its own laws to chaos or to kings.
Frank. A heart full of feeling, a cup full of wine;
Come--sip, love; come--sip, love;
There's nothing I lack but that sweet lip of thine;
Thy lip, love--thy lip, love.
Thine eyes are like two romping stars,
That look as they had drank of wine;
And flying from night's brow, had brought
Their liquid love to thine.
But I forget; they're not the words I mean.
Helen. Wilt sing, Sophia?
Sophia. I obey thee, queen.
Of knight and lady to each other true,
I sing the generous lay, their due.
Yes, lady dear, for aye--adieu!
The false world I defy, lady;
But thou, sweet soul, so fair, so true,
I would thou couldst not sigh, lady.
Oh! mind thee not of me when gone,
But lay thy memory by, lady:
In light and joyaunce live thou on;
Leave me, leave me to sigh, lady!
O fair! O true! for aye I go;
From thee, from thee I hie, lady:
I must not yield me to thy woe,
I dare not list thee sigh, lady.
Yonder thou seest my father's hall,
Whose turrets pierce the sky, lady;
Ah! rather might they on me fall,
Than I would hear thee sigh, lady!
To far--off lands now wends his way;
And, if he there should die, lady,
Oh! let thy true love, happy, say
He never caused thee sigh, lady.
Farewell for aye! It wrings thy heart,
It drowns thy darkening eye, lady.
Farewell! I feel what 'tis to part;
But say thou wilt not sigh, lady!
Will. May none here ever know as true
The false cold lover's last adieu!
But yet to show things as they be,
The false maid thus ye all may see.
Thou lov'st another, maiden!
And I am free as thou;
My heart with scorn is laden,
To speak but with thee now.
Though through thy glossy ringlets
My hand hath often played,
Here--take it back! I loathe it--
The long imbosomed braid.
Away, away! no more with thee,
Thou falsest, fairest maid!
One heart is ripe and laden
With love for me e'en now;
I'll woo me then the maiden
More kind, more true than thou.
Then give it to my rival,
The black and glossy braid;
And give the hand which twined it,
The cheek whereon it played.
Away, away! no more with thee,
Thou fairest, falsest maid!
Helen. There beams, methinks, a story in those eyes,
Lucy, of thine, of faithfulness to death,
Unlike the desolate discords which now rise
So oft 'tween hearts love still companioneth.
Lucy. Most gentle sovereign! sacred be thy hest;
Would the light levy yet were worthier thee.
My lay belongs then to the city bright,
Which, goddess--like, sprang sparkling from the sea.
Thus to a fair Venetian maid,
The proudest of the train,
With which the Doge went forth arrayed
To wed his vassal main:
`This very day,' her lover said,
`Will Venice go the sea to wed.'
`Now tell me, lady, what to do,
To win this hand of thine;
I'll risk both soul and body too,
For such a prize divine.'
`I'll have the bridal ring,' said she,
`Wherewith the Doge will wed the sea!
Came forth the Doge and all his train,
And sailed upon the sea;
The banners waved, and music's strain
Rose soft and heavenwardly;
And blue waves raced to seize the ring
Which glided through them glittering.
The lover through the bright array
Rushed by the Doge's side:
A plunge--and plume and mantle gay
Lay lashing on the tide;
He heard a shriek, but down he dived,
To follow where the ring arrived.
He sought so long, that all above
Believed him gone for aye;
Nor knew they 'twas his haughty love
Who shrieked and swooned away.
At length he rose to light--half dead--
But held the ring above his head.
The lady wept--the lover smiled--
She had not deemed he would
Have dared it,--was a foolish child--
And loved as none else could.
`Take it, and be a faithful bride
To death,' the lover said, and died.
The lady to a convent hied,
And took the holy vows;
And was till death a faithful bride
To her eternal spouse.
And then the ring her lover gave
They buried with her in her grave.
Walter. A gem may have a hundred sides,
And glitter bright in each:
Where true philosophy presides
Pleasure it is to teach;
I therefore choose the charms of happy faith,
Secure in love's all present joy;
From aught that might e'en dreams alloy,
With dread of future skaith.
I dreamed of thee, love, in the eve,
And I lay among bright blushing flowers;
I awoke--and, ah! how could I grieve,
If the blooms hurried back to their bowers?
I dreamed of thee, love, in the night,
And the stars stood around by my head;
I awoke to thy beauty so bright,
And the stars hid their faces and fled.
I dreamed of thee, love, in the morn,
And a poet's bright dreamings drew nigh;
I awoke, and I laughed them to scorn:
They were black by the blink of thine eye.
I dreamed of thee, love, in the day,
And I wept, as I slept, o'er thy charms;
I awoke, as my dream went away,
And my tears were all wet on thine arms.
Helen. Ah! who would long for bliss above,
That tastes the joys below?
Or, hanging on the lips of Love,
Would seek to kiss his brow?
Unless to change and clear the taste,
Lest sweets in sameness run to waste.
George. Come, do you dance?
Laurence. No; we two here remain.
Marian. But why indulge in mutual sorrows vain?
And if I grant this one request--
Laurence. It is the last time I shall be so blessed.
Oh! thou art kind, and I will think
This wine to be thy love I drink;
Blood my heart would gladly miss,
Could it so be filled with this;
And each pulse would madlier move,
Warm with wine, alive with love.
Look upon it, love, and weep
Thine eyelight o'er its purple deep;
So each luminous glance shall be
Like a phosphor globelet in the sea.
Other lovers soon will sue thee--
Let them--they will ne'er possess
More than I enjoy who view the
Lightning of thy loveliness.
It may be love and light in heaven,
But here on earth such love is death;
And such light is blindness driven,
Lance--like, through the breast and breath.
All who love thee sure will die:
Thy beauty hath fatality.
For now is near my heart's last hour;
I feel it fading like a flower,
When folding up its leaves to rest,
And narrowing in its own sweet breast.
I mean not that I die to--day,
But that my spirit wears away.
And, save thyself, sees nought to lure it
Back to earth's falsehoods which immure it.
Marian. Thou wilt live yet many happy years,
Far more in number than the tears
Men shed o'er broken hearts, if not
When first forsaken, aye forgot;
While we, according to old fashion,
With our own tears must slake our passion;
Or weeping in our bosoms lorn and lone,
Try if tears cannot turn the heart to stone.
Laurence. Promise, dearest, when I die.
Marian. Such phrase can scarce to me apply.
Laurence. Not to mourn, nor weep, nor sigh;
Eyes like thine should never weep,
Nor sweet bosom sorrow keep.
Let nor stone, nor verse, nor aught,
Mark where rests--what loved and thought;
If they ask thee where I lie,
Say, within thy memory.
Weep not thou o'er grave of mine;
Sprinkle on it sparkling wine;
That shall keep the grass all new
Like to an immortal dew;
And some fallen star shall stay,
Watching, while thou art away.
Scatter rose and ivy wreath
On the turf I rest beneath;
Dance and sing my favourite song,
Through the deep blue twilight long;
In that rich and ringing tone,
Heaven to thee, love, lends alone.
When I'm gone, then, come again;
Talk to me in lightsome strain;
Should I answer, start not thou!
I'll but say I'm blessed as now;
Should no sound the silence break,
Think me, oh! too blessed to speak.
Let me lie till angels say,
Wake! the world's long week is passed:
Spirit! this is holy--day;
This is God's--the best and last.
Marian. Well were such feeling, such request,
To any save to me addressed.
Helen. Come Marian, having finished our parade,
We have leisure now to list another lay:
But since you have not been dancing, I'm afraid
Laurence and you are idle, lovesick, say?
Marian. Could I comply I'd not remain thus mute.
Frederic. Shall I sing for you as a substitute?
I saw a rose was fading--
Fading 'neath mine eye;
When thus, with love's upbraiding,
I heard that passed one sigh:--
Oh! give me back one blush--
But one from out the many
I loved to give to thee
Ere other I knew any--
Liked or looked on any.
For I am sad and lonely--
Lone and like to die;
Oh! give me back one only,
I am too weak to cry.
The beam, the breeze, the dew,
Shun now my shrinking bosom;
Tears I have need but few,
Their brine can bring no blossom--
Me, nor blight nor blossom.
Then to that rose was failing--
Failing 'neath mine eye,
I said, 'tis useless wailing;
Forget, forgive, and die.
One look to heaven in prayer,
And one to me in kindness;
The deathwind shook its leaves,
And I was one with blindness--
Lone in burning blindness.
Harry. Although I would not needlessly intrude--
Fanny. To sing, not being asked, is rude.
Harry. To cease with such a dull down--hearted ditty,
Would be a wrong, I think, as well as pity.
Lucy. Pray, sing us something livelier, then.
Sophia. And don't be personal again.
Annie's eyes are like the night,
Nell's are like the morning gray;
Fanny's like the gloaming light,
Hal's are sunny as the day:
Bright--dark--blue--gray,
I could kiss them night and day:
Grey--blue--dark--bright--
Morning, evening, noon, and night.
Annie's brow's arched like the sky,
Nell's is white without a spot;
Hal's is as a palace high,
Fanny's lowly like a cot:
High--arched--low--white,
I could kiss them day and night;
White--low--arched--high,
Kiss them night and day could I.
Annie's lips are warm and bright,
Fanny's free and full of play;
Hal's are sweetest out of sight,
Nell's are always in the way:
Bright--warm--sweet--play,
I could kiss them night and day;
Play--sweet--warm--bright,
All the day and all the night.
Lucy. Had I a little sister
Just a fairy, six years old;
And with eyes of grey or blue,
Or of dark, or sunny hue,
Why, I think I might have kissed her,
In the way that you have told.
But for sake of sleep and quiet,
'Twould be mad, I think, to try it.
Will. Mulcted in song I hasten to discharge
The debt I owe, and pay it thus in large.
Oh! Love's a bold pirate--the soul of the sea!
He impresses the proud, and he fetters the free;
His flag's a red heart, in the bows are his guns,
And the wind's always with him--the foe ever runs.
Oh! Love's a bold pirate--the son of the sea!
The winds are his laws, and his laws make him free.
The star that he steers by, her eye he adores,
And the haven he's bound for, earth's infinite shores.
Oh! Love's a bold pirate--the sword of the sea!
For the poor he hath plunder, and fame for the free;
At home in a chase, he nor spares foe nor friend;
Though a stern chase, and long chase, the longest must end.
Oh! Love's a bold pirate--the pet of the sea!
He will do all, and dare all, 'gainst all that may be;
He hails her all fair, just before they fall to't,
And his foe makes his prize and his consort to boot.
Helen. Were Festus here, and his strange friend,
Who like his shadow, follows him,
We should not feel so lost, nor lend
One's heart to mirth I scarce commend;
Mirth, whose hot breath pure soul will dim.
For he whom all here present, love,
And I adore, fails ne'er to move
Our hearts to dwell on loftier themes
Than pleasure's chase, or joy's vain dreams.
Charles. Your loveliness is always right,
In fallibility's despite.
Though now as fond of harmless mirth,
As any faithless miscreant on the earth;
Yet cultured mind it scarce beseems,
All art's achievements, wisdom's gains,
And truths, which knowledge justly deems
Outbalance conquest's costliest pains,
For youth's vain joys to sacrifice;
And mute but bright applause of beauty's eyes.
Helen. Witness, ye stars! the vow to you addressed;
Shall never more such thoughtless hours be given
By me to merest pleasures! Thus confessed,
Behold this crosslet, from its velvet rest,
Like birdling bright, from mother's nest
Snatched, I have placed upon my breast;
Sign that for higher aims my soul hath striven;
You, Charles, have seen me, and shall know the rest.
Charles. I marked a constellation rise in heaven.
Marian. And what remains for me but rest,
Acceptance, and a soul to peace resigned?
Let me not heaven's decrees contest,
Nor scan with carping mind.
Life to lay down, as love to leave,
If called, I ought without regret;
Comes not the beauty of the eve
Till all the sun be set.
And though they last not quite an hour,
Yet have the vespers more
Of holy evercoming power,
Than all day--rites before.
If soon the sunshine of my day
Hath grown beclouded, who shall say
Life's worse probation is not o'er?
Helen. Be it, for mercy's sake, I pray.
And now that we enough have laughed and mourned,
This house of kings and queens must stand adjourned.
The day hath darkened into twilight, night
Hath glittered into starlight, since we met;
The restorative dew hangs thick and bright
On herb and tree and flower; yon foamy jet
Flings up its bubbling music chillier now;
And droop the blooms that long have wreathed the brow.
Ladies, and you bold serfs! I now propose
To bring this joyous vigil to a close;
And as all bidden have now paid their fine,
To leave these heroes to their fate--their wine.
Charles. Except yourself, dear despot, all
Have done their best to hum or squall;
But if your beautyship would condescend
To teach us what true melody might be,
There's not a creature present but would lend
His ears to listen for a century.
Helen. Sir, I respect you for your flattery;
All compliments of course are strange to me;
The moral strength required for flattery now,
To a fair queen is great you must allow:
I only envy you the power to make them.
Charles. 'Tis sure the better part to take them.
Helen. We don't believe them when you pay them.
Charles. Nor we when we say them.
No longer then, ladies, I pray,
At our flattery or fickleness grieve;
If you never believe what we say,
We never say what we believe.
Helen. From our rule and example, gentles, learn,
And lay this to your hearts each one in turn:
Pay compliments, pay visits, pay respects,
But pay your just debts first.
Harry. Our whole effects!
Helen. The royal rule of pure equality,
In complaisance and kindness, still shall be
Confided in, and reverenced by me:
So shall my deed of abdication make
All love the loser for the losing's sake.
Attend! my song the constancy discovers
Of a right royal pair of lovers.
Come, beloved, let us roam
Forth into the golden fields;
Yon high palace marks our home,
Ours is all that nature yields:
Come, betrothèd and espoused,
Earth is rising towards the sun,
And with light and joy aroused,
Meets the love within us one.
Open now thy sleep--dewed eyes,
Show the subject soul its queen;
Brighter than the newborn skies
Their delicious depths I ween.
Don thee, love, thy royal white;
Needs no more divine array;
Fairer than the morning light,
Rule thou ever with the day.
Come the morrow, day divine,
All shall wake and bless the sun;
Those thou lovest shall be mine,
They and thou and I be one:
Crown and throne the world shall gain,
Thou the universal state;
Bride of beauty, rise and reign,
Love thy life, and heaven thy fate.
Charles. The meaning whereof as I take it,--
Helen. True; it's exactly what you make it.
George. There's only one thing wanting that could mend
That song;--a blaze of fireworks at the end.
Helen. Farewell, friends! let us hope to meet again
When others may be present whom we know.
Edward. Adieu! ye semideities! in vain
The world may worship idols.
George. Pray, do go!--
Walter. At last the so--called soulless have departed,
Leaving sundry broken--hearted.
Frederic. To make the life of perfect mould,
Like that in Paradise of old,
Each must give their better part;
We our soul and they their heart.
Laurence. The night hath gone, and all the stars
Have vanished at the sun's bright warning;
Still the moon, ghostlike, haunts the heaven,
As though she deemed to her 'twas given:
What hath the moon to do with morning?
So love is fled, and all the fair
Gone; some with smiling, some with scorning,
Save one, the fairest far above:
But what have I to do with love,
More than the moon hath with the morning?
The moon hath lost her light, and seems
To dim the scene she was once adorning:
So my poor heart, its lovelight gone,
Still in the heavens where late it shone,
Lags like the moon upon the morning.
But I am likest to that moon in this,
That I am brightest when my love's away;
For when with her my borrowed light is lost,
As is the moon's amid the dazzling day.
Charles. I hear a step; 'tis his I am sure
By those most wished who forced to endure
These mumbled monologues disdain,
Justly, I think, their selfish strain.
Will. Friends it becomes friends' trust to seek;
And social, mid such themes as these,
Fit matters fitly treat; nor speak
Of aught not apt to mirth and ease.
Frank. 'Tis Festus! welcome.

Festus - 21.2



Philip James Bailey


Philip James Bailey's other poems:
  1. Festus - 35
  2. Festus - Proem
  3. Festus - 17
  4. Festus - 24
  5. Festus - 21.2


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