Kind solace in a dying hour!
Such, father, is not (now) my theme —
I will not madly deem that power
Of Earth may shrive me of the sin
Unearthly pride hath revell’d in-
I have no time to dote or dream:
You call it hope — that fire of fire!
It is but agony of desire:
If I can hope — Oh God! I can —
Its fount is holier — more divine —
I would not call thee fool, old man,
But such is not a gift of thine.
Know thou the secret of a spirit
Bow’d from its wild pride into shame.
O yearning heart! I did inherit
Thy withering portion with the fame,
The searing glory which hath shone
Amid the jewels of my throne,
Halo of Hell! and with a pain
Not Hell shall make me fear again —
O craving heart, for the lost flowers
And sunshine of my summer hours!
The undying voice of that dead time,
With its interminable chime,
Rings, in the spirit of a spell,
Upon thy emptiness — a knell.
I have not always been as now:
The fever’d diadem on my brow
I claim’d and won usurpingly —
Hath not the same fierce heirdom given
Rome to the Caesar — this to me?
The heritage of a kingly mind,
And a proud spirit which hath striven
Triumphantly with human kind.
On mountain soil I first drew life:
The mists of the Taglay have shed
Nightly their dews upon my head,
And, I believe, the winged strife
And tumult of the headlong air
Have nestled in my very hair.
So late from Heaven — that dew — it fell
(Mid dreams of an unholy night)
Upon me with the touch of Hell,
While the red flashing of the light
From clouds that hung, like banners, o’er,
Appeared to my half-closing eye
The pageantry of monarchy,
And the deep trumpet-thunder’s roar
Came hurriedly upon me, telling
Of human battle, where my voice,
My own voice, silly child! — was swelling
(O! how my spirit would rejoice,
And leap within me at the cry)
The battle-cry of Victory!
The rain came down upon my head
Unshelter’d — and the heavy wind
Rendered me mad and deaf and blind.
It was but man, I thought, who shed
Laurels upon me: and the rush —
The torrent of the chilly air
Gurgled within my ear the crush
Of empires — with the captive’s prayer —
The hum of suitors — and the tone
Of flattery ‘round a sovereign’s throne.
My passions, from that hapless hour,
Usurp’d a tyranny which men
Have deem’d, since I have reach’d to power,
My innate nature — be it so:
But father, there liv’d one who, then,
Then — in my boyhood — when their fire
Burn’d with a still intenser glow,
(For passion must, with youth, expire)
E’en then who knew this iron heart
In woman’s weakness had a part.
I have no words — alas! — to tell
The loveliness of loving well!
Nor would I now attempt to trace
The more than beauty of a face
Whose lineaments, upon my mind,
Are — shadows on th’ unstable wind:
Thus I remember having dwelt
Some page of early lore upon,
With loitering eye, till I have felt
The letters — with their meaning — melt
To fantasies — with none.
O, she was worthy of all love!
Love — as in infancy was mine —
’Twas such as angel minds above
Might envy; her young heart the shrine
On which my every hope and thought
Were incense — then a goodly gift,
For they were childish and upright —
Pure — as her young example taught:
Why did I leave it, and, adrift,
Trust to the fire within, for light?
We grew in age — and love — together,
Roaming the forest, and the wild;
My breast her shield in wintry weather —
And when the friendly sunshine smil’d,
And she would mark the opening skies,
I saw no Heaven — but in her eyes.
Young Love’s first lesson is — the heart:
For ‘mid that sunshine, and those smiles,
When, from our little cares apart,
And laughing at her girlish wiles,
I’d throw me on her throbbing breast,
And pour my spirit out in tears —
There was no need to speak the rest —
No need to quiet any fears
Of her — who ask’d no reason why,
But turn’d on me her quiet eye!
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