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"Of vassal or of knight's degree,
"For time, and care, and war, have plough'd 190 "My very soul from out my brow;
"And thus I should be disavow'd "By all my kind and kin, could they "Compare my day and yesterday; "This change was wrought, too, long ere age "Had ta'en my features for his page: "With years, ye know, have not declined "My strength, my courage, or my mind, "Or at this hour I should not be "Telling old tales beneath a tree, 200 "With starless skies my canopy. "But let me on: Theresa's form— "Methinks it glides before me now, "Between me and yon chestnut's bough, "The memory is so quick and warm; "And yet I find no words to tell "The shape of her I loved so well:
"She had the Asiatic eye,
"Such as our Turkish neighbourhood
"Hath mingled with our Polish blood, 210 "Dark as above us is the sky; "But through it stole a tender light, "Like the first moonrise at midnight; "Large, dark, and swimming in the stream, "Which seem'd to melt to its own beam; "All love, half languor, and half fire, "Like saints that at the stake expire, "And lift their raptured looks on high, "As though it were a joy to die. "A brow like a midsummer lake, 220
"Transparent with the sun therein, "When waves no murmur dare to make,
"And heaven beholds her face within. "A cheek and lip—but why proceed?
"I loved her then—I love her still; "And such as I am, love indeed
"In fierce extremes—in good and ill. "But still we love even in our rage, "And haunted to our very age
"With the vain shadow of the past, 230 "As is Mazeppa to the last.
"We met—we gazed—I saw, and sigh'd,
"She did not speak, and yet replied;
"There are ten thousand tones and signs
"We hear and see, but none defines—
"Involuntary sparks of thought,
"Which strike from out the heart o'erwrought,
"And form a strange intelligence,
"Alike mysterious and intense,
"Which link the burning chain that binds, 240 "Without their will, young hearts and minds; "Conveying, as the electric wire, "We know not how, the absorbing fire.— "I saw, and sigh'd—in silence wept, "And still reluctant distance kept, "Until I was made known to her, "And we might then and there confer "Without suspicion—then, even then, "I longM, and was resolved to speak;
"But on my lips they died again,
"The accents tremulous and weak, "Until one hour.—There is a game, "A frivolous and foolish play, "Wherewith we while away the day; "It is—I have forgot the name— "And we to this, it seems, were set, "By some strange chance, which I forget: "I reck'd not if I won or lost, "It was enough for me to be "So near to hear, and oh! to see "The being whom I loved the most.— "I watch'd her as a sentinel, "(May ours this dark night watch as well !) "Until I saw, and thus it was, "That she was pensive, nor perceived "Her occupation, nor was grieved "Nor glad to lose or gain; but still "Play'd on for hours, as if her will "Yet bound her to the place, though not "That hers might be the winning lot.
"Then through my brain the thought did pass "Even as a flash of lightning there, "That there was something in her air "Which would not doom me to despair; "And on the thought my words broke forth,
"All incoherent as they were— "Their eloquence was little worth, "But yet she listen'd—'tis enough—
"Who listens once will listen twice;
"Her heart, be sure, is not of ice, "And one refusal no rebuff.
"I loved, and was beloved again—
"I shorten all my joy or pain;
"To you 'twould seem absurd as vain;
"But all men are not born to reign,
"Or o'er their passions, or as you
"Thus o'er themselves and nations too.