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He ceased, and overcome, leant back awhile;
Then rising, with a melancholy smile,
Went to a sofa, and lay down, and slupt
A heavy sleep, and in his dreams he wept,
And muttered some familiar name, and we
Wept without shame in his society.
I think I never was impressed so much !
The man, who was not, must have lacked a touch
Of human nature.—Then we lingered not,
Although our argument was quite forgot;
But, calling the attendants, went to dine
At Maddalo's; yet neither cheer nor wine
Could give us spirits, for we talked of him,
And nothing else, till daylight made stars dim.
And we agreed it was some dreadful ill
Wrought on him boldly, yet unspeakable,
By a dear friend; some deadly change in love
Of one vowed deeply which he dreamed not of;
For whose sake he, it seemed, had fixed a blot
Of falsehood in his mind, which flourished not
But in the light of all-beholding truth;
And having stamped this canker on his youth,
She had abandoned him and how much more
Might be his woe, we guessed not :- he had store
Of friends and fortune once, as we could guess
From his nice habits and his gentleness :
These now were lost-it were a grief indeed
If he had changed one unsustaining reed
For all that such a man might else adorn.
The colours of his mind seemed yet unworn;
For the wild language of his grief was high-
Such as in measure were called poetry.
And I remember one remark, which then
Maddalo made: he said—“Most wretched men
Are cradled into poetry by wrong:
They learn in suffering wbat they teach in song."
If I had been an unconnected man,
I, from the moment, should have formed some plan
Never to leave sweet Venice : for to me
It was delight to ride by the lone sea:
And then the town is silent-one may write
Or read in gondolas, by day or night,
Having the little brazen lamp alight,
Unseen, uninterrupted :-books are there,
Pictures, and casts from all those statues fair
Which were twin-born with poetry !—and all
We seek in towns, with little to recall
Regret for the green country :- I might sit
In Maddalo's great palace, and his wit
And subtle talk would cheer the winter night,
And make me know myself :—and the fire light
Would flash upon our faces, till the day
Might dawn, and make me wonder at my stay.
But I had friends in London too. The chief
Attraction here was that I sought relief
From the deep tenderness that maniac wrought
Within me—'twas perhaps an idle thought,
But I imagined that if, day by day,
I watched him, and seldom went away,
And studied all the beatings of his heart
With zeal, as men study some stubborn art
For their own good, and could by patience find
An entrance to the caverns of his mind,
I might reclaim him from his dark estate.
In friendships I had been most fortunate,
Yet never saw I one whom I would call
More willingly my friend :-and this was all
Accomplished not ;---such dreams of baseless good
Oft come and go, in crowds or solitude,
And leave no trace !—but what I now designed
Made, for long years, impression on my mind.
The following morning, urged by my affairs,
I left bright Venice.
After many years,
And many changes, I returned: the name
Of Venice, and its aspect, was the same;
But Maddalo was travelling, far away,
Among the mountains of Armenia.
His dog was dead : his child had now become
A woman, such as it has been my doom
To meet with few; a wonder of this earth,
Where there is little of transcendent worth,
Like one of Shakspeare's women. Kindly she,
And with a manner beyond courtesy,
Received her father's friend; and, when I asked,
Of the lorn maniac, she her memory tasked,
And told, as she had heard, the mournful tale:
“That the poor sufferer's health began to fail
Two years from my departure: but that then
The lady, who had left him, came again;
Her mien had been imperious, but she now
Looked meek; perhaps remorse had brought her low.
Her coming made him better; and they stayed
Together at my father's,-for I played,
As I remember, with the lady's shawl;
I might be six years old :-But, after all,
She left him." —
“Why, her heart must have been tough; How did it end?”
THE WOODMAN AND THE NIGHTINGALE.
“And was not this enough? They met, they parted.'
“Child, is there no more?”.
“Something within that interval which bore
The stamp of why they parted, how they met;-
Yet, if thine aged eyes disdain to wet
Those wrinkled cheeks with youth's remembered tears,
Ask me no more; but let the silent years
Be closed and cered over their memory,
As yon mute marble where their corpses lie."
I urged and questioned still : she told me how
All happened—but the cold world shall not know.
A WOODMAN whose rough heart was out of tune
(I think such hearts yet never came to good),
Hated to hear, under the stars or moon,
One nightingale in an interfluous wood
Satiate the hungry dark with melody ;-
And, as a vale is watered by a flood,
Or as the moonlight fills the open sky
Struggling with darkness—as a tuberose
Peoples some Indian dell with scents which lie
Like clouds above the flower from which they rose,
The singing of that happy nightingale
In this sweet forest, from the golden close
Of evening till the star of dawn may fail,
Was interfused upon the silentness;
The folded roses and the violets pale
Heard her within their slumbers, the abyss
Of heaven with all its planets; the dull ear
Of the night-cradled earth; the loneliness
Of the circumfluous waters,—every sphere
And every flower and beam and cloud and wave,
And every wind of the mute atmosphere,
And every beast stretched in its rugged cave,
And every bird lulled on its mossy bough,
And every silver moth, fresh from the grave,
Of one serene and unapproached star,
As if it were a lamp of earthly light,
Unconscious as some human lovers are,
Itself how low, how high, beyond all height
The heaven where it would perish !-and every form
That worshipped in the temple of the night
Was awed into delight, and by the charm
Girt as with an interminable zone,
Whilst that sweet bird, whose music was a storm
Of sound, shook forth the dull oblivion
Out of their dreains; harmony became love
In every soul but one. ...
And so this man returned with axe and saw
At evening close from killing the tall treen,
The soul of whom by nature's gentle law
Was each a wood-nymph, and kept ever green
The pavement and the roof of the wild copse,
Chequering the sunlight of the blue serene
With jagged leaves,—and from the forest tops
Singing the winds to sleep-or weeping oft
Fast showers of aërial water drops
Into their mother's bosom, sweet and soft,
Nature's pure tears which have no bitterness ;-
Around the cradles of the birds aloft
They spread themselves into the loveliness
Of fan-like leaves, and over pallid flowers
Hang like moist clouds : or, where high branches kiss,
Make a green space among the silent bowers,
Like a vast fane in a metropolis,
Surrounded by the columns and the towers
All overwrought with branch-like traceries
In which there is religion and the mute
Persuasion of unkindled melodies,
Odours and gleams and murmurs, which the lute
Of the blind pilot-spirit of the blast
Stirs as it sails, now grave and now acute,
Wakening the leaves and waves ere it has past
To such brief unison as on the brain
One tone, which never can recur, has cast,
One accent never to return again.
COME, be happy !-sit near me,
Shadow-vested Misery :
Coy, unwilling, silent bride,
Mourning in thy robe of pride,
Come, be happy 1-sit near me:
Sad as I may seem to thee,
I am happier far thau thou,
Lady, whose imperial brow
Is endiademed with woe.
Misery ! we have known each other,
Like a sister and a brother
Living in the same lone home,
Many years. We must live some
Hours or ages yet to come.
'Tis an evil lot, and yet
Let us make the best of it;
If love can live when pleasure dies,
We two will love, till in our eyes
This heart's Hell seem Paradise.
Come, be happy !-lie thee down
On the fresh grass newly mown,
Where the grasshopper doth sing
Merrily-one joyous thing
In a world of sorrowing !
There our tent shall be the willow,
And mine arm shall be thy pillow ;
Sounds and odours, sorrowful
Because they once were sweet, shall lull
Us to slumber deep and dull.
Ha! thy frozen pulses flutter
With a love thou dar'st not utter.
Thou art murmuring—thou art weeping-
Is thine icy bosom leaping
While my burning heart lies sleeping ?