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POEMS OF HENRY LOUIS VIVIAN DEROZIO
A Forgotten Anglo-Indian Poet
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY F. B. BRADLEY-BIRT
1923
HUMPHREY MILFORD OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
This volume is not a complete edition of Derozio's poems. Only those regarded as representative of his work at its best have been included-
CONTENTS Page
Henry Louis Vivian Dbrozio ... ... i
The Harp of India ... ... ... 1
To India—My Native Land ... ... 2
My Dream ... ... ... ... 3
The Maniac Widow ... ... ... 5
Y- Thermopylae ... ... ... ... 11 £
Love's First Feelings ... ... ... 13
Song ... ... ... ... ...
IS Poetry ... ... ... ... ... 17
Freedom to the Slave ... ... ... 18
Heaven ... ... ... ... 19
To My Brother in Scotland ... ... 20
Here's a Health to Thee, Lassie ... dd
Ode from the Persian of Hafiz ... ...
The Tomb ... ... ... ...
The Brddal ... ... ... ...
Evening in August ... ... ...
Greece ... ... ... ... ...
Song of the Indian Girl ... ... ...
The Greeks at Marathon ... ...
Sonnet to the Pupils of the Hindu College ...
Stanzas: 'Like roses blooming o'er the grave, a fair and fragrant wreath' ... ...
To the Dog Star ... ... ...
Italy ... ... ... ... ...
Tasso ... ... ... ... ...
Address to the Greeks ... ... ...
Romeo and Juliet ... ... ...
Hopb ... ... ... ... ...
Yorick's Skull ... ... ... ...
Morning after a Storm ... ... ...
All is Lost, save Honour ... ...
Dust ... ... ... ... ...
Ada ... ... ... ... ...
Phyle ... ... ... ... ...
Song of the Hindustanee Minstrel ...
Stanzas: 'O ! shall I forget ?—May Memory depart' ... ... ... ...
Hopeless Grief ... ... ... ...
Sappho ... ... ... ... ...
Lines to an Infant ... ... ...
Night ... ... ... ... ...
The Poet's Habitation ... ... ...
The Neglected Minstrel ... ...
The Golden Vase ... ... ...
The Eclipse ... ... ... ...
Poetic Haunts ... ... ... ...
A Walk by Moonlight ... ... ...
To Night ... ... ... ...
Lines on the Unfortunate Death of Henry Neele, Esq. ... —
An Invitation ... ... ... ...
Aspirations ... ... ... •■• H7
Sonnets: To Henry Meredith Parker, Esq. ...
iii 'Your hand is on the helm—guide on, young men,'
1 Scarce has it blossomed, ere the vernal flower'
To the Moon
'Regret has ne'er brought back a vanished day' 1
Dreams to the care-worn soul are kindly given'
'Death! My best friend, if thou dost ope the door'
'Where are thy waters, Lethe ?—I would steep ... ••* ••• •••
'O ! could my wandering, breeze-pinioned mind'
* Fair Lady! I was but a minstrel boy'
To the Rising Moon
'Misery on misery :—I soon shall be'
Sister-in-Law
Leaves ...
Good Night
The Poet's Grave
The Fakeer oe Jungheera
In all the fascinating pages of Anglo-Indian romance there is no more brilliant and pathetic figure than that of the boy-poet—Henry Louis Vivian Derozio. His brief career, so full of effort and enthusiasm, flashes like an inspiration across the dull grey story of his unhappy fellow-countrymen. Recognized at eighteen, even among the select little inner circle of intellectuals who then held sway in Calcutta, as a poet and writer of outstanding ability, he wielded an influence among his own contemporaries and over the younger students of his day, that, even allowing for the spell of his compelling personality, can only be regarded as amaz- ing. To all with whom he came in contact he made the same magnetic appeal. Beneath the impulsiveness and vivacity and enjoyment of the boy there lay the depth and strength! and broad-mindedness of the man, and it was this happy combination of the grave and gay, of the spontaneity of youth and the wisdom of age, that constituted something of the secret of his wonder- ful charm. Yet behind them both there lurked always the tragedy that his birth and genius entailed. It is the note of sadness that everywhere predominates, and as one reads his beautiful lines and impassioned words one feels the deep-rooted melancholy of the writer and the presentiment that he himself had of the A
inevitableness of his impending fate. In the midst of his strenuous work and youthful enthusiasm the end came to him in his twenty-third year. There are few facts more pathetic and more deserving of sympathy than the mixed race which Western dominion in India has created and from which Derozio sprang. Closely allied by blood to European and Indian alike, the Eurasian community has fallen helplessly between them, failing to win acceptance from either of the great races that gave it birth. Looked at askance by both, it has been denied the advantages that its kinship to both would seem to have given it as its birthright. A modern race, with few inspiring traditions and no cohesion, it is small wonder that its claims, but timidly advocated, have been overlooked in the greater issues that have gone to the building up of our Indian Empire. Yet, undistinguished as its history as a race has been, it has not lacked its distin- guished individual members, men and women, who have written their names on the long roll of Indian history and whose fame has spread even to the furthest limits of the West. Skinner of Skinner's Horse, the famous Sikh Corps that still proudly bears his name, de Souza, the millionaire-philanthropist, James Kyd, the ship- builder, Charles Pote, the artist, and John William Ricketts, the founder of Doveton College, are but a few of the best known names which any race might claim
< with pride, while among the fairer sex, Kitty Kirk- patrick, the admired of Carlyle, worthily represents the race's traditional beauty, which, if it quickly fades, is of surpassing brilliance in the heyday of its youth. In all its three centuries of existence Derozio is the only poet of real distinction whom the Anglo-Indian community has produced. The adverse conditions which throttled its vitality and ambitions were not such as to inspire the imagination or develop literary talent, while even the wrongs which it has so keenly felt have failed, save in this one instance, to find lyrical expression. Only for a few brief years Derozio voiced the sorrows and aspirations of his race in verse, taking into his youthful hands—he was not yet eighteen—the 'Harp of India' which had so long been silent, and whose music he awoke again to such wonderful effect. Why hang'st thou lonely on yon withered bough? Unstrung for ever, must thou there remain; Thy music once was sweet—who hears it now? Why doth the breeze sigh over thee in vain? Silence hath bound thee with her fatal chain, Neglected, mute, and desolate art thou, Like ruined monument or desert plain :— Oh ! many a hand more worthy far than mine Once thy harmonious chords to sweetness gave, And many a wreath for them did Fame entwine Of flowers still blooming on the minstrel's grave:
Those hands are cold—but if thy notes divine May be by mortal wakened once again, Harp of my country, let me strike the strain! There was nothing in the birth and ancestry of Derozio to foreshadow the brilliance of his brief career. The house in which he was born in Calcutta, on April the 18th, 1809, was pulled down some twenty years ago, its site being now occupied by a fine modern residence, number 155 Lower Circular Road, a little to the north of St. Theresa's Church. Large and substantial, its possess- ion by Francis Derozio, the poet's father, affords proof that the family was at that time in circumstances of con- siderable affluence. Michael Derozio and 'Bridget his lawful wife' are the first of the name of whom trace re- mains. Michael is described, in St. John's Baptismal Register of 1789, as' a native Protestant', but a few years later in 1795 he is given in the Bengal Directory the more dignified appellation of a 'A Portuguese Merchant and Agent'. That he was a merchant of position is proved by the fact that at one time, as the Bengal Records show, he proposed to purchase the whole of the Com- pany's opium—no small undertaking. James, his eldest son, like so many of his fellow-countrymen sought service with the East Indian Company, eventually becoming an Examiner in the Board of Revenue. Francis, his second son and father of the poet, was born in 1779 and married in 1806 a Miss Sophia Johnson,
the sister of an indigo planter in Behar who was destined to be still more closely related to the Derozio family in after years. In this alliance of an Englishwoman and the son of a 'Portuguese Merchant' all the pathos of a mixed race was destined to be exemplified. Every one of their five children seems to have inherited the weakness of constitution that but too often descends as a legacy of mixed European and Indian parentage, not one of them living to attain the age of twenty-four years. Francis, the eldest, is reputed to have been the musical genius of the family, but little is known of him beyond the fact that he is believed to have died by his own hand at the age of twenty. Henry Louis Vivian was the second son. Claude, the third, was the only one of the family to be sent to Europe for his edu- cation, a rare advantage for an Anglo-Indian in those days. Five years younger than his brother Henry, it was to him that the poet at the age of sixteen addressed the lines, 'To my brother in Scotland', which, while they breathe a spirit of deep tenderness and brotherly affection, seem weighted with the fear of what the future might hold in store 'for the fond, beloved boy '. 'The uncertain future wakes the fear I feel, but must not, dare not tell—' The haunting fear that runs all through the poem was amply fulfilled. The brothers never met again, Claude being still in Scotland at the time of his
brother's death. It was not till five years later that he returned, only speedily to follow his brother to an early grave at the same age of twenty-two. Of the two sisters of the poet, Sophia died in 1827 at the age of seventeen, while Amelia, to whom her brother was so deeply devoted, died in 1835 aged twenty-two, having married her cousin Arthur Derozio Johnson two years previously. Thus of the five children of Francis and Sophia Derozio, three died at the age of twenty-two, while a fourth died before completing his twentieth year and the fifth when only seventeen. It was a tragic record, the mother herself having died nine years after her marriage. Francis Derozio was employed in the mercantile firm of Messrs. James Scott and Co. and the esteem in which he was held is evinced by the fact that Mr. John Hunter, one of the partners, stood sponsor to his younger daughter, depositing as a christening present the sum of one thousand sicca rupees in the bank in her name. His son Henry, who was destined to bring such honour to his name, was baptised in St. John's Church on August 12th, 1909, by the same chaplain, the Rev. James Ward, D.D., who less than three years later was to baptise at the same font a yet more famous infant—the future novelist, William Makepeace Thackeray. Apart from the grief that the loss of wife and
mother brought, it was a happy contented household that dwelt in the big square house in Lower Circular Road. Throughout his brief life this was the only home that the poet knew. His own bright lovable disposition early won him in the home circle the affec- tion he was to gain so fully in a wider sphere in later life, and no cloud of bickering or ill-feeling seems to have crossed the horizon of these first childish days. In the year following his mother's death his father married again, his second wife being a Miss Anna Maria Rivers, about whom little is known, but who is said to have been an Englishwoman of good family. If that be so, it would seem that there must have been something of his son's charm in this son of'a native Protestant' to have won the love of two Englishwomen. In her own advertisement in the India Gazette of 1831, published after the death of her husband and stepson, is to be found in language that reads somewhat quaintly at the present day almost all that is known of the second Mrs. Derozio. It is headed "Private tutition, Circular Road, Calcutta". Below, the advertisement runs: "In consequence of the lamented and un- timely death of her son Henry, Mrs. Derozio thus early publishes her intentions without delay. She purposes receiving under her roof a few young ladies and instructing them in the following branches:— English and French, Reading and Writing, Geography,
History, Arithmetic, the Elements of Mathematic and Physical Science, Needlework and Domestic Economy. As Mrs. Derozio has enjoyed the benefit of the best education in England and as she will be assisted in the duties of teaching by a very competent individual, she hopes to afford every satisfaction to the parents and guardians of the children entrusted to her care. Being also anxious to give the female education a higher character than it has hitherto possessed in India, it will be her aim to realize that object to the best of her ability. Every possible attention will be paid to the health and morals of the young ladies, music, dancing, and drawing at the usual charges." Mrs. Derozio seems to have been a woman of tact and common sense and she completely succeeded in winning the affections of her stepchildren. She sur- vived all the members of her household many years, dying in Calcutta in 1851. The year before his father's second marriage, Derozio though only six years old had already begun his education at one of the most famous of private institutions in Calcutta, David Drummond's Academy. For the next eight years he remained there, a wonderful understanding and friendship ripening between the honest plain-spoken Scotch dominie and the bright young lad in whom from the first moment that he took his place among his classmates the master recognized
behind the childish intellect the touch of genius. Among his fellow-students and playfellows, as in later days amongst the intellectual society of Calcutta in which he moved, Derozio was always the leading spirit, throwing himself in those young days with wholehearted enjoyment into all a schoolboy's joys and interests. His sympathetic smiling face, which the only existing portrait of him still presents, and his frank generous manners were an open sesame to all hearts. One who knew him well said he believed that Derozio never knew what ill-temper was. Only wrong-doing and injustice seemed to have the power to rouse his wrath. In the fullest measure from his earliest years he possessed that greatest of gifts that the gods bestow—the power of drawing all men to him in the bonds of friendship and affection. II The years during which Derozio was acquiring the rudiments of knowledge at Drummond's Academy were a time of great intellectual awakening in Bengal. A famous centre of learning centuries before, the Province in these latter days had fallen a prey to political disturbances that left it little leisure for the calm pursuit of knowledge. The older days of Hindu patronage of learning had long since passed. Muham- medan authority in Bengal had from the first been too deeply engrossed in maintaining its hold over an
unruly frontier province, its Viceroys too keenly bent on defying the Imperial power, to give much thought to the spread of general education which they them- selves so little understood and so little valued. In the last decades of Muhammedan rule confusion had grown worse confounded and peace and progress seemed vain dreams. The Maharattas, formidable enemies of Islam, were thundering at its gates. Only the sudden rise to political power of the English Trading Company fore- stalled them. Those first years of British rule are years of absorb- ing interest. Suddenly in the seventh decade of the eighteenth century there opened out a new and brighter era for Bengal. The first blessing that the distracted province craved was peace from active warfare; the second, a rule of law and order under which each man might go in security of life and property. There is nothing more remarkable, even in all the long and perplexing course of Indian history, than the speed with which these things were brought to pass. Where all was chaos and disorder, where the strong went armed and worked his will unchecked and the weak man went in fear and trembling, his life and property a prey to others, there suddenly arose at the command of a small commercial company from the west a marvellous network of administration, bringing peace and security and prosperity to the distracted land.
The battle of Plassey, that great landmark in the story of Bengal, paved the way for these things in 1757. By the end of the century the English Company could look back upon a great work done. Into those few short years had been crowded a whole new chapter in Indian history. The little company that had so fearfully striven, in the midst of a lawless and disturbed province, merely to hold its own on the banks of the Hooghly as a private trading community had risen to supreme power, reducing the unruly to submission and imposing upon chaos the first principles of the rule of law and justice. With the dawn of the new century internal peace and material prosperity opened the way to yet higher things. The influence of the west was slowly but surely finding its way into the innermost recesses of Bengal. In Calcutta, which in a century had grown from a cluster of native huts amidst the jungle to a fine and well-built city, the centre of Government and the headquarters of a busy trading company, western methods from the first had predominated. The city owed its very existence to the English Company. Here was no new civilisation imposed upon an ancient fabric. Rather here was a city of the west planted in the East clinging with pathetic persistence to western traditions and western methods, adapting itself only so far as the exigencies of climate and a six months' voyage from the homeland necessitated. It was not
so much the West planted in the East as the East gathering round the West, attracted by its success and eager to imitate its methods and adapt itself to its conditions. The first training that the East had undergone at the hands of the West had been in business methods and the East had not failed to take advantage of it. With the rise of the Company to political supremacy still further opportunities opened out before it. The new system of administration required an army of subordinate officials and it was quickly realised that through Government service lay the surest road to place and power. The Hindu community, forced by necessity during long years of Muhammedan domination to adapt itself to circumstances, was the first to recog- nize the new order of things and to set itself to turn them to its own advantage. With ready perception it saw that a knowledge of English was the first essen- tial to success and with praiseworthy energy and determination it set itself to acquire the strange lan- guage of its latest master. The Muhammedan commun- ity on the other hand, unaccustomed from long years of supremacy to adapt itself to new conditions, held for the most part aloof, with the result that it was hopelessly outdistanced, in the general progress that came to Bengal, by the race which it had so long ruled by force of arms.
With its final access to supreme authority and the subsequent settling down of the province, the real work of the East India Company had but begun. It was a task beset with difficulties. Deep-rooted racial preju- dices stood everywhere in the pathway of reform. Yet with characteristic determination the Company set it- self to the task, boldly facing even the unwelcome necessity of interfering with Hindu religious beliefs as in the abolition of Sati and the encouragement of medical science. Only the most recent and most diffi- cult problem of all, arising out of its own success, it left unsolved. Hindus and Musalmans, who formed by far the larger portion of their new subjects, might present grave difficulties, but at least they were races long set- tled on the land with their own occupations, their own fixed places in the sphere of life. The English commun- ity, small and completely under the control of the Company which could still prevent the landing of an undesirable Englishman or tranship him back to Eng- land, offered no difficulties. But beside these three races there had begun to grow up another, a mixture of them all yet disowned of all. The Anglo-Indian prob- lem is one of the heaviest legacies that British rule has left to India. For the most part the children"of Eng- lish fathers and Indian mothers, they occupied from the first moment of their existence as a race an anomalous position. The very circumstances of their birth placed
them outside the pale. Into the rigid Hindu caste system it was impossible for them to enter even had they so desired. From the select little coterie of English officials among whom on social matters femi- nine influence reigned supreme, they were almost as rigidly excluded. Though many Anglo-Indian families traced their descent from legitimate marriages be- tween Englishmen and Indians, the vast majority of them sprang from temporary alliances unrecognised by law and with no legal claim to the English blood which, nevertheless, gave them those deep-rooted instincts that prevented them from being absorbed in the native community and sharing its interests and occupations. The few exceptions to this general rule were mostly to be found among the children of English- men legally married to Indian wives who had conse- quently been brought up with the advantages of English home life and education. Among such families as these many distinguished names are to be found in the early part of the nineteenth century. But they were only a few of the more fortunate among the Anglo-Indian community. English in thought and up- bringing, they were almost as far removed from the majority of Anglo-Indians as Englishmen themselves. And therein lay a further misfortune for the race. Families with only a small admixture of Indian blood and whose wealth of position placed them more or less
within the ranks of the European community were f for the most part eager to dissociate themselves as far as possible from their less fortunate fellow-countrymen. In their anxiety to hide their Indian blood and lay stress upon their European parentage they were entire- ly out of sympathy with their own race from which they desired so ardently to escape. The Anglo-Indian community was thus in the most unhappy position it is possible to conceive. Rejected by East and West it found itself promptly deserted by the majority of its own members who had in any way attained a position of eminence. Unfortunate as its position was, however, the Anglo-Indian community had at the outset none but these intangible social disabilities to contend with. If they could only overcome the natural disadvantages of W their birth and upbringing, practically every post in the "(9 Company's service was open to them. They could y aspire to enter and in fact did enter in considerable » numbers all the Company's services, civil and military. „ No actual or legal disability stood in their way until the year 1792. From that date onwards one career after another was closed to them. In the Gazette of June 1792 a notification was issued decreeing that no: v person, the son of a native, should henceforth be given ;A any appointment in the civil, military or marine i m services of the Company. Three years later Anglo- j
Indians were excluded from admission to the European branch of the army in any capacity except as pipers, • drummers, or bandsmen. Thus shut out from posts reserved henceforward exclusively for Europeans, they were equally debarred from other billets reserved exclusively for Indians, such as the prized and profit- able appointments of Munsiffs and Sudder Ameens. Yet although Christians, almost without exception, they were subject to the rule of Muhammedan law, save within the Presidency Town of Calcutta, and had neither the benefit of Habeas Corpus nor trial by jury. Under Regulation VIII of 1813 they were included as native subjects under the Company's rule, thus suffering all the disadvantages imposed upon those who were not purely British. Moreover, though denied European advantages and forced to rank with Indians, they obtained none of the benefits conferred upon the latter J in the way of education when the East Indian Company had leisure to turn its attention in that direction. Large grants were made towards the education of Indians, who also absorbed all the missionary effort which began to make itself felt in the early years of the nineteenth century. Practically no help at all was given to Anglo-Indians. Already labouring under heavy disabilities they were left almost entirely without "4 part or lot in the general encouragement given to education. The result for them was disastrous, throw-
ing' them still further down the social scale. Indian youths, rapidly acquiring a knowledge of English and a considerable amount of general education, soon competed with them on their own ground and being able to accept clerkships on salaries on which it was impossible for an Anglo-Indian to live, they largely ousted them from the posts of which they had hitherto held the monopoly. As clerks in the big commercial offices and as ministerial officers in the Company's service they had hitherto found posts eminently suited i> - t «* to their capacities. Now even these were taken from f . „ ( . them by educated Indians on far smaller salaries. Itj; *"v> seemed as if the last stronghold of the unfortunate /. \ "~ Anglo-Indian community had been taken by assault. Such was the position of his unhappy race, the knowledge of which was slowly borne in upon Derozio's dawning intelligence as a youth in David Drummond's school. There is small wonder that in his first songs written at the age of sixteen there is to be discerned that note of sadness from which his fettered spirit was never afterwards wholly able to escape. My country ! is thy day of glory past? A beauteous halo circled round thy brow, And worshipped as a deity thou wast— Where is that glory, where that reverence now? Thy eagle pinion is chained down at last, And grovelling in the lowly dust art thou: B
Thy minstrel hath no wreath to weave for thee Save the sad story of thy misery! Well—let me dive into the depths of time, And bring from out the ages that have rolled A few small garments of those wrecks sublime, Which human eye may never more behold; And let the guerdon of my labour be, My fallen country, one kind wish from thee! Ill During his eight years at Drummond's Academy Derozio laid deep the foundations of his wonderful knowledge of English literature. It was a happy choice of his father's that sent him for instruction to the zealous Scotch dominie. His was early marked out as one of the most promising among the many private schools that the sudden intellectual awakening in Bengal and the consequent demand for education had called into existence. Most of these private schools, whence emerged many of the distinguished men of the day, were set on foot by Anglo-Indians who seized upon this new profession as a godsend. In these schools Anglo- Indian and Indian students sat side by side, their in- terests for the moment identical—the eager pursuit of knowledge that should equip them in their struggle to keep pace with the rapid progress of the times. William Sherbourne, son of an Englishman and a Brahmin mother, was one of the first Anglo-Indians to take pride
in his birth, and the school that he opened in a house in the Chitpore Road was long famous as one of the most successful seminaries of the day. Other well- known schools were Linstedt's and Farrell's, while Hutteman's in Boitakhannah was famous for its classical learning and orthodoxy, 'providing a sound educational training on traditional scholastic lines'. But of them all it was David Drummond's school in Dhurrumtollah that counted the most distinguished roll. Drummond himself had come out from his home in Fifeshire with small prospects in 1813, obtaining as his first Indian billet an undermastership in a small school kept by Messrs. Wallace and Measures. From the first, how- ever, it was obvious that he had found his calling and it was not long before he became sole proprietor of the school. Unfitted for an active life by a slight deformity, he threw himself heart and soul into the work of teaching, quickly proving himself a brilliant and original thinker, round whom gathered all the fore- most intellectual leaders of the day. A classical scholar, a metaphysician, and a mathematician, he was the typical Scotch student of the early part of the nineteenth century, yet unlike most of his contemporaries he was not content with traditional learning but strove always after further and deeper knowledge. A man of strong individuality and keen intellect, his influence upon the youth of the day was immense. Calcutta, then only
a small city compared with its later growth, offered a far narrower field in those days and personal influence was proportionately greater. Not only by his own force of character but still more through the youthful minds he imbued with his own enthusiasm he did much to encourage and direct the intellectual progress of his day. Like many other students Derozio was greatly indebted to his teaching. From the first the classics had little attraction for Derozio in comparison with modern thought. Even in his early school days his knowledge of English litera- ture was amazing. David Drummond encouraged theatrical performances among his boys as tests of memory and elocution, and Derozio was easily first amongst them all. "His very correct accent was extraordinary," writes Dr. John Grant, Editor of the Examiner, quoting an original prologue that the youth- ful scholar of fourteen had recited " in a very becoming manner" at a prize-giving at Drummond's Academy. On the same occasion Derozio received a medal with a descant on his merits ' from his admiring master'. His popularity with both masters and schoolfellows is one of his most pleasing traits. David Drummond himself, the keen intellectual Scotchman not given to overmuch praise, wrote of him in the calm light of later days, seventeen years after the boy had left his charge as "the beloved of all who knew him ". There is a story
that one day Derozio returned to school unexpectedly- after a few weeks' absence on account of illness and, the news of his return spreading into the classroom next to his own, where Drummond himself was lecturing, the youthful scholars rushed out, in spite of the awe- inspiring presence of the master, to welcome back their schoolfellow. Among his playmates of those early years there were many who were destined to play distinguished parts in after life. Charles Pote, almost the only Anglo- Indian artist of distinction, whose fine picture of Lord Metcalfe is his best-known work, William Kirkpatrick, the kinsman of the famous " Kitty ", and Lawrence Augustus de Souza, whose name is destined to be for ever gratefully remembered for his kindly disposition of his wealth for the benefit of his community, were all Derozio's early friends. Wale Byrne, the half-brother of Colonel John Byrne, C. B., Aide-de-camp to Lord William Bentinck and Lord Auckland, was a special friend of the boy-poet. With John William Ricketts, who so manfully supported the cause of the Anglo-Indian community before the British Parliament, he was destined to be still more closely associated in later days. There were many such who owed much to David Drummond's teaching and example, but it was Derozio, their fellow scholar, with his brilliant intellect and deep earnestness, who fired their imaginations and
inspired them with his own magnetic enthusiasm. Out of school hours he was still their leader, joining in all their boyish interests, swimming in the mornings in the Bamanbasti tank, playing cricket on the maidan in the afternoons, and passing the long winter evenings in rehearsing the plays for which their Academy was famous. The circumstances that led his father to withdraw Derozio from school at the early age of fourteen are unknown. That there must have been some special reason for taking so promising a boy from his lessons at so immature an age seems obvious. It was, however, evidently his father's first ambition that his son should follow in his own steps and join the same firm with which he himself had been so long and honourably connected. He had attained the responsible post of Chief Accountant and he doubtless looked forward to speedy promotion for his brilliant boy, under his own eye, in the same walk of life. So at the age of fourteen Derozio bade farewell to the school where he had spent eight happy years amidst congenial surroundings, and occupied an office stool in a mercantile office. It says much for his persistence and his respect for his father's wishes that for two years he stuck to his uncongenial task, for if ever there was a youth whose inclinations and attainments unfitted him for the drudgery of office life it was Derozio. Full of life and energy, inspired
with a passionate devotion to literature and the higher fields of thought, the daily tyranny of an office stool and the dull routine of clerical duties must have irked him almost beyond endurance. Even his father was forced at last to see that his son's aptitude did not lie towards a business life, and a serious illness finally induced him to agree to his relinquishing it. The next glimpse obtainable of Derozio reveals him in a new setting, in an indigo factory in Behar. It was to the house of his uncle, Mr. Arthur Johnson, at Bhagulpore, that his father sent him when the idea of a business career was finally abandoned. The uncle was an Englishman, born at Ringwood in Hampshire, who after some years in the navy had settled down at Bhagulpore at the then profitable profession of indigo- planting. He had married in 1810 Maria, the sister of Francis Derozio and aunt of the poet, and after her death in 1818 he had married her younger sister, Bridget. His own sister Sophia had married Francis Derozio in 1806, so that Arthur Johnson was three times over the uncle of the boy who was sent up to him to try his hand at indigo planting in 1825. Essentially a social being, eager to share his fellows' joys and sorrows and already foremost among them, it might well have been imagined that the lonely factory would be almost as distasteful to him as the stool in a merchant's office. The months he spent there,
however, were destined to be of momentous import in his career. The solitude gave him time thoroughly to grasp and assimilate all that he had so rapidly learned, and opportunity for deep and serious thought. Grad- ually as he grew to see things with greater clearness there came to him the revelation of his own except- ional gifts. In the midst of the primitive and pic- turesque scenes on the banks of the Ganges his gift of song first found expression and it was from the indigo factory, far removed from the surroundings to which he had always been accustomed, that he began to put forth those first literary efforts which were soon to attract the attention of all the leading intellects of his day in India. The peaceful life of the up-country station made strong appeal to the town-bred boy. The common daily round of life as it had gone on in its changeless monotony for centuries was a new glimpse of human nature at its source to the youth who had been absorbed hitherto in his books. How vividly the smallest scenes and incidents appealed to him, the flood of poetry that from now onwards poured from his pen amply reveals. Here he was in touch with nature as he had never been before, and with nothing to distract his thoughts, he could watch with absorbing interest the whole ceaseless round of life in the change- less passing of the seasons—the ploughman urging his
slow-moving bullocks through the rich, upturned soil: the sower going forth to sow, and the reaper gathering in his harvest: the happy nut-brown children, naked and unashamed, playing lazily in the dust and the sun: the housewife cooking her evening meal against her lord's return or wending her way up from the river bank, her water-pot, filled to the brim, gracefully poised upon her head, her face averted beneath the close- drawn veil: the even rhythm of the oars upon the river: the cheerful throbbing of the drums; the sound of singing at the marriage feasts and the wailing of the women at the burning ghat—all these to the eager- minded boy were of abiding interest. To his poetic instincts they made instant appeal and his longest and most sustained effort, 'The Fakir of Jungheera', was directly prompted by these peaceful peasant scenes beside the Ganges. It was small wonder that the gigantic rock rising out of the midst of the river and towering over the low-lying alluvial plain with its air of mystery and romance impressed itself upon the boy's quick imagination. "It struck me," he wrote of it romantically, "as a place where achievements in love and war might well take place and the double character I had heard of the Fakir together with some acquaint- ance with the scenery induced me to form a tale upon both these circumstances." Seventy feet it towers above the normal water level, its rocky formation in
striking contrast with the sandy plain on either hand. So steep are its sides that only at one place can a boat put in. From there a precipitous and winding path leads to the summit which is crowned by a small hermitage, visited as a place of pilgrimage by wandering fakirs. "Jungheera's rocks are hoar and steep And Ganges' wave is broad and deep And round that island rock the wave Obsequious comes its feet to lave— Those rocks, the stream's victorious foes, Frown darkly proud as on it flows, Regardless of its haughty frown The sacred wave flows hurrying down; And fishers there their shallops guide Upon the rosy-bosomed tide. High on the hugest granite pile Of that gray barren craggy isle, A small rude hut, unsheltered, stands— Erected by no earthly hands, And never sinful foot might dare To find its way unbidden there." It was from Bhagulpore that Derozio's first efforts found their way into print. Dr. John Grant, the Editor of the India Gazette, quickly perceived the genius of the unknown young writer whose productions reached him from up-country, and from this time onwards dates the
constant recurrence in the pages of his paper of the signature'Juvenis', which the youth of sixteen with appropriate modesty adopted as his nom de plume. Dr. John Grant, who was destined to be the friend of his later years as David Drummond had been of his school-days, was a well-known figure in Calcutta and something of a character. "He was a man of great information and of infinite quotations," wrote a contem- porary, "could rap you out a paragraph of Cicero or half a page of Bolingbroke, simmered easily into poetry, and after dinner on his legs could pour you forth a stream of rhetoric which if it had had any religion in it would have done for a Scotch sermon." Derozio's brilliant and original style both in prose and verse was entirely after his own heart and so confident did he feel in the genius of his young contributor that he persuaded him not only to leave the indigo factory and come down to Calcutta, but to embark on that most venturesome undertaking for a budding poet—the publication of his verse in book form. In 1827, after two years amidst the peaceful country scenes on the bank of the Ganges which had done so much to foster his poetic genius, Derozio returned to Calcutta, definitely to embark upon a literary career. With the publication of his first volume of verse, while still only in his eighteenth year, he suddenly found himself famous in the little world of Calcutta intellect-
ual life. From the first moment of its appearance the success of the volume was assured. The extreme youth of the poet, his personal charm, and the promise of his verse, together with the fact that he was the first poet of a hitherto despised and ignored race, all com- bined to win for it immediate notice. The world of Calcutta was a small one, but for the moment a boy's achievement was the talk of it. In spite of his youth his success gained him admittance into the little inner circle of keen intellects, both Indian and European, who were beginning to make their influence felt in society and politics. With all the keenness of his youth and enthusiasm Derozio seized the opportunities so suddenly and unexpectedly opened out to him. Into his literary work he threw himself with amazing activity. Appointed Assistant Editor of the India Gazette by his friend, the Editor, Dr. John Grant, he threw himself heart and soul into the congenial work. Here at least his special talents had full play and he was soon not only doing the greater part of the editorial work of the Gazette but was seeking fresh scope for his activities. His contributions found their way into every paper in Calcutta, the Bengal Annual, the Calcutta Magazine, the Kaleidoscope, the Indian Magazine, and half a dozen other papers that sprang into existence on the wave of this new intellectual awakening that had come to Calcutta. A few months
later, a youth still under twenty, he was starting a paper of his own, the Calcutta Gazette, with himself as editor and chief contributor. But though a stream of literature in verse and prose, dealing with practically every topic of interest of the day, poured from his pen, it was inevitable that his eager sympathetic nature should seek a more personal outlet for its influence. The offer of an Assistant Mastership at the Hindu College, an unexpected honour for a youth not yet nineteen, came to him as a welcome opportunity, of which he enthusiastically availed himself. The Hindu College, founded in 1817 largely through the exertions of Ram Mohan Ray, Baidynath Mukerjee, Dwarka Nath Tagore, and David Hare, had already come to play a large part in the intellectual life of Calcutta and had won recognition from Government four years before. It was the first College, in the modern sense of the word, to be founded in India, and from its small beginnings may be traced the great network of educational institutions that now cover the length and breadth of the land. With its chief aim of imparting education on modern and western lines to the youth of India, Derozio was keenly in sympathy, and as Professor of English Literature and History he eagerly welcomed the opportunity of playing his part in the great work. His success was instantaneous. The power of his pen had already given him an influence out of all proportion
to his years, but the power of his personal magnetism was to carry him still further. In less than two short years he succeeded in casting the glamour of his enthu- siasm not only over his immediate pupils but over all that was best in the intellectual society of Calcutta. A born enthusiast, he possessed in full measure the gift of imparting that enthusiasm to others. His ready wit, his quick sympathy, his wide reading and origin- ality of thought, and above all his personal magnetism riveted the attention of his pupils from the first, putting the acquisition of knowledge in a new light to their youthful minds as a pursuit of absorbing interest. How deeply he was devoted to them his lines addressed to the students of the Hindu College prove :— "Expanding like the petals of young flowers I watch the gentle opening of your minds, And the sweet loosening of the spell that binds Your intellectual energies and powers, That stretch 'like young birds in soft summer hours' Their wings to try their strength. O, how the winds Of circumstance, and freshening April showers Of early knowledge, and unnumbered kinds Of new perceptions shed their influence; And how you worship truth's omnipotence! What joyance rains upon me, when I see Fame in the mirror of futurity, Weaving the chaplets you have yet to gain! Ah ! then I feel I have not lived in vain."
Great, however, as his influence in the class-room soon became, Derozio realised that it was outside College hours, in the intimacy of their own homes or in his own, that his real opportunity lay. Round him in his father's house in Lower Circular Road he gathered the most eager of his pupils, evening after evening discussing and debating, giving them of his best and drawing from them their best in return. The report of these informal gatherings soon went abroad and other than young college students were attracted to them. Such men as Captain Richard- son, David Hare, and Oomacharan Bose eagerly welcomed this opportunity of friendly social intercourse which promised to raise a new intellectual bond of sympathy between the different races. So great became the desire for inclusion in them that Derozio deter- mined to put them on a more formal and definite basis. The Academic Association thus evolved was one of the first associations of its kind in Bengal, its object being to form a common meeting-ground outside the restrict- ions of the class room where young men of whatever creed or caste might gather to discuss the multifarious topics that were absorbing the attention of the rising generation. In a garden house in Manicktolla the first meetings of the Association were held, Derozio's wonderful gift of organization and inspiring enthusiasm making them an instantaneous success. Discussion
ranged wide. Literature, art, philosophy, metaphysics, practically every subject under the sun came under consideration. They were wonderful gatherings, these, in the youthful days of the great city, a first tentative meeting of East and West, both for the first time united in the earnest search for truth. In the midst of the self-seeking and petty ambitions that so often mar the early struggles of those strenuous days, they come as a refreshing contrast of disinterested zeal and single- mindedness of purpose. The distinguished names in the social and official world of Calcutta, which appear among those who came to listen, testify to the wide- spread esteem in which Derozio was held. Derozio himself, young and brilliant, anxious only for the moral and intellectual progress of his boys and the improve- ment of his fellow-countrymen: Sir Edward Ryan, finding time in the midst of his heavy judicial duties to encourage by his presence these simple gatherings: Dr. Mill, Principal of Bishop's College, mixing freely with his students out of College hours, respected and beloved: David Hare, the one-time watch-maker of Dundee turned educationalist, always sympathetic to youthful effort: Captain Byrne, A.D.C. to the Gover- nor General, and Colonel Beatson afterwards Adjutant General, lending their social and official prestige, sat side by side in friendly converse and criticism with such men as Ram Mohan Roy, the great reformer and later
the first orthodox Hindu to visit England, Mohes Chan- dra Ghose, one of the first converts to Christianity the year after Derozio's death, Ram Gopal Ghose, part- founder in later days of the British India Association and the champion of his fellow-countrymen's claims, Dakhinaranjan Mukharjee whose later adventurous career is worthy of a romance, and K. M. Bannerjee, a Kulin Brahmin of the highest caste yet later to become an ordained clergyman of the Church of Eng- land. And the life and soul of them all was Derozio, a youth not yet twenty. It is difficult to realise such an influence in the Calcutta of to-day. Yet that it has not been exaggerated, not one but many contemporary writers bear witness. "Mr. Derozio's disinterested zeal and devotion in bring- ing up the students in those subjects was unbounded, and characterized by a love and philanthropy which up to this day has not been equalled by any teacher either in or out of the school," wrote Babu Hurro Mohan Chatterjee some years later- "The students in their turn loved him most tenderly and were ever ready to be guided by his counsels and imitate him in all their daily actions in life. In fact Mr. Derozio acquired such an ascendency over the minds of his pupils that they would not move even in their private concerns without his counsel and advice. On the other hand he fostered their taste in literature, taught the C
evil effects of idolatry and superstition: and so far formed their moral conceptions and feelings as to make them completely above the antiquated ideas and aspir- ations of the age. Such was the force of his instruc- tions that the conduct of the students out of the college was most exemplary and gained them the applause of the outside world, not only in a literary and scienti- fic point of view, but what was of still greater import- ance, they were all considered men of truth. Indeed the 'College boy' was a synonym for truth, and it was a general belief and saying among our countrymen, which those who remember the time must acknowledge, that 'such a boy is incapable of falsehood, because he is a college boy.'" This was the whole lesson of Derozio s teaching, j To pursue knowledge and seek diligently after truth I must be the first aim of every serious student's life and J work. And for this purpose free discussion was essential. Criticism must range over the whole length and breadth and depth of human thought. In the meetings of the Academic Association there was no limit to debate. Beliefs that custom and superstition had held immune for centuries faded like mists before the rising sun in the light of knowledge and reason. It was inevitable that the rigidly orthodox should take fright. Vague rumours began to circulate among those who looked askance at this little company of earnest enquirers after
truth, and it was not long before those who clung blindly to the accepted order of things saw that if the old beliefs were not to be seriously undermined, active measures must be taken. It was known among them that in these gatherings of brilliant students the Hindu religion with all its forms and ceremonies and super- stitions was openly condemned, that female education was warmly advocated, and the practices of suttee vigorously denounced. Worse than this, orthodox Hindu students were ignoring caste distinctions, eating and drinking in common with their fellow-students of whatever religion or caste. Parents of an older generation, to whom the principles of modern western education were unknown, saw in Derozio's teaching only its effect upon their religious beliefs, and, their religious antagonism once keenly aroused, they took strong measures to prevent the spread of what to them seemed only atheistical doctrines. The managersof the Hindu College, alarmed at the storm aroused and fearful of losing the students, many of whom their parents threatened to withdraw, were forced into a difficult position. On the one hand threatened with the loss of the prestige of the college, which they had laboured so hard to establish, they were certain on the other to be faced by a storm of criticism from the small but brilliant party of progress which controlled the press, if they attempted to check the flow of free thought and free
discussion. In the interests of the College, however, they considered that they were compelled to take action, though full well aware of the difficulties that be- set them. Their first attempt only served to draw further attention to the matter. They issued a circular of mild expostulation. "The managers of the Anglo- Indian College, having heard that several of the students are in the habit of attending societies at which political and religious discussions are held, think it necessary to announce their strong disapprobation of the practice and to prohibit its continuance. Any students being present at such a society after the promulgation of this order will incur their serious displeasure." Even this mild expostulation roused a storm of criticism. It was recognized by both parties as the beginning of the battle and every newspaper in Calcutta devoted its leading columns to discussing it, all without exception condemning it in varying terms of oppro- brium. "We regret much to see the names of such men as David Hare and Rosomoy Dutt attached to a document which presents an example of presumptuous tyrannical and absurd intermeddling with the right of private judgment on political and religious questions," wrote one of the leading papers of the day. "The interference is presumptuous, for the managers, as managers, have no right whatever to dictate to the students of the institution how they shall dispose of
their time out of college. It is tyrannical, for although they have not the right, they have the power, if they will bear the consequence, to inflict their serious dis- pleasure on the disobedient. It is absurd and ridiculous, for if the students knew their rights and had the spirit to claim them, the managers would i*ot venture to enforce their own order: and it would fall to the ground, an abortion of intolerance. We recommend the Managers to beware of pursuing the course they have begun. We are aware of their motives and if we saw any danger of the college passing under sectarian influence, we should be as stoutly opposed to such a result as we are to their present proceedings. But Christianity must not and shall not be put down by the means they are adopting. It must, at least, have a hearing from those who are willing to hear and this is all that its friends desire. They do not desire that any regulations should be made by the managers in favour of Christianity, but a Christian Government and a Christian community will not tolerate that the Managers of an Institution, supported in part by public money, should single out Christianity as the only religion against which they direct their official influence and authority. We hope that Messrs. Hill and Duff will revive the meetings if they have been discontinued and that their proceedings will henceforth be conducted on just and equal terms. We hope that the students of the Hindu College will
continue to attend in spite of the prohibition and that the Managers will learn to keep within their own pro- vince, else they will have a storm about their ears which will be sooner raised than laid." But it was a struggle of brilliancy and youth against wealth and influence and for a time at least it was evident that the latter held the upper hand. Twenty-five boys of the most respectable Hindu families were withdrawn from the College as a protest against the latitude allowed, while no fewer than a hundred and sixty were absent, report- ed sick, though it was obvious that they had been temporarily kept back from attending until it was seen what definite steps the Managers would take to restrict the college training merely to secular subjects, sternly repressing those unauthorised discussions on religious and philosophical subjects which had occasion- ed them so much alarm. It is significant of Derozio's extraordinary influence that there was never any question that it was this young teacher, then scarcely twenty years of age, who was the head and source of offence. The orthodox realized that if they could but secure his removal all would be well. He was the life and soul of this new spirit that so threatened their most cherished beliefs. Much as they misunderstood his methods of thought, they made no mistake as to his extraordinary power and influence over the minds of all those of a younger generation
with whom he was brought in contact. Urged on from without, the managers of the college, realising the danger that beset their new and promising institution, met in solemn conclave to consider the situation. Among their number was Dewan Ram Comul Sen, one of those extraordinarily gifted men of that generation who rose from the smallest beginnings to great influence. Starting life as a compositor in a Mission Press on eight rupees a month, and ending by becoming famous as the author of the first English and Bengali dictionary and a member of every learned society in Calcutta, he was yet, in spite of his eager support of western education, found on the side opposed to Derozio. Not all his admiration of modern progress induced him to depart from the strictest orthodoxy. It was a curious triumph of the old over the new. While he did not fail to admire Derozio as one of the most brilliant products^ of western education, his strong underlying orthodoxy, on religious matters rebelled against the younger man's freedom of thought, and in their contest in Ram Comul Sen's mind the latter instinct won the day. It was a momentous meeting for Derozio and it was obvious from the first that he had been judged unheard. One of the most orthodox among the managers proposed that Mr. Derozio, "being the root of all the evils and cause of public alarm, should be dis- charged from the college and all connection between
him and the public cut off." The discussion waxed keen, David Hare emphatically recording his opinion that "Mr. Derozio was a highly competent teacher" and that "his instructions have always been most beneficial." Dr. H. H. Wilson, his firm friend through- out his career, also spoke strongly in his favour, but the majority of the managers was against him and his dismissal from his post, unheard, was decided upon. It was Dr. Wilson to whom fell the task of acquainting Derozio with this decision, though it appears from the latter's reply that some opportunity of sending in what might read like a voluntary resignation had been offered him. Derozio, however, preferred to face the facts, declining to allow it to appear that he was giving up his work for any other reason except compulsion. The following was the simple and straightforward letter he wrote in reply to Dr. Wilson's letter: Calcutta, 2$th April, /<??/. Dr. H. H. Wilson. My dear Sir,— The accompanying is my resignation, but you will observe that I have taken the liberty of departing from your suggestion of making it appear a merit on my part. If I had grounds to believe that my continued connection with the College could be really and per- manently prejudicial to that institution, the spirit to leave it, without any suggestion but that of my own
taind, would not be wanting. I do not conceive, however, that a temporary shock needs such a sacrifice; and I cannot, therefore, conceal from myself the fact, that my resignation is compulsory. Under these circumstances, I trust you will see the propriety of my declining to make that appear a merit which is really a necessity. Nevertheless, I thank you heartily for having recommended me to do so, because I perceive it to be the dictate of a generous heart anxious to soothe what it could not heal. But I dare not ascribe to myself a merit which I do not possess; and if my dismissal be considered a deserved disgrace by the wise and good, I must endure it. As the intemperate spirit displayed against me by the Native Managers of the College is not likely to subside so completely as to admit of my return to that institution as speedily as you expect; and as the chances of life may shape my future destiny so as to bring me but rarely in contact with you, I cannot permit this opportunity to pass without recording my grateful acknowledgments to you for all the kindness you have shown me since I have had the honour and pleasure of being known to you. In particular, I must thank you for the delicacy with which you conveyed to me, on Saturday last, the resolution of the Managing Committee and for the sympathy which I perceive my case has excited in you.
Such circumstances, when genuine and unaffected, make deeper impressions on my feelings than those greater acts of favour, the motives for which we cannot always trace. Believe me to be, my dear Sir, with sentiments of respect and regard, Yours sincerely, H. L. Derozio. Derozio's formal letter of resignation which accom- panied the letter to his friend is written in the same simple straightforward style, studiously moderate and not unmindful of the kindness he had received. To The Managing Committee of the Hindu College. Gentlemen, Having been informed that the result of your deliberation in close committee on Saturday last was a resolution to dispense with my further services at the College, I am induced to place my resignation in your hands, in order to save myself from the mortification of receiving formal notice of my dismissal. It would, however, be unjust to my reputation, which I value, were I to abstain from recording in this communication certain facts which I presume do not appear upon the face of your proceedings. Firstly, no charge was brought against me. Secondly, if any accus-
ation was brought forward, I was not informed of it. Thirdly, I was not called up to face my accusers, if any such appeared. Fourthly, no witness was examined on either side. Fifthly, my conduct and character under- went scrutiny and no opportunity was afforded me of defending either. Sixthly, while a majority did not, as I have learned, consider me an unfit person to be con- nected with the College, it was resolved, notwithstand- ing, that I should be removed from it, so that, unbiased, unexamined, and unheard, you resolve to dismiss me without even the mockery of a trial. These are facts. I offer not a word of comment. I must also avail myself of this opportunity of recording my thanks to Mr. Wilson, Mr. Hare, and Baboo Sreekissen Sing for the part which, I am informed, they respectively took in your proceedings on Saturday last. I am, Gentlemen, Your obedient servant, H. L. V. Derozio. Dr. Wilson's reply, with its unexpected questions relating to the specific charges brought against Derozio, shows the writer's friendliness and sympathy, and eli- cited from Derozio, who had never even been informed as to what the charges against him were, an indignant denial and a dignified confession of faith. Dr. Wilson wrote:—
Dear Derozio, 25th April, 1831. I believe you are right: although I could have wished you had been less severe upon the native Managers, whose decision was founded merely upon the expediency of yielding to popular clamour, the justice of which it was not incumbent on them to investigate- There was no trial intended—there was no condemna- tion. An impression had gone abroad to your dis- advantage, the effects of which would not have been dispelled by any proof you could have produced, that it was unfounded. I suppose there will still be much discussion on the subject, privately only I trust, but that there will be; and I should like to have the power of speaking confidently on three charges brought agaihst you. Of course, it rests entirely with you to answer my questions. Do you believe in a God? Do you think respect and obedience to parents no part of moral duty? Do you think the intermarriage of brothers and sisters innocent and allowable? Have you ever maintained these doctrines by argument in the hearing of our scholars? Now 1 have no right to interrogate you on these or any other of your senti- ments, but these are the rumoured charges against you, and I should be very happy if I could say boldly they are false; or could produce your written and un- qualified denial for the satisfaction of those whose good opinion is worth having. Yours sincerely, H. H. Wilson.
At last Derozio was face to face with the ridiculous charges that his enemies had brought against him and he was able to put in his defence. He wrote on the following day :— 26th April, 1831. H. H. Wilson, Esq., My dear Sir,—Your letter, which I received last even- ing, should have been answered earlier but for the interference of other matters which required my atten- tion. I beg your acceptance of this apology for the delay, and thank you for the interest which your communication proves that you continue to take in me. I am sorry, however, that the questions you have put to me will impose upon you the disagreeable necessity of reading this long justification of my conduct and opinions. But I must congratulate myself that this opportunity 'is afforded me of addressing so influential and distinguished an individual as yourself upon matter which if true, might seriously affect my character. My friends need not, however, be under any apprehension for me ; for myself the consciousness of right is my safe- guard and my consolation. (I) I have never denied the existence of a God in the hearing of any human being. If it be wrong to speak at all upon such a subject, I am guilty, but I am neither afraid, nor ashamed to confess having stated the doubts of philosophers upon this head, because I have
also stated the solution of these doubts. Is it forbidden anywhere to argue upon such a question? If so, it must be equally wrong to adduce an argument upon either side. Or is it consistent with an enlightened notion of truth to wed ourselves to only one view of so important a subject, resolving to close our eyes and ears against all impressions that oppose themselves to it? How is any opinion to be strengthened but by completely comprehending the objections that are offered to it, and exposing their futility? And what have I done more than this? Entrusted as I was for some time with the education of youth peculiarly circumstanced, was it for me to have made them pert and ignorant dogmatists, by permitting them to know what could be said upon only one side of grave ques- tions? Setting aside the narrowness of mind which such a course might have evinced, it would have been injurious to the mental energies and acquirements of the young men themselves. And (whatever may be said to the contrary), I can vindicate my procedure b}r quoting no less orthodox authority than Lord Bacon :— "If a man," says this philosopher (and no one ever had a better right to pronounce an opinion upon such matters than Lord Bacon), "will begin with certainties he shall end in doubt." This, I need scarcely observe, is always the case with contented ignorance when it is
roused too late to thought. One doubt suggests another, and universal scepticism is the consequence. I therefore thought it my duty to acquaint several of the College students with the substance of Hume's celebrated dialogue between Cleanthes and Philo, in which the most subtle and refined arguments against Theism are adduced. But I have also furnished them with Dr. Reid's and Dugald Stewart's more acute replies to Hume,—replies which to this day continue unrefuted. This is the head and front of my offending. If the religious opinions of the students have become unhinged in consequence of the course I have pursued, the fault is not mine. To produce convictions was not within my power; and if I am to be condemned for the Atheism of some, let me receive credit for the Theism of others. Believe me, my dear Sir, I am too thoroughly imbued with a deep sense of human igno- rance, and of the perpetual vicissitudes of opinion, tc speak with confidence even of the most unimportant matters. Doubt and uncertainty besiege us too closely to admit the boldness of dogmatism to enter an enquir- ing mind; and far be it from me to say "this is" and "that is not", when after the most extensive acquain- tence with the researches of science, and after the most daring flights of genius, we must confess with sorrow and disappointment that humility becomes the highest wisdom, for the highest wisdom assures man of his ignorance.
(II) Your next question is, "Do you think respect and obedience to parents no part of moral duty?" For the first time in my life did I learn from your letter that I am charged with inculcating so hideous, so unnatural, so abominable a principle. The authors of such infamous fabrications are too degraded for my contempt. Had my father been alive, he would have repelled the slander by telling my calumniators, that a son who had endeavoured to discharge every filial duty as I have done, could never have enter- tained such a sentiment; but my mother can testify how utterly inconsistent it is with my conduct, and upon her testimony I might risk my vindication. However, I will not stop there; so far from having ever main- tained or taught such an opinion, I have always insisted upon respect and obedience to parents. I have indeed condemned that feigned respect which some children evince, as being hypocritical and injurious to the moral character; but I have always endeavoured to cherish the sentient feelings of the heart, and to direct them into proper channels. Instances, however in which I have insisted upon respect and obedience to parents, are not wanting. I shall quote two important ones for your satisfaction : and as the parties are always at hand, you may at any time substantiate what I say. About two or three months ago Dakhinarunjun Mookerjee (who has made so great a noise lately) informed me that
bis father's treatment of him had become utterly insup- portable, and that his only chance of escaping it was by leaving his father's home. Although I was aware of the truth of what he had said, I dissuaded him from taking such a course, telling him that much should be endured from a parent, and that the world would not justify his conduct if he left his home without being actually turned out of it. He took my advice, though I regret to say only for a short time. A few weeks ago he left his father's house, and to my great surprise engaged another in my neighbourhood. After he had completed his arrangements with his landlord, he informed me for the first time of what he had done; and when I asked him why he had not consulted me before he took such a step :—" because," replied he, " I knew you would have prevented it." The other instance relates to Mohesh Chunder Sing. Having recently behaved rudely to his father and offended some of his other relatives, he called upon me at my house with his uncle Umacharun Bose and his cousin Nondolal Sing. I reproached him severely for his contumacious behaviour, and told him that, until he sought forgiveness from his father, I would not speak to him. I might mention other cases, but these may suffice. (Ill) "Do you think marriages of brothers and sisters innocent and allowable?" This is your third D
question. "No," is my I distinct reply; and I never taught such an absurdity. But I am at a loss to find out how such misrepresentations as those to which I have been exposed have become current. No person who has ever heard me speak upon such subjects could have circulated these untruths; at least, I can hardly bring myself to think that one of the College students with whom I have been connected could be either such a fool as to mistake everything I ever said, or such a knave, as wilfully to mis-state my opinions. I am rather disposed to believe that weak people who are determined upon being alarmed, finding nothing to be frightened at, have imputed these follies to me. That I should be called a sceptic and an infidel is not surpris- ing, as these names are always given to persons who think for themselves in religion; but I assure you, that the imputations which you say are alleged against me, I have learned for the first time from your letter, never having dreamed that sentiments so opposed to my own could have been ascribed to me. I must trust, therefore, to your generosity to give the most unquali- fied contradiction to these ridiculous stories. I am not a greater monster than most people, though I certainly should not know myself were I to credit all that is said of me. I am aware that for some weeks some busy- bodies have been manufacturing the most absured and groundless stories about me, and even aboutjmy family _
Some fools went so far as to say my sister, while others said my daughter, (though I have not one), was to have been married to a Hindu young man. I traced the report to a person called Brindabone Ghosal, a poor Brahmin, who lives by going from house to house to entertain the inmates with the news of the day, which he invariably invents. *6owever, it is a satisfac- tion to reflect that scandal, though often noisy, is not everlasting." Now that I have replied to your questions, allow me to ask you, my dear Sir, whether the expediency of yielding to popular clamour can be offered in justifica- tion of the measures adopted by the Native Managers of the College towards me? Their proceedings cer- tainly do not record any condemnation of me, but does it not look very like condemnation of a man's conduct and character to dismiss him from office when popular clamour is against him? Vague reports and unfounded rumours went abroad concerning me; the Native Managers confirm them by acting towards me as they have done. Excuse my saying it, but I believe there was a determination on their part to get rid of me, not to satisfy popular clamour, but their own bigotry. Had my religion and morals been investigated by them, they could have had no grounds to proceed against me. They therefore thought it most expedient to make no enquiry, but with anger and precipitation to remove me
from the institution. The slovenly manner in which they have done so, is a sufficient indication of the spirit by which they were moved ; for in their rage they have forgotten what was due even to common decency. Every person who has heard of the way in which they have acted is indignant; but to complain of their injus- tice would be paying them a greater compliment than they deserve. In concluding this letter allow me to apologise for its inordinate length, and to repeat my thanks for all that you have done for me in the unpleasant affair by which it has been occasioned. I remain, etc., H. L. V. Derozkx Deeply as Derozio felt the manner of his leaving his work in the Hindu College, there was some com- pensation in the greater freedom his independence gave him. In journalism he found a wider outlet for his energy and a larger audience to bring under the spell of his influence than as a teacher among his class of boys. He little foresaw when he plunged with youthful energy into journalism in the spring of 1831 that scarce eight months more of life remained to him. Though the same spirit of harmony still reigned, a change had fallen over the home circle in Lower Circular Road. Derozio's father had died and the circumstances of the family
were no longer as affluent as they had been in earlier days. His now widowed step-mother, whom if she had been his own mother he could not have regarded with deeper affection, and his sister Amelia, to whom he was devotedly attached, were now almost entirely depen- dent upon him and he settled down to what he believed would prove his life's work with hope and confidence. Whatever lack of sympathy and injustice he had met with in the world without, he had never from the first experienced anything but perfect happiness in his home life and this to one of his sensitive, sympathetic nature was no mean cause for gratitude. His first literary venture after his return to jour- nalism was the production of The East Indian, the first newspaper to be devoted especially to the cause of the Anglo-Indian community. How ably it was run, Dr. John Grant testifies. There could be no difference of opinion, he wrote, as to "the talents, the perfect honesty and the unfettered views of the Editor." Besides running his own paper he found time to con- tribute to almost all of the many other papers that the keen intellectual revival of the day had produced, The India Gazette, The Calcutta Literary Gazette, The Indian Magazine, The Calcutta Magazine, The Bengal Journal, The Enquirer and The Hesperus. Derozio's last act was to take part in the annual examination of the pupils of the Parental Academy,
afterwards the Doveton College. On December 17th The East Indian gives a report of the Examination from Derozio's pen, in all probability the last lines that he was destined to write. They are in the same fine large-hearted spirit that had breathed through all his brief but brilliant career. "The most pleasing feature in this institution is its freedom from illiberality," he wrote. "At some of the Calcutta schools objections are made to natives, not so much on the part of the masters as of the Christian parents. At the Dhurrum- tolla Academy it is quite delightful to witness the exer- tions of Hindu and Christian youths, striving together for academic honours. This will do much towards softening asperities which always arise in hostile sects; and when the Hindu and the Christian have learned from mutual intercourse how much there is to be admired in the human character, without reference to differences of opinion in religious matters, shall we be brought nearer than we now are to that happy condi- tion when 'Man to man the world o'er, Shall brothers be and a' that.' "To those parents who object to the bringing up of their children among native youths, we desire to repre- sent the suicidal nature of their conduct. Can they check the progress of knowledge at certain schools? Can they close the gates of the Hindu College, and
other institutions? If not, is it not obvious that they cannot withhold knowledge from Hindu youths and if they manifest illiberal feeling towards those youths, are they not afraid of a reaction? In a few years the Hindus will take their stand by the best and the proud- est Christians and it cannot be desirable to excite the feelings of the former against the latter. The East Indians complain of suffering from proscriptions, is it for them to proscribe? Suffering should teach us not to make others suffer. Is it to produce different effect:- on East Indians? We hope not. They will find after all, that it is their best interest to unite and co-operate with the other native inhabitants of India. Any other course will subject them to greater opposition than they have at present. Can they afford to make more enemies?" These are fine last words. They were written with no inkling, as he penned them, that they were the last he was ever to give to the world. They breathe so true a spirit of large-mindedness and tolerance, and at the same time so accurately forecast coming events that it is with an effort one recalls to memory the writer's youth. The promise of spring was still upon him, for there wanted yet four months to the completion of his twenty-third year. In this enlightened warm-hearted boy lay the hopes of his fellow-countrymen. What might not his genius and enthusiasm have done for his
neglected race? In him at last it had produced the brilliant advocate it had so long awaited. But it had produced only to lose. In his earlyi death there is written the tragedy of his race. The inexorable law that its beauty quickly fades, seemed inevitably to apply to this exceptional beauty of soul. The qualities of the race were there, but not (yet were they to find full expression and recognition. The end came suddenly. It was the fell disease that lays low with such appalling suddenness, against which even the strongest constitution is of no avail. There had been much sickness that rainy season and cholera had done even more than its usual share in filling the graveyards of Calcutta, and keeping the burning ghats along the Hooghly always smouldering. Even when the rains had passed, it still lingered and in those days the unfortunate victim who once fell a prey to the disease seldom recovered. On Saturday, December 17th, the very day on which his last note appeared in The East Indian, Derozio was stricken down. At first it was hoped that it was only a mild attack and that his youth and buoyant spirit would bear the strain. For six days he fought manfully for life, racked with pain and delirious with fever, yet always thoughtful for those about him, the step-mother and the sister he loved, and the friends and pupils who had hung upon his words in days gone by and who now gathered round his bedside*
realising in awe-stricken silence that they were watching the passing of him they loved. He died on the 26th of December 1831, in his twenty-third year. It is impossible to say to what heights Derozio might not have risen had his life been spared. His writings are extraordinarily mature, considering his years, and his poems show a remarkable command of language and beauty of expression: and if, in spite of their unbounded enthusiasm, their wealth of imagery, and their passionate resentment of wrong, they lack something in originality and undoubtedly owe much to Byron and Moore, his contemporaries, it must be remem- bered that death at the age of twenty-three cut short the undoubted promise his youthful work evinces. It is difficult to believe that one who showed such early promise would have failed to attain to greater things with maturer years. Yet it may be that his was the brief spark of genius that flashes but for a moment— a spark too brilliant for the frail body that encases it and that by its very effulgence works its own extinct- ion. There can be no doubt from his poems that his was one of those natures not made for happiness. He lived life too intensely, his sympathies were too wide- spread, his sensitive mind too much alive to the eternal sadness of things, for him ever to lead the ordinary life of his fellow-men.
"Good night! Well then, good night to thee, In peace thine eyelids close; May dreams of future happiness Illume thy soft repose. I've that within that knows no rest, Sleep comes to me in vain; My dreams are dark —I never more Shall pass ' good night' again." So it may be that death was a happy release to the ardent spirit that must always have chafed against the limits of this mortal life. He himself had written of 'Death my best friendand he doubtless realised that only in another life could he attain the full knowledge and the full truth which he so diligently sought. "Death my best friend, if thou dost ope the door, The gloomy entrance to a sunnier world, It boots not when my being's scene is furled, So thou canst aught like vanished bliss restore. I vainly call on thee, for fate the more Her bolts hurls down, as she has ever hurled; And in my war with her I've felt, and feel Grief's path cut to my heart by misery's steel, But man's eternal energies can make An atmosphere around, him, and so take Good out of evil, like the yellow bee,
That sucks from flowers malignant a sweet treasure, O tyrant fate, thus shall I vanquish thee: For out of suffering shall I gather pleasure." Derozio rests in that famous Park Street Cemetery where lie so many of Calcutta's honoured dead. For over three quarters of a century no inscription marked his grave. Soon after his death it was proposed to erect a monument to his memory over his remains, but, owing, not to his comrades' lack of support but to embezzlement on the part of one to whom the sum collected was entrusted, the monument was never raised. So the grave of the poet remained unmarked and unhonoured until a few years since, after the lapse of so many decades, a stone was finally placed to his memory at the expense of an 'admiring fellow- countryman'. It is as if, in his beautiful lines, 'The Poet's Grave', he himself foresaw something of his own fate— "There, all in silence, let him sleep his sleep, No dream shall flit into that slumber deep— No wandering mortal thither once shall wend, There, nothing o'er him but the heavens shall weep, There, never pilgrim at his shrine shall bend, But holy stars alone their nightly vigils keep ".
THE HARP OF INDIA
WHY hang'stthou lonely on yon withered bough? 
Unstrung for ever, must thou there remain;
Thy music once was sweet—who hears it now? Why doth the breeze sigh over thee in vain?
Silence hath bound thee with her fatal chain;
Neglected, mute, and desolate art thou,
Like ruined monument on desert plain:
O ! many a hand more worthy far than mine
Once thy harmonious chords to sweetness gave,
And many a wreath for them did
Fame entwine
Of flowers still blooming on the minstrel's grave:
Those hands are cold—but if thy notes divine
May be by mortal wakened once again,
Harp of my country, let me strike the strain!
March, 1827.
TO INDIA—MY NATIVE LAND
MY country ! in thy day of glory past
A beauteous halo circled round thy brow,
And worshipped as a deity thou wast.
Where is that glory, where that reverence now?
Thy eagle pinion is chained down at last,
And grovelling in the lowly dust art thou:
Thy minstrel hath no wreath to weave for thee
Save the sad story of thy misery!
Well—let me dive into the depths of time,
And bring from out the ages that have rolled
A few small fragments of those wrecks sublime,
Which human eye may never more behold;
And let the guerdon of my labour be
My fallen country! one kind wish from thee! 2
MY DREAM WAS it thy spirit came to me
To visit me in sleep?
O that my slumber might have been
More lengthened, and more deep!
Was it a visitant from Heaven
That to my pillow came,
And answered in thine own loved voice,
Whene'er I named thy name?
Not half so sweet the nightingale
Unto the rosebud sings,
As came thy voice of other days,
With which my ear still rings.
It was thine unforgotten form,
O Heaven ! that I did see:
Thou wast not changed—thy large black eye
Still beamed on me, on me!
And there were words that seemed to burn,
Words that I may not tell;
And many a tear that seemed to sear
Thy bosom, as it fell.
And there were smiles of other days,
When days were warm and bright;
They passed like beams of hope away, Or shadows of the night!
O! how my memory loves to cling
To aught that breathes of thee!
E'en on this little dream I dwell
With maddening ecstacy.
But what am I—and where art thou?
So bright can visions seem?
O dreams of bliss are bliss indeed,
For bliss is but a dream.
February, 1827. 4
THE MANIAC WIDOW
VOICE in the wind, and a voice on the wave,
A voice like the voice of my warrior dear,
A voice like a moan from the dark, dark grave
Incessantly rings on my lonely ear!
But my warrior-love to the war is gone,
Where the laurel of triumph he sure hath won;
Yet soon he'll return, with a smile, to me
From the field of strife, and the wandering sea.
To twine with his crown a wreath I'll wreathe,
And o'er it the winged spirits shall breathe;
And around it a moonlight charm shall be shed
Like a halo, to circle my hero's head;
I'll bathe it each morn in glittering dew,
And so will I give it him, fresh and new:
That wreath I'll weave of flowrets rare,
And bind it around his forehead fair,
Anemones, roses, and lilies white,
With cypress twigs, and the flower of night.
Ah no! no cypress shall be in that wreath,
For the cypress droops o'er the house of death!
Oh ! how wondrous fine the flowers will be!
And he'll love them all when they're twined by me;
And his burning lip he'll press to mine
With kisses to pay for the wreath I'll twine.
5
I see where his ship on the ocean rides,
Like a sprite on the waters she gently glides;
On the deck he stands, and hark, he sings!
Lend him, lend him, Love, thy wings!
Blow, blow, thou breeze !—the ship comes nigh—
Methinks the tears stand forth in mine eye;
I'll dash them thence, for alas! 'twere sin
To let them flow when my love comes in.
On the shore he leaps from the trackless main,
Ha, ha, ha, ha,—he is come again!
And lo ! he is wrapt in his cloak of red,
And his plume waves high on his gallant head
But his face is wan, and his brow is pale.
O ! how my heart begins to fail!
He sees me, comes not;—still he stands
With arms outstretched, and beck'ning hands:
O! I remember—it is not life—
They told me he fell on the field of strife—
They told me—but no, it cannot be
I saw his ship on the foaming sea,
I heard his voice of music,—more—
I saw him leap from the boat ashore;
I see him still—ha, ha, his eyes
Are bright as stars that around me rise.
Come hither, my love ! depart not yet.
O ! dost thou, canst thou all forget? '
Tis past—away he hath fled—no, no, 6
I dream, I dream; he would not go—
But how ?—they told me the winter sleet
Was his pillow, his grave, and his winding sheet;
They told me, they fired not a funeral shot,
No prayer was heard, and the drum beat not;
No horse was led to his place of rest;
But the red blood oozed from his wounded breast;
On the field of snow, no longer fair,
He breathed his last, and they buried him there.
They said—but the tale I will not believe;
My love could not leave me thus to grieve—
I know he is nigh—but it gives me pain
To watch and weep till he comes again!
Ye waters bright that beneath me roll!
Tell me, where is the light of my soul—
On the mountain-top, on the boundless main,
By the pebbly beach, or the desert plain?
Yet tell me,—burns the vital spark,
Or is it quenched, and my soul all dark?
Winds ! that like winged spirits play
Around my temples, say, O! say,
Whither my love can be wandering now
Without my garland to bind his brow?
The winds are mute, and the waves unkind;
They speak not peace to my wounded mind;
But spite of all I will seek him still,
On the wave, on the plain, on the rock, and the hill. 7
She wildly laughed, and went muttering on,
Till the chalky cliff by the sea was won;
She climbed that cliff, then gazed awhile
On the moonlit sea, with a vacant smile;
Her hands were clasped, and she looked on high
To the stars that gleam'd in the tranquil sky;
In the wild wind waved her raven hair,
And hers was the look of fixed despair;
To the brink of the cliff she hurriedly went
Singing her dreary, sad lament;—
'A voice in the wind, and a voice on the wave,
A voice like the voice of my warrior dear,
A voice like a moan from the dark, dark grave,
Incessantly rings on my lonely ear.'
She paused on the brink, as if reason came
And stopp'd her there—but 'twas still the same.
She looked around, and she looked above,
She looked below, and called on her love;
None answered her ; for the dead are dumb;
And then she cried, 'I come! I come!'
From that dread height that low'ring hung
O'er the deep sea, herself she flung, Into the watery waste below,
The friendly goal of life and woe!
Like beam that flashes, and is gone
Her passing form an instant shone, 8
An instant gleam'd her raiment white,
An instant part the waters bright,
Then close for ever—and again
Serenely smiles the silver main,
And all was still, like a voiceless thought
That once had been.—
Long years have rolled ; and fishermen say,
That every year, on that sad day,
Strange sounds are heard—and the waters rush
Like passion's tumultuous, maddening gush;
Then all is silent—and then a strain
Like Syren's song is heard on the main,
Sweeter than music of waves below,
And thus, they say, the song doth flow:—
'From my deep bed of coral I've risen for thee,
And left my green chambers
Far down in the sea;
My hall of pure amber Is darksome and drear,
No star-light beaming
My bosom to cheer:
To the depths of the ocean
Come swiftly with me, I'll give thee the treasures
No mortal can see; 9
Come swiftly down, swiftly;
My grottos are mute,
For thee I'll awaken
My song, and my lute.
The lute that soothed sweetly
Of yore, thy wild ear;
The song of love's raptures
You once loved to hear!
From my deep bed of coral I've risen for thee,
And left my green chambers
Far down in the sea! I'll break the dark spell that has bound thee so long,
And wake for my loved-one the sea-harp and song.'
December, 1826. 10
THERMOPYLAE
IS there none to say, 'Twas well'?
Shall not Fame their story tell,
Why they fought, and why they fell?
'Twas to be free!
O! who would live a crouching slave,
While yet this earth can give a grave?
Who would not rather death than shame,
While thinking on thine awful name,
Thermopylae?
Small their number, high their pride,
Great they lived, and nobly died,
Friends and brothers, side by side,
Within that pass: His barbarous hordes, and countless hosts
The Persian brought from distant coasts;
Like hunted deer those hosts were slain
Before thine arm their might was vain, Leonidas!
Curse on him who did betray
Sparta's sons, and showed the way
Where every hope of victory lay
To Persia's bands!
But Sparta's sons, a hero each,
Did, on that day, a lesson teach 11
How liberty in death is won,
What deeds with
Freedom's sword are done
In freemen's hands!
Circled by a sea of blood,
Pressed by thousands, still they stood,
Fighting, falling, unsubdued,
Unconquered still.
They scorned to breathe the breath of slaves,
They fought for free and hallowed graves;
And though they fell in glory's hour,
The Persian overcame their power,
But—not their will!
Let them rest—nought could appal
Those who armed at Honour's call:
Fell they not as heroes fall—
For Liberty?
Then, let them rest—their race is run;
O ! let them rest; their day is done;
They found them each a glorious grave,
But still their fame is on thy wave,
Thermopylae! December, 1826. 12
LOVE'S FIRST FEELINGS
'TWAS at a merry festival.
His eyes glanced darkly in the hall;
He met me, and my hand he prest,
A sudden dullness seized my breast;
I shivered, and my hand grew cold,
As if my mortal hour were told;
I would it had been ! but his smile,
Like sunshine beaming, cheered the while;
And when I saw he smiled on me,
My heart knelt in idolatry!
I know not how it then could brook
One glance from him,—his smile, and look,—
But for such madness, and such pain,
I would not live that hour again.
O ! why was woman made to feel
Emotions strong, and not reveal?
Or, like the Phoenix, in the fire
Her heart hath made, it should expire.
A few wild words he spake—and then
A burning thought flashed through my brain;
It passed—but like the lightning's wing
All hopes seared with its fiery sting.
It passed—I would that very hour
That I had faded like a flower,
A flower which heaven's soft tears had cherished.
But when the wild blast came, had perished. 13
'Twill not be so with me ; for grief
Will strew the flowret leaf by leaf.
Thus living, what is life but breath?
The dull departing of a ray,
A wasting of the soul away;
O God ! O God! 'tis living death!
That thought—I dare not name it now—
My brain throbs with it yet—my brow
Is burning strangely, and my ear
Rings with a voice I would not hear.
He left the hall of revelry,
And wished good night and peace to me;
All eyes were fixed on him, but mine
Nor dared to rise, nor dared to shine—
Something had glazed them o'er—but no—
I scorned my weakness thus to show;
I looked around, but he was gone;
And then I felt he was the one,
The only one who was to be
The ruler of my destiny. January, 1827. 14
I SONG.
THE roe that on the mountain dwells,
J- Or threads the thicket wide,
Is blest with all of bliss, for still
Her hart is by her side.
Together o'er the hills they bound,
Together o'er the fields,
Together share each spotless joy
That bounteous nature yields.
When yonder orb with golden disk
Wends home, as he doth now,
Or in the wave doth gently lave
His glory-circled brow;
Oh ! then they both with lightsome foot
Go bounding to one lair,
Whate'er betide, or shade or shine,
Together everywhere!
Through blackest skies the fond dove flies,
Nor fears the shafts of fate;
Though winter raves, the blast she braves,
For with her flies her mate.
Oh ! there's the hallowed charm that brings
Such solace to the dove,
And that alone's the spell that makes
Her life a life of love.
II 15
The timid roe hath e'en a haunt,
The turtle-dove a nest;
And each a mate to share her fate,
But I've nor love nor rest.
These could not brook the mortal pang
To leave their dearest part,
For day by day they'd pine away—
Then why not break, my heart? Ill
Now Hope and Fear alternately
Their empire o'er me hold;
And worse, my sire would have me share
A villain's woes and gold.
I would I were a zephyr light
To pass my loved-one by,
To breathe upon him as I past,
And, passing, softly die.
I would I were an elfin sprite,
I'd ride the May moonbeams
To guard my lover night by night,
And flit into his dreams. If e'en I were a little flower
To bloom upon his breast,
'Twere bliss to live there one sweet hour,
Then—droop to lasting rest!
January, 1827. 16
POETRY
SWEET madness !—when the youthful brain is seized
With that delicious phrenzy which it loves,
It raving reels, to very rapture pleased,—
And then through all creation wildly roves:
Now in the deep recesses of the sea,
And now to highest Himalay it mounts;
Now by the fragrant shores of Araby,
Or classic Greece, or sweet Italia's founts,
Or through her wilderness of ruins;—now
Gazing on beauty's lip, or valour's brow;
Or rivalling the nightingale and dove
In pouring fourth its melody of love;
Or giving to the gale, in strains of fire,
Immortal harpings—like a seraph's lyre.
February, 1827. 2 17
FREEDOM TO THE SLAVE
HOW felt he when he first was told
A slave he ceased to be;
How proudly beat his heart, when first
He knew that he was free !—
The noblest feelings of the soul
To glow at once began;
He knelt no more ; his thoughts were raised;
He felt himself a man.
He looked above—the breath of heaven
Around him freshly blew;
He smiled exultingly to see
The wild birds as they flew,
He looked upon the running stream
That 'neath him rolled away;
Then thought on winds, and birds, and floods,
And cried, ' I'm free as they!'
Oh Freedom ! there is something dear
E'en in thy very name,
That lights the altar of the soul
With everlasting flame.
Success attend the patriot sword,
That is unsheathed for thee!
And glory to the breast that bleeds,
Bleeds nobly to be free!
Blest be the generous hand that breaks
The chain a tyrant gave,
And, feeling for degraded man,
Gives freedom to the slave.
February, 1827.
HEAVEN
KNOW ye the land where the fountain is springing,
Whose waters give life, and whose flow never ends;
Where cherub and seraph, in concert, are singing
The hymn that in odour and incense ascends?
Know ye the land where the sun cannot shine,
Where his light would be darken'd by glory divine;
Where the fields are all fair, and the flowret's young bloom
Never fades, while with sweetness each breath they perfume;
Where sighs are ne'er heard, and where tears are ne'er shed
From hearts that might elsewhere have broken, and bled;
Where grief is unfelt, where its name is unknown,
Where the music of gladness is heard in each tone;
Where melody vibrates from harps of pure gold,
Far brighter than mortal's weak eye can behold;
Where the harpers are robed in a mantle of light,
More dazzling than diamonds, than silver more white;
Where rays from a rainbow of emerald beam,
Where truth is no name, and where bliss is no dream ?—
Tis the seat of our God ! 'tis the land of the blest—
The kingdom of glory—the region of rest—
The boon that to man shall hereafter be given— '
Tis Love's hallowed empire—'tis Heaven ! 'tis Heaven 1
March, 1826. 19
TO MY BROTHER IN SCOTLAND /~
VER the blue, boundless, watery waste V/
To that far land where now thou art,
Be many a blessing borne to thee
By guardian seraphs of the heart!
Yes—o'er the wide eternal sea
Be many a blessing born to thee!
Thy glance is gay, thy smiles are bright,
Thy every youthful word is glad,
And oh ! thy little heart is light
As if the heart may ne'er be sad;—
Thy life is sunshine, mirth and joy—
So be it, fond, beloved boy!
Ay—be it so—the days may come
When scenes may rise less bright and fair,
And thine may be a bitter doom,
And life a burden hard to bear-
Why crowd these visions o'er my mind,
While others there a home should find?
Th' uncertain future wakes the fear
I feel, but must not, dare not tell-
Yet Hope's sweet voice rings in mine ear,
And whispers—All shall yet be well!
These thoughts are strangers to thy breast
Where all is pleasure, peace, and rest.
These thoughts—but let them pass away,
And Hope shall linger here alone—
Still be thy heart, fair, light, and gay,
And gladness in thine every tone;
Nor dream thou once, far o'er the sea,
That hearts are aching here for thee.
Then, o'er the boundless, watery waste
To that far land where now thou art,
Be many a blessing borne to thee
By guardian seraphs of the heart!
Yes—o'er the blue eternal sea
Be many a blessing born to thee!
August, 1826. 21
HERE'S A HEALTH TO THEE, LASSIE!
THOUGH wild waves roll between us now,
Though Fate severe may be, Lassie;
Though darkness cloud, at times, my brow,
Yet, here's a health to thee, Lassie!
Yes—here's a health to thee, my love!
All good that e'er hath been, Lassie;
Sweet peace below, and bliss above,
One day of brightest sheen, Lassie!
Yet, ah ! I dare not fondly hope
For thee a joy below, Lassie:
And till thou canst with sorrow cope,
Severe will be its blow, Lassie.
We've smiled together—but 'tis past:
We've wept—those days are o'er, Lassie;
'Twas too much happiness to last,
Its loss we now deplore, Lassie.
We mirthful revels yet may keep,
Yet feel the throes of pain, Lassie,
But we, alas ! shall smile, and weep
Together ne'er again, Lassie.
Yet sweeter 'tis despairing now
Than e'en to smile at will, Lassie,
With those who 're faithless, and while thou
Remain'st unaltered still, Lassie.
What boots it then, that I repine
At Fortune's stern decree, Lassie?
22
My every thought is only thine!
My every hope for thee, Lassie!
Come hither, boy ! fill up my bowl—
When hearts are wet with wine, Lassie,
And love is wakened in the soul,
The draught's indeed divine, Lassie!
My cup, perhaps, may taste of tears,
But still it sweet will be, Lassie—
Then—here's to unforgotten years,
And here's a health to thee, Lassie!
March 1826. 23
ODE
From the
Persian of hafiz ?1
AY, what's the rose without the smile
Of her I deem more fair,
And what are all the sweets of spring If wine be wanting there? 0 ! who will pause the choice to doubt
Of walks where music rings,
Or bowers in richest bloom without
The notes the Bulbul sings? In vain the cypress waves, in vain
A thousand flowrets sigh,
Without the cheek whose tint excels
The tulip's crimson dye!
Yet what are lips where sweetness clings,
And cheeks where roses dwell,
Without the kiss, the joy, the bliss
Of pleasure's potent spell?
The wine and garden both are sweet,
But sweetest wine and grove 1 loathe, if there I cannot meet
The face and form I love.
24
The brightest, fairest works of art
That skilful hands devise
Are nought, without the hand and heart
Of her I fondest prize.
And what's my life ?—perhaps a coin—
A trifling coin at best—
Unheeded e'en by passer-by,
Unfit for bridal guest.*
March, 1826.
*This alludes to a custom in the East, of throwing money away among the guests at a bridal. 25
THE TOMB }rpiS the house for dust and ashes, -1-
Which the white worm revels o'er;
Tis the land whence those who enter,
To this earth return no more. '
Tis the cave of silent darkness,
Which no mortal power can break; '
Tis the bed where they who slumber
From that slumber never wake. '
Tis the dreary, dismal ocean
Which we all must travel o'er
For long ages, without ceasing,
Till we reach the blissful shore. '
Tis the desert lone and weary
Of red flame and burning sand,
Which the soul must pass unmurm'ring
Ere it win the promised land. '
Tis the land where proudest despots
Have no power to tyrannise;
Where the blood of injured
Freedom For swift vengeance loudly cries;
Where the cheek of Beauty fading,
Does but fade to bloom again;
Where the conqueror is conquered,
And the captive breaks his chain. 26
Tis the place where quenched is madness,
And where hush'd the wail of grief;
Where the desolate are smiling,
And the wretched find relief; '
Tis where woe is all forgotten*
And the riven heart is blest; '
Where the wicked cease from troubling,
And the weary are at rest.' May, 1826. 27
THE BRIDAL
'I never told you a horrid story which I heard at Malta. There was a beautiful girl, the daughter of a merchant in the place, so unfortunate as to inspire two brothers with the same passion.
The younger, of a light and gay disposition, succeed- ed in winning her affections. The other might feel more deeply, but he said less, and was no adept in the craft of courtship; in short he was the unfortunate suitor: the damsel gave her hand to his rival; but if they had been united in the month of
May (the Maltese, from some superstition or other, never are married in this month), the union could not have proved more ill-omened. On the happy eve, the bridegroom was missed from the dance, and the anxious company watched in vain for his return.
The music ceased, the party broke up, and the lady retired solitarily to her chamber: nothing was seen of her husband till the morning, when he was found murdered in the garden, and the knife in his breast recognised as his brother's.
The parents were the prosecutors of the sole remaining son : he was found guilty, and executed.
They soon after lost their senses, and the wretched bride wears the habit of a nun, for which she exchanged her nuptial garment.'—An Autumn in Greece. Merrily pealed the marriage bell, And beauty's footsteps softly fell; Gay lights were sparkling in the hall, And bridal wreaths festoon'd the wall; Rose-odours, wine, the gladsome throng
With bright eyes, and the flow of song Made all appear as passing fair, As if young joys were revelling there. 28
Unmoved by song, or dance, or lute,
The bride sate mournfully and mute; Her heart and thoughts were far away,
Where all might guess, but none might say; 'Twas luxury for her to weep, And heave the sigh, long, slow, and deep;
The rose was braided in her hair,
Which well a darker wreath might wear;
White flowers were scattered in her way, Alas! she was as pale as they!
They withered, and as soon must she, For hers was utter misery— Her eye with a sad tear was glazed, As o'er the sea she fondly gazed, Like Hope expecting Love's return,
With thoughts that in her bosom burn. On speed the hours, the cups are crowned,
The lutes are soft, and songs go round;
The flowers are fair, the lamps are bright :—
Why comes the bridegroom not to-night?
The moonlight's swimming o'er the stream- She wakes not yet from sorrow's dream; Unawed by fear, she still is keeping Her vigil lone of woe and weeping!
The guests have left the silent hall,
The wreaths have withered on each wall, 29
The lights are quenched ;—the laugh, the glee And all the tones of revelry Are hushed—the sprightly songs are o'er: Cold as the flowers upon the floor,
White as the moonshine wildly roaming,
The girl awaits her bridegroom's coming.
The night hath passed in hopes and tears, And morning's grey sky now appears; He comes not—high her bosom swells
With that which there unbidden dwells,
That pang all other pangs above,
The fearfulness of love, young love! '
Tis fragrant daylight's earliest hour—
The dew-gem's set on many a flower,
The sky is clear—there's just a breath
To break the crystal wave beneath; 'Tis morn—he comes not—fears are high— Such omen bodes sad evil nigh!
They seek him with much anxious care, And to the garden's shade repair,
With less of hope than dark despair. Each path is search'd, each dubious spot Is soon explored—they find him not. One yet remains—it is the grove He consecrated unto love:
They hither wend, but sad and slow, 30
And hope grows weaker as they go.
Their hearts are heavy, dull with fear; But ha ! what does the bridegroom here?
With blood-stained garment he is found All prostrate on the fatal ground;
They raise him, but 'tis vain to trace
The features fixed, the pale, cold face; His spirit from its gaol of clay Hath, like a shadow, passed away! A knife with clotted blood lay near—
The murderer's hand was surely here;
Th' assassin's arm hath dealt the blow, And laid the youthful lover low! 'Twas thus at first, in haste, they deemed, And so, in sooth, at first it seemed; But when they looked upon the knife, '
The brother sought the brother's life; His guilty hand hath made him bleed, And he shall rue the deadly deed.' ***** ***** One month hath passed.—'Tis night—on high
The stars are studded in the sky Like gems in regal canopy; 'Tis night—the west wind's voice is low, Like the last moan of mortal woe;
The little ripple on the shore 31
Just breaks, and then is heard no more; "Tis night—the moon appears above Pale as a maiden's cheek in love;
That moon is gleaming o'er the grave,
Where sleeps the bridegroom, young and
Whom Love had not the power to save. And ah! that moon shines coldly too On the dark tomb of him who slew: Of him whose hand had been imbrued
With his young guiltless brother's blood: He at the shrine of Justice fell: But oh ! the tale is sad to tell, Led by his wretched parents there, His fate was fixed—and Mercy's prayer Arose not—if it once arose, '
Twas all unheard 'mid mingled woes; And he, the victim of his crime, By Justice fell—in manhood's prime. But who shall paint his parents' grief?
That never found e'en slight relief? Reft of two sons in evil day,
They saw their only hopes decay, And one loved child, upon his name Had left an everlasting shame.
They mourn'd till sorrow's self was vain, And reason fled their maddened brain. 32
But where is she, the bride, the flower
That bloomed so fair in Love's green bower? Alas, the bride of one short hour!
To God her days and nights are given, A sinless candidate for heaven! But none can deem what still must be Her madness and her misery;
That state of being which can bring No joy to soothe, no pang to sting; Life's darksome night of dull unchanging sorrow 1 he night that brings with death a brighter morrow, September, 1826. 3 33
EVENING IN AUGUST Roll on, fair Ganges !—
What a noble stream! And on its bosom the last, lingering beam Of the red, setting sun serenely lies, Smiling, like Hope's last ray—and then it dies! And O ! the clouds—what colours they display, Sport for a while, then melt in air away! Like thoughts in dreams, which o'er the passive mind All fitful flit, and leave no trace behind.
The sun sets on a bank, whose yellow sand All brightly glows ; as if an angel's hand Had scattered gold there, heedless of the worth
That gold hath gained among the sons of earth.
There is a fisher's boat beside that shore; 'Tis sleeping on the wave—the weary oar Is laid at rest; and he who plied is gone
With his small 'scaly spoil', to meet the one
Whom 'tis his joy to meet. O Love ! thou art
The master of the poorest humblest heart. A light breeze hath disturbed the water's breast, Like a remembrance waking thoughts at rest; It seems as if in fleeting thus away, It had extinguished the sun's parting ray.
What holy silence gathers now around! All, all is still, save the small silver sound
Which issues from the wave that wanders by, Soft as an angel's harp, or maiden's sigh: 34
O !1 could listen to it till my soul In boundless floods of ecstacy might roll. Night's shadows are descending ; twilight dies;
The bird unto its leafy covert flies;
The crescent moon is rising pale ; the dew Falls like a blessing ; and there are a few Small, bright, and sparkling stars in yonder heaven— Islands of bliss, abodes for the forgiven! It is an hour of watchfulness and thought; It is the chosen season when are wrought
The fairest pictures ever Fancy drew;
'Tis Love's delicious hour, when Love is new,
When soft words poured into a maiden's ear Melt in her soul, and she delights to hear
The oft repeated vows of truth and faith
To be preserved inviolate till death! Now spirits are abroad, and on the green Dance the light fairies round their playful queen:
They dance, but leave no footprints on the grass, And when 'tis morn, like thoughts, away they pass; And then each hies her to her elfin bower, A shrub's green leaf, or petal of a flower. 35
GREECE 'At midday on the 23rd, the fire of the
Turks having ceased, we saw behind the battery nearest to the town, two women, several men, and some children, their prisoners, whom they had spitted, and were roasting at a slow fire.
They placed these wretched beings at the head of their batteries, as a sort of trophy. And will Europe hear of such an atrocity with indifference?
These unfortunate persons had been taken in an excursion, made by them into the Canton of Venetiko. Heavens! what have we done to be abandoned to the ferocity of a race so barbarous!' Hellenic Chronicle of Missolonghi.
Will Europe hear?—Aye, calmly hear— No arm is stretched to save:
Why need'st thou aid ? art thou not Greece,
The glorious, and the brave? Art thou not Greece, the hallowed land,
The mistress of the seas?
Where are the breasts that bled for thee?
Where sleeps Miltiades?
Where are the few whose tales we hear, A hero every one,
Who fought, and fell, victorious still—
The men of Marathon?
Where is the godlike Spartan prince Of famed
Thermopylae, 36
"
Who nobly scorning life in chains, Deemed 'better not to be '? Chains !—O! the very thought was death, A thought they could not bear;
Their lofty spirits were as free As their own mountain air! Hast thou forgotten, Salamis!
The triumph on thy wave?
Thy rocky shore can testify
Th' Athenian was no slave. But Athens hath forgot his name, His deeds are past away; And o'er her broken temples now Hath lowered a darker day.
The flame that on her altars glowed Now glows, alas ! no more! And that bright fire is quenched which warmed Her heroes' hearts of yore. And Corinth, city of the sea, In dust and ashes weeps;
Why is she now not great and free? Alas!
Timoleon sleeps! King Agis was a Spartan king, A crown was on his brow; 37
But Liberty that chaplet wove: Such king hath Sparta now? An oracle did once declare,
The prince who first was dead Should save his state—and know ye not How nobly Codrus bled?
There was a hero once in Thebes
Who spurned a tyrant's power; Did he but live, Thebes would not be In slavery one short hour!
They're gone to their eternal rest, Untroubled and serene;
Their country is a tyrant's now, As if they ne'er had been! O Greece ! thy race of gods on earth
Would soon have set thee free By some unequalled deed of worth, Befitting them, and thee. But though they sleep, hast thou no sons
To seize the flaming brand, And bravely grasp the freeman's sword
With patriotic hand?
Will Europe hear? Ah! no—ah ! no- She coldly turns from thee; 38
Thine own right arm, and battle-blade Must win the victory. And then will Europe hear ?—she shall, But not a mournful strain;
The world will hear exultingly
That Greece is free again! March, 1827. 9
SONG OF THE INDIAN GIRL
TV/fY dream was bright, but it past away,
The thought so sweet is gone— And hope hath fled, like a rainbow's ray, Or a beam of the setting sun! But I am left, like an autumn leaf,
To the pitiless world, and the blast of grief,
Till my day of life is done !— Spirit of Love! O bear my soul Farther than Gunga's waters roll, For my spring of joy has been brief. January 1827. 40
THE GREEKS AT MARATHON* HE who dies his land to save, Rests within a glorious grave. Forward, forward ! Grecians, on! '
Tis the plain of Marathon! By the vict'ry of our sires, By our bosoms' native fires, By th' Athenian's! deathless name, Here we vow to die for fame! Spirits of the martial band
Who once armed to save this land,
Who their valor here displayed, Heaven will quit, our cause to aid. Here, our sires a battle fought, Here, with blood their rights they bought, Here, our sires a battle won, On this plain of Marathon! Grecians! brothers! dauntless be,-^-
Think upon Thermopylae,
Think upon Plataea's day,
Think of ages past away.
Think on those more dear than life, Parents, children, sister, wife! *$These lines were written after the announcement of an action that had taken place at Marathon between the Turks and the Greeks, in which the latter were victorious. f Themistocles. 41
Think of victory, think of fame, Freedom, fortune, nation, name! Sparta's heroes never turned, E'en submission's name they spurned; Bold they answered, deaf to alarms, 'Let them come, and take our arms ! '* This is Freedom's hallowed earth, Hallowed by a deed of worth; Let another such be done On this field of Marathon. Yes ! from hence the Persian fled, Here lay many a tyrant dead. 'Tis a gallant field of glory, Tis a battle famed in story ;— Here the Moslem we shall meet, Prostrate lay him at our feet;— Seek we freedom ?—Grecians, on! Freedom's field is Marathon! May, 1825. * The well-known reply of Leonidas to Xerxes. 42
SONNET TO THE PUPILS OF THE HINDU COLLEGE EXPANDING like the petals of young flowers I watch the gentle opening of your minds, And the sweet loosening of the spell that binds Your intellectual energies and powers, That stretch (like young birds in soft summer hours) Their wings, to try their strength. O, how the winds Of circumstances, and freshening April showers Of early knowledge, and unnumbered kinds Of new perceptions shed their influence; And how you worship truth's omnipotence.
What joyance rains upon me, when I see Fame in the mirror of futurity,
Weaving the chaplets you have yet to gain, Ah then I feel I have not lived in vain. 43
STANZAS LIKE roses blooming o'er the grave, a fair and fragrant wreath, That hides, with all its loveliness, the wreck of life beneath; E'en so the smile, the flash of joy, that on my cheek appears— Altho' 'tis seen—no longer now my blighted bosom cheers. O ! could I take the wings of morn, or soar with eagle crest, I'd spurn the world, and flee away to some unbroken rest;— O! could I weep for all my joy, and all my wildest woe, That very grief would give relief—those tears would sweetly flow! But ah ! it seems that even tears to me are now denied; The sacred spring of sympathy has long ago been dried. Tho' sorrow in my desert breast her habitation make, My heart will heed her dwelling not—it is too stern to break. June, 182$. 44
TO THE DOG STAR HOW the Chaldean watched thee, brightest star 1 Brightest, and loveliest in the vault of heaven! There dost thou shine, and shine like Hope afar; And at the soft, sweet, silent hour of even,
While airy spirits breathing fragrance fly, And fan my temples with their odorous wings, Thy trembling light to watch and worship, I Go forth ;—this to my heart such rapture brings, As never may be told I—Thy lovely light, Eternal Sirius, re-calls one dear to mind; For Oh ! her form was beautiful and bright, And like thy ray, her soul was most refined, And made for tenderness, and purest love ;— Then smile on her, bright star, smile sweetly from above. April, 1827. 45
ITALY H! how I long to look upon thy face, Land of the Lover and the Poet!—Thou I've ever deemed must be a pleasant place To them who at the shrine of ages bow, Adoring every relic of the past
Which time hath spared, to wake our wonder Thou hast been fair, and lovely to the last! E'en now in desolation as thou art, And as the shadow of what once thou wast, There is no land beneath the sun like thee, Oh thou delightful land of Italy! Thou art the halo of the earth !—the heart Finds very rapture in the thought of thee, Oh thou delightful land ! sweet sunny Italy! April, 182J.
64
TASSO IN such a cage, sweet bird, wast thou confined? Alas ! their iron hearts no feeling knew; Yet, while thy spirit in a prison pined, And while thy grief almost to madness grew, Thy minstrelsy was wafted on each wind, On every breeze thy fame triumphant flew, And spake, through every land, of thy immortal mind. Upon a cypress bough thy harp was hung, Silent, neglected, mournful, and unstrung! Such fate befitted not a harp of thine; Yet, while th' oppressor breathed, such was its doom; But now by bards who worship at thy shrine 'Tis crowned with flowers of everlasting bloom. 47
ADDRESS TO THE GREEKS I STRIKE, strike, as your fathers of old would have done; Unite, and the field with your liberty's won: O ! shrink not to meet the high Moslem's jurreed,* The flash of his sabre, the tramp of his steed. II Achaian ! rouse, rouse thee, the larum has peal'd; To arms ! or thy fate and thy country's are seal'd; One blow—'tis for all that is dear to thy heart— And wilt thou not strike it, but fettered depart? Ill O! say, shall the Moslem in victory's car, Pass proudly?—Ye mountains! your floodgates unbar— His rest be, old Ocean ! beneath thy wild wave, And gore from his heart shall empurple his grave. IV Bold Theban ! thy foeman his bosom has bared, To war thou art welcomed—nay more—thou art dared. Refuse not the summons—go forth to the strife, And shout in the battle,'
War !
War! to the knife!' V O Greece ! is the day of thy glory gone by?
When 'Freedom' the watchword was—'Death' the reply— * Javelin. 48
When said the high matron,'Yon field must be won; Return with thy shield, or upon it, my son!' VI Is Sparta forgot—are her children no more, Those hearts that were heroes in ages of yore— Or if they're remembered, is't but as a name? No ! No !—they are beacons to light you to fame. VII
What banner is waving so wide on your tower?
What gonfalon's streaming despite of your power? O shame ! 'tis the crescent that flashes so fair— Down, down with it, Grecians! and plant your own there— VIII Bring out from the Haram the Mussulman's slave, The bride that he bought with a heart she ne'er gave; She'll bless you for breaking the chain that enthrals Her life of lone sadness in pleasureless halls. IX The Osmanlie's daughter may shed o'er the bier Of him she call'd 'Father' a soft single tear! Yet joy shall soon flash from her dark gazelle eyes, Because with her sire her captivity dies. X But heed her not yet—be your daring deed done— The fight must be fought, and the field must be won; Till then your frown dark on her beauty shall be, Like the prow of the Corsair on Coron's bright sea. 4 49
XI Arise! quench your watchfires—no longer delay— Your swords should be naked—their sheaths cast away: The ground that ye tread, by your fathers was trod; Their blood shed for freedom has hallowed the sod. XII Beam, islands of Grsecia! Beam, Helle's blue tide,
With smiles that ye wore in the day of your pride; The souls that ye bear shall be glorious and free, As bright as your skies, and as pure as your sea! January, 1826. 50
ROMEO AND JULIET T thought upon their fate, and wept; and then Came to my mind the silent hour of night, The hour which lovers love, and long for, when Their young impassioned souls feel that delight
Which Love's first dream bestows.—How Juliet's ear Drank every soft word of her Cavalier! And how, when his departing hour drew nigh, She fondly called him back to her!—Oh! why Did she then call him back ?—It is the same
With all whom love may dwell with ; but the flame
Within their breasts was a consuming fire; 'Twas passion's essence; it was something higher Than aught that life presents ; it was above All that we see—'twas all we dream of love. April, i82y. 51
HOPE OME, Hope ! and cheat me once again, And though thou dost beguile the heart Thou sweetly dost beguile. Thy voice my soul doth love to hear, Although thou dost betray; Thy notes fall softly on mine ear, Like music far away! Then cheat me, cheat me, ne'er depart, I love thy witching smile; And though thou dost beguile the heart, Thou sweetly dost beguile. There may be much in life to fear; Th' ungenerous world may scorn— I'll heed it not, if thou art near, Sweet, brightest star of morn! On thee the wretched fix their eye, To them art thou most dear; 'Tis thou dost hush the widow's sigh, And dry the orphan's tear. And though thou oft hast cheated me, I love thy witching smile; Howe'er beguiling it may be, It sweetly doth beguile.
I love thy witching smile; 52
Sweet Hope ! my castles in the air Thou oft hast helped to raise; And while they rose most bright and fair, I've dreamed of better days— I've dreamed of better days ; but when My Joys were in their birth, The blast of ill wind blew, and then My castles fell to earth. It boots not—cheat me, ne'er depart, I love thy witching smile; And though thou dost beguile the heart, Thou sweetly dost beguile. Star of my life! without thy ray, The world would darksome be; And though thou oft lead'st me astray I'll still be led by thee. Star of my life! where'er I roam, Be thou but shining there; The waste shall be a welcome home, The wilderness be fair. Shine on, and cheat me—ne'er depart Thou ne'er can'st make me grieve; For though thou dost deceive the heart, Thou sweetly dost deceive. 53
Thou oft hast promised me new joys, But when the time drew near The visions faded from mine eyes,
Where started forth the tear: But when again thy form so bright I saw, and saw thee smile, My heart leapt up with fresh delight, And trusted thee the while. Then come, sweet Hope! and cheat my heart Until it beats no more; I never would have thee depart— Come, cheat me o'er and o'er! April, 1827.
YORICK'S SKULL IT is a most humiliating thought, That man, who deems himself the lord of all, (Alas ! why doth he thus himself miscal ?) Must one day turn to nought, or worse than nought; > Despite of all his glory, he must fall Like a frail leaf in autumn ; and his power
Weighs lighter than his breath in his last hour; And then earth's lord is fragile as a flower.— This is a lesson for thee, Pride!—thy book Should be the charnel; into it once look, And when thou'st read it, feed upon the thought, The most humiliating thought, that thine And thou shall be unto this favour one day brought— Behold ! this is the 'human face divine '! April, 1827. 55
MORNING AFTER A STORM I THE elements were all at peace, when I
Wandered abroad at morning's earliest hour, Not to inhale the fragrance of a flower, Or gaze upon a sun-illumined sky: To mark the havoc that the storm had made I wandered forth, and saw great Nature's power. The hamlet was in desolation laid By the strong spirits of the storm ; there lay Around me many a branch of giant trees, Scattered as leaves are by the southern breeze Upon a brook, on an autumnal day; Cloud piled on cloud was there, and they did seem Like the fantastic figures of a dream, Till morning brighter grew, and then they rolled away. II Oh I Nature, how I love thy face! and now That there was freshness on thy placid brow,
While I looked on thee with extreme delight, How leapt my young heart at the lovely sight! Heaven breathed upon me sweetly, and its breath
Was like the fragrance of a rosy wreath. The river was wreck-strewn; it's gentle breast
Was like the heart of innocence, at rest; I stood upon it's grass-grown bank, and smiled, 56
Cleaving the wave with pebbles like a child, And marking, as they rose those circles fair
Which grew, and grew, then vanished :—but Oh ! there I learned a moral lesson, which I'll store
Within my bosom's deepest, inmost core! April, 1827. 57
ALL IS LOST, SAVE HONOUR. IT was after this decisive blow that Francis I wrote the justly celebrated Spartan letter to his mother, containing the following words only—' Madam, all is lost, save Honour.' My path of life an adverse fiend, In evil hour, hath crost, My sceptre from my hand is riven, Save Honour, all is lost! My yeomen good all bathed in blood Lie on the battle-field, And many a gallant knight who bore High crest on blazoned shield. Against my warrior-band was laid Full many a lance in rest, But every foeman's lance was broke
Within a hero's breast. The spoiler now may seize my realm, The stranger fill my throne; But let them take the world from me, So Honour be my own. My heart will bleed to think, fair France! Of thee, and all thy woes; Thou ne'er may'st know for years, perchance, A moment of repose. 58
Perchance—but from yon star on high Proceeds a heavenly strain, It bids me hope for better days
When France shall smile again.
What though my sceptre's snatched away? My sword is in my hand;
What though my banner waves no more In my loved native land? My sceptre's snatched from me—but still There's life-blood in my veins; And though my kingdom fair is lost, My Honour still remains. Honour remains ! but all beside Is lost, is lost to me; And cold on Pavia's fatal plain Sleeps, France! thy chivalry. There let them rest; unconquered there They sleep the hero's sleep; Like men they fell in glory's cause, For them we should not weep.
We should not weep for them ; they rest Unconscious of our cares;
Who envies not their bed of death? For Honour still is their's! 59
And here I roam like ocean-weed Upon the billows tost—
Where are my warriors, where's my crown? Save Honour—all is lost! Save Honour, all is lost; but still
While Honour yet remains, It fires me with the hope to break The conquering tyrant's chains.
With one fond wish for fairest France My heart is swelling high, And oh ! for all her future ills One tear bedims mine eye. But, cheer thee up, my drooping heart, Though by misfortune crost; Hope still shall light thee on to fame, For Honour is not lost! April, 182J. 60
DUST OF soft cerulean colour was the sky, The sun had not yet risen o'er the scene, The wild lark sang his morning hymn on high, And heaven breathed sweetly o'er the foliage green: Julian and I walked forth, and soon we came Unto the tomb of a high son of fame; The marble told his deeds, his years, and name. Struck with his greatness, and the sounding praise That was bestowed upon him, I began Almost to envy him the race he ran: Man is a noble work, the wise man says, And so said I; but Julian stooped, and took Some dust up in his hand, and bade me look Upon it well, and then he cried, 'See, this is man!' April, 1827.
61
ADA Ahistory of passion ;—and like all That Love has part in, full of hope, and fear, And cold despair, and madness, which at last Destroy the heart and brain that once they seize. Lady ! my bark is floating by, And the moonbeam is soft as thine own blue eye; And the breeze that breathes is fresh and light O'er the waves that dance in the moonbeam bright! Lady ! Lady! there is not a sail On our sweet blue lake to court the gale; In vain the waves inviting curl, But come with me, and my sail I'll unfurl. Lady ! Lady! my harp I've brought To still the pangs of intrusive thought; My harp is strung, and I'll wake it for thee, Then come ! O come ! to my bark with me! She looked from out the lattice high— She heard him—but without reply— The moon shone on her forehead fair, The breeze flung back her golden hair; She sweetly smiled;—as if love's hours Gave nothing to the heart but flowers, And joy, and sunshine, and such things As live in bards' imaginings: 'Tis well it is so—who could bear 62
Love's sorrow, madness, and despair,
Were not some dear delusion given Before the heart is lost, and riven? And now she soon was by his side; Her young heart beat in Love's own pride To know herself beloved, and know Her lot was shared, through weal or woe! "Tis something when the soul's opprest To fly unto its place of rest, To know one heart it's griefs will share, And with it break, or with it bear! They lightly stepped into the bark,— 'Twas fragile—just like Love's own ark; The sail was set, the boat did glide Like a fairy gift on the trembling tide; The breeze was fair, and the shallop rode Like a spirit bound for a blest abode. Ada hath left her father's hall, Her mother, sister, kindred,—all The scenes of earliest infancy,
Where that hath been which ne'er may be In after years, perchance, again— Sweet pleasure, unalloyed with pain! Tis ever so ;—the heart forgets All,—but the one on whom it sets Its thoughts—and when that one is gone, Alas ! 'tis withered, lifeless, lone!
Moon on moon hath rolled away Like wave on wave in a summer's day. Joy on joy comes smilingly, And Ada is blest as woman may be; No thought of the past, no care for the morrow,
Without a tear, and without a sorrow, Her days glide on in the bright green isle That gems the lake, and doth sweetly smile
With flowers that there are blossoming, As if it were eternal spring! The palm trees tall have formed a grove, A fit retreat for youthful love! A hallowed spot for young delight, Like Love's first dream, all fair and bright,
Where every boon that might be given
Was here bestowed by favouring heaven, And where we might be blessed, and bless— As if 'twere made for happiness !— 'Twas beautiful!—The lake's blue wave That girt the island, and did lave It's banks, flowed making music o'er The pebbles that lay on the shore.— 'Twas sweet to list the lark's wild song, And watch the wave as it rolled along; 'Twas sweet to see the broad sun set,
When his beams and the waters kissed and met, But sweeter than all it was to see 64
Ada as blest as woman may be.
Why is life made of thorns and flowers, Of clouds and sunshine, light and showers? Might not our days serenely flow Like dreams of joy, unmixt with woe?
Why do our hopes all perish young, Like flowers before the wreath is strung ? — It boots not, chance and change must be,
With all the weight of misery. Moon on moon hath rolled away; The scene is changed ; a darker day Hath shrouded Ada's hours of bliss; This is Love's youthful dream ; and this Is what it must be.—Far, O ! far Her lover joins the ranks of war: Alas! that for the breath of fame, A bed of death, an empty name,
Without a thought, without a fear,
We part from all that is most dear. 'Tis strange—but this is life : the call Of trumpets makes a desert hall; The tear-drops in an orphan's eye, And many a widow's maddening sigh, May tell the history of the brave— A verse, a garland, and a grave! St. Monan's bells are ringing, No sun shines on its cross, 5 65
The vesper hymn is singing, And dew is on the moss; It is that hour when dusky night Comes gathering o'er departing light,
When hue by hue, and ray by ray, Thine eye may watch it waste away, Until thou canst no more behold The faded tints of pallid gold. And soft descend the shades of night, As die those hues so purely bright; And in the blue sky, star by star, Shines out, like happiness, afar A wilderness of worlds! To dwell In one, with those we have loved well
Were bliss indeed! The waters flow Gurgling, in darkest hue below, And 'gainst the shore the ripple breaks As from its cave the west wind wakes; But lo! where Dian's crest on high appears, Faint as the memory of departed years. Fancy in fiction bright may draw Such beauty as the world ne'er saw; Dark, raven tresses, and small feet
Whiter than purest winter sleet; The cheek where love hath made his rest, And fair as ocean-gem the breast; 66
Lips, like the coral tufts that curl Around rich Stumboul's purest pearl; And eyes, whose glance of witchery Sparkles like sunshine on the sea. But who could gaze on Ada's eye, Nor weep to think, its light must die? O! who could mark her fairy form, Nor feel his heart with rapture warm? As guileless as a mountain deer, As soft as infant cherub's tear, As lovely as those rosy dyes
Which tinge, at eve, the western skies, And lively as the lark that sings His carol sweet on morning's wings: Yet not her winning looks alone, Her sunny smile, or eye that shone, Struck the rapt gazer—but that nameless grace, That hallowed spell, that beam which lit her face, And played around her'brightly:—she moved here Like a high being of a higher sphere! But ah ! her heart no longer's light, And in her eye the tear is bright, Like dew on violets by night. Now, o'er the lake, when day-light dies, She casts her anxious, tear-dimm'd eyes: Perchance she might descry afar 67
Her hero speeding, like a star That never in its course can err, A star of love and life to her! And there her watch of woe she keeps, And there she hopes, and fears, and weeps. And calls on his beloved name. Then thinking on her sin and shame, Her crushed heart sinks as in despair
With that one pang it cannot bear. Aye—this is woman's madness—deem Her passion not an idle dream: Aye—this is love—a thing of fears, And doubts, and hopes, and sighs, and tears, A feverish feeling of the heart, A pain with which we're loath to part, A shadow in life's fleeting dream, A darksome cloud, a morning beam! Each sound that's wafted on the breeze, Each gentlest rustling of the trees, And every tone that meets her ear
Wakes her fond heart to hopes most dear. And then she chides his long delay— How can he wander far away From her he doated on ?—each day Seems as an age of loneliness, Bringing sad, soothless, dire distress :— For hearts that hope, Time tardily moves on; For hearts that love, he is too swiftly gone! 68
At length, the fatal tidings came, Such as the tongue might fear to name, Such as the ear might shrink to hear, Tidings that wake the hopeless tear, The burning tear, that ne'er to grief Can give a sad, a last relief, That like the heart's blood darkly flows, And but declares the mourner's woes. Her hero on the battle plain Sleeps, ne'er to wake, alas ! again; His last thoughts were to Ada given, For her his last prayer rose to heaven, And on his tongue was Ada's name, As fled his soul to where Mark this bleak world, and ye shall find 'Tis cold, relentless, and unkind; The sufferer rarely meets relief, But, like the yellow autumn leaf, Is driven by every fatal gale
Where sorrows wound, and woes assail, And erring woman's heart, though riven, Hath never found it's sin forgiven! Lone Ada weeps; but every tear May never soothe her breast, but sear. The rose from her pale cheek hath fled, Her every hope lies cold and dead, Her every joy hath past away,
As sunbeams on tempestuous day. Her father's hall—the sense of shame, Sad anguish, and her sullied name,
With all the pangs of guilty woe,
Which none but who have felt may know, Forbid that she should e'er profane,
With sinful step that hall again. Yet, oft, to soothe her maddened mind She deemed her father might be kind, But then in all its horrors came The appalling sense of guilty shame: How could she look upon his face, How might she fly to his embrace? In that bright isle she lonely lives, If mere existence may be life; Her withered heart no joy receives, But in its stead, th' eternal strife Of feelings crushed, and guilt, and woe And madness are her lot below! And from herself she fain would fly
With so much woe 'twere bliss to die: And soon that awful day of doom, Shall, like relieving angel, come! March, 1827. 70
PHYLE And Freedom's fame finds wings in every wind.—Byron THERE is a sacred halo round thy brow; Tis sanctified by ages and by fame, For here the glory of the Grecian name Received another dazzling ray—and thou, Immortal Phyle, smiling in the light That heaven shed o'er thee, didst behold the deed, The generous patriot rushing to the fight, The tyrants conquered, and the people freed:— Aye—they were armed with majesty and might; But hearts that beat for freedom smile to bleed. Oh! how they rushed to battle !—There was fire In every bosom there ; the holy star That lighted them was hope; and their desire
Was crowned, when Thrasybulus cried, 'On, on, \ war!' 71
SONG OF THE HINDUSTANEE MINSTREL I WITH surmah* tinge thy black eye's fringe, 'Twill sparkle like a star;
With roses dress each raven tress, My only loved Dildar! II Dildar ! there's many a valued pearl In richest Oman's sea; But none, my fair Cashmerian girl! O ! none can rival thee. Ill In Busrah there is many a rose
Which many a maid may seek, But who shall find a flower which blows Like that upon thy cheek? IV In verdant realms, 'neath sunny skies,
With witching minstrelsy,
We'll favor find in all young eyes, And all shall welcome thee. * The custom of blackening the eyelashes in Oriental nations s now well-known. In Hindoostan, Kajal, or lampblack, is generally used. Surmah is crude antimony, and more in vogue among the Georgians and Circassians, as well as among the natives of Lahore, Cabul, and Cashmere. 72
V Around us now there's but the night, The heaven alone above; v But soon we'll dwell in cities bright, Then cheer thee, cheer thee, love! VI The heart eternally is blest
Where hope eternal springs; Then hush thy sorrows all to rest,
We'll tread the courts of kings. VII In palace halls our strains we'll raise, There all our songs shall flow; Come cheer thee, sweet! for better days Shall dawn upon our woe. VIII Nay weep not, love ! thou shouldst not weep, The world is all our home; Life's watch together we shall keep,
We'll love where'er we roam. IX Like birds from land to land we'll range, And with our sweet sitar,* Our hearts the same, though worlds may change,
We'll live, and love, Dildar! May, 182J. A stringed musical instrument. 73
STANZAS 0| shall I forget ?—May Memory depart • Ere that meeting of rapture be lost from my heart! There was joy on thy lip, there were smiles in thine eye, And thy tongue spake a language that never can die. Shall I forget it ?—Never! Oh never! O ! shall I forget it ?—The tears that you shed,
Were bright as the dew-drops on lotus flowers red, Like a beam of the sun on the dark rolling sea
Was the glance of thine eye, at that meeting, to me! Shall I forget it ?—Never! Oh never! Yes ! feelings that hallow, and fond ties that bind
Will keep the remembrance of thee in my mind. And Time shall essay to destroy it in vain :— It may droop, but my tears shall refresh it again. Can I forget thee ?—Never ! Oh never! December, 1826. 74
HOPELESS GRIEF 0| I would weep a sea of tears, Could weeping drown my woe, Or smile with hope that future years Might all untroubled flow. The memory of the pleasant past Might now some comfort bring, But that's a thought too bright to last, It flies on fleetest wing.
With hope of change my bosom glad Might be, but hope is o'er; The present is an earnest sad Of sorrow yet in store. March, 1826. 75
SAPPHO And love too much, and yet cannot love less. Don Juan, Canto 4. TTER love was like the raging of a storm, Sweeping all things before it; and her song
Was like her soul of passion, wild and warm; She could not brook a slight, or suffer wrong; And when her heart the treacherous wound received From him who should have sheltered her from harm, And soothed her every sorrow when she grieved, O ! how the gushing blood did inly flow! O ! how she wept his falsehood, and her woe! Hers was melodious mourning; like the dew Her bright tears fell, for madness made her weep; Too soon her gold-winged pleasures flew, Too soon she sank into a slumber deep,— Lo ! high Leucadia now can tell where she doth sleep. May, 1827. 76
LINES TO AN INFANT AWELCOME to thee, lovely child! A hearty welcome here to thee! Be sorrow from thy breast exiled, And all thy days from danger free: May heaven its choicest blessings shower Upon that little head of thine; O'er thee may never tempests lower, But summer suns eternal shine. For thee may life its sweets disclose, Bright be its evening as its morn; Be every flower thou meet'st, a rose, And every rose without a thorn. Yes ! every good betide thee, sweet! Beyond the mind's imaginings: Smile on ;—with joy those smiles I greet, For oh ! they speak a thousand things. They speak of happy days to come, And hopes that time shall ne'er destroy,
When thou shalt make a heaven of home, And light thy parents' hearts with joy.
Welcome those smiles so bright and wild, Prophetic of the bliss to be, And welcome to thee, lovely child! A hearty welcome here to thee. May, 1827.
NIGHT FOR loneliness and thought this is the hour :— Now that thou srail'st so beautiful and bright, Oh ! how I feel thy soul-subduing power, And gaze upon thy loveliness, sweet Night! There sails the moon, like a small silver bark Floating upon the ocean vast and dark: Lovers should only look upon her light, And only by her light should lovers meet; They catch an inspiration from the sight, And all their words flow musically sweet, Like the soft fall of waters far away; Their hearts run o'er with gladness, till they seem As if they were not beings of the day, But beautiful creations of a dream! II Night, Night, O Night! thou hast a gentle face, Like a fond mother's smiling o'er her child! I gaze on thee till my soul swells apace
With thoughts, and aspirations, high and wild. 'Tis ever so ; and there be some, who find That when the eye is fixed on boundless space Spurning the earth, vast grows the giant mind, And seeks in some bright orb a dwelling-place.
And it may be, that in my breast the fires Of hope, and fancy both are burning bright; And all my aspirations, and desires May pass away, e'en with thy shadows, Night! But could my spirit fly from earth afar, 'Twould dwell with one I love in yonder lovely star. Ill Oh ! how fond memory in the calm of night Brings to the mind young love, though love hath past,
With all th' endearing things which gave delight, And which we once believed could always last! Oft at this hour, in happier days 1 deem,
When, Time ! thy foot fell softly upon flowers, And lighted by Diana's purest beam, Have youthful hearts enjoyed the passing hours; And as the lover named the loved-one's name, Pale grew her cheek, while glowed the fire within, Like pure asbestos whitened by the flame; Then did the madness of his heart begin; And then he gazed upon her forehead fair, Then looked into her eyes, to see if love was there. IV Swift as the dark eye's glance, or falcon's flight, Thought comes on thought, awakened by the night— And there are some which point towards the past, 79
And fondly linger o'er life's twilight sky, Hailing the sacred star of memory; And thou, though lonely, thou, my poor heart, hast Much to muse over of past happiness, And though 'tis gone for ever, not the less Is its remembrance dear:—but lo ! a cloud Hath wrapt the moon, like beauty in a shroud! Hush ! there is silence—but methinks mine ear A distant, sweet, seraphic hymn doth hear— The stars alone are watching from above, Hush ! 'tis the night wind's voice—ah! soft as hers I love. V This to the soul of feeling sadness brings, And painful thoughts of those who once were dear, But who, now far from bleak misfortune's sphere, Fly on from world to world with golden wings; This wakes in many an eye a hopeless tear; 'Tis vainly shed, for still the fond heart clings (Though sorrow all its best enjoyments sear) Unto the memory of vanished things!— The moon is gone ; and thus go those we love; The night winds wail; and thus for them we mourn The stars look down; thus spirits from above Hallow the mourner's tears upon the urn. Some thoughts are all of joy, and some of woe; Mine end in tears—they're welcome—let them flow. 80
VI Ye tears that flow, ye sighs that break the heart, Ah ! wherefore do ye not relieve the wound, The deadly wound which Griefs envenomed dart Gives to the breast whose blood must stream un- bound? Ah ! no, it must not be !—tears wildly start, And sighs are heaved, and blood sinks in the ground; But these bring no relief :—we look around, But vainly look for those who formed a part Of us, as we of them, and whom we wore Like gems in bezils, in the heart's deep core.
Where are they now ?—gone to that' narrow cell'
Whose gloom no lamp hath broken, nor shall break,
Whose secrets never spirit came to tell:— O! that their day might dawn, for then they would awake. May, 1827. 6 81
THE POET'S HABITATION A FRAGMENT. TT should be an iEgean isle, -*■
Where heaven, and earth, and ocean smile, More like an island of the blest Than aught that e'er this world possessed; The pebbles on the sea-girt shore, Like Paphian gems, should sparkle o'er; And when waves kissed them, there should be Sounds passing mortal minstrelsy, As if an elfin spell had bound The waters to produce such sound: And then, upon the dark-blue tide A little boat should softly glide, That bark of one fair shell should be, Like purest pearl on sapphire sea; And never should its slender sail Be stretched, but by a scented gale That brought its odours from the shore, So sweet, that none could wish for more! And there, the purple vine should bloom; And there, the bee should blithely hum, As on from flower to flower she flew, To sip the sweets, and drink the dew; And from an olive-wood, the dove Should coo her tale of love, sweet love! And on th' eternal ocean's breast 82
The swan should rear her snow-white crest, And sail upon the lucid tide,
With gallant mien, and gait of pride! And on this island I should live
Without the joys that man can give; None should be near me there, and none Should share my happiness—but one— One tender soul, more soft and fair Than all the gathered sweetness there! And I would build me a green grove, To music sacred, and to love! In that delicious, dewy bower
We'd while together many an hour, Till Cynthia slumbered on the hill, And every warbler's note was still, Save the lone nightingale's, and save The music of the moonlit wave! At that soft hour, in that blest place, I'd look upon the lovely face Beside me—'till I locked her charms Securely in my folded arms, And while her head lay on my breast, The winds would sing her into rest. Her couch should be with roses spread, Fresh culled from their dew-spangled bed, So sweet, so lovely, and so fair, 'Twere almost sin to strew them there. 83
The morn should break as bright and clear, As when the sun did first appear; The lark, full swiftly soaring high, Should sing his matins in the sky; The leveret, waking with the dawn, Should brush the dew-drop from the lawn j No hunter's horn should echo there, To rouse the red stag from his lair, But at the sound of my love's lute He'd come, with nimbly-bounding foot, For the gay garland that she wove The last glad evening, in the grove. ***** On such a spot I'd make my home, Nor wish away from thence to roam;
With such a spirit for life's light My life indeed would then be bright! But this is pleasure's summit, this Is, ah ! too like unearthly bliss— 'Tis all a poet's dream * * * * * June, 1826. 84
THE NEGLECTED MINSTREL LIKE the harmonious nightingale he lived, A lone inhabitant of sylvan scenes; And to the passing gale his minstrelsy
With breaking heart he gave; for save the gale None visited him there—he had no friend! Dost thou remember, Love ! that Banyan tree
Which, like a temple, by the river stands? Thou canst not have forgot it; for 'twas there Our early vows were interchanged ; and we Have often sat beneath its fragrant shade As the hot sun at evening hour came down To cool his burning brow in the gilt wave, And hear the breeze's vesper orisons :— O! we have listened with enraptured ears To those wild birds which on the branches sang Perhaps unto each other lays of love, And then how often have we wished that we
Were birds to be so blest. Sweet flowers grew there Even in the shadow of that regal tree; And they were sheltered from the summer's fire; But when the storm with all his ministers Came wrathful down to chasten this bad world, They drooped and died, too like our tender hopes, That ne'er survive the tempest of misfortune. But that is not my tale.—In that thick grove A tomb, white as an infant's innocence, 85
Has often caught mine eye. It gleameth there 'Mid all the winning loveliness around, As if to mind us that the beauteous place,
Which seems a relic of lost Paradise Is but a part of this decaying earth.— I'll tell thee all the melancholy tale Of him who sleeps, the tenant of that tomb; And thou shalt learn what is the common fate Of all those mighty spirits in whose breasts The fire of genius blazed unquenchable, But failing to attract the world's regard, Consumed the altar where itself was lit, And then the temple which it erst made bright. His heart was like a soft ^Eolian harp
Whose sweetest chords are waked by gentlest winds. Let no rude hand upon the minstrel's heart Attempt to play ; its strings are delicate, And frail, and they will break when harshly swept. O ! woman when she loves, and truly loves Can bring its music forth—all its sweet notes Of hope and fear, love's many griefs and joys,— And find their echoes in her own fond breast. His days were in their spring ; that joyous time
When the young heart will open like a rose, And drink heaven's dew, and scatter sweetness round, Too prodigal of all its odorous store. 86
He gazed upon this lovely earth, and all The beauties on its bosom with a thrill Of wild delight, and as the eye reflects Those various objects upon which 'tis fixed, The images of things he looked upon Moved from his eye into his gifted mind; And that they might not perish there, some power Linked them with memory and blissful thoughts.
What was the sun to him but as a god?
Who, when he sat enthroned in the rich east, Heard the young minstrel's hymn rise from his heart Like incense from a censer! The sweet flowers Blooming like emblems of his lonely self In that most still and unfrequented grove He made his hours' companions; and there grew A sympathetic feeling in his breast For those frail things. The melancholy moon Flung on his mind sad thoughts of hopeless love, And beauty in her trusting hour betrayed,
Walking the world unpitied and forlorn,
With shame and sorrow on her cold white cheek, Looked on by every eye. And in the stars He read what fame might be, a minstrel's fame, Eternal as those lights which ne'er burn out. And when he heard, upon a moonlit night, The voice of the blue river as it passed, 87
He peopled with creations of his brain The soft melodious wave, and fondly deemed It was a spirit speaking to his soul, Even from beneath the water. But the breeze, The evening breeze which from its cavern crept Like music from a shell, woke blissful thoughts Like fragrance out of flowers in his fond breast, And delicate as those which float in dreams— The essence of delicious Poesy! The gifts which nature to our world hath given, Scenes for the eye, and sounds unto the ear, All had their influence upon his soul, And fitted it for minstrelsy divine. He loved :—O ! love and song are twins, and they Have aye been linked together from their birth: Thus, it was fit the blossoms of his heart Should at some shrine be scattered. Then he tore All thoughts, all fancies from his breast, until It was a fairy palace worthy her
Who there reigned queen alone. And they were blest So blest that oft imagination deemed They had a foretaste of that promised bliss,
Which is to be in worlds beyond our own. He wore her in his heart, as I do thee, And, Oh ! she was so lovely that she seemed To be a fine embodied thought, like one 88
Of those which poets form of angel woman. Alas ! what is there in mortality That fate should come 'tween happiness and us, And dash the cup that's held unto our lips Even as we kiss its brim? But this is doomed! The roses of our life must have their thorns, And storm and sunshine burst on us alike! Hast thou observed an August sunset sky,
With all its colours, purple, gold, and red? How beautifully dies the day! Each hue Fades faintly out of sight, and every change Makes heaven look lovely, though it brings Dun night upon the world apace ! and thus Sweetly died she who was unto his heart Like the red vital current there.—O Memory! Canst thou not also die when all we love Sinks like the lost star from our sight ? Ah no! Thou dost burn on like a pale charnel light Above the grave of hopes, and smiles, and joys
Which made life's wake delightful. Now, in that peopled solitude, the world, He sought companionship to wean his mind From melancholy thoughts on which it fed. He was a stranger, poor, and friendless there, A being of another sphere, who seemed As if while searching for a happy home To have mistaken his bright path ; and none 89
Had so much charity as bid him turn And dwell there for a while.—Alas ! that gold, Dross, worthless as it is, should be the charm, The magic lamp commanding all things here. But 'tis a cold unfeeling world, and flings Its baneful shadow on the wretched head
Which has not wealth to light the gloom around. At length he found protection, and a man
Who called himself the minstrel's friend, and gave This youthful candidate for fame new hope To live upon. The end of his sad history Is almost come. Hope, like a faithless friend, Betrayed the heart which on its promise leaned, And like the false mirage on Arab sands Left him more wretched when the truth was known. Then the world's scorn, the thought of buried love, The recollection of past happiness, And, oh humanity! his proud protector
Who soon forsook him, drove him to his fate. He sought his banyan grove and flowers again; But like a stricken deer whose many wounds And blood, unstanched, foretell his coming end, At last the hapless minstrel brought his heart, On which the bloodhounds of the world had rushed, To break in that sweet spot. There is his tomb Raised by some pitying hand ; his history 90
I have unfolded to thine ear. One night As by his tomb I stood,—that place, his name, And the soft hour which wakes reflections soft So wrought upon my spirit, that its thoughts Arrayed themselves in verse thus were they linked. The sod is cold where thou art sleeping Too dark a sleep to wake again; But heaven its tears o'er thee is weeping, And all the world's proud scorn is vain. Their fragrance flowers around are flinging To consecrate this beauteous spot, And winds a requiem wild are singing
Which man, inhuman man, forgot. Sure thou art weeping, Love! nay do not fear A sad resemblance in his fate and mine ;— My hopes perchance are fragile flowers, but then Remember on what soil they grow, and more— The friendly hand that rears them into strength. Nay—nay—I shall be blest! A few brief months Have fled so happily, their plumage bright Must have been dipped in Fancy's golden hues, Since I this wreath of song entwined. But then,
With ardent step Hope's ladder was I climbing, And fondly deemed it would have led to heaven, That heaven which in my youthful dreams I saw, 91
Made of eternal brightness.—Now no more Those golden visions on my spirit beam, Like morning sunlight on a sapphire lake, For sad reality has broke their spell.—O Truth! Thou whom my soul hath sought like a rich jewel, For which th' adventurer will risk his all— How hast thou taught me that my aspirations
Wore not a tint of earth !—th' Ithuriel spear
Wherewith thou'rt armed, has touched them, and they've fled Far to the darksome caverns of the past; And heaven-sent fancies needlessly descend Upon my blighted heart—they fall like dew Softly, but vainly on a withered flower! My mind that wandered once like summer bird From twisted brake and bush on wildest wing, Swift as its own desires, must fall at last Even from those sweet ideal worlds it made: And, like my native earth, which once a star Blazed through the pathless ether, must I roam, Darkness without, within consuming flame. 92
THE GOLDEN VASE SEE, how she hangs upon that golden vase! As if each flower it holds were a sweet thought, Or the remembrance of a joy long past, On which the heart will lean as for support, That it fall not, and break. Her hair is dressed
With flowers, which speak of all that's in her mind. One rose she wears upon her temple, 'tis To show she hath one love; the stalk is hid By a dark glossy ringlet, this doth say None shall discover where that passion sprang. Twined with her braided tresses you may see The pale Cameeni, which though fair at night Sweetens the earth, its bed of death, by morn. Is not this meant to say her hopes have been Like that ill-fated flower? their chain of life Too short, and the first link too near the last? There is a mournful stillness in her eye,
Which tells, with too much eloquence, alas!
What grief is preying on her heart:—it brings A thought of the lone moon when nothing breaks The silence of her reign, and to the poe t's eye She melancholy seems, though beautiful! There are no smiles upon that lady's lip Sparkling like sunbeams on a ruby rare; And he who gazes on her cheek, may deem That its rich hue is lent unto the rose 93
Which blushes on her silver brow. Her arm So white, so delicate, so gently twined Around the golden neck of that bright vase Looks as 'twere made of moonlight. Has that arm Not oft encircled what it loved to clasp? O gaze upon it longer still ! it seems As if it would invite young love to rest His head even there, and slumber if he can. That vase, whose happiness might make us bum, Is fond affection's token; 'tis the gift Of one to whom her heart is given in change. And he hath left the bower, and beauty's side, Her smiles, and tears, her soft persuasive voice, That heavenly melody of which his heart Dreamed in the spring-time of his youth. These he hath left for war's blood-reddened field, For horrid sights, and scenes of waste and woe; The hamlet desolate, the wall o'erthrown, The city sacked, the hostile town besieged; The hoarse breath of the trumpet; the war cry Of armies rushing to the charge ; the neigh Of steeds caparisoned with gold and purple; The moan of soldiers dying gasp by gasp; The howl of midnight hungry wolves, which feast Upon th' uncharnel'd dead ; and the shrill scream Of ravenous vultures warring o'er their prey. 94
How do men leave beloved hearts, to pine In wretchedness unutterably sad,
With no companions in their solitude, But thoughts as dark and dismal as despair? Oh ! when our country writhes in galling chains,
When her proud masters scourge her as a dog; If her wild cry be borne upon the gale, Our bosoms at the melancholy sound Should swell, and we should rush to her relief, Like sons, at an unhappy parent's wail! And when we know the flash of patriot swords Is unto spirits longing to be free, Like Hope's returning light; we should not pause Till every tyrant who on us hath trod Lies humbled at our feet, or till we find Graves, which may truly say thus much for us— Here sleep the brave who loved their country well! The Moslem is come down to spoil the land
Which every god hath blest. For such a soil, So rich, so clad with beauty, who would not Unlock his veins, and pour their treasure forth? The Hindoo hath marched forward to repel The lawless plunderer of his holy shrines, The savage, rude disturber of his peace; And with that lady of his heart remains The vase o'er which she hangs. How long we gaze Upon the sacred pledge of youthful love, 95
Hoping its joys may be our own again! Alas, such hopes too oft are only dreams !— See—a young minstrel stands before her there. But she regards him not:—'tis said that griei Hath been by music charmed away, and sooth It is a potent spell. Her hand she waves As if to try the power of magic sounds In breaking sorrow's chain ; and hark ! he flings Delicious strains upon her listening ear. Those flowers are blest, are doubly blest
When two such eyes as thine, Of all created stars the best, On them so brightly shine:
Were I a flower for such sweet rest
What rapture would be mine! I would be blest, be doubly blest By those bright eyes of thine. That golden vase has golden lot,
When such an arm as thine,
Whose peer the goodly world has not Doth round it gently twine.
Were I that vase—forgive the thought! My bliss would be divine; And I would bless my golden lot For that soft arm of thine. 96
Scarce had he ceased, when with enquiring eye She scanned his face ; and sure his voice to her Is as familiar as the cuckoo's note Unto the ear of spring ; she saw his breast Rising with wild emotion; her heart's beat Now became loud and quick, as if it sought To know his feelings and would fain have rushed Forth from imprisonment to clear its doubts. Her radiant eye upon his finger glanced, And the gem there waxed starry in its ray. She knew the ring, 'twas once her own ; her tears Came gathering fast for joy. Tis he! 'tis he! Her lip is pressed to his for whom she lives, Her arm entwines not now the vase's neck, But taken from the gift, it fondly clings Like a sweet tendril to the giver. 7 97
THE ECLIPSE
When an eclipse is predicted, the Hindoos, men, women, and children, betake themselves to the riverside, and stand in expectation of the event, ready to plunge into the water with prayers to "all the Gods at once", that the moon may not be swallowed up by a monster, who they suppose comes for that purpose. This is the belief of the multitude ; but the Brahmins know full well how eclipses are caused, and they can calculate them with the precision of the best European astronomers. X> Y all the mighty powers above, O ! leave me not to-night, my love! Let others in the sacred wave Their sinful bodies seek to lave; But leave me not; for sure thou art Of spotless hand, and guileless heart— There cannot be, my girl divine, A sin upon that soul of thine. Let others pray that night's bright gem May not be lost to heaven, and them; But what's the sickly moon to thee, And all her cold inconstancy? Let other maids whose nightly dreams Of love are brought by Chandra's* beams, Implore the powers of Heaven to spare That Chandra to their pious prayer. * The moon. 98
But thou, whose dreams are ever bright, Awake, asleep, by day, by night, 0 ! why shouldst thou, ray gentle girl, My lotus flower ! my precious pearl! To-night implore the gods above ?— 1 pray thee, leave me not, my love! Ah ! go not forth; for shouldst thou go Afresh will bleed my wounds of woe. Encircled by the wave thou'lt be
While Chandra wakens fears in thee; But, ah ! mine eye will swim in tears, And thou, oh ! thou wilt wake my fears. My life, my love, my spirit's light, I pray thee, leave me not to-night;— For when thy angel form is gone, And my poor heart is left alone, Although the moon be riding high, Although the stars illume the sky, Dark to my soul the world will be, And heaven, and earth eclipsed to me! Nay, go not forth—for shouldst thou go Her face the moon will shrink to show; Her meaner light will never dare To send one ray while thou art there, And every envious star will fall As thy bright eyes outshine them all:— And when the monster armed with power 99
0
Shall come alas I in luckless hour His prize, his valued prize to gain, He'll seek his Chandra there in vain.— Thy angel face, my love! he'll see, (For there who will not gaze on thee ?) And deeming thee a moon more bright Than that which reigns supreme by night, Thee, thee he'll seize; and dark to me Thenceforth this dreary world will be! Nor can I hope that prayers may fly Up to the holy throne on high; For though creation prostrate prayed It would not save my beauteous maid: And when from me thou shalt be riven They'll make thee queen of earth and heaven, For ne'er may all in heaven and earth To aught like thee again give birth. Then if to thee my peace is dear . For once my supplication hear; I pray thee, by the gods above, O 1 leave me not to-night, my Love! 100
POETIC HAUNTS HERE the billow's bosom swells, ▼ ▼
Where the ocean casts its shells,
Where the wave its white spray flings;
Where the sea-mew flaps its wings;
Where the grey rock in the storm Rears its proud gigantic form, Laughing as the lightnings flash, Heedless of the billowy dash, Heedless though the clouds may pour, Heedless though the thunders roar;
Where the wind-god rideth by Swiftly through the blackening sky,
Where the spirit of the sea
Wakes its matchless melody,
While the Naiads gather round Gladdened by the magic sound;— Far from human hut or home Let the gifted Poet roam. Or, upon some star-paved lake
When the south breeze is awake, Let him launch his little bark,— Love's and Fancy's favoured ark!
When the mellow moonlight falls On the distant castle walls;
When the white sail is unfurled, And the graceful wave is curled;
101
When the winds in concert sing To the planets listening, And the lady-moon rejoices, Hearing their melodious voices,
While she bids her softest beam Bear an errand to the stream,
Which upon its lucid breast
Wears an island, all at rest, Like a gem it flasheth there Beziled by the waters fair; Such a spot as fairies love
When abroad they nightly rove;
Where the red deer roams unharmed, And the wild dove unalarmed, And the minstrel nightingale Tells, in plaintive strain, his tale,
Which the young rose blushing hears Like a maid who loves but fears ;— Such a sweet, enchanting spot
Where our griefs might be forgot,
Where, in youth, one fain would dwell
With the lady he loved well— —Hither let the Poet be Dreaming dreams of ecstasy. Or, on some bright summer even
With his eye upraised to heaven, Ere the ruby sun hath set, 102
Ere the waning day hath met On the western mountain's height, Clad in widows weeds, the night; Let him muse on all around, On each soothing sight and sound! Let him mark the sun-gilt cliff, And the fisher's infant skiff; Let him watch the wild waves' play, How they glide, like bliss away; How they meet, and how they sever— Lovers parted, and for ever! And when every wind's asleep, And the spirit of the deep Maketh music on the main,
When her soft melodious strain Charmeth Ocean's heaving breast, How the sun's last rays expire, How the weary waves retire In each other's arms to rest! Then upon the golden sky Let him cast his gifted eye— Such a dazzling, glorious sight, Such a scene, so pure, so bright! As if angels in their flight
With their plumage dipt in light, Flung the radiance of their wings (As the priest sweet incense flings) 103
On the western gate of heaven—
What a brilliant boon to even! Hither let the minstrel be
Weaving wreaths of Poesy, Lays of melody, and fraught
With th' immortal fire of thought, Such as steal upon the soul Like sweet spells beyond control, Clinging, whatsoe'er may be, Ever to the memory, Like the first wild dream of Love! 104
A WALK BY MOONLIGHT AST night—it was a lovely night, Shall it not be for Memory A happy spot to rest? Yes; there are in the backward past Soft hours to which we turn— Hours which, at distance, mildly shine, Shine on, but never burn. And some of these but yesternight Across my path were thrown,
Which made my heart so very light, I think it could have flown. I had been out to see a friend
With whom I others saw: Like minds to like minds ever tend— An universal law. And when we were returning home, "Come who will walk with me, A little way," I said, and lo! I straight was joined by three: Three whom I loved—two had high thoughts And were, in age, my peers; And one was young, but oh ! endeared As much as youth endears.
And I was very blest— 105
The moon stood silent in the sky, And looked upon our earth; The clouds divided, passing by, In homage to her worth. There was a dance among the leaves Rejoicing at her power,
Who robes for them of silver weaves
Within one mystic hour. There was a song among the winds, Hymning her influence— That low-breathed ministrelsy which binds The soul to thought intense. And there was something in the night That with its magic wound us; For we—oh ! we not only saw, But felt the moonlight round us. How vague are all the mysteries
Which bind us to our earth; How far they send into the heart Their tones of holy mirth; How lovely are the phantoms dim
Which bless that better sight, That man enjoys when proud he stands In his own spirit's light;
When, like a thing that is not ours, This earthliness goes by, 106
And we behold the spiritualness Of all that cannot die. Tis then we understand the voice
Which in the night-wind sings, And feel the mystic melody Played on the forest's strings. The silken language of the stars Becomes the tongue we speak, And then we read the sympathy That pales the young moon's cheek. The inward eye is open then To glories, which in dreams Visit the sleeper's couch, in robes
Woven of the rainbow's beams. I bless my nature that I am Allied to all the bliss,
Which other worlds we're told afford, But which I find in this. My heart is bettered when I feel That even this human heart To all around is gently bound, And forms of all a part; That, cold and lifeless as they seem, The flowers, the stars, the sky 107
Have more than common minds may deem To stir our sympathy. Oh ! in such moments can I crush The grass beneath my feet? Ah no ; the grass has then a voice, Its heart—I hear it beat. June i8jo. 108
TO NIGHT Oj let the breeze be soft, and bid it bring Delightful visions on its noiseless wing; That when half sunk in dark forgetfulness, My mind may catch some moments sorrowless, And find that bliss in sleep, which waking life Denies the spirit in this world of strife. Send a fair seraph to my pillow, Night!
Wrapt in a mantle of transparent light, And thy command unto that spirit be To weave a dream of happiness for me; Or disentangle from the coils of thought Those blest realities, which once were wrought By some unearthly, but sweet pitying power, And placed before me in no dreaming hour. They've fled for ever; but fond Memory Keeps of the past a potent, mystic key, And opes its portal, and holds up a lamp To light its chambers dismal, drear, and damp. Ah ! in those caverns of Cimmerian gloom
Whose darkness dims the midnight of the tomb, How many shapes of loveliness there be,
Which made us once forget that misery Had in this earth existence, save in sound— But being gone, we to our grief have found That there is nothing in the garish day Save woe eternal, which the sun's bright ray 109
Brings to our aching hearts and throbbing sight, But we again forget them when 'tis night. 0 ! bid an angel minstrel on a beam Of bright Arcturus glide, and pour his stream Of heavenly melody to soothe my rest, And lull th' undying worm within my breast. Or let a magic dream at thy command Bear me upon its wing to Fairyland, That with Titania in a flowret's bell Like its own balmy odour I may dwell, And wake its scent, and bid it wander far
With a sweet message to some island star,
Which floats upon that azure pathless sea,
Wafted by angels' sighs of ecstasy! Or, if perchance so favoured by the dream 1 would (if to my mind it well might seem) Ride with King Oberon upon a ray,
Which in its earthward flight had lost its way. Or on a waving bridge of gossamer
Which, with their dying sighs, the breezes stir, I'd walk from leaf to leaf, or seek the bower
Where youthful lovers while the midnight hour, And I would steal with swift, but noiseless feet Upon the boughs o'er-head, to hear the beat Of their impassioned hearts between each close Of their enraptured speech—and when Repose Had locked them in its arms, I'd sit and sing The sweetest strain that ever fay might bring 110
From elfin bower, or cave, or ocean-shell, Or wheresoe'er soft Music loves to dwell! Or I might scare the cricket that would shake The diamond dew which falls on bush and brake— A heavenly boon upon a darksome spot, Like joy unto a heart that feels it not !— Let morning find me thus ; and when the sun Springs gaily forth with plumes of light to run Like a young ardent spirit, a bright race, And earth the mask of darkness from her face Flings off—then must I wake to grief and pain, And suffer ills—until thou com'st again. Ill
LINES ON THE UNFORTUNATE DEATH OF HENRY NEELE, ESQ. Quenched into nothing—so divine It blazes on eternally, And lives along the poet's line. That light is in thy breathing lay, As goodness pure, as glory bright, And like a beacon far away It cheers the lone heart's murky night. There is a crown, the richest far— O ! pluck those sparkling wonders down, Set in a circle many a star, And that shall be the poet's crown. That starry crown is on thy bust Decreed by doom itself to thee; It will not fall, like man to dust, But like the sun glow deathlessly. Soul of the minstrel!—gifted child! Unfettered now, and unconfined, That deed was wild, was passing wild— The madness of a minstrel's mind,
Why was that longing to be free, To break the link of being's chain,
HERE is a light that cannot be 112
To make thee wings, and dovelike flee To the pure spirit's pure domain?
Was it that earth has fewer flowers Than blush in groves of other spheres; Or didst thou dream of rosier hours In worlds beyond this world of tears?
Was it that hope's soft rainbow hues Like fleeting vapours melt away; Or didst thou think joy's evening dews Should on the heart perpetual stay?
Was it that earth's idolatry Is not enough for minstrel high, That pride forbears to bend the knee
When godlike genius passeth by?
Was it that friends are all untrue, That smiles betray, that sorrows burn, That storms obscure heaven's beauteous blue, That memory is dead pleasure's urn?
Was it that love's a night-born dream
Whereon we weep when all awake— A parting ray, a sunny gleam, That leaves the cheated heart to break?
Was is that " Fame's proud temple shines" Too like futurity, afar— That grief dilates, that bliss declines, That life and hope are—what they are? 8 113
Was it that heavenly minstrelsy Ne'er finds a guerdon meet on earth, That many a maddening woe may be Concealed beneath the mask of mirth? O ! who can answer ? yet one day
Will bring a sunbeam to thy tomb- Till then, let sorrowing minstrels say The world's unkindness worked thy doom. 114
AN INVITATION lO-NIGHT, to-night on bush and bower Then come, and glad that rosy hour
With all those charms of thine. The stars will twinkle in the sky Like those bright eyes I love; The soft breeze, like a lover's sigh
Will play around our grove. The bulbul's song will be doubly sweet; The wave will wander by, And bring its music to thy feet, And lady ! so will I. My fairest wreath of minstrelsy For thee I'll proudly twine; And that the sweetest flower shall be
Which tells those charms of thine. Around my bower the woodbine twines, The rosebud blooms there too— But what are these, and the clustering vines, And the myrtle, without you? My cup will flow with regal wine, Like thy lips so rich and red; And there the moonbeams white will shine Upon that ruby bed.
The lady-moon will shine j 115
But what's red wine or moonbeam white, If thee I meet not there? Thy cheek shall be the red wine bright, Thy brow the moonbeam fair. Thy fairy feet on flowers shall tread By angels scattered round; Each sight for thee shall beauteous be, And musical each sound. Then come—to-night, on bush, and bower The lady-moon will shine; O ! come, and glad that rosy hour
With all those charms of thine. 116
ASPIRATIONS IWOULD I were a ray of light To play upon the wave,
With the spirits of the water, And the Ocean's lovely daughter; Or down to dart with arrowy flight To the mermaid's coral cave! I would I were a dream to glide Into a poet's brain, That he might tell of worlds unseen, And flowers and stars that ne'er have been, And mark the flow of pleasure's tide, And sapphire skies serene. I would I were a mellow tone Of a young lover's lute, That Zephyr me might onward bear, And pour me gently in the ear Of some beloved and lovely one, Her soft heart to salute. I would I were a starry gem Upon the brow of night, That lovers' eyes might turn to me To witness all their ecstasy ;— How blest I'd be in blessing them Though with a trembling light. 117
I would I were the tear that flows From woman's pensive eye; To be on woman's rosy cheek
Were rapture words may never speak, And when her cheek with passion glows 'Twere sweetest there to lie. I would I were the hope that fires A youthful minstrel's breast,
While to his lady's ear he brings Strains, such as a seraph sings;— O ! there if ever Hope expires It sweetly sinks to rest! 118
SONNET TO HENRY MEREDITH PARKER, ESQ. the following tribute of admiration is respectfully inscribed. T^VELICIOUS minstrelsy alone can bring ■*S Down to this earth the rainbow hues of heaven; And O ! to fly upon an angel's wing, To highly favoured bards alone is given— To weave a deathless wreath of "leaves and flowers" None but the gifted poet's hand may dare; To gild with sunshine this bleak world of ours, And chase its darkness, is the minstrel's care. Bard of our sunny land, and golden sky! My heart has gladdened o'er thy magic lay! 'Tis like the hymn of seraphim on high, My soUl hath drunk it—and it is to me, Sweet bard ! * a draught of immortality"! 119
SONNET To those who originated and carried into effect the proposal for procuring a portrait of David Hare, Esq. YOUR hand is on the helm—guide on young men The bark that's freighted with your country's doom. Your glories are but budding; they shall bloom Like fabled amaranths Elysian, when The shore is won, even now within your ken, And when your torch shall dissipate the gloom That long has made your country but a tomb, Or worse than tomb, the priest's, the tyrant's den. Guide on, young men ; your course is well begun; Hearts that are tuned to holiest harmony
With all that e'en in thought is good, must be Best formed for deeds like those which shall be done By you hereafter till your guerdon's won And that which now is hope becomes reality. March 8, 1830. 120
SONNET SCARCE has it blossmed, ere the vernal flower Is forced to feel the storm's destroying power— Scarce has the sunlight quivered on the stream Before a black cloud hides that beauteous beam— Each Iris made of rain with many a ray, Even as you gaze upon it, melts away— And Hope—ah ! heavenly Hope o'er cheated hearts But flings its hues, then faithlessly departs. Oft have I looked upon the morning's red, But like a passing thought it quickly fled— Yet fleeter than that tinge, or rainbow hues, Or fancies brought by wildest Poet's Muse, My aspirations mounted, but in vain— They fell like wounded birds to earth again. 121
SONNET TO THE MOON ONELY thou wander'st through wide heaven, like one That has some fearful deed of darkness done,
With grief upon thy cheek; while sad despair Coldly refuseth thee a shelter where Repose might give thee welcome. Or hast thou
Washed with pale light thy melancholy brow, Because the dreams Hope brought thee once, have fled, And left the thoughts of sadness in their stead? Ah no! it is that thou art too near earth Ever to witness rosy pleasure's birth; And ceaseless gazing on the thousand showers Of ill that inundate this world of ours Has touched thy heart, and bid thine aspect be For our misfortunes, pale with sympathy.
122
SONNET REGRET has ne'er brought back a vanished dayv And sighs are vain for dreams that pass away Even like themselves; then let me cease to mourn For those bright visions Time can ne'er return,— For those warm fancies, aspirations high, And thoughts that gleamed like rainbows in the sky.
Where are they now, those air-built visions strange,
Why should they perish, wherefore should they change? Go! seek the wreck upon the sea, or beam
Which played at noon-tide on the summer stream; Like light upon the wave, or trace on sea, Those fancies are but things for Memory; And henceforth Hope with faithless meteor ray Shall never cheat, or lure me from my way. 123
SONNET REAMS to the care-worn soul are kindly given Like revelations of the joys of heaven,
Without a taint of earth—so warm, so bright, Like spirits born of happiness and light, And it is this which makes me fondly deem That Love's a gilded, soft, ethereal dream! That dream once glided through my heart and brain, Giving new life to every parched-up vein,
Waking those fancies, which like scents are hidden Until the breeze upon the flower hath ridden, Bringing to light those thoughts like pearls that be, Till by the diver from obscurity They're brought for whiter necks.—O ! thus Love shone Upon my spirit—dark since Love is gone.
124
SONNET EATH! my best friend, if thou dost ope the door,. ^-J The gloomy entrance to a sunnier world, It boots not when my being's scene is furled, So thou canst aught like vanished bliss restore. I vainly call on thee, for Fate the more Her bolts hurls down as she has ever hurled: And in my war with her, I've felt, and feel, Grief's path cut to my heart by misery's steel. But man's eternal energies can make An atmosphere around him, and so take Good out of evil, like the yellow bee That sucks from flowers malignant, a sweet treasure— O tryant Fate ! thus shall I vanquish thee, For out of suffering shall I gather pleasure.
125
SONNET HERE are thy waters, Lethe ?—I would steep T T My past existence in their source, and sleep In Death's cold sheltering arms, if they but turn The shafts of grief aside, and keep me free From all the bitterness of misery, And all those tyrant agonies, which burn My brain and heart eternally. O ! Life
Why dost thou love me so—do I not hate Thee, and thy gifts accursed ?—but there's a strife My soul has long engaged in—'tis with fate; And in my sorrow, I am half elate
With something kin to joy, that I must be Soon in that conflict vanquished—then from thee, Loathsome existence ! shall I separate.
126
SONNET j could my wandering, breeze-pinioned mind ^-^ True brotherhood in earthborn spirit find, One that might ever on unflagging wings Companion me in my imaginings, One that from earth could take its earthliness And robe it with the mind's own light—'twould bless The wheeling of existence—we should rise Like wild twin comets hurrying through the skies; Or swift as starshoots dart into the chasms Of earlier planets. These enthusiams
Which ceaseless glow in my volcanic brain, Because unshared, have ever brought me pain, And left my mind in dark, despairing mood To feel, and think upon its solitude. 127
SONNET FAIR lady! I was but a minstrel boy
When first thy dark glance told my soul, that joy Might be, perchance, by heaven bestowed on me, If thy soft heart heaven's almoner would be.
Why should my spirit deem its lot unblest? For, however 'tis now robbed of rest, And forced to war with a malignant world
Whose blood-red banner, against me unfurled, Floats, as in orient skies, the purple sun Half veiled by morning's rising mists of dun— Still faithful Memory will fling back her beams And bring to light those wild, unearthly dreams
Which were, in mercy, to my spirit given
When thou didst teach me all I know of heaven! 128
SONNET TO THE RISING MOON HY art thou blushing, lady ? art thou ashamed » * To show thy full, fair face? Behind yon screen Of trees which Nature has enrobed with green Thou stand'st as one whose hidden sins are named; Peeping the leafy crevices between, Like Memory looking through the chinks of years For some fair island-spot unsoiled by tears.— Now thou'rt ascending, melancholy queen! But the red rose has sickened on thy cheek, And there thou wander'st sorrowful, and weak, And heedless where thou'rt straying, sad, and pale, Like grief-struck maiden, who has heard revealed To all the world that which she wished concealed— Her trusting Love's, and hapless Frailty's tale.
9 129
SONNET MISERY on misery:—I soon shall be Like Atlas with a world upon my back— My heart's almost worn out—could any see
Within my bosom, they would ken the track
Which sorrow there has made ; I cannot flee From thoughts which crush my soul upon the rack. O ! what a curse is immortality!
We feel it but in pain, when Fate's attack Leaves the mind vanquished, but to suffer still Such tortures from the despot, Memory, As Hope despairs of healing. Human ill Is with our nature linked eternally. Man and misfortune are twin-born—I feel This to be true, at least 'twas so with me! 130
SISTER-IN-LAW ASISTER-IN-LAW, my sister dear, A sister-in-law for thee? I'll bring thee a star from where angels are Thy sister-in law to be. For thou art as pure as the lights that burn In the palace of bliss eternally, And thy sister-in-law must be like an urn, Containing the essence of purity. I'll borrow fleet wings from the visions of night, And when with storms the heavens are dim, Like a thought or a seraph, I'll shape my flight Until I have reached the rainbow's rim. And thence I'll bring, my sister dear, A sister-in-law for thee, A hue from that bow I'll bring here below, Thy sister-in-law to be. I'll shoot like a beam from the golden haired sun Down, down to those bright coral caves,
Where the mysteries dark of old ocean are done, And the mermaid her amber locks laves. And I'll bring thee a gem from the rich diadem, On the brow of the queen of the sea; That jewel so rare on my bosom I'll bear Thy sister-in-law to be. 131
On the hippogriff wing of that moon-stricken thing,
Wild Fancy, to whom it is given
With its flight to describe round all nature a ring,
Will I mount up to heaven, to heaven. From the amaranth beds that are there I shall bring An odour immortal for thee: For it is but meet that nought but what's sweet Thy sister-in-law should be. 132
LEAVES One step to the white death-bed, And one to the bier, And one to the charnel; and one—Oh where? Shelley. BROWN, and withered as ye lie, This, ye teach us, 'tis to die; Blooming but a summer's day, To fall in autumn quite away. Once ye flourished on yon bough; On the earth you're scattered now, And by every breath of heaven Like the dust you're wildly driven. Oft perchance beneath your shade Her lover's voice has soothed the maid; But when here again they meet, Ye shall lie beneath their feet. Moonbeams fair on you once slept O'er you night erst sweetly wept; Morn her dewy jewels flung Upon you, leaves ! when ye were young. Now, ye withered, scattered lie Till the wind comes sweeping by, Then, ye mount the steeds of air, Then, ye go—Oh ! where ? Oh 1 where? 133
This is life—some smiles and tears, Joys and sorrows, hopes and fears; Here to-day, all fresh and fair; Gone to-morrow—where ? Oh ! where? April, 1827. 134
GOOD NIGHT. aOOD Night!—well then, good night to thee, In peace thine eyelids close; May dreams of future happiness Illume thy soft repose! I've that within which knows no rest, Sleep comes to me in vain; My dreams are dark—I never more Shall pass good night again. 1824. 135
THE POET'S GRAVE BE it beside the ocean's foamy surge, On an untrodden, solitary shore,
Where the wind sings an everlasting dirge, And the wild wave, in its tremendous roar, Sweeps o'er the sod !—There let his ashes lie, Cold and unmourned ; save, when the seamew's cry Is wafted on the gale, as if 'twere given For him whose hand is cold, whose lyre is riven! There, all in silence, let him sleep his sleep! No dream shall flit into that slumber deep— No wandering mortal thither once shall wend, There, nothing o'er him but the heavens shall weep, There, never pilgrim at his shrine shall bend, But holy stars alone their nightly vigils keep! March, 1827 136
THE FAKEER OF JUNGHEERA Canto First Affections are not made for merchandize.—
What will ye give in barter for the heart? Has this world wealth enough to buy the store Of hopes, and feelings, which are linked for ever
With
Woman's soul? HOW like young spirits on the wing The viewless winds are wandering! Now o'er the flower-bells fair they creep
Waking sweet odours out of sleep; Now stealing softly through the grass That rustles as the breezes pass, Just breathing such a gentle sigh As Love would live for ever by! The sun-lit stream in dimples breaks, As when a child from slumber wakes, Sweet smiling on its mother—there, Like heavenly hope o'er mortal care! The sun is like a golden urn
Where floods of light for ever burn, And fall like blessings fast on earth, Bringing its beauties brightly forth. From field to field the butterfly Flits—a bright creature of the sky; 137
As if an angel plucked a flower From fairest heaven's immortal bower— The loveliest, and the sweetest there Blooming like bliss in life's parterre; And after having pinions given As earnest of eternal powers, To show what beauty buds in heaven, Had sent it to this world of ours. And wildly roving there the bes On quivering wing of melody From shrub to shrub enamoured hies, Then, like a faithless lover, flies, Giddy and wild even as he sips Their honey from the fiowrets' lips. O! there beneath the chequered shade By the wide-spreading Banyan made, How sweetly wove might be the theme Of gifted bard's delicious dream! His temples fanned by freshening air, His brain by fancies circled fair, His heart on pleasure's bosom laid, His thoughts in robes of song arrayed— How blest such beauteous spot would be Unto the soul of minstrelsy! II The golden God of day has driven His chariot to the western gate Of yonder red resplendent heaven, 138
Where angels high to hail him wait; But ere his couch he press to-night, His rays a mournful scene shall light! The laughing wave that rolls below, Gilt with the yellow sunshine's glow, Shall hear, ere changed its hue may be, A maddening wail of misery. The minstrels gay that fondly pour Their carols wild from brake and bower,
Will change their strains so sweet, so glad, For lays still sweet, but ah! more sad. The winds now walking o'er the wave, Before they seek their prison cave, Before they sink to nightly rest Upon the billows' gentle breast, Or ere they range the garden bowers, To cull their fragrance from the flowers, Shall chant a requiem sad and slow, O'er hope destroyed and bliss laid low; For ere the evening shadows fly Devoted woman here must die. Ill Jungheera's rocks are hoar and steep, And Ganges' wave is broad and deep. And round that island-rock the wave Obsequious comes its feet to lave— Those rocks, the stream's victorious foes, Frown darkly proud as on it flows; 139
Regardless of their haughty frown The sacred wave goes wandering on; And fishers there their shallops guide Upon the rosy-bosomed tide! High on the hugest granite pile Of that grey barren craggy isle, A small rude hut unsheltered stands- Erected by no earthly hands; And never sinful foot might dare To find its way unbidden there. The holy man who makes his home That rock, beyond it ne'er will roam; The light of day may never shine Upon an aspect more divine; The Pilgrim moon may never see A heart with more of purity, Pure as her own unearthly beams, Or brightest angels' blissful dreams! His spirit's sacred rays are given To one perpetual thought of heaven; In prayer for all the sin that lies Beneath the soft and pitying skies. His life unruffled, like the stream, Flows brightly in devotion's beam. And never earthly eye has seen His hallowed form, his saintly mien; Some say its holy heavenly light
Would be for mortal view too bright! 140
As never eye hath dared to gaze On Surya's * everlasting blaze. But others tell of deeds of death, Of blood-stained hands, and broken faith, Of outlaws leagued, of foemen slain, The hamlet burned, the plundered swain, The peasant forced his home to flee, The princely maiden's treachery, Her youthful lord's untimely fall— t And he, the demon—cause of all! IV Alas! in fairest seeming souls The tide of guilt all blackly rolls; And then they steal religion's ray Upon its surface but to play: As o'er the darkest sea a gleam Of brightest sunshine oft may beam Gilding the wave, while dark beneath Are lurking danger, woe, and death. V Lo! something moving o'er the plain Like morning mist upon the main, But dimly may the gazer's eye Its indistinct advance descry; Slowly it moves—thus slow we find Truth dawn upon the doubting mind: * Surya—the sun. 141
At first, a cloud its hues appear, And then it rolling gathers near, Just ray by ray, till robed in light, It dazzling stands before the sight. A glittering throng advanceth nigh
With drum, and gong, and soldiery; Their spears of gold, in Surya's gleam Reflect his splendour, beam for beam; Their chargers brave are proudly prancing,
With silver bright their bridles ring;
While woman's brighter eyes are glancing Like light upon a seraph's wing. And there the priests with triple thread And saintly mien, and solemn tread, Pronounce their golden God to please, Religion's holiest mysteries; Thus hallowing with their sacred power The rites of that eventful hour. One lovely form is gliding there As if 'twere pure embodied air,
With face half veiled, enrobed in white, She, like a blessed child of light Amidst her maidens seems to rise, Like Chandra * in the jewelled skies! A sound of song is on the breeze, As welcome to the spirit bright As love's delicious phantasies, * The moon. 142
Or ladies' sighs in bowers by night; As sweet as air-touched harps, and dear As praise to youthful poet's ear. VI CHORUS OF WOMEN On to the altar, and scatter the flower, Sweeten the path as ye wander along; On to the altar ;—another blest hour Brings to her spirit the Kinnura's song. Bright be the halo that circles her brow, Thornless the rose on her bosom she bears; Spread thy broad pinion now over her, Thou Lord of the tempest, who hushest our cares. Gay are the gardens that she shall inherit, Blossoms that bloom there are golden and bright,
When like a ring-dove her heaven-bound spirit, Stretcheth its wings for that region of light. Amaranths are budding in those sunny vales, Crystal and amber are sparkling around; Fragrance delicious is borne on the gales, Music enchanting breathes soft in each sound. Fountains are falling in melody rare, Harpers celestial respond to their strain; Stars are the lamps of the palaces there, Triumphant in splendour, that never can wane. Rainbows undying their colours display Cloudless and clear in that beautiful sky; 143
Joys are immortal, hopes never decay, Onward from glory to glory they fly! Such is the boon that to her shall be given; Myriads of ages for her are in store; She shall enjoy all the blessings of heaven, Till heaven, and its blessings themselves are no more. Happy ! thrice happy! thus early to leave Earth and its sorrows, for heaven and its bliss!
Who that hath known it at parting would grieve Quitting a world so disastrous as this? Happy! thrice happy! thy lord shall there meet thee. Twined round his heart shalt thou ever remain, Happy! bright angels are longing to greet thee, Tuned are their harp-strings, and ready their strain. On to the altar, and scatter the flower, Sweeten the path as ye wander along; On to the altar ! another blest hour Brings to her spirit the Kinnura's song. VII O ! like a breeze from the fresh south, And like a passing angel's lay, And like a sound from echo's mouth, How softly dies the strain away? The distant listener might have deemed, (So sweet the choral voices seemed, So like a soft ethereal hymn Heard far and faint by twilight dim) If half his griefs he might forget, 144
That earth and heaven had kissed and met. Advancing toward the grass-grown bank, In many a gaudy group and rank The throng proceeds; the holy train
Wake into life the sleeping strain, And loud and deep its numbers roll, Like song mysterious o'er the soul. VIII CHORUS OF BRAHMINS Scatter, scatter flowerets round, Let the tinkling cymbal sound; Strew the scented orient spice, Prelude to the sacrifice; Bring the balm, and bring the myrrh, Sweet as is the breath of her
Who upon the funeral pyre Shall, ere Surya sets, expire. Let pure incense to the skies Like the heart's warm wishes rise, Till, unto the lotus throne Of the great Eternal One High ascending, it may please Him who guides our destinies. Bring the pearl of purest white, Bring the diamond flashing light; Bring your gifts of choicest things, Fans of peacocks' starry wings, Gold refined, and ivory, 10 145
Branches of the sandal tree,
Which their fragrance still impart Like the good man's injured heart, This its triumph, this its boast, Sweetest 'tis when wounded most! Ere he sets, the golden sun Must with richest gifts be won, Ere his glorious brow he lave In yon sacred yellow wave, Rising through the realms of air He must hear the widow's prayer.—- Haste ye, haste, the day declines Onward, onward while he shines, Let us press, and all shall see Glory of our Deity. IX THE CHIEF BRAHMIN Surya ! in thy course of light Never saw'st thou woman bright, Like to her who soon shall be Robed with immortality; Hear thy servant's prayer from high, Regent of the sapphire sky! By the crown upon thy brow, By thy face so brilliant now, By thy splendour, by thy power, By the glory of this hour, 146
By the service we have done Now to thee, Immortal Sun! Hearken to thy children's prayer, Make this woman all thy care! X Slow moves the throng as 'twere a passing cloud, The cymbal tinkles, and the drum beats loud, As if in mockery of the solemn scene And her who shall be something that had been. O! this is but the world's unfeeling way To goad the victim that it soon will slay, And like a demon 'tis its custom still To laugh at sorrow, and then coldly kill. Yet dreaming sophists in this world there be
Who tell us man for man has sympathy,
Who say that tears arising out of pain Soon see themselves reflected;—but 'tis vain— Sure social love dwells not beneath the skies, Or it is like the bird of paradise,
Which lights we know not where, and never can Be found alive among the haunts of man. Ye who in fancy's vision view the fires
Where the calm widow gloriously expires, And, charmed, behold her ere she mounts the pile, Her lip illumined by a radiant smile; Her tearless eye disowning fear's control Lit to reveal the heavenward soaring soul; In hope exulting till life's hour be past, 147
With ardent faith, devoted to the last; Fresh in the spotless loveliness of youth, And all the native purity of truth ;— Ye who are lost in fancy's wondrous maze At love you see not—O! could once you gaze On those whom martyrs now you fondly deem! 'Twould break the magic of your golden dream To see the beauteous but the purchased flower, The toy that pleases but a passing hour, The suffering victim to the altar driven, And bid to hope for happiness in heaven- - A heaven beyond the limits of her thought, A bliss her spirit never yet had sought— Ah ! haply then might pity mourn above Degraded nature, not exalted love! XI They reached the pile of purest sandal made
Whereon her lord's cold livid corpse was laid; The gathered crowd now forms a ring around, And in the arms of silence sinks each sound. Hushed is the zel, the trumpet's brazen throat No more gives out its shrill unwelcome note; And she, that lonely victim, stands the while Like a pale flower beside the funeral pile. The gaze of all is on her—there she stands, Created perfect by Eternal hands!
What though the rose has vanished from her cheek, Her eye speaks more than ever tongue may speak— 148
That large black orb too eloquently tells All that within her suffering bosom dwells—
Wild thoughts, wild feelings that we ne'er can find Save in a woman's wonder-working mind. Think'st thou she dreams of love, and love for whom? The parted dead whose home should be the tomb? XII Hers was a heroine's choice—she nobly strove
With all that bound her to the earth—but love, That one wild passion, triumphed o'er them all— And see ! she comes unto death's festival As to her bridal bed.—That busy crowd Thus in her praise their voices lifted loud; They little thought to whom her heart was given,
Whose love was all she sought in earth or heaven.—
What though her lord a monarch's son had been,
What though herself earth's undisputed queen— She was not made a toy for others' play— The heart is free, and gives itself away !— The various passions in her bosom caged, All wildly maddening, war chaotic waged; And though the throng attracts the passer-by, She, only she, can fix his wandering eye. How like a being of another sphere She stands, and looks most beautifully here! Her softened glance reveals the suffering mind Gentle though racked, though agonized, resigned— Pure as a pearl beneath the glassy sea 149
Though heaven and earth by tempests troubled be— Her black unbraided tresses, like the wing Of glossy raven darkly glittering
With morning's early dews in graceful curl Upon her neck, like waves themselves, unfurl. Around her head a coronal of flowers, All the most beauteous of our Indian bowers, Like sunshine gleamed around a thunder-cloud—
With darksome grief her brow was gently bowed Like a pale broken lily, and her breast So quickly heaved, ah ! the sweet spell of rest, And soft emotions all were strangers there — And yet majestic was her lofty air, As if her feet should but have proudly trod A floor of stars unto the throne of God! XIII Ye mean, ye cruel! in whose bosoms cold The thought springs idly that love may be sold—
What! dare you bid our feelings all depart And give for golden dross th' impassioned heart? Go ! tell the ocean when its billows roar To rest in peace nor lash the sounding shore; Go ! when the winds are singing to the wave, Bid them be hushed, and flee unto their cave; Go ! when the spirits of the storm on high Drive their mad coursers through the blackening sky, Bid them return, and measure back their way, And they may hear your voices, and obey !— 150
But oh ! the heart enthralled can never be, Lord of itself, created to be free! XIV Nuleeni's eye is not upon the dead, To one afar her parting thoughts have fled; And she remembers now the blissful hours That flew on odorous wings in those bright bowers
Where erst she met him !—Love's Elysian beam Glides like a golden thread, through life's dark dream; Still turns the eye unto that glittering thing, Nor dares to wander from its magic ring.— O! if existence but in tempests pass'd, And o'er the soul were gloom perpetual cast j Though round the heart destructive lightning played And low that fragile thing in ruin laid; Still, life would still be sweet, if but on high Love's rainbow gleamed along the blackening sky Though for one moment—then its hues might fleet— That one bright moment would make being sweet. She speechless stands, but her full heart is fraught
With feelings maddening, and surcharged with thought The close observer skilfully might trace Her passions' workings in her varying face; Like troubled waters in her breast they glow, Dammed up, confined, but struggling for a flow; And could they flow the multitude would see Grief for the dead was wanting ;—could she be, 151
While by her husband's lifeless form, unmoved If ever she that lifeless form had loved ?— Of woman judge not thus; her heart expires Even like the phoenix in its own-made fires; Her hopes, affections, happiness, she brings To her soul's deity, as offerings. XV As flits the insect round the flame So wheels the heart round passion's Their blindness, madness still the same, Alike in pangs they both expire.
Where'er the treacherous taper burns Thither the headlong insect turns; And fearless fluttering near it still Regardless of all pain or ill, Until the warmth that round it plays Attracts it nearer to the blaze, Expiring there, at last it learns Though bright the flame, it scathes, it burns. So round the torch that Love hath lit, Mad as the moth, the heart will flit— On giddy wing it wildly wheels, Th' enlivening glow its spirit feels; And then it fondly fancies this Must be what minstrels picture bliss, Until into the fire it flies And then, too late lamenting, dies! 152
XVI The crimson sun his burning brow In Ganges' breast is pillowing now; His bright beams on the waters dart Like hopes when first they reach the heart, Like hopes they soon will die away, And gathering darkness dim the day.— But few short moments now remain, And then this world of grief and pain To sad Nuleeni's soul will be Lost in thy light—Eternity! Her brow is bowed, she sunward turns; And now the fire prophetic burns Upon her lips: O they were formed For language when the soul is warmed
With that pure flame, which ne'er is known, Save in the heart's springtime alone, To fling its gladdening light on life, And gild this world of storm and strife. Alas! that woman e'er should be Bowed to the earth with misery, And that her soul from pleasure's sky Should like a meteor fall from high! Alas! that ever sound should flow Of aught but bliss from woman's tongue; And sadder still that e'er with woe Her heart devoted should be wrung; 153
But ah! most sad when woman gay Must swan-like sing her dying lay! XVII "Fate's darksome fountain is unsealed; And bright my gifted vision sees The book of destiny revealed,
With all its hallowed mysteries. The years to come around me rise,
With sights unseen, and sounds unheard; Before me all the future flies As if 'twere some celestial bird, And every waving of its wings Still something uncreated flings; And in the scroll of doom I see The bliss that is reserved for me,
With all the good whose ebbless flow Is only dreamt of here below. Oh ! sure an angel might lay down His robe of light, his starry crown, And his exalted place resign For all the bliss that must be mine; The bliss all other bliss above— Love ! Love ! immortal, boundless Love! I see the wreath that sprites are wreathing, And o'er it forms of light are breathing,
While bounteous gods the garland bless To give it life and loveliness. How beautiful!—each fragrant flower 154
Is culled from Indra's greenest bower— And if above Immortals prize Those blossoms with delighted eyes, O ! what were even a petal worth Of heaven's Cameeni * sweet on earth! Now, from the casket rich of night They've brought small jewels made of light, A few eternal stars to shine Like diamonds with those flowers divine— And this good angels weave for me, The wreath of immortality! And they have built an emerald bower
Where with my loved-one many an hour
We'll while away, like happy birds, Rich music breathing in our words, Soft odours stealing from our sighs, And pleasure laughing in our eyes. A sapphire rill is rippling by That shines the azure of the sky; And as its onward path it takes Ever delicious music makes, Like sweetest echo answering A minstrel seraph's silver string. Its golden margin is a bed
Where blushingly the lotus red Her bosom opens to the bee, As if it were invitingly; * The Murraya exotica. 155
And all her scented sighs are given To float around perfuming heaven! And there the winged breezes bring Delicious hymns that planets sing; Each breathing such a blessed tone To ear of mortal all unknown. Oh ! soon with purer feet I'll press That hallowed land of happiness; That court whose pavement is o'erlaid
With gems and flowers that cannot fade; That temple where the footsteps bright Fall on a floor of chrysolite, Its diamonds roof the bound of space, Itself the spirit's resting-place, By foot with taint of earth untrod— The glorious kingdom of our God!" XVIII The vision's past, and heaven hath drawn Its curtain 'twixt itself and her; And ne'er had brighter vision gone From eye of woman lovelier! And as it dream-like fled, it cast A glow on that enthusiast, Bidding her pallid cheek unclose The folded petals of its rose.
With upward gaze, and white clasped hands, She, like a heaven-wrought statue, stands— 'Tis thus that woman fair should be 156
Worshipped as a divinity; Just when her beauty beams so bright, As too intense for human sight; Just in that hour when all her worth Is fitted more for heaven than earth! The Brahmin breaks her reverie, As Pubna * stirs the silent sea; The calmness of her face hath past, As flies the rainbow from the blast; Her hands upon her breast are laid As in her ear the spell is said, The word that shall her passport be To regions of Eternity! And now unto the God of light, Still beaming o'er the mournful sight, Her holy hymn Nuleeni sings,
Whose voice is so divine a one, That strain upon an angel's wings Is surely wafted to the sun. XIX HYMN TO THE SUN God of this beauteous world! whom earth and heaven Adore in concert, and in concert love,
Whose praise is hymned by the eternal seven Bright wheeling minstrels of the courts above! * The God of wind. 157
God of this glorious universe !—the sea Smiles in thy glance, and gladdens in thy ray, And lifteth up its voice in praise to thee, Giver of good, Creator of the day! God of th' immortal mind! with power to scan Thought that like diamonds in the cavern lie, Though deeply bedded in the breast of man, Distinct and naked to thy piercing eye. God of Eternity! whose golden throne Is borne upon the wings of angels bright; God of all goodness, thou art God alone, Circled with glory, diademed with light! Thou look'st from thy pavilion, and each cloud Like fear o'ercome by hope triumphant flies; The angry thunder's voice, though raving loud, At thy bright presence into silence dies.
When all is darkness, like the sad soul's night, And tempests lower like grief upon our hearts, Affrighted nature sees thy forehead bright, The black storm furls his banner, and departs. Thou mak'st the rainbow with thy golden beams, Span the blue ocean rolling at thy feet; Set in the sky that arch of promise seems Like hope still distant, and like hope still sweet. The flowers, the beauty of the earth, implore, Like woman in distress, thy rays to bring
Their beauty out of nothing, and their store Of scent and sweetness from their latent spring. The forest's green is of thy giving. Thou Dost fling its emerald mantle o'er the earth— Prostrate to thee let all creation bow, For all creation at thy word had birth. O Sun! thy herald is the morning star, Like fame preceding greatness; but when day Comes on advancing with thy gilded car, Heaven's hosts of wonder melt like sparks away.
Who shall declare thy glory ?—Unto thee My heart in fervent adoration kneels; Thou know'st whate'er its sufferings may be, To thee alone it tremblingly appeals. God of this beauteous world, whom earth and heaven Adore in concert, and in concert love; Thy praise is hymned by the perpetual seven Bright wheeling minstrels of the courts above. God of this glorious universe! the sea Smiles in thy glance, and gladdens in thy ray, And lifteth up its voice in praise to thee, Giver of good, creator of the day! God of th' immortal mind ! with power to scan Thoughts that like diamonds in the cavern lie, Though deeply bedded in the breast of man, Distinct and naked to thy piercing eye.
God of Eternity ! whose golden throne Is borne upon the wings of angels bright; God of all goodness, thou art God alone, Circled with glory, diademed with light! XX By sudden wrench to tear away From all that makes existence dear, The sunny smile, the love-breathed lay, The joys that soothe, the hopes that cheer; From earth, with all the stars and flowers That burn and bloom beneath the sky; From every bliss that life makes ours, Away for ever far to fly; Like other wild and giddy things To give the soul delirious wings, And bid it, like its fancies free,
Wander beyond reality— This may to colder spirits seem As fearful as a maniac's dream! It is as if we left the strand Of some delightful fairy land,
Where birds and bees their music twine Making existence most divine;
Where perfumes breathe, and breezes creep,
Where skies their dew in diamonds weep, And sweetness in each sigh is shed— It is as if from these we fled
With reckless heart, and quite alone, 160
And trusting to some fragile bark, Had madly risked our all upon A waste of water drear and dark. XXI Full soon the link of being's chain That holds Nuleeni yet below, Shall be for ever snapped in twain— And then, adieu to mortal woe! Before the pile she bends her brow,
With all affections she must part, And those that cling to earth must now At once be severed from her heart.— And from her head the wreath she takes, Seven circuits round the pile she makes, And now with baleful brand on fire She slowly mounts the dreadful pyre! XXII Now all is silent, sad, and still, As moonlight on a heath-clad hill; No insect's wing is heard to whirr, The very air has ceased to stir, And expectation breathless bends To watch the pile that grief ascends. But hark ! a voice in thunder cries, "Redeem th' unoffered sacrifice— Come, like the tempest gathering on." — The crowd is broke, the victim won! Quick through the thronging group they rushed 11 161
As if a stream from mountain gushed, Or wild North-wester from its cave Broke loose in madness there to rave !— Each horseman couched his battle-lance To check the headlong foe's advance, 'Twas all in vain, the craftier foe
With tempered sabre wards the blow— The holy bands in terror fly, The brave, the young, resisting, die; The women weep,—for in her fears
Woman has nothing left but tears; Disorder reigns :—the yell, the shout, The dying gasp, the groan, the rout, Alas ! have marred the solemn scene
Where late mysterious rites had been— But there Nuleeni's angel form Beams like a rainbow in the storm! XXIII Beneath the sacred wave, whose hue Is changed from gold to deepest blue, The sun has sunk to cool his brow, And all is soft and soothing now! The shades of evening slowly creep, As o'er the eyelid falleth sleep, Advancing so insensibly Its soft approaches none may see. And sweet the vesper star appears, Like beauty's eye just washed in tears; 162
And gently floats the zephyr by, Like bashful maiden's timid sigh; And unperceived the dewy shower On bush and brake, on field and flower, Descending, maketh all things fair— As if a spirit scattered there, In playful mood, the brightest gems Of loftier angels' diadems.— Attended by the ruffian band Has fair Nuleeni reached the strand, And like a sea-nymph there she smiles
While gazing on those rocky isles
Which frown like tyrants proud—and she, In scarce a moment more, will be Upon those crags so bleak and bare— The only flower that blossomed there !— "Our charge is safe—unmoor the boat— Now swiftly o'er the billows pass."— The wind is up, the bark afloat, And oars have broke the watery glass. The rugged crew now rudely sing In triumph for the prize they bring; Such music wild the tempest wakes
When wrathful from his cave he breaks. XXIV SONG Our toil is done, our treasure won, And now we homeward glide; 163
Our hearts are light, our hopes are bright As this transparent tide. Towards yon grey isle the waters flow, Then brothers, brothers, bravely row. The rising gale hath filled our sail, It bends our slender mast; And now the word is, like a bird,
We'll reach our home at last. Towards yon grey isle the waters flow, Then brothers, brothers, bravely row. The moon on high adorns the sky, Like us she onward fleets— Towards home, my men ! and gladly then Our presence pleasure greets. And see ! our isle of rock is won— Now brothers, brothers, bravely done. XXV Jungheera's craggy base is now Beneath Nuleeni's silver feet— And who descends its craggy brow Her love-lit smile, and cheek to greet? O! for the speed of swiftest hound At once into her arms to bound! O ! for the speed of sunny beam, Or eagle's wing, or airy dream, Or lightning glance of rapid eye From yonder rocky height to fly.— And whence is he, and whose the arms 164
That circle fair Nuleeni's charms ?— His dusky brow, his raven hair, His limbs of strength, his martial air, His eye though softened into love Far from the mildness of the dove. His baldric round his manly waist, His sabre hung, his pistols braced, Bespeak him sure some bloody man— The chieftain of a robber clan. But whence came he ?—'tis certain here A sainted soul, a meek Fakeer, On whom religion's sacred ray Shines bright, hath dwelt for many a day.— This is the saint—nay can it be The holy man ?—'tis he! 'tis he! XXVI The diamond tear is in her eye, She madly clings to his embrace, Breathing Love's warm impassioned sigh, For she hath found her resting place. Yes, for although the soul unblest, Like wandering, wounded bird may roam, The one, the fond beloved breast Is still, is still its happy home! Like life to hope, she clung to him, For now was severed sorrow's chain; Away had passed the tempest grim, And joy in sunshine beamed again. 165
Her voice its tone of gladness found, Her eyes their lustre flashed around, As if the spell that bound their light Had broken been that blissful night.— "O God ! and am I here," she cried, "Once more in these beloved arms; And do I in thy bosom hide From danger safe and death's alarms? O! let me kneel, and kiss thy feet Since now the hour of fear is o'er; For even to die it had been sweet Than live to see thy face no more. And death I could have better borne That even a moment brief of life To be the object of my scorn, And with myself at endless strife.
With thee a passing moment might Be all the bliss in store for me; But like an angel's vision bright That moment were Eternity.
Without thee—but! cannot tell That on which fancy dare not dwell— And yet methinks, if aught should e'er Betide, and force our souls to part,
With more than calmness I could bear A viper feeding on my heart— That agony were heaven compared To dreary life by thee unshared— 166
Such dismal fear hath past; and this Bright hour fulfils my dream of bliss; I dreamt and now before my view My dream, my golden dream is true! I dreamt how happy it might be To dwell in some lone isle with thee, To while the sun-lit hours away In singing thee my softest lay,
While timid echo made reply
With voice like tone of angel high; And when the sacred vesper star Drove through the sapphire sky her car, How sweet 'twould be to watch her light Upo11 the jewelled brow of night, To gaze on her so pure, so fair, And wish ourselves for ever there! And when the breezes nightly crept Like spirit's sighs, so sweet and soft,
While heaven in tears of dew-drops weptr For erring man who weeps more oft; Then I on this devoted breast
Would pillow that dear head of thine; And seraphs kind would guard thy rest Since nothing save thyself were mine. And I would keep thee like a thought
Which Memory in her temple keeps,
When every sorrow sinks to nought, And all the past of misery sleeps— 167
O thus should thy bright image dear Above my heart's warm altar sit,
While every hope, affection, fear Of mine like lamps were round thee lit. O! thou, I've said, shouldst ever be My only worshipped deity; And I have made my breast a shrine For every look and word of thine. To thee, to thee my soul hath turned, "
Whene'er with gladness it hath burned,
Whene'er my heart at rapture's touch Has wildly thrilled in strange delight
With soft and blest emotions, such As lutes awake when struck by night; O! thou hast ever been the one My faithful thoughts have dwelt upon; And in my hours of misery They've turned to thee, and only thee! In calm, in shine, in storm, and strife, Thou, thou hast been my light of life;
Whene'er the tempest flapped its wing My poor devoted head above, To one fond hope I still could cling, And that one hope was in thy love. Hadst thou not snatched me from the pile
Where late it was my lot to be, To death I could have given a smile, If death from woe had set me free: 168
Then in the form of some small bird,
When passed from life my spirit bright, I would have come unseen, unheard, To these grey rocks by deepest night. And in thy gentle ear alone I would have poured each melting tone, That from the dream-land I could bring,
Where sweetest winds and seraphs sing !— Those fancies were but shadowy bliss Compared to half the truth of this— These moments quite o'ercome the years That I have seen of grief and tears, And all my sorrows past o'erpay By melting future fears away. How heavenly bright is this to me! Can it be all reality? May not these moments make them wings, And fly, like other happy things, To better regions, far and fast, Too fair and lovely long to last! Say, Love! to thee doth all not seem A bright but unsubstantial dream, A glorious vision kindly given To let us taste on earth of heaven ?— It boots not, so ne'er dawn the day To chase the lovely dream away." XXVII "Nay—this is now no dreaming hour— 169
Beats not my heart reply to thine, And clasp I not my pearl, my flower, My star—the precious all that's mine— And feel I not thy burning sighs Like incense from a censer bright, And sparkle not thy speaking eyes? No—no—this is no dream to-night. Or if a vision fair it be It breathes too warm of ecstasy; And oh! too much, too much of heaven Unto this blissful hour is given— Come cheer thee, Love! betide what may, It will not, cannot pass away. Nay, weep not yet, it is too soon To cloud with grief our golden moon; I pray thee, dash away that tear, No sign of woe should threaten here— But if thy fears would prophesy Of gathering ill, and danger nigh, Believe them not, my gentle Love! No vulture here shall scare my dove.— Ah, wherefore then through fire and sword To snatch from death essay did I My best beloved, my most adored, If thus our joys must early die? No, surely all the pitying powers So dark a doom will ne'er decree— Long years of sunshine shall be ours, 170
And all in mercy, sweet! to thee. Thy tender heart, thy spirit pure Beaming through those celestial eyes, Shall cloudless days of gold secure And happiest nights of diamond skies. Then fear not, gentlest! earthly woe Can never to our lot be given; Thou art too heavenly yet to know A single thought that's not from heaven; And earth a shadow dare not fling Upon thy spotless spirit's wing!— My night of life hath passed away, And thou—the orb that beamed afar- Art sparkling in the brow of day, My gem of hope, my rising star! O! thou hast broken the cheerless gloom That frowned my luckless lot above, And brought me fondly in its room The light, the life, the soul of love! The past unto my spirit seems Like tales long told, or fleeted dreams; The present shines so warm, so bright As if our souls were dwellers fair In day's resplendent orb of light, Enjoying all the bliss that's there, And oh! if brightness more may be, The future beams so bright to me.— No more to Mecca's hallowed shrine 171
Shall wafted be a prayer of mine; No more shall dusky twilight's ear From me a cry complaining hear; Henceforth I turn my willing knee From Alia, Prophet, heaven, to thee!" XXVIII They're gone unto their rocky home— O! such a bird in such a nest! Yet, from that spot she will not roam, To her the dearest, sweetest, best! Yes! for where love in woman's form
Whispers soft vows in gentlest tone, The very snow-clad cliff will warm, The crag be smooth as eider-down. The pigeon on its pinion fair From that grey islet never roves; Ah no !—her constant mate is there,
With joy, and all its world of loves. # * » » # The night went by, and morning's wing Through eastern skies came waving grey; The last lone star was glittering
With indistinct and feeble ray, Like hope, whene'er it beams afar, A pale, a cold, a trembling star! The breeze of matin roams about Sweet as the sigh a rose gives out,
When she hath half the sorrows heard 172
At silent hour, in plaintive lay, Of her enamoured minstrel bird Pining with passion pure away. The heavens are tinged with many a hue, Gold, amethyst, and softest blue; As if the angels there had flung Those colours from their plumes of light, And when their morning hymn was sung Had rushed away from mortal sight. Each cloud that melts, or swiftly flies Like strangest dreams from sleepers' eyes; And lo! the sun now beams above Nuleeni and her robber-love.—
Would that the days might thus have passed Of that divine enthusiast,— For ever bright, for ever fair, No angry storm to blacken there, Or break the pure, the crystal stream Reflecting heaven, like poet's dream !— O! that the gems in pleasure's ring Might never fade or fall away; But 'tis, alas! a fragile thing Breaking too like a rainbow's ray— And oh! were bliss to mortals given,
Who, who would leave our earth for heaven? 178
CANTO SECOND There may be cankers in the sweetest rose, Eating into its heart. The lightning bright That cuts ethereal space with speed so great, As 'twere upon an angel's errand flying, Kills, though 'tis beautiful. Alas! alas! The cankered rose, the lightning, and young Love Are in their natures like. ARK shadows are falling on holy Mandar,
Who rears his bold brow like a monarch afar; 'Tis the time when the dove seeks his mate in her nest And beauty lies pillowed on Love's gentle breast;
When seraphs their flight to our green earth are winging To hear the sweet hymn that the wild winds are singing
When the sound of the Pearl-fall enraptured we hear Like the strains of heaven's singers saluting the ear, And the gush of the fountain afar is as soft As the flute of young Krishna* on mountains aloft;
When the boughs of the forest all gaily are swinging, And flowers their rich fragrance around us are flinging;
When the Bulbul's loved mate, the Zuleikha of flowers, Like a young eastern bride, blooms unseen in her bowers;
When the sorrowful moon looketh out to awaken A thought in the gazes of maiden forsaken;
* The Indian Apollo. 174
The stars are expanding like young hopes above, And bright as the eyes of the lady we love, And the heavens their gem-melted dew-drops are weeping O'er evergreen shrubs that in silence are sleeping. On, on to the sea is the blue river flowing Like Time to Eternity, ceaselessly going, And glassed on its bosom the planets behold Their faces as bright as the sheen of pure gold:— The lamps are lit up in the Mussulman's towers, And soft is the song in his emerald bowers! And sweet's the sitar that the minstrel hath strung And sweeter the lay that the Georgian hath sung— O! these are for Shoojah in Rajmahal gay, The song-gladdened halls, and the minstrel's sweet lay, The hours are like moments of happiness fleet, The scenes so enchanting, the music so sweet! II The lamps upon each marble wall Now echoing with the sound of song, Have chased the night from Rajmahal,
Where flows the revel loud and long, Those lamps are all of glittering gold Like sunset gleaming o'er the sea, And scented is the store they hold As ever maiden's locks may be. Their rays are flashing free and far, As at some blest Immortal's call, 175
Whose hand from heaven had plucked each star To gem that brilliant festival; And still where'er their light they fling New beauties out of darkness spring; Like Memory casting back her beams O'er years of past Elysian dreams That dawn upon the dazzled view, As brought from heaven so bright, so new !— A feast the prince hath made to-night; And young and old are glad and gay, And every feature beams delight, As 'twere the spirit's holiday. As if the pleasure man has yet Brought down from brighter, better spheres Had there in smiles together met, And banished earthly griefs and tears. Roses, festooned and gaily wreathed, Scattered their sweets on all so fair, As if in each an angel breathed, Or love-lorn fay were sighing there. On carpet bright of velvet green
Whose broidered rim with gold is shining,
With pearls the glittering lines between, The prince is all at ease reclining. And golden cups and goblets bright
With spices sweet from Lunka's* isle, * Ceylon. 176
And sherbets all like liquid light, Sparkle around him there the while. And crystal vases gemmed with gold, Meet ornaments for heavenly bowers, In fragrant heaps and clusters hold The most enchanting fairy flowers. A shawl is wreathed around his brow Flashing in purple pleasure's pride; His eye laughs out, his heart is now Afloat upon enjoyment's tide. Behold a young Cashmerian girl
With cheek of rose, and neck of pearl, Before him stands—the fairest star Burning in beauteous skies afar Might trembling shrink away to vie
With the pure lustre of her eye. And on her small, white, ice-like feet, Just feet to fall on fairest flowers, In garden groves, by moon-lit hours, Are golden anklets tinkling sweet. Her arm is raised, so round, so fair, So delicate, it looks as 'twere Made of soft moonbeams ; on her cheek The blushes burn and breathe and speak; The smile comes from her ruby lips Like the sun rushing from eclipse; And floats the perfume in her hair, For careless hearts a fatal snare.— 12 177
Protect him, Alia ! who may chance To be a youthful stander-by, As in the slow, the graceful dance She shoots the lightning of her eye; And when her voice of music flows Like richest odour from the rose, Let not her notes of magic dart Too deep into her hearer's heart. Ill SONG O! lovely is my native land
With all its skies of cloudless light; But there's a heart, and there's a hand More dear to me than sky most bright. I prize them—yes, as though they were On earth the only things divine, The only good, the only fair— And O ! that heart and hand are thine. My native land hath heavenliest bowers
Where Houris ruby-cheeked might dwell, And they are gemmed with buds and flowers Sweeter than lip or lute may tell. But there's a sigh, and there's a fear
With passion's warmth and glory's shine, Than bud or flower to me more dear— And oh! that tear and sigh are thine. 178
My native home, my native home Hath in its groves the turtle dove, And from her nest she will not roam— For it is warmed with faith and love. But there is love, and there is faith,
Which round a bleeding heart entwine, To thee devoted even to death— And ah ! that love and faith are mine! A mosque there is in fair Cashmeer
With all its minarets bright as day,
Where resteth now of sainted Peer* The lifeless but unfading clay. But there's a heart, a broken heart,
Where burns a thought as in a shrine, And cannot, will not, all depart— The thought's of thee, the heart is mine. IV The last note lingered on the ear As if from thence 'twere loath to part, Like memories of the one most dear Still fondly clinging to the heart. At last it fell, they heard it not: It died so like a spirit's sigh That Echo's faithful self forgot To make her farewell, faint reply.— And see a minstrel now appears * A holy man, canonized for extraordinary piety and devotion. 179
Familiar quite with griefs and tears. Although his gifted eye hath shone But few short years the world upon So many turns of fate to know— That eye is eloquent of woe! Alas ! alas ! the poet's doom— O ! say not that his doom is bright— His heart's a taper in a tomb Flinging around sepulchral light: The proud, the cold, the careless eye, That will not fix on genius high, Has power the minstrel's pangs to wake, And his enthusiast spirit break— Then deem him not by fortune blest, Child of the bleeding heart and breast. The bard all meekly bent his brow, Then o'er the keys of memory ran To try if they were faithful now— Then bowed again, and thus began.— V THE LEGEND OF THE SHUSHAN O ! Love is strong, and its hopes 'twill build
Where nothing beside would dare; O ! Love is bright and its beams will gild The desert, dark and bare, And youth is the time, the joyful time
When visions of bliss are before us; 180
But alas ! when gone, in our sober prime
We sigh for the days flown o'er us. For youth and love their hopes will build
Where nothing beside would dare; And they both are bright, and their beams will gild The desert, dark and bare. The rain fell fast, and the midnight blast Its horrible chaunt did sing, And it howled and raved as it madly past Like a demon on wildest wing. The precipitous lightning beamed all bright, As it flashed from the dark, dark sky, Like the beautiful glance (which kills with its light) Of a woman's large black eye. It hissed through the air, and it dipped in the wave, And it madly plunged into earth, Then pursued the wind to its desolate cave, And rushed to its home in the north; Some spirit had charmed each gathered cloud Till the mystic spell it broke; And then uprising, oft and loud The heavens in thunder spoke. And sooth it seemed as if save that gleam All nature had lost her light— The moon had concealed her beautiful beam; 'Twas a fearful, fearful night.
On the wings of the storm each star had past To its home of rest far away, As if in the blast there could not last Of radiance even a ray; As if like hope and joy they ne'er Too long should brightly shine, Lest if on earth they for ever were, Existence might be divine! 'Twas a dismal night; and the tempest sang As it rushed o'er flood and fell; And loud the laugh of spirits rang
With the demon's midnight yell. And the shriek and cry rose wild and high From many an earthless form; And roar and shout cut through the sky, And mixed with the voice of the storm. But love is strong, and its hopes 'twill build
Where nothing beside would dare, And love is bright, and its beams will gild The desert, dark and bare. And youth is the time, the joyful time
When visions of bliss are before us, But alas! when gone, in our sober prime
We sigh for the days flown o'er us. For love and youth their hopes will build
Where nothing beside would dare;
And they both are bright, and their beams will gild The desert, dark and bare. 0! why at this hour in the dark Shushan Is the Prince Jogindra sighing? Sure that cannot be a dwelling for man
Where the loathsome dead are lying. Unearthly dogs are barking there As to break the dead sleeper's dream; And the grey wolf howls—'tis his dismal lair :— And the owl glints by with a scream. The night wind moans, like a sick man's groans
When he fevered gasps on his bed— Then why is the Prince here all alone? Ah! Radhika fair is dead! The wind may moan like a sick man's groan
When he fevered gasps on his bed— But why is the Prince here all alone Though Radhika fair be dead? Her spirit is gone to some region blest Unhurt by the storm and the strife— She will not wake from her dreamless rest; And who shall charm her to life? But there was a man, and a holy man, A gifted Sunyasee,
Who bade him dwell in the dark Shushan For days and black nights three. 183
"There demons shall come and bid thee do Full many a fearful deed; But if thou quail or shrink, thou'lt rue, And death shall be thy meed. "Each night three trials must be past, Of earthly pain severest; And thou, if true, shalt win at last Thy Radhika fairest, dearest. "But there's one deed thou shalt not do Though a spirit bright shall bid thee— Yet if thou dare, that deed thou'lt rue," Said the sainted Sunyasee. "Now name that deed, thou holy man!" Cried the Prince all eagerly; "And I shall dwell in the dark Shushan For days and black nights three." "It may not be," said the Sunyasee; "Thy faith must yet be tried; And if great thy love and thy wisdom be, Thou, Prince! shalt win thy bride. "But all unarmed, that home of the dead And heedless of friend or foe,
With feet unshod must Jogindra tread." Said the Prince—"With joy I go." 184
For love is strong, and its hopes 'twill build
Where nothing beside would dare; And love is bright, and its beams will gild The desert, dark and bare. And youth is the time, the joyful time
When visions of bliss are before us; But alas ! when gone, in our sober prime
We sigh for the days flown o'er us. For love and youth their hopes will build
Where nothing beside would dare; And they both are bright, and their beams will gild The desert, dark and bare. Three days are done, and two nights gone In painful trials past; This night remains, and the bride is won If strong he be to the last. He sat on a stone, all mute and lone, By the corpse of his Radhika fair,
When the lightning flashed, and the wind made moan, And a beautiful spirit stood there! Her eyes seemed made of the pure star-light, And her face was mild and sweet; Her neck was white as the flower of night, And her tresses kissed her feet. 185
Her form was like to the cypress tree, And her cheek, it was young love's bed; Her fairy step was light and free, Her lip like the lotus red. Her voice was sweet as when ripplets meet And sigh o'er a pebbled strand; So soft was her song, it seemed to belong To a happy, heavenly land. THE SPIRIT'S SONG O ! now do not leave me Since false friends have flown; Dear Love ! do not grieve me, I've thought thee mine own. 'Mid tempest and storm, love! 'Mid good and 'mid ill, Thy form, thy bright form, love I My star hath been still. Though prospects before me
Were darksome and drear, Though clouds gathered o'erime Still, still thou wast near! My visions have faded, The tear fills mine eye, My hopes are degraded, They're hurled from on high. 186
Like thoughts that are straying
Where darkness should be, Bright moonbeams are playing Above the green sea. Now clouds are concealing The face of the moon— As onward she's wheeling, She's darkened, too soon! O! thus on my sorrow There shone silver beams; Alas! ere the morrow They vanished like dreams! My bird was the sweetest That ever did sing, But ah 'twas the fleetest, And wild was its wing. But sweeter, far sweeter Did hope weave her lay, And, ah me ! much fleeter She flew far away. I've found thee, I've found thee— My griefs would be done If love's chain had bound thee, And made us but one. Then oh ! do not leave me, Or wretched I'll be— For now what could grieve me But parting from thee?
Her dawning smile breaks pensively;
With supplicating hands, And sad yet soft beseeching eye That fairy vision stands. Jogindra's glance upon her dwelt, As there were magic in her form; He gazed, he sighed, he almost felt His heart within him warm. "But no!" he cried, " for constancy Is every charm above; And I shall still be true to thee, My Radhika ! my Love!" The storm is hushed, and the moon her light Has softly flung o'er all, And the dark Shushan is a palace bright
With lamps on each crystal wall. 'Mid a glittering throng the sound of song Now floats on the scented air, As minstrel seraphs glad and young
Were waking their music there! From heavenliest bowers they've gathered flowers, Red roses and jasmines white; On the wings of joy swift fly the hours, For the night is a bridal night! And high on a throne of azure and gold Jogindra in princely pride 188
All smiling sits,—on his arm behold Leans Radhika fair his bride! 0 ! love is strong, and its hopes 'twill build
Where nothing beside would dare; O love is bright and its beams will gild The desert, dark and bare. And youth is the time, the joyful time
When visions of bliss are before us; But alas! when gone, in our sober prime
We sigh for the days flown o'er us. For love and youth their hopes will build
Where nothing beside would dare; And they both are bright, and their beams will gild The desert, dark and bare. VI The youthful minstrel's lay is o'er; But ere he bows him to depart, A hundred princely nobles pour A stream of plaudits on his heart. O! lamps have never shed such light In garden bower or palace gay As pleasure flung, so warm, so bright On him who just had breathed his lay! Alas ! we live in iron days
When lips are sparing even of praise; As though in one approving tone 189
Too much of heaven and rapture shone; As though it were too pure a gem Freely to cast away to them
Whose glassy joys a glance may break,
Whose happiness a smile can shake; Their heaven the rapture-lighted eye, And triumph, song-awakened sigh! VII But now, a hum as when young bees Come swarming round the rich date trees, Creeps slowly on the listener's ear, Advancing near, and still more near ;— The crowd gives way :—with aspect high And piercing quick impatient eye Shooting its glances from beneath A raven lash as dark as death;
With wrinkled brow, but still sublime, Like the tall cedar scathed by time,
With haughty mien and unbent hands A venerable father stands !— I've gazed on many a ruined wall And shattered tower at Rajmahal; I've looked on many a battlement, By time destroyed or tempest rent; And as their fragments round me lay, Those mighty wrecks did I survey Not with such feelings as a flower 190
May wake, when bowed by gust or shower :— 'Twas thus, not pitying, but amazed All eyes upon that father gazed, A stranger there—but when he spake None else the silence dared to break. VIII He neither bowed, nor proffered gold, His sorrows were too fresh and wild But soon the mournful tale was told Of fair Nuleeni, his lost child. He spake of feelings crushed, of shame, Of ruined hopes, of blighted name, Of all that man hath fondly thought Brightens existence with its beams; As if those idle fancies brought
Whate'er of heaven a poet dreams; As if the visions which on earth Have gained the sacred name of worth, Could, for a passing moment, bless The soul with aught like happiness!— His tale was told :—of manly grief He stood the statue, warmed with life; Demanding vengeance, not relief, Honour alive, or death in strife; Yes—vengeance on the wretch abhorred
Who broke his heart's lone latest chord.—
Within the time-worn breast, revenge, 191
Till slaked its thirst, has scorned to change ;■ Though young and reckless spirits may Forgive the wrong the stern repay :— The tender sapling is inclined Even by the passing summer wind; The mountain monarch towers unbent Although by lightning stript and rent. IX A thousand of his bravest band, The stars of Moslem chivalry, At princely Soojah's high command, As though it were some god's decree, Attend Nuleeni's injured sire
With all the vaunt of martial fire. There's gold upon each glittering hilt, And crimson is each velvet sheath; But brighter shall each blade be gilt, And redder flow the stream of death. Undinted is each starry shield,
With silver every lance is bright: But dazzling lance on battle-field Shall shivered be ere morrow's light; Even like the tall reed by the river, Broke by the tempest's breath for ever :— And many a broad shield shall be bent, And many a broidered vest be rent, And many a turban fair be dyed In fearful slaughter's purple tide. * * * * » 192
X How beautiful is moonlight on the stream! How bright on Life is Hope's enchanting beam; Life moves inconstant, like the rippling rill, Hope's and the moon's rays quiver o'er them still! How soft upon each flower is fair moonlight Making its beauty more serenely bright, Bringing sweet sighs of fragrance from its breast
Where all its odours are, like thoughts, at rest. How sweet to sit upon a bank, and mark The soft moon looking on a little bark, As if she watched it from her azure sphere, The guardian spirit of its blest career; Flinging her melted pearls upon its sail That swells with infant pride before the gale. How speeds the shallop with its fleecy wing, Like bliss or fancy—quite a fragile thing! Thus shone the moon upon the hallowed wave Bright as the wish for freedom in a slave; Thus shone the moon upon Jungheera's flower, Nuleeni, rosebud of the rocky bower; And thus soft beams upon the shallop lay
Which soon must bear her Robber-love away. XI Alas! that fate should come 'twixt heart and heart, And, like a tyrant, force the loved to part! Breaking the dream which comes but once to bless 13 193
Existence with a ray of happiness— That golden vision which, in mercy given, Seems as 'twere brought by seraphim from heaven. And when 'tis gone, we wish that life were o'er To dream in heaven that dream for evermore. Alas! that warm celestial Love should know The blights of earth, the agonies of woe— The killing poison creeping through each vein, The feelings crushed, and the bewildered brain, The scorpion stinging every hope to death, And life bereft of all but tears and breath. 'Tis well these pangs it never twice can feel, For hearts impassioned, wounded, never heal; Like broken pearls, no power of mortal art Can mend the gems or join the riven heart!
When to some spirit we have linked our lot, One who, through life, can never be forgot, One, whom with fond affection we have placed To light and warm the bosom's dismal waste— O! if that spirit from the breast be torn
Where like a precious jewel it was worn,
What, when 'tis gone, may memory hope to find P A blank—a void—a dreariness of mind !— It is as if upon a gloomy night
When one soft star alone is twinkling bright, An angry, lowering cloud of blackest hue Should gather o'er, and quench, that lingerer too. 194
XII Tis sweet upon the midnight moon to gaze As o'er the waters shoot her trembling rays; 'Tis sweet at star-lit hour to hear the breeze
Waking o'er pebbles its rich melodies, Like a young minstrel with his tuneful art Singing to soften the unfeeling heart. But oh! to gaze upon the love-lit eye, To feel its warmth and all its witchery; To hear the melting music of that voice
Which bids the bosom madden or rejoice; To know that every glance and thought and tone Of one devoted spirit is our own— O! this is joy, like that to angels given, Filled to the brim, the heavenliest cup of heaven. Her Robber-love and young Nuleeni share Each bliss as perfect as the heart may bear, All those soft dreams th' impassioned spirit knows, Those wild emotions Love alone bestows— Ecstatic fancies which but once can be, Making us quite forget Mortality !— He looked upon her eye, as 'twere the star Of life and death to him—no gem afar That sparkled o'er them in the clear blue sky Foretold so truly of his destiny. There was a softened sadness on his brow, But seldom there, though too apparent now— The savage sternness from his face was gone
Where but the beam of Melancholy shone, 195
As 'twere prophetic of the grief that soon Must fling its shadow on their blissful moon— Or like a herald onward sent to tell That all within his bosom was not well. Thee, sweet! to-night for one short hour I leave— A daring conquest must my hand achieve; And 'tis my promise, ere another chief Shall be selected for thy love's relief, Once more to lead them to their prey alone, Then quit for ever, and be all thine own. Quench not the light of that life-giving eye: Swift on the wings of Love to thee I'll fly— But one short hour—and I demand no more— For ever thine, when that short hour is o'er." XIII How dreadful is the storm, with flag unfurled And sheathless lightning warring with the world! Lost is of light the last remaining ray, As if the stars had burnt themselves away; Or, as the wind by furious demons driven Had quenched for ever those small lamps of heaven! Hark ! how it rushes like a maniac by, Raving and singing as it cuts the sky— Hark ! how it hissing o'er the river flies— Chafing the waves, and moaning till it dies! As though the spirits of the storm unblest Had been sent down to trouble all at rest. Snatched is the moon from heaven, as she had been 196
Too fair a witness for so dark a scene; As though her delicate and gentle form Might ne'er abide the gathering of the storm, But like the beautiful on earth be still Bowed or destroyed beneath the blasts of ill. The heavens their flood-gates all at once unbar, The waters wildly hurry to the war, Madly to earth the rain in torrents gushed As from its dismal prison-clouds it rushed; Against Jungheera's rocks and shelving shore Loud howls the tempest wild—the breakers roar. Thus, as the tempest dimmed the moon-light scene, Upon Nuleeni's soul where all had been At peace, those words of parting quenched the light
Which made existence most divinely bright. XIV "And must we part so soon? An hour from thee— A single moment—were Eternity.
When thou art gone—alas ? what can I find To fill the dreadful vacuum of mind? A thought, a feeling that may yield relief And, like a pitying angel, soothe my grief? Yes—but one thought, one feeling shall be there— Tis more to name it than my spirit dare— The doubt—th' uncertain moments which will bring Pangs that have deadliest poison in their sting— The dubious hour—the fear of losing thee— The pain—the parting—no—it cannot be: 197
Why shouldst thou leave me on this stormy night, And, like yon heaven, deprive my soul of light? Alas ! when thou art gone, its latest ray, Its brightest, warmest beam, will melt away.
Why o'er the waters should my love career? Thy home's my bosom—come, and rest thee here! Ah ! yet, before thy rash resolve be made, Ere of the truth my spirit is afraid, Let me once warn thee that our doom so bright May darkly end—as darkly speeds the night. But now the moon shone fair in yonder sky; Like her, our hopes were fair and far more high— The tempest's wing has veiled her silver brow; Thus fear is gathering o'er me, round me now. Turn not aside from me that brow divine, That gaze where I must read the lot that's mine— Nay—I will cling to thee—O ! tear me not From thy embrace—is all, is all forgot? Are those fond vows which once to me were given Gone like thin clouds by winds for ever driven? Has love withdrawn at once his meteor light, Or why this madness - why this wish to-night— This wish to sever ?—is thy soul estranged From her it cherished,—or am I now changed?
Well, be it so—forsake me if thou wilt, And mine be pangs more keen than conscious guilt! But ah ! not now—this wrathful tempest brings Unerring death upon its roaring wings. 198
When fortune turning from our path away Flings o'er our spirits but a darker day;
When parting Hope no promise leaves behind To cheer the murky midnight of the mind; If then this cold world force our souls to part Breaking this fragile, this devoted heart; If from the gathered storm-cloud then the bands Of demons flash, like meteors red, their brands, Let the wild tempest burst; and if one cry Rush from our anguished bosoms to the sky— That wail of woe, if we of Fate complain, Shall rise with justice, though it rise in vain. But now to sever, even unbidden thus,
Who dreams how long ?—ah ! no—'tis not for us— My fond entreaties shall thy purpose shake, This heart no parting of to-night shall break." XV There was that conscious firmness in her tone
Which Hope but lends to trusting Love alone, That certainty which dwells perchance above, Unknown on earth, and least of all to love.
Why does the spirit thus itself deceive, And all its own fond flatteries believe? Is it because these soft delusive dreams Like rainbows glow with heavenly-painted beams, And that to make them we e'en shed our tears If the glad sunshine come from happier spheres ?— 199
Alas ! 'tis true ; for when those beams have flown The tears remain, and they—are all our own! XVI "Nay, I must leave thee—passed is now my word; And who has known me shrink from truth or pain? Thou shalt not pine in solitude, sweet bird! Ere long I'll warm thee in my breast again— Honour at stake, it were degrading thee Here to remain in soft captivity, Thou would'st despise me were I meanly driven To slight the promise to my comrades given.— Our schemes concerted, stratagems arranged
Were lost, undone, if now my purpose changed— The spoil before us, and my craven hand Not stretch to grasp it, nor to wield my brand— As from my soul all firmness were exiled; 0! that were weakness might disgrace a child. But one short hour shall raise its shadowy screen, Me and the light of those dear eyes between; That past, existence shall be one sweet dream, Still lit, still gilded by love's brightest beam. Behold, how rapidly the storm-clouds roll From heaven's blue face, like shrivelled leaf or scroll. The deep-toned thunder booms not on the breeze, The tempest sings not through the tamarind trees; The soft, transparent air with perfumes sweet Just stirs the ripplets murmuring at our feet. Each star has set in heaven its urn of light. 200
And lo ! that black cloud wears a border white;
While all beyond it is of silver—soon Shall night behold upon her throne, the moon— One hour her progress shall but scarcely tell Ere I return—no more—to say farewell." XVII Farewell !—alas! that melancholy word Comes spell-like on the heart whene'er 'tis heard, As if the spirit from that moment were Bound with a curse to be dissevered ne'er. It lingers on the ear, as if 'twould be Still sounding* until slow Eternity Came stealing o'er existence ; and there seems An omen in its echo, as in dreams. The trusting maiden fondly seeks a sign Her hope's mysterious history to divine. Ah ! there's a mournful, a prophetic spell In the faint fall of early love's farewell. XVIII They're parted—O ! that e'er the tried, the fond Should severed be, and find that all beyond That withering moment is but solitude; And then the soul its dreary widowhood Bewails in chaos! Love's adieu when spoken Leaves nothing to the heart for ever broken. Of all the visions that once bright could be O! what remains ?— nought but their memory! They're parted!
With his band, that outlaw bold 201
For plunder armed now quits his rocky hold. In starry fragments by the potent stroke Of dashing oars the crystal billow's broke; The bark swims onward, like a water sprite At play beneath the beauteous eye of night; Her pointed prow has kissed the moonlit strand That now receives the Robber and his band. Then to the secret haunt, and there to each His desperate duty shall their captain teach, Each man his charge XIX Hark ! is the wind through the forest rushing, Hark ! is the stream from the mountain gushing, Is it the whirlwind scouring the plain, Is it the storm on his wing again? No ! 'tis the voice of the trumpet loud Speaking to horsemen and horses proud; Down to the plain like torrents they dash, And the lightning that gleams is their faulchion's flash, And the shout that rushes through silence on high Like the tempest's voice is the battle-cry, The cry of the Moslem ringing afar, The dreadful herald of madness and war; To hear it ascending, the thunder is dumb. Arm and up, for they come, they come! "Strike ! 'tis the demon ; deep, deep in his breast Let your lances be gilt, and your sabres find rest; Come on to th' encounter, ye faithful! ye brave! 202
Tonight ye must give him a gore-crimsoned grave— Your shouts to his spirit shall thunder alarm, And the might of red vengeance nerve every bold arm; Come on !—to the spoiler no safety is given, No shelter on earth, and no mercy in heaven!" Those words were like the tempest's breath Rousing the breakers of the sea To whelm the mightiest even with death, Leaving them things for memory. The spirit of each warrior brave Rose like a storm-invoked wave; The wild halloo, the horsemen's cry Hurried exulting to the sky ;— But who is he, the guiding star That leads to vengeance, blood, and war? Ah ! know ye not that voice's tone That ancient eye's wild flash of fire, That brow that bows to heaven alone— Ah ! know ye not Nuleeni's sire? And like an eagle's dashing flight Down from his rock-borne aerie's height, And like a bolt when earth and heaven Rebellious wake a maddening steven, And like the disobedient main Breaking his bounds to drench the plain, Nuleeni's sire with sword and flame For honours lost and vengeance came. 203
XX Each robber has taken his sabre and shield, And bounds like a blood-hound new-slipt to the field. Heard ye the horrible roar of the gun? Destruction is raging, the battle's begun. Another dread peal!—and a flash again
With a flickering light illumines the plain. Tis gone, before ye might say 'tis gone, But death it has borne to many a one; The youthful, the gallant are falling around Like corn just reaped on the damp cold ground, And the blood flows fast of the fallen and falling, As if it came forth at the spear-point's calling! The opposing hosts now madly rush Like the destructive volcanic tide,
When forced by the throbs of earth's bosom to gush Down a smoke-skirted mountain's side. Behold ! they join, and the crash is loud, And lightnings fly as when cloud meets cloud; And the shout of the royal chivalry Is loud and wild, as the jubilee
Which the tempest-fiends, in their fearful wake, Over a wreck exulting make. Bravely the horsemen onward ride, And each takes blood from his charger's side; Their glittering lances are purpled o'er As if with a sheath in their foemen's gore; But each bold heart of the Robber-band 204
Shows them the strength of a good right hand, And their swords have drunk of the blood that flows Like wine from the hearts of their gallant foes. The war-steed snorts as over the plain He dashes regardless of rowel and rein, Enwrapt by the smoke like a battle-shroud He replies with his neigh to th' artillery loud; His collar of gold is gemmed with blood, And his fetlocks are washed in that crimson floods The earth is convulsed, as if quaked with fear And countless demons were raging here; As if unchained were the powers of air And the spirits of wrath to do what they dare. Save the carbine's flash and the sabre's gleam, To scare the darkness there is not a beam, For powerless is the thin moon's ray To pierce through the battle-rack its way. Hark, a shout, a maddening yell As if it rushed from the depths of hell; 'Tis the victors' proud exulting cry O'er those who low on the cold sod lie. The royal ranks are weak they find, They waver like mountain reeds in the wind— And as each steps where his comrade fell The work of destruction prospers well! Now, Robber-chief! once more, once more And the field is thine, and the triumph o'er! His bold band of heroes tried and true 205
Keep their ground, as if there they grew; Their foes, like waves of the stormy main, By bolts of heaven are cleft in twain; The royal spears or break or rest Deep in some gallant outlaw's breast, Till these at length now reckless grown Rush with a fury all their own; Alike to them to live or die— Their foes give way—they fly ! they fly! XXI Count on the field what numbers are lying, List to the groans of the wounded and dying! The horse and his rider are gasping there, And they soon shall be but as things that were. That morning's sun on the warrior's brow
Wrote pride and joy that are blotted now! And the vesper star came forth to see The soldier's heart in its revelry ;— But vainly will beam to-morrow's sun Many a mangled form upon; And the vesper star again will rise But not to be hailed by those death-dimmed eyes. Ah ! there a bold Moslem writhing lay, And gasp by gasp was life ebbing away; In that dark hour 'twas his doom to be curst
With burning, slakeless, maddening thirst; He could not rise from his battle-bed, And none was there to heed what he said, 206
But a fallen comrade lay by his side, And he drank his blood, and sank, and died;— A father hung o'er his perishing child
Whose breath heaved thick, and whose gaze was wild; The light of his eye was passing away, Like the sun's pale beams on a stormy day; The beat of his heart waxed faint and slow, And for him nigh hushed was all mortal woe; His brow was cold as despair may be, And the struggling spirit at last was free. * * * * * XXII As the ocean-tides spring wild and soon
When slipped from their leash by the huntress moon; As wayward spirits that ride the back Of the headlong, dismal, hurricane-track Come sweeping down over hill and plain,
With their lightning swords and their arrowy rain; Thus cataract-like with his host and his brand The father returns on the robber-band; And he rushes still, though his banner is torn, And still his shout on the wind is borne. Like a comet fierce with a floating mane On he comes with his fiery train; The beaded foam on each charger's side
With spots of a ruddier hue is dyed. The horsemen's lances are thickly drest
With ruby studs from each robber's breast. 207
To the charge like storms that are onward driven Blackening the face of the midnight heaven, Scattering their brands through the darkened sky On maniac spirits that are hurrying by, Bidding their loud artillery rattle And thicken the din of th' ethereal battle, On they rush ; and that ancient form Still madly directs the madder storm, The storm of slaughter wilder far Than ever raged elemental war. The sabres clash, and the lances ring, And the demon of death has flapped his wing. Hark to the shout of the royal band, "Behold he falls—the curse of the land!" And though erewhile with heaps of the slain His own right arm had strewed the plain, Like the mountain torrent dashed aside In its rush of destructive wrath and pride, An unseen hand with a glittering lance Checked the chieftain's fierce advance. And forth the blood from his bosom streamed, And quenched hope's latest ray as it beamed! XXIII High from her cloud pavilion, fleecy white, The moon rains down her showers of icy light; And worlds in multitudes resplendent throng Around her throne like minstrels with their song, Loosening sweet music on the fragrant breeze 208
That silent listens to their melodies. The earth sleeps listless;—she will wake again
When morning breaks her dream ; but shall the slain
Whom now upon her bosom cold she bears Yet find a land unreached by mortal cares— A morning blushing in a brighter sky, Than that above, which seems for bliss too nigh? Mysterious sleep ! whate'er of nothingness Man learns, it is from thee :—but thou canst bless The heart to whom Hope's joy-inspiring name Has long been but a sound ; whose being's flame Is almost quenched into the latest spark That gleams to show how all around is dark. Though dread thine influence, the soul of grief
Woos thee alone, for thou canst yield relief, Such as the dreams of waking life may ne'er Bestow on human suffering and despair. Now all around is tranquil as the sea
When hushed it seems as in a reverie; So still, so silent, you might hear the beat Of your own heart, or seraph's viewless feet, Or deem your mind's imagining had found Some spell to form itself into a sound— One of those thin ethereal tones that we Oft hear at night—the heart's best minstrelsy, Too pure for mortal ear and earthly pain! But lo ! alone upon the battle-plain Pale as embodied moonlight glides a form, 14 209
Like a soft breeze when silenced is the storm! Is it a spirit from a happier sphere Come down to mourn o'er wreck'd enjoyment here? Or learn that earth has lost its paradise? Or bear a tale of suffering to the skies? Tis poor Nuleeni!—pitiless despair
Writes thoughts of darkness on her forehead fair, Sad doubt has hunted from her bosom peace, And bid her hopes depart, her fears increase. Passed was the hour that should have stilled the alarms That racked her soul, and given him to her arms. She heard the thunder of the battle roar: Might he be there ?—she asked her heart no more. That tremble answered as 'twill ever do, Speaking its fears—alas ! how oft too true! And now though wishing that it spake not sooth, She dared to learn, and came to seek the truth. Hark ! does she hear the viewless breezes pass And wake a deep, sad murmur from the grass? Ha ! 'tis a moan, and almost at her foot— She bends her form, beholds, stands fixed, and mute: Is it a dream, or does the night deceive? She looks again—she trembles—must believe. 'Tis he—that robber—not victorious now— The cold death-damp descending on his brow, The filmy curtain gathering o'er his eye But vainly fixed—alas ! on vacancy; The tide of life fast gushing from his breast— 210
The spirit struggling for eternal rest! She sat her on the sod—there was but one Lone object now her eye might gaze upon— One in the world, and there that eye was fixed; And in her soul one suffering, unmixed
With better hope, its dark dominion held, Bidding existence to its thraldom yield. She placed his head upon her bosom fair,
Watching the spirit as it ebbed; pale care Had steeped her heart in sorrow's bitter stream; And on her brow a melancholy beam Like moon-light fell upon a drooping flower: O life ! that ever there should come an hour
When love must see its healthiest hopes decay, Its brightest glories perish ray by ray! 'Tis sad to think of youth, when youth has fled, And all its blissful fantasies are dead,
When the young dreams of happiness are o'er And grief has stolen fancy's golden store. 'Tis sad in manhood's riper years to find Truth wreck the fairy-visions of the mind, Those blest illusions which the cheated heart Called into being, but time bade depart. But these are suffering's shadows, when we see Love watch the dying loved-one. Misery Herein exhausts herself—the bitter vial Is poured out to the dregs—the fiery trial Ends in the heart's destruction—and life's beam 211
Becomes extinguished like a vanished dream. Sad though it be, it is ordained by fate, Life's light and shadow ne'er must separate; Life's sunniest hour is when th' enraptured soul Yields, willing captive, to Love's sweet control, But 'tis that noon-tide hour which ever flings The darkest, gloomiest shadow from its wings. Nuleeni's settled glance is fixed upon That dying form, as if for him alone Her soft eye's lamp were lit. His brow is cold— And now the soul is hastening from its mould— Her hand is on his heart—does she not hear Its faint, small beat still speaking to her ear? Alas! deluded dreamer ! 'tis thine own.
What seek'st thou now—his spirit ? it is flown! XXIV Is ruin then the substance of that dream
Which soft descends on life's bright morning beam, By angels sent from happier worlds above, And poured into the soul that calls it Love? Aye—break the chain of slumber from the mind And watch the wreck that vision leaves behind. Then mark the spirit in its solitude, Its scorn, and torture, and despairing mood! Its midnight hours unsheltered even by sleep, Its griefs too wild, too hopeless even to weep; Its memory brimmed with pains, its moments slow By pangs divided—its existence, woe! 212
Alas ! when misery comes, Time clips his wing, And walks in fetters, and we hear them ring;
While still the vulture in the rock-nailed heart Crimsons his beak, and never will depart! The morning dawned upon that sun-steeped plain:
What saw the peasant ?—Steed and rider slain! But chief his eye was daunted by a form So bold, in life it might have ruled a storm— And fondly ivying round it were the arms Of a fair woman, whose all powerful charms Even death had failed to conquer—her lips seemed Still parted by sweet breath, as if she dreamed Of him in her embrace: but they who thought That life was tenanting her breast, and sought Some answer from her heart to hush the doubt, Found that its eloquence had all burned out. 213
CUTTACK: Printed at the Orisaa Mission Press.