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And laugh away worse folly, being free
Here will I seat myself, beside this old,
Hollow, and weedy oak, which ivy-twine
Clothes as with net-work: here will I couch my
Close by this river, in this silent shade,
As safe and sacred from the step of man
As an invisible world—unheard, unseen,
And listening only to the pebbly brook
That murmurs with a dead, yet tinkling sound;
Or to the bees, that in the neighboring trunk
Make honey-hoards. The breeze, that visits me,
Was never Love's accomplice, never raised
The tendril ringlets from the maiden's brow,
And the blue, delicate veins above her cheek;
Ne'er played the wanton-never half disclosed
The maiden's snowy bosom, scattering thence
Eye-poisons for some love-distempered youth,
Who ne'er henceforth may see an aspen-grove
Shiver in sunshine, but his feeble heart
Shall flow away like a dissolving thing /
Sweet breeze! thou only, if I guess aright,
Liftest the feathers of the robin's breast,
That swells its little breast, so full of song,
Singing above me on the mountain ash.
And thou too, desert stream! no pool of thine,
Though clear as lake in latest summer-eve,
Did e'er reflect the stately virgin's robe,
The face, the form divine, the downcast look
Contemplative! Behold! her open palm
Presses her cheek and brow ! her elbow rests
On the bare branch of half-uprooted trec,
That leans towards its mirror! Who erewhile
Had from her countenance turned, or looked by
stealth, (For fear is true love's cruel nurse), he now With steadfast gaze and unoffending eye, Worships the watery idol, dreaming hopes Delicious to the soul, but fleeting, vain, E'en as that phantom-world on which he gazed, But not unheeded gazed ! for see, ah! see, The sportive tyrant with her left hand plucks The heads of tall flowers that behind her grow, Lychnis, and willow-berb, and fox-glove bells ; And suddenly, as one that toys with time, Scatters them on the pool! Then all the charm Is broken-all that phantom-world so fair Vanishes, and a thousand circlets spread, And each mis-shape the other. Stay awhile, Poor youth, who scarcely dar'st lift up thine eyes! The stream will soon renew its smoothness, soon The visions will return ! And lo! he stays: And soon the fragments dim of lovely forms Come trembling back, unite, and now once more The pool becomes a mirror; and behold Each wild-flower on the marge inverted there, And there the half-uprooted tree-but where O where the virgin's snowy arm that leaned On its bare branch ? He turns and she is gone! Homeward she steals through many a woodland
Which he shall seek in vain. Ill-fated youth!
Go, day by day, and waste thy manly prime
In mad love-yearning by the vacant brook,
Till sickly thoughts bewitch thine eyes, and thou
Behold'st her shadow still abiding there,
The Naiad of the mirror!
Not to thee, O wild and desert stream! belongs this tale : Gloomy and dark art thou—the crowded firs Spire from thy shores, and stretch across thy bed, Making thee doleful as a cavern-well : Save when the shy king-fishers build their nest On thy steep banks, no loves hast thou, wild
This be my chosen haunt-emancipate
From passion's dreams, a freeman, and alone,
I rise and trace its devious course.
Lead me to deeper shades and lonelier glooms.
Lo! stealing through the canopy of firs,
How fair the sunshine spots that
Isle of the river, whose disparted waves
Dart off asunder with an angry sound,
How soon to re-unite! And see! they meet,
Each in the other lost and found : and see
Placeless, as spirits, one soft water-sun
Throbbing within them, heart at once and eye!
With its soft neighborhood of filmy clouds,
The stains and shadings of forgotten tears,
Dimness o'erswum with lustre! Such the hour
Of deep enjoyment, following Love's brief feuds;
And hark, the noise of a near waterfall !
I pass forth into light-I find myself
Beneath a weeping birch (most beautiful
Of forest-trees, the lady of the woods),
Hard by the brink of a tall weedy rock
That overbrows the cataract. How bursts
The landscape on my sight! Two crescent hills
Fold in behind each other, and so make
A circular vale, and land-locked, as might seem,
With brook and bridge, and grey stone cottages,
Half hid by rocks and fruit-trees. At my feet
The whortle-berries are bedewed with spray,
Dashed upwards by the furious waterfall.
How solemnly the pendent ivy-mass
Swings in its winnow; all the air is calm.
The smoke from cottage chimneys, tinged with
Rises in columns; from this house alone,
Close by the waterfall, the column slants,
And feels its ceaseless breeze. But what is this?
"That cottage, with its slanting chimney-smoke,
And close beside its porch a sleeping child,
His dear head pillowed on a sleeping dog-
One arm between its fore-legs, and the hand
Holds loosely its small handful of wild-flowers,
Unfilleted, and of unequal lengths,
A curious picture, with a master's haste-
Sketch'd on a strip of pinky-silver skin,
Peeled from the birchen bark! Divinest maid !
Yon bark her canvass, and those purple berries
Her pencil! See the juice is scarcely dried
On the fine skin! She has been newly here!
And lo! yon patch of heath has been her couch-
The pressure still remains ! O blessed couch!
For this may'st thou flower early, and the sun,
Slanting at eve, rest bright, and linger long
Upon thy purple bells! Isabel !
Daughter of genius! stateliest of our maids !
More beautiful than whom Alcæus wooed-
The Lesbian woman of immortal song!
O child of genius! stately, beautiful,
And full of love to all, save only me,
And not ungentle e'en to me! My heart,
Why beats it thus ? Through yonder coppice-wood
Needs must the pathway turn, that leads straightway
On to her father's house. She is alone!
The night draws on—such ways are hard to hit,
And fit it is I should restore this sketch,
Dropt unawares no doubt. Why should I yearn
To keep the relique ? 'twill but idly feed
The passion that consumes me. Let me haste!
The picture in my hand which she has left;
She cannot blame me that I followed her:
And I may be her 'uide the long wood througa.
YOU loved the daughter of Don Manrique ?
Sandoval. Did you not say you wooed her ?
Once I loved Her whom I dared not woo! Sandoval.
And wooed, perchance, One whom you loved not ! Earl Henry.
Oh! I were most base Not loving Oropeza. True, I wooed her, Hoping to heal a deeper wound; but she Met my advances with impassioned pride, That kindled love with love. And when her sire, Who in his dream of hope already grasped The golden circlet in his hand, rejected My suit with insult, and in memory Of ancient feuds, poured curses on my head, Her blessings overtook and baffled them!