O LEAVE the lily on its stem,
O leave the rose upon the spray,
O leave the elder-bloom, fair maids,
And listen to my lay.

A cypress and a myrtle bough,

This morn around my harp you twin'd, Because it fashioned mournfully,

Its murmurs in the wind.

And now a tale of love and woe,
A woeful tale of love I sing;
Hark, gentle maidens, hark! it sighs,
And trembles on the string.

But most, my own dear Genevieve,

It sighs and trembles most for thee! O come and hear what cruel wrongs Befel the Dark Ladie.

Few sorrows hath she of her own,

My hope, my joy, my Genevieve,
She loves me best whene'er I sing

The songs that make her grieve.
All thoughts, all passions, all delights,
Whatever stirs this mortal frame,
All are but ministers of Love,

And feed his sacred flame.

O ever in my waking dreams,

I dwell upon that happy hour,
When midway on the Mount I sate,
Beside the ruined Tower.

The moonshine stealing o'er the scene,
Had blended with the lights of eve;
And she was there, my hope, my joy,
My own dear Genevieve.

She lean'd against the armed man,

The statue of the armed knight; She stood and listened to my harp, Amid the lingering light.

I played a sad and doleful air,

I sung an old and moving story; An old rude song, that fitted well The ruins wild and hoary.

She listened with a flitting blush,

With downcast eyes and modest grace,
For well she knew I could not chuse
But gaze upon her face.

I told her of the Knight who wore
Upon his shield a burning brand;
And how for ten long years he wooed
The Ladie of the Land.

I told her how he pined: and ah!
The deep, the low, the pleading tone,
In which I told another's love,

Interpreted my own!

She listened with a flitting blush,

With downcast eyes and modest grace;
And she forgave me that I gazed
Too fondly on her face.

But when I told the cruel scorn

That crazed this bold and lovely knight, And how he roamed the mountain woods, Nor rested day nor night :

And how he crossed the woodman's path, Through briars and swampy mosses beat, How boughs, rebounding, scourged his limbs, And low stubs gored his feet:

How sometimes from the savage den,

And sometimes from the darksome shade,

And sometimes starting up at once

In green and sunny glade,

There came and looked him in the face

An Angel beautiful and bright,

And how he knew it was a Fiend,

This miserable Knight!

And how unknowing what he did,
He leapt amid a lawless band,

And saved, from outrage worse than death,
The Ladie of the Land:

And how she wept and clasp'd his knees,

And how she tended him in vain,

And meekly strove to expiate

The scorn that crazed his brain :

And how she nurs'd him in a cave,
And how his madness went away,
When, on the yellow forest leaves,
A dying man he lay :

His dying words but when I reached
That tenderest strain of all the ditty,
My faltering voice, and pausing harp,
Disturb'd her soul with pity.

All impulses of soul and sense

Had thrilled my guileless Genevieve,
The music and the doleful tale,
The rich and balmy eve;

And hopes, and fears that kindle hope,
An undistinguishable throng,
And gentle wishes long subdued,
Subdued and cherished long :

She wept with pity and delight,—

She blushed with love and maiden shame, And like the murmurs of a dream,

I heard her breathe my name.

I saw her bosom heave and swell,
Heave and swell with inward sighs,-
I could not chuse but love to see

Her gentle bosom rise.

Her wet cheek glowed, she stept aside,
As conscious of my look she stept,
Then suddenly with timorous eye
She flew to me and wept.

She half inclosed me with her arins

She pressed me with a meek embrace,
And bending back her head, looked up,
And gazed upon my face.

"Twas partly love, and partly fear,
And partly 'twas a bashful art,
That I might rather feel, than see
The swelling of her heart!

I calm'd her fears, and she was calm,
And told her love with virgin pride;

And thus I won my Genevieve,
My bright and beauteous bride!

And now once more a tale of woe,
A woeful tale of love I sing,
For thee, my Genevieve! it sighs
And trembles on the string.

[blocks in formation]

AND thou hast walk'd about, (how strange a story!)
In Thebes's streets three thousand years ago,
When the Memnomium was in all its glory,
And time had not begun to overthrow
Those temples, palaces, and piles stupendous,
Of which the very ruins are tremendous.

Speak! for thou long enough hast acted Dummy,
Thou hast a tongue-come let us hear its tune;
Thou'rt standing on thy legs, above ground, Mummy!
Revisiting the glimpses of the moon,

Not like thin ghosts, or disembodied creatures,

But with thy bones, and flesh, and limbs, and features.

Tell us for doubtless thou canst recollect,

To whom should we assign the Sphinx's fame?

Was Cheops or Cephrenes architect

Of either pyramid that bears his name?

Is Pompey's pillar really a misnomer?

Had Thebes a hundred gates as sung by Homer ?

Perhaps thou wert a Mason, and forbidden
By oath to tell the mysteries of thy trade,
Then say what secret melody was hidden
In Memnon's statue which at sunrise play'd?

Perhaps thou wert a Priest-if so, my struggles
Are vain, for priestcraft never owns its juggles.

Perchance that very hand, now pinioned flat,
Has nob-a-nobb'd with Pharaoh glass to glass;
Or dropped a half-penny in Homer's hat,

Or doff'd thine own to let Queen Dido pass,
Or held by Solomon's own invitation,
A torch at the great Temple's dedication.

I need not ask thee if that hand, when arm'd,
Has any Roman Soldier mauled and knuckled,
For thou wert dead, and buried, and embalmed,

Ere Romulus and Remus had been suckled :-
Antiquity appears to have begun

Long after thy primeval race was run.

Since first thy form was in this box extended,

We have above ground seen some strange mutations; The Roman empire has begun and ended,

New worlds have risen-we have lost old nations, And countless kings have into dust been humbled, While not a fragment of thy flesh has crumbled.

Didst thou not hear the pother o'er thy head
When the great Persian conqueror, Cambyses,
March'd armies o'er thy tomb with thundering tread,
O'erthrew Osiris, Orus, Apis, Isis,

And shook the Pyramids with fear and wonder,
When the gigantic Memnon fell asunder?

If the tomb's secrets may not be confessed,
The nature of thy private life unfold :

[ocr errors]

A heart has throbb'd beneath that leathern breast,

And tears down that dusky cheek have rolled :

Have children climb'd those knees, and kiss'd that face?

What was thy name and station, age and race?

Statue of flesh-immortal of the dead!
Imperishable type of evanescence!

Posthumous man, who quitt'st thy narrow bed,

And standest undecayed within our presence,

Thou wilt hear nothing till the Judgment morning, When the great trump shall thrill thee with its warning.

Why should this worthless tegument endure,

If its undying guest be lost for ever?
O let us keep the soul embalmed and pure

In living virtue, that, when both must sever,
Although corruption may our frame consume,
The immortal spirit in the skies may bloom.

« VorigeDoorgaan »