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'Twas night; on her fond hopes perpetual night;
A night which struck a damp, a deadlier damp
Than that which smote me from Philander's tomb !
Narcissa follows ere his tomb is closed.
Wces cluster; rare are solitary woes;
They love a train; they tread each other's heel;
Her death invades his mournful right, and claims 65
The grief that started from my lids for him;
Seizes the faithless, alienated tear,
Or shares it ere it falls. So frequent Death,
Sorrow he more than causes, he confounds;
For human sighs his rival strokes contend,
And make distress distraction. Oh, Philander'
What was thy fate? a double fate to me!
Portent and plain! a menace and a blow!
Like the black raven hovering o'er my peace,
Not less a bird of omen than of prey.
It call'd Narcissa long before her hour;
It call'd her tender soul by break of bliss,
From the first blossom, from the buds of joy ;
Those few our noxious fate unblasted leaves,
In this inclement clime of human life.
Sweet harmonist! and beautiful as sweet!
And young as beautiful! and soft as young !
And gay as soft! and innocent as gay!
And happy (if aught happy here) as good!
For Fortune fond had built her nest on high.
Like birds quite exquisite of note and plume,
Transfix'd by Fate (who loves a lofty mark)
How from the summit of the grove she fell,
And left it unharmonious! all its charm
Extinguish'd in the wonders of her song!
Her song still vibrates in my ravish'd ear,
Still melting there, and with voluptuous pain
(0 to forget her!) thrilling through my heart.
Song, beauty, youth, love, virtue, joy! this group Of bright ideas, flowers of Paradise,
As yet unforfeit! in one blaze we bind,
Kneel, and present it to the skies, as all
We guess of Heaven! and these were all her own; And she was mine; and I was-was!-most bless'd→→→ Gay title of the deepest misery!
As bodies grow more ponderous robb'd of life,
Good lost weighs more in grief than gain'd in joy.
Like blossom'd trees o'erturn'd by vernal storm,
Lovely in death the beauteous ruin lay;
And if in death still lovely, lovelier there;
Far lovelier! pity swells the tide of love.
And will not the severe excuse a sigh?
Scorn the proud man that is ashamed to weep.
Our tears indulged indeed deserve our shame.
Ye that e'er lost an angel, pity me!
Soon as the lustre languish'd in her eye,
Dawning a dimmer day on human sight,
And on her cheek, the residence of Spring,
Pale Omen sat, and scattered fears around
On all that saw, (and who would cease to gaze
That once had seen?) with haste, parental haste,
I flew, I snatch'd her from the rigid North,
Her native bed, on which bleak Boreas blew,
And bore her nearer to the Sun; the Sun
(As if the Sun could envy) check'd his beam,
Denied his wonted succour; nor with more
Regret beheld her drooping than the bells
Of lilies; fairest lilies, not so fair!
Queen lilies! and ye painted populace Who dwell in fields, and lead ambrosial lives! In morn and evening dew your beauties bathe, And drink the sun, which gives your cheeks to glow, And outblush (mine excepted) every fair;
You gladlier grew, ambitious of her hand,
Which often cropp'd your odours, incense meet
To thought so pure! Ye lovely fugitives!
Coeval race with man! for man you smile :
Why not smile at him too? You share, indeed,
His sudden pass; but not his constant pain.
So man is made, nought ministers delight, But what his glowing passions can engage; And glowing passions, bent on aught below, Must, soon or late, with anguish turn the scale; And anguish after rapture, how severe ! Rapture? bold man! who tempts the wrath divine, 140 By plucking fruit denied to mortal taste, While here presuming on the rights of Heaven. For transport dost thou call on every hour, Lorenzo? At thy friend's expense be wise: Lean not on earth; 'twill pierce thee to the heart; A broken reed at best; but oft a spear:
On its sharp point Peace bleeds, and Hope expires.
Turn, hopeless thought! turn from her.-Thought
Resenting rallies, and wakes every woe. [repell'd
Snatch'd ere thy prime! and in thy bridal hour! 150
And when kind Fortune, with thy lover, smiled!
And when high-flavour'd thy fresh opening joys!
And when blind man pronounced thy bliss complete!
And on a foreign shore, where strangers wept !
Strangers to thee, and, more surprising still,
Strangers to kindness wept. Their eyes let fall
Inhuman tears; strange tears! that trickled down
From marble hearts! obdurate tenderness!
A tenderness that call'd them more severe,
In spite of Nature's soft persuasion steel'd:
While Nature melted, Superstition raved;
That mourn'd the dead, and this denied a grave.
Their sighs incensed; sighs foreign to the will!
Their will the tiger sucked, outraged the storm;
For, oh! the cursed ungodliness of Zeal!
While sinful flesh relented, spirit nursed
In blind Infallibility's embrace,
The sainted spirit petrified the breast
Denied the charity of dust to spread
O'er dust! a charity their dogs enjoy.
What could I do? what succour? what resource?
With pious sacrilege a grave I stole ;
With impious piety that grave I wrong'd,
Short in my duty, coward in my grief!
More like her murderer than friend, I crept
With soft-suspended step, and, muffled deep
In midnight darkness, whisper'd my last sigh.
I whisper'd what should echo through their realms,
Nor writ her name, whose tomb should pierce the skies.
Presumptuous fear! how durst I dread her foes, 180
While Nature's loudest aictates I obey'd?
Pardon necessity, bless'd shade! of grief
And indignation rival bursts I pour'd ;
Half execration mingled with my prayer;
Kindled at man, while I his God adored:
Sore grudged the savage land her sacred dust;
Stamp'd the cursed soil; and with humanity
(Denied Narcissa) wish'd them all a grave.
Glows my resentment into guilt? what guilt
Can equal violations of the dead?
The dead how sacred! sacred is the dust
Of this heaven-labour'd form, erect, divine!
This heaven-assumed, majestic robe of earth
He deign'd to wear, who hung the vast expanse
With azure bright, and clothed the Sun in gold. 195
When every passion sleeps that can offend;
When strikes us every motive that can melt,
When man can wreak his rancour uncontroll'd,
That strongest curb on insult and ill will;
Then spleen to dust? the dust of innocence?
An angel's dust !-This Lucifer transcends;
When he contended for the patriarch's bones.
'Twas not the strife of malice, but of pride;
The strife of pontiff pride, not pontiff gall.
Far less than this is shocking in a race
Most wretched, but from streams of mutual love;
And uncreated, but for love divine;
And but for love divine this moment lost,
By Fate resorb'd, and sunk in endless night.
Man hard of heart to man! of horrid things
Most horrid! mid stupendous highly strange!
Yet oft his courtesies are smoother wrongs;
Pride brandishes the favours he confers,
And contumelious his humanity :
What then his vengeance? Hear it not, ye Stars! 215
And thou, pale Moon! turn paler at the sound,
Man is to man the sorest, surest ill.
A previous blast foretels the rising storm;
O'erwhelming turrets threaten, ere they fall;
Volcanos bellow, ere they disembogue;
Earth trembles, ere her yawning jaws devour;
And smoke betrays the wide consuming tire:
Ruin from man is most conceal'd when near,
And sends the dreadful tidings in the blow.
Is this the flight of Fancy? would it were!
Heaven's Sovereign saves all beings, but himself,
That hideous sight, a naked human heart.
Fired is the Muse? and let the Muse be fired:
Who not inflamed, when what he speaks he feels,
And in the nerve most tender, in his friends;
Shame to mankind! Philander had his foes;
He felt the truths I sing, and I in him;
But he nor I feel more. Past ills, Narcissa!
Are sunk in thee, thou recent wornd of heart,
Which bleeds with other cares, with other pangs, 235
Pangs numerous as the numerous ills that swarm'd
O'er thy distinguish'd fate, and, clustering there,
Thick as the locust on the land of Nile,
Made death more deadly, and more dark the grave. Reflect (if not forgot my touching tale)
How was each circumstance with aspics arm'd!
An aspic each, and all an hydra woe.
What strong Herculean virtue could suffice?-
Or is it virtue to be conquer'd here?
This hoary cheek a train of tears bedews,
And each tear mourns its own distinct distress,
And each distress, distinctly mourn'd, demands
Úf grief still more as heighten'd by the whole.