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Since my young days of passion-joy, or pain,
Perchance my heart and harp have lost a string,
And both may jar : it may be, that in vain
I would essay as I have sung to sing
Yet, though a dreary strain, to this I cling ;
So that it wean me from the weary dream
Of selfish grief or gladness--so it fling
Forgetfulness around me it shall seem
To me, though to none else, a not ungrateful theme.
He, who grown aged in this world of woe,
In deeds, not years, piercing the depths of life
So that no wonder waits him; nor below
Can love, or sorrow, fame, ambition, strife,
Cut to his heart again with the keen knife
Of silent, sharp endurance : he can tell
Why thought seeks refuge in lone caves, yet rife
With airy images, and shapes which dwell
Still unimpair'd though old, in the soul's haunted cell.
'Tis to create, and in creating live
A being more intense, that we endow
With form or fancy, gaining as we give
The life we image, even as I do now.
What am I? Nothing; but not so art thou,
Soul of my thought! with whom I traverse earth,
Invisible but gazing, as I glow
Mix'd with thy spirit, blended with thy birth,
And feeling still with thee in my crush'd feelings' dearth.
Yet must I think less wildly:--I have thought
Too long and darkly, till my brain became,
In its own eddy boiling and o’erwrought,
A whirling gulf of phantasy and flame :
And thus, untaught in youth my heart to tame,
My springs of life were poison'd. 'Tis too late !
Yet am I chang'd; though still enough the same
In strength to bear what time cannot abate,
And feed on bitter fruits without accusing Fate.
Something too much of this :--but now 'tis past
And the spell closes with its silent seal,
Long absent HAROLD re-appears at lası;
He of the breast wbich fain no more would feel,
Wrung with the wounds which kill not, but ne'er heal
Yet Time who changes all, had altered him
In soul and aspect as in age: years steal
Fire from the mind as vigour from the limb;
And life's enchanted cup but sparkles near the brim.
His had been quaff'd too quickly, and he found
The dregs were wormwood; but he fill'd again,
And from a purer fount, on holier ground,
And deem'd its spring perpetual ; but in vain !
Still round him clung invisibly a chain !
Which gall’d for ever, fettering though unseen,
And heavy though it clank'd not; worn with pain,
Which pined although it spoke not, and grew keen,
Entering with every step, he took, gh many a seene.
Secured in guarded coldness, he had mix'd
Again in fancied safety with his kind,
And deem'd his spirit now so firmly fix'd
And sheath'd with an invulnerable mind,
That, if no joy, no sorrow lurk'd behind;
And he, as one, might midst the many stand
Unheeded, searching through the crowd to find
Fit speculation! such as in strange land
He found in wonder-works of God and Nature's hand.
But who can view the ripened rose, nor seek
To wear it? who can curiously behold
The smoothness and the sheen of beauty's cheek,
Nor feel the heart can never all grow old ?
Who can contemplate Fame through clouds unfold
The star which rises o'er her steep, nor climb;
Harold, once more within the vortex, roll'd
On with the giddy circle, chasiog Time,
Yet with a nobler aim than in his youth's fond prime.
XII. But soon he knew himself the most unfit Ofman to herd with Man; with whom he held Little in common; untaught to submit His thoughts to others, though his soul was quell’d In youth by his own thoughts; still uncompellid, He would not yield dominion of his mind To spirits against whom his own rebell'd;
Proud though in desolation; which could find A life within itself, to breathe without mankind.
XIII. Where rose the mountains, there to him were friends; Where roll'd the ocean, thereon was his home Where a blue sky, and glowing clime, extends, He had the passion and the power to roam ; The desert, forest, cavern, breaker's foam, Were unto him companionship; they spake A mutual language, clearer than the tome
Of his land's tongue, which he would oft forsake For Nature's pages glass’d by sunbeams on the lake.,
XIV. Like the Chaldean, he could watch the stars, Till he had peopled, them with beings bright As their own beams; and earth, and earth-born jars, And human frailties, were forgotten quite: Could he have kept his spirits to that flight He had been happy? but his clay will sink Its spark immortal, envying it the light
To which it mounts, as if to break the link
That keeps us from yon heaven which wous us to its brink.
But in man's dwellings he became a thing
Restless and worn, and stern and wearisome,
Droop'd as a a wild-born falcon with clipt wing,
To whom the boundless air alone were home:
Then came his fit again, which to o'ercome,
As eagerly the barr’d-up bird will beat.
His breast and beak against the wiry dome
Till the blood tinge his plumage, so the heat
Of his impeded soul would through his bosom egt,
XVI. Self-exiled Harold wanders forth again, With nought of hope left, but with less of gloom. The very knowledge that he liv'd in vain, That all was over on this side the tomb, Had made Despair a smilingness assume, Which, though 'twere wild, as on the plundered wreck When mariners would madly m their doom
With draughts intemperate on the sinking deck,
Did yet inspire a cheer, which he forebore to check.
Stop! -for thy tread is on an Empire's dust?
An Earthquake's spoil is sepulchred below!
Is the spot mark'd with no colossal bust?
Nor column trophied for triumphal show?
None; but the moral's truth tells simpler so,
As the ground was before, thus let it be?-
How that red rain hath made the harvest grow!
And is this all the world has gained by thee,
Thou first and last of fields! king-making Victory?
And Harold stands upon this place of skulls,
The grave of France, the deadly Waterloo !
How in an hour the power which gave annuls
Its gifts, transferring fame as fleeting too!
In“ pride of place” here last the eagle flew,
Then tore with bloody talon the rent plain,
Pierced by the shaft of banded nations through;
Ambition's life and labours all were vain;
He wears the shattered links of the world's broken chain,
Fit retribution ! Gaul may champ the bit
And foam in fetters ;-but is Earth more free?
Did nations combat to make One submit;
Or league to teach all kings true sovereignty?
What! shall reviving Thraldom again be
The patched-up idol of enlightened days?
Shall we, who struck the Lion down, shall we
Pay the Wolf homage; proffering lowly gaze
Aud servile knees to thrones? No; prove before ye praise!
XX. Įf not, o'er one fallen despot boast no more! In vain fair cheeks were furrowed with hot tears For Europe's flowers long rooted up before The trampler of her vineyards; in vain years Of death, depopulation, bondage, fears, Have all been borne, and broken by the accord Of roused-up millions: all that most endears
Glory, is when the myrtle wreathes a sword Such as Harmodius (2) drew on Athen's tyrant lord,
There was a sound of revelry by night,
And Belgium's capital had gathered then
Her beauty and her Chivalry, and bright
The lamps shone o'er fair woman and brave men ;
A thousand hearts beat happily; and when
Music arose with its voluptuous swell,
Soft eyes look'd love to eyes which spake again,
And (3) all went merry as a marriage-bell;
But hush ! hark; a deep sound like a rising knell !
Did ye not hear it ?-No; 'twas but the wind,
Or the car rattling o'er the stony street;
On with the dance! let joy be unconfined;
No sleep till mory, when Youth and Pleasure meet
To chase the glowing Hours with flying feet-
But, hark !--that heavy sound breaks in once more,
As if the clouds its echo would repeat;
And nearer, clearer, deadlier than before! Arm! Arm ! it is--it is--the cannon's opening roar!
XXIII. Within a windowed niche of that high hall Sate Brunswick's fated chieften; he did hear That sound the first amidst the festival, And caught its tone with Death's prophetic ear; And when they smiled because he deem'd it near, His heart more truly knew that peal too well Which strech'd his father on a bloody bier
And roused the vengeance blood alone could quell: He rushi'd into the field, and, foremost fighting, tell,