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Cold is her hand who placed thee here,
Thou record sweet of Love and Spring, Ere life's May-flowers, like thee, grew sere,
Or Hope had waved her parting wing: When Boyhood's burning dreams were mine,
And Fancy's magic circlet crown'd me; And Love, when love is half divine,
Spread its enchantments round me! How can I e'er forget the hour
When thou wert glowing on her breast,
Fresh from the dewy hawthorn bower
That look'd upon the golden west!
She snatch'd thee from thy sacred shrine,
A brighter fate she scarce could doom thee,– And bade a poet's wreath be thine,
His deathless page entomb thee !
That hour is past,—those dreams are fled,
Ties, sweeter, holier, bind me now; And, if life's first May-flowers are dead,
Its summer garland wreathes my brow! Sleep on, sleep on!—I would but gaze
A moment on thy faded bloom; Heave one wild sigh to other days,
Then close thy hallow'd tomb!
There is a multitude, in number like
The waves of the wide ocean; and as still
As are those waters, when the summer breeze
Sleeps on the moveless billow; there is awe
every countenance; and each doth stand
In gasping breathlessness, as terror chain'd
The life pulse down; or, as they deem'd, a sound
Might call down new destruction on their heads.-
The sun look'd smiling from his clear blue throne,
And nature seem'd to gladden in the ray;
When suddenly a cloud came over heaven,
A black and terrible shadow, as the gloom
Of the destroying angel's form; the wind
Swept past with hollow murmur; and the birds
Ceasing their song of joyfulness, with mute
And quick and tremulous flight, for shelter sought!
Fear was on every living thing : the earth
Trembled as she presaged some coming ill;
The voice of thunder spake; and in the midst
Of that proud city, in the midst of Rome,
The ground was riven in twain; and on the spot,
Where human steps had but so lately been,
There yawn'd a fearful gulf, dark as the powers
Of hell were gather'd there—no eye might scan
That fathomless abyss. The Augur's voice
Hath told the will of heaven-nought may close
That gulf of terror, till it is the grave
Of all Rome holds most precious. Then speeds forth
A youthful warrior—" What is dear to Rome,
But patriot valour? Ye infernal Gods,
Who now look wrathful from your deep abodes,
Behold your ready sacrifice !" He comes,
Arm'd as for battle, save no plumed helm
His black hair presses : he is on the steed
Which has so often borne him to the field.
Young Curtius came, but with a brow as firm,
And cheek unchanged, as he was wont to wear,
When he essay'd the glorious strife of men;
Pride glanced upon his eye—but pride that seem'd
As a remembrance of the higher state
In which aspiring spirits move; whose thoughts
Of avarice, indolence, and selfish care,
The chains of meaner ones, have given way
Before the mighty fire of the high soul-
Whose hope is immortality, whose steps
Are steps of flame, on which the many gaze,
But dare not follow. He one moment paused,
And cast a farewell look on all around.
How beautiful must be the sky above,
And fair the earth beneath, to him who gives
A lingering look, and knows it is his last -
Then onward urged his courser.-Hark! a voice,
A wild shriek rings upon the air: he turn'd,
And his glance fell on her, his own dear love.
She rush'd upon his bosom silently,
As if her life were in that last embrace.
All was so still around, that every sob,
And the heart's throb of agony, were heard.
He clasp'd her, without power to soothe her grief,
But press'd her coral lip—did never flower
Yield fresher incense forth !—and kiss'd away
The tears on her pale cheek, then on her gazed.--
All his deep feeling, anguish, high resolves,
And love intense, were in that passionate glance.
He clasp'd her wildly, and his dark eye swam
In tenderness; but he has nerved his soul-
He has spurr'd on-and the dread gulf is closed !
O, holy spirit! oft when eve
Hath slowly o'er the western sky Her gorgeous pall begun to weave,
Of gold and crimson's richest dye, I've thought the gentle gales thy breath,
The murmuring of the grove thy voice ;
And heaven above, and earth beneath,
In thee seem'd to rejoice.
Sweet visions then that sleep by day
Thy magic wand hath made mine own,
As brilliant as the clouds that play
Around the sun's descending throne; And I have striven in many a song
To pay my homage at thy shrine;-
A worthless offering for a throng
Of joys by thee made mine!
What though the idle wreath would fade,
By weak, though willing, fingers twined,
Soon gather'd to oblivion's shade,
Not less the task would soothe
mind : Inspired by thee I ceased to pine,
Nor thought on aught that inarr'd my
And borne to other worlds of thine,
Forgot the pangs of this !
But this was all in earlier days,
When boyhood's hopes were wild and high, And eaglet-like I fix'd my gaze
Where glory's sun blazed through the sky; But fate and circumstance forbade
The noble, though presumptuous flightThose hopes are blasted and decay'd
By disappointment's blight.
My soul is daring now as then,
Though fate denies its strong desire,– Still, still I hear the voice within,
The stirring voice that cries aspire;' It haunts me like the sounds that ring
In dying guilt's distemper'd ear, When round his couch, dim-hovering,
His crimes like ghosts appear! Oh Poesy! thou too hast now
Withdrawn thy wonted influence, When most I need thy tender glow
To renovate each aching sense. No more thy dreams before me pass
In swift succession, bright and fair; And when I would unveil thy glass,
Thou show'st me but despair! And now whene'er I seek the bowers
Where fancy led my steps to thee,
Before my eyes a desert lours,
The cold reality I see.
My gloomy bosom's joyless cell
No ray of thine illumines more,
Which once could guide my spirit well
O’er every ill to soar.
By all the intense love of thee
That fires my soul and thrills my frame ! By tears thou giv'st thy words to be,
When struggling feelings have no name! Return, return! By thee upborne,
And by a yet unvanquish'd will, The malice of my fate I'll scorn
In woe triumphant still!