Obrazy na stronie
[ocr errors]

And, taough I dwelt with Lionel,
That friendless caution pierced me sore
With grief; a wound my spirit bore
Indignantly, but when he died
With him lay dead both hope and pride.
Alas! all hope is buried now.
· But then men dreamed the aged earth

Was labouring in that mighty birth,
Which many a poet and a sage
Has aye foreseen-the happy age
When truth and love shall dwell below
Among the works and ways of men ;
Which on this world not power, but will,
Even now is wanting to fulfil.
Among mankind what thence befel
Of strise, how vain, is known too well;
When liberty's dear pæan fell
'Mid murderous howls. To Lionel,
Though of great wealth and lineage high,
Yet through those dungeon walls there came
Thy thrilling light, O liberty!
And as the meteor's midnight flame
Startles the dreamer, sun-like truth
Flashed on his visionary youth,
And filled him, not with love, but faith,
And hope, and courage mute in death;
For love and life in him were twins,
Born at one birth: in every other
First life, then love its course begins,
Though they be children of one mother:
And so through this dark world they feet
Divided, till in death they meet:
But he loved all things ever. Then
He past amid the strife of men,
And stood at the throne of armed power
Pleading for a world of woe:
Secure as one on a rock-built tower
O'er the wrecks which the surge trails to and fro.
'Mid the passions wild of human kind
He stood, like a spirit calming them :
For, it was said, his words could bind

Like music the lulled crowd, and stem
That torrent of unquiet dream
Which mortals truth and reason deem,
But is revenge and fear and pride.
Joyous he was; and hope and peace
On all who heard him did abide,
Raining like dew from his sweet talk,
As where the evening star may walk
Along the brink of the gloomy seas,
Liquid mists of splendour quiver.
His very gestures touched to tears
The unpersuaded tyrant, never
So moved before : his presence stung
The tortures with their victim's pain,
And none knew how; and through their ears
The subtle witchcraft of his tongue
Unlocked the hearts of those who keep
Gold, the world's bond of slavery.
Men wondered, and some sneered to see
One sow what he could never reap :
For he is rich, they said, and young,
And might drink from the depths of luxury.
If he seeks fame, fame never crowned
The champion of a trampled creed :
If he seeks power, power is enthroned
'Mid ancient rights and wrongs, to feed
Which hungry wolves with praise and spoil,
Those who would sit near power must toil;
And such, there sitting, all may see.
What seeks he ? All that others seek
He casts away, like a vile weed
Which the sea casts unreturningly.
That poor and hungry men should break
The laws which wreak them toil and scorn,
We understand; but Lionel
We know is rich and nobly born.
So wondered they : yet ali men loved
Young Lionel, though few approved ;
All but the priests, whose hatred fell
Like the unseen blight of a smiling day,
The withering honey dew, which clings

you hear,

Under the bright green buds of May,
Whilst they unfold their emerald wings:
For he made verses wild and queer
On the strange things priests hold so dear.
Because they bring them land and gold.
of devils and saints, and all such gear,
He made tales which whoso heard or read
Would laugh till he were almost dead.
So this grew a proverb: "don't get old
Till Lionel's' banquet in hell'
And then you will langh yourself young again.”
So the priests hated him, and he
Repaid their hate with cheerful glee.
Ah, smiles and joyance quickly died,
For public hope grew pale and dim
In an altered time and tide,
And in its wasting withered him,
As a summer flower that blows too soon
Droops in the smile of the waning moon,
When it scatters through an April night
The frozen dews of wrinkling blight.
None now hoped more. Grey Power was seated
Safely on her ancestral throne;
And Faith, the Python, undefeated,
Even to its blood-stained steps dragged on
Her foul and wounded train, and men
Were trampled and deceived again,
And words and shews again could bind
The wailing tribes of human kind
In scorn and famine. Fire and blood
Raged round the raging multitude,
To fields remote by tyrants sent
To be the scorned instrument
With which they drag from mines of gore
The chains their slaves yet ever wore;
And in the streets men met each other,
And by old altars and in halls,
And smiled again at festivals.
But each man found in his heart's brother
Cold cheer; for all, though half deceived,
The outworn creeds again believed,

And the same round anew begap,
Which the weary world yet ever ran.
Many then wept, not tears, but gall,
Within their hearts. like drops which fall
Wasting the fountain-stone away.
And in that dark and evil day
Did all desires and thoughts, that claim
Men's care-ambition, friendship, fame,
Love, hope, though hope was now despair-
Indue the colours of this change,
As from the all-surrounding air
The earth takes hues obscure and strange,
When storm and earthquake linger there.

And so, my friend, it then befel
To many, most to Lionel,
Whose hope was like the life of youth
Within him, and, when dead, became
A spirit of unresting fame,
Which goaded him in his distress
Over the world's vast wilderness.
Three years he left his native land,
And on the fourth, when he returned
None knew him : he was stricken deep
With some disease of mind, and turned
Into aught unlike Lionel.
On him, on whom, did he pause in sleep,
Serenest smiles were wont to keep,
And, did he wake, a winged band
of bright persuasions, which had sed
On his sweet lips and liquid eyes,
Kept their swift pinions half outspread,
To do on men his least command;
On him, whom once 'twas paradise
Even to behold, now misery lay:
In his own heart 'twas merciless,
To all things else none may express
Its innocence and tenderness.
'Twas said that he had refuge sought
In love from his unquiet thought
In distant lands, and been deceived

By some strange shew : for there were found,
Blotted with tears as those relieved
By their own words are wont to do,
These mournful verses on the ground,
By all who read them blotted too.
“ How am I changed ! my hopes were once like fire
I loved, and I believed that life was love.
How am I lost! on wings of swist desire
Among Heaven's winds my spirit once did move.
I slept, and silver dreams did aye inspire
My liquid sleep : I woke, and did approve
All nature to my heart, and thought to make
A paradise of earth for one sweet sake.

I love, but I believe in love no more.
I feel desire, but hope not. Oh, from sleep
Most vainly must my weary brain implore
Its long lost flattery now : I wake to weep,

tecce And sit through the long day gnawing the core

Of my bitter heart, and, like a miser, keep.
Since none in what I feel take pain or pleasure
To my own soul its self-consuming treasure.''
He dwelt beside me near the seat:
And oft in evening did we meet,
When the waves, beneath the star-light, flee
O'er the yellow sands with silver feet,
And talked : our talk was sad and sweet,
Till slowly from his mien there passed
The desolation which it spoke :
And smiles,-as when the lightning's blast

ieee vent Has parched some heaven-delighting oak,

The next spring shews leaves pale and rare,
But like flowers delicate and fair,
On its rent boughs—again arrayed
His countenance in tender light:
His words grew subtle fire, which made
The air his hearers breathed delight:
His motions, like the winds, were free,
Which bend the bright grass gracefully,
Then fade away in circlets faint :

« PoprzedniaDalej »