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XIV.

ON FAME.

“ You cannot eat your cake and have it too.”—Proverb.

How fever'd is the man, who cannot look

Upon his mortal days with temperate blood, Who vexes all the leaves of his life's book,

And robs his fair name of its maidenhood; It is as if the rose should pluck herself,

Or the ripe plum finger its misty bloom, As if a Naiad, like a meddling elf,

Should darken her pure grot with muddy gloom : But the rose leaves herself upon the brier,

For winds to kiss and grateful bees to feed,
And the ripe plum still wears its dim attire,

The undisturbed lake has crystal space;
Why then should man, teasing the world for grace,
Spoil his salvation for a fierce miscreed?
1819.

XV.

Why did I laugh to-night ? No voice will tell :

No God, no Demon of severe response, Deigns to reply from Heaven or from Hell.

Then to my human heart I turn at once Heart! Thou and I are here sad and alone ;

I say, why did I laugh? O mortal pain ! O Darkness ! Darkness ! ever must I moan,

To question Heaven and Hell and Heart in vain. Why did I laugh ? · I know this Being's lease,

My fancy to its utmost blisses spreads ; Yet would I on this very midnight cease,

And the world's gaudy ensigns see in shreds ; Verse, Fame, and Beauty are intense indeed, But Death intenser-Death is Life's high meed.

XVI.

ON A DREAM.*

Nora's Iland. Ime 2.785%

As Hermes once took to his feathers light,

When lulled Argus, baffled, swoon'd and slept,
So on a Delphic reed, my idle spright,

So play'd, so charm'd, so conquer'd, so bereft
The dragon-world of all its hundred eyes,
• And seeing it asleep, so fled away,
Not to pure Ida with its snow-cold skies,

Nor unto Tempe, where Jove grieved a day,
But to that second circle of sad Hell,

Where in the gust, the whirlwind, and the flaw
Of rain and hail-stones, lovers need not tell

Their sorrows,-pale were the sweet lips I saw,
Pale were the lips I kiss'd, and fair the form
I floated with, about that melancholy storm.
1819.

.p.179

XVII.

IF by dull rhymes our English must be chain'd,

And, like Andromeda, the Sonnet sweet
Fetter'd, in spite of pained loveliness ;
Let us find out, if we must be constrain’d,

Sandals more interwoven and complete
To fit the naked foot of poesy ;
Let us inspect the lyre, and weigh the stress
Of every chord, and see what may be gain'd

By ear industrious, and attention meet:
Misers of sound and syllable, no less

Than Midas of his coinage, let us be

Jealous of dead leaves in the bay wreath crown;
So, if we may not let the Muse be free,

She will be bound with garlands of her own.
1819.

(See page 179.)

XVIII.

The day is gone, and all its sweets are gone !

Sweet voice, sweet lips, soft hand, and softer breast, Warm breath, light whisper, tender semi-tone,

Bright eyes, accomplish'd shape, and lang’rous waist ! Faded the flower and all its budded charms,

Faded the sight of beauty from my eyes, Faded the shape of beauty from my arms,

Faded the voice, warmth, whiteness, paradise-
Vanish'd unseasonably at shut of eve,

When the dusk holiday—or holinight
Of fragrant-curtain'd love begins to weave

The woof of darkness thick, for hid delight;
But, as I've read love's missal through to-day,
He'll let me sleep, seeing I fast and pray.

1819

XIX.

I cry your mercy-pity-love-aye, love!

Merciful love that tantalizes not,
One-thoughted, never-wandering, guileless love,

Unmask'd, and being seen—without a blot !
O! let me have thee whole,-all-all-be mine!

That shape, that fairness, that sweet minor zest
Of love, your kiss,—those hands, those eyes divine,

That warm, white, lucent, million-pleasured breast,Yourself--your soul-in pity give me all,

Withhold no atom's atom, or I die,
Or living on perhaps, your wretched thrall,

Forget, in the mist of idle misery,
Life's purposes—the palate of my mind
Losing its gust, and my ambition blind!

XX.

KEATS'S LAST SONNET.

BRIGHT star ! would I were steadfast as thou art

Not in lone splendor hung aloft the night, And watching, with eternal lids apart,

Like Nature's patient sleepless Eremite, The moving waters at their priestlike task Of pure

ablution round earth's human shores, Or gazing on the new soft fallen mask

Of snow upon the mountains and the moorsNo-yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,

Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast, To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,

Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever-or else swoon to death.*

* Another reading :

Half-passionless, and so swoon on to death.

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