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Not to thee,
O wild and desert stream! belongs this tale:
Gloomy and dark art thou-the crowded firs
Spire from thy shores, and stretch across thy bed,
Making thee doleful as a cavern-well:
Save when the shy king-fishers build their nest On thy steep banks, no loves hast thou, wild stream!
This be my chosen haunt-emancipate From passion's dreams, a freeman, and alone, I rise and trace its devious course. O lead, Lead me to deeper shades and lonelier glooms. Lo! stealing through the canopy of firs, How fair the sunshine spots that mossy rock, Isle of the river, whose disparted waves Dart off asunder with an angry sound, How soon to re-unite! And see! they meet, Each in the other lost and found: and see Placeless, as spirits, one soft water-sun Throbbing within them, heart at once and eye! With its soft neighborhood of filmy clouds, The stains and shadings of forgotten tears, Dimness o'ers wum with lustre ! Such the hour Of deep enjoyment, following Love's brief feuds ; And hark, the noise of a near waterfall! I pass forth into light-I find myself Beneath a weeping birch (most beautiful Of forest-trees, the lady of the woods), Hard by the brink of a tall weedy rock That overbrows the cataract. How bursts
The landscape on my sight! Two crescent hills Fold in behind each other, and so make
A circular vale, and land-locked, as might seem,
With brook and bridge, and grey stone cottages,
Half hid by rocks and fruit-trees. At my feet
The whortle-berries are bedewed with spray,
Dashed upwards by the furious waterfall.
How solemnly the pendent ivy-mass
Swings in its winnow; all the air is calm.
The smoke from cottage chimneys, tinged with
Rises in columns; from this house alone,
Close by the waterfall, the column slants,
And feels its ceaseless breeze. But what is this?
That cottage, with its slanting chimney-smoke,
And close beside its porch a sleeping child,
His dear head pillowed on a sleeping dog-
One arm between its fore-legs, and the hand
Holds loosely its small handful of wild-flowers,
Unfilleted, and of unequal lengths,
A curious picture, with a master's haste—
Sketch'd on a strip of pinky-silver skin,
Peeled from the birchen bark! Divinest maid!
Yon bark her canvass, and those purple berries
Her pencil! See the juice is scarcely dried
On the fine skin! She has been newly here!
And lo! yon patch of heath has been her couch-
The pressure still remains! O blessed couch!
For this may'st thou flower early, and the sun,
Slanting at eve, rest bright, and linger long
Upon thy purple bells! O Isabel!
Daughter of genius! stateliest of our maids!
More beautiful than whom Alcæus wooed-
The Lesbian woman of immortal song!
O child of genius! stately, beautiful,
And full of love to all, save only me,
And not ungentle e'en to me! My heart,
Why beats it thus? Through yonder coppice-wood Needs must the pathway turn, that leads straightway On to her father's house. She is alone!
The night draws on-such ways are hard to hit-
And fit it is I should restore this sketch,
Dropt unawares no doubt. Why should I yearn
To keep the relique ? 'twill but idly feed
The passion that consumes me. Let me haste!
The picture in my hand which she has left;
She cannot blame me that I followed her:
And I may be her uide the long wood througn.
YOU loved the daughter of Don Manrique?
Sandoval. Did you not say you wooed her?
Once I loved
Her whom I dared not woo!
One whom you loved not!
And wooed, perchance,
Oh! I were most base Not loving Oropeza. True, I wooed her, Hoping to heal a deeper wound; but she Met my advances with impassioned pride, That kindled love with love. And when her sire, Who in his dream of hope already grasped The golden circlet in his hand, rejected My suit with insult, and in memory Of ancient feuds, poured curses on my head, Her blessings overtook and baffled them!
But thou art stern, and with unkindly countenance Art inly reasoning whilst thou listenest to me.
Sandoval. Anxiously, Henry! reasoning anxiously. But Oropeza
Earl Henry. Blessings gather round her!
Within this wood there winds a secret passage,
Beneath the walls, which opens out at length
Into the gloomiest covert of the garden.-
The night ere my departure to the army,
She, nothing trembling, led me through that
And to that covert by a silent stream,
Which, with one star reflected near its marge,
Was the sole object visible around me.
No leaflet stirred; the air was almost sultry;
So deep, so dark, so close, the umbrage o'er us!
No leaflet stirred ;-yet pleasure hung upon
The gloom and stillness of the balmy night-air.
A little further on an arbor stood,
Fragrant with flowering trees-I well remember
What an uncertain glimmer in the darkness
Their snow-white blossoms made-thither she led
To that sweet bower! Then Oropeza trembled—
I heard her heart beat-if 'twere not my own.
Sandoval. A rude and scaring note, my friend!
I have small memory of aught but pleasure.
The inquietudes of fear, like lesser streams
Still flowing, still were lost in those of love:
So love grew mightier from the fear, and Nature,
Fleeing from pain, sheltered herself in joy.
The stars above our heads were dim and steady,
Like eyes suffused with rapture.-Life was in us:
We were all life, each atom of our frames
A living soul-I vowed to die for her;
With the faint voice of one who, having spoken,
Relapses into blessedness, I vowed it;
That solemn vow, a whisper scarcely heard,
A murmur breathed against a lady's ear.
Oh! there is joy above the name of pleasure,
Deep self-possession, an intense repose.
Sandoval [with a sarcastic smile]. No other than as eastern sages paint,
The God, who floats upon a lotos leaf,
Dreams for a thousand ages; then awaking,
Creates a world, and smiling at the bubble,
Relapses into bliss.
Ah! was that bliss Feared as an alien, and too vast for man? For suddenly, impatient of its silence,
Did Oropeza, starting, grasp my forehead. I caught her arms; the veins were swelling on them.
Through the dark bower she sent a hollow voice:—
"Oh! what if all betray me? what if thou?"
I swore, and with an inward thought that seemed
The purpose and the substance of my being,
I swore to her, that were she red with guilt,
I would exchange my unblenched state with hers.—
Friend! by that winding passage, to that bower
I now will go all objects there will teach me
Unwavering love, and singleness of heart.
Go, Sandoval! I am prepared to meet her—
Say nothing of me-I myself will seek her—
Nay, leave me, friend! I cannot bear the torment
And keen inquiry of that scanning eye.—
[Earl Henry retires into the wood.]