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The naked Stranger rose, and wrung his hair, And that first moment passed in silent prayer.
Alas! the sound--he sunk into Despair-- He was on Earth--but what was Earth to him, Houseless and homeless--bare both breast and limb?
Cut off from all but Memory he curst His fate--his folly--but himself the worst.
What was his hope? he looked upon the Wave-- Despite--of all--it still may be his Grave!
He rose and with a feeble effort shaped His course unto the billows--late escaped: But weakness conquered--swam his dizzy glance, And down to Earth he sunk in silent trance.
How long his senses bore its chilling chain, He knew not--but, recalled to Life again, A stranger stood beside his shivering form-- And what was he? had he too scaped the storm?
He raised young Julian. "Is thy Cup so full Of bitterness--thy Hope--thy heart so dull That thou shouldst from Thee dash the Draught of Life, So late escaped the elemental strife!
Rise--tho' these shores few aids to Life supply, Look upon me, and know thou shalt not die.
Thou gazest in mute wonder--more may be Thy marvel when thou knowest mine and me.
But come--The bark that bears us hence shall find Her Haven, soon, despite the warning Wind."
He raised young Julian from the sand, and such Strange power of healing dwelt within the touch, That his weak limbs grew light with freshened Power, As he had slept not fainted in that hour, And woke from Slumber--as the Birds awake, Recalled at morning from the branched brake, When the day's promise heralds early Spring, And Heaven unfolded woos their soaring wing: So Julian felt, and gazed upon his Guide, With honest Wonder what might next betide.
Dec. 12, 1814.
Belshazzar! from the banquet turn, Nor in thy sensual fulness fall; Behold! while yet before thee burn The graven words, the glowing wall,[nf]
Many a despot men miscall Crowned and anointed from on high; But thou, the weakest, worst of all-- Is it not written, thou must die?[ng]
Go! dash the roses from thy brow-- Grey hairs but poorly wreathe with them; Youth's garlands misbecome thee now, More than thy very diadem,[nh]
Where thou hast tarnished every gem:-- Then throw the worthless bauble by, Which, worn by thee, ev'n slaves contemn; And learn like better men to die!
Oh! early in the balance weighed, And ever light of word and worth, Whose soul expired ere youth decayed, And left thee but a mass of earth.
To see thee moves the scorner's mirth: But tears in Hope's averted eye Lament that even thou hadst birth-- Unfit to govern, live, or die.
_February_ 12, 1815.
[First published, 1831.]
STANZAS FOR MUSIC.
"O Lachrymarum fons, tenero sacros Ducentium ortus ex animo: quater Felix! in imo qui scatentem Pectore te, pia Nympha, sensit."
[Motto to "The Tear," _Poetical Works_, 1898, i. 49.]
There's not a joy the world can give like that it takes away, When the glow of early thought declines in Feeling's dull decay; 'Tis not on Youth's smooth cheek the blush alone, which fades so fast,[ni]
But the tender bloom of heart is gone, ere Youth itself be past.
Then the few whose spirits float above the wreck of happiness Are driven o'er the shoals of guilt or ocean of excess: The magnet of their course is gone, or only points in vain The shore to which their shivered sail shall never stretch again.
Then the mortal coldness of the soul like Death itself comes down; It cannot feel for others' woes, it dare not dream its own; That heavy chill has frozen o'er the fountain of our tears, And though the eye may sparkle still, 'tis where the ice appears.
Though wit may flash from fluent lips, and mirth distract the breast, Through midnight hours that yield no more their former hope of rest; 'Tis but as ivy-leaves around the ruined turret wreath[nj]
All green and wildly fresh without, but worn and grey beneath.
Oh, could I feel as I have felt,--or be what I have been, Or weep as I could once have wept, o'er many a vanished scene; As springs in deserts found seem sweet, all brackish though they be, So, midst the withered waste of life, those tears would flow to me.
_March, 1815._ [First published, _Poems, 1816._]
ON THE DEATH OF THE DUKE OF DORSET.
I heard thy fate without a tear, Thy loss with scarce a sigh; And yet thou wast surpassing dear, Too loved of all to die.
I know not what hath seared my eye-- Its tears refuse to start; But every drop, it bids me dry, Falls dreary on my heart.
Yes, dull and heavy, one by one, They sink and turn to care, As caverned waters wear the stone, Yet dropping harden there: They cannot petrify more fast, Than feelings sunk remain, Which coldly fixed regard the past, But never melt again.
STANZAS FOR MUSIC.