British Humorist and Poet
"By ev'ry sweet tradition of true hearts, Graven by Time, in love with his own lore; By all old martyrdoms and antique smarts, Wherein Love died to be alive the more; Yea, by the sad impression on the shore, Left by the drown'd Leander, to endear That coast for ever, where the billow's roar Moaneth for pity in the Poet's ear; By Hero's faith, and the foreboding tear That quench'd her brand's last twinkle in its fall; By Sappho's leap, and the low rustling fear That sigh'd around her flight; I swear by all, The world shall find such pattern in my act, As if Love's great examples still were lack'd. "
"Oh, when I was a tiny boy, My days and nights were full of joy, My mates were blithe and kind!— No wonder that I sometimes sigh, And dash the tear-drop from my eye, To cast a look behind! A hoop was an eternal round Of pleasure. In those days I found A top a joyous thing;— But now those past delights I drop, My head, alas! is all my top, And careful thoughts the string! My marbles—once my bag was stored,— Now I must play with Elgin's lord, With Theseus for a taw! My playful horse has slipt his string, Forgotten all his capering, And harness'd to the law! My kite—how fast and far it flew! Whilst I, a sort of Franklin, drew My pleasure from the sky! 'Twas paper'd o'er with studious themes, The tasks I wrote—my present dreams Will never soar so high! My joys are wingless all and dead; My dumps are made of more than lead;— My flights soon find a fall; My fears prevail, my fancies droop, Joy never cometh with a hoop, And seldom with a call! My football's laid upon the shelf; I am a shuttlecock myself The world knocks to and fro;— My archery is all unlearn'd, And grief against myself has turn'd My arrows and my bow! No more in noontide sun I bask; My authorship's an endless task, My head's ne'er out of school: My heart is pain'd with scorn and slight, I have too many foes to fight, And friends grown strangely cool! The very chum that shared my cake Holds out so cold a hand to shake, It makes me shrink and sigh:— On this I will not dwell and hang,— The changeling would not feel a pang Though these should meet his eye! No skies so blue or so serene As then;—no leaves look half so green As clothed the playground tree! All things I loved are altered so, Nor does it ease my heart to know That change resides in me! Oh for the garb that marked the boy, The trousers made of corduroy, Well ink'd with black and red; The crownless hat, ne'er deem'd an ill— It only let the sunshine still Repose upon my head! Oh for the riband round the neck! The careless dogs-ears apt to deck My book and collar both! How can this formal man be styled Merely an Alexandrine child, A boy of larger growth? Oh for that small, small beer anew! And (heaven's own type) that mild sky-blue That wash'd my sweet meals down; The master even!—and that small Turk That fagg'd me!—worse is now my work— A fag for all the town! Oh for the lessons learned by heart! Ay, though the very birch's smart Should mark those hours again; I'd 'kiss the rod,' and be resign'd Beneath the stroke, and even find Some sugar in the cane! The Arabian Nights rehearsed in bed! The Fairy Tales in school-time read, By stealth, 'twixt verb and noun! The angel form that always walk'd In all my dreams, and look'd and talk'd Exactly like Miss Brown! The omne bene—Christmas come! The prize of merit, won for home— Merit had prizes then! But now I write for days and days, For fame—a deal of empty praise, Without the silver pen! To cast a look behind! "
"I had a gig-horse, and I called him Pleasure Because on Sundays for a little jaunt He was so fast and showy, quite a treasure; Although he sometimes kicked and shied aslant. I had a chaise, and christened it Enjoyment, With yellow body and the wheels of red, Because it was only used for one employment, Namely, to go wherever Pleasure led. I had a wife, her nickname was Delight: A son called Frolic, who was never still: Alas! how often dark succeeds to bright! Delight was thrown, and Frolic had a spill, Enjoyment was upset and shattered quite, And Pleasure fell a splitter on Paine's Hill. "
"I had a vision in the summer light— Sorrow was in it, and my inward sight Ached with sad images. The touch of tears Gushed down my cheeks:—the figured woes of years Casting their shadows across sunny hours. Oh, there was nothing sorrowful in flowers Wooing the glances of an April sun, Or apple blossoms opening one by one Their crimson bosoms—or the twittered words And warbled sentences of merry birds;— Or the small glitter and the humming wings Of golden flies and many colored things— Oh, these were nothing sad—nor to see Her, Sitting beneath the comfortable stir Of early leaves—casting the playful grace Of moving shadows in so fair a face— Nor in her brow serene—nor in the love Of her mild eyes drinking the light above With a long thirst—nor in her gentle smile— Nor in her hand that shone blood-red the while She raised it in the sun. All these were dear To heart and eye—but an invisible fear Shook in the trees and chilled upon the air, And if one spot was laughing brightest—there My soul most sank and darkened in despair!— As if the shadows of a curtained room Haunted me in the sun—as if the bloom Of early flow'rets had no sweets for me, Nor apple blossoms any blush to see— As if the hour had brought too bright a day— And little birds were all too gay!—too gay!— As if the beauty of that Lovely One Were all a fable.—Full before the sun Stood Death and cast a shadow long before, Like a dark pall enshrouding her all o'er, Till eyes, and lips, and smiles, were all no more! "
"Bianca's Dream - A Venetian Story - BIANCA!—fair Bianca!—who could dwell With safety on her dark and hazel gaze, Nor find there lurk'd in it a witching spell, Fatal to balmy nights and blessed days? The peaceful breath that made the bosom swell, She turn'd to gas, and set it in a blaze; Each eye of hers had Love's Eupyrion in it, That he could light his link at in a minute. So that, wherever in her charms she shone, A thousand breasts were kindled into flame; Maidens who cursed her looks forgot their own, And beaux were turn'd to flambeaux where she came; All hearts indeed were conquer'd but her own, Which none could ever temper down or tame: In short, to take our haberdasher's hints, She might have written over it,—'from Flints.' She was, in truth, the wonder of her sex, At least in Venice—where with eyes of brown Tenderly languid, ladies seldom vex An amorous gentle with a needless frown; Where gondolas convey guitars by pecks, And Love at casements climbeth up and down, Whom for his tricks and custom in that kind, Some have considered a Venetian blind. Howbeit, this difference was quickly taught, Amongst more youths who had this cruel jailer, To hapless Julio—all in vain he sought With each new moon his hatter and his tailor; In vain the richest padusoy he bought, And went in bran new beaver to assail her— As if to show that Love had made him smart All over—and not merely round his heart. In vain he labour'd thro' the sylvan park Bianca haunted in—that where she came, Her learned eyes in wandering might mark The twisted cypher of her maiden name, Wholesomely going thro' a course of bark: No one was touched or troubled by his flame, Except the Dryads, those old maids that grow In trees,—like wooden dolls in embryo. In vain complaining elegies he writ, And taught his tuneful instrument to grieve, And sang in quavers how his heart was split, Constant beneath her lattice with each eve; She mock'd his wooing with her wicked wit, And slash'd his suit so that it matched his sleeve, Till he grew silent at the vesper star, And, quite despairing, hamstring'd his guitar. Bianca's heart was coldly frosted o'er With snows unmelting—an eternal sheet, But his was red within him, like the core Of old Vesuvius, with perpetual heat; And oft he longed internally to pour His flames and glowing lava at her feet, But when his burnings he began to spout. She stopp'd his mouth, and put the crater out. Meanwhile he wasted in the eyes of men, So thin, he seem'd a sort of skeleton-key Suspended at death's door—so pale—and then He turn'd as nervous as an aspen tree; The life of man is three score years and ten, But he was perishing at twenty-three, For people truly said, as grief grew stronger, 'It could not shorten his poor life—much longer.' For why, he neither slept, nor drank, nor fed, Nor relished any kind of mirth below; Fire in his heart, and frenzy in his head, Love had become his universal foe, Salt in his sugar—nightmare in his bed, At last, no wonder wretched Julio, A sorrow-ridden thing, in utter dearth Of hope,—made up his mind to cut her girth! For hapless lovers always died of old, Sooner than chew reflection's bitter cud; So Thisbe stuck herself, what time 'tis told, The tender-hearted mulberries wept blood; And so poor Sappho when her boy was cold, Drown'd her salt tear drops in a salter flood, Their fame still breathing, tho' their breath be past, For those old suitors lived beyond their last. So Julio went to drown,—when life was dull, But took his corks, and merely had a bath; And once he pull'd a trigger at his skull, But merely broke a window in his wrath; And once, his hopeless being to annul, He tied a pack-thread to a beam of lath, A line so ample, 'twas a query whether 'Twas meant to be a halter or a tether. Smile not in scorn, that Julio did not thrust His sorrows thro'—'tis horrible to die! And come down, with our little all of dust, That dun of all the duns to satisfy: To leave life's pleasant city as we must, In Death's most dreary spunging-house to lie, Where even all our personals must go To pay the debt of nature that we owe! So Julio liv'd:—'twas nothing but a pet He took at life—a momentary spite; Besides, he hoped that time would some day get The better of love's flame, howover bright; A thing that time has never compass'd yet, For love, we know, is an immortal light. Like that old fire, that, quite beyond a doubt, Was always in,—for none have found it out. Meanwhile, Bianca dream'd—'twas once when Night Along the darken'd plain began to creep, Like a young Hottentot, whose eyes are bright, Altho' in skin as sooty as a sweep: The flow'rs had shut their eyes—the zephyr light Was gone, for it had rock'd the leaves to sleep. And all the little birds had laid their heads Under their wings—sleeping in feather beds. Lone in her chamber sate the dark-ey'd maid, By easy stages jaunting thro' her pray'rs, But list'ning side-long to a serenade, That robb'd the saints a little of their shares; For Julio underneath the lattice play'd His Deh Vieni, and such amorous airs, Born only underneath Italian skies, Where every fiddle has a Bridge of Sighs. Sweet was the tune—the words were even sweeter— Praising her eyes, her lips, her nose, her hair, With all the common tropes wherewith in metre The hackney poets overcharge their fair. Her shape was like Diana's, but completer; Her brow with Grecian Helen's might compare: Cupid, alas! was cruel Sagittarius, Julio—the weeping water-man Aquarius. Now, after listing to such laudings rare, 'Twas very natural indeed to go— What if she did postpone one little pray'r— To ask her mirror 'if it was not so?' 'Twas a large mirror, none the worse for wear, Reflecting her at once from top to toe: And there she gazed upon that glossy track, That show'd her front face tho' it 'gave her back.' And long her lovely eyes were held in thrall, By that dear page where first the woman reads: That Julio was no flatt'rer, none at all, She told herself—and then she told her beads; Meanwhile, the nerves insensibly let fall Two curtains fairer than the lily breeds; For Sleep had crept and kiss'd her unawares, Just at the half-way milestone of her pray'rs. Then like a drooping rose so bended she, Till her bow'd head upon her hand reposed; But still she plainly saw, or seem'd to see, That fair reflection, tho' her eyes were closed, A beauty-bright as it was wont to be, A portrait Fancy painted while she dozed: 'Tis very natural some people say, To dream of what we dwell on in the day. Still shone her face—yet not, alas! the same, But 'gan some dreary touches to assume, And sadder thoughts, with sadder changes came— Her eyes resigned their light, her lips their bloom, Her teeth fell out, her tresses did the same, Her cheeks were tinged with bile, her eyes with rheum: There was a throbbing at her heart within, For, oh! there was a shooting in her chin. And lo! upon her sad desponding brow, The cruel trenches of besieging age, With seams, but most unseemly, 'gan to show Her place was booking for the seventh stage; And where her raven tresses used to flow, Some locks that Time had left her in his rage. And some mock ringlets, made her forehead shady, A compound (like our Psalms) of Tête and braidy. Then for her shape—alas! how Saturn wrecks, And bends, and corkscrews all the frame about, Doubles the hams, and crooks the straightest necks, Draws in the nape, and pushes forth the snout, Makes backs and stomachs concave or convex: Witness those pensioners called In and Out, Who all day watching first and second rater, Quaintly unbend themselves—but grow no straighter. So Time with fair Bianca dealt, and made Her shape a bow, that once was like an arrow; His iron hand upon her spine he laid, And twisted all awry her 'winsome marrow.' In truth it was a change!—she had obey'd The holy Pope before her chest grew narrow, But spectacles and palsy seem'd to make her Something between a Glassite and a Quaker. Her grief and gall meanwhile were quite extreme, And she had ample reason for her trouble; For what sad maiden can endure to seem Set in for singleness, tho' growing double. The fancy madden'd her; but now the dream, Grown thin by getting bigger, like a bubble, Burst,—but still left some fragments of its size, That, like the soapsuds, smarted in her eyes. And here—just here—as she began to heed The real world, her clock chimed out its score; A clock it was of the Venetian breed, That cried the hour from one to twenty-four; The works moreover standing in some need Of workmanship, it struck some dozens more; A warning voice that clench'd Bianca's fears, Such strokes referring doubtless to her years. At fifteen chimes she was but half a nun, By twenty she had quite renounced the veil; She thought of Julio just at twenty-one, And thirty made her very sad and pale, To paint that ruin where her charms would run; At forty all the maid began to fail, And thought no higher, as the late dream cross'd her, Of single blessedness, than single Gloster. And so Bianca changed;—the next sweet even, With Julio in a black Venetian bark, Row'd slow and stealthily—the hour, eleven, Just sounding from the tow'r of old St. Mark; She sate with eyes turn'd quietly to heav'n, Perchance rejoicing in the grateful dark That veil'd her blushing cheek,—for Julio brought her Of course—to break the ice upon the water. But what a puzzle is one's serious mind To open;—oysters, when the ice is thick, Are not so difficult and disinclin'd; And Julio felt the declaration stick About his throat in a most awful kind; However, he contrived by bits to pick His trouble forth,—much like a rotten cork Grop'd from a long-necked bottle with a fork. But love is still the quickest of all readers; And Julio spent besides those signs profuse That English telegraphs and foreign pleaders, In help of language, are so apt to use, Arms, shoulders, fingers, all were interceders, Nods, shrugs, and bends,—Bianca could not choose But soften to his suit with more facility, He told his story with so much agility. 'Be thou my park, and I will be thy dear, (So he began at last to speak or quote Be thou my bark, and I thy gondolier, (For passion takes this figurative note Be thou my light, and I thy chandelier; Be thou my dove, and I will be thy cote: My lily be, and I will be thy river; Be thou my life—and I will be thy liver.' This, with more tender logic of the kind, He pour'd into her small and shell-like ear, That timidly against his lips inclin'd; Meanwhile her eyes glanced on the silver sphere That even now began to steal behind A dewy vapour, which was lingering near, Wherein the dull moon crept all dim and pale, Just like a virgin putting on the veil:— Bidding adieu to all her sparks—the stars, That erst had woo'd and worshipp'd in her train, Saturn and Hesperus, and gallant Mars— Never to flirt with heavenly eyes again. Meanwhile, remindful of the convent bars, Bianca did not watch these signs in vain, But turn'd to Julio at the dark eclipse, With words, like verbal kisses, on her lips. He took the hint full speedily, and, back'd By love, and night, and the occasion's meetness, Bestow'd a something on her cheek that smack'd (Tho' quite in silence) of ambrosial sweetness; That made her think all other kisses lack'd Till then, but what she knew not, of completeness; Being used but sisterly salutes to feel, Insipid things—like sandwiches of veal. He took her hand, and soon she felt him wring The pretty fingers all instead of one; Anon his stealthy arm began to cling About her waist that had been clasp'd by none, Their dear confessions I forbear to sing, Since cold description would but be outrun; For bliss and Irish watches have the pow'r, In twenty minutes, to lose half an hour! "
"Farewell, Life! My senses swim, And the world is growing dim; Thronging shadows cloud the light, Like the advent of the night,— Colder, colder, colder still, Upward steals a vapor chill— Strong the earthy odor grows— I smell the mould above the rose! Welcome, Life! the Spirit strives! Strength returns, and hope revives; Cloudy fears and shapes forlorn Fly like shadows at the morn,— O'er the earth there comes a bloom— Sunny light for sullen gloom, Warm perfume for vapor cold— I smell the rose above the mould! "
"A Parental Ode to My Son, Aged 3 Years and 5 months - Thou happy, happy elf! (But stop,—first let me kiss away that tear—) Thou tiny image of myself! (My love, he's poking peas into his ear!) Thou merry, laughing sprite! With spirits feather-light, Untouched by sorrow, and unsoiled by sin; (Good Heavens! the child is swallowing a pin!) Thou little tricksy Puck! With antic toys so funnily bestuck, Light as the singing bird that wings the air; (The door! the door! he'll tumble down the stair!) Thou darling of thy sire! (Why, Jane, he'll set his pinafore afire!) Thou imp of mirth and joy! In love's dear chain, so strong and bright a link, Thou idol of thy parents; (Drat the boy! There goes my ink!) Thou cherub—but of earth; Fit playfellow for Fays, by moonlight pale, In harmless sport and myrth, (That dog will bite him if he pulls its tail!) Thou human hummingbee, extracting honey From every blossom in the world that blows, Singing in youth's elysium ever sunny, (Another tumble!—that's his precious nose!) Thy father's pride and hope! (He'll break the mirror with that skipping-rope!) With pure heart newly stamped from Nature's mint; (Where did he learn that squint!) Thou young domestic dove! (He'll have that jug off with another shove!) Dear nursling of the Hymeneal nest! (Are those torn clothes his best?) Little epitome of man! (He'll climb upon the table, that's his plan!) Touched with the beauteous tints of dawning life (He's got a knife!) Thou enviable being! No storms, no clouds, in thy blue sky foreseeing, Play on, play on, My elfin John! Toss the light ball—bestride the stick— (I knew so many cakes would make him sick!) With fancies, buoyant as the thistle-down, Prompting the face grotesque, and antic brisk, With many a lamb-like frisk, (He's got the scissors, snipping at your gown!) Thou pretty opening rose! (Go to your mother, child, and wipe your nose!) Balmy and breathing music like the South, (He really brings my heart into my mouth!) Fresh as the morn, and brilliant as its star, (I wish that window had an iron bar!) Bold as the hawk, yet gentle as the dove; (I'll tell you what, my love, I cannot write unless he's sent above!) "
"Giver of glowing light! Though but a god of other days, The kings and sages Of wiser ages Still live and gladden in thy genial rays! King of the tuneful lyre, Still poets' hymns to thee belong; Though lips are cold Whereon of old Thy beams all turn'd to worshipping and song! Lord of the dreadful bow, None triumph now for Python's death; But thou dost save From hungry grave The life that hangs upon a summer breath. Father of rosy day, No more thy clouds of incense rise; But waking flow'rs At morning hours, Give out their sweets to meet thee in the skies. God of the Delphic fame, No more thou listenest to hymns sublime; But they will leave On winds at eve, A solemn echo to the end of time. "
"It is not death, that sometime in a sigh This eloquent breath shall take its speechless flight; That sometime these bright stars, that now reply In sunlight to the sun, shall set in night; That this warm conscious flesh shall perish quite, And all life's ruddy springs forget to flow; That thoughts shall cease, and the immortal sprite Be lapped in alien clay and laid below; It is not death to know this,--but to know That pious thoughts, which visit at new graves In tender pilgrimage, will cease to go So duly and so oft,--and when grass waves Over the past-away, there may be then No resurrection in the minds of men. "
"Flowers - I will not have the mad Clytie, Whose head is turned by the sun; The tulip is a courtly queen, Whom, therefore, I will shun; The cowslip is a country wench, The violet is a nun; - But I will woo the dainty rose, The queen of everyone. The pea is but a wanton witch, In too much haste to wed, And clasps her rings on every hand The wolfsbane I should dread; - Nor will I dreary rosemary That always mourns the dead; - But I will woo the dainty rose, With her cheeks of tender red. The lily is all in white, like a saint, And so is no mate for me - And the daisy's cheek is tipped with blush, She is of such low degree; Jasmine is sweet, and has many loves, And the broom's betrothed to the bee; - But I will plight with the dainty rose, For fairest of all is she. "
"Let us make a leap, my dear, In our love, of many a year, And date it very far away, On a bright clear summer day, When the heart was like a sun To itself, and falsehood none; And the rosy lips a part Of the very loving heart, And the shining of the eye But a sign to know it by;— When my faults were all forgiven, And my life deserved of Heaven. Dearest, let us reckon so, And love for all that long ago; Each absence count a year complete, And keep a birthday when we meet. "
"Is there a bitter pang for love removed, O God! The dead love doth not cost more tears Than the alive, the loving, the beloved— Not yet, not yet beyond all hopes and fears! Would I were laid Under the shade Of the calm grave, and the long grass of years,— That love might die with sorrow:—I am sorrow; And she, that loves me tenderest, doth press Most poison from my cruel lips, and borrow Only new anguish from the old caress; Oh, this world's grief Hath no relief In being wrung from a great happiness. Would I had never filled thine eyes with love, For love is only tears: would I had never Breathed such a curse-like blessing as we prove; Now, if 'Farewell' could bless thee, I would sever! Would I were laid Under the shade Of the cold tomb, and the long grass forever! "
"Midnight - Unfathomable Night! how dost thou sweep Over the flooded earth, and darkly hide The mighty city under thy full tide; Making a silent palace for old Sleep, Like his own temple under the hush'd deep, Where all the busy day he doth abide, And forth at the late dark, outspreadeth wide His dusky wings, whence the cold waters sweep! How peacefully the living millions lie! Lull'd unto death beneath his poppy spells; There is no breath—no living stir—no cry No tread of foot—no song—no music-call— Only the sound of melancholy bells— The voice of Time—survivor of them all! "
"My heart is sick with longing, tho' I feed On hope; Time goes with such a heavy pace That neither brings nor takes from thy embrace, As if he slept—forgetting his old speed: For, as in sunshine only we can read The march of minutes on the dial's face, So in the shadows of this lonely place There is no love, and Time is dead indeed. But when, dear lady, I am near thy heart, Thy smile is time, and then so swift it flies, It seems we only meet to tear apart, With aching hands and lingering of eyes. Alas, alas! that we must learn hours' flight By the same light of love that makes them bright! "
"Ode to Autumn - I saw old Autumn in the misty morn Stand shadowless like Silence, listening To silence, for no lonely bird would sing Into his hollow ear from woods forlorn, Nor lowly hedge nor solitary thorn; Shaking his languid locks all dewy bright With tangled gossamer that fell by night, Pearling his coronet of golden corn. Where are the songs of Summer?—With the sun, Opening the dusky eyelids of the south, Till shade and silence waken up as one, And Morning sings with a warm odorous mouth. Where are the merry birds?—Away, away, On panting wings through the inclement skies, Lest owls should prey Undazzled at noon-day, And tear with horny beak their lustrous eyes. Where are the blooms of Summer?—In the west, Blushing their last to the last sunny hours. When the mild Eve by sudden Night is prest Like tearful Proserpine, snatch'd from her flow'rs To a most gloomy breast. Where is the pride of Summer,—the green prime,— The many, many leaves all twinkling?—Three On the moss'd elm; three on the naked lime Trembling,—and one upon the old oak tree! Where is the Dryad's immortality?— Gone into mournful cypress and dark yew, Or wearing the long gloomy Winter through In the smooth holly's green eternity. The squirrel gloats on his accomplish'd hoard, The ants have brimm'd their garners with ripe grain, And honey been save stored The sweets of summer in their luscious cells; The swallows all have wing'd across the main; But here the Autumn melancholy dwells, And sighs her tearful spells Amongst the sunless shadows of the plain. Alone, alone, Upon a mossy stone, She sits and reckons up the dead and gone, With the last leaves for a love-rosary; Whilst all the wither'd world looks drearily, Like a dim picture of the drownëd past In the hush'd mind's mysterious far-away, Doubtful what ghostly thing will steal the last Into that distance, gray upon the gray. O go and sit with her, and be o'ershaded Under the languid downfall of her hair; She wears a coronal of flowers faded Upon her forehead, and a face of care;— There is enough of wither'd everywhere To make her bower,—and enough of gloom; There is enough of sadness to invite, If only for the rose that died, whose doom Is Beauty's,—she that with the living bloom Of conscious cheeks most beautifies the light: There is enough of sorrowing, and quite Enough of bitter fruits the earth doth bear,— Enough of chilly droppings from her bowl; Enough of fear and shadowy despair, To frame her cloudy prison for the soul! "
"Ode to Melancholy - Come, let us set our careful breasts, Like Philomel, against the thorn, To aggravate the inward grief, That makes her accents so forlorn; The world has many cruel points, Whereby our bosoms have been torn, And there are dainty themes of grief, In sadness to outlast the morn,— True honor's dearth, affection's death, Neglectful pride, and cankering scorn, With all the piteous tales that tears Have water'd since the world was born. The world!—it is a wilderness, Where tears are hung on every tree; For thus my gloomy phantasy Makes all things weep with me! Come let us sit and watch the sky, And fancy clouds, where no clouds be; Grief is enough to blot the eye, And make heaven black with misery. Why should birds sing such merry notes, Unless they were more blest than we? No sorrow ever chokes their throats, Except sweet nightingale; for she Was born to pain our hearts the more With her sad melody. Why shines the Sun, except that he Makes gloomy nooks for Grief to hide, And pensive shades for Melancholy, When all the earth is bright beside? Let clay wear smiles, and green grass wave, Mirth shall not win us back again, Whilst man is made of his own grave, And fairest clouds but gilded rain! I saw my mother in her shroud, Her cheek was cold and very pale; And ever since I've look'd on all As creatures doom'd to fail! Why do buds ope except to die? Ay, let us watch the roses wither, And think of our loves' cheeks; And oh! how quickly time doth fly To bring death's winter hither! Minutes, hours, days, and weeks, Months, years, and ages, shrink to nought; An age past is but a thought! Ay, let us think of Him awhile That, with a coffin for a boat, Rows daily o'er the Stygian moat, And for our table choose a tomb: There's dark enough in any skull To charge with black a raven plume; And for the saddest funeral thoughts A winding-sheet hath ample room, Where Death, with his keen-pointed style, Hath writ the common doom. How wide the yew-tree spreads its gloom, And o'er the dead lets fall its dew, As if in tears it wept for them, The many human families That sleep around its stem! How cold the dead have made these stones, With natural drops kept ever wet! Lo! here the best—the worst—the world Doth now remember or forget, Are in one common ruin hurl'd, And love and hate are calmly met; The loveliest eyes that ever shone, The fairest hands, and locks of jet. Is't not enough to vex our souls, And fill our eyes, that we have set Our love upon a rose's leaf, Our hearts upon a violet? Blue eyes, red cheeks, are frailer yet; And sometimes at their swift decay Beforehand we must fret. The roses bud and bloom, again; But Love may haunt the grave of Love, And watch the mould in vain. O clasp me, sweet, whilst thou art mine, And do not take my tears amiss; For tears must flow to wash away A thought that shows so stern as this: Forgive, if somewhile I forget, In woe to come, the present bliss; As frighted Proserpine let fall Her flowers at the sight of Dis, Ev'n so the dark and bright will kiss. The sunniest things throw sternest shade, And there is ev'n a happiness That makes the heart afraid! Now let us with a spell invoke The full-orb'd moon to grieve our eyes; Not bright, not bright, but, with a cloud Lapp'd all about her, let her rise All pale and dim, as if from rest The ghost of the late-buried sun Had crept into the skies. The Moon! she is the source of sighs, The very face to make us sad; If but to think in other times The same calm quiet look she had, As if the world held nothing base, Of vile and mean, of fierce and bad; The same fair light that shone in streams, The fairy lamp that charmed the lad; For so it is, with spent delights She taunts men's brains, and makes them mad. All things are touch'd with Melancholy, Born of the secret soul's mistrust, To feel her fair ethereal wings Weigh'd down with vile degraded dust; Even the bright extremes of joy Bring on conclusions of disgust, Like the sweet blossoms of the May, Whose fragrance ends in must. O give her, then, her tribute just, Her sighs and tears, and musings holy; There is no music in the life That sounds with idiot laughter solely; There's not a string attuned to mirth, But has its chord in Melancholy. "
"Alas, where is this worldes stablenesse? Here up, here doun; here honour, here repreef; [reproof] Now whole, now sick; now bounty, now mischief."
"And there is even a happiness that makes the heart afraid. There’s not a string attuned to mirth but has its chord in melancholy."
"And ye, who have met with Adversity's blast, And been bow'd to the earth by its fury; To whom the Twelve Months, that have recently pass'd Were as harsh as a prejudiced jury — Still, fill to the Future! and join in our chime, The regrets of remembrance to cozen, And having obtained a New Trial of Time, Shout in hopes of a kindlier dozen."
"Boughs are daily rifled by the gusty thieves, and the book of Nature getteth short of leaves."
"Ben Battle was a soldier bold, and used to war’s alarms; but a cannon-ball took off his legs, so he laid down his arms."
"Each cloud-capt mountain is a holy altar; an organ breathes in every grove; and the full heart ’s a Psalter, rich in deep hymn of gratitude and love."
"Heaven gives our days of failing strength indemnifying fleetness and those of youth a seeming length proportioned to their sweetness."
"I remember, I remember the house where I was born, the little window where the sun came peeping in at morn: it never came a minute too soon nor brought too long a day. I remember, I remember… I remember, I remember the fir-trees dark and high; I used to think their slender tops were close against the sky; it was a childish ignorance, but now ’t is little joy to know I ’m farther off from heaven than when I was a boy. I remember, I remember."
"His death, which happened in his berth, at forty-odd befell: they went and told the sexton, and the sexton tolled the bell."
"How widely its agencies vary,— to save, to ruin, to curse, to bless,— as even its minted coins express, now stamped with the image of Good Queen Bess, and now of a Bloody Mary."
"I saw old Autumn in the misty morn stand shadowless like silence, listening to silence. Peace and rest at length have come all the day’s long toil is past, and each heart is whispering, “Home, home at last.”"
"Lives of great men oft remind us as we o'er their pages turn, that we too may leave behind us —Letters that we ought to burn."
"If that the men that lovers them pretende to women weren faithful, good, and true, and dreaden them to deceive and offende, women to love them woulde not eschew; but every day hath man an hearte new it upon one abide can no while. What force is it, such one for to beguile?"