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So late from Heaven—that dew—it fell
('Mid dreams of an unholy night) Upon me with the touch of Hell,
While the red flashing of the light From clouds that hung, like banners, o'er,
Appear'd to my half-closing eye
The pageantry of monarchy,
Came hurriedly upon me, telling
My own voice, silly child ! — was swelling
The rain came down upon my head
It was but man, I thought, who shed
The torrent of the chilly air
Gurgled within my ear the crush
Of empires—with the captive's prayer,
The hum of suitors, and the tone
Of flattery round a sovereign's throne.
My passions, from that hapless hour,
Usurp'd a tyranny which men Have deem'd, since I have reach'd to power, My innate nature—be it so:
But, father, there lived one who, then, Then—in my boyhood—when their fire
Burn'd with a still intenser glow (For passion must with youth expire)
E'en then who knew this iron heart
In woman's weakness had a part.
I have no words, alas! to tell
Some page of early lore upon,
To fantasies—with none.
Oh, she was worthy of all love!
'Twas such as angel minds above
Might envy; her young heart the shrine On which my every hope and thought Were incense—then a goodly gift, For they were childish and upright — Pure as her young example taught: Why did I leave it, and, adrift, Trust to the fire within, for light?
We grew in age and love together,
My breast her shield in wintry weather;
And she would mark the opening skies,
I saw no Heaven but in her eyes.
Young Love's first lesson is the heart:
For 'mid that sunshine, and those smiles, When, from our little cares apart,
And laughing at her girlish wiles, I'd throw me on her throbbing breast,
And pour my spirit out in tears—
No need to quiet any fears
Yet more than worthy of the love
I had no being but in thee:
The world, and all it did contain In the earth, the air, the sea,
Its joy—its little lot of pain That was new pleasure, the ideal,
Dim, vanities of dreams by night, And dimmer nothings which were real—
(Shadows—and a more shadowy light!) Parted upon their misty wings, And, so, confusedly, became Thine image and—a name—a name! Two separate, yet most intimate things.
I was ambitious—have you known
The passion, father? You have not: A cottager, I mark'd a throne Of half the world as all my own,
And murmur'd at such lowly lot —
Bat, just like any other dream,
My own had past, did not the beam
Of beauty which did while it through
The minute, the hour, the day—oppress
My mind with double loveliness.
We walk'd together on the crown
Of a high mountain which look'd down
Afar from its proud natural towers
Of rock and forest, on the hills— The dwindled hills! begirt with bowers
And shouting with a thousand rills.