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Frail as the leaf in Autumn's yellow bower,
Dust in the wind, or dew upon the flower!
A friendless slave, a child without a sire,
Whose mortal life, and momentary fire,
Lights to the grave his chance-created form,
As ocean-wrecks illuminate the storm;
And, when the gun's tremendous flash is o'er,
To Night and Silence sink for ever more!
Are these the pompous tidings ye proclaim,
Lights of the world, and demi-gods of Fame?
Is this your triumph--this your proud applause,
Children of Truth, and champions of her cause?
For this hath Science search’d, on weary wing,
By shore and sea--each mute and living thing!
Launch'd with Iberia's pilot from the steep,
To worlds unknown, and isles beyond the deep?
Or round the cope her living chariot driv'n,
And wheel'd in triumph through the signs of Heav'n?
Oh! star-ey'd Science, hast thou wander'd there, 325
To waft us home the message of despair?
Then bind the palm, thy sage's brow to suit,
Of blasted leaf, and death-distilling fruit!
Ah me! the laurel'd wreath that murder rears,
Blood-nurs’d, and water'd by the widow's tears,
Seems not so foul, so tainted, and so dread,
As waves the night-shade round the sceptic head.
What is the bigot's torch, the tyrant's chain?
I smile on death, if Heav'n-ward Hope remain!
But, if the warring winds of Nature's strife
Be all the faithless charter of my life,
Doom'd o'er the world's precarious scene to sweep,
Swift as the tempest travels on the deep,
To know Delight but by her parting smile,
And toil, and wish, and weep, a little while;
Then melt, ye elements, that form'd in vain
This troubled pulse, and visionary brain!
Fade, ye wild flowers, memorials of my doom!
And sink, ye stars, that light me to the tomb!
Truth, ever lovely, since the world began,
The foe of tyrants, and the friend of mån,-
How can thy words from balmy slumber start
Reposing Virtue, pillow'd on the heart!
Yet, if thy voice the note of thunder rollid,
And that were true which Nature never told,
Let Wisdom smile not on her conquer'd field;
No rapture dawns, no treasure is reveal'd!
Oh! let her read, nor loudly, nor elate,
The doom that bars us from a better fate;
But, sad as angels for the good man's sin,
Weep to record, and blush to give it in!
And well may Doubt, the mother of Dismay,
Pause at her martyr's tomb, and read the lay,
Down by the wilds of yon deserted vale,
It darkly hints a melancholy tale!
There, as the homeless madman sits alone,
In hollow winds he hears a spirit moan!
And there, they say, a wizard orgie crowds, 365
When the moon lights her watch-tower in the clouds.
Poor, lost Alonzo! Fate's neglected child!
Mild be the doom of Heav'n-as thou wert mild!
For oh! thy heart in holy mould was cast,
And all thy deeds were blameless, but the last. 370
Poor, lost Alonzo! still I seem to hear
The clod that struck thy hollow-sounding bier!
When Friendship paid, in speechless sorrow drown’d,
Thy midnight rites, but not on hallow'd ground!
Cease, every joy, to glimmer on my mind, But leave-oh! leave the light of Hope behind!
What though my winged hours of bliss have been,
Like angel-visits, few, and far between!
Her musing mood shall every pang appease,
Andcharm-when pleasures lose the power to please! 380