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In folds of the green serpent, feels her breast
Burn with the poison, and precipitates

Through night and day, tempest, and calm and cloud,
Frantic with dizzying anguish, her blind flight
O'er the wide aery wilderness: thus driven
By the bright shadow of that lovely dream,
Beneath the cold glare of the desolate night,
Through tangled swamps and deep precipitous dells,
Startling with careless step the moon-light snake,
He fled.-Red morning dawn'd upon his flight.
Shedding the mockery of its vital hues

Upon his cheek of death. He wandered on,
Till vast Aornos seen from Petra's steep
Hung o'er the low horizon like a cloud;
Through Balk, and where the desolated tombs
Of Parthian kings scatter to every wind
Their wasting dust, wildly he wander'd on,
Day after day, a weary waste of hours,
Bearing within his life the brooding care
That ever fed on its decaying flame.

And now his limbs were lean; his scatter'd hair,
Sered by the autumn of strange suffering,
Sung dirges in the wind; his listless hand
Hung like dead bone within its wither'd skin;
Life, and the lustre that consumed it, shone
As in a furnace burning secretly
From his dark eyes alone. The cottagers,
Who moisten'd with human charity
His human wants, beheld with wondering awe
Their fleeting visitant. The mountaineer,
Encountering on some dizzy precipice

That spectral form, deem'd that the Spirit of wind,
With lightning eyes, and eager breath, and feet
Disturbing not the drifted snow, had paused

In his career.

The infant would conceal

His troubled visage in his mother's robe,
In terror at the glare of those wild eyes,

To remember their strange light in many a dream
Of after-times: but youthful maidens taught
By nature, would interpret half the woe
That wasted him, would call him with false names
Brother, and friend, would press his pallid hand
At parting, and watch, dim through tears, the path
Of his departure from their father's door.

At length upon the lone Chorasmian shore
He paused, a wide and melancholy waste
Of putrid marshes-a strong impulse urged
His steps to the sea-shore. A swan was there
Beside a sluggish stream among the reeds.
It rose as he approach'd, and with strong wings
Scaling the upward sky, bent its bright course
High over the immeasurable main.

His eyes pursued its flight: - Thou hast a home,
Beautiful bird! thou voyagest to thine home,
Where thy sweet mate will twine her downy neck
With thine, and welcome thy return with eyes
Bright in the lustre of their own fond joy.
And what am I that I should linger here,
With voice far sweeter than thy dying notes,
Spirit more vast than thine, frame more attuned
To beauty, wasting these surpassing powers
In the deaf air, to the blind earth, and heaven,
That echoes not my thoughts? A gloomy smile
Of desperate hope wrinkled his quivering lips.
For sleep, he knew, kept most relentlessly

Its precious charge, and silent death exposed,
Faithless perhaps as sleep, a shadowy lure,
With doubtful smile mocking its own strange charms.

Startled by his own thoughts he look'd around.
There was no fair fiend near him, not a sight
Or sound of awe but in his own deep mind.
A little shallop floating near the shore
Caught the impatient wandering of his gaze.
It had been long abandon'd, for its sides
Gaped wide with many a rift, and its frail joints
Sway'd with the undulations of the tide.

A restless impulse urged him to embark,
And meet lone Death on the drear ocean's waste;
For well he knew that mighty Shadow loves
The slimy caverns of the populous deep.

The day was fair and sunny: sea and sky
Drank its inspiring radiance, and the wind
Swept strongly from the shore, blackening the waves.
Following his eager soul, the wanderer

Leap'd in the boat, he spread his cloak aloft
On the bare mast, and took his lonely seat,
And felt the boat speed o'er the tranquil sea
Like a torn cloud before the hurricane.

As one that in a silver vision floats
Obedient to the sweep of odorous winds
Upon resplendent clouds, so rapidly
Along the dark and ruffled waters fled
The straining boat.-A whirlwind swept it on,
With fierce gusts and precipitating force,
Through the white ridges of the chafed sea.
The waves arose. Higher and higher still

Their fierce necks writhed beneath the tempest's scourge,
Like serpents struggling in a vulture's grasp.

Calm and rejoicing in the fearful war

Of wave running on wave, and blast on blast
Descending, and black flood on whirlpool driven
With dark obliterating course, he sate:
As if their genii were the ministers
Appointed to conduct him to the light
Of those beloved eyes, the Poet sate
Holding the steady helm. Evening came on,
The beams of sunset hung their rainbow hues
High 'mid the shifting domes of sheeted spray
That canopied his path o'er the waste deep;
Twilight, ascending slowly from the east,
Entwined in duskier wreaths her braided locks
O'er the fair front and radiant eyes of day;
Night follow'd, clad with stars. On every side
More horribly the multitudinous streams
Of ocean's mountainous waste to mutual war
Rush'd in dark tumult thundering, as to mock
The calm and spangled sky. The little boat
Still fled before the storm; still fled, like foam
Down the steep cataract of a wintry river;
Now pausing on the edge of the riven wave;
Now leaving far behind the bursting mass
That fell, convulsing ocean. Safely fled-
As if that frail and wasted human form
Had been an elemental god.

At midnight The moon arose and lo! he ethereal cliffs Of Caucasus, whose icy summits shone

Among the stars like sunlight, and around
Whose cavern'd base the whirlpools and the waves
Bursting and eddying irresistibly

Rage and resound for ever.-Who shall save?
The boat fled on,-the boiling torrent drove,—
The crags
closed round with black and jagged arms,
The shatter'd mountain overhung the sea,
And faster still, beyond all human speed,
Suspended on the sweep of the smooth wave,
The little boat was driven. A cavern there
Yawn'd, and amid its slant and winding depths
Ingulf'd the rushing sea. The boat fled on
With unrelaxing speed.
The Poet cried aloud,
The path of thy departure.
Shall not divide us long..

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Vision and Love!»>

I have beheld

Sleep and death

The boat pursued

The windings of the cavern.-Day-light shone
At length upon that gloomy river's flow;
Now, where the fiercest war among the waves
Is calm, on the unfathomable stream

The boat moved slowly. Where the mountain riven
Exposed those black depths to the azure sky,
Ere yet the flood's enormous volume fell
Even to the base of Caucasus, with sound
That shook the everlasting rocks, the mass
Fill'd with one whirlpool all that ample chasm;
Stair above stair the eddying waters rose,
Circling immeasurably fast, and laved
With alternating dash the gnarl'd roots

Of mighty trees, that stretch'd their giant arms
In darkness over it. I the midst was left,
Reflecting, yet distorting every cloud,

A pool of treacherous and tremendous calm.
Seized by the sway of the ascending stream,

With dizzy swiftness, round, and round, and round,
Ridge after ridge the straining boat arose,

Till on the verge of the extremest curve,

Where through an opening of the rocky bank
The waters overflow, and a smooth spot

Of glassy quiet mid those battling tides

Is left, the boat paused shuddering. Shall it sink
Down the abyss? Shall the reverting stress
Of that resistless gulf embosom it?

Now shall it fall? A wandering stream of wind,
Breathed from the west, has caught the expanded sail,
And, lo! with gentle motion between banks
Of mossy slope, and on a placid stream,
Beneath a woven grove, it sails, and, hark!
The ghastly torrent mingles its far roar

With the breeze murmuring in the musical woods.
Where the embowering trees recede, and leave
A little space of green expanse, the cove

Is closed by meeting banks, whose yellow flowers
Forever gaze on their own drooping eyes,
Reflected in the crystal calm. The wave
Of the boat's motion marr'd their pensive task,
Which nought but vagrant bird, or wanton wind,
Or falling spear-grass, or their own decay
Had e'er disturb'd before. The Poet long'd
To deck with their bright hues his wither'd hair,
But on his heart its solitude return'd,
And he forebore. Not the strong impulse hid

In those flush'd cheeks, bent eyes, and shadowy frame,
Had yet perform'd its ministry: it hung

Upon his life, as lightning in a cloud
Gleams, hovering ere it vanish, ere the floods
Of night close over it.

The noonday sun

Now shone upon the forest, one vast mass
Of mingling shade, whose brown magnificence
A narrow vale embosoms. There, huge caves,
Scoop'd in the dark base of those aery rocks,
Mocking its moans, respond and roar for ever.
The meeting boughs and implicated leaves
Wove twilight o'er the Poet's path, as led
By love, or dream, or god, or mightier Death,
He sought in Nature's dearest haunt, some bank,
Her cradle, and his sepulchre. More dark
And dark the shades accumulate-the oak,
Expanding its immeasurable arms,
Embraces the light beech. The pyramids
Of the tall cedar overarching, frame
Most solemn domes within, and far below,
Like clouds suspended in an emerald sky,
The ash and the acacia floating hang
Tremulous and pale. Like restless serpents, clothed
In rainbow and in fire, the parasites,
Starr'd with ten thousand blossoms, flow around
The grey trunks, and as gamesome infants' eyes,
With gentle meanings, and most innocent wiles,
Fold their beams round the hearts of those that love,
These twine their tendrils with the wedded boughs,
Uniting their close union; the woven leaves
Make net-work of the dark blue light of day,
And the night's noontide clearness, mutable

As shapes in the wierd clouds. Soft mossy lawns
Beneath these canopies extend their swells,
Fragrant with perfumed herbs, and eyed with blooms
Minute yet beautiful. One darkest glen

Sends from its woods of musk-rose, twined with jasmine,
A soul-dissolving odour, to invite

To some more lovely mystery. Through the dell,
Silence and Twilight here, twin-sisters, keep
Their noonday watch, and sail among the shades
Like vaporous shapes half seen; beyond, a well,
Dark, gleaming, and of most translucent wave,
Images all the woven boughs above,
And each depending leaf, and every speck
Of azure sky, darting between their chasms;
Nor aught else in the liquid mirror laves
Its portraiture, but some inconstant star
Between one foliaged lattice twinkling fair,
Or, painted bird, sleeping beneath the moon,
Or gorgeous insect floating motionless,
Unconscious of the day, ere yet his wings
Have spread their glories to the gaze of noon.

Hither the Poet came. His eyes beheld
Their own wan light through the reflected lines
Of his thin hair, distinct in the dark depth
Of that still fountain; as the human heart,
Gazing in dreams over the gloomy grave,
Sees its own treacherous likeness there. He heard
The motion of the leaves, the grass that sprung
Startled and glanced and trembled even to feel
An unaccustom'd presence, and the sound
Of the sweet brook that from the secret springs
Of that dark fountain rose. A Spirit seem'd
To stand beside him-clothed in no bright robes

Of shadowy silver or enshrining light,
Borrow'd from aught the visible world affords
Of grace, or majesty, or mystery;—
But undulating woods, and silent well,
And reaping rivulet, and evening gloom

Now deepening the dark shades, for speech assuming
Held commune with him, as if he and it
Were all that was,-only-when his regard
Was raised by intense pensiveness-two eyes,
Two starry eyes, hung in the gloom of thought,
And seem'd with their serene and azure smiles
To beckon him.

Obedient to the light

That shone within his soul, he went, pursuing
The windings of the dell.-The rivulet
Wanton and wild, through many a green ravine
Beneath the forest flow'd. Sometimes it fell
Among the moss with hollow harmony

Dark and profound. Now on the polish'd stones
It danced, like childhood laughing as it went :
Then through the plain in tranquil wanderings crep',
Reflecting every herb and drooping bud
That overhung its quietness.—« O stream!
Whose source is inaccessibly profound,
Whither do thy mysterious waters tend?
Thou imagest my life. Thy darksome stillness,
Thy dazzling waves, thy loud and hollow gulfs,
Thy searchless fountain and invisible course
Have each their type in me: And the wide sky,
And measureless ocean may declare as soon
What oozy cavern or what wandering cloud
Contains thy waters, as the universe

Tell where these living thoughts reside, when stretch'd
Upon thy flowers my bloodless limbs shall waste
I' the passing wind!

Beside the grassy shore

Of the small stream he went; he did impress
On the green moss his tremulous step, that caught
Strong shuddering from his burning limbs. As one
Roused by some joyous madness from the couch
Of fever, he did move; yet, not like him,
Forgetful of the grave, where, when the flame
Of his frail exultation shall be spent,

He must descend. With rapid steps he went
Beneath the shade of trees, beside the flow
Of the wild babbling rivulet; and now
The forest's solemn canopies were changed
For the uniform and lightsome evening sky.
Grey rocks did peep from the spare moss, and stemm'd
The struggling brook: tall spires of windle-strae
Threw their thin shadows down the rugged slope,
And nought but gnarled roots of ancient pines,
Branchless and blasted, clench'd with grasping roots
The unwilling soil. A gradual change was here,
Yet ghastly. For, as fast
years flow
The smooth brow gathers, and the air grows
And white; and where irradiate dewy eyes
Had shone, gleam stony orbs: so from his steps
Bright flowers departed, and the beautiful shade
Of the green groves, with all their odorous winds
And musical motions. Calm, he still pursued
The stream, that with a larger volume now
Roll'd through the labyrinthine dell; and there
Fretted a path through its descending curves


With its wintry speed. On every side now rose
Rocks, which, in unimaginable forms,
Lifted their black and barren pinnacles
In the light of evening, and its precipice
Obscuring the ravine, disclosed above,
'Mid toppling stones, black gulfs, and yawning caves,
Whose windings gave ten thousand various tongues
To the loud stream. Lo! Where the pass expands
Its stony jaws, the abrupt mountain breaks,
And seems, with its accumulated crags,
To overhang the world: for wide expand
Beneath the wan stars and descending moon
Islanded seas, blue mountains, mighty streams,
Dim tracts and vast, robed in the lustrous gloom
Of leaden-colour'd even, and fiery hills
Mingling their flames with twilight, on the verge
Of the remote horizon. The near scene,
In naked and severe simplicity,

Made contrast with the universe. A pine,
Rock-rooted, stretch'd athwart the vacancy
Its swinging boughs, to each inconstant blast
Yielding one only response at each pause,
In most familiar cadence, with the howl
The thunder and the hiss of homeless streams
Mingling its solemn song, whilst the broad river,
Foaming and hurrying o'er its rugged path,
Fell into that immeasurable void
Scattering its waters to the passing winds.

Yet the grey precipice, and solemn pine And torrent, were not all;-one silent nook Was there. Even on the edge of that vast mountain, Upheld by knotty roots and fallen rocks,

It overlook'd in its serenity

The dark earth, and the bending vault of stars.
It was a tranquil spot, that seem'd to smile
Even in the lap of horror. Ivy clasp'd
The fissured stones with its entwining arms,
And did embower with leaves for ever green,
And berries dark, the smooth and even space
Of its inviolated floor; and here

The children of the autumnal whirlwind bore,
In wanton sport, those bright leaves, whose decay,
Red, yellow, or etherially pale,
Rival the pride of summer.

'T is the haunt

Of every gentle wind, whose breath can teach
The wilds to love tranquillity. One step,
One human step alone, has ever broken
The stillness of its solitude :-one voice
Alone inspired its echoes ;-even that voice
Which hither came, floating among the winds,
And led the loveliest among human forms
To make their wild haunts the depository
Of all the grace and beauty that endued
Its motions, render up its majesty,
Scatter its music on the unfeeling storm,
And to the damp leaves and blue cavern mould,
Nurses of rainbow flowers and branching moss,
Commit the colours of that varying cheek,
That snowy breast, those dark and drooping eyes.

The dim and horned moon hung low, and pour'd A sea of lustre on the horizon's verge That overflow'd its mountains. Yellow mist Fill'd the unbounded atmosphere, and drank Wan moonlight even to fullness: not a star

Shone, not a sound was heard; the very winds,
Danger's grim playmates, on that precipice
Slept, clasp'd in his embrace.-O, storm of death!
Whose sightless speed divides this sullen night:
And thou, colossal Skeleton, that, still
Guiding its irresistible career

In thy devastating omnipotence,

Art King of this frail world, from the red field
Of slaughter, from the reeking hospital,
The patriot's sacred couch, the snowy bed
Of innocence, the scaffold and the throne,
A mighty voice invokes thee. Ruin calls
His Brother Death.

A rare and regal prey

He hath prepared, prowling around the world;
Glutted with which thou mayest repose, and men
Go to their graves like flowers or creeping worms,
Nor ever more offer at thy dark shrine
The unheeded tribute of a broken heart.

When on the threshold of the green recess
The wanderer's footsteps fell, he knew that death
Was on him. Yet a little, ere it fled,
Did he resign his high and holy soul
To images of the majestic past,

That paused within his passive being now,

Like winds that bear sweet music, when they breathe
Through some dim latticed chamber. He did place
His pale lean hand upon the rugged trunk
Of the old pine. Upon an ivied stone
Reclined his languid head; his limbs did rest,
Diffused and motionless, on the smooth brink
Of that obscurest chasm;-and thus he lay,
Surrendering to their final impulses

The hovering powers of life. Hope and Despair,
The torturers, slept: no mortal pain or fear
Marr'd his
the influxes of sense,
And his own being unalloy'd by pain,
Yet feebler and more feeble, calmly fed


The stream of thought, till he lay breathing there
and faintly smiling:-his last sight
Was the great moon, which o'er the western line
Of the wide world her mighty horn suspended,
With whose dun beams inwoven darkness seem'd
To mingle. Now upon the jagged hills
It rests, and still as the divided frame
Of the vast meteor sunk, the Poet's blood,
That ever beat in mystic sympathy

With nature's ebb and flow, grew feebler still:
And when two lessening points of light alone
Gleam'd through the darkness, the alternate gasp
Of his faint respiration scarce did stir
The stagnate night:-till the minutest ray
Was quench'd, the pulse yet linger'd in his heart.
It paused-it flutter'd. But when heaven remain'd
Utterly black, the murky shades involved
An image, silent, cold, and motionless,
As their own voiceless earth and vacant air.
Even as a vapour fed with golden beams

That minister'd on sunlight, ere the west
Eclipses it, was now that wondrous frame-
No sense, no motion, no divinity-

A fragile lute, on whose harmonious strings
The breath of heaven did wander-a bright stream
Once fed with many-voiced waves-a dream

Of youth, which night and time have quench'd for ever, Still, dark, and dry, and unremember'd now.

O, for Medea's wondrous alchymy,
Which wheresoe'er it fell made the earth gleam
With bright flowers, and the wintry boughs exhale
From vernal blooms fresh fragrance! O, that God,
Profuse of poisons, would concede the chalice
Which but one living man has drain'd, who now,
Vessel of deathless wrath, a slave that feels
No proud exemption in the blighting curse
He bears, over the world wanders for ever,
Lone as incarnate death! O, that the dream
Of dark magician in his vision'd cave,
Raking the cinders of a crucible

For life and power, even when his feeble hand
Shakes in its last decay, were the true law
Of this so lovely world! But thou art fled
Like some frail exhalation, which the dawn
Robes in its golden beams,-ah! thou hast fled !
The brave, the gentle, and the beautiful,
The child of grace and genius. Heartless things
Are done and said i' the world, and many worms
And beasts and men live on, and mighty Earth
From sea and mountain, city and wilderness,
In vesper low or joyous orison,

Lifts still its solemn voice:-but thou art fled-
Thou canst no longer know or love the shapes
Of this phantasmal scene, who have to thee
Been purest ministers, who are,
Now thou art not. Upon those pallid lips
So sweet even in their silence, on those eyes
That image sleep in death, upon that form
Yet safe from the worm's outrage, let no tear
Be shed-not even in thought. Nor, when those hues
gone, and those divinest lineaments,
Worn by the senseless wind, shall live alone
In the frail pauses of this simple strain,
Let not high verse, mourning the memory
Of that which is no more, or painting's woe
Or sculpture, speak in feeble imagery
Their own cold powers. Art and eloquence,
And all the shows o' the world are frail and vain
To weep a loss that turns their light to shade.
It is a woe too «< deep for tears, when all
Is reft at once, when some surpassing Spirit,
Whose light adorn'd the world around it, leaves
Those who remain behind, nor sobs nor groans,
The passionate tumult of a clinging hope;
But pale despair and cold tranquillity,
Nature's vast frame, the web of human things,
Birth and the grave, that are not as they were.

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Rosalind and Helen;



THE story of ROSALIND AND HELEN is, undoubtedly, not
an attempt in the highest style of poetry. It is in no de-
gree calculated to excite profound meditation; and if,
by interesting the affections and amusing the imagina-
tion, it awaken a certain ideal melancholy favourable
to the reception of more important impressions, it will
produce in the reader all that the writer experienced in
the composition. I resigned myself, as I wrote, to the
impulse of the feelings which moulded the conception
of the story; and this impulse determined the pauses
a measure, which only pretends to be regular inasmuch
as it corresponds with, and expresses, the irregularity of
the imaginations which inspired it.

Naples, Dec. 20, 1818.


SCENE.-The Shore of the Lake of Como. ROSALIND, HELEN, and her Child.


COME hither, my sweet Rosalind.
'T is long since thou and I have met;
And yet methinks it were unkind
Those moments to forget.
Come, sit by me. I see thee stand
By this lone lake, in this far land,
Thy loose hair in the light wind flying,
Thy sweet voice to each tone of even
United, and thine eyes replying
To the hues of yon fair heaven.
Come, gentle friend! wilt sit by me?
And be as thou wert wont to be
Ere we were disunited?

None doth behold us now: the power
That led us forth at this lone hour
Will be but ill requited

If thou depart in scorn: oh! come,
And talk of our abandon'd home.
Remember, this is Italy,

And we are exiles. Talk with me
Of that our land, whose wilds and floods,
Barren and dark although they be,
Were dearer than these chesnut woods;
Those heathy paths, that inland stream,
And the blue mountains, shapes which seem
Like wrecks of childhood's sunny dream:
Which that we have abandon'd now,
Weighs on the heart like that remorse
Which alter'd friendship leaves. I seek
No more our youthful intercourse.
That cannot be! Rosalind, speak,

Speak to me. Leave me not.-When morn did come,
When evening fell upon our common home,
When for one hour we parted,-do not frown:
I would not chide thee, though thy faith is broken;
But turn to me. Oh! by this cherish'd token,
Of woven hair, which thou wilt not disown,
Turn, as 't were but the memory of me,
And not my scorned self who pray'd to thee.


Is it a dream, or do I see


And hear frail Helen? I would flee
Thy tainting touch; but former
Arise, and bring forbidden tears;
And my o'erburthen'd memory
Seeks yet its lost repose in thee.

I share thy crime. I cannot chuse
But weep for thee: mine own strange grief
But seldom stoops to such relief;
Nor ever did I love thee less,

Though mourning o'er thy wickedness
Even with a sister's woe. I knew
What to the evil world is due,
And therefore sternly did refuse
To link me with the infamy
Of one so lost as Helen. Now
Bewilder'd by my dire despair,
Wondering I blush, and weep that thou
Shouldst love me still,-thou only!-There,
Let us sit on that grey stone,

Till our mournful talk be done.


Alas! not there; I cannot bear
The murmur of this lake to hear.
A sound from thee, Rosalind dear,
Which never yet I heard elsewhere
But in our native land, recurs,
Even here where now we meet. It stirs
Too much of suffocating sorrow!
In the dell of you dark chesnut wood
Is a stone seat, a solitude

Less like our own. The ghost of peace
Will not desert this spot. To-morrow,
If thy kind feelings should not cease,
We may sit here.

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