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Songs of the affections with other poems online

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SONGS OF THE AFFECTIONS,



OTHER POEMS.



BY FELICIA HEMANS.

tt' ') '



They tell but dreams a lonely spirit's dreams-
Yet ever through their fleeting imagery
Wanders a vein of melancholy love,
An aimless thought of home : as in the song
Of the caged skylark ye may deem there dwells
A passionate memory of blue skies and flowers,
And living streams far off I



WILLIAM BLACKWOOD, EDINBURGH; AND

T. CADELL, STRAND, LONDON.

MDCCCXXX.



EDINBURGH:

ED BY BALLANTYNE AND COMPANY,
PAUL'S WOKK, CANONGATE.



RIGHT HONOURABLE

SIR ROBERT LISTON,

AS A SLIGHT MEMORIAL OF
GRATEFUL RESPECT,

THIS VOLUME
IS AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED.



1253995



CONTENTS.



SONGS OF THE AFFECTIONS.

PAGE

A Spirit's Return, 3

The Lady of Provence, 18

The Coronation of Inez De Castro, , . .30
Italian Girl's Hymn to the Virgin, ... 36

To a Departed Spirit, ...... 40

The Chamois Hunter's Love, .... 43

The Indian with his Dead Child, . . . .48

Song of Emigration, 52

The King of Arragon's Lament for his Brother, . 56

The Return, 62

The Vaudois' Wife, ...... 65

The Guerilla Leader's Vow, ., ' . .71
Thekla at her Lover's Grave, . . . 75

The Sisters of Scio, ' . . . . . .78

Bernardo Del Carpio, . . . . . 81

The Tomb of Madame Langhans, .... 89

The Exile's Dirge, 92

The Dreaming Child, 96



il CONTENTS.

PAGE.

The Charmed Picture, 99

Parting Words, . . . . . . .102

The Message to the Dead, . . N . 105

The Two Homes, 109

The Soldier's Deathbed, 112

The Image in the Heart, 115

The Land of Dreams, 119

Woman on the Field of Battle, . . . . 123

The Deserted House, - . v . . .127

The Stranger's Heart, 131

Come Home, ...... 133

The Fountain of Oblirion, . . . . .135



-MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.

The Bridal Day, 141

The Ancestral Song, ....... 147

The Magic Glass, 152

Corinne at the Capitol, . . . . . 156

The Ruin 160

The Minster, . . * . . . 165

The Song of Night, 168

The Storm Painter in his Dungeon, . . . 172
Death and the Warrior, . . . . . .176



CONTENTS. Ill

PAGE.

The Two Voices, 179

The Parting Ship, 183

The Last Tree of the Forest,. . . . 187

The Streams, 191

The Voice of the Wind, 196

The Vigil of Arms, 201

The Heart of Bruce in Melrose Abbey, . . 205

Nature's Farewell, ....... 208

The Beings of the Mind, 212

The Lyre's Lament, 217

Tasso's Coronation, . . . . . 221

The Better Land, 225

The Wounded Eagle, 227

Sadness and Mirth, 230

The Nightingale's Death Song, .... 234

The Diver, 238

The Requiem of Genius, 242

Triumphant Music, .... . 246

Second Sight, 249

The Sea- Bird Flying Inland, 252

The Sleeper, 254

The Mirror in the Deserted Hall, .... 257



SONGS OF THE AFFECTIONS.



SONGS OF THE AFFECTIONS.



A SPIRIT'S RETURN.



This is to be a mortal,
And seek the things beyond mortality !

MANFRED.



EY voice prevails ; dear Friend, my gentle Friend !
This long-shut heart for thee shall be unseal'd,
And though thy soft eye mournfully will bend
Over the troubled stream, yet once reveal'd
Shall its freed waters flow ; then rocks must close
For evermore, above their dark repose.

Come while the gorgeous mysteries of the sky
Fused in the crimson sea of sunset lie ;



4 SONGS OF THE AFFECTIONS.

Come to the woods, where all strange wandering

sound

Is mingled into harmony profound ;
Where the leaves thrill with spirit, while the wind
Fills with a viewless heing, unconfined,
The tremhling reeds and fountains ; Our own dell,
With its green dimness and jEolian hreath,
Shall suit th' unveiling of dark records well
Hear me in tenderness and silent faith !

Thou knew'st me not in life's fresh vernal noon
I would thou hadst I for then my heart on thine
Had pour'd a worthier love ; now, all o'erworn
By its deep thirst for something too divine,
It hath but fitful music to bestow,
Echoes of harp-strings, broken long ago.

Yet even in youth companionless I stood,
As a lone forest-bird midst ocean's foam ;
For me the silver cords of brotherhood
Were early loosed ; the voices from my home



A SPIRIT'S RETURN. 5

Pass'd one by one, and Melody and Mirth
Left me a dreamer by a silent hearth.

But, with the fulness of a heart that burn'd
For the deep sympathies of mind, I turn'd
From that unanswering spot, and fondly sought
In all wild scenes with thrilling murmurs fraught,
In every still small voice and sound of power,
And flute- note of the wind through cave and bower,
A perilous delight ! for then first woke
My life's lone passion, the mysterious quest
Of secret knowledge ; and each tone that broke
From the wood-arches or the fountain's breast,
Making my quick soul vibrate as a lyre,
But minister'd to that strange inborn fire.

Midst the bright silence of the mountain-dells,
In noontide-hours or golden summer-eves,
My thoughts have burst forth as a gale that swells
Into a rushing blast, and from the leaves



SONGS OF THE AFFECTIONS.

Shakes out response ; O thou rich world unseen !
Thou curtain' d realm of spirits ! thus my cry
Hath troubled air and silence dost thou lie
Spread all around, yet by some filmy screen
Shut from us ever ? The resounding woods,
Do their depths teem with marvels ? and the floods,.
And the pure fountains, leading- secret veins
Of quenchless melody through rock and hill,
Have they bright dwellers ? are their lone domains
Peopled with beauty, which may never still
Our weary thirst of soul ? Cold, weak and cold,
Is Earth's vain language, piercing not one fold
Of our deep being ! Oh, for gifts more high !
For a seer's glance to rend mortality !
For a charm'd rod, to call from each dark shrine^
The oracles divine !

I woke from those high fantasies, to know
My kindred with the Earth I woke to love :
O, gentle Friend ! to love in doubt and woe,
Shutting the heart the worshipp'd name above,



A SPIRIT S RETURN. 7

Is to love deeply and my spirit's dower

Was a sad gift, a melancholy power

Of so adoring ; with a buried care,

And with the o'erflowing of a voiceless prayer,

And with a deepening dream, that day by day,

In the still shadow of its lonely sway,

Folded me closer ; till the world held nought

Save the one, Being to my centred thought.

There was no music but his voice to hear,

No joy but such as with his step drew near;

Light was but where he look'd life where he

moved

Silently, fervently, thus, thus I loved.
Oh ! but such love is fearful ! and I knew
Its gathering doom : the soul's prophetic sight
Even then unfolded in my breast, and threw
O'er all things round a full, strong, vivid light,
Too sorrowfully clear ! an under-tone
Was given to Nature's harp, for me alone
Whispering of grief. Of grief? be strong, awake !



8 SONGS OF THE AFFECTIONS.

Hath not thy love been victory, O, my soul ?
Hath not its conflict won a voice to shake
Death's fastnesses ? a magic to control
Worlds far removed ? from o'er the grave to thee
Love hath made answer ; and thy tale should he
Sung like a lay of triumph ! Now return,
And take thy treasure from its hosom'd urn,
And lift it once to light !

In fear, in pain,

I said I loved hut yet a heavenly strain
Of sweetness floated down the tearful stream,
A joy flash'd through the trouble of my dream !
I knew myself beloved ! we breathed no vow,
No mingling visions might our fate allow,
As unto happy hearts ; but still and deep,
Like a rich jewel gleaming in a grave,
Like golden sand in some dark river's wave,
So did my soul that costly knowledge keep
So jealously ! a thing o'er which to shed,
When stars alone beheld the drooping head,



A SPIRIT'S RETURN. 9

Lone tears ! yet ofttimes burden'd with the excess
Of our strange nature's quivering happiness.

But, oh ! sweet Friend ! we dream not of love's

might

Till Death has robed with soft and solemn light
The image we enshrine ! Before that hour,
We have hut glimpses of the o'ermastering power
Within us laid ! then doth the spirit-flame
With sword-like lightning rend its mortal frame ;
The wings of that which pants to follow fast
Shake their clay-bars, as with a prison'd blast,
The sea is in our souls !

He died, Jie died,

On whom my lone devotedness was cast !
I might not keep one vigil by his side,
/, whose wrung heart watch'd with him to the last !
I might not once his fainting head sustain,
Nor bathe his parch'd lips in the hour of pain,

A2



10 SONGS OF THE AFFECTIONS.

Nor say to him, " Farewell !" He pass'd away
Oh ! had my love been there, its conquering sway
Had won him back from death ! but thus removed,
Borne o'er the abyss no sounding- line hath proved,
Join'd with the unknown, the viewless, he became
Unto my thoughts another, yet the same
Changed hallo w'd glorified ! and his low grave
Seem'd a bright mournful altar mine, all mine I-
Brother and Friend soon left me that sole shrine,
The birthright of the Faithful ! their world's wave
Soon swept them from its brink. Oh! deem thou

not

That on the sad and consecrated spot
My soul grew weak ! I tell thee that a power
There kindled heart and lip ; a fiery shower
My words were made ; a might was given to prayer,
And a strong grasp to passionate despair,
And a dread triumph ! Know'st thou what I

sought ?
For what high boon my struggling spirit wrought ?



A SPIRIT'S RETURN. 1 1

Communion with the dead ! I sent a cry,

Through the veil'd empires of eternity,

A voice to cleave them ! By the mournful truth,

By the lost promise of my blighted youth,

By the strong chain a mighty love can hind

On the beloved, the spell of mind o'er mind ;

By words, which in themselves are magic high,

Arm'd, and inspired, and wing'd with agony ;

By tears, which comfort not, but burn, and seem

To bear the heart's blood in their passion-stream ;

I summon'd, I adjured ! with quicken' d sense,

With the keen vigil of a life intense,

I watch'd, an answer from the winds to wring,

I listen'd, if perchance the stream might bring

Token from worlds afar: I taught one sound

Unto a thousand echoes ; one profound

Imploring accent to the tomb, the sky ;

One prayer to night, " Awake, appear, reply!"

Hast thou been told that from the viewless bourne,
The dark way never hath allow' d return ?



12 SONGS OF THE AFFECTIONS.

That all, which tears can move, with life is fled,
That earthly love is powerless on the dead ?
Believe it not ! there is a large lone star,
Now burning o'er yon western hill afar,
And under its clear light there lies a spot,
Which well might utter forth Believe it not !

I sat beneath that planet, I had wept
My woe to stillness ; every night-wind slept ;
A hush was on the hills ; the very streams
Went by like clouds, or noiseless founts in dreams,
And the dark tree o'ershadowing me that hour,
Stood motionless, even as the grey church-tower
Whereon I gazed unconsciously : there came
A low sound, like the tremor of a flame,
Or like the light quick shiver of a wing,
Flitting through twilight woods, across the air ;
And I look'd up ! Oh ! for strong words to bring
Conviction o'er thy thought ! Before me there,
He, the Departed, stood ! Aye, face to face
So near, and yet how far ! his form, his mien,



A SPIRIT'S RETURN. 13

Gave to remembrance back each burning trace

Within : Yet something awfully serene,

Pure, sculpture-like, on the pale brow, that wore

Of the once beating heart no token more ;

And stillness on the lip and o'er the hair

A gleam, that trembled through the breathless air ;

And an unfathom'd calm, that seem'd to lie

In the grave sweetness of the illumined eye ;

Told of the gulfs between our being set,

And, as that unsheathed spirit-glance I met,

Made my soul faint : with fear 9 -Oh ! not with

fear I

With the sick feeling that in his far sphere
My love could be as nothing ! But he spoke
How shall I tell thee of the startling thrill
In that low voice, whose breezy tones could fill
My bosom's infinite ? O Friend, I woke
Then first to heavenly life ! Soft, solemn, clear,
Breathed the mysterious accents on mine ear,
Yet strangely seem'd as if the while they rose
From depths of distance, o'er the wide repose



14 SONGS OF THE AFFECTIONS.

Of slumbering waters wafted, or the dells

Of mountains, hollow with sweet echo-cells ;

But, as they murmur'd on, the mortal chill

Pass'd from me, like a mist before the morn,

And, to that glorious intercourse upborne,

By slow degrees, a calm, divinely still,

Possess'd my frame : I sought that lighted eye,

From its intense and searching purity

I drank in soul ! I question'd of the dead

Of the hush'd, starry shores their footsteps tread

And I was answer'd : if remembrance there,

With dreamy whispers fill the immortal air ;

If Thought, here piled from many a jewel-heap,

Be treasure in that pensive land to keep ;

If Love, o'ersweeping change, and blight, and blast,

Find there the music of his home at last ;

I ask'd, and I was answer'd : Full and high

Was that communion with eternity,

Too rich for aught so fleeting ! Like a knell

Swept o'er my sense its closing words, " Farewell;



A SPIRIT'S RETURN. lo

On earth we meet no more !" and all was gone
The pale bright settled brow the thrilling tone
The still and shining eye ! and never more
May twilight gloom or midnight hush restore
That radiant guest ! One full-fraught hour of

Heaven,

To earthly passion's wild implorings given,
Was made my own the ethereal fire hath shiver'd
The fragile censer in whose mould it quiver'd,
Brightly, consumingly ! What now is left ? .
A faded world, of glory's hues bereft,
A void, a chain ! I dwell, 'midst throngs, apart,
In the cold silence of the stranger's heart ;
A fix'd, immortal shadow stands between
My spirit and life's fast-receding scene ;
A gift hath sever' d me from human ties,
A power is gone from all earth's melodies,
Which never may return :-^-their chords are

broken-
The music of another land hath spoken,-
No after- sound is sweet I this weary thirst !



16 SONGS OP THE AFFECTIONS.

And I have heard celestial fountains burst I
What here shall quench it ?

Dost thou not rejoice,

When the spring sends forth an awakening voice
Through the young woods ? Thou dost ! And in

that birth

Of early leaves, and flowers, and songs of mirth,
Thousands, like thee, find gladness ! Couldst thou

know

How every breeze then summons me to go !
How all the light of love and beauty shed
By those rich hours, but woos me to the Dead !
The only beautiful that change no more,
The only loved ! the dwellers on the shore
Of spring fulfill'd ! The Dead ! whom call we so ?
They that breathe purer air, that feel, that know
Things wrapt from us ! Away ! within me pent,
That which is barr'd from its own element
Still droops or struggles ! But the day will come
Over the deep the free bird finds its home,






A SPIRIT'S RETURN. 17

And the stream lingers 'midst the rocks, yet greets
The sea at last ; and the wing'd flower- seed meets
A soil to rest in : shall not /, too, be,
My spirit-love ! upborne to dwell with thee ?
Yes ! by the power whose conquering anguish stirr'd
The tomb, whose cry beyond the stars was heard,
Whose agony of triumph won thee back
Through the dim pass no mortal step may track,
Yet shall we meet ! that glimpse of joy divine,
Proved thee for ever and for ever mine !



18 SONGS OF THE AFFECTIONS.



THE LADY OF PROVENCE.*



Courage was cast about her like a dress

Of solemn comeliness,
A gather'd mind and an untroubled face

Did give her dangers grace.

DONNE.



THE war-note of the Saracen

Was on the winds of France ;
It had stilFd the harp of the Trouhadour,

And the clash of the tourney's lance.

The sounds of the sea, and the sounds of the night,
And the hollow echoes of charge and flight,

* Founded on an incident in the early French history.



THE LADY OF PROVENCE. 19

Were around Clotilde, as she knelt to pray
In a chapel where the mighty lay,

On the old Provenal shore ;
Many a Chatillon beneath,
Unstirr'd by the ringing trumpet's breath,

His shroud of armour wore.

And the glimpses of moonlight that went and came
Through the clouds, like bursts of a dying flame,
Gave quivering life to the slumber pale
Of stern forms couch'd in their marble mail,
At rest on the tombs of the knightly race,
The silent throngs of that burial-place.

They were imaged there with helm and spear,
As leaders in many a bold career^
And haughty their stillness look'd and high,
Like a sleep whose dreams were of victory :
But meekly the voice of the lady rose
Through the trophies of their proud repose - y



20 SONGS OF THE AFFECTIONS.

Meekly, yet fervently, calling down aid,
Under their banners of battle she pray'd ;
With her pale fair brow, and her eyes of love,
Upraised to the Virgin's pourtray'd above,
And her hair flung back, till it swept the grave
Of a Chatillon with its gleamy wave.
And her fragile frame, at every blast,
That full of the savage war-horn pass'd,
Trembling, as trembles a bird's quick heart,
When it vainly strives from its cage to part,

So knelt she in her woe ;
A weeper alone with the tearless dead
Oh ! they reck not of tears o'er their quiet shed,

Or the dust had stirr'd below !

Hark ! a swift step ! she hath caught its tone,
Through the dash of the sea, through the wild wind's

moan ;

Is her lord return'd with his conquering bands ?
No J a breathless vassal before her stands !



THE LADY OF PROVENCE. 21

" Hast thou been on the field ? Art thou come

from the host ?"

" From the slaughter, Lady ! All, all is lost !
Our banners are taken, our knights laid low,
Our spearmen chased by the Paynim foe,
And thy Lord," his voice took a sadder sound
" Thy Lord he is not on the bloody ground I
There are those who tell that the leader's plume
Was seen on the flight through the gathering gloom."

A change o'er her mien and her spirit past ;

She ruled the heart which had beat so fast,

She dash'd the tears from her kindling eye,

With a glance, as of sudden royalty :

The proud blood sprang in a fiery flow,

Quick o'er bosom, and cheek, and brow,

And her young voice rose till the peasant shook

At the thrilling tone and the falcon-look ;

" Dost thou stand by the tombs of the glorious dead,

And fear not to say, that their son hath fled ?



22 SONGS OF THE AFFECTIONS.

Away ! he is lying by lance and shield,
Point me the path to his battle-field I"

The shadows of the forest

Are about the lady now;
She is hurrying through the midnight on,

Beneath the dark pine bough.

There's a murmur of omens in every leaf,
There's a wail in the stream like the dirge of a chief;
The branches that rock to the tempest-strife,
Are groaning like things of troubled life ;
The wind from the battle seems rushing by
With a funeral march through the gloomy sky ;
The pathway is rugged, and wild, and long,
But her frame in the daring of love is strong,
And her soul as on swelling seas upborne,
And girded all fearful things to scorn.

And fearful things were around her spread,
When she reach'd the field of the warrior-dead ;



THE LADY OF PROVENCE. 23

There lay the noble, the valiant, low
Aye ! but one word speaks of deeper woe ;
There lay the loved on each fallen head
Mothers vain blessings and tears had shed ;
Sisters were watching in many a home
For the fetter'd footstep, no more to come ;
Names in the prayer of that night were spoken,
Whose claim unto kindred prayer was broken ;
And the fire was heap'd, and the bright wine pour'd,
For those, now needing nor hearth nor board ;
Only a requiem, a shroud, a knell,
And oh I ye beloved of women, farewell !

Silently, with lips compress'd,
Pale hands clasp'd above her breast,
Stately brow of anguish high,
Deathlike cheek, but dauntless eye ;
Silently, o'er that red plain,
Moved the lady 'midst the slain*



24 SONGS OF THE AFFECTIONS.

Sometimes it seem d as a charging cry,
Or the ringing tramp of a steed, came nigh ;
Sometimes a blast of the Paynim horn,
Sudden and shrill from the mountains borne ;
And her maidens trembled ; but on fier ear
No meaning fell with those sounds of fear ;
They had less of mastery to shake her now,
Than the quivering, erewhile, of an aspen bough.
She search'd into many an unclosed eye,
That look'd, without soul, to the starry sky ;
She bow'd down o'er many a shatter'd breast,
She lifted up helmet and cloven crest

Not there, not there he lay !
" Lead where the most hath been dared and done,
Where the heart of the battle hath bled, lead on !"

And the vassal took the way.

He turn'd to a dark and lonely tree
That waved o'er a fountain red;



18



THE LADY OF PROVENCE. 25

Oh ! swiftest there had the currents free
From noble veins been shed.

Thickest there the spear-heads gleam'd,
And the scatter'd plumage stream' d,
And the broken shields were toss'd,
And the shiver'd lances cross'd,
And the mail-clad sleepers round
Made the harvest of that ground.

He was there ! the leader amidst his band,
Where the faithful had made their last vain stand ;
He was there ! but affection's glance alone
The darkly-changed in that hour had known ;
With the falchion yet in his cold hand grasp'd,
And a banner of France to his bosom clasp 'd,
And the form that of conflict bore fearful trace,
And the face oh ! speak not of that dead face !
As it lay to answer love's look no more,
Yet never so proudly loved before !
B



26 SONGS OF THE AFFECTIONS.

She quelTd in her soul the deep floods of woe,
The time was not yet for their waves to flow;
She felt the full presence, the might of death.
Yet there came no sob with her struggling breath,
And a proud smile shone o'er her pale despair,
As she turn'dto his followers " Your Lord is there !
Look on him ! know him by scarf and crest !
Bear him away with his sires to rest !"

Another day another night

And the sailor on the deep
Hears the low chant of a funeral rite

From the lordly chapel sweep :

It comes with a broken and muffled tone,

As if that rite were in terror done ;

Yet the song 'midst the seas hath a thrilling power,

And he knows 'tis a chieftain's burial hour.

Hurriedly, in fear and woe,
Through the aisle the mourners go ;



THE LADY OF PROVENCE. 27

v With a hush'd and stealthy tread,
Bearing on the noble dead,
Sheathed in armour of the field
Only his wan face reveal' d,
Whence the still and solemn gleam
Doth a strange sad contrast seem
To the anxious eyes of that pale band,
With torches wavering in every hand,
For they dread each moment the shout of war,
And the burst of the Moslem scimitar.

There is no plumed head o'er the bier to bend,
No brother of battle, no princely friend ;
No sound comes back like the sounds of yore,
Unto sweeping swords from the marble floor ;
By the red fountain the valiant lie,
The flower of Provencal chivalry,
But one free step, and one lofty heart,
Bear through that scene, to the last, their part.



28 SONGS OF THE AFFECTIONS.

She hath led the death-train of the hrave
To the verge of his own ancestral grave ;
She hath held o'er her spirit long rigid sway,
But the struggling passion must now have way.
In the cheek, half seen through her mourning veil,
By turns does the swift Wood flush and fail ;
The pride on the lip is lingering still,
But it shakes as a flame to the blast might thrill ;
Anguish and Triumph are met at strife,
Rending the chords of her frail young life ;
And she sinks at last on her warrior's bier,
Lifting her voice, as if Death might hear.

" I have won thy fame from the breath of wrong,
My soul hath risen for thy glory strong !
Now call me hence, by thy side to be,
The world thou leav'st has no place for me.
The light goes with thee, the joy, the worth
Faithful and tender ! Oh I call me forth !
Give me my home on thy noble heart,
Well have we loved, let us both depart ! "



THE LADY OF PROVENCE. 29

And pale on the breast of the Dead she lay,
The living cheek to the cheek of clay ;
The living cheek ! Oh ! it was not vain,
That strife of the spirit to rend its chain ;
She is there at rest in her place of pride,
In death how queen-like a glorious bride !

Joy for the freed One ! she might not stay

When the crown had fallen from her life away ;

She might not linger a weary thing,

A dove, with no home for its broken wing,

Thrown on the harshness of alien skies,

That know not its own land's melodies.

From the long heart-withering early gone ;

She hath lived she hath loved her task is done !



30 SONGS OF THE AFFECTIONS.



THE CORONATION

OF

INEZ DE CASTRO.



Tableau, ou F Amour fait alliance avec la Tombe ; union redou-
table de la mort et de la vie !

MADAME DE STAEL.



THERE was music on the midnight ;

From a royal fane it roll'd,


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