« PreviousContinue »
Scarce seen, but with fresh bitterness imbued, And slight withal may be the things which bring Back on the heart the weight which it would fling Aside for ever. It may be a sound, A tone of music, summer's eve, or spring, '• A flower, the wind, the ocean, which shall sound, Striking the electric chain wherewith we are darkly bound.
And how and why we know not, nor can trace Home to its cloud this lightning of the mind, But feel the shock renewed, nor can efface The blight and blackening which it leaves behind; While out of things familiar, undesigned, When least we deem of such, calls up to view The spectres whom no exorcism can bind, The cold—the changed—perchance the dead, anew, Themourned—the loved—the lost, too many, yet bowfew!
MARTYRDOM OF LOUIS XVI.
'■.: .'l . ■ ill
Paris! there was no sleep beneath thy roofs
The morn that saw this deed. The dim streets rung,
Long before day, with cannon, trampling hoofs,
And, fearfullest of all, the tocsin's tongue.
Startling the eye ; the passing torches flung
Their flash through many a chamber from beneath,
Then vanished with the thick and hurrying throng;
While the heart-sinking listener held his breath,
Catching in every sound the distant roar of death.
But earlier than that dim and early hour,
A lonely taper twinkled through the gloom;
'Twas from the casement of the Temple tower,
Twas from a king's, a martyr's, dungeon room!
There he subdued his spirit for its doom;
And one old priest, and one pale follower,
Knelt weeping, as beside their master's tomb.
Rude was the altar, but the heart was there,
And peace and glorious hope were in that prison prayer.
But trumpets pealed, and torches glared below, And from the tower rose woman's loud lament And infant cries; and shadows seemed to go With tossing arms, and heads in anguish bent, Backwards and forwards hurrying, then, as spent, Sink down, and all be silent for a time; Until the royal victims' souls were rent With some new yell of cruelty and crime, Or thundered through the dusk the tocsin's deadly chime.
And 'twas as wild and still within the square,
This square of luxury! The morn arose,
An iron harvest bristled through the air,
Bayonet and pike in countless, close-rocked rows,
Silent as death, the crowd,—the grim repose
Before the earthquake ;—none from roof or wall
Might look; no hand the casement might unclose.
And in their centre, frowning o'er them all,
Their idol—the sole God before whose name they fall,
The Guillotine !—when hell proposed the feast,
Where guilty France was drunk, but not with wine,
Till madness sat upon her visioned breast,
This was the press that crushed her bloody vine.
To this grim altar came the shuddering line,
Whose worship was,—beneath its knife to lie;
The haggard traitors to the throne and shrine,
By traitors crushed, that in their turn must die ; .
Till massacre engulphed the wreck of liberty.
The Guillotine !—It stood in that pale day
Like a huge spectre, just from earth upsprung,
To summon from the tomb the fierce array
That round its feet in desperate homage clung.
But on the wind a sudden trumpet rune,
All eyes were turned, and far as eye could stray,
Was caught a light, from moving helmets flung, A banner tossing in the tempest's sway, A wain that through the throng slow toiled its weary way.
Tis done, the monarch on the scaffold stands; The headsmen grasp him !—of the myriads there, That hear his voice, that see his fettered hands, Not one has given a blessing or a tear. But that old priest who answers him in prayer. He speaks; his dying thoughts to France are given: His voice is drowned; for murder has no ear. The saint unmurmuting to the axe is driven. If ever spirit rose, that heart v calm in heaven.
France was anathema.—Her cup before
Was full, but this o'ertopped its burning brim,
And plagues, like serpent-teeth, her entrails tore;
Crime slipped to ravage through a land of crime!
In the sacked sepulchre caroused the mime!
On God's high altar sat idolatry;
Before the harlot knelt the nation's prime,
And sons dragged fathers, fathers sons to die,
Till judgment girt the bow on its eternal thigh.
For John Thornton of Clapham, Esq. who died at Bath,
November 7. 1791.
Know, solemn visitant of the remains
Of Thornton, what high respect is due
The sacred cemetery that contains
What seen brought every virtue into view.
Say not, ye busy! that your cares exclude
Philanthropy's exertions and its joys:
The eminently active, and the good,
An unremitting industry employs.
Success sooths vanity; but he remains
Modest and pious, while his stores increase:
To generous views he consecrates his gains;
And, when these fail, his riches never cease.
Not by the poet's verse, or sculptor's art,
His name shall live, respected and revered:
He ever lives, upon the feeling heart,
And, as more known, is ever more endeared.