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As boy, I thought myself a clever fellow,
And wish'd that others held the same opinion; They took it up when my days grew more mellow,
And other minds acknowledged my dominion: Now my sere fancy « falls into the yellow
Leaf,» and imagination droops her pinion, And the sad truth which hovers o'er my desk Turns what was once romantic to burlesque.
And if I laugh at any mortal thing,
, 'Tis that our nature cannot always bring
Itself to apathy, for we must steep
Ere what we least wish to behold will sleep:
Some have accused me of a strange design
Against the creed and morals of the land, And trace it in this poem every line:
I don't pretend that I quite understand
But the fact is that I have nothing plann'd,
To the kind reader of our sober clime
This way of writing will appear exotic; Pulci was sire of the half-serious rhyme,
Who sang when chivalry was more quixotic, And revelld in the fancies of the time,
True knights, chaste dames, huge giants, kings despotic; But all these, save the last, being obsolete, I chose a modern subject as more meet.
How I have treated it, I do not know;
Perhaps no better than they 've treated me Who have imputed such designs as show
Not what they saw, but what they wish'd to see;
This is a liberal age, and thoughts are free:
Young Juan and his lady-love were left
To their own hearts' most sweet society; Even time, the pitiless, in sorrow cleft
With his rude scythe such gentle bosoms; he Sigh'd to behold them of their hours bereft,
Though foe to love; and yet they could not be Meant to grow old, but die in happy spring, Before one charm or hope had taken wing.
Their faces were not made for wrinkles, their
Pure blood to stagnate, their great hearts to fail; The blank gray was not made to blast their hair,
But like the climes that know nor snow nor hail They were all summer: lightning might assail
And shiver them to ashes, but to trail
They were alone once more; for them to be
Thus was another Eden; they were never Weary, unless when separate: the tree
Cut from its forest root of years—the river Damm'd from its fountain the child from the knee
And breast maternal wean'd at once for ever, Would wither less than these two torn apart; Alas! there is no instinct like the heart
The heart—which may be broken; happy they!
Thrice fortunate! who of that fragile mould, The precious porcelain of human clay,
Break with the first fall: they can ne'er behold The long year link'd with heavy day on day,
And all which must be borne, and never told; While life's strange principle will often lie Deepest in those who long the most to die.
«Whom the gods love die young” was said of yore,'
And many deaths do they escape by this:
The death of friendship, love, youth, all that is,
Awaits at last even those whom longest miss The old archer's shafts, perhaps the early grave Which men weep
be meant to save.
Haidee and Juan thought not of the dead.
The heavens and earth, and air, seem'd made for them: They found no fault with time, save that he fled;
They saw not in themselves aught to condemn:
gem, And knew such brightness was but the reflection Of their exchanging glances of affection.
The gentle pressure, and the thrilling touch,
The least glance better understood than words, Which still said all, and ne'er could say too much;
A language, too, but like to that of birds,
As but to lovers a true sense affords;
All these were theirs, for they were children still,
And children still they should have ever been; They were not made in the real world to fill
A busy character in the dull scene,
A nymph and her beloved, all unseen
Moons changing had rollid on, and changeless found
Those their bright rise had lighted to such joys As rarely they beheld throughout their round;
And these were not of the vain kind which cloys, For theirs were buoyant spirits, never bound
By the mere senses; and that which destroys
Oh beautiful! and rare as beautiful!
But theirs was love in which the mind delights To lose itself, when the old world grows duil,
And we are sick of its hack sounds and sights, Intrigues, adventures of the common school,
Its petty passions, marriages, and flights, Where Hymen's torch but brands one strumpet more, Whose husband only knows her not a wh-re.