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The smile we caught from eye to eye
Told us those moments were not fled;
We give to hours that vanish o'er us
That Hope shall shed on scenes before us !
TO THE INVISIBLE GIRL. THEY try to persuade me, my dear little sprite, That you are not a daughter of ether and light, Nor have any concern with those fanciful forms That dance upon rainbows and ride upon storms; That, in short, you're a woman; your lip and your breast As mortal as ever were tasted or pressed ! But I will not believe them-no, science! to you I have long bid a last and a careless adieu : Still flying from Nature to study her laws, And dulling delight by exploring its cause, You forget how superior, for mortals below, Is the fiction they dream to the truth that they know. Oh! who that has ever had rapture complete Would ask how we feel it, or why it is sweet; How rays are confused, or how particles fly Through the medium refined of a glance or a sigh? Is there one who but once would not rather have known it Than written, with Harvey, whole volumes upon it? No, no—but for you, my invisible love, I will swear you are one of those spirits that rove By the bank where, at twilight, the poet reclines, When the star of the west on his solitude shines, And the magical fingers of fancy have hung Every breeze with a sigh, every leaf with a tongue ! Oh! whisper him then, 'tis retirement alone Can hallow his harp or ennoble its tone; Like you, with a veil of seclusion between, His song to the world let him utter unseen, And like you, a legitimate child of the spheres, Escape from the eye to enrapture the ears ! Sweet spirit of mystery! how I should love, In the wearisome ways I am fated to rove, To have you for ever invisibly nigh, Inhaling for ever your song and your sigh ! 'Mid the crowds of the world and the murmurs of care. I might sometimes converse with my nymph of the air, And turn with disgust from the clamorous crew, To steal in the pauses one whisper from you.
In passion's moment breathed to me;
And has become too pure for thee!
With all the warmth of truth impressed :
Or bloom to make a rival blest !
My heart received, I thought, from thine;
As sweetly as they've ruined mine!
Written at Norfolk, in Virginia. “ They tell of a young man who lost his mind upon the death of a girl he loved, and who, suddenly disappearing from his friends, was never afterwards heard of. As he had frequently said, in his ravings, that the girl was not dead. but gone to the Dismal Swamp, it is supposed he had wandered into that dreary wilderness, and died of hunger, or been lost in some of its dreadful morasses." --Anon,
La Poésie a ses monstres comme la Nature. -D'Alembert.
“They made her a grave, too cold and damp
For a soul so warm and true;
She paddles her white canoe.
And her paddle I soon shall hear;
When the footstep of Death is near!”
His path was rugged and sore,
And man never trode before !
* The Great Dismal Swamp is ten or twelve miles distant from Norfolk, and the lake in the middle of it (about seven miles long) is called Drumniond's Pond.
And, when on the earth he sunk to sleep,
If slumber his eyelids knew,
The flesh with blistering dew!
And the copper-snake breathed in his ear,
And the white canoe of my dear?”.
Quick over its surface played-
The name of the death-cold maid !
Which carried him off from shore ;
And the boat returned no more.
This lover and maid so true
And paddle their white canoe !
From Bermuda, January 1804.
* Lady D., I supposed, was at this time still in Switzerland, where the powers of her pencil must have been frequently awakened.
+ T'he chapel of William Tell on the Lake of Lucerne.
Yet, Lady, no !-for song so rude as mine Chase not the wonders of your dream divinc ; Still, radiant eye! upon the tablet dwell; Still, rosy finger! weave your pictured spell; And, while I sing the animated smiles Of fairy nature in these sun-born isles, Oh! might the song awake some bright design, Inspire a touch, or prompt one happy line, Proud were my soul to see its humble thought On painting's mirror so divinely caught, And wondering Genius, as he leaned to trace The faint conception kindling into grace, Might love my numbers for the spark they threw, And bless the lay that lent a charm to you !
Have you not oft, in nightly vision, strayed To the pure isles of ever-blooming shade Which bards of old, with kindly magic, placed For happy spirits in th' Atlantic waste? There as eternal gales, with fragrance warm, Breathed from elysium through each shadowy form In eloquence of eye, and dreams of song, They charmed their lapse of nightless hours along! Nor yet in song that mortal ear may suit, For every spirit was itself a lute, Where virtue wakened, with elysian breeze, Pure tones of thought and mental harmonies ! Believe me, Lady, when the zephyrs bland Floated our bark to this enchanted land, These leafy isles upon the ocean thrown, Like studs of emerald o'er a silver zone; Not all the charm that ethnic fancy gave To blessed arbours o'er the western wave Could wake a dream more soothing or sublime Of bowers ethereal and the spirit's clime !
The morn was lovely, every wave was still, When the first perfume of a cedar-hill Sweetly awaked us, and with smiling charms, The fairy harbour wooed us to its arms. * Gently we stole, before the languid wind, Through plantain shades that like an awning twined And kissed on either side the wanton sails, Breathing our welcome to these vernal vales; While, far reflected o'er the wave serene, Each wooded island shed so soft a green
* Nothing can be more romantic than the little harbour of St. George's. The number of beautiful islets, the singular clearness of the water, and the animated play of the graceful little boats, gliding for ever between the islands, and seeming to sail from one cedar-grove into another, form all together the sweetest miniature of nature that can be imagined.
That the enamoured keel, with whispering play,
Sweet airy being ! + who, in brighter hours,
* This is an allusion which, to the few who are fanciful enough to indulge in it, renders the scenery of Bermuda particularly interesting. In the short but beautiful twilight of their spring evenings, the white cottages scattered over the islands, and but partially seen through the trees that surround them, assume often the appearance of little Grecian temples, and fancy may embellish the poor fisherman's hut with columns which the pencil of Claude might imitate. I had one favourite object of this kind in my walks, which the hospitality of its owner robbed me of by asking me to visit him. He was a plain good man, and received me well and warmly ; but I never could turn his house into a Grecian temple again.
† Ariel. Among the many charms which Bermuda has for a poetic eye, we cannot for an instant forget that it is the scene of Shakspeare's “Tempest,” and that here he conjured up the "delicate Ariel," who alone is worth the whole heaven of ancient mythology.