Frederic Rowton on Landon

From The Female Poets of Great Britain: Lætitia Elizabeth Maclean  (1854) 
by Frederic Rowton



From

The Female Poets of Great Britain,


Chronologically arranged; with Copious Selections and Critical Remarks

by Frederic Rowton


Philadelphia:
Henry C. Baird.
1854


LÆTITIA ELIZABETH MACLEAN.


LÆTITIA ELIZABETH MACLEAN.

This remarkable writer, better known perhaps as Miss Landon, or L. E. L., may, I think, be considered the Byron of our poetesses. In character, history, and genius, there are not a few striking points of similitude between her and the great bard referred to: both acquired a world-wide fame in youth; both were shamefully maligned and misrepresented; both became gloomy and misanthropical under the falsehoods asserted of them; both died young, and abroad.

Mrs. Maclean's history is perhaps the more tragic of the two. Early deprived of parental care and assistance, she had almost from childhood to struggle with the worst difficulties of life; and none but those who have experienced similar endurances can understand how much a young warm heart can be chilled by them, and changed for the worse. When her circumstances became ameliorated by her success in literature, she had to contend against the worst evils of over-praise, unjust censure, and infamous slander. Can we wonder that she acquired unhealthy views of life? Ought we not rather to wonder that her sentiments are on the whole as sound as we find them? Oh, the world is a hard task-master. It first spoils its pupil, and then complains of his deficiencies! Finally, in the zenith of her fame, Mrs. Maclean, formed, more than most beings, for social intercourse, quits her country and her friends, for a solitary home on the coast of Africa: there to pine in loneliness for a month or two, and then to die. Yes! it is a very mournful story.

Of Mrs. Maclean's genius there can be but one opinion. It is distinguished by very great intellectutal power, a highly sensitive and ardent imagination, an intense fervour of passionate emotion, and almost unequalled eloquence and fluency. Of mere art she displays but little. Her style is irregular and careless, and her painting sketchy and rough: but there is genius in every line she has written.

Mrs. Maclean has herself given us a just portraiture of her peculiar powers. In the concluding lines of her fine poem entitled The Golden Violet, she says

“If that I know myself what keys
Yield to my hand their sympathies,
I should say 't is those whose tone
Is Woman's Love and Sorrow's own."

No writer certainly has written more of Love and Sorrow than Mrs. Maclean. She touches scarcely any other strings. I called her the female Byron: in this respect she is particularly so. Passion and Sadness are the idols of her pen. She herself says

"Sad were my shades: methinks they had
Almost a tone of prophecy—
I ever had, from earliest youth,
A feeling what my fate would be."

Her love-passages are certainly not inferior to Byron's. I would cite the following lines from The Improvisatrice in proof:

I lov'd him as a young Genius loves,
When its own mild and radiant heaven
Of starry thought burns with the light,
The love, the life, by passion given.
I loved him, too, as woman loves—
Reckless of sorrow, sin, or scorn:
Life had no evil destiny
That, with him, I could not have borne!
I had been nurs'd in palaces;
Yet earth had not a spot so drear,
That I should not have thought a home
In paradise, had he been near!
How sweet it would have been to dwell,
Apart from all, in some green dell

Of sunny beauty, leaves and flowers:
And nestling birds to sing the hours!
Our home, beneath some chestnut's shade
But of the woven branches made:
Our vesper hymn, the low lone wail
The rose hears from the nightingale;
And waked at morning by the call
Of music from a waterfall.
But not alone in dreams like this,
Breathed in the very hope of bliss,
I loved: my love had been the same
In hush'd despair, in open shame.
I would have rather been a slave,
In tears, in bondage by his side,
Than shared in all, if wanting him,
This world had power to give beside!
My heart was wither'd—and my heart
Had ever been the world to me:
And love had been the first fond dream,
Whose life was in reality.
I had sprung from my solitude,
Like a young bird upon the wing,
To meet the arrow: so I met
My poison'd shaft of suffering.
And as that bird with drooping crest
And broken wing, will seek his nest,
But seek in vain: so vain I sought
My pleasant home of song and thought.
There was one spell upon my brain,
Upon my pencil, on my strain;
But one face to my colours came;
My chords replied to but one name—
Lorenzo!—all seem'd vow'd to thee,
To passion, and to misery!

That Mrs. Maclean could paint Sorrow as well as she could delineate Love we have plenty of proof. Sorrow seems indeed an essential part of her nature. Persons who knew her intimately say that she was not naturally sad: that she was all gaiety and cheerfulness: but there is a mournfulness of soul which is never to be seen on the cheek or in the eye: and this I believe to have dwelt in Mrs. Maclean's breast more than in most people's. How otherwise are we to understand her poetry? We cannot believe her sadness to have been put on like a player's garb: to have been an affectation, an unreality: it is too earnest for that. We must suppose that she felt what she wrote: and if so, her written sadness was real sadness. Take the following lines from The Golden Violet: no one can believe that the sentiment they contain is unreal.

song.

My heart is like the failing hearth
Now by my side;
One by one its bursts of flame
Have burnt and died.
There are none to watch the sinking blaze,
And none to care
Or if it kindle into strength,
Or waste in air.
My fate is as yon faded wreath
Of summer flowers:
They've spent their store of fragrant health
On sunny hours,
Which reck'd them not, which heeded not
When they were dead;
Other flowers, unwarn'd by them
Will spring instead.
And my own heart is as the lute
I now am waking:
Wound to too fine and high a pitch,
They both are breaking.
And of their song what memory
Will stay behind?
An echo, like a passing thought
Upon the wind.

Silence, forgetfulness and rust.
Lute, are for thee;
And such my lot; neglect, the grave,
These are for me!

The same sad desolate tone pervades nearly all her compositions: but it invariably becomes intensest when she speaks of herself. We always see a shadow on her heart. The following lines beautifully illustrate this tendency:

Silent and dark is the source of yon river,
Whose birth-place we know not, and seek not to know,
Though mild as the flight of the shaft from yon quiver,
Is the course of its waves as in music they flow.

Oh, my heart, and my song, which is as my heart's flowing,
Read thy fate in yon river, for such is thine own!
'Mid those the chief praise on thy music bestowing,
Who cares for the lips from whence issue the tone?

Dark as its birth-place, so dark is my spirit,
Whence yet the sweet waters of melody come:
'T is the long after-course, not the source, will inherit
The beauty and glory of sunshine and fame.

And nothing seems able to "make a sunshine in this shady place." No burst of cheerfulness ever displays relief. Amidst every kind of scenery and circumstance the darkness is the same. Her pensiveness is her familiar spirit. She delights in it:

"Call it madness, call it folly,
You cannot drive her gloom away,
There's such a charm in melancholy,
She would not if she could be gay."

Sorrow must have been at the core of her heart, or she never could have written like this:

SONG.

Farewell, farewell! I 'll dream no more,
'Tis misery to be dreaming:
Farewell, farewell; and I will be
At least like thee in seeming.
I will go forth to the green vale,
Where the sweet wild flowers are dwelling,
Where the leaves and the birds together sing,
And the woodland fount is welling.
Not there, not there, too much of bloom
Has Spring flung o'er each blossom;
The tranquil place too much contrasts
The unrest of my bosom.
I will go to the lighted halls,
Where midnight passes fleetest;
Oh, memory there too much recalls
Of saddest and of sweetest.
I'll turn me to the gifted page,
Where the bard his soul is flinging;
Too well it echoes mine own heart
Breaking e'en while singing.
I must have rest! Oh, heart of mine,
When wilt thou lose thy sorrow?
Never, till in the quiet grave:
—Would I slept there to-morrow!

This strong tendency towards melancholy frequently led Mrs. Maclean into most erroneous views and sentiments; which, though we may make what excuses we will for them out of consideration for the author, should be heartily and honestly condemned for the sake of moral truth. For instance, when we find her saying—

Oh, when the grave shall open for me,—
(I care not how soon that time may be,—)
Never a rose shall grow on that tomb,
It breathes too much of hope and bloom;

But there be that flower's meek regret,
The bending and dark blue Violet

when we read such passages as this, it is our duty to speak in terms of rebuke and repudiation. There is an evil spirit in such sentiments which should be bidden behind us. Why should we reject the blooming and beautiful, and cling after this poor fashion to the sad and sorrowful? It is false philosophy, we may be sure. Violets, indeed! Why, what were roses made for? To be slighted and contemned and despised, as it were, like this? Oh, no, no! Roses were made to gladden and delight us, and give us ideas of beauty and hope: nay, more than this, to make us grateful to the Giver of all good besides.

Here is another instance of our fair author's tendency to look upon the dark side of life. In a little poem entitled Change she thus writes:

And this is what is left of youth!
There were two boys, who were bred up together,
Shared the same bed, and fed at the same board.
Each tried the other's sport, from their first chase,
Young hunters of the butterfly and bee,
To when they followed the fleet hare, and tried
The swiftness of the bird. They lay beside
The silver trout stream, watching as the sun
Play'd on the bubbles: Shared each in the store
Of either's garden; and together read
Of him, the master of the desert isle,
Till a low hut, a gun and a canoe
Bounded their wishes. Or if ever came
A thought of future days, 't was but to say
That they would share each other's lot, and do
Wonders, no doubt. But this was vain; they parted
With promises of long remembrance, words
Whose kindness was the heart's, and those warm tears,
Hidden like shame by the young eyes that shed them,
But which are thought upon in after years
As what we would give worlds to shed once more.

They met again,—but different from themselves,—
At least what each remembered of themselves:
The one proud as a soldier of his rank,
And of his many battles: and the other
Proud of his Indian wealth, and of the skill
And toil which gather'd it: each with a brow
And heart alike darken'd by years and care.

They met with cold words and yet colder looks;
Each was chang'd in himself, and yet each thought
The other only chang'd, himself the same.
And coldness bred dislike; and rivalry
Came like the pestilence o'er some sweet thoughts
That linger'd yet, healthy and beautiful,
Amid dark and unkindly ones. And they
Whose boyhood had not known one jarring word,
Were strangers in their age: if their eyes met,
'T was but to look contempt, and when they spoke,
Their speech was wormwood!
—And this, this is life!

No! with all due respect to our fair poetess, this is not life. Doubtless there have been, and are, and long will be instances of brethren who have loved each other in childhood becoming strangers, almost haters, in manhood: but to assert that life is composed of such cases is to libel Providence and to dishearten man. Let the melancholy say what they will, enduring affection is not a fable, not a poet's dream: it is a high and a holy reality, one of the least deniable truths existing in the world: and only an erring or bewildered soul can doubt it.

Life!—No! Doubt and distrust, change and coldness, these are not Life—they form but the merest fraction of life. Life!—a never-ending rush of varied, new-created, unsoiled moments, every one of which bears its freight of happiness, every one of which may be turned to our enjoyment if we please; countless bright fountains around us, from which pleasure never ceases to flow; friends to cheer,—kindred to bless,—flowers of beauty and sounds of infinite music to soothe and to charm—high hopes and glorious aspirations—the proud consciousness of Being and Thinking—and above all, the irrepressible expectation of a still brighter, more beautiful, more high and noble world;—this, though a poor and feeble picture, is at least more like life than the other. O, a glorious heritage Life is! To live!—what ineffable meaning there is in that short expression!—to live! To be a part of never-ending Life! To be more immortal than worlds,—more eternal than the stars,—more indestructible than Nature,—more strong than Death:—to be a part of—to be joined to—the one great Everlasting Principle of Being:—what power, what glory, what majesty there is in the thought! Pain, sorrow, sin, evil, are these man's heritage and lot, then? No! Joy, Friendship, Affection, Hope—"this, this is Life;"—and that soul is not a true poet's soul which would seek to persuade us to the contrary.

Few writers are so picturesque as Mrs. Maclean. Her descriptions are perfect paintings, and often indeed give us a better idea of a scene than an actual representation of it. Some of her poetical illustrations of the pictures in Fisher's Drawing-Room Scrap-Book are as superior in intelligence to the plates as a living being is to a marble statue.

The following poem will give a good general idea of Mrs. Maclean's picturesque manner.

THE SOLDIER'S FUNERAL.

And the muffled drum roll'd on the air,
Warriors with stately step were there;
On every arm was the black crape bound,
Every carbine was turn'd to the ground:
Solemn the sound of their measur'd tread,
As silent and slow they follow'd the dead.
The riderless horse was led in the rear,
There were white plumes waving over the bier,
Helmet and sword were laid on the pall,
For it was a Soldier's Funeral.

That soldier hath stood on the battle plain,
Where every step was over the slain;
But the brand and the ball had pass'd him by,
And he came to his native land to die.
‘T was hard to come to that native land
And not clasp one familiar hand!
'T was hard to be number'd amid the dead,
Or ere he could hear his welcome said!
But 'twas something to see its cliffs once more,
And to lay his bones on his own lov'd shore;
To think that the friends of his youth might weep
O'er the green grass turf of the soldier's sleep.
The bugles ceased their wailing sound
As the coffin was lower'd into the ground:
A volley was fired, a blessing said,
One moment's pause—and they left the dead!
—I saw a poor and an aged man,
His step was feeble, his lip was wan;
He knelt him down on the new rais'd mound,
His face was bow'd on the cold damp ground,
He rais'd his head, his tears were done,
The Father had pray'd o'er his only Son!

As a further specimen of Mrs. Maclean's descriptive power I present the following truly fine poem. Campbell would hardly have written better.

THE GRASP OF THE DEAD.

'T was in the battle-field, and the cold pale moon
Look'd down on the dead and dying;
And the wind passed o'er with a dirge and a wail
Where the young and brave were lying.

With his father's sword in his red right hand,
And the hostile dead around him,
Lay a youthful chief: but his bed was the ground,
And the grave's icy sleep had bound him.

A reckless rover, 'mid death and doom,
Pass'd a soldier, his plunder seeking;
Careless he stept, where friend and foe
Lay alike in their life-blood reeking.

Drawn by the shine of the warrior's sword,
The soldier paus'd beside it;
He wrench'd the hand with a giant's strength,
—But the grasp of the dead defied it.

He loos'd his hold, and his English heart
Took part with the dead before him;
And he honour'd the brave who died sword in hand,
As with soften'd brow he leant o'er him.

"A soldier's death thou hast boldly died,
A soldier's grave won by it:
Before I would take that sword from thine hand,
My own life's blood should dye it."

"Thou shalt not be left for the carrion crow,
Or the wolf to batten o'er thee;
Or the coward insult the gallant dead,
Who in life had trembled before thee."

Then dug he a grave in the crimson earth,
Where his warrior foe was sleeping;
And he laid him there in honour and rest,
With his sword in his own brave keeping!

There is far down in woman's heart a beautiful tendency and love towards the heroic, which does more to cultivate and extend that sentiment than the much fiercer but less pure passion for it which nerves the arm and fires the words of man. A noble deed always receives its best response of approbation from woman. Woman sees the signs of true greatness far more readily than man. Mark how Mrs. Maclean celebrates a hero!

CRESCENTIUS.

I look'd upon his brow—no sign
Of guilt or fear was there;
He stood as proud by that death-shrine
As even o'er despair
He had a power; in his eye
There was a quenchless energy,
A spirit that could dare
The deadliest form that death could take,
And dare it for the daring's sake.

He stood—the fetters on his hand:
He raised them haughtily;
And had that grasp been on the brand,
It could not wave on high
With freer pride than it waved now;
Around he look'd with changeless brow
On many a torture nigh:
The rack, the chain, the axe, the wheel,
And, worst of all, his own red steel.

I saw him once before; he rode
Upon a coal-black steed;
And tens of thousands throng'd the road,
And bade their warrior speed;
His helm, his breastplate, were of gold,
And graved with many a dent, that told
Of many a soldier's deed;
The sun shone on his sparkling mail,
And danced his snow-plume on the gale.

But now he stood chain'd and alone,
The headsman by his side,
The plume, the helm, the charger gone;
The sword which had defied
The mightiest lay broken near;
And yet no sign or sound of fear
Came from that lip of pride;

And never king or conqueror's brow
Wore higher look than his did now.

He bent beneath the headsman's stroke
With an uncover'd eye;
A wild shout from the numbers broke
Who throng'd to see him die.
It was a people's loud acclaim,
The voice of anger and of shame,
A nation's funeral cry;
Rome's wail above her only son,
Her patriot and her latest one.

With one more extract I conclude. It is a Ballad called

SIR WALTER MANNY AT HIS FATHER'S TOMB.

"Oh, show me the grave where my father is laid,
Show his lowly grave to me;
A hundred pieces of broad red gold,
Old man, shall thy guerdon be."

With torch in hand, and bared head,
The old man led the way:
And cold and shrill pass'd the midnight wind
Through his hair of silvery grey.

A stately knight follow'd his steps,
And his form was tall and proud;
And his step fell soft, and his helm was off,
And his head on his bosom bow'd.

They pass'd through the cathedral aisles,
Whose sculptur'd walls declare
The deeds of many a noble knight,
De Manny's name was not there.

They pass'd next a low and humble church,
Scarce seen amid the gloom;
There was many a grave, yet not even there
Had his father found a tomb.

They travers'd a bleak and barren heath,
Till they came to a gloomy wood;
Where the dark trees droop'd, and the dark grass grew,
As curs'd with the sight of blood.

There stood a lorn and blasted tree,
As heaven and earth were its foes,
And beneath was a piled-up mound of stones,
Where a rude grey cross arose.

"And lo!" said the ancient servitor,
"It is here thy father is laid;
No mass has bless'd the lowly grave,
Which his humblest follower made.

"I would have wander'd through every land
Where his gallant name was known,
To have pray'd a mass for the soul of the dead,
And a monumental stone.

"But I knew thy father had a son,
To whom the task would be dear;
Young knight, I kept the warrior's grave
For thee, and thou art here."

Sir Walter grasped the old man's hand,
But spoke he never a word;—
So still it was that the fall of tears
On his mailed vest was heard.

Oh, the heart has all too many tears:
But none are like those that wait
On the blighted love, the loneliness
Of the young orphan's fate.

He call'd to mind when for knighthood's badge
He knelt at Edward's throne,
How many stood by a parent's side,
But he stood there alone!

He thought how often his heart had pined,
When his was the victor's name,
Thrice desolate, strangers might give,
But could not share his fame.

Down he knelt in silent prayer
On the grave where his father slept;
And many the tears, and bitter the thoughts
As the warrior his vigil kept.

And he built a little chapel there,
And bade the deathbell toll,
And prayers be said, and mass he sung,
For the weal of the warrior's soul.

Years pass'd, and ever Sir Walter was first
Where warlike deeds were done;
But who would not look for the gallant knight
In the leal and loyal son?




THE AWAKENING OF ENDYMION.

Lone upon the mountain, the pine-trees wailing round him,
Lone upon a mountain the Grecian youth is laid;
Sleep, mystic sleep, for many a year has bound him,
Yet his beauty, like a statue's pale and fair, is undecay'd.
When will he awaken?
When will he awaken? a loud voice hath been crying
Night after night, and the cry has been in vain;

Winds, woods, and waves, found echoes for replying,
But the tones of the beloved one were never heard again.
When will he awaken?
Ask'd the midnight's silver queen.

Never mortal eye has looked upon his sleeping;
Parents, kindred, comrades, have mourned for him as dead;
By day the gathered clouds have had him in their keeping,
And at night the solemn shadows round his rest are shed.
When will he awaken?
Long has been the cry of faithful Love's imploring,
Long has Hope been watching with soft eyes fixed above;
When will the Fates, the life of life restoring,
Own themselves vanquished by much-enduring love?
When will he awaken?
Asks the midnight's weary queen.

Beautiful the sleep that she has watch'd untiring,
Lighted up with visions from yonder radiant sky,
Full of an immortal's glorious inspiring,
Softened by the woman's meek and loving sigh,
When will he awaken?
He has been dreaming of old heroic stories,
The poet's passionate world has entered in his soul;
He has grown conscious of life's ancestral glories,
When sages and when Kings first upheld the mind's control.
When will he awaken?
Ask'd the midnight's stately queen.

Lo! the appointed midnight! the present hour is fated;
It is Endymion's planet that rises on the air;
How long, how tenderly his goddess love has waited,
Waited with a love too mighty for despair.
Soon he will awaken!
Soft amid the pines is a sound as if of singing,
Tones that seem the lute's from the breathing flowers depart,
Not a wind that wanders o'er Mount Latmos, but is bringing
Music that is murmur'd from nature's inmost heart.
Soon he will awaken,
To his and midnight's queen!

Lovely is the green earth—she knows the hour is holy;
Starry are the heavens, lit with eternal joy;
Light like their own is dawning sweet and slowly
O'er the fair and sculptured forehead of that yet dreaming boy.
Soon he will awaken!
Red as the red rose towards the morning turning,
Warms the youth's lip to the watcher's near his own,
While the dark eyes open, bright, intense, and burning
With a life more glorious than ere they closed was known.
Yes, he has awakened
For the midnight's happy queen!

What is this old history but a lesson given,
How true love still conquers by the deep strength of truth.
How all the impulses, whose native home is heaven,
Sanctify the visions of hope, faith, and youth.
'T is for such they waken!
When every worldly thought is utterly forsaken,
Comes the starry midnight, felt by life's gifted few;
Then will the spirit from its earthly sleep awaken
To a being more intense, more spiritual and true.
So doth the soul awaken,
Like that youth to night's fair queen!




WE MIGHT HAVE BEEN!

We might have been!—these are but common words,
And yet they make the sum of life's bewailing;
They are the echo of those finer chords,
Whose music life deplores when unavailing.
We might have been!

We might have been so happy! says the child,
Pent in the weary school-room during summer,
When the green rushes 'mid the marshes wild,
And rosy fruits, attend the radiant comer.
We might have been!

It is the thought that darkens on our youth,
When first experience—sad experience—teaches
What fallacies we have believed for truth,
And what few truths endeavour ever reaches.
We might have been!

Alas! how different from what we are
Had we but known the bitter path before us;
But feelings, hopes, and fancies left afar,
What in the wide bleak world can e'er restore us?
We might have been!

It is the motto of all human things,
The end of all that waits on mortal seeking;
The weary weight upon Hope's flagging wings,
It is the cry of the worn heart while breaking—
We might have been!

And when, warm with the heaven that gave it birth,
Dawns on our world-worn way Love's hour Elysian,
The last fair angel lingering on our earth,
The shadow of what thought obscures the vision?
We might have been!

A cold fatality attends on love,
Too soon or else too late the heart-beat quickens;
The star which is our fate springs up above,
And we but say—while round the vapour thickens—
We might have been!

Life knoweth no like misery; the rest
Are single sorrows,—but in this are blended
All sweet emotions that disturb the breast;
The light that was our loveliest is ended.
We might have been!

Henceforth, how much of the full heart must be
A sealed book at whose contents we tremble?

A still voice mutters 'mid our misery,
The worst to hear, because it must dissemble—
We might have been!

Life is made up of miserable hours,
And all of which we craved a brief possessing,
For which we wasted wishes, hopes, and powers,
Comes with some fatal drawback on the blessing.
We might have been!

The future never renders to the past
The young beliefs intrusted to its keeping;
Inscribe one sentence—life's first truth and last—
On the pale marble where our dust is sleeping—
We might have been.




STANZAS ON THE DEATH OF MRS. HEMANS.

"The rose—the glorious rose is gone."—Lays of Many Lands

Bring flowers to crown the cup and lute,—
Bring flowers,—the bride is near;
Bring flowers to soothe the captive's cell,
Bring flowers to strew the bier!
Bring flowers! thus said the lovely song;
And shall they not be brought
To her who linked the offering
With feeling and with thought?

Bring flowers,—the perfumed and the pure,—
Those with the morning dew,
A sigh in every fragrant leaf,
A tear on every hue.
So pure, so sweet thy life has been,
So filling earth and air
With odours and with loveliness,
Till common scenes grew fair

Thy song around our daily path
Flung beauty born of dreams,
And scattered o'er the actual world
The spirit's sunny gleams.
Mysterious influence, that to earth
Brings down the heaven above,
And fills the universal heart
With universal love.

Such gifts were thine,—as from the block
The unformed and the cold,
The sculptor calls to breathing life
Some shape of perfect mould,
So thou from common thoughts and things
Didst call a charmed song,
Which on a sweet and swelling tide
Bore the full soul along.

And thou from far and foreign lands
Didst bring back many a tone,
And giving such new music still,
A music of thine own.
A lofty strain of generous thoughts,
And yet subdued and sweet,—
An angel's song, who sings of earth,
Whose cares are at his feet.

And yet thy song is sorrowful,
Its beauty is not bloom;
The hopes of which it breathes, are hopes
That look beyond the tomb.
Thy song is sorrowful as winds
That wander o'er the plain,
And ask for summer's vanish'd flowers,
And ask for them in vain.

Ah! dearly purchased is the gift,
The gift of song like thine;

A fated doom is her's who stands
The priestess of the shrine.
The crowd—they only see the crown,
They only hear the hymn;
They mark not that the cheek is pale,
And that the eye is dim.

Wound to a pitch too exquisite,
The soul's fine chords are wrung;
With misery and melody
They are too highly strung.
The heart is made too sensitive
Life's daily pain to bear;
It beats in music, but it beats
Beneath a deep despair.

It never meets the love it paints,
The love for which it pines;
Too much of Heaven is in the faith
That such a heart enshrines.
The meteor-wreath the poet wears
Must make a lonely lot;
It dazzles, only to divide
From those who wear it not.

Didst thou not tremble at thy fame,
And loathe its bitter prize,
While what to others triumph seemed,
To thee was sacrifice?
Oh, Flower brought from Paradise,
To this cold world of ours,
Shadows of beauty such as thine
Recall thy native bowers.

Let others thank thee—'twas for them
Thy soft leaves thou didst wreathe;
The red rose wastes itself in sighs
Whose sweetness others breathe!