Who had been alarmed by a bullet fired by the author
while discharging his pistols in a garden.
Doubtless, sweet girl! the hissing lead,
Wafting destruction o'er thy charms,
And hurtling* o'er thy lovely head,
Has fill'd that breast with fond alarms.
Surely some envious demon's force,
Vex'd to behold such beauty here,
Impell'd the bullet's viewless course,
Diverted from its first career.
Yes! in that nearly fatal hour
The ball obey'd some hell-born guide;
But Heaven, with interposing power,
In pity turn'd the death aside.
Yet, as perchance one trembling tear,
Upon that thrilling bosom fell;
Which I, th' unconscious cause of fear,
Extracted from its glistening cell:
Say, what dire penance can atone
For such an outrage done to thee?
Arraign'd before thy beauty's throne,
What punishment wilt thou decree?
Might I perform the judge's part,
The sentence I should scarce deplore;
It only would restore a heart
Which but belong'd to thee before.
The least atonement I can make
Is to become no longer free;
Henceforth I breathe but for thy sake,
Thou shalt be all in all to me.
But thou, perhaps, may'st now reject
Such expiation of my guilt:
Come, then, some other mode elect;
Let it be death, or what thou wilt.
Choose then, relentless! and I swear
Nought shall thy dread decree prevent;
Yet hold -- one little word forbear!
Let it be ought but banishment.
* This word is used by Gray, in his poem to the Fatal Sisters: --
"Iron sleet of arrowy shower
Hurtles through the darken'd air."
LOVE'S LAST ADIEU.
[Alpha-epsilon-iota, delta alpha-epsilon-iota mu-epsilon
psi-epsilon-upsilon-gamma-epsilon-iota. (Greek)] -- Anacreon.
The roses of love glad the garden of life,
Though nurtured 'mid weeds dropping pestilent dew,
Till time crops the leaves with unmerciful knife,
Or prunes them for ever, in love's last adieu.
In vain with endearments we soothe the sad heart,
In vain do we vow for an age to be true;
The chance of an hour may command us to part,
Or death disunite us in love's last adieu!
Still Hope, breathing peace through the grief-swollen breast,
Will whisper, "our meeting we yet may renew:"
With this dream of deceit half our sorrow's represt,
Nor taste we the poison of love's last adieu!
Oh! mark you yon pair: in the sunshine of youth
Love twined round their childhood his flowers as they grew;
They flourish awhile in the season of truth,
Till chill'd by the winter of love's last adieu!
Sweet lady! why thus doth a tear steal its way
Down a cheek which outrivals thy bosom in hue!
Yet why do I ask? -- to distraction a prey,
Thy reason has perish'd with love's last adieu!
Oh! who is yon misanthrope, shunning mankind?
From cities to caves of the forest he flew:
There, raving, he howls his complaint to the wind;
The mountains reverberate love's last adieu!
Now hate rules a heart which in love's easy chains
Once passion's tumultuous blandishments knew,
Despair now inflames the dark tide of his veins;
He ponders in frenzy on love's last adieu!
How he envies the wretch with a soul wrapt in steel!
His pleasures are scarce, yet his troubles are few,
Who laughs at the pang that he never can feel,
And dreads not the anguish of love's last adieu!
Youth flies, life decays, even hope is o'ercast;
No more with love's former devotion we sue:
He spreads his young wing, he retires with the blast;
The shroud of affection is love's last adieu!
In this life of probation for rapture divine,
Astrea declares that some penance is due;
From him who has worshipp'd at love's gentle shrine,
The atonement is ample in love's last adieu!
Who kneels to the god, on his altar of light
Must myrtle and cypress alternately strew:
His myrtle, an emblem of purest delight;
His cypress the garland of love's last adieu!
In law an infant, and in years a boy,*
In mind a slave to every vicious joy;
From every sense of shame and virtue wean'd;
In lies an adept, in deceit a fiend;
Versed in hypocrisy, while yet a child;
Fickle as wind, of inclinations wild;
Woman his dupe, his heedless friend a tool;
Old in the world, though scarcely broke from school;
Damætas ran through all the maze of sin,
And found the goal when others just begin:
Even still conflicting passions shake his soul,
And bid him drain the dregs of pleasure's bowl;
But, pall'd with vice, he breaks his former chain,
And what was once his bliss appears his bane.
* In law every person is an infant who has not attained the age of twenty-one.
Marion! why that pensive brow?
What disgust to life hast thou?
Change that discontented air;
Frowns become not one so fair.
'Tis not love disturbs thy rest,
Love's a stranger to thy breast;
He in dimpling smiles appears,
Or mourns in sweetly timid tears,
Or bends the languid eyelid down,
But shuns the cold forbidding frown.
Then resume thy former fire,
Some will love, and all admire;
While that icy aspect chills us,
Nought but cool indifference thrills us.
Wouldst thou wandering hearts beguile,
Smile at least, or seem to smile.
Eyes like thine were never meant
To hide their orbs in dark restraint;
Spite of all thou fain wouldst say,
Still in truant beams they play.
Thy lips -- but here my modest Muse
Her impulse chaste must needs refuse:
She blushes, curt'sies, frowns -- in short she
Dreads lest the subject should transport me:
And flying off in search of reason,
Brings prudence back in proper season.
All I shall therefore say (whate'er
I think, is neither here nor there)
Is, that such lips, of looks endearing,
Were form'd for better things than sneering.
Of smoothing compliments divested,
Advice at least's disinterested;
Such is my artless song to thee,
From all the flow of flattery free;
Counsel like mine is like a brother's.
My heart is given to some others;
That is to say, unskill'd to cozen,
It shares itself among a dozen.
Marion, adieu! oh, pr'ythee slight not
This warning, though it may delight not;
And, lest my precepts be displeasing
To those who think remonstrance teasing,
At once I'll tell thee our opinion
Concerning woman's soft dominion:
Howe'er we gaze with admiration
On eyes of blue or lips carnation,
Howe'er the flowing locks attract us,
Howe'er those beauties may distract us,
Still fickle, we are prone to rove,
These cannot fix our souls to love:
It is not too severe a stricture
To say they form a pretty picture:
But wouldst thou see the secret chain
Which binds us in your humble train,
To hail you queens of all creation,
Know, in a word, 'tis *Animation*.
Who presented to the author a lock of hair braided
with his own, and appointed a night in December to
meet him in the garden.
These locks, which fondly thus entwine,
In firmer chains our hearts confine,
Than all th' unmeaning protestations
Which swell with nonsense love orations.
Our love is fix'd, I think we've proved it,
Nor time, nor place, nor art have moved it;
Then wherefore should we sigh and whine,
With groundless jealousy repine,
With silly whims and fancies frantic,
Merely to make our love romantic?
Why should you weep like Lydia Languish
And fret with self-created anguish;
Or doom the lover you have chosen,
On winter nights to sigh half frozen;
In leafless shades to sue for pardon,
Only because the scene's a garden?
For gardens seem, by one consent,
Since Shakspeare set the precedent,
Since Juliet first declared her passion,
To form the place of assignation.*
Oh! would some modern muse inspire,
And seat her by a sea-coal fire;
Or had the bard at Christmas written,
And laid the scene of love in Britain,
He surely, in commiseration,
Had changed the place of declaration.
In Italy I've no objection:
Warm nights are proper for reflection;
But here our climate is so rigid,
That love itself is rather frigid:
Think on our chilly situation,
And curb this rage for imitation;
Then let us meet, as oft we've done,
Beneath the influence of the sun;
Or, if at midnight I must meet you,
Within your mansion let me greet you:
There we can love for hours together,
Much better, in such snowy weather,
Than placed in all th' Arcadian groves
That ever witness'd rural loves;
Then, if my passion fail to please,
Next night I'll be content to freeze;
No more I'll give a loose to laughter,
But curse my fate for ever after.**
* In the above little piece, the author has been accused by some /candid readers/ of introducing the name of a lady from whom he was some hundred miles distant at the time this was written; and poor Juliet, who has slept so long in "the tomb of all the Capulets," has been converted, with a trifling alteration of her name, into an English damsel, walking in a garden of their own creation, during the month of /December,/ in a village where the author never passed a winter. Such has been the candour of some ingenious critics. We would advise these /liberal/ commentators and arbiters of decorum to read /Shakspeare./
** Having heard that a very severe and indelicate censure has been passed on the above poem, I beg leave to reply in a quotation from an admired work, "Carr's Stranger in France:" -- "As we were contemplating a painting on a large scale, in which, among other figures, is the uncovered whole length of a warrior, a prudish-looking lady, who seemed to have touched the age of desperation, after having attentively surveyed it through her glass, observed to her party, that there was a great deal of indecorum in that picture. Madame S. shrewdly whispered in my ear, that the indecorum was in the remark."
OSCAR OF ALVA.*
How sweetly shines through azure skies,
The lamp of heaven on Lora's shore;
Where Alva's hoary turrets rise,
And hear the din of arms no more.
But often has yon rolling moon
On Alva's casques of silver play'd;
And view'd at midnight's silent noon,
Her chiefs in gleaming mail array'd.
And on the crimson'd rocks beneath,
Which scowl o'er ocean's sullen flow,
Pale in the scatter'd ranks of death,
She saw the gasping warrior low;
While many an eye which ne'er again
Could mark the rising orb of day,
Turn'd feebly from the gory plain,
Beheld in death her fading ray.
Once to those eyes the lamp of Love,
They blest her dear propitious light;
But now she glimmer'd from above,
A sad, funereal torch of night.
Faded is Alva's noble race,
And gray her towers are seen afar;
No more her heroes urge the chase,
Or roll the crimson tide of war.
But who was last of Alva's clan?
Why grows the moss on Alva's stone?
Her towers resound no steps of man,
They echo to the gale alone.
And when that gale is fierce and high,
A sound is heard in yonder hall:
It rises hoarsely through the sky,
And vibrates o'er the mouldering wall.
Yes, when the eddying tempest sighs,
It shakes the shield of Oscar brave;
But there no more his banners rise,
No more his plumes of sable wave.
Fair shone the sun on Oscar's birth,
When Angus hail'd his eldest born;
The vassals round their chieftain's hearth
Crowd to applaud the happy morn.
They feast upon the mountain deer,
The pibroch raised its piercing note:
To gladden more their highland cheer,
The strains in martial numbers float:
And they who heard the war-notes wild,
Hoped that one day the pibroch's strain
Should play before the hero's child
While he should lead the tartan train.
Another year is quickly past,
And Angus hails another son;
His natal day is like the last,
Nor soon the jocund feast was done,
Taught by their sire to bend the bow,
On Alva's dusky hills of wind,
The boys in childhood chased the roe,
And left their hounds in speed behind.
But ere their years of youth are o'er,
They mingle in the ranks of war;
They lightly wheel the bright claymore,
And send the whistling arrow far.
Dark was the flow of Oscar's hair,
Wildly it stream'd along the gale;
But Allan's locks were bright and fair,
And pensive seem'd his cheek, and pale.
But Oscar own'd a hero's soul,
His dark eye shone through beams of truth;
Allan had early learn'd control,
And smooth his words had been from youth.
Both, both were brave: the Saxon spear
Was shiver'd oft beneath the steel;
And Oscar's bosom scorn'd to fear,
But Oscar's bosom knew to feel;
While Allan's soul belied his form,
Unworthy with such charms to dwell:
Keen as the lightning of the storm,
On foes his deadly vengeance fell.
From high Southannon's distant tower
Arrived a young and noble dame;
With Kenneth's lands to form her dower,
Glenalvon's blue-eyed daughter came;
And Oscar claim'd the beauteous bride,
And Angus on his Oscar smiled;
It soothed the father's feudal pride
Thus to obtain Glenalvon's child.
Hark to the pibroch's pleasing note!
Hark to the swelling nuptial song!
In joyous strains the voices float,
And still the choral peal prolong.
See how the heroes' blood-red plumes
Assembled wave in Alva's hall;
Each youth his varied plaid assumes,
Attending on their chieftain's call.
It is not war their aid demands,
The pibroch plays the song of peace;
To Oscar's nuptials throng the bands,
Nor yet the sounds of pleasure cease.
But where is Oscar? sure 'tis late:
Is this a bridegroom's ardent flame?
While thronging guests and ladies wait,
Nor Oscar nor his brother came.
At length young Allan join'd his bride;
"Why comes not Oscar?" Angus said:
"Is he not here?" the youth replied;
"With me he roved not o'er the glade.
"Perchance, forgetful of the day,
'Tis his to chase the bounding roe;
Or ocean's waves prolong his stay;
Yet Oscar's bark is seldom slow."
"Oh, no!" the anguish'd sire rejoin'd,
"Nor chase nor wave my boy delay;
Would he to Mora seem unkind?
Would aught to her impede his way?
"Oh, search, ye chiefs! oh, search around!
Allan, with these through Alva fly;
Till Oscar, till my son is found,
Haste, haste, nor dare attempt reply."
All is confusion -- through the vale
The name of Oscar hoarsely rings,
It rises on the murmuring gale,
Till night expands her dusky wings;
It breaks the stillness of the night,
But echoes through her shades in vain.
It sounds through morning's misty light,
But Oscar comes not o'er the plain.
Three days, three sleepless nights, the Chief
For Oscar search'd each mountain cave!
Then hope is lost; in boundless grief,
His locks in gray torn ringlets wave.
"Oscar, my son! -- thou God of heaven,
Restore the prop of sinking age!
Or if that hope no more is given,
Yield his assassin to my rage:
"Yes, on some desert rocky shore
My Oscar's whiten'd bones must lie,
Then grant, thou God! I ask no more,
With him his frantic sire may die!
"Yet he may live -- away, despair!
Be calm, my soul! he yet may live;
T' arraign my fate, my voice forbear!
O God! my impious prayer forgive.
"What, if he live for me no more,
I sink forgotten in the dust,
The hope of Alva's age is o'er;
Alas! can pangs like these be just?"
Thus did the hapless parent mourn,
Till Time, which soothes severest woe,
Had bade serenity return,
And made the tear-drop cease to flow.
For still some latent hope survived
That Oscar might once more appear:
His hope now droop'd and now revived,
Till Time had told a tedious year.
Days roll'd along, the orb of light
Again had run his destined race.
No Oscar bless'd his father's sight,
And sorrow left a fainter trace.
For youthful Allan still remain'd,
And now his father's only joy:
And Mora's heart was quickly gain'd,
For beauty crown'd the fair-hair'd boy.
She thought that Oscar low was laid,
And Allan's face was wondrous fair:
If Oscar lived, some other maid
Had claim'd his faithless bosom's care.
And Angus said, if one year more
In fruitless hope was pass'd away,
His fondest scruples should be o'er,
And he would name their nuptial day.
Slow roll'd the moons, but blest at last
Arrived the dearly destined morn;
The year of anxious trembling past,
What smiles the lovers' cheeks adorn!
Hark to the pibroch's pleasing note!
Hark to the swelling nuptial song!
In joyous strains the voices float,
And still the choral peal prolong.
Again the clan, in festive crowd,
Throng through the gate of Alva's hall;
The sounds of mirth re-echo loud,
And all their former joy recall.
But who is he, whose darken'd brow
Glooms in the midst of general mirth?
Before his eyes' far fiercer glow
The blue flames curdle o'er the hearth.
Dark is the robe which wraps his form,
And tall his plume of gory red;
His voice is like the rising storm,
But light and trackless is his tread.
'Tis noon of night, the pledge goes round,
The bridegroom's health is deeply quaff'd;
With shouts the vaulted roofs resound,
And all combine to hail the draught.
Sudden the stranger-chief arose,
And all the clamorous crowd are hush'd;
And Angus' cheek with wonder glows,
And Mora's tender bosom blush'd.
"Old man!" he cried, "this pledge is done?
Thou saw'st 'twas duly drunk by me:
It hail'd the nuptials of thy son:
Now will I claim a pledge of thee.
"While all around is mirth and joy,
To bless thy Allan's happy lot,
Say, hadst thou ne'er another boy?
Say, why should Oscar be forgot?"
"Alas!" the helpless sire replied,
The big tear starting as he spoke,
"When Oscar left my hall, or died,
This aged heart was almost broke.
"Thrice has the earth revolved her course
Since Oscar's form has bless'd my sight:
And Allan is my last resource,
Since martial Oscar's death or flight."
"'Tis well," replied the stranger stern,
And fiercely flash'd his rolling eye;
"Thy Oscar's fate I fain would learn:
Perhaps the hero did not die.
"Perchance, if those whom most he loved
Would call, thy Oscar might return;
Perchance the chief has only roved;
For him thy beltane yet may burn.**
"Fill high the bowl the table round,
We will not claim the pledge by stealth;
With wine let every cup be crown'd;
Pledge me departed Oscar's health."
"With all my soul," old Angus said,
And fill'd his goblet to the brim;
"Here's to my boy! alive or dead,
I ne'er shall find a son like him."
"Bravely, old man, this health has sped;
But why does trembling Allan stand?
Come, drink remembrance of the dead,
And raise thy cup with firmer hand."
The crimson glow of Allan's face
Was turn'd at once to ghastly hue;
The drops of death each other chase
Adown in agonising dew.
Thrice did he raise the goblet high,
And thrice did his lips refuse to taste;
For thrice he caught the stranger's eye
On his with deadly fury placed.
"And is it thus a brother hails
A brother's fond remembrance here?
If thus affection's strength prevails,
What might we not expect from fear?"
Roused by the sneer, he raised the bowl,
"Would Oscar now could share our mirth!"
Internal fear appall'd his soul;
He said, and dash'd the cup to earth.
"'Tis he! I hear my murderer's voice!"
Loud shrieks a darkly gleaming form;
"A murderer's voice!" the roof replies,
And deeply swells the bursting storm.
The tapers wink, the chieftains shrink,
The stranger's gone -- amidst the crew
A form was seen in tartan green,
And tall the shade terrific grew.
His waist was bound with a broad belt round,
His plume of sable stream'd on high;
But his breast was bare, with the red wounds there,
And fix'd was the glare of his glassy eye.
And thrice he smiled, with his eye so wild,
On Angus bending low the knee;
And thrice he frown'd on a chief on the ground,
Whom shivering crowds with horror see.
The bolts loud roll, from pole to pole
The thunders through the welkin ring,
And the gleaming form, through the mist of the storm
Was borne on high by the whirlwind's wing.
Cold was the feast, the revel ceased,
Who lies upon the stony floor?
Oblivion press'd old Angus' breast,
At length his life-pulse throbs once more.
"Away! away! let the leech essay
To pour the light on Allan's eyes:"
His sand is done -- his race is run;
Oh! never more shall Allan rise!
But Oscar's breast is cold as clay,
His locks are lifted by the gale:
And Allan's barbed arrow lay
With him in dark Glentanar's vale.
And whence the dreadful stranger came,
Or who, no mortal wight can tell;
But no one doubts the form of flame,
For Alva's sons knew Oscar well.
Ambition nerved young Allan's hand,
Exulting demons wing'd his dart;
While envy waved her burning brand,
And pour'd her venom round his heart.
Swift is the shaft from Allan's bow;
Whose streaming life-blood stains his side?
Dark Oscar's sable crest is low,
The dart has drunk his vital tide.
And Mora's eye could Allan move,
She bade his wounded pride rebel;
Alas! that eyes which beam'd with love
Should urge the soul to deeds of hell.
Lo! seest thou not a lonely tomb
Which rises o'er a warrior dead?
It glimmers through the twilight gloom,
Oh! that is Allan's nuptial bed.
Far, distant far, the noble grave
Which held his clan's great ashes stood:
And o'er his corse no banners wave,
For they were stain'd with kindred blood.
What minstrel gray, what hoary bard,
Shall Allan's deeds on harp-strings raise?
The song is glory's chief reward,
But who can strike a murderer's praise?
Unstrung, untouch'd, the harp must stand,
No minstrel dare the theme awake;
Guilt would benumb his palsied hand,
His harp in shuddering chords would break.
No lyre of fame, no hallow'd verse,
Shall sound his glories high in air:
A dying father's bitter curse,
A brother's death-groan echoes there.
* The catastrophe of this tale was suggested by the story of "Jeronyme and Lorenzo," in the first volume of Schiller's "Armenian; or, The Ghost-Seer." It also bears some resemblance to a scene in the third act of "Macbeth."
** Beltane Tree, a Highland festival on the first of May, held near fires lighted for the occasion.
Poetry: Lord Byron - Hours of idleness - Part 4 - Links to more Byron
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