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HAIDEE AND JUAN.
[From Don Juan. Canto IV.]
Nothing so difficult as a beginning
In poesy, unless perhaps the end ;
The race, he sprains a wing, and down we tend, Like Lucifer when hurl'd from heaven for sinning;
Our sin the same, and hard as his to mend, Being pride, which leads the mind to soar too far, Till our own weakness shows us what we are.
But time, which brings all beings to their level,
And sharp Adversity, will teach at last Man,-and, as we would hope, -perhaps the devil,
That neither of their intellects are vast : While youth's hot wishes in our red veins revel,
We know not this—the blood flows on too fast: But as the torrent widens towards the ocean, We ponder deeply on each past emotion.
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 I may not weep; and if I weep, '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,
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 revell’d 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 have treated me, Who have imputed such designs as show
Not what they saw, but what they wished 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 harm or hope had taken wing.
Their faces were not made for wrinkles, their
Pure blood to stagnate, their great hearts to fail ; The blank grey 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 friends, and that which slays even more
The death of friendship, love, youth, all that is, Except mere breath ; and since the silent shore
Awaits at last even those who longest miss The old archer's shafts, perhaps the early grave Which men weep over may be meant to save.
Haidée 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; Each was the other's mirror, and but read
Joy®sparkling in their dark eyes like a 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, Known' but to them, at least appearing such
As but to lovers a true sense affords ; Sweet playful phrases, which would seem absurd To those who have ceased to hear such, or ne'er heard.
All these were theirs, for they were children still,
And children still they should have ever been ;
A busy character in the dull scene,
A nymph and her beloved, all unseen
Moons changing had rolld 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,
By the mere senses ; and that which destroys
INVOCATION TO THE SPIRIT OF ACHILLES.
[From The Deformed Transformed.]
Of Thetis's boy!
Whose grass grows o'er Troy:
Thy likeness I shape,
Whose actions I ape.
Thou clay, be all glowing,
Till the rose in his cheek Be as fair as, when blowing,
It wears its first streak! Ye violets, I scatter,
Now turn into eyes ! And thou, sunshiny water,
Of blood take the guise ! Let these hyacinth boughs
Be his long flowing hair, And wave o'er his brows
As thou wavest in air !
I tear from the rock !
Of birds on yon oak !
Of mould, in which grew The lily-root surest,
And drank the best dew! Let his limbs be the lightest
Which clay can compound, And his aspect the brightest
On earth to be found ! Elements, near me,
Be mingled and stirr'd, Know me, and hear me,
And leap to my word ! Sunbeams, awaken
This earth's animation ! Tis done! He hath taken
His stand in creation !