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So calm, the waters scarcely seem to stray,
And yet they glide like happiness away ;
Reflecting far and fairy-like from high
The immortal lights that live along the sky:
Its banks are fringed with many a goodly tree,
And flowers the fairest that may feast the bee;
Such in her chaplet infant Dian wove,
And Innocence would offer to her love.
These deck the shore; the waves their channel make
In windings bright and mazy like the snake.
Al was so still, so soft in earth and air,
You scarce would start to meet a spirit there ;
Secure that nought of evil could delight
To walk in such a scene, on such a night!
It was a moment only for the good :
So Lara deem'd, nor longer there he stood,
But turn'd in silence to his castle-gate;
Such scene his soul no more could contemplate :
Such scene reminded him of other days,
Of skies more cloudless, moons of purer blaze,
Of nights more soft and frequent, hearts that now-
No-no-the storm may beat upon his brow,
Unfelt—unsparing—but a night like this,
A night of beauty, mock'd such breast as his.
He turn'd within his solitary hall,
And his high shadow shot along the wall ;
There were the painted forms of other times,
'Twas all they left of virtues or of crimes,
Save vague tradition ; and the gloomy vaults
That hid their dust, their foibles, and their faults ;
And Lara heeds those tones that gently seem
To soothe away the horrors of his dream ;
If dream it were, that thus could overthrow
A breast that needed not ideal woe.
Whate'er his phrensy dream'd or eye beheld,
If yet remember'd ne'er to be reveal'd,
Rests at his heart: the custom'd morning came,
And breathed new vigour in his shaken frame;
And solace sought he none from priest nor leech,
And soon the same in movement and in speech
As heretofore he fill’d the passing hours,
Nor less he smiles, nor more his forehead lours
Than these were wont; and if the coming night
Appear'd less welcome now to Lara's sight,
He to his marvelling vassals show'd it not,
Whose shuddering proved their fear was less forgot.
In trembling pairs (alone they dared not) crawl
The astonish'd slaves, and shun the fated hall;
The waving banner, and the clapping door,
The rustling tapestry, and the echoing floor;
The long dim shadows of surrounding trees,
The flapping bat, the night song of the breeze;
Aught they behold or hear their thought appals,
As evening saddens o'er the dark gray walls.
Vain thought! that hour of ne'er unravell'd gloom
Came not again, or Lara could assume
A seeming of forgetfulness, that made
His vassals more amazed nor less afraid
Had memory vanish'd then with sense restored ?
Since word, nor look, nor gesture of their lord
Betray'd a feeling that recall’d to these
That fever'd moment of his mind's disease.
Was it a dream ? was his the voice that spoke
Those strange wild accents ; his the cry that broke
Their slumber? his the oppress'd o'erlabour'd heart
That ceased to beat, the look that made them start?
Could he who thus had suffer'd, so forget,
When such as saw that suffering shudder yet?
Or did that silence prove his memory fix’d
Too deep for words, indelible, unmix'd
In that corroding secrecy which gnaws
The heart to show the effect, but not the cause ?
Not so in him; his breast had buried both,
Nor common gazers could discern the growth
Of thoughts that mortal lips must leave half told;
They choke the feeble words that would unfold.
In him inexplicably mix'd appear'd
Much to be loved and hated, sought and fear'd ;
Opinion varying o'er his hidden lot,
In praise or railing ne'er his name forgot :
His silence form'd a theme for others' prate
They guess'd—they gazed—they fain would know his
What had he been? what was he, thus unknown,
Who walk'd their world, his lineage only known?
A hater of his kind ? yet some would say,
With them he could seem gay amidst the gay ;
But own'd, that smile if oft observed and near,
Waned in its mirth, and wither'd to a sneer ;
That smile might reach his lip, but pass'd not by,
None e'er could trace its laughter to his eye:
Yet there was softness too in his regard,
At times, a heart as not by nature hard,
But once perceived, his spirit seem'd to chide
Such weakness, as unworthy of its pride,
And steel'd itself, as scorning to redeem
One doubt from others' half withheld esteem;
In self-inflicted penance of a breast
Which tenderness might once have wrung from rest ;
In vigilance of grief that would compel
The soul to hate for having loved too well.
XVIII. There was in him a vital scorn of all : As if the worst had fall'n which could befall, He stood a stranger in this breathing world, An erring spirit from another hurl'd; A thing of dark imaginings, that shaped By choice the perils he by chance escaped ; But ’scaped in vain, for in their memory yet His mind would half exult and half regret: With more capacity for love than earth Bestows on most of mortal mould and birth, His early dreams of good outstripp'd the truth, And troubled manhood follow'd baffled youth; With thought of years in phantom chase mispent, And wasted powers for better purpose lent ; And fiery passions that had pour'd their wrath In hurried desolation o'er his path,
And left the better feelings all at strife In wild reflection o'er his stormy life ; But haughty still, and loth himself to blame, He call'd on Nature's self to share the shame, And charged all faults upon the fleshly form She gave to clog the soul, and feast the worm; Till he at last confounded good and ill, And half mistook for fate the acts of will: Too high for common selfishness, he could At times resign his own for others' good, But not in pity, not because he ought, But in some strange perversity of thought, That sway'd him onward with a secret pride To do what few or none would do beside ; And this same impulse would, in tempting time, Mislead his spirit equally to crime ; So much he soar'd beyond, or sunk beneath The men with whom he felt condemn'd to breathe, And long'd by good or ill to separate Himself from all who shared his mortal state; His mind abhorring this had fix'd her throne Far from the world, in regions of her own : Thus coldly passing all that pass'd below, His blood in temperate seeming now would flow : Ah! happier if it ne'er with guilt had glow'd, But ever in that icy smoothness flow'd! 'Tis true, with other men their path he walk'd, And like the rest in seeming did and talk'd, Nor outraged Reason's rules by flaw nor start, His madness was not of the head, but heart; And rarely wander'd in his speech, or drew His thoughts so forth as to offend the view,