Felicia Dorothea Hemans(25 September 1793 - 16 May 1835 / Liverpool, England)
A Spirit's Return
- by Felicia Dorothea Hemans102
……..'This is to be a mortal, And seek the things beyond mortality!' ~ Manfred.
Thy voice prevails - dear friend, my gentle friend! This long-shut heart for thee shall be unsealed, And though thy soft eye mournfully will bend Over the troubled stream, yet once revealed Shall its freed waters flow; then rocks must close For evermore, above their dark repose.
Come while the gorgeous mysteries of the sky Fused in the crimson sea of sunset lie; Come to the woods, where all strange wandering sound Is mingled into harmony profound; Where the leaves thrill with spirit, while the wind Fills with a viewless being, unconfined, The trembling reeds and fountains - our own dwell, With its green dimness and AEolian breath, Shall suit the unveiling of dark records well - Hear me in tenderness and silent faith!
Thou knewest me not in life's fresh vernal morn - I would thou hadst! - for then my heart on thine Had poured a worthier love; now, all o'erworn By its deep thirst for something too divine, It hath but fitful music to bestow, Echoes of harp-strings broken long ago.
Yet even in youth companionless I stood, As a lone forest-bird 'midst ocean's foam; For me the silver cords of brotherhood Were early loosed; the voice from my home Passed one by one, and melody and mirth Left me a dreamer by a silent hearth.
But, with the fulness of a heart that burned For the deep sympathies of mind, I turned From that unanswering spot, and fondly sought In all wild scenes with thrilling murmurs fraught, In every still small voice and sound of power, And flute-note of the wind through cave and bower A perilous delight! - for then first woke My life's lone passion, the mysterious quest Of secret knowledge; and each tone that broke From the wood-arches or the fountain's breast, Making my quick soul vibrate as a lyre, But ministered to that strange inborn fire.
'Midst the bright silence of the mountain dells, In noontide hours or golden summer-eves, My thoughts have burst forth as a gale that swells Into a rushing blast, and from the leaves Shakes out response. O thou rich world unseen! Thou curtained realm of spirits! - thus my cry Hath troubled air and silence - dost thou lie Spread all around, yet by some filmy screen Shut from us ever? The resounding woods, Do their depths teem with marvels? - and the floods, And the pure fountains, leading secret veins Of quenchless melody through rock and hill, Have they bright dwellers? - are their lone domains Peopled with beauty, which may never still
Our weary thirst of soul? Cold, weak and cold, Is earth's vain language, piercing not one fold Of our deep being! Oh, for gifts more high! For a seer's glance to rend mortality! For a charmed rod, to call from each dark shrine The oracles divine!
I woke from those high fantasies, to know My kindred with the earth - I woke to love: O gentle friend! to love in doubt and woe, Shutting the heart the worshipped name above, Is to love deeply - and my spirit's dower Was a sad gift, a melancholy power Of so adoring - with a buried care, And with the o'erflowing of a voiceless prayer, And with a deepening dream that day by day, In the still shadow of the lonely sway, Folded me closer, till the world held nought Save the one being to my centred thought. There was no music but his voice to hear; No joy but such as with his step drew near: Light was but where he looked - life where he moved: Silently, fervently, thus, thus I loved. Oh! but such love is fearful! - and I knew Its gathering doom: the soul's prophetic sight Even then unfolded in my breast, and threw O'er all things round a full, strong, vivid light, Too sorrowfully clear! - an under-tone Was given to Nature's harp, for me alone Whispering of grief. Of grief? - be strong, awake! Hath not thy love been victory, O my soul? Hath not its conflict won a voice to shake Death's fastness? - a magic to control Worlds far removed? - from o'er the grave to thee Love hath made answer; and thy tale should be Sung like a lay of triumph! Now return, And take thy treasure from its bosomed urn, And lift it once to light!
In fear, in pain, I said I loved - but yet a heavenly strain Of sweetness floated down the tearful stream, A joy flashed through the trouble of my dream! I knew myself beloved! - we breathed no vow, No mingling visions might our fate allow, As unto happy hearts; but still and deep, Like a rich jewel gleaming in a grave, Like golden sand in some dark river's wave, So did my soul that costly knowledge keep So jealousy! - a thing o'er which to shed, When stars alone beheld the drooping head, Lone tears! yet ofttimes burdened with the excess Of our strange nature's quivering happiness.
But, oh! sweet friend! we dream not of love's might Till death has robed with soft and solemn light The image we enshrine! - Before that hour, We have but glimpses of the o'ermastering power Within us laid! - then doth the spirit-flame With sword-like lightning rend its mortal frame; The wings of that which pants to follow fast Shake their clay-bars, as with a prisoned blast- The sea is in our souls!
He died, - he died On whom my lone devotedness was cast! I might not keep one vigil by his side,
I , whose wrung heart watched with him to the last! I might not once his fainting head sustain, Nor bathe his parched lips in the hour of pain, Nor say to him 'Farewell!' He passed away - Oh! had my love been there, its conquering sway Had won him back from death! - but thus removed, Borne o'er the abyss no sounding-line hath proved, Joined with the unknown, the viewless - he became Unto my thoughts another, yet the same - Changed - hallowed - glorified! - and his low grave Seemed a bright mournful altar - mine, all mine: - Brother and friend soon left me that sole shrine, The birthright of the faithful! - their world's wave Soon swept them from its brink. Oh! deem thou not That on the sad and consecrated spot My soul grew weak! I tell thee that a power There kindled heart and lip - a fiery shower My words were made - a might was given to prayer, And a strong grasp to passionate despair, And a dread triumph! Knowest thou what I sought? For what high boon my struggling spirit wrought? - Communion with the dead! - I sent a cry Through the veiled empires of eternity, A voice to cleave them! By the mournful truth, By the lost promise of my blighted youth, By the strong chain a mighty love can bind On the beloved, the spell of mind o'er mind; By words, which in themselves are magic high, Armed and inspired, and winged with agony; By tears, which comfort not, but burn, and seem To bear the heart's blood in their passion-stream; I summoned, I adjured - with quickened sense, With the keen vigil of a life intense, I watched, an answer from the winds to wring, I listened, if perchance the stream might bring Token from worlds afar: I taught one sound Unto a thousand echoes - one profound Imploring accent to the tomb, the sky - One prayer to-night - 'Awake, appear, reply!' Hast thou been told that from the viewless bourne, The dark way never hath allowed return? That all, which tears can move, with life is fled - That earthly love is powerless on the dead? Believe it not! - there is a large lone star Now burning o'er yon western hill afar, And under its clear light there lies a spot Which well might utter forth - Believe it not!
I sat beneath that planet - I had wept My woe to stillness, every night-wind slept; A hush was on the hills; the very streams Went by like clouds, or noiseless founts in dreams And the dark tree o'ershadowing me that hour, Stood motionless, even as the grey church-tower Whereon I gazed unconsciously: - there came A low sound, like the tremor of a flame, Or like the light quick shiver of a wing, Flitting through twilight woods, across the air; And I looked up! Oh! for strong words to bring Conviction o'er thy thought! Before me there, He, the departed, stood! Ay, face to face, So near, and yet how far! His form his mien, Gave to remembrance back each burning trace Within: - Yet something awfully serene, Pure, sculpture-like, on the pale brow, that wore Of the once beating heart no token more; And stillness on the lip - and o'er the hair A gleam, that trembled through the breathless air; And an unfathomed calm, that seemed to lie In the gave sweetness of the illumined eye; Told of the gulfs between our being set, And, as that unsheathed spirit-glance I met, Made my soul faint: - with fear? Oh! not with fear With the sick feeling that in his far sphere
My love could be as nothing! But he spoke - How shall I tell thee of the startling thrill In that low voice, whose breezy tones could fill My bosom's infinite? O friend! I woke
Then first to heavenly life! Soft, solemn, clear Breathed the mysterious accents on mine ear, Yet strangely seem'd as if the while they rose From depths of distance, o'er the wide repose Of slumbering waters wafted, or the dells Of mountains, hollow with sweet echo-cells; But, as they murmured on, the mortal chill Passed from me, like a mist before the morn, And, to that glorious intercourse upborne By slow degrees, a calm, divinely still, Possessed my frame: I sought that lighted eye - From its intense and searching purity I drank in soul! - I questioned of the dead - Of the hushed, starry shores their footsteps tread, And I was answered. If remembrance there, With dreamy whispers fill the immortal air; If thought, here piled from many a jewel-heap, Be treasure in that pensive land to keep; If love, o'ersweeping change, and blight, and blast, Find there the music of his home at last; I asked, and I was answered. Full and high Was that communion with eternity, Too rich for aught so fleeting! Like a knell Swept o'er my sense its closing words, 'Farewell, On earth we meet no more!' And all was gone - The pale bright settled brow - the thrilling tone, The still and shining eye! and never more May twilight gloom or midnight hush restore That radiant guest! One full-fraught hour of heaven To earthly passion's wild implorings given, Was made my own - the ethereal fire hath shivered The fragile censer in whose mould it quivered, Brightly, consumingly! What now is left? A faded world, of glory's hues bereft - A void, a chain! I dwell 'midst throngs, apart, In the cold silence of the stranger's heart; A fixed, immortal shadow stands between My spirit and life's fast-receding scene; A gift hath severed me from human ties, A power is gone from all earth's melodies, Which never may return: their chords are broken, The music of another land hath spoken - No after-sound is sweet! This weary thirst! And I have heard celestial fountains burst! - What here shall quench it?
Dost thou not rejoice, When the spring sends forth an awakening voice Through the young woods? Thou dost! And in that birth Of early leaves, and flowers, and songs of mirth, Thousands, like thee, find gladness! Couldst thou know How every breeze then summons me to go! How all the light of love and beauty shed By those rich hours, but wooes me to the dead! The only beautiful that change no more - The only loved! - the dwellings on the shore Of spring fulfilled! The dead! - whom call we so? They that breathe purer air, that feel, that know Things wrapt from us! Away! - within me pent, That which is barred from its own element Still droops or struggles! But the day will come - Over the deep the free bird finds its home, And the stream lingers 'midst the rocks, yet greets The sea at last; and the winged flower-seed meets A soil to rest in: shall not I , too, be, My spirit-love! upborne to dwell with thee? Yes! by the power whose conquering anguish stirred The tomb, whose cry beyond the stars was heard, Whose agony of triumph won thee back Through the dim pass no mortal step may track, Yet shall we meet! - that glimpse of joy divine Proved thee for ever and for ever mine!
Address To Fancy
- by Felicia Dorothea Hemans102
OH, queen of dreams! 'tis now the hour, Thy fav'rite hour of silence and of sleep; Come, bring thy wand, whose magic pow'r, Can wake the troubled spirits of the deep!
And while around, on ev'ry eye The 'honey-dews of slumber' lie, Oh! guide me to the wild retreat, Where fays in nightly revel meet; And gaily sport in mystic ring, By lonely glen, or haunted spring!
Now ev'ry sound has died away, The winds and waves are lull'd to rest; The sighing breeze forgets to play, And moon-beams tremble o'er the ocean's breast—
Come, Fancy! come, creative pow'r! That lov'st the tranquil reign of night: Perhaps in such a silent hour, Thy visions charm'd the bard of Avon's sight; Oh, poet blest! thy guiding hand Led him thro' scenes of fairy-land; To him, thy favor'd child, alone, Thy bright, Elysian worlds were shown!
Come, Fancy, come; with lov'd control, Bewitch thy votary's pensive soul! Come, sportive charmer! lovely maid! In rainbow-colored vest array'd; Invoke thy visionary train, The subjects of thy gentle reign.
If e'er ethereal spirits meet, On earth; to pour their dirges sweet; Now might they hover on the moon-beam pale, And breathe celestial music on the gale.
And hark! from yonder distant dell, I hear angelic numbers swell! Ah! sure some airy sylph is nigh, To wake such heav'nly melody! Now soft the dulcet notes decay, Float on the breeze and melt away; Again they fall—again they rise, Ah! now the soft enchantment dies! The charm is o'er—the spell is past, The witching spell, too sweet to last!
Hail, Fancy, hail! around thy hallow'd shrine, What sylphid bands, what radiant forms appear! Ah! bless thy votary with thy dreams divine, Ah! wave thy wand, and call thy visions dear!
Bear me, oh! bear me, to thy realms unknown, Enchantress! waft me in thy car sublime! To bend, entranc'd, before thy shadowy throne, To view the wonders of thy fairy-clime!
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