The Deserted Girl
They are around us like our atmosphere : —
O world! O world! thy other name is falsehood.
Wet, damp, and gloomy, t'was a cheerless hour;
That night was not for blank forgetfulness;
And I, who love to look upon heaven's face
Even when 'tis darkened into frowns, went forth
To hear the storm chide this affrighted earth
A blackness, like despair, on nature hung.
Save when the lightning's fitful flashes gleamed,
As if each playful spirit in his sport
Wrote with phosphoric pen some unknown sign
To break the charm that bound the gathered cloud
The thunder's voice was angry, loud, and deep,
It knocked against the heart as 'twould have learned
If fear were lurking there The waters shrieked.
And ran from place to place, as if to hide
Even from the presence of the tempest wild.
Silence, and rest had no existence there.
The blast shook mightiest trees with its strong breath.
And bent the mountain forests, as it claimed
Their homage on approaching. 'Twas a night
That cannot from my memory be washed out
Even by thy ceaseless tide, vicissitude!
The thunder roared till waxing weak it slept.
And echo answered not, the lightnings pale,
Which had been flashing through the sky like swords
Were sheathed at last; the waves grown weary too
Were as unruffled as a mirror clear,
Where the moon saw her face; the howling wind
Went like a beaten hound into its cave;
And stars came one by one to join the court
Of nignt's most lovely queen I heard a voice
Like to the silver sound a harp gives out.
When evening breezes wander, mid its strings,
Walking delicious music out of sleep.
Then there were words so slowly, sweetly breathed,
I might have deemed 'twas an aerial bird
Softening man's language, but the words were sad.
And then I knew they were to earth, and human.
O human nature! sorrow is the sign,
That like the mark upon the brow of Cain
Has made thee separate from all things that breathe.
And all that are not cursed with life and thought.
Art thou not formed of tears, and countless pangs
That make the heart a ruin, and then cling
Like ivy to existence? Fleeting smiles
Flash o'er thee like the beams of polar suns.
Serving to show that what they light is waste
Whose could have been that melancholy voice
Like a complaining seraph's, sweet, but sad
Ah woman ! griefs are thy inheritance,
Linked with thy weakness and devotion ever.
They fling eternal shadows on thy path
Which but for them were bright ! — "Oh! hush thee, babe!
"If there be peace for thee, thy little head
"Will slumber soon upon the lap of peace,
"And then thy infant spirit shall be free!
"Where is the home that should have sheltered us,
"The arm that should have pillowed me, and thee,
"The breast that should have hid us in its folds,
"The voice that should have bid the winds be still,
"And soothed us in calamity? — How wild
"My fancy seems! — Can I so soon forget
"The lessor! I have proved and learned too well —
"That words are nothing when they do not kill,
"And smiles most treacherous when most sweet My child!
"Thy father — but I will not dream of him —
"And I for thee have nothing, my poor boy!
"But a disastrous world of woe before me
"Ah! now thou'rt cold, cold as thy father's heart .
"I cannot warm thee in my bosom now.
"Thou art past that, my child! — Let the storm rave,
"It cannot bring for me another pang,
"There is more mercy in th' ungentle wind
"Than constancy in man! — Now let it come,
"Whene'er it comes, my day of death shall seem
"Like the kind hand of an expected friend
"Breaking the chain with which my soul is bound
"My child, ah! where art thou — I vainly call
"This form where nothing breathes, my child! my child!
There's a magnetic power in woman's woe
Attracting sympathy. I asked the cause
That drew her sorrows forth, and she replied
In words as broken as her heart I'll weave
As much of her sad history as I culled
From what she said, into a chain of verse,
And sooth it is too like a poet's dream —
Full of romance, love's madness, and despair
Her memory was an urn, and it contained
The ashes of departed happiness. Alas
There is no immortality for bliss,
And never shall that future be when joy
Awaking from its tomb shall live again I —
Her face must once have been such as youth's eye
Would fix Itself upon, there still remained
A lingering lustre in her beaming glance.
Which said that though her soul was nigh consumed.
There had been beauty which was all her own
When heaven for her had sunshine She was young,
But grief fed like a vampire on her heart.
And sucked its health and happiness away —
No marvel that her cheek had lost its rose —
And there she stood, pale as her sister moon
Pining with love that never was returned
O! woman's heart is like a blazing torch.
Imparting light where'er its beams may fall.
But burning all the while itself away
There was a youth of expectations high,
Heir of a mighty line, with wealth so vast,
You might have deemed some favouring Genius laid
Earth's treasures at his feet. Her only dower
Was that which nature gave her on her face ;
But when on her he smiled, her answering eye
Spake her soul's wish with all love's eloquence —
'Twas passion's language, known unto the heart
In Its first thrill of feeling, but once lost
Forgotten ever after. Then the girl
Bound her affections for a sacrifice.
And having brought them to a fatal altar.
She offered them to him — her deity! —
The Memphian for his god a reptile takes,
And I will worship thee he says, but finds
When dying from its fang, the demon kills
O! what a golden image was her soul
Upon a pedestal of glass — 'twas fixed
On one who was unworthy her : he fled.
Her spirit fell — and all that I could see
Were beauteous fragments, which had once been parts
Of something most divine!