Collected Poems of Henry Derozio: Preface by Manu Samriti Chander; Edited by Amardeep Singh

The Maniac Widow

Voice in the wind, and a voice on the wave, 
A voice like the voice of my warrior dear, 
A voice like a moan from the dark, dark grave 
Incessantly rings on my lonely ear! 
But my warrior-love to the war is gone, 
Where the laurel of triumph he sure hath won; 
Yet soon he'll return, with a smile, to me 
From the field of strife, and the wandering sea. 
To twine with his crown a wreath I'll wreathe, 
And o'er it the winged spirits shall breathe; 
And around it a moonlight charm shall be shed 
Like a halo, to circle my hero's head; 
I'll bathe it each morn in glittering dew, 
And so will I give it him, fresh and new: 
That wreath I'll weave of flowrets rare, 
And bind it around his forehead fair, 
Anemones, roses, and lilies white, 
With cypress twigs, and the flower of night. 
Ah no! no cypress shall be in that wreath, 
For the cypress droops o'er the house of death! 
Oh ! how wondrous fine the flowers will be! 
And he'll love them all when they're twined by me; 
And his burning lip he'll press to mine 
With kisses to pay for the wreath I'll twine.
I see where his ship on the ocean rides, 
Like a sprite on the waters she gently glides; 
On the deck he stands, and hark, he sings! 
Lend him, lend him, Love, thy wings! 
Blow, blow, thou breeze !—the ship comes nigh— 
Methinks the tears stand forth in mine eye; 
I'll dash them thence, for alas! 'twere sin 
To let them flow when my love comes in. 
On the shore he leaps from the trackless main, 
Ha, ha, ha, ha,—he is come again! 
And lo ! he is wrapt in his cloak of red, 
And his plume waves high on his gallant head 
But his face is wan, and his brow is pale. 
O ! how my heart begins to fail! 
He sees me, comes not;—still he stands 
With arms outstretched, and beck'ning hands: 
O! I remember—it is not life— 
They told me he fell on the field of strife— 
They told me—but no, it cannot be 
I saw his ship on the foaming sea, 
I heard his voice of music,—more— 
I saw him leap from the boat ashore; 
I see him still—ha, ha, his eyes 
Are bright as stars that around me rise. 
Come hither, my love ! depart not yet. 
O ! dost thou, canst thou all forget? '
Tis past—away he hath fled—no, no, 
I dream, I dream; he would not go—
But how?—-they told me the winter sleet 
Was his pillow, his grave, and his winding sheet; 
They told me, they fired not a funeral shot, 
No prayer was heard, and the drum beat not; 
No horse was led to his place of rest; 
But the red blood oozed from his wounded breast; 
On the field of snow, no longer fair, 
He breathed his last, and they buried him there. 
They said—but the tale I will not believe; 
My love could not leave me thus to grieve—- 
I know he is nigh—but it gives me pain 
To watch and weep till he comes again! 
   "Ye waters bright that beneath me roll! 
Tell me, where is the light of my soul—- 
On the mountain-top, on the boundless main, 
By the pebbly beach, or the desert plain? 
Yet tell me,—-burns the vital spark, 
Or is it quenched, and my soul all dark? 
Winds ! that like winged spirits play 
Around my temples, say, O! say, 
Whither my love can be wandering now 
Without my garland to bind his brow? 
The winds are mute, and the waves unkind; 
They speak not peace to my wounded mind; 
But spite of all I will seek him still, 
On the wave, on the plain, on the rock, and the hill. 
She wildly laughed, and went muttering on, 
Till the chalky cliff by the sea was won; 
She climbed that cliff, then gazed awhile 
On the moonlit sea, with a vacant smile; 
Her hands were clasped, and she looked on high 
To the stars that gleam'd in the tranquil sky; 
In the wild wind waved her raven hair, 
And hers was the look of fixed despair; 
To the brink of the cliff she hurriedly went 
Singing her dreary, sad lament;— 
'A voice in the wind, and a voice on the wave, 
   A voice like the voice of my warrior dear, 
A voice like a moan from the dark, dark grave, 
   Incessantly rings on my lonely ear.' 
She paused on the brink, as if reason came 
And stopp'd her there—-but 'twas still the same. 
She looked around, and she looked above, 
She looked below, and called on her love; 
None answered her ; for the dead are dumb; 
And then she cried, 'I come! I come!' 
From that dread height that low'ring hung 
O'er the deep sea, herself she flung, 
Into the watery waste below, 
The friendly goal of life and woe! 
Like beam that flashes, and is gone 
Her passing form an instant shone, 
An instant gleam'd her raiment white, 
An instant part the waters bright, 
Then close for ever—and again 
Serenely smiles the silver main, 
And all was still, like a voiceless thought 
That once had been.— 
   Long years have rolled; and fishermen say, 
That every year, on that sad day, 
Strange sounds are heard—and the waters rush 
Like passion's tumultuous, maddening gush; 
Then all is silent—and then a strain 
Like Syren's song is heard on the main, 
Sweeter than music of waves below, 
And thus, they say, the song doth flow:-— 
   'From my deep bed of coral 
      I've risen for thee, 
   And left my green chambers 
      Far down in the sea; 
   My hall of pure amber 
      Is darksome and drear, 
   No star-light beaming 
      My bosom to cheer: 
   To the depths of the ocean 
      Come swiftly with me, 
   I'll give thee the treasures 
      No mortal can see; 
   Come swiftly down, swiftly; 
      My grottos are mute, 
   For thee I'll awaken 
      My song, and my lute. 
   The lute that soothed sweetly 
      Of yore, thy wild ear; 
   The song of love's raptures 
      You once loved to hear! 
   From my deep bed of coral 
      I've risen for thee, 
   And left my green chambers 
      Far down in the sea! 
I'll break the dark spell that has bound thee so long, 
And wake for my loved-one the sea-harp and song.' 
December, 1826. 

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