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Melancholy -- To Laura

 Laura! a sunrise seems to break
Where'er thy happy looks may glow.
Joy sheds its roses o'er thy cheek, Thy tears themselves do but bespeak The rapture whence they flow; Blest youth to whom those tears are given-- The tears that change his earth to heaven; His best reward those melting eyes-- For him new suns are in the skies! Thy soul--a crystal river passing, Silver-clear, and sunbeam-glassing, Mays into bloom sad Autumn by thee; Night and desert, if they spy thee, To gardens laugh--with daylight shine, Lit by those happy smiles of thine! Dark with cloud the future far Goldens itself beneath thy star.
Smilest thou to see the harmony Of charm the laws of Nature keep? Alas! to me the harmony Brings only cause to weep! Holds not Hades its domain Underneath this earth of ours? Under palace, under fame, Underneath the cloud-capped towers? Stately cities soar and spread O'er your mouldering bones, ye dead! From corruption, from decay, Springs yon clove-pink's fragrant bloom; Yon gay waters wind their way From the hollows of a tomb.
From the planets thou mayest know All the change that shifts below, Fled--beneath that zone of rays, Fled to night a thousand Mays; Thrones a thousand--rising--sinking, Earth from thousand slaughters drinking Blood profusely poured as water;-- Of the sceptre--of the slaughter-- Wouldst thou know what trace remaineth? Seek them where the dark king reigneth! Scarce thine eye can ope and close Ere life's dying sunset glows; Sinking sudden from its pride Into death--the Lethe tide.
Ask'st thou whence thy beauties rise? Boastest thou those radiant eyes?-- Or that cheek in roses dyed? All their beauty (thought of sorrow!) From the brittle mould they borrow.
Heavy interest in the tomb For the brief loan of the bloom, For the beauty of the day, Death the usurer, thou must pay, In the long to-morrow! Maiden!--Death's too strong for scorn; In the cheek the fairest, He But the fairest throne doth see Though the roses of the morn Weave the veil by beauty worn-- Aye, beneath that broidered curtain, Stands the Archer stern and certain! Maid--thy Visionary hear-- Trust the wild one as the sear, When he tells thee that thine eye, While it beckons to the wooer, Only lureth yet more nigh Death, the dark undoer! Every ray shed from thy beauty Wastes the life-lamp while it beams, And the pulse's playful duty, And the blue veins' merry streams, Sport and run into the pall-- Creatures of the Tyrant, all! As the wind the rainbow shatters, Death thy bright smiles rends and scatters, Smile and rainbow leave no traces;-- From the spring-time's laughing graces, From all life, as from its germ, Grows the revel of the worm! Woe, I see the wild wind wreak Its wrath upon thy rosy bloom, Winter plough thy rounded cheek, Cloud and darkness close in gloom; Blackening over, and forever, Youth's serene and silver river! Love alike and beauty o'er, Lovely and beloved no more! Maiden, an oak that soars on high, And scorns the whirlwind's breath Behold thy Poet's youth defy The blunted dart of Death! His gaze as ardent as the light That shoots athwart the heaven, His soul yet fiercer than the light In the eternal heaven, Of Him, in whom as in an ocean-surge Creation ebbs and flows--and worlds arise and merge! Through Nature steers the poet's thought to find No fear but this--one barrier to the mind? And dost thou glory so to think? And heaves thy bosom?--Woe! This cup, which lures him to the brink, As if divinity to drink-- Has poison in its flow! Wretched, oh, wretched, they who trust To strike the God-spark from the dust! The mightiest tone the music knows, But breaks the harp-string with the sound; And genius, still the more it glows, But wastes the lamp whose life bestows The light it sheds around.
Soon from existence dragged away, The watchful jailer grasps his prey: Vowed on the altar of the abused fire, The spirits I raised against myself conspire! Let--yes, I feel it two short springs away Pass on their rapid flight; And life's faint spark shall, fleeting from the clay, Merge in the Fount of Light! And weep'st thou, Laura?--be thy tears forbid; Would'st thou my lot, life's dreariest years amid, Protract and doom?--No: sinner, dry thy tears: Would'st thou, whose eyes beheld the eagle wing Of my bold youth through air's dominion spring, Mark my sad age (life's tale of glory done)-- Crawl on the sod and tremble in the sun? Hear the dull frozen heart condemn the flame That as from heaven to youth's blithe bosom came; And see the blind eyes loathing turn from all The lovely sins age curses to recall? Let me die young!--sweet sinner, dry thy tears! Yes, let the flower be gathered in its bloom! And thou, young genius, with the brows of gloom, Quench thou life's torch, while yet the flame is strong! Even as the curtain falls; while still the scene Most thrills the hearts which have its audience been; As fleet the shadows from the stage--and long When all is o'er, lingers the breathless throng!

Poem by Friedrich Von Schiller
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