George (Lord) Byron |
My soul is dark - Oh! quickly string
The harp I yet can brook to hear;
And let thy gentle fingers fling
Its melting murmurs o'er mine ear.
If in this heart a hope be dear,
That sound shall charm it forth again:
If in these eyes there lurk a tear,
'Twill flow, and cease to burn my brain.
But bid the strain be wild and deep,
Nor let thy notes of joy be first:
I tell thee, minstrel, I must weep,
Or else this heavy heart will burst;
For it hath been by sorrow nursed,
And ached in sleepless silence, long;
And now 'tis doomed to know the worst,
And break at once - or yield to song.
Walt Whitman |
A BATTER’D, wreck’d old man,
Thrown on this savage shore, far, far from home,
Pent by the sea, and dark rebellious brows, twelve dreary months,
Sore, stiff with many toils, sicken’d, and nigh to death,
I take my way along the island’s edge,
Venting a heavy heart.
I am too full of woe!
Haply, I may not live another day;
I can not rest, O God—I can not eat or drink or sleep,
Till I put forth myself, my prayer, once more to Thee,
Breathe, bathe myself once more in Thee—commune with Thee,
Report myself once more to Thee.
Thou knowest my years entire, my life,
(My long and crowded life of active work—not adoration merely;)
Thou knowest the prayers and vigils of my youth;
Thou knowest my manhood’s solemn and visionary meditations;
Thou knowest how, before I commenced, I devoted all to come to Thee;
Thou knowest I have in age ratified all those vows, and strictly kept them;
Thou knowest I have not once lost nor faith nor ecstasy in Thee;
(In shackles, prison’d, in disgrace, repining not,
Accepting all from Thee—as duly come from Thee.
All my emprises have been fill’d with Thee,
My speculations, plans, begun and carried on in thoughts of Thee,
Sailing the deep, or journeying the land for Thee;
Intentions, purports, aspirations mine—leaving results to Thee.
O I am sure they really come from Thee!
The urge, the ardor, the unconquerable will,
The potent, felt, interior command, stronger than words,
A message from the Heavens, whispering to me even in sleep,
These sped me on.
By me, and these, the work so far accomplish’d (for what has been, has been;)
By me Earth’s elder, cloy’d and stifled lands, uncloy’d, unloos’d;
By me the hemispheres rounded and tied—the unknown to the known.
The end I know not—it is all in Thee;
Or small, or great, I know not—haply, what broad fields, what lands;
Haply, the brutish, measureless human undergrowth I know,
Transplanted there, may rise to stature, knowledge worthy Thee;
Haply the swords I know may there indeed be turn’d to reaping-tools;
Haply the lifeless cross I know—Europe’s dead cross—may bud and blossom
One effort more—my altar this bleak sand:
That Thou, O God, my life hast lighted,
With ray of light, steady, ineffable, vouchsafed of Thee,
(Light rare, untellable—lighting the very light!
Beyond all signs, descriptions, languages!)
For that, O God—be it my latest word—here on my knees,
Old, poor, and paralyzed—I thank Thee.
My terminus near,
The clouds already closing in upon me,
The voyage balk’d—the course disputed, lost,
I yield my ships to Thee.
Steersman unseen! henceforth the helms are Thine;
Take Thou command—(what to my petty skill Thy navigation?)
My hands, my limbs grow nerveless;
My brain feels rack’d, bewilder’d; Let the old timbers part—I will not
I will cling fast to Thee, O God, though the waves buffet me;
Thee, Thee, at least, I know.
Is it the prophet’s thought I speak, or am I raving?
What do I know of life? what of myself?
I know not even my own work, past or present;
Dim, ever-shifting guesses of it spread before me,
Of newer, better worlds, their mighty parturition,
Mocking, perplexing me.
And these things I see suddenly—what mean they?
As if some miracle, some hand divine unseal’d my eyes,
Shadowy, vast shapes, smile through the air and sky,
And on the distant waves sail countless ships,
And anthems in new tongues I hear saluting me.
William Topaz McGonagall |
'Twas on the 9th of September, a very beautiful day,
That a numerous English army came in grand array,
And pitched their tents on Flodden field so green
In the year of our Lord fifteen hundred and thirteen.
And on the ridge of Braxton hill the Scottish army lay,
All beautifully arrayed, and eager for the fray,
And near by stood their noble king on that eventful day,
With a sad and heavy heart, but in it no dismay.
And around him were his nobles, both in church and state,
And they felt a little dispirited regarding the king's fate;
For the independence of bonnie Scotland was at stake,
And if they lost the battle, many a heart would break.
And as King James viewed the enemy he really wondered,
Because he saw by them he was greatly outnumbered,
And he knew that the struggle would be desperate to the last,
And for Scotland's weal or woe the die was cast.
The silence of the gathered armies was very still
Until some horsemen began to gallop about the brow of the hill,
Then from rank to rank the signal for attack quickly flew,
And each man in haste to his comrade closely drew.
Then the Scottish artillery opened with a fearful cannonade;
But the English army seemed to be not the least afraid,
And they quickly answered them by their cannon on the plain;
While innocent blood did flow, just like a flood of rain.
But the artillery practice very soon did cease,
Then foe met foe foot to foot, and the havoc did increase,
And, with a wild slogan cry, the Highlanders bounded down the hill,
And many of the English vanguard, with their claymores, they did kill.
Then, taken by surprise and the suddenness of the attack,
The vanguard of the English army instantly fell back,
But rallied again immediately-- to be beaten back once more,
Whilst beneath the Highlanders' claymores they fell by the score.
But a large body of horsemen came to the rescue,
And the wing of the Scottish army they soon did subdue;
Then swords and spears clashed on every side around,
While the still air was filled with a death-wailing sound.
Then King James thought he'd strike an effective blow-
So he ordered his bodyguard to the plain below,
And all the nobles that were in his train,
To engage the foe hand to hand on that bloody plain.
And to them the din of battle was only a shout of glory:
But for their noble king they felt a little sorry,
Because they knew he was sacrificing a strong position,
Which was to his army a very great acquisition.
But King James was resolved to have his own will,
And he wouldn't allow the English to come up the hill,
Because he thought he wasn't matching himself equally against the foe;
So the nobles agreed to follow their leader for weal or woe.
'Twas then they plunged down into the thick of the fight,
And the king fought like a lion with all his might;
And in his cause he saw his nobles falling on every side around,
While he himself had received a very severe wound.
And the English archers were pouring in their shafts like hail
And swords and spears were shivered against coats of mail,
And the king was manfully engaged contesting every inch of ground,
While the cries of the dying ascended up to heaven with a pitiful sound.
And still around the king the battle fiercely raged,
While his devoted followers were hotly engaged,
And the dead and the dying were piled high all around,
And alas! the brave king had received the second wound.
The Scottish army was composed of men from various northern isles,
Who had travelled, no doubt, hundreds of miles;
And with hunger and fatigue many were like to faint,
But the brave heroes uttered no complaint.
And heroically they fought that day on behalf of their king,
Whilst around him they formed a solid ring;
And the king was the hero of the fight,
Cutting, hacking, and slashing left and right.
But alas! they were not proof against the weapons of the foe,
Which filled their hearts with despair and woe;
And, not able to maintain their close form, they were beaten back,
And Lennox and Argyle, their leaders, were slain, alack!
And the field became so slippery with blood they could scarcely stand,
But in their stocking-feet they fought hand to hand,
And on both sides men fell like wheat before the mower,
While the cheers from both armies made a hideous roar.
Then King James he waved his sword on high,
And cried, "Scotsmen, forward! and make the Saxons fly;
And remember Scotland's independence is at stake,
So charge them boldly for Scotland's sake.
So grooms, lords, and knights fought all alike,
And hard blows for bonnie Scotland they did strike,
And swords and spears loudly did clatter,
And innocent blood did flow like water.
But alas! the king and his nobles fought in vain,
And by an English billman the king was slain;
Then a mighty cheer from the English told Scotland's power had fled,
And King James the Fourth of Scotland, alas! was dead!
Elizabeth Barrett Browning |
A heavy heart, Beloved, have I borne
From year to year until I saw thy face,
And sorrow after sorrow took the place
Of all those natural joys as lightly worn
As the stringed pearls, each lifted in its turn
By a beating heart at dance-time.
Were changed to long despairs, till God's own grace
Could scarcely lift above the world forlorn
My heavy heart.
Then thou didst bid me bring
And let it drop adown thy calmly great
Deep being! Fast it sinketh, as a thing
Which its own nature doth precipitate,
While thine doth close above it, mediating
Betwixt the stars and the unaccomplished fate.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning |
I lift my heavy heart up solemnly,
As once Electra her sepulchral urn,
And, looking in thine eyes, I overturn
The ashes at thy feet.
Behold and see
What a great heap of grief lay hid in me,
And how the red wild sparkles dimly burn
Through the ashen grayness.
If thy foot in scorn
Could tread them out to darkness utterly,
It might be well perhaps.
But if instead
Thou wait beside me for the wind to blow
The gray dust up, .
those laurels on thine head,
O my Beloved, will not shield thee so,
That none of all the fires shall scorch and shred
The hair beneath.
Stand farther off then! go.
Francesco Petrarch |
Sì breve è 'l tempo e 'l pensier sì veloce.
THE REMEMBRANCE OF HER CHASES SADNESS FROM HIS HEART.
So brief the time, so fugitive the thought
Which Laura yields to me, though dead, again,
Small medicine give they to my giant pain;
Still, as I look on her, afflicts me nought.
Love, on the rack who holds me as he brought,
Fears when he sees her thus my soul retain,
Where still the seraph face and sweet voice reign,
Which first his tyranny and triumph wrought.
[Pg 248]As rules a mistress in her home of right,
From my dark heavy heart her placid brow
Dispels each anxious thought and omen drear.
My soul, which bears but ill such dazzling light,
Says with a sigh: "O blessed day! when thou
Didst ope with those dear eyes thy passage here!"
Francesco Petrarch |
Quel sol che mi mostrava il cammin destro.
LOVE AND HE SEEK LAURA, BUT FIND NO TRACES OF HER EXCEPT IN THE SKY.
That sun, which ever signall'd the right road,
Where flash'd her own bright feet, to heaven to fly,
Returning to the Eternal Sun on high,
Has quench'd my light, and cast her earthly load;
Thus, lone and weary, my oft steps have trode,
As some wild animal, the sere woods by,
Fleeing with heavy heart and downcast eye
The world which since to me a blank has show'd.
Still with fond search each well-known spot I pace
Where once I saw her: Love, who grieves me so,
My only guide, directs me where to go.
[Pg 265]I find her not: her every sainted trace
Seeks, in bright realms above, her parent star
From grisly Styx and black Avernus far.
Friedrich von Schiller |
Beside the brook the boy reclined
And wove his flowery wreath,
And to the waves the wreath consigned--
The waves that danced beneath.
"So fleet mine hours," he sighed, "away
Like waves that restless flow:
And so my flowers of youth decay
Like those that float below.
"Ask not why I, alone on earth,
Am sad in life's young time;
To all the rest are hope and mirth
When spring renews its prime.
Alas! the music Nature makes,
In thousand songs of gladness--
While charming all around me, wakes
My heavy heart to sadness.
"Ah! vain to me the joys that break
From spring, voluptuous are;
For only one 't is mine to seek--
The near, yet ever far!
I stretch my arms, that shadow-shape
In fond embrace to hold;
Still doth the shade the clasp escape--
The heart is unconsoled!"
"Come forth, fair friend, come forth below,
And leave thy lofty hall,
The fairest flowers the spring can know
In thy dear lap shall fall!
Clear glides the brook in silver rolled,
Sweet carols fill the air;
The meanest hut hath space to hold
A happy loving pair!"
Elizabeth Barrett Browning |
And therefore if to love can be desert,
I am not all unworthy.
Cheeks as pale
As these you see, and trembling knees that fail
To bear the burden of a heavy heart,—
This weary minstrel-life that once was girt
To climb Aornus, and can scarce avail
To pipe now 'gainst the valley nightingale
A melancholy music,—why advert
To these things? O Beloved, it is plain
I am not of thy worth nor for thy place!
And yet, because I love thee, I obtain
From that same love this vindicating grace,
To live on still in love, and yet in vain,—
To bless thee, yet renounce thee to thy face.
Francesco Petrarch |
Lasciato hai, Morte, senza sole il mondo.
HER TRUE WORTH WAS KNOWN ONLY TO HIM AND TO HEAVEN.
Death, thou the world, since that dire arrow sped,
Sunless and cold hast left; Love weak and blind;
Beauty and grace their brilliance have resign'd,
And from my heavy heart all joy is fled;
Honour is sunk, and softness banishèd.
I weep alone the woes which all my kind
Should weep—for virtue's fairest flower has pined
Beneath thy touch: what second blooms instead?
Let earth, sea, air, with common wail bemoan
Man's hapless race; which now, since Laura died,
[Pg 296]A flowerless mead, a gemless ring appears.
The world possess'd, nor knew her worth, till flown!
I knew it well, who here in grief abide;
And heaven too knows, which decks its forehead with my tears.
Thou, Death, hast left this world's dark cheerless way
Without a sun: Love blind and stripp'd of arms;
Left mirth despoil'd; beauty bereaved of charms;
And me self-wearied, to myself a prey;
Left vanish'd, sunk, whate'er was courteous, gay:
I only weep, yet all must feel alarms:
If beauty's bud the hand of rapine harms
It dies, and not a second views the day!
Let air, earth, ocean weep for human kind;
For human kind, deprived of Laura, seems
A flowerless mead, a ring whose gem is lost.
None knew her worth while to this orb confined,
Save me her bard, whose sorrow ceaseless streams,
And heaven, that's made more beauteous at my cost.