Imatges de pÓgina
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Ere yet her pale lips could the story impart,
For a moment the hat met her view;
Her eyes from that object convulsively start,
For what a cold horror then thrill'd through
her heart

When the name of her Richard she knew!

Where the old Abbey stands, on the Common hard by,

His gibbet is now to be seen;

His irons you still from the road may espy; The traveller beholds them, and thinks with a sigh

Of poor Mary, the Maid of the Inn.

Robert Southey.-Born 1774, Died 1843.

1227.-ST. ROMUALD.

One day, it matters not to know
How many hundred years ago,

A Frenchman stopt at an inn door :
The Landlord came to welcome him and chat
Of this and that,

For he had seen the traveller there before.
"Doth holy Romuald dwell
Still in his cell?"

The Traveller ask'd, "or is the old man dead ?"

"No; he has left his loving flock, and we So great a Christian never more shall see," The Landlord answer'd, and he shook his head.

"Ah, sir, we knew his worth!

If ever there did live a saint on earth!
Why, sir, he always used to wear a shirt
For thirty days, all seasons, day and night.
Good man, he knew it was not right
For Dust and Ashes to fall out with
Dirt!

And then he only hung it out in the rain,
And put it on again.

There has been perilous work

With him and the Devil there in yonder

cell;

For Satan used to maul him like a Turk.
There they would sometimes fight,
All through a winter's night,

From sunset until morn.

He with a cross, the Devil with his horn; The Devil spitting fire with might and main, Enough to make St. Michael half afraid: He splashing holy water till he made His red hide hiss again, And the hot vapour fill'd the smoking cell. This was so common that his face became All black and yellow with the brimstone flame,

And then he smelt... O dear, how he did smell!

Then, sir, to see how he would mortify The flesh! If any one had dainty fare,

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1228.-TO HESTER.

When maidens such as Hester die,
Their place ye may not well supply,
Though ye among a thousand try,

With vain endeavour.

A month or more she hath been dead,
Yet cannot I by force be led
To think upon the wormy bed,
And her together.

A springy motion in her gait,
A rising step, did indicate

Of pride and joy no common rate,
That flush'd her spirit.

I know not by what name beside
I shall it call:-if 'twas not pride,
It was a joy to that allied,
She did inherit.

Her parents held the Quaker rule,
Which doth the human feeling cool:
But she was train'd in Nature's school;
Nature had blest her.

A waking eye, a prying mind,

A heart that stirs, is hard to bind,

A hawk's keen sight ye cannot blind,
Ye could not Hester.

My sprightly neighbour! gone before
To that unknown and silent shore,
Shall we not meet, as heretofore,
Some summer morning,

When from thy cheerful eyes a ray
Hath struck a bliss upon the day,
A bliss that would not go away,
A sweet fore-warning?

Charles Lamb.-Born 1775, Died 1835.

1229.-A FAREWELL TO TOBACCO. May the Babylonish curse

Straight confound my stammering verse,
If I can a passage see
In this word-perplexity,
Or a fit expression find,
Or a language to my mind

(Still the phrase is wide or scant),
To take leave of thee, Great Plant !
Or in any terms relate

Half my love, or half my hate:

For I hate, yet love thee so,
That, whichever thing I show,
The plain truth will seem to be
A constrain'd hyperbole,
And the passion to proceed
More from a mistress than a weed.

Sooty retainer to the vine,
Bacchus' black servant, negro fine;
Sorcerer, that mak'st us dote upon
Thy begrimed complexion,
And, for thy pernicious sake,
More and greater oaths to break
Than reclaimèd lovers take

'Gainst women: thou thy siege dost lay
Much too in the female way,
While thou suck'st the lab'ring breath
Faster than kisses or than death.

Thou in such a cloud dost bind us, That our worst foes cannot find us, And ill fortune, that would thwart us, Shoots at rovers, shooting at us; While each man, through thy height'ning

steam,

Does like a smoking Etna seem,
And all about us does express
(Fancy and wit in richest dress)
A Sicilian fruitfulness.

Thou through such a mist dost show us,
That our best friends do not know us,
And, for those allowed features,
Due to reasonable creatures,
Liken'st us to fell Chimeras,
Monsters that, who see us, fear us;
Worse than Cerberus or Geryon,
Or, who first loved a cloud, Ixion.

Bacchus we know, and we allow His tipsy rites. But what art thou,

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That but by reflex canst show
What his deity can do,

As the false Egyptian spell
Aped the true Hebrew miracle?
Some few vapours thou mayst raise,
The weak brain may serve to amaze,
But to the reins and nobler heart,
Canst nor life nor heat impart.

Brother of Bacchus, later born,
The old world was sure forlorn
Wanting thee, that aidest more
The god's victories than before
All his panthers, and the brawls
Of his piping Bacchanals.
These, as stale, we disallow,
Or judge of thee meant: only thou
His true Indian conquest art;
And, for ivy round his dart,
The reformed god now weaves
A finer thyrsus of thy leaves.

Scent to match thy rich perfume
Chemic art did ne'er presume;
Through her quaint alembic strain,
None so sov'reign to the brain:
Nature, that did in thee excel,
Framed again no second smell.
Roses, violets, but toys.

For the smaller sort of boys,

Or for greener damsels meant ;
Thou art the only manly scent.

Stinking'st of the stinking kind,

Filth of the mouth and fog of the mind,
Africa, that brags her foison,
Breeds no such prodigious poison;
Henbane, nightshade, both together,
Hemlock, aconite-

Nay, rather,

Plant divine, of rarest virtue : Blisters on the tongue would hurt you. 'Twas but in a sort I blamed thee;

None e'er prosper'd who defamed thee;
Irony all, and feign'd abuse,

Such as perplex'd lovers use
At a need, when, in despair

To paint forth their fairest fair,

Or in part but to express
That exceeding comeliness

Which their fancies doth so strike,
They borrow language of dislike;
And, instead of Dearest Miss,
Jewel, Honey, Sweetheart, Bliss,
And those forms of old admiring,
Call her Cockatrice and Siren,
Basilisk, and all that's evil,
Witch, Hyena, Mermaid, Devil,
Ethiop, Wench, and Blackamoor,
Monkey, Ape, and twenty more;
Friendly Trait'ress, loving Foe-
Not that she is truly so,
But no other way they know
A contentment to express,
Borders so upon excess,
That they do not rightly wot
Whether it be pain or not.

Or, as men, constrain'd to part
With what's nearest to their heart,
While their sorrow's at the height,
Lose discrimination quite,
And their hasty wrath let fall,

To appease their frantic gall,
On the darling thing whatever,
Whence they feel it death to sever,
Though it be, as they, perforce,
Guiltless of the sad divorce.

For I must (nor let it grieve thee, Friendliest of plants, that I must) leave thee;

For thy sake, Tobacco, I
Would do anything but die,
And but seek to extend my days
Long enough to sing thy praise.
But as she, who once hath been
A king's consort, is a queen
Ever after, nor will bate
Any tittle of her state,
Though a widow, or divorced,
So I, from thy converse forced,
The old name and style retain,
A right Katherine of Spain;
And a seat, too, 'mongst the joys
Of the blest Tobacco Boys;
Where, though I, by sour physician,
And debarr'd the full fruition

Of thy favours, I may catch

Some collateral sweets, and snatch
Sidelong odours, that give life
Like glances from a neighbour's wife;
And still live in the by-places
And the suburbs of thy graces;
And in thy borders take delight,
An unconquer'd Canaanite.

Charles Lamb.-Born 1775, Died 1835.

1230.-THE OLD FAMILIAR FACES.

I have had playmates, I have had companions, In my days of childhood, in my joyful schooldays;

All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

I have been laughing, I have been carousing, Drinking late, sitting late, with my bosom cronies;

All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

I loved a love once, fairest among women; Closed are her doors on me, I must not see her;

All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

I have a friend, a kinder friend has no man; Like an ingrate I left my friend abruptly; Left him, to muse on the old familiar faces.

Ghost-like I paced round the haunts of my

childhood;

Earth seem'd a desert I was bound to

traverse,

Seeking to find the old familiar faces.

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Friend of my bosom, thou more than a brother,

Why wert not thou born in my father's dwelling?

So might we talk of the old familiar faces

How some they have died, and some they have left me,

And some are taken from me; all are departed;

All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

Charles Lamb.-Born 1775, Died 1835.

1231.-ON AN INFANT DYING AS SOON AS BORN.

I saw where in the shroud did lurk

A curious frame of Nature's work;
A flow'ret crushèd in the bud

A nameless piece of Babyhood

Was in her cradle-coffin lying;

Extinct, with scarce the sense of dying:

So soon to exchange the imprisoning womb
For darker closets of the tomb!

She did but ope an eye, and put

A clear beam forth, then straight up shut
For the long dark: ne'er more to see
Through glasses of mortality.
Riddle of destiny, who can show
What thy short visit meant, or know
What thy errand here below?
Shall we say, that Nature blind
Check'd her hand, and changed her mind
Just when she had exactly wrought
A finish'd pattern without fault?
Could she flag, or could she tire,
Or lack'd she the Promethean fire
(With her nine moons' long
sicken'd)

workings

That should thy little limbs have quicken'd?
Limbs so firm, they seem'd to assure
Life of health, and days mature:
Woman's self in miniature!
Limbs so fair, they might supply
(Themselves now but cold imagery)
The sculptor to make Beauty by.
Or did the stern-eyed Fate descry
That babe or mother, one must die;
So in mercy left the stock

And cut the branch; to save the shock
Of young years widow'd, and the pain
When Single State comes back again
To the lone man who, reft of wife,
Thenceforward drags a maimèd life?
The economy of Heaven is dark,

And wisest clerks have miss'd the mark
Why human buds, like this, should fall
More brief than fly ephemeral

That has his day; while shrivell'd crones
Stiffen with age to stocks and stones;
And crabbed use the conscience sears
In sinners of an hundred years.
-Mother's prattle, mother's kiss,
Baby fond, thou ne'er wilt miss :

Rites, which custom does impose,
Silver bells, and baby clothes;
Coral redder than those lips
Which pale death did late eclipse;
Music framed for infants' glee,
Whistle never tuned for thee;

Though thou want'st not, thou shalt have them,

Loving hearts were they which gave them.
Let not one be missing; nurse,

See them laid upon the hearse
Of infant slain by doom perverse.
Why should kings and nobles have
Pictured trophies to their grave,

And we, churls, to thee deny

Thy pretty toys with thee to lie-
A more harmless vanity?

Charles Lamb.-Born 1775, Died 1835.

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Black manhood comes, when riotous guilty living

Hands thee the cup that shall be death in tasting.

Kiss, baby, kiss! mother's lips shine by, kisses;

Choke the warm breath that else would fall in blessings:

Black manhood comes, when turbulent guilty blisses

Tend thee the kiss that poisons 'mid caressings.

Hang, baby, hang! mother's love loves such forces;

Strain the fond neck that bends still to thy clinging:

Black manhood comes, when violent lawless

courses

Leave thee a spectacle in rude air swinging."

So sang a wither'd beldam energetical, And bann'd the ungiving door with lips prophetical.

Charles Lamb.-Born 1775, Died 1835.

1234.-CHILDHOOD.

In my poor mind it is most sweet to muse
Upon the days gone by; to act in thought
Past seasons o'er, and be again a child;
To sit in fancy on the turf-clad slope,
Down which the child would roll; to pluck
gay flowers,

Make posies in the sun, which the child's hand

(Childhood offended soon, soon reconciled,) Would throw away, and straight take up again,

Then fling them to the winds, and o'er the lawn

Bound with so playful and so light a foot, That the press'd daisy scarce declined her head.

Charles Lamb.-Born 1775, Died 1835.

1235.-STAFFA.

Staffa, I scaled thy summit hoar,

I pass'd beneath thy arch gigantic, Whose pillar'd cavern swells the roar, When thunders on thy rocky shore The roll of the Atlantic.

That hour the wind forgot to rave,
The surge forgot its motion,
And every pillar in thy cave
Slept in its shadow on the wave,
Unrippled by the ocean.

Then the past age before me came,
When 'mid the lightning's sweep,
Thy isle with its basaltic frame,
And every column wreath'd with flame,
Burst from the boiling deep.

When 'mid Iona's wrecks meanwhile
O'er sculptured graves I trod,
Where Time had strewn each mouldering
aisle

O'er saints and kings that rear'd the pile,
I hail'd the eternal God:

Yet, Staffa, more I felt his presence in thy

cave

Than where Iona's cross rose o'er the western wave.

William Sotheby.-Born 1757, Died 1833.

1236.-APPROACH OF SAUL AND HIS GUARDS AGAINST THE PHILISTINES.

Hark! hark! the clash and clang
Of shaken cymbals cadencing the pace
Of martial movement regular; the swell
Sonorous of the brazen trump of war;
Shrill twang of harps, soothed by melodious
chime

Of beat on silver bars; and sweet, in pause
Of harsher instrument, continuous flow
Of breath, through flutes, in symphony with
song,

Choirs, whose match'd voices fill'd the air afar

With jubilee and chant of triumph hymn;
And ever and anon irregular burst
Of loudest acclamation to each host
Saul's stately advance proclaim'd.

him, youths

Before

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