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Arabella Stuart

Felicia Dorothea Hemans 1793 (Liverpool, Lancashire) – 1835 (Dublin, County Dublin)

And is not love in vain,
Torture enough without a living tomb?

Byron

Fermossi al fin il cor che balzò tanto.

Pindemonte

I

'TWAS but a dream!–I saw the stag leap free,
Under the boughs where early birds were singing,
I stood, o'ershadowed by the greenwood tree,
And heard, it seemed, a sudden bugle ringing
Far thro' a royal forest: then the fawn
Shot, like a gleam of light, from grassy lawn
To secret covert; and the smooth turf shook,
And lilies quiver'd by the glade's lone brook,

And young leaves trembled, as, in fleet career,
A princely band, with horn, and hound, and spear,
Like a rich masque swept forth. I saw the dance
Of their white plumes, that bore a silvery glance
Into the deep wood's heart; and all pass'd by
Save one–I met the smile of one clear eye,
Flashing out joy to mine. Yes, thou wert there,
Seymour! a soft wind blew the clustering hair
Back from thy gallant brow, as thou didst rein
Thy courser, turning from that gorgeous train,
And fling, methought, thy hunting-spear away,
And, lightly graceful in thy green array,
Bound to my side; and we, that met and parted,
Ever in dread of some dark watchful power,
Won back to childhood's trust, and fearless-hearted,
Blent the glad fulness of our thoughts that hour,
Even like the mingling of sweet streams, beneath
Dim woven leaves, and midst the floating breath
Of hidden forest flowers.

II

'Tis past!–I wake,
A captive, and alone, and far from thee,
My love and friend!–Yet fostering, for thy sake,
A quenchless hope of happiness to be,
And feeling still my woman's spirit strong,
In the deep faith which lifts from earthly wrong
A heavenward glance. I know, I know our love
Shall yet call gentle angels from above,
By its undying fervour; and prevail,
Sending a breath, as of the spring's first gale,
Thro' hearts now cold; and, raising its bright face,
With a free gush of sunny tears, erase
The characters of anguish. In this trust,
I bear, I strive, I bow not to the dust,
That I may bring thee back no faded form,
No bosom chill'd and blighted by the storm,
But all my youth's first treasures, when we meet,
Making past sorrow, by communion, sweet.

III

And thou too art in bonds!–yet droop thou not,
Oh, my belov'd!–there is one hopeless lot,
But one, and that not ours. Beside the dead
There sits the grief that mantles up its head,
Loathing the laughter and proud pomp of light,
When darkness, from the vainly-doting sight,
Covers its beautiful! 1 If thou wert gone
To the grave's bosom, with thy radiant brow,–
If thy deep-thrilling voice, with that low tone
Of earnest tenderness, which now, ev'n now,
Seems floating thro' my soul, were music taken
For ever from this world,–oh! thus forsaken,
Could I bear on?–thou liv'st, thou liv'st, thou'rt mine!
–With this glad thought I make my heart a shrine,
And, by the lamp which quenchless there shall burn,
Sit, a lone watcher for the day's return.

IV

And lo! the joy that cometh with the morning,
Brightly victorious o'er the hours of care!
I have not watch'd in vain, serenely scorning
The wild and busy whispers of despair!
Thou hast sent tidings, as of heaven.–I wait
The hour, the sign, for blessed flight to thee.
Oh! for the skylark's wing that seeks its mate
As a star shoots!–but on the breezy sea
We shall meet soon.–To think of such an hour!
Will not my heart, o'erburdened by its bliss,
Faint and give way within me, as a flower
Borne down and perishing by noontide's kiss?
–Yet shall I fear that lot?–the perfect rest,
The full deep joy of dying on thy breast,
After long-suffering won? So rich a close
Too seldom crowns with peace affection's woes.

V

Sunset!–I tell each moment–from the skies
The last red splendour floats along my wall,
Like a king's banner!–Now it melts, it dies!
I see one star–I hear–'twas not the call,
Th' expected voice; my quick heart throbb'd too soon.
I must keep vigil till yon rising moon
Shower down less golden light. Beneath her beam
Thro' my lone lattice pour'd, I sit and dream
Of summer-lands afar, where holy love,
Under the vine or in the citron-grove,
May breathe from terror.
Now the night grows deep,
And silent as its clouds, and full of sleep.
I hear my veins beat.–Hark! a bell's slow chime.
My heart strikes with it.–Yet again–'tis time!
A step!–a voice!–or but a rising breeze?
–Hark! haste!–I come, to meet thee on the seas.

VI

Now never more
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Felicia Dorothea Hemans

Felicia Dorothea Hemans was an English poet. Two of her opening lines, "The boy stood on the burning deck" and "The stately homes of England", have acquired classic status. more…

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