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Extracts From Leon. An Unfinished Poem

Joseph Rodman Drake 1795 (New York City) – 1820 (New York City)



IT is a summer evening, calm and fair,
A warm, yet freshening glow is in the air;
Along its bank, the cool stream wanders slow,
Like parting friends that linger as they go.
The willows, as its waters meekly glide,
Bend their dishevelled tresses to the tide,
And seem to give it, with a moaning sigh,
A farewell touch of tearful sympathy.
Each dusky copse is clad in darkest green:
A blackening mass, just edged with silver sheen
From yon clear moon, who in her glassy face
Seems to reflect the risings of the place.
For on her still, pale orb, the eye may see
Dim spots of shadowy brown, like distant tree
Or far-off hillocks on a moonlight lea.

The stars have lit in heaven their lamps of gold,
The viewless dew falls lightly on the wold,
The gentle air, that softly sweeps the leaves,
A strain of faint, unearthly music weaves;
As when the harp of heaven remotely plays,
Or cygnet's wail - or song of sorrowing fays
That float amid the moonshine glimmerings pale,
On wings of woven air in some enchanted vale.

It is an eve that drops a heavenly balm,
To lull the feelings to a sober calm,
To bid wild passion's fiery flush depart;
And smooth the troubled waters of the heart;
To give a tranquil fixedness to grief,
A cherished gloom, that wishes not relief.

Torn is that heart, and bitter are its throes,
That cannot feel on such a night, repose;
And yet one breast there is that breathes this air,
An eye that wanders o'er the prospect fair,
That sees yon placid moon, and the pure sky
Of mild, unclouded blue; and still that eye
Is thrown in restless vacancy around,
Or cast, in gloomy trance, on the cold ground;
And still, that breast with maddening passion burns,
And hatred, love, and sorrow, rule by turns.

A lovely figure! and in happier hour,
When pleasure laugh'd abroad from hall and bower,
The general eye had deem'd her smiling face
The brightest jewel in the courtly place:
So glossy is her hair's ensabled wreath,
So glowing warm the eye that burns beneath
With so much graceful sweetness of address,
And such a form of rounded slenderness;
Ah! where is he on whom these beauties shine,
But deems a spotless soul inhabits such a shrine?

And yet a keen observer might espy
Strange passions lurking in her deep black eye,
And in the lines of her fine lip, a soul
That in its every feeling spurned control.
They passed unnoted - who will stop to trace
A sullying spot on beauty's sparkling face?
And no one deemed, amid her glances sweet,
Hers was a bosom of impetuous heat;
A heart too wildly in its joys elate,
Formed but to madly love - or madly hate;
A spirit of strong throbs, and steadfast will;
To doat, detest, to die for, or to kill;
Which, like the Arab chief, would fiercely dare
To stab the heart she might no longer share;
And yet so tender, if he loved again,
Would die to save his breast one moment's pain.

But he who cast his gaze upon her now,
And read the traces written on her brow,
Had scarce believed hers was that form of light
That beamed like fabled wonder on the sight;
Her raven hair hung down in loosen'd tress
Before her wan cheek's pallid ghastliness;
And, thro' its thick locks, showed the deadly white,
Like marble glimpses of a tomb, at night.
In fixed and horrid musings now she stands,
Her eyes now bent to earth, and her cold hands,
Prest to her heart, now wildly thrown on high,
They wander o'er her brow - and now a sigh
Breaks deep and full - and, more composedly,
She half exclaims - 'No! no! - it cannot be;
'He loves not, never loved - not even when
'He pressed my wedded hand - I knew it then;
'And yet - fool that I was - I saw he strove
'In vain to kindle pity into love.
'But Florence! she so loved - a sister too!
'My earliest, dearest playmate - one who grew
'Upon my very heart - to rend it so!
'His falsehood I could bear - but hers! ah! no.
'She is not false - I feel she loves me yet,
'And if my boding bosom could forget
'Its wild imaginings, with what sweet pain
'I'd clasp my Florence to my breast again.'
With that came many a thought of days gone by,
Remembered joys of mirthful infancy;
And youth's gay frolic, and the short-lived flow
Of showering tears, in childhood's fleeting wo,
And life's maturer friendship - and the sense
Of heart-warm, open, fearless confidence;
All these came thronging with a tender call,
And her own Florence mingled with them all.
And softened feelings rose amid
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Joseph Rodman Drake

Joseph Rodman Drake was an early American poet. more…

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    "Extracts From Leon. An Unfinished Poem" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 17 Jan. 2022. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/24544/extracts-from-leon.-an-unfinished-poem>.

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    • A. 1725
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