1793
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode on the death of Marianne, from Haller.

Curiosities of Literature. Volume the Second. [Isaac D'Israeli, ed.]

Henry James Pye


An outpouring of sentimental grief in sixteen irregular Spenserians (ababcC): "That heart employ'd to soothe my every care; | These once my fondest joy, these now my deep despair" p. 546. The Swiss poet Albrecht von Haller lived from 1708-1777.



Say, can I sing my Marianna's death?
How sing, alas! — my breast, with anguish fraught,
While heart-felt sighs suppress the labouring breath,
Words crowd on words, and thought contends with thought.
Pleasures now past embitter present woe,
Afresh my bosom bleeds, anew my sorrows flow.

My love too strong, too much thy worth I feel,
Too deep thy form emprinted on my breast,
For silent grief my suff'rings to conceal;
My love is sooth'd while its sad power's express'd,
And the sweet image of our union chaste,
Bliss now for ever fled, by mem'ry's hand is trac'd.

Not these the studied elegies of art,
The fancied coinage of the poet's brain,
These the full tribute of the tortur'd heart,
Hopeless its gush of anguish to restrain.
A soul in love, in grief immers'd they shew,
Plung'd in affliction's gloom, a labyrinth of woe.

Even now, as when in deep despair I hung
O'er thy sad couch, thy dying form I see,
While the last accents trembled on thy tongue,
While the expiring sigh was breath'd for me.
Love's sweetest sound attun'd thy latest breath,
And resignation mild disarm'd the stroke of death.

Amid these scenes in tenfold horror drest,
Where shall I hide my desolated head?
Yon widow'd roof was with her presence blest,
Yon sacred dome, alas! now holds her dead.
These infant tongues, that lisp her name to me!—
Where shall I fly, blest saint? — Ah! why not fly to thee?

Pure from the heart these drops of anguish fall;
I was at once thy lover, husband, friend;
For me you left sire, mother, sister, all,
Pleas'd every tender name with mine to blend.
Far from your country, friends, to me you gave
Your hand — alas the while! — I led you to the grave.

In a lov'd sister's fond and last embrace,
When now you left your native fields behind,
When now the lessening hills we faintly trace,
With smiles of fondness to my hopes resign'd,
Friends, parents, country, race, adieu! you cried,
What have I to regret? my Haller's by my side.

Sad Memory, recall the nuptial hour,
Which yet with transient pleasure blends my tear,
Where rapture still exerts a gloomy power,
While swells the wounded breast with love sincere.
For me thy heart wealth, beauty, birth despis'd,
And slighting fortune's gifts, alone my passion priz'd.

The pleasures of the world, the pride of youth,
For me abandon'd, thou wert all my own,
Mirror of constancy, of fondness, truth,
Thy matchless beauties bloom'd for me alone;
To please thy faithful mate thy sole employ,
His grief thy only care, his smile thy only joy.

A will estrang'd from earth, to heaven resign'd,
Th' unruffled calm of sweet tranquility,
Fill'd with maternal love the gentlest mind,
The tenderest heart, and yet from weakness free,
That heart employ'd to soothe my every care;
These once my fondest joy, these now my deep despair.

And I have lov'd thee — more than words could tell,
More than th' unfeeling million can conceive—
My conscious bosom hardly knows how well.—
How oft in silent sorrow would I grieve,
Even when I clasp'd thee to my throbbing heart,
To think this hour might come, to think we e'er must part!

The source of tears may dry, but sorrow deep
Can never never quit my tortur'd soul.
The broken heart too sure shall ceaseless weep,
Tho' down the cheek no more the currents roll;
The fond remembrance of my earliest flame,
Virtue and spotless truth, eternal sorrow claim.

Deep in the bosom of the forest glade,
The beech high waving o'er the gloomy waste,
I pour'd my sorrows to the silent shade,
While waking dreams thy shadowy image trac'd,
I saw thy form, thy mein, the soft concern
My absence gave, the smiles that greeted my return.

When midnight spreads her sable curtains round,
I lift my eyes to heaven's empyreal seat,
Pursue thy image thro' the vast profound,
Beyond the stars that roll beneath thy feet.
Thy virtues there with beam celestial shine,
Assume superior charms, and lustre all divine.

There 'mid the fountain of perennial joys,
Reading the councils of th' Eternal Mind,
Mix'd with the angel host, thy gentle voice
Breathes one fond prayer for him now left behind.
In Fate's dread page, unfolded there you see
The cause that broke our bands, and Heaven's severe decree.

O perfect soul! whom, loving to express,
I lov'd not yet half equal to thy worth,
How bright thy form in heaven's ethereal dress!—
Hope's vivid pinions lift me from the earth:
Accept my vows, for to thy arms I soar,
Where sorrow ne'er shall come, nor death divide us more!

[pp. 544-48]