1822
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Irad and Adah; a Tale of the Flood. Part I. Guilt.

Irad and Adah, a Tale of the Flood. Poems. Specimens of a new Translation of the Psalms. By Thomas Dale, of Bene't College, Cambridge.

Rev. Thomas Dale


Mostly in Spenserians, by a Cambridge undergraduate and future professor of English literature. Thomas Dale later edited an annual called The Iris, a Literary and Religious Offering, which in its first number (1830) published poems Richard and Mary Howitt, Thomas Pringle, Robert Millhouse, Mary Ann Browne, William Jerdan, Alaric Alexander Watts, William Branwhite Clarke, and Catherine Grace Godwin — all of whom had published poems in Spenserians stanzas.

The narrative in Irad and Adah is more effective than that in the William and Mary Howitt's Destruction of Eyam (1827) and the most of the other Spenserian poems on such apocalyptic themes — the rising waters are really terrifying: "Shall the wave | O'erwhelm thee lingering? No! one respite more— | Yet — while thou may'st — the boon of Mercy crave:— | Struggling he rose, and in his arms he bore | His Adah, soon to part for ever — or no more."

Ladies' Monthly Museum: "The publication of Cain, a Mystery, by Lord Byron, seems to have inspired his contemporaries with an uncommon itching to dramatise and represent antediluvian scenes and characters. Mr. Lindsay has published some dramas of the old world, and Irad and Adah, a tale of the Flood, is now before us. We confess we do not see any great good in this species of writing, even where there is not the positive evil to be found in the noble author's Cain. The materials whence any information can be drawn are so extremely scanty, that nearly all rests on conjecture, or must be in opposition to the authentic records of the Bible. The story of Irad and Adah is of the former of these two classes; it certainly does not invalidate the inspired records — on the contrary, the account it gives of the antediluvian world seems justified by the biblical narrative. The race of Cain are represented as worshipping the whole host of Heaven, particularly the Sun. Irad, one of this race, endued with every personal charm, but laden with the guilt of murder, feeling the curse of Cain upon himself, flies from his kindred, and wandering to the mountains, encounters and falls in love with Adah, a daughter of the race of Seth. In giving utterance to his love-tale, he confesses his guilt, notwithstanding which, Adah accepts his love, and departs from the worship of her God. The poetry of this first part is beautiful, and very frequently very powerful" S3 15 (March 1822) 157.

Blackwood's Magazine: "Adah and Irad are a young pair of lovers, who, having wantonly wandered from the true faith, and resisted the prophetic admonitions of the blessed Noah, are involved, although repentant, in the great calamity of the human race, and die together amidst the rising waves of the irresistible Flood. It is impossible to deny, that here lie materials for noble poetry; and our opinion is, very briefly but very decidedly, that such poetry has been produced by Mr. Dale.... These passages may suffice to give an adequate idea of Mr. Dale's success in the management of the noblest stanza in our language — the Spenserian. Most of the poets who write that stanza at present, give too much into imitation of the march which it assumes in Childe HaroldLord Byron's favourite mixture of hurried apostrophe or interrogation — with lofty and long strains of declamation. Mr. Croly in particular, in his Angel of the World, fell into this error; for such imitation is always an error, in a way not quite worthy of his high genius. Mr Dale has adhered much more closely to the gentle flow of Spenser himself, and Thomson in the Castle of Indolence. The stanza so treated is surely not a whit less dignified. Indeed we are of opinion that the solemn sweep of Mr. Dale's versification is much more in unison with the character of the terrible subject with which he has dealt, and the profound emotions which he has endeavoured, and we think successfully, to raise" 12 (July 1822) 61, 66-67.

Literary Gazette: "The Spenserian stanza is principally used, though all kinds and lengths, from the tripping verse of six syllables to the heroic one of ten, are employed. This alteration of rhythm is productive of very good effect: magnificent, nay unequalled, as the Spenserian stanza is for description, it is perhaps but little calculated for narrative; the impassioned tale of Irad tells far better in the rapid flow of octo-syllabic verse, than it would in the measured cadence of the other more stately stanza" (26 October 1822) 674.

Robert Shelton Mackenzie: "The Rev. Dr. Dale, author of The Widow of Nain, Irad and Adah, and other poems, is now prebendary of St. Paul's, and Rector of St. Pancras, the largest parish in London" Noctes Ambrosianae, ed. Mackenzie (1854) 1:224n.

Samuel Austin Allibone: "Thomas Dale, b. 1797, Canon-Residentiary of St. Paul's, and Vicar of St. Pancras" Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 1:465.



Fair art thou, Syria! when the summer rose
Wreathes thy green laurels in its virgin-prime;
Fair, when the mellowed ray of Autumn glows
On the hoar summits of thy hills sublime;
But thou wert fairer in the morn of Time,
In Earth's young loveliness, when bounteous Heaven
Shed all its splendours on thy cloudless clime;
Nor yet wild Ocean's vengeful waves were driven
O'er thy devotes plains, to whelm the unforgiven.

And thus I sing thee, ere the foaming flood
Had swept thy vallies; — while the smiling land,
By God's approving voice recorded "Good,"
Bore the fresh impress of his Master-hand:
A bluer wave broke sparkling o'er the strand;
With broader radiance beamed the Orb above;
And softer gales with richer fragrance fanned
A clearer fountain and a cooler grove,
And all beneath the sky was harmony and love.

All save the heart of Man. Enshrouded there
A Sorceress lurked, whose rancour fierce and fell
Could shed pollution o'er a scene so fair;
And, by the potent poison of her spell,
Transform Mankind to Demons — Earth to Hell;—
Yea, e'en to God's own seat th' Enchantress soared,
Raising a feud His arm alone could quell;
Then Seraphs sank beneath her wiles abhorred,
And now on guilty man she draws th' avenging sword.

But all as yet is Beauty. From his throne
Of Glory, crowned with those meridian beams
Which daunt up-soaring Eagles, the high Sun
Looks down resplendent: earth, sea, mountains, streams
Smile in his lustre, till Creation seems
To emulate the splendours of the skies;
Bright as the rapt Arabian fondly deems
Of promised fountains pure, and suns that rise
To set no more for aye o'er plains of Paradise.

Yet the full blaze of noon's pervading ray
Descends in vain o'er yon umbrageous grove,
Where the tall cypress and o'ershadowing bay
And brown beech mingling with the plant of love
Form many a fragrant bower, and arched alcove;
While flowers of matchless beauty deck the sod;
Such as the first and fairest Virgin wove
To wreathe her brow; — such, where th' Eternal trod,
Glad Earth spontaneous poured; meet homage to her God.

There too from every cleft transparent gushing
Unnumbered rills their devious course pursue;
From crag to crag with wanton wildness rushing;
Tinging with silvery foam their waters blue;
Or smoothly flowing, like the mirror true
Of that clear fount, where young Narcissus viewed
His own dark eye, and soft cheek's blooming hue;
With plaintive prayers th' illusive image wooed,
Then rushed with fond embrace, and clasped the faithless flood;

He clasped and maddened. But of this sweet grove
Shall future bards in pensive numbers sing
A lay of fonder and more hopeless love;—
How, as fair Daphne in the lucid spring
Pranked her light tresses, Day's enamoured King
Chased the coy maid — in breathless wild dismay
She fled, but Dian stooped her aid to bring;
The plant which, like his love, knows no decay,
By Phoebus hence was worn, the pure perennial bay.

O that a scene, where Man might almost deem
His Paradise restored, his fall forgiven;
And hail the presence of the Great Supreme
As in the Eden whence his Sire was driven,
Should only lead him more astray from heaven!
O that his soul, with worse than frenzied madness,
Should bind the chain, which Mercy else had riven;
And change the bowers of bliss, the hymn of gladness,
To scenes of bleak despair, and harrowing shrieks of sadness.

On that famed mount, from whose cloud-mantled brow,
While the still earth is yet in darkness sleeping,
Thy wondering eye can trace Day's orient glow
The Eastern skies in golden glory steeping;
The youths and virgins of the land are keeping
With sacrifice and song, their rites divine;
And while on many an altar Priests are heaping
Sabaean odours, round each stately shrine
They raise the votive lay; the graceful dance entwine:

Away! nor listen to the silver lyre,
Nor heed the music of the choral strain;
The minstrel youths, the white-robed virgin-choir
Breathe empty vows to Idols worse than vain;
Those lovely maidens are the race of Cain;
But oh! enthralled by woman's wanton wile
Seth's holier offspring stoop to rites profane!
Alas! that aught so false as Beauty's smile
Should thus to deeds accurst the Sons of Peace beguile.

'Twas ever thus. A glance — a sigh — a tear—
The downcast eye — the bosom's fluttering swell
Can tame the mightiest — and, but Heaven were near,
Could win the wisest — holiest to rebel.
A world was lost by one seductive spell.
Yet think, vain boaster, ere thou proudly dare
Condemn or curse thy hapless Sire who fell,
Hadst thou withstood a form so fond and fair?
If thou art still untried, be grateful, and beware!

Alas! still Beauty works, as then it wrought,
The wreck of nations, as of worlds before;
Still in the wanton's lure the soul is caught,
Till Conscience slumbers, Faith forgets to soar,
And Wisdom, vanquished, wakes and warns no more;—
But pause we here the mournful tale to tell
How that deluded tribe, whose Fathers bore
The image of their Maker, darkly fell,
By woman's wiles betrayed, and subtle snares of Hell.

Long in sequestered glens, and mountains wild,
Peaceful and pure, the tribes of Seth abode;
Pleased on his favoured race JEHOVAH smiled,
And Seraphs hailed them as the Sons of God;
To tread the path their sainted Sires had trod;
To till the fruitful vallies, or to tend
Their flocks on hills where stately forests nod;
Around the social sacrifice to bend,
And to their Fathers' God glad hymns of transport blend;

Such was the blameless tenor of their life;
While, unrepining, to the Sons of Cain,
A race inured to rapine and to strife,
They left the spicy groves, the cultured plain,
And the rich harvest of the golden grain;—
Nor vainly left — from that apostate brood
Fled Peace, and Hope, and Joy, a lovely train
To seek asylum in their mountains rude,
Till Eden bloomed anew in that blest solitude.

Ah how from such abodes of bliss serene
Could guests like these be exiled? How could Hell
Win its foul path, unheeded and unseen,
E'en to the spot where Saints had loved to dwell?—
Small marvel Man should fall when Angels fell!
Ambition — Pride — the baleful lust of sway
Can pierce the peaceful Anchorite's lonely cell;
The Sage's calm seclusion; and betray
The heedless heart to cast immortal joys away.

Oft from their hills the Sethite youth surveyed
The pomp of legions, rushing to the war;
Triumphant Chiefs in glittering arms arrayed,
And shouting myriads pouring from afar
To hail the Victor on his trophied car;—
Till, in the troubled thoughts of hope's wild dream,
Fame rose before them, like a lovely star
Rich and resplendent with a brighter beam,
Than Passion yet had learnt of earthly bliss to deem.

O with what fervour did each sacred Sage,
The holy Lamech, and his reverend Sire,
The first of men in wisdom as in age,
Mathusala, to curb that rash desire,
With all a Father's anxious love conspire;
While — more than both — the consecrated Seer,
The righteous Noah, with prophetic fire
Bade the bold youth their Maker's mandate hear,
His proffered mercy prize: his menaced vengeance fear.

Had but Ambition's Wisdom's voice withstood,
Virtue perchance had conquered; but alas!
Hell hath a charm with stronger spells endued,
And framed with wiles more fatal! This it was
Which lured the Father of Mankind to pass
The limits of his Eden, and consign
His countless progeny, a wretched mass!
To long, long exile from that home divine:—
Ah who can trace the toils that round the heart entwine?

In evil hour to that time-honoured shade,
Once the loved home of him who never died,
Alone, unguarded, came a stranger-Maid;
Of that sweet age, when Beauty's conscious pride,
Chastened by virgin modesty, hath dyed
With Shame's first blush the fair cheek's snowy whiteness;
When youth and graver womanhood divide
The lovely prize, and Childhood's playful lightness
Lurks in the sportive smile; beams in the eye's young brightness.

A Son of Seth descried her. Had she smiled
Perchance his heart its oft-pledged faith had kept,
Nor female blandishments again beguiled
The heedless to rebellion; but she wept—
And with her tears subduing softness crept
Through his whole frame resistless, till he proved
Though Passion's power had long in silence slept,
It lived to conquer still: his breast was moved
With specious pity first — he solaced next — then loved.

She told a simple tale of meek distress;—
From venal vows her shuddering soul forbade
She fled an outcast to the wilderness;
To pine or perish in the lonely shade
Ere wed a Lord she loved not. She had strayed
Since Morn's first beams were brightening in the sky,
And now one little boon was all she prayed
Nor let his wrath her lowly suit deny—
She only asked in peace and purity to die.

Low at his feet the suppliant Virgin knelt—
She spoke no more — but oh! that pleading sigh!
Those white hands clasped in prayer! would they not melt
The frozen heart of age? And why, oh why
Should cold suspicion doubt, or weakness fly
A simple Maiden? Must he turn and doom
A form so lovely to despair or die?
It cannot be that Guilt could e'er assume
That look of patient grief! that cheek of matchless bloom.

But know'st thou not, rash youth! that Falsehood's lure
Is ever framed the stamp of Truth to bear;
That Man is weakest still, when most secure,
And Beauty's smile oft falsest, when most fair?
A woman tempts thee, but a Fiend is there!
And wilt thou shame thy yet untainted line?
A guiltier Adam, wilt thou madly dare,
Like him thy peace) thy Paradise resign?
Canst thou repeat that fall, and hope forgiveness thine?

It was not that he pitied; for the thrill
Of heaven-born pity aye to heaven is dear;
It was not that he solaced; for to still
The throbbing breast, and wipe the mourner's tear
Is virtue's proud prerogative, and here
Had seemed perchance like mercy — but to love;—
'Tis the first plunge in Folly's rash career,
And whirls him to destruction: 'tis to prove
A recreant Traitor, false to holier ties above.

Is't then a crime to hang on Beauty's smile,
Burn at her blush, and sink beneath her tear?—
'Tis worse than guilt when Beauty would beguile
Her spell-bound captive from a Father's fear,
And bid him brave th' Eternal! Oh revere
Thyself, thy Sires, thy God, and rend the chain
That round thy heart is twining. Wake! and hear
The warning voice; thy fatal flame restrain!
And be the child of faith, the loved of Heaven again!

He paused a moment — for the dark abyss
Rushed on his soul, and all beyond the tomb;
He paused in vain; her tearful eye met his;
That look hath stifled conscience — sealed his doom—
And sentenced myriads to eternal gloom;—
'Tis o'er! the chain is fixed — the deed is done—
The flame breaks forth whose fury shall consume
A faithless world: the Fiend his prey hath won;
For Guilt is in the heart, and Guilt is Hell begun.

Nor deem his trespass venial, for he knew
The maid a daughter of that lawless race,
Whose Sire accursed to woods and wilds withdrew
To hide the mark no Time could e'er efface,
And shun the All-pervading. Still the trace
Of blood was in his offspring; still the cry
Of wrath and war was in their dwelling-place;—
They knelt to idols; and would Heaven ally
Its own loved seed with Guilt's apostate progeny?—

What need of words? Seductive beauty won
The mountain-fortress Force had stormed in vain;
The deadly plague that fatal hour begun
Spread like devouring fire: soon to the plain
By frantic ardour borne, the youthful train
Impetuous rushed; in vain the Patriarchs strove
To awe by terrors, or by tears restrain;
They recked not Sires below, nor God above;
So strong were woman's charms, and such the power of Love.

But said I Love? Oh no! When Man was driven
From his lost Eden to a world of woe;
Superior Love to soothe his griefs was given,
And lead him back to virtue. In its glow
There is a transport Guilt can never know,
Or, knowing, could not cherish. On the ties
Of social tenderness that bind below
Love sheds its ray: but for its native skies
Reserves a purer beam — for True Love never dies.

But Seth's lost children loved not, though the name
Of love might gloss their falsehood; and they glowed
With warmer transports and a wilder flame;
Love never lured a mortal from his God;
But Passion bore them onward, till they bowed
At idol-altars, and with prayers profane
Invoked the Orb of Day, and disavowed
The God of Enoch for the Gods of Cain;—
Such deeds could Justice mark, and bear the sword in vain?

Oh how the aged Patriarch, to his rest
Sinking apace, the wide delusion mourned!
What heartfelt anguish Lamech's tears expressed!
While fearless Noah sought the plains, and warned
The false who shunned him and the fierce who scorned
To turn in swift repentance to their Lord,
Ere the dread fury of his vengeance burned,
And Death came forth to Judgment; but they poured
The flood of foul contempt on that prophetic word;

Though oft the Seer foretold the day of doom,
And saw in visions o'er the lowering skies
O'ershadowing tempests spread unearthly gloom,
And from his depths beheld fierce Ocean rise
To whelm a world of traitors, 'mid the cries
Of shrieking myriads; but he saw in vain;—
And, when he closed his aged Grandsire's eyes,
Seth's once pure offspring with the race of Cain
Were blended all — alike polluted and profane.

All save his own bold Sons, who firmly clave
To their dear Father, and their dearer Lord;
Held their ancestral faith; nor shrunk to brave
The coward's mockery, or the ruffian's sword,
When duty called to daring; — At the word
Of their sage Sire, through circling years they raised
A wondrous work, predestined to afford
Refuge from storms to come: the crowd amazed
Beheld the rising ark — yet mocked them while they gazed;

And, still unheeding, through each passing day
Held their light revels on the verdant plain,
Or gaily listened to th' impassioned lay,
And drank fresh poison from the beauteous train,
Those forms of angels, with the soul of Cain;—
"Heaven shines above while Earth is fair below,
Why should a doting dreamer's frantic strain
Chill the warm hope, or damp the generous glow;
Why quit substantial bliss to shun ideal woe?"

Return we to our tale. I said, the Sun
Shone in full splendour o'er yon laurelled grove,
Where now the festal joyaunce is begun,
And o'er the mead in sportive mazes move
The graceful virgins: on each gale above
Responsive strains of sweetest music rise;
While, ranged around, the gazing youths approve,
Each following his loved Maid with eager eyes,
To catch the stolen glance that to his own replies.

And many a chief is there, whose lofty name
Was whispered once in darkness and in fear
Till Vengeance tore it from the scroll of fame;
And many an Aged Man, whose brow severe
Betrays a troubled spirit, mingles here
To calm the bodings of his anxious breast—
In vain — still Conscience murmurs, Death is near,
And how should Mirth or Music charm to rest
The pangs of keen remorse that must not be suppressed.

But lo! secluded in yon green alcove,
Formed by the fragrant rose and clustering vine
And jasmine with green myrtles interwove,
On the soft slope what youthful pair recline?
Still firm and faithful to their King Divine
Sage Noah's seed the rebel race contemn,
Or that young warrior of a lofty line
Had seemed — a branch of Seth's primaeval stem,
Bold Japhet's port sublime, or God's beloved, Shem.

Such was his mien — so graceful. But his brow
Ah there full vainly mightst thou seek to trace,
Though all unbent by Love's full transport now,
The inward calmness of that chosen race;
The peace that springs from virtue. To efface
The deepworn print of that corroding woe,
Whose source is locked within the dwelling-place
Of conscious Memory, rests with nought below;
Nor Joy, nor Love, can e'er Oblivion's balm bestow;

Though each may charm to slumber, as they seem
To charm in this bright moment, when his heart
With new-born gladness, as a hideous dream
Spurns the remembrance of its former smart;—
But dreams may vanish; this can ne'er depart;—
Its empire is eternal! 'Twill resume
Its potent sway ere long; and shouldst thou start
From Love's brief raptures to thy final doom,
Oh canst thou hope to find Oblivion in the tomb?

A moment gaze we on that beauteous maid—
But no! I will not sing of hopes and fears,
Of love's long latent tenderness betrayed
By burning blushes, or unconscious tears;—
Of all that wins — enraptures — and endears—
I will not sing, in Passion's glowing strain,
Of all the Virgin feels, when first she hears
The Lover's tale! I may not dare profane
My theme of import grave with aught so wild and vain.

For what, alas! avails it, though she shone
The loveliest far of all, where all were fair;
Though every eye from thousands turned to one,
Caught by the smile that Kings had sought to share;
Though her ingenuous brow the impress bare
Of stainless truth, that could not range or rove;—
Woman! the fond! the faithful! oft may dare
Pain — Peril — Ruin for an earthly love,
Without one thought of Him who claims the soul above.

Of lineage high the beauteous Adah came,
From saintly Seth descended; yet how vain
Was the pure lustre of that hallowed name!—
She bowed before the Idols of the Plain,
And her young warrior is a child of Cain;—
But lo, he speaks! and ere his vows prevail
To bind that heart in love's delusive chain,
Which Heaven hath failed to reach — and yet may fail;—
Pause we, while Hope survives, and list the Lover's Tale.

"If long I lingered to avow
The latent flame my bosom proved;
Yet, fairest Adah! deem not thou
I feebly felt, or lightly loved;
I came not with the wealthier throng
Who breathed their heartless vows to thee;
Yet, Maiden! I have loved thee long,
And not the less, though hopelessly.
For well, in clouds of deep despair
Might Hope's glad star be veiled from One,
Whose heart and hand would madly dare
And do as mine have dared and done.
I knew full oft the gentle child
Of Seth had on the stranger smiled;
Yet oh! I deemed it could not be,
That thou shouldst deign to smile on me.
For how should friendless Misery gain
The prize by Monarchs sought in vain;
How should the Vulture meet that Sun
Which Eagles dare not gaze upon,
Or how should gentle Maid be wooed
By heart of guilt and hand of blood?—

"Said I mine hand was stained with blood?
'Tis blood of foulest — deepest dye;
For not in equal strife I stood
To smite my mortal enemy
Amid the battle flood;—
No — by a base assassin's deed
I doomed a kindred heart to bleed;
And stooped my crest of martial pride
To sculk a midnight homicide.—
I will not, Maiden! tell thee now,
The wrong I cannot yet avow
With cheek unflushed, unaltered brow—
It would have stirred the calm — the cold—
The meanest thing of mortal mould,
To seize the deadly sword — and die,
Or sheath it in his enemy.
I met my foe — I hurled my dart;
Hate nerved my hand, and fired mine eye;
I saw it quiver in his heart—
I heard his shriek of agony!
Oh had it rankled in mine own
Ere that unnatural deed were done!
For though his stifled sob came dear
As softest music to mine ear,
Full soon my own was doomed to be
Wrung forth by tenfold misery :—
When first the fatal dart was thrown
I knew him by his guilt alone;
But when returning Morn revealed
That form the gloom till then concealed;
I gazed upon his lifeless brow;—
That glance is fresh in Memory now;—
No more — I dare not breathe his name;
Or what his secret crime, and how
He wrought a brother's shame.

"Becoming thus a second Cain
His curse fell on me, and I fled
Far from the spot, but fled in vain;—
A flame still burnt within my brain,
As when upon the reeking dead
My first wild glance was riveted.
Though native pride, and high disdain
Forbad my stubborn soul to weep;
With nought of vengeance but its pain,
And all of madness but its sleep,
Deep in my bosom's inmost core
From clime to clime that curse I bore;
The ceaseless pang no words can tell;
A living death — an earthly hell.
And if no mark upon my brow
Were branded by the bolts of Heaven,
Yet from my race — I knew not how;—
Like some loathed Demon was I driven,
A wretch unpitied, unforgiven.
E'en when I sought the desert lair
To shroud me from mine own despair,
The wildest monsters of the wood
Forgot their thirst for human blood;
And howling fled in strange dismay
A fiend more foul, more fierce than they.
I was the common scorn and hate,
Abhorred of all, and desolate;
None came the den of Misery nigh
With words or looks of sympathy
Nay, at my very sight Men fled,
For I was mad, the cowards said,
And mad I was, if madness be
To crouch beneath the withering weight
Of hopeless, cureless agony;
To curse the lingering arm of Fate,
And strive, in vain desire, to clasp
The death that courts, yet mocks the grasp.

"And thus for equal crimes I bore
The curse dark Cain endured before;
Like him from year to year I pined
A wandering Outcast from my kind,
The slave of some mysterious spell
A Being not of Earth or Hell:—
Where'er I roved, by night, by day,
It was as if th' Allseeing Eye
Shone fierce upon me from on high,
Till from its bright and blasting ray
I sought the wood — the wild — the wave—
I sought — but could not find the grave.
Alone amid the arid waste
Which foot, save mine, had never traced;
Oft have I watched the lowering skies,
And waited for the fell Simoom,
Or panted for the sands to rise,
And whelm me in a living tomb:
I've listened to the thunder crash
And bared my bosom to the flash;
While o'er my head innocuous broke
The flame that smote the rooted oak;
And, while blue lightnings crave the sky,
Oh how I looked and longed to die!
But no! as if the dread decree
Had passed o'er earth — and skies — and sea—
That wave and whirlwind, sand and storm
Should spare and shun the accursed form;
Where'er I sought to rest or die,
Still came the Curse I could not fly;
To human haunts my path pursued,
And tracked my steps to Solitude.

"Such, Maiden, are the pangs I bore,
And such again my lot may be;
For oh! the light thy smiles restore
In darkness soon may fade or flee;
As o'er yon smooth and glassy deep
Ere long conflicting storms may sweep,
So the frail temper of my brain
May change to frantic fire again.
If then thou doubt, at once resign
A lot deserted — dark as mine;—
And go! some happier bosom bless
With those fond smiles I may not share;
And I will seek to love thee less;—
Full dearly have I learnt to bear;
And what is life but bitterness,
If love outlive despair?"

The Maid replied not, but a sudden tinge
Of deeper red suffused her conscious cheek;
And in the covert of its sheltering fringe
Her downcast eye seclusion seemed to seek
Awhile she spoke not — it were vain to speak—
Oh to the silent language of the tear
How cold is Passion, 'Eloquence how weak!'
What smiles of soft assent were half so dear
As that mute pledge of love, so simple yet sincere?

Long Irad stood in ecstacy entranced,
While Joy, Hope, Wonder, in his full eye shone,
And ever on that blushing maid he glanced
As some kind angel, stooping from the throne
To whisper peace and pardon — he had run
A race of arduous conflict — but the prize
Which crowned his course of agony, was one
Full cheaply purchased by the sacrifice
Of Pomp, Pride, Glory, Rest — of all beneath the skies.

Alas for human raptures! they are frail
As the brief flash that dazzles, and is gone;
To future times a marvel and a tale,
While they who felt, unknowing and unknown,
Sleep in the grave's cold silence. That alone
Which beams triumphant e'en in Death's deep gloom,
Is lightly prized, and oh! how rarely won!
We pluck Life's fading flowrets as they bloom,
But spurn the only bud that blows beyond the tomb.

[2nd edition, pp. 1-31]

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