1816
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Laura's Dream; or, The Moonlanders.

Laura's Dream; or, The Moonlanders.

Melesina Chenevix Trench


In the two-canto allegory of Laura's Dream Melesina Trench presents a feminine revision of Paradise Lost drawing upon the imagery of Spenser's Garden of Adonis and Milton's Il Penseroso. Her vision, as she acknowledges in one of the notes, recalls James Hogg's Pilgrims of the Sun (1816), which she says she read only after having begun her poem. It also recalls Mary Tighe's Psyche (1805, etc.) which Trench in one of her letters she says she had made a point of not reading. One might also compare Glocester Ridley's Psyche, or the Great Metamorphosis (1747; 1781). While the fairy imagery of Laura's Dream draws from Irish folklore and the Spenserian tradition, Trench's neoplatonic fantasy on themes of birth, death, and immortality is quite original in its conception.

While the poem was published (anonymously) by Hatchard, is seems, like Trench's other works, to have had by design a very limited distribution; it received only two reviews, and those in 1820.

Mary Leadbeater to Melesina Chenevix Trench: "I am much obliged for The Moonlanders, the most beautiful fanciful poem I have read for a long time; from beginning to end it runs a clear, sparkling stream of the sweetest harmony, the purest ideas, and most ingenious invention" 16 November 1816; in Leadbeater Papers (1862) 2:285.

Literary Gazette: "This poem was printed about three years ago, but for private reasons, we understand, withdrawn from circulation. As it possesses considerable merit, we have compounded the following [summary] article from a copy, very little mutilated, in our possession" (24 June 1820) 403.

Lying entranced in a delirium, Laura beholds a group of fairy-like personages. She is greeted by an androgynous figure combining the graces of Apollo and Venus — it is Aurelio, who offers her magical fruits: "Such ripen'd once in Eden's clime | When love and life were in their prime" p. 7. The Moonlanders, as she later identifies them, extract luminous webs from fruits impervious to the ravages of sin and time. Laura is wafted by the aroma to a second Eden, where she is immediately lonely. Aurelio appears and leads her to a woody enclosure within which a group of figures stands around a grave of clay. The earth quivers and heaves, and Laura observes the birth of a man, far gone in years and decay. As the fairy figures attend this strange infant, Laura surmises that she is in a place where time runs backwards. She sleeps.

Laura awakens from a pleasing dream to the sounds of birds hymning the rise of a crescent earth. The feathered choir — who know not death — form a canopy, and bring Laura fruits to eat. She observes the old man progressing towards youth. Time passes, and Aurelio leads Laura up a summit where a group of Moonlanders surround a pair of lovers; the male looks benignly on the female, who sprouts wings and, to the delight of all, the pair ascend heavenward. More time passes, and Laura observes the old man grown a youth, preparing to grow wings in anticipation of the arrival his own lover. Laura notices, with some discomfort, that Aurelio's wings are also growing. She surmises that he too awaits a sister-spirit. And so it is: he returns to the sacred bower, the clay heaves, and Aurelio delights in the birth of a hideously deformed old woman. Stung by jealousy, Laura falls asleep, to awaken in the nether world.

Argument to Canto I: "Laura sleeps in the delirium of a fever; wakens in the Moon. — The superior class of its rational inhabitants furnished with wings. — Their fair companions contented without the power of flying. — Aurelio devotes himself to Laura. — Her surprize at seeing him fly. — She is consoled for his departure by the wingless Moonlanders. — He returns, and leads Laura to the top of a mountain, where she sees the birth of a decrepit Moonlander; as in that planet all are born with the infirmities of old age, but grow rapidly young, till they attain their highest state of perfection" p. 2.

Argument to Canto II: "Laura is awakened by music: — The night air in the Moon producing delightful harmony. — Finds the birds familiar and friendly. — Visits the decrepit Moonlander. — Witnesses the flight of a happy pair to brighter spheres. — Loses Aurelio. — Returns to earth" p. 26.

Author's Notes: "'Lovely visionary, cease.' The idea on which this dream is founded, may appear borrowed from the Pilgrims of the Sun, and Kilmenie [by James Hogg], — yet it was nearly finished before I had read those delightful poems. Perhaps it is unnecessary thus to apologise for coincidence, which, as we are a nation of versifiers, or, according to the Edinburgh Review, 'a scribbling generation,' must perpetually occur.

"'Have claim'd their undisputed sway.' To the inhabitants of the Moon the term of a night and day is composed of twenty-nine days and a half, according to our computation of time, so they have no more than twelve days and nights in our year.

"'Refulgent now a Planet rose.' Our Earth appears to the inhabitants of the Moon, a luminous body of the same nature as she appears to us, but somewhat more than thirteen times larger, and with a proportionate increase of splendor. We are only visible to those who inhabit that favoured half of the Moon, which is ever turned towards us, and during their long night, our Earth furnishes them with the various and amusing spectacle of as many changes as we perceive in our Moon in the space of a fortnight. On the contrary, those who live in the opposite half, must make a journey to see us, and we may have furnished a plausible excuse for quitting home, to many a fair sufferer from restlessness and ennui.

"'Delights denied the dazzling day.' The Atmosphere of the Moon is known to be always cloudless, — not a mist, or vapour ever dims her sky.

"'Swift as a wish their wings displayed.' If this is thought too bold a fiction, I can only say it is given as truth by a Jewish Rabbi. — He says it occurred to an Eastern Prince — who constantly received this token of respect from the birds.

"'But love and joy speak best in smiles.' Talleyrand says "Speech is given to man, for the purpose of disguising his thoughts" pp. 45-47.



CANTO FIRST.

MOTHER.
Lovely visionary, cease,
Hush thy troubled soul to peace,
Repose in Arno's flow'ry vale,
Fann'd by this delicious gale,
And breathe no more these burning sighs—
For other vallies, — other skies.
Fix thine eyes on yonder moon
Sailing in her highest noon,
Beneath her soft consoling ray
Let care and sorrow melt away;
Forget thy visions — sprung from pain—
Phantoms of a wand'ring brain.

LAURA.
Yes — I will gaze on yonder moon
Sailing in her highest noon—
For oh! my mother, it was there
Your child inhaled that blessed air,
Where sin — or pain — or death — or woe,
Or those worse fears, endured below,
Have ne'er been suffered to appear,
And nought but music meets the ear.
In that bright orb, its very worst—
Its few slight ills are felt at first;
From thence progressive blessings given,
Teach how to bear the joys of Heaven.
Yes, to that sphere was LAURA borne—
Oh! smile not with such bitter scorn—
Let the voice of Truth prevail,
Listen calmly to my tale.—

Long had I wept thy deep despair,
Or bless'd thy soft maternal care;
Pale sickness o'er my youthful head,
Her sable clouds relentless spread,
And nought expecting from to-morrow
But one day more of pain and sorrow.
While fever raged within my breast,
Darkling had I sunk to rest—
But wakened on a flow'ry bed,
A couch with purple violets spread,
Where the soft play of chequered light,
Through myrtle foliage, bless'd my sight.
Fragrant the gale — and pure the beam—

MOTHER.
Hush, hush, my child, 'twas but a dream.

LAURA.
O mother, while I lay entranced,
What love-inspiring forms advanced;
But of their looks and shapes divine,
Though few and faint, some traces shine,
E'en in this coarser world of ours,
When Genius tasks her highest powers.
Gaze on the miracles of Greece,—
Add to the wonders of each piece,—
Those charms beyond the reach of art,
That deeply thrill the human heart.

Oft has thine eye enamoured seen
Apollo, and the Paphian Queen;
But nobler majesty was there,
Without his stern indignant air;
And all her charms of form and face,
Attuned to milder sweeter grace;
The hand of Nature has not spread
O'er their smooth cheek the shaded red,
Nor gives their ruby lip to glow,
Nor bids the waving tresses flow;
Yet all is loveliness and light,
And living lustre charms the sight.

The first that touch'd my thrilling hand
Seem'd destin'd for supreme command,
For power obtain'd by force of love,
Such power as angels might approve.

In glossy curls his radiant hair,
But slightly veil'd his forehead fair,
And gave his ivory neck to view,
Where graces wander'd ever new.
He smiles — and all my sorrows fly,—
I drink new spirit from his eye,
His changeful eye, — that can impart
The deepest secrets of the heart.

The fruits he gave, of beauteous hue,
Touch'd by his hand — still fairer grew;
Such ripen'd once in Eden's clime
When love and life were in their prime.
Wonder, subsiding into bliss,
I wish'd no other Heav'n than this:
But oh! methought a second death
Darken'd mine eyes, and chilled my breath;
When wide his purple wings he spread,
(Odours of Paradise they shed),
And floating light, I saw him rise
Till melted in the cloudless skies.

Henceforward, did AURELIO share
In every vow, in every prayer;
I ask'd a name for him of Heaven,
AURELIO to my heart was given.

MOTHER.
My child, from Love this vision springs,
The form we love has angel wings,
And love can see a Seraph's grace,
Though crime and passion stamp the face.

LAURA.
Oh mother, not on him alone,
The rainbow plumes on others shone,
On every form of lofty mien
Their waving loveliness was seen.
Wingless the shapes of softer grace,
But none their airy steps can trace:
Light as if nought could e'er impede
The current of their trackless speed.
Nor did these fair ones sigh to share
The glorious empire of the air:
With eyes uprais'd, of dewy light,
Each views her partner's devious flight,
Marks his high path, with love's own pride,
Nor feels that Heav'n has aught denied.

These gentle beings round me prest,
Lovely was she above the rest,
Who gave me roses, — gave me smiles,
Sported with inexpressive wiles,
And fondly fed Hope's vestal fire,
Nor let the wavering blaze expire.

Now where the forest's denser shade
O'er-arches many a flow'ry glade,
Enrich'd with blooms that shun the day,
These dryad graces lead the way,
Through deep recesses swiftly glide,
And sport — and skim on ev'ry side.

Where loaded branches bending low,
Bright seeds, and burnish'd nuts bestow;
They steal from Flora's parent care
The promise of the coming year,
And on the green-enamell'd floor
Scatter their gay and glossy store.

Here their more serious looks were bent,
As if on weightier cares intent,
With rosy breath the pods they broke
The kernels with one playful stroke,
And thence their slender fingers drew
Tissues of ev'ry form and hue;
Fairer than decked Arachne's loom,
And seal'd the gifted victim's doom.
Translucent white delights the eye,
And colours dipt in rainbow dye;
Empurpled some with vernal flow'rs,
And others bright with silver show'rs,
Nor wanted all that fancy brings
To gild the pomp of Eastern kings.

The flowing robe that beauty wears,
No pallid artist here prepares,
Condemn'd through tedious weeks to pine,
That others may for minutes shine.
They toil not, neither do they spin
Those varied floral silks to win,
That float in light luxuriance here,
Unsullied by a sigh or tear.

One round her lucid brow entwines
A veil, where glowing yellow shines—
One seeks the clear cerulean dye,
That emulates her radiant eye;
Or, — where the longest tissue winds,
Sportive, her fair companion binds,
Then o'er the smiling captive throws
Transparent folds of palest rose.
Where ev'ry movement waked a grace
Soft beaming o'er the form and face;
Or bid some new expression rise
Translucent in the lips and eyes;
In close succession swiftly changing,
Through all the maze of beauty ranging,
The sweet harmonious vision stole
Like music, o'er the soften'd soul.

Such was their toil! now light they tread
Where flow'rs of richer fragrance spread:
Blossoms of Paradise they seem,
Luxuriant as a poet's dream.

From shelving bank, from grassy steep,
Where pendent plants profusely creep;
Disporting in the sun-beams fly
Long filaments of golden dye,
Of silver hue, of emerald sheen,
Of lustre ne'er by mortals seen.

Where the soft bud reluctant blows,
The fruit mature already glows,
And all in thornless beauty shine,—
Fit incense for a hand divine.
Nor bosom'd worm, nor dark decay,
Steal their unsullied tints away;
For when the hours of bloom are past,
No hateful change arrives at last:
But as the sweet Aroma dies,
In clouds of incense all arise,
And mingle with congenial skies,
Evaporate in perfumed air,
Nor leave one sad remembrance there.
The wither'd leaves that dim our path,
Memento of celestial wrath,
Ne'er sully that delicious clime;
Pure world, — unconscious of a crime.

My lovely play-mates soon entwine
Wreaths that might grace Apollo's shrine:
My hair with dewy blossoms deck,
Throw glowing garlands o'er my neck,
And clasp around my willing arm
Odours of high and potent charm.
But let no mortal mould presume
T 'inhale this exquisite perfume:
For oh! — my soul! too faint and weak
To bear the bliss it cannot speak;
While wave on wave new fragrance prest,
In death-like stillness sunk to rest.

MOTHER.
My lovely child! — thy dream was o'er,
But thus my LAURA — dream no more.

LAURA.
When sweets, too exquisite to bear,
Wasted their potency in air;
I quickly felt a pleasing strife
Soft thrill of renovating life,
And waking, cast admiring eyes
On flow'ry vales, and cloudless skies:
A blooming Eden glowed around
With ev'ry rural beauty crown'd—
But oh! methought I scarce could bear
The bliss another did not share.
"Grant me a simple scene," I cried,
Where o'er some valley's sloping side
The wreathed smoke, from cottage roof,
Gives the inquiring heart a proof
Beings are near, whose bosoms know
The touch of joy, — and thrill of woe.
Can balmy air — can rich perfume,
Or jasmine bower, — or vernal bloom,
(A butterfly's delight at best),
With transport warm the lonely breast?"

Kneeling, with lifted hands and eyes,
Such thoughts, half breath'd in pray'r, arise;
But e'er the tear had fallen to earth,
That owed to loneliness its birth,
In sweet composure by my side
AURELIO stood, — my friend, my guide.

We left the flow'r-inwoven vale,
The flushing blooms, the scented gale.
And trod the mountain's airy height,
Where purer breezes — cool and light,
As if they touch'd the springs of thought,
A thousand new ideas brought.
The summit we had nearly gain'd,
When lo! I deem'd our course restrain'd:
For like a diadem was spread,
Circling the mountain's verdant head
With vivid tints, and graceful sweep,
A thick inclosure — firm and deep
Of ev'ry tangling shrub that grows,
And ev'ry tree the forest knows;
Impervious seem'd the stately screen,—
To earthly power it so had been:
Unknown to us — th' ennobling skill
Nature to rule by force of will.

To this green fence — with mild command,
AURELIO drew my trembling hand,
Fearful — yet happy to obey.
The flow'ry obstacles gave way;
The branches at his touch withdraw,
Obedient to that wondrous law
Within our grosser world, alone,
Is in the lov'd Mimosa shewn;
And slumbers in that happier land,
Till waken'd by the high command
Of one whom strong volition fires;—
Then all impediment retires;
And, pierc'd by th' intellectual ray,
Submissive elements obey.

Freed from the blossom'd fence we stand,
While closing fast on either hand
Branches, that easy passage gave,
United like the liquid wave.

A solemn band, within, I found
Collected near an earthy mound;
Their looks of expectation check'd
By holy awe and deep respect.
'Twas the first clay I here had seen
Without its robe of tender green,
Elastic moss, or blossoms gay—
'Twas dark — damp — naked — gloomy clay—
And rose in sad similitude
To the sole grave I e'er had viewed.
But all unhallowed and unblest
With that interminable rest
Our last — chill — narrow mansion knows;
For undulating motions rose,
As if some victim suffer'd there
The last convulsions of despair.

Throbless a moment sunk my heart,
In quicker throbs again to start;
As Terror's busy fingers wrought,
Her darkly-tinctured web of thought
And mingled shapes of death and woe
In wild succession ebb and flow;
The vestal virgins closing strife,
Mixture abhorred of death and life;
Or sacrificial victim given
To win th' approving smile of Heaven.
Then, Mother, conscience trembling cried,
"Are these my judges — to decide
On maiden frailty, — maiden pride.
Have I been weighed, but wanting found,
And on this awe-inspiring ground
Shall these my punishment ordain?"
The quivering clay now heav'd again,
I rivet there mine eager eyes,
And felt a dreadful hope arise
That this enigma of the mind
Its last solution here may find.
Though expectation only wait
Some dark impending stroke of fate;
Heaves — rises — shivers — fall away
The frail dark tenement of clay—
But who has slept within its breast?
Who dares disturb that Sabbath rest?

An aged, — helpless wretch I viewed,
Sad victim of decrepitude,
Wrapt in pale films of cobweb form,
That seemed the work of earthly worm,
Decay'd by time, and bent by age,
Yet not a look denotes the sage—
His trembling hand could scarce arise
From crumbling earth to guard his eyes;
Rayless those eyes. — His thin gray hair
Had left his wither'd temples bare—
And on his native dust he lay,
As cold as that maternal clay.

The lovely forms who watched around,
As if their brightest hopes were crowned
With fond affection bending down,
A beauteous rainbow circle shone;
Their eyes of joy, and lips of love,
Grateful delight and ardour prove.

The radiant shapes, who plumage bear,
Around him fan the blessed air;
The graceful forms, by Heaven denied
Along the azure skies to glide,
A couch of pliant branches brought
With leaves, and moss, and flowers inwrought,
And bore him to a green recess
With soft maternal tenderness.

Delicious juices one infused,
Of scented berries freshly bruised,
And brought the cup with garlands graced,
Courting his cold reluctant taste;
One bathes his locks with fragrant oil,
Another seeks the golden spoil
Of stingless bees, o'erburthen'd there
With treasures they delight to share.

Was ne'er received with purer joy
A lovely — gay — heroic boy;
His father's pride, his mother's dream,
His blooming sister's daily theme,
His aged parent's only son
Redeem'd from fields of glory won.

At length, his heavy eye-lids close,
And all is motionless repose,
As if Medusa's looks had bound
The rooted statues to the ground.

While I revolved the novel scene,
Half doubting if such things had been;
If sentient creatures could have birth
From the cold bosom of the earth.—
"Perchance," thought I, "our mournful fate
Is here revers'd — Their prouder state
Begun with age's bitter doom,
Expands to vigour, health, and bloom;
And Time, our stern relentless foe,
By blessed gifts they only know.

"But does their Heav'n these laws obey,
Does no pale ev'ning close their day?
And on their blue unclouded skies
Do night's dim shadows never rise?
For since my new existence here,
How often in our changeful sphere
The placid night, the restless day,
Have claim'd their undisputed sway."

I paus'd, for near th' horizon's brink
Day's glorious orb appeared to sink,
The lengthen'd shadows round me close,
On fragrant moss I sought repose.


CANTO SECOND.

LAURA.
Sleep on mine eyelids gently prest,
And hush'd my wand'ring thoughts to rest,
Till with serene and gradual swell
The sweetest notes that ever fell
On the charm'd senses of repose
In fairy minstrelsy arose.

Surely, in mansions of the blest,
Such strains exalt the Sabbath rest,
Which self-forgetting saints attain,
Who walk below in Mercy's train.
Expressive as the melting tone,
From lips that breathe for love alone,
And pure as the mellifluous horn,
Far o'er the lake's clear surface borne.
'Twas not the brilliant charm of art
But nature thrilling to the heart;
As if a band of seraphs shone,
Circling round Hope's aerial throne,
And raised the sole celestial strain,
That echoes in our world of pain.

With many a sweet and dying fall
The lov'd — the lost — those sounds recal;
Each happier moment I had known,
As in a lucid mirror shone.—
Past grief — ennobled seem'd to rise—
Past pleasures — drest in fairest guise—
On memory's painted pinions borne—
Refin'd and clear'd from every thorn.
As recollection slowly broke,
With fond reluctance I awoke,
And trembled, — lest the light of day
Might melt this heav'nly dream away.

But no! — a soft congenial hue
Mantles the sky of deepest blue;
Where stars in various colors bright
Give their calm glories to the night,
And see their vivid splendors rest
On th' azure lake's unruffled breast.

Refulgent now a planet rose,
On which my voice no name bestows,
Nor word exists in mortal tongue
That would not do such beauty wrong.
With higher swell the choral stream
As if, to hail that crescent beam,
Pours the full tide of music round—
Then softly sank th' inspiring sound;
Faint, — and more faint, till all was o'er,
Like waves receding from the shore.

Hast thou not heard th' autumnal gale
Mourning along the russet vale—
Or the loud anthem of the storm
When gath'ring clouds our skies deform;
Or tempest howl the seaman's dirge,
O'er the wild bosom of the surge?
As one to deeds of ill betray'd,—
Of lofty soul, — but passion-sway'd,—
Groans o'er the ruin he has made.

But ever bland and guiltless there,
The viewless spirit of the air
In melodies to us unknown,
Breathes but in music's heav'nly tone,
Winding through all th' inchanting range,
With sovereign power and ceaseless change,
When evening draws her dewy veil,
Resuming soft the tender tale,
And yielding to her milder sway,
Delights denied the dazzling day.

The birds, responsive to the song,
Its floating melodies prolong.
Light from their leafy haunts they trip,
Close by my side the dew they sip;
A friendly — social — sportive kind,
By no instinctive fears confin'd.
Whenever, in the noon of day,
Too warmly beam'd the solar ray,
Swift as a wish, their wings display'd
A broad — impervious — quiv'ring shade,
Inviting air, — excluding heat,—
A sudden — grateful, — cool retreat—
And high above my shelter'd head
The floating canopy was spread.
Did blushing fruit, — suspended high,
Elude my touch, — attract mine eye—
Some friendly wing the branches sought,
Some shining beak the berries brought.

No hapless worm — with busy bill,
Are these fair creatures form'd to kill;
But fed their little chirping train
With odorous gums, and pearly grain.
They knew not death — each rolling year
Some flew to seek a brighter sphere.

Unsated had I longer seen
Those warblers tripping on the green,
But the recess where cradled lay
That wrinkled — helpless — son of clay,
Whose natal hour amaz'd I saw,
Reversing Nature's general law;
A deeper interest had wrought—
More closely twin'd with ev'ry thought,
Than all the charms of sight or sound,
By which that lovely night was crown'd.

Ennobled rose his feeble form,
Progressive life appeared to warm
His trembling limbs — and o'er his face
Expression shed a nameless grace;
He marks the rippling streamlet play—
With eyes that watch its glancing ray,
Nor turns with cold disgust from those
Who bring the cup where nectar flows.

Yes, Mother, I had augured right,
No clouds obscured my mental sight
With truth invested as with light.
What here I painfully must learn,
There at one glance I could discern,—
From youth to age we sadly tread,
From age to youth their lives are sped.
No eager hope is ever crost—
No blessing gained is ever lost.
Here pine no unrequited loves—
No parting pang affection proves.

What joy would fill the lover's breast
Could he the steps of Time arrest,
Whose swift, accelerating course,
First scarce observed, still gathers force
As nearer every treacherous day
Brings the grim tyrant to his prey;
Profuse of gifts — There time is known
But by progressive good alone.
The heap of sorrows we call age,
Last scene of life's dull pilgrimage,
Gives them to feel with force and truth
The pleasures of advancing youth.

Within those sweet, secluded bowers,
While thus I gave the pensive hours
To contemplation and repose,
A light entrancing strain arose.
The notes in sprightly cadence move,
And such might Psyche sing to Love.
AURELIO comes! with swift descent
He cleaves the starry firmament,
The quick vibration of his wings
This joy-inspiring measure flings—
Diffusing as he floats along
"The floods of odor and of song."

On downy pinions flew away
The tuneful night — the glitt'ring day,
Ask not how many, or how few—
AURELIO loved — 'twas all I knew!

MOTHER.
Did wit, or eloquence divine,
My daughter, in AURELIO shine?

LAURA.
Speech! our poor engine of deceit,
For lips like his were all unmeet.
Complaint may ease the sting of pain,
And flattery sooth the proud and vain:
Cunning in studied phrase beguiles,
But love and joy speak best in smiles.

Now shone full orbed the placid light
That rules their long and lovely night;
A mountain's woody side we climb,
Whose Alpine head arose sublime—
A group of Moonlanders were there
(Such in my heart the name they bear).
A lovely pair, — above the rest
Seemed by celestial vision blest.
On him, resplendent wings arise,
Pre-eminent in form and size;
Triumphantly with tender pride
He gazed on her — who graced his side.
She — wingless — sensitive — and mild,
With pure and grateful fondness smiled.

They reach the airy summit now,
And scarcely touch the mountain's brow,
When kneeling, — with seraphic grace,
Devotion beaming o'er her face—
Eyes — that in love and rapture swim,
Imploringly are raised to him.
His looks are fixed on Heaven alone,
Yet does he not her prayer disown;
With pious air his hand he laid
In benediction on her head—
From her fair shoulders instant rise
Plumes — beaming with celestial dyes.

One farewell look each casts below,
Then with undeviating and slow
Ascent — to purer spheres they go.
I hear their quivering plumage raise
The mingled hymn of joy and praise—
Now melting in the distant ray,
They disappear — it fades away;
Their lovely forms are seen no more,
And that ethereal strain is o'er.
Towards the blue vault all eyes are turned,
All hearts with holy rapture burned,
And high enthusiastic hope
Of fairer worlds and wider scope.

Before the planet of the night
Again displayed her crescent light,
AURELIO led me to the bower
Of him, who, in auspicious hour,
Had passed life's first depressing stage,
And triumphed — as in green old age.
Propt on a staff, he learns to rove
Through sunny glade, and glimmering grove;
But ere three orient suns appeared,
Firm and erect his form he reared,
As one who had that period gained
When ripe experience is attained,
But nought diminished of the fire
Action or counsel may require.

Another — and another day—
Youths glancing lights around him play,
As rolling hours their passage trace,
Each adds a charm, or wakes a grace;
A lighter air his form assumes,
Like tender buds the roseate plumes,
Mark that superior nature given
To form the link 'twixt earth and Heaven
At length unfolding, — wide and fair,
They give the empire of the air.
Long shall he feel his happy lot
Hovering o'er many a blissful spot;
Long on these rosy pinions borne
Shall fly to meet the blushing morn;
And when to full perfection grown
Seated on each, — as on a throne,
Two milk-white plumes shall proudly rise,
And waft him nearer to the skies—
Fair pledges of immortal youth,—
Emblems of constancy and truth—
They mark the moment, when from earth,
His sister spirit claims her birth,
Who from that hour with him shall prove
The joys of never-dying love.

Such was th' immutable decree,
Known with delight — by all — but me.
Yet in the present I forgot
The future misery of my lot—
But as the blissful moments fled
AURELIO'S glittering pinions spread
A wider circuit round his head.
Amid their many colored dyes,
I saw two snowy plumes arise.
Oh! thou pale emblem of despair,
Why shine so exquisitely fair?

AURELIO saw its whiteness gleam
Reflected from the glassy stream,
And felt that from her bed of clay
His sister spirit on that day
Would rise to claim such depth of love
As Moonlanders alone can prove.

There by the liberal hand of Heaven
Is high prophetic impulse given;
Led by this strong, unerring power,
Joyful he seeks the hallowed bower.

The crumbling clay — I saw it heave,
Saw the wan form her precincts leave;
An aged sorceress thus might crawl
To prophecy a nation's fall.

Caducity and dire decay,
Seemed to have marked her for their prey;
She, — with sunk eye and panting breath
Appeared to wait the stroke of death.

I looked with eyes of sense alone,
And deemed AURELIO still my own.
Was this a rival to be feared,
Whose dull deformity appeared
Like a terrific lesson given
To mark the power of angry Heaven?

While these seducing hopes arise,
Joy sparkles in AURELIO'S eyes.
For through that hideous veil of clay
He saw the soul's translucent ray;
He saw the angelic mind alone,
Where innocence and sweetness shone;
He knew how soon the dancing hours
Would bring their all improving powers,
Adding to softness, love, and truth,
Bright beauty — and immortal youth.

Shuddering I saw — my throbbing heart
With wild emotion seemed to start,
As from its painful throne to part,
Then stopt — its pulse grew still as death.
With nought of life but struggling breath,
I stood the statue of despair—
I did not weep — nor rend my hair—
Nor call the powers of Heaven and earth
To curse the day that gave me birth.
The trappings these of lighter woe,
The fiery pang the jealous know,
Once felt, becomes a part of life;
Death only ends internal strife.
But ere the soul and body part,
His icy touch benumbs the heart;
And though the cheek, the lip may glow,
A frightful desert lurks below.

On that fair orb, so near to Heaven,
No second pain was ever given.
This jealous anguish could not last;
In one wild moment all was past.
Sleep on my senses softly stole,
And hushed the tempest of my soul,
Till wafted from that happy seat,
I wakened at my Mother's feet.

And now, let others trill the strain,
Hope's all-seducing smile to gain.
To Memory shall LAURA raise
The votive hymn of prayer and praise;
For I can only wish to live
While she her charmed cup will give.

[pp. 3-44]