A domestic tragedy in 397 Spenserians. Hobart Caunter's plangent tale, set on an island in the Indian Ocean, describes the happy childhood of two lovers, their tragic death, and its horrific effects on those who love them. The first two cantos are a close imitation of Campbell's Gertrude of Wyoming. Thereafter the narrative develops in unexpected directions, veering variously towards Byron, Milton, and Shakespeare. The reflections on providence and superstition in the last two cantos seem derived from Robert Southey's recently-published Tale of Paraguay. The Island Bride is stuffed-owl poetry of the highest order; readers with the pertinacity necessary to reach the last canto will encounter truly wonderful things.
While Caunter had spent his youth in India, there is very little descriptive specificity beyond the imitations of Campbell in the first canto. The characters, who have British names, are apparently intended for Catholics, like the Spaniards in Southey's poem. A smattering of archaisms indicates that The Island Bride is intended as a Spenserian poem. The whole is larded with sententious comments, further developed in thirty pages of appended notes. Caunter was editor of The Oriental Annual (1830-39).
Morning Post: "We have here one of those engaging and chaste poetical productions, the unassuming beauties of which enchain the sympathy and impress themselves on the mind of even the superficial reader, while to a closer examination they appear not the less attractive. It is written in the delicious Spenserian stanza, so well adapted for refinement and delicacy of expression; in selecting which elegant but difficult measure our author has added not a little to the effect of the poem. His style reminds us strongly of Beattie's Minstrel, and if he has not equalled a poem which ranks among the first in the English language, he has at least done that which ought to establish his reputation, and which we hope will encourage him to further efforts. The tale is simple and affecting, and is made the vehicle for displaying the powers of the author in depicting the tenderest emotions or the wildest passions of the heart. We think the former style more congenial to him, for while here all is simplicity and nature, in the latter he inclines to paint the picture in too vivid colours. But 'e'en his failings lean to virtue's side;' he writes in the cause of morality, and to show innocence of mind and purity of heart in their brightest attractions is the aim in which he has well succeeded" (15 April 1830).
Monthly Magazine: "A little romantic tale, with few incidents, and those chiefly of the domestic kind, but abundance of gentle sentiment and charming scenery. It is a poem to be read only at leisure and at ease, by the young, by those whose imaginations are still in the clouds, and not yet brought down to the grovelling realities of life. Almost in any part of the volume a favourable specimen might be taken at random" NS 9 (June 1830) 711.
La Belle Assemblee: "That the author of this poem is possessed of considerable poetic talent we do not hesitate to assert. The work before us has a touching interest in its plot, and, generally speaking, a smoothness and sweetness of versification that entitle it to praise. Its faults are — too much diffuseness, too great an amplitude of description, too frequent an intrusion of weak similes and prosaic lines, which often mar a passage of considerable beauty; and a vein of moralizing which fatigues the attention of the reader. Part of the fifth, and the whole of the sixth canto, also, present an anti-climax. The poem should have terminated with the death of the lovers" S3 12 (July 1830) 31.
The Athenaeum: "We are glad that this poem — of which we gave a favourable review, on its first appearance — has reached a second edition. In the advertisement prefixed to it, we are now informed of the groundwork on which it has been erected. We shall allow Mr. C. to speak for himself: 'As several persons who seem to have taken an interest in the story, have inquired whether the events related in it are true, I will here state the incident which originally suggested it. When I touched at the Isle of France, on my way from India, there was an old man, with silvery locks, residing on a small estate a few miles distant from the town of Port Louis, who was an object of universal sympathy, having become deranged in consequence of the loss of an only daughter. These simple facts have furnished the groundwork of The Island Bride; the rest of the characters, as well as all the incidents of the poem, are fictitious" (27 November 1830) 744.
The narrative opens with a description of the natural spendors of Mauritius, a substantial island acquired by Britain from France in 1814. There dwells the hermit Eumenes, with his lovely daughter Bertha: "How oft she'd climb | Her native hills, and brave, with fearless tread, | The steep ascent; there trill her native rhyme, | Nor heed the rocks that frowned above her head, | Within whose murky clefts the eagle's victims bled" p. 15. In this island paradise Bertha has grown to the age of eighteen in perfect innocence and simplicity, the wonder of all who behold her. Instructed by her father, she has mastered moral philosophy and the liberal and polite arts. Eumenes is an elderly but a happy and vigorous man, grateful to God for blessings bestowed: "O'er him content her sweetest influence shed, | Nor had he any wants or wishes now, | Except to hear his child pronounce the marriage vow" p. 32.
Beneath a distant hill whose giant form
Threatened the clouds, an humble cottage stood;—
Small, low and lonely, it escaped the storm;
Screened and protected by a neighbouring wood
Which spread its sombre foliage many a rood:
Above its chimney-top the craggy steep
Rose like a column, on whose brow the brood
Of carrion birds their daily revel keep,
And there in guiltless blood their horny talons steep.
Here oft the storm terrific fury poured,
Like a bayed tiger in his fierce despair.
Around its peak the deafening thunders roared,
And the gaunt wolf, half famished, sought his lair—
Scared by the din, to howl his terrors there.
Trees down the mighty precipices flung,
From their bleak sides the scanty verdure tear:—
The poles seemed rent on which the world is hung,
When round the blackening skies the voice of ruin rung.
Here on the dizzy cliff the light gazelle
Browzed fearless by the dark and deep ravine;
Beneath him rolled the clouds, and o'er the dell
Hovered the morning mists, as if to screen
The airy wanderer. Whilst with eye serene
And bounding step he sprung from steep to steep
Heedless of peril, what a glorious scene
Around him spread! Who could behold, and keep
His big heart still the while? — how would it start and leap,
To view the heavens' magnificent array
Without a speck to bar the raptured sight;
To mark the rising of the orb of day
In all the splendour of unclouded light;
To see what, in his plenitude of might,
The Deity for this fallen world has done!
Oh! think not, mortal, that sin's withering blight
Has marred it yet — up the high mountain run,
And from the swelling flood behold the morning sun.
See him above the slumbering waters rise
With one grand burst of glory, whilst the wave
Catches the lustre as he climbs the skies
To look on distant worlds; the blue concave
Grows bright before him, and he seems to pave
Its vast circumference with his own light.
The fading stars his presence dare not brave;
And when he glows from his meridian height,
All but a God he seems, in reason's very spite.
The mountain gained, gaze o'er the vast expanse;
Behold it — how stupendous the display!—
See nature in her wild magnificence;
Then to that God the prostrate homage pay
Who lit, when all was dark, the torch of day,
And spangled o'er with stars the ethereal road.
If in this world it were man's doom to stay,
Nor pierced by sorrow's sting nor misery's goad,
How would his heart rejoice in such a blest abode!
The ocean compassed with its watery zone
MAURITIUS' rocky shore; above the sea
Hills, as by some long-past convulsion thrown
From the smooth plain, frowned sternly o'er the lea.
Upon their brows the hardy ebony
Waved to the blast in deep and dusky files:
Beneath the thick funereal canopy
The Caffer brigand, resting from his toils,
In plotting daring schemes the daylight hours beguiles.
Here 'neath the towering Alp securely rose
The dwelling of content; before the door
A yew-tree grew, grave emblem of repose.
Though all within proclaimed its inmates poor,
Still nought of vulgar life was there; their store,
Though rude, evinced them of fair lineage sprung.
A sire and daughter were its inmates; sore
The sorrows which the old man's heart had wrung,
Though o'er him now content her sweetest chaplet hung.
The neat sequestered dwelling reared its head
Close at the mountain's base; along the wall
Its yearly growth a vine luxuriant spread,
And duly gave its luscious load to all
For whom it thrived, and, though the boon was small,
With tributary store repaid their care.
Nigh to the garden foamed a waterfall,
Which lent its limpid current, cold and rare,
To cheer the thirsty soil to yield its frugal fare.
Seldom the squalid harpies of disease
Came on destruction's mission; nature here
In all her various changes seemed to please;
And though sometimes her aspect was severe,
Still, when her terrors waked the shriek of fear,
There was an awful grandeur in their scowl.
What though the fierce tornado, year by year,
Sent forth his deathful agents here to howl,—
Ne'er teemed with fogs the air, dark, pestilent and foul.
Thus, health requited by her blessings rare
The inmates of this solitary cot.
They were not pampered; their repast was spare:
Content enhanced their homeliness of lot,
And peace maintained her empire o'er the spot.
Clear was the sky above them — never there
The deadly vapour sailed; with crimson blot
Fever ne'er flushed her cheek; nor croaking care
Approached, with pointed fang, to prey upon despair.
The wide and varied prospect charmed the eye
With all that heaven's magnificence could yield:
Above, the cloudless azure of the sky,
Below, the simple vesture of the field.
The surging mountain, on whose summit reeled
Its hardy sons above the reach of sight;—
The wood, whose trees their giant branches wield
To dare the crashing tempest in its might,
Impart to nature's child a stern but pure delight.
For there are feelings for the vast and wild
In nature and her rude sublimities.
When, like huge Ossas upon Pelions piled,
Her alpine barriers seem to brave the skies,
Within us those sublime emotions rise
Which lift us to the stars, and, pure as they,
Raise the heart's rapture through the wondering eyes.
Thus when around the heavens fierce lightnings play,
With a stern pleasure still we trace their dazzlng, way.
This was the clime of storms and of the sun.
In many a trench and rugged knoll was seen
How fiercely they destruction's work had done;
Still to the view, in fair and verdant sheen,
The prospect smiled, one mass of living green.
Before the cot a grassy vista sloped
Its smooth defile; there, spring's congenial queen,
The wild rose to the breeze her bosom oped—
There joy was fresh in bloom — there sadness never moped.
The fair perspective opened on the sea;
Beyond, the blue horizon closed the scene:
How calm, how grand in its sublimity
Was the vast ocean, as it rolled serene
Below the distant plains which smiled between.
Around the cottage, darkened o'er by time,
Rocks, loosely bedded, frowned with hideous mien—
Like wretch, whose lineaments are stern with crime—
Above the jar of storms they reared their heads sublime.
Here in retirement dwelt a hoary sage,
Remote from all those feverish scenes of life
Which have their different charms for every age,
But teem so much with mischief. Dangers rife
Are blent with man's enjoyments: hate and strife
Clank their rough fetters round the guilty soul.
How oft does murder whet her greedy knife,
Or, whilst she slily mocks the law's control,
Prepare, with fiendish art, and drug the deadly bowl.
Such are among the terrors which abound
In an unholy world. It is not there
That calm is to be sought, enjoyment found;
Tumultuous joys assail us but to scare
The wearied spirit, and to rivet care
More fixedly within us. Hoarse and loud
Woe, masked in smiles, besets us everywhere:
There the sole garb of virtue is her shroud,
For how should virtue live where vice's legions crowd?
But in retirement, where the constant war
Of fierce dissention never swells the breeze,
Smooth and unvaried is the track of life.
No sordid feelings on the bosom seize,
And wring the bitters from affliction's lees:
Man blandly here his placid course pursues,
Vexed by no sorrows, tranquil in his ease;
Strengthened by hope, and bright with heavenly views,
Starts for that goal the soul, which woe to those who lose.
For no foul agents of corruption ply
The secrets of their art: example here
Assumes no form to catch the unpractised eye,
And cheat the soul to wrong; tranquil and clear
The stream of life runs on, and misery's tear
Sears not the cheek of youth, nor mars its bloom.
The present and the past alike appear
Without their haps of ill; no sullen gloom
Tracks the swift flight of time, to make our days a doom.
All the mild virtues of the heart are nurst,
And ne'er polluted by those thoughts impure
By which the sons of sensual mirth are curst;
Whilst from temptation's circumventive lure
It fears no evil, calm and self-secure.
Here every wild emotion is at rest,
And the soul finds a refuge ever sure;
No pangs of thought the placid mind molest —
No whirlwind passions rise to desolate the breast.
But such unearthly feelings are unknown
To those who shun retirement's haunts, and hie,
Like foul bacchantes to the burning zone
Of revelry, and drain his chalice dry.
There, like a plague-blast, in the glowing sky
Contagious poisons taint the steaming air
In crowded chambers, where the sensual eye
Rolls with unhallowed leer, and the frail fair
Meets with a ready smile the fixed and shameless stare.
There is in solitude a secret charm
Which, of the sons of wassail, none can know.
There discord never sounds her harsh alarm,
And the meek lamb, unconscious of a foe,
Shuns not his tyrant man; the timid doe
Frisks o'er the lawn and snuffs the western gale;
The hart feels nought of terror's boisterous throe,
But bounds in freedom o'er the dappled dale;
Whilst at the evening fire goes round the merry tale.
One only daughter could Eumenes boast
The frugal pleasures of his home to share:
To shield this flower from an untimely frost
Was now his only hope, his only care.
Though his board groaned not with luxurious fare,
Nor on it blushed the rich and gorgeous ore,
More than sufficed his humble wants was there;
For nature, with a lavish hand, did pour
Perpetual plenty from her sweet but simple store.
Thus, far from courts and base intrigue removed,
The blooming Bertha spent her hours of prime:
She loved her father, was by him beloved,
And casting incense on the wings of time,
Sweetened his rapid flight. How oft she'd climb
Her native hills, and brave, with fearless tread,
The steep ascent; there trill her native rhyme,
Nor heed the rocks that frowned above her head,
Within whose murky clefts the eagle's victims bled.
Upon her cheek the fondly wooing sun
Had spread a tinge of pure and healthy brown
The mantling currents underneath did run,
And through the skin, ne'er ruffled by a frown,
Revealed that tint which makes so sweetly known
That health is at the heart. O'er each bright eye
A tapering arch by heaven's own hand was thrown,
Like the young moon, when in the placid sky
Her slender crescent hangs, joy's herald from on high.
When o'er their mild orbs closed each lovely lid,
The lovelier lashes met and intertwined,
And, respiting the gaze, a moment hid
Those sweet interpreters of heart and mind.
The long dark fringes, when, like lovers kind,
They met embracing, from the gazer's eye
Forced a quick rapture, new and undefined:—
To sketch her full resemblance would defy
The master-touch of art — 'twere worse than vain to try.
Bertha was nature's uncorrupted child;
She knew no evil, nor of evil dreamed:
On life's fair prospect, when she looked, she smiled,
For all was lovely to her sight, or seemed.
Oft when the owl his ominous night-note screamed,
She'd listen to the shrill portentous tone;
But with no inward dread her bosom teemed—
To her the name of terror was unknown,
For o'er her soul's repose no storm had ever blown.
Oft would she seek the mountain's spiry brow,
Where the strained eye her form could scarcely gain,
Gaze in mute rapture on the expanse below,—
On all the splendours of the varied plain;
Nor would the dizzy height confuse her brain:
There would she tarry till the sinking sun
Plunged his hot chariot in the cooling main,
Then sigh to think his daily course was run—
Still 'twas the sigh of peace, for sorrow she had none.
As in some solitary glen the rose
Opens its gradual beauties to the dawn,
Loading the wings of every wind that blows
To waft its fragrance o'er the smiling lawn:
So, from the ruthless spoiler's snare withdrawn,
Fair Bertha flourished in her native wild,
Where nothing shunned her path, where kid and fawn
Frolicked before her, as, with aspect mild,
She cheered their nigh approach and at their gambols smiled.
Here Bertha dwelt for heaven, and all was rest
Within a bosom not yet warped by guile;
The very throbbings of her gentle breast
Were peace's lullaby; and, when the smile
Played round her lips, it seemed as if the while
The sunlight of her soul was beaming there
Its God's bright reflex. How should guilt defile
A thing so pure! — and yet was she as fair
As she was good — oh! that like her all women were!
There was a sweet unconsciousness about her,
An utter absence of all pride, all art:
Who heard her clear soft tones could never doubt her,
They were the echoes of a guileless heart.
Truth hung upon her lips, whence brightly dart
Its rays divine; so seraph-like her air,
That her pure frame seemed of her soul a part—
Fit casket for a work so passing rare,
For innocence had fixed its fairest impress there.
Within the circle of her native glen
She passed, without a care, the live-long day:
No wish was hers to join the "hum of men,"
Who wile in sensual dreams their lives away.
With the young rustics at their evening play
She'd mix, partaker of their merry glee,
And oft-times join the artless roundelay,
Or thread the dance, with footstep light and free,—
Her life, without its din, one constant jubilee.
Thus was that lovely seraph of the breast,
Sweet sensibility, matured — a charm
Which they alone can prize who know it best:
All such feel keenly that the fond alarm,
The rapid pulse, emotions quick and warm,
But nourish pain to point the edge of bliss.
Give me those pangs of feeling which disarm
The bosom of its steel, and from the kiss
Of trite affection draw the sweets of happiness.
Oh! there are certain achings of the heart
Which, though they furnish us endurance sad,
I would not, whilst they torture, bid depart,
If I must lose what follows them: the bad
Alone are wretched! — who would not be glad
To bear with woe, if bliss is to succeed?
Grief is joy's touchstone; — joy can ne'er be had
Unmixed with sorrow; 'tis the sinner's meed:
Guilt first provoked the doom — the gladdest heart must bleed.
Secluded from the captivating gaze
Of sensual men, fair Bertha's youth passed on.
The few who saw, saw not without amaze
Mixed with delight, this beauty's paragon
The general meed of homage had she won
From the boors dwelling near her native cot.
Though she had never basked in luxury's sun,
Still hers might well be deemed a blessed lot,
For earth's best blessings bloomed in that one lovely spot.
Just eighteen times the bright and eager sun
Around the heavens his flaming sphere had rolled
Since Bertha's life of innocence begun.
Already did her form its charms unfold,
And o'er her polished neck, in rings of gold,
The clustering tresses hung; her lovely face,—
On which the crimson eloquently told
That peace within had fixed its resting place,—
Bore, in each lineament, expression's easy grace.
Her figure, like the lily's slender stein,
Rose tapering, and expanded, as the spring
Of life attained its prime; the spotless gem
Of virtue — a most rare and precious thing—
Deep in her mind was set; the fretting sting
Of passion never reached her placid breast;
Its potent poisons, fierce and festering,
Ne'er broke the even tenour of her rest,
And next her heart the dove had fearless made its nest.
Oh! had the angels when (as some have sung)
They left for earth the bright abodes of heaven,
Looked upon aught so pure, so fair, so young,
With love's chaste raptures — they had been forgiven.
She had no mixture of that earthly leaven,
Which, where infused, through the whole body creeps,
Till the meek spirit from its home is driven:
Her heart was shaped out in her words — there keeps
Faith its unerring guard, and mercy never sleeps.
Whene'er she paced the wold or mountain glen,
On meditations of high scope intent,
Far from all vulgar or insidious ken,
Her bright eyes beamed with rapture as she went:
Beneath her gentle tread the heather bent,
And its fresh fragrance gushed from every pore,
As if to wrap her in an element
Which she alone might breathe: her mental store
Here found a kindred clime, and brightened more and more.
Her sire upon the tablets of her mind
Had traced her conduct's chart, for 'twas his will
That all its elements should be refined;
And he instructed her with anxious skill
To shun those paths which slope the way to ill.
Storing her mind from that experienced tongue,
She did his fondest wishes soon fulfil;
O'er her fair brows wit's sprightly chaplets flung,
And with a steady speed, towards wisdom's summit sprung.
Soon through the flowery paths of classic lore
With most intense devotion had she past;
Nor did her plastic mind disdain to pore
O'er ancient tomes, though dull and overcast
By the crude writ of tedious scholiast.
Eager as diligent, her mind she stored
With various knowledge — knowledge formed to last;
Not its mere exhalations, so adored
By wits of vapoury brain — by nobler souls abhorred.
Nor, as beneath her, past she heedless by
Those light accomplishments which add their grace
To win the heart and captivate the eye.
Oft with her rapid pencil would she trace
The form and varied features of the face;
Or nature's sterner lineaments, where wild
She frowns, like some huge son of giant race;
Or, when the moon upon the landscape smiled,
Picture the shadowy scene, — by the sweet task beguiled.
Hers was a mind so exquisitely wrought,
It all but won perfection; from her eye
The brightest beams of intellect were caught,
Whilst her transcendent soul and spirit high
Peeped forth at every glance to dignify
The form that did enshrine them. Nature here
Seemed to have clothed, for once, mortality
In the fair guise of heaven: without a peer
She trod this grosser earth as if 'twere not her sphere.
Time thus urged on his smooth but swift career,
And o'er her, sorrow shed no withering blight.
From her bleared eye the beldame's blistering tear
Ne'er flowed, to cheek the lovely girl's delight—
Sweet were her thoughts by day, her dreams by night:
To her this world was paradise, as yet
None of guilt's phantoms dire had crossed her sight;
And though on heaven her brightest hopes were set,
Still was she blest on earth, nor had one vain regret.
Her sire was happy, too; he saw the day
Of his hopes realized: his setting sun
Was glowing with a bright and cloudless ray—
Though clouds had dimmed it once, ere it had run
The earliest of its course. It had begun
Indeed in darkness, but a glorious light
Is passing from it, ere its task be done.
Life is, in truth, a scene of dark and bright,
Where oft the clearest day succeeds the blackest night.
The good old man! — as kind as he was good!
His daughter fondly loved him; and, to be
The object of a love so hallowed, stood
The fairest proof of worth in high degree.
His friends all reverenced this worth, and he
Deserved the kindly fellowship of all;
Whilst Bertha deemed — the purer angel she—
That in this world, to her no world of gall,
There lived no other man so free from vice's thrall.
So happy was he now, that scarce he felt
The flight of time, that, as it moves, destroys.
Before the throne of God he daily knelt
To bless him for his mercies. Those alloys
Which guilt so mingles with our sweetest joys,
Were no more tasted here; he now drank deep
Of that pure cup which only never cloys,
When virtue and religion jointly steep
Those spices in the draught, that from pollution keep.
All the stern hurricanes of life seemed o'er—
Long had he lived uninjured by their dint;
Their devastations harassed him no more,
And every hour had something joyous in't.
Repose had softened too his bosom's flint,
For early woes had hardened it. Before
His path was strewed the wealth from nature's mint;
And he looked onward now for a rich store
Of bliss, nor reeked how soon affliction's goad might gore.
But who shall scan the future? As we pace
Along life's chequered route, we feel, we see
On this world's surface — grief's abiding place,
All that there is of bliss or misery.
In our brief passage, jocund though we be,
Time soon may drug with pain our draught of joy.
Dark is the prospect of futurity,
And who shall tell what crosses may annoy;
What cares in comfort's spring may mix their foul alloy!
No one can know to what his days may tend,
Whether or smooth or rough his course shall run,
Or how this mortal pilgrimage may end—
So darkly is the web of being spun.
But God's decrees are wise; and if our sun
Of happiness grow dim, still wherefore fear?
That light which only in this world begun,
Will brighter shine in an eternal sphere,
Where bliss shall glad the more, the less our pleasure here.
Here oft, while joy's fresh flower is full in bloom,
Misfortune's sickle sweeps it to the dust;
Woe springs to vigorous growth on pleasure's tomb,
And gives her awful lesson of distrust.
Though peace may reign awhile, the insidious rust
Of latent sorrow oft will mar its ray;
But wisdom knows, in all her knowledge just,
This world's the transient temple of decay—
Here wretchedness and mirth must wear alike away.
Where now are Troy and mightier Babylon?
On their proud site the earth is wild and bare—
O'er them stern time has a full victory won,
And they are mingled with the things that were.
Thus works destruction; from his secret lair
He skulks abroad, to mar what man has made—
Decay, slow mining, meets us everywhere.
Earth's pageantries are fugitive — here fade
All things alike — the debts of nature must be paid.
Shall we then pine and fret because our lot
Is not a blest one here, when sin, hell-born,
O'er our fair destiny has cast her blot,
And to the rose of bliss attached a thorn
Nay, sinner, never tax thy God with scorn
Of his own works; if ills on earth assail,
'Tis thy, guilt's penalty; when thou art torn
By that fierce vulture, conscience — pause and hail
The chastening, and let virtue over vice prevail.
It was a wise decree that man should bear
Affliction's burthen in this vale of tears:
Were all enjoyment without grief or care,
How would he pass the current of his years?
Seduced by pleasure, hailed by vice's cheers,
Prurient desires would taint his easy heart.
Alas! what were our hopes without our fears!
There is a mercy in affliction's smart—
It heals those wounds of sin which mock all human art.
Alas! poor Bertha, little deemed she now
That aught could mar the tenour of her rest;
Smooth as the polished mirror was her brow,
For not a pang disturbed her gentle breast:
Her guileless heart, which woe had ne'er opprest,
Throbbed with no drear forebodings, for she felt
Heaven's mercy, and the blessed boon confest—
As yet her shock of suffering was not dealt,
But sorrow soon found way where peace so calmly dwelt.
Eumenes saw at length the ripening bloom,
Like moonlight on the stream, o'erspread her cheek:
There glowed fresh health, and shed its soft perfume
From lips that breathed such tones as angels speak.
He watched the vivid fires of genius break
From her dark eye, and busy hope began
To gain a giant's strength, as fear grew weak.
His cup of life with blessings now o'erran—
He felt there was on earth at least one happy man.
And was he thankless? No! his bosom glowed
With a most holy rapture, and he gave
The praise to Him who had alone bestowed
Such unrequited blessings. To the grave
He now looked forward, — when the solemn stave
Should swell above his dust, — without a sigh.
He had no further blessings here to crave,
And his soul kindled in his heavenward eye
As he poured forth his prayer to the great God on high.
Of life he now had reached beyond the prime;
And though the snow of years had blanched his head,
His powers had mocked the wasting might of time,
And o'er his cheek health's colour yet was spread
Still was his gait erect, and firm his tread;
Nor had the lines of age usurped his brow.
O'er him content her sweetest influence shed,
Nor had he any wants or wishes now,
Except to hear his child pronounce the marriage vow.