1829
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Pyramus and Thisbe.

The New-York Mirror and Ladies' Literary Gazette 6 (23 May 1829) 368.

C.


Six Spenserians signed "C." Venturing forth to meet her lover on a splendid evening in Babylon, Thisbe makes her terrible discovery: "Oh, love! thine image is a shadow vain; | An unsubstantial and delusive ray; | Once beaming kindly o'er youth's fresh domain, | And then for ever passing hence away, | Leaving the spirit shut in walls of clay!" The story being a familiar one (if only from Shakespeare), the poem takes the form of a descriptive lyric as opposed to a narrative.



In the far chambers of the radiant west,
Was sinking to repose the golden sun;
His red glance lingered on Euphrates' breast,
And trembled on the fanes of Babylon,
With beams that gladdened all they gazed upon:
Thro' fragrant gardens stole the south wind's sigh;
Mild as a thought of some rich vision gone;
A spell seemed cast upon the o'er-arching sky,
Lit by the magic power of sunset's alchemy!

At such an hour, the mind's creative charm
Sheds over earth a halo of delight;
The heart, with rapture and with glory warm,
As the day yields unto the calm twilight,
Thrills, while young fancy soars on pinions bright;
And hope is lingering with her music there,
With her dreams pictured to the spirit's sight—
Earth then seems Eden; heaven is clear and fair;
And hallowed stars look out from the blue fields of air.

Yet unto hearts which have been stirred by love,
Like fount by wild-bird on its purple wing,
How must the green earth's breast, the sky above,
At such an hour, to their imagining
A rapt delirium to the spirit bring!
All things have gladness for the bounding soul;
The world is brightening with the hues of spring;
As passion-tides through ardent bosoms roll,
Spurning the bonds of clay, despising their control.

And thus it was, when gentle Thisbe came,
Musing in bliss, that golden evening-tide;
With sighs of fragrance, and with heart of flame,
To early love's devotedness allied—
A maid in beauty, destined for a bride!
How thronged glad fancies to her ardent brain,
As young birds, flower-like, in the air will glide,
When leaves make music to the west wind's strain!
Thus was her spirit fill'd with hopes and yearnings vain.

Where was the loved one, while that maiden stood
In her meek loneliness beside the tomb;
While dread and fear, like an o'erpowering flood,
Swept o'er her young heart with a sense of gloom:
While from her rose-leaf lip had passed the bloom,
And the light from her enkindled eye;
Which no fond accent ever might relume:
As the dun clouds when autumn-winds are high,
Shut out the crimson ray that gilds the evening sky.

Oh, love! thine image is a shadow vain;
An unsubstantial and delusive ray;
Once beaming kindly o'er youth's fresh domain,
And then for ever passing hence away,
Leaving the spirit shut in walls of clay!
Why should young hearts e'en bow them at thy shrine,
Wedded to dust, united to decay?
Yet let the soul that loveth, not repine—
Such was thy fate, fond Thisbe! — such is mine!

[p. 368]