The poem styled “Romance” constituted the Preface of the 1829 volume, but with the addition of the following lines:
Succeeding years, too wild for song,
Then rolled like tropic storms along,
Where, though the garish lights that fly
Dying along the troubled sky,
Lay bare, through vistas thunder-riven,
The blackness of the general Heaven,
That very blackness yet doth fling
Light on the lightning’s silver wing.
For being an idle boy lang syne,
Who read Anacreon and drank wine,
I early found Anacreon rhymes
Were almost passionate sometimes—
And by strange alchemy of brain
His pleasures always turned to pain—
His naivete to wild desire—
His wit to love—his wine to fire—
And so, being young and dipt in folly,
I fell in love with melancholy.
And used to throw my earthly rest
And quiet all away in jest—
I could not love except where Death
Was mingling his with Beauty’s breath—
Or Hymen, Time, and Destiny,
Were stalking between her and me.
* * * * *
But now my soul hath too much room—
Gone are the glory and the gloom—
The black hath mellow’d into gray,
And all the fires are fading away.
My draught of passion hath been deep—
I revell’d, and I now would sleep—
And after drunkenness of soul
Succeeds the glories of the bowl—
An idle longing night and day
To dream my very life away.
But dreams—of those who dream
Aspiringly, are damned, and die:
Yet should I swear I mean alone,
By notes so very shrilly blown,
To break upon Time’s monotone,
While yet my vapid joy and grief
Are tintless of the yellow leaf—
Why not an imp the greybeard hath,
Will shake his shadow in my path—
And e’en the greybeard will o’erlook
Connivingly my dreaming-book.
* * * * *
* * * * *
From childhood’s hour I have not been As others were—I have not seen As others saw—I could not bring My passions from a common spring— From the same source I have not taken My sorrow—I could not awaken My heart to joy at the same tone— And all I loved—I loved alone— Thou—in my childhood—in the dawn Of a most stormy life—was drawn From every depth of good and ill The mystery which binds me still— From the torrent, or the fountain— From the red cliff of the mountain— From the sun that round me roll’d In its autumn tint of gold— From the lightning in the sky As it passed me flying by— From the thunder and the storm— And the cloud that took the form (When the rest of Heaven was blue) Of a demon in my view.
March 17, 1829.