Nor less, less oft, as on that day, appears,
When lingering, as prophetic of the truth,
By the way-side she shed her parting tears—
For ever lovely in the light of Youth?
[Footnote: On the death of her sister.]
There, in that bed so closely curtain’d round,
Worn to a shade, and wan with slow decay,
A father sleeps! Oh hush’d be every sound!
Soft may we breathe the midnight hours away!
He stirs—yet still he sleeps. May
Long o’er his smooth and settled pillow rise;
Till thro’ the shutter’d pane the morning streams,
And on the hearth the glimmering rush-light dies.
On thee, blest youth, a father’s hand confers
The maid thy earliest, fondest wishes knew.
Each soft enchantment of the soul is hers;
Thine be the joys to firm attachment due.
As on she moves with hesitating grace,
She wins assurance from his soothing voice;
And, with a look the pencil could not trace,
Smiles thro’ her blushes, and confirms the choice.
Spare the fine tremors of her feeling frame!
To thee she turns—forgive a virgin’s fears!
To thee she turns with surest, tenderest claim;
Weakness that charms, reluctance that endears!
At each response the sacred rite requires,
From her full bosom bursts the unbidden sigh.
A strange mysterious awe the scene inspires;
And on her lips the trembling accents die.
O’er her fair face what wild emotions play!
What lights and shades in sweet confusion blend!
Soon shall they fly, glad harbingers of day,
And settled sunshine on her soul descend!
Ah soon, thine own confest, ecstatic thought!
That hand shall strew thy summer-path with flowers;
And those blue eyes, with mildest lustre fraught,
Gild the calm current of domestic hours!
The sun-beams streak the azure skies,
And line with light the mountain’s brow:
With hounds and horns the hunters rise,
And chase the roebuck thro’ the snow.
From rock to rock, with giant-bound,
High on their iron poles they pass;
Mute, lest the air, convuls’d by sound,
Rend from above a frozen mass. [Footnote]
The goats wind slow their wonted way,
Up craggy steeps and ridges rude;
Mark’d by the wild wolf for his prey,
From desert cave or hanging wood.
And while the torrent thunders loud,
And as the echoing cliffs reply,
The huts peep o’er the morning-cloud,
Perch’d, like an eagle’s nest, on high.
[Footnote: There are passes in the Alps, where the guides tell you to move on with speed, and say nothing, lest the agitation of the air should loosen the snows above. GRAY’S MEM. sect. v. lett.4.]