Not in those climes where I have
late been straying,
Though Beauty long hath there been matchless deemed,
Not in those visions to the heart displaying
Forms which it sighs but to have only dreamed,
Hath aught like thee in truth or fancy seemed:
Nor, having seen thee, shall I vainly seek
To paint those charms which varied as they beamed —
To such as see thee not my words were weak;
To those who gaze on thee, what language could they speak?
Ah! mayst thou ever be what now
Nor unbeseem the promise of thy spring,
As fair in form, as warm yet pure in heart,
Love’s image upon earth without his wing,
And guileless beyond Hope’s imagining!
And surely she who now so fondly rears
Thy youth, in thee, thus hourly brightening,
Beholds the rainbow of her future years,
Before whose heavenly hues all sorrow disappears.
Young Peri of the West!—’tis
well for me
My years already doubly number thine;
My loveless eye unmoved may gaze on thee,
And safely view thy ripening beauties shine:
Happy, I ne’er shall see them in decline;
Happier, that while all younger hearts shall bleed
Mine shall escape the doom thine eyes assign
To those whose admiration shall succeed,
But mixed with pangs to Love’s even loveliest hours decreed.
Oh! let that eye, which, wild as
Now brightly bold or beautifully shy,
Wins as it wanders, dazzles where it dwells,
Glance o’er this page, nor to my verse deny
That smile for which my breast might vainly sigh,
Could I to thee be ever more than friend:
This much, dear maid, accord; nor question why
To one so young my strain I would commend,
But bid me with my wreath one matchless lily blend.
Such is thy name with this my verse
And long as kinder eyes a look shall cast
On Harold’s page, Ianthe’s here enshrined
Shall thus be first beheld, forgotten last:
My days once numbered, should this homage past
Attract thy fairy fingers near the lyre
Of him who hailed thee, loveliest as thou wast,
Such is the most my memory may desire;
Though more than Hope can claim, could Friendship less require?
CANTO THE FIRST.
Oh, thou, in Hellas deemed of heavenly
Muse, formed or fabled at the minstrel’s will!
Since shamed full oft by later lyres on earth,
Mine dares not call thee from thy sacred hill:
Yet there I’ve wandered by thy vaunted rill;
Yes! sighed o’er Delphi’s long-deserted shrine
Where, save that feeble fountain, all is still;
Nor mote my shell awake the weary Nine
To grace so plain a tale—this lowly lay of mine.