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WHEN some proud son of man returns to earth,
Oh, man ! thou feeble tenant of an hour,
Our life is twofold: sleep hath its own world,
I saw two beings in the hues of youth Standing upon a hill, a gentle hill, Green and of mild declivity,—the last As 'twere the cape of a long ridge of such, Save that there was no sea to lave its base, But a most living landscape, and the wave Of woods and corn-fields, and the abodes of men Scatter'd at intervals, and wreathing smoke Arising from such rustic roofs ; the hill Was crown'd with a peculiar diadem Of trees, in circular array, so fix'd, Not by the sport of nature, but of man: These two, a maiden and a youth, were there Gazing; the one, on all that was beneathFair as herself—but the boy gazed on her : And both were young, and one was beautiful; And both were young, yet not alike in youth. As the sweet moon on the horizon's verge, The maid was on the eve of womanhood; The boy had fewer summers, but his heart Had far outgrown his years; and, to his eye, There was but one beloved face on earth And that was shining on him : he had look'd Upon it till it could not pass away ; He had no breath, no being, but in hers: She was his voice ;-he did not speak to her, But trembled on her words : she was his sight, For his eye follow'd hers, and saw with hers, Which colour'd all his objects ;-he had ceased To live within himself : she was his life,The ocean to the river of his thoughts, Which terminated all! upon a tone, A touch of hers, his blood would ebb and flow, And his cheek change tempestuously ;- his heart Unknowing of its cause of agony. But she in these fond feelings had no share : Her sighs were not for him ! to her he was Even as a brother,—but no more : 'twas much, For brotherless she was, save in the name Her infant friendship had bestow'd on him; Herself the solitary scion left Of a time-honour'd race. It was a name Which pleased him, and yet pleased him not, -and why? Time taught him a deep answer—when she loved
Another ! even now she loved another ;
A change came o'er the spirit of my dream. There was an ancient mansion, and before Its walls there was a steed caparison's : Within an antique oratory stood The boy of whom I spake ;-he was alone, And pale, and pacing to and fro : anon He sate him down, and seized a pen, and traced Words which I could not guess of; then he lean'd His bow'd head on his hands, and shook as 'twere With a convulsion,—then arose again, And, with his teeth and quivering hands, did tear What he had written ; but he shed no tears. And he did calm himself, and fix his brow Into a kind of quiet : as he paused The lady of his love re-entered there; She was serene and smiling then,and vet She knew she was by him beloved ! she knew, For quickly comes such knowledge, that his heart Was darken'd with her shadow; and she saw That he was wretched,—but she saw not all. He rose, and, with a cold and gentle grasp, He took her hand ; a moment o'er his face A tablet of unutterable thoughts Was traced,—and then it faded as it came : He dropp'd the hand he held, and with slow steps Retired,—but not as bidding her adieu ; For they did part with mutual smiles : he pass'd From out the massy gate of that old hall, And mounting on his steed he went his way, And ne'er repass'd that hoary threshold more!
A change came o'er the spirit of my dream. The boy was sprung to manhood: in the wilds Of fiery climes he made himself a home, And his soul drank their sunbeams; he was girt With strange and dusky aspects; he was not Himself like what he had been : on the sea And on the shore he was a wanderer! There was a mass of many images
Crowded like waves upon me ; but he was
A change came o'er the spirit of my dream. The lady of his love was wed with one Who did not love her better : in her home, A thousand leagues from his,-her native home, She dwelt, begirt with growing infancy, Daughters and sons of beauty,-but, behold ! Upon her face there was the tint of grief, The settled shadow of an inward strife, And an unquiet drooping of the eye, As if its lid were charged with unshed tears. What could her grief be?—she had all she loved ; And he who had so loved her was not there To trouble with bad hopes, or evil wish, Or ill-repress'd affliction, her pure thoughts. What could her grief be ?-she had loved him not, Nor given him cause to deem himself beloved ; Nor could he be a part of that which prey'd Upon her mind,-a spectre of the past.
A change came o'er the spirit of my dream. The wanderer was return'd. I saw him stand Before an altar, with a gentle bride : Her face was fair,—but was not that which made The starlight of his boyhood ! as he stood Even at the altar, o'er his brow there came The selfsame aspect, and the quivering shock That in the antique oratory shook His bosom in its solitude ; and then, As in that hour, a moment o'er his face The tablet of unutterable thoughts