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STANZAS ON FELIX MENDELSSOHN
WRITTEN IN BURNHAM BEECHES. JAN. 1848,
THESE ancient groves and solitudes among
Lately a bright celestial Being strayed;
A brief retreat from out the admiring throng
He sought and found beneath their leafy shade.
With careless steps he ranged the forest's maze;
Then, resting here a space, his raptured eye
He bent upon the scene with thoughtful gaze,
And bathed his spirit in its poetry.
To mark the cherished spot which once he pressed,
An humble mourner's hand hath raised a stone;
For He hath sunk to an eternal rest,
Untimely parted from his young renown,
Ere his rich gifts and inspirations bore
Their perfect fruit in his creative mind;
Ere swelled to flood, in life's meridian hour,
The Master's art to bless and charm mankind.
He stood confessed a genius—yet he scorned
An Idol's tempting privilege to claim ;
The virtues of the Man his course adorned,
And added lustre to his lyric fame.
Ah! Mendelssohn, hadst thou but oftener sought
Calm Nature's presence—hadst thou oftener fled
The incense-offering crowd, and idly caught
The summer breeze to fan thy fevered head—
Haply, e'en now, within its earthly sphere
Had beamed the radiance of thy soul divine;
And spared had been the unavailing tear,
Which from a thousand eyelids falls, with mine.
LINES TO JENNY LIND GOLDSCHMIDT,
WITH A MEDALLION PORTRAIT OF THORWALDSEN,
BEHOLD the impress of a noble mind!
Genius and native Worth in thee combined,
| Thorwaldsen master of creative art,
A name embalmed in Scandinavia's heart.
I place thine image in a “sister's" hand,
For “art” makes brotherhood in every land.
Great Powers both thou and she have wielded here;
And both have aimed, in their peculiar sphere,
To elevate the soul, and lift the eyes
|| Of mortals to a World beyond the skies.
Well may thy lineaments her home adorn,
Who, like *yself, to high distinction borne,
Now tastes the Sweets of freedom and of rest,
By love, and by approving conscience blest
LINEs SUGGESTED BY MORE THAN ONE
(WRITTEN BEFORE THE DIvorce courT HAD BEEN ESTABLISHED.)
FULL many a sorrowful and tragic tale
Enfolded lies beneath the semblance frail
Of wedded harmony and calm content 1
How oft a heart in aching bosom pent,
And careworn thoughts, are borne abroad unseen,
Weiled in the aspect of a cheerful mien,
By the sad mourner of a home unblest,
A faith unhonoured, and a life opprest
Norman nor woman may escape the pain
Which lurks in undiscerning Passion's train.
To short-lived joys, a long regret succeeds:
But whilst a lesson's taught, the learner bleeds.
Haply a pure and justly kindled flame
At Hymen's shrine a happier lot may claim,
For those who, blest with beauty, health, and grace,
Seek on those gifts a crowning charm to place,
And crave a sanction on their promised bliss.
E'en here will steal—in destiny like this,
That “bitter drop,” which, mortal cup without
May never mixed be, and turn to nought
Their glorious inheritance—thence cursed
With inward canker—of all ills the worst.
No hand can minister to griefs like these,
Nor holy science bring the sufferer ease.
A lengthened martyrdom without rewards,
Is all that hope permits, or life affords.
Man marvels over—pitying as he goes—
Th’ immense diversity of human woes;
Yet, with short-sighted folly, fails to see
How large a share of this vast misery
Is due to man's own impious agency.
So taught the eloquent recluse, Rousseau,
In days not quite a century ago;
Whilst in our own, there liveth not a few,
Whom woman's wrongs incline to think it true,
Ask—may the victim of a hasty vow
Ne'er seek release nor remedy ? Ah no!
A maiden once enclosed in nuptial ties,
Must wear her fetters till she sins or dies;
And suffer as she may, within these bounds,
No cure for sorrows and no balm for wounds.
No shield for her gainst contumely or harm;
Law, that “deaf adder,” hearkens to no “charm,”
If suppliant in a female form presume
To claim its aid against unequal doom.
Yet, surely, she may fly an unloved mate,
And find relief in undisturbed retreat 2
Not so—the law its powerless victim cites
To forced communion and unwilling rites,
Which sting with insult; whilst the loathed caress
But desecrates the couch it may not bless,
Such finished torture England's code can boast;
A formal framework, which, at woman's cost,
Flings a disguise o'er ruthless tyranny,
And drugs men's conscience with a special lie.
Not the Red Indian on Missouri's shore
His strength abuses by one fraction more
Than he who, aided by judicial might,
Counts as a feather in the balance, right,
And justice, sighs, tears, prayers-nay, all beside
When weighed against his lusts, his will, or pride.
Whilst with a whine, the felon is set free,
And Justice shrinks from her own stern decree,
This, our belauded humanizing age,
Leaves woman prisoned in her “legal” cage:
Withholds her heritage, and ties her hand,
And bids her live a cypher in the land—
A serf in all but mind, yet mocked with show
Of gilded chains—poor solace to her woe.
Say not “Opinion’s” force protection sheds
Around the weaker forms, and weaker heads
Of women—doth not “Law” itself proclaim
Their nullity? Compelling them to frame
A fiction and contrivance, would they hold
A portion only of their rightful gold.
Nay, even this resource no more avails,
If, after marriage, Fortune's favouring gales
Should waft them riches; for behold ! the man
Seizes the treasure, as “Law” says he can.
Nor may a woman's industry obtain
Its honourable guerdon—for again,
Her husband claims the product as his own :
And we look on, and ask “Can nought be done *
Thus, since the State directs that woman's fate
Should hang upon the “fiat” of her mate,
Slight hope that private feeling will assume
A juster tone or mitigate her doom.
Bereft of rights, she learns to wear her chain;
And seeks, by art, the mastery to gain.
Unworthy study, which a juster code
Might turn aside, or prompt to nobler good.
The want of will in man—not want of power,
Defers redemption to a distant hour.
Far distant for what eye hath seen the strong
Relieve the weak because he did them wrong
And, sad to say, the sex itself ne'er yet,
Its degradation cared to terminate: