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Poems and Translations

Imitations on Various Styles of Poetry

A Persian Dirge

 Sleep, gentle Bard! around thy bed
Let Shirauz’ balmy flow’rs entwine;
 For thee her perfum’d lap shall spread,
Her richest gifts shall still be thin!
 The tow’ring fir, the date-crown’d palm
Shall here unite their sov’reign shade,
 While melting rocks distil their balm
To bathe the tomb where thou art laid!
CHORUS. Lah Illah! Ill Lillah!

 Here let the heart dissolv’d in joy
Its warm, luxuriant tribute leave;
 Such tears as gem the love-taught eye
Let Hafez’[1] sacred dust receive.
 But here no prostituted band
Shall wound with yells his native skies;
 No tutor’d tear, no purchas’d hand[2]
Profanes the grave where Hafez lies.
 For him let richer gifts abound,
No sullen homage here prepare;
 Pleas’d may his spirit linger round,
And still its best-lov’d banquet share.
 Bring myrrh, the silver grape[3] invade,
Enrich with sweets his long repose;
 Let olive-wreaths his pillow shade,
Or steep’d in wine, the saffron rose.
 And blue-eyed nymphs, Circasia’s pride
Shall here their treasure’d charms unfold;
 Their feet in purer purple dy’d,
Their tresses bright with liquid gold.
 No lurking Gaur’s[4] unhallow’d fire
Shall Shirauz’ envied vale affright;
 The partial sun shall here retire,
And kiss thy grave with soften’d light.
CHORUS. Sleep, gentle Bard, &c.


An Hungarian Gipsy’s Song


From Presburg’s plain, from Buda’s tow’rs,
 From old Carpathia’s mountains drear,
To bounteous halls and fruitful bow’rs
 We chartered libertines repair.[5]
Here by the Danube’s silent wave,
Or ’mid the shades of Szelitz’ cave,
 Our ample feast we share:
And round the bowl with fearless glee,
 Rejoice in love and liberty.


And oft the Vaivod’s fur-clad dame
 Soft-smiling thro’ her azure veil,
In whispers tells some cherished name,
 And fondly hears our mystic tale:
While where the honied chesnut dwells,
Or where the melting melon swells
 In Temeswara’s dale,
We fill the bowl with fearless glee,
 And sing of love and liberty.


And when o’er Torna’s[6] saffron fields
 Our chiefs the flying elk pursue,
The prize a richer banquet yields
 Than Ban or Pandour[7] ever knew;
Then where the herb of wisdom[8] glows,
Or where Tokayan nectar flows,
 We bid our cares adieu;
While round the bowl with fearless glee
 We sing of love and liberty.


Now tho’ in Alpine wood no more
 Our lawless revelry we hide;
Tho’ chas’d from Elba’s envied shore
 By Saxon wealth and Saxon pride,
Still o’er this gem-fraught mountain’s head,
Or to yon river’s golden bed[9]
 Our weary feet we guide;
Then round the bowl with fearless glee,
 We sing of love and liberty!

A Savoyard’s Tale

Where shall an orphan find shelter and rest?
Keen blows the death-wind—the ’larum has toll’d![10]
Faint—and still fainter it sinks in the west—
Nought but the torrent of snow I behold!

My home and my kindred!—in ruins ye lie—
No pity, no blessing my toil shall repay:
Some pilgrim shall gaze on my corse with a sigh
And give a low grave to the mouldering clay.

Sweet, sweet was our cot in the cleft of a rock,
Once bright were our fields in the summer-sun’s glow;
When down the steep valley I guided my flock,
How soft was the pipe in the vineyard below!

Ah! never again at his ivy-fring’d door
The smile of her father shall Madeline see—
The pipe in the vineyard delights me no more;
No mother’s glad welcome is waiting for me!

Loud howls the storm while unheeded she weeps—
Dark is the night in her dwelling of woe,
While by the dim embers her vigil she keeps,
And envies the grave where my brothers lie low.

Poor infant! no more for thy Father provide
Fresh flow’rs and soft woodmoss to pillow his head!
Cold—cold, and for ever, he sleeps by my side—
The snows of wild Cenis shall cover our bed!

Take, now, the last warmth which my bosoms supplies—
The fiend of destruction rides swift thro’ the air!
To heav’n and its angels my sad spirit flies—
My child and my Lubin shall welcome me there!


A Spanish Serenade

Cervantes to His Mistress [11]

Believe not, Fortune’s dire controul
 Thy soldier’s hope repels!
No treasure can enrich the soul
 Where Ina’s image dwells!
Undaunted, to an adverse clime
 I see my wealth consign’d,
Secure in Ina’s azure eye
 A gentler Heav’n to find!
But ruthless pain and meagre Care
 My faded cheek consume,
While still in thine, unchang’d and fair,
 Life’s earliest roses bloom.
Scarce o’er this bent and mangled frame
 Twice twenty years have fled,
Yet see! these silver locks proclaim
 Its vital heat is dead.
And shall a selfish sufferer cloud
 They brightly op’ning day?
Or tempt thee to the drear abode
 Where Death awaits his prey?
No, Ina! tho’ did age alone
 Obscure its spark divine,
Near thee my soul would age disown,
 And borrow youth from thin.
Yet let me whilst on earth I toil,
 In richest blessings share;
Still greet me with angel’s smile,
 A guardian angel’s care:
And when no more thy guardian art
 My ling’ring breath detains,
Know, Death alone subdues the heart
 Where Ina’s image reigns!

The Reply

 They told thee true—this selfish breast,
 Still for thy perish’d treasure sighs;
 The wealth thy bounteous spirit blest
 Had beauty in thy Ina’s eyes:
Her proud heart lov’d to learn how well
Wisdom with pow’r and wealth could dwell.

 They ask thee why no balmy tear
 Thy ruin from my pity gain’d?
 No ruin to thy soul was near
 Thy soul is better wealth retain’d:
Short pity to thy pain I gave,
For pain is glory to the Brave.

 Yet asks thy friendship why we part?
 In absence holy friendship lives:
 Can Ina’s smiles delight thy heart?
 Their charm her transient absence gives:
Yet blest that transient charm I deem
Which lends thine eye a brighter gleam.

 If in my cheek its roses bloom,
 If still those envied smiles I keep,
 Ah! blame it not—thy op’ning tomb
 I see, but cannot learn to weep;
Thy tomb shall be a sacred seat
When Hope and Peace and Honour meet!



From the Portuguese of Camoens

“Just like Love is yonder Rose,
All around it incense throws,
Yet in the midst of thorns it glows,
          Just like Love.”

If lawless hands its bud invade,
Or tear it from its native shade
Its sweets are lost, its beauties fade,
          Just like Love.

Awhile to lawless hands a prize
It lives, the sport of vulgar eyes,
Then to the dust descends and dies,
          Just like Love.

But oft in ripen’d Beauty drest
It blushes in the tender breast,
A brief, yet sweet and welcome guest,
          Just like Love.

Form’d but to flourish for a day
Its sweets are rich, its beauties gay,
But unrememb’d shrink away
          Just like Love.

Frail offspring of Life’s summer morn,
Its smiles the frolic hour adorn,
Yet leave behind a rankling thorn
          Just like Love!



In Imitation of Petrarch

Far from these glitt’ring domes, Florentia’s pride,
To thee, Vaucluse! my faithful Fancy strays;
And ’midst the windings of thy silent tide,
Seeks the lov’d relics of departed days.
There still with sighs of fond regret I trace
The blissful moment when my Fancy’s queen,
Whose voice was melody, whose step was grace,
Spread more than Nature’s beauty o’er the scene.
For oft to thee her gentle smile she gave
When gay in Health and Beauty’s richest bloom,
She hail’d thy zephyrs; while thy envied wave
Met her pure lip, now mould’ring in the tomb.
Ah! long and often shall thy poets tell
Once on these lowly banks and Angel deign’d to dwell!


Marino’s Madrigal

In Reply to the First Idyl of Moschus

Ah, Venus! has thy wanton boy
Dared from that genial breast to roam?
Shall he who leads the wanderer home
Thy lips’ ambrosial touch enjoy?
Bland Goddess! bid thy cares depart;
No more his frolic steps pursue,
To me the promis’d kiss is due,
I found him in my heart.


Portrait d'une Francoise

Travestied Impromptu

Love, begin a portrait new!
’Twill be beauteous if ’tis true:
Dip the brush, the colours place,
In my heart the model trace.

First with art her tresses bind
Round a diadem entwin’d;
Leave them floating, if you will,
Negligence becomes them still.

Place beneath an eye serene,
Seldom—no, sometimes too keen;
Gentle and severe by turns,
Now it freezes, now it burns.

Of her sweet and tender smiles
Picture all the secret wiles;
All they promise and require—
Let me paint what they inspire.

On her lips the rose excelling,
Paint enamour’d zephyr dwelling;
When those balmy lips divide,
Pearls among the roses hide.

Well those lips deserve thy care,
Love himself grows constant there;
Now the baffled pencil drop—
Kiss thy masterpiece and stop.


Madrigal on a Rosebud [12]


In Youth and Beauty’s earliest day
Thy image, Charlotte, I display!
 Smile then, and new existence lend,
Enthrone me on thy bosom fair;
 Tho’ to oblivion I descend,
 ’Tis heav’n to reign an instant there.
Let Kings my destiny revere—
How blest to die when heav’n is near!


The Soldier’s Return or The Midnight Wanderers [13]

The Soldier

What taper lends its dying gleam,
 Thro’ yonder casement low?
And who is she by Leven’s stream
 Whose footsteps print the snow?

JESSIE—Ere sin’ the dewfall of the night
 Yon blinking lamp I bore,
To seek a father auld and blind,
 And guide him o’er the moor.

SOLD.—A kirk-yard turf, a nameless stane,
 Maun soon thy father hide;
Then leave him, Jessie, and be mine,
 A wealthy soldier’s bride.
If never meant to cherish luve
 That smile would no be thine;
Those eyes would be less bright and clear,
 If never meant to shine.

JESSIE—O never in my father’s cot
 Shall sorrow dim my e’e,
Nor ever shall thy proffer’d love
 Allow a smile frae me.
My tears I shed in yon kirk-yard
 Beside my mother’s stane;
My smiles I keep to chear our board,
 And soothe a father’s pain.

SOLD.—Yet turn, my Jessie, turn and smile,
 Thy waefu’ task resign;
His prop may be thy brother’s luve,
 But thine maun a’ be mine.

JESSIE—Cauld is my brother Arthur’s luve;
 Twice ten lang years are gane,
Sin’ pierced wi’ mony a ghastly wound,
They found him ’mong the slain.

SOLD.—If Arthur’s luve, now dead wi’ him,
 Sic saft regret can claim,
They kindest smiles should chear the heart
 Which feeds a living flame.

JESSIE—Far mair, kind soger, mair than a’,
 That boasted wealth I’d gi’e,
For one ray of the morning light
 To chear my father’s e’e.
Far mair I’d gie to guard the turf
 That laps my brother’s head,
Far mair I’d gie to bless the hand
 That smooth’d his dying bed.

SOLD.—And can a brother lost sae lang
To Jessie still be dear?
Then lift again that tender eye,
Behold thy brother here!

JESSIE—O mock an e’e unwet wi’ tears,
 A blither heart beguile,
That raven’s voice can no be his,
 Nor his that ghastly smile.
It could na’ be that chilling grasp,
 His hand wad gi’ to mine,
It could na be in Arthur’s e’e
 That sickly joy wad shine.

SOLD.—Unseen maun be the tender joy
 Which melts a soldier’s eyes,
The gentle grasp, the saft caress
 A soldier’s hand denies.
Yet still the warmth these hands refuse,
 In Arthur’s bosom dwells,
And still his deeds shall crown the bliss
 His eye no longer tells.
Around that chill’d and breaking heart
 Life’s saftest bands shall twine;
Thy cares have sooth’d a father’s waes,
 I live to finish thine!


An Ancient Minstrel’s Lay

The Hermit of Cilgarran [14]

Tremblinge from his lonelie bed,
Up the sainted Hermyte sprung—
Thro’ his cave the lightninge sped,
Wild and wondrous musicke rang!
“Demon of the dismal nighte,
Is’t thy warninge voice I heare?
Dimlie burns the taper’s light—
Spirits of the dead are neare!”
Round his neck, a downie arm
White as Snowdon’s lily, wreath’d;
Smilinge sweete, an angel form
In his ear a whisper breath’d.
“Hermyte, wake and follow me!
Lo, what treasures tempt thy hande!
Fathom deep beneathe the sea,
Hid amonge its silver sande.
There in cups of pearl we pour
Honey’d streams of amber wine;
Come and share the shining store,
Hermyte, listen and be mine!”
“Syren, spare a Hermyte’s rest!
Calmlie let his lampe expire;
Soon, too soon, the wither’d breast
Kindles with destroyinge fire.
Would’st thou still to joy invite?
First these silver hairs remove;
Would’st thou lead me to delighte?
Give me back the age of love!”
“Hermyte, caste thy cares away!
Dying lampes shoulde brightest burn;
Silver hairs are Wisdom’s pride,
Hope and joy from Wisdom learn.
Why, if man was form’d for woe,
Is the eye of Heav’n so brighte?
Why was Beautie seen below?
Why is Nature cloth’d in light?
Quit with me thy dreary cell!
Joy in everie season glows;
Aged oaks with myrtles dwell,
Hoary moss adorns the rose.
Thro’ Cilgarran’s rugged breast
Bright and gentle rivers roll;
Flow’rs yon reverende shrine invest,
Flames embrace the frozen pole.”
Thrice he linger’d—thrice he sigh’d,
Thrice the syren urg’d her pray’r;—
Deep she plung’d him in the tide,
Then return’d to emptie air.
Round Cilgarran’s silent cave
Still deludinge phantoms fly:
Still amidst the stormy wave
Wanderinge shepherds hear his cry!

  1. Hafez, the Anacreon of Persia, lies buried in the delicious vale of Shirauz, where the young and gay constantly assemble. 
  2. It is the custom in Persia to hire mourners, who make loud lamentations. 
  3. The palm, remarkable for bearing dates on its summit; the white grape and yellow rose are highly esteemed in Persia. 
  4. The Gaurs, or fire-worshippers, though strictly forbidden, sometimes continue their orgies in this spot. 
  5. Gipsies, so numerous in Europe for almost 400 years, are now scarcely seen except in Hungary. From Saxony and the Alpine regions, they have been expelled by special edicts. Grellman's Dissertation on the Gipsies. 
  6. A fertile district in Upper or Northern Hungary at the feet of the Carpathian hills, and not far from the celebrated cave of Szelitz, and the vineyards of Tokay. 
  7. Titles of German nobility. 
  8. Tobacco, which abounds there. 
  9. Gold mines and precious stones are frequent among the Carpathian mountains. 
  10. The monks of Mount Cenis ring an alarm bell to warn travellers of the approach of the torment or Death-wind. 
  11. Cervantes, after the wreck of his property, and a long imprisonment, entered the army as a common soldier, and died neglected. Though an exquisite humourist, he was a sentimental lover. 
  12. The imitator has taken the liberty of adding three lines to render this madrigal more appropriate to a young and amiable Princess. 
  13. Written in Scotland, at twelve years of age. 
  14. From tradition.