FARE THEE WELL.
Fare thee well! and if for ever,
Still for ever fare thee well!
Even though unforgiving, never
'Gainst thee shall my heart rebel.
Would that breast were bared before thee
Where thy head so oft hath lain,
While that placid sleep came o'er thee
Which thou ne'er canst know again!
Would that breast, by thee glanced over,
Every inmost thought could show!
Then thou wouldst at last discover
'Twas not well to spurn it so.
Though the world for this commend thee,
Though it smile upon the blow,
Even its praises must offend thee,
Founded on another's woe.
Though my many faults defaced me,
Could no other arm be found,
Than the one which once embraced me,
To inflict a cureless wound?
Yet, oh! yet, thyself deceive not:
Love may sink by slow decay;
But, by sudden wrench, believe not
Hearts can thus be torn away:
Still thine own its life retaineth;
Still must mine, though bleeding, beat
And the undying thought which paineth
Is--that we no more may meet.
These are words of deeper sorrow
Than the wail above the dead:
Both shall live, but every morrow
Wake us from a widowed bed.
And when thou wouldst solace gather,
When our child's first accents flow,
Wilt thou teach her to say 'Father,'
Though his care she must forego?
When her little hand shall press thee,
When her lip to thine is pressed,
Think of him whose prayer shall bless thee;
Think of him thy love had blessed.
Should her lineaments resemble
Those thou never more mayst see,
Then thy heart will softly tremble
With a pulse yet true to me.
All my faults, perchance, thou knowest;
All my madness none can know:
All my hopes, where'er thou goest,
Wither; yet with thee they go.
Every feeling hath been shaken:
Pride, which not a world could bow,
Bows to thee, by thee forsaken;
Even my soul forsakes me now.
But 'tis done: all words are idle;
Words from me are vainer still;
But the thoughts we cannot bridle
Force their way without the will.
Fare thee well!--thus disunited,
Torn from every nearer tie,
Seared in heart, and lone and blighted,
More than this I scarce can die.
Born in the garret, in the kitchen bred;
Promoted thence to deck her mistress' head;
Next--for some gracious service unexpress'd,
And from its wages only to be guessed--
Raised from the toilette to the table, where
Her wondering betters wait behind her chair,
With eye unmoved, and forehead unabashed,
She dines from off the plate she lately washed.
Quick with the tale, and ready with the lie,
The genial confidante and general spy,
Who could, ye gods! her next employment guess?--
An only infant's earliest governess!
She taught the child to read, and taught so well,
That she herself, by teaching, learned to spell.
An adept next in penmanship she grows,
As many a nameless slander deftly shows:
What she had made the pupil of her art,
None know; but that high soul secured the heart,
And panted for the truth it could not hear,
With longing breast and undeluded ear.
Foiled was perversion by that youthful mind,
Which flattery fooled not, baseness could not blind,
Deceit infect not, near contagion soil,
Indulgence weaken, nor example spoil,
Nor mastered science tempt her to look down
On humbler talents with a pitying frown,
Nor genius swell, nor beauty render vain,
Nor envy ruffle to retaliate pain,
Nor fortune change, pride raise, nor passion bow,
Nor virtue teach austerity, till now.
Serenely purest of her sex that live;
But wanting one sweet weakness,--to forgive;
Too shocked at faults her soul can never know,
She deems that all could be like her below:
Foe to all vice, yet hardly Virtue's friend;
For Virtue pardons those she would amend.
But to the theme, now laid aside too long,--
The baleful burthen of this honest song.
Though all her former functions are no more,
She rules the circle which she served before.
If mothers--none know why--before her quake;
If daughters dread her for the mothers' sake;
If early habits--those false links, which bind
At times the loftiest to the meanest mind--
Have given her power too deeply to instil
The angry essence of her deadly will;
If like a snake she steal within your walls
Till the black slime betray her as she crawls;
If like a viper to the heart she wind,
And leave the venom there she did not find,
What marvel that this hag of hatred works
Eternal evil latent as she lurks,
To make a Pandemonium where she dwells,
And reign the Hecate of domestic hells?
Skilled by a touch to deepen scandal's tints
With all the kind mendacity of hints,
While mingling truth with falsehood, sneers with smiles,
A thread of candour with a web of wiles;
A plain blunt show of briefly-spoken seeming,
To hide her bloodless heart's soul-hardened scheming;
A lip of lies; a face formed to conceal,
And, without feeling, mock at all who feel;
With a vile mask the Gorgon would disown;
A cheek of parchment, and an eye of stone.
Mark how the channels of her yellow blood
Ooze to her skin, and stagnate there to mud!
Cased like the centipede in saffron mail,
Or darker greenness of the scorpion's scale,
(For drawn from reptiles only may we trace
Congenial colours in that soul or face,)--
Look on her features! and behold her mind
As in a mirror of itself defined.
Look on the picture! deem it not o'ercharged;
There is no trait which might not be enlarged:
Yet true to 'Nature's journeymen,' who made
This monster when their mistress left off trade,
This female dog-star of her little sky,
Where all beneath her influence droop or die.
O wretch without a tear, without a thought,
Save joy above the ruin thou hast wrought!
The time shall come, nor long remote, when thou
Shalt feel far more than thou inflictest now,--
Feel for thy vile self-loving self in vain,
And turn thee howling in unpitied pain.
May the strong curse of crushed affections light
Back on thy bosom with reflected blight,
And make thee, in thy leprosy of mind,
As loathsome to thyself as to mankind,
Till all thy self-thoughts curdle into hate
Black as thy will for others would create:
Till thy hard heart be calcined into dust,
And thy soul welter in its hideous crust!
Oh, may thy grave be sleepless as the bed,
The widowed couch of fire, that thou hast spread!
Then, when thou fain wouldst weary Heaven with prayer,
Look on thine earthly victims, and despair!
Down to the dust! and, as thou rott'st away,
Even worms shall perish on thy poisonous clay.
But for the love I bore, and still must bear,
To her thy malice from all ties would tear,
Thy name, thy human name, to every eye
The climax of all scorn, should hang on high,
Exalted o'er thy less abhorred compeers,
And festering in the infamy of years.
LINES ON HEARING THAT LADY BYRON WAS ILL.
And thou wert sad, yet I was not with thee!
And thou wert sick, and yet I was not near!
Methought that joy and health alone could be
Where I was not, and pain and sorrow here.
And is it thus? It is as I foretold,
And shall be more so; for the mind recoils
Upon itself, and the wrecked heart lies cold,
While heaviness collects the shattered spoils.
It is not in the storm nor in the strife
We feel benumbed, and wish to be no more,
But in the after-silence on the shore,
When all is lost except a little life.
I am too well avenged! But 'twas my right:
Whate'er my sins might be, thou wert not sent
To be the Nemesis who should requite;
Nor did Heaven choose so near an instrument.
Mercy is for the merciful!--if thou
Hast been of such, 'twill be accorded now.
Thy nights are banished from the realms of sleep!
Yes! they may flatter thee; but thou shalt feel
A hollow agony which will not heal;
For thou art pillowed on a curse too deep:
Thou hast sown in my sorrow, and must reap
The bitter harvest in a woe as real!
I have had many foes, but none like thee;
For 'gainst the rest myself I could defend,
And be avenged, or turn them into friend;
But thou in safe implacability
Hadst nought to dread, in thy own weakness shielded;
And in my love, which hath but too much yielded,
And spared, for thy sake, some I should not spare.
And thus upon the world,--trust in thy truth,
And the wild fame of my ungoverned youth,
On things that were not and on things that are,--
Even upon such a basis hast thou built
A monument, whose cement hath been guilt;
The moral Clytemnestra of thy lord,
And hewed down, with an unsuspected sword,
Fame, peace, and hope, and all the better life,
Which, but for this cold treason of thy heart,
Might still have risen from out the grave of strife,
And found a nobler duty than to part.
But of thy virtues didst thou make a vice,
Trafficking with them in a purpose cold,
For present anger and for future gold,
And buying others' grief at any price.
And thus, once entered into crooked ways,
The early truth, which was thy proper praise,
Did not still walk beside thee, but at times,
And with a breast unknowing its own crimes,
Deceit, averments incompatible,
Equivocations, and the thoughts which dwell
In Janus-spirits; the significant eye
Which learns to lie with silence; the pretext
Of prudence, with advantages annexed;
The acquiescence in all things which tend,
No matter how, to the desired end,--
All found a place in thy philosophy.
The means were worthy, and the end is won:
I would not do by thee as thou hast done!