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'As when with downcast eyes we muse and brood'
A CENTURY OF SONNETS
the New Monthly Magazine, printed some of her translations of Petrarch s sonnets. She was a prolific contributor to the giftbooks and annuals, especially to
the Keepsake, the Forget-Me-Not, and Friendship's Offering. She brought out a
metrical romance Worcester Field in 1826 and The Seven Ages of Woman the following year. But she became most well known as a historian after publishing,
from 1840 to 1848, with Elizabeth, the Lives of the Queens of England; this
twelve-volume set was followed by several other major historical works, all of
which showed strong Stuart partisanship.
393. The Self-Devoted
She hath forsaken courtly halls and bowers
For his dear sake:—ay, cheerfully resigned
Country and friends for him, and hath entwined
Her fate with his in dark and stormy hours,
As the fond ivy clings to ruined towers
With generous love; and never hath inclined
Round gilded domes and palaces to wind,
Or flung her wintry wreath midst summer flowers.
Her cheek is pale—it hath grown pale for him;
Her all of earthly joy, her heaven below—
He fades before her—fades in want and woe;
She sees his lamp of life wax faint and dim,
Essays to act the Roman matron's part,
And veils with patient smiles a breaking heart.
394. The Forsaken
The bloom of youth had faded from her face,
And left her features tintless as the pale
New fallen blossoms, which the chilling gale
Of March has rudely scattered; every trace
Of joy had fled, and well, in touching grace,
Resembled she some lily of the vale,
Plucked and then left to perish—such the tale
Of her, in whose torn heart hope found no place.
The smiling luster of her eyes was flown
Or dimmed with weeping—but she wept not now—
The fount of tears had failed; her grief alone
Spoke in her sunken cheek and pensive brow,
And every sad expression that might well
A broken heart and early grave foretell.
A CENTURY OF SONNETS
395. The Maniac
Sweet summer flowers were braided in her hair,
As if in mockery of the burning brow
Round which they drooped and withered—singing now
Strains of wild mirth, and now of vain despair,
Came the poor wreck of all that once was fair,
And rich in high endowments, ere deep woe
Like a dark cloud came o'er her, and laid low
Reason's proud fane, and left no brightness there.
Yet you might deem that grief was with the rest
Of all her cares forgotten, save when songs
And tales she heard of faithful love unblessed,
Of man's deceit, and trusting maiden's wrongs.
Then, and then only, in her lifted eyes,
Remembrance beamed, and tears would slowly rise.
396. The Infant
I saw an infant—health, and joy, and light
Bloomed on its cheek and sparkled in its eye;
And its fond mother stood delighted by,
To see its morn of being dawn so bright.
Again I saw it, when the withering blight
Of pale disease had fallen, moaning lie
On that sad mother's breast—stern Death was nigh,
And Life's young wings were fluttering for their flight.
Last, I beheld it stretched upon the bier,
Like a fair flower untimely snatched away,
Calm and unconscious of its mother's tear,
Which on its placid cheek unheeded lay;
But on its lip the unearthly smile expressed,
"Oh! happy child! untried and early blessed!"
Frederick Tennyson assisted his brothers, Charles and Alfred, with the publication of their Poems by Two Brothers by silently contributing three or four
poems. He wrote in both Greek and English, and his poetry reveals an interest in classical subjects. Days and Hours (1854) was well received by some, but
others unfairly compared his work to that of his more famous brother. He
had an interest in spiritualism and the paranormal and was a friend of Robert
and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
A CENTURY OF SONNETS
397. Poetical Happiness
There is a fountain, to whose flowery side
By diverse ways the children of the earth
Turn day and night athirst, to measure forth
Its sweet pure waters—health, and wealth, and pride,
Power clad in arms, and wisdom Argus-eyed.
But one apart from all is seen to stand,
And take up in the hollow of his hand
What to their golden vessels is denied;
Baffling their utmost reach. He, born and nursed
In the glad sound and freshness of that place,
Drinks momently its dews, and feels no thirst:
While from his bowered grot, or sunny space,
He sorrows for that troop, as it returns
Through the wide wilderness with empty urns!
Hartley Coleridge had a strained relationship with his father, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who named him after the associationist philosopher David
Hartley (1705—57). As a child, he was precocious and imaginative, but
William Wordsworth's poem "To H. C, Six Years Old" expresses an anxiety
for him that proved ail-too prophetic. As an adult poet, his favorite form
was the sonnet, and his sonnets were greatly admired during his lifetime.
Serious literary success, nonetheless, eluded him, primarily because of alcoholism and an insecurity derived in part from being his father's son.
398. 'Long time a child, and still a child'
Long time a child, and still a child, when years
Had painted manhood on my cheek, was I;
For yet I lived like one not born to die;
A thriftless prodigal of smiles and tears,
No hope I needed, and I knew no fears.
But sleep, though sweet, is only sleep, and waking,
I waked to sleep no more, at once o'ertaking
The vanguard of my age, with all arrears
Of duty on my back. Nor child, nor man,
Nor youth, nor sage, I find my head is gray,
For I have lost the race I never ran,
A rathe December blights my lagging May;
And still I am a child, though I be old,
Time is my debtor for my years untold.
A CENTURY OF SONNETS
399. Dedicatory Sonnet, To S. T. Coleridge
Father, and Bard revered! to whom I owe,
Whate'er it be, my little art of numbers,
Thou, in thy night-watch o'er my cradled slumbers,
Didst meditate the verse that lives to show,
(And long shall live, when we alike are low)
Thy prayer how ardent, and thy hope how strong,
That I should learn of Nature's self the song,
The lore which none but Nature's pupils know.
The prayer was heard: I "wandered like a breeze,"
By mountain brooks and solitary meres,
And gathered there the shapes and fantasies
Which, mixed with passions of my sadder years,
Compose this book. If good therein there be,
That good, my sire, I dedicate to thee.
400. To a Friend
When we were idlers with the loitering rills,
The need of human love we little noted:
Our love was nature; and the peace that floated
On the white mist, and dwelt upon the hills,
To sweet accord subdued our wayward wills:
One soul was ours, one mind, one heart devoted,
That, wisely doting, asked not why it doted,
And ours the unknown joy, which knowing kills.
But now I find, how dear thou wert to me;
That man is more than half of nature's treasure,
Of that fair beauty which no eye can see,
Of that sweet music which no ear can measure;
And now the streams may sing for others' pleasure,
The hills sleep on in their eternity.
401. 'Is love a fancy, or a feeling?'
Is love a fancy, or a feeling? No,
It is immortal as immaculate Truth.
'Tis not a blossom, shed as soon as youth
Drops from the stem of life—for it will grow
In barren regions, where no waters flow,
Nor ray of promise cheats the pensive gloom.
A darkling fire, faint hovering o'er a tomb,
That but itself and darkness nought doth show,
Is my love's being,—yet it cannot die,