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'Oh! if thou lov'st me, love me not so well!'

'Oh! if thou lov'st me, love me not so well!'

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202



A CENTURY OF SONNETS



So, night by night, her vigil hath she kept

With the pale stars, and with the dews hath wept;—

Oh! surely some bright Presence from above

On those wild rocks the lonely one must aid!—

E'en so; a strengthener through all storm and shade,

The unconquerable Angel, mightiest Love!

(1834)

410. Mary at the Feet of Christ

Oh! blest beyond all daughters of the earth!

What were the Orient's thrones to that low seat,

Where thy hushed spirit drew celestial birth?

Mary! meek listener at the Savior's feet!

No feverish cares to that divine retreat

Thy woman's heart of silent worship brought,

But a fresh childhood, heavenly truth to meet,

With love, and wonder, and submissive thought.

Oh! for the holy quiet of thy breast,

Midst the world's eager tones and footsteps flying!

Thou, whose calm soul was like a wellspring, lying

So deep and still in its transparent rest,

That e'en when noontide burns upon the hills,

Some one bright solemn star all its lone mirror fills.

(1834)

411. The Memorial of Mary

Verily I say unto you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached

in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath

done, be told for a memorial of her.

MATTHEW, 26.13.—SEE ALSO JOHN, 12.3.

Thou hast thy record in the monarch's hall;

And on the waters of the far mid sea;

And where the mighty mountain-shadows fall,

The alpine hamlet keeps a thought of thee:

Where'er, beneath some Oriental tree,

The Christian traveler rests—where'er the child

Looks upward from the English mother's knee,

With earnest eyes in wondering reverence mild,

There art thou known—where'er the Book of Light

Bears hope and healing, there, beyond all blight,

Is borne thy memory, and all praise above:

Oh! say what deed so lifted thy sweet name,

Mary! to that pure silent place of fame?

One lowly ofFering of exceeding love.

(1834)



A CENTURY OF SONNETS



203



412. Mountain Sanctuaries

He went up to a mountain apart to pray.

A child midst ancient mountains I have stood,

Where the wild falcons make their lordly nest

On high. The spirit of the solitude

Fell solemnly upon my infant breast,

Though then I prayed not; but deep thoughts have pressed

Into my being since it breathed that air,

Nor could I now one moment live the guest

Of such dread scenes, without the springs of prayer

O'erflowing all my soul. No minsters rise

Like them in pure communion with the skies,

Vast, silent, open unto night and day;

So might the o'erburderned Son of man have felt,

When, turning where inviolate stillness dwelt,

He sought high mountains, there apart to pray.

(1834)

413. The Olive Tree

The Palm—the Vine—the Cedar—each hath power

To bid fair Oriental shapes glance by,

And each quick glistening of the Laurel bower

Wafts Grecian images o'er fancy's eye.

But thou, pale Olive!—in thy branches lie

Far deeper spells than prophet-grove of old

Might e'er enshrine:—I could not hear thee sigh

To the wind's faintest whisper, nor behold

One shiver of thy leaves' dim silvery green,

Without high thoughts and solemn, of that scene

When, in the garden, the Redeemer prayed—

When pale stars looked upon his fainting head,

And angels, ministering in silent dread,

Trembled, perchance, within thy trembling shade.

(1834)

414. A Remembrance of Grasmere

O vale and lake, within your mountain-urn

Smiling so tranquilly, and set so deep!

Oft doth your dreamy loveliness return,

Coloring the tender shadows of my sleep

With light Elysian:—for the hues that steep

Your shores in melting luster, seem to float

On golden clouds from spirit-lands remote,

Isles of the blest;—and in our memory keep



204



A CENTURY OF SONNETS



Their place with holiest harmonies:—Fair scene,

Most loved by evening and her dewy star!

Oh! ne'er may man, with touch unhallowed, jar

The perfect music of the charm serene!

Still, still unchanged, may one sweet region wear

Smiles that subdue the soul to love, and tears, and prayer!

(1836)

415. Foliage

Come forth, and let us through our hearts receive

The joy of verdure!—see, the honeyed lime

Showers cool green light o'er banks where wild-flowers weave

Thick tapestry; and woodbine tendrils climb

Up the brown oak from buds of moss and thyme.

The rich deep masses of the sycamore

Hang heavy with the fullness of their prime,

And the while poplar, from its foliage hoar,

Scatters forth gleams like moonlight, with each gale

That sweeps the boughs:—the chestnut flowers are past,

The crowning glories of the hawthorn fail,

But arches of sweet eglantine are cast

From every hedge:—Oh! never may we lose

Dear friend! our fresh delight in simplest nature's hues!

(1836)



Caroline Norton

(1808-77)

Best known today as a political reformer who played a crucial role in influencing the passage through Parliament of the Infants' Custody Bill (1839)

and the Marriage and Divorce Act of 1857, Caroline Norton was also recognized in her own time as a poet, a fiction writer, an essayist, an editor, and a

fashionable celebrity at the center of a major political scandal involving

the prime minister, Lord Melbourne. Her books of poetry included The Sorrows of Rosalie: A Tale, with Other Poems, published anonymously in 1829,

The Undying One (1830), A Voice from the Factories (1836), and Child of the

Islands (1845). In the early 1830s, she earned as much as 1400 pounds a year

publishing in the annuals and editing gift books.

416. 'In the cold change, which time hath wrought on love'

In the cold change, which time hath wrought on love

(The snowy winter of his summer prime),

Should a chance sigh, or sudden tear-drop, move

Thy heart to memory of the olden time;

Turn not to gaze on me with pitying eyes,



A CENTURY OF SONNETS



205



Nor mock me with a withered hope renewed;

But from the bower we both have loved, arise,

And leave me to my barren solitude!

What boots it that a momentary flame

Shoots from the ashes of a dying fire?

We gaze upon the hearth from whence it came,

And know the exhausted embers must expire:

Therefore no pity, or my heart will break;

Be cold, be careless—for thy past love's sake!

(1836)



417. 'Like an enfranchised bird, who wildly springs'

Like an enfranchised bird, who wildly springs,

With a keen sparkle in his glancing eye

And a strong effort in his quivering wings,

Up to the blue vault of the happy sky,—

So my enamored heart, so long thine own,

At length from Love's imprisonment set free,

Goes forth into the open world alone,

Glad and exulting in its liberty:

But like that helpless bird, (confined so long,

His weary wings have lost all power to soar,)

Who soon forgets to trill his joyous song,

And, feebly fluttering, sinks to earth once more,—

So, from its former bonds released in vain,

My heart still feels the weight of that remembered chain.

(1840)



418. To My Books

Silent companions of the lonely hour,

Friends, who can never alter or forsake,

Who for inconstant roving have no power,

And all neglect, perforce, must calmly take,—

Let me return to you; this turmoil ending

Which worldly cares have in my spirit wrought,

And, o'er your old familiar pages bending,

Refresh my mind with many a tranquil thought:

Till, haply meeting there, from time to time,

Fancies, the audible echo of my own,

'Twill be like hearing in a foreign clime

My native language spoke in friendly tone,

And with a sort of welcome I shall dwell

On these, my unripe musings, told so well.

(1840)



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