Mazelli: Canto Iii
With plumes to which the dewdrops cling,
Wide waves the morn her golden wing;
With countless variegated beams
The empurpled orient glows and gleams;
A gorgeous mass of crimson clouds
The mountain's soaring summit shrouds;
Along the wave the blue mist creeps,
The towering forest trees are stirred
By the low wind that o'er them sweeps,
And with the matin song of bird,
The hum of early bee is heard,
Hailing with his shrill, tiny horn,
The coming of the bright-eyed morn;
And, with the day-beam's earliest dawn,
Her couch the fair Mazelli quits,
And gaily, fleetly as a fawn,
Along the wildwood paths she flits,
Hieing from leafy bower to bower,
Culling from each its bud and flower,
Of brightest hue and sweetest breath,
To weave them in her bridal wreath.
Now, pausing in her way, to hear
The lay of some wild warbler near,
Repaying him, in mocking tone,
With music sweeter than his own;
Now, o'er some crystal stream low bending,
Her image in its waves to see,
With its sweet, gurgled music blending,
A song of tenfold melody;
Now, chasing the gay butterfly,
That o'er her pathway passed her by,
With grace as careless, glee as wild,
As though she were some thoughtless child;
Now, seated on some wayside stone,
With time's green, messy veil o'ergrown,
In silent thoughtfulness, she seems
To hold communion with her heart,
Beguiling fancy with the dreams
That from its Pure recesses start.
There is a silent power, that o'er
Our bosoms wields a wizard might,
Restoring bygone years to light,
With the same vivid glow they wore,
Ere time had o'er their features cast
The shadowy shroud that veils the past:-
To those who walk in wisdom's way,
'Tis welcome as an angel's smile;
But those who from her counsels stray,
Whose hearts are full of craft and guile,
To them 'tis as a constant goad-
A weight that doubles Sorrow's load,-
A silent searcher of the breast,
Which will not let the guilty rest.
In childhood's pleasant -season born,
It haunts us in all after time;
From youth's serene and sunny morn
To manhood's stern meridian prime.
From manhood, till the weight of years,
And life's dull constant toil, and tears,
And passion's ever raging storm,
Have dimmed the eye and bowed the form.
True, youth, of hope and love possessed,
By friends-youth has no foes-caressed,
Finds in the present-happy boy!-
Enough of gaiety and joy;
And man, whose visionary brain
Begets that idle phantom train
Of shadows-Power, Wealth, and Fame,-
A scourge-a bubble-and a name-
So often and so vainly sought-
Has little time for peaceful thought;
And so they turn not back to gaze,
Where faithful memory displays
Her record of departed days;
But oh! how loves the eye of age,
To move along its pictured page,
To scan and number, o'er and o'er,
The joys that may return no more;
The hopes that, blighted in their bloom,
By disappointment's chilly gloom,
Were given sadly to the tomb;
The loves so wildly once enjoyed,
By time's unsparing hand destroyed;
The bright imaginative dreams,
Portrayed by restless fancy's beams,
By restless fancy's beams portrayed,
Alas! but to delude and fade!
To count these o'er and o'er again
Is age's sole resort from pain.
Then, stranger, marvel not that I
Have claimed so long thy listening ear;
I could not pass in silence by
Themes to my memory so dear,
As those which make my story's close-
Mazelli's love, Mazelli's woes.
Ascending from the golden east,
The sun had gained his zenith height,
The guests were gathered to the feast,
Prepared to grace the marriage rite;
The youthful and the old were there,
The rustic swain and bashful fair;
The aged, reverend and gray,
Yet hale, and garrulous, and gay,
Each told, to while the time away,
Some tale of his own wedding day;
The youthful, timorous and shy,
Spoke less with lip than tell-tale eye,
That, in its stolen glances, sends
The language Love best, comprehends.
The noontide hour goes by, and yet
The bridegroom tarries-why? and where?
Sure he could not his vows forget,
When she who loves him is so fair!
And then his honour, faith, and pride,
Had bound him to a meaner bride,
If once his promise had been given;
But she, so pure, so far above
The common forms of earthly mould,
So like the incarnate shapes of love,
Conceived, and born, and nursed in heaven,
His love for her could ne'er grow cold!
And yet he comes not. Half way now,
From where, at his meridian height,
He pours his fullest, warmest light,
To where, at eve, in his decline,
The day-god sinks into the brine,
When his diurnal task is done,
Descends his ever burning throne,
And still the bridegroom is not, there-
Say, why yet tarries he, and where?
Within an arbour, rudely reared,
But to the maiden's heart endeared
By every tie that binds the heart,
By hope's, and love's, and memory's art,-
For it was here he first poured out
In words, the love she could not doubt,-
Mazelli silent sits apart.
Did ever dreaming devotee,
Whose restless fancy, fond and warm,
Shapes out the bright ideal form
To which he meekly bends the knee,
Conceive of aught so fair as she?
The holiest seraph of the sphere
Most holy, if by chance led here,
Might drink such light from those soft eyes,
That he would hold them far more dear
Than all the treasures of the skies.
Yet o'er her bright and beauteous brow
Shade after shade is passing now,
Like clouds across the pale moon glancing,
As thought on rapid thought advancing,
Thrills through the maiden's trembling breast,
Not doubting, and yet not at rest.
Not doubting! Man may turn away
And scoff at shrines, where yesterday
He knelt, in earnest faith, to pray,
And wealth may lose its charm for him,
And fame's alluring star grow dim,
Devotion, avarice, glory, all
The pageantries of earth may pall;
But love is of a higher birth
Than these, the earth-born things of earth,-
A spark from the eternal flame,
Like it, eternally the same,
It is not subject to the breath
Of chance or change, of life or death.
And so doubt has no power to blight
Its bloom, or quench its deathless light,-
A deathless light, a peerless bloom,
That beams and glows beyond the tomb!
Go tell the trusting devotee,
His worship is idolatry;
Say to the searcher after gold,
The prize he seeks is dull and cold;
Assure the toiler after fame,
That, won, 'tis but a worthless name,
A mocking shade, a phantasy,-
And they, perchance, may list to thee;
But say not to the trusting maid,
Her love is scorned, her faith betrayed,-
As soon thy words may lull the gale,
As gain her credence to the tale!
And still the bridegroom is not there-
Oh! why yet tarries he, and where?
It was the holy vesper hour,
The time for rest, and peace, and prayer,
When falls the dew, and folds the flower
Its petals, delicate and fair,
Against the chilly evening air;
And yet the bridegroom was not there.
The guests, who lingered through the day,
Had glided, one by one, away,
And then, with pale and pensive ray,
The moon began to climb the sky,
As from the forest, dim and green,
A small and silent band was seen
Emerging slow and solemnly;
With cautious step, and measured tread,
They moved as those who bear the dead;
And by no lip a word was spoke,
Nor other sound the silence broke,
Save when, low, musical, and clear,
The voice of waters passing near,
Was softly wafted to the ear,
And the cool, fanning twilight breeze,
That lightly shook the forest trees,
And crept from leaf to trembling leaf,
Sighed, like to one oppressed with grief.
Why move they with such cautious care?
What precious burden do they bear?
Hush, questioner! the dead are there;-
The victim of revenge and hate,
Of fierce Ottali's fiery pride,
With that stern minister of fate,
As cold and lifeless by his side.
Still onward, solemnly and slow,
And speaking not a word, they go,
Till pausing in their way before
Mazelli's quiet cottage door,
They gently lay their burden down.
Whence comes that shriek of wild despair
That rises wildly on the air?
Whose is the arm so fondly thrown
Around the cold, unconscious clay,
That cannot its caress repay?
Such wordless wo was in that cry,
Such pain, such hopeless agony,
No soul, excluded from the sky,
Whom unrelenting justice hath
Condemned to bear the second death,
E'er breathed upon the troubled gale
A wilder or a sadder wail;-
It rose, all other sounds above,
The dirge of peace, and hope, and love!
And day on weary day went by,
And like the drooping autumn leaf,
She faded slow and silently,
In her deep, uncomplaining grief;
For, sick of life's vacuity,
She neither sought nor wished relief.
And daily from her cheek, the glow
Departed, and her virgin brow
Was curtained with a mournful gloom,-
A shade prophetic, of the tomb;
And her clear eyes, so blue and bright,
Shot forth a keen, unearthly light,
As if the soul that in them lay,
Were weary of its garb of clay,
And prayed to pass from earth away;
Nor was that prayer vain, for ere
The frozen monarch of the year,
Had blighted, with his icy breath,
A single bud in summer's wreath,
They shrouded her, and made her grave,
And laid her down at Lodolph's side;
And by the wide Potomac's wave,
Repose the bridegroom and the bride.
'Tis said, that, oft at summer midnight, there,
When all is hushed and voiceless, and the air,
Sweet, soothing minstrel of the viewless hand,
Swells rippling through the aged trees, that stand
With their broad boughs above the wave depending,
With the low gurgle of the waters blending
The rustle of their foliage, a light boat,
Bearing two shadowy forms, is seen to float
Adown the stream, without or oar or sail,
To break the wave, or catch the driving gale;
Smoothly and steadily its course is steered,
Until the shadow of yon cliff is neared,
And then, as if some barrier, hid below
The river's breast, had caught its gliding prow,
Awhile, uncertain, o'er its watery bed,
It hangs, then vanishes, and in its stead,
A wan, pale light burns dimly o'er the, wave
That rolls and ripples by Mazelli's grave.
George W. Sands
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