Fragment: Supposed to be an Epithalamium of Francis Ravaillac
and Charlotte Corday
'Tis midnight now—athwart the murky air,
Dank lurid meteors shoot a livid gleam;
From the dark storm-clouds flashes a fearful glare,
It shows the bending oak, the roaring stream.
I pondered on the woes of lost mankind,
I pondered on the ceaseless rage of Kings;
My rapt soul dwelt upon the ties that bind
The mazy volume of commingling things,
When fell and wild misrule to man stern sorrow brings.
I heard a yell—it was not the knell,
When the blasts on the wild lake sleep,
That floats on the pause of the summer gale's swell,
O'er the breast of the waveless deep.
I thought it had been death's accents cold
That bade me recline on the shore;
I laid mine hot head on the surge-beaten mould,
And thought to breathe no more.
But a heavenly sleep
That did suddenly steep
In balm my bosom's pain,
Pervaded my soul,
And free from control,
Did mine intellect range again.
Methought enthroned upon a silvery cloud,
Which floated mid a strange and brilliant light;
My form upborne by viewless aether rode,
And spurned the lessening realms of earthly night.
What heavenly notes burst on my ravished ears,
What beauteous spirits met my dazzled eye!
Hark! louder swells the music of the spheres,
More clear the forms of speechless bliss float by,
And heavenly gestures suit aethereal melody.
But fairer than the spirits of the air,
More graceful than the Sylph of symmetry,
Than the enthusiast's fancied love more fair,
Were the bright forms that swept the azure sky.
Enthroned in roseate light, a heavenly band
Strewed flowers of bliss that never fade away;
They welcome virtue to its native land,
And songs of triumph greet the joyous day
When endless bliss the woes of fleeting life repay.
Congenial minds will seek their kindred soul,
E'en though the tide of time has rolled between;
They mock weak matter's impotent control,
And seek of endless life the eternal scene.
At death's vain summons THIS will never die,
In Nature's chaos THIS will not decay—
These are the bands which closely, warmly, tie
Thy soul, O Charlotte, 'yond this chain of clay,
To him who thine must be till time shall fade away.
Yes, Francis! thine was the dear knife that tore
A tyrant's heart-strings from his guilty breast,
Thine was the daring at a tyrant's gore,
To smile in triumph, to contemn the rest;
And thine, loved glory of thy sex! to tear
From its base shrine a despot's haughty soul,
To laugh at sorrow in secure despair,
To mock, with smiles, life's lingering control,
And triumph mid the griefs that round thy fate did roll.
Yes! the fierce spirits of the avenging deep
With endless tortures goad their guilty shades.
I see the lank and ghastly spectres sweep
Along the burning length of yon arcades;
And I see Satan stalk athwart the plain;
He hastes along the burning soil of Hell.
'Welcome, ye despots, to my dark domain,
With maddening joy mine anguished senses swell
To welcome to their home the friends I love so well.'
Hark! to those notes, how sweet, how thrilling sweet
They echo to the sound of angels' feet.
Oh haste to the bower where roses are spread,
For there is prepared thy nuptial bed.
Oh haste—hark! hark!—they're gone.
CHORUS OF SPIRITS:
Stay, ye days of contentment and joy,
Whilst love every care is erasing,
Stay ye pleasures that never can cloy,
And ye spirits that can never cease pleasing.
And if any soft passion be near,
Which mortals, frail mortals, can know,
Let love shed on the bosom a tear,
And dissolve the chill ice-drop of woe.
'Soft, my dearest angel, stay,
Oh! you suck my soul away;
Suck on, suck on, I glow, I glow!
Tides of maddening passion roll,
And streams of rapture drown my soul.
Now give me one more billing kiss,
Let your lips now repeat the bliss,
Endless kisses steal my breath,
No life can equal such a death.'
'Oh! yes I will kiss thine eyes so fair,
And I will clasp thy form;
Serene is the breath of the balmy air,
But I think, love, thou feelest me warm
And I will recline on thy marble neck
Till I mingle into thee;
And I will kiss the rose on thy cheek,
And thou shalt give kisses to me.
For here is no morn to flout our delight,
Oh! dost thou not joy at this?
And here we may lie an endless night,
A long, long night of bliss.'
Spirits! when raptures move,
Say what it is to love,
When passion's tear stands on the cheek,
When bursts the unconscious sigh;
And the tremulous lips dare not speak
What is told by the soul-felt eye.
But what is sweeter to revenge's ear
Than the fell tyrant's last expiring yell?
Yes! than love's sweetest blisses 'tis more dear
To drink the floatings of a despot's knell.
I wake—'tis done—'tis over.
_66 ye]thou 1810.