Kind solace in a dying hour!
Such, father, is not (now) my theme—
I will not deem that power
Of Earth may shrive me of the sin
Unearthly pride hath revell'd in—
I have no time to dote or dream:
You call it hope—that fire of fire!
It is but agony of desire:
If I can hope—oh, God! I can—
Its fount is holier—more divine— 10 I would not call thee fool, old man,
But such is not a gift of thine.
Know thou the secret of a spirit
Bow'd from its wild pride into shame.
O yearning heart! I did inherit
Thy withering portion with the fame,
The searing glory which hath shone
Amid the jewels of my throne,
Halo of Hell! and with a pain
Not Hell shall make me fear again— 20 O craving heart, for the lost flowers
And sunshine of my summer hours!
The undying voice of that dead time,
With its interminable chime,
Rings, in the spirit of a spell,
Upon thy emptiness—a knell.
I have not always been as now:
The fever'd diadem on my brow
I claimd and won usurpingly—
Hath not the same fierce heirdom given 30 Rome to the Cæsar—this to me?
The heritage of a kingly mind,
And a proud spirit which hath striven
Triumphantly with human kind.
On mountain soil I first drew life:
The mists of the Taglay have shed
Nightly their dews upon my head,
And, I believe, the winged strife
And tumult of the headlong air
Have nestled in my very hair. 40
So late from Heaven—that dew—it fell
('Mid dreams of an unhholy night)
Upon me with the touch of Hell,
While the red flashing of the light
From clouds that hung, like banners, o'er,
Appeared to my hlf-closing eye
The pgeantry of monarchy,
And the deep trumpet-thounder's roar
Came hurriedly upon me, telling
Of human battle, where my voice, 50 My own voice, silly child! was swelling
(O! how my spirit would rejoice,
And leap within me at the cry)
The battle-cry of Victory!
The rain came down upon my head
Unshelter'd—and the heavy wind
Rendered me mad and deaf and blind.
It was but man, I thought, who shed
Laurels upon me: and the rush,
The torrent of the chilly air 60 Gurgled within my ear the crush
Of empires—with the captive's prayer—
The hum of suitors—and the tone
Of flattery round a sovereign's throne.
My passions, from that hapless hour,
Usurp'd a tyranny which men.
Have deem'd, since I have reach'd to power,
My innate nature—be it so:
But, father, there liv'd one who, then,
Then—in my boyhood—when their fire 70 Burn'd with a still intenser glow
(For passion must, with youth, expire)
E'en then who knew this iron heart
In woman's weakness had a part.
I have no words—alas!—to tell
The loveliness of loving well!
Nor would I now attempt to trace
The more than beauty of a face
Whose lieaments, upon my mind,
Are—shadows on th' unstable wind: 80 Thus I remember having dwelt
Some page of early lore upon,
With loitering eye, till I have felt