On receiving an early crocus and some violets in a letter from Ireland.
Within the letter's rustling fold
I find once more a glad surprise--
A little tiny cup of gold--
Two little lovely violet eyes;
A cup of gold with emeralds set,
Once filled with wine from happier spheres;
Two little eyes so lately wet
With spring's delicious dewy tears.
Oh! little eyes that wept and laughed,
Now bright with smiles, with tears now dim,
Oh! little cup that once was quaffed
By fay-queens fluttering round thy rim.
I press each silken fringe's fold,
Sweet little eyes once more ye shine;
I kiss thy lip, oh, cup of gold,
And find thee full of Memory's wine.
Within their violet depths I gaze,
And see as in the camera's gloom,
The island with its belt of bays,
Its chieftained heights all capped with broom,
Which as the living lens it fills,
Now seems a giant charmed to sleep--
Now a broad shield embossed with hills
Upon the bosom of the deep.
When will the slumbering giant wake?
When will the shield defend and guard?
Ah, me! prophetic gleams forsake
The once rapt eyes of seer or bard.
Enough, if shunning Samson's fate,
It doth not all its vigour yield;
Enough, if plenteous peace, though late,
May rest beneath the sheltering shield.
I see the long and lone defiles
Of Keimaneigh's bold rocks uphurled,
I see the golden fruited isles
That gem the queen-lakes of the world;
I see--a gladder sight to me--
By soft Shanganah's silver strand,
The breaking of a sapphire sea
Upon the golden-fretted sand.
Swiftly the tunnel's rock-hewn pass,
Swiftly the fiery train runs through;
Oh! what a glittering sheet of glass!
Oh! what enchantment meets my view!
With eyes insatiate I pursue,
Till Bray's bright headland bounds the scene.
'Tis Baiae, by a softer blue!
Gaeta, by a gladder green!
By tasseled groves, o'er meadows fair,
I'm carried in my blissful dream,
To where--a monarch in the air--
The pointed mountain reigns supreme;
There in a spot remote and wild,
I see once more the rustic seat,
Where Carrigoona, like a child,
Sits at the mightier mountain's feet.
There by the gentler mountain's slope,
That happiest year of many a year,
That first swift year of love and hope,
With her then dear and ever dear,
I sat upon the rustic seat,
The seat an aged bay-tree crowns,
And saw outspreading from our feet
The golden glory of the Downs.
The furze-crowned heights, the glorious glen,
The white-walled chapel glistening near,
The house of God, the homes of men,
The fragrant hay, the ripening ear;
There where there seemed nor sin nor crime,
There in God's sweet and wholesome air--
Strange book to read at such a time--
We read of Vanity's false Fair.
We read the painful pages through,
Perceived the skill, admired the art,
Felt them if true, not wholly true,
A truer truth was in our heart.
Save fear and love of One, hath proved
The sage how vain is all below;
And one was there who feared and loved,
And one who loved that she was so.
The vision spreads, the memories grow,
Fair phantoms crowd the more I gaze,
Oh! cup of gold, with wine o'erflow,
I'll drink to those departed days:
And when I drain the golden cup
To them, to those I ne'er can see,
With wine of hope I'll fill it up,
And drink to days that yet may be.
I've drunk the future and the past,
Now for a draught of warmer wine--
One draught, the sweetest and the last,
Lady, I'll drink to thee and thine.
These flowers that to my breast I fold,
Into my very heart have grown;
To thee I'll drain the cup of gold,
And think the violet eyes thine own.
Boulogne, March, 1865.