No--'tis not the region where Love's to be found--
They have bosoms that sigh, they have glances that rove,
They have language a Sappho's own lip might resound,
When she warbled her best--but they've nothing like Love.
Nor is't that pure sentiment only they want,
Which Heaven for the mild and the tranquil hath made--
Calm, wedded affection, that home-rooted plant
Which sweetens seclusion and smiles in the shade;
That feeling which, after long years have gone by,
Remains like a portrait we've sat for in youth,
Where, even tho' the flush of the colors may fly,
The features still live in their first smiling truth;
That union where all that in Woman is kind,
With all that in Man most ennoblingly towers,
Grow wreathed into one--like the column, combined
Of the strength of the shaft and the capital's flowers.
Of this--bear ye witness, ye wives, everywhere,
By the ARNO, the PO, by all ITALY'S streams--
Of this heart-wedded love, so delicious to share,
Not a husband hath even one glimpse in his dreams.
But it is not this only;--born full of the light
Of a sun from whose fount the luxuriant festoons
Of these beautiful valleys drink lustre so bright
That beside him our suns of the north are but moons,--
We might fancy at least, like their climate they burned;
And that Love tho' unused in this region of spring
To be thus to a tame Household Deity turned,
Would yet be all soul when abroad on the wing.
And there may be, there are those explosions of heart
Which burst when the senses have first caught the flame;
Such fits of the blood as those climates impart,
Where Love is a sun-stroke that maddens the frame.
But that Passion which springs in the depth of the soul;
Whose beginnings are virginly pure as the source
Of some small mountain rivulet destined to roll
As a torrent ere long, losing peace in its course--
A course to which Modesty's struggle but lends
A more headlong descent without chance of recall;
But which Modesty even to the last edge attends,
And then throws a halo of tears round its fall!
This exquisite Passion--ay, exquisite, even
Mid the ruin its madness too often hath made,
As it keeps even then a bright trace of the heaven,
That heaven of Virtue from which it has strayed--
This entireness of love which can only be found,
Where Woman like something that's holy, watched over,
And fenced from her childhood with purity round,
Comes body and soul fresh as Spring to a lover!
Where not an eye answers, where not a hand presses,
Till spirit with spirit in sympathy move;
And the Senses asleep in their sacred recesses
Can only be reached thro' the temple of Love!--
This perfection of Passion-how can it be found,
Where the mystery Nature hath hung round the tie
By which souls are together attracted and bound,
Is laid open for ever to heart,
ear and eye;--
Where naught of that innocent doubt can exist,
That ignorance even than knowledge more bright,
Which circles the young like the morn's sunny mist,
And curtains them round in their own native light;--
Where Experience leaves nothing for Love to reveal,
Or for Fancy in visions to gleam o'er the thought:
But the truths which alone we would die to conceal
From the maiden's young heart are the only ones taught.
No, no, 'tis not here, howsoever we sigh,
Whether purely to Hymen's one planet we pray,
Or adore, like Sabaeans, each light of Love's sky,
Here is not the region to fix or to stray.
For faithless in wedlock, in gallantry gross,
Without honor to guard, to reserve, to restrain,
What have they a husband can mourn as a loss?
What have they a lover can prize as a gain?