The Forsaken

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IT is the music of her native land,--
The airs she used to love in happier days;
The lute is struck by some young gentle hand,
To soothe her spirit with remember'd lays.

But her sad heart is wandering from the notes,
Her ear is fill'd with an imagined strain;
Vainly the soften'd music round her floats,
The echo it awakes is all of pain!

The echo it awakes, is of a voice
Which never more her weary heart shall cheer;
Fain would she banish it, but hath no choice,
Its vanish'd sound still haunts her shrinking ear,--

Still haunts her with its tones of joy and love,
Its memories of bitterness and wrong,
Bidding her thoughts thro' various changes rove,--
Welcomes, farewells, and snatches of wild song.

Why bring her music? She had half forgot
How left, how lonely, how oppress'd she was;
Why, by these strains, recal her former lot,
The depth of all her suffering, and its cause?

Know ye not what a spell there is in sound?
Know ye not that the melody of words
Is nothing to the power that wanders round,
Giving vague language to harmonious chords?

Oh I keep ye silence! He hath sung to her,
And from that hour--(faint twilight, sweet and dim,
When the low breeze scarce made the branches stirs)--
Music hath been a memory of HIM!

Chords which the wandering fingers scarcely touch
When they would seek for some forgotten song,--
Stray notes which have no certain meaning, such
As careless hands unthinkingly prolong,--

Come unto HER, fraught with a vivid dream
Of love, in all its wild and passionate strength,--
Of sunsets, glittering on the purple stream,--
Of shadows, deepening into twilight length,--

Of gentle sounds, when the warm world lay hush'd
Beneath the soft breath of the evening air,--
Of hopes and fears, and expectations crush'd,
By one long certainty of blank despair!

Bear to the sick man's couch the fiery cup,
Pledged by wild feasters in their riotous hours,
And bid his parch'd lips drink the poison up,
As tho' its foam held cool refreshing powers,--

Lift some poor wounded wretch, whose writhing pain
Finds soothing only in an utter rest,
Forth in some rude-made litter, to regain
Strength for his limbs and vigour for his breast;--

But soothe ye not that proud forsaken heart
With strains whose sweetness maddens as they fall;
Untroubled let her feverish soul depart--
Not long shall memory's power its might enthral;

Not long,--tho' balmy be the summer's breath!
In the deep stillness of its golden light,
A shadowy spirit sits, whose name is DEATH,
And turns, what was all beauty, into blight;

And she, before whose sad and dreaming eye
Visions of by-gone days are sweeping on,
In her unfaded youth shall drooping die,
Shut from the glow of that Italian sun:

Then let the organ's solemn notes prolong
Their glory round the silence of her grave,
Then let the choral voices swell in song
And echo thro' the chancel and the nave;

For then her heart shall ache not at the sound,
Then the faint fever of her life shall cease
Silence, unbroken, calm, shall reign around,
And the long restless shall be laid at peace.

© Caroline Norton