The Lady Of La Garaye - A Threnody

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HOW Memory haunts us! When we fain would be
Alone and free,
Uninterrupted by his mournful words,
Faint, indistinct, as are a wind-harp's chords
Hung on a leafless tree,--
He will not leave us: we resolve in vain
To chase him forth--for he returns again,
Pining incessantly!
In the old pathways of our lost delights
He walks on sunny days and starlit nights,
Answering our restless moan,
With,--"I am here alone,
My brother Joy is gone--for ever gone!
Round your decaying home
The Spring indeed is come,
The leaves are thrilling with a sense of life,
The sap of flowers is rife,
But where is Joy, Heaven's messenger,--bright Joy,--
That curled and radiant boy,
Who was the younger brother of my heart?
Why let ye him whom I so loved depart?
Call him once more,
And let us all be glad, as heretofore!"

Then, urged and stung by Memory, we go forth,
And wander south and north,
Deeming Joy may yet answer to our yearning;
But all is blank and bare:
The silent air
Echoes no pleasant shout of his returning.
Yet somewhere--somewhere, by the pathless woods,
Or silver rippling floods,
He wanders as he wandered once with us;
Through bright arcades of cities populous;
Or else in deserts rude,
Happy in solitude,
And choosing only Youth to be his mate,
He leaves us to our fate.
We hear his distant laughter as we go,
Pacing, ourselves, with Woe,--
Both us he hath outstripped for evermore!
Seek him not in the wood,
Where the sweet ring-doves ever murmuring brood;
Nor on the hill, nor by the golden shore:
Others inherit that which once was ours;
The freshness of the hours,--
The sparkling of the early morning rime,
The evanescent glory of the time!

With them, in some sweet glade,
Warm with a summer shade,
Or where white clover, blooming fresh and wild,
Breathes like the kisses of a little child,
He lingers now:--we call him back in vain
To our world's snow and rain;
The bower we built him when he was our guest
Life's storms have beaten down,
And he far off hath flown,
And buildeth where there is a sunnier nest;
Or, closing rainbow wings and laughing eyes,
He lieth basking 'neath the open skies,
Taking his rest
On the soft moss of some unbroken ground,
Where sobs did never sound.
Oh! give him up: confess that Joy has gone:
He met you at the source of Life's bright river;
And if he hath passed on,
'Tis that his task is done,
He hath no future message to deliver,
But leaves you lone and still for ever and for ever!

© Caroline Norton