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Hero And Leander
by [?]


TO S. T. COLERIDGE.

It is not with a hope my feeble praise
Can add one moment’s honor to thy own,
That with thy mighty name I grace these lays;
I seek to glorify myself alone:
For that some precious favor thou hast shown
To my endeavor in a bygone time,
And by this token I would have it known
Thou art my friend, and friendly to my rhyme!
It is my dear ambition now to climb
Still higher in thy thought,–if my bold pen
May thrust on contemplations more sublime.–
But I am thirsty for thy praise, for when
We gain applauses from the great in name,
We seem to be partakers of their fame.

I.

Oh Bards of old! What sorrows have ye sung,
And tragic stories, chronicled in stone,–
Sad Philomel restored her ravish’d tongue,
And transform’d Niobe in dumbness shown;
Sweet Sappho on her love forever calls,
And Hero on the drown’d Leander falls!

II.

Was it that spectacles of sadder plights
Should make our blisses relish the more high?
Then all fair dames, and maidens, and true knights,
Whose flourish’d fortunes prosper in Love’s eye,
Weep here, unto a tale of ancient grief,
Traced from the course of an old bas-relief.

III.

There stands Abydos!–here is Sestos’ steep,
Hard by the gusty margin of the sea,
Where sprinkling waves continually do leap;
And that is where those famous lovers be,
A builded gloom shot up into the gray,
As if the first tall watch-tow’r of the day.

IV.

Lo! how the lark soars upward and is gone;
Turning a spirit as he nears the sky,
His voice is heard, though body there is none,
And rain-like music scatters from on high;
But Love would follow with a falcon spite,
To pluck the minstrel from his dewy height.

V.

For Love hath framed a ditty of regrets,
Tuned to the hollow sobbings on the shore,
A vexing sense, that with like music frets,
And chimes this dismal burthen o’er and o’er,
Saying, Leander’s joys are past and spent,
Like stars extinguish’d in the firmament.

VI.

For ere the golden crevices of morn
Let in those regal luxuries of light,
Which all the variable east adorn,
And hang rich fringes on the skirts of night,
Leander, weaning from sweet Hero’s side,
Must leave a widow where he found a bride.

VII.

Hark! how the billows beat upon the sand!
Like pawing steeds impatient of delay;
Meanwhile their rider, ling’ring on the land,
Dallies with love, and holds farewell at bay
A too short span.–How tedious slow is grief!
But parting renders time both sad and brief.

VIII.

“Alas!” (he sigh’d), “that this first glimpsing light,
Which makes the wide world tenderly appear,
Should be the burning signal for my flight
From all the world’s best image, which is here;
Whose very shadow, in my fond compare,
Shines far more bright than Beauty’s self elsewhere.”

IX.

Their cheeks are white as blossoms of the dark,
Whose leaves close up and show the outward pale,
And those fair mirrors where their joys did spark,
All dim and tarnish’d with a dreary veil,
No more to kindle till the night’s return,
Like stars replenish’d at Joy’s golden urn.

X.

Ev’n thus they creep into the spectral gray,
That cramps the landscape in its narrow brim,
As when two shadows by old Lethe stray,
He clasping her, and she entwining him;
Like trees, wind-parted, that embrace anon,–
True love so often goes before ’tis gone.