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The October Night
by [?]

My haunting grief has vanished like a dream,
Its floating fading memory seems one
With those frail mists born of the dawn’s first beam,
Dissolving as the dew melts in the sun.

What ailed thee then, O poet mine;
What secret misery was thine,
Which set a bar ‘twixt thee and me?
Alas, I suffer from it still;
What was this grief, this unknown ill,
Which I have wept so bitterly?

‘T was but a common grief, well known of men.
But, look you, when our heavy heart is sore,
Fond wretches that we are! we fancy then
That sorrow never has been felt before.

There cannot be a common grief,
Save that of common souls; my friend,
Speak out, and give thy heart relief,
Of this grim secret make an end.
Confide in me, and have no fear.
The God of silence, pale, austere,
Is younger brother unto death.
Even as we mourn we’re comforted,
And oft a single word is said
Which from remorse delivereth.

If I were bound this day to tell my woe,
I know not by what name to call my pain,
Love, folly, pride, experience–neither know
If one in all the world might thereby gain.
Yet ne’ertheless I’ll voice the tale to thee,
Alone here by the hearth. But do thou take
This lyre–come nearer–so; my memory
Shall gently with the harmonies awake.

But first, or ere thy grief thou say,
My poet, art thou healed thereof?
Bethink thee, thou must speak to-day,
As free from hatred as from love.
For man has given the holy name
Of consolation unto me.
Make me no partner of thy shame,
In passions that have ruined thee.

Of my old wounds I am so sound and whole,
Almost I doubt they were, nor find their trace;
And in the passes where I risked my soul,
In mine own stead I see a stranger’s face.
Muse, have no fear, we both may yield awhile
To this first inspiration of regret.
Oh, it is good to weep, ‘t is good to smile,
Remembering sorrows we might else forget.

As the watchful mother stoops
O’er her infant’s cradled rest,
So my trembling spirit droops
O’er this long-closed, silent breast.
Speak! I touch the lyre’s sweet strings,
Feebly, plaintively it sings,
With thy voice set free at last.
While athwart a radiant beam,
Like a light, enchanted dream,
Float the shadows of the past.

My days of work! sole days whereon I lived!
O thrice-beloved solitude!
Now God be praised, once more I have arrived
In this old study bare and rude.
These oft-deserted walls, this shabby den,
My faithful lamp, my dusty chair,
My palace, my small world I greet again,
My Muse, immortal, young and fair.
Thank God! we twain may sing here side by side,
I will reveal to thee my thought.
Thou shalt know all, to thee I will confide
The evil by a woman wrought.
A woman, yes! (mayhap, poor friends, ye guess,
Or ever I have said the word!)
To such a one my soul was bound, no less
Than is the vassal to his lord.
Detested yoke! within me to destroy
The vigor and the bloom of youth!
Yet only through my love I caught, in sooth,
A fleeting glimpse of joy.
When by the brook, beneath the evening-star,
On silver sands we twain would stray,
The white wraith of the aspen tree afar
Pointed for us the dusky way.
Once more within the moonlight do I see
That fair form sink upon my breast;
No more of that! Alas, I never guessed
Whither my fate was leading me.
The angry gods some victim craved, I fear,
At that ill-omened time,
Since they have punished me as for a crime,
For trying to be happy here!