Farewell to My Lyre

Lyre of my soul! the parting hour draws nigh,
The hour that tears thy votary away,—
The hour when death shall close my fading eye,
And wrap in earth my cold and lifeless clay.

I feel his icy fingers chill my heart,
And curdle all the blood that warms my breast;
Charm of my darkest moments! soon we part,—
Soon shall thy chords in endless silence rest.

What if thy sounds have charmed the coldest ear,—
What if they breathed like melody divine,—
What if they stole the fair one's purest tear,
Or bade the downcast eye with pleasure shine!

Still I must sink in death's unbroken sleep,
And coldly slumber 'neath the hallowed ground;
And thou must all thy chords in silence keep,
Nor sweetly wake them to the feeblest sound.

Sleep in yon cypress shade,—its heavy gloom
Becomes the awful stillness of the grave;
Rest, where, above yon maiden's early tomb,
The willow's boughs in sorrow seem to wave.

There should the fainting zephyr, whispering by,
Awake one note along thy tuneful string,
O, be it sadder than the mourner's sigh,
And in my ear like funeral dirges ring.

Let not a trill of joy invade my ear,
This gloomy hour asks nothing of delight:
Let all be like the pall that shades the bier,
Or like the darkest canopy of night.

Let no sweet songster pour its witching spell—
No voice of comfort to my spirit come;
Naught but the echo of the passing-bell,
The hollow murmur of the muffled drum.

And yet I seem to hear thy seraph strain
Pour like a gentle stream along the gale:
It ceases,—now its music wakes again,
And breathes as sweetly as the turtle's wail.

Ah, I would brush thy chords and faintly wake
To sounds of joy thy melody awhile,—
Would charm my heart a moment ere it break,
And gild my dying features with a smile:

But no! my hand refuses: 't is but clay,—
The touch of death has withered all its powers;
Soon will its wings my spirit waft away
From thee, thou charmer of my darkest hours!

Farewell, thou lyre of sweetest minstrelsy!
Distraction calls, its sufferer must obey;
The ruthless hand of dark adversity
Has chilled my soul, and torn thy chords away:

The mist of death, that hovers o'er my eyes,
Withdraws thy lovely image from my view;
Like fancy's midnight dream, th' illusion flies,—
Lyre of my soul, adieu! a long adieu.

C ARE-WORN , and sunk in deep despondency,
I bless the hours that lay my thought at rest:
I woo the covert of a midnight sky,
But sink in feverish dreams, by doubt distrest.

The pleasing morning of my early days,
My opening fortune's bright and flattering bloom,
Gone are they all, and mute the voice of praise:
How hard to one who shone, this cruel doom!

Would I were in some lonely desert born,
And 'neath the sordid roof my being drew;
Were nursed by poverty the most forlorn,
And ne'er one ray of hope or pleasure knew.

Then had my soul been never taught to rise;
Then had I never dreamed of power or fame;
No pictured scene of bliss deceived my eyes,
Nor glory lighted in my breast its flame.

What to the wretch like me this towering mind!
'T is but a curse,—a pang that racks the soul.
Better in humble life to be resigned
To ceaseless toil, as round the seasons roll.

Happy the life that in a peaceful stream,
Obscure, unnoticed, through the vale has flowed;
The heart that ne'er was charmed by fortune's gleam,
Is ever sweet contentment's blest abode.

But can I leave the scenes my fancy drew
In colors rich as heaven, and strong as light;
Can I avert from fame my longing view,
And plunge again amid my native night?

Hard is the pang that rends these links away,
And humbling to my soul to rise no more;
How cruel to abandon wisdom's ray,
And find my hopes, my fame, my prospects o'er!

Yes, I must yield,—but slowly I retire;
O, can I dim the light that science gave?
O, can I quench my bosom's ardent fire?
Welcome, ye paths, that lead me to my grave.
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