William Sydney Walker (1795-1846)

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Clara Quantrille

Lady! no marvel that the kinsman young
Of the grand master of the mystery
Of metaphysics, fell in love with thee;
Nor yet that while the stage, jumbling along,
Soothed him to slumber with its one dull song,
As towards the land of lakes and poesy
The wayward youth rode nightly journeying,--he
Over thy imagined form in visions hung.
For thou hast charms to warm a colder breast
Than that of youthful poet: locks like night;
Cheeks of rich bloom, where love hath built his nest;
Looks like young Juno's; eyes from whose full glance
The gazer shrinks abashed, as in the fight
The polished shield returns the warrior's lance.

Return of Spring

I looked for thy return, belovéd spring!
As with a sick man's wish, I pined for thee,
A weak and fretful longing; for to me,
I thought, thy coming would renewal bring
Of powers and loves, now slowly perishing;
Thy soft clear sun, thy buds on ground and tree
Opening, the glad tumultuous melody
Of thy young birds, each new and lovely thing
Within my breast the selfsame joy would wake
They waked of old. O fond! to deem the spell
Of outward beauty could have power to make
Him happy, in whose heart the living well
Of happiness is dried! Thou camest at last
And, ere I felt thy presence, thou wast past.

To Catharine Seyton

So thou wouldst tempt me, pretty neophyte,
Me, bred in those learnéd halls whose sons erst broke,
With arm polemic, Rome's usurpé yoke,
Though all unfit to wage--with eyes so bright
And smiles so sweet--the controversial fight;
Me, whom no few as Methodist assail,
Me thou wouldst tempt to quit the happy pale
Of England's Church, to pope and priest my right
Of thought resigning.
                                   Cherish, gentle friend,
The new-found light, if light it be, and tread
Thy clouded path to heaven: and let me wend
My way, with difficulty sore bested,
Nor needing more incumbrances, alone,
Free from thy Church's fetters, and thy own!

"They say that thou wert lovely on thy bier"

They say that thou wert lovely on thy bier,
More lovely than in life; that when the thrall
Of earth was loosed, it seemed as though a pall
Of years were lifted, and thou didst appear
Such as of old amidst thy home's calm sphere
Thou sat'st, a kindly Presence felt by all
In joy or grief, from morn to evening-fall,
The peaceful Genius of that mansion dear.
Was it the craft of all-persuading Love
That wrought this marvel? or is Death indeed
A mighty master, gifted from above
With alchemy benign, to wounded hearts
Minist'ring thus, by quaint and subtle arts,
Strange comfort, whereon after-thought may feed?

(Text for last sonnet from The Book of Sorrow.)