Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE WANDERER: 1. IN ITALY: A LOVE LETTER, by EDWARD ROBERT BULWER-LYTTON



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THE WANDERER: 1. IN ITALY: A LOVE LETTER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: My love, - my chosen, - but not mine!
Last Line: Thine own, and only thine, my love, forever.
Alternate Author Name(s): Meredith, Owen; Lytton, 1st Earl Of; Lytton, Robert
Subject(s): Italy; Love; Travel; Italians; Journeys; Trips


MY love, -- my chosen, -- but not mine! I send
My whole heart to thee in these words I write;
So let the blotted lines, my soul's sole friend,
Lie upon thine, and there be blest at night.

This flower, whose bruised purple blood will stain
The page now wet with the hot tears that fall --
(Indeed, indeed, I struggle to restrain
This weakness, but the tears come, spite of all!)

I plucked it from the branch you used to praise,
The branch that hides the wall. I tend your flowers.
I keep the paths we paced in happier days.
How long ago they seem, those pleasant hours.

The white laburnum's out. Your judastree
Begins to shed those crimson buds of his.
The nightingales sing -- ah, too joyously!
Who says those birds are sad? I think there is

That in the books we read, which deeper wrings
My heart, so they lie dusty on the shelf.
Ah me, I meant to speak of other things
Less sad. In vain! they bring me to myself.

I know your patience. And I would not cast
New shade on days so dark as yours are grown
By weak and wild repining for the past,
Since it is past forever, O mine own!

For hard enough the daily cross you bear,
Without that deeper pain reflection brings;
And all too sore the fretful household care,
Free of the contrast of remembered things.

But ah! it little profits, that we thrust
From all that 's said, what both must feel, unnamed.
Better to face it boldly, as we must,
Than feel it in the silence, and be shamed.

Irene, I have loved you, as men love
Light, music, odor, beauty, love itself; --
Whatever is apart from, and above
Those daily needs which deal with dust and pelf.

And I had been content, without one thought
Our guardian angels could have blusht to know,
So to have lived and died, demanding nought
Save, living dying, to have loved you so.

My youth was orphaned, and my age will be
Childless. I have no sister. None, to steal
One stray thought from the many thoughts of thee,
Which are the source of all I think and feel.

My wildest wish was vassal to thy will:
My haughtiest hope, a pensioner on thy smile,
Which did with light my barren being fill,
As moonlight glorifies some desert isle.

I never thought to know what I have known, --
The rapture, dear, of being loved by you:
I never thought, within my heart, to own
One wish so blest that you should share it too:

Nor ever did I deem, contemplating
The many sorrows in this place of pain,
So strange a sorrow to my life could cling,
As, being thus loved, to be beloved in vain.

But now we know the best, the worst. We have
Interred, and prematurely, and unknown,
Our youth, our hearts, our hopes, in one small grave,
Whence we must wander, widowed, to our own.

And if we comfort not each other, what
Shall comfort us, in the dark days to come?
Not the light laughter of the world, and not
The faces and the firelight of fond home.

And so I write to you; and write, and write,
For the mere sake of writing to you, dear.
What can I tell you, that you know not? Night
Is deepening through the rosy atmosphere

About the lonely casement of this room,
Which you have left familiar with the grace
That grows where you have been. And on the gloom
I almost fancy I can see your face.

Not pale with pain, and tears restrained for me,
As when I last beheld it; but as first,
A dream of rapture and of poesy,
Upon my youth, like dawn on dark, it burst.

Perchance I shall not ever see again
That face. I know that I shall never see
Its radiant beauty as I saw it then,
Save by this lonely lamp of memory,

With childhood's starry graces lingering yet
I' the rosy orient of young womanhood;
And eyes like woodland violets newly wet;
And lips that left their meaning in my blood!

I will not say to you what I might say
To one less worthily loved, less worthy love.
I will not say ... "Forget the past. Be gay.
And let the all ill-judging world approve

"Light in your eyes, and laughter on your lip."
I will not say ... "Dissolve in thought forever
Our sorrowful, but sacred, fellowship."
For that would be, to bid you, dear, dissever

Your nature from its nobler heritage
In consolations registered in heaven,
For griefs this world is barren to assuage,
And hopes to which, on earth, no home is given.

But I would whisper, what forevermore
My own heart whispers through the wakeful night, ...
"This grief is but a shadow, flung before,
From some refulgent substance out of sight."

Wherefore it happens, in this riddling world,
That, where sin came not, sorrow yet should be;
Why heaven's most hurtful thunders should be hurled
At what seems noblest in humanity;

And we are punished for our purest deeds,
And chastened for our holiest thoughts; ... alas!
There is no reason found in all the creeds,
Why these things are, nor whence they come to pass

But in the heart of man, a secret voice
There is, which speaks, and will not be restrained,
Which cries to Grief ... "Weep on, while I rejoice,
Knowing that, somewhere, all will be explained."

I will not cant that commonplace of friends,
Which never yet hath dried one mourner's tears,
Nor say that grief's slow wisdom makes amends
For broken hearts and desolated years.

For who would barter all he hopes from life,
To be a little wiser than his kind?
Who arm his nature for continued strife,
Where all he seeks for hath been left behind?

But I would say, O pure and perfect pearl
Which I have dived so deep in life to find,
Locked in my heart thou liest. The wave may curl,
The wind may wail above us. Wave and wind,

What are their storm and strife to me and you?
No strife can mar the pure heart's inmost calm.
This life of ours, what is it? A very few
Soon-ended years, and then, -- the ceaseless psalm,

And the eternal sabbath of the soul!
Hush! ... while I write, from the dim Carmine
The midnight angelus begins to roll,
And float athwart the darkness up to me.

My messenger (a man by danger tried)
Waits in the courts below; and ere our star
Upon the forehead of the dawn hath died,
Beloved one, this letter will be far

Athwart the mountain, and the mist, to you.
I know each robber hamlet. I know all
This mountain people. I have friends, both true
And trusted, sworn to aid whate'er befall.

I have a bark upon the gulf. And I,
If to my heart I yielded in this hour,
Might say ... "Sweet fellow-sufferer, let us fly!
I know a little isle which doth embower

"A home where exiled angels might forbear
A while to mourn for paradise." ... But no!
Never, whate'er fate now may bring us, dear,
Shalt thou reproach me for that only woe

Which even love is powerless to console;
Which dwells where duty dies: and haunts the tomb
Of life's abandoned purpose in the soul;
And leaves to hope, in heaven itself, no room.

Man cannot make, but may ennoble, fate,
By nobly bearing it. So let us trust,
Not to ourselves, but God, and calmly wait
Love's orient, out of darkness and of dust.

Farewell, and yet again farewell, and yet
Never farewell, -- if farewell mean to fare
Alone and disunited. Love hath set
Our days, in music, to the self-same air;

And I shall feel, wherever we may be,
Even though in absence and an alien clime,
The shadow of the sunniness of thee,
Hovering, in patience, through a clouded time.

Farewell! The dawn is rising, and the light
Is making, in the east, a faint endeavor
To illuminate the mountain peaks. Good night.
Thine own, and only thine, my love, forever.





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