CLEUEN An Elegy

CLEUEN
An Elegy [1] 

How sweet the placid light which Evening sheds!
How Melancholy loves the soft'ning ray!
The gloomy shade the child of sorrow treads,
And the swoll'n eye invokes departing day.
Dear to the pensive heart the silent scene5
As o'er the mellow'd plains I cast my view,
Where the Nore winds his wooded banks between [2] 
And the grey ruin wears the reddning hue.
There aged Cleuen moulders into dust
To time a victim, tho' a victim slow,10
Where once the hardy chief repos'd his trust,
And frown'd defiance on his threat'ning foe.
Tho no proud architect the pile adorn'd
Or taught the graceful column to ascend,
Its haughty strength opposing battle scorn'd,15
Firm to resist, and well the prey defend.
When Britain drove her outcasts on this shore,
They rear'd those castles on the blood-stain'd field,
The pillage from the helpless natives tore,
And forc'd the trembling combatants to yield.20
Hither they came a fierce and lawless band,
And met a foe tho feebler, not more rude;
Oppression lorded o'er the groaning land,
And Discord revell'd in continual blood.
Yet was young Aldred of superior race,25
By science foster'd and the Muses lov'd;
Skill'd the rare characters of art to trace;
His genius nurtured, and his soul improv'd.
Let pity hear his melancholy doom,
Which drove him far from Albion's cherish'd shore,30
Yielded his youth to unremitting gloom,
And gave him hopeless exile to deplore.
The child of sorrow, orphan'd & forlorn,
From noble Osburn he protection sought;
His early merit Osburn lov'd to adorn,35
Nor quench'd the fires with which his soul was fraught.
Taught with his son the graceful Aldred grew,
The lov'd companion of his youthful hours,
Improving days on blissful pinions flew,
Strengthen'd their forms & gave their minds new powers.40
Together still in ev'ry search sublime,
Their studies mutual, their pursuits the same,
To rouse the chace, the rugged steep to climb,
Or wing the rapid dart with certain aim.
Tho' Aldred shone superior in each art,45
And still surpass'd in every manly grace,
No envy poison'd his friend's noble heart
The quicker genius gain'd his ready praise.
When stripling beauty wore first manhood's bloom,
For Osburn's son were Hymen's [3]  robes prepar'd,50
His long betrothed bride at length brought home,
And princely feasts the happy hour declar'd.
But who shall paint that fair, that angel face,
That form the image of celestial joy,
Each softer beauty, each attractive grace55
Glow'd in her cheek, & sparkled in her eye.
Unhappy Aldred! wherefore dost thou gaze,
Why doth thy heart such strange enchantment feel?
Ah! shun the meteor's bright destructive blaze,
Nor let the serpent to thy bosom steal.60
Ah caution vain! the soft seducer Love
Thro' all his veins the treach'rous venom pours,
With gentle whispers Virtue would reprove
The passion which his struggling soul deplores.
Oft struck by self-reproach, by reason woo'd65
He sought his former studies to resume,
Where'er he fled, her image still pursued
Spoke in each sound, & pierc'd thro' every gloom.
Stung by the random shaft e'en thus the deer
Shoots thro' the plains, or seeks in shades to hide,70
In his vain flight still doom'd the dart to bear,
While still it rankles in his wounded side.
Thou too sweet Ida, poor unconscious fair,
Will no protecting power from ruin save?
What anguish wastes thee, & what black despair75
Prepares thine early, thine untimely grave!
Ere yet the latent guilt her soul perceiv'd,
Fierce thro her bosom flew the subtle flame,
Each tortur'd nerve the fatal fire receiv'd,
Consum'd her soul & rag'd thro all her frame.80
Her fading cheek her secret griefs confess'd,
From her dim eye the heav'nly radiance fled,
Her lovely form by silent woes oppress'd,
And the young roses wither'd all and dead.
This Aldred saw with trembling doubt and fear,85
Saw too with conscious pang his friend was lost,
O'er his dark brow saw discontent appear,
And lowering there beheld reserve's cold frost.
Unable to endure the cruel sight,
Resolv'd to go, yet dreading to depart,90
His long lov'd friend resisted not his flight,
Which yet was destin'd to no certain part.
Unhappy Youth! ah wherefore didst thou stay,
Doom'd the extreme of misery to know,
Thy tortur'd heart shall bleed for this delay95
And thine eye see the fates resistless blow.
The tender object of thy guilty sighs
Conflicting passions to the grave have driv'n,
The fated victim sinks before thine eyes,
And 'scapes that anguish which thy flight had giv'n.100
In vain the healing powers of art are tried,
No skill of medicine can her wound assuage,
The wasting fires all human art deride,
And the fair mourner touches life's last stage.
Beside her dying couch, in stupid woe,105
Her wretched husband, and her lover stood,
From their fix'd eyes no softer sorrows flow,
Tho' sad attendants pour the pitying flood.
Yes Aldred saw for ever clos'd that eye
Whose heav'nly speaking emanations charm'd,110
Heard on her lips faint quiv'ring the last sigh,
And felt her hand by life no longer warm'd.
Then madly rushing to the forests gloom,
That house of mourning he for ever left,
Curs'd his existence, & invok'd the tomb,115
Of every sense but anguish quite bereft.
There in dark shades his furious grief to hide,
He shunn'd each eye 'mid rocks & woods conceal'd,
'Till nature sunk bid passions rage subside,
And his exhausted soul to sorrow yield.120
With aching tenderness he view'd around
The long laid scenes he shall for ever mourn,
While Melancholy spoke in every sound
"No peace shall ever to thy breast return."
That spot endear'd by many a tender tie125
He now resolv'd for ever to forego,
Yet the vast world to his despondent eye
No prospect offerd which might sooth his woe.
Urg'd by despair, thus wretched and forlorn,
He join'd the daring and adventurous crew,130
With them from Albion's friendly coast was born,
And plough'd the waves Hibernia to subdue.
There in the rudest solitude immur'd,
Leagu'd with those wretches whom foul crimes had stain'd,
Harden'd by ills, to sufferings long inur'd,135
A tender, manly soul he yet retain'd.
The voice of the oppress'd oft reach'd his ear,
The helpless oft from pillage he preserv'd,
His aw'd companions, tho' unus'd to fear,
Admiring felt their savage grasp unnerv'd.140
But when opposing chiefs in battle fought
Rous'd from his gloom he rush'd into the field,
The hottest combat desperately sought,
Which still refus'd the wish'd for doom to yield.
In vain implor'd still death appear'd to fly,145
Despis'd applause from hence he only gaind,
The chiefs more cautious view'd with wondring eye
The mighty terrors of his fearless hand.
Oft when black storms contending rag'd abroad
And night assembled the far scatter'd band,150
On the dark battlements the youth unaw'd
Was wont the tempests fury to withstand.
The mountain torrents roaring mid these woods
Spoke more accordant than the gentler stream,
And the swell'd Nore's now loudly dashing floods155
To his wild sorrows sympathetic seem.
While the full bowl his rude companions fir'd,
Loathing the tumults of the boistrous scene,
Far from the roar of festive mirth retir'd,
He ask'd no calmer sky to smile serene.160
There would he utter oft his hopeless grief
But sigh'd to no kind sympathising ear
No pitying eye his anguish gave relief
No soothing friends soft influence to cheer.
He thought of Albion's lov'd regretted shore,165
Dear objects ne'er to be review'd again,
And to the heedless winds that round him roar
Forlorn deserted thus would he complain.
"Oh! sad associate of a savage horde,
Thou wretched victim of devouring grief!170
Why is thy death delay'd so oft implor'd,
Why is despair denied its last relief?
Cut off from every hope by one sad stroke
No interest ties thee to this dreary world,
The chain of sweet society it broke175
And I accurs'd to savage wilds am hurl'd.
Is this then all the fruit of early joys
The dreams of hope, and rosy pleasure's charm?
Return ye hours ere love allur'd my eyes
And fill'd my soul with anguish and alarm.180
Once more the sweets of friendship let me know
And rise with innocence to hail the morn,
Feel with my friend blithe vigour's healthful glow
And cheerly echo to the sportive horn.
Come dearest Youth restore the social scene185
The liberal charm of unsuspected truth,
The careless heart, the open brow serene,
The warmth of confidence, the smile of youth.
Dear lovely partners of my happiest hours,
With you each pleasure & each joy is fled,190
O'er my sad bosom every sorrow lowers
And every hope of future bliss is dead.
How could I quit that soft delightful scene
Which once with Ida I had wander'd o'er,
Those sacred woods, those meadows ever green195
That silver river, and that peaceful shore!
Those gardens painted by sweet Nature's skill
Those meads adorned with her richest powers,
The wood-crowned summit of that gentle hill,
The mingled fragrance of those rosy bowers.200
At least delighted memory bring near,
Unto my cheated heart with strongest power,
Each look of love, each word, each action dear,
Each fond memorial, and each happy hour.
Still let me fancy that each peaceful night205
I lay me down in sweetest hope to view,
Her form returning with the morning light
And hear those accents soft, persuasive, true.
Still let me think mine opening eyes shall see
Upon the dewy lawn glad mornings beams,210
Marking the shadow of each well-known tree
Gracing with lustre the sweet rivers streams.
Still let me think that I with her shall rove
O'er the soft verdure of the sloping mead,
Or rest delighted in the upland grove215
And all the treasures of her bosom read.
Let thrilling rapture all my soul entrance
By one soft touch of Ida's yielding hand,
As when, united in the festive dance,
We once were mingled with the happy band.220
Once more let Ida tune the melting lute,
Let solemn strains inspire my ravish'd breast,
Thro' all my kindling nerves let rapture shoot
Or softer accents lull to tender rest.
Oh no! let me be banish'd & undone,225
Let no sweet hope my wretched days beguile,
O'er my sad life let darkning sorrow frown
And sportive nature wear from me no smile.
But Oh! at least the spotless Ida spare,
Let her be blest, while I condemn'd may rove,230
With her the light of Heav'n but let me share,
And view the sun which shines on all I love.
Ah no! in the cold senseless grave she lies,
Wild are my wishes, and my prayers are vain,
Silent her tongue, and clos'd her beaming eyes,235
And I survive, to suffer and complain.
Oft in the woods methinks her voice I hear,
It speaks of happiness for ever gone,
Of blasted hope, of moments still how dear!
Of friendship wither'd, and of pleasure flown.240
Hark even now - the soft melodious charm
Steals thro' the hush'd & dusky vault of night.
With power ev'n my mute anguish to disarm
And sooth despair itself with strange delight.
Seraph once more those coral doors unclose!245
Let Heav'n proceed from those celestial gates,
Already sure resistless rapture flows,
And on thy breath ethereal odour waits.
Oh! let me dwell for ever on that sound,
Still let me hang delighted on that voice,250
There fix'd I rest tho' all the world around
Should strive to tear me from my partial choice.
Delirious fool it is not Ida speaks!
Loud from the mountains pour the threatning floods,
O'er these drear walls the furious tempest breaks255
And the storm rages thro' th'affrighted woods.
No tongue pronounces my lov'd Ida's name,
My longing ears in vain the sound desire,
My constant thoughts this poor indulgence claim,
While falt'ring accents on my lips expire.260
Vainly I court submission, gentlest power,
The wretch's best associate, tenderest friend,
Wisdom and she have left me in this hour,
And every hope of comfort now must end:
For what can future hope to me disclose,265
To me abandon'd, lost, and desolate,
Will time return in pity to my woes,
On me to bid reverted Nature wait?
And thou Oh tomb! where all my hopes are laid
Wilt thou my silent treasure e'er restore?270
Give back to earth the fair embodied shade
And bid the clay cold dust revive once more?
Then shall my beating heart this pang resign
My charmed eyes shall welcome light again!
Ah wretch this never, never must be thine,275
Heaven smiles on all but smiles on thee in vain!
So stands the barren cliff expos'd, alone,
Nor feels the genial, vegetative sway,
On its cold brow no balmy sweets are known,
Nor kindly influence of the vernal ray.280
Beneath, the circling meadows cultur'd glow,
With yellow harvests, and with forests green,
The voice of festive mirth resounds below,
And smiling industry and joy are seen.
Oft in the transient beam of opening Heav'n285
The vallies brighten, and rejoicing sing,
While clouds and darkness to that step are driv'n
Where snows eternal mock the powerless Spring.
Thus am I doom'd the storm of fate to bear,
To woo the lightning, and the tempests rage,290
Condemn'd to Solitude perpetual, drear,
And grief which time itself can ne'er assuage.
Oh Albion! Oh my country! never more
Must those sad eyes review thy cherish'd land!
Hail with exulting heart thy distant shore,295
Or gaze impatient at thy whiten'd strand.
Might I but once behold the scenes of youth,
Ere Death the wretched exile's eyes shall close,
Remembrance sweet methinks awhile might sooth,
And lull my sorrows to a short repose.300
Vain Murmurer peace! for what can memory give,
What but must sting thee with redoubled smart?
In dark Oblivion let me silent love,
And drown the thoughts which agonize my heart!

Notes

[1] EDITOR'S NOTE: "Cleuen An Elegy" does not appear in Psyche, with Other Poems or Mary (or Collected Poems and Journals) and is not dated in Verses. I have not been able to locate a specific source for the tale Tighe tells in her elegy for Cleuen, alternately spelled Cluen or Clune or Cloone (also Clowen), a chieftain evidently buried in one of the distinctive rock mounds alongside the river Nore at Clonamery (where the ruins of Clune Castle and the Clune Church reside). BACK

[2] EDITOR'S NOTE: The Nore river flows past Kilkenny and Inistiogue (the location of Woodstock, William Tighe's estate). BACK

[3] EDITOR'S NOTE: Hymen is the Greek god of marriage. BACK

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