I SHALL conclude the present, like the preceding volume, with a prosaic and poetic version of an Elegiac Ode by HALLER, on the death of his wife; a composition which is celebrated not less for its poetical merit than for that spirit of affection and grief by which it appears dilated. To the LAUREAT I am once more indebted for an ornament, to my volume. That he has caught the pathetic tone and the melancholy grace of the original, will be acknowledged, as it will be felt, by the reader of taste.
Shall I sing thy death, Marianne? What a theme! when my sighs interrupt my words, and one idea flies before the other! The pleasures thou didst bestow on me, now augment my sorrows; I open the wounds of a heart that yet bleeds; and thy death is renovated to me.
But my passion was too violent; thou didst merit it too well; and thine image is too deeply engraven on my soul, to permit me to be silent. The expressions of my love revivify in some degree my felicity; they afford me a tender recollection of our faithful union, as a remembrance thou wouldst have left to me.
These are not verses dictated by Wit; the artificial complaints of a poet; they are perturbed sighs, which escape from a heart not sufficient for its anguish. Yes, I am going to paint my troubled soul, affected by love and grief, that only occupied by the most distressful images, wanders in a labyrinth of affliction.
I see thee yet, such as thou didst expire. I approached thee, touched by the most lively despair. Thou didst call back thy last strength to express one word, which I yet asked from thee. O soul, fraught with the purest sentiments, thou didst only appear disturbed for my afflictions; thy Iast expressions were only those of love and tenderness; and thy last actions only those of resignation.
Whither shall I fly? Where shall I find in this country an asylum, which only offers to me objects of terror? This house, in which I lost thee; this sacred dome, in which repose thy ashes; these children—Ah! my blood shudders at the view of those tender images of thy beauty, whose artless voices call for their mother. Whither shall I fly? Why cannot I fly to thee?
Does not my heart owe thee the sincerest tears? Here thou hadst no other friend but me. It was I who snatched thee from the bosom of thy family; thou didst quit them to follow me; I deprived thee of a country where thou wert loved by relatives who cherished thee, to conduct thee, alas!—to the tomb!
In those sad adieus with which thy sister embraced thee, while the country gradually fading from our eyes, she lost our last glances; then with a softened kindness, mingled with a tender resignation, thou didst say, I depart with tranquillity; what can I regret? my Haller accompanies me.
Can I recollect without tears the day that united me to thee? Yet, even now, a softened pleasure mingles with my sorrows, and rapture with my affliction. How tenderly loved thy heart! That heart which could forget every thing, birth, beauty and wealth! and which, notwithstanding the avowal I made of my fortune, only considered me by my sentiments.
Soon thou didst resign thy youth and quitted the world to be entirely mine! Superior to ordinary virtue, thou wert only beautiful for me. Thy heart was alone attached to mine: careless of thy fate, thou wert alone troubled with my lightest sorrows, and enraptured with a glance that expressed content.
A will detached from the vanity of the world, and resigned to heaven; content, and a sweet tranquillity, that neither joy nor grief could disturb; wisdom in the education of thy children; a heart overflowing with tenderness, yet free from weakness; a heart made to soothe my sorrows; it is this which formed my pleasures, and forms my griefs.
And so I loved thee—more than my words told thee; more than the world could believe, more than I knew myself. How often, in embracing thee with ardour, has my heart thought, in shuddering, Ah! if I should lose her! How often have I wept in secret!
Yes, my grief will last, even when time shall have dried my tears; the heart knows other tears than those which cover the face. The first flame of my youth, the sadly-pleasing recollection of thy tenderness, the admiration of thy virtue, are an eternal debt for my heart.
In the depth of the thickest woods, under the green shade of the beech, where none will witness my complaints, I will seek for thy amiable image, and nothing shall distract my recollection. There I shall see thy graceful mien, thy sadness when I parted from thee, thy tenderness when I embraced thee, thy joy when I returned.
In the profound depths of the Empyreum I will follow thy steps in obscurity; I will seek for thee beyond the stars that roll beneath thy feet. It is there that thy innocence will shine in the splendour of celestial light; it is there that with a new strength thy soul shall enlarge its ancient boundaries.
It is there that, accustoming thyself to the light of the Divinity, thou findest thy felicity in its councils; and that thou minglest thy voice with the angelic choir, and a prayer in my favour. There thou learnest the utility of my affliction. God unfolds to thee the volume of fate; thou readest his designs in our separation, and the close of my career.
O soul of perfection! which I loved with such ardour, but which I think I loved not enough, how amiable art thou in the celestial splendour which environs thee! A lively hope elevates me; refuse not thyself to my vows; open thy arms, I fly to be united eternally with thee.