Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century
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Alfred H. Miles, ed.  Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
 
Miscellaneous Poems.
IV. Juliet after the Masquerade
By Lætitia Elizabeth Maclean (1802–1838)
 
        
(From “The Literary Souvenir,” 1828.)
  
Those fond, vague dreams, that make love’s happiness
Its first—and oh, its last!

SHE has left the lighted hall,
She has flung down cap and plume,
Her eye wears softer light,
And her cheek a tenderer bloom:
 
And her hair in sunny showers        5
Falls o’er her marble brow,
From its midnight bonds of pearl,
Free as her thoughts are now.—
 
She has left the yet glad dance,
O’er those gentle thoughts to brood,        10
That haunt a girl’s first hour
Of love-touched solitude.
 
Music’s sweet and distant sound
Comes floating on the air,
From the banquet-room it tells        15
The dancers still are there:
 
But she, their loveliest one,
Has left the festal scene,
To dream on what may be,
To muse o’er what has been,        20
 
To think on low, soft words,
Her ear had drunk that night,
While her heart beat echo-like,
And her cheek burnt ruby bright.
 
How beautiful she looks        25
Beneath that moonlit sky,
With her lip of living rose,
Her blue and drooping eye!
 
Spell-like, the festal scene
Rises on heart and brain;        30
Not a word, and not a look,
But she lives them o’er again.
 
Well, dream thy dream, fair girl!
Tho’ ne’er did morning close,
With its cold and waking light,        35
Dreams fair and false as those:
 
They are like the mists that rise
At day-break to the sky,
There, touched by all bright hues,
On its breast awhile they lie;        40
 
But the darker hour draws on,
The rose-tint disappears,
And the falling cloud returns
To its native earth in tears.—
 
Yet dream thy dream, fair girl!        45
Tho’ away it will be driven,
’Tis something to have past
A single hour in heaven.
 
Tho’ thine eye has April light,
Tho’ thy cheek has April bloom        50
There is that upon them both
Which marks an early tomb.
 
So young, so fair, to die—
And can those words be true?
Ah! better far ‘to die,’        55
Than live as some must do;
 
With a heart that will not break,
Though every nerve be strained,
Whether won to be betrayed,
Or discovered and disdained:—        60
 
For Love to watch Hope’s grave,
And yet itself breathe on,
Like the blighted flower which lives,
Tho’ scent and bloom be gone.
 
But this watching each last leaf,        65
Green on the fading tree,
The while we see it wither,
Is maiden not for thee.
 
One hour of passionate joy,
And one of passionate grief—        70
A morning and a midnight—
Fill up thy life’s short leaf!
 
Short, sad, but still how much
Of death’s bitterness is past,
Thy last sigh breathed upon the heart,        75
Beating thine unto the last!
 
 
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