247. EBB to Septimus Moulton-Barrett
As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 2, 22–23
To dearest Septimus.
Feby 11 1827.
When my last song was said for thee,
Thy golden hair swept, long & free,
Around thee—& a dove-like tone
Was on thy voice—or Nature’s own—
And every word & phrase of thine
Went out in lispings infantine–
Thy small steps faultering round our hearth,
Thine e<…>eering in their mirth,
Blue e<…> like thine heart, seemed given
To be <…> full of Heaven!
Wert thou, in sooth, made up of glee,
When my last song was said for thee!
And now more months are finishëd
For thee another song is said:
Thy voice hath lost its cooing tone,
The lisping of thy words is gone,
Thy step treads firm—thine hair not flings,
Round thee, its length of golden rings–
They are depart—like all bright things!
Yet art thou, still, made up of glee—
When my now song is said for thee!–
Wisely & well responded they,
Who cut thy golden hair away,
What time I made the bootless prayer
That they should pause awhile, & spare.
They said “its sheen did less agree
With boyhood than with infancy.”
And thus I ween t’will soothly be!
Before the revel noise is done,
The revel lamps pale one by one!
Ay! Nature yearneth not to <…>
Crowned victims to life’s labor <…>
The mirth-efulgent eye appea<…>
Less sparkling—to make room to <…>
After the heart’s quick throbs depart,
We lose the freshness of the heart:
And after we have lost awhile
The rose o’ the lip, we lose its smile—
As Beauty could not bear to press
Near the death-pyre of Happiness!
Seemeth this but a sombre dream?
It hath more pleasant thoughts than seem!
The older a young tree doth grow,
The deeper shade it sheds below—
But makes the grass more green—the air
More fresh than had the sun been there!
And so our human life is found,
Albeit a shade come darker round:
For patient virtues, that their light
May shine to all men, want the night.
And holy Peace, unused to cope,
Sits meekly at the grave of Hope
Saying that “she is ris’n”.
Will <…>t at destiny,—
Tho’ <…>een & from thine heart,
The <…>tris light depart–
Tho <…>, & on thy brow,
Should lie a fiercer change than now—
Tho’ thou no more be made of glee,
When my next song is said for thee!
Publication: EBB, Prometheus Bound (1833), pp. 140–143.
Manuscript: Wellesley College.
1. His fifth birthday.
2. Water damage.