Poems and Essays

by Joseph Howe



[At Lady Palmerston’s Soiree.]


      Lady, how eagerly I thread the maze
Of rank and beauty, ’till thy noble form
Stands full before me—’till at last I gaze,
In joy and thankfulness, to find the storm
That shook the fruit profusely, spared the tree;
  To realize my dreams of time and thee— [Page 143]
To find the eye still bright, the cheek still warm,
The regal outlines swelling, soft and free,
And lit by luminous thoughts, as I would have them be.
Unconscious thou, how, far beyond the wave,
  The lowest murmur of thy softest strain
In early life articulate music gave
To thousands, who, when agony and pain
Shook every tremulous string, yet sigh’d again,
That ever sorrow should the notes prolong.
  Unconscious thou, that ’midst the light and vain,
The Stranger turns him from the glittering throng,
In Mem’ry’s stores to hoard the graceful Child of Song.
How oft, in weariness, we turn away
From what we’ve sought, from picture, fane, or stream;
  But well dost thou the ling’ring glance repay
With full fruition of the fondest dream;
The light that o’er the billows used to beam,
Lodged in a stately tower. The minstrel’s smile
Is sweeter than her Song—the playful theme
  Of early genius, even less versatile
Than are the matron charms that Soul and Sense beguile.
The Maple, in our Woods, the frost doth crown
With more resplendent beauty than it wears
In early Spring. Its sweetness cometh down
  But when the Woodman’s stroke its bosom tears.
And thus, in spite of all my doubts and fears,
I joy to see thy ripened beauties glow [Page 144]
’Neath sorrow’s gentle touch that more endears;
To feel thy strains will all the sweeter flow
From that deep wound that did not lay thee low. [Page 145]

* Mrs. Norton was a Granddaughter of Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Aunt to the present Earl Dufferin. [back]