Who has not known Amata,1
And bowed him to her thrall,2
The despot of the drawing-room,3
The peerless of the ball ?4
Amata looked, and longed for5
Three seasons now or so,6
’Neath pertest hat the brightest face7
At noontide in the Row ?8
She moves in graceful glory by,9
She glistens through the dance,10
The cynosure of every wish,11
The aim of every glance,12
In such a light of loveliness13
As crushes to eclipse14
The sheen of wreathèd bandeaux,15
The swim of silken slips.16
The proudest forms bend round her17
In homage to her will ;18
Still she is woo’d Amata,19
Unwon Amata still.20
I wonder, in the dawning21
When she is borne away,22
And early sparrows chirp along23
Her partner’s homeward way,24
When he checks the music-memories25
To think of her between26
The refrain of “ Dinorah”27
And the ripple of “ Lurline,”—28
I wonder if a conscience smite29
That eligible swain,30
How wild his least ambition were,31
His lightest hope how vain !32
For, if I read Amata right,33
(I often think I do,)34
The curling of her dainty lip,35
The fair cheek’s changeless hue ;36
The listless hand on proffered arm,37
The guile of soft replies,38
With restless face averted39
To dazzle other eyes ;40
Ill is the augury I spell41
Of feeling or of force42
To train the tide of power and pride43
In love’s submissive course ;44
And dim, and dark, and doubtful45
Is figured to my view46
That future friendship loves to trace,47
Dear little girls, for you.48
On, on in bright procession49
The pretty votaries pass ;50
I read the fate of years to come51
In Fancy’s magic glass.52
On many a fold of soft brown hair53
And pure unfretted brow54
The matron’s tiar rests as light55
As girlhood’s roses now.56
Northward on some broad manor57
Fair Edith’s lot is set ;58
At Stanhope Gate some fortunate59
Has throned his sweet Annette ;60
Lucy, whose bloom is rather full,61
And Jane, who’s far too pale,62
Have flutter’d in the orange-wreath,63
And trembled ’neath the veil ;64
And bells peal high against the sky65
O’er street and silent plain,66
But I listen for thy wedding-chime,67
Amata, all in vain.68
Town lavishes its dusty charms,69
And Cowes its freshening sea ;70
Here Fashion spreads its parquets smooth,71
Its white decks there for thee ;72
And still before that costly shrine73
Heart, hand, and hope are laid ;—74
Unmelted still the haughty look,75
The tender word unsaid !76
Go, colder than the glacier,77
And loftier than the Alps78
Go, treasuring the bleeding hearts,79
As Indians treasure scalps !80
With freedom all so loveable,81
And flirting all so sweet,82
And myriad vassals to subdue,83
And myriad at thy feet,84
There must be—conquest’s current yet85
So silverly flows on86
There must be ample time to yield,87
And leisure to be won.—88
Not so, if truth the poet years89
In constant cadence sing,90
That Autumn’s fondest sunshine91
Unfolds no buds of Spring.92
He will not linger near us93
Neglected and content,94
The baby-boy from Paphos95
With bow for ever bent.96
We may not furl his pinion97
To serve us at our will,98
When all the happy lovelight pales99
And all the soul grows chill.100
Ah me, ah me ! a future101
Is drear upon my glass !102
I see the dimples deepening,103
I see the bright bloom pass ;104
See, one by one, how fickle youth105
Suffers, and wakes, and thinks,106
And breaks the rosy fetter,107
And casts aside the links.108
More laboured swells the toilette,109
More studied gleams the smile,110
Like moonlight on the tracery111
Of some forsaken pile.112
And comes the tide then freighted113
With worship now no more ?114
And is there mocking on the sea115
At mourning on the shore ?116
The supple knee has vanished,117
The pleading voice is mute,118
Unculled the flower of flattery,119
Unstrung the lover’s lute :120
And desolate Amata,121
Like some discrownèd queen,122
Sits sorrowing for the empire lost,123
And the glories that have been.124