Ode On Melancholy

by


    No, no! go not to Lethe, neither twist
    Wolf’s-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
    Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kist
    By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
    Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
    Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be
    Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
    A partner in your sorrow’s mysteries;
    For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
    And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.

    But when the melancholy fit shall fall
    Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
    That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
    And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
    Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
    Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
    Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
    Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
    Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
    And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

    She dwells with Beauty, Beauty that must die;
    And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
    Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
    Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
    Ay, in the very temple of Delight
    Veil’d Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
    Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
    Can burst Joy’s grape against his palate fine;
    His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
    And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

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