Charles Lamb (10 February 1775 – 27 December 1834 / London)
A Dramatic Fragment
All men are false, I think. The date of love
Is out, expired, its stories all grown stale,
O'erpast, forgotten, like an antique tale
Of Hero and Leander.'
All are not false. I knew a youth who died
For grief, because his Love proved so,
And married with another.
I saw him on the wedding-day,-
For he was present in the church that day,
In festive bravery decked,
As one that came to grace the ceremony,-
I marked him when the ring was given:
His Countenance never changed;
And, when the priest pronounced the marriage blessing,
He put a silent prayer up for the bride-
For so his moving lip interpreted.
He came invited to the marriage-feast
With the bride's friends,
And was the merriest of them all that day:
But they who knew him best called it feigned mirth;
And others said
He wore a smile like death upon his face.
His presence dashed all the beholders' mirth,
And he went away in tears.
What followed then?
He did not, as neglected suitors use,
Affect a life of solitude in shades,
In free discourse and sweet society
Among his friends who knew his gentle nature best.
Yet ever, when he smiled,
There was a mystery legible in his face;
But whoso saw him, said he was a man
Not long for this world-
And true it was; for even then
The silent love was feeding at his heart,
Of which he died;
Nor ever spoke word of reproach;
Only, he wished in death that his remains
Might find a poor grave in some spot not far
From his mistress' family vault-being the place
Where one day Anna should herself be laid.
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