The Young Captive

The Young Captive

Original Text

Toru Dutt, A Sheaf Gleaned in French Fields (London: C. Kegan Paul, 1880): 8-9. Internet Archive

2Without fear of the press, on vine branches lithe,
3    Through spring-tide the green clusters bloom.
4Is't strange, then, that I in my life's morning hour,
5Though troubles like clouds on the dark present lower,
6    Half-frighted shrink back from my doom ?
7Let the stern-hearted stoic run boldly on death!
8I -- I weep and I hope; to the north wind's chill breath
9    I bend, -- then erect is my form!
10If days there are bitter, there are days also sweet,
11Enjoyment unmixed where on earth may we meet?
12    What ocean has never a storm?
13Illusions the fairest assuage half my pain,
14The walls of a prison enclose me in vain,
15    The strong wings of hope bear me far;
16So escapes from the net of the fowler the bird,
17So darts he through ether, while his music is heard
18    Like showers of sweet sound from a star.
19Comes Death unto me? I sleep tranquil and calm.
20And Peace when I waken stands by with her balm.
21    Remorse is the offspring of crimes;
22My welcome each morning smiles forth in all eyes,
23My presence is here, to sad brows, a surprise
24    Which kindles to pleasure at times.
25The end of my journey seemed so far to my view;
26Of the elm-trees which border the long avenue,
27    The nearest are only past by;
28At the banquet of life I have barely sat down.
29My lips have but pressed the bright foaming crown
30    Of the wine in my cup bubbling high.
31I am only in spring, -- the harvest I'd see,
32From season to season like the sun I would be
33    Intent on completing my round;
34Shining bright in the garden, -- its honour and queen;
35As yet but the beams of the morning I've seen,
36    I wait for eve's stillness profound.
37O Death, thou canst wait; leave, leave me to dream,
38And strike at the hearts where Despair is supreme,
39    And Shame hails thy dart as a boon!
40For me, Pales has arbours unknown to the throngs,
41The world has delights, the Muses have songs,
42    I wish not to perish too soon.
43A prisoner myself, broken-hearted and crushed,
44From my heart to my lips all my sympathies rushed,
45    And my lyre from its slumbers awoke;
46At these sorrows, these wishes, of a captive, I heard,
47And to rhyme and to measure I married each word
48    As softly and simply she spoke.
49Should this song of my prison hereafter inspire
50Some student with leisure her name to inquire,
51    This answer at least may be given, --
52That grace marked her figure, her action, her speech,
53And such as lived near her, blameless might teach
54    That life is the best gift of heaven.


1] Captive: Aimée de Coigny, duchess of Fleury. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors
Ian Lancashire
Data entry: Sharine Leung
RPO Edition