Fever sapped my very life-blood, frenzy fired my tortured brain,
And the friends who watched beside me, felt their lingering hopes were vain.
I was going —going from them, all unconscious of their fears ;
Hastening to the Silent Valley, deaf to moans and blind to tears.
But a change was wrought at midnight —the destroyer's hand was stayed,
And the frenzy and the fever fled, affrighted and dismayed.
And the dear ones who had trembled as I neared the mystic goal,
Spoke in glad, rejoicing whispers as light slumber held control ;
All, save one, the youngest —fairest— gentle friend of other years,
Who knelt reverently beside me, and returned her thanks with tears.
Since the sunny days of childhood we had known each other well,
And each fleeting year we numbered but increased love's magic spell ;
But, till sickness felled me, never did her acts of love divine
Seem to drop, like gems unnumbered, from a great exhaustless mine.
With a sister's sweet devotion would her young head o'er me bow,
As she bathed my cheeks with kisses, and with tear-drops dewed my brow,
Like a fond and gentle mother on her bosom lay my head,
And, in soft, endearing accents, speak of happy hours long fled.
When the dreadful dream was ended, when delirium's spell was broke,
When, with all an infant's weakness, I to consciousness awoke,
I could see the form of Emma round my darkened chamber glide,
And could hear her sweet voice breathing soothing whispers by my side
Not till stars were shining brightly in the blue sky overhead
Would she leave me to my slumbers with a Sibyl's noiseless tread,
Then, within the room adjoining, sat she with attentive ear,
Ready, at the slightest murmur, at my bedside to appear.
Well, one eve my eye had wandered from the bright and cheerful light
That came streaming through the doorway, to the wall so smooth and white,
When methought I heard a footfall ('twas not Emma's, I was sure)
Stepping lightly through the hall and pausing at the inner door.
It was opened —oh, so softly I could scarcely hear the sound ;
Had a human hand unclosed it, or were spirits stalking round ?
While I looked and thought and wondered, lo ! there glided from the hall,
With a stealthy tread, a shadow, and stood waiting on the wall.
'Twas as handsome as the 'photos' done by Emerson last week ;
Its two lips were slightly parted, as though just about to speak ;
And its eyes —I lost their color with their most bewitching flash,
Yet I saw it sported whiskers and a slightly-curled moustache ;
Then its nose was sharp and classic, —it was finely built and tall,
And a full round chin and forehead had this shadow on the wall.
Quick before my wondering vision did a second shadow glide ;
It excelled the air in fleetness till it reached the other's side.
Ah ! full well that face, that figure, and those graceful curls were known,
For, with sportive pencil, oft had I the self-same outline drawn.
And, so great was my amazement, I my voice could scarce suppress
When I saw these phantom figures meeting with a warm caress ;
And —my memory here grows faithless —I can only just recall
That I saw four lips of shadow meet upon the pictured wall.
When the pantomime was ended, I grew restless from surprise,
And, remembering not my weakness, I in vain essayed to rise ;
But the shadows heard my movement, and they fled before my gaze
With the swiftness of the lightning, choosing wisely different ways;
And when, in a moment after, bent a fair face o'er my bed,
Eyes were closed and breast was heaving: 'Sleeping sweetly,' Emma said;
Never dreamed she that the sleeper had been witness to it all,
Or, more truly, to the tableau of the shadows on the wall.
Often have I seen the substance of the shadow first since then,
And no nobler heart is numbered in the family of men.
He is worthy of his Emma, who, now standing by his side,
Does not note his beaming glance of mingled tenderness and pride.
With one hand upon his shoulder and the other clasped in mine,
She's been coaxing for a poem about ' Charles and Emmeline ;'
And I've quickly snatched my pencil for the first time to recall
To the twain the summer's eve I saw the shadows on the wall.
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.I would like to translate this poem