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Or some great Caravan, from well to well
Winding as darkness on the desert fell,
In their long march, such as the Prophet bids,
To Mecca from the Land of Pyramids,
And in an instant lost—a hollow wave
Of burning sand their everlasting grave !
Now the scene shifts to Venice—to a square
Glittering with light, all nations masking there,
With light reflected on the tremulous tide,
Where gondolas in gay confusion glide,
Answering the jest, the song on every side ;
To Naples next—and at the crowded gate,
Where Grief and Fear and wild Amazement wait,
Lo, on his back a Son brings in his Sire,
Vesuvius blazing like a World on fire!-
Then, at a sign that never was forgot,
A strain breaks forth (who hears and loves it not?)
From harp or organ! 'Tis at parting given,
That in their slumbers they may dream of Heaven;
Young voices mingling, as it floats along,
In Tuscan air or Handel's sacred song!
And She inspires, whose beauty shines in all ;
So soon to weave a daughter's coronal,
And at the nuptial rite smile through her tears ;-
So soon to hover round her full of fears,
And with assurance sweet her soul revive
In child-birth—when a mother's love is most alive!
No, 'tis not here that Solitude is known.
Through the wide world he only is alone
Who lives not for another. Come what will,
The generous man has his companion still ;
The cricket on his hearth; the buzzing fly,
That skims his roof, or, be his roof the sky,
Still with its note of gladness passes by :
And, in an iron cage condemned to dwell,
The cage that stands within the dungeon-cell,
He feeds his spider-happier at the worst
Than he at large who in himself is curst!
O thou all-eloquent, whose mighty mind,
Streams from the depth of ages on mankind,
Streams like the day—who, angel-like, hast shed
Thy full effulgence on the hoary head,
Speaking in Cato’s venerable voice,
“Look up, and faint not—faint not, but rejoice!
From thy Elysium guide him. Age has now
Stamped with its signet that ingenuous brow:
And, 'mid his old hereditary trees,
Trees he has climbed so oft, he sits and sees
His children's children playing round his knees :
Then happiest, youngest, when the quoit is flung,
When side by side the archers' bows are strung;
His to prescribe the place, adjudge the prize,
Envying no more the young their energies
Than they an old man when his words are wise;
His a delight how pure—without alloy;
Strong in their strength, rejoicing in their joy!
Now in their turn assisting, they repay The anxious cares of many and many a day; And now by those he loves relieved, restored, His very wants and weaknesses afford A feeling of enjoyment. In his walks, Leaning on them, how oft he stops and talks, While they look up! Their questions, their replies, Fresh as the welling waters, round him rise, Gladdening his spirit: and, his theme the past, How eloquent he is ! His thoughts flow fast; And, while his heart (oh, can the heart grow old ?
? False are the tales that in the World are told!)
Swells in his voice, he knows not where to end;
Like one discoursing of an absent friend.
But there are moments which he calls his own.
Then, never less alone than when alone,
Those that he loved so long and sees no more,
Loved and still loves—not dead—but gone before,
He gathers round him; and revives at will Scenes in his life—that breathe enchantment still, That come not now at dreary intervalsBut where a light as from the Blessed falls, A light such guests bring ever-pure and holyLapping the soul in sweetest melancholy ! -Ah then less willing (nor the choice condemn) To live with others than to think on them !
And now behold him up the hill ascending, Memory and Hope like evening-stars attending; Sustained, excited, till his course is run, By deeds of virtue done or to be done. When on his couch he sinks at length to rest, Those by his counsel saved, his power redressed, Those by the World shunned ever as unblest, At whom the rich man's dog growls from the gate, But whom he sought out, sitting desolate, Come and stand round—the widow with her child, As when she first forgot her tears and smiled! They, who watch by him, see not; but he sees, Sees and exults-Were ever dreams like these? They, who watch by him, hear not; but he hears, And Earth recedes, and Heaven itself appears!