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This poem was begun either during the publication of Clifton
Grove or shortly afterwards. Henry never laid aside the intention of completing it, and some of the detached parts were among his latest productions.
GENIUS of musings, who, the midnight hour
Wasting in woods or haunted forests wild,
Dost watch Orion in his arctic tower,
Thy dark eye fix'd as in some holy trance;
Or, when the volley'd lightenings cleave the air,
And Ruin gaunt bestrides the winged storm,
Sitt'st in some lonely watch-tower—where thy lamp,
Faint-blazing, strikes the fisher's eye from far,
And, 'mid the howl of elements, unmov'd
Dost ponder on the awful scene, and trace
The vast effect to its superior source,
Spirit attend my lowly benison!
For now I strike to themes of import high
The solitary lyre; and borne by thee
Above this narrow cell, I celebrate
The mysteries of Time!
Him who, august, Was ere these worlds were fashioned,—ere the sun Sprang from the east, or Lucifer display'd His glowing cresset in the arch of morn, Or Vesper guilded the serener eve. Yea, He had been for an eternity; Had swept unvarying from elernity The harp of desolation,---ere his tones, At God's command, assum'd a milder strain, And startled on his watch, in the vast deep, Chaos's sluggish sentry, and evok'd From the dark void the smiling universe,
Chain'd to the grovelling frailties of the flesh,
Mere mortal man, unpurged from earthly dross,
Cannot survey, with fix'd and steady eye,
The dim uncertain gulph, which now the muse,
Adventurous, would explore;--but dizzy grown,
He topples down the abyss.-If he would scan
The fearful chasm, and catch a transient glimpse
Of its unfathomable depths, that so
His mind may turn with double joy to God,
His only certainty and resting place;
He must put off a while this mortal vest,
And learn to follow, without giddiness,
To heights where all is vision, and surprise,
And vague conjecture:He must waste by night
The stúdious taper, far from all resort
Of crouds and folly, in some still retreat;
High on the beetling promontory's crest,
Or in the caves of the vast wilderness,
Where compass'd round with nature's wildest shapes,
He may be driven to centre all his thoughts
In the great architect, who lives confest
In rocks, and seas, and solitary wastes.
So has divine philosophy, with voice
Mild as the murmurs of the moonlight wave,
Tutor’d the heart of him, who now awakes,
Touching the cords of solemn minstrelsy,
His faint, neglected song-intent to snatch
Some vagrant blossom from the dangerous steep
Of poësy, a bloom of such an hue,
So sober, as may not unseemly suit
With Truth's severer brow; and one withal
So hardy as shall brave the passing wind
Of many winters,—rearing its meek head
In loveliness, when he who gather'd it
Is number'd with the generations gone.
Yet not to me hath God's good providence
Given studious leisure *, or unbroken thought,
Such as he owns, -a meditative man,
Who from the blush of morn to quiet eve
Ponders, or turns the page of wisdom o'er,
Far from the busy croud's tumultuous din;
From noise and wrangling far, and undisturb'd
With Mirth's unholy shouts. For me the day
* The author was then in an attorney's office.
Hath duties which require the vigorous hand
Of stedfast application, but which leave
No deep improving trace upon the mind.
But be the day another's;-let it pass!
The night's my own!—They cannot steal my night!
When Evening lights her folding-star on high,
I live and breathe, and in the sacred hours
Of quiet and repose my spirit flies,
Free as the morning, o'er the realms of space,
And mounts the skies, and imps her wing for heaven.
Hence do I love the sober-suited maid;
Hence Night's my friend, my mistress, and my theme,
And she shall aid me now to magnify
The night of ages,—now when the pale ray
Of star-light penetrates the studious gloom,
And at my window seated, while mankind
Are lock’d in sleep, I feel the freshening breeze
Of stillness blow, while, in her saddest stole,
Thought, like a wakeful vestal at her shrine,
Assumes her wonted sway.
Behold the world
Rests, and her tir'd inhabitants have paus'd
From trouble and turmoil. The widow now
Has ceas'd to weep, and her twin orphans lie
Lock'd in each arm, partakers of her rest.
The man of sorrow has forgot his woes;
The outcast that his head is shelterless,
His griefs unshar'd.—The mother tends no more
Her daughter's dying slumbers, but, surprised