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The grace of parting Infancy

By blushes yet untamed;
Age faithful to the mother's knee,

Nor of her arms ashamed.

Two lovely Sisters, still and sweet
As flowers, stand side by side;
Their soul-subduing looks might cheat
The Christian of his pride:
Such beauty hath the Eternal poured

Upon them not forlorn,
Though of a lineage once abhorred,
Nor yet redeemed from scorn.

Mysterious safeguard, that, in spite
Of poverty and wrong,
Doth here preserve a living light,

From Hebrew fountains sprung;
That gives this ragged group to cast
Around the dell a gleam

Of Palestine, of glory past,
And proud Jerusalem!





Strict passage, through which sighs are brought,
And whispers for the heart, their slave;
And shrieks, that revel in abuse

Of shivering flesh; and warbled air,
Whose piercing sweetness can unloose
The chains of frenzy, or entice a smile
Into the ambush of despair;

Hosannas pealing down the long-drawn aisle,
And requiems answered by the pulse that beats
Devoutly, in life's last retreats!


The headlong streams and fountains
Serve Thee, invisible Spirit, with untired powers;
Cheering the wakeful tent on Syrian mountains,
They lull perchance ten thousand thousand flowers.
That roar, the prowling lion's Here I am,
How fearful to the desert wide!
That bleat, how tender! of the dam
Calling a straggler to her side.

Shout, cuckoo!-let the vernal soul
Go with thee to the frozen zone;

Toll from thy loftiest perch, lone bell-bird, toll!
At the still hour to Mercy dear,

Mercy from her twilight throne

Listening to nun's faint throb of holy fear,

To sailor's prayer breathed from a darkening sea,
Or widow's cottage-lullaby.

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The Ear addressed, as occupied by a spiritual functionary, Ye Voices, and ye Shadows
in communion with sounds, individual, or combined in
studied harmony.-Sources and effects of those sounds
(to the close of 6th Stanza).-The power of music,
whence proceeding, exemplified in the idiot.-Origin of
music, and its effect in early ages-how produced (to the
middle of 10th Stanza).-The mind recalled to sounds
acting casually and severally.-Wish uttered (11th
Stanza) that these could be united into a scheme or
system for moral interests and intellectual contempla-
tion.-(Stanza 12th). The Pythagorean theory of
numbers and music, with their supposed power over the
motions of the universe-imaginations consonant with
such a theory.-Wish expressed (in 11th Stanza) realised,
in some degree, by the representation of all sounds under
the form of thanksgiving to the Creator.-(Last Stanza)
the destruction of earth and the planetary system-the
survival of audible harmony, and its support in the
Divine Nature, as revealed in Holy Writ.

And Images of voice-to hound and horn
From rocky steep and rock-bestudded meadows
Flung back, and, in the sky's blue caves, reborn—
On with your pastime! till the church-tower bells
A greeting give of measured glee;
And milder echoes from their cells
Repeat the bridal symphony.
Then, or far earlier, let us rove

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Where mists are breaking up or gone,
And from aloft look down into a cove
Besprinkled with a careless quire,
Happy milk-maids, one by one
Scattering a ditty each to her desire,
A liquid concert matchless by nice Art,
A stream as if from one full heart.


Blest be the song that brightens

The blind man's gloom, exalts the veteran's mirth;
Unscorned the peasant's whistling breath, that


His duteous toil of furrowing the green earth.

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Who, from a martial pageant, spreads Incitements of a battle-day,

Oblivion may not cover


All treasures hoarded by the miser, Time.
Orphean Insight! truth's undaunted lover,
To the first leagues of tutored passion climb,
When Music deigned within this grosser sphere
Her subtle essence to enfold,

And voice and shell drew forth a tear
Softer than Nature's self could mould.

Yet strenuous was the infant Age:
Art, daring because souls could feel,

Thrilling the unweaponed crowd with plumeless Stirred nowhere but an urgent equipage


Even She whose Lydian airs inspire

Peaceful striving, gentle play

Of timid hope and innocent desire

Shot from the dancing Graces, as they move Fanned by the plausive wings of Love.


How oft along thy mazes,
Regent of sound, have dangerous Passions trod !
O Thou, through whom the temple rings with praises,
And blackening clouds in thunder speak of God,
Betray not by the cozenage of sense
Thy votaries, wooingly resigned

To a voluptuous influence

That taints the purer, better, mind;

But lead sick Fancy to a harp

That hath in noble tasks been tried;

And, if the virtuous feel a pang too sharp,
Soothe it into patience,-stay
The uplifted arm of Suicide;

And let some mood of thine in firm array
Knit every thought the impending issue needs,
Ere martyr burns, or patriot bleeds!


As Conscience, to the centre

Of being, smites with irresistible pain
So shall a solemn cadence, if it enter

The mouldy vaults of the dull idiot's brain,

Of rapt imagination sped her march
Through the realms of woe and weal:
Hell to the lyre bowed low; the upper arch
Rejoiced that clamorous spell and magic verse
Her wan disasters could disperse.


The GIFT to king Amphion

That walled a city with its melody
Was for belief no dream :-thy skill, Arion !
Could humanise the creatures of the sea,
Where men were monsters. A last grace he craves,
Leave for one chant ;-the dulcet sound
Steals from the deck o'er willing waves,
And listening dolphins gather round.
Self-cast, as with a desperate course,
'Mid that strange audience, he bestrides
A proud One docile as a managed horse;
And singing, while the accordant hand
Sweeps his harp, the Master rides ;

So shall he touch at length a friendly strand,
And he, with his preserver, shine star-bright
In memory, through silent night.


The pipe of Pan, to shepherds

Couched in the shadow of Mænalian pines,
Was passing sweet; the eyeballs of the leopards,
That in high triumph drew the Lord of vines,

How did they sparkle to the cymbal's clang!
While Fauns and Satyrs beat the ground
In cadence, and Silenus swang

This way and that, with wild-flowers crowned.
To life, to life give back thine ear:
Ye who are longing to be rid

Of fable, though to truth subservient, hear
The little sprinkling of cold earth that fell
Echoed from the coffin-lid;

The convict's summons in the steeple's knell ;
The vain distress-gun,' from a leeward shore,
Repeated-heard, and heard no more!

For terror, joy, or pity,


Vast is the compass and the swell of notes:
From the babe's first cry to voice of regal city,
Rolling a solemn sea-like bass, that floats
Far as the woodlands-with the trill to blend
Of that shy songstress, whose love-tale
Might tempt an angel to descend,
While hovering o'er the moonlight vale.

Ye wandering Utterances, has earth no scheme,
No scale of moral music-to unite
Powers that survive but in the faintest dream
Of memory? O that ye might stoop to bear
Chains, such precious chains of sight

As laboured minstrelsies through ages wear!
O for a balance fit the truth to tell
Of the Unsubstantial, pondered well!

By one pervading spirit


Of tones and numbers all things are controlled,
As sages taught, where faith was found to merit
Initiation in that mystery old.

The heavens, whose aspect makes our minds as still
As they themselves appear to be,
Innumerable voices fill

With everlasting harmony;

The towering headlands, crowned with mist,
Their feet among the billows, know

That Ocean is a mighty harmonist;
Thy pinions, universal Air,
Ever waving to and fro,

Are delegates of harmony, and bear

Strains that support the Seasons in their round; Stern Winter loves a dirge-like sound.


Break forth into thanksgiving,

Ye banded instruments of wind and chords;
Unite, to magnify the Ever-living,

Your inarticulate notes with the voice of words!
Nor hushed be service from the lowing mead,

Nor mute the forest hum of noon;

Thou too be heard, lone eagle! freed

From snowy peak and cloud, attune

Thy hungry barkings to the hymn
Of joy, that from her utmost walls
The six-days' Work, by flaming Seraphim
Transmits to Heaven! As Deep to Deep
Shouting through one valley calls,

All worlds, all natures, mood and measure keep
For praise and ceaseless gratulation, poured
Into the ear of God, their Lord!


A Voice to Light gave Being;

To Time, and Man his earth-born chronicler;
A Voice shall finish doubt and dim foreseeing,
And sweep away life's visionary stir;
The trumpet (we, intoxicate with pride,
Arm at its blast for deadly wars)

To archangelic lips applied,

The grave shall open, quench the stars.

O Silence! are Man's noisy years
No more than moments of thy life?

Is Harmony, blest queen of smiles and tears,
With her smooth tones and discords just,
Tempered into rapturous strife,

Thy destined bond-slave? No! though earth be dust
And vanish, though the heavens dissolve, her stay
Is in the WORD, that shall not pass away.


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The Tale of Peter Bell, which I now introduce to your notice, and to that of the Public, has, in its Manuscript state, nearly survived its minority:-for it first saw the light in the summer of 1798. During this long interval, pains have been taken at different times to make the production less unworthy of a favourable reception; or, rather, to fit it for filling permanently a station, however humble, in the Literature of our Country. This has, indeed, been the aim of all my endeavours in Poetry, which, you know, have been sufficiently laborious to prove that I deem the Art not lightly to be approached; and that the attainment of excellence in it, may laudably be made the principal object of intellectual pursuit by any man, who, with reasonable consideration of circumstances, has faith in his own impulses.

The Poem of Peter Bell, as the Prologue will show, was composed under a belief that the Imagination not only does not require for its exercise the intervention of supernatural agency, but that, though such agency be excluded, the faculty may be called forth as imperiously and for kindred results of pleasure, by incidents, within the compass of poetic probability, in the humblest departments of daily life. Since that Prologue was written, you have exhibited most splendid effects of judicious daring, in the opposite and usual course. Let this acknowledgment make my peace with the lovers of the supernatural; and I am persuaded it will be admitted, that to you, as a Master in that province of the art, the following Tale, whether from contrast or congruity, is not an unappropriate offering. Accept it, then, as a public testimony of affectionate admiration from one with whose name yours has been often coupled (to use your own words) for evil and for good; and believe me to be, with earnest wishes that life and health may be granted you to complete the many important works in which you are engaged, and with high respect,

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