« PreviousContinue »
That least of all can ought-that ever owned
The heaven-regarding eye and front sublime
Which man is born to-sink, howe'er depressed,
So low as to be scorned without a sin;
Without offence to God cast out of view;
Like the dry remnant of a garden-flower
Whose seeds are shed, or as an implement
Yet further. Many, I believe, there are Who live a life of virtuous decency, Men who can hear the Decalogue and feel No self-reproach; who of the moral law Established in the land where they abide Are strict observers; and not negligent
In acts of love to those with whom they dwell,
Worn out and worthless. While from door to door, Their kindred, and the children of their blood.
This old Man creeps, the villagers in him
Behold a record which together binds
Past deeds and offices of charity,
Else unremembered, and so keeps alive
The kindly mood in hearts which lapse of years,
And that half-wisdom half-experience gives,
Make slow to feel, and by sure steps resign
To selfishness and cold oblivious cares.
Among the farms and solitary huts,
Hamlets and thinly-scattered villages,
Where'er the aged Beggar takes his rounds,
The mild necessity of use compels
To acts of love; and habit does the work
Of reason; yet prepares that after-joy
Which reason cherishes. And thus the soul,
By that sweet taste of pleasure unpursued,
Doth find herself insensibly disposed
To virtue and true goodness.
By their good works exalted, lofty minds
And meditative, authors of delight
And happiness, which to the end of time
Will live, and spread, and kindle: even such minds
In childhood, from this solitary Being,
Or from like wanderer, haply have received
(A thing more precious far than all that books
Or the solicitudes of love can do!)
That first mild touch of sympathy and thought,
In which they found their kindred with a world
Where want and sorrow were. The easy man
Who sits at his own door,-and, like the pear
That overhangs his head from the green wall,
Feeds in the sunshine; the robust and young,
The prosperous and unthinking, they who live
Sheltered, and flourish in a little grove
Of their own kindred ;-all behold in him
A silent monitor, which on their minds
Must needs impress a transitory thought
Of self-congratulation, to the heart
Of each recalling his peculiar boons,
His charters and exemptions; and, perchance,
Though he to no one give the fortitude
And circumspection needful to preserve
His present blessings, and to husband up
The respite of the season, he, at least,
And 'tis no vulgar service, makes them felt.
Praise be to such, and to their slumbers peace!
-But of the poor man ask, the abject poor;
Go, and demand of him, if there be here
In this cold abstinence from evil deeds,
And these inevitable charities,
Wherewith to satisfy the human soul?
No-man is dear to man; the poorest poor
Long for some moments in a weary life
When they can know and feel that they have been,
Themselves, the fathers and the dealers-out
Of some small blessings; have been kind to such
As needed kindness, for this single cause,
That we have all of us one human heart.
-Such pleasure is to one kind Being known,
My neighbour, when with punctual care, each week
Duly as Friday comes, though pressed herself
By her own wants, she from her store of meal
Takes one unsparing handful for the scrip
Of this old Mendicant, and, from her door
Returning with exhilarated heart,
Sits by her fire, and builds her hope in heaven.
Then let him pass, a blessing on his head! And while in that vast solitude to which The tide of things has borne him, he appears To breathe and live but for himself alone, Unblamed, uninjured, let him bear about The good which the benignant law of Heaven Has hung around him: and, while life is his, Still let him prompt the unlettered villagers To tender offices and pensive thoughts. -Then let him pass, a blessing on his head! And, long as he can wander, let him breathe The freshness of the valleys; let his blood Struggle with frosty air and winter snows; And let the chartered wind that sweeps the heath Beat his grey locks against his withered face. Reverence the hope whose vital anxiousness Gives the last human interest to his heart. May never HOUSE, misnamed of INDUSTRY, Make him a captive!-for that pent-up din, Those life-consuming sounds that clog the air, Be his the natural silence of old age! Let him be free of mountain solitudes; And have around him, whether heard or not, The pleasant melody of woodland birds.
Few are his pleasures: if his eyes have now
Been doomed so long to settle upon earth
That not without some effort they behold
The countenance of the horizontal sun,
Rising or setting, let the light at least
Find a free entrance to their languid orbs.
And let him, where and when he will, sit down
Beneath the trees, or on a grassy bank
Of highway side, and with the little birds
Share his chance-gathered meal; and, finally,
As in the eye of Nature he has lived,
So in the eye of Nature let him die!
THE FARMER OF TILSBURY VALE.
"Tis not for the unfeeling, the falsely refined,
The squeamish in taste, and the narrow of mind,
And the small critic wielding his delicate pen,
That I sing of old Adam, the pride of old men.
He dwells in the centre of London's wide Town;
His staff is a sceptre-his grey hairs a crown;
And his bright eyes look brighter, set off by the
Of the unfaded rose that still blooms on his cheek.
For Adam was simple in thought; and the poor,
Familiar with him, made an inn of his door:
He gave them the best that he had; or, to say
What less may mislead you, they took it away.
Thus thirty smooth years did he thrive on his farm:
The Genius of plenty preserved him from harm:
At length, what to most is a season of sorrow,
His means are run out, he must beg, or must
To the neighbours he went, all were free with their money;
For his hive had so long been replenished with
That they dreamt not of dearth;-He continued his rounds,
Knocked here and knocked there, pounds still adding to pounds.
He paid what he could with his ill-gotten pelf,
And something, it might be, reserved for himself:
Then (what is too true) without hinting a word,
Turned his back on the country-and off like a bird.
You lift up your eyes!--but I guess that you frame
A judgment too harsh of the sin and the shame;
In him it was scarcely a business of art,
For this he did all in the ease of his heart.
'Mid the dews, in the sunshine of morn,-'mid the To London-a sad emigration I ween— joy
Of the fields, he collected that bloom, when a boy;
With his grey hairs he went from the brook and the green;
That countenance there fashioned, which, spite of And there, with small wealth but his legs and his a stain
That his life hath received, to the last will remain.
A Farmer he was; and his house far and near
Was the boast of the country for excellent cheer:
How oft have I heard in sweet Tilsbury Vale
Of the silver-rimmed horn whence he dealt his
Yet Adam was far as the farthest from ruin,
His fields seemed to know what their Master was
And turnips, and corn-land, and meadow, and lea,
All caught the infection-as generous as he.
Yet Adam prized little the feast and the bowl,-
The fields better suited the ease of his soul:
He strayed through the fields like an indolent wight,
The quiet of nature was Adam's delight.
As lonely he stood as a crow on the sands.
All trades, as need was, did old Adam assume,—
Served as stable-boy, errand-boy, porter, and groom;
But nature is gracious, necessity kind,
And, in spite of the shame that may lurk in his
He seems ten birthdays younger, is green and is
Twice as fast as before does his blood run about;
You would say that each hair of his beard was alive,
And his fingers are busy as bees in a hive.
For he's not like an Old Man that leisurely goes
About work that he knows, in a track that he knows;
But often his mind is compelled to demur,
And you guess that the more then his body must stir.
The One, yet unbreeched, is not three birthdays old, His Grandsire that age more than thirty times told; There are ninety good seasons of fair and foul weather
Between them, and both go a-pilfering together.
With chips is the carpenter strewing his floor? Is a cart-load of turf at an old woman's door? Old Daniel his hand to the treasure will slide! And his Grandson's as busy at work by his side.
Old Daniel begins; he stops short-and his eye, Through the lost look of dotage, is cunning and sly: "Tis a look which at this time is hardly his own, But tells a plain tale of the days that are flown.
He once had a heart which was moved by the wires Of manifold pleasures and many desires:
And what if he cherished his purse? "Twas no
Than treading a path trod by thousands before.
'Twas a path trod by thousands; but Daniel is one Who went something farther than others have gone, And now with old Daniel you see how it fares; You see to what end he has brought his grey hairs.
The pair sally forth hand in hand: ere the sun
Has peered o'er the beeches, their work is begun :
And yet, into whatever sin they may fall,
This child but half knows it, and that not at all.
They hunt through the streets with deliberate tread,
And each, in his turn, becomes leader or led;
And, wherever they carry their plots and their
Every face in the village is dimpled with smiles.
ANIMAL TRANQUILLITY AND DECAY.
THE little hedgerow birds,
That peck along the road, regard him not.
He travels on, and in his face, his step,
His gait, is one expression: every limb,
His look and bending figure, all bespeak
A man who does not move with pain, but moves
With thought. He is insensibly subdued
To settled quiet: he is one by whom
All effort seems forgotten; one to whom
Long patience hath such mild composure given,
That patience now doth seem a thing of which
He hath no need. He is by nature led
To peace so perfect that the young behold
With envy, what the Old Man hardly feels.
EPITAPHS AND ELEGIAC PIECES.
TRANSLATED FROM CHIABRERA.
WEEP not, beloved Friends! nor let the air
For me with sighs be troubled. Not from life
Have I been taken; this is genuine life
And this alone-the life which now I live
In peace eternal; where desire and joy
Together move in fellowship without end.—
Francesco Ceni after death enjoined
That thus his tomb should speak for him. And surely
Small cause there is for that fond wish of ours
Long to continue in this world; a world
That keeps not faith, nor yet can point a hope
To good, whereof itself is destitute.
PERHAPS Some needful service of the State
Drew TITUS from the depth of studious bowers,
And doomed him to contend in faithless courts,
Where gold determines between right and wrong.
Yet did at length his loyalty of heart,
And his pure native genius, lead him back
To wait upon the bright and gracious Muses,
Whom he had early loved. And not in vain
Such course he held! Bologna's learned schools
Were gladdened by the Sage's voice, and hung
With fondness on those sweet Nestorian strains.
There pleasure crowned his days; and all his
A roseate fragrance breathed. *- -O human life,
That never art secure from dolorous change!
Behold a high injunction suddenly
To Arno's side hath brought him, and he charmed
A Tuscan audience: but full soon was called
To the perpetual silence of the grave.
Mourn, Italy, the loss of him who stood
A Champion stedfast and invincible,
To quell the rage of literary War!
* Ivi vivea giocondo e i suoi pensieri
The Translator had not skill to come nearer to his original.
O THOU who movest onward with a mind
Intent upon thy way, pause, though in haste!
"Twill be no fruitless moment.
I was born
Within Savona's walls, of gentle blood.
On Tiber's banks my youth was dedicate
To sacred studies; and the Roman Shepherd
Gave to my charge Urbino's numerous flock.
Well did I watch, much laboured, nor had power
To escape from many and strange indignities;
Was smitten by the great ones of the world,
But did not fall; for Virtue braves all shocks,
Upon herself resting immoveably.
Me did a kindlier fortune then invite
To serve the glorious Henry, King of France,
And in his hands I saw a high reward
Stretched out for my acceptance,--but Death came.
Now, Reader, learn from this my fate, how false,
How treacherous to her promise, is the world;
And trust in God-to whose eternal doom
Must bend the sceptred Potentates of earth.
THERE never breathed a man who, when his life
Was closing, might not of that life relate
Toils long and hard.—The warrior will report
Of wounds, and bright swords flashing in the field,
And blast of trumpets. He who hath been doomed
To bow his forehead in the courts of kings,
Will tell of fraud and never-ceasing hate,
Envy and heart-inquietude, derived
From intricate cabals of treacherous friends.
I, who on shipboard lived from earliest youth,
Could represent the countenance horrible
Of the vexed waters, and the indignant rage
Of Auster and Boötes. Fifty years
Over the well-steered galleys did I rule :--
From huge Pelorus to the Atlantic pillars,
Rises no mountain to mine eyes unknown;
And the broad gulfs I traversed oft and oft
Of every cloud which in the heavens might stir
I knew the force; and hence the rough sea's pride
Availed not to my Vessel's overthrow.
What noble pomp and frequent have not I