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Hymn before Sunrise in the Vale of Chamouni.
Hast thou a charm to stay the morning star
In his steep course? So long he seems to pause
On thy bald awful head, O sovran Blanc!
The Arve and Arveiron at thy base
Rave ceaselessly; but thou, most awful form!
Risest from forth thy silent sea of pines,
How silently! Around thee and above,
Deep is the air and dark, substantial, black,
An ebon mass; methinks thou piercest it,
As with a wedge! But when I look again,
It is thine own calm home, thy crystal shrine,
Thy habitation from eternity!
O dread and silent mount! I gazed upon thee,
Till thou, still present to the bodily sense,
Did'st vanish from my thought: entranced in prayer,
I worshipped the Invisible alone.
Ye ice-falls! ye that from the mountain's brow
Adown enormous ravines slope amain-
Torrents, methinks, that heard a mighty voice,
And stopped at once amid their maddest plunge!
Motionless torrents! silent cataracts!
Who made you glorious as the gates of heaven
Beneath the keen full moon? Who bade the sun
Clothe you with rainbows? Who, with living flowers
Of loveliest blue, spread garlands at your feet?
God! let the torrents, like a shout of nations,
Answer! and let the ice-plains echo, God!
God! sing ye meadow-streams with gladsome voice!
Ye pine groves, with your soft and soul-like sounds!
And they, too, have a voice, yon piles of snow,
And in their perilous fall shall thunder, God!
Ye living flowers that skirt the eternal frost ! Ye wild goats sporting round the eagle's nest! Ye eagles, playmates of the mountain storm! Ye lightnings, the dread arrows of the clouds! Ye signs and wonders of the element ! Utter forth God, and fill the hills with praise!
Once more, hoar mount! with thy sky-pointing peaks,
Oft from whose feet the avalanche, unheard,
Shoots downward, glittering through the pure serene,
Into the depth of clouds that veil thy breast-
Thou too, again, stupendous mountain! thou,
That as I raise my head, awhile bowed low
In adoration, upward from thy base,
Slow travelling with dim eyes suffused with tears,
Solemnly seemest, like a vapoury cloud,
To rise before me-Rise, O ever rise;
Rise, like a cloud of incense, from the earth!
Thou kingly spirit throned among the hills,
Thou dread ambassador from earth to heaven,
Great Hierarch! tell thou the silent sky,
And tell the stars, and tell yon rising sun,
Earth, with her thousand voices, praises God.
All thoughts, all passions, all delights,
Whatever stirs this mortal frame,
Are all but ministers of love,
And feed his sacred flame.
Oft in my waking dreams do I
Live o'er again that happy hour,
When midway on the mount I lay,
Beside the ruined tower.
The moonshine, stealing o'er the scene, Had blended with the lights of eve; And she was there, my hope, my joy, My own dear Genevieve!
She leaned against the armed man, The statue of the armed knight; She stood and listened to my lay Amid the lingering light.
Few sorrows hath she of her own,
My hope, my joy, my Genevieve!
She loves me best whene'er I sing
The songs that make her grieve.
I played a soft and doleful air,
I sang an old and moving story-
An old rude song that suited well
That ruin wild and hoary.
She listened with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes and modest grace;
For well she knew I could not choose
But gaze upon her face.
I told her of the knight that wore Upon his shield a burning brand; And that for ten long years he wooed The lady of the land.
I told her how he pined; and ah! The deep, the low, the pleading tone With which I sang another's love, Interpreted my own.
She listened with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes and modest grace;
And she forgave me that I gazed
Too fondly on her face.
But when I told the cruel scorn
Which crazed this bold and lovely knight,
And that he crossed the mountain-woods,
Nor rested day nor night;
But sometimes from the savage den,
And sometimes from the darksome shade,
And sometimes starting up at once,
In green and sunny glade,
There came and looked him in the face
An angel beautiful and bright;
And that he knew it was a fiend,
This miserable knight !
And that, unknowing what he did,
He leaped amid a murderous band,
And saved from outrage worse than death
The lady of the land;
And how she wept and clasped his knees,
And how she tended him in vain-
And ever strove to expiate
The scorn that crazed his brain.
And that she nursed him in a cave;
And how his madness went away,
When on the yellow forest leaves
A dying man he lay;
And this place our forefathers made for man!
This is the process of our love and wisdom
To each poor brother who offends against us-
Most innocent, perhaps-and what if guilty?
Is this the only cure? Merciful God!
Each pore and natural outlet shrivelled up
By ignorance and parching poverty,
His energies roll back upon his heart
And stagnate and corrupt, till, changed to poison,
They break on him like a loathsome plague-spot!
Then we call in our pampered mountebanks-
And this is their best cure! uncomforted
And friendless solitude, groaning and tears,
And savage faces at the clanking hour,
Seen through the steam and vapours of his dungeon
By the lamp's dismal twilight! So he lies
'Circled with evil, till his very soul
Unmoulds its essence, hopelessly deformed
By sights of evermore deformity!
With other ministrations thou, O Nature,
Healest thy wandering and distempered child :
Thou pourest on him thy soft influences,
Thy sunny hues, fair forms, and breathing sweets;
Thy melodies of woods, and winds, and waters;
Till he relent, and can no more endure
To be a jarring and a dissonant thing
Amid this general dance and minstrelsy;
But, bursting into tears, wins back his way,
His angry spirit healed and harmonised
By the benignant touch of love and beauty.
With tender gladness thus to look at thee,
And think that thou shalt learn far other lore,
And in far other scenes! For I was reared
In the great city, pent 'mid cloisters dim,
And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars.
But thou, my babe, shalt wander like a breeze
By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags
Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds,
Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores
And mountain crags: so shalt thou see and hear
The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible
Of that eternal language which thy God
Utters, who from eternity doth teach
Himself in all, and all things in himself.
Great universal teacher! he shall mould
Thy spirit, and, by giving, making it ask.
Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the evedrops fall,
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet moon.
Love, Hope, and Patience in Education.
O'er wayward childhood wouldst thou hold firm rule,
And sun thee in the light of happy faces;
Love, Hope, and Patience, these must be thy graces,
And in thine own heart let them first keep school.
For as old Atlas on his broad neck places
Heaven's starry globe, and there sustains it, so
Do these upbear the little world below
Of education-Patience, Love, and Hope.
Methinks I see them grouped in seemly show,
The straitened arms upraised, the palms aslope,
And robes that touching as adown they flow,
Distinctly blend, like snow embossed in snow.
O part them never! If Hope prostrate lie,
Love too will sink and die.
But Love is subtle, and doth proof derive
From her own life that Hope is yet alive;
And bending o'er, with soul-transfusing eyes,
And the soft murmurs of the mother dove,
Woos back the fleeting spirit, and half supplies;
Thus Love repays to Hope what Hope first gave to Love.
Yet haply there will come a weary day,
When overtasked at length
Both Love and Hope beneath the load give way.
Then with a statue's smile, a statue's strength,
Stands the mute sister, Patience, nothing loath,
And both supporting, does the work of both.
Youth and Age.
Verse, a breeze 'mid blossoms straying,
Where Hope clung feeding like a bee-
Both were mine! Life went a-Maying
With Nature, Hope, and Poesy,
When I was young!
When I was young? Ah, woful when !
Ah, for the change 'twixt now and then!
This breathing house not built with hands,
This body that does me grievous wrong,
O'er airy cliffs and glittering sands,
How lightly then it flashed along:
Like those trim skiffs, unknown of yore,
On winding lakes and rivers wide,
That ask no aid of sail or oar,
That fear no spite of wind or tide!
Nought cared this body for wind or weather,
When Youth and I lived in't together.
Flowers are lovely; Love is flower-like;
Friendship is a sheltering tree;
O! the joys that came down shower-like,
Of Friendship, Love, and Liberty,
Ere I was old!
Ere I was old! Ah, woful ere,
Which tells me Youth's no longer here!
O Youth! for years so many and sweet,
"Tis known that thou and I were one;
I'll think it but a fond conceit-
It cannot be that thou art gone!
Thy vesper-bell hath not yet tolled,
And thou wert aye a masker bold!
What strange disguise hast now put on,
To make believe that thou art gone?
I see these locks in silvery slips,
This drooping gait, this altered size;
But springtide blossoms on thy lips,
And tears take sunshine from thine eyes!
Life is but thought; so think I will
That Youth and I are housemates still.
considerable length and beauty. He has also published hymns and other poems. He prepared an edition of Pope's works, which, being attacked by Campbell in his Specimens of the Poets, led to a literary controversy, in which Lord Byron and others took a part. Bowles insisted strongly on descriptive poetry forming an indispensable part of the poetical character; every rock, every leaf, every diversity of hue in nature's variety.' Campbell, on the other hand, objected to this Dutch minuteness and perspicacity of colouring, and claimed for the poet (what Bowles never could have denied) nature, moral as well as external, the poetry of the passions, and the lights and shades of human manners. In reality, Pope occupied a middle position, inclining to the artificial side of life. Mr Bowles has outlived most of his poetical contemporaries, excepting Rogers. He was born at King's-Sutton, Northamptonshire, in the year 1762, and was educated first at Winchester school, and subsequently at Trinity college, Oxford. He has long held the rectory of Bremhill, in Wiltshire.
O Time! who know'st a lenient hand to lay
Softest on sorrow's wound, and slowly thence
(Lulling to sad repose the weary sense)
The faint pang stealest, unperceived, away;
On thee I rest my only hope at last,
And think when thou hast dried the bitter tear
That flows in vain o'er all my soul held dear,
I may look back on every sorrow past,
And meet life's peaceful evening with a smile-
As some lone bird, at day's departing hour,
Sings in the sunbeam of the transient shower,
Forgetful, though its wings are wet the while:
Yet, ah! how much must that poor heart endure
Which hopes from thee, and thee alone, a cure!
Winter Evening at Home.
Fair Moon! that at the chilly day's decline
Of sharp December, through my cottage pane
Dost lovely look, smiling, though in thy wane;
In thought, to scenes serene and still as thine,
Wanders my heart, whilst I by turns survey
Thee slowly wheeling on thy evening way;
And this my fire, whose dim, unequal light,
Just glimmering bids each shadowy image fall
Sombrous and strange upon the darkening wall,
Ere the clear tapers chase the deepening night!
Yet thy still orb, seen through the freezing haze,
Shines calm and clear without; and whilst I gaze,
I think around me in this twilight gloom,
I but remark mortality's sad doom;
Whilst hope and joy, cloudless and soft, appear
In the sweet beam that lights thy distant sphere.
Or turns his ear to every random song
Heard the green river's winding marge along,
The whilst each sense is steeped in still delight:
With such delight o'er all my heart I feel
Sweet Hope! thy fragrance pure and healing incense
[South American Scenery.]
Beneath aërial cliffs and glittering snows,
The rush-roof of an aged warrior rose,
Chief of the mountain tribes; high overhead,
The Andes, wild and desolate, were spread,
Where cold Sierras shot their icy spires,
And Chillan trailed its smoke and smouldering fires.
A glen beneath-a lonely spot of rest-
Hung, scarce discovered, like an eagle's nest.
Summer was in its prime; the parrot-flocks
Darkened the passing sunshine on the rocks;
The chrysomel and purple butterfly,
Amid the clear blue light, are wandering by;
The humming-bird, along the myrtle bowers,
With twinkling wing is spinning o'er the flowers;
The woodpecker is heard with busy bill,
The mock-bird sings-and all beside is still.
And look! the cataract that bursts so high,
As not to mar the deep tranquillity,
The tumult of its dashing fall suspends,
And, stealing drop by drop, in mist descends;
Through whose illumined spray and sprinkling dews,
Shine to the adverse sun the broken rainbow hues.
Checkering, with partial shade, the beams of noon,
And arching the gray rock with wild festoon,
Here, its gay network and fantastic twine,
The purple cogul threads from pine to pine,
And oft, as the fresh airs of morning breathe,
Dips its long tendrils in the stream beneath.
There, through the trunks, with moss and lichens white,
The sunshine darts its interrupted light,
And 'mid the cedar's darksome bough, illumes,
With instant touch, the lori's scarlet plumes.
Sun-Dial in a Churchyard.
So passes, silent o'er the dead, thy shade,
Brief Time! and hour by hour, and day by day, The pleasing pictures of the present fade,
And like a summer vapour steal away.
And have not they, who here forgotten lie
(Say, hoary chronicler of ages past),
Once marked thy shadow with delighted eye,
Nor thought it fled-how certain and how fast?
Since thou hast stood, and thus thy vigil kept,
Noting each hour, o'er mouldering stones beneath The pastor and his flock alike have slept,
And dust to dust' proclaimed the stride of death. Another race succeeds, and counts the hour,
Careless alike; the hour still seems to smile, As hope, and youth, and life, were in our power; So smiling, and so perishing the while.
I heard the village bells, with gladsome sound
(When to these scenes a stranger I drew near),
Proclaim the tidings of the village round,
While memory wept upon the good man's bier. Even so, when I am dead, shall the same bells Ring merrily when my brief days are gone;
As one who, long by wasting sickness worn,
Weary has watched the lingering night, and heard, While still the lapse of time thy shadow tells,
Heartless, the carol of the matin bird
And strangers gaze upon my humble stone!
Salute his lonely porch, now first at morn
Enough, if we may wait in calm content
Goes forth, leaving his melancholy bed;
He the green slope and level meadow views,
Delightful bathed in slow ascending dews;
Or marks the clouds that o'er the mountain's head,
In varying forms, fantastic wander white;
The hour that bears us to the silent sod;
Blameless improve the time that Heaven has lent,
And leave the issue to thy will, O God.
The Greenwich Pensioners.
When evening listened to the dripping oar,
Forgetting the loud city's ceaseless roar,
By the green banks, where Thames, with conscious
Reflects that stately structure on his side,
Within whose walls, as their long labours close,
The wanderers of the ocean find repose,
We wore in social ease the hours away,
The passing visit of a summer's day.
Whilst some to range the breezy hill are gone,
I lingered on the river's marge alone;
Mingled with groups of ancient sailors gray,
And watched the last bright sunshine steal away.
As thus I mused amidst the various train
Of toil-worn wanderers of the perilous main,
Two sailors-well I marked them (as the beam
Of parting day yet lingered on the stream,
And the sun sunk behind the shady reach)-
Hastened with tottering footsteps to the beach.
The one had lost a limb in Nile's dread fight;
Total eclipse had veiled the other's sight
For ever! As I drew more anxious near,
I stood intent, if they should speak, to hear;
But neither said a word! He who was blind
Stood as to feel the comfortable wind
That gently lifted his gray hair: his face
Seemed then of a faint smile to wear the trace.
The other fixed his gaze upon the light
Parting; and when the sun had vanished quite,
Methought a starting tear that Heaven might bless,
Unfelt, or felt with transient tenderness,
Came to his aged eyes, and touched his cheek!
And then, as meek and silent as before,
Back hand-in-hand they went, and left the shore.
As they departed through the unheeding crowd,
A caged bird sung from the casement loud;
And then I heard alone that blind man say,
'The music of the bird is sweet to-day!'
I said, 'O Heavenly Father! none may know
The cause these have for silence or for wo!'
Here they appear heart-stricken or resigned
Amidst the unheeding tumult of mankind.
There is a world, a pure unclouded clime,
Where there is neither grief, nor death, nor time!
Nor loss of friends! Perhaps, when yonder bell
Beat slow, and bade the dying day farewell,
Ere yet the glimmering landscape sunk to night,
They thought upon that world of distant light;
And when the blind man, lifting light his hair,
Felt the faint wind, he raised a warmer prayer;
Then sighed, as the blithe bird sung o'er his head,
'No morn will shine on me till I am dead!'
One of the most voluminous and learned authors of this period was ROBERT SOUTHEY, LL.D., the poet-laureate. A poet, scholar, antiquary, critic, and historian, Mr Southey wrote more than even Scott, and he is said to have burned more verses between his twentieth and thirtieth year than he published during his whole life. His time was entirely devoted to literature. Every day and hour had its appropriate and select task; his library was his world within which he was content to range, and his books were his most cherished and constant compamons. In one of his poems, he says
My days among the dead are passed; Around me I behold,
Where'er these casual eyes are cast
The mighty minds of old:
My never-failing friends are they
With whom I converse night and day.
It is melancholy to reflect, that for nearly three years preceding his death, Mr Southey sat among his books in hopeless vacuity of mind, the victim of disease. This distinguished author was a native of Bristol, the son of a respectable shopkeeper, and
was born on the 12th of August 1774. He was indebted to a maternal uncle for most of his education. Having passed with credit through Westminster school, he was, in 1792, entered of Baliol college, Oxford. His friends designed him for the church; but the poet became a Jacobin and Socinian, and his academic career was abruptly closed in 1794.
The same year he published a volume of poems in conjunction with Mr Robert Lovell, under the names of Moschus and Bion. About the same time he composed his poem of Wat Tyler, a revolutionary brochure, which was long afterwards published surreptitiously by a knavish bookseller to annoy its author. In my youth,' he says, 'when my stock of knowledge consisted of such an acquaintance with Greek and Roman history as is acquired in the course of a scholastic education; when my heart was full of poetry and romance, and Lucan and Akenside were at my tongue's end, I fell into the political opinions which the French revolution was then scattering throughout Europe; and following those opinions with ardour wherever they led, I soon perceived that inequalities of rank were a light evil compared to the inequalities of property, and those more fearful distinctions which the want of moral and intellectual
culture occasions between man and man. At that
time, and with those opinions, or rather feelings (for their root was in the heart, and not in the understanding), I wrote Wat Tyler,' as one who was impatient of all the oppressions that are done under the sun. The subject was injudiciously chosen, and it was treated, as might be expected, by a youth of twenty in such times, who regarded only one side of the question.' The poem, indeed, is a miserable production, and was harmless from its very inanity. Full of the same political sentiments and ardour, Southey composed his Joan of Arc, an epic poem, displaying fertility of language and boldness of imagination, but at the same time diffuse in style, and in many parts wild and incoherent. In imitation of Dante, the young poet conducted his heroine in a dream to the abodes of departed spirits, and dealt very freely with the murderers of mankind,' from Nimrod the mighty hunter, down to the hero conqueror of Agincourt