Page images
PDF
EPUB

XXI.

COMPOSED IN ONE OF THE VALLEYS OF WESTMORE-
LAND, ON EASTER SUNDAY.

WITH each recurrence of this glorious morn
That saw the Saviour in his human frame
Rise from the dead, erewhile the Cottage-dame
Put on fresh raiment-till that hour unworn:
Domestic hands the home-bred wool had shorn,
And she who span it culled the daintiest fleece,
In thoughtful reverence to the Prince of Peace,
Whose temples bled beneath the platted thorn.
A blest estate when piety sublime

These humble props disdained not! O green dales!
Sad may I be who heard your sabbath chime
When Art's abused inventions were unknown;
Kind Nature's various wealth was all your own;
And benefits were weighed in Reason's scales!

XXIV.

FROM THE ITALIAN OF MICHAEL ANGELO.

1.

YES! hope may with my strong desire keep pace, And I be undeluded, unbetrayed;

For if of our affections none find grace

In sight of Heaven, then, wherefore hath God made
The world which we inhabit? Better plea
Love cannot have, than that in loving thee
Glory to that eternal Peace is paid,
Who such divinity to thee imparts

As hallows and makes pure all gentle hearts.
His hope is treacherous only whose love dies
With beauty, which is varying every hour;
But, in chaste hearts uninfluenced by the power
Of outward change, there blooms a deathless flower,
That breathes on earth the air of paradise.

XXII.

DECAY OF PIETY.

OFT have I seen, ere Time had ploughed my cheek,
Matrons and Sires-who, punctual to the call
Of their loved Church, on fast or festival
Through the long year the House of Prayer would
By Christmas snows, by visitation bleak [seek:
Of Easter winds, unscared, from hut or hall
They came to lowly bench or sculptured stall,
But with one fervour of devotion meek.

I see the places where they once were known,
And ask, surrounded even by kneeling crowds,
Is ancient Piety for ever flown?

Alas! even then they seemed like fleecy clouds
That, struggling through the western sky, have won
Their pensive light from a departed sun!

XXV.

FROM THE SAME.

II.

No mortal object did these eyes behold
When first they met the placid light of thine,
And my Soul felt her destiny divine,
And hope of endless peace in me grew bold:
Heaven-born, the Soul a heaven-ward course must
Beyond the visible world she soars to seek [hold;
(For what delights the sense is false and weak)
Ideal Form, the universal mould.

The wise man, I affirm, can find no rest
In that which perishes: nor will he lend
His heart to aught which doth on time depend.
'Tis sense, unbridled will, and not true love,
That kills the soul: love betters what is best,
Even here below, but more in heaven above.

XXIII.

COMPOSED ON THE EVE OF THE MARRIAGE OF A

FRIEND IN THE VALE OF GRASMERE, 1812. WHAT need of clamorous bells, or ribands gay, These humble nuptials to proclaim or grace? Angels of love, look down upon the place; Shed on the chosen vale a sun-bright day! Yet no proud gladness would the Bride display Even for such promise:-serious is her face, Modest her mien; and she, whose thoughts keep pace With gentleness, in that becoming way Will thank you. Faultless does the Maid appear; No disproportion in her soul, no strife: But, when the closer view of wedded life Hath shown that nothing human can be clear From frailty, for that insight may the Wife To her indulgent Lord become more dear.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

THE prayers I make will then be sweet indeed
If Thou the spirit give by which I pray:
My unassisted heart is barren clay,
That of its native self can nothing feed:
Of good and pious works thou art the seed,
That quickens only where thou say'st it may :
Unless Thou shew to us thine own true way
No man can find it: Father! Thou must lead.
Do Thou, then, breathe those thoughts into my mind
By which such virtue may in me be bred
That in thy holy footsteps I may tread;
The fetters of my tongue do Thou unbind,
That I may have the power to sing of thee,
And sound thy praises everlastingly.

XXVII.

SURPRISED by joy-impatient as the Wind

I turned to share the transport-Oh! with whom
But Thee, deep buried in the silent tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find?
Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind-
But how could I forget thee? Through what power,
Even for the least division of an hour,
Have I been so beguiled as to be blind

To my most grievous loss?-That thought's return
Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore,
Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn,
Knowing my heart's best treasure was no more;
That neither present time, nor years unborn
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

XXVIII.

I.

METHOUGHT I saw the footsteps of a throne Which mists and vapours from mine eyes did shroud

Nor view of who might sit thereon allowed;

But all the steps and ground about were strown With sights the ruefullest that flesh and bone Ever put on; a miserable crowd,

Sick, hale, old, young, who cried before that cloud,
"Thou art our king, O Death! to thee we groan."
Those steps I clomb; the mists before me gave
Smooth way; and I beheld the face of one
Sleeping alone within a mossy cave,

With her face up to heaven; that seemed to have
Pleasing remembrance of a thought foregone;
A lovely Beauty in a summer grave!

XXXI.

WHERE lies the Land to which yon Ship must go!
Fresh as a lark mounting at break of day,
Festively she puts forth in trim array;
Is she for tropic suns, or polar snow?

What boots the inquiry?—Neither friend nor foe
She cares for; let her travel where she may,
She finds familiar names, a beaten way
Ever before her, and a wind to blow.
Yet still I ask, what haven is her mark?
And, almost as it was when ships were rare,
(From time to time, like Pilgrims, here and there
Crossing the waters) doubt, and something dark,
Of the old Sea some reverential fear,

Is with me at thy farewell, joyous Bark!

XXIX.

NOVEMBER, 1836.

JI.

EVEN So for me a Vision sanctified

The sway of Death; long ere mine eyes had seen Thy countenance the still rapture of thy mien— When thou, dear Sister! wert become Death's No trace of pain or languor could abide [Bride: That change-age on thy brow was smoothed

thy cold

Wan cheek at once was privileged to unfold

A loveliness to living youth denied.

Oh! if within me hope should e'er decline,
The lamp of faith, lost Friend! too faintly burn;
Then may that heaven-revealing smile of thine,
The bright assurance, visibly return:
And let my spirit in that power divine
Rejoice, as, through that power, it ceased to mourn.

XXXII.

WITH Ships the sea was sprinkled far and nigh,
Like stars in heaven, and joyously it showed;
Some lying fast at anchor in the road,
Some veering up and down, one knew not why.
A goodly Vessel did I then espy
Come like a giant from a haven broad;
And lustily along the bay she strode,

Her tackling rich, and of apparel high.
This Ship was nought to me, nor I to her,
Yet I pursued her with a Lover's look;
This Ship to all the rest did I prefer:
When will she turn, and whither? She will brook
No tarrying; where She comes the winds must
stir:

On went She, and due north her journey took.

XXXIII.

THE world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon ;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for every thing, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.-Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

XXXVI.

TO THE MEMORY OF RAISLEY CALVERT.

CALVERT! it must not be unheard by them
Who may respect my name, that I to thee
Owed many years of early liberty.

This care was thine when sickness did condemn
Thy youth to hopeless wasting, root and stem-
That I, if frugal and severe, might stray
Where'er I liked; and finally array

My temples with the Muse's diadem.
Hence, if in freedom I have loved the truth;
If there be aught of pure, or good, or great,
In my past verse; or shall be, in the lays
Of higher mood, which now I meditate ;-
It gladdens me, O worthy, short-lived, Youth!
To think how much of this will be thy praise.

XXXIV.

A VOLANT Tribe of Bards on earth are found, Who, while the flattering Zephyrs round them play,

On 'coignes of vantage' hang their nests of clay;
How quickly from that aery hold unbound,
Dust for oblivion! To the solid ground
Of nature trusts the Mind that builds for aye;
Convinced that there, there only, she can lay
Secure foundations. As the year runs round,
Apart she toils within the chosen ring;
While the stars shine, or while day's purple eye
Is gently closing with the flowers of spring;
Where even the motion of an Angel's wing
Would interrupt the intense tranquillity
Of silent hills, and more than silent sky.

PART II.

I.

SCORN not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frowned,
Mindless of its just honours; with this key
Shakspeare unlocked his heart; the melody
Of this small lute gave ease to Petrarch's wound;
A thousand times this pipe did Tasso sound;
With it Camöens soothed an exile's grief;
The Sonnet glittered a gay myrtle leaf
Amid the cypress with which Dante crowned
His visionary brow: a glow-worm lamp,

It cheered mild Spenser, called from Faery-land
To struggle through dark ways; and, when a damp
Fell round the path of Milton, in his hand
The Thing became a trumpet; whence he blew
Soul-animating strains-alas, too few!

XXXV.

'WEAK is the will of Man, his judgment blind
'Remembrance persecutes, and Hope betrays;
‹ Heavy is woe ;—and joy, for human-kind,
A mournful thing, so transient is the blaze!'
Thus might he paint our lot of mortal days
Who wants the glorious faculty assigned
To elevate the more-than-reasoning Mind,
And colour life's dark cloud with orient rays.
Imagination is that sacred power,
Imagination lofty and refined:

'Tis hers to pluck the amaranthine flower
Of Faith, and round the Sufferer's temples bind
Wreaths that endure affliction's heaviest shower,
And do not shrink from sorrow's keenest wind.

II.

How sweet it is, when mother Fancy rocks
The wayward brain, to saunter through a wood!
An old place, full of many a lovely brood,
Tall trees, green arbours, and ground-flowers in
flocks;

And wild rose tip-toe upon hawthorn stocks,
Like a bold Girl, who plays her agile pranks
AtWakes and Fairs with wandering Mountebanks,-
When she stands cresting the Clown's head, and
The crowd beneath her. Verily I think, [mocks
Such place to me is sometimes like a dream
Or map of the whole world: thoughts, link by link,
Enter through ears and eyesight, with such gleam
Of all things, that at last in fear I shrink,
And leap at once from the delicious stream.

III.

TO B. R. HAYDON.

HIGH is our calling, Friend !-Creative Art
(Whether the instrument of words she use,
Or pencil pregnant with ethereal hues,)
Demands the service of a mind and heart,
Though sensitive, yet, in their weakest part,
Heroically fashioned to infuse

Faith in the whispers of the lonely Muse,
While the whole world seems adverse to desert.
And, oh! when Nature sinks, as oft she may,
Through long-lived pressure of obscure distress,
Still to be strenuous for the bright reward,
And in the soul admit of no decay,
Brook no continuance of weak-mindedness-
Great is the glory, for the strife is hard!

IV.

FROM the dark chambers of dejection freed,
Spurning the unprofitable yoke of care,
Rise, GILLIES, rise: the gales of youth shall bear
Thy genius forward like a wingèd steed.
Though bold Bellerophon (so Jove decreed
In wrath) fell headlong from the fields of air,
Yet a rich guerdon waits on minds that dare,
If aught be in them of immortal seed,
And reason govern that audacious flight
Which heaven-ward they direct. Then droop not
thou,

Erroneously renewing a sad vow

In the low dell 'mid Roslin's faded grove :
A cheerful life is what the Muses love,

A soaring spirit is their prime delight.

VI.

I WATCH, and long have watched, with calm regret
Yon slowly-sinking star-immortal Sire
(So might he seem) of all the glittering quire !
Blue ether still surrounds him-yet-and yet ;
But now the horizon's rocky parapet

Is reached, where, forfeiting his bright attire,
He burns-transmuted to a dusky fire-
Then pays submissively the appointed debt
To the flying moments, and is seen no more.
Angels and gods! We struggle with our fate,
While health, power, glory, from their height
decline,

Depressed; and then extinguished: and our state,
In this, how different, lost Star, from thine,
That no to-morrow shall our beams restore !

VII.

I HEARD (alas ! 't was only in a dream)
Strains which, as sage Antiquity believed,
By waking ears have sometimes been received
Wafted adown the wind from lake or stream;
A most melodious requiem, a supreme
And perfect harmony of notes, achieved
By a fair Swan on drowsy billows heaved,
O'er which her pinions shed a silver gleam.
For is she not the votary of Apollo?
And knows she not, singing as he inspires,
That bliss awaits her which the ungenial Hollow*
Of the dull earth partakes not, nor desires?
Mount, tuneful Bird, and join the immortal quires!
She soared-and I awoke, struggling in vain to
follow.

VIII.

V.

FAIR Prime of life! were it enough to gild
With ready sunbeams every straggling shower;
And, if an unexpected cloud should lower,
Swiftly thereon a rainbow arch to build
For Fancy's errands, then, from fields half-tilled
Gathering green weeds to mix with poppy flower,
Thee might thy Minions crown, and chant thy

power,

Unpitied by the wise, all censure stilled.
Ah! show that worthier honours are thy due;
Fair Prime of life! arouse the deeper heart;
Confirm the Spirit glorying to pursue
Some path of steep ascent and lofty aim;
And, if there be a joy that slights the claim
Of grateful memory, bid that joy depart.

RETIREMENT.

IF the whole weight of what we think and feel,
Save only far as thought and feeling blend
With action, were as nothing, patriot Friend!
From thy remonstrance would be no appeal ;
But to promote and fortify the weal

Of our own Being is her paramount end;
A truth which they alone shall comprehend
Who shun the mischief which they cannot heal.
Peace in these feverish times is sovereign bliss:
Here, with no thirst but what the stream can slake,
And startled only by the rustling brake,
Cool air I breathe; while the unincumbered Mind,
By some weak aims at services assigned
To gentle Natures, thanks not Heaven amiss.

See the Phædon of Plato, by which this Sonnet was suggested.

IX.

Nor Love, not War, nor the tumultuous swell
Of civil conflict, nor the wrecks of change,
Nor Duty struggling with afflictions strange-
Not these alone inspire the tuneful shell;
But where untroubled peace and concord dwell,
There also is the Muse not loth to range,
Watching the twilight smoke of cot or grange,
Skyward ascending from a woody dell.
Meek aspirations please her, lone endeavour,
And sage content, and placid melancholy;
She loves to gaze upon a crystal river-
Diaphanous because it travels slowly;
Soft is the music that would charm for ever;
The flower of sweetest smell is shy and lowly.

XII.

- they are of the sky,

And from our earthly memory fade away.'

THOSE words were uttered as in pensive mood
We turned, departing from that solemn sight:
A contrast and reproach to gross delight,
And life's unspiritual pleasures daily wooed!
But now upon this thought I cannot brood;
It is unstable as a dream of night;
Nor will I praise a cloud, however bright,
Disparaging Man's gifts, and proper food.
Grove, isle, with every shape of sky-built dome,
Though clad in colours beautiful and pure,
Find in the heart of man no natural home:
The immortal Mind craves objects that endure:
These cleave to it; from these it cannot roam,
Nor they from it: their fellowship is secure.

X.

MARK the concentred hazels that enclose
Yon old grey Stone, protected from the ray
Of noontide suns:-and even the beams that play
And glance, while wantonly the rough wind blows,
Are seldom free to touch the moss that grows
Upon that roof, amid embowering gloom,
The very image framing of a Tomb,

In which some ancient Chieftain finds repose
Among the lonely mountains.-Live, ye trees!
And thou, grey Stone, the pensive likeness keep
Of a dark chamber where the Mighty sleep:
For more than Fancy to the influence bends
When solitary Nature condescends

To mimic Time's forlorn humanities.

XIII.

SEPTEMBER, 1815.

WHILE not a leaf seems faded; while the fields,
With ripening harvest prodigally fair,

In brightest sunshine bask; this nipping air,
Sent from some distant clime where Winter wields
His icy scimitar, a foretaste yields

Of bitter change, and bids the flowers beware;
And whispers to the silent birds, “Prepare
Against the threatening foe your trustiest shields."
For me, who under kindlier laws belong
To Nature's tuneful quire, this rustling dry
Through leaves yet green, and yon crystalline sky,
Announce a season potent to renew,
Mid frost and snow, the instinctive joys of song,
And nobler cares than listless summer knew.

XI.

COMPOSED AFTER A JOURNEY ACROSS THE HAMBLETON
HILLS, YORKSHIRE.

DARK and more dark the shades of evening fell;
The wished-for point was reached-but at an hour
When little could be gained from that rich dower
Of prospect, whereof many thousands tell.
Yet did the glowing west with marvellous power
Salute us; there stood Indian citadel,
Temple of Greece, and minster with its tower
Substantially expressed—a place for bell
Or clock to toll from! Many a tempting isle,
With groves that never were imagined, lay
'Mid seas how steadfast! objects all for the eye
Of silent rapture; but we felt the while
We should forget them; they are of the sky,
And from our earthly memory fade away.

XIV.

NOVEMBER 1.

How clear, how keen, how marvellously bright The effluence from yon distant mountain's head, Which, strewn with snow smooth as the sky can

shed,

Shines like another sun-on mortal sight
Uprisen, as if to check approaching Night,
And all her twinkling stars. Who now would tread,
If so he might, yon mountain's glittering head-
Terrestrial, but a surface, by the flight
Of sad mortality's earth-sullying wing,
Unswept, unstained? Nor shall the aerial Powers
Dissolve that beauty, destined to endure,
White, radiant, spotless, exquisitely pure,
Through all vicissitudes, till genial Spring
Has filled the laughing vales with welcome flowers.

« PreviousContinue »