« PreviousContinue »
In Rome's great forum, who but hears him roll
His moral thunders o'er the subject soul ?
And hence that calm delight the portrait gives :
We gaze on every feature till it lives!
Still the fond lover sees the absent maid;
And the lost friend still lingers in his shade!
Say why the pensive widow loves to weep,
When on her knee she rocks her babe to sleep:
Tremblingly still, she lifts his veil to trace
The father's features in his infant face.
The hoary grandsire smiles the hour away,
Won by the raptures of a game at play;
He bends to meet each artless burst of joy,
Forgets his age, and acts again the boy.
What tho' the iron school of War erase Each milder virtue, and each softer grace; What tho' the fiend's torpedo-touch arrest Each gentler, finer impulse of the breast; Still shall this active principle preside, And wake the tear to Pity's self denied.
The intrepid Swiss, who guards a foreign shore, Condemned to climb his mountain-cliffs no more, If chance he hears the song so sweetly wild Which on those cliffs his infant hours beguiled, Melts at the long-lost scenes that round him rise, And sinks a martyr to repentant sighs.
Ask not if courts or camps dissolve the charm : Say why VESPASIAN loved his Sabine farm ;
Why great NAVARRE, when France and freedom bled,
Sought the lone limits of a forest-shed.
When DIOCLETIAN's self-corrected mind
The imperial fasces of a world resigned,
Say why we trace the labours of his spade,
In calm Salona’s philosophic shade.
Say, when contentious CHARLES renounced a throne,
To muse with monks unlettered and unknown,
What from his soul the parting tribute drew?
What claimed the sorrows of a last adieu ?
The still retreats that soothed his tranquil breast
Ere grandeur dazzled, and its cares oppressed.
Undamped by time, the generous Instinct glows
Far as Angola's sands, as Zembla's snows;
Glows in the tiger's den, the serpent's nest,
On every form of varied life imprest.
The social tribes its choicest influence hail :-
And when the drum beats briskly in the gale,
The war-worn courser charges at the sound,
And with young vigour wheels the pasture round.
Oft has the aged tenant of the vale
Leaned on his staff to lengthen out the tale;
Oft have his lips the grateful tribute breathed,
From sire to son with pious zeal bequeathed.
When o'er the blasted heath the day declined,
And on the scathed oak warred the winter-wind;
When not a distant taper's twinkling ray
Gleamed o'er the furze to light him on his way;
When not a sheep-bell soothed his listening ear,
And the big rain-drops told the tempest near;
Then did his horse the homeward track descry,
The track that shunned his sad, inquiring eye;
And win each wavering purpose to relent,
With warmth so mild, so gently violent,
That his charmed hand the careless rein resigned,
And doubts and terrors vanished from his mind.
Recall the traveller, whose altered form
Has borne the buffet of the mountain-storm;
And who will first his fond impatience meet?
His faithful dog's already at his feet!
Yes, tho' the porter spurn him from the door,
Tho' all, that knew him, know his face no more,
His faithful dog shall tell his joy to each,
With that mute eloquence which passes speech.-
And the master but returns to die!
Yet who shall bid the watchful servant fly?
The blasts of heaven, the drenching dews of earth,
The wanton insults of unfeeling mirth,
These, when to guard Misfortune's sacred grave,
Will firm Fidelity exult to brave.
Led by what chart, transports the timid dove The wreaths of conquest, or the vows of love ? Say, thro' the clouds what compass points her flight? Monarchs have gazed, and nations blessed the sight. Pile rocks on rocks, bid woods and mountains rise, Eclipse her native shades, her native skies :
'Tis vain! thro' Ether's pathless wilds she goes,
And lights at last where all her cares repose.
Sweet bird ! thy truth shall Harlem's walls attest,
And unborn ages consecrate thy nest.
When, with the silent energy of grief,
With looks that asked, yet dared not hope relief,
Want with her babes round generous Valour clung,
To wring the slow surrender from his tongue,
'Twas thine to animate her closing eye;
Alas ! 'twas thine perchance the first to die,
Crushed by her meagre hand, when welcomed from
Hark! the bee winds her small but mellow horn,
Blithe to salute the sunny smile of morn.
O’er thymy downs she bends her busy course,
And many a stream allures her to its source.
'Tis noon, 'tis night. That eye so finely wrought,
Beyond the search of sense, the soar of thought,
Now vainly asks the scenes she left behind;
Its orb so full, its vision so confined !
Who guides the patient pilgrim to her cell?
Who bids her soul with conscious triumph swell?
With conscious truth retrace the mazy clue
Of summer-scents, that charmed her as she flew ?
Hail, MEMORY, hail! thy universal reign
Guards the least link of Being's glorious chain.
Delle cose custode e dispensiera.