Part 2 out of 5
 The constellation Delphinus. For authority for this appelation, see
Ovid's Fasti, B. xi. 113.
 This part of the Trent is commonly called "The Clifton Deeps."
 Germain is the traditionary name of her husband.
Genius of musings, who, the midnight hour
Wasting in woods or haunted forests wild,
Dost watch Orion in his arctic tower,
Thy dark eye fix'd as in some holy trance;
Or when the vollied lightnings cleave the air,
And Ruin gaunt bestrides the winged storm,
Sitt'st in some lonely watchtower, where thy lamp,
Faint blazing, strikes the fisher's eye from far,
And, 'mid the howl of elements, unmoved,
Dost ponder on the awful scene, and trace
The vast effect to its superior source,--
Spirit, attend my lowly benison!
For now I strike to themes of import high
The solitary lyre; and, borne by thee
Above this narrow cell, I celebrate
The mysteries of Time!
Him who, august,
Was e'er these worlds were fashion'd,--ere the sun
Sprang from the east, or Lucifer display'd
His glowing cresset in the arch of morn,
Or Vesper gilded the serener eve.
Yea, He had been for an eternity!
Had swept unvarying from eternity
The harp of desolation--ere his tones,
At God's command, assumed a milder strain,
And startled on his watch, in the vast deep,
Chaos's sluggish sentry, and evoked
From the dark void the smiling universe.
Chain'd to the groveling frailties of the flesh,
Mere mortal man, unpurged from earthly dross,
Cannot survey, with fix'd and steady eye,
The dim uncertain gulf, which now the muse,
Adventurous, would explore; but dizzy grown,
He topples down the abyss.--If he would scan
The fearful chasm, and catch a transient glimpse
Of its unfathomable depths, that so
His mind may turn with double joy to God,
His only certainty and resting place;
He must put off awhile this mortal vest,
And learn to follow, without giddiness,
To heights where all is vision, and surprise,
And vague conjecture.--He must waste by night
The studious taper, far from all resort
Of crowds and folly, in some still retreat;
High on the beetling promontory's crest,
Or in the caves of the vast wilderness,
Where, compass'd round with Nature's wildest shapes,
He may be driven to centre all his thoughts
In the great Architect, who lives confess'd
In rocks, and seas, and solitary wastes.
So has divine Philosophy, with voice
Mild as the murmurs of the moonlight wave,
Tutor'd the heart of him, who now awakes,
Touching the chords of solemn minstrelsy,
His faint, neglected song--intent to snatch
Some vagrant blossom from the dangerous steep
Of poesy, a bloom of such a hue,
So sober, as may not unseemly suit
With Truth's severer brow; and one withal
So hardy as shall brave the passing wind
Of many winters,--rearing its meek head
In loveliness, when he who gathered it
Is number'd with the generations gone.
Yet not to me hath God's good providence
Given studious leisure, or unbroken thought,
Such as he owns,--a meditative man;
Who from the blush of morn to quiet eve
Ponders, or turns the page of wisdom o'er,
Far from the busy crowd's tumultuous din:
From noise and wrangling far, and undisturb'd
With Mirth's unholy shouts. For me the day
Hath duties which require the vigorous hand
Of steadfast application, but which leave
No deep improving trace upon the mind.
But be the day another's;--let it pass!
The night's my own!--They cannot steal my night!
When evening lights her folding star on high,
I live and breathe; and in the sacred hours
Of quiet and repose my spirit flies,
Free as the morning, o'er the realms of space.
And mounts the skies, and imps her wing for Heaven.
Hence do I love the sober-suited maid;
Hence Night's my friend, my mistress, and my theme,
And she shall aid me now to magnify
The night of ages,--now when the pale ray
Of starlight penetrates the studious gloom,
And, at my window seated, while mankind
Are lock'd in sleep, I feel the freshening breeze
Of stillness blow, while, in her saddest stole,
Thought, like a wakeful vestal at her shrine,
Assumes her wonted sway.
Behold the world
Rests, and her tired inhabitants have paused
From trouble and turmoil. The widow now
Has ceased to weep, and her twin orphans lie
Lock'd in each arm, partakers of her rest.
The man of sorrow has forgot his woes;
The outcast that his head is shelterless,
His griefs unshared.--The mother tends no more
Her daughter's dying slumbers, but surprised
With heaviness, and sunk upon her couch,
Dreams of her bridals. Even the hectic, lull'd
On Death's lean arm to rest, in visions wrapp'd,
Crowning with Hope's bland wreath his shuddering nurse,
Poor victim! smiles.--Silence and deep repose
Reign o'er the nations; and the warning voice
Of Nature utters audibly within
The general moral:--tells us that repose,
Deathlike as this, but of far longer span,
Is coming on us--that the weary crowds,
Who now enjoy a temporary calm,
Shall soon taste lasting quiet, wrapp'd around
With grave clothes: and their aching restless heads
Mouldering in holes and corners unobserved,
Till the last trump shall break their sullen sleep.
Who needs a teacher to admonish him
That flesh is grass, that earthly things are mist?
What are our joys but dreams? and what our hopes
But goodly shadows in the summer cloud?
There's not a wind that blows but bears with it
Some rainbow promise:--Not a moment flies
But puts its sickle in the fields of life,
And mows its thousands, with their joys and cares.
'T is but as yesterday since on yon stars,
Which now I view, the Chaldee shepherd gazed
In his mid watch observant, and disposed
The twinkling hosts as fancy gave them shape.
Yet in the interim what mighty shocks
Have buffeted mankind--whole nations razed--
Cities made desolate--the polish'd sunk
To barbarism, and once barbaric states
Swaying the wand of science and of arts;
Illustrious deeds and memorable names
Blotted from record, and upon the tongue
Of gray Tradition, voluble no more.
Where are the heroes of the ages past?
Where the brave chieftains, where the mighty ones
Who flourish'd in the infancy of days?
All to the grave gone down. On their fallen fame
Exultant, mocking at the pride of man,
Sits grim Forgetfulness.--The warrior's arm
Lies nerveless on the pillow of its shame;
Hush'd is his stormy voice, and quench'd the blaze
Of his red eyeball.--Yesterday his name
Was mighty on the earth.--To-day--'t is what?
The meteor of the night of distant years,
That flash'd unnoticed, save by wrinkled eld,
Musing at midnight upon prophecies,
Who at her lonely lattice saw the gleam
Point to the mist-poised shroud, then quietly
Closed her pale lips, and lock'd the secret up
Safe in the enamel's treasures.
Oh how weak
Is mortal man! how trifling--how confined
His scope of vision! Puff'd with confidence,
His phrase grows big with immortality,
And he, poor insect of a summer's day!
Dreams of eternal honours to his name;
Of endless glory and perennial bays.
He idly reasons of eternity,
As of the train of ages,--when, alas!
Ten thousand thousand of his centuries
Are, in comparison, a little point
Too trivial for account.--O, it is strange,
'Tis passing strange, to mark his fallacies;
Behold him proudly view some pompous pile,
Whose high dome swells to emulate the skies,
And smile, and say, My name shall live with this
Till time shall be no more; while at his feet,
Yea, at his very feet, the crumbling dust
Of the fallen fabric of the other day
Preaches the solemn lesson.--He should know
That time must conquer; that the loudest blast
That ever fill'd Renown's obstreperous trump
Fades in the lapse of ages, and expires.
Who lies inhumed in the terrific gloom
Of the gigantic pyramid? or who
Rear'd its huge walls? Oblivion laughs, and says,
The prey is mine.--They sleep, and never more
Their names shall strike upon the ear of man,
Their memory burst its fetters.
Where is Rome?
She lives but in the tale of other times;
Her proud pavilions are the hermit's home,
And her long colonnades, her public walks,
Now faintly echo to the pilgrim's feet,
Who comes to muse in solitude, and trace,
Through the rank moss reveal'd, her honour'd dust.
But not to Rome alone has fate confined
The doom of ruin; cities numberless,
Tyre, Sidon, Carthage, Babylon, and Troy,
And rich Phoenicia--they are blotted out,
Half razed from memory, and their very name
And being in dispute.--Has Athens fallen?
Is polish'd Greece become the savage seat
Of ignorance and sloth? and shall we dare
* * * * *
And empire seeks another hemisphere.
Where now is Britain?--Where her laurel'd names.
Her palaces and halls? Dash'd in the dust.
Some second Vandal hath reduced her pride,
And with one big recoil hath thrown her back
To primitive barbarity.----Again,
Through her depopulated vales, the scream
Of bloody Superstition hollow rings,
And the scared native to the tempest howls
The yell of deprecation. O'er her marts,
Her crowded ports, broods Silence; and the cry
Of the low curlew, and the pensive dash
Of distant billows, breaks alone the void;
Even as the savage sits upon the stone
That marks where stood her capitols, and hears
The bittern booming in the weeds, he shrinks
From the dismaying solitude.--Her bards
Sing in a language that hath perished;
And their wild harps suspended o'er their graves,
Sigh to the desert winds a dying strain.
Meanwhile the Arts, in second infancy,
Rise in some distant clime, and then, perchance,
Some bold adventurer, fill'd with golden dreams,
Steering his bark through trackless solitudes,
Where, to his wandering thoughts, no daring prow
Hath ever ploughed before,--espies the cliffs
Of fallen Albion.--To the land unknown
He journeys joyful; and perhaps descries
Some vestige of her ancient stateliness:
Then he, with vain conjecture, fills his mind
Of the unheard-of race, which had arrived
At science in that solitary nook,
Far from the civil world; and sagely sighs,
And moralizes on the state of man.
Still on its march, unnoticed and unfelt,
Moves on our being. We do live and breathe,
And we are gone. The spoiler heeds us not.
We have our springtime and our rottenness;
And as we fall, another race succeeds,
To perish likewise.--Meanwhile Nature smiles--
The seasons run their round--The Sun fulfils
His annual course--and heaven and earth remain
Still changing, yet unchanged--still doom'd to feel
Endless mutation in perpetual rest.
Where are conceal'd the days which have elapsed?
Hid in the mighty cavern of the past,
They rise upon us only to appall,
By indistinct and half-glimpsed images,
Misty, gigantic, huge, obscure, remote.
Oh, it is fearful, on the midnight couch,
When the rude rushing winds forget to rave,
And the pale moon, that through the casement high
Surveys the sleepless muser, stamps the hour
Of utter silence, it is fearful then
To steer the mind, in deadly solitude.
Up the vague stream of probability;
To wind the mighty secrets of the past,
And turn the key of time!--Oh! who can strive
To comprehend the vast, the awful truth,
Of the eternity that hath gone by,
And not recoil from the dismaying sense
Of human impotence? The life of man
Is summ'd in birthdays and in sepulchres;
But the Eternal God had no beginning;
He hath no end. Time had been with him
For everlasting, ere the dredal world
Rose from the gulf in loveliness.--Like him
It knew no source, like him, 't was uncreate.
What is it then? The past Eternity!
We comprehend a future without end;
We feel it possible that even yon sun
May roll for ever: but we shrink amazed--
We stand aghast, when we reflect that time
Knew no commencement.--That heap age on age,
And million upon million, without end,
And we shall never span the void of days
That were and are not but in retrospect.
The Past is an unfathomable depth,
Beyond the span of thought; 'tis an elapse
Which hath no mensuration, but hath been
For ever and for ever.
Change of days
To us is sensible; and each revolve
Of the recording sun conducts us on
Further in life, and nearer to our goal.
Not so with Time,--mysterious chronicler,
He knoweth not mutation;--centuries
Are to his being as a day, and days
As centuries.--Time past, and Time to come,
Are always equal; when the world began
God had existed from eternity.
* * * * *
Now look on man
Myriads of ages hence.--Hath time elapsed?
Is he not standing in the selfsame place
Where once we stood?--The same eternity
Hath gone before him, and is yet to come;
His past is not of longer span than ours,
Though myriads of ages intervened;
For who can add to what has neither sum,
Nor bound, nor source, nor estimate, nor end?
Oh, who can compass the Almighty mind?
Who can unlock the secrets of the high?
In speculations of an altitude
Sublime as this, our reason stands confess'd
Foolish, and insignificant, and mean.
Who can apply the futile argument
Of finite beings to infinity?
He might as well compress the universe
Into the hollow compass of a gourd,
Scoop'd out by human art; or bid the whale
Drink up the sea it swims in!--Can the less
Contain the greater? or the dark obscure
Infold the glories of meridian day?
What does philosophy impart to man
But undiscovered wonders?--Let her soar
Even to her proudest heights--to where she caught
The soul of Newton and of Socrates,
She but extends the scope of wild amaze
And admiration. All her lessons end
In wider views of God's unfathom'd depths.
Lo! the unletter'd hind, who never knew
To raise his mind excursive to the heights
Of abstract contemplation, as he sits
On the green hillock by the hedge-row side,
What time the insect swarms are murmuring,
And marks, in silent thought, the broken clouds
That fringe with loveliest hues the evening sky,
Feels in his soul the hand of Nature rouse
The thrill of gratitude, to him who form'd
The goodly prospect; he beholds the God
Throned in the west, and his reposing ear
Hears sounds angelic in the fitful breeze
That floats through neighbouring copse or fairy brake,
Or lingers playful on the haunted stream.
Go with the cotter to his winter fire,
Where o'er the moors the loud blast whistles shrill,
And the hoarse ban-dog bays the icy moon;
Mark with what awe he lists the wild uproar.
Silent, and big with thought; and hear him bless
The God that rides on the tempestuous clouds,
For his snug hearth, and all his little joys:
Hear him compare his happier lot with his
Who bends his way across the wintry wolds,
A poor night traveller, while the dismal snow
Beats in his face, and, dubious of his path,
He stops, and thinks, in every lengthening blast,
He hears some village mastiff's distant howl,
And sees, far streaming, some lone cottage light;
Then, undeceived, upturns his streaming eyes,
And clasps his shivering hands; or overpowered,
Sinks on the frozen ground, weigh'd down with sleep,
From which the hapless wretch shall never wake.
Thus the poor rustic warms his heart with praise
And glowing gratitude,--he turns to bless,
With honest warmth, his Maker and his God!
And shall it e'er be said, that a poor hind,
Nursed in the lap of Ignorance, and bred
In want and labour, glows with nobler zeal
To laud his Maker's attributes, while he
Whom starry Science in her cradle rock'd,
And Castaly enchasten'd with his dews,
Closes his eyes upon the holy word,
And, blind to all but arrogance and pride,
Dares to declare his infidelity,
And openly contemn the Lord of Hosts?
What is philosophy, if it impart
Irreverence for the Deity, or teach
A mortal man to set his judgment up
Against his Maker's will? The Polygar,
Who kneels to sun or moon, compared with him
Who thus perverts the talents he enjoys,
Is the most bless'd of men! Oh! I would walk
A weary journey, to the furthest verge
Of the big world, to kiss that good man's hand,
Who, in the blaze of wisdom and of art,
Preserves a lowly mind; and to his God,
Feeling the sense of his own littleness,
Is as a child in meek simplicity!
What is the pomp of learning? the parade
Of letters and of tongues? e'en as the mists
Of the gray morn before the rising sun,
That pass away and perish.
Are but the transient pageants of an hour;
And earthly pride is like the passing flower,
That springs to fall, and blossoms but to die.
'T is as the tower erected on a cloud,
Baseless and silly as the schoolboy's dream.
Ages and epochs that destroy our pride,
And then record its downfall, what are they
But the poor creatures of man's teeming brain?
Hath Heaven its ages? or doth Heaven preserve
Its stated eras? Doth the Omnipotent
Hear of to-morrows or of yesterdays?
There is to God nor future nor a past;
Throned in his might, all times to him are present;
He hath no lapse, no past, no time to come;
He sees before him one eternal now.
Time moveth not!--our being 't is that moves;
And we, swift gliding down life's rapid stream,
Dream of swift ages and revolving years,
Ordain'd to chronicle our passing days:
So the young sailor in the gallant bark,
Scudding before the wind, beholds the coast
Receding from his eyes, and thinks the while,
Struck with amaze, that he is motionless,
And that the land is sailing.
Are the illusions of this proteus life!
All, all is false: through every phasis still
'T is shadowy and deceitful. It assumes
The semblances of things and specious shapes;
But the lost traveller might as soon rely
On the evasive spirit of the marsh,
Whose lantern beams, and vanishes, and flits,
O'er bog, and rock, and pit, and hollow way,
As we on its appearances.
There is no certainty nor stable hope.
As well the weary mariner, whose bark
Is toss'd beyond Cimmerian Bosphorus,
Where storm and darkness hold their drear domain,
And sunbeams never penetrate, might trust
To expectation of serener skies,
And linger in the very jaws of death,
Because some peevish cloud were opening,
Or the loud storm had bated in its rage;
As we look forward in this vale of tears
To permanent delight--from some slight glimpse
Of shadowy, unsubstantial happiness.
The good man's hope is laid far, far beyond
The sway of tempests, or the furious sweep
Of mortal desolation.--He beholds
Unapprehensive, the gigantic stride
Of rampant Ruin, or the unstable waves
Of dark Vicissitude.--Even in death,--
In that dread hour, when, with a giant pang,
Tearing the tender fibres of the heart,
The immortal spirit struggles to be free,
Then, even then, that hope forsakes him not,
For it exists beyond the narrow verge
Of the cold sepulchre. The petty joys
Of fleeting life indignantly it spurn'd,
And rested on the bosom of its God.
This is man's only reasonable hope;
And 't is a hope which, cherish'd in the breast,
Shall not be disappointed. Even he,
The Holy One--Almighty--who elanced
The rolling world along its airy way,
Even He will deign to smile upon the good,
And welcome him to these celestial seats,
Where joy and gladness hold their changeless reign.
Thou, proud man, look upon yon starry vault,
Survey the countless gems which richly stud
The night's imperial chariot;--Telescopes
Will show thee myriads more innumerous
Than the sea sand;--each of those little lamps
Is the great source of light, the central sun
Round which some other mighty sisterhood
Of planets travel, every planet stock'd
With Hying beings impotent as thee.
Now, proud man! now, where is thy greatness fled?
What art thou in the scale of universe?
Less, less than nothing!--Yet of thee the God
Who built this wondrous frame of worlds is careful,
As well as of the mendicant who begs
The leavings of thy table. And shalt thou
Lift up thy thankless spirit, and contemn
His heavenly providence! Deluded fool,
Even now the thunderbolt is wing'd with death,
Even now thou totterest on the brink of hell.
How insignificant is mortal man,
Bound to the hasty pinions of an hour!
How poor, how trivial in the vast conceit
Of infinite duration, boundless space!
God of the universe! Almighty One!
Thou who dost walk upon the winged winds,
Or with the storm, thy rugged charioteer,
Swift and impetuous as the northern blast,
Ridest from pole to pole; Thou who dost hold
The forked lightnings in thine awful grasp,
And reignest in the earthquake, when thy wrath
Goes down towards erring man, I would address
To thee my parting pæan; for of Thee,
Great beyond comprehension, who thyself
Art Time and Space, sublime Infinitude,
Of Thee has been my song!--With awe I kneel
Trembling before the footstool of thy state,
My God!--my Father!--I will sing to thee
A hymn of laud, a solemn canticle,
Ere on the cypress wreath, which overshades
The throne of Death, I hang my mournful lyre,
And give its wild strings to the desert gale.
Rise, Son of Salem! rise, and join the strain,
Sweep to accordant tones thy tuneful harp,
And, leaving vain laments, arouse thy soul
To exultation. Sing hosanna, sing,
And halleluiah, for the Lord is great,
And full of mercy! He has thought of man;
Yea, compass'd round with countless worlds, has thought
Of us poor worms, that batten in the dews
Of morn, and perish ere the noonday sun.
Sing to the Lord, for he is merciful:
He gave the Nubian lion but to live,
To rage its hour, and perish; but on man
He lavish'd immortality and Heaven.
The eagle falls from her aërial tower,
And mingles with irrevocable dust:
But man from death springs joyful,
Springs up to life and to eternity.
Oh, that, insensate of the favouring boon,
The great exclusive privilege bestow'd
On us unworthy trifles, men should dare
To treat with slight regard the proffer'd Heaven,
And urge the lenient, but All-Just, to swear
In wrath, "They shall not enter in my rest."
Might I address the supplicative strain
To thy high footstool, I would pray that thou
Wouldst pity the deluded wanderers,
And fold them, ere they perish, in thy flock.
Yea, I would bid thee pity them, through Him,
Thy well beloved, who, upon the cross,
Bled a dread sacrifice for human sin,
And paid, with bitter agony, the debt
Of primitive transgression.
Oh! I shrink,
My very soul doth shrink, when I reflect
That the time hastens, when, in vengeance clothed,
Thou shalt come down to stamp the seal of fate
On erring mortal man. Thy chariot wheels
Then shall rebound to earth's remotest caves,
And stormy Ocean from his bed shall start
At the appalling summons. Oh I how dread,
On the dark eye of miserable man,
Chasing his sins in secrecy and gloom,
Will burst the effulgence of the opening Heaven;
When to the brazen trumpet's deafening roar
Thou and thy dazzling cohorts shall descend,
Proclaiming the fulfilment of the word!
The dead shall start astonish'd from their sleep!
The sepulchres shall groan and yield their prey,
The bellowing floods shall disembogue their charge
Of human victims. From the farthest nook
Of the wide world shall troop the risen souls,
From him whose bones are bleaching in the waste
Of polar solitudes, or him whose corpse,
Whelm'd in the loud Atlantic's vexed tides,
Is wash'd on some Caribbean prominence,
To the lone tenant of some secret cell
In the Pacific's vast ... realm,
Where never plummet's sound was heard to part
The wilderness of water; they shall come
To greet the solemn advent of the Judge.
Thou first shalt summon the elected saints
To their apportion'd Heaven! and thy Son,
At thy right hand, shall smile with conscious joy
On all his past distresses, when for them
He bore humanity's severest pangs.
Then shalt thou seize the avenging scimitar,
And, with a roar as loud and horrible
As the stern earthquake's monitory voice,
The wicked shall be driven to their abode,
Down the immitigable gulf, to wail
And gnash their teeth in endless agony.
* * * * *
Rear thou aloft thy standard.--Spirit, rear
Thy flag on high!--Invincible, and throned
In unparticipated might. Behold
Earth's proudest boasts, beneath thy silent sway,
Sweep headlong to destruction, thou the while,
Unmoved and heedless, thou dost hear the rush
Of mighty generations, as they pass
To the broad gulf of ruin, and dost stamp
Thy signet on them, and they rise no more.
Who shall contend with Time--unvanquish'd Time,
The conqueror of conquerors, and lord
Of desolation?--Lo! the shadows fly,
The hours and days, and years and centuries,
They fly, they fly, and nations rise and fall,
The young are old, the old are in their graves.
Heard'st thou that shout? It rent the vaulted skies;
It was the voice of people,--mighty crowds,--
Again! 't is hushed--Time speaks, and all is hush'd;
In the vast multitude now reigns alone
Unruffled solitude. They all are still;
All--yea, the whole--the incalculable mass,
Still as the ground that clasps their cold remains.
Rear thou aloft thy standard.--Spirit, rear
Thy flag on high, and glory in thy strength.
But do thou know the season yet shall come,
When from its base thine adamantine throne
Shall tumble; when thine arm shall cease to strike,
Thy voice forget its petrifying power;
When saints shall shout, and Time shall be no more.
Yea, he doth come--the mighty champion comes,
Whose potent spear shall give thee thy death wound,
Shall crush the conqueror of conquerors,
And desolate stern Desolation's lord.
Lo! where he cometh! the Messiah comes!
The King! the Comforter! the Christ!--He comes
To burst the bonds of Death, and overturn
The power of Time.--Hark! the trumpet's blast
Rings o'er the heavens! They rise, the myriads rise--
Even from their graves they spring, and burst the chains
Of torpor,--He has ransom'd them,...
Forgotten generations live again,
Assume the bodily shapes they own'd of old,
Beyond the flood:--the righteous of their times
Embrace and weep, they weep the tears of joy.
The sainted mother wakes, and in her lap
Clasps her dear babe, the partner of her grave,
And heritor with her of Heaven,--a flower,
Wash'd by the blood of Jesus from the stain
Of native guilt, even in its early bud.
And, hark! those strains, how solemnly serene
They fall, as from the skies--at distance fall--
Again more loud--the halleluiahs swell;
The newly risen catch the joyful sound;
They glow, they burn; and now with one accord
Bursts forth sublime from every mouth the song
Of praise to God on high, and to the Lamb
Who bled for mortals.
* * * * *
Yet there is peace for man.--Yea, there is peace
Even in this noisy, this unsettled scene;
When from the crowd, and from the city far,
Haply he may be set (in his late walk
O'ertaken with deep thought) beneath the boughs
Of honeysuckle, when the sun is gone,
And with fix'd eye, and wistful, he surveys
The solemn shadows of the Heavens sail,
And thinks the season yet shall come, when Time
Will waft him to repose, to deep repose,
Far from the unquietness of life--from noise
And tumult far--beyond the flying clouds,
Beyond the stars, and all this passing scene,
Where change shall cease, and Time shall be no more.
* * * * *
 This Poem was begun either during the publication of Clifton Grove, or
shortly afterwards, but never completed: some of the detached parts were
among his latest productions.
 The Author was then in an attorney's office.
 Alluding to the first astronomical observations made by the Chaldean
Pictured in memory's mellowing glass, how sweet
Our infant days, our infant joys, to greet;
To roam in fancy in each cherish'd scene,
The village churchyard, and the village green,
The woodland walk remote, the greenwood glade,
The mossy seat beneath the hawthorn shade,
The whitewashed cottage, where the woodbine grew,
And all the favourite haunts our childhood knew!
How sweet, while all the evil shuns the gaze,
To view the unclouded skies of former days!
Beloved age of innocence and smiles,
When each wing'd hour some new delight beguiles.
When the gay heart, to life's sweet dayspring true,
Still finds some insect pleasure to pursue.
Bless'd Childhood, hail!--Thee simply will I sing,
And from myself the artless picture bring;
These long-lost scenes to me the past restore,
Each humble friend, each pleasure now no more,
And every stump familiar to my sight
Recalls some fond idea of delight.
This shrubby knoll was once my favourite seat;
Here did I love at evening to retreat,
And muse alone, till in the vault of night,
Hesper, aspiring, show'd his golden light.
Here once again, remote from human noise,
I sit me down to think of former joys;
Pause on each scene, each treasured scene, once more,
And once again each infant walk explore,
While as each grove and lawn I recognize,
My melted soul suffuses in my eyes.
And oh! thou Power, whose myriad trains resort
To distant scenes, and picture, them to thought;
Whose mirror, held unto the mourner's eye,
Flings to his soul a borrow'd gleam of joy;
Bless'd Memory, guide, with finger nicely true,
Back to my youth my retrospective view;
Recall with faithful vigour to my mind
Each face familiar, each relation kind;
And all the finer traits of them afford,
Whose general outline in my heart is stored.
In yonder cot, along whose mouldering walls
In many a fold the mantling woodbine falls,
The village matron kept her little school,
Gentle of heart, yet knowing well to rule;
Staid was the dame, and modest was her mien;
Her garb was coarse, yet whole, and nicely clean;
Her neatly border'd cap, as lily fair,
Beneath her chin was pinn'd with decent care;
And pendent ruffles, of the whitest lawn,
Of ancient make, her elbows did adorn.
Faint with old age, and dim were grown her eyes,
A pair of spectacles their want supplies;
These does she guard secure, in leathern case,
From thoughtless wights, in some unweeted place.
Here first I enter'd, though with toil and pain,
The low vestibule of learning's fane;
Enter'd with pain, yet soon I found the way,
Though sometimes toilsome, many a sweet display.
Much did I grieve on that ill fated morn
When I was first to school reluctant borne;
Severe I thought the dame, though oft she tried
To soothe my swelling spirits when I sigh'd;
And oft, when harshly she reproved, I wept,
To my lone corner broken-hearted crept,
And thought of tender home, where anger never kept.
But soon inured to alphabetic toils,
Alert I met the dame with jocund smiles;
First at the form, my task for ever true,
A little favourite rapidly I grew:
And oft she stroked my head with fond delight,
Held me a pattern to the dunce's sight;
And as she gave my diligence its praise,
Talk'd of the honours of my future days.
Oh! had the venerable matron thought
Of all the ills by talent often brought;
Could she have seen me when revolving years
Had brought me deeper in the vale of tears,
Then had she wept, and wish'd my wayward fate
Had been a lowlier, an unlettered state;
Wish'd that, remote from worldly woes and strife,
Unknown, unheard, I might have pass'd through life.
Where in the busy scene, by peace unbless'd,
Shall the poor wanderer find a place of rest?
A lonely mariner on the stormy main,
Without a hope the calms of peace to gain;
Long toss'd by tempests o'er the world's wide shore,
When shall his spirit rest to toil no more?
Not till the light foam of the sea shall lave
The sandy surface of his unwept grave.
Childhood, to thee I turn, from life's alarms,
Serenest season of perpetual calms,--
Turn with delight, and bid the passions cease,--
And joy to think with thee I tasted peace.
Sweet reign of innocence, when no crime defiles,
But each new object brings attendant smiles;
When future evils never haunt the sight,
But all is pregnant with unmix'd delight;
To thee I turn from riot and from noise,
Turn to partake of more congenial joys.
'Neath yonder elm, that stands upon the moor,
When the clock spoke the hour of labour o'er,
What clamorous throngs, what happy groups were
In various postures scattering o'er the green!
Some shoot the marble, others join the chase seen,
Of self-made stag, or run the emulous race;
While others, seated on the dappled grass,
With doleful tales the light-wing'd minutes pass.
Well I remember how, with gesture starch'd,
A band of soldiers oft with pride we march'd;
For banners to a tall ash we did bind
Our handkerchiefs, flapping to the whistling wind;
And for our warlike arms we sought the mead,
And guns and spears we made of brittle reed;
Then, in uncouth array, our feats to crown,
We storm'd some ruin'd pigsty for a town.
Pleased with our gay disports, the dame was wont
To set her wheel before the cottage front,
And o'er her spectacles would often peer,
To view our gambols, and our boyish gear.
Still as she look'd, her wheel kept turning round,
With its beloved monotony of sound.
When tired with play, we'd set us by her side
(For out of school she never knew to chide),
And wonder at her skill--well known to fame--
For who could match in spinning with the dame?
Her sheets, her linen, which she show'd with pride
To strangers, still her thriftness testified;
Though we poor wights did wonder much, in troth,
How't was her spinning manufactured cloth.
Oft would we leave, though well beloved, our play
To chat at home the vacant hour away.
Many's the time I' we scamper'd in the glade,
To ask the promised ditty from the maid,
Which well she loved, as well she knew to sing,
While we around her form'd a little ring:
She told of innocence foredoom'd to bleed,
Of wicked guardians bent on bloody deed,
Or little children murder'd as they slept;
While at each pause we wrung our hands and wept.
Sad was such tale, and wonder much did we
Such hearts of stone there in the world could be.
Poor simple wights, ah! little did we ween
The ills that wait on man in life's sad scene!
Ah, little thought that we ourselves should know
This world's a world of weeping and of woe!
Beloved moment! then 'twas first I caught
The first foundation of romantic thought!
Then first I shed bold Fancy's thrilling tear,
Then first that poesy charm'd mine infant ear.
Soon stored with much of legendary lore,
The sports of childhood charm'd my soul no more.
Far from the scene of gaiety and noise,
Far, far from turbulent and empty joys,
I hied me to the thick overarching shade,
And there, on mossy carpet, listless laid,
While at my feet the rippling runnel ran,
The days of wild romance antique I'd scan;
Soar on the wings of fancy through the air,
To realms of light, and pierce the radiance there.
* * * * *
There are who think that Childhood does not share
With age the cup, the bitter cup, of care:
Alas! they know not this unhappy truth,
That every age, and rank, is born to ruth.
From the first dawn of reason in the mind,
Man is foredoomed the thorns of grief to find;
At every step has farther cause to know
The draught of pleasure still is dash'd with woe.
Yet in the youthful breast, for ever caught
With some new object for romantic thought,
The impression of the moment quickly flies,
And with the morrow every sorrow dies.
How different manhood!--then does Thought's control
Sink every pang still deeper in the soul;
Then keen Affliction's sad unceasing smart
Becomes a painful resident in the heart;
And care, whom not the gayest can outbrave,
Pursues its feeble victim to the grave.
Then, as each long known friend is summon'd hence,
We feel a void no joy can recompense,
And as we weep o'er every new-made tomb,
Wish that ourselves the next may meet our doom.
Yes, Childhood, thee no rankling woes pursue,
No forms of future ill salute thy view,
No pangs repentant bid thee wake to weep,
But halcyon peace protects thy downy sleep,
And sanguine Hope, through every storm of life,
Shoots her bright beams, and calms the internal strife.
Yet e'en round childhood's heart, a thoughtless shrine,
Affection's little thread will ever twine;
And though but frail may seem each tender tie,
The soul foregoes them but with many a sigh.
Thus, when the long expected moment came,
When forced to leave the gentle-hearted dame,
Reluctant throbbings rose within my breast,
And a still tear my silent grief express'd.
When to the public school compelled to go,
What novel scenes did on my senses flow?
There in each breast each active power dilates,
Which 'broils whole nations, and convulses states;
Their reigns, by turns alternate, love and hate,
Ambition burns, and factious rebels prate;
And in a smaller range, a smaller sphere,
The dark deformities of man appear.
Yet there the gentler virtues kindred claim,
There Friendship lights her pure untainted flame,
There mild Benevolence delights to dwell,
And sweet Contentment rests without her cell;
And there, 'mid many a stormy soul, we find
The good of heart, the intelligent of mind.
'T was there, O George! with thee I learn'd to join
In Friendship's bands--in amity divine.
Oh, mournful though!--Where is thy spirit now?
As here I sit on favorite Logar's brow,
And trace below each well remember'd glade,
Where arm in arm, erewhile with thee I stray'd.
Where art thou laid--on what untrodden shore,
Where nought is heard save ocean's sullen roar?
Dost thou in lowly, unlamented state,
At last repose from all the storms of fate?
Methinks I see thee struggling with the wave,
Without one aiding hand stretch'd out to save;
See thee convulsed, thy looks to heaven bend,
And send thy parting sigh unto thy friend:
Or where immeasurable wilds dismay,
Forlorn and sad thou bend'st thy weary way,
While sorrow and disease, with anguish rife,
Consume apace the ebbing springs of life.
Again I see his door against thee shut,
The unfeeling native turn thee from his hut;
I see thee, spent with toil and worn with grief,
Sit on the grass, and wish the long'd relief;
Then lie thee down, the stormy struggle o'er,
Think on thy native land--and rise no more!
Oh! that thou couldst, from thine august abode,
Survey thy friend in life's dismaying road,
That thou couldst see him, at this moment here,
Embalm thy memory with a pious tear,
And hover o'er him as he gazes round,
Where all the scenes of infant joys surround.
Yes! yes! his spirit's near!--The whispering breeze
Conveys his voice sad sighing on the trees;
And lo! his form transparent I perceive,
Borne on the gray mist of the sullen eve:
He hovers near, clad in the night's dim robe,
While deathly silence reigns upon the globe.
Yet ah! whence comes this visionary scene?
'T is Fancy's wild aërial dream I ween:
By her inspired, when reason takes its flight,
What fond illusions beam upon the sight!
She waves her hand, and lo! what forms appear!
What magic sounds salute the wondering ear!
Once more o'er distant regions do we tread,
And the cold grave yields up its cherish'd dead;
While, present sorrows banish'd far away,
Unclouded azure gilds the placid day,
Or, in the future's cloud-encircled face,
Fair scenes of bliss to come we fondly trace,
And draw minutely every little wile,
Which shall the feathery hours of time beguile.
So when forlorn, and lonesome at her gate,
The Royal Mary solitary sate,
And view'd the moonbeam trembling on the wave,
And heard the hollow surge her prison lave,
Towards France's distant coast she bent her sight,
For there her soul had wing'd its longing flight;
There did she form full many a scheme of joy,
Visions of bliss unclouded with alloy,
Which bright thro' Hope's deceitful optics beam'd,
And all became the surety which it seem'd;
She wept, yet felt, while all within was calm,
In every tear a melancholy charm.
To yonder hill, whose sides, deform'd and steep,
Just yield a scanty sustenance to the sheep,
With thee, my friend, I oftentimes have sped,
To see the sun rise from his healthy bed;
To watch the aspect of the summer morn,
Smiling upon the golden fields of corn,
And taste, delighted, of superior joys,
Beheld through sympathy's enchanted eyes:
With silent admiration oft we view'd
The myriad hues o'er heaven's blue concave strew'd;
The fleecy clouds, of every tint and shade,
Round which the silvery sunbeam glancing play'd,
And the round orb itself, in azure throne,
Just peeping o'er the blue hill's ridgy zone;
We mark'd delighted, how with aspect gay,
Reviving Nature hail'd returning day;
Mark'd how the flowerets rear'd their drooping heads,
And the wild lambkins bounded o'er the meads,
While from each tree, in tones of sweet delight,
The birds sung pasans to the source of light:
Oft have we watch'd the speckled lark arise,
Leave his grass bed, and soar to kindred skies,
And rise, and rise, till the pain'd sight no more
Could trace him in his high aërial tour;
Though on the ear, at intervals, his song
Came wafted slow the wavy breeze along;
And we have thought how happy were our lot,
Bless'd with some sweet, some solitary cot,
Where, from the peep of day, till russet eve
Began in every dell her forms to weave,
We might pursue our sports from day to day,
And in each other's arms wear life away.
At sultry noon too, when our toils were done,
We to the gloomy glen were wont to run;
There on the turf we lay, while at our feet
The cooling rivulet rippled softly sweet;
And mused on holy theme, and ancient lore,
Of deeds, and days, and heroes now no more;
Heard, as his solemn harp Isaiah swept,
Sung woe unto the wicked land--and wept;
Or, fancy-led, saw Jeremiah mourn
In solemn sorrow o'er Judea's urn.
Then to another shore perhaps would rove,
With Plato talk in his Ilyssian grove;
Or, wandering where the Thespian palace rose,
Weep once again o'er fair Jocasta's woes.
Sweet then to us was that romantic band,
The ancient legends of our native land--
Chivalric Britomart, and Una fair,
And courteous Constance, doom'd to dark despair,
By turns our thoughts engaged; and oft we talk'd
Of times when monarch superstition stalk'd,
And when the blood-fraught galliots of Rome
Brought the grand Druid fabric to its doom:
While, where the wood-hung Meinai's waters flow,
The hoary harpers pour'd the strain of woe.
While thus employed, to us how sad the bell
Which summon'd us to school! 'T was Fancy's knell,
And, sadly sounding on the sullen ear,
It spoke of study pale, and chilling fear.
Yet even then, (for oh! what chains can bind,
What powers control, the energies of mind!)
E'en then we soar'd to many a height sublime,
And many a day-dream charm'd the lazy time.
At evening too, how pleasing was our walk,
Endear'd by Friendship's unrestrained talk,
When to the upland heights we bent our way.
To view the last beam of departing day;
How calm was all around! no playful breeze
Sigh'd 'mid the wavy foliage of the trees,
But all was still, save when, with drowsy song,
The gray-fly wound his sullen horn along;
And save when, heard in soft, yet merry glee,
The distant church bells' mellow harmony;
The silver mirror of the lucid brook,
That 'mid the tufted broom its still course took;
The rugged arch, that clasp'd its silent tides,
With moss and rank weeds hanging down its sides;
The craggy rock, that jutted on the sight;
The shrieking bat, that took its heavy flight;
All, all was pregnant with divine delight.
We loved to watch the swallow swimming high,
In the bright azure of the vaulted sky;
Or gaze upon the clouds, whose colour'd pride
Was scatter'd thinly o'er the welkin wide,
And tinged with such variety of shade,
To the charm'd soul sublimest thoughts convey'd.
In these what forms romantic did we trace,
While Fancy led us o'er the realms of space!
Now we espied the Thunderer in his car,
Leading the embattled seraphim to war,
Then stately towers descried, sublimely high,
In Gothic grandeur frowning on the sky--
Or saw, wide stretching o'er the azure height,
A ridge of glaciers in mural white,
Hugely terrific.--But those times are o'er,
And the fond scene can charm mine eyes no more;
For thou art gone, and I am left below,
Alone to struggle through this world of woe.
The scene is o'er--still seasons onward roll,
And each revolve conducts me toward the goal;
Yet all is blank, without one soft relief,
One endless continuity of grief;
And the tired soul, now led to thoughts sublime,
Looks but for rest beyond the bounds of time.
Toil on, toil on, ye busy crowds, that pant
For hoards of wealth which ye will never want:
And lost to all but gain, with ease resign
The calms of peace and happiness divine!
Far other cares be mine--Men little crave
In this short journey to the silent grave;
And the poor peasant, bless'd with peace and health,
I envy more than Croesus with his wealth.
Yet grieve not I, that Fate did not decree
Paternal acres to await on me;
She gave me more, she placed within my breast
A heart with little pleased--with little bless'd:
I look around me, where, on every side,
Extensive manors spread in wealthy pride;
And could my sight be borne to either zone,
I should not find one foot of land my own.
But whither do I wander? shall the muse,
For golden baits, her simple theme refuse?
Oh, no! but while the weary spirit greets
The fading scenes of childhood's far gone sweets,
It catches all the infant's wandering tongue,
And prattles on in desultory song.
That song must close--the gloomy mists of night
Obscure the pale stars' visionary light,
And ebon darkness, clad in vapoury wet,
Steals on the welkin in primæval jet.
The song must close.--Once more my adverse lot
Leads me reluctant from this cherish'd spot:
Again compels to plunge in busy life,
And brave the hateful turbulence of strife.
Scenes of my youth--ere my unwilling feet
Are turn'd for ever from this loved retreat.
Ere on these fields, with plenty cover'd o'er,
My eyes are closed to ope on them no more,
Let me ejaculate, to feeling due,
One long, one last affectionate adieu.
Grant that, if ever Providence should please
To give me an old age of peace and ease,
Grant that, in these sequester'd shades, my days
May wear away in gradual decays:
And oh! ye spirits, who unbodied play,
Unseen upon the pinions of the day,
Kind genii of my native fields benign,
* * * * *
 This appears to be one of the Author's earliest productions: written
when about the age of fourteen.
A DIVINE POEM.
I sing the Cross!--Ye white-robed angel choirs,
Who know the chords of harmony to sweep,
Ye who o'er holy David's varying wires
Were wont, of old, your hovering watch to keep,
Oh, now descend! and with your harpings deep,
Pouring sublime the full symphonious stream
Of music, such as soothes the saint's last sleep,
Awake my slumbering spirit from its dream,
And teach me how to exalt the high mysterious theme.
Mourn! Salem, mourn! low lies thine humbled state,
Thy glittering fanes are level'd with the ground!
Fallen is thy pride!--Thine halls are desolate!
Where erst was heard the timbrels' sprightly sound,
And frolic pleasures tripp'd the nightly round,
There breeds the wild fox lonely,--and aghast
Stands the mute pilgrim at the void profound,
Unbroke by noise, save when the hurrying blast
Sighs, like a spirit, deep along the cheerless waste.
It is for this, proud Solyma! thy towers
Lie crumbling in the dust; for this forlorn
Thy genius wails along thy desert bowers,
While stern Destruction laughs, as if in scorn,
That thou didst dare insult God's eldest born;
And, with most bitter persecuting ire,
Pursued his footsteps till the last day dawn
Rose on his fortunes--and thou saw'st the fire
That came to light the world, in one great flash expire.
Oh! for a pencil dipp'd in living light,
To paint the agonies that Jesus bore!
Oh! for the long lost harp of Jesse's might,
To hymn the Saviour's praise from shore to shore;
While seraph hosts the lofty pæan pour,
And Heaven enraptured lists the loud acclaim!
May a frail mortal dare the theme explore?
May he to human ears his weak song frame?
Oh! may he dare to sing Messiah's glorious name.
Spirits of pity! mild crusaders, come!
Buoyant on clouds around your minstrel float,
And give him eloquence who else were dumb,
And raise to feeling and to fire his note!
And thou, Urania! who dost still devote
Thy nights and days to God's eternal shrine,
Whose mild eyes 'lumined what Isaiah wrote,
Throw o'er thy Bard that solemn stole of thine,
And clothe him for the fight with energy divine.
When from the temple's lofty summit prone,
Satan, o'ercome, fell down; and 'throned there,
The son of God confess'd in splendour shone:
Swift as the glancing sunbeam cuts the air,
Mad with defeat, and yelling his despair,
* * * * *
Fled the stern king of Hell--and with the glare
Of gliding meteors, ominous and red,
Shot athwart the clouds that gather'd round his head.
Right o'er the Euxine, and that gulf which late
The rude Massagetæ adored, he bent
His northering course, while round, in dusky state
The assembling fiends their summon'd troops augment;
Clothed in dark mists, upon their way they went,
While as they pass'd to regions more severe,
The Lapland sorcerer swell'd with loud lament
The solitary gale; and, fill'd with fear,
The howling dogs bespoke unholy spirits near.
Where the North Pole, in moody solitude,
Spreads her huge tracks and frozen wastes around,
There ice-rocks piled aloft, in order rude,
Form a gigantic hall, where never sound
Startled dull Silence' ear, save when profound
The smoke-frost mutter'd: there drear Cold for aye
Thrones him,--and, fix'd on his primæval mound,
Ruin, the giant, sits; while stern Dismay
Stalks like some woe-struck man along the desert way.
In that drear spot, grim Desolation's lair,
No sweet remain of life encheers the sight;
The dancing heart's blood in an instant there
Would freeze to marble.--Mingling day and night
(Sweet interchange, which makes our labours light)
Are there unknown; while in the summer skies
The sun rolls ceaseless round his heavenly height,
Nor ever sets till from the scene he flies,
And leaves the long bleak night of half the year to rise.
'T was there, yet shuddering from the burning lake,
Satan had fix'd their next consistory,
When parting last he fondly hoped to shake
Messiah's constancy,--and thus to free
The powers of darkness from the dread decree
Of bondage brought by him, and circumvent
The unerring ways of Him whose eye can see
The womb of Time, and, in its embryo pent,
Discern the colours clear of every dark event.
Here the stern monarch stay'd his rapid flight,
And his thick hosts, as with a jetty pall,
Hovering obscured the north star's peaceful light,
Waiting on wing their haughty chieftain's call.
He, meanwhile, downward, with a sullen fall,
Dropp'd on the echoing ice. Instant the sound
Of their broad vans was hush'd, and o'er the hall,
Vast and obscure, the gloomy cohorts bound,
Till, wedged in ranks, the seat of Satan they surround.
High on a solium of the solid wave,
Prank'd with rude shapes by the fantastic frost,
He stood in silence;--now keen thoughts engrave
Dark figures on his front; and, tempest-toss'd,
He fears to say that every hope is lost.
Meanwhile the multitude as death are mute;
So, ere the tempest on Malacca's coast,
Sweet Quiet, gently touching her soft lute,
Sings to the whispering waves the prelude to dispute.
At length collected, o'er the dark Divan
The arch fiend glanced as by the Boreal blaze
Their downcast brows were seen, and thus began
His fierce harangue:--"Spirits! our better days
Are now elapsed; Moloch and Belial's praise
Shall sound no more in groves by myriads trod.
Lo! the light breaks;--The astonish'd nations gaze,
For us is lifted high the avenging rod!
For, spirits! this is He,--this is the Son of God!
"What then!--shall Satan's spirit crouch to fear?
Shall he who shook the pillars of God's reign
Drop from his unnerved arm the hostile spear?
Madness! The very thought would make me fain
To tear the spanglets from yon gaudy plain,
And hurl them at their Maker!--Fix'd as Fate
I am his foe!--Yea, though his pride should deign
To soothe mine ire with half his regal state,
Still would I burn with fix'd unalterable hate.
"Now hear the issue of my cursed emprize.
When from our last sad synod I took flight,
Buoyed with false hopes, in some deep-laid disguise,
To tempt this vaunted Holy One to write
His own self-condemnation; in the plight
Of aged man in the lone wilderness,
Gathering a few stray sticks, I met his sight;
And, leaning on my staff, seem'd much to guess
What cause could mortal bring to that forlorn recess.
"Then thus in homely guise I featly framed
My lowly speech:--'Good Sir, what leads this way
Your wandering steps? must hapless chance be blamed
That you so far from haunt of mortals stray?
Here have I dwelt for many a lingering day.
Nor trace of man have seen: but how! methought
Thou wert the youth on whom God's holy ray
I saw descend in Jordan, when John taught
That he to fallen man the saving promise brought.'
"'I am that man,' said Jesus, 'I am He.
But truce to questions--Canst thou point my feet
To some low hut, if haply such there be
In this wild labyrinth, where I may meet
With homely greeting, and may sit and eat;
For forty days I have tarried fasting here,
Hid in the dark glens of this lone retreat,
And now I hunger; and my fainting ear
Longs much to greet the sound of fountains gushing near.'
"Then thus I answer'd wily:--'If, indeed,
Son of our God thou be'st, what need to seek
For food from men?--Lo! on these flint stones feed,
Bid them be bread! Open thy lips and speak,
And living rills from yon parch'd rock will break'
Instant as I had spoke, his piercing eye
Fix'd on my face;--the blood forsook my cheek,
I could not bear his gaze;--my mask slipp'd by;
I would have shunn'd his look, but had not power to fly.
"Then he rebuked me with the holy word--
Accursed sounds; but now my native pride
Return'd, and by no foolish qualm deterr'd,
I bore him from the mountain's woody side
Up to the summit, where extending wide
Kingdoms and cities, palaces and fanes,
Bright sparkling in the sunbeams, were descried,
And in gay dance, amid luxuriant plains,
Tripp'd to the jocund reed the emasculated swains.
"'Behold,' I cried, 'these glories! scenes divine!
Thou whose sad prime in pining want decays;
And these, O rapture! these shall all be thine,
If thou wilt give to me, not God, the praise.
Hath he not given to indigence thy days?
Is not thy portion peril here and pain?
Oh! leave his temples, shun his wounding ways!
Seize the tiara! these mean weeds disdain,
Kneel, kneel, thou man of woe, and peace and splendour gain.'
"'Is it not written,' sternly he replied,
'Tempt not the Lord thy God!' Frowning he spake,
And instant sounds, as of the ocean tide,
Rose, and the whirlwind from its prison brake,
And caught me up aloft, till in one flake
The sidelong volley met my swift career,
And smote me earthward.--Jove himself might quake
At such a fall; my sinews crack'd, and near,
Obscure and dizzy sounds seem'd ringing in mine ear.
"Senseless and stunn'd I lay; till casting round
My half unconscious gaze, I saw the foe
Borne on a car of roses to the ground,
By volant angels; and as sailing slow
He sunk the hoary battlement below,
While on the tall spire slept the slant sunbeam,
Sweet on the enamour'd zephyr was the flow
Of heavenly instruments. Such strains oft seem,
On star-light hill, to soothe the Syrian shepherd's dream.
"I saw blaspheming. Hate renew'd my strength;
I smote the ether with my iron wing,
And left the accursed scene.--Arrived at length
In these drear halls, to ye, my peers! I bring
The tidings of defeat. Hell's haughty king
Thrice vanquished, baffled, smitten, and dismay'd!
O shame! Is this the hero who could fling
Defiance at his Maker, while array'd,
High o'er the walls of light, rebellion's banners play'd!
"Yet shall not Heaven's bland minions triumph long;
Hell yet shall have revenge. O glorious sight,
Prophetic visions on my fancy throng,
I see wild Agony's lean finger write
Sad figures on his forehead!--Keenly bright
Revenge's flambeau burns! Now in his eyes
Stand the hot tears,--immantled in the night,
Lo! he retires to mourn!--I hear his cries!
He faints--he falls--and lo!--'t is true, ye powers, he dies."
Thus spake the chieftain,--and as if he view'd
The scene he pictured, with his foot advanced
And chest inflated, motionless he stood,
While under his uplifted shield he glanced,
With straining eyeball fix'd, like one entranced,
On viewless air;--thither the dark platoon
Gazed wondering, nothing seen, save when there danced
The northern flash, or fiend late fled from noon,
Darken'd the disk of the descending moon.
Silence crept stilly through the ranks.--The breeze
Spake most distinctly. As the sailor stands,
When all the midnight gasping from the seas
Break boding sobs, and to his sight expands
High on the shrouds the spirit that commands
The ocean-farer's life; so stiff--so sear
Stood each dark power;--while through their numerous bands
Beat not one heart, and mingling hope and fear
Now told them all was lost, now bade revenge appear.
One there was there, whose loud defying tongue
Nor hope nor fear had silenced, but the swell
Of over-boiling malice. Utterance long
His passion mock'd, and long he strove to tell
His labouring ire; still syllable none fell
From his pale quivering lip, but died away
For very fury; from each hollow cell
Half sprang his eyes, that cast a flamy ray,
* * * * *
"This comes," at length burst from the furious chief,
"This comes of distant counsels! Here behold
The fruits of wily cunning! the relief
Which coward policy would fain unfold,
To soothe the powers that warr'd with Heaven of old!
O wise! O potent! O sagacious snare!
And lo! our prince--the mighty and the bold,
There stands he, spell-struck, gaping at the air,
While Heaven subverts his reign, and plants her standard there."
Here, as recovered, Satan fix'd his eye
Full on the speaker; dark it was and stern;
He wrapp'd his black vest round him gloomily,
And stood like one whom weightiest thoughts concern.
Him Moloch mark'd, and strove again to turn
His soul to rage. "Behold, behold," he cried,
"The lord of Hell, who made these legions spurn
Almighty rule--behold he lays aside
The spear of just revenge, and shrinks, by man defied."
Thus ended Moloch, and his burning tongue
Hung quivering, as if [mad] to quench its heat
In slaughter. So, his native wilds among,
The famish'd tiger pants, when, near his seat,
Press'd on the sands, he marks the traveller's feet.
Instant low murmurs rose, and many a sword
Had from its scabbard sprung; but toward the seat
Of the arch-fiend all turn'd with one accord,
As loud he thus harangued the sanguinary horde.
* * * * *
"Ye powers of Hell, I am no coward. I proved
this of old: who led your forces against the armies
of Jehovah? Who coped with Ithuriel and the
thunders of the Almighty? Who, when stunned
and confused ye lay on the burning lake, who first
awoke, and collected your scattered powers? Lastly,
who led you across the unfathomable abyss to this
delightful world, and established that reign here
which now totters to its base? How, therefore,
dares yon treacherous fiend to cast a stain on Satan's
bravery? he who preys only on the defenceless--who
sucks the blood of infants, and delights only in
acts of ignoble cruelty and unequal contention.
Away with the boaster who never joins in action,
but, like a cormorant, hovers over the field, to feed
upon the wounded, and overwhelm the dying. True
bravery is as remote from rashness as from hesitation;
let us counsel coolly, but let us execute our
counselled purposes determinately. In power we
have learned, by that experiment which lost us
Heaven, that we are inferior to the Thunder-bearer:--In
subtlety, in subtlety alone we are his equals.
Open war is impossible.
* * * * *
"Thus we shall pierce our conqueror through the race
Which as himself he loves; thus if we fall,
We fall not with the anguish, the disgrace,
Of falling unrevenged. The stirring call
Of vengeance rings within me! Warriors all,
The word is vengeance, and the spur despair.
Away with coward wiles!--Death's coal-black pall
Be now our standard!--Be our torch the glare
Of cities fired! our fifes, the shrieks that fill the air!"
Him answering rose Mecashpim, who of old,
Far in the silence of Chaldea's groves,
Was worshipp'd, God of Fire, with charms untold
And mystery. His wandering spirit roves,
Now vainly searching for the flame it loves;
And sits and mourns like some white-robed sire,
Where stood his temple, and where fragrant cloves
And cinnamon unheap'd the sacred pyre,
And nightly magi watch'd the everlasting fire.
He waved his robe of flame, he cross'd his breast,
And sighing--his papyrus scarf survey'd,
Woven with dark characters, then thus address'd
The troubled council.
* * * * *
Thus far have I pursued my solemn theme
With self-rewarding toil, thus far have sung
Of godlike deeds, far loftier than beseem
The lyre which I in early days have strung:
And now my spirit's faint, and I have hung
The shell, that solaced me in saddest hour,
On the dark cypress! and the strings which rung
With Jesus' praise, their harpings now are o'er,
Or, when the breeze comes by, moan and are heard no more.
And must the harp of Judah sleep again?
Shall I no more reanimate the lay?
Oh! thou who visitest the sons of men,
Thou who dost listen when the humble pray,
One little space prolong my mournful day!
One little lapse suspend thy last decree!
I am a youthful traveller in the way,
And this slight boon would consecrate to thee,
Ere I with Death shake hands, and smile that I am free.
* * * * *
LINES WRITTEN ON A SURVEY OF THE HEAVENS,
IN THE MORNING BEFORE DAYBREAK.
Ye many twinkling stars, who yet do hold
Your brilliant places in the sable vault
Of night's dominions!--Planets, and central orbs
Of other systems!--big as the burning sun
Which lights this nether globe,--yet to our eye
Small as the glowworm's lamp!--To you I raise
My lowly orisons, while, all bewilder'd,
My vision strays o'er your ethereal hosts;
Too vast, too boundless for our narrow mind,
Warp'd with low prejudices, to unfold,
And sagely comprehend. Thence higher soaring,
Through ye I raise my solemn thoughts to Him,
The mighty Founder of this wondrous maze,
The great Creator! Him! who now sublime,
Wrapt in the solitary amplitude
Of boundless space, above the rolling spheres
Sits on his silent throne and meditates.
The angelic hosts, in their inferior Heaven,
Hymn to the golden harps his praise sublime,
Repeating loud, "The Lord our God is great,"
In varied harmonies.--The glorious sounds
Roll o'er the air serene--The Æolian spheres,
Harping along their viewless boundaries,
Catch the full note, and cry, "The Lord is great,"
Responding to the Seraphim. O'er all
From orb to orb, to the remotest verge
Of the created world, the sound is borne,
Till the whole universe is full of Him.
Oh! 'tis this heavenly harmony which now
In fancy strikes upon my listening ear,
And thrills my inmost soul. It bids me smile
On the vain world, and all its bustling cares,
And gives a shadowy glimpse of future bliss.
Oh! what is man, when at ambition's height,
What even are kings, when balanced in the scale
Of these stupendous worlds! Almighty God!
Thou, the dread author of these wondrous works!
Say, canst thou cast on me, poor passing worm,
One look of kind benevolence?--Thou canst:
For Thou art full of universal love,
And in thy boundless goodness wilt impart
Thy beams as well to me as to the proud,
The pageant insects of a glittering hour.
Oh! when reflecting on these truths sublime,
How insignificant do all the joys,
The gaudes, and honours of the world appear!
How vain ambition! Why has my wakeful lamp
Outwatch'd the slow-paced night!--Why on the page,
The schoolman's labour'd page, have I employ'd
The hours devoted by the world to rest,
And needful to recruit exhausted nature?
Say, can the voice of narrow Fame repay
The loss of health? or can the hope of glory
Lend a new throb into my languid heart,
Cool, even now, my feverish aching brow,
Relume the fires of this deep sunken eye,
Or paint new colours on this pallid cheek?
Say, foolish one--can that unbodied fame,
For which thou barterest health and happiness,
Say, can it soothe the slumbers of the grave?
Give a new zest to bliss, or chase the pangs
Of everlasting punishment condign?
Alas! how vain are mortal man's desires!
How fruitless his pursuits! Eternal God!
Guide thou my footsteps in the way of truth,
And oh! assist me so to live on earth,
That I may die in peace, and claim a place
In thy high dwelling.--All but this is folly,
The vain illusions of deceitful life.
LINES SUPPOSED TO BE SPOKEN BY A LOVER
AT THE GRAVE OF HIS MISTRESS.
OCCASIONED BY A SITUATION IN A ROMANCE.
Mary, the moon is sleeping on thy grave,
And on the turf thy lover sad is kneeling,
The big tear in his eye.--Mary, awake,
From thy dark house arise, and bless his sight
On the pale moonbeam gliding. Soft, and low.
Pour on the silver ear of night thy tale,
Thy whisper'd tale of comfort and of love,
To soothe thy Edward's lorn, distracted soul,
And cheer his breaking heart.--Come, as thou didst,
When o'er the barren moors the night wind howl'd,
And the deep thunders shook the ebon throne
Of the startled night!--O! then, as lone reclining,
I listen'd sadly to the dismal storm,
Thou on the lambent lightnings wild careering
Didst strike my moody eye;--dead pale thou wert,
Yet passing lovely.--Thou didst smile upon me,
And oh! thy voice it rose so musical,
Betwixt the hollow pauses of the storm,
That at the sound the winds forgot to rave,
And the stern demon of the tempest, charm'd,
Sunk on his rocking throne to still repose,
Lock'd in the arms of silence.
Spirit of her!
My only love! O! now again arise,
And let once more thine aëry accents fall
Soft on my listening ear. The night is calm,
The gloomy willows wave in sinking cadence
With the stream that sweeps below. Divinely swelling
On the still air, the distant waterfall
Mingles its melody;--and, high above,
The pensive empress of the solemn night,
Fitful, emerging from the rapid clouds,
Shows her chaste face in the meridian sky.
No wicked elves upon the Warlock-knoll
Dare now assemble at their mystic revels.
It is a night when, from their primrose beds,
The gentle ghosts of injured innocents
Are known to rise and wander on the breeze,
Or take their stand by the oppressor's couch,
And strike grim terror to his guilty soul.
The spirit of my love might now awake,
And hold its custom'd converse.
Thy Edward kneels upon thy verdant grave,
And calls upon thy name. The breeze that blows
On his wan cheek will soon sweep over him
In solemn music a funereal dirge,
Wild and most sorrowful. His cheek is pale,
The worm that prey'd upon thy youthful bloom
It canker'd green on his. Now lost he stands,
The ghost of what he was, and the cold dew,
Which bathes his aching temples, gives sure omen
Of speedy dissolution. Mary, soon
Thy love will lay his pallid cheek to thine,
And sweetly will he sleep with thee in death.
A LETTER IN HUDIBRASTIC VERSE.
You bid me, Ned, describe the place
Where I, one of the rhyming race,
Pursue my studies con amore,
And wanton with the muse in glory.
Well, figure to your senses straight,
Upon the house's topmost height,
A closet just six feet by four,
With whitewash'd walls and plaster floor.
So noble large, 'tis scarcely able
To admit a single chair and table:
And (lest the muse should die with cold)
A smoky grate my fire to hold:
So wondrous small, 'twould much it pose
To melt the icedrop on one's nose;
And yet so big, it covers o'er
Full half the spacious room and more.
A window vainly stuff'd about,
To keep November's breezes out,
So crazy, that the panes proclaim
That soon they mean to leave the frame.
My furniture I sure may crack--
A broken chair without a back;
A table wanting just two legs,
One end sustain'd by wooden pegs;
A desk--of that I am not fervent,
The work of, Sir, your humble servant;
(Who, though I say't, am no such fumbler;)
A glass decanter and a tumbler,
From which my night-parch'd throat I lave,
Luxurious, with the limpid wave.
A chest of drawers, in antique sections,
And saw'd by me in all directions;
So small, Sir, that whoever views 'em
Swears nothing but a doll could use 'em.
To these, if you will add a store
Of oddities upon thee floor,
A pair of globes, electric balls,
Scales, quadrants, prisms, and cobbler's awls,
And crowds of books, on rotten shelves,
Octavos, folios, quartos, twelves;
I think, dear Ned, you curious dog,
You'll have my earthly catalogue.
But stay,--I nearly had left out
My bellows destitute of snout;
And on the walls,--Good Heavens! why there
I've such a load of precious ware,
Of heads, and coins, and silver medals,
And organ works, and broken pedals;
(For I was once a-building music,
Though soon of that employ I grew sick);
And skeletons of laws which shoot
All out of one primordial root;
That you, at such a sight, would swear
Confusion's self had settled there.
There stands, just by a broken sphere,
A Cicero without an ear,
A neck, on which, by logic good,
I know for sure a head once stood;
But who it was the able master
Had moulded in the mimic planter,
Whether 't was Pope, or Coke, or Burn,
I never yet could justly learn:
But knowing well, that any head
Is made to answer for the dead,
(And sculptors first their faces frame,
And after pitch upon a name,
Nor think it aught of a misnomer
To christen Chaucer's busto Homer,
Because they both have beards, which, you know,
Will mark them well from Joan, and Juno,)
For some great man, I could not tell
But Neck might answer just as well,
So perch'd it up, all in a row
With Chatham and with Cicero.
Then all around, in just degree,
A range of portraits you may see,
Of mighty men and eke of women,
Who are no whit inferior to men.
With these fair dames, and heroes round,
I call my garret classic ground.
For though confined, 't will well contain
The ideal flights of Madam Brain.
No dungeon's walls, no cell confined
Can cramp the energies of mind!
Thus, though my heart may seem so small,
I've friends, and 't will contain them all;
And should it e'er become so cold
That these it will no longer hold,
No more may Heaven her blessings give,
I shall not then be fit to live.
DESCRIPTION OF A SUMMER'S EVE.
Down the sultry arc of day
The burning wheels have urged their way;
And eve along the western skies
Sheds her intermingling dyes.
Down the deep, the miry lane,
Creaking comes the empty wain,
And driver on the shaft-horse sits,
Whistling now and then by fits:
And oft, with his accustom'd call,
Urging on the sluggish Ball.
The barn is still, the master's gone,
And thresher puts his jacket on,
While Dick, upon the ladder tall,
Nails the dead kite to the wall.
Here comes shepherd Jack at last,
He has penn'd the sheepcote fast,
For 't was but two nights before,
A lamb was eaten on the moor:
His empty wallet Rover carries,
Nor for Jack, when near home, tarries.
With lolling tongue he runs to try
If the horse-trough be not dry.
The milk is settled in the pans,
And supper messes in the cans;
In the hovel carts are wheel'd,
And both the colts are drove a-field;
The horses are all bedded up,
And the ewe is with the tup.
The snare for Mister Fox is set,
The leaven laid, the thatching wet,
And Bess has slink'd away to talk
With Roger in the holly walk.
Now, on the settle all, but Bess,
Are set to eat their supper mess;
And little Tom and roguish Kate
Are swinging on the meadow gate.
Now they chat of various things,
Of taxes, ministers, and kings,
Or else tell all the village news,
How madam did the squire refuse;
How parson on his tithes was bent,
And landlord oft distrain'd for rent.
Thus do they talk, till in the sky
The pale-eyed moon is mounted high,
And from the alehouse drunken Ned
Had reel'd--then hasten all to bed.
The mistress sees that lazy Kate
The happing coal on kitchen grate
Has laid--while master goes throughout,
Sees shutters fast, the mastiff out,
The candles safe, the hearths all clear,
And nought from thieves or fire to fear;
Then both to bed together creep,
And join the general troop of sleep.
Written impromptu, on reading the following passage in Mr. Capel
Lofft's beautiful and interesting Preface to Nathaniel Bloomfield's
Poems, just published:--"It has a mixture of the sportive, which deepens
the impression of its melancholy close. I could have wished, as I have
said in a short note, the conclusion had been otherwise. The sours of
life less offend my taste than its sweets delight it."
Go to the raging sea, and say, "Be still!"
Bid the wild lawless winds obey thy will;
Preach to the storm, and reason with Despair,
But tell not Misery's son that life is fair.
Thou, who in Plenty's lavish lap hast roll'd,
And every year with new delight hast told,
Thou, who, recumbent on the lacquer'd barge,
Hast dropt down joy's gay stream of pleasant marge,
Thou mayst extol life's calm untroubled sea,
The storms of misery never burst on thee.
Go to the mat, where squalid Want reclines,
Go to the shade obscure, where merit pines;
Abide with him whom Penury's charms control,
And bind the rising yearnings of his soul,
Survey his sleepless couch, and, standing there,
Tell the poor pallid wretch that life is fair!
Press thou the lonely pillow of his head,
And ask why sleep his languid eyes has fled;
Mark his dew'd temples, and his half shut eye,
His trembling nostrils, and his deep drawn sigh,
His muttering mouth contorted with despair,
And ask if Genius could inhabit there.
Oh, yes! that sunken eye with fire once gleam'd,
And rays of light from its full circlet stream'd:
But now Neglect has stung him to--the core,
And Hope's wild raptures thrill his breast no more;
Domestic Anguish winds his vitals round,
And added Grief compels him to the ground.
Lo! o'er his manly form, decay'd and wan,
The shades of death with gradual steps steal on;
And the pale mother, pining to decay,
Weeps for her boy her wretched life away.
Go, child of Fortune! to his early grave,
Where o'er his head obscure the rank weeds wave;
Behold the heart-wrung parent lay her head
On the cold turf, and ask to share his bed.
Go, child of Fortune, take thy lesson there,
And tell us then that life is wondrous fair!
Yet, Lofft, in thee, whose hand is still stretch'd forth,
To encourage genius, and to foster worth;
On thee, the unhappy's firm, unfailing friend,
'T is just that every blessing should descend;
'T is just that life to thee should only show
Her fairer side but little mix'd with woe.